Guo Nanshan was taken aback, as he asked, "Why did you say that?"
"It's because Wang Xiaoming is dead," said Jing Jiu.
Guo Nanshan said, "But neither the Windy-Broadsword Church nor the Magic Army of the imperial court has found his corpse."
Jing Jiu didn't explain more because he was certain that Wang Xiaoming was dead; it was inconsequential whether his corpse was found or not.
Guo Nanshan trusted Jing Jiu's judgment, and said with a grave expression, "If that person is Su Ziye, we have to be prudent about the matter."
After the battle of the West Ocean, everybody was aware that Su Ziye and the Center Sect had come to an agreement. If the person who attempted to gather his former colleagues and disciples of the Mysterious Dark Sect was Su Ziye, did he have the support of the Center Sect in secret? The "spring rain" had just fallen, and Cloud-Dream Mountain had just opened its mountain gate; would the force that had hidden in the shadow for three years reveal its true nature?
This was a tremendous threat to the Green Mountain Sect.
A look of caution displayed in Gu Qing's eyes, as he thought that Green Mountain should indeed send some people to check it out in Yizhou.
Jing Jiu said, "This is not something you people should worry about, since your Cultivation state is so low. You people should stay on the mountains to cultivate."
What Jing Jiu said was not unreasonable. The Green Mountain Sect and the Center Sect were the two main leaders of the orthodox Cultivation sects, both of which had profound resources and a great number of swordsmen. If a war took place between these two sects, the magic treasures and flying swords would fill the sky; the disciples of Liangwang Peak in their current Cultivation states wouldn't be able to play any role in the confrontation, and they would die for nothing.
Only the practitioners in the Broken Sea State and above could contribute to the outcome of the war at such a level.
Guo Nanshan felt ill at ease and was about to argue.
Yet, Jing Jiu continued, "You people can go out only after you break the Sea State."
Guo Nanshan felt indignant, thinking that the sect rules didn't have such a rule.
The actions taken by Liangwang Peak started with the Immortal Taiping and developed under the guidance of the Immortal Liu Ci.
Jing Jiu said that everything would follow the old rules the day when he inherited the position of the sect master, so why did he change the rules regarding Liangwang Peak?
"I think…you're biased against Liangwang Peak," said Guo Nanshan earnestly while looking at Jing Jiu.
"I don't like Liangwang Peak, but this has nothing to do with bias."
Jing Jiu went on, "Tell me how many disciples of Liangwang Peak have died in the last thirty years."
"Fourteen young brothers have returned their swords to Green Mountain," replied Guo Nanshan without a second thought.
These fourteen disciples of Green Mountain had died in the snowland, at the West Ocean, and during the countless battles against demons and monsters.
"The most talented and promising young disciples of Green Mountain had gone to Liangwang Peak before Layue and I inherited Shenmo Peak."
Jing Jiu continued, "They should have reached a higher Cultivation state without those experiences. Their deaths should occur during the moment of breaking through the states or by way of heavenly punishment."
Guo Nanshan had a hard time understanding what Jing Jiu was saying. "As the practitioners of sword work cultivation, if we don't experience the tests of life and death, how can we achieve Dao?" he argued.
Jing Jiu returned, "To ask the rich kids to transport sand bags for earning money is not an effective way to train their hard work and tenacious character; it's a silly idea."
Guo Nanshan understood what he meant now, but he couldn't accept Jing Jiu's judgment of these disciples. To say nothing of the disciples in the Free Travel State, even those in the Undefeated State were treated like immortals in the mortal world. According to Jing Jiu, the Liangwang Peak disciples in these Cultivation states were like a little child who had no ability to protect themselves.
Guo Nanshan protested, "Sect Master, you and Zhao Layue had traveled the world back then."
Jing Jiu shot him a glance.
Gu Qing knew that his Master intended to tell Guo Nanshan that there was no comparison between Guo Nanshan and him.
But, Jing Jiu wouldn't speak his mind.
He found that the most troublesome thing after becoming the sect master was not that he had to see many people, but the fact that he had to speak a great deal.
"It can help accelerate the progression of the Cultivation states to experience the tests of life and death, but one can also die during the tests. How could they break through the Cultivation states if they died? There will be a chance of breaking through the states only if one lives. Green Mountain will be more powerful if you people have a higher Cultivation state. This is a simple logic, and I don't wish to state it twice."
Guo Nanshan thought it was absurd, since Green Mountain didn't cultivate the Unaffectionate Dao; should they just do nothing?
"The demons and practitioners of the deviant sects killed by Liangwang Peak in the past three hundred years were fewer than those killed by your Master in one night."
Jing Jiu said at the end, "You should make the effort to think on it."
Though Guo Nanshan couldn't agree with what Jing Jiu said, he was also unable to refute the comparison mentioned by the Sect Master.
After returning to Liangwang Peak, he gathered You Silou, Gu Han and others and told them about his conversation with the Sect Master. These proud and courageous disciples of Liangwang Peak were not convinced, as they thought this new sect master had given them an unreasonable order. Some of them made disrespectable remarks. They quieted down only after Guo Nanshan chastised them.
"If we were all as powerful as my Master, no evildoer would dare show up in the world. But, how many people could become as powerful as my Master?"
Gu Han exclaimed angrily, "We can only go out after breaking through the Sea State? Those elders of the nine peaks in the Broken Sea State are staying behind closed doors every day, not even bothering showing up unless something significant occurs at the sect. There is no way they will go out of the mountains for the matters that are trivial in their eyes. If our Liangwang Peak is not allowed to go out, who will purge those demons and monsters? And who will protect those mortals?"
The forbidding order issued by the new sect master for Liangwang Peak had spread on Green Mountain very quickly, arousing a great deal of discussion and resentment. Liangwang Peak had been regarded as the sharpest sword of Green Mountain over the years. In the eyes of the young disciples of the peaks, it represented the image and glory of Green Mountain. Yet, they were forbidden to go out, what should they do next?
Jing Jiu had disliked Liangwang Peak since its start.
In fact, what he disliked were not those young disciples of Liangwang Peak, but the smell, the very existence of Liangwang Peak.
The masters in the Broken Sea State and the Heavenly Arrival State were preoccupied with their Cultivation in their respective manor caves behind closed doors, but they incited these young people in the Undefeated State and the Free Travel State to experience life and death in the outside world. This was an irresponsible conduct. If one thought more deeply about it, they would find that it was an extremely selfish practice.
If those masters thought a matter in the human world was not worthy of their time and efforts, why would they encourage these children to do it?
The other reason was that Jing Jiu disliked the crowd.
More people would come to Shenmo Peak after Chi Yan and Guo Nanshan.
The monkeys at the foot of the cliff screamed nonstop; it was indeed very exhilarating.
Seeing the melancholy on his beautiful face, Zhao Layue suggested sympathetically, "We might as well dismantle the forbidding formation."
The forbidding formation on Shenmo Peak was exceedingly powerful. Besides the likes of Yuan Qijing, those who wanted to meet the new sect master must land at the foot of the mountain and walk up until being received by Gu Qing in that small wooden hut. If the forbidding formation was dismantled, they could land on the peak top directly, and those monkeys wouldn't scream loudly at the foot of the mountain as a result.
Jing Jiu thought that it would be more irritating than those monkeys. He waved his hand to indicate that it was unnecessary, as he decided to put up with it.
He walked out of the manor cave and came to the edge of the cliff, looking at the opposite Qingrong Peak.
The new bamboo chair was nowhere to be found.
Jing Jiu expected Nan Wang to come right after Yuan Qijing left. However, she hadn't appeared until now.
"You've done a good job."
He praised the white cat inwardly while looking at him held in Zhao Layue's bosom.
Ada meowed while straightening up his body, and nuzzled a few times against Layue's face.
"I have to go to Shangde Peak," said Jing Jiu.
Ada buried his head in Layue's bosom after making a meow, as he didn't want to pay any more attention to Jing Jiu.
Zhao Layue was puzzled, as she thought that Jing Jiu had already stated that he would do nothing about Jian Ruoyun.
The saying "Cold cliffs in spring time" was most suitable to describe the condition on Shangde Peak.
The green pine trees in the peak looked like a sea, and the snowline had moved higher; but it was still rather chilly on the peak top.
The manor cave covered with snow and frost all year long looked even colder after being illuminated by the desolate light of the Sword of the Universe.
Standing by the well, Yuan Qijing turned to him and said, "Liangwang Peak was Liu Ci's badge of pride."
"He didn't do it for his own selfish purpose; but others might not think this way," said Jing Jiu.
Yuan Qijing said, "I understand what you mean; but not every Cultivation practitioner can behave like you."
"The Cultivation practitioners should behave like me," said Jing Jiu.
"You're right," said Yuan Qijing after some thought.
It was not something that they didn't want to do, but couldn't.
Though they couldn't do it, they should at least aspire to it.
At least that's what he and Liu Ci had done since a great many years ago, Yuan Qijing thought.
Jing Jiu suddenly asked him, "Is it true that it's harder for the sect master to go out of the mountains? Whom should I report to if I want to go out? You?"
"The sect master has the highest authority; so you can go out anytime you want to," replied Yuan Qijing.
Feeling baffled, Jing Jiu pressed, "But why did Liu Ci seldom go out?"
"Oh, he was just learning from you," said Yuan Qijing.
Recalling the farewells he bade to the Jing family, State Duke Lu, and the Emperor in Zhaoge City, Jing Jiu fell silent for a while.
Jing Jiu landed at the gloomy bottom of the well along with the natural light.
The Dead Dog opened his eyes and lowered his head slightly to greet him.
Jing Jiu returned his greeting and headed toward the deep part of the Sword Jail.
Bai Rujing's cell was not far from Jian Ruoyun's; they were close to the grand hall, with a decent setup in their cells.
It was quiet in both of the cells. The furious young man was probably exhausted after cursing for a few days and nights in a row. It was unclear what Bai Rujing was doing right now.
Jing Jiu didn't come here to pay Jian Ruoyun or Bai Rujing a visit.
After arriving at the grand hall, he looked at the passageway filled with the sword wills to his right, and fixed his gaze on the tightly closed stone door of the cell.
The Snow Girl in the cell sensed his arrival. She turned toward the stone door of the cell while wrapping herself in the quilt.
Their gazes met after traveling through the stone door and layers of sword wills, followed by a long period of silence.
The time was up.
Jing Jiu asked her before departing, "I've got a new bamboo chair; do you wish to make an exchange?"
The Snow Girl gurgled twice, indicating she didn't want to.
Coming to the end of the passage in the Sword Jail and pushing the stone gate open, Jing Jiu walked past the fog and arrived in the midst of the hermit peaks.
He called out the Sword of the Universe and rose up on the sword. After traveling among the clouds, he had come to a peak.
The back of this peak was exceedingly gloomy and dark, with a manor cave hidden behind the vines. The gemstone on the front door of the manor cave emitted the red glow.
Fang Jingtian was in this manor cave.
He was the peak master of Xilai in the upper state of the Broken Sea. He was rather qualified to contend for the position of sect master; but he had been forced by Yuan Qijing to stay behind closed doors in the hermit peaks three years ago, and he was isolated from the outside world. Yet, he was trying his best to break through the barrier of the Heavenly Arrival State.
Jing Jiu understood why Yuan Qijing had done so to Fang Jingtian. It was the punishment for his crime of colluding with the Immortal Taiping in secret. If Fang Jingtian couldn't enter the Heavenly Arrival State, he would die of old age in this manor cave, and became a dried-up corpse in a distant mountain peak.
This arrangement was also a test and even an incentive for Fang Jingtian.
If he could break through the barrier and become a figure in the Heavenly Arrival State, he would be able to get out of the hermit peaks.
In some sense, what Fang Jingtian was doing was no different from the disciples of Liangwang Peak who experienced the tests of life and death by means of purging the demons and monsters in the human world.
Jing Jiu had no idea whether Fang Jingtian could succeed or not, but he was certain that the day when Fang Jingtian walked out of the hermit peaks was the start of his own troubles.
Jing Jiu didn't leave immediately this time. He sat down with his legs crossed, took out the ceramic plate that he hadn't used for a long time, and began to pile the sand.
The sand piling was a game, and also a method of meditating. It could be considered a method of calculating.
Fang Jingtian in the manor cave was not the same as the Snow Girl; so he couldn't sense the presence of Jing Jiu.
The sunlight moved slowly from the east to the west. The shadows of the endless peaks created by the sunlight had different shapes, the colors of which were also changing constantly, sometimes lighter and sometimes darker.
As dusk arrived, Jing Jiu had finished the calculation. He stashed away the sand plate, got up and departed.
The result of his calculation was not very good, but it was not too bad either.
Yet, it didn't mean that the result was ambiguous and directionless; it actually had many implications.
On the whole, he could accept such a result.
Jing Jiu went to the manor cave where Tong Yan stayed behind closed doors. After glancing at the emerald stone above the front door, he pushed it open and walked in.
Tong Yan was in the middle of his meditational cultivation. The faint smoke above his head looked like a tree.
The outward appearance of the Dao Tree indicated that his Cultivation state had improved again. He had probably completed his Yuanjing State, but was still far away from the Huashen State.
Tong Yan opened his eyes and said to him, "This is a very rude invasion."
His eyebrows grew lighter after he had made some progress in Cultivation or for some other reason. His light eyebrows and the tender face made him look more amiable when he tried to show a solemn countenance.
It was indeed an irritating thing when a Cultivation practitioner was interrupted at a critical moment.
Jing Jiu didn't heed his complaint. He pressed a spot under the table slightly, making the emerald stone outside the manor cave turn red.
Then, he said to Tong Yan, "Su Ziye pretends to be Wang Xiaoming in an attempt to revive the Mysterious Dark Sect. Gu Qing is not good at this sort of thing. What are your thoughts?"
"Su Ziye is not my friend," Tong Yan said, "but he is He Zhan's friend and my former ally."
Jing Jiu said, "I'm not familiar with He Zhan, and he is the ally of the Center Sect; but you're a disciple of Green Mountain now."
Tong Yan demanded while staring into his eyes, "Do the Green Mountain disciples have such a duty?"
Jing Jiu uttered "hmm".
"I have no idea which peak I belong to; but I don't think I'm a disciple of Shenmo Peak."
Tong Yan went on with a faint smile, "I won't join Shenmo Peak, and it's not against our accord. So you can't order me to do anything."
"It's unimportant that you're a disciple of which peak," said Jing Jiu. "It's because I'm the sect master now."
It was unexpected. Tong Yan was shocked to hear it. It took him a long time to come back to his senses.
Jing Jiu stared at his eyes, listened to his heartbeats and the flow of his blood, and sensed his energy. He was certain that Tong Yan's reaction was genuine.
It meant that he hadn't contacted the outside world, and the Green Girl hadn't come to the hermit peaks to seek him.
Tong Yan used the magic to condense a cup of water. He handed it to Jing Jiu with both hands and said, "Please have some tea, Sect Master."
Jing Jiu took it.
"Su Ziye shouldn't draw so much attention from you," Tong Yan offered.
Jing Jiu said, "The Young Mysterious Dark Master is behind him."
Tong Yan understood his intent.
Behind the Young Mysterious Dark Master was the Immortal Taiping.
"Besides, Liu Ci is gone. The Center Sect will do something about it. You should know this better than anybody else."
Jing Jiu went on, "You write out a corresponding plan and figure out how to deal with them."
Tong Yan stared at him quietly.
Jing Jiu asked, "Do you wish to go back?"
"No," said Tong Yan.
Then, he took out the chessboard, and placed dozens of chess pieces on it.
Please go to https://www.readlightnovel.cc/The-Path-Toward-Heaven/
to read the latest chapters for free