Unexpectedly, Zhao Layue suddenly withdrew the sword wills;the light rays had scattered abruptly to make the map and the light specks disappear.
"I haven't seen it clearly yet," complained Zhuo Rusui.
Zhao Layue stared at him once, and he coughed twice. She thought that Zhuo Rusui shouldn't make a fuss today after he had been tortured so much by that book a few days ago.
Everyone had figured that this black board should have something to do with Jing Jiu; but what did the light speck signal? If it was a location, what was hidden there?
Liu Shisui said to Lu Jin, "Sect Master Lu, please tell us."
Lu Jin said, "My Master and I had entered the Scenery Garden. You people should be able to remember the event."
Zhao Layue and the others nodded.
Lu Jin went on, "The Immortal Jing Yang gave this black board to us at that meeting, and told us that we should bring the black board back when something serious happened."
He and Zhou Yunmu were pursued by many deviant practitioners after they left the Scenery Garden. They survived because of protection from the Green Mountain Sect.
It wasn't until today that Zhao Layue found out that Jing Jiu had given them a very important item.
"This black board has been kept at the Mysterious Heaven Sect for more than one hundred years; it's still in exactly the same condition."
Lu Jin was aware of what they would ask him, so he explained, "I didn't know it's a map until today. As for what is the location of the light speck, I have no idea."
Zhuo Rusui mused that the Grandmaster had predicted that he would die now and prepared for it beforehand back when he was at the Scenery Garden more than one hundred years ago. Was it the hidden treasures of his in that location? Would the dividing of his treasures ensue? However, he wouldn't say anything about his thoughts even though he let his ideas and desires go berserk in his mind.
"There is no point in guessing what is in there. We should just go have a look," said Nan Wang.
Yet, Zhao Layue had another question, "Why didn't you bring it to us back when he slept unconsciously in Zhaoge City?"
Jing Jiu had slept in Zhaoge City for one hundred years; but he slept only a few days at the Three-Thousand Nunnery.
"The Immortal told us that we would bring it whenever we thought it's the time…" said Lu Jin while looking at Jing Jiu. "I believe this should be the time."
Though the Sword Formation of Green Mountain was destroyed, the Great Formation of the mountain gate insulating the Cultivation world from the mortal world was still intact. And yet, Green Mountain would still be around even if the Great Formations were all gone.
The peaks were shrouded among the clouds and fog all year long. Each time the wind rose, the clouds and fog would flow out like water and gathered in a busy small town.
The hustle and bustle were the same as before in Cloudy Town; the noisy customers could be heard in the hotpot restaurants. Looking at the distant mountains, the visitors could see the flowering trees and the stream outside the town, but they couldn't see the Scenery Garden hidden among the flowering trees and the stream.
There was a mountain ten miles from the Scenery Garden; but it was a mountain in the mortal world, in which there was a village. Many deserted fields and a pond could be found in the village. The banyan tree by the pond was illuminated by the sword lights as Nan Wang, Zhao Layue and Liu Shisui appeared; they were the ones, along with the cat, who had the closest relationship with Jing Yang.
It was deathly quiet in the village; no sound, not even the clucking of chickens and barking of dogs, were audible. It was like a graveyard.
In fact, this was indeed a large graveyard. Liu Shisui recalled his relatives who were killed by the Immortal Taiping as he looked at the dark and gloomy buildings. He opened his eyes sharply after closing them for a moment, and found Zhao Layue also show a strange expression on her face.
She gazed at the green lotus leaves on the surface of the pond while holding Ada, reflecting on something.
Many years ago, Liu Shisui listened to the scripts at the vegetable garden outside the Fruit Formation Temple; and Jing Jiu stayed behind closed doors atop Shenmo Peak for twelve years. After coming out from closed doors, Jing Jiu brought Zhao Layue and Ada to the Fruit Formation Temple, and they stopped at the village midway. She had waited by the pond for Jing Jiu while holding Ada the same way she did today.
Though she didn't know where Jing Jiu had gone and what he had done, she had felt ill at ease the same way she did today.
Nan Wang took out the black board and glanced at the location of the light speck, saying, "It's right there."
The sword strings emerged from thin air, making buzzing sounds, leaving hundreds of straight lines on the green lotus leaves on the surface of the pond. The lines on the leaves looked like a chessboard.
Having passed the deathly village, a few hills and a wild forest, they arrived on the bank of a stream.
Many years ago, Jing Jiu waded out from this stream and lit a bonfire first time in his life to dry the white cloth.
The place Nan Wang, Zhao Layue and Liu Shisui were to visit was located at the end of the stream in that mountain.
Entering the deep part of the mountain was as difficult as climbing onto the sky for a mortal; but it was an easy task for Nan Wang, who was in the Heavenly Arrival State.
She lifted her right hand and pointed to the steep but smooth precipice, the silver bell jingling. She was intended to create a passage by force.
"I played in this stream when I was a kid," said Liu Shisui. "We can get in from there."
There was an opening of a cave on the precipice, from which a silvery waterfall dropped down; it was the origin of the stream.
The three of them entered the precipice after passing through the waterfall. There was a dim passage inside the precipice, from which the stream water rushed out. The torrent bumped into the hard rocks, making incessant booming noise. The darkness and the torrent had no effect on the three of them; but the length of the passage was longer than they had imagined. It seemed that it led all the way to the deepest end of the mountain.
After a long while, a glow could be seen up ahead, which was in reality a glowing pearl embedded in the cliff wall.
Nan Wang's face looked terrible as she gazed at the glowing pearl on the cliff wall; it was unclear what she had thought of at the moment.
Liu Shisui, who walked in front of the others, warned, "There's a sword formation."
Zhao Layue and Nan Wang came over and sensed the cold sword wills in the cliff wall, feeling perplexed.
The cold sword wills and the sword formation hidden in this mountain had the apparent traces of Green Mountain; but it was obviously not the Inherited Heaven Sword Formation though.
"It's the same as the one in the Sword Jail…" Liu Shisui remembered the passageway under Shangde Peak and the Queen of the Snowy Kingdom imprisoned in that cell. The expression on his face grew worried.
Zhao Layue also remembered it since she had been to that cell and sensed the chaotic sword wills in that passageway.
"The Sealing Ice Formation of Thousand-Miles…It's he who set up it."
The voice of Nan Wang was even colder than the sword wills, "Looks like we've come to the right place."
This so-called Sealing Ice Formation of Thousand-Miles had imprisoned the Immortal Taiping for a few hundred years; as such, they had no way to dismantle it.
It was then that they realized why Jing Jiu had left the black board for them.
A few faint sword wills drifted out from the complicated carvings on the surface of the black board, as if they had sensed the energy in the sword formation.
The few sword wills flew into the sword formation like the light on an oil lamp merging into the first ray of the morning sunlight.
The Sealing Ice Formation of Thousand-Miles was dismantled soundlessly; the glowing pearl on the cliff wall illuminated the manor cave to drive away the darkness.
This was a simple and modest manor cave, with a few meek items. It was as tedious as its former owner.
A stone bed was placed against the cliff wall, and there were two tattered futons in front of the bed, which could vanish immediately when a gust of wind came in.
Ada stared at the two futons while he was in Zhao Layue's bosom and suddenly inhaled twice through his nose. His eyes displayed a perplexed expression; it was unclear what smell he had recalled.
A person lay on the stone bed. The natural silk clothing on him had already rotted away completely, revealing bloodless wounds throughout his body. The belt made from the python tendon had been snapped into many sections, scattering around the body. It was hard to discern his appearance because his face was shrouded in a thin layer of fog. It seemed as if the fog wouldn't disperse in ten thousand years; and the starlight of a billion years old seemed to hide inside the fog.
Though Zhao Layue and Liu Shisui had anticipated this, they were still stunned speechless when they saw the corpse on the stone bed.
The sound of water dripping suddenly broke out in the quiet manor cave.
Zhao Layue wondered how the water could leak through the cliff wall since that person was very picky.
She spun her head around and saw a scene that was impossible for her to forget.
Nan Wang was crying.
It was a soundless cry.
No sadness could be detected on her face. She didn't make any noise, her face looking as nonchalant as ever; but her tears were dripping down uncontrollably.
"It turns out…that you're really dead."
Nan Wang walked to the stone bed and sat down slowly. She touched his face through the layer of fog with her hand; her tears ceased dripping down gradually. And yet, her voice had more of a hint of sadness.
Zhao Layue and Liu Shisui came before the stone bed and knelt down on the ground after eyeing each other, knocking their heads on the ground tree times.
Ada had jumped off from Zhao Layue's bosom a while ago. He stared at the two futons in front of the stone bed in a peculiarly concentrated manner.
"I could recognize you even if you turned into ashes."
This was not Ada's thought; it was Nan Wang's.
As soon as she walked into the manor cave, she recognized who the person on the stone bed was.
More than one hundred years ago, the Immortal Jing Yang ascended after slicing the sky with a swing of his sword.
However, something was wrong with the Formation of Dispersed Cloud and Smoke; and he was later sneak-attacked by the Fairy Lady Bai Ren. He came back to the human world after sustaining a severe injury and hid in this manor cave.
He used the Thunder-Soul Wood that he had prepared beforehand to transfer his spiritual soul to the All in One Sword right before his death and to be reborn as a sword body.
The body on the stone bed was the remains, or the remaining shell, of the Immortal Jing Yang.
"Young Master…had suffered a great deal."
Liu Shisui said this in a trembling voice while looking at the wounds on the body.
The Fairy Lady Bai Ren and the Immortal Taiping were both dead; the hatred related to this matter had gone with the wind; but he still felt very sad at the moment.
But Zhao Layue thought of another issue after she calmed down.
The figures like Liu Ci in the Heavenly Arrival State would cause a response in heaven and earth, and they would also start off a peculiar phenomenon, like turning into specks of light, a "spring rain," or the morning sunlight. But, why could the remaining shell of the Immortal Jing Yang be preserved for so long? Was it because his spiritual soul was still alive and he had already reached the Contained Heaven and Earth State before his ascension so that his death was not a definite one?
"What should we do next?" Liu Shisui asked Zhao Layue.
More than one hundred years ago, Jing Jiu asked two regular Cultivation practitioners to take the black board with them, indicating that he had had a contingency plan.
They had come here along with the black board and found his former body; what should they do then?
Zhao Layue said, "Do you remember what the Young Zen Master said at the Three-Thousand Nunnery? Jing Yang and Jing Jiu are similar to the upstream and the downstream of the same river…"
Liu Shisui chimed in, "And the statement 'The dreamer doesn't know he is a guest…I've really failed to understand it."
"He wants to come back," Nan Wang suddenly said.
Zhao Layue and Liu Shisui didn't quite catch what she meant.
"He wants to return to this body," Nan Wang went on in a low voice. "Though he hasn't revealed this intention in the last one hundred and beyond that, I think…he wants to come back. His injury is too severe this time, and his spiritual soul is deeply asleep, which can't be controlled by his willpower. As such, the problem we have now has occurred."
Zhao Layue pressed with furrowed eyebrows, "Do you mean that his spiritual soul resists his current body and is unwilling to wake up?"
"Maybe, he dislikes his current body; or, he misses this body. Who knows," replied Nan Wang.
Zhao Layue inquired in bewilderment, "Even though he was the strongest swordsman in his former life, his body is definitely not as strong as his current sword body as far as the Dao body is concerned. Why doesn't he like his current body?"
"It's because this body can perceive a tickle, pain and drunkenness; but he in the current body…can't perceive any of these."
Caressing the face of Jing Yang on the stone bed, Nan Wang revealed a pitiful and sympathetic expression.
The Cultivation practitioners had a long life; they tended to show indifference to many things that were happening in the world since they had witnessed too many deaths and departures.
However, Jing Jiu was still quite rare among the Cultivation practitioners.
He didn't enjoy eating hotpot, playing Mahjong or drinking wine.
The most delicious foods and the most beautiful things in the world were unappealing for him.
Even those devil men of the deviant sects didn't act in such an extreme manner.
The former Immortal Jing Yang was not as desolate as Jing Jiu.
Why did he act this way?
Nobody had thought about it. Zhao Layue and Liu Shisui believed that he was simply this kind of a person.
It wasn't until now that they realized that Jing Jiu didn't like those things simply because…he couldn't perceive the desirable aspects of them.
As far as he was concerned, the strong wine and hot tea were no different than water.
He could only stroll in the alleys by the White-Horse Lake in the spring rain.
He could only feel the frosty droplets on his face in winter while propping against the Daoist hall.
He could only live an unperceptive life though it was full of poetic meanings.
It is because the poetic meanings are not tangible; they only exist in the words.
The unperceptiveness and unconsciousness are the highest state the Zen sects yearn for.
However, it would be a great pain if one were forced to experience it.
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