Chapter 57 Poisons—Part Two
Wei WuXian paused, “He passed away.”
All of a sudden, Lan WangJi’s tear-streaked face, reflecting the firelight, flashed within his mind. He blurted out, “How’s Lan Zhan?”
Jiang Cheng, “How could he be? He went back. Father originally wanted to ask people to take him to Gusu. He refused. Judging from how he was, he should’ve known long ago that the day would come. After all, with the situation at hand, no sect is better than any other.”
The two sat down on the wooden fence again. Wei WuXian, “Then what’s going on with Lan XiChen?”
Jiang Cheng, “The Wen Sect was going to burn down their Library Pavillion, wasn’t it? Tens of thousands of ancient books and music scores. The Lan Sect’s people saved some. They probably gave them to Lan XiChen and told him to run away with them. They protected whatever they could, or else everything’d be gone. This is what everyone is guessing.”
Looking at the sky, Wei WuXian spoke, “How disgusting.”
Jiang Cheng, “Yeah. The Wen Sect is too disgusting.”
Wei WuXian, “For how long are they going to jump around like this? We’ve got so many sects. Can’t we join together and…”
Suddenly, a series of footsteps came. A group of boys wearing training clothes leaped across the hallway like monkeys, shouting, “Shixiong!!!”
The youngest shidi beamed, “Shixiong!!! You’re alive now!!!”
Wei WuXian, “What do you mean I’m alive now? I’ve never died to begin with!”
“Shixiong, I heard that you killed a beast over four hundred years old?! Is it true? You killed it?!”
“Compared to this, what I really want to know is, Shixiong, did you really go without food for seven days?!”
“You really haven’t secretly practiced inedia behind our backs?!”
“Just how big really was the Xuanwu of Slaughter? Would it fit inside Lotus Lake?!”
“The Xuanwu of Slaughter was just a tortoise right?!”
“Shixiong, you spent the entire seven days with Lan WangJi from Gusu? And he didn’t beat you to death?!”
The atmosphere that had been somewhat solemn was immediately smashed into a ruckus.
Wei WuXian’s injuries weren’t too heavy to begin with. He just didn’t apply medicine in time and suffered from both fatigue and hunger. But the physique of his body was quite good. After medicine had been applied to the brand mark on his chest, his fever soon died down. He was lively again with just a few days of rest. After the chaos of the Xuanwu of Slaughter in Dusk-Creek Mountain, the ‘Sector of Indoctrination’ that the Wen Sect had set up at Qishan had disintegrated completely. All of the disciples returned to their sects. On the other hand, Wen Chao didn’t follow up immediately either. Taking the opportunity, Madam Yu gave Wei WuXian a harsh talking-to and ordered him not to take one step out of the gates of Lotus Pier, not even to play in the lake. Thus, he could only shoot kites with the Jiang Sect’s disciples, day after day after day.
No matter how fun a game was, playing it every day would eventually become tedious. And so, about half a month later, the boys’ interest dwindled. Wei WuXian hadn’t been in the mood, either. He shot without any care and even let Jiang Cheng get first place a couple of times.
On one day, after the last round had been shot down, Wei WuXian used his right hand to form shade between his brows and looked into the sunset, “Let’s wrap things up and stop playing this. Food’s waiting at home.”
Jiang Cheng, “So early today?”
Wei WuXian tossed the bow to the side and sat on the ground, disappointed, “It’s boring. Let’s stop. Which ones were last in the round we just did? Go get them with our sixth shidi.”
One boy said, “Shixiong, you’re so tricky. You make others get them every time. That’s shameless.”
Wei WuXian waved his hands, “I have no other choice either. Madam Yu doesn’t let me go outside. She’s at home right now. Maybe JinZhu and YinZhu are watching from some corner, ready to turn me whenever possible. If I went out, Madam Yu’s gonna whip a whole layer of skin off me.”
The shidi who performed the worst bantered, laughing as they set off to get the kites. Jiang Cheng was standing, while Wei WuXian sat on the ground. The two were chatting. Wei WuXian asked, “Uncle Jiang went out so early in the morning—why hasn’t he come back yet? Would he make it in time for dinner?”
In the morning, Jiang FengMian and Madam Yu had an argument again. To call it an argument didn’t seem quite right. Madam Yu alone lost her temper, while some of Jiang FengMian’s bearing remained throughout the entire exchange. Jiang Cheng answered, “He’s at the Wen Sect for our swords again, isn’t he? Whenever I think that my Sandu might be held in the hands of a Wen-dog right now, I…”
His face revealed disgust. Wei WuXian, “What a shame that our swords don’t have that much spiritual energy yet. If they could sheath themselves, then nobody would be able to use them.”
Jiang Cheng, “If you cultivate for another eighty years, then maybe it’d be possible.”
Suddenly, a few boys rushed into the training fields of Lotus Pier, shouting with urgency, “Something’s happened! Shixiong, Shixiong, something’s happened!!!”
These were the shidi who had gone to fetch the kites. Wei WuXian jumped up, “What’s wrong?”
Jiang Cheng, “Where’s the youngest one? Why is there one missing?”
It was true. The youngest shidi was the one running in front of everyone when they had left, and now he was nowhere to be seen. One of the boys panted, “Our shidi was taken away!”
Wei WuXian picked up his bow as well. Weapon in hand, he asked, “Who took him? Why was he taken away?!”
The boy answered, “We don’t know! We don’t know why they took him!”
Jiang Cheng was anxious as well, “What do you mean you don’t know?”
Wei WuXian, “Nobody worry. Tell us clearly.”
The boy, “When, when we were getting the kites, the kite went over there, really far away. When we went over, we saw a few dozen people, all from the Wen Sect, wearing their uniform. There were disciples and servants. The one leading them was a young woman. She’s holding a kite in her hand and there was an arrow on the kite. She asked us whose kite it was when she saw us.”
Another boy continued, “The kite was our youngest shidi’s, so he said that it was his. Then the woman suddenly got angry and shouted ‘how dare you”, and then she told her people to take him away!”
Wei WuXian, “Just like that?”
The boys nodded, “We asked her why they were taking him away, and the woman kept on saying that he committed treason and had hidden motives, and she ordered her people to detain him. We couldn’t do anything about it so we ran back.”
Jiang Cheng cursed, “They don’t even have a reason for taking him away! Just what does the Wen Sect want to do?!”
“Yeah! There’s just no reason!”
Wei WuXian, “Nobody talk. The Wen Sect’s people could be knocking at our doors every second from now. Don’t let them hear anything we say that could be used to hold against us. Let me ask you, the woman, was she not wearing a sword? Does she look kind of pretty, with a mole above her lips?”
The shidi, “Yes! That’s her!”
Jiang Cheng spoke with hatred, “Wang LingJiao! That…”
Suddenly, the cold voice of a woman came, “Why the noise? Can’t I have just one day of peace and quiet?!”
Madam Yu strode over with her flowing violet robes. JinZhu and YinZhu were still armored, following behind her, one on the left and the other on the right. Jiang Cheng called, “Mom, the Wen Sect’s people are here. Our youngest shidi was taken by them!”
Madam Yu, “You all were shouting so loudly that I heard everything from inside. So what? He was taken away, not killed, and you’re already so worked up. Are you still what a future sect leader should be? Calm down!”
As she finished, she turned to face the gates before the training fields. About a dozen of the Wen Sect’s cultivators, dressed in the sun-patterned robes, entered one after another. Behind these cultivators, a woman in vibrant clothes walked inside with deliberate steps.
The woman’s figure was graceful. Her features were enchanting as well. With amorous eyes, fiery lips, and a small, black mole above her lips, she was quite an outstanding beauty. Yet, clad in rings and rings of jewelry, she seemed as if she wanted to clothe herself in the entire jewelry shop and all of the passion that her lover gave her; it really diminished her charm. This was Wang LingJiao, who had been stricken by Wei WuXian so hard that she retched up blood, back in Qishan.
Wang LingJiao smiled, “Madam Yu, I’m here again.”
Madam Yu displayed no expression, as though she felt that saying anything extra to her would dirty her mouth. Wang LingJiao walked down the stairs of the main gates. Only then did Madam Yu speak, “Why did you take a disciple of my YunmengJiang Sect?”
Wang LingJiao, “Take? You mean the one I took outside? That’d be a long story. Why don’t we take our time to talk about it after we sit down inside?”
A servant, without neither notification nor request, walked through the gates of another sect and demanded without any hesitation to go inside and ‘talk about it’ after they sat down inside. Madam Yu’s face grew colder. The finger on her right hand that wore the silver ring of Zidian twitched a few times. On the back of her hand, veins had slightly risen from her fair skin.
She questioned, “Talk about it after we sit down inside?”
Wang LingJiao, “Of course. I didn’t have the time to come have a seat inside the last time I came to give out orders. Please.”
Hearing the word ‘orders’, Jiang Cheng snorted coldly. JinZhu and YinZhu’s expressions also seemed angered. However, Wang LingJiao was still a favorite of Wen Chao’s side. At the moment, they couldn’t offend her. And so, although Madam Yu’s face was covered with ridicule, her tone dripping with sarcasm, she still replied, “Sure, then, why don’t you go inside?”
Wang LingJiao gave her a smile. She really did walk inside.
However, although she said she had wanted to sit, she didn’t sit at once. Instead, she sauntered with curiosity around Lotus Pier in a circle, putting her opinions everywhere:
“Lotus Pier really is quite nice. It’s so big. It’s just that all of the houses are a bit old.”
“All of the wood is black. The color is so ugly. It’s not bright enough.”
“Madam Yu, you aren’t a good mistress at all. Don’t you know to decorate the place a bit? Next time, hang up some more red curtains. It’d only be prettier that way.”
Walking along the path, she pointed around as if it was her own back garden. Madam Yu’s brows twitched so much that Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng thought she could kill someone any moment from now.
After they had finished the tour, Wang LingJiao finally arrived at the main hall. Without anyone’s invitation, she presumed her seat at the head table. She sat for a while. Seeing that nobody was going to serve her, she slammed the table with a frown, demanding, “Where’s the tea?”
Although she was enveloped in lustre, her mannerisms showed no courtesy at all. She acted like a complete buffoon. Having spent the journey with her, everyone was used to seeing this. Madam Yu sat down one seat lower. The wide hems of her robe and sleeves spread out, making her figure appear to be even more slender, her posture even more graceful. JinZhu and YinZhu stood behind her, both wearing light smirks on their faces.
YinZhu replied, “There is no tea. Get it yourself if you want any.”
Wang LingJiao widened her eyes, shocked, “Don’t the Jiang Sect’s servants ever do anything?”
JinZhu, “The Jiang Sect’s servants have more important things to do. Nobody ever needs others to do things like pouring tea. They’re not crippled.”
Wang LingJiao examined them, “Who are you?”
Madam Yu, “My personal maids.”
Wang LingJiao spoke with disdain, “Madam Yu, your Jiang Sect really is outrageous. This can’t be the case. Even maids dare interrupt a conversation in the main hall. Servants like this have their faces slapped in the Wen Sect.”
Wei WuXian, As the person saying this, you’re a servant as well, aren’t you?
Madam Yu replied without any hesitation, “JinZhu and YinZhu aren’t the usual servants. They’ve been staying with me ever since I was young. They’ve never served for anyone aside from me, and there hasn’t been anyone who can slap them. They can’t, and they don’t dare to.”
Wang LingJiao, “Madam Yu, what are you talking about? In a prominent sect, there has to be a clear distinction between the superior and the inferior for it to be not in chaos. Servants should be what servants ought to be.”
Madam Yu, however, seemed to deeply understand the phrase ‘servants should be what servants ought to be’. Glancing at Wei WuXian, she happened to concur, responding loftily, “That’s right.”
Immediately after, she questioned, “Just why did you take the disciple from my YunmengJiang Sect?”
Wang LingJiao, “Madam Yu, it’s best if you draw a clear line between yourself and that brat. He has hidden intentions, but he’s already been caught red-handed by me and transferred to wherever he’ll be taken care of.”
Madam Yu raised a brow, “Hidden intentions?”
Jiang Cheng blurted, “What hidden intentions could our youngest shidi have?”
Wang LingJiao, “I have proof. Bring me it!”
One of the Wen Sect’s disciples handed over a kite. Wang LingJiao shook the kite, “This is the proof.”
Wei WuXian laughed, “The kite is just the everyday one-eyed monster. What proof could this be?”
Wang LingJiao sneered, “Do you think I’m blind? Look carefully.”
The nail of her index finger, painted red with the mace of nutmeg, pointed here and there on the kite, analyzing presumptuously, “What color is this kite? Golden. What shape is the one-eyed monster? Round.”
Madam Yu, “And so?”
Wang LingJiao, “So? Madam Yu, haven’t you realized yet? Golden and round—what does it look like? … A sun!”
Under everyone’s gaping mouths, she continued triumphantly, “Out of so many designs, why did he make it a one-eyed monster? Why did he paint it golden? Couldn’t he have made it any other shape? Why isn’t it any other color? Are you going to say that this is a coincidence? Of course it isn’t. He must’ve done it on purpose. Shooting down such a kite is actually implying ‘shooting down the sun’! He wants to shoot down the sun! This is great disrespect towards the Wen Sect. Isn’t this a hidden intent?”
Watching how she performed such a far-stretched theory, so full of herself, Jiang Cheng finally couldn’t take it any longer, “Even though the kite is golden and round, it’s as different from a sun as it can be. Just how are they similar? They aren’t similar at all!”
Wei WuXian, “Then, according to you, you can’t eat tangerines either. Aren’t tangerines also golden and round? But I’ve seen you eat them many times before, haven’t I?”
Wang LingJiao glared at him. Madam Yu spoke coldly, “So, such a kite is what you came here for today?”
Wang LingJiao, “Of course not. Today, I’m representing the Wen Sect and Young Master Wen, here to punish someone.”
Wei WuXian felt his heart skip a beat.
As he had thought, the next moment, Wang LingJiao pointed at him, “On Dusk-Creek Mountain, this brat made rude remarks when Young Master Wen was fighting with the Xuanwu of Slaughter, causing many disturbances. He made Young Master Wen tired, almost losing to the beast—he even lost his sword!”
Hearing how she talked black into white and made up stories, Jiang Cheng was so furious that he laughed. Wei WuXian remembered Jiang FengMian, who went out earlier, and thought, They purposely chose to come at such a time. Or, rather, they purposely led Uncle Jiang out of here!
Wang LingJiao, “How lucky! The Heavens blessed Young Master Wen. Even though he lost his sword, he was able to safely take down the Xuanwu of Slaughter. But this brat, we really can’t tolerate him any longer! Today, I’m here under the orders of Young Master Wen. Madam Yu, please punish him harshly and make him an example to the rest of the YunmengJiang Sect!”
Jiang Cheng, “Mom…”
Madam Yu, “Shut your mouth!”
Watching Madam Yu’s reaction, Wang LingJiao was quite pleased, “Wei Ying, if I remember correctly, is a servant of the YunmengJiang Sect, isn’t he? At the moment, without the presence of Sect Leader Jiang, I’m sure that, Madam Yu, you know what’d be the best to do. Or else, if the YunmengJiang Sect insists on defending him, it’d really make people suspect… if certain rumors… are really true… Hee hee.”
Sitting at the frontmost seat where Jiang FengMian had always sat, she giggled, covering her mouth. Madam Yu moved her gaze over, face dark. Jiang Cheng heard that her words hinted at something. He fumed, “What rumors?!”
Wang LingJiao continued to giggle, “You ask, what rumors? It has to be those old romantic ties of Sect Leader Jiang…”
Seeing that such a woman dared to make up stories of Jiang FengMian right in front of them, flames bursted from within Wei WuXian, “You…”
However, pain suddenly shot out from his back. His knees couldn’t help but buckle. Madam Yu had suddenly stricken him with her whip.
Jiang Cheng broke out, “Mom!”
Madam Yu had already stood up. Zidian had turned into its whip form, sizzling between her hands of cold jade. She shouted, “Jiang Cheng, move out of the way, or you’ll be kneeling too!”
Wei WuXian tried to get up, pushing against the ground, “Jiang Cheng, move over! Don’t worry about me!”
Madam Yu lashed out her whip again, forcing him back onto the ground. She ground her teeth together, “… I’ve said long ago, that you… you unruly thing! Would bring trouble to the Jiang Sect, sooner or later!”
Wei WuXian pushed Jiang Cheng away. He clenched his teeth as he suffered, unspeaking and unmoving. In the past, although Madam Yu had always come at him with harsh words, she had never truly been cruel to him. The most that he’d been through were two or three strikes and being grounded. He’d also be let out by Jiang FengMian soon later. This time, however, he endured dozens of heavy strikes. His back burned and his entire body was numb with pain. He couldn’t bear it, but he had to bear it. Today, if the punishment didn’t satisfy Wang LingJiao, the matter at hand would never end!
Wang LingJiao watched with a smile on her face. After Madam Yu had finished, she retracted Zidian at once. Kneeling on the ground, Wei WuXian’s body swung forward, as though he was about to collapse. Jiang Cheng wanted to help him, but Madam Yu ordered, “Stand back. Don’t help him!”
Jiang Cheng was held firmly back by JinZhu and YinZhu. Wei WuXian had managed for a while before falling to the ground, motionless.
Wang LingJiao was surprised, “It’s over?”
Madam Yu snorted, “What did you think?”
Wang LingJiao, “That was it?”
Madam Yu raised her brows, “What do you mean, ‘that was it’? Which level of spiritual weaponry do you think Zidian is at? Having had the beating, he won’t heal even after next month. It’d be enough for him to savor!”
Wang LingJiao, “But there’d come a time when he is healed, wouldn’t there?”
Jiang Cheng raged, “What else do you want?!”
Wang LingJiao complained, “Madam Yu, since it’s a punishment, you must make him remember it for the rest of his life, regret it for the rest of his life, dare not to make the same mistake again. If all that he got was a few whips, he’d be jumping around again after a while of rest. Then what sort of punishment would that be? Boys his age are the easiest to forget pain after the wounds have healed. There’d be no use at all.”
Madam Yu, “What do you think, then? Chop off both of his legs so that he can’t jump around again?”
Wang LingJiao, “Young Master Wen is kind. He wouldn’t do something as cruel as chop off both of his legs. If only his right hand is chopped off, then he wouldn’t ever care about this again.”
This woman was doing nothing more than flaunting her connections. With the support of Wen Chao, she wanted revenge for the strike that Wei WuXian had given her in the cave at Dusk-Creek Mountain!
Madam Yu glanced at Wei WuXian through the corner of her eye, “Cut off his right hand?”
Wang LingJiao, “That’s right.”
Yu ZiYuan stood up. Circling Wei WuXian, she began to walk, as though she was considering such an idea. Wei WuXian was in so much pain that he couldn’t even raise his head. Jiang Cheng fought out of the arms of JinZhu and YinZhu. He crashed to his knees, hovering over Wei WuXian, “Mom, Mom, please don’t… The things aren’t how how she said it to be at all…”
Wang LingJiao raised her voice, “Young Master Jiang, are you saying that I’m fabricking?”
On the ground, Wei WuXian couldn’t even flip himself around, Fabricking? What’s fabricking? And he suddenly realized, It’s abricating! The woman used to be a maid of Wen Chao’s wife. She hasn’t been educated and doesn’t know many words, but she purposely wanted to pretend like she has a vocabulary. She used an unfamiliar word, pretending that she knew it, and said the wrong thing!
The situation at hand was clearly more urgent than ever, but the more urgent the situation was, the more people were likely to have disordered heads, unable to focus on tasks at hand with too many erratic thoughts. Having thought of this, Wei WuXian found it worth a laugh.
Wang LingJiao didn’t know that she had made a fool of herself at all, “Madam Yu, think this through. The matter at hand, the Wen Sect will definitely get to the bottom of it. With his hand chopped off for me to bring back, it’d be good enough an explanation, and the YunmengJiang Sect would be fine. Or else, the next time when Young Master Wen asks, things wouldn’t be so simple anymore!”
A cold light flashed through Madam Yu’s eyes. Her voice was eerie, “JinZhu, YinZhu, quick, go close the doors. Don’t let the others see the blood.”
As long as they were Madam Yu’s orders, JinZhu and YinZhu followed all of them. Both kneeled on the ground, answering, “Yes!” They shut the doors to the main hall tight.
As Wei WuXian heard the sound of the doors closing, the light on the ground disappeared as well. Wei WuXian felt fear arise, Don’t tell me that she really is gonna chop off one my my hands?
Jiang Cheng was scared to death. He hugged his mother’s leg, “Mom? Mom! What are you doing? Please don’t cut off his hand!”
After the fear had passed, Wei WuXian clenched his teeth, his heart set, … Let it be, then! If it’s in exchange for the peace of the sect… a hand is just a hand. Fuck, if worst comes to worst I’ll just practice the left-handed sword from now on!!!
Wang LingJiao clapped her hands together, “Madam Yu, I knew that you must be the most obedient subordinate of the QishanWen Sect! Somebody, hold this brat down!”
Madam Yu, “There is no need.”
JinZhu and YinZhu walked over. Wang LingJiao, “Oh, so you’re having your maids hold him down? That’d work too.”
Jiang Cheng, “Mom! Mom listen to me! I beg you! Don’t cut off his hand! If Father knew…”
It was all fine until he had mentioned Jiang FengMian. The second he mentioned him, Madam Yu’s expression changed at once, shouting, “Don’t talk to me about your father! What could happen if he knows? Could he kill me?!”
Wang LingJiao beamed, “Madam Yu, I just admire you so much! It looks like that from now on, in the supervision office, we’ll get along well as well!”
Madam Yu pulled back her leg and her violet dress hem, which Jiang Cheng had been clutching. She turned around, brows raised, “Supervision office?”
Wang LingJiao smiled, “That’s right, supervision office. This is the second matter that I came to the YunmengJiang Sect for. The new supervision orders that came from our QishanWen Sect, calling for supervision offices to be built at every city. From now on, I declare that Lotus Pier is the supervision office of the Wen Sect at Yunmeng.”
So that was why she kept on going about Lotus Pier, as though treating it as her own residence. So she really did already take Lotus Pier as her office at Yunmeng!
Jiang Cheng’s eyes were red, “What supervision office?! This is my sect!!!”
Wang LingJiao scrunched her brows, “Madam Yu, you must discipline your son properly. Since hundreds of years ago, all of the sects have been under the Wen Sect. In front of the Wen Sect’s envoy, how could he say things like your sect and my sect? I had originally been hesitating. Lotus Pier is so old and it had brought out quite a few dissidents, so could it really take on the heavy responsibility of being a supervision office? But seeing how obediently you followed my orders and how your personality suits my taste, I’ve still decided to give this great honor to…”
Before she could finish, Madam Yu gave her an echoing slap.
The slap was shocking both in sound and in force. Wang LingJiao was slapped with such force that she spun around a few times before finally falling to the ground. Blood gushing out of her nose, she widened her eyes.
The few of the Wen Sect’s disciples within the main hall were alarmed at once. All of them unsheathed their swords. With a wave of Madam Yu’s hand, a brilliant ring of purple light shot out of Zidian. A large portion of the disciples collapsed immediately.
With all her elegance, Madam Yu walked toward Wang LingJiao and looked down on her. Suddenly, she bent down and grabbed Wang LingJiao’s hair. Pulling her up, she gave her another slap of wrath, “How dare you?!”
She had been enduring this for too long. Right now, her face was twisted as she advanced toward Wang LingJiao. Face swollen, Wang LingJiao began to scream. Without holding back at all, Madam Yu gave her another slap, cutting off her ear-piercing scream. She shouted, “You look at its owner before you hit a dog! You barged into my sect, and you want to punish my person in front of my face? What a thing you are, how dare you be so undisciplined?!”
As she finished, she threw Wang LingJiao’s head to the side. Like she considered it dirty, she took out her handkerchief and wiped at her hands. JinZhu and YinZhu stood behind her, faces bearing the same smile of disdain as she bore. Wang LingJiao covered her face with shaking hands, cheeks stained with tears, “How… How dare you do something like this… Neither the QishanWen Sect nor the YingchuanWang Sect will let you go!”
Madam Yu tossed her handkerchief on the ground before kicking her over, cursing, “Shut up! Such a scum of a maid—my MeishanYu Sect has roamed the cultivation world for hundreds of years, and I’ve never heard of some YingchuanWang Sect! Of which gutter did this menial sect crawl out?! Is it full of things like you? You mentioned the superior and the inferior before me? Then let me teach you what superiority and inferiority means! I am the superior, you are the inferior!”
On the side, Jiang Cheng was already in the middle of helping Wei WuXian up. Watching the scene unfold, both of them were shocked speechless.