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117 A Boiling Hot Towel

Chapter 117: A Boiling Hot Towel
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn

After hearing the analysis, Chen Pipi was startled at first, then furious, feeling that his pride was hurt. He scowled at Ning Que gloomily, neither approving nor disapproving, and reprimanded him in a cold voice, "What a bunch of nonsense! Small potatoes like you, I could easily crush you to death. Do not flaunt your little tricks in front of me!"

The large-figured prodigy put on a solemn look, oozing an air of scorn, while Ning Que appeared composed and fearless. Leaning against the wall, smiling, he asked suddenly, "Have you ever killed someone?"

Chen Pipi parted his lips slightly, planning to rebut with some arrogant words, which yet could not come out, only to find himself searching his toes.

Ning Que observed him interestingly, and continued, "How about a chicken then?"

Chen Pipi bent his head with his hands folded back, and his mouth tightened into a line, refusing to answer. He wriggled his stout figure to and fro, like an embarrassed child whose pride had gotten hurt.

Ning Que started laughing, then sighed. "I presume you might have killed some ants by accident when crossing a road. A pair of hands as delicate as yours, I'm afraid, have probably never touched a single drop of blood… Do not imitate others to make a bluff, as it merely has a reverse effect, that is, to make one laugh. Another thing to remember, do not go around talking about me."

Having had a good lesson, Chen Pipi covered his face with his sleeves, and left in embarrassment.

...

...

It was early in the morning and Ning Que could still make it for his lessons, but he had barely struggled back to life, and was fatigued mentally and physically. Hence, it might not have been the best time for him to pretend to be a diligent student. He vaguely recollected that the female professor would ask a leave for him, so he decided to have a rest back at Lin 47th Street.

Availing himself of the big black umbrella as a crutch, the seriously injured lad walked slowly out of the old library, like an old man with a stoop doing morning exercises. He strolled leisurely along the skirts of the wetland in the morning sun rays, and out of the front gate of the Academy.

Outside of the plain-looking stone gate was a stretch of green meadow that was like a big felt blanket, in which dozens of slate-paved carriage lanes were partly visible, and farther along was a large collection of blossoms. When in mid-summer, the blooms would give way to exuberant leaves and small fruits.

At the far end of the meadow, driving lanes, and trees stood a carriage, which had been waiting for a while, and even the horse lowered its head tiredly. Next to the horse squatted a little servant-dressed girl, who had not had a wink of sleep for a day and a night. Her swarthy little face appeared greyish-pale out of exhaustion and worry, as though it was applied by one of Chenjinji Cosmetics Store's powders.


Yesterday morning, Ning Que did not return in the wake of killing, and some serious-looking local-government runners came and made some inquiries. The clatter of hoofs of the Yulin Royal Guards on the streets told Sangsang that something had gone amiss. She forced herself to suppress all of her uneasiness, and waited in silence in the Old Brush Pen Shop. The carriage which took Ning Que had not yet shown up and, eventually, she felt she could not wait any longer.

Inquiring of a coachman, Sangsang was assured that Ning Que had left with a carriage to the Academy, and contemplating a while, she then produced 10 silvers and asked the coachman to take her to the Academy. From then on, she hunkered next to the carriage and meadow, silently waiting.

She was not informed of Ning Que's condition, yet was quite sure that he was seriously wounded, and that he might have hidden away somewhere to cure himself. She did not dare to fish information from instructors or students, so waiting was all she could do.

Sangsang squatted beside the trees, watching the gate go from being shrouded in darkness, to being shone on by the rising morning sun; watching lights go on and off in study rooms; watching an army of ants come and go in front her shoes; watching people walk in and out of the Academy; and hearing the loud chants of the students. Nonetheless, there was no sight of her young master.

Some students came with carriages and saw the maidservant of Ning Que squatting beside the lane. They, mostly out of curiosity, had come to her for a chat. She gave no comments, only looked in the direction of the gate of the Academy.

Sangsang saw the person she longed to see after watching the whole night, which she felt was almost as long as her entire life.

She rubbed her sore eyes, and her little pale face was gradually suffused with color. She closed her eyes and held her hands in front of her chest, murmuring something, then propped herself up quickly. Her weak and delicate body almost fell over, as her legs were stiff from being in the squatting posture for such a long time.

Ning Que, holding the big black umbrella, walked slowly next to her, and peered at this familiar swarthy face, which was evidently worried and exhausted. All of a sudden, pathos arose from Ning Que's heart. Though they had been through countless situations traversing life and death, it was still worthy of a celebration to meet each other in the wake of his near-death experience.

Opening his arms subconsciously and trying to hug her, Ning Que just found that the little handmaiden had already grown a lot since they left the City of Wei, reaching the level of his chest. He paused for a moment, stretched out his hand, and rubbed her head instead.

Lifting her little face, Sangsang beamed.

Turning and walking toward the carriage, they supported one another, feeling connected, and said no more.

The coachman yawned, and was quite tired from a night's makeshift sleep in the carriage. He wearily raised his horsewhip and whipped into the air, and his left hand lifted the reins. The horse started heading forward, and the carriage slowly moved.

In the carriage, Ning Que said in a coarse voice, "I'm beat now, I'll tell you the whole story when getting back home. Remember to bring the sword."





Having arrived at Lin 47th Street, Ning Que, due to his serious injuries, had slept as if he was dead, not opening his eyes all along. Sangsang took out the Pu sword, put it into the big black umbrella, and fastened them onto her back. With the help of the coachman, they carried Ning Que together like a rice bag into the Old Brush Pen Shop, and tucked him into a quilt.

It was mid-summer, and the quilt was heavy and warm. Soon, Ning Que was starting to sweat, and finally awoke, not knowing how long he had slept.

Opening his eyes, Ning Que recognized it was his home, exhaled a sigh of relief, allying all the fear buried deep inside of him, which made his extremities a bit cold.

Staring at several glazed tiles on the roof through which some sunlight came in, Ning Que was quiet for a while, then suddenly said, "I mentioned to you a student called Chen Pipi… Take a note for me, as I owe him one. At some proper time or place, remind me to repay him."

Sangsang was pouring boiled water into a bucket and preparing to get him a shower, and did not expect him to be awake already. She went over and sat next to him, asking "But how to repay him?"

"Although I am not sure how he did it, he saved my life. I told you many times that your life and mine are of utmost importance in this world. Therefore, it is fine to repay him at whatever cost."

Ning Que looked at Sangsang's contemplating face, reminding her with a smile, "Of course, not at the expense of our lives."

"What on earth happened, young master?" peering at his pale cheeks, Sangsang gently asked.

"The tea specialist was a cultivator, and I was injured badly. I only recall that I fainted on the street, and I don't know what happened after that."

Ning Que was trying to recollect his memory of the strange incidents from yesterday morning until now, with a vague kind of feeling of when he fainted in particular. With a confused look in his eyes, Ning Que frowned and repeated, "Curiously, I have no idea whatsoever what happened.

"Cook anything, I'm famished." He did not enjoy being clueless about what had happened to him. As he could not figure it out, he just let it be, and gave it no more consideration.

Something clicked in Ning Que's mind at once, and he supplicated Sangsang like a beggar. "Could you not make noddles with fried eggs or with pig's large intestines, please? It is hot and they must have turned sour and bad… How about we treat ourselves better tonight given my serious wounds?"

Upon hearing this, Sangsang was feeling sorry, thinking to herself, "I am merely a handmaiden, how could I possibly shortchange you? I was only saving for your future marriage."

"I gave the coachman 10 silvers…"

She inclined her head, and continued softly, "While you were asleep, I asked for a bowl of pickled daikon from the antique landlady next door, and simmered it with a duck. It'll be ready in a moment. "

Finishing her words, Sangsang fetched a boiling hot towel and wrung it out, put it where Ning Que could easily reach, and then walked outside and wiped her little red hands on her apron.





"I gave the coachman 10 silvers." Sangsang meant to tell her young master that although she was inexperienced and frugal, she was by no means a maid who could not tell the severity of matters. She never said no when it came to something urgent.

Ning Que was lying on the bed, watching her little figure bustling around. Reflecting on the irritating tone in her earlier words, he could not help laughing. Sangsang saw him lying against the head of the bed, swiftly walked to the window and shut it, and commanded him to get more rest.

The light in the room was suddenly dim, except for a faint light shining through the glazed roof. With a warm candlelight lit on a desk, Sangsang was accompanying him quietly.

Watching the candlelight, Ning Que's smile gradually faded away.

Yan Suqing, the tea specialist, was a cultivator, which was the covert factor that considerably spoiled his plan. Were he not lucky enough, he would probably be dead by that lake. Then it would have been impossible to have the chance to run away to the street, let alone hide away in the Academy for a night and come across Chen Pipi, a swindler in West Hill.

During his unconsciousness, he was sure that something had transpired, otherwise, he could not explain how his wounds were healed nor the pain in his chest. However, he did not have the slightest clue of what exactly happened nor what Chen Pipi had done to him.

Ning Que could not think anymore, and was feeling very tired mentally and physically. He felt his body was a bit slimy as he had sweat earlier on, and wanted to clean up a bit. When he had almost reached the towel, his hand went stiff.

He suddenly realized that there seemed to be an invisible obstacle between his hand and the towel.