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A large amount of lava broke through the huge transparent wall and dropped into the Abyss, as if it were a heavenly river of fire coming down vertically from the sky.
Even though the flames on the Underworld River caused a disaster that day and the ground and mountains shook constantly, many inhabitants of the Underworld still noticed this spectacular and beautiful scene; however, nobody had seen a red carp come in through the river of fire and sneak into the darkness of the night.
It was dim in the Underworld and hard to see things during night; but the flames were everywhere at the moment. The Fire Carp looked like a spray in the Underworld River, rather imperceptible.
The Immortal Bai stood on the head of the Fire Carp with her hands folded behind her back. She furrowed her eyebrows slightly as she looked down at the black cliffs at the downstream of the Underworld River.
There were many Underworld soldiers who were suffocated to death by the green smoke at that cluster of cliffs. There was a colorless tree on the high platform over there and a Buddha looking at the torrential Underworld River quietly.
Sensing the energy of the large Buddha, the Fire Carp asked in terror, “Who is he?”
“Cao Yuan,” replied the Immortal Bai.
Back when Tong Yan stayed underground with the Fire Carp one hundred years ago, they had talked about many things in the Cultivation circle; so he knew this name. “How come he came down here? Did the Immortal come here to kill him?” he asked in astonishment.
“It’s not easy to kill him even though he had already fought twice today,” said the Immortal Bai. “But he has done many deeds for the human race; why would I want to kill him?”
She wouldn’t dare demonstrate her arrogance by speaking in such a manner in front of this Buddha even though she had a high Cultivation state, the Fire Carp thought. As he was disparaging the Immortal Bai in his mind, the Fire Carp suddenly sensed the energy emerging from her body. Thinking of the fairy books she had, the Fire Carp felt exceedingly cold again and tightened his lips reflexively, unable to say one more word.
The Fire Carp suddenly sensed something. He turned around and looked at the distant night sky. He saw the river of fire dropping down from the sky and the star of fire grow dimmer as it traveled to the distance.
Less seawater came down from the Underworld sky; it was believed that the Giant had fixed the passage of heaven and earth that had been modified by the Immortal Taiping. And the strong wind had gradually subsided; it was believed that Bu Qiuxiao had done something to achieve the result. The crisis of destruction of the world had been essentially avoided, but why did a sudden change occur now? And what was the star of fire traveling to the distance?
He turned toward the colorless tree on the high platform and intended to negotiate with the Underworld Master; but he discovered that not a trace of the Underworld Master could be found under the tree.
The Underworld River meandered on the extensive black ground slowly. When a gust of strong wind blew over, it would dispel the pebbles and dust on the surface of the water; then splashes of flames could be seen on the river.
Though this river looked like the lava river in the Gathered-Soul Valley, they were totally different rivers. Swimming in the Underworld River edgily, the Fire Carp perceived a pulling force now and then in the river and smelled the spiritual souls hidden in it. He didn’t calm down until he realized that none of them could actually harm him.
This was an extremely desolate site in the Underworld; it was because the Underworld River went through several Homes of Spiritual Fire here, and there was no city, town or tribe located here. This place was devoid of any trace of inhabitants of the Underworld.
After the Underworld River passed the Home of Spiritual Souls, they saw a fat man kneeling on the white stony beach, who looked like a heap of meat.
Compared to the small and short inhabitants of the Underworld, the Grand Priest of the Underworld was evidently very fat.
The Grand Priest was the most powerful figure in the Underworld. After the death of the Underworld Emperor, he had contended with the Underworld Master for more than one hundred years; but he was defeated in the end.
The ultimate reason for his defeat was because the Center Sect that supported him was suppressed by the Green Mountain Sect that supported the Underworld Master.
The final battle in the Underworld had ended at the same time the Immortal Taiping attempted to end the world. The Underworld Master couldn’t find him on the battlefield; it turned out that he had been waiting for his master by kneeling on this white stony beach.
“Is everything ready?” asked the Immortal Bai with an imperturbable countenance.
The Grand Priest said, “All the formations are under my control; and the green smoke can be used at any time.”
“What about the Underworld Master?” asked the Immortal Bai.
The Grand Priest replied, “He is the personal disciple of the Immortal Taiping; it’s impossible for him not to help us.”
The Fire Carp had finally figured out what they intended to do. “How can you people do this?!” he shrieked, a terrified and incredulous expression showing in his eyes.
“This is the experience the humans have to go through.”
The Immortal Bai looked at the Underworld illuminated by the river of fire as though she were looking at the human world.
“If we want to change the old world into a new world, the sacrifice of some is inevitable.”
The cloud and fog had disappeared under the golden light, and the figure in the cloud and fog had vanished without a trace.
In a few moments, the Immortal Tan’s broad forehead added many more deep wrinkles, as if he had grown much older.
He drew back the Pagoda of Suppressing Devils and spat out a mouthful of fresh blood.
Everybody thought that the Immortal Bai was dead and that the Immortal Tan had paid a price for killing the Immortal Bai or he suffered a mental breakdown because of it.
Few people heard what Jing Jiu said.
Yet, the Immortal Tan heard it. He shot a glance at Jing Jiu without saying anything; then, he turned around and leapt into the sky and onto the cloud boat of the Center Sect.
The cloud boats set off and left Tianguang Peak, heading toward the north in the starry sky.
Because of what had happened tonight, the Center Sect would have a major internal conflict and be embroiled in a turmoil. The most the Cultivation practitioners of the Center Sect could do at the moment was remain silent since they all thought that the Immortal Bai was dead and the Immortal Tan was still alive.
Seeing the few cloud boats of the Center Sect become the dark specks in the starry sky, the Cultivation practitioners of various sects had many complicated emotions.
“This is it for today,” said Jing Jiu.
The rain had ceased a long time ago. His statement was not meant to keep the guests on the peak. The Cultivation practitioners of various sects came before Tianguang Peak in tandem, and left after bowing to him.
The Kunlun Sect and the sects in the north were the first ones to leave, followed by other small Cultivation sects. The Fruit Formation Temple, the Great Marsh, the Hanging-Bell Sect and the Mirror Sect that were on good terms with Green Mountain were the last ones to leave. Jing Yao wished to stay behind; but Jing Jiu waved his hand dismissively. State Duke Lu could tell that he was in a bad mood; so he led the Emperor on their way back to Zhaoge City hastily.
Que Niang stood by the cliff’s edge while holding Zhao Layue’s elbow; she didn’t leave along with her colleagues of the Mirror Sect.
The grave voice of the Chief Nun of the Water-Moon Nunnery came out from the small green curtain sedan, “What on earth has happened?”
“I don’t know,” said Jing Jiu.
The small green curtain sedan drifted up in the air, heading toward the east under the starlight.
The Green Mountain disciples were the only ones left around Tianguang Peak.
Led by the Immortal Guangyuan, the elders and disciples of the nine peaks bowed to the ground and said in unison, “Greetings, the Immortal Sect Master.”
“Let’s disperse now,” said Jing Jiu.
He meant that everybody should go back to their peaks.
Chi Yan approached him and said hesitantly, “Immortal Sect Master…”
The crowd remembered by now that Shangde Peak had been leveled by the Fairy Lady Bai Ren; as such, where would the disciples of Shangde Peak go?
All the gazes fell on the site in the distance.
It had been a cold peak covered in the accumulated snow all year long; what had been left in its place was a black ground.
The starlight shone on the peaks as well as on that place, adding a layer of snowy color to it.
The scenery and objects, when not being insulated by the Great Formation of Green Mountain, looked so close and real; it was hard for the disciples of Green Mountain to get used to.
“How about allowing the colleagues of Shangde Peak to rest at the Sword-Washing Hall for the time being? We can discuss the matter tomorrow.”
Gu Qing said this after he walked to the rear of Jing Jiu, trying his best to overcome his own injury.
“Do it then.”
Jing Jiu threw the silvery whip in his hand to the foot of Tianguang Peak.
The silvery whip landed among the peaks and transformed back to the Sword-Washing Stream.
A crisp “pah” sound burst out faintly amid the plopping sound of the stream water, as though a whip had lashed onto a hard object.
The surprised voice of Nan Wang suddenly broke out on the top of Tianguang Peak, “What’s wrong with you?”
The crowd followed her line of sight and looked in that direction; they couldn’t help but feel astonished.
A bloody line appeared on Jing Jiu’s earlobe, which was on the brink of cracking open.
The “pah” noise came from his earlobe.
A drop of blood oozed slowly out of the bloody line, looking like a red tear shed by a beauty who had just left her parents.
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