Nightfall - Chapter 37

Published at 9th of April 2018 09:19:59 AM

Chapter 37

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Although the Yulin Royal Guards had blockaded the Lin 47th Street, more and more Chang'an citizens were gathering together. They didn't care at all about the cold rain which left them wet. Looking at the dark-faced man leaning against the wall, they, nervously, uncomfortably, excitedly, or pitifully, were all interested in what happened.

Ning Que stood in the rain with a black umbrella, staring at Zhuo Er, who was sitting in the rain with his legs apart. Ning Que was so concentrated as if he wanted to memorize that face forever, despite that you couldn't tell anything from his face.

"When we met in Min Mountain seven years ago, you had a dark face. Why are you so dark? You're darker than the bottom of a pot, darker than Sangsang, and even darker than the night." While seven years had passed, the dark boy had grown into a dark man. Ning Que was not familiar with this face anymore. Therefore, he wanted to look at the face carefully in this last moment, remembering it till death.

The crowd dispersed after the Yulin Royal Guards carried Zhuo Er, who had closed his eyes forever, out of the Lin 47th Street. Ning Que and Sangsang returned to their shop under the black umbrella, side by side. Although he seemed calm, Sangsang clearly observed that there was no emotion in Ning Que's eyes. He was just like a shell without a soul.

The door of the shop was closed. After a long period of silence, Nin Que finally whispered, "I'd like to eat noodles tonight."

"Sure," Sangsang answered quickly, and entered the backyard after dropping off her books and cosmetics box.

Ning Que seemed to return to normal after he ate a bowl of noodles with three fried eggs, which were specially cooked by Sangsang for him. He even made fun of Sangsang after he put down his bowl, though his laughter was nevertheless dry and bitter.

When the rain stopped at midnight, Ning Que walked out of the shop after making sure that anyone wouldn't see him. He slowly walked to the gray wall on the opposite side of the shop and crouched down. He raised his hand and slowly rubbed the wall. However, he could not feel the body heat of Zhuo Er on the wet and cold wall. Ning Que didn't know why that guy came here just before he died, what he wanted to tell him, and for how long he waited in the freezing rain and what he was thinking at that time...

His thin and long finger stopped when he touched a piece of brick, where there was a faint blood stain on the corner, and a tiny mark. The mark wouldn't be discovered with one's naked eyes, but Ning Que found it with his finger.



Back at the shop, Ning Que gave Sangsang several pieces of paper soaked in oil and told her to save them carefully. Although rare for him, he boiled water himself to take a foot bath. Then he went to the cold bed. As usual, Sangsang slept on the other side of the bed with her body curled together like a mouse.

"I stayed with him for only a couple of days seven years ago, and then he was taken away by his damn master. You probably have forgotten all these things. He had not learned anything from his master these years, and he was still a spy in the Military Ministry, not in a good situation."

"We did contact with each other via letters. However, I don't know much about him now as we have not seen each other for seven years. It's too hypocritical to say that we're very close... Honestly speaking, the relationship between him and me was built on mutual benefits. Or more precisely, I took advantage of him to collect information about Xia Hou."

"But he just died like that, and this is very tough. Now I'm the only person who knows about the massacre of those villages, of course, not counting you. Then should I take all the responsibilities? However, I'm already in hot water with a lot of troubles, how will I have time to deal with these matters?"

As Sangsang knew, Ning Que only needed catharsis and self-conviction, instead of replies from others. She didn't speak, seeming to fell asleep.

However, Ning Que couldn't fall asleep. He looked at the corner of the roof, where there were water stains left by the rain, with his eyes wide open. Suddenly, he sat up and exited into the yard with a coat. He took out three old knives from the wood and began sharpening them.

Ning Que was still not sleepy after doing that. He went into the shop and lit a candle. He poured water into the ink stone and started grinding ink. Then he sank the brush into the dark ink and took out a piece of scrap paper casually. The brush, controlled by Ning Que, poured down ink onto the paper, just like the rain in the afternoon. Ning Que wrote down a few lines of words quickly.

"To think about the past makes me feel miserable and like crying. The pain penetrates my heart and mind. However, I could not do anything. I have yet to succeed but have already become more plaintive. However, I could not do anything. I do not know what can I write down, but feel sad... Ning can only bow."

There was no expression on Ning Que's face and no emotion in his eyes, which made an obvious contrast with the painful and aggressive words on the paper. Without him knowing, Sangsang got up and stood beside him with a thin coat. She looked at the words on the paper, speechless, and raised her little head and looked at him with confusion.

"These words were written down by a predecessor, and I'm just copying." Ning Que explained. "The predecessor's family tomb was dug up, and yet he wasn't able to return and give it a look. He felt greatly distressed although he knew it was repaired immediately afterward, and wrote down these few sentences in despair and anger."

Sangsang nodded her head. But judging from her eyes, she might have still been confused. Ning Que smiled and didn't give further explanations. Although he had copied this famous piece of calligraphy more than ten times, it was only this time that he understood what kind of pain could penetrate one's heart and mind, and could make people speechless and choke up.

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At daybreak, the rain stopped.

Washed by the spring rain, the sun appeared to be especially clear and beautiful, shining on the peaceful Lin 47th Street, and painting all the building's corners and the gray wall. The door of Old Brush Pen Shop was opened wide. Ning Que sat on a chair, reading one of the leisure books he bought. Occasionally, he would frown or smile due to the content of the book, and pick up the cup of tea to take a drink.

There was an oily sheet inside the, seemingly, very leisure book. The signature, which would never get wet by the rain, appeared to be very clear on the oilpaper. He wasn't reading the book, and instead, he was reading the piece of paper.

The oilpaper was stuffed into the wall by Zhuo Er before he died. It recorded a few names, some information about their hobbies and daily whereabouts. Ning Que didn't know whether they were relevant to the death of Zhuo Er, but he knew that at least he should do something if he wanted Zhuo Er's death to be a bit more meaningful. Or in other words, Zhuo Er would have died more willingly and happily.

The first name on the oilpaper was Zhang Yiqi.

Zhang Yiqi was an assistant to the Imperial Oversight Advisor in the empire's Department of Provincial Censor. He was responsible for investigating and examining all the government officials and impeaching the corrupt ones. When he was a minor censor, he was assigned to assist investigating the treason case of the Xuanwei general, Lin Guang Yan. Later on, after he was promoted to be the secretary of Department of Provincial Censor, he was again a member of the officials who was examining the case of the slaughter in the village within the Yan territory.

In 13 years, he was promoted from upper-ranked eighth to lower vice-ranked sixth. Judging by this, he was far from a successful official. However, Ning Que didn't care about this. He only was concerned about the role this guy played in these two cases. General Xia Hou could take advantage of accidents to murder his enemies and avoid being punished in the slaughter case, which must have something to do with Zhang.

Then, he deserved his death.



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