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Nightfall - Chapter 153

Published at 27th of April 2018 12:25:04 AM


Chapter 153: The Fourteenth Year, Last Summer, and Going Upstai

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The hero was always the last person to debut.




On the dusty battlefield, a few sub-generals had fiercely fought with knives for a long time. Instead of holding off the other side, they often suffered defeats. Then a soldier in a silvery robe suddenly raised the bridle reins to directly rush over on a horse, killing all the enemies. He then stood in the wild with his spear as the twilight was shining on his face, looking extremely graceful.

Gangs of youths were chopping at each other in the rainy streets, where the spraying blood was even denser and more intense than the rain. Dozens of corpses were lying in disorder on the streets from Western city to Southern city. And then a leader in black who was holding a steel knife appeared, shouting and waving his knife as if a blood dragon was flying from one side to the other. Under the knife of such an extremely powerful guy there appeared no enemies who could rival him, beneath whose feet no lives survived.

As for the reason why the youth in the silvery robe and the leader in black did not get involved at the beginning until their subordinates and younger brothers miserably had gotten hurt and lost their lives—it was, of course, not because they suffered from habitual procrastination as the storyteller had. Instead, it was because they knew for sure that their elegant demeanor could be highlighted only after a prolonged period of forbearing and brutal waiting.

As the Second Floor opened, a great number of people began to ascend the mountain to climb towards the top. That included the highly desirable man, Prince Long Qing, who had already set off, while Ning Que was still silently standing in the corner and had not yet started up at the moment.

He could interpret his delay as an attempt to analyze the problems that might arise in mountain climbing by observing those young cultivators' experiences of mountaineering. Yet he had to admit that the more important reason in his inner heart was that he actually did not care about the life and death of those climbers that were slogging on the sloping mountain road who were not his subordinates nor his sub-generals. Under such a situation where he had little confidence to get into the Second Floor, why not enjoy the thrill of the last stage?

The hero was always the last person to debut.

Even until the end, the hero would still be Prince Long Qing, who continued standing high above the masses and being too perfect to be human. At least at this very moment, Ning Que, the final presence, was undoubtedly the current hero.

...

...

Ning Que's idea was perfectly turned into a reality.

When he took the pastry from Chu Youxian that was wrapped in a handkerchief and continued walking toward the back of the Academy in the courtyard, countless pairs of eyes that were full of complex emotions, either surprise or frustration, but most of all, doubt, were caught by him.

It had been a long time since the Second Floor was opened. People could see from today's mountaineering that it would be a great victory for Prince Long Qing. At this moment, how come some ungrateful guy had appeared here to disturb the others' solemn and sacred wait for the graceful prince, Long Qing?

"It seems to be a student from the Academy."

The envoy of Great River Kingdom, looking at Ning Que's clothes and ornaments, asked with knitted brows, "Is he the expert hiding in the Academy?"

"Six students from the course of magic skills are all on the mountain, four of whom have been carried back. It seems that the instructors of the Academy don't know what's going on either, judging by their astonishment."

Among the crowds of Academy students, Zhong Daojun, trying to suppress his shock, watched Ning Que, who was staying in the center of the discussion, and then asked with a sneer, "Did you go mad again? Don't you think you've embarrassed yourself enough this year?"

Situ Yilan subconsciously took a step forward with her hands slightly clenching her sleeves, and gazed in front at Ning Que with her face full of curiosity and worry. Although she knew Ning Que was not as worthless as the classmates had said, she really could not figure out why he had to ascend the mountain at this time and why he believed he had the opportunity to enter the Second Floor.

Under a large golden umbrella stood Lee Yu, who was looking at the neither-strange-nor-familiar lad, seeming to be lost in thought. She wondered why she had such a strong sense of confidence and hope in him, thinking of the scene on the journey back from the grassland last year, and thinking of what Lyu Qingchen had firmly said with a smile. But actually, she did not know where the strong sense came from.

Li Peiyan took a look following Lee Yu's gaze with a serious and remorseless expression on his face. As Prince of the Tang Empire, he was keen to see a youth of the Tang Empire from the Academy stand out to fight back some dignity for the Empire, but the last thing he wanted was for this event to produce too many variables.

Priest Moli did not consider Ning Que eligible enough to become a variable. He took a quick glance and no longer cared at all. Now Prince Long Qing had entered the mountain amidst the thick fog and might successfully reach the top in the next moment. To Priest Moli, Ning Que was only the perfect foil to the glory of West-Hill and the prince, no matter whether he stood out for playing to the gallery or getting the instruction of the Academy.

For those people who were less determined with a wandering mind, all of these looks—especially the inspecting and confusing vision from so many bigwigs around the stone ground of the Academy—gathering on a person might be too heavy and crush a slender student.

But for Ning Que, gazes from others were the existence of the least weight and power in the world, and the same went for more gazes. What he would do had nothing to do with these people, so the emotions in their gazes were of no concern to him.

The professor, who was responsible for presiding over the opening ceremony of the Second Floor today, was blankly standing in front of the stone ground. Through the instructor's previous introduction, he learned that Ning Que was a student of the Academy, and some rumors about this lad had been heard this year.

"Why are you here?" asked the professor.

Ning Que flashed an honest smile and greeted with a bow and his hands folded in front, asking, "Am I not allowed? I'm unaware that a time-limit for application was included in your previously declared rules."

"Definitely not. I just heard that you pretended to be ill and quit the semester exam last year out of fear of losing out to your rival, so I can't understand why you here to ascend the mountain today."

"If quitting the exam and ascending the mountain are on the two logically conflicting sides," Ning Que looked at the professor and calmly continued, "then that I dare to ascend the mountain today will declare that those rumors and accusations against me in the Academy were false."

Looking at this ordinary but eloquent student in front of him, the professor looked quite happy, smiling with his two silvery eyebrows rising in the spring breeze. Instead of making way for Ning Que, he continued to say with a hint of interest,

"But I still want to know why on earth you ascend the mountain today."

Ning Que laughed and replied, "If asked by those people of West-Hill Divine Palace or envoys of the Special Envoy, I will certainly give them an appalling answer. For you, of course, I must answer honestly... To ascend the mountain, just because I want to."

The professor laughed, stroking his gray beard, and exclaimed shaking his head, "Good answer indeed. This is the best answer that I've ever heard in recent years."

Then he continued with curiosity, "What will you answer if you're asked by those guys of West-Hill and Yan Kingdom?"

"If I am questioned, I will say..."

Ning Que embarrassedly smiled and said, "Because the mountain is there."

The professor was stunned and his fingers that were stroking his beard slightly stiffened. Then he laughed and praised him, looking at Ning Que in a manner that said the lad was worth teaching. "This is also a good answer."

"Go ahead," the professor continued with a smile, "but the mountain road is steep and rugged. If you suddenly want to stop climbing halfway, just come down. And I'll always stand by you, blaming anyone who dares to ridicule and deride you."

Ning Que laughed and gave a deep bow before taking his leave.

The professor watched him going into the quiet alleyway, and thought that not all the students this session were useless guys, lightly stroking his beard and nodding with satisfaction.

...

...

Ning Que was very familiar with the path up to the mountain, at least for the part at the beginning. The laneway, wetland, bamboo, and small building were all well-known and the lakeside bluestones remembered his footsteps. He looked up and waved to say hello after arriving at the old library.

The chubby Chen Pipi was leaning on the window, waving to downstairs outside. If he did not want to be seen by Prince Long Qing and those climbers, then they could not; but Ning Que would be naturally able to see him if he had allowed Ning Que to.





"If you really can't climb up, don't try to be brave." Chen Pippi favorably reminded him.

"Could you please say some lucky words?" Ning Que asked, looking up at him, "Why can't anyone, including you, believe I'm capable of ascending to the top?"

"The path up to the mountain won't be that easy." Chen Pippi spread his chubby hands and sincerely continued. "Moreover, you're really as weak as a cat or a dog compared to Prince Long Qing."

Ning Que could not be bothered to continue the conversation and walked toward the side of the old library after waving his hands. He suddenly thought of something and then stopped, turning back to ask unwillingly, "No back doors indeed?"

Chen Pipi, opening the window lattice, shouted, "Get out of here."

Ning Que shook his head with a smile and kept moving forward. A back door was unexpectedly found after he bypassed the old library—He had spent a whole year in the old library watching the landscape of downstairs from the upstairs or walking around downstairs. He was quite clear that there was a shabby gray wall here, but now it became a door instead.

Behind the door was a bluestone path, two sides of which were grown with green bamboo that gradually spread up to the distance between the jungle and grass on the mountainside.

Ning Que stepped over the threshold and walked up toward the mountain along the trail in the bamboo forest.

Without any abnormal situation occurring, he walked gradually higher and higher along the path, crossing the fence below and passing over the picturesque bamboo forest, where people of the Academy in the distance could be faintly seen when he turned back.

The front path became narrower and narrower, on which blue flagstones had been replaced with smaller stones. The woods beside the path were so quiet without any birds chirping that it got a bit weird.

A sense of inexplicable and intense pain hit Ning Que's brain, which transmitted from his right foot the moment that it was set on the path, with his brows suddenly tightening and his face instantly turning pale like the snow.

Ning Que felt weak at his knees and almost fell down because of the sudden pain, but he forcibly supported with his hands on the ground to pull himself up again after a humming sound, and then took a look at the side of the mountain road.

Cliffs covered with moss could be seen amid the green forest. If carefully observed, it could probably be distinguished that those lines, like stone cracks beneath the dense moss, were actually some big characters engraved on the stone. Yet the vermilion that was painted on the strokes of those characters had long been obscured under the attack of wind and rain over the past many years.

"What a powerful Psyche Power attack this is. Perhaps these words were left by Divine Talisman Masters..."

Ning Que stared at those characters and his hands hanging aside were slightly shivering. At that moment, thousands of invisible steel pins were penetrating his feet. For an ordinary guy, this kind of pain might have already made him fall down on the ground and cried out in despair. But he was extraordinarily conscious even though his face was pale and his hands were shaking, as if the pain did not have any effect on him.

Previously when he watched the distant mountain road from the Academy, he could see that Xie Chengyun and the others were walking with extreme difficulty and tardiness on the road. Though their facial expressions were not seen, their pain could be vaguely felt. Then Ning Que guessed what kind of inhibitors had been set on the mountain road, never expecting that examinations of the Second Floor of the Academy were so barbaric that such a drastic Divine Talisman was enabled at the very beginning.

Now he finally understood why those outstanding young guys cultivating Taoism from all over the world walked with such difficulty and as slowly as puppets on this mountain road. Under the Divine Talisman, any natural environment surrounding the road might become a danger that prevented people from ascending the mountain. No one could avoid it, but must force their way!

Ning Que tightly furrowed his brows, watching his right foot on the path paved with gravel. He nervously giggled suddenly and pulled his left foot up that had been left behind and stepped on the road by the strength in his waist and by leaning forward.

He stepped as hard as he could, as if he would stomp the road to be broken.

Numerous invisible needles sticking out from the cracks of the gravel stabbed deeply into his feet through his hard soles. That ultimate pain quickly replaced the instantaneous itch and then clearly passed into his brain.

Ning Que's face became paler. But his furrowing brows gradually stretched out, and he then took a deep breath as enjoyment, swinging his hands to move forward.

...

...

Many people stared at Ning Que and began to pay attention to his behavior when he appeared on the mountain road. They watched intentionally or unintentionally, with concentration or with a quiet peer, out of real concern or just curiosity, or out of mockery.

They watched Ning Que stepping on the mountain road and nearly falling to the ground with every step. Under this circumstance, some of them could not help but shake their heads, and some even uttered scornful laughter.

Priest Moli was indifferently talking with the Special Envoy from Yan Kingdom, seeming to be totally unaware of what was happening on the road. Yet he still could not help scornfully shaking his head after seeing Ning Que falling down.

As a genius in cultivation, Priest Moi could, after such a long time of observation, somehow vaguely guess at what kind of inhibitors had been set on the mountain road by the Academy. At this time, he could confirm that Ning Que at most had entered the No Doubts State, since Ning Que looked so miserable being suppressed by the Divine Talisman—the No Doubts State? It might probably be regarded as a good level in the course of magic skills in the Academy, but it was rather wishful thinking for Ning Que, who wanted to make a great coup after a couple of days of tolerance, to rely on his No Doubts State.

From among the Academy students, Zhong Dajun pointed at the mountain road and said with a sneer, "Grandstanding is grandstanding, he just wants to steal the spotlight. He never considers how much harm will be brought to the reputation of the Academy to make a show of himself in this way."

Situ Yilan could not help but draw a breath when she witnessed Ning Que falling down. Hearing the mockery from the crowd, she glared at Zhong Dajun and then moved forward holding Jin Wucai's hands to pull farther away from the classmates.

"Your hands are a bit cold," Jin Wucail said, looking at her with worry. Although Jin Wucai, the granddaughter of the Old Chancellor, was concerned more about Xie Chengyun, who was still struggling hard on the mountain road, she still feared for her female partner by her side because Ning Que seemed to have no chance to succeed.

"It's ok. I don't want to see their nasty faces." Situ Yilan took a glance at the classmates, who were talking to each other behind them, and continue with a sneer. "Even if Ning Que can only take a step on the mountain road, he's still stronger than these guys who don't even dare to give it a try."

Jin Wucai stared at the leafy mountain road in the distance, saying in anxiety, "As it turns out, I'm afraid that Ning Que can no longer take the next step."

Situ Yilan gave no reply and just focused her attention on the mountain road, silently cheering for her friend who had long been forgotten by the Academy. All of a sudden, a hint of pleasant surprise floated on her clear cheeks. Then she pointed to the distance with a light jump, shouting, "Look! Look! Ning Que is beginning to move forward again!"

Most of the Academy students noticed what was going on. They witnessed Ning Que pulling himself up with difficulty and then moving his left foot to take a step forward after a brief moment of pausing.

Then Ning Que took a second step, a third step, but four steps... Although it was evident that his body was trembling and moving at a slow speed, he seemed to walk more and more stable, as if each of his steps was deeply treading onto the hard mountain road!

Someone in the crowd uttered a cry.

A young official from the Ministry of Rites of the Tang Empire stood up and gazed at the mountain road with his face full of excitement. He did not know who the young student on the mountain road was and did not believe that the young student could defeat Prince Long Qing to ascend the summit. But he felt his previous pride and self-confidence that had been repressed return to his own body as the young student kept moving forward.

Chu Youxian, who was taking out a second package of snacks to eat at the corner, became surprised and opened his mouth wide, yet he unexpectedly forgot to put the snacks into his mouth. Staring at the figure on the mountain road, he suddenly found that he had never actually gotten to know the lad well.

Lee Yu looked at the mountain road and fell into a brief moment of silence before giving a wee smile.

Chen Pipi looked toward the mountain road leaning against the window of the old library, and said with emotion, "You're too harsh to yourself. Speaking of which... can anyone who's more ruthless than you be found in this world? I'm wondering how far you can go? I still don't know."

After finishing this sentence, he closed the window as a few green leaves fell off.

...


...

A few green leaves fell off from the wind and then passed over Ning Que's shoulders to land on the ground finally.

The green forest beside the mountain road was comprised of many kinds of trees, but this sector was mostly planted with bamboo, whose leaf edges seemed as sharp as pieces of sharp knives.

The falling bamboo leaves actually were as sharp as knives, rather than only seeming to be as sharp as knives.

With a sharp sound, the bamboo leaf that was sweeping over Ning Que's shoulders directly tore his clothes like a sharp knife and abraded his skin, and finally lacerated a thin bloody cut.

Ning Que looked at his shoulders without seeing any holes on his clothes, any blood on the bamboo leaf, or any bleeding cuts.

But he knew that something had definitely happened because he received a clear and intense pain from his shoulders. He was even able to precisely feel the unbearable sensation of a foreign body in the bloody cut that was brought by the hairs of the bamboo leaf.

He lifted his right hand to wipe his shoulder just as if he were dusting. This behavior, of course, could not remove the invisible wounds and pain left by the bamboo leaf. But he thought that it was marvelous that he felt much more relaxed and could continue to move forward after finishing this movement.

Other bamboo leaves rustled to fall off, rubbing against his cheek, his breast, and his back, and then rested on the gravel mountain road.

His clothes were the same as before, but innumerable invisible rips and numerous sufferings were added that were unbearable for ordinary people. His face remained unchanged, but getting paler.

A mountain breeze came, and countless pieces of bamboo leaves were swept up into the air, and then fell down like a rainstorm.

Ning Que, walking amidst this bamboo rain, was no longer bothered to pull out the leaves that were about to land on his shoulders. Instead, he just continued to move forward in silence, as if in his bright eyes he could see the bamboo rain falling last year when he killed Yan Suqing in the small lakeside house.

He walked very attentively and hard. Every step he took was heavily trodden on the ground with dust splashing out of his shoe soles. He ran over the clutter of bamboo leaves and passed through the pain.

While the bamboo rain was falling, it was the right time for killing and ascending the mountain.

...

...

Someone might be able to enjoy some scenery when starting late, but it would be hard for them to keep pace with the others. Besides, they could only walk alone on the mountain road with no one being in front of or behind them.

Ning Que felt a bit thirsty with his mouth seeming to give off smoke. He wanted to drink some water, and at that moment the sound of sobbing water was heard.

He looked around, and saw a thin water flow that was gushing out of a crack in the cliff beside the road. It turned into a hand-sized puddle in a stone depression at the base, next to which clusters of wild grass grew.

He did not go to drink the spring nor to pity the grass.

Because the thin water flow suddenly turned into an impetuous yellow waterfall and hit him, as if it wanted to knock him out, onto the big moss-covered stone at the bottom of the deep pool.

...

...

He continued walking forward with attentiveness and strength as before. Each step he took was intense and heavy. He walked slowly and steadily through the jungle along the mountain road and then came to the middle of a meadow.

Without any tree shade, the blazing sunshine was unceremoniously splashing down to coat the meadow with a layer of red, as though it would ignite everything on the sides of the mountain road.

Ning Que took a glance at the sky with his hand covering his forehead, and then uttered a tired sigh. He noticed that a small lake reflecting light like a mirror was located beside the mountain road in front of him.

The lake was small, tranquil, and clear enough that fish could be seen swimming silently inside.

A little yellowish flower bloomed in a crack by the lakeside.

It was shivering amidst the blowing breeze, seeming to be extremely frightened.

Small ripples spread out on the calm lake, where small fish flicked their tails and disappeared among stones.

An angry sea then appeared in the eyes of Ning Que. The seawater was extremely blue and even as black as the ink that he was familiar with. It kept rolling, setting off mountain-like waves, making an angry roar, continuously lapping against the embankment and against Ning Que, who was standing on the embankment.

His feet stood like a nail on the embankment, staring at the overwhelming raven-black waves. Even though his body seemed to be hit by boulders and his drenched clothes were torn apart and brought back to the sea by the seawater, he still never took a step back.

Then the sea stood up.

The seawater that was as raven as ink, stood up like a wall. No, like the earth actually.

The sea cutting the sky into two halves slowly pressed toward him. In the sea that divided the sky and the earth vertically were seen a whirlpool that was larger than a mountain, seabirds that were fruitlessly flying everywhere with a plaintive whine, and death.

Then the sea fell down.

Ning Que fell down as well.

He fell heavily on the mountain road, painfully tightening his brows and spraying a mouthful of blood.

The lake was still calm, with nothing other than a few ripples.

...

...

A peaceful but proud voice was heard in the depths of the mist.


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The style of this pride was different from that of Prince Long Qing, who pretended to be nonchalant. The one who the voice belonged to did not bother to hide nor deliberately show his pride. His pride lying in his strong inner heart was totally the genuine one, which was not disgusting.

"A legend tells that the handwriting on the cliff is engraved by the former predecessors from the Academy. If someone opens the inhibitor and intends to break through it, the more he will be able to endure the pain and power implied in the Talisman. In return, the pain and power that the mountain road gives to this person will be stronger."

That calm and proud voice continued. "Many years ago I fought with the eldest Brother, whose temperament you are quite clear about. It was impossible for him to be ruthless to me, but I still couldn't defeat him. Out of fury, I crumpled the mold that the instructor often used for making plum cakes, so the teacher made a brutal decision in a huff to punish me to go through the mountain road."

A burst of exclamation was heard in the mountain mist, and various reasons for this phenomenon could be included. Some people were marveling at the powerfulness of the eldest Brother; some were amazed at Second Brother , who was powerful enough to crumple the Headmaster's stainless-steel pastry mold engraved with Fu unarmed; some were impressed with Second's extreme bravery, who dared to let the Headmaster skip having plum cakes...

"That year while I was crossing the mountain road, the movement that I stirred was certainly much bigger than that caused by this guy. In the end, I didn't fall to the ground until galactic meteorites flew everywhere. However, it isn't easy that this guy's capable of getting the sea into a rage."

Someone in the mist agreed, and said with emotion, "It just seems that the more pain you can bear, the stronger pain that you have to suffer. This guy is a bit unlucky."

"Unlucky?" someone asked in anger.

"Unlucky," the man quickly explained.

"'You have never seen the Youngest Uncle, only the eldest Brother and I have seen him,"

Second Brother proudly said, feeling relieved a bit, as if it was a very proud thing itself to have seen the Youngest Uncle before.

"The Youngest Uncle once said that fate itself is a very cruel guy. If you're chosen to assume the mission, and then before confirming that you're qualified, it will do everything possible to break every bone in you and to strip every trace of your flesh and blood, allowing you to suffer the most extreme pain in the world so as to make your volition and temperament tough and eligible enough to be chosen by fate..."

Someone was talking and recalling freely amidst the thick fog, while others whisperingly argued. "It seems that whom Second Brother admires most is the Youngest Uncle, ah."

...

...

"It's nothing to get every bone broken, to strip every trace of flesh and blood, or to bear the most extreme sufferings in the world. While I stayed on the grassland of Min Mountain, which of my bones wasn't broken? Which part of my body wasn't wounded?"

Ning Que bent over to the hard mountain road, feeling the edges of the gravel beneath him. It seemed that all of the bones in his body had been shattered by the sea, but his eyes did not have the slightest fear, only indifference existed.

With both hands propping him up, he struggled to get himself up and then lifted his sleeves to wipe away the blood on his lips. He looked back at the long winding road that he had walked through, shouting, "I read your book in the old library last summer!

"I have seen your needles hidden in the books, the bamboo leaves as well! I was stunned by the damn waterfall! I was also swallowed by the stinking sea, but how about me? I am still standing here! Last year I was just an ordinary person knowing nothing, but I wasn't overthrown by all of that. Not to mention that I'm already a genius who has embarked on the road of cultivation now."

A quietness hung over the clear lake in the meadow, with some arrogant shouts echoing there. No birds were frightened to fly out of the forest, no insects were startled to raise their heads up—only then did the echoes fade away and then disappear, and it finally returned to peace. Those little fish, shaking their tails, drilled out from the stones and then swam into the sunlight.

Suddenly looking up to the blue sky that was not separated by branches, Ning Que gradually smiled and murmured, "Haotian master, you made me suffer a lot during these years, so you plan to pay me back here?"

Ning Que turned around and, while wiping away the blood dripping from his mouth and nose, he was struggling forward in slow and hard movements. He looked to be awkward and in pain, yet had a sincere smile on his face.

He suddenly thought of something and he then said, full of regret, "Thank God? You should thank yourself first, since you're not easy in life and you're so capable. These are what you deserve."

...

...

A long period of silence prevailed at the end of the mist.

Second Brother suddenly had a sigh and said, "Although the state the guy stays in is bad and his cultivation ability is poor, his arrogant manner looks the same as Pipi's to some degree."

Another faint voice was heard, "Second Brother, why do I feel that his arrogant acting embodies your style to some extent?"

...

...

With the sun gradually setting, the temperature decreased a bit, but the mountain road was still bright. Ning Que was walking with difficulty, wiping away the blood and sweat. He did not care about his slow and hard paces because from the time he began to flee at the age of four, and especially when he climbed over the vast Min Mountain carrying Sangsang, he had understood a truth—that it did not matter even if someone walked slowly, if only could he keep walking, then one day he would reach the place where he wanted to be and surpass all those people by the roadside who did not dare to start.

At this point in his climb, Ning Que finally saw a peer.

He took a gaze at the young man sitting by the side of the road, and glanced over the official sword at the young man's waist. He remembered that he had heard from his classmates in the Academy that this man appeared to be a swordsman from South Jin Kingdom and the forces the guy belonged to were hostile to Xie Cheng Yun's family. Ning Que just did not know whether the guy had anything to do with Liu Bai, the Sword Sage.

Thinking of Liu Bai, Ning Que could not help remembering the words that the female professor said in the sword forest this morning. He then wiped the sweat from his forehead, recalling those soul-stirring incidents along the road, and could not refrain from feeling a bit of regret, but he immediately dispelled all of that remorse.

The young swordsman from South Jin Kingdom fell down to the roadside, with pain and horror filling his face. His hands were clinging to a small tree like a drowning man holding the last piece of wood in the sea. No one knew what kind of spiritual impact he had experienced on this mountain road.

Seeing Ning Que going by, the swordsman showed a few hints of shame on his face. He subconsciously bit his teeth and gradually seemed persistent in his eyebrows, ready to get himself up.

Ning Que just quietly passed him by rather than stop to talk to him. Not knowing whether it was due to suffering too much impact today, those grievances and bad habits hidden well in his heart after coming to Chang'an City started to irrepressibly break out.

What if this guy gets up again after gaining my motivation? What if this guy can stand the spiritual impact on the mountain road? What if this guy can learn something from the pain just like I had, and even directly break through that state? Although this kind of small probability event only happens to such a guy like Prince Long Qing, won't I inspire a potential competitor with my own determination? What if the back mountain of the Academy is a place for creating miracles?

Ning Que thought and gradually stopped his steps, considering that he would not let such things happen. He turned to the young swordsman who tried to stand up with difficulty by holding onto a small tree, and said with the most sincere tone and expression, "Please give up if you can't stand any longer. We're just up here on the mountain, not knowing what else is lying ahead. Just now I saw lots of people being carried off the mountain on stretchers. The Instructor of the Academy said that two of the climbers had suffered such a great spiritual impact that their future cultivation might be affected."

He raised his finger to point at his own forehead and sincerely said, "If you want to continue, of course, it is something to be admired, but I advise you to think it over."

The so-called courage and determination were often the matter of an instant, and if someone took serious consideration, then everything would turn into a bubble. If that small tree was the last piece of wood that the young swordsman was holding onto in the sea, then what Ning Que said would become the last spindrift that would bat the wood away.

The young swordsman took a glimpse at Ning Que and let go of the small tree that was tightly held in his right hand after pausing for a moment. He sighed to be re-seated and lowered his head, painfully and sadly.

...


...

The second person Ning Que met on the mountain road was a young monk.

The young monk, who was walking down rather than climbing up, was not so embarrassed as the young swordsman was. He was faintly smiling with his tattered robe flying in the wind, which revealed a sense of an immortal, while walking down from the mountain road.

At the foot of the mountain, Ning Que had already figured out that the young monk's state was quite high, and that he was equal to, if not better than, Prince Long Qing. It was obvious that the monk still had some strength left now, and Ning Que could not understand why this person would give up.

"You're not continuing?" Ning Que asked.

The young monk shook his head with a smile and said, "The mist isn't good, so I will give up."

Upon finishing these words, the young monk kept an eye on the blood leaving Ning Que's face and body. He then asked, with his brows slightly wrinkling and his smile fading away, "Why are you so embarrassed?"

"I'd also like to ask why you aren't embarrassed," Ning Que replied.

The young monk suddenly said, quietly looking at Ning Que, "I suddenly feel that you might threaten me in the future, and I'd like to get you killed before you become strong enough."

Ning Que shook his head, pointing to the end of the mountain road, and said, "There's the Academy, and here's the back mountain, you don't dare to kill me. Besides, thanks for telling me that. I'll try hard to kill you first if there is still a chance to meet you next time."

"Want to get the other one killed? Shall we tell each other our names?" The young monk smilingly said, "My name is Tao Enlightenment, from the Wilderness."

Ning laughed and replied, "I thought you were a monk from the Yuelun Kingdom. I still have a question that has bothered me for a long time, but it seems impossible to ask about it now."

Tao Enlightenment smiled and asked, "Your name?"

Ning Que tidied up his clothes, and solemnly said, greeting him with a bow with his hands folded in front, "I am from the Academy, Zhong Dajun."

...

...

Shortly after passing by the young monk, Ning Que encountered a third man on the mountain roadside, a young Academy student named Wang Ying, who had fallen into a coma.

Ning Que held a handful of water from the side of the road and poured it onto Wang Ying's face, then looked back down the road, thinking that the monk must have seen this unconscious lad, yet did not stay to do him a favor. So he really did have no compassion, then what he said about killing might be true.

Among six students from the course of magic skills, in addition to Xie Chengyun, only Linchuan Wang Ying still insisted on climbing on the road, but in the end, the lad could not hold up for too long. Ning Que took a glance at Wang Ying's flushed face, knowing that his fainting was caused by a frightened mind. Although he knew how to handle it, he really had no energy nor time to go picking herbs in the valley.

He stood up and shouted toward the foot of the mountain, "Where are the four porters?"

Following which, a noise of the vibration of clothes was heard in the woods, where the four deacons of the old library were running toward him carrying a simple stretcher. They took a look at Wang Ying, who was unconscious, and explained to Ning Que, "We were taking a rest just now, so we didn't discover him.

"In addition, we're deacons of the library, not porters." That person was seriously explaining it, but then screamed in great fear when he suddenly saw Ning Que's face. "How is it you again!"

Ning Que sourly replied, "I said that at the foot of the mountain."

They were all acquaintances, naturally skipping some explanations. One of the deacons patted on his chest looking at Ning Que, and said with fear, "Fortunately, mountaineering is a one-off deal. If you ascend the mountain as you went upstairs last year, you, a person alone, can wear us out?"

Ning Que laughed, and then blood gushed out from his lips, since his wound was affected.

"Bleeding," a deacon kindly reminded.

"Nothing serious." Ning Que obliviously rubbed the blood from his lower jaw and curiously continued. "How are you able to enter the mountain road?"

"We're not cultivators," the deacon explained.

Ning Que gave a whisper, thinking with regret that if he could not cultivate on this day last year, then was it easy to ascend this vast and tough mountain?

"Stop wishful thinking. A lot of trouble is still lying in front of you on the mountain road," the deacon reminded.

Ning Que laughed, pointing at Wang Ying. "That little child depends on you, I've to go now."

After finishing the last word, he waved to the four acquaintances who had witnessed his ascension, and continued to move forward again, putting his hands on his back and humming a ditty.

"Arrogant. Actually, isn't he also a child?" A steward shook his head and emotionally said, gazing at the figure at the top of the road, "The guy's unexpectedly able to cultivate, he doesn't know what kind of luck he has met."

One of the stewards said with a smile, "Thinking of his tragic situation where he tried to go upstairs every day last year, I considered that if a child like him, who can endure such hardship, cannot cultivate, then we can say Haotian is so unfair."

At this moment, Wang Ying awakened after a simple cure. He lay on the stretcher looking at that fuzzy figure, and then subconsciously rubbed his eyes, but he was still unable to believe what he saw after getting a better view.

Wang Ying murmured in shock, watching the disappearing figure, "Ning Que? How can this be? How did he come up here? He... he... why is he still humming?"

In front of the mountain road came a children's song about the frontier fortress that was arranged by Ning Que. His voice was very hoarse, but very powerful, with an obstinate sense of strength like that of life.

"I have a knife, yeah, cutting off all the grass on the mountains, ah...

I have two knives, yeah, cutting off the enemies' heads, ah...

I have three knives, yeah, cutting off all bad things, ah...

I hacked you with one knife, ah...

I hacked you with two knives, ah...

I hacked you with each knife, ah..."

Please report us if you find any errors so we can fix it asap!


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