This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.
Chapter 18: In The Rain, A Guest Arrives
Wang Taixu left this small courtyard.
Ding Ning laid down on the soft couch in the bedroom. The feeling of aging inside and the tiredness due to using up energy in healing should have made him sleepy. Yet, in this quiet room, he felt no drowsiness, and became increasingly anxious.
This was really his problem.
He knew that the source of the feeling stemmed from the fact his revenge had truly begun. Like an arrow leaving a bow, there was no way back. This feeling came from the fact that he was waiting for Zhangsun Qianxue right now.
Zhangsun Qianxue was used to only focusing on cultivation and having him to think on other matters over the years they spent quietly cultivating in the Changling alley and waiting for the time for revenge. He was used to Zhangsun Qianxue waiting in Falling Parasol’s wineshop for him. Here coldness seemed to be the origin for his calmness and quietness in these years.
When one had a habit, they would have a weakness.
He was anxious, and could not calm himself. This easily led him to think of many other things. He thought of the people who had died long ago, and also of Xue Wangxu who had recently died. In this quiet room, Ding Ning felt increasingly alone. Yet, the sorrow and anger in his chest burned like a wildfire.
Cold and familiar footsteps reached his ears.
“Who is the Min Mountain Sword Sect person out there?”
Seeing Zhangsun Qianxue push open the door and enter, Ding Ning’s gaze stopped on her beautiful face, he did not immediately answer the question he heard.
Zhangsun Qianxue was slightly displeased and frowned slightly.
Ding Ning took a deep breath and said, “Shao Sharen. I remember mentioning him to you. A disciple that the old Min Mountain Sword Sect master picked and brought back to the mountain. He is the best at killing people. If it really is a fight to the death, everyone in Min Mountain Sword Trials, except for Baili Suxue, will die at his hand, including Tantai Guanjian.”
Zhangsun Qianxue frowned. She thought back for a moment and said coldly, “Why do I not remember you mentioning Shao Sharen to me?”
Ding Ning felt cold all over. He felt that there was something gravely wrong with his condition today, and he had accidentally said something majorly mistaken.
But Zhangsun Qianxue was slightly irritated today and did not think more or linger on the topic. Her expression grew colder. She said, “Bai Shanshui came to find me that night in Falling Parasol.”
Ding Ning’s body felt even colder. He struggled to lift his head and looked at Zhangsun Qianxue. “Wang Taixu told me people from the Astrology Bureau have been appearing around Falling Parasol in the last few days. I did not understand before. Now, it must be that Bai Shanshui travelled by Falling Parasol that night… Other than me, there is no one else worthy of Bai Shanshui’s attention in Falling Parasol. So the Astrology Bureau must be investigating what relationship Bai Shanshui has with us.”
Zhangsun Qianxue’s face turned frosty. “Ye Celeng would connect this to Fan Zhuo’s death so… she will quickly realize my true identity?”
Ding Ning was silent for a moment. “You must leave Changling.”
Zhangsun Qianxue said after a long pause. “I will not leave Changling.”
Ding Ning’s face turned blood red. But due to his strong emotions, he could not speak when he opened his mouth. Instead, he coughed violently.
“Leave Changling, and then continue to flee endlessly?” Zhangsun Qianxue calmed down and said coldly, “I want to gamble.”
Ding Ning finally regained his breath and said furiously. “How will you gamble?”
“Everyone wants to see Ye Celeng’s true attitude.” Zhangsun Qianxue sneered. “Everyone wants to see if Ye Celeng is really one of Emperor Yuanwu’s or, will still hold towards that person who taught her the sword.”
“And then? If she really is one of Emperor Yuanwu, you will wait to be attacked by an army like Bai Shanshui? Not every person has the same luck as Bai Shanshui. Not everyone has a sword-wielding expert to block death for her!” Ding Ning roared, extremely furious.
“This is my business. If you feel it hopeless, you can leave Changling.”
Zhangsun Qianxue glanced coldly at Ding Ning and said with slight disdain, “Have you not been thinking of seeing who Ye Celeng sides with all this time?”
Ding Ning could not speak. He knew he could not change what she had decided.
“This is yours.”
Zhangsun Qianxue took out a copper green box from her sleeve and handed it to Ding Ning.
Ding Ning looked at the copper box containing the Human Sovereign Jade Annulus silently.
“You were in such a hurry to return to Changling, but do not want to speak when you see me?” Zhangsun Qianxue rarely saw Ding Ning in such low spirits. She said in her usual cold tone, “If you do not want to leave Changling and want to stay and gamble with me, then at least, tell me what I need to do next.”
Ding Ning took a deep breath and slowly said, “Since the Astrology Bureau has sensed something, if you are unwilling to leave Changling, then we can only wait for the result here… Also, help me heal.”
Zhangsun Qianxue glanced at Ding Ning. She did not speak. She indicated for Ding Ning to move to the side, and then pulled down the silk curtain and laid down by Ding Ning’s side.
She, like many other cold female cultivators. had a strong compulsion for cleanliness. Ding Ning was not clean today, and the salves for his wounds had seeped through the gauze to touch the bed. Yet, this time, she did not try to refuse. But as she laid down, her tightly pressed lips trembled.
Just like usual, she laid sideways. Ding Ning could not see her face. His entire mind was focused on his own wounds and cultivation problems.
He had Zhangsun Qianxue wait, but he himself had to make some preparations.
Countless small sounds came from inside his body. The yellow mark in the pure white jade annulus started to pulse in his hand. Surges of hot energy seemed to race through his meridians. The heat caused the meridians to feel like they were about to burn. Yet, each time when a fire was going to start, the cold presence coming off Zhangsun Qianxue would subdue the heat, and then the two would merge together perfectly.
These energies flowed through his body along the paths of Min Mountain Sword Sect’s cultivation method. The damaged parts of his body seemed to receive rain like dried earth, and started to heal at an unimaginable speed to ordinary cultivators.
The first step to his revenge had always been to join Min Mountain Sword Sect. This was because the vital energy cultivation method of Min Mountain Sword Sect and the Nine Death Silkworm he cultivated were astoundingly complementary. Adding on the Human Sovereign Jade Annulus, and Zhangsun Qianxue’s paired cultivation, his healing and cultivation speed reached an unimaginable and unprecedented level to him..
Even he did not know but the Last Flower remnant sword beside him lit up as though it had met someone from its past. Fine white flowers started to bloom and wither along the blade.
Thunder rang through the sky and then the rumbling fell down.
The bright summer day was driven away by thick clouds and rain. A storm poured down, caught many people off guard.
The rain flowed down like a curtain from the eaves. Ye Celeng sat on a bamboo chair, barefoot and hugging her knees like an innocent young girl. She looked into the distant black sky. She looked at the flashes of lightning. She looked in the direction of Ink Garden.
The coldness Zhangsun Qianxue gave off stayed a few feet around her. Even Shao Sharen, who was in a carriage outside Ink Garden’s gates, could not sense it. Yet, Ye Celeng seemed to feel the coldness coming from deep within Ink Garden. Her face had an unusual flush, but her body trembled uncontrollably like she was cold.
No one knew her true thoughts.
In these years, even Bureau Chief Chen who was closest to her, and the old servant who always followed her did not know what she truly thought.
She lived in Changling, with great glory but also great hardship.
In the storm last year, she came back from overseas due to orders. Someone from the Sword Furnace, who had never entered Changling, had entered. She sensed that the unchanging Changling with its white walls and black tiles seemed to be indescribably changing.
Now, her feelings were proven correct.
The change started in the storm last year. What changes would occur in the storm this year?
The heavy courtyard gates were pushed open slowly from the outside.
Ye Celeng suddenly looked up.
A crystal light appeared in the curtain of rain ahead. The falling rain droplets suddenly halted as though they were going to fly horizontally towards the person entering through the gates.
As she frowned, the rain droplets broke through the restrain and fell towards the ground again.
Someone pushed open the door to open and then closed it behind them.
This was a tall woman in indigo robes. Her indigo robes appeared too large and stuck to her body. But what made her appear disheveled was her knotted and messy hair. Her skin was white and smooth, but there was no blood.
She looked like an ordinary traveller who had been rained on for a long time and did not give off any powerful presence.
Yet Ye Celeng knew who she was. She knew it was not her distraction that caused her to not detect the other until the gates were opened, but because the other could merge into one with the rain.
Ye Celeng stood up, her expression cold. She sneered. “This rain suddenly falls and suddenly stops. Bai Shanshui, you really do not want to live, or is there too much water in your head that you dare come to seek me here?”