Barking Up the Wrong Tree – Just Follow Me
The imperial court forbade civilians from possessing arrows. So accordingly, the twenty equestrians wrapped their arrows in black cloth– presumably. Maybe they didn’t think they’d need arrows to kill two people. After their leader was killed, they took out their arrows and short bows. They could make a hedgehog out of a martial arts adept once nine of them had their target surrounded and received the signal to fire. Today was no exception until I used an unimaginable means of killing one of their members (that was what was suspected).
After I took out one of them, they aimed their arrows at me. One of them tried to fire at me when they saw me approach; only to find his hand was immobilised. His finger wouldn’t obey his command. He then discovered he couldn’t move any other part of his body, either, including telling his comrades to be careful. Knowing the saying “Can’t budge a finger” and experiencing it in its literal sense were two different things. Experiencing it for himself was scary. He soon realised it wasn’t just him who was incapacitated; all twenty of them couldn’t budge an inch. No, blinking wasn’t possible, either. None of them knew what happened. Try as they may, they couldn’t discern what the cause was.
I tied them up using another form of my Night Net Celestial Silk from below. The seven forms were different and used for different purposes. I referred to the seven forms as Seven Sovereign Threads. The form I utilised was Shadow Sovereign Thread, a shadow puppeteer technique.
Speaking to all twenty at once, I said, “Behave now. Don’t try to jump someone from behind while they’re fighting. Gentlemen from the North, if you don’t mind, how about we have a heart-to-heart talk?”
I raised both arms and flicked celestial spider silk from all directions, wrapping the silk around them in varying patterns when I sealed their meridians just before. With a tug, I yanked all twenty off their horses. They all fell in unison, surpassing the most trained army corps. Once they landed, they felt a weight lift off them, and they could speak again. Still, they looked as though they were in despair.
“Who are you people?” I positioned myself in the centre of them and casually asked. Nobody responded, so I followed up: “I only ask questions once. Where’s your answer?”
Surrendering to my threat, one of them brayed, “Han bastard, I won’t tell you a s-“
I maintained an bored look as I gently tugged with my thumb, rotating his neck beyond the safe zone. Everyone could hear his neck crack; his bulging eyes showed him the view behind him before he fell onto his back with a thud.
The remaining members’ reactions told me they didn’t expect me to kill. There were various expressions ranging from surprise, scorn, rage… I was only interested in finding the fearful one. When I found two viable targets, I pulled the celestial spider silk I had on them. Since I sealed their meridians, they were supposed to be out cold. I transferred a small amount of true qi to keep them awake and allowed them to speak in soft voices. The instant I released the silk on them, they passed out on the ground. Among the witnesses, two were frightened. I didn’t bother repeating myself; I just gave them a threatening stare.
“Okay, okay, we’ll talk.”
“We are Beijiang’s Tiezhen Kingdom’s citizens.”
“Tiezhen Kingdom… What are you doing here in the Central Plains?” I questioned.
“We came here with our master for business. Someone from the Central Plains hired us to attack you today.”
I inquired, “Who is your master, and who ord-“
An arrow shot over from far away mid-speech. Judging from the whistling wind, the archer’s arm strength was top notch. I was going to test what would happen if I took the shot with my true qi armour. I changed my mind when I sensed another pair of cold and sharp eyes on me, however. One of them was located in the Southwest; the other positioned himself in the Northeast. In other words, I couldn’t take a flashy approach unless I could ensure I could kill both of them simultaneously.
I stepped off diagonally to give the arrow the slip. I tracked its trajectory after it zipped past. The cavalry fled helter skelter. I finally realised I slipped up: “Shit, I fell for it!”
By the time I turned around, the two I interrogated were already corpses. Yes, the archer skewered both of them with a single arrow! I hurried over to check their wounds. The arrow miraculously pierced their hearts.
“Son of a bitch…” I cursed to myself.
The archer fired two arrows. The leveraged the whistling from the first shot to conceal his second shot. At that point, I speculated he aimed to silence the cavalry in the first place. The more I thought about it, the more baffled I was. They blatantly committed murder in broad daylight in Nanjing as though they weren’t afraid the imperial court would go after them.
Bai Lian rushed over with a broadsword in hand over to rescue me after she finished off her eight opponents, only to see me leading to horses by their reins. Everyone else was kissing the ground. Running her gaze over the fallen cavalry, she asked, “What… just happened?”
Tone stern, I answered, “It was bizarre. I was going to fight them, but they all started fighting each other. Maybe they weren’t happy with the shares or something.”
Before I could elaborate any further on the story, General Manager Bai had an earnest think then revealed a look of astonishment and acceptance: “Ming Feizhen, you really are a plague.”
‘… No comment. Heavens, say ‘motherfucker’ for me!’
General Manager Bai and I called for Shuntian Prefecture’s forces and told them who we were. I didn’t need to let them know I was Liu Shan Men’s head constable – I wouldn’t be able to run, otherwise. Their leader personally made a trip when I told them General Manager Bai asked for them. They let us go after finding out we were working under His Majesty’s direct orders. All of our assailants were taken away.
Neither General Manager Bai nor I uttered a word. We mounted the cavalry’s horses and sped off to Wuhua County.
Perhaps we underestimated the target. They were able to transport valued goods from the imperial palace as though it wasn’t even guarded. Therefore, we could conclude they totally disregarded the law and thought highly of themselves. They had no restrictions on what they’d do, and they wielded enough power to be troublesome. I never imagined Beijiang would be involved, having said that. Beijiang and the Central Plains were facing enormous tension and hostility between each other. Not even the Western Region and Central Plains were so hostile. Yet, they assisted someone from the Central Plains.
“Just who is this Cao Shangfei fellow?” I wondered.
General Manager Bai was obviously irate after the ambush. She smacked her horse incredibly fiercely. I asked, “General Manager Bai, you did not get hurt, so why are you so mad?”
“What law states I can only be angry if I’m hurt?” rhetorically asked General Manager Bai, frowning and speaking in a fiery tone. “There are two things I hate most. I hate assholes who disturb the palace in the imperial palace, and I hate scum who kill their comrades. They committed both atrocities. I can’t forgive them!”
Night had fallen by the time we reached Wuhua County. General Manager Bai didn’t rest; she rode off. Once she arrived at her destination, she brushed the front of her robe aside to dismount in a suave fashion.
We were at a large, but ordinary, abode. Appearance-wise, it was the same as any ordinary house. On the plaque was “Feiyun Hall”, the name of the underground fighting martial arts school. For some reason, the text gave off a familiar vibe.
General Manager Bai knocked on the door. The two of us were focused on what was in front of us, thereby not noticing the runt around and watching us closely.
*Tiezhen Kingdom – Lit. Iron Truth/Absolute Truth Kingdom. It’s a fictional kingdom.