Wuxiaworld > Nightfall > 324 The Darkness That Was Like Blood in Tuyang City

324 The Darkness That Was Like Blood in Tuyang City

Chapter 324: The Darkness That Was Like Blood in Tuyang City
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn

Ning Que and Prince Long Qing were often brought up together in the same conversation by those in the cultivation world since they ascended the mountain behind the Academy. Even though most people thought that Ning Que was not as qualified, many have considered the two as the legendary sworn enemies.

In Ning Que's eyes, sworn enemies were a totally ridiculous term. For example, many thought that Master Lotus and Youngest Uncle were sworn enemies, and Master Lotus might even think so deep in his heart, which was why he was jealous and hated Youngest Uncle. However, Youngest Uncle was not even interested in the whole situation. In the end, it was just a matter of one's state. As long as one of the two was strong enough, he would have the right to disregard the other's struggles.

Why would you turn back to look at your friend and an enemy used-to-be on the path of cultivation who had expended many times of your efforts when you were already standing beneath the green pine at the highest peak?

Ning Que who was seated in the carriage at this moment did not know what Prince Long Qing had encountered. He knew that Prince Long Qing was crippled after he had shot the Primordial Thirteen Arrow. He was definitely crippled even if he were not dead. Prince Long Qing had grown up in the palace and was the handsome student of the West-Hill who had been protected by Haotian Taoism. He would not be able to disregard difficulties like Ning Que himself and meet obstacles with laughter and coldness before surpassing them.

He knew this very well, which was why he did not treat Prince Long Qing as a goal or an imaginary enemy after he had reached the peak of the back of the mountain of the Academy. No matter what happened to Prince Long Qing in the future, he believed that he would be able to defeat him many times over if he had defeated him once.

Ning Que lifted the curtains once more and looked at the foreign Tuyang City. He had once passed through the city in autumn together with the students from the Academy as they headed to the frontline to practice. However, Xia Hou had not met with the students of the Academy and they had rushed by in a hurry. He did not take notice of the scenery of the city then and looked at it with interest this time as it held a special place in his heart.

Tuyang City was where Darkie had once lived and fought and Darkie was his first true friend in the first half of his difficult life. He looked at the grains lining the sidewall, and the strangely arched walls of the city. He recalled the letter he had received from a distant place back when he was in the City of Wei and remembered that Darkie had once mentioned these places to him and also what he had done there.

Darkie was dead. He had died in that cold spring rain beneath the grey walls opposite the Old Brush Pen Shop. Ning Que looked at the scenery outside the windows and thought of the person he would never meet again. He felt rather odd.

Eldest Brother and Mo Shanshan looked at him silently and could tell that his emotions were all over the place. However, they did not know the true reason for it and thought that it was because of their imminent visit to the General's Mansion to meet Xia Hou. They thought that he was nervous thinking about what had happened with the Horse Gang on the grassland and the Tomes of Arcane.

"The Military Ministry can confirm Lin Ling's identity." Eldest Brother patted his shoulder and said warmly, "No matter whether Xia Hou would admit to what he had done, he would pay for his subordinate's sin of gathering the Horse Gang on the grassland to steal the army provisions."

Ning Que smiled. He did not really understand why Eldest Brother had brought him to Tuyang City, and was also not very certain what he had meant about paying for one's sins. He had already gathered enough evidence regarding the Horse Gang on the grassland. However, it was not sufficient to trouble Xia Hou. The attempt at stealing the Tomes of Arcane by the Hulan Sea and the urgent move to the Tang's frontier guards was not a sufficient reason to make him pay either.

The main gate of the General's Mansion was wide and heavy. The long streets were clean, and a long line of guards stood respectfully at the side. Compared to this, the horse carriage looked unkempt and deplorable.

The horse carriage did not stop outside the gates but drove into the General's Mansion instead. The guards were all very surprised and wondered which important person had come. General Xiahou was one of the most important men in the army, and not even those from the palace had the right to drive into the compound.

The person in the carriage must be really important to not stop outside the General's Mansion. Someone like Eldest Brother would rarely appear in the secular world, and even when they did, they did not appear for long. Should someone find out that he had come to Tuyang City, it would mean bad news for both the imperial court and Xia Hou.

The horse carriage continued into the depths of the General's Mansion and stopped by a patch beside the Winter Courtyard. A guard named Gu Xi invited the three into the courtyard. Ning Que looked at the man's back and shook his head suddenly.

General Xiahou met with them at the gates of the courtyard. His expression was calm, but nobody knew how he truly felt.

Some time had passed since the incident by the Hulan Sea. Now that they have met again, both parties have come to a silent agreement not to mention about the stealing of the Tomes of Arcane. They just greeted each other as if this was the first time they met.

There was a simple feast in the Winter Courtyard. There was no rumored monkey's head or other cruel and fancy dishes, and neither was there the legendary killing that General Xiahou used as a test for his guest's courage. Instead, there were only elegant dishes and three-grain porridge on the dark table. They ate in silence by the table.

Ning Que had a bowl of porridge and picked up some salted vegetables with his chopsticks. Then, he had another bowl of porridge and placed more salted vegetables in his bowl. He fiddled with his chopsticks for a moment before he raised his head suddenly and looked at Xia Hou who sat at the head of the table.

A word that interrupted the silence would indeed be like thunder.

And a glare in the silence was like lightning.

Staring at one's host was very impolite. As the Youngest Brother in the Academy, behaving in this manner when his Senior Brother was present was rather unreasonable. However, Ning Que had done it because he really wanted to look at this person.

Eldest Brother looked at him oddly before he smiled and continued eating. He seemed to feel that the porridge was much more interesting that Xia Hou, his Youngest Brother and the atmosphere in the room.

Mo Shanshan lifted her head and glanced at him puzzledly and worriedly. Her gaze drifted to the ice lakes and frost covered trees of the Winter Courtyard when she realized that Ning Que was ignoring her.

Xia Hou kept his head down and continued eating slowly and solemnly. It was as if he did not feel Ning Que's sharp eyes carving on his face as he kept his expression placid.

Ning Que looked at Xia Hou silently.

Xia Hou was completely different from the middle-aged man by the Hulan Sea. His expression was just as cold, his brows were just as dark and thick, and his lips were vibrant. However, his domineering aura was hidden beneath his ordinary outer robes from the world.

The seemingly ordinary outer robes were not an armor nor a military uniform. However, they were royal robes that the Tang emperor had put on him personally when he had returned victorious from war. His wearing the robes meant that he wasn't just a powerhouse at the Peak state of Martial Arts or even a bigwig of the secular world. He was the man who held the most power over the military.

Ning Que thought, that it would be difficult to have such a bigwig pay even if it was to the Academy.

Xia Hou continued eating his porridge slowly and solemnly. He was even slower than Eldest Brother. It was until a long time later did he finally complete his meal and raise his head slowly. He looked at Ning Que and asked, "Young sir, why do you keep looking at me?"

Ning Que smiled, and said, "Because the great general is powerful."

Nobody really believed what he said, but nobody would tear down this flimsy excuse either. Unless, of course, should Second Brother suddenly appear in the Tuyang City, or if someone was interested in judging the hypocrisy and impoliteness of both parties.

The dishes were removed and expensive black tea from Yanxi was brought to them. Xia Hou looked at Eldest Brother and said, "My sons are all useless and are suitable to present to you. I shall not call them forth to meet Mr. First."

Eldest Brother smiled lightly and sipped his tea slowly. He had never been willing to speak when it wasn't necessary because he knew that he spoke slowly and nobody liked to listen to him.

Xia Hou looked at Mo Shanshan over his cup of tea and asked, "Are you the Calligraphy Addict?"

Eldest Brother put down his teacup and smiled, "I have acknowledged Shanshan as my younger sister."

Xia Hou squinted in astonishment. He did not understand why the young Talisman Master from the Great River Kingdom had such a great Lucky Chance. After a moment of silence, he congratulated the two.

Mo Shanshan knew that the conversation that would follow in the Winter Courtyard would be about the internal matters of the Tang empire. She stood up and bowed and glanced at Ning Que before leaving to feed the Big Black Horse.

All were silent in the Winter Courtyard. There were only the scouring sounds of wind blowing the snow off the branches, like how arrow feathers brush by bowstrings or like mud splashing on hard armor on the battlefield.

Xia Hou looked at the tea in his cup that was as thick and dark as blood. He fell silent for a long time before he tossed his hand back and drank the tea in a single gulp. His robes fluttered in the wind and he looked casual and at ease, as if he had just drunk a hot cup of liquor.

The tea entered his throat like blood. His voice became chillier with an intent to kill.

"When Mr. Ke entered the Front Gate with his sword, my brothers in the Enlightenment Doctrine either died or sought death. They were displaced and led miserable lives. However, the Enlightenment Doctrine had always emphasized that the rules were set by the strong. That was why we did not hate or resent Mr. Ke. I was still a child then, and away from the strict governing of my family and teacher, I felt like a fish jumping over the sea and that the flower had bloomed on the shore astride. I was especially happy. I headed south to the Central Plains with my sister and met many great friends after entering the army of the Tang and was even happier. "

Ning Que did not look at him, but at his cup of tea before him. The tea in the cup reminded him of many things. He thought about that stone lion, the blood. He thought of another General's Mansion in the General's Mansion he was in now. Then, he was startled back into the present world by the voice. He frowned slightly, as he did not expect Xia Hou to openly admit his identity as one from the Devil's Doctrine right from the start.

"Those from the secular world call the Enlightenment Doctrine as those from the Devil. I am what's left behind the Devil's Doctrine. Mr. First is one of the core disciples of the Headmaster of Academy, and would certainly not mind. However, those of the secular world would. I have guarded the frontiers of the empire ever since my sister entered Chang'an. I have worked hard and become a general. However, the unexpected had happened, and her identity as the saintess was exposed. The West-Hill Divine Palace made a fuss about it. The Hierarch Lord sent an edict to the imperial court and the three Gods headed to the Min Mountain to bring me down."

Xia Hou looked at the black tea in his cup indifferently. After a pause, he said, "I had anticipated the imperial court's protection then, or that the Headmaster of the Academy would speak up for me. But the imperial court did not make any moves, and the Headmaster of the Academy did not say anything. I could only kill Mu Rong and betray the Enlightenment Doctrine, becoming a visiting professor of the Divine Hall and turned into a dog of Haotian. I did all of this just so that the West-Hill Divine Palace would not hurt the girl in Chang'an because I was of the Devil's Doctrine."