Chapter Eight The Sound of Silkworms in the Darkness
An ordinary carriage stopped near one of the entrances to the Fish market. Song Shenshu, dressed in common coarse hemp robes and a cloak, got off the carriage and headed into Fish Market, slowly moving deeper.
While the historical libraries of the Qin Dynasty contained many cultivation manuals, everyone knew the most important manuals of the Qin Dynasty were hidden in the imperial palace. The officials of the libraries usually did not have high status in Changling. They also did not have much battle service to lead to the possibility of promotion.
No one would pay attention to people like Song Shenshu who was over forty with grey in his hair.
But Song Shenshu was still extremely cautious.
He was very satisfied with his last decade of life. Even if he did not have his present position, he was satisfied that he could become a cultivator.
He recently had a new comprehension of his cultivation method. After he found a method to help him advance faster, he became more wary.
Countless events proved that the time one became a cultivator was not important, the most important was the time of their breakthroughs.
If he could reach the fourth realm this year, then the world ahead of him would suddenly become vast and full of possibility.
Walking on the path to the deepest part of the Fish Market, he still did not remove the cloak over his head. He followed a wooden path under several foot bridges to a dock.
A little black awning boat was parked on this dock.
Without any speech, Song Shenshu untied the curtain and stepped into the cabin. When the curtain fell behind him, he breathed out, took off his cloak and started to rest with his eyes closed.
Other than his temples which were turning white, he looked well, his face rosy and without any wrinkles.
The little black awning ship started to move. Song Shenshu felt extremely comfortable as he rested, swaying rhythmically.
Yet soon, he suddenly had a cold feeling in his heart.
The path the little boat was taking was different than usual. The outside noise grew smaller while the sound of water was constant. This meant this little boat was heading towards the most remote parts of the Fish market.
He suddenly opened his eyes and looked out through the gap in the curtain … … he saw the manservant in a straw cloak steering the boat. He was uncertain and asked coldly, “Is it due to the rise in water level that today’s route seems to be different than usual?”
“It is different than usual, but not because the storm caused a rise in water levels.”
Ding Ning, at the front of the boat, stopped. Je turned around and looked at Song Shenshu in the cabin.
His voice was calm and with faint scorn and pleasure.
Song Shenshu’s head immediately felt a wave of pain.
He certain sure he had never seen this handsome youth before, but he also found this youth’s appearance and tone odd. It felt like when he was meeting someone from his past after many years had passed.
This strange feeling caused him to not think about what the youth wanted to do. He wanted to know who the youth was.
“Who are you? You know me?” he tried to maintain his calm and asked softly.
Ding Ning nodded seriously. “Song Shenshu, fourteen years ago, a carriage driver of the Warden’s Office.”
Song Shenshu paled. That was something he never wanted to hear mentioned again. What shocked him even more was that only the closest people to him would have know of this.
“Who are you? What do you want?” he suppressed the growing terror inside and asked.
Ding Ning looked emotionally at him and softly said, “I am a debtor, coming to collect some debts from you.”
Hearing the words, and putting them together with some recent rumors, Song Shenshu’s hands felt cold. He opened his mouth and wanted to ask something else. At this age, the youth could not have any old grudges against him. Someone else must be directing this youth from the shadows.
Yet he did not have time to make a sound before the youth in front of him moved.
Ding Ning’s seemingly thin body suddenly exploded in a wave of power. The bow of the ship suddenly dropped and the stern forced up into the air.
His body nimbly burrowed out of his straw cloak, and he immediately entered the narrow cabin. Because he was so fast, that straw cloak still lingered in the air as he moved.
Song Shenshu’s breathing suddenly stopped. The index and middle finger of his right hand pointed out together, the other three fingers curled slightly. A red burst of vital energy flooded out of his index and middle fingers. Before Ding Ning’s hand touched his body, this burst of vital energy gently rushed into Ding Ning’s ribs.
In the moment Ding Ning moved, he had several choices.
He could flee from the boat, and make a great ruckus. The underground market had its own rules. The major factions in Changling would not allow people to break the rules here.
Yet in that moment, he concluded Ding Ning was a cultivator just barely in the second realm.
There was a natural and insurmountable gap between every major realm.
In realm three, vital energy was the product of physical energy, and primal energies of the universe. This was an innate and exponential difference between vital energy and physical energy. Also, he was not a cultivator who just entered the third realm. His vital energy had been cultivated to the point it was fluid and could leave his body. This kind of Realm Three first class cultivation meant that his vital energy had many abilities to deal with enemies.
So he subconsciously thought that Ding Ning was just a lure to attract his attention. More powerful cultivators would be hiding and waiting to give the fatal attack.
As a result, when he flooded that burst of vital energy into Ding Ning’s body as a seemingly gentle but ferocious attack, the majority of his attention wasn’t on Ding Ning, but the surroundings shadows, and even the mud and turbid water.
When his vital energy was sent into Ding Ning’s body, Ding Ning only gave a soft grunt to his surprise. Ding Ning did not pause at all.
His left hand moved the same way as Song Shenshu, his index and middle fingers together as he stabbed towards the Gate of Ordering aperture on Song Shenshu’s abdomen.
Song Shenshu could not understand how Ding Ning could tolerate his vital energy. He also couldn’t understand the meaning in Ding Ning’s stab.
Yet in that next moment, his entire body froze.
With a soft snap, the straw cloak fell to the ground. The uplifted stern also fell at the same time and caused a splash.
The energy sea inside his body gave a soft pop. His vital energy, that used to flow regularly, suddenly scattered into countless streams. Those streams spread into the apertures in his body like poisonous snakes, and coming out of his flesh and skin.
The red vital energy squirmed on the surface of his body like earthworms. The dark cabin turned a dark red as though red lanterns had been lit up.
Song Shenshu’s mind was blank, and he felt a wave of terror.
He knew that some cultivation methods had weaknesses, yet even he, the cultivator, did not know what weaknesses there were in his “Crimson Sun Divine Spell.”
But with just a single finger stab, the other cased his vital energy to go out of control. He could not even control his body. How was this possible!
After pausing for many seconds, he finally forced out, “How do you know the weakness in my cultivation? Who are you?” His breathing hissed like a snake.
“Strictly speaking, the Crimson Sun Divine Spell is a wonderful cultivation method. With only some toxic fire items as medicine, one can greatly increase their cultivation speed. Ordinary cultivators will need at least two decades to move from Realm one to Realm three first class, but you only needed half the time.” Ding Ning panted softly. He sat down in front of Song Shenshu. He looked seriously Song Shenshu as he continued to touch the vital energy on Song Shenshu’s body.
“But this cultivation method, which comes from Crimson Sun Cavern of the Wei Dynasty, has extreme weaknesses. If one over-excites the kidneys, the vital energy will be disturbed. When the cultivators of our dynasty fought against the cultivators of Crimson Sun Cavern, they found that the enemy would cover their apertures with special armor. Then Crimson Sun Cavern died, and this method was put into our historic archives. Even though the weakness was found, it was untouched. I hadn’t thought you would coincidentally pick this method to cultivate.”
Ding Ning continued to speak softly. As his hands continued to touch the vital energy on Song Shenshu’s body, it gave off strange sounds. The sound was like countless silkworms chewing on mulberry leaves.
“The Nine Deaths Silkworm Divine Art!”
Song Shenshu finally found something more terrifying than his present situation. The flesh in his throat almost ripped apart as he gave off a hoarse shout in horror, “You are his disciple!”