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Chapter 23: The Assassin

 

Old Ha’s corpse was sprawled on the bed, the body covered with the cotton blanket. Only a pair of legs was exposed and the smell of blood was faint. It was obvious that the assassin had already taken care of him. If Fei Jie had not trained Fan Xian’s nose to be sensitive, he might have missed it.

 

Fan Xian remained silent in the corner. The dark blanketed both the assassin and him.

He tried Five-Bamboo’s technique of calming himself down. The inner energy within his body flowed gently and his heartbeat began to harmonize with the bustling of the streets.



 

The assassin had not left. The agents of the Empire’s Bureau of Investigation were very thorough. After poisoning Fan Xian, they would wait until night to confirm the death of this illegitimate child before hiding in the cover of night to escape Danzhou port. Since the assassin had impersonated Old Ha’s nephew in this city, he must be familiar with this place and will not seek another surveillance site.

 

Since things had gone beyond Fan Xian’s calculations, he had carefully observed the room. Other than the ice cold corpse of Old Ha on the bed, there were no signs of anyone.

Hugging the wall, he maneuvered into the house, carefully ensuring that he did not knock into anything and make any noise. His eyes hovered from the ceiling to other inconspicuous corners of the room.

 

Inching along the walls, he reached the side of the balcony. Rays of light seeped through the window. Old Ha was obviously not affluent enough to afford a glass window, which was why the lighting in the room was very dim. Fan Xian quietly stood beside the dim light, using the contrasts of light and dark to blend into the shadows. (Rike a ninja ~MCM)

 

After standing there for quite a long time, he furrowed his brows. Perhaps he was mistaken; the assassin who tried to poison him may have already left Danzhou port. If that was the case, coming here straightaway rather than staying behind and taking care of Housekeeper Zhou would have been unwise.

 

He walked to the bedside intending to have a look at the cause of death of poor Old ha. However, he began to feel edgier as he got closer and closer to the bed. He could hear a slight change in pressure from someone’s breathing. This person’s breathing was hidden by the furor down in the market. It was only until Fan Xian gotten closer to the bed that he managed to catch wind of it.

 

The assassin discovered that someone had entered and was now hiding behind Old Ha’s corpse.

 

The breathing behind the corpse on the bed was very stable, with only around seven breaths exchanged in a minute. If Fan Xian did not possess an extraordinarily abundant inner energy that enhanced his hearing, he might not have heard it.

 

Fan Xian’s footsteps stopped. Staring at the bed for a long time, he wondered if this was a trap.

The hawking outside the window remained noisy. From faraway, a faint sound could be heard. Listening closely, one could make out that it was a carriage that was making its way here.

He knew that the building faced a market, causing the road to become rather narrow. When the carriage goes by, it would probably face much difficulty moving. He gently palmed his dagger and waited quietly.

 

The assassin behind the corpse was also waiting patiently. He did not managed to see who it was that had entered the room, though he was certain that the other person possessed the same patience as he did. After waiting for a long time, he suspected that he had underestimated the dangers in Danzhou port. Perhaps he should have left immediately earlier after destroying the evidence and not stayed around where there was a possibility that he could have been discovered.

 

……

 

……

 

A single carriage slowly moved across the marketplace. The merchants on both sides of the road began to curse at him. The coachman’s bitter face also clearly expressed his unhappiness. If it was not because he was rushing for time, he would also not have preferred to use this route.

 

It was with much difficulty that the peddlers managed to clear a way for him. The coachman thanked the people around him and, with a flick of his horsewhip, the carriage went forward. A carton of eggs was accidentally smashed by the carriage; the egg merchant was furious. He grabbed and held back the bridle on the horse, causing chaos to descend upon the market. The marketplace became really loud.

 

Meanwhile, in the small building beside the marketplace…

 

A loud crash came in from the outside. On cue, under the cover of the noises outside, Fan Xian lifted his right leg with lightning speed and planted it firmly downwards, sending his entire body flying towards the bed. With a twist of his arm, a thin and long dagger plunged viciously behind Old Ha’s corpse.

 

In that split second, Fan Xian could clearly see the assassin’s face. The eyes were cold as ice and the eyebrows were messy. It was obvious that the assassin was still young. The face was plain, with the exception of the lips which were slightly thicker. The skin on his forehead was also slightly dry.

 

On the bed, the unprepared assassin’s right hand suddenly blurred, a small black crossbow bolt shot through the sleeve and flew towards Fan Xian’s face. At the moment, Fan Xian’s legs had barely touched the ground, his right hand already raised. His entire torso was defenseless.

The crossbow bolt flew at light speed!

 

In the split second when the hidden crossbow was activated, Fan Xian had already reacted. This was thanks to those years of training with Five-Bamboo, whose wooden stick flew even faster than the crossbow bolt. His toes touched the ground and, without stepping down fully, he used the downward momentum to pivot and leant his defenseless body a few inches to the right.

 

The crossbow bolt came dangerously close beside Fan Xian’s face, scratching across his left cheek. It buried itself deeply into the wooden support of ceiling with a thud.

 

The assassin’s face was full of surprise. He did not imagine that the person who came was the poisoned bishounen who was supposed to be dead. Moreover, to think that the young man could dodge the hidden quarrel fired from such a close distance!

 

Meanwhile, the dagger in Fan Xian’s hands had followed his twist of the body and stabbed into the body of the assassin, producing a slightly disgusting squelch like a vegetable knife slicing pork. It was a pity that, because Fan Xian tried to dodge the quarrel, his execution was slightly shallow, the thin blade piercing through the assassin’s shoulders and not killing him instantly.

 

Like an eel, the assassin slithered from the bed, his left hand formed a knife hand, ready to deal the deathblow to Fan Xian. However, an excruciating pain and a strong downward pressure from his shoulders immediately forced him to fall down. The finger on the hidden crossbow loosened.

 

When he tried to stand up, he was already prepared for the pain from his shoulder. However, he did not imagine that it would be so intense. Moreover…… the boy’s dagger had passed through his own shoulders, viciously embedding itself unto the bed frame and nailing his body into place!

 

……

 

……

 

The assassin’s actions were rendered useless. Fan Xian’s left hand clasped surprisingly quickly around the throat of the former. The assassin’s plain and calm demeanor shattered, his face finally exposing his fear of death. The thick lips quivered as though he wanted to say something.

 

Fan Xian’s heart wavered, feeling a slight chill. However, he did not give the other person a chance to retaliate. With a sudden increase in pressure, the assassin’s neck was broken, his head lolled to one side. He was instantly dead.

 

His hands remained on the assassin’s throat for a while, feeling the broken shards of bone and waiting until the blood ran cold. Finally, he detached his hands from the body and knelt down to one side, taking big gulps of air.

 


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