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Chapter Forty-Three: Life
Zheng Xiu frowned deeply, as though she sensed the sword essence fall on her brow. For some unknown reason, even though it was her first time she was so wounded after coming out of Jiaodong Commandery, there was no great anger in her eyes.
Bai Qi howled like a beast. The lifebond sword in his hand vibrated harshly many times between his fingers. He managed to grip onto the sword, and poured more power into it.
Just now, he had lost against that attack, but that was the power from the mistress of the imperial palace, but not him. He himself was a powerful cultivator who had stabbed that almost invincible old monk.
Zhangsun Qianxue won against the mistress of the imperial palace, but the star fire was so strong that even the old monk could not escape unharmed at its peak.
No one could win against him and Zheng Xiu working together.
He believed that, as did all the people in the army who died in front of him.
Just like what the vice general had said at the start- Everyone would die here today, but he would live.
He controlled the power of the lifebond sword in his hand, and slashed towards Zhangsun Qianxue. This was a very thin sword essence. So thin it almost did not exist, but it felt like it could cut through everything, including this world.
Zhangsun Qianxue slowly pulled her sword back. She could not stop this sword, but she knew she would not die as she was very familiar with this sword.
When she pulled her sword back, a hand stretched out from behind her to touch her vicious and cold sword, the strongest sword in the world before the appearance of the Great Punishment Sword. The hand did not arouse any resistance from her lifebond sword. It even took along her lifebond power to stab forward.
The deeply colored Nine Hell King Sword hummed, and an unusually bright sword light illuminated the dark ice lake.
Bai Qi suddenly stopped breathing. The Nine Hell King Sword was the most vicious and coldest sword in the world, and using it meant being invaded by cold energy. Yet what shocked him the most was not Ding Ning using this sword like his own but the unusually bright sword light easily destroyed his sword essence.
Many mirror-like pieces flew in front of him. Then he heard the sound of his wrists snapping.
His wrist bones broke. Almost at the same time, there was a loud bang. His body hit the lake surface hard, and slid backwards.
As his body rubbed against the fragmented ice, Bai Qi looked up, blood dying his thick face cloth red. His eyes held no terror towards death because he knew if the other had wanted him dead with that attack, he would have died long ago.
Ding Ning calmly drew the sword back and placed it back in Zhangsun Qianxue’s hand. He looked at Bai Qi who was stuck in the ice but glaring at him. He slowly said, “Now, perhaps you are interested in telling stories to your enemies.”
“So you are the heir to the Nine Death Silkworm.” Bai Qi laughed harshly. “My sword was Wang Jingmeng’s sword essence. You could defeat it so easily, you must understand it better than me … so the Nine Death Silkworm heir that made Changling so anxious and suspicious is so young.”
Ding Ning did not answer. He just looked silently at Bai Qi.
Bai Qi stopped laughing. He looked in disdain at Ding Ning and said, “Is there any meaning?”
Ding Ning looked at him and said, “Perhaps there is.”
“What meaning?” Bai Qi sneered. “When the Ba Mountain Sword Field army passed by, did you care that you had a few innocent corpses under your flow?”
Ding Ning frowned slightly. “Innocent corpses?”
Bai Qi looked at him and said coldly, “When Ba Mountain Sword Field led armies to attack cities, did you care about the lives of ordinary people in the city?”
Ding Ning seemed to understand and looked towards the cultivator corpses on the ice. He asked, “Your army is made out of orphans from the wars of Ba Mountain Sword Field against the three dynasties?”
Bai Qi smiled coldly but said nothing.
Ding Ning considered but did not speak. Zhangsun Qianxue could not stop herself and sneered. “If so, then you should go kill Zheng Xiu and Yuanwu. Was it Ba Mountain Sword Field who got the world? Ba Mountain Sword Field was used by Zheng Xiu and Yuanwu. The culprits that killed your families are Zheng Xiu and Yuanwu. You put such debts on Ba Mountain Sword Field. Do you not find it laughable?”
“Really?” Bai Qi’s voice did not change at all as he said coldly, “Back then in the Changping battle, the Qin army had a special troop that went around the Changping suburbs along the water to ambush the Zhao army from the rear. Along the way, they encountered a caravan from Lu. Some of them were Zhao cultivators. To avoid the news leaking, the Qin troop killed all three hundred members of the caravan. That troop was led by Ba Mountain Sword Field’s Wang Jingmeng, and the strategist was Lin Zhujiu.”
Zhangsun Qianxue suddenly paled. She could not help but turn to Ding Ning.
Ding Ning’s expression grew strange.
“Then everyone in the caravan was killed?” He looked at Bai Qi and asked oddly.
“Occasionally, there were accidents, and some escaped the net.” Bai Qi looked down disdainfully. “You wanted to hear of the past, this is my past.”
Ding Ning looked at him and said, “So you were the fish that slipped the net?”
Bai Qi did not answer. He thought there was no need to answer.
“So your army, more or less, all have had such pasts?” Ding Ning laughed. “What coincidence!”
Bai Qi turned cold. “What do you mean?”
“Such a coincidence.” Ding Ning looked at Bai Qi and said slowly and seriously, “I do not know the past of other people in your army, but your past … I actually know about this caravan. You think that Wang Jingmeng sent the order to exterminate the caravan?”
Bai Qi looked at Ding Ning like he was an idiot. “What you know will be truer than what I experienced?”
“What you experienced and heard may not be the true story.” Ding Ning’s expression did not change. He calmly stated, “The true story is Wang Jingmeng only sent an order to surround the caravan and had them stay there. The truth was, after trapping the caravan, Wang Jingmeng and the people of Ba Mountain Sword Field led the troop and hurried to the battlefield as fast as possible. Left behind and able to change the order is someone who would never appear openly on the battlefield.”
“It was Zheng Xiu?” Zhangsun Qianxue suddenly understood and could not help but speak.
Bai Qi’s body inexplicably shook. Ding Ning did not speak and looked calmly at him.
“How do you know the past?” Bai Qi wondered and then looked at Ding Ning. “You are too young, this is even less convincing.”
Ding Ning smiled faintly and sadly. “Only the truth is convincing. Since you have memories, you should remember that the troop hurriedly marched off after encountering you. And the smaller troop that trapped you should have acted a long time after the main troop left. If the caravan was supposed to be killed, then there was no need for such trouble. Nothing would be left of the caravan after the army passed by.”
Bai Qi sat up from the ice. His body trembled inexplicably.
“If you know, you know.” Ding Ning looked at him and said, “If you have memories, you may remember that there may have been an argument in the troops left behind before they attacked. Two members of Ba Mountain Sword Field died. The people left there said that those two encountered cultivators from the Zhao. But thinking about it now, those two would definitely have opposed Zheng Xiu’s actions. And there is something you may not know. Most of the people left behind came from Jiaodong Commandery, and were her family soldiers.”
“When there are too many coincidences, they are not coincidences.” After a pause, he looked at Bai Qi and said, “You first made a mistake. Ba Mountain Sword Field does not care about the deaths of ordinary people when the army moves by. The Ba Mountain Sword Field is extremely strict with their army. They may use schemes or assassinations. Most battles will be guided so the armies will meet in the wilderness. Hundreds of thousands in the army will determine victory in one blow. Accidental killings cannot be avoided, but to gather up an army like yours … each person has great hatred towards Wang Jingmeng and Ba Mountain Sword Field due to all kinds of reasons. It is such a coincidence that it happened in such short years.”
“Even if there are just a few hundreds of you.” Ding Ning shook his head emotionally. “He only led the army for a few years. Then on average, how many times did he have to do something like this? Even the horse bandits who specialize in raiding do not have such a rate and cannot do so many evil things. The Ba Mountain Sword Field are not bandits.”
Bai Qi stopped breathing.
The lake was silent.
Zhangsun Qianxue sneered. “Even I understand, you still do not?”
Her voice was full of mockery but not for herself. She said even she understood because she only thought of cultivation most times, and did not waste energy on other problems. After Ding Ning said all this, there was no need to think.
She added scornfully, “Blaming others, pretending to be innocent, changing military orders. These are what Zheng Xiu is best at doing.”
“What is the true past?”
Ding Ning looked away from Bai Qi, turning around and walking towards the ice pillar created because of the sword essence underwater. His voice sounded in the icy air.
“It exists in your judgement. I leave you alive now. It is up to you how you want to use your life.”