A few days later, Que Niang came to the small courtyard with a pile of books in her
These books included the old scrolls and notes along with some new notes, which were
the results of analysis done by the elders of the Mirror Sect.
Jing Jiu didn't take all of these books. He read them all in the small courtyard and
memorized all the important content.
It turned out that Yan Zhenlu was indeed the expelled disciple of the Mirror Sect. There
was a complicated story regarding the relationship between him and the Mirror Sect, but
it was not something Jing Jiu was interested in.
What he wanted to know was whether Yan Zhenlu's Theory of the Mirror's Flower or
Method of Splitting Mirrors was described truthfully in that booklet found on Shiyue
After having calculated for four hours, Jing Jiu reached a conclusion: If Yan Zhenlu
proceeded according to his initial idea, the Method of Splitting Mirrors shouldn't have
ended up as it was now. Somebody had changed something in the seemingly
insignificant part of the seventh split mirror; that person had switched the order of
process, causing an unnoticeable but fatal flaw in the Formation of the Dispersed
Smoke and Clouds.
The booklet was collected by Shiyue Peak 734 years ago, and his Big Brother started
contemplating the Formation of the Dispersed Smoke and Clouds 733 years ago. These
two events happened too closely to be dismissed as the coincidence, so there could be
only one conclusion: The booklet was brought to Shiyue Peak by his Big Brother, and it
was he who had changed the seventh split mirror in the Method of Splitting Mirrors. Yet
why would he do that?
Jing Jiu remained silent while gazing at the cold plums outside the window.
Zhao Layue seldom saw Jing Jiu in such an embittered condition, and it made Que
Niang feel a bit nervous as well.
Jing Jiu was unsure whether he should feel glad or disappointed at the moment, though
when he remembered that his Big Brother didn't tell him about the change at the very
end, he believed that he should feel angry.
Since the Formation of the Dispersed Smoke and Clouds had a flaw, it must be
repaired, but he was unsure if he was capable of fixing it.
That senior master, Yan Zhenlu, had merely come up with the idea; he hadn't attempted
If it wouldn't work out, he had no choice but to find another way to ascend.
He thought of all this as he looked at his right hand.
Before their departure, Que Niang bowed to the ground before Jing Jiu. Jing Jiu told her
that she could go to Green Mountain to visit him any time. As for playing Go, he thought
that he could simply bring her to the hermit peaks so that she could play it with Tong
Yet, what Zhao Layue couldn't understand was why Jing Jiu trusted this female disciple
of the Mirror Sect so much since he didn't know her that well.
Jing Jiu didn't even know how to explain it. In fact, it had something to do with "judging a
person based on the way they play chess". However, if he told Zhao Layue this, it would
mean that he agreed with Tong Yan on the matter.
By the time they came back to Shenmo Peak, the Plum Meeting in Zhaoge City had
finished. A few days later, the Immortal Guangyuan came to Shenmo Peak to report
what had happened at the meeting, and Jing Jiu found out why Que Niang was so
worried about the meeting.
The cooperation between the imperial court and the major Cultivation sects included the
complicated allocations of resources for Cultivation. At every Plum Meeting, the quotas
would be adjusted slightly based on the contributions of various sects. For instance, the
quotas for the West Ocean Sword Sect and the No-Mercy Sect had been changed
considerably because of the changes of their relative strengths.
The Green Mountain Sect and the Center Sect had always sat on the highest spots in
the Plum Garden, and the resources for Cultivation in Chaotian would be provided to
them first. So they had no need to worry about their quotas being reduced.
However, a shocking event had happened at this year's Plum Meeting: The Center Sect
requested to have the resources of Cultivation for the Green Mountain Sect reduced.
The reason the Center Sect offered sounded sensible enough. The various sects had
paid a steep price for suppressing the Underworld; the Green Mountain Sect had been
in charge of pursuing the devil men of the Underworld scattered in many places.
However, the Underworld was quite inactive right now, and none of the resentful souls
could be found in all of Chaotian; so the Green Mountain Sect had nothing to do at the
moment. Why should they use so much of the resources? Not to mention that the
reduction of the quota for the Green Mountain Sect requested by the Center Sect was
minimal; in fact, it was so minimal that not even a small sect would care.
Still, a reduction was a reduction, no matter how minimal it was. If this request were
allowed, the Center Sect would seek to weaken the status of the Green Mountain Sect
further in the future.
The Green Mountain Sect couldn't possibly accept such a request, of course.
The Immortal Guangyuan and Elder Yue Qianmen of the Center Sect quarreled
vehemently at the Net-Perception Temple; they were even on the brink of fighting each
The dangerous outcome was avoided only after the Young Zen Master had spoken.
He told Yue Qianmen, "You're no match for the Immortal Guangyuan, so yelling loudly
As the Immortal Guangyuan recounted the event to this point, he didn't laugh, nor did
Jing Jiu or Zhao Layue.
Ping Yongjia's laughter was stopped by a slap from Yuan Qü.
The Young Zen Master wouldn't speak for the benefit of Green Mountain right now;
what he said must have a deeper meaning…or it was a warning to Green Mountain
Yue Qianmen was indeed no match for Immortal Guangyuan. In fact, no one among the
twelve valley masters on Cloud-Dream Mountain was a match for the Immortal
However, the Immortal Guangyuan was no match for the immortals Tan and Bai.
The Center Sect had two figures in the Heavenly Arrival State, plus the Unicorn; the
Green Mountain Sect had one in the Heavenly Arrival State along with a cat and a dog.
In comparison, the former seemed to be of somewhat greater strength.
Not to mention that no one knew how many elderly swordsmen might hide in the back
valleys of Cloud-Dream Mountain and how many divine animals like the King of Fire
Carps existed somewhere in Chaotian.
After a moment of silence, Jing Jiu asked, "What is the conclusion?"
"We'll negotiate again in the autumn at the Fruit Formation Temple," said the Immortal
Guangyuan. "The Immortal Bai will go there in person. We can ask Big Brother Sword
Justice to go to the negotiation."
There were still many days before autumn.
He was quite familiar with the Fruit Formation Temple.
Jing Jiu said, "I'll go."
The Immortal Guangyuan was taken aback, wondering what it was Jing Jiu could
After the Immortal Guangyuan left, Jing Jiu shot Yuan Qü a glance.
Earlier, when Ping Yongjia laughed, he was slapped by Yuan Qü. Jing Jiu had seen the
incident, feeling a bit surprised. According to Yuan Qü's temperament, he should have
laughed with Ping Yongjia at that moment. For some reason, he had become cleverer
and more composed now. Did he experience something in Zhaoge City?
"When I was in Zhaoge City, State Duke Lu had visited me."
Yuan Qü went on, "He told me that the imperial court had been unstable this last year
and that those officials supporting Jing Xin had become active again."
Jing Jiu thought that they should have had Jing Xin killed at the very beginning to avoid
such trouble in the future. "What about you?" he asked Yuan Qü.
He knew that the Sect Master asked him about the result of the Cultivation tournament
at the Plum Meeting. He replied in a low voice after some hesitation, "This disciple is
useless; I have only won second place."
Jing Jiu was indeed disappointed, as he inquired, "Who was the first place winner?"
Yuan Qü replied with the lowered head, "It's Big Brother Liu Shisui. He represented the
Jing Jiu didn't say anything more after finding out that he had been defeated by Liu
Liu Shisui had spent the last year in a joyful mood; in fact, it was the happiest year he
had since he joined Liangwang Peak many years ago. The One-Cottage House was
quite suitable for him. Xi Yiyun and other big brothers were all gentlemen, and the
house master had paid a great deal of attention to him, teaching him many things,
including how to cultivate. He had also represented the One-Cottage House in the Plum
The thing he felt most joyful about was the fact that his Young Master had become the
Sect Master of Green Mountain.
Like what Jing Jiu had sensed, Liu Shisui wore a smile from beginning to the end when
he was making that bamboo chair.
"My Young Master had also won first place in the Cultivation tournament back then. But,
his opponents were much stronger than mine, and they encountered the turbulence in
the Snowy Kingdom. So I don't intend to compare myself to my Young Master."
Liu Shisui's dark face glowed with joy.
Soon, he noticed that Xiao He's smile was a bit forced and that the expression in her
eyes was kind of evasive. His smile stopped short as he asked Xiao He, "What's
Xiao He replied in a slightly trembling voice, "The Immortal Taiping had come here
during the 'spring rain' last year."
Liu Shisui pressed with narrowed eyes, "The Immortal Taiping?"
"It's impossible for me to forget his face; he is that monk at the Fruit Formation Temple,"
said Xiao He, her head lowered. "Didn't you tell me that he was the Immortal Taiping?"
"Why didn't you tell me then?" Liu Shisui demanded.
Xiao He said after wiping her eyes, "I was too scared at the moment…Later I intended
to tell you, but you were so busy with studying…And I was also afraid that you might
Liu Shisui wondered why she didn't tell him afterwards even if she was scared at the
time, and why she thought that he might blame her. "What was he doing at the
Thousand Mile Windy Corridor?" he asked.
Xiao He said in a low voice, "He hadn't done anything, except that he picked some lotus
flowers and left."
"What about you? What had you done?" asked Liu Shisui after a long moment of
He had lived with Xiao He for so many years; so he knew her very well. If she didn't do
something she was afraid of telling him, she wouldn't behave like this.
"I…I didn't do anything. All I did was guide for him." After Xiao He lifted her head and
saw the expressionless countenance on his face, the tears ran down immediately, as
she said tremblingly, "I was really scared at the time. He wanted me to take him to the
Python Pond; I didn't dare refuse him."
"Was it the Python Pond behind the Cottage House?" Liu Shisui pressed.
Xiao He nodded in confirmation, her face pale.
Liu Shisui had given her a pass board so that she could go to the One-Cottage House
and visit him. One needed a pass board to enter the Windy Corridor.
Liu Shisui fell silent.
Xiao He asked while weeping, "Are you going to tell the Cottage House?"
"No," said Liu Shisui, shaking his head.
With tears in her eyes, Xiao He looked at him in disbelief.
Liu Shisui got up and walked to the desk, saying, "The house master knew that I gave
the pass board to you; but if he found out that you had brought the Immortal Taiping to
the corridor, you would die."
Looking at his back, Xiao He displayed a sad expression on her face. "You've
changed…If you changed for me, I'm really sorry," she said.
Liu Shisui sat down at the desk, and took out an ink-stick from his sleeve.
The ink-stick was covered with some golden lines, and it was also mixed with some
golden threads inside it. The ink-stick slid back and forth on the ink-stone noiselessly,
and later a liquid of golden and black colors was produced on the ink-stone, going
beyond simple description by words; it resembled his life.
He was a worry-free child in a village; later, he became a disciple of Liangwang Peak
who sought the justice and benevolence, and then spent many years with the Old Ones.
Though he knew what kind of a person he aspired to be, he had no idea what kind of a
person he was at the moment.
The special golden ink was ready. He took out a brush pen, dipped it into the ink and
began to write the letter.
This seemingly ordinary pen was none other than the precious treasure of the One-
Cottage House, the City-Guard Pen.
He'd been carrying the pen with him ever since Scholar Yan gave it too him .
Unfortunately, he had never been able to use it because his Cultivation state was still
not high enough.
His Cultivation state had improved a great deal after he studied for many years at the
One-Cottage House and participated in the Cultivation tournament at the Plum Meeting.
The City-Guard Pen had finally accepted him as its master.
Xiao He wiped off the tears and came up behind him. "Whom are you writing to?" she
"Young Master," Liu Shisui returned.
He could conceal this matter from the house master of the One-Cottage, but he couldn't
conceal it from his Young Master.
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