Translated by Vivian of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
On the south side of the hillside, a man in black gazed afar at the killing field below the hillside. The black-clothed assassins were like a surging wave as they swiftly swept the entire battlefield. The righteous disciples were ruthlessly crushed and devoured, washed down like rows of fallen rice stalks. He made an “eh” and signaled for the spy behind him to put down the crossbow in his hands. The front sight of the crossbow had originally been aimed at Liu Guizang on the high platform.
“It turns out this brat Xiao Lian has backup.” The man in black chuckled. A hood covered his face, only revealing a thin mustache on top of his lips that shook lightly with his chuckle. “We old fogeys should back off. This battlefield belongs to those young people.”
Tang Shiqi was dumbstruck when he saw these Garan assassins who had descended from the sky. He murmured to Shu Qing, “Damn, having a father is different. Take a look, he must have summoned all of your Garan’s southwest spies to Liuzhou!”
“No… No, he hasn’t!” Shu Qing stared at an assassin who bent over and raised their saber, cutting two righteous disciples down with their saber at the lift of a hand. “They’re not from Garan, they’re not using Garan’s saber techniques!”
Tang Shiqi was stunned and asked, “If they’re not from Garan, then… who are they?”
The black-clothed raging tide opened a path ahead, submerging the righteous disciples as if destroying withered wood and weeds. The assassin carried Xiahou Lian and ran straight to the high platform.
All of the sect leaders looked at each other, a taste of terror at the bottoms of their hearts. But they were on the high platform, and in front of them was the killing field where flesh and blood flew in all directions and behind them was a tall mountain. They had no way to retreat, so they could only meet them head-on!
When they were near the high platform, the assassin stopped the horse and said, “Go!”
He dismounted the horse and drew a long saber with a narrow blade from the side of the horse. The blade as bright as silver reflected the sunlight, flowing out of the scabbard like mercury. It was a saber that had been forged with extremely exquisite craftsmanship, but the patterns on the hilt and scabbard had been purposely polished so that one couldn’t identify where it had come from. Xiahou Lian immediately understood that this person was concealing his own identity.
But he didn’t have time to think. He also dismounted the horse, clamped Hengbo between his elbows, and then fiercely drew it out. The bloodstains were wiped clean, revealing Hengbo’s sparkling blade. The two of them held their sabers side-by-side like evil spirits that had crawled out of hell’s abyss, walking to the high platform with seething killing intent.
Two people swung down from their horses and lowered their heads, kneeling before the high platform to serve as their stairs. The footsteps of Xiahou Lian and the other person became faster and faster, turning into a run at the end. Their breathing instantly adjusted to the best form, and then they stepped forcibly onto the assassins’ shoulders, leaping onto the high platform!
“Liu Guizang is mine. Don’t interfere!” shouted Xiahou Lian.
“I know!” The assassin blocked a chop that came from the sect leader of Heaven’s First Saber and fiercely kicked him away.
Xiahou Lian brandished Hengbo. Hengbo howled as it created a wind, and it bit Liu Guizang’s blade as if opening its fangs. The two of them were saber-to-saber, face-to-face, and they could hear each other’s breathing.
“Person whose surname is Liu, today is your death date!”
“Xiahou Lian, you good-for-nothing! You can’t kill me!” roared Liu Guizang. His graying beard was frenzied and chaotic, like a raging lion. Their sabers continuously collided, separated, and collided again. Dazzling sparks flew everywhere, and the parts between their thumbs and index fingers split after a few collisions.
While Xiahou Lian’s and Liu Guizang’s battle was in full swing, the other sect leaders had joined to besiege the assassin as if in tacit communication. However, they discovered that this assassin’s saber techniques were like a ghost and were actually even more difficult to deal with than Xiahou Lian’s. The momentum of his saber changed and was unpredictable. There was no way to keep up and even less way to predict it. When the sect leader of Gentleman’s Saber raised his saber, wanting to break his head-on blow, that saber moved around his saber like a venomous snake and bit on his arm.
Terrifying, terrifying! The hearts of the sect leaders grew cold, and when their sabers collided, someone inadvertently made contact with the assassin’s eye. It was instantly as if a piece of ice was lying inside his heart. Those were eyes like a mountain ghost’s, congealed with a sorrowful frost that eternally wouldn’t melt. If one said that Xiahou Lian was a strong flame, then he was a lonely and cold ice!
But they had five people after all! They exchanged meaningful glances and swiftly changed positions, launching an unending offensive of circular chops. This was a saber formation. There was a person standing in every direction of the assassin, so even if he had three heads and six arms, there was no way he could look after all of his weak points! Soon, the assassin’s offensive slowed down, and a sharp, scalding pain came from his back. The assassin staggered a few times and swiftly flipped to dodge a fatal vertical chop.
Seeing the situation, Xiahou Lian immediately gave up on entangling with Liu Guizang and rapidly turned back to aid him.
The two of them were shoulder-to-shoulder and close together. Xiahou Lian asked, “Brother, you’re okay, right!”
“A minor injury.” The assassin gritted his teeth.
“Hey, brother, you still haven’t told me exactly who you are?”
“Me?” The assassin took a deep look at Xiahou Lian and let out a low laugh, swinging his saber and cutting off a sect leader’s arm. “Xiahou Lian, I am your savior!”
Xiahou Lian was stunned, and an answer emerged vividly in his heart.
But how was that possible? They had already been separated for seven entire years, and the time of seven years was enough to make everything beyond recognition. Even if he wanted to come and save him, he was far away in the capital. How could he have come from the capital to Liuzhou, which was thousands of miles away, in a few day’s time?
As he swung his saber, he thought about that youth who was as sorrowful as a lone swan goose.
Somehow, the assassin’s tall figure gradually coincided with that youth’s back. They had the same isolation, the same tenacity, and the same indomitability. He had never fought shoulder-to-shoulder with this assassin before, but it was as if they already knew each other intimately, coordinating perfectly. When he blocked a saber of thunder from the sect leader of Raging Tide Sect, a blade behind him immediately sent into the sect leader’s abdomen. When the assassin resisted a cut of turning clouds from the Gentleman’s Saber, he swung his saber forward and cut off the head of the Gentleman’s Saber.
Xiahou Lian pursed his lips tightly. That strange feeling emerged once again, quietly flowing in his heart.
But how was that possible? In a few day’s time, Shen Jue had no way of coming here anyway! Xiahou Lian shook his head vigorously and stopped thinking more about it, devoting himself to fighting again.
Not long afterward, all of the sect leaders fell to the ground, one after another, only leaving behind Liu Guizang holding a saber and standing by himself.
Liu Guizang’s expression was dignified as he looked in disbelief at the ground covered in blood. These sect leaders had died, so the righteous way was just about finished.
The assassin put his saber away and waited quietly at the side. Xiahou Lian nodded to him and carried his saber, walking toward Liu Guizang. He didn’t see the slightly trembling hands at the sides of the assassin’s body. Actually, his strength had already been exhausted, and deep exhaustion hung over his entire body, so even if he wanted to help Xiahou Lian kill Liu Guizang, his strength couldn’t match his ambitions.
“Hey, Liu Cuckold, your death is imminent, so what else do you want to say?” Xiahou Lian used his sleeve to wipe Hengbo. The blade reflected the sunlight and shone on the ground, swaying.
“Xiahou Lian, do you want to hear me beg for mercy?” Liu Guizang smiled coldly, a ferocious gleam like a tiger’s and leopard’s hidden in his eyes. “Dream on. I’m the successor of the Qi Clan Military Saber, so how can I beg for mercy from a villain like you!” He turned around and gazed at the killing field below the high platform. The righteous disciples were dead and wounded, practically completely wiped out. Black-clothed assassins rode on horses, prowling in the killing field, and desolate sorrow arose in his eyes.
“Revenge? Xiahou Lian, you’ve always said that you wanted to take revenge on me, but do you know that my shifu, the third generation of successors of the Qi Clan Saber, died at the hands of your mother! Me killing her was also avenging my master’s death! That day also had a big sun like this. My shifu was of old age, and my shifu’s wife kneeled on the ground and begged the Garuda to spare his life. But your mother didn’t have any mercy at all. Her saber fell at the lift of her hand, and she put my shifu’s head into a bag. You assassins have heinous blood debts, and your corpses should be separated from your heads, dying a graveless death!”
Xiahou Lian was silent for a moment, and he suddenly let out a short laugh. “Our blood debts are heinous, but do you think that you’re clean? Person whose surname is Liu, don’t you know exactly how much blood your hands are stained with? If you create a karma of killing, you will be killed in retribution. Those who hold sabers will be killed by sabers. Your shifu had your shifu’s retribution, my mother had my mother’s retribution, you had your retribution, and I will also have my retribution. The choices this world leaves people originally aren’t many. Starting from when your shifu picked up a saber and killed the first person, we would not have stopped until death.”
Liu Guizang was stunned for a second, and he also laughed. “My life’s wish was to have the Qi Clan Saber stand tall in the martial arts world, passed on for hundreds of generations, and never end. Now it seems that it can’t. Forget it, it’s all right if inauspicious weapons aren’t passed down. Come, Xiahou Lian! This battle only has you and me!”
In Xiahou Lian’s hands, Hengbo abruptly shook, and the blade reflected the sunlight, gleaming brightly. Fierce killing intent howled and approached with the wind! Xiahou Lian ran abruptly toward Liu Guizang, and the floor of the high platform trembled violently underneath his feet. The sleeves of his white prison clothes fluttered in the wind like moth wings, and Hengbo arrived head-on!
Liu Guizang carried his saber and looked directly at the saber light of Hengbo that was like the moon in water. His face was practically tensed into an ice sculpture, and his breath surged in his chest like thunder. However, he suddenly let go of the Japanese saber in his hand, and the Japanese saber fell to the ground with a clatter. He closed his eyes and met Hengbo’s unmatched sharp point. The point of the saber pierced his chest, burning hot blood gushed out, and he collapsed like a mountain.
Xiahou Lian was stunned, still holding Hengbo. Liu Guizang’s chest heaved violently, and he stretched his hand out, tightly holding Xiahou Lian’s shoulder.
“Xiahou Lian, do you think that… killing me is considered taking revenge…” Liu Guizang chuckled coldly. “You’re wrong… wrong! Your enemy is in Garan!”
“What do you mean!” As if a clap of thunder had struck the top of his forehead, Xiahou Lian was stunned on the spot.
“Your retribution is coming soon!” Liu Guizang lifted his neck, spit out his last mouthful of blood, and his hand fell down from Xiahou Lian’s shoulder. He went completely silent.
“What do you mean! Say it clearly! Say it clearly for me!” Xiahou Lian shook Liu Guizang’s corpse that was gradually becoming icy. Liu Guizang’s lifeless eyes were wide open, as if he was ridiculing Xiahou Lian’s ignorance.
In Garan? What did Liu Guizang mean? Xiahou Lian had a splitting headache.
“Are you dumb?” The assassin spoke from behind him. “Garan has a mole, and I’m afraid their backing isn’t small.”
“I know!” Xiahou Lian looked back. The assassin was sitting on a chair and resting, his saber placed across his knees. “I just…”
“Didn’t dare to believe it?” The assassin laughed. “What’s there not to believe? The world bustles when the profit comes, and the world bustles when the profit goes. If it’s profitable, betraying friends and relatives isn’t a difficult matter, let alone colleagues?”
“Then what profit do you get from saving me?” Xiahou Lian looked at him suspiciously. “Brother, exactly who are you?”
The assassin closed his mouth. An assassin from below rushed onto the platform and shouted, “Boss, soldiers are coming!”
“Boss, soldiers are coming, are you done yet, let’s withdraw quickly!” Tang Shiqi also roared toward them.
The assassin jumped down from the platform, mounted his horse, and made a gesture. A few assassins swung down from their own horses and mounted their colleagues’ horses.
“I’ll leave these horses for you all.” The assassin held the reins. “Xiahou Lian, take good care of your life.”
“Hey, you still haven’t told me who you are!” Xiahou Lian shouted to him.
The assassin ignored him and led the people away, only leaving behind a view of his back.
Xiahou Lian shouted loudly, “Young Master! Young Master! Fuck your uncle 1, is it you!”
The assassin didn’t look back, and the troops entered the dense forest in an orderly manner. In an instant, there was only the ground covered in corpses and the bleak rustling of the wind on the field.
Xiahou Lian jumped off of the high platform and grabbed Shu Qing’s collar, asking, “How long was I locked up?”
“Exactly seventeen days.” Shu Qing struggled to get out from under his hands. “Shige, exactly who were those people? Your friends? Why did they disguise themselves as our people?”
“Didn’t you hear, the boss called that person Young Master just now.” Tang Shiqi’s face was covered in sneakiness. “Boss, tell us honestly, are you depending on a powerful young master? That’s really not bad, you’re more promising than me!”
Xiahou Lian was confused and upset. It turned out that he had been locked up for seventeen days, but from the capital to Liuzhou, it was more than two thousand miles, and they also had to go over two large mountains, so seventeen days wasn’t enough at all. Not to mention that that person’s saber techniques had been like a ghost, and he had never heard of or seen it before. If it was the young master, then he should have been using the Garan Saber he had taught him.
Exactly who the hell is this!
And that cuckold Liu Guizang who didn’t speak clearly, fuck him! Xiahou Lian climbed onto a horse, ignored Tang Shiqi’s and Shu Qing’s chattering from behind him, and randomly picked a path, running forward.
Behind him, in the depths of the dense forest, the assassin rode on his horse and distantly gazed at his back. The assassin took off his plain porcelain mask, revealing a fair cheeks. Shen Jue let out a few low coughs, and before his eyes was a bluish black with exhaustion that was difficult to hide.
The Eastern Depot cavalrymen 2 took off their black clothes, revealing yesa robes woven with gold embroidery thread.
“Governor, you’re wounded,” reminded a cavalryman.
Right after he said this, Shen Jue’s figure shook, and he suddenly fell headfirst from his horse. The cavalrymen were shocked and shouted “Governor” as they hurriedly dismounted their horses and held up the unconscious Shen Jue.
Situ Jin stepped into the backyard of the Eastern Depot yamen in Liuzhou. Liuzhou’s eunuch-in-charge 3, Yu Xianru, was already waiting under the eaves and walking back and forth with his hands clasped behind his back, and his face was very anxious. When he lifted his eyes and saw Situ Jin, it was as if he had seen his own mother, and he came up to him with a face full of joy.
“Ah, Battalion Commander Situ, you’re finally here!” Yu Xianru followed his every step as he followed behind Situ Jin. “Ah, talk about this governor, he didn’t even say hello and suddenly popped up with a poof. He didn’t even have time to take a sip of tea before he ordered five hundred underlings, hurriedly went to the outskirts, and killed Liu Guizang. It scared me! Ah, say, e-exactly what is going on!”
Situ Jin glanced at him coldly.
When Yu Xianru saw the expression in Situ Jin’s eyes, his heart thumped, and he was instantly agitated. He stammered as he asked, “Battalion Commander Situ… the governor raced on an urgent trip in the night and rushed to Liuzhou without stopping, and I heard that he only slept four hours every day on the way. Could it be… Could it be that he was following orders from that higher-up?”
Situ Jin stopped and asked back without answering, “If it wasn’t, what do you think?”
Yu Xianru had mixed with the Eastern Depot for many years, so he naturally knew the underhanded activities in it. He was instantly frightened out of his wits, and he said hastily, “I was confused! I was confused!”
The door of the yamen was suddenly noisy, and a group of underlings carrying box after box came in, placing them in the yard of the Eastern Depot’s courtyard. Yu Xianru’s mind was blank, and he pointed at those boxes, asking Situ Jin, “What… What is this?”
“They were taken from Liu Guizang’s house.” Situ Jin walked into the yard and lifted a lid, and there were neatly stacked Qi Clan Military Sabers inside. “Half a month ago, a note came into the capital’s yamen saying that Liu Guizang intended to rebel. The assembly for the beheading of the Nameless Ghost in Liuzhou was fake, but Liu Guizang assembling accomplices to rebel was real. The governor made a prompt decision and sped thousands of miles to strangle this plot in its cradle.”
“Then… Then he should have delivered the message to Liuzhou’s guards and had the soldiers arrest him. How… How come…” Yu Xianru’s entire life had been smooth, and he had never met such a big matter as this. He wiped the sweat on his face. “A-And Liu Guizang is in the martial arts circle and opened martial arts schools, so having some sabers, spears, and clubs in his house is also reasonable…”
Situ Jin lifted the lid of the last box, revealing the shiny hand cannons 4 inside. “Is having hand cannons also reasonable?” He picked up one of the hand cannons and weighed it in his hand. “Five Thunder Divine Machine Cannon 5. The imperial court orders that it is prohibited for people to privately possess firearms. This traitor knowingly committed this crime, so what is the reason?”
Seeing the hand cannon, Yu Xianru was completely dumbfounded, and he hastily said, “Commander Situ, I… I never knew about this! This traitor actually privately possessed firearms! He really is guilty and deserves to die ten thousand deaths! Fortunately, the governor arrived in time, otherwise wouldn’t our Liuzhou be plunged into misery and suffering!”
“As for why the governor came here instead of sending an official denunciation to Liuzhou,” Situ Jin said indifferently, “how much silver have you collected from Liu Guizang? At the time if it was Liuzhou’s guards instead of the governor who had taken Liu Guizang’s account books, I’m afraid it would be hard for you to evade guilt. The governor disguised himself as a Garan assassin and hid his identity because he didn’t want the matter of Liu Guizang’s treason to cause a big scandal, spread, and shake people’s hearts for no reason.”
As if a clap of thunder had exploded in Yu Xianru’s mind, and his legs trembled in fear, almost about to kneel down. He was briefly stunned and then realized that the governor had saved his measly life. His eyes instantly became red and he knelt onto the ground with a thump, worshiping again and again, “Thank the governor for saving my life! Thank the governor for saving my life!”
Seeing his appearance, Situ Jin shook his head, ignored him, and walked toward the wing room in the back. He walked through the hallway and then walked along a winding corridor for a distance of the shot of an arrow. Covered in the forest, the red-painted door of the wing room loomed.
“Governor, the matters have been settled according to your instructions.” Situ Jin lowered his head and stood by the door. “Everyone in the Eastern Depot believes the matter of Liu Guizang rebelling.”
“Very good, come in.” An astringent and hoarse voice came from inside the room.
Situ Jin entered the door. That person was half-lying on an arhat daybed 6, and his long hair was like ink as it poured down the inside of the daybed’s curtain that had the Eight Immortals 7 on it. He was only wearing plain white undergarments and his collar was open, slightly revealing the bandages wrapped on his body. He didn’t look at Situ Jin and instead opened the window, looking at the cleome flowers outside. The flowers had bloomed in clusters and bunches like smoke and mist, and like a dream.
“What words did Wei De tell you to bring?” Shen Jue said indifferently.
“The governor deserted his post and left without saying goodbye, so Eunuch Wei is furious.” Situ Jin lowered his eyes and said, “He said that he is burdened by chronic illness, won’t have long left, and that you should return to the palace. Or else…”
“Or else?” Shen Jue’s gaze swept over, as desolate as frost and snow.
“Or else, return to the cold palace, sweep the courtyards, and don’t go back into the Directorate of Rites again for the rest of your life.”
“I see.” Shen Jue sat up. “In that case, let’s set off tomorrow.”
“Yes.” Situ Jin bowed his head but didn’t leave, so Shen Jue looked at him. “Governor, if I may be bold. This trip wasn’t to kill Liu Guizang but instead to save the Nameless Ghost. That Nameless Ghost was that Eunuch Si Xi at the time, right?”
“Situ Jin, you talk too much.”
“The night the former noble consort was assassinated, you once risked your life and snuck into the Imperial Medical Bureau to steal medicine for your sick roommate. Later, I heard that your roommate, Eunuch Si Xi, escaped from the palace and hasn’t been found so far. He wasn’t Si Xi, but was an injured assassin instead.”
“Situ Jin, I never knew that you were so meddlesome.” The gaze Shen Jue shot him had no temperature.
Situ Jin said softly, “At the time, you said that he was the person who treated you best in the world. For him, you didn’t hesitate to risk your own life again and again, putting life and death aside. In that case, why didn’t you directly take this opportunity to take him away? A place like Garan is a fiery pit.”
“You’ve spent a long time with a woman, did you also get more talkative?” Shen Jue said impatiently, “Leave!”
Situ Jin saluted with clasped hands and said, “I already secretly sent people to see them safely out of the city, so you don’t need to worry. I’ll excuse myself now, and I hope you take care of yourself, Governor.” Situ Jin backed a few steps away and turned, going out of the door.
Shen Jue was silent and didn’t make a sound. Only after Situ Jin had gone far away did he stand up and gaze at the cleome flowers outside the window that were as gorgeous as fireworks.
“It’s not time yet. The antidote for Mid-July hasn’t been developed, and Wei De hasn’t died. I can barely protect myself, so how… how can I protect him?”
He recalled Xiahou Lian’s warm body that had been pressed tightly behind him that day on the horse. In seven years, that had been the first time the two of them had been so close. They had practically been perfectly devoted to each other and of the same heart and mind. A faint smile rose on his lips, and Shen Jue reached his hand out to poke a delicate petal that had stretched to the window. He said hoarsely, “A-Lian, wait for me.”
- A common swear.
- Specifically those in the Embroidered Uniform Guard that are responsible for arresting people.
- Zhangban (掌班), a position in the Eastern Depot that is under the battalion commander (qianhu, 千户) and company commander (baihu, 百户), who are under the governor (duzhu, 督主).
- Hand cannons are the first true firearms.
- 五雷神机铳, a type of hand cannon from the late Ming dynasty that had five barrels.
- A traditional type of daybed.
- A group of legendary immortals in Chinese mythology.
This chapter has me so conflicted! I so wanted a true face to face reunion for these two, but I’m also happy for the unexpected opportunity Xiahou Lian had to get is revenge. Now I just have to wait with bated breath for the next chapter!
Thank you for this chapter!
This was so exciting :3
Situ Jin is so smart…
Wished they could
reunite too, wonder if, now that Xiahou Lian has had his revenge, next chapter’s are Shen Jue’s turn for revenge!
Thank you so much for the chapter!!
WHUUT?! They finally meet and fight together so BAMF-ly, perfectly synchronized with each other and they still have to part? Well yeah in a previous chapter we learnt time for Mid July was close so ok Sadge.
Situ Jin’s such a lovely dude, he’s done his HW and will be backing them up if he can.
Thank you so much for the speedy updates, it’s honestly amazing how fast you are.
Thank You for the new chapter (´,,•ω•,,)♡
What a bloody battle. Xiahou Lian’s revenge was left incomplete by Liu Guizang basically giving up to him; but seeing everything he’d killed to achieve taken away at that moment, would have been worst than death.
Shen Jue must really love XL, as he has risked a lot.
I hope they can be together soon.
Such touching moments stood out.
Thank you for the chapter.
Great, Xiahou Lian finally successful in his revenge I’m very happy and they were fighting side by side they both still have deep memory of each other. Please let them reunited soon.
Xiahou Lian has gotten his revenge (yay!), and now it’s Shen Jue’s turn!!
So sweet how they fought together with a tacit understanding. ❤️ When will they reunite??
Thank you for the chapter! And the awesome translator notes!
Wow the action scenes and how they worked together were truly just wow! This whole chapter was intense! He risked his life but Situ Jin is the only one that knows the truth! Oh my gosh! That last paragraph, for him to wait for him was beautiful! He knows Garan is not a home for XHL, he is his home! XHL couldn’t even think it was him! Thank you for the translation and editing!
The abbot prob send the Garuda to her death to polish Xiahou Lian…