Chapter 36 The Key of Fate
Ding Ning and Shen Yi walked shoulder to shoulder.
Ahead of them were many huts layered together. This was Fish Market.
“In reality, you will not see much when you tour Fish Market now.” Ding Ning turned to Shen Yi and said without any pretense, “Not many underground businesses are open during the new year.”
Shen Yi said, “No matter. Quiet and liveliness have their own beauty.”
Ding Ning turned in slight puzzlement. He looked at this youth from Guanzhong and said, “This does not appear to be something people of your personality would say.”
Shen Yi laughed and said, “Senior Sect Brother is very perceptive. These are not my words, but my little uncle’s aphorism. There are several more phrases. If one wants to see the scenery of a place, they should not just observe in quiet or liveliness, but also over the four seasons. To truly see a friend, one should not only observe when one is at their best, but also at their most frustrated, their worst, and when they are in danger.”
The speaker must be very famous have have an “aphorism,”. So Ding Ning asked as they entered Fish Market, “Who is your little uncle?”
Shen Yi said, “My little uncle is Shen Huai.”
Ding Ning stilled slightly. “One of the Five Swords of Guanzhong?”
Shen Yi nodded.
Ding Ning glanced at him. “I had not expected he is your little uncle. Why do you not study the sword from him?”
Guanzhong was eight hundred miles of plains and mountains. There were many great swordsmen. To be recognized as one of the five strongest swords, Shen Huai was naturally famous.
Shen Yi said in a low and embarrassed tone, “He taught me my swordsmanship.”
Ding Ning stilled and said, “Apologies.”
Shen Yi shook his head and said, “The same sword manual will create different cultivators. My little uncle told me that the key to cultivation is the paths that people choose.”
Ding Ning nodded and said, “He is right. Sometimes, one’s insight will determine their height.”
“I should have come to Changling long ago. Otherwise, would I have ever thought there is such a unique place in the world?” Shen Yi followed Ding Ning into Fish Market and looked at the dark streets that seemed to be a ghost town. He saw the faint lanterns that burned like ghostfire and asked softly in curiosity, “Anything can be sold here, including restricted items, to people like me?”
Ding Ning glanced at him and said, “You can buy, but you must use intermediaries in here.”
Knowing that there were much involved in this, Shen Yi asked with even more curiosity, “Then will I be able to attend things like underground auctions?”
“Of course.” Ding Ning said, “However, you must receive the trust of those intermediaries. With your status as a rich member of Guanzhong, you should not have any problems in attending. But when you are sure you want to buy a certain item, the intermediary quotes the price. Otherwise, many people will know where the item ends up and bring you calamity.”
Shen Yi said, heartfelt, “I really want to watch if there is an opportunity. Maybe I will find suitable items.”
The lamb shop in the western corner sold lamb outside, but inside, they were human traffickers and sold children brought from distant places and even other dynasties. The tailor shop in the east did sold seal artifacts of the Chu Dynasty. The three-room stilted building near the lake at the bottom was the accounting base for overseas bandits. If one wanted to attend the underground auctions for cultivator items, they had to find Freckled Xue who sold tung oil, or Old Zhou who sold salted fish.
Ding Ning led Shen Yi towards the deepest part of Fish Market, which was also the lowest part, as he slowly explained the many paths of Fish Market in a low voice.
Shen Yi listened intently and did not notice that Ding Ning’s speech grew increasingly slow.
“Next, whatever you hear me say, do not change your expression. Pretend you are just idly chatting with me, and do not let anyone sense any abnormality.” Suddenly, Ding Ning’s words passed into his ears.
Because the words were said slowly, Shen Yi had enough time to react. He suddenly shook but he controlled his emotions well and asked softly, “Why?”
Today, Ding Ning had come to Fish Market to visit the lonely old woman for the new year and talk with her for a while. But just now, he had sensed an unusual and dangerous presence.
“Someone wants to assassinate me. People who dare to do so in Fish Market are true outlaws. So even you have been dragged into this matter,” Ding Ning said slowly and calmly. “While I do not know who they are, both my life and yours are in your hands right now. You have to listen carefully and remember my words now. Do not make a mistake.”
Shen Yi, who looked at the unusually calm alleys and couldn’t feel any killing energy, was even more shocked. But the gravity in Ding Ning’s calm words made him certain that this was not a joke.
“Speak, I will do it,” he nodded and said softly.
Ding Ning lowered his voice, and bent his head so his lips were in shadow. “In a moment, I will take you past several shops. The owners of those shops are not ordinary people, and they all have connections to the master of this underground Fish Market. But I do not know which one of those shops are open. You will enter whichever store is open. When you enter, start counting time. After fifty breaths, tell the shop owner as fast as possible someone is going to kill people in Fish Market and the location is the Ghost Worry Pier.”
Shen Yi naturally did not know why Ding Ning wanted him to count time but he still memorized each words. He responded simply in a soft voice, “Enter the shop, count time, fifty breaths, ask for help, Ghost Worry Pier.”
Ding Ning nodded calmly and said, “Just remember. What I will say next will be just ordinary chatter.”
Shen Yi glanced at him and said, “I understand.”
Ding Ning continued to lead the way towards the tower the old woman lived in.
He kept on speaking of the workings of this Fish Market but his mind was filled with indescribable fury and cold emotion.
Just like he said to Zhangsun Qianxue, he was not willing to drag that miss of the Shang Family into matters of the past. He had not wanted to use any of her power. But today, just when he was making an ordinary visit to an old person, in the new year, someone forced him to borrow the power of Fish Market.
Who was it?
His mind grew colder and angrier, but his thoughts became more lively. He considered more and more of the consequences.
The water pond at the bottom of Fish Market was covered by the roofs of many huts so not much snow had fallen down. The ice on the surface of the water was only two finger-widths thick.
Ding Ning’s calm eyes suddenly shone with fire. His gaze once again landed on the Last Flower remnant sword at his waist.
At this time, he and Shen Yi were close to the shops he had spoken off.
Only one of the shops was open at this moment. Inside was firelight and the presence of a person.
Ding Ning knew that the master of that shop did business in weapons. That stilted tower had many good swords.
The Last Flower remnant sword Li Daoji had bought had come from there.
These people all unrelated to each other were all connected by this remnant sword. It was as though fate was really tangling and pulling out all the favors and grudges. This remnant sword was a key to fate that had been waiting in the dust for him for many years.
“This shop sells swords. If you go in alone, you do not need intermediaries. The shop owner has many good swords that even cultivation places in Changling do not have. You can go look and wait there for me” I will meet you here after visiting” Ding Ning pointed at the shop and said calmly to Shen Yi.
Shen Yi naturally understood that Ding Ning’s words were just “chatter.” Of course he would not wait for Ding Ning to come back to meet him here. So he nodded heavily and said, “Alright, since only this one is open, I will just tour this one.”
Ding Ning smiled slightly and left Shen Yi as he travelled forward.
Shen Yi looked at him with some more respect in his eyes. The other was able to show such a smile at this dangerous time. He could not do this.
Ding Ning’s brow imperceptibly furrowed. The Ghost Worry Pier in front of him was situated below several stilted towers filled with firewood. There were no nearby shops and his sight was obscured. This was the best assassination location on this path. If the positions were switched and he was assassinating someone, he would choose to act at this location.
At this moment, he smelled some scents that were moving towards this location. This proved that these people were coming for him and not for Shen Yi.
He took a deep breath. The countless “little silkworms” in his body seemed to wake up along his breath and moved silently in his body.
Shen Yi did his best to be calm, but when he pushed open the door to the shop, his breathing uncontrollably sped up.
The loose-haired man on the mat seemed to immediately detect Shen Yi’s abnormality and gave a soft grunt.
Shen Yi thought of Ding Ning’s warming. He recalled he could not speak prematurely so he took a deep breath and started to count time as he said, “I come from the Guanzhong Shen Family. I heard you have many good swords here.”
The loose-haired man, his features obscured in the darkness, looked coldly at him. The man did not speak and moved backwards.
Then the blanket covering his body was lifted. As it showed the black sword case below, Shen Yi also saw the man had no feet.
His legs were cut off at the knees!
Seeing this scene, Shen Yi could not control his emotions and instinctively exclaimed, “You cannot move easily… What to do?!”
Lacking feet had nothing to do with selling swords. Shen Yi’s exclamation was unusually abrupt at this time. The loose-haired man’s gaze flashed and he lowered his voice, “Something is happening?”
Translator Ramblings: The tung oil mentioned here is the oil used for oil-paper umbrellas.