This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.
Chapter 51 Favor and Grudge
Jing Mozong shook his head.
The gangs in the streets had more means and spies than those cultivators in the temples and courts. It was more important for them to remember all those making a living on the streets. But none of these people, like this cultivator skilled in using seals, the ones from the Yan Dynasty and even those assassins with the bamboo staffs, were people he had seen before.
These people seemed to be assassins for hire and had come from afar.
Today held too many shocks and riddles for him.
But, who was it that wanted to kill Ding Ning?
And had even spent much effort to bring in assassins from a distant place?
Needless to say, he too was shocked and held suspicions about Ding Ning’s strength and knowledge.
Had he not seen it with his own eyes, he wouldn’t have dared to believe Ding Ning was capable of such swordsmanship. Previously, the name he went by in Changling, Zhou Sansheng, was courtesy of Wang Taixu. That time when he had driven Ding Ning’s carriage, the latter had known his name. But just then, Ding Ning had asked him his name with a degree of seriousness,and seemed to have discerned that he hailed from the Yuezhi Country.
Had he perceived the blade essence in the sword forms he had used previously?
Or deduced it through the slightly special medicine pill in his hand ?
Ding Ning did not indulge in Jing Mozong’s musings. He was pensive for a while, took a deep breath, and then struggled up.
He glanced at the corpse of the black robed seal master and softly said to Jing Mozong. “These people .. do not touch them. Until the people from the Divinity Bureau or other bureaus arrive, try to preserve the scene as is; do not touch anything.”
“Why?” Jing Mozong was even more shocked as he looked at Ding Ning. He also struggled up. “Not even search their bodies?”
Ding Ning shook his head. “No need…going through so much just to kill a minor character like me, there is no one ordinary behind them. It will be futile even if we investigate. Only the people from court would have an effect if they’re to investigate.”
“Tell Wang Taixu, if there are no other incidents in other places, it is best that Two Level Tower does not involve itself in the events tonight.” Ding Ning coughed and started to walk. After a few steps, he turned slightly and added. “It is best you do not let people find of your involvement in this matter.”
A shocked Jing Mozong looked at Ding Ning who was moving calmly but with difficulty. He noted Ding Ning’s words but was still unable to grasp their meaning. “Where are you going now?” He asked, worriedly
Ding Ning response was simple. “Home.”
“Home? Who knows where your home is?”
“I’ve told you before, you walk too fast and hurriedly. If Wang Taixu had not left a suicidal Yuezhi blade fighter by you, I would have just picked up your corpse.”
When the cold autumn wind had dried his blood and he gently pushed open the door to the wine shop; a frosty and furious voice came from behind him, “How many days has it been since you joined White Goat Cave. You’ve already brought about such a matter?”
Ding Ning closed the door to the wine shop and looked at Zhangsun Qianxue in the darkness. He said tiredly. “Today’s matter is very strange.”
Zhangsun Qianxue said icily. “I do not care if it is strange. I only care about results. I only know that this Changling has countless favors and grudges, each person has favors and grudges. Even that Yuezhi man. Right now, it seems that the Yuezhi Country is the one that the Qin Dynasty protects. But who doesn’t know that the Tiger-Wolf Army of the Qin Dynasty had killed a hundred and thirty thousand of the Yuezhi people before the Yuanwu Emperor ascended the throne? If you do not enter the world of cultivators, you’d, perhaps, be able to stay far from these people and their favors and grudges. But if you encounter these people, you cannot escape these favours and grudges.”
“But the result is I am still alive.”
Ding Ning sat down and ignored Zhangsun Qianxue’s increasingly arctic gaze. He pretended to have not heard her. “That masked cultivator disguised himself as an assassin for hire from the start, but I am sure that he is a cultivator from the army. While he used some of the seal tactics of the Yan Dynasty, I am sure he is most skilled in the sword,” he said softly.
Zhangsun Qianxue sank into silence.
Most of the time, she only focused on cultivation, and was used to listening to Ding Ning about outside matters.
“In his last moments, he thought of using only the sword, and not the seal. This exposed some things he wanted to conceal.”
“That person had great strength … he even had enough power to kill me and Jing Mozong. He was not one to fear death but wasn’t even willing to be wounded. Most of the time, he was restrained, and in a hurry to leave, especially when Jing Mozong appeared. What he wanted to do wasn’t killing me and Jing Mozong, but to kill me as fast as possible and flee. If he hadn’t bound himself with so many restrictions at the start, we couldn’t have easily killed him.”
“Those people who kill for money are truly immoral and do not act like this. They don’t give a whit about being discovered because they exist in the shadows. His behaviour is proof he possesses a special identity, as does his master.”
“So even if he came from afar, he and his master may be people among the armies of the Qin Dynasty.”
“If this matter is connected with the backer behind Jinlintang, and they try to deal with me like this, a weak cultivator who affected Two Level Tower, now I should worry if Wang Taixu can live to see tomorrow.”
“If so, why didn’t you warn that Yuezhi man?” Zhangsun Qianxue couldn’t help but ask.
Ding Ning looked at her and said seriously, “If it is as I imagine, the warning is too late.”
Zhangsun Qianxue wordlessly looked at him and reached out coldly with a hand.
Two soft pops.
Her fingers moved away from Ding Ning’s waist and his two broken ribs were realigned.
“Perhaps next time, you won’t have such good luck,” she said with a cold smile as she looked at the blood lingering by Ding Ning’s mouth and the Last Flower remnant sword hanging by his waist.
“Guang Qiqi, He Fu, Guo Yuhua … and that wine shop youth who entered White Goat Cave and reached Profound Understanding in half a day, should be dead by now.”
Within an old two level tower, another similarly masked black robed cultivator looked with pity at Wang Taixu sitting across from him. He spoke disdainfully. “You should know you are not a match for me. Why did you not run when I walked into the tower?”
“Because this is Two Level Tower, my home. And in my home, even the strongest cultivator cannot easily kill me.”
Wang Taixu, who still had a pale complexion and looked very fragile, eyed the masked cultivator who had instantly killed a dozen guards and appeared in front of him and said, “I waited here in order to say a few words to you, and see what kind of person you really are.”
The masked man sneered. “Is this that tenet, that even if you’re to die, you must die with knowledge?”
“The other gangs in Changling are not able to invite someone like you. And this method of killing several of my brothers in a night and me in one swoop, to cut off the head and defeat Two Level Tower requires more powerful cultivators. Those gangs do not have such abilities.”
Wang Taixu looked into the cultivator’s eyes. “So, the information we received was correct, it must be a major personage of the military behind Jinglintang.”
The eyebrows of this cultivator rose slightly. He neither admitted nor refuted it. In his eyes, Wang Taixu was already a dead man.
But Wang Taixu looked at him and whispered in a very sincere tone, “Have you ever thought … what if you cannot kill me? If you cannot kill me, and have killed so many of my brothers in one night … I cannot treasure Two Level Tower any longer. I will do all I can to fight you.”
“I will find you all.”
Wang Taixu’s tone suddenly turned dark. He spoke slowly. “You will have brothers, relatives; I will be ruthless to each one of them.”
The masked cultivator’s countenance suddenly changed.
“So, I cannot let you live past tonight,” he said.
A fist sized copper ball flew out of his sleeve accompanied by a terrifying explosion of vital energy.
The moment the copper ball flew out, the seemingly plain surface shone with multiple golden seal lines.
In the next moment, all the golden seal lines exploded, and the copper fragments started to burn.
A golden lotus of fire bloomed in this room.
Countless metal lotuses flew towards Wang Taixu at an unimaginable speed.
As the copper ball flew out, Wang Taixu’s appearance became strange and he said, “This is the face of Two Level Tower, the most important property. How can I let myself be easily killed here?”
The floorboards below him suddenly exploded.
As the golden lotuses bloomed, thin blue sword lights akin to soundless flowing water flowed from the masked cultivator’s pants and flew close to the ground towards Wang Taixu..
This masked man knew that these men of the streets were adept in escape tactics and was prepared for Wang Taixu to have a secret underground passage.
If Wang Taixu really went down, he would be but cut into two by the prepared flying sword.
In the next moment, he howled in shock and anger.
The floorboards underneath Wang Taixu exploded. There wasn’t an underground passage like he’d expected but another explosion.
An explosion even more powerful than the copper ball formed under Wang Taixu’s feet.
A burst of air, like a volcanic eruption, thrust Wang Taixu into the air and through the roof.
Amidst the masked man’s furious howls, the countless fire lotuses exploded against the wall behind where Wang Taixu had been previously. At the same time, the power of the explosion caused the entire tower to start to collapse.
His flying sword wavered among the fragments and air currents of the explosion. His mental power was immediately wounded.
The masked man flew backwards. When he looked up, he saw Wang Taixu’s body was higher than the range he could control the flying sword with his mental power.
As he watched, Wang Taixu spread his arms and black wings seemed to grow from them.
That was a strange gliding robe hidden under his robes.
In the next moment, a crackle sounded in the air and Wang Taixu’s body quickly disappeared in the black night like a bat.
The masked man immediately broke out in cold sweat.
Translator Ramblings: I’m not sure how this part works in history. Kites existed in China during the Warring States Period but I’m not sure they had man-lifting kites and paragliding suits until a few hundred years later. But this is a fantasy world where swords already fly so paragliders are really not much of a stretch.