This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.
Chapter 8: I Never Follow The Rules
After the snowfall, Changling became bone-chillingly cold. Even though it was not snowing, the mantle of snow in the shadows and on the roofs did not easily melt. They grew harder and harder into ice shells mixed with dirt.
Not many moved around the Divinity Bureau,and the blanket of snow on many a path had yet to metl. Footprints of varying depths were etched on the grey shells of ice, their unknown whereabouts added a dark air about the Divinity Bureau.
Every now and then, shrill cries that seemed to be muffled and deprived of the manifestation as a scream, leaked out of some door cracks before echoing in this space and quickly vanishing.
Clad in a dark red robe, Bureau Chief Chen looked disheveled and dispirited. He walked slowly on the paths covered in snow and looking like a withered pomegranate, making it difficult to connect him with the high-ranking dignitaries of the Qin Dynasty.
That old and mute old servant who drove his carriage was waiting for him at the gates of Divinity Bureau. He did not give any orders nor did this old servant make any hand signals. After he boarded the carriage, the servant seemed to aimlessly circle around the streets of Changling.
In the simple cabin, Bureau Chief Chen’s head was slightly lowered as though he was asleep. But at a certain moment, he slowly raised his head and lifted the curtain.
This unmarked carriage was now travelling into the shadow beside a tall wall.
When he drew the carriage curtain aside, waves of primal energies of the universe silently spread from his body. Without even disturbing the air, ripples of crystal like light gathered around his body like countless mirrors that reflected the surrounding light.
He was dressed in a dark red robe, but the passersby would only see the carriage curtain lifted, as though it was being carried by the wind, and not him walking out of the carriage.
In this moment, he seemed to be transparent.
He then lightly flew up past the tall wall and landed in the courtyard.
Inside was a flower garden that had perished under the snow.
Bureau Chief Chen passed through this garden and walked into the corridor. The crystal like light that had gathered around him, slowly disappeared and his body appeared out of thin air like a ghost.
He walked along this corridor to enter the back of the compound and stopped in front of a study. He had deliberately not concealed the sound of his footsteps.
Inside the study, wearing a grey brocade robe, was a middle-aged and long bearded man who seemed like a scholar. He originally had been grinding ink, as though he was writing a letter, but the cold weather was making it difficult for the ink to dissolve.
When he heard the unfamiliar footsteps, he did not stop grinding ink. He knew that this was an unexpected guest, but in his eyes, only a rare few in Changling could pose a threat to him.
But how could any of the limited number of powerful people that could threaten him appear in front of him in this manner?
So, when Bureau Chief Chen’s footsteps stopped, it evoked a proud sneer. “It is cold outside. Since you have come, then do not wait outside.”
The words from the study reached Bureau Chief Chen. Even so, his face showed no changes, nor did he make any extra moves. The study door in front of him was pushed open by the presence that surged off him.
The middle-aged bearded man narrowed his eyes slightly. He was about to say something when he suddenly saw Bureau Chief Chen’s dark red robes, and felt the strange presence of dispiritedness and darkness mixed together, abruptly freezing the conceit on his face.
“You … you are Divinity Bureau …” Cold air rose in his body and even his tongue grew stiff.
“I am.” Bureau Chief Chen said, simply.
The middle-aged bearded man immediately turned pale.
“I know you are a special middleman.” Bureau Chief Chen looked coldly at him. His next words were, slow, clear and direct. “Some cultivators in the outer commanderies want to live well, and there are places where they have to spend countless silver in their cultivation. But with no ongoing wars right now, they cannot accumulate service, cannot be rewarded and cannot receive any promotions. But they have high combat abilities, and some of them will kill for other people. The powerful of Changling need people to help them kill some people so the matter will be unrelated to them.”
Thinking about the rumors about the mysterious bureau chief of the Divinity Bureau, the middle-aged bearded man’s face started dripping with sweat. “No matter what you say, it has nothing to do with me. You have no proof.” He said, loudly.
“You are right. I have no proof.”
Bureau Chief Chen coldly looked down.
The middle-aged bearded man suddenly seemed to have realized something. His eyes filled with the light of disbelief. A ball of light like the rising sun formed in his hand and gave off an unusual presence that could destroy this study.
But at this moment, he suddenly felt dizzy. The world blurred in his sight. His movements grew unusually slow due to the dizziness in his thoughts.
A dark red sword light flew out of Bureau Chief Chen’s dark red sleeve. It nimbly stabbed his heart meridian.
The middle-aged bearded man’s mind immediately turned clear again. A dot of coldness spread from his heart meridian. He saw the dark red sword light returning to the sleeve. The power inside his body ebbed like the tide, the bright light in his hand was just a line away from leaving his hand but was unable to.
This middle-aged bearded man could not understand what method the bureau chief of the Divinity Bureau had used to make him lose his focus in an instant. He could not understand why the other would dare to kill him in a situation where he had no proof.
“Nothing.” Bureau Chief Chen said coldly, “You just can not understand me … because I never act according to the rules.”
The middle-aged bearded man covered his chest and slowly sat down. With pain and puzzlement, he asked, “You are the head of the Divinity Bureau. Based on the laws of Qin, you observe the officials. If people like you do not follow the rules, would your crimes not be even greater? Even if you do not follow the rules, why do you have to kill me? Why do you not want to learn anything from me?”
“People in such positions as myself will survive in Changling based on our loyalty to the Qin Dynasty and His Majesty, and not based on our crimes.” Bureau Chief Chen looked at the man who was unwilling to die. “The things you can tell are not absolute proof for those powerful people. I just need to make the situation more chaotic … when someone is in a panic, they will make mistakes I can catch.” He said, coldly.
The middle-aged bearded man was in even great pain. He let out a strange sound in his throat. “Then why me? Why is it me?”
“Because of your identity.” Bureau Chief Chen looked expressionlessly at him and said, “Because you are not of the military. If I kill you, no one in the military will notice except for that military official that is connected to you who will send military forces to investigate this matter. He might want to know which faction was behind this. If he investigates, I may learn who he is.”
The middle-aged bearded man breathed his last, falling forward onto the desk and succumbed to the pain.
Bureau Chief Chen once again exuded powerful primal energies of the universe and his body turned transparent in the air. He crossed the tall wall and walked as though he was intangible in the alley.
No one that passed him noticed his existence.
He walked across many streets and alleys. He lifted the curtain of the carriage that was still slowly moving and sat in the cabin as though nothing had happened.
Every day, he would appear to ride in this carriage driven by this deaf and mute old servant. He would patrol the streets and alleys of Changling and occasionally give some orders. Other than that, he seemed to be doing nothing all day.
In the tall walled courtyard he had just left, more blood seeped out of the chest of the middle-aged bearded man who had died on the desk. The blood eventually covered the entire table and then spilled down the corners of the table to the ground.
At the exact same time, Ding Ning was also in a moving carriage.
When Bureau Chief Chen’s primal energies of the universe turned to nothingness and he looked down in thought, Ding Ning was also looking down and thinking.
He was not unfamiliar with Qishan District of Guanzhong. The richest and most powerful family in Qishan District was the Feng Family.
The Feng Family was also in the flowers on his wall in the wine shop.
Translator Ramblings: The Divinity Bureau is the secret police.