Chapter 72: Killing Intent Like Heavy Frost
Translated by Vivian of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
“You’re seeking your death!”
“He’s a lapdog from the Eastern Depot, chop him up!”
Xiahou Lian didn’t speak. He took his goose quill saber back, and the golden light of the saber moved slowly as it was submerged into the scabbard. He leaned to the side and held the hilt of his saber, slowly crouching. The momentum in his body suddenly changed, as severe and destructive as a piercingly cold autumn. His eyes that were faintly exposed from under his bangs flashed with a cruelty like a lone wolf’s.
The boss among the soldiers sneered coldly, “What, are you afraid?”
Triangle Eyes laughed and said, “Not only is he a lapdog, he’s a cowardly dog, you’re much worse than your colleagues! Fuck, I just happen to have gotten enough rest, I’ll chop up a lapdog again and go back to take credit!”
“You injured my governor?” Xiahou Lian stared at him as he said coldly.
“I cut his hand!” Triangle Eyes stuffed the tourmaline beads into his armor and smiled triumphantly.
“Is it broken?” Xiahou Lian’s eyes were ridiculously dark, and the expression in his eyes became more and more terrifying.
The expression in his eyes was too frightening, and Triangle Eyes shuddered. He felt that what he was looking at wasn’t a person, it was an evil spirit that had climbed out mountains of corpses and seas of fire. But they had four people, and this person was only one person! He mustered up his courage and grinned hideously. “That damned eunuch’s tourmaline is in my hands, what do you think!”
Xiahou Lian breathed grimly and coldly, monstrous rage surging in his eyes.
Kill them. All of these people have to die!
Triangle Eyes took the lead, and everyone roared as they lunged forward, The cold saber light reflected on Xiahou LIan’s face, an extremely bright vertical bar. Xiahou Lian didn’t move and seemed to stagnate where he was. He maintained his posture of holding his saber, staring firmly at the goose quill saber in Triangle Eye’s hands.
Triangle Eyes finally arrived in front of Xiahou Lian, held the long saber in both hands, and chopped down brazenly, slicing through the air. At that moment, Xiahou Lian moved! The golden light of his saber splashed out from within his scabbard, as if thousands of broken pieces of gold scattered midair. It was an extremely fast draw, the extreme speed making it have an irresistible force, howling as it cut toward Triangle Eyes’s goose quill saber. Saber and saber collided in midair, and only an extremely ear-piercing clang was heard. Triangle Eyes’s saber broke in response.
However, Triangle Eyes didn’t even have time to be surprised when Xiahou Lian swung his saber again with a reverse grip. The blade cut his neck as if severing a leek, and his head flew out, bringing out sprays of blood that gushed out like a spring.
The companions behind Triangle Eyes subconsciously stagnated his steps. They saw the smoothly and neatly broken neck that was revealed when the headless corpse fell down, as well as the man’s black eyes after the sprays of blood, as ferocious as a demon.
Xiahou Lian didn’t let them go. He stepped on Triangle Eyes’s corpse as he stepped toward them, the goose quill saber in his hand gleamed under the sunlight like the glittering light of waves. It was the same goose quill saber, but it was no different than other sabers in their hands, yet it was like a fierce tiger’s fangs in Xiahou Lian’s hands.
They collided with Xiahou Lian. Xiahou Lian used the spine of his saber to tap the boss’s mouth, and Xiahou Lian used more than a hundred percent of his strength for this blow. The boss’s mouth immediately cracked, two teeth mixed with blood spraying out. The person behind him swung his saber. Xiahou Lian didn’t turn his head and reached his goose quill saber out from behind its elbow, using a weird arc to pierce the person’s arm, and then lifted. His muscles and veins were broken, and the person covered their hand as they wailed and knelt on the ground.
The last person chose to flee. Xiahou Lian drew out the three-arrow crossbow at his waist and fired it indifferently. Three arrows landed right at the center of the person’s back, and he immediately fell to the ground and didn’t get up. In just the time it took to take a few breaths, three people had died and two people had become invalid. Blood spread, dying the withered and yellow pagoda leaves, containing a shocking beauty.
Zhu Shunzi shrunk his head as he walked out from behind a tree, looking at Xiahou Lian in fear. No matter what, he hadn’t expected that Xiahou Lian, who was usually carefree and amiable, would be so ruthless when killing. He still remembered last time, when he had run into Xiahou Lian buying groceries at the market. This guy probably didn’t really know how to bargain, so he had dawdled by the meat stall for a long time and paid up in the end in discouragement. He had thought that Xiahou Lian was a loafer who scraped a living like him, muddling along listlessly in the capital. But now, this loafer was killing impassively, his eyes not even blinking.
Xiahou Lian stepped on the boss’s chest and pressed down forcibly. The boss couldn’t breathe, and he screamed as he struggled.
“Where did you encounter the governor?”
The boss hastily said, “In the forest, go inside, five hundred steps!”
“Who ordered you to kill the governor?”
“It was Sir Wan, our commander! The commander said to kill upon encountering the Eastern Depot and to kill upon encountering Shen Jue!” The boss wailed nonstop, but his wails had no way of getting loud, as his mouth had cracked, and every word was excruciating. “It has nothing to do with me, let me go! I’m begging you!”
“Why does this Wan person want to kill the governor?” Xiahou Lian continued to ask.
The boss cried, “I don’t know! I’m only a soldier, we do what the higher-ups tell us to do!”
Xiahou Lian forcibly pressed against the boss’s chest. “You’re not lying to me?”
The boss shook his head like a rattle drum, snot and tears smeared on his face.
The boss thought Xiahou Lian was letting him go, and he had just sighed in relief when the point of a saber pierced his chest. The blood from his heart spread out, as if a pretty and improper flower had bloomed on the placket at his chest, and the expression on his face instantly froze.
Zhu Shunzi suddenly pointed in a direction and said, “Xia… Xiahou, that person wants to run.”
Xiahou Lian turned his eyes. The person was covering his hand and desperately running outside the forest. Xiahou Lian picked up a saber from the ground and swung it out forcibly. The narrow and long saber turned into a golden whirl and pierced the person’s body, completely nailing him on a tree.
“Xiahou, was our governor plotted against?” Zhu Shunzi squatted on the ground and grimaced. “Why do we always encounter this type of thing? If I had known earlier, I shouldn’t have called you over, and I shouldn’t have come myself!”
“Guangling Temple is already a killing field. We don’t know how many imperial guards the person whose surname is Wan sent over, so it isn’t safe in the mountain. You’d better go back.” Xiahou Lian pulled out the tourmaline beads in the fold of Triangle Eyes’s clothes and put them into his pocket. There was still a two-foot short saber on the boss’s body, so Xiahou Lian picked it out and hung it on his own dragon and tiger leather belt.
Zhu Shunzi said hesitantly, “Why don’t we leave together. The governor… Everyone has their own life, and although we work in the Eastern Depot, it’s not worthwhile to implicate our own lives.”
“No,” Xiahou Lian looked down to count the weapons on him, “I didn’t do the things I promised him before, so I must do them now. Leave, we’ll meet again.” After saying this, he walked into the forest without even looking back.
Zhu Shunzi looked at Xiahou Lian’s back and was blank for a while. He felt that Xiahou Lian was like a lone wolf. The forest was filled with traps and the imperial guards were like dogs, patrolling everywhere, but Xiahou Lian had gone in just like this, as if as long as he had bloodthirsty fangs, he wouldn’t even be afraid of being shattered to pieces.
He really is a fool.
Zhu Shunzi sniffed and also turned around and ran.
Xiahou Lian’s heart was burning with anxiety.
Shen Jue was injured, and it was very serious. If he didn’t receive proper treatment, it was very likely that he would die. Xiahou Lian didn’t dare to think, he could only sprint nonstop, searching for all clues he could possibly find. He climbed onto a tree, perching on top of it and gazing into the distance. The mountain field of Guangling Temple was filled with trees, and the dark yellow leaves surged in the wind like waves, swaying past wave by wave. There was a crossing at the depths of his vision. It was a cliff, and below the cliff were cliff inscriptions.
Eight hundred steps away, he discovered a team of men and horses. Xiahou Lian grabbed tree branches as he swung over, his black figure traveling through the forest like a sparrowhawk, and anyone who saw him would be surprised at his agility. This was due to Xiahou Lian’s exercise of running wildly in the entire mountain of Garan, so his waist and arm strengths were far better than ordinary people.
The soldiers’ figures gradually became clearer. Xiahou Lian silently climbed onto an old pagoda tree, noiselessly hanging upside-down as he peeked out from dense branches and leaves, only revealing a pair of black eyes. If someone saw, they would definitely be greatly startled. This was a weird scene, an assassin hanging like a bat in withered branches and leaves, silently gazing at the people below him, like a ghost waiting to hunt.
A soldier was squatting on the ground and using his hand to touch a tree trunk, muttering, “Eunuch Shen went northward, we’re going the wrong way!”
Someone replied, “Wasn’t he going southward before?”
“The markings changed.” The soldier said, “Look, the thick side is now facing north, and the thin side is facing south. This Eunuch Shen really doesn’t know the way. Northward is the cliff, he has nowhere to go at all.”
A black shadow was enveloping the top of his head. He didn’t mind and only heard a voice ask from above his head, “What markings, what are you looking at?”
“This, didn’t Commander Wan tell us to go according to the markings?” As he said this, he suddenly bit his tongue, swiftly drew his saber, and turned his head.
He hadn’t heard this voice before, it wasn’t from their team!
His saber was knocked flying, and a saber stabbed into his shoulder, nailing him to the tree. He cried out in pain, and at the same time, he discovered in terror that his companions had already died. Their corpses laid stiffly on the ground, facing toward his direction and with their mouths slightly open, all of them with terrified expressions. This meant that no one had noticed when this man had approached them, and the man had covered their mouths, taking their lives from behind them one by one. He was like a ghost, having no sound when approaching and also having no sound when killing.
Now, it was his turn. The man looked down at him and gritted his teeth in enunciation as he asked, “What’s the matter with these markings?”
He shook his head and said, “I don’t know, Commander Wan said if we followed the markings, we would be able to find Shen Jue and that group of lap… underlings!”
“How many people from the Eastern Depot are in the mountain?”
“I don’t know… They dispersed and we killed a few, but there are still a lot hiding in unknown places.”
Xiahou Lian squatted down and patted his face as he said, “How do you know that this marking is pointing toward the governor’s route and not the other underlings’ routes?”
He stammered, “I guessed, there are always a few thicker ones in these markings.”
“What else do you know?”
He shook his head blankly.
“You’ll die if you lie,” Xiahou Lian said coldly.
He cried, “I don’t dare… I don’t dare to lie to you.”
Xiahou Lian drew his saber out and slit his throat. Blood splashed, staining half of Xiahou Lian’s face red. “But I lied to you, apologies, you would’ve died even if you didn’t lie.”
Xiahou Lian stood up, extremely restless with anxiety. Not only was Shen Jue injured, there was also a spy beside him! He punched the tree, wishing he could kill all of the imperial guards in the mountain.
Footsteps sounded from behind him, and Xiahou Lian looked back. In front of him was a small team of ten imperial guards with chainmail and goose quill sabers. Amid the swirling of falling leaves, their armor and scabbards flowed with a desolate and cold light.
“Friend or foe?” The imperial guards looked at him suspiciously.
Someone saw the corpses in the fallen leaves and roared, “He’s Eunuch Shen’s lackey!”
Xiahou Lian pressed the hilt of his saber and cracked his knuckles. He licked his teeth and slowly drew out his long saber. The leaves fell like butterflies, the autumn wind soughed bleakly, and the lone assassin stood blankly among the pile of corpses. The imperial guards roared as they lunged toward him. He held his saber in both hands and lifted his head, showing the eyes that were as fierce as a wolf’s under his bangs. In an instant, his killing intent was like a mountain.
“Report! The Eastern Depot has a lunatic, he cuts upon seeing people and kills upon seeing people! Eight… Eight of your teams have already been completely killed by him! There’s also three teams with a few people left who escaped, and they were all injured!”
A scout stumbled as he ran into the barracks. The barracks was very simple and crude. There were two rows of round-backed armchairs, and a throne was placed in the center, with a tea table beside it and nothing else. The empress dowager was sitting upright on top, her eyes faintly closed and her hands moving amber Buddha beads so that they clattered. When she saw the scout run inside hurriedly, she opened one eye and then closed it again. Someone else was standing on the ground; it was their commander, Wan Bohai. There was also a kneeling woman who seemed to be the empress dowager’s personal maid, Zhu Xia.
Wan Bohai rebuked, “Who’s worth you making a big fuss over nothing!”
The scout kowtowed toward the empress dowager and then turned to the commander, crying, “Commander, go and see the ghost-like appearances the people who came back have become. The ones who are missing arms are missing arms, and the ones with broken legs have broken legs. We killed a few underlings in other places, but they were then all killed in the hands of this lunatic!”
Wan Bohai said doubtfully, “When did the Eastern Depot have such a cruel character? Go, reorganize the teams, twenty people in a team, and search along the mountain paths. I don’t believe that that lunatic can block twenty people!”
Zhu Xia stroked the empress dowager’s feet and also cried, “Empress Dowager, let the chief officer go. Leave him alive, I guarantee that he won’t dare to oppose you again! Banish him to Jinling and never allow him into the capital again! I’m begging you, spare his life!”
“Foolish girl, what kind of person is Shen Jue, if you give him a drop of water, he’ll be able to overturn rivers and seas! How can I leave him alone?” The empress dowager sighed, drew her feet back, and tucked in the hem of her skirt. “Just give up on this idea! You even said that you would accompany me for a lifetime and whatnot before, but now that there’s a man, a guy without a spout at that, you’ve become lost and confused, it really is disappointing!” She turned away and said to Wan Bohai, “I don’t know if twenty people is enough or not, that lunatic isn’t an ordinary person. Your subordinates have to be careful!”
“Not an ordinary person, could he be an immortal?” Wan Bohai smiled.
“Not an immortal, an evil spirit from hell.” The empress dowager stroked the beads. “Go, send more people. Eunuch Shen and that lunatic will be killed together!”