Ada stared at Nan Wang wide-eyed, feeling more surprised. He was relieved after he found she was not severely injured; but he wondered why she still claimed that it was impossible for her to lose when she had beaten up so badly.
"Those women are too shameless. There were so many of them fighting against me at the same time."
Nan Wang wiped the blood from the corners of her mouth, and also wiped the blood stain on Ada casually with her sleeve. "If it were the Chief Nun fighting against me alone, she wouldn't be my match," she remarked.
Hearing this, Ada knew that her fight against the Chief Nun must have ended in a draw. Yet, he wondered why she ended up fighting against the Chief Nun since she had gone to the nunnery to look for Lian Sanyue.
Nan Wang began to suspect the identity of Jing Jiu the he became the sect master. She had brought Ada to Qingrong Peak and interrogated him for half a day. And she was misled by Ada and believed that Jing Jiu was the son of Jing Yang and Lian Sanyue. Then she stayed behind closed doors for a few years and left Green Mountain for the Water-Moon Nunnery. The purpose of trip was of course to challenge Lian Sanyue.
She said grudgingly, "That brazen woman was not there. I wonder if she heard the news that I was coming and hid herself somewhere."
Ada wondered which one of them was actually the brazen one. Well, both of them were brazen women, to be fair.
In the next moment, it occurred to Ada that Nan Wang dared go to the Water-Moon Nunnery to challenge Lian Sanyue and ended up in a draw when fighting against the Chief Nun, indicating that she had improved in her Cultivation state and should have reached the upper state of the Broken Sea. Ada felt a bit surprised at this. It seemed that feelings might hurt one's life, but not their Cultivation; one could improve their cultivation state when motivated by hatred.
Afterwards, Nan Wang walked on the bridge built with the sword wills and returned to Qingrong Peak. After she emptied a jar of wine in two swigs on the rock by the flowering tree, she walked into a remote manor cave.
In the manor cave, a woman was shackled with two iron chains.
Seeing Nan Wang come in, the woman knelt down slowly, the silver bells and the iron chains making similar clattering noises.
Though she was kneeling, she didn't utter a word, and no submissive intent could be found on her indifferent face.
Her name was Nan Zheng. She had been captured by Nan Wang in the ruined temple on the barren mountain and brought back to Green Mountain several years ago.
Nan Zheng was an escapee of the southern barbaric tribes and a member of the Old Ones. Later, she became the servant of Nan Qü's body. For some reason, Nan Wang didn't kill her.
"Later you cut off all of your hair and put on a different cloth. I'll take you out of the mountains. Then you have to find a way to join the Water-Moon Nunnery."
Nan Wang continued, "Those women like meddling with others' affairs, such as saving a distressed woman. If they know your background and the hostility between you and me, they will take you in for sure."
After a moment of silence, Nan Zheng asked, "What do you want me to do at the Water-Moon Nunnery?"
"I'm not asking you to kill somebody. All I need you to do there is to find out whether Lian Sanyue is dead or alive, and the background of that young woman by the name of Guo Dong."
Nan Wang added, "If you can complete this task, I'll let you go."
Sitting at the edge of the cliff, Ping Yongjia moved his fingers reflexively while looking at the peak on the other side, Qingrong Peak.
Dozens of thin and invisible sword wills emerged from his fingers and then formed a tangled net, which reflected his current mood.
After he came to Shenmo Peak and became the personal disciple of Jing Jiu, he had been learning the Endless Sword Style of Qingrong Peak. He had developed adequate sword wills and remembered the sword instructions well enough after a few years of diligent practice, but he still didn't have a sword, so he couldn't practice the sword work.
He had learned from Big Brother Gu Qing that there were many swords on Qingrong Peak that were suitable for the Endless Sword Style, and Big Brother must have heard it from their Master. However, he didn't dare go to Qingrong Peak. He was aware, without the reminder from his Big Brother, that their Master disliked Qingrong Peak, and that those female senior masters and big sisters were much more formidable than tigers.
Looking at the tightly closed stone gate of the manor cave, Ping Yongjia sighed helplessly.
His Master was behind closed doors; so was Senior Master Zhao. Big Brother Yuan Qü also stayed behind closed doors in order to inherit a new sword a few years later. Even Big Brother Gu Qing put the sect affairs aside, staying behind closed doors in the hall.
He was the only one on Shenmo Peak who had nothing to do at the moment. He neither wanted to ride the horse nor wish to play with the monkeys; and he didn't dare stroke the cat. It was a truly boring time now.
The spring wind was propelling the ocean of clouds, and the wild flowers in the cliff were ruffling slightly. Ping Yongjia stood up suddenly and walked into the Daoist hall.
Yuan Qü was behind closed doors at the deep end of the hall. The place where Gu Qing stayed behind closed doors was by the window, where he could hear the screams of the monkeys when an emergency occurred.
Ping Yongjia came up behind Gu Qing, and found that his Big Brother evidently had a different energy in his body, though his Cultivation state was still in the initial state of the Free Travel after having traveled with their Master.
Thinking of all this, he was more determined and said, "Big Brother, I'd like to get down the peak."
If he were a disciple of another peak or at another Cultivation sect, Gu Qing would be very upset when he was interrupted during his Cultivation behind closed doors, and some practitioners could even go mad because of it. But, the people on Shenmo Peak had a casual attitude toward cultivating behind closed doors; so Gu Qing opened his eyes and said while rubbing his face, "Our Master said that nobody is allowed to go out of the mountains, unless they have special permission."
What Gu Qing meant was that Ping Yongjia should go to the manor cave and ask the permission from their Master, and that it was useless to ask him for permission.
Ping Yongjia said, "I just want to go down the peak, not go out of the mountains…I want to pay Yunxing Peak a visit."
Feeling startled, Gu Qing asked after shooting two glances at him, "You're not going to wait?"
Ping Yongjia uttered "hmm" and said, "Cultivation is one's own responsibility. So I can't behave like a little bird, waiting for old Master to arrange everything for me."
"Our Master is not old. But this is unimportant anyway; the important thing is that you have made such a decision, which means that you are more self-reliant than me and Yuan Qü."
Gu Qing said this while looking at him with a faint smile, an appreciative expression showing in his eyes.
Ping Yongjia said indignantly, "I'm not doing it for the purpose of being different from others. Don't be mistaken, Big Brother."
All of the disciples on Shenmo Peak were good at speaking indignantly, especially Yuan Qü and Ping Yongjia. Gu Qing would show such an expression once in a while. Even Cold Cicada, who had no face, could express such intent accurately.
Yet, what was the indignant expression then?
Was it the naïve expression in the eyes, or a facial expression expressing ignorance?
Well, it should have more elements to it. The expression should include a bit of bitterness and helplessness.
The sheer cliffs were enshrouded in clouds and fog. Ping Yongjia trod among these cliffs, feeling indignant.
He was the only one on Shenmo Peak who didn't have a sword. He thought he was like a yellowish cabbage in the field, having a bitter taste from the inside out.
Treading on the cliff without a mountain path, the higher he climbed, the worse his mood grew.
The majority of the swords hidden in the cracks of the rocks and in the cliff walls were the sword embryos, which needed a few hundred more years and even thousands of years to develop. Some of the swords were broken and would take a long time to repair. It was very difficult to find a well-formed sword on Yunxing Peak now. One could only hope to come across a sword of high state by luck; it was almost impossible to actually find one.
Ping Yongjia tripped over a hard object while thinking of all this. By the time he got up while rubbing his sore nose, he found it was a sword that had tripped him.
This flying sword emitted a faint blue glow, exuding a pure sword will, meaning it had an outstanding state.
He picked up the sword and looked at it for a while. After some hesitation, he placed it back into the cliff wall and bowed to it earnestly.
"Sorry, but we are not compatible."
The sword quivered twice, and soon returned to its original tranquil state, meaning it didn't care so much about his decision.
Ping Yongjia pushed on. As he came to a section of the cliff, he found that the rocks on the top of the cliff protruded like an umbrella blocking the sunlight, making the dim cliff look gloomier.
"It looks like the rumored Underworld; so scary…"
Ping Yongjia muttered to himself as he quickened his steps in an effort to walk to the other side of the cliff as quickly as possible.
All of a sudden, the nape of his neck was poked by a cold object. He couldn't help but shriek in terror, and jumped to a spot one hundred feet away in an instant.
As he turned around pale-faced, he found the cold object was actually a flying sword.
This flying sword exuded a calm energy, and it was gray in color. The sword looked ordinary, but one could feel a strong pressure when holding it. It was evident that this flying sword had a higher state than the previous one.
Obviously, this flying sword had dropped down from the rocks above.
Ping Yongjia was startled briefly before he went back to the spot, picked up this gray flying sword and took a close look at it. "We are not compatible, though. You have to wait for other big or young brothers to take you."
Having said that, he continued climbing up Yunxing Peak.
As the elevation got higher, the sword wills on the peak became stronger. For some reason, he was not affected by the strong sword wills in the least. He climbed the peak as if he were walking on the flat ground.
Later on, about a dozen swords appeared in front of him or landed squarely on his hands one after the other.
Those flying swords had their respective and special temperaments; for instance, some of them were desolate, some violent, some composed, and some serene. But Ping Yongjia didn't take any of them.
In Ping Yongjia's view, these flying swords were indeed outstanding, and he was also moved by their intention of choosing him as their master. But they were still not good enough. What kind of sword was qualified to be a good one then? He had never thought of finding a perfect flying sword. However, he had been on Shenmo Peak for a long time, and the swords he saw were the likes of the Thoughtless Sword, the Sword of the Universe, the Swallowing Boat…
When he came to a high spot on Yunxing Peak, he saw two grottos in the cliff wall, the size of a human body.
Seeing the grottos, Ping Yongjia recalled the scene in which he encountered his Master and Senior Master Zhao here many years ago. He thought he was truly fortunate.
He pushed on. A while later, he found a sword inserted in a heap of rocks that had the cloud-like lines.
The sword was inserted halfway into the rock. It looked a bit strange because its shaft was slightly crooked with some snowflake-like marks on its surface.
Ping Yongjia thought instinctively that it must be a good sword. As he was to pull it out and take a close look at it, he thought of the twisted plum branch and other things based on the crooked shaft of the sword.
This must be the sword his Master had found for his Big Brother Yuan Qü; but where was his own sword then?
He looked around. All he saw was the thick clouds and fog, feeling more indignant. All of a sudden, he was struck by an idea.
Now that he had nothing to do on Shenmo Peak, it would be better if he stayed here to cultivate. And he could also guard the sword for his Big Brother, to prevent it from being taken by other colleagues of Green Mountain.
He sat down cross-legged while thinking of this.
The formidable sword wills on Yunxing Peak grew milder.
Ping Yongjia was unaware of what this meant for him at the moment.
He had no idea how much benefit he would gain by having such an idea.
Four years had passed. The people on Shenmo Peak came out from behind closed doors one after another. Yuan Qü took his journey to Yunxing Peak without hesitation after he learned that the sword had already been tempered there.
Amid the thick clouds and fog, Yuan Qü soon found the sword by means of the Seven-Plum Style of Xilai Peak.
He was shocked before he could enjoy a full feeling of delight; it was because he saw Ping Yongjia who had been guarding the sword.
He was startled before he could thank Ping Yongjia for guarding his sword; it was because he found that Ping Yongjia was in a strange condition.
He was enshrouded by the sword wills of Yunxing Peak. And those wills entered his sleeves, hair, nose and mouth in a mild and harmless manner.
A gentle breeze tousled Ping Yongjia's cloth, bringing out a few unnoticeable sword lights.
Yuan Qü was stunned. He found that his Young Brother had been tempering his body with the pure sword wills and was on the verge of developing the sword body!
Zhao Layue had stayed behind closed doors on the Sword Peak for a few years. Because of her special talent in sword work, she had eventually developed the formed sword body. Yuan Qü had no way to achieve such a feat even though he was her personal disciple. Seeing this scene, Yuan Qü couldn't help but feel shock and admiration.
This was the reason why the Sect Master selected Ping Yongjia as his personal disciple. The reason of fate couldn't explain the Sect Master's motivation; it turned out that Young Brother Ping was a genius.
Hadn't he had Yuan as his family name, he wouldn't have been selected by Shenmo Peak as their disciple in the first place.
Thinking of all this, Yuan Qü sighed. He turned around and left after pulling out the sword. It was because Ping Yongjia shouldn't be interrupted at such a critical moment of his Cultivation.
However, he felt a bit regretful for his Young Brother, because Ping Yongjia wouldn't be able to witness the Grand Ceremony of inaugurating the new sect master of Green Mountain.
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