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Chapter 22: Exactly What I Want
Ding Ning looked at the stubborn youth and thought of many people in the past. He was silent for a moment. “People like you can get a meal anywhere. Why come here?”
“No one will refuse a death warrior as a retainer, but you constantly refuse.”
Ye Zhengnan looked down at Ding Ning’s feet and said, “It was the same during the Min Mountain Sword Trials. You respected my life, so I respect yours. Anyone who wants to kill you must step over my corpse.”
Ding Ning opened his mouth but before he could speak, Ye Zhengnan continued. “You do not need to keep refusing me. No matter how you refuse, I will not leave because this is my own choice.”
“Also, I admire you.”
Ye Zhengnan looked up after a pause and said, “I admire you, Zhang Yi and the others. Compared to you, my life has been blank and meaningless. I want to become someone like you.”
Ding Ning shook his head and said, “In reality, they are all meaningless.”
Ye Zhengnan said, “But at least you enjoy it.”
Ding Ning looked at his waxy face and eyes brighter than in the past. He was unable to speak. He knew he could not change Ye Zhengnan’s decision just like he had not been able to change the decisions of Last Flower’s last master.
The rarest thing in life was enjoyment.
Seeing Ding Ning silent, Ye Zhengnan bowed slightly and then took up the broom again to sweep.
“Honestly, I envy you.”
In Ye Celeng’s courtyard, Ye Celeng looked at the medicinal pot in front of her as she said, “At least you enjoy what you do.”
Sitting on a couch not far from her, Bai Shanshui gave a small smile. She also looked at the warm medicinal pot and said, “I had not thought that Bureau Chief Ye is a pharmacist.”
Ye Celeng said mockingly, “When one has a prolonged illness, one becomes a doctor.”
Bai Shanshui looked at her and a complicated gaze flashed through her eyes. “Honestly, it should be me who admires you… The cultivators of the world only see great rebels like me free in the mountains and forest, free to gain my revenge, but do not think that you have many connections so you cannot be like me. I, just after mastering my sword, lost all my connections. Country broken, sect destroyed. No relatives or good friends. Even some acquaintances I knew and liked have all died. Every sunset, I am lonely and sad.”
The liquid medicine was boiling yet it would need many hours and many bowls of water to make one bowl of medicine.
Ye Celeng listened to Bai Shanshui’s words. She thought back to the events of the past decade, and felt like it was just a dream.
Those people with their bright clothes, fast horses and proud swords seemed to be still in front of her. But why had so many things happened and so long passed?
Bai Shanshui originally did not want to speak, but at this time, she abruptly sensed something and frowned. “Strange.”
A breeze blew. She rose from the couch and headed out the door.
Ye Celeng looked at the medicine pot and followed her. She said gravely, “What is it?”
Bai Shanshui did not immediately answer her. Her gaze fell to the side of the wall.
There was an open ditch by the wall. The rainwater gathered on the eaves would eventually gather in this water ditch. then the ditch would pass under the wall, and gather into the larger ditches on the two sides of Changling’s streets.
The water to wash rice and clothes, and water for the horses came from the open water in these ditches. Because of the rainstorm some time ago, the ditch was full of water, almost flush with the ground, but more turbid than usual.
“There is medicinal energy,” Bai Shanshui said.
Ye Celeng did not misunderstand. Just as Bai Shanshui spoke, a gentle presence came out of Bai Shanshui, and the water ditch flowing in Ye Celeng’s courtyard started to steam.
The mist seemed to slowly float towards Bai Shanshui like a silk cloth made from the softest of silks. Glowing water droplets accumulated and fell into Bai Shanshui’s hand. They spun like dew on the leaves, and then disappeared without a trace.
Ye Celeng also sensed the medicinal energy in the water droplets. Her brow furrowed deeply.
The medicinal energy scent was chaotic, and contained many spirit medicines even she could not obtain.
“These medicines can only come from the palace,” she turned and said to Bai Shanshui.
Bai Shanshui nodded.
Precious medicines had fallen into the dirty water of Changling’s streets. This was hard to understand. She feared this would only occur in Changling. But just like how only Changling would have a woman like Ye Celeng, these spirit medicines that had dissipated into the dirty water were a blessing to her.
The watery mist moved softly and grew more transparent under the sunlight. More beads of water appeared in Bai Shanshui’s palm.
Ye Celeng looked at this scene and said, “Cloud Water Palace’s water control is the best in the world, as expected.”
An odd light appeared on Bai Shanshui’s face. She turned to Ye Celeng and said, “While Cloud Water Palace is the best at controlling water, its killing intent is less than Bureau Chief Ye’s One Sky Water.”
Ye Celeng looked at her eyes and said, “Maybe we can learn from each other?”
Bai Shanshui laughed. “This is something that could only be imagined before, but always impossible.”
In the next breath, Bai Shanshui put away her smile and nodded seriously. She said, “Exactly what I want. Also, we could possibly comprehend some other things together, like the Lonely Mountain Sword Hoard. ”
Ye Zhengnan finished sweeping the streets around Ink Garden and started to help the surrounding neighbours with their chores. He repaired houses, carried water, and chopped firewood. The people of Falling Parasol were simple to start with. Seeing Ye Zhengnan work so hard and hearing that Ye Zhengnan was homeless, these neighbours started to arrange everything for Ye Zhengnan without needing Ding Ning’s arrangements. Ye Zhengnan got a room, and had no worries for his three meals.
When he lifted the crude bowl that Falling Parasol’s residents were used to using and started to eat dinner, he saw a lonely and rebellious, but not proud figure heading towards him.
He put down his bowl and looked at this incoming figure. Seeing the other wearing thick-clothes on a summer day, he looked up and said softly, “I recognize you. You are Li Xixing.”
Walking slowly towards him under the setting sun was Li Xixing.
“I am Li Xixing.”
He walked to Ye Zhengnan’s side and sat down on the stairs next to Ye Zhengnan. He, who was not skilled at talking to people, fell silent.
Ye Zhengnan looked curiously at him. “You are seeking Ding Ning?”
“I originally came to tell you that I am leaving,” Li Xixing looked at Ink Garden next to him and said.
“You are saying farewell?” Ye Zhengnan was shocked. “You were in the top ten of Min Mountain Sword Trials. You can join Min Mountain Sword Sect to study, why leave?”
Li Xixing did not immediately reply.
Ye Zhengnan realized something but was still puzzled. “You count as a student of Min Mountain Sword Sect now. Even if your family is displeased with what you did in Min Mountain Sword Trials, they should not blame you now. With Min Mountain Sword Sect’s conduct, they will protect you.”
“Of course, I am not afraid.”
Li Xixing shook his head and said, “But no matter how I disobey my father’s orders, my father is still my father… I do not fear what other people will do to me, but I must care about how people treat my father.”
Ye Zhengnan was stunned. He started to understand Li Xixing’s meaning.
“You want to be responsible there. Where are you going?” he looked at Li Xixing and asked after a stunned moment.
“I am still returning outside the forts. Since they do not like me staying in Changling and want to exile me out there, I will go back.”
Li Xixing stood up and said to Ye Zhengnan, “Originally, I wanted to say goodbye in person. But I now feel there is no meaning. You telling him is the same.”
Seeing Li Xixing who walked the street back where he came from without another word, Ye Zhengnan sighed. “You treat him as a friend, of course, he does the same.”
Li Xixing nodded. He said nothing else. His shadow lengthened under the setting sun and then he finally disappeared from Ye Zhengnan’s sight.
A middle-aged man with an ordinary appearance wearing ordinary clothes appeared at the gate of Ink Garden to watch Li Xixing leave.
Even Ye Zhengnan had not noticed when he arrived, and did not even notice his existence until now.
This middle-aged man looked extremely ordinary and forgettable. He nodded in greeting to Shao Sharen who was sitting on the bamboo mat under the tree and then passed through the gates to the inner courtyard of Ink Garden.
Ding Ning walked out of the small courtyard and bowed at the seemingly ordinary man from a distance. “Sect Uncle Geng Ren.”