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Chapter 21: Forgotten Matters
“Celestial Bodhi, Candle Dragon Pill, Fire Turtle Gallbladder… I have not even smelled those things for many years. You dumped them all, you do not find it a waste?”
Watching Ding Ning walk back into the garden and pick up his copper shovel, Zhangsun Qianxue sneered and said, “Those things can increase your cultivation greatly.”
Ding Ning glanced at her and said, “I do not lack that bit of time.”
Zhangsun Qianxue was silent for a moment and said, “At least right now, she does not know our identities. Otherwise, she would not have sent someone to deliver such things to you. You do not fear your actions will make her furious?”
Ding Ning said, “In reality, she does not like obedience very much.”
Zhangsun Qianxue became inexplicably angry, her expression frosty. “Is she a masochist?”
Ding Ning wanted to respond to her when his gaze landed on an uncovered piece of earth on the copper shovel. There were two bright earthworms on the soil. He stilled slightly and said, “I forgot something.”
Zhangsun Qianxue frowned but her attention was successfully diverted. “What is it?”
Ding Ning put down the shovel and walked outwards, saying, “I forgot something on the carriage.”
The carriage appeared ordinary, and had stayed for a long time outside the gates of Ink Garden. There was even a thin layer of dust. Yet, other than the ordinary people in this street isolated from the cultivation world, most cultivators in Changling knew this carriage represented Min Mountain Sword Sect.
“Your mind has been in chaos recently.”
When Ding Ning walked out of Ink Garden and close to the carriage, a voice reached Ding Ning’s ears from the shade of a tree next to the carriage.”
“Sect Uncle Shao.”
Ding Ning bowed to Shao Sharen who was sitting on a bamboo mat next to the tree by the carriage.
“In Min Mountain Sword Trials, almost all cultivators in Min Mountain Sword Trials saw your performance.” Shao Sharen looked up at Ding Ning and said, “You were calculative and calm. Even we felt we were lesser. But you only remembered and came back to the carriage now… this is far from our impressions. The Min Mountain Sword Trials victory is just a false reputation. If you are trapped by this, your name will become nothing in the future.”
Shao Sharen rarely spoke so much. People would even suspect he was dumb. Hearing his words, Ding Ning understood his intention, but he knew what had messed up his mind was completely different from what Shao Sharen thought.
So he bowed deeply to Shao Sharen and said, “Thank you, Sect Uncle Shao, for your reminder.”
Then he lifted the curtain and entered the carriage cabin.
In the corner of the cabin was a small open wooden box. Curled up inside the box was the black ice worm that Qing Yaoyin had given him.
This black ice worm was curled up tightly because it feared Shao Sharen’s presence greatly. Previously, because Ding Ning had been in the cabin, it felt a familiar presence and a sense of safety.
When Ding Ning had left the carriage and forgotten it here, it became extremely afraid.
It had never felt the hot temperature of Changling before. It wondered, how could there be such a terrifying place in the world. When Ding Ning lifted the curtain, it sensed his presence. Its curled up and stiff body immediately moved. It started to tremble. If it had tear glands, it would be crying like a storm.
Seeing this trembling black ice worm, Ding Ning immediately felt embarrassed. He lifted the wood box and said sincerely, “Sorry.”
Hearing Ding Ning’s voice, this black ice worm grew more excited and almost jumped into Ding Ning’s arms.
Zhangsun Qianxue was still waiting in the garden for Ding Ning. Seeing Ding Ning walk in, she saw the ugly black ice worm in the box and frowned. “What is this?”
“Something Qing Yaoyin raised. He gave it to me,” Ding Ning looked up and said to Zhangsun Qianxue. The black ice box in the wood box finally stopped trembling.
The surrounding air was still hot, but it sensed the astounding icy presence inside Zhangsun Qianxue’s body. Just this feeling was enough for it to feel it had reached a world of ice and made it comfortable.
Ever since it first woke up to possess its first thread of existence, it had been able to sense the cold presence of the world. The moment the first thread of primal energies of the universe entered its body, a world of complete ice had appeared in its mind. It had realized that that world would be at the end of cultivation for a being like them.
Now, this world had clearly appeared in front of it. It was so shocking that it had forgotten its terror. It could not help but think: Was she one of them, their king?
It could not speak, but Zhangsun Qianxue was not an ordinary cultivator. She could sense its feeling from the presence it gave off.
She looked at this ugly worm who was looking up at its legendary world. Her frown slowly relaxed. Her personality was cold, she was too lazy to interact with people, much less praise them. So while she only said a word, this was rare praise.
As to beauty and ugliness, she had no concepts of it. To her, some people looked beautiful but were very ugly. Others were ugly, but not ugly in her eyes.
The black ice worm perceptively sensed her feelings and became so excited it started to tremble again. Its raised head was buried deep to express its respect and submission.
Zhangsun Qianxue looked at it and said nothing.
An extremely faint but focused ice energy flowed out of her fingertip towards the black ice worm’s mouth.
The black ice worm piously and greedily opened its mouth to absorb this thread of energy.
This was akin to a giant waterfall falling into a calm pond smaller than the waterfall. The entire pond boiled over. It trembled all over, the deep red skin tearing like cloth.
The usually invisible pores opened, but no air charged out. A white frosty mark appeared on its forehead like a birthmark.
Sensing the change of this black ice worm, and the blending and growth of its energies, Ding Ning looked emotionally at Zhangsun Qianxue and said, “Just as I expected.”
“What will it become in the future?” Zhangsun Qianxue looked at this dark red worm and asked.
This was a profound cultivation process to her. This energy was from the sword in her body, an energy that even her realm seven body could not completely tolerate. Yet, this worm was able to perfectly absorb it.
“I do not know.” Ding Ning shook his head and said, “But I am certain that it will be more powerful than the insects of the Nanyue cultivators.”
Zhangsun Qianxue took the box containing the black ice worm from Ding Ning’s hands and walked towards the deepest little courtyard. She said slowly without looking back, “But that requires time.”
Ding Ning said nothing and continued to dig with the shovel.
His mind had calmed greatly. He understood Zheng Xiu better than anyone else. If Zheng Xiu had suspected Zhangsun Qianxue and his identities from the start, then Palace Attendant Rong would not have come with those precious rewards today.
“You really are not one of Yuanwu’s? Then what happened that night? Why did you not appear?”
He looked down. Thinking of that female bureau chief who liked wearing white, he smiled mockingly at himself.
He and Zhangsun Qianxue seemed to be waiting for trial in this Ink Garden. Yet, in Changling, who was not waiting for their trial?
Not long after Palace Attendant Rong left, Ding Ning had come out to the carriage to retrieve his forgotten black ice worm. Not long after that, Shao Sharen raised his head again from where he sat on the bamboo mat below the tree.
A youth appeared at the end of the street.
Shao Sharen just glanced once at the youth before lowering his head and ignoring him.
The youth wore black robes. His face and skin was waxy yellow as though he had endured a great illness. But there did not seem to be an illness that would make his skin so.
He reached Ink Garden but did not enter. He started to silently do things, sweeping and washing the floor to clean away some of the dirt outside of Ink Garden.
This puzzling action quickly attracted attention outside of the garden. After this youth cleaned half of the street outside Ink Garden, Ding Ning passed through the noodle shop door and saw the youth.
Ding Ning stilled.
The black-robed youth put down the items in his hand and bowed seriously to him.
Ding Ning returned the bow, and looked with a frown at this death warrior who had brought medicine to him during the Min Mountain Sword Trials but was refused. “You are?”
Ye Zhengnan looked at him and said, “I have paid back what I owe others. Now I owe you.”
Ding Ning shook his head. “You do not know.”
Ye Zhengnan said, “I owe you my life.”
Ding Ning looked helplessly at him and said, “I do not need you to repay.”
Ye Zhengnan said nothing else and continued to sweep.
Ding Ning grimaced. “I do not like being too clean.”
Ye Zhengnan put down the things in his hand, and started to carry water to every shop on the street.
“I have no place to eat. If you feel embarrassed, please treat me to three meals a day.”
Before Ding Ning could speak, he said respectfully and seriously to Ding Ning.