Chapter 69: Sect’s Game
Under the escort of An Tongchen, the teacher and disciple duo returned to Green Jade Valley.
The moment An Tongchen left, Lu Mingshu kneeled down in front of Liu Jizhen. "Master, this disciple has caused you trouble."
Liu Jizhen sighed before extending his hand to pull her up. "No, I still have to thank you."
Lu Mingshu lifted up her head and looked at him stunned.
Liu Jizhen said, "Twelve years ago when I damaged my meridians, I thought I would be a cripple for the rest of my life and my remaining years would be spent in desolation, day after day, year after year, like a zombie. But your Senior Uncle An opened up my eyes." He looked down at the child before him and continued in a soft voice, "I think I am a cripple, but to you, I am someone you rely on. If I do not stand up for you even when you are framed and bullied by others, there would be nobody else to shield you."
Lu Mingshu burst into tears. "Master!"
She hugged her master's waist and allowed herself to bawl her eyes out. Ever since her mother passed away, she had never cried this hard. Tears were only valuable when someone cared.
Liu Jizhen caressed her head softly, letting her cry. She had repressed her emotions and worked too hard these four years, making others almost forget she was still a mere child.
Once the sounds of her weeping slowly subsided, Liu Jizhen patted her head. "Alright, go and wash up before we talk."
After she got rid of all the dust and changed her clothes, Lu Mingshu was shocked when she went to go meet Liu Jizhen.
The Liu Jizhen who stood before her was entirely foreign to her. He changed his woodwork clothing into the courtyard leader's robe. His long hair, clean and sleek, was draped over his shoulders with ease. Now that he was cleanly shaven, his outlined and distinct facial features were more clear.
Most importantly, Liu Jizhen's aura in the past was full of listlessness, as if nothing in the world interested him. However, the Liu Jizhen before her now stood tall and straight in high spirits. Just like how he was a while ago in Quintessence Courtyard, no one could ignore his existence.
This Liu Jizhen reminded Lu Mingshu of the legendary martial arts genius that was unbeatable in Nine Jade Palace.
Liu Jizhen smiled warmly when he saw Lu Mingshu. "Come."
Lu Mingshu walked over and sat down opposite of him. She quickly took the teapot when she saw him about to pour tea. "Master, let me."
Liu Jizhen let go and looked at her hurrying about with a smile on his face.
Once the hot teacup was in his hands, Lu Mingshu sat back down as he took a sip. "Have you ever leaked any sect information?"
Lu Mingshu was surprised but quickly understood he was asking about the matter regarding the spring hunt.
She answered, "No." No matter what, she was still a disciple of Nine Jade Palace and would never do anything to betray the sect. She had never mentioned Nine Jade Palace's internal affairs when she met Yan Wugui. Yan Wugui already knew of the beast cave's existence from the start, and it was also him who later brought her to the beast cave.
However, there was something wrong about what Yan Wugui said earlier; she did not hate Nine Jade Palace, but Fu Shangqing and the Zhou family. Hence, even though she found it delighting to watch Yan Wugui stir up trouble, it was only but a mere fleeting emotion.
Liu Jizhen slightly nodded. "I was not wrong in saving you."
Lu Mingshu lifted up her head to look at him. "Master, are you going to make a comeback?"
Startled by her question, Liu Jizhen's smile faltered a little. "What comeback? My mystic force is gone, and I am but a normal man that knows martial arts. I've just come to a realization that even if I try to avoid facing the problem, I will still be drawn into it; there's no point in cowering."
Lu Mingshu thought in her heart, Master's mystic force has been exhausted, yet his exquisite skills still remain. To be able to regulate a Harmonization Realm like Zhou Yinru in a flash, who knows how incredible master was back in those days.
Then Liu Jizhen continued on and sighed, "The sect has truly degraded in these twelve years. A balance on the surface could still be maintained back then, but now … to actually let a child like you undertake responsibility."
Lu Mingshu was stunned. "What?"
Liu Jizhen smiled teasingly. "Why do you think a mere Inner Breath Realm disciple like you could move the sect leader, Quintessence Courtyard's leader, as well as two elders? Zhou Yinru does not have that much of a face."
Lu Mingshu was confused. "Master?"
"It's good that you know of these matters, after all my mystic force is already exhausted and won't be able to shield you much. The conflict in the sect is getting more and more intense these days. With how big of a harvest we got this time after finding the beast cave, what follows after will be distributing the profits. Sect Leader Fu would definitely be criticized as a poor commander since he was responsible for the loss of the ley lines spiritual roots this time after letting outsiders in. Zhou Yinru obviously had her own personal reasons for going after you, but she also had the intention of finding an excuse. Everyone knows you had a bad history with the Zhou family, hence by pushing the blame onto you, they will then be able to avoid responsibility."
Liu Jizhen laughed when he saw Lu Mingshu in a trance. "Are you scared? Let me tell you that the most crucial key in saving you wasn't how eloquent I was, but their concern about the line of Shengyang and Willow Woods. Our line of Shengyang had leaned towards the Jade Terrace line previously, but due to my damaged meridians and how there wasn't any more outstanding talent appearing in the line of Shengyang l, we have rarely meddled in the sect affairs. As for the Willow Woods line, you should know they never take sides. If I wasn't able to protect you after showing up personally, perhaps they would infuriate others from the line of Shengyang. Our line still possesses face from having a Grandmaster, and thus they wouldn't dare to thoroughly offend us. Since Senior Uncle An was waiting outside yesterday, the line of Willow Woods has already declared their stance."
The Jade Terrace line was the faction where Yu Wen Shi was in. Lu Mingshu finally understood with Liu Jizhen's detailed explanation. The matter of saving her may look simple on the surface, but was actually part of the sect's game.
"But Zhou Yinru truly went too far! She was only arrogant and willful when she was younger, so I didn't expect her to be so prejudiced."
Lu Mingshu clenched her fingers into a fist. "I am not afraid of her, for there will be a day where I will surpass her!"
Liu Jizhen flicked her forehead. "Good-for-nothing! She's still in the Harmonization Realm despite turning thirty soon and you want to compare with her?"
Lu Mingshu immediately changed her statement. "I want to become an expert like Granduncle Zhuo!"
"That's more like it." Liu Jizhen placed his teacup down. "Tell me how far you have progressed."
"Which stage is your mystic force now cultivated to? What level is your swordsmanship at now?"
"Act it out for me so I can take a look if you don't know how to describe it."
Although Zhuo Jiangui would take a look at her progress every so often and would give her some pointers these past four years, Lu Mingshu mainly fumbled about on her own, as he was only ensuring she would not be led astray. She didn't learn many things systematically.
Once she was done with acting out the <Cloud-treading Sword Technique>, Lu Mingshu could not help but worry when she saw Liu Jizhen furrow his eyebrows after she had sheathed her sword.
"Master, had I practiced it wrongly?"
"You're not wrong." Liu Jizhen sighed. "However, the solidifying of your closed apertures isn't correct."
In the cultivation of mystic force, closed apertures solidifying would be congealing true energy in each closed aperture. Every closed aperture would go through the stimulation of mystic force to congeal an aperture acupoint. Finally, when every aperture acupoint connects with another, the practitioner would step into the Harmonization Realm.
If the method of closed aperture solidifying is incorrect, it will slow down one's pace in stepping into the Harmonization Realm.
"Also, where did you learn how to move your mystic force?'
Lu Mingshu felt nervous under the questioning. "Master, I learned about it from a book …"
Liu Jizhen pondered it over. "It is extremely difficult to understand when speaking of it individually, but as a whole, we still need to do some adjustment."
Lu Mingshu heaved a sigh of relief when she heard what he said. She learned random things in the Heavenly Wheel, thus it was already fortunate that nothing had gone wrong when she mixed them together.
"I'll teach you a set of sword techniques that I want you to practice daily from today onwards. Also, suspend your solidifying of your closed apertures. Besides your normal Inner Breath Realm cultivation, everything else must be put to a halt, understand?"
Lu Mingshu grinned in happiness. "I understand, Master."