Nightfall - Chapter 470

Published at 2nd of October 2018 05:45:21 AM

Chapter 470: The Only Choice

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In the blizzard, the big black umbrella gradually came to the entrance of the palace and stopped in front of the hundreds of Tang officers, as it closed and revealed Ning Que's and Sangsang's statures under the umbrella.

It was dead silent in front of the palace. Only the howling sound of the blizzard, the pattering noise of the snow against the frozen moat, and their own breathing sound could be heard.

These bigwigs stared at Ning Que and coincidentally frowned. They seemed puzzled about what Mr. Thirteen from the Academy wanted to do on this day when General Xiahou was leaving the city.

The complex and confused looks were actually cover-ups.

They heard of that rumor and knew that the military had investigated on Ning Que and his connection with those murder cases. Hence, they knew his intention for coming. It was only that Chang'an had remained quiet for a very long time from summer to autumn and then to winter again. Just when the whole world thought that Ning Que had already given up, he appeared.

In the silence, everyone was alert as they hid their insecurities and looked at Ning Que. Standing in the crowd was the Imperial Library Grand Secretary, Zeng Jing, who looked even more worried as she watched Sangsang who stood beside Ning Que.

Prince Li Peiyan slowly took a step forward as he looked at Ning Que, concealed his anger and said, "What are you trying to do?"

General Xu Shi stared at Ning Que blankly and said, "If you plan to assassinate our Tang General in front of all the officers, I will be very impressed by courage and stupidity."

The heavy snow continued to fall in the Imperial City.

Ning Que swept off the few pieces of thick snow that fell onto his shoulders as he said, "Even if I had that kind of courage, I will not be stupid to that extent. Just that, since I am already here, there's something I should do."

Xu Shi ridiculed him indifferently and said, "With the law of Tang before you, what else can you do?"

Such a change in front of the imperial city gates alerted the Yulin Royal Guards and the imperial palace bodyguards. The eunuch lead who had sent Xia Hou to the exit previously had already rushed into the palace as fast as he could, in hope to inform the Emperor of this news.

Many servants from the imperial court began to walk behind their ministers from around the square and opened the umbrellas to shelter them from the wind and snow. In front of the red wall, many flowers of different colors began to bloom.

Ning Que's big black umbrella was already well-kept and held in Sangsang's hands. Both the master and the handmaiden stood quietly in the blizzard as they watched an increasingly number of umbrellas opening in front of them.

The shadows cast by the umbrellas enveloped the faces of the ministers. They could no longer see the expressions on their faces, nor could they see their thoughts from their eyes.

Ning Que looked at Xu Shi and said calmly, "Putting the law of Tang Empire as priority has always been the iron law of the Academy. As a disciple of the Academy and a student of the Headmaster, I will certainly abide by it. Hence, when the military had conducted an investigation on me to see if I am the suspect for those murders, it is extremely absurd to me."

Xu Shi frowned slightly and said, "There are so many old ministers having conversations with you while standing in the midst of the blizzard, yet all you want them to hear is how you redress your own grievances?"

Ning Que did not care about this military leader of the Tang. He turned towards Xia Hou and said, "Many have guessed what I would do and I believe you are one of them. In fact, from the day I have decided to kill you, I myself was also wondering what I would do."

Indeed, these bigwigs of the Tang Empire before the imperial city had been guessing what Ning Que would do. Even now when they have seen his appearance, they still had no idea what he was preparing to do.

With the chilly wind and the piercing snow, the red wall gradually became cold. Ning Que looked at Xia Hou seriously and said, "It was till autumn that I finally understood what I should do."

"I want to challenge you."

His voice was not as clear in the howling sound of the blizzard, yet the content of this speech had clearly cut through the blizzard and traveled into everyone's ears.

The voice gradually disappeared on the wall of the red palace. A thin piece of paper flew out from Ning Que's sleeve, ignoring the heavy snow that was falling from the sky, as it slowly and evenly drifted before Xia Hou. No matter how rapidly the wind was blowing, and how heavy the snow was falling, it didn't seem to have any effect on this thin piece of paper.

Xia Hou silently gazed at Ning Que, who was not far from him. He looked at that piece of white paper that seemed to be held by countless lines as it gradually drifted to him. The faces that were enveloped by the umbrellas' shadows were emotionless.

He raised his right arm and grabbed that piece of thin paper that was floating in front of him.

It was a piece of challenge declaration.

From the time Ning Que declared that he wanted to challenge Xia Hou, the imperial city became much quieter and was in dead silence. Even the sound of the blizzard seemed to disappear. His words were reverberating in everyone's ears and all eyes were on that piece of thin paper which was moving forward slowly and steadily.

Ning Que wanted to challenge General Xiahou upfront? Everyone thought that they had heard wrongly, for to them, this was absolutely not going to happen.

Of course, the people in the imperial court were clear that Ning Que was the core disciple of the Headmaster of Academy and had learnt Talisman Taoism skills from Master Yan Se. In less than two years' time, he was already a strong cultivator in the Seethrough Realm.

Cultivators who achieved Seethrough state and above were considered as godly and first-raters by the mortals. Yet decades ago, the great general Xia Hou was already at the Peak state of Martial Arts and one of the most powerful men in the world. What did Ning Que have, and what qualifications he had to challenge against Xia Hou?

It was like a flower challenging a forest, a grasshopper challenging a carriage, an egg challenging a rocky mountain, and a beggar challenging the mighty Emperor.

General Xu Shi thought silently in his heart that Ning Que was probably driven crazy. If he was not crazy, why would he do such a crazy act?

The expression on Prince Li Peiyan was slightly stiff and became warm again in the next instant. He felt that he had probably guessed what Ning Que was thinking.

——One could never reconcile with the murderer of one's father, neither could one violate the will of the Academy and the law of Tang Empire. As such, he thought of challenging against Xia Hou, so even if he lost, he had tried his best.

The people in front of the imperial city had one by one came up with two different thinkings after recovering from the shock: If Ning Que wasn't crazy, then the only reason for him to challenge General Xia Hou was to seek spiritual comfort.

Looking at Ning Que who was standing in the blizzard and watching his calm expression, the bigwigs did not think that he had gone crazy, hence what was going to happen later should not be too bloody either.

It was impossible for Ning Que to defeat General Xia Hou and even if General Xia Hou was to win the duel, with the Academy and the Headmaster of Academy, it was impossible for him to kill Mr. Thirteen.

Yes, that was how things should be.

However, what was going to happen next had directly destroyed all their imaginations and expectations.

Ning Que took a small knife from Sangsang and cut his left palm with its blade. He then began to move. The blade was moving very slowly on the palm and the sharp blade gradually slit a long hole in the palm. Fresh blood began to seep out from the hole and the white flesh was dyed red instantly.

A loud exclamation sounded in front of the imperial city, as well as the deep breathing sound was heard. As the people watched the blade slowly cutting across his palm, they could felt as if the blade was cutting their own bodies, causing them to feel the pain.

Ning Que wasn't affected by these commotions. His face remained very calm and focused, as if he wasn't cutting his own palm. He seemed to be carving a flower out of his palm.

"Ning Que! Are you crazy?"

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Imperial Library Grand Secretary Zeng Jing could no longer remain silent as she walked out of the crowd with a worried looking face. She looked at Sangsang and rebuked, "Hurry and stop him!"

Sangsang looked down and stared at her boots in the snow.

The prince's face instantly turned exceptionally pale. General Xu Shi suddenly lowered his snowy brows, as though they were loaded with heavy burdens. Everyone in front of the imperial city was looking abnormally unsettled.

Only Xia Hou remained expressionless and quiet. He was calmly and intently looking at Ning Que cutting his palm as he raised his brows gradually.

What caused everyone to be taken aback, or even to the extent of feeling bizarre was not the amount of pain that Ning Que might be feeling from cutting his palm, but what this action actually represented.

The Tangs were good in martial arts and they have a simple and straight-forward temperament. Once they disagreed in opinions, they would often throw their fists at one another. Hence, dueling became a common sight in Chang'an. Two years ago, on an evening during spring, when Ning Que and Sangsang returned from City of Wei to Chang'an, they saw a duel happening on the street that night.

At that time, he explained to the little handmaiden beside him that cutting the sleeves in a duel battle in Chang'an City would represent a challenge and that was what they called a live battle. However, if the challenger was to slit his own left palm, it meant that this duel was a battle to death.

This time, Ning Que had gradually slit his left palm in front of the imperial city in a snowstorm. This meant that the challenge he proposed against Xia Hou was not for spiritual comfort as what the people had previously thought, but it was a battle of life and death.

Though the civil and military officials present at the scene were well-respected people who would never face with a challenge, they were, after all, living in the city of Chang'an and it would be impossible for them to not know this well-known rule.

Thus, they were shocked and their faces went pale.

In their opinions, General Xiahou would inevitably win in today's challenge. However, if this was really a battle to death and if Ning Que died, as a core disciple of the Headmaster of Academy, his death would definitely bring a terrifying impact on the Tang Empire.

Li Peiyan went pale as he stared at Ning Que and said, "Are you planning to use your life in exchange for the Headmaster's anger? Is that even worth it? Do you know what kind of person the Headmaster is? Do you think you can make use of him?"

The blade had already torn the nerves on his palm. Ning Que stopped his action and raised his head. His expression on the face remained calm and serene, as though the pain on his palm was not affecting him at all.

He gazed at the Prince, his Highness, and said, "What has this matter got to do with your Highness? Perhaps you are worried that I will challenge you next?"

Xu Shi looked at him blankly and said, "A battle of life and death requires official permission. I can tell you, for the whole of Tang imperial court, no one will dare to approve this battle."

"Initially when Daoshi Monk came to challenge me, the Military Ministry approved. When Liu Yiqing came to challenge me, the Military Ministry approved. Today I am challenging General Xia Hou, is the Military Ministry not going to approve?"

Ning Que looked back at him and asked sternly, "Does our Tang Military still want their reputation?"

Xu Shi's brows knitted and did not speak a word.

Ning Que stared at everyone in front of the imperial city and said, "All of you keep saying the law of Tang Empire comes first. Great. Then I shall challenge you according to the law of Tang Empire. May I know who can stop me?"

He then glanced at Xia Hou and said, "Unless you do not accept it."

Xia Hou slowly rubbed his fingers along the thin piece of challenge slip. He gave a strange-looking expression before he looked at Ning Que and said, "Your choice is indeed beyond my expectation."

Ning Que said, "I usually don't take the common route."

Xia Hou gently flicked the thin paper and said, "When I first saw this piece of paper slowly traveling in the snow storm, I knew you have a high Psyche Power sensitivity. It is a pity that your acupoints for Snow Mountain and Ocean of Qi were blocked. This resulted in poor control for your Qi of Heaven and Earth, even worse than what you should have as a Seethrough state cultivator. You are already in such a bad state, yet you dare to daydream about challenging me. I can only say you are digging your own grave."

Ning Que looked at him and said, "I do not have other routes, so this is my own choice. Whether it is a route to death, I'll only know if I tried."

Xiahou said, "To you, challenging me might be your worst choice."

Ning Que said, "Since it is my only choice, it can only be my best choice."

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