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Chapter 252 - Two Field Doctors (Part One)
Downstream, he could see hills that the river winded its way through. Chen Changsheng could even make out the plain in the distance. It was the same scene that he had seen when they had arrived, but Chen Changsheng knew that something had definitely gone wrong in this world.
As Chen Changsheng was observing the garden in silence, Zhuang Huanyu prepared to leave.
"It's best not to go out on your own."
Chen Changsheng turned around and sincerely told him, "The gray strings losing their power means that something has probably gone wrong. It's best to first investigate what's going on, or else I'm worried that there will be problems."
Zhuang Huanyu did not stop. Arching his brow, he said, "The Garden of Zhou is only open for one hundred days. In here, every moment is precious. Don't tell me that you want me to waste my time for such a small matter?"
Chen Changsheng replied, "You observing the battle was also a waste of time, so what's the harm in wasting a bit more?"
"Fine". Zhuang Huanyu looked at Chen Changsheng and said, "If there really is a problem, then obviously, someone needs to go to the garden gate and see. From here to the garden gate is dozens of li, who is going?"
Precisely as Zhuang Huanyu had said, to those cultivators that entered the Garden of Zhou, every moment of time in the Garden was incomparably precious. For the people at the riverbank to make a trip from there to the garden gate and back, even if they expended true essence, it would still take at least an hour. Who would be willing to waste their time on this sort of matter?
Qi Jian seemed somewhat willing and was preparing to say something when Liang Xiaoxiao shook his head. Thinking of the heavy responsibility that their master had conferred to him, Liang Xiaoxiao thought that it was best to maintain silence.
The riverbank was very quiet, with not a single person responding. Zhuang Huanyu looked at Chen Changsheng and said derisively, "You see, not a single person is willing. Since you were the one to suggest it, why don't you go?"
Chen Changsheng did not directly answer, but he instead looked at the heavily injured Clear Void Monastery master.
Qi Jian understood his meaning and said, "I’ll keep an eye on him.”
Then, he turned to Liang Xiaoxiao and whispered a few words, his attitude very resolute.
"Great. I think you all can search in the surrounding woods, but it's best to not walk too far."
Chen Changsheng knew very well that of the disciples of the sects that entered the Garden of Zhou, the vast majority of disciples, just like the senior from the Holy Maiden Peak, had the responsibility of accompanying their juniors.
Saying these words, he began to walk downstream. Zhexiu followed behind, saying nothing.
Once he rounded the bend of the river and he made sure that no one could see him anymore, Chen Changsheng turned to Zhexiu and said, "I'm taking a trip into the woods. Wait for me here."
Zhexiu did not know what he planned to do, nor did he desire to reveal Chen Changsheng's secrets, so he indifferently nodded his head.
He entered the tranquil forest, climbed a bit of a ways up a mountain, then stopped. He took in the view of that distant plain, which seemed to burn under the sun as well as that mountain which seemed to extend into the depths of the plain. His right grasped the hilt of the dagger at his waist and he softly said, "Can you help me out by going to the gate of the garden and seeing what's going on?"
At some point, the Black Dragon had appeared on his shoulder. As it looked at that distant mountain, a strange light appeared in its eyes. It seemed somewhat perplexed, like it felt that there was something in that mountain calling to it.
"I have a premonition that the gate is closed and this garden is no longer connected to the outside world. So, whether you go or I go, they're both the same. Only you have to be careful that no one sees you."
Chen Changsheng turned his head to the Black Dragon on his shoulder and sincerely requested.
The Black Dragon withdrew its gaze from the mountain and gave Chen Changsheng two squeaks.
Somewhat vexed, Chen Changsheng answered, "I have some things that you disdain, but this dagger was given to me by my senior, so I can't give it you."
The Black Dragon gave him a cold look. The meaning was clear: you're not willing to pay up, yet you dare ask for my help?
Chen Changsheng though it over, then said, "How about this? I promise you a single request… You know, right now I'm the Principal of the Orthodox Academy. In the future, I might be able to get my hands on all sorts of rare treasures."
The Black Dragon's pupils constricted. Apparently, it was quite satisfied with this answer.
With a sudden gust of wind, the Black Dragon became a fleeting image as it pierced through the air, accompanied by an earsplitting sound that tore through the air.
Not long after, Chen Changsheng emerged from the woods and walked over to Zhexiu. With a solemn expression, he said, "The gate is closed."
Zhexiu arched his brow, but he said nothing, not even asking how Chen Changsheng had been able to know that the gate to the garden was closed in such a short time.
Returning that stretch of riverbank, the rest of the people were quite suspicious of the information that Chen Changsheng had so quickly learned. A hint of scorn could be detected in Zhuang Huanyu's indifferent appearance, while Liang Xiaoxiao directly asked, "You say it's closed, so it's closed?"
Somewhat confused, Chen Changsheng replied, "If you believe it, then believe it."
Not waiting for any more questions from Zhuang Huanyu and Liang Xiaoxiao, Chen Changsheng squatted down and resumed treating the master from the Clear Void Monastery.
Qi Jian said, "I believe it."
Liang Xiaoxiao creased his brow, like he was befuddled as to the reason why his junior disciple was so confident in this rival of their Mount Li Sword Sect.
"Second Brother said, if something happens in the Garden of Zhou, the person you could be most confident in was Chen Changsheng." Qi Jian explained.
Chen Changsheng was currently taking that master's pulse, so his finger was somewhat rigid.
When Chen Changsheng was leaving the Mausoleum of Books, Gou Hanshi had asked him to look after the Mount Li disciples. Back then, Chen Changsheng thought that Gou Hanshi had been asking out of courtesy, but he did not imagined that Gou Hanshi really meant it. For some reason, he suddenly felt that his shoulders had gotten somewhat heavier, and yet his mind became more relaxed. It was a very comfortable feeling.
After confirming that the master's wound was not about to quickly get worse, he stood up and had Zhexiu begin to prepare his medical instruments. He said to Liang Xiaoxiao and the rest, "I confirmed that the rules of the Garden of Zhou are still intact, only that there is some outside force that is causing this disturbance. In these one hundred days, the gate to the Garden of Zhou should open once more, it's just that I don't when exactly it will open."
Liang Xiaoxiao creased his brow. "What sort of outside force could disturb a miniature world?"
Qi Jian pondered this question, then answered, "Either that person is sufficiently powerful, or they have an extremely good understanding of the Garden of Zhou."
Chen Changsheng nodded his head. "I believe it to be the latter."
Ye Xiaolian opened her eyes wide and asked inquisitively, "Who could it be?"
They all looked each other in the eye, but none of them said anything.
The people that wanted to mess with these several hundred human cultivators in the Garden of Zhou was obviously the enemy of humanity.
The enemy of humanity was the demons.
"We must be careful."
Qi Jian looked downstream at the open country and anxiously said, "We have to think of a way to quickly inform everyone else."
They were not sure, or perhaps they simply could not imagine, that demons had entered the Garden of Zhou. But it was true that a change had occurred in the Garden of Zhou and the gray strings had lost their effectiveness. In order to prevent the human cultivators from attacking too fiercely and inflicting irreversible damage on fellow humans when stealing treasures, it was necessary to transmit the news that the Garden of Zhou had closed as quickly as possible.
It was just that the Garden of Zhou was truly too vast. While several hundred human cultivators did not seem like a small number, when spread out over such a large area, they seemed extremely sparse. In addition, since the vast majority of the cultivators had entered the Garden of Zhou to search for treasure, presumably many people would go into hiding. In this sort of situation, even occasionally bumping into someone would be a rare event.
The reason why this group by the river had all met was because that they were all thinking about the same thing: the Sword Pool. Whether it was the Orthodox Academy, the Mount Li Sword Sect or the Heavenly Dao Academy, they all probably had left records regarding the evidence of the Sword Pool. Thus why they had all journeyed upstream and come to this place. This was something that they all mutually understood.
As for this master and disciple from Clear Void Monastery, from the moment they entered the Garden of Zhou, they had been following the senior and junior from Holy Maiden Peak. At a certain level, it could even be called shrewd and calculating.
In the vastness of the Garden of Zhou, there were three mountain ranges that divided it into three great regions. The famous plain,whose depths no one dared to venture into,was situated in the middle. On the edge of the mountain range, which was also the edge of the Garden of Zhou, were several gardens. Those gardens were rumored to be where Zhou Dufu used to live in the past, thus making them the place most likely to hold hidden treasure. Thus, when cultivators entered the Garden of Zhou, the majority of them would first search that region.
Liang Xiaoxiao said to Qi Jian, "Those places are too far and going there is too time-consuming."
Before he had finished his sentence, Qi Jian understood his meaning. Truthfully, everyone there had probably realized his meaning.
Apparently, the Mount Li Sword Sect had extremely strong information on the whereabouts of the Sword Pool, or perhaps over the past few decades, the elders of Mount Li had obtained some fruits from their analysis. So of course, Liang Xiaoxiao and Qi Jian were in a hurry to leave.
In the Mausoleum of Books, Chen Changsheng would frequently treat Zhexiu, so Zhexiu was well-acquainted with the contents of that box. It didn't take long for Zhexiu to prepare all the items that Chen Changsheng needed.
Chen Changsheng paid no attention to what the two disciples from the Mount Li Sword Sect were thinking about. Taking the tools, he squatted on the floor and began to treat the master from the Clear Void Monastery.
The application of the copper needles had already stopped the bleeding. What he was doing now was sewing up the wound.
Ye Xiaolian glanced over, and she could not help but turn pale at the sight.
Even that young daoist from the Clear Void Monastery, who was holding his master's hand, could not help but tremble.
As cultivators, whether it was exchanging pointers indoors or engaging in battles in the world outside, they had all seen blood before. But what they rarely saw was a metal needle weaving through the flesh of a human.
Once he had finished sewing up the wound, he packed it tightly with a clean cloth. Chen Changsheng had not yet finished his treatment, as he now began to use the copper needles to touch the meridians around the chest that had been damaged by Liang Xiaoxiao.
At this scene, everyone present had somewhat strange expressions, especially Senior Tong from Holy Maiden Peak.
Holy Maiden Peak's South Stream Temple as well as the capital's Thirteen Divisions of Radiant Green were the two sects most skilled in medical treatment. A thousand years ago, amidst the fierce war between the humans and demons, one would always see the women garbed in white. In that war, they played an extremely vital role.
The senior had not imagined that today in the Garden of Zhou, she would be able to witness such an exquisite display of medical expertise. In addition, it was very clear that Chen Changsheng had not been trained in the Sacred Light technique of the Orthodoxy.
The riverbank was quiet, with only the sound of the water flowing by and the occasional muffled hum from the master from the Clear Void Monastery.
Everyone looked at Chen Changsheng, not daring to disturb him.
Zhuang Huanyu did not enjoy this sort of atmosphere. Slightly arching his brows, he nodded at Liang Xiaoxiao then he began walking upstream.
Chen Changsheng spied this out of the corner of his eye, but he did not attempt to dissuade him as he had done before.
After not much time had passed, he confirmed that the master from Clear Void Monastery was no longer in any danger. He stood and looked up at Qi Jian and said, "I also have to go. I have to find other people. Just like you, I worry that the others don't know that the Garden of Zhou has closed. If a dispute were to occur, if they begin to fight, then it is certain that no one will back down. The ferocity of their battle will bring about problems, and people might even die."
Thinking that these words were directed at him, Liang Xiaoxiao's face subtly changed. He didn't understand that this was just Chen Changsheng delivering his assessment of the situation.
Qi Jian replied somewhat awkwardly, "We also have to leave for a reason."
"I understand." He turned to the pair from Holy Maiden Peak and asked, "Could I trouble you two to temporarily watch over them for a while? I should be able to get back before midnight."
Senior Tong was somewhat at a loss. She did not imagined that he would put forth such a request. After thinking it over, she agreed.
Taking care of their ambushers, if she had not been a disciple of Holy Maiden Peak, she really would not have accepted this task.
Chen Changsheng gave them a grateful smile, then he and Zhexiu once again proceeded downstream.
The sun shined brightly, dispelling some of the eeriness of the woods.
In the southeastern part of the Garden of Zhou, there was a garden that was constructed against the side of a mountain. According to the legends, this place was where Zhou Dufu, in his middle years, enjoyed listening to the song of birds, thus he built this garden. It was given the name 'Mountainside Whispering Wood'.
The Mountainside Whispering Wood was not the garden that was at the entrance to the Garden of Zhou, but it was the closest.
Because every cultivator had to pass through that garden at the entrance when they entered the Garden of Zhou, the place had long been picked clean. Since there was nothing to find in that garden for later cultivators, the vast majority of this year's cultivators would first visit the Mountainside Whispering Wood garden.
The birds happily sang out amidst the mountains, while the water noiselessly flowed through the garden. As for the viewing galleries, the overhanging eaves, the whitewashed walls and windows; in accordance with the iron law set down by the human cultivating world, besides magical artifacts and legacies, nothing else in the Garden of Zhou was to be touched. So even after the passage of several hundred years, this place still retained the atmosphere of seven parts serenity and nine parts nobility of the past.
Only now in a room in the depths of the garden, there was only fear and unease. The serenity and nobility had long been replaced by the scent of blood which rushed off into the unknown.
Around a dozen cultivators surrounded the scene and their faces were extremely unsightly.
A cultivator was collapsed on the floor. His abdomen had been run through by a sword, leaving a gaping wound around five fingers wide. His left hand was placed on the wound, attempting to hold it closed. Yet it could nothing to stop the blood from flowing. His intestines seemed to be on the verge of coming out. As he gasped his dying breaths, the gray string that he had grasped in his right hand had burned away long ago, leaving only ash.
The other cultivator’s face was deathly pale as he continuously said, "I didn't do it on purpose, at most, I thought that my ‘Perching Tong’ move would just injure him! How was I to know that his true Qi would freeze and he would be unable to lift his sword? I really didn't do it on purpose, and anyway… this gray string doesn't work!"
The severely injured cultivator's stomach had been run through and his blood flowed like water. It was easy to see that he was about to die. The faces of the surrounding cultivators grew increasingly unsightly. The thing that made them the most concerned was, why had the gray string lost its effectiveness. Was the only thing that all of these people could do was watch this person die?
At this moment, several maidens dressed in ceremonial white arrived at the Mountainside Whispering Wood, and the garden was filled with the sounds of respect and pleasant surprise.
One of the maidens did not enter the room. She stood on the gallery bridge, looking at the distant sun which seemed to be gradually falling towards the plain. In her silence, it seemed that she had realized something.