Chapter 58 – Poisons—Part Three
Translated by K of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Madam Yu looked behind her. JinZhu and YinZhu understood. Both unsheathed a long sword and circled the hall. With fast, merciless moves, they had killed all of the Wen Sect’s disciples within seconds. Wang LingJiao saw that it’d soon be her turn. She threatened with the last of her strength, “You… You think that you can silence me? You think Young Master Wen doesn’t know that I’m here today? You think that he’ll let you go, after he knows about this?!”
YinZhu sneered, “You sound as if he has let us go already.”
Wang LingJiao, “I’m close to Young Master Wen, I’m the closest one! If you dare do anything to me, he’ll…”
Madam Yu gave her another slap. She mocked, “He’ll do what? Cut our hands or our legs off? Or burn down our residence? Or lead thousands of people to raze Lotus Pier to the ground? Build a supervision office?”
JinZhu approached, sword in hand. Wang LingJiao’s eyes were filled with fear. Kicking her legs, she shrunk back as she shrieked, “Somebody! Help! Wen ZhuLiu! Help me!”
Madam Yu’s expression hardened. With one foot on Wang LingJiao’s wrist, she unsheathed her sword. Just as the blade was about to fall, it suddenly bounced away.
Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng turned to look. The doors to the hall had already been blown apart, and a man of a tall physique barged inside. He wore black clothes and had on him a grave expression. It was Wen Chao’s personal guard, a cultivator of very high level, Wen ZhuLiu.
Her sword having fallen, Madam Yu held Zidian across her cheek, “Core-Melting Hand?”
Wen ZhuLiu’s voice was cold, “Violet Spider?”
One of Wang LingJiao’s hands was still under her foot. She felt so much pain that her features looked twisted, tears smeared all over, “Wen ZhuLiu! Wen ZhuLiu! Help me, help me now!”
Madam Yu snorted, “Wen ZhuLiu? Core-Melting Hand, isn’t your original name Zhao ZhuLiu? Your surname clearly wasn’t Wen, but you wanted to change your surname no matter what. Everyone’s rushing like ducklings. Is the surname of those Wen-dogs really that precious? Turning back on your ancestors—how laughable!”
Wen ZhuLiu remained unswayed, seemingly indifferent, “Each serves their own master.”
The two of them had just exchanged a few words, yet Wang LingJiao began to scream again, unable to bear it, “Wen ZhuLiu! Don’t you see what I look like?! Why are you chit-chatting instead of killing her right now?! Is this how Young Master Wen told you to protect me?! Watch out or else I’ll denounce you!”
Madam Yu ground her foot into her arm. Wang LingJiao broke into a wail. Wen ZhuLiu, on the other hand, knit his brows. He was protecting Wen Chao under Wen RuoHan’s orders. He’d never liked Wen Chao’s character to begin with. Yet, there were no worst circumstances, but only worse circumstances. Wen Chao ordered him to come protect Wang LingJiao. The woman was not only shallow and conceited but also cruel at heart, gaining much dislike from him. However, no matter how much he didn’t like her, he couldn’t go against Wen RuoHan and Wen Chao’s orders and kill her. The good thing was that Wang LingJiao loathed him as well. She ordered that he could only follow from a distance, prohibited from appearing in her sight unless she told him to, so that she wouldn’t be as annoyed. Yet, in such a situation, the woman was on the verge of losing her life. If he did nothing, Wen Chao would definitely fly into a rage and refuse to let him go. And if he refused to let him go, then Wen RuoHan wouldn’t leave the matter at that either.
Wen ZhuLiu, “Excuse me.”
Zidian flew out. Madam Yu shouted, “How pretentious!”
Wen ZhuLiu’s large hand waved. He grabbed Zidian without any concern!
When Zidian was in its whip form, it was covered in the flow of spiritual energy. The energy’s power could be either strong or weak, fatal or insignificant, dependant on the control of its master. Madam Yu had been holding an intent of killing since long ago, not only wanting to destroy all of the Wen-dogs but also in caution of Wen ZhuLiu. Thus, the energy flow was at more than maximum power when Wen ZhuLiu grabbed it without any difficulty!
Within the years of it being in use, Zidian had never met such an opponent. After it had been grabbed, Madam Yu paused for the slightest moment. Wang LingJiao used the chance to scramble out. She took out a cylinder of fire-light from her lapels and shook it a few times. A light shot out of the cylinder. Along with a sharp whistle, it rushed out of the wooden window and exploded in the sky outside. Then, she fumbled out a second one, a third one. Hair tangled, she mumbled, “Come… Come… Come here… Everyone, come here!”
Through the pain, Wei WuXian pushed Jiang Cheng, “Stop her from sending any more signals!”
Jiang Cheng let go of Wei WuXian and lunged in the direction of Wang LingJiao. Yet, at the same time, Wen ZhuLiu was closing in on Madam Yu. He looked as if he was about to knock her down. Jiang Cheng hurried, “Mom!”
He immediately gave up on Wang LingJiao and threw himself over. Wen ZhuLiu didn’t even turn his head as he struck, “Not even close!”
Jiang Cheng’s shoulder suffered the attack. Blood immediately burst from his mouth. Wang LingJiao had already let out all of the signal fire-lights. Sharp whistles and bright sparks filled the entire grey-blue sky.
Seeing that Jing Cheng was injured, Madam Yu roared. The light over Zidian grew in intensity, becoming almost white in color!
Wen ZhuLiu was blasted into the wall by Zidian’s sudden eruption. JinZhu and YinZhu pulled out two long, sizzling whips from their waists as well, and began to fight Wen ZhuLiu. The two maids had been close to Madam Yu ever since she was young. All of them were taught by the same person. Their combined attacks were by no means to be reckoned with. With the opportunity, Jiang Cheng and Wei WuXian, both still unable to move, were picked up by Madam Yu with each hand as she rushed out of the hall. Many disciples still surrounded the training field. Madam Yu commanded, “Get dressed and armed, now!”
With the two in her hands, she rushed onto the pier. The pier of Lotus Pier always had a few small boats docked in it, to be used by the Jiang Sect’s disciples for roaming within the water. Madam Yu tossed them onto the boat. She jumped into it herself as well. Holding Jiang Cheng’s hand, she helped him regain himself. Jiang Cheng had only coughed up a mouthful of blood. His injuries weren’t too severe. He asked, “Mom, what do we do?”
Madam Yu, “What do you mean what do we do?! Can’t you see yet? They came here prepared. Today’s fight couldn’t have been avoided. Soon afterwards there’ll be herds of those Wen-dogs arriving. Leave first!”
Wei WuXian, “Then what about Shijie? Shijie went to Meishan the day before yesterday. If she comes back…”
Madam Yu glowered, “Shut your mouth! It’s all because of you little…!”
Wei WuXian could only stay quiet. Madam Yu took off the Zidian ring that she wore on her right hand and put it onto Jiang Cheng’s right index finger. Jiang Cheng was shocked, “… Mom, why are you giving me Zidian?”
Madam Yu, “I’ve given it to you, so it’ll be yours from now on! Zidian has already recognized you as its master.”
Jiang Cheng was confused, “Mom, won’t you be leaving with us?”
Madam Yu stared at his face. Suddenly, she embraced him and kissed his hair a few times. With him in her arms, she murmured, “Good boy.”
She hugged him so tight that it seemed as if she wanted turn Jiang Cheng into a baby and stuff him back into her stomach, so that nobody could hurt him, nobody could tear them apart. Jiang Cheng had never been hugged by his mother like this, much less kissed. His head was buried in her chest but his eyes were wide open, not knowing what to do.
One hand holding him, Madam Yu grabbed Wei WuXian’s lapels with her other hand as though to strangle him to death. She spoke through clenched teeth, “… You damn little brat! I hate you! I hate you more than anything else! Look at what our sect has gone through for your sake!”
Wei WuXian’s chest heaved up and down. He said nothing. This time, it wasn’t that he held back his words or that he had unspoken comments, but that he really couldn’t say anything.
Jiang Cheng hurried to ask, “Mom, won’t you be leaving with us???”
Madam Yu let go at once. She pushed him onto Wei WuXian.
She leaped onto the dock. The boat rocked side to side amid the water of the river. Jiang Cheng finally understood. JinZhu, YinZhu, all of the disciples, and all of the treasure that YunmengJiang Sect had passed down from one generation to the next were still inside Lotus Pier, unable to be evacuated within a short period of time. After this, a grim battle would have to happen. As the mistress, Madam Yu couldn’t flee, yet she worried about her child. Perhaps selfish, she could only let these two escape first.
Knowing that there’d be immense danger after they parted, Jiang Cheng was more than scared. He stood up and tried to leave the boat as well, but currents suddenly shot out of Zidian. A rope of lighting tied the two tightly to the boat. They couldn’t move at all. Jiang Cheng shouted, “Mom, what are you doing?!”
Madam Yu, “Don’t make such a fuss. It’ll loosen up when you’re somewhere safe. If anyone attacks you on the journey, it’ll protect you as well. Don’t come back. Go to Meishan straight away and find your sister!”
After she finished, she turned to Wei WuXian and pointed at him, “Wei Ying! Listen to me! Protect Jiang Cheng, protect him even if you die, do you understand?!”
Wei WuXian, “Madam Yu!”
Madam Yu raged, “Did you hear me?! Don’t talk nonsense to me, I’m only asking you—did you hear me?!”
Wei WuXian couldn’t struggle out of Zidian. He could only nod his head. Jiang Cheng shouted, “Mom, Father isn’t back yet. If anything happens can’t we manage through it together first?!”
Hearing him mention Jiang FengMian, for a split second, Madam Yu’s eyes seemed to turn red.
Immediately, she cursed with a loud voice, “So what if he’s not coming back? Can’t I do anything without him?!”
After this, she cut off the rope that leashed the boat with her sword and kicked the side of the boat hard. The water was fast and the wind was heavy. Along with the kick, the boat drifted yards away at once. With a few spins, it sailed quickly yet steadily toward the center of the river. Jiang Cheng wailed, “Mom!”
He shouted for dozens of times. However, Madam Yu and Lotus Pier were farther and farther, smaller and smaller. After the boat was far into the distance, sword in hand, Madam Yu went back within the gates of Lotus Pier with a flash of her purple robes.
The two struggled as hard as they could. Zidian had almost sunk into their flesh, yet it still remained.
A mad roar rang from Jiang Cheng’s throat as he continued to struggle, “Why won’t it break?! Why won’t it break?! Break! Break!”
Wei WuXian had just been whipped over ten times by Zidian. His body was still hurting. He knew that they wouldn’t be able to struggle out of this and that all of their effort would go to waste. Remembering that Jiang Cheng was still injured, he spoke through the pain, “Jiang Cheng, calm down first. Facing the Core-Melting Hand, it’s not for sure that she’d lose. Back then, didn’t she hold Wen ZhuLiu back?”
Jiang Cheng roared, “How do you want me to calm down?! How could I calm down?! Even if Wen ZhuLiu is killed, that despicable woman has already sent out the signals. What if the Wen-dogs saw them and are leading people to lay siege on our sect?!”
Wei WuXian knew as well that there was no way for them to calm down. But, between the two, one of them had to have a clear head. Just as he was about to continue, his eyes suddenly lit up. He shouted, “Uncle Jiang! It’s Uncle Jiang coming back!”
As he had said, a larger boat sailed toward them over the river.
Jiang FengMian was standing at the head of the boat. Around a dozen disciples was also standing on the boat. He was staring in the direction of Lotus Pier, robes flapping in the wind. Jiang Cheng shouted, “Father! Father!”
Jiang FengMian saw them as well. He looked somewhat surprised. One of the disciples rowed the oar, and the boat approached. Jiang FengMian still didn’t know what had happened as he mused, “A-Cheng? A-Ying? What happened to you two?”
The boys at Lotus Pier often played strange games. Even lying in the water with faces covered in blood pretending to be floating corpses wasn’t out of the norm. Thus, Jiang FengMian couldn’t immediately decide if they were playing some new game or not. He didn’t pick up on the severity of the circumstances. Jiang Cheng, however, was so happy that he almost cried. He hurried to explain, “Father, Father let us go!”
Jiang FengMian, “This is your mom’s Zidian. Zidian knows its masters. I don’t think it’d let me…”
As he spoke, he touched Zidian with his hand. However, just as he came into contact with it, Zidian retracted obediently. It immediately turned into a ring and wrapped itself around one of his fingers.
Jiang FengMian froze at once.
Zidian was Yu ZiYuan’s best weapon. Yu ZiYuan’s intention was its most important command. Zidian could recognize multiple masters, but there was an order. Madam Yu was undoubtedly the primary master of Zidian. Her command was to tie Jiang Cheng up until he was safe, which was why even though Jiang Cheng was also its master, he couldn’t struggle out of its constraint.
Nobody knew when, but Jiang FengMian had been recognized as the secondary master of Zidian. In front of him, Zidian determined them to be safe, and thus it loosened.
But Madam Yu had never said that she let Zidian recognize Jiang FengMian as its master as well.
Jiang Cheng and Wei WuXian had finally broken apart. They collapsed to each side. Jiang FengMian asked, “What is going on? Why would you two be tied onto a boat by Zidian?”
As though he saw something that could save them, Jiang Cheng clutched him, “Today the Wen Sect’s people were at our sect. Mom had an argument with them and started fighting with the Core-Melting Hand! Mom might be at a disadvantage. Later, there might be even more enemies. Father, let’s go back and help her! Let’s go!”
Hearing this, all of the disciples looked shocked. Jiang FengMian asked, “The Core-Melting Hand?!”
Jiang Cheng, “Yes, Father! We…”
Before he could finish, a purple light flashed, and Jiang Cheng and Wei WuXian were tied up again. In the position that they had been, the two collapsed onto the smaller boat. Jiang Cheng’s face was blank, “… Father?!”
Jiang FengMian, “I’ll go back. You two leave. Don’t turn in any way. Don’t return to Lotus Pier. After you reach the shore, try to go to Meishan as soon as possible to find your sister and your grandmother.”
Wei WuXian, “Uncle Jiang!!!”
As the shock passed, Jiang Cheng kicked the side of the boat furiously. The boat kept on shaking. “Father let me go! Let me go!”
Jiang FengMian, “I will go back to find Third Lady.”
Jiang Cheng glowered at him, “We can go back and find her together, can’t we?!”
Jiang FengMian stared into his eyes. Suddenly, he reached out. Only after pausing in the air did he finally touch Jiang Cheng’s head, slowly, “A-Cheng, be well.”
Wei WuXian, “Uncle Jiang, if anything happens to you, he won’t be well.”
Jiang FengMian turned his eyes to him, “A-Ying, A-Cheng… you must look after him.”
He returned to the larger boat. The two boats brushed against each other before parting and drifting farther and farther away. Jiang Cheng shouted in despair, “Dad!!!”
The boat drifted down the current.
They didn’t know how long had passed before Zidian loosened. It became a silver ring around Jiang Cheng’s finger.
The two had been shouting for the whole ride. Their throats were already hoarse. After they had been unbound, they didn’t say anything and began to sail back. They didn’t have oars, so they paddled with their hands, against the flow of the river.
Madam Yu said that the lashes he had received wouldn’t heal in less than a month. However, right now, Wei WuXian felt that although where he had been whipped still burned and tingled, it didn’t affect his ability to move too much. With the determination of somebody on the verge of death, the two of them paddled as though their lives depended on it. Two hours later, using nothing but their hands, they finally returned to Lotus Pier.
It was already late into the night.
The gates of Lotus Pier were tightly shut. Outside, lights glowed brightly. Fragments of moonlight flowed along the crystalline water. Dozens of large lanterns in the shape of nine-petaled lotuses floated by the dock in silence.
Everything was the same as before. Yet, it was because of how everything was the same as before that it tormented the heart.
The two stopped when they arrived at the middle of the lake. Poised in the water, they felt their hearts thump loudly. Neither dared approach the dock and rush upshore to see what exactly was going on inside.
Tears swirled within Jiang Cheng’s eyes. Both his arms and his legs were shivering. A while later, Wei WuXian spoke, “… Let’s not enter from the gates right now.”
Jiang Cheng somehow managed to nod. Without making a noise, the two paddled the boat onto the other side of the lake. An old willow tree grew there. Its roots were buried inside the dirt of the shore, but its broad trunk grew sideways along the surface of the lake. Its branches dipped into the water. In the past, the boys of Lotus Pier often walked down the trunk of the willow tree all the way until its tip to sit there and fish.
After the two docked the boat behind the boughs of the willow, they went ashore under the cover of the branches and the darkness of the sky. Wei WuXian had always been used to flipping over walls. He tugged at Jiang Cheng and whispered, “This way.”
Jiang Cheng was both shocked and scared. He had almost no sense of direction as he walked against the wall behind Wei WuXian. After they had moved for a while, hiding themselves, they stealthily climbed up one of the walls. A row of beast heads lined the top of the wall, making it rather easy to peek inside. Back then, it was always the people outside who peeked at them. Now, they were the ones peeking inside.
Wei WuXian raised his head and looked within. His heart sank at once.
On the training field of Lotus Pier, rows and rows of people were standing.
All of them wore robes of the blazing sun. The flame patterns on their collars, lapels, and sleeves were in such a crimson shade that it hurt the eye more than blood did.
Aside from those who stood, there were also those who lay. All of the people collapsed on the ground had been moved to the northwest corner of the field, piled together without any order. One person stood with their back to the two of them. Head lowered, he seemed to be examining the people of the Jiang Sect. They didn’t know whether they were alive or dead.
With much fervor, Jiang Cheng was still searching with his eyes for the figures of Yu ZiYuan and Jiang FengMian. Wei WuXian, however, felt his eyes tear up at once.
Among the people, he saw many familiar silhouettes.
His throat was both dry and in pain. His temples felt as if they had been stricken by iron hammers, while his entire body was cold. He didn’t dare think about Jiang FengMian and Yu ZiYuan any longer. Just as he was about to take a closer look at whether or not the thin boy lying on top was his youngest shidi or not, the person standing at the northwestern corner with his back to them seemed to have picked up on something and turned around.
Wei WuXian immediately lowered his head along with Jiang Cheng’s.
Although he ducked in time, he still saw what the person looked like.
It was a boy about the same age as them. He had a slender physique and delicate features, though his pale complexion contrasted against his deep-black eyes. Although he was wearing the sun-and-flames robes, he didn’t have that imposing of a demeanor. He seemed a bit too gentle. Looking at in which rank his sun patterns placed him, he was probably a young master of the Wen Sect.