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Nightfall - Chapter 343

Published at 31st of July 2018 12:00:13 AM


Chapter 343: Pride of the Academy

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The Big Black Horse lowered its head and ate grass. The dried grass in the middle of winter was tasteless and bitter like the bark of trees. It spat it out painfully and looked at the two new graves in the meadow and the little handmaiden. It thought to itself, that between the two who might one day become his mistress, the one who bathed him in the Wilderness was better. This one was dark and skinny, and wasn't pretty. That one was fair and pretty and had gentle hands.




As it thought about random things, it walked towards outside the meadow. Its body stiffened suddenly when it looked at the dark horse carriage. How could there be such a heavy horse carriage in this world? After he had been "selected" by Ning Que that autumn in the meadow, his life had gotten more and more terrible. Could it be that it would be so for the rest of his life?

Sangsang brushed off the dust on her knees before the new grave. Then, she walked up to Ning Que and cleaned him up. It was then, when snow started falling.

The was a sudden popping sound, and the big black umbrella opened above their heads, blocking the sky and the snow that fell from it. The two held the umbrella over their heads and walked towards the horse carriage outside the meadow.

Under the big black umbrella, Sangsang said softly, "Young master, there is something I have to tell you."

"Do not worry." Ning Que thought of something and held out a box. "I spent half a month in Tuyang City, trying to find a gift just for you. Do you like it?"

In actuality, he had bought the box from a shop before he left Tuyang City. He had not spent half a month or searched for the gift just for her. However, his expression was solemn and one could not see any trace of lying in it.

Sangsang took the box curiously. There was an adorable clay tiger crouching in a funny manner. Sangsang laughed when she saw it and said, "I like it, it looks good."

Ning Que said shamelessly, "Exactly, think of how much effort I had spent on it."

Sangsang closed the box and asked, "Who's the pretty lady in white?"

The question sounded too natural, which made it seem sudden.

Ning Que was startled, and then he smiled and said, "She's called Mo Shanshan, she's from the Great River Kingdom...."

...





...

It was very quiet at night on the Lin 47th Street. Other than the sound of crackling fire in each household and the brushing of withered leaves meeting the snowy ground, there was also the sound of the Big Black Horse smacking his lips.

Ning Que leaned against the stove after a refreshing bath. He took out a failed Fire Fu and crumbled it in his fingers. Then, he rubbed it evenly on his head. It took mere seconds for the warmth on the paper to dry his wet hair, making it smooth and tamed.

"Let's prepare for bed." He wriggled into the warm and toasty blankets, feeling the warmth from the stove. Then, he suddenly realized that Sangsang was kneeling on the other bed and arranging her blankets. He asked oddly, "Why are you not coming here?"

Sangsang spread out the blankets and removed her outer robes, folding it neatly and placing it by her pillow. She said, "I'm already old enough, we should sleep separately."

Ning Que paused and realized that there was indeed truth in her words. However, he still felt a little odd. After thinking about it for a moment, he extended a hand and flicked his finger. The candlelight on the table extinguished accordingly.

"Let's sleep then."

All were silent in the room. After a while, there was a sudden rustling. Then, his blankets were lifted off him and a tiny cold body wriggled and leaned onto his chest.

Ning Que hugged her and patted her on her back with his palms, just like how he used to coax her to sleep as a child. He felt the girl's body against his chest and inhaled the scent of her hair and sighed, "This is much more comfortable."

Sangsang nudged her head into his chest and searched for the most familiar and comfortable position. She hummed in agreement.

After some time, she suddenly opened her eyes, lifted her head, and looked at Ning Que, "I really have something to say."

Ning Que lowered his head and looked at her. After a pause, he said, "I really have something urgent to tell you too."


He did not reignite the candle. Instead, he found a heavy piece of silver by the starlight shining through the window and had Sangsang concentrate on it.

Ning Que used his psyche and moved the Great Spirit from his body into his hands. He shaped the silver into a metal rod, and then, he fiddled with it again, and the metal rod became very sharp within seconds.

Sangsang knelt on the stove with a blanket draped over her. She asked puzzledly, "When did you learn magic?"

Ning Que stabbed his arm with the sharp metal rod. The sharp edge of the rod pierced down deeply, leaving only a shallow white scar and not a drop of blood.

Sangsang was shocked. She poked his arm with her fingers and said, "It's so hard?"

"I learned the Great Spirit that Youngest Uncle left behind. My body had changed because of it. This Great Spirit is just absorbing the primordial Qi from heaven and earth and then keeping it in one's body."

Ning Que looked at her eyes that reflected the starlight. After a moment of silence, he continued. "In other words, I am cultivating the Devil's Doctrine. To the world, I am a descendant of the Devil's Doctrine."

It did not matter to Sangsang even if he was the son of Yama, not to say the descendant of the Devil's Doctrine. Would her young master not be her young master after cultivating the Devil's Doctrine? Sangsang paused for a moment and thought of an important question, asking, "So... what teacher had said might be true. You are the son of Yama."

"That's ludicrous." Ning Que kneaded the silver piece into a ball and covered them with a blanket. He continued, "Do not mention about ludicrous things like that. I want to eat noodles with fried eggs tomorrow."

Sangsang answered gruffly in the blankets, "Alright."

...

...


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Ning Que headed to the Academy the next morning after eating noodles with fried eggs with extra scallions, pepper, and egg. He boarded the horse carriage that Master Yan Se had bequeathed him. He had already paid to get rid of the one he had owned previously.

The horse carriage traveled through the meadows that glowed yellow in the winter sun. Upon arriving at the stone doors of the Academy, Ning Que leaped off the horse carriage and unshackled the big black horse, allowing it to roam freely. He carried his bags on his back and entered the Academy, seeking for what the instructor had instructed them about practicing at the frontier fortress.

Then he carried his heavy bags and walked past houses and through the narrow alley. He came to the edge of a wetland and looked at the listless fish swimming beneath the thin ice and at the dense forest afar that looked like swords. He had arrived at the old library.

The sights were familiar and held many good memories for him. Even though he had only been gone for half a year, he still missed it very much. The more he missed Chang'an, the less he trusted the City of Wei. He lifted his head to look at the old library and saw that the eastern windows were open as usual. Ning Que suddenly understood something, that the place he missed the most was home.

He crossed through the fog that enveloped the mountains and waved the last wisps of fog away with his right hand gently. He had arrived at the large platform on the mountainside. He looked at the green grass and trees that did not belong to the current season and at the silver waterfall in the distance. He could not help shouting loudly, "I'm back!"

His shout reverberated in the empty back of the mountain of the Academy. After a long time, he did not receive any reply, and neither did his Senior Brothers and Sisters come to welcome him excitedly.

Ning Que could not help feeling a little embarrassed. He walked down the mountain path and towards the mirror lake. The expression on his face became happier, and more lively. Even though his Senior Brothers and Sisters did not appear, he had heard someone playing music and singing in the forest. There were sounds of chess pieces landing on the board and the pounding of hoe digging into the ground.

There was a waterwheel by the creek, and the sound of metalworking rang in the house before the waterwheel. The monotonous and dry sounds have never stopped. Ning Que was slightly stunned for a moment. Then, he heaved the bags on his shoulders and walked even faster.

However, someone stopped him.

He looked towards where the voice came from and saw that the pavilion in the middle of the lake that had been collapsed by the first Primordial Thirteen Arrows had already been repaired. Seventh Sister looked at him smilingly and waved in greeting. Moments later, the solemn Second Brother and his funny crown walked out slowly.

"Your performance during the practice was not bad."

Second Brother stood by the lake with his hands behind his back. He looked at the view before him and said that in a calm tone.


At the back of the mountain of the Academy, getting the praise of Second Brother was harder than getting it from the Headmaster of the Academy or Eldest Brother. Ning Que could not help feeling surprised by the show of affection and did not know what to say.

"It's nothing killing Long Qing. Your Senior Brothers and Sisters had spent much effort making those Primordial Thirteen Arrows for you to kill that guy, so it is a given that you have done so, so you don't deserve the praise."

Second Brother turned to look at him with a rare expression of approval on his face. He said, "But killing Gu Xi in Tuyang City... you have done well. You did not care that you were in Xia Hou's city, and that it was the main camp of the Northeast Border Military, and you killed him with due reason. You have to know, that we disciples of the Academy care a lot about being reasonable."

Ning Que had killed military advisor Gu Xi in Tuyang City largely because of the Great Spirit in his body. He thought that he was really crazy after the matter and was worried that Eldest Brother would teach him a lesson on the way back to Chang'an. He did not expect that Second Brother would hold such views.

As if he had guessed what Ning Que was thinking, Second Brother said after a moment of silence, "I have always respected Eldest Brother, but what I respect, is his practice, his state of heart and morality. As for the way he deals with things and how he believes in forgiveness, I do not agree with them. If we really do good to those who do us a bad turn, what shall we do in return to those who do us good?"

Ning Que thought about it seriously. "What do we do to those who do bad to us?"

Second Brother replied, "We do a bad turn to them, of course."

Ning Que praised him, "Senior Brother, what you have just said is great. There is great meaning in simple words."

Second Brother looked at him and said, "This was what teacher taught us back then, so you are praising the wrong person."

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