This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.
Chapter 3: The Last Light
When the moon was highest in the sky and the night the darkest, it was the busiest time in Changling’s Fish Market.
In a room with lit fragrance, a stalk of bamboo silently grew by itself and then disappeared. The woman in the red robes hugged her zither as she stood by the window. Her gaze was obstructed by the layers of dark awnings, but her thoughts were on the place where multiple battles had occurred today.
Her expression was faintly sad as usual. She thought of the two women from the battle on the Wei River who had lost their countries. She thought of the sword attack Eldest Miss Gongsun had displayed today. Her emotional fluctuations grew stronger.
Another stalk of black bamboo appeared out of thin air on the empty ground behind her. But unlike before, it did not disappear as she breathed. It suddenly flowered with deep red flowers.
As the bamboo bloomed, her body also had mysterious changes inside. Her skin quickly turned pure black like the black bamboo before quickly disappearing until she looked the same as usual. But the blackness in her eyes was double its usual size, making her eyes seem even blacker and brighter.
The black bamboo in the black shadows outside this room also started to tremble violently. The old servant who usually accompanied her knocked on the door and entered. He looked at her but was silent.
He knew that she could have had her breakthrough long ago, yet she always did not have her breakthrough. This was a tacit agreement with the nobility of Changling, so Changling would give her a place to stay.
“That day when Bai Shanshui fought Zhao Si on the Wei River, I had realizations.”
The old servant of the Shang Family did not speak while she started. Her tone was extremely gentle and sad. “Both of them lost their countries and their homes. But when I think about it, I am the same. My family no longer exists. In this Changling, I am an orphaned ghost, and always an eyesore. Today, so many things have happened. How can I stay out of the matter even if I want to?”
The old Shang Family servant said after a moment of silence, “Miss, you still remember the grievance of the family.”
“Since I remember the family grievances, I will also remember the favours.”
The red-robed woman said softly, “I have been stable in Changling for so many years. At least, I know, if that person had not returned in a hurry back then, there would be nothing left of the Shang Family. I am an orphaned woman. I have no hopes of getting revenge. The grievance has faded, but I remember the favours. Today, my mind is not at peace because of this Nine Death Silkworm.”
She turned and looked at the old servant who had been hunched over all this time. she said, “Bai Shanshui, Zhao Si, and the Eldest Miss Gongsun … What kind of people are they? If not for that Nine Death Silkworm, I do not believe they would have burned their vital energy like they did today. As long as the Nine Death Silkworm exists, this Changling cannot be at peace. We cannot stay in the Fish Market and scrape together survival. Whether or not we are one of them, Zheng Xiu will categorize us as one of them. To her and Yuanwu, we are just little fish who slipped the net back then.”
The old Shang Family servant was silent for a long time. He sighed deeply and did not speak.
Some realm seven grandmasters had died while other people silently had breakthroughs and reached realm seven. The winds and clouds changed, there were innumerable favours and grievances. This was the true Changling.
Mo Shoucheng walked into the Northern Tiger-Wolf Army. Huang Zhenwei respectfully followed him.
Some of the Divinity Bureau officials silently spread apart into the area of wind and snow where those enormous metal spears had fallen and where realm sixes could not enter.
At the center of the camp, Liang Lian’s corpse had not been cleaned up. He was still laid out where he died. The ice on his body had melted in the hot summer. The ice had turned into water that permeated the soil beneath him.
His body was shriveled, a deep black color spread through it. He did not look like a general who had just died in battle, but a dried corpse who had been dead for many years and then been dragged out of the soil.
Mo Shoucheng stood silently for a long time in front of Liang Lian’s corpse.
“He is someone who helped the Qin conquer lands,” he said. Then he summoned a large flag from the distance and covered Liang Lian’s corpse.
“It’s the Nine Death Silkworm,” he turned and said to Huang Zhenwei, nodding.
Huang Zhenwei’s eyes were filled with shock. He knew if the old man was so certain, this meant the Nine Death Silkworm was not an illusion and actually existed. It had grown to a stunning degree that it could kill even Liang Lian.
Mo Shoucheng nodded again and said, “He was killed by One Line Heaven … that’s one of that person’s strongest sword essences. It can cut a world in the face of any powerful force.”
Huang Zhenwei could not speak and just listened.
Mo Shoucheng said, “The one who killed Liang Lian is not yet realm seven. Able to produce such a sword essence when not yet realm seven … that person comprehended such a sword essence only after he reached realm seven.”
Huang Zhenwei was even more speechless. He could not believe it. Was there anyone who was more talented than that person?
“Perhaps that person had an heir many years ago, but they never revealed themselves. Perhaps that person had a student long ago. Even the empress did not know. He did not tell the empress.”
Mo Shoucheng did not give Huang Zhenwei much time to think on his own like he usually did and continued. “The empress will go crazy.”
Huang Zhenwei suddenly looked up. He could not consider all the meanings in the words. But the word ’empress’ caused him to sense that cold presence.
“The Nine Hell King Sword and the Nine Death Silkworm have appeared at the same time. Bai Shanshui killed Xu Fenqin. Zhao Si lured the empress’ attack away. Nine Death Silkworm entered this place through the underground river. These are not isolated.”
Mo Shoucheng looked directly at Huang Zhenwei and said slowly, “The only thing that can throw the empress’ mind into disorder is the Nine Death Silkworm. If she knows who the heir to the Nine Death Silkworm is, there would not be much chaos. But the heir is still unknown, and far stronger than she imagines … I worry the most about her, I worry what she will do next.”
Huang Zhenwei’s face started to pale. He thought of many events in Changling in the three years before Emperor Yuanwu’s ascension. He finally started to understand what his teacher was worried about.
“The Holy One is realm eight, and harmonious in his governance. The Qin Dynasty has never been so strong. Even if this Nine Death Silkworm has reached such a degree, even if Bai Shanshui and the people of Zhao Sword Furnace have grown stronger, they are all too weak compared to the present Qin Dynasty.”
Mo Shoucheng knew he understood but still continued. “After the Deer Mountain Conference, the threat from the other three dynasties has faded. The empress has grown more unscrupulous in her conduct. If she wants to be cruel, she will become crueler.”
Huang Zhenwei’s breathing grew difficult. “Teacher, what then should I do now?”
Mo Shoucheng looked at his beloved disciple with a hint of affection and compassion in his eyes and sighed softly. “Investigate, investigate who is the Nine Death Silkworm …”
After a pause, he turned to Liang Lian’s corpse covered by the flag and said, “Coming here to kill him, there must be an entry and exit, there will be traces. If we find out who is the person who inherited the Nine Death Silkworm, then the empress will not go mad.”
Huang Zhenwei was puzzled.
Was it not the matter of the Astrology Bureau and Divinity Bureau to investigate these matters?
Why did his teacher tell him to investigate?
But he was one of the wisest people of Changling so he quickly grasped the old man’s undertone. “Teacher, you do not trust the Astrology Bureau and Divinity Bureau?”
“In Changling, never trust too much in anyone.” Mo Shoucheng grimaced slightly and said, “Also, I do not have much time.”
Huang Zhenwei looked at his suddenly dim and yellowed eyes. His heart immediately contracted and he shouted in shock. “Teacher …”
Mo Shoucheng waved his hand and said softly, “There is at most three months.”
Hearing the words, Huang Zhenwei was haunted by great pain. He did not dare believe this was true. He did not dare to believe this old man who had guarded the city for so many years was near the time he would leave the city. But he knew this was true.
“It is because I do not have enough time that everyone has to be fast,” Mo Shoucheng said softly and seriously. “Just like the remains of a candle, someone will do their best to use its last light to do some things.”
Translator Ramblings: Sometimes, I just want to replace that person with You-Know-Who