Chapter 95 – When You Grow Up

Their shock only lasted a moment.
The Black Tiger Gang members reacted quickly, and all of them locked onto their target: the blue-robed youth headed toward the main atrium!

“Brothers, seize him! Cut him up!”

“Kill!” There was a sudden commotion as the gang members seemingly transformed into malevolent gods.
They raised their weapons, shouted, and charged at Su Yi.

Perhaps this was simply because they’d already had too much to drink, but every last one of them was ready and raring to go.
They charged ahead without fear.

But Su Yi was as calm as ever, as if he didn’t even see them.

He didn’t so much as turn around to look at them.
Mortal Edge let out a clear hum, and in an instant, sharp sword shadows shot out like lightning, one after another.
Illusory blades crossed and overlapped, covering the entire area.

The villains of the Black Tiger Gang were a motley crowd.
At best, they knew a few coarse fist techniques or crude kicks.
They’d yet to so much as brush up against the threshold of the Martial Dao.

How could they possibly be a match for Su Yi?

In an instant, corpses lay scattered across the ground, fresh blood gathering into puddles, the red stark and eye-catching beneath the lamplight.

Those Su Yi hadn’t killed were scared out of their wits.
They fled as far as they could, their faces ashen, the hands holding their weapons shaking uncontrollably.

But Su Yi paid these small fries no further head.
He just carried his sword and strode into the atrium.

Wham!

A halberd swung at him with dazzling, cold light.

The attacker was a one-eyed middle-aged man clad in black.
He’d been hiding beside the doorway, but now, he struck explosively.
He’d seized the opportune moment with practiced ruthlessness.

But it was as if Su Yi had precognition; he shifted subtly to the side, and the halberd hit nothing but air.

Splurt! 

At the same time, Mortal Edge smoothly cleaved the one-eyed man’s neck.
His sizable head went flying, and his now headless body sprayed fresh blood before thudding to the ground.

The hall was illuminated by candles and empty save for a single table, which was covered in a sumptuous feast.
The delicacies were still piping hot, but the guests had already vacated their chairs.

When Su Yi entered, he saw three people nearby: a man, a woman, and an elder.
All of them clutched weapons, their expressions grave, unsightly, and completely on guard.

The man said in a low voice, “Friend, every injustice has its perpetrator, and every debt has its creditor.
If we’ve offended you in some way, I, ‘Ol’ Qing’ will compensate you.
Might I ask why you’re doing this and see if we can smooth things over?”

Su Yi’s gaze swept around the room.
“Where is the entrance to the dungeon?”

The man’s heart shook, and he couldn’t help but blurt, “Don’t tell me those blind subordinates of mine captured a friend of yours?”

Splurt!

Su Yi suddenly strode forward, and his sword flashed like lightning, effortlessly penetrating the man’s throat.
In the last moments before his death, the man’s astonishment was written all over his face. 

“You answer instead.” Su Yi turned toward the woman.

She was already so scared that her legs were quivering.
Her face was as pretty as a flower, but it was now pale with fright.
When she heard Su Yi’s questions, she instinctively glanced at the screen door on the side of the room.

Splurt!

There was another flash of sword light.

Blood sprayed from the woman’s throat, and her body sprawled out on the ground.
Her eyes were still open; she found no peace even in death.

“We already told you,” shouted the elder, the only one who remained.
“Why did you have to kill her?”

He was so scared, it was as if he’d lost his soul, and his mind was on the verge of collapse.

The only answer he got was the sharp edge of a sword.

Splurt!

His whole body split right down the midline, falling to the sides in two perfect halves, his blood and organs spilling out like a waterfall.

“Do I need a reason to kill you?” said Su Yi.
He turned towards the screen door.
His gaze was calm as ever, his eyes indifferent and inscrutable.
When Su Xuanjun killed in anger, he disdained offering explanations. 

There was another wall behind the screen, with a hidden gate cut into it.

Su Yi swung his sword and cleaved open the lock, then pushed the door open and entered without delay.

……

Feng Xiaoran crouched in the damp darkness of the dungeons, hugging her knees tight.

Her hair was in disarray, and although her face was pallid, she showed no signs of panic.
On the contrary, she was perfectly calm.

The moment she was kidnapped, she knew that she was doomed to live out the rest of her days mired in darkness.
She would never live freely beneath the sunlight ever again.

She’d long since heard that the girls the Black Tiger Gang kidnapped were sold to brothels to spend the rest of their lives as men’s toys, enduring all kinds of humiliation, their lives no longer their own.

But she wasn’t afraid.

She would never give up on any hope of staying alive. So long as she was alive, she’d use every method at her disposal to grow strong!

Big Brother, please rest assured.
I’ll live, and live well, and one day… It will be my turn to protect you! Feng Xiaoran said in her heart.

She could give up everything she had, with one exception.
She just couldn’t let go of her older brother, Feng Xiaofeng.

This was the source of her deep determination to survive.

Suddenly, the sound of footsteps echoed through the darkness, gradually drawing closer and closer.

“You’ve finally come for me?” Feng Xiaoran raised her pretty head to see who this new arrival was.
Despite the darkness, she wanted to commit her kidnapper’s face to memory so that one day, she could get her revenge!

But the dungeons were so dark that despite her best efforts, all she saw was a tall, blurry silhouette.

The figure then crouched, and his bright, deep gaze entered her field of view.
She could even see his eyes filling with relief.

Her heart shook, and she suddenly felt that in all her years of life, those eyes were the brightest, most beautiful things she’d ever seen.
They were like sunlight on a spring morning, washing over her and warming the icy darkness that had taken hold of her heart. 

“Do you still remember me?” said a friendly voice carrying a hint of laughter.

Feng Xiaoran instantly trembled.
She suddenly saw the handsome face of the person crouched nearby clearly.

“Big Brother Su Yi?” Her eyes widened.
She was bewildered; she almost felt as if she were dreaming.

A familiar face had come for her while she was in captivity.
The moment he arrived, it was as if endless light appeared to chase away the darkness.

The contrast was so stark, she almost couldn’t keep up.

A little while later, Feng Xiaoran broke into a radiant smile.
“Big Brother Su Yi, you’re here to rescue me!”

Su Yi tousled her hair, then picked her up and carried her on his back.
“Don’t be afraid.
I’m going to take you home.”

“Mm!” Feng Xioran nodded firmly, then wrapped her arms tightly around Su Yi’s neck, as if afraid that this sudden good fortune would slip right back through her fingers. 

When he sensed the force the girl exerted through those tender, thin arms, Su Yi’s spirits sank. How much helplessness and despair must she have felt during her time in the dungeon?

“You all can go home too.” Su Yi turned toward the other figures huddled in the darkness.
Most were girls in their teens.

With that, he turned, left the dungeons, and returned to the atrium.
With each step, he moved closer to the courtyard.

“Xiaoran, close your eyes,” whispered Su Yi. The air was rife with the smell of bloodshed, and corpses littered the ground.
It was an extremely unsettling sight.

But Feng Xiaoran shook her head and only opened her eyes wider.
She solemnly took in the carnage, and although her little face was pale, she was completely calm. She wasn’t the least bit scared.
On the contrary, she felt absolutely amazing. 

When they left the residence and returned to Spring Jade Alley, she suddenly said, “Big Brother Su Yi, teach me to cultivate the Martial Dao, okay?”

“Why do you want to cultivate?” asked Su Yi.

Feng Xiaoran hesitated to tell him, but in the end, she still said it.
“I want to protect my big brother.
I want to protect him for the rest of our lives.
I won’t let anyone bully him ever again.”

Her bright, crystal-clear eyes looked uncertain.
“Half a year ago, a bad man broke my brother’s legs, severing his Martial Dao.
He never says it out loud, but I know he’s suffering deeply inside.

“When my brother and I were still little, our mom ran off with some wild man.
It was our father who raised us, but half a year ago, after learning that Big Brother was crippled, he couldn’t take the shock.
He got sick, and in less than a week, he was dead.

“Ever since, my brother has been the only relative I have left in this world….”

When she said this, her pale face was utterly grim.
Then, she took a deep breath and said with calm determination, “It was also then that I told myself, no matter what, I have to become strong! No matter the price, no matter how much humiliation and mockery I have to endure, if it means I can protect my big brother, I won’t back down!”

Su Yi listened in silence.
He felt sorry for her, and he sighed to himself, but he also felt something he couldn’t quite put into words.

He had known for a long time that Feng Xiaofeng’s family was desperately poor.
It was practically a miracle that he’d made it into Blueriver Sword Manor to cultivate at all. 

But he never would have guessed that his friend’s road had been so bumpy.

Feng Xiaofeng and his sister relied on each other to stay alive.
Feng Xiaoran was just thirteen years old, but her temperament and maturity were far beyond others her age.
This was beyond Su Yi’s expectations.

Su Yi deeply understood Feng Xiaoran’s feelings.

When he left home at fourteen, traversing mountains and wastes all on his own to cultivate in Blueriver Sword Manor, wasn’t he trying to use martial arts to change his destiny too? Only those who’d experienced darkness would fight tooth and nail to seize a ray of light and change their fates.

When they left the alleyway, Su Yi said, “If you’re willing to learn, I’ll personally teach you the secrets of cultivation.”

A broad smile instantly spread across Feng Xiaoran’s face.
“Big Brother Su Yi, did you know? I’ll never, ever forget that moment you first appeared.
One day… I’ll have to repay you!”

Su Yi smiled.
“All I want is for you and your brother to live well.
That’s the best reward you could possibly give me.”

“Then… How about I marry you when I get older?” said Feng Xiaoran, and she sounded serious.

Su Yi froze, then couldn’t help but laugh.
“We can talk after you grow up.”

A thirteen-year-old girl had, while trying to express her gratitude, chosen her words poorly.
She probably didn’t even understand what it meant to marry someone.

But then, that was understandable.

Feng Xiaoran laughed too, and her big eyes squinted, like luminous crescent moons.
She said nothing, but in her heart, she thought, Big Brother Su Yi, when I grow up, you’d better not go back on your word….

Beneath the darkness, the young woman’s pallid face was utterly serious and expectant.

She might be young, but she was already blossoming into a woman.
Her eyebrows were dark, her nose straight and well-formed.
She was slender, with skin as fair and delicate as cream.

Especially her eyes.
They were currently slightly sunken, but they were bright and profound, and they glittered like precious stones.
When she smiled, they were like moons reflected against the lake, pretty as could be. 

She was still young, but it was already obvious that she was a picturesque beauty in the making.

But her disheveled hair was slightly dry, her clothes were worn and covered in patches, and her sleeves were frayed.
All of this revealed that she was born into poverty.

She was still young, but she already showed signs of the kind of peerless charm that would one day topple cities.

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