Chapter 67: Tenderness—Part Five
Translated by K of Exiled Rebels Scnlations
The wife spoke again, “Let’s just hope that he knows who did him wrong. If he wants to seek revenge, then seek revenge on those cultivators. Please don’t come harm us normal people.”
Her husband, “Who could possibly guarantee that? When he killed over three thousand people in Qishan, I was very young, but I can still remember that back then, not only the immortals who cultivated, even normal people were scared of him. He’s a bloodlusting demon who has no heart.”
Wei WuXian’s grin gradually faded.
He had been quite interested when listening to the couple talk about their daily lives. However, all of a sudden, he felt that his head was as heavy as a thousand pounds. He couldn’t raise it to see the expression on Lan WangJi’s face. What the couple chatted about next, he couldn’t hear any of it.
Suddenly, a chilling roar came from outside of the farm. The family in the yard had been having dinner, talking and laughing. When they heard the unhuman roar, they were so startled that even one of the bowls smashed onto the ground. The child began to cry. The young man snatched a hoe from the side, “Don’t worry! Don’t worry!”
Not only were they surprised, even Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi flinched. Lan WangJi was about to get up when Wei WuXian thought of something and grabbed the clothing in front of his chest, “Don’t move!”
Lan WangJi’s eyes widened slightly. The roar had definitely come from some dark, cruel creature. If the owner of the farm went to deal with it alone, he’d most likely not come back alive. In spite of this, Wei WuXian repeated, “Don’t move.”
A scream came from the yard, along with more of those unhuman roars coming closer and closer. It had already entered the door. Lan WangJi couldn’t stay still any longer. Bichen unsheathed at the speed of lightning. Yet, the family of three had already fled, running as they screamed. The stack of straw had been messed up by Bichen. Amid the straws raining down on them, something entirely black stood in the middle of the yard.
Its hair was tangled and it was still flashing its fangs. The disordered points that seemed to grow out of its body made it look both terrifying and somewhat funny. Lan WangJi had never seen such a monster before. He paused in surprise, while Wei WuXian had spoken already, “Wen Ning, you haven’t opened up your throat in too many years. Your shouts are really getting worse and worse.”
Human speech came out of the mouth of the dark monster, “Young Master… I’m a fierce corpse after all. All fierce corpses sound like this… when they shout.”
Wei WuXian patted his shoulder, “Such strong energy.”
Wen Ning glanced at Lan WangJi. Probably having recalled that the GusuLan Sect’s people disliked those who didn’t dress neatly, he smoothed his hair a couple of times, sheepish-looking. As Wei WuXian saw how many branches stuck out of his hair, he almost couldn’t bear it as he plucked one out, “Why did you suddenly jump out? And you’re like this. Were you robbed? What’s that on your face?”
Wen Ning, “The dust and dirt on the ground… After I watched you two go inside and didn’t come out for a long time…”
Wei WuXian, “You’ve always been following behind us?”
Wen Ning nodded. Wei WuXian understood. Wen Ning didn’t dare meet with anyone except for him. And so, after they went down the Cloud Recesses, he secretly followed behind them. When he saw that nothing happened for a long time after they went inside the farm, he went to listen in and heard that the couple was talking about him. He felt awkward and wanted to scare them away so that Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi could come out. Probably feeling that how he had looked wasn’t daunting enough, he stuck a bunch of strange things to his face and his body.
Wei WuXian was laughing so hard that he was close to death. With a look of embarrassment on his face, Wen Ning rubbed the mud away as Wei WuXian suddenly found that his hands were covered in blood, “What happened?”
Wen Ning, “Oh, nothing…”
Lan WangJi, “The scent of blood.”
Wei WuXian just realized that there really was the scent of blood coming from Wen Ning. His heart skipped a beat. As Wen Ning saw, he immediately waved his hands, “Not blood! No, no, it is blood, but it’s not the blood of live humans.”
Wei WuXian, “Not the blood of live humans? Have you fought with anything?”
Wen Ning had led them for a while until they arrived at a patch of woods. In the woods, there were twenty or thirty new graves, along with a half-finished pit on the side and a pile of corpses beside the pit. He’d call it a pile and not a single corpse because the corpses were already quite broken. Wei WuXian went up to examine it. The fingers of some of the severed arms were still twitching. The jaws of some of the heads were still opening and closing, creating the hair-rising sound of teeth rubbing against one another. The corpses had transformed already.
Wei WuXian, “You’ve broken them into quite a lot of pieces.”
Wen Ning, “If I didn’t, they’d keep on biting people. They couldn’t be stopped at all. All along the way there are corpses like these.”
Wei WuXian, “All along the way? Have you always been in front of us to get rid of these things?”
Wen Ning nodded in embarrassment. His ability to recognize those of his own was greater than that of humans, and he could recognize them from farther away as well. If this was the case, then that’d explain why nothing had happened during their journey. Wei WuXian had found this strange as well. Didn’t people say that a bunch of fierce corpses were travelling toward Yiling? Why didn’t they see a single one of them? So Wen Ning had cleared the obstacles before them.
Wei WuXian, “When did you begin to follow us?”
Lan WangJi, “Koi Tower.”
Wei WuXian looked at Wen Ning as Lan WangJi continued, “The day of the fight with the cultivators, he helped.”
Wei WuXian sighed, “Didn’t I tell you to hide somewhere and not worry about anything right now?”
Wen Ning forced a smile, “But, Young Master… where could I hide?”
Before, he had somewhere to return to, people he could follow, but now, in this world, apart from Wei WuXian, everyone was unfamiliar to him.
After a while of silence, Wei WuXian stood up and patted at the dust at the lower hem of his clothes, “Bury them.”
Wen Ning quickly nodded. He continued to dig the pit that had only been half finished. Lan WangJi pulled Bichen out. Its sword energy swept out. Dirt splashed everywhere, and a crevice was opened in the ground.
Wei WuXian, “HanGuang-Jun, you’re digging the grave too?”
Lan WangJi turned around. Just as he was about to speak, he saw Wen Ning standing behind him. Forcing up his frozen lips, he squeezed a smile, “… Young Master Lan, do you want any help? I’m finished with my side.”
Lan WangJi looked behind him. There were rows of black pits, the piles of dirt beside them tall and neat. Wen Ning maintained his ‘smile’ as he added, “I do this kind of thing a lot. I’m experienced. And fast.”
On the topic of who it was that often made him ‘do this kind of thing’, no explanation was needed.
After some silence, Lan WangJi finally spoke, “There is no need. You can help…”
Before he could finish, he suddenly realized that Wei WuXian didn’t move at all. He had been squatting on the side, watching them. When he left the farm, he casually took with him a melon, and now he seemed to be trying to figure out how to open it.
Meeting Lan WangJi’s gaze, he protested, “HanGuang-Jun, don’t look at me like that. I have nothing in my hands and my spiritual powers are low, am I right? For every field there are professionals, it’s true. Digging graves, he’s the fastest. Why don’t we talk about how to eat the melon? Bichen had gone into the dirt and we won’t be able to use it as of now. Does anyone have anymore knives or swords or those kinds of things on them?”
Wen Ning shook his head, “Sorry, I didn’t bring any.”
Wei WuXian, “HanGuang-Jun, uh, is Suibian with you?”
Lan WangJi, “…”
Eventually, he took Suibian out of his qiankun sleeve. Melon in one hand and sword in the other, he showed off a sword routine and cut the little watermelon into eight pieces. After he finished, he squatted on the ground, watching them dig graves diligently as he ate melon.
On the other hand, within half an hour, Wen Ning had digged an entire row of pits exactly the same in size. He lay the corpses that he had broken up inside as he rambled on, “Everyone, I’m really sorry. I can’t tell anymore which of your corpses belonged to whom. If I buried anyone’s wrong, please excuse me…”
Having finished the melon and buried the rest of the corpses, Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi set off again.
A few days later, the two arrived at Yiling.
Burial Mound was less than three miles away from the town before them. Although they didn’t know what was waiting for them there, Wei WuXian had a hunch that it wasn’t anything good.
However, Lan WangJi was right beside him. His strides were steady and his eyes were calm. Wei WuXian didn’t have any sense of emergency to begin with. Looking at such a person, he couldn’t feel nervous no matter what. Walking through the town of Yiling, it was the accent of his home all around him. Refreshed by the familiarity, in spite of how he wasn’t going to buy anything, he couldn’t help but chat with the vendors by the streets in the the local accent.
After he felt satisfied with how much he had spoken, he finally turned around, “HanGuang-Jun, you remember this town, don’t you?”
Lan WangJi nodded lightly, “I do.”
Wei WuXian grinned, “I knew that your memory is better than mine. In this town, we’ve met once before. You happened to be night-hunting in Yiling and I said that I needed to treat you a meal. You remember this too?”
Lan WangJi, “I do.”
Wei WuXian, “But it’s quite a shame. You ended up paying in the end anyway, haha!”
He sat on the donkey with his legs criss-crossed. He swayed as he pretended to be unconcerned, “Speaking of it, HanGuang-Jun, do you plan on ever retiring?”
Lan WangJi paused shortly, as though he was thinking for a moment. Wei WuXian struck the iron while it was still hot, “Have you thought of what to do after you retire?”
Lan WangJi gazed at him, “Not yet.”
Wei WuXian thought to himself, It’s perfect if you haven’t thought of anything yet! I’ll think for you.
He was going to find a place beautiful though sparsely populated and build a large house there. He could build one for Lan WangJi next to him as well. Everyday there’d be two dishes and a soup. Of course, it’d be best if Lan WangJi was the one who cooked, or else they had to eat the things he cooked. It’d be best if Lan WangJi was responsible for the account of their money as well. Before his eyes even appeared the scene of Lan WangJi wearing coarse cloth, patches at his chest and his knees, sitting expressionlessly at a handmade wooden table, counting coins one by one. After he finished counting, he grabbed a hoe and went out to work. And, on the other hand, he’d… he’d… he’d do what?
Wei WuXian thought seriously about what he’d be doing. People often said that to exchange for food one either plowed the fields or spun cloth. Now that somebody was plowing the fields, somebody had to spin the cloth as well. Just thinking of him crossing his knees and shaking his legs in front of a loom was enough for him to cringe. He’d rather grab the hoe. It’d be more suitable for Lan WangJi to spin cloth. In the day they’d fish and plow the fields, while at night they’d get their swords and go night-hunting for beasts and demons. If they got tired of it, they could pretend that they’d never retired and it’d be fine for them just to enter the world again. But, as he had thought, they were missing a small one…
Lan WangJi suddenly spoke up, “A small what?”
Wei WuXian, “Huh?”
He suddenly realized that he had spoken the last sentence out. He immediately regained himself, “I meant, Lil’ Apple is missing a small friend.”
Lil’ Apple turned around and spat hard. Wei WuXian slapped its donkey head. Pulling its long ears, he laughed, but all of a sudden, he couldn’t laugh anymore.
It wasn’t because of anything special, but only that he remembered. Back then, he really had a little child beside him. If he had lived until now, he’d be close to fifteen years old already.
Burial Mound sat in the depths of the mountains of Yiling.
The world called Burial Mound a mountain of corpses. Over the hills, if one stuck their shovel anywhere into the ground, they’d be able to dig out a dead person. This wasn’t wrong. Burial Mound used to be an ancient battleground. In the years afterward, people had gotten used to tossing inside nameless corpses, causing there to always be dark, resentful energy throughout the year. In the end, it became the nightmare of everyone in the Yiling area.
As though tainted by the energy of resentment, within the woods on the mound, all of the leaves and branches were as black as death. From the most bottom part of the mountain, there was a tall wall dozens of feet in height. Carved onto the wall were tightly-packed incantations, preventing both the living and the dead from passing through. The wall of incantations that surrounded the entire burial mound was at first built by the third sect leader of the QishanWen Sect. However, since they couldn’t purify the overwhelmingly powerful spirits that dwelled here, they could only choose the second best option, to isolate them with a wall. Wei WuXian had once pushed this wall down. The one here now was a new wall rebuilt and strengthened by the LanlingJin Sect’s people.
However, when they arrived, they discovered that a long section of the wall had been pushed down again.