Amid the flames that seemed to have the intention of burning down the dark night, there was a pair of eyes staring at Jing Jiu. The eyes were full of resentment and lethal intent.
These two emotions were so strong that they seemed to be able to materialize and come out of the Sun Banner.
There were few people in the world who wanted to kill Jing Jiu, but that still meant a few did.
Still, it was rare that someone would show such a hostility and lethal intent toward him.
Jing Jiu looked at that spot calmly; the expression in his eyes grew increasingly sharp, resembling a real sword.
The mountain gate of the Mysterious Dark Sect was located in the deep end of the distant Cold Mountain.
It was the late night, but it was still very dry in the valley, devoid of any dampness. This had something to do with the fire source underground and the Sun Banner.
The Mysterious Dark Sect had been very cautious lately since changing the name of sect to "Church." The Great Formation of the mountain gate had been activated in advance.
Someone was looking out at the distance, hiding at the edge of a high platform in the cliff, reflecting on something; the back of him took on a lonely look.
There was a soft bed at the far end of the manor cave. The former sect master of the Mysterious Dark Sect, Su Qige, had been lying on the bed since he was paralyzed.
Gao Ya stood by the bed, staring down at Su Qige's eyes. "Even if all of your wishes were fulfilled, you still couldn't be the church master!" he said in a low voice.
As the only remaining elder of the seventh generation of the Mysterious Dark Sect, Gao Ya had a high Cultivation state. He had had control of the Mysterious Dark Sect over the last two years, but now his face now lacked the confidence had before, and this was because the control he thought he had was a falsehood.
Su Qige said icily, "I have even given up my own son. Do you think I would care about the title of the church master?!"
Gao Ya said tersely, "You'd better hope that the Windy-Broadsword Sect and the Kunlun Sect don't strike; otherwise, you would be the one responsible for the destruction of the sect if something happened the mountain gate."
Su Qige said, "Cao Yuan was full of deviant energy even before he became the Broadsword King; and the Kunlun Sect has been weak for many years. Now that the Sun Banner is out, I don't think the swordsman He of the Kunlun would dare come here."
Gao Ya retorted, "But you shouldn't forget that the Kunlun's backer is the Center Sect."
Su Qige said with drooping eyelids, "Since the event of the Fiend Prison, the Green Mountain and the Center Sect have been paying close attention to Zhaoge City; they won't pay any heed to us."
It was his idea to change the name of sect to church. He had outlined his reasons for the change many times already. He thought that the Mysterious Dark Sect should take the opportunity to make themselves more noticeable, to attract more highly achieved swordsmen of the deviant sects and the free-travel practitioners to strengthen the sect. Yet, they shouldn't expand their territory in the process, and should especially avoid angering the major orthodox sects.
Though the plan sounded sensible enough; it was just not very practical to have it actually carried out.
The look on Gao Ya's face was terrible. As he was about to further denounce Su Qige, he suddenly felt something, and turned around to look at the outside of the valley, saying, "Someone is spying on us."
As soon as he said these words, the wind rose in the valley.
The wind was very dry, like a shapeless flame sweeping over everything.
Neither Gao Ya nor Su Qige on the bed could breathe easily.
A blindingly bright light wrapped around the entire valley; but the back figure at the edge of the platform was not swallowed by the light; it appeared even darker.
The Sun Banner rose up from the underground fire source, growing with the wind. It turned into countless flames, rolling over and smothering the band of black smoke ten miles away.
Gao Ya was shocked by the scene, unable to calm himself.
He had seen clearly that the black smoke was a famous free-travel practitioner on Cold Mountain.
Though the free-travel practitioner was not as strong as he was, their Cultivation states were close in strength. Somehow, the practitioner had no way to resist the assault of the Sun Banner, and died a noiseless death!
Gao Ya and Su Qige exchanged a glance, recognizing the uneasiness in each other's eyes. They stopped squabbling between themselves.
One of them was the former sect master, and the other was the elder of the seventh generation, so they were familiar with the Sun Banner. However, they had a strange feeling that day.
When the Sun Banner was in their hands, it could only be used as the foundation of the mountain gate formation to defend themselves against external attacks. It had never been so terrifying and powerful.
The reason was simple. The secret method of the Mysterious Dark Sect of controlling the Sun Banner had been lost a long time ago…
Su Qige, as the sect master, couldn't even make the Sun Banner recognize him as its master.
It wasn't until that person came to the Mysterious Dark Sect that the secret method was back at the sect.
The expression in Gao Ya's and Su Qige's eyes was complicated while they looked at the back figure at the edge of the platform.
Gao Ya was quite happy in the beginning when he found that that person had the ancient magic methods of the Mysterious Dark Sect. He planned to use him to drive away Su Ziye and then set him up as a puppet.
Su Qige had a similar idea.
They both failed.
That person was determined and relentless, far beyond his actual age. He seemed like a natural-born devil man.
In the end, he ignored the ideas of Gao Ya and Su Qige altogether and brought the whole of the Mysterious Dark Sect under his control.
"There is a flying sword of the Green Mountain Sect in the distance," that person said phlegmatically.
Gao Ya said abruptly, "Please be careful, Sect Master!"
Su Qige said almost at the same time, "Please give it a second thought, Sect Master!"
Even though the strength of the Sun Banner had increased and the Mysterious Dark Sect was more powerful now, it was the flying sword of the Green Mountain Sect nevertheless; though perhaps they could get away from killing the disciples of other orthodox sects easily.
The Mysterious Dark Sect and the Green Mountain Sect had unsolvable hostility toward each other and feared each other; but if war broke out between them, was the Mysterious Dark Sect prepared to move to another place again?
That person took two steps forward, his body trembling slightly. The fists by the sides of his body were shrouded in black smoke. He seemed very agitated.
He had one crippled leg.
His eyes were full of lethal intent and resentment.
Nobody could see the scene three hundred miles away; but he could see Jing Jiu on the iron sword with the aid of the Sun Banner.
His Cultivation state had greatly improved on the basis of the high level of demonic sword work he had already attained after the Sun Banner recognized him as its master.
In other words, he was very powerful right now.
Hence, he had the urge to rush over and kill Jing Jiu.
He calmed down gradually. His hands were not trembling anymore, and the shrouding black smoke dispersed slowly.
He gave it up because the distance was too far; so he wasn't sure if the Sun Banner could kill Jing Jiu.
"Someday, I'll kill you and Zhao Layue…"
He was Wang Xiaoming.
Soon after his birth, his village was swallowed by the mud slide caused by two Cultivation practitioners fighting with each other.
The official of the Pure Heaven Bureau, Shi Fengchen, saved him and raised him until he was a grown man.
In his youth, he worked as a laborer in the storage house of the Pure Heaven Bureau. He had a friend at work, by the name of Seventy-Two.
At the time, what he liked the most everyday was go to his adopted father's house to cook and feed the chickens.
Twelve years ago, Shi Fengchen paid the assassins of the Old Ones through the Palace of the Prince to assassinate Zhao Layue. He committed suicide in front of Jing Jiu after the debacle of the assassination attempt.
He was the first one to arrive at the scene and witness the tragedy.
He brought the Cultivation instruction left by his adopted father with him and left Zhaoge City; he then spent his time by staying in the ruined temples and treading in the wild fields.
He had a few peculiar encounters under the waterfalls and in the caves. And he even learned the ancient methods of the Mysterious Dark Sect.
With the help of Elder Gao Ya and the secretive cooperation of the former sect master Su Qige, he came to the Mysterious Dark Sect after several trials.
Su Ziye, who was even somewhat feared by Luo Huainan, was driven out by him like a homeless dog; he then fled to the distant West Ocean.
Four years later, he had finally eradicated all the loyal supporters of Su Ziye at the Mysterious Dark Sect and become the mysterious and formidable new sect master. And he would be the future church master soon.
Yet, his goal of Cultivation was very clear and determined; so he was not distracted by other issues and kept his cool the entire time.
Though he knew the hidden agenda of those peculiar encounters, he didn't mind.
The main characters in the stories always followed the similar scripts. Their lives were controlled by a huge hand in the dark; and they would find out the truth someday in the future.
But the main characters in those stories would often crush that huge controlling hand to pieces in the end.
Wang Xiaoming believed that he would be that sort of main character.
He thought he knew more than he was expected to.
"I know you wanted to use this event to draw the attention of more people and push me to the front stage; so you will be able to have another chance during the chaos. I believe you even wish that I'd were killed."
He said this while looking at Su Qige lying on the bed.
"I know that you pretend to squabble with him but have actually formed an alliance with him in secret; and you wish to change me back to the same puppet of yours as I was in the beginning."
He said this while looking at Gao Ya.
It was deadly quiet in the manor cave.
The light in the valley grew dimmer.
Su Qige remained silent.
Gao Ya was startled, because he didn't expect this naïve young man to have figured out the intentions of the two old and clever elders.
"I don't know how to plot schemes; but all I know is that everybody is a stranger in a strange environment, and that the strangers are my enemies."
Wang Xiaoming said to them, "If I regarded everybody as my enemy, I wouldn't be fooled so easily."
After a moment of silence, Gao Ya said, "I'd be really resentful if I died in your hands like this."
He was the elder of the seventh generation of the Mysterious Dark Sect and had a profound Cultivation state; even the swordsmen in the upper state of the Broken Sea at the Green Mountain Sect were not his equal.
Yet, this place was the center of the Mysterious Dark Sect and the center of the Great Formation of mountain gate. Want Xiaoming who possessed the Sun Banner could easily kill him.
"You used me to control the Sun Banner in the beginning, and now you have to accept the fact that I can get the Sun Banner to kill you."
Wang Xiaoming continued, "But it was understandable that you two wanted to kill me; so I'm not angry at you. I can give you one more chance."
Gao Ya changed his expression slightly, and asked, "What should I do then?"
Wang Xiaoming said, "Obey me, and beg for my forgiveness."
"You are not the divine demon."
Su Qige suddenly opened his mouth and said, "I thought I was the divine demon; as a result, I went mad and became a disabled person."
"I'm of course not a divine demon. The divine demon wouldn't have suffered so much pain and torture like me."
Wang Xiaoming continued with a determined expression in his eyes, "I'm just a main character in the story. So I have to withstand all the sufferings in the beginning, and then will get what I want in the end."
The pair of eyes in the Sun Banner disappeared.
Jing Jiu pulled his sight back and closed his eyes again.
The iron sword sped up again to head westward to the deep end of the dark night.
The swordsmen of the Windy-Broadsword Sect, who were left behind by Jing Jiu's flying sword, also sensed the peculiar movement in the deep end of the Cold Mountain.
Seeing the disappearing flames, the swordsmen of the Windy-Broadsword Sect all felt something grave; and they all went to a peak, gathering there.
The Mysterious Dark Sect behaved quite arrogantly. But the real question was, why was the power demonstrated by the Sun Banner so formidable, far more powerful than that recorded in the past two hundred years?
Someone asked, "Was it the Cultivationist He who had passed here earlier?"
The thin and tall swordsman of the Windy-Broadsword Sect replied, "He was a senior master of the Green Mountain Sect; but I don't know which elder he is."
The crowd watched the disappearing black speck in the distance in the darkness of the night, thinking that he was not an ordinary elder since he could travel at such a high speed.
The sound of ocean waves could be heard vaguely up ahead.
Soon after, the sound of ocean waves was as loud as the thunder, assaulting the ears.
Jing Jiu opened his eyes and looked at the ocean in front of him.
It was dawn, and the morning sunlight shone on the surface of the ocean. The ocean water was painted a complicated color by the sunlight. It was hard to say it was blue or golden color; but it gave out an eerie and beautiful feel.
This place was located one thousand miles north of Haizhou City. It was very desolate here. The temperature of the ocean was very cold here, with fewer fish. It was deadly quiet.
Once in a while one could spot a few fat sea animals scattered on the rocks along the coastline; it was not clear what they ate for food.
The iron sword landed on a rock to take a brief rest.
The white cat stuck out his head from Gu Qing's chest and looked at a fat sea animal not far from them curiously, as if he wanted to have a taste of its meat.
Gu Qing held the cat carefully and also shot Jing Jiu a sideway glance.
Jing Jiu didn't say anything since they had left the Cold Mountain.
He sensed that his Master had something on his mind.
This was rare.
"Check out who that person is at the Mysterious Dark Sect after returning to Green Mountain," Jing Jiu suddenly said.
When riding on the flying sword, Jing Jiu wondered who that person wanting to kill him was.
Speaking of his enemies, it would be Tong Lu and those evil men and devil men killed by the Thoughtless Sword during his travel with Zhao Layue, and those in Zhaoge City.
And he didn't forget about those Liu Shisui had offended.
But, he wasn't sure who that person was.
Gu Qing felt somewhat surprised, saying, "Okay. What should we do after checking him out?"
Jing Jiu said, "Kill him if possible."
Back when he and Bai Zao were trapped in the snowland, he thought to use the Thoughtless Sword to send the message to Zhao Layue, telling her to kill Luo Huainan ten years later.
Now that he was outside Green Mountain, he would do it himself.
The large waves suddenly formed on the surface of the ocean, causing thudding sounds after hitting the rocks by the seashore.
Though Jing Jiu's voice was suppressed by the noise, Gu Qing could hear it clearly.
He was taken aback, wondering how they would persuade the Sect Master and the Senior Master Sword Justice if they intended to destroy the headquarters of the Mysterious Dark Sect.
It looked like the task would be carried out by Young Brother Yuan and those monkeys.
The white cat felt bored and yawned once; but he closed his mouth abruptly and looked at the deep end of the ocean, his pupils shrinking to tiny black dots. He was very cautious and alert.
The waves in the ocean grew larger and larger, higher and higher. When they rolled to the seashore, countless snow-like sprays formed.
They could vaguely see a black line in the distance approaching at a very high speed.
Soon they were able to see it clearly, a wall of water thirty feet high.
The iron sword flew up again.
A moment later, a thud like the rumbling thunder could be heard below. The sprays shot up skyward like the sharp arrows, wetting Gu Qing's cloth.
Gu Qing looked at the deep end of the ocean and saw more of the terrifying white waves; his face grew pale.
The violent wind whistled, along with the bloody and salty smell, and something with which Gu Qing was familiar the most: the smell of swords.
In the deep end of the ocean, two powerful swordsmen were engaged in a sword fight.
The waves caused by the two flying swords rolled to the seashore one hundred miles or even several hundred miles away, but still in such a terrifying manner.
One could easily imagine how terrifying it would be to be in the fight.
The Sun Banner, which Gu Qing saw the night before, would be just as formidable with its full force.
Who were fighting there?
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