Chapter 1332: [NCheng] Killed without mercy
Despite reaching mid-autumn, even the northern reaches of Cloud Realm Continent had yet to grow cold. But the Mysterious Continent located above that, beyond the northern reaches of the Ice Sea, was already seeing snow. Although the Mysterious Continent also experienced the four seasons, it had long winters. In a sense, the winter season had already started a long time ago.
Ning Cheng was a man who liked winter. Besides wine, he had a little-known hobby of sleeping in the sun on winter afternoons. One could find him in the sunniest spot during winter days when he went missing. Unfortunately, no one had found out his habit to this day. His mood always improved with the winter months. As he escaped to the Mysterious Continent with Le Zheng and experienced its winter, he decided to never go back.
Le Zheng was first to hear the news after Jin Zi entered Wintercrow Country. Le Zheng was also the first to flee, while later slave traders were forced to sneak into Northern Li territory and were eventually caught red-handed. Only Le Zheng didn’t hesitate to head for the Mysterious Continent. Ning Cheng didn’t contact Jin Zi but helped him escape smoothly to the coast of the Ice Sea.
The most regrettable experience of Jin Zi’s first led expedition was his failure to capture Le Zheng. If he knew Ning Cheng had abetted his escape, how would he feel?
Naturally, Ning Cheng didn’t help Le Zheng for nothing! He used him to cross the Ice Sea and also to trace the origins of Jin Zi’s birth while gauging Le Zheng’s bottom line. He was sure early on that Jin Zi had been sold from the Mysterious Continent to Wintercrow Country through ten different hands to conceal his identity before ending up on the slave markets and eventually Three-Way Black Market. However, he couldn’t figure out how the process took place, nor where Jin Zi’s original family lay in the Mysterious Continent.
As soon as he set foot on the Mysterious Continent, he inquired about the origins of beastmasters and learned about the existence of Black Forest. Although he didn’t visit the place personally, he was sure the Black Clan’s ancestors originated from this forest. Jin Zi’s skills to command tigers had to come from the Black Forest’s former leader, the Ling Clan!
No wonder Jin Zi was sold to Cloud Realm Continent instead of staying here. The two continents were completely separate worlds and information exchange between them was difficult. What everyone knew in the Mysterious Continent became a huge secret in Cloud Realm.
Ning Cheng didn’t know that Jin Zi had already met someone from Black Forest and was anxious to tell him everything. Unfortunately, he had just arrived and didn’t know anyone, so there was no way to send a message across the Ice Sea again. Rumor had it that the Mysterious Continent once had a divine phoenix bird appear on the surface of the Ice Sea. It was the only creature capable of flying across the ocean. Messenger hawks and pigeons couldn’t make the flight, and even humans needed skills to manage the feat on foot. The Ice Sea was a very special existence. Although it was located between the two continents, its temperature was always colder than either side and its terrain much lower. Within the region there was never any rain or snow, but constant sun. The vast and endless surface of ice resembled an incomparably smooth mirror that clearly reflected all the colors in the sky. It was not only more slippery than ordinary ice, but also much, much colder. Horses and carriage couldn’t manage a trip across, nor could ordinary sled dogs handle it.
Crossing the Ice Sea required a type of canine called the golden-eyed snow mastiff to pull the sled. Otherwise one would die on its surface. The Ice Sea had existed for thousands of years and inevitably saw some ignorant passerby frozen to death on its surface. The low temperatures permanently preserved their bodies.
The golden-eyed snow mastiff lived at the Ice Sea’s shores. It was a strange beast with an eccentric temperament that only ate hard, not soft. If you treated them well, they scorned you and even bit you; if you treated them harshly, they were subdued and obediently helped you pull the sled across the sea in the shortest amount of time. The only way to subdue a golden-eyed snow mastiff was in a duel. Of course, those with superior martial arts skills just needed to stand on shore before the dog obediently came to lick your feet. This was the case for seniors like Han Chen. As for martial arts practitioners like Long Feiye and Han Yunxi, the situation remained uncertain. The two of them had always wanted to see the Ice Sea but had no time. Meanwhile, Gu Qishao had to fight with several golden-eyed snow mastiffs every time he came to the Ice Sea. He had traveled so often between the continents in recent years that many mastiffs already knew him by sight. As soon as he stood on shore, he could turn to see nothing but dogs blocking his vision.
On the other hand, Ning Cheng had gone with Le Zheng across the sea and never had a chance to interact with any mastiffs. He discovered one of Le Zheng’s huge secrets: the man didn’t know martial arts. However, the golden-eyed snow mastiffs still obeyed and submitted to him. Le Zheng took their group of more than ten people successfully to the northern coast of the Ice Sea in only half a month. Ning Cheng was puzzled at first. Knowing the existence of Black Forest made him guess that Le Zheng might have come from the beastmasters. Perhaps he was the one who brought Jin Zi out!
Ning Cheng assumed that was where Le Zheng would go next, but the man brought their Liubei Chamber of Commerce to do all kinds of business in the Mysterious Continent. Thanks to Ning Cheng’s merits in helping Le Zheng escape, he was more valued by the man than before. After arriving on the continent, he also helped the man close multiple big business dealings. Now his position in the Liubei Chamber of Commerce was not only equal to Le Zheng’s goddaughter Lele, but threatened to eclipse her.
Ning Cheng split his time between currying favor with Le Zheng and secretly inquiring into Black Forest. But it wasn’t just anyone who could enter those woods, nor did everyone know of its affairs. Even after a few years in the Mysterious Continent, he still couldn’t find out too much about its inside story.
This afternoon, the sun was warm.
Another day, the skies were dark and heavy snows fell.
Ning Cheng cooked wine alone in his rooms, somehow filling the house with its fragrance. Light drinkers could even get drunk on the scent alone if they stayed inside for too long. He was still used to wearing black, tight-fitting clothing like his early years in Cloud Realm Trade Consortium. There were no extra accessories, making him look simple and sharp. He had a habit of removing his eyepatch in private. Unless one looked closely, no one could tell his eyeball had been injured, or that he was blind in one eye. He sat by the stove, scooped up a spoonful of warm wine for a gentle sniff, and grinned wickedly. Alcohol was like a prey he grasped in hand to taste with abandon.
On a cold wintery evening in a foreign country, he poured himself a drink. No one would believe he wasn’t lonely, but they might be convinced of his leisurely life. Towards wine, Ning Cheng’s biggest regret was that he couldn’t get drunk. Drinking needed the right mood, even more for drinking oneself drunk. To those with excellent alcohol capacity, these points were even more important.
The strong smell of wine surrounded him as Ning Cheng suddenly stopped in the middle of raising his cup. He stood up to stand by the window and saw a figure disappear in the upper windows.
Someone broke in?
He lived in the left wing of a large four-walled courtyard while Lele stayed in the right. Le Zheng was right in the middle, but he didn’t know martial arts and raised a team of experts to protect him after coming to the continent. This place was heavily guarded, so anyone who could sneak in during the middle of the night had to be an expert not to be noticed by the watch outside.
Instead, Ning Cheng noticed them.
He seemed to recall something and went outside immediately without a sound to slip into Le Zheng’s rooms. There he saw a black-robed figure raising a knife to approach the sleeping Le Zheng. Before he cried out, the tip of a dagger rested against his back.
So the real culprit was behind him!
Before the suspect could speak, Ning Cheng did first. "Lele, if you take another step forward, I promise you won’t leave this room."
The black-robed figure in front immediately looked back to see that Ning Cheng had entered. She tore off her mask to reveal her face—she really was Lele! Despite being exposed, she remained calm with a wicked grin, speaking softly to the person behind Ning Cheng. "Jin, do you think your dagger or his mouth is faster?"
The person behind him didn’t speak, so Lele added, "However, even if his mouth is faster, he’s definitely going to die." In her eyes, Ning Cheng had no other choice but to call for the guards.
Unexpectedly, Ning Cheng said, "If your godfather and I die, you will never know where that treasure is hidden. The one concealed in Wuliang Peak is only ten taels of silver."
Recently, Le Zheng had hidden all the wealth of his slave trade and told Ning Cheng and Lele the location. He also vowed that if the two married and inherited the Liubei Chamber of Commerce, he would give them all the riches.
From that day on, Lele harbored murderous intentions towards Le Zheng. She used to be a slave he bought and raised by his side as a goddaughter. She always claimed she’d never marry and loved godfather best, but what she really loved was his wealth.
Ning Cheng’s words made Lele hesitate. "Don’t try to fool me! If I don’t know the secret location, then neither do you!"
Ning Cheng smiled contemptuously. Despite being held under duress, he was still high and lofty without a hint of wretchedness. In a low voice he murmured, "There’s a key in the secret compartment of the third drawer from the cabinet on the left."
Lele was stunned. She had long searched through Le Zheng’s things, but never knew the third drawer had a secret compartment!
"Your godfather has another key under his pillow," Ning Cheng went on.
Lele was even less certain as Ning Cheng went on, "I have one on my body too."
Lele’s gaze flickered as Ning Cheng spoke, wavering between the cabinet, bed, and Ning Cheng himself.
"The key in the drawer was prepared for you. Only the three keys together can open the lock to the secret treasure," Ning Cheng finished.
Lele was obsessed with money and after a moment’s hesitation, went to the cabinet and opened it decisively. However, what greeted her was a surprise arrow flying out.
Lele was confused.
The person behind Ning Cheng immediately raced over and exclaimed, "Cheng’er, watch out!"
At the same time, the arrow stabbed Lele’s arm. The woman named Jin ran to take her hand in shock while Le Zheng sat up in bed, stunned. Outside, guards rushed in after being alerted by the noise. Ning Cheng didn’t move from his spot, but his lips curved into a cold smirk.
Jin immediately dragged Lele to the window and fled outside before starting to fight with the guards outside. Le Zheng only looked towards Ning Cheng in shock. "How…what’s going on?"
Ning Cheng replied, "Godfather, Lele rebelled and tried to assassinate you."
Le Zheng was too dumbfounded to speak. By the time he got off the bed, Jin had already killed a way out of the guards and escaped with Lele in tow.
Ning Cheng followed Le Zheng outside and stood behind him to remark, "Godfather, a traitor like this should be killed without mercy!"
1. "锦 Jin – different from the Jin in Jin Zi, this one means "brocade."
2. 珵儿 – a nickname. Cheng means "beautiful jade."