Jing Jiu didn't ride on his sword, though it was for security and out of his usual habit.
Jing Jiu was someone who was always cautious about everything. As he had just come out from the underground, he met three disciples of the Mysterious Dark Church, so he had to find out what was going on in the vicinity of the Cold Mountain.
There was an isolated mountain up ahead. Jing Jiu headed toward it.
The higher the elevation of the plain, the lighter the grasses on the ground became; they would change from yellowish to totally white, just like the snow.
He crested the isolated mountain, and sat down. In front of him was a broken cliff, facing the barren plain below.
The Sword of the Universe left his hand, cut some frosty grass and piled them on the ground and his body; then the sword slid into the pile of grass soundlessly.
Jing Jiu held his energy and breath, becoming an unnoticeable stone. Even if someone walked past him, they wouldn't be able to detect him.
He looked at the barren plain in front of the cliff. He found that the green grasses that were impossible to spot at a close distance decorated the plain with scattered green patches when seen from a long distance.
Jing Jiu realized that it was already early spring.
The early spring was the time when all the living things grew; it was also the time when the Inherited Sword Competition took place.
That youth could climb so high on the Sword Peak, and his expression was both nervous and genuine when he saw Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue. In addition, the way he rolled down the mountain while holding his head was very proficient. All in all, he was someone that could be trained by him. Jing Jiu wasn't sure if Gu Qing had taken care of this matter.
What he did was something he had learned from his Big Brother; in so doing, he could avoid the helpless situation he had been in during his former life.
It was always a good thing if one had more disciples to help out, like Fang Jingtian, the Rooster and Dead Dog, Monk Duhai, the Young Mysterious Dark Master, and Underworld Master, whom he had just met.
Hence, he had taken on Liu Shisui in that small village, followed by Zhao Layue, Gu Qing, Yuan Qü, and that youth whose name was still unknown to him.
But, if some of his disciples turned out to be the likes of Liu Ci and Yuan Qijing, it would be troublesome.
He didn't reach a pact with Underworld Master this time. It seemed impossible to persuade him; but it had substantiated something. So he was in a good mood.
He had indeed fooled his Big Brother.
The Underworld Master knew he was Jing Jiu, but didn't know or didn't think that he was Jing Yang.
Otherwise, Underworld Master should have laughed when he said "I'm good at persuading his disciples to betray him."
It took him a long time to come up with that statement; it should be funny enough.
The Underworld Master was his third disciple, so why didn't he give any response?
In his view, his Big Brother was an interesting person who chased after interesting things. As such, his disciples should be interesting as well. The fact that the Underworld Master didn't respond to his comment demonstrated that the Underworld Master didn't believe Jing Jiu was Jing Yang. If the comment was not made by Jing Yang who was responsible for the affairs, it would be uninteresting; on the other hand, it would be absurd and make it difficult for others to respond to.
Well, Yuan Qijing might be an exception.
Yet, Jing Jiu found that his judgment might not be so accurate, and there were some logical holes. He couldn't help but feel regretful, thinking that he should find time to go to Shangde Peak when he got back to Green Mountain and make this comment to Yuan Qijing to see what would his response would be.
As he thought about all this, Jing Jiu had surveyed the plain below the cliff one more time.
He saw some wild grasses that would erect occasionally in the barren plain of one hundred square miles. The still frozen streams didn't escape the notice of his sword vision.
He also saw the disciples of the Mysterious Dark Church clearly.
There were three hundred and twenty two of them.
Since it was far away, he couldn't figure out the Cultivation states of these disciples. What he could do was judge by the decorations on their clothes. He found that at least a dozen of them were elders.
Those disciples of the Mysterious Dark Church were divided into groups of three, and the groups were at a preset distance from each other. They looked like the chess pieces on a chessboard. They had besieged the whole barren plain, making sure that nobody could escape. Even if that person could kill three disciples of the Mysterious Dark Church in an instant like what Jing Jiu did, he would still have a hard time breaking through this large net.
Jing Jiu's gaze followed the distribution of those groups toward a spot in the northwest that was three hundred miles away.
There was a red valley there, full of the dry energy of fire sources. He could sense the threat even at such a distance. The place was none other than the headquarters of the Mysterious Dark Church.
When Jing Jiu led Gu Qing to the West Ocean a few years ago, they had passed through the sky over this place.
He had witnessed the power of the Sun Banner that night, and also sensed a gaze filled with lethal intent.
He knew whom the gaze belonged to.
That little cripple had a murderous intent toward Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue due to the death of his adopted father, Shi Fengchen.
Jing Jiu told Gu Qing back then that he would kill that person if he had a chance.
He glanced at his right hand.
Soaking his body in the hot underground lava for a long time had its benefits, one of which was that his body was a lot more pliable; so he could reshape it easily.
Judging by its shape, his right hand looked exactly the same as his left hand now.
Yet, the pros would be accompanied by some cons as well.
The pliability could often overcome the rigidity, but it couldn't replace certain functions of the hardness.
Though his right hand had recovered a great deal and become sharp enough, it was still not perfect yet.
The naked eyes couldn't detect this imperfection, nor could the perception. To put it in a more delicate way, the imperfection was not actually a real existence.
Not even the demon bones could rub it off.
Jing Jiu looked again at the red valley three hundred miles away.
The Fire Carp should have been injured by the Sun Banner.
The Sun Banner was indeed a deviant magic treasure; its prowess was truly dreadful.
Even if his right hand had fully recovered, could he kill Wang Xiaoming, who held this banner?
He found another weakness of the Green Mountain Sect.
The people on Green Mountain were preoccupied with cultivating sword work, so they paid no attention to or were not used to employing the magic treasures.
This habit had continued for tens of thousands of years. As a result, a strange phenomenon occurred, one in which the Green Mountain Sect didn't have any magic treasure.
Of course, when the sword styles of nine peaks of Green Mountain were cultivated to an extreme degree, the sword styles would generate a prowess as formidable as the Dao Methods or the magic treasures.
However, they were still not the true magic treasures.
A regular disciple of the Center Sect could have an extra life if they held the Seal of Ten-Thousand Miles in their hands, like what Luo Huainan did.
A regular disciple of the Mysterious Dark Church would have the prowess of the Heavenly Arrival State if holding the Sun Banner, like what Want Xiaoming had done.
But, what could a regular Green Mountain disciple do even with the Three-Foot Sword?
Could Yuan Qü go to the West Ocean and use the Three-Foot Sword to cut the Flying Whale into three thousand pieces?
The sword grew its power with the owner.
Jing Jiu shook his head. In the next moment, he felt baffled, wondering what magic treasure the Church Master Xiaoming was interested in this time now that he had already had the Sun Banner, because they were engaged in a truly extensive search.
The red valley didn't perceive Jing Jiu's gaze; it was still as calm as before. The place was quiet and meanwhile scorching hot.
The Mysterious Dark Sect was nevertheless a major deviant sect that had existed for several thousands of years. Though they were attacked by the Green Mountain Sect once, their sources were still profound. The Sect Master of Kunlun, the Immortal He, merely dared watch in the distance. During the battle of the Cloud Platform, the Immortal Bai didn't get off the cloud when she came to the Cold Mountain to intimidate the deviant practitioners; it was evident that she was cautious about their prowess.
There were a few cliff caves on the cliff wall in the deep end of the valley. After the hot air passing through the cave, it felt a lot cooler there.
The former sect master Su Qige lay in the bed, looking at Gao Ya standing by the edge of the cliff cave. He let show a mocking smile as he said, "The Sun Banner was only the foundation of this Great Formation, and couldn't leave this place. Who could have thought that it could have such a powerful effect? To think about it, do you feel somewhat regretful?"
As an elder of the seventh generation, Gao Ya had lived in this valley for a great many years; so he was extremely familiar with the Sun Banner. Hearing this comment, his face looked terrible, as he remarked sharply, "The Church Master can kill all the divine beings with the Sun Banner. It's a great benefit for our church; so I have nothing to regret about."
"I had told you that it was tantamount to asking a tiger for its hide when you used him to drive away Su Ziye," Su Qige said with a small smile. "The Church Master is indeed not good at scheming, and his other capabilities are also ordinary, but one thing is certain: He will never be your puppet, because he is a real devil man."
Gao Ya sneered twice before asking, "You have said this many times already; what do you really want?"
Su Qige said, "I have also said…if this keeps going on, the shadows will arrive again someday."
Gao Ya was aware of what he referred to was the tragic event that had happened many years ago.
The Mysterious Dark Sect had been arrogant and done whatever evil deeds they felt like doing back then. It became the most powerful deviant sect after the Bloody Demon Church.
The Sect Master was talented in Cultivation and exceptional in demonic magic. He called himself the "Young Mysterious Dark Master". He used the name of sect for his own name, and was arrogant to the extreme extent.
However, his arrogance offended some people whom he shouldn't in the first place.
The two immortals of Green Mountain led the swordsmen of the nine peaks charging to the north, and killed many disciples of the Mysterious Dark Sect, turning the place into a bloody river. Even the headquarters left by their ancestors were also destroyed.
The Young Mysterious Dark Master was forced to hide in the underground, becoming a hidden swordsman who had no chance to see the sun again.
"I'm not sure which is more arrogant, that is, using the name of the sect as one's own name or changing sect to church. All I know is the Sun Banner grow increasingly stronger, and our young church master is the only one who knows how to control it with the ancient secret method. As such, he will become more arrogant."
With a sneer, Gao Ya commented, "He even dared irritate the sleeping King of Fire; how arrogant will he be later?"
Su Qige remarked in a mocking tone, "He dares to snatch the magic treasure from the Center Sect; do you really think he would care about a divine animal of the Center Sect?"
After a moment of silence, Gao Ya asked, "The reason the Center Sect expelled Tong Yan is because he has stolen the Green Sky Mirror…do you think it's true?"
"Though I don't know where the Church Master learned the news," said Su Qige, "I believe it's true."
Looking at those disciples heading toward the outside of the valley to help with the searching effort, Gao Ya asked in a whisper, "Do you worry that a similar tragic event will happen again if the Green Sky Mirror ends up in the hands of the Church Master?"
"We were beaten by the Green Mountain Sect. Do you think that we can beat the Center Sect?" Su Qige offered.
"If the Church Master could temper the Green Sky Mirror, our church would have another magic treasure in the Heavenly Arrival State. Regardless of whether it was the Green Mountain Sect or the Center Sect, they will have to consider the price when facing two objects of the Heavenly Arrival State…" Gao Ya continued after another pause, "Anyway, what can a bunch of old guys like us do?"
Su Qige said, "It was said that someone had seen the Great Grandmaster back when the event at the Fruit Formation Temple took place a few years ago."
Gao Ya sneered, "You even believe in such a ridiculous rumor."
"Yes," Su Qige said. "I didn't believe it at first, but I have no choice but to believe it now."
Gao Ya turned around and saw the seeming smile on Su Qige's face, raising his eyebrows slightly. In the next moment, his expression changed abruptly when he saw the command board produced by Su Qige.
As said earlier, Gao Ya had lived at the Mysterious Dark Sect for a great many years, and his generation was even higher that Su Qige's; so he knew many things others didn't.
"Did the Great Grandmaster actually come out from his hiding place?"
Though Gao Ya was stunned, he didn't lose his senses. Staring into Su Qige's eyes, he demanded tersely, "You have been paralyzed for so many years, and persecuted by your own son; no disciple at the sect is following you anymore. Yet, where did you get this?"
Su Qige said calmly, "It's indeed the case that nobody is loyal to me. But there are many people who are still loyal to my wicked son. Whenever I think about it, I would feel I'm a loser; yet, at the same time…I feel I'm quite lucky."
Jing Jiu sat in front of the cliff of the isolated mountain.
Covered with the stalks of grass, he looked like a real stone. Along with the changes of the sunlight, his appearances altered as well.
Night fell. The regular disciples of the Mysterious Dark Church should have no chance of detecting his trace. But he still sat in the same spot, looking at the barren plain quietly. He could calculate the location of that magic treasure based on the distribution of the members of the Mysterious Dark Church.
It was evident that he couldn't calculate the precise location of the treasure simply based on the distribution of the searchers; otherwise, the Mysterious Dark Church would have found that magic treasure a long time ago. What he calculated was a general location.
The "stone" in front of the cliff of the isolated mountain suddenly disappeared.
He reappeared in a patch of grass five miles away.
If he employed the Underworld Fairy Sword as a magician, he would be very popular in the mortal world.
He didn't find any marks in this patch of grass; but he smelled a faint scent.
The scent was truly light; it smelled like the cup of wine he poured into the lake of the Zhao garden outside Zhaoge City many years ago.
Normally, he shouldn't be able to smell this faint scent, regardless of how sensitive his senses were, because he was not like the Dead Dog.
The reason he could smell the scent was because he was very familiar with it.
Back when he talked to the King of Fire Carps in the underground river of lava, he had sensed the familiarity.
By now he realized whom the Mysterious Dark Church was looking for; he couldn't help but feel surprised.
As the Underworld Fairy Sword rose up, Jing Jiu vanished from the original spot. Following the faint scent, he came to another valley and another icy stream.
He had been searching around for a long time, without triggering the formations set up by the Mysterious Dark Church or being discovered by them.
As the morning sun peeked over the horizon, he had finally found the target among a patch of dead forest.
It was an ordinary weed with two leaves, swaying in the cold wind. It seemed that it would fall down at any moment; but its color was rather lush.
He reached out his hands and pulled aside the dirt under the weed, and touched a hard object.
It was a bronze mirror, with delicate and complicated patterns etched on it.
In fact, those patterns were composed of countless figurines of buildings, stone bridges, barren mountains, and people.
Yet, these figurines were extremely small, less than one part out of ten thousand of a rice grain. Nobody, apart from him, could see the true appearances of these figurines.
Jing Jiu's fingers ran over the bronze mirror slowly; it was unclear if he felt sentimental or not.
How long had he lived there, seventy years or eighty years?
He lived in the Royal Palace of Chu State in the beginning, and later he went to Buzhou Mountain. But he had been to nowhere else there.
It was certain that he hadn't seen those buildings, stone bridges, and barren mountains.
Yet, he might have seen some of those people.
He knocked on the bronze mirror.
"Open the door."
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