Book 16 Chapter 10 - Forgot How to Smile

A Purgatory Mountain troop consisting of several dozen red robed Divine Adjudicators and two Flame Titans pulled a giant imperial carriage over Thousand Sunset Mountain, entering South Tomb Province’s territory.

For the sake of not being too horrifying, the two Flame Titans wore specially made black cloaks, only their eyes exposed. From the outside, they only looked like two large giants.

What left the Yunqin cultivators and soldiers who were watching secretly from the side in confusion was that once these Purgatory Mountain red robed Divine Adjudicators entered South Tomb Province, they changed clothes. Even though they only seemed even more blood red amidst the white snow, the patterns on these red robes were no longer flames, but rather the patterns of eight-armed devil kings.

All of the red robed Divine Adjudicators were always in an orderly formation in front and behind the giant imperial carriage, not leaving even a single step from this fleet, nor did they converse with any Yunqin people. They always took paths that avoided towns and cities as much as possible, not taking the main paths. However, the Yunqin soldiers and cultivators who were vigilantly observing them in secret discovered with alarm that some of the villagers began to follow this troop, and their numbers were getting larger and larger.

What left Yunqin’s cultivators and soldiers in even greater shock and confusion was that the people who rushed over didn’t seem to be Great Mang’s spies or Purgatory Mountain cultivators, but rather almost all ordinary Yunqin people!

This Purgatory Mountain fleet remained silent the entire time, the movements of these red robed Divine Adjudicators extremely fast… However, in this world covered in ice and snow, those ordinary Yunqin people seemed to have become devout believers, actually able to keep up with this fleet, moreover always following respectfully several li out, not daring to cause this Purgatory Mountain troop trouble.

Ceng Rou sat within a wooden house in East Scenery City’s Natural Course Temple.

During East Scenery, Harmony Splendor and Meteor City’s battles, he was already East Scenery City’s highest level garrison commander. After Gu Yunjing left this world, he already became this South Tomb Province military’s number two figure, holding absolute authority in this southern border pass.

After East Scenery City experienced snowfall, he would often come to this Natural Course Temple, watch as the daoists of this temple leisurely made dried fruits and fermented yellow wine.

What was in front of him right now was a plate of salt dipped dried fruits and a pot of old yellow wine whose seal had just been removed.

The yellow wine gradually became warm in the iron pot.

A wave of rushed footsteps already arrived at the entrance. It was to the extent where the door wasn’t even knocked on before a middle-aged high ranking officer whose black armor was completely covered in white snowflakes pushed it open, bringing a wave of cold wind with him as he arrived in front of Ceng Rou, saying nervously, “Purgatory Mountain’s troop has already arrived outside Harmony Splendor.”

Ceng Rou slowly raised his head. He looked at this subordinate of his, not a trace of nervous or anxious expression on his face. However, there was a hint of displeasure. “What are you in such a rush for? Even the wine is about to be blown cold.”

After Thousand Leaf Pass’ distinguished meeting, at the very least, the southern border military already reached a type of tacit agreement with Green Luan Academy. However, most of the soldiers did this out of their admiration and respect for Lin Xi and other Yunqin cultivators’ deeds. That was why for Ceng Rou, it was best if he turned a blind eye to this type of thing, just pretend as if he didn’t know about it, neither side helping each other out. This way, there wouldn’t be any trouble or conflict.

This middle-aged man who had followed Ceng Rou for many years understood Ceng Rou’s intentions extremely clearly. However, when he heard Ceng Rou’s annoyed words at this time, he instead revealed a bitter smile, explaining, “General… the number of people following Purgatory Mountain’s troop really is a bit too many. You’ll understand if you take a look.”

When he heard these words from his subordinate, Ceng Rou’s annoyance quickly disappeared. He didn’t say anything else, only opening an umbrella, putting on a coat, and then he began to quickly move like a rock skipping on a water surface, arriving at the city wall corner towers even earlier than his subordinate’s fast horse.

Under the city tower’s snow, even without the Brass Hawkeye, Ceng Rou could clearly see that procession heading in East Scenery City’s direction, that troop that seemed like they were going to make a detour around East Scenery City’s west.

His brows couldn’t help but furrow, his calm expression becoming filled with a true expression of shock.

Even though the Purgatory Mountain troop at the very front still consisted of the dozens of red robed Divine Adjudicators, not showing a sliver of change, the number of people who followed behind them already passed a thousand.

If it was over a thousand Great Mang Guard Army, it wouldn’t be much in his eyes, but these thousand people were all ordinary Yunqin people!

Just what exactly happened that made so many ordinary Yunqin people follow behind Purgatory Mountain’s troop?

Moreover, this Purgatory Mountain troop only passed through half of South Tomb Province’s sparsely populated regions.

Following his rushed footsteps, that subordinate arrived at his side again. He gave that troop moving through the wind and snow another look, and then asked in a low and grave voice, “General, if we continue to let this troop advance like this, the people who follow behind them might increase several times. If something unexpected happens, then the situation might get out of hand… Should we do something?”

Ceng Rou thought for a bit, and then coldly said, “I’ll go and take a look by myself.”

This subordinate didn’t oppose this. However, right when Ceng Rou began to move, he cried out in alarm, “General, they stopped.”

Ceng Rou stared blankly for a moment. He turned around and looked outwards, but only saw that under the contrast of over a thousand Yunqin ordinary people, this troop that seemed increasingly mysterious already completely stopped, stopping in front of a pavilion by the road.

Ceng Rou suddenly thought of something. He raised his head to look towards the sky. He saw that several streaks of faint yellow radiance were currently rapidly descending from the vast skies.

“It has nothing to do with us anymore.”

Ceng Rou took a deep breath. He quietly said to his own subordinate, “As for why things are like this, Lin Xi will definitely give us an explanation.”

The heavy giant imperial carriage stopped, no longer grinding against the ice and snow.

Zhang Ping who seemed to be sleeping in the giant imperial carriage slowly raised his lowered head.

All of the Purgatory Mountain red robed Divine Adjudicators began to disperse, leaving this giant imperial carriage. Then, they brought out tent-like objects connected through fine metal poles. In an instant, many cowhide-like thin scarlet red metal sheets joined together, actually surrounding the giant imperial carriage and forming a shrine.

All of the red robed Divine Adjudicators finally released a breath of relief, starting to walk further and further away. Only when they were several li out, did they set up waterproof bedding and rest.

The long banners to the sides of the giant imperial carriage curled up. While Zhang Ping looked at this scarlet shrine that was temporarily set up, this outstanding workmanship of Purgatory Mountain’s excellent craftsmen that didn’t even let any snow get in, there wasn’t the slightest hint of praise. This shrine could block the snow falling from the sky, but it couldn’t stop the snow drifting in his heart.

He promised that he would cross Thousand Sunset Mountain before it was covered in snow.

He truly tried to do this, yet this year, Thousand Sunset Mountain was sealed up many days earlier than past years.

That was why even though he entered Yunqin as planned, in reality, he only crossed Thousand Sunset Mountain after the snow completely sealed it up. Did this still count as going against his promise?

Lin Xi got off the Divine Wooden Flying Crane that descended in front of this metal shrine.

He knew that Purgatory Mountain had things that could discover and track these Divine Wooden Flying Cranes, which was why Zhang Ping definitely knew about their arrival ahead of time.

The metal shrine in front of him wasn’t all that grand, but for it to be established instantly was already shocking enough, just like a miracle.

The pious Yunqin commoners in the distance, behind this shrine, were also shocking enough, giving off a mysterious metal pressure.

Lin Xi also felt like this shrine that was quickly pieced together was extremely shocking. Those Yunqin common people who mysteriously appeared also left him shocked and puzzled. However, before he entered this metal shrine, he still smiled towards all of the academy youngsters behind him and said, “What are you all being so serious for… should we ask Zhang Ping to invite us all in for some roast meat in a bit?”

Jiang Xiaoyi and the others began to laugh.

Everyone understood Lin Xi’s intentions… Regardless of what type of identity Zhang Ping returned with, regardless of what kind of appearance he returned with, Lin Xi would always view him as a fellow student, considering this a meeting between friends.

Zhang Ping heard Lin Xi say this from within the giant imperial carriage.

He thought for a bit, and then stood up, walking out.

The shrine couldn’t be considered big, but as the red robed Divine Adjudicators left, this shrine became increasingly peaceful. The strange monotonous and metal color made this place seem exceptionally cold and grim.

Lin Xi, Qin Xiyue and the others walked in.

Inside this cold and grim metal shrine, these reuniting academy youngsters didn’t have much smiles on their faces.

Lin Xi looked at Zhang Ping who was dressed in Purgatory Mountain’s Patriarch divine robes, not moving at all, and then walked up. He patted Zhang Ping’s shoulder and said seriously, “Since you already came back, then relax a bit. We’ve finally made it past so much already. Now that we are all meeting again, if you continue to be this serious, even if I feel happy, I wouldn’t be able to smile…”

Zhang Ping nodded. He didn’t immediately say anything, instead returning to the giant imperial carriage, sitting down in an extremely weary manner.

“I understand.”

Only after sitting down, did he look at Lin Xi and everyone else. He began to speak in a difficult and slow manner, “Only, after staying in Purgatory Mountain for so long, I’ve already forgotten how to smile.”

This sentence left everyone in silence.

“We already won after all.” Lin Xi knew that comforting words would do much right now. He also walked up the giant imperial carriage, sitting down in front of Zhang Ping.

Jiang Xiaoyi and the others exchanged a look, and then they all got onto the giant imperial carriage as well. It was as if they were surrounding that past bonfire, casually sitting down.

“Are your injuries serious?” Lin Xi looked at Zhang Ping, asking quietly, “Do they need any urgent care?”

Zhang Ping slowly shook his head. “They were extremely serious before, but I’ve already stuck it through.”

Lin Xi nodded. He couldn’t help but turn his head to look at Qin Xiyue. However, he then realized something, thus forcefully holding back. After that conversation in that valley, he who understood Qin Xiyue’s intentions knew that he couldn’t force his own wishes onto Qin Xiyue.

“Everything will slowly improve, you will slowly adapt again.” As such, he revealed a sincere smile. He looked at Zhang Ping and said quietly, “Since you came back, what kind of plans do you have?”

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