Marquis Qinghe’s loyalty towards Grand Xia had never been in question before. This elder marquis was christened a marquis by the previous Emperor and had since spent his life guarding the territories of Grand Xia from his post in these desolate hinterlands. Without a doubt, his work was hard and his achievements high and yet never once did he complain.
The peace of Grand Xia was won by the fearless fighting of generations after generations of military marquis.Given the excessive vastness of Grand Xia’s territories, its lands would’ve been trampled to nothingness long ago by the other dynasties had it not been for these military marquis.
As the only surviving military marquis of the previous generation, Marquis Qinghe’s renown couldn’t be matched within the empire. On this point alone, the head of the ten military marquis couldn’t compare to him.
However, the recent actions of the Xia Emperor had truly chilled the heart of this loyal elder marquis.
Within the military marquis estate, Marquis Qinghe stood in the center of the main hall, gazing over the four soldiers he sent out with a stern look on his face. Kneeling right before the elderly marquis, all four of them had a look of shame on their faces.
“You’ll be docked three months worth of pay, you may leave now.” He flatly declared.
“Understood!” The four soldiers stood up and saluted him before promptly leaving his sight.
After they left, Marquis Qinghe turned to gaze at the outside of his manor. As he did so, a deep sense of fatigue flashed across his otherwise calm pupils.
The once invincible empire of Grand Xia had actually fallen to the point where it had to rely on a young man to survive, truly lamentable, truly laughable.
Based on what Wuyou told him, that Ning Chen had sent word of the Northern Marquis’ betrayal to the Imperial City long before that fateful battle. And yet, who would’ve thought that the Xia Emperor would stand idly by and watch the city of Yangui get massacred like that just to lure out the rebelling factions in Grand Xia. In the end, over 170 000 soldiers and millions of civilians were massacred by the Mongolian army.
It wouldn’t be a stretch at all to say that half of the blame for Grand Xia’s current predicament laid with the Xia Emperor’s actions.
As a subject, he had to be loyal to the Xia Emperor. However, even more so, he was loyal to the empire of Grand Xia which he had protected all his life.
What that teen had done was made clear to him already. The marquis was extremely cognizant of the fact that Grand Xia would be in an even more precarious situation had it not been for that teen’s actions.
He trusted his judgement and even more so, he trusted his daughter’s ability to judge a person, thus, he was willing to take this bet.
At his age, ten years of cultivation wasn’t worth much anymore. After all, there was no chance of him stepping into the realm of the Xiantian within this lifetime so he might as well help this young man. He just hoped that his decision resulted in a chance at new life for Grand Xia and not calamity.
Naturally, Ning Chen wasn’t aware of what the elder marquis was thinking right now but he knew that the debt he accrued, it was something he would never be able to return.
Ten years of cultivation wasn’t something any martial practitioner would give up lightly, especially not for someone at such an advanced age like the elder marquis. Losing ten years of cultivation was definitely a huge blow for his vitality and it might even damage his cultivation base permanently.
All this while, Ming Yue had been by his side quietly watching over the teen. From start to finish, the worry on her petite little face had never once lessened.
“I’m alright now.”
Awakening from his meditation, he gently ruffled her hair.
His body’s injuries weren’t light, there was no doubt about that. However, compared to what he gained just now, those injuries were truly nothing.
Now that his presence was made known, this inn was no longer safe to stay in for long; the both of them needed to leave as soon as possible.
That single session of meditation had eaten a sizeable amount of the day, by now, the skies were already starting to turn dark. However, that ended up being a good thing for Ning Chen.
This time each day was when those who left early in the morning and returned at night returned home. Because of that, the streets were packed with people and when one added in the dim lighting, there was hardly a better time than now to escape.
Having made up his mind, Ning Chen threw on his outer garments and walked towards the room exit with little Ming Yue in hand.
Along the way, the back and forth of the passersby provided the perfect camouflage for the pair as they discreetly travelled within the center of the crowd. It wasn’t long before they disappeared completely into the night.
For the next two days, Xingchao Pass was placed in a state of high alert especially in the areas where Ning Chen appeared. Those areas were thoroughly searched by soldiers over and over again.
Unbeknownst to everyone however, Ning Chen had already left the pass with little Ming Yue and was in another city 300 li away. Furthermore, this pitstop of theirs ended up taking five days.
His injuries were something that couldn’t be put off any longer and needed quiet rest. Also, he needed time to quickly cultivate the techniques imparted to him by the elder marquis.
Said techniques belonged to the Zhang Sun family’s martial system of which included, their cultivation technique and skills. He wasn’t lacking in cultivation techniques because of the scrolls, instead what he really lacked was the cultivation method for different skills.
Within the Zhang Sun family’s martial system, there were hardly any sword skills; the elder marquis and Marquis Taiping weren’t people who practised the sword either.
Thankfully, it wasn’t like Ning Chen had to learn sword skills only. He wasn’t a sword fanatic like Prince Yan so as long as the skill was usable, he didn’t mind learning it.
In the martial path, the biggest taboo was to rush through one’s training in pursuit of short term success. Because of that, Ning Chen didn’t dare to learn too many skills and only chose the one and only sword skill imparted to him along with one other palm skill from amongst the three palm skills imparted by the elder marquis.
The elder marquis himself only imparted these four skills to him probably out of concern that he might, in a moment of youthful rashness, choose to learn too many skills and ruin himself.
No matter which martial system it was in this world, they all had their own unique meridian circulation method. While recovering from his injuries and cultivating, it ended up taking five days for him to even grasp the basics of those sword and palm skills.
Five days later, Ning Chen left the city with Ming Yue once more. Right now, the first thing they had to do was get to Heaven’s Gate as soon as possible.
Another three days passed and the both of them finally found themselves within ten li (5km) of Heaven’s Gate.
Gazing at the awe-inspiring fortress before him, he knew in his heart that this was the last problem obstructing his path.
Forcefully breaching it was definitely not an option. Knowing Fan Lingyue, she would’ve definitely left behind a true expert so trying to use force was merely a quick way to die.
The only other option then was to scale the Qizhou Mountain Range flanking this majestic fortress.
The Qizhou Mountain Range spanned nearly 10 000 li and forcefully cut the territories of Grand Xia right in half. Heaven’s Gate was built on the gentlest region along these nearly impassable mountain range. Even so, it cost Grand Xia countless resources and manpower in order to construct it.
These mountains were in every way, a very primal region; hardly anyone dared to set foot there. However, Ning Chen had no choice in this matter.
“Are you afraid?” Ning Chen asked while looking at the little girl beside him.
“No.” She firmly nodded her head. She was the Great Khan of the Mongols, how could she be frightened by such a small obstacle.
“Good girl.” He gave her a big fat thumbs up.
As he said that, the pair took their first steps on their journey to cross the Qizhou Mountain Range.
For the most part, the mountain roads were rocky and each step was incredibly difficult. The little girl’s constitution was still extremely weak and would tire out after a few steps. Thus, Ning Chen ended up carrying her most of the time.
As a primeval region, the vast stretch of lands hid countless secrets amongst their undulating hills and towering ancient trees which blocked out the sky and sun. It almost seemed like this mountain range was a giant time capsule.
It was almost a sacred ground of sorts. All over, one could feel the accumulation of the essences of the heavens and earth themselves, nourished by tens of thousands of years of existence. From time to time, one could hear the roars of some giant beast or the long screech of hundreds of birds.
The forests teemed with the aura of life and all around, one could feel the primordial energies rise, fall, light up and grow dim. Their source was boundless, mysterious and also, unpredictable.
Above the two of them, the cold moon shone brightly over the lands and the biting cold winds of the mountains blew through the night. Around them, the trees and leaves rustled eerily in the night. Even with the thunderous roars of the various beasts, that sense of ancient loneliness couldn’t be dispelled so easily.
“Are you cold?”
“I’m not.” She shook her head lightly while hugging onto his back. The bad man’s body was really warm and she was layered up pretty well too.
“If you’re tired, it’s alright to take a nap. We still have a long road ahead of us.”
“Mhm.” She answered though she had no desire to sleep at all. Behind him, her large eyes shone in the night like a pair of glittering pearls.
“How about I tell you a story?” He suggested. Seeing that she didn’t intend to sleep, he made that suggestion out of fear that she would grow bored.
“How about I tell you the story of Snow White.” As he said that, he did his best to try and recall the fairy tale. It had been years since he told this story and who knows if he could even remember it at all.
“Once upon a time, there was a king…”
The start of the story was a rather ordinary one, the middle a complicated one full of plot twists and the ending a happy one. It was a children’s parable that contained the standard prince, princess and villian. Given Ning Chen’s ability to turn a dead man into a living one with his glib tongue, retelling such a tale was piece of cake for him.
All throughout the story, she listened with rapt attention to each of his words. Seeing that, Ning Chen couldnt’ help but chuckle to himself. At the end of the day, she was still a little girl.
“Doesn’t Fan Lingyue seem like that evil Empress?” Taking advantage of this moment, he tried to paint a villainous picture of that conniving woman in little Ming Yue’s mind.
“You’re the one who is bad, Big Sister Lingyue is the good person.”
Unfortunately for him, little Ming Yue’s ability to distinguish right from wrong was a lot stronger than he thought. All it took was a split second before she discovered his intentions after which she refuted him with a pout on her lips.
Seeing that, he rubbed his nose in resignation. Looks like the strategy had failed, he would have to revisit it later on.
“If Fan Lingyue and I were to fall into a lake, who would you save first?” Not willing to give up, he pulled out another killer move.
“Big Sister Lingyue!” Was her immediate answer.
“Hmph, all that doting for nothing.” Couldn’t she have at least taken some time to hesitate a little?
“Your martial skills are so formidable, I’m sure you can last a long time in there. Big Sister Lingyue doesn’t know any martial skills so I must save her first.” Ming Yue explained while gripping tightly on the bad man’s arms.
“Hah.” Ning Chen could only chuckle lightly at what he heard. If Fan Lingyue didn’t know martial skills, then the whole world had no martial practitioners at all. That one palm strike from her almost sent him to heaven.
However, he mustn’t divulge such matters to her.
“How about you tell me a story instead?”
“I don’t know of any.”
“How about I tell you a joke instead?” Ning Chen smiled strangely as he said that.
“Once upon a time there was a eunuch.” Ning Chen opened up with that sentence but abruptly ended there.
“What about the lower half?”
Hearing that, she was stunned. It ended up taking a long while before she finally came to her senses and gave the teen a tiny smack, face beet red as she did so.
“You’re a bad man!”
“Haha, it’s just a joke.” He lightly chuckled before continuing: “How about I tell you another one?”
“No, I want to listen to a story instead.” She pouted.
“What would you like to listen to?”
Giving it some thought, she then said,” How about you tell me about your story?”
She knew that there weren’t many people in this world worthy of Big Sister Lingyue’s attention. Seeing as this bad man was so formidable, he had to have a lot of stories to tell.
Hearing that, Ning Chen didn’t refuse either. So she just wanted to listen to a hero’s story? That so happened to be one of his specialities.
“Once upon a time, there was a young, handsome, dashing, kind and adorable teenager who entered the palace…”
It was an extremely long story, mostly because a certain shameless teen added a ton of hyperbole into the story. The end result was that what was originally a page worth of content ended taking over two hours to tell before he reached the point where he fell off the cliff.
“You have no idea how big that bird ,which I saw when I fell off the cliff, was. A single wing alone spanned over four to five zhang.”
As he said that, his voice rose and took on an excited tone and yet it was mercilessly interrupted by little Ming Yue, “You’re lying, how could there be such a giant bird?”
“While everything else I said might have been exaggerated, I can guarantee that was the one thing I didn’t exaggerate, then…” Just as he was about to continue explaining, a sudden roar boomed across the horizons. Instantly, his calm face sank.
Looks like there was no longer a need to explain!
Synopsis: The online game <