“Doumo, the world was not supposed to be full of hatred and war. If there are still greediness and lustfulness, the darkness will still remain in this world. I knew someone, he was a hero once, a chivalrous, courageous, and propitious young man. he stood against injustice and he determined to bring light to the world. He united the jianghu as a nation. Our ancestors were proud fighting side by side with him. I was still a little kid when he was crowned as the emperor. But I remembered well the smile and happy face within people. It was the best day in my life.”
“Have you heard about theory of absolute? If there is an absolute light, the absolute darkness will follow, so in this world absolute do not exist. The emperor was the light of the nation, but the taste of the power and wealth, the feeling of superiority had consumed it little by little. It turned a chivalrous man into a tyranny. However, he was saved by his little consciousness. He, who made the pact with evil should perish, with his own hands, he killed his henchmen who took the same path with him. He stepped down as emperor and gave the throne to his last son.”
“The son bowed before his father, promised he would be the better king. He sealed himself together with the demon inside him in the armory. No one knew where it was, except his sworn brothers. One brother stayed in the capital city to guide the young emperor to be a good leader, and another one wandered around to help people in needs. Fate was surely cruel, Peace was not forever, someone was trying to awake the demon once again. I do not know who and why, and by the time it comes, I will no longer linger in this world. The answer is depending on you to search. Take this green jade hairpin with you, it will show you the way to the righteousness. May our ancestors bless all the path you walk and unite you to your fateful person. Doumo, farewell, I hope I can also be your father in the next life.”
“Have you receive any letter from Lord Bei’s manor?” An old man of sixties sat behind his study desk asked a servant who was bowing before him. The servant stretched out both of his hands equally to his bowing head and replied, ”No, Master. The latest letter we received was four days ago, saying he was on his way to Jiang from capital city Luhan.”
“That puny rascal. He had better not going to seduce some men, having fun with them so he forgot that he owed this old man.” He grumbled, shaking his head. One week ago, he had sent a carrier pigeon to Lord Bei’s manor in Qing province asking to meet with Lord Bei in private. Lord Bei answered him, immediately sent carriage from Luhan. He startled in sudden, Lord Bei was an eccentric man, but he was the man after his own words. Moreover, that man had been searching the information he was holding at the moment for fifteen years. Something had to happen to him so he was delayed to meet him.
Fear overwhelmed his thought, he stood up from his stool, asking the servant, “How is furen, Gao Sun and Gao Ming?” The servant answered ina bowing manner, “They are safe in the Begonia court. As my lord suggested, they did not leave the court and this servant has put 20 martial art cultivators to guard the court and 30 watchmen of Gao’s household. Is there anything this servant be able to do?”
The old man took an envelope from the drawer and gave it to his servant. “Guan, I need you to go to Long Qiao. Give this letter to Madam Tan, tell her to give this directly to Lord Bei. It is confidential, if she ever peeks inside or tell anyone about it, her neck will belong to Lord Bei. You have to promise me, keep this letter with your life. The future of this nation is in your hand.” The servant nodded then pardoned himself to leave the chamber.
The old man sat again on his stool. He was restless as if something was bothering his heart. “Bei Yuan, I am afraid that I may not live to see you again. Something evil is lurking in Jiang’s province for years, this old man is afraid, it is not only Jiang, but this entire nation is on danger. What happened fifteen years ago will happen once again.”
Since the rumour of Jade Dragon Seal was uproar in Jiang province, he had taken precautions that he and his family would be suspected hiding it. Thus, he could be the target of assassination. He had prepared everything; if he was targeted, he might learn the one behind it, yet his heart was not ready to see his wife and sons got hurt. The one he could trusted beneath imperial court was only Bei Yuan, the Lord of Qing province.
The night was getting late, it sent chilly feeling to skin. In the silence, Mr. Gao heard some movement, faint screams, and the slashing sound. He closed his eyes and focused on his ears, the sound was very faint, almost unheard, but he was sure, the assassins had come for him. He stood up immediately, took a deep breath, and unleashed his long sword which displayed on the wall before him.
“I never thought one day, I will have to use you again. Please protect me and my family, like you always do.” He talked to the shiny sword in his grip. His face was reflected on it. He was an old man in his sixties, his hair was greyish black; despite it, he still had the aura of a warrior. With his strong determination, he walked to door manly and opened it.
He saw his servants were slain before him, one by one they fell to the ground. The assassin was so fast, no one would detect his movement. Their neck had been slit before they could scream; the wondrous thing was the wound was so deep and sharply cut the arteries and veins in one stroke, moreover, he was alone. This assassin was very proficient. He threw his dagger to anyone who were about to scream and move to his chamber. No wonder he could detect any movement and any sound.
The assassin moved swiftly and elegantly, sometimes he stopped mid air like he was performing an acrobatic under the moon light. When he did it, his steps were so light and his body was flexible that dazzled anyone who stared at him. The old man stood in front of his chamber tried to catch the glimpse of his movement. He remembered well, that was nine cloud steps which belonged only to someone.
“Yuan Chi, the red lightning dagger?” He yelled that name, the assassin froze for a moment, throwing his dagger to the last servant alive who tried to run toward his lord, and killing him. The assassin jumped down the roof bringing a woman’s body. In a second, he had been in front of the old man, lying down her on the floor then leaping backward three times to keep his distance.
Seeing the woman’s of his life dead body, he dropped the sword along with his determination. He bent down to hug her for last time. He caressed her beauty face and wiped out the blood from her mouth, he sobbed and kissed the temple of her head. He mourned for the life of a woman who had enraged the emperor and willingly to sacrifice herself from living in imperial palace and putting down her title as the princess, only to marry the old man.
“How did you know that name?” the assassin finally opened his mouth. The old man put down his wife carefully. He gazed at her gently, then averted toward the man before him. He dressed in crimson robe, wore a crimson sokkat on his head, his face was covered by crimson mask. The man was quite tall, but the old man was not sure if it was the same man he encountered.
“That was nine clouds steps which only mastered by Yuan Chi, but it seems like you are not that person. Who are you?” The old man examined the man attentively. This man could not be Yuan Chi; if he were, he should be on his fifties. Judging from his voice and figure, this man was still young, not over twenty five years old.
“He was my master. I see that you are a very observative person. You know too much that cost your life and your entire household. You must have known that this day will come. You do not even flinch after seeing their dead bodies. Are you not afraid?” The man asked with cold tone.
The old man closed his eyes and smiled, “Why should I be? I have survived several battlefield in the past, seeing my close friends and relatives died one by one of the cruel war, the vain bloodshed only to hold on the pride and lust. My subordinates didn’t even know why they had to fight in the war, some of them didn’t care about political issues, all they wanted were filling their stomach with food and bringing some coppers to their families. The died ones couldn’t rest in peace, the survive ones couldn’t live without the shadow of gruesome. You are an assassin, you may have killed more people than I did in the past. You should have known that feeling.”
The man cleched his fists hearing out the old man’s speech. He remained silence, the mask on his face made his expression unknown. “While I took the place in imperial court, it was much more terrifying that the actual battlefield. Person’s heart was easily corrupted that they would sacrificed millions of life in the sake of their own greediness. Many people live in poverty and famine, while the court members feast on the tears and sweats of poor.”
“If my useless life can save one poor life from misery, then I will proudly give my life away. The servants you killed todays were my loyal servants. I urged them to leave this mansion since the rumour uproared, yet they did not leave me. I have given out all my treasures for their families in charge of their loyalty. My wife suicided showing her strong determination staying by my side. She surely had a plan for our sons to keep them alive. Tell me, young man, what should I be afraid?”
“I admire you. Lord Gao is certainly a chilvarous man who is loved by most of Jiang people. But this is the end of your fate. I was sent here not only for the Jade Dragon Seal; you digged too deep to your own grave. To honor your service for this nation, I will let you decide how you want to die.” That assassin bowed with both of his hand clasping at each other.
“I never met an assassin like you, in addition, a hongxie showed a mercy to his prey. Before my life is taken from me, can I see your face?” he asked abruptly. The man took off his mask, revealing a yellowish, round and lumpy, full of acnes face. His face did not match his figure.
The old man smiled, “It’s been fifteen years. I do not know whether I should be happy or sad.” The old man's lips vibrated, and his eyes were watery as if he was crying hard inside his heart, but showing no tears.
“You talk as if you know me.” The man touched his chest, the pain had slowly came to his sense. He felt odd, like he had done something that he shouldn’t have.
“You are right. I shouldn't have talked as if I knew you. I will join my beloved to the netherworld soon. You probably talked to my wife before. I wish you can fulfill your promise.” The old man stared at him. That gaze did not say any word but enough to make someone understand its meaning.
The old man lifted his right hand, put it on his neck. Before he charged his neck with his qi, his mouth was moving uttering something with a very faint voice, then he smile widely. He penetrated his fingers deep into his neck while looking at the one stood before him. The blood gushed out from his neck. He vomitted a lot of bloods then fell on his wife’s dead body.
That night, under the round and beautiful moonlight, Gao Zhang’s household was no longer existed. He, who served the nation for more than forty years, disappeared like dust. The man stood still in silence. He clasped both of his palm together, sending a lamenting prayer to the netherworld for the souls he slain. He put on his mask and gazed at the moon.
“Rest assured, the things I promised, I would do it even if my life on the stake.” The man disappeared into the thin air. Something sneaky had been on the man’s tail, analyzing the condition from a far, she smile and grinned widely. In just a few minutes, the entire mansion was burnt. The fire engulfed the night, leaving the sorrow and mourn.
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