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Chapter 58: I Challenge You
Listening to Ding Ning’s words, Jing Liuli did not say anything. She glanced at Daoist Qian who was lying on the ground. Then as she turned around, she said softly to Ding Ning, “Your attitude towards him may be too cruel. You killed a person in front of so many people… you know that most people in Changling do not like the empress because she is too cold.”
“In the end, the majority of Changling’s people will not like me.” Ding Ning sat in the carriage, looked at his injured left hand and said seriously, “I am already very tired so I can no longer care about their thoughts.”
Jing Liuli frowned slightly. She thought of Ding Ning’s cultivation these past few days, and his decisiveness when he had used his hand to block the sword. She bowed her head and started to drive the carriage without speaking.
Palace Attendant Rong was standing under the eaves. The summer sun reflected off the golden rooftops.
She knew that Ding Ning had gone to the Boxwood Temple. When the carriage had left Ink Garden, she knew that something would happen today.
Usually, she did not value Daoist Qian greatly, and had even forgotten him. Like many young people who had left their homes long ago, when they grew older, they would slowly forget their parents and relatives.
But a person could not truly have no emotions.
Before Daoist Qian accepted her as a disciple, she had been an orphan on the streets. There were only two outcomes, dying on the street or becoming a tragic child prostitute in a brothel.
Daoist Qian had not just taught her, but raised her. He had then gradually forgotten her, but when he saw Ding Ning, he still immediately thought of wanting to kill the man for her.
When Ding Ning truly found Daoist Qian, the past favours, the guilt and kind thoughts started to fill her body. She did not hope for anything to happen to Daoist Qian.
The cicadas in the courtyard stopped. Someone was coming.
A middle-aged yellow-robed cultivator appeared at the gates of this courtyard and bowed slightly to her. “Daoist Qian is dead.”
Palace Attendant Rong’s heart suddenly dropped to somewhere unknown, like it had dropped into an invisible abyss below her.
The middle-aged cultivator slowly straightened. His eyes were brighter than usual. But Palace Attendant Rong’s attention was not on him so she did not detect the abnormality.
The unusual light in the middle-aged cultivator’s eyes quickly faded. He bowed his head and said, “The carriage is not returning to Ink Garden and is heading towards a tea garden.”
Palace Attendant Rong had frozen when she heard of Daoist Qian’s death. Yet, when she heard the middle-aged cultivator’s words, she looked up in disbelief and exclaimed. “How can it be like this?”
In the eyes of many who knew Palace Attendant Rong, she was a mud puppet with little emotion and as cold as the empress. It was unimaginable for her to gasp like this.
The middle-aged cultivator hung his head lower and said, “Her Majesty forbids you to leave the palace.”
Palace Attendant Rong’s body and face froze again. Her face was bloodless like she was a snowman in the winter.
In the tea garden in the south suburbs.
When Jing Liuli drove the carriage towards this tea garden, a man with a bamboo hat and black silk robes was walking towards this tea garden from a small path.
There was nearly a dozen miles between him and the tea garden, a bamboo forest, a small stream. On the small stream was a wooden bridge covered with green vines which even grew down into the water.
There was no one in this man’s sight. But he suddenly sensed something and stopped.
The moment he stopped, the bamboo hat on his head split apart and fell to the ground like it had been cut by a sharp weapon.
Below the bamboo hat was a pampered face. His unusually clean and black hair was tied up with a white jade ring. His features were delicate and his face looked ageless. Even his brows looked like they had been trimmed. He appeared perfect and unusually refined.
“Really like this?” This man’s refined brows rose slightly. As he spoke, a pure black longsword floated in front of him
The blade was extremely strong, but as it slowly flew around him, it felt both nimble and soft. Sometimes, this sword was in front of him, and sometimes behind. But from any angle, this pure black sword and this man made it feel like there was no opening to attack.
“It does not have to be like this.” Shao Sharen’s voice sounded.
Before he spoke, there had not been a figure on the vine-covered wooden bridge. But when he spoke, his figure appeared on the bridge.
“If you stop here, and wait for the matters at the tea garden to finish, then it will not be like this,” Shao Sharen looked at this man and said expressionlessly.
“You are very good at killing people.” The black-robed man narrowed his eyes at Shao Sharen and shook his head. “But you may not be my match.”
Shao Sharen looked coldly at him and said, “I do not think of who is a match for me… I only know to kill and to be killed.”
After a pause, Shao Sharen looked at the pieces of bamboo hat at the man’s feet. A faint disdainful and challenging smile appeared on the corners of his lips. “Xu Fenqin, if you really have confidence, your bamboo hat would not have broken.”
The black robed man smiled with a hint of pride. He said, “Maybe I did it on purpose?”
Shao Sharen’s gaze darkened. He looked at the black robed man’s moving sword and said, “You know I do not like joking so you can try.”
The black robed man’s smile disappeared. His eyebrows rose up but he did not speak as his black sword remained roaming around without moving forward.
“Actually, us being here does not have much meaning,” A long time later, the black robed man shook his head and said.
Shao Sharen glanced at him and said, “There really is not much meaning because that carriage will enter the tea garden in the end. Because she is the only person who hopes the carriage will not enter the garden, but many in Changling hope that carriage will enter the tea garden.”
The carriage was nearing the tea garden.
For Jing Liuli, this carriage had a smooth journey from Boxwood Temple to here without any obstacles.
Just like the last trip to the tea garden, Ding Ning got off the carriage outside the garden, and walked along the fields towards the bamboo hut.
The master of the tea garden, the quiet middle-aged man, Zhang Luyang, was carrying water. Seeing Ding Ning and Jing Liuli walk in, he put down his baggage and nodded in greeting to Ding Ning and Jing Liuli.
Ding Ning nodded in return and then said, “You lied. Daoist Qian is dead. I killed him.”
“Now I challenge you.”