He Zhan stood in front of him, without a game in his hands or intention of starting a bonfire.
"You can't even satisfy a dying person's last request. How cruel." Su Ziye said seriously while staring at him.
He Zhan shrugged, saying, "I have good news, and …"
"Bad news," Su Ziye interrupted quickly.
He Zhan said, "The bad news is that we don't have any meat, and the good news is that I happened to meet an acquaintance nearby."
To think that he would be able to meet an acquaintance in a wild forest on an empty mountain. Who would believe it?
Su Ziye sighed, "You are still willing to chat with me under the circumstances; it's obvious that you were waiting for someone from the very beginning."
He Zhan said apologetically, "I was afraid that if I let you know beforehand, you might not accept."
"I'm someone in the deviant sects, not an old guy of the One-Cottage House who doesn't eat enemy's food."
Su Ziye continued, "Ask him to show himself. I'm always curious about what kind of person your friend is."
Someone walked out from behind the tree. He wasn't too young, but his eyes and brows were still soft, looking like a child.
Back in the chess tournament of the Plum Meeting years ago, He Zhan had almost allured De Sese to change sides with a barbecued fish.
Someone like him should have many friends in the Cultivation circle.
But friends were all different from each other.
Yet, it was lucky for He Zhan that his most famous friends were two of his true friends.
It was interesting to note that these two friends didn't know each other, and they belonged to two antagonistic sides.
He Zhan wouldn't let two of them meet each other under the normal circumstances, but it was a special day.
He wasn't sure who else he could trust save for Tong Yan.
"Why is your face green?"
This was Tong Yan's first remark.
"My father had planted a demon embryo in my mother's body; in the end, the demon embryo was saved, but she died."
Su Ziye continued, "I'm that demon embryo, born with the corpse poison; that's why I have the green color all over my body."
His voice was very calm, the explanation concise.
Yet, the darkest night had arrived in the wild forest.
The mountain wind was so cold that it felt like being pierced into the bones.
After a silent pause, Tong Yan asked while looking at this face, "Why has it turned purple?"
Su Ziye answered, "The Corpse Ash has mixed with my born corpse poison in the body, so my bodily color has gone through a little change."
"How long can you hold out?" asked Tong Yan.
Su Ziyue said, "The purple basil leaves look fine to me. If they were put in the Yizhou pickle jar for three days, then they would taste pretty good with the steamed white rice."
Tong Yan said, "The Baotong Zen Temple doesn't have any meat, but they have white rice. If I ask them, they should be able to offer us the steamed white rice."
Su Ziye said after a moment of silence, "Only if you agree that I pay for the rice."
"Of course I do. But you don't have any money on you; so you have to work for a while to pay the debt off," said Tong Yan.
"Okay," Su Ziyue said.
"Enough already. Isn't it tiresome to talk like this?"
He Zhan had remained reticent by the side; but he couldn't stand it anymore, swearing a little. "I admit you two are the smartest people in the world. I'm not your equal; so I am the number three, okay?"
"Not okay. You can only be ranked fourth."
Pointing to the sky that was cut into pieces by the tree branches, Tong Yan said, "It's because Jing Jiu is ranked ahead of you."
Following his finger to gaze at the sky, Su Ziye said with a smile, "If I could survive it, I'd like to go to the Green Mountain to find out what kind of person he is."
Chaotian had welcomed the spring, but it was still very cold in some other places.
In the barren field, one could merely see those yellowish dry moss and some wild willows occasionally, but the leaves on the willows were mostly eaten by the animals.
As a result, they looked like the stony mountains in the distance.
The Cold Mountain was really cold, where the air coming out from the speakers' mouths would turn into the white fog, looking like a libation for somebody.
The inner conflict had already ended within the Mysterious Dark Sect. A young man named Wang Xiaoming was appointed as the new young master of the sect by the elders, after some vehement struggles.
It was interesting, or heartbreaking, to note that the Sect Master of the Mysterious Dark Sect who had been mad and paralyzed for scores of years was still alive.
"You promised me that they would compete fairly; why did you ask the Old Ones to assassinate him?"
The speaker was a short and thin old man with a red nose, though the redness had nothing to do with the coldness; he was angry.
He was the famous hidden swordsman: the Grandmaster of the Mysterious Dark Sect.
Since he came out from the sunless underground, he had had only one person to talk to.
Yin San said with an embarrassed expression, "I didn't expect the disciple of your disciple was so outstanding; so I had no choice but to do a little more."
The grandmaster of the Mysterious Dark Sect paused silently for a while before asking, "Since the Old Ones listen to you, why did you have Wei Chenzi killed?"
"The muddier the water, the better. All I'm doing is to achieve my goal."
Yin San continued, "Little Layue is the disciple of my Green Mountain. An imbecile of the Center Sect is not qualified to kill her."
The grandmaster of the Mysterious Dark Sect said, "What on earth is the relationship between you and the Old Ones?"
"I'll tell you the day when the Old Ones are totally gone," said Yin San.
The grandmaster of the Mysterious Dark Sect was at a loss, asking, "Do you intend to eliminate the Old Ones?"
Shaking his head, Yin San said, "Not me. It's those children who want to do it."
The grandmaster of the Mysterious Dark Sect asked, "Why do you want to help them?"
Ying San said with a smile, "If my Young Brother were still alive, he would think it's meaningless; but I like the thought of it."
Having said this, he raised the bone flute to his mouth.
The yak headed to the wildness in the distance with him on the back, the sound of the flute resonating in the air.
De Sese had left.
The dusk had arrived.
The excitement of the Inherited Sword Competition hadn't totally subdued yet.
Standing by the cliff's edge, one could still hear the laughter of the young girls on the opposite peak.
He thought back then that Shenmo Peak was too close to Qingrong Peak.
White Ghost and Cold Cicada were sleeping in the manor cave.
Jing Jiu was standing by the cliff's edge, rather than lying on the bamboo chair, a rare occurrence.
He was looking at the Green Mountains shone by the starlight, reflecting on something.
Zhao Layue walked out from the manor cave and arrived at his side.
"I'm the most suitable person for an assassination," said Jing Jiu.
This remark was utterly out of the blue.
Yet, it reminded Zhao Layue of the scene that the two of them killed Zhuo Yi on Sword Peak many years ago, thinking that he would indeed be a good assassin.
Jing Jiu continued, "I suddenly had this idea when I was pursuing the snow foot monsters in the snowland that night."
"Are you saying that you should have played the role of Liu Shisui in the assassination?" Zhao Layue pressed.
"I wouldn't do it," said Jing Jiu.
"Because you're lazy?" prompted Zhao Layue.
Jing Jiu said, "It's because doing these things is meaningless."
"Why?" asked Zhao Layue.
Jing Jiu said, "If one lives long enough, they will realize that the happenings in the world are mostly boring repetitions, and no true change has ever occurred."
Zhao Layue shot him a glance and pointed toward Liangwang Peak in the distance.
Liangwang Peak, like Shenmo Peak, had only one single mountain path.
There were lights on the both sides of the path for every hundred feet, looking like two parallel light lines from a distance. The light lines twisted around according to the mountain terrains, and rose up gradually till the peak top.
Jing Jiu understood what she meant, saying, "The path ends when it reaches the top. To continue, it has to go downward again; it's still repetition."
The lights were on all night on Liangwang Peak that day. The purpose was to show several new disciples, who were taken at the Inherited Sword Competition the day before the hazardous mountain terrain in the dark night.
Normally, it was the moment that Guo Nanshan, Gu Han, Jian Ruyun and the disciples of Liangwang Peak would give some instructions to the new disciples, but they didn't do it that evening.
It was because You Siluo, ranked second on Liangwang Peak, had come out from behind closed doors, and asked a difficult question.
"What the heck is going on with Liu Shisui?"
His gaze darted back and forth from one Brother to another.
Nobody answered him, and Gu Han hesitated.
Guo Nanshan patted Gu Han's shoulder, as he said, "Let me explain."
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