This chapter has been brought to you by me and larkspur.
Chapter Twenty Six: Lacking A Sword
“My generation likes to learn the sword, reside by the cold pool for a decade — ”
The glowing water drop reflected the terrified expression of this border soldier after he understood.
The power of the black lake water was gradually weakened by the river bed along the way. After merging with the lake formed from the meltwater of the glaciers, the water did not look any different. Even the strange black color disappeared, and the water became absolutely pure.
The ground grew flatter, the snow disappeared, and large patches of frozen tundra appeared. During the early spring, this would pasture. But right now, no grass grew, and the cattle and sheep relied on the dried grass prepared in the summer season.
The poorer the living environment, the more one just simply satisfied the requirements for survival, the more people feared the natural world, and the more closely they observed the surrounding world.
A herder at the edge of a flock of sheep was looking at the sky above a distant stream. He was an ordinary herder. His skin was like dried leather. Because of the dryness and cold of the high altitudes, his skin was a special purple color, and had many marks of frostbite.
He looked at that part of the sky where vultures were circling. The vultures had been spiraling there for a long time, but seemed fearful, and did not land. These birds were like gods to the herders on the plains, appearing in large numbers accompanied by the deaths of beings.
Yet the scene that appeared now was not common to him. First, he was certain that none of his cows or sheep had gone lost. Based on the season, there could not be any deaths there that could lure over vultures. Even more importantly, the vultures would only appear when the being was going to die. They had extraordinary perception surpassing all other beings regarding death. When a vulture swarm came, then the being was close to death. Then the vultures would come down in a swarm, consume the flesh and blood. In the end, the bloody scent when the vultures were tearing up the flesh would lure in the wolf packs. In the end, even the bones would be chewed to pieces.
The vultures were circling for a long time, but did not land. This was strange. The herder grew nervous. He devoutly counted the beads on the rosary he wore. He shouted, calling over two sons who were turning over the fodder. The three rode horses over there.
They quickly gave shouts of terror. The reason the vultures were circling around a corpse by the bank of the stream.
The cadaver was that of a youth. But he did not seem to belong to this world. The remnants of clothing on his body looked extremely grand. Even more terrible was that the youth had many red lines on his body. The lines looked like wounds, but were extremely straight, and went deep into his body. Also, these red lines seemed to contain a terrible presence. It was due to this presence that these vultures did not dare to land.
For the herders here, this was a terrible omen. It may also be a warning from the gods. So the three were in great terror. Two stayed back to guard the corpse while the third moved as fast as he could to bring the news to the leader and shaman of his tribe.
Moving south, the plains were still broad and desolate, but some cities would appear. The largest city took over the empty space of an entire mountain. The top of the mountain was covered in white and red palaces. At the base of the mountain were flat houses made from yellow soil. This was the capital of Donghu.
Before this, there had been a great change in the city of Donghu. An old monk holding a staff had washed the city in blood, killing his way to the deepest part of the palace, and killing the Donghu emperor. Then, the exiled son of Donghu, Yelu Canglang, was welcomed back from the border to take over the throne, after which he started a crueler bloodbath.
But the bloodbath was targeted at the monks deep in the city that had been loyal to the Donghu Emperor, and had enslaved the serfs. The strongest among the monks had already been killed by that old monk. The remaining did not have the ability to fight back.
The new emperor Yelu Canglang seemed to follow the reforms of Changling but changed for this place. He sent a decree. From a family of serfs, if one person could become a warrior recognized by the imperial city, then the entire family could receive their freedom, completely freed from their status as serfs, and could possess their own land.
One did not need sufficient power to become a recognized warrior, just enough bravery. This was hope.
The conditions of the Donghu serfs were much worse than the common people around Changling in the past. The lives of their wives, children, and even themselves did not belong to them. They could be taken by the nobility at any time. Adding on the shadow of the old monk’s slaughter above the heads of all the Donghu nobility, the new decrees of the new emperor Yelu Canglang did not cause any strong rebellion. It was furiously supported by all the serfs. Their emotions were like faith.
It was hard to explain something like faith. Donghu was sparsely populated. It was harder to spread information here than in any other dynasty. Yet from any corner of Donghu right now, from the mouths of the herders and serfs, the old monk and the new emperor Yelu Canglang were like Buddhas that had come to save them.
But what could deal with faith was faith. The nobility that were being suppressed faked many unlucky omens to spread the word that the reforms of the new emperor Yelu Canglang had angered the gods.
Out of true love love and fanatical support for the new emperor, worried that this strange corpse was an unlucky omen from the heavens, the herders at the very edge of Donghu took great care of the corpse. The news, at an unimaginable speed, was sent to the imperial palace through the army.
When more than a dozen cultivators arrived, including Yelu Canglang’s confidants, his vice general from the army, a realm seven cultivator. These cultivators easily judged the time of death for this corpse and his status as a cultivator. They also saw that the red lines on his body were marks left behind after an astounding sword essence cut through him. But they could not understand how this corpse appeared here, and why such a sword essence had not caused the body to break apart.
Even a realm seven cultivator could not understand. This matter was more unusual.
“A foreign youth, who died not long ago. Fine and straight sword threads that passed through his entire body—”
The military information was detailed, even describing the youth’s physical characteristics, there were even drawings. However, it was still hard to understand.
“Based on the pieces of clothing, this should be related to the Qin, but how could someone from Qin get to a desolate place like that?”
In the Wuzhi tent, the old woman looked at the military intelligence that came from Donghu, frowning and asking Ding Ning.
As time passed, more and more clues proved that Ding Ning’s guess was correct. When spring came and the snow melted, the Qin was going to attack the Chu. For her, she naturally connected these two matters together. But that place did not seem to have any influence on Donghu’s situation. There could not be any scheme related to the Qin-Chu war.
“Some things are not so complex, especially after a breakthrough. Do not make other connections.” Ding Ning looked at her and said, “News has not come from Changling, but the old matters that were turned up have had an effect. An Baoshi is dead.”
“An Baoshi?” The old woman thought she heard incorrectly.
“The drawings from this news are very similar to An Baoshi. I have met An Baoshi before,” Ding Ning said directly.
The old woman said dazedly, “Yet An Baoshi is in Changling, far from that place.”
“Spirit Void Sword Sect has a Sword Washing Pool. The water in the pool comes from the sword essence in the void realm. The void realm was created by a grand master at the founding of Spirit Void Sword Sect. It was a primal energy of the universe passageway created to some place using sword essence.”
Ding Ning looked at the old woman and said slowly, “In the past, no one knew where the void realm connected to.”
The old woman finally understood. “You mean the void realm of Spirit Void Sword Sect is connected to the lands over in Donghu?”
Ding Ning nodded, and said, “We just have to wait for news from Changling that An Baoshi fell into the void realm, wanting to escape. Then there will be no doubt.”
The old woman calmed down, sighed, and remained silent. Some things would always remain riddles, but only if they did not encounter people with terrifying insight. In her view, Ding Ning could easily infer these unrelated and almost impossible things, not because he had met An Baoshi before, but because he had such terrifying insight.
Ding Ning also grew silent, his breathing was heavier than usual.
Only a rare few people knew the reason the void realm could form was because the grand master of Spirit Void Sword Sect reached that secret place and left his lifebond sword there. His lifebond sword resonated with the formation in Spirit Void Sword Sect’s sword hall to form the stable void realm. And now, Ding Ning was lacking a sword.
The Last Flower remnant sword was more because of nostalgia. When he went to face Yuanwu and Zheng Xiu in the end, he needed a sword that was strong enough to carry and bear his sword essence. He had not rashly chosen a sword for his lifebond sword because he had to be very careful. There could not be a possibility of failure. After the Heaven Replenishing Divine Art, in his plans, he would go to Chu in the spring to find a sword strong enough. The Chu were top in the world at weapons.
But now, that sword appeared outside of his plans. Some things were accidents, were coincidence. They may just be one of the countless possibilities whirling in his mind.
Translator Ramblings: I need to figure out what’s wrong with my memory. I keep thinking I’ve posted chapters but they don’t appear.