Nightfall - Chapter 254

Published at 16th of June 2018 06:15:05 AM

Chapter 254: A Lake in the Valley

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The steep cliff rose abruptly and the wild grass between the cracks of the cliff was smashed into a green line that swiftly disappeared. As the cold air slapped against her cheeks, Mo Shanshan used her left hand to tightly clutch Ning Que's waistband. She neither felt afraid nor screamed because she believed that Ning Que would never commit suicide.

"Peng!" The big black umbrella opened in the air. Their bodies jerked, and the speed at which they fell slowed down. They drifted along with the wind and away from the cliff, toward a broad-leaved forest not far away from them.

Mo Shanshan narrowed her eyes due to the wind. She raised up her head to see that umbrella, which blocked the snow. Even though it had been battered by the fierce wind, it only had slight deformations. There were no traces of it tearing at all. Because it was so solid, she could not help wondering what material on earth this umbrella was made from.

Ning Que gripped its handle tightly with his right hand as hard as iron. He held Mo Shanshan's waist with his left hand and his eyes focused on the ground, which was getting closer and closer. He was in no mood to feel the warmth from Mo Shanshan's skin. He had hugged little girls and jumped down from cliffs many times, so he knew that even though the umbrella was solid, the umbrella cover was not big, so it would be uncomfortable when they landed on the ground.

When they were 10 feet away from the ground, a faint but pure light came out from Mo Shanshan's finger. All of sudden, the air became thicker, and the falling speed was slowed down for the second time.

Ning Que knew that Mo Shanshan had done something. So he stopped his talisman preparations and held onto her waist tightly.

A dull, thumping sound was heard as he bent his legs and fell to the ground. His muscles and skeleton first became tight and then loosened the moment that he landed, successfully absorbing most of the impact. Yet it seemed that the girl in his arm had sensed nothing.

Ning Que released his hand and nodded at her to show his appreciation.

Mo Shanshan shook her head in reply and calmly left his arm.

The forest floor was carpeted with fallen leaves and it was soft to step on. No one knew how many years these leaves had been accumulating, but it was weird that there was no rotten smell.

Although this was a broad-leaved forest, these trees had just begun to sprout and could not keep off the sporadic snow that fell from the snow cliff, making them appear to have green constellation patterns among the snow.

They walked into the green forest and disappeared from sight for a moment.



They continued to walk and had gradually moved farther away from the snow cliff. No more snow landed there from the world outside of the mountain. The sky above the valley was still gray and, compared with the forest dotted with green, it was much more desolate here.

Maybe because of the pressure from the oath, or because Prince Long Qing had talked about Sangsang, who was far away in Chang'an City, Ning Que became very quiet after entering the forest. He was not as active as usual and just kept walking in silence.

Mo Shanshan was silent also. Watching his back, she thought about the conversation that had happened earlier on the snow cliff. She thought about that little handmaiden whom Ning Que tried to protect, even against his original intention, and thought about that oath, which, although not bloody, was cruel. She became dejected, then worried. No sound was made as she stepped on the leaves and she did not speak either.

When looking down from the snow cliff, this green valley was not large at all. But when they came here in person, they found that the valley was very deep even though it did not appear to be. They walked for a long time without any conversation, yet they still had not reached the end of the valley.

This place was far away from the snow cliff. So there was no need to worry that they would be heard or chased. Staring at that big black umbrella behind Ning Que's back, Mo Shanshan could no longer bear the curiosity within her. She asked, "Why didn't you fight?"

Ning Que stopped and turned back to ask, "Why should I fight?"

Looking into his eyes, Mo Shanshan said in a serious tone, "You taught me how to fight before in the carriage. At that time, you said that when two tigers meet, the most important thing to remember is... only the bravest one can win."

After being silent for a moment, Ning Que replied, "In front of Long Qing, I am not even a tiger."

Mo Shanshan looked at the silk bag hanging on his wrist and said, "With a Divine Talisman in hand, even a kid could be as powerful as a tiger."

Ning Que shook his head and said, "Shifu had put in much effort to write this Divine Talisman that can be used by a person in the No Doubts State. As a disciple, I shouldn't use it at just anytime. Besides, you and I both study Talisman Taoism, and we should clearly know that because I didn't make this Fu, it's hard to let it reveal its real power. I didn't have the confidence to hurt Long Qing with it."

Mo Shanshan raised her head slightly and said in a serious tone, "You have me."

Ning Que said sincerely, "Thanks. But after all, this is between me and Long Qing. So it would be unreasonable to let you take the risk. What's more, you came here under the edict of the Divine Hall, and I would never let the relationship between you and the Divine Hall get worse because of me."

He looked toward the forest and at the cliff that he could barely see. Ning Que said, "We all came here to get the Tomes of Arcane, so I will still run into him in the end. He wants to drive me to desperation, likewise, I want to do the same to him. Things would be easier if I could get rid of him first."

Mo Shanshan slightly frowned and said, "Prince Long Qing is not a person that can be gotten rid of easily."

Ning Que explained, "He wasn't easy to get rid of before, but now, we have a bet. The situation is totally different. As long as I break the realm first, he will naturally be gotten rid of."

He spoke slowly and in a peaceful tone as if he was saying something that would surely happen.

Mo Shanshan looked at him, suddenly realizing that he had never thought that he would lose the bet. Even if he should win, did he consider what he would do if Long Qing went back on his words? Even though that prince devoutly believed in Haotian, if he needed to destroy his practice and leave the Divine Hall, even an oath sworn in Haotian's name would not be binding.

She asked, "What if you lose this bet?"

Ning Que simply answered, "I won't."

Mo Shanshan continued to ask, "I said if..."

Ning Que was slightly startled and said, "If I lose, so be it. I have suffered so much to clear my acupoints, am I that stupid to follow that oath and make myself an invalid?"

Mo Shanshan could not believe what she heard, and asked, "What about the master's reputation?"

Thinking about that powerful Psyche Master called Lin Ling, who came from the Tang army of the palace and died with regret, Ning Que revealed a smile on his face.

"I haven't seen my teacher yet. But according to my Senior Sisters and Brothers, I think that he might not care about it. On the contrary, if I lose this bet and really turn myself into an invalid and leave the Academy, he might be furious about how he could have such a stupid student."

Mo Shanshan still could not understand his words.

Ning Que explained, "What I mean is that the Headmaster of the Academy doesn't care about his reputation, either."

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"What if Prince Long Qing doesn't fulfill his promise when he loses?"

"If I breakthrough a state first, he has no choice but to fulfill his promise."

"It would be a big challenge to break through two states at once. Even though you have entered the Seethrough State successfully, you are still at a lower level, how can you breakthrough two states and win this? No matter how good you are at fighting, the disparity in skill between you and Long Qing is still large."

Staring at her, Ning Que suddenly ask seriously, "If a person is disturbed during a crucial time when he is trying to break the realm, what would happen to him?"

Mo Shanshan could not figure out why he would care about this. But after thinking for a while, she answered, "It depends on what kind of disturbance it is."

Ning Que replied, "The largest one."

Mo Shanshan said, "At that time, the person who is trying to break the realm would be terribly hurt, and he may not be able to break that realm for the rest of his life."

Ning Que nodded and said, "That couldn't be better."

After that, they were silent again.



It seemed as if they were walking aimlessly. In fact, Ning Que had always been walking in a specific direction. That strong and arrogant aura was like a lamp in the Heaven and Earth that directed him to cross green forests, through a wetland, and take a mountain path which was muddy, rough, and covered by moist fog. At last, they arrived in front of a lake.

This lake was not big, covering an area of a thousand feet. Its shoreline was winding and its water was calm. Nobody knew how many years this lake had existed among this fantastic valley because no trace left by human beings could be found here.

Compared with that snow peak of Tianqi Mountain, the verdant valley was warm. But in fact, the valley was still cold, as cold as the winter in Chang'an. Some thin ice was frozen along the lake's shoreline and was spread everywhere when the water swelled, and then the water would be frozen on another peaceful surface.

No human traces could be found here. It seemed that this lake was a natural lake in the valley, but Ning Que did not think so. A familiar aura came right from the depths of the lake. Ning Que stood by the bank of the lake in silence, staring at the lake for a long time. Through its transparent water, he saw white sand and round stones lying under the water, yet he found nothing strange.

Mo Shanshan could not sense the strong aura. But she did sense that something else existed here. She walked beside Ning Que, looked at the swimming fish, and said softly, "This lake is a big tactical array. But it is weird that the lake itself is an array eye, which goes against the rules of a tactical array."

Ning Que stayed silent before saying, "The tactical array of an Unknown Place definitely differs from other tactical arrays."

"You mean this lake is the Front Gate of Devil's Doctrine?"

Looking at the snow peak reflected in the lake, she suddenly remembered something recorded in the codes, and then said in a quaking voice, "It's been recorded in the codes that there is a lake at the Front Gate of Devil's Doctrine. Is this that lake?"

Ning Que answered, "It must be this one."

Mo Shanshan looked at this ordinary lake and could not believe that they had found the Front Gate of Devil's Doctrine so easily. She said, "I never thought in all my life that I would see the remains of the Front Gate of Devil's Doctrine in person."

If other cultivators saw the Front Gate in person and saw the Unknown Place that all the people talked about, they would be thrilled. They might even crazily jump into the lake.

If Ning Que had seen this lake at another time, he would have been thrilled, too. But right now, he was very calm. Because whether the "Ming" Handscroll of the Tomes of Arcane was hidden under the lake or the remains of that predecessor, all of that had nothing to do with him.

He suddenly asked, "Does this lake have a name? Is it mentioned in the codes of Divine Hall?"

Mo Shanshan asked, "Why do you care about that?"

Ning Que looked at her and answered with a smile, "Because in the future, the history books will record that the 13th student, named Ning Que, from the Second Floor of the Academy broke a realm at this lake, so how can this lake not have a name? It doesn't sound good if we call it the Unknown Lake or a Lake Without a Name."

Mo Shanshan let out a sigh, thinking that breaking a realm was tough and enigmatic and it would not be easy to achieve. He was too arrogant. She reluctantly said, "The Devil's Doctrine called themselves the Enlightenment Doctrine, so they called this lake Daming Lake.

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