“This humble one is only a messenger stationed at Jiangnan. He would not have the right to meet the boss. He has only heard my seniors mention him in passing. This humble one heard the boss misses you ever since you went your separate ways at Shaolin Temple, and you decided to stop involving yourself with the pugilistic world. He often laments a talented hero has left the pugilistic world.”
Ling Xuan impressed me with his smart looks and ability to adapt on the fly. He was also able to maintain the same smile he greeted customers with whilst responding to an important question, even cackling.
“Had Mystery’s Fu Xiang not reported back to our boss, we never would have imagined having the honour of meeting you again. Our master also told us to remember the verbal code, stating you would soon visit.”
The boss of League of Assassins had five generals and twelve deputy generals under his banner. They and their subordinates formed his network capable of keeping tabs on everything happening in the world. The master administrated the assassin in the capital and Jiangnan. Jiangnan was the hardest place for them to survive due to the presence of the Seven Champion White Princes. For them to still be in operation in the area and turn orthodox sects’ members, such as Jia Yunfeng, into their members proved they were not to be taken lightly.
During my time leading Night Fortress, I struck up a friendship with Ling Xuan’s master. I was surprised he still remembered me after all those years.
The boss of League of Assassins was known as the four factions’ most mysterious individual as he never revealed himself. Shifu mentioned him during my childhood. According to what I remembered, the boss wore a smile as mysterious as he was, yet I already met him three times. I met him once as Lord San Shen, once as the master of Night Fortress and the other time was when I was younger. The boss didn’t remember meeting me in my childhood.
I was sure Fu Xiang would report back to their headquarters after he discovered Ming Feizhen and Night Fortress’ master was one and the same person. Subsequently, I was aware the boss would assign some surveillance team or teams to me. The Emperor Chengkong Incident took place some time ago. If League of Assassins’ Jiangnan branch were still oblivious I had returned to the pugilistic world, they should pack up their circus and retire.
One of the reasons I refused to take action thoughtlessly was their surveillance… The unorthodox factions’ in the pugilistic world were intricately intertwined. If you plucked one string, you would set off a cascade of other consequences. If I was too flamboyant, the martial world would be engulfed in anarchy again.
I silently mourned I couldn’t keep it all under wraps in the end. My name was going to be mentioned in the martial world again since the boss gave the command to mark me… Years of living in seclusion all washed away because I wasn’t careful enough. As soon as I appeared, Lord San Shen put away Mystery during their operation in the capital. Someone perceptive enough was bound to link Night Fortress’ master and Lord San Shen together. If I didn’t watch myself, the world would find out all of my identities soon enough.
“Let your master know I’ve heard from you and that I will pay him a visit.”
Ling Xuan, elated, responded, “Consider it done, Master!”
Ling Xuan was the type who was unlikely to ever meet any of the five generals. Since I entrusted him with my message, he had the chance to put an accomplishment to his name. That was why he was delighted.
“You truly are one of a kind. We have always been secretive and struggled to locate you, yet you managed to identify us straight away. This humble one has seen many famous individuals of the pugilistic world on rainy nights such as this. It would take them months to find us, yet you found us in one glance and identified this humble one as part of them. That is a first.”
“You lot run inns as if it’s your main occupation. If I can’t identify you from the way you set things up, your boss would’ve caught me, at least, five hundred times.”
Ling Xuan froze for a second: “It is amazing to hear you say Boss would catch you five hundred times. People wish they could meet Boss. If they could, they would be considered among the greatest in all the land. It is absurd to think Boss would let someone escape once he caught them, so a second capture is unthinkable.”
I have to say, Ling Xuan’s flattery rendered me uncomfortable…
“Enough with the tripe. I have business to discuss with you.”
Ling Xuan instantly switched to a courteous look: “This humble one shall answer anything as long as he knows.”
“Good. Now, since you use this town as a base, surely catch wind of news in the North and South.”
“League of Assassins would like to think they know the majority of major and minor affairs in Jiangnan.”
“Evil Spirits has shown up in Jiangnan…”
Reacting surprised, Ling Xuan responded, “Few in Jiangnan have learnt of it, yet you already know?!”
‘It wasn’t me who found out. It was the Emperor’s Entourage that found out…’
“I’ve never questioned League of Assassins’ ability to collect information. Bring me a report on what you know late at night.”
“Of course, of course. Would you like to meet our branch leader?”
“I don’t want to see outsiders in case anyone suspects me. Don’t let anyone besides your boss know I dropped in.”
Ling Xuan could definitely see the boss since I gave the specific order. Ecstatically, he replied, “Right, right, right! This humble one shall go and write the report now.”
“Also, aren’t you going to ask what’s going on when so many of us are here?”
“This humble one will not pry into what he should not know.”
I smiled: “You’re a wise one. They’re my subordinates. You know what I mean?”
“Of course, of course. We will not make things hard for them.”
I pulled over a short stool to sit. Ling Xuan quickly ran over to wipe the stool and blew it, acting as if he was worried it was too cold for my butt or something. It wasn’t going to instantly warm up, though; he didn’t have Tang Ye’s heat skill. He then chuckled: “Master, please sit. Do you have any orders?”
League of Assassins were polite on the surface but couldn’t care less about respecting customers deep down. I felt Ling Xuan was excessively polite even if he was told to be polite to me…
“You’re very courteous with me, huh? Since when were you lot so nice? I know you usually cuss everyone’s family behind their backs. Did your boss tell you to be this polite to me, or am I just that scary?”
“No, no, Boss did not say anything of the sort! This is all voluntary on this humble one’s part!” respectfully answered Ling Xuan. “Our customer service is split into Heaven, Earth, Black and Yellow. Guests designated the Earth character are to be treated as branch leaders. You see, this humble one would have to risk his life to complete missions for a branch leader, let alone being polite.”
“I remember now.” League of Assassins disrespected outsiders regardless of how revered they might be. The only time they were courteous was when they hosted important guests. I said, “I heard you treat VIPs well. Guests designated the Heaven character are treated as importantly as your second in command. Your second in command can command over a thousand assassins at his own discretion. You all must have it tough.”
“You are absolutely right. Who else besides the Supreme Ten Saints would have the honour of being assigned a Heaven character?”
I grabbed a jug of wine and removed the lute. Before I had a drink, I questioned, “What character am I assigned, then?”
“Hehe, Boss did not assign a character to you.” Ling Xuan rubbed his hands and elaborated, “He said to treat you as if you were his father.”
“Pfft!” There went the wine I just drank.
‘Fuck, man, what am I, the demon king of calamity?!’