This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.
Chapter 56: Curiosity
In the early morning, hoofbeats rang across the silent streets.
In Changling, a carriage passing through the streets was a normal thing. But this sound came from Ink Garden.
Many cultivators, who usually were extremely composed, all looked up abruptly towards the source of the sound. Soon, the carriage appeared in their sight.
The driver was still Jing Liuli.
Three days ago, she had dug an osmanthus tree from Palace Commander Liu’s osmanthus wood and transported it back to Ink Garden. Now, this carriage did not have a cabin. Ding Ning sat on it like it was a wagon without any cover.
Yet no one found it funny, just felt shock and unease.
Each previous time this carriage came out of Ink Garden, something astounding would shock Changling.
There was a Daoist temple in the north of Changling, with many boxwoods planted in front of it.
People rarely came to this temple, but as the carriage from Ink Garden came closer, this temple suddenly entered many people’s sight.
When she came to a stop at the temple gates,Jing Liuli frowned immediately.
The painted black wooden doors of the temple were half-open but no one came out to greet them.
Jing Liuli did not frown because of herself but because she knew the Daoist in the temple should know her identity. In a certain way, she represented Min Mountain Sword Sect.
Many carriages and passersby followed the carriage. The surrounding gradually grew lively but the inside of the temple was completely silent.
Ding Ning sat in the carriage without getting off.
Everyone’s gaze fell on him. They speculated on his aims for coming here, and what he would do next.
Jing Liuli was still frowning as she turned back to look at Ding Ning sitting on the carriage.
She thought that she would speak in this situation, but if the person in the temple pretended to be dead and ignored her after she spoke, she would not know what to do. Not knowing what to do was an embarrassing matter to her.
When she turned to the man, Ding Ning was looking skywards.
He was looking at the tall boxwood trees overhead. He reached to his side and picked up a wine bag.
The wine bag contained actual wine. When Ding Ning let his head fall back to drink, Jing Liuli smelled the thick alcoholic fragrance. She felt this scent was comfortable and had a desire to drink the wine as well. Ding Ning spoke, “These boxwoods should have been here when the temple was built?”
His voice carried an invisible magic that caused Jing Liuli to unconsciously follow his gaze.
The morning sunlight sneaked in through the cracks in the foliage, she narrowed her eyes slightly.
This was an old and tall boxwood tree. Old things always have a unique beauty.
Yet she narrowed her eyes because she sensed Ding Ning’s murderousness.
“Cut down this tree,”
Ding Ning put down the wine pouch, licked his lips and laughed, giving a rare glimpse of his white teeth. He said softly, “If no one comes out, then cut down all these boxwoods.”
Jing Liuli’s eyes lit up slightly. She had learned how to deal with a situation like this in the future.
She nodded and got out of the carriage.
She gave off a strange faint glow. She reached out with her right hand as though to touch the boxwood, but the moment the light around her palm touched the tree, the trunk also had a faint halo of light.
In the next moment, this boxwood fell down like a drunken man towards the neighbouring boxwood. The branches and leaves rustled and made intimidating but not loud sounds.
Jing Liuli looked at the fallen boxwood and felt it was a pity. But inexplicably, smelling the scent of wine, she felt very pleased.
Without any pause, she walked straight towards the next boxwood under everyone’s shocked gazes.
“How have these trees offended you?” A long sigh came from the temple at this moment.
Jing Liuli’s eyebrows rose slightly. She paused in her footsteps but then Ding Ning’s voice reached her ears- “Cut it.”
Jing Liuli’s gaze flashed. She swung her hand without hesitation. The boxwood in front of her fell down with a crash.
After two boxwoods suddenly fell down in front of the temple, the space suddenly grew empty. The temple gate was pushed open from inside with a bang. An old Daoist stood there with a pale face.
“My ancestral master personally planted these boxwoods over three centuries ago.” The pale old Daoist’s beard trembled slightly. He looked at Jing Liuli and Ding Ning. “I do not know what your intentions are!”
Ding Ning looked calmly at him and his gaze fell towards the other’s waist. He shook his head and said coolly, “You carry a sword… you should know very well what my intentions are.”
Jing Liuli immediately frowned. She saw that the pale white Daoist’s sleeve was wide and covered the scabbard at his waist until only a small section was exposed. This was a white jade scabbard, extremely thin and narrow. One could imagine the sword would be small as well.
This pale old Daoist was naturally Daoist Qian.
Hearing Ding Ning’s calm words, his gaze fell to the two fallen boxwoods. Seeing the fallen leaves strewn over the ground, his body started to tremble minutely. “You have stepped over the line. Do not use such poor tactics.”
Ding Ning smiled with slightly scorn and said, “If you really wanted to hide, you could have closed the temple and hid further away. Keeping the door open and waiting, coming out with your full sword essence… this is all because you have long had thoughts of killing me for her. You are already so old, and should have seen through many things. Two boxwoods would not have caused you pain to this degree. You want people to feel that I have stepped over the line and you were forced to act… Such poor tactics are so boring.”
Jing Liuli listened silently. Thinking of the details mentioned in Ding Ning’s words, her expression grew more disdainful. When Ding Ning finished, she snorted in scorn. “Shameless old thing.”
Daoist Qian’s face had been slightly stiff to start with. When he heard Jing Liuli’s snort, his expression grew ugly. In a breath, his body stopped trembling. A small cold yet cruel smile appeared at the corners of his mouth.
“You really…” he looked at Ding Ning and said softly, “want to force me to kill you?”
Ding Ning looked at his cruel smile and smiled as well. He did not answer directly and whispered. “You should have a senior sect brother. This temple originally belonged to him… but now it belongs to you, just because that palace attendant is your student. So just this is enough reason for me to kill you.”
Daoist Qian took a deep breath. He looked up at Ding Ning and said, “I accept your challenge.”
His words were spoken loudly so that everyone within miles could hear him.
Jing Liuli turned around and asked Ding Ning softly as she walked past him, “You are really going to kill him?”
Ding Ning glanced at her and said, “There is a reason for his death. If he wants to kill me, then I will kill him.”
Daoist Qian did not hear their conversation but he could sense Ding Ning’s confidence.
“Truthfully, even without her as the reason, I would try to see if I can kill you just due to your present attitude.” He put away his cruel smile and said seriously to Ding Ning, “I have lived in Changling for so long, and never seen a cultivator like you with such cultivation who thinks that you can kill a cultivator like me. Just my curiosity is enough for me to try.”
“In other words, it is my student who limited my thoughts. She makes me hesitate. What kind of effect on her will occur if I lost to you and died at your hands?” Daoist Qian paused and then said, “As a Changling swordsman, this temptation is hard to resist… Even if I die at your hands, this battle will be recorded in the history books.”
“Then I will make sure you are recorded in the history books.” Ding Ning smiled and said, “Your cultivation is much stronger than mine, so I will not be humble, I will attack first… please!”
As he said the word “please,” Ding Ning already attacked. He gripped the hilt of the Last Flower remnant sword and stabbed forward.
Daoist Qian was not surprised. His flying sword was based on speed and he had originally predicted Ding Ning would attack first. Even if the other did attack first, he did not think that Ding Ning could get the advantage.
The moment Ding Ning just gripped the hilt of the Last Flower remnant sword, a hum had sounded from his waist. The small sword hidden in the white jade scabbard had flown out.
But at this time, to his disbelief, he felt a sword essence appear by his side, one completely different from Ding Ning’s sword essence.