The water in the Underworld River was not the same as that in the human world; the marks on it had dissipated very quickly, and so had the scent of the white lotus flowers.
As the sword light vanished in the dark and gloomy night sky, Jing Jiu appeared in the darkness of the night, looking around the dim surroundings.
He hadn't been to the Underworld before and had no idea where he was exactly even though he knew how to return to the human world. Yet, there were many passages leading to the human world from the Underworld, not to mention that there were at least more than ten important passages of the sort. Where could Bai Yuan go? Did she go to the Thousand-Mile Wind Corridor or one of the other two huge whirlpools?
He turned his palm upwards reflexively, but nothing produced on it. It was by now that he remembered that Cold Cicada had gone to the outside world with the Snow Girl.
Yet, several invisible mosquitoes left his palm and flew toward the sky. As a gleam flashed in his eyes, Jing Jiu ascertained his position and brought the mosquitoes back to his palm.
The space between the Underworld and the human world was occupied by an abyss, some broken areas and a hard cliff wall that looked like a floating island.
As the sword light flashed, Jing Jiu appeared in front of a cliff wall. He furrowed his eyebrows while looking at the transparent and glass-like object.
This place was the very bottom of the Fiend Prison and was the hardest barrier in the world. Yet, there was nothing that he couldn't break through in his current Cultivation state.
It was not because he found it difficult to break them that he furrowed his brows; it was because he disliked doing it.
A few invisible rifts appeared on the transparent glass.
The sword light was probably the only thing that could pass through the rifts besides those invisible mosquitoes.
The morning sun peeked over the horizon; the people of Zhaoge City woke up from their sleep.
After having been washed and tempered by rain and wind for over one hundred years, Taichang Temple didn't look as untouched as when it was rebuilt; it was marked with more stains accumulated over the years. The stone path leading to the Fiend Prison in the backyard was marred with many marks created by the heavy carriage wheels. The wild purple flowers looked very lush and gorgeous; for some reason, they seemed to have never been picked.
As a gentle wind blew over, a sword light illuminated the dim eaves of Taichang Temple, as if the dead Old Dragon were about to revive.
Standing amid the cluster of the wild purple flowers, Jing Jiu recalled his years in the Fiend Prison and his friend.
Along with the gentle wind, the sword light traveled among the streets and alleys of Zhaoge City. It was impossible to see the sword light since it was extremely dim.
The sword light drifted through the Jing House where a begonia tree had existed, the grand hall across from the Jing House that was moved here from the Net-Perception Temple, the restaurant where the Immortal Taiping had drunk his tea.
And the Royal Palace, where he was born and slept for many years. It was here that many events had taken place and many people had lived their lives.
The Royal Dowager was sitting by the window while looking at the word "Zen" on the wall, a bit dazed.
Gu Pan stood atop the city wall and watched the crowded Zhaoge City closely. His gray hairs on his temples were illuminated by the sunlight, and the expression in his eyes was exceedingly calm; it seemed that he was appreciating the human world that he guarded.
On the street outside the old plum garden, the stall owners were greeting each other while rubbing their sleepy faces, getting ready to commence their business of deception that day.
The steam had already dissipated from the breakfast shops. The leftover steamed meat buns were placed on the kitchen table, which looked rather greasy as the blood-like oily water seeped out from them.
A little beggar looked at the steamed meat buns from across the street, saliva trickling down his mouth.
The spring sun shone on Zhaoge City. Everything looked peaceful and wonderful, though as usual, it went without saying that the simultaneous occurrence of something sinister was inevitable.
Some people were aware of the significant happenings on Green Mountain the day before, and some had witnessed the peculiar twilight the day prior; they had no idea that this world was on the verge of destruction.
Jing Yao and the delegation group of the imperial court were still on their way back to the city, and Gu Qing had not come back to Zhaoge City. It was because Jing Jiu traveled much faster than all of them.
When he asked Gu Qing to leave Green Mountain and go back to Zhaoge City the night before, Jing Jiu hadn't decided to save the world yet.
As the sword light traveled on the streets and alleys of Zhaoge City and saw all these scenes, Jing Jiu seemed to have seen many fragmented scenes in the past and then recalled many things.
Zhao Layue couldn't understand why he took such a risk to save the world; it was hard for him to answer the question as well. It perhaps had something to do with karma.
He needed some time to think of the reasons, through; and yet, he was certain that he wanted to do it no matter if he thought it through or not, and that was enough for him.
Jing Jiu had surveyed the whole city in a minute and was certain that the Immortal Bai was not in the city.
The reason he could recall so many things and think about so many matters in such a short time was because the sword light traveled exceedingly fast.
There was a Chessboard Mountain outside Zhaoge City where a small pavilion was situated. The imperial court had cordoned off the pavilion a long time ago. For those highly achieved chess players in the Cultivation world, this pavilion was a holy site.
A Go board was placed in the pavilion, on which the black and white Go pieces were placed like two armies facing each other with fierce intents; the intensity of the game could be likened to a thunderstorm.
All of a sudden, the black and white Go pieces on the board were illuminated by a sword light; they became energetic, as if they would come alive.
The sword light passed through countless green trees and headed toward the northeast after leaving many fallen leaves behind; it disappeared into the sky soon after.
As the sword light reappeared, it had arrived at the Thousand-Mile Wind Corridor.
After a day and a night, the wind was not blowing as formidably as before, even though it was still whistling sharply.
The ruptures could be seen everywhere on the walls of the Inn; many wooden panels snapped, and the green trees by the road were toppled. It was a terrible scene.
The sword light didn't stop at the Inn. It went to the deep end of the Thousand-Mile Wind Corridor and stopped by the lotus pond.
"She has been here already…"
Jing Jiu murmured this to himself while looking at the tattered lotus leaves.
The surface of the pond looked tranquil, but the undercurrent was taking place at the bottom of the pond; it was not the water, but something else that was looming.
Jing Jiu looked calm, but a hint of tiredness could be detected in the end of his eyes.
His white cloth was tousled by the wind; it looked like a ragged flag in the battlefield that had been shot through by a great many arrows.
After having left Green Mountain, Jing Jiu went to the Heavenly Well by the East Ocean, the deep end of the sea, the Underworld, and killed the Grand Priest and maimed the Underworld Master. After that, he came back to the human world and surveyed Zhaoge City. This was the first chance he had to take a break.
In fact, it took merely one hour to finish all of this.
It was something that had never happened in Chaotian.
Liu Ci's sword light couldn't even achieve such a feat that night.
This was a true miracle.
However, no matter how outstanding Jing Jiu was, his sword wills were nearly exhausted; so he needed a moment to take a rest.
Jing Jiu was walking on the surface of the pond with dust covering his whole body, looking like a fairy man who had come back after many years.
The tattered lotus flowers quivered slightly, with the water rippling in the pond. The Inky Python poked his head out of the water and bowed to him reverentially in the distance.
Even though he walked on his feet, he still traveled very fast. It didn't take long before he arrived at the end of the Thousand-Mile Wind Corridor and saw the stony mountain that was even more frayed than his own clothing, and that the scholars of the One-Cottage House around the mountain looked more tired than he was.
Then he saw the Saint covered in blood.
The blood hadn't stopped bleeding on Bu Qiuxiao's hands. Even when the blood clogged, he would cut it open again.
It was because the blood of a Saint was needed to seal off the passage leading to the Underworld.
But he had lost a bit too much blood.
The blood emitted a golden glow, similar to the fairy energy. However, the bloody marks on the stony mountain grew dimmer, and the golden glow was on the verge of fading away.
At such a moment, there was no time for chitchat, and no congratulation on Bu's Sainthood was needed.
"Why did she travel so fast?" asked Jing Jiu.
"The Escape Method of Heaven and Earth aided with the fairy energy can of course travel very fast, even though it's not as fast as you are."
Looking at Xi Yiyun's cold body nearby, Bu Qiuxiao said, "She has sneak-attacked me; but I can hold up a bit longer."
Jing Jiu followed his line of sight and saw a dozen corpses of the scholars of the One-Cottage House. "You may have to hold up for four more hours," said he after falling silent for a moment.
Bu Qiuxiao asked while staring at his face, "Can you hold up?"
"I should be able to," answered Jing Jiu.
It was a stalemate for the whole of Chaotian as well as the whole of heaven and earth.
Using heaven and earth as a stove was an unparalleled method.
The true swordsmen who were capable of changing the situation couldn't leave the places where they were for various reasons. Bu Qiuxiao couldn't leave the Thousand-Mile Wind Corridor; the Giant couldn't leave the Huge Whirlpool; Cao Yuan couldn't leave the Underworld; the small green curtain sedan couldn't leave the Heavenly Well. It was because they had to stay there to ensure the existence of this world.
But, how long could they last? The key question was how long Jing Jiu could last.
The first thing the Immortal Bai did after she returned to the human world was come to the One-Cottage House and severely wound Bu Qiuxiao, the newly minted Saint, disappearing from heaven and earth afterwards.
It was evident that she was waiting somewhere until Jing Jiu and the other strong swordsmen could hold up no longer.
If Jing Jiu didn't wish to fail, he must find her within four hours and kill her.
However, where was the Immortal Bai at the moment?
The sword light illuminated the lotus flowers on the surface of the pond and the blood stains on the stony mountain, as well as the eyes of the scholars of the One-Cottage House, until finally, it illuminated the clouds and fog on Cloud-Dream Mountain that wouldn't melt all year long.
The cloud boats of the Center Sect were still on their way back to the mountain gate.
Thanks to Tong Yan, Jing Jiu and Liu Ci had discussed about the Great Formation of Cloud-Dream.
Even without this knowledge, no formation in the world could block the sword light now.
The Heavenly Slaying Formation couldn't block it, nor could the Great Formation of Cloud-Dream.
The clouds sank a bit before a tine hole appeared in them.
Soon after, a tree by a high platform in a valley broke apart, and so did a stream. A crack appeared on the ground, then extending to the deep end; it remained unclear where the expanding crack was headed.
This place was the deepest part of the underground and the Great Formation of Cloud-Dream; the darkest night and the most beautiful starry sky could be observed here, as if it was a passage leading to the fairy world from the human world.
A huge figure was visible amid the faint fog, exuding an exceedingly powerful energy.
"Jing Yang, you're too brazen!"
The thunderous roar tore the fog apart.
The Unicorn had finally shown up.
It was difficult to describe him with words.
If the Dead Dog were regarded as a black stony mountain, the Unicorn would be the banners hanging all over the black mountain with jewels embroidered on them. He looked charming, full of magic, and awe-inspiring, but he also made the observers feel disgusted because of his ugliness.
Regardless of whether he was charming or ugly, he was nevertheless the oldest being in Chaotian with the highest state; he was powerful enough to turn heaven and earth upside down.
Throughout the world, no one was his equal except for the Queen of the Snowy Kingdom. The only reason the Dead Dog could threaten him was because the Dead Dog would often fight with no regard for his own safety.
Yet, Jing Jiu's eyes looking at the Unicorn didn't display any alarm. "Where is Bai Yuan?" he asked calmly.
"How do I know?" the Unicorn retorted angrily.
Jing Jiu said, "If she knew I'm going to kill you, would she show up here?"
"Even though you're the All in One, how can you kill me so easily?" the Unicorn exclaimed with a laugh, as if he had heard the most ridiculous thing in the world. "Don't you forget that I'm the true divine animal. You haven't witnessed my true prowess and Cultivation state yet. How can you think you're unrivaled simply because you can travel fast?! Hahahaha…"
But his laughter suddenly stopped, his eyes displaying an incredulous and outraged expression.
Jing Jiu had opened up his right palm, which revealed an ancient and elegant bell on it.
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