Sending the Divine

Sending the Divine

Chapter 65 - The Gap

As the sun set, the four of them checked into a small inn near Yongsheng.

This time, Shi Jingzhi didn't procrastinate. He called Yan Qing and Su Si over and recounted the tragic events that had occurred in the temple in great detail.

Yan Qing was in possession of the Compassion Stone Sword and was feeling quite good. Even if he had to suddenly leave the mountain, he would only think that Sect Leader Shi had a sudden inspiration and had to rush off to do something.

But when he heard the news of Abbot Juefei's death, Yan Qing stood frozen in place, his eyes turning red in an instant.

Abbot Juefei was only in his fifties and still in his prime, while Yan Qing was just in his early twenties. To young people like him, a master like Abbot Juefei was like an unshakable wall.

Even if it was twenty or thirty years later, Abbot Juefei should still be smiling at Jianchen Temple.

"I...I wanted to..." Yan Qing started but couldn't continue.

What did he want to do? Yin Ci remained silent.

Among the group, Yan Qing had the deepest connection with Monk Juefei. Was he thinking of making a name for himself with the stone sword in the jianghu and earning praise from the chubby monk? Or was he thinking of doing good deeds and visiting Juefei to repay his karmic debt?

Whatever decision Yan Qing had secretly made, it was destined to have no outcome.

In the end, Yan Qing didn't say anything. He tightly pursed his lips, put down his Compassion Stone Sword, and quickly left the guest room alone.

In contrast, Su Si remained surprisingly calm. He didn't chase after Yan Qing but watched him leave.

Su Si sat up straight and said in a proper manner, "San-zi may not think too much, but I have something to ask."

Shi Jingzhi showed no surprise and asked, "Ask away."

"Ten years ago, Abbot Juefei was cursed by someone. The sect leader deduced that Jianchen Temple was the main target of the culprit, and I agree. Although you haven't told Jianchen Temple yet, I guess the sect leader knows what the curse is."

Shi Jingzhi remained silent.

Su Si weakly smiled and said, "Two roots are connected, and they live and die together. If poisoned, the blood will carry the poison and cause death. If burned, the blood will carry the fire and cause death. We saw the Twin Roots not long ago, didn't we?"

He had explained it back in Yuanxian Village. As a former heir of the Red Hook Sect, Su Si had encountered many things he should and shouldn't have learned.

The Twin Roots were evil objects that could be broken by the Buddha's Heart Incense, which dispels evil and focuses the mind.

As the Abbot was seeing off his guests, he came in contact with the Buddha's Heart incense touched him, causing a reaction in the demon root within his body. The culprit could use this to their advantage, using different killing methods based on who his guest was from thousands of miles away - sword qi piercing the heart, inner strength shattering bones, or even the scorching flames of the Yang fire.

With the setting of the Buddha's Heart Formation, the culprit could kill both Juefei and Juehui, regardless of whether the guests were from the Ku Mountain Sect or not.

When Shi Jingzhi killed Zheng Fengdao in a high-profile manner and headed to Huilian Mountain, the entire martial arts world knew about it. The culprit had planned ahead of time, and it was not difficult to do so.

At first glance, it seemed that the Ku Mountain Sect was just being used as a pawn, but...

"But the timing is just too strange," murmured Su Si, gripping the handle of his flesh-cutting knife tightly.

"The key to sending guests off with the Buddha's Heart incense is to activate the Buddha's Heart Formation. The formation has not been activated for a hundred years, but this time it was activated because the 'Woodless Sutra' has returned...and for the 'Woodless Sutra' to return, the Ghost Tomb must be broken."

"Why did the culprit know ten years ago that the Ghost Tomb would be discovered within Abbot Juefei's lifespan and destined to be broken? And how did they know that during the three-month Scripture Washing period, someone would definitely come up the mountain to see the Abbot? Moreover, the culprit's framing makes it clear that they're too well-informed about the situation of Jianchen Temple and Ku Mountain Sect..."

Su Si's face grew paler as he spoke.

If his speculation was true, then this move was already set in motion when Master Juefei became the Abbot over a decade ago. The culprit waited for the Ghost Tomb to resurface and for chaos to erupt in the jianghu, then took advantage of the situation to uproot Jianchen Temple which was a stabilising force...

Could a mortal accomplish such a thing?

"Sect Leader Shi, you still have the Immortal Sect's prohibition on you. What exactly is..."

"Enough, Su Si. You're overthinking things. There's no such exaggerated conspiracy in the world."

Shi Jingzhi showed a comforting and peaceful expression.

"Abbot Juefei doesn't come down the mountain, but will still receive guests a few times a year. As long as the culprit handled the information well, they can kill during the meeting. Using the Buddha's Heart incense may just be a red herring to throw more chaos into this mystery.

"Ten years ago, I was just a seventeen-year-old kid. For me to wander around the world was just a whim. It's impossible for someone to tailor such a conspiracy for me. The Immortal Sect prohibition may not be related to this matter, and the Twin Roots curse is not unique to the Immortal Sect... The culprit may be a madman who wants to create chaos and take advantage of the chaos."

Su Si wasn't convinced: "Even if they want to cause chaos, ordinary people wouldn't wait ten years, would they?"

"So he must be a lunatic."

Su Si: "..."

The other person clearly didn't intend to dig so deeply into the matter, so Su Si stood up and said, "Fine, I'll go check on San-zi's condition."

"Su Si, if you still want to leave the Ku Mountain Sect, now is the best opportunity. Once today's events spread, the Ku Mountain Sect will not fare well in the martial arts world," Shi Jingzhi suddenly spoke up.

Su Si's footsteps paused.

"Forget it, Sect Leader Shi. I won't fare well outside or here. What's the difference?"

He smiled and walked out without looking back.

As soon as Su Si left, Shi Jingzhi relaxed and let out a sigh. Throughout the whole ordeal, Yin Ci stood by with his arms crossed, not saying a word.

Seeing that Shi Jingzhi was in a bad mood, Yin Ci specially borrowed the inn's kitchen and made some candy. But to his surprise, his cheap master didn't even touch the dessert and was difficult to coax.

Shi Jingzhi was deeply troubled.

The curse of the Twin Roots seemed to be more than just a simple ploy to take advantage of the Ku Mountain Sect. However, Shi Jingzhi kept his thoughts to himself.

Whether he was uncertain or had other considerations, Yin Ci did not want to force him to speak.

Shi Jingzhi was not much worse than himself in terms of strategy. This was a matter of great importance, and he should have a good idea of what he should do. If he were to ask rashly, it would be an insult to the Shi Jingzhi's expertise.

Seeing Shi Jingzhi start to daydream again, Yin Ci put down the candy and poured two cups of hot tea.

"Eat," he said, his tone rather impolite.

"Ah Ci, thank you for making so much effort... I don't have an appetite," Shi Jingzhi said absentmindedly.

"You haven't eaten much for lunch, and if you keep this up, you'll become weak," Yin Ci said, reaching out and pinching Shi Jingzhi's cheek, forcing him to open his mouth.

"Soon, there will be many variables. If your mind is not clear and your physical strength is insufficient, who knows what might happen."

With that, he mercilessly stuffed a pastry into his mouth.

Shi Jingzhi slowly ate the pastry and finally laughed, "Feeding me pastries like feeding me poison. Only you would do such a thing."

Yin Ci had made the candy sweet but not too cloying, making it easy to eat. Shi Jingzhi slowly ate a few pieces and finally had an appetite, devouring the entire plate of candy and even asking for two more.

After finishing the hot tea, Shi Jingzhi's mood noticeably improved. "I still want something sweet and sour. Ah Ci, can you make hawthorn cake? Or maybe we can have pork loin for dinner?"

Yin Ci immediately refused, "Shizun had enough oily food today. This disciple only feeds people, I don't rear pigs."

Shi Jingzhi: "..."

With a mournful expression, Shi Jingzhi said, "My good disciple, at times like this, you should indulge your master."

"Alright, but tonight we're only having sweet and sour fish."

"I'll help you with the cooking, and we'll make hawthorn cake..." Shi Jingzhi fully indulged in his love for food, persistent and unyielding.

Yin Ci smiled as he watched Shi Jingzhi, suspecting that this man's love for food was false, while his coquettishness was genuine.

Shi Jingzhi leaned against the window of the small inn, the setting sun casting a soft orange glow on his ink-black hair, giving him a peaceful and serene appearance. Yin Ci looked at the calm Shi Jingzhi and suddenly felt a heavy heart.

If it weren't for his identity as the "person in white robes" being discovered by the temple and receiving special attention, in the end, only Shi Jingzhi would be allowed to meet the Abbot.

Then when the Yang fire ignites, there would be no one to stop Shi Jingzhi.

After the tragedy had already happened, Shi Jingzhi could only tear apart the goodwill generated with Jianchen Temple with his own hands, and kill the witness Zhixing, before fleeing with them in a panic.

With the injustice and hatred weighing heavily on his heart, and his crimes as dark as ink, would Shi Jingzhi's Heart Demon still be as pure as snow?

Faced with the overwhelming insults and resentment, could he still calmly reflect on the situation and truly feel sorry for Abbot Juefei?

In a moment, Yin Ci had a subtle feeling - he was trying to gather the pieces and help Shi Jingzhi piece together his "humanity". But at the same time, someone else was quietly making a move, wishing that this person would be shattered even more thoroughly.

...Perhaps it was just an illusion.

Maybe he had been thinking too much about Shi Jingzhi lately, causing his mind to be in chaos.

"The stove is in use in the kitchen, so hawthorn cake is not an option. How about I take Shizun to buy two skewers of sugar-coated haws? Would that be good?"

Yin Ci shook his head and began to playfully tease his cheap master.

To his surprise, Shi Jingzhi didn't respond to his joke with a smile. Instead, he slowly tightened his face and his eyes lit up.

"Ah Ci, show me what you're really capable of. How long will it take us to get from here to Yongsheng City?"

Yin Ci was taken aback. "Without Yan Qing and Su Si, it'll take about half an hour. Why do you ask?"

"I want to go to Yongsheng with you, and we don't need to bring anything." Shi Jingzhi narrowed his eyes, his cunning and ease returning. "We'll go to the city and buy sugar-coated haws, secretly eat them, and not let anyone find out."

Yin Ci silently reached out and touched Shi Jingzhi's forehead.

There's no fever?

Shi Jingzhi pulled his hand away and said, "Regardless of the truth of the matter behind Abbot Juefei's death, we are definitely being watched. If the four of us go to Yongsheng together, we will leave traces. It's better to avoid big cities and head straight to the Mi Mountain Sect. Once we enter the city, I will write a letter to Shi Zhongyu and borrow the Taiheng Sect's weapon , the 'Arrow Horse'.

"Since we are going to the Mi Mountain Sect and heading north, we will pass by Taiheng. The Jianchen Temple won't immediately release any news, so I'll say that the plan has changed and that I can only personally deliver the treasure map and then ride away on the Arrow Horse."

Yin Ci immediately understood his meaning and said, "And then when the Jianchen Temple tragedy is exposed, we can just ride away to escape?"

"What are you saying? I will definitely return the horse in the end! It's just that without the Arrow Horse, it will take us two months to travel to the snowy north. We're just borrowing it for a little longer, I believe Senior Shi can understand... I will bring some compensation for her when I return." Shi Jingzhi's voice became quieter and quieter.

Compensation? If Shi Zhongyu believes they killed Abbot Juefei, they might have to compensate with their heads.

"If we're only delivering a message, we don't necessarily have to go to Yongsheng. Do you have other plans?"

Shi Jingzhi winked at him. "Ah Ci, even the Twin Roots have emerged. We have to confirm the other clue... Ah, that expression, I knew you still remembered!"

At night, in Yongsheng City, two figures swiftly flipped over the wall and entered.

With practiced ease, Shi Jingzhi pulled on his hood and sent a runner to deliver a message to Taiheng. Yin Ci waited in the dark alley, keeping watch for him. When Shi Jingzhi returned, Yin Ci was about to escape with him, but Shi Jingzhi had something in his hand - sugar-coated hawthorns on a stick.

"Let's go now," Shi Jingzhi said, handing Yin Ci a hawthorn stick and taking one for himself.

Yin Ci: "..."

This kid's Object Addition really was no joke. When he said he had to eat something, he really had to.

Yin Ci stared at the hawthorn stick in his hand, feeling like he had dug himself into a hole. To educate Sect Leader Shi how to prioritise was a daunting task.

And so, they became the first two thieves in Dayun's history to bring hawthorn sticks into the temple of the Divine Emperor Wu.

The temple was located in the busiest part of the city, and although the time for worship had passed, there were still a few guards in the hall.

The temple was spacious and quiet. The candlesticks on the table shone with golden light, and the flames flickered. The fruits on the offering table were bright and fresh, as if they had just been picked.

The statue of the Divine Emperor Wu stood on the altar, with a face that was neither male nor female, but exquisitely beautiful. The expression of sorrow on the face was exactly the same as that of the flesh god statue in Yuanxian Village.

Shi Jingzhi was hanging from the beam, and he pulled a hawthorn  off the stick and threw it towards the door. Ss soon as the guards moved out of sight, Yin Ci, who was wearing a mask, descended from the sky and swiftly knocked down everyone.

"Ah Ci, you go check the statue, I'll disguise myself and fake some evidence of theft," said Shi Jingzhi.

He took out a piece of cloth from his pocket and wrapped the golden candlestick on the table. He also took out a handful of copper coins from the offering box and deliberately scattered them on the ground.

Yin Ci went around to the back of the statue.

He concentrated his sword energy on his fingertips and aimed at the most inconspicuous part of the base of the golden statue, quietly cutting off a piece of the outer shell.

Yin Ci had knocked on the statue beforehand and knew it wasn't hollow. He had hoped to find ordinary clay or some other common filling inside.

However, as he pried open a seam, a faint yet familiar smell wafted out.

Within the gap, only one finger wide, Yin Ci saw the familiar reddish-brown flesh and a deformed eye - it had shriveled a bit and its pupils rapidly contracted upon sudden exposure to light.

This Yongsheng shrine had stood here for over two hundred years, and the statue had never been replaced.

Yet, that eye remained, still active. 


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