The gentle breeze streamed in through the windows, tousling his white cloth; Jing Jiu looked down at the Royal Dowager Hu and commented, "You're very smart."
She didn't respond, her head lowered.
Jing Jiu sat in the chair and took a look at the distance between the chair and the soft bed, furrowing his eyebrows slightly. "Yes, killing you would be the simple solution," said Jing Jiu. "But I'm not going to do so. It's because the late emperor asked me a favor before his death."
The Royal Dowager Hu couldn't bear it anymore. She lifted her head and exclaimed bafflingly, "What do you mean by saying that? Did you…mean the late emperor thought I'm a lustful woman…so I can't control myself? In his eyes I'm someone who will engage in scandalous conduct in the back of the royal palace…so he asked you to pardon me."
The more she thought about it, the sadder she felt. She continued with tears in her eyes, "Though I'm a vixen, I'm not someone like that! How could the late emperor think of me as such a person?"
After a moment of silence, Jing Jiu said, "No, you're not such a person; and he didn't mean that either."
The Royal Dowager Hu asked confusingly with her eyes opened wide, "But why did the late emperor ask you to forgive me in advance?"
"The vixens are usually very affectionate and fall deeply in love. The late emperor was worried that you would feel so sad after his death that you couldn't overcome the grief and eventually follow him in death…"
Jing Jiu went on while looking at her calmly, "It's not something he wanted to happen. He wanted you to live a happy life."
The Royal Dowager Hu looked at Jing Jiu in bewilderment, unable to grasp what he meant.
More than one hundred years ago, she felt extremely sad when the late emperor passed away.
Nobody knew, not even Jing Yao or Gu Qing, that she had almost followed the late emperor to the other world on many occasions at night.
Jing Jiu said, "Many years ago, he requested for Gu Qing to come to the royal palace to teach Jing Yao; he was actually preparing for your future, because he knew that you would like a man like Gu Qing. And the best way to forget him and the grief is to love another man."
The Royal Dowager Hu fell down on her buttock on the floor, her face pale.
"Don't disappoint him, and live a happy life."
Having said that, Jing Jiu picked up the teacup on the table and took a sip of it, and left the palace hall.
Sitting on the floor, the Royal Dowager Hu felt guilty as well as pleased, and reminiscent as well as sad. The tears were rushing out from her eyes uncontrollably.
After having dealt with the matter in the palace hall, Jing Jiu went to the side hall. It was not because the matter in the side hall was unimportant, it was because he didn't want to come here.
The temperature in the side hall was exceedingly low, and the poles in the corridors and the windows were all covered with ice and frost. The beautifully carved decorations on the poles and windows were not appealing anymore as they were covered with frost and snow.
The wind and snow came into existence in the hall from nowhere, falling down to the floor with a bone-piercing cold intent.
Yuan Qijing, wearing a black coat, sat beneath the wind and snow with his legs crossed. He had done so for one hundred years.
The wind and snow vanished as soon as they landed on him.
He looked extremely thin, not as tall as he used to be; the badly damaged black coat was tousling in the wind.
When Jing Jiu walked into this side hall, it felt like he entered the manor cave on Shangde Peak.
He had lived on Shangde Peak for a few hundred years, but he still didn't like the cold and wet sensation there. And yet, he disliked the side hall that day more than Shangde Peak.
"You've changed," Yuan Qijing commented nonchalantly after he opened his eyes. "If it had been many years ago, you would have killed that vixen with one swing of your sword, regardless of what the late emperor had told you."
Jing Jiu had said that the way Zhao Layue killed people with one swing of her sword was very much like him.
It was true.
Yuan Qijing and Liu Ci had seen too many of such scenes.
Back when he was the Immortal Jing Yang, he had never been concerned with the affairs of Green Mountain. It was because he thought it was too troublesome. Killing the troublemakers was much easier. It was the most straightforward and efficient way to solve problems.
It seemed that the departures of Liu Ci and Lian Sanyue had some effect on Jing Jiu.
"You've changed too; you are thinner and uglier now."
Sitting before Yuan Qijing, Jing Jiu stared at his skinny cheeks. "Thank you," said Jing Jiu after a moment of silence.
Jing Jiu had told Zhao Layue many years ago that Yuan Qijing and Liu Ci had only a few decades left in their lifetime; accordingly, Yuan Qijing should have left this world a long time ago. The reason he was still alive was because he had used the secret method of Green Mountain to sustain his life unnaturally.
Tai Lu had used the same secret method to prolong his life for a long time in the Sword Jail until one hundred years ago.
However, prolonging life this way was not the same as extending life in a true sense; it was because the practitioners who used such a secret method would lose all of their sensations and also have to bear all sorts of conflicts in their spiritual souls. In fact, the practitioners who used this secret method felt more pain than the living dead. Living such a life was much more dreadful than being dead. Tai Lu wouldn't have used such a method if he hadn't hated Taiping and Jing Yang so much.
Yuan Qijing didn't use this secret method because he was afraid of death; it was because Jing Jiu had been asleep and he had been needed to guard Zhaoge City.
"If one can't withstand such pain, one shouldn't cultivate in the first place," said Yuan Qijing expressionlessly.
Jing Jiu said, "Back when we played Mahjong, you said it differently. As I remember, you claimed that the result was unimportant in comparison to a happy journey."
Yuan Qijing said, "You and I are not someone as talkative as Liu Ci, so shut up."
"Do you want to eat hotpot?" asked Jing Jiu.
Yuan Qijing said, "I won't leave until one day later. You go ahead and do whatever you have to do."
"I've already done everything I need to do," said Jing Jiu.
Many days had passed from spring to now.
Jing Jiu had watched the stars in the Zhao Garden for so long that his eyes became rigid, but he was still unwilling to go to the royal palace.
It had nothing to do with what Gu Qing thought about his motive. The reason he didn't want to go to the royal palace was because he was fully aware that Yuan Qijing would wake up and leave this world once he entered the royal palace.
"Bring in two people who know how to play Mahjong," Jing Jiu suddenly turned to the outside of the side hall and said. "I need two good players."
Though his voice was not loud, it echoed in the royal palace like ringing of a bell, which could be heard throughout Zhaoge City. Many people were alerted and mistaken about the request.
After Jing Jiu called out the request, the whole of Zhaoge City was at work.
The imperial court had recommended a few representatives led by the Grand Scholar Hu, but the recommendation was turned down by Gu Qing immediately. Being able to play Mahjong well was only one aspect of it, and the key aspect was the players. He was certain that his Master didn't wish to face these white-haired old men, and more importantly, such a good opportunity couldn't be offered to the others.
It didn't take long before the Royal Dowager Hu walked into the side hall, embarrassed. She said to Jing Jiu and Yuan Qijing while bowing, "I know how to play Mahjong."
The next moment, Que Niang's voice rang out outside the gate of the side hall, "Teacher, you're here." Her voice was a mixture of surprise and bewilderment.
Last spring, the entire Chaotian had witnessed dozens of the "carriage tracks" in the ocean of clouds and knew Jing Jiu woke up. Zhao Layue was quite calm about it, and Yuan Qü had no choice but to act as calmly as his Master. And yet, Que Niang came to Zhaoge City to look for Jing Jiu, though she had no idea where he was. She heard the voice of her Teacher in Zhaoge City that day while she was replaying the game between her Teacher and Tong Yan on Chessboard Mountain. Feeling surprised, she made her way to the royal palace as quickly as she could.
Seeing her, Jing Jiu was quite happy. He said to Yuan Qijing, "Of my disciples, she is the best at playing chess. I guess she must be good at playing Mahjong as well."
The Royal Dowager Hu didn't lie to them, and Jing Jiu didn't make a mistake. These two women were really good at playing Mahjong. And it was a wonderful match when two men and two women were playing together. When the greenish Mahjong pieces were rolling on the table, they made pleasant sounds.
Jing Yao stood behind the Royal Dowager Hu to encourage her; Ping Yongjia stood behind Jing Jiu in order to pour tea for his Master at any moment; the Drifter sat beside Yuan Qijing to help him play the game, but she sometimes couldn't help but play the pieces herself. It was a warmhearted scene, though a bit noisy.
Gu Qing was cooking the hotpot personally somewhere nearby; the Green Bird was gazing into the distance while perching on the windowsill.
A great many chancellors, eunuchs and the palace servant girls were standing outside the side hall, ready to serve the people inside the hall at any moment.
They were eating hotpot and playing Mahjong in a leisurely and cheerful manner.
The Royal Dowager Hu and Que Niang were not playing as nervously as they had been, and they got better at pleasing Yuan Qijing. They had no need to exchange eye signals regarding the speed and rhythm of playing the pieces, making Yuan Qijing think he deserved winning the games, even though he was the worst player of the four.
The Mahjong games had lasted one day and one night. Yuan Qijing suddenly halted his hands in the middle of arranging the Mahjong pieces in the early hours the next morning.
The air seemed to be frozen in the side hall.
The people outside the side hall were extremely nervous.
Yuan Qijing looked at the others with a jeer and said, "I have never made the hand of 'Same Color' in my lifetime."
Then, he turned to Jing Jiu and continued, "You three had made it before."Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
He referred to Jing Yang, Taiping and Liu Ci when they played Mahjong on Shangde Peak many years ago, not Jing Jiu, Que Niang and the Royal Dowager Hu.
Hearing this, the group felt relieved. They resumed playing the game.
Soon, something extremely lucky had happened.
In the very next game, Yuan Qijing had made the hand of "Same Color".
He looked at Jing Jiu with a seeming smile, "You guys had been cheating me."
What he referred to was not the Mahjong game they were playing that day; he referred to the Mahjong games they had played on Shangde Peak many years ago and what had happened in the past few hundred years.
"It's too bad that you're the honest one," said Jing Jiu.
"You're right. But I've lived a rather happy life over the last few hundred years."
Looking at the neatly arranged Mahjong pieces, Yuan Qijing laughed out three times, and then walked out of the side hall, turning into snowflakes twirling through the air in the morning wind.
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