As expected, Ping Yongjia had chosen Shenmo Peak to inherit the sword; but others didn't have a chance to witness his talent in the sword work.
Senior Master Mei Li and Lin Wuzhi eyed each other with a faint smile. They had already tried their best for Qingrong Peak and Tianguang Peak, though they didn't succeed in their attempts.
Before the Inherited Sword Competition was over, Yuan Qü and Ping Yongjia left the platform while being watched by resentful gazes.
As they reached the top of Shenmo Peak, Yuan Qü told Ping Yongjia to wait there, then turned around and ran down the mountain in a hurry. He was probably on his way to meeting Young Sister Yushan to explain something to her.
There was nobody on the top of Shenmo Peak, except some remaining snow.
Ping Yongjia felt very nervous at the moment, but he didn't show the emotion on his face. It was because he thought that Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue might be watching him somewhere.
It didn't take long before Gu Qing came out from the Daoist Hall. "I was behind closed doors last autumn; so I forgot to inform you. It's good that you didn't forget," Gu Qing said to Ping Yongjia.
Ping Yongjia bowed to Gu Qing hastily, as he thought that it was not that he didn't forget; it was because he was brave, and also greedy. But he couldn't tell Gu Qing all this.
Seeing him hold his tongue when he attempted to speak, Gu Qing asked with a smile, "Are you curious why my Master chose you as his disciple?"
Ping Yongjia nodded. By now he found out that the pair of man and woman he had encountered on the Sword Peak last year was the two masters of Shenmo Peak, but he was still curious why he was chosen as the disciple of Shenmo Peak. Had he discovered some sort of secret?
Gu Qing asked, "Do you know how high the location where the two masters cultivated was?"
Ping Yongjia thought about it and replied, "I was only thinking to climb as high as possible at the time. Later, I was scared by them so much so that I fell and crawled all the way down the mountain in a hurry. I don't know how high it was."
Gu Qing laughed and said, "It looks like you don't even know how high your talent is."
It was very difficult to climb the Sword Peak. The higher one could climb there, the better talent that Green Mountain disciple had in their sword work.
Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue stayed behind closed doors on the Sword Peak, so the location he chose must be extremely high. As such, Ping Yongjia's talent in the sword work must be very high as well.
It was simple logic. Soon Ping Yongjia understood it, thinking that he was actually a genius in the sword work recognized by the two masters. He scratched his head happily.
Seeing this, Gu Qing thought of those monkeys at the foot of the cliff, feeling a closeness toward this new Young Brother. Gu Qing patted on his shoulder and said, "Work hard on your Cultivation from now on; don't bring shame to our Master."
Having said that, Gu Qing turned to leave. He was about to go to the Daoist Hall to cultivate his sword work behind closed doors.
Ping Yongjia was taken aback. Seeing Gu Qing enter the Daoist Hall, he couldn't help but feel panicked, yelling after Gu Qing, "Hi…Big Brother, what should I do next?"
Gu Qing stopped short and turned around. "If you have finished all the lessons of the Sword-Washing Hall, you can cultivate your sword work first. As for which peak's sword style you will learn, you'll have to wait until our Master is back," he said.
Ping Yongjia said wide-eyed, "Cultivate my sword work? You told me not to obtain a sword; so I don't even have a sword right now."
"If you don't have a sword, you just cultivate your will then," Gu Qing said. "You don't need to worry about the sword for now; otherwise, it will be quite troublesome when our Master wants to change the sword for you."
This advice was based on his own experience.
Gu Qing was in the Free Travel State and had already nurtured the Sword Ghost, but he all of a sudden needed to change the sword. As a result, it could cause some significant problems.
Even though it was the Sword of the Universe, he still felt it troublesome.
Ping Yongjia wasn't aware of Gu Qing's concern. Hearing what Gu Qing said, he felt quite pleased, thinking that it was really good he came to Shenmo Peak, since they would give him a flying sword later.
There were two significant events in this year's Inherited Sword Competition.
One was that Shenmo Peak took on a new disciple; another was that Liangwang Peak didn't show up.
All the disciples of Liangwang Peak were in the distant north, defending against the monsters of the Snowy Kingdom on the frontline.
Many disciples and elders of other peaks had also gone to White Town, being led by Fang Jingtian.
In early spring, it was still rather cold in White Town. In the barracks by the foot of the mountain the white smoke could be spotted everywhere.
There was no hot spring there. What they had were many large casks filled with hot water.
There were a few minor monster invasions in the last few years. The casualties were not high in the North Army, but there were a great many wounded soldiers. As such, the hot water and medicines were in great need.
The doctor monks of the Fruit Formation Temple were responsible for treating the wounded; and the One-Cottage House and other sects that were good at writing amulets were responsible for providing heating and provisions.
The Green Mountain disciples, like what they had done in the past, were responsible for fighting against the enemy.
Dozens of sword lights came back from the snowland, and landed on the field at the foot of the mountain.
Glancing at the group, Guo Nanshan counted them one more time and made sure that no one had been left behind in the snowland, feeling a bit relieved.
In addition to Guo Nanshan, Gu Han, You Siluo and Jian Ruoyun had also entered the Free Travel State; so their fighting strength was quite powerful. They led their colleagues pursuing those formidable monsters who strayed from the battle field and might travel south. Though they were not in the main battle field, it was even more dangerous. In the last few years, seven Green Mountain disciples had been wounded severely and sent back to Green Mountain. As the monster invasions became more frequent and more formidable, the deaths would follow suit. And there was something else they had to worry about:
As the situation in the snowland grew tense, those deviant Cultivation sects on the Cold Mountain took it as a sign to take advantage of the situation.
"I only hope that the Cultivationists of the Kunlun Sect can keep the situation under control," said Guo Nanshan.
Gu Han said emotionlessly, "We can't rely on those useless people. I think we should go to the Cold Mountain when the snowland is quiet for the time being to launch an attack, making sure they wouldn't do anything foolish later."
"Don't count on me to do it." A droopy voice burst out in the group.
Guo Nanshan and others turned to the sound and found it was Zhuo Rusui; they couldn't help but change their expressions slightly.
Gu Han stared at him and demanded, "Do you like to see the deviant sects like the Mysterious Dark Sect grow stronger by taking advantage of the situation?"
"They call themselves as the Mysterious Dark Church," Zhuo Rusui said droopily while casting his eyelids downwards. "The name is obviously meant to be in resistance of the Windy-Broadsword Church. The Broadsword King is not worried about it, so why would you people be?"
The eyes looking at him revealed complicated emotions.
Among the young disciples, Zhuo Rusui was tremendously famous. During the Sword Trial on Green Mountain a few years ago, he had finally come out from behind closed doors on Tianguang Peak and defeated Zhao Layue, which helped him reach a reputation of a higher level.
The disciples of Liangwang Peak hoped that he would be able to check Jing Jiu. But unexpectedly, his style of conduct had become more and more like those on Shenmo Peak after he lost to Jing Jiu on the Cloud-Dream Mountain.
As for what the style of conduct was, nobody could describe it clearly, nor could Jian Ruoyun, who hated Shenmo Peak the most. It probably had something to do with the avoidance of troubles and that murder case.
Nobody came to the snowland from Shenmo Peak, but Zhuo Rusui was the personal disciple of the Sect Master, so he had to come.
Unlike in Guo Nanshan, one couldn't find any good qualities possessed by Zhuo Rusui, like fighting against foes bravely, charging in front of others, or setting a good example for others.
Jian Ruoyun said while looking at Zhuo Rusui with a gloomy expression, "If you are afraid of death like Gu Qing, you shouldn't be here in the first place."
Hearing this, the expression on Gu Han's face changed a bit, but he didn't say anything.
Zhuo Rusui raised his head slowly and gazed at Jian Ruoyun.
He didn't intend to snort to show his contempt; what he intended to do was to utter an "hmm".
Guo Nanshan was the principal disciple of Tianguang Peak, and heard the "hmm" uttered by his Master Liu Ci many times, so he knew what Zhuo Rusui intended to do, yelling sternly, "All of you shut up!"
Zhuo Rusui thought that he didn't even need to open his mouth while making the "hmm" sound, and wondered if his Big Brother's yelling had anything to do with himself.
You Siluo suddenly turned his head in the direction of the snowland, and exclaimed, "Who is that?"
It hadn't even been one hundred days since the last major battle, and the snowland was still quite dangerous; but how come somebody walked out of the snowland alone?
That man's movements were rather bizarre. It took him merely a few minutes to come to the edge of the snowland from the black mountain. Nobody could tell how he did it.
"Is he someone with the Center Sect?" Gu Han asked.
In the view of most people, it seemed that the Center Sect was the only sect that could produce someone capable of moving so swiftly and unpredictably by means of the Escape Method of Heaven and Earth.
Guo Nanshan shook his head and said, "It's He Zhan."
The Green Mountain disciples were all astonished.
The man walked out of the snowland and arrived before the barracks. His monk robe was in tatters, looking the same way as his messy hair that had just grown on a baldhead.
The eyes gazing at He Zhan were showing different expressions.
Gu Han commented, "He is the first disciple of experiencing the mortal world to reveal his identity from the very beginning."
To experience the mortal world, one needed to conceal their identity; in so doing, they could understand the true nature of the mortal world. Over the years, all of those experiencing the mortal world from the Fruit Formation Temple behaved this way. They would reveal their identity only after they had accomplished their goals. The last person experiencing the mortal world was Cao Yuan, the Broadsword King; he chose to stay in the north, rather than return to the Fruit Formation Temple to take over the position of chief monk. He had been with the Windy-Broadsword Church for many years while concealing his real name.
It was evident that He Zhan was wounded severely after having fought many battles back to back in the snowland; but nobody in the barracks came out to receive him.
It was probably because the doctor monks of the Fruit Formation Temple were too busy at the moment, or because those master monks of the temple thought he behaved too conspicuously to devalue the intention of experiencing the mortal world, or because someone had already been on their way to help him.
Along with crisp ringing of a bell, Sese, the young master of the Hanging-Bell Sect, arrived by the side of He Zhan like a band of green smoke, and held up his arm. "Are you alright?" she inquired with a concerned expression on her face.
He Zhan shook his head a few times.
Feeling relieved, Sese asked again, "Are you going to the grandmaster's birthday party? I can't stay here for too long, since I have many things to take care of."
He Zhan shook his head a few times again.
Sese lifted her head and pleaded, "Please come. My mother wants to see you."
He Zhan didn't say anything this time.
Sese said in a sorrowful voice, "Something significant will happen that day. I'm scared, and hope you will be there with me when it happens."
He Zhan said nothing still.
Sese grew angry now. She pushed his hand away and exclaimed, "You shouldn't try to deceive me. I have asked Big Sister Layue and know that your Fruit Formation Temple has no idea what the Vow of Silence is!"
He Zhan held his tongue and walked on without saying a word.
Sese stopped short. She looked at his back while standing in the snow. "I'm going to cry. I tell you, I'm going to cry for real!" she shouted in a crying tone.
He Zhan's body grew rigid. He turned around slowly and said to her, "I found Jiang Rui's corpse in the snowland."
Sese had faked her cry. When she heard of this, the crying tone vanished instantly. "This is really a pity," she remarked sympathetically.
"Even if you let him go, what will happen?" He Zhan demanded.
Sese exclaimed proudly, "Even if I killed him, what would happen?"
He Zhan couldn't help but sigh once. He turned around and walked on. His movements were as swift as a ghost.
Sese knew that she had no chance to catch up to him. She was both angry and curious, wondering where he had learned such a peculiar style of movement.
She suddenly recalled the method He Zhan learned in the Illusionary Realm of the Green Sky Mirror from the old Eunuch Hong. She covered her mouth with her hands in surprise, wondering if he had actually castrated himself.
There was a mountain behind White Town.
A small temple was situated at the foot of the mountain.
A golden Buddha statue was placed in the temple.
There had never been any monk in this temple; but there was one now.
He was a monk with the highest status in the Zen sects.
The Young Zen Master had been to White Town for seven years.
Over the years, he had stayed in this small temple, playing with mud, dismantling the pile of sticks, and would go out once in a while.
If the Young Zen Master were Guo Dong who came here many years ago, the Broadsword King would feel a lot more pleased.
Even the Young Zen Master felt displeased, thinking it was truly boring here.
The pile of sticks suddenly collapsed, scattering on the ground near the doorsill.
It was unclear what omen this incident revealed.
The Young Zen Master glanced at the collapsed pile of sticks twice and gave up after he failed to calculate the outcome. He stretched his back and asked, "When can I go back?"
"Why are you so anxious?" A deep and broken voice rang out in the temple.
The Young Zen Master replied, "Something happened in my temple, and Duhai almost caused an irreversible damage; but I couldn't go back to take care of things. I'm of course anxious."
"The world will have peace when the snowland has a definite winner," the Broadsword King said.
The expression in the Young Zen Master's eyes grew a bit colder, as he said, "If Taiping reappeared in the human world, you would probably have to go back."
After a pause, the Broadsword King said, "It's unclear if the action on the Cold Mountain has something to do with that Immortal."
"You have no need to worry about the Mysterious Dark Sect," said the Young Zen Master. "After most of them had been killed by the Green Mountain Sect, the only formidable thing left is that Sun Banner."
"That Sun Banner is indeed vicious," the Broadsword King commented.
"Of course," the Young Zen Master said, "Otherwise, the Green Mountain Sect would have attacked their mountain gate a long time ago."
The Green Mountain Sect and the Mysterious Dark Sect had the hostile relationship for generations. If the Sun Banner were not tempered successfully again and it was difficult to deal with them at the moment, the Green Mountain Sect wouldn't let the Mysterious Dark Sect show off their power on the Cold Mountain and change the name of sect to church.
It was then that they heard a squeaking sound from the back of the temple.
It was the dreadful sound of the mountain changing its structure and the crusts of rocks rubbing against each other.
The Young Zen Master got up and walked out of the temple.
Many houses in White Town had collapsed as smoke and dusts rose up. Fortunately, the Windy-Broadsword Church had persuaded the residents to leave the area, so there shouldn't be many casualties
The commotion in the distant snowland was even more dreadful. The wind and snow rose up to the sky a few miles high; and the black mountains could be seen swaying slightly.
It was a terrible earthquake.
The Young Zen Master looked through the dusts and the wind and snow, and the quivering black mountains, and fixed his gaze on the deep part of the snowland.
An immensely alarmed expression showed in his eyes.
The energy was extremely powerful.
The human Cultivation practitioners by the edge of the snowland came to their senses and leapt into the sky, reading to fight.
As the sword lights and treasure glows passed through the sky, an extremely powerful and formidable sword will came to the front.
"Fang Jingtian is not her equal."
The Young Zen Master said icily, "Tell everybody to retreat."
Fang Jingtian's reputation was not so high in the Cultivation circle, but the Young Zen Master and the Broadsword King knew that it was because this peak master of Xilai had kept a low profile for three hundred years.
Fang Jingtian was the fourth disciple of the Immortal Taiping, in the upper state of Broken Sea and near the Heavenly Arrival State. He was undoubtedly a human swordsman of the highest level. Even Bu Qiuxiao of the One-Cottage House could only end things in a draw when fighting against him. He was the strongest swordsman in Whit Town at the moment, save for the Broadsword King and the Young Zen Master.
If Fang Jingtian was not her equal, it was clear who the foe was. That was why the Young Zen Master was so alarmed.
The bell was struck in the small temple, indicating that all the Cultivation practitioners should leave the battleground as soon as possible.
"Is it the big one or the small one?"
The deep and broken voice suddenly became extremely smooth, sounding like the ringing bell echoing around the edge of the snowland.
It was because the owner of the voice had decided to fight until death, or was prepared to die in an instant.
The lonely broadsword had been in the wind and snow over a hundred years.
He had been to the snowland and fought against the Queen of the Snowy Kingdom many times, and always came back wounded; he had no chance of defeating her.
As Jing Jiu had said, the Queen of the Snowy Kingdom was the being of highest state in Chaotian; she had no equal except for Jing Yang at the time of his ascension.
If she was to get out of the snowland, who would be able to resist her then?
The Broadsword King had thought over it many times.
Though he hadn't come up with a definite answer, he somehow had one thing figured out.
No matter who else could resist her, he had to try his best to do so.
As such, it would be the day for him to die when the Queen got out of the snowland.
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