Translated by Vivian of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The two sides stood facing each other, their blades as bright as snow reflecting the cold and desolate moonlight, deeply-rooted killing intent flowing on the silent mountain road.
However, Shen Jue was very calm, and his eyes were as tranquil as still water, like a cold pool with no ripples. He pushed away Shen Wenxing, who was supporting him by the arm, and looked at the Garuda, saying, “You’re the Garuda? I originally thought that it would be an experienced assassin, but your voice sounds very young. How old are you this year, are you over twenty?” He looked around at the assassins in the fog. “And you all? How old are you? Do you have wives or family? Mixing in the field of life and death all day long, aren’t you all afraid of death? I’m surrounded by the elites of the Eastern Depot, who among you all has the confidence that they can leave here alive?”
The assassins didn’t speak. Their somber gazes penetrated the dark eye holes of their masks as they peered at the pale man.
Shen Jue continued, “I know that you’re all controlled by Bliss Fruit. What a coincidence, in the past few days, I’ve confiscated quite a lot of Bliss Fruit, and they’re all stored in the Eastern Depot’s repository. I’ll point out a proper path for you all——leave Garan and seek refuge with the Eastern Depot. You defectors would be captains in the Embroidered Uniform Guard, be rewarded with ten thousand taels of gold, and have a hundred servants. Garuda, if you surrender, I’ll grant you the position of battalion commander, among the five highest positions. From then on, you could walk under the sunlight justly and honorably, marry wives and have children, win official honor and fame, provide shade for your descendants, and bring glory to your ancestors!”
No one responded. Shen Jue laughed lightly and said, “Most importantly, Garan only gives you ten Bliss Fruits a year, but over here, you’ll have as many as you want.”
The assassins among the fog looked at one another, the lights of their sabers flashing nonstop, revealing their restless hearts.
Shen Wenxing breathed out a long sigh and exchanged a glance with Mingyue, who was carrying Yu-jie’er. Garan assassins were too tough, and, after all, Asuras and evil spirits who came out of the land of death bathed in blood were different from normal sabersmen. Looking out into the distance, even if it couldn’t be said that there were a hundred assassins and spies gathered on the mountain road, there were at least seventy or eighty. Garan had worked very hard this time, summoning all of their soldiers in the capital and surrounding area.
However, everyone understood that there was only one saber among the eighty soldiers that truly wanted Shen Jue’s life——the Garuda.
“Chief Officer, you have such an eloquent mouth. With one remark, you’ve turned our soldiers’ morale into a mess.” A cold voice sounded from behind the carriage. “Unfortunately, your promises are too rash. We have heinous blood debts, so even if you agreed to let us offer our service to the Eastern Depot, the civil and military officials can’t agree.”
“What’s your name?” Shen Jue turned his head around.
Shen Jue let out a low laugh and said, “You don’t need to worry about this matter, I will naturally explain the matter to the emperor and get an amnesty, pardoning all of you for all of your crimes. You aren’t special cases. Long before you, there have been martial artists like you who sought refuge with the Eastern Depot. Yun Xiu, am I right?”
Yun Xiu clasped his fists and said, “That’s right. Brothers, if you have gone to Shanxi, you should have heard of my name. I am Saber from Clouds, Yun Xiu. I also was once a wanted criminal by the imperial court, and I surrendered to the governor two years ago. Brothers, if you cleanse your hearts, reform, and help the Eastern Depot to catch Yama Baili Yuan, the governor definitely won’t mistreat you.”
The assassins hesitated, exchanging glances with one another.
Shen Jue restrained his smile slightly and turned the ring on his index finger underneath his sleeve. He was waiting; as long as one assassin surrendered to him, everyone here would crumble.
“You are lying.”
A calm voice broke out from the disorderly whispers.
Shen Jue lifted his eyes and looked at that rock-like assassin, his gaze cold. “Oh?”
“You do not have azalea flowers, so you have no way of making new Bliss Fruit. Garan only transported tens of boxes of Bliss Fruit to the capital and the surrounding area. One-thirds flowed into the market, one-thirds were burned on the spot in searches by the imperial court, and the remaining Bliss Fruit stored in the Eastern Depot’s repository is far from enough to satisfy all of the assassins’ lifetimes.” The Garuda said indifferently, “So, you are lying.”
Shen Jue sneered, “After killing Baili Yuan, all of the azalea flower fields in the North will be in my hands.”
“No, you will not have a chance.” The Garuda slowly drew his saber, a beautiful yet strange light pouring out of the simple scabbard in his hand.
Shen Jue squinted slightly.
“I am very strong, Chief Officer.” That saber was finally drawn out, a desolate and cold arc under the moonlight, strikingly bright. “Even if they defect from Garan, I will still do my best to kill all of them, and then kill you. You will not have a chance to leave here, because no one can stop me when I hold a saber.”
In an instant, killing intent came with the wind.
Everyone raised their sabers, and the two sides roared as they charged. The lusters of the white porcelain masks and black chainmail flowed, and the cavalrymen’s sleeve plackets embroidered with gold thread and the assassins’ black linen clothes fluttered in the wind like butterflies. The instant the two sides collided, blood bloomed in the night like beautiful flowers, containing a strange and evil beauty.
The sounds of blades colliding, clothes slicing through the wind, and howls were heard without end. Yu-jie’er began crying loudly, and Mingyue embraced her tightly, curled underneath the carriage’s armrest. A crow-black silk hairband dangled before her eyes, and Mingyue looked up blankly. At some point, Shen Jue had taken off his black gauze hat and let his hair down, his black and shiny hair draping down.
Shen Jue lowered his eyes at her, his face impassive. “Cover your child’s eyes, don’t let her see blood.”
Mingyue wanted to say thanks, but a wave of flute 1 sounds suddenly came from somewhere, prowling through the dark night like frost congealed on a blade of grass, and also like the sorrowful sobs of a widow, seemingly mourning the assassination that was doomed to end in corpses being strewn across the field.
Shen Jue lifted his head and listened, sneering, “Is it the sheath? So anxious to mourn for me?”
A cavalryman exclaimed ahead, “Stop the Garuda! Protect the governor!”
Shen Jue looked over and saw that black-clothed assassin holding a black scabbard, walking through the killing field, advancing unopposed. Whenever any cavalryman approached him, they were instantly killed, blood spraying out from their throat like gorgeous red silk, dazzlingly red in the dark and heavy night. He was approaching Shen Jue at a slow speed, yet no one could block his steps, because no one could see the movements of his saber at all.
“Too fast! Too fast!” Yun Xiu stood next to Shen Jue, his gaze afraid. “Governor, his saber is so fast, his saber can’t even be seen leaving its scabbard!”
“Practically… practically like a ghost!” A cavalryman said, trembling.
“I’ll fight you!”
A strong wind shot out beside Shen Jue; it was another cavalryman charging toward the Garuda. In the darkness, a warped saber light burst out from the assassin’s scabbard like lightning and also like a dragon and snake moving rapidly, unparalleled in swiftness as it sliced past the cavalryman’s neck. In the blink of an eye, the cavalryman’s head had already fallen to the ground, and the assassin’s saber had already been sheathed in its scabbard, as if the lightning-like momentum of his saber just then had only been everyone’s hallucination.
Shen Wenxing tugged on Shen Jue’s sleeve, trembling as he saw the Garuda get closer and closer. At the same time, even more cavalrymen charged toward the Garuda, and were then killed. The Garuda stepped on the cavalrymen’s spreading blood, getting closer and closer to Shen Jue.
“Garuda, what benefits did Garan give you to make you work so hard for them?” Shen Jue’s cold voice penetrated the glints of sabers and swords, landing in the assassin’s ears.
“In order to see someone.” The Garuda slit a cavalryman’s throat with a reverse grip, blood splashing onto his white porcelain mask like tiny red plums. “To see a very important person.”
Shen Jue pressed down the corners of his mouth and drew Jingtie with his hand that was wrapped in bandages. Pain scattered upward along his fingers, but he seemed to be unable to feel pain as he gripped the hilt tightly, the pure white bandages stained red by blood. “What a coincidence, I’m also going to see a person, so,” he lifted his eyes, the killing intent in his pupils like frost, “the person who will die tonight is you!”
A-Chu forced her way onto a coachman’s carriage. The assassins didn’t have carriages, so they were flung behind. The coachmen had originally cursed, but when a short black arrow pierced the shaft of his carriage, he shut his mouth and used all of his strength to swing the whip and drive. The carriage soon arrived at the Yamen Alley, so A-Chu tumbled down from the carriage and knocked on the front door of Shen Manor.
The red-painted door was opened to a crack, and a head wearing a headscarf poked out from inside. “Who are you?”
“Yanzhi Alley, A-Chu.” A-Chu was out of breath. “I have to see Sir Xiao Shen, please do me a favor and take me to see him!”
The servant looked at her suspiciously. Everyone knew that A-Chu was Xiahou Lian’s old acquaintance, but this woman was a prostitute, so coming to their door was really unreasonable.
“Please,” A-Chu was crying like pear blossoms bathed in rain, “I really don’t have any other choice, Sir Xiao Shen has already agreed that I could come and find him if something happened. Please, make an exception.”
A-Chu naturally had a good appearance, and when she cried, her tears hung on her soft white cheeks, on the verge of dripping and very pitiful. The servant’s heart softened, so he greeted her, “Okay, okay, since Sir Xiao Shen said so, come in.”
A-Chu repeatedly thanked him and stepped across the threshold. This instant was like escaping from death, as there were Eastern Depot cavalrymen guarding everywhere around Shen Manor, so the assassins couldn’t easily break in. She sighed in relief and suddenly recalled Baili Yuan saying that she was going to kill Shen Jue. Her scalp chilled, and she hastily followed a guiding servant toward the main courtyard.
The servant was just about to close the door when a man used his foot to stop the gap in the door, smiling slightly. “I am Miss A-Chu’s coachman. I’ve been driving for a long time, so I’m very thirsty. Brother, do me a favor and take me inside to drink a bowl of tea.”
“…” The servant turned his head to the side and saw an empty carriage stopped behind the stone lion; it was indeed the one A-Chu had ridden in. “Okay, go to the lodge and rest, don’t wander!” The servant led him to the lodge, made a pot of tea, and carried it to the crescent table. He turned around, about to leave, but he bumped into that man. He opened his mouth, wanting to scold this person for not having eyes, when there was suddenly a dull pain between his brows. His eyes instantly froze and slowly lost their expression.
Shu Qing dragged the servant behind the red-painted door panel, changed into his clothes, and slowly walked out. Two maids carrying medicinal soup passed by a corridor, and a short bitter flavor drifted over along the wind. Shu Qing sniffed and lowered his head, following the maids from a distance. They walked for a while through twists and turns, and passed by a moon gate. There was an ancestral hall inside, and there were dense pine and cypress trees behind the side door. Two sandalwood spirit tablets stood quietly amid the curling incense smoke.
Shu Qing had originally been casually glancing, but with this glance, he couldn’t move anymore.
He recognized the saber in the center of the ancestral hall——”Hengbo.”
Xiahou Lian was wearing outer clothes and adjusting Zhaoye’s saber arm. The master that had aerated him before had been locked into the imperial prison by Shen Jue, though it was said that Shen Jue wanted to do good deeds and accumulate virtue, so he hadn’t taken his life and had only locked him in like that to teach him a lesson.
After screwing tight the saber arm, he took a few steps away and held his chin, examining Zhaoye. The puppet girl and him looked at each other silently, her pitch-black eye holes deep and fathomless, as if hiding an unknown spirit.
“Xiao Lian, why don’t you make a male puppet, why do you have to make a female puppet?” Lian Xiang and Miaozhen walked into the courtyard and placed the medicinal soup onto the table as she asked.
“I originally wanted to make a male one,” replied Xiahou Lian, “but Shiqi insisted on making a female, saying that I would likely stay single for the rest of my life, so why not make a puppet girl and pretend that it was my wife, and when it’s cold, I can even hug her and sleep.”
Lian Xiang covered her mouth as she smiled. “Then have you hugged her and slept?”
“Uh…” Xiahou Lian scratched his head. “I put her on the bed once. This thing is made from steel, so it’s especially cold and nearly froze me to death.” He turned his head and exhorted Lian Xiang, “Don’t tell the young master about this.”
Lian Xiang repeatedly waved. “I won’t tell, I won’t tell.”
Miaozhen’s expression was muddled. “Why can’t you tell Master Governor?”
Just as they were speaking, a servant came in from outside the courtyard to pass on a message. “Sir, Miss A-Chu…”
Before he even finished, A-Chu pushed him aside and walked in anxiously. She pounced on Xiahou Lian at once and said, “Xiahou! Garan is going to kill the chief officer, hurry and save him!”
As if a lightning had struck the top of his head, Xiahou Lian was first shocked, but he immediately calmed down and held her, saying, “Don’t panic first, say it clearly. What happened? Where is Garan going to assassinate the governor?”
“Whe… Where?” A-Chu’s lips opened and closed, and she suddenly remembered that she had only overheard that Baili Yuan wanted to kill him, yet she hadn’t overheard the location. She instantly pulled a long face. “I didn’t hear.”
“You’re A-Chu?” Lian Xiang glanced sideways at her. “Xiao Lian, don’t listen to her nonsense. The governor should be in the palace right now, so even if Garan wanted to assassinate him, they can’t easily succeed. This girl is from Yunxian Building, so we don’t know her origins. Don’t listen to just a few words from her and follow her.”
A-Chu hastily shook her head. “No, it’s true! I heard it myself.”
“Who did you hear say it?’ asked Xiahou Lian.
A-Chu was just about to answer when she suddenly hesitated again. If she gave Baili Yuan up, wouldn’t A-Yuan have no way out anymore? She recalled Baili Yuan’s appearance when she was wrapped in her embroidered quilt and laying on the bed. So white and so small, with black eyes; she was clearly an inexperienced little girl. There was also that day when she had been met with misfortune, and Baili Yuan had been in front of her, protecting her and stabbing a dagger into Platoon Commander Yan’s palm.
This child had really treated her like a big sister, her only sister.
She gripped Xiahou Lian’s arm tightly, trembling slightly. Xiahou Lian urged her to speak, and she looked at Xiahou Lian’s eyes, black and deep, extremely similar to the other Xiahou. How strange, these two people were both named Xiahou, and their features were also so similar. She recalled that man who was like a big child, only laboriously watching clothes every day, not complaining about being tired or suffering. But he was dead, the same as the bawd. They had died that night, lying on the icy stone road.
Baili Yuan had called him big brother, but she had killed him!
“Bai… Baili Yuan.” A-Chu gritted her teeth and said, “Baili Yuan is the Yama you’re looking for!”
Everyone was shocked. Xiahou Lian silently recited this person’s name. Baili Yuan… Baili Yuan… Yes, Shiqi had seen incorrectly; Garan’s Yama wasn’t a dwarf, she was a child!
“Miaozhen, go and get my ivory block.” Xiahou Lian fastened his belt as he went into the saber furnace, randomly picking up a saber and wearing it on his waist. Xiahou Lian turned around and pointed at an underling, saying, “Come here, take a group of people to Dongmen Alley and find a Lead Officer Bai. Instruct him to deliver a note to Shuntian Prefecture and the Five City Warden Department to summon the Divine Machine Battalion. Surround the Linbei marquis manor, enforce martial law on the entire city, and arrest Baili Yuan.”
Lian Xiang followed behind Xiahou Lian, stammering, “Xiao… Xiao Lian.”
“I’ll go to the palace to see the governor.” Xiahou Lian patted her shoulder. “Don’t worry, it’s okay, guard the doors and windows at home and wait for us to come back. I’ll leave A-Chu in your care for now.”
Lian Xiang nodded repeatedly. “Xiao Lian, be careful, look after your own health.”
Xiahou Lian nodded and turned around, a solemn expression arising on his cheeks. Shen Jue should be fine, right? There were Feathered Forest guards and imperial guards in the palace, so they could definitely protect him thoroughly. However, Xiahou Lian recalled that assassination from when he had been fourteen. It had also been in the palace, and Garan assassins had actually killed the noble consort. His mother, Xiahou Pei, had rushed through the imperial palace, unable to be defeated.
Don’t scare myself. Xiahou Lian shook his head vigorously and began walking outside.
A figure was leaning on the second door and indifferently reached out a long saber with a black scabbard, blocking his way.
“Go to the palace? What a pity, the governor at the bottom of your heart isn’t in the palace at all.” The man hooked up the hint of an ambiguous smile. “Long time no see, Shige.”
these cliffhangers are KILLING me
but it’s too exciting !!!!
thanks so much for the chapter!!!
Oh crap; what will the outcomes be?
I had a thought before about the author stating there will be a happy ending; they could have mislead us. Or, maybe both XL & SJ die in this life at the same time & meet again in another life to live happily.
I think XL can beat who I assume is Shu Qing, if he were healthy, but right now? SJ is also formidable, but again, much weaker than usual after the temple and this is the Garuda!
Maybe both will verbally reach them with truths 🙏
Thank you for translating, the T/N and editing.
Thank You for the new chapter ♡〜٩( ╹▿╹ )۶〜♡
So relieved that A-Chu is safe now! 😮💨
Guess it’s time for Shu Qing to meet his death?
Thank you for the chapter!
Shu qing is so damn annoying agh. Though I do understand why he has a deep hatred towards Xiaohou Lian… they’re both merely victims of Garan ;(