Before leaving the mountain, Shi Jingzhi buried the two assassins and put on his Nuo mask again.
Yin Ci didn't ask why, assuming that he was still new to the world of martial arts and not used to taking lives.
Once they descended the mountain, Shi Jingzhi rushed into a clothing store and picked out a few cheap outfits. He then called Yin Ci over and gestured at him.
"Not bad," Shi Jingzhi said, satisfied with the fabric. "Have the embroiderer make some adjustments, and they can be used as our sect's clothing."
His cheap master seemed to have already made arrangements, as the farmhouse they were staying at had an embroiderer. The woman quickly added some embroidery to the fabric, and the "sect clothing" was ready for only ten copper coins per piece. The style was similar for both, but Yin Ci's had fewer embroidered edges and looked somewhat passable.
"You should change into it too. We'll be leaving soon," Shi Jingzhi said, disappearing into the inner room and quickly changing into his new clothes.
He seemed to be in a good mood. When his old clothes had become tattered rags and the ones given to him by Madam Li didn't quite fit, Shi Jingzhi had a rather beggarly appearance.
But now, with his new clothes and that face of his, he managed to exude a bit of a superior air.
"Where are we going?"
Shi Jingzhi rolled up his sleeves and said,"To register our sect at the Yueshui Bureau. If you want to enter the tomb, you either need to have a name in the martial world or belong to a legitimate sect, like the Golden Jade Gang."
Yin Ci sighed and said, "You took me on as a disciple just to pad the numbers, didn't you?" Even a three-year-old knows that a single person cannot form a sect. Yin Ci had suspected as much when Shi Jingzhi had first proposed taking him on as a disciple.
"No, no, no," Shi Jingzhi hurriedly explained. "You have excellent aptitude for martial arts. The tomb is dangerous, and if you don't want to go in, you can wait outside. Master won't force you."
Despite not having had a meal to accept him as a disciple, he had already started to refer to himself as "Master".
Seeing the nervous look on the other person's face, Yin Ci couldn't help but want to laugh - this person gets flustered so easily, yet insists on acting like a senior, it's quite amusing.
If he wants to use the name of a sect to enter the tomb, it seems that this person is not well-known in the martial arts world, which is why Yin Ci has no impression of him.
Looking at his strange internal strength, he doesn't seem like a master from any particular school... just in case, Yin Ci decides to take his pulse when he has the chance. If this person spits blood for no reason, it's a good opportunity to see what's wrong with him.
Yin Ci borrowed a stove from the farmhouse and made a few savoury flatbreads. Shi Jingzhi had no intention of treating him like a servant, and had already taken care of the carriage and belongings himself before coming to get him.
The two of them got on the carriage. Shi Jingzhi still wore that poor quality Nuo mask, rolled up the blood-stained flag, and immersed himself in his own thoughts.
After half a day, he finally squeezed out in a low voice, "I really didn't use you just to form a sect. Most people wouldn't be able handle the commotion on the mountain. You're not too old, talented, and upright, which is suitable."
Yin Ci almost laughed out loud, "Upright?"
Shi Jingzhi said, "I have a keen eye for people."
Yin Ci's gaze had a hint of sympathy - what a good young man, it's a pity he lost his sight at such a young age.
To prevent him from continuing to dwell on it, Yin Ci threw out a reassuring response, "I have no relatives or friends, and nowhere to go. Little Master has extraordinary looks and is willing to teach martial arts for money. This is a good thing that fell from the sky."
Shi Jingzhi was silent for a while, and cautiously said, "Um, can you not call me Little Master? It sounds like a monk."
Yin Ci replied, "…Little Shizun."
Shi Jingzhi: "..."
Yin Cining was flexible and understanding: "Shizun."
Shi Jingzhi was deeply moved: "Aye."
Once he started talking, he couldn't stop. In less than half an hour, Shi Jingzhi had revealed everything about himself.
According to him, his family had some background in the martial arts world, but they gave it up to pursue business in Ye City.
He was second to last in his family and considered the least successful, but his martial arts skills were slightly better. Fortunately, his older brother inherited the family business early on, so no one paid much attention to him and he was free to run around.
Translated, it meant: Our sect has no historical background, and as a master, I'm just a novice. But my family is not poor, and I can afford to pay you two taels of silver every month without fail.
Yin Cining didn't believe a word of it, but he had to pretend to be sincere and replied: "Mm-hmm."
"I heard from Madam Li that your name is Yin Ci - doesn't sound like a name from a mountain village," he said.
Yin Ci replied, "My grandfather gave me this name. He was educated and even taught me how to read."
"Well, being able to read will definitely come in handy," he said.
As they traveled, Shi Jingzhi was full of energy and enthusiasm and talked incessantly along the way. Yin Ci's head was buzzing by the time they arrived Qizhou.
As soon as the carriage stopped, Yin Ci stepped out and said, "Master, the meal hasn't been prepared yet. I would like to go to the market to buy ingredients."
Shi Jingzhi was touched and immediately took out some money. "Alright, I'll wait for you over there," he said, pointing to a nearby courtyard.
Demon Lord Yin took the money and ran off, disappearing into a dark alley. Once the sound of footsteps faded away, he slowly walked out.
Yin Ci was not easily annoyed by distractions, even when Shi Jingzhi was being particularly noisy. He wasn't in a rush to establish a deep master-disciple relationship with him either.
There was only one reason for this - the Red Hook Sect had sent ten assassins after him. Shi Jingzhi had taken care of two, but the remaining eight were dedicated enough to follow him all the way to Qizhou.
The two that Shi Jingzhi had taken care of were probably the most skilled among the group. The others knew that a direct confrontation would not work, so they were likely to resort to cunning tactics.
Since they were going to strike in secret, following the Red Hook Sect's usual methods...
As Yin Ci walked through the dimly lit alley, he suddenly stopped.
Just as he furrowed his brow, five steel needles came at him from different angles, piercing him instantly. The needles were coated with a powerful anesthetic, enough to knock out an entire wild boar.
Yin Ci collapsed to the ground, hitting the stone pavement hard. There was still a hint of surprise in his eyes. The assassins wasted no time.
They supported Yin Ci on their shoulders, pretending to take care of a drunkard, and dragged him to an empty courtyard. Once inside, they swiftly removed his "sect uniform" and plunged a knife into Yin Ci's chest, twisting the blade half a turn.
With a few spluttering sounds, his beating heart was crushed, and blood gushed out like a fountain.
There were many strange and crooked methods in the martial world, including the Turtle Breath Feigning Death technique. But if the heart was crushed, even a great deity could not save him.
This set of techniques was executed flawlessly, leaving no trace on the outside and no chance of survival on the inside.
Yin Ci lay silently, his body forming a pool of crimson blood. The assassins paid no further attention to the corpse and instead gathered in a circle, with one person sticking a fake skin onto his face.
"Take a good look at this person's eyes and eyebrows, and adjust that fake skin. Remember, he has no internal strength, so don't reveal any flaws."
"Don't rush to change clothes, I'll go get his shoes."
"Be careful. That wandering doctor who stole the jade bead is definitely not a simple person. Ordinary poisons won't work, but I have a colorless and tasteless one - is there anything else we missed?"
"There's a burn on the wrist," a voice interjected.
"Wrap it up with a cloth, as if it's been bandaged." The disguised assassin replied, but after a while, he felt something was off - the voice sounded a bit unfamiliar.
The group of assassins slowly turned their heads and looked at the "corpse" standing in a circle with them. Yin Ci stood there with a smile, his inner garment stained red with blood.
The quality of the demon cult's assassins was top-notch, and no one wasted time being shocked. The courtyard was instantly filled with flashes of knives and swords.
Yin Ci didn't immediately make a move. He stood barefoot, swaying back and forth in the midst of the flashing blades, as if he was provoking them.
The assassins tried every trick in the book, but couldn't touch a single hair on his head.
Yin Ci swayed for half an incense stick's worth of time, then suddenly raised his hand and flicked his finger across the blades. The assassins' blades tangled together, slicing towards each other, and in an instant blood sprayed everywhere.
Only the one who had disguised himself was still standing.
He looked towards the "young mountain dweller" in the pool of blood, his sword suspended in mid-air, a hint of fear flashing in his eyes.
This man had accurately picked out the flaws of the others and executed a beautiful plan to use their own weapons against them. Looking at the wounds on the bodies, anyone who came later would only think they had turned on each other, with no trace of outside interference.
"You...you can't possibly be alive," the assassin's voice was dry, and a chill ran down his spine.
Was his initial surprise just an act? If it was, how did he know about the Red Hook Sect's killing habits?
"If you all can really kill me, I would actually thank you," Yin Ci replied with a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.
"I've already tried digging my heart out before. It's not very effective, just quite painful."
The assassin: "..."
"You've practiced the Sweeping Bone Sword Technique? Too bad you only learned the form," Yin Ci looked at the sword in his hand. "But learning is still learning, and it can be considered fate. I'll let you be the 'cause of internal strife'."
His words were full of killing intent, and the assassin broke out in a cold sweat. He gritted his teeth and charged forward with his sword - facing a true master, running away would only lead to a quicker death.
He activated his inner strength and swung his sword with all his might.
The Sweeping Bone Sword Technique was created by the third generation leader of the Red Hook Sect, Sweeping Bone Sword Su Zhi. He was a genius who left behind the unparalleled skill of the Red Serpent Hand for the sect.
However, the Sweeping Bone Sword Technique was extremely peculiar and difficult to decipher. Su Zhi never wrote down the sword manual, so all the techniques passed down were memorized by previous generations.
The Sweeping Bone Sword Technique was rare and mysterious, making it perfect for a last-ditch effort.
However, this person seemed to be able to see the future and dodged even more easily than before, clearly familiar with the technique. The assassin was momentarily stunned and came up with a ridiculous guess - Su Zhi had incomplete meridians and no internal strength. He lived to almost a hundred years old, never married, and who knows if he had any offspring.
Maybe he didn't leave the Sweeping Bone Sword Technique manual to the Red Hook Sect, but instead intended to pass it down to future generations...
But in that moment of distraction, he lost his life.
The man picked up the knife from the ground and used the techniques of other assassins to leave several fatal wounds on his body. The disguised assassin fell to the ground, making a gurgling sound from his throat, "Are you... surnamed Su...?"
"My name is Yin Ci, not Su Ci," Yin Ci smiled, regardless of whether the other party understood or not. "Don't learn my swordsmanship in your next life, it's bad luck."
After confirming that the disguised assassin had died, Yin Ci threw the knife back to its original place and put on his clothes - he was very careful not to get a single drop of blood on his clothes.
... Anyway, when the Red Hook Sect investigates, this incident will also be attributed to Shi Jingzhi.
After buying chicken, fish, vegetables, and other ingredients, Yin Ci returned to the agreed courtyard and then froze at the door.
When Shi Jingzhi removed his Nuo mask, revealing his fox-like face, he was squatting among a group of old women, peeling beans. He chatted and laughed with them, exuding a lively atmosphere that almost overwhelmed Yin Ci.
"The Ling Sect and the Red Hook Sect have always been at odds. The Ling Sect steals treasures and builds tombs, while the Red Hook Sect specializes in tomb robbery. It's like water and fire, they can't coexist peacefully," Shi Jingzhi said as he peeled beans for the old ladies, regaling them with tales of the jianghu.
"The Ling Sect used to be stronger, but then the Red Hook Sect produced Su Zhi, and now they're suppressing the Ling Sect."
"Tomb-robbing, ah, they're really lacking virtue," the old ladies said, revealing their missing teeth.
"The Red Hook Sect may lack virtue, but they don't indiscriminately kill like the Ling Sect. They have assassins, and they take on both black and white jobs, but they're hard to pin down," Shi Jingzhi continued seriously.
"Although the Red Hook Sect is troublesome, I admire Su Zhi's abilities."
Yin Ci and the grandmothers perked up their ears curiously.
Shi Jingzhi had a look of admiration on his face, "Sisters, Su Zhi has lived to be ninety-nine years old!"
The grandmothers held onto their bean pods, lost in thought.
Yin Ci: "..."
He walked into the room with a bad attitude, "Little beas... Shizun, I'm back."
"Good disciple." Shi Jingzhi stood up happily. "I've made arrangements. We'll be staying at Aunt Zhang's house for the next few days."
Aunt Zhang waved in a friendly manner at Yin Ci, "Want some candy? Little Shi, your disciple looks honest, just like my grandson."
Yin Ci: "..."
She just said that he lacked virtue.
Fortunately, Demon Lord Yin was broad-minded, and was alright with pretending to be a fake grandson. Seeing the harmonious atmosphere, Shi Jingzhi suddenly leaned in and sniffed at Yin Ci's temple.
"The chicken wasn't killed very well, the smell of blood is overwhelming," he chuckled, "let's put some medicine on it before cooking to get rid of the smell."
Although my traditional style may be slow to arrive, we're here now - the customary dying meal √
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