The Underworld Emperor of course wanted to leave the Fiend Prison, to get out of here, and to return to his world.
However, he was fully aware that if he walked into the darkness without any help from others, he would drift in the river of time forever.
That patch of dark cloud followed him to the broken cliff. The bell rang now and then, giving out a crisp sound and a charming bolt of lightning.
The mosquitoes of the Fiend Prison also came to the vicinity; but they didn't dare get closer for fear of the thunder.
The Underworld Emperor pulled back his sight and looked at those barely visible mosquitoes, remaining silent for a long time; he finally he made up his mind.
The moment he made the decision, the flowing light in his body sped up significantly, and the energy in his body had also gotten a lot stronger.
It was in the middle of winter. A snowstorm had just occurred in Zhaoge City.
Thanks to the protection of the formation, the accumulated snow in the city was not very thick; and no residential house had collapsed due to the weight of snow. But all this couldn't lessen the pitiful existence of those who didn't believe that the Cultivation practitioners were real. They wore thin cotton clothes and scolded the crowd with the outraged faces. The farmers who came in from outside the city due to the natural disaster and the refugees who traveled here from the north were the best proof that there was no such a thing as a Cultivation practitioner as far as they were concerned.
The people in the Royal Palace were naturally not affected by the snowstorm and the refugees, and they were still enjoying their comfortable lives as usual. Yet, the favored Royal Concubine Hu, who enjoyed staying under her warm quilt in the morning, couldn't do that lately, because her son Jing Yao had to get up every day before dawn to practice the strides and boxing moves outside the window.
No matter how careless she usually was, she couldn't find an excuse to stay in the bed when her son was exercising outside.
Seeing Jing Yao stand in the snow deeper than his shoes with a slightly red face and trembling legs, full of tears in his eyes, Royal Concubine Hu felt a great pain in her heart. She gripped a corner of the sleeve tightly to restrain herself from calling the maidservant to bring Jing Yao back in the room; but it didn't prevent her from calling Gu Qing all sorts of names in her mind. Should a child younger than four years old suffer so much from this sort of daily training?
"Mister Gu is here."
Hearing the announcement from the maidservant, the angry countenance disappeared immediately from Royal Concubine Hu's face. She approached Gu Qing with a warm smile, curtsying.
Gu Qing returned the courtesy, and said, "No need for the courtesy, Your Highness."
A crushing sound suddenly occurred outside the window, and the surprised cry of the old maidservant was heard next. It should be that Jing Yao had fallen down.
Royal Concubine Hu's heart skipped a beat, and she couldn't stand it any longer and said with a forced smile, "The Immortal Master Jing Jiu said that Jing Yao only needed to learn reading in the first few years, not cultivating. Should you…"
"The second prince is very smart. He knows when to fall down."
Royal Concubine Hu calmed down after Gu Qing said this. Gu Qing continued, "My Master instructed me clearly about it. He is not cultivating right now, merely doing some conditioning work. It was said that Senior Master Zhao began her physical conditioning at age of two back when she was in Zhaoge City. In comparison, the second prince is already one and half years late."
Though Royal Concubine Hu couldn't say anything to refute Gu Qing, she thought in her mind that a Cultivation practitioner as weird as Zhao Layue was the rarest of her kind in all of Chaotian.
Yet, what Gu Qing said was true. The second prince was still young, not yet at the age for cultivating. What Gu Qing taught him every day was the lessons in the books and some basic self-control skills.
The self-control included the control of emotions and desires, and more importantly…the control of intelligence.
Jing Yao was still quite young, meaning it was harder for him to understand the importance of intelligence control for future Cultivation.
Royal Concubine Hu was intelligent enough to understand the deep meaning of this training.
Every day Gu Qing entered the palace before dawn and left the palace after dusk. It was quite tiring for him, so he was in no mood to explain his teaching arrangement to her.
The smart kid had one important trait: he knew who was in charge. As such, Jing Yao had behaved obediently in front of Gu Qing later on.
One day after dusk Gu Qing headed outside of the palace as usual, nodding to the known eunuchs and maidservants on his way out.
The people in the palace were accustomed to the existence of his immortal master of Green Mountain; and those cautious kings and chancellors stopped discussing the matter, at the very least on the surface.
The low profile that Gu Qing had kept meant that the Green Mountain Sect didn't have any intention of utterly changing the current situation in the palace.
As he walked out of the palace gate, the cold wind, without the protection of the formation, struck his face like a hammer.
Gu Qing was of course not afraid of the coldness; but he wondered how terrible it would be outside the city, since it was already so cold in Zhaoge City.
On the way from the Royal Palace to Taichang Temple, Gu Qing was still pondering this issue; if he were an official of the imperial court, what would he do? Should he ask Green Mountain for help?
It was beyond the Cultivation practitioner's ability to resist the power of heaven and earth. Yet, something like the snow disaster outside Zhaoge City could be mitigated by a few elders of the Broken Sea State working in cooperation.
It didn't take long for Gu Qing to reach the conclusion.
Though even if he asked for help, those elders on Green Mountain wouldn't lend a helping hand, and not even the Immortal Sect Master and the Sword Justice couldn't force them to do so.
Incidents of life and death happened all the time in the mortal world. It was senseless to suspend their Cultivation to help mitigate natural disasters as far as these Cultivation practitioners were concerned.
Otherwise, why would those officials who hailed from the Center Sect behave so calmly?
Even the Fruit Formation Temple and the One Cottage-House had merely sent some of their doctor monks and scholars to the outskirts of the city to help treat the victims of the disaster; but they didn't do anything beforehand.
Of course, the Cultivation practitioners had their own reason against doing so. It was because they thought that if they tried to interfere with the operation of heaven and earth, they would be punished by the very rules of nature.
However, what the Cultivation practitioners were doing was actually against the natural rules; otherwise, why would they encounter heavenly mishaps during their ascension?
Why would anyone want to cultivate if they feared punishment?
Gu Qing wasn't worrying about the lives of mortals; it was just that he had left Green Mountain for half a year, so he had learned some of the secular way of thinking as he stayed in Zhaoge City, and he simply couldn't help but feel as he did sometimes.
Well, he was just thinking about is all!
This is what he thought to himself.
Otherwise, it would be too boring to walk to Taichang Temple from the palace, since he couldn't ride his sword.
Thinking of these matters, Gu Qing came to the entrance to the alley of the Jing House. It was then that he was stopped by someone.
This person was Xiang Wanshu, the disciple of the Center Sect.
Gu Qing and Xiang Wanshu had met a few times, and they had even treaded together in the snowland, so they were acquaintances. Gu Qing remembered vaguely that he was the personal disciple of the Immortal Center Sect Master. Yet, since he suddenly appeared here, Gu Qing couldn't help but be alarmed at his presence. "Why have you come here?" Gu Qing asked.
Xiang Wanshu was aware of why Gu Qing was alarmed, saying with a bitter smile, "I know this is your Master's home, so I should stay away from it. Now that you have been staying in the palace all day long, I have no choice but to wait for you here. I had no idea when we could meet face to face."
"What do you seek me for?" Gu Qing asked.
"I invite you to have dinner with me," Xiang Wanshu said seriously.
What the Cultivation practitioners aimed at was a peaceful mind and to be rid of the mortal customs. After they learned to fast, they seldom ate food, except for those devil men of the deviant sects, who did not curb their desires.
The invitation of eating dinner was an excuse for a private talk.
There was an Immortal House by the White Horse Lake. The two of them entered the house, went up to a room facing the lake on the top floor and sat in their respective seats.
The immortal masters usually disliked hotpots, and had no need for any delicious dishes. Fruits were good enough for them.
Yet, those fruits were the special produce grown on the spiritual source, so they were not cheap.
Xiang Wanshu thought of a matter and asked incomprehensively, "The Gu Clan is quite wealthy in Nanhezhou, so your clan must have houses in Zhaoge City; why do you have to stay in the Jing House?"
Gu Qing said, "No matter how wealthy the Gu Clan is, there is no way for us to compare to your Xiang Clan in Middle State; so you'll pay for the dinner."
Xiang Wanshu said with a laugh, "I heard that currently you are in charge of all the affairs on Shenmo Peak. I didn't believe it when I first heard of it. Now I believe it's true."
Gu Qing said while smiling, "If you meant to say that I'm a better business man than a Cultivation practitioner, just say it."
Xiang Wanshu shook his head as he said, "You are now the teacher of the second prince, and maybe someday you would be the teacher of the emperor. I can't say anything disrespectful."
He had touched upon the main topic.