This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.
Chapter 55: Life and Death Are Fated
In the morning, as the smoke started to burn, a small wind blew at the door curtain.
In the Falling Parasol wine shop, Zhangsun Qianxue had just started to cook the porridge. Suddenly, her beautiful and cold brows furrowed. Then she walked out of the inner courtyard towards the front hall.
Soon after, the half-open shop door creaked. Seeing that person, covered in dew, push open the door with familiarity, Zhangsun Qianxue asked, “How come it was so quick?”
Her tone was neutral, but compared to her usual treatment of people, this kind of tone was rare.
The only person who could casually push open the door and evoke such a tone from her was Ding Ning.
“I came back on Pan Ruoye’s fish-bird.”
Ding Ning took a dry cloth to wipe his face and body as he responded.
Zhangsun Qianxue had not seen him for a long time, and was not certain if they would meet again. But when she looked at his damp long hair, and pale features, she did not say much and simply asked, “How was it?”
Ding Ning glanced at her and said, “Li Caitian is dead, Fang Xiang is crippled. Emperor Chen of Han is dead. Yan Ying is dead. Song Chaosheng is dead. Guo Dongjiang is dead. Ye Xinhe is still alive, and seriously wounded. Minister Li has successfully cultivated the Yearning Sword. Yuanwu is fine, realm eight second class.”
Zhangsun Qianxue fell silent.
While she was usually too lazy to consider matters outside of cultivation, she was the most intelligent of people. Only she could speak to Ding Ning in such a manner. Also, the two of them were used to conversing like this.
“Ye Xinhe should die,” she said after a long silence.
She understood these people of the former Ba Mountain Sword Field. So, while Ding Ning spoke simply, she had discerned the truth from these simple words.
If Ye Xinhe had not been on Yuanwu’s side, then he would not be seriously injured and would have died along with those people.
Ding Ning put down the damp cloth in his hand and glanced at her. Her exquisitely stunning features had not changed much, but she was very angry.
“You do not need to be angry.”
Ding Ning looked down and started to find shoes to change. He said softly, “It is not just one or two that betrayed. After seeing enough, one becomes numb. It is not worthwhile to be angry.”
Zhangsun Qianxue did not answer him. She said after a moment of silence, “So many people, and they could not kill him?”
Ding Ning said gently, “That’s alright, we can wait.”
Zhangsun Qianxue’s anger started to suffuse her face. She felt that Ding Ning’s admonishment was hypocritical.
But Ding Ning had expected her to be like this. He lifted his head and said, “He and Zheng Xiu are people who understand how to use power and the cultivators of Qin the best. If we want to kill him, we must first take care of some people around him.”
“Previously, I said you were shameless, but he and Zheng Xiu are the most shameless.”
Zhangsun Qianxue took a deep breath. The frost on her face slowly disappeared but her tone became icier. “I take back what I said before. To deal with the most shameless people, one has to use some shameful tactics.”
Ding Ning looked at her and nodded. He did not immediately speak.
Given the habits of this pair, the matters concerning Deer Mountain had drawn to a close.
“Do you want to wash?” Zhangsun Qianxue saw Ding Ning looking chilled and asked.
She could guess that he had been in the cold wind at high altitude for too long. Based on this, she could guess the person in control of the spirit beast wanted to hurry back to Changling as fast as possible. Also, that person had expended a great amount of vital energy and primal energies of the universe, so they were unable to waste more to deflect the wind and cold in the sky.
After successfully returning alive, a hot water bath that he would usually have once every few days due to Zhangsun Qianxue’s sense of cleanliness became something he had missed greatly and would enjoy. Ding Ning smiled warmly but shook his head. He said, “I am hungry … I will go see Cave Master, and eat noodles with them.”
Zhangsun Qianxue did not say anything else, and turned to walk into the inner courtyard.
Ding Ning seemed to have suddenly thought of something and softly added. “Forefather Zhou is dead. The Zhou Family is finished.”
Zhangsun Qianxue did not even turn her head. Her cool voice passed over. “Will Changling even have the old nobility left? Who would care about this? Do you feel that I would feel any sympathy?”
Zhang Yi walked out of the door with a hot heater.
The wind was strong in the alley, and easier to create fire. If one added a crude metal funnel on top of the heater pipe, one did not even need to fan away the smoke and smell.
One should not use firewood that had dew on the surface. There did not need to be much dry grass to start the fire … Zhang Yi had memorized these details and they became a habit. As he came out of the door with the heater, he immediately looked down, wanting to take some of the firewood he had piled by the door.
But out of the corners of his eyes, he saw someone looking at him in amusement.
“Little Sect Brother?”
His eyes suddenly widened, and he instinctively called out.
When he looked up directly at Ding Ning, he reacted to his mistake. He shouted in joyful surprise. “Junior Brother Ding Ning!”
“Junior Brother Ding Ning has returned!”
“Little Sect Brother Shen Yi, quick, come out!”
This was undoubtedly a heartwarming matter. Hearing Zhang Yi’s shout, Ding Ning smiled, and shouted, “Bring my bowl as well. I am hungry.”
Zhang Yi could not be bothered with lighting the fire and heating water now that the junior sect brother he had missed the most had peacefully returned from Deer Mountain. In large strides, he welcomed Ding Ning into the courtyard and then took him to Xue Wangxu, helping the master, who had woken up long ago, with Shen Yi’s help.
“How come you returned so quickly? You did not go to Deer Mountain?” Xue Wangxu asked the moment he saw Ding Ning.
It had just been a day and night. At this time, the news about Deer Mountain Conference would not have passed back to Changling. Normally, if Ding Ning had been to Deer Mountain, he could not have returned to Changling this quickly.
Ding Ning did not add to the chaos. Watching as Zhang Yi and Shen Yi helped Xue Wangxu dress, he stood beside the bed and said, “However, it is a long story how I returned so quickly.”
Xue Wangxu stilled but laughed. He said, “Fortunately, I have enough time. No rush. It is good you returned.”
He had gone to Deer Mountain?
And returned by this time?
Had he flown, and flown faster than the carrier pigeons and hawks that carried messages?
Zhang Yi and Shen Yi could not understand, but their breathing sped up.
Of course, Ding Ning knew what he and all of Changling wanted to know. He thought, and said directly, “Our dynasty won.”
While he had not given out any details, the word “won” caused Zhang Yi and Shen Yi to be immersed in indescribable excitement.
Their eyes filled with unusual light, lips and hands trembling.
This represented the mood of Changling and all ordinary people of the Qin Dynasty.
A thread of disdain appeared at the corners of Ding Ning’s lips.
Were Qin people like him untolerated by the world?
Then, looking at Zhang Yi and Shen Yi, he added, “Our dynasty won significantly. Emperor Yuanwu is already realm eight second class.”
Zhang Yi and Shen Yi failed to notice that Ding Ning did not address Emperor Yuanwu as ‘the Holy One’ like they did. Just this news was enough to make them lose all sense of judgement.
“This is really great …”
Zhang Yi expended great effort to say in a trembling voice.
“But I still want to eat noodles, I am still very hungry.” Ding Ning looked at him and then said seriously to Xue Wangxu, “Let’s go eat noodles.”
“You are right, we will go eat noodles.”
Xue Wangxu also laughed as well.
But even he could not completely understand Ding Ning’s emotions at the moment.
Ding Ning did not deliberately say such words to calm Zhang Yi and Shen Yi. His words contained mainly helplessness and endurance. Since there was such a disparity, there was no meaning in considering those matters.
Upon returning to Changling, his identity was of an ordinary White Goat Cave student. What he needed to consider was the upcoming Min Mountain Sword Trials, and to obtain the cultivation method, so he could live.
When one was unable to obtain some things, the best recourse was to temporarily forget them.
“Shop Owner, one bowl of Pickled Intestine Soup, add some bean sprouts, one poached egg, extra noodles.”
“Ding Ning? You returned?”
“So long no see. Where did you go?”
“I wonder how the Holy One is doing at Deer Mountain.”
After some friendly greetings, Ding Ning picked up his noodle bowl. He ate boisterously with unusual gusto.
In reality, a place like Falling Parasol was very good. It was enough for him to settle his mind deeply. Even if these people speculated, they could not connect him to Deer Mountain and those on Deer Mountain.
“What, you have matters on your mind?”
Looking at Ding Ning who had buried his head in the bowl, Xue Wangxu asked as he put down his chopsticks.
Ding Ning paused slightly.
Lifting his head up from the large bowl, he looked at Xue Wangxu, and asked softly, “If … I say if, if you can continue to live, but have to maintain such aging without any change, would you choose to live?”
Xue Wangxu stilled slightly.
Then he tapped his chopsticks on the edge of the bowl and said, “Is not that a waste of words? A good death is naturally not as good as a wretched life.”
At this time, he still did not understand Ding Ning’s true meaning. After tapping the edge of the bowl, he moved his chopsticks to eat and said at the same time, “Life and death are fated. Do not worry too much about my health. If Min Mountain Sword Trials reaches expectations … that should be enough.”
Translator Ramblings: Ding Ning gets along very well with his neighbours.