Chapter 134: Dragon Tiger Temple
Translator: Translation Nation Editor: Translation Nation
A random Inn
Shi Mu Zhong tossed a piece of silver, worth three taels. The innkeeper then served them some tea leaves in a cup, before pouring boiling water into the cup. He then led Shi Mu Zhong into a room, where dinner was served. After Shi Mu Zhong was finished with his meal, he lit a candle and fell deep in thought. All of a sudden, he heard some frantic knocking on his door.
"Who is it?" Shi Mu Zhong was taken aback to see a man dressed in black robes standing before him.
It took sometime for Shi Mu Zhong to still his heart. He then observed the person standing before him carefully. The man in black robes was of medium built, and gave a deep bow to Shi Mu Zhong, "I shall hide nothing from you. I am Qin Gao, from Yong Prefecture. Young Master knows that Mister Shi lacks manpower, and thus sent me to aid you."
"Qin Gao, aren't you the chief of White Hill Gang?"
The man laughed, "I do not dare to proclaim myself as the chief. Many years ago, I was roaming aimlessly along the streets, with no food and no clothes. Thankfully I receive help from Young Master, who saved my life and provided me with silver. It's only then that I managed to establish a small business."
"Since Young Master issued an order to me, I would naturally obey. I also brought along a letter written to you by Young Master."
Shi Mu Zhong eyed him, his heart was astonished. He then sighed, "With you around, I shall accomplish much."
He then handed a letter to Shi Mu Zhong, who ripped open the envelope anxiously. After reading the contents of the letter, he laughed, "Haha, someone is indeed putting up a fight. Free Cloud Sect is a small sect with such big ambitions. With the current situation, you are invulnerable for now. But what about your sect members?"
"Looks like I have to dispatch Song Zhi to break you." Shi Mu Zhong then laughed, his mind formulating a strategy.
Dragon Tiger Temple
Although it was during noon, the sky was dark and heavy. Rain and mist filled the entire sky. A group of people rushed toward the Dragon Tiger Temple. It was an old and abandoned temple, which seldom saw anyone visiting to offer incense. However, it was a meeting place for some people to convene without being overheard.
A flash of lightning followed by the rumble of thunder could be heard. The group of people were all wearing woven rain coats as they fought through the wind and rain. The torches were losing their flame under the rain, and weren't burning brightly.
"Pa!" The crack of the lightning could be heard once again, and a person standing within the temple was visible for a second as the lightning illuminated the interior briefly. This person was wearing a woven raincoat as well, and had a conical bamboo atop his head. A piece of black cloth covered his face, as he clutched onto his sword tightly.
When the group of people saw the man wearing the bamboo hat, his face concealed, they stopped in their tracks. A man standing in the middle of the group of people stepped forward, "Bamboo hat assassin, we finally meet each other. It hasn't been easy."
"You've asked to meet me here, what business do you have for me?" The bamboo hat assassin asked coldly.
"Not just about business, bamboo hat assassin. I've long heard that you are enemies with the Meng and Zhang households. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Let's join forces and deal with the Meng and Zhang households together, what do you say?" The man speaking gave an easy smile and a laughed out.
"Oh, what targets do you have in mind that we could attack?" The bamboo hat assassin asked.
"Coordinate with us and capture Shen Wan Lin. She's due to marry Zhang Ping, and everyone has been talking about how much Zhang Ping loves her. They are going to get married soon. Once we capture her, we can use it as leverage against Zhang Ping. Maybe we can even set an ambush and kill him, using her as a bait."
"Even if this man's heart is made of stone, and we cannot use her to threaten him, we can still have our own turns to play with this lady. Doing this can ruin both of their images." The man explained.
After hearing this, the bamboo hat assassin thought for sometime. He then asked, "Oh, why do you think I will band together with you and do this?"
The man gave a loud laugh, "Based on my observations, you are no ordinary gentleman. You should know then, that a great person knows when to be ruthless. I believe you are a smart man as well, and are an enemy of the Meng and Zhang households. I'm sure you would not let such an opportunity to get the upper hand slip by."
His words carried some confidence in them, confident that the man before him would go along with their plans.
All of a sudden, a man sprang out from the group of men, landing in front of Liang Zi Han like an agile tiger, in a bid to defend him, "Young Master, be careful, he has killing intent in his eyes."
He had a severe and grave look in his eyes. The bamboo hat assassin wasn't just any other assassin. This Young Master had been looking for people to collaborate with him with his plans, and could not find anyone willing to proceed. However, he had insisted on looking for someone, and finally managed to locate the bamboo hat assassin.
"There's no need. I believe you will agree to our requests and proceed with our plans. What do you say, bamboo hat assassin?" The Young Master smiled and continued, "The Dagger Clan of the Meng house and the Pier Gang of the Zhang house controls most of the businesses around. As long as you are willing to help me eradicate these houses, I shall give you 30% of the profits."
"Your offer is really touching. It's just that I have other plans." The bamboo hat assassin smiled.
"Oh, what plans do you have, why not share it with me? Maybe I can help you with those plans." The Young Master spoke genuinely.
"I've heard of your reputation, Liang Zi Hang. When you die, who would your family suspect of being behind your murder? They will turn to these two houses for revenge." The bamboo hat assassin replied. The Young Master in the raincoat laughed in response, "Hm hm, the Liang household and my household have an eternal feud. Do you think that just because you hide behind a mask you can take me as an enemy? I'm sure you know who I am?"
"Do you take me for an idiot, or are you really an idiot?"
Their killing intents then exploded from their gazes, as swords were drawn abruptly, slicing through the raindrops. The pressure was at its highest..
"Young Master, be careful." A warrior raised his sword and stood in front of Liang Zi Han, protecting him.
With a flash of his sword, the bamboo hat assassin leapt up and attacked the warrior who didn't have time to evade the attack, and could only raise his sword to defend himself. With a "pu" the warrior shivered as the cold steel pierced through his flesh. He stood still, paralyzed from the pain.
The bamboo hat assassin then moved past him swiftly, his sword gleaming. The warrior fell to the ground, a look of disbelief etched on his face.
The bamboo hat assassin's footsteps splashed through the mud, as he started killing his way through.
"Protect the Young Master." Liang Zi Han's guards charged toward the bamboo hat assassin. Raindrops fell down from the dark cloud onto everyone's faces. A group of people covered in woven raincoats engaged in a ferocious battle. Thunder roared, yet not loud enough to mask the sound of swords clashing. When lightning flashed, the entire area was illuminated for a second. A gust of strong wind blew the bamboo hat off his head. His mask remained intact but everyone could tell however, that he was extremely young.
"Pu pu" A pair of swords crossed again each other, producing sparks in the rain. Before long, the bamboo hat assassin had broken through several people, his sword still swinging with precision.
Only one person backed away slowly from the fight, as all the guards spat out blood and fell to the ground. The rainwater mixed together with all their blood to form puddles on the ground.
"Die!" Liang Zi Han watched the scene before him and charged forward.
At this point, a beam of moonlight pierced through the rain and cut through the sky, providing them with just enough light. Liang Zi Han darted across, his eyes were in a frenzy. The next moment, he too fell to the ground, spitting out a huge mouthful of blood.
He struggled to get to his feet, and yet could not manage to stand up. He rested his weight on a nearby boulder. He had a deep cut in his chest, where blood was seeping out endlessly. He then said, "Haha, I initially thought you would meet your ill-fated end. Who would've thought that I was the one who would end up being a victim of a plot. Since heaven's will decided that I deserve this end, I have nothing more to say, and I accept it."
"However, do you think a small fry like you would earn the gratitude from the Meng and Zhang households by killing me? Even with your Shen family's Thirty Seven Techniques and proficiency level of ten, you will still be victimized one day, and suffer retribution."
"We shall speak of that when the day comes." The bamboo hat assassin replied. A sword then effortlessly ended his life, his head soared into the air, as fresh blood gushed out high into the sky.
"Hm, if you wish to blame someone, blame yourself for picking the wrong person." The bamboo hat assassin then picked up a piece of cloth and gently wiped all the blood off his sword. He then turned around to leave, disappearing into the wind and rain.
The rain was getting increasingly heavier. After some time, a man emerged from behind a huge rock. Wind was blowing unrelentingly against his woven raincoat as raindrops assaulted it endlessly.
Seeing the bodies, he walked up to inspect them and noticed that they were still fresh.
"They were all killed by a single sword, and the blows were extremely clean and precise. What good sword techniques." Pei Zi Yun ran a finger across the wound of a fallen warrior. He could see the assailant taking off his bamboo hat, he noticed that he had the features of a young man.
The wound was still cold from the severity of the sword techniques. As he touched the wound once more, he closed his eyes. He could see the entire scene in his mind. A group of warriors appeared and rushed toward the bamboo hat assassin. With a flash of his sword, all the warriors fell to the ground.
"It is extremely difficult to find a way to the Dao. But with sword techniques improved over generations, a person would be able to ascend the Dao with his skills. Although there weren't many people like these, it isn't unheard of."
"The Thirty Seven Techniques? Although it has such a plain name, it is the trademark technique produced by the Shen household."
"Even with my level of sword techniques, I can learn a thing or two from these sword techniques. Some of these strokes are even similar to my own skill set."
"Shen Wan Lin, I remember something will still happen to her, even though it seems all her assailants are dead. I should take a look." Pei Zi Yun then thought to himself as he picked up a piece of cloth from the scene and wrapped it around his blood stained hands, before turning around to leave. His movements were as fluid as water as he disappeared into the rain.
The sky was still laden with clouds as raindrops were still falling unceasingly. The Cheng Huang temple faced north, which meant that it faced the direction of the flowing river. Willow trees were swaying violently in the rain. There were several pleasure boats along the river. But since it was raining heavily, there weren't many patrons on the boat. Occasionally, some people could be seen carrying umbrellas.
A young lady was being led along by a serving maid, who was holding an umbrella over her head for her. They were standing atop a bridge, casting their glances down at the the muddy river waters gushing beneath the bridge, rainwater falling upon the river.
The young lady seemed worried, as she was deep in thought. After thinking for some time in silence, the serving maid started consoling her. At this point, a man dressed in a woven raincoat walked onto the bridge. He seemed to be in a hurry, and started walking hastily towards the duo.
Just as they were about to cross, the young lady felt somewhat uncomfortable toward this man who seemed to be getting too close to them. She looked at him and thought that he looked somewhat familiar. With raised and shocked eyes, she was about to speak when the man froze in his tracks. He looked deep into her eyes, his eyes were bulging out, almost as if he wanted to speak, but could only manage a faint whimper. He then spat out a mouthful of blood.
"Ah!" The serving maid was shocked by this strange side, and screamed out in terror, her eyes depicted a look of intense fear, "Young Miss, let's get away from here."
The serving maid screamed once more, before jumping in between the man and her young miss, as if trying to protect her from whatever harm this man was capable of.
A hooded figure appeared behind him, his sword glistening red with blood, which was dripping down onto the ground. The man in front then fell to the ground with a loud thud. It seemed like the hooded figure had just killed the man who was approaching the duo. When the serving maid saw this, she shouted, "Who are you? Do not harm us."
"Who are you? My mother is a daughter of the Meng family, and I am due to marry into the Zhang family. My name is Shen Wan Ling, do not make a mistake by touching me." The young lady glared at the man who had a sword in his hands.
When he heard this word, the hooded figure laughed hysterically as the pair of women looked extremely confused.
"Ah!" The serving maid screamed out once more. The hooded figure had stepped forward and cut through the clothes of the man on the ground. He then revealed the dead man's hand, which was tightly gripped onto a dagger. The tip of the dagger was black and had been dipped into poison. The rainwater started to wash the poison off the dagger.
"Miss Shen, do you understand now, I bear you no ill will." The hooded figure laughed as he spoke.
"Thank you, Young Master for your kindness." Shen Wan Lin then noticed something about the dead man's wound and jumped in shock before bowing to her savior, to conceal her reaction.
"Miss Shen is too formal. It's just that maybe we should move away from the rain, I have something I wish to speak to you about." The man who was wearing a cloak said.
"There's nobody at the pavilion in front, and Miss Shen does not have to worry about her reputation by speaking with me."
Shen Wan Lin frowned. She was a woman who was due to be wedded soon. At this point in time, it was extremely inappropriate for her to be seen with another man. It's just that the familiar looking wound on the dead man flashed past in her head, scaring her a little.
"Please lead the way Young Master." Shen Wan Lin heard the young voice of the man and thus addressed him as such. She composed herself and spoke extremely calmly.
It's just that the serving maid beside her was panicking in horror. She glanced at the dead man beneath her feet, and looked up again at the man in cloak. The man's features were being obscured by the cloak. Her face turned pale. She then tugged at the sleeves of the lady, "Young Miss, this man is clearly using the fact that he had rescued you to ask you for a favor, do not agree to it."
The serving maid's legs were trembling in fear, knowing that her young miss from Shen household had seen enough of such things to be afraid.
Shen Wan Lin listened to the serving maid before hesitating. She then said, "Young Master, Xiao Lan didn't mean to speak out, please do not be offended."