The setting sun shone on the dilapidated masonry, the door of the Daoist temple was shut tight, and the wooden door had long been infested by the mountain moisture, so decayed that a piece of wood could be broken with a bit of force.
The rows of brick and stone steps in front of the door were covered with moss. The middle ones that were frequently stepped on were slightly sunken, and some steps even lack corners.
In front of the Daoist Temple, Jing Yue led Qin Yanzhi, one big and one small, looking at the row of stone characters carved on the top of the door. Those characters had been weathered, only vaguely recognizable that this place was once called Evergreen Temple.
Jing Yue coughed with slight embarrassment. “Don’t look at the dilapidated state of this temple. The fengshui here is very good.”
He was not lying. This place was located in a valley in the middle of the mountains. A waterfall between the two mountains in the east and west formed a stream that surrounded the mountain col. Originally, it would form a natural all-gathering water array, but due to the low terrain, it was surrounded by mountains and could not see the sun, so few people paid attention to it for thousands of years.
After Jing Yue came here, with his cordial and friendly style of serving the people, he got the villagers at the foot of the mountain to help him break a small opening in each of the east and west peaks, while the south was the road leading into the mountain, thus breaking the blockade on all sides.
He also set a few small maze arrays at the entrance. In this way, although it was still a cold and windy winter outside the mountain, flowers bloomed in the mountain col all year round, clear water flowed serenely, and the area was abundant with the spiritual energy of heaven and earth.
Jing Yue, “In the future, we will live, cultivate, and set up the sect here.”
Yes, Jing Yue intended to return to his old profession—establish a school.
He had thought over this carefully. To leave Haotian Realm, they must break through the Amethyst Abode stage as soon as possible. In today’s situation, it was better to rely on himself than on Qin Yanzhi.
To speed up his cultivation, in addition to being diligent, he also needed sufficient cultivation resources to support him. In short, he needed spirit stones, treasures of heaven and earth, and chance encounters.
As for how to quickly accumulate training resources, one option was to join the largest sect in this world.
Based on Jing Yue’s understanding, each of the five continents in the Haotian Realm was controlled by an immortal gate, referred to by the outside world as the Five Great Immortal Mountains. With Jing Yue’s talent, he could easily join any of them. But joining a sect didn’t mean that he could just sit back and relax. Only by gaining enough power and making enough credit could he have the opportunity to intervene in the resource allocation of the sect. This would inevitably distract his energy and be detrimental to his cultivation.
Besides, as the patriarch of a great sect, how could he join another?
Secondly, he could try to find chance encounters, but those were too vague and full of uncertainty. He was more inclined to go with the flow.
Thirdly, by forming a force that belonged to him alone, he would have absolute control over it.
An Amethyst Abode in Haotian Realm had not been seen for thousands of years. Nowadays, the highest cultivation level was no more than the Golden Core. As a mid-level Foundation Establishment, he already had the qualifications to establish a sect. Although the early stage of this move was also time-consuming and laborious, with his identity as patriarch, he had the final say on how to develop the school.
Moreover, when he was able to transcend the heavenly laws of this world, he could use the 33 Heaven Delimitation Curse to imprint his divine consciousness on the laws of Haotian Realm, completely controlling this world.
This method of controlling the realm had long since disappeared. The stalwarts could at best refine a secret realm these days. If Jing Yue could really bring an entire world back, how beneficial would it be to Frostcloud Sect?
Since he had regarded the Haotian Realm as something in his pocket, he could consider establishing a school here as a branch for Frostcloud Sect in advance.
Jing Yue, “We’ll call this Mini Frostcloud Sect. I’m the sect leader here, and you…”
Qin Yanzhi opened his eyes slightly and looked at Jing Yue expectantly. The latter said uncomfortably, “You are the younger brother of the sect leader.”
Qin Yanzhi pursed his lips happily and smiled as if there were stars hidden in his eyes. He didn’t care where he lived or what identity he held. As long as he could be with his little gege, nothing else mattered.
However, Jing Yue took a step back. Goodness gracious! If one day Qin Yanzhi recovered his memory, he couldn’t help feeling that he would suffer all kinds of indescribable assassinations!
Even blue phoenix patted its chest dramatically with its wings and said in horror, “OOC has taken center stage, even flowers in full bloom withered instantly.”
After fooling around for a while, Jing Yue opened the door and entered the temple. The Daoist temple was small but tidy. The courtyard was full of greenery, and a plum tree exuded a cold fragrance.
Suddenly, a growling sound was heard in the quiet air. Well, it came from Qin Yanzhi’s belly.
Qin Yanzhi flushed red, trying hard to control his small face, finally appearing a bit like how Jing Yue remembered him. He resisted the desire to laugh wildly with blue phoenix and said, “I forgot you’re a mortal now and have to eat normal food.”
There was no food in the Daoist temple, so they had to go into the mountains to pick some greens and fruits and hunt some game. Thus, Jing Yue said, “Stay in the temple and rest. I’ll bring some food back later. Ji-ji will accompany you.”
Although blue phoenix was reluctant, it still jumped to Qin Yanzhi's feet, leaning against the other softly.
But it never expected that it would be scorned!
Qin Yanzhi stayed silent, lowered his head, and pulled Jing Yue's sleeves without letting go, his whole body exuding an aura of rejection.
Jing Yue was also at a loss. Qin Yanzhi was just a child now. Even though his personality was inborn, he couldn’t be as steady as a mature adult. If Qin Yanzhi was unable to recover his memory, his temperament in the future would be closely related to his upbringing now. He had no wish to change the temperament of a generation of genius in sword cultivation, instead of teaching him to become a petulant and pampered adult accustomed to getting his way.
After all, a failed example like Ji-ji was more than enough.
The burden on his shoulders seemed to be heavier. Jing Yue sighed slightly and decided not to indulge in the other party’s whims. At least, Qin Yanzhi must know that his words were the authority.
He said sternly, “You stay.”
Qin Yanzhi felt that Jing Yue's words could not be violated. He slowly let go of his hand, dropped his eyes down, and turned his back in silence. He was wrapped in a white fox cloak like a ball.
Jing Yue's eyebrows twitched. Hardening his resolve, he turned around and left.
After walking a few steps, he suddenly turned his head back instinctively and saw Qin Yanzhi turning his head to peek at him. The two gazes made contact, panic flashed across Qin Yanzhi's small face, and then he quickly turned back.
Jing Yue, “…” Abracadabra, he must be blind! Thus, he continued to walk outside.
Soon after, he heard the sound of footsteps coming from behind him, and a pair of small hands pulled on his robe.
Jing Yue, “…”
Qin Yanzhi still didn't raise his head. Jing Yue could only see the top of his dark hair and his clenched small fists.
Jing Yue’s heart inexplicably softened. The other party was only five years old after all. It was inevitable to be afraid to stay alone in the Daoist temple. It was just a trivial matter. Why should he take it so seriously?
The big hand covered the small one, and Jing Yue said, “This time only. You must listen to me in the future.”
Qin Yanzhi's smile instantly spread to the corners of his mouth. With such a straightforward expression, Jing Yue couldn't help but laugh, leaving blue phoenix in a daze—what happened? Why were they suddenly being so friendly?
The two held hands and walked out of Daoist Temple. Jing Yue turned around and glanced at the few weathered stone characters on the door. With a wave of his sleeves, the stone characters' brilliance flowed and turned into the characters—Mini Frostcloud Sect.
Below Flying Blossoms Mountain was Jujube Village where Jing Yue volunteered all year round.
He didn't plan to go up the mountain with Qin Yanzhi, so he went down to the village to get more food instead, so as not to have to run back and forth.
As soon as he entered the village, Jing Yue found that today's Jujube Village was very different. A group of people crowded not far in front, noisy and clamoring, for some unknown reason.
He pulled Qin Yanzhi along and approached quietly. After listening to the villagers for a bit, he finally understood what happened.
It turned out that Widow Jiang from the village accidentally fell into an ice hole while fishing for fish. A young man named Wu rescued her but was accused by the village chief instead, claiming that Widow Jiang didn’t observe moral values, and demanding that Widow Jiang be drowned in the pond for indecency.
In the crowd, Widow Jiang knelt tremblingly, her soaked clothes stuck to her body, her messy hair stuck to her cheeks, and the top of her hair was still covered with crushed ice. She was pale, her lips were blue, and she looked like she was about to pass out at any time.
An eight or nine-year-old boy was guarding her, clutching the village chief’s arm, and begged, “Grandpa village chief, please let my mother go. She fell into the river just to catch a fish for me. It’s not a crime. It's all slander!”
“Slander? I saw them hugging each other, face to face, chest to chest!” A young man with a small mustache next to the village chief spat, “I always wondered why Wu Zhongchun didn’t marry despite being in his 20s. It’s because he has a relationship with a widow! Gee, how exciting and scandalous!”
Little mustache looked at a man who was drenched, the latter’s face was full of irony.
Little boy, “You’re talking nonsense! Everyone in the village knows that Wu-gege's mother is in poor health, so he has to take care of his old mother before marrying a wife. Wu-gege is a filial son and a good man!”
Someone in the crowd echoed, “Indeed! Zhao Haizi, who doesn't know your nasty thoughts?”
Everyone started to put their two cents’ worth and exposed little mustache’s black history.
It was said that Zhao Haizi admired Yi Zhihua in Jujube Village when he was a teenager. Unfortunately, Yi Zhihua took a fancy to Wu Zhongchun, but Wu Zhongchun’s only other family member was an old lady who was confined to bed. Over the years, they owed a huge debt to pay for doctors and medicine. At such a penniless state, where could he get the money to marry a wife? In the end, Yi Zhihua tearfully married into a neighboring village, but Zhao Haizi had always been jealous and hateful towards Wu Zhongchun. He wanted to find fault but was afraid that Wu Zhongchun would beat him up, so he only dared to hide behind others and spout sour words.
As for standing forward this time… he thought that the evidence was sufficient. Even if only Widow Jiang could be convicted, Wu Zhongchun would have to bear the shadow for a lifetime.
But Zhao Haizi never expected that everyone in the village would speak up for Wu Zhongchun! He angrily said, “How dare you protect him? Aren’t you afraid that I’d lodge a report to the Penal Warden and summon heaven's punishment for the village?”
As soon as the voice fell, someone behind him said, “I’m the Penal Warden Zhao Xueyi. Who wants to lodge a report?”
The villagers fell into a terrified silence, only Jing Yue opened his eyes slightly.
He had been to Chen Kingdom for nearly two years and had a certain understanding of this country.
Twenty years ago, a Daoist with profound magic power appeared in Chen Kingdom, who could call forth the wind and rain, and eliminate disasters. Claiming to be the reincarnation of Heavenly Protector, he was welcomed into the palace by the emperor and regarded as the state preceptor. Daoism also became the state religion, the temples prospered, incense flourished, and there were countless believers.
Later, the power of the state preceptor became more and more powerful, and the laws of Chen Kingdom became stricter.
Ten years ago, the national division established the Penal Temple that was in charge of the national penal decree. From the imperial family to the normal citizens, all fell within the scope of supervision.
At the same time of its founding, there was also the position of Penal Warden unique to Chen Kingdom. Although not an official post, it was superior to many officials. They were independent of the imperial power and only obeyed orders from the state preceptor. A supervisory seal in the hands of the penal warden could invoke heaven’s punishment, with the right to pass judgment on big matters and make decisions on small matters, causing everyone in Chen Kingdom to fear and revere it.
However, when Jing Yue first came to Chen Kingdom, he was busy traveling around, and then he stayed on Flying Blossoms Mountain. The only contact he had was with Jujube Village that had always been peaceful. Thus, he had never encountered the Penal Warden or heaven’s punishment, and so happened that he came across it today.
At this moment, the villagers all looked at Zhao Xueyi in horror. Zhao Haizi didn't expect to actually attract the penal warden and shuddered for a long while. Under the sullen eyes of the penal warden, he stammered and recounted the event. The latter sneered, “It turns out to be an adulteress!”
Zhao Xueyi was the penal warden in charge of a county, considered the lowest level in the penal temple, but his rights in the county were on the same level as the county magistrate.
Usually, he rarely visited Jujube Village, a poor remote village that he couldn’t benefit from. Today, he just happened to pass by. Seeing the villagers crowded in one place, he stopped to take a look.
He faintly swept his gaze over the crowd around and saw that most of the villagers were kneeling on the ground in fear, their bodies trembling. Only a young Daoist not far away, holding a child in his hand, stood straight and even stared directly at him!
Zhao Xueyi wasn’t happy but he didn’t hold an official position after all. If others didn’t worship him, he had no reason to be angry, let alone a Daoist.
So, he only gazed at the Daoist surreptitiously and said coolly, “Indecency is a second-class crime in the criminal law. If such an adulteress is not punished, do you want to suffer heaven’s punishment with her?”
Widow Jiang’s son wanted to beg for mercy, but several villagers covered his mouth and pressed it firmly. They sympathized with Widow Jiang, but they dared not defy the penal warden, so they could only protect the little boy and not let him rush to his death.
Upon seeing this, Widow Jiang smiled gratefully at the villagers, though her smile contained misery. She stood up, looked at Zhao Haizi coldly, and then rushed towards the nearest tree, seeking death!
Most of the villagers turned their faces and couldn't bear to look. Even Zhao Haizi lowered his head, but Zhao Xueyi said, “Keep your eyes open and look carefully! This is the end of those who do not respect the law!”
A muffled noise… Widow Jiang sat on the ground intact.
It fell silent. Even her son stopped struggling, his eyes completely blank.
Just now… he saw… a water curtain suddenly appeared… his mother crashed into it… and then… was bounced back?
Such a magical scene caused many villagers to rub their eyes frantically, and Zhao Xueyi also looked dazed.
After a while, Zhao Xueyi finally recovered his senses and found the target at one glance. “It’s you! It’s you, right?” He pointed at the Daoist priest who was the only one who disrespected him and said angrily, “What do you want to do? How dare you disregard the law of Chen Kingdom!”
Everyone's eyes turned. The targeted person turned out to be the helpful little Daoist on Flying Blossoms Mountain.
The little priest was actually an immortal?
The village chief's body shook and he hurriedly kowtowed towards Jing Yue. He had never seen such magical methods in his life! The rest of the villagers also reacted and they continued to kowtow and murmured, “Immortal, this is a real immortal.”
Zhao Xueyi panicked inwardly and forced himself to calm down. “Where did this wild Daoist come from? Deceiving the villagers with your petty little tricks, how dare you show off in front of me! Ah… what is this miserable beast!”
The villagers were horrified to find that a little blue bird that looked like a baby chicken flying over the head of the penal warden and scratching at him, pecking several holes in his face.
Zhao Xueyi was so angry that he roared, “I call upon heaven’s punishment!”
With the words, coercion enveloped the whole village. All the villagers were crushed to the ground, and some even foamed at the mouth.
But Jing Yue and Qin Yanzhi didn’t move, and even blue phoenix didn’t stop clawing, still wreaking havoc on Zhao Xueyi's head.
Zhao Xueyi was in pain and panic, and finally began to be afraid. He saw the Daoist waving his sleeves, the spiritual energy paused briefly, and all the coercion suddenly dissipated.
Immediately after, the Daoist stared at him and said, “Hoax and skullduggery!”
Rouge: My persona has gone OOC.
Ji-ji: It’s already OOC long ago in the author’s notes.
Rouge: … Makes sense. Let it fly then.
Jing-jing: I'm a little worried that I’d be wiped out when my foolish son recovers his memory.
Rouge: No, I’ll choose another method to seal your mouth^.
Jing-jing: For example?
Rouge: I won’t go into details. In short, it’d be this way and that way.
(TN: Refers to hush money or hush method 封口 ‘feng kou’ is literally ‘seal mouth’)
(TN: In case readers haven’t caught on yet, this
(extremely long)arc is the Major Plot Progression between JY and QYZ that everyone (?) have been waiting for, and Haotian Realm is also a major plot point of this novel.)