Chapter 85: Festivities

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At the break of dawn, the sun had just begun casting its warm gaze over the settlement. From a distance away, the sounds of a blade and scimitar clashing continuously resounded throughout the tribe. Soon, the majority of the tribe had gathered at the front of the settlement to see what all the hubbub was about.

Right in the center of the competition grounds, Ming Cheng and Ning Chen were in the midst of a duel.

Under the incandescent rays of the sun, the black Ink Sword cut a stark contrast in the air as it danced about. No matter which angle the slash came from, the scimitar found itself blocked by the Ink Sword. Even though Ning Chen had already suppressed his cultivation to the level of sixth-grade, similar to Ming Cheng, he still possessed an oppressive advantage in terms of combat strength.

Prince Yan was one of the spectators at the side lines as well and with regards to that outcome, he wasn’t the least bit surprised. Even though it was only a short while ago that Ning Chen started on the martial path, the number of battles he had gone through wasn’t less than anyone else.

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Furthermore, the majority of his opponents were those who were far superior to him in terms of cultivation level. In terms of combat experience alone, he had plenty of that already.

In a martial competition, other than your cultivation level, your cultivation base and your skills, experience was the next variable which had the greatest impact on victory.

*crack*

In the midst of their battle, an unexpected incident occurred. At the very moment their blades clashed once more, a resounding crack echoed throughout the grounds. A split second later, the wheelchair beneath Ning Chen fell apart with a resounding crack and scattered across the grounds.

It was a sudden development that caused him no small deal of annoyance. Frowning, he stabbed the Ink Sword into the ground and with a twist of his right arm, sent his body flying into the air.

It was at that moment that the scimitar came slashing towards him, cold as the moon and quick as lightning.

In face of that unavoidable blade slash, Ning Chen focused his Qi onto the fingers of his left hand and with a solid clang, caught the incoming scimitar between two of his fingers. In one swift motion, he twisted the blade to the side, redirecting the force away before promptly letting go of the blade. Flicking his sword finger across the air, he tapped the side of Ming Cheng’s shoulders.

Stabbing into the man’s shoulders, he withdrew the majority of its force and only allowed a fraction to pass through. Having broken through his defenses, there was no longer a need to continue attacking so with a slap of the Ink Sword’s sheath, he launched his body backwards and left the combat zone.

At that same time, Prince Yan waved his hand and a chair flew out of a tent in response, landing at the very spot Ning Chen was about to land.

It was a casual gesture that seemed so natural that no one even noticed it. Even more so, no one realized that this auraless young man was actually one of the scariest monsters in the world, a Xiantian expert.

Back in the center, no one knew when it happened but by the time they noticed it, Ming Cheng’s scimitar had already dropped to the ground. Even now, the numbness in his shoulders refused to dissipate, rendering it basically useless as he couldn’t even lift it up.

“Brother Ning’s brilliant swordsmanship leaves one at awe, Ming Cheng is ashamed to say that he doesn’t compare.” Ming Cheng wasn’t a petty person. A loss was a loss. Thus, he merely picked his scimitar with left hand and admitted it without giving any excuses.

“Brother Pei is too kind.” Seated atop his chair, Ning Chen gripped down on the air and summoned the Ink Sword and its sheath to him. With a shing, the Ink Sword promptly flew into its sheath and landed on the ground in front of the teen.

“Looking at Brother Pei’s blade techniques, while they were all as ferocious as lightning, they tended to have a lot of showy moves, it’s as if it wasn’t even an orthodox skillset.” As he suddenly made up that pack of lies, Ning Chen feigned a look of regret on his face and frowned.

“Impossible, the blade techniques of the Qing family are the most orthodox martial skillset of the Mongolian empire. How could they just be showy techniques.” As expected, Ming Cheng fell for his trap and promptly tried to refute his claims.

“Sigh.”

At that moment, both Ning Chen and Prince Yan simultaneously sighed in their hearts. Too inexperienced…

“This one’s loss was only because his studies weren’t up to par, Brother Ning mustn’t slander the blade techniques of the Qing family anymore.” Not knowing that he had been duped, Ming Cheng continued defending his techniques with a grave look on his face.

“Brother Pei, this little brother has gone overboard with his words, please do not hold it against him.” Ning Chen bowed as he apologized in a fashion that couldn’t be more proper even if he had tried.

Hearing the sincerity in his apology, Ming Cheng’s expression loosened up significantly, no longer holding it against the teen.

Now that the fight was over and there was nothing left to see, the crowd accommodatingly gave their applause before dispersing back to their original tasks.

“Big Brother Ah Hu, don’t forget about my wheelchair.” Ning Chen was unable to move at the moment so he could only call out to the departing man from his chair.

“Got it.” Ah Hu shouted back.

Thus, for the entire morning, Ning Chen sat at the outskirts of the settlement doing nothing but gazing into the air. With nowhere else to go, he had gotten so sick of the beautiful scenery that he almost wanted to puke at the mere sight of a blade of grass.

“How about standing up to take a walk.” Unbeknownst to him, Prince Yan had approached him in the midst of his daze.

“It’s alright, you do you.” Ning Chen rejected that without any hesitation.

“As you were then.” Having said that, Prince Yan turned around to leave for his tent.

“Senior, what did you and that lady talk about last night?” Unable to suppress his gossipy nature, he couldn’t help but call out to that distancing figure.

On his way back last night, he so happened to bump into Pei Yan as she exited the tent, eyes red and lips quivering. That incident intrigued him greatly and even kept him up till the wee hours of the night.

“This prince didn’t say a thing.” Prince Yan answered without even turning his head around.

Hearing that, Ning Chen was stunned after which he couldn’t help but spit out a single word, what!

No wonder that lady was on the verge of tears! He had intended to give the two some space so that they could talk to each other. If the senior really didn’t like her, he could have rejected her in a roundabout way or, at the very least, rejected her directly.

Through Ah Hu, he found out last night, exactly how extraordinary that lady’s position in this tribe was. Her grandpa was the head of the tribe, in other words, the don of this settlement and an all around influential person.

Based on what he learnt so far of this lady, his impression of her wasn’t that bad. While she was a little on the delicate side and also rather fragile, she was still a kind-hearted lady in the end.

To some extent, this gentle lady seemed more like a daughter born into some giant clan in the Central Plains than a lady of the Steppes.

He heard that this Lady Pei Yan knew how to play the Qin, paint, and play chess. Overall, she was a big fan of Grand Xia’s culture.

He also heard that this Lady Pei Yan suffered from heart pains and was basically a Steppes version of Lin Daiyu. (TL: A female character from Dream of the Red Chamber.)

He also, also heard that this Lady Pei Yan lost her mother at birth because her mom suffered an episode of heart pains right after giving birth to Pei Yan.

He also, also, also heard that this Lady Pei Yan would most likely be unable to live past 25. Furthermore, this diagnosis had been verified by multiple physicians.

As Ning Chen went through all that, he grew ever more irritated by the senior. Yesterday afternoon, he went through all sorts of ordeals in order to gather that bit of intelligence, going so far as to abandon his dignity in the process. On the other hand, his senior merely sat in his tent and drank tea for better part of the day.

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It was at that moment that a young girl’s voice resounded throughout the settlement. Voice filled with anxiety, her words immediately grabbed the attention of most of the tribe.

“Young Missus has fainted!”

The moment that was said, the white bearded elder rushed out of a nearby tent, face grim as he hurried off to Pei Yan’s tent.

That scene was immediately followed up by the appearance of Ming Cheng, the physician and a whole bunch of other tribesmen.

Wracking his brains, Ning Chen came to the conclusion that heart pains should be the equivalent of a heart disease in his world. Furthermore, it was a congenital heart disease so the odds of her being cured were basically nil.

The Crystal Chestnut Flower had a miraculous effect on the heart but unfortunately, he no longer had it.

As for whether or not he would take it out if he had it, only the heavens knew.

However, there were no ifs in this world so that lady’s affliction was basically incurable.

That sounded cruel but such was reality.

Within Pei Yan’s tent, the physician was in the midst of checking her pulse. Judging by his ever darkening expression, the situation clearly wasn’t good.

“How’s Yannie.” The white bearded elder asked anxiously.

“Tribe Leader, this old bag of bones has done his best already.” The physician gently sighed before continuing, “Young Missus’ body had always been extremely weak so this old bag of bones suggested that Young Missus attempt a fortune bathing. The intention was to see if a miracle would happen, however, it seems like there’s no longer a need for that.”

(TL: Fortune Bathing: (not an official translation term), the superstitious belief that marriage can cure illnesses and disease. The idea is that the fortune you gain by marrying a person will wash away such misfortunes.)

“How could this be.” Hearing that, the white bearded elder collapsed to his knees, face as white as a sheet. Yannie hadn’t even gotten married yet so how could she just depart like that.

“Fortune bathing, that’s right, fortune bathing!”

At this very moment, all the old man could think about was the marriage. Everything else didn’t matter to him at all as he set his mind to this decision and sent out the order.

“Men.”

“We’re here.” A few burly men entered the tent.

“Fetch the Young Missus’ bridal gown, tonight will be Young Missus’ wedding. Also, make sure you watch those two.”

“Understood.”

At the side, Ming Cheng was visibly concerned about the order that was just sent out. “Tribe Leader, isn’t this rather inappropriate. That teen, Ning Fan, is really formidable. It might be better if we don’t offend him.”

“All that doesn’t matter now, Yannie’s marriage is the most important issue now.”

Regarding what had just transpired that in that tent, Ning Chen naturally had no way of knowing what was about to befall them. At that very moment, he was still lazing about while he waited for his wheelchair to be finished.

He sat there all day watching his shadow slowly change from pointing east, to the south and finally to the west. Yet, just as he was about to go mad from the boredom, he suddenly noticed the strange mood in the settlement.

There were a multitude of Steppe women hurrying back and forth, hands laden with a variety of objects of which Ning Chen identified a bunch of them as being decorations normally reserved for festivals.

At first, he didn’t think much of this matter but as he mulled over it further, he began to realize that something wasn’t right. Suddenly, a thought occurred to him that made his jaw drop to the ground.

‘No way, could it really be a forced marriage?’

Things had really blown up now and Ning Chen had a headache thanks to that. To think that Grand Xia’s Prince Yan would actually face a forced marriage, would anyone believe it even if he revealed this matter.

“Little Brother Ning, your wheelchair’s ready.”

Just as he was mulling over this matter, the loud voice of Ah Hu boomed from a distance away, cutting through the incessant banging of Ning Chen’s headache right in the nick of time. Hearing that, Ning Chen couldn’t help but rejoice silently. Now they could quickly flee this settlement.

The moment he laid eyes on his new wheelchair however, he almost cried. He was wrong…he shouldn’t have believed that Zhang Fei knew embroidery.

How was that even a wheelchair? Ning Chen griped to himself. That was clearly a chair with wheels attached to it.

“Thanks, Big Brother Ah Hu.” Ning Chen thanked the man through gritted teeth.

“Little Brother Ning is too kind.” Being a dense man, Ah Hu happily accepted the teen’s gratitude.

Ning Chen gingerly lowered himself onto the wheelchair and after ensuring that it wouldn’t break apart right away, finally heaved a sigh of relief. ‘Well, it will do for now, I’ll get another one when we reach the royal capital.’

“Big Brother Ah Hu, what are they rushing about for?” Ning Chen pointed at the bustling girls and asked in a soft voice.

Hearing that, Ah Hu glanced to his left and right before promptly lowering his head and whispering, “I’ll tell you, but don’t say that I’m the one who told you.”

“Of course.” Ning Chen nodded his head like a baby chick pecking on corn.

“I heard that wife of mine say that Young Missus Pei Yan has fallen gravely ill. The tribe leader plans to hold a fortune bathing for her tonight.”

“Sh*t, is that true, you aren’t bluffing me right?” Ning Chen purposely put on a shocked look as he exclaimed.

“Who would lie about such a matter? It’s definitely true.” Ah Hu thumped his chest as he said that with a gesture that was just shy of an oath.

“Big Brother Ah Hu, you should go back for now, I won’t tell anyone that you were the one who told me so.”

Satisfied, Ah Hu left for his own tent. Without wasting another second, Ning Chen immediately wheeled himself to Prince Yan’s tent and upon entering, he started with: “Senior, Ah Hu informed me that they are going to force the marriage upon you, should we flee?”

From the center of the tent, Prince Yan blandly swept his eyes over Ning Chen before saying, “So that’s the solution you came up with after one day of thinking?”

Hearing that, Ning Chen felt a little ashamed but after giving it some more thought, ‘Wait, that’s not right, I’m not even the one who caused all this so why should I feel ashamed?’

“Hurry up, surround the tent and don’t let them escape.”

It was then that the men of the Steppes arrived, announced by their unique boisterous shouts and hurried footsteps. From the sounds they made, there had to be at least a hundred of them.

“I guess it’s too late for us to run anyway.” Ning Chen sighed helplessly amidst a worsening mood. Why he did always end up in fights day and night?

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