Joy of Life - Chapter 695 - Name Of The Temple, Shadow Of The Person

[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:50:45]
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Chapter 695: Name Of The Temple, Shadow Of The Person

Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio

“For the sake of all lives under heaven, please, rest your anger.”

Hearing these words in the rain, Fan Xian could not help but laugh. His laugh was not exaggerated. The lips on the half of his delicate and pretty face showing from under the hat curved slightly at the corners, carrying a sliver of disdain and absurdity. This was the most honest reaction from the depths of his heart. Even he had probably not thought that he would meet these Ascetic Monks when he entered the temple in the rain and that the air around these Ascetic Monks would be so strange.

What was the Temple? Not many people in the world knew. The only person who had some understanding of that illusory existence was Fan Xian, who had accompanied Xiao En as he died. Throughout the days of his reborn life, he had thought about this question more than once. He never had anything solid to show. Fan Xian knew many Priests, Ascetic Monks, and monks who served the Temple. Among them, the most famous was the Imperial Advisor of Northern Qi, the wielder of Tianyi Dao, Master Ku He. Even Master Ku He never thought that he received orders from the will of the Temple to pity the toil of the living and enact punishment on behalf of heaven.

Yet, the Ascetic Monks in front of him in the rain said such things seriously and firmly. Fan Xian could not help but laugh coldly.

“Why must it be me who rests my anger and not the other person?” Fan Xian asked calmly, looking at the Ascetic Monks around him as he slowly restrained the smile on his face. “If there really is a god, presumably all life is equal in their eyes. Since it is so, why are you targeting me? Unless the Ascetic Monks who serve the temple are also nothing more than bullying cowards?”

It was clear these mocking words had no effect on the Ascetic Monks. They remained calmly kneeling around Fan Xian. They looked like they were worshipping him, but the pure aura that had coalesced into one being had already rooted Fan Xian firmly to the ground.

“It is not difficult to have me enter the Palace and ask for forgiveness. However, I need an explanation. Why am I the criminal?” Fan Xian slowly pulled down the rain hat connected to the collar of his clothes, allowing the fine raindrops to slowly roll down his smooth black hair. Intently, he said, “Initially, I did not know that you nobodies were such fanatics. I can also understand the things you have not said. It is nothing more than for the sake of uniting the world, eliminating the decades of unease and warfare, and to allow the common people to create peaceful and happy lives. But, I don’t understand. What made you decide that that man will be able to perfectly fulfill your expectations and carry out of the will of the Temple?”

Fan Xian turned his body slightly. He that the heavy aura around him was like a living thing. It changed with him and flowed smoothly without a glimmer of stagnation. It did not reveal any flaws that could be exploited. His brows twitched. He had truly not thought that these Ascetic Monks would be able to meld their individual strengths together to form such an incredible power.

Perhaps this was the reason the Emperor had summoned back to Jingdou these outwardly wooden but inwardly fanatic Ascetic Monks.

From the moment he took his first step into the Qing Temple, if Fan Xian wanted to escape the trap of these Ascetic Monks, he should have reacted in the first instant. However, he had already missed his opportunity and had sunk into the trap. Perhaps this was because he had underestimated the power of the Ascetic Monks. More so, it was because he wanted to talk with the Ascetic Monks and learn from this conversation some things he really wanted to know. For example, why the Ascetic Monks of the Qing Temple supported the Qing Emperor so wholeheartedly, completely disregarding the pressure the court and Royal Palace had put on them these years? As well as, what exactly was the relationship between the Emperor and that illusory Temple?

In the rain, the dozen Ascetic Monks changed from kneeling to sitting cross-legged. They still kept the standing Fan Xian in the center. Their expressions were wooden and seemed to have long escaped the bounds of external matter. There was a long silence. Perhaps these Ascetic Monks still hoped that Fan Xian would be persuaded by them and would not watch as the almost unified territories of the Qing Kingdom sank into instability. A voice began to ring out in front of Fan Xian.

An Ascetic Monk had his hands pressed together. Raindrops hung from his weak lashes. Faintly, he said, “The Emperor is the person who has received the apocalypse. We help the Emperor unite the world to create fortune for the people.”

“Apocalypse? When?” Fan Xian asked with his hands behind his back. His expression did not change as he stared at the Ascetic Monks old face. He could easily see that the ages of these Ascetic Monks were all quite advanced.

“Many decades ago.” A voice rang out to his right and left. The answer was very blurry. Fan Xian’s eyes narrowed slightly and began to think quickly.

“Has an emissary imparted to you the will of the Temple?” Fan Xian asked.

“Yes.” The reply came from another Ascetic Monk. His answer was clean and efficient, without debris. However, the answer made Fan Xian narrow his eyes even further.

Emissaries from the Temple coming to scout the earth was one of the greatest secrets of the world. If he had not grown up at Uncle Wu Zhu’s side and learned so many secrets from Xiao En and Chen Pingping, he would not ask such things. Yet, these Ascetic Monks were not surprised at all hearing Fan Xian use the word emissaries. It was as they expected Fan Xian to know some of the secrets of the Temple. This, ironically, surprised Fan Xian.

“But, the High Priest, San Shi, and your peers on Dong Mountain have all died,” Fan Xian continued calmly. Even the autumn rain could not hide the poison and mockery in his voice.

“Who is there that won’t die?”

“Then, why didn’t you all die?” Fan Xian asked

“The Emperor still needs us.”

“It sounds like you are very much like the girls in my brothel,” Fan Xian said.

The atmosphere in the rain in the Qing Temple was wondrous. Fan Xian continued to ask questions calmly. The Ascetic Monks sitting around him each answered his questions. They replied woodenly and methodically. They spoke in order. The 16 people present answered like one person.

Fan Xian’s heart gradually sank. Looking at these strange Ascetic Monk’s long years of hard training, their mutual connection had reached a powerful realm. What chilled him even more was the information about the Temple emissaries.

The most recent time a Temple emissary had come to the mortal world was during the fifth year of the Qing calendar. This emissary had come onshore from the south. All along the way, he had learned the cultures and habits of human society indifferently like a wild beast. In the process of acclimating, many people died to the hands of this emissary in the southern provinces and regions of the Qing Kingdom. Perhaps it was a habitual indifference to life. Or, perhaps this emissary wanted to hide the news of his existence. All in all, the 13 city gate guards of the time paid a great price and were unable to even touch the corner of the emissary’s robe.

At the time, the Qing court only saw him as an extremely powerful martial artist and did not know his true identity. Thus, there was the later scenario of the Ministry of Justice asking the Overwatch Council for help, Yan Bingyun took it seriously and aske Fan Xian to borrow the Tiger Guards.

However, the Overwatch Council hadn’t had time to react before the emissary arrived in Jingdou to the little alley beside the Fan manor and was stopped by Wu Zhu outside a noodle shop.

After a plain-clothed Grandmaster fight, the Temple emissary died. Wu Zhu had been heavily injured. He disappeared and recovered on Dong Mountain for a number of years. The bones of the emissary were cremated in the Qing Temple.

Fan Xian’s gaze pierced through the curtain of rain toward the wild plain behind the Qing Temple. His gaze was cold. He thought of the day the Emperor and High Priest looked at the emissary in the flames. For a moment, he didn’t know what to say.

In the past, the Great Priest of the Qing Temple preached in the marshes and wild territories in the south and just happened to return to the capital not long before the Temple emissary did. Not long after, the emissary melted in the flames. He had died of a serious illness.

Was it a coincidence? Of course not. At least, Fan Xian did not believe that. The matter of Uncle Wu Zhu getting injured and arrival of the Temple emissary were both things he only knew later. After a lot of time, he only managed to discover this much. It at least proved that the Emperor must have formed some kind of agreement with the Temple emissary through the High Priest of the Qing Temple.

During the fifth year of the Qing calendar, the Emperor had hoped to use his illegitimate child as bait to lure the Temple emissary and Uncle Wu Zhu to kill each other off. However, he did not achieve his goal. In order to hide this so that Fan Xian would not know, the High Priest had to die.

Fan Xian drew back his gaze and looked at the Ascetic Monks in front of him. He thought of the so-called apocalypse, the so-called will of the Temple imparted by the emissary. That emissary was presumably the one who had come to the Qing Kingdom 22 years ago.

Looking at it now, that emissary not only lured Uncle Wu Zhu away from Jingdou, he had also represented the illusory Temple and formed some kind of agreement with the Emperor.

The Emperor cooperating with the Temple? Fan Xian furrowed his brows. The first cooperation had killed Ye Qingmei. The second cooperation had almost killed Uncle Wu Zhu. Everything was actually clear now. The only thing that didn’t make sense was why did the Temple, which supposedly did not interfere in mortal affairs, make such decisions in the mortal world?

The Ascetic Monks surrounding Fan Xian in the Qing Temple were all old. Twenty years ago, they had already obtained the will of the Temple. In their joy, they loyally invested themselves into service for the Qing Emperor’s ambitions. During these 20 years, they walked among the people, preaching what should be kindness as enlightenment. They lived harsh but peaceful lives. At the same time, they were acting as secret agents for the Emperor.

Presently, Dongyi had surrendered, internal unrest had been quelled, and Chen Pingping was dead. Everything was going smoothly. The people were peaceful. The nation was wealthy, and its army was strong. The power of the Qing Kingdom had reached its peak. Other than Fan Xian, there didn’t seem to be anything that could obstruct the Qing Emperor’s steps in unifying the world. These Ascetic Monks had returned to Jingdou, preparing to welcome that dazzling moment.

Thus, the Ascetic Monks wanted to persuade Fan Xian to forget his personal hatreds for this mighty ambition and personal sorrow for the world’s justice.

Fan Xian stood alone in the rain. Although the rain was misty, it gradually soaked through his clothing. Very openly, these Ascetic Monks spoke to him of their actions these 20 years. They explained the secrets behind the history of the Qing Kingdom because they truly and sincerely wanted to persuade him. They wanted to use the will of the Temple, allegiance of the people, and direction of the big picture to convince Fan Xian to not become an enemy of the Emperor because he was a wise ruler chosen by heaven and the master of the world.

“That’s all nonsense.” Fan Xian shook his head helplessly and wiped away the rain from his face. Looking at the sincerely begging Ascetic Monks around him, he said, “What does this have anything to do with me? I am just one of the Emperor’s officials. No, now I am just a commoner. I think no one under heaven thinks I can influence the direction of the world. Are you all forcing me to enter the Palace or will you escort me into the earth? Is this not an over-reaction?”

The Ascetic Monks looked at each other and saw the caution and determination in each other. They did not believe Fan Xian’s words. One of them gazed at Fan Xian and sincerely said, “Because you are her son.”

Fan Xian was silent. Finally, he understood where such a major battle formation in the Qing Temple had come from. If these Ascetic Monks served the Temple loyally and regarded the Emperor as a heaven chosen leader then, without a doubt, Ye Qingmei, a woman who had escaped the Temple and once stolen many things from it, was their greatest enemy. Perhaps these Ascetic Monks did not know anything or did not need to know anything. They only needed the Temple emissary from over 20 years ago to determine the nature of Ye Qingmei’s action. They would become deeply fearful of the woman who dared to despise the Temple.

Such fear continued to 20 years later to Fan Xian.

“If you kill me, what would the Emperor think?” Fan Xian asked with a smile. “I’m sure he wouldn’t want to see his son die to you mystics. I am very worried about you all.”

All of the Ascetic Monks eulogized in unison. A determined expression showed on their faces. No one replied, but their meaning was clear. For the sake of the goal they pursued, even if the Emperor killed them all afterward, they would keep Fan Xian here forever.

“I have heard everything I wanted to hear,” Fan Xian said with slight mockery as the corners of his mouth twitched up slightly. “Presumably, if I agree to enter the Palace, you would not feel reassured and would place some kind of restriction on my body. Of course, I could lie and first agree. At least, it would save my life.

“However, you misjudged one thing,” Fan Xian said coldly as he looked at them. “I believe in the existence of the Temple even more than you do. It is precisely because of this that I am not terrified at the mere mention of its name and kneel like you in the rain.”

An Ascetic Monk sighed deeply and said with great pity, “Living between heaven and earth, there always needs to be fear and respect.”

“The Emperor once said those words to me.” Fan Xian lowered his head slightly and thought that it was clear the Emperor had no fear and respect toward anything. The Temple? The emissary? These illusory and terrifying existences for mortal people were probably, in the Emperor’s eyes, nothing more than a kind of power to be used.

“One should respect the heaven and the earth, but one cannot respect the will of the person beside them,” Fan Xian said. “When it comes to this, you should all learn from Master Ku He.”

The Ascetic Monks all paused slightly, not certain what this meant. However, they saw the encircled Fan Xian began to float.

Fan Xian floated up in the fine autumn rain. The clothing on his body was slowly held up by zhenqi, like a large and heartless bird. With a swoosh, he swept toward the outside of the Qing Temple.

Without any sign, it was as if Fan Xian’s body was being pulled by a long and shapeless rope. He moved with astonishing speed toward the doors of the Qing Temple. His speed through the air was incredible. His bodily movements were particularly gentle. He swiftly rolled and floated away through the wind and rain.

His body had only traveled about 50 feet when he felt a thick wall of air coming toward him. At the moment Fan Xian took action, a dozen Ascetic Monks also moved. An Ascetic Monk stepped onto another’s shoulders. With a muffled grunt, he threw out the person next to him. Six or seven continuous movements were demonstrated smoothly. It was as if their minds were long connected. These movements were not jerky or hesitant.

The formation of these Ascetic Monks was an irregular circle. With a mutual push, seven people moved quickly toward the front doors of the Qing Temple. In the air, their hands remained joined together, pulling along the Ascetic Monks below them at the same time like a wave.

In an instant, the Ascetic Monks irregular circle became a whole entity, turning in the air through the fine rain. Rising in the air, they used a wave-like motion and forcefully overtook the quickly flying Fan Xian and surrounded him again.

When a circle flipped in the air and landed once again on the ground, it was still a circle. Fan Xian was still inside it. In a flash, the rain continued to fall as before. The situation essentially did not change at all except for the fact that everyone had moved about 50 feet toward the front doors of the Qing Temple. However, the Ascetic Monks did not give Fan Xian any further changes to create trouble. Eulogizing in unison, countless palms containing rich zhenqi and firm power slammed toward Fan Xian’s body.

Fan Xian didn’t know what mind of secret technique the Ascetic Monks practiced to truly be able to link their minds together and perfectly meld the powers of their bodies together. The attack of these countless hands was like a god emanating a powerful light. In an instant, countless god-like hands indifferently and heartlessly appeared and attempted to destroy the demon in front of them.

All the space around Fan Xian was covered by the sky covering and rain-blocking palms. It fell like a large net. It was impossible to see gaps. This was the so-called beauty of complete integration, extremely beautiful and dangerous.

As the wave of air came toward him, Fan Xian forcefully twisted his body in mid-air and absorbed all the flow in the air that each inch of skin could feel. The two circulations were forced into action. His body was forced to the ground. However, the tip of his feet had just touched the wet ground when Tyrannical zhenqi gathered in his palm. He punched toward the thickest part of the air wall.

In the instant he was re-subdued by the melding power, Fan Xian became aware of the danger. When he had charged into the Jingdou execution field eight days ago, he had already killed one Ascetic Monk and forced another back through intimidation. At the time, he had suffered the price of three palms to his body. It was clear that on that day in the execution field, the Ascetic Monks had not demonstrated their strongest power.

Fan Xian knew the Ascetic Monks were so powerful because they could perfectly meld their individual strengths into a whole entity. This was not a group beating. It wasn’t even like the incredible cooperation of the Sword Hut disciples. On the contrary, it was a bit like the killing light formed between the Tiger Guards’ long knives.

When these Ascetic Monks combined their strengths, no matter which Ascetic Monk Fan Xian faced, it would be the same as facing their entirety.

In Fan Xian’s eyes, the shapeless air wall in front of him was as clear as a white wall of fog of uneven thickness. He didn’t even think about the consequences. He just pulled together all of the true essence in his body and struck out with the power of the Tyrannical zhenqi. The place he had struck was the thickest part of the wall.

Fan Xian completely ignored the shadowy palms dancing in the air. He only knew that with his current strength, the other party would have to coalesce in one place to meet his strike to be able to oppose it. This was probably a rare strength that powerful martial artists cultivated after a great deal of experience.

As expected, when Fan Xian threw a powerful attack toward the wall of air, the palm prints in the air all disappeared. The shadow of one palm and shadow of another quickly fused together. A dozen palms finally fused into one sparkling and shiny palm print. This palm crashed ruthlessly into Fan Xian’s tightly clenched fist.

The air in the Qing Temple seemed to change following this crash. The fine droplets of autumn rain were sent flying outward on a large patch of paving stones, It became so that not a drop of rain could fall. The air was filled with the dry taste of killing.

After a giant boom, the clothing on Fan Xian’s right arm neatly shredded and flew away like butterflies, revealing a trembling right arm.

The face of the Ascetic Monk right across from him was unusually red and bright. A hand lay on each of his shoulders as a dozen Ascetic Monks endlessly poured zhenqi into his body through this qi bridge, helping him resist Fan Xian’s very powerful attack.

Fan Xian’s face was pale. The zhenqi in his body exploded out ruthlessly, but he still could not break through his opponent’s encirclement. The zhenqi coming from his opponent’s hand flowed endlessly like waves on an ocean. The power was intimidating and turbulent.

With a splutter, the Ascetic Monk facing Fan Xian’s attack vomited out a mouthful of fresh blood. It followed his clothes as it dripped down. The Ascetic Monk’s face became redder and brighter. There was no sign of exhaustion or an inability to shoulder the zhenqi in his body. He only wore a pitiful expression as he looked at Fan Xian. It was as if he was waiting for him to acknowledge defeat, disperse his attack, and surrender.

Ascetic Monks traveled to the harshest places in the world to cultivate. The physical and mental training had created an unusual cultivation.

Signs of defeat had appeared, but Fan Xian’s eyes remained icy cold. There wasn’t a hint of panic or a glimmer of desperation in his eyes. There was only calmness. He calmly looked at the Ascetic Monk close to him, staring into his bright eyes like he wanted to see something he was looking for in there.

Only Fan Xian knew that with just this exchange of a fist and a palm, the meridians in his body had already been shaken to a difficult-to-endure situation. His large and small circulations moved quickly, desperately funneling zhenqi through his fist. But, he could not sustain it much longer. Particularly near the back of his waist, it was already starting to grow hot, which was a sign of his qi being exhausted.

After all, it was an injured and exhausted body. Fan Xian’s biggest weakness was that he had only rested in the Fan manor for a few days. During those days, he had ruthlessly used his martial arts to kill people. His state of mind never had the time to calm, so he was far away from a full recovery.

Fortunately, his meridians were different from the common person. He was a strange creature who had one more circulation than common people. This was why he could use his exhausted body to sustain his attack before the combined powers of these Ascetic Monks for so long. If it had been Thirteenth Wang or Haitang, they probably wouldn’t be any better off.

Fan Xian still did not panic or lose hope. He just stared coldly into the Ascetic Monks black and bright eyes. Just as Fan Xian’s strength was about to fail, a wretched green color appeared in the eyes of the Ascetic Monk closest to Fan Xian and exchanging blows with him.

It was a wretched green color that was completely not in harmony with natural human eyes. Then, two streaks of black blood slowly dripped out of the Ascetic Monk’s nostrils.

The Ascetic Monks around Fan Xian did not notice. They just sat cross-legged around him with their heads lowered in meditation, endlessly mustering the tenacious zhenqi in their bodies.

A glimmer of understanding flashed through the wretched green eyes of the Ascetic Monk bleeding black blood. He glanced at Fan Xian, finally understanding why the young man in front of him had been willing to listen calmly to their requests earlier in the rain. It was because he was just using the rain to disperse his poison.

This Ascetic Monk finally remembered Fan Xian’s true teacher. He was that old poisoner’s last disciple.

The Ascetic Monk felt as if his internal organs were being bitten by ants. His throat began to hurt. The corners of his eyes began to grow numb. He knew that the poison in his body was beginning to take hold. If he stopped the attack now, he could use the zhenqi in his body to suppress this poison, but…

A colorless and tasteless poisonous powder that does not dissolve in water could not be too terrifying. This was a law of the natural world and a common piece of logic that all martial artists knew. The Ascetic Monk also knew this, so he was not worried about his brothers. The poison had activated faster in him because he was directly opposing Fan Xian. His brothers should be able to hold on for even longer.

The Ascetic Monk did not want Fan Xian to leave because he had discovered that Fan Xian could not keep going for much longer. A glimmer of joy and determination flashed through his green eyes. With a grunt, he completely abandoned the defenses of his mind and opened up all of his meridians, allowing the zhenqi to pour in turbulently from both sides and follow his arms to push toward Fan Xian’s naked right arm.

He could finish the job in a moment. He was willing to use his death to exchange for Fan Xian’s death and the future of the Qing Kingdom.

However, Fan Xian was not willing. A biting coldness flashed through his eyes. He knew that with the other person forcefully pushing the zhenqi, the poison had reached his heart. He could not be saved. However, Fan Xian directed his zhenqi to his feet and relaxed his right arm slightly. Using the power Coffin-Breaker technique, he was prepared to use his right arm to trade for his opponent’s death and then escape.

In the face of danger and death, Fan Xian had the willpower and courage to lose his arm to seek survival.

Other than Fan Xian, there were other people in this world who did not want to see Fan Xian die. In the rain, the heart-chilling circle had rolled in the air and was now closer to the front doors of the Qing Temple. It was this dangerous juncture when the two characters on the banner behind the doors of the Qing Temple suddenly dimmed for a moment.

It was not because the sunlight had dimmed or because the two little gold characters had suddenly rusted. Rather, it was because a shadow had swept by and blocked some of the light on the two characters.

The shadow traveled through the rain in an instant and came to a stop behind the Ascetic Monk facing Fan Xian without any obstructions. Behind the man’s neck, the shadow miraculously opened up, sprouting four limbs and a sword.

With a quiet sound, the tip of the sword pierced into the Ascetic Monk’s neck like a venomous snake, coming out through the soft bone of his throat. The sharp blade of the sword had already severed this Ascetic Monk’s windpipe, esophagus, and arteries.

A crack came from the Ascetic Monk, but he didn’t make any sound. He just stared fixedly at Fan Xian in front of him. The green in his eyes grew richer, but his pupils did not shrink. It was as if he was going to use his gaze to kill Fan Xian in front of him.

At the same time the shadow struck out with his sword, Fan Xian’s empty and weak left hand rose with difficulty. The tip of his finger moved slightly. A crossbow bolt broke through his sleeve and pierced deeply into the Ascetic Monks left eye, sending up a spray of blood.

The lifetime cultivations of a dozen Ascetic Monks were focused on the body of this Ascetic Monk, making him incredibly powerful. With these two ruthlessly killing strikes entering his body at the same time, he still paused.

With this pause, Fan Xian’s left arm twisted strangely. His shoulder trembled and swung as he executed the Coffin-Breaker technique again. Viciously, it slammed against the tail end of the crossbow bolt and hammered it deeply into the Ascetic Monk’s brain. The tip of the bolt entered deeply and severed his life. With a cry, rainwater splashed up as this Ascetic Monk, who had sacrificed himself for humanity, dejectedly lowered his palm.

Fan Xian changed his fist into an open palm and grazed it over his head. He floated up. His left hand twisted into the clothes of the shadow. He sliced through the rain as fast as he could, leaving the Qing Temple in an instant.

From the time the two little golden characters on the banner behind the front doors of the Qing Temple dimmed to when the Shadow attacked to when Fan Xian escaped the combined power and left the temple, only a blink of time had passed. The Shadow’s ruthless attack had not stopped, but Fan Xian did not allow this attack to enter again the boundaries of the combined power. He forcefully went against the flow and swept out with the Shadow in tow.

It was only now that the Ascetic Monks sitting cross-legged in the rain discovered that the situation had changed. The palms of the Ascetic Monks in the center of the combined power drooped. They were unable to continue channeling forward. They still passively accepted the power being poured into them by their brothers. Their bodies trembled in the rain.

After being stabbed through the neck by the Shadow, pierced through the brain by Fan Xian’s crossbow bolt, and poisoned, this Ascetic Monk was, without a doubt, dead. He could not be more dead.

The rain had grown heavy and chaotic, striking randomly against the bodies of these Ascetic Monks. They silently looked at their colleague’s body and bowed silently. They then quickly escaped the Qing Temple, chasing in the direction of the two shadows who had almost disappeared into the streets in the distance.

Who knows if they would reflect a little? If the will of the Temple was really the Will of Heaven, then why were they unable to kill Fan Xian even though they had put in such effort and had even been willing to sacrifice themselves for humanity?

In the autumn rain, Fan Xian and the Shadow were like two gray shadows. Through the rains, under the eaves, in the darkening day, they moved quickly through the lonely streets. Not long after they left the Qing Temple, Fan Xian could feel the clear aura already catching up to them from behind.

The Jingdou’s Qing Temple was 3 li out. Usually, it was a quiet place. There weren’t even many pedestrians who passed by. There were no private residences that could be used. Since it was a rainy day, there were even fewer people taking shelter from the rain on the streets. This brought great inconveniences to the escaping Fan Xian and Shadow.

Fan Xian’s pale face was covered in rain. He turned his head and glanced at the middle-aged man beside him but did not see any expression on his face. Fan Xian knew that he had, in the end, underestimate the fanatics who were willing to die for a just cause. He had also underestimated the mystic strength that had continued in this land for a thousand years.

In the past, perhaps Master Ku He and the Northern Qi’s Tianyi Dao had stolen all their glory. Perhaps the Ascetic Monks of the Qing Temple were not particularly remarkable and only liked to preach in isolated places. Or, perhaps the High Priest and Second Priest of the Qing Temple did not give one a sense of being powerful. Thus, Fan Xian had never given much consideration to the Qing Temple.

However, they had now proved to be a very powerful enemy. Fan Xian even began to suspect that the knife formation the Tiger Guards practiced to defeat powerful martial artists of the ninth-level may come from the Qing Temple’s wondrous combined attack.

If Fan Xian was in peak condition, he would not be so wretched. Particularly when it came to escaping, he and the Shadow, the foremost assassin in the world, would think nothing of the Ascetic Monks giving chase behind them. If things were as normal, perhaps he and the Shadow would cover their tracks and turn around to carry out a terrifying ambush on the stubborn Ascetic Monks.

However, they could not do so now. That thousand-li charge, the sorrow in his heart, the drain on his strength, and heavy injuries he sustained at Zhengyang Gate and on the execution field had made it so Fan Xian’s condition was as bad as it could be. Particularly after he had resisted the combined power of the Ascetic Monks earlier, he no longer had the strength to fight.

By his side, the Shadow’s expression was cold. Everything seemed normal. After many years of cooperation and closeness, Fan Xian could clearly see that the injuries on the Shadow’s body were serious, perhaps even more so than his. Fan Xian knew why this was. The Shadow had only been injured once, but that injury was from Sigu Jian.

Fan Xian could clearly guess what reaction the Shadow had to learning about Chen Pingping’s death. He had been in Dongyi, yet he had returned to Jingdou at almost the same time as Wang Qinian. The return speed of this top assassin was even faster than Wang Qinian’s. It might have been even faster than Fan Xian’s.

With such traveling, the Shadow’s injury had presumably grown worse. Fan Xian turned his head to glance at the Shadow but did not say anything.

“Split up ahead,” the Shadow said in a raspy voice with a strange tone. It looked like this assassin also knew that their situation could not be worse. They had to separate to draw away the pursuit.

Fan Xian nodded. He knew if they separated now, they would meet again soon. At the intersection, the Shadow swooped into a small alley. Perhaps in a moment, he would become a wretched merchant hiding from the rain under the leaves.

Before he left, he said something that made Fan Xian’s heart sink and his mouth grow bitter.

“Whenever you are going to kill him, call for me.”

Because of the blow these words had on his state of mind, it made Fan Xian run a bit further than he had planned. The Ascetic Monks behind him slowly reduced the distance between them. Fan Xian was not worried. He went through a small alley and came to the intersection of Dongchuan Road. He went in through the front entrance of Danbo Bookstore. When he came out the back, he had become an umbrella-holding scholar.

He came to the gates of the Imperial College and saw the hundreds and thousands of umbrellas, as well as the clean and bright faces of the students of the Imperial College beneath them.