Chapter 77: How Have You Been
That night, the moon’s crescent was like a fishhook hanging from the sky.
The soft moonlight washed against the cobblestone courtyard like a thin veneer of silver paint.
It wasn’t until she had succumbed to his persistent cravings and fallen asleep, did Lin Si Yao clean both of their bodies. When he was done, he pulled her into his embrace and closed his eyes to rest.
His eyelids fluttered open just a mere two hours later. Lin Si Yao stepped out of the house. Under Xiao Chun and Xiao Xue’s watchful gaze, he disappeared into the ominous dusk in mere steps.
“We haven’t seen each other for a year, how can you still be so stoic?!” The masked man, dressed in full black, perfectly balancing on a bamboo shoot at the foot of Xiu Feng. He faced the rapidly approaching Lin Si Yao. Though his words were polite, his tone carried a surprising amount of coldness, as if he was greeting from the underworld.
“All has been well…” Lin Si Yao was only wearing his white inner-robe, rested upon the tip of a bamboo leaf, keeping his distance. Under the chilly moon, his robes billowed in the breeze as if he were an immortal.
“You’ve changed… Si Ling.” The man in black uttered a seemingly witless statement, along with a sigh.
“Si Ling has passed.” Lin Si Yao’s cold, clear voice cut through the wind. He was now Lin Si Yao, a lowly farmer in the town of Fan Hua.
“That day… I never would have guessed you were still alive.” The man in black stared at Lin Si Yao before saying, “Did you break through?”
His thoughtless question didn’t make Lin Si Yao hesitate. He nodded, and his voice pierced through the entire bamboo forest: “That’s right. If you still want my life, I’m sorry to say that you’ll be disappointed.”
“Wrong. I, Si Tuo, never try again after failing once.” The man in black was a Feng Yao Court operative who was second only to Si Ling.
“If that’s how it is, then why did you come tonight?” Lin Si Yao was already turning away before he could finish his sentence, preparing to leave. As for why, as long as his woman wasn’t in danger, he honestly wasn’t interested at all.
“I’ve come to see how the fabled killing god has been reduced to a simple lovebird!” His voice carried a teasing tone that caused Lin Si Yao’s body to stiffen. With one leap, he leapt out of the forest.
“If you have so much time, why don’t you go and ask Feng Qingya for more missions?” Lin Si Yao’s gritting reply echoed from the distance.
“Hahaha…” Si Tuo couldn’t hold back his amusement. His crackles broke the night’s serenity and soared to the skies above.
At the time the courtyard’s door was firmly knocked upon in a rhythm, Su Shuilian was working on a newly assigned piece of embroidery.
A few days ago, Jiang Yangyun sent Xicui as a messenger to tell her that there was a client from Jindu City who wanted to commission her. The <Bodhisattva’s Son> was a half-meter wide and one-meter long piece. The three-month deadline was generous, so Su Shuilian accepted it immediately. Yesterday afternoon, Jiang Yangyun sent one of the embroidery floor’s men to send a sample of the draft as well as materials to her.
After he finished breakfast, Lin Si Yao carried his farming tools down to the field to plant soybeans and corn. Su Shuilian sat at her desk and prepared the needles and thread that she was about to use.
It was then the door sounded.
“Who could you be asking for?” Su Shuilian asked politely. Ever since the Lu Wan’er incident, Lin Si Yao repeatedly reminded her to never open the door freely when she was home alone.
“My name is Si Shan, I’m… Si Yao’s colleague.” The voice’s tone emanating from the other side was just as clear and cold as Lin Si Yao’s.
When Su Shuilian heard that it was Lin Si Yao’s colleague, she thought that he’d come to visit him. She opened the door, and a cold, handsome face befitting to the voice she heard peered through the crack.
“Hello, Saozi*.” It was slightly awkward as it was Si Shan’s first time meeting Su Shuilian. He repressed his initial surprise as he bowed and greeted her.
“Hello… Oh, A Yao hasn’t come back from the field yet. Um, You…” Su Shuilian felt a bit awkward. Normally, she would invite him to sit in the house for a cup of tea while waiting for Lin Si Yao’s return, but although he looked polite, a feeling of danger made her hesitate.
“Field?” Si Shan paused. Suddenly, it dawned on him. This was a village, what else could the hoe be used for, killing people? He now understood why Si Tuo had that annoying and punchable expression on his face when he came back last night. “Pfft…” An assassin, plowing a field? Wow, hahaha, that would be the joke of the century!
Su Shuilian was unsure how to react as the man in front of her seemed to be repressing his expression.
“*Cough*… Um, Saozi, could you bring me inside to wait for him?” Si Zha tried to keep down his gushing smile. He happily looked at the woman in front of him; she looked extremely similar to someone on the imperial search list that he had seen a few days ago.
“Apologies, right away.” Su Shuilian smiled as she led him into the main hall.
He followed her closely, scanning the yard when his eyes stopped at the large-bellied dog sprawled on the ground. He paused for a moment, and Si Shan’s eyebrows jumped. Ha… they seem to be nursing a pregnant… wolf? Did Si Ling catch it from the woods? He grinned. Farmer… what a joke!
Though she had many different threads by her hand as she was facing the “Bodhisattva’s Son” sample, a large part of Su Shuilian’s focus was still on the man who alleged that he was A-Yao’s colleague.
Once she served him a pot of aromatic black herbal tea and two plates of pastry cakes, Si Shan gestured for her to go back to whatever she was doing.
How? Su Shuilian smiled as she returned to her embroidery room and picked up her threads. She had no intention of interrupting the Si Shan who was sipping tea and eating snacks while sizing up the furniture and decorations of the main hall.
How could such an assassin god be living as a farmer in such a lowly village? The reality was frightening.
If not for loitering for a few days with Si Tuo in Fan Luo City, they would not have bumped into Si Ling’s custom jade plate in a shop. Nor had later, heard rumors of a person breaking someone’s bone with the tap of a finger. If not for Si Tuo’s insistence on digging deeper to find out the truth, they would have missed out the chance to meet Si Ling as they were leaving for the West on a mission soon.
But it just seemed too bizarre to him and Si Tuo. How could a fatal wound not only result in full recovery, but also a breakthrough within a year’s time? What did this mean to them, who hadn’t slacked on a day of training ever? It was a slap to the face.
As he observed the inconspicuous yet exquisite decorations around the room and thought of the gentle and quiet lady next door. He thought, Si Ling must be living life as peacefully as it could ever be.
But them? He and Si Tuo danced with blades and swam in blood all throughout the year. They never thought of the future, because assassins had no future. Today’s survival could end with tomorrow’s death, and that possibility had long since been engraved in their hearts.
However, looking around him, a tiny sliver of hope started to grow in Si Shan’s heart.
Could he dream of a day where he lays down his blades and restart just as Si Ling had? Living off of a plot of field, a cabin, and a courtyard, spending his days peacefully?
He smiled bitterly and shook his head. How ridiculous. That he had let himself daydream in this sweetly-scented and soft-colored room.
It was at this moment, Xiao Chun’s greeting whimper sounded from outside the cabin.
Su Shuilian stood up with a “swoosh”. Finally, A Yao had come home. She could finally relieve her unsettled heart. After all, being with a male stranger under the same roof alone had put quite some pressure on her.
“A Yao, you’ve come back.” Su Shuilian passed Si Shan who was just getting up, and dashed out of the cabin. Just as she entered the courtyard, Lin Si Yao smiled as he set down his farming tools.
“Mm.” Lin Si Yao nodded, and was surprised that her tone carried relief. He furrowed his brows, and with a instant, he placed Su Shuilian behind him, guarding her.
He faced Si Shan, who was just coming out of the cabin. Great, one after the other, was his house a bar or something, allowing people to come and go as they please?
“Long time no see.” Si Shan’s lips curved upwards upon seeing Si Ling’s shielding movement. He threw out a greeting that held just about the same value as garbage.
Then, a look of surprise lit up his lifeless face. Was the man in front of him really the old assassin god, Si Ling? With a brown peasant’s robe, rolled up sleeves, and mud-caked deerskin boots, there was no sign of the assassin of the old besides his cold face and unwary eyebrows!
“Indeed.” Lin Si Yao knew that the normally elusive Si Shan was led here by Si Tuo’s loose mouth. When had these people grown to become like gossiping old women!
“It seems that you’re doing well here.” This was unnecessary talk.
Si Shan folded his arms, unfazed by the coldness Lin Si Yao was showing him.
Of course, after being hunted down by the Feng Yao Court and almost dying, it was already great that he had not raised a weapon against him. How could he hope for a warm welcoming embrace?
Furthermore, assassins were cold and emotionless anyways. What was the need for an overreaction? Oh, Si Ling was already an exception.
“It’s all thanks to you.” Lin Si Yao’s eyes scanned him, and he didn’t mind him further. He led Su Shuilian into the kitchen.
“A Yao, is this really okay?” Su Shuilian prepared a pot and cup of warm water in the kitchen for him to wash his hands in. She then handed him a soft towel to dry his hands in. She stole a glance outside towards Si Shan, who was in a staring contest with Xiao Chun in the yard. Weren’t they junior and senior brothers from the same school? Why did it seem strange, did they not share a close brotherly connection?
“Don’t mind him.” Lin Si Yao spoke dryly. Since he had already let Feng Qing Ya go, he wasn’t going to antagonize Si Tuo and the others.
However, that didn’t mean he forgave them, and it surely didn’t mean that he would welcome them.
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