573 The First Day after Leaving Green Mountain
It was a rather trivial matter whether they would be left alone or not; in fact, there was another issue that bothered Jing Jiu even more.
Though Jing Jiu still considered himself the sect master of Green Mountain, it didn't mean that others would think so.
Perhaps it would take a long time before the whole of Cultivation circle found out that he had been expelled from Green Mountain.
The Green Mountain Sect wouldn't do anything harmful to him in the presence of Yuan Qijing; but what would await him without the protection of the Green Mountain Sect when he was accused of murdering the Immortal Jing Yang?
Zhao Layue and the others looked at him with a worried expression.
Jing Jiu seemed to have sensed nothing, asking, "Did you lose?"
Zhuo Rusui was a bit dumfounded, wondering how he could concern himself with such a matter under such circumstances; but Liu Shisui felt it normal for him to ask such a question. "The attacker was an elder of the Kunlun Sect. I couldn't defend myself since my Cultivation state is much lower than his," he replied embarrassingly.
The relationship between Liu Shisui and Jing Jiu was well known, and Liu Shisui was a favorite student of Bu Qiuxiao's; so the Kunlun Sect couldn't do anything too outrageous to him.
Jing Jiu said, "When I meet him, I'll beat him up for you."
"Okay," said Liu Shisui.
It was laughable for many people when a child lost a fight and asked his parent to avenge him; but it was a normal affair in Jing Jiu's eyes, and Liu Shisui took it for granted as well.
Zhuo Rusui yawned after he realized that Zhao Layue and Liu Shisui were Jing Jiu's favorites.
Yuan Qü was still thinking about the new ranking of Shenmo Peak. Now Liu Shisui was back, who would be the principal disciple then?
"It's too troublesome. Just keep it the way it was," said Jing Jiu.
Zhao Layue said after some thought, "Okay."
It was not a big deal for Gu Qing; but Yuan Qü felt relieved, thinking this would be the best solution for himself.
Liu Shisui had no idea what they were talking about.
In fact, another person felt more pleased than anybody else. Zhuo Rusui thought he had almost become the junior of all these people, and it was unacceptable.
Jing Jiu told the others that he would like to take a rest. The rest of the group left the courtyard while Jing Jiu lay on the bamboo chair.
This was a very large manor house; it had at least more than twenty separate small courtyards. None of them was concerned about how the courtyard would be assigned.
"Have you known it a long time ago?" Zhuo Rusui asked Zhao Layue.
Zhao Layue uttered "hmm" faintly.
"When?" pressed Zhuo Rusui.
Zhao Layue said, "Many years ago."
She did know it many years ago. Though Jing Jiu had never told her about his true identity, he didn't try to conceal it from her either.
Whenever they talked about the matter regarding Yin San and the past of Green Mountain, Jing Jiu had always talked to her as Jing Yang.
Gu Qing and Yuan Qü looked at her with an admirable expression.
Liu Shisui remarked sympathetically, "You must have felt a great deal of pressure!"
"Not too bad," said Zhao Layue.
She was the only one who had known Jing Jiu's true identity over the last few decades; it was indeed stressful. But what she had was more like what a little girl felt when she hid the sweets from everybody else, which was a feeling of fun and pride.
After a moment of silence, Zhuo Rusui suddenly said, "Have you guys ever thought of…"
Before he could finish the sentence, the rest of the group had already known what he was trying to convey; it grew quiet by the small stream.
They all thought of what Fang Jingtian said that day, the Immortal Tai Lu as the witness, and especially that child in blue clothing…and that Jing Jiu hadn't taken out the Inherited Heaven Sword in the end.
Though they left Green Mountain with Jing Jiu, those suspicions were still lingering in their minds like something as heavy as a mountain in their hearts.
"What I can't understand the most is why Young Senior Master…is unwilling to travel by standing on the sword."
Yuan Qü kept on scratching his head, seemingly in agony; the flames seemed to come out between his fingers.
It could be easily explained as being reborn with a sword body with regard to his big ears and special body, but it was obviously an issue of attitude when he was unwilling to step on the swords…
"He thought it was broad enough for him to sit on it back when he chose the sword of Big Brother Mo."
Zhao Layue ambled to the edge of the stream and sat on a rock. She continued while looking at the flowing water, "Of course, it's more comfortable to sit than to stand on it, and it's better to lie than to sit on it."
The group thought it was indeed the case as they remembered the bamboo chair on the top of Shenmo Peak. If the posture were really not so graceful, Jing Jiu might be the first Cultivation practitioner traveling by lying on a sword.
Zhuo Rusui also thought what Zhao Layue said was sensible. "There is one more issue," he said. "The All in One Sword is a heavenly treasure, and it has a true spirit. If Grandmaster uses the sword as his body and he is not the devil sword itself, where has the sword spirit of the All in One gone?"
"I haven't asked him, and he has never said anything about it."
Zhao Layue pulled back her gaze and looked at a begonia flower drifting over in the stream, saying, "Maybe, it was knocked into pieces by Bai Ren while he was ascending."
It was quiet for a while again by the stream, perhaps because the name of Bai Ren was mentioned.
"What if it was not the case?"
"What if he was the All in One Sword and he didn't even know it himself?" Zhuo Rusui said to her back.
The water was flowing slowly in the stream, giving off a gentle plopping sound, as if it was making countless sighs.
"Is this important?" said Yuan Qü while scratching his head.
Liu Shisui said, "I don't care either way."
In his eyes, the young master was nonetheless still his Young Master; and it made no difference whether he was the Grandmaster Jing Jiu or a sword devil.
Yet, Zhuo Rusui didn't give up. He asked while looking at Zhao Layue's black hair tousling in the wind blowing over from the stream, "If he were the Grandmaster Jing Jiu, why would he make such arrangement four years ago?"
It was true. If Jing Jiu were Jing Yang, why would he consider retreating?
All of these disciples of later generation knew that Jing Jiu always thought that retreat was a forced option on the part of the weak rival.
Gu Qing said, "My Master must have predicted that Fang Jingtian would leave the hermit peaks; he made these arrangements because he didn't want a mayhem to happen to the Green Mountain Sect."
Looking at a green rock in the stream, Zhuo Rusui remarked thoughtfully, "The purpose of sending the Senior Master Guangyuan to the West Ocean in advance is to avoid the turbulence, right?"
"Of course, my Master must think it's troublesome to be the sect master; so he chooses to come out and stay away from all the affairs," Gu Qing said gloomily.
Zhuo Rusui patted on his shoulder sympathetically, and said, "Upon hearing this, I've finally believed that he can't be anybody else but the Grandmaster Jing Yang."
"Is Bai Ren whom you have just mentioned that ancestor of the Center Sect?"
Liu Shisui came to Zhao Layue's side and asked her earnestly.
Zhuo Rusui, Gu Qing and Yuan Qü were also curious about the reason why the Immortal Jing Yang failed in his ascension; but they thought this matter must be very secretive. So they didn't ask her as it was probably inconvenient for her to tell them.
But Liu Shisui couldn't hold himself back.
Zhao Layue recounted briefly about what had happened after Jing Yang's ascension.
It turned quiet again by the stream.
These young disciples of Green Mountain fell silent for a long time, as they felt a heavier burden on their hearts.
If this were true, the Green Mountain Sect and the Center Sect would start a war against each other sooner or later; it was unavoidable.
Standing up and turning to leave the bank of the stream, Zhao Layue said, "Let's get back to Cultivation."
"But Grandmaster has to cultivate first," Zhuo Rusui yelled after her.
Zhao Layue waved her had a few times, ignoring him, as she walked to the upstream.
The begonia flower petals were flowing downstream, meaning there must be a begonia tree somewhere upstream.
She walked to the underside of the begonia tree and said to the young woman under the tree, "If you wish to go inside, I'll ask Gu Qing to dismantle the formation for you."
Looking at the manor house shrouded in the fog at the foot of the mountain, Bai Zao said, "I'm here to tell him something; you can deliver the information for me, though."
"Okay," said Zhao Layue.
"What I intend to say is…you may feel mentally tired today, but I feel pleased; it's because you might not be Jing Yang."
After a moment of pause, Bai Zao continued in a low voice, "If you were that sword devil expelled from Green Mountain, I would like you even more."
These two statements seemed to be unrelated and hard to understand; but Zhao Layue could understand what she intended to convey.
If Jing Jiu were the reborn Immortal Jing Yang, Bai Zao would have no choice but to give up on him; it was because the difference is their status was too significant.
If Jing Jiu were the sword devil expelled from Green Mountain, this young woman with a steadfast Dao Heart would pursue him without hesitation.
Like Liu Shisui, she didn't care about who he was, as long as he was somebody she cared about.
Having said this, Bai Zao drew back her line of sight and looked at Zhao Layue. "You told me about traveling on the same path together back on the top of Shenmo Peak. I didn't quite understand what you meant at the time, but I understand it now. I truly envy you, and meanwhile admire you."
She was the future sect master of the Center Sect and the sole daughter of the Immortal Bai and the descendant of Bai Ren; as a result, she wasn't even able to travel on the same path with Jing Jiu for a period of time.
Zhao Layue felt sympathy for her. She reached out her right hand, after some thought, to touch Bai Zao's head.
She was not Ada, and Zhao Layue was not Jing Jiu; so her movement was a bit awkward.
Bai Zao was taken aback first, but she let out a gentle smile, saying, "I'll come and see you people in a few years."
"You take care of yourself as well," said Zhao Layue.
The entire manor house was protected by the formations. The formations set up by Gu Qing could shield the house from wind and rain, insulate it from being seen by outsiders as well as their energies, and make the flowering trees in the mountain stay green and blooming in all seasons. However, the formations couldn't prevent the begonia flower petals from flowing into the courtyards of the manor house, which would flow out after meandering along a dozen curves.
There was a corridor at the seventh curve, the eaves of which protruded to the surface of the stream, where the residents could listen to the sounds of rain and flowing water, and enjoy watching flowers and taking a nap.
Lying on the bamboo chair, Jing Jiu held a sand grain in his hand while thinking about where to put it on the ceramic plate.
He hadn't played this game for a long time, indicating that he had finally had some leisure time for himself; on the other hand, it also meant that he was truly tired of everything.
Bombarding the Senior Master Tai Lu to death while holding the Seal of Underworld Emperor made him feel tired; but what made him feel mentally tired was that he had to deal with so many people, especially the Immortal Taiping, who had written the letter.
"Bai Zao came," said Zhao Layue after she came before Jing Jiu.
Jing Jiu uttered "hmm" to acknowledge it without lifting up his head.
"Back when she came to Green Mountain to propose the marriage, I felt sorry for her; so I wanted to touch her head, and yet I only patted on her shoulder since I thought it was improper to touch her head."
Zhao Layue went on, "She was quite happy today, but I thought she appeared even more pitiful. So I couldn't restrain myself from touching her head a few times."
Jing Jiu raised his head and shot her a glance, asking, "How many times?"
"Three," replied Zhao Layue after some thought.
Jing Jiu said, "Don't learn from me. Troubles might ensue."
Zhao Layue knew that he was in a bad mood. Though he left the mountain gate due to the pressing situation, they were nonetheless expelled from Green Mountain; who wouldn't feel upset?
"I do feel a bit tired of everything, and have had this feeling since the battle of the West Ocean; I was extremely disappointed at Liu Ci's action."
Jing Jiu knew what was on her mind, and said, "Yuan Qijing hasn't given me the Great Formation of Green Mountain over the last few years, which is another reason."
The tiredness was the beginning of the chain of events, and as a result he started pondering how to deal with it.
His Big Brother had succeeded in total transformation and wouldn't tolerate his presence on Green Mountain. He avoided the divisions of Green Mountain by opting to leave. And he got rid of the most formidable foe on Green Mountain by killing the Senior Master Tai Lu. Given that Fang Jingtian had successfully entered the Heavenly Arrival State, the Green Mountain Sect was safer nowadays than before; they could face the pressure from the Center Sect with adequate strength.
As for himself, it was not a big deal to leave Green Mountain.
They could live and cultivate on any mountain.
Zhao Layue didn't say anything more. She sat down on the other end of the bamboo chair, accompanying him quietly.
Because of Nan Wang, his departure became known by many people in the world even before Jing Jiu began to live his hermit life.
This was the first day since he left Green Mountain. Many visitors came to the outside of the manor house on the outskirts of Cloudy Town; it was truly absurd.
After the departure of Nan Wang, Liu Shisui and Bai Zao came, followed by Sese, Que Niang and Zhen Tao of the Water-Moon Nunnery visiting together.
They all represented the respective attitudes of various sects.
In a sense, Zhuo Rusui represented the attitude of Tianguang Peak and Liangwang Peak.
It was said by many people that Jing Jiu was the sword devil; but what if he was the Immortal Jing Yang?
As such, the Hanging-Bell Sect, the Mirror Sect and the Water-Moon Nunnery had sent the junior disciples, and they were all acquaintances of Jing Jiu. The people with a status of sect master wouldn't come though.
Sese, Que Niang, and Zhen Tao were led by Gu Qing to the underside of the corridor. They lowered their heads and didn't dare speak while stealing a glance at Jing Jiu, feeling fearful and estranged.
Sese didn't display the usual arrogant countenance; she looked like an obedient fish taken a fancy to by He Zhan.
The Immortal Jing Yang…well, was still the one and only Immortal Jing Yang!
There was no need for explanation and description; this name was more than enough.
She couldn't possibly draw closer to him by having a fit or being playful.
"Tell your masters that I've known their intents. Go back then."
Jing Jiu turned toward Que Niang and intended to say something.
Gu Qing and the others knew that Que Niang was a disciple Jing Jiu had taken on at the Mirror Sect, wondering if he intended to keep her here.
What they didn't know was that Jing Jiu thought of Tong Yan who was still in the hermit peaks at the moment.
It was impossible for them to live a quiet life at the manor house after Nan Wang had made a fuss here.
Many Cultivation sects had sent their disciples to Cloudy Town, so they could keep tabs on the manor house shrouded in the fog. When they saw Sese and the other two women enter that patch of fog without being intercepted by the Green Mountain Sect, they generated a second thought.
The Great Marsh, the Baotong Zen Temple and a dozen other sects had sent their disciples of young generation to visit the manor house after a brief discussion among themselves.
It was impossible for Jing Jiu to meet each of them. So it was Gu Qing's duty to receive them.
Gu Qing received them proficiently. He told them that he understood their intents and would deliver their messages to his Master, and then sent them away, behaving very much like a caretaker or a chamberlain.
A few days later, Gu Qing thought that he had almost received all of them; but unexpectedly, more and more Cultivation practitioners came to Cloud Town.
In the small town shrouded in the fog and mist seen everywhere were those traveling monks wearing conical hats, the free-traveling practitioners with a proud expression, the elders of small sects, and some figures with half orthodox and half deviant energies. These Cultivation practitioners outnumbered the mortals. The residents of the small town found something was out of place, so they stayed behind the closed doors and didn't dare come out.
The mortals and the Cultivation practitioners couldn't get near the manor house shrouded in the fog; they couldn't even see the scenes thirty feet outside the house. All they could do was either kneeling on the ground outside the fog or sitting on the ground legs crossed, waiting obediently and anxiously for the person in the fog to call on them.
A few practitioners who believed they had an outstanding talent in Cultivation kept on yelling at the patch of thick fog with the hands raised over their heads.
"I'm a genius from Gaoyang. If the Immortal is willing to meet me, we can discuss the true essence of the sword work!"
"If Immortal is willing to take me on as your disciple, I will be able to inherit and develop the sword work of Green Mountain!"
"Immortal Jing Yang, if you're as formidable as rumored, just strike me to death with a bolt of lightning!"