This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.
Chapter Seven: Invitation
Forefather Zhou’s hands stopped at the top of the young girl’s shoulders.
The clean but withered hands and the smooth and white skin of the young girl’s neck formed a strong contrast with a kind of evil beauty.
Because his mind was filled with violent and malicious emotions, he did not realize the passing of time. His hands were motionless. Zhou Susang did not know what he was doing and for a moment, shook uncontrollably.
Forefather Zhou was only startled awake when the clear trembling reached his palms.
His body moved back to his own cough. With a harmonious expression, he waved at the young girl, indicating she could leave. He also said softly, “There should be no problems. Just continue to cultivate.”
Zhou Susang’s anxiety immediately disappeared. She bowed respectfully to this old man before leaving.
Forefather Zhou did not watch her leave. He was silent, his head held low, and expression dark.
Time, to an old man like him, was extremely urgent. But for a powerful cultivator who was stuck at a certain obstacle but could not cultivate due to problems of the body that would cause his entire energy sea to solidify, losing the large amounts of time he once spent cultivating to idleness, made time appear extremely long.
Each breath was an ordeal.
A person amidst such an ordeal, that possessed great power but could not advance and only feel himself heading towards old age and death, would not feel pleased.
The only good thing was that he had more time than other cultivators to mull over matters.
From the beginning, his intentions were for Ding Ning to be short-lived.
The ultimate sword method of the Zhou Family Painting Remnant Scroll could not fall into the hands of outsiders. Otherwise, the gradually declining Zhou Family would lose its last foundation.
Based on his cultivation experience, before the Min Mountain Sword Trials started, Ding Ning’s energy sea would start to freeze.
At that time, he would not need to act. The opponents of the Min Mountain Sword Trials would make Ding Ning disappear from the world.
Now, Ding Ning was of no use to him in deciphering the Painting Remnant Scroll. First, he had to confirm the wine shop youth did not lie to him, and then he did not want this wine shop youth to die without meaning … meaning to him.
This a great event, an event that has never occurred nor will ever occur again. I cannot miss such a great event.
As he thought, Forefather Zhou’s hands laced together and his expression darkened as he spoke to himself.
The great event he spoke of was, of course, the Deer Mountain Conference.
The Deer Mountain Conference that the four great dynasties had set up nine years ago was a chance for the dynasties to fight with sagacity and courage, while evincing their profound strength.
The monarchs of the dynasties would come to Deer Mountain; the most spectacular people of each dynasty would also gather here.
Emperor Yuanwu had reached realm eight now. What kind of storm would he brew? All the cultivators in the world wanted to know and see with their own eyes.
Even though all of Deer Mountain would be sealed by the armies and cultivators of the different dynasties, if they managed to reach the peaks of mountains surrounding Deer Mountain, they would be able to glimpse the energy changes at the peak of Deer Mountain.
For cultivators like Forefather Zhou, being able to sense the changes in energy released by more powerful cultivators and feeling the paths through the world at a close distance would be a great opportunity.
For Forefather Zhou, the words Deer Mountain Conference brought to mind other matters.
Deer Mountain was not far from Wu Mountain. There was something useful to him hidden in Wu Mountain. But for Deer Mountain or Wu Mountain, he had to leave the Zhou Ink Garden.
It is time to go out.
Forefather Zhou looked up at the night sky and coldly said to himself.
Then he shouted, “Prepare the carriage.”
It would take half a day to travel from the Zhou Ink Garden to Falling Parasol. If he left now, he would be at Falling Parasol by daybreak.
In the darkness before dawn, Zhangsun Qianxue opened her eyes.
All the energies in her body related to cultivation was pulled back into her energy sea and then sunken into her jade palace.
The dark-colored sword in her jade palace started to greedily absorb the vital energy and primal energies of the universe that came in without needing her conscious thought.
Ordinary lifebond swords could not hold such a stunning amount of vital energy and primal energies of the universe. Yet this Nine Hell King Sword seemed to contain a true world within, a hell world.
Her perception also entered this sword, and expanded manyfold through the sword.
The countless little silkworms in Ding Ning’s body sensed her abnormality. He warily opened his eyes and said softly, “What is it?”
“Realm seven second class, energies not complete, energy sea half sealed,” Zhangsun Qianxue glanced at him and said slowly.
“Forefather Zhou. He should be coming to find me.”
Ding Ning confirmed the other’s identity without any hesitation. He smiled coldly. “He hid in Ink Garden for so many years without revealing himself. Everybody in Changling presumed he was dead. Now he comes to find me in person. This does not seem to be an ordinary matter.”
“Although his energy sea is half sealed, it only means that his vital energy and primal energies of the universe will not flow smoothly. He also primarily cultivates the star fiend condensation. Before the first year of Yuanwu, he had experienced many cruel battles … if we truly fight, I do not know if I can win.”
Zhangsun Qianxue said with rare seriousness, “You can resolve a person like this?”
Ding Ning considered, but did not respond.
Zhangsun Qianxue’s brows furrowed and she showed hints of disdain. “It seems that I have overthought. You have a protective talisman right now.”
Ding Ning understood her meaning but felt no shame. He said calmly, “Let’s see why he has come.”
Several carriages stopped at a street not far from Falling Parasol.
Inside the carriage at the centre, Forefather Zhou narrowed his eyes and looked at the city of Changling in the last threads of darkness before dawn.
After leaving Ink Garden, on the road here, he saw that the Changling before him had changed greatly from the Changling in his memories. It had become grander and vaster, and not as bloody as he remembered.
Many of the great compounds had disappeared.
There were no traces left.
So many things could be erased to the point of leaving no trace.
But he did not want himself to not leave a trace on this grand city.
When the first thread of dawn light appeared on Falling Parasol, Zhang Yi had risen and started cleaning the courtyard. His broom was always held a thread above the ground. Threads of energy flowed from his hand onto the ground to sweep away the fallen leaves and dust. Yet, there was no sound.
Keeping it quiet, was to avoid disturbing Xue Wangxu’s sleep.
He treated this kind of sweeping like a lesson. When he looked back on his cultivation in Falling Parasol, he discovered that his progress had been faster than in White Goat Cave.
He could not find the reason.
But Ding Ning knew the cause.
The mental state was most important in cultivation. When one, with a sincere heart went to focus on performing a matter, it was naturally easier to succeed.
Xue Wangxu had never been so weak before.
The extremely filial Zhang Yi had never worried as much for Xue Wangxu. Taking care of Xue Wangxu was the most important matter to him.
He poured his heart into every action and movement. How could he not progress quickly?
After sweeping the courtyard, Zhang Yi noiselessly opened the gates. He carried some dry wood and the stove outside to kindle fire. At this time, Ding Ning was opening up the shop like usual and it was at this time that Zhou Xieyi walked through the entrance to the alley.
Ding Ning had already known that Forefather Zhou had come in person, so he was not surprised. However, when Zhang Yi saw Zhou Xieyi appear, he was stunned.
“My family’s forefather wants to see you,” Zhou Xieyi said softly, as he walked in front of Ding Ning and bowed slightly with his head held low.
Ding Ning did not say much. He nodded and followed Zhou Xieyi to walk out of the alley.
When they neared the multiple carriages parked together, the curtain to Forefather Zhou’s carriage was pushed aside slowly by a gentle gust of power to reveal the figure of the person within.
Ding Ning bowed respectfully. He said, “How come you have come to meet me so early?”
Forefather Zhou focused on Ding Ning’s actions and expressions. A hint of indetectable cold flame flashed through his eyes. He felt that calmness could disguise many emotions.
The gentlest of smiles appeared on his face. He patted the cushioned seat next to him. Like he was beckoning to younger members of his Zhou Family, he said benevolently, “Come here to speak.”
Ding Ning respectfully sat like an obedient junior preparing to listen intently.
“I have come to see your cultivation.” Forefather Zhou benevolently reached out with two hands. Just like how he touched the young girl, his hands landed on Ding Ning’s arms.
Ding Ning’s expression did not change at all.
As his energy moved, Forefather Zhou’s breathing paused slightly. He did not sense anything abnormal. Ding Ning was just like he had expected.
So this meant that this wine shop youth had not comprehended something he had not?
Perhaps, he was too suspicious.
How could juniors like him cultivate more profound and correct things than him in such a short amount of time?
A hint of self-deprecation rose on the corner of his mouth and then turned into endless cold and violent emotion before rapidly turning into extreme gentleness.
“In a few days will be the Deer Mountain Conference that will decide the fate of the Qin Dynasty.”
He looked at Ding Ning and said gently, “This is a great event. I want you to accompany me to it. You can think about it.”
“While you may obtain many special opportunities, it will be very dangerous if you want to go to this kind of event.”
He paused before kindly adding. “Even the cultivators summoned by the Holy One to enter Deer Mountain may not be safe. We are unable to enter Deer Mountain. We can only watch from the nearest mountains and forests near Deer Mountain as we can get. But cultivators from other dynasties will also go, so conflict cannot be avoided. Even I cannot guarantee I will be unharmed. You do not have to answer me immediately and can think about it.”
You say that you cannot guarantee that you will be unharmed. It will naturally be normal for cultivators like me to die there. Ding Ning thought coldly inside. But his face betrayed no emotions except thoughtfulness.
Translator Ramblings: I think that Forefather Zhou is expressing a very human desire to matter in the world, especially since he excluded himself from the world and is facing the potential end of his life. Of course, he is quite a malicious and selfish person but his desire to matter does make humanize him slightly.