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Nightfall - Chapter 368

Published at 12th of August 2018 06:00:24 AM


Chapter 368: Chronicles of the Building of Pines and Cranes (Pa

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Ning Que sneered at his words, and as a disciple of the Second floor of the Academy and enjoying equal popularity with Chen Pipi, he was becoming more and more determined that he was a genius.




Because he was tall, the old man had been sitting in the chair with increasing discomfort, but he finally found a comfortable position after several changes in posture. Half-leaning on the back of the chair, he held his lower jaw and looked at Ning Que and asked, "Kill someone when you're unhappy? Have you killed someone before?"

Ning Que put the empty urn made from spring clay beside his feet and replied, "I won't tell you how many people I've killed because it is against the law of the Tang Empire, but you can just think about it."

The old man shook his urn, which was already empty, and then muttered a few words, asking the manager downstairs to bring another two urns. Then he stared at Ning Que and asked, "Why do you want to kill people?"

After silently thinking for a while, Ning Que shook his head and answered, "Though I'm about to get drunk and you're already drunk, I still can't tell you about this."

The manager trotted up to the veranda and put two urns of wine beside the old man with respect. He then bowed to him and backed off, without even uttering one more word, let alone did he urge him to settle the account.

He had no idea who this old man was, nor did the Big Owner of the Building of Pines and Cranes, a high official of the imperial court, know anything about him. It was merely that the Building of Pines and Cranes had been keeping a portrait for years and following a simple rule.

The rule was that if there was an old man with an appearance like the one in the portrait that came to the Building of Pines and Cranes, every worker there should respect the old man like an ancestor. They should meanwhile leave him alone as if they were treating a personal enemy, for fear that the old man would become bothered and unhappy.

There would be no harm to the Building of Pines and Cranes even if he was not the old man in the portrait. They would only lose some taels of silver or have some face loss. However, if the real ancestor were to come and receive inattentive treatment, then how could the Building of Pines and Cranes continue to stay in Chang'an any longer?

The old man swatted open the spring clay urn, then joyfully had a drink and said, "When I was the same age as you, I also desired to kill people."

Ning Que looked at his face and was not sure about the old man's age. But it seemed that he was quite old, so how many years ago was he referring to?

"Who did you want to kill back then?" Ning Que asked curiously.

The old man put the urn on the small table beside the chair, looked at the bare winter branches in front of the veranda, and said, "My mother was the third concubine of my father. When my father died three years after my birth, my mother and I were not accommodated by the clan. So my mother took me away from the old house and wandered from place to place. We had a hard time and suffered a lot of humiliation."

"So, once I got the ability to kill, the first thing I wanted to do was to go back to my hometown and kill all the old biddies and relatives who had bullied me and my mother. Then I would go back to dig up my father's grave and turn his remains into ashes."





The old man was talking about the most sinister things like killing, arson, and family extermination, but he showed a calm and gentle expression. He was now more like a naughty child lying down on a haystack than an aged man who had gone through the vicissitudes of life, telling tales of the bygone days from long ago with a childlike face.

Ning Que stared at the old man, and then frowned and asked him, "So, did you kill them then?"

With his slender index finger, the old man lightly knocked the clay urn on the table. It made a clear and vigorous sound, which was just like a memorial tablet falling from a sequestered ancestral hall in an old house that had undergone a hundred generations.

He looked at Ning Que and said with a smile, "I won't tell you."

Ning Que was speechless and wondered about his stinginess and small-mindedness.

"The man that I want to kill... he has murdered a lot of innocent men. Of course, I am not a Sage. The man ruined the most beautiful part of my life and killed my beloved parents. I swore to get revenge out of a personal grudge just like you had done in the old days. The only difference between us is that the men in your clan were relatively easy to kill."

After a while of silence, he continued, "While the man that I want to kill is powerful, with not only a high position, but also a background that is difficult for even me to handle."

The old man stared at him, then frowned and said, "I imagine that you are also a big shot."

Ning Que smiled and replied, "You have truly gone through the mortal world and known countless people with your insightful observations. To be honest with you, I am a decent man, because my teacher is a prominent figure."

The old man said sullenly, "You're talking nonsense. Your teacher, of course... even if he is prominent, that's nothing to do with you."

Ning Que ignored him and continued, "I'm now evenly matched with the big shot whom I want to kill."

The old man sneered, "Then what are you still depressed about? You can just seek the opportunity to kill him."

Ning Que fell into silence for quite a long time and had a helpless expression on his face. Then he sighed and said, "But my position comes from my teacher, who is actually very rigid. In appearance, he would like to see his disciples stay flexible, yet he is very rational and always says to us that the law of the Tang Empire shall prevail. So, what do you think? Contradictory, right?"


Hearing these words, the old man got embarrassed and reprimanded him. "Nonsense, does stay flexible have anything to do with the law of the Tang Empire? Can't you kill without using dishonest methods?"

Ning Que did not notice the expression of the old man and staggered toward him. He actively picked up a new wine urn and opened the cover to dump the wine into his mouth, and said, "If the law of the Tang Empire shall prevail, then I shall find the evidence to engage in a lawsuit. But the question is, where to find the evidence? If I don't use dishonest methods, then how can I kill my enemy? Does that mean that I should show up in front of him and directly tell him that I want to kill him and then get knocked out?"

The night breeze was flickering, and the old man sat up straight and stared at Ning Que. He became angrier at Ning Que for his imbecility and confusion. With his thin and lengthy palms grasping the chair, he was about to slap Ning Que's face at any moment.

Ning Que was already drunk and, of course, did not notice the rage of the old man. He was, on the one hand, drinking the tasteful wine and, on the other hand, sighing with emotions about revenge, unwillingness, and the moon. Those sighs then got more and more repetitive and boring and were lingering on certain keywords. But he still blocked his innermost thoughts subconsciously and, even after he was drunk, he did not speak of his identity or the name Xia Hou.

"Old man, I used bank notes to knock open the Building of Pines and Cranes before. And what about you? How did you get in here?"

"Haven't you seen the moon before? Poor old man."

"As far as I can see, you are rich. Where does your money come from? I earned my money from the casino in Western City. Are you engaged in business with them?"

"Let me tell you one thing, this ugly cotton-padded jacket of mine is said to have been customized by my teacher."

"The way that you're blowing your mustache is very funny."

Ning Que mumbled continuously and pointed at the old man in the chair, and started laughing.

Suddenly there was a muffled thud.

Ning Que stopped laughing.

He covered his forehead and looked at the old man in shock and confusion.


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The old man, with a thick and short wooden stick in his hand, looked at Ning Que and said furiously, "So many superfluous words! You're driving me crazy. Look at you, how dare you want to kill Xia Hou!"

Not hearing that last sentence clearly, Ning Que turned his eyes back and fainted.

When he was about to lean backward and hit the ground in the veranda, there came a gust of wind.

With his jacket flying up and his steps silent in his sandals, Eldest Brother showed up on the veranda and supported the tottering Ning Que and caught hold of the falling wine urn.

Eldest Brother held Ning Que, who was now unconscious, and looked at the old man and asked, "Teacher, what's the matter with Youngest Brother?"

The old man stealthily retracted the short wooden stick into his sleeve, made two coughs, and said, "No big deal. He offended me just now, so I punished him with the discipline of the Academy."

Seeing the short wooden stick, Eldest Brother was so startled that he nearly fainted because his teacher had once used that stick to banish the Taoist in indigo to the South Sea. So, he was afraid that after being hit by the stick, Youngest Brother would either be dead or become an idiot.

His face turned pale upon recalling this.

The old man noticed that his face was pale but did not realize that he was worried about Ning Que. He frowned and said, "I told you ten years ago to keep a slower pace, so why are still rushing like this?"

Eldest Brother sensed that something went wrong with Ning Que earlier, so he rushed quickly to the veranda of the Building of Pines and Cranes regardless of what would happen to him. He asked the old man worriedly, "Teacher, will Youngest Brother be OK?"

The old man glared at the fainted Ning Que and said, "This boy is like your Youngest Uncle and has a strong body. He was stuck just once, he won't die so easily."

Perhaps the old man also realized that these words were not that convincing, so then he coughed and explained seriously, "Your Youngest Brother has consumed a lot today, it'll be good for him to sleep for a while."

...


...

Eldest Brother of the Academy had only one teacher.

That old man was, of course, the Headmaster of the Academy.

The words from the Headmaster of the Academy were even more useful than an imperial edict of the Tang Empire. And for Eldest Brother, who had the life-long respect for his teacher, what his teacher said was equivalent to the truth. If his teacher said that the night was white, then the night was white to him; if his teacher said that Haotian was black, then Haotian was definitely black to him; and when it came to Ning Que, he would be fine if his teacher told him so.

On the streets of Chang'an in the depths of the night, the Headmaster of the Academy walked forward slowly, elegantly stepping on the scattered dead leaves with his hands clasped behind his back. While the seemingly flustered Eldest Brother was following his teacher, carrying Ning Que on his back.

"You're right, there is always a different one among the thousands of lights."

The Headmaster of the Academy looked at the dim light in the lane and looked at the Yulin Royal Guards patrolling afar. He said, "Though your Youngest Brother is neither an uncontaminated lotus coming out of dirty mud nor a kind-hearted man, he does have some compassion in his seemingly cold-blooded body. The only thing is that he has hidden it too deeply."

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