Kuang Tian, Fu Xiang, Yu Ye and Zhong Ning
Path of Darkness is a myth in the martial world. They are an evil myth that betrayed the orthodox sects. This assassination group strictly speaking can’t even be considered a group, because it only comprises of four people, and all four of them are completely unrelated.
Each of them has their own unique identities. They lead separate lives, and don’t even have anything in common. The only one common thing between them is that they’re all powerful fighters among ten thousand men.
The four of them kill people in the martial world as they please without any regards for the law. When the boss of the League of Assassins once saw them together, he suggested they form a group which was named: Path of Darkness.
The group has existed for less than six years, but they’ve surpassed countless other assassins in the League of Assassins in those six years. Kuang Tian, Fu Xiang, Yu Ye and Zhong Ning thus became famous top-tier assassins in the pugilistic world.
Consequently, Meng Jiangnan is a fake, yet not a fake identity as Ming Feizhen claimed since Fu Xiang is Meng Jiangnan, the contact person for members in the capital. They’re one and the same person.
“Meng Jiangnan” or more accurately, the assassin Fu Xiang got identified after just a few words. Surprised, he said: “Master Ming, you really do know everything, huh? But I wonder how you managed to figure out who I am.”
“You’re a careful person, a rare talent. Other people only use disguises when they go out on missions while you use a disguise almost all the time, and then revert back to your true appearance when you go out on jobs. It’s no easy feat to turn yourself into a fatty with double your usual bodyweight. That is why I didn’t realise anything at all.
Fu Xiang looked me with satisfaction as he listened to my compliments.
“You could’ve come into the palace with your usual disguise since not many people recognise it either, but because you tried to be cautious, you revealed your real appearance. That’s admirable. I haven’t met many who are as cautious and detailed as you.”
That’s right, while Fu Xiang looks brash and crude, he’s actually very cautious and detailed. For example, he must’ve come up with the plan when I tailed them and the three groups took turns running circles. Not only is he cautious and detailed, he’s also very skilled.
“Thank you for the praise Master Ming.”
I then changed the topic: “But when you said ‘Fu Xiang Divine Palms’ you revealed yourself.”’
It’s an aggressive style focused on power. I read about it once in the Black and White Reflection. Seven female disciples from Emei were killed three years ago and they suspected they were killed with Fu Xiang Divine Palms. They suspected it was the handiwork of someone in the League of Assassins. After putting all the pieces of the puzzle together, I guessed that Meng Jiangnan was actually an assassin and not a contact-person.
“…… And your name is Fu Xiang. The rest isn’t too hard to guess, is it?”
“I never expected you to identify me through my martial arts. But I don’t care because dead people can’t think nor can they tell others.”
“The four so-called Path of Darkness assassins… continued to commit crimes ever since they appeared during the six years they’ve been around. Committing crimes in the North, South, East and West. They’ve already killed a hundred and twenty one famous people. Among them includes Patriarch Cang and Elder Swordsman Lushan. All the people you guys killed were famous figures. You’ve never refused any jobs and even come after the palace this time.”
Fu Xiang laughed and said: “You sure know these martial world stories very well, Master Ming. It’s a pity you didn’t see through us.”
“It makes sense, I guess. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t you guys. The Black Winds Thirteen Wings wouldn’t dare to pull this off. It never was the Black Winds Thirteen Wings, but you four. Only you four have gall and skills to pull it off. You killed one imperial court warrior after another and are now coming into the palace to pull off more hits.”
I thought about things for a moment and then asked with puzzlement: “I want to know why you came up with this plan to set me up? Why did you insist on getting rid of me?”
“We never wanted to do this. You asked for it, Master Ming.”
Fu Xiang took in a deep breath and then let his qi circulate freely inside his body to recover his internal energy. Those seventeen palm strikes do take a lot out of him, so he needed to recover his qi now.
“The Black Winds Thirteen Wings were just pawns gathering intel for us. Their purpose was to find out how strong the three offices truly were. They can occasionally kill some warriors of the imperial court that they’re confident fighting if they team up.”
The Black Winds Thirteen Wings are cold-blooded assassins that could frighten a lot of people, but they sounded like children when he mentioned them.
Fu Xiang stared at me as if he was looking at a nightmare and pulled his eyebrows tightly together.
“We didn’t take the initiative to go after you; it was just that you were in the way and unpredictable. Nobody knew that the Black Winds Thirteen Wings were the culprits. But you came out of nowhere, rocked up at the Qilin Guards’ main courtyard and managed to identify the Black Winds Thirteen Wings as the culprits just by examining a few corpses on your first day. You also told the emperor’s security detail. The Black Winds Thirteen Wings lost two men because of that. Even I couldn’t remedy the situation. So how could we not be extremely cautious of you?”
“So it was my fault, huh…?”
Yeah, no, fuck you!
You killed them, they retaliated and killed your men, and now it’s my fault?
“That’s not all. You identified the Black Winds Thirteen Wings, causing the security in the palace to tighten up a whole entire level. Even so, we only treated you as a worry, and not a ticking time-bomb, not someone who could affect the grand scheme of things. After that, you followed orders to investigate the League of Assassins, so I set up a trap to lure you in and kill you.”
Fu Xiang’s killing intent got stronger once he got there.
“I just never expected you to be a prominent figure. So much for thinking I’d never make a miscalculation. I never imagined that the great master of Night Fortress, the one and only evil sect in Jiangnan’s martial world would actually lower himself to being an insignificant constable at Liu Shan Men. I was not exaggerating when I said you are unpredictable.”
No, if we’re being precise, for the remainder of my life I might live… alright, I’m not going to mention things which would make me unpredictable.
“It looked like you want to get yourself out of the imperial martial arts tournament so I did everything I could to make things hard for you. I did that to stop you from getting away and to trap you here. I didn’t have a choice. My skills can’t match yours so I had to use my wits and trap you here.”
“Is that why I won all my fights without even fighting? You people are bloody……”
Welcome your fucking mum!
Fucking motherfucker! I got called a plague by people all because of you assholes!!
“Don’t get angry, Hero Ming. You’ve always outdone my predictions, including the divine art you just used to knock that Ye missy out. I consider myself as having trained very diligently daily and possess decent internal strength, but I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to defeat Tie Zhen Divine Marksmanship with a melon seed even if I trained for my entire life. We have another instance here. I struck with seventeen Fu Xiang Divine Palm strikes before stopping. I wasn’t showing mercy, it was that the style drains me of my internal energy. I gave it my all with those seventeen palm strikes, but I haven’t even hurt you at all. All I managed to do was seal your meridians.”
Fu Xiang shook his head, sighed bitterly and said: “I am sixty-two this year. I started training Fu Xiang Divine Palms since I was seven, so that’s fifty-five years of training. I thought I was now strong enough to conquer the entire world, but forget that, I can’t even hurt one man. Master Ming, do you know how mixed my feelings are right now?”
“Who gives a shit about your motherfucking feelings?! You people just have nothing better to do! What did you come to the palace for?” I wore a gloomy look and continued, “Are all your people here?”
Fu Xiang dodged the question. He smiled and said: “Why did you have to sneak into Liu Shan Men, Master Ming? You are working as a constable for no rhyme or reason, and you’re starting from the lowest rank?”
Who told you that? Sixty taels a month is starting from the lowest rank? You make that much sweeping the ground?!
But when I thought about it carefully, my heart beat hard. This guy sure does know a fair bit. He looked into me and obtained accurate information in a short amount of time. With me coming and going here and there, teahouses, bars, eating out at Dongpo, and going to buy wine at “Years Like a Blade”, who knows when I might reveal myself.
Wait, wait, wait. Not even shiyi knows my goal. Surely they’re not that resourceful.
“It’s fine if you do not tell me because according to my reports, you… are doing it for a person, right?”
What?! The man actually knows!
“That person is very important to you and that is why you are insistent on staying at Liu Shan Men no matter the price.”
Hey, hey, hey, you can’t mention it in a crowded place like this!
“Hey! Stop talking shit!”
Fu Xiang scoffed: “I speak no nonsense. I can understand that feeling too. You are willing to accept and respect. It sure makes one sigh. That person is……”
I shouted: “I told you not to spout nonsense!”
Fu Xiang stuttered: “You… fell for Liu Shan Men’s vice-captain, Shen Yiren, right?”
“How did you know that?!”
Huh? Wait. Boss Shen? This guy must be mistaken.
Just when I was thinking that, a slender silhouette landed in the ring gently like a snow flake. Her movements were swift. One jump and she landed in the ring. Before she came over, she anxiously shouted something.
However, when she landed, she was completely silent, completely contradictory to how anxious she was before.
Her skin was like perfect jade, and white as snow. Underneath her sword-sheath like beautiful shoulders were eye-grabbing, stunning huge knockers that jiggled as she moved, showing off her proud personality. She was dressed in a warrior’s robe, yet her body lines were revealed. Who else could it be other than Shen Yiren?
When Boss Shen came over, she appeared to be furious, but once she landed, she was dead silent. Looking at her carefully, her beautiful face had a seductive blush on it.
After a long silence, Boss Shen finally spoke.
“Feizhen,.. what did you just say……?”
It was like time had stopped.
*When Fu Xiang mentioned the trap to lure MFZ in and kill him, he actually alluded to the Feast at Hong Gate which is a historical event that was a trap ostensibly joyous but actually was a treacherous plot. But I decided that putting that in the text would ruin your reading experience if you weren’t aware of the reference and thus adopted just the idea behind it for smooth reading. I try to minimise the usage of footnotes as much as possible.