After having returning to the small temple at the back of White Town, the Young Zen Master wiped off the beads of sweat on his forehead with his sleeve.
"Thank you for your hard work," the deep and broken voice rang out again.
"I didn't use too much energy for beating up such a little child."
The Young Zen Master turned around and saw the messy pile of sticks outside the doorsill, shaking his head; he was about to bend down to pick up those sticks.
The movement worsened the injury inside his body.
The blood spat out like mist from his mouth, coloring the doorsill and those thin sticks.
It became as deathly quiet as a graveyard in the small temple. The Broadsword King didn't say a word.
After a long moment, the Young Zen Master straightened his body slowly and looked in the direction of the deep part of the snowland, exhaling a sigh with the complicated expression.
The deathly quietness and the sigh were due to the pressure felt by the humans from the Snowy Kingdom.
"I'll get somebody to clean this up."
The Young Zen Master raised his arm and wiped away the blood drop from the corner of his mouth with his sleeve and looked in the direction of the snowland silently for a long time.
He had employed the Magic Method of the Precious Mirror, wounded that white figure and forced her to retreat to the deep part of the snowland; but he had also paid a heavy price.
"It's only twenty-three years; but that young kid has become so powerful already," the Young Zen Master suddenly stated.
The unexpected event had suddenly occurred in the snowland during the time when the Cultivation tournament of the Plum Meeting took place that year. Heaven and earth had become extremely cold all of a sudden, and many young participants of the Cultivation tournament had died. Jing Jiu and Bai Zao had been trapped in the snowland for six years. It was all because the Queen of the Snowy Kingdom was pregnant. Her child had merely cultivated for a little more than twenty years if counting her years in the womb; and she had already become such a powerful being, which means the bloodline of a life possessing a high state was indeed very formidable.
"The humans can't resist two queens," said the Broadsword King.
"Fortunately, your initial prediction was correct," the Young Zen Master said. "It looks like this mother and daughter will harm each other without mercy."
The Broadsword King asked, "Why have you always assumed that the child is a girl? Why can't the Queen have a son?"
"Since the beginning of our recorded history, the Queen has always existed in the north. Who has heard of the Emperor of Snowy Kingdom?"
The Young Zen Master continued, "As for what that being looks like, you are the only one in Chaotian who had seen her."
The voice of the Broadsword King had paused for a long time, and rang out again.
"Though I have fought against her, I have never seen her in person.
The Young Zen Master understood what he meant. He didn't ask him further.
Even the regular Cultivation practitioners would fight each other from a certain distance, especially those Cultivation swordsmen of the Green Mountain Sect and the No-Mercy Sect.
The high-level practitioners fought often from a distance of more than ten miles, or one hundred miles, or even further away.
Liu Ci and the Godly Swordsman of West Ocean had fought sword against sword from a long distance over a patch of ocean.
As such, it was understandable that the Broadsword King hadn't seen the Queen of Snowy Kingdom in person.
Would anyone consider this sort of fighting short of excitement garnered during the face to face combat? One should understand that this was the fight between the swordsmen of a high state; so it was impossible for them to fight like the common folks in the streets with their eyes glaring at each other and their spittle flying through the air.
In the deepest end of the Gathered-Soul Valley, before the huge transparent wall insulating the Abyss, and amid the dreadful hot lava, a handsome man and a fish of gold stared at each other.
What is this thing? This was the thought shared by Jing Jiu and golden carp; it was the latter who actually said it.
The fish pouted its lovely mouth and spat out a string of bubble like words; and it spat out some saliva as well.
The spittle landed on Jing Jiu's face. He felt it a bit painful, so he rubbed his face a few times with his hand.
The golden carp was surprised that this person could not only survive the hot lava, but its fire saliva couldn't even penetrate his face; it was unbelievable!
Jing Jiu was baffled as well. He wondered why the saliva of this fish was even hotter than the lava and if it was a demon that had survived the battles of ancient times.
Thinking of the huge skeletons that had turned into powders in the battle field on the barren plain, he refuted this conception and had another idea about the origin of the carp of golden color.
Jing Jiu asked, "Are you a friend of the Center Sect?"
The pouting mouth of the golden carp grew rounder, indicating he was obviously surprised. "How could you know that?" he asked.
This was the Gathered-Soul Valley, and the huge transparent wall was the forbidding formation that had sealed off the passage set up by the Center Sect. Even those monkeys on Shiyue Peak could figure out the relationship between the Center Sect and this strange fish when he suddenly appeared in the lava.
Jing Jiu thought of all this before asking, "May I have your Daoist name?"
The golden carp displayed a proud expression in his eyes, saying, "I am the divine animal of Cloud-Dream, the Fire Carp, or the King of Fire Carps. I'm good at swallowing the soul-fires. As such, I have been ask by the sect to guard the passage leading to the Underworld here."
This golden carp was a spirit nurtured by the earth fire. He had lived in the underground river of lava since his infancy. As a result, he liked the fire, and also couldn't live without it. He was not asked by the Center Sect to come here. After the Center Sect had defeated him at the bottom of the Gathered-Soul Valley, they found that he couldn't stay on the Cloud-Dream Mountain, so they had no choice but to leave him here in charge of guarding the passage.
He had lived in the underground fire for over twenty thousand years. Based on his age, few beings in the world were older than he, save for the Unicorn and the Round Turtle from ancient times; Liu Ada probably had to call him "senior master". However, the natural spirits like him grew up at an extremely slow pace, and they needed to stay in a hibernating state for a prolonged period of time. As such, he hadn't reached adulthood yet.
The Fire Carp should have slept for another thousand years if he hadn't been awoken for some reason two years ago; he had been in a bad mood ever since, which is why he became so furious when encountering Jing Jiu today.
Jing Jiu had no idea what had happened to the Fire Carp, as he thought that the Center Sect was indeed powerful enough to contend with the Green Mountain Sect since they had so many resources.
The problem with the Green Mountain Sect was that their sword work was too straightforward. When any other Cultivation sect competed with them, both sides would be drawn into a violent confrontation. The Green Mountain Sect had too strong of a lethal intent.
Over tens of thousands of years in the past, the peaks of Green Mountain had fought with each other too mercilessly. It was unclear how many of the secrets had been lost to oblivion along with the dead masters of the previous generations.
The most recent and cruelest fight was engaged in by Jing Jiu and others, led by the Immortal Taiping. Jing Jiu thought that he should go to the Sword Jail to pay the Senior Master Tai Lu a visit when he got back to Green Mountain later. Maybe he would be able to discover some formidable magic treasures hidden deep under the ground. By then, there may be five or more Principal Guards of Green Mountain; wouldn't it be a good thing for Green Mountain?
"I am the King of Fire Carps. Who are you then? The Fire Kid?"
When he found that Jing Jiu could speak with an unbothered expression in hot lava, the Golden Carp felt enormously amazed.
"I'm Jing Jiu of Green Mountain."
Jing Jiu forgot to cover his face with the Protective Sword; but he had no way to deceive the perception of this Fire Carp even if he could cover his face with lava.
All the Fire Carp needed to do was describe his appearance to the Center Sect, they would be able to figure out who he was; telling the Fire Carp a false name was useless.
The Fire Carp blinked his eyes a few times before saying, "Sorry that I have to kill you."
"Why?" Jing Jiu demanded.
The Fire Carp said while swaying his tail, "Don't be so nervous. I don't have a grudge against you. But, as I remember, somebody mentioned that our two sects were not on good terms before my last hibernation."
He was not an adult yet, nor was he a true divine animal. Yet, the Fire Carp should have a prowess as strong as Liu Ada inside the underground river of lava. It would be easy for him to kill Jing Jiu if he wanted to.
Jing Jiu asked with the unchanged expression, "Have you been to the Cloud-Dream Mountain?"
"No," he replied after a moment of pause.
Jing Jiu asked again, "Do the disciples of the Center Sect usually come to visit you?"
The river of lava was so hot that the Cultivation practitioners would turn into a band of green smoke if they fell in the river, to say nothing of what would happen to ordinary folks. The important figures of the Center Sect like the Immortal Tan and the Immortal Bai would definitely not come here often to visit him. Jing Jiu was certain that nobody came to visit this golden carp.
"Who said nobody came to visit me? Every six hundred years, the Cloud-Dream Mountain would send some disciples to visit me; and I can communicate with the Cloud-
Dream Mountain through space. I can let them know immediately if something goes wrong in the passage. I had often chitchatted with them when I was awake. Besides, only a few days ago…well, it's nothing."
Realizing he had almost revealed something secretive, the Fire Carp held his tongue instantly. He pouted his mouth into a circle, looking more adorable than before.
"Even if our two sects are not on good terms, you still don't have to kill me; more importantly, I have a good relationship with the Center Sect myself."
Jing Jiu continued seriously, "The first Center Sect disciple I knew is Xiang Wanshu. Later, another disciple of the Center Sect, Tong Yan, became my friend in chess playing. Oh yes, you must know the daughter of the Center Sect Master couple, Bai Zao. I'm a good friend of hers. You can ask her to confirm it."
Upon hearing the name of Tong Yan, a strange expression flashed in the eyes of the Fire Carp. But he hadn't changed his idea, as he said enigmatically, "It's still not convincing enough. I saw you talk to an important figure of the Underworld; a traitor who communicates secretly with the Underworld can't be allowed to live."
Though he was not aware that the short man wearing the bright blue cloth was the Underworld Master, the Fire Carp nonetheless could sense that the person was more powerful than himself in the Cultivation state even though they were separated by the huge transparent wall; so he could easily guess the background of the person.
The Fire Carp couldn't help but feel proud when he discovered that he had such a clear mind merely two years after his wakeup. He saw from the corner of his eyes that Jing Jiu had somehow left the lava and arrived on the bank of the river. "You dare flee from me!" he shouted sharply.
Jing Jiu of course wanted to escape the river. It would be fatal to confront this Fire Carp inside the lava.
As Jing Jiu raised his right hand to leave, the Fire Carp in the river of lava curled up his tail, and then slapped it down hard.
A great amount of red lava splashed out and shot toward the cliff walls like a downpour.
The shooting lava was not only hot, but also contained a dreadful power.
Jing Jiu took back the Sword of the Universe from the space and held it in front to shield himself.
Pah!!! Pah!!! Pah!!!
Two shallow ditches of straight line were created by his feet on the ground; soon after, Jing Jiu hit his back on the cliff wall and stopped sliding backwards.
Dozens of bright marks could be spotted on the surface of the Sword of the Universe. Fortunately, the sword was wide enough that no lava had been splashed onto Jing Jiu.
This Fire Carp was truly formidable, so Jing Jiu was not his equal, otherwise he wouldn't have said all that nonsense about friends playing chess and good relationships with the daughter.
The Fire Carp leaped out of the river of lava and charged toward Jing Jiu with an unimaginably high temperature and power.
As he grew near, Jing Jiu suddenly turned his left hand around.
The Fire Carp hovered in midair. Staring at Jing Jiu's palm, he asked cautiously, "What is this thing?"
A white beetle lay in Jing Jiu's left palm quietly; and it exuded a faint but concentrated chilly intent. It was none other than Cold Cicada.
Cold Cicada had a very low state; it would only be ranked at the bottom. For a high state being like the Fire Carp, it posed no threat. Yet, the pure chilly intent possessed by Cold Cicada made the Fire Carp feel uneasy and uncomfortable.
"It is the most formidable being in the Snowy Kingdom," said Jing Jiu.
The Fire Carp suddenly laughed out loud. His fish mouth changed shapes from round to flat alternatively; and the two slightly red front fins slapped his belly nonstop. It seemed that he was rubbing his belly because he laughed too much, to the point where his belly hurt.
"Do you really think I don't know anything because I'm in this isolated place? Do you really think I'm stupid because I look so cute?"
After some thought, Jing Jiu said, "I take back what I said earlier."
Cold Cicada stole a glance at Jing Jiu, feeling innocent as well as indignant.
The Fire Carp had finally stopped laughing. He said while panting, "I wanted to play this game with you a bit longer, but I couldn't help myself. If you could bring the Queen of Snowy Kingdom with you, I would let you go immediately without a moment's hesitation. Even if you brought those snowy demons who had already evolved into human form with you, I would be a bit intimidated. However, I don't believe that you are using this snowy beetle of the lowest state to scare me. I truly don't understand why you would do so nor what you are thinking."
"I'm actually thinking so," said Jing Jiu.
Cold Cicada perceived Jing Jiu's thought, and turned his belly up as soon as he could, facing upwards.
It was evident that Cold Cicada gestured his submissiveness.
"Are you going to give this snowy beetle to me as a gift?"
The Fire Carp continued angrily, "No…Even if you want to bribe his King, you have to bring me some valuable things. I think that large sword is pretty good."
Jing Jiu didn't make a response.
Cold Cicada suddenly rubbed his limbs against each other at a high speed, making a deep buzzing sound, like what the cicadas usually did in autumn.
The expression in the Fire Carp's eyes suddenly changed, because he had sensed that the snowy beetle was not making itself look cute and amicable; in fact, it was releasing some tiny objects.
Those objects were too small to be seen.
Yet, the Fire Carp had an apparent sensation of uneasiness. Looking at Jing Jiu, he pleaded while swaying his tail, "This friend, let's talk it over; okay?!"
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