The Inherited Heaven Sword returned from overseas many years ago, and Liu Ci turned into a "spring rain". As a result, the seat for the sect master of the Green Mountain Sect was empty and Jing Jiu said, "Let me do it". Unexpectedly, Fang Jingtian broke through the Heavenly Arrival State amid the wildflowers all over the mountain; the Immortal Taiping used the Drifter as a letter to force Jing Jiu out of Green Mountain.
Jing Jiu lived at the Scenery Garden outside Cloudy Town for a while, attracting many Cultivation practitioners to the place to pay their respects. Yet, only two people had entered the Scenery Garden and met Jing Jiu. They were the pair of master and disciple of the Mysterious Heaven Sect, Zhou Yunmu and Lu Jin. The people thought that they must have gained a valuable gift from him, be it the magic method or magic pills.
The two of them deemed guilty simply because they possessed some imagined valuables. After they had left the Scenery Garden, the two of them were pursued by those who were so jealous that their eyes turned red. Fortunately, they were safeguarded by the disciples of Liangwang Peak first and Su Ziye later. During the ensuing one hundred years, the deviant sects were in decline, and the situation in the Cultivation world grew more peaceful. Those who had kept eyes on the Mysterious Heaven Sect found that this pair of master and disciple had nothing special about them; so they had gradually lost interest in them and forgotten about the issue. In fact, the two of them had indeed taken something from the Scenery Garden that day.
Zhao Layue didn't even know anything about it.
The black board was neither the sect master's command board of the Green Mountain Sect nor the green life board of the Dark Phoenix; it was unclear what use it had.
Lu Jin took the black board and found it was quite heavy. "Let's take off then," he said.
"If this board were a very precious treasure, it would cause a turmoil," said Zhou Yunmu. "You stay and guard the sect. I'll take the trip alone."
On one early morning, the sun reddened the sky.
A cloudy thread suddenly appeared in the eastern sky, which was even redder than the morning sunlight, though it didn't have the bloody intent of the Thoughtless Sword, instead containing a tranquil Zen energy.
The sword sound could be heard in the sky outside the Three-Thousand Nunnery. The morning sun was further brightened by the sword lights; the swordsmen of the Green Mountain Sect were on their way to the spot.
The lotus cloud illuminated the newly blooming flowers in the lotus pond as well as the small bridge. Along with a "pah" sound, a pair of jade-like white feet landed on the bridge.
Zhao Layue, Zhuo Rusui, Yuan Qü and Que Niang bowed to the monk on the bridge who still looked as young as a child, "Greetings, the Young Zen Master."
The Young Zen Master had finished dealing with the matter at the Huge Whirlpool and took a detour to Dayuan City on his way back to White Town. His monk robe was covered with slits cut by the ocean wind and salt.
"Is it settled over there?" asked Liu Shisui.
"Your Teacher is finishing it up there."
The Young Zen Master walked down the wooden bridge and into the meditation room. He opened the fingers on his right hand slightly, making a light mirror.
The morning sunlight in the sky streamed into the room through the window and projected hundreds of slowly rotating scripts after being reflected by the light mirror, which then landed on Jing Jiu.
Seeing this, Zhao Layue and the others didn't say anything to interrupt him, nor did they keep their hopes up. After a long while, the Young Zen Master put the light mirror away, and remarked while shaking his head, "No sword source is left in him; it's tantamount to someone losing all their blood. Under normal circumstances, he should be dead by now."
This was similar to Jian Xilai's initial judgment.
The Young Zen Master went on, "However, the Immortal has the ability to change heaven and earth and to disconnect life and death. Maybe he has used an unknown method to maintain a sliver of sword will in the deepest end of his soul."
"If the little bit of sword is something the Sect Master prepared ahead of time, why hasn't he woken up already?" pressed Zhuo Rusui, perplexed.
"It's because he has sustained a very bad injury. In other words, he has fought much harder than he anticipated during this battle of saving the world," said the Young Zen Master while looking at Jing Jiu's face, and his eyelids stirred slightly by the morning breeze; but he couldn't figure out why Jing Jiu did what he did. "His spiritual soul is also in a deep coma, so it can't get into the Green Sky Mirror."
An ear-pleasing chirping rang out outside the window; the Green Bird agreed with him while perching on a tree branch.
Zhuo Rusui said helplessly, "We all know that he is in a deep coma; we'd like to know why he is not waking up."
"Have you all thought of this: His body is transformed by the All in One Sword and what his spiritual soul is as far as his body is concerned?" the Young Zen Master turned to Zhao Layue and asked.
"Is…a guest renting the body," answered Zhao Layue.
She had thought of this a long time ago. As a result, she was very cautious about Ping Yongjia. It was the reason why she took Jing Jiu to the snowland after leaving the East Ocean rather than went back to Green Mountain.
Ping Yongjia, who was on the Sword Peak and didn't dare to leave was the true owner of the body that had been transformed from the All in One Sword.
"The dreamer doesn't know his body is a mere guest…"
The Young Zen Master went on after glancing at the group, "The Immortal said that he was the result of all karmas. As such, is he still the former Jing Yang?"
Jian Xilai had expressed the similar opinion.
In their view, the former Immortal Jing Yang and Jing Jiu were the same person, but they were also two totally different persons.
They were not the two and same rivers, but the upstream and downstream of one river.
Could the current Jing Jiu discard all the karmas owed by Jing Yang and become someone who was purely himself?
If he could, he would be able to wake up.
Having listened to the explanation of the Young Zen Master, Liu Shisui thought about it carefully for a while before he said honestly, "I don't understand it."
He had read a great many files on the Cloud Platform, listened to the scripts at the Fruit Formation Temple for many years, and was a well-read scholar at the One-Cottage House. Though he still looked like a young farmer with a dark face, he was a knowledgeable Cultivation practitioner among those of his generation. If he couldn't understand what the Young Zen Master said, Zhuo Rusui and the others had no way to understand it.
"Actually, I'm not very knowledgeable about this sort of thing myself. It's something that has happened to him. I guess…he is the only one who can understand what is going on with him."
The Young Zen Master turned to Jing Jiu in sleep and said, "But I'm not worried that he won't wake up. I believe that he must have had a contingency plan, no matter whether he is Jing Yang or Jing Jiu."
Zhuo Rusui protested, "But didn't you say that the Immortal Sect Master didn't expect him to suffer such a bad injury, which is why the remaining sword will couldn't wake up?"
The Young Zen Master glanced at Zhuo Rusui like he would an idiot before saying, "It's impossible for someone who is so scared of dying to have only one contingency plan."
"Does your speculation mean…'I didn't know who I was until today'?"
The voice of Jian Xilai suddenly rang out outside the round window.
"Though I'm not very knowledgeable about it, I truly believe it has this meaning."
Having said that, the Young Zen Master lifted his monk robe and stepped over the round window and sat down on the stone bench with Jian Xilai after coming to the lakeshore.
His bare feet resembled white lotus flowers that reached into the slightly chilly lake water, attracting many fish to come over and play as he kicked his feet back and forth in the water.
"It's said that you are the former respectful and strict Master Linyu, but you like playing as much as a child after being reincarnated. Is there any secret about it?" asked Jian Xilai.
"I've discussed this with the Immortal Jing Yang," said the Young Zen Master. "I began to remember more things in my former life after my adopted father died; but can it prove I am the former me?"
Jian Xilai returned, "It's truly hard to prove. He is in the same situation; is he Jing Yang or Jing Jiu? Or in other words, does he wish to be Jing Yang or Jing Jiu?"
"I'm really not knowledgeable about it. But what you have just said is correct; I'm really into playing in this life."
The Young Zen Master took out a handful of thin wooden sticks and tossed them on the stone bench between the two of them.
Most of the thin sticks leaned against each other in a casual manner, and some of them were scattered outside the pile. However, if one looked at them closely, they would be able to find that the structure of the sticks was very complicated; it was quite difficult to dismantle the pile.
This was the most common and simplest game played by children. Jian Xilai knew how to play it even though he focused all of his energy on the sword work and paid no attention to the affairs of the world.
He shot a glance at the Young Zen Master and found that the expression in his eyes was exceedingly pure as well as earnest.
Jian Xilai pulled out a stick from the pile after some thought.
The stick he picked was neither the top one nor the easiest one, and it was not the hardest one in a difficult spot. It was a casual pick.
The morning breeze blew over the surface of the lake, and the morning sunlight was disturbed slightly, as two sword lights arrived.
The Immortal Guangyuan and Nan Wang landed by the lake. Zhao Layue and the others had also arrived. Their gazes were fixed on the stone bench.
They were aware that the pile of thin sticks was a battleground for the Young Zen Master and Jian Xilai.
The Young Zen Master pulled out a stick.
Jian Xilai suddenly pulled out two sticks at the same time.
The Young Zen Master shot him a glance.
It was deathly quiet by the lake. The morning breeze would halt as it reached the stone bench, not to mention the onlookers.
A simple game for the children was not something difficult for the likes of Jian Xilai and the Young Zen Master.
It didn't take long before Nan Wang and the others figured out the true intention of the game.
The Young Zen Master and Jian Xilai seemed to pull the sticks casually each time; but it was not the case. The sticks they had chosen were not for the purpose of pulling them out without disturbing the other sticks. What they tried to achieve was to make the pile of sticks more complicated and more fragile for their opponents. This seemingly insignificant game of pulling sticks was actually more like a chess game, and it was not a regular chess game either. In fact, it was tantamount to the three-dimensional Go game Jing Jiu demonstrated on the Chessboard Mountain in Zhaoge City.
It was evident that the game reminded Que Niang of the scene back on the Chessboard Mountain. Her eyes beamed brightly, and she paid intensive attention to the game.
As time elapsed, the morning sunlight grew stronger and redder, even though the morning breeze was as mild as before.
It was still very quiet by the lake. The two of them pulled out the sticks at a slower pace. The expression on the face of the Young Zen Master was grave, and Jian Xilai had changed his sitting posture once. As far as the Cultivation state was concerned, the Young Zen Master might be a tad inferior to Jian Xilai; but he had been studying the pile of sticks ever since he went to Green Mountain and discussed the Dao with the Immortal Jing Yang for one hundred days. It was really unclear who would win the game.
At last, most of the sticks had been pulled out; they were either scattered on the ground or floating on the surface of the lake.
Only three sticks leaned against each other on the stone bench, giving off an exquisite sensation of stability and balance, impossible to describe in words.
The pile looked like a setup for bonfire, burning slowly amid the morning sunlight.
If any one of the sticks was pulled out, the remaining two sticks would collapse unless they were maintained by magic; but it was meaningless to do so.
It was the Young Zen Master's turn to pull a stick.
He remained silent for a long time while looking at the three sticks on the stone bench. His white-lotus like bare feet slapped on the surface of the lake, driving the annoying fish away.
The Young Zen Master said this with a faint smile, like a highly achieved chess player admitting the defeat by throwing down the chess pieces.
The key to the outcome of the game was not the method or choice of the sticks. Judging from the final result, it depended solely on the number of the sticks and the rotations of the players.
The two of them could easily calculate the number of the sticks leaning against each other after the Young Zen Master threw down the sticks, excluding the ones not in the pile.
"Your ability of calculating is not inferior to his anymore. Even if he could wake up, he wouldn't be able to defeat you in this respect."
Having said that, the Young Zen Master walked to the surface of the lake. The lake water rippled, producing a lotus cloud.
"Are you going to leave like this?" Nan Wang exclaimed to him.
The Young Zen Master replied, "I can't beat him. What can I do? I'm going back to White Town."
The morning wind blew the lotus cloud up into the sky, which headed toward the snowland amid the morning twilight.
The crowd pulled back their gazes and looked at Jian Xilai on the stone bench who looked like a statue, feeling dejected.
It was then that the Green Bird flew over from the tree branch.
She used her two small talons to hold two thin sticks at the same time and used her beak to pick out a stick and toss it aside.
Then, she turned to Jian Xilai and claimed contentedly, "Does it mean I've won? Should you leave now?"
Jian Xilai didn't know how to respond.
"Don't bring shame to yourself."
Zhuo Rusui said earnestly, "What you did was stepping on high wooden legs."
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