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Chapter 255 - The Sob of the Zither Causes a Man to Die
As she watched the young lady disappear into the dark forest, Ye Xiaolian raised her head in thought. After a while, she could no longer suppress the question in her mind. Quietly, she asked, "Just who does Senior Xu like?"
Senior Tong smiled back at her. "If it were you, who would you pick?"
"If it were like before, of course I would pick Senior Qiushan, but now..." Ye Xiaolian answered very sincerely, then felt it difficult to continue for some reason.
Chen Changsheng was oblivious to the fact that his existence had delivered such a blow to this girl's perspective on life and love. Zhexiu and he were walking amongst the mountains and forests in the night, searching for cultivators that had been injured in battle and treating their injuries. Although Chen Changsheng had not expressed it at any particular place, Zhexiu had realized that whenever they met a person that Xu Yourong had already treated, Chen Changsheng would clearly spend an extra amount of time and effort on the treatment. Similarly, that young lady was also walking in the darkness in search of people to heal. Similarly, for inexplicable reasons, whenever she found someone that Chen Changsheng had treated, she would particularly become uneasy and stay for a longer time.
Cloaked in the darkness, the Garden of Zhou was very quiet. The dome of the night contained no stars, but the glimmers of fire helped to somewhat disperse the monotony of the night. The young man and young lady moved between those earthbound stars. Perhaps it was because they were purposely avoiding each other, or perhaps because of the arrangement of fate, they never met each other despite encountering many people that the other had treated.
They were in different places, doing different things. They never saw each other, but they knew who the other person was. The bandage wrapped around a wounded cultivator's leg, the true essence left behind in the meridians, the sacred Qi that hung around the edge of the wound— they were like letters or even simple notes that passedon a message, telling the other side what had been done. There was also faintly a sense of comparing strengths, of betting against each other.
Similarly, neither of them knew the reason why.
At midnight, Chen Changsheng returned to the riverbank in accordance with his promise. Seeing the sleeping master from the Clear Void Monastery, he confirmed that she had been through here. After a moment of silence, he felt a faint sense of admiration. He had no way of taking care of those internal wounds. He could only support the wounded and let them slowly recover. There was truly no comparison with her methods.
Only, tonight he had treated about twenty or so people. She had probably treated about the same, or even more. Whether it was the Orthodoxy's Sacred Light technique or the methods of the Holy Maiden Peak, they were both extremely taxing on the true essence. To keep using her strength unsparingly to heal person after person, would she be able to hold on?
The human cultivators had entered the Garden of Zhou to seize treasures. In accordance with the rules set down by the Saints, they were all completely unscrupulous. So even though it was just the first day, there had already been many fights. Cruel battles brought about bitter consequences. The fact that the gray strings had ceased to function had made those injured cultivators all the more afraid. Fortunately, she and Chen Changsheng, as well as several maidens from the Thirteen Divisions of Radiant Green, had treated dozens of people. At the very least, no one had died for the time being. As there were no casualties, the mood amongst the cultivators could still be described as calm. However, the desire for revenge was impossible to disperse, especially against the backdrop of the north versus the south. At any point, the situation could be thrown into chaos.
The first night after entering the Garden of Zhou was slowly passed in this nervous and silent atmosphere.
The dim light of dawn illuminated the plain and the mountain range that extended into its depth.
The early morning in the Garden of Zhou was no different from the outside. The rising and setting sun was also no different. Under the red warmth of the morning light, the mountain range seemed like the proud upturned head of a great dragon.
This place was the legendary Sunset Valley.
At the peak of Sunset Valley, an old man faced the morning sun as he played a zither. The sound of the zither was like sobbing, as if it were mourning for something.
Behind the zither-playing old man, a girl of ten or so years sat with her hands wrapped around her legs. She gazed vacantly at the newly born, morning sun.
She truly was gazing vacantly. Her indifferent countenance held no trace of emotion. She seemed somewhat pitiful. Regardless of how gentle the morning light was, it was still harsh on the eyes. However, what was even more miraculous was that she stared with her eyes wide open directly at the sun. Not to even mention any pain or aching, she did not even squint her eyes.
"Chen Changsheng's skill in medicine is truly exquisite. We don't even need to discuss Xu Yourong. In addition, their reaction was too fast. Last night, the Garden of Zhou failed to fall into chaos."
The zither-playing old man walked over to the girl's side and said, "My lady, the little wolf and Chen Changsheng are together right now. Let's go and kill them first."
The old man said this very matter-of-factly, as if to signify that he would certainly be able to kill Chen Changsheng and Zhexiu if he wanted to.
Only Ethereal Opening cultivators could enter the Garden of Zhou. In other words, no matter how strong this old man was, he could not be more than the peak level of Ethereal Opening. Chen Changsheng was already at the upper level of Ethereal Opening. Although Zhexiu was only at the initial stage, his astonishing bloodline talent and the battle prowess he honed on the snowy plains meant that his true power was not far from the upper level. So where did this old man's confidence come from?
The little girl continued to wrap her arms around her legs and stare vacantly at the red light of the morning sun. She did not give any sort of reply to the question that came from the zither-playing old man.
Her lack of response was an indication of her disapproval. Silence had never signified a tacit agreement. Whenever the lady acted, it was always in a very upfront fashion. The old man understood this point very well and said admonishingly, "In accordance with the military advisor's plan, we were to avail ourselves of the chaos in the garden last night to kill the human cultivators. Since no chaos occurred, we should be moving on to the next stage of the plan."
The girl's expression was cold and her gaze seemed rather dull. As she stared into the rising sun, she said, "I want to kill her."
The old man knew what 'her' the lady referred to. The lady had risked her invaluable body in such a dangerous place as he Garden of Zhou for the sole purpose of killing that human woman. The old man continued to admonish her. "Xu Yourong is no normal human……"
He had narrowly avoided the words that were the absolutely taboo for this girl. He could not help but still be afraid, and it was only after he composed himself that he continued, "……even if she consumed most of her true essence using the Sacred Light technique last night, killing her still would not be good. According to the military advisor's arrangements, we should first kill the other people first, then kill Xu. Only in this way can we avoid any mishaps."
With the two words 'military advisor', the girl descended into silence. However, after a long period of thought, she still shook her head and said, "I want to kill her."
She needed to kill Xu Yourong. She wanted to kill Xu Yourong. She only thought about killing Xu Yourong. The other human cultivators were naught but trash in her eyes, not even worth a glance.
Awaking to the sound of water, Chen Changsheng felt his entire body ached. Last night, as he walked around saving lives, he had walked several hundred li at the very least. Even though his body was now incredibly valiant, he was barely holding on. The most crucial factor was that his mind was still exhausted. That rush of activity had been like a tide, and it had truly been difficult for his mind to bear.
The morning sun had risen long ago and five in the morning had long since passed.
Chen Changsheng got up and walked over to the river, using some of the chilly water to wash his face. Feeling somewhat more awake, he took the field rations that Zhexiu had brought over and began to eat silently.
Last night, the injured or solitary cultivators had, in accordance with Chen Changsheng's instructions, come one after another to gather at the riverbank. Now, as those people successively woke up, the scene suddenly grew much more lively.
After Chen Changsheng finished eating the rations, he drank some water, then sat back down so as to disperse the exhaustion that pervaded both his mind and body. Only then did he stand back up.
The wound on Senior Tong's shoulder had been treated by him last night, and at the present, she had mostly recovered. The Clear Void Monastery master's condition had also improved. Although he still could not walk, his life was no longer in any danger. As for the other cultivators, whether their wounds were heavy or light, they were all in an okay condition. After a night's rest, they could probably handle the journey towards the garden that sat right in front of the gate.
Chen Changsheng walked over to Senior Tong and softly relayed his plan for the day.
Senior Tong nodded her head.
Chen Changsheng seemed to hesitate, but was unable to suppress his question and asked, "She……did she say anything about me? Or leave behind a message for me?"
Senior Tong thought about the frustrated monologue that Xu Yourong had delivered at the riverbank last night, and she could not help but smile as she replied, "She didn't say anything that was particularly meant for you."
For some reason, Chen Changsheng felt both at ease and disappointed.
At this moment, a cry of surprise arose from the forest by the river.
Upon hearing this cry, Chen Changsheng, Zhexiu, and a dozen other cultivators quickly rushed to its location.
An expert of the Heavenly Bestowal Sect stood there, his face pale. At his feet was a middle-aged man whose face was deathly green. He had long since stopped breathing.
Somebody had died.
"What happened here?"
“Could it be that Sect Master Fei couldn't hold on?”
"Could it be that last night, some person snuck into the woods and took advantage of the wounds Sect Master Fei suffered to execute some evil scheme?"
The forest resounded with angry and somewhat panicked discussion. As cultivators that had roamed the world— even if no one present had faced a life or death situation— they would, at the very least, not have been so mentally affected by death. However, the closing of the Garden of Zhou had cast a shadow on their hearts, not to mention that the middle-aged man was the Sect Master of the Heavenly Bestowal Sect. Although the Heavenly Bestowal Sect was an obscure sect of the south, he was still a Sect Master, moreover......last night the wounds Sect Master Fei had were not serious. Relying on his cultivation at the middle level of Ethereal Opening, he should have been able to very easily make it through the night. How could he so noiselessly die?
Chen Changsheng squatted down by Sect Master Fei's body, put on the gloves that were handed over by Zhexiu, and opened the eyes of the deceased man. He examined the nose and mouth, then inserted a copper needle into the neck. Extracting the needle, he brought it up into the sunlight and closely examined it. His expression slowly grew grave as he delivered his conclusion, "It was poison."
With these words, the crowd grew even more nervous. Who had used poison? That person could sneak past so many people and stealthily poison Sect Master Fei to death. What did that imply? Did it mean that as long as the person was willing, he could fatally poison any person present? And the most important cause of their anxiety was: why did that person want to kill Sect Master Fei?
"It must be a shaman." A southern cultivator said hatefully. "Yesterday when entering the garden, I spied a few of their ilk. I don't know what the Li Palace and Holy Maiden Peak are thinking, to let these people that love to use such strange things as the shamanistic arts and poison into the Garden of Zhou."
”Chen Changsheng shook his head, "Although it's true that poisonous plants were used, the poison is nothing like the plants grown in the south."
"Then whose poison was it?"
Out of grief and anger, the expert from the Heavenly Bestowal Sect did not care for Chen Changsheng's status. Staring at him, he shouted, "Last night, senior said he didn't need your treatment, but you insisted and then had us come here. In the end, he died! Who knows if it wasn't because you did something while you were treating him!"
At these words, the entire forest suddenly became quiet.