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Translated by Vivian of Exiled Rebels Scanlations

 

A shadow swept past the patterned window. Xiahou Lian was shocked and had no time to talk to Shen Jue. He directly flipped above Shen Jue and stepped onto the side of the daybed, jumping into the corridor. The person’s figure was right ahead, so Xiahou Lian directly chased toward it. Behind, underlings shouted from a distance as they caught up. Xiahou Lian gritted his teeth tightly as he pursued the shadow weaving through the winding corridors.

The assassin didn’t seem to be too familiar with the terrain, so Xiahou Lian took shortcuts and gradually caught up. High in the air, there was a sharp sound, as if piercing through his head. Xiahou Lian agilely leaned to the side and dodged, and the crossbow arrow brushed past the tip of his nose as it shot out, causing the underling behind him to fall to the ground. Ruthlessness flashed in Xiahou Lian’s eyes, and he continued to chase closely. Between the two of them, one was in front and one was behind, and only their afterimages could be seen.

The assassin turned a corner, followed closely by Xiahou Lian. After three turns, there was a festooned gate at the end of the winding corridor. The assassin jumped past the threshold and turned left. Xiahou Lian didn’t hesitate; he held the railing with one hand as he jumped out of the corridor and stepped onto the wall. Then, he clung onto the wall forcefully with both hands, and his entire person swept past the wall like a swallow, landing steadily on the ground. Turning, he faced the assassin directly.

The assassin was wearing yesa robes, disguising himself as an underling. Xiahou Lian wanted to rush over, but only when he felt at his waist did he realize that he had left his saber at Shen Jue’s place and forgotten to bring it. However, he already didn’t have time to think about it now, as the assassin had pulled out the crossbow mechanism behind his waist and shot three arrows in a row. Xiahou Lian stepped onto the surrounding wall and leapt into the air. The arrows all missed and pierced into the gray wall obliquely. The instant he landed, Xiahou Lian reached out to pull, and an iron arrow landed in his hand, its icy chilliness spreading in his palm.

“Fight, or surrender?” Xiahou Lian slowly gripped the cold arrow.

“You’re just a fucking broken arrow, could it be that you can stab me to death?” the assassin sneered carelessly.

The two of them moved at the same time! The assassin drew a long saber and charged at him, spreading round chops like a whirlwind. However, all of his blows were blocked by Xiahou Lian. The blade and refined iron arrow shaft collided, emitting loud and powerful sounds. The two of them fought hand-to-hand and face-to-face, the long saber rubbing against the iron arrow. Bright sparks flew from where the blades met, emitting a sound that made one’s teeth ache.

In the distance, the sounds of underlings’ footsteps sounded. The assassin suddenly understood; this guy had been stalling for time!

He cursed and took the lead in withdrawing. With one hand still holding his saber, his left hand pulled out his crossbow mechanism from behind his waist. Xiahou Lian ducked and avoided his arrow. The iron arrow in his hand flashed with a cold light and stabbed down toward his left hand. The assassin’s reaction was very fast, and with a twist of his wrist, the crossbow blocked the arrow. The two of them were face-to-face once more, and they could hear each other’s heartbeats that were like drums.

“Brother, it’s not easy for anyone wandering in the martial arts world. Cut me some slack, all right?” the assassin begged for mercy.

Xiahou Lian sneered and wanted to refuse. His gaze shifted downward, and he suddenly saw the crossbow mechanism in the assassin’s hand clearly. The black iron crossbow body flashed with a gloomy and cold light, and there were complex patterns carved below. Under that, there were two characters carved in small seal script——“Jinghong.”

Xiahou Lian said in surprise, “Shiqi!”

Tang Shiqi was stunned. “How do you know my, your father’s 1, name?”

Spewing nonsense even at a time like this! Xiahou Lian glared at him. “I’m Xiahou!”

Tang Shiqi was dumbfounded. The underlings’ shouting suddenly neared, and Tang Shiqi shivered before dragging Xiahou Lian by his sleeve into a narrow lane nearby. The two of them were against the corner wall, and the underlings’ disorderly footsteps surged past.

“Fuck your uncle, I thought that you had been fucking caught by Garan!” Xiahou Lian tore off his skin mask, revealing his round face. “Why did you come to the Eastern Depot to set a fire?”

“I only fucking came to set a fire because I was caught by Garan. Those sons of bitches made me eat Bliss Fruit and forced me to work for them, and they don’t even fucking give me money.” Tang Shiqi glanced at Xiahou Lian’s yesa robes and enviously touched the embroidery at his chest. “Boss, you’re really still alive! And you even became an official! Don’t you have a grudge with that damned eunuch Shen Jue… I understand, the most dangerous place is the safest place. Boss, this is a great move!”

“Goddammit, it was a misunderstanding before, he caught me so he could save me… Never mind, I can’t explain it to you, you just have to know that he’s my good brother.” Xiahou Lian craned his head and looked around for a while. After he was certain that there was no one outside, he looked back at Tang Shiqi. “Go, let’s go to a safe place to talk.”

Xiahou Lian led Tang Shiqi into a snow cave in a rockery. It was pitch-black in the snow cave, so that they couldn’t see their fingers if they stretched out their hands. Tang Shiqi inserted a stick of incense into the ground and used a flint to ignite it. “We can only talk for the time it takes for an incense to burn, since I have to leave before three quarters past noon. The smoke has already risen at the warehouse, and my sheath will be suspicious if I don’t show up for a long time.”

“How did you get caught? Didn’t I leave a letter at the secret den in Hangzhou telling you to hide?”

Tang Shiqi said muffledly, “How could I hide? I’m a living person, I still have to eat and drink. I’m on the Eastern Depot’s and Garan’s wanted lists, so I couldn’t mix with the underworld or overworld. One day, I was sleeping in a thatched inn and got exposed somewhere, so I was caught.”

He licked his lips and continued. “The moment I entered, they asked where you were, but how would I know? Besides, you had killed your father and didn’t have Mid-July, so shouldn’t you have died long ago? I said that you had died, but they said that you hadn’t and that I was lying. They tormented me for half a year before believing that I really didn’t know. Duan Jiu made me choose to either take Bliss Fruit and join Garan to be an assassin, or die. Of course I chose to be an assassin, so here I am.”

Xiahou Lian’s expression was solemn as he patted Tang Shiqi’s shoulder. “I’m sorry for dragging you into this.”

“Ah, we’re all brothers, what are you saying this for.” Tang Shiqi laughed. “Actually, it’s thanks to Shen Jue. Before I was caught, he raided all of the secret dens you had built and cut off contact between you and me, otherwise I really might have given you up.”

Xiahou Lian knitted his brows as he said, “I was confused before, how does Garan know that I haven’t died and are still looking everywhere for my whereabouts? Shiqi, how long have you been in Garan, how much do you know? What’s Garan’s current situation like? Where are they hiding?”

Xiahou Lian asked several questions in one go, and Tang Shiqi couldn’t answer some. He thought for a while before saying, “My position is too low, so I haven’t gone to their home. I’m also not sure where Garan is, though I’ve seen Garan’s boss once at Datong town. If you go there and search, perhaps you can find something.”

He picked up a tree branch from the ground and drew a ghost face on the ground. “Garan isn’t the same as before now. I heard others say that when you killed Shi Xin, there were no successors for Garan’s abbot. Shen Jue was also hunting down and arresting Garan assassins everywhere, so the secret dens were practically all eradicated. Duan Jiu brought all of the assassins and retreated to their hometown in the North to reorganize. Now, the boss isn’t the abbot, it’s Lord Yama. Garan has a rule——‘upon encountering the Yama, one cannot look closely, cannot gaze, and can only bow down.’ I haven’t seen his true appearance before, only his figure from a distance. He looks like a dwarf.”

“A dwarf?”

“Yeah, short and stout. He was the one who brought Bliss Fruit and replaced all of Mid-July. Garan already doesn’t have Mid-July anymore.”

“Lord Yama… He’s the true master, and Shi Xin was only the puppet he uses to control Garan?” Xiahou Lian knitted his brows and muttered to himself.

Tang Shiqi was also full of questions he wanted to ask. He cautiously glanced at Xiahou Lian and said, “Boss, was it your deceased father who gave you the antidote? It seems like he still regarded you as a son!”

“Stop saying nonsense, keep talking,” Xiahou Lian urged him.

Tang Shiqi drew a line below the ghost face, connecting it to another ghost face. “I don’t know if Shi Xin was a puppet. Anyway, the one under the Yama is Duan Jiu, and it’s usually Duan Jiu who conveys the Yama’s orders. It was this son of a bitch who fed me Bliss Fruit. His saber wounds are difficult to heal, so he had to rely on Bliss Fruit to relieve the pain. He made everyone eat Bliss Fruit together with him, I’ll fuck his mother!”

Xiahou Lian’s expression was gloomy, and he didn’t speak.

“Do you still think of him as your Uncle Duan? Don’t miss him, boss, he’s just a bastard.”

Tang Shiqi caught a glimpse of Xiahou Lian’s tightly clenched fist under his narrow sleeve. When he was solemn, there was a killing intent in his features, making one frightened upon seeing him. Xiahou Lian said in a low voice, “It was indeed Shi Xin who gave me my antidote. Before I killed him, he made me drink a bowl of tea. The governor guessed that Shi Xin used his own life as the price to give me and Chi Yan the opportunity to leave Garan. Now, it seems that Duan Jiu had been using the name of a bosom friend to monitor Shi Xin for Lord Yama.”

Tang Shiqi sighed deeply. “People’s minds are unpredictable. Boss, let me tell you, no matter who you meet from Garan now, besides me, kill them and don’t hesitate. Bliss Fruit is too poisonous. All of the assassins have gone crazy, and some even kill each other for Bliss Fruit. They’re also deeply grateful toward the Yama, thanking the Yama for giving them supreme bliss or whatnot.”

Xiahou Lian looked at Tang Shiqi, worry hidden in his eyes.

“You don’t need to worry about me.” Tang Shiqi thumped Xiahou Lian’s shoulder. “Boss, I’ve always admired you a lot, really. You’re the manliest person I’ve ever seen, and I don’t regret being your friend. And, if it weren’t for you, I would’ve died long ago. I’ve decided, boss, I’ll be a spy in Garan for you. Now that Garan doesn’t have secret dens anymore, a sheath always comes to find me to send me on a transaction. If they’re going to kill some important person, I’ll tip you off. Remember, I’m a chef in Chu Building, and I make the braised pig pork trotters. You can come and find me at Chu Building, and remember to conceal yourself.”

The two of them bumped fists. Xiahou Lian said, “Good brother! However, life comes before everything, remember to be careful.”

“There’s something else I need your help with, boss.” Tang Shiqi rubbed his hands. “I have a lover, a maiden from the Zhao family in Hangzhou, I met her when offering incense at Lingyin Temple 2. She’s raising my child, and he must be a little over four years old. I’ve been controlled by Garan these past few years, so I haven’t had time to go and see her, and I don’t know how this orphan and widowed mother are. Boss, if you have time, bring her some money.”

“Okay, consider it done.”

Tang Shiqi scratched his head and said bashfully, “Um, also, at the time when I was with her, I used your identity.”

“…” Xiahou Lian held his forehead. “Shiqi, when the fuck will you change your morals?”

Tang Shiqi let out two short laughs in embarrassment and saw that there was only a tiny bit of the incense left. He hastily said, “The incense is almost done burning, I have to go, boss!”

Xiahou Lian stopped him. “One last question, is Chi Yan at Garan?”

Tang Shiqi shook his head. “I haven’t seen him. Right, right, now that you say this, I remembered that you can’t be softhearted when you see someone, you must be ruthless.”

“Who?”

“The Kinnara, Shu Qing.”

Xiahou Lian was stunned. “My shidi?!”

Tang Shiqi saw that the incense was already extinguished and said hurriedly, “I don’t have time to tell you the details, just do as I said.”

Xiahou Lian could only give up. He pulled him to the snow cave’s exit and pointed his direction of escape. “I’ll help you lure the underlings away, run quickly.”

When they reached where it was bright, daylight shone down, and only then did Tang Shiqi see Xiahou Lian’s face clearly. Xiahou Lian was taller than him, and just then, they had been fighting and hiding from underlings. It had also been pitch-black in the cave, so he hadn’t seen in his haste that Xiahou Lian’s new face was actually exactly the same as the man in Shen Jue’s paintings. Tang Shiqi was immediately stunned. 

God, that damned eunuch Shen Jue actually had these kinds of dirty thoughts toward his boss, and his boss still regarded Shen Jue as a good brother? Tang Shiqi stammered, “Boss, that Shen Jue, Shen Jue, he…”

“Over there!” The underlings’ shouts suddenly sounded.

The two of them were shocked at the same time and saw a line of underlings running toward them from the garden corridor. Their black yesa robes connected into an expanse of dark clouds, and their scabbards that were inlaid with gold were strikingly bright under the sunlight.

Tang Shiqi grabbed Xiahou Lian and said hurriedly, “Shen Jue doesn’t have good intentions, be careful!” Then, he leapt past the mountain rock and escaped as if flying.

Xiahou Lian didn’t have time to think about his words. He hastily rushed out to stop the underlings and shouted, “Stop, chase slowly.”

An underling called, “What do you mean?”

A sheath was watching Shiqi outside, so he had to put on a show for him. Xiahou Lian said, “You have to chase, but you can’t catch up.”

“Who are you, why should we listen to you?” The underling sneered, “Xiahou Lian, don’t rely on your friendship with the governor to flaunt your power in front of us. Don’t forget, you’re on the same level as us.”

“He isn’t, starting today.” Shen Jue’s voice sounded from a distance.

Everyone turned around and saw Shen Jue walking over with hands clasped behind his back. With such a tall figure, the sunlight shining behind him seemed to coat his entire body with a layer of gold, like he was an immortal walking down from the horizon. Everyone bowed their heads and saluted with clasped hands, silently taking a step back.

Shen Jue’s fluid glance swept around and said majestically but not angrily, “Starting today, Xiahou Lian’s name will be changed to Shen Lian, and he’ll succeed the position of senior lead officer of the Eastern Depot and be in charge of the eighteen lead officers. All of you must obey his orders, understand?”

“Yes!”

“Okay, go and chase, but don’t catch up.” Shen Jue lifted his hand.

Everyone said yes and left.

Turning and looking at Shen Jue, he happened to meet Shen Jue’s gaze. Shen Jue hadn’t asked him why he wanted to let the assassin go, he only told Shen Wenxing to come forward. Shen Wenxing was holding a saber in his hands. The scabbard was originally black, and it had been turned even blacker by fire. It looked like a fire poker, and it was a little unsightly.

Shen Jue said, “The Bliss Fruit along with Garan’s items in the warehouse were all burned, and only a few sabers were left. I saw that this one looked a little interesting, so I brought it here for you to take a look.”

Xiahou Lian took the saber and pulled it out to look. The blade was three feet long, and there were lotus patterns carved into the blade collar. The blade was entirely jet-black, and when the sunlight spilled on it, dark gold light flowed. Xiahou Lian turned his wrist, and the blade reflected his sharp features; on it was carved “Bushenglian.”

“It’s also a black saber,” said Xiahou Lian.

Shen Jue nodded. “It was also forged using wrought iron from the Western Regions. Whose saber is this? Does anyone else in Garan use a black saber?”

Xiahou Lian shook his head. “Not anymore. This was Shi Xin’s saber, what are you giving it to me for, take it away. Throw it or put it in a warehouse, it’s up to you.” Xiahou Lian returned the saber to Shen Wenxing.

Shen Jue understood and told Shen Wenxing to put the saber away. He walked shoulder-to-shoulder with Xiahou Lian before asking, “What happened just now?”

Xiahou Lian told him about Tang Shiqi, and only omitted what he had said about him not having good intentions. He didn’t know why Tang Shiqi would say this about Shen Jue not having good intentions? He, Xiahou Lian, only had a rotten life, and he had already given it to Shen Jue, so what else could he seek? He recalled Shu Qing; that brat had defected from Garan, so why had he come back again? Had he been caught? Hearing Shiqi, he seemed to have changed as a person. Xiahou Lian felt worried, yet was at a loss for the time being.

After listening, Shen Jue pondered for a while. He told Shen Wenxing to pass down the message to order all of the dwarfs in the Datong Guard to be screened. Xiahou Lian looked up and happened to see him explaining things there. He had just woken up, so there were a few red marks on his face, and Xiahou Lian actually saw a bit of cuteness.

There was only him in the entire world that could think that the seal-holder of the Directorate of Rites and governor of the Eastern Depot was cute. Xiahou Lian silently suppressed his restless heart and thought that the one who didn’t have good intentions was himself.

Snow covered the garden, so it rustled when they walked on it. Icicles hung on the trees, flashing with light. They strolled shoulder-to-shoulder in a circle and stopped at the covered bridge. Below, the pond water had already frozen over thickly. One could occasionally see the shadow of a fish dash pass underneath and immediately disappear in the distance, like a casual ink mark.

Shen Jue suddenly called, “A-Lian.”

“Mn?”

“You have to learn how to intimidate people with power.”

“Huh?” Xiahou Lian didn’t understand.

“Later when you encounter someone who doesn’t listen and goes against you, just use my name. If someone makes things difficult for you, also announce my name.” Shen Jue narrowed his eyes at him and reached out to flick him on the forehead. “If I can’t even protect you after climbing to such a high position, what am I governor for?”

He kept feeling that competing backers and whatnot wasn’t something that men should do. Xiahou Lian was a little embarrassed and made a low “oh.”

Just as they were chatting about some unimportant matters, Shen Wenxing hastily walked over and said, “Godfather, the maids from Jingyang Palace came to our Directorate of Rites to complain tearfully, saying that that girl, the Marquis of Linbei, is indeed difficult to serve. Today, she beat up another eunuch so that he couldn’t get out of bed. They’re begging you to transfer them away, even carrying large bags at the Condiments Service is fine.”

Shen Jue furrowed his brow. “If they want to be transferred, they should find the supervisor eunuch, what are they finding me for?”

Shen Wenxing hesitated for a while before saying, “Yes, then I’ll go and report back to them.”

Shen Wenxing bowed and wanted to leave, but Shen Jue stopped him, saying, “Forget it, since they asked me, it’s not good to sit idly by. Get people to clean out that girl’s marquis manor and tell her to move back to her house. If she’s going to be a scourge, she’ll scourge her own people, what is she creating a disturbance in the palace for. There’s just these two months left, have her go back to her own fief when the weather is warm.”

Shen Wenxing smiled. “Okay, it’s still you who is kindhearted.”

Shen Jue thought about it and said, “While you’re at it, investigate exactly where this girl came from and how she was raised to have such a vicious and cruel temperament. Everyone in her family is dead and only she is left, I keep feeling that it’s a little strange.”

Shen Wenxing bowed, said yes, and left.

 

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Translator Notes:

  1. A common way of expressing one’s superiority.
  2. Lit. Temple of Soul’s Retreat.
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wist
wist
September 17, 2022 8:26 am

GOD THE FACT THAT THEY BOTH LIKE EACH OTHER BUT THINK ITS DIRTY IS DRIVING ME INSANE, either way it’s really entertaining!!!

also PLEASE communicate, i can’t with them how come they’re so smart but can’t see it???

thx for the chapter!

Dio85
September 17, 2022 1:34 pm

TQ is not bad at least he may be of some use to him still lol I’m looking forward to the day that TQ tells him what he saw in the paintings lol thank you for the translation and editing!

neonjellyfish
neonjellyfish
September 18, 2022 11:46 am

“He had just woken up so there were a few red marks on his face, and Xiahou Lian actually saw a bit of cuteness. There was only him in the entire world that could think that the seal-holder of the Directorate of Rights and Governor of the Eastern Depot was cute.”

>o< cuuuuttttte I love that SJ is so bamf to everyone else but XHL is just like “my delicate, fairy-like, cute young master ^_^”

WangXian31
September 19, 2022 12:23 am

That was close; Tang Shiqi nearly getting to tell Shen Lian about Shen Jue’s paintings… although he could feel less guilty of his own ‘not good intentions’ 🤗
I wonder if SJ’s people are good enough at investigating, to find out that troll Marquis of Linbei’s other identity 🤞🤞
Thanks for translating, the T/Ns and editing.

LicoLico
September 19, 2022 11:22 am

Thank You for the chapter (。’▽’。)♡

Loneplum
September 24, 2022 9:49 pm

Sad to hear that Shu Qing had a change of character, and can’t be trusted anymore. 😢

But glad that they now have a spy in Garan. Now XHL and SJ can take down Garan and scary Yama girl! And good to see Tang Shiqi watching out for his girl and son – at least he’s taking some responsibility.

Thank you for the chapter!!

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