413 The Small Pond after Twenty-Three Years
Liu Shisui recognized him, feeling surprised, and he soon showed a genuine delight to see him, yelling, "Grandmaster…I mean, Senior Master, how are you!"
When he had just come to the Fruit Formation Temple to study the Buddhist methods, he couldn't understand the essence of the scripts in the scrolls in the least, and it wasn't until Yin San instructed him that Liu Shisui finally understood the contents of the scripts. As a result, the conflict of the zhenqi inside his body was suppressed. After explaining the scripts to him, Yin San had disappeared from his life. Liu Shisui often missed him. It was natural that he feel excited to see him that day.
Liu Shisui thought Yin San must be a highly achieved monk at the Fruit Formation Temple, so he called him "Grandmaster" reflexively; but then he thought of how Yin San asked for wine to drink, so he must have made a mistake. Yin San must be a highly achieved swordsman invited by his Young Master. As such, Liu Shisui called him "Senior Master" instead.
Yin San smiled faintly to indicate that there was no need for the courtesy, then sat down by the table. Seeing the abundant foods and dishes, Yin San found that the little vixen had improved in her cooking a great deal. He nodded satisfactorily and remarked, "These dishes are good enough to go with the wine."
It was then that Xiao He walked in with a bowl in her hand. She also felt surprised and glad to see Yin San.
Unlike Liu Shisui, though, she wasn't as delighted. She didn't want a changing factor to be added in their peaceful life in the vegetable garden.
Yin San glanced at the bowl in her hand and found it was a bowl of pickles, which looked good with the mixture of the green bamboo roots and the red radish, exuding a fragrant sour smell. He felt even more satisfied after seeing this, and said, "I will have a bowl of rice after drinking some wine."
Xiao He bowed with a small smile and set the bowl of pickles on the table. Then she went to the kitchen, where she took out a set of clean bowl and chopsticks and filled it up with the steamed rice.
Yin San picked up the wine cup and took a sip, and found the wine was average, even a little bit weak; but he didn't care so much too much, and drank the rest of the wine with one gulp.
Liu Shisui filled up the cup with wine for him hurriedly.
Yin San didn't eat any dishes, but drank another cup of wine. It was interesting to note that the way he drank wine indicated that he took it for granted.
Back when the turmoil occurred in the Fiend Prison and the Underworld Emperor killed the Old Dragon a few years, he played a piece of music and drank a cup of wine that night. He also played a piece of music tonight, and he especially wanted to drink wine.
After drinking two cups of wine, Yin San picked up the chopsticks, selected the dishes he liked and put them in his bowl. He ate in a leisurely manner, and occasionally took a piece of the red radish to clean his mouth.
"Didn't the Young Zen Master write a letter for you to go to the One-Cottage House? Why didn't you go there?" Yin San suddenly looked at Liu Shisui and asked.
By now Liu Shisui was more certain that Yin San was a highly achieved monk at the Fruit Formation Temple or a friend of the Young Master's. He replied with an apologetic smile, but didn't say anything.
On the Cloud-Dream Mountain, Jing Jiu had asked him the same question. He didn't even say anything then, so it would be impossible for him to say anything now.
Yin San let out a small smile and changed the topic, "What are your thoughts on the experiences in the Dao Competition?"
Thinking of his Cultivation and the career as a bodyguard in that world, Liu Shisui found it was really simple and boring, so he couldn't come up with anything meaningful. "I don't have any thoughts on it," he replied apologetically.
"What about Jing Jiu?" Yin San asked.
Without a second thought, Liu Shisui said directly, "The Young Master behaved the same as he did in the outside world."
Yin San remained silent for a moment and then commented, "That's good."
On a cliff platform on the Cloud-Dream Mountain, the autumn trees looked like the golden crowns, a few golden leaves falling down in the wind.
Standing under a tree, Tong Yan looked at the dream-like ocean of clouds outside the cliff, pondering something.
With a delicate small alcohol jar in his hand, Tong Yan would lift it up to have a sip of the wine from the jar each time a leaf fell down from the tree.
The Cultivation practitioners drank wine differently from mortals, as they needed some precious items accompanying their drinking.
He Zhan made a copy of his recipe regarding how to barbecue fish before he went to White Town. He barbecued hundreds of fish according to the recipe, but Tong Yan found his barbecued fish didn't taste as good as those barbecued by He Zhan, which is why he gave it everything he had.
The items he was using to accompany his drinking were not those falling yellow leaves, but the Go pieces held in his left hand.
The Go pieces collided with each other and rotated in his hand, making crisp and deep sounds that were quite pleasing to the ears. As far as Tong Yan was concerned, these Go pieces were just as good as a delicious dish to go with the wine.
He played Go less and less; it was because he felt that it was no longer challenging.
Nobody in the world could defeat him in the game of Go, and yet he couldn't defeat Jing Jiu no matter what, neither in this world nor in the Illusionary Realm of the Green Sky Mirror.
And it happened that the way Jing Jiu played the game was so uninteresting…
One would want to drink alcohol when they felt bored; so they wouldn't think of using the Zhenyuan to mitigate the effect of the alcohol. By the time the seventieth yellow leaf fell down from the tree, Tong Yan finally felt a bit drunk.
It was a wonderful sensation when one was a little bit drunk, feeling like drifting in the air as a fairy man.
Tong Yan thought that it was unnecessary to cultivate so hard in order to ascend and become the immortal; and all mortals needed to do was to drink a few jars of good wine to achieve the same effect.
He wondered if it was worth the effort to seek the distant and unpredictable path toward heaven.
He stepped on top of the railing with the alcohol jar in his hand and leaped up into the air, drifting away along with the wind. After passing through the clouds and fog for a long while, Tong Yan arrived in a remote and quiet valley.
This place was on the edge of the Cloud-Dream Mountain, and close to the Forbidding Formation; so fewer disciples of the Center Sect would come here.
It was perhaps because of this reason that Luo Huainan had built his secret manor cave at this location.
Tong Yan dismantled three layers of the forbidding formation outside the manor cave and walked in with the alcohol jar in his hand. The crystals emitted light when encountering the fresh wind, illuminating the simple and clean adornment in the cave.
After the death of Luo Huainan, this secret manor cave became his. The Immortal Tan and the Immortal Bai should have known what he had done in secret, but they kept silent about it; so they wouldn't care about this small manor cave.
Tong Yan walked to the front of the stone table, and looked at the small green vase, remaining silent for a while.
The small green vase was the last resort Luo Huainan had prepared for his Yuanying; and Luo Huainan had died undoubtedly in this vase.
Tong Yan spilled some wine on the ground out of the alcohol jar, and then sat down to drink in a leisurely manner.
As time passed by, his drunkenness grew. As he was about to fall asleep with his hand supporting his head and his elbows resting on the stone table, he suddenly heard a noise.
The sound was very faint, like a flame in the violent wind, which could go out at any moment.
Tong Yan lifted his head briskly, his eyes bright and devoid of any hint of drunkenness.
This cave was in a remote location and close to the Great Formation of Cloud-Dream, not to mention the forbidding formations that insulated the manor cave from the outside; why could he hear the noise?
The sound seemed very close, as if it were right inside his palm.
Was this caused by the magic of a deviant swordsman?
Tong Yan thought with a baffled expression on his face that the Godly Lady of the Bloody Demon Church couldn't even have this capability back then, let alone the Royal Concubine Hu in the Royal Palace.
Yet, he believed this wasn't his delusion, and he didn't drink too much. He summoned the zhenyuan into his ears and listened carefully.
After a long while, his earlobe quivered slightly; he was eventually able to hear the noise again.
The sound was indeed very weak, the voice shivering, as if it was from an extremely cold place; and…it seemed that he had heard of this sound somewhere before.
He listened silently for a long time; at last he could comprehend what the voice intended to convey.
"Young man…save me…"
"The chess playing young man…it's me…"
Tong Yan's eyebrows raised; they in fact lifted a great deal, standing straight up.
He had recognized the voice.
It was the spirit of the Green Sky Mirror.
She was the little girl called the Green Girl.
That little girl had come out to play with him during his childhood; and he even saw her in the small building in the Huiyin Valley just a few days ago.
When the Dao Competition was over, he asked his Master to let him go to the Huiyin Valley to see her, but his request was refused by his Master…
The spirit of the Green Sky Mirror should be in the Huiyin Valley, but why did her voice ring out inside his mind?
Was it possible that he had really drunk too much wine today? Or had he produced some sort of mental demon because of his failure in the chess playing or his thought on the death of Luo Huainan?
Tong Yan's face suddenly turned pale; it wasn't because he had drunk too much, nor was he scared of the mental demon. It was because he had truly heard the sorrowful cry of the Green Girl.
He figured it out.
The voice didn't come from his mind, but from a stony crack in the manor cave.
Nobody knew that this secret manor cave built by Luo Huainan had a secret tunnel leading to the Earth Source in the deep end of the Great Formation of Cloud Dream.
The stony crack was the entrance to the secret tunnel.
But why would the weak voice come out from there?
Was it possible that the Green Sky Mirror had been suppressed in the deep end of the Earth Source?
The Green Sky Mirror was the true heavenly treasure, and its status in the Center Sect was similar to that of the Unicorn and the late Old Dragon; the two Masters were the only ones who could make such a decision.
What had this little girl done to deserve such a punishment?
Tong Yan was specialized in chess games, and as such, he was strongly calculative. He had figured out the truth in a short time, and also come up with a conclusion: This was not something he should meddle with.
He set down the alcohol jar on the stone table, got up and headed for the outside of the cave without hesitation.
Sensing his departure, the voice in the deep end of the underground had gradually faded away, giving off a feel of extreme despair. Everything returned to quietness.
As Tong Yan came to the outside of the manor cave, he tossed a jade board into the air.
The jade board left behind a light residual in the sky as it headed toward a place on the Cloud-Dream Mountain, bring his spiritual awareness to Bai Zao.
"I've decided to stay behind closed doors based on the experiences I had gained in the Illusionary Realm of the Green Sky Mirror. It's not clear when I will come out."
He reactivated the three layers of the forbidding formation, turned around and walked back inside the manor cave. Then he formed another layer of shielding formation, before he walked to the front of the stony wall. He remained silent for a long time while staring at the stony crack.
Soon after, he had the second conclusion: This was an impossible task.
The Earth Source was connected to the Great Formation of Cloud-Dream. If he wanted to sneak into the deep end of the Earth Source, he couldn't employ any magic method, otherwise, he would be discovered.
The heavenly treasure like the Green Sky Mirror must be guarded by somebody, most likely by the divine animal, the Unicorn. Even if he could reach the deep end of the Earth Source, what would he be able to achieve then?
Yet, he couldn't come up with the third conclusion.
For someone like him, who was extremely intelligent and always predicted everything, there was no need for thinking under two circumstances.
One circumstance was that there was no way to calculate the precise result, and the other was that no positive result could be possibly calculated no matter what. Under the circumstances, there was no need to calculate; all one should do was to act.
Tong Yan took off the clothes, folded them up carefully, put it on the stone table, and walked to the front of the stone wall.
Both of his hands were placed on the hard stone wall. However, his hands reached in the wall as easily as grabbing a piece of tofu, and he pulled out a large piece of rock noiselessly from the stone wall.
Soon after, the stony crack was widened enough for someone to climb through. The sandy rocks were piled up like a small hill on the ground.
The process seemed to be fast, but it would still take a long time to complete the task given the distance between the deep end of the Earth Source and the ground.
Tong Yan had already calculated the time required. It would take twelve years to dig all the way to the deep end of the Earth Source.
This fact didn't thwart his determination. He kept on digging silently.
For a Cultivation practitioner, staying behind closed doors for twelve years was a normality.
The Great Formation of Green Mountain had opened up as usual, first for the first snowfall, and then for the second and third snowfalls as well.
On the top of Shenmo Peak, a stone door in a manor cave was opened.
Jing Jiu strolled to the cliff's edge with his hands on his back, and looked at the peaks amid the wind and snow, his left hand still clenching tightly into a fist.
The snow fell down noiselessly. Tianguang Peak appeared normal, so did Shangde Peak, and the Sword Peak, Xilai Peak. All the peaks appeared normal.
What he saw in front of him was not different from what he had seen when he decided to go to Zhaoge City some years ago.
He could vaguely hear the music coming from Qingrong Peak not far from his own peak.
Was the music about observing the snow, or observing the plum flower? There was always a theme about it.
The performances from the disciples of Qingrong Peak hadn't been very good, either in the Inherited Sword Competition or in the Sword Trial, and that had everything to do with Nan Wang's slack discipline.
Jing Jiu shook his head while thinking of it. As he saw the silvery flag post in the snow, he flicked the fingers on his right hand slightly.
The white cat pounced up from inside of the snow pile. He meowed angrily, his white hair blowing up like arrows, and was about to tear the offender into shreds. As he found the offender was Jing Jiu, he gave up the attempt indignantly.
All of a sudden, he found that he seemed to have seen this scene somewhere before. The white cat cocked his head, seemingly baffled.
The five pieces of Thunder-Soul Wood had already been brought back to Shenmo Peak from the Sword Jail, but Jing Jiu didn't let Ada return to Bihu Peak.
Though it was apparent that the Sect Master hadn't agreed to let him use the Principal Guard of Green Mountain as a guarding cat for him, Jing Jiu was too lazy to deal with the complaint since he was extremely scared of dying.
"Ada," Jing Jiu said, "be prepared to go somewhere with me."
Since he mentioned it and asked Ada to be prepared, it must be a place very far away, and they would go there for a long time.
The white cat was very upset, wondering if they would do it again. It wouldn't be a big deal if he travelled around the world with Jing Jiu to bully others and be the masters of others, but he always met the likes of the Old Dragon and the Godly Swordsman of West Ocean, the formidable ones, every time he went out with Jing Jiu. Who could enjoy such a journey? Besides, the Thunder-Soul Woods were already in his hands; would he have to give them to the Dead Dog again?
Last time, Jing Jiu persuaded the white cat by the word "fight".
It meant the fight between the dragon and the tiger.
This time, Jing Jiu persuaded the white cat by mentioning a place.
"I'll go to the Fruit Formation Temple. The Thunder-Soul Woods will be returned to Bihu Peak and watched by Liu Ci personally."
The white cat fell silent for a while, then meowed once to indicate his agreement.
The ascension was mostly out of his reach, and he could only hope to extend his lifetime; it would be better if he could live as long as heaven and earth.
In terms of longevity, the Zen sects had the best methods. He always wanted to go to the Fruit Formation Temple to listen to the explanations of the scripts, but he had never had the opportunity.
Gu Qing and Yuan Qü heard the commotion and walked out from the manor cave. They bowed to the man and the cat when they saw them.
Jing Jiu told Gu Qing, "Hold the cat and follow me."
They had travelled like this from Zhaoge City to the West Ocean.
Gu Qing didn't have time to find out more about his Master's intention. He walked to the front of the white cat and bowed again, and then reached out his hands.
Seeing this scene, Yuan Qü felt envious, wondering how many Green Mountain disciples could hold the Master Principal Guard while traveling around the world. However, Gu Qing was the personal disciple of Jing Jiu, but he was merely a disciple on Shenmo Peak, so his relationship with Jing Jiu was nonetheless not as close. It would be harder for him to ask for the opportunity.
Unexpectedly, the white cat didn't want Gu Qing to hold him, as he waved his paw to signal for Gu Qing to stay away from him, with a disgruntled expression on his face.
Zhao Layue walked to the cliff's edge and said while staring at Jing Jiu's eyes, "Let me hold him."
The white cat nodded persistently.
"Fine," said Jing Jiu.
After leaving a letter for Yuan Qü to send out, Jing Jiu led Zhao Layue and the cat in her bosom outside of Shenmo Peak.
The Thoughtless Sword was too noticeable, so they used the iron sword for traveling. It didn't take long for them to land in Cloudy Town. They left the territory of Green Mountain after finishing eating the hotpot.
They didn't travel by riding the sword for the rest of the road; they walked on foot.
Lying in Zhao Layue's bosom, the white cat thought the journey was not so bad, even though the mountain path was a bit rutted.
The mountain path passed through a small village. As they crested a hill, they looked down and saw a house with the courtyard, which had enlarged many times.
The father of Liu Shisui was busy with some kind of chore in the courtyard. His hair was still all black, and looked quite healthy after so many years.
The mother of Liu Shisui, holding a little boy in her bosom, walked out from the house while clutching the hand of a girl of five or six years old.
The father of Liu Shisui approached them and said something. The whole family laughed, sounding like they were a happy family.
"Does Liu Shisui know about this?" Zhao Layue asked while looking at the scene below.
"I'm not sure."
Jing Jiu took out a magic pill and handed it to Zhao Layue, saying, "Melt it in the water cask. The scenery by the pond in the village is quite nice. You can wait for me there."
The white cat lifted his head and looked at the snowflakes falling down from the sky, thinking it was a terrible idea to stand by a pond in winter to look at the scenery.
Zhao Layue agreed. She came to the village while holding the cat, put the magic pill in the water cask in the Liu house, and then strolled to the edge of the pond, looking at the water in the pond.
The snowflakes disappeared instantly once they fell on the water, as if they had never existed.
She was on the verge of attaining the middle state of the Free Travel. For mortals, she was the true immortal master now. But nobody could see her standing by the pond.
The white cat could sense her nervousness, and tried to comfort her by meowing gently.
Seeing the snowflakes falling into the water, Zhao Layue didn't say anything.
After making sure that nobody was watching him either from the sky or from the underground, Jing Jiu got off the mountain path and tread along the path to the place from where he had come to the small village.
The parents of Liu Shisui had two more children. The big tree by the pond looked old now; twenty-three years had passed.
Passing through the wild forest and treading for a long time, he finally arrived by the stream. Back then, he started a fire right here to dry his clothes for the first time after his rebirth.
The snowflakes fell on the water of the stream. There was a layer of thin ice on the water upstream; but it didn't form solid ice since a waterfall came down from the middle of the cliff face.
Jing Jiu climbed up against the waterfall, and entered the middle part of the cliff. He passed an immensely gloomy and dark tunnel and arrived in that manor cave.
The crystal orb in the manor cave was still emitting a glow, illuminating the stone bed and the two futons in front of the bed.
That person was still lying on the stone bed. His face was covered with a layer of misty cloud, which also looked like thousands of stars. His true appearance was beyond recognition.
Jing Jiu walked to the side of the bed, and said, "Something must be wrong with the formation; but we are going to find out whether Bai Ren had done it or not."