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Chapter 43: Opportunity and Backup Plans
There was an old book tower in the eastern part of Changling that was under the management of the Warden’s Office. Most of the books were geological and hydrological maps. Usually, there was no one was here. Some officials would come to inspect the maps when they were digging ditches to avoid changing or blocking underground trenches used to prevent floods.
The day grew dark. A tall man sat inside this old hall. A pot of lamb soup was boiling on a coal cauldron in front of him. He drank by himself from a wine group, filling his cups and rebellious as though no one else was around.
As the wind played, the coal fire flickered.
A black-robed advisor with a dark expression appeared at the door. He shouted, “Fan Zhuo, you must know how much my general has risked to have you come and go about Changling as you please! But the kind of people you found were arrogant enough to try to kill people in Fish Market! What were you actually thinking!”
Seeing this usually calm black-robed advisor incensed, the large man stilled slightly. But when he heard such a shout, his expression immediately darkened. Murderousness suffused his vicious eyes. He sneered and said, “Qi Pomo, you are someone who went into death and climbed out of a pile of corpses with Liang Lian. You are just momentarily angry, but you do not understand your status and our status. Who do you think we are? I sit here now. My palace master is reading upstairs. You dare to be so rude as to shout. If you disturb him, you think I won’t dare to kill you with a strike?”
The vicious and indescribable man was one of the great rebels of Cloud Water Palace, Fan Zhuo. His palace master was of course Bai Shanshui.
Qi Pobo had originally been extremely angry. But when he was swept by Fan Zhuo’s vicious gaze, and he heard the words “palace master,” his heart felt cold and he immediately realized the other was an unrestrained and wilful existence. The magic of the words Bai Shanshui caused his back to break out in a cold sweat.
He took a deep breath and said, “I did not think that Palace Master Bai is here, and was too rude. But you have been asked to carry out a matter and need to be faithful. Your people have not performed a successful assassination, and someone was left alive who is now in the hands of the Divinity Bureau. I do not know what consequences there will be.”
Fan Zhuo pulled back his killing intent and glanced coldly at the black-robed advisor. He started to truly consider the advisor’s words. “The outlaws naturally have their abilities. Those three are poisonous snakes, and not reckless and ignorant failures as you say. The trio killed one of your commandery governors. I think that they were very unlucky. Otherwise, with the power of these three, how troublesome would it be to kill a youth who has just reached realm three?”
Qi Pomo calmed slightly and spoke slowly. “Early in the first year of Yuanwu, the empress wanted to eliminate the underground Fish Market. In the end, she stilled her hand. Other than the connection to some of the older people in court, Fish Market has a grandmaster, and not an ordinary one at that. The three poisonous snakes you speak of must have dismissed Fish Market just like you did. One of them has been sent into the Great Floating Water Prison by the Divinity Bureau.”
“Great Floating Water Prison?” Fan Zhuo looked disdainfully at him and said, “You use a butcher’s knife to kill chickens. What will they gain from that person being sent to the Great Floating Water Prison. Even if they get something, they will not be able to trace it to you and Liang Lian. You don’t have anything to worry about.”
Qi Pobo was silent for a moment. His voice dropped to a whisper. “Compared to that survivor, I worry more that you will be rash in your conduct.”
“I am a dragon that has crossed the river and am doing wild things. How can I be like you who tremble with fear?” Fan Zhuo laughed wildly and said, “Just a gangster of Changling. When the time comes, I will eliminate him personally for you.”
Thinking that the other had the strength to be so conceited and the fact that Bai Shanshui was presently in the tower , Qi Pobo did not say more and turned to leave.
While murderousness surged and faded, and words fought like blades downstairs, it was as quiet as usual upstairs. The books on the shelves were mostly old, and the characters and illustrations were already blurry.
Bai Shanshui was sitting on the floor under the eastern window and in deep contemplation as he looked out the window.
While he had received guidance, he felt there was no development. He could not sense the connection between the lines of the jade token and the movement of the primal energies of the universe. But Bai Shanshui was not in a hurry right now, and at the doors of a strange opportunity.
He faintly felt that comprehending this jade token seemed to be a necessary part of his cultivation. Those profound lines that stretched endlessly outwards … the secret to comprehending these lines and flows of primal energies of the universe seemed to be closely connected to realm eight.
As the spiritual leader of all Wei people, and someone that all dynasties were wary of, not many could match his talent. But even he had a difficult time advancing after reaching realm seven.
And now, a path seemed to have appeared in the darkness. He only had to slowly explore and travel along this path. So even though he was in Changling, the most dangerous place, he was in the middle of a wondrous opportunity and had to have a calm mind – more now than any other time.
Because it was hard to achieve true calm, many white and crystal beads of moisture had formed naturally around him. They slowly moved as though they were alive, and gave his body a magical halo.
Not long after Qi Pobo, who did not have a position in the Tiger Wolf Army but was Liang Lian’s most trusted confidant in reality, left, a tall figure appeared in front of him.
Qi Pobo immediately stopped, nodded and said, “General.”
“You do not need to remind them or warn them to do something. They have their own measures.” Liang Lian said coolly, “Also, they are not people that can be predicted using ordinary logic. Both they and the people of the Zhao Sword Furnace do not care too much about life and death. They all are people that will feel happy dying after reaching realm eight and killing the person they want to kill.”
In the bedroom of Falling Parasol’s wine shop courtyard, Ding Ning carefully smoothed whale jade gel over his body after a hot bath.
This was a semi-transparent yellowish gel. From the soft crackling sound coming from the bone membrane as he put on the gel, it was possible to imagine just how astounding the power contained in this precious gel was.
But this kind of medicinal gel had a faint fish scent that was not pleasing to smell. So even from behind a thick cloth curtain, Zhangsun Qianxue couldn’t help but frown.
Sensing Zhangsun Qianxue’s displeasure, Ding Ning smiled slightly and whispered, “If you are not used to this scent, I will buy some fragrant incense for you tomorrow.”
“This whale jade gel will move suspicions away from your health. In reality, your body is not as weak as it appears.” Zhangsun Qianxue did not respond to him and coldly said, “But Sikong Lian sent you such a valuable gift. What is the matter with him?”
Ding Ning shook his head and said, “I do not know … while Sikong Lian has a high position, he is not as extravagant as those marquessate establishments. This gift is naturally more serious to him. He must want to gamble on me that I can help him in the future. I will only know when I reach a certain cultivation level.”
Zhangsun Qianxue was silent for a moment and said, “Even an assassination like this wasn’t able to injure you. You have a higher likelihood than I imagined.”
Ding Ning’s expression grew serious. He spoke in the darkness. “I have walked too fast. You cannot be faster, and you must be more patient. Do you think that my previous choices are correct because this is related to luck. If not for Xue Wangxu, from the time I joined White Goat Cave up until now, I would not have had so many opportunities and my present cultivation.”
Zhangsun Qianxue looked like she usually did. She did not respond to him and said coolly, “A little book appeared for this year’s Min Mountain Sword Trials. You have seen it. How much confidence do you have?”
Ding Ning frowned and said, “Up to now, not much. I must think of a way to comprehend something that can be seen in public. The White Goat Cave sword manuals are not enough. When I go to the Min Mountain Sword Trials, my cultivation will be realm three second class at most. So I have to think of another way. This is troublesome.”
Zhangsun Qianxue said, “Even you do not have confidence you can win against a realm above yours. How powerful are the ones at the top of the ranking?”
Ding Ning sneered. “The truly powerful people will not be there. I know the empress’ tactics. She usually will have ambushes and backup plans when she acts, and her backups will be stronger.”
Zhangsun Qianxue thought and felt that trying to understand these people’s personalities was too troublesome. So she was too lazy to think. She closed her eyes and started to cultivate.
Ding Ning felt her breathing and grew silent.
She was not so complicated, or rather, she was too simple. But the simpler, the more precious.
Next morning, Ding Ning woke up like usual and started to cook porridge. But to Ding Ning’s surprise, Zhang Yi’s shout for him distrubed the morning calm again.
“What is it?” Ding Ning opened the shop’s door and asked when he saw Zhang Yi waiting impatiently at the doorway.
“Cave Master has already woken up. Xie Changsheng and the others have sent a carriage for us.”
“They said that the people featured in the book are fighting in public … Junior Sect Brother, make haste! If Cave Master doesn’t make it in time, he will be angry!”
Zhang Yi spoke as he dragged Ding Ning towards the gates of Xue Wangxu’s rented courtyard.
Ding Ning’s brow furrowed slightly. “Who is it?”
Translator Ramblings: Outsourcing an assassination doesn’t go well …