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Chapter 27: So This Is How It Is
Ye Zhengnan did not know why Tantai Guanjian had reached Ink Garden early but waited until the sunup to actually enter.
But Ding Ning knew.
He had bathed and changed his clothes when he learned of Tantai Guanjian’s arrival. He put on a clean new robe and then waited quietly for the arrival of the sun.
The reason for such solemnity was because this matter was more important to him than anyone else. This meant his new life.
From the first day he started cultivating in Changling, he must obtain the Heaven Replenishing Divine Art of Min Mountain Sword Sect. Otherwise, everything was meaningless. The only thing waiting for him was death.
The Heaven Replenishing Divine Art was the highest skill of the Min Mountain Sword Sect. It was a symbol of the entire sect and sacred in a certain manner. How could this be given to a disciple to learn before dawn, like a rat sneaking through the street in the darkness?
“You know why I am here?”
Tantai Guanjian saw Ding Ning waiting for him when he slowly walked into the garden. He bowed to Ding Ning and then queried gently.
Ding Ning nodded and said in a melancholic tone, “Wang Taixu has left already?”
Tantai Guanjian looked at him, undisguised appreciation in his eyes. He said, “He has departed for Yan.”
Ding Ning immediately recovered his calm. He looked up and said, “Was it not going to be me going to the Sword Tower of Min Mountain Sword Sect? Why have you brought it here?”
“Min Mountain Sword Sect cares about the rules, but not the minor details. We are all astounded at your abilities to have such a powerful gangster of Changling listen to your every word.” Tantai Guanjian looked at him. “Originally, something so difficult became so easy to solve in your hands. The sect master decided to have me take this manual to you as you do not have much time.”
Ding Ning stopped speaking.
He bowed his head and stood. While there were no extra ceremonies, he waited for Tantai Guanjian’s teaching with a solemn air.
Inner respect was more important than ceremony.
Tantai Guanjian was even more satisfied with Ding Ning. He said nothing else. He solemnly pulled out a green jade box from his sleeve, held it with both hands and presented it in front of Ding Ning.
Ding Ning took it with both hands. Even though the jade box was small, just a square little box that Changling people used to hold fans, and very light, his hands still trembled uncontrollably.
“When you finish, you can hand it to Sect Uncle Shao at any time.”
Tantai Guanjian looked at Ding Ning’s trembling hands and thought this was a normal response for excitement. He lightly patted Ding Ning’s shoulder and said, “This method is really hard to comprehend, so you need to hurry.”
Tantai Guanjian paused and then looked at Ding Ning’s eyes. He said, “If there is something hard for you to do, you can tell me, and I will help you.”
An unspeakable bitter smile appeared at the corner of Ding Ning’s mouth. He thought and said, “Make sure Wang Taixu and my sect uncle Li Daoji are safe. And also… guarantee the old man will be buried with glory.”
Hearing Ding Ning’s request, Tantai Guanjian nodded and said harmoniously, “You do not have to worry about these things. Just cultivate with peace of mind.”
Ding Ning bowed.
Tantai Guanjian looked at Ding Ning with anticipation. He, Jing Liuli and the others had the same opinion. He was filled with confidence Ding Ning could comprehend the Heaven Replenishing Divine Art.
Unlike usual, Zhangsun Qianxue did not appear like a shadow behind Ding Ning like she usually did after Tantai Guanjian left.
Ding Ning knew that this was because Zhangsun Qianxue was too proud and stubborn.
Many years ago, that person had never gotten the ability to enter the Min Mountain Sword Sect and could not make up for some shortcomings in his cultivation. Zhangsun Qianxue had never shown any attitudes towards Ding Ning about this, but Ding Ning knew well that she could not forgive Baili Suxue.
In her view, the lack of the Heaven Replenishing Divine Art had been one of the greatest reasons for the obstruction of that person’s advancement and his death from battle in Changling.
Even though she could not forgive that person, this was her love and hate.
She would not come to look at the Min Mountain Sword Sect’s Heaven Replenishing Divine Art, even if it was one of the most brilliant methods in the world.
Ding Ning went into his own bedroom in the innermost little courtyard.
A loquat tree outside the window scattered the morning sunlight. Ding Ning had moved this loquat tree here many days ago from outside the courtyard. While the move time was not correct, it lived well and gave off life. The little courtyard, which had been dark and cold before this, became alive.
Ding Ning looked at the green jade box on the red table for a long time in silence. Yes, if that person had obtained this method many years ago, maybe many things would not have happened.
Maybe he would have reached the peak of realm eight early or even realm nine. Transcendent power would have caused Yuanwu and many people to give up on their later ideas. Yuanwu may have still become the emperor of the strongest empire, but would listen to that person’s ideas like before.
Ba Mountain Sword Field would not have disappeared and grown stronger. Zheng Xiu would not have shown her ruthless and cruel side. She would have become that person’s gentle wife.
Many people would not have died.
On the Wei River, between the Bai Mountains and the Shu Water, there would be laughter and distant music in the little tower in the bamboo forest when the rain came down at night. Someone would be sitting at the front of the little ship going down the river, drunk and trying to pick up the moon from the river.
Everything may have been different…
But would that have been perfect?
That person could never see through many people. That person would never understand many things.
The green jade box sat under the scattered light rays. It was not open, but Ding Ning started to see two completely different lives.
Ding Ning’s emotions gradually became absolutely calm. He reached out and opened the green jade box without any effort.
His sleeve flapped despite the lack of wind. A thin green book was rolled up in the green jade box.
Each page seemed to be made out of woven threads of green jade. But jade was something hard and easy to shatter. It was extraordinary how it could have been turned to soft thread yet still be visibly green jade.
Ding Ning took a deep breath. Even his hair started to dance.
This thin green book naturally gave off primal energies of the universe like a spring.
His cultivation habit was to first start with the big things, get the general idea, and then the details would not be hard to understand.
So, he was not in a hurry to understand where these primal energies of the universe came from, how many different energies were flowing along the invisible seal scripts. He opened the green book and started to page through.
The green pages had transparent lights like the glow from water droplets. But each glowing shape was a sword’s shape.
Without any intention, Ding Ning’s perception immediately sank into the green page and these transparent lights.
He seemed to stand in a green jade world.
There were transparent longswords pointing in different directions around him. Each sword was bigger than him.
He looked at each transparent sword, and slowly moved through this sensory world. He passed through these transparent longswords.
These transparent swords remained motionless but started to grow larger, lengthening endlessly in the direction they pointed.
The majority of swords were pointed at the sky. They gave off an indescribable proud presence. As they stretched away, these transparent longswords seemed to pierce the sky, and break the boundary of daylight and night.
The transparent swords started to shine like starlight falling down through the puncture holes. These transparent swords seemed to turn into starlight.
Each transparent sword was a star.
Ding Ning’s presence did not change.
Even Zhangsun Qianxue, who was in the same courtyard, did not sense any change in him.
But his skin did shine with silver spots of light.
Ding Ning lifted up his head in the sensory world.
He said to himself with endless melancholy and a hint of emotion, “So this is how it is.”