Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Raindrops pelted the ground, sending splashes two feet into the air.
Butcher's knife in hand, Nie Changqing stared ahead with bloodshot eyes. The rain slithered along his face like earthworms until they dripped off his jaw.
He looked angry and unwilling to accept what was coming. He was seething with fury.
What he'd known would come sooner or later had finally happened. It had been five years. He couldn't hide from this after all.
Blinding silver blades flashed through the grey, covering the sound of the rain as if the raindrops had all been cut in half.
He heard the rapid thumps of footsteps.
Nie Changqing growled as he swung his butcher's knife in a semicircle.
The Qi and blood of the two assassins were so strong that the raindrops around them exploded out under the force.
Their silver blades met the butcher's knife.
The three of them fought and moved across the little alley, splashing through the puddles of water. A mixture of rain and blood reddened the ground before being washed away.
A deep, bone-exposing gash soon ran from Nie Changqing's shoulder to his lower abdomen, and blood flowed out over his clothes.
At the same time, however, the torso of one of the assassins slid off at the waist and hit the ground with a thump. Dead. Blood splattered around the two pieces of the corpse. The other assassin turned around and attempted another attack at Nie Changqing.
Nie Changqing's knife-holding hand started shaking.
Nie Shuang hadn't completely followed his father's order. He had turned around after several steps, only to see his father kill a man with the butcher's knife.
It turned out that the butcher's knife didn't just kill pigs. It could kill people too.
Nie Changqing's simple clothes were soaked in blood.
Young Nie Shuang was shaken in a way he had never been.
After all, he was still a child. Petrified in the rain, Nie Shuang cried and wailed himself hoarse in fear and worry.
Nie Changqing couldn't let himself be distracted.
If the assassins didn't die, he and Nie Shuang would.
The butcher's knife spun around his hand in a crazy, fierce, and seemingly random way. Yet it also appeared to be following its own rules.
The one remaining assassin had to keep backing up under the attacks of Nie Changqing's knife.
At the end of the little alley, the man who hadn't attacked made his move.
He stepped forward and took out a wooden flute. He started playing, and the music somehow obscured the heavy rain, filling the whole alley.
Nie Changqing's butcher's knife slid through the assassin he had been fighting. Blood gushed everywhere.
Staggering, knife in hand, Nie Changqing stared at the man who was slowly walking forward. The rain kept falling along his face and dripping off his chin. His eyes were full of reluctance to accept what was coming for him.
"If you hear 'Song of the Waves,' the man before you is Daoist Number Nine, Han Lianxiao," Nie Changqing said as he gazed at the man through the filter of the rain.
The rain showed no sign of stopping.
Wearing a straw cape and hat as he played the wooden flute, Han Lianxiao walked quite slowly.
But before Nie Changqing knew it, the man was already in front of him.
The song ended.
Under the rain hat, there was a handsome face with well-kept sideburns.
"Daoist Number Ten, Unparalleled Knife... You've still got it! Even with the tendons in your hand permanently damaged, you still managed to kill two First-Tier martial arts practitioners! Junior Brother Nie, I have to say that as your Senior Brother, I am impressed!"
Han Lianxiao raised his wooden flute and pressed it against Nie Changqing's knife. An overwhelming flow of power forced Nie Changqing to press his knife against his own chest.
The words coming from Han Lianxiao's mouth sounded smooth and gentle, as if he were complimenting Nie Changqing. Yet he didn't miss the rich sarcasm in Han Lianxiao's tone.
"If the tendons in my hand were still intact, I could kill you with a single swing of my knife." Nie Changqing coughed up blood as he smiled bitterly at Han Lianxiao. His blood dripped along the wooden flute.
Han Lianxiao eyed the blood on his flute and furrowed his brows. "Bring Shuang'er and come with me. As long as you admit to His Excellency that you made a mistake, your life may be spared."
"Five years. I have the same answer for you... I didn't do anything wrong!" The blue veins in Nie Changqing's neck bulged.
"Then I have no choice but to take your corpse back and call it 'mission accomplished.'" Han Lianxiao let out a sigh.
A moment later, waves of Qi and blood surged through his whole body as five loud, clear Internal Blasting Resonances sounded.
The wooden flute pressed against the butcher's knife with incredible power.
Nie Changqing thought his soul was going to be broken into pieces.
More blood dripped over his lips.
His whole body was thrown backward. He touched down about five yards away in the rain on one knee, but his body was still sliding backward. He had to thrust his knife deeply into the black bricks under his feet, which made an awful grating sound as he finally slowed to a stop.
Nie Changqing staggered to his feet once again.
He wiped the mixture of rain and blood off his face, his butcher's knife tightly clenched in his hand.
The rain hat on Nie Shuang's head was crooked. Standing in the rain all by himself, he looked particularly lonely.
The downpour from the sky washed over his tiny body. He shook as he cried himself hoarse.
Han Lianxiao's handsome face was emotionless under his rain hat. He raised the wooden flute and lightly tossed it into the air.
In the next instant, he quickly slapped it.
The flute started swirling rapidly, splashing and stirring the rain around it as if it were a dragon made of water.
Numerous sharp silver blades came out of the flute.
The whole thing was soaring at Nie Changqing in a storm of deadly metal.
Since the tendons in Nie Changqing's hand had been destroyed, he was no longer at the Grandmaster level.
There was no way he could counter the attack.
Then, Han Lianxiao raised an eyebrow in surprise.
Just as the grinder-like flute was about to kill Nie Changqing, a sword with a blade as thin as a cicada's wing flew out of nowhere. It looked almost transparent in the rain.
Slashing through the rain, the sword made a clear sound.
The sword hit the wooden flute, knocking it backward.
The blades retreated as Han Lianxiao took the flute back in his hand.
Next to Nie Changqing, a beautiful woman in a long silk dress appeared. In one hand, she held an oil-paper umbrella, and in the other, she held the Cicada Wing Sword.
"Trying to murder a person in Beiluo City? And someone I've asked to join my service, at that? Well, well, well… You are completely ignoring me! I'm the Young Master of Beiluo City."
The voice had a casual, even drowsy tone to it.
The sound of wooden wheels rolled down the alley.
Han Lianxiao frowned and glanced forward.
In the rainy alley, a young man in a wheelchair with rosy lips and bright-white teeth was moving toward him. One maid stood on each side of him, each holding an oil-paper umbrella. Despite the rain, they looked as if they were merely out for a walk.
The wheelchair stopped next to Nie Shuang, who was crying and wailing.
Lu Fan turned to Nie Shuang, the corners of his lips slightly raised.
"Hey, little buddy. Are you happy to see me, your big brother?" Lu Fan asked the boy.
Nie Shuang's eyes were red and swollen. Still sobbing, he looked quite confused and lost.
Still, he responded to Lu Fan's question in a small, childlike voice that was still quavering. "Y-yeah! I'm happy to see you."
Lu Fan pleasantly raised his brows. "How happy?"
Nie Shuang seemed unsure how to respond.
Lu Fan smiled. "I'm here to save your father. Are you happy?"
Nie Shuang realized what was going on and suddenly knelt in front of Lu Fan. He started bowing, ignoring the wet, hard ground. The straw rain hat toppled off his head, unnoticed.
"Please, Young Master, save my father!" Nie Shuang's hoarse voice still sounded tearful.
Lu Fan nodded slightly from the wheelchair.
He shifted his gaze to Han Lianxiao in the distance.
"You heard him. I promised this little guy. So, would you let his father go for my sake?" Lu Fan gave the man a faint smile.
Holding his wooden flute in one hand, Han Lianxiao raised his other hand to stroke one of his sideburns. He glanced over Lu Fan out of the corner of his eye and raised one side of his mouth slightly in contempt.
"So you are the Young Master of Beiluo City." His voice was gentle and soft.
Lu Fan smiled, and Han Lianxiao returned the favor. Gazing serenely at each other, they looked like two friends who'd known each other for years.
Han Lianxiao's low, pleasant voice echoed in the alley.
He sounded as if he were greeting an old friend.
"If your father, Lu Changkong, were here, I might consider doing so for his sake."
"As for you, Young Master Lu, you just aren't worth the favor."
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