These Cultivation practitioners in Cloudy Town all had their respective purposes.
That middle-aged scholar came here to find a treatment for his family member. He had no choice but to go back home since he couldn't obtain what he wanted.
His back figure looked calm, when he in fact was quite depressed.
It looked like he wouldn't come here again.
No matter whoever was sick in his family, he must have loved the person so much so that he had come here, and yet he left in such a depressed mood.
Looking at the depressed back figure disappearing into the distance, the crowd felt sympathetic for him.
Yet, they were the Cultivation practitioners to begin with, so such a feeling had vanished soon enough. They kept on asking Zhou Yunmu and Lu Jin about what had happened in Scenery Garden.
Zhou Yunmu didn't say anything; feeling helpless, Lu Jin had to tell the crowd that it was the Immortal who didn't allow them to reveal anything, and asked for their forgiveness.
The crowd felt it pointless to inquire further; they parted a path for the two to pass through.
As this pair of master and disciple disappeared into the clouds, a few Cultivation practitioners exchanged a look and then left unnoticeably.
The morning sun shone on the Muddy River; the winter snow covered the crop fields. It was a breathtaking scenery.
A few years ago, all the demons in the Muddy River were slain by a sword light. As such, the populace residing by the banks of the river had no need to worry about those demons any longer, and they were living a more relaxed and comfortable life now.
As they were living a more comfortable life, fewer people had the need to pray to the gods and Buddha. As a result, the smaller mountain-god temples in the rural areas had less and less visitors.
A discarded mountain-god temple on a mountain was covered with white snow; and the cold wind streamed through the broken walls. It was quite desolate inside the temple.
Lu Jin opened his eyes and made sure that the magic pill had already been converted to zhenyuan, so his injury was under control. He looked at the outside of the temple, feeling a bit concerned.
"There is no enemy within seven miles," said Zhou Yunmu. "You should get more rest."
Lu Jin said, "We're still far away from our mountain gate. I'm not sure what will await us up ahead."
After they had left Scenery Garden in Cloudy Town, the two of them encountered three robberies by the Cultivation practitioners on the road.
The first time were three free-traveling practitioners; and then a few deviant practitioners tried to rob them. The masked robbers who appeared in the third robbery might be the highly achieved swordsmen from the Three-Capital Sect.
These Cultivation practitioners didn't attempt to rob the two of their money, but rather the object they thought the pair of master and disciple had brought out from Scenery Garden.
Everybody saw them enter Scenery Garden with their own eyes, and they believed that the two must have obtained something there.
It must be a precious item regardless of whether it was the magic pill or the secret magic method.
If Zhou Yunmu's Cultivation state were not much higher than those elders of the smaller sects and Lu Jin were not strong enough in his fighting skill, they might not be able to survive these robberies. And yet, they didn't put their guard down, because they thought that those truly formidable swordsmen would strike after they had crossed the Muddy River and left the territory of the Green Mountain Sect farther behind.
The accumulated snow on the roof of the mountain-god temple suddenly quivered, and then dropped down in tandem, like a waterfall pouring toward the ground.
Zhou Yunmu led Lu Jin walking out of the temple. He said while looking westward at a big and tall tree, "Please show yourself, Cultivationist."
Dozens of cold-resistant crows flew out from the woods.
Meanwhile, a cold and gloomy voice came out from inside the big tree.
"It's unnecessary to meet face to face. I'm neither interested in magic pills nor the magic methods. I just want to know what that person in Scenery Garden told you two."
As the cold and gloomy voice spread out in the air, all of those crows flying out from the woods dropped onto the ground dead.
Hundreds of dead fish floated to the surface of the Muddy River at the foot of the cliff, flowing downstream.
Seeing the scene, Lu Jin's expression changed a bit. He was aware that this deviant practitioner was rather powerful, so he was unsure if his Master could defeat him. Zhou Yunmu was fully aware that the opponent clearly had a higher Cultivation state than him. "Someone like you dare show up close to Green Mountain," said Zhou Yunmu expressionlessly. "Don't you fear death?"
"This place is already far away from Green Mountain."
The highly achieved deviant swordsman hiding inside the big tree continued, "And it's impossible for the Green Mountain Sect to take care of the matters in Cloudy Town. You two are favored by Scenery Garden, so the Green Mountain Sect probably would like to have you two killed. Furthermore, I just want to know what that person said to you two. I don't think it's some sort of a crime to want that."
Looking at the big tree, Lu Jin returned sharply, "And if we don't tell you?"
The highly achieved deviant swordsman said in a gloomier tone, "Then…THAT would be an offense. I'd have no choice but to take your lives then."
No sooner had he finished the sentence than the corpses of the crows at the foot of the cliff suddenly bounced up and exploded in midair into dozens of bloody pulps, creating fog.
Dozens of puffs of black smoke emerged in the bloody fog, giving off a nose-assaulting stinky smell and a lethal intent, which couldn't be dispersed by the bright morning sunlight.
The dozens of puffs of black smoke dashed toward Zhou Yunmu and Lu Jin like dozens of ropes, at a lightning speed.
Lu Jin took a few steps forward, a grave intent shown on his cool countenance. Dozens of flames came out from his Daoist robe, heading toward the black smoke.
Standing behind Lu Jin, Zhou Yunmu waved his hands in front of this chest, a golden glow appearing in his chest and stomach, among which a small figure could be vaguely seen.
Along with some sizzling sounds, the flames were extinguished instantly. The most formidable magic method of the Mysterious Heaven Sect had merely blocked the attack of the opponent for a brief moment.
Fortunately, Zhou Yunmu made use of this brief moment to complete the setup of his magic method; the golden glows generated from his energy of the Yuanying State were engaged in a brutal fight against the black smoke.
A burning odor could be smelled everywhere among the cliff; and the ruined mountain-god temple had been leveled to rubbles noiselessly as the two strong swordsmen fought against each other. The black smoke that contained tremendous lethal intent and bloody odor were swallowing the golden glows visibly, and drawing closer to Zhou Yunmu and Lu Jin. They were on the verge of being swallowed up by the black smoke in a few moments.
"You leave with the item first," said Zhou Yunmu calmly; no fear could be detected in his eyes.
Lu Jin knew that his Master was prepared to sacrifice his Yuanying and die with the opponent, and would try his best to gain some time for his escape even if his Master couldn't kill the opponent. Lu Jin was startled, but he didn't hesitate to take off.
All of a sudden, a faint blue sword light flew over from behind the ruins of the mountain-god temple, passing by Lu Jin and piercing toward the black smoke.
This faint blue sword light was extraordinary. It had a formidable sword will, but appeared rather peaceful. The black smoke was successfully blocked after the sword light merged into the magic method employed by Zhou Yunmu.
The approaching swordsman had a high Cultivation state, but he was perhaps not as powerful as the deviant practitioner inside the big tree; he had a similar state as Zhou Yunmu.
The deviant practitioner found that the forthcoming swordsman was a Green Mountain disciple in the Free Travel State. He couldn't help but feel astounded, wondering how he could get here so fast since Green Mountain was far away from here.
Though the Green Mountain disciple was no match for him, he didn't dare stay behind any longer. He retrieved his magic treasure and was about to leap into the air to escape.
It was then that the sky above the big tree opened up.
A dozen formidable and dominant sword lights dropped down from the sky.
The owners of the swords had different Cultivation states; some of them were in the Free Travel State, some in the Undefeated State. None of them was a match for the deviant swordsman.
However, when all of these sword lights combined together, they displayed an unimaginably powerful energy.
"The Sword Formation of Green Mountain!"
The deviant swordsman let out a despaired and resentful shriek.
Many sword sounds broke out.
That big tree had vanished from the thin air.
Everything, including the dried leaves in winter, bare branches of the tree and the bird nest among the branches, had been torn to shreds, a grave of several feet high piling up on the ground.
The corpse and the demon baby of the deviant swordsman had broken into unconscious pieces, scattering in the grave, unable to become whole again.
The dozen Green Mountain disciples landed at the foot of the cliff.
Zhou Yunmu thanked them and told them his identity.
The Green Mountain disciple who had struck first had an amicable countenance. "I'm Guo Nanshan from Liangwang Peak," he said.
Guo Nanshan was the principal disciple of Green Mountain and well known in the Cultivation circle. Zhou Yunmu and Lu Jin had heard of him; so they greeted each other one more time.
Looking at Zhou Yunmu for a while in silence, Guo Nanshan decided not to ask anything in the end. "There will be a long journey ahead of you. Take care of yourselves, my friends."
Zhou Yunmu knew what Guo Nanshan wanted to ask him and why the expressions in the eyes of those Green Mountain disciples were a bit strange. "No need to see us off," he said with a small smile.
The Muddy River was flowing to the east like it had done in the past, as if it didn't witness the scene; and maybe, it had witnessed too many of the sort.
Seeing the two figures disappear into the distance, Guo Nanshan commented, "Such a small sect has produced a swordsman in the Yuanying State; it's really rare."
"Perhaps, they have had contact with that person before," said Gu Han.
Guo Nanshan turned to the south, remaining reticent.
Cloudy Town was located in that direction.
After Jing Jiu had left Green Mountain, the orders of the sect master were ignored; so the disciples of Liangwang Peak could come out of the mountains without waiting until breaking through the Broken Sea State.
The disciples of Liangwang Peak had been patrolling the south recently like what they had done in the past.
Guo Nanshan had focused his attention on the area between Nanhezhou and the Muddy River intentionally and unintentionally.
The reason for this was that Cloudy Town was nearby.
Gu Han could fully understand his Big Brother's intention. "His whereabouts are known by everybody in the world; it's far from living a hermit life!" he complained irritably while looking at the small town in the distance.
Shrouded in the clouds and fog, scenery of the mountain stream and the flowering trees looked like a fairy realm; but the manor house was always invisible.
The flowering trees were disturbed by a gust of wind, and the ripples formed in the water of the stream, as Zhuo Rusui arrived in the courtyard on his Swallowing Boat Sword. "They are safe now," he told Zhao Layue. "Nothing should happen to them from the Muddy River to the north as long as they don't pass Yu County. I've already informed Su Ziye."
"Very good," Zhao Layue said. She had no idea what Jing Jiu had said to the pair of master and disciple.
Gu Qing said, "I've got the report from the Curtain Rollers; that middle-aged scholar's name is Chen Ruqing. He studied at the One-Cottage House for a few years. For some reason, he and his wife joined the Dongyi Dao and cultivated together; as a result, a mishap occurred, and his wife came down with an incurable illness. This person has nothing to do with Taiping."
"Are the husband and wife very close emotionally?" asked Zhao Layue.
Gu Qing uttered "hmm". And he added after a moment of silence, "His wife is a regular woman."
The young people in the courtyard all fell silent.
The marriage between a Cultivation practitioner and a mortal would encounter such unavoidable issue.
It was that they couldn't grow old together no matter how close they were emotionally.
The middle-aged scholar left the One-Cottage House and practiced the secret method of the Dongyi Dao with his wife because he was unwilling to lose his wife.
"Does Grandmaster know about this?" asked Zhuo Rusui.
Zhao Layue replied, "He should have guessed it when he read the medical cases."
Zhuo Rusui asked, "It'll be New Year's Day in a few days; how should we prepare for it? Should we ask him if he wishes to eat the sea beef from Penglai Island?"
"He has been in a bad mood lately. Let's not bother him," said Zhao Layue.
Zhuo Rusui was baffled, wondering how she could tell that Jing Jiu was in a bad mood since he was lying on the bamboo chair every day dazed emotionlessly, just like he had been doing before.
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