Qiang Jin Jiu – Chapter 186 : Blizzard

Translated with: Jia<3


The boundary between heaven and earth was blurred as a blizzard assaulted the battlegrounds and completely engulfed the eastern mountain range of the Hongyan Mountains. No matter where the eyes roamed, it was a boundless expanse of white snow. 

Hasen had initially left, but the snowstorm tonight was too strong. Worried about losing his bearings in the snowfields, he could only head back to the abandoned relay station. The scorpions that Hasen was leading this time all possessed faces that bore a striking resemblance to the Dazhou natives. They had already taken off the layer of armor they had worn as their disguise and were currently sitting around together drinking tea. 

“Zhou…” One of the scorpions wiped at the token and struggled to discern the text on it under the glow of the fire. “This one’s surnamed Zhou, huh.”  

“Mine’s surnamed Fu,” Another person raised a token. “It’s a man from Dajing.”

“Wolves all hail from Dajing.” A bearded man with a scar looked around at these younger generations jesting around before his gaze finally landed on Hasen, who had been silent throughout. “You slew the King of Wolves tonight. Hasen, from now on, you reign supreme on the battlefields in the north.”   

The northern battlegrounds had always belonged to the King of Wolves. Having occupied the highest peak of Hongyan Mountains with his valiance and prowess, Xiao Fangxu had, for the last twenty years, struck fear in the hearts of the Twelve Tribes of Biansha at the mere mention of his name. Everyone present was acutely familiar with the legends surrounding him. Tonight, they had returned victorious, and the person they had slain was no ordinary mortal, but the god of Libei.

Hasen, who was drinking his tea, smiled shyly at Wulihan after hearing what the latter had said. 

Hasen had always possessed an understated intelligence, but after tonight, no one would dare to belittle him. Wulihan could already predict just how fast Biansha would raze through Libei in the next few years. They understood the present Libei all too well. Xiao Jiming had yet to recover from his serious injuries, and Xiao Chiye was still a fledgling wet behind his ears. In addition, there was a severe dearth of commanding generals, and Libei was facing an insurmountable winter. Hasen had been waiting for this moment for a very long time. 

“But you don’t look very happy,” Wulihan said. 

“Not quite what I expected.” Hasen held up the bowl with both hands and remembered his war trophy. “I grew up listening to legends of him. He’s invincible, coming from my father’s mouth.” 

“The Hero will be proud of you.” Wulihan thought for a moment. “What you have hacked off tonight is also the head of the Libei Armored Cavalry.”1

Hasen drank his tea and did not answer.

But Wulihan was right. It was also the Libei Armored Cavalry’s head that Hasen had severed this night. All along, this iron wall standing in the north had seemed to be so indestructible. But when Hasen was truly standing here, he found a fatal vulnerability in the chink of the Libei Armored Cavalry’s armor.

This troop was far too centralized. Although their faith was born of the land they stood on, they were overly reliant on their commander-in-chief. The amount of time since their establishment had been too short, and as a result every single soldier had their eyes locked on Xiao Fangxu. It was as though as long as Xiao Fangxu was there, the Libei Armored Cavalry would be invincible and triumphant in every battle.

Amu’er understood this principle, as did Hasen. The reign of Tianchen was the turning point in which the Libei Armored Cavalry was no longer in the position to hold the initiative. Xiao Jiming’s retreat symbolized the beginning of its collapse, and Xiao Fangxu’s comeback made Hasen certain that this was where the crux of the Libei Armored Cavalry lay. Hasen’s transfer to the battlefield in the north was meant for him to familiarize himself with Xiao Fangxu. He had been following Amu’er on his battles all over the land ever since he was eight years old, and the name he had heard the most in the commander tent had been Xiao Fangxu. At a time when Xiao Fangxu still knew nothing of him, he already knew of Xiao Fangxu’s military habits. 

Hasen did not want to win just one battle. He wanted all fronts of Libei to topple. As to who would be grief-stricken over this, it was not something he should consider, just like how Libei had never been considerate of Biansha’s suffering. Hasen wanted to crush his opponent with all he had. He wanted to pierce through his opponent’s heart, so that his opponent could never recover from the setback. The time for Biansha to turn the tables was now. They contended and tussled, sharpening their respective fangs in that accumulating debt of blood. To both parties, excessive compassion was tantamount to suicide. 

The scorpions scattered when the fire was about to go out and looked for a corner in which to rest. With Wulihan taking the night watch, Hasen leaned against the old cabinet and closed his eyes. 

The frigid wind outside howled against the eaves, sending the wind chimes hanging at the entrance of the relay station clinking and clanking violently. All that was left in the world was black and white as the night and snow tore into each other. Snowflakes that resembled tattered wads of cotton piled up to form snow dunes, and footprints left in the snow were soon swallowed up. 

The scorpion standing outside the relay station taking a piss had yet to untie his pants when he was clutched by the throat. An imperceptible “crack” followed right after, and the scorpion’s body was slowly lowered to the ground. 

Wulihan, who had an acute sense of hearing, almost immediately lifted his hand to reach for his iron hammer. He stared menacingly at the door panel and whispered, “Here comes the wolf.” 

The scorpion closest to the door shifted silently to lean over the crack between the door with the intent to peek, but in the very moment he bent over, a long blade suddenly plunged through the gap and pierced through his head.

No one inside the house spoke. Hasen watched calmly as that blade retracted, painting the door with a splash of crimson. The smell of blood began to pervade the air. Right after the door was shoved open, a gust of wind extinguished the fire and plunged the house into darkness. A figure that bore a striking resemblance to Xiao Fangxu stood in the doorway, nearly causing Wulihan to break out in cold sweat.

In that long, endless silence, the scorpions within the house burst into action. They had lost nearly half of their own men when they encircled Xiao Fangxu to kill him, and the remaining scorpions were already beyond exhausted. The fear of being stabbed through and through by the King of Wolf reasserted itself again. The scorpions prayed the wolf pup did not have the same arm strength as his father, but when they came into contact with him, they were all nailed to the floor. 

That bit of light peeking in from the entrance was blocked out too. Thick, viscous blood splattered onto their faces. Wulihan did not wipe it off. He swung his hammer towards Xiao Chiye right in the face—the same way he smashed it towards Xiao Fangxu.  

But Xiao Chiye stopped Wulihan’s forearm in its track. Closely encircled on all sides with little space left, he did not turn around the blade he had just pulled out from the corpse but smashed the demonhead on the hilt2 into Wulihan’s face. Wulihan staggered, wanting to draw back, but Xiao Chiye did not release his grip, and the scorpion behind him hung on to his blade, so he immediately let go of Langli Blade and punched Wulihan over with his bare fist. 

Wulihan’s muscular body crashed into the pile of burning firewood, knocking it over. His face was drenched in blood, and he could feel that the bridge of his nose was broken. He shook his head. The impact of that heavy blow made him temporarily deaf in both ears, and for a time, he could not even see before him clearly. He spat out the tooth that had been punched off and said somewhat unintelligibly, “Kill him!” 

Hasen sensed a pair of eyes locked on him. From the moment the door opened, this was a line of sight that would not permit him to ignore it. Hasen knew what Xiao Chiye had come for, but he would not return it to Xiao Chiye, for that was the medal he was determined to hold on to.

Hasen gripped his piked dagger, but Xiao Chiye did not give Hasen the opportunity. He lifted a scorpion and held him up before the dagger, making use of that sturdy human body to slam Hasen against the cabinet. Xiao Chiye’s fist missed its target, and the cabinet door promptly burst apart. The cabinet behind Hasen collapsed with a loud crash, which gave Hasen some leeway to catch his breath. The sudden assault of his piked dagger was swift and fierce, but this time, Xiao Chiye did not dodge it. Instead, he grasped it and wrenched it towards himself. 

Hasen had experienced for himself Xiao Chiye’s strength back at the Tudalong Banner. He was unable to seize his dagger back, and at the exact moment he let go, he crouched over at the waist to dodge Xiao Chiye’s blow.  

Xiao Chiye did not throw away the dagger. He was now pinned down by Wulihan, who had pounced on him from the side. That hillock-like body slammed Xiao Chiye against the wall, and Wulihan returned him a heavy punch. The fist smashed into him like a slab of brick, causing him to bleed from his mouth. At the same time he took the punch, Xiao Chiye grabbed hold of Wulihan’s collar, deflected his head to the side to dodge the blow, and followed up with a head slam to the injured bridge of Wulihan’s nose. 

Wulihan hastily covered his nose and mouth, and Xiao Chiye turned the dagger around with his fingers. Grasping that sharp, protruding tip, he jammed the dagger between the gap of his fingers and slammed a fist into Wulihan’s face, which failed to move out of the way in time. 

Wulihan let loose a howl of fury. The dagger was embedded in his entire right eye, and the pain made his entire body convulse with tremors. Blood poured profusely as he bent over and cursed in the Biansha tongue.

Xiao Chiye did not let Wulihan off. He yanked Wulihan by the hair and took a few quick steps to slam Wulihan’s head hard against the wall. The chilling sounds of the impact persisted a few more times until the wall was awash in blood. The scorpion behind Xiao Chiye pounced and hung on to Xiao Chiye’s back as he prepared to flip him over, but Xiao Chiye did not move. He backhandedly felt for the scimitar on the scorpion’s waist and released his grip on Wulihan. 

Wulihan cried out in pain and stumbled back. He had only taken two steps when he felt a cool sensation on his neck. Before he could even react, his blood spurted out like a fountain, and his head went tumbling. 

Xiao Chiye lifted his hand to wipe at the metallic stench of blood, revealing in the darkness a pair of extremely bright eyes—eyes that brimmed over with frenzied insanity and hatred. This gave him the appearance of a ravenous wolf, one whose sense of reason had been completely devoured whole by this bout of heavy snow. He stared at Hasen and said, one word at a time, “Give my father back to me.” 

Hasen brushed back the red hair that was hanging over his eyes and looked at Xiao Chiye as he said in a cold, detached voice, “Then, when will your father give my brother back to me?” 

Xiao Chiye had already sprung closer. He had no wish to hear Hasen speak at all. As both men wrestled with one another, they crashed through the window and rolled into the snowstorm. 

Hasen struck back with all his might and knocked Xiao Chiye down into the snow, then nimbly straightened up and stepped back as he gasped for breath. In a cold voice, he said, “Your father’s armored hooves trampled his head into a pulp. Right in the midst of a blizzard. He left his corpse out there in the wilderness.” 

Xiao Chiye propped himself up into a standing position and spat out the froth of blood in his mouth. 

Hasen twirled out a new piked dagger between his fingers. He slid those fingers along the cold gleam of the blade and said expressionlessly, “I’m merely returning the favor tit for tat.” 

Both men collided together again once more. The snow blew so hard amidst the roaring wind that it stung the eyes, and the gasps of their breath sounded so very guttural. Even heaven and earth were howling. Xiao Chiye locked Hasen’s throat in a viselike grip and lifted Hasen to smash Hasen’s back against the damaged wall of the relay station. The force of the impact jolted the flakes of snow off the wall. Hasen grabbed Xiao Chiye’s right arm and twisted it with all his might, nearly breaking it. 

Xiao Chiye’s right hand went numb, and his old injury caused him to lose his grip, allowing Hasen to break free once again. The next instant, the remaining scorpions wrapped their arms around both of Xiao Chiye’s legs, causing his entire person to tumble into the snow. Hasen grabbed the opportunity and thrust the piked dagger towards Xiao Chiye’s nape from the back. Xiao Chiye braced his elbow against the ground and took the stab to the back of his left shoulder, avoiding his vital spots. 

Hasen tried to pull out the picked dagger, but Xiao Chiye backhandedly covered the back of Hasen’s head with his hand and slammed Hasen’s head down towards the ground with terrifying force, where he then held it firmly in place in the snow. Blood swiftly stained his shoulder. The dagger that had yet to be pulled out rose and fell along with each of his gasps for breath. 

Hasen pressed both palms against the snowy ground, and a hoarse sound escaped from his throat, but he could not lift his head. There was no way he could make Xiao Chiye’s palm budge at all. 

Xiao Chiye yanked Hasen’s red hair hard, his eyes red as he bellowed in a raspy voice, “GIVE. HIM. BACK. TO. ME!”

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Credits: Thank you Vrinni for pointing out the typo and Tea for proofreading! <3

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Footnotes

  1. 斩首 the word here used is decapitated or beheaded, although it also implied the slaying of the Xiao Fangxu in this context, leaving the Libei Armored Cavalry headless, or without a leader.

  2. 鬼头 kind of carving on the hilt of the blade. See examples here or here