Zhu Xian - Chapter 198
Chapter 198 - Old Haunts
Qing Yun Hill, TongTian Peak, Founders Ancestral Hall.
The lush green trees in the grove were the same as before, dense and full of vitality, the light morning mist drifted slowly across the forest, branches and tree leaves everywhere, above the wild flowers petals in the grasses, crystal dewdrops trembled gently in the breeze. In the distance, melodious and beautiful birdsong travelled out from the depths of the jungle, hearing it, it cleared one's body and heart, like being in paradise.
In this secular scenic place, Taoism-like celestial atmosphere, a short and stout figure slowly appeared on the small path in the forest, it was Tian BuYi.
The surrounding scenery seemed somewhat in disharmony to Tian BuYi's grave expression, his eyes staring straight ahead, his face reflecting his heavy heart. At this moment, there was not a single soul beside him, and that was a little strange, although Tian BuYi as Big Bamboo Valley leader, was also one of the very important figures of Qing Yun sect, but visiting TongTian Peak's sacred Founders Ancestral Hall privately given his status, it was also clearly strange.
Along the mountain road, there were no Qing Yun disciples keeping watch, there was only silence along the way. Amongst the birdsong in the light wind, Tian BuYi passed through that famous trifurcated path, gradually saw the majestic cornices deep in the forest.
A light bell sounded from an unknown location, from the direction of the mountain ahead, echoing around Qing Yun Hill.
That hollow fading echo made Tian BuYi stopped in his tracks, turned back and surveyed the scene.
The firmament, the sky was also limitless blue!
Thousands and thousands of years, as if it had never changed.
Tian BuYi's face gradually turned solemn, silently stood silent for a while, and then again turning back and continued on his journey to Founders Ancestral Hall once more.
The massive stone steps revealed in front of him, the Founders Ancestral Hall was still the same, like a giant sleeping gently in the arms of the forest. The hall's big doors remained opened as before, the interior still dusky, even the specks of light emanating from the joss sticks and candles seemed to also be in a deep sleep, everything, was so peaceful.
Only that, outside this Founders Ancestral Hall, at the bottom of the steps, stood a young man with his back to Tian BuYi. Tian BuYi frowned and walked over.
Hearing the footsteps, the young man was surprised. He was not expecting anyone to visit at this time. He turned around quickly.
Tian BuYi came face to face with the young man, and they were both shocked. That young man was Lin JingYu.
Tian BuYi immediately called to mind the previous conversations he heard from his disciples that Lin JingYu had been keeping watch here in Founders Ancestral Hall. It was said that he was keeping vigil for someone, but as to who that ’’someone’’ was, no one seemed to know. However, Tian BuYi was not in the mood at present to ponder over this. The two of them were not on good terms, and as they looked at each other, they did not speak immediately, the atmosphere became a little awkward.
In the end Lin JingYu coughed once and asked in a low voice, ’’Tian teacher uncle, why are you here at such an early hour?’’
Tian BuYi glanced at him before moving his gaze to the darkness of the Founders Ancestral Hall, and said, ’’I am here looking for someone. What are you doing standing outside the hall so early in the morning?’’
Lin JingYu's expression changed slightly, and a trace of bitter smile seemed to flit across his face. He glanced at the Founders Ancestral Hall, and did not answer.
Tian BuYi asked lightly, ’’Is there someone inside, is it sect head senior brother?’’
Lin JingYu nodded and said, ’’Yes, sect head teacher uncle is in the main hall... He ordered me to wait outside, without his call, not a single TongTian Peak disciple is allowed to enter.’’
Tian BuYi snorted and asked coldly, ’’I remember you are still Long Shou Valley branch's disciple, why did you come over to TongTian Peak here and instead look after the branch for DaoXuan senior brother?’’
Lin JingYu turned white, his head hung low and did not speak.
Tian BuYi ignored him, lifted his leg and strided, stepped up the stairs.
Lin JingYu was surprised, hurried forward and said, ’’Tian teacher uncle, what are you doing?’’
Tian BuYi said indifferently, ’’I came here, naturally is to enter. I am looking to discuss some things with sect head senior brother.’’
Lin JingYu frowned and said, ’’Tian teacher uncle, sect head teacher uncle said that he did not want to see anyone, without his permission, no one from TongTian Peak...’’
’’I am not a disciple of TongTian Peak!’’ Tian BuYi interrupted Lin JingYu coldly.
Lin JingYu stopped, momentarily made speechless by Tian BuYi.
Tian BuYi said nothing more, walked up the stone steps and towards the hall.
Lin JingYu jerked, as if he still wanted to block Tian BuYi but then he stopped, stared at that short and stout figure, his eyes glimmering.
Stepping over the high threshold, a faint smell of sandalwood enveloped, the huge shadows from deep inside the hall effusing out, lightly blocking the bright light from entering Founders Ancestral Hall.
Tian BuYi stood in place for a moment before making his way slowly into the depths of the hall. His footsteps unhurried, his expression slowly changing.
Immense red painted pillars scattered throughout the hall, supporting the majestic building. The yellow curtains hanging down from the ceiling draped quietly beside the pillars, many of which looked old and worn, looking at it, that fading yellow revealed out a feeling of vicissitudes of life.
It was as if the past was frozen here.
The hall was very quiet, there was almost no sound except for Tian BuYi's footsteps reverberating into the shadows.
Behind the huge altar table in the distance, numerous light specks from the candles burned silently, like many strange and mysterious eyes watching the figure walking in the shadows of the hall.
Turning past the thickest pillar in the hall, walking past the hanging yellow banners, Tian BuYi finally stopped.
There was an open space in front of him, with three rows of praying mats on the ground, each row seven mats, in the middle mat of the first row, a familiar figure sat, unmoving. In front of the mat, a massive altar table stood with a spread of offerings of fruits. In the middle, a big incense pot, strangely, there was only three joss sticks, their smoke rising in slow spirals.
Through the smoke surrounding the table, in the heavy darkness behind the table, the countless spiritual tablets could be vaguely seen, each of which seemed to have writings, properly written on the tablets in the shadows.
Tian BuYi's expression, slowly became heavy with a trace of respectfulness, facing the ancestors of Qing Yun sect, his eyes first rested for a moment at that once familiar back figure, and then quietly walked up.
Reverend Dao Xuan's body, slightly moved, but did not look back.
Tian BuYi slowly walked to the altar table, looked at the numerous tablets shrouded in the shadows, inhaled deeply, and then from the incense pack next to the incense burner, took out three thin incenses out, carefully lighted them up from candle beside, stepped back, standing three chi before the altar, respectfully held the incenses and bowed three times.
Where Reverend DaoXuan sat, was only six chi from the altar, but that faint light ahead, seemed unable to illuminate where he was. In the dim shadows, he slowly looked up, Tian BuYi's figure, stood back facing him.
In that darkness, suddenly, like the ghost fires of the netherworld, [wu] leapt up, two bright glints instantly shone. And almost at the same time, like an invisible ghost wail sweeping through the hall, all of the incenses and candles, other than Tian BuYi's ones, all brightened up.
Tian BuYi right now had finished his prayers, stepped up and was about to insert the sticks into the burner but his body suddenly stopped, even the hand holding the incense, also paused in the air.
Inside the hall, instantly fell into a dead silence, two figures, one standing one sitting, as if frozen, motionless. The distant yellow curtains, for some reason, as if a breeze was blowing past the hall, gently fluttered a few times, and slowly stopped.
Outside the hall, Lin JingYu was frowning and pondering but suddenly sensing something, abruptly looked up, looked over at the silent and dim hall, a faint surprise on his face.
In the confusion, the hall which had been in slumber, like a strange beast being awaken, coldly opened its eyes.
And for an unknown amount of time, the mysterious ghost fires in Reverend DaoXuan's eyes suddenly disappeared, it appeared and disappeared suddenly. Following which the eyes slowly closed, the malevolent atmosphere immediately also died down, the surrounding fires, gradually lost their brightness, resumed their original faint lights.
The incenses in Tian BuYi's hands continued to burn with its smoke rising in spirals, the three lit thin incenses were faintly discernible in the dark. Just that when the thin sticks trembled, white ash like white cotton fell softly onto Tian BuYi's hand.
Tian BuYi appeared indifferent, glanced coldly at the ashes on the back of his hand, stood silently for a moment, shook his hand gently to get rid of the ash, and then stepped forward, respectfully inserted his three incense sticks in the incense burner.
The six fragrant incense sticks, burned in the incense burner at the same time, light smoke gently drifted, raising in slow spirals.
Tian BuYi said nothing, bowed three times facing the memorial tablet, paying his respects and then, he turned slowly to face the figure sitting upright on the praying mat.
’’Reverend DaoXuan senior brother,’’ he stared deeply at that man, for some reason, his eyes had surprise, grief and indistinct anguish, said slowly, ’’We meet again!’’
Most of Reverend DaoXuan's face was shrouded in the darkness and was indistinct. At Tian BuYi's words however, he seemed to have turned a deaf ear and had no reaction, still sitting quietly.
Tian BuYi stood there and looked at him for short while, said nothing, but his expression turned increasingly heavy. The corner of his mouth twitched, he strided, towards Reverend DaoXuan's, at a prayer mat less than three chi away and also sat down.
In the hall, silence.
Southern border, ten thousands great mountains, the black-burnt mountain summit.
Along the journey, the sinister ghostly wails became increasingly unnerving, the Yin wind that came from nowhere was also howling incessantly and felt like knives on the skin. If it wasn't because Ghost Li and Jin PingEr were both highly skilled, just these wailing and bone-chilling winds would have driven them mad.
The surrounding sinister atmosphere intensified, the two of them began to take more precautions. However, when they walked to the valley they could see in the distance the entrance to the Subdue Devil Ancient Cave, and did not encountered any danger or attack. This land full of wild countrysides like a ghost town, was actually deafeningly silent, not only there wasn't any ferocious demon beasts, there was not even a trace of the poisonous insects that were rampant when they entered Ten Thousands Great Mountains.
This sinister area seemed to be unexpectedly the safest place within the inhospitable Ten Thousands Great Mountains...
Ghost Li and Jin PingEr stood above a small hill, surveying into the distance that ancient cave, indistinctly they could see, that stone statue erected outside the entrance.
The two of them had their eyebrows pinched, they had finally arrived, but the serenity brought them greater worry.
Jin PingEr pointed towards the cave and said, ’’That is the Subdue Devil Ancient Cave. When I pursued that black clothed man to here, I saw it with my own eyes the resurrection of the Beast Deity in this cave.’’
Ghost Li nodded slightly, then looked around the cave surroundings, but except for the bottomless dark hole, there was nothing but sheer cliffs and strange savage rocks, and several zhangs high up above the entrance, tightly pressing against the stone walls, there was a thick layer of black cloud, slowly drifting in midair like a water cloud. Looking at that concentrated black colour, it was clear without asking, it must be highly toxic. Looking with a quick glance, there was nowhere an ordinary person could go, it was a dead trap.
Pulling his gaze back, Ghost Li muttered to himself for a moment before saying, ’’Shall we enter?’’
Jin PingEr hesitated slightly for a moment, but in the end she nodded her head and said, ’’Forget it, we've come all the way here, how could we retreat, let's go!’’
Ghost Li glanced at her, and saw Jin PingEr looking a little peculiar and slightly pale. It was clear that she had some apprehensions about that mysterious cave. In fact, she was not alone, even the monkey Xiao Hui on Ghost Li's shoulder seemed especially quiet, his usual temperament gone.
As if she had felt it, Jin PingEr turned towards Ghost Li and suddenly smiled, revealing beautiful white teeth, and said, ’’I'm alright, let's go over!’’
Ghost Li nodded, and headed in first. Jin PingEr followed behind, steadily towards that Subdue Devil Ancient Cave.
The crunching sound of the footsteps on hard scorched black rocks were lost in the incessant whistling Yin wind. As they got closer to the ancient cave, the bitingly cold wind became stronger, the sinister chill in the wind, became colder.
By now, the two of them have discovered that the bone chilling Yin wind blowing across the land originated from that ancient cave.
As they got closer to the cave, the surrounding light seemed to gradually dim, and more and more of the light were blocked by the black cloud above the Subdue Devil Ancient Cave, as if this place did not permit light to enter.
And the old stone statue standing at the cave entrance, facing the depths of the cave, finally became distinct to their eyes.
Although this was not a very long road, but to the two of them it seemed like they had been walking for a long time. When they finally stood at the entrance of the Subdue Devil Ancient Cave, the sky had turned completely dark, and the warm sunlight shining on them had disappeared above the black cloud.
Ghost Li turned slowly to the entrance, stood before the stone statue of a woman's likeness.
The dusky light illuminating her body...
The wind and frost of the last thousands and thousands of years, slowly worn the initial soft and beautiful gloss away, to coarse, in the time that brought great changes to the world, how many eyes, once like this quietly watched your face.
Time moved forward like the torrential water in a long river, never once stopping for anything, the first emotions, the first memory, those countless bits and traces that once deeply engraved in your heart, turned out, in the end it would still be forgotten by humans.
Leaving only the least bit trace of the legendary said, after the long passage of time, carelessly mentioned by the later generations.
The beauty you once had, the former heroics you once did, before time, turned to ashes.
The icy wind blew past the clothes and onto the body, the gazes within these thousands and thousands of years, maybe, in the end it could not be compared to, a moment of regret!
A soft hand gently pat his shoulder, the monkey Xiao Hui's [zhi zhi] cries, rang in his ears, startled, Ghost Li jerked and took a step back and then snapping alert, he realised he had unintentionally lost himself while gazing at the female statue.
With that thought, Ghost Li's back felt like it was pricked with a needle, his mind astonished. With his current level of skills, his will was resolute, and yet when he faced this LingLong witch stone statue, he had unconsciously fell to the power contained in the stone, that was no small feat.
Ghost Li composed himself, and turned his head to look at Jin PingEr, if it wasn't for Jin PingEr's reminder, he wouldn't know how long he would still be mesmerized. But how did Jin PingEr guard against this statue? Could it be that this lady had some unexpected and hidden strength?
Ghost Li turned to look, and couldn't help but be startled. Even though Jin PingEr was standing beside him and had reached out to pat his shoulder, her body was in the opposite direction, facing the entrance of the cave with her back to the status, completely ignoring the face of the statue.
Ghost Li frowned and asked, ’’What are you doing?’’
Jin PingEr smiled and said, ’’This stone statue is very powerful, didn't I tell you before?’’
Ghost Li frowned even more, grunted and took a deep breath. At this time the Xiao Hui that was crouching on his shoulder seemed to become impatient, his tail swinging. He jumped off from Ghost Li's shoulder suddenly and jumped onto the statue, and climbing a few times, finally sat down on the head of the stone statue.
Ghost Li's countenance changed, and he said sternly, ’’Xiao Hui, come here.’’
The monkey looked at Ghost Li, scratched his head and [zhi zhi] twice, but in the end jumped back on Ghost Li's shoulder.
Jin PingEr stood on the side chuckling, ’’Why are you scaring the monkey for, he was just playful...’’
Jin PingEr trailed off, astonished, staring at Ghost Li's solemn expression, he straightened his clothes and respectfully bowed to the stone statue.
Jin PingEr asked in surprise, ’’What are you doing now?’’
Ghost Li looked indifferent, did not answer, merely gazing deeply at the stone statue and cupped his hands together, before turning and said blandly, ’’Nothing, let's go in!’’
The deep and serene ancient cave, gusts of Yin wind, was just before them.
Jin PingEr followed behind Ghost Li, her gaze on the obviously bored monkey Xiao Hui, and then on Ghost Li and said, ’’Why did you pay respects to the stone statue?’’
Ghost Li paused in his steps, and then continued walking. He said calmly, ’’The demeanour of the predecessor, although had long disappeared but in the people's hearts, there is always something worthy of respect.’’
Jin PingEr frowned, not really understanding Ghost Li's riddle and was about to ask further, but Ghost Li had approached close to the entrance.
Jin PingEr caught up quickly, frowning, ’’Hey, I'm talking to you! Why are you walking so fast? I have not told you yet, when I was here the last time, there was a ferocious spirit. Even though most likely it would be killed by that Beast Deity, but this cave entrance most likely...’’
At this, Jin PingEr's voice abruptly died, and at the same time, Ghost Li's footsteps stopped.
The two of them stood several chi away from the entrance of the Subdue Devil Ancient Cave, staring at the sinister dark cave, a white cold mist slowly emerged, in the bitingly strong cold Yin wind, it did not showed signs of dissipating.
As they watched that white cold mist gathering bigger and bigger, the volume getting bigger, and finally formed, an enormous figure faintly discernable in the white cold mist. It roared, thundering and blending in with the whistling of the Yin wind, becoming more powerful, like a ferocious celestial deity.
Jin PingEr watched the white cold mist, sighed and shook her head, ’’Alright, now you see it, there's a very powerful and bad tempered ferocious spirit!’’