There was no way the letter was forged seeing as it had a general’s seal on it. However, whether or not its contents were true was the issue here.
Zhang Sun’s knuckles whitened as she continued reading the unbelievable letter, her face growing darker by the second.
If this letter was true then Grand Xia was going to be shaken to its very core.
Ning Chen sat there watching, not daring to make a sound as he waited. His courier mission was already done and the rest wasn’t something he could meddle in.
“Ning Chen, you mustn’t stay in the Imperial City any longer, do you have any destination in mind?” Zhang Sun asked with a decisiveness in her tone as she stowed away the letter.
Qing Ning’s eyes widened in shock as she heard that. However, just as she was about to interject, Zhang Sun raised her hands to stop the girl.
Now that Ning Chen knew of this secret, there was no way the Xia Emperor would allow him to live anymore. This time, there was truly nothing she could do about it.
Hearing that, a clear unwillingness flashed across her elegant face. After risking his life to deliver this letter, sending him off like this was simply too cruel.
Ning Chen however, flashed the girl a soothing smile to express that he didn’t mind before turning to face Zhang Sun, “Your Majesty, I’m planning to head to the east, however, leaving the city might be difficult. If it’s alright, can you send me off?”
Her eyes flickered slightly as she nodded her head in agreement. The teen was right. Leaving the city wasn’t going to be easy for him now. The only way the Xia Emperor would allow a potentially uncontrollable factor like him leave the city was in a body bag.
The three of them swiftly descended the tower and sped off in the carriage towards the city gate. Within the shadows nearby, a look of distress crossed the face of a shadow guard who wanted to stop the teen but didn’t dare to do so.
The Xia Emperor’s orders were to contain Ning Chen within the Imperial City, the moment he tried to do so, he was to be killed without any hesitation. With the Empress escorting him however, stopping him wasn’t possible, striking out was even less of an option.
If there was anyone who could stand against the Emperor’s power now, that person would undoubtedly be Zhang Sun.
There was simply no way to ignore the Zhang Sun clan’s influence within Grand Xia, the Xia Emperor was no exception to this rule either.
The carriage sped along eastward with no sign of stopping till finally they passed through the city gates. Having left the city, Zhang Sun and Qing Ning got off the carriage and sent off the carriage by itself.
Seeing that it was the Empress herself, the city guards didn’t even dare to speak out as the carriage sped off, let alone stop it for inspection.
Within the confines of the Imperial City, the shadow guard had no choice but watch as clip clop of the carriage horses faded into the distance.
He didn’t dare to take a single step out of the Imperial City to chase that carriage. The reason was very simple: standing right in front of the Imperial City’s gates were Zhang Sun and Qing Ning.
“Let’s go, it’s time to return.”
Seeing that the carriage has already disappeared from sight, Zhang Sun beckoned for Qing Ning before turning around and walking back into the Imperial City.
Qing Ning sighed heavily before promptly following her mistress.
There was nothing she could do to help him now. From now on, he was on his own for this journey.
As he sat in the driver’s seat of the carriage, his eastward bound carriage took him out of range of all the spies within the city, at least for the moment.
Now that his mission was complete, all that remained now was to visit Sword City and find Mu Chengxue.
This was the matter that truly worried him.
Within the Imperial City, there were still some rules governing the place. Even the Emperor had people and factions he had to be wary of when acting.
However, Sword City was a completely different beast. It was a lawless place; the only law was there the sword in your hand.
The strong ruled, that was probably the most accurate portrayal of Sword City.
Before Mu Chengxue came into the scene, there were only five Xiantians in the world. Yet, it was a widely accepted fact that the place where the truly strong gathered was Sword City. This was a fact that those five Xiantians were unable to refute.
The City of Sword had a sword that even after weathering countless winds and rains, never left its sheath, not even once.
This sword was Sword City itself. Sword City was a forbidden ground that in all likelihood might possess a strength that was greater than a Xiantian.
Now that Sword City had produced an actual Xiantian, the sixth Xiantian expert, this pushed the prestige of the city to the absolute peak.
One had to know that even the mysterious and ancient Eternal Night Cult had only two Xiantians while the indomitable Grand Xia only had one Xiantian guarding it.
Within the Sword City was a sword mark, reputedly left by that expert who was stronger than a Xiantian while practising with his sword. Each mark contained within it the fearsome will of his sword. It was these marks that grabbed the heart of the countless swordsmen in this world.
That expert didn’t stop these visiting swordsmen and had even accepted three talented youths as his disciples ten years ago. Ten years later, the weakest of those three had already reached the peak of ninth grade, the strongest was said to have taken a half step across that all-important boundary. Should the opportunity arise, taking the remaining half a step was entirely possible, turning him into the seventh Xiantian.
However, other than those three swordsmen, the entire Sword City never had the chance to see that expert before. All the inhabitants could do was sense his immeasurably strong Sword Will radiating from the city. Even so, this razor sharp will was enough to overwhelm the swordsmen of this world.
No one knew for sure how terrifying this sword was when it left its sheath, would it really be able to overcome even the Xiantian?
Ning Chen’s road ahead was bound to be a bumpy one. Now that Mu Chengxue had become a Xiantian, she was an existence separated from mortals like him.
Xiantian, in other words a man of the heavens. (TL: Tian in this case means heaven)
A person that could communicate with heaven.
This was a realm that mere mortals simply couldn’t comprehend. Due to their immense power, these experts rarely fought, instead they functioned more as a deterrent.
Ning Chen’s journey was simply just to get an answer. Even if he knew that their status difference was an undeniable fact, this was a trip he had to make.
As the carriage sped along the empty plains, it never once stopped its blistering pace. Around it, the snow continued its calm, endless descent, covering up the heavy horse prints in mere moments.
This trip to the Sword City was going to take at least ten days. Within these ten days, he had to find a way to raise his power as much as possible so that he could better protect himself.
The last thing he wanted was to get sliced up by those sword fanatics before he even got the chance to find Mu Chengxue.
Swordsman were all powerful individual, even more so, they were the representative of the word “determined”. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that swordsman were the hardest people to get along with in this world. That old sword master was the perfect example of this; within the palace, his temper could be said to be the foulest of them all.
Within the palace of Grand Xia, Zhang Sun, having just returned from the city gates, was already rushing towards Revelation Hall for an audience with the Emperor.
Sitting atop his dragon throne, the Xia Emperor had already received a report from the shadow guard and naturally knew of what happened in the city.
“My Empress, may I know what’s the matter?” Asked the Emperor in a solemn tone, not intending to expose this fact to his wife.
While the matter of Ning Chen was important, it wasn’t to the extent where he was willing to risk his relationship with his Empress.
“Your Majesty, this is a letter sent by the northern regions.”
Zhang Sun slowly strode forth and handed over the letter in her hands.
His brows furrowed as he eyed the ominous letter. Receiving it, he unfolded the parchment and quietly read it.
An instant later, his hand smashed into the desk in a vehement display, his face turning red with fury.
It was then that a hurried voice echoed within the halls of Revelation:
“Your Majesty, this is a disaster, there has been an attempt on the Eighth Prince’s Life during his return trip. He is currently in a comatose state and in critical condition!”
The Xia Emperor yelled before suddenly sway to the sides after which he promptly spat out a mouthful of blood, his knees falling forward as he collapsed from the dragon throne.
“Summon the Imperial Physician immediately!”
Zhang Sun’s yelled, her face pale with shock.
The junior eunuch who came in to deliver the report, jumped in astonishment as he witnessed the scene. Without wasting another moment, he rushed off to carry out the order.
At the same time, at the northern gate of the Imperial City, Yue Ling was currently sitting on a carriage leaving the city. Beside her was the old woman Ning Chen met a while ago, dressed in garments slightly stained with blood.
“How was it?” Yue Ling coughed light as she asked.
“His heart meridian had been severed, he won’t make it past today.” Answered the old woman.
“Very good.” Yue Ling said with a nod.
Originally, such a matter shouldn’t have required her to make this trip personally but this matter was crucial to her future plans. In order to prevent any mishaps, she decided to take this extra precaution.
The interior of the carriage went silent for a moment as the old woman pondered. In a soft voice, she said, “Missus, this servant has a matter she needs to report to you.”
“According to the information sent by Concubine Wan, the teenager that Missus has been associating with is Ning Chen!” As she said that, the old woman’s face was visibly darker than before. She had just received this news as well, unfortunately, it was already too late to rectify this mistake.
“Hmm?” Yue Ling’s eyebrows furrowed as a trace of astonishment flashed across her eyes.
She had been too careless this time, to think that she had never once suspected the teen. However, back when she took his pulse in Luo Yue City, the teen’s meridians weren’t those of a eunuch’s.
“Where is he now?” Asked Yue Ling with an icy look on her and an equally cold voice.
“He has already left for the east.”
“Send some men after him. If he’s alive, I want to see him, if he’s dead, I want to see his corpse.” Commanded the girl in a ruthless tone.
Unbeknownst to Ning Chen, the girl he had been hanging out with just a day ago was now trying to kill him no matter the cost.
Such was the emotions of humanity, weak and fragile. In front of their respective standpoints, these emotions weren’t even worth a cent.
Thankfully, the heavens had blessed his escape with a timely snowstorm that covered up all his tracks and slowed down the pursuit significantly.
Within the carriage, Ning Chen was currently deep in meditation. He had tried on several occasions to break through to the fifth grade but they all proved fruitless. After several days of trying, he had no choice but to give up on it.
Right now, he was but a hair’s breadth from the fifth grade and yet this hair’s breadth was that which forcefully halted his martial progress.
He wasn’t some genius after all, encountering a bottleneck like this was to be expected.
However, this sort of matter wasn’t one that could be rushed. Forcefully trying to break through would most likely lead to his mental realm being unstable. In the worst case, he might get overwhelmed by his inner demons.
Along the martial path, one could only advance or deprove. If one’s breakthrough failed, it would leave behind potential problems for one’s future breakthroughs at which point it would become nearly impossible to do so.
As of now, the two Qi whirlpools in his body were mostly similar in size but in a real fight, one still lacked behind the other.
The cultivation technique he learnt from the first golden page was the basis of his martial path. As for the cultivation technique he picked up from the second golden page, its effects were noticeably worser mostly due to the fact that it lacked the baptism of these breakthrough realms.
Furthermore, he still couldn’t train in the skills recorded on that golden page, a matter which he found vexing to no end.
It was as if someone had placed a giant pile of taels before him but that someone had also told him that the taels belonged to Zhang Sun…
The Scroll of Life had only one skill recorded on it, a skill which he cultivated diligently till now. However, its progress was painfully slow and using it had a huge price. That didn’t mean that it had no advantages however, once one cultivated it successfully, his base would experience a transformative change.
As for the second golden page’s cultivation technique, he couldn’t find the name of it despite his many attempts. However from what he knew of its element, he came up with several names of his own.
“The Scroll of Dust”, “The Scroll of Soil”, “The Scroll of Mud”.
Naturally, after careful deliberation, he settled on the best sounding one of the three: “The Scroll of Dust”. As for the other two, they just seemed to sound a little off.
Each time he activated the Scroll of Dust, he was able to control the soil and dust around him. However, because he had only picked up this technique recently, his control over it still wasn’t up to par.
An attribute of the scroll’s element was its weight. This meant that activating it was also a lot slower than others. If he wanted to use this scroll in battle, he still had a lot more training to do.
Suddenly, the galloping horse neighed and abruptly raised its front hooves, nearly causing the entire carriage compartment to topple over…