Chapter 61 – Forest of the Night
At Sacred Heart Institute, the lights in the residential area would turn off at around 11 pm. In a bedroom on the second floor, a Japanese girl wearing flimsy nightwear was sitting quietly on her bed. Due to the fact that school had just started, and probably due to her nationality, the three other rooms in this student residence were unoccupied. After the lights went out, she appeared even more still and quiet. Suddenly she recalled the incident that had happened the previous day.
She had multiple reasons to come to China; firstly, she wanted to avoid the annoying matters that would happen after the engagement to Amau Masanori; secondly, she was curious about Jiaming’s mysterious skills. She was unable to determine how he was able to become so incredibly strong that even Amau Masanori felt a sense of danger from him. Since her family was facing the threat of Peroka, and she was unable to be of much help, the only thing she could do was go to China and become his disciple or beg him for help.
Of course, this was not immediately achievable, as Gu Jiaming knew her background clearly and had stated right at the beginning that he did not want any further connection with her. She realized that convincing him would be a slow process and that she herself was not too sure how to go about that. In the afternoon, when she had bumped into Lingjing and mentioned that she had come to China to learn martial arts, it had appealed to Lingjing’s enthusiasm and the situation had taken a turn for the worse.
She could definitely feel that he had gotten angry about that.
Gentle starlight was flowing into the room through the window by the balcony. Suddenly, a black figure flashed by the window and her eyes snapped open in response. Is it him? She slightly loosened her right hand and a pitch black kodachi appeared. Not wanting to be careless, she rushed out to the balcony in her bare feet and saw the figure that had passed by her window travel along the edges of the small plaza and slip into the woods.
Was it him, or was it someone from Peroka?
The Tsukichi clan’s power was only limited to Japan, while the assassins of Peroka were spread all across the world. Even though their influence in China could not be considered strong, when Kaoru had left home, she had been prepared for an eventual attack. She even had a pistol in her suitcase, but now…
Her usual pale expressionless face suddenly showed a sliver of determination. She reached out to the railing on her balcony and, still in her pajamas, she leaped over silently onto the ground and her bare feet landed on the soft soil below. A moment later, she followed the figure and rushed into the woods.
In the darkness, under the blue-grey shades of the trees, specks of starlight filtered through the treetops. The woods had a pedestrian trail, and there was an open pavilion further in. If it had been earlier in the night, there would have been multiple couples that would have flocked to this area to whisper sweet nothings to each other. However, it was the middle of the night at the moment, and even if the couples had a taste of the forbidden fruit, they would not continue doing so outside. These students usually came from a good background and had more than enough money to spend on renting a hotel room.
Kaoru focused on sensing her surroundings and lowered her body when moving through the woods. She kept tight control over her breathing and her presence. Suddenly, there was movement — an attack came from behind her.
Her blade gleamed like a falling star as she turned and counter-attacked as quick as lightning. However, halfway through her move, she was blocked by the opponent’s wrist. They had reached out with their other hand, seemingly trying to catch a hold of Kaoru. But in the next moment, she quickly twisted her knife-wielding arm like a serpent, and her body arched elegantly before disappearing.
In a burst of wind, the girl’s body suddenly appeared next to the enemy’s side, her blade aiming right for their neck. The person immediately took two steps backward to avoid her cleave and the girl’s momentum carried her straight past her opponent.
It was not easy to see things clearly in the dark, but she was certain that her opponent was an adult and not Gu Jiaming. Her battle intent suddenly increased by several times, and despite wearing only sleepwear, her body delicately and elegantly flashed through the air. With another sharp keen, her small kodachi pierced forward again. This flurry of attacks in the midst of Ikesakura Senmaboroshi caused the opponent to retreat, but after five strikes, her wrist was unexpectedly caught and her body was forcefully thrown out of her technique.
Caught off balance, she crashed onto a thick tree trunk and her momentum caused her to roll over on the ground a few times. When she finally stopped, she propped up half her body on her arms and looked up. Her opponent seemed to have retracted his animosity and leisurely strolled over, “Ikesakura Senmaboroshi, you definitely are a member of Tokyo's Tsukichi clan. So, why'd you come to Jianghai City?”
“You are…” Tsukichi Kaoru hesitated briefly before asking, “Chen Guxia from Ancestral Awakening?”
“The Tsukichi clan's intelligence team is quite good, huh. Or is it due to relying on Takamagahara's strength?” Chen Guxia stopped in front of her, “I'm not a fan of Peroka, so relax, I won't do anything to you. I only want to know the purpose of you suddenly coming to Jianghai City.”
Tsukichi Kaoru calmly dusted herself as she stood up, “I'm here for training.”
“Why did you choose Jianghai City?” Kaoru fell silent at that question and Chen Guxia waited for a moment before he speculated, “Two years ago, you had encountered danger here. At that time, that boy, Gu Jiaming, had been with you. He’s usually weak, but in critical moments, he is able to release explosive strength. You had benefited from that and had nearly successfully escaped with him. However, even though you had been recaptured, you recognized that boy’s strength and I’m guessing you wanted to recruit him for your family? Hmm, that doesn’t seem right, they probably wouldn’t value him that much. So, it should be something between the two of you then…”
Chen Guxia naturally would not link the massacre from two years ago with Jiaming. Since his analytical ability was high, after considering all the scenarios, he thought that he had discovered the crux of the matter. At that time, Tsukichi Kaoru had been tortured and Jiaming had then arrived at the scene and been able to create an escape route for the two girls. Even though it seemed that Kaoru had a calm and cold deposition, she had been at an age when feelings between people could bloom. It was also reported that afterward the two of them had shared a hospital room. They were both young, pure children, so it was natural for such passionate feelings to develop between them.
“Ah, well, whether you're here for training or for vacation, as long as you don't do anything out of line, you are a guest here. Speaking of which, Peroka could act against you, and they could also act against me. Since you're here at Sacred Heart Institute, if anything happens, you can ask me for help. Now go back to sleep.”
With his hands behind his back, he walked away and gradually disappeared into the woods. Kaoru resheathed her blade, not knowing what to think. After a moment, she turned and moved a couple of steps, preparing to return to her residence, but suddenly she froze in place. Donned completely in black, an ordinary-looking boy was standing there watching her, with a fake-looking smile on his face.
“Your performance… was very disappointing. Chen Guxia is already suffering from internal wounds, yet you were only able to attack six times.” The boy walked closer to her and reached out to lightly stroke her pale cheek. Tsukichi Kaoru did not dodge, but her usually indifferent gaze could not help but tremble slightly.
His palm rested on her cheek. His fingers lightly caressed her hair, her ear lobe, and then gently wrapped around the back of her neck. Following that motion, he pulled her forward towards him.
“The biggest disappointment though is that you had a gun in your room. Even though this was an unexpected incident, you didn't even bring it out…”
W-what is he doing… The young maiden tensed up, as he pulled her closer, making her lean against his shoulder. It felt like something a pair of lovers would do, and while she had prepared herself that he might do something to her due to his anger, she had never expected this kind of situation to happen.
“You are searching for a way to help your family fight against Peroka, and you want to become strong. You even want to drag me down with you. Apart from that incident two years ago, have you actually killed anyone before? Have you…”
As the boy said this, his grip on the back of her neck suddenly turned heavy. A keening sound came from her scabbard and then the tip of an ice-cold blade pierced into her lower abdomen, fresh blood slowly expanding along her nightgown.
“...Have you died before?”
8/8 chapters (next release is May 2).
Jiaming is such a douche to her zzzz. Also FINALLY IT'S THE END OF THE MONTH. I'm sorry, but May's releases are likely going to be erratic as well as I don't have any buffer at all. I apologize in advance.