Wuxiaworld > Nightfall > 366 Cutting the Candle

366 Cutting the Candle

Chapter 366: Cutting the Candle
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn

He Mingchi walked out of the teahouse and looked at the flickering snowflakes. He felt that it was a little odd and gazed at the sky. Then, he turned around to look at the two upstairs before opening his yellow oiled-paper umbrella.

At the table by the window, on the second floor of the teahouse, Chen Pipi could not help but shake his head when he heard Ning Que say that the middle-aged monk had died because he was unlucky enough to have met him while he was in a bad mood. He said jokingly, "Wouldn't the Unknown Place have to send someone for you to kill when the two of you fight in the future?"

Ning Que noticed how he had phrased the sentence and looked at him seriously, "It seems that you really like my Sangsang?"

Chen Pipi said, "I would occasionally visit the Old Brush Pen Shop while you were away in the Wilderness. And I do quite like her for many reasons. One of them being that she is the successor of the Great Divine Priest of Light. We are after all from the same sect, which is why I am biased towards her."

Ning Que said, "If so, you have to help me then."

Chen Pipi said helplessly, "I must be mad to agree to your request."

"I don't understand how that middle-aged monk called Daoshi could find me when he had just arrived in Chang'an. How did he know that I would pass through that street? Someone has to give an explanation for this."

Ning Que stood up and left the teahouse. Chen Pipi shook his head and followed behind him.

...

...

The two came to the Reception Yard and passed through the dense bamboo forest. Cat Girl welcomed them happily and chattered on as she pulled on Ning Que's sleeves. She told him excitedly about the sights they visited in Chang'an and what they had eaten. Then, the female disciples of Black Ink Garden surrounded him.

The girls from the Great River Kingdom did not know who Chen Pipi was, but were welcoming towards him since he was a friend of Ning Que. Ning Que listened to the girls' description patiently and interacted with them with a slight smile on his face.

When they arrived in the depths of the inner courtyard, the disciples of Black Ink Garden scattered. They knew that Mr. Thirteen had come for the Hill Master and knew to leave the two alone.

All of them gave Chen Pipi a few strange looks as they left, wondering why the chubby boy didn't know anything about relationships, wanting to tag along with Ning Que as he went inside.

The environment of the Reception Yard was quiet. The lush bamboo forest appeared slightly bleak in winter, but it still had enough greenery. Some yellow bamboo leaves fell against the windowsill.

Mo Shanshan quietly looked at the yellow bamboo leaves on the windowsill. Then, she turned around, picked up a brush and wrote a stroke on the faintly yellow paper. The bristle tips fell as softly as bamboo leaves.


She looked up when she heard noises coming from the courtyard. An odd expression crossed her face as she had not expected Ning Que to suddenly visit. Moreover, she had not expected that he would bring the Academy's Mr. Twelve with him either.

Ning Que looked at the white garbed girl, sitting at the desk by the windowsill. He looked at her black hair cascading over her dress, her fluttering eyelashes and beautiful round cheeks, then suddenly felt an urge to turn around and leave.

He had spent a long time outside this small courtyard last night, watching the girl's silhouette at the window. Then he went to the lake and struggled for a long time. In the end, he had thought that his cold and unfeeling nature would help in making him emotionally prepared. However, he suddenly felt an unbearable void in his heart when she saw her.

This sense of emptiness was one that you would feel when realizing that a wonderful thing was passing by, yet you could do nothing about it. What's more, when a wonderful thing came, it had to be ruthlessly and stupidly rejected by him, at the risk of hurting the other person, bringing frustration and guilt. All of this made him feel remorseful.

He was flustered over his guilty conscience. As to whether there was any heartache hidden in the deepest parts of his heart, Ning Que did not reveal a trace of it and did not tell anyone about it afterwards. He pulled Chen Pipi to his side.

Mo Shanshan stood up from the desk and bowed at Chen Pipi before looking at Ning Que confusedly.

Ning Que coughed twice and cleared his slightly hoarse throat. He gestured for Mo Shanshan to sit and tried his hardest to smile. He said, "We will deliver a cross talk today."

Chen Pipi looked at him nervously. He asked, "What's a cross talk?"

Ning Que said, "Cross talking, is an art of speaking. It focuses on speaking, imitating, teasing, and singing."

Chen Pipi exclaimed with exaggeration, "So this is the case."

Although Mo Shanshan had lived in seclusion by the Ink Lake and was not concerned with the goings of the world, she was the smartest girl on earth. She could guess something from the way the two were behaving. She furrowed her thin brows and then descended into dignified silence.

Ning Que told several comic dialogues after that. He spoke, and wrote and acted. He did not care about the pauses between each scene and did not care if anyone understood him. He just continued talking. Chen Pipi had only heard some stories told by storytellers in the alleys of Chang'an, but had never heard of comic dialogues. He had never participated in any cross talk performance in primary school and did not know how to return the dialogue. Anyway, he just "mm-ed" and "ah-ed" throughout the performance.

"Why do I just have to say 'mmm' and 'ah'?"

"That's because you're the straight man and I am the comedian."

"But you said at the teahouse that the show was 30% joking and 70% playing seriously."

"I was joking with you."

...

...

Mo Shanshan hung up her delicate brush and looked at the two calmly. Her lips finally curled up and smiled when Ning Que said that he was kidding with Chen Pipi.

Chen Pipi had been noting her expression nervously, and finally relaxed when he saw her reaction. He said happily, "She smiled."

Ning Que looked at him and said seriously, "Thank you for your help, Senior Brother."

Mo Shanshan who was seated on the chair suddenly lifted her hand and pointed at Chen Pipi. She said, "Twelfth Senior Brother's straight... man acting wasn't very well practiced. So it wasn't funny."

Chen Pipi wiped the sweat off his forehead and said awkwardly, "I've just learned the part, please be lenient."

Mo Shanshan looked at Ning Que and said, "I liked it more when you said it alone."

Chen Pipi glanced at Ning Que and headed out without hesitating. He left the silent room for the shadows of the bamboo forest and the couple in it.

After a moment of silence, Ning Que said hoarsely, "Shanshan, you were right about what you said that day at the street..."

He had not managed to complete his sentence before sweat started to pour in buckets like a thunderstorm from his stiff body, thoroughly soaking his robes.

Mo Shanshan looked at him and her long lashes fluttered. She listened to his voice and suddenly stood up. She did not allow him to finish what he had wanted to say. Instead, she said softly, "Thirteenth Senior Brother, please."

Ning Que was slightly startled.

Mo Shanshan spread yellow bud paper on the desk, and weighed it down at a corner. She poured water into the ink slab and began to grind the ink. Then, she pointed at the brushes on the stand and said softly, "Choose one."

Ning Que did not know what she wanted to do, but silently chose the kind of brush that he normally used.

Mo Shanshan looked at him and said solemnly, "You promised me in the Wilderness that you'd write me loads of calligraphy pieces."

Ning Que thought about what had happened then. After a brief moment of silence, he replied seriously, "I will write as many as you want me to."

Rare mischievous expression spread on Mo Shanshan's beautiful face. She said jokingly, "You'll write as many as I want you to? So how about writing endless copies?"

Ning Que replied playfully, "Then I will never stop writing."

Mo Shanshan looked at him silently, "So write for me forever."

The doors of the room inside the bamboo forest of the Reception Yard remained tightly shut from day to dusk and never opened once. Ning Que discussed the art of calligraphy with Mo Shanshan and wrote her sections until night came with the need to light candles. The silhouette on the window became two people, and from the outside, it looked like two shadows joined as one.

The candlelight flickered and Mo Shanshan trimmed the candle wick with a pair of small scissors. Then, she walked to Ning Que's side and watched him write. She knew that he was very tired, but also knew that he did not need pity at this moment.

After all, he could not write forever, and she could not trim the candle wick twice. The door opened with a squeak and Mo Shanshan sent Ning Que to the door. Outside the threshold, they bowed at each other peacefully before saying their goodbyes.

When they straightened up, Mo Shanshan looked into Ning Que's eyes. Suddenly, she walked forward and stuck her face in his chest rather clumsily. She listened silently.

After a moment of hesitation, Ning Que hugged her and patted her back gently.

Mo Shanshan leaned into his chest silently. Then, she said, "You still owe me a note."

...

...

Ning Que coughed violently and painfully after leaving the Reception Yard. It seemed that he could not lower the volume of the cough even if he held a handkerchief to his mouth.

Chen Pipi knew that he was beyond exhaustion and had been severely injured in the battle this morning. He had been waiting for him outside the courtyard. When he saw him coughing he could not help sighing, "You were already heavily injured, but came to do something so emotionally and mentally draining. Isn't that injuring yourself even more? Why would you do this?"

Ning Que smiled and stuffed the handkerchief back into his sleeves, not saying a word.

Chen Pipi caught a glance of the specks of blood on the handkerchief and spoke after a brief silence, "Would the Calligraphy Addict be more touched if she knew that you were heavily injured and were coughing up blood?"

Ning Que shook his head and said, "I had already made a decision, so she doesn't need to be moved by this. The result would only amount to make me happy. It's despicable."

Chen Pipi patted his shoulders and said, "Let's go drink."

Ning Que asked, "When did you start liking alcohol?"

Chen Pipi said, "Second Brother heard that you need alcohol at this time to feel better. That's why he went to borrow two bottles of alcohol from Professor Huang He. We shall go drink it now."

Ning Que laughed and could not help but be touched by the fact that someone like Second Brother would be concerned about such things in life, and that Chen Pipi would accompany him throughout.

But the night was better spent alone.

Ning Que rejected Chen Pipi's suggestion to drown his sorrow. Instead, he decided to return home and rest. However, when he reached the entrance of Lin 47th Street, he suddenly remembered that Sangsang was still at the Scholar's Mansion. The Old Brush Pen Shop was as silent as a cemetery and the bed was as cold as a grave. He turned around silently after a moment.

It didn't take long for him to reach the Building of Pines and Cranes. He asked for the fanciest banquet because he had wanted to do something meaningless even if he didn't want to get drunk.

...

...

-