Jing Yue followed Qin Yanzhi back into the sword pavilion.
At this time, the students in the sword pavilion had all left, and the setting sun sprinkled through the door, staining the furnishings in the sword pavilion with the desolation and vicissitudes of time, rendering it more ancient and solemn.
Qin Yanzhi stopped in front of the greenwood sword. Jing Yue realized that the other party might want to give him some pointers, so he said, “Qin-zhenjun is aware of this? I don’t know why but I can’t seem to communicate with this sword.”
Qin Yanzhi didn’t reply but untied his sword and handed it to Jing Yue instead.
As soon as he held the long sword in his hand, Jing Yue felt a majestic sword intent enveloping him, impacting his soul. The sword intent was too sharp, causing his soul to sting slightly, and he dared not to expose his extraordinary divine consciousness in front of Qin Yanzhi, so he could only endure it resolutely.
Qin Yanzhi, “Daoyi, settle down.”
As soon as the voice fell, the sword intent immediately eased. Jing Yue's heart was shaken. This sword already developed a sword spirit!
Sword consciousness, sword spirit, sword soul.
The former had just developed an awareness and could communicate a few simple thoughts with the owner, just like a child who was learning to speak. Once the sword gave birth to a sword spirit, just like a human being in its youth, not only could it communicate smoothly with its owner, but it could also attack autonomously, its power far better than before. As for the soul of the sword, Jing Yue had never seen it before. He only heard that the sword could take on a human form, but he didn't know whether that was true.
He had practiced for thousands of years in his previous life, but Canglan Sword had merely developed a sword spirit. Qin Yanzhi was now no more than an Amethyst Abode cultivator, but he had accomplished an achievement that thousands of cultivators could only dream of.
Jing Yue once again felt the gap between him and Qin Yanzhi's talent in swordsmanship. Perhaps he had taken too many blows, so there was no fluctuation in his heart.
He lowered his head and carefully observed the famous Daoyi sword in his hand. “Huh? Is it actually forged from ordinary iron?”
As soon as he uttered the words, he noticed Daoyi’s displeasure, and immediately said, “I really didn’t expect an ordinary iron sword to possess such power. Daoyi truly deserves its reputation.”
Well, Daoyi was pleased now.
Qin Yanzhi, “Hundreds of years ago, when I was just building my foundation, Daoyi also went silent for three years. It cut off contact with me overnight. No matter what I did, it never responded.”
Wasn’t it the same situation as what he encountered now? Jing Yue asked curiously, “Why is this?”
Qin Yanzhi, “Once Daoyi woke up again, it has formed a sword consciousness.”
Jing Yue was startled. His Canglan Sword gave birth to a sword consciousness in an instant, so he didn’t come across this situation.
Qin Yanzhi, “The more common the iron, the longer it takes to generate sword consciousness. But how can ordinary cultivators bother with a handful of common ore? Therefore, very few people know that whenever common iron produces consciousness, it will definitely encounter a bottleneck. During this period, it must be carefully taken care of by someone to awaken its sword consciousness.”
Seeing Jing Yue a little inattentive, he asked, “Did you hear my words clearly?”
“Yes, I did.”
Just now, Jing Yue suddenly recalled something that Yi Wang had mentioned before and couldn’t help being distracted.
Qin Yanzhi unconsciously softened his tone when facing Jing Yue's clear gaze. “The swords in the sword pavilion have different aptitudes. The one in your hand already developed a consciousness, but it has not been activated yet. If not for the sword recognition phase that the sword pavilion is opened to the students, the sword consciousness might never awaken. Over time, this weak consciousness will gradually dissipate. Since you ran into this situation today, it seems this sword has a predestined relationship with you, so you may help to awaken it.”
Jing Yue looked at the silent cyan wooden sword, recalled Qin Yanzhi's words, and felt that the Dao of swordsmanship was indeed vast and profound. He clenched the Daoyi sword in his hand tightly. For common iron to grow a sword consciousness, the difficulty level was no less than squeezing water from a stone. He wondered what kind of price had Qin Yanzhi paid for that perseverance.
His respect for Qin Yanzhi increased. Of course, he wouldn’t refuse the other party, and only asked, “Qin-zhenjun, what should I do?”
Qin Yanzhi replied with three words in a particularly pretentious manner—with your heart.
Jing Yue simply nodded in confusion.
The next day, Jing Yue still made no progress, but when he left the sword pavilion, he took the wooden sword with him.
The other students were very surprised, but seeing that Qin Yanzhi didn't say anything, they didn't ask too much either.
Jing Yue didn’t know how to use his heart. Since Qin Yanzhi didn't say it, it must be up to him to realize it by himself. And where he only used to hold the sword in his hand to communicate with, he was now inseparable from it.
So he carried the sword with him when he cultivated, drew talismans, walking, chatting… In short, he carried the sword with him at all times, as if the sword was another limb that grew out from his body.
Regarding this, Meng Shan was full of sympathy. “I used to envy you for having Qin-zhenjun as your instructor, but now it seems that Qin-zhenjun is so strict, torturing you so that you have no free time! I’d better study my lovely talisman. I already have a clue about your light-body talisman. Just wait! I’ll grab your rice bowl in a few days!”
Jing Yue, “Then you should hurry up. Once this talisman can be found anywhere on the streets, my rice bowl won’t be worth much anymore.”
Meng Shan, “…”
After the light-body talisman, Jing Yue never encountered the opportunity to improve any other charms. The talismans taught by Wu Dao-zhenren were commonly used and had undergone numerous tempering and refining by countless great experts. The light-body charm was an accidental fluke.
As he became more familiar with the structure, details, and spiritual energy distribution of the talisman, Jing Yue could feel his increased progress in this art. Even with the same refining method, the talismans he drew would always be better than other students, and this was the case when he didn’t use the celestial sandstone.
However, the market for those charms had long been saturated. Even if it was sold, not much money would be made. Wu Dao-zhenren had developed an improved version of the light-body charm a few months ago, but it wasn’t appropriate for him to compete with the students for profit, so he didn’t reveal it.
Jing Yue estimated that it wouldn’t take long for other students to crack the pseudo-patterns, so his money-making days would soon be over.
Well, it was time to look for another way to make money.
As the days passed, everything was normal.
However, one day, a strange thing happened in the academy—a disciple of the Mauve Aurora Sect went missing.
That disciple was named Pang Can, who also entered the academy the same day as Jing Yue, and was a disciple recommended by the Mauve Aurora Sect.
On the last rest day, Pang Can said he was going to Bliss City for a stroll, but he didn't come back that night, and no one saw him the next day.
His dorm mate reported this situation to one of the disciples of Mauve Aurora Sect. The latter was worried that Pang Can would be punished for not returning at night, so at first, he only contacted a few fellow disciples to search for him.
But two days passed with no sight of him and there was not even a clue of his whereabouts. They were finally at their wits’ end and had to find Luo-zhenren, who was on duty at the Mauve Aurora Sect to explain the situation.
Luo-zhenjun quickly sent a search party to the academy and Bliss City. Before they found any clues, Mauve Aurora Sect sent a message saying that the soul lamp belonging to Pang Can that was left in the sect went out three days ago.
This time, the entire academy went into an uproar!
Pang Can died bizarrely and no body was found so far. It can't be a suicide, right? Who killed him? Someone near Bliss City dared to lay a hand on a student of Nine Heaven Academy? It was simply unheard of!
The Mauve Aurora Sect asked Nine Heaven Academy to give an explanation, while the academy blamed Mauve Aurora’s disciples for the delay in reporting. In the end, Qin Yanzhi could only take charge of this matter and led the Penal Court to start an investigation.
As the head of the mountain, no matter the cause of this major incident, it was his dereliction of duty for this to happen.
Of course Jing Yue also heard the news. He thought it had nothing to do with him, but the incident later involved Frostcloud Sect's disciples.
It turned out that An Wenxing of the Mauve Aurora Sect claimed that Zheng Bai was the culprit because Pang Can had had a fight with Zheng Bai before his disappearance. An Wenxing believed that Pang Can had a magic weapon with him. Even if he got into a fight with someone, how could there be no trace? Only a student of the academy would cause Pang Can to lose his vigilance and fall under a sneak attack.
Coincidentally, Zheng Bai had been cultivating in the dormitory on the rest day, and no one could testify for him.
Zheng Bai merely sneered at that accusation, claiming that An Wenxing was barking like a mad dog, and he didn't take it seriously.
So on this day, Zheng Bai and An Wenxing crossed paths in the sword arena, and they fought as soon as they met. Jing Yue happened to be passing by and was about to stop them when he was almost overthrown by a force.
Perhaps Qin Yanzhi, who suddenly appeared, was under too much pressure lately. With an expression like a debt collector, he said coldly, “Do you think the rules of the academy are merely a decoration?”
Without waiting for an explanation, Qin Yanzhi continued, “You three, come down the mountain with me!”
Along the way, no one spoke.
Zheng Bai was angry, An Wenxing was reluctant, and Jing Yue, who was dragged into the water, was even less interested.
Hmph, he was not a princess!
When they arrived in Bliss City, An Wenxing grumbled softly, “Didn’t the people from the Penal Court conduct an investigation already? No one in the city has seen Pang Can.”
Qin Yanzhi glared at him sideways, his eyes calm, but An Wenxing was so frightened that he immediately fell silent, not daring to say more.
The group came to a refining shop, and as soon as they entered, they were welcomed by the shopkeeper.
Qin Yanzhi stared at the shopkeeper for a long time, causing the fat on the shopkeeper to tremble from fright. Then, he took out Pang Can’s portrait. “Have you seen this person?”
Shopkeeper, “No, never seen him.” His expression only held a trace of fear toward Qin Yanzhi, but not guilt.
Qin Yanzhi had long been mentally prepared for this result. If this matter could be solved so easily, the Penal Court would not be helpless so far. But the strange thing was, Pang Can’s aura disappeared from this place.
In each student's academy token, there was a ray of spiritual energy unique to them as an imprint, connected to each individual. The members of the Penal Court had already used secret methods to track down the whereabouts of Pang Can's token and the final result all pointed to this refining shop. But they had investigated this area several times and still found no clue.
This matter was very bizarre. Qin Yanzhi suspected that it had something to do with the demonic cultivators. He stared at the shopkeeper and released a hypnotic secret technique.
The blackness of the pupils gradually spread, and soon both eyes became pure black, and the whites of the eyes were no longer visible.
Then, he entered the other party's consciousness.
He saw Pang Can, but there was also a Daoist in yellow robes opposite Pang Can. Unfortunately, only the silhouette of his back could be seen.
The two seemed to be talking about something. Suddenly, Pang Can stiffened, his eyes became distracted, and he walked out in a daze. The yellow-robed man immediately turned around, and his true face was about to be revealed, but Qin Yanzhi's eyes went dark, and he broke away from the shopkeeper's consciousness.
“Let’s go out first,” Qin Yanzhi instructed.
The four stood at the door of the refining shop. Jing Yue noticed that Qin Yanzhi had just used hypnotism, so he asked, “Did Qin-zhenjun discover anything?”
Qin Yanzhi briefly explained the findings of the Penal Court and what he had just seen, and said, “The yellow-robed Daoist is skilled at attracting souls. He enchanted Pang Can’s mind, led Pang Can to go with him, and at the same time eliminated the shopkeeper’s memory, and put a restriction on the shopkeeper to prevent others from using hypnotism to track him down.”
An Wenxing, “Is Qin-zhenjun saying that the yellow-robed Daoist is the murderer?”
Qin Yanzhi, “He is very suspicious.”
An Wenxing, “Then why didn't he kill the shopkeeper directly?”
Zheng Bai, “Are you an idiot? Can’t you see that the shopkeeper is the servant of Six-chasm Pavilion?”
An Wenxing was taken aback. “What about the Six-chasm Pavilion?”
Zheng Bai, “The servants of Six-chasm Pavilion have signed a blood contract with the master. If the servant is killed, the master can sense the murderer through the blood contract.”
An Wenxing, “Ahem, of course I know this. I just didn’t recall it.”
Zheng Bai didn't want to talk to him further and rolled his eyes at An Wenxing instead.
Jing Yue, “Since the Penal Court found that Pang Can’s aura disappeared from here, his token must have been destroyed right after he walked out of the refining shop. The murderer is most probably the yellow-robed Daoist.”
Qin Yanzhi nodded slightly and said to An Wenxing, “You already know what happened. If there is no evidence in the future, don't doubt your classmates so easily.”
Seeing An Wenxing blush and lowering his head, Zheng Bai was immediately gratified.
Jing Yue, “Although we don’t know who the Daoist in yellow robe is, since he can prevent Qin-zhenjun’s explorations, he must be at least a Heavenly Grotto cultivator.”
As soon as Qin Yanzhi was about to speak, he saw an elder from the Penal Court rushing over and said anxiously, “Mountain Leader, we found Pang Can.”
An Wenxing on the side anxiously said, “Where is he?”