Tong Yan had left as well after Jing Jiu's departure.
The chess tournament of the Plum Meeting had just begun; it couldn't end at this point.
The winner of the chess tournament would get the blessing of the Young Zen Master along with the winners of other four tournaments, though being the chess tournament winner was itself a great honor.
Understandably, high-level chess players and chess lovers had lost much of their interest in the chess tournament, as they were not in high spirits.
"I'm leaving as well." He Zhan tied his jar of alcohol to his waist, saying to Se Se, "I'll go to the Hanging-Bell Sect to visit you if I've got the chance. I'll take you to the nearby Great Marsh to catch fish. When these fish heads are broiled tastes much better than the barbecued fish."
Se Se didn't even catch the last part of the sentence, asking surprisingly, "Don't you play chess anymore?"
"No," replied He Zhan after a moment of silence, "I'm not going to play chess anymore."
Upon hearing this, many people looked at He Zhan with shocked and puzzled expressions.
Jing Jiu and Tong Yan had already left, so He Zhan would be the strongest contestant in the chess tournament of the Plum Meeting.
Even if he was shaken up by the previous game or he didn't want to take advantage of the situation and acted like a gentleman, why did he claim that he would not play chess anymore?
What He Zhan said next was either to answer Se Se's question or to address the people on the Chess Board Mountain.
"I couldn't beat those two even if I played chess for the rest of my life, and I can't even get close to their level, why bother playing chess at all?!"
Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue separated at the entrance to Xinjiekou, just like a few days ago. They acted as usual, as if nothing had happened that day.
The eaves of the Taichang Temple appeared bright black after being washed by the rain, like the horns of an old dragon.
Jing Jiu brought back his gaze from the eaves, walking up the stone steps and pushing open the front door.
The whole family was sitting in the living room. All of them stood up when they saw Jing Jiu come in.
"How come you are back so soon?"
The old brother of the Jing family showed more respect than before, and his eyes were full of happiness.
Jing Jiu remembered one thing when he saw his "old brother".
Jing Jiu had told his "old brother" a few days ago to bet on his winning in the chess tournament, but he came back after merely one game that day.
"How much have you lost? I'll pay you back." Jing Jiu said.
The older brother of the Jing family replied happily, "It's okay. I bet on the single game."
The rain had stopped a while ago when he was still on Chess Board Mountain.
It was quiet outside the window. The quietness was suitable for sleeping.
Yet Jing Jiu hadn't fallen asleep, as he was mulling over something.
The main purpose of his participation at the Plum Meeting in Zhaoge City was to find out if that person would come to seek him out.
Jing Jiu participated in the chess tournament because of what Zhao Layue had said to Xiang Wanshu and what he said on the Green Mountain when avenging Shisui.
Playing chess was merely a pastime.
It was what he said to Tong Yan on the Chess Board Mountain.
But was it merely a pastime?
Jing Jiu walked to the bookshelf from which he took down a Go set. He put the chess board back on the table and re-ordered the chess pieces as he had played the game that day.
Standing by the table, he looked at the chessboard silently for a long time.
The black and white chess pieces were so distinctive and easily distinguishable, but in the end, all the chess pieces seemed to be a whole entity.
Though he had won the chess game that day, Jing Jiu was well aware that his winning was due to some aspects Tong Yan lacked.
Though Jing Jiu didn't win by illegitimate means, Tong Yan didn't lose because of his own mistakes.
Jing Jiu's body was very special, and he had nearly unlimited mental strength.
If he were his former self, it would be impossible for him to achieve what he had done that day, even if he had learned playing chess from a young age.
Tong Yan's chess playing was almost perfect that day. If Tong Yan didn't consume too much physically and mentally in the end and his last seventh move wasn't too aggressive, Jing Jiu would have had no way of taking advantage of that slippery opportunity, or Tong Yan slowed the speed of putting down his chess pieces and prolonged the game, turning it into a ten-day long game, the outcome of the game would be different.
Jing Jiu could comprehend and feel Tong Yan's pain.
"You are still number one in the world."
Jing Jiu said this to Tong Yan while looking at the chess board.
When he stepped into that hidden river, he thought he would stay the same for this life. It looked like his current life would be little bit different, though only a little.
Maybe he was in a field that he had never experienced previously, so he was affected by it.
Jing Jiu wasn't sure about this. It was too complicated to calculate the tiny
Jing Jiu walked to the window; looking at the quiet courtyard covered by the darkness of the night, he somehow felt slightly bewildered.
This kind of emotion, or any kind of emotion, had seldom occurred to him previously.
Suddenly, a child's laughter and a woman's scream came from the front yard, followed by nervous hushing; it was soon quiet again.
Perhaps the old brother of the Jing family told other members about what had happened and about the betting.
Jing Jiu could hear what they were talking about if he chose to do so, but he didn't. He had gradually calmed down emotionally.
The chess tournament of the Plum Meeting continued for the next few days.
Gu Yuanyuan, whom was highly expected of by the Windy-Broadsword Sect, had lost to an unknown Cultivation practitioner after having barely managed two games, because he was mentally too shaken up from the other day. Shang Jiulou was extremely tired mentally as well. He failed to reach the final game and left the Chess Board Mountain on the fifth day.
The winner of the chess tournament was Queniang of the Mirror Sect.
That young woman with freckles, advised personally by Tong Yan, toughened it out till the end, though she was obviously affected by that chess game.
It was said that she had actually learned something from that chess game and her level of chess playing had improved as a result.
That chess game was of course the game played by Jing Jiu and Tong Yan on the first day of the chess tournament.
Few people concerned themselves with the final outcome of the chess tournament of the Plum Meeting. People were talking about that chess game.
The printing shop in Zhaoge City had printed thousands of the playing record of that chess game. The printed copies were snatched immediately and sent to various manor houses.
Even those commoners who were usually not interested in chess enjoyed talking about that chess game; but many details had changed quite a bit, and that chess game became more and more magical.
Tong Yan had left Zhaoge City and stayed behind closed doors after returning to Cloud-Dream Mountain, giving up the most important Cultivation tournament. It was said that the Center Sect was rather upset about it.
Everybody knew that the Center Sect wasn't upset about Tong Yan, but Jing Jiu.
Jing Jiu had become the true celebrity. All those affairs related to him were revealed again, becoming the topics in the streets and alleys.
For instance, they discovered his experiences on the Green Mountain, his long-distance travel with Zhao Layue and the stories of their killing evildoers, and of course the happenings during the Sword Trial of Green Mountain.
Until now many people realized that Jing Jiu was actually an extremely talented swordsman expected highly of by the Green Mountain Sect.
As the third-ranking disciple on Liangwang Peak, Gu Han was quite famous in the Cultivation world.
As the principal disciple of the Green Mountain, Guo Nanshan had already broken through the State of Free Travel, regarded as Luo Huainan's strongest challenger of among the disciples of the young generation.
Jing Jiu could have defeated Gu Han and broken Guo Nanshan's sword only after being on the Green Mountain a mere few years. Though it was rumored that it wasn't a real contest between Jing Jiu and Guo Nanshan, and Jing Jiu took advantage of the opportunity when Guo Nanshan halted his flying sword, how many disciples of the initial State of Undefeated could actually take advantage of the opportunity when facing a swordsman in the State of Free Travel?
In addition to that chess game at the Plum Meeting which shocked the entire land, people had a general impression of Jing Jiu: an extremely handsome young man who was good at calculating and planning.
Soon afterwards, a new rumor spread, said to come out from the Green Mountain.
--Jing Jiu perhaps hailed from the Fruit Formation Temple.