Nightfall - Chapter 333

Published at 26th of July 2018 12:05:10 AM

Chapter 333: The Future in Your Hands

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Mr. Qi was very surprised and confused. He could not understand why a sharp pain had appeared in his right wrist that was holding the knife when the blade appeared. It was a burning pain that was clear and uncontrollable, which was why he was not able to clear a path through his heart. What puzzled him more, was how the blankets in Sangsang's arms had appeared in the narrow gap between his chest and the knife.

He was so stunned by the questions, that he had forgotten to stop the local government runners from the Chang'an Local Government from taking Sangsang away. It wasn't until they had left the Lin 47th Street did he come out of the daze. He touched his shaven head somewhat irritatedly and swore before sitting down on the stone steps before the Old Brush Pen Shop.

"Mr. Qi, please look after the things beneath the bed and the two urns in the courtyard. Don't lose them."

That was what Sangsang had said before she left. He had decided to sit on the stone steps until Sangsang returned. He would eat, drink, defecate and sleep here. He would not leave the shop.



There was a light snowfall in Chang'an City on the first day of the 15th year of Tianqi era.

Snowflakes descended slowly onto the ground. Some landed between branches and stayed as snow, and some in the cracks between the stone pavements and retained its structure. However, those that landed on the thin shoulders dressed in thin clothes melted immediately.

Sangsang looked down at the water stains on her shoulders and heaved the heavy blankets in her arms. It was a little tiring, but she did not want to place the blankets at her feet. It wouldn't be good if it was soiled by the snow.

The Chang'an Local Government was silent. There wasn't an attending who came to attend to her, and there wasn't an official who had asked his subordinate to ask about the case. Officials and local government runners were all hiding in their respective rooms and refused to pass by the courtyard entrance. They would rather take the longer path even if they had to use the bathroom urgently.

In fact, the officials had not even allowed her to enter the court previously. They had had her wait at the steps of the building. However, the thin handmaiden standing in the snow outside the yamen had attracted the attention of several passersby.

The citizens of Chang'an were most courageous and dared to scold even the emperor and prime minister, much less the Chang'an Local Government. There were many ugly things said outside the government building, and there were many snowballs thrown on the black doors of the Chang'an Local Government.

The officials were forced to let Sangsang enter the Chang'an Local Government, but still refused to ask questions and only had her stand before the entrance to the courtyard.

The slender and tiny little handmaiden standing in the snow with blankets in her arms looked very lonely and pitiful.

Wang Jinglue watched her from the side. He thought of how Mr. Qi had pulled out a knife and tried to kill himself and felt that was really odd. Could it be that the little handmaiden was secretly a powerhouse? But there were no changes in the Qi of Heaven and Earth in the street then. He smiled emptily after ruminating on it. He thought that he must be thinking too much since the little handmaiden had a certain relationship with the Academy.

Xu Shi, the Defender-general of the State had been the one who ordered for the little handmaiden to be captured from the Old Brush Pen Shop and brought for interrogation about her relationship with the Great Divine Priest of Light to protect the empire. However, the crime of harboring fugitives should be dealt with by the Judicial Department. It was stated clearly in the law of Tang Empire that the military was not allowed to interfere with cases that belonged to them. That was why the Military Ministry had wanted the Chang'an Local Government to act and then, send her to the Military Ministry on treason charges.

Wang Jinglue had already sent the name card and letter written by Defender-general of the State into the depths of the Chang'an Local Government. He only had to wait for the prefectural magistrate to speak and satisfy the requirements of the law of the Tang Empire before he could take Sangsang away.

However, the illness of official Yang Yu of the prefectural magistrate of Chang'an City seemed to have exacerbated.

The attendant looked at Wang Jinglue with a troubled look. He said, "The official has been running a fever since noon yesterday. He slipped into a coma in the evening and had not drunk anything since then. There were two doctors who came from the Imperial Academy of Medicine, and they have not managed to cure him."

Wang Jinglue looked at the man with disgust. He thought, if that man had wanted to feign illness, not even the divine pill of West-Hill Divine Palace could make him leave his bed, much less the imperial doctors from the Imperial Academy of Medicine.

"When can the prefectural magistrate settle this?"

"Actually... according to your humble servant, if the Military Ministry wants to ask the little handmaiden anything, they don't have to bring her to the Military Ministry. To be honest, no one in the Chang'an Local Government would dare to take responsibility for this. You can question her here."

"Harboring a fugitive... The laws of the Tang Empire do not state that the Military Ministry is allowed to ask about that."

"You can ask her privately. It wouldn't matter since it isn't an official questioning in the Yamen."

Wang Jinglue waved the attendant away. After considering the suggestion for a moment, he walked to the courtyard slowly. He looked at the little handmaiden who stood in the snow, and at the snow in her yellow hair, and asked with slightly furrowed brows, "Are you cold?"

Sangsang hugged the thick blankets. She was not cold, and so, she shook her head.

Wang Jinglue took out a few documents from his clothes and put them on the blankets that Sangsang held. He flipped it open and pointed at the words on them and introduced himself. "I am Wang Jinglue, from the Mountain DargonTiger cultivation sect. I am registered with the Imperial Center Administration of Tang and work with the Military Ministry. I am authorized to question you according to the laws of the Tang Empire."

Defender-general of the State, Xu Shi, was no doubt the most powerful man in the Military Ministry of the Tang Empire. They had to complete all the necessary procedures even if it was such a powerful figure questioning a little handmaiden. It wasn't because of the backing that the little handmaiden had in the form of the Academy, but because he wanted to show that he respected the laws of the Tang Empire, and prove it to the Academy.

Wang Jinglue had followed Xu Shi into battle in the southern frontiers for a long time. He knew the old general's tough attitude well and knew that the general need not worry about the Academy's reaction due to the Tang Empire's fair play policy and his unique status in the military.

"That old man was involved in that bloodshed in Chang'an City more than a decade ago. The West-Hill Divine Palace accused him of betraying Haotian and everyone in the world searched for him. However, he had lived with you for many days in the Old Brush Pen Shop. I'd like to ask you..."

Wang Jinglue paused for a moment before he stopped the questioning. Sangsang had laid her head on the thick blankets and had no intention of listening to his questions, much less answering them.

He asked in annoyance, "You are just a maidservant. Do not pin your hopes on your young master, or that the Academy would speak up for you. I do not wish to make things difficult for you. You just have to tell me about your relationship with the old man."

Sangsang lifted her head and looked at him. She said, "I can't say."

Wang Jinglue asked in surprise, "Why?"

Sangsang said, "Young master warned me when I was young that I shouldn't answer questions from strangers."

Wang Jinglue didn't know what to say.

It was then, when a calm but stern voice rang out in the courtyard.

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"Young lady, there are some questions that you have to answer."

A yellow oiled-paper umbrella with snowflakes on it had appeared in the Chang'an Local Government.

The person who had spoken was not the Taoist under the umbrella, but an official in military robes beside him.

Wang Jinglue frowned slightly. He had not gotten to know much about the powerhouses of the imperial court when he was a visiting professor at the Prince's Mansion which was why he had not managed to guess Master Yan Se's identity that night in the rain. Now that he was a member of the imperial court and knew about many more things, he could easily recognize the two.

The official in military robes was the highest ranking official, Zhuge Wuren, of the Imperial Center Administration of Tang. The Taoist holding the yellow oiled-paper umbrella was the disciple of Nation Master Li Qingshan, He Mingchi. The two men had appeared at the same time, representing the cultivators of the imperial court.

Wang Jinglue did not expect that there were others who were interested in the tanned and skinny maidservant other than the esteemed general Xu Shi, whose temperament was odd. Did they not know who the owner of the Old Brush Pen Shop was?

Zhuge Wuren nodded at Wang Jinglue politely and said, "I do not know which case the Military Ministry is investigating that they need to question this girl, but we do have some urgent matters to ask her."

The Imperial Center Administration of Tang governed all matters related to cultivators and have always worked closely with the military and South School of Haotian Taoism. Zhuge Wuren, who was in charge, had always been secretive. It was rumored that he was not a cultivator at all.

Wang Jinglue had not sensed any aura, but grew even more vigilant. An official who did not cultivate but was able to control all the strong cultivators in the imperial court and military was an impressive man.

He Mingchi kept his umbrella and explained to Wang Jinglue softly, "Mr. Zhuge and I went to Lin 47th Street only to find that the little maidservant had been brought to the Chang'an Local Government by Mr. Wang. That was why we came."

Wang Jinglue said, "I wonder what Mr. Zhuge would like to ask."

Zhuge Wuren said coldly, "It is naturally a question that you can't hear."

After a moment of silence, Wang Jinglue laughed self-mockingly. He put his hands behind his back and walked out of the courtyard slowly. He said, "Better hurry up."



There was a whoosh and the yellow oiled-paper umbrella in He Mingchi's hands opened once more. An aura settled over the courtyard of the Chang'an Local Government and the sounds of the world around it grew muffled with the opening of the umbrella.

Sangsang looked up at the yellow oiled-paper umbrella curiously. She must have thought of her big black umbrella.

He Mingchi thought that the little maidservant was worried, and smiled warmly. He explained, "It is just for soundproofing and would not cause you harm. Mr. Zhuge has something important to ask you, you just have to answer honestly."

Zhuge Wuren stared into Sangsang's eyes and said in a surly tone, "Only you were present on that mountain when Master Yan Se and the Great Divine Priest of Light died. My question is, did Master Yan Se leave anything behind?"

The official's tone was cold and He Mingchi could not help but frown. He might think that Younger Brother Ning Que was after all a visiting professor of the Imperial Center Administration, why did he have to be so stern with his handmaiden?

Sangsang looked at the official and said seriously after a moment of silence. "Master Yan Se left that horse carriage for my young master."

Zhuge Wuren yelled at her with hatred and annoyance. "You know that's not what I was asking."

Sangsang was not frightened by him at all and answered very seriously. "No matter whether it is the horse carriage or anything else, they are for my young master. What has it to do with you?"

Zhuge Wuren breathed in deeply and said coldly, "Some things are too important that not even the person it is bequeathed to can keep it. Those things would affect the future of the Tang Empire."

He Mingchi did not speak as he held the umbrella. He did not agree with the Imperial Center Administration, but had to admit that Mr. Zhuge was very right. In Chang'an, a big tactical array had been protecting the Tang Empire for thousands of years. Its array eye must not end up in the secular world, in the hands of a little tanned and skinny handmaiden.

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