Translated by Vivian of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The yard of the main courtyard was full of corpses, and blood formed small rivers that flowed slowly in a ditch. The assassins were counting bodies when a tall, black-clothed man held Xiahou Lian by the collar as he walked over and tossed so that Xiahou Lian was thrown ruthlessly into the middle of the pile of corpses. His white undergarments were instantly covered in blood, and a strong smell of blood engulfed his mouth and nose, making him want to throw up. Xiahou Lian crawled up from the ground, and from the corner of his eye, he glimpsed the corpses of Xie Bingfeng and Mrs. Xiao hugging each other, their faces frozen into an expression of fear that approached hideousness.
The assassins gathered around and stared at Xiahou Lian in the center.
“Mahoraga, what happened?” asked Uncle Duan.
The Mahoraga took off his mask, revealing a cold and grim face. “He let someone go.”
Uncle Duan glanced at Xiahou Lian and asked, “Who did he let go?”
“I don’t know who, he gave his clothes and mask to that person. The Kinnara and I thought that it was him, so we let him leave.” The assassin who had been playing hopscotch before spoke. “Kinnara, don’t you think so?”
Qiu Ye didn’t say anything and only touched the top of Xiahou Lian’s head.
An assassin said coldly, “Xiahou Lian, who lent you the guts, you actually dared to let a prey go!”
Another assassin smiled. “It’s naturally the Garuda. This brat relies on the fact that his mother is great, what won’t he dare to do? Last time, he even plucked out all of my hens’ feathers.”
An assassin in the back who had been counting bodies said, “I already checked, there were one hundred and eight people in Xie Manor, and not one is missing.”
All of the assassins looked at each other. The Mahoraga asked, “Did you count correctly?”
“I did indeed,” replied the assassin.
The assassin who had been playing hopscotch before said, “But I indeed saw someone wearing his clothes leave. Uncle Duan, your saber was also with him.”
Uncle Duan didn’t have time to be distressed about his short saber. “In my view, why don’t we just turn a blind eye to this? The number of people in the notebook isn’t missing any, so it doesn’t matter.” He turned toward the Mahoraga and said, “We don’t need to argue with a child.”
“Child?” The Mahoraga sneered and said, “I was twelve when I debuted and killed people. At the time, no one said that I was still a child. Not to mention the abbot has always been impartial and incorruptible. If he found out, we’d all be whipped.”
Uncle Duan sighed and turned toward Xiahou Lian, scolding, “Brat, hurry up and tell us, exactly who did you let go? I don’t watch you for a moment and you cause me trouble!”
Xiahou Lian said hoarsely, “It was a little miss of Xie Manor.”
The Mahoraga asked, “Why doesn’t the notebook have her name on it?”
Xiahou Lian said in partial truth, “She has never been liked by Xie Bingfeng, and last time, she verbally offended Xie Bingfeng even further, so Xie Bingfeng didn’t make her memorize the memorial to the throne. Perhaps her name isn’t recorded in Xie Manor’s directory, either.”
The Mahoraga continued to ask, “Where did she go?”
“I don’t know.”
The Mahoraga pulled out a dagger and used the point of the blade to lift Xiahou Lian’s chin, forcing him to look straight at his eyes. “Don’t play tricks, spit out what you know.”
Xiahou Lian met his ghastly gaze without timidness.
Qiu Ye’s fingertips flashed with a cold light, and a blade as thin as a cicada wing rested against the Mahoraga’s wrist. He smiled and said, “Garan prohibits vigilantism.”
The Mahoraga squinted, saying, “Kinnara, are you trying to protect him?”
Qiu Ye calmly pressed Qiushui onto the Mahoraga’s wrist, forcing him to put the dagger down, and the curve at the corner of his mouth didn’t diminish at all.
“I’m only maintaining the temple regulations.”
The Mahoraga didn’t dispute further with Qiu Ye and reluctantly put the dagger away.
In Garan, besides the abbot, the positions of the Eight Legions were the most respected, and among the Eight Legions, besides the Garuda, the other seven legions were equal in strength. Qiu Ye was famed for his fingertip saber, Qiushui, which was as thin as a cicada wing and sharp on both ends. It spun ceaselessly on his fingertips, and it was unknown just how many masters he had assassinated. However, Qiu Ye also had an identity that was even more daunting; he was Garan’s punisher and was in charge of all the assassins in Garan’s Zhanni Hall 1. Anyone who betrayed Garan died under the blade of Qiushui.
But no matter what, Mahoraga was still one of the Eight Legions, so Qiu Ye also had to fear him a little.
“Do you even know the temple regulations? As the punisher, do you know the punishment for Xiahou Lian letting a prey go?” The Mahoraga’s gaze became sinister, and he enunciated, “Killed without mercy.”
“Even if it’s to be killed without mercy, this should still be handed over to the abbot to handle, and then I’ll carry out the punishment,” said Qiu Ye.
“All right, you two, the top priority right now is to find that little miss.” Uncle Duan pulled apart the two of them who were ready to fight and asked Xiahou Lian, “What’s her name?”
Xiahou Lian said, “Xie Jinglan, jing as in quiet and lan as in orchid 2.”
“This brat is lying.” A hoarse, old voice suddenly sounded, and an old man leaning on a cane slowly walked over. Xiahou Lian turned and saw that it was the elder who was a spy and had given him the saber scroll and medicinal concoction.
It was over now, he couldn’t deceive these fools anymore.
“Xie Manor only has one Xie Jinglan, it’s a boy, and it’s the little young master he served. This kid is soft-hearted, I’m afraid he has feelings for this little young master.” The old man used his cane to knock on Xiahou Lian’s head and shook his head. “I’ve already told you that you’re not suited for being an assassin, see, you’ve caused trouble.”
Joining in blindly. Xiahou Lian clenched his fists.
“This brat is sly and full of lies. If we don’t punish him, we won’t be able to ask anything out of him,” an assassin in the back said.
Qiu Ye glanced at that person and said, “Garan prohibits vigilantism. If there’s something to say, you can say it after we return to the temple.”
“How can it be called vigilantism with you as the punisher? If we don’t catch the prey who escaped, I won’t be able to explain it to Eunuch Wei, and it’ll ruin Garan’s reputation. How can we bear this sin? Even if the abbot was here, he would surely use torture to interrogate about the whereabouts of the prey.” The person sneered, “Or, is Sir Kinnara scared that when the Garuda returns and finds out that you tortured her son, she’ll trouble you?”
The Mahoraga also sneered, “Don’t worry, Kinnara, it’s already been three months with no news of Xiahou Pei, I’m afraid she already died long ago in the Western Regions.”
“Bullshit!” When Xiahou Lian heard this, he roared with red eyes, “Bah, even if you were eaten up by ants, my mother wouldn’t die!”
Uncle Duan shouted sternly, “Xiahou Lian! Be quiet!”
Qiu Ye pressed down on Xiahou Lian’s head to keep him still and sighed. “Everyone only guessed half of it right. Not only do I fear the Garuda, I also fear the abbot.”
The Mahoraga said uncertainly, “What do you mean?”
Qiu Ye smiled. “Have all of you never wondered who Xiahou Lian’s father is?”
“You mean… How is that possible!” All of the assassins turned pale with fright.
Qiu Ye let out a low laugh and said in a low yet extremely clear voice, “That’s right, it’s Buddha Shi Xin, our abbot.”
Xiahou Lian’s face didn’t have surprise or happiness. He stood with his brows knitted, as if he didn’t want to hear the abbot’s name.
Someone asked, “How can this be? Why would the abbot and the Garuda have a child together? And all these years, why didn’t he take any notice of Xiahou Lian?”
Uncle Duan sighed. “The abbot wouldn’t, but the Garuda would. Ten years ago, the abbot looked quite handsome…”
As soon as he said this, the assassins’ expressions became mysterious and complicated. This was undoubtedly a shame and secret the abbot had hidden for many years, so no one dared to say anything.
“I don’t think the abbot wants to recognize this brat as his son at all.” The Mahoraga played with the dagger in his hand and said in ridicule, “Everyone, don’t forget, Xiahou Lian also has a twin brother. His name is Chi Yan, and he was taken away by the abbot as soon as he was born. I heard that in these years, the abbot settled him at the top of Black-Faced Buddha and taught him devotedly. Now, he has already learned the Garan saber techniques extremely thoroughly. Since the two of them are both the abbot’s son, why does he take no notice of this one, yet gives his all to teach the other?”
Someone said, “Could it be that the abbot and the Garuda already discussed it and decided that they would each take one, and that they couldn’t get in each other’s way?”
Brother? Xiahou Lian was very surprised. He had never known that he had a brother, and he looked up, wanting to ask Qiu Ye. However, when he saw his grave expression, he forced his words back.
The Mahoraga said, “Since the abbot doesn’t plan on wanting this child at all, I expect that even if we dealt with him, he won’t mind.”
All of the assassins nodded. Xiahou Pei was usually very unruly and did things her way. The assassins in Garan either had grudges against her or disliked her, so now that they had a good opportunity to punish her son, no one wanted to let it go.
Someone asked again, “But what if Xiahou Pei comes back…”
The Mahoraga said coldly, “Didn’t I say before, that woman already died long ago in the…”
Before he could finish, a long saber sliced through the ghastly night, falling directly toward the Mahoraga’s head. The Mahoraga swiftly pulled out the sharp blade at his waist and chopped the saber back in the direction it came from. The long saber spun in the air and fell into a slender hand.
Everyone turned around. A figure as slender as a crane walked out of the darkness, and her cheeks as bright and beautiful as roses were exposed under the moonlight. Her red lips were like fire, the tips of her brows as sharp as sabers. Her face was clearly filled with killing intent, yet it was breathtakingly beautiful.
The corner of her mouth rose into the hint of a very provocative smile. “Who said that I died in the Western Regions?”
Xiahou Lian’s eyes lit up, and he said loudly, “Mother!”
Everyone looked at Xiahou Pei, all of them with expressions of disbelief. She had disappeared in the Western Regions for as long as three months and had actually come back alive. This meant that the Chakravarti had died at her hands. Everyone’s gazes gathered at the snakeskin bag on the side of Xiahou Pei’s waist. The bag was round and bulging, and the bottom of the bag was covered in blood. Without a doubt, it contained the head of the Chakravarti.
In the end, the Chakravarti who had killed three of Garan’s assassins in a row still died at Xiahou Pei’s hands. With this level of saber skill, no one in Garan besides the abbot could be a match for her. There was fear in the Mahoraga’s eyes, and he calmly retreated a few steps.
“Ah, how unlucky, I have neither broken my arms nor my legs, and have come back whole and in one piece. I didn’t fulfill the wish you’ve been thinking about every day and every night, awfully sorry about that.” Xiahou Pei brought Xiahou Lian next to her, and the corner of her mouth rose in a sinister and mocking smile.
Her smile had always been malicious and made people intimidated upon seeing it. The Mahoraga cautiously concealed his fear and said coldly, “Xiahou Pei, your son secretly let a little miss of Xie Manor go. Even if you’re ranked first in the Eight Legions, don’t even think about letting this go unpunished!”
The old man who was shrinking in the back coughed. “It’s a little young master.”
Xiahou Pei shrugged. “Do you think I’m a turtle hiding in its shell like you? Hey, that Qiu Something Ye, what are Garan’s rules again?”
Qiu Ye said, “According to the rules, Xiahou Lian should be punished by death, but I expect that the abbot will give him a way out.”
Xiahou Pei looked down at Xiahou Lian and said, “Son, since you let them go, you should have already made up your mind.”
Xiahou Lian nodded. “I have made up my mind.”
“How about it, are you going to obediently receive your punishment, or risk your life to resist? If you choose the first one, I’ll take you back to the mountain. If you choose the second one, I’ll kill everyone here, and we’ll escape far away.”
Even Xiahou Lian was stunned by Xiahou Pei’s heroic spirit. He knew that his mother was great, but he hadn’t expected that she was great to this degree. She could actually kill twenty of Garan’s first-class assassins by herself?
When everyone heard this, they immediately exploded and pointed at Xiahou Pei, scolding, “Xiahou Pei, you talk so big! Not even talking about whether you can kill us or not, just the Mid-July in your body alone is enough to kill you!”
Xiahou Pei smiled. “Living happily for however long counts for however long, why care about so much? How about it, Son?”
Xiahou Lian said doubtfully, “Can you really beat them?”
“Of course not, but isn’t this our Xiao Lian all grown up? You have a sweetheart. What’s her name again? Ah, Xie Jinglan, what does she look like, how does she compare to Liu Ji?”
Xiahou Lian’s entire face flushed from embarrassment. “Mother, don’t talk nonsense.”
After he said this, he also couldn’t help but think, How can Xie Jinglan be compared to Liu Ji and those women who only knew to apply rouge and powder?
“Hahaha, okay, listen. Son, if you want to do something then do it, but for the choices you make, you have to bear the choices’ consequences. In short, the choice is up to you, and your mother will risk her life to accompany you until the end.” Xiahou Pei embraced Xiahou Lian, the killing intent in her eyes disappearing without a trace, revealing the brilliant light in her eyes that were like stars.
His original perturbation disappeared completely, and Xiahou Lian inexplicably had the courage to contend with everything. He wiped the dust off his face and took a deep breath.
Everyone took a step back, the sabers in their hands lightly pushing out of their scabbards.
They hadn’t been assassins for only one or two years, everyone knew what kind of lunatic Xiahou Pei was. She had always assassinated alone and didn’t aid or rescue others. Assassins who just started out admired her courage and bravery, saying that she definitely had the resolution for certain victory. However, people only had to slightly understand her to know that her resolution wasn’t for certain victory, it was for certain death.
As long as one was a person, they would cherish their own life. However, Xiahou Pei didn’t fear life or death. In her eyes, the lives of prey were as cheap as ants, and her own life was also as light as a feather! It was precisely because of this that she could become Garan’s sharpest blade.
Everyone believed that, as long as Xiahou Lian said that he chose to risk his life and escape far away, Xiahou Pei would definitely draw the Hengbo whose fame shook the world. Although it wasn’t possible for her to kill all of the assassins, with her saber skills, there would definitely be people who wouldn’t see tomorrow’s sun.
Lunatic, everyone cursed angrily in their minds, This lunatic!
Xiahou Lian spoke. “I accept my punishment, Mother, take me back to the mountain.”