Chapter 72: Recklessness—Part One
Translated by K of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Side by side, Lan XiChen and Lan WangJi strolled along the endless waves of Sparks Amidst Snow.
With a twist of his wrist, Lan XiChen swept over one of the snow-colored flowers, its petals in full bloom. The motion was so gentle that not even a dewdrop fell. He spoke, “WangJi, is there something on your mind? Why have you been so tense?”
Of course, in most people’s eyes, the ‘tenseness’ probably looked no different than Lan WangJi’s other expressions.
Lan WangJi’s brows sunk low as he shook his head. A few moments later, he replied in a low voice, “Brother, I want to take someone back to the Cloud Recesses.”
Lan XiChen was surprised, “Take someone back to the Cloud Recesses?”
Lan WangJi nodded, his expression pensive. After a pause, he continued, “Take him back… and hide him somewhere.”
Lan XiChen’s eyes immediately widened.
Ever since their mother passed away, this brother of his had gradually become more and more withdrawn. Apart from going on night-hunts, he’d shut himself in his room all day long, reading, meditating, practicing calligraphy, playing his guqin, and improving his cultivation. He never talked much to anyone except for him, his elder brother. Yet, this was the first time that such words found their way outside of his lips.
Lan XiChen, “Hide him somewhere?”
Lan WangJi frowned softly. He began again, “But he is not willing.”
Suddenly, the noise of chatter came from before them. Someone spat, “Is this a road that someone like you can walk on? Who let you roam around!”
A young voice replied, “I’m sorry. I…”
Hearing this, Lan XiChen and Lan WangJi looked up at the same time. Beside the wall reliefs stood two men. The one who had just scolded someone was Jin ZiXun, with a few servants and cultivators following behind him. The one who had been scolded was a white-clothed young man. When the man saw Lan XiChen and Lan WangJi, his face immediately went pale. He couldn’t even continue with the things he wanted to say. As Jin ZiXun kept up his haughty guise, Jin GuangYao came to the rescue just in time.
He went to the white-clothed man, “The paths of Koi Tower are rather intricate. Young Master Su, it’s not your fault that you got lost. You can come with me.”
Seeing that he appeared, Jin ZiXun sneered and walked around them. The white-clothed man, however, hesitated, “You know me?”
Jin GuangYao smiled, “Of course I do. Why wouldn’t I? Haven’t we met each other once? Young Master Su, Su MinShan, your swordsmanship is quite good. I’ve been thinking ever since the hunt at Phoenix Mountain about what a pity it’d be if such a young talent didn’t come to our sect. In the end, though, he did come to our sect. I was over the moon with joy. This way, please?”
There were countless cultivators who sought assistance by going to the LanlingJin Sect like Su She did. He thought that not many people would recognize him, having never expected Jin GuangYao to be able to remember him so clearly, going as far as to praise him, after just one hasty encounter with him. Instantly, Su She seemed to be more relieved. He ceased to look at the Lan brothers and followed Jin GuangYao away, scared that they’d mock or point at him.
Within Glamor Hall, Lan XiChen and Lan WangJi were seated one after the other. In the hall, it wasn’t appropriate to continue the discussion that they were holding. Lan WangJi returned to his norm of ice and frost. The GusuLan Sect was famous for its abstinence from liquor. By Jin GuangYao’s arrangements, no liquor cups were placed on either of the two’s table. There was only a teacup and a few fresh, dainty dishes. Nobody had come forth and proposed them any toasts, either, so all was calm.
Unfortunately, just as the calmness settled down, a man wearing a robe of Sparks Amidst Snow suddenly approached them, one liquor cup in each hand, “Sect Leader Lan, HanGuang-Jun, a toast to each of you!”
This was Jin ZiXun, who had been toasting everyone for the past while. Jin GuangYao knew that neither Lan XiChen nor Lan WangJi liked liquor, so he hurried over, “ZiXun, both ZeWu-Jun and HanGuang-Jun grew up in Cloud Recesses. There are over three thousand rules on their stone wall. Instead of asking them to drink, why not…”
Jin ZiXun regarded Jin GuangYao with much aversion. He thought that his background was lowly and was ashamed to be of one clan as him. He interrupted, “The Jin Sect and the Lan Sect have always been like one family. We’re all the same. My two Lan brothers, if you don’t drink this, you’d be looking down on me!”
On the side, a few of his followers all praised, “What a bold move!”
“That’s just how an esteemed cultivator should act!”
Jin GuangYao continued to smile, though he sighed under his breath, rubbing his temples. Lan XiChen stood up, wanting to decline the offer politely. Jin ZiXun continued to pester, turning to Lan XiChen, “Don’t say anything. Sect Leader Lan, our two sects aren’t strangers to each other. Don’t deal with me like how you deal with strangers! Just tell me one thing—are you drinking it or not?”
The corners of Jin GuangYao’s smile were starting to twitch. He glanced at Lan XiChen, eyes full of apology. He tried to speak gently, “After this, they’ll return on their swords. Drinking would probably affect their…”
Jin ZiXun thought nothing of this, “It’s not like they’d get drunk with just a few cups. Even if I drank eight large bowls, I’d still be able to fly away!”
A wave of cheers came from all around them. Lan WangJi was still sitting, staring coldly at the cup of liquor that Jin ZiXun forced into his sight. He looked as if he was about to speak when a hand suddenly took over the cup of liquor.
Lan WangJi paused in surprise, his knitted eyebrows unravelling at once. He looked up.
What first reflected against his pupils were black robes. A flute hung at the waist, tassels in the color of blood dangling off one end. The person who came stood with hands against his back. With a lift of his head, he drank all of the liquor and showed the empty bottom to Jin ZiXun, “I drank it for him. You satisfied yet?”
Laughter clung to both his eyes and his words. Handsome features accentuated his slender physique.
Lan XiChen, “Young Master Wei.”
Someone exclaimed in a hushed tone, “When did he come?!”
Wei WuXian put down the cup. With one hand, he fixed his lapel, “Just a moment ago.”
Just a moment ago? But, just a moment ago, clearly nobody notified the room, much less greeted him. Although surprising, it was true that not a single person noticed when he managed to slip into Glamor Hall. The crowd couldn’t help but shiver in disgust at the mere power of his abilities.
Jin GuangYao was quick to react, his enthusiasm still warm, “I wasn’t aware of Young Master Wei’s arrival at Koi Tower. The lack of a welcome was my fault. Would you like to be seated? Oh, right—do you have an invitation?”
Wei WuXian didn’t make small talk either, getting straight to the point, “No thanks. I don’t.” He nodded slightly at Jin ZiXun, “Young Master Jin, could I please have a word with you?”
Jin ZiXun, “If you have anything to say, come after our banquet is over.”
In reality, he didn’t want to talk to Wei WuXian at all. Wei WuXian could see this as well, “How long do I have to wait?”
Jin ZiXun, “Probably around six to eight hours. Or maybe ten to twelve. Or until tomorrow.”
Wei WuXian, “I’m afraid I can’t wait for that long.”
Jin ZiXun’s voice was arrogant, “You’ll have to wait even if you can’t.”
Jin GuangYao, “Young Master Wei, what do you need ZiXun for? Is it a pressing matter?”
Wei WuXian, “Pressing indeed. It allows for no delay.”
Jin ZiXun turned to Lan XiChen, holding up the other cup, “Sect Leader Lan, here, here. You haven’t drunk this cup yet!”
Seeing him stall purposely, a dark cloud flashed before his face. He narrowed his eyes, the corners of his lips curling up, “Fine. Then I’ll talk about it right here. Young Master Jin, have you heard of someone by the name of Wen Ning?”
Jin ZiXun, “Wen Ning? I haven’t.”
Wei WuXian, “You definitely remember him. Last month, when you were night-hunting in the area of Ganquan, you chased an eight-winged bat king to the gathering place, or the detention camp, of the Wen Sect’s remnants and brought a group of the Wen Sect’s disciples. The one in the lead was him.”
After the Sunshot Campaign, the QishanWen Sect was destroyed. The territory that it was expanding was shared among the other sects. The Ganquan area was appointed to the LanlingJin Sect. As for the remnants of the Wen Sect, they were herded into a small corner of Qishan, not even a thousandth the territory it onced owned. They were crammed into the place and struggled to live.
Jin ZiXun, “I don’t remember, which means I don’t remember. I’m not so idle as to go out of my way to remember a Wen-dog’s name.”
Wei WuXian, “Fine. I don’t mind explaining it in greater detail. You couldn’t catch the bat king and happened to run into a few of the Wen Sect’s disciples who were there to investigate the same thing. And so, you threatened them to carry spirit-attraction flags to be your bait. They didn’t dare do it. One person stepped out and tried to reason with you. That’s the Wen Ning I’m talking about. After some delay, the bat king got away. You beat up the Wen cultivators, took them away by force, and the group disappeared. Do I need to say any more details? They still haven’t returned yet. Apart from you, I don’t know who in the world I could possibly ask.”
Jin ZiXun, “Wei WuXian, what do you mean? You came for him? You aren’t standing up for a Wen-dog, are you?”
Wei WuXian wore a broad grin, “Since when is it your business whether I’d like to stand up for him or cut his head off? Just give him to me!”
At the last sentence, the grin on his face vanished. His tone turned cold as well. It was clear that he had lost his patience. Many of the people within Glamor Hal shivered in fear. Jin ZiXun felt his scalp tingle as well. Yet, his anger soon soared. He shouted, “Wei WuXian, you are too bold! Did the LanlingJin Sect invite you today? And you dare run wild here. Do you really think that you’re invincible, that nobody has the courage to confront you? Do you want to overturn the Heavens?”
Wei WuXian smiled, “You’re comparing yourself to the Heavens? Excuse my language, but your face is a little too thick, isn’t it?”
Although in his heart, Jin ZiXun had already begun to think of the LanlingJin Sect as the new Heavens, he too knew that his words were too rash. His cheeks flushed slightly. Just as he was about to rebut, sitting on the foremost seat, Jin GuangShan spoke up.
His voice seemed kind, “It’s not anything too important anyways. You youngsters, why lose your tempers over such a thing? However, Young Master Wei, let me be fair here. Barging in when the LanlingJin Sect is holding a private banquet is indeed inappropriate.”
To say that Jin GuangShan didn’t mind what happened at Phoenix Mountain would be impossible. This was also why he only smiled when Jin ZiXun bickered with Wei WuXian but didn’t stop them, and only spoke up when Jin ZiXun was at the disadvantage.
Wei WuXian nodded, “Sect Leader Jin, it was never my intention to disturb your private banquet. My apologies. However, the whereabouts of the people whom Young Master Jin took are still unclear. Just a moment of delay, and it might be too late. One of the group had once saved me before. I will definitely not sit back and watch. Please do not feel pressured. I will make amends for this at a later date.”
Jin GuangShan, “Whatever it is, it must be able to wait a little longer. Come, come, you can sit down first. Let’s talk about this with no rush.”
Soundlessly, Jin GuangYao had already prepared a new seat. Wei WuXian, “Thank you, Sect Leader Jin, but I won’t stay for long. The matter can’t be delayed. Please let this be sorted out as soon as possible.”
Jin GuangShan, “There’s no need for hurry. If we break things down, there are indeed a few things between us that haven’t been accounted for yet, things that can’t be delayed. Now that you’re here, how about we use the opportunity to sort those things out as well?”
Wei WuXian raised a brow, “Account for what?”
Jin GuangShan, “Young Master Wei, we’ve brought this up a couple of times with you already. You haven’t forgotten, have you? … During the Sunshot Campaign, you had once used a certain object.”
Wei WuXian, “Oh. You did mention it before. The Tiger Seal?”
Jin GuangShan, “It is said that the Stygian Tiger Seal was casted from the iron of a sword that you acquired in the cave of the Xuanwu of Slaughter. Back then, you used it on the battlefield once. Its powers were horrifying, causing even a few of our own cultivators to be affected by its residual force…”
Wei WuXian interrupted, “Please get to the point.”
Jin GuangShan, “This is the point. In the battle, apart from the Wen Sect, our sides undertook great losses as well. In my opinion, such a weapon is quite difficult to be controlled. For it to be in the hands of just a single person might be…”
Before he even finished his words, Wei WuXian began to laugh.
After a few laughs, he continued, “Sect Leader Jin, let me ask you something else. Do you think that, because the QishanWen Sect is gone, the LanlingJin Sect has all right to replace it?”
All was silent within Glamor Hall.
Wei WuXian added, “Everything has to be given to you? Everyone has to listen to you? Looking at how the LanlingJin Sect does things, I almost thought that it was the QishanWen Sect’s empire all over again.”
Hearing this, over Jin GuangShan’s square-shaped face flashed a hue of embarrassed anger. After the Sunshot Campaign, the criticism of Wei WuXian cultivating the ghoul path that the sects had once veiled began to rise. He mentioned the Stygian Tiger Seal here intending to threaten Wei WuXian, reminding him that there was still something they held against him, that others were still watching him, and thus he shouldn’t be so bold as to want to climb above the LanlingJin Sect. Nobody expected Wei WuXian’s words to be so harshly straightforward. Although he’d held the quiet thought of succeeding the Wen Sect’s position since a long time ago, nobody had ever dared to bring it to the surface so fearlessly, going as far as to mock him.
A guest cultivator on his right shouted, “Wei WuXian! Watch your words!”
Wei WuXian, “Did I say something wrong? Forcing living people to be bait and beating them up whenever they refused to obey—is this any different from what the QishanWen Sect does?”
Another guest cultivator stood up, “Of course it’s different. The Wen-dogs did all kinds of evil. To arrive at such an end is only karma for them. We only avenged a tooth for a tooth, letting them taste the fruit that they themselves had sown. What’s wrong with this?”
Wei WuXian, “Take revenge on the ones who bite you. Wen Ning’s branch doesn’t have much blood on their hands. Don’t tell me that you find them guilty by association?”
Another person spoke, “Young Master Wei, is it that they don’t have much blood on their hands just because you say so? These are only your one-sided words. Where’s the evidence?”
Wei WuXian, “You think that they killed the innocent—aren’t those your one-sided words as well? Shouldn’t you be the first one to show evidence? Why would you instead ask me for evidence?”
The person shook his head, the words ‘this man refuses to reason with me’ written all over his face. Someone else sneered, “Back then, when the Wen Sect slaughtered our people, it was thousands of times crueler than this! They didn’t treat us with justice and morality, so why should we treat them with such?”
Wei WuXian grinned, “Oh. The Wen-dogs did all kinds of evil, so anyone whose surname is Wen can be killed? That’s not it, is it? Many of the clans who defected from the Wen Sect are quite well-off right now, aren’t they? In this hall, isn’t there a few sect leaders from clans that used to be under the Wen Sect’s wing?”
As the sect leaders saw that he recognized them, their expressions changed at once. Wei WuXian continued, “Since anyone whose surname is Wen can be used an outlet of anger as one pleases, no matter if they’re innocent or not, does it mean that it’s fine even if I kill all of them right now?”
Before he even finished his words, he placed his hand on his waist where Chenqing hung. Instantly, it was as if a piece of memory was stirred up in the minds of everyone within the hall, as though they returned to the battlefield where darkness became the sky and corpses became mountains. At once, people stood up from among the crowd.
Lan WangJi’s lowered his voice, “Wei Ying!”
Jin GuangYao was the closest to Wei WuXian, but he maintained his composure, speaking in a gentle voice, “Young Master Wei, please don’t overdo things. Things are still open for discussion.”
Jin GuangShan stood up as well, his face a mixture of shock, anger, fear, and hatred, “Wei WuXian! Just because… Sect Leader Jiang isn’t here doesn’t mean you can be so reckless!”
Wei WuXian’s voice was harsh, “Do you think that I wouldn’t be reckless if he were here? If I wanted to kill someone, who could stop me, and who would dare stop me?!”
Lan WangJi spoke, one word at a time, “Wei Ying, put down Chenqing.”
Wei WuXian looked at him. From against the pair of eyes as mild as glass, he saw his own hideous reflection. He spun around, shouting, “Jin ZiXun!”
Jin GuangShan hurried, “ZiXun!”
Wei WuXian, “Cut the nonsense. I’m sure everyone knows that my patience is limited. Where is he? With so much time wasted on you, I’ll give you three. Three!”
Jin ZiXun wanted to resist, but when he saw Jin GuangShan’s face, he felt his heart shiver. Wei WuXian began again, “Two!”
Jin ZiXun finally yelled, “… Fine! Fine! It’s just a few Wen-dogs. Take them if you want to. I’m not fooling around with you any longer! Go find them at Qiongqi Path on your own!”
Wei WuXian laughed coldly, “If only you said it sooner.”
He came like wind and went like wind. When his silhouette finally disappeared, the storm over the people’s heads finally dissipated. Within Glamor Hall, most of those who stood up sat back down again. Almost all of them had already broken into cold sweats. On the other hand, Jin GuangShan, standing with a blank face where his seat was, finally lost his temper and kicked over the table in front of him. All of the gold dishes and silver platters rolled down the stairs.
Seeing his discomposure, Jin GuangYao wanted to ease the situation, starting, “Fa-”
Before he could finish, Jin GuangShan had already left. Jin ZiXun also felt that by giving in, he lost face in front of everyone. Out of both anger and hatred, he wanted to leave as well.
Jin GuangYao hurried, “ZiXun!”
Jin ZiXun was at the peak of his anger. Without a second thought, he flung away the cup of liquor that was turned down, directly towards Jin GuangYao’s chest. A splash of liquor immediately sprouted on top of the Sparks Amidst Snow blooming passionately over the white robes. It was more than embarrassing, but because of how chaotic the state of the hall was, nobody really minded the act of great misconduct.
Lan XiChen was the only one who exclaimed, “Brother!”
Jin GuangYao, “I’m fine, I’m fine. Brother, please be seated.”
It was unsuitable for Lan XiChen to comment on Jin ZiXun, so he took out a snow-colored handkerchief and passed it to him, “Go retire and change your clothes.”
Jin GuangYao took the handkerchief, wiping away as he forced a smile, “I can’t leave, can I?”
He was the only one left to clean up the mess. How could he leave the scene? He reassured the crowd as he ranted, completely exhausted, “Young Master Wei really is too impulsive. How could he speak in such a way in front of so many sects?”
Lan WangJi spoke coldly, “Was he wrong?”
Jin GuangYao paused almost unnoticeably. He immediately laughed, “Haha. Yes, he’s right. But it’s because he’s right that he can’t say it in front of them, correct?”
Lan XiChen seemed as if he was deep in thought, “Young Master Wei’s heart really has changed.”
Hearing this, pain flashed across the light pair of eyes under Lan WangJi’s knitted brows.
Having left Koi Tower, Wei WuXian turned one corner after another until he arrived at an alley, “I know where he is. Let’s go.”
Wen Qing had been sitting on pins and needles within the alley. Hearing him, she rushed out at once. Her body was still fairly weak. Head spinning, she felt her ankle twist before Wei WuXian propped her up with one hand. He suggested, “Do you want me to take you somewhere to rest? It’s fine if I go alone. I’ll definitely bring back Wen Ning.”
Wen Qing immediately clung to him, “No! No! I’ll go, I have to go!”
After Wen Ning went missing, she ran from Qishan to Yunmeng with almost no rest on her way. She hadn’t closed her eyes in days. When she saw Wei WuXian, she urged him and begged him as if she was mad. Right now, with pale lips and blank eyes, she was worn to a shadow. Seeing how she seemed like she couldn’t hold out any longer, with there being no time for her to eat slowly, he bought a few steamed buns from a vendor for her to eat on the go. Wen Qing knew too that she was almost at her limit and that she had to eat. With tangled hair and red eyes, she bit into the bun. What she looked like reminded Wei WuXian of how he and Jiang Cheng were like when they were on the run.
He promised again, “It’s fine. I’ll definitely bring back Wen Ning.”
Wen Qing sobbed as she ate, “I knew I shouldn’t have left… But I had no choice. They forced me to go to another city. When I came back, Wen Ning and the entire group was gone! I knew I shouldn’t have left him alone!”
Wei WuXian, “He’ll be alright.”
Wen Qing was breaking down, “He won’t! A-Ning’s been a skittish one ever since he was young. He’s both cautious and timid. He doesn’t even dare hire the more quick-tempered people to be his subordinates—they’re all a bunch of mice like him! He has no idea of what to do when in an emergency when I’m not there with him!”
When Wei WuXian, with Jiang Cheng on his back, said goodbye to Wen Qing, this was what she said, ‘No matter what the result of this campaign turns out to be, from now on, we owe each other no more. It’s all settled.’
Wei WuXian could still see in his mind’s eye her proud expression. Yet, last night, she refused to let go of his hand, almost kneeling in front of him as she begged, ‘Wei WuXian, Wei WuXian, Young Master Wei, please help me. I really can’t find anyone else to help me. You really have to help me find A-Ning! I have no other choice other than you!’
None of the pride from before remained.
Qiongqi Path was an ancient path that ran through a valley. According to legend, the path was where the founder of the QishanWen Sect, Wen Mao, rose to fame in just one battle. Hundreds of years ago, he fought a divine beast for an entirety of eighty-one days, taking its life in the end. The divine beast was the Qiongqi, a divine beast of chaos known to punish the good and encourage the evil, to devour the loyal, the righteous and to award the malicious. Of course, whether the legend was actually true or if it was exaggerated by the succeeding sect leaders of the QishanWen Sect would be impossible to determine.
Hundreds of years later, this valley had turned from a rift of danger to a scenery of praise and of tourism. After the Sunshot Campaign, the sects divided up the area that the QishanWen Sect used to hold, and Qiongqi Path was taken by the LanlingJin Sect. Originally, all of the tall walls of the valley were carved with life stories of the founder Wen Mao. Now that the LanlingJin Sect had taken over, of course it couldn’t let the QishanWen Sect’s glorious past continue to exist. It was in the middle of reconstruction, meaning that all of the reliefs on both sides would be chiselled down and new ones would be carved. Naturally, in the end, it’d be given a new name that’d emphasize the LanlingJin Sect’s gallantry.
Such a large-scale undertaking would need many laborers for sure. And, as for these laborers, of course there were no better candidates than the Wen Sect’s prisoners of war, who had become homeless dogs after the Sunshot Campaign.
When the two reached Qiongqi Path, it was already nighttime. Against the dark veil, cold strands of rain quivered in the air. One step after another, Wen Qing followed Wei WuXian closely, trembling as though she was cold not from the outside but from the inside. Wei WuXian had to help her a little every once in a while. Before the valley was a row of shacks built temporarily for the prisoners of war to spend their nights. Leading Wen Qing, Wei WuXian saw an old, bent-over figure from afar. Cloaked in rain, the figure walked slowly, carrying a large flag. When it walked nearer, it became clear that the person carrying the flag was a wobbly old woman. She carried on her back a young toddler who paid attention to nothing but nibbling his fingers, fixed into position by a few cloth rags. The old and the young walked to and fro across the road. The old woman found the flag to be quite difficult to carry. She had to rest after walking for just a few steps, putting down the flag.
Seeing this, Wen Qing yelled with red eyes, “Granny! It’s me!”
The old woman probably couldn’t see or hear well. She couldn’t tell by sight or by hearing who the person was. All she knew was that someone approached and shouted something at her. She hastily took up the flag again, her face full of fear, as though she was scared that she’d be found out and scolded.
Wen Qing ran over and grabbed the flag from her, “What is this? What are you doing?”
A large sun, crest of the QishanWen Sect, was painted over the flag. However, it a blood-red cross was plastered on top of it. The flag itself was torn to bits as well. From when the Sunshot Campaign ended until now, countless people were labeled ‘leftover Wen-dogs’. Countless methods were used to torture them too, even called the euphemism ‘self reflection’. Wei WuXian knew it was likely because she was too old and couldn’t be a laborer like the others that the leader here came up with such a way to torment her. She had to carry the Wen Sect’s tattered flag and walk around in self humiliation.
Surprised, the old woman first flinched. When she could finally tell who it was, her jaw dropped.
Wen Qing asked, “Granny, where’s A-Ning? Where’s Fourth Uncle and the rest? Where’s A-Ning?!”
The old woman looked at Wei WuXian, standing beside her, and didn’t dare say anything. She only looked in the direction of the valley. Unable to do anything else, Wen Qing sprinted over.
Torches were set up on both sides of the valley. The flames flickered now and then within the faint strings of rain, but their blaze nonetheless illuminated the hundreds of heavy silhouettes on the path.
The prisoners were all ghastly pale, their steps dragging. They weren’t allowed to use spiritual powers or any other instruments, not only by the LanlingJin Sect’s precautions against them, but also because it had to be punishing. Over a dozen inspectors, bearing black umbrellas, rode on horseback through the rain as they scolded. Wen Qing rushed into the rain, her eyes scanning frantically across every tired, grime-covered face.
One of the inspectors noticed her, raising a hand and shouting, “Where did you come from? Who let you run around here?”
Wen Qing urged, “I’m here to find someone, I’m here to find someone!”
The inspector approached, pulling something from the side of his waist and waving it about, “I don’t care if you’re looking for someone or not—leave! If you don’t…”
At this point, he saw that a black-robed man walked over from behind the young woman. As if his tongue had gotten tied, his voice trailed off.
The young man bore handsome features, but his eyes were rather cold. He couldn’t help but shiver under the gaze. Soon, he realized that the young man wasn’t staring at him, but instead the iron brand that he brandished.
The iron brand within the inspector’s hand was the same kind as what the QishanWen Sect’s servants used. It was only that the shape of the brand at the top was changed from the sun crest to the peony crest.
As Wei WuXian took note of this, cold light flashed within his eyes. Many of the inspectors recognized him. They stopped their horses quietly, whispering among each other. Nobody dared stop Wen Qing any longer, and she shouted as she searched, “A-Ning! A-Ning!”
No matter how desolate her voice was, no one answered her. She saw no trace of her brother even after she searched through the entire valley. If Wen Ning were here, he would’ve rushed toward her long ago. Stealthily, the inspectors dismounted their horses. The entire group stared at Wei WuXian, as though hesitating about whether or not to greet him.
Wen Qing rushed over and asked, “Where are the Wen cultivators sent here just a few days ago?”
The people looked at one another. After some dawdling, an inspector who looked quite honest spoke up, his tone friendly, “All of the prisoners here are the Wen Sect’s cultivators. New ones are sent here every day.”
Wen Qing, “It’s my brother, sent here by Jin ZiXun! He… He’s about this tall. He doesn’t talk much, stammers whenever he talks…”
The inspector, “Hey, Maiden, look. There are so many people here. How could we remember if any of them stammers or not?”
Wen Qing stomped her feet in anxiety, “I know he has to be here!”
The inspector was round and chubby. He gave an obsequiously apologetic grin, “Maiden, don’t worry. Actually, it happens a lot that other sects come to us for cultivators. Maybe somebody else took him during the past few days? When we do roll calls, we’d sometimes find that someone ran away as well…”
Wen Qing, “He wouldn’t have ran away! Granny and the others are all here. My brother wouldn’t have ran away on his own.”
The inspector, “Then, would you like to take your time searching for him? All of the people are here. If you don’t find him, then we can’t do anything about it either.”
Suddenly, Wei WuXian spoke up, “All of the people are here?”
As he spoke, all of their faces froze for an instant. The inspector turned toward him, “That’s right.”
Wei WuXian, “Fine. For the time being, I’ll take it that all the living ones are here. Then, what about the rest?”
Wen Qing’s figure wobbled.
The ‘rest’ as compared to the ‘living’ could only be the ‘dead’.
The inspectors quickly replied, “That’s not the way to talk. Although it’s all Wen cultivator’s here, we’ve never dared do anything fatal.”
As though he heard nothing, Wei WuXian took out the flute at his waist. The few prisoners who were beside him, trudging forward, screamed before they threw off the heavy objects on their backs and fled. Within the valley, a large circle of space formed immediately, him in the center.
In truth, the prisoners didn’t recognize Wei WuXian’s face, for the Wen Sect cultivators who ran into Wei WuXian on the battlefield of the Sunshot Campaign only met one end—utter annihilation. Thus, most of the Wen cultivators who recognized his face became fierce corpses in his army, for him to command. However, the flute made of dark wood, decorated with a crimson tassel, and the young man in black who controlled it had already become their nightmares.
From everywhere, people exclaimed, “It’s the ghost flute Chenqing!”
Wei WuXian put Chenqing to his lips. The shrill sound of the flute first ripped through the night sky and across the curtains of rain with the force of an arrow. Immediately after, its residue echoed through the entire valley. Only one note, and Wei WuXian placed Chenqing back. He stood with his arms hanging down, a cold grin at his lips, letting the drops of rain dampen his hair and clothes.
Soon, someone suddenly spoke, “What’s that sound?”
Yelps of surprise suddenly came from the far side of the crowd. Scrambling, the people soon emptied out an area of the circle with which they surrounded him. In the area stood slantingly around a dozen tattered figures, tall and short, men and women. Some of them gave off the stench of rotting flesh. The one who stood at the front was Wen Ning, whose eyes were still open.
His face was as pale as wax and his pupils were dilated. The blood at the corner of his lips had already dried into a dark brown. Although his chest didn’t rise and fall at all, it was obvious to see that half of his ribcage had collapsed. Nobody who saw such a scene would think that he was still alive, but Wen Qing still didn’t give up, grabbing for his pulse with trembling hands.
Holding onto him for a few moments, she finally broke into tears.
She’d been both scared and anxious, running as though she was mad, but she was still too late. She couldn’t even see her brother one last time.
Wen Qing cried as she touched Wen Ning’s ribs, as if she wanted to piece them back together. In vain hopes, she clung onto the nonexistent possibility. Her sweet features were wrung distorted, becoming unsightly, ugly, even. But, when someone was in the deepest of their sorrows, they’d never be able to cry with grace.
In front of the stiff corpse of her only younger brother, not a fragment was left of the pride that she tried so hard to upkeep.
The shock that Wen Qing received was too strong. Finally, she couldn’t hang on any longer and passed out. Standing behind her, Wei WuXian caught her without saying anything, letting her lean onto his chest. He closed his eyes, opening them a short while later, “Who killed him?”
His tone was between hot and cold. It was as if he wasn’t angered, but rather thinking about something. The inspector at the head thought that he still had a chance, answering in denial, “Young Master Wei, you mustn’t say such a thing. We wouldn’t dare kill a single person here. He’s the one who wasn’t careful while working, fell off the valley walls and died.”
Wei WuXian, “Nobody would dare kill a single person? Is that true?”
The inspectors swore in unison, “Absolutely!”
“Not a single one!”
Wei WuXian smiled, “Oh. I understand.”
Immediately after, he continued calmly, “It’s because they’re Wen-dogs, and Wen-dogs aren’t people. So even if you killed them, it doesn’t count as having killed people. That’s what you mean, isn’t it?”
This was exactly what the lead inspector was thinking when he said it. With his thoughts read, his complexion paled. Wei WuXian added, “Or did you really think I wouldn’t know how someone died?”
All of the inspectors were speechless. As if they finally realized that the situation wasn’t in their favor, they looked like they were shrinking backward. Wei WuXian maintained his smile, “It’s best if you admit everything honestly. Who’s the one that killed him? Step forward on your own. Or else, I’d prefer killing the wrong people over letting them go. Killing all of you would make sure that no one is let off.”
The group felt their scalps tingle and their blood run cold. The head inspector stammered, “The YunmengJiang Sect and the LanlingJin Sect have been getting along with each other. You mustn’t…”
Hearing this, Wei WuXian glanced at him, his tone amused, “You’re quite brave. Are you threatening me?”
The head inspector hurried, “Of course not, of course not.”
Wei WuXian, “Congratulations to you for successfully draining all my patience. Since you don’t want to speak up, let’s let him answer on his own.”
As though it’d been waiting for his words for a long time, Wen Ning’s frozen corpse suddenly moved, raising its head. Before the two nearest inspectors could even scream, each of their throats was clenched by a hand as firm as iron.
Expressionless, Wen Ning raised up the two short-legged inspectors high in the air. The empty circle around them grew larger and larger. The head inspector shouted, “Young Master Wei! Young Master Wei! Please go easy on us! Doing this in the heat of the moment would lead to irreversible consequences!”
The rain fell heavier and heavier. Drops of water trickled incessantly down Wei WuXian’s cheeks.
He suddenly spun around, putting his hand on Wen Ning’s shoulder before shouting, “Wen QiongLin!”
As if a reply, Wen Ning let out a long, thundering roar. The ears of everyone within the valley ached.
Wei WuXian spoke one word at a time, “Whoever caused all of you to be like this, let them meet the same end. I give you the right to do so. Settle everything!”
Hearing this, Wen Ning immediately crashed the two inspectors that he was holding together. Like exploding watermelons, the two heads immediately let out a loud bang, sending red and white flying everywhere.
The scene was hauntingly grotesque. Screams sounded all throughout the valley. Horses neighed and prisoners fled—it was more than chaotic. Wei WuXian took up Wen Qing in his arms. As if nothing happened, he crossed the panicking crowd and held up the reins of a horse. As he was about to turn around, a slight-figured prisoner called him, “… Mr. Wei.”
Wei WuXian turned to look at him, “What?”
The prisoner’s voice quivered slightly as he pointed in a certain direction, “There’s… There’s a house on that side of the valley. They use it to… lock people inside and beat them up. Anyone who dies would be dragged outside and buried. Some of the people you’re looking for might be over there…”
Wei WuXian, “Thank you.”
He followed the direction that the person pointed and indeed saw a shed that seemed like it was only temporarily built. Holding Wen Qing in one hand, he kicked the door open. In a corner of the room sat around a dozen people, all of them bruised and bleeding. They flinched from the shock of him kicking the door open so crudely. When a few of them saw Wen Qing, lying in Wei WuXian’s arms, they rushed over, ignoring their heavy injuries, “Maiden Qing!”
One of them seethed, “Who… Who are you? What did you do to Office Leader?”
Wei WuXian, “Nothing. Who are the cultivators under Wen Ning? Cut the nonsense and step out now!”
The group stared among themselves, but Wei WuXian had already left, Wen Qing in his arms. They could do nothing but force themselves to follow, helping one another up. As soon as they left the house, before they could even tell what the chaos within the valley was all about, Wei WuXian ordered, “Get the horses. Hurry up!”
A middle-aged man protested, “No, our Young Master Wen Ning…”
Suddenly, a severed head flew across his sight. The people turned around just in time to see Wen Ning crash a corpse the limbs of which were still twitching onto the ground. With bare hands, he grabbed for the internal organs.
Wei WuXian shouted, “Enough!”
Low growls came from Wen Ning’s throat, as though he still wasn’t satisfied. Wei WuXian whistled and said again, “Get up!”
Wen Ning could only stand up. Wei WuXian, “What are you waiting for? Mount the horses! Don’t tell me you’re waiting for me to find you swords?”
One of the group remembered that an elderly was here. He hastened to bring the old woman and the toddler along, helping them onto a horse. Holding the still-unconscious Wen Qing, Wei WuXian himself mounted his horse as well. The dozens of people found a single dozen horses amid the pandemonium. Around two or three people took one horse despite the discomfort. The old woman couldn’t ride one by herself and she had to somehow carry the child with her.
Seeing this, Wei WuXian stretched out his hand, “Give him to me.”
The old woman shook her head many times. The child hugged his granny’s neck tightly as well, on the verge of sliding off. There was an unconcealable fear within the two’s eyes. With a reach, Wei WuXian lifted the child up and tucked him under his arm.
The old woman was scared to death, “A-Yuan! A-Yuan!”
Although the child called A-Yuan was still quite young, he already knew fear, but still he didn’t cry. He only continued to nibble at his fingers as he snuck a few glances at Wei WuXian.
Wei WuXian shouted, “We’re going!” His legs struck against the horse’s back and led the group. Around a dozen horses followed behind him, dashing into the night rain.
Him: In Chinese, there actually is no way of telling whether this refers to a man or a woman. At this point, Lan XiChen is still unable to tell that his younger brother wants to lock another man up.
Square-shaped: To anyone who’s been following the donghua, Jin GuangYao is described quite differently as compared to how he’s portrayed in the donghua. I’m surprised by the handsome man in the donghua as well, but then again, all three of Jin ZiXuan, Jin GuangYao, and Jin Ling inherited his genes…
Side note from Addis, the editor of GDC and creator of ExR. I know you guys reading this novel are super excited for it and want it to be finished as quickly as possible to quench your thirst, however, what I think many of you don’t understand is the length of the GDC chapters. Each chapter ends up at around 6000 to 9000 English words. If you are an avid follower of novels, you would know that the normal length of a light novel chapter is around 2000 English words. Due to the length of the chapters, it is as though K is translating three to even five chapters at a time, for only one chapter. This is why there is only one chapter released every week, each chapter is the length of 3.5 chapters currently. So please wait patiently for our translations. Do not try to make us feel guilty by posting “sincere” comments asking for another update as soon as possible. Truthfully, these comments are aggravating and make it harder to want to finish the chapters. Thank you for reading. Release is set at only one chapter a week until further notice.