This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.
Chapter 24: The Same Morning
Winning and killing were two different concepts in the cultivator’s world.
Ever since last year’s battle on the Wei River, Bai Shanshui had been defeated in succession, like Changling was a city full of misfortune towards her. Yet today, her cultivation went up another level.
Ye Celeng shook her head and said, “The Great Floating Water Prison is not as simple as you imagine. Just killing Shen Xuan is not enough.”
“I am not able to act.”
Ye Celeng said after a pause and looked at Bai Shanshui, “I am not like you. I must guarantee that i can stay in Changling.”
“I understand,” Bai Shanshui smiled and said, “if I fight, I will not let people detect your One Sky Water. I know that me by myself is not enough so I will find the eldest miss of the Gongsun Family.”
“Let’s call her Zhangsun Qianxue. She owes me a life, my senior sect brother’s life,” Bai Shanshui inhaled deeply and said, “she cannot refuse me.”
Ye Celeng calmly turned her head and said, “I hope you can succeed.”
“How many people are left who can oppose Yuanwu and Zheng Xiu?” Bai Shanshui smiled self-deprecatingly. “If we cannot succeed like this, then Changling will be a tomb where I bury myself.”
The cruel heat had arrived and only the mornings were slightly cool.
Because the carriage from Min Mountain Sword Sect remained outside Ink Garden, cultivators rarely passed by. The area where the Falling Parasol neighbours were living was busier and slowly turned into a vegetable market.
Wang Taixu got off his carriage and shook his head as he looked at the busy market.
Only that youth inside the garden could do something like turning a cold place like Ink Garden into something so approachable.
He had entered Ink Garden many times. Many of the people responsible for matters of daily life inside were his subordinates, but this time Wang Taixu’s expression was especially grave.
He quickly walked past the visible courtyards into the small courtyard where Ding Ning and Zhangsun Qianxue lived.
When he saw Ding Ning waiting for him, he frowned and said, “Something you do not even trust to a letter… what is it?”
“Another day passed.” Ding Ning looked at Wang Taixu’s hair dusted with white and then looked up at the rising sun. He said slowly, “I want you to go to the Yan Shangdu.”
Wang Taixu raised an eyebrow and did not speak. He just looked at Ding Ning.
Ding Ning slowly described the conversation between him and Geng Ren, including the fact he had made a decision for Wang Taixu without asking his opinion.
After Ding Ning finished, he looked at Wang Taixu and said, “This sounds like a transaction. I used you for my self-interest, but you know it is not the case.”
“I will go prepare.”
Wang Taixu did not show much expression. He looked quietly at Ding Ning and said, “Since the letters are not safe, I will try to leave someone in Changling. While it will take multiple months to go to and come back from the Yan, it may be useful.”
Ding Ning also looked quietly at him and said, “After we part, I do not know when we will meet again.”
On the distant Changling streets, there was a group of soldiers leaving Changling. Along the way, many people were sending them off, and shoving all kinds of pastries and fresh fruit into the chariots.
A horn sounded, accompanied by faint cheers which even reached Ink Garden, and Wang Taixu and Ding Ning’s ears.
Ding Ning frowned slightly. “What is that sound?”
Wang Taixu tried to make out the direction. “It’s Song Ren, a general of the Northern Tiger Wolf Army. He has been rewarded and is leading the army to guard the borders. Previously, he was famed for his bravery, skill in nocturnal ambushes. People called him the Flying Leopard General. He is formally leading the army out of the city, and the city is sending him off.”
Ding Ning thought for a moment. “Liang Lian’s close subordinate?”
Wang Taixu nodded.
“It appears that she is completely disappointed in him.” Ding Ning laughed softly. “He should be leaving Changling soon.”
Flames rose in Wang Taixu’s eyes as he said, “Last time, in the ambush of Bai Shanshui, he should have been seriously injured.”
“Do not think you can take care of this matter before leaving Changling. Zheng Xiu does not want him to die, just to send him somewhere else. No matter how injured, he will not be easier to kill than at any other time.” Ding Ning quickly saw his intentions and shook his head. “Also, your thoughts are also his thoughts. He also wants to get rid of some things that displease him before leaving Changling. You and I are different. I am a direct disciple under the protection of Min Mountain Sword Sect. You are a gangster leader. Zheng Xiu will not be more disappointed in him if he kills you, and will not change the fact that he has to leave Changling. So, you must leave earlier. Leaving at this time will cause people to feel you are avoiding a calamity, and not that people want you to go to Shangdu.”
“You were right previously. I will leave very soon.”
“The person I leave behind is Bai Nanxi. His shoes are different from other people. Other people cannot see, but I believe you can.”
Wang Taixu did not linger after saying his parting words and quickly walked away.
Once someone like him needed to leave Changling, a lot of time was needed.
“Liang Lian is the person you once spoke as having betrayed Li Guanlan back then?”
Zhangsun Qianxue was like Ding Ning’s shadow. Once Wang Taixu disappeared from Ding Ning’s sight, she appeared behind Ding Ning.
Ding Ning was used to this. He did nott turn back to look at Zhangsun Qianxue, just nodded.
Zhangsun Qianxue looked at his back but seemed to see through his body. She said coldly, “You want to kill him before he leaves Changling?”
Ding Ning did not deny and said, “If he goes to a far off place, I do not know when I will be able to kill him.”
Zhangsun Qianxue heard his slightly melancholic voice and said, “But you just said he is harder to kill than usual.”
Ding Ning sighed softly. “So I can only wait.”
“If there is an opportunity,” he returned around and said seriously to Zhangsun Qianxue who no longer wanted to speak, “I will first kill Palace Attendant Rong. She is easier to kill.”
Zhangsun Qianxue was too familiar with Ding Ning. She could see flashing lights in his eyes and knew that plans were brewing in his mind.
“Then just continue to wait,”
“Wait to be killed or to kill.”
“I do not want to wait any longer.”
She said three sentences that did not connect at all. Then she pressed her lips together and returned to her bedroom.
“Who wants to wait long?”
Ding Ning sat down on the steps and looked in the direction the noise came from. He said to himself, “Speaking of waiting… No one will have waited as long as I, or waited as painfully as too.”
He could still not understand why Ye Celeng had not yet appeared in front of him.
When he was waiting in Changling, Zhang Yi was travelling towards the border of Qin and Chu.
For some reason, while the old nobility had promised him that Celestial Seal Sect would definitely accept him, he had not arranged anything along the way. Without a proper border document, Qin cultivators like him could not go through the cities of the Chu Dynasty, and then travel to the Yan lands connected to the Chu Dynasty. When he was moving around the border of Chu-Qin, and living outside for a few days, he finally encountered a caravan.
This caravan was a legitimate business, but did not belong to a large merchant house. So in the Chu, they could not compete with the Chu businesses and could not make a living. They could only use manpower and time to get some small profits, and transport the tea and brocade produced in the Qin to the Yan through the Chu-Qin border. At the same time, they would also accept payment for transporting Yan people in Qin who wanted to return to the Yan.
Because this caravan was too small, it could not take back escaped criminals or important people back to the Yan. They frequently only took old soldiers and craftsmen who had been left behind in the Qin during the wars. A caravan like this would not have anyone powerful, only some warriors skilled in blades and archery.
So, when they discovered Zhang Yi was a cultivator, the caravan easily accepted Zhang Yi, even though they did not know what level of cultivation he had.
The possibility of encountering horse bandits on the desolate border was low, but they could encounter soldier-bandits pretending to be horse bandits, and also some wild beasts.
It was uncomfortable to travel in the scorching heat, especially to the elderly in weak condition.
So this morning, an old person who had paid for this caravan to take him back to the Yan border started to vomit. While the leader of the caravan had arranged for the tamest horse for him, the old man still constantly vomited.
The vomit covered the front of the old person’s clothing, and even the saddle and other items on the old man’s horse.
Seeing this scene, the people around the old man could not help but cover their noses, and tried to stay away, except for the caravan leader who frowned and threw him a damp towel. Yet, Zhang Yi walked over, patted the old man’s back, and started to clean and feed the old man water.