Nightfall Chapter 756 1
Ginkgo leaves were scattered all over the ground just like those words.
The two stood on the bridge silently.
Ning Que said, “You are Eldest Brother’s sworn sister and my friend. The Master of Calligraphy allowed you to leave Mogan Mountain because he knew that your helping the Tang Empire would mean helping the Great River. No matter what, thank you for your efforts.”
Mo Shanshan looked a little lost. She asked, “What do you plan to do?”
“I am going to take a good nap.”
Ning Que said, “I am neither Eldest Brother nor Second Brother. I will die if I don’t sleep. I am so sick of looking at this city for the past two days that I need to relax a little.”
Mo Shanshan said, “Then go and rest… but please don’t start feeling defeated or try to escape. Think about why you sat by the lake for half a day when Monk Guan Hai challenged you.”
Ning Que thought of that moment and smiled.
After that, he made a detailed drawing for Mo Shanshan and explained the God-stunning Array to her. Then, in an irresponsible manner, he left her behind and headed to the Spring Breeze Pavilion in the Eastern City.
He didn’t really go to take a nap, neither did he go to the Yanming Lake to stare into nothingness.
The court had just calmed down and Li Yu was still locked up in the Princess’ residences. Many ministers were still in conflict with Ning Que and even strongly disliked him. Therefore, it was inconvenient for him to be in close contact with the palace.
Whenever he needed to find out about the court arrangements and communicate with the Empress, he had to do it through the Chao Mansion at the Spring Breeze Pavilion.
In the Chao Mansion, he received the latest military orders and military intelligence sent by various states and counties. Looking at the various war matters recorded in the military intelligence briefing, his face grew solemn.
The Southern Army was still on its way. There was still no news of the battle between the Western Army and the Yuelun Kingdom in the Pamir Mountains. The Northern Army, which was carrying out the most arduous mission, was struggling to withstand the attack of the Golden cavalry. Although the number of Northern Army troops in the town was close to what it had originally been, it was not simple to revert the situation.
The most troublesome thing now was the war situation in the east and south, especially in the south.
The West-Hill Divine Palace led hundreds of thousands of troops from Qinghe County to the north. Ning Que, whowas in Chang’an seemed to be able to see the image of their war banners waving in the sky. He found it hard to imagine what they would do if they entered Chang’an.
His Senior Brothers and Sisters in the back of the mountain the back of the mountain of the Academy should be in the Verdant Canyon now. Were they well?
Could they still hold on? And for how many days?
Then, the prefectural magistrate of Chang’an City, Shangguan Yangyu and Qi IV arrived at the Chao Mansion.
Ning Que wanted to see them.
“The battle of Chang’an could be quelled so quickly because of Your Excellency. Your efforts will be recorded.”
Ning Que looked at the dodgy looking prefectural magistrate and said sincerely.
Old Lord Chao passed by the door with a cat in his arms. When he heard that, he looked at Shangguan Yangyu who was bending forward and said, “This lord is too modest.”
Ning Que smiled and said, “That is so.”
Old Lord Chao waved his hands, rubbed the cat on its tummy, and left.
Shangguan Yangyu said coyly, “Oh no, it is all thanks to the directions of Her Majesty and Mr. Thirteen.”
Ning Que said, “Her Majesty and I were still outside the city, when did we give you directions?”
Shangguan Yangyu said seriously, “You might not be here, but your aura was. I sensed…”
Ning Que motioned with his hand and said, “Forget it, I am not the Grand Secretary and am unused to hearing things like that. There are not many ministers in the court who would speak like you. Let’s save some time and dive straight into business.”
Shangguan Yangyu cleared his throat and said, “He Mingchi must have escaped from the Dongyang Gate. The department is conducting an internal investigation and has already arrested more than a dozen suspects. The Imperial Center Administration and the Southern Gate Temple have become much more honest. All the people who escaped from Qinghe County have been captured and are now temporarily detained.”
Ning Que knew that the Imperial Center Administration and the Southern Gate Temple’s recent good behavior had nothing to do with He Mingchi’s identity being exposed. It was because the parents of those cultivators were all guarded under house arrest by the Chang’an Local Government and the Fish-dragon Gang. Other than the truly cold-blooded, who would dare act rashly?
“The descendants of Qinghe County cannot escape the treason charges. Even though we have not tried them, why should we let them stay comfortably in their quarters? We should transfer them all to the prison.”
Ning Que said.
Shangguan Yangyu looked as if he was put in an awkward position. He said, “The government does not have the capacity to watch over so many people.”
Ning Que looked at Qi IV and said, “The Fish-dragon Gang must have plenty of prisons.”
Mr. Qi shrugged and said, “A few hundred people wouldn’t be a problem.”
Ning Que looked at Shangguan Yangyu’s expression and said, “Is there a problem?”
“I don’t have no problem with this, but there are many officials in court who might… have problems.”
Shangguan Yangyu said, “There are two opinions on how to deal with the families of Qinghe County. One is to trial their crimes as soon as possible and give an explanation to the government officials and the common people. Another opinion is that the children of those families who stayed in Chang’ an city should be allowed to live, so that we can use them as a bargaining chips in any future negotiations with the West-Hill Divine Palace.”
After a moment of silence, Ning Que said, “Those people have to die.”
Shangguan Yangyu asked worriedly, “What if those officials in court object to it?”
“Even if we have any future negotiations, there are some things that we will not negotiate.”
Ning Que said, “The problem at Qinghe County is something that we will not negotiate. Of course, it’d be a pity for those people to die now, so we should make them suffer.”
Qi IV said, “I’m rather skilled at that.”
Shangguan Yangyu said, “The government is somewhat more professional.”
Ning Que replied, “You guys can discuss and settle these small matters by yourselves. I asked you two over today because the Queen has made a decision to hand over the city gates and temporary law over to Your Excellency. The Fish-dragon Gang will be under your direction for the moment. Mr. Qi, please work together with His Excellency on this matter.”
Shangguan Yangyu knew that if he survived the battle, he would definitely get promotions upon promotions after the battle. However, he had not expected to suddenly wield so much power and was both excited and terrified.
Mr. Qi also felt that something was odd about this arrangement.
“Chang’an City is empty. If the West-Hill Divine Palace Coalition Army West-Hill Divine Palace Coalition Army… no matter which the enemy enters it through the gates, we will not be able to stop them. That is why you two have to make preparations in case the city falls.”
Shangguan Yangyu and Mr. Qi were both stunned when they heard Ning Que.
Just like all the other Tangs, they had never once thought that Chang’an might one day fall.
“Do not spread this information.”
Ning Que did not look at Qi IV, but only stared into Shangguan Yangyu’s eyes.
An odd light danced in his crafty triangular eyes.
Ning Que looked at him and calmly said, “If anything goes wrong, there won’t be a family named Shangguan in this world.”
While Ning Que might have said that he was going to rest, how could he when he was carrying such heavy burdens? Ning Que walked down the Vermilion Bird Avenue toward the southern gates. He sensed the slight changes in the Qi of Heaven and Earth and the blockages in the area. He grew more and more tired, and his footsteps grew even heavier.
When he arrived at the city walls, he looked up.
The city wall of Chang’an was as high as a cliff. It was difficult to see what was at the top when one stood on the ground.
His eyes were sharper than the ordinary person, so he could see the woman in a white dress.
Mo Shanshan was looking at Chang’an thoughtfully.
Just like how he had done so earlier.
Ning Que gave his thanks silently.
“The girl can recognize the Stone Array Tactics. Her talent in tactical arrays is indeed far superior to yours, but since our teacher handed Chang’an city into your hands, then I think you will eventually need to understand it by yourself.”
A young girl walked to his side and looked up at the wall.
It was rather odd to see a young girl of about 12 or 13 with black pigtails swinging at her waist speaking calmly and maturely, calling Mo Shanshan a girl.
She was the Grandmaster of the Devil’s Doctrine, and thus, she was qualified to call the Calligraphy Addict a girl.
“Senior Sister, I really can’t think of a solution.”
Ning Que said.
Yu Lian looked at him and said, “So you have already made plans for when the city is breached.”
Ning Que said, “I am used to worrying about failures before success.”
Yu Lian said, “Such considerations would not be an issue if everything is working fine. But the Tang Empire is about to definitely fall, so we have to only consider success and not failure.”
Ning Que did not understand.
Yu Lian said, “We can only consider how to attain success, not how to face failure.”
“But… if it is destined that we will fail, then how can we succeed?”
“Then we have to succeed before we fail.”
Yu Lian said, “The final ending of a war is decided by many factors. Perhaps Second Brother cannot hold down the Verdant Canyon, or perhaps the Northern Army will be defeated by the Golden. Or perhaps Chang’an might be breached. But as long as we gain victory over a single factor before all these failures, thenwe can stop all these failures from happening.”
Ning Que understood and said, “The deciding victory.”
“Indeed,” said Yu Lian. “How do you think the battle will end?”
Ning Que knew very well that the Tang Empire had suffered a severe setback right at the beginning and the gap between the two sides’ strength has been widened. Even if the Verdant Canyon can be held down and the God-stunning Array could be fixed, it was difficult to change the final outcome.
“We will probably still lose.” He said, “But I believe that there will not be many other countries still around when the Tang Empire falls.”
“That’s right. That is something that everyone knows. The royals and generals of other countries might be stupid, but they know this as well.”
Yu Lian said, “The Tang Empire and the Academy have already started to show their power. People are dying everywhere. I believe that things are bad in Chaoyang City of the Yuelun Kingdom. The internal strife in Yan Kingdom has crippled them. Who else is willing to die together with the Tang Empire?”
Ning Que answered, “I heard that the South Jin Kingdom Emperor has gone mad from the sorrow of losing his son.”
Yu Lian said, “If that Emperor wants to drag the entire South Jin Kingdom into his own cesspool of madness, there are still generals in the royal family. They will stop him because there are still more sane people.”
“Only the West-Hill Divine Palace is willing to pay any price to destroy the Tang Empire.” She continued, “Xiong Chumo is gone, both the Divine Priests of Revelation and Judgement may be severely injured or even die after the battle of Verdant Canyon. What else is left in the Divine Hall?”
Ning Quewas deep in thought.
“Days ago, Eldest Brother and I were considering a problem. How should we succeed in failure even if it was a temporary success and temporary calm? Then, we thought of this.”
Yu Lian looked at him and said, “The battle will end if we kill the Abbey Dean.”
Ning Que did not know what to say.
This was a correctinference. If it was known that the Zhishou Abbey Dean had been killed by the Academy, and the West-Hill Divine Palace had been weakened, their influence on the secular world countries would weaken. Then which other countries would be willing to be destroyed along with the Tang Empire?
Most importantly, if the Abbey Dean died, then Haotian Taoism would no longer be able to stop Liu Bai and the Sword Garret.
The problem was… the Abbey Dean had the most powerful cultivation state in the world after the Headmaster ascended to heaven. It was just as difficult to kill him as it was for the Tang Empire to win this battle.
Ning Que looked at her and said, “Did you stay in Chang’an and not go to the Verdant Canyon because of this?”
Yu Lian said, “I am not confident about defeating him because he is much more powerful than you and anyone in the world could imagine. He is unimaginably powerful.”
Ning Que knew that Eldest Brother’s Limitless State was close to that of the Abbey Dean’s. To him, no matter how powerful the Abbey Dean was, it was not as how his Senior Sister had described. As such, he felt a little puzzled.
Yu Lian said, “You’ll find out when he fights.”
Ning Que asked, “What can I do?”
Yu Lian answered, “Fix the city.”
Ning Que finally understood what Eldest Brother and Third Sister meant.
If Chang’an was breached, then they would be defeated.
If the Academy killed the Zhishou Abbey Dean before Chang’an fell, then they would be taking a step towards victory.
And when Eldest Brother brought the Abbey Dean into Chang’an, he would at least need to have fixed a part of the city.
The part where they would kill that man.
If he couldn’t do that, then he would no longer need to fix the city in the future.
This was the last night before dawn and it may also be the last step before the abyss.
Ning Que felt more and more stressed; he was so stressed he found it hard to breathe.
Soon night fell.
Mo Shanshan stood beside the city walls, her face reddened by the cold autumn winds.
She wrapped her arms around herself and looked at the light in the households in front of her. She suddenly seemed to have understood something.
However, that thought was fleeting and escaped her.
She furrowed her brows slightly and continued looking at the city.
Ning Que was also looking at the city.
He sat atop the Yanming Mountain and looked across the lake.
Across the lake, was a part of Chang’an.
His and Sangsang’s house was there. It was dark and empty because they had not lived there for a long time.
He looked at it for a very long time and thought of many things in the past.
Back then, he had received a challenge from Monk Guan Hai and had come here to think for a long time by the lake. Then, he had reaped plenty here.
Of course, most of the things in the past were related to Sangsang.
However, he did not gain any inspiration.
He was very tired.
He fell asleep in the cold night.
When he awoke, it was still dark across the lake.
Because the sky had brightened.
Sounds of vendors shouting and selling their wares traveled through the fog.
After the morning fog dispersed, the residential streets were enshrouded in mist from the Bun Shop.
The crowd grew.
So it was not that empty across the shore after all.
Ning Que looked over there and seemed to have caught something.
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