Guile Chapter 50—Part Five
He kicked his saber off to the side and ran out of the field. Jin GuangYao shouted from behind him, “HuaiSang! HuaiSang!”
Just as he was about to chase over, Nie MingJue ordered in a cold voice, “Stop!”
Jin GuangYao stopped in his tracks and turned around. Holding in his anger, Nie MingJue glared at him, “You still dare come?”
Jin GuangYao answered in a low voice, “I came to acknowledge my mistake.”
Wei WuXian, What a face—it’s even thicker than mine.
Nie MingJue, “Have you ever acknowledged your mistakes?”
Just as Jin GuangYao was about to speak, the disciples who had gone to bring medicine came back, “Sect Leader, LianFang-Zun, Young Master has locked the door and won’t let anyone inside.”
Nie MingJue, “Let me see how long he can lock himself up for. How dare he defy me?!”
Jin GuangYao spoke to the disciple with a kind countenance, “Thank you. Give me the medicine. I’ll take it to him afterwards.”
He took the bottle of medicine. After everyone had left, Nie MingJue turned to him, “Just what are you here for?”
Jin GuangYao, “Brother, have you forgotten? Today is when I play the guqin for you.”
Nie MingJue gave him a straightforward answer, “There’s no room for discussion as to Xue Yang’s matter. You don’t need to flatter me. It’s not working at all.”
Jin GuangYao, “First, I’m not flattering you. Second, if it’s not working, Brother, then why would you care if I’m flattering you or not?”
Nie MingJue was silent.
Jin GuangYao, “Brother, these days you’ve been stricter and stricter towards HuaiSang. Is it the saber spirit…?”
After a pause, he continued, “Does HuaiSang still not know about the saber spirit?”
Nie MingJue, “Why would I tell him so soon?”
Jin GuangYao sighed, “HuaiSang is used to being spoiled, but he can’t be Qinghe’s idle Second Young Master for his whole life. One day he’ll realize that you’re doing this for him, Brother, just like how I realized that you’re doing this for me.”
Wei WuXian, Bravo, bravo. I wouldn’t be able to say such words even if given two lifetimes, but Jin GuangYao can adjust his tone so that it doesn’t sound strange at all. It even sounds a bit pleasing to the ears.
Nie MingJue, “If you really do understand, then come see me with Xue Yang’s head in your hand.”
Yet, Jin GuangYao replied almost instantly, “Yes.”
Nie MingJue looked toward him. Jin GuangYao stared back, then repeated, “Yes. Brother, if you give me one last chance, in two months’ time, I’ll come see you with Xue Yang’s head in my hand.”
Nie MingJue, “If you’re unable to do it?”
Jin GuangYao’s tone was firm, “If I’m unable to do it, Brother, you can do whatever you want to me.”
Wei WuXian was almost starting to respect Jin GuangYao.
Even though he was always scared of Nie MingJue, in the end, he could still use a myriad of verbal techniques to make Nie MingJue give him another chance. The same night, as though nothing had happened, Jin GuangYao began to play Sound of Clarity in the Unclean Realm again.
His oath was as solemn as could be. However, Nie MingJue wasn’t able to wait the two months.
One day, the QingheNie Sect was hosting a martial arts conference. As Nie MingJue passed one of the annexes, he suddenly heard the hushed voice of somebody, possibly Jin GuangYao. Yet, a second later, he heard another familiar voice.
Lan XiChen, “Since Brother chose to make the oath with you, it means that he has indeed approved of you.”
Jin GuangYao spoke with dejection, “But, Brother, didn’t you hear what he said in the oath? Every sentence meant something more. ‘Face a thousand accusing fingers, be torn from limb to limb’—this was clearly a warning for me. I… I’ve never heard of such an oath before.”
Lan XiChen replied in a gentle voice, “He said ‘if one were to think otherwise’. Do you think otherwise? If not, then why should you worry over it so much?”
Jin GuangYao, “I don’t, but Brother has already decided that I do, so what can I do?”
Lan XiChen, “He has always cherished your talent, hoping that you would choose the right path.”
Jin GuangYao, “It’s not that I don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong, but that sometimes I really can’t help. Nowadays, I have it bad no matter which side I’m on. I have to ensure that I’m on everyone’s good sides. I wouldn’t care if it were someone else, but have I mistreated our eldest brother in any way? Brother, you heard as well. What did he call me?”
Lan XiChen sighed, “His anger was simply too great for him to have thought before speaking. Brother’s temper cannot compare to how it was in the past. You must not provoke him again. These past few days, he has been deeply troubled by the saber spirit, and HuaiSang has argued with him again. They still have not made up yet, even today.”
Jin GuangYao was almost sobbing, “If he could say such a thing when he was angry, then just how does he think of me on a daily basis? Is it that because I couldn’t choose my background, because my mother couldn’t choose her fate, I’ll have to be humiliated by others throughout my whole life? If so, then how is Brother different from the people who look down on me? No matter what I do, in the end, just a sentence and I’m ‘the son of a prostitute’.”
Jin GuangYao was, at the moment, complaining to Lan XiChen, yet just last night he had been all soft and innocent as he talked with Nie MingJue, playing the guqin. Hearing how Jin GuangYao spoke ill of him behind his back, Nie MingJue burned with anger and kicked the door open. The raging flames within his head traveled throughout the entirety of his body. A thunder-like roar exploded in the air, “How dare you!”
Seeing him enter, Jin GuangYao immediately panicked and darted behind Lan XiChen. Standing between the two, Lan XiChen didn’t even have the chance to speak as Nie MingJue lunged with his unsheathed saber. Lan XiChen blocked the attack with his sword, shouting, “Run!”
Jin GuangYao dashed out the door. Nie MingJue shook Lan XiChen off, “Don’t get in my way!”
He chased outside as well. As he passed a long corridor, he suddenly saw Jin GuangYao stroll toward him. He slashed with his saber and blood splattered out within an instant. But Jin GuangYao had clearly been running for his life. How could he have been walking back with such leisure?
After the strike, Nie MingJue rushed forward again, staggering. As he arrived at the square, he looked up, catching his breath. Wei WuXian could hear how rapidly his heart was beating.
On the square, all of people who walked around had the appearance of Jin GuangYao!
Nie MingJue had already encountered a qi deviation!
He was delirious, knowing only to kill, to kill, to kill kill kill, kill Jin GuangYao. He attacked anyone he came across. Shrieks surrounded the area. Suddenly, Wei WuXian heard somebody wail, “Brother!”
Nie MingJue shivered as he heard the voice, becoming slightly calmer. As he turned around, he could finally make out a different face from the blurry field of Jin GuangYao’s features.
Holding an injured arm, Nie HuaiSang dragged his leg behind him, desperately shifting toward Nie MingJue. Seeing that he finally stopped moving, Nie HuaiSang beamed, tears in his eyes, “Brother! Brother! It’s me, put down your saber, it’s me!”
But, before Nie HuaiSang could move over, Nie MingJue had fallen to the ground.
Before he fell, Nie MingJue’s eyes finally cleared up again and saw the real Jin GuangYao.
Jin GuangYao stood at the end of the corridor. Not even a trace of blood was on him. He looked over, two streams of tears pouring from his eyes.
The Sparks Amidst Snow bloomed wildly over his chest, however, they seemed to be smiling in place of him.
Suddenly, Wei WuXian heard a voice call for him from afar. The voice was both deep and cold. The first call was quite fuzzy. It sounded as though it was far, far away, between real and illusory. The second call sounded a lot more tangible. He could even distinguish an unnoticeable tone of worry within the voice.
And, as for the third call, he could hear it loud and clear.
Hearing this, Wei WuXian instantly pulled himself out!
He was still the thin paperman, stuck to the helmet that sealed Nie MingJue’s head. He had tugged loose the knot that tied the iron shells over Nie MingJue’s eyes, revealing a bloodshot eye, opened wide with anger.
There wasn’t much time left. He must return to his corporal body immediately!
Paperman WuXian flapped his sleeves, flying out as though he were a butterfly. Yet, just as he dove past the curtain, he saw somebody stand in the dark corner of the secret room. Jin GuangYao smiled. Without speaking a word, he pulled out a soft sword from his waist. It was the famous sword of his, Hensheng.
Back then, when Jin GuangYao worked undercover at Wen RuoHan’s side, he had often hidden the sword at his waist, wreathed the sword around his arm to use during critical moments. Although the blade of Hensheng seemed to be soft to the extremity, attacking with lingering motions, it was in reality both sharp and haunting. Once the blade had wrapped around the opposition, Jin GuangYao would apply it with a bizarre spiritual power, and one would quickly be severed into pieces by the sword, despite its tender appearance. Quite a few famous swords had been battered into piles of scrap iron just like this. At the moment, the blade of the sword attacked as though it was a serpent with silver scales, biting at the paperman without any hesitation. Losing focus for one second, and Wei WuXian would be caught in the fangs!
Paperman WuXian darted here and there, dodging the attacks with agility, but this wasn’t his own body, after all. After a few moves, the tip of Hensheng had almost sliced him. If this continued, he’d be pierced through for sure!
Suddenly, from the corner of his eye, he saw a sword lying silently in one of the wooden compartments on the wall. Nobody had polished the sword since a long time ago. Both the body of the sword and its surrounding area were covered in dust.
It was nothing else but his past sword, Suibian!
Paperman WuXian flew into the cabinet and stepped with force on Suibian’s hilt. With a clang, the blade heeded his command and sprang from the sheath!
Suibian flew out of its sheath and began to battle against Hensheng’s eerie sword glare. Seeing this, shock flashed across Jin GuangYao’s face. He regained his composure at once and nimbly twisted his right wrist. Like a vine, Hensheng wrapped itself around Suibian’s white, straight blade. He immediately let go of it, letting the two swords fight alone. With his left hand he flung a talisman toward Wei WuXian. The talisman ignited in midair, bursting into wild flames. Wei WuXian could feel the waves of heat as it approached him. Taking advantage of the blinding rays from the two swords fighting above them, he quickly flapped his sleeves and rushed out of the room!
The time was about to run out. Wei WuXian couldn’t care less about hiding himself, flying all the way back to the guest residences. By chance, Lan WangJi happened to open the door. And thus, with a struggling thrust, he threw himself onto Lan WangJi’s face.
Paperman WuXian stuck like glue to half of Lan WangJi’s face. It looked as though it was shivering. Lan WangJi’s eyes were covered by its two wide sleeves. He let it shiver for a while before gingerly picking it up.
A while later, once his soul had returned successfully, Wei WuXian immediately took a deep breath. He raised his head, opened his eyes, and suddenly stood up. Yet, having not expected his body to still be disoriented, he felt dizzy and leaned forward. Seeing this, Lan WangJi caught him in his arms. Wei WuXian lifted his head once more, and the top of his head collided with Lan WangJi’s chin. With a thud, both of them grunted in pain. Wei WuXian rubbed his head with one hand and felt Lan WangJi’s chin with the other, “Ugh! I’m sorry. Lan Zhan, you alright?”
His chin having been stroked a couple of times, Lan WangJi lightly took Wei WuXian’s hand away before shaking his head. Wei WuXian tugged him, “Let’s go!”
Lan WangJi didn’t ask for too many details, either. He stood up so that they could leave before finally asking, “Where to?”
Wei WuXian, “The Fragrant Palace! The bronze mirror in there is the entrance to a secret room. His wife found out some secret of his and he dragged her inside, and she should still be there as of now! And ChiFeng-Zun’s head is in there as well!”
Jin GuangYao would definitely strengthen the seal on Nie MingJue’s head again and move it somewhere else. However, even if he could move the head, he wouldn’t be able to move his wife, Qin Su! After all, she was the mistress of Koi Tower. She attended the banquet just a while ago. If such a respected person had suddenly disappeared into nowhere, it’d be impossible for anyone not to suspect something. By taking advantage of this opportunity and barging inside, they could use their speed to prevent Jin GuangYao from having time to weave lies or shut Qin Su up!
The two attacked with tremendous force, kicking to the side anyone who tried to stop them. Jin GuangYao had trained the disciples around the Fragrant Palace to be more than alert. As soon as someone intruded, they would shout the alert even if they couldn’t defend anything, so that they could warn the master within the Fragrant Palace. However, at times like this, people often had the tendency to fall victim to their own wisdom. The louder the disciples’ alerts were, the more disadvantageous the situation was to Jin GuangYao. It was because of how countless sects had assembled here today. Aside from cautioning Jin GuangYao to take guard against the intruders, the alerts would draw them over as well!
The first to hurry over was Jin Ling. His sword was already unsheathed in his hand as he asked, “Why are you here?”
As he spoke, Lan WangJi had already walked up three steps of the ruyi stairs and unsheathed Bichen. Jin Ling seemed guarded, “This is my uncle’s bedchamber. Have you gone to the wrong place? No, you’re the intruders, aren’t you? What do you want?”
The cultivators who had gathered at Koi Tower also came over, one after another. All were surprised.
“Why is there so much noise here?”
“This is the Fragrant Palace. Isn’t it a bit unsuitable for us to…”
“I just heard the sound of the alerts…”
The cultivators both frowned and panicked. No sound came from within the palace. Wei WuXian readily knocked on the doors, “Sect Leader Jin? Chief Jin?”
Jin Ling fumed, “Just what do you want? Everyone is here because of you! This is my uncle’s bedchamber, bedchamber, you understand?! Haven’t I told you not to…”
Lan XiChen walked over, and Lan WangJi looked at him. As their eyes met, Lan XiChen’s expression hesitated before immediately becoming more complex, as though he found something unbelievable. It seemed that he already understood.
Nie MingJue’s head was right inside of the Fragrant Palace.
Suddenly, a smiling voice echoed, “What’s wrong? Is it that the reception during the day wasn’t good enough, and everyone wants to host an evening banquet here at my place?”
Jin GuangYao walked calmly out of the crowd. Wei WuXian, “LianFang-Zun, what a good timing. If you came a bit later, then we wouldn’t be able to see what’s in the secret room of the Fragrant Palace.”
Jin GuangYao paused, “Secret room?”
Everyone looked rather confused, unsure of what was going on. Jin GuangYao looked somewhat lost, “And? Are secret rooms a rarity? With a couple of scarcely used treasures, any sect would have treasure rooms, right?”
Just as Lan WangJi was about to speak, Lan XiChen interrupted.
He spoke, “A-Yao, would it be possible to let us in and allow us to take a look at your treasure room?”
Jin GuangYao looked as though he found the request both strange and difficult, “Brother, since it’s called a treasure room, the things inside are best if put away. And you want me to open it all of a sudden. Well…”
Within such a short period of time, it was impossible for Jin GuangYao to have transported Qin Su somewhere else without anybody knowing. The transportation talisman could only transport the one using the talisman. Judging from Qin Su’s current state, it was impossible for her to have either the spiritual power or the intention to use such a talisman. Which was why, as of the moment, Qin Su must still be in there.
Alive or dead—either way, it’d be a fatal to Jin GuangYao if found out.
Jin GuangYao put up a final struggle. He was still so calm, tossing excuses everywhere. Unfortunately, the more he refused, the more certain Lan XiChen’s tone became, “Open it.”
Jin GuangYao looked fixedly at him. All of a sudden, he grinned, “Since Brother is so intent on it, then I must open it for everyone to see, mustn’t I?”
He walked to the front of the door, which opened at a wave of his hand. From amid the crowd, someone remarked coldly, “People say that the GusuLan Sect values conduct the most. Seeing from this, it seems that rumors are only rumors. Barging into the bedchamber of a sect leader is good conduct indeed.”
Back when they were in the square, Wei WuXian heard the Jin Sect’s disciples receive the certain person with much respect, calling him “Sect Leader Su”. This was the sect leader of the rising MolingSu Sect—Su She. Su She wore white robes. With slender eyes, fine brows, and thin lips, he was quite handsome, somewhat arrogant as well. Yet, although his air and features could be described as fair, they weren’t anything special.
Jin GuangYao, “Forget it, forget it. It’s not as though there are any disreputable things.”
The tone that he spoke with had been controlled with great care. Others would think that he had a nice temper, and yet could also hear a slight degree of awkwardness. Jin Ling followed behind him. Indignant at how his uncle’s bedchamber had been barged in, he gave quite a few glares to Wei WuXian.
Jin GuangYao spoke again, “You would like to look at the treasure room, right?”
He put his hand over the bronze mirror. Drawing formless incantations on the mirror, he was the first one to pass through. Following closely behind him, Wei WuXian entered the secret room again. He saw the curtain covered in incantations hanging over the cabinet. He saw the iron table of cutting corpses apart.
He also saw Qin Su.
Qin Su stood by the table with her back to them. Lan XiChen was somewhat stunned, “Why is Madam Jin here?”
Jin GuangYao, “All of our possessions are shared. A-Su often comes in here to look at things as well.”
Seeing Qin Su, Wei WuXian was also surprised, So Jin GuangYao didn’t transfer her somewhere else or kill her? Isn’t he scared that Qin Su might say something?
Worried, he turned to Qin Su to scrutinize the side of her face. Qin Su was not only still alive, but in fact living quite well. There was nothing unusual about her at all. Although her expression was blank, Wei WuXian was certain that she had neither undergone some sort of an enchantment nor drunk any strange poisons. Her mind was conscious.
But the more conscious she was, the stranger the situation was. He saw with his own eyes just how strong Qin Su’s emotions were, how much she resisted Jin GuangYao. How could Jin GuangYao have reached an agreement with her and silenced her mouth within such a short period of time?
A foreboding feeling grew in Wei WuXian. He immediately decided that this wasn’t as smooth as they had thought. He walked toward the treasure cabinet and quickly lifted the curtain.
Behind the curtain, there wasn’t any helmet, much less any head. There was only a dagger.
The dagger shone coldly, emitting strong killing intent. Lan XiChen had been staring at the curtain as well, but he hadn’t made his mind to lift it or not. Seeing that it wasn’t what he thought it was, he seemed to let out a sigh of relief, “What is this?”
“This,” Jin GuangYao walked over and played with the dagger in his hand, “Is something rare. The dagger was the weapon of an assassin. It killed countless people and it’s extremely sharp. Look at the blade of the dagger—if you look closely, you’ll see that the reflection inside it isn’t yourself. Sometimes it’s a man, sometimes it’s a woman, sometimes it’s an elder. Every one of those reflections is a spirit that had died in the assassin’s hands. Its energy is too strong, which is why I hung a curtain there to seal it.”
Lan XiChen frowned, “This must be…”
Jin GuangYao replied calmly, “That’s right. It belonged to Wen RuoHan.”
Jin GuangYao was clever indeed. He had expected that one day somebody might discover the secret room. Thus, aside from Nie MingJue’s head, he had also placed a number of other treasures here, such as swords, talismans, stone tablets, spiritual weapons—it was full of rare items. The secret room looked exactly like the average treasure room. The dagger, as he had said, was a rare item that held intense dark energy. Many sects had the habit of collecting such weapons, much less a war trophy from killing the leader of the QishanWen Sect.
Everything looked as normal as ever.
Qin Su stood beside Jin GuangYao. As she watched him play with the dagger, she suddenly reached out and snatched it from his hands!
His features began to twist and tremble, along with her face. Others couldn’t read such an expression, but Wei WuXian could, having seen the argument she had with Jin GuangYao.s
Pain, anger, humiliation!
Jin GuangYao’s smile froze, “A-Su?”
Lan WangJi and Wei WuXian both went for the dagger. However, within a flash, the edge of the dagger had already sunk deeply into her stomach.
Jin GuangYao wailed, “A-Su!”
He rushed forward and grabbed Qin Su’s limp body. Lan XiChen immediately took out medicine. Yet, not only was the dagger’s blade sharper than usual, its energy was heavy as well. Qin Su died within the blink of an eye!
Nobody had expected such an incident; everyone was shocked. Jin GuangYao called his wife’s name mournfully. His eyes were wide open as he cupped her face with one hand. Tears ceaselessly splashed onto her cheeks. Lan XiChen, “A-Yao, Madam Jin… I am sorry.”
Jin GuangYao looked up, “Brother, what is going on? Why would A-Su suddenly take her own life? And, why would you gather in front of the Fragrant Palace and demand me to open my treasure room? Is there anything that you haven’t told me?”
Jiang Cheng, having arrived late, spoke in a cold voice, “ZeWu-Jun, please explain this. All of us are still in the dark.”
Everyone agreed with him. Lan XiChen could only begin, “Sometime ago, a few of the GusuLan Sect’s disciples were on a night-hunt. When they passed Mo Village, they were met with the attack of a left arm that had been dismembered. Both its resentful energy and its killing intent were heavy. Led by it, WangJi had been investigating. However, after we had gathered all parts of the corpse, we discovered that the corpse was… our eldest brother.”
All of the people in and out of the treasure room bursted into an uproar!
Jin GuangYao was more than shocked, “Brother? Hadn’t Brother been buried? Both you and I saw it with our own eyes!”
Nie HuaiSang thought that he might have heard wrong, “Brother? Brother XiChen? You mean my brother? And also your brother???”
Lan XiChen nodded heavily. Nie HuaiSang’s eyes rolled up. He collapsed on the ground with a thud. A circle of people immediately began to shout.
“Sect Leader Nie! Sect Leader Nie!”
“Where’s the medic?!”
Jin GuangYao’s eyes still held tears, but appeared as if they were red with anger. He clenched his hands into fists and shouted with both grief and resentment, “Dismembered… Dismembered! Who in this world could’ve done such an insane act?!”
Lan XiChen shook his head, “I do not know. When we were searching for the head, the clues disappeared.”
Jin GuangYao paused, as though he finally knew what was going on, “The clues disappeared… so you came to search me?”
Lan XiChen was silent. Jin GuangYao looked as if he didn’t believe it. He asked again, “You wanted me to open the treasure room, because you were suspicious… that Brother’s head is at my place?”
A look of guilt passed over Lan XiChen’s face.
Jin GuangYao’s head hung low, Qin Su’s corpse still in his arms. After a while, he spoke, “… Forget it. Drop the matter. But, Brother, how did HanGuang-Jun know that such a treasure chamber was inside my bedchamber? And how was it decided that Brother’s head is inside my room? Koi Tower is quite fortified. If this really was my doing, would I have let Brother’s head be discovered so easily?”
Hearing his questions, Lan XiChen couldn’t seem to find any answers. Not only he, Wei WuXian couldn’t answer them either. Who could’ve expected that, within such a short time, Jin GuangYao was not only able to move the head somewhere else, but also prompt Qin Su to take her own life before everyone’s eyes?!
As he his thoughts spun with desperation, Jin GuangYao sighed, “XuanYu, did you tell this to Brother and all those people? What’s the use of making up this sort of easily exposable lies?”
One of the sect leaders asked, “LianFang-Zun, who are you talking about?”
Somebody spoke coldly, “Who? The one standing beside HanGuang-Jun, of course.”
Everyone turned to look at him. The person who spoke was Su She. He continued, “The people who aren’t from the LanlingJin Sect might not have heard of who he is. His name is Mo XuanYu. He used to be a disciple of the LanlingJin Sect. Back then, because of his indecent conduct, he was thrown out for the reason of harassing LianFang-Zun. Yet, speaking from the hearsay nowadays, he has proven himself to the likings of HanGuang-Jun, even following him wherever he goes. Why would HanGuang-Jun, who has always been known for his grace and righteousness, keep such a person by his side? It truly is difficult to understand.”
Listening to him speak, Jin Ling’s face darkened. Amid the chatters of the crowd, Jin GuangYao lay down Qin Su’s corpse and slowly stood up. One hand on the hilt of Hensheng, he walked a step closer to Wei WuXian, “I won’t bring up anything from the past, but please explain in all honesty. A-Su’s bizarre death—are you involved in this at all?”
When Jin GuangYao lied, it really was unashamed and full of vigor! As others heard this, of course they’d think that Mo XuanYu had slandered LianFang-Zun and caused Madam Jin to take her own life since he held hatred toward him. Even Wei WuXian couldn’t think of anything to say in refutation. What could he say? How he saw Nie MingJue’s head? How he snuck into the secret room? The name of the person whom Qin Su saw before she died? The odd letter that could easily be argued as fictitious and fabricated? Such refutation would only make him look even more suspicious! As he tried to think of a plan, Hensheng had already unsheathed. Lan WangJi stood in front of him as Bichen blocked the attack.
As the other cultivators saw, they unsheathed their swords as well. Two swords came at him from the side. Wei WuXian had no weapons in his hands, and so he was unable to defend himself. Turning around, he happened to see Suibian lie atop the cabinet. He immediately grabbed it and unsheathed the sword!
Jin GuangYao’s expression froze as he exclaimed, “It’s the YiLing Patriarch!”
Within the instant, all of the blades of the LanlingJin Sect’s disciples turned to point at him. Jin Ling’s did as well!
His identity having suddenly been exposed, Wei WuXian stared at Jin Ling’s disordered expression. Facing Suihua’s blade, he was still confused. Jin GuangYao spoke again, “What a surprise that Patriarch YiLing has returned to this world and decided to make an appearance here. Apologies for the lack of reception.”
Wei WuXian still felt puzzled, having not the slightest clue how he revealed himself. Nie HuaiSang spoke dizzily, “Brother? What did you call him? Isn’t this Mo XuanYu?”
Jin GuangYao pointed Hensheng at Wei WuXian, “HuaiSang, A-Ling, come over. Everyone, please be careful. Since he pulled his sword out, he’s most definitely the YiLing Patriarch— Wei WuXian!”
Because of how the name of Wei WuXian’s sword was too embarrassing to say, when people mentioned it, they always referred to it as “this sword”, “that sword”, “his sword”, and so on. The words “the YiLing Patriarch” evoked even more fear than how ChiFeng-Zun had been dismembered. Even the people who didn’t intend on fighting had involuntarily unsheathed their swords, circling this side of the secret room. Wei WuXian glanced across at the field of sword glares in front of him, saying nothing.
Nie HuaiSang, “Don’t tell me that whoever pulls out the sword must be the YiLing Patriarch. Brother, HanGuang-Jun, I’m guessing that there’s some sort of a misunderstanding between the two sides, right?”
Jin GuangYao, “There are no misunderstandings. He’s Wei WuXian for sure.”
Jin Ling suddenly shouted, “Wait! Uncle, wait! D-didn’t my uncle hit him with Zidian back at Dafan Mountain? His soul didn’t get whipped out, so it must mean that he didn’t possess this body, right? And so he can’t be Wei WuXian right?!”
Jiang Cheng’s face looked very dark. He didn’t speak as his hand pressed onto the hilt of his sword, as though he was thinking about what to do. Jin GuangYao, “Dafan Mountain? That’s right. A-Ling, now that you reminded me, I’ve also remembered just what had appeared on Dafan Mountain. Wasn’t he the one who summoned Wen Ning as well?”
Seeing that he not only couldn’t prove anything but was also refuted, Jin Ling’s complexion paled. Jin GuangYao continued, “I’m sure that none of you know this, but back when XuanYu was still at Koi Tower, he had seen a copy of the YiLing Patriarch’s manuscript at my place. The manuscript recorded a dark technique that ‘sacrificed’ one’s body. With the price being the soul and the body, one could summon a powerful spirit to seek revenge in place of themself. Sect Leader Jiang wouldn’t be able to test it even if he hit him with a hundred more strikes. It’s because the person who used the technique sacrificed their body willingly. It doesn’t count as a possession at all!”
The explanation was fair and reasonable. Hatred grew in Mo XuanYu after he was thrown out of Koi Tower. Recalling the technique that he had seen, he asked for a ferocious ghost to befall and summoned the YiLing Patriarch. Everything that Wei WuXian did was to seek revenge for Mo XuanYu, so the dismembering of ChiFeng-Zun’s corpse must’ve been due to Wei WuXian as well. In any case, before the truth could be determined, the biggest possibility was that it was all part of the YiLing Patriarch’s sinister plot!
But some people still doubted, “Since the technique of sacrifice can’t be proven, then according to your judgement, LianFang-Zun, we aren’t able to conclude anything, are we?”
Jin GuangYao, “It is true that body sacrifice cannot be proven, but whether or not he is the YiLing Patriarch can. Ever since the YiLing Patriarch had received the cultivation backlash and been torn to dust by his ghouls on the top of the Burial Mounds, his sword was collected by the LanlingJin Sect. But, not long afterwards, the sword sealed itself.”
Wei WuXian was surprised, Sealed itself?
A foreboding sense of worry stirred up within him. Jin GuangYao, “I believe that I don’t need to go into great depths to explain how a sword seals itself. This sword is spiritual. It refuses to let anyone apart from Wei WuXian use it, which was why it sealed. Aside from the YiLing Patriarch himself, nobody can pull it out. But just a second ago, ‘Mo XuanYu’ here pulled out, in front of everyone’s eyes, the sword that had been sealed for thirteen years!”
Before he even finished talking, dozens of sword glares shot toward Wei WuXian.
Lan WangJi blocked off all of the attacks. Bichen threw some people to the side to make out an unobstructed path for them. Lan XiChen, “WangJi!”
A few of the sect leaders who had keeled over from Bichen’s cold energy were fuming, “HanGuang-Jun! You…”
Wei WuXian didn’t even say one unnecessary word. Pressing his right hand on the window lattice, his body lightly flipped outside. As soon as he landed, he began to sprint, thinking, When Jin GuangYao saw the strange paperman and saw Suibian being unsheathed, he must’ve guessed who I was right there. And so he quickly made up a series of lies, causing Qin Su to take her own life, and then purposely force me to the cabinet with Suibian inside so that I could unsheath my sword and reveal my identity. Scary, scary. Who could’ve known that his reaction was so fast and his lies so flawless?
Suddenly, somebody came from behind him. It was Lan WangJi, who had followed him without speaking a word. Wei WuXian’s reputation had always been terrible, so it wasn’t his first time in such a situation. This life, his mindset was different from when he was in his past life. He could already face these situations calmly. He should get away first. There might be a chance of a counterattack in the days to come. He wouldn’t push it even if no such chance came. If he stayed, all that would come out of it were more than hundreds of slashes from the swords. Saying that he was actually innocent was even more of a joke. Everyone believed with utmost certainty that he’d return to seek revenge sometime in the future. Having destroyed countless sects, nobody would listen to his explanation, especially when Jin GuangYao would be there fanning the flames. Lan WangJi, though, was different from him. He wouldn’t even have to explain, and people would explain for him, such as how HanGuang-Jun had been deceived by the YiLing Patriarch.
Wei WuXian, “HanGuang-Jun, you don’t have to follow me!”
Lan WangJi looked straight in front of him, saying nothing in reply. The two left behind them a crowd of cultivators shouting to kill. Amid the chaos, Wei WuXian spoke again, “You really want to go with me? Think carefully. After you walk out this door, your reputation will be destroyed!”
The two had already dashed down the steps of Koi Tower. Lan WangJi grabbed his wrist, as though he was about to speak. Yet, suddenly, a white light flashed before their eyes. Jin Ling stopped them in their tracks.
Seeing that it was Jin Ling, Wei WuXian let out a sigh of relief. Just as the two were about to go around him, Jin Ling slashed his sword and blocked their way again, asking, “You’re Wei Ying?!”
His expression was a in a disarray. There was anger, there was hatred, there was doubt, there was hesitation, there was distress. He shouted again, “You really are Wei Ying, Wei WuXian?”
Seeing how he looked, the pain in his voice infinitely greater than the hatred, Wei WuXian felt his heart shake. But only a few seconds needed to pass before the crowd behind him would catch up. He couldn’t pay attention to him any longer. Clenching his teeth, he could only try for the third time to go around him. All of a sudden, a coldness passed through his stomach. As he looked down, Jin Ling had already pulled the white blade—now red with blood—out of him.
He didn’t expect that Jin Ling really would come at him.
The thought in Wei WuXian’s mind was, He could be like anyone, yet he just so happened to have taken over his uncle Jiang Cheng. They even like to stab the same places.
He couldn’t quite clearly remember what had happened next. He felt that he tried to attack. Everything around them seemed frenzied. Not only noisy, their escape seemed to bump and jolt as well. He didn’t know how long had passed, but when he hazily opened his eyes again, Lan WangJi flew on Bichen, while he was carried on Lan WangJi’s back. Blood had spilled onto half of his snow colored cheeks.
In truth, the wound at his stomach didn’t hurt too much. But it was a hole in his body, after all. In the beginning, he had managed for a while, as though nothing happened. It was likely, though, that the body hadn’t received many injuries before. As the wound bled, he couldn’t help but feel light-headed, and this wasn’t something that he could control.
Wei WuXian called out, “… Lan Zhan.”
Lan WangJi’s breathing wasn’t as placid as usual, feeling somewhat rushed. It was probably from carrying Wei WuXian while fending off attacks and being on the run for too long.
The tone in which he replied, however, was still the single syllable, as steady as ever, “Mnn.”
After the “mnn”, he added, “I am here.”
Hearing the words, something that Wei WuXian had never felt before sprouted within his heart. It was like sorrow. His chest hurt a bit, but also felt a bit warm.
He could still remember how, back in Jiangling, Lan WangJi came all the way to assist him, yet he didn’t appreciate the kindness at all. With all kinds of disputes, the two of them often parted with disapproval.
But what he hadn’t expected was that when everyone feared him and flattered him, Lan WangJi scolded him right in his face; when everyone spurned him and loathed him, Lan WangJi stood by his side.
Suddenly, Wei WuXian spoke, “Ah, I remember now.”
Lan WangJi, “What do you remember?”
Wei WuXian, “I remember now, Lan Zhan. Just like this. I… really have carried you before.”
Soft sword: The blade of a soft sword can bend and is often worn around belts or on arms. Nowadays, it has turned into a somewhat mystical weapon, considering that it’s only seen in wuxia novels but only few (to none) real-life examples. It would look similar as the Indian urumi, but sharper and more decorated.
Hensheng: This literally translates to “to detest/regret life”.