The guard had thrown Su Xiaoyu aside with such force that she had no way to stop herself or change directions. She barreled into Ning Jing, sending them two of them rolling across the ground. Meanwhile, a dozen or so poison needles came flying after them, practically impossible to dodge. In the moment of danger, Ning Jing suddenly turned to shield Su Xiaoyu in her arms. Three to four needles buried themselves in her back.
In that instant, Ning Jing thought of her daughter, and of Bai Yuqiao.
Su Xiaoyu was horrified. She quickly struggled to her feet and gave Ning Jing an antidote pill, too rushed to check on the type of poison. This pill had also come from Han Yunxi and was capable of quelling the effects of ordinary poisons for a time. Of course, stronger poisons rendered it useless. She had no idea if it would work, but she could only feed Ning Jing and try!
Then she pulled the woman to her feet and started running again, because the black-robed guard was almost upon them.
“Big sis Ning, think of your daughter! You have to hold on!”
“My master and the rest must be on their way to save us. They might even find us soon! You have to hold on.”
As Su Xiaoyu spoke, she ran for her life. She didn’t dare look Ning Jing in the face. As long as the woman could kep running, that meant the poison hadn’t reacted, which meant she was still all right. Ning Jing’s lips were already turning black. Although she hadn’t been hit with a quick-acting poison, her current state was extremely poor. She might have been running with Su Xiaoyu, but her legs seemed to belong to someone else entirely. She couldn’t even feel them anymore. Her mind was filled with the images of her daughter’s tender face, the baby’s cries, and Tang Li all those years ago, standing in front of Myriad Merchant Hall as Young Master Tang.
Against the backdrop of the inky black mountains, he had been dressed in white robes. His soft smile imprinted into her mind like a water and brush painting. That day, Tang LI had turned to look at her tenderly and proclaimed, “Jing’er, wait for me to wed you!”
What seemed to have happened only yesterday was now a years-old memory.
Tang Li, when we first met, you said your name was Chang Li.
Did our meeting that day predict that we’d be “long separated?” 
The two girls ran and ran, but soon saw the flicker of flames before them. A little way further, they realized they were heading for a cliff!
Fire and a cliff? What’s going on?
The black-robed guard behind them slowed his steps. There were two ways out of the underground palace, located on either end. The cliff before them now was no exit, but a dead end in every sense of the word. Su Xiaoyu had no choice but to keep heading forward, but she and Ning Jing were soon stuck at the cliff’s edge. Beneath them was a massive pit of fire. Su Xiaoyu didn’t dare get too close. She gripped Ning Jing’s hand tightly and reached out a hand towards the black-robed guard advancing towards them.
“This is the antidote for your companion! If you let us go, I’ll give it to you. Otherwise, I’ll toss it off the cliff!”
The black-robed man smiled coldly without a reply. He inched ever closer, but Su Xiaoyu didn’t want to withdraw any further. She pulled Ning Jing after her and charged at the man. The black-haired man knocked them aside, sending the two females flying. But before they fell off the cliff, he grabbed Su Xiaoyu’s hand. As Ning Jing was holding onto Su Xiaoyu’s other hand, she was left dangling in mid-air.
The black-robed man held Su Xiaoyu by the wrist as he attempted to pry apart her fingers for the bottle of antidote. Su Xiaoyu was seriously injured and half-unconscious after that blow, but she still held on. Otherwise, she and Ning Jing would both fall into the pit of fire!
Meanwhile, Han Yunxi had already sensed the presence of poison.
“Someone’s been poisoned, and not just one! They should be nearby,” she stopped and announced.
“It has to be Ning Jing and them! It must be!” Tang Li grew excited.
But right now they were facing two separate paths, while the source of the poison came from the wall in between them.
“We’ll split up and investigate both ways. Even if you run into Bai Yanqing, try your best to stall for time!” Long Feiye said.
Gu Beiyue went with Tang LI and Gu Qishao to the right, while Han Yunxi and Long Feiye headed for the left. Both groups hastened forward. However, Tang Li’s group soon ran into another clearing with separate paths, leaving them unable to choose a way. Helpless, Gu Beiyue could only rush back to find Han Yunxi. Tang Li punched at the walls, feeling like he’d go insane.
Han Yunxi and Long Feiye ran into the same problem while the detox system was still pointed in the direction of a blocked wall. Without a choice, they could only regroup and choose to head for the right first. They had no idea that Ning Jing and Su Xiaoyu were currently in danger of their lives, but they knew this was a hard-won clue to their whereabouts.
The black-robed man used all his strength to pry apart Su Xiaoyu’s fingers but she was using the last vestiges of her strength to resist him. She didn’t have time to discuss plans with Ning Jing, but silently vowed to herself, Big sis Ning, our life or death hinges on this moment!
Abruptly, she quickly switched to grab two of the guard’s fingers and pull herself up before chomping down on his wrist! This was the last bit of poison hidden on her body. Her original plan was to poison one guard with her needle and the other with her teeth, but she hadn’t been fast enough.
As her teeth bit down, the black-robed guard began to struggle and try to throw Su Xiaoyu asdie, but she gnawed down and refused to budge. Abruptly, the guard’s actions stilled as his face turned black. Then he fell over the edge of the cliff!
“Ahhhhh!” Su Xiaoyu shrieked and released him, her hands sliding down his corpse before she managed to grab the edge of the precipice in time. Meanwhile, the dead guard’s body fell headfirst into the pit.
But they were still in danger!
Su Xiaoyu had only managed to grab a corner of the cliff and was straining from the effects of her own weight, to say nothing of Ning Jing dangling by her other hand. Her fingers were clearly sliding down inch by inch. If they couldn’t think of a solution fast, both of them would die.
“Big sis Ning, are you doing alright?” Su Xiaoyu asked.
Ning Jing was feeling wretched because of the poison reacting in her body. She knew that if she didn’t let go, she would pull Su Xiaoyu into the fire pit with her.
“Little Yu’er,” she said, “You should let go.”
“I won’t!” Su Xiaoyu declared.
“Silly child, big sister Ning’s already feeling the effects of poison. I won’t last, so it’s useless even if you save me. Let go already,” Ning Jing said helplessly. She always took Su Xiaoyu as a vicious and harsh child, but never thought the girl could be so loyal and sentimental as well.
“No, big sis Ning. Your poison reacted but you’re still alive now, which means it won’t take your life so soon! As long as you hold on, you’ll be fine after my master's group finds us,” Su Xiaoyu said seriously.
“Sillyhead, I can’t hold on any longer. If you don’t drop me, we’ll both die,” Ning Jing grew fierce. “Let go!”
“I have a way! Big sis Ning, grab me around the waist so I can hold onto the cliff with both hands. Trust me, I’ll definitely hold on tight. Then you can climb over my body onto the cliff. It’ll work! Hurry!” Su Xiaoyu wasn’t joking--this really was a tangible solution.
But Ning Jing only laughed. She didn’t waste words with Su Xiaoyu, but started prying apart the girl’s fingers. If she really climbed over her, Su Xiaoyu wouldn’t be able to hold out. In the end, the girl would fall into the flames instead.
Su Xiaoyu began to panic as she felt her fingers giving away. Desperate, she pled, “Big sis Ning, you still have a daughter and a husband! I don’t have anything because I’m just an orphan. It’s fine if I die! Actually, I should’ve died ages ago. If my master hadn’t saved me, I wouldn’t have lived this long! I just happened to pick up a few extra years!”
Her words suddenly made Ning Jing shed tears. She truly wanted to tell little Yu’er she wasn’t an orphan. In fact, she even had an older sister--Bai Yuqiao, the girl who’d saved them all. But that was forbidden. She and Ning Cheng had promised Bai Yuqiao to keep this secret.
“Little Yu’er, you’re not an orphan. You still have us!” Ning Jing said in a choked voice.
“Big sis Ning, I can’t hold on for long. Hurry and climb, quick!” Su Xiaoyu urged back. “You still need to look after your daughter and your husband. There’s nothing left for me to do ‘cause there’s plenty of people to take care of my master! Don’t argue with me!”
“Little Yu’er, you still have a long way ahead of you! Look at how young you are. You still need to get married and have children!" Ning Jing sobbed. "Let go!”
Little Yu’er would never know that Ning Jing and Ning Cheng had promised Bai Yuqiao to rescue little Yu’er no matter what. They were supposed to see the girl grow up peacefully, then give her a grand and impressive dowry for her wedding day. She and Ning Cheng were never people who went back on their word. Nor could the Di Clan go back on their promises!
Steeling her heart, Ning Jing pried away all of Su Xiaoyu’s fingers and shifted her grip to the girl’s wrist. “Little Yu’er,” she said seriously, “You have to promise me one thing. When my daughter grows up, be her big sister. Take good care of her and make sure she has a peaceful life. When she gets married in the future, help me prepare her dowry. It has to be a grand and impressive one! Definitely!”
When she finished, Ning Jing suddenly let go and plummeted into the flames!
“Big sis Ning, NO!” Su Xiaoyu burst into tears as she wailed.
Unfortunately, it was no use no matter how loud she cried. Her vision grew blurry from tears as Ning Jing’s tiny figure winked out of sight.
At this moment, Han Yunxi’s group burst out of a tunnel and saw the cliff before them. They heard Su Xiaoyu’s wretched cries and looked crazily towards the pit.
But it was all too late…
They didn’t even see Ning Jing's body, only Su Xiaoyu’s small frame hanging in mid-air, her fingers slipping inch by inch off the cliff. Han Yunxi quickly pulled the girl up and little Yu’er burst into wails.
“Master, big sis Ning fell into the pit! She fell in!”
Tang Li seemed struck by lightning as he froze on the spot, dumbfounded…
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Sigh, let's have a brief moment of silence this chapter for Ning Jing and Tang Li. Song for the occasion (MP3 here):
Searching Without Finding
A single glance filled with both love and hate
Deep feelings when speaking of a certain person
Years of imprisonment, the eyebrows creased
Sweetness, nightmare, a passionate kiss
Once, you chose to be alone to placate uneasy fears
But was called back by that second of remembered warmth
Once, you turned the lock to shut away that door of madness
But still heard the merciless questions flit through
In that moment, an intimate embrace
This second was absolutely naive
Both souls still fell to a searing heat
Dreams gradually grow cold as reality shatters out of control
Who will hold you tightly by both hands?
Only wishing to await one person
To claim them, to feel their warmth
In the next life, reach out a hand again
And learn to know them once more
Thank again the mountains and rivers
The skies for their gifts of stars
Let the pain go
This reunion was not in vain
(Let yourself fall into pain
You were unworthy of this reunion)
The last two lines have double meanings that can be interpreted both ways.