The Great Grandmaster of the Mysterious Dark Sect had been in a bad mood lately. His nose grew redder, and his hair grew thinner. He remained in a silent state for increasingly longer periods of time. Even the pig leg and the preserved sue cotyledons couldn't cheer him up.
In his opinion, no matter what intent or scheme was hidden in that letter, it was quite risky. If Jing Jiu guessed who he was, confrontation would ensue for sure.
If Jing Jiu, Zhao Layue and Liu Shisui were killed, the strength of the young generation on Green Mountain would be cut by more than half; it would be a favorable situation for the revival of the deviant sects. But what should he do right now?
More than twenty days later, it was almost the late spring. The white pagodas were often made wet by the rain, and the pine forest turned more greenish. Yin San went to the vegetable garden again. It happened that Liu Shisui was home.
Liu Shisui handed the crumpled paper slips back to Yin San, and said embarrassingly, "Young Master said…the suggestions are a bit preposterous, so he has no use for them."
Yin San was not upset about it. "Really? It looks like he has some understanding of the Buddhist methods. I wonder if he could help me solve some quandaries," he said with a small smile.
Having said this, he took out a slip of paper and handed it to Liu Shisui.
It was the late spring, and summer was near. The screams of cicadas could be heard at the Fruit Formation Temple now. It wasn't as quiet as before in the Tranquil Garden anymore.
The white cat craned his neck to shoot a glance at the outside of the garden, thinking that those obnoxious little cicadas outside acted so differently from Cold Cicada; though they were the cicadas, they were by no means obedient.
After reading the slip of paper handed to him by Liu Shisui, Jing Jiu fell into deep thought, after which he felt the screams of the cicadas were irritating. He waved his sleeve gently, a gust of clean wind passing through the room; the power of the wind grew stronger after it entered the forest. A moment later, the cicadas stopped their screaming.
Liu Shisui asked, "What do you want me to tell him?"
"I have to think about it," Jing Jiu said.
It would take a long time for Jing Jiu to answer the question; one could imagine that the question on the paper slip was no ordinary one.
The person who could raise such a question was evidently not ordinary either.
"That person has a high level of understanding?" Zhao Layue asked.
Jing Jiu uttered "hmm".
"Why doesn't he come to the Tranquil Garden with Liu Shisui to talk to you in person?" Zhao Layue prompted.
"The monks often have many peculiar habits," Jing Jiu said. "For instance, the Young Zen Master likes playing with mud and wooden sticks, and the Chief Monk of the Fruit Formation Temple seldom comes out; he only takes a fancy to copying scripts."
Zhao Layue offered, "Since that person knows about the matter of the Fairy Book, he must have a high status at the Fruit Formation Temple. Maybe, he is none other than the Chief Monk himself."
"No, but he might be the former Chief Monk," Jing Jiu said, after remaining silent for a moment.
Jing Jiu wrote a reply the next day. By the time Liu Shisui handed it to Yin San, it was already late summer.
Having read the reply, Yin San sat on the stone steps outside the White Mountain meditation room, staring at the stars the whole night. The Great Grandmaster of the Mysterious Dark Sect sat by his side, swaying the bamboo fan all night.
He was certain that Jing Jiu had vaguely guessed the issue with the Formation of Dispersing Smoke and Cloud; so could he trust what Jing Jiu had written in the letter?
Yin San fell silent for a long time. In the end, he didn't reply to Jing Jiu's letter; and he didn't go to the vegetable garden again. Their communication had stopped ever since.
The sounds of reciting the scripts could be heard everywhere at the Fruit Formation Temple; and the vegetables and melons were growing abundantly in the vegetable garden. Zhao Layue's Cultivation state was growing more stable, and it was believed that she would be able to attain the middle state of the Free Travel in two years, which would set another record at the Green Mountain Sect.
The zhenqi inside Liu Shisui's body had grown more tamable. He shouldn't be in danger anytime soon.
Jing Jiu and the white cat always had sound sleeps.
Time passed by quickly. It was another winter.
The snowfalls were heavy this winter. The cold winds came down from the snowland as whistles. Even the Fruit Formation Temple, which was close to the East Ocean, was affected. After several snowfalls, the temple were covered with snow and looked particularly beautiful, drawing many mortal scholars there to enjoy the snowy scenery, write poems and paint pictures about the snowy vista.
Monk Dachang was still preoccupied with sweeping the grounds. He wouldn't let the fallen leaves accumulating on the ground, nor the snow. The Tranquil Garden was kept squeaky clean.
Jing Jiu felt it was rather uninteresting, so he led all the others and the cat, moving back inside the building from the underneath of the corridors.
The creaking sound came out from the stove burning the silver coals, and the boiling water in the teapot made purring sound. Liu Shisui and Zhao Layue sat against the walls on opposite sides, controlling their breathing and cultivating with their eyes closed. Jing Jiu lay on the bamboo chair by the window with the cat in his chest, while looking at the white snowy scenery outside.
The scene he could see was limited by the size of the window, but it could convey a more profound meaning, because the observer could pay a closer attention to the details.
Jing Jiu fixed his sight on his left hand, and sensed the fairy energy constantly brewing inside as well as the spiritual awareness, which he couldn't wipe out no matter what; he was mulling over something.
At night, the firecrackers could be heard vaguely in the distance outside the temple, and the sounds of firecrackers hadn't stopped ever since.
Zhao Layue asked curiously, "Are the villagers trying to drive away the mountain animals?"
Jing Jiu felt it was a silly question, as he said, "It is late in winter. There is no crop in the field, and the wild animals are either hibernating or have moved to the south; why would they come down the mountain? The firecrackers are taking place nonstop, meaning something significant has happened. Maybe, someone in the family has died."
"That's what is happening," said Zhao Layue, indicating that she had learned the lesson.
Liu Shisui glanced over both of their faces, and said shyly, "Today is New Year's day."
After a moment of silence, Jing Jiu said, "Celebrating the New Year is actually quite exciting."
Zhao Layue turned her head around, not wanting to respond to the topic.
Liu Shisui took the opportunity to tell them, "Xiao He has prepared many dishes for the occasion."
Both Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue had declined the invitation by Liu Shisui to have the New Year's Eve dinner at the vegetable garden. They had no interest in such a thing, since they had become less and less interested in the New Year's celebration over the years.
The firecrackers exploded continuously. Thought they were very far away, the sound could still reach their ears.
For some reason, Jing Jiu didn't choose to seal his six senses to block the sounds, though he was good at such a thing.
It was really late that night The sound of firecrackers finally stopped. The night sky illuminated by the fireworks had returned to its gloomy darkness.
Monk Dachang had already fallen asleep. There was not a single sound in the Tranquil Garden, and it was devoid of any light.
Jing Jiu opened his eyes.
It was the time when the old year became the new year, and heaven and earth were at the height of their power.
Since the fairy energy came from outside of this patch of heaven and earth, it would be the weakest while being suppressed by the force of heaven and earth at the moment.
A sword will came out from inside of Jing Jiu's body, filling the whole room.
He reached out his right hand. Then, he dipped his hand in the sword will and wrote a script in the air.
Afterwards, he reached out his left fist into the script in the air, and slowly closed his eyes.
No unexpected phenomenon occurred. It was like a mud bull entering the ocean, or the spring drizzles falling at night.
A long while later, Jing Jiu opened his eyes and looked at his left hand, a satisfactory expression showing in his eyes.
"How did it go?"
Zhao Layue's voice rang out.
Jing Jiu turned his head around and said, "One part of ten has been tempered."
Zhao Layue's eyes beamed in the darkness; her eyes with distinctive black and white parts looked very appealing.
One part of ten of the spiritual awareness had been tempered in more than one year. Though it seemed rather slow, it was actually quite fast.
If it were any other Cultivation practitioner with Jing Jiu's Cultivation state, it would be an impossible task to temper the spiritual awareness of such a high state.
The feelings of admiration came naturally from the depths of her heart.
Zhao Layue knelt down on the ground and bowed to Jing Jiu.
This was the first time she greeted Jing Jiu as a disciple.
"Happy New Year to you too."
Jing Jiu added, "But no gift bag for you."
Though he didn't have any feeling about the New Year, he nonetheless had some knowledge of it.
Similarly, he had some knowledge of why Zhao Layue bowed to him on the ground.
They didn't need any exchange, or explanation for clarification. Regardless of how late the night was, they would know each other's intention once their eyes met.
Zhao Layue sat by him, and then leaned against his chest, snuggling affectionately.
Nobody had ever seen her in such a demeanor, acting like a little girl.
The noble mistresses in Zhaoge City hadn't seen her like this, nor the colleagues on Green Mountain. Not even her parents had seen her like this, except Jing Jiu.
She only let Jing Jiu witness her in such a demeanor.
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