This bone was from a powerful unknown demon, so it was of course very precious. Not even the stomach of the Old Dragon could digest it. Its effect would show up after being ground to powder.
Jing Jiu was pleased with this decision, because he thought the bone wouldn't be wasted and he could also repay the service provided by the Lu family over the years in a small way.
The Zhao family and the Jing family were taken care of by Gu Qing, who sent the magic pills to them every year; so Jing Jiu had no need to worry about it.
Having done this, Jing Jiu turned and walked out of the room, on his way looking for the next whetstone.
State Duke Lu was certain that Jing Jiu forgot what he had said at the Fruit Formation Temple. "The Emperor is really under a lot of pressure right now; should you go to the palace to check it out?" He felt hopeless, but still tried his best to obtain Jing Jiu's help for the Emperor.
The Prince Jing Yao had grown up, and the Prince Jing Xin had already been imprisoned in his palace for many years. Those officials of the imperial court who had a background in the Center Sect and various forces became restless. The petitions had started being brought to the Royal Palace two years ago, pleading with the Emperor to pardon Prince Jing Xin. This sort of pressure became more obvious especially after the battle of the Fruit Formation Temple, because the Center Sect and many others grew suspicious that the royal family and the Green Mountain Sect had probably reached a new pact. Even though the Emperor could claim that he went to the Fruit Formation Temple to pay respect to his father and happened to encounter the event; but how many people would actually believe it?
"Kill Jing Xin, or send him to the Fruit Formation Temple to become a monk; in so doing, nobody would dare make further trouble."
Jing Jiu didn't know anything about the method of ruling the state, and he had never concerned himself with it either, so the idea he offered was quite straightforward.
Judging from its effectiveness, what Jing Jiu suggested was indeed the best solution for the current quandary, and he had suggested the same solution many years ago. But the best solution didn't mean it was the most suitable one. Not to mention that the level of confrontation could increase by doing so, the father and son relationship was also a troublesome issue.
State Duke Lu was stunned speechless after hearing what Jing Jiu said, so he didn't dare continue the discussion on this topic any longer. He thought of another matter and reported, "As for that box of golden leaves, I took the liberty of returning it to the Young Master Li; what do you think about it?"
Jing Jiu wondered who this Young Master Li was.
Seeing his expression, State Duke Lu realized that Jing Jiu must have forgotten about it. He chuckled, and said, "He is the son of the former Governor of Dayuan City."
Back when Jing Jiu and Guo Dong traveled in the world while recuperating from their injuries, they had stayed in a nunnery on the outskirts of Dayuan City for a long while, where they had met this Young Master Li, who could play zither very well. Later, the Li family was in decline, and their last ancient painting passed down by their ancestors was stolen by a so-called "friend". Jing Jiu left a box of golden leaves for the Young Master Li before their departure; but he didn't expect the golden leaves to be sent to a subordinate of State Duke Lu's in Zhaoge City.
That "friend" would definitely meet a terrible end after the painting was retrieved. He always trusted Gu Qing's ability in taking care of this sort of thing.
Jing Jiu remembered the matter, and uttered "hmm".
State Duke Lu's heart skipped a beat, thinking his "hmm" was fairly incomprehensible. He felt nervous immediately, and explained, "The Governor Li was in trouble because he had presented a petition to suggest appointing Jing Yao as the Crown Prince. But it was a fact that he had taken a bribe, so his case couldn't be overthrown. It's already a pretty good outcome that he is allowed to go back to Dayuan City to enjoy the life of a wealthy man."
Jing Jiu uttered "hmm" again.
State Duke Lu figured out the meaning of this "hmm" this time, which was calm and composed. He felt relieved, wiping the beads of sweat from his forehead.
Jing Jiu and Guo Dong recovered in the Three-Thousand Nunnery ten years ago; but State Duke Lu could still remember this trivial matter, and likewise Jing Shang remembered to clean the study room every day. Jing Jiu felt that he had to show a proper response, so he agreed to go to the Royal Palace.
Similar to cultivating, governing the state was a difficult thing, and was more troublesome, boring, and uninteresting.
Jing Jiu was not good at ruling the state, and he was also unwilling to spend energy on thinking about it. He drank tea with the Emperor for a while in the palace and engaged in some small talk, like about what happened at the Water-Moon Nunnery.
The Emperor glanced at Jing Jiu with a seeming smile. If he were still a young man, this smile could be considered a smirk.
Jing Jiu understood his intention, and said sharply, "Don't ask."
The Emperor raised his eyebrows, but didn't continue the topic. He looked at his right arm and asked, "Can it be fixed?"
"I'll go to the Cloud-Dream Mountain to get another Fairy Book; it will be fixed right away."
Evidently, the Center Sect wouldn't offer another Fairy Book. Jing Jiu's statement could be understood as joking or meant that it was truly difficult to solve the problem.
After some thought, the Emperor said, "I don't know how you are going to fix it. But if you need magic pills or magic treasures for the purpose, we might be able to find some in the Royal Palace."
"Let the Curtain Rollers tell me if something comes up." Jing Jiu waved his hand, turning to walk to the outside of the grand hall.
His injury couldn't be treated by magic pills. Though the Royal Palace had some pretty good magic treasures, they were not helpful since their state and hardness were not enough, like that of the bird egg.
In another palace hall, the Royal Concubine Hu stood under a tree while holding the hand of the Prince Jing Yao, waiting for Jing Jiu to arrive.
Both she and Jing Yao felt nervous. The former was nervous because she thought of the relationship between Jing Jiu and the Emperor and the activities against her and her son in the capital over the last few years; the latter was nervous because he was going to meet the grandmaster. Yet, they didn't see Jing Jiu. What they received was the news that Jing Jiu had left the palace.
The Royal Concubine Hu was disappointed, complaining in a low voice. Though Jing Yao was merely a teenager, he understood things better than his mother. "The Grandmaster is a true immortal; he doesn't care that much about the mortal affairs. It would be our fortune to meet him, and it's not a big deal if we don't see him," he comforted his mother.
The Royal Concubine Hu pouted and said, "If he didn't care about mortal affairs, his high Cultivation state would have no benefit for my son."
"You are wrong, mother."
Jing Yao said with a smile, "He is my grandmaster, and I'm his disciple of the third generation. The higher the grandmaster's Cultivation state is, the better my situation will be; if the grandmaster had the highest Cultivation state in the world, I would be in the most secured situation in the world."
This was simple logic and could be understood by a youth of fifteen years. But the likes of the Royal Concubine Hu, who thought too much, failed to understand it, or they simply refused to understand such a simple logic. Many Green Mountain disciples didn't understand this back then; that was why they had so many complaints about Jing Yang, who stayed mostly behind closed doors on Shenmo Peak.
The autumn in the Manor of State Duke Lu was just as chilly as other places in Zhaoge City, except that the smell of burning leaves from somewhere in the distance added a sense of familial atmosphere.
Sitting in the middle of the courtyard, the blind guest of the manor listened to the cracking sounds of the leaves burning outside the courtyard walls while cocking his head, letting out a contented smile. All of a sudden, he heard a commotion in the house, and the expression on his face changed abruptly, wondering what precious item the wasteful father and son were to destroy this time.
There was a flower shelf in the State Duke Lu's bedchamber, which was connected to a hidden and delicate mechanism. Each time the mechanism was activated, an item on the flower shelf would drop off.
Over the last twenty three years, many precious ceramic wares had dropped off from this shelf and broke into pieces. The value of those wares was enough to buy a big house with a courtyard in Zhaoge City.
Lu Ming brought a pink vase that had a rotating inner vase, put it carefully on the flower shelf, and felt relieved after making sure it was stable on the shelf and nothing would happen to it.
But, when he thought that this vase wouldn't escape the fate of being broken into pieces in the end, he felt it was truly ridiculous that he was so careful earlier when handling it.
"Many people in the imperial court are guessing what kind of pact the Emperor and the Green Mountain Sect have reached. It's really absurd that they have even come up with such a conjecture."
State Duke Lu picked up the teacup and sipped the black tea he liked drinking in autumn, continuing, "What they don't know is that the Green Mountain Sect has no intention to get involved in the affairs of Zhaoge City to contend with the Center Sect; it's the Emperor who wants to make use of the Green Mountain as a sword."
Lu Ming said, "The problem is that Shenmo Peak has been the only force to show their support on the part of the Green Mountain Sect, and the immortal masters of that peak are still in their low Cultivation state. I'm afraid that they won't be able to handle the unrest when it happens."
State Duke Lu glared at his son, thinking he had no freaking idea what he was talking about.
Though his father didn't say what was on his mind, Lu Ming understood what his father meant from his glare. He thought indignantly that he had no way of knowing anything if his father told him nothing.
Thinking of the request by the Emperor, State Duke Lu commented sentimentally, "I thought that the Immortal Master Jing Jiu was an isolated immortal who didn't know anything about mortal affairs. Today, I understand one thing: One's outstanding talent can be transferred to many other areas, such as performing. The Immortal Master is very good at performing."
Lu Ming was at a loss, as he asked, "What do you mean?"
"The Immortal Master has been pretending that he doesn't know the Curtain Rollers are the spies for the imperial court, and he has even convinced me over the years. Isn't that a good performance?"
State Duke Lu remembered the item Jing Jiu gave him, and said to his son, "Gather up the whole family after supper. Your father has something important to tell them."
He paused a moment and continued, "Only the members of our own family. No need to disturb your Aunt Chi and her family."
After supper, the people at the State Duke Manor behaved as usual. They prepared tea and told some jokes to make State Duke laugh. But, they found the atmosphere was a bit unusual that night.
The tea that had been prepared a while ago was not served yet, and State Duke sitting at the head seat seemed unfocused; even the young master was often distracted, glancing backward from time to time.
The Aunt Chi was the younger sister of State Duke's wife. She followed her husband to the capital when he got an official position here. She and her family were invited to stay at the State Duke Manor. She was a clever lady; as she found the atmosphere was unusually tense, she excused herself for her headache and led her daughter-in-law and a few granddaughters out of the room.
In the next moment, all the caretakers and servants left the living room. The door of the room was closed and bolted, and the members of the Lu family of three generations eyed each other, wondering what was going on. The first wife of State Duke had done a fair amount of cheating in the financial books, so she felt extremely nervous.
Lu Ming went to the far end of the room and came back with a large teapot in his hand. He touched it with his other hand and asked worriedly while looking at State Duke Lu, "It's a little cold; would it affect the function of the tea?"
"The tea is not important," said State Duke Lu. "The key is the medicine in it."
Lu Ming's wife got up hastily and said, "I was watching it the entire time when it was boiled. I didn't let anybody touch the pot."
State Duke Lu had been always satisfied with the way this daughter-in-law handled things. "It's alright then," he said with a small smile while running through his beard. "Let everybody share the tea."
Seeing the black water in the teacups, they had no idea what was in it. But these adult members of the State Duke Manor were exceedingly clever; when they found that State Duke said this only after the Aunt Chi and her family left and that the Lu Ming couple were dividing the tea so carefully, and when they found every teacup had exactly the same amount of tea, they were well aware that the tea must be very precious. No sooner had State Duke given the permission than they tried to pour the tea into their throats without saying another word.
The flavor of the tea was quite odd; it was mixed with some powder. It tasted like the flour tea that the people in the area of Cold Mountain liked and the flour porridge in Yu County, having a faint burning and bloody flavor. However, it was truly hard for them to swallow it. Fortunately, the chopsticks and the bowls were not taken away yet and still on the table. Some of them picked up the chopsticks and used them to shove the tea into their mouths. All of a sudden, the sounds of chopsticks shoving tea were everywhere in the living room; it seemed that another meal had just started.
Smelling the bloody flavor coming out from the teacups, the younger grandsons and granddaughters were unwilling to drink it; but the tea was forced down their throats by their parents.
State Duke Lu saw the demeanors and reactions of the members of his family; but he didn't feel angry; on the other hand, he felt pleased. Back when he chose his youngest son Lu Ming as his heir, he knew that his other two sons would feel dejected. However, they took it in stride, and they turned their indignation and anger into the motivation to make more money; and they hadn't done anything out of line. This proved that they were clever enough to know what they should do.
In a place like the State Duke Manor, kindness and honesty were necessary, but not important; it was essential to have a clever mind and know what to do and what not to do.
Seeing the empty teacups, State Duke Lu ran his fingers through his long beard one more time, and said, "Very well. But I won't tell you what was in the tea. The benefit will show up later. All you need to do is try to experience it yourself."
The bone of a large demon was of course a very good supplement for health. It could truly help prolong life.
In fact, the effect of prolonging life could be perceived only when one was on their death bed. Yet, the members of the State Duke Manor were all clever people. Now that they had realized it had a great benefit for their health, this understanding would naturally affect their feelings. As such, they had generated many wonderful sensations, and some of them even felt that they were drifting in the air.
Lu Ming's wife had such a sensation.
After the others left, she and Lu Ming helped the old State Duke back to his room. She felt as if she were stepping on the soft clouds, and also felt the heat between her brows. She suddenly summoned courage and knelt down with a thud on the ground before State Duke Lu.
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