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Chapter 14: Yan, Shangdu
In Falling Parasol, whenever Ding Ning was holding his noodle bowl in the morning, he often thought about ways to join the Min Mountain Sword Sect. Going through Wang Taixu to enter White Goat Cave was because after White Goat Cave merged with Green Vine Sword School, the students of White Goat Cave would be qualified to attend the Min Mountain Sword Trials.
However, the best laid plans are also bound to encounter unexpected changes.
In White Goat Cave, he encountered Li Daoji who brought him the Last Flower remnant sword, encountered a teacher like Xue Wangxu, encountered a senior sect brother like Zhang Yi and a junior sect brother like Shen Yi. There was also the information he obtained about Lin Zhujiu before killing Song Shenshu in Fish Market.
Lin Zhujiu had been in the Great Floating Water Prison for many years now. For this man, there was no hope. He was just surviving on that thread of obsession.
Each time he heard the sound of water in Changling, no matter if it was rain from the sky or the flow of water from washing rice and clothes on the streets, he could not be at ease. So his step had been a bit too fast, a bit too hurried.
“Emotion” was his greatest weakness. But after experiencing many things, he understood even more that “emotion” was more important than anything else in the world. This was the greatest difference between him and the masters of Changling- Yuanwu and Zheng Xiu.
He could have an accident, but not Zhangsun Qianxue.
Even though he knew that Zhangsun Qianxue was smarter than most people and just did not like to think about matters other than cultivation, once he took the first step, the unattended Falling Parasol would not be as calm as usual, and she would enter more people’s eyes.
“Sect Uncle Shao, when we reach Changling, please find an old bookstore for me first.”
Feeling the new changes that the vital energy cultivation method of Min Mountain Sword Sect brought to his body, Ding Ning lifted his head slightly and spoke to Shao Sharen who was serenely driving the carriage.
Shao Sharen nodded slightly and responded simply without asking the reason, “All right.”
Ding Ning immediately felt reassured. He put down the book in his hand and closed his eyes.
His energies once again calmly flowed along the vital energy method of Min Mountain Sword Sect. He had reached realm four.
Realm four Energy Fusing, realm five Spirit Thought. Based on his previous cultivation speed, he would need many years to reach realm four. Yet, he had the Chu Emperor’s Human Sovereign Jade Annulus, and the Three Corpses Nonself Consciousness Sutra that he had accidentally obtained in White Goat Cave. Even if he temporarily could not obtain the Heaven Replenishing Divine Art, just by the cultivation method he obtained now from Min Mountain Sword Sect, his cultivation speed would multiply.
It was the beginning of summer now. When winter solstice came, he could reach realm five if everything went well.
The sun was setting.
Ding Ning’s carriage was heading towards Changling. In the opposite direction, Zhang Yi was following the wheel tracks of some carriages as he walked aimlessly on the path. Seeing the dimming wilderness under the sunset, he felt lonely and sad. He did not notice a Min Mountain Sword Sect cultivator in green robes appear on the ridge behind him.
This Min Mountain Sword Sect cultivator saw Zhang Yi’s figure and his eyes lit up. He was about to walk faster when he frowned and suddenly stopped walking.
“What are you thinking about?”
A cold voice reached Zhang Yi’s ears.
Zhang Yi suddenly woke up and looked at the sound. He saw a black-robed man standing beside the road on the grass.
This black-robed man had cold features that appeared ageless. He only had a presence that the present nobility could not rival.
Zhang Yi did not recognize this black-robed man, but just from how the other could appear in front of him undetected meant the other’s cultivation far surpassed his. He bowed with a stunned expression.
“I know you feel many emotions within.”
The black-robed man glanced at him and then looked at the grass under the setting sun. He said in self-deprecation with his hands behind his back, “Even if it is not this sad scene of weeds in the setting sun, even in the most prosperous part of Changling, I would feel many emotions frequently… Changling is so large and has changed greatly, why do they not tolerate me?”
Zhang Yi stilled. He did not understand the black-robed man’s intentions and unconsciously called out.
“Ye Zhengnan is one of mine.”
The black-robed man waved his hand and said with a powerful presence, “I do not want Zheng Xiu to have what she wished so I wagered against her. I had not expected your junior sect brother to refuse my goodwill. But now, it appears that his choice was correct. He does not need our help at all.”
Zhang Yi’s breathing stopped. He felt coldness rise.
Before the Min Mountain Sword Trials ended and during the event, many people’s performances and identities would be a secret. But after the Min Mountain Sword Trials ended, many people’s identities would naturally float out of the water as details of the event spread. Some speculations would never be proven, but many smart people would have a vague answer.
“We are the old nobility that many in Changling talk about.” Seeing Zhang Yi stop breathing, the black-robed man’s lips curved as he directly exposed the answer.
Zhang Yi knew very well the meaning of the “old nobility” the man spoke of. He said with a stiff expression, “Why did you find me?”
“Do not misunderstand.”
The black-robed man looked coldly at Zhang Yi with confidence and said, “Where do you want to go now?”
Zhang Yi hesitated but did not speak.
The black-robed man said with slight scorn, “Accept Zheng Xiu’s arrangements and go to a border land like Ying Base where there are not many households to teach them cultivation?”
Zhang Yi was dumbfounded.
The black-robed man glanced at him and said, “You do not need to go… Before you arrived, that little cultivation place that does not even have a realm four cultivator will disappear. That place will be cleaned by horse bandits.”
Zhang Yi felt endless cold, his eyes full of disbelief.
“You find it hard to understand, and feel that I could not have read the letter Zheng Xiu wrote to you?” The black-robed man read his thoughts and did not give him the chance to speak. He said directly, “There are many paths to accomplishing a goal. I cannot read the letter Zheng Xiu wrote you, but from the orders she sent towards that kind of border town, I may know what she wants you to do. Or rather, there are my people among the officials responsible for carrying out her decrees. Before you go, that cultivation place and that small town have already disappeared. You do not have to follow her orders. To avoid you worrying, I can even create the illusion you died during the trip.”
Zhang Yi took a deep breath and suppressed his shock. He looked at this black-robed man who brought nightfall earlier and said in a trembling voice, “What do you want me to do?”
“I said before to not misunderstand.”
The black-robed man smiled faintly. “You and your junior sect brother Ding Ning’s performance satisfied me. I just want Zheng Xiu to not have an easy time. I do not mind doing more. Since Changling will not tolerate you, there are other places in the world that can. I am just introducing a place to you.”
Zhang Yi could not understand. “What place?”
The black-robed man said, “Yan, Shangdu, Celestial Seal Sect.”
Zhang Yi’s body shook. He unconsciously shouted in shock. “How is that possible!”
The black-robed man frowned and looked calmly at him, “You feel it is impossible?”
“The Celestial Seal Sect is the top sect of the Yan Dynasty. I am Qin. Even with your recommendation, how can Celestial Seal Sect accept me?” Zhang Yi looked at the black-robed man and said in astonishment, “Also, even if Celestial Seal Sect will accept me, how can I, as Qin, go to a sect of the Yan?”
“Why will they not accept you? Celestial Seal Sect will look down on a student that Min Mountain Sword Sect wanted?”
The black-robed man laughed scornfully. “Since I have said, I am certain that Celestial Seal Sect will accept you. The key is whether you will go or not… As you say, you are Qin, you do not go to an enemy country sect, so what? Go to the border of the Qin, search for a small village, live peacefully in mediocrity, marry and live your life. When you are old, think back to your life in Changling. Maybe when you hear of the tragic experiences of your junior sect brothers in Changling, you will be soft and powerless, unable to provide them any help?”
Zhang Yi’s body trembled uncontrollably. He started to sweat but his limbs were cold.
The black-robed man turned towards the setting sun and said slowly, “Unlike Zheng Xiu, I will not request you do anything. You do not feel you need to have any connection to me even after you go to Celestial Seal Sect. Also, there is not only just Min Mountain Sword Sect in the world. Celestial Seal Sect may not be any less than Min Mountain Sword Sect. Zheng Xiu will not let you stay in Min Mountain Sword Sect, but I will give you a similar cultivation place… In the future, it’s too far away. It is a joke to say that after you learn the tactics of an enemy country, you will become an enemy of the Qin.”
“Only the truly strong can determine where their path is.”
The black-robed man turned to glance at Zhang Yi and left, stepping on the grass. His voice clearly reached Zhang Yi’s ears.
“But you have to first become truly strong.”
Translator Ramblings: Historically, the Yan had 5 capitals. Xiadu (Lower Capital) is one of the most famous for being the largest city in the world during a period of time. The capital of Yan moved from Shangdu (Upper Capital) to Zhongdu (Middle Capital) and then Xiadu due to threats from the north. Shangdu, better known as the City of Ji, is located in one of the districts of Beijing. So Zhang Yi is essentially going to Beijing.