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Chapter 59: Wager and Humiliation
Zhang Luyang’s body froze slightly. He struggled to lift his head, his face turned pale.
When Ding Ning said Daoist Qian died, his expression had been as calm as usual as though he had done something trivial.
This expression caused him to feel that he was similarly trivial to Ding Ning as well, and even his objections were weak.
He paused for a long time before he looked at Ding Ning and said, “When did you feel I was lying?”
Ding Ning looked at him and said, “From the start.”
People usually did not come to the tea garden. As Jing Liuli and Ding Ning arrived, there were large crowds, and even ordinary Changling people who followed. While the crowd kept their voices quiet, for Zhang Luyang who was used to being in a quiet environment, the surroundings grew noisier, his head felt swollen.
He did not believe Ding Ning could kill Daoist Qian, but the expressions of the people surrounding this tea garden… the buzzing noise filling his ears all told him this was the truth.
Daoist Qian was dead. If he were to also die on the same day, what would happen to her?
He suddenly understood Ding Ning’s thoughts.
“You are too evil.” His body started to tremble.
“It is the greatest of evil to not let a dying man have his last look,” Ding Ning slowly said as he looked at the distant mountains.
Hearing Ding Ning’s words, Zhang Luyang’s body stopped trembling but felt even colder. “I will not accept your challenge.”
“In Changling, when a swordsman, especially one with higher cultivation, does not dare to accept a challenge from someone weaker, they will be looked down upon. It seems that you can even sacrifice your reputation for her, and disregard how others think of you.” Ding Ning looked calmly at Zhang Luyang and shook his head in slight mockery. “But will she be the same to you?”
Zhang Luyang took a deep breath, looked at Ding Ning and said, “She will.”
“That is only your thought.” Ding Ning glanced at him and said, “I can wager with you.”
Zhang Luyang said, “What wager?”
Ding Ning looked coolly at him and said, “I wager, if I wait here until sunset, she will not come here. If she arrives here before sunset, I will give up on challenging you.”
Zhang Luyang was silent for a moment and said, “Not every person is very free.”
“I agree.” Ding Ning looked at the city walls of Changling in the distance and said, “No one is free but the key lies in what sacrifices they are willing to make.”
“You have no confidence in her.” Ding Ning paused, looked at his eyes and then said, “If you are as confident as I am, then you will dare to wager with me.”
Zhang Luyang paled even more. He looked up at Ding Ning and said, “If she comes before sunset… not unless you give up on challenging her as well.”
His words were slightly disorderly but Ding Ning and Jing Liuli both understood his meaning.
Jing Liuli felt that Zhang Luyang’s words were powerful so she could not help but look at Ding Ning.
Unexpectedly, Ding Ning did not hesitate and said with a smile, “All right, if she comes before sunset, I will give up on challenging her.”
Zhang Luyang’s eyes lit up for a moment. But for some reason, looking at Ding Ning’s confident and calm expression, his heart suddenly sank. He fell silent for a long time. Then he knelt on the ground towards Ding Ning.
The crowds around the tea garden were in uproar. No one understood why the owner of this tea garden would suddenly kneel towards Ding Ning.
Jing Liuli was also shocked.
In her view, since the wager was made, then the two sides should just wait for the result. Ding Ning’s attitude was so determined even if Zhang Luyang knelt, he would not change his mind.
“He is just humiliating himself. He kneels in front of us in front of so many people. This is naturally a great humiliation.”
Ding Ning’s voice sounded.
He turned to look at Jing Liuli who was confused and said, “If we are only just drinking tea and eating a meal here like usual, Palace Attendant Rong will not come. But he must have Palace Attendant Rong come here.”
Jing Liuli immediately understood and said in a chilly voice, “So he must let Palace Attendant Rong know he is enduring the greatest of humiliations. He does not care what Changling’s people think of him in the future, or what Palace Attendant Rong thinks. He just wants Palace Attendant Rong to come here. He wants Palace Attendant Rong to win the wager, and not die in your hands in the future.”
Ding Ning was silent for a moment before whispering. “So pitiful.”
Jing Liuli frowned. She inexplicably understood Ding Ning’s words to mean that Palace Attendant Rong would not come. From start to end, Zhang Luyang was in love with someone not worthy of such deep emotion.
“I can help you.” Ding Ning walked in front of the kneeling Zhang Luyang and said calmly, “I can let you endure this kind of humiliation.”
Zhang Luyang hung his head. While this was his own choice, the noisy voices filled his ears, and his body trembled all over due to humiliation. He continued to kneel.
Ding Ning stood there in front of him like there was no end.
In the imperial palace.
Palace Attendant Rong continued to wait under the eaves. News about the carriage, after it was confirmed to travel to the tea house, constantly reached her ears.
Right now, she was very far away from the tea garden. Her gaze could not pass through the imperial palace and half of Changling to see the tea garden. Yet all the news made her feel like she was also outside of the tea garden.
She could almost see Zhang Luyang kneeling in front of Ding Ning. Her body constantly trembled as well.
Other than Jing Liuli, no one knew the wager between Zhang Luyang and Ding Ning.
But she knew very well why Zhang Luyang was enduring such a humiliation. She knew that if she appeared at the tea garden and accepted Ding Ning’s challenge, this matter would end. She had confidence she could kill Ding Ning.
But… the empress did not want her to appear in front of Ding Ning and fight him.
Her body trembled. She hung her head.
The light on the flower garden in front of her turned from gold to dark.
Time silently passed. The cruel sun of summer slowly moved through the sky towards the west.
Many people became restless as they waited outside the tea garden.
In their sight, the middle-aged man inside the tea garden was still kneeling in front of Ding Ning. They did not know how long he had to kneel.
Was he begging for forgiveness?
What was he begging Ding Ning to forgive him for?
These people could not understand.
In the tea garden, Zhang Luyang’s face grew even paler. For a cultivator like him, there would not be any problems even if he knelt for a day and night.
Yet now, his sweat soaked his clothes and was dried by the heat. A thick layer of salt formed on his robe.
His stamina started to run out.