When Jing Jiu returned to the Fruit Formation Temple, he saw a familiar young monk approaching. In comparison to his appearance years ago, this monk's face had grown darker, with more of an experienced look.
The young monk was extremely thrilled to see Jing Jiu. He uttered "Ahh" first, and then clasped his mouth with his hands reflexively, not daring to speak.
Jing Jiu tended to take affairs and people lightly; but somehow, he always felt happy to see this young monk, which was probably due to fate. "We meet again," he said to the monk with a small smile.
Hearing Jing Jiu greeting him, the young monk grew even more thrilled, nodding his head frequently, but he didn't forget to make the Zen gesture with one hand; he looked quite ludicrous.
Seeing his demeanor, Jing Jiu felt somewhat surprised, and asked, "Are you still practicing the Vow of Silence?"
The young monk was taken aback for a moment and then came back to his senses. He put down his hand and stuttered embarrassingly, "I'm used to it…just used to it."
"Where is your Master?" Jing Jiu asked.
The young monk replied, "My Master went to the snowland with the Grandmaster Duhai."
Jing Jiu thought that the Young Zen Master had gone there earlier, and now the Principal Justice also went there; something must have happened in the Snowy Kingdom, and it must have been significant enough.
Yet, he didn't ask the young monk what had happened in the snowland. It was because he wouldn't go there no matter what.
The young monk was about to talk some more with Jing Jiu, but they heard the gathering bell ringing outside the temple. "An epidemic broke out in Yu County. I have to go now," the young monk said.
After running a few steps, the young monk stopped and turned his head around, and asked, "How long will you stay in the temple?"
"A long time," Jing Jiu replied.
The young monk was very glad to hear this. He made a Zen gesture to Zhao Layue while smiling foolishly, and then ran out of the temple gate.
"Do you know him, Young Master?"
Liu Shisui was curious to know why Jing Jiu knew such an ordinary doctor monk of the temple.
Zhao Layue chimed in, "Back when we left Green Mountain to travel the world the first time, we met this monk and his Master in Chaonan City. The two of them are very good people."
Liu Shisui remembered that it was the time when he was preoccupied with "betraying the sect" and pretending to be a madman in the stone room on Tianguang Peak. He couldn't help but smile wryly.
He had stayed at the Fruit Formation Temple reading the scripts for seven years, so he didn't brood over the past events anymore, including his former master, Bai Rujing.
Passing through many buildings, they arrived in front of the courtyard at the deepest part of the Fruit Formation Temple.
Feeling surprised, Liu Shisui asked, "Do you live in the Tranquil Garden?"
"This place is called the Tranquil Garden? Do you know this place?" Zhao Layue asked Liu Shisui.
"State Duke He came here to fulfill a promise for the Emperor a few years ago; he and those officials lived outside the Tranquil Garden. I came here to bring the vegetables to them."
Liu Shisui pointed to a place outside the Tranquil Garden, where a dozen buildings could be vaguely seen amid the forest.
They walked in the Tranquil Garden. The Monk Dachang was sweeping the fallen leaves again. It seemed that he was trying his best to keep the ground in front of the small stone pagoda clean.
Liu Shisui greeted the Monk Dachang, and then looked around curiously; in the end his gaze fell on the small stone pagoda. "Young Master, what is this?"
Zhao Layue chimed in, "This is the pagoda of spiritual bones of the late emperor."
Upon hearing this, Liu Shisui was stunned speechless for a while. He commented awhile later, "The rumor turns out to be true. The Emperor indeed faked his death and came here to cultivate the Zen…"
Zhao Layue didn't heed Liu Shisui anymore. She looked at the three roofed corridors in the courtyard, and tried to determine which one had more sunlight, so she would let Jing Jiu have that one for his residence.
"I'm wondering what Buddhist title the Emperor had here. He was in the end buried in the pagoda. It's truly…"
Liu Shisui walked to the front of the stone pagoda, feeling immensely sentimental. Then, he saw the white cat sleeping in front of the pagoda, feeling startled.
"This cat is…what? The Principal Guard? The Master White Ghost?"
He hunched his body forward hurriedly, to bow to the cat reverentially. He didn't dare make his bowing look careless.
Since Liu Shisui entered the Tranquil Garden, his voice had been rambling on nonstop, like the countless leaves falling down from the trees and drifting persistently in the air.
The Monk Dachang thought that these Green Mountain disciples were truly interesting, and also troublesome in the meantime; he couldn't help but sigh.
As Liu Shisui spoke, it was always Zhao Layue who talked to him; but it was still hard for Jing Jiu still to stand.
"I have always forgotten asking you if the Young Zen Master taught you the Vow of Silence, since I requested him to do so. Why do you still talk so much?"
Liu Shisui said blankly, "I don't know anything about the Vow of Silence. The Young Zen Master has never mentioned it."
Jing Jiu thought that little monk was really not reliable.
Yet, Zhao Layue was worried. The Young Zen Master left the Fruit Formation Temple and went to the north, indicating that something had happened in the Snowy Kingdom; and worst of all, she couldn't do anything to help out.
Jing Jiu was not worried. He knew that the little monk had a profound knowledge in the Zen methods, and he would be very helpful in tempering the Fairy Book. However, he was too smart; if they met each other too many times, the monk would definitely recognize him. Though it was not a big deal to be recognized, it was nonetheless embarrassing. Back when Jing Jiu was outside the fake manor cave of Jing Yang, he relied on the Lotus Cloud of the Young Zen Master's to evade Fang Jingtian's potential assault…
Jing Jiu still couldn't forget that he was called "little friend" by the Young Zen Master.
Their life at the Fruit Formation Temple began.
The courtyard of the Tranquil Garden was indeed quiet. The birds chirped in the distance, and no screams of cicadas could be heard in the late winter. The three roofed corridors were occupied by the Monk Dachang, Zhao Layue, and Jing Jiu respectively.
Besides sweeping the fallen leaves on the ground, the Monk Dachang always sat on the futon meditating. Now that he was really old, he spent most of his time bathing in the sun and dozing off.
Zhao Layue sat on the futon, with dozens of scripts piled up by her. She read them painstakingly, and occasionally closed her eyes to meditate for a while.
The white cat sometimes crouched in front of the pagoda, but more often than not lay in Zhao Layue's lap. Once in a while, he would crawl in the piled-up leaves built by the Monk Dachang to take a snap.
Jing Jiu didn't read the scripts, nor did he meditate. He took out the bamboo chair and lay on it.
The rain suddenly drifted down from the sky. The white cat crawled out from the piled-up leaves and returned to the side of Zhao Layue, staying there quietly.
Though it was the late winter, the weather here was mild since the Fruit Formation Temple was close to the East Ocean, with the Zen intent lurking in the mountains. Unless the cold current came down from the north, it would usually not snow here.
After the initial inspection of the Tranquil Garden and checking the basic arrangements, Liu Shisui found a teapot and relevant items, and started boiling the tea by the corridor.
The boiling water in the teapot gave off the purring sound.
Regardless of whether the white cat was in the piled-up leaves or in Zhao Layue's lap, he would often make a purring sound too.
The Master White Ghost turned out to be so cute.
Liu Shisui stole a glance at the cat from time to time, as he thought of this.
After having boiled the tea in teapot, he poured it into four cups and put them in front of everybody.
The dripping sound of rain could be heard outside.
The fragrant flavor of the tea tasted even better along with the sound of the rain.
Liu Shisui sat down in a corner of the roofed corridor with his legs crossed, starting his own meditation session.
The rain stopped, and the twilight shrouded the ancient temple. He opened his eyes, cleaned up the tea stove and the teacups, and went in the room to tidy it up.
He did what he had done at the South-Pine Pavilion; the so-called serving was mostly this sort of chores.
"Young Master, I'm leaving."
Liu Shisui walked out of the Fruit Formation Temple amid the twilight, and returned to the vegetable garden.
Along with a squeaking sound, the door was pushed open. "I thought you were not coming back," Xiao He said cheerfully.
Liu Shisui let out a smile and said, "There is only one bed in the guest room of the Tranquil Garden; I have no place to sleep."
The expression in Xiao He's eyes changed a bit. "It means the two immortal masters sleep…But, I heard the Immortal Master Jing Jiu and the Fairy Lady Bai Zao are a suitable couple," she remarked surprisingly.
"What are you talking about? Young Master likes sleeping on the bamboo chair."
Liu Shisui said this with a smile. Then he remembered that bamboo chair was indeed too worn out, and his line of sight fell on a corner of the vegetable garden. The few bamboos that he asked Gu Qing to transplant from Tianguang Peak didn't grow as well as when they were on Green Mountain. He was unsure if it was because of the unsuitable soil and water or some other reason that they were not doing so well here. As such, he didn't know whether they could be used to repair the bamboo chair.
In an early morning five days later, the ringing of bell could be vaguely heard. Jing Jiu got up from the bamboo chair and led Zhao Layue walking out of the Tranquil Garden, heading toward somewhere in the temple.
There would be a script lesson in the Instruction Hall, taught by Master Chengjia in person.
Though the Fruit Formation Temple was very large, and the buildings, meditation rooms and stone pagodas were everywhere, Jing Jiu could walk around here with ease; it seemed that he was very familiar with the place.
The Instruction Hall was a large room. Dozens of monks had already gathered here at the time, wearing different kinds of monk robes that represented different generations as they sat on the futons in silence. Seeing Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue walk in, the monks were startled, wondering why these two guests showed up here since this was the inner temple.
A monk who knew the identities of Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue spoke a few words in a hushed voice; now all the gazes fell on Master Chengjia, waiting for him to make the decision.
Master Chengjia felt surprised as well, wondering if these two guests were here to listen to the instruction of the scripts.
Since the Green Mountain Sect and the Center Sect were both the leaders of the orthodox Cultivation sects, the Fruit Formation Temple would usually show adequate respect to them, but this was the Instruction Hall, where the outsiders were never allowed to enter and hang around…
Thinking of the relationship between the Young Zen Master and Shenmo Peak, Master Chengjia nodded his head with a smile, indicating these two were allowed to stay.
Since the Immortal Jing Yang was a half-master for the Young Zen Master, this would be counted as repayment for the favor.
Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue walked to an unnoticeable corner.
Zhao Layue had reminded Jing Jiu back when they were on the Chessboard Mountain that he should pay attention to his behavior in such an environment. So Jing Jiu didn't bring his bamboo chair, sitting on the futon like all the other monks.
There was no prelude for the script instruction at the Fruit Formation Temple. The lesson began after three crisp knocks on the stone drum.
The voice of Master Chengjia was deep and resonant, like the sound of a large bell.
He was teaching the Seventh Script of the Heavenly Tree that day; it was kind of boring and also hard to understand. The monotonous voice echoed in the Instruction Hall, and had a hypnotic effect for many.
The dozen monks sitting on the futons listened quietly, seemingly paying close attention to the lesson.
Some of the young monks with low Cultivation state had to pinch their thighs a few times to drive away the drowsiness.
Yet, Zhao Layue listened wholeheartedly without a moment of distraction. The pupils in her eyes grew brighter, and the black and white distinction became more obvious, looking quite lively.
One hour later, the lesson was over for this session after another three crisp knocks on the stone drum.
Most of the monks were still sitting on the futons, trying to comprehend what the master had taught.
Some monks stood up and went outside and underneath an ash tree, either practicing a set of boxing routines or looking in the distance in an attempt to recuperate.
Seeing this, Zhao Layue revealed a small smile, recalling the scene of the Dao Competition at the Center Sect told by Gu Qing, and thinking that Zhuo Rusui would fall asleep after a few moments if he were here. Then, she turned to Jing Jiu by her side to ask him some questions, but she discovered that he was breathing long and evenly with his eyes closed. It turned out that he fell asleep.
What kind script was he listening to?
By the time Liu Shisui came to the Tranquil Garden, he found both Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue were not there. He went to the Master White Ghost to ask about their whereabouts, but the cat ignored him. He had no choice but to bother the Monk Dachang, who told him they had gone to the Instruction Hall to listen to the teaching of scripts.
He had already read those scripts and had them explained to him, so he had no need to go there and listen to them again. Yet, what should he do for the rest of the day?
He returned to the vegetable garden, cut down some bamboo, then went back to the Tranquil Garden, getting down to repairing the bamboo chair.
Monk Dachang came to the courtyard to sweep the fallen leaves on the ground. As he saw Liu Shisui mend the chair in a proficient manner, he mused with a grin that these Green Mountain disciples were indeed interesting.
"Where will you bring the fallen leaves to each time you have swept them? Master, you can leave the task to me from now on."
Sensing the attention from Monk Dachang, Liu Shisui said while mending the bamboo chair, "I heard from my Young Master that you were the vice chief of Taichang Temple in Zhaoge City, and your Buddhist title is Dachang, which is a little bit different from Taichang. It's truly interesting."
The expression on Monk Dachang's face changed a bit, thinking this sort of thing was never interesting in the first place. He didn't want to pay this young man any mind, and focused his attention on sweeping the fallen leaves with the broom.
Liu Shisui turned his head around and took a look, and then he said concernedly, "Your broom looks quite worn out. It happens that I have brought some bamboos with me today; do you want me to make a new one for you?"
Monk Dachang felt annoyed, thinking that it must be why Jing Jiu wanted him to learn the Vow of Silence.
Liu Shisui had never needed a listener when he spoke. He kept on mending the bamboo chair with his head lowered, while mumbling nonstop.
The Monk Dachang sighed, the wrinkles growing deeper on this face. He looked at the small stone pagoda, wondering if the late Emperor wanted to move to a different place since it was so noisy here.
The peaceful and happy lives are always similar. Every day here at the temple was the same as the day before, the only exception being that it would sometimes rain a bit and sometimes be breezy.
Under the roofed corridors in the Tranquil Garden there were futons, a bamboo chair, and three people and a cat, and they would either sit, or lie down, or crouch; one full day would pass by like this.
Sometimes the white cat would feel bored after crouching in one place for too long, and he would go outside to wander about. But this was the Fruit Formation Temple with many prohibitions, so he didn't dare venture too far.
Every five or ten days, there would be a master monk teaching the scripts in the Instruction Hall. Jing Jiu would take Zhao Layue to the hall to listen to the teachings. The white cat felt really bored on one of these days, so he went to the Instruction Hall with them and found the teaching to be rather interesting; as a result, he listened enthusiastically as well.
The bamboo chair had been repaired. Liu Shisui would stay in the vegetable garden to finish the remaining garden chores and stretch his body at the same time when Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue were listening to the scripts. However, it was late winter, and the zhenqi in his body had the sign of conflicting with each other again. He coughed a lot more often now. Xiao He was truly worried about his condition.
In the meditation room by the pagoda forest of the Fruit Formation Temple, Yin San was reading the scripts as well.
This place was far away from both the Tranquil Garden and the Instruction Hall. And he had always been confident that he had a profound understanding of the Buddhist scripts, and had no need to listen to the teachings of those monks of later generations, which is why he had never been to any of the teachings in the Instruction Hall.
Besides reading the scripts, Yin San would most often sit on the stone steps of the meditation room, bathing in the winter sun.
The Great Grandmaster of the Mysterious Dark Sect would often go outside of the temple to eat meat secretly, and he was often found with a greasy mouth.
Yin San would occasionally take out the bone flute and play a soundless music.
Standing behind him, the Great Grandmaster would rub his reddish nose while looking at the distance, pondering something silently.
Yin San didn't know that Jing Jiu was here.
And Jing Jiu didn't know that Yin San was here either.
The most famous and legendary Brothers in the history of the Green Mountain Sect or even in the history of the Cultivation world spent their time at the Fruit Formation Temple without knowledge of each other's existence in the same place.
One day, Yin San lifted his head to look at the outside of the pagoda forest. No sooner had the lush scene filled his eyes than he realized that spring had arrived.
He let out a soft smile after his Dao Heart quivered a bit. He knew that he could definitely solve the problem regarding his body.
Then, he thought of Liu Shisui.
He wondered if that little kid's coughing eased up after the passing of winter.
He headed to the vegetable garden.
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