Sneezed a little Ming Yue. Walking through the frigid Northern Plains, her petite body still wasn’t accustomed to the perpetual coldness of North and begun to shiver. Seeing that, Ning Chen picked up her and promptly left the frigid wastelands.
The motive behind that detour through the battlefield was to plant the seeds of peace in her, now that it had been accomplished, there’s no need to tarry any longer. Hopefully, these seed would one day bloom.
Since he couldn’t change Fan Lingyue, all he could do was persuade the future monarch of the Mongols. The world had been scorched by the flames of war for far too long already, something had to change.
Crossing over the plains, the pair were now only a stone’s throw away from Xinchao pass. After rushing through the night, they finally reached their destination at noon of the next day.
Now that they were about to enter a populated region, he promptly put on the mask he prepared in the Steppes and instantly turned into a middle-aged man. Hand in hand, he openly entered Xinchao Pass with little Ming Yue in hand.
As of right now, the pass was guarded by Marquis Qinghe and would most likely be guarded him, the eldest military marquis in Grand Xia, till the end of the war.
Now that Grand Xia had already lost Yangui City, they couldn’t afford to lose the Xinchao Pass as well.
Stepping through its massive gates, the first thing he did was find lodging in an inn nearby after which he had the little girl craft another mask for him.
“Where are you going off to?” She asked out of curiosity as she continued working on the bad man’s mask.
“The military marquis’ manor.”
The elder marquis in Xinchao Pass was the father of Zhang Sun. Given how long he had been under the care of the Zhang Sun clan, he needed to at least pay a visit since he was already here.
“Oh.” Ming Yue nodded her head and said no more. The moment she heard the words military marquis, she knew she couldn’t follow.
“It’ll be fine.” He answered calmly. While he had heard that this elder marquis was rather old-fashioned, this bit of courtesy was required.
Now that the mask had been finished, it still needed another hour to dry. In the meantime, after careful consideration, he promptly picked up a brush and with jade pendant in hand, started painting it in ink. Checking that the entire surface was coated, he then lightly imprinted the pendant onto a piece of paper.
Standing by his side as he did that, Ming Yue couldn’t help but crease her brows in worry. Somehow, she just had this nagging feeling that things weren’t going to proceed smoothly for the bad man.
Noticing her concern, he reached out and gently ruffled her hair and saying in an equally gentle voice, “Don’t worry, everything will be fine.”
A while later, he took off the newly crafted mask and put on the previous one before walking out of the room.
“Wait for my return.”
As he left behind that last bit of instruction, his face couldn’t help but stiffen a little. He truly hoped that nothing would go wrong with this trip.
The temporary manor of the marquis in Xinchao was roughly two hours away from the inn. Midway through that journey, he ducked into a nearby deserted corner and swapped out the mask he had on. Stepping out of the darkness, he emerged as a average looking young man.
An hour later, Ning Chen finally arrived in the military marquis’ manor. Guarding the front of the manor were two soldiers dressed in their full combat outfit, back straight and posture stiff as they warily surveyed the surroundings.
“This one has a matter to discuss with the military marquis and requests for an audience. This one hopes that the officer would pass on this message for him.” At that, Ning Chen took out the letter he prepared and handed it over to one of the guards.
“Wait here for a moment.”
The guard accepted the letter and without wasting another word or trying to harass him, turned around and left for the manor.
A while later, the guard came back and in a respectful tone, said, “Sir Marquis requests your presence.”
Thanking the man, Ning Chen then stepped into the manor.
At the center of the main hall was the marquis seated quietly atop the main seat. He had a slightly wizened look, roughly that of a fifty year old’s, and yet he still had a strong dominating presence that seemed to pressure you just by standing before him.
“So you’re Ning Chen?” He swept his eyes over the young man before him.
“That I am.” Ning Chen nodded.
“You seem different from the portrait Wuyou gave me, how about you take off that thing on your face.” He flatly said.
“Hah, as expected, such petty tricks can’t fool Sir Marquis.” Ning Chen reached for his face and tore off the mask after which he promptly saluted the elder marquis, “Your junior, Ning Chen, pays his respect to elder marquis.”
“Not bad.” Marquis Qinghe nodded his head in approval.
“You are the one who abducted the little Great Khan, aren’t you?”
“I have two letters with me, one from His Majesty and one from Wuyou, have a look for yourself.”
As he said that, he flicked his wrists and both of the letters transformed into a ray of light and shot towards Ning Chen.
Ning Chen opened up his palm and caught the two of them. Flipping open the letters, he read through both, face placid as he did so.
The Xia Emperor’s and Zhang Sun’s attitude were basically known to him from the start so he wasn’t all that shocked by what he saw.
In his letter, the Xia Emperor made it abundantly clear that once he was discovered entering Xinchao Pass, he was to be apprehended immediately dead or alive. As for the little Great Khan, he had to be sent back alive to the Imperial City.
Zhang Sun’s letter on the other hand, was an indirect plea to spare his life as expected. Amidst the veiled words, she mentioned to persuade him, to the best of the marquis’ ability, to hand over the little Great Khan. Right at the very end, she exhorted her father once more not to use force.
In his hands were two starkly different letters, each representing the final will of the current Emperor and Empress of Grand Xia. To some extent, they were a misfortune for him yet at the same time, their existence were a badge of honor for him.
“So what are your thoughts on them?”
“I have none, their response was something I had expected from the start.” With a flick of his finger, Ning Chen sent the letters back to the marquis.
“Everything under these heavens belong to the Xia Emperor, his words are an edict.”
“Everything under these heavens belong to Grand Xia not the Xia Emperor, as for those whatever edicts, they mean nothing to me.” Ning Chen answered in a chilly voice.
“Treasonous!” Marquis Qinghe’s face immediately darkened. With an equally chilly voice, he yelled, “Men, capture this kid.”
“Understood.” At that, four soldiers rushed into the hall and surrounded Ning Chen.
“Elder marquis, I made this trip to greet your esteemed self because you are Her Majesty’s father. That bit of courtesy is only to be expected, however, it doesn’t mean that I will surrender quietly.” As he said that, he slowly enunciated each word, face growing darker with every syllable.
“Then let this marquis see how sturdy you are then, capture him.”
*shing shing* The four soldiers drew their blades and instantly, a strong bloodlust permeated the air. All of them were soldiers who had survived a hundred battles and were stronger than any old martial practitioner. Not only that, each of them was at least of the eighth-grade.
Eyes immeasurably grave, Ning Chen immediately took up his stance. Legs shifting, he sprang forward in a flash of shadow towards the nearest soldier. His arm shot towards to the Ink Sword which had been secured to his body by a sash till now, and in a shocking flash of steel, swung out at the soldier.
Blade met with sword. Using his unparalleled cultivation base, he forcefully pushed back the soldier by half a step. Yet at that same time, three other blade flashes were already rushing towards his unprotected back. With merely half a pace separating both of them, there was basically no escaping their deadly edge.
However, just when they thought that they had succeeded, the aura around Ning Chen began to freeze. Sword spinning around in a brilliant arc, he deflected two of the blades with astonishing speed. Unfortunately, that speed came at a price as the instant he did that, the overwhelming shockwaves generated lashed back at him and caused his blood and Qi to writhe in protest.
And yet there remained one last blade. At that, Ning Chen focused his Qi into his left sword finger and in a burst of True Qi, blocked the soldier’s attack.
Blade and finger connected in that instant but neither came out on top in the end as Ning Chen failed to dispel the blade Qi within the attack. A second later, his mouth was stained a bloody red as the blade Qi ravaged his innards.
“A Feather’s Flight, The One Sword of the Heavens and Earth!”
Once more, the sword as swift as a diving geese, rushed at the soldier who was driven back by half a pace. Immediately, a resounding boom echoed across the hall as the soldier barely managed to deflect the move which drove him back even further.
Having succeeded, he wasted no time in kicking off with his feet and escaping. However, it was at that moment that the marquis, who had been seated all this while, finally made his move. Transforming into a cyan light, he instantly appeared before the teen and stabbed between the latter’s brows with his finger.
Instantly, the surroundings exploded as if a giant sledgehammer had crashed into Ning Chen. His body was violently thrown back and he spat out a mouthful of blood that streamed behind his flying body.
Yet in that moment of fatality, he forcefully suppressed the burning pain in his body and with another kick of his feet, turned around and flew out of the marquis estate using the residual force from the strike.
“Catch him, I want him alive for questioning.”
“Understood!” The four soldiers rapidly left the estate after acknowledging the command.
Seeing them disappear, Marquis Qinghe swept his eyes over a dark corner in his estate before lightly sighing and turning around to leave.
Wuyou, your father has done all he can, everything else is up to him.
The moment he escaped the estate, he immediately put on his mask and in the midst of his gouts of blood, staggered into the crowds on the street.
Behind him, the four soldiers were hot on his trail and continued chasing him for over ten streets before finally losing sight of him in front of an inn.
“Search it.” One of the soldiers solemnly declared.
Seeing them shove their way into his inn, the manager initially wanted to stop the four soldiers but upon seeing who they were, he promptly shut his mouth.
On the second floor, within a certain room, a pair of doors were suddenly thrown open to the alarm of little Ming Yue. Only after seeing that it was Ning Chen, did she brief a sigh of relief.
“Some men will enter soon, help me cover my tracks.” He said in midst of the ever growing protests from his body.
“Alright.” She hurriedly answered.
Hearing that, Ning Chen rapidly ripped off his outer clothing and shoved them into a dresser at the end of the bed after which he hopped onto the bed.
A second later after those knocks, a soldier barged into the room without even waiting for little Ming Yue to open the doors.
“Off, Officer.” She stammered while taking a couple of steps back.
Noticing that it was a little girl in the room, the soldier frowned. He stepped into the room and gave the room a quick survey. Eyes sweeping left and right, they promptly locked onto the pale figure on the bed but after seeing that it was a middle-aged man on the bed, he left without suspecting a thing.
Right after he left, she went to close the door before checking in on Ning Chen. However just as she reached the bedside, Ning Chen vomited a mouthful of blood before heaving violently.
“What happened to you, don’t scare me like that.”
Little Ming Yue was completely distraught at the moment. Sleeves in hand, she continually wiped off the blood streaming down his mouth corners but no matter how much she tried, there was just no end to the blood flow.
That last strike from the marquis had no holds barred. However, it wasn’t like the marquis could hold back either; there were simply too many eyes in that manor.
Ning Chen pushed away the girl after which he sat upright and began meditating.
He honestly didn’t expect to survive back then. He had expected that the conversation would turn sour and that they might even part on unhappy terms. However, given his relation with Zhang Sun, the marquis shouldn’t react too extremely.
Never once did he expect such violent behavior from Marquis Qinghe.
In fact, he had honestly bought into that hostile reaction until that finger strike. Only after receiving a blow from the marquis did he realize that the marquis was merely putting up a show for those hiding in the dark.
There was no mercy behind that finger and yet it contained a wealth of other things as well.
Such as, the cultivation technique of the Zhang Sun clan and ten years worth of cultivation from the elder marquis himself.
That was the absolute limit his body could withstand for now. The elder marquis was at the peak of ninth-grade and perhaps even a half-step Xiantian expert. Ten years of his cultivation was more than enough to forcefully boost an ordinary man from nothing to the fifth-grade and above.
Within his dantian, the two Qi whirlpools continually devoured the boundless energies flowing through him. Thanks to that, his cultivation continued to skyrocket from late seventh-grade, seventh-grade peak, early eighth-grade, mid eighth-grade, late eighth-grade and peak of eighth-grade.
Just as his cultivation was about to break through into the ninth-grade however, Ning Chen forcefully halted the expansion of his Qi whirlpools and prevented his cultivation from breaking through.
He mustn’t break through now or his base would become unstable and that would affect his later cultivation.
A while later, Ning Chen slowly opened his eyes and sighed to himself, this favor from the elder marquis was simply too huge.