Chapter 270: Flower Snares The Finch

The footsteps sounded closer and closer, as if they were headed to the kitchen opposite to arm themselves with knives. I slipped into the abbot's meditation room under the cover of the junk piled up in the courtyard. As soon as I entered the room, Zhu Xiaohao sat up and demanded, "Who is it?"

"It's me!” I whispered. “Don't talk, just listen."

With little time left, I kept my explanation brief, clarifying that people were coming to kill him so we had to move quickly.

However, upon hearing these words, Zhu Xiaohao merely arched an eyebrow, dismissive and unconcerned. "I’ve just realized how negative and dark your thoughts are!” he condemned. “These monks are here to pray and reflect. Whatever possessed you to arrive at such a conclusion?! Have you ever seen such kind-hearted thieves and murderers?"

Anger and frustration flared up inside of me, spurring the growing impulse to yell, “Fuck off! Go to hell! I'll collect your body tomorrow!

But before I could lose my head in a fit of anger, the creaking sound of a door came from across the yard, a sobering reminder of what awaited us. It seemed the two had already selected their murder weapons. I looked out the window, Glass Eye and Skinny’s every move visible to me. The delay caused by Zhu Xiaohao’s skepticism had left us in a dilemma since leaving the meditation room was no longer a viable option. 

I drew the knife from my sleeve and stood against the door, motioning for Zhu Xiaohao not to speak. The best plan I could come up with in such a short time was to lie in wait until they entered the room, kill off one and leave the other to chance!

This was my first time killing someone. My heart pounded exceedingly fast as if it would explode. The deafening sound of my heartbeat filled my ears and I wondered if the others could hear it as well. With the mounting pressure, I deliberately slowed down my breaths, hoping to stabilize my mind.

Outside, their footsteps stopped at the door and Glass Eyes’ whispers floated into my ears. "Four, you go in and take care of him. I’ll be on the lookout outside."

"Wait a minute, did someone just run over the roof?" Skinny looked up and thought out loud.

Glass Eye burst into laughter, "What nonsense are you talking about? Look at how high the roof is! Besides, it’s been raining all day so the tiles are slippery. Who the hell could do something like that?"

"I’m probably just overthinking it," nodded Skinny.

At this point, the reality of our situation finally dawned upon Zhu Xiaohao. Wide-eyed, he stared outside, sobs threatening to spill from his lips. Right then, he stumbled out of bed and limped towards me but I quickly pushed him away for fear his movements might make a sound.

Stubborn as always, Zhu Xiaohao blocked the door with his shoulder and begged me for help.

Only a moron could come up with that useless idea! The door to the meditation room could hardly be called sturdy. All the perpetrators had to do was pierce a hole with their knives from the other side. I gave Zhu Xiaohao another hard push and ordered him to stay in bed but he remained motionless, stubborn as a mule.

Suddenly, a heavy kick crashed into the door. Zhu Xiaohao’s rotund body trembled like a leaf, silent tears sliding down his cheeks like hot wax on a candle. 

"There’s something against the door!” cried Skinny. “Damn it! They’ve seen through our disguise!"

The door shook vehemently once more and I gulped, bracing myself for impact. As soon as Skinny broke into the room, I would plunge my knife into his throat. But I never expected Zhu Xiaohao to reach for my clothes, gesturing for me to help with obstructing the door.

Before either of us could react, the door fell open with a loud bang, knocking Zhu Xiaohao and me to the ground together. Skinny stood at the door, squinting in the dark for some time. "What are the two of you doing in the same room? I see! Looks like you’ve got some pretty special hobbies eh!" he mocked.

I couldn’t help but curse at my misfortune for taking on such a loser for a teammate. 

I stood up and yelled, "Do you know who you’re talking to?!"

"I don't!” laughed Skinny. “But I do know you’re about to die!"

I stood my ground, knife in hand as I swept my gaze across the vital points on his body, my throat as dry as a desert. Zhu Xiaohao grabbed my trouser leg from below. I soon heard a soft trickle and the smell of urine permeated the room. It turned out that this guy was so frightened he peed his pants! 

At this moment, I noticed movement behind Skinny. A mysterious man in a white trench coat wrapped his arm around Glass Eye’s neck, his other hand covering the perpetrator’s mouth. Glass Eye struggled desperately, legs kicking in the air and eyes wide in disbelief, though his actions resembled a mouse fighting a cat. 

Song Xingchen had come to rescue me! I was ecstatic at his timely arrival.

Without making the slightest noise, Song Xingchen dropped Glass Eye to the ground, the ease in which he dealt with the man a clear indication of his skills.

I remember reading that one of the ancestors of the Song family, Song Buping, the number one constable in ancient Guangdong and Guangxi, had once invented a set of silent assassination techniques–Flower Snares The Finch. The move Song Xingchen had just used was that exact technique!

Meanwhile, Skinny was still glaring at me, completely unaware that his accomplice was dead. 

In an attempt to buy myself more time, I said, "Dage, before I die, can I at least know your name?"

"Good boy, looks like you know your place eh!” sneered Skinny. “Then I’ll show you some mercy and tell you what you want to know! Ever heard of the 116 case that caused a stir in the entire province? I’m the man behind it! All right, you can set your mind at ease and gladly go on your way!"

Right when he raised his knife, Song Xingchen emerged from behind. By the time Skinny realized the hostility aimed at him, it was too late.

Song Xingchen grabbed Skinny’s wrist and overturned him while he remained crouched, clamping the “monk’s” bald head with his right thigh, hand covering his mouth. A quick jab to the acupuncture points on Skinny’s wrist and his entire body was paralyzed!

Much like a fly caught in a Venus flytrap, Skinny could no longer move or speak. His face turned so red it was almost purple, veins throbbing on his forehead and eyes bulging out of their sockets. Eventually, he began to froth at the mouth…. 

When Skinny’s body fell limp, Song Xingchen carefully supported his weight, making sure there wasn’t the slightest sound when the body landed on the ground. What a unique assassination technique! From Song Xingchen’s display of skill, I was certain this wasn’t his first kill.

“A timely entrance indeed!” I praised.

"Young master, are you mocking me?” came Song Xingchen’s cold voice. “In fact, I’ve been on the roof for a long time."

"Song Yang, who are you talking to?" Zhu Xiaohao looked around the room in terror.

Right now, the room was shrouded in darkness as the lights in the courtyard remained turned off. With Zhu Xiaohao’s ordinary visual perception, it was impossible to see anything. Having grown up in a city with severe light pollution, this might be his first experience of pure darkness or for lack of a better word, pitch-black.

However, darkness didn’t have the same effect on Song Xingchen and my vision. Like me, Song Xingchen’s pupils were divided into three layers and could expand beyond ordinary human standards in the dark. He too had the legendary Cave Vision! 

I swept my fingers over Glass Eye and Skinny’s carotid artery and felt no heartbeat. Just as I expected–they were already dead. 

"What should I do with the other monks?" asked Song Xingchen.

I hesitated for a moment as Skinny’s mention of the 116 case crossed my mind. "Can you capture them alive?"

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