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Jianghu Demolition Squad

Jianghu By Jun 19, 2024 2 Comments
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Chapter 45: Nightmare

Danger at The Tomb of the King (Part Fifteen)

Last night, Yu’er was tormented by another nightmare from which she just managed to escape.

Days have passed, yet the battle that took place on the suspension bridge within the Tomb of King Cheng remains vividly imprinted in her mind. As she twirled her dagger, the sensation of the blade piercing her palm before sinking into the chest of her opponent, slicing through the clothes, chain mail, and drilling into flesh, the sound and sensation are incredibly clear. Even with her eyes closed, she can still see the confused and helpless look in her enemy’s eyes.

Qing Jiu asks, “Do you regret killing him?”

Yu’er played with the bandage on her right hand, where the wound has already scabbed over, “I don’t regret it, I just…” If it happened again, she believes she would still do the same, but now, thinking back, she feels somewhat at a loss. Taking someone’s life is easy, but whenever she thinks about it, her heart feels unbearably heavy.

“I don’t like the feeling of easily taking someone else’s life,” Yu’er admits. “Qing Jiu, you’re right; it’s not an easy thing to come to terms with.”

“You can’t let go in your heart,” Qing Jiu observes, and Yu’er silently agrees.

“Yu’er, in the world of jianghu, where violence and bloodshed are rampant, it’s a matter of life and death between you and your opponent. And remember, there’s still much more to face ahead.”

“I know,” Yu’er responds.

“If you bear the weight of every soul you’ve killed, it will overwhelm you, “Qing Jiu cautions.

Yu’er remains silent.

Standing up, Qing Jiu moves closer to Yu’er and offers her hand, saying, “Give me your hand.”

Yu’er, puzzled, stretches out her hand and places it in Qing Jiu’s palm. The night air has cooled her skin, but Qing Jiu’s palm is still warm.

Qing Jiu takes out a string of prayer beads from her sleeve. Yu’er exclaims in surprise, “Qing Jiu?” as Qing Jiu wraps the beads around Yu’er’s right wrist.

Before going down to the tomb, Qing Jiu had carefully wrapped the beads and kept them close to avoid getting wet, knowing how much Yu’er valued them, as she does her sword.

After securing the prayer beads on Yu’er’s wrist, Qing Jiu holds her right hand, looks down thoughtfully, and says, “Before I left, my master gave these to me, saying I didn’t need to be perfectly kind or righteous, but I should live without guilt. Today, I’m giving them to you.”

With a gentle lift of her palm, Qing Jiu touches Yu’er’s face, reassuring her softly, “Yu’er, live without guilt.”

“You should know, if he wanted to kill you, then he deserved to die,” Qing Jiu said, her smile as sharp and breathtaking as frost on snow, urging, “Treasure it well.”

Standing up, Yu’er clasped the prayer beads to her chest, a tickling sensation stirring within her, leaving her heart fluttering uncontrollably.

She gazed longingly at Qing Jiu. Qing Jiu, already ascending the stone steps to the corridor, called back, “It’s cool at night; don’t sit for too long. Go back to sleep.”

With every step Qing Jiu took, it seemed as if lotuses bloomed beneath her feet, her robes catching the wind. She always carried herself with such an effortless grace.

A warmth spread across Yu’er’s chest, overwhelming in its intensity, bringing a sting of tears to her eyes. She called out, “Qing Jiu.”

Qing Jiu paused and turned back to look at her, a tender light shining in that moment.

Yu’er felt an urgent need to express something, but upon reflection, she couldn’t find the right words. Overwhelmed by her emotions, she couldn’t bear to let Qing Jiu leave without saying something important.

What was it?

Yu’er’s lips moved slightly, a sheen of sweat appearing as she finally said, “I will always follow you.”

Qing Jiu looked at her for a moment and smiled, saying, “Go to sleep.”

Turning at the end of the corridor, Qing Jiu disappeared from view. Yu’er remained standing there, looking at the prayer beads in her hand, her smile warm.

The next day, before anyone had the chance to see Yan Li, the maid in the pale-yellow dress from the day before came to take Hua Lian and Tang Linzhi to cure the poison of Xiao Yao San.

Everyone was surprised, unsure how Yan Li managed to convince the Jile City to agree so readily. Hua Lian and Tang Linzhi were worried about Yan Li, but with the poison still in their bodies and no chance to see anyone, they had no choice but to follow the maid to get cured first before attempting any rescue.

In the city, there were several medicinal pools designed to cure the Xiao Yao San poison, one had to soak in them for three days and nights.

The city treated them almost like honored guests, granting nearly every request except for leaving the palace or seeing Yan Li.

During this time, Mo Wen found Si Yu and learned they hadn’t captured Yu Hei and Yu Bai, who had safely escaped. Relieved, she casually requested many medicinal herbs from him, and by evening, someone had delivered all the requested herbs.

Qi Tianzhu, Mo Wen, Yu’er, and Qing Jiu all had injuries, some serious, some minor. Mo Wen prepared the medicine, one dose for each person.

Yu’er held the medicine bowl, noticing its dark green, thick consistency that emitted a pungent stench that, despite being somewhat masked by other bitter aromas, remained distinctly noticeable. She glanced at the others’ bowls, noting their dark brown color, while hers appeared oddly different.

“Why is my medicine different?” Yu’er asked.

“Because the nature of our injuries differs, so does our medicine,” Mo Wen explained. “I’ve lost too much blood and need something to boost my energy and replenish it. Brother Qi was scratched by a water monkey, requiring a remedy to expel Yin and banish evil. Qing Jiu has internal injuries, needing something to balance and nourish her internal energy. You… you were wounded by a divine artifact, a minor wound that must not be underestimated and needs substantial nourishment.”

“What did you add to mine? It doesn’t seem like a nourishing medicine,” Yu’er inquired.

“Just drink it quickly,” Mo Wen replied. Although her face remained expressionless, her eyes were animated, and Yu’er had learned to read some emotions in them, such as the guilt evident now.

Qing Jiu, leaning against the railing of the corridor with her own medicine in hand, chuckled, “Mo Wen wouldn’t harm you.”

Looking at the medicine bowl in her hands, Yu’er sighed lightly, took a tentative sip, and found the taste unbearably bitter and fishy. Resigned, she closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and downed it in one go.

When Mo Wen and Qing Jiu entered and saw the empty bowl, they asked, “Finished?”

Yu’er nodded, “Hmm.” Satisfied, the two nodded their heads.

Soon after, Hua Lian and Tang Linzhi returned from their medicinal bath, now able to walk. Stretching lazily, Hua Lian boasted, “Lord Hua is alive again!”

As he relaxed, Mo Wen grabbed his wrist to take his pulse, announcing, “The poison from the Xiao Yao San is cleared. With your vitality, a good night’s rest should have you fully recovered.”

While they were talking, laughter from Qing Jiu broke the moment, “She wouldn’t let you come to see us.” Turning their attention outside, they saw Yan Li had returned.

Hua Lian, with a teasing smile, said, “We thought the City Lord had devoured you. We were getting ready to recover your remains once we were a bit more nimble. Truly, a swindler’s bones are hard to chew through, no matter what demons or monsters come.”

“How is the poison?” Yan Li asked.

“Almost recovered,” Tang Linzhi responded.

Mo Wen added, “The injuries of Qing Jiu and the others are also mostly healed.”

The group fell into a moment of silence. Yu’er spoke up, “Yan Li, you’re alright, aren’t you?” At this moment, Yan Li seemed calmer and more subdued than usual, with a tired look in her eyes.

Shaking her head, Yan Li proposed, “Since everyone is almost recovered, let’s set out for Yunmeng Marsh tomorrow.”

Hua Lian interjected, “That’s so sudden. Will the City Lord of Jile City let us go? Given her fierce attitude in the tomb earlier, I doubt she’ll let things go so easily.”

Yan Li retorted, “If she doesn’t let us leave, does that mean we’ll just stay?”

“Fair point,” Hua Lian conceded. “Let’s prepare then, and leave tomorrow.”

As the others dispersed, Qing Jiu remained seated on the railing. Her gaze flickered towards the mark on the back of Yan Li’s neck, remarking, “I told you, you’re no match for her.”

The evening breeze gently brushed Yan Li’s white hair, glowing in the sunset, creating a shimmering effect. Yan Li adjusted her robe and replied, “I initiated the deal with her, exchanging it for the antidote. It’s a good bargain.”

“It seems you’d rather trade your life for it,” Qing Jiu noted, half-joking. Yan Li gave no clear response, prompting Qing Jiu to add, “In that case, why not stay here and become the City Lord’s wife?”

Yan Li gave her a sidelong glance, questioning, “Are you serious about that?”

Qing Jiu laughed, “Just kidding. ‘Unless Yan Li dies, she would never allow herself to fall in love with Wu Yu,’ right?” This was something Yan Li had blurted out after drinking. Such words were hard for Qing Jiu to hear from a sober Yan Li.

With a sigh, Qing Jiu thought to herself, “If only you could truly be as unmovable as a rock, no longer troubled by matters of the heart.”

Yan Li, not wanting to dwell on the topic, shifted the conversation, “Are you confident you can face Si Yu and come out alive?”

Qing Jiu understood she was referring to leaving Jile City tomorrow. She drank half of the now-cooled medicine in her hand and poured the rest onto the grass in front of the railing. “Si Yu won’t be a problem for me, and Hua Lian and the others can take care of themselves.” After a pause, she asked, “If Wu Yu is determined to keep you here, who do you think should deal with her?”

Yan Li answered, “I will.”

Qing Jiu moved back inside, placing the medicine bowl on the table, “Your hidden illness…”

Yan Li responded with assurance, “Just stopping her won’t be a problem.”

Turning to face Yan Li, Qing Jiu studied her for a moment before suddenly asking, “Actually, staying here a few more days wouldn’t be an issue. Why the rush to leave?” Yan Li remained silent, frowned, her complexion paler than usual.

Qing Jiu let out a laugh, “Never mind, let’s not talk about it.” She waved her hand dismissively and added, “I gave the prayer beads to Yu’er. After going through so much bloodshed, it’s normal for anyone to have nightmares. Those beads do have some calming and evil-dispelling properties, so I gave them to her. When you have the chance to return to the Canglong Mountain, you can vouch for me, so they don’t say I didn’t appreciate its value and just carelessly left it at the foot of the mountain.”

“If Master Kuyuan knew you had taken good care of it until you sincerely passed it on to someone else, he would surely be comforted,” Yan Li remarked.

The next morning, the seven of them were ready to depart. Leaving the palace, they boldly took the main path. Just as they stepped out of the palace gates, two guards blocked their way, noting their packed belongings and instructed, “Please, return to the palace.”

“What if I refuse to go back?” Hua Lian challenged.

Yan Li held Hua Lian back, suggesting, “Let’s go and bid farewell to the City Lord.”

The guards looked at each other, and one left, presumably to seek orders. Soon after, Si Yu arrived with a group of people. Wearing silver armor and a silver-white feathered helmet, he looked dignified and bowed to Yan Li, then said to the group, “Please, feel at ease to stay. Jile City is known for its hospitality. If you need anything, just ask. It’s only been a few days; why the hurry to leave?”

“Our need is to leave,” Hua Lian stated plainly.

“We have urgent matters to attend to and cannot stay longer,” Yan Li added.

Si Yu, always serious, glanced at Yan Li and offered, “If there are urgent matters, my men can handle them on your behalf.”

Impatiently, Tang Linzhi retorted, “Enough talk. Can we not just settle this with a fight?”

Hua Lian raised his voice to Si Yu, “Although your city cured me and my companion of the Xiao Yao San poison, let’s not forget that it was your poison to begin with. You attacked us in King Cheng’s Tomb without any reason, and we haven’t held it against you, so we’re even now. As for our stay in the Jile City, your City Lord has been friendly and treated us well, fulfilling the duties of a host. Hence, we sincerely wished to bid farewell before leaving. If fate allows, we’ll host you in return one day. We are determined to proceed with our journey. If you let us leave peacefully, we’ll consider you friends. But if you forcibly stop us, don’t blame us for turning hostile!”

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dweeb
dweeb
28 days ago

Damn, I feel bad for Yan Li. Sometimes mercy and forgiveness can be seen as the worst punishment

Khriss
Khriss
21 days ago

Prayer beads were given to QJ by YL’s master maybe?!
Thanks for the chapter