This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.
Chapter 12: Crying At the Grave
In the south of Changling, the Divinity Bureau.
This ordinary-looking Taoist temple gave off a dark and cold presence. Other than the powerful people deep in the imperial palace, all the other powers in the Qin Dynasty held great wariness and fearful awe towards this place. Yet, many of the people in the building also had great wariness and fearful awe in their eyes.
This was all due to a woman in white robes.
Ye Celeng walked down the carriage and followed a grey stone path into a dark and cold courtyard. Threads of slanted light fell along the mottled wall and reached her body.
In the deepest courtyard, there was a carriage stopped next to a dying tree. The carriage was deep purple, the wood gave off a glow and was carved with flower patterns that layered together and was gilded with gold and jade. It was extremely luxurious.
Ye Celeng stopped and looked at this carriage. She smiled and said with slight sarcasm towards the study inside, “This should be the purple sandalwood carriage of Li Lingjun’s establishment. I had not expected you to take it. So the bureau chief of the Divinity Bureau likes materialistic items like this?”
“I do not care if this is a materialistic item, I just like the scent of the wood.”
A calm voice, that seemed hollow, passed through the half-opened door.
“You care about the smell but not the appearance. The wood is rare so it makes sense.” Ye Celeng slowly turned around. She did not walk further but looked at the floating dust motes in the light behind the half-open door. She said coldly, “Other people do not know your flying sword and cultivation, do I not? I have a reason to not want Bai Shanshui dead. What about you?”
There was silence behind the door for a moment. “Do you really not know?”
Ye Celeng said, “I really do not now.”
“The bow is put away when the birds are dead.” He said after a moment of silence, “But I do not do this just for myself.”
“No matter who it is for, I hope you will not do this in the future.”
Ye Celeng looked up and said calmly and coldly, “I am me, you are you. You should know that I do not want to owe you.”
There were no more words from behind the door. Ye Celeng too said nothing else as she turned to leave.
However, the moment she took a step, the hollow voice sounded again from behind the door. “Some things I did not record on the report. There are some problems with the path Bai Shanshui took. She seemed to have made a special trip to some alleys.”
Ye Celeng suddenly turned around.
A cultivator in yellow robes walked out of a carriage, and stepped onto the soft grass in a patch of forest outside Min Mountain Sword Sect.
The Min Mountain Sword Trials had finished. But the cultivation teachers and court officials had not completely left. From his yellow robes and presence, they knew where this yellow-robed cultivator came from, and had varied expressions in their eyes.
This yellow-robed cultivator was extremely respectful and understated in his conduct. He talked quietly with a green-robed student of Min Mountain Sword Sect in charge of reception before returning to the carriage and waiting quietly.
Thinking of how the noble mistress of the palace would not be in a good mood, the teachers of the cultivation places and the court officials did not dare to linger. Some of those who had wanted to stay longer left early. The forest quickly grew even quieter.
The green-robed cultivator of Min Mountain Sword Sect came back again. Zhang Yi silently followed behind him, passing through the forest, and onto the yellow-robed cultivator’s carriage.
The yellow-robed cultivator had reported his identity and reason in coming. But Zhang Yi could not understand why his status was enough for the noblest woman to make such arrangements. The closer he got to the carriage, the more uneasy he was.
When the yellow-robed cultivator saw Zhang Yi’s figure, he walked out of the cabin. Then he bowed slightly to the Min Mountain Sword Sect cultivator leading the way and Zhang Yi.
“The empress has me pass this letter to you.”
The yellow-robed cultivator did not say anything extra. He saw the Min Mountain Sword Sect cultivator move to the side and Zhang Yi walk in front of him. He took out a letter from his sleeve and handed it to Zhang Yi.
Zhang Yi immediately paled. Before he even touched this letter, his hands started to tremble.
But he did not make any sound. He looked down slightly and opened the letter. Seeing the delicate characters which contained a great power, his hands trembled even more violently.
After reading it three times and confirming he had not missed a character or misunderstood a meaning, he bowed slightly to the yellow-robed cultivator and then said, “I agree to this proposal.”
The yellow-robed cultivator looked at Zhang Yi’s pale but determined face and his still trembling hands. He reached out a hand, as though to draw back the letter, but when his finger touched this letter, it was crushed by a gentle power, turning into dust and dispersing from Zhang Yi’s hands.
Tthis yellow-robed cultivator was powerful but only an ordinary messenger for that perfect woman in the imperial palace.
In Min Mountain Sword Sect, there were some courtyards to the side of the green jade mountain. Some newly joined students, or students about to join to study like Zhang Yi temporarily lived there.
Zhang Yi returned to his temporary residence. He did not talk to Dugu Bai and the others. He shut the door to his room and prepared brush and paper.
His face was still pale but his hands had grown steady again.
He calmly wrote a letter, left it on the table, and then pushed the door open to leave.
A line of black clouds slowly flowed through the sky. A black goshawk passed through the cloud layer and suddenly glided over a black mountain.
The black mountain was not tall. It did not have any tree or grass, but numerous gravestones of various sizes that formed a forest.
An imperial procession stopped outside the mountain.
There was a grave in a mountain valley near the top of the mountain. The gravestone was a small coronet.
The Qi Emperor stood in this mountain valley with a mournful expression.
In the entire valley and on the entire mountain, he was the only person standing.
When Zhang Yi was leaving after having written a letter, he was reading a secret message that had reached his hand.
He was not so calm.
After closely reading the letter, he started to cry out loud, powerfully and sadly.
“Prospect Teacher! You left without a complaint, but after you left, I cannot eat or sleep. In my dreams, I see the Qin army break into the city without anyone to stop them.”
“Prospect Teacher! The Min Mountain Sword Trials have just finished. Do you know that Changling has another genius youth like Jin Liuli and An Baoshi?”
“Prospect Teacher! It is so hard to think about… When Ba Mountain Sword Field was at its peak, the Qin already had so many geniuses that people could not understand. Now, they are still endless. Does Yuanwu really have the Heavenly Mandate?”
“Prospect Teacher! Jin Liuli and An Baoshi are unrivaled by the youths of other dynasties. In another decade, I fear no one will be a match. But those two monsters are not enough. There is another one now. We are all right. You left behind your student who buried himself with you. What does this mean?”
“Whenever I think about it, I want to have died with you.”
“Prospect Teacher! If not for the people of Qi, I want to have gone with you.”
The Qi Emperor cried without any imperial presence, snot and tears flowing down. The grave in front of him had been deathly quiet, and lifeless. No cultivator could sense any presence. Yet, as his cries grew louder, the soil on the grave started to tremble minutely.
It was just black soil trembling, but it clearly gave off a disgust like it saw through the Qi Emperor.
The Qi Emperor’s eyes were wide as he stopped wailing. But he continued to occasionally sob.
That presence of disgust grew sharper as though it was a recluse who disliked being interrupted. The soil on the grave moved like incense in the wind. A dot of black light slowly appeared. A black grass giving off a dark and cold presence grew out.
This black grass only had one blade, and it faced the Qi Emperor when it was growing. But in a flash, the tip of the grass blade pointed in the direction of Changling.
The Qi Emperor stopped sobbing. After a moment of conflict, he bowed to the grave. When he turned around, his face was covered in tears, but there was a hint of joy deep in his eyes.