Chapter 1

Coldblooded Red Azaleas

A great conflagration rising to the sky, raging flames burning midway up the mountain, spreading quickly on the wind and lighting up the night.

Coldblooded could see the fire from a long ways off.
He ran over there immediately.

Coldblooded was one of the “Four Great Constables”, responsible of course for punishing evildoers in accordance with the law, eliminating brutal outlaws and bringing peace to the people.
With regard to the local authorities, only when there was an extremely important, extremely thorny case would they call on Mr.
Zhuge to dispatch his “Four Great Constables” to handle the case.

But for the “Four Great Constables” themselves, they felt dutybound whenever they could help preserve justice and assist with troublesome matters.

Coldblooded was the youngest of the “Four Great Constables”.
His blood was just like that burning fire, and when he felt dutybound he would dash ahead heedless of his own safety.

He set off at a run, like a leopard, every muscle from head to toe not wasting a bit of energy, every muscle not involved with running was in a completely rested state.

That was how he was: when he was still it was like he was frozen over, but when he moved he was like a surging waterfall.

When he was on the other side of “Straddling Tiger River” he saw the flames reaching up to the sky, but by the time he wound around the bank and made it to the other side, the fire was no more than thick smoke and the crackling of toppling ashes and sparks.
Coldblooded had just entered the village, hoping to do all he could to help a few people make it out of the sea of fire, when he stopped suddenly.

—No one was fighting the fire.

—And there were no survivors from the sea of fire.

The village only had about forty or fifty households, and by the look of its construction it seemed quite well-to-do, but all forty or fifty households had been burned up completely, everyone dead inside their homes.

A few people had run out of their homes and lay sprawled dead by the road, and some had been hacked to pieces.
Still other scorched bodies had wound marks.

From the horizontal signboard that had not been completely burned down one could see that the village was called “Dan Family Village”.
Dan was not a common surname, but in this area most were people with different surnames living together, and the Dans were mostly well-to-do, good builders, good carvers, and at the time that business was very profitable.

Coldblooded quickly determined what had happened here before him: pillaging, then murder and arson! Because aside from the bodies with wound marks on them, he could also see from some of the unburned furniture that chests and cabinets had been rummaged through, and of the forty or fifty households, half of them were not bordering each other, so even a big fire could not have burned them all up without a single one standing, nor without a single survivor.

—This was definitely the work of bandits.

But normally when bandits robbed they didn’t usually kill all the witnesses.
Robbery was a serious crime, but it was not a capital offense, but murder was.
Let alone murdering an entire village of people.

And as far as Coldblooded knew, this was now the fifth huge case of mass slaughter.

—Before this, “Chen Family Lane”, “Zhao Family Market, “Yan Family Bridge,” and “”Gong Family Village” had been exactly the same, first plundered, then massacred, without a single survivor!

And “Chen Family Lane” and “Gong Family Village” especially had no lack of martial world personages protecting it.
With so many masterhands among them, such ruthless mass slaughter in the span of one night was not something ordinary bandits would be able to accomplish.

Because these cases involved so much death and were so complicated, with no clues to follow, Coldblooded had received orders to come to this area to investigate.

Now he had run into this.
It was too bad he had arrived a step too late, and the murderers had already fled far away.

Coldblooded suddenly got down on the ground, supporting himself with his left palm, elbow bent as he pressed his left ear to the ground to listen carefully.

—About half a mile out, by a stand of trees and brush by the riverbank of the mountain pass, came the sound of an object moving lightly and rapidly.

Coldblooded with his ear to the ground could hear over half a mile away and detected the movement.

—About thirteen or fourteen people were in the midst of a rapid retreat, retreating as swiftly as leaping antelopes, but they emitted a sound so slight it was more like a barely perceptible grasshopper hopping in the grass.
If they had not been carrying heaving objects, then even the sounds of their robe lapels scraping the brush and weeds would not be made.

What surprised Coldblooded is that he could definitely hear the footsteps of thirteen people, but also one or two of them were making faint sounds like chickens pecking kernels—but Coldblooded could not confirm if it was one person or two.

But what he was sure of was that one person or two, it was the leader of the group, and their martial arts, internal force, and lightness skill were strong.

Coldblooded was just by himself.

Unfortunately, when Coldblooded was on a case, he didn’t account for how many people there were.
And how many people he had.

As Coldblooded was fast approaching the riverbank by the mountain pass, he suddenly realized they the people seemed to have vanished into thin air, no sound at all, and he was approaching a col full of cogongrass, brush, and wild azaleas.

For those people to suddenly stop making noise there was only one possibility, they were no longer moving.

The reason they suddenly stopped moving very well could be because they had detected him at the same time he had detected them.

After all he wasn’t Lifesnatcher (the third of the “Four Great Constables).
His tracking skills were not as good as Lifesnatcher’s.

A breeze off the river gently came on.

The mountain azaleas shuddered lightly, the whole field of mountain azaleas swaying, red like bright blood.
Coldblooded slowly stood up straight.

There were some scattered footprints on the ground that stopped here.
They were clearly hiding in the cogongrass and among the azalea thicket.

Coldblooded stood there calmly, hand on his sword, his scabbardless sword.
Wind whistled all around him, the air cool, no clouds in the low sky by the river.

Coldblooded said coldly, “Come out.”

A swift gust of wind swept by, rustling the mountain azaleas violently, and bright-red flower petals fell into the brush.

There was a sudden rustling in the azalea blossom thicket on the left.
Coldblooded’s left ear picked it up at once, detecting any strange sound like a deer’s ear, and slightly pricking up.

Coldblooded’s eyes flashed a bladelike cold awn of light.
He shouted a second time, “Come out!”

A rustling and four or five aquatic birds swept out from the flower thicket on the left.

In the blink of an eye two people pounced like lightning from the azalea thicket on the right, blade light flashing in a swift chop at Coldblooded!

Coldblooded’s eyes were watching the leftside mountain azalea thicket, but his right hand sent out his sword, and in a flash he had taken seven steps and the two ambushers let out a horrible scream.

Just half a scream.

Coldblooded’s sword had already stabbed them in the chest, but didn’t go through them and out the back, just stabbed their heart—and instantly the sword in Coldblooded’s right hand was not gripped in his left.

Because two people sw

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