Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Chapter 194 - Secrets Leaked


Southern border, the ten thousands great mountains.

Traversing the black mountains, entering the ten thousands great mountains, Ghost Li felt that he had entered a world that was truly primitive wilderness. In fact in the Evil Sect, the wilderness was a reference to the extreme northwest of the Divine Land vast territories, a vast desolate stretch of area, most were gobi desert, barren and even if there was life, it was only for the most stubborn species, and therefore named as such. And the legendary holy temple in the Evil Sect,  was located in that desert but just that Ghost Li had never been there.  

But the world before him now, clearly was completely different from that said wilderness, in the ten thousands great mountains, not only it was not barren, every inch was brimming with life. Large swaths of primitive forests, there was no space to land, lands so full of vegetation that the plants seemed to be fighting for space. And behind the endless trees and brambles, there seemed to be endless number of poisonous evil animals. In the dim shadows around, felt like there would always be the hungry eyes of the predators watching you, waiting for the opportunity to make a snack out of the unwary.

To people like Ghost Li and Jin PingEr, these common poisons were naturally not much of a threat but with this volume, it was a headache. Although they could fly but firstly the air above these forests sporadically had a strange miasma fog rising through the top of the trees; secondly, although they were highly skilled, they still need rest but the harassments from outside never showed signs of stopping.

A few days later, even the monkey Xiao Hui was beginning to get restless.

Here, besides the poisonous fog and evil beasts lurking, the strange weather in the ten thousands great mountains, was rather hard for humans to bear. What was different from Central Plains was, there was no clouds, weathers transitions etc, storms appeared and vanished without warning, initially it was still clear skies, the next instant heavy storms poured; stopping out of a sudden, the moment before lightning and thunders rumbled, the next moment cloudless for miles. The suddenness was startling.

There was no pattern conceivable to the length of the rainfall as well, at times it rained for just a short while, and other times it rained for days, it was really unfathomable.   

At the moment, the two of them were walking through the darkness of the forest, shrouded under the canopy of falling rain.

The reason the two of them did not cast spells and fly, was because when they were about to do so, they discovered that even when it was raining, the tops of the forests were still emanating the strange dark miasma fog. On the contrary, the air on the ground was much more normal.

Ghost Li and Jin PingEr were both figures who had practised long in Evil Sect, their discernment ability definitely not lacking and naturally knew the severity of it, after discussion, they would rather be more cautious and walk through the forest instead.  

This stretch of forest was similar to the other undisturbed forests in the ten thousands great mountains where the foliage were dense and closely entwined. There was no direct paths for the rain to the ground, instead droplets slided and dripped down these leaves and branches, their cold breathing echoed through the forest, except for their footsteps making the rustling sounds and the distant rain dripping, the whole forest lie asleep.

Ghost Li and Jin PingEr had no umbrellas, most likely they did not pack them but even if they did, in this kind of dense forest, they would be hampered by the tugging of the branches against the umbrellas. Xiao Hui was silent, he curled his body and lay on Ghost Li’s shoulder. The rain’s constant dripping had drenched his fur, sticking it close to his body.

Ghost Li’s face was also drenched with the rain, but he looked indifferent as he walked in front, as if he did not feel the strange surrounding atmosphere. Jin PingEr followed him, no indication of fatigue too, but her slightly tousled hair and somehow cold expression, seemed to betray her unhappy mood.     

This stretch of forest, was in fact the same black forest that she came the last time. Jin PingEr clearly knew, after this forest and around a few hills, they would arrive at their destination, and in fact too, she relayed this to Ghost Li.  

[Sha]     

Ghost Li had reached out to break a hanging branch that was part of an extremely tough vine branch, and yet in his hand it was as fragile as tofu. Jin PingEr looked at the branch in his hand silently, frowning as she stared deep in thought.

Suddenly, Ghost Li made a [ai] sound, paused and then hurried a few steps left to a gorgeous view off a cliff, surrounded by a rocks of several chi wide and no vegetation, below their feet were a sea of clouds, rolling with five colours, it was an unbelievable sight.

Footsteps were heard, and Jin PingEr appeared at his side, her expression changed slightly, this was where she was trapped by the mysterious man dressed in black, after her lucky escape, she inadvertently found the Kill-the-living Monk’s knife below the cliff rocks, just that, she looked at Ghost Li and stayed silent, clearly not intending to mention the past events to him.

Ghost Li stared far, overlooking the sea of clouds. After a while, he shook his head slightly and said, “The colourful clouds below, I’m afraid it's just more miasma.”

Jin PingEr nodded and said, “I think so too.”

Ghost Li looked at her and asked, “How much further?”
    
Jin PingEr raised her hand and gently wiped the water droplets off her forehead, pondered and said, “Should be close, I remember the last time when I was here, I walked no further than around two hours and I was out of the black forest. Out here and then crossing two more mountains, we will reach Subdue Devil ancient cave.” As she was saying that, she paused and with some puzzlement said, “Strange, the last time I was here, there were many evil beasts, but along the way, besides the poisonous insects, we have not met even one of those beasts.”

Ghost Li said indifferently, “Most probably those beasts that you saw, had followed the Beast Deity out of the mountains to hunt.”

Jin PingEr looked shocked and realised that it was a definite possibility, and her expression turned to disgust, no matter what, even though she was from the Evil Sect, she could not stand these inhuman attacks. Or maybe, in that Central Plains Venomous Viper Valley battle, HeHuan Sect was annihilated, even though Ghost Li still did not know how Jin PingEr managed to escape alone and took refuge under Ghost King but guessed that Jin PingEr would not have any good feelings towards these demon beasts.

Ghost Li took a deep breath and said, "Let’s go."

And then turned and walked back to the dark forest, Jin PingEr was about to follow when she suddenly turned around and looked down at the cliff, frowning slightly as she was absorbed in thought. Ahead, Ghost Li walked for a while before realising Jin PingEr was not keeping up, turned back and called for her, startling Jin PingEr. She laughed coquettishly and said, “Why, missing me already?”.  

Ghost Li glanced at her, a look of detached and walked on, Jin PingEr smiled and followed along, just as she was about to enter the forest, her hand suddenly waved and a flash of light shot out of her hand, making a [du] muffled sound and embedded itself into a remote gap in a secluded corner of the cliff.   

Light flashed in that gap, it was the Kill-the-living knife.     

And in a blink of an eye, Jin PingEr’s silhouette disappeared.     

The desolate storm, seemed to shroud over again, concealing this part of the black forest, at far, the vast firmament of the ten thousands mountains, seemed to be grey, not knowing if there was some kind of god or demon, howling in the nether world, watching the mortals in the world which seemed so insignificant.

The storm intensifies!

X x x  

As Ghost Li and Jin PingEr battled the howling wind and rain in pursuit for the traces of the Beast Deity, the atmosphere in southern border outside the ten thousand mountains, was also heating up.  

More and more Good Faction disciples arrived at the southern border, and in the hustle and bustle, their arrival almost quickly reduced the number of demons here in the southern border, and on southern border this land, there had never been such many gathering of Central Plains people, and most of them, were cultivated martial artists.
The local five tribes of the southern border indigenous people regarded these outsiders with a distant and respectful attitude, and amongst the righteous disciples, there seemed to be a strange atmosphere, for most of them, as long as they were not of the same sect or clan, they maintained their distance, there were even rumors that certain sects had conflicts.

As for the reasons, no one had ever loudly declared it out.

In a certain sense, cultivated sect FenXiang Valley as the southern border longest resident sect, naturally became the best place to visit for disciples who were not familiar with the local geography, so this valley had changed from its usual tranquility to a busy stream of people coming and going everyday.   
    
And it was also in these circumstances, this day, 3 visitors arrived at the valley, a man and two women from the QingYun sect, Return of the Wind Valley Zeng ShuShu and Small Bamboo Valley WenMin and Lu XueQi.

Of course, there were more than these three disciples from QingYun sect who came to the southern border, in fact, QingYun sect known as the world’s first Good Faction sect, sent countless disciples of the younger generation here, but the best skilled disciples however, could not make their way here, except for the few that already held important roles such as QiHao, Xiao YiCai due to Reverend DaoXuan’s absence recently, the daily affairs at TongTian Peak of all sorts, were left to him to handle and so could not leave; as for Lin JingYu, this time he insisted to remain at Founders Ancestral Hall, it was said he was keeping vigil for a certain Qing Yun senior whom he had great gratitude for, and so could not come.

And amongst the remaining ones, Zeng ShuShu and Lu XueQi were left to lead, for Zeng ShuShu it was quite straightforward, his father Zeng ShuChang only gave a few instructions to him before leaving but for Lu XueQi, it was more complicated, it was said that ShuiYue Master was initially unwilling to give permission but later on for some reason she changed her mind and purposely sent Lu XueQi’s senior sister WenMin along. But there was a good point that WenMin came along, Zeng ShuShu had another companion to talk to. Otherwise like Zeng Shushu’s enthusiastic character, to travel with Lu XueQi’s ice-like personality, out of one day, Zeng ShuShu’s nine out of ten conversations would be to himself, and the last sentence most likely would be Lu Xueqi impatiently ordering him to go away.

On the journey to the southern border, Zeng ShuShu on the contrary, got along well with WenMin, the three of them discussed together, Zeng Shushu was adamant that as fellow Good Faction sects, arriving in southern border, they still have to make a visit to FenXiang Valley to pay their respects. Only Lu XueQi seemed reluctant, indifferently expressed her opinion, said that it was not their first time to the southern border and roughly knew where to go, there was no need to trouble others.   

Zeng ShuShu and WenMin both knew that Lu XueQi still had a knot in her heart, that day at Qing Yun TongTian Peak Crystal Jade Hall, she publicly rejected FenXiang Valley leader Yun YiLan’s favourite disciple Li Xun’s marriage proposal, humiliating Yun YiLan and Reverend DaoXuan, naturally she was unwilling to have any contact with the FenXiang Valley people.

However, after repeated discussions between Zeng ShuShu and WenMin, they felt that it was still best for WenMin to persuade Lu XueQi, they still have to make an appearance, if not next time it would not look nice in front of the elders. Lu Xueqi hesitated a few times, and finally agreed.   

The three of them arrived at the entrance of FenXiang Valley, the three of them already had some fame, especially Lu XueQi, whose beauty was fabled to be capable of causing the fall of a city or nation, since the rise of the younger generation in Qing Yun sect, her fame and beauty had risen even more. To the FenXiang Valley, Lu XueQi meant even something more, the moment when the three of them reached the entrance, they were almost immediately recognized by FenXiang disciples.     

After the initial astonishment, there seemed to be some rousing and someone quickly ran in to report while others stepped forward to greet them, the first person in front smiled and cupped his hands in greeting, “Ah senior sister Lu arrival in FenXiang Valley is such an honour. These two must be Qing Yun sect’s senior brother and sister, please come in.”  
From the back, Zeng ShuShu glanced at WenMin and stuck his tongue out at her secretly, thinking to himself that this Lu XueQi was really famous, even the ordinary disciples could recognised her with a glance, and he and WenMin were negated to just the companions of the beauty.

They were not upset about that, Zeng Shushu had even wider smile on his face, along the way laughed and joked with the disciples, hearty laughters were heard frequently. WenMin, walking along at the back of the group, smiled and softly said to Lu XueQi who was beside her, “Junior sister, look at that Zeng junior brother, they have only just met and he is already mixing so well with them, it is really impressive.”

Lu XueQi looked at Zeng ShuShu, who already had his arm around a FenXiang Valley disciple’s shoulder, smiled faintly and said nothing.

Soon, with the lead of the FenXiang Valley disciples, they arrived at FenXiang Valley Mountain River Hall, in the hall, Yun YiLan was sitting at the head seat and waiting for them with a smile, obviously to the head of FenXiang Valley master, these three high ranking disciples from Qing Yun sect were very much different from other sects.

Even so however, Zeng ShuShu, WenMin and Lu XueQi were not those who didn’t know their limits, knowing Yun YiLan’s status, being personally received was really rather beneath him. After the three of them rushed forward to pay their respects, Zeng ShuShu said, “How could Master Yun come out personally to receive us, it should be us junior to pay our respects instead, us juniors are really overwhelmed with this honour.”

Yun YiLan smiled gently, with a kind face, laughed and replied, “What is this talk, good nephew, I have been friends with your teacher uncle Reverend DaoXuan and your father Zeng ShuChang senior brother, for more than several hundred years, there is no need to stand on ceremony. How are they?”

Zeng ShuShu respectfully replied, “Sect head teacher uncle and father are both well, both of them instructed me, that I must come and pay my respects to Yun teacher uncle when I have arrived at the southern border.”

Yun YiLan laughed and nodded, “After I left Qing Yun, several days have passed by so quickly, I really do missed those few dear friends.” As he said that, he smiled and glanced at WenMin before looking at the expressionless Lu XueQi.

Feeling his eyes on her, Lu XueQi looked up and saw Yun YiLan smiling at her, there was also someone else beside him, with a complex expression and a bitter smile, also looking at her, it was Li Xun.

Lu XueQi said nothing, bowed her head slightly.

Yun YiLan smiled, looked away and said, “Why are you all still standing, our sects are not of ordinary relations, we are family, quickly sit.”  

Zeng ShuShu and the rest asked for forgiveness and sat down.

Yun YiLan chatted with the three, and got to know that WenMin and Lu XueQi are both from Small Bamboo Valley, under ShuiYue Master’s tutelage, and so asked several more questions about ShuiYue Master, WenMin answered all questions dutifully, and after, Yun YiLan spoke with Zeng ShuShu. From the beginning to the end, Yun LiLan seemed to know Lu XueQi did not wish to speak and did not ask her any questions, Lu XueQi was also happily relaxed, sat beside quietly.

However, the other disciples in the hall, including Li Xun who was standing next to Yun YiLan, most the time, whether intentionally or unintentionally, glanced and lingered on Lu XueQi, her white as snow outfit and cold temperament, it was as if there was some strange magical effect, drawing all the light in the hall to her.  

Over the other side, Yun YiLan asked Zeng Shushu with a smile, “That day after the war, Reverend DaoXuan senior brother defeated the Beast Deity for the common people, turning the tide, doing a great service to mankind. But when I left Qing Yun, his injury was not healed yet, I wonder how is Reverend DaoXuan senior brother’s health now? He is now the leader of the Good Faction, commanding public respect and support!”

Zeng ShuShu smiled and replied, “Yun teacher uncle’s concern is appreciated, sect head teacher uncle is well, as long as the people could escape the catastrophe, a little suffering on Qing Yun sect is nothing.”
   
Yun YiLan’s smile became more kindly, picked up his tea to take a sip, then his eyes glimmered slightly, as if he coincidentally remembered something suddenly, laughed and said, “Oh yes, I have heard of a rumor recently, and since good nephew is here, just nice I can ask you about it.”

Zeng ShuShu smiled, “Yun teacher uncle please speak, disciple will tell you everything I know.”

Yun YiLan nodded with eyes glinting deep inside his eyes, and said slowly, “I heard recently by accident, that during the big battle at Qing Yun, after Reverend DaoXuan senior brother defeated the evildoer Beast Deity, there was another fight at Qing Yun and in the end, it was said that Qing Yun supreme treasure, ‘Zhu Xian Ancient Sword’ was actually broken and damaged, is there such thing?”

At that remark, an instant silence fell, in that moment not a single sound and Zeng ShuShu, WenMin and Lu XueQi stood up at the same time, their countenances changed, staring at Yun YiLan. And the other FenXiang Valley disciples, including Li Xun, looked at Yun YiLan stunned.

Only Yun YiLan himself behaved nonchalantly, as if he did not ask something that would shake the world, instead like asking something insignificant, gently lifted his tea and took another sip.

Then, he smiled kindly and gently asked the three disciples of the Qing Yun sect, "That, is it really true?"

In the Mountain River Hall, a dead silence.

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