Chapter 135: Shen Wan Lin
Translator: Translation Nation Editor: Translation Nation
The hooded swordsman looked at the serving maid before looking at Shen Wan Lin. He then laughed, "I have no intention of being your enemy. Trust me, if I treated you as an enemy, you wouldn't be alive at this point."
"Even if I don't kill you, capturing you wouldn't be difficult, don't you agree?" The hooded figure's face was concealed and thus they couldn't see how he looked. However, the truth of his words pierced through their hearts like a knife.
Hearing his words gave the young lady's heart a chill. Before long, she spoke out, "Young Master doesn't need to scare us any longer. I believe you."
Shen Wan Lin's words were soft and gentle, and yet her face was still pale from fear.
"Miss, this person is definitely..." The serving maid wished to speak further but she stopped when Shen Wan Lin extended a hand. She then held her tongue and spoke no more, swallowing her words.
Shen Wan Lin bowed deeply, "Please show the way, Young Master."
Miss Shen's voice was warm and gentle, it made anyone listening to her feel comfortable and at ease. The hooded swordsman couldn't help but gaze upon her face occasionally. Shen Wan Lin was indeed very pretty. Returning the courteous gesture, the hooded swordsman bowed, "Miss, this way."
As he spoke, he kicked the body at his feet into the water. The corpse then rolled off the bridge and down into the river. After several moments, the water around the corpse turned red with blood.
"Ah!" The serving maid screamed out in horror, but managed to follow them, her knees weak from fright. She was afraid that the swordsman would turn on them as well. She forced herself to stay composed, as she held the umbrella overhead for her miss. The rain continuously falling upon them.
Shen Wan Lin's facial expression did not look too good as well. She gritted her teeth as she followed him, her eyes bore a look of expectation, yet mixed with hesitation. The three of them continued walking ahead. Before long, a lone pavilion came into view. It was surrounded by many willow trees. The trees were so dense that it was hard to gaze into the pavilion.
The hooded swordsman stood in the middle of the pavilion as Shen Wan Lin followed closely behind. When she entered the pavilion she spoke softly, "I wonder why Young Master led us here?"
"Firstly, dismiss your serving maid. I have issues to discuss with you, alone." The swordsman said.
"No, I won't leave. I have to protect my miss. If I leave and you do anything to her, how should I react?" The serving maid plucked up her courage and stood in front of her miss.
"Xiao Lan grew up together with me, and has never left my side. She will not betray me. If you have anything to speak, please do speak up." Shen Wan Lin furrowed her brows, as if she was slightly disappointed, and yet still spoke gently.
"There's no telling the intentions within each person's heart. I won't make such a mistake." The swordsman said coldly.
After hearing this, Shen Wan Lin paused for sometime before saying, "Xiao Lan, wait for me at the corner beside the pavilion. I have words to exchange with this Young Master."
"Miss!" The serving maid started tugging on the seams of her Miss' robes.
"Xiao Lan, I will be fine. Don't worry, he won't hurt me." Shen Wan Lin then whispered some words into the serving maid's ears. She then turned around to leave, opened her umbrella, and stood under the rain.
Seeing that the serving maid had left, the hooded swordsman then casually said, "The person whom I just killed was an assassin from the Jade Valve Clan."
As he spoke, he removed his hood. The young lady then looked at the swordsman before her. It was a young man in his teens. It was Pei Zi Yun.
This young man was extremely handsome, with delicate features. He carried a warm and friendly demeanor, and yet looked extremely confident. And yet he possessed something within him that made her hair stand up just by looking at him. A look of disappointment and resignation flashed in her eyes. After hearing the swordsman's demands to dismiss Xiao Lan, she knew that the person behind the hood was not her elder brother. Her elder brother knew of their close and intimate relationship and wouldn't send her away.
However, she still clung on to the slim chance that it could be him. When the hood was finally lifted, her eyes thus showed one of disappointment. After some time, she finally spoke out, "Are you my uncle's man? Only my uncle's or brother's man would know such dagger techniques."
Although the swordsman had used a sword, the stroke that he had used, that precision and flawlessness in execution, that beautifully cruel wound that had appeared, was known to nobody except her brother and uncle. Could it be that her uncle handed this skill to outsiders?
When he heard these words, Pei Zi Yun laughed out, "No, I am not their men. Your martial arts skills are not that good, but you have a very sharp eye. Although I wielded a sword to execute a dagger technique that belonged to your family, I did not learn it from your brother or uncle. It's just that I observed the wounds made by this technique, and learnt some strokes from it."
"That's impossible. How can you look at the wounds made by the techniques and learn the techniques itself? How could you have mastered the dagger technique special only to my family?" Shen Wan Lin raised her head to look at the young man, her face in utter disbelief. How could an outsider master her house's dagger technique just by looking at it?
Pei Zi Yun laughed, "Haven't you heard, that regardless of which entrance a person takes to ascend the mountain, the conclusion would still be the same. In other words, a loser would perform a hundred thousand different varieties of a technique and still amount to nothing, while a winner would only require a single stroke to perfect a technique."
"Dagger techniques, sword techniques, staff techniques, spear techniques are all variations of martial arts and fighting skills. However, the principle remains the same: to kill. Once you understand this logic, then you will see that with every technique, there are at least six or seven different ways of executing it. Each different way will wield a subtly different result. Hence, by examining the wounds, I was able to deduce how the movements were like, and thus able to unravel the mystery."
He had only spoken half of what was on his mind pertaining to this topic, when he realized that he was speaking to a lady, and was thus an inappropriate topic of discussion. He then kept his smile, and turned serious, "It's just that I imitated the strokes based on my observation of the wounds, and isn't an accurate portrayal of the actual technique. Hence when I saw an enemy, I just used it.... I looked for you for another reason."
Hearing Pei Zi Yun's words, Shen Wan Lin seemed like she still could not believe him, and felt like he was evading the subject. She then asked, "So what have you got to say?"
"Do you know of the bamboo hat assassin, who constantly clashed with the Meng and Zhang houses?" Pei Zi Yun asked.
"What?" When the lady heard this, her facial expression turned, her face was one of suspicion.
"I've looked up on this bamboo hat assassin, and found out that he had made an enemy out of the Meng and Zhang houses. Thus I decided to look at the finer details. I then discovered that although it seemed like he constantly opposed these two houses, he rarely killed anyone from these two houses. In fact, whenever something involved you, he would do his utmost to protect you."
"This afternoon, Liang household's Liang Zi Han has been murdered, and this is related to you. He wished to kidnap you in the hopes of creating problems for Meng and Zhang households!"
"What?" Shen Wan Lin heard this and was astonished. She then looked at Pei Zi Yun warily before taking a few steps back.
"I've already said that I am not threatening you, neither am I trying to seek your opinion on this matter. But isn't this bamboo hat assassin your brother, Shen Zhen? Since you agreed to dismiss your serving maid, you've already guessed what I was going to say didn't you?" Pei Zi Yun spoke plainly.
"Meng Luo Gong of the Meng family is your and Shen Zhen maternal uncle. However, since your parents died at a young age, everything that was supposed to be inherited by Shen Zhen was gradually acquired by Meng Luo Gong."
"Your brother and uncle have a huge conflict between them. That's why your brother left home many years ago."
"All these years, the reputation of the bamboo hat assassin started to grow. He has constantly pitted himself against the Zhang and Meng households. However, whenever something threatened to bring you down or hurt you, he would rush to protect you. Therefore I concluded that his opposition to these two houses was just a facade, a pretense. His real aim was to help and assist."
"Especially for the Zhang family, the family you are marrying into. Recently, the bamboo hat assassin killed many master level martial artists. Some of them were from Zhang household itself who have threatened your future husband, Zhang Ping. Others were the enemies of the Zhang household. All these were done in order to pave the way for Zhang Ping, and ensure his safety. But what's the link between the bamboo hat assassin and Zhang Ping? The link is you."
"The fog was extremely dense and thick at first, concealing my eyes from the truth. However, once I started peeling it away layer by layer, the truth stared hard at me, and everything became clear. What do you say about this? Miss Shen."
When she heard him speak, Shen Wan Lin's face started turning pale. Her gaze never left his face as she retreated several steps back. She looked almost as if her entire heart was being attacked.
"You're not my uncle's man, neither are you my brother's man." Shen Wan Lin trembled as she spoke.
At this point, Pei Zi Yun laughed out, "I am just an outsider who wishes to help your brother!"
Shen Wan Lin took another step back, refusing to speak.
"You don't believe me?" Pei Zi Yun laughed, seeing Shen Wan Lin's confused expression.
"Why would you help my brother?" Shen Wan Lin looked at Pei Zi Yun, her hands gripping her handkerchief tightly in nervousness. It seemed like she regretted following this man all the way here.
"Your brother and I share the same enemy. You do not have to worry about me plotting against your brother, as I have no such intentions. It's just that I've heard something extremely interesting. It's possible that we might even become friends in future. Hence, I intentionally helped you out by saving your life. So that when you next meet your brother, you can mention what I did!" Pei Zi Yun looked at her guarded expression and laughed again.
When Shen Wan Lin heard this, she stood in silence, and Pei Zi Yun allowed her to think for some time. He then continued after some silence, "That's all for our discussion today. I've heard that you are about to get married, congratulations. In the future, don't go out by yourself again. For now, your uncle, brother and future husband all have many enemies. You will not be this lucky everyday. When the big day of your wedding arrives, I shall personally be there to give you a present. Farewell."
Pei Zi Yun then turned around to leave. Shen Wan Lin watched as Pei Zi Yun darted through the rain. She then hurriedly shouted, "Who are you?"
"Who I am is not important. What's important is that we shall meet again. Oh yes. I need to ask you a painful question. If your brother and future husband clashed in future, on which side will you stand?"
After asking this cruel question, Pei Zi Yun turned around to leave even before waiting for a reply. Within seconds, his shadow vanished into the rain.
Seeing Pei Zi Yun leave into the torrential rain, the serving maid ran over to her Miss and stood in front of Shen Wan Lin, "Miss, that person was behaving so strangely. Did he do anything untoward to you?"
"It's nothing. It could be my brother's man. He just spoke several words before leaving." Shen Wan Lin had an abrupt ill feeling of uneasiness, but forced a smile.
When she heard this, the serving maid Xiao Lan heaved a sigh of relief, "Miss, we were very lucky that Young Master sent us his men to protect us. Miss, we shall not go out by ourselves again in future. Xiao Lan was really terrified to death. In future we should arrange for Young Master Zhang to send several guards to escort us."
"Eh, Xiao Lan, let's go back. Do not speak about this matter to anyone else. Or else, we could get into more trouble." Shen Wan Lin spoke.
Hearing her Miss's instructions, the serving maid Xiao Lan agreed. Holding the umbrella over their heads she replied, "Miss, let's return home."
The sky was still overwhelmed by dark clouds, as the sounds of rain falling reverberated throughout the entire area. Pei Zi Yun took in all the sights of the lovely rain, as he continued walking. He was deep in thought. This Meng Luo Gong, the Shen sibling's uncle, was Xie Cheng Dong's man. According to the original owner's memories, Meng Luo Gong had died at the hands of his own nephew, Shen Zhen.
The original owner had been captured then and was imprisoned. However, he still managed to hear some news about Shen Zhen. It's been rumored that this was a huge blow to Xie Cheng Dong, who did not forgive the killing of his valuable man. It's also been said that the reason Shen Zhen killed his uncle was because of his sister.
'Hm, treasures stir the heart of men, and Dao manuals cause people to act rashly. Xie Cheng Dong was not interested in the manual . However, to Meng Luo Gong, this was the key to walking along the Dao.'
'The Eight Steps of Clarity was always the secret heirloom of the Shen family. Not only did Meng Luo Gong learn the martial arts techniques of the Shen family, and even acquired the authority and prestige of the Shen household. He even plotted to steal the heirloom from the rightful heir, Shen Zhen.'
'It's even been said that Meng Luo Gong was somewhat related to the deaths of Shen Zhen's parents. The details were hazy, but rumors were that he was involved.'
'Hence, Shen Zhen thus took the heirloom and ran away. Meng Luo Gong had thus treated his niece very well. It's been said that her wedding was a pretext for Meng Luo Gong to lure Shen Zhen out with the secret manual, so that he could acquire it by force.'
'According to the original owner's memories, Shen Zhen did not die, but suffered a great loss.'
'And I am not stepping across boundaries. I just wish to help Shen Zhen, so that he will be fit enough to deal with Xie Cheng Dong for me. After that we shall both kill Meng Luo Gong, and cripple Xie Cheng Dong.'
A single drop of rainwater landed on a leaf and stayed there for a moment, before it dripped down into the river, causing ripples to form.