572 Mountains and Rivers, Everything Else, and You People
A great many incidents had happened that day at the Grand Ceremony of inaugurating the sect master of Green Mountain, so many people had neglected a strange thing, which is that the peak master of Qingrong, Nan Wang, didn't say anything the entire time; she either looked at the distance or turned her back toward others. Nobody had even seen her face.
She shouldn't have behaved so indifferently that day, no matter whether she was the youngest sister whom was loved by the Immortal Liu Ci all his life or the rumored haughty southern princess who loathed Young Senior Master Jing Yang.
Yet, it was unexpected that she had followed Jing Jiu in secret and was the first one to pursue him.
Gu Qing, Zhuo Rusui and Yuan Qü had no idea as to what had happened between Jing Jiu and Nan Wang before, so they couldn't understand why she stood in front of the gate. All they knew at the moment was that she exuded a dangerous energy from her body. As such, they were quite alarmed, wondering if she intended to kill Jing Jiu personally to avenge the humiliation of Green Mountain.
Nan Wang turned to walk into the small courtyard.
Jing Jiu waved his hand to dismantle the formation and followed her into the courtyard.
Zhao Layue drew back the Thoughtless Sword and signaled for others to stay on the same spots and not to disturb the two of them.
What Zhuo Rusui and the others failed to understand was that though Nan Wang had an obvious lethal intent, it seemed that Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue were not concerned.
Ada of course wanted to stay behind, but he was held tightly in Jing Jiu's arms.
Ada's neck was clutched so tightly by Jing Jiu that his face was warped tremendously, his eyes were pulled up diagonally, displaying a helpless and nonchalant countenance.
Gu Qing came beside Zhao Layue, feeling worried. He intended to ask her what was going on.
The sudden rumble of a thunder startled Gu Qing greatly.
But the rumbling thunder didn't occur in the sky, instead sounding in the deep part of the manor house. It was loud and not smothered. It was a crisp sound, actually.
Gu Qing looked at the deep part of the manor house in surprise, wondering what had just happened.
In the deep part of the manor house, a band of smoke and dust kicked up, making everyone feel ill at ease.
This manor house was built by the Gu Clan. The formation that utilized the stream coming down from the mountain to bring in the energy of heaven and earth was designed by Jing Jiu personally; but all the other protective formations were designed by Gu Qing. He had learned the Inherited Heaven Sword style for so many years, so the formations set up by him over the years were strong enough, though he was slightly inferior to Zhuo Rusui and Liu Shisui in this aspect.
Protected by these formations, the three-story wooden building at the deep part of the manor house hadn't totally collapsed.
Only a half of it did.
The formations had gradually been hidden away, and the smoke and dust had eventually settled, exposing the scene at the deep part of the manor house.
Standing in front of the collapsed wooden building, Jing Jiu was covered with the wood chips, looking rather awful.
The worst part was his face.
He had the most perfect face in the world. Even his foes and opponents had to admit that his face was a precious art, something they usually couldn't bear disfiguring.
However, a clear palm print appeared on his face, though the reddish print was fading slowly.
It was evident that Nan Wang had slapped him on his face.
It was a powerful slap.
"Why didn't you dodge? Is it because you think you owe me?" Nan Wang exclaimed emotionlessly.
She was the personal disciple of the Immortal Taiping and the true goddess prayed to by the southern tribes, possessing an outstanding talent in Cultivation. She had begun to cultivate diligently lately and had entered the upper state of the Broken Sea State in a few years, ending up in a draw in battle against the Chief Nun of the Water-Moon Nunnery. If she hadn't been troubled by her affection, she wouldn't have stagnated for so many years in Cultivation.
"I don't only owe you, but you of all people."
Jing Jiu thought of a youth.
That youth liked swinging his long legs while sitting at the edge of the cliff.
That youth was rather fat a great many years ago; he had slimmed down later on.
The whole of Green Mountain knew the reason why he became thinner.
"Why didn't you want him to marry me?"
Nan Wang stared at Jing Jiu without blinking her eyes, with a straight countenance.
Her eyes grew red. It was unclear if it was because she had stared for too long or for other reasons.
Jing Jiu said, "Liu Ci liked you, but you didn't like him; there was no way you two could form Cultivation partners!"
"I had said at the time that I liked him!" Nan Wang snapped loudly.
Jing Jiu said after a pause, "You wanted to marry him to irritate me. Of course I couldn't agree to the marriage."
"You didn't want to marry me, and you also didn't allow me to marry anybody else. You were so arrogant!"
Nan Wang couldn't restrain herself any longer; she raised her palm, ready to slap him again.
Standing on the same spot, Jing Jiu didn't have the intention of dodging her strike or raising the cat. He was simply looking at her quietly.
Nan Wang's second slap didn't land on his face. Was it because she didn't bear disfiguring his face or because she still considered him as her Young Senior Master?
She eventually clenched her palm into a fist and landed it on his chest.
The remaining three-story wooden building had completely collapsed, the smoke and dust rising and a strong wind whistling.
Outside the courtyard, Gu Qing, Zhuo Rusui and Yuan Qü were startled again when they heard the rumbling thunder and sensed the quake under their feet.
They looked at Zhao Layue in unison.
She sat on the ground with her eyes closed, cultivating, totally ignoring what was going on in the courtyard.
The smoke and dust had settled again, and a pit as deep as thirty feet appeared in front of the rubbles of the wooden building.
Nan Wang yelled while crying, "Big Brother was the only one loving me; but you didn't allow him to marry me. Now, he is dead and you have such a terrible appearance, and I'm still single. Are you satisfied? Why were you so cruel?!"
Jing Jiu stood in the pit, covered with dirt; he looked awful, with many ruptures appearing on his white clothing.
Ada felt relieved since Jing Jiu didn't hold him up and use him as a shield.
Yet, Ada had no sympathy for Jing Jiu; he lifted his head to look at Nan Wang who was crying her heart out, thinking this little girl was truly pitiable.
Jing Jiu didn't say a word. It was neither because he was lazy nor because he was indifferent; the fact was that he really didn't know what to say.
It was quiet for a long time.
The tears and heartrending emotion on her face were eventually gone, with only a hint of sadness remaining. "Have you ever liked me?" she asked.
Jing Jiu answered after thinking about it seriously, "I've liked mountains and rivers, and everything else in the universe, including you, of course."
Ada raised his head to glance at Jing Jiu, wondering what he was doing.
Nan Wang spat into the bottom of the pit, saying, "But I don't like you anymore, since you look so ugly now."
Having said this, she raised her hand to wipe off the nonexistent tears on her face, turning to leave.
Remaining at the bottom of the pit in silence for a while, Jing Jiu asked, "Is my face ugly?"
Ada sighed helplessly. He thought Jing Jiu had become a normal person, but it turned out that he still had the same temperament when he talked about mountains and rivers and all the objects in the universe and so forth.
It had nothing to do with the appearance of his face.
No matter how beautiful his face was, it was not the original face of Jing Yang.
You said you liked her, but why did you treat her so coldly for hundreds of years; was it because she liked drinking wine and singing after getting drunk?
Hearing the voice of Ada in the spiritual awareness, Jing Jiu said, "Since we will part in the end, why together in the first place?"
Ada was speechless again. He thought that what Jing Jiu said earlier and now were a bit too affectionate, which was contrary to his actual temperament.
Jing Jiu had no idea what Ada had in his mind. He climbed out of the pit and back to the courtyard, remarking, "It's not good to eat so much."
Ada wasn't sure what Jing Jiu was talking about. He paid no more attention to Jing Jiu, and found himself a spot under the eave, bathing under the sun to recuperate.
Ada had swallowed the flying sword of Bai Rujing's on the top of Tianguang Peak earlier that day. Though he was someone in the Heavenly Arrival State against a practitioner in the upper state of the Broken Sea, an adverse consequence could still ensue if the issue were not dealt with.
Did Jing Jiu mean this incident when he said "It's not good to eat so much"?
The bright sunlight shone on the courtyard; the ruins of the three-story wooden building were very visible, and in other words, the ruins were an eye-sore.
Jing Jiu stood by the ruins for a while in silence before he waved his sleeve to bring the broken beams and stones out of the courtyard.
After the Gu Clan received the news, they sent over the most efficient hands to Cloudy Town as quickly as they could to start the clean-up task.
A dozen carts enchanted with magic carried out the garbage; it didn't take long for the site to be cleaned.
The Third Master of the Gu Clan was responsible for the clean-up; he had a high status in the Gu Clan.
Seeing the empty ground at the downstream, he felt relieved, and considered what kind of flowering trees should be planted there.
He didn't know about the true status of this manor house, but he was aware that his clan took the task seriously because it was requested by the person on Green Mountain.
Yet, for some reason, he felt something was out of place.
The Gu Clan had relied on the young master Gu Qing, the son of a concubine, rather than Gu Han, the former favored by the master to help the clan in becoming a significant clan in the south after being a mediocre clan for a hundred years.
Specifically, they relied on Gu Qing's Master to become successful.
Did something go wrong on Green Mountain?
The Third Master felt a bit worried, but he soon felt it ridiculous thinking this way.
Nothing could happen to that person since he was the sect master of Green Mountain.
Zhao Layue led the other three walking into the courtyard. They saw the large pit right away, but pretended that they had seen nothing.
Jing Jiu took out the bamboo chair and lay on it under the eave, looking rather comfortable.
Zhao Layue came before him and knelt down.
This was the first time she knelt before Jing Jiu in front of others.
Gu Qing knelt down hastily, and Yuan Qü knelt down and knocked his head on the ground a few times.
Though Jing Jiu was the Master and Young Senior Master, the name of Jing Yang was quite special to the disciples of Green Mountain.
Perhaps for such a reason, Zhuo Rusui knelt down very quickly today; he did it wholeheartedly, without any pretention.
Jing Jiu waved for them to get up. Then he turned to Zhuo Rusui, "Are you going to keep on eating with us?"
Zhuo Rusui returned with an indignant expression in his eyes, "You're the Sect Master of Green Mountain and the peak master of Tianguang, so you have to divide even a drop of water evenly. Moreover, you're the grandmaster Jing Yang; as the most outstanding disciple of the third generation, I must serve you."
Knowing that his Master didn't like hearing such obsequious talk, Gu Qing asked gingerly, "Should the ranking of disciples on our peak be rearranged?"
Zhao Layue had a similar idea. She always considered herself a personal disciple of Jing Jiu, but she had no choice but to maintain the status quo, as the relationship was not announced. However, this situation couldn't continue any longer.
If the rankings were to be rearranged, everybody on Shenmo Peak would be considered Jing Jiu's disciples.
Zhao Layue would be the principal disciple, followed by Gu Qing and Yuan Qü, and that guy left behind on Yunxing Peak would be last in line.
Thinking of the possibility, Yuan Qü blanched, and protested, "It's not appropriate to do so!"
Becoming a personal disciple of the Immortal Jing Yang was the dream of every Cultivation practitioner; but, Zhao Layue was his Master, and now she suddenly became his Big Sister; so Yuan Qü thought it was a bit preposterous.
It was then that a commotion occurred outside the courtyard, and the formation was alerted. Gu Qing went outside and then brought back someone.
The newcomer was Liu Shisui.
Zhuo Rusui uttered "Whoa", thinking this had become even more exciting now, and also wondering how they would arrange the ranking now.
Zhao Layue noticed the blood stains on the edges of Liu Shisui's sleeves, asking, "What has happened?"
Liu Shisui replied, "I didn't have the command board with me when I was to get out of the mountain gate, and then I…encountered some people of the Kunlun Sect."
Why did he fight against the practitioners of the Kunlun Sect?
Based on his temperament, he must have done so for the sake of Jing Jiu.
It grew quiet in the courtyard.
The group fell silent.
They had entered this manor house after leaving Green Mountain and arriving in Cloudy Town; everything seemed to be in good order.
But many dangers were still lurking ahead or somewhere nearby.
And those dangers and perils were different from the threat of Nan Wang.
"How did you know we are here?" Zhuo Rusui suddenly asked.
Liu Shisui said after the initial bewilderment, "I learned it from someone. It seems that…everybody knows where you are."
Jing Jiu was not surprised at the answer.
Everybody would know he was here after hearing the thunders and quakes that had happened earlier.
Nan Wang had done so on purpose.
Her intention was to make it hard for Jing Jiu to live a quiet life.