Qingcheng Mountain was located in the Northern Song, about 1,000 miles away from Lin’an, the capital of Northern Song.
Qingcheng Mountain took up an area with a radius of 1,000 miles. The mountains there were majestic and tranquilized, covered by flourishing forests that were evergreen. The hills lined in a circle, making it look like a city in the distance, that was how it had gotten the name Qingcheng—the green city. Several thousand staircases wound up to the top. The trail was exceptionally serene. Sitting on the top of the main mountain was the Qingcheng Taoist Abbey. It was built on the Suspending Mountain, so ordinary men could hardly access it. Only martial arts experts and the white apes and cranes in Qingcheng Mountain could tramp over hill and dale and reach the Qingcheng Taoist Abbey on the Suspending Mountain.
The Qingcheng Taoist Abbey was a sacred place for martial arts practice in Northern Song. It was as important as the Guanshan Prairie in Western Qin.
As one of the top nine Holy Clans, the Qingcheng Taoist Abbey was quite crucial for the Northern Song, though it might not be as influential in the military and political affairs as the Guanshan Prairie was for Western Qin because it seldom meddled in secular affairs under the non-interference principle it pursued. The abbey had helped the people in Northern Song through many critical stages. When troubled times came, the Taoists in Qingcheng Taoist Abbey would go out of the mountain area to see the world, while in peaceful times, they would live secluded in the deserted mountains. Thus, in the eyes of numerous practitioners in Northern Song, it was the Holy Land of martial arts, as well as the Holy Land of the Taoism on the entire Divine Land.
The abbot of Qingcheng Taoist Abbey was Dao Chongyang. He had been acknowledged as the master of the Taoism, the number one Taoist in the world.
The heads of the top nine Holy Clans on the Divine Land were all superb masters who overawed the world. Their words were the laws of the world, and so people called them the Nine Superbs in the World.
Dao Chongyang was one of the Nine Superbs.
Given that he was known as the Taoism Master, it was easy to imagine what kind of realm his strength and cultivation had reached. During the past three centuries, he had been the indisputable number one practitioner in Northern Song all the time. Even though he had shut himself in closed-door training for two centuries and always laid low and lived the life of a retreat, no one else had ever succeeded in challenging his position.
But lately, the Taoist Master, who had kept a low key for two centuries, had decided to leave the mountains to challenge Li Poyue, who was also one of the Nine Superbs in the World. That piece of news truly threw the masses in astonishment and disbelief.
Any of the Nine Superbs in the World was a figure that could affect the fate of an empire. In the past millennium, none of them had publicly challenged one another.
Because the Nine Superbs were the nine pillars that supported the heavens.
No matter which one of them broke, the heavens might lose its balance and soon collapse.
After all, a slight move in one part may affect the overall situation.
That was known to anyone in that world.
For that matter, the Nine Superbs seldom fought one another.
Even if they had some conflicts, they preferred to settle their disputes through civil means or a duel in secret. For example, in the first case, the two parties would send out one of their disciples, respectively, and let their disciples battle it out on behalf of themselves. In the second case, the two opposing sides would have a restricted duel in private in which either party must stop at where it should. Hence, there was no precedent for one of the Nine Superbs rolling up his sleeves to confront another.
However, the gauntlet Dao Chongyang had thrown down to Li Poyue had been publicized. And he had made it clear that the duel would decide which one earned the victory as well as the opportunity to live on.
He had said the ‘opportunity to live on’!
That meant one of the Nine Superbs would be killed in the duel.
The news swept across the Divine Land like a hurricane.
And it troubled a lot of people.
What on earth has given rise to such a desperate duel between the two Superbs?
Doesn’t it forebode the Divine Land, which has maintained the balance of power over 1,000 years, will be facing more havoc?
Many people hoped to stop the duel that came out of the blue.
In the meantime, many others were smirking, whooping, and jumping in joy in the dark, for they could not wait for another mayhem to come.
In Qingcheng Mountain…
The mountain area was perfectly quiet. Only the falling leaves could make a sound.
Since ancient times, the area had been famous for its tranquility. Surely, it was a very peaceful and secluded place.
The Suspending Mountain was surrounded by high mountains, lofty ranges, and breath-taking precipices. It was a mountain suspending 1,000 meters over the horizon, which was one of the wonders of the world as well as a blessed place. Qingcheng Taoist Abbey was on the top of the mountain. It looked like a dwelling of immortals.
Qingcheng Taoist Abbey consisted of 38 halls.
The hall Dao Chongyang resided in was called Scarlet Town, which sat at the highest spot on the Suspending Mountain.
Dao Chongyang, clad in an unadorned cyan Taoist robe, was standing on the top of the staircases at the door of Scarlet Town while overlooking rows of temples, flights of stairs, and patches of wood in the distance. His face looked benign, his eyes unfocused. A horsetail whisk was draped around his elbow, the silver tails hanging there like a silver cascade. Dao Chongyang was tall and lean, his shoulders wide but waist slim. He looked merely in his thirties. His complexion was fair, his brows and whisks black, his eyes slender and slanted upwards, which resembled a pair of phoenix eyes. His nose was straight, and his mouth was wide, giving him a quite graceful and cultivated bearing. He simply stood motionlessly, as if he had melted into the background.
“Master, you really have put your foot down?” inquired a young Taoist around twenty. He gently trod his way over to his master in a grey Taoist robe and a pair of cloud-patterned shoes. He looked quite apprehensive as if he was attempting to talk his master out of something.
The young Taoist had sleek brows and bright eyes. His skin was fair and smooth, like suet or jade. He was extraordinarily handsome, wrapped in a vigorous aura.
“The heavens’ design has been unveiled. It’s time to do it.” Dao Chongyang spoke emotionally. “After 1,000 years’ preparation, they are ready, and so are we. Everyone’s patience is running out. They can’t wait for too long. The young Sage-to-be has emerged. This world is going to change.”
“Master, please allow me to accompany you,” pleaded the young Taoist. “Guanshan Master is in the Western Qin, and a man titled Lord Taibai also appeared there…”
Dao Chongyang smiled and turned around to face him. “Dao Zhen, you think too light of the heroes in the world. Li Poyue won’t want to scrape the victory by outnumbering me.”
“Even so…” The young Taoist called Dao Zhen attempted to say more.
However, Dao Chongyang cut him off. “The millennium change is around the corner. Even the top nine Holy Clans cannot prevent it. We have to deal with it head-on… Not to mention that after I set off, the Suspending Mountain may not be safe like before. You need to stay here, safeguard what we’ve achieved for our Qingcheng Mountain. When there is no alternative, pass the abbot title on to one from the younger generation and keep going. Bear that in mind.” Dao Chongyang’s tone was surprisingly soaked in grief.
“Master…” Dao Zhen called, the skin around his eyes turning red.
His master had stayed on the top of the mountain for two centuries. But the first time he had decided to climb down the mountain after two centuries, all that had waited for him was a life-and-death challenge.
Dao Zhen was well aware of the opponent his master was facing.
“Silly boy, don’t sink in your feelings,” Dao Chongyang remarked with a congenial look. He unfolded his palm. A green pine needle appeared. Then, as it flashed, it transformed into a green, ancient-looking sword with pine patterns. “From now on, this Green Mountain Pine-Patterned Sword is yours. I hope this sword can demonstrate its glory in your hands,” he said.
“Master!” Dao Zhen cried. He was getting more and more uneasy.
The Green Mountain Pine-Patterned Sword was the most precious treasure in the Qingcheng Mountain, a famous Taoist instrument in the world. It was ranked top five on the Divine Land’s Rarest Treasures List. Only the master of Qingcheng Mountain or the Taoism Master were qualified to carry it. But just a moment ago, Dao Zhen had been granted that sword by his master. Well, that gave Dao Zhen the impression that his master would truly not return once he set off, for he was clearly making his last arrangements.
“Master, things can easily go awry during your fight with the Guanshan Master. With this sword at hand, you will stand a better chance against him. I think…” Dao Zhen declined that offer, his eyes already brimming with tears.
Dao Chongyang shook his head dismissively and said, “For the Nine Superbs, even the most precious treasures in the world are of no use. My fate is decided by me and the heavens, but not external objects.”
With that, he turned around and swiftly flew down the mountain.
“Master…” Dao Zhen called out. Rooted in the spot at the stone stairs in front of the Scarlet Town Hall, he watched his master leap from one cloud to another and vanish into the distant sky in the blink of an eye. He felt devastated despite himself. Holding the Green Mountain Pine-Patterned Sword in both hands, he knew he could not take one step down the stone stairs even though he was dying to follow his master.
Dao Zhen had grown up as an orphan. By that time, he was still clueless about his parents. Years ago, he had been picked up by a crane in the mountains when he was a baby sleeping in a cradle and carried to the front door of the Scarlet Town Hall. Out of sympathy, Dao Chongyang had taken him in as his direct disciple. Although he had not turned out to be the most talented or the most perceptive disciple, nor had he been the one who progressed fastest, Dao Chongyang had always thought highly of him and encouraged him. In the end, he had even passed on the most precious Green Mountain Pine-Patterned Sword to him.
That clearly told him that he had been chosen as the next abbot of the Qingcheng Taoist Abbey in Qingcheng Mountain.
But Dao Zhen even had not had a chance to pay his master back for bringing him up.
At the Guanshan Prairie…
In front of a shabby hut, Qiu Yin, the Broadsword Man, was sitting cross-legged on the ground, his face haggard, his eyes bloodshot.
Opposite of him was a smart-looking young man who was wearing a smile. Stars seemed to be rising and falling in his large and bright eyes, which also looked like two bottomless dark wells. The young man merely gazed at Qiu Yin in silence.
“Master, I… I failed,” admitted Qiu Yin with an ashamed look. He had put himself through closed-door training for five whole days and five whole nights, but he still had not comprehended that much as his master required. By then, there was no time left for him to waste on it. For the first time in his life, Qiu Yin blamed himself for his incompetence.
The good-looking young man was precisely Li Poyue, the Guanshan Master. He was a legendary man in the current martial arts society in the Western Qin as well as one of the Nine Superbs in the World.
“Your mind is disturbed. That’s why you can’t make it,” Li Poyue said gently, not disappointed by the bottleneck his disciple could not overcome. He got to his feet and strolled out of the yard. Then, step by step, he walked on thin air and headed up to the sky.
Qiu Yin stood up, too. He scurried after his master as he swallowed back the words on the tip of his tongue.
In a trice, the two arrived in the void. They overlooked the Guanshan Prairie below, comparing it to an impeccable piece of jade inlaid in the territory of the Western Qin Empire.
“Your heart is running wild on the vast prairie. I know it. You have made an appointment with your two sworn brothers. Go to meet them,” said Li Poyue understandingly. “Once entrusted, forever accountable. Wranglers on our Guanshan Prairie should not eat their words. Even if the world is about to come to an end, you ought to fulfill your promise. Delaying this for a couple of days is not a big deal. They are supposed to just arrive in the prairie after all.”
“But…” said Qiu Yin hesitantly.
He had always been true to his words and not once failed to keep a promise. Yet, due to an event that had been even more horrible than the world coming to an end had just occurred, he had not only missed the appointment but also had not had the time to notify Li Mu and Guo Yuqing about his absence. Two days had passed since their agreed date to meet. Nevertheless, Qiu Yin still had scruples on leaving his master behind to meet his sworn brothers. Because a storm was about to befall Guanshan City.
Li Poyue smiled at him and urged him. “Just go. You can’t make that breakthrough for now, as your karma has not arrived so far. It is right on the vast prairie.”
Still, Qiu Yin was uncertain about that. “But in Guanshan City…” he muttered. Only he knew the turbulence that had been subdued temporarily would sure surface once his master went out for the duel and left the Guanshan City without a leader. When that time came, the foundation of the Guanshan Prairie might also be thrown off balance.
“What will come will come. If we can’t retain this piece of jade, just let it be shattered.” Li Poyue remarked as he looked down at the center of the Guanshan Prairie, where the well-known Guanshan City was, but his eyes showed no trace of sorrow. Then, he heaved with a sigh and added, “Look at the prairie. How beautiful it is! But Guanshan City just has to stand in the heart of it, spoiling the purity of nature. We might do better without it.”
Qiu Yin was stupefied.
Eventually, on account of Li Poyue’s repeated urges, Qiu Yin headed for the vast prairie in the east.
“I would be happier to have a fine drink when I am alive than to be famous after I die,” said Li Poyue dreamily as he ambled on the cloud. At last, the figure in white long robes disappeared into the cloud.
That was the day when two of the Nine Superbs in the World—the Guanshan Master and the Taoism Master—finally came out of their closed-door training.
You’re reading Chapter 331 – A Taoist’s Departure From the Mountains on readnovels.co. Wish you happy reading! Follow more great stories at action novel.