Jianghu Demolition Squad

Jianghu By Jun 24, 2024 1 Comment
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Chapter 53: Wounded

Eleven Yanyu Pavilions (Part Seven)

Yang Chun, holding Chini, glanced at the man’s unfriendly expression and instinctively leapt backward, landing on a table without immediately fleeing. “Miss Tang, then you…”

Tang Linzhi drew her commonly used pair of short daggers, as if facing a formidable enemy. “Go!” she commanded.

The man before her had a handsome and striking appearance, with eyes as still as dead water. Tang Linzhi estimated his martial arts skills were not low, possibly even surpassing her own. If they tried to leave together, they certainly wouldn’t be able to escape. The only option was for one person to stay behind and delay the pursuit.

Suddenly, the man’s figure moved, and a cold light flashed as he attacked Yang Chun. Yang Chun cried out in surprise and, without hesitation, leaped through the large hole previously made in the roof. Tang Linzhi intercepted the man’s attack, disrupting his momentum.

The man wielded a willow-leaf saber, which danced lightly like willow leaves in the wind. In an instant, the blade’s light enveloped Tang Linzhi, confining her within its range.

Tang Linzhi faced the situation calmly. Her weapon was shorter, which was better for close combat. She moved swiftly, seeking openings to advance towards the man. For every step he retreated, she advanced, mirroring his movements as if casting a shadow.

Tang Linzhi approached on the ground, kicking the man’s wrist. With a twist of her wrist, she launched her short dagger towards the man’s chest. A metallic clang sounded as the man drew a short dagger with his left hand, deflecting Tang Linzhi’s thrown dagger, and thrusting forward in a fluid motion.

Tang Linzhi wrapped her arms around his left arm in response, her right-hand dagger slashing towards the man’s neck.

The man quickly countered with his willow-leaf saber, forcing Tang Linzhi to release her grip and roll to the side to avoid his strike.

Standing up, Tang Linzhi noticed a slash mark on her arm. The man tore open his outer clothes, which had been sliced by the dagger, revealing his sturdy attire underneath, and asked, “What is your relation to Marquis Qing? Your martial arts style is similar to his.”

Tang Linzhi stared at him for a long moment. The man’s expression was stern, his gaze fixed on Tang Linzhi.

Never one to shy away from confrontation, Tang Linzhi, unconcerned whether this man bore any deep-seated vendetta against her master, responded straightforwardly, “He is my master.”

The man paused briefly before introducing himself. “I am Feixu.”

Since he had already revealed his identity, Tang Linzhi followed the rules of etiquette and said, “Tang Linzhi.”

They prepared for another round, with Tang Linzhi drawing her daggers once more, facing Feixu with a ready stance. Feixu, armed with a long saber in one hand and a short dagger in the other, was fully committed to the confrontation.

As the eyes of the two met, their bodies moved swiftly like lightning. The only sounds in the hall were the clashing and clinking of weapons, as the fierce blade energy shattered the tables and chairs into pieces.

Despite their prolonged battle, not a single member of the Liusha Gang arrived to assist. The guards outside had already become a pile of corpses, secretly infiltrated and killed by Feixu without anyone noticing.

Feixu was also an assassin, and a first-class one at that. His movements were agile, his strength was fierce, and his swordsmanship flowed like clouds and water, never hesitating. He also had various hidden weapons on him but did not use them during the fight with Tang Linzhi, who in turn also refrained from using hidden weapons.

The two fought their way from the hall to the front courtyard. Near the gang’s flag, barrels of wine were stacked. Tang Linzhi, with a powerful kick, sent one barrel flying towards Feixu. With a slash, Feixu cut the barrel in two, and wine spilled into the air.

As Tang Linzhi turned her blade, she caught a few droplets of wine on the flat side of her dagger and, using a subtle force, shot these droplets like stones at Feixu’s vital points.

This technique, named ‘Celestial Maiden Scattering Flowers’ by her master, was as beautiful in name as it was lethal in execution.

Feixu danced his willow-leaf saber, deflecting the droplets. The droplets that hit the blade splashed and scattered in unpredictable directions, with great number and speed. Feixu failed to notice in time and two drops flew into his eyes, causing him to close them briefly.

Tang Linzhi seized the opportunity to press her attack. Feixu, making a split-second decision, combined his long and short sabers and slashed towards Tang Linzhi’s left side. Tang Linzhi dodged to the right, blocking with her left hand’s short dagger, and struck at Feixu with her right. Tang Linzhi thought to herself, “How could he be so careless as to leave his left side wide open.” She didn’t have time to think carefully and assumed he was disoriented by the water droplets in his eyes, causing a momentary panic.

Feixu’s strike landed on Tang Linzhi’s short dagger, sending a shockwave through it. Tang Linzhi barely managed to hold on, but Feixu’s attack was not over. His short saber shot out, closely following his long saber, aiming for Tang Linzhi’s wrist.

Startled, Tang Linzhi retracted her hand too late. In that instant, she realized her mistake. Feixu’s unobstructed willow-leaf saber sliced diagonally from her left shoulder down to her abdomen, blood spattering. Tang Linzhi’s dagger only managed to injure Feixu’s shoulder blade, but it was no ordinary weapon; forged from Qing Huan metal, it pierced through flesh and bone.

However, Tang Linzhi’s injury was still more severe. The wound was quite large and deep, with blood flowing continuously. She soon fell to her knees, weakened and covered in cold sweat. Feixu stood emotionless, the outcome of their duel apparent.

Feixu sheathed his saber and did not directly take Tang Linzhi’s life. “Your master once saved my life,” he said. “Out of respect for him, I will spare your life. If you are lucky enough to survive, when we meet again in the future, we will settle the matter of life and death then.”

With those words, Feixu left as cleanly as he had arrived, leaving Tang Linzhi’s fate to chance.

Tang Linzhi was severely injured, her mind already in a state of confusion. She couldn’t even lift her hand, let alone use acupuncture to stop the bleeding. She could only vaguely see a figure departing.

The wind whistled in her ears, and it seemed like a moment had passed, or perhaps a long time. She felt someone supporting her, a warm flow of energy streaming from her wrist, clearing her mind a bit. Looking at the person beside her, she asked with a weary voice, “Yang Chun?”

Yang Chun had quickly applied acupuncture to stop the bleeding and, in a frantic rush, tore off his outer garment to wrap around her wound, urgently saying, “Miss Tang, hold on, I’ll take you to a Healer!”

Yang Chun lifted her onto his back. Tang Linzhi murmured in a daze, “Didn’t you leave already?”

“I was worried, so I decided to secretly come back and take a look.” Yang Chun replied. It was fortunate that he did.

Yang Chun moved Chini to the front, tapped his foot, and leapt out into the distance.

After Qing Jiu and Liu Xiu returned to the Yuyu Pavilion with the so-called antidote, they headed straight to the backyard to find Mo Wen. They found Yu’er grinding medicine in the courtyard, occasionally sighing deeply.

Liu Xiu approached and asked, “Sister Yu’er, where is Miss Mo Wen?”

Upon seeing their return, Yu’er glanced at Qing Jiu and quickly averted her gaze, saying, “Mo Wen is in the study.”

Liu Xiu went to the study to seek Mo Wen’s verification of the antidote’s authenticity. Qing Jiu, however, didn’t hurry to follow and stayed aside.

A gentle breeze blew, and Yu’er smoothed her disheveled hair near her temples. Qing Jiu noticed the jade hairpin on Yu’er’s hair and asked, “Where did you get that hairpin?”

Yu’er touched the jade hairpin, pursed her lips, and smiled at Qing Jiu, “Do you think it looks nice?”

“It’s beautiful,” Qing Jiu replied with a smile.

Yu’er looked at the person in front of her. Her face held the radiance of spring, her eyes sparkling with its warmth. For a moment, Yu’er was lost in their beauty. Then, a flush crept up her own cheeks. Embarrassed, she quickly changed the subject. “Where are Tang Linzhi and Yang Chun?”

“They went fishing. If all goes well, they should be back by tomorrow.”

As they were talking, Liu Xiu and Mo Wen emerged. Qing Jiu asked, “Is this antidote real or fake?”

Liu Xiu shared with a smile, “Half real, half fake. It figures. If those people are despicable enough to resort to poisoning, how could they be decent enough to provide a genuine antidote?” Although it could counteract the poison, it was designed with malice, containing a mechanism that could trigger another type of toxicity, revealing the sinister intentions behind it.

Qing Jiu reassured, “There’s no need to panic. Let’s first see what Tang Linzhi and the others have managed to find.”

After a night of waiting, early the next morning, urgent shouts echoed through the courtyard: “Someone, come quick! Miss Mo Wen!”

At the time, everyone was still asleep. Recognizing Yang Chun’s voice, Qing Jiu quickly got up, donned a robe, and went outside. With a glance, she saw Yang Chun in the courtyard, carrying Tang Linzhi on his back. They looked disheveled, and his face was pale. She hurried over to them, “What happened?!”

As Qing Jiu approached, she saw that Tang Linzhi’s clothes were stained with blood, and she was unconscious. She checked her pulse and was relieved to find that her breathing was steady.

Qing Jiu led Yang Chun to Mo Wen’s room, waking up everyone in the process. Yu’er and the others were shocked to see Tang Linzhi in such a state. They had never seen Tang Linzhi in such a battered state, not even in the Tomb of King Cheng, where she hadn’t suffered such severe injuries.

Mo Wen placed Tang Linzhi on the bed and checked her pulse. She then asked all the men out of the room and removed the bandages on Tang Linzhi’s chest to examine the wound. A gruesome gash extended from her left shoulder to her lower abdomen, but fortunately, it didn’t damage any internal organs, and timely treatment had been administered, meaning Tang Linzhi had lost a lot of blood but could recover with rest and care.

After Mo Wen’s explanation, everyone’s worries were eased. Only then did they have a chance to listen to Yang Chun recount the entire incident.

Yang Chun detailed the events that had transpired the previous day. He mentioned returning to the Liusha Gang, taking Tang Linzhi to a medical house in the city for a rough bandaging, and fearing that the assailant might pursue them, he hurriedly brought Tang Linzhi back.

Qing Jiu asked, “Did you recognize which sect or clan that person belonged to?”

Yang Chun shook his head, “I don’t know, but judging from his skills, he’s an assassin, and he knew Tang Linzhi’s master.”

Yang Chun handed the Jin Gu he had obtained from the Liusha Gang to Mo Wen. Mo Wen took it and saw a plump white silkworm lying inside, along with a medicinal pill on the side. She poked the white silkworm and said, “This is a Jin Gu used for testing poisons.”

Yang Chun explained, “I’m not sure what this is exactly. The leader of the Liusha gang was coerced into working for Feixu because he was poisoned. Later, Feixu provided an antidote, and the gang leader fed a bit of the antidote to this white silkworm, which immediately changed color. Firstly, I found it strange, and secondly, I thought that the organization behind Feixu might be the mastermind, and perhaps the poison given to the Liusha gang leader was the same as the one affecting the Pavilion Master. That’s why I brought both of these items back.”

Mo Wen said, “The Jin Gu can test the nature of medicines and distinguish the real from the fake among various antidotes.” She didn’t elaborate on the usage but held the plump white silkworm in one hand and the pill in the other, asking Yang Chun, “Can I keep this Jin Gu?”

Seeing the eagerness in Mo Wen’s eyes, Yang Chun immediately smiled and waved his hand, “This thing is useless to me; it was meant to be brought back for Miss Mo Wen in the first place. If you want it, take it.”

Mo Wen happily accepted it and then proceeded to study the antidote provided by the leader of the Liusha Gang.

By the time Liu Xiu arrived after hearing the news, it was already noon, and she felt both joy and worry. The joy came from discovering that the poison affecting the leader of the Liusha Gang was the same as the one afflicting the master of the Yanyu Pavilion, and the antidote Yang Chun brought back could cure the master, which was a stroke of great fortune, resolving a matter that had been troubling Liu Xiu. The worry was due to Tang Linzhi’s injury and her unconscious state.

Tang Linzhi remained unconscious for several days. On this particular day, Liu Xiu visited her in the pharmacy again. She lay on the bed, her face pale, her eyes tightly closed, and her body motionless, still not awake. The bandages on Tang Linzhi’s body extended all the way up to her neck. Mo Wen mentioned that the sword wound was truly horrifying, and even after healing, it would leave a scar.

Although Liu Xiu was often annoyed with her, that annoyance had turned to a sense of solidarity, seeing her now injured so severely over matters concerning the Yanyu Pavilion. Liu Xiu, who disliked owing favors to anyone, felt a heavy burden of debt towards Tang Linzhi after hearing Yang Chun’s account, despite their relationship being transactional.

At that moment, Qing Jiu and Yu’er were keeping watch by her side. Standing at the head of the bed, Liu Xiu observed Tang Linzhi in her peaceful slumber, a stark contrast to her usual sharp-tongued, frosty demeanor when awake.

After watching for a while, Liu Xiu couldn’t help but recall the conversation between Yan Li and Qing Jiu during their previous visit to the Yanyu Pavilion. This person’s hatred towards courtesans had a reason behind it. Curiosity stirred within her, and she suddenly wanted to hear the story. So, she asked Qing Jiu, “You mentioned before that she has a reason for despising courtesans. What exactly happened to make her hold such prejudice against us?”

Raising an eyebrow and scrutinizing Liu Xiu’s expression with a smile, Qing Jiu asked, “Do you really want to know?”

Liu Xiu’s question was impulsive, asked on a whim, and Qing Jiu’s probing response made her feel somewhat embarrassed, almost prompting her to dismiss the inquiry with a ‘never mind’. But before she could voice her retreat, Qing Jiu had already begun, “You know that the Tang Sect recruits disciples who are completely severed from all familial ties, right?”

Liu Xiu nodded. As a century-old major sect of assassins, the Tang Sect had always been strict in recruiting disciples. They believed that assassins should be cold-hearted and emotionless, without any attachments in the world, so they mostly recruited orphaned children into the sect.

Liu Xiu’s curiosity grew, and she asked, “But what does this have to do with courtesans? Surely it can’t be that we courtesans…” Her words trailed off, the smile fading from her lips, leaving a shadow of solemnity.

Qing Jiu glanced at her and said, “Her mother was a courtesan and had no relatives, only her mother as her sole family. Later on…”

Leaning her cheek on her hand, Qing Jiu continued in a detached tone, “Her mother caught the eye of a wealthy patron who redeemed her to be his concubine, but it was inconvenient to bring along a child.”

Liu Xiu fell silent. Although the Yanyu Pavilion was a place where they sold their art and not their bodies, it was still a place of sensual pleasures. She had heard and seen countless stories from within the courtesan world. With Qing Jiu’s opening, she could more or less understand. Stories like Tang Linzhi’s were not uncommon in the brothels.

There were many women who abandoned their children for the sake of pursuing wealth and status. Even if their circumstances left them little choice, why bring a child into the world in the first place…

A weight seemed to press upon Liu Xiu’s heart, deepening her discomfort.

Qing Jiu said, “Her mother left her outside the city walls, abandoning her was all too easy.”

At this point, there was no mockery or pity in Qing Jiu’s expression. With a slight smile on her face, as if she were recounting an embarrassing incident of an old friend, she said, “You probably don’t know this. She has no sense of direction. After walking for ten or five li, she can’t find her way back. Her absence from the Tang Sect’s ranks isn’t a reflection of inadequate skill, nor is it tied to her relation to the esteemed Marquis Qing. Her failure to make the list stems solely from her inability to complete missions independently; she simply cannot recognize the path.”

Translation notes:
Willow-leaf Saber – A Chinese Saber.

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21 days ago

😭 broski was so abandoned she couldn’t find her way back 🙁