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Chapter 24: Follow the Flow
Countless people had countless opinions. But this night, for most cultivators in Changling, was a torment.
The vast and unstoppable power falling from the turret came one after another, each one usually meaning the death of a powerful cultivator or the destruction of a cultivation place. Or rather, surrender.
They knew the old man who guarded the city was very strong, but feeling this power that came in blow after blow without any exhaustion, they were still shocked. They thought, they had underestimated this old man’s strength.
In a small alley, a cultivator with a sword sensed the powerful blows coming off the turret. He imagined the blood contained in each blow and said to his fellow with an ugly expression, “Even if all the cultivation places submit to the imperial palace like the empress imagines so they can be commanded like the army, why does she not think? These cultivation places and these secluded grandmasters are Changling’s natural barrier. They are the true reason that the cultivators from other dynasties do not dare to easily enter Changling! Even if the empress succeeds, Changling will be empty now.”
“So what if it is empty?” His friend had a similarly ugly expression as he said coldly, “Maybe she is deliberately making Changling and luring in those from other dynasties. That way, all of Changling will be a giant trap.”
“Mo Shoucheng has attacked so many times today. Why does he not think of the past Shang Family?” The cultivator with the sword said angrily, but in the next moment, he grew stiff.
A man in light yellow robes was walking ahead of him on a stone path. Behind the yellow-robed man was some officials and attendants at a distance. Many cultivators in Changling recognized this elegant man in light yellow robes was Huang Zhenwei. The Mo Shoucheng he was criticizing was the teacher Mo Shoucheng respected.
Huang Zhenwei moved through this area. He could hear the conversation between the two cultivators, but he felt no anger, only greater pain and sorrow. He knew that the words of these two ordinary cultivators in the alley were correct. As the executor of the empress’ decree, his teacher Mo Shoucheng was fated to endure much anger.
Many people would hate the empress but also Mo Shoucheng who killed their teachers. If Mo Shoucheng was an ambitious general like Liang Lian, Huang Zhenwei may feel better. But he knew Mo Shoucheng was an oil lamp about to go out, giving his last light for this dynasty.
Also, he knew that with Mo Shoucheng’s health, he was very tired right now. Each blow was a heavy burden to his body. So each time the blow came from the turret, he felt more and more helpless.
He had been chasing clues without sleep but he still could not find any. At this moment, he sensed another surge of power from the turret, and it was greater than any of the previous ones. This power fell like heavenly punishment towards the city of Changling. Huang Zhenwei knew that over there was the Half Mountain Sword School. It was one of the cultivation places with the most students and teachers in Changling.
Sensing this vast blow, several scenes appeared in his mind.
Many students and teachers were fighting against the army with their swords. The vast sword essence fell down, and the sword-wielding students and teachers of Half Mountain Sword School were all turned into bloody mists.
“Teacher!” Huang Zhenwei shouted in pain.
He knew, after this blow landed, his teacher would be even more tired, and he knew his teacher, who had attacked, was in more pain than him.
A gully several dozen feet wide suddenly appeared in front of Half Mountain Sword School.
Inside the gully was a wave of blood. There were faint sword lights in the bloody wave, shattered pieces of swords and the torn corners of clothing.
The remaining Half Mountain Sword School students and teacher could not believe their eyes. They could not believe that their friends and teachers had been smashed by such an enormous force to form such a bloody wave.
The wave surged up like a wall. It seemed to cover the moonlight and turn the clean moon blood red.
The Half Mountain Sword School cultivators who remained trembled uncontrollably and were unable to take a step forward.
On the turret, Mo Shoucheng’s wrinkles deepend again. HIs skin looked like it was bloodied, the wrinkles like cracks and the blood was going to seep through these cracks.
The cold commander behind him helped him to sit in the rattan chair and asked, “How about a rest?”
Mo Shoucheng shook his head and said, “Other people can rest, but not me.”
The cold commander slowly bowed his head. He knew, after tonight, many people would remember Mo Shoucheng killed countless people tonight, but few would be certain Mo Shoucheng had prevented more people from dying.
Countless people in Changling turned their gazes to the clinic that the Xie Family had bought.
Zhangsun Qianxue’s emotions were more agited than usual so the wind and snow in her room was a bit wilder. While they were on the same bed, she and Ding Ning were sitting half a foot apart.
“You are sure my energies can help you heal?” she asked calmly as she looked at Ding Ning who was trembling because of the cold.
“Your energies are like an addictive medicine to me,” Ding Ning looked at her and nodded certainly. “My body is already used to this energy. After I released all of it against Liang Lian, my body cannot adjust.”
Zhangsun Qianxue was silent for a moment and said, “It’s just because we are used to each other.”
Ding Ning shook his head without hesitation. “Not just because of habit.”
Zhangsun Qianxue said after a long silence, “People really have another chance at life?”
Ding Ning was silent for a long time. “In life, people have to face their own minds sooner or later. Their final pursuit is for their own inner calm. When one understands what one really wants and sees clearly, everything will go with the flow.”
“Go with the flow?” Zhangsun Qianxue gave a rare laugh. She looked in the direction of the turret. “Many things tonight make people think of things from many years ago. Can people really put down their hatred? If their family is all killed because of a certain person, can she forgive that person?”
Ding Ning bowed his head. He did not answer Zhangsun Qianxue’s question. He did not look at her miserable expression and slowly said, “All grievances will end sometime. If you do not like this city, then we can leave.”
Zhangsun Qianxue suddenly turned around to look at him.
“Tonight, the dead are those cultivators who are unwilling to follow Zheng Xiu, but the one bearing the brunt is Min Mountain Sword Sect.” Ding Ning slowly said, “If Zheng Xiu wants to succeed, she needs to prove to everyone her determination. Then she will order Min Mountain Sword Sect to follow her orders.”
Zhangsun Qianxue said in a cold voice, “Baili Suxue will agree?”
“He will.” Ding Ning nodded and said, “Because everything Zheng Xiu does tonight will let him understand she will continue at any cost. Min Mountain Sword Sect is at the forefront. The earlier he agrees, the less she will make him pay.”
After a pause, Ding Ning said with slight disdain, “This is a transaction between powerful people. No one will state it but they all have their own measures. At this time, Zheng Xiu only needs him to express an attitude. Baili Suxue will agree for another reason because Jing Liuli and I are both in Changling. For him, we are Min Mountain Sword Sect’s future.”
“Jing Liuli will be permitted to return to Min Mountain Sword Sect. Based on Zheng Xiu’s attitude, I will be sent to a border battlefield along with the students of the cultivation places that dared to disobey her orders. But I am a disciple of Min Mountain Sword Trials. So I should be allowed if I ask to take along some people.”
Fearing Zhangsun Qianxue’s objections, Ding Ning added. “The best strategy is to go with the flow, follow the enemy’s thoughts and then use the enemy. If we move with the enemy, we can frequently anticipate their actions.”
Zhangsun Qianxue turned her head to not look at him. She did not want to think about his words and said coldly, “In my view, this is because you understand her too well.”
Inexplicably, Ding Ning could not help but smile and then said, “That is only one of the reasons.”