Jing Jiu's mood, like his true nature, was hard to discern.
He usually didn't display any emotion on his face, nor did he have any hobbies, save for playing the sand in the ceramic plate once in a while, which didn't mean anything.
Yet, Zhao Layue knew that he was in a bad mood. Being able to tell what his mood was was her talent, and also something she had learned after living with him for so long.
They had a hotpot dinner on New Year's Eve. Afterwards, Zhuo Rusui, Gu Qing and Yuan Qü resumed their Cultivation as before.
Zhao Layue followed the tradition of kneeling before Jing Jiu, and hugged him.
Jing Jiu patted on her back gently.
Zhao Layue said, "I started reading the Dao scripts when I was six years old; I learned that people would always bid farewell to each other. I've already gotten used to it, but unexpectedly, I am still moved."
She was talking about the matter regarding that middle-aged scholar and his mortal wife.
Jing Jiu remarked, "The things you can get used to are usually good things; on the other hand, one can't get used to bad things. What we do with the bad things is become numb to them and stop thinking about them."
Zhao Layue asked earnestly while opening her distinct black and white eyes wide, "Is this all you can do?"
Jing Jiu returned, "I had a very good friend when I was young. I saw him get old, sick and buried in the grave, but I couldn't do anything about it."
"Then what happened?" Zhao Layue pressed.
"This story is meaningless anyway, because he is dead."
Jing Jiu went on, "What I try to convey is that this matter reminds me every day of how to avoid bidding farewell."
One wouldn't think so much when they were numb, and they had to use their minds to think if they were not numb even though thinking about departure was rather painful.
Zhao Layue said, "So you met the master and disciple and read the medical cases."
"I hope all the people in the world can live a few more years," said Jing Jiu.
Death is departure.
Liu Ci had departed.
The person in Zhaoge City would depart soon.
Yuan Qijing would depart in a few years.
Those idiots outside Scenery Garden and these people inside Scenery Garden would depart this world someday.
Jing Jiu disliked the crowd and noise, but he loathed departures.
Staring into his eyes, Zhao Layue said earnestly, "I don't want to bid farewell to you."
"Promise me…" Jing Jiu said while looking at her, "you'll cultivate diligently. You must live several thousand years, and then strive to live ten thousand years; live as long as you can."
If this was an exchange between two lovers, now he should say: "Please don't bid farewell to me"; but there was no way he would say so.
No matter how close the two people are emotionally, one will depart earlier than the other; it is still the departure, even if they can manage to depart the world at the same time.
They have to live in this world in order not to depart.
Even if the two of them lived on opposite ends of the universe and are too far to meet each other, they could still be considered as being together as long as they knew the other person was still alive.
That middle-aged scholar and his wife probably thought the same way.
The stars in the night sky illuminated the courtyard, eaves and flowing stream. Zhao Layue's eyes glittered under the starlight.
"I will," she replied seriously while staring at Jing Jiu.
Ada landed under the eaves along with the starlight. Seeing the strange expressions on Jing Jiu's and Zhao Layue's faces, Ada hesitated for a moment, then crouched down after jumping onto Jing Jiu's lap.
Jing Jiu stroked his back while saying, "Don't be afraid. You still can live many more years."
Ada sighed, as he thought that in comparison to eternity, he was merely a momentary spray on the surface of the ocean, and it was meaningless even if he could live several thousand years longer.
Zhao Layue knew that Jing Jiu was in a bad mood and why, but the other three in Scenery Garden had no idea. Zhuo Rusui gave up figuring it out after thinking about it for a short time. Gu Qing and Yuan Qü discussed about the matter for a long while and came up with some ideas. As such, they sent a piece of information out of Scenery Garden.
In their view, Jing Jiu was unhappy because he was not left alone. He left Green Mountain for the purpose of living a quiet life; but now Cloudy Town was crowded, and the Cultivation practitioners were everywhere in the fields outside the fog. Some practitioners knocked their heads constantly on the ground, making the stream red with their blood; some of them practiced their swords all the time, keeping the birds away from the woods.
The whole of the Cultivation circle had learned that the pair of master and disciple, the only ones that had entered Scenery Garden returned to the Mysterious Heaven Sect. It was said that some remaining deviant practitioners were interested in taking over this small sect, but they were wiped out before they had a chance to strike; and it was said that the force that had attacked those deviant practitioners was not from the Green Mountain Sect, but from a secretive deviant sect.
After this, the Mysterious Heaven Sect began to seal off their mountains; it was obvious that they needed time to realize the benefits they obtained from Scenery Garden. The act incited many more practitioners in the Cultivation circle.
As spring progressed, more and more Cultivation practitioners arrived in Cloudy Town.
Gu Qing and Yuan Qü grew more worried about Jing Jiu's mood. They sent out another piece of information.
It was a very bright day in spring, and the flowers were blooming on thousands of trees; the fog was moving along with the flowing clouds. The sceneries on the outskirts of Cloudy Town were remarkable.
Snow suddenly began falling from the sky.
The snowflakes were not very large, and it didn't feel very cold. It couldn't be counted as a winter in spring. The locals thought it was quite enjoyable to have such a minor snowfall in spring rather than felt troubled. Yet, those Cultivation practitioners found it was out of place. The snowflakes that the mortals didn't fear were like icy knives slicing their flesh when they landed on the bodies of these practitioners. Even though they had magic methods to protect their bodies, they still couldn't prevent their clothes from being slashed open by the snowflakes and their meridians from being assaulted by the cold intent.
Some Cultivation practitioners intended to take the opportunity to demonstrate their determination and willpower by standing steadfastly in the snow outside the gate, but they were almost frozen to death overnight.
It was then that they understood what was happening to them.
This was not the spring snow drifting like salt and catkins, but the anger of Master Sword Justice of Green Mountain!
Few people in the Cultivation circle could withstand the anger of Yuan Qijing. The Cultivation practitioners fled in all directions immediately. Most of them returned to their respective hometowns, not daring to put their feet in Cloudy Town again. A dozen or so practitioners who were extremely brave only dared stay inside Cloudy Town, not daring get close to that patch of fog.
It was finally quiet around Scenery Garden.
The disciples of Liangwang Peak had an easy time as well, because they didn't have to patrol the area all day long to pursue those deviant devil men with a sinister intent.
Like Gu Han and some disciples of Liangwang Peak, some elders of Green Mountain were also quite resentful of the matter; in fact, they were more resentful than others, and so were the Kunlun Sect and some other sects.
They felt furious when the Cultivation practitioners of small sects and the free-traveling practitioners went to Cloudy Town in an attempt to visit Scenery Garden.
In their eyes, the person residing in the garden was a sword devil other than the Immortal Jing Yang.
Their anger and resentment had turned into a discontent toward the Fruit Formation Temple in the end.
If the Young Zen Master hadn't come out to support Jing Jiu during the Grand Ceremony of Green Mountain, Jing Jiu would have died right then. Even though Yuan Qijing gave him a chance to survive and let him leave Green Mountain, he would be like a homeless dog hiding and evading the pursuits in Chaotian. And he wouldn't have behaved so arrogantly and caused so much trouble.
In the late spring, a significant guest visited the Fruit Formation Temple.
The Master of Reciting Scripts boiled tea for him personally, and retreated out of the room after pouring a cup of tea for him. The Young Zen Master and the significant guest were the only ones in the meditation room.
The old man in gray clothing looked rather ordinary with a dull bearing. The only special trait about him was that he had a very broad forehead, seemingly broad enough to contain sea, heaven and earth.
"Did the Immortal come here to accuse me of something?"
The Young Zen Master asked the old man in gray clothing with an amiable smile, the big toes on his bare feet twitching slightly under his buttock.
His amiable smile and twitching toes indicated that the Young Zen Master was a bit nervous at the moment.
Who could make the Young Zen Master feel nervous and pay such an attention in the current Chaotian?
The old man in gray spoke in a slow pace, without any evident fluctuation in his tone. However, the way he spoke could make any listener think he was trustworthy and honest.
The Young Zen Master stopped smiling and said in a sorrowful tone, "It's hard for the Chief Monk to come out from behind closed doors. I only hope that he will have a tranquil departure.
After a moment of silence, the old man in gray said, "The old Chief Monk has a profound knowledge of the Buddhist methods, so he will be able to depart in a joyful manner."
"Hopefully," said the Young Zen Master while bringing up his teacup.
The old man in gray said, "I've been staying behind closed doors since the turmoil of the Fiend Prison. It was indeed inappropriate for the Unicorn to come out and made a fuss at the Fruit Formation Temple. But he is the divine animal guarding our mountains, and no sect rules forbid his action. Let's turn the page on this matter since his spiritual body has also suffered a severe injury."
The Young Zen Master set down the teacup and said with a seeming smile, "Immortal Tan has turned the page quite easily."
It turned out that this old man in gray clothing was the Immortal Tan, the Sect Master of the Center Sect.
It was believed that the Immortal Bai was the actual ruler of the Center Sect, but she was not the Sect Master.
After the departure of Liu Ci, the Immortal Tan was the number one swordsman in Chaotian, at least in name.
He should be considered so in terms of his Cultivation state, status and other aspects.
Of course, this was if the person in Scenery Garden was not counted.
The Young Zen Master went on, "A third of the back temple had been destroyed, and the imperial court had to use half of the gold in the reserve to rebuild it. The gold used is quite heavy."
"It was caused by the Immortal Taiping of the Green Mountain Sect," said the Immortal Tan.
The Young Zen Master waved his hand, indicating that this issue could be put to rest. "What did Immortal come here for?" he asked.
The Immortal Tan replied honestly, "I just want to hear the truth from you, which is whether he is the senior master Jing Yang or a devil sword."
For someone in the state of these two, the details and the so-called evidences were meaningless.
Staring at his eyes quietly, the Young Zen Master said, "As long as he has inherited all the cause-and-effects of the Immortal Jing Yang, he is the Immortal Jing Yang."
Jing Jiu had said on the top of Tianguang Peak that he was the result of all the causes and effects.
What the Young Zen Master said was different from what Jing Jiu said, but the two statements were alike, a connection similar to the relationship between the snow on a high mountain and the water in the Great Marsh.
If the Young Zen Master had heard the exchange between Yuan Qijing and the Dead Dog in the Sword Jail, he would be able to realize that their views were basically the same.
After pondering for a moment, the Immortal Tan said, "I am the person whom I want others to perceive, and the person in the mirror is also the person outside the mirror."
The Young Zen Master thought the statement was remarkable.
The Immortal Tan continued, "But the Immortal Taiping won't allow him to return to Green Mountain, and Yuan Qijing won't live forever."
The day Yuan Qijing died would be the last day for Jing Jiu.
"It's not so easy to kill him," said the Young Zen Master.
The Immortal Tan said, "He is the sword devil, so he will gain a great deal of benefits in the beginning of his Cultivation; but it'll be very difficult for him to reach the Heavenly Arrival State, because the amount of the spiritual energy of heaven and earth is always inadequate for him."
The one who understood Jing Jiu the most in the Cultivation circle was not Zhao Layue, because her Cultivation state was not high enough, but Ada.
Ada had seen Jing Jiu cultivate through absorbing the heavenly thunders a few times; he had expressed his worry.
The Immortal Tan hadn't met Jing Jiu, but he pointed out Jing Jiu's most troublesome issue.
The Young Zen Master fell silent, since he realized that what the Immortal Tan said was probably true.
Scenery Garden on the outskirts of Cloudy Town had become a holy place for the Cultivation practitioners, but what if Yuan Qijing died?
Would Fang Jingtian let go of him?
By that time Jing Jiu and his group would face a deadly end.
Or, they would have no choice but to leave Green Mountain for real.
The Young Zen Master asked, "Why are you telling me all this?"
"I'd like to ask the Young Zen Master to write a letter for me," said the Immortal Tan.
"A letter?" The Young Zen Master was puzzled.
The Immortal Tan said, "I'd like to go to Cloudy Town myself. I'm worried that I won't be trusted by that person; so I have to get a letter from you first."
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