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As Ji Han’s present attendant, if Ji Han was unhappy, he practically had unlimited ways to torment him.
Zhao Jiangui was ordered by him to fetch tea, getting to nighttime only with difficulty, after which he remembered that Ji Han had said that he would invite him to see a good show. Right as he was thinking up how to ask, he saw Ji Han beckon him over, despite his lingering anger making him somewhat cold. “Will you take a trip with this Lord, Zhao Jiangui?”
The other readily agreed.
In truth, Zhao Jiangui had mostly guessed this all already. Ji Han had said to ‘let the tigers return to the mountain’ — in other words, to pretend to let Shi Ge and Xu Jingying go, who were very likely to go back and find the Jackdaw Head once they escaped from the Creed. As long as they could keep up, they would be finding out who the Head was.
That was why Zhao Jiangui changed into his night-walking clothes, went with Ji Han to get to the hidden area outside the underground prison, and waited, though he still had some doubts. “How can you be certain that they’ll go to the Head?”
“I’m not.”
“The Head will definitely come looking for them, though.”
According to Jackdaw’s rules, those that failed their missions were destined for death. Shi Ge and Xu Jingying had failed to assassinate Ji Han, then been captured; even if they could escape from the Creed without a hitch, they wouldn’t be getting away from Jackdaw’s manhunt. Their deaths were set.
“All three of Jackdaw’s grandmasters folded here. As I see it, there should be no one left to use but the Head. If they still want to kill me, he can only do it himself.”
The Head’s martial arts were something Zhao Jiangui had heard of before, too.
Jackdaw had once accepted a job to assassinate a wealthy merchant of the Western Regions, but word had come on the wind about that partway through, so said merchant had paid a lot of money to invite several top-ten jianghu experts to sit and guard him. Back then, Xu Jingying had not yet betrayed Emei, and Caned Luo had not yet joined Jackdaw, meaning that Shi Ge had been the only one of the three grandmasters around. The Head had gone out on the mission himself, then accomplished his task.
Zhao Jiangui had met up with those experts after the event, asking them about the Jackdaw Head’s depths. They all had said that he was a rarely-seen expert of bizarre martial arts strategies that was quite difficult to deal with.
Now that the three grandmasters had been thwarted, it would be quite normal for him to be the one to personally act in completing Ji Han’s assassination.
“They know on the inside that they will die, but not everyone is unafraid of death,” Ji Han continued. “That assassin with the surname Shi clearly wants to live.”
Zhao Jiangui was startled. “Could it be that you…?”
Ji Han nodded. “I’ve reached an agreement with him. “I let them leave, and he’ll take me to find the Jackdaw Head.”
“Then you’re protecting him?”
Ji Han didn’t answer, only crouching down suddenly, gaze burning as it stared at the prison exit. “They’re out.”

For the sake of today’s plan, the twos’ interrogation had been postponed for several months so that they could recuperate from their wounds properly. Even with that, though, their injuries were still not light, and they could just barely help each other feel their way out of the secret passage. After gasping for air a few times outside, Xu Jingying suddenly asked, “How did you know there was a secret tunnel here?”
Shi Ge blinked at her. “Did you know a certain someone knows the terrain of the Creed like the back of their hand?”
She raised a brow. “They seemed to have talked with the boss back then.”
“Not only that, but when we infiltrated the Creed, we took a path that they prepared,” Shi Ge answered giddily. “Given my relationship with the boss, it wasn’t hard to get to that map.”
She couldn’t help but roll her eyes. “Damn cut-sleeve.”
Startling, Zhao Jiangui turned to look at Ji Han next to him.
Judging from that conversation, Shi Ge apparently had a close relationship with the Jackdaw Head. If that really was so, then would the Head still want to kill him because of his failure? He felt like there was a huge loophole in Ji Han’s plan, but since the other two were quite close to them right now, he dared not make a sound, forced to touch Ji Han’s hand in the hopes that he had noticed what they had said.
Ji Han didn’t appear flustered, instead nodding at him, as if to reassure him.
Having no choice but to retract his alertness, Zhao Jiangui thought about the twos’ words, then noticed something else — Shi Ge had said a ‘certain someone’ knew the terrain. Someone? Who? Was he talking about the behind-the-scenes person that had hired Jackdaw to kill Yin Buhuo and Ji Han?
To know the terrain that well… it seemed like this person had a significant connection to the Creed. They were likely a member of it to begin with.
Shi Ge and Xu Jingying started moving again, feeling their way across the Demonic Creed’s trail and dodging guards as they fled. Zhao Jiangui followed close after with Ji Han; their lightness arts were quite high, so they weren’t worried about getting detected at all. After coming all the way out of the Creed, their two counterparts stopped, as if to rest.
Zhao Jiangui took this time to explain what he had just noticed to Ji Han. The latter calmly heard him out until the end, but only said, “If that’s true, then the Head will definitely come here.”
“Aren’t you afraid of this backfiring?” Zhao Jiangui countered with a frown.
Right as Ji Han went to reply, the other two got up to move again, so he shut up and said nothing, turning to follow. Zhao Jiangui could only act together with him.
By the time night was almost over and the sky was faintly showing a fishbelly-white, Shi Ge and Xu Jingying finally stopped again upon arriving at a dense forest.
There was already someone waiting for them.
It was young man of about thirty years of age, wrapped up so tightly all over in black cloth, one couldn’t see his face. He appeared to have been waiting there for a long time. Seeing the two come up, he merely turned and said mildly, “I was waiting here ever since I heard word, but you two got here late.”
Xu Jingying couldn’t help but be shocked, looking at Shi Ge. “When did you get into contact with the boss?”
Their guess had clearly been correct; the Head had arrived in person.
Shi Ge laughed dryly. “I…”
Before he could explain, the Head was seen to raise his hand.
“Go,” he said coldly. “Kill Ji Han.”
Zhao Jiangui was alarmed, looking all around in time to see many Jackdaw subordinates hiding in the dark of the dense forest.
Since they relied upon assassination to make a living, their concealment technique was exceptional — he hadn’t noticed anyone hidden around here at all beforehand. This also happened to verify his guess that Shi Ge had had no intention of trusting them at all, and had simply wanted to use this opportunity to draw Ji Han out of the Creed.
It was hard for him not to be a bit nervous. He looked to the side, only to see that Ji Han was quite calm, and actually appeared to be a little excited and impatient. “With two great swordsmen of the world assembled together here,” the other whispered to him, “do we really need to be afraid of these little thieves that can only hide out in the dark?”
Zhao Jiangui creased his brows. “Don’t be conceited.”
“Conceited? If one has the real strength to match, then it’s not conceit.”
Quietly watching the Jackdaw assassin closest to him, Ji Han slowly drew his sword out of its scabbard at his waist. “It’s modesty.”

The Jackdaw Head had obviously not anticipated that in addition to Ji Han tailing Shi Ge and Xu Jingying, Zhao Jiangui would be, too.
Ji Han had spoken correctly; Zhao Jiangui was the number-one swordsman of jianghu, and his own sword arts were not inferior to his in the least. The two of them teamed up left few in jianghu their match.
The small fry were nothing to take seriously. Shi Ge and Xu Jingying were heavily injured, too, leaving none of them their opponents. Only the Jackdaw Head was left — despite his extremely high martial arts, he did not hold up upon facing off against the two of them.
Having wounded the Head, Ji Han raised his hand to send a signal at the same time. Zhao Jiangui then came to understand. “You left people in the vicinity?”
Ji Han didn’t answer him, only reaching out and tearing off the black cloth covering the Head’s face.
That was none other than the face of an ordinary man, some bloodstains on his lips due to internal injuries. He grit his teeth as he glared at Ji Han, who simply looked coldly back at him. “From this point on, the identity of the Jackdaw leader will not be a mystery.”
Shi Ge had also been injured, collapsed beneath a tree. After a few gasps, he pointed at Zhao Jiangui. “You… you’re Zhao Jiangui.”
The one in question coughed lightly. Right as he wanted to say something, Shi Ge cut him off with more mumbles. “I had thought that Devil Ji hadn’t gotten what he wanted. I didn’t expect for you two to be in love!”
“You’re all goddamn cut-sleeves!” Xu Jingying drummed up her energy to yell.
Shi Ge was vexed. “I miscalculated!”
Zhao Jiangui: “…”
Ji Han: “…”

Wei Qi speedily brought his people over. They had clearly been keeping watch nearby, and came here immediately after getting Ji Han’s signal.
Zhao Jiangui came to vaguely understand that Ji Han had never intended to trust Shi Ge from the start. The latter had used this excuse to lure him out of the Creed, but Ji Han had relied upon Zhao Jiangui’s aid to counter-plan and capture the Jackdaw Head alive.
Unable to keep from thinking about how Ji Han had relied on him, Zhao Jiangui felt pleased. He helped Wei Qi sort out the rest of them, then turned to see Ji Han interrogating the Head.
Wei Qi had already tied him up, but still needed to prevent him from committing suicide. After a careful search to ensure that nothing had slipped by him, he sent him over to Ji Han.
Ji Han sized him up, then got straight to the point. “You know what I want to ask.”
The man ignored him, only laughing in mockery.
Ji Han also smiled. “As the Jackdaw Head, you should know even better than I about how some tortures in this world are fates worse than death.”
The leader just looked at Zhao Jiangui. “He’s Zhao Jiangui.”
Said man had a head full of confused fog.
“When did the righteous and chaotic start colluding to this extent?” the Head asked. “Why, Hero Zhao… are you going to just watch as this demon interrogates via torture, and not help?”
Zhao Jiangui was caught off guard. He had been thinking that Ji Han ought to not be violent, instead just scaring what he wanted to know out of him, so he frowned and said nothing.
“How ironic that jianghu still calls you a swordsman of chivalry, when you conspire with the Demonic Creed in secret,” the Head mocked.
Right before he said that all, Ji Han had gestured to Wei Qi, after which he accepted the dagger the latter handed him, then stuck it into the Head’s leg without another word.
The Head couldn’t help but scream as fresh blood flowed from his leg. Ji Han simply relaxed his hand, grinning at him. “You’re my prisoner. What does this have to do with him?”
The man grit his teeth. “You two… you two are weird, I can tell! Why would Hero Zhao be willing to be a demon’s lover?!”
Ji Han flicked the dagger, sending it in deeper, the slightest bump of it sending sharp pain straight into the bones. Seeing the Jackdaw Head suck in a few cold breaths, he frowned a bit, then grabbed the dagger anew, twisted it in a semicircle, and drew it out.
“When it comes to torture, this Lord is an amateur, but the punishment hall set up in the Creed is not a random display.” He wiped all of the blood off of the dagger, then tossed it to Wei Qi. “Wei Qi, staunch his bleeding. He isn’t to be killed until he gives a clear answer.”
Wei Qi sealed the Head’s acupoints to stop the bleeding, then took out medicine to dress the wound. Zhao Jiangui stood to the side, dumbstruck by Ji Han’s words.
He had never expected that Ji Han would do this himself, still unable to associate the title of ‘Devil’ with him. Now that he had seen this with his own eyes, there seemed to be a fishbone stuck in his throat, as he felt that Ji Han should be barred from his position.
Yet, he couldn’t say anything. These three had attempted to kill Ji Han multiple times, so him doing something like this wasn’t at all inappropriate. Even when the Vast Alliance interrogated people, it would inevitably utilize some torture; why would the Demonic Creed not?
The Jackdaw Head looked to be an iron-boned man, and it would likely be difficult to get anything out of him via torture. By the time any hints were, he would probably be already about to fade away.
Zhao Jiangui again recalled what the Alliance Leader had said to him prior to him heading for the Demonic Creed.
If Ji Han ever became as brutal as Creed Lords past, the righteous path would probably attack him sooner or later.
He frowned, knowing that he simply could not permit Ji Han to behave recklessly.
While filled with worries, he incidentally glanced at Shi Ge, and thus formulated a plan. He tugged on Ji Han’s sleeve, gathering in close to his ear without thinking much of it. “No need for so much trouble. Let me try something out, first.”
Apparently, he had gotten too close, as Ji Han drew a few steps back in a flash, his ears tipped red as he turned away. “Go do it, then.”
Zhao Jiangui smiled. When he looked at Shi Ge, his expression changed. “Hallmaster Wei, capture and bring him back, too,” he said coldly. “Lock him up in the cell opposite his boss.”
Wei Qi startled, then agreed.
“I’ll have to trouble you with one other thing, as well. For every cut given to the Jackdaw Head, give Shi Ge two.”
Shi Ge: “…”
“The sooner you talk, the sooner you’ll be absolved, and once you talk, you can be let free to walk — what don’t you all understand about that principle?” Zhao Jiangui sighed. “No other area needs to be touched, just put all the cuts on his face.”
Shi Ge: “…”
Zhao Jiangui paused again. “Actually, on second thought, don’t bring him back for detainment. We can just do it all here.”
Wei Qi was clearly confused, unsure of whether he should listen to him or not. Zhao Jiangui drew his own sword out, then mumbled to himself, “Ji Han just stabbed your boss, so you should be getting two cuts on the face…”
Shi Ge shrieked. “N-n-not the face!”
The Jackdaw Head: “…”
Zhao Jiangui lifted his sword up.
“Zhao Jiangui!” the Head shouted. “I thought you were a man of chivalry! You have the guts to act against me?!”
Zhao Jiangui acted like he hadn’t heard him. The tip of his sword was pressing against Shi Ge’s face. “Two cuts might be enough to carve out a flower,” he pondered.
“Boss, save me! Aaaahhh!”
“Don’t worry. I’m quick with my sword, it won’t hurt.”
The Head grit his teeth. “I’ll talk!”
Zhao Jiangui immediately pulled his sword back. “Who’s the one that told you to assassinate Ji Han?”
Ji Han: “…”
Xu Jingying covered her wounds and cursed hatefully. “Damned cut-sleeves!”

According to the Head, the one that had employed them to assassinate Ji Han was a mystery. Every time he had met with them, they had looked different. He wasn’t even sure what their gender was; all he knew was they were very familiar with the Creed, so they ought to be a member of it.
“When was the last time they had contact with you?” Ji Han asked.
“Around half a month ago.”
“What did they want you to do, then?”
“Look after someone for them.”
The one the customer had wanted them to look after was Elder Wen, who had disappeared during the fight at Paleblue Mountain. They had handed the near-death Elder to the Jackdaw Head below the Creed’s mountain, then had gone off to parts unknown, unseen for this whole half-month.
The holding area was not too far from here. Ji Han ordered for the Head and others to be tied up, then went to grab Elder Wen himself.
The Head clenched his jaw. “I already said all of what you wanted me to say. Shouldn’t you be letting us go?”
Ji Han gave him a weird look. “When did this Lord ever agree to that?”
“Since you’re the Jackdaw Head, you should presumably know a lot of secrets of jianghu. I should utilize you to your fullest.”
“Zhao Jiangui just said—“
“The one that caught you is me, not him,” Ji Han interrupted. “Anything he promised you doesn’t count.”
Perhaps having no other way to counter that, the Head could ultimately only criticize him bitterly. “…Ji Han, I never expected that you would be scum that didn’t keep his word!”
“When have you ever seen an honest demon?” Ji Han shot back coldly.
Zhao Jiangui watched as Wei Qi had all the Jackdaw people hauled away, inexplicably feeling some discomfort. He had indeed promised the Head that they would let them go, so now it looked like he had reneged on his word.
However, right when planned to open his mouth and persuade Ji Han, the other beat him to it.
“They wanted to kill me. It isn’t excessive for me to do this, so don’t try to change my mind. There are millions of people in this world that want to hurt me; if I wasn’t just a little cruel, I would have long had not even bones left behind of me.”
Zhao Jiangui knew him to be completely right. Jianghu’s chaotic path had always been a group of villains that would commit all sorts of evil, with the Demonic Creed being the most enormous influence on it, hence why they were willing to respect the Creed as its leader. And yet, because of this, there were likely countless people that wanted to remove and replace that leader. To this group of predators, what could shock them was only another predator’s cruelty.
He had never once heard of a Creed Lord that was compassionate. Ji Han, a cat that would only hiss, was regarded as unconventional amongst Lords of the past, but if he wasn’t at least a bit merciless, he might get pushed off the stage.
Still, upon giving this some more thought, Ji Han differed from them even further.
Within the Creed, there was Wei Qi, Protector Hua, and others that sincerely respected him. Down the mountain, the family of the Creed members liked him, too. That was not a fondness that could be seized by relying on cruelty. Furthermore, he still had him, Zhao Jiangui, by his side.
Thinking so, Zhao Jiangui took a step forward, mustered up his courage, and grabbed Ji Han’s hand.
“Creed Lord Ji,” he said quietly, “With two great swordsmen of the world assembled together here, do we really need to be afraid of these little thieves that can only hide out in the dark?”

Zhao Jiangui saw Ji Han look at him in surprise, as if he had just heard something inconceivable.
He had thought that the other would be moved, but Ji Han just pushed his hand away gently, complicated emotions in his eyes. “Don’t forget that you and I are on opposite sides of righteous and chaotic,” he answered quietly. “You’ll have to leave, eventually.”
With that said, he didn’t continue to speak with him. In a seldom event where he ignored the gazes of all those surrounding him, he turned right around and strode away.
Dazed in place for a short moment, the first thing that sprang up in Zhao Jiangui’s head was what the Alliance seniors had said to him when he had left Swordmeet Peak a few days back.
He had asked the Alliance Leader whether a war between the righteous and chaotic was inevitable, yet the other had said that everything required would rely on his own actions. At the time, he had had no idea what the old Leader had meant, but now, he seemed to have a faint understanding.
Fights between the chaotic and righteous were bound to result in disastrous deaths and injuries. Following the battle at Paleblue Mountain, the old Leader had likely become deeply aware of that fact; if Ji Han maintained the status quo and didn’t alter the Creed, the Alliance was certain to not attack it.
Given that he stayed by Ji Han’s side, he would have countless ways to keep Ji Han’s actions in check. Also, if he remained in the Creed, there might be fewer people bold enough to try to harm Ji Han.
Wei Qi was passing by Zhao Jiangui. Upon seeing his serious expression, he couldn’t help but pat him on the shoulder in consolation. “Hero Zhao, the Lord is just having his mouth be at odds with his heart. As I see it, what you just said must have made him horribly happy.”
Just before he finished speaking, Ji Han’s cold voice was heard to come from up ahead.
“Wei Qi, do you want to try getting your tongue cut off for size?”
Wei Qi coughed, hurrying to catch up with Ji Han’s pace.
Zhao Jiangui stood in place, watching Ji Han’s back that carried his sword, and secretly came to a decision.
If he did things like that, Ji Han would remain the original Ji Han.
He would not let him turn into one of those mistrustful, vicious, self-important Creed Lords.

The unknown person had locked Elder Wen up in an abandoned house in a nearby town, and had requested that the Head send people to stand watch. The guards’ martial arts weren’t very high, so they broke in effortlessly — sure enough, the long-unseen Elder Wen was inside.
Currently, he was out cold. Wei Qi went up to check his breathing and probe his pulse, then discovered that he had been poisoned by his own Bone Weakener.
Zhao Jiangui had been fed a lot of that stuff way back when, so he knew that it wasn’t life-threatening, it just sealed off internal strength and made one weaker than the average person. Now that Elder Wen had been poisoned with it himself, that was his just deserts. Wei Qi went to the courtyard, drew a basin of wellwater, then dumped it on him to wake him up, purposefully putting on the appearance of an evil tyrant kicking someone while they were down. “Remember us, Elder Wen?”
It took a long time for the Elder to come back to his senses. He first looked at Wei Qi in some surprise, then turned his gaze to Ji Han, which scared him into nearly rolling off of the bed. “Spare me, Creed Lord, spare me!” he begged shakily for mercy.
He prattled on about some things that no one else could understand; he appeared to be a bit out of it, as no matter how Wei Qi asked his questions, he acted the same. It would be hard to get any clues out of him for right now. Ji Han had to have Wei Qi bring the man back as they planned to return to base.
Zhao Jiangui, however, circled around the building.
It was a simply-decorated place not furnished with much. That one person had presumably taken everything away. He looked all around, then spotted something extremely familiar on a small table.
It was a pair of deerskin gloves.
He had seen similar on Protector Hua several days ago, but these surely weren’t hers. This set seemed a bit more old-fashioned, the design was pretty different, and they were much bigger in size — her hands were absolutely not that big. It looked like something that belonged to a man. Alerted, he picked the gloves up, put them close to his nose, and smelled a familiar, pungent stench.
He couldn’t help but frown.

Mind full of suspicion, he followed Ji Han back to the Creed.
It had been late at night when they had left, but now it was exactly noon. After being busy all night with no sleep, everyone was a bit fatigued, with even Ji Han planning on going to take a nap before anything else. Only Zhao Jiangui, who was preoccupied with thinking about going to find Protector Hua and ask her some things after getting back, was wide awake.
He followed Ji Han to the outside of the other’s bedroom. There were still several maids around, and he had to remember his own identity as an attendant, so he said, “Creed Lord, this subordinate has some private matters.”
Ji Han glanced at him. “What matters?”
Zhao Jiangui hesitated. “I…”
What he was going to ask Protector Hua was a secret. With so many gossiping mouths around, he couldn’t say it straight. “I have to find Protector Hua for something important.”
Ji Han had only been casually asking, but the more the thought about it, the more he felt that Zhao Jiangui was acting suspicious, and had something that he couldn’t say in front of him. He automatically scowled. “You’re not allow to go right now.”
Zhao Jiangui was caught off guard. “Why?”
Ji Han glared. “I’m the Creed Lord. I’m not allowing you to go, so you’re not allowed to go.”
“But I—“
Ji Han pushed open his bedroom door. Zhao Jiangui unthinkingly caught up with him. “I really do have something I need to find her for!”
The other had since walked in. After a thought, he pulled Zhao Jiangui in by the arm as well, then shut the door. “No!” he shouted.
“Why don’t you ever listen to reason?!”
Angered, Ji Han shoved him. “I just don’t!”
Having never expected that the other would push him, Zhao Jiangui stumbled and tripped onto the bed. Vaguely finding something amiss, he turned his head to see the extremely familiar face of someone reclined on the bed, who was looking at him with tender eyes.
He was so frightened, he drew several steps back, almost knocking Ji Han over when he bumped into him, which just made that guy jump in fright, too. “What are you doing?!” Ji Han fumed.
Zhao Jiangui said nothing, merely raising his hand to point at the person on the bed.
Ji Han looked over.
The beauty Elder Sun had sent was covered in a brocade blanket as he sat on the bed, exposing the slip of a fair shoulder as he gazed softly at Ji Han. “Guigui has been waiting for you all night, Creed Lord.”
Ji Han: “…”
Zhao Jiangui: “…”

Ji Han dragged Zhao Jiangui out the door, forcing down his panic. “Why is he here?!”
The other had a similar expression of confusion. “How should I know?”
They went quiet for a moment.
“What should I do, now?!” Ji Han asked, now panicking.
“I have no idea, either!”
Ji Han paused for a bit. “How about I just sleep in a different room…”
“What if he hangs around there and never leaves?”
“He’s Elder Sun’s. You can’t just manhandle him, right?”
The Elder Maid happened to be on duty today. Seeing the two of them whispering outside, she came in close to listen in, then ended up figuring out the whole story. She grabbed Zhao Jiangui’s hand. “Hero Zhao, it is time for me to repay your grace!”
The very next moment, she kicked the door open, then started yelling with a spirited aura of valor, hands on her hips. “Do you have any shame at all?!”
The beauty in the room had not yet reacted before she proceeded to shoot out rapid-fire insults.
Zhao Jiangui watched as the guy’s expression slowly changed, resentment flashing past his eyes. Surprisingly enough, he didn’t start crying after her scolding, just saying to her tenderly after she was done, “Big sister, my clothes are on the table. Could you pass them over to me?”
“He isn’t wearing any clothes?!” Zhao Jiangui exclaimed.
Ji Han took a step back. “…I’ll get someone to change out the bedding later.”
The man sat on the bed while covered in a blanket, a thin shoulder and a section of his arm exposed. Seeing that his upper body was indeed naked, Zhao Jiangui’s gaze automatically shifted to his hands, as had been his habit of many years. Sometimes, he could determine what kind of techniques someone had cultivated from looking at their hands, though he had forgotten that, based on the flirty gait from when he had seen this guy during the day, the other shouldn’t be a martial artist. Moreover, now that the man wasn’t even wearing any clothes, if he looked for too long, Ji Han would probably get angry.
However, prior to moving his gaze away, he actually did see something odd.
The man’s hands were thin and slender, their skin fair, but their fingertips looked to have been stained yellow by something. “What’s wrong with your hands?” he had to ask.
The man blinked, then laughed gently. “If you smoke like I do, your hands become like this.” He then glanced at Ji Han. “Does the Lord not like this? Guigui will change today.”
Ji Han: “…”
Zhao Jiangui: “…”
Hearing that guy call himself that… really made him uncomfortable.
He took two deep breaths. Right as he thought to speak again, the man suddenly looked at him. “Who are you to the Lord?” he asked carefully.
Zhao Jiangui did not answer, nor did the other say more, changing into his clothes elegantly as he got up, not caring that other people were still in the room. Once he had fully gotten dressed, when he walked over to Zhao Jiangui’s side, he stopped, then provoked him in an extremely soft voice. “Do you believe that the Lord likes you? You’re just like me; a pathetic substitute.”
Zhao Jiangui didn’t want to say anything to him.

The Elder Maid heard.
That provocation was way too shameless! She quaked with anger, as she was sincerely hoping that the Lord and Hero Zhao could be together. Truly unable to keep her rage down, she unthinkingly grabbed the one guy’s arm. “Our Lord only likes Hero Zhao!”
Ji Han: “…”
“He’ll never like you!”
The man sneered in mockery. Ji Han was standing beside the Elder Maid, head turned away in order to not look at him out of embarrassment, but the man unexpectedly touched him, putting one of his arms around his, and called out with sickening sweetness. “Milord…”
Zhao Jiangui couldn’t bear to watch anymore.
As soon as he covered his face with a hand, he glimpsed a flash of chilling light, and immediately panicked. Turning and looking again, he happened to catch sight of the man with a short dagger in hand, thrusting it straight towards Ji Han’s ribs.
The latter was too close to him. To say nothing of the fact that the man didn’t look like he had any sort of martial arts whatsoever, he was fastened to Ji Han’s arms — even if Ji Han dodged, he would be slowed for a few steps. Without time to think further, Zhao Jiangui tossed his sword out of his hand and towards the man.
Ji Han twisted out of the man’s grasp and quickly took a few steps back; even so, he had still been cut by the dagger. One hand covered his waist as blood oozed out of it, though it thankfully appeared to only be a surface scrape.
Before he had time to snap out of it, the man had lunged again.
His martial arts were harsh, not the slightest bit tender-looking — his moves wanted Ji Han’s life. The depths of his martial power were enough to enter him into jianghu’s top-ten, making him a rarely-seen expert.
Had Ji Han been the only one around, his moves might have actually hit, but Zhao Jiangui had automatically drawn his sword to block him while Ji Han happened to attack from the side. The two of them collaborated in a seamless, tacit mutual understanding, not seeming like two different people, but akin to a single sword, causing the man to draw back in defeat, step by step.
He retreated to the wall, a wound from Ji Han’s sword on his shoulder. He frowned as he looked at Zhao Jiangui, complete bafflement in his eyes.
“Who are you? Zhao Jiangui?”
The tone of his speech had finally become more normalized; it sounded like he ought to be a young man in his thirties. His previous appearance and affectation must have merely been his disguise methods, whereas this was his original voice.
“That’s me,” Zhao Jiangui answered. Not feeling settled, after a short pause, he added something on for emphasis. “You were wrong, just now. I’m not any kind of substitute.”

When Zhao Jiangui and Ji Han joined forces, not many in jianghu could defeat them.
With the man wounded, Zhao Jiangui asked Protector Hua over, wanting her to remove his human-skin mask. A face that was around thirty or forty years old was revealed.
The Elder Maid was currently worked up, looking like she wanted to go out to the courtyard and run a few laps. Upon seeing the man now, she was startled, muttering in a low voice. “So old… why pretend to be someone like that?”
“Don’t you know?” Wei Qi also muttered. “Men are most defenseless in bed.”
Protector Hua also came in close for a look, then became shocked. “Sect-uncle Yan?”
“You know him?” Zhao Jiangui asked.
“Of course we do,” Ji Han replied, brows furrowed. “Long time no see, Uncle Yan.”

“My sworn father had several sect-siblings, all of whom had been children selected from Creed families to enter the sect by their previous Creed Lord,” Ji Han mildly explained. “In all likelihood, Uncle Yan felt that the Lord position should belong to him.”
Zhao Jiangui nodded. “People that think like that probably aren’t just a few.”
At this moment, he was sitting alongside Ji Han in a courtyard pavilion, fine wine and good food prepared for them, idly chatting with him in the moonlight.
“I just don’t understand,” Ji Han whispered. “Is this position really that great?”
Zhao Jiangui side-eyed him. “If that statement gets around outside, many hearts will not be at peace.”
Ji Han sighed. “Shouldn’t you be going back?”
The other didn’t answer.
The Vast Alliance had ordered him to protect Ji Han. Now that Jackdaw was eradicated and the puppetmaster had fallen into the net, it was indeed time for him to go back and make a report to the Alliance Leader.
“You should go back,” Ji Han repeated in a mumble.
They went silent. A short while later, the Elder Maid came with more food. Ji Han finally smiled at Zhao Jiangui, filling his cup up with wine. “This Lord will not keep you for any longer, then.”
He was about to tilt his head back and down it all, but Zhao Jiangui pushed his hand down. “You’re injured. You mustn’t drink alcohol.”
Ji Han paused, only to see the Elder Maid nod at him, and even take it upon herself to pour him a cup of tea, then place it in front of him.
“Ever since I met you, I’ve been getting wounded every single day,” he couldn’t help but grumble.
Zhao Jiangui laughed loudly. He also poured some wine, clinked it against the tea cup Ji Han held, and gazed at him. “Jianghu is far away.”
With tea in place of wine, Ji Han tilted his head back and downed it, then looked towards Zhao Jiangui, eyes scorching. “I request that you take extreme care.”

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