Thursday, 28 January 2016

Chapter 112 - Assassination


Ghost Li looked over from where he was hiding in dark, he saw an elderly, his face was thin and bony, wearing a long grey robe, simple and plain, his features and gestures did not look different from the others, if he was to appear in the streets, most probably nobody could tell that this person was a cultivated Taoist priest.

But the expressions on the two people following behind him, leaving YanHong aside, Li Xun who had always been arrogant, seemed to be extremely respectful to this ordinary-looking elderly, his expressions and gestures showed his constant attentiveness.

Right now after they had heard the elderly’s question, Li Xun hesitated for a moment and then said, “Teacher uncle is astute, actually it was because the human fish barbaric tribe leader died of unnatural causes and so those monsters flew up in a rage, this then…”

By then, the three of them had walked down from the Inferno Altar, the grey-clothed elderly frowned and indifferently said, “How did the human fish tribe leader die?”

Li Xun forced a smile, shook his head. YanHong who was beside said, “Reporting to teacher uncle,  three days ago that human fish tribe leader after meeting LuShun teacher uncle at ‘Nameless ancient temple’ at northern HeGu Hill, was suddenly assassinated by a highly skilled martial artist less than one mile from the temple.”

The grey-clothed elderly, made a [yi] sound, showing his surprise and said, “Who is the murderer?”

Li Xun shook his head, said, “We have investigated for several days but did not find any clues.” He seemed to hesitate and then continued to say, “We should have reported this matter to teacher uncle earlier but valley master deliberated over the fact that teacher uncle has been guarding the important place, Inferno Altar, for nearly a hundred years and has long since take no concern in the mundane affairs, therefore did not wish to disturb teacher uncle.”

The grey-clothed elderly laughed and said, “How would I not know the good intentions of Valley Master. I guess if not for the fact that the barbaric tribe still has its uses and old man me still have some degrees of influence left when old man me had subdued them at that time, if not valley master will not wish to bother this old man already.”

Li Xun smiled and was about to say something but that elderly seemed not willing to continue on the topic and said, “Was LuShun at the scene at that time? If its just within one mile, don’t tell me he could not find the killer? Even if he had to dig for three feet, he would have find it long ago.”

Li Xun heard it and could not help but glance at YanHong. YanHong hesitated and then softly said, “Guessed that killer was really too cunning and his skills was too high, after achieving his aim with one strike, he immediately fled, therefore even LuShun teacher uncle was unable to catch this person.”

That elderly humphed and did not speak anymore but in his expression and tone, a feeling of disdain was felt and evidently, he did not think very well of that LuShun mentioned by YanHong and Li Xun.

The three of them continued to converse while walking and had already crossed almost half of the three zhangs of empty ground, going further and further away from Ghost Li. Ghost Li slowly let down his guard but his body was still uptight, he heard that elderly asked a question from afar but because of their distance, he could not hear it clearly but indistinctly he heard that elderly asked about the current human fish creatures’ situation.

Li Xun acknowledged behind him, said, “The situation is now under control, LuShun teacher uncle brought a group of disciples to trap those human fishes at the valley entrance and using his powerful abilities, crushed those human fishes’ arrogance, now both parties are facing each other. Those human fishes keep saying they want to seek revenge for their tribe leader, valley master is not willing to break off all ties totally and so sent us to invite teacher uncle…”

Suddenly, a sharp cry was heard from the direction of the valley entrance, reverberating far to where they were, the sound was extremely mournful. Everyone was shocked and Li Xun said, “It seems to be coming from the valley entrance!”

Before they could react, the sounds of fights started again, roars and cries were incessantly heard, the valley which had just became peaceful, once again was enveloped by the hubbub.

Their expressions changed, the grey-clothed elderly snorted, flung his sleeve and in an instant, transformed into a stream of grey light and charged up into the sky, swiftly flying towards the valley entrance, Li Xun and YanHong too urgently followed.

Until their figures disappeared totally into the night sky, Ghost Li then slowly walked out, thought for a while and then turned and looked at the Inferno Altar.

The enormous architecture towered over him, even the white jade stone pillar beside him also looked to be so tall and majestic in the night, not to say that crimson temple building above it.

Not far ahead, was the staircase from where that elderly, Li Xun and YanHong walked down from. Ghost Li looked towards that staircase, all of it was also built from the same strange crimson stone material, blended into one with the surrounding railings and slabstones.

Slowly stepping forward, Ghost Li walked up, the temperature seemed to increase much more and he felt like he was stepping onto burning fire instead of the crimson stones.

The staircase stretched up with thirty-six steps, after making a turn, continued to extend upwards. Ghost Li inhaled deeply, his face calmed and slowly walked up. The surrounding railings and slabstone walls were smooth and plain, without any decorations, seemed especially quaint.

Even the night breeze which blew over now seemed extremely hot, Xiao Hui crouching on Ghost Li’s shoulder, curiously watched its surroundings.

Finally, after climbing a total of three sections of one hundred and eight stairs, Ghost Li reached the Inferno Altar.

Although he had saw this place while standing below the Inferno Altar but now that he was on it, standing before the lofty building situated in the middle of the Inferno Altar, looking at the immense building which was a hundred times taller than himself, watching that spire tip like a sharp sword piercing the firmament, Ghost Li could not help but feel insignificantly small.

The same crimson stone material, cut into enormous stone blocks of almost the same size, each almost as tall as half a person’s height, stacked together to form the majestic building. Walking near it, in that scorching heat, Ghost Li clearly saw those stone blocks were stacked so closely together that as if even a knife would not be able to stab in between the gaps. It was really unimaginable that how FenXiang Valley forefathers created such a work of ghost and gods at that time.

And he almost had an illusion, that in front of him was not a building but a ball of burning, raging enormous fire. And this fire was so huge that it almost looked like it was going to fall immediately and swallow the small insignificant him.

Ghost Li inhaled deeply, calmed himself and suppressed his feeling of shock and admiration, he then turned and carefully checked out the path to this Inferno Altar building. Without any effort he found it

The entire altar-built-like-pagoda did not have a single window, surrounded tightly by the huge crimson stones, only the lowest level, a one zhang tall, six chi wide door stood near him.

Ghost Li walked over and very quickly discovered that even though this door was painted red but was still different from the surrounding stone walls, it was a wooden door. Guessed it should be, if even the door for access was also a heavy stone door then it would be very troublesome!

Ghost Li stood before the door for a while and did not immediately push open it, he turned and glanced back.

The entire Inferno Altar, other than the blistering heat, was silent.

[Zhi ya!]

The next moment, he had pushed opened the door.

At FenXiang Valley entrance, right now it had turned into a river of red, over a hundred tall and sturdy human fishes were [wa wa] crying out loudly, extremely incensed, wielding various kinds of strange weapons, there were spears, knives, swords and halberd, fought incessantly with the FenXiang Valley disciples surrounding them. Blood flowed continuously down onto the ground, severed limbs remains were seen everywhere, quite a number of the casualties were FenXiang Valley disciples but more were the human fishes.

As for those severed limbs, most likely those were chopped off by those savage-natured human fishes.

But even though the scene was shocking and the human fishes were extremely fierce but FenXiang Valley side was gradually suppressing the human fishes, several higher skilled disciples formed a semicircle formation and attacked in.

However, those human fishes were really savage and their bodies were very much different from the humans, even if a cultivated Taoist fellow fighter received a sword slash from the FenXiang Valley disciples, they would also be hurt but those human fishes for some reasons, their bodies were extremely resilient and including the fact that FenXiang Valley disciples seemed to have receive some commands and allowed some leeway. Other than a few highly skilled disciples’ magical weapons, when the other disciples’ magical weapons hit onto their bodies, the human fishes were at most only thrown out and rarely blood was seen.

But first, FenXiang Valley disciples had been training for many years and their skills high, fighting one on one and including the magical weapon power, surpassed those barbaric human fishes; second, those human fishes were only strong and thick-skinned, FenXiang Valley disciples advanced and retreated, at times wielded their swords and attacked from the air which made the human fishes frustrated and greatly gained advantage.

And among the disciples, one elderly was in command, it was that LuShun who Ghost Li had seen in that dilapidated ancient temple. He was seen frowning, his expression extremely ugly, evidently furious.  

While the fights were getting intense, suddenly a miserable cry was heard, it was one of the FenXiang Valley disciple who for a moment let down his guard and his leg was caught by a sickle-similar looking weapon wielded by a human fish, dragged from the air and fell onto the ground. In an instant, several human fishes swamped over, the weapons danced and in a blink of an eye, dead, even his body was not kept whole.

In that instant, FenXiang Valley disciples were in an uproar, many of them could not tolerate it anymore and gestured rapidly, their weapons in the air immediately made sharp whistles, attacked in groups. Miserable cries were heard instantly, several human fishes were already struck dead by the magical weapons.

However those human fishes were really savage, their expressions did not change at the sight of blood spraying everywhere in the air but instead became even more wild and leapt up to fight, not afraid of dying at all.

LuShun wielded his sword and flew up to the air, shouted out in succession but regardless whether it was the human fishes or FenXiang Valley disciples, all were unbridled and none regarded his words, it seemed like a massacre was going to start.

And at this moment, the solitary moon that hung up high in the night sky suddenly darkened, LuShun frowned and looked up, a mass of grey clouds was seen sweeping over. LuShun’s countenance changed and he snorted.

That sheet of grey clouds rolled over with astonishing speed, in a blink it had arrived and its force increased, the wind rapidly turned in the air and soon created a diameter of several zhangs tornado, sharp sounds accompanying it, [wu] a sound, swiftly charged down from the sky.

And almost at the same time, the surrounding grounds vegetation and trees were flipped out by the strong wind, stones and sands flew, those lower skilled FenXiang Valley disciples and some human fishes were sucked up by the raging wind and flung out.

Everyone was shocked and before they could react, that tornado had already landed, in the shrill cries of the wind, [peng peng] loud sounds, several human fishes, like being grabbed with a huge hand, were all hit flying, flew backwards and fell heavily onto the ground.

Those human fishes [zhi zhi] cried out, their shrieks sharp and horrible but they sounded terrified. The raging wind continued for a while and after separating all of the human fishes and FenXiang Valley disciples, slowly stopped. The sounds of the wind slowly ceased, the huge wind force also gradually dispersed and a grey-clothed elderly figure emerged.

FenXiang Valley disciples were shocked and started to descend, paid obeisance to the elderly and respectfully greeted, “ShangGuan teacher uncle.”

LuShun also slowly descended to the ground and walked over, he glanced at that grey-clothed elderly, the vein in his face twitched. Then while smiling superficially, he said, “ShangGuan senior brother, this kind of trivial matter, why trouble you this important figure to come out?”

The grey-clothed elderly glanced at him, faintly smiled and said, “The valley master ordered, I have no choice but to come.”

LuShun’s expression changed.

By then Li Xun and YanHong had also arrived and descended from the sky. Li Xun walked over to LuShun, lowered his voice and said, “LuShun uncle, it was the valley master who instructed me to invite ShangGuan teacher uncle over.”

LuShun humphed, his expression became uglier but in the end he did not comment anything and turned around.

The grey-clothed elderly also did not look at him and turned to look at the bloody scene, his face somber.

By now, the human fishes were all gathered together, their eyes on this grey-clothed elderly. They seemed to recognize him and for some reasons, those fearless human fishes seemed to be fearful of this ordinary looking elderly and for the moment, did not attack.

The elderly looked away and in a low voice said, “Where is SunTu?”

He had just spoken when a middle-aged man walked out from the FenXiang Valley disciples, it was the SunTu who had gone with LuShun that night and knew the barbaric tribe language.

He was seen running to the elderly, his face extremely respectful and said, “Disciple is here.”

The elderly glanced at him, he was right now covered with ash and dirt, seemed like because of his inadequate skills, he had suffered during the fights but luckily he kept his life, after all not many knew the barbaric tribe language.

The elderly immediately said, “Come over and translate their words for me.”

SunTu cautiously acknowledged and stood aside.

The elderly glanced at the human fishes, loudly said, “Old man me is ShangGuan Ce, one of you come out to speak.”

A stir went through the group of human fishes, evidently they understood ShangGuan Ce’s words. And the name seemed to have a magical power on them, it was really extraordinary. After a while, a tall big human fish walked out.

ShangGuan Ce assessed him with a few glances, unhurriedly said, “Do you know me?”

That human fish hesitated,[ji ji ji ji] said.

SunTu who was standing beside immediately said, “They know.”

ShangGuan Ce with his expression unchanged, said, “Why did all of you attack my valley, is it because our FenXiang Valley looks easy to be bullied?”

That human fish’s face showed anger, [ji ji ji ji] started to speak, its voice extremely incensed.

SunTu translated at the same time, “He said, our tribe leader was killed while meeting with your people and you all actually said the killer could not be found, obviously...obviously you all did it. Although our human fish tribe is not your match but even if we have to die, we want to seek revenge for our tribe leader!”

ShangGuan Ce frowned tightly, a trace of worry flashed over his eyes. He was one of the top figures in FenXiang Valley and his skills were unfathomable, in the secret fierce fight with the southern barbaric tribe hundred years ago, ShangGuan Ce displayed his skills and awed the barbaric tribe. Since then his reputation had travelled far and wide within the southern sixty-three tribes. It was also because of this reason that the valley master, Yun YiLan, today had requested him who had not interfered in the mundane affairs for very long time, to make his appearance.

Also ShangGuan Ce had resided in the southern border for a long time and there was none other that had knowledge of these barbaric tribes like him, just this branch of human fish tribe, he knew them to be savage and ruthless and the death of their tribe leader was an unprecedented deep humiliation, it could really be that the entire tribe would die here without any hesitation.

If it was just this barbaric tribe, ShangGuan Ce would not be concern about it but although the southern border wild tribes on the surface looked to be fighting among themselves but their internal relationships were complex and besides, in these hundred years, an exceptional figure had appeared and was not an easy person to deal with, if in the event this alerted that figure, the big scheme that FenXiang Valley had been planning for a hundred years would be destroyed in one moment.

He was thinking it through rapidly in his mind, Li Xun standing beside saw ShangGuan Ce pondering with his head low, softly spoke to SunTu, “Isn’t the situation under control before I left, both parties facing each other, the human fishes also did not wish to fight and wanted to speak to our valley master? Why did the fights started again?”

SunTu with a pained expression, forced a smile and said, “We are also wondering! Initially it was all good, although the atmosphere was slightly tensed but both sides had no intention to continue fighting. Unexpectedly a miserable cry was heard from the human fishes, a human fish at the edge was mysteriously killed, those human fishes erupted into a rage and charged over like madmen.”

ShangGuan Ce heard it, suddenly spoke in a low voice, “Was it done by one of us?”

SunTu was stumped for a moment and LuShun who was beside, coldly said, “It was in a mess at that time, who knows?”

ShangGuan Ce’s face turned cold, suddenly raised his voice and spoke loudly to the FenXiang Valley, “During the confrontation, was there anyone who acted and killed the human fish?”

The FenXiang Valley crowd was silence, the disciples looked at each other and for a long while, nobody came out to admit.

At a distance, the human fishes were agitated, evidently enraged.

ShangGuan Ce frowned tightly, suddenly spoke to the human fish who was standing in front, “I will go take a look at that person’s corpse.”

After speaking, without waiting for the human fish’s reply, walked over straightaway.

That human fish’s countenance changed but looking at ShangGuan Ce’s expression, eventually still turned and led him to a corner of their crowd, after identifying a human fish body, pointed to it and “ji ji” said a few words.

LuShun, Li Xun, SunTu and the rest had also followed ShangGuan Ce and walked over. SunTu quietly said, “This is the human fish which had died.”

ShangGuan Ce stood beside the corpse, carefully looked, his expression gradually turning ugly. After a while, he muttered quietly to himself, “Remarkable, remarkable.”

Li Xun standing behind him, also looked at the body, unexpectedly also frowned. That human fish body was still holding onto a big knife but the head on his neck was already gone, a human fish head was lying not far away, most likely it was his.

This human fish was cleanly beheaded by someone.

Li Xun’s eyes could not help but look at that neck, the wound was extremely smooth, evidently an extremely sharp weapon was used to deliver the fatal single blow.

“Yi!” Suddenly, LuShun softly exclaimed, walked over and crouched beside the body to take a close look at the human fish body.

ShangGuan Ce frowned and said, “What is it?”

LuShun, after examining for a while, unhurriedly stood up but his expression was extremely ugly, spoke in a heavy voice, “This cut is exactly the same cut left on that human fish tribe leader by the assassinator, the wound was extremely smooth and not a single distortion was seen on the flesh but deep inside the blood vessels, for some reasons, had a faint purple color.”   

Everyone was shocked and quickly looked over, it was what LuShun had said.

ShangGuan Ce was extremely shocked, abruptly turned and his eyes glinted brightly, said, “The killer is here!”

ShangGuan Ce’s eyes were like a knife, extremely sharp, the elderly who was ordinary-looking, now was as if his entire body had suddenly emitted an overpowering sharp glare. He slowly looked at every person in the surrounding, not one dared to look him in the eyes.

A sudden silence in the scene, only a night breeze blowing from nowhere, blew past the tips of the trees’ branches, making rustling sounds.

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