Those who were to visit the main campus of the University of Stargate were mostly new students in addition to the exchange students. As a result, the hospital became crowded.
The physical exams were simple enough. All they needed to do was to lie in the medical compartment for a while. Soon after, the students left the hospital, which then returned to its former state of quietness.
In the dead of the night, the door of a special ward at the end of the corridor was pushed open as Zong Lizi walked out from it, a baffled expression showing on her tear-stained face.
Before the door of the special ward was closed, a barrage of vehement discussions or debates could be heard inside the room, and also seen in the room were a few white-haired professors waving their arms excitedly.
The associated hospital was located at the eastern side of the lake by the University of Stargate, a bit far from the hotel. Yet, Zong Lizi didn't ride in a bus. She opted to walk to the other side of the lake.
She walked much more swiftly than before; it was unclear if she was in a good mood or her physical condition had indeed improved. And she could see the reflection of the starlight on the surface of the lake much more clearly now.
She sped up as she thought of something. Soon, she started running, and arrived at the hotel in no time. As she passed by the large tree by the swimming pool, she reached out her palm and patted on it, as if she was giving it a high-five.
The elevator moved.
The door of the suite opened.
Jing Jiu was lying on the chair on the deck, bathing under the stars naked.
She threw herself onto him and kissed him on the lips without taking a look at him.
Jing Jiu figured out what had happened.
He knew what kind of a mental effect it had on someone when the person found out that the shadow of death was lifted.
Many years ago, he had the same feeling when he finished reading all the scripts on Cultivation collected by Shiyue Peak and ascertained that he would be able to ascend.
Hence, he bestowed a great deal of patience and forgiveness onto this girl with silvery hair and let her sit on him and kiss him; but this was the most he could tolerate.
As Zong Lizi was about to kiss him again, he tapped his finger at the center of her brows and pushed her away coldly.
Zong Lizi didn't struggle and sat by him obediently, holding his hands tightly. Looking at him and pouting her mouth, she was to cry heartily.
"Don't cry; out with it," said Jing Jiu.
After sniffling a few times, she said while holding his hands, "My illness has been cured."
Jing Jiu uttered "hmm".
Zong Lizi was still in an excited mood, so she didn't notice his calm reaction, saying, "All of my test results are pretty good, and everything is rather desirable. The professors thought that one of my gene modifications might not be a total failure. As for why my condition has suddenly changed, they said they would still need more research."
"Congratulations," said Jing Jiu.
The more Zong Lizi thought about it, the happier she felt. For some reason, she felt a bit sad as she asked indignantly, "Why can't I hug you for such an occasion?"
"It has nothing to do with me," said Jing Jiu. "Why do you want to hug me? Don't try to take advantage of me."
Having said this, Jing Jiu found that he talked much more than he had done in Chaotian.
Staring into his eyes, Zong Lizi said softly, "My life has changed considerably after I met you, and it gets better by the day. And a miracle has even occurred…All of these of course have something to do with you."
She stood up and pressed her hands together while looking at the stars in the night sky. "I'll go to the Fire-Passing Pagoda to pray and thank god for saving me," she announced.
Jing Jiu thought she would thank the wrong person.
Zong Lizi pulled back her gaze and asked Jing Jiu, "Are you going to accompany me?"
"No," returned Jing Jiu.
The next day.
Jing Jiu watched the Fire-Passing Pagoda on the other side of the street while leaning against a wall. All of a sudden, he felt a slight itching sensation on his back.
The feeling occurred probably because he felt uneasy or because the gravitational field in the Administrative Bureau had an effect on him. It was a fact that he had a natural response to anything that posed a threat to him.
The Fire-Passing Pagoda was a multi-level building, which was different from the Buddhist pagoda in Chaotian. It was actually more like the auction house in Henanzhou. The size of the upper level was smaller than that of each lower level. The corridors with round and colorful windows welcomed the wind and pilgrims. If the windows were open, one could see the frescos full of sacred intent in the distance.
Looking at the praying hall on the third floor of the Fire-Passing Pagoda, Jing Jiu saw Zong Lizi and other pilgrims sit on a bench, hands pressed together, praying reverentially.
Many women in Chaotian liked praying to fulfill the wishes. He was of course familiar to this sort of thing. However, he didn't want to see the little girl be scammed too much since she didn't have that much money, which is why he decided to come and watch out for her. And more importantly, he had other matters to take care of there. As the side door of the Administrative Bureau was opened, a few government officials walked out hastily, one of them holding a cup of some sort of drink in his hand. Jing Jiu remembered clearly that this kind of drink was provided in the transporter leading to the underground.
A middle-aged man wearing a thin trench-coat walked out with his head lowered. His golden hair under the hat looked like the messy grass.
The middle-aged man suddenly stopped short when he passed by Jing Jiu. "Is it you?" he asked uncertainly.
Jing Jiu uttered "hmm".
This middle-aged man with golden hair was Tang Gu, a famous material scientist at the underground laboratory. He said with a baffled expression in his eyes, "A voice in my mind has told me over the last few days that I should come up here at this time to find someone…I know this is a form of awareness control, but why can't I resist such control?"
Jing Jiu returned, "Since your awareness is under my control, how could you?"
This statement sounded like nonsense, and it would be nonsense if one contemplated it; however, it was necessary for those who employed the secret method of Two-Mind Connection of the Zen sects.
To control an intelligent being with the Two-Mind Connection for a prolonged period of time was difficult, even for Jing Jiu. As such, he had to reinforce it at a certain interval.
"What do you want me to do by summoning me up here?" asked Tang Gu.
Jing Jiu demanded, "Has anyone seen my files recently?"
Those files were stored in a special network. If he surveilled them by means of the Cloud Ghost, he had to write codes in it, which would be detected sooner or later.
Likewise, some of the codes he had written on that battleship were deleted. Fortunately, he set the codes to be transferred at a preset time and created adequate information-skipping bridges; the military couldn't follow the clues to find him. They were still investigating the case inside the military.
Shaking his head, Tang Gu said, "They are top secret to begin with. After the president came last time, nobody asked about this matter."
Jing Jiu thought that he would take the Snow Girl to the Science Academy on the Main Planet once she found him, and try to find more information from the president.
Jing Jiu waved his hand to motion for Tang Gu to leave. He looked like a deviant youth who didn't wish to accept his parent's advice.
As Tang Gu was about to take his leave, he suddenly halted his steps. Looking at the eyes that were not covered by the blue tracksuits, he asked after some hesitation, "Can I be a follower of yours?"
"That's your need, not mine," said Jing Jiu.
Having said this, Jing Jiu paid no more attention to him and turned to the building across from him.
Zong Lizi was talking to a main preacher.
He was the very preacher who had tried to persuade him.
The main preacher said the other day that following god was not the need of god, but the need of the pilgrims.
It was late at night. The starlight looked like water.
Lying on the chair on the deck, Jing Jiu was looking at an ordinary star by the edge of the sea of stars.
"What are you looking at?"
Zong Lizi came out with two cups of tea in her hands after she ascertained that he had his clothes on.
Jing Jiu took the cup and had a sip. He found that the tea didn't taste as good as that boiled by Gu Qing, but better than that boiled by Jing Li's wife. The temperature of the water was appropriate even though the quality of the tea was undesirable.
"Do you believe in god?"
He had heard clearly the conversation between her and the main preacher during the day.
Zong Lizi replied after some thought, "Yes, I do."
"Why?" prodded Jing Jiu.
Zong Lizi said earnestly while looking at Jing Jiu, "The main preacher said that the reason a miracle has occurred to me is because I have met an extraordinary person."
"And...?," Jing Jiu prompted.
Zong Lizi continued, "He said that you should bring miracles to more people."
"For instance?" prompted Jing Jiu.
Zong Lizi said, "You could participate in the selection of a female priest, for instance."
"The…female priest?" exclaimed Jing Jiu after shooting a glance her way.
Zong Lizi grinned teasingly as she bumped her teacup with the one in his hand, saying, "You're so pretty that no one will be able to tell the difference."
Jing Jiu said, "But I know my own gender."
Zong Lizi displayed more of a young girl's temperament after she got rid of the shadow of death. "Is gender so important?" she challenged with raised brows.
"Not really," said Jing Jiu after some thought.
For an ascendant who had a long life and was preoccupied with the Dao, the physique and appearance were not important for them, to say nothing of gender.
However, it didn't mean that he would participate in the selection of female priest; it was because it was not an important matter as far as he was concerned.
"You haven't told me yet; what is over there, the spot you've being looking at?...There is no star there."
Zong Lizi came to the railing of the deck with the teacup in her hand and looked up at a spot in the night sky.
"There are many gods there," said Jing Jiu.
Zong Lizi thought he was joking, but she felt a bit perplexed when she recalled what the main preacher had said.
Was what had happened to her truly the miracle?
The expression in her eyes grew more determined as she said, "Now that you're not going to participate, I'm going to then."
She referred to the selection of female priest.
Back when she lived in the apartment in the underground neighborhood, she thought that she would be able to witness the contest for the selection of female priest in person if she became an exchange student at the University of Stargate.
But now, she decided to participate in the selection of female priest herself.
As far as this girl with silvery hair was concerned, this was undoubtedly the bravest and most important decision she had ever made in the sixteen years of her life.
The reason Zong Lizi made the decision to participate in the selection of female priest was mainly because her illness had suddenly been cured and her life had been instilled with a great deal of fresh energy. Of course, the decision also had something to do with her conversation with the main preacher. What the main preacher told her seemed to be spontaneous, which could be easily found in the scripts praising god; but the main preacher had actually offered a subtle suggestion.
The officials in the imperial court and the scoundrels in the villages were all good at this sort of things. They were far better than the scholars at the One-Cottage House. Jing Jiu had a clear understanding of this.
On the same night, Jing Jiu set up a Formation of Inherited Heaven Sword after he induced Zong Lizi into a sound sleep, then jumped off the deck.
The wind caused by his jump was soundless; but the wind in the tunnel of the floating trains whistled loudly.
Half a minute later, Jing Jiu arrived at the most tranquil and more expensive neighborhood in Shou'er City with the detached houses and their gardens, and found the house of the main preacher.
The first thing one does when eating is to pick up the chopsticks. The first thing Jing Jiu did was to take control of the network of the house and dismantle all the protective devices.
Like what was often described in the plots of the novels in this world, the main preacher lived an exceedingly luxurious life. His house was decorated with many lavish and expensive furniture and ornaments. A child from the underground neighborhood would feel extremely enraged when they saw the life led by the main preacher.
Jing Jiu didn't feel anything since he was born in the royal palace and had lived a life of fairy man for a thousand years. He waved his hand to make the main preacher fall into a deep sleep. He began to read the memories in the mind of the main preacher after he made sure that the main preacher had no auto-destruction device implanted in his brain.
Jing Jiu had no intention to turn this person into a zombie; all he did was push the secret method of soul-search of the Mysterious Dark Sect to the fourth level.
In the consciousness of the secret method of soul-search, the mind of the subject was quite foggy; and some pictures would appear in the fog from time to time. It was rather difficult to read the mind directly because it was as chaotic as the novels of the supernatural stream of consciousness in this world; as a result, it was impossible to find the objective truth.
A breeze came out from the temperature control device, smelling like the air on the prairie. An aroma of some kind must have been added to it.
A sword light came out from Jing Jiu's eyes. The scattered pieces of information had gradually formed into whole pictures with the help of both the sword awareness and Two-Mind Connection.
He didn't try to have a peek of the undesirable episodes in the main preacher's childhood. All he watched were the happenings in the last few days. He saw the boring and repetitive recitations of the scripts, meetings and sermons. And he also saw many faces of the pilgrims and some personal conducts.
Next, he saw his own blurry figure. It was recorded when the main preacher attempted to persuade him that day; and he could also sense the shock and anger the main preacher felt at the time.
It was evident that the main preacher was startled when he said "I'm god".
Nothing suspicious had happened until the main preacher left Shou'er City and rode a flying device to the surface of the planet a few days ago.
No picture could be seen during the trip. The main preacher was either sleeping or meditating with his eyes closed at the time.
Jing Jiu believed it was the latter; it was because the main preacher was in a tranquil and awe-inspiring mood by the time he left the flying device and walked into a huge building.
The huge building was as large as a mountain, situated in the deep part of the prairie. The tip of the tower seemed able to pierce through the protective shield of the planet and touch the distant permanent star.
It was expansive inside the building so much so that it could receive a great many pilgrims at a time. There was nobody in the building when the main preacher walked into it.
A gray screen hung in the deepest end of the building, which looked like a dark gray sky looming. It was so vast that the regular folks shouldn't be able to see the edge of it.
The main preacher knelt before the gray screen, as if he were an ant looking up at the sky.
A mild and peaceful voice came out from the inside of the screen, sounding like a decree given by god in the sky, "Go serve the youth."
"Serve the one who has denigrated god?" prodded the main preacher, his body trembling slightly.
The voice rang out, "God is everything. Since we're looking for him, why do we care about his exterior?"
"What…are you…talking about?" the main preacher faltered in shock.
The voice demanded, "What was the last wish the god had before his departure?"
"Find a new god," answered the main preacher with his head lowered.
The voice declared, "I think…he is the one."
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