Nightfall - Chapter 356

Published at 6th of August 2018 06:00:22 AM

Chapter 356: We Were Kids

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Under such a repressive and secluded atmosphere, even gazes seemed to have weight. Under the focus of so many eyes, the pen slowed down. Yu Lian, the female professor, glanced at the regular scripts on the paper and nodded. She put the pen on the delicate inkstone and then looked at her Younger Brothers and Junior Sisters, who looked at her with eager eyes.

She, the Academy Third Sister, really deserved the appreciation of the Headmaster of the Academy. Only with one sentence, she had settled the argument between the two Senior Brothers and directly made her judgment about their dispute.

"Both of you are wrong."

Looking at Eldest Brother and Second Brother, Yu Lian calmly said, "Neither the Calligraphy Addict nor that little maidservant is a good choice for Ning Que. Actually, there is no answer to the question. The most important thing between a couple is the feeling toward each other. No matter how persistent you are in your ideas, you still don't know the true feelings of Ning Que."

Second Brother frowned, saying, "Little Younger Brother is an orphan. He doesn't have a family nor relatives, so the back of the mountain of the Academy is his family. Of course, the Headmaster or we, his Senior Brothers and Senior Sisters, should be responsible for his matrimonial affair."

Yu Lian grinned, "That's why I said you were wrong."

"You don't understand him. Back then, I saw how he ascended the old library. In the process, he vomited blood and lost consciousness from time to time. He became thinner and more silent, so I know his temperament. Even if he was asked by the Headmaster to marry the daughter of Haotian, he would still refuse it, let alone a marriage appointed by the royal palace or a person that we want him to marry. If he agrees, it will be useless for anyone of us to oppose it."

She then turned to Eldest Brother and said peacefully, "One has to experience his own life, so it depends on his own choice. No matter which one he will choose, he should be responsible for the result, and he has to learn how to shoulder the responsibility. I believe the Headmaster will think the same way that I do."

Finishing her words, Yu Lian put away the calligraphy stationery and left the courtyard without saying goodbye. Her loose-fitting Academy robe drifted with the wind and she disappeared into the darkness.

During the unprecedented dispute between Eldest Brother and Second Brother, what Eldest Brother said was obscure, and what Second Brother indicated was ambiguous. Now, even what Senior Sister said was philosophical and profound. Actually, the three of them just felt something, which was totally baffling to the rest.

The two Senior Brothers fell in silence, and Younger Brothers and Junior Sisters left silently following Third Sister. Mu You, the Seventh Sister, glanced at the two with anxiety and then filled the teapot with hot water before she left.

The candlelight was fluttering and one could faintly hear the waterfall behind the courtyard falling into the pond. Then, Eldest Brother slowly stood up after a certain period, whose clear eyes were presently filled with exhaustion.

Second Brother stood up and bowed to him with respect.

Eldest Brother said, "It seems that we were wrong, but I still hold my opinion. In addition, I can't understand why Ning Que shouldn't choose Shanshan now that they love each other."

Thinking it over, Second Brother replied, "Because he can't forget Sangsang."

Suddenly, Eldest Brother thought of a possibility and said with a frown, "Would he marry both of them?"

Second Brother solemnly answered, "If he is so greedy, he will be punished by God. Although there is a big gap in the family background and status between the two girls, they are in no way those sort of vulgar girls and will not allow little Younger Brother to be so pleased."

Eldest Brother silently looked at him and suddenly asked, "Jun Mo, how much on earth do you foresee?"

After a moment of silence, Second Brother answered, "The day when Yan Se and Wei Guangming died, I saw something in an instant, yet didn't see it clearly. You mean you have foreseen the matter?"

Eldest Brother forced a smile and replied, "I'm afraid that even the Headmaster can't see it clearly, let alone you or me."

Second Brother frowned and said, "I don't know how much Yu Lian got."

"I'm afraid it's less than what you and I have gotten, because her focus is always on little Younger Brother."

Finishing his words, Eldest Brother sank in silence for a long time, pondering over something. Then he gently patted the shoulder of Second Brother and said, "Jun Mo, perhaps you are right. I simply don't have the heart to face the fact."

Second Brother was tall, so when he saw that Senior Brother wanted to pat his shoulder, he habitually leaned ahead to make it easier for Senior Brother to do so. But in this way, the ancient crown above his head had nearly hit the face of Eldest Brother.

They smiled at each other, with which all those negative feelings brought out by the previous dispute vanished.

Only the words "don't have the heart" were left echoing with the thunderous waterfall.



Ning Que had the least idea about the conference in the back of the mountain of the Academy focusing on his marriage, nor did he know that a fierce dispute had actually broken out between two Senior Brothers, who were so superior in spirit in his eyes. Recently, he had accompanied Shanshan to visit Chang'an, and together they appreciated great works in various calligraphy stores.

He had not had any relationships in either of his two lives, and he even had no close physical contact with somebody of the opposite gender. So he did not know whether he was in love with Mo Shanshan or not. After Shanshan said that she loved him that day, their relationship did not change. They treated each other as casually and calmly as they did before, and they had not even held hands. The only difference was, perhaps, the shyness that the girl occasionally showed when their shoulders touched.

It was exactly the shyness that had made up part of the pity that Ning Que felt in his understanding of love. When he and Shanshan toured around Chang'an City, he often recalled the maidservant beside him when they were around the bonfire at the entrance of Northern Mountain Road, and Situ Yilan, who strolled with him along the lake at the North of the Yan Kingdom. Then he understood that the reactions of the other person were actually the sources of his happiness.

It was a wonderful feeling, even if they did not have any close physical contact, or sweet words, or vows. So Ning Que was glad to accompany Shanshan. But, sometimes he felt empty when passing through the narrow alleys and the shadow of bare trees, or stepping on the melting snow beside the lake.

At dusk, they returned to Lin 47th Street. Under the locust tree at the entrance of the street, Ning Que invited Mo Shanshan again, "Come in, and have supper here."

Looking at the gate of the Old Brush Pen Shop a few paces off, Mo Shanshan softly answered, "Don't bother."

Ning Que asked puzzledly, "Why?"

With her eyes resting on the tips of her shoes, Mo Shanshan softly answered, "I'm already happy to have a chance to visit Chang'an together with you. I'm also happy to have appreciated calligraphy with you. And I'm happy that you said that you liked me that night."

Then she raised her head to see the inconspicuous dimple on his cheek. Her eyelashes fluttered, and unexpectedly she raised her hand to touch the dimple, saying with a smile, "But that's not enough."



Ning Que was still thinking over Mo Shanshan's words back in the Old Brush Pen Shop. It would be easier for him to solve mathematical questions or understand cultivation than to understand a girl's thoughts. So, he felt puzzled.

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"Young master, come to have your meal."

Sangsang scooped out two bowls of chicken soup from the small urn, and then asked, "Do you want some chopped shallots?"

Ning Que answered, "Your chicken soup is most delicious, so I want the original taste. Don't add any chopped shallots."

Previously, Sangsang would feel happy when praised by Ning Que. Although she might not necessarily smile, she would press the rice with the spoon when adding rice for him. But today, she just silently added rice for Ning Que as if she did not hear it at all. Then, she silently sat down on the opposite side of the table and picked up her chopsticks.

Her expression suddenly reminded Ning Que of his elusive behavior these days. Then he smiled and explained, "That night I have told you that those shameless Senior Brothers and Sisters on the back of the mountain made me a hatchet man in Chang'an, in case someone comes to challenge the Academy."

Sangsang softly answered and then continued eating.

After drinking the soup, Ning Que added two scoops of soup on his rice and then made a clean sweep of it.

All was silent beside the table.

Suddenly, Ning Que raised his head, looked at Sangsang on the opposite side and asked, "Since your childhood, we have discussed what kind of sister-in-law I should find for you."

Sangsang put her bowl on the table lightly and looked over and corrected him, "That's young mistress."

"That kind of appellation was used after we left the City of Wei."

Ning Que burst into laughter at the thought of their past experiences of going to the House of Red Sleeves to select girls together with Sangsang. Then, he finally understood why he felt empty these days. It was because he had not asked for somebody's advice, or reported to somebody, or perhaps he wanted to hear something that could please him.

He looked at Sangsang and seriously asked, "What do you think of Mo Shanshan?"

Sangsang earnestly looked into his eyes, and after a long time, she raised her bowl again and answered, "Good."

Looking at the little girl who almost buried her face in the rice, Ning Que asked curiously, "Very good?"

Sangsang raised her face from the bowl and said, "Very good."

Watching her crystal eyes, her soft yellowish hair, her little darkish face and the rice pasted on her cheeks, Ning Que sank into silence for a long time and then smiled without saying anything.

"Nothing, I was just asking."

He reached out his hand to take the rice off Sangsang's face and deftly threw it into his own mouth. Then, he continued with his meal in somewhat low spirits. He silently lamented to himself, "Anyway, Sangsang is still a child."

After supper, Sangsang was occupied with boiling water and washing dishes as usual, while Ning Que was busy writing his talisman. When he felt tired, he would write some sections to refresh himself. Late at night, he would bathe his feet in hot water and then go to bed.

Winter had gone, but spring had not yet come. The temperature at night in Chang'an was still low. On their heatable brick bed, the two of them slept with their face facing the other's feet, just as they had previously.

Sangsang's little feet were washed clean and were held in Ning Que's arms. Touching the smooth, tender and skin of her jade-white feet, Ning Que felt at ease. He suddenly kissed her feet, and then closed his eyes, falling into sweet dreams.

It seemed to be the simple repetition of their nightly interactions over the past 15 years, but actually, Sangsang was sleepless.

She silently gazed at the ceiling pasted with abandoned Fu paper with her bright eyes, as if she had seen the cliff wall in the cave of Min Mountain and the adobe wall in their courtyard of the City of Wei.

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