Tome of Troubled Times

Chapter 114: Gathering of Heroes

Chapter 114: Gathering of Heroes

Zhao Changhe was aware that playing with the Maitreya Cult like this was akin to walking on a tightrope. The celestial maiden was right in saying that those in the cult were no fools. Their intention had only been to recruit him into their ranks. They never had any malicious intentions toward him. It was precisely because they were not taking the matter on the same level that such an interesting situation had come about.

I have no idea if Fa Yuan actually has combat power rivaling those on the Ranking of Man, but even if he isn’t at that level, he should still at least be on par with Yue Hongling. And the part where she mentioned that they have many followers in Yangzhou is probably true. Once they realize that they have been tricked, I might not even know how I end up dying.

But this is simply what a secret agent does... If I didn’t have to worry about being controlled by some secret mind-controlling art, I might have actually considered joining the cult and playing along. My reputation as a traitor is already well-known throughout the world, and I could easily just renounce the cult later on. Unfortunately, I really don’t want to be placed under their control, so I have no other choice but to take this risk.

To be honest, this is actually pretty thrilling...

In any case, he had at least gotten some results. Now, he knew that the majority of the Cao Gang were followers of Maitreya, and there were even celestial maidens around the magistrate. Judging from this situation, it was possible that the magistrate himself had become a follower of Maitreya, or was at least under the control of the cult.

Zhao Changhe could not help but feel a little worried. Based on this information, the Maitreya Cult could unleash a rebellion at any moment. Furthermore, this rebellion was something that even the Demon Suppression Bureau in the city would not be able to stop. He wondered what exactly they were waiting for. Before coming here, he had thought that the empire was not yet facing an imminent collapse into chaos, but now he could see how it could start at any moment.

While he did say that he did not want to be the prince, and that the matters of the world were none of his business... The Maitreya Cult was seriously just up to no good. Their sinister doctrines only led people further into the abyss, all the while serving the selfish desires of the upper echelons of the cult.

If Chichi launched a rebellion, Zhao Changhe felt that he might not care about it too much. Anyway, he believed that the world was destined to be hers. After all, she was the rightful heir to the throne...

He walked ahead, lost in thought, when Dragon Bird suddenly vibrated lightly.

Zhao Changhe was startled.

Dragon Bird was warning him!

Ever since the episode at the Ancient Sword Lake, he had not encountered any difficulties or dangers. This was the first time in a good while that Dragon Bird was giving him a warning!

Where’s the threat?

His eyes quickly darted around, and he soon discovered a cold glint on the rooftop in the distance. Then, he heard the soft creak of a bowstring being stretched taut.

Zhao Changhe swiftly spun around, avoiding the arrow just in time. He then adjusted his posture, and with a powerful leap, he charged toward the location of the attacker.

The attacker appeared incredibly surprised. They did not seem to expect that Zhao Changhe would be able to avoid their fatal arrow, much less move as if he had foreseen it. Seeing Zhao Changhe rushing charging toward them, they swiftly moved from where they were, disappearing into a bustling area resembling a market. They weaved through the crowd and vanished from his sight.

By the time Zhao Changhe got to the spot where the attacker had been, he had completely lost track of them and he had no way of going after them.

He stood outside outside the market, observing a group of foreign merchants and tourists, his brow furrowing deeply.

During the brief encounter, he had noticed that the attacker was wearing a mask that was dazzlingly blue. However, their movements were too fast, so he had not been able to see anything else clearly. It was evident from this that the attacker was cautious, even going to the extent of wearing a mask despite clearly expecting to succeed. They made sure to take all measures to prevent anyone from recognizing them.

This was not the style of the Snow-Listening Pavilion. Those from the Snow-Listening Pavilion had never been afraid of others knowing that they were assassins. In fact, they often took pride in leaving a sign behind wherever they fulfilled a mission. They never used masks, and their usual approach involved disguising themselves as merchants before launching sudden attacks.

If they aren’t from the Snow-Listening Pavilion, then who could be behind this attack? I’m honestly confused. These foreign merchants gathered in the market... Could they be related to foreigners? But when have I offended any foreigners? I don’t think I’ve ever even interacted with them at all.

There’s no way that it could be Tang Buqi, right?

Zhao Changhe carefully went through his list of potential enemies in his mind and was left perplexed.

Seeing that it was already getting quite late, he decided to grab a passerby to ask for directions to Bright Moon Tower.

Perhaps the Cao Gang’s forces could help him find some clues... He wondered if it could be Wan Dongliu. But that did not make any sense, Wan Dongliu was currently hosting guests. It wouldn’t make any sense for him to leave and attempt an assassination. Could he have sent someone? But what would be his motive?


“The spring breeze brings three thousand guests to paradise beneath Yangzhou’s bright moon.”

Regardless of whether it was a trap or not, the Bright Moon Tower remained a top establishment of Yangzhou. The bright lights made it look like it was midday despite it being dusk. Laughter and joy filled the air as servants and waiters made their way around.

Seeing Zhao Changhe walking slowly, someone shouted loudly: “Young Hero Zhao has arrived!”

Zhao Changhe momentarily shifted his thoughts away from the assassin and found the way he was addressed somewhat amusing. This seems like the first time I’ve been addressed as “young hero.”

It seems quite difficult to get this title... Although it’s just a show of courtesy, it feels much better than being called a bandit.

He cupped his hand and stepped inside.

Despite having chosen a prominent establishment like the Bright Moon Tower for the gathering, neither the host nor the guests had gone upstairs at this time. They were all seated in the lower hall, engaged in conversation.

As Zhao Changhe entered, all eyes turned to him, and Wan Dongliu greeted him with a hearty laugh. “Brother Zhao, you’re here! Please have a seat!”

Zhao Changhe glanced around and did not see Yue Hongling anywhere. He wondered whether she had not arrived yet or Wan Dongliu had simply not invited her.

In the main seat, there was a middle-aged man he did not recognize. He thought that the man was probably Wan Dongliu’s father.

Zhao Changhe cupped his hand and said, “Greetings, everyone. Brother Wan, can you introduce me to everyone?”

Wan Dongliu led him over to the middle-aged man and said, “Brother Zhao, this is our esteemed Magistrate Qian! Hearing about how the hidden dragons of the jianghu are gathering here, Magistrate Qian came specially to meet all of the outstanding individuals.”

Zhao Changhe’s thoughts were suddenly disrupted. Who the hell has the patience to entertain some official? How are his celestial maidens at home doing?

Despite having such thoughts, he cupped his fist casually and said, “So it’s the magistrate, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Magistrate Qian observed Zhao Changhe and sneered, “You’re indeed a bandit.”

Zhao Changhe maintained an expressionless face and glanced at Wan Dongliu.

Wan Dongliu discreetly tugged at him, signaling him to step aside, and he then said softly, “Brother Zhao, this is my fault. I don’t know why the magistrate suddenly decided to join our gathering. It’s not like he came here to socialize. Sadly, I can’t just refuse him, so it’s quite a nuisance.”

Zhao Changhe patted him on the shoulder and said, “I understand. Let’s not bother with him. Could you introduce me to the others?”

Wan Dongliu led him to the other guests and said, “You’ve already met brother Tang... This is Daoist Priest Xuan Chong of Taiyi Sect. He’s ranked twelfth on the Ranking of Hidden Dragons.”

Zhao sized up the young daoist in front of him. He looked quite ordinary, with no striking features. However, seeing as he had achieved such a ranking at such a young age meant that he was the real deal. Chichi was only ranked thirteen. Additionally, similar to Wan Dongliu, these people had been at the same place on the Ranking of Hidden Dragons for a while now, so who knew what level they were really at now?

Zhao Changhe did not look down on Daoist Priest Xuan Chong, and he politely cupped his hand while saying, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

The young daoist reciprocated the courtesy, and his next words actually surprised Zhao Changhe. “It is also a pleasure to meet you. By leaving the Blood God Sect and defeating leader figures of the demonic cult, you have truly eliminated significant threats to the jianghu. Many of our generation here share this sentiment.”

Zhao Changhe blinked his eyes, silently realizing something... Ever since he had left Beimang, he had been pursued by authorities, hunted by demonic cults, and targeted by assassins, but from the beginning to the end, he had never been confronted by members of the orthodox sects. It seemed that they viewed his actions as righteous and did not want to create any problems for him.

Sure, they’re known as orthodox sects, but it seems like they’re not too concerned about the imperial court’s arrest warrant. It seems like the situation of the Demon Suppression Bureau is even more complicated than I initially thought.

Regardless, these words lifted Zhao Changhe’s mood quite a bit, considering he had just survived an assassination attempt only to meet that dumbass official. He asked, “What about the others?”

“These are outstanding talents from Yangzhou. This is the Jade-Faced Divine Sword, Little White Dragon Su...”

Before Wan Dongliu finished speaking, laughter erupted from outside the door as a voice proclaimed, “Introductions? What’s the point of introducing a bunch of losers?! It seems that the hidden dragons of the Central Plains[1] have an undeserved reputation. The so-called heroes of Jiangnan are a load of nonsense!”

As the voice trailed off, the door slammed open, and the two guards at the entrance were sent tumbling aside and onto the ground, groaning in pain.

Wan Dongliu, who had been constantly jovial and welcoming, suddenly had a grim expression on his face. He muttered, “Who is the river-crossing dragon that dares cause trouble in the territory of the Cao Gang?”

A group of a dozen men barged in through the door, all of them with exotic hairstyles and foreign clothes. It was clear from first glance that they were not natives of the Central Plains.

Zhao Changhe’s curiosity was piqued.

It seemed like the person who had attempted to assassinate him earlier had sought refuge among the foreigners earlier. Now, a group of foreigners had intruded on Wan Dongliu’s turf...

He turned his head and glanced at Magistrate Qian. He could not help but wonder about the real reason the man was here today.

1. In the raws, this was written as 中土, which actually refers to China. I don’t think calling it China would really fit the story, though. ☜

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