It was quiet all over the Yingxian Valley.
Seeing Jing Jiu and that small green curtain sedan, the shocked and incredulous expressions formed on people's faces; they thought it was absolutely absurd.
Nan Wang asked Jing Jiu the question everyone present wanted to know, "What the heck are you doing? How can a Green Mountain disciple represent another sect to participate in the competition?"
"Since I can't represent Green Mountain, I have to find another way."
Jing Jiu's voice was very calm. He was just stating a fact, not a hint of emotion in his statement.
Yet, his intention was rather clear; he must participate in the Dao Competition, no matter what.
Nan Wang grew furious and yelled, "You actually want to leave Green Mountain to become a nun at the Water-Moon Nunnery!"
All the people were looking at Jing Jiu and waiting for his reply.
For any Cultivation practitioner, it was the most important thing for them to belong to a sect. What Jing Jiu did was really unfathomable.
But the most unfathomable thing was that the Water-Moon Nunnery had accepted his request.
"Since the Dao Competition doesn't have a rule against it, I can represent any sect in the competition, and I don't have to leave Green Mountain to do so."
Jing Jiu's expression was still calm. It seemed as if he took it for granted, and as if the matter he talked about had nothing to do with absurdity.
A few female disciples of the Hanging-Bell Sect opened their eyes widely, revealing the incredulous expressions; one of them stuttered, "I didn't expect Young Master Jing Jiu to be a…to be a…"
"He is such a shameless person."
Sese said angrily, "He hasn't done the thing he promised me. It has been a great many years!"
Nan Wang was the one who was more disappointed and angrier than anybody else; it was because she had another thought in her mind.
Jing Jiu wanted to represent the Water-Moon Nunnery to participate in the competition, and the Water-Moon Nunnery had actually accepted it. It was well known that Jing Jiu was the personal disciple of Jing Yang; was it the idea of Lian Sanyue?
She couldn't let this sort of thing happen. She waved her sleeve a little, as she intended to knock Jing Jiu unconscious and take him away.
Fang Jingtian took a look of the surroundings and found that those of the Cultivation sects that were not friendly with Green Mountain wore expressions of content, and Yue Qianmen of the Center Sect let loose a seeming smile. "We'll discuss this matter later," he said curtly.
Having said that, Fang Jingtian headed for the residence hidden in the cliff.
He thought that the Green Mountain disciples would follow him to leave and Jing Jiu would be the only one left behind in the same spot.
Unexpectedly, Yao Songshan, Lei Yijing and other disciples of Liangwang Peak walked toward Jing Jiu first. They bowed to him courteously and greeted this little senior master, and then departed.
Fang Jingtian's eyes grew even colder after noticing the scene.
Gu Qing didn't leave, naturally, standing behind Jing Jiu.
The Water-Moon Nunnery group had left, though.
The girl who had been selected to participate in the Dao Competition glared at Jing Jiu, thinking that she would ask the Great Grandmaster to take back the decision.
Jing Jiu led Gu Qing up the mountain, following the Green Mountain group from a distance.
Even though he was to participate in the Dao Competition representing the Water-Moon Nunnery, he was not actually going to betray his sect; so he still wanted to stay at the place for the Green Mountain Sect.
A young woman walked out from the crowd and bowed to the ground in front of Jing Jiu. There were a few cute little freckles on her face.
She was Que Niang of the Mirror Sect, winning the first place in the chess tournament of the Plum Meeting three times in a row.
She considered Tong Yan and Jing Jiu as her Master in the game of Go; so she had to meet him and show her respect.
Jing Jiu nodded slightly and walked past her.
Next, a few disciples of the Great Marsh and the Hanging-Bell Sect came out to bow to Jing Jiu. All of them were the ones Jing Jiu had saved back in the snowland.
Lu Jing, Wu Mingzhong and Yin Qingmo, who were the members of his group in the Cultivation tournament, had come to the Cloud-Dream Mountain as well. They all approached Jing Jiu and bowed to him.
Sese caught up with Jing Jiu like a little bird. "You are pretty good," she said with a hint of both admiration and mockery. "You have even established a friendly relationship with the Water-Moon Nunnery."
"What is your business with me?" asked Jing Jiu.
Sese thought, what about the thing you have promised me? But she saw a white figure suddenly flash past. "Your sweetheart is here. I'll talk to you about the matter later," she said while chuckling.
Jing Jiu understood what Sese meant. The thing she wanted Jing Jiu to do seemed troublesome, so she couldn't tell him under such circumstances.
Gu Qing suddenly said, "Master, I'm waiting for you up ahead."
Jing Jiu uttered "hmm" while looking at the feeble figure of that young woman under the pine tree.
The twilight streamed through the umbrella like pine tree and cast countless stripes of light rays on the two of them.
One wore a flapping white cloth.
Another had the fluttering white dress.
They were indeed a perfect couple.
Seeing this scene, the Cultivation practitioners in the Yingxian Valley grew sentimental.
Those disciples who had participated in the Cultivation tournament back in the snowland recalled a similar scene.
The Cultivation practitioners dispersed gradually and left the pine tree by the cliff's edge and privacy to these two.
Here was the Cloud-Dream Mountain. No one dared make Fairy Lady Bai Zao feel displeased.
"Is Guo…Senior Master okay?"
Bai Zao asked Jing Jiu curiously while looking at him.
If Guo Dong was the senior master Big Brother Tong Yan had guessed, why was she defeated by the Godly Swordsman of West Ocean and saved by Jing Jiu?
She continued before Jing Jiu could respond, "Have you been with her over the last three years? Did you become her disciple so that the Water-Moon Nunnery would agree to let you represent them to participate in the competition?"
She had many questions in her mind, but her questions seemed to answer themselves.
These speculations were sensible and in compliance with her own wishes.
Jing Jiu didn't expect her to have guessed that the person at the West Ocean was him, feeling surprised and saying, "She is fine."
Bai Zao noticed the iron sword on his back and said in surprise, "I sensed that your Cultivation state had improved when we were in Zhaoge City; I thought that the Curtain Rollers had made a mistake."
"I figured that somebody might want to cause me some trouble, so I have concealed my strength on purpose," said Jing Jiu.
He said this in a nonchalant manner, but Bai Zao heard it in a delightful way; it was because this meant he trusted her enough to tell her his secret.
And if it was a few years ago, he wouldn't bother telling her all this in the least. She thought that his attitude toward her had changed quite a bit.
"Are you going to represent the Water-Moon Nunnery to participate in the competition then?"
Bai Zao continued in a worried tone, "I'm afraid that the masters on Green Mountain will not agree to it, and they might get very upset."
"I don't have any masters on Green Mountain," said Jing Jiu.
It was then that Bai Zao remembered that he was the personal disciple of the Immortal Jing Yang, and that it was indeed true that nobody was his master on Green Mountain. She suddenly thought of something and felt a bit relieved after the initial fright. "It's fortunate that we are not in the same sect; otherwise, I would have to call you 'Senior Master'," she said while patting her chest softly.
Jing Jiu thought in his mind that he should be her grandmaster.
Bai Zao said in a serious tone, "I'm not clear about the specific arrangement for the Dao Competition yet, but I'm aware that it might have something to do with the Illusionary Realm of Could-Dream. I'll let you know when I find out more about it."
"Good," Jing Jiu said.
The residence arranged by the Center Sect for Green Mountain was located in the deepest part of the Yingxian Valley; they were a dozen log houses scattered before the cliff.
Those log houses were made from the hardwood, called the "House of Peeled Skin."
The reason the houses had such a horrible name was that the surface of the hardwood was carved countless marks by small knives, forming many beautiful and eerie lines, which resembled the peeled skins of snakes. It had a comfortable feel when touching it by hands; and it was the same when sitting on it.
Gu Qing led Jing Jiu in a log house.
In the rear of the house was a sheer cliff, with the clouds and fog floating below; it looked like a fairy realm.
Jing Jiu shot Gu Qing a look.
Gu Qing called out his flying sword. And the sword drifted down noiselessly among the surrounding space. Countless sword lights formed a dense net that seemed to be made of the silk, and then gradually faded away.
This was one of the moves in the Inherited Heaven Sword style, which could be used to insulate the eavesdropping of spiritual awareness like certain formations.
Jing Jiu was satisfied with his progress in the Cultivation state, and offered some guidance.
"The Inherited Heaven Sword style is the copy and recreation of the formations, but it's a sword style nonetheless. You shouldn't use it with a cautious manner, or it loses its spirit."
Gu Qing listened earnestly, and then said, "Big Brother Zhuo has a better understanding of the Inherited Heaven Sword style; he had employed true sword styles of at least four peaks that day."
"So what? How could he defeat Layue just because he knows a few sword styles?" Jing Jiu exclaimed.
Gu Qing felt he was in an awkward situation. He thought that countless eyes saw Senior Master Zhao lose that day, and how could he answer such a question?
"Big Brother Zhuo is really very strong," Gu Qing said truthfully.
Jing Jiu untied the iron sword and handed it to Gu Qing. He then sat on the floor before the railing, and said while looking at the clouds and fog outside the cliff, "Regardless of how strong he is, he is not as strong as Layue."
Holding the iron sword, Gu Qing wondered how he could continue the conversation.
He suddenly thought of something and said, "I remembered it. Senior Master Zhao said something to Young Brother Yuan before the Sword Trial."
"What did she say?"
"At the time Young Brother Yuan felt a bit dejected because of Wang Xiaoming. Actually, Wang Xiaoming is the Mysterious Dark Church Master. Back then you…"
"Don't mention it if it's not important."
Gu Qing thought that he was someone his Master was determined to kill, and the Curtain Rollers spent several years to check him out; why was it unimportant now?
"At the time, Senior Master Zhao told Young Brother Yuan that the prowess those deviant swordsmen had mostly relied on involved external objects, and if she didn't suppress the Thoughtless Sword she could fight against someone in the Broken Sea State…"
The more Gu Qing thought about it, the more confused he felt, as he continued, "Big Brother Zhuo can't be as strong as someone in the Broken Sea State. If were the case, why would Senior Master Zhao have lost?"
Jing Jiu fell silent for a while before saying suddenly, "This little silly girl; I don't even know what is on her mind."
Gu Qing realized by now why his Master thought the matter regarding Wang Xiaoming was not as important.
It was a rare occasion that his Master revealed his true feelings, but he happened to have heard it…
Gu Qing was so nervous that he didn't know where to put his hands. Fortunately, it was then that the greeting voice of Yao Songshan's burst out in the living room.
The living room of the House of Peeled Skin was full of people.
Fang Jingtian sat at the head, and Nan Wang sat to his left side. Elder Bai Rujing of Tianguang Peak and an elder of Shiyue Peak sat across from her.
The disciples were all standing. Zhuo Rusui, standing in the crowd, was barely noticed.
This was a meeting for the Green Mountain group.
Jing Jiu walked in. He stood in the same spot after checking out the situation in the room, with no intention to show his courtesy.
The atmosphere grew a bit edgy in the room.
Gu Qing looked around, and then brought a chair over and set it to the left of Nan Wang. Afterwards, he drew back to the crowd.
Jing Jiu had been pleased with Gu Qing's behavior, but he was not pleased now when he saw Gu Qing put the chair so close to Nan Wang.
When it came to troublesome people, Lian Sanyue would be the number one.
The number two would be Nan Wang.
Otherwise, why would he have often locked himself up behind closed doors back then? It was actually much better to cultivate by the cliff's edge, since the air was much cleaner there.
At that time, the young woman Nan Wang got herself drunk every night on the top of Qingrong Peak and sang the love songs of the southern barbaric tribes loudly toward the opposite peak.
The opposite side of Qingrong Peak was Shenmo Peak.
It was very noisy.
Jing Jiu sat in the chair while thinking of these things.
The tense atmosphere in the room had abruptly subsided; it grew merely a bit awkward.
The purpose for Gu Qing to move the chair over was to remind all the people in the room that his Master was of the same generation as other four elders.
It was acceptable to discuss the matter; but it was inappropriate to interrogate his Master.
Nan Wang had a hot temper, so she couldn't wait to ask first, "What is the relationship you have with the Water-Moon Nunnery?"
"Nothing," Jing Jiu replied.
Nan Wang rolled her eyes and then pressed, "Why would they agree to such a ridiculous request of yours then?"
Jing Jiu thought about it for a moment and said, "I guess it's because the Immortal Jing Yang had some kind of association with the Water-Moon Nunnery in the past."
This was probably the last answer Nan Wang wanted to hear.
Before she could reprimand Jing Jiu, a furious voice burst out in the room.
Bai Rujing exclaimed sternly, "You are our Green Mountain disciple. How can you represent another sect to participate in the Dao Competition?!"
Even though Jing Jiu didn't give it much thought when answering Nan Wang's question, he didn't even bother taking a look at this person.
Bai Rujing grew even more furious, yelling, "It's impossible for you to do it, unless you want to be expelled from the mountain gate!"
Jing Jiu still didn't pay any attention to him. All he did was look at the floor quietly.
In the crowd, Zhuo Rusui also looked at the floor with drooping eyelids.
Everybody in the room was looking at Fang Jingtian, save for the two who were looking at the floor and Gu Qing who had left the room unnoticed.
As someone who ranked behind the Immortal Sect Master and the Sword Justice Yuan Qijing on Green Mountain, Fang Jingtian was the one who was most qualified to make the final decision in the room.
Fang Jingtian said with an emotionless expression, "It doesn't make sense at all. Unless you don't consider yourself a Green Mountain disciple, in which case, yes, you could do it."
Jing Jiu still paid no attention.
The discussion turned into a situation where one side asked questions and spoke their mind, but another side didn't respond. The atmosphere grew even more awkward in the room.
Gu Qing walked in with a teacup in his hand. He set the teacup on the tea table by Jing Jiu.
The awkward atmosphere was alleviated slightly.
Though Jing Jiu thought it was unnecessary to do so on Gu Qing's part, he picked up the teacup and had a sip since he didn't want to disappoint his disciple.
Bai Rujing was even more irritated as he pointed his finger at Gu Qing and said, "All you know is how to butter up your Master; how can you attain the Dao?! It is truly 'like masters, like disciples'!"
By now Gu Qing not only had a good reputation on the nine peaks of Green Mountain, but also a good reputation in the entire Cultivation circle.
He was the teacher of the Prince Jing Yao, and he conducted every matter with great care, keeping the affairs of Shenmo Peak in good order.
Yet, there were some negative talk about him, like accusing him of flattering his Master a bit too much.
Though Gu Qing didn't care about such gossips, the comment came out from a master of Green Mountain that day; it was different this time.
Gu Qing's expression changed a little, but he didn't say a word.
Jing Jiu set down the teacup and stared at Bai Rujing. "Do you know how to teach disciples?" he demanded.
What he referred to was of course Liu Shisui.
Most of those in the room were the disciples of Liangwang Peak, so they were all familiar with the matter.
Liu Shisui returned to Green Mountain as a big hero in the battle of the Cloud Platform.
Bai Rujing, who was extremely unsympathetic when Liu Shisui was accused of wrong doing, intended to retake Liu as his personal disciple, but he was refused by Liu Shisui.
Bai Rujing lost face big time.
All nine peaks of Green Mountain knew that this matter shouldn't be mentioned in front of Bai Rujing.
But Jing Jiu did it.
Bai Rujing said with a slightly red face, "At least I didn't bring up a disciple who was locked up in the Sword…"
Jing Jiu couldn't stand listening to it any longer; he stood up.
Others didn't have apparent reactions; but the pupils in Fang Jingtian's eyes shrank slightly.
Jing Jiu turned around and walked to the outside of the room.
Gu Qing followed him, naturally.
This seemingly impolite behavior actually revealed his determination.
He didn't care about the result of this meeting.
Nobody was qualified to judge whether he was the Green Mountain disciple or not.
"It's preposterous! Preposterous!"
Bai Rujing yelled angrily, "When Big Brother Sect Master is here, we must punish this man severely! No, we have to expel him, right out of the mountain gate!"
Nan Wang shot a sideways look at Bai Rujing, wondering if he was an idiot.
Fang Jingtian remained silent. He thought that even though he knew Jing Jiu was not the Little Senior Master, why did he feel a bit apprehensive the moment Jing Jiu stood up?
The Center Sect had invited all the sects to their celebration. Countless Cultivation practitioners had gathered here.
For many free-travel practitioners and those of small sects, it was a rare opportunity for them to observe the event and listen to all sorts of Cultivation ideas, though they were not qualified to participate in the Dao Competition. This experience would help them a great deal in the future Cultivation. It was said that the Center Sect Master, the Immortal Tan, and the Green Mountain Sect Master, the Immortal Liu, would discuss their Cultivation ideas in person. The Great Grandmaster of the Water-Moon Nunnery was the only one who politely refused the invitation to give a speech.
It was indeed an exceptional opportunity to be able to hear two of the top figures in the Heavenly Arrival State to talk about their Cultivation ideas, and maybe to be able to witness their demonstration of their magic methods.
Jing Jiu told Gu Qing that he didn't need to serve him, and he should go to the teachings and listen to them for a few days.
Jing Jiu wouldn't go there of course. He sat by the railing and looked at the valley shrouded in the clouds, mulling over things.
He thought that everybody should go to the teachings of the two immortals so that he wouldn't be disturbed; but he didn't expect to hear the ringing of silver bell along with the mountain wind.
Sese came to his side and asked sullenly, "Are you going to complete the task you promised me?"
"Yes, I am," Jing Jiu replied.
Sese let out a naïve and cheerful smile. "Help me kill the grandmaster," she said.
Jing Jiu shot her a look.
He had seen many weird things, and heard many unbelievable requests; but this was the first time when somebody asked him to kill her own grandmother…
After some thought, Jing Jiu said, "Okay."
Sese was very pleased, letting out the laughter like the ringing of a silver bell.
The silver bell on her wrist also rang lightly, as if it was laughing as well.
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