Chapter Twelve Sour Fruit, Blood On the Lips
Ding Ning looked at Song Shenshu’s wide eyes in his death and said softly, “One has to pay their debts, this is natural, there is nothing to be discontent about.”
Because he knew he had enough time, he was not in a hurry to leave this ship. He started to search through every pocket in Song Shenshu’s robes.
In a hidden pocket in the sleeve, he found several things. A notebook covered in writing, a wallet bag, a pill bottle, and two copper seals.
Ding Ning opened the notebook. He saw that it was all of Song Shenshu’s understanding of the Crimson Sun Divine Spell and his speculations about more advanced cultivation. He couldn’t help but shake his head and then shoved the book into his own sleeve.
The wallet was very light, but after opening it, Ding Ning saw countless Qin mica knife money 1 which glowed with light. This kind of coin was made out of the shells of the rare mica shells from the deep sea. It was a currency unique to the Qin Dynasty. One was worth five hundred gold.
Ding Ning did not think more of it and put it away.
The moment he opened the rough copper-colored pill bottle, he was surprised.
Lying at the bottom of the pill bottle was a bone-white pill that looked like a dead fish’s eye.
“Did you prepare to use this during a breakthrough? I had not thought you would prepare an energy gathering pill. Thank you for your vital energy and also your energy gathering pill.” Ding Ning said as he looked sincerely at Song Shenshu. He thought for a moment. After making sure he did not need those two tokens for the library, he once again used his fingers as a sword and stabbed the bottom of the boat.
A hole appeared through the wooden boards. The muddy water quickly rushed through the hole and entered the boat.
Ding Ning retreated out of the cabin. He pushed off with his feet and landed on a wooden pier half-sunken into the water.
This was the path he had chosen after observing for multiple years. At this moment, no one detected a thing. The corpse of a Qin Dynasty cultivator sank into the water with a black awning boat.
After Ding Ning passed through countless piers on the shore, there was finally noise of others in the surroundings.
Ding Ning walked along the dark alleys just like he did on his normal wanderings. But his breathing became slightly urgent. A rouge color appeared between his tightly-pressed lips. Ding Ning’s expression was extremely calm as he tasted the strong tang of blood in his mouth. He took out a copper coin and moved to a hawker in front of him to buy a skewer of candied hawthorn.
He bent his head slightly. As he carefully chewed the sour and sweet fruit, the fragments of the red sugar mixed with the blood between his lips, No one could detect a thing.
Thinking of Song Shenshu who sank into the muddy water with that ship, and the rough porcelain pill bottle lying in his sleeve, he felt he had not wasted his efforts these years. He received above-average returns which he was happy to think about. Yet when he thought of more matters, of those people who ended up with worse deaths than Song Shenshu, his nose felt sore. He wanted to return to that old matron’s tower and eat a warm oil pancake. But he knew he had more things to do.
The ship in the shadows completely disappeared below the water. Only a string of bubbles and some disturbed mud floated to the surface.
A wooden basin floated past the bubbles.
A man of forty-something with shoulder-length hair sat in the wooden bucket. He dressed like a fisherman. When he saw these unusual bubbles, this man’s expression turned cold. He looked around. After confirming no one existed in the surroundings, he paddled with his hands and had the wooden bucket float next to an abandoned pillar of wood. Then he easily pulled this wooden pillar stuck in the bottom of the river out.
The wooden pillar was heavy. Even though most of the pillar was in the water, the wooden bucket below him could not tolerate the extra weight and was almost level with the water surface.
He did not care about all. He pulled the pillar back to where the bubbles were rising and then prodded hard with the wooden pillar.
Listening to the unusual sound from below, he was sure there was a problem. He released the wooden pillar. In the next moment, the wooden bucket shot away rapidly, creating an astounding wave in the dark water.
After Ding Ning ate all the hawthorn, he swallowed the last taste of blood.
He continued to walk forward and did not circle back. Yet if someone had a complete map of the Fish Market, they would find that after he passed directly through an area, in the next fifteen minutes, he would circle around one area.
The sound of a wooden bucket rubbing against the rotting wood of the pier.
Ding Ning heard the sound coming off this street. He walked faster, passing through the noisy shops and then saw the man with loose hair walking from the hidden pier.
He silently followed that man with the loose hair. This was his plan of two birds with one stone.
Everyone knew this underground empire had to have a powerful ruler. But rare were the people who knew who the ruler was and what kind of person supported them.
Song Shenshu would come here once every month. He could hide from the eyes and ears of outsiders, but the people here would know his true identity.
An official of the dynasty, a cultivator, was assassinated here. This would cause some major waves. The person who discovered Song Shenshu did not come for the Fire Turtle Gallbladder in time would quickly realize something had happened to him. He would know that this accident would attract investigation from many people and cause a calamity. So he would use his fastest speed to tell the ruler of this place.
The man with loose hair dressed as a fisherman was in a heavy mood. He walked hurriedly with his head low, completely ignorant someone was following him from a distance. Ding Ning seemed to have a special ability that his figure would not appear at an angle the man with loose hair would be alerted.
The man with loose hair hurriedly walked into a pawn shop.
Ding Ning did not even go close to that pawn shop.
Over the years, he knew every corner of Fish Market except some secret paths inside residences.
He knew that this pawn shop had many courtyards behind it and three entrances. So he walked uphill to a place where he could see two of the entrances.
Suddenly, his brow imperceptibly furrowed.
Three figures appeared out of the corner of his eye.
The path the three figures took was especially muddy. He could even hear the slurping sounds of shoes stepping into the mud.
That muddy path was one of the entrances for the pawn shop.
There were not many people around Ding Ning so he turned and casually swept a look. With one glance, his eyes imperceptibly contracted.
There was a hunchback old man holding a black bamboo staff, a very short handsome youth, and a thick-browed young person dressed like a foreigner.
The hunchback old man walked at the front with his black bamboo staff. He turned at the intersection and returned.
That handsome young person and the thick-browed young person continued to walk forward and passed the alleyway below Ding Ning. Their figures flashed through the cracks of the roofs.
Ding Ning did not look at that old person or the two young people. He took a deep breath. A bitter smile appeared at the corner of his lips.
That old man, who appeared unable to straighten his back and would fall dead at any moment, and those two young people did not have cultivator presences.
Even realm five cultivators could not detect they were cultivators when brushing shoulders with them. But Ding Ning was sure these three were all powerful cultivators.
He recognized the hunched old person with the black bamboo staff. He had never seen the other two people before. He could not confirm which sect these two cultivators were from. However, he could feel the respect that hunched old person held towards the pair.
That hunchback old person would only hold this kind of respect to powerful cultivators.
These two young people were terrifying to control their energies to the point other cultivators could not detect them.
At this time, Ding Ning stilled slightly. He felt another domineering and ferocious presence. Following this presence, he saw a yellow canvas umbrella. A tall thin man held the yellow umbrella open as though he did not want any droplet of water to touch his body.
The umbrella covered his face. Ding Ning could only see that the joints of his hand were thick and strong.
This was clearly a cultivator.
Ding Ning knew more than most cultivators. Through that domineering and ferocious presence, he could easily pinpoint this person’s sect and history.
Looking at the path this person took, Ding Ning knew the corpse of another cultivator would appear in the wilds outside Changling today.