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Chapter 272 - Bits of Grass
The dark cliffs, the solitary mountain path, and the pitch-black abyss; there was only the wind that blew head-on, brushing her clothes and her dark hair against her cheeks.
In the deep darkness of the night, her white ceremonial robes were very striking. At the summit of Sunset Valley, the zither-playing old man slowly caressed the fluff that had been disturbed from his zither strings by the wind. He silently thought to himself, "The first song breaks the heart, the second song breaks the soul, and the third song brings the end, and yet even this fantasy couldn't imprison you? Could it be that there truly exists a human with the spotlessly pure Dao heart?"
He was an elder of a shaman tribe of the south that had left it behind. He specialized in spiritual attacks. The sound of his zither could create fantasies that were almost impossible to differentiate from the real world. Especially tonight, he was able to borrow the energy of Sunset Valley, and the fantasy that he created could look far up the river of memories of intelligent beings. He could go far upstream to those most distant, most indistinct, and yet most unforgettable moments of life. Those beings would not want to go back; they would gradually grow intoxicated and sink into those memories. In the end, they would enter a long sleep and become incapable of leaving…
The zither-playing old man did not know that high up above Sunset Valley, the spiritual soul of the Black Dragon had been paying careful attention to all this, and thus had been dragged into a fantasy by his zither.
The Black Dragon saw many scenes from several hundred years ago——that was the remnants of dragon Qi that she innately sensed, that was the assault on her spirit brought about by her recognition of Sunset Valley's original form. When she had been with Chen Changsheng as he looked at Sunset Valley from a distance, she had felt some sort of emotion, that something was calling out to her. Only now did she understand why this world stirred such sorrow within her——The Garden of Zhou had never been only the human's home, it had also been the grave of her father, the strongest Black Frost Dragon in the past one thousand years.
The zither-playing old man knew nothing about this. The fantasy he constructed with his music was targeted at the white-clothed young lady. She was naturally the person he placed all his focus on. As for what the white-clothed young lady saw in that fantasy, he did not know. He only knew that she had not moved for a while now, but she had not sunk into intoxication either. She had only calmly stood under that tree, then saw through his fantasy and easily destroyed it.
She had bitten on her own fingertip, then spilled a drop of blood onto the world that emerged from the sound of the zither. That golden-colored, dignified and sacred blood, that incomparably fierce blood that seemed to hold nigh-infinite power… had easily burned the clouds away, destroying the fantasy weaved together by the music. Was that blood the legendary Heavenly Phoenix's true blood?
The old man looked at the dark mountain path. He was slightly moved, but he said nothing. All of Xuelao City knew of this taboo: before Princess Nanke, one must absolutely never mention the word 'phoenix'.
"The natural state of life is desire and disorder. There is no such thing as a completely transparent soul. Not even cultivating the Dao can make one's Dao heart spotlessly pure. On the contrary, her spirit is more complex than you could have imagined. Over her Dao heart, she has spread many layers of pretense. Your zither could only touch upon the most shallow layers, so how could they move her? If you couldn't even move her emotionally, how could you expect to confuse her?"
The little girl coldly continued, "Truthfully, I'm very curious. For her to put up so many pretenses, at times being the Holy Maiden and at times being ordinary, will there be a day where she forgets who she is?"
"If that really does happen, then in the future, she will encounter extreme difficulties."
The zither-playing old man was pensive. He lightly plucked at the strings of the zither, and a concentrated Qi emerged with the sound. It continued to separate this mountain ridge from the true Garden of Zhou.
The little girl had never thought that the sound of the zither alone would be enough to imprison her opponent. The white-clothed young lady had used her blood to easily break through the space, but the space still existed. To leave, she would have to meet in person.
To meet in person.
Tonight was the night that their fates would intersect.
As she gazed expressionlessly at the dark mountain path, she said, "For a crazy being like the phoenix, they always die by burning themselves up. But before she burns herself, I will definitely kill her with my own hands."
The night wind blew across the desolate mountain path, causing the ceremonial robes to seem like a great cloak. The white-clothed young lady seemed to be proceeding slowly, but she was actually moving very quickly. Like a crane, she seemed to flutter across, arriving at the summit of Sunset Valley.
There were no stars in the night sky above the Garden of Zhou, but deep within the plains, there hung a dim sphere of light. What was it? She thought about it as she looked at the girl sitting at the edge of the cliff.
The little girl stood up and turned around. "You came."
The white-clothed young lady was astonished. The first moment she laid eyes on this little girl, she had guessed, or perhaps finally confirmed, the identity of her opponent. For her to be so strong at such a young age, she could naturally only be that legendary Demon Princess, Nanke. Xu Yourong was so shocked because she had not imagined that Nanke would actually look like this.
Nanke was about ten years of age, but her appearance was actually rather delicate and pretty, and a childish air still hung about her. She could be considered a rather pretty little girl, except that the space between her two eyes was somewhat wide and her pitch-black eyes were inclined somewhat inward. Moreover, the expression in those eyes was rather wooden. All in all, it made her seem somewhat slow-witted.
She was just like a girl that had grown up in some village. Every day she would go out to the back mountain and gather a basket full of pigweed, then eat and go to sleep until the dawn of the next day, where she would once again gather a basket of pigweed.
Indeed, she was just like a village girl whose life was to go out every day and gather pigweed.
For some reason, the white-clothed young lady thought of this image, even though she had never lived in a village, nor had she ever gathered pigweed, much less even knew what it looked like. But still she thought in such a way.
If this was an intersection of fates, then Nanke had definitely thought of it many times, and Xu Yourong would have also thought about it many times.
She had thought that Nanke would be a proud and aloof Peacock. The legends said that phoenixes could command all kinds of birds, but only the peacock would always be so cold and proud, soaring alone in places where the sun did not reach. She had never imagined that Nanke would be just like some girl who would go out to gather pigweed every day. She seemed rather slow-witted, rather wooden, and rather pitiful. For some reason, it made people feel sorry for her, going out every day to endlessly gather pigweed.
This also made her seem rather stupefied.
The night wind lightly caressed Sunset Valley and time slowly passed.
She did not know what to say, which made her feel somewhat tense. She felt that she did not know how to confront this girl called Nanke, so she turned to the zither-playing old man.
She was fated to be a true phoenix, so it only took a glance for her to see the truth.
She could tell that the old man was an elder of the Shadow Candle Shamans. Perhaps his fighting prowess was at the peak of Ethereal Opening, but in terms of spirit, his strength far exceeded it. For killing human cultivators in the Garden of Zhou, he was extremely suitable. Of course, the demon Military Advisor would not miss a single detail.
Only, it was a pity.
She looked at the zither on his knees, saw the fluff slightly rising from the strings, and she could only regretfully shake her head.
This was the sacred artifact of the Shadow Candle Shamans that had been passed down for many years——the Precious Jade Zither.
If the Precious Jade Zither was not used to construct this space as well as the fantasy, and was instead used to accompany Nanke in her attacks, then perhaps she really was in extreme danger, and would maybe even die.
Nanke said, "I want to kill you. No-one else is allowed to interfere."
With these words, the little girl's black hair danced in the wind, and it seemed like bits of grass were falling down.