The location of Tian Jinren's manor cave was intentionally revealed to Yin San by the West Ocean Sword Sect, since they wanted to collaborate with the Great Grandmaster of the Mysterious Dark Sect to accomplish such a significant feat.
The middle-aged man wearing a conical hat who had walked in the restaurant in Haizhou was someone both sides could trust.
The scheme of the West Ocean Sword Sect failed in a humiliating way, and they suffered a great loss. Yet, that man wearing the conical hat wasn't worried if he would be punished, because he had a special status at the West Ocean Sword Sect and was a guest there. In addition, he had other important tasks to carry out, so the Godly Swordsman of West Ocean should have adequate confidence and patience in him.
After having left Haizhou, he didn't go back to the West Ocean Sword Sect. Instead, he got in a carriage of the imperial court through his connection with the Pure Heaven Bureau, passing through numerous states and counties, and arrived in Yu County.
Yu County was not far from the Cloud-Dream Mountain. The possibility of him encountering the orthodox Cultivation practitioners increased as a result. He didn't want to get in too much trouble, so he went to the Precious-Ware House in Guiyun City and put up a rear and expensive thousand-year-old lotus seed up for auction.
The arrangement had been made more than ten years ago, so he was not certain whether the person he was supposed to contact was still here.
Moreover, the person had already left the Center Sect, and his whereabouts were unknown.
Yet, the lotus seed of one thousand years old was bought by somebody that same night, and sent to the Cloud-Dream Mountain the second day.
On the fourth day, the man wearing the conical hat met Bai Zao.
"I didn't expect to see you," he said.
Bai Zao looked as feeble as before, but her voice gave no hint of being bothered, with her saying, "I'd like to know who you are."
The man took off the conical hat and the black mask, exposing his greenish face.
Bai Zao raised her eyebrows slightly, and remarked, "You should know that you would die for sure if the orthodox disciples knew you were in Guiyun City."
There were many deviant practitioners of all forms in the world, but few of them had a greenish face. Su Ziye said with a faint smile, "I'm the guest at the West Ocean Sword Sect now. They don't have any reason to kill me. You must be aware that I ceased to be the Young Master of the Mysterious Dark Sect many years ago, and that the Mysterious Dark Sect has nothing to do with me now."
Bai Zao didn't say anything more about the subject, but asked, "He Zhan had gone to White Town; what do you want to see my Big Brother for?"
Su Ziye looked at her meaningfully, and said, "Since the lotus seed of one thousand years ended up in your hands, you should know the original plan plotted by Tong Yan and myself."
"My Big Brother mentioned it to me," Bai Zao said. "But I still can't understand it. Even if you win the trust of the Godly Swordsman of West Ocean, how will you kill him?"
Su Ziye replied, "I told Tong Yan that I had a way to do it, because I happened to know that two extremely dreadful swordsmen are interested in doing some harm to the West Ocean Sword Sect."
"If you even think they are dreadful, isn't it dangerous to collaborate with them?" Bai Zao demanded. "It would be tantamount to asking a tiger for its hide."
Su Ziye said, "I'd like to talk to the Immortal Tan and the Immortal Bai."
He had been the Young Master of the Mysterious Dark Sect and famous for his exceptional talent in Cultivation, and he was even considered superior to Luo Huainan, but he was unqualified to negotiate with the two immortals of the Center Sect in the least.
It meant that he was merely a middleman representing the intent of those two dreadful swordsmen.
"What do they want?" Bai Zao asked.
Su Ziye said, "After the destruction of the West Ocean Sword Sect, the spiritual source will belong to our Mysterious Dark Sect."
Bai Zao commented, "Nobody in this world is worth an entire spiritual source."
"Tong Yan had agreed to give me a branch of the spiritual source on Kunlun Mountain," Su Ziye said. "What I have done is change the plan and have another option. As the leader of the orthodox sects, will the Center Sect be audacious enough to occupy the entire spiritual source of the West Ocean?"
Bai Zao responded with a small smile, "As you have just said, you are not the Young Master of the Mysterious Dark Sect anymore, and the sect has nothing to do with you."
"If I could help accomplish this deed, the Mysterious Dark Sect would be mine again," said Su Ziye.
Bai Zao suddenly asked, "Does this matter have anything to do with the event at the Fruit Formation Temple?"
"Those old swordsmen could squeeze us to death with one of their fingers," Su Ziye said. "All we need to do is play the role of messengers well, and ask nothing else."
Bai Zao said, "Rest assured. I won't tell anybody about this."
"Not even Jing Jiu?" Su Ziye pressed.
Bai Zao shot a glance at him, saying nothing.
"What the heck has happened to Tong Yan?" Su Ziye asked.
Bai Zao said, "Don't ask questions you shouldn't."
Su Ziye let show a faint smile, looking like a green leaf stirred by a gust of wind. He said while looking at the street of Guiyun City outside the window, "Luo Huainan was killed right here back then. You should be well aware that Tong Yan did it to avenge you."
"What are you trying to tell me?" Bai Zao pressed.
"Luo Huainan is dead, and Tong Yan has betrayed his sect. And it's basically the same at the Green Mountain Sect. The two of the so-called leaders of the orthodox Cultivation sects appear to be in a more chaotic situation than our deviant sects."
Su Ziye came back to his line of sight and asked her, "Have you thought of why it's like this?"
The Green Mountain Sect was indeed in a chaotic situation, but Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue were not aware of it yet.
After returning to Shenmo Peak, Jing Jiu tossed the Sword of the Universe to Gu Qing, and said, "Give it back to me when I leave again."
Glancing at him, Zhao Layue wondered why he wanted to leave again; this was not his temperament. Did the white skeleton of the Immortal Taiping in the Sword Jail remind you of something?
Gu Qing took the Sword of the Universe and found that the desolate feel to the sword was a bit weaker now, or that feel had grown deeper into the body of the sword.
Yuan Qü came to the side of Gu Qing curiously, full of admiration in his eyes.
Gu Qing smiled and handed the Sword of the Universe to his hands, and started reporting what had happened recently to Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue.
Over the years, it was Gu Qing who had been dealing with all the affairs of Shenmo Peak, like the Precious-Tree House and Zhaoge City; it was complex. Many events had happened in the last half a year. A monster invasion of a small scale was defeated in the snowland, though it was unclear what this meant in the long run. The political situation in Zhaoge City seemed to have changed gradually, with the chancellors who supported the Prince Jing Xin being presented a petition again; it looked like they would like to achieve something. The Hanging-Bell Sect decided to host a Clean-Heart Meeting in three years; it was unclear if it meant that the Grandmaster was near death.
Zhao Layue shot a glance Jing Jiu's way, wondering if Jing Jiu intended to leave here to go to the Hanging-Bell Sect to eliminate some people for Sese.
Gu Qing also told them that Tong Yan's whereabouts were not found in the last half a year; judging from Zhaoge City and the action of the Center Sect, the important figures on the Cloud-Dream Mountain were very upset. Thinking of what Jing Jiu had requested of him, Gu Qing told them more about the development and current situation at the Mysterious Dark Sect in details.
"Why are you telling us so many details about such a trivial matter?"
Jing Jiu wondered when Gu Qing had become so talkative, thinking he should also learn the Vow of Silence.
Zhao Layue shot Jing Jiu another glance, and said, "Didn't you tell us to kill Wang Xiaoming?"
When the Mysterious Dark Sect changed to the Mysterious Dark Church ten years ago, Wang Xiaoming was their first-ever Church Master.
In everybody's eyes, this new swordsman of the deviant sect was rather enigmatic, but Zhao Layue hadn't forgotten his name.
Jing Jiu had forgotten about this a long time ago. Reminded by Zhao Layue, he signaled for Gu Qing to continue.
Though Gu Qing thought he was quite innocent, he didn't show it in his expression. He took out a sword letter and handed it to Zhao Layue with both of his hands, saying, "The Green Mountain called all the peaks for a meeting. But it was postponed until now because you have been staying behind closed doors."
Zhao Layue felt surprised, wondering why the Green Mountain wanted to have another meeting and what this meeting would be for; it shouldn't be for Liu Shisui again.
"It is indeed for Liu Shisui," Gu Qing said with a bitter smile when he saw her expression. "Big Brother Zhuo Rusui indeed has a big mouth. He has talked too much about what happened at the Fruit Formation Temple; he unintentionally let people figure out that Liu Shisui had appeared there."
Back when Liu Shisui was locked up in the Sword Jail, Shenmo Peak hadn't done anything about it. Many years had passed. In fact, many people guessed that Liu Shisui had left the place; but without any evidence, nobody dared question Shangde Peak.
Now that they were certain that someone had seen Liu Shisui at the Fruit Formation Temple, they would like to make a fuss. Fang Jingtian didn't even need to do it himself. The elders of Xilai Peak requested Shangde Peak and Shenmo Peak to give them an explanation.
Zhao Layue glanced at Jing Jiu a fourth time, wondering if it was the intention of the Sect Master or Zhuo Rusui's own idea to leak the information.
Recalling the meeting in the grand hall of Xilai Peak many years ago, Jing Jiu thought it was truly boring. He headed to the manor cave without even paying attention to Gu Qing.
Gu Qing looked at Zhao Layue innocently. She handed the sword letter to Gu Qing and followed Jing Jiu to the manor cave.
Even if someone intended to make use of the matter to attack Shenmo Peak, she didn't care in the least. Now that Jing Jiu's identity was ascertained, with the Sect Master and the Sword Justice in charge, who would dare make trouble?
The atmosphere was a bit depressing in the grand hall of Xilai Peak.
The Green Mounting meeting began only after it was certain that Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue had already left the Sword Peak, but no one from Shenmo Peak had shown up until now.
Sitting in the head seat, Fang Jingtian remained silent, lost in thought.
Someone suddenly yawned.
Many people looked in the direction of the noise, and found it was Zhuo Rusui.
The Elder Mo, the Elder Bai, Guo Nanshan and many disciples were resisting the enemy in the snowland right now. Zhuo Rusui represented Tianguang Peak at the Green Mountain meeting.
"Why are you, senior masters, looking at me? I have never admitted seeing Liu Shisui there. What the monks of the Fruit Formation Temple said has nothing to do with me."
Zhuo Rusui yawned as he continued, "Even if the monks of the Fruit Formation Temple didn't lie, shouldn't you ask Shangde Peak first?"
His opinion was the same as Zhao Layue's.
Judging by the Green Mountain Sword at the Fruit Formation Temple, Zhuo Rusui was fully aware of what relationship his Master had with Shenmo Peak, so he didn't believe that the matter related Liu Shisui could have any real repercussion.
Yet, he had no idea what kind of relationship Shangde Peak and Shenmo Peak had, but he, as the Tianguang Peak disciple, was aware of the fact that his peak wouldn't cut Shangde Peak any slack when Shangde Peak was found in the wrong.
The masters of the peaks felt what he said was sensible. It was truly Shangde Peak's fault if Liu Shisui was supposed to be in the Sword Jail and yet was suddenly found to be at the Fruit Formation Temple. As such, all gazes fell on the elder of Shangde Peak, Chi Yan.
Chi Yan's face looked terrible. It seemed that he truly didn't know anything about this matter. "Please wait a while. Our Shangde Peak will give a proper reply soon," he said curtly.
Shangde Peak was the most innocent party in the matter of Liu Shisui leaving the Sword Jail; but they had to face the blunt accusation. It was understandable that they would not be happy about it.
As a result, the top of Shenmo Peak encountered a gust of wind and snow.
The Three-Foot Sword came over along with the wind and snow, representing the intent of the Sword Justice Yuan Qijing.
Zhao Layue stayed behind closed doors.
Gu Qing didn't react more slowly than she had; he descended the mountain ahead of time.
Liu Ada hid in the deep end of the manor cave, accompanying Zhao Layue behind closed doors.
Only one person was left on Shenmo Peak.
He had to face the cold and formidable Three-Foot Sword all by himself.
Kneeling before the Three-Foot Sword, Yuan Qü said with an innocent expression, "Great Grand-Uncle, you can't blame me for it."
The nonchalant voice came out from the Three-Foot Sword: "Where is Jing Jiu?"
"Senior Master left a long time ago," Yuan Qü replied while pointing to the other side of the ocean of clouds.
Gu Qing went to the Sword Washing Stream.
By the time he got there, the class at the Sword Washing Hall had just finished, and the teachers were on their way out of the classroom.
Lin Wuzhi and Senior Master Mei Li were heading toward the bank of the stream while talking about something. They were surprised to see Gu Qing.
Shenmo Peak hadn't taken on any new disciple lately; so nobody from that peak would normally come to the Sword Washing Stream.
Li Wuzhi was the personal disciple of the Sect Master, and Mei Li was a senior master in a high Cultivation state and had a respectful status on Qingrong Peak. Some people thought it was a pity that they had been teaching the disciples who had just entered the inner gate by the Sword Washing Stream, but many people, including Gu Qing, highly respected them regardless.
Gu Qing bowed to them with a faint smile, and said, "I'm here to look for a disciple."
Lin Wuzhi and Senior Master Mei Li glanced at each other, and saw the excitement in each other's eyes. "Which disciple?" both of them asked at the same time.
Recalling his Master's description before he left the peak, Gu Qing gesticulated a face in the air with his finger.
The picture drawn in the air by a finger was far from accurate, but Lin Wuzhi saw it clearly and offered, "Ping Yongjia?"
"It seems that Big Brother is impressed with his talent," Gu Qing remarked.
Lin Wuzhi said while shaking his head, "This kid is quite talented for sure, but his temperament…is a bit odd. He likes thinking about all sorts of irrelevant things."
Senior Master Mei Li felt interested and asked, "Do you want to take on a disciple?"
"I haven't learned the sword work well enough myself," Gu Qing replied with a smile. "So I'm not qualified to take on a disciple. It's my Master's idea."
The expression on Lin Wuzhi's face changed a bit, as he remarked, "Little Ping is really lucky."
Senior Master Mei Li let out a smile and said, "We should find out if he is the one Shenmo Peak is looking for."
A moment later, the young disciple named Ping Yongjia was called over.
"Did you go to the Sword Peak a few days ago?" Gu Qing asked while staring at him.
Ping Yongjia turned white, wondering if his disrespectful behavior toward the remains of the masters of previous generation was discovered. "I did go there…" he stuttered in a trembling tone.
Gu Qing continued asking, "Did you see two masters on the Sword Peak?"
Ping Yongjia thought that there was no way he could get out of the predicament. "This disciple has poor eyesight, so I didn't know they were…" he trailed off with an obvious innocent expression on his face.
Gu Qing chuckled, thinking this disciple indeed had a demeanor similar to the style of Shenmo Peak, so it was no wonder his Master liked him at first sight.
Gu Qing didn't say anything more. He bowed to Lin Wuzhi and Mei Li and left on his sword.
Standing on the same spot with a perplexed expression on his face, Ping Yongjia had no idea what was going on.
Senior Master Mei Li and Lin Wuzhi said to this young disciple with a small smile, "Congratulations!"
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