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Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Mantou
The moment Chen Changsheng awoke, he realized that he was lying on the snowy ground and the sky had almost turned dark. Dusky light spilled out from the west, illuminating the low walls of that distant town as well as the rag Su Li had wrapped around himself.
The rag had been found during their escape in an abandoned hunting lodge, its edges and corners in tatters. At this moment, it seemed to be on fire as it lit up in the twilight. Su Li sat cross-legged on the snow, his head lowered and covered by that rag, causing him to appear somewhat like Black Robe. Chen Changsheng asked, "I was lying on the snow, and yet… Senior does not care?"
After running incessantly, he had finally managed to cross the long ten thousand li of snowy plains, far away from the demon menace. One could imagine what sort of effort and price he had to pay and how exhausted he was. The moment he saw the human town, he immediately collapsed and was unable to rise. Yet, even in this sort of situation, Su Li did not come to his aid. This caused Chen Changsheng to feel somewhat uncomfortable.
Su Li's voice rang out from within the rag, carrying a sense of righteousness and self-confidence. "If I had the strength to move you, would I still need you to carry me around on your back and take me everywhere? In addition, when you fall over, would you mind paying attention to your position? Don't forget, I'm on your back. When you suddenly crash down like that, do you know how miserable I was when being squashed by you?"
Chen Changsheng felt very helpless. During their escape, he would occasionally talk to this senior, so he had long confirmed that he who had never been skilled with his tongue could never obtain any advantage from conversation, even when reason was on his side. He propped up his aching body and slowly rose from the snowy ground. He walked over to Su Li and put him on his back, then once again began making his way into the distance.
By the time he reached the human town, the sky had already turned pitch-black. Fortunately, the wall blazed with countless torches, lighting up the ground before of the town. This was the only reason his utterly exhausted self avoided tripping on the protrusions of ice on the road.
This was an exceptionally crude, yet incredibly firm little town. To be more precise, this was the furthest military stronghold of the Great Zhou Army's Northwest division. There was no such thing as a curfew in this military stronghold, but if they wanted to enter the stronghold, they would have to undergo a very exhaustive process of inspection. It must be known that other than the most daring of adventurers, ordinary commoners would rarely appear in this place.
As they were being searched, Chen Changsheng was extremely worried that Su Li would get angry. The entire time, he kept anxiously looking over, but he didn't think that over the entire search, Su Li acted extremely obediently, just like a real disabled person.
The soldier in the stronghold began to ask his routine questions. Chen Changsheng had no customs document to take out, nor did he have any evidence of his journey. He was just about ready to admit his identity and have the military send someone to pick him up until he suddenly saw Su Li shaking his head in a mysterious manner. The eyes covered by the rag held a resolution that was difficult to oppose.
Su Li took out two custom documents from somewhere. They were two perfect, absolutely flawless custom documents. This perfection even included the shabbiness of the documents. In brief, there was nothing suspicious about it. The soldier's critical gaze took note of the pair as he listened to Su Li's answers. With a wave of his hand, he let the pair in, simultaneously reminding them to keep watch over their belongings.
The only establishment in which commoners could stay within this military stronghold was an inn, which, as expected, contained one large shared bed. However, tonight, there was only the two of them staying. The cold and stingy inn owner would naturally not heat the kang too warmly and did not even provide hot water. Thus, even after Chen Changsheng and Su Li and wrapped themselves up in the sour bedding for a long time, they still could not fall asleep.
(TN: For a kang, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kang_bed-stove )
Chen Changsheng opened his shining eyes and gazed up at the oil-stained ceiling as he thought of some trivial things. Like how this inn might have been constructed from a kitchen, or how that waiter being yelled at by the inn owner seemed very pathetic. Then he heard Su Li sigh, so he asked inquisitively, "Senior, you carry prepared identity documents and answered the questions exceptionally, so you should have a lot experience living outside. Why is it that senior can't sleep?"
Everyone knew that Mount Li's Junior Martial Uncle Su Li most loved to travel the four seas, rarely returning to Mount Li. In terms of traveling experience, logically, there should be none that was more experienced than him.
Su Li said angrily, "What are you thinking? Who am I? How could I stay in such a run-down rotten place like this?"
Chen Changsheng thought to himself, previously if you had made your identity known, then we two definitely would not be sleeping on this cold kang. Don't even speak of this stronghold's commanding officer, even the generals of the south would have to immediately send somebody over. This idea, this question, which had always lingered in his mind, was finally voiced. "Senior, why is it that we can't reveal our identities?"
Su Li replied, "Do you know what I'm most famous for? Why the entire continent fears me?"
Chen Changsheng thought to himself, I grew up in the countryside in Xining village. Although I'm well-versed in the Daoist Canon, I know very little about worldly affairs. I only know that your cultivation is extremely high and your path of the sword is incredibly strong. Why is it not respect, but fear?
Su Li's voice seeped out of the icy bedding, causing them to seem even colder. "Although I've killed many demons, I've killed even more humans. Besides Zhou Dufu of the past, I don't think there's anyone else that's slain more humans."
Chen Changsheng was speechless. Senior is narcissistically showing off again, he thought to himself. If it really was this way, wouldn't you be a butcher whose hands were drenched in blood. Why hasn't the Mount Li Sword Sect expelled you out of the sect yet?
As if he had sensed what he was thinking, Su Li's voice sounded out once more. "In Mount Li, my status is the highest, the strongest, therefore, I am also the eldest. The Discipline Hall and those guys on the mountain had long since ceased to see eye to eye with me, but what can they do to me?"
Chen Changsheng was speechless.
Su Li did not continue to expound upon his killing exploits. "I naturally have my reasons for killing humans. Pulling up by the roots, exterminating families; I would never use such crude and empty methods, which has brought me quite some trouble. Therefore, the more people I kill, the more enemies I have. At this point, even I can't remember clearly how many enemies I have."
Chen Changsheng's body became somewhat stiff. This can't be real, right? Then how you could survive until now?
"Very rarely will someone come find me seeking revenge, because I'm too strong. Of course, there are some guys who lose their heads in hatred and even forget about their own lives, their only thought is to kill me!"
As he talked about it, Su Li's mood clearly grew much worse. He angrily complained, "When I wake in the morning, they come to kill me. When I sleep, they also come to kill me. At every moment of the day, they want to kill me. Wave after wave after wave, and the thing I don't get is that even though these guys have such awful standards yet still can never kill me no matter what they try, they still continue to come. Don't they find it annoying? Even if they don't find it annoying, I'll find it annoying, ok?"
Chen Changsheng was even more speechless. To put life aside, those people who want to kill you must have a real blood feud with you. However, you would actually say that they've lost their heads in hate, and that they're just annoying?
Su Li continued, "This is why I rarely stay in Mount Li. Whenever I travel the continent, I've never used my true identity. If you don't want to be woken up on the toilet by some person with a magical artifact, I recommend that you do the same."
Chen Changsheng thought to himself, it should be right that tonight's situation is different from the normal routine.
The room settled into a long period of silence, then Su Li's voice resounded again. Except this time, his voice was no longer that proud or restless, but calm and serious.
"Those people who want me dead are just like a pack of dogs. They don't dare to take action against me, or even dare to bark at me from a distance. They only dare to conceal themselves in the dark, waiting for me to tire, to grow old, or to become injured."
Chen Changsheng gazed at the ceiling, and it seemed as if he could see the grasslands during the night, a lion watching its surroundings, and countless enemies hidden in the gloom. If that lion were to grow old, its enemies would rush forward and rip it to pieces.
"I understand," he said.
Su Li replied, "As long as you understand."
In the morning, around five o'clock, Chen Changsheng opened his eyes and got out of bed. His complexion was somewhat pale and seemed rather haggard, but at least it was much better than when he was escaping through the snowy plains. It was just that his mind was even tenser than when he had been escaping.
Because of that conversation he had with Su Li the night before, he felt like this inn, and this entire stronghold, was filled with danger. At the dimly lit streets and the barely warm kitchen; the figure of a sword which brought death could appear at any moment.
For an expert at Su Li's level, his enemies or foes would also be extremely frightening. Chen Changsheng knew that he was not their opponent, so he could only hope to see through their concealment and make his preparations for battle beforehand. He also knew that he could possibly be too sensitive, but in matters of life and death, he had always felt that there was no such thing as being too sensitive or cautious.
The porridge was watery and flavorless while the steamed buns were like rocks. As they sat by the table and ate breakfast, he silently kept careful watch over his surroundings. He was less like a tourist and more like a bodyguard. On the other hand, Su Li acted very naturally, as if he didn't care.
Chen Changsheng silently thought to himself, that cold and stingy inn owner was rather normal, but there are some problems with that waiter that was yelled at last night. In this place with such poor living conditions, how could there be such a warmhearted waiter? Last night when we checked in, that waiter even took the initiative to ask if we wanted some hot water, but in the end received an earful from the inn owner.
At this moment, that inn owner randomly began to harangue that waiter once again, all sorts of obscenities falling from his lips, and was very hard on the ear. Su Li continued to drink his porridge, from time to time raising his brows, as if this stream of abuse was a free appetizer.
After the scolding came the beating. The waiter seemed very obedient, not showing any defiance no matter how bad the beating or abuse. The waiter ran around, hands around the head, causing Chen Changsheng to grow even more vigilant.
The inn waiter finally ran to their table.
Without hesitation, Chen Changsheng pulled out his dagger.
The waiter had not seen the dagger, and almost seemed ready to run onto the dagger.
If he put away the dagger or inclined it, that waiter would take advantage and get closer.
Logically, if an inn guest were to see the waiter that was so attentive last night about to run against the sharp point of the sword, even it was only by instinct, they would shift the sword, give a little.
Chen Changsheng's breathing grew a little hurried, hesitating on his choice. Put away the sword?
If this was a real waiter, he would have just willfully slain an innocent.
If this was a fake waiter, he would be seeking his own death, and also burdening senior Su Li.
He did not know what he should do.
Thus, Su Li made the choice for him.
Su Li took up the chopsticks in his hand and poked at a certain place on Chen Changsheng's upper arm.
This thrust had no strength, and contained neither true essence nor sword intent.
Yet Chen Changsheng's dagger pierced forward as if it were a bolt of lightning.
The dagger did not pierce the waiter because it was slanted at the very beginning.
His dagger had pierced through the abdomen of the inn owner that had come in pursuit of the waiter.
The dagger pierced so deeply that the hilt could not be seen.
In this manner, the inn owner died.