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Chapter 183: Haze

 Chapter 183 - Haze

Qing Yun Mountain, Big Bamboo Peak.

Since the Qing Yun battle, many days had passed, the battlefield that was once the witness to monumental events, over time turned peaceful, all traces of the war, in the process of cleaning up, were quietly erased.

On that day, how many had lost their friends and loved ones, at Tong Tian Peak, piles of numerous bodies, from the summit till foot, like the said Hades prison.

Or perhaps it was luck! The least populated Big Bamboo Valley in this big battle, not one disciple died but almost all were injured, even Tian BuYi who remained in Big Bamboo Valley to guard and activate the Heaven Seal, appeared exhausted. Among the disciples, second disciple Wu DaYi, fourth disciple He DaZhi were the most seriously injured, they were still confined to bed until now but the good fortune in the midst of bad, their tendons or bones were not hurt, after Tian BuYi personally examined them, they only needed to rest and recuperate. Given time, it will not hindered their cultivation and practice.

But even so, in a battle of life and death where victory was narrowly won from the Beast Deity and did their best to save the common people from the catastrophe, everyone in Big Bamboo Valley, however looked extremely depressed. The disciples were unable to lift their spirits up after the war, even Tian BuYi kept frowning tightly too.

This day early in the morning, Tian BuYi was summoned by a disciple dispatched by Sect Head Reverend DaoXuan to visit Tong Tian Peak for discussion, after returning in the afternoon, on his round plump face, dark and heavy, his brows twisted so tightly together that it looked like it could not be apart again.

Around early afternoon, Tian BuYi ordered all Big Bamboo Valley disciples to Observed Silence Hall, even Wu DaYi and He DaZhi who were confined to bed, Tian BuYi sent men to assist them to the hall, sitting on the side.

In the usually cold and cheerless Observed Silence Hall, rarely was filled with people, Tian BuYi's wife SuRu also stood beside the seat of honour, her graceful bearing was still beautiful, just that her left hand was wrapped in white cloth bandage, obviously was also injured in the big battle.

Tian BuYi clasped his hands behind and paced a few times in the hall, glanced at the disciples who were either sitting or standing in a row, in a deep voice said, "Today I called all of you here, it's not for anything else but again for the Zhu Xian ancient sword matter."

The disciples were solemn, not many revealed shocked expressions, evidently most had expected it.

Tian BuYi met SuRu's gaze, again looked at the disciples, said, "This morning sect head reverend called me over again, only Little Bamboo Valley ShuiYue Master was there with me, as for what we talked, all of you can probably guessed. The matter of Zhu Xian ancient sword sustaining damage, no matter what, all of you have to keep it a secret, must never reveal the slightest."

The Big Bamboo Valley disciples looked at each other, finally first disciple Song Daren coughed, said, "Teacher, you know the few of us well too, such an important matter, we will definitely rather die and dare not say a single word." Speaking till here, he hesitated for a moment, looked at Tian BuYi, suppressed his voice and said, "Teacher, not including you and your wife reminding us repeatedly, just sect head reverend and Tong Tian Peak side, including this time, it is already the fourth time word was sent over. Don't tell me...don't tell me they not only don't trust us, even teacher and teacher's wife they can't trust too?"

Tian BuYi frowned, suddenly bellowed, "How dare you! What are you, actually dare to preposterously presume your sect head reverend and elders!"

Song Daren's countenance changed, lowered his head and said, "Yes, disciple is wrong."

SuRu stood aside, sighed, walked over and tried to smooth things, said, "Alright, alright, these are all what sect head reverend instructed, and the matter of Zhu Xian ancient sword being damaged, the implications are too great, it's not surprising that sect head senior brother is so uptight over it and therefore it's understandable that he enquired more than a few times and instructed more than a few times."

Tian BuYi twisted his head to the side, did not speak, Song Daren and other disciples all lowered their heads said, "Disciples know now."

SuRu looked at the disciples, softly said, "I know all of you feel rather wronged, thought that sect head reverend and the other teacher elders don't trust you all, actually when it comes down to it, all of these are due to the gravity of the matter, no choice. After that war, for a moment our Qing Yun sect among the Good Faction was unrivalled, beat down all of the other fellow sects. But all of this, putting it bluntly, is because sect head reverend at Tong Tian Peak, held Zhu Xian celestial sword in a vicious battle with the Beast Deity, defeated it in return for this. Everything our Qing Yun sect has today, the weight of this Zhu Xian celestial sword, I think all of you are as clear as me."

SuRu smiled sadly, continued, "But it is never ever expected, that this sword will..."' she paused, looked to be composing herself before she could continued, "That day outside Illusory Moon Cave, other than sect head reverend and the branch leaders teacher uncles who rushed over soon after, only Big Bamboo Valley disciples and a few Small Bamboo Valley female disciples witnessed the sword being damaged. Therefore for the sake of our sect's reputation and prestige in the world, sect head reverend has much to worry about, and so instructed more than a few times, this is also what his role should do. Don't take it to heart, only need to remember to bury this matter forever in your heart, understand?"

Song Daren and the others looked at each other, said, "Disciples understood, will solemnly obey teacher and teacher's wife's commands."

SuRu turned to Tian BuYi, Tian BuYi was frowning, the grave expression was still on his plump face, did not seem to be consoled at all by SuRu's words, only stretched out his hand and waved to his disciples, said, "What your teacher's wife said, you all better bear in mind. Alright, dismissed!"

Song Daren and the rest bowed, turned and went out together, Wu DaYi and He DaZhi had difficulty walking, Song Daren, Du BiShu and the others helped to assist, soon, the group walked out, leaving only Tian BuYi and SuRu in the hall.

SuRu looked at Tian BuYi's darkening face, slowly walked to his side, whispered, "What is it, is it that sect head senior brother is throwing his temper again?"

Tian BuYi grunted faintly, said, "I am not the only one he is throwing his temper at, even ShuiYue that kind of person, he scolded her too, much less me."

SuRu was surprised, said in astonishment, "What, sect head senior brother even scolded ShuiYue senior sister?"

A trace of impatient revealed on Tian BuYi's face, his pacing speed obviously increased, his brows frowning even tighter.

SuRu saw his expression, was quite worried but did not know what to say, could only say, "You too don't worry too much, sect head senior brother is only being anxious for the moment, therefore then..."

Tian BuYi abruptly looked up, interrupted loudly, "If he is really over-anxious, even if he scolds me a thousand and ten thousand times, I also won't care?"

SuRu lowered her head but swiftly lifted up, a shock look on his face, urgently asked, "What did you just say?"

Tian BuYi kept mumbling, pacing with quick steps in the hall, the anxiety look on his face turned more restless, indistinctly a trace of worry too.

SuRu was even more worried, anxiously said, "What do you mean exactly, quickly say it!"

Tian BuYi walked to SuRu, stopped his pacing, hesitating for a moment, in a heavy voice said, "These few days, DaoXuan senior brother summoned ShuiYue and me many times, repeatedly warned that our sect disciples must keep the secret, this originally is understandable. However the recent few times, I noticed there is increasingly something wrong with DaoXuan senior brother."

SuRu was taken aback, said, "Something wrong, what do you mean?"

Tian BuYi frowned and said, "In the past, do you recall DaoXuan senior brother scolded anyone rashly?"

SuRu was silent, after a long time shook her head said, "Sect head senior brother has deep cultivation, upright moral conduct, does not show his delight and anger, how will he scold anyone rashly."

Tian BuYi nodded, said, "That's right, it is like that, even you also know this. But after the big battle, DaoXuan senior brother's personality seemed to change greatly, getting more and more impatient, these few times he summoned us over, forget it that he warned us repeatedly, but yet each time in the beginning he would be pleasant, until the end for some reason, because of some baffling trivial matters he would get furious, or reviling, or vent his anger, anyway..."

He shook his head, slowly looked up at SuRu, hesitated then walk nearer to SuRu, suppressed his voice, "I suspect, DaoXuan senior brother in the war with the Beast Deity is already hurt by the Zhu Xian sword's spiritual vicious energy, so he then..."

SuRu's countenance changed, quickly said, "Stop." She walked with quick steps to outside of the hall, glanced left and right, after checking that there was nobody around, walked back and quietly spoke to Tian BuYi, "This is our Qing Yun sect secret, you, you mustn't say baseless thing!"

Tian BuYi sighed and said, "The implications of this matter is so great, how would I dare to spout nonsense. But in that battle, DaoXuan senior brother in order to win, disregarded my repeated dissuasion, forced opened the Heaven Seal that sealed Qing Yun seven mountain summits spiritual energies for generations, amplifying Zhu Xian ancient sword's power. Just that each time I recall the final instructions our ancestors left, stated that the Zhu Xian sword's vicious energy is too violent, the death aura defy the natural order, classified it as an ominous object, I cannot turn a blind eye and do nothing.Today when I came back, parting with ShuiYue at Tong Tian Peak, although we have never get along but when we looked at each other before parting, I felt that we both sensed something. I suppose that ShuiYue, must be thinking the same thoughts as me, however because of the gravity of this situation, both of us do not dare to say it out that's all."

SuRu was silent for a long time, her voice slightly hoarse, said, "Although it is so but in the end it is still the Zhu Xian sword. Now that Zhu Xian is already damaged, even if sect head senior brother is unfortunately hurt, but firstly there is no basis, secondly his cultivation is divine, only after time passes, most likely he will slowly come to realize it and probably will resolve it by himself!"

Tian BuYi's grave expression did not dispel the slightest, faintly said, "Hope it is so, if not, with his status in Qing Yun, in the event should something happen, the entire Qing Yun... really don't know how to resolve it."

SuRu pondered and then also sighed helplessly, dejectedly said, "Forget it, this is also not something we can control, don't worry about it too much. There is also one more thing, I have been wanting to ask, after Zhu Xian sword was damaged, how was it taken care of?"

Tian BuYi said, "I have enquired about this from a senior brother who knew about it, heard that DaoXuan senior brother reprimanded everyone not to reveal it to the outsiders, immediately picked up Zhu Xian sword which broke into two, walked into Illusory Moon Cave and forbid anyone from entering the cave. So until today, nobody knows what happened to that ancient sword? Or maybe, there is still hope of repairing it?"

Tian BuYi spoke the last sentence to himself but followed that with a shake of his head and a bitter laugh, evidently even he himself also could not believe that. After a few bitter laughs, he spoke, "We can't do anything about the sword, instead the trip to Tong Tian Peak today, other than being admonished for no reason, I also heard a strange thing."

SuRu was surprised, said, "What strange thing?"

Tian BuYi shrugged, said, "You won't believe it too, in that battle, many of our disciples and elders died, currently in Tong Tian Peak Crystal Hall a public memorial service is being conducted. But our DaoXuan senior brother, each day only shows up for a moment at Crystal Hall and then disappear, instead he goes to the Founders Ancestral Hall everyday to keep vigil, isn't that strange?"

SuRu was stunned, asked in surprise, "Keeping vigil, what happened at Founders Ancestral Hall, don't tell me a senior elder has passed away?"

Tian BuYi shook his head, sneered and said, "Where would there be any senior elder, I heard a few junior disciples secretly conversing, it was an old man who had kept watch and maintained Founders Ancestral Hall for ten over years, for some reason coincidentally died on that day. How he died, that nobody knows, only that when DaoXuan senior brother found out, for the moment was dumbstruck, the next moment instead flew into a rage, heard that for several days he was beside himself, in the end he insisted to place this old man's spiritual tablet in Founders Ancestral Hall, but the strangest thing is, the spiritual tablet that he places in the Founders Ancestral Hall, is actually blank!"

SuRu looked even more perplexed after hearing it, shook her head said, "This, this what is this exactly, don't tell me sect head senior brother is really, really somehow muddleheaded?"

Tian BuYi sneered, said, "Whether he is muddleheaded or not, nobody knows, anyway someone did dissuade him before but he refused to listen. And he did not take a good look at those disciples' spiritual tablets in Crystal Hall, instead stared in a trance at that blank spiritual tablet in Founders Ancestral Hall. If he continues like this, I think this Qing Yun sect, sooner or later something will happen, sooner or later it will be destroyed at his hands..."

SuRu was silent, after a long time, faintly sighed, looked out of the hall, saw on this quiet afternoon, the outside was empty too, only the distant clear blue sky.

The mountain breeze blew past, bamboo rustling sounds were heard indistinctly, but for some reason, it instead increased the feeling of loneliness.

Qing Yun Hill, Tong Tian Peak, Founders Ancestral Hall.

Here was as tranquil and solemn as usual, the lofty hall was still towering, surrounded still with lush green forest, as if the earth-shocking big battle that happened on Qing Yun Hill few days ago, had no impact at all here.

Other than the missing old man who swept the grounds, and on that dim altar, in a unremarkable area among the numerous tablets, an additional unfamiliar and empty spiritual tablet.

Lin JingYu silently kneeled before that empty tablet, wearing mourning clothes, before him was a fire pan, on the table two white candles were lit, three sticks of joss sticks, faint smoke curling up, gently floating, soon merging into the offering incense, inseparable.

Lin JingYu looked grieved, his lips closed tightly together, woodenly kneeling on the ground, slowly placing paper money into the fire pan, watched them slowly curled and turned yellow, gradually reducing to ashes, then slowly placing another fresh set.

In-between, he looked up frequently to that tablet. When the old man's tablet was placed into the Founders Ancestral Hall, it was Qing Yun sect head Reverend DaoXuan solitary insistence, the other branch leaders disapproved, however all along Qing Yun sect head's words carried weight, in addition after Reverend DaoXuan defeated the Beast Deity, his reputation was even more prestigious, the rest of them saw that he was determined and so followed his wishes.

Just that although this matter was unexpected for Lin JingYu, but what followed afterwards, was even more shocking, Reverend DaoXuan actually placed an empty tablet in the hall, as for that, Lin JingYu was even bold enough to ask Reverend DaoXuan who came to offer prayers.

Unexpectedly Reverend DaoXuan only indifferently asked in return, rendering Lin JingYu speechless, "Then do you know his name?"

Lin JingYu was stunned, although he had trained under this mysterious elder for ten years but as for this elder's past, he had never revealed a single detail to him, right now for Lin JingYu to say any of it, he was really helpless. But looking at Reverend DaoXuan, evidently he knew something of this old man's past but he did not intend to reveal.

Lin JingYu although had suspicions but after all he did not dare to be presumptuous before Sect head Reverend, he could only back away silently. Anyway to him, this elder although his tablet was empty but his voice and face were clearly etched in his heart, not the slightest faded.

The public memorial service at the front mountain, he had also been there to pay homage, but he still felt that, over there numerous disciples offered prayers but this elder, although had unparalleled skills but left quietly like that, no matter what he had to send him off, and Reverend DaoXuan also seemed to implicitly allowed him here, to handle the funeral arrangements for this old man. And with his position as sect head, he ignored the surprised looks from the sect disciples, frequently came to visit this elder's tablet, as such it aroused many speculations but Lin JingYu couldn't care less.

Right now, footsteps were heard behind him again, these past few days, Lin JingYu was already familiar with the footsteps sounds, once he heard it he knew it was Reverend DaoXuan.

He rose and turned, quietly said, "Sect Head."

Reverend DaoXuan slowly walked into the hall.

The hall was dimly lit, although Lin JingYu had been there all along but for the moment couldn't see DaoXuan's expression clearly, he saw DaoXuan's figure in a blur, standing in the shadows, quietly looking at that blank tablet.

For some reason, Lin JingYu watched that blurred figure in the darkness, suddenly felt something was wrong but as for what it was, he could not say it, just that an inexplicable palpitation, indistinctly felt tensed.

"He, still well?" Reverend DaoXuan finally spoke, his voice seemed rather deep, somehow hoarse, and seemed to exert force and suppressing something, very different from his usual tone.

Lin JingYu felt even more bewildered but still answered, "Disciple has been keeping vigil day and night for senior, burning incense on schedule, never once neglected."

The person in the shadows seemed to move, slowly said, "He has you who is sincerely sending him off, his teachings to you for ten years is not in vain. He he..." His laughter was cold, felt eerie in this dim hall, "Not knowing if I was dead too..."

He suddenly stopped, seemed to sense that he had said the wrong things, Lin JingYu naturally did not dare to speak further, stood there with his hands by the side.

The hall sank into silence, after a moment, Reverend DaoXuan said, "Leave me for a moment, I have some words which I need to tell him privately."

Lin JingYu was surprised, acknowledged and said, "Yes." Speaking, he strided out.

Once out of the hall, standing on the empty ground in sunlight, Lin JingYu immediately felt invigorated, he then realized, just now in that hall, he seemed to feel a pressure.

He walked one round around this empty ground, waited for about an hour but still did not see Reverend DaoXuan, while he was wondering, he turned and saw a back figure disappearing on the small path heading towards Illusory Moon Cave. Ever since the war ended, Illusory Moon Cave had again became a forbidden ground, the only one who could enter, naturally was only Reverend DaoXuan.

Lin JingYu took a few more glances, shook his head, turned and walked back to the hall. He went to that blank tablet, saw before it, three thin joss sticks were offered again, and on the fire pan, it seemed to have many more ashes, like someone had burned some paper money in it.

Lin JingYu contemplated, slowly raised his head, only saw that empty tablet was still quietly standing in that secluded corner, in silence...