Under the brilliant rays of the morning sun, a silvery ray of light launched into the air from the dense forest and after landing a second later, rushed off for another 10 li(5km).
The morning sunlight was rather glaring today and little Ming Yue had to squint for a while before finally being able to open her eyes. Looking to her right and left, she saw that they were back on the surface and smiled from the bottom of her heart.
At the side, the little ape was still slightly shell shocked from that whole experience and gazed around with worry in its big rounded eyes. It was as if it was afraid that they would fall into that black abyss once more.
At that, Ning Chen didn’t make the move to explain the matter either. Truth be told, he was still a little confused himself. Had it not been for the existence of that Daoist secret art in his head, he would have even written off what he saw as an illusion.
The Dao Principal, Jiang Wangji. To think that a person from a thousand years ago was still alive now.
Exactly what was he waiting for and was it truly worth it having to pay the steep price of living through a thousand years of suffering?
“You should walk.”
He gently lowered her and grabbed her hands as he said that.
“Alright.” She obediently answered.
After a short walk, they began to hear the gentle rush of a stream in the distance. Deciding that now was the perfect time for a break, Ning Chen led their party in the direction of the river sounds.
After toiling about for a night, he was still in a decent shape but not little Ming Yue. Her past few slumbers had been constantly interrupted and she was probably at her limits by now.
The surface of the small stream was crystal clear and showed no signs of having been contaminated by humans, at least till now. Reaching into the stream, Ning Chen caught a fish and began grilling it for little Ming Yue.
The little girl bit down into the slightly charred exterior but perfectly flaky white flesh beneath and smiled. Satisfied, she leaned against the teen and fell into a deep slumber.
At the side, the little ape mostly sat still in a corner without trying to catch some food for itself. Ever since it swallowed that pearl from that monster bird, its hunger had reduced significantly.
With time to spare and the girl asleep, Ning Chen quietened down his spirits and began analyzing the Daoist secret arts in his head.
The School of Daoism had existed for over ten thousand lunar years (355 days:lunar year). In particular, this martial technique in his head had been refined over the years by generations of philosophers; it had reached its perfection long ago. In fact, it could even be said that the people closest to the Heavenly Bible were the practitioners of the Daoist martial techniques.
The Dao Principal was the strongest man a thousand years ago and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he was the School of Daoism himself. After his mysterious disappearance, the Daoist school promptly fell apart.
With the fall of the Daoist school, Confucianism rose to prominence. In terms of resisting the Eternal Night Cult, there was no better succession than this.
The secret art handed to him by the Dao Principal, while not as stringent as the technique in the Scroll of Earth and required one to be a Xiantian, it still required the user to at least be at the peak of Ninth-grade. Thus, he still couldn’t cultivate it for now.
However, such matters couldn’t be rushed, this was the crystallization of ten thousand years of Daoist wisdom after all.
Besides, the skills taught to him by the elder marquis weren’t mastered yet; being greedy would only lead to his ruin.
Thoroughly tuckered out from the harrowing experiences in the last few days, she ended up sleeping all the way till noon. In the meantime, the little ape wandered around and picked a lot of fruits which the both of them quickly ate before resuming their journey.
For the rest of their journey, they were finally given a reprieve and didn’t encounter much dangers on the way. In light of that, Ning Chen picked up the pace once more. Finally, with silvery rays of the cold moon at their backs, they walked out of the Qizhou Mountain Range.
From that moment on, they had truly stepped into the heart of the Central Plains and weren’t that far off from Fan Lingyue’s grand army.
Realizing that last point in particular, Ning Chen’s heart began to sank. In this world, the person he didn’t want to face the most was Fan Lingyue. Simply put, she was too smart, too ruthless and had no weaknesses.
While he didn’t know if little Ming Yue could ever become her weakness, it was still worth a shot.
It was despicable, he admitted that, however this was war and in war, there were no morals to speak of.
Ever since the war started, the Xia Emperor had grown mad and also foolish. In order to weed out the rebels in his empire, he actually allowed the wolf into his home by allowing Yangui City to fall like that. Even now, he couldn’t believe that an Emperor would do something so foolish.
Long ago, he heard the saying that time could make a despot or a fool out of a monarch. As a person aged, their desire for authority grew and so did their paranoia. Naturally, there were precedents like this in the long history of Grand Xia but none were as extreme as the Xia Emperor.
He had truly wished for the death of the Xia Emperor atop that mountain even if that meant that Grand Xia would be thrown into chaos for a while.
Should the Emperor die, the empire would be thrown into chaos but should he live, the empire would be even more chaotic.Without a doubt, the current situation Grand Xia was in was a lot worse than before.
Had it not been for Zhang Sun, he wouldn’t want to interfere in this trainwreck at all. As for who sat on that dragon throne, he couldn’t give a rat’s ass about that. According to the order of intimacy, little Ming Yue would make a better Emperor than that Xia Emperor who constantly tried to kill him.
As of right now, Fan Lingyue’s 300 000 strong grand army shouldn’t have advanced too far into the empire. Given how momentous that incident in the Mongolian capital was, there was no way it could be covered up. What they had to focus on now was the morale of the army and not invading Grand Xia.
Having dominated for a thousand years, this emancipated donkey of an empire was still a lot bigger than the hale and hearty Mongolian Empire. With so many cities to capture, it wasn’t a simple matter to topple Grand Xia.
And yet, the cruel realities of war couldn’t be avoided so easily either. Once Fan Lingyue swept away all the trouble in her empire and made a concerted push south, that would truly be the start of Grand Xia’s troubles.
Whether or not they could halt her advance before the Imperial Capital was the key to Grand Xia’s survival.
No matter which dynasty it was, once their capital fell, it wouldn’t be long before that dynasty fell as well. A capital was the spiritual support of the masses and wasn’t just as simple as any old city.
Now that little Ming Yue had been abducted by him, the progress of the Mongolian grand army had slowed down temporarily and that allowed Grand Xia to catch its breath. As for whether or not Fan Lingyue would withdraw her troops because of that, even he didn’t believe it possible.
The reason was simple: she was the Lady Strategist, a person more ruthless than the Xia Emperor. The difference ,however, was that the Xia Emperor ruthlessly sacrificed the north while Fan Lingyue ruthlessly conquered the north.
In this world, the difference between a fool and a genius was a lot larger than one could imagine.
Right now, he had already confirmed that the old sage in the academy was actually the Sage from a thousand years ago. Thus, the first thing he had to do was make the trip back to the academy.
If there was even a person in this world as smart as that woman, it had to be the Sage.
The road back to the academy was a long one. With little Ming Yue in tow, it took him two days of rushing before he reached the city.
Yet, the first person he visited wasn’t the Sage but rather Mister Lu. Before that however, there was something he needed to do. Stopping at a street vendor, he bought a jug of wine and promptly stuck a piece of paper with the word ‘御’ (imperial) written on it, onto the front of the jug.
(TL: I know I used the term ‘royal wine’ in the past, that was a mistake, imperial wine is the right translation and I changed the offending chapter as well.)
Beard fluttering in the wind and eyes wide open, Old Man Lu couldn’t help but gasp in surprise. The kid mentioned that he would bring him some imperial wine in the past but he didn’t believe for a second that the kid would actually bring him a jug of “imperial wine”!
Thank the kid and his whole family!
As for Ning Chen, he didn’t feel a shred of guilt for doing so. Now that the Xia Emperor was hunting him down, where was he to find a jug of imperial wine anyway?
“If you don’t want it, I’ll drink it myself it.” Snapped the teen.
“I want it, why wouldn’t I want it. Even if I had to give a discount to someone, it wouldn’t be to a little bast*rd like you.” At that, Old Man Lu snatched the jug of wine and casually tossed it to the side. Whether or not he drank it was his own business but no matter what, he had to have it.
“Is that the little Great Khan beside you?” Looking at the pretty little boy beside him, he asked out of curiosity.
“Mhm.” Patting the little hat on Ming Yue’s head, Ning Chen said, “Say hello to Mister Lu.”
The old man nodded his head and with a strange look on his face, said, “Looks like you guys got along well.”
“Ah, that’s because I’m such a people person.” He laughed as he said that.
“Alright, now that I’ve given you the wine, I’m off. Who knows, next time I might just bring a real jug of imperial wine with me.”
Having said that, he left with little Ming Yue in hand. The whole purpose of this visit was to send his greetings to the old man. Seeing as the old man treated him so well when he was crippled, he mustn’t be an ingrate.
Gazing at the distancing back, Old Man Lu couldn’t help but shake his head and think to himself, this kid, he truly wasn’t a lamp that skimped on oil.
Now that his first stop was completed, next up was his old accomodation in the academy. By now, the white foal had grown fat and grown up as well.
Man and horse met once more but there was no drawn out gaze of silence between the two. Neither were there tears shed. Just like before, the little white horse tried to rub its face against Ning Chen to show its affection and longing. However, it was summarily pushed aside.
If there was one thing he hated the most in this world, it was unhygienic horses.
For the time being, he settled little Ming Yue into his old house and let her sleep. After several days of rushing about, the little girl was slightly shaken up as well.
“Little Yellow, you stay with Whitey over here. Remember, no fighting, everything else is alright.”
With that, he offloaded his little ape onto the academy, what was he going to do with an ape following him around all day anyway?
Not daring to say no, the little ape could only give the little white horse a beaming smile as a show of friendliness.
At that, the white foal arrogantly turned its head away in disdain.
Seeing that, Ning Chen merely left them to their devices. After all, if they were that great, he dared them to wreck the academy then. With a Xiantian headmaster in charge, no matter how arrogant of a beast they were, all it took was a simple smack to subdue them.
The Sage’s living quarters weren’t actually too far off from his own. In the past, he found that trip particularly long because he was crippled then and moved slowly. Now, all it took was a moment for him to visit the Sage.
Yet just as he arrived, he found another person next to the Sage, a person he would’ve never expected to show up here.
The Imperial Preceptor of Grand Xia, the current head of Confucianism, Duke Taishi.
At the moment, Duke Taishi was, as per the rules of Confucianism, respectfully saluting the Sage in the manner of a student greeting his teacher.
Entering the room, the both of them didn’t seem the least bit shocked by his presence as if they expected him.
As always, the Sage looked extremely old. If one didn’t know any better, he would mistake the Sage for an ordinary old man who had grown slow.
“Sage.” He respectfully bowed.
The Sage nodded his head and said: “How was the trip north?”
“There were many gains.” He answered while straightening his body.
“Whatever it is you wish to ask, you may do so.” Tidying up the papers on his table as he slowly said that.
“Is the Sage your esteemed self?”
At that, Ning Chen couldn’t help but be astonished once more even though he had already prepared himself mentally. Even after hearing him say it, he still found it hard to believe this fact.
“How many people in the world know of this?”
Ning Chen thought about that for a second. There were three people here right now so that fourth person, if he wasn’t wrong, should be the headmaster.
“Will Grand Xia fall?” Ning Chen asked once more.
“It will.” The same nod as before.
Ning Chen, on the other hand, trembled. To think that was the answer he got.
However, if the Sage said that Grand Xia will fall, then it would definitely fall.
The students of Confucianism cultivated a boundless and righteous Qi and, by definition, specialized in banishing misfortunes. While the Sage wasn’t a martial practitioner, his deductive skills were unparalleled.
The reason was simple, the entire Confucianism system was founded by him, whatever martial theories they had were all created by him.
“Is there any way to avoid it?” He asked, voice dripping with unwillingness.
“Do your best.”
“How should I proceed with that?”
It was a simple answer that was clear to anyone who heard it. There were no mysteries contained within and yet Ning Chen couldn’t wrap his head around the answer. He knew the Sage wouldn’t give him a useless answer but did that mean that the fate of Grand Xia was to be decided elsewhere and not in this war?