Translated by Vivian of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
A few dozen Eastern Depot underlings ran rapidly in a narrow alley, like a sharp black arrow. All of the people and horses on the street backed away, showing alarmed expressions. Xiahou Lian was also among them. There was a goose quill saber at his waist, a handbow tied on his arm, and a hand cannon on his left thigh. No one spoke, so there were only the sounds of the men’s low breathing and footsteps, as solemn as an army.
The lanes in the alley were criss-crossed, like a dense spiderweb. However, the underlings looked steadily forward, not hesitating at any turn, as if they knew the layout of the capital like the back of their hand. They soon arrived at their destination, a brokerage house located on Deshengmen Street. There was no need for Situ Jin to issue an order, as the underlings spread out in the alleys around the brokerage house in an orderly manner, like black tidewater silently scrambling in all directions and finally disappearing.
Xiahou Lian followed behind Situ Jin, and the two of them squatted in an alley with their backs against the wall. Exiting the alley would be the gate of the brokerage house. The brokerage house was a place where traveling merchants transported their goods. However, this was a private brokerage, so the owner didn’t have an official certificate from the government, and the goods inside were smuggled goods that hadn’t been taxed. According to past experience, it would mostly be alcohol, crude opium, and whatnot. The owner had offered the person from the government agency some silver, and the government had turned a blind eye and let them pass. However, today was different, as the boss of Xingqing Gang had confessed that the thing they were transporting had all been sold to the owner of the brokerage house, and he had been prepared to get rid of them in the capital.
That thing was extremely mysterious, and even the boss of Xingqing Gang hadn’t used it before himself. It was said that it looked like a small black pill, and it was called something like Bliss Fruit. This name was too elegant, so the people in the underworld called it “Black Grain.” The boss of Xingqing Gang had said that one would experience heaven on earth after taking this Black Grain, like ascending to the Land of Bliss. However, it was extremely poisonous, and he had personally seen someone swallow thirty in one go. Before ten minutes had passed, he had bled from the seven facial apertures and died.
Xiahou Lian peeked out at the gate of the brokerage house. Two lanterns hung from the gate eaves, and two people stood below the lanterns. Both of them were wrapped in tattered gray cloth coats, rubbing their hands nonstop in the cold wind. As they walked, they revealed the guys underneath the front of their robes, and they looked to be two-foot long short sabers.
“Be careful in a bit, they’re all fugitives in here, and many are murderers wanted for arrest,” Situ Jin said in a low voice.
“Unfortunately, so am I.” Xiahou Lian checked his own hand bow and projectiles as he said, “Situ-laoge, I’ll be the vanguard, you go in slowly.”
Situ Jin frowned as he looked at him.
“You have a family, it’s not good if you go home injured and make your wife and Yu-jie’er worry. I’m single, so it’s okay.” Xiahou Lian patted his shoulder. “I heard that you two argued again yesterday, are you okay?”
“The governor will also be sad if you’re injured.” Situ Jin sighed and had a helpless expression. “We’ve been investigating Bliss Fruit these past few days and I haven’t returned at night, so she suspects I have someone outside. Actually, I didn’t argue with her, every time it’s her crying and me coaxing her.”
Xiahou Lian hadn’t coaxed a woman before, he had only coaxed Shen Jue. He couldn’t give any good advice when encountering this kind of situation, so he could only sigh along with Situ Jin.
“The Eastern Depot has a lot of various work, so I seldom have time to stay at home with them. Mingyue is sensitive, so the already pitifully small free time is still used to quarrel.” Under the dim moonlight, Situ Jin loneliness appeared on Situ Jin’s sharp and distinct face. “She’s always scared that she is old and her beauty is fading, so she can’t compare to other young girls. It’s actually not true, there is only one Mingyue in the world, and I only like Mingyue.”
Situ Jin took out a small striped mahogany box from the fold of his clothes and opened it to show Xiahou Lian. Inside, there was a gilded silk hair clasp. Situ Jin said, “At the time when I married her, the betrothal gift I gave her was this type of hair clasp. A few days ago, I saw one that was exactly the same at Liuli Factory. They were probably a pair, and I actually also came upon it. Say, if I give it to her as an apology, would she like it?”
“Uh…” Xiahou Lian was conflicted for a while before saying, “Why don’t you ask the governor in a bit, he used to deal with women every day, so he definitely understands better than we do.”
Situ Jin nodded and said yes. He put the box back into the fold of his clothes and stood up to look at the time.
“It’s nearly time, let’s break in.”
Xiahou Lian walked out from the alley, dusting off his sleeves as he took large strides toward the gate of the brokerage house. The darkness enveloped his figure so that only a vague and tall shadow of a man could be seen. The two watchmen noticed him and maintained their composure as they pushed the short sabers out of the scabbards at their waists.
Xiahou Lian silently walked toward them. The watchmen realized something was wrong and asked, “Hey, what are…”
Before they even finished speaking, two black one-foot long iron arrows came headon and instantly pierced the two people’s foreheads. Even their wails didn’t have time to come out, as they had already fallen. Xiahou Lian caught their bodies before they fell down and lightly leaned them onto the gate pier.
The underlings approached quietly. Some flipped over the wall and some pushed open the gate, silently filing in. Xiahou Lian and Situ Jin advanced into the corridor, one in front and one behind, and the underlings followed behind. The winding corridor outside was empty, so they used their scabbards to push open the door. They entered the shop, which was also empty. The lights weren’t on, so the room was extremely dark. The underlings stood back-to-back in the hall, on alert for possible dangers from all directions.
Xiahou Lian stood for a while. Indistinct laughter sounded in the silent air, seemingly from the bedroom behind the brokerage house.
He and Situ Jin exchanged a glance and slowly walked past the old stairs, the wooden boards whose paint had peeled off creaking underneath their feet. They passed through the hallway in the center and entered the small two-story building behind the brokerage house. Noisy voices sounded from inside a room, and there seemed to be a lot of people talking and laughing inside.
Xiahou Lian and Situ Jin stood on each side of the door, and Situ Jin mouthed counts, “One, two three!”
The two of them crashed through the door, and at the same time they took off the handbows on their arms, prepared to shoot around the room. However, the next moment after they entered the door, they both gave up on this movement without prior agreement. It was because the scene in the room practically made one dumbfounded.
There were layers upon layers of gauze curtains, and among the aroma of wine and shadows of clothes, dozens of men and women were lying on top of one another, intertwined with each other. The dozens of shining white bodies intertwined together were like snake knots tangled together. There was a crazy and ferocious smile on every person’s faces, and at this moment, they already didn’t seem like humans anymore. Instead, they were beasts controlled by lust, growling and roaring as they bit and tore at each other.
They didn’t notice the underlings who had come unexpectedly at all, as they were still wallowing in insanity. The underlings looked at one another. The scene before their eyes didn’t make their bloodstream swell; on the contrary, they felt horrified. Someone got up from the ground and smiled as he murmured, “Fairy, don’t go… Don’t go!”
He reached his hand out and walked toward the window. Situ Jin shouted, “Stop him!”
A few underlings rushed up to catch him, but his strength was frighteningly large, and he actually pushed away all of the underlings. Suddenly, he rushed out of the window and fell heavily outside. Xiahou Lian rushed over and looked. That person had fallen onto a sharp rock below, and his forehead had already been cracked open.
“What the fuck…” Xiahou Lian looked at Situ Jin, frightened and uncertain.
Situ Jin told people to retreat and guard the door before saying, “Let’s not care about these people first, we’ll put it off until they’re clear-headed. Everyone remaining, go and move all of the goods suspected to be Bliss Fruit to the main hall, and wait for the governor to come.”
“Bliss Fruit is an aphrodisiac, and it can make people collectively go crazy?” Xiahou Lian asked.
Situ Jin furrowed his brow and said that he didn’t know. They waited for a few dozens of minutes in the shop before Shen Jue arrived. The group of people were still going crazy in the room, so Shen Jue went over and took a look, and then came back with an ashen face.
Xiahou Lian reckoned that if it weren’t for the situation not allowing it, Shen Jue would definitely really want to wash his eyes.
Shen Jue took out a pill from a box that had been moved out, crushed it in his palm, and put it under the light to examine it.
“What is it?” asked Xiahou Lian.
“It looks like Wan Medicine 1.” Shen Jue muttered to himself, “The Byzantine Empire used to pay tribute with something called Diyeka 2, and the people in the palace call it Wan Medicine. It makes one numb upon taking it, and it’s addicting if taken for a long time. Emperor Shenzhong didn’t hold court for twenty-three years and was rarely seen by officials because he had been taking Wan Medicine.”
“It’s Wan Medicine and also Black Grain and also Bliss Fruit, exactly what the hell is this? How was it made?” Xiahou Lian took a pill and scrutinized it carefully.
“It’s the same as Burmese white powder, it was made using decocted poppies. Their symptoms are similar: addiction, induced hallucinations, lust, and weakness.” Situ Jin said, “However, only southern Yunnan has white powder, and it’s worth a lot of money. Ordinary people can’t afford it at all, how come it’s in the capital?”
Shen Jue pondered for a while, took a fingernail of Bliss Fruit powder, and used his tongue to lick it.
“What are you doing!” Xiahou Lian slapped his hand in surprise.
Shen Jue dodged and frowned. “It’s okay in small doses, how will I know what it is without tasting it?”
“You!” Xiahou Lian thought of something and asked, “At the time when you developed the antidote for Mid-July, did you also taste it like this?”
Shen Jue nodded indifferently. “I didn’t have enough power at first, so I couldn’t employ a famous doctor to make the medicine. I could only try to do it myself.” He didn’t say that he had flipped through all of the medical books in the Imperial Medical Bureau, records of strange things in the library, and annals of all counties and prefectures, otherwise how would he have known that the raw material of Mid-July was azalea flower?
Xiahou Lian looked down and grabbed Shen Jue’s sleeve with his fingers. The woven gold embroidery thread on his sleeve rubbed on the tips of his fingers so that they hurt slightly, and his heart was astringent. What a good person, how hadn’t he discovered this before?
Shen Jue dipped a little more and tasted it carefully, his brows becoming more and more knitted.
“How is it?” Situ Jin asked.
Shen Jue didn’t respond, and he stood up beside the table. Shen Wenxing held a cloak as he came over. Shen Jue swept a light meaningful glance over and he understood immediately, giving the cloak to Xiahou Lian. Xiahou Lian put the cloak on for Shen Jue, clasping the gold buttons. In the heavy lamp shadows, the splendid hidden patterns flickered brilliantly on the flowing clouds cloak.
Shen Jue looked at Xiahou Lian, who was extremely close, and asked, “If you encountered your old friends, would you be willing to kill them?”
“Why wouldn’t I be willing? I even killed Shi Xin. If one comes then I’ll kill them, if two come then I’ll kill them both.” Xiahou Lian helped him tuck in the folds on his shoulders. “I’m no longer a Garan assassin now, haven’t you heard outsiders talk about it? The governor of the Eastern Depot, Shen Jue, has a mad dog, loyal and protective, hitting wherever he points.”
“Is that so, I thought they were talking about Situ Jin.”
Situ Jin said indifferently from behind them, “It’s not me.”
“They’re talking about me.” Xiahou Lian winked at Shen Jue. “Woof, woof.”
“Are you stupid, you’re still so proud when being someone else’s dog,” Shen Jue complained at him.
“I’m not proud of being other people’s dogs, but I’m proud to be your dog.”
Shen Jue couldn’t help but laugh, and the sparrowhawk in his heart fluttered into the sky. After being happy, he still had to do proper business. He slowly restrained his smile, and there was an icy glitter on his face.
“There aren’t only poppy flowers in Bliss Fruit, there are also azalea flowers. Taking poppies added with azaleas is addictive and hallucinogenic, and stopping taking it will cause one to bleed from the seven facial apertures. Sure enough, Garan of Seven Leaves is formidable. Drug trafficking for profit, going against reason and nature. Situ, start a citywide curfew tomorrow. Order all underlings and calvarymen everywhere to purge teahouses, brothels, restaurants, gambling houses, and inns one by one, and close all of them that don’t have official certificates. If Bliss Fruit is discovered and seized, burn it on the spot. Send the Bliss Fruits here to the Imperial Medical Bureau, have them see if they can make an antidote to treat it.”
Situ Jin bowed his head and saluted with clasped hands. “I understand.”
“Garan of Seven Leaves,” Shen Jue gazed at the moon hanging high in the sky and said in a low voice, “since you came to my territory, I’ll make it so that you come and never go back!”
The night was indissolubly thick, and Situ Jin finally finished taking care of the Eastern Depot’s matters. The sounds of the night watches came from the depths of an alley; it was already one in the night.
Fortunately, he could still go home to sleep for half the night. Situ Jin spurred his horse home. His house was still in the same place, as he had never moved. After going forward past three neighborhoods and passing Longxing Bridge, the fourth alley on his left was his house. The hair clasp was still placed nicely in the fold of his clothes; he had specially put it at his chest, as if that place was more honorable.
There wasn’t a single person on the streets. The moon was covered by dense clouds, and it slowly darkened all around, as if enveloped by a layer of mist. Occasionally, there were a few small lanterns hung in front of people’s homes, the lights the size of a fist twinkling in the wind and snow. His horse was very fast, and it soon crossed the bridge and was about to turn the corner. When he arrived at the entrance of the third alley, his horse suddenly wasn’t willing to move, no matter how he swung the whip. Situ Jin furrowed his brow and suddenly felt uneasy.
Forget it, there were only a few steps left anyway, so it would be fine if he walked home. He dismounted his horse, planning to lead the horse home. The horse snorted and was simply unwilling to take a step. He became helpless, thinking of what to do as he stood in the snow. There was a small leaf in the center of the street, and it was blown in front of him by the wind. He couldn’t help but stare at that leaf, looking at its curled and withered edges in the wind, like a butterfly that was about to die.
Suddenly, without warning, the falling leaf seemed to be cut open by something in the air. In the blink of an eye, it instantly split into two halves and continued to flutter in the wind.
Situ Jin’s pupils shrunk, and his body instantly froze.
The moon came out, and he saw a decapitated dog lying on the ground. Half of it had been buried by the snow, but the cut at its neck was neat and tidy. No wonder his horse hadn’t been willing to move. The weather was too cold, so his sense of smell had worsened and he hadn’t smelled the blood of the dog, but the horse had smelled it. His horse was a war horse, and he had fought with him in the north, so its sense of danger was no less than his.
Situ Jin drew his saber and sliced in the air in front of him. Invisible silk blocked his weapon, and he slowly pressed down. A thread of moonlight sliced past the air, and he recognized it; this was the rumored Leading Mechanism Silk, the masterpiece of the Nameless Ghost of Garan of Seven Leaves, Xiahou Lian.
He reckoned that that fool was still wagging his tail at Shen Jue’s. He thought of those two people; they clearly liked each other, yet they were still dawdling there. You have to be faster, thought Situ Jin, otherwise you’ll be the same as me. Perhaps there are some words that I’ll never have time to say again.
Footsteps sounded from behind him. He turned around, and a deep black shadow came into view. He was a tall and thin man, carrying his saber as he stood in the wind and snow. He was wearing a white porcelain mask on his face, and his two pitch-black eye holes were looking at him quietly.
This is a true assassin, Situ Jin thought quietly. He was like a descending ghost riding the wind and snow.
The man opened his mouth. His voice was very light and enunciated, indifferent and merciless.
“The Garuda of Garan of Seven Leaves, sending Sir Situ to be reborn in the Land of Bliss.”
tysm for the chapter !!!!
What a way for Situ Jin’s life!!
That’s made me sad.
No moment of peace with his wife, and ending just like that, uh!!. Will the family remain, or will the Garuda wipe them all?
And who is the the new Garuda?!
Good grief, everyone’s high as kites.
Garan may have been built on assassination, but it seems to have become a lot darker still and even more blood thirsty.
Noooooo!!!! Have they killed Situ Jin’s family? He may not want to survive if that’s what has happened.
I don’t want to lose this character 😭
The ramifications would, I think, be huge.
What a horrible cliff hanger!
Thanks for translating, the T/Ns and editing.
Thank You for the chapter (๑°꒵°๑)･*♡
Oh no!! Are we going to lose Situ and his wifey???
And SituJin is right – SJ and XHL, just admit your feelings already!!
I guess Garan is moving into the drug trafficking business. Appropriate for such a sinister group.
Thank you for the chapter!
Yep… Here it is. The end of the heterosexual happy couple. The second they were introduced I started to prepare my heart for this moment.
God from the moment he start talking about the hairpin i though plz NOO this a red flag plz don’t be real 😭😭😭😭😢 whyyyy !!!
hell noooo! i like his character so much. It’s heartbreaking to lose him like this ugh