Chapter 122: Extra—Intrusion (Part Three)
Translated by K of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
“…” Young Master Qin pretended like nothing was wrong, “I’m not too sure about that. I don’t know how rough the servant who punished him went, but after all he used to be one of our servants too, so I never really intended to do anything to him. If he held hatred for me behind his back but didn’t dare say it out loud, I can’t do anything about it either.”
Listening to the conversation on the side, Lan SiZhui couldn’t hold it any longer, “Young Master Qin, this… this is just a bit too far… from your original explanation. When my two seniors asked you to explain things, why did you hide so much from them?”
Young Master Qin, “I thought swords and talismans would be enough to maintain the peace of my household. How could I have known that I needed to tell such an old, meaningless story?”
Wei WuXian spoke with a tone of dramatic emphasis, “No, no, no—it’s not an old, meaningless story. The situation is rather severe, Young Master Qin! Think about it. You scolded him and beat him up before he died, perhaps even breaking his legs. If he really didn’t sell the jade pendant, it would’ve been a wrongful death. Whom would he find if not you?”
Young Master Qin immediately replied, “Well I wasn’t the one who killed him! It wasn’t a suicide either! Why would he find me?”
Wei WuXian, “Hm? How do you know it wasn’t a suicide? Maybe he really took his own life by impulse, but it was perceived as an accident by everyone else. That’d be a worse case.”
Young Master Qin, “How could a grown-up man commit suicide simply because of something so insignificant?”
Wei WuXian, “Young Master Qin, assumptions are the most dangerous in our line of work. Each individual has different levels of tolerance and sensitivity. It’s hard to say whether a grown-up man would commit suicide because of ‘something so insignificant’. You have to know—the reason behind a corpse rising could be the hatred of a wife taken or a son killed, but it could also be a small matter like Person A refusing to play with Person B when they were young.”
Young Master Qin was still reluctant, “It definitely wasn’t suicide! If a person wants suicide, they can either hang themselves or take poison, but who would choose to fall off a mountain? You wouldn’t even know if you’d die successfully. It definitely wasn’t suicide.”
Wei WuXian, “You do make sense. But have you ever thought, Young Master Qin, about the possibility that he only fell from the mountain because you broke his leg and he couldn’t walk well? If this were the case, round it up, and wouldn’t it mean you killed him. Wouldn’t it be worse?”
Young Master Qin fumed, “What do you mean round it up and I killed him? If this were the case, it’d be called an accident!”
Wei WuXian, “Are you sure you want to persuade someone who died in such a way that their death was an ‘accident’? The fact that he’s back means that somebody has to be responsible for this ‘accident’, doesn’t it?”
The moment Young Master Qin said one thing, he followed up with another, his refutations making sweat seep from Young Master Qin’s darkened face. Wei WuXian spoke again, “But there’s no need for despair. I’ll tell you one last way of protection. You can do this for now.”
Young Master Qin, “Do what?!”
With just one glance at Wei WuXian, Lan WangJi knew that he was going to start blathering again. He shook his head.
Wei WuXian, “Listen carefully. You have to keep the two doors that have already been broken free of obstruction. You’ll no longer keep that thing out with closed doors, anyways.”
Young Master Qin, “Yes!”
Wei WuXian, “Keep out the remaining individuals of your household, so that the irrelevant is not harmed.”
Young Master Qin, “Most of them have already gone anyways!”
Wei WuXian, “Good. Then find a virgin boy of profuse yang energy to guard your bedroom on a long bench at midnight. He’ll deal with whatever that comes.”
Wei WuXian, “That’s it. The virgin’s here already. As for anything else, you can ignore them all, Young Master Qin, and sleep until the break of dawn.”
The one he pointed to was Lan SiZhui. The moment Young Master Qin heard the last sentence, his lips twitched uncontrollably as he glanced at the gentle-looking boy, “If he’s guarding the door, what about you two?”
Wei WuXian, “Of course we’ll be behind the door and accompanying you, Young Master Qin. If the door fails and the corpse barges inside, we’ll do something about it.”
Young Master Qin couldn’t hold it any longer, “Can’t this Young Master here directly help me guard the door?”
The one he pointed to was Lan WangJi.
And thus, Wei WuXian was flabbergasted, “Who do you mean? Him?”
He laughed so hard he almost fell over, “Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!”
Only with Lan WangJi wrapping an arm around his shoulder did Wei WuXian succeed in holding himself up, “No.”
Young Master Qin felt quite displeased by the curt refusal, “Why not?”
Wei WuXian’s face was solemn, “Did you forget what I said? It has to be a virgin.”
“…” Young Master Qin didn’t buy it, “What, he isn’t?”
Long after Lan SiZhui accompanied Young Master Qin out of Bamboo Cottage, Wei WuXian was still splitting his sides with laughter.
Lan WangJi glanced at him before suddenly hauling Wei WuXian over, onto his legs. His voice was calm, “Have you had enough?”
Wei WuXian, “No!”
Seated on Lan WangJi’s lap, he continued, “HanGuang-Jun, what a deceitful face you have. Everyone says you’re pure and chaste and ascetic. I feel extremely wronged.”
Lan WangJi lifted him a bit so that Wei WuXian sat higher and the two were closer, “Wronged?”
Wei WuXian, “It’s absolute nonsense. You see, you’re clearly not a virgin anymore, yet when people see your face, they say you are one no matter what. In my previous life, I’ve never touched a girl’s hand except when I’m trying to save someone, but not a single person believed that I was a virgin.” He began to count, “Night-hunting while at school! Everyone gossipped about me playing around with girls. Up on Burial Mound! Everyone gossiped about me being a satyr of anarchy. How bitter is the silence in which I’m doomed to suffer.”
In silence, Lan WangJi put his hand over Wei WuXian’s, an unnoticeable smile rippling through the depths of his eyes.
Wei WuXian, “And you’re smiling. You’re such a cold, heartless man. After all, I rank fourth on the list of young masters, yet in that one life I’ve only kissed someone once. I’ve always thought that it was a pretty maiden who had a crush on me, thinking that I, Wei Ying, lived a life not wasted. But who knew it was actually you…”
At this point, Lan WangJi finally couldn’t sit any longer.
He spun around and pressed Wei WuXian onto the bed, “Do you not want it to be me?”
“What are you so anxious for? Hahahahahahahahaha…”
When the time came, Lan SiZhui had been waiting for quite a while, standing in the courtyard with Lil’ Apple reined, when Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi finally sauntered out of the house.
He wanted to tell him, Senior Wei, you accidentally wore HanGuang-Jun’s clothes again. But after some thought, he still swallowed the sentence.
After all, Wei WuXian wore the wrong clothes every couple of days. If he reminded Wei WuXian every single time, wouldn’t he die of fatigue?
And every time Senior Wei would wear it anyways because he thought it was too much trouble to change. Feeling that there was no point in reminding him anyways, Lan SiZhui decided he’d much rather pretend he saw nothing.
Wei WuXian mounted Lil’ Apple and fished out an apple from the girdle pouch, taking a crisp bite. Lan SiZhui stared at the apple, finding it familiar. He spoke after some hesitation, “Senior Wei, is that one of the fruits Young Master Qin brought over?”
Wei WuXian, “That’s right.”
Lan SiZhui, “… A fruit brought over by a fierce corpse?”
Wei WuXian, “Exactly.”
Lan SiZhui, “Is it really alright to eat it?”
Wei WuXian, “Of course. It just fell on the ground, after all. You can eat it after some washing.”
Lan SiZhui, “Would the apple of a fierce corpse be poisonous…”
Wei WuXian, “I can answer this question for you—no.”
Lan SiZhui, “How do you know, Senior?”
Wei WuXian, “Because I’ve already fed half a dozen to Lil’ Apple… Stop, Lil’ Apple! Don’t kick!! Help me, Lan Zhan!!!”
Lan WangJi grabbed the rein of the mad donkey with one hand and with the other took away the apple next to Wei WuXian’s mouth, “Leave it be. We can buy some tomorrow.”
Wei WuXian held his shoulder, finally managing to steady himself, “Well I’m trying to save some money for HanGuang-Jun, am I not?”
Lan WangJi, “That will never be necessary.”
Wei WuXian scratched his chin, grinning. Suddenly, it seemed as if he remembered something. He asked casually, “Oh, right, SiZhui, are you a virgin?”
He asked as naturally as ever, yet Lan SiZhui burst with a ‘pfft’.
The act was truly not very ‘Lan’. Having noticed that Lan WangJi glanced at him, Lan SiZhui fixed his composure at once. Wei WuXian added, “Don’t be so nervous. I made up everything I told Young Master Qin. Some spells and such do need to be carried out by virgins, but since you’re cutting a fierce corpse with a sword, there’s really not much different whether you’re a virgin or not. But if you aren’t, I’ll be quite surprised…”
Before he even finished, Lan SiZhui already began to stammer, face flushed, “O-O-O-Of course I am!!!”
In the middle of the night, the empty Qin residence was wide-open as expected. Young Master Qin had long since been waiting for them.
Lan SiZhui stood before Young Master Qin’s door, appearing quite reliable despite the lack of any armor. Seeing his spirit of youthful fearlessness, Young Master Qin stopped frowning so grimly, but still he didn’t ease up. After he entered his bedroom, he shut the door and turned around, “Is it really alright to let the young master guard the door? What if the exorcism fails and on top of that another life is lost in my house…”
The other two had already sat down at the table. Wei WuXian replied, “No lives will be lost. Young Master Qin, think about just how long the corpse has been haunting—has a single life been lost in your household?”
Young Master Qin sat down as well. Wei WuXian put one of the corpse’s pears on the table, “Have some fruit to calm your nerves.”
Under the days of pressure, Young Master Qin was already in somewhat of a haze. He picked it up and took his to his mouth. Just as he was about to speak, he suddenly heard a series of ‘thump thump’, ‘thump thump’.
At once, it seemed as though a cold gust of air swept inside the room. The candlelight on the table flickered.
The pear in Young Master Qin’s hand dropped to the ground, rolling to the side. Once again, he put his right hand to the sword hilt by his waist.
‘Thump’, ‘thump’, ‘thump’.
The noise grew louder, closer. Each time it sounded, the flame trembled as though it felt fear.
The sharp swish of a sword being unsheathed came from beyond the door. A faint shadow glid past the paper window. The noise disappeared immediately, and what replaced it was the sounds of sleeves flapping as well as the crash of wooden furniture being broken.
Young Master Qin’s complexion darkened, “What’s happening outside?!”
Wei WuXian, “They’ve only started fighting. Don’t mind them.”
Lan WangJi listened for a moment, “Excessive.”
Wei WuXian understood what he meant. From the sounds of the sword and the footsteps, he could tell that Lan SiZhui’s swordplay was swift and fierce, lacking in firmness. It wasn’t that it was inadequate, but rather that it wasn’t consistent with the GusuLan Sect’s sword way. If his vigor wasn’t in harmony or if he used many different methods, he might reach a dead end once he cultivated to a higher level.
He replied, “He’s pretty good already. SiZhui is still young. He can’t control his attacks. He’ll know after he grows up and gains more experience duelling others.”
Lan WangJi shook his head. He listened some more before suddenly turning to Wei WuXian.
Wei WuXian was also somewhat surprised. He heard it to. Just now, a few of Lan SiZhui’s attacks weren’t of the GusuLan Sect, but instead of the YunmengJiang Sect.
But he’d never taught any of that to the GusuLan Sect’s juniors. He speculated, “SiZhui and the rest of them regularly go on night-hunts with Jin Ling. He probably retained them unconsciously while duelling him.”
Lan WangJi, “It is inappropriate.”
Wei WuXian, “Then are you going to punish him once you get back?”
Lan WangJi, “Yes.”
Young Master Qin, “What are you talking about?”
Wei WuXian picked the pear up from the ground and laid it beside his hand once again, “Nothing. Eat something to calm your nerves. Don’t be so nervous.” Right after, he smirked at Lan WangJi, “On the other hand, HanGuang-Jun, you’re absolutely incredible. It’s no wonder that I can tell it’s Yunmeng’s swordplay, but how could you tell?”
As though after a short pause, Lan WangJi finally replied, “I learned them after duelling you so many times.”
Wei WuXian, “That’s why I said you were incredible. The couple of times from over a decade ago were the only instances when I fought you with the YunmengJiang Sect’s swordplay, weren’t they? Recalling them after listening for such a short while—isn’t that incredible?”
As he spoke, he pushed the candle toward Lan WangJi, wanting to see if his earlobes were red. Lan WangJi, however, saw through his malicious intentions. He put his fingers steadily over the hand with which Wei WuXian held the candle. With the wavering flame, the light was a cup of wine reflecting Wei WuXian’s grinning eyes and curved lips. The knot of Lan WangJi’s throat quivered slightly.
At this point, both of the two paused. Wei WuXian exclaimed with a ‘huh’. Young Master Qin seemed as though he faced a great peril, “What’s happening? Is there anything wrong with the candle?”
After some speechlessness, Wei WuXian replied, “It’s nothing. The candle’s great. It’d be better if it were brighter.”
He turned to Lan WangJi, “These moves are probably a few of SiZhui’s best ones. But they sound like neither your sect’s nor mine.”
A while later, Lan WangJi replied, brows slightly knitted, “Perhaps they are of the Wen Sect.”
Wei WuXian understood, “Wen Ning was probably the one who taught him. Fair enough.”
As they spoke, booming crashes kept on thundering outside, slowly growing louder. Young Master Qin’s face grew darker as well. Wei WuXian was also beginning to feel that something wasn’t right, calling outside, “SiZhui, we’ve exchanged a dozen sentences by now. It should be about time you’re finished, even if you’re trying to tear the house down, huh?”
Lan SiZhui answered, “Senior Wei, the corpse dodges really quickly, and it keeps on avoiding me!”
Wei WuXian, “Is it scared of you?”
Lan SiZhui, “No. It can fight. But it seems like it does not want to fight me!”
Wei WuXian mused, “It doesn’t want to hurt anyone irrelevant?”
He turned to Lan WangJi, “Now this is interesting. I haven’t seen a fierce corpse so reasonable in a long time.”
On the other hand, Young Master Qin seemed irritated, “Will he be alright? Why hasn’t he finished it yet?”
Wei WuXian didn’t even open his mouth when Lan SiZhui spoke again, “HanGuang-Jun, Senior Wei, the corpse’s hand is clawed on the left and clenched on the right. It looks like it is holding something in its hand!”
Hearing this, Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi exchanged a glance inside the room. Wei WuXian nodded faintly. Lan WangJi ordered, “SiZhui, sheath your sword.”
Lan SiZhui gaped, “HanGuang-Jun? I have not yet gotten a hold of…”
Wei WuXian rose, “It’s fine! Sheath your sword. There’s no need to fight anymore”
Young Master Qin, “No need to fight anymore?”
From outside the door, Lan SiZhui answered, “Yes!” With a ‘clang’, he sheathed his sword and leaped out of the way. Inside, Young Master Qin ranted, “What’s this supposed to mean? That thing is still outside!”
Wei WuXian got up, “There’s no need to fight anymore, by which I mean the matter’s mostly finished. Only one step is left.”
Young Master Qin, “Which step?”
With force, Wei WuXian kicked the door open, “This final step of mine!”
The two wooden flaps sprang open with a ‘bang’. A dark shadow stood rigid before the door, hair dishevelled and face grimy. Its white eyes shone in a grotesque manner.
Seeing the face, Young Master Qin’s expression changed at once. He unsheathed his sword as he backed away rapidly, yet the fierce corpse swept inside like a black storm, throttling his neck with its left hand.
Lan SiZhui had just stepped inside. Seeing the situation, just as he tried to go help him, he was stopped by Wei WuXian. Lan SiZhui deliberated that even though Young Master Qin had a hard, unlikeable character, he wasn’t so immoral that he deserved death. His two seniors definitely wouldn’t stand and watch the corpse kill him. With this, he calmed somewhat.
The dead servant had fingers like iron clamps. Young Master Qin’s face flushed purple, his forehead lined with vein. His sword had already made countless holes in the corpse’s body, but it was as futile as stabbing a piece of blank paper.
The corpse slowly raised his right fist and inched it toward Young Master Qin’s face, as though he was going to smash his brains out with the one punch. All of the other three inside the room had their eyes glued to the scene, especially Lan SiZhui, who almost couldn’t hold back his sword-gripping hand.
Just as he thought he was certain that Young Master Qin’s head would fly into pieces in the next moment, he saw the corpse’s fingers loosen. A flat, circular object slid out from between his fingers.
The object was connected at the ends by a black string. The corpse proceeded to wrap it around Young Master Qin’s neck.
Young Master Qin, “…”
Lan SiZhui, “…”
Only after it tried three times did it manage to lay it over Young Master Qin’s head. The difficult actions seemed so stiff and awkward that it was… truly the opposite of threatening.
Seeing that it was neither going to attack nor use the string to choke Young Master Qin, the two let out a breath of relief in unison.
Yet, before they could even let out the full breath, the corpse let out a punch with the force of lightning. Young Master Qin shrieked and collapsed on the ground, spewing blood from his nose and mouth.
After the corpse finished, it turned around and seemed as though it was going to leave. Lan SiZhui watched the scene unfold, mouth-gaping. Seeing this, he put his hand on his sword once again, but he felt that the situation was so absurd that it’d be even more absurd if he were to treat it seriously. He didn’t know whether to attack or not. Wei WuXian, on the other hand, was already half-dead with laughter, waving his hands at Lan SiZhui, “Don’t worry. Let it be.”
The fierce corpse turned around and looked at him. With a nod of its head, it dragged its broken leg and hobbled outside the door.
Watching its fleeing figure, Lan SiZhui only managed to speak up a while later, “Senior Wei, is it… alright to let it go just like this?”
Lan WangJi bent down to examine Young Master Qin’s bloodied face, “Yes.”
Lan SiZhui’s gaze turned back to Young Master Qin. He finally had the spare of mind to notice that what hung around his neck was a jade pendant.
The red string that tied the pendent seemed as though it’d been rolling in the soil for quite a few years. It was so dirty that it looked black, although the jade itself was till a warm white.
Wei WuXian, “Returned to its rightful owner.”
After Lan WangJi made sure that Young Master Qin was only unconscious and not dying, the two left the Qin residence along with Lan SiZhui.
Before they went, Wei WuXian kindly shut all three doors for Young Master Qin.
Lan SiZhui, “It is not easy, is it?”
Wei WuXian mounted Lil’ Apple, “What? You mean Young Master Qin? To be able to end the matter with just a single punch from the fierce corpse—it’s just the easiest thing ever!”
Lan SiZhui, “I did not mean Young Master Qin; I meant the fierce corpse. Of those that I have read, most of the recorded vengeance hauntings begin with taking kindness for granted in life and end with murder in death, with an especially feral sense of madness. And yet, this corpse…”
Standing before the doors scratched to pieces, Lan SiZhui turned around and took one last look, “It spent two years after it was revived in the mountains searching for a jade pendant it lost before it died. This is the first time I have seen a fierce corpse rise in order to do such a thing instead of to kill someone in vengeance.”
Wei WuXian fished out another apple, “Now that’s why I said I haven’t seen a fierce corpse so reasonable in a long time. With someone else the slightest bit more prone to hatred, it could sever one of Young Master Qin’s legs or even murder his entire house, and it wouldn’t be anythign special.”
Lan SiZhui thought about it, “Senior, I still have an unanswered question. In the end, was its leg broken because of Young Master Qin or not? Was this the reason behind its death?”
Wei WuXian, “No matter what, it didn’t see Young Master Qin as the one accountable for this, anyways.”
Lan SiZhui, “Okay. Then, is it really satisfied with just a single punch?”
Lan WangJi, “From what it appears, yes.”
Wei WuXian crunched down on the apple, “Right? They say that everyone is fighting for a single breath. When one dies with resentment, it’s all because that breath is still stuck at their chest. It threw all those fruits, returned the jade pendant, and gave Young Master Qin a good beating. After he let out that breath, it wouldn’t be clogged up anymore.”
Lan SiZhui, “How nice would it be if every spirit is so reasonable.”
Hearing this, Wei WuXian grinned, “What are you talking about, youngster? Even humans lose their reason when dealing with hatred, and you’d expect spirits to maintain any reason? You have to know—most of the people in this world feel that they themselves are very piteous.”
Lan WangJi gently tugged Lil’ Apple’s rein, his voice calm, “He was fortunate.”
Wei WuXian agreed, “Indeed. Young Master Qin has got quite the luck.”
After some time, Lan SiZhui finally couldn’t hold his words back any longer. Sincerely, he spoke, “But I still feel that only one punch might be a bit insufficient…”
Whether still under the shock of the corpse’s punch or finally having given up on Wei WuXian, in the next few days, Young Master Qin hadn’t visited him again.
However, seven days later, news of him circling around the city found their way over here.
It was rumored that one morning, a young corpse wearing tattered burial robes was found in the middle of the streets. It was already half-rotten, emitting a strong stench. As the crowd discussed if they should wrap it in a mat and bury it in a ditch somewhere, the one and only Young Master Qin generously provided the funds to collect the corpse and bury it properly. For a while, he received the praise of all.
When Lan WangJi and Wei WuXian left the city and passed the Qin estate, it had long since reinstalled a gleaming new set of doors. People scurried in and out, leaving no trace of the previous chaos and desolation. It was a bustling scene indeed.