This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.
Chapter 21: The Head of the Dragon
Bai Shanshui and Zhao Si exchanged a look but did not speak. They both knew, just like what Zheng Xiu did tonight, many things would not stop once they started. Since Lin Zhujiu thought they were trustworthy and started to tell them some history, and things to notice when being enemies with Zheng Xiu and Yuanwu, he would not stop and just continue talking.
“Before Yuanwu’s ascension, he killed so many people and burned so many books, but not just to wipe out Wang Jingmeng’s existence. Many people know of Zheng Xiu’s cruelty, but still underestimate it.”
Lin Zhujiu sneered and continued like they imagined.
“One of the reasons he had to go to Changling was because of Yangshan Commandery. He was born in Yangshan Commandery. After the Changling reformation started, Zheng Xiu sent him a letter. The contents said if he did not go to Changling, she would order the army to massacre Yangshan Commandery, the thirteen cities of the commandery without sparing the children and women. In order to make him believe her determination, she massacred one city. The army that did so is the present God Killing Army.”
“That is Jiaowei City?” Zhao Si’s breathing started to stutter. “So it was not the Chu who massacred the city?”
“The God Killing Army killed that Chu Army which was forced to take on the blame.” Lin Zhujiu said disdainfully. “Even though he followed the agreement and went to Changling, dying in battle, she still gave Yangshan Commandery to Chu. Emperor of Chu received this benefit for nothing so he said nothing and let that Chu army take the blame.”
Bai Shanshui’s expression became uglier. “So the destruction of the Ba Mountain Sword Field was due to similar tactics?”
“That is not right.” Lin Zhujiu grew silent and said, “At the time, Ba Mountain had differences. It had nothing to do with the betrayal of a few people.”
“Yan Xinlan thought that his death was to end this matter. She decided to follow his last intentions, and did not want to damage this thing that we used so many times and sacrifices to make. Some of us did not want to fulfill that.”
“This is us making different choices, like some people in Changling now. Some people have decided to sacrifice the individual for the greater whole. They want to see an unprecedented dynasty be created, to conquer the world and stop war from occurring again. That is that person’s dream … yet many people find it difficult.”
“We were a group of dragons without a head, and not as cruel as Zheng Xiu.” Lin Zhujiu said after a long silence, “He was not just the symbol of Ba Mountain Sword Field’s invincibility, even more importantly, he was the head of the dragon. No one had thought that we would lose him first … In conclusion, the strongest Ba Mountain Sword Field went into chaos like this.”
“Actually, there was no chance. If there was a chance, I wanted to see him before his death and listen to his last wishes. His wishes towards the entire world and towards Zheng Xiu and Yuanwu. Should we hand over the world to Zheng Xiu and Yuanwu, and have them complete what we wanted to do, build an unprecedented dynasty, or something else?”
No one spoke.
Each person’s thoughts and conduct was different. Some people and matters may look very stupid in the views of others, but were still worthy of admiration. Even more importantly, Lin Zhujiu’s assumption could not hold. They could not go back to the time of that person’s death and appear at his side.
Maybe for that person, he had a difficult choice then, especially when he realized he could not control everything. He could not make choices for other people.
“These years, I have lived well in the Great Floating Water Prison. At least I could hear, but not do many things.” Lin Zhujiu’s voice broke the deathly silence. “So now, I am unable to decide what to do next. Since the Nine Death Silkworm was able to flawlessly plan and rescue me, I want to listen to his opinion and his ideas about the world.”
Lin Zhujiu looked up, his gaze scanning Bai Shanshui and the other. He slowly smiled. “You are all dragons who have crossed the river. To have you all gather here … he is the head of the dragons.”
The river grew silent again.
Lin Zhujiu’s words contained too much information, too much of the past, the present, and the future matters. But thinking of that youth who had accomplished something incredible, Bai Shanshui and Zhao Si felt that Lin Zhujiu’s words were correct.
“There is something worth being thankful … some people of the Ba Mountain Sword Field may not agree with my thoughts, just like back then. But they will have positive feelings towards the Nine Death Silkworm. At least, they will not be enemies,” Lin Zhujiu said softly with some emotion and contentment.
“But after today, we will be truly lonely ghosts to Changling.”
At this time, a gentle and quiet voice sounded on the broad water. A black boat, accompanied by black mist, appeared silently on the water not far from their small boat. A hunchbacked old man held a bamboo staff. A woman with a zither sat behind her and in the cabin was a young man.
“Young people recover quickly.” Lin Zhujiu looked at the young man and could not help smiling.
Bai Shanshui looked at him, and her face suddenly had a blush. But she was a great rebel with great spirit. So she smiled proudly and said, “Good you are not dead. My promises always count.”
Zhao Si glanced at her and inexplicably smiled and said, “Such a coincidence, today seems to be Double Sevens, seventh day of seventh month, the day where magpies meet.”
“Today is Qixi.”
Ye Celeng stood on the bridge and looked in the direction the pillar of light had disappeared. She heard footsteps behind her but did not turn around as she heard this familiar voice.
“If there is affection, there is affection, if there is none, there is none. Double sevens, double eights, double nines, what is the use? It is just believing one’s own lies,” she said coldly without looking back.
Dressed in deep red robes yet still giving off a sense of loneliness and a rotten presence, Bureau Chief Chen looked at her back and smiled inexplicably. “I am complete when I stand behind you and see you.”
Ye Celeng did not respond but she did not leave either, just looked up at the night sky from the bridge.
Bureau Chief Chen also did not speak. He looked silently at the night, a hundred feet away from her, but there seemed to be a faint smile on his pale lips.
“With the Nine Death Silkworm present, she and Yuanwu will not be happy. But if she and Yuanwu do not die, I will not be happy.”
After Ding Ning spoke, Zhangsun Qianxue’s voice did not sound. Just like their habit in Falling Parasol, this meant the two had finished their conversation.
Yet Ding Ning did not return to his bed, and walked towards Zhangsun Qianxue’s room in the darkness.
“What do you want to do?” Zhangsun Qianxue’s voice sounded with an unspeakable cold.
Ding Ning said, “Help me heal.”
A surge of murderousness appeared ahead of his hand that stretched out to push the door.
“Not because tonight is Double Sevens.” Ding Ning shook his head and whispered seriously, “Just to live.”
Zhangsun Qianxue stood outside the door. Her expression was calm but her eyelashes flickered. She suddenly felt evil inside and could not help but say, “Tell me what you think Yuanwu and Zheng Xiu are doing today?”
“Sharing the same bed with different dreams.” Ding Ning smiled faintly. “There are many who are doing the same. Why care about this adulterous couple.”
Not caring may be the attitude Zhangsun Qianxue needed. The lack of caring represented another kind of care.
Ding Ning pushed open the door with his hand and entered.