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Nightfall - Chapter 885

Published at 16th of April 2019 10:00:07 AM


Chapter 885

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The Song clan elder felt a freezing chill spread across his chest. He stared at his own sword, jutting out of his bosom, and the stream of blood steadily flowing down the blade. As the cold slowly crept over his heart, he realized that he would never be a match for Jun Mo, even with his serious wounds. Jun Mo never actually attacked — with a simple wave of his hand in the autumn breeze, he was able to steal his natal sword and take his life.

The Cui Garden creek bank was such a scene of devastation and death that even the splashing sounds of the Fuchun River were now silenced. The Song clan elder toppled slowly to the ground. Jun Mo left with Mu You, leaning on his cane. Nobody dared to even move.

Wang Jinglue was still standing in the crowd. He'd never even gotten the chance to attack. Only after he had seen flesh and blood strewn around the Imperial Tutor's seat and the pale corpse of Elder Cui did he realize the power of Ning Que's arrow. Only when he saw the Song clan elder bathed in blood and the sword buried in his chest did he realize the capacity of Second Master's sword.

A long time elapsed after Jun Mo and Mu You left Cui Garden before the people emerged from their states of shock. The air was filled with sounds of crying and screaming.

To Qinghe Prefecture, there were many clans, but Ruyang County's Cui clan was where their collective spirits came from, and Elder Cui was to them as the Academy Master was to the Academy. They had just witnessed the Elder, whom they relied on, pulverised and scattered all around them without being able to do anything. How could they not feel unsettled?

News of his death quickly spread to Yangzhou and reached thousands of homes. Naturally, the news was rapidly received in Chang'an.

The Great Tang reacted instantaneously. That night, the craftsmen deployed by the Ministry of Works in the south-central regions and the reserve army in the neighbouring prefectures were sent as quickly as possible to Verdant Canyon in the north.

Last autumn's Battle of Verdant Canyon had seen countless troops buried and the already inaccessible official road had been blocked by huge stones, making it almost impossible to get through. After running its clean-up operation for half a year, the imperial court had only been able to clear a tiny path. Of course, with the manpower from the soldiers accompanying the craftsmen, the speed of clean-up had become exponentially faster.

At the current rate, it seemed that it would only take a few more months for the Chang'an side to finish the initial clean-up operation. It thus followed that it would only be a few months before the Great Tang's iron horsemen would be able to access the south via Verdant Canyon and wipe Qinghe Prefecture out with the force of an iron river.

The famed figures and common people of the Qinghe Prefecture did not know what had happened in Verdant Canyon to the north, but the consequences of Elder Cui's death were very clear to them — the contract between Tang Kingdom and West-Hill Kingdom was now reduced to a worthless piece of paper, and Tang troops could appear in Qinghe Prefecture at any time.


The immense pressure from the north hung overhead like a low-lying dark cloud, even making it hard for some people at Qinghe Prefecture to breathe. They could not understand why the Tang Kingdom would forsake their contract so quickly after the cruel event that had just transpired.

Chaos had appeared in Qinghe Prefecture, and there would never be peace again.





Wang Jinglue did not leave Yangzhou. He had to wait there for Ning Que, and most importantly, he was in charge of handling all the cultivators of the Tianshu Institute and army spies entering Qinghe Prefecture from Tang Kingdom at that moment. Then, he had to use this power to help Cui Huasheng secure a position of power amongst the chaos.





A cylindrical channel appeared in the air above the Peach Mountain plateau. The turbulent interference appeared in the air like strands of silk or cotton, making the shape of the passage even more distinct.

This was the scar left by the iron arrow's passage, and it was also the arrow's path.

Ning Que stood before the altar, holding the bow in his right hand and lifting his left hand high in the air like he was seizing a tiger's tail. He was frozen in the posture he held right after the arrow's release, as stable as a wooden carving.

The sounds of the chanting had since stopped. The thousands of people on the plateau looked at him in panic and did not utter a single word. It was as if they, too, had been turned into wooden figures.

Nobody knew where Ning Que's iron arrow flew to, but they knew that someone's life ended. The fact that nobody saw the actual result but already knew the result made the people petrified.

Ning Que returned the bow to his shoulder and looked back towards the Divine Hall of Light, with a somber expression on his face. If the Haotian energy in his body were to dissipate, the Yi Talisman around the altar would also return to heaven, spelling out a certain death for him at the hands of the powerful cultivators around him, but this thought never crossed his mind.

He had just completed the first half of the Academy's plan and his focus was now on the Divine Hall of Light. He had a feeling that the battle in the Divine Hall would result in a fatality.

In the same way that the people on the plateau knew that someone's life was coming to an end when they saw him shoot his bow, he knew that there would be death if anyone entered the Divine Hall of Light. The thought made his heart lurch.

In a battle between heaven and a mortal, the mortal would have to die because the winner would naturally be heaven.


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..

Sangsang looked at the thousands of worlds on the sword. Her eyes blazed with flames and stars, sunrises and sunsets, the rise and fall of empires and innumerable seasons, as if wading through time in the world of humanity.

Liu Bai's sword was only two chi away from her. The fault lines in the blade became deeper and deeper. Its surface became a mottled grey-white, meaning that it was completely melted and was now starting to erode in the breeze.

The closer things came to her body, the faster time passed for them, and the more damage they sustained due to the ravages of time. Even a sword sturdy enough to endure years of wind and rain would not be able to survive.

It was already extremely remarkable that Liu Bai's sword could enter her little world and come that close to her. This was inexplicable by ordinary principles of cultivation.

His sword was of the mortal world and carried the Sword Garret's intention and the red dust of the mortal world, but was not the mortal world itself. Thus, it would never be able to overcome the ravages of time.

The corrosion scars seemed to overflow with frost, then the sword split apart, and vanished without a trace in a cloud of green smoke.

The sword was destroyed but the man was still there. His body was the real sword.

The bright glimmer in Liu Bai's eyes shone brighter than when he first felt that flowing yellow river. They shone even brighter than when he gained the knowledge of the Sword's Will of the Great River by the riverbank.

The moment he sent his sword out to strike, he knew he could not win, but he did not give up. It was just as he said: this was already the last highlight of his time on Earth, and he wanted to see how close he could get to heaven and to see if he had the ability to touch heaven, even if he would only be able to leave a single scar on the sky attributable to him.

Liu Bai's hand reached into Sangsang's little world.

His hand was long and elegant, with long, thin fingers. It was the only hand on Earth that was most suited to hold a sword. Whenever he held the sword's handle, it was as if the hand and sword were two inseparable parts of a whole.

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At this point his hand did not hold the sword — his hand was the sharpest blade.

His hand reached towards Sangsang's face, as if it were trying to pierce through the hair framing her face.

As his hand came closer and closer to her face, his fingernails steadily darkened to an ashen grey. The skin on his hand shriveled and wrinkles appeared. His sleeve disintegrated into ashes in the wind.

Liu Bai continued to advance. As the scars of time spread up his forearm, the skin there began to loosen and sag, as if it belonged to an old man on his deathbed, losing signs of life.

He continued to move forward, disregarding the boundaries of the mortal world, fighting the quietest yet scariest battle with the merciless force of time. It was as if he had traversed thousands of years, or perhaps even really traversed thousands of years.

After an immeasurable amount of time, Liu Bai finally stood before Sangsang, one chi away from her in her little world.

It was a shame that, when he raised his hand weakly, he no longer had the power to deliver the last blow. The white hair scattered on his shoulder was withered and brittle like dry weeds in frost. The wrinkles and grooves on his face were as deep as those in the green stone tiles of Linkang City. He had morphed into an old man on death's door.

Sangsang said, "You've lost."

With his voice dry and weakened with age, Liu Bai said, "You've lost."

Sangsang furrowed her brow slightly, not comprehending his words.

"I have left a sword in the mortal world. The sword will not disappoint them."

Liu Bai looked at her and smiled. "But this has nothing to do with this war."


Sangsang said, "How could you possibly defeat me now?"

Liu Bai took a few shaky breaths. With incredible difficulty, he raised his brittle hand and touched her brow with the tip of his finger. It caused no harm. It was more like a caress.

There was no such thing as mortals defeating heaven. There had never been such a thing in all known history, but many had fought for this for years. They wanted to win, to show heaven the power of mortals, but more often than not, they simply wanted to prove to themselves and humanity that one can achieve anything if one was willing to work for it.

Liu Bai had no feud with the mortal world. By coming to Peach Mountain, entering the Divine Hall of Light and taking on a fight with heaven, he had never thought that he could win the final victory, but he did want to prove something.

In the moment before his death, he was finally able to touch the cold, distant heavens. He had fulfilled his own wish and could therefore see his own destiny.

Sangsang regarded the falling limb before her wordlessly.

Like a post-drought riverbed which had separated into chunks of parched earth and dry soil, Liu Bai's body fell apart with a rustle into a heap of dust on the floor.

No one could truly attain eternal glory. No one could truly survive through the ages. Even the sturdiest city wall will eventually wear down into dust by the wind, and even the mightiest river will dry up one day.

Yet in the same way, nobody, not even heaven, could deny that the wall had once stood stubbornly in the mortal world, and that the river had once flowed over thousands of li.

A sword suddenly appeared before Sangsang. The sword was brimming with ancient intent, but no longer held any more spirit or life and clattered on the floor, ringing clearly.

Both Liu Bai's body and sword had disintegrated into ashes, but the sword was still there, gleaming and new, not bearing a single trace of damage. It was as if the post-chaos mortal world was hinting at something.

Sangsang looked silently at the pile of ashes and the ancient sword at her feet.

This was the first time she had truly made a move against humanity. Just by tracing a few words lightly, the strongest cultivator in the world had been reduced to ashes. Still, her face showed a slight pale cast, perhaps due to a wound or perhaps due to something else.
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