Not only was there a ban on iron in the border city, but there was also a curfew. The Secret Sect had strict laws and punishments, and if one stole even a pack of salt, they would be brutally beaten with ten planks on a bench. If they stole ten packs, they would be exiled. Anyone caught wandering the streets after curfew would be arrested by the patrolling officials and thrown into prison. No one wanted to eat prison food, so as the sun began to set, the market began to close. Su Ru Hui managed to buy a string of meat from the last pork vendor before he left. He was starving and hoped that Su Yu would heat up the pot and boil some water before he got home.
Su Ru Hui trudged through the snow-covered ground, sunlight far behind him. He turned into a small alley and saw a tall man leaning against a white cloth tent, blocking his way. Su Ru Hui felt hopeless and wished he had brought a knife with him. He was hungry enough to kill anyone who stood in his way of getting home to eat.
As he thought this, he saw the tall man emerge from the shadows. He put on a forced smile and said, “Boss, what brings you here? If you need to contact me, just send someone to deliver a message. Why bother coming here yourself?”
“Just wandering around with nothing to do.” Han Ye looked at him with a smile that did not reach his eyes. “I heard that the trial this time for the Frontline Guards is to throw a hundred people into the Kun Lun snow line to kill each other. I didn’t expect you, a person without any spiritual power, to survive. A Qi, you’re more capable than I imagined.”
Su Ru Hui humbly said, “I just have some survival skills. I’m not good at fighting. Running away is my specialty.”
“Paradise Pavillion had eyes on the entire journey of your trial. There was only one puppet carriage that came out of Kun Lun Mountain, carrying you and the little friend next to you. Only you two came out of the Secret Sect, with weapons and official clothes from the military office.” Han Ye crossed his arms. “I don’t know how many undercover agents the Great Compassion Temple sent, but our Paradise Pavillion sent three. Two of them are spiritual power users. Did they contact you? How did they not pass the trial?”
This was awkward. Su Ru Hui couldn’t tell him that he had killed all three of his little brothers. Not only had he killed them, but he also stripped them naked and used their clothes as firewood.
Wait a minute, Han Ye said that other than Su Ru Hui and Su Yu, no one else had come down from the mountain. He Sheng hadn’t come down either? Did that mean that all fifty people who passed the trial did not come down?
Su Ru Hui quickly regained his composure and played dumb. “No, this trial was too brutal and inhumane. I went into a cave as soon as I entered the mountain and hid there for three days and two nights. The three brothers you mentioned must have missed me.”
Su Ru Hui figured Han Ye wouldn’t suspect that one person could take down all three. Han Ye frowned. “You must have been exposed. The Secret Sect must have some way of monitoring the trial.”
“Exactly, there might be someone who can use Heavenly Eye among them,” Su Ru Hui agreed.
Han Ye was a spiritual power at the Dong Xuan Realm, and he had many little hooligans under his command who could be used to investigate the Secret Sect. If he had his help, it would save Su Ru Hui from fighting alone and being too risky. Su Ru Hui actively reported the incident of the corpse in the mountain ditch and He Sheng to Han Ye, and as he listened, Han Ye’s brow furrowed deeper and deeper. This matter was just too strange. Death and resurrection were things that only happened in books.
Han Ye’s expression darkened. “Do I look so easy to fool? Did you not prepare your lies beforehand?”
“I swear to heaven, I speak only the truth,” Su Ru Hui solemnly said. “Not just me, my little brother Su Yu also saw it.”
“Little brother?” Han Ye’s gaze was complicated. “Why are you always like Su Ru Hui, fond of taking in little brothers as attendants?”
Su Ru Hui was puzzled. Who said he liked taking in little brothers? It wasn’t him who proposed becoming brothers with Su Yu.
Thinking that Su Ru Hui didn’t dare to deceive him with nonsense, Han Ye looked up at the sky and said, “The weather is good today. There won’t be any wind and snow on the mountain. I’ll take people to that snow ditch tonight.”
“I’m going too!” Su Ru Hui volunteered.
“Of course you’re going.” Han Ye sneered and pinched his face. “If you dare to play tricks on me, I’ll throw you into the snow ditch to accompany those corpses. Meet me at the city gate at midnight. Don’t be late, I don’t like waiting for people.”
Su Ru Hui returned home and pounded meat while Sang Chi Yu helped out. They were too hungry. Their stomach had almost merged with their backs. Making meat buns was too slow. Su Ru Hui promised to make some for Sang Chi Yu to eat later. They casually stewed a plate of braised pork, added a bowl of pickled vegetables, paired with rice, and the two of them cleaned the dishes spotlessly.
Feeling like he had just come back to life, Su Ru Hui stretched lazily. He still had to go out at night, so he had to take a nap. Sang Chi Yu watched him enter the house. He looked up at the roof and saw an extra cloth bundle at the ridge. He took the cloth bundle down, lit an oil lamp, opened the bundle, and saw five portraits and identification information, plus two Gate of Nothingness talismans.
The portraits included the two monks who pursued He Sheng that day. One was killed by Su Ru Hui, and the other passed the test. Sang Chi Yu remembered seeing the yellow-robed monk who used a bone knife on the snow line.
Sang Chi Yu took the broadsword he received today, with a meteorite blade and a sharkskin hilt, as well as a blade with a Ruyi pattern. This standard issue sword from the guard post could easily cut through most firearms. He laid the sword horizontally on the table and placed his crossbow, spirit fire gun, and dagger on the table as well. After some thought, he chose the sword and dagger. Although firearms were powerful, he was used to using blades.
He sat in front of the oil lamp and waited. Time passed slowly like flowing water, and the light reflected on his peaceful face. His calm and serene expression was like a Buddha meditating, not that of a criminal preparing to kill.
At midnight, he picked up a talisman and activated his spiritual power.
Meanwhile, Su Ru Hui had been waiting at the city gate. He left the city before it closed and brought his own single-shot crossbow and a sleeve gun. The weapons issued by the guard post were good, but the number of arrows and pellets were limited, and it would be troublesome if the guard post asked where they were used. Su Ru Hui decided to use his own weapons. As for the sword, he could use the one from the guard post. He lowered his head and looked at the hilt of the broadsword at his waist. The sword had a good weight and a narrow blade, a good sword indeed.
At midnight, Han Ye and several gangsters from Paradise Pavillion arrived on time, making a total of eight people, each holding an oil lamp and heading up the mountain in groups. It was difficult to recognize the road at night, but fortunately, the system helped. In Su Ru Hui’s vision, a glowing blue line was projected on the ground.
The night was as heavy as iron, and their fur boots made rustling sounds as they sank into the snow. Looking around, withered white birch trees stood in the darkness like grimacing shadows, giving off a somewhat eerie vibe. The lights from the gangsters’ oil lamps scattered in the forest, moving towards the snow ditch together.
After walking for a whole hour, they finally crossed the mountain cliff and arrived at the snowy ravine. The range that the oil lamp could illuminate was extremely limited. Standing on the snowy ravine and looking down below, they could only see a pitch-black hole.
“Do we need to go down?” asked one of the thugs.
Han Ye called someone over. “A Pan, listen down there.”
The boy named A Pan nodded and crouched down to listen. After a while he said, “There’s no living creature down there. It’s safe.”
A Pan. Su Ru Hui remembered this kid. He had visited a literacy school in Paradise Pavillion before, and A Pan was one of the children at the school. He never thought that after five years, the children who were small at the time had grown up so much.
A Pan was a “Keen Hearing” spiritual power user. Su Ru Hui had previously seen spiritual power users of the same type, with hearing so good that they could hear the heartbeat and breathing of a person three hundred steps away.
Han Ye ordered the thugs to check the body in the snowy ravine. Seeing Su Ru Hui standing there doing nothing, he kicked him and said, “You also go down.”
Su Ru Hui almost got kicked down. He felt irritated but unable to do anything. Since he was under someone else’s roof, he had to bow his head. Su Ru Hui comforted himself that a real man could bend and stretch, and slid down the snow slope into the ravine. When he reached the bottom and turned back to look, Han Ye had also come down, taking the lead.
The thugs took turns examining the bodies, and the dim oil lamp shone on their faces. They were all pale from the cold, and their bodies were harder than bricks. It was the middle of the night, and it was extremely cold on the mountain. Su Ru Hui felt that he would freeze to death soon. While shivering, he searched for He Sheng’s body. He had to carefully examine it to see what had happened to the corpse.
As he was searching, he heard the cry of one of the thugs from the other side, “Boss, I found Li Jin Bie!”
Su Ru Hui walked over slowly and saw that it was Hook-Eye – the one who had died by his hand. It turned out that his name was Li Jin Bie. What a good name.
Han Ye bent down to examine the bullet hole in the center of Li Jin Bie’s eyebrow, and gave Su Ru Hui a meaningful look.
Su Ru Hui felt a chill in his heart. He had forgotten about this incident. He never thought that the military men from the Secret Sect were so efficient that they had brought all the trial ground’s corpses here in half a day. He nervously explained, “Boss, I can explain. It wasn’t me who started the fight. They wanted to rob me and defile me. I had no choice.”
“Defile you?” Han Ye’s face turned dark.
A thug next to him whispered, “Li Jin Bie was indeed a handsome man, and he was very popular with the young masters in the public hall.”
“…” Han Ye kicked Li Jin Bie back into the pit of corpses. “Then he deserved to die.”
Su Ru Hui thought to himself, who are you to judge him?
Someone had already walked to the bottom of the pit and shouted, “Boss, I found another brother! It’s Dao Xiao Liu!”
“Another one?” Su Ru Hui furrowed his brow. He remembered Han Ye saying that besides him, there were only three people – Scarface, Hook-Eye, and Pockmarks. Two of them had melted away into a puddle of blood. How could there be another one?
Following the group deeper into the area, several thugs surrounded a corpse with an oil lamp placed beside it, illuminating the face.
It was Scarface.
Su Ru Hui felt a chill run down his spine and instinctively held back Han Ye, who wanted to step forward.
“What’s wrong?” Han Ye turned his head in confusion.
Su Ru Hui looked closely, and indeed, the corpse was Scarface’s – robust build, scar across the nose, everything identical.
How was that possible? He saw Scarface melt into a pool of blood with his own eyes. How could he appear here?
Two other thugs brought over another corpse – Pockmarks. One of them wiped the sweat off his face and asked, “We finally found them all, boss. Shall we burn them here or take them back for a proper burial?”
Before Han Ye could answer, several other thugs rushed over in a panic and came face-to-face with Su Ru Hui, their faces full of fear as if they had seen a ghost.
“Boss, come and take a look!”
They led Han Ye to another corpse, and as soon as the oil lamp was set down, everyone’s faces turned deathly pale.
The corpse lay still with closed eyes, cheeks as pale as snow – it was Su Ru Hui’s face.
“A… A Qi,” someone stepped back a few steps and asked anxiously, “how could your corpse be here?”