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Chapter 249 - Going Upstream… (Part One)
The Mount Li's Myriad Sword Array once again moved into action. In the light of sun, the innumerable sword glows gleamed like liquid gold.
With a bright cry, the white crane departed from Holy Maiden Peak.
In the Imperial Palace, on the Dew Platform, the Divine Empress's figure was nowhere to be seen.
In the Li Palace, a bell suddenly rang out without any warning. Although it did not seem urgent, it nevertheless rang out without end, like it would never come to a stop.
In that grass hut outside Hanqiu City, Zhu Luo suddenly opened his eyes. His eyes only contained vigilance and surprise, without a trace of intoxication.
In the carriage, Mei Lisha also opened his eyes. Within his turbid eyes, an indescribable expression flashed.
Neither of them knew what was happening in the distant north outside of Xuelao City, nor did they know about the shaking of Mount Li or the ringing of the Li Palace's bell at that moment. However, in that previous moment, they had sensed an extremely shocking matter… the Garden of Zhou had just closed.
The forest was thrown into chaos. The elder of the Longevity Sect, the priests of the Orthodoxy, and all the teachers from the various sects and academies hurried towards the impenetrable fog.
The lightning still flashed through the fog like snakes, but the rainbow that had opened a path through the fog this morning had at some point disappeared. The path was once more occupied by the fog.
The rainbow was still there, but its position was constantly changed, so it was impossible for it properly open the path. All it could do was cause the fog to roll about.
Zhu Luo and Mei Lisha stood in front, their expressions solemn as they viewed the scene before them. With the strength of their eyes, they could faintly see that winding path. They confirmed that the path had not completely disappeared, but it had been disturbed by some force so that it was temporarily impossible to use.
"The miniature world naturally possesses its own rules for moving within it. Unless one possesses them, it is impossible to change them."
Mei Lisha slowly continued, "Unless Zhou Dufu himself came back to life, no one can cause the Garden of Zhou to close prematurely. Presumably after a few days, the door to the garden will open once again."
Despite these words, the atmosphere in the forest did not grow any more relaxed.
Just who could affect the opening of the Garden of Zhou? What did that person plan to do?
Zhu Luo and Mei Lisha did not need to think. They knew that it was definitely the work of the Demons.
They could even directly think of the name of the perpetrator… Black Robe.
The more Mei Lisha thought about it, the more concerned he became.
When would the door to the Garden of Zhou open once more?
Within those days, what sort of things will be happening in the Garden?
What would those people find?
What would happen between them?
Was there anyone that could control the situation?
Zhu Luo suddenly spoke. "She went in."
After a moment of silence, Mei Lisha responded, "We'll have to see what he does."
The people inside the Garden of Zhou had not realized what was happening outside.
With Zhexiu holding the umbrella, Chen Changsheng and Zhexiu walked through the light rain.
Taking leave of the quiet garden with the small bridge, they had arrived near a lush and verdant mountain.
Standing on a cliff and gazing at the forest below him that was wet with rain, then looking off towards that distant plain bathed in the sunlight, Chen Changsheng's mind felt free.
The Garden of Zhou was not a garden. It was a true miniature world.
Zhou Dufu was truly worthy of his reputation as the strongest cultivator of the continent in the past one thousand years. This miniature world that he had left behind was many times larger than the Pope's Green Leaf world.
Following the mountain path, they entered the forest. Exiting the forest, the pair arrived near a river. Off in the distance, they could see that the plain was still shimmering in the sunlight, yet they had drawn no closer to it.
Chen Changsheng examined the flowing water bottle and he realized it had taken an hour for them to walk there. Comparing that to the time he kept in his head, he confirmed that time had not flown any faster or slower.
"I heard that on those plains, one month inside is equivalent to one day outside the garden." Zhexiu continued, "Only it's been more than a hundred years, yet no one that has ever entered the Garden of Zhou has been able to penetrate the depths of those plains. Nobody knows if Zhou Dufu's legacy lies within. The only thing that is known is that the plain conceals many dangers, as well as extraordinarily fierce monsters.
Chen Changsheng had studied the records related to this matter in the Daoist Canon, so when he heard the word ’monster’, he subconsciously glanced at Zhexiu.
As a child, the wolf youth had grown up in the snowy plains. He should be an expert in hunting monsters.
The sort of monsters that can live and reproduce in that plain aren't something that an Ethereal Opening cultivator can oppose."
Zhexiu expressionlessly said, "So don't think about it too much."
Seeing that distant plain, there was no way that Chen Changsheng could not think about it. He subconsciously rubbed the hilt of his dagger.
Perhaps because the sound of the river was quite loud, or because it was only in his sea of consciousness, Zhexiu did not hear the two feeble squeaks that came from the dagger.
"Where are we going?"
The Garden of Zhou had five regions. It seemed to be calmness from a distance, but actually extremely treacherous plain. Other than the grassland, the other four regions had been, for the most, already completely explored by human cultivators and demons several hundred years ago. The remnants of many of the continent's heaven-shaking experts had been recovered and their legacies had been restored. Many magical artifacts also saw the light of day once again. After the passage of several hundred years, no one knew what was left in the Garden of Zhou, but all the schools and sects agreed, for the current generation to obtain any sort of legacy or magical artifact, they would have to work all the harder and risk all the more than the previous generations of cultivators.
Chen Changsheng thought it over and said, "Is there any place that you want to go and see?"
When he had been viewing monoliths in the Mausoleum of Books, he had already thought of what he wanted to see when he entered the Garden of Zhou.
He would see some sights, and search for some artifacts. After that night, he had amended his travel plans somewhat, but he had absolutely left that plain for last.
Zhexiu replied, "I want to go to the Sword Pool."
Then he added, "If the Sword Pool is real that is."
Chen Changsheng replied, "The Sword Pool is only something spoken of in tales, but no one has ever seen it… if over the past several hundred years, our seniors couldn't find it, I don't think that we'll be able to."
"There are no swords." Zhexiu's seriously said as he looked at Chen Changsheng.
Chen Changsheng pondered the matter for awhile. It was true that over all these centuries, the Garden of Zhou had opened so many times and so many cultivators had entered to explore and they found many magical artifacts, treasures and precious legacies, and yet no one had found any swords. Whether it was the mountain range where wind angrily howled through the pines or the lakeside where the bluish waves were like mirrors, not a single sword had been found.
Where did the sword of all those experts who had fallen at Zhou Dufu's hand go?
The tales of the Sword Pool had a very reasonable basis.
"Even if we're very lucky and do actually find the Sword Pool, all those swords are most definitely broken and devoid of spirit. It would be better to go searching in those caves in the mountains. We might even find a convenient magical artifact."
"I don't have a sword."
Zhexiu seriously told him, "If it's possible, I want to find a sword that I can use. And anyway, I don't like magical artifacts."
Only then did Chen Changsheng realize that Zhexiu had only ever used his hands to fight. After thinking about it for a while, he said, "I remember reading in the notes of our predecessors that if you follow this river upstream, around a dozen li up on the right-hand side is a mountain stream. Someone had once found a scabbard at the bottom of this stream. If the Sword Pool truly exists in the Garden of Zhou, then it should be in that vicinity."
For some reason, the rain stopped.
Chen Changsheng put away the umbrella, then he and Zhexiu began to make their way upstream.
They did not walk far before they suddenly began to hear the clashing of swords up ahead.
As they rounded the beach, they saw a girl leaning against a tree, her left shoulder completely stained with blood. It was the senior from Holy Maiden Peak that had journeyed together with Chen Changsheng from the capital.
That girl called Ye Xiaolian stood guard by her side, her sword bared and her face filled with fury.