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Chapter 20: Guests in Succession
“If I lose my wager, and Ye Celeng is one of Yuanwu’s people, would we be able to escape Changling like Bai Shanshui?”
“No. If your true identity is exposed, and I won the Min Mountain Sword Trials, Zheng Xiu will certainly make connections… Us added together is more important than the entire Lonely Mountain Sword Hoard.”
“You and Shao Sharen encountered an assassination attempt from two Nanyue cultivators coming here?”
“Not two Nanyue cultivators, one Nanyue cultivator, and one Yelang cultivator. Wang Taixu managed to get such information. This means the officials performing the investigation are not good enough.”
“It’s Zheng Xiu?”
“She will not be so unskilled. She is just borrowing the sword to kill others. This is what she is best at. This time, she is not borrowing someone else’s sword to kill me, but Min Mountain Sword Sect’s sword to kill these two cultivators.”
“Who wanted to kill you?”
“A person able to use Nanyue and Yelang’s grandmaster is likely no one else except that Chu person who came to Falling Parasol.”
In Ink Garden, Ding Ning and Zhangsun Qianxue would have discontinued conversations every day.
The duration of their conversations was short, just like usual, but they concerned the matter of life and death.
The two’s emotions calmed down.
After the rainstorm, Changling was unusually calm. The sky was blue, and coldness seeped into the rooms. This was rare cold weather in the summer.
In the morning, Ding Ning ate pickled cabbage and intestine noodles. He pulled out a copper shovel from the side room that the former servants of Ink Garden used for storage. He walked into the garden, and slowly started to turn the soil and move some plants around.
“You also know how to use formations to make improvements to the situation?”
Zhangsun Qianxue hung wet laundry on the rope. It was an odd feeling when a beautiful woman like her did this menial chore. It felt like this scene should not occur.
Ding Ning looked at her and after a pause said, “Cultivators are improving and changing. One cannot look down on other methods.”
“I fear what killed him in the past was not just the sword, but many methods he looked down upon back then,” Zhangsun Qianxue looked down and said coolly.
Ding Ning nodded after a moment of silence.
“No wonder he always dreamed of obtaining the Min Mountain Sword Sect cultivation method back then. Other people will not be able to stand and walk after three months with these injuries, but you healed to such a degree after several days.” Zhangsun Qianxue looked at Ding Ning and said, “It appears that you know the results of his cultivation method and Min Mountain Sword Sect’s method coming together. If he was not too proud back then, not wanting to use lowly meaning to obtain the method and if Baili Suxue was not so small-minded to close the gates of Min Mountain Sword Sect to him… if he had obtained the cultivation method of Min Mountain Sword Sect back then, maybe the result would have been different.”
Ding Ning looked down at the copper shovel in his hand and said, “There are not so many ifs.”
Zhangsun Qianxue turned around to walk towards the small courtyard. “Did Baili Suxue really become unwilling to interact with him because he was criticized for his sword forms and said that some were not good to use?”
Ding Ning paused slightly and said, “I do not know.”
Zhangsun Qianxue did not speak. Their conversation ended just like it used to.
Ding Ning put his head back down and continued to dig. He made some gullies and moved some plants and stones.
Countless little silkworms in his body spat out thread-like vital energy to form an unique circulation. the energies of his body flowed according to the vital energy method of Min Mountain Sword Sect.
Any cultivator who would be able to sense the subtleties in his body would be absolutely shocked, even ignoring the Nine Death Silkworm method.
This was cultivating simultaneously using two methods.
In the span of several days, he had merged together the two methods perfectly and almost created a new method.
His vital energy was increasing at an incomprehensible speed in his body. This was likely a cultivation speed even the You Emperor reached.
Ding Ning was certain that, if he continued to cultivate peacefully in Changling, he would become the youngest realm seven cultivator in history. Yet, as Zhangsun Qianxue entered Ye Celeng’s sight, even the fastest cultivation speed could not compare to Ye Celeng’s attitude.
No army appeared to surround Ink Garden, but it did not mean her intentions were clear. This may mean a bigger and stronger net.
The hot wind of summer blew away the wetness and coolness in the alleys.
As time went on, Changling seemed to become calmer after the Deer Mountain Conference and Min Mountain Sword Trials.
Many days after Ding Ning started to dig and move around stones and plants in the courtyard, a carved carriage slowly drove in through the main gates of Ink Garden. Behind this carriage was an ordinary carriage.
A beautiful palace boot stepped out of the front carriage.
Palace Attendant Rong stood on the slightly hot floor with a calm expression. Against a background of cicada cries, she bowed slowly to the Min Mountain Sword Sect carriage that had been parked outside Ink Garden for a long time and said, “I have been commanded to meet Ding Ning.”
There was no movement from the carriage.
But this Palace Attendant Rong knew that this did not mean that the cultivator better at killing than Tantai Guanjian was not present. This just meant he did not refuse.
Palace Attendant Rong bowed again with an unchanging expression and entered the garden.
Two female attendants walked out of the carriage behind her, each of them carrying multiple boxes, and followed her nervously.
Wang Taixu had arranged for servants in Ink Garden already. So before Palace Attendant Rong even truly entered the garden, Ding Ning received the gatekeeper’s report, washed his hands, and waited for Palace Attendant Rong at the entrance to the inner garden.
Seeing Palace Attendant Rong walking in, Ding Ning’s expression was calm but he did not speak.
Palace Attendant Rong looked at Ding Ning who was standing on the steps. She walked until she was near him and then bowed. “The empress has issued an imperial decree. Because the White Goat Cave students performed outstandingly, Green Vine Sword School will be changing its name to White Goat Cave. Your sect uncle Li Daoji will be in charge of all duties.”
“Cave Master Xue taught so many pillars of the country for the Qin. He will be buried with honors in the tombs. The empress remembered your wounds, and sent me to deliver some items for healing and rejuvenation.”
Ding Ning looked at her without any response.
After seeing her stop talking, he asked calmly, “You finished talking?”
Palace Attendant Rong frowned slightly. She hesitated and said, “You are a smart person. There is no need to say more.”
Ding Ning nodded. His gaze passed over her to the boxes the two attendants were holding. “Those are for me?”
Palace Attendant Rong looked at him and said, “Yes.”
Ding Ning did not even look at her as he walked by her and took the boxes from the two palace attendants. Then he continued to walk towards the gates of Ink Garden.
Palace Attendant Rong frowned deeply. The two pretty attendants paled as they looked at Ding Ning, not knowing what he was doing.
Ding Ning calmly walked out of the gates of Ink Garden.
There was a stream not far from the gates. It had originally been clear, but because many shops had moved over to Ink Garden from Falling Parasol, the water had grown dirty.
Looking at the dirty water with the leaves and foam, Ding Ning opened all the boxes. He did not even look at the things inside before he turned the box. Everything inside fell into the dirty water.
Two uncontrollable gasps sounded behind him.
The two attendants completely paled. They had never thought Ding Ning would do such a thing.
Palace Attendant Rong had followed Ding Ning out of the gates and was just several meters away from Ding Ning. Her brows creased slightly and she said in a cold voice, “This is equivalent to the tax of a capital city for multiple years.”
Ding Ning calmly turned around. He looked at her and said, “So what?”
Palace Attendant Rong slowly said, “Even if this counts as compensation, do you feel this is not enough?”
Ding Ning looked at her expression that she tried to make gentle and her apologetic gaze. He laughed. “He’s dead, can you compensate?”
“If we speak of compensation.” He did not look at Palace Attendant Rong as he walked back to the gates of Ink Garden. “Unless you can revive the old man so he sees me win.”
“I did what I promised him, but he cannot see. What is the meaning in the compensation? Sect Uncle Li Daoji will not return. Let him be responsible for the funeral. He will respect my attitude if he hears what I did today.”
Ding Ning’s steps paused in front of the gate. He turned slightly, looked at Palace Attendant Rong and said seriously, “Also… You should remember what I said to you before Min Mountain Sword Sect.”
After saying this, Ding Ning passed through the gates towards the inner courtyard without never looking at her.
Palace Attendant Rong also did not look back at Ding Ning. She still did not feel much anger. She just felt Ding Ning was stupid.
But she could not help but think back to what Ding Ning had said to her before the Min Mountain Sword Trials.
“After the Min Mountain Sword Trials, I will challenge you… I will kill you!”
She thought of what Ding Ning had said, and she felt a flow of coldness she had not felt for many years.