The following events had often occurred in the human world.
A wicked chancellor brought the royal seal to a king, telling him that he was destined to possess the seal and that he would be punished by heaven otherwise.
A thief told his boss that the young woman across the street was as beautiful as a flower.
An advisor told his benefactor that he had heard that a jade screen in a manor house was exceedingly precious.
Those people were all wicked, and what they did were all evil deeds.
Tong Yan didn't look like a hero with thick eyebrows and big eyes, but he nonetheless was a promising disciple of the Center Sect, a leader of the orthodox sects. Yet, why would he make such a suggestion tonight? More interestingly, Liu Ci, as the sect master of the Green Mountain Sect, a leader of the orthodox sects, didn't reproach Tong Yan, instead actually thinking about it seriously, saying, "It's probably not convenient to do so right now, because the Cloud Boat, has entered Zhongzhou already, according to my calculations."
"The boat just entered," said Jing Jiu.
It was evident that Jing Jiu had done some calculations after hearing what Tong Yan suggested.
Judging from the way the Center Sect left the West Ocean that day, they were very wary of the Green Mountain Sect doing something outrageous, so they tried and go back to Cloud-Dream Mountain as quickly as they could.
Once they were within the territory of the Great Formation of the Cloud Dream, Liu Ci and Jing Jiu wouldn't be able to do anything to them even though their combined forces were unmatched by any power in the world.
"I had dug tunnels under Cloud-Dream Mountain for six years. As such, I know the Great Formation of Cloud-Dream very well, and it's also because I'm good at playing chess. I've written down some methods of dismantling it."
Tong Yan had said something that shocked the other two.
Liu Ci said to Tong Yan, "If the Center Sect knew about it, you would meet your death for sure."
Tong Yan suggested that the Green Mountain Sect go to the Center Sect to snatch the Green Sky Mirror, and he was also willing to offer advice and a plan for the action. No Cultivation sect would tolerate such a crime, even if Tong Yan had just done something extremely beneficial for the Center Sect.
What Tong Yan suggested was not a fake betrayal; it was absolutely genuine.
"I've never thought of it," Tong Yan said.
His eyebrows appeared even lighter under the starlight, corresponding to his view of life and death at the moment.
Jing Jiu pressed, "Have you thought that we might want to kill you?"
The Green Mountain Sect had enough reasons to kill Tong Yan, whether to silence him or avenge Liu Ci for his heavenly punishment.
"Yes, I've thought of it," Tong Yan said evenly, "but I didn't dwell on it. As I have told you, I'm a chess player; I only have black and white, evil and good, in my eyes. I think the Immortal Taiping deserves death, so I tried my best to kill him. It was your issue that your Green Mountain Sect wanted to save him; so you should take the responsibility of the aftermath. I'm not responsible."
Jing Jiu remarked, "I didn't expect you to behave like Shisui."
"That's why he and I got along so well," said Tong Yan.
Back when Jing Jiu and Bai Zao were trapped in the snowland after Luo Huainan's sneak attack, Tong Yan, Zhao Layue and Liu Shisui worked together and killed Luo Huainan.
This was the past event he was referring to.
It was indeed a past event because more than twenty years had passed since then.
Jing Jiu shot Liu Ci a glance.
Liu Ci looked at Tong Yan, his eyes full of appreciation, yet Liu Ci didn't accept his request, saying, "I can't approve it."
Tong Yan didn't show astonishment or disappointment, but waiting for the ensuing condition quietly.
Liu Ci said, "Unless both you and the Green Sky Mirror join my Green Mountain."
Tong Yan said after some thought, "Okay."
He accepted the condition in such a straightforward manner; Tong Yan's style of action was indeed unlike the Center Sect.
Jing Jiu thought he should be a disciple of Green Mountain based on his temperament.
In the dark night, the starlight shone on the deck of the sword boat covered with a layer of frost.
Tong Yan landed on the deck.
Yuan Qü stared at Tong Yan vacuously, thinking that he shouldn't show Tong Yan a welcoming face even though the Immortal Sect Master and Young Senior Master didn't kill Tong Yan.
Tong Yan didn't pay him any mind. He walked to a corner and sat down cross-legged, beginning to recuperate by meditation.
The snow and frost were the same as before, devoid of any footprint.
Nan Wang opened her eyes, and stared at Tong Yan quietly.
She had learned from Zhao Layue what had happened at the West Ocean. She had been remaining silent with her eyes shut ever since, seemingly very tired.
She suddenly said to Tong Yan, "I may not know why they didn't kill you, but I'll kill you after Liu Ci dies."
Tong Yan remained silent.
The whole of the Cultivation circle knew that Nan Wang had grown up spoiled by her big brothers; she was self-indulgent and inconsiderate, and had a very high status on Green Mountain.
She could do whatever she wanted to.
Zhao Layue noticed that Nan Wang didn't use the respectful title of the Immortal Sect Master, nor did she use Big Brother to address Liu Ci; instead, she used his name directly.
The night wind couldn't ruffle the starlight; the sword boat had no mast. But the people on the boat had their respective troubling thoughts.
Gu Qing was not around.
Yuan Qü couldn't handle it.
Zhao Layue didn't know how to deal with the situation.
It was then that a surprised, curious and excited voice broke out on the boat.
"Are you Tong Yan? Are you the genius of the Center Sect who is only slightly inferior to my Master in chess playing? What are you doing here?"
Looking at his light eyebrows, Ping Yongjia recalled the person he had seen at the West Ocean during the day. "Are you going to abandon your own sect and join us?" he asked.
He was in such an excited state that his eyebrows were rising up constantly, as if they would fly away.
Silence more often than not indicated nervousness, though sometimes it indicated embarrassment.
Ping Yongjia realized that what he had just said was somewhat inappropriate, so he began to rub his hands nervously, feeling a bit mortified.
He suddenly thought of something, and picked up a blanket to cover Tong Yan from head to toe, saying, "We can't let others see him to provide the Center Sect with the excuse. I'll find a cave for you to hide in for a few years when we get back to Green Mountain, then I'll change your appearance and give you a new name. Who would be able recognize you by then?!"
Seeing this, Yuan Qü couldn't stand it anymore; he turned around and faced a different direction.
Nan Wang sneered.
Zhao Layue knew nothing bad would happen, and so she closed her eyes, paying no more attention to the matter.
The white cat changed his sleeping posture after snuggling a few times in her bosom, keeping his eyes shut the entire time. He had no interest in Tong Yan…or anybody else.
The atmosphere on the sword boat became cheerful instantly.
Tong Yan sat under the starlight while being wrapped in the blanket.
It was completely dark in front of his eyes, with Tong Yan thinking that what that disciple of Shenmo Peak said was actually quite sensible even though he didn't know who the speaker was.
The same starlight had different brightness at different elevations; for instance, it looked like the snow on the deck of sword boat in the sky, but it looked like water on the top of a peak in the human world.
Water is pure and soft; if it accumulates as much as in a lake or a sea, it can absorb and contain almost everything. The Immortal Liu Ci was likened by many people to water and its characteristics.
Yet, his attitude toward Tong Yan had nothing to do with his broad-mindedness; it was mostly because of his appreciation of some aspects of Tong Yan and his tremendous responsibilities as the sect master.
Liu Ci said, "It seems that he has a high opinion of Liu Shisui."
"It was I who had brought up Shisui," said Jing Jiu.
It meant that Liu Shisui was quite good, and he must be outstanding.
Liu Ci stroked his short beard softly, feeling satisfied. "How did you know the Liu family were my descendants?" he asked.
Jing Jiu said, "It's because I cared about you."
"But you informed Shangde Peak first when you came back to Green Mountain," said Liu Ci.
Many years ago when Master Lü who hailed from Shangde Peak had heard the news, he went to that small village in an effort to bring back Liu Shisui, who was of natural Dao quality.
And he later noticed the youth lying on the bamboo chair by the pond.
What Liu Ci referred to was this affair.
"I hailed from Shangde Peak to begin with; what's wrong with it?" Jing Jiu snapped.
Liu Ci thought that he hailed from Shangde Peak as far as the original peak was concerned, and that it was hard to converse with Jing Jiu.
"When Liu Shisui had the mishap," Jing Jiu said, "I had let the monkeys inform you first."
What he referred to was the incident when Liu Shisui swallowed the devil pill in the Muddy River and was imprisoned in the Sword Jail.
Many of these sorts of affairs had happened over the last thirty years.
Gu Qing talked to the monkeys, and Yuan Qü went to Shangde Peak. They had revealed all the secrets tonight.
"You always say that I do things indecisively, and that I do things one way at a time and another way at another time. You are doing mostly the same."
Liu Ci went on, "You've tested Big Brother at a time, and tested me at another time. You've trusted no one. You can't keep on doing this."
Jing Jiu said while looking at the sword boat in the night sky, "I only distrusted you two."
Though he didn't intend to change his way of life, he had already added some people by his side, those whom he could trust.
Those people were probably sitting on the sword boat right now in the dark sky, save for Gu Qing and Liu Shisui, who weren't present.
Even though it was the true "meeting after a long departure", the Cultivation practitioners like Jing Jiu and Liu Ci didn't chat about their past like mortals; besides, they didn't have enough time for this sort of chitchat. As they were talking, they had checked the maps and dismantling methods left by Tong Yan, and they had also made some corrections to them.
Having done all this, they were to set out on their trip.
When Green Mountain launched the crusade against the West Ocean Sword Sect, they traveled on seventeen sword boats; it was because the sword style of Green Mountain was honest and honorable.
But, the two of them were on their way to steal something this time; so they had to do it as stealthily as possible. As such, they couldn't ride on a sword boat.
Looking at Jing Jiu, Liu Ci said earnestly, "The sword cloud is too slow."
"Don't even think about it," said Jing Jiu.
No sooner had Jing Jiu said this than the Sword of the Universe had drifted up in the air and hovered in the night sky outside the cliff's edge, waiting for them.
After a glance at the Sword of the Universe, Liu Ci said in disdain, "As I said before, this sword is too dirty."
Jing Jiu didn't heed him, and sat on the Sword of the Universe in front.
Liu Ci could opt not to sit on it if he disliked it so much.
Yet, he had no choice but to sit on the sword.
The Sword of the Universe shot up into the sky, heading to the distant Cloud-Dream Mountain.
Jing Jiu sat in front with his eyes shut.
Liu Ci propped himself against Jing Jiu's back in the rear, his two long legs swinging back and forth over the edge of the sword under the starlight.
The starlight looked like water.
Liu Ci was like a child stepping on the water for fun.
The morning fog was the thickest during the early morning hours.
Cloud-Dream Mountain was shrouded in fog, obstructing the view of the mountain. When the sunlight shone through the fog, a dreamy and illusory sensation would easily occur to the onlookers.
The fog was stirred a bit when the Green Girl flapped her wings. She turned her head to look at the beautiful valleys, her eyes swelling with tears that looked like the dews on the leaves.
This was the place where she had lived all her life. As for how long she had lived here, she didn't even know, since tens of thousands of years had passed.
Yet, she wasn't sad because she was to leave her home, but because of another matter.
Liu Ci and Jing Jiu didn't tell her that Tong Yan had already gone to Green Mountain.
It would be better if fewer people knew about the matter. And they couldn't let the Green Girl know about it for now. Since she was a naïve and newly born child, the information would be easily extracted from her by others.
Jing Jiu didn't give a response to her question, as he walked increasingly faster in front with his hands folded behind his back. He looked like an old farmer rushing to the mountain to check on his crops.
Liu Ci extended his right hand to let the Green Girl land on it, asking, "Do you blame him?"
"Yes…" the Green Girl said, the tears running down her cheeks, "but will he die?"
"No, he won't," Liu Ci assured her.
The Green Girl wiped the tears off her face with her small hand, trotted to Liu Ci's shoulder and sat down, saying nothing more.
This place was still within the territory of the Great Formation of Cloud-Dream. Though they were near the perimeter of the formation, it would still be quite dangerous if they were detected by the Center Sect.
As such, she should behave more maturely and try to make less trouble for this old immortal, the Green Girl thought.
As for Jing Jiu, she was not inclined to talk to him yet.
They traveled in the fog along with the wind. After a while they had finally left Cloud-Dream Mountain behind.
The Sword of the Universe shot skyward; Liu Ci felt relieved at last.
Yet, Jing Jiu was baffled by his demeanor. As long as they obtained the Green Sky Mirror, their goal had been achieved. Even if they were discovered by the Immortals Tan and Bai, or the Unicorn, the worst scenario would be a fight between them. It was without question that the two of them could defeat them, and the Great Formation of Cloud-Dream couldn't contain them either; what was Liu Ci worried about then?
"This is the first time I've stolen something; so I can't help but feel a bit nervous," Liu Ci explained.
"I've never been a thief either," Jing Jiu said. But he added after some thought, "Zhao Layue and I took a conical hat without paying for it some years ago in Shangzhou City. Was it stealing?"
"Taking without asking is of course stealing," said Liu Ci.
Jing Jiu said, "In that case, I'm more experienced than you in stealing."
This trip to Cloud-Dream Mountain seemed simple enough; but it was actually rather dangerous.
Yet, they had somehow stolen the true spirit of the heavenly state inside the Great Formation of Cloud-Dream.
Even though they had help from Tong Yan, Liu Ci and Jing Jiu were the only ones in one thousand years in Chaotian who had successfully done so.
The red sun had finally peeked over the ocean of clouds, making them feel warm and pleasant.
Liu Ci thought that he should go to a few more places since it was not so easy for him to come out of Green Mountain. So he said to Jing Jiu, "Let's go destroy the Mysterious Dark Sect."
"Sounds good to me," said Jing Jiu.
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