Nightfall - Chapter 54

Published at 9th of April 2018 09:20:20 AM

Chapter 54

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Most of Chang'an people knew that, due to an unknown reason, Old Chao of the Spring Breeze Pavilion was loath to mention his gang's name—Fish Dragon Gang. Instead, he was more willing to call the biggest gang in Chang'an—Spring Breeze Pavilion. Many people conjectured that this was because he had been living in Bystreet 2 of the Spring Breeze Pavilion since he was born. Besides, his enemies ironically thought that Old Chao forcibly established some relationships—among him, his gang, and the seemingly elegantly named Spring Breeze Pavilion—as a way to avoid some vulgar comments while he had killed many people, made much illicit money, and done other illegal deeds.

Spring Breeze Pavilion, situated in the slum of Eastern City, was dotted with dilapidated buildings. From day to night, the place was always replete with all kinds of vendors and idle pedestrians. It naturally couldn't be described as a quiet location, nor an elegant one. Today, however, Spring Breeze Pavilion showed extreme silence, in which the raindrops sounded like thunder and the breeze going past the shabby boards of the pancake pawnshop sounded like the whistling among the pines. Across the streets from Bystreet 1 to Bystreet 4, no sign of walkers in the rain or even cries of babies could be noticed. It seemed that nothing was left in the street but the atmosphere covered by heavy wind and rain, and a kind of homicidal silence.

The distance from Lin 47th Street to the Spring Breeze Pavilion was not too long. Ning Que and Old Chao walked slowly like two strolling tourists, then they soon entered into the dark and quiet alley.

The front of Spring Breeze Pavilion was hidden in the darkness of the night and in the sound of the wind and rain, with only a shabby pavilion being vaguely seen. Actually, an unknown number of enemies were ready to ambush inside or near the Spring Breeze Pavilion on this night of wind and rain.

Ning Que, wearing a black mask, carrying lots of stuff on his back, and holding an oilpaper umbrella, followed Chao Xiaoshu in a well-behaved manner, performing a good role as an assistant. Sometimes, he took over the umbrella held by Chao Xiaoshu.

Chao Xiaoshu kept walking forward, with his eyes looking at the front and his hands crossing behind. Even if his turquoise robe had been largely wet by the rain flowing from the oilpaper umbrella, his light smile still remained on his face, somehow illuminating the darkness outside of the umbrella in the wind and rain.

At that time, only deadly silence could be sensed around the dilapidated pavilion.

For these ambushers, none of them had ever imagined this picture. They had supposed that there would be 3,000 men with turquoise robes. On this rainy and windy night, however, what appeared in front of them were just two men—Old Chao of the Spring Breeze Pavilion and a silent lad.

After a long silence, the hidden enemies on this windy and rainy night were certain that there were just two opponents. Therefore, they stopped concealing their tracks. Hundreds of smileless men from the Jianghu world walked from the side of the alley behind the pavilion with successive footsteps, and a "Pada!" sound uttered from their boots treading on the shallow water, as well as the grating sound made by the unsheathing sharp swords.

Not far from the shabby pavilion, both Old Chao and Ning Que just stood and quietly looked at the crowds of enemies pouring out from all directions. Without asking the lad behind him such a boring question as whether he was scared or not, Chao Xiaoshu gave a wee smile. Lifting up his arm to efface the rain on his face, he directly pointed at a stout middle-aged man in the middle of the crowd and said,

"He is Lord Meng, the head of Southern City. The bald man beside him is Song Tietou, who usually follows Lord Meng. Song Tietou is the leader of the guy that was causing trouble in your pawnshop that day."

As the man in the turquoise robe lifted up his arm, a stir was suddenly made by the besieging crowd on this rainy night. Some strong men with sharp swords, who stood in the first line to show their bravery to their superiors, had slightly stiff expressions on and then they all subconsciously took a step back. Ning Que, standing behind Chao Xiaoshu, quietly watched the scene. It helped him not only roughly know about the Fish Dragon Gang's status and influence in the dark world of Chang'an, but also to know about the deterrence that the five words—Spring Breeze Pavilion Old Chao—had in the heart of these men from the Jianghu world.

Without ridiculing his opponents, Chao Xiaoshu just laughed. Then, pointing at a lanky man inside the crowd at the eastern side, he said, "This is Junjie, the leader of Western City. He also has a few fellows and actually, my guys often make contact with them."

Later, looking at a small crowd of people behind the pavilion, he frowned and said, "They were the subordinates of The Old Cat who has always been working for the Chang'an Office. The Old Cat was abhorrent due to his brutality. Given that his sister-in-law was the concubine of the army counselor of the Chang'an Office, I just pay some respect for him.

"Those men, who retired from the defense of the city gate and have mastered some Kungfu, would be trouble for us. What's worse, the gate guards invariably dislike me because I don't have to pay tribute to them for my several freight routes. If I killed these men here tonight, I am not sure whether the city gate army would be stupid enough to keep disturbing me."

On this windy and rainy spring night, hundreds of famous people in Chang'an gathered around the Spring Breeze Pavilion to kill Old Chao, the gang leader of the largest gang in Chang'an. However, Old Chao, in the face of this situation, introduced the figures seen tonight to Ning Que in a gentle, detailed, patient, and even confident tone.

Ning Que lowered his voice and said, "You can make some introductions, but don't introduce me. These people are all powerful in the underworld of Chang'an. How can I survive in this city if they know my identity?"

"After tonight, even if they aren't killed, I guess they all will be very frightened." Old Chao of the Spring Breeze Pavilion, with his hands crossed, looked at the crowds on this windy and rainy night and serenely said, "Such being the case, do you have a single reason to fear them?"

Ning Que, holding his umbrella and looking at Old Chao's back, carefully explained, "I am not afraid of killing people, but I want to avoid trouble."

As the two people under the umbrella naturally talked with each other, eventually the crowds in the rain couldn't bear the disgrace that their opponents had regarded them—influential figures in Chang'an—as nobodies. After several discussions, they forcibly elected Lord Meng from Southern City as their representative.

In such a circumstance, it seemed that Old Chao would be dead tonight. Actually, no one, including Lord Meng, dared to show discourtesy in front of Old Chao if they hadn't watched him die personally. However, Lord Meng had no choice but to come forward this time, because the number and force of his fellows tonight was the greatest and his gang was suppressed by the Fish Dragon Gang the most.

"These years, all the lucrative and covert businesses are occupied by your Fish Dragon Gang, including the grain transporting, the warehouse shifts, army logistics, and the peripheral defense of warehouses of the Ministry of Revenue. You don't even share some minor businesses with other gangs. For the sake of the emperor, how could it make sense in this world?"

Lord Meng, coldly staring at Chao Xiaoshu, continued, "You should clearly know what the wrath of the public means. In the past, other gangs showed some respect to you due to your seniority, but now, you are still stubborn even when the court intends to crack down on you. So don't blame us for our brutality and ruthlessness."

"The people in the Jianghu world were always poor in literacy, so they only can repeat these sentences over and over. It really made my ears suffer a lot when I negotiated with others in person years ago," standing under the umbrella and looking at the 'voluble' Lord Meng, Chao Xiaoshu said in a low voice with a smile. Naturally, his words were said to Ning Que behind him, but not to their opponents.

Lord Meng's facial expression suddenly distorted as he saw Chao Xiaoshu's disdain of him. With his stick heavily touching on the ground, he shouted, "It is said that there are 3,000 men in turquoise robes, but both you and I clearly know that the number of loyal warriors is just over 200. Besides, your several mighty fellows are now all detained by the nobles in the Valiant Cavalry Battalion of the Yulin Royal Guards. Tonight, I really wonder how you can manage to escape!"

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Looking at Meng's slightly twitching, fat face, Chao Xiaoshu suddenly smiled and responded, "About your first question, I dare say that I am naturally capable of monopolizing these businesses for all these years, including the grain transporting, the warehouse shifts, and the canal transport. No matter if you, or Junjie, or The Old Cat, none of you guys can control these businesses. Even if they were sent to you, you'd not dare touch them.

"You don't have to probe and guess whether I have backup. I can directly tell you that there is no fellow of the Spring Breeze Pavilion around here tonight. Don't you feel strange that Mr. Qi is absent tonight? No need to feel strange. Actually, he and other guys have left for your home. I believe at this time, the Southern City, the Eastern City, and the outer mansion of The Old Cat have already been turbulent."

With that sentence resounding around the dilapidated pavilion, the crowds in the rain suddenly became more tumultuous. They had kept sending people to track Chao Xiaoshu and had successfully besieged him here. How could they speculate that Chao Xiaoshu would lure them as bait while the rest of the forces of the Fish Dragon Gang went to their houses?

"Misfortunes should stay away from family and home!" The men who retired from the city gate defense military reproached, "Chao Xiaoshu, you have gone too far!"

Chao Xiaoshu, with his expression turning a little cold, slightly shook his head and said, "You besiege me in front of my house. Will it be a kind of family-related misfortune if I haven't transferred my family in advance? Anyway, you don't have to worry too much because I will always obey my rules. I am not going to kill you in front of your houses, so as not to break your families' hearts."

After a short pause, while looking at the crowds, he peacefully said, "However, it will be impossible for all of you to have a family in Chang'an after tonight."

It will be impossible for all of you to have a family in Chang'an after tonight.

Such a simple sentence immediately evoked many different pictures inside the brains among the crowd. The five words—Spring Breeze Pavilion Old Chao—represented the guarantee of faith in the Jianghu World. He definitely wouldn't implicate the crowds' families if he had said that. However, on this spring night with a little coldness and rain, their old parents, wives, and children would be rudely thrown out from their houses, and then their hard-earned mansions and pawnshops would be ruined by the men in turquoise robes from the Fish Dragon Gang. Who could accept such facts when it happened to oneself?

Lord Meng's fat face twitched again. His umbrella didn't refuse all the rain, so the twitch shook off several raindrops onto his flesh. Later he said in a cold voice, "Mansions can be built again, but a dead man can't revive. The Jianghu world will be totally changed as long as we kill you, and then Chang'an... will be ours!"

"Chang'an belongs to the emperor forever." Chao Xiaoshu slightly laughed. Glancing down the official sword on his waist and then raising his head with a heart-breaking laugh, he said, "When it comes to killing me, have you ever seen my attack?"

Ning Que, behind Old Chao, closed his own oilpaper umbrella and casually threw it beside his feet. Then he raised his right hand to reach the hilt on his back, diagonally pointing at the rain and clouds.

Chao Xiaoshu slowly stretched his hand to hold the hilt on his waist. The moment his slender fingers gripped the rain-soaked hilt, his turquoise robe slightly vibrated and countless raindrops were shaken into a tiny water vapor, like a misty fog.

The mildly smiling, middle-aged man was suddenly filled with a murderous look, as if turned into another man. The gloomy and cold rain around Old Chao, seeming to have felt something unusual, obliquely and silently avoided him. Afterwards, not a single raindrop dared to touch the turquoise robe anymore.




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