Translated by Vivian of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Capital suburbs, Lianhua Nunnery 1.
There was faint chanting, and cymbals were struck again and again, following the slow rhythm. The stern Buddha statue looked down upon all beings with lowered eyes, the gold paint on its face a little mottled, so when looking at it from a distance, they seemed to be whirling tears. A-Chu was kneeling on a round cushion, her black and shiny hair landing in locks on the plum-patterned square bricks. A few locks of hair had left the group and drifted by the feet of the Buddha statue, like fine and fractured cracks on the bricks.
Buddha. A-Chu closed her eyes, and a tear slid down the side of her cheek.
She once again recalled Baili Yuan’s frail back under the moonlight, like a lonely ghost that had forgotten the way home. The girl spoke amid that expanse of moonlight: “Doesn’t Chi Yan want to kill me, right, and his little brother Xiahou Lian as well. Let them come, I’ll wait for them in Xue Mountain.”
A-Chu opened her eyes and seemed to see that snow-like girl on the summit of Xue Mountain, gazing into the distance. Her gaze penetrated layers of snowfields, mountains, and seas, waiting for the trudging sharp blades to pierce her heart.
Everything was like fate, as if it had been predestined from beginning to end.
She had only written half of it on the letter she sent to Shen Manor. Shen Jue only knew that Baili Yuan had once appeared in Yunxian Building, yet he didn’t know Baili Yuan’s grim invitation. Oh Buddha, she hadn’t told A-Yuan’s invitation to the governor or Xiahou Lian, so could they avoid that fateful battle, and could everyone come out unscathed and safe?
Her shiny black hair was listless on the ground, and A-Yuan lifted her head, gazing at the towering golden Buddha statue. A nun recited Buddha’s name and put a black meditation hat on the top of her head that had lost its long hair.
Buddha, give me great wisdom, grant me great benevolence.
I am willing to use a lifetime of asceticism to cleanse the sins of Baili Yuan of the North.
I am willing to use a lifetime of loneliness and difficulties in exchange for the safety of them all.
“Gege, I’ve waited for you for so long, I even thought that since you had a little brother you would be unwilling to part with your family, and retreat before battle like your father did.” Baili Yuan’s face was practically transparent, and her smile contained no temperature. “Fortunately, you didn’t disappoint me.”
“What happened to this girl’s face?” Xiahou Lian knitted his brows tightly. “How do you know bone-cutting and face-disguising?”
Baili Yuan walked down from the ruins, jumped to a slanted column of burnt wood, and sat down, her two feet suspended and swaying back and forth. She played with the tassel next to her skirt and smiled. “Ever since I saw your face I’ve always been very curious, exactly how did you do it? I sent people to investigate, and sure enough, they found Qiu Shan of the Qiu sect. Unfortunately, they had already died of illness in Qishan Temple. I could only think of a method myself, so I rummaged through the ancient books and records he had left behind and experimented on over a hundred people before finding this method of bone-cutting and face-disguising.”
She turned her head and said to Chi Yan, “Gege, do you want to hear how your little brother changed his face? First, he had to tear off all of the skin on his face inch by inch, starting from his chin, and tearing all the way to the top of his skull. Then, he cut open the flesh on his face and cut his bones. Sometimes, in order to cut out the ideal bone type, you even have to install an iron frame onto your facial bones. After suturing the flesh and skin, he also had to endure the pain that lasted for months. My substitutes told me that that feeling was like their face wasn’t their own, and even anesthesia can’t relieve the pain, so they could only rely on Bliss Fruit to be paralyzed. My substitute was too young, a twelve-year-old girl is too fragile, and five out of ten didn’t pull through. Xiahou Lian, you didn’t have Bliss Fruit at the time, how did you survive?”
Xiahou Lian licked his lips, and those years arose in his mind. Baili Yuan was right, one had to endure the pain of bone-cutting and flesh-tearing that was unimaginable for ordinary people. He remembered lying down in the pitch-dark monastic room and gazing at the ceiling, his face already numb from pain. He had no way of opening his mouth, as he would experience excruciating pain if the flesh on his face was pulled slightly. He could only drink a little bit of congee every day, and although he was only changing his face, his entire body had been emaciated into a skeleton.
The girl on the ground was already icy, and the circle of blood spread under his feet. This kind of pain must have been very brutal for a twelve-year-old girl, and Xiahou Lian took off his outer layer of clothes to cover her face. However, it was fortunate that she was already dead, so she would never feel pain from now on.
“Gege, your little brother spent such a large effort, just because he wanted to escape Garan.” Baili Yuan tilted her head, her large and jet-black eyes gazing unwaveringly at Chi Yan. “He indeed succeeded. Qiu Shan gave him a new face and Shen Jue gave him a new identity, so he isn’t a Garan assassin anymore, and everyone in the Eastern Depot reveres Sir Xiao Shen. Unfortunately…” Baili Yuan enunciated, “you came, and you destroyed all of his hard work. You pulled him back to Garan, and he became Xiahou Lian once again. Gege, you idiot, he doesn’t want to be your little brother at all!”
Chi Yan was stunned, his eyes wide as snowflakes descended slowly in front of his eyes.
“Bullshit!” Xiahou Lian said angrily, “I’m standing here, alive, you’re lying right in front of me!”
“Is it not true!” Baili Yuan said ferociously, “Did you not want to leave Garan, Xiahou Lian! You killed Shi Xin, you cut your bones and face, you concealed your identity, and you fetched bathwater for women in Yunxian Building, was it not just for this!”
“I…” Xiahou Lian was choked up.
Baili Yuan’s smile became bigger and bigger. “Gege, in this world, only I love you. We are the same people, we are… brother and sister!”
Chi Yan lowered his eyes, snow landing on his long and curved eyelashes so that they were like white moth wings perched on his thin face. Xiahou Lian couldn’t see his gaze, yet he could feel the sorrow at the bottom of his heart.
He said softly, “Xiao Lian, I am sorry.”
Perhaps Baili Yuan was right, and he shouldn’t have brought Xiahou Lian to Xue Mountain.
He recalled the first time Xiahou Lian had taken Bliss Fruit, and his appearance under the setting sun when he was laying next to Shen Jue’s legs and sleeping. His squinted eyes had been like a wild cat basking in the sun.
Chi Yan understood, What Xiao Lian truly longs for is that life. Perhaps only by dying under that sunlight and dying with the identity of Shen Lian could he obtain his final piece.
“Baili Yuan, what you said makes a bit of sense,” Xiahou Lian suddenly said. He turned his head back to look at Chi Yan; anyone could see the sadness in this guy’s eyes. Xiahou Lian thumped his shoulder and continued, “I indeed wanted to leave Garan even in my dreams, and I thought that I must have sinned in my past life to have been reincarnated in this hellish place of Garan in this life. But if the price of leaving Garan is denying that I am Xiahou Lian, denying that I am the son of Xiahou Pei, and denying that I am Chi Yan’s little brother, then I’ll accept my fate.”
Baili Yuan clenched her fists tightly.
“Chi Yan,” Xiahou Lian said, “the same blood flows in us, we are related by flesh and bone. Although, I’m indeed quite dissatisfied that you’re the older brother. You’re so foolish, no matter how one looks at it, I’m more like the older brother. But never mind, who made you come out of our mother’s womb a little earlier than me, if I’m the little brother then I’ll be the little brother.” Xiahou Lian scratched his head and called a little awkwardly, “Big Brother.”
Chi Yan looked at him blankly.
This was the first time Xiahou Lian had called him brother.
At that moment, fine and dense snowflakes seemed to bloom around him. Chi Yan’s clean and clear pupils contained a slight light. He said, “Little Brother.”
“Big Brother,” Xiahou Lian responded.
Chi Yan said again, “Little Brother.”
“…” Xiahou Lian hesitated for a moment; how long would they be addressing each other for? But when he saw Chi Yan gazing fixedly at him and waiting for him to speak, he could only summon up his courage and say, “Big Brother.”
Baili Yuan looked at the two people in the center of the pond, her heart turning cold inch by inch. She had still lost. She had forgotten that her older brothers had died in the fire, and even when they were still alive, no one called her “Little Sister.” She remembered their expressions of disgust, their slim eyes narrowing at her, their icy gazes landing on her thin and small body. She saw the corners of their mouths curve coldly, bluntly spitting out a few words: “Go away, unlucky!”
She was unlucky, an evil spirit, and a monster, not a little sister.
“Kill them,” Baili Yuan said indifferently, “and let them be brothers in hell.”
Instantly, the lights of sabers engulfed the pond, the wind and snow unable to conceal the dense saber lights. Snowflakes drifted down in the gaps between sabers, then rose along the wind, distantly curling up to the sky like small white butterflies, flapping their fragile wings and landing in Baili Yuan’s palm.
Baili Yuan swayed her legs as she watched the battle in the center of the pond. The two men had their backs against each other as they spread round chops, blood and flesh splashing and exploding around them, the blood blooming like flourishing flowers amid the howls. Sharp and fast sabers cut neat fractures with unparalleled speed, and the severed limbs strewn across the ice increased at a terrifying rate.
“Watch out for them arranging Leading Mechanism Silk, don’t let them leave the pond!” an assassin roared.
The assassins lunged toward them like shadowy owls, and amid the gaps of the swirling rain of blood, Xiahou Lian’s eyes contained a ruthlessness like a tiger’s and wolf’s. He stepped forward and swung his saber again, and at the same time, he pulled out a handbow with his left hand and shot a short arrow. The black and short arrow sliced through the icy air, passing between two assassins and piercing a piece of burnt wood outside the pond.
The assassin scoffed coldly and said, “Your aim isn’t too good, Xiahou Lian!”
Xiahou Lian viciously hooked up the corner of his mouth and retreated a step, standing back-to-back with Chi Yan. “Brother, let’s play big, how about it?”
“I’ll give this three-shooter to you!”
The two of them swiftly switched positions, and the instant they exchanged, Xiahou Lian threw a handbow to him. Chi Yan held the three-holed bow in one hand and Shana in the other, shooting out three short arrows at the same time he swung wheel chops. The short arrows passed through the wind, snow, and curtain of blood, piercing an assassin’s chest and nailing him onto the thick surface of the ice. The assassins advanced wave upon wave and pounced toward them, but it was as if they had woven a field that was difficult to invade. Everyone who entered the range of Shana and Bushenglian was swiftly killed, the rain of blood continuously showering onto their shoulders, their faces covered in blood.
The assassins gradually didn’t dare to advance any more, and they began to surround them, hesitatingly prowling. Everyone realized that these two men were the strongest blades that had come from Garan; if assassins were ghosts and monsters, then they were dark and stern Asuras.
“Hey, you all don’t want to play anymore?” Xiahou Lian bared his teeth in a smile, his white teeth containing a tameless ferociousness on his face that was covered in blood.
The assassins prowled silently, their gloomy and cold gazes looking at the two of them.
“Then it’s our turn.”
Xiahou Lian retracted Bushenglian and slowly spread his hands. Behind him, Chi Yan spread his hands in the same way. Countless Leading Mechanism Silks appeared amid the wind and snow, streaks of flowing light flashing past, connected at the ends to the short arrows they had shot out, like flying stars amid the snow. The Lead Mech Silks were humming, and small shudders formed on the assassins’ spines. It turned out that they had used the meteoric iron arrows as endpoints to weave a Leading Silk killing net!
No one had seen such an astoundingly giant net before. Two people, one hundred twelve Lead Mech Silks, practically covering the entire pond like a spiderweb. The assassins who had fallen into the net array already couldn’t move, and they watched helplessly as thin and long lines of blood appeared on their limbs. They were prey captured by the spiderweb, and Xiahou Lian and Chi Yan were the spiders in the center of the web, grinding their teeth and sucking blood, as they bared their fangs.
“There’s a gap on the south side!” Baili Yuan’s voice suddenly sounded. “The silk array has an opening.”
Xiahou Lian was abruptly shocked, and he subconsciously looked toward the south side. It was empty. They had missed a corner; one hundred twelve strands wasn’t enough! There was still a corner that was empty!
The assassins outside the pond gathered there, stepping on snowflakes as they approached Xiahou Lian and Chi Yan step by step. The long sabers in their hands were like cold ice, reflecting their owners’ gloomy and frightening gazes.
“What if I added fifty-six more strands?”
In the depths of the snow fog, a slender figure appeared, and countless short arrows shot past with rustles. The assassins were hit from the back and howled as they fell down. In the snow fog, the man stepped on the ruins under the cover of the flying arrows, sweeping over the top of the assassins’ heads like a swallow and landing next to Xiahou Lian. Shen Jue pulled the Lead Mech Silk and smiled viciously. “There must be enough now.”
“Young Master!” Xiahou Lian stared at him in disbelief and glimpsed his left sleeve which had been soaked in blood from his peripheral vision. “What happened to your hand!”
“Shut up!” Shen Jue glared at him and said, “I’ve finally seen through you two brothers, you say nice things in your mouths, but you’re secretly insidious! One is a traitor and one is a hypocrite, sure enough, you’re good brothers!”
Xiahou Lian was helpless.
Chi Yan asked blankly, “Did you come to castrate my little brother?”
Shen Jue was stunned for a moment before continuing to sneer, “If you didn’t say that, I would’ve forgotten…”
Xiahou Lian was utterly broken as he shouted, “Let’s concentrate, you two!”
The three of them swiftly switched position, and the silk net twisted in invisible gaps, the astoundingly huge net instantly taking shape. The assassins lifted their heads and seemed to see even the wind and snow be cut apart by the deadly silk. As the fog gradually dissipated, they were the beasts trapped in the cage of the silk net.
Xiahou Lian licked his teeth and looked up, clear blood vessels slowly appearing in his eyes.
“Leading Silk Hundred Net Array, close!”
The three of them clenched their fingers at the same time, and the inescapable net instantly shrank into knots. The assassins’ bodies were instantly strangled, blood blooming into flowers in the air. The blood dripped onto the ice, dying and seeping down. The entire surface of the ice was dyed to be bright red, and the pond became a bloody cold pond.
Baili Yuan gazed impassively at the situation below, snowflakes falling profusely and disorderly before her eyes. She heard the assassins’ screams and howls as she gazed dazedly into the distance. In her daze, she seemed to hear A-Chu-jiejie’s voice, coming distantly along the fluttering wind, as if going past thousands of miles of mountains and waters.
It’s my imagination, she thought. A-Chu hates me so much, like hating an enemy.
AHHHH JUST THREE CHAPTERS LEFT IM SO EXCITED
although idk if i’m being paranoid but i don’t think Chi Yan will survive, i don’t really know why but he has just so many dead flags on him.
thanks for the chapter and the translation!!!!
Yaaaaay, SJ came to save the day!!
Are A-Chu’s prayers going to come true? Are they all going to stay alive??
And, Chi Yan, still being his adorkable self with the whole Big Brother/Little Brother dialogue and asking SJ whether XHL is going to be castrated. 🤣 Really really hoping that CY gets to live. 🤞🤞🤞
Thank you for the amazing chapter!
Thank You for the new chapter (⋈◍＞◡＜◍)。✧♡
Baili Yuan, you are so wrong about A-Chu. She never hated you, but your bitter & twisted views; manipulation and hate for those she felt loyalty towards, that was what she hated.
This author’s ability to write breath hitching fight scenes, that turn them into almost art, is amazing. The strategies and tactics are SO clever. Totally believable and words that make it visual.
Please let it be over and those characters I’ve grown to love, be safe.
Ta 4 translating, T/Ns & editing.
AHHHHHHHH I need next three chapters very urgently!!!!!!!