This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.
Chapter 53: Exiting and Entering the Mountain
“No.” Lu Siche lifted his head to look at Li Lingjun and made a sincere request. “Let’s wait awhile longer.”
Li Lingjun hesitated a long time before brushing his hair and nodding. He knew that Lu Siche was right.
Even that woman who possesses endless power, would be interested in his plans, or perhaps she was already waiting for him to make some requests. However, he was well aware that that woman, oft revered and rained with praise by the people of Changling, also possessed a coldness and decisiveness that ordinary people couldn’t rival. If he were to make too many concessions, even if he could return to the Chu Dynasty, even if he could finally sit on the most beautiful throne in the world, the Chu Dynasty would no longer be the Chu Dynasty it once was.
But how much longer would he wait?
He turned and looked outside the window into the night. He found each night in this Changling capital was very long, yet he didn’t have enough time.
As he turned, Lu Siche’s heart suddenly raced, his breathing paused. For he’d just caught a glimpse of Li Lingjun’s hair that was white at the roots.
At dawn, a red light flashed on the tallest temple in White Goat Cave.
Within the small temple, sitting on a meditation mat, Xue Wangxu slowly opened his eyes and looked at Li Daoji who was standing amidst the last vestiges of darkness. He cleared his throat and softly asked, “Is the cultivation of that youth progressing well?”
Li Daoji nodded sternly and said, “He is a cultivator with the smoothest progress I have ever seen. Several days ago, his energy sank into the jade palace, and his cultivation reached realm two second class. After that, he had no difficulties in his progress. All the obstacles and barriers that cultivators encounter, seem to be nonexistent to him.”
Xue Wangxu’s calm eyes flashed with a hint of excitement. He looked at Li Daoji and solemnly asked, “Do you feel that he can reach realm two before the Sword Trial festival?”
“It will depend on his rate of progression. A breakthrough is unlike the usual barriers in cultivation. If there are not many obstacles, then he will become a freak who has mastered Energy Refinement in just a month,” As Li Daoji apprised, he added in colder voice. “However, last night, he was almost killed.”
Xue Wangxu stilled.
He was under the impression that Li Daoji had found him to discuss Ding Ning’s cultivation.
Li Daoji looked coldly at Xue Wangxu and continued without waiting for him to speak. “Some unknown people, but the leader is a cultivator of Vital Energy Realm and has many seals. The Divinity Bureau is investigating this matter.”
Xue Wangxu’s brows furrowed but he still didn’t make a sound.
Li Daoji looked at him and said, “Ding Ning broke two ribs and is slightly wounded. However, he did good, and managed to kill that Vital Energy Realm cultivator with an Energy Refinement gangster.”
Xue Wangxu’s brows relaxed immediately, his eyes brightened. He praised softly. “This youth really brings honor to White Goat Cave.”
Now, it was Li Daoji’s turn to frown.
In his view, from any kind of standpoint, this was not something to be happy about.
Xue Wangxu’s eyes grew even brighter, his wrinkled face starting to shine.
He took a moment, and then stood up.
“Stay here today, do not go anywhere,” he said, smiling, seemingly in a good mood.
Li Daoji’s breathing paused slightly. He seemed to detect something and looked directly at Xue Wangxu. Slowly,he said, “Since Divinity Bureau is investigating, they will naturally return safely to the mountain. You do not need to leave.”
“That is not the same.”
Xue Wangxu shook his head. His usually aloof eyes were filled with a kind of rare pride. This mien was similar to the one Du Qingjiao had when he was leaving White Goat Cave.
“For many years, White Goat Cave has not had many things that have made me feel happy and proud. We finally have a student who mastered Profound Understanding in half a day and might reach Energy Refinement in a month, and is also someone that my senior sect brother left for me when he left. But yesterday, he was almost killed. I know that Divinity Bureau will let him return safely to White Goat Cave, but I have not left White Goat Cave for a long time. If I do not go out … even if I live, other people will think I am dead.”
“Do you know who are the most terrifying people in the world? Not the ones who do not fear death, but those that are soon to die, and do not worry if they would die or not. I am too old, almost dead, but before the end, I need to remind people of this.”
Xue Wangxu’s voice still echoed in the small temple, but his figure was nowhere in sight.
Also vanishing before Li Daoji were the white clouds shrouding this temple.
When the first ray of light entered Falling Parasol, Ding Ning woke up as usual.
He coughed gently. The pain of two broken ribs was nothing to him, but the soreness in his entire body, something he had not felt in a long time, was still discomforting.
As usual, Zhangsun Qianxue was sitting by the window and brushing her long hair.
“The carriage from White Goat Cave is waiting by the door.” She did not turn around. “But, unbeknownst to the driver, there’s another person in the carriage. Should be a realm five cultivator, wounded, most likely Wang Taixu.”
Ding Ning knew that her perception would not have any problems from a distance like this. His eyes filled with joy.
“Today is special. I will return early to White Goat Cave and cannot cook porridge for you.” He quickly washed up as he spoke apologetically to Zhangsun Qianxue.
Zhangsun Qianxue was silent.
She wanted to mock him, yet felt that after all these years in this impoverished alley, as the progress of her cultivation surpassed her expectations, she was also used to Ding Ning doing many things for her.
Like this moment, when he said he could not cook porridge for her. It was in these very moments, that her mind did not think that there was a problem in missing a meal, but if she didn’t have porridge, what was she to buy?
Or maybe she could go buy a bowl of noodles like he usually did?
In front of the carriage, by the door of the wine shop, the middle-aged driver waited worriedly.
He also knew about what had happened last night and that Ding Ning had had considerable injuries. But based on his understanding of Ding Ning, from driving him every day in the last half month, he knew that even if Ding Ning could not return to White Goat Cave today, he would still notify him.
He first saw the door open suddenly and then Ding Ning, who had a strange pallor. The driver immediately showed joy, then guilt in his eyes.
“How are your wounds? Are you returning to White Goat Cave today?”
“Yes, even for healing, White Goat Cave would be better than the doctors in the streets.”
“Yesterday, it was my mistake… an official came to inspect my carriage later. Before entering Changling, the axel had been split by a sharp weapon. Someone had set up a trap on the road. As long as you are a student of White Goat Cave, the teachers of White Goat Cave … and even the officials will give you special treatment. I really hadn’t imagined that someone would attack you.”
“This is just an accident, and you are not a cultivator. Had you discovered it prematurely, you may have died.”
After exchanging a few words with the driver, Ding Ning nimbly lifted a corner of the curtain and flashed in when the driver turned to the horses.
Looking at the figure curled up silently on the cushions, Ding Ning first took a moment, then he coughed and spoke to the carriage driver. “Today, I fear you have to be faster than usual. If the carriage can stand it, please be faster.”
This carriage driver, who was usually favored by White Goat Cave, thought that Ding Ning was in a hurry to return and heal. He said, “I have put many cushions and blankets inside. When it gets bumpy, you’ll have to be careful.”
The driver then snapped his whip and set the carriage in motion.
Under the cover of the rushed hoofbeats and the rolling wheels, Ding Ning looked at Wang Taixu who was curled next to him, his face as pale as paper and several sizes smaller. “This terrible … you had to flee into this carriage to White Goat Cave?” He asked, softly.
Wang Taixu looked weakly at Ding Ning who seemed to have detected him long ago and showed a faint smile.
“Very terrible. The brothers that fought beside me, and could support Two Level Tower after my death, all died yesterday. In order to get information, and get onto your carriage, two more sacrificed their lives for me. I have to admit, you are the greatest surprise to me. As to the assassination attempt last night, you and I are the only survivors.”
Ding Ning was not greatly shocked. He deliberated for a moment. “It seems the personage behind Jinlintang was displeased?”
“If I can make it through these few days, I will make him pay,” Wang Taixu said, softly, suppressing his cough.
Ding Ning shook his head and did not answer Wang Taixu. He only muttered. “Will White Goat Cave ignore me? At least, Li Daoji should’ve come to get me …”
The speeding carriage went along the highway outside the Changling suburbs.
Usually, on the wider streets, the carriage should’ve sped up. But within the cabin, Ding Ning and Wang Taixu could feel the carriage slowing down.
A dozen chariots, with shimmering copper sheens, had taken over half of the path. Dozens of armored soldiers were inspecting all the carriages and people passing by.
When Ding Ning lifted a corner of the curtain, he saw the scaled armor of the soldiers and the cold reflections off their blades.
Translator Ramblings: Ding Ning can’t catch a break.