Chapter 59 Poisons—Part Four
Translated by K of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Wei WuXian felt his heart skip a beat, Did he see us? Do we run right now? Or did he not see us?
Suddenly, a thin crying voice came from over the wall. Among the sound of footsteps, a man spoke in a gentle voice, “Don’t cry. Your face is all smeared.”
This voice was familiar to both Jiang Cheng and Wei WuXian—it was Wen Chao!
Soon after, Wang LingJiao sniffed, “Is it that you won’t like me anymore if my face is all smeared?”
Wen Chao, “How could that be? No matter what JiaoJiao looks like, I will like her.”
Wang LingJiao spoke emotionally, “I’m really so, so scared… Today I really… I was so close to really believing that I’d be killed by that bitch and won’t ever get to see you again… Young Master Wen… I…”
Wen Chao seemed to have embraced her, comforting, “Stop talking, JiaoJiao. It’s alright now. What a good thing that Wen ZhuLiu protected you.”
Wang LingJiao complained, “You’re still mentioning him?! Wen ZhuLiu, I hate him. If it weren’t for him arriving so late today, I wouldn’t have suffered so much at all. Even now my face still hurts so, so much…”
She clearly was the one who had ordered Wen ZhuLiu not to flash before her sight and caused herself to get beaten up. Now, though, she was turning the matter upside down again. Wen Chao loved listening to her complain in such a pitiful way, “It won’t hurt. Here, let me touch it… You don’t like how slow he was, but you mustn’t challenge his limit. His level of cultivation is really high. My father has said many times that he’s a rare talent. I’m still hoping that I can use him for another few years.”
Wang LingJiao wasn’t convinced, “So what… So what if he’s a talent? There are so many renowned cultivators, so many talents under Sect Leader Wen, at least thousands. What could happen if he’s gone?”
He was hinting at Wen Chao to punish Wen ZhuLiu for her to feel better. Wen Chao chuckled. Despite how much he cherished Wang LingJiao, it wasn’t to the point that he’d punish his personal guard for the sake of a woman. After all, Wen ZhuLiu had stopped many attempts at assassination for him. He didn’t speak too much either. With such tight lips, he definitely wouldn’t betray his father, which meant that he definitely wouldn’t betray him. A strong yet loyal guard like this was truly rare.
Seeing that he didn’t seem too concerned, Wang LingJiao added, “Look at him. He’s clearly only a mere subordinate under your command, yet he’s so arrogant. Back then, I wanted to slap that Yu bitch on the face, and he didn’t even let me. She’s dead already—it’s only a corpse! He’s looking down on me, so it means that he’s also looking down on you, doesn’t it?”
Jiang Cheng couldn’t properly cling on to the wall, and so he slid down. Wei WuXian quickly grabbed the back of his lapels.
Both of them had tear-filled eyes. The tears rolled down along their cheeks, splashing onto the back of their hands and eventually the ground.
Wei WuXian remembered that this morning, when Jiang FengMian left, he had an argument with Madam Yu. The last words that passed between them weren’t anything nice or gentle. He wondered if they could look at each other one last time, if Jiang FengMian had the chance to tell Madam Yu one more sentence.
Wen Chao didn’t care for the matter, “That’s just how his personality is, quite odd. It was something along the lines of ‘death over humiliation’. He was the one who killed her, so what was the point of talking about such things?”
Wang LingJiao agreed, “That’s right. What hypocrisy!”
Wen Chao loved to hear her agree with him. He laughed. Wang LingJiao gloated, “That bitch Yu, she had it coming. Back then, she forced the man to marry her with the power of her sect. And in the end? What’s the use of their marriage? He still doesn’t like her. She’d been an abandoned wife for over ten years with everyone laughing at her behind her back. Even then she didn’t know to restrain herself and kept on being so arrogant. How it turned out in the end was karma indeed.”
Wen Chao, “Really? Her looks aren’t too bad. Why didn’t Jiang FengMian like her?”
In his knowledge, as long as a woman looked fair, there wasn’t any reason for a man not to like her. Those who should be cast aside were either women who looked average or women who didn’t let him sleep with. Wang LingJiao answered, “It’s really quite obvious if you think about it. Bitchy Yu is so aggressive. She’s clearly a woman yet she brandishes her whip and slaps others all the time. She has no manners at all. Jiang FengMian has been burdened so much even after he married her. He’s the most unlucky man ever.”
Wen Chao, “That’s right! Women, they should all be like my JiaoJiao, obedient and gentle, caring for nobody but me.”
Wang LingJiao giggled. Hearing such unbearably vulgar words, Wei WuXian felt both desolate and enraged, his entire body shivering. He feared that Jiang Cheng would burst out, but perhaps due to the extreme grief, he was so motionless that he seemed to have passed out. Wang LingJiao spoke quietly, “Of course I care for nobody but you… Who else could I care for?”
Suddenly, another voice barged in, “Young Master Wen! All of the houses have been searched already. Over two thousand four hundred treasures have been counted. They’re being categorized at the moment.”
Those belonged to Lotus Pier, those belonged to the Jiang Sect!
Wen Chao laughed, “Well done, well done! At such a time, we should have a grand celebration. Tonight, why don’t we set up a banquet here? Make the best use of everything!”
Wang LingJiao spoke in a tender voice, “Young Master Wen, congratulations for moving into Lotus Pier.”
Wen Chao, “What Lotus Pier? Change the name. Bring down any door carved with the nine-petaled lotus crest and replace them with those with the QishanWen Sect’s sun crest! JiaoJiao, come dance for me your best song!”
Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng couldn’t listen to this any longer. They flipped back down the wall. Stumbling, they staggered out of Lotus Pier. Even after they had run for a long while, the laughter of the crowd at the training field still couldn’t be wiped away. The coquettish voice of a woman sang happily above Lotus Pier. Like a blade doused in poison, it cut into their ears and their hearts again and again and again.
They had been running for over a mile before Jiang Cheng abruptly stopped.
Wei WuXian stopped as well. As Jiang Cheng turned around, Wei WuXian grabbed him, “Jiang Cheng, what are you doing?! Don’t go back there!”
Jiang Cheng shook his hand away, “Don’t go back there?! Are you serious? You’re telling me not to go back there? My parents’ bodies are still in Lotus Pier—could I leave just like this? Where could I go if I don’t go back?!”
Wei WuXian’s grip tightened, “What could you do if you go back now? They’ve killed even Uncle Jiang and Madam Yu. All that’s waiting for you is death!”
Jiang Cheng shouted, “Death it is, then! If you’re scared of death then get lost—don’t block my path!”
Wei WuXian lunged for him, “Revenge is never too late. We must bring back the bodies but not now!”
Jiang Cheng dodged to the side before attacking, “When does not now mean? I’ve had enough of you—get lost right now!”
Wei WuXian shouted, “Uncle Jiang and Madam Yu said for me to look after you, for you to be well!”
“Shut up!” Jiang Cheng shoved him hard, roaring, “Why?!”
Wei WuXian was pushed into the bushes. Jiang Cheng threw himself over. He grabbed Wei WuXian’s collar and shook, “Why?! Why?! Just why?! Are you happy?! Are you satisfied?!”
He clenched Wei WuXian’s neck, eyes bloodshot, “Why did you save Lan WangJi?!”
Under the grief and the fury, Jiang Cheng had lost his mind. He couldn’t control the strength that he used at all. Wei WuXian pulled at his wrist, “Jiang Cheng…”
Holding him on the ground, Jiang Cheng continued to roar, “Why did you save Lan WangJi?! Why did you have to speak up?! How many times have I told you not to stir up trouble! Not to strike! Do you really want to play the hero so much?! Have you seen what happened when you played the hero?! Huh?! Are you happy now?!
“Lan WangJi and Jin ZiXuan and those people can just die! Just let them die! What’s their deaths got to do with us?! To do with our sect?! Why did this have to happen?! Why?!
“Go die, go die, go die! Everyone!!!”
Wei WuXian’s face had turned red. He shouted, “Jiang Cheng!!!”
The hand around his neck suddenly loosened.
Jiang Cheng glowered at him. Tears rolled down his cheeks. The depths of his throat let out a cry of dying man, a painful sob.
He spoke through tears, “… I want my parents, my parents…”
He was asking Wei WuXian for his father and his mother. Yet, no matter whom he asked, he wouldn’t be able to have them back again.
Wei WuXian was crying as well. The two of them sat collapsed amid the bushes of grass, watching each other bawl.
In his heart, Jiang Cheng knew clearly that back in the cave of the Xuanwu of Slaughter at Dusk-Creek Mountain, even if Wei WuXian hadn’t saved Lan WangJi, the Wen Sect would have found some reason to come over sooner or later. But he had always felt that, if the whole thing with Wei WuXian didn’t happen, maybe it wouldn’t have been so soon, maybe there would’ve been some way to turn things around.
It was this torturing thought that filled his heart with hatred and wrath. Unable to be let out, they cut up his innards.
When the day began to light up, Jiang Cheng had almost numbed.
Throughout the night, he had somehow managed to sleep a couple of times. The first reason was that, having been too tired from crying himself weak, he couldn’t help from passing out. The second reason was that he still had the hope that this might be a nightmare. He couldn’t wait to wake up after some rest and open his eyes to find himself lying inside of his room back in Lotus Pier. His father would be wiping his sword in the main hall. His mother would be angry again and complaining, scolding Wei WuXian who winked in a funny way. His sister would be in the kitchen, thinking as hard as she could about what to make today. His shidi would be refusing to do their morning lessons properly and jumping around.
Not to wake up in a bush of weeds with his head almost bursting apart, having been through an entire night of cold wind, and discovering that he was still curled up behind a barren little hill.
The first to move was Wei WuXian.
Hands on his legs, he managed to bring himself up. He spoke with a hoarse voice, “Let’s go.”
Jiang Cheng didn’t move at all. Wei WuXian pulled at him and repeated, “Let’s go.”
Jiang Cheng, “… Go where?”
His throat was dry as well. Wei WuXian replied, “To the MeishanYu Sect. To find shijie.”
Jiang Cheng waved his outstretched hand away. A few moments later, he finally sat up on his own and slowly got up.
The two set off in the direction of Meishan. They went by foot.
Along the way, both of them summoned whatever energy they had left. Their footsteps were heavy, as though they carried with them thousands of pounds.
Jiang Cheng’s head had always been lowered. Hugging his right hand, he pressed Zidian onto his chest where his heart was, feeling over and over again the only remnant of his family that was left. He’d also often looked back toward where Lotus Pier was, staring at what used to be his home and had now become a den of demons. Again and again, it was as though he’d never get enough of it, as though he’d never lose that last spark of hope. However, the tears within his eyes could never be contained either.
They had fled on a hurry, without taking with them any food. From the day before to today, they had spent quite a lot of strength as well. After they had walked for half a day, both of them began to feel dizzy. They left the desolated fields into a small city. Wei WuXian looked at Jiang Cheng. Seeing how tired, unwilling to move that he looked, he spoke, “You can sit. I’ll go find something to eat.”
Jiang Cheng neither answered him nor nodded. Along the way here, he had only said a few words to Wei WuXian.
Wei WuXian told him multiple times not to move before finally walking away. He had often tucked spare money into corners of his clothes, and now it became of use—at least he had money to buy things. Walking around, he bought a bunch of food, especially dried ones to eat on the way. In less than thirty minutes, he quickly returned to where they parted.
However, Jiang Cheng was gone.
Holding steamed buns, flatbreads, and fruits in his hands, Wei WuXian felt his heart skip a beat. He forced himself to calm down. Even after he searched through the neighboring streets, he still didn’t see Jiang Cheng. He finally began to panic. Grabbing a cobbler on the side, he asked, “Mister, there was a young master about the same age as me sitting here. Did you see where he went?”
The cobbler licked the thick end of a thread, “The one that was with you?”
Wei WuXian, “Yeah!”
The cobbler, “I was in the middle of doing something so I didn’t really see. But he kept on spacing out, staring at the people on the street. And then when I looked up at where he was again, he suddenly disappeared. Maybe he left.”
Wei WuXian murmured, “… He left… He left…”
He probably left for Lotus Pier to steal the bodies!
As though he had gone mad, Wei WuXian sprinted immediately toward the direction that they had come from.
He held in his hands the food that he had just bought, their weight slowing him down. A while later, he left them behind him. After he had run for some distance, however, he began to feel faint and weak, on top of how much he was panicking. As his legs gave out, he collapsed onto the ground.
As he collapsed, his face plummeted into the dirt. He could taste soil within his mouth.
An overwhelming mixture of hatred and helplessness rose from Wei WuXian’s chest. He slammed his fist hard onto the ground and shouted before he finally crawled up. He turned around and ran the other way. After he picked up one of the steamed buns that he had dropped, he wiped it on his clothes before he swallowed it in just a few bites. He chewed as if he was tearing flesh with his teeth. As he gulped, he felt it lump at his throat, creating a dull pain. He picked up a few more and stuffed them inside his lapel. Holding one in his hand, he ate as he ran, hoping that he’d stop Jiang Cheng midway.
However, even until he arrived at Lotus Pier, when the moon and the stars shone in the night sky, he still hadn’t caught sight of Jiang Cheng along his journey.
Wei WuXian stared at the brightly-lit Lotus Pier from afar. Hands on his knees, he panted unstoppably. The taste of blood climbed up his chest and his throat, the kind that occured after an extended period of running. Mouth full of the rusty taste, he felt his sight flash black.
He thought to himself, Why hadn’t I caught up to Jiang Cheng? Even after I ate food this was the fastest I could run. He was more tired than me and he’s going through something worse. How could he have run faster than me? Did he really come back to Lotus Pier? But if he didn’t come back here, where would he go? Go to Meishan alone without me?
After a while of rest, he still decided to go to Lotus Pier to confirm first. Walking along the series of walls, a voice sounded within Wei WuXian’s heart, praying with what was close to despair, This time, please don’t let there be anyone talking about Jiang Cheng’s corpse on the training field. Or else, or else I’ll…
Or else what could he do?
He could do nothing. He was powerless. Lotus Pier had been destroyed, both Jiang FengMian and Madam Yu were gone, and Jiang Cheng had disappeared as well. He was the only one left, alone, with not even a sword in his hands. He didn’t know anything, he couldn’t do anything!
For the first time, he discovered how little his power was. In front of something as large as the QishanWen Sect, it was the same as a mantis trying to stop a chariot.
Wei WuXian’s eyes felt so warm that he was about to tear up again. He turned around the corner when, suddenly, a shadow dressed in the sun-and-flame robes walked toward him.
With the speed of lighting, Wei WuXian had held the person down.
His left hand locked both of the person’s hands while his right closed around their neck. Lowering his voice, he threatened with the most ruthless tone that he could conjure, “Don’t make any noise! Or else I can break your neck at once!”
Held down firmly by him, the person hurried, “Y-Young Master Wei, it’s m-me!”
It was the voice of a boy. Hearing this, Wei WuXian’s first reaction was, Maybe it’s one of the people I know, wearing the Wen Sect’s robes to spy amongst them?
But the voice was completely unfamiliar. He rejected the thought at once and his grip tightened, “Don’t play any tricks!”
The boy, “I… I don’t play any tricks. Young Master Wei, y-you can look at my face.”
Wei WuXian, Look at his face? Maybe he’s hidden something inside his mouth and he’s prepared to spit it out?
Keeping his guard up, he turned the person’s face around. The boy’s features were delicate. A youthful handsomeness surrounded him. This was the young master of the QishanWen Sect whom they had seen when peeking yesterday.
Wei WuXian was indifferent, I don’t know him.
He turned the boy’s face back around and continued to hold his neck, ordering in a low voice, “Who are you?!”
The boy seemed a bit disappointed, “I… I’m Wen Ning.”
Wei WuXian frowned, “Who is Wen Ning?”
In silence, though, he thought, Who cares who he is? No matter what, he’s someone with a rank. With him in my hands, maybe I could do an exchange!
Wen Ning spoke slowly, “I… A few years ago, during the Discussion Conference at Qishan, I… I… was shooting arrows…”
Hearing how slow he was, impatience rushed up Wei WuXian. He fumed, “You what?! Are you a stutterer?!”
Wen Ning was so scared that flinched within Wei WuXian’s grip, as if wanting to roll into a ball with his hands around his head. He whispered, “Yes… Yeah.”
Wei WuXian, “…”
Seeing how timid, pitiful, yet stammering he was, Wei WuXian seemed as though he had finally remembered something, The Discussion Conference at Qishan two years ago… The Discussion Conference… Shooting arrows… Ah, there really was someone like him!
Wei WuXian sounded him out, “You’re that… Wen… Wen something, the one who’s quite good at archery?”
Wen Ning nodded quickly, beaming, “T-that’s me! Yesterday… I saw you, Young Master Wei, along with Young Master Jiang, so I thought that you might be back again…”
Wei WuXian, “You saw me yesterday?”
Wen Ning, “I-I did.”
Wei WuXian, “You saw me but you didn’t tell anyone?”
Wen Ning, “I won’t! I won’t tell anyone!”
This was the rare sentence where he didn’t stammer. On top of that, his tone was so determined that it seemed like he was taking an oath. Wei WuXian was between shock and doubt. Wen Ning added, “Young Master Wei, you’re here to find Young Master Jiang, aren’t you?”
Wei WuXian, “Is Jiang Cheng inside?!”
Wen Ning answered obediently, “He is…”
Hearing this, Wei WuXian’s mind spun quickly, Since Jiang Cheng is inside, it seems I’ll have to go into Lotus Pier. How? Take Wen Ning hostage? That wouldn’t work. It’s likely that Wen Chao doesn’t like Wen Ning. What if it’s no use with him hostage?! And is he actually lying or not? Isn’t he someone from the Wen Sect? But yesterday he really did see us and didn’t tell on us. If I let him go, would he betray me as soon as he could? How could there be someone so nice amongst the Wen-dogs??? To ensure that I’m on the safe side, I could only…
Killing intent flashed before Wei WuXian.
He had never been someone with bloodlust. But after his sect had been destroyed, wrath and hatred had pooled within him in the past few days. The extremity of the situation didn’t allow him to take any kindness along with him. If his right hand clenched up, he could snap Wen Ning’s neck in half at once!
As he was thinking, Wen Ning spoke, “Young Master Wei, are you here to save Young Master Jiang?”
Wei WuXian’s fingers curled slightly. He spoke in a cold voice, “What do you think?”
For some reason, Wen Ning smiled nervously, “I knew it. I… I can help you get him out of there.”
For a split second, Wei WuXian thought that he had heard wrong. He was shocked, “… You? You’ll help me get him out?!”
Wen Ning, “Yeah. R-right now, I can take him out really quickly. Wen Chao and the others happened to have gone out!”
Wei WuXian clenched him tightly, “You really can?!”
Wen Ning, “I can! I-I’m also a clan disciple of the Wen Sect. There’s also a group of disciples who follow my orders.”
Wei WuXian’s voice was harsh, “Follow your orders? Follow your orders and kill people?”
Wen Ning hurried, “N-N-No! My disciples never kill people at random. The Jiang Sect’s people, I haven’t killed any either. I only hurried here after I heard that something happened to Lotus Pier. It’s true!”
Wei WuXian stared at him, Just what does he want? Is he lying? Is he being insincere? But this lie really is too ridiculous! Does he think that I’m an idiot?!
The scary thing was that a desperate ecstasy really did sprout from somewhere in the bottom of his heart.
He gave himself a harsh scolding in silence—he was stupid, useless, ridiculous, it was bizarre, unimaginable. Yet, he was alone, without a sword or any tools, and on the other side of the wall there were thousands of Wen Sect’s cultivators, perhaps Wen ZhuLie as well.
He wasn’t scared of death. He was only scared that after he died, he wouldn’t be able to save Jiang Cheng and betray the trust that Jiang FengMian and Madam Yu left him. In such circumstances, the only one he could place his hope on was a person of the Wen Sect whom he had met only three times in total!
Wei WuXian licked his chapped lips, speaking in a dry voice, “… Then… could you… could you help me… take the bodies of Sect Leader Jiang and Madam Yu…”
Without him noticing, he had begun to stammer as well. Before he finished, he remembered that he was still seizing Wen Ning in a threatening posture. He quickly let him go, but he still left himself a way out. If Wen Ning began to run or shout as soon as he let him go, he’d split open Wen Ning’s skull at once. However, Wen Ning only turned around, his voice serious, “I… I’ll try my best.”
Wei WuXian waited, a bit muddleheaded. He walked around at the same spot as he thought, What’s wrong with me? Am I crazy? Why would Wen Ning help me? Why would I trust him? What if he’s lying to me and Jiang Cheng isn’t inside at all? No, what a relief it’d be if Jiang Cheng isn’t inside!
Before half an hour had passed, with someone on his back, Wen Ning really did silently walk outside.
The person was covered in blood. His face was ashen and his eyes were shut, motionless on Wen Ning’s back. It was Jiang Cheng indeed.
Wei WuXian whispered, “Jiang Cheng?! Jiang Cheng?!”
He reached out. Jiang Cheng was still breathing. Wen Ning held out his hand toward Wei WuXian and put something in his palm, “Y-Young Master Jiang’s Zidian. I brought it.”
Wei WuXian didn’t know what else he could say. Remembering that the intent of killing Wen Ning had just crossed his mind, he spoke with hesitation, “… Thank you.”
Wen Ning, “You’re welcome… Mr. Jiang and Madam Jiang’s bodies, I’ve already told people to move them. I’ll pass them to you afterwards. T-This isn’t a good place to stay. First…”
Without needing him to say anything else, Wei WuXian took Jiang Cheng over, wanting to carry him on his own back. Yet, only one glance and he saw the bloody whip wound across Jiang Cheng’s chest.
Wei WuXian, “The discipline whip?!”
Wen Ning, “Mhm. Wen Chao, he got hold of the discipline whip of the Jiang Sect… There should be other injuries on Young Master Jiang as well.”
Wei WuXian only felt around for a couple of times. At least three of Jiang Cheng’s ribs were broken. He didn’t know how many injuries there were that he couldn’t see. Wen Ning continued, “After Wen Chao returns and discovers this, he’ll definitely start searching for you along the Yunmeng area… Young Master Wen, if you believe me, I can first take you to a safe place to hide.”
Right now, Jiang Cheng was heavily injured. He needed medicine and rest urgently, so they definitely couldn’t run around like they had done, not knowing when their next meal would be. The situation that they were in was almost impossibly hopeless. They couldn’t go anywhere. Aside from relying on Wen Ning for support, somehow, Wei WuXian couldn’t think of a single other solution!
The day before, he definitely wouldn’t have expected that he and Jiang Cheng would require the help of a Wen Sect’s disciple to escape, possibly even dying out of the unwillingness to surrender. As of the moment, however, Wei WuXian could only say, “Thanks!”
Wei Ning waved his hands, “There’s… There’s no need. Young Master Wei, walk this way. I-I have a ship…”
Carrying in Jiang Cheng, Wei WuXian found the ship that Wen Ning had hidden beforehand and placed Jiang Cheng within the cabin. Wen Ning first cleaned Jiang Cheng’s wounds and simply applied bandages over some ointment. Watching his familiar movements, Wei WuXian couldn’t help but recall how he was back during the Discussion Conference at Qishan.
The Discussion Conference was the year when Lan WangJi, Lan XiChen, Jin ZiXuan, and he ranked top four in archery.
On that day, before the archery competition began, he was strolling around the Nightless City alone. As he strolled, he passed through a small garden and suddenly heard the sound of a bowstring vibrating from in front of him.
Wei WuXian brushed through the leaves and branches. He saw a boy stand there, dressed in white, soft fabric. He drew a bow in the direction of a target before him and let go.
The side of the boy’s face seemed to be quite handsome. His drawing posture was both standard and beautiful. On the target, feathered arrows had already thickly dotted the red center. This arrow had hit the center as well.
None had been off the center.
Wei WuXian exclaimed, “Bravo!”
After the boy shot the arrow, he took out a new arrow from the quiver behind him. Head lowered, he was about to set it onto his bow as he suddenly heard an unfamiliar voice from toward the side. Surprised, his hands quivered and his arrow fell to the ground. Wei WuXian walked out from behind the garden, grinning, “Which of Wen Sect’s young masters are you? Well, well, beautiful, your shots are amazing. I haven’t seen anyone from your sect with such good…”
Before he could finish, the boy had already disappeared, leaving behind him his bow and arrows.
Wei WuXian was speechless. He felt his chin, Am I really so charming? So charming that I scared him away?
He didn’t take the matter seriously either. He just thought that he saw something cool as he returned to the square. The competition was almost starting. Over on the Wen Sect’s side, there was much clamor. Wei WuXian asked Jiang Cheng, “How could they make such a fuss over their Discussion Conference? They have something going on every single day. What’s happening today?”
Jiang Cheng, “What do you think? The spots are limited. They’re fighting over the people to let into the arena.” After a pause, he continued with disdain, “These Wen Sect’s… archery skills are the same level of bad. Wouldn’t it be the same no matter who goes? What difference would fighting over it make?”
Wen Chao shouted from the side, “Another one! Another one, we’re still short one! The last one!”
Amid the crowd beside him, the white-clothed boy was also there. Looking left and right, he finally raised his hand. But his hand wasn’t raised tall enough. He didn’t dare shout his name like the others did either. After a while of pushing around, somebody finally noticed him, musing, “QiongLin? You want to participate as well?”
The boy called ‘QiongLin’ nodded his head. Somebody else laughed, “I haven’t even seen you pick up a bow. Why do you want to participate?! Don’t waste the spot.”
Wen QiongLin seemed as if he wanted to protest for himself. The person said, “Alright, alright. Don’t be so curious. The rank is recorded. If you go up there and lose your own face it wouldn’t be my problem.”
Wei WuXian, Lose face? If anyone in the QishanWen Sect could find some face for you all, he’d be the one.
The scorn in the person’s voice was too as a matter of course. Wei WuXian wasn’t too pleased. He raised his voice, “Who said that he’s never picked up a bow? He has, and his archery is quite good!”
Everyone looked at him, somewhat surprised. They then turned to look at the boy. Wen QiongLin’s face was rather pale to begin with. Because of how everyone’s eyes centered on him, it immediately became bright red. Those pitch-black eyes stared at Wei WuXian. Wei WuXian walked over, hands behind his back, “Back then, weren’t you doing quite well in the garden?”
Wen Chao turned around as well, doubting, “Really? You? Good at archery? Why haven’t I ever heard of this?”
Wen QiongLin’s voice was low, “… I… I only started practicing recently…”
His voice was not only low but also staggering. It sounded as if it could be stopped at any moment, and it was indeed often stopped. Wen Chao interrupted impatiently, “Alright, there’s a target over there. Quickly shoot an arrow for us to see. If it’s good then go, if it’s not good then don’t.”
The area around Wen QiongLin was immediately emptied. The hand that he clutched the arrow with tightened as he looked around, seemingly looking for help. Watching how unconfident he looked, Wei WuXian patted his shoulder, “Relax. Just do as you did before.”
Wen QiongLin looked at him gratefully. With a deep breath, he drew his bow.
Unfortunately, with the draw of the bow, Wei WuXian shook his head secretly, Uh-oh.
It was likely that Wen QiongLin had never shot an arrow in front of other people. He was shaking all the way from his arm to his fingertips. The arrow flew out. It didn’t even land on the target. The Wen Sect’s people that watched from aside all laughed mockingly, “How is this good?!”
“I can shoot better than this with my eyes closed.”
“Okay, okay, stop wasting time. Let’s quickly pick somebody to enter the arena!”
Red seeped through Wen QiongLin’s face to even the bottom of his ears. There was no need for others to beckon him away; he fled self-consciously. Wei WuXian chased after him, “Hey, don’t run! Uh… QiongLin-xiong right? Why are you running?”
Hearing his name called from behind him, Wen QiongLin finally stopped. Head hanging low, he turned around. It seemed as though shame rippled from his head to his toes as he stammered, “… I’m sorry.”
Wei WuXian mused, “Why are you telling me you’re sorry?”
Wen QiongLin replied with guilt, “You… You recommended me… but I made you lose face…”
Wei WuXian, “How did it make me lose face? You haven’t really shot in front other people, have you? You were nervous?”
Wen QiongLin nodded. Wei WuXian continued, “Have some confidence. Let me tell you the truth—you shoot better than everyone in your sect. Out of all of the disciples whom I’ve seen, no more than three people are better in archery than you.”
Jiang Cheng walked over, “What are you doing this time? Three of what?”
Wei WuXian pointed at him, “There, this one, for example, he’s not as good as you.”
Jiang Cheng raged, “Do you want to die?!”
Wei WuXian suffered a strike from him. Face unchanging, he continued, “Really. There isn’t anything to be nervous about, to be honest. You’ll get used to it after practicing a few more times in front of other people. Next time, you’ll definitely impress everyone.”
Wen QiongLin was probably one of Wen Clan’s disciples furthest in bloodline. His status was neither high nor low, yet his personality was timid. He didn’t dare do anything and even his speech stuttered. Through much practice, he had finally conjured up the courage to enter the competition, but he blew it because he was too nervous. If he didn’t receive the right guidance, perhaps the boy would hide his true self more and more from now on and never dare to perform in front of other people again. Wei WuXian encouraged him a couple of times and touched on a few areas of growth, correcting some miniscule problems that he had when he was shooting in the garden. Wen QiongLin listened so attentively that he didn’t even turn his eyes away, nodding uncontrollably.
Jiang Cheng, “Where did you find so much nonsense? The competition is starting soon. Get into the arena right now!”
Wei WuXian spoke to Wen QiongLin in a serious tone, “I’ll be off to the competition now. Later, you can see how I shoot when I’m in the arena…”
Jiang Cheng dragged him away, short of patience. He spat as he dragged, “See how you shoot? Do you think that you’re a model or something?!”
Wei WuXian thought for a moment before replying, “Yeah. Am I not?”
“Wei WuXian! I haven’t seen anyone as shameless as you!”
As he recalled this, Wei WuXian’s gaze turned from Wen Ning toward Jiang Cheng, whose body was covered in blood and eyes were tightly shut. His fingers couldn’t help but clenched into fists.
They first went through the water path and down the river. When they arrived ashore, they travelled in the carriage that Wen Ning had prepared. The second day, they had arrived in Yiling.