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Chapter 9: The Path Forward
Ordinary people only heard dull thunder and could not know what happened, but the cracking of the earth and the restless energies could not be concealed from powerful cultivators.
“What happened?” The empress spoke from within the deep palace.
Dozens of breaths after her voice sounded, a middle-aged man in yellow robes appeared outside of her study.
“Zhang Shiwu wanted to assassinate Ye Xinhe. It happened abruptly. The Dongling army was sent there when I came to report, and should be fighting Zhang Shiwu right now.
The yellow-robed middle-aged man hung his head slightly. But both his breathing and the energy vibrations coming off him were violent. He clearly had been in a hurry to report.
“Zhang Shiwu?” The empress’s figure appeared not far from the yellow-robed middle-aged man. She looked expressionlessly towards the peach valley. “He’s still alive?”
The yellow-robed middle-aged man did not answer her. After Palace Attendant Rong’s death, he was the person who understood the empress the most among her closest. So he knew he did not have to answer this question.
“Since Zhang Shiwu is still alive, why has he appeared now? He wants to kill Ye Xinhe only because he just discovered where Ye Xinhe was recovering right now?” the empress said slowly.
The yellow-robed middle-aged man hesitated slightly, wanting to speak. But then the empress continued to talk.
“Previously, neither the Astrology Bureau or the Divinity Bureau sensed anything. This is not like Zhao Zhan where there were clues half a year before. Half a year was needed to finally find him in Changling.”
The empress had no emotions on her perfect face. “Today, Zhang Shiwu is discovered to be alive, and the Warden’s Office was about to detect and send the Dongling Army. This all seems to be too much of a coincidence.”
“If Zhang Shiwu dies in battle in the valley, then it is not a coincidence.If Zhang Shiwu does not die in battle and is captured alive by Ye Xinhe and the Dongling Army, then it is not a coincidence. If Zhang Shiwu does not die, then he will definitely be sent to the Great Floating Water Prison under the care of Shen Xuan.”
The empress did not need him to answer. Her gaze retreated from afar onto the yellow-robed middle-aged man. Then she said in a cold and powerful tone, “Have Mo Shoucheng go to the Great Floating Water Prison. Order the Tiger-Wolf Army to surround the Great Floating Water Prison. Have General Bai lead the army towards the Great Floating Water Prison, and have Guo Dongshan to with them to deliver Zhang Shiwu there.”
The yellow-robed middle-aged man nodded, turning immediately to walk out. His breathing was still hurried as were his footsteps. Yet when he turned, a different meaning appeared on the corners of his lips.
The empress only suggested a theory. Yet the orders she gave created an enormous net.
Today, if something happened in the Great Floating Water Prison, then this net would trap everyone going to Great Floating Water Prison. It would be difficult for anyone to escape.
From her display, the yellow-robed middle-aged man felt that she was more terrifying than in the past. He did not know if the consecutive deaths of Palace Attendant Rong and the others had caused her to recover her cruelty or that she was familiar enough and understood her former enemies that she instantly became even more powerful than she had been three years before Emperor Yuanwu’s ascension.
Regardless of how terrifying she was, how she could predict her enemies and how perfect her net was, the key was whether the net could form. He, at present, was the net maker.
The empress could not see the meaning at the corners of his mouth.Even if the yellow-robed middle-aged man was facing her, she likely would not discover that this cultivator from the Jiaodong Commandery was any different than before.
She was furious right now. As she turned around, her cold eyes flashed with the fires of fury.
“Zhang Shiwu, even you are alive … all you people who should have died long ago, how many of you are still alive!”
A commander fell into the dust, blood and pieces of flesh spurting out of his mouth. His thick scaled armor was in pieces, many of which were embedded into his flesh. The parts under his waist had been torn apart by great power … Pieces of metal and broken limbs were scattered all over the valley along with snapped swords and destroyed chariots.
He was fated to die. Just as broken as his body was the army that had charged out of the white mist like a demon army.
He was pained by all this. Yet at the moment of his death, his eyes were filled with comfort.
Zhang Shiwu had not been killed. Zhang Shiwu was stilled alive.
Ye Xinhe sat on the ground. There was a terrifying wound on his left ribs so deep his inner organs could be made out. Even more frightening, a wave of energy was still rippling through his organs. It would take him a lot of time to suppress this power.
He was covered in blood like the peach flowers of the valley were blooming on his body. He looked at the dust column outside of the mountain valley with an unpleasant expression. Not because of his wounds, but because he discovered, even if he had not been wounded in the Deer Mountain Conference, Zhang Shiwu would not have been weaker than him.
A swordsman completely not a match for him, now, was above him. He was emotional.
“Your cultivation reached such a degree after hiding from the world for more than a decade … strong enough to change the result of the Deer Mountain Conference But people like you were not willing to appear at the Deer Mountain Conference, but are willing to appear now due to the news of the Nine Death Silkworm!”
“Even if that person cultivated the Nine Death Silkworm to that level, he died in Changling. Zheng Xiu and Yuanwu are more powerful than back then. The Changling they control is stronger than back then. What are you all thinking about! Do you not feel stupid!”
“Zhang Shiwu … You are still alive. Then Nie Yin! Mao Qiceng? Are they all still alive!”
After the emotional disturbance was terror. If the former Zhang Shiwu was enough to threaten his Peach Divine Sword, then those people who had hid away when Ba Mountain Sword Field was destroyed may not be strong enough to kill him.
When he finally suppressed the chaotic sword essence that had charged into his body, Ye Xinhe’s body grew unusually cold.
He thought of Liang Lian’s death. Nine Death Silkworm in Changling brought some people hope and confidence, and some others death and terror.
The yellow-robed middle-aged man walked out of the imperial palace.
When he left, multiple cultivators in azure robes quickly started to fly towards the various turrets. Numerous black eagles flew around the yellow-robed man towards the clouds and different parts of Changling.
Everything looked the same as usual, but only he knew that the messages delivered to some key people would be slightly delayed, and some of the contents would have slight deviations. Just like the tactic the empress had once been best at using.
But today, her most skilled tactics would not be for the result she wanted, but what he wanted. He continued to walk forward.
His surname was Wang, so Yuanwu disliked him. His name was Qicheng, the start of a journey. But back in Jiaodong, he served the eldest miss of the Zheng Family, Zheng Xiu, and never truly travelled.
But during the Min Mountain Sword Trials, he had made a bet with himself. So today, he decided to start a true journey. He quickly walked towards the outskirts of the city.
On the other side of Changling, Shen Xuan walked out of the Great Floating Water Prison. When the heavy doors opened, he appeared under the sunlight, hands behind his back. Today’s sunlight seemed exceptionally dazzling.
He looked at the white paths in the distance, and narrowed his eyes into a line. Not just the empress, today, even he had a strong feeling.
So he was not waiting for someone now, but watching his own path forward, making his last reflections and pondering which path to walk.
Translator Ramblings: Disliking someone because of their surname is pretty petty.