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Chapter 14: King of Hell’s Passing
The icy cold feeling continuously emanated from the leather sack, into Ah Dai’s body, Owen’s recount of his life experiences had thoroughly shaken his heart. Subconsciously, he decided that he would help Uncle complete his revenge, no matter what. “Uncle, can the last four moves of the Hell’s Sword Nine Techniques be trained?”
Solemnly, Owen said, “No, definitely not. The evil qi contained within the last four moves is really too overbearing. If the evil qi invades your body, you will be controlled by the sword, losing your mind, and becoming its puppet, as a killing maniac. Therefore, you must definitely not exceed your limits and execute the later moves. Ah Dai, have Uncle’s eyes become gray?”
Ah Dai was stunned, and looked towards Owen’s eyes. Indeed, his eyes had already become totally gray, seeming exceptionally strange.
Owen sighed, “This is the backlash from exceeding my limits and using the Hell’s Swords. Luckily, I’m about to die, so I won’t become a killing maniac. However, you must be careful, do not carelessly execute the later moves. Although I have the ability to execute the Fourth Move of the Hell’s Sword Nine Techniques, my energy was not enough to continuously use Hell’s Flash, Hell’s Second Flash, Hell’s Cleave and Hell’s Shadows. The evil qi has totally penetrated my meridians, if not for my years of cultivating the Boundless Life Art, I’m afraid I’d have lost my mind long ago. Child, there are no absolutes in life, it’s the same for the Hell’s Sword. If you use it with kind intentions, then you will be kind; if you use it with evil intentions, then you will be evil. You must understand this principle.” Just as he finished speaking, the blue light on Owen’s face suddenly became denser. There was a change in his expression, as he suddenly let out a loud scream, spitting out a mouthful of red blood that had a tinge of blue.
Anxiously, Ah Dai immediately transferred the remaining true qi within his body into Owen’s body. Owen was trembling all over, seeming to be struggling against the poison of the Holy Matchless Water. After a long while, his heaving chest finally calmed down, but his eyes seemed much dimmer than before. Weakly, he said, “Ah Dai, strap the Hell’s Sword to your chest, quickly.”
Ah Dai was shocked, but the kind him could not bear to refuse Owen’s last wish. He tore open his coat, and used his right hand to strap the sword across his body. Tightening the leather strap, the hilt of the sword laid exactly against his chest. The chilling energy flowed into his body, and Ah Dai could not help but be startled, his true qi seemed to be circulating, surging through his body. The energy that was originally depleted, rejuvenated once more.
With the support of Ah Dai’s true qi, Owen held back his desire to vomit. He knew that he could not suppress the poison any longer, and he was on the verge of death, “Ah Dai, you… you must… promise… Uncle, you must not… give up on… the Hell’s Sword, try your best… and learn… its first move, only this way… can you survive… in this… dog-eat-dog… society. As for… the last… four moves… of the Hell’s Sword Nine Techniques…, if your life force… and holy qi… can surpass… the standards… of the Ninth Stage… of the Boundless Life Art, you can… try them, but… you must… be careful, you must never… face the backlash… from the evil qi. Also, you must not… carelessly provoke… the Assassins Guild, their power… is too… strong, with your… kind nature, you are… no match… for them. Oh, also…, the silver beads… that you… helped me refine… to control… the poison, you must… keep them safe…, although it cannot… cure the poison… of the Holy Matchless Water, if you… get poisoned, you can still… use the same method… to force… the poison together, then expelling it… out of your body. It’s… such a pity! My ability… is not enough, if I reach… the Ninth Stage… of the Boundless Life Art, I… might have been able… to force all… the scattered poison… into the silver bead. After Uncle… dies…, you… must burn… the house… together with… Uncle’s body, … just use… the flame spell… that you have been… practising, in case… the poison… in Uncle’s body… spreads to others… and harm them. Dying here…, Uncle… has finally… come home…. Child, don’t… cry…, Uncle… doesn’t… like… to see… you cry, you… are… a man, you… must be… strong…, Uncle… cannot… take care… of you… in the future, you must… take care… of yourself…, understand?” When he finished speaking, Owen could not help but spit out another mouthful of blood, the blue qi had already covered his whole face. Due to the overconsumption of his true qi, along with the poison spreading throughout his body, and the backlash from the evil qi, even a god might not be able to save his life. After spitting out blood, Owen seemed to look slightly better, there was a slight flush on his blue face.
Ah Dai’s tears had long dripped onto his robes, he could clearly feel, that the life of the Uncle that he had lived with for five years, was slowly fading away. He could only nod continuously, agreeing to Owen’s last instructions.
Owen spat out another mouthful of blood, as he stretched out his now blue hands, gently caressing Ah Dai’s hair. His last flashback seemed to have raised his spirits, as he said with a smile, “Child, do you know? The five years living with you, are the calmest, and most satisfying five years of Uncle’s life. After leaving here, don’t immediately run away, bring all of the food at home, and first hide at the rocky area for 10 days, before going away. The organisation will not let me go so easily, you must be careful in the future. Ah! Right, you know magic, you should at least be at the level of a Junior Magician. If you continue walking towards the West from here, you can reach the borders of the Red Hurricane Tribe. Inside there, you need to find a branch of the Magician’s Guild, and register as a magician. Once you wear the large magician robes, they won’t be able to find you so easily. In addition, magicians also receive stipends, it should be enough for your normal life. Uncle was too hurried when escaping from the Assassins Guild, and did not have enough time to bring along my fortune, you have to rely on yourself in the future. After you return to your Teacher Gliss, you need to spend time on cultivation as well, try your best to practise the Hell’s Sword Nine Techniques, then you will be safer when you explore the continent. Apart from my junior sister, Uncle is most regretful towards my Master who has nurtured me since young. If you have the chance in the future, you can return to the TianGang Sword School to pay your respects, and if you see people wielding the same big swords as you, you must be respectful towards them.”
The flush on Owen’s face gradually became dimmer, as blue blood continuously flowed from his seven orifices. The last remnants of his energy was depleted, and he could not endure it anymore, his whole body was trembling as he said, “Remember…, on the… continent, try not… to interact with… three types… of people, the first… is… people from… the Holy Church, they are… too upright, if they… find out… the Hell’s Sword… on your body, there… may be… bad consequences. The other… two types… are people… from the… Assassins Guild… and the… Thieves Guild. When… you meet… your teacher… Gliss, tell him… I am… very sorry… for taking… his student… for some years, he… must be… hating me. Ah… Dai…, Gliss may… not be a… bad person, but… his reputation… on the… continent… is not… that good either, you… need to… be wary…, do not… tell him… about the… Hell’s Sword. Uncle… cannot… hold… on… anymore, retract… your… true… qi, burn… this place, you… must… burn… this place, and… throw… the corpses… outside, then… quickly… leave, you… must… quickly… leave! I… wish… I could… live… with you… longer! But…, Uncle… needs… to… go, you… must… take… care… of… your……” Before he could utter the last word, Owen, the “King of Hell” who had wandered the continent for decades, suddenly passed away. Even before he died, he still had an expression full of concern, worrying about the youngster in front of him.
Ah Dai’s eyes glazed over as Owen’s hand gradually fell from his face, there seemed to be a huge rock crushing against his heart, and it felt extremely uncomfortable. He did not know how many tears he had shed, and his heart had become fully cold. It was then when he realised, how deep his feelings for Owen were. The Uncle who had showered him with care and concern, imparted a whole lifetime of martial arts and knowledge, now departed.
6th Month, Year 994 of the Holy Calendar, the King of Assassins who had traversed the continent for countless decades, had now passed away, with hatred and unwillingness in his heart.
[TN: not actually the King of Assassins, but it just implies he was very famous/strong as an assassin]
Owen’s corpse rapidly became colder, the poison from the Holy Matchless Water was fully unleashed, causing his body to gradually turn a dark blue color and his face had also started rotting at its seven orifices. There was no longer any trace of life. Ah Dai stood up, wiping away the tears on his face. Although he was unwilling to leave Owen’s side, he remained clear-headed under the stimulation from the chilling energy of the Hell’s Sword. He understood that, Uncle was most worried about him, even before his death, therefore he could not disappoint Owen and he must live on. Only by living on, he would have the hope of avenging Uncle.
Thinking about this, Ah Dai ran towards his room, and started packing the silver beads that he refined and some of his clothes into a bag. Then, he went to the kitchen and took some food, before returning to Owen’s side. He had done everything while still crying, the person closest to him had departed, how could a barely seventeen year old child like him bear the grief.
There was already a puddle of blue water under Owen’s corpse, his once handsome face was now corroded by the poison to the point that he was unrecognizable. Ah Dai let out a howl, “NO——” Uncle had already died, he definitely did not want Uncle’s body to be further destroyed by the poison. With great difficulty, he started chanting the incantation for the flame spell, “ Fire elements filling the heavens and earth! Please bestow upon me your blazing strength, in my name, by thy power, searing flame appear.” A deep blue flame appeared in his hands, as he closed his eyes and clenched his teeth, sending the flame out. The flame drifted towards Owen’s body, engulfing him totally, and under its extreme heat, Owen’s body had turned into a pile of blue colored ashes in just a few moments.
Ah Dai crouched on the floor, bursting into tears. While he cried, he used a small shovel and scooped the blue ashes into a small earthen jar. Closing the lid, he then placed the jar carefully into his bag, and ran out of the house, carrying two bags. The three corpses were still lying on the ground. Ah Dai looked back towards the house that he had lived in for five years, his heart was filled with emotions as he clenched his teeth and used the flame spell once more. Large blue flames flew towards the roof under Ah Dai’s command, and in just a short while, the small courtyard had become a sea of fire. Lightly kicking the three corpses into the fire, Ah Dai ran towards the distance, filled with hatred and grief.
At this moment, Schiel was sulking at home, Ah Dai had openly rejected his proposal, causing him to lose face, after all, his Fei Er was more than adequate to marry that silly kid! He had never heard any mention of a fiancee, and he really wondered how Big Brother Owen was willing to let go of such a good marriage. Until now, Xi Fei was still crying in her room, making Schiel even more frustrated. ‘Bang, bang, bang.’ Loud knocking sounds were heard, in frustration, Schiel snappily shouted, “Who’s that, knocking so urgently!”
“Dad, it’s me, quickly open the door, there’s trouble.” It was Xi Zhong’s voice.
Shocked, Schiel quickly rushed up to open the door. There was an anxious look on Xi Zhong’s face as he panted, “Dad, go and take a look, something big happened.”
Schiel furrowed his brows, “What’s all the fuss about? How can anything big happen in this small town?”
Anxiously, Xi Zhong replied, “It’s Uncle Owen. Uncle Owen’s house had suddenly caught on fire, second brother, third brother and I happened to see it when we were on our way back from fishing. The two of them have gone to call the townspeople for help.”
Schiel got a big shock, exclaiming, “What did you say, Big Brother Owen’s house is on fire? Quick, let’s go.”
When they arrived at Owen’s house, there was only dense smoke billowing into the sky, the fire was already burning to an end. In this small town by the sea, the sea winds blew relentlessly, and along with Ah Dai’s profound flame spell, the house had already turned into ruins.
Schiel stared dumbfounded at the sight before him, and turned towards his second son, Xi Fa who was currently trying to put out the fire, questioning, “Where are they? Where is your Uncle Owen and Ah Dai? Have they come out yet?”
Xi Fa solemnly shook his head, “I haven’t seen them. Dad, the fire was so big, if they are inside, I… I’m afraid, the odds are against them.”
At the same time Schiel’s family were mourning for Owen and Ah Dai, there were a few pairs of cold gazes staring intently at the scene from within the crowds.
“Vice-leader, we have went in to take a look, but apart from the bones of our dead brothers, we did not find the bodies of the “King of Hell” and that little kid.”
The enigmatic voice was filled with hatred, “I’m so pissed off, I didn’t think that the “King of Hell” would have such vitality, even after being poisoned by the Holy Matchless Water, he could still execute the Hell’s Sword Techniques. If I had known earlier, I would have brought your team along, then we would have been able to capture him for sure. The “King of Hell” might have died, but the child should still be alive, quickly, split up and find him. Even if it’s just a body, you must also bring it to me. The Hell’s Sword must not fall into others’ hands.”
“Yes, vice-leader.” The figures disappeared amongst the crowd, and the fire in the courtyard also gradually weakened.
“Ah——” Ah Dai stood on top of the wooden pole, desperately splitting the waves that rushed up, one by one. Half a year ago, Owen had already broke the wooden pole into two, and let Ah Dai stand on it to withstand the waves, training his stability. The waves were continuously split into two as Ah Dai swung his TianGang Sword, his body was long soaked by the seawater as he continued to vent, but the sorrow within his heart simply would not disappear.
Boom, a huge wave pushed the exhausted Ah Dai into the sea, Ah Dai did not struggle, and allowed the huge waves to smash against him, washing away the resentment in his heart.
“Why? Why must y’all kill Uncle Owen, why——” Ah Dai lamented towards the sky, but apart from the surging sounds of the waves, there was no one to answer his question.
Ten days later, Ah Dai gradually recovered from his grief over Owen’s death. Owen’s death had caused deep emotions to surge within him, there was now an expression of hatred on his face. After eating some dry rations, Ah Dai fastened his bags and the TianGang Sword to himself, touched the Hell’s Sword near his chest, and left the rocky area. He determined the direction before walking towards the territory of Red Hurricane Tribe in the West. Perhaps Owen’s death was too much of a shock to him, despite his dumb mind, Ah Dai could clearly remember every single word that Owen had said before his death. It was Uncle’s last instructions, and no matter what, he had to do everything according to Uncle’s instructions.
What Ah Dai did not know, was that Owen’s last words had saved his life, the people from the Assassins Guild had only left one day earlier, after not being able to find his body.
Three days, it was already three days before Ah Dai finally reached the borders of the Red Hurricane Tribe, but, the rations that he brought from home were all finished. After not drinking anything for a whole day, his mouth was parched and there were cracks on his lips. Subconsciously, he entered the city in front of him.
On the streets, there were people dressed in mercenary clothes everywhere. Owen had once described the various attires for the different professions, and he knew that the Mercenary Guild had originated in Red Hurricane Tribe, thus there were large numbers of mercenaries and mercenary groups gathered here. His goal was to find a Magician’s Guild so that he could obtain money for food.
The city was bustling with life, and it was much bigger than the Ninuo City that he lived in when he was young. After taking just a few steps, an aroma of buns wafted towards him and Ah Dai could not help but turn his head to take a look, his whole body trembling.
“Steamed buns, selling steamed buns, fragrant and sweet steamed buns, one copper coin for two. Selling steamed buns… …”
The clear and loud voice caused Ah Dai to unwittingly walk over, the person who was selling steamed buns, was a short and fat man in his forties. He was almost totally bald, except for a ring of red hair, and every time his hollered, the fats on his face would jiggle. There was hot steam continuously rising from the bamboo steamers before him, signifying that the steamed buns were just freshly made. As he saw Ah Dai walk over, there was a huge smile on his face as he said, “Little brother, do you want some steamed buns? My steamed buns are famous far and wide, they are fragrant and sweet, once you eat one, you will want another.”
Ah Dai looked at the plump steamed bun owner, secretly thinking that, his buns must surely taste good, if not, he would not have that figure of his. Steamed buns, were always Ah Dai’s favorites, not to mention that he had not eaten them for a long time, however, there was not a single copper coin in his pocket, so how could he afford to buy the delicious buns in front of him.
Swallowing his saliva, Ah Dai shook his head.
The stall owner had just opened his stall today, and he had not sold many steamed buns yet. Although the silly looking fellow was plainly dressed, one look at the huge sword behind him could see that he was a martial arts practitioner, which martial arts practitioner did not have any money on them! Not to mention just the money needed to buy some steamed buns. Therefore, once he saw Ah Dai shaking his head, he hurried asked, “Why? Little brother, are you unsatisfied with my steamed buns? It’s only a copper coin for two, and it’s best to eat it for breakfast. How about, you can try one first, I won’t charge you for this.”
Once Ah Dai heard that he did not need to pay, his eyes immediately brightened, and he hurriedly nodded. The stall owner picked up a bun from the steaming hot bamboo steamers and passed it to Ah Dai. Ah Dai received it with both of his hands, and with one bite, he ate one third of the bun. He had not eaten such a delicious bun in more than half a month, and he wolfed down the whole bun in just a few seconds of time. The fragrance of the bun flooded his body, and Ah Dai felt much more spirited after eating something, “Uncle, the buns you make are great, soft and fragrant, it’s so delicious.”
Hearing that Ah Dai was praising the buns he made, the stall owner instantly let out a grin, pridefully saying, “Of course, you can just ask around, in the streets nearby, my steamed buns are the most fragrant. Just buy some of them, even though they can’t be compared to restaurant food, my steamed buns are still very delicious.”
Ah Dai lowered his head and glumly said, “I, I really want to eat your steamed buns, but… but, I don’t have money.”
Shocked, the fat owner muttered, “No money and you ran towards my stall? And even ate one of my buns. My buns are only for paying customers to try, what is this? Eating a free meal? Ay— Forget it, it’s my misfortune, quickly go away, don’t obstruct my business.”
Ah Dai lowered his head and walked away, thinking to himself, he would return the money for the steamed bun once he got the money.
“Wait,” the stall owner’s voice suddenly rang out from behind him. Ah Dai got a shock, was the owner going to chase him for the money again? Turning around, he saw the owner waving his chubby hands in the air, signalling him to go over. Ah Dai walked back to the steamed bun stall, with his head still lowered as he said, “But, I, I really don’t have any money. I’m sorry, I’ll surely buy your steamed buns once I have money.”
The stall owner glanced at Ah Dai, and passed him a paper parcel, sighing, “Little fella, you don’t seem local, you must have come here due to some difficulties. Here, these steamed buns are for you, eat them first. It’s not easy trying to make a living, just take them.”
Stunned, Ah Dai looked at the stall owner, and his eyes became red. Ever since Owen had died, the stall owner in front of him was the first to care about him. His heart that had turned cold due to Owen’s death once more warmed up, and in a trembling voice, he said, “Thank you, thank you so much. You really are a good person.” He received the parcel and immediately opened it, wolfing down the steamed buns as he was starving.
The owner also took out a bowl of warm water from his stall, “Little brother, eat slower and don’t choke, come drink some water.”
In just a short while, Ah Dai had finished all the five steamed buns in the parcel. Instantly, his spirit was lifted, and there was a warm feeling in his body as he drank the water. With much gratitude, he exclaimed, “Uncle, thank you so much! You are such a good person.”
The stall owner smiled, “I’m not really that good, just that when I was younger, I was in the same situation as you. I came upon a steamed bun stall, and really wanted to eat, but just like you, I had no money at that time. Luckily, that kind owner took me in, and even betrothed his own daughter to me. Because of him, I am able to live the life that I have now. We had the same predicament, some steamed buns can’t be considered as much. Little fella, where are you planning to go? Why did you not bring any money along, but looking at the sword on your back, you seem to be a martial arts practitioner?”
Once he mentioned martial arts, Ah Dai could not help but think of the deceased Owen. There was sadness in his heart as he asked, “Uncle, thank you for your steamed buns, can you tell me where is the Magician’s Guild?”
The stall owner heard Ah Dai mention the Magician’s Guild and immediately revealed a look of admiration, “Magicians are all experts with great abilities, our town is big, so there is a sub-division of the Magician’s Guild, why? Are you looking for someone there? Or are you finding work there?”
Ah Dai scratched his head and replied, “I guess, it’s to find work.” After filling his stomach, and obtaining information about the Magician’s Guild, Ah Dai sorrowful mood suddenly became better.
“Follow this road and turn right at the second intersection, then walk to the end of that road and turn left. After passing one more intersection, you will be able to see it. The Magician’s Guild and the Mercenary Guild are both there. However, it is hard to find work at the Magician’s Guild, why not become a mercenary instead? There are many mercenary groups in the city that are recruiting now, and the pay is pretty good, you get a few gold coins each month. If there’s no other options, you can always work here, although it may be tougher, I can at least guarantee you a full meal. My wife is looking after the kids at home, and can’t help me out, so everything here is done by me.”
Ah Dai thanked the owner for his kind intentions, and continued on his way to the Magician’s Guild. He must do according to Owen’s last words, and since Uncle had told him to register as a magician at the Magician’s Guild, there must be a reason for it.
After turning a few corners, Ah Dai arrived onto a big street. There were many people walking on the street, and most of them were carrying weapons and wearing armor, with a mercenary badge on their chests. He didn’t have to walk to far before a colossal building appeared in front of his eyes. There was a huge logo of a shield and two long swords on the top of the building, and below the logo, there were two big words*— Mercenary Guild. There were people continuously streaming in and out of the house, and it was bustling with life.
[TN: In chinese, Mercenary Guild is 佣兵工会, so technically it would be four big words, but then it makes no sense in english so I changed it to two.]
Ah Dai curiously glanced at it, but just as he was about to walk forward, someone wearing the mercenary uniform walked towards him. That man was even taller than Ah Dai, and he had puffy red hair. He was wearing brown leather armor with a long sword hanging from his waist, the mercenary badge on his chest was a red colored lion head, and he looked extremely sturdy.
“This little brother, please stay.” The big fellow stood in front of Ah Dai.
Shocked, Ah Dai asked, “Me? Is there anything wrong?”
The big fellow let out a laugh, “Little brother, looking at your attire, you seem to be a martial arts practitioner, are you wanting to join a mercenary group! Our Red Lion Mercenary Group is pretty famous in this city, come join us, the basic wages each month is three gold coins. If your mercenary level increases in the future, there will be a corresponding increase in wages, and you will also receive a part of the remuneration for each mission. This is the best treatment for mercenaries.”
The big fellow spoke very quickly, thus Ah Dai did not fully understand his meaning, and shook his head, “I, I don’t want to be a mercenary.”
The fellow was dumbfounded as he furrowed his brows and questioned, “What? Are you sure, even though you don’t seem like a local, but all the young warriors that come here, all of them want to become mercenaries and gain some merits for themselves. Little fella, if you don’t grab hold of such a good chance, you will regret it in the future.”
Ah Dai continued to shake his head, “I’m sorry, I really don’t want to be a mercenary. Please step aside.”
The big fellow hmpf-ed and muttered, “What a good-for-nothing brat.” As he spoke, he turned around and walked towards the Mercenary Guild.
Ah Dai was miffled, not joining a mercenary guild meant that he was a good-for-nothing? Nevermind, I’ll ignore him, I have to get to the Magician’s Guild first. Hurriedly, he walked forward.
The Magician’s Guild was also a large building, next to the Mercenary Guild, but it seemed much more deserted, there were only a few people who entered and left the building. Just as Ah Dai was about to walk in, a voice came from behind him, “Wait a minute, little brother.” Ah Dai turned around and took a look, it was the red-haired fellow from earlier, and this time he had brought another person. The person was around 1.8 metres tall, seemed to be in his forties, he had no facial hair, and his hair and eyes were both black. There was a glint in his eyes, and he was also carrying a TianGang broadsword, like Ah Dai’s, on his back, seeming very authoritative.
Stunned, Ah Dai merely stood there and watched as the two men walked towards him. The red-haired fellow said, “Little brother, this is the vice-leader of your Red Lion Mercenary Group, he should be your senior from your school.”
Ah Dai was shocked when he heard that the other man was a senior from his school. Looking at the sword hilt behind the man’s back, he instantly thought of Uncle’s words. Suddenly, he realised that the vice-leader of the mercenary group, should be someone from the TianGang School Uncle had once told him that, if he met any people from the TianGang School, he must definitely be respectful. Immediately, he bowed and said, “Uncle, how are you.”
The middle-aged man with black hair smiled, “Little brother, I wonder which senior brother is your master? I am Feng Ping, judging from your age, I should be your senior uncle.”
Senior Uncle? Ah Dai shook his head, “I, I don’t have any master, only teacher.”
There was delight in Feng Ping’s heart as he thought, This silly kid, he must have never seen the world, and only just started wandering the continent. In a gentle voice, he asked, “Then, what is the name of your teacher?”
Ah Dai hesitated for a moment, before replying, “I, I cannot say.” Owen had instructed him to always be careful outside, and he must not easily reveal his identity. He must not speak of Uncle Owen’s name, and even more so, he must not tell the man about Teacher Gliss.