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Ning Que looked over the rock window and saw the accumulation of snow on the cliffs. He felt a bit disappointed. It was not because of the frustration of being imprisoned but because he had come all the way here just to watch some snow fall.

He had no dreams for the past two days, namely he was not tortured for the past two days. Under such circumstances, he was definitely not stupid enough to try alluring her. However, it felt weird when a fierce battle came to a sudden pause. He could not help but wondered and stayed alert.

The sound of steps was heard from the mountain trail that led to the Secluded Pavilion. Two expressionless black-robed deacons from the Judicial Department arrived in front of the fence and took out two keys to open the complicated twin lock.

Ning Que watched them open the fence and looked at the trail ahead. He lifted his eyebrows and asked, "Are you going to kill me or let me go?"

Apparently, the black-robed deacons had received a strict order. They did not reply as if they did not hear him. They held him on each side and took him out.

Ning Que was in a coma when he was taken into the Secluded Pavilion. He could finally take a close look at the structure of the Secluded Pavilion now. Torches lined up along the mountain trail. It looked similar to every ordinary prison in the human world. He felt somewhat disappointed. Then he realized that he could not sense the change of the Qi of Heaven and Earth because his Ocean of Qi and Mountain of Snow were locked up. Otherwise he should have found the horrifying arrays people talked about.

As they came out of the Secluded Pavilion, they walked to the highest plateau close to the black Divine Hall of Judgment. Ning Que was held in between the two deacons. He glanced at the Divine Hall of Judgment and wondered what Ye Hongwu was doing and what she would think if she knew what he had went through.

It was late winter and a snowstorm whirled throughout Peach Mountain. The plateau was covered with thick snow and the imposing Divine Halls seemed more awe-inspiring in the storm.

Ning Que could only see his own footprints on the snow covered ground. It was quiet on the plateau. He did not see a single person from the Secluded Pavilion to the plateau.

When they arrived at the Divine Hall of Light, the two black-robed deacons kneeled and kowtowed and then left silently. They did not speak a single word or make a sound throughout the walk.

It was Ning Que's second time at the Divine Hall of Light. The first night he spent in the Divine Hall of Light was the longest night in his life that had left him with indelible pain. Now that he came again to the Divine Hall in the snowstorm, he looked extraordinarily calm and fearless.

He was very certain that since she allowed him to be in the Divine Hall of Light again, it proved that she had not figured out a way to break through. The battle between them had come to a next level and he hoped that he could make the most powerful strike back in this round.


Even if he was a guest of the Divine Hall of Light and not a prisoner, he should have waited outside until someone invited him in. However, he had some different reasoning. Since the Divine Hall of Light if not the entire West-Hill Divine Kingdom belonged to Sangsang, it consequently belonged to him, according to the marriage legislation of the Tang Empire. Therefore the Divine Hall of Light is my home. Why do I need permission to return to my own home?

Ning Que whisked off the snowflakes on his clothes and stepped into the Divine Hall of Light as if he was returning home.

People from the other three Divine Halls sighed for different reasons. Some were shocked, some felt for him and others were disappointed, while the person inside the Divine Hall of Judgment mocked him.

The Divine Hall of Light was spacious and secluded. He walked toward the far end for quite a while and finally saw the big black horse by the pillar of a hundred miles height.

He walked toward the big black horse and patted him on the neck. He felt happy for him. "They feed you well! You looked bigger than when you were in Chang'an."

The big black horse thought, Although this mistress is not my favorite, she is still the master of the entire world. How could she underfeed me?

He looked at Ning Que and worried and pitied him. Obviously he had been underfed these days. He was so skinny and wretched as if he could been blown away by the wind.

Ning Que said, "No worries. Quarrels between couples is just a part of life, right?"

The big black horse looked down at his abdomen and shook his head sympathetically.

Ning Que felt extremely humiliated and rebuked, "When I get you back to Chang'an, the first thing I'll do is to castrate you!"

The big black horse raised his head slightly with pride and thought, As long as I can please the mistress, who are you to me?

Chilling winds brought snowflakes into the Divine Hall. They fell on the jade-warm floor and melted instantly. Ning Que looked at where the snowflakes flew in and found her still standing on the terrace behind the curtains.

He walked to her and stopped at about ten meters away from the terrace.

She stood by the terrace, held her hands behind her back and overlooked the human world and mountains in the snowstorm.

Ning Que looked at her hands and recalled the tender and furious worlds she gave him, and could not help but stay away from her.

He did not dare to look at her hands any longer and turned to look at her lofty figure. Her figure looked clearer than before. Although the snowstorm was roaring, the outline of her figure was as distinctive as carvings on rocks. It looked stable, profound and indelible. This meant she was increasingly bonded to the human world and to people in it. This also meant that Haotian was becoming vulnerable.

Ning Que was very satisfied by the changes he found in her.

Sangsang did not say anything but their psyche was connected. Ning Que could hear her thoughts — the very thoughts from her heart.

"The bond to the human world is inseverable. The Headmaster had left human power in your body and destroyed the gate to Haotian's Divine Kingdom. He didn't leave any chance for you to go back there." He looked at her back and continued. "I don't know whether your trick would work by granting Xiaocao immortality. Would you like to wait for some hundreds of years before she realize what she was granted with? Even if you can wait, she may not be willing to exchange it for the memories she had with you. As for Chen Pipi and Xiaotang, they would never see their survival as a gift from you."

Sangsang looked indifferent but confident.

Ning Que continued after a brief pause, "Even if you are right, it's far from enough. How about our Second Brother and Li Yu? They were both nice to you, so they are also your connections to the human world. Our next door neighbor Aunt Wu used to treat you frequently. How would you pay her back? Not to mention those in the City of Wei. They were good to us but were killed because of you. How could you pay back the dead?"

Sangsang frowned slightly. Suddenly, an avalanche started coming down the mountains and unveiled the dead branches and wild grass underneath.

The snowstorm continued to roar around the cliffs by the Divine Hall of Light. Thicker snow accumulated on the terrace and the wind became even more chilling and so did Sangsang's expressions and feelings.

"I could not give it up."

Ning Que heard the answer from her Ocean of Consciousness and replied, "Like our Headmaster used to say, human beings are gifted with the ability to explore the unknown, namely the desire for freedom. You are the rules of this world. Your existence and your life was formed by this world. You would never allow them to break the rules. Therefore you've got irreconcilable conflicts with the human beings in this world."

Sangsang turned to him and uttered her first sentence today, "You are not a human being from this world. Why do you also want to fight against me?"

Ning Que replied, "I am a still human after all. I came to this world and became a part of it. Many years ago when I was studying in the Old Library in Chang'an, I was exhausted and sick every night. When you attended to me, you used to ask me what I would do if Haotian won't let me cultivate. I told you in that case I would have to fight against Heaven."

Sangsang searched for that conversation through her worldly memories and found that scene. When they were talking about that, no one knew that she was Haotian. It seemed weird to her now.

"So you are determined to stand against me?" she asked Ning Que.

Ning Que looked at her arched eyes which were the only familiar parts on her now, and answered after a short pause, "That is probably my fate, and you cannot resist it either."

Sangsang relied, "I am Haotian. I am able to change your fate."

"You are my natal item. My fate is your fate. How could you change your own fate? To change one's fate is to fight against the Heaven. I have realized that ever since the day I found you in Hebei Province, I have been fighting against you every single day. Though I've never won, I have been fighting against Heaven." Ning Que continued to look at her and continued, "However, you cannot fight against yourself. It's like how one could never lift himself up by grasping his own hair."

Sangsang glanced at him.

Ning Que's hands involuntarily reached above his head and grasped his own hair. Then, he was lifted from the ground and hung ridiculously in the air.

He sighed. "Do you find this interesting?"

Sangsang concurred. "Isn't that what you pursue in the Academy: to be interesting?"

Ning Que said, "Yes, but we have to be reasonable."

Sangsang questioned, "Have you ever been reasonable in the Academy?"

Ning Que fell down miserably.

Sangsang stopped talking and left the terrace for the Divine Hall. Ning Que looked at the increasingly fierce snowstorm among the cliffs and did not dare to stay in the terrace any longer. He followed her into the Divine Hall.

There was a huge bed on one side of the hall covered with ordinary soft quilts. Sangsang sat onto the bed indifferently.

Ning Que stood by the bed and felt restless.

Then two girls in white dresses came in with a bronze basin and some towels.

Ning Que thought, It was still early. Are you calling for bed now? He wanted to mock her for ordering such things in broad daylight. Then he realized his miserable situation and stopped the thought.

The fresh water in the bronze basin was warm.

The two girls did not squat to serve Sangsang but stood by the bed and looked at him.

By then, Ning Que realized what he was supposed to do.

He thought for a while then squatted down, placed Sangsang's feet into the bronze basin, and started washing them carefully.

"Do you find this interesting?" he asked with his head low.

Sangsang replied, "I have many connections to the human world. There are many people I need to pay back and I am working on it. As for you, you are the one who has to pay me back, so keep doing it."

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