Chapter 77: Nightfall—Part Two
Translated by K of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
In the past, there were only others who asked him what to do. Now, though, he was the one asking others what he should do, and nobody was able to give him an answer.
Suddenly, Wei WuXian felt a faint pain at the side of his neck, as if he’d been stabbed by a sharp needle. He felt his body grow numb all over. Having been caught off guard due to the momentary absent-mindedness, he only realized what was happening after a few moments had passed. Involuntarily, he had already collapsed onto the rock bed. At first, he could still raise his arm, but soon, even his arm crashed onto the bed. He could no longer move.
With red eyes, Wen Qing slowly removed her right hand, “… I’m sorry.”
She shouldn’t have been able to land an attack on Wei WuXian with her speed, but Wei WuXian wasn’t on the alert at all. With the pain, Wei WuXian felt his mind calm down a bit as well. His Adam’s apple bobbed before he opened his mouth, “What are you doing?”
Wen Qing and Wen Ning exchanged a glance. Standing before him, in unison, they granted him a solemn salutation.
Seeing this, a restless sense of foreboding rose within Wei WuXian, “What are you going to do? Just what are you doing?”
Wen Qing, “When you woke up, we were in the middle of discussing it. I think we’ve come to a conclusion.”
Wei WuXian, “Discussing what? Stop talking nonsense. Take out the needle—let me go!”
Wen Ning slowly got up from the ground. His head still hung low, “Sister and I have come to a conclusion. We’ll be going to Koi Tower to give ourselves up.”
“Give yourselves up?” Wei WuXian was shocked, “How are you going to do that? Apologize? Surrender?”
Wen Qing rubbed her eyes, her expression appearing to be calm, “Yes, more or less. In the days you were down, the LanlingJin Sect sent people to give a few words at Burial Mound.”
Wei WuXian, “Give a few words about what? Don’t talk one word at a time. Say it all at once! Finish your explanation!”
Wen Qing, “The LanlingJin Sect wanted you to give them an answer. The answer would be to hand over the two leaders of the remaining Wen Sect members, especially the Ghost General.”
“…” Wei WuXian, “I’m warning you two. Get this needle out of me right now.”
Wen Qing continued on, “The leaders of the remaining Wen Sect members—that’s us. According to them, if you hand us over, this incident would temporarily be considered over as well. Then, we might have you on the bed for a couple more days. The effects of the needle inside of you would cease in three days’ time. I’ve talked to Uncle Four about it already. He’ll watch over you and let you out if an emergency happens within the three days.”
Wei WuXian raged, “You can shut the fuck up! It’s already pandemonium the way things are right now! You two can stop adding more trouble onto my platter. Give yourselves in my ass. Did I tell you to do this? Take it out!”
Wen Qing and Wen Ning stood still, arms limp. Their silence was the same. Wei WuXian had no strength in his body. His struggles were of no use, and nobody listened to him either. All at once, there seemed to be no strength in his heart either.
He could neither shout nor move, rasping, “Why are you going to Koi Tower? I wasn’t the one who cursed him with Hundred Holes at all…”
Wen Qing, “But they have set their minds that it was you.”
Wei WuXian tried his best to think of ways to deal with this. Suddenly, he thought of something, “Then find the real person who set the curse! Jin ZiXun’s definitely gone to experts of cursing. The most common way to deal with these curses is to hit them back, let the effects rebound back to the one who placed the curse. Even if not all of the power could be rebounded, a large portion can. We can just look for someone who has the same curse marks on them!”
Wen Qing, “There’s no use.”
Wei WuXian, “Why not?”
Wen Qing, “There are so many people—where could we look for them? Set up a checkpoint on every street of every city and make everyone take off their clothes so that we can check?”
Wei WuXian protested, “Why not?”
Wen Qing, “Who’d be willing to set up these checkpoints for you? And for how long do you intend to search? We could perhaps find them after eight or ten years, but would those people be willing to wait?”
Wei WuXian, “But there are no rebounded curse marks on me!”
Wen Qing, “During today’s incident, did they ask you?”
Wei WuXian, “No.”
Wen Qing, “That’s right. They didn’t ask. They straight-up prepared to kill you. Do you understand now? They don’t need any proof. They don’t need you to find the truth either. Whether or not you have curse marks on your body doesn’t matter at all. You’re the YiLing Patriarch, the King of the Demonic Path. You specialize in dark curses, so it wouldn’t even be strange if you didn’t have curse marks on you. On top of that, you didn’t have to do it yourself. You could’ve gotten Wen-dogs, your slaves, to do it for you. It’s you no matter what. You won’t be able to deny it.”
Wei WuXian cursed.
Wen Qing waited quietly for him to finish cursing, “And so, you see? There’s no use. With the way things are, the identity of the one who placed the curse of Hundred Holes is no longer important. What’s important is the fact that the hundreds of people at Qiongqi path and… Jin ZiXuan were indeed killed by A-Ning.”
Wei WuXian, “… But, but…”
But what? He himself didn’t even know what to put after ‘but’. He couldn’t think of a reason to give, an excuse to use.
He spoke, “… But even then, I should be the one going. I was the one who made the corpses kill the people. Why would the knife go instead of the murderer?”
Wen Qing, “Isn’t it better this way?”
Wei WuXian, “Better as in what?!”
Wen Qing’s voice was calm, “Wei Ying, we both know. Wen Ning is a knife, a knife that scares them, but also a knife that they use as an excuse to attack you. If we go, without the knife, they’d no longer have an excuse. This entire thing might finally be over.”
Wei WuXian stared at her in shock. He suddenly let out a meaningless roar.
He finally understood why Jiang Cheng would always express extreme anger toward certain things he did, why he’d always say that he had a hero complex, why he’d always seem as if he’d like to beat him up. Watching others take the responsibility onto their shoulders no matter what, insist on bearing all of the negative consequences, unable to be stopped at all—the feeling was the utmost detestable!
Wei WuXian, “Do you two understand or not? By giving yourselves in at Koi Tower—what would happen to you two, especially Wen Ning? Aren’t you the one who loves this brother of yours the most?”
Wen Qing, “Whatever that happens to him would be what he deserves.”
No. Wen Ning didn’t deserve it at all. He was the one who deserved it.
Wen Qing, “Anyhow, we should’ve been dead since a long time ago. These days have been a strike of luck for us.”
Wen Ning nodded.
He was always like this, nodding at whatever others said, agreeing and never objecting. Wei WuXian had never abhorred his nod and his docility so much.
Wen Qing squatted by the bed. Gazing at his face, she suddenly reached out and flicked her finger against Wei WuXian’s forehead.
She put quite some strength into her flick. Wei WuXian frowned from the pain. Seeing this, Wen Qing seemed to be in a much better mood, “I’ve said what I had to say, explained things, said farewell. Then, good-bye.”
Wei WuXian, “No…”
Wen Qing interrupted him, “I’ve never really said such things to you before. But now that it’s today, there are indeed a few things I should say. I really won’t get a chance to say them after this.”
Wei WuXian whispered, “… Shut up… Let me go…”
Wen Qing, “I’m sorry. And, thank you.”
Wei WuXian was lying for the entire three days.
Wen Qing’s calculations were indeed correct. Three days. Not a moment earlier, not a moment too late. He was able to move right after the three days had passed.
First his fingers, then his limbs, his neck… When the almost frozen blood began to flow inside of him once more, Wei WuXian leaped up from the stairs and rushed outside the Demon-Slaughtering Cave.
The Wen Sect’s people seemed like they hadn’t had any shut-eye within the three days either. In silence, they sat within the large shack, around the tables. Wei WuXian didn’t even spare them a single glance. Sprinting as fast as he could, he dashed down Burial Mound.
After he got down the mountain, he stood amid the bushes, catching his breath. Bent down, he propped his hands against his knees for a long while before he stood up straight again. Yet, looking at the wild grasses that covered many of the mountain paths, he didn’t know where to go.
Burial Mound—he’d just gone down from there.
Lotus Pier—he hadn’t been back in over a year.
Koi Tower? Three days had passed already. If he went now, it was likely that Wen Qing’s corpse and Wen Ning’s ashes were the only things left.
He stood blankly. Suddenly, he felt that the world had no place for him, despite how large it was. He didn’t know what to do either.
Out of the blue, a frightening thought emerged from the depths of his heart. Within the three days, he had denied this thought over and over again, but it kept on appearing, unable to be wiped away.
Wen Qing and Wen Ning left on their own. Perhaps, he was glad, somewhere deep inside of him. Because of this, he wouldn’t have to be caught between what choice to make. They had already made the choice for him and dealt with the difficulty.
Wei WuXian raised his hand and slapped himself on the face. In a low voice, he scolded, “What are you thinking?!”
His cheek burned. He was finally able to suppress the frightening thought. Instead, he thought to himself that no matter what, at least he had to bring back the Wen sibling’s ashes.
And so, in the end, he still ran toward the direction of Koi Tower.
It wasn’t difficult for Wei WuXian to sneak into a place if he wanted to. It was very quiet on Koi Tower. Surprisingly, there weren’t any of the heavy lines of defense that he imagined there to be. Searching everywhere, he didn’t find anything he deemed suspicious.
Like a ghost, he roamed about the palaces within Koi Tower. He hid when there were people; he walked when there weren’t. He didn’t know what he was searching for either, or even how to search for it. However, when the sounds of an infant’s cries came over, his footsteps suddenly froze. Inside of him was a voice that urged his body to walk toward where the sound came from.
The cries were from a large, lightless palace.
Wei WuXian snuck to the main doors without making a noise. He looked through the delicate carvings of the wooden windows.
A black coffin rested within the hall. Before the coffin kneeled two women in white.
The woman on the left had a slightly smaller frame. It was a figure he’d never mistake. Throughout his childhood, he’d been carried by this figure for many, many times.
It was Jiang YanLi.
Kneeling on a futon, Jiang YanLi stared blankly at the coffin so black that it seemed to glow. The infant was inside of her arms, still crying softly.
The woman on the right whispered, “… A-Li, you can stop sitting here. Go take a break.”
Jiang YanLi shook her head. Madam Jin sighed.
It was a woman who had a similar personality to that of her best friend, Madam Yu’s. She was extremely assertive, her voice always high. Yet, the few words that she had just spoken sounded so low and so coarse, making her appear to have aged drastically.
Madam Jin insisted, “I’ll stay here. You shouldn’t sit any longer. You won’t be able to hold up.”
Jiang YanLi spoke softly, “Mother, I’m fine. I’d like to sit for a while longer.”
A moment later, Madam Jin stood up slowly, “You won’t be able to hold up if you continue. I’ll get you something to eat.”
She’d probably been sitting here for a long time as well. Legs numb, her body wavered slightly while she was getting up, but she quickly steadied herself. She turned around. It was indeed those somewhat hardened features.
In Wei WuXian’s memories, Madam Jin had always been vigorous and resolute. She always wore on her face an arrogant expression, surrounded by golden splendor. She maintained her youth quite well and seemed quite young, likely able to pass for twenty. But right now, in front of Wei WuXian was a middle-aged woman clothed in white, her temples frosted. She wore no cosmetics. Over her ashen face was a pair of chapped lips.
When she approached and was about to exit, Wei WuXian immediately darted. With a light dip of his foot, he leaped onto the roof of the hallway just as Madam Jin walked out. She shut the door behind her. With a cold expression, she took in a deep breath and adjusted the positioning of her facial muscles, as if she wanted to put on her usual stately expression again.
Yet, before she even finished drawing the breath, her eyes had reddened. Back then, in front of Jiang YanLi, she never displayed any sign of grief. Just as she stepped out, however, the corners of her lips collapsed at once. Her features crumples, and she began to tremble.
It was the second time that Wei WuXian saw such an unsightly, yet despairing expression on a woman’s face.
He really didn’t want to see such an expression once more.
Unconsciously, Wei WuXian clenched his fists, but his knuckles gave out a crisp crunch. Hearing this, Madam Jin glared, “Who’s there?!”
Just as she looked up, she saw Wei WuXian, hiding behind one of the rooftop decorations. Madam Jin had good sight. She saw the features submerged in the darkness, and her face twisted at once. She yelled in a shrill voice, “Everyone! Come, everyone! Wei Ying—he’s here! He crept into Koi Tower!”
Wei WuXian leaped down the roof. Suddenly, he heard a series of hastened footsteps. Somebody hurried out of the palace. He could only make a run for it.
At this point in time, he didn’t dare look at Jiang YanLi, not even a single expression, and not even a single word!
After he fled Koi Tower and left Lanling City, Wei WuXian lost his direction yet again. He roamed around in a blur, his mind clouded. He didn’t make a single stop. He didn’t know how many cities he’d passed when he suddenly saw a group of people crowd around a city gate. They were holding a heated, passionate discussion.
Wei WuXian intended on ignoring these people, but as he walked past, he happened to have heard the words ‘Ghost General’. He immediately stopped in his track, focused on the conversation.
“The Ghost General really is fierce… Said he was there to give himself in, but then he suddenly flipped out. He slaughtered again, this time in Koi Tower.”
“Good thing I didn’t go that day!”
“He was a dog trained by Wei WuXian. No wonder he bites everyone in his path.”
“Wei Ying, though, he shouldn’t have made him if he can’t control it. Created a mad dog and he didn’t leash it. Sooner or later, he’s gonna be faced with a qi deviation. With the way things have been, I doubt the day is that far away.”
Wei WuXian listened quietly. The muscles on his face and fingers twitched slightly.
“How unfortunate for the LanlingJin Sect.”
“Things were even worse for the GusuLan Sect! Over half of the thirty-or-so people were from their sect. They were clearly only there to help calm things down.”
“Good thing the Ghost General was finally burned. Or else, just thinking about how such a thing was roaming around outside, flipping out now and then, would be enough for me to have nightmares.”
Someone spat, “That’s the end all Wen-dogs should meet!”
“The Ghost-General was almost burned to crumbs. This time, Wei WuXian should know what’s up, huh? I heard many of the sect leaders going to the pledge conference have spoken already. How terrific!”
The longer Wei WuXian listened, the colder his expression grew.
He should’ve understood long ago. No matter what he did, not a single good word would come out of these people’s mouths. When he won, others feared; when he lost, others rejoiced.
He was cultivating the crooked path either way, so what exactly did the years of persistence mean? What exactly were they for?”
However, the colder his eyes were, the brighter the raging fire within his heart burned.
One of the group gloated, as though he had made a great contribution to this, “Yeah, terrific! It’ll be fine if only he obediently huddles inside of that damn mountain from now on. If he dares show his face outside again? Ha, as soon as he’s out, I’ll…”
“You’ll do what?”
The people, in the middle of their heated conversation, paused in unison. They all turned around.
The saw a pale, black-robed youth standing behind them, two dark circles below his eyes, his voice cold, “If he dares come out, you’ll do what?”
Those with sharp eyes saw the flute with the bright red tassel hanging by the youth’s waist. They immediately jolted, exclaiming, “Chenqing, it’s Chenqing!”
The YiLing Patriarch, Wei WuXian, had really come out!
Within the instant, a large circle had formed with Wei WuXian in the center. The people fled everywhere. As Wei WuXian let out a shrill whistle, the people suddenly felt their bodies sink. They all collapsed onto the ground. As they shakily turned around, they realized that everyone, including themselves, had on their backs various dark, bloody spirits!
Among the scattered, disabled crowd, Wei WuXian walked patiently, talking as he walked, “Huh, what’s wrong? Weren’t you all quite the cultivators when you were talking about me behind my back? Why is it that, now that you’re in front of me, you can do nothing but lie on the ground?”
He walked beside the person whose words were the harshest and ground his foot against the person’s face, laughing, “Talk. Why aren’t you talking anymore? Mr. Hero, just what are you going to do to me?!”
The person’s nasal bones had broken from the force, bleeding and screaming uncontrollably. Many cultivators were watching from on top of the city gate. They wanted to help, but they didn’t dare approach the scene.
One of them shouted from afar, “Wei… Wei Ying! If you’re really that strong, why don’t you go find those sect leaders participating in the pledge conference? What could you prove by picking on us low-level cultivators with no power to fight back?”
Wei WuXian let out another short whistle. The cultivator who shouted felt as a hand suddenly tugged him down. He fell off the city gate, breaking both of his legs, and began to scream.
Amid the wails, Wei WuXian’s expression didn’t change at all, “Low-level cultivators? Do I have to tolerate you, just because you’re low-level cultivators? If you dared say those things, you had to dare shoulder the consequences. If you knew that you were insignificant pieces of scum as filthy as ants, how come you didn’t know to think before you speak?!”
Everyone was as pale as ash, making not a single noise. A moment later, when Wei WuXian didn’t hear any more chatter, he continued in satisfaction, “Yes, that’s the spirit.”
Just as he finished, he kicked again, knocking out half a mouthful of teeth from the person who was spreading the made-up tales the most!
Blood splattered all over the ground. Everyone shuddered as they watched, while the person had already passed out from the pain. Wei WuXian looked down and pressed his foot against the ground, leaving behind a few bloody footsteps.
He thought for a while before speaking up again, his voice emotionless, “But, you scums were right about one thing. There’s not really much meaning in wasting time with you people. You wanted me to find those bigger sects? Fine. I’ll be on my way right now, to clear up a few things with them.”
He looked up and saw the large announcement stuck over the city gate. The crowd had been chatting around this announcement.
At the top of the announcement was the words ‘Pledge Conference’. The contents told that the four leading sects—the LanlingJin Sect, the QingheNie Sect, the YunmengJiang Sect, and the GusuLan Sect—were going to scatter the ashes of the Wen Sect’s remnants atop the ruins of the QishanWen Sect’s abandoned residence—the Nightless City. At the same time, they’d take the pledge that they’d be forever opposing the YiLing Patriarch, who had occupied Burial Mound.
A pledge conference at the Nightless City?