AIP - Chapter 123: Meeting Death
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
It was springtime, and the rivers were thawing. This was the season when the trade routes began to flow once more.
Merchants and travelers moved along the West Wind Old Road.
A merchant convoy slowly emerged out of the distance, flags rising from three sides of the carts.
On one side was the character "黎" (Li), indicating that this was a merchant convoy from the Li Clan of Wanquan City.
On another was a triangular flag depicting a majestic lion. This was an indicator that the Lion Escort Company of Wanquan City was in charge of escorting the convoy.
At the very front was a flag bearing the silver moon. This was the symbol of the Basking Moon Sect and a sign that this merchant convoy was transporting the goods of the Basking Moon Sect.
Wang Kuizhong sat on the cart at the very front, warily looking around.
One of the young guards seemed to be thirsty and left his post to head to the rear cart to get some water. Wang Kuizhong spotted this and immediately pointed at him. "Shuisheng, you fool, trying to slack off again! Get back to your post right now!"
That kid called Shuisheng resentfully went back to his post by the second cart. Holding the hilt of his saber, he mumbled, "It's not like there's anything to do. He's just trying to show off. Escorting the Basking Moon Sect's convoys is the most boring job of all. Who would dare to touch their things?"
An older guard grabbed Shuisheng's ear. "Shut your mouth, you brat. The boss went through a lot of negotiating with the Li Clan to get this Basking Moon Sect escort job. Others can't even dream about getting this one, but you find it boring? So you would find running into actual bandits a fun time? All of those things will have your head! No one might have the guts to take the goods of the Basking Moon Sect, but that doesn't mean that our Lion Escort Company can lose its dignity. Moreover, there's plenty more journey left, and while we might not run into bandits, we might run into some sort of unintelligent mountain sprite or wild monster. Keep your eyes sharp! The safer the business, the more you aren't allowed to mess it up, or else we'll all be going home hungry."
Wang Kuizhong nodded in satisfaction after seeing that junior being reprimanded. It was always those elders who were more reliable. He shouted, "Old Liu, up ahead is the Eighteen Ravines. Take a few of the young ones with you to make some offerings to the mountain and then find a person to announce our coming."
"Understood, second captain," the old guard replied, and immediately set about organizing the men.
Several guards had already mounted their horses and were about to go up ahead when they suddenly spotted a plume of dust in the distance. A group of horsemen emerged from the dust. There were ten-some of them, all of them dressed in black fighting clothes, and they were headed right at them.
Wang Kuizhong's heart tensed. This shouldn't be something bad, right?
While he was still fooling himself, he shot a glance at the old guard. The guard understood and ordered, "All carts, move to the side. They might be passing through!"
At the same time, he tightened the grip on his weapon, carefully observing these people.
These men were soon up close, and they showed no signs of slowing down as they charged straight at the convoy.
The old guard flipped onto his horse and stood up. He shouted, "The Lion Escort Company is escorting this convoy through Baodi. Might I ask which company…"
Before he could finish, that group of horsemen arrived, their leader raising his hand for a brief moment. There was a flash of light, and then the old guard swayed. A moment later, his head flew into the air, a fountain of blood gushing out of his neck.
The man's head tumbled in the air before landing in Wang Kuizhong's lap. Wang Kuizhong jumped up in alarm. "It's a cultivator!"
He had been able to see just now that this had been a spell art that only cultivators could use.
Wang Kuizhong shouted, "Immortals, these are goods of the Basking Moon Sect…"
"That's exactly what I want!" an icy voice replied. "Kill! No survivors!"
As this despair-inducing voice spoke, the sounds of killing were already being carried along the wind.
The ten-some black-suited men charged into the convoy, and blood soon began to spurt into the air.
"Nooo!" Wang Kuizhong hollered. These people didn't just want their goods, but their lives!
He pulled out his saber and hacked at one of the men in black that was charging at him, yelling in a most despairing tone, "I'll take you down with me!"
The man in black lightly grunted and charged straight ahead. As he rode past Wang Kuizhong, the body of the second captain of the Lion Escort Company swayed, and then it exploded into countless chunks of flesh that splattered across the old road.
In the blink of an eye, the twenty-some members of the convoy, bodyguards and porters, were slaughtered to a man.
Seeing this, Tang Jie angrily glared at Gu Changqing. "You're just stealing a box. Was it necessary to kill them all?"
Gu Changqing waved his hand, and the ten-some Hawk Hall subordinates began to search through the contents of the convoy.
Gu Changqing slowly said, "First, although we know that the goods of Basking Moon Academy are all transported by the Li Clan Merchant Company, we don't know which convoy it is. Until we find that object, we can't let them know what our objective is. By killing them, we can make them misunderstand this as a revenge killing. Second, I'm still not sure about you. Who knows if your plan to escape doesn't involve this merchant company? If so, then there might be experts mixed in. Striking first can also force out any hidden dangers and avoid the possibility of a sneak attack. If you need someone to blame, just blame yourself for sending off that box and dragging in other people."
"You're the one killing, yet you push the blame onto others?" Tang Jie sneered.
"You were the one who dragged them down," Gu Changqing unyieldingly replied. "If you truly had a conscience, there would have been no need to drag in innocents."
"Bullshit!" Tang Jie spat at Gu Changqing. "I've seen plenty of people use this sort of crooked reasoning, people who clearly commit evil but then insist on pushing the responsibility onto others, as if others should just let you do as you please and that the slightest effort on their part is involving people in their troubles. Absolutely absurd! Yes, I admit that what I did truly had the chance of involving innocents, but I've never taken the initiative to hurt others. I'm just trying to survive! If my survival means that many people must die and so I should die, then doesn't that mean that all gentlemen in the world with enemies should commit suicide right now so that they don't involve innocents? Placing yourself in the standpoint of extreme evil and then blaming the righteous, claiming that anyone with the slightest conscience is hurting others, is a trick commonly played by evildoers like you. Unfortunately, that's useless against me. I, Tang Jie, have never intended to play the part of a saint who is good to the world. I just never thought that you would be this deranged! But no matter how much you slander me, it won't change your coldblooded and callous nature!"
"Seeking death!" Gu Changqing's face chilled as he slapped Tang Jie across the face.
Tang Jie opened his mouth and spat bloody spittle at Gu Changqing, but Gu Changqing moved his head and dodged it.
At this moment, the men in black finished searching the goods and reported, "Eagle Master, we didn't find it."
"Mobilize all our hidden Shadow Hall disciples and keep searching for other convoys!" Gu Changqing ordered.
"But, Eagle Master, this is likely to expose them!" a subordinate urgently replied.
"For the sake of Godhead Palace, some sacrifices are necessary," Gu Changqing coldly replied.
Tang Jie immediately jeered, "That's true. Didn't you also just make some sacrifices for Godhead Palace?"
The expressions of all the Hawk Hall subordinates instantly dimmed.
Not long after they had kidnapped Tang Jie, the Basking Moon Sect had immediately attacked the Hawk Hall. At the same time, it had also sent someone to Godhead Palace to ask about what was going on.
Godhead Palace was naturally prepared for this. It immediately declared that Gu Changqing and his men were traitors to Godhead Palace, drawing a clear line between itself and Gu Changqing. At the same time, it also paid compensation to the Basking Moon Sect.
This was the countermeasure that Godhead Palace had long ago prepared. Of course, these were only public statements. If the Hawk Hall members could get back to Nadir Hill, they would naturally be treated as heroes.
But all of this depended on their ability to get back the Martial Mirror.
If they couldn't get it, then they would truly become abandoned pieces.
Gu Changqing and the others all understood this.
Tang Jie's words had prodded this sore spot. Gu Changqing's face stiffened, and then he suddenly swung his saber and cut off Tang Jie's left arm.
His saber was vicious and moved as quickly as lightning. With one strike, Tang Jie's entire arm was chopped off, and Tang Jie almost fainted from the pain.
Only then did Gu Changqing say, "You have to know when and how to use a sharp tongue. This is the price you must pay today."
Gu Changqing was truly decisive, cutting off his arm without hesitation. At this time, a disciple quickly chopped Tang Jie's arm up and used the same trick as before to disperse the pieces.
Tang Jie was in so much pain that his voice was trembling, yet he was smiling. "Alright! Then I'll wait until tomorrow for you to cut off my leg. If you have the guts, you'll do it now, but I'm afraid you won't have the time."
Gu Changqing grimaced, and then he turned around and shot a ray of golden light at a nearby shrub.
The golden light disappeared into the shrub, and there was a scream. A man dressed in ordinary clothes dropped out of the shrub, a large hole in his neck.
As he collapsed, a silver light shot out of his hand and exploded in the sky, turning into a crescent silver moon, contrasting against the golden sun in the sky.
All of the Hawk Hall disciples paled at this sight, one of them shouting, "A moon dancing in the sky! A scout sent by the Basking Moon Sect!"
As the moonlight appeared, a loud and piercing howl came out of the distance.
This howl shook the surroundings, and its source approached at high speeds. It was clear that the nearby experts were answering this summons.
Gu Changqing barked, "Go!"
All of them mounted their horses, but just as they were about to leave, Tang Jie lazily said, "Hey, which one of you is going to help me onto a horse?"
"You can't do it yourself?" Gu Changqing angrily shot back, but when he turned his head, he saw Tang Jie pointing at his bloodied stump with a cold smile on his lips.
Gu Changqing froze, and then he rushed over, grabbed Tang Jie, and placed him on the saddle of one of his subordinate's horses. "Hold him tight. If you let him go, you're dead!"
"Understood," Tang Jie replied. "But while I still have an arm to hold him today, you'll be cutting off my leg tomorrow, meaning that someone will have to hold me."
Gu Changqing once more froze. Tang Jie chuckled. "I'm waiting for you to take my leg tomorrow. If you want, you can even take it now!"
He erupted in laughter.
He was clearly missing an arm now, yet it seemed like he was the winner here.
That Hawk Hall disciple wanted to give him a good thrashing, but the howling was getting closer and closer. Their pursuers would soon be here.
Gu Changqing spurred his horse. "Let's go!"
All of them pushed their horses into a gallop.
A person emerged at their rear, appearing like a beam of light as he pursued them, shouting, "Kidnapping my student and destroying my merchant convoy? How can you just leave and go whenever you please? Stay right there!"
A beam of spiritual light descended from the sky.
Gu Changqing flew off his horse and shot out a golden light of his own. As the spiritual energies collided, Gu Changqing landed back on his horse and shouted, "It's Gu Yifeng of the Basking Moon Sect! Su Mo, go and stop him while the rest of you follow me! Use the Bloodburn spell!"
All the Hawk Hall disciples applied the Bloodburn spell to their horses.
When the Bloodburn spell was used, a horse's speed would multiply, allowing it to move just as quickly as a person flying in the air, but the horse was certain to die afterward.
It wasn't that the Hawk Hall members didn't know how to fly, but flying consumed spiritual energy, and the days ahead were certain to be those of pursuit and being pursued. Each drop of spiritual energy needed to be conserved until they completed their mission or died. Using horses to get around was the best way of saving their energy.
Empowered by the Bloodburn spell, the horses galloped off. At the same time, one of the Hawk Hall members resolutely turned around to confront Gu Yifeng.
This was a suicide mission, but it was at times like these that the Hawk Hall disciples displayed their outstanding qualities, heedlessly charging out to meet death.
The pursuer's furious roar came from the rear: "Seeking death!"
Spiritual energy howled, swords and sabers clanged, and then a mournful and biting wind swept out… Tang Jie muttered, "Another one dead."