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Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
At the summit of Mount Han sat a blue-green lake, serene and of unknown depth. Although it was surrounded by cold, the lake's surface still emitted a steaming fog.
By the lake shore and on the cliffs, scattered in the grass, were stones of all sizes. Of course, even more stones were immersed in the lake. Some were resting on the lake bed while others revealed their sharp corners to the sky. Many dragon cranes that were flying south to spend the summer were standing on these stones, contentedly preening their feathers.
This lake was the Heaven Lake, the congregation of many hot springs. Those stones were the Heavenstones. In time immemorial, they had descended from the heavens, and although they were not the same as the monoliths within the Mausoleum of Books, received the ardent worship of generations upon generations. They lived much more at ease and lived more wild and interesting lives.
An old man sat on a stone on the lake shore, his eyes closed, almost like he was basking in the sun.
In the high pavilion behind the stone, there were several hundred attendants and subordinates, but not a single sound came from it.
The Pavilion of Heavenly Secrets had always been the continent's most famous and yet most enigmatic location.
This place promulgated all sort of rankings and proclamations and was regarded as the most equitable and impartial. It possessed enormous authority and no one dared to question it. It had a grandiose reputation in the world and was engaged in every sort of business, its feelers extending to every place. Even amongst the common people, it would be nigh impossible to find one that did not know the name of the Pavilion of Heavenly Secrets. Yet no one knew where the Pavilion of Heavenly Secrets was actually located.
But to the powerful figures on the upper layer of the cultivating world, the location of the Pavilion of Heavenly Secrets had never been a secret.
On the continent, the Pavilion of Heavenly Secrets owned countless properties, innumerable mansions, and even twenty or so famous mountains and caves.
Wherever the Elder of Heavenly Secrets lived, there was the Pavilion of Heavenly Secrets.
The old man by the lake was the Elder of Heavenly Secrets.
When he closed his eyes in rest, all the people in Mount Han would naturally have to maintain their silence.
Suddenly, the Elder of Heavenly Secrets opened his eyes.
His two eyes, weathered by time and brimming with intelligence, were permeated with shock. He was the head of the Storms of the Eight Directions, his cultivation masterly beyond description. Moreover, he was particularly skilled at calculation. Just what matter in this world could escape his eyes? What had caused even him to be shocked?
Without delay, the Elder of Heavenly Secrets raised his right hand and pointed at the steam rising from the Heaven Lake.
A faint but tenacious strand of Qi emerged from his fingertip, instantly throwing the fog of steam into turmoil.
In the surging fog, many pictures could faintly be seen.
When those pictures were reflected in his eyes, they splintered into countless fragments of thoughts.
"Just what is happening?"
"Why did you leave Xuelao City and venture into Mount Han?"
"And just how did you hide from my eyes? Black Robe…was it you?"
"The demons naturally wish to find a way to shatter the confluence of the north and south, but there's no reason for you to personally come, much less coming here. What use is there in doing this?"
"A thousand years ago, you were severely wounded by Zhou Dufu, after which you holed yourself up in Xuelao City, recovering from your wounds. Even when Black Robe planned to surround and kill Su Li, you only assisted through the night sky, not daring to take even half a step out of Xuelao City. Wasn't it because you were afraid that Su Li might suddenly break out and injure you? So why today did you dare leave Xuelao City?"
"There can be only two reasons that would make you leave Xuelao City: the first is that your injuries are healed; the second is that you found a way to heal those past injuries of yours."
"That method is here in Mount Han?"
"Who is it?"
"Is it him?"
"What treasure does he hold on him? Or is that you just want to kill him?"
"Why did Tianhai want me to examine him? Is there some connection between you and Tianhai?"
"Just what is it…that not even I can see through it?"
"Chen Changsheng, just what sort of person are you?"
"If you wanted to kill Chen Changsheng, why didn't you act while he was en route, instead of coming to Mount Han? I understand—it was because Mao Qiuyu and Linghai Zhiwang accompanied him the entire way, and there was even a chance that the Pope had allowed them to bring valued treasures of the Orthodoxy. You were worried that you would be delayed by them…you were worried that this was a plot that we had concocted."
"After that matter, whether it was you or us, anything we saw was like a plot."
"So you chose to come to Mount Han to kill Chen Changsheng. As long as you could hide from me, it was fine."
"Yet you did not expect that Liu Qing and Xiao De would reveal you so soon and struggle with you for so much time."
"Then, now it is my turn to see how I should make my choice."
Countless thoughts appeared in the mind of the Elder of Heavenly Secrets, countless calculations were carried out, and countless fine threads of Qi formed pictures in his sea of consciousness.
A flash of lightning illuminated a cloud, a strand of morning fog scattered in the light. In an extremely brief span of time, he had thought of so many things.
Simultaneously, his finger trembled in the wind, tearing countless paths through the steam.
An indescribably powerful Qi enveloped the entire Heaven Lake.
Countless stones flew up from the grass, flew up from the cliffs, flew up from the lake, and soared into the sky.
Lake water splashed down, grass and mud streamed down, and the lake was greatly unsettled.
From the summit of Mount Han to the distant sky above, countless stones hovered in the air.
Every one of these stones was a black point, and between each point was an invisible line. Countless invisible lines formed a net.
A giant net formed from these stones enveloped the five-hundred li circumference around Mount Han.
The middle-aged scholar lay within.
However, the concern in the eyes of Elder of Heavenly Secrets was not reduced. On the contrary, it deepened.
Even now, he still could not calculate just what was on Chen Changsheng's person that could make this person leave the distant Xuelao City and venture here.
Snowflakes slowly fell over the mountain path, gloomy clouds covered the peaks and it seemed like night. From extremely far away came the sound of tearing.
Chen Changsheng did not know that this was the sound of innumerable Heavenstones floating into the air and turning all of Mount Han into a cage.
His mind was completely focused on the middle-aged scholar on the other side of the stream.
Then, his gaze met the middle-aged scholar's gaze.
It was like a sudden clap of thunder booming through his mind. His face grew even paler, utterly devoid of any blood.
The snow could drown out any color. Only blood could stand out.
He had already guessed at who this middle-aged scholar was. Now, he understood the message communicated by the scholar's gaze and knew his reason for coming.
The end he would soon confront would not be death, but an end even more frightening than death.
The ending he most feared ever since that night many years ago in the old temple.
Gloomy clouds gathered around the mountains, ushering in the darkness.
Mao Qiuyu and Linghai Zhiwang sensed this at the same time. They raised their heads towards the depths of the mountains, their expressions instantly growing incomparably grave.
"Allowing matters to develop too far is definitely impermissible."
Mao Qiuyu withdrew his gaze and stared at Linghai Zhiwang, his gaze incredibly sharp. His two sleeves moved despite the lack of breeze, his hand grasping something within his sleeve.
Linghai Zhiwang had an abnormally ugly expression. With a groan, he said, "It has nothing to do with me!"
The strange phenomena in Mount Han truly had nothing to do with Linghai Zhiwang. Just like Chen Changsheng and the others had speculated, as one of the most powerful competitors for the position of next Pope, Linghai Zhiwang and some other people behind the scenes truly had arranged for Xiao De to make trouble on the mountain path. However, how could he have invited that darkness?