Jing Jiu passed the sticks to the Young Zen Master while saying, "Though the principle is simple enough, it's not so easy to think it through."
The Young Zen Master suddenly asked after taking the sticks with both of his hands, "When did you think of this principle?"
Jing Jiu strolled to the doorsill and looked in the direction of the snowland, saying, "I thought of it one day out of the blue. I believe it occurred in the Fiend Prison when I discussed the soul fires with the Underworld Emperor."
"Was it because of the name of soul fire?" asked the Young Zen Master.
"Don't you think the name doesn't make sense? As such, it must be named for other reasons."
Jing Jiu went on, "I've asked the Snow Girl about it and found that they don't regard it that way; but it doesn't mean the humans can't."
Hearing the Snow Girl, the Young Zen Master asked while shaking his head, "Are you sure it's a good thing to help her leave the world?"
"It's just a thing to do," said Jing Jiu. "Whether it's good or bad is not my consideration."
Zhao Layue got up and looked at the deep part of the snowland by following his line of sight. "Do you intend to kill her?" she asked Jing Jiu.
The icy peak was quiet since Jing Jiu had come to the snowland, and the spiritual awareness didn't show up, which revealed her intention.
"Though she is not as powerful as her mother, it's still quite difficult to kill her. But, why should I kill her? I had a good relationship with her mother," replied Jing Jiu.
"It's because she had a bad relationship with her mother, and she almost killed her mother," said Zhao Layue.
Jing Jiu said, "Her mother was in her weakest condition after giving birth, and her mother also intended to leave the snowland by cheating the heavenly fate."
The Young Zen Master shook his head many times as he remarked, "This conversation is kind of bizarre."
Jing Jiu nodded slightly toward the icy peak situated in the deep part of the snowland, and got ready to leave.
The Young Zen Master said, "I'm not going to see you off at that time."
"Why?" demanded Zhao Layue, feeling surprised.
The Young Zen Master returned with a matter-of-fact expression, "Nothing interesting to see during the ritual of a second 'marriage'."
The reason the Young Zen Master would not see Jing Jiu off was because the two of them had a special and close relationship rather than because the Young Zen Master detested his "second marriage".
Similarly, many people had many different opinions of Zhaoge City.
Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue had stayed in the Zhao Garden outside the city for a few days; he found that the parents of Zhao Layue only had a few years ahead of them. After that, they went to the royal palace and met Jing Yao. Later, the two of them spent a day touring the new and the old plum gardens, visiting the pavilion in which a Go game was displayed on the board and the small lake with a bridge in the middle before they went to Taichang Temple.
The black eaves of Taichang Temple were washed clean by the rainwater in summer, looking rather vigorous even though they lacked the spiritual energy they had had before. The purple wildflowers filled up the backyard, and fewer prisoners were in the cells in the underground. According to State Duke Lu, the last few prisoners would die within two hundred years.
Most of State Duke Lu's descendants had died, but he was still alive. It was unclear if he would think of his lonely neighbor when he looked at those of his increasingly unfamiliar descendants.
Jing Li spent most of his time copying the scripts at the Royal College. As such, the Jing House was empty most of time.
Jing Jiu was still not very familiar with this house even though he had slept one hundred years in the study room.
Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue strolled about in the living room and the courtyard before they sat in the study room for half a night. The two of them got up and left the place as the morning sunlight shone on Zhaoge City.
The Empty Realm above the blue sky was close by, looking like a piece of glass; but it seemed indestructible.
Zhao Layue asked before entering the Empty Realm, "Should we go visit the Fruit Formation Temple?"
That stone pagoda was still at the Fruit Formation Temple. Now that this was a farewell trip, it was necessary to visit it.
"Since he is gone, what is the meaning of visiting the pagoda?" Jing Jiu bantered. "I'm not Zhuo Rusui who can fall asleep only by holding onto that pagoda."
Zhao Layue was certain that Jing Jiu was different than before ever since Nan Wang burned the remaining corpse and since he woke up at the Three-Thousand Nunnery.
Of course, he might have been affected by Zhuo Rusui.
Like what the Young Zen Master said, it was the consequences of the karmas in this life.
The Muddy River outside Nanhezhou was illuminated by a blood-red sword light.
Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue landed on a rock. Looking at the thatched huts by the river housing the migrants, they saw a middle-aged monk who was busy treating the wounded without any opportunity to talk to anyone. The monk was the disciple of the pair of master and disciple they had met in Nanhezhou many years ago.
Zhao Layue killed a Cultivation practitioner for the sake of that pair and became the culprit pursued by the Pure Heaven Bureau, leading to many events , such as Xiao He, the Old Ones, Shi Fengchen, Wang Xiaoming…Those stories were so exciting and impressive at the time, but were as light as if they had been dispersed by the wind. Even if she recollected them occasionally, they seemed to have happened in another lifetime.
"Since everybody has their own different path, I shouldn't have restricted you back then," said Jing Jiu.
Zhao Layue demanded after shooting a glance his way, "Are you sure my path is correct?"
Jing Jiu said, "Like we discussed before, the reason the Cultivation practitioners in the Heavenly Arrival State are called the important figures is because there is an important object laying between life and death."
Zhao Layue mulled over this statement.
"The Cultivation practitioners in the Heavenly Arrival State will confront ascension when they take a step forward; but they will be trapped between life and death if they don't take this step, and they will be the same as the mortals."
Jing Jiu continued, "You've chosen to challenge death in order to live. Though it's a dangerous approach, it'll be faster than others to achieve the goal."
"Wait until I reach the Heavenly Arrival State like what Peng Lang did," said Zhao Layue.
Jing Jiu said, "It's not that difficult."
Zhao Layue asked while staring at his eyes, "Are you going to leave?"
"Not yet," returned Jing Jiu.
Zhao Layue drew back her gaze and looked at the waves rolling toward the east in the Muddy River, saying, "Don't wait for me."
Jing Jiu had made it clear that he wouldn't leave before he helped her break through the Heavenly Arrival State.
She didn't want his help. It had nothing to do with the burden she would feel; it was only that she didn't want to delay him.
Jing Jiu didn't give a response. He went to Cloudy Town with her and asked a hotpot in that restaurant.
The red soup and the white soup started boiling one after another. The meats and vegetables were put in the pot accordingly. The aroma assailed noses along with the steam coming out from the pot, which then mixed with the clouds and fog in the town after sifting out of the window.
The door of the private room was tightly shut though the gate of the restaurant was wide open. The owner of the restaurant, who was a descendant of many generations of the original owner, knelt on the first floor with all of his family members, the manager and waiters.
The residents of Cloudy Town and populace were kneeling by the street.
The numerous sword lights in the sky revealed the identities of the man and the woman inside the restaurant.
Zhao Layue didn't have a good appetite that day. Maybe, she didn't like being gazed at by others while eating. She stopped and put down her chopsticks after having eaten three plates of mutton.
The blood-red sword light illuminated the clouds and fog flowing out from Green Mountain before it disappeared into the midst of the peaks. She didn't heed the elders and disciples of Green Mountain who came out to receive the Sect Master, indicating that she was in a bad mood.
There was no acquaintance at the South-Pine Pavilion anymore; so Jing Jiu went to the small building directly. He stopped before his own portrait after examining the portraits of the grandmasters of the previous generations.
Different from the picture he gave to the Mysterious Heaven Sect, the Immortal Jing Yang in this portrait had a distinct appearance. It was because someone had seen his face.
Zhao Layue turned and left the small building after shooting him a glance.
A sound of silvery bell chimed in the quiet forest.
Fifty sword strings formed a cloud after they faded in the sunlight, and landed by Jing Jiu's side.
A bare foot poked out from the cloud. The white ankle tied to a silvery bell looked very appealing.
Nan Wang walked out from the cloud while asking him, "How did I do with the portrait?"
Looking at himself in the portrait, the nostalgia in his eyes faded away gradually before he remarked, "I think I look better now."
Nan Wang asked after a sneer, "We have waited for you for many days, but you didn't come back. When will you leave?"
The whole of Chaotian knew that Jing Jiu was to ascend.
However, nobody knew when he would do so exactly. All they could do was come to Green Mountain and wait patiently.
As long as the date of ascension was not determined, the whole world had no choice but to wait. They had to put everything aside for the time being, and nobody dared ask him, save for Nan Wang.
After some thought, Jing Jiu said, "I'll do it today then."
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