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Chapter 27: Simple to Overlook
“Min Mountain Sword Sect has no arrangements for other people.”
Nangong Caishu shook her head at Ding Ning and said, “If not for your request, even I would have been kept back at Min Mountain Sword Sect to cultivate.”
Ding Ning seemed unsurprised. After a moment of silence, he said with satisfaction, “Min Mountain Sword Sect responded with a satisfactory attitude to the empress, and she has repaid them.”
Nangong Caishu understood Ding Ning’s meaning. “You worry that she will treat us like she did Zhang Yi?”
“She is most adept at separating one from friends and family,” Ding Ning said with a cold smile.
Nangong Caishu stilled slightly. She thought of how Ding Ning had killed Palace Attendant Rong. That had been in retribution for the empress dealing with Zhang Yi.
“To be able to let Xie Changsheng stay in Min Mountain Sword Sect … and he seemed to have let many students who were injured stay in Min Mountain Sword Sect.” Ding Ning looked at Nangong Caishu and said, “Baili Suxue seems to have changed.”
Nangong Caishu felt that she could not judge people of such a level like Ding Ning was doing so casually so she could not reply.
Min Mountain was cold up high.
Baili Suxue looked at the mountain snow and asked a Min Mountain Sword Sect cultivator in green robes behind him, “He has no other requests?”
The Min Mountain Sword Sect cultivator respectfully shook his head. “Other than asking for those people to come along, he has no other requests.”
Baili Suxue said coolly, “Since he has no other requests, this means he is confident.”
The Min Mountain Sword Sect cultivator behind him was slightly reluctant. “We will let the empress do this?”
“Burning ties at a needless time can only be called rash.” Baili Suxue said expressionlessly in a slow voice, “No matter how united, there are always some swords to make her and Yuanwu wary. No need to make it a life and death struggle.”
For many people of Changling, a place colder than Min Mountain was the depths of the imperial palace.
Deep in the palace, a grey-robed man knelt on the stone path in front of the empress’ study. He was tall so even kneeling on the ground, he appeared tall. His right sleeve was empty and it swayed in the breeze. He looked very miserable and humble. But none could connect him to the master of Great Floating Water Prison, Shen Xuan. He did not know how long he had knelt for
From the study ahead, a cold voice finally sounded. “I only asked you to see me, why kneel?”
Shen Xuan looked at the ground in front of his knees and did not look up as he said, “It is my failure that Great Floating Water Prison was broken in and Lin Zhujiu was lost, I came to receive punishment.”
“If you feel no guilt and did your best, there is no need to kneel.” The empress’ voice came slowly through the study.
Hearing this cold and authoritative voice, Shen Xuan did not argue and hung his head silently.
“I originally thought you liked the Great Floating Water Prison.” The empress continued. “You can meet more cultivators there, and learn many cultivation methods from them. So your cultivation has increased greatly in those years. Do not forget, among the people of your age, many cultivators with better talent are far behind you.”
“But now I know you did not like it, you are not as you appeared. If my judgement was mistaken, it is naturally my mistake and not yours.”
“You should know, unless I do not speak, if I do speak, I will do what I have said. I can give you a promise.”
The voice coming from the study was no longer so cold and started to turn peaceful. “If you like, you can accompany the army to Donghu … If you can take the Heaven Replenishing Divine Art from the youth, you will be the fourteenth Qin marquis and I can let you choose your lands.”
Shen Xuan’s body did not tremble at all, but his face twitched. He took a deep breath and then slowly stood up. He said, “I will go to Donghu.”
The empress’ voice sounded from the study. “I hope you really like it this time.”
Shen Xuan lifted his head and said, “I do.”
Changling was always filled with numerous joys and sorrows. Some people were in joy while others in sorrow.
Huang Zhenwei looked sorrowfully at Mo Shoucheng who was laying on the rattan chair and said in a trembling voice, “Teacher, wait for me.”
Mo Shoucheng slowly lifted his head to glance at him and nodded.
Huang Zhenwei turned and walked down the turret, moving in the direction of the imperial palace under the morning light. He knew his teacher had reached his last moments. How long he would stay in the world depended on his teacher’s will. If his teacher wanted to leave, he could leave at any moment. He knew that with his teacher’s condition, each moment was extra pain. But he wanted his teacher to wait until he came back from the imperial palace.
He wanted to request some things from the empress. At least, his teacher should not be like the master of the Shang Family. At least, his master could have less of a bad name.
This was his sincere wish as a student. He wanted to do that.
Yet he did not know, when he left the turret, the cold general turned around Mo Shoucheng’s rattan chair at his indication. This way, Mo Shoucheng could see Huang Zhenwei moving away.
“What is the meaning?” Mo Shoucheng seemed to be speaking to Huang Zhenwei and also to himself and the general behind him. “When you live to my age, you will understand there is nothing more important than life and death as well as doing as you please. When one is dead, everything is gone. You will reach inner peace. Why care about these matters left behind?”
After saying all this, he pulled up his blanket and closed his eyes as though he was dozing.
Huang Zhenwei walked quickly. He seemed to be a beam of light moving through Changling. At one place, he stopped for a moment.
Here, he could see a desolate alley nearby, Falling Parasol. At this time, he did not think of anything about the wine shop youth except how he looked standing in front of Xue Wangxu’s corpse at the start of Min Mountain Sword Trials.
The scene in his mind slowly merged with Ding Ning’s shadow. He thought that his emotions now were Ding Ning’s emotions back then.
He stopped for a moment and then continued to advance. Then, he quickly stopped again.
With his cultivation, he could hear many quiet sounds. He was used to hearing the sounds of the world rushing into his ears, he would then eliminate the disorderly sounds until he heard what he wanted to.
What he heard now was what he desired. His body inexplicably trembled. The sound he heard accidentally was an ordinary conversation between two people in the alley.
“Blacksmith Zhang’s daughter is looking better, exactly the same as her mother in her youth, the same mold.”
“Her mouth is the same as Blacksmith Zhang. I think you are old and your memory is failing. Even if it is the same painter, no two people can look exactly the same.”
“You are so serious …”
Hearing this conversation that would occur frequently in the alleys, Huang Zhenwei knew he had made a serious mistake, or rather, he had overlooked something.
Sometimes, when one has been searching for a long time and had no clues, the clues, like the unremarkable grass on the side of the road, had already entered his sight.
Many people had investigated Ding Ning. Long ago, after the storm when Ye Celeng returned to Changling, the Divinity Bureau had investigated Divinity Bureau, and his aunt Zhangsun Qianxue. Even the Divinity Bureau felt there were no problems and destroyed Ding Ning’s case files, but if someone important wanted to investigate Ding Ning, the information they would get would not be any less than the Divinity Bureau.
Back during the Deer Mountain Conference, Huang Zhenwei had seen some of Ding Ning’s information. This information included Zhangsun Qianxue. Their births had no problems. He had even seen their family history.
In the family history, there was Zhangsun Qianxue’s mother’s portrait. This mother in the portrait looked almost the same as Zhangsun Qianxue. Not just appearance, they were almost identical in expression.
There could not be two of the same rivers in the world, or two people that looked exactly the same. This was a simple truth. Yet when he flipped through the family history, he had not made a serious comparison, and just thought that Zhangsun Qianxue’s mother was also an unforgettable beauty.
If that portrait had been made based on Zhangsun Qianxue, then it was a fake.
A fake was the biggest problem.
Translator Ramblings: Finally, someone on the “other side” has found a clue.