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Chapter 65: Her Stance
The blue-black light disappeared. Zhangsun Qianxue’s figure appeared in front of Fan Zhuo.
Seeing Fan Zhuo kill himself with a secret Cloud Water Palace art after his vital energy energy was frozen, Zhangsun Qianxue showed no pride on her face, but a thread of bewilderment and sorrow.
He had been an enemy of Emperor Yuanwu. Now, there was one less.
After a moment of hesitation, she reached out to have several tendrils of energy search Fan Zhuo’s body. She found all the things inside Fan Zhuo’s clothes and put them into her sleeves without even examining them closely.
In the next moment, countless invisible paths seemed to appear in the world around her. Serene and arctic energy was pulled out through these paths, and quickly disappeared into the world.
All the blue color disappeared. The ice pillar collapsed to the ground.
Zhangsun Qianxue frowned deeply again.
She knew that the distant corner turret had sensed the abnormality here and cultivators should be hurrying to this place. But she was not skilled in many things, such as destroying corpses. She deliberated for a long time before coming to a decision.
She released a vast wave of primal energies of the universe and crushed the surrounding pieces of ice into dust. A wild wind blew over the river, and filled in all the holes in the ice. Her body then landed at the center of the destroyed carriage.
Her vital energy was extremely cold, but as her face flushed red, she turned that energy into a hot flow.
In the next moment, the burning vital energy, with her body as the center, erupted and formed fiercely burning snakes of fire. Some fire snakes kindled all the huts, while several wrapped around Fan Zhuo’s remains to turn him into dust in a flash. Then a strong wind blue and the dust scattered.
Zhangsun Qianxue’s body was covered by the burning flames and disappeared.
A short while later, several cultivators in black robes reached the site of the fire. Feeling the remaining unstable vibrations in the air, their demeanour underwent a change. The leading cultivator raised a hand and a pillar of black smoke shot into the air.
Changling was extremely large. While Falling Parasol was not far from the Great Floating Water Prison on the map, even using the shortest path, a carriage would need to travel for most part of the day.
Due to the delay in the Great Floating Water Prison, it was already dark when Ding Ning was making his return to Falling Parasol. His eyes were closed and he appeared extremely tired. In reality, he was pondering over the possibilities.
At this time, the temporary village built by duck farmers near the Wei River had long burned down to the ground. Several officials from the Astrology Bureau dressed in black robes stood straight as they surrounded this area.
Suddenly, the eyes of these dozens of black-robed officials shone with an odd light. Many carriages entered this site, travelling along earthen paths and stopped just outside the woods.
While there was no wind or rain at the moment, the five people who came off the carriages still opened their black umbrellas to cover their faces. A woman in white robes and an old man dressed like a servant walked in the middle of these five black umbrellas.
The white-robed woman was naturally the bureau chief of the Astrology Bureau, Ye Celeng. The servant-like old man next to her was the strongest of the six academicians of the Astrology Bureau, Han Sanshi. The other five iconic black umbrellas naturally represented the five other mysterious academicians of the Astrology Bureau.
Ye Celeng only made a hand gesture from far away, and the dozens of Astrology Bureau officials surrounding the area immediately moved outwards and expanded the perimeter they were locking down and monitoring.
Ye Celeng and Han Sanshi walked slowly along the charred ground until they finally stood where Zhangsun Qianxue’s carriage had shattered.
The five umbrellas spread apart, and using their fine senses to comb every inch of the ground for remnant energies.
This process continued for a long time. When the sky was completely dark, the five Astrology Bureau academicians under the five umbrellas finally exchanged opinions with Han sanshi. During this time, Ye Celeng only looked on, calmly, at the scorched remains. She did not even listen to their conversation. She only looked at Han Sanshi when he walked next to her.
She asked, “How is it?”
“It is her,” Han Sanshi said, softly.
Ye Celeng immediately asked, “The opponent was a member of Cloud Water Palace?”
Han Sanshi nodded slightly and said, “Yes.”
Ye Celeng grew silent.
Han Sanshi also grew silent.
“Erase all the traces we can detect.”
Ye Celeng’s face was veiled by darkness. Although her emotions could not be seen, her tone was unusually determined. “Do not record this and do not tell the other bureaus.”
Han Sanshi was the oldest academician of the Astrology Bureau, and the only person Ye Celeng had taken overseas. He knew better than anyone the meaning in Ye Celeng’s words.
His hands grew cold. He asked softly, “Not even Bureau Chief Chen?”
Ye Celeng nodded and said, “No.”
In the night, Ding Ning walked back to the wine shop.
Before this, he had gone to Xue Wangxu’s courtyard, and spoke with Xue Wangxu, Zhang Yi, and Shen Yi about some of the events in the Great Floating Water Prison.
When he entered the wine shop and closed the door, Zhangsun Qianxue’s voice sounded in the darkness. “You were correct. I am not skilled in many things.”
Ding Ning, who was extremely familiar with Zhangsun Qianxue, immediately stopped breathing and asked, “What happened?”
Zhangsun Qianxue spoke slowly. “I killed that cultivator of Cloud Water Palace. That person was extremely strong, he should be Fan Zhuo.”
Hearing the word “killed,” Ding Ning’s body quickly grew cold. When he heard the entire sentence, he thought of how he had been pondering over how to work together with Bai Shanshui to prison break the Great Floating Water Prison. He was so furious that he started to tremble. “You promised to wait … why did you not wait!”
Unexpectedly, Zhangsun Qianxue was not angry instead she explained. “It is not that I have no patience, but because he wanted to kill Wang Taixu’s subordinate, and I did not want him to do so.”
At this explanation, Ding Ning’s anger quickly dissipated. However, the coldness he felt caused him to still tremble. He took a deep breath, walked in front of Zhangsun Qianxue and asked, “What did you do after killing Fan Zhuo?”
Zhangsun Qianxue did not want to think back to the events. With a furrowed brow, she said, “I did my best to disguise the presence of the Nine Hell King Sword. I used a move from the Zhao True Fire Palace to burn his corpse and the surroundings.”
Ding Ning thought for a moment and asked, “What were your thoughts at that moment?”
Zhangsun Qianxue said, “Even if I could not disguise my presence completely, at least I had to make sure no one could sense who I killed.”
“Your thoughts are correct.” Ding Ning calmed down and spoke slowly. “But Fan Zhuo is not an ordinary cultivator. If you wanted to kill him, you had to use at least realm seven second class power. This kind of power cannot be completely erased. The Astrology Bureau and the Divinity Bureau can all sense it.”
Zhangsun Qianxue bowed her head slightly and spoke in a cool voice. “Thus, I admit that I am not skilled in many things.”
Ding Ning thought for a moment and said, “You cannot be blamed this time. Perhaps with this incident, we can discern the true stance of a person.”
Zhangsun Qianxue asked in puzzlement, “Who?”
Ding Ning looked at her and said, “Ye Celeng.”
Zhangsun Qianxue’s voice immediately grew cold and she said, “You think too much.”
Ding Ning did not argue and shook his head. He laughed bitterly.
If he was really thinking too much. If Ye Celeng used the power of Bai Shanshui and helped Bai Shanshui in avenging, then he would not last until the start of the Min Mountain Sword Trials.
A person like Bai Shanshui treated lives like ants and would not have any misgivings.
In the face of a person’s frenzied slaughter, who would be able to conceal their secrets?
If he could not wait until the start of the Min Mountain Sword Trials, even if he could enter Changling once again in the future, would he still be able to enter Min Mountain Sword Sect and obtain the Heaven Replenishing Divine Art?
When Ding Ning thought of Xue Wangxu, his bitterness grew.
In the thick darkness, the rivershore that had been burnt looked like a region of hell. A silent flow of water appeared on the surface of the frozen river.
Bai Shanshui, dressed in white fox fur and looking like a soft young master from a rich family with pale skin and handsome features, exuded an indescribable noble presence as he rose from the center of the water flow.
This great rebel of the Cloud Water Palace, an existence whose name caused countless people to tremble at just the mention of the name, could sense many Qin cultivators nearby in the woods. But he did not care.
He only needed a moment.
A glittering teardrop fell from his eye and disappeared silently onto the ice. Numerous white beads of water appeared under the ice by his feet.
Seeing these numerous white droplets, he was sure that Fan Zhuo had caused the battle and was slain here.
He took a deep breath and closed his eyes.
In the darkness, countless small water droplets flew upwards from the burnt ashes. In his senses, there was a fire rising from the ground, and a black stalk of bamboo growing and swaying in the night mist.
Translator Ramblings: On a completely unrelated note to this chapter, Su Qin and Zhang Yi are both historical figures, students of Guiguzi and diplomats during the Warring States Period. Fantasy history took a hard right and now they are swordsmen born a few centuries after their historical birthdate during the years of Qinshihuang. I didn’t even realize it until now …