545 The Eagle above the Cold Mountain
The emotions of the crowd in the grand hall had been changing along with the voice of the Young Zen Master.
They felt it preposterous after the initial shock.
It seemed to be so serious when various sects and the imperial court kept on sending the letters one after another. It seemed that a violent storm would come and the Underworld would invade Chaotian, and Bu Qiuxiao had even leapt up to be ready for the forthcoming danger. But in the next moment, that important figure from the Underworld was somehow dead.
The small black wild cat sensed something was out of place. The cat ran to the distance again after meowing once in terror.
The crowd suddenly thought of one issue; the Young Zen Master mentioned that the Twelfth Priest was killed by the Cultivationists of Green Mountain on the Cold Mountain. However, Green Mountain was situated in the distant south, tens of thousands of miles away from the Cold Mountain…Hence, this matter was a bit bizarre. Many people hadn't totally wrapped their heads around this matter yet; they couldn't speak out even if some of them figured it out.
The autumn sunlight cast on the ground outside the grand hall; the bell had stopped ringing. The voice of Bai Zao broke out again.
"How come the Cultivationists of Green Mountain were there?"
The sky is exceedingly expansive, so it is impossible for two birds to collide with each other unless the eagle has set up an ambush there in advance.
Jing Jiu didn't give a response to her question. It was Gu Qing who replied.
Gu Qing said calmly, "It's something we have to do because it's our responsibility."
This reply was quite fitting for a figure who was the Sect Master of Green Mountain; it was an expected demeanor of an orthodox leader. As such, the reply also had a hint of tasteless official language.
Like Zhao Layue, Gu Qing had also guessed Jing Jiu's plan, though he hadn't seen Tong Yan go to the Underworld through the Heavenly Well with his own eyes.
The request of the Center Sect, which demanded the Green Mountain Sect yield some of their quota, seemed to be reasonable, because no devil man of the Underworld could be found and pursued in the current Chaotian. Unexpectedly, one of them came!
Jing Jiu stood up, and was ready to leave.
"Is this just the beginning?" Bai Zao asked him.
"Yes," Jing Jiu confirmed.
"We should wait here at the Fruit Formation Temple for a few more days then," Bai Zao suggested.
Jing Jiu headed for the outside of the grand hall after nodding his head quietly.
Zhuo Rusui caught up to Jing Jiu while holding his arms. His eyelids were still lowered, but his head was held much higher now, displaying his nostrils in contempt of others.
Gu Qing followed closely behind while holding the Sword of the Universe. The energy exuding from the sword swaddled by layers of coarse clothes was not only the desolate sword will, it was also a faint lethal intent.
Zhao Layue walked at the rear of the group while holding Ada. The white cat looked at those people present with narrowed eyes full of disdain and mockery.
The few people of Green Mountain had left, and there was no choice but to end the meeting without a resolution.
Some of them in the hall were discussing the potential actions taken by the Underworld; some of them came before the Young Zen Master to confirm the information, and some were talking to Bu Qiuxiao in low voices.
No matter what, the Immortal Bai was the focus of the attention at the moment.
The crowd couldn't see her true appearance or expression through the patch of cloud and fog; they couldn't figure out her current thoughts and emotion of hers.
All they knew was that she hadn't said anything else aside from telling the Kunlun Sect to give up investigating the murder case that day.
Zheng Tao also thought this matter was kind of bizarre. Listening to the discussions around her, she remarked worriedly, "It's a bit too coincidental, so they all think it's suspicious."
Que Niang said nothing in return while smiling faintly, as she thought that her teacher must have already calculated everything before coming to the Fruit Formation Temple; who could calculate the moves of Go better than him?
Sese shot Que Niang a glance, and intended to pull Zheng Tao away from Que Niang. As Sese thought of the rumor in the Cultivation circle, she asked Que Niang curiously, "I heard that you have been taken on by Jing Jiu as his student; is the rumor true?"
"It's true," Que Niang said with a faint smile.
Sese instantly felt Que Niang looking much more attractive and more amiable now. She asked both Que Niang and Zheng Tao, "Do you two know about the Twelfth Priest?"
Both Que Niang and Zheng Tao shook their heads.
"My mother told me that he was a formidable figure, ambitious and cruel; he had many supporters in the Underworld. Yet, he had never come up to the ground before."
Sese went on contentedly with her brows raised, "Such an important figure came up to the surface but died without causing any turbulence; it's because the Green Mountain Sect had prepared for it ahead of time."
"How could the Green Mountain Sect explain this to other sects?" Zheng Tao asked worriedly.
Sese said, "Killing the Twelfth Priest is a great deed for humans. Nothing needs to be explained!"
The season of autumn was often described as the golden autumn; but the autumn on the Cold Mountain was in white due to the white frost and the snow that had fallen earlier than usual. The bone-piercing cold wind blew over the wild fields, eliminating all of the greenish plants and freezing all of those flowing streams and water; only a few green plants could be spotted by the cracks on the ground because they were nurtured by the warm air from the lava inside the cracks. Yet, the white color was still the overwhelming scene in the area.
A red dot on the ground, when looking down from the sky high up, was highly visible in this white world.
The dot was a short man lying on the barren plain, wearing a red robe.
This was the common costume worn by the priests of the Underworld, which was evidently different from the iridescent cloth worn by the royal family of the Underworld.
Countless deep fractures extended from this body to the surrounding wild fields, the ends of which were not in sight.
The lava could be spotted shooting out of the fractures in the distance. A half of the nearby cliff had collapsed, and the dusts had settled a while ago, covering the ground evenly. All these indicated that a vehement fight of a high state had taken place here.
The short man had an eerie and powerful energy in his body, which was dispersing in all directions along those fractures.
He was the Twelfth Priest of the Underworld.
His eyes were still open, staring at the gray sky above. The colorful pupils in his eyes grew dimmer, and eventually disappeared along with his life force, only a baffled expression remaining.
It was up to that final moment that he still couldn't figure out what had just happened.
He took the risk of leaving the Underworld through the secret passage for Chaotian because he wanted to find the Seal of the Underworld Emperor.
According to the Center Sect, both the Grand Priest and the Underworld Master had been deceived by Jing Jiu, because the Seal of the Underworld Emperor was not on Green Mountain in the first place.
He was supposed to find a fire carp at the fire source under the Cold Mountain, and it was said that there was a remaining piece of the Sun Banner possessed by that fire carp.
Next, he would find a deviant practitioner of the human race, called Su Ziye, through whom he would be able to find the Immortal Taiping and obtain the Seal of the Underworld Emperor.
These clues were straightforward enough and appeared to be unproblematic, but…why would he encounter the ambush of the human swordsmen as soon as he left the Underworld? The Twelfth Priest had wondered about this.
He craned his head and looked at the sky; he suddenly sensed that there was a hidden and invisible underworld river in that burning ball of fire and that it was dropping down slowly. The Twelfth Priest wondered if this was an omen of his impending death.
He had cultivated diligently for one hundred years and had tempered his body in the Underworld River for thirty thousand days and nights; would he have to return to the Underworld River now? He felt highly resentful at the moment, because there were many things he still wished to achieve. He desired to become the Grand Priest, and perhaps the new Underworld emperor; he even dreamed of leading the army of the Underworld into Chaotian again, reviving the glory of his ancestors…
Well, was that the rumored sunlight?
He squinted with a great deal of effort, as he thought that the sun didn't look as beautiful as rumored, and the sunlight was a bit too bright and not as comfortable as the heavenly fire.
At the last moment of his life, he suddenly felt a little bit regretful, as he wondered why he and his people were willing to sacrifice their lives for this blinding ball of fire. Having had this thought, the Twelfth Priest stopped breathing and closed his eyes. His soul fire was burned into green smoke by a sword fire arriving from the sky after turning into countless glowing specks that vanished without a trace.
Among the swordsmen of the young generation in the Underworld, the Twelfth Priest was undoubtedly the most formidable foe for the humans.
He was ambitious, determined, far-sighted, and cruel; more importantly, he still had a long way to go in his Cultivation.
This was his first time coming to the grounds of Chaotian, and his last.
In fact, he didn't encounter an ambush, because his opponent was only one man.
On a barren mountain a few miles away stood a Daoist man in green clothing.
The Daoist man in green looked quite ordinary, which was incompatible with his high Cultivation state.
After making sure that the Twelfth Priest was dead and his soul fire had dissipated, the Daoist man in green extended his hand and called back his flying sword.
It grew dimmer in the sky; and the sun was not as bright as before.
The flying sword was extremely bright, so it had suppressed part of the sun's brightness.
A gust of chilly wind arose. The Master of the Windy-Broadsword Church leapt up and landed on the peak top.
He cupped his hands to that Daoist man in green, and asked uncertainly, "Are you the Immortal Guangyuan?"
The Immortal Guangyuan was the peak master of Shiyue, and had remained a low-key figure in the past. He had seldom gone out of the mountains before the battle of the West Ocean, during which the Cultivation circle learned his prowess. Now that Fang Jingtian was behind closed doors, he should be the number two figure on Green Mountain in terms of the prowess.
The Master of the Windy-Broadsword Church hadn't met the Immortal Guangyuan before; he guessed the identity of the other party by recognizing the extremely bright flying sword.
The sword that could compete with the scorching sun for brightness must be none other than the Sword of the Returning Sun of Shiyue Peak.
The Immortal Guangyuan returned the greeting in his usual and rigid manner, and his voice was monotonous as he said, "I heard that a devil man of the Underworld came here, so I got here and killed him."
The Master of the Windy-Broadsword Church felt somewhat irritated, as he wondered how he could come here so fast since this was the Cold Mountain and Green Mountain was faraway in the south; it would take the fastest sword, the Thoughtless Sword, more than one day to arrive here from Green Mountain. Since he said that he came here and killed the devil man of the Underworld with a swing of his sword after learning the news, but how could he possibly do it? Everyone could easily figure out that the Immortal Guangyuan had been waiting here. The Green Mountain Sect should at least pay more attention to the details and find a more acceptable reason to convince others.
The Master of the Windy-Broadsword Church noticed some damages on the green robe worn by the Immortal Guangyuan, and his sword will was a bit chaotic; so he realized that the Immortal Guangyuan should have been severely injured. Looking at the red dot on the barren plain, the Master of the Windy-Broadsword Church had a slight change in his expression, as he thought this devil man of the Underworld was brave enough to show up in his real body; and he wondered if he was a disciple of the Underworld Master.
"He was the Twelfth Priest of the Underworld."
After a pause, the Immortal Guangyuan added, "It seems to be the case."
It was obvious that he had revealed something.
The Master of the Windy-Broadsword Church didn't want to argue about this matter, and glided toward the barren plain.
A moment later, he and the Immortal Guangyuan came by the side of the Twelfth Priest. Seeing the ruptures on the barren plain and the cliffs and sensing the lingering gloomy energy, the Master of the Windy-Broadsword Church ascertained that this Twelfth Priest of the Underworld was truly powerful, and that he wouldn't be able to defeat this devil man himself. Thinking of this fact, he couldn't help but feel admirable about the Cultivation state and prowess of the Immortal Guangyuan; in the meantime, he was baffled at the self-confidence manifested by Green Mountain. How could they only send one man here when facing such a powerful devil man of the Underworld?
As he was thinking of all this, the Master of the Windy-Broadsword Church suddenly heard a cry of an eagle on the distant mountain…No, it seemed to be the sound of someone singing.
The rigid expression on the Immortal Guangyuan's face had finally turned slightly more affable, as he said awkwardly, "Young Sister…drinking wine."
Looking at the mountain a few miles away, the Master of the Windy-Broadsword Church realized that the peak master Nan Wang was here as well.
Then he noticed a lonely figure in the wind and snow in a farther distance, and realized the preparation by Green Mountain was in fact remarkably adequate.