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Chapter 19: Abnormal
Chen Chu’s bones were shattered, and his organs crushed, but shockingly, he did not immediately fall down and die.
He still stood upright, and looked oddly at Forefather Zhou’s swollen abdomen.
“What meaning is there?”
He was the loser of this battle. As a grandmaster of the Chu Dynasty, he was about to die on Qin soil. Yet, as he looked at Forefather Zhou, his thin voice contained a quaint sympathy.
The words were hard to understand but Forefather Zhou knew the meaning of the words — his energy sea was so solidified, his organs were so incomplete, and his body was so old. He would need to consume large amounts of precious materials each day. Living like this was not pleasurable. What was the meaning in a person, that should have died before Emperor Yuanwu’s ascension, still living with an incomplete body like this?
Because he understood, Forefather Zhou’s expression grew dark.
“Even dead wood can grow in spring, much less when one is just a step away from heaven,” he said, looking coldly at Chen Chu.
“Centipedes die, but do not grow stiff. You want to reach the heavens?” Chen Chu said scornfully. Then his sympathetic gaze landed on Fu Su and Ding Ning. “When an insect on the verge of death is travelling, it is naturally poisonous. You have to be careful.”
Forefather Zhou smiled coldly, but said nothing.
With a soft poof, the last trace of strength supporting Chen Chu disappeared, he collapsed to the ground. It was impossible to connect his soft body to the realm seven grandmaster that had killed his way through the Xie Family caravan.
With his head slightly bowed, Ding Ning stood in silence.
Even some enemies were worthy of respect.
“What do they want to do?”
Fu Su’s gaze was focused on the distance where the dozen of Xie family hostages were.
While the Xie Family’s plan had succeeded, using two cultivators disguised as the Chen elder and child to put Chen Tuntian and this Chu Dynasty realm seven cultivator at odds, they had not expected the Chen Family to have such a realm seven in their midsts. As a result, the Xie Family had paid a great price with three dead and two wounded cultivators above realm five. The two cultivators disguised as the Chen old woman and child, had been exposed and killed. The Xie Family had nothing else that people had to be worried about. In his view, the remaining Chen family members would likely kill all the Xie family members being held hostage.
Yet, the Chen family members, disguised as horse bandits, did not do so. They also did not immediately flee. They seemed to be waiting.
“They want to talk.”
Ding Ning looked up at Fu Su and Xie Lianying, saying, “Chen Tuntian is dead, but the Chen Family has many other family members. The people here hope the Xie Family will spare them.”
“The key to doing business is to do business in peace. One should not steal the other’s last morsel.”
Xie Lianying nodded and looked at Ding Ning with a satisfied gaze. He had seen countless young talents, but none of them were as satisfying as Ding Ning.
“Who among you is in charge now?” Taking several steps forward, he spoke calmly, in a clear voice as he looked at the dispirited and miserable members of the Chen family.
An ordinary middle-aged man with short hair dismounted his horse, took several steps forward and bowed to Xie LIanying.
“Release our people, return our wares. The Xie Family will not directly attack the Chen Family.”
Xie Lianying nodded slightly in return and said meaningfully, “Your horses should be very quick.”
This middle-aged short-haired man that had replaced Chen Tuntian as the person in charge understood Xie Lianying’s meaning well.
If the Xie Family did not attack the Chen Family, even if the events here spread, everyone would know that the Chen Family had been a pawn that the Chu Dynasty had placed in Guanzhong. They had enough time to take their family members and flee.
“Thank you, we owe the Xie Family a favor.”
The middle-aged short-haired man bowed deeply again and then mounted his horse.
Today, he and the Xie Family were enemies that fought to the death. But now that victory had been determined, they were truly grateful due to the Xie Family’s promise.
The thunder of horse hooves sounded again. All the members of the Chen family started to flee.
Looking at the dozen Xie family members now safe in the distance, Xie Lianying turned to Ding Ning and said in a soft but serious voice, “Today, the Chen Family owes us a favor, but the Xie Family owes you a favor.”
Ding Ning said calmly and softly, “Xie Changsheng is my friend.”
Xie Lianying stilled slightly and laughed. He said, “This unaccomplished boy finally got a good friend.”
Having said so, he turned around and solemnly bowed to Forefather Zhou. “The Guanzhong Xie Family thanks Elder Zhou for your help.”
Forefather Zhou’s dark expression had faded, its benevolence and friendliness restored. “This is just a coincidence.”
Xie Lianying said seriously, “This is just a coincidence to Elder, but it is a matter of life and death to us.”
Forefather Zhou looked at Chen Chu’s corpse and said, “Obtaining the Chu weapons makes this worthwhile.”
“What is the Xie Family transporting?” As Xie Lianying and Forefather Zhou talked, Ding Ning looked at Xie Rou and asked softly.
Xie Rou hesitated for a moment before whispering. “Armaments.”
Ding Ning frowned and asked, “Very big?”
Xie Rou did not speak, but nodded.
Ding Ning whispered. “To Deer Mountain?”
Xie Rou did not speak or nod. To Ding Ning, this naturally was a tacit agreement.
Ding Ning frowned and said, “Why are they not worried in having the Xie Family transport these?”
Armaments were usually transported by the armies themselves. Those that could not be transported were usually things that could not accompany the army, in great numbers, or extremely heavy that would delay the movement of an army.
The armaments that had to be transported to Deer Mountain naturally would represent the power of a dynasty and would be enormous and deterrents.
Why were such armaments given to the Xie Family to transport, and not under the protection of cultivators of the dynasty?
Xie Rou took a deep breath.
This matter was extremely secret. But the Xie family had escaped the ordeal due to Ding Ning. Since he had guessed it correctly, there was no meaning in keeping it a secret.
“We are only transporting some spare parts of the armaments, not the crucial parts.” Xie Rou looked at Ding Ning and whispered, “Even if the Chen Family steals our wares, I fear they will only obtain a part of an armament.”
When the same words fell into Ding Ning and Fu Su’s ears, they created different ripples in their minds.
“Other than the Golden Crow Flame, what other powerful armaments does Changling possess?” Ding Ning frowned, feeling deeply anxious.
Fu Su was even more shocked. Had that thing finally been produced?
The dozen Xie family members who had been held hostages galloped over on their horses. Xie Rou went over immediately to ask them questions. When she returned to Ding Ning and Fu Su, Ding Ning asked with a small frown, “Are there problems with the cargo? Even someone like Chen Chu was not able to see anything?”
“There are no problems.”
Xie Rou’s eyes flashed with unspeakable joy. “Fortunately I asked. Chen Chu did inspect, but found no problems. He just thought that they are shafts for making arrows.”
Ding Ning frowned deeply, threads of cold filling his body.
Ordinary arrow shafts were naturally round but narrow and long items. If the army could not transport them, then they must be astounding in number.
For him, this meant that a certain idea from the former Ba Mountain Sword Field had become reality.
If it were as he said, then Emperor Yuanwu’s throne had become even stronger.
The Xie family members started to clean up. The members that had been held hostage were extremely tired but had not received serious injury.
The Xie family members collected the Worryfree Horn, the Silver Rakshasa Thumb Ring, and Chen Chu’s lifebond item to deliver them to Forefather Zhou.
Chen Chu’s lifebond item had been compressed into multiple droplets in his body, but it was in the form of a purple jade at the moment. The jade was the size of a fingernail, and not in the shape of a crescent moon. Its edges were irregular, appearing as though it had a piece that had broken off another item.
With a casual glance, Forefather Zhou called out gently for Ding Ning and Fu Su to return to him.
“Your sword is extraordinary, but is damaged. In the future, it will be hard to fit you. This Worryfree Horn is perfect to the White Goat Cave’s White Goat Sword Manual, but cannot be used rashly. If revealed, this Chu weapon of import will be the target of robbery by the Chu Dynasty cultivators.” As he looked at him benevolently, Forefather Zhou handed the Worryfree Horn to Ding Ning.
“You saw the capabilities of the Silver Rakshasa Thumb Ring just now. You also have to be careful in using this.” Saying so, he handed the Silver Rakshasa Thumb Ring to Fu Su.
These two items were truly important, and even surpassed the Snow Dandelion Sword that Li Lingjun had once given to Mo Chen.
As Ding Ning expressed his thanks, an unusual emotion flashed through his eyes.
Forefather Zhou could not be this generous. Even if Forefather Zhou wanted to show his generosity to him, Fu Su was just a friend keeping him company. He did not have to give such an important weapon to Fu Su.
Forefather Zhou’s actions were definitely out of the norm.
Translator Ramblings: I don’t think there’s been a single thing Forefather Zhou has done recently that Ding Ning doesn’t view with suspicion