Nightfall Chapter 943
Ning Que looked at the fist print on the tree and questioned, “Why is it sinful?”
Sangsang did not say anything and headed back to the courtyard. He followed.
It was a bit chilly in the early spring. The tree inside the courtyard did not burgeon much. She stood under the tree, looked at its shivering branches and said, “If it is not, then you should let me go.”
Because Ning Que thought it was just them being together instead of him trying to keep her in the human world, he should have no objection if she were to choose to leave.
“You can leave any time,” Ning Que said behind her.
Sangsang kept looking at the branches and saw a crow perched on the tree at the end of her sight line.
She continued, “If I were to leave, then you will kill yourself.”
Ning Que did not say anything.
Sangsang turned to him and asked, “Are you that desperate to kill me?”
It was the sixth time she had asked Ning Que that question, or thought of that in her heart.
“I just don’t want you to leave.” Ning Que did not dodge from her and said, “Even if you were to choose to leave, where will you go? You’ve been to the human world. How can you stand the cold and boring Divine Kingdom and spend your endless life there?”
Sangsang said, “I belong there.”
Ning Que kept questioning, “Where is there? You always say this is Haotian’s world. The Divine Kingdom is also a part of Haotian’s world. So what’s the difference between the human world and the Divine Kingdom?”
Sangsang answered, “Your Master is there right now.”
Ning Que asked, “Why do you have to stop my Master? And why do you have to stop us? Aren’t you curious about what’s outside this world?”
“This is my world. I am the ruler of this world. My existence derives from the uniqueness of this world. If you want to destroy its uniqueness, then you will have to destroy me.”
Sangsang looked into his eyes and said calmly, “This is the fundamental conflict between me and your Master and the Academy. There’s no solution to it. If you insist, then you are seeking for my destruction.”
“Are you that desperate to kill me?”
That was the seventh time.
Ning Que looked at her calmly and said, “Don’t go. Be a real human and let’s live this life together.”
Sangsang said, “A real human will die.”
Ning Que said, “We could achieve immortality through cultivation. Let’s cultivate together.”
Sangsang said, “I need to maintain the existence of this world.”
Ning Que asked, “I don’t understand. There must be other ways to solve this problem. Why do you have to guard this old world? What are you trying to protect?”
Sangsang asked back, “I don’t understand either. You and all those human beings throughout human history, why are you trying to go beyond this world? What are you trying to see?”
Ning Que answered, “Simple as it is, we want to know what’s out there.”
Sangsang said, “But I don’t.”
All her logic, or more precisely, every part of her life depended on the objectivity of the rules. If human beings had an instinctive desire for freedom, she had an instinct of self-consistency and seclusion.
Ning Que took one step forward and stood right in front of her.
The crow made an indifferent caw.
He held her hand and looked into her eyes, “Be a real human. Then we can live together, cultivate together, shop, cook, eat and do a lot of other things together.”
Sangsang had never looked into the mirror ever since she came back to the human world. The moderate face and the lofty figure she had chosen could not made her happy. Therefore now she found the woman she saw inside Ning Que’s eyes strange and disappointing.
“Why should I do that?”
“For the sake of mankind, and of course most importantly for me, please stay.”
Sangsang saw her ordinary face in his eyes. The image of that face was smashed and could no longer be gathered. Then she became indifferent again.
“No.” She looked at Ning Que calmly and said, “Numerous years ago, human beings had chosen and awaken me from the chaotic state because they wanted me to bring them eternal peace.”
Ning Que did not know what to say. He could not understand why she reacted so dramatically to his words. He thought it was because of the humans’ choice to awake her. Then he realized upon her following words that it was because of him.
“Now I understand that it is in their instinct to be curious about the outside world. But you are not one of those human beings because you don’t belong to this world.” Sangsang looked at him and said, “You came from outside this world. You know exactly what’s out there. Ever since twenty years ago, you’ve been telling me what’s in that world. I never forgot. And now I can see it even clearly from your consciousness.”
Ning Que felt a chill from inside out. He said, “In that world… it’s beautiful and lively. And there is abundant sunlight and warmth everywhere.”
“You are lying.” Sangsang was still very calm. She show no emotions but her words sounded like deafening thunder above Chaoyang City. Numerous people were shocked and looked above.
“In your world, it is dangerous everywhere. The sun has been flaming and could explode or extinguish at anytime. Most places are too cold. Neither the weak ordinary people nor stronger cultivators could survive in that world.”
Ning Que disagreed. “A star can last for hundreds of millions of years. How could it explode at any time? It is true that coldness dominates most of the places, but it is an immense world. We can always find some place to stay.”
Sangsang said, “Even if it can last for millions of millions of years, it’s still a very short period of time compared with the eternity we need for lives to continue reproducing, not to mention that your world is doomed for extinction. Nothing will survive.”
Ning Que kept quiet for a long while and said, “Perhaps something like memories would survive.”
Sangsang left no chance for tender feelings. “There would be no warmth. No a thing. Extinction means the end, not eternity. That is the ultimate horror.”
Ning Que shook his head and said, “That’s not true… I admit that you are right, that the world out there would probably face extinction one day. But before that we have the everlasting time to explore to the end of the world, or even break through the world and find our way to a new one.”
Sangsang questioned, “What if we could not find any way?”
Ning Que felt irritated and said, “You have never lived in that world. How can you be sure that human beings won’t be able to find a new world?”
“Because I am not a human being. I will never comfort myself with deceit.”
Sangsang looked at him and said calmly, “Compared with my world, your world is more like hell. What you are trying to do could only remind me of you being the Son of Invariant Yama.”
It had been a long while since Ning Que heard this word last time — the Son of Invariant Yama. It was many years ago when the previous Great Divine Priest of Light and a few others insisted that he was the Son of Invariant Yama. Then they thought it was Long Qing for a short while. Later on it was Sangsang’s turn.
Of course now he knew that there was no Invariant Yama. Or Haotian was Invariant Yama. But he had to admit that to some extent Sangsang was right.
The world he used to live in was much colder, more turbulent and dangerous. It was like the kingdom of Invariant Yama.
He came here from that world, brought his knowledge of that world and strengthened the conviction of the Academy and the Headmaster. But if Haotian’s world would eventually be broken through, if they were to enter the vast universe and eventually confront their destruction, then he would be the one responsible for bringing the shadow of Invariant Yama into this world.
This speculation made him feel cold and irritated. He shouted out to Sangsang, “You have to win no matter what, huh? Even if it’s just a discussion, you would never lose, not even once. Why is that so important?
Sangsang looked at him quietly and sympathetically.
And this made him even more irritated. He went to the tree and heavily punched it. The crow looked down at him. But it did not make an ugly caw or fly away.
“It has been so many years. Ever since you learned to speak, I have been following your orders. Other people thought you were my handmaid and attended to me everyday. When I said to go to the east, you never went west. When I wanted rice, you never cooked congee. But you should know exactly what the truth has been. I pointed east because you had looked to that direction. I said rice only because you had dumped all the congee the previous night.” Ning Que turned to her and exclaimed in anger, “Years ago in the Min Mountain I risked my life to catch that deer. But you spared a glance at me and I let it go. In the City of Wei when you were eight, the fat aunty proposed a marriage for you but you disapproved it. I almost killed that boy that very night. You wanted to go back to Chang’an, and there I went. You said we should make a living by selling my calligraphy, so I worked hard and sold a lot.”
He continued. “You wanted to rent that store on Lin 47th Street, so I rented it! Then what happened? I almost gave my life to Chao Xiaoshu! Because of you, I slapped Long Qing’s face. He threaten me with your life so I made him a wastrel with a single shot. I didn’t care if I offended the Divine Halls of West-Hill or created trouble for the Academy. Then I was hunted by Ye Hongyu like a homeless dog! Then we came to this shabby place!” He pointed at the courtyard and said to her with trembling voice, “You thought it was fun to call yourself the Daughter of Invariant Yama? For me it was no fun at all! The entire world was hunting for you and I had to carry you on my back and kept running. I was seriously scared because I was no match to them. But you know what? I fought back for you.”
Sangsang remained silent and looked at him calmly.
“I never disobeyed you. Whatever you wanted, I followed. I would never hurt you. There was never such a possibility in my head. It has been like this ever since I found you in Hebei Province. I cherish you and love you dearly. I value you more than my own life.” Ning Que’s voice became lower but his emotions more agitated. He continued, “Because you were the only one for me when the entire world abandoned me. You survived because of me, and I survived because of you. Because I needed to raise you. What is natal? That is natal.”
Sangsang looked above to the darkening sky and said nothing. The crow perched on the tree and tilted while trying to figure out what was happening between the two of them.
“You killed the Youngest Uncle. I won’t hold it against you because it was before I was born. But the Headmaster… I cannot not stay away from his passing.” It was either because he had said too much or he was being too emotional, Ning Que sounded hoarse and extremely upset. It seemed like he would collapse at any minute. “I could have stopped you when we were by the Sishui River because you are my natal item. But I didn’t… I thought it was because I forgot at that time. However, later on I realized I have never forgotten that. It was only because I instinctively chose to forget that right then. Because I was so scared of you being killed.”
He looked above to the starry night and the appearing moon, and continued after a pause, “I never mentioned that to anyone. But every Brother and Sister in the Academy knew it. Yet they never talked about that either.”
He continued. “I would do anything for you. I can be brazen, I can risk my own life, let alone care about loyalty or shame. What the hell is morality? If it was in the past I could have killed everyone in the world for you, just for you to be safe and sound. I won’t care what other people think or say about me, or how they hate me or be scared of me.” Ning Que looked back to her and said with smiling tears, “But it is different now. Every Brother and Sister in the Academy, and those people in the City of Chang’an, they’ve been very good to me and to you as well. If I let you go back, the Master will die, the Tang Empire will be conquered, and there will no longer be an Academy in this world. Therefore I cannot follow your order this time.”
The moon finally appeared from the darkness right behind him. It was not a bright moon. As it had always waxed and waned, the moon was very dim tonight, as if it was almost dying out.
“I will die too.” Sangsang had kept quiet while Ning Que was talking, until then. She looked at him calmly and said, “If it was not because of the Academy and you, I wouldn’t have been cornered to misery by the monks in Xuankong Temple. You should know clearly that I am becoming weaker and weaker with every passing day. If you don’t let me return to the Divine Kingdom, I will eventually be dead, let alone to become real human. In terms of cultivation, I have told you I have never lied to myself. I am Haotian. How could I become a real human being? If I did, would I still be myself? How could you make sure that I could survive that?”
If it was not for the Headmaster, the human world would have been seized by darkness. The Headmaster was the only one who had achieved this throughout thousands of thousands of years in Haotian’s world. Haotian’s coming to the human world was also unprecedented. As for why he came to this world from the other world, it was even more exceptional. No one knew what they could do to the world and what would happen to the three of the in the end.
Haotian had no idea. Neither did the Headmaster, not to mention Ning Que. Being unable to provide an answer, he walked to the kitchen and turned to her to ask, “Shall I make you some noodle?”
Sangsang still looked at him calmly. There was no disappointment, just some indifference.
“I’m not hungry.” Upon those words she headed back to the bedroom. She lied down and tucked into the quilt. Like an upset child, she pulled up the quilt to cover her face, trying to make herself feel better.
After a short while, Ning Que stepped into the bedroom, uncovered her and helped her get up.
She repeated, “I said I didn’t want any noodle.”
Ning Que said, “You should wash your feet before going to bed.”
Sangsang then realized there was a basin with warm water beside the bed.
Ning Que squatted and removed her shoes. He tried to make sure the temperature was just fine, then placed her lotus-white feet into the basin and washed them carefully, toe after toe.
None of them said a single word that night.
The next morning, Sangsang did not get up. She stayed in the quilt and stared at the ceiling. A spider had made a web across the beam and was waiting for an insect to be trapped. Then it crawled over and killed the prey enthusiastically and devoured its juicy meal.
“We can’t continue like this. There has to be a decision.” She turned to look at Ning Que and said, “If you don’t let me go, I will kill everyone.”
Ning Que rubbed his eyes and replied, “We are running out of rice. Remind me to buy some when we go shopping.”
They cooked some congee with the remaining rice and went to the market after breakfast. They went to the rice store first. When he was about to pay the bill, Ning Que found a human head in his rice bag.
That was the head of the storekeeper.
Blood dripped out from the bag. The rice became crimson. It looked like a special type of black rice produced in the Qi Kingdom but smelled disgusting with blood.
The clerks and customers were all scared. They screamed and rushed out but could not make it to the door. All of them were killed.
When Haotian wanted someone dead, there were various ways to take his life. She could give them a peaceful death as if they were having beautiful dreams.
Yet obviously Sangsang did not choose that approach for these people. In order to make Ning Que feel worse and show her determination more distinctively, she had chosen the most bloody approach. Broken limbs were scattered in the rice store.
Colors drained from Ning Que’s face. He stared at her and tried to say something. But he could not utter a word.
He walked out of the rice store and did not dare to buy anything further. He rushed through the stalls and ignored their peddling. He even forgot the blood stained rice bag he was carrying.
But Sangsang did not let him slip. Even though he did not buy anything, every stall owner he passed by was slaughtered miserably.
“Enough!” Ning Que stopped at the entrance of the market. The street ahead was crowded. He did not dare to move a single step forward. Instead he turned back and shouted at Sangsang with anger.
The market was flooded with blood. His shoes were soaked in blood.
Sangsang walked toward him in the flood of blood, still indifferently.
Standing in such a horrible scene Ning Que could not refrain from trembling.
Then he calmed down and looked pale and exhausted.
He looked into Sangsang and said, “It’s not going to work.”
Sangsang asked, “Then shall I try it with Tang people?”
Ning Que did not say anything but became anxious.
Because she already had that thought.
With that thought came aversion.
After aversion came anger.
And anger was generated by difference.