Chapter 27 Malice—Part Five
Only then did Lan WangJi turn to the front again, gaze still slightly off to the side. Seeing this, Wei WuXian blinked his eyes, wanting to make fun of him for some reason. Just as he was about to tease Lan WangJi, a shattering sound suddenly came from by the desk.
They both stood up to look. The teacups and teapot broke to pieces on the ground. A Qiankun Pouch lay amid the white shards of porcelain and the tea that spilled out. The surface of the bag went up and down, as if something was trapped inside, eager to come out.
Although the Qiankun Pouch was only the size of a fist, it was specially made to store things. Complex incantations were also sewn on both the inside and the outside, adding a few more sealing layers. Lan WangJi originally sealed the arm inside the pouch and put it under a teacup on the table. Now, seeing its agitation, they finally remembered that it was time to perform Rest. If not for the short nightly duets they perform to calm it, no matter how strong the Qiankun Pouch’s power of suppression was, it couldn’t trap the ghost hand alone.
Wei WuXian felt for the bamboo flute that had been by his waist, but he found nothing. Turning around, he saw that Lan WangJi already had the flute in his hands. Lan WangJi’s head tilted slightly downward. He only handed the flute back after carving on it for a while, in a dedicated manner. Taking the flute back, Wei WuXian noticed that, after it had been adjusted, even rough details such as the finger holes were much finer.
Lan WangJi, “Play it properly.”
Remembering the horrible duet they played in the Mingshi that angered Lan QiRen to the point of waking up from a coma and fainting again, Wei WuXian laughed so hard that he almost fell on the ground, thinking to himself, It must have been tough for him these few days, tolerating this for so long. He stopped himself from fooling around any longer and, with a serious expression, raised the flute to his lips. However, having only played a few notes, the Qiankun Pouch suddenly multiplied in size and stood upright on the ground!
A note cracked with a “tut”. Wei WuXian commented, “Has it gotten too used to the bad playing? I’m playing properly for once, and it doesn’t even like it.”
As if replying him, the Qiankun Pouch flung itself at Wei WuXian. Lan WangJi’s melody took a sharp turn. With one smooth gesture, the seven strings vibrated at once, emitting a noise so strong that it almost seemed like an avalanche. After the sound, the Qiankun Pouch fell backward to the ground again. As if nothing had happened, Wei WuXian continued playing. Lan WangJi’s wrist softened. Following the tune of Rest, the guqin’s melody became calm once more, and gradually blended with the flute’s.
The song finished, and the Qiankun Pouch finally shrunk to the size it had been, remaining motionless. Wei WuXian stuck the flute back by his waist, “In these few days, it’s never looked as impatient as this before. It seems as if it was provoked by something.”
Lan WangJi nodded and turned to him, “And, it was something on you.”
Wei WuXian immediately looked downward at himself. Today, there was only one thing on him that was different—the Curse Mark that had been transferred to him from Jin Ling.
Jin Ling’s Curse Mark was left on him when he was at the stone castles of the Xinglu Ridge. Seeing how strongly the ghost hand reacted to the Curse Mark, did it mean that…
Wei WuXian, “Do you mean that another part of his body might be within the walls of the Nie Sect’s Saber Hall?”
On the next morning, the two departed again, heading back to the Xinglu Ridge.
Yesterday, Nie HuaiSang had been caught and confessed everything. Over the night, he called for all of the sect’s reliable disciples to clean up the mess that the intruders created. When Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi walked over, the piece of wall that Wei WuXian dug Jin Ling out of had just been filled and a new corpse was already put inside. Watching the white bricks stack up neatly, he wiped some sweat off his brows. However, as he turned around, his legs almost gave out. He pulled a cringing smile onto his face, “HanGuang-Jun…and you…”
Wei WuXian waved his hands as he grinned, “Sect Leader Nie, you’re building the walls?”
Nie HuaiSang wiped sweat away with his handkerchief, rubbing so many times that he almost took a layer of skin away, “Yes, yes…”
Wei WuXian said in a voice filled with much empathy and a dash of timidity, “My apologies. I’m really sorry for the inconvenience, but you might need to build the wall again afterwards.”
Nie HuaiSang, “Yes, yes… What?! Wait!”
Before he could finish his sentence, Bichen unsheathed. Nie HuaiSang gaped as he watched the brick wall, which he repaired mere moment ago, crack open again.
Destruction was always easier than restoration. Wei WuXian’s speed at taking bricks down was countless times faster than their speed at stacking bricks. Nie HuaiSang trembled as he tightly gripped his fan, feeling so wronged that he was on the verge of bursting into tears. Yet, since HanGuang-Jun stood on the side and commented nothing, he didn’t dare to say anything either. After Lan WangJi explained the situation to him in a concise manner, he immediately swore to the Heavens and Earth, “Nonsense! That’s utter nonsense! The corpses that our Saber Hall uses are all complete with each limb attached. It’s impossible for there to be some armless male corpse. If you don’t believe me, I’ll take apart the wall with you and prove my innocence. But afterwards you must put them back as soon as possible, without any delay. After all, this is our ancestral burial ground…”
A few disciples of the Nie Sect also joined them. Now that there were other people doing the work, Wei WuXian backed off and stood on the side, waiting for results. After an hour, the stone bricks on the wall that Jin Ling had been buried in were mostly taken off. Some disciples put on face masks while others swallowed special red-colored pills, so that the breathing and human energy didn’t cause corpse transformations. Among the black dirt, an ashen hand or a vein-laced foot sometimes poked out, in addition to the tangled, grimey hair plastered everywhere. Each and every male corpse was hastily cleaned and set row-by-row on the ground.
The corpses came in all shapes and sizes—some were already skeletons, some were in the process of rotting, some were still quite fresh. However, every single one of them had a complete body. They didn’t find any male corpse that was missing a left arm.
Nie HuaiSang spoke warily, “Taking apart this one wall is enough, isn’t it? Does any more need to be taken down? Probably not, right?”
It was indeed enough. The Curse Mark on Jin Ling’s body was extremely dark in color, so the being that created it was most likely buried nearby him and the range would definitely not exceed this wall. Wei WuXian squatted down by a row of corpses. After pondering for a few moments, he turned to Lan WangJi, “Should we get the Qiankun Pouch?”
Taking the left hand out of the Qiankun Pouch for it to identify the body on its own wouldn’t be a bad idea. However, if it was too close to the other limbs of the corpse, it’d be hard not to agitate it and trigger worse situations. And, due to the abundance of dark energy in this special location, the level of danger multiplied. This was why they carefully chose to come during daytime. Wei WuXian shook his head and thought to himself, This doesn’t mean that the arm doesn’t belong to a man, does it? No, that’d be impossible. I can tell whether a hand belongs to a man or a woman at first sight… Then, would it mean that the owner has three arms?!
Just as he was about to laugh at his own thought, Lan WangJi spoke again, “The legs.”
With his reminder, Wei WuXian finally remembered. He overlooked the fact that the Curse Mark didn’t spread any further than his legs. He quickly called, “Take off the pants! Take off the pants!”
Nie HuaiSang was shocked to death, “Why would you say such a shameful thing in front of HanGuang-Jun?”
Wei WuXian responded, “How was it shameful? We’re all men, anyways. Help me take off all of the corpses’ pants. Only the male corpses! This has nothing to do with the female ones.” As he spoke, he started reaching out toward the belt sashes of the corpses on the ground. It really was unfortunate for Nie HuaiSang. He didn’t expect at all that, after confessing everything yesterday, today, he needed to take off the corpses’ pants right inside the Saber Hall of his ancestors. Moreover, they were male corpses. With a face full of tears, he thought that, for sure, after he died, he would be slapped once on the face by every ancestor in the QingheNie Sect and end up injured so badly that he’d be handicapped even after he reincarnated. Luckily, Wei WuXian’s act was stopped by Lan WangJi. Just as Nie HuaiSang was about to praise how worthy of his title HanGuang-Jun was, he heard him speak, “I will do it.”
Wei WuXian, “You’ll do it? You’re really going to do such a thing?”
The corners of Lan WangJi’s brows seemed to be twitching slightly, as if he was holding something back. He repeated, “Do not move. I will do it.”
This was the worst of all the shocks Nie HuaiSang experienced today.
Of course, Lan WangJi wouldn’t actually use his hands to pull on the corpses’ pants. He simply used Bichen and lightly sliced open the clothing on the corpses, revealing the skin inside. This wasn’t needed for some of the corpses, as the clothes were already quite ragged. A few moments later, he spoke up, “I found it.”
Everyone immediately looked toward the ground. On both thighs of the corpse beside Lan WangJi’s white boots, there were two light, circular marks. The stitches of the flesh-colored threads were tightly sewn around. There was a faint difference between the colors of the skin above and below the stitches. Clearly, the legs and upper body of the corpse didn’t belong to the same person.
This pair of legs was sewn on by someone!
Nie HuaiSang was already shocked speechless. Wei WuXian inquired, “Who chooses the corpses that the Nie Sect uses for the Saber Hall?”
Nie HuaiSang replied with a glazed expression, “Usually, the past sect leaders chose and stored them when they were still alive. My brother passed away at an earlier age. He didn’t have enough, so I also helped him choose some… I kept whichever corpses that were complete with all limbs. I don’t know about anything other than this…”
It’d be impossible to get anything out of him as to who exactly sneaked the corpse inside. From the people who provided the corpses to the disciples of the Nie Sect, there were countless suspects. It was likely that the truth would be revealed only if they found all body parts and pieced the corpse and soul together.
Finally having managed to separate the pair of legs and the other half of the male corpse, Wei WuXian put them inside a new Qiankun Pouch as he spoke to Lan WangJi, “Looks like our dear friend here was cut to pieces. And, not only that, the parts were scattered all over the place—one piece here, one piece there. Just how much hatred did the murderer hold for him? We can only hope that the pieces aren’t too tiny.”
Although Nie HuaiSang still said “see you” when they set off, judging from his frightened face, he most likely didn’t want to see them ever again for the rest of his life. The two left the Xinglu Ridge and returned to the inn. Upon arriving at the relatively safe place, they took out the three limbs and started to examine them. As they had expected, the pair of legs were of the same color as the severed arm. And, if they were put close together, they would react strongly, vibrating nonstop as if they wanted to join together. But the efforts were useless, as there was still one part of the body between them that was missing. It was certain that they belonged to the same person.
Aside from the fact that this was a man with a tall physique, long limbs, a muscular body, and a high level of cultivation, they knew nothing else about the mysterious corpse. Fortunately, the ghost hand soon pointed at where the next step would take place—the Southwest.
Following its direction, Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi made their way to Yueyang.
Qiankun Pouch: This was called the Qiankun Bag in past chapters, but now it has been changed to Qiankun Pouch because it is more suitable for its size.