Chapter 78: Nightfall—Part Three
Translated by K of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
These people had thought that they’d definitely die a terrible death at the hands of the YiLing Patriarch before they became walking corpses under his control. All of them seemed to be scared out of their wits. However, Wei WuXian wasn’t interested in bothering with them any longer. After he finished reading the announcement, he left the group on the ground and walked away, hands behind his back.
He didn’t retrieve all those dark spirits. On the ground, those who groaned continued to groan, those who writhed continued to writhe. None of them were able to get up.
Sometime later, they suddenly saw a blue sword glare sweep by. They immediately felt their backs lighten up. Someone exclaimed, “I can move!”
A few of them got up and saw the sword glare return into a person’s sheath.
It was a handsome man of very young age. Wearing white robes and a forehead ribbon, he bore a solemn expression on his face, in which there seemed to be a suppressed strand of worry. He came at a high speed, but he didn’t seem to be hurrying at all. Not even the corners of his robes wavered.
Holding back pain, the cultivator who had broken his legs spoke, “Han-… HanGuang-Jun!”
Lan WangJi walked beside him and got down, pressing on his legs to check his wounds. His injuries weren’t too severe. He got up, but before he could speak, the cultivator continued, “HanGuang-Jun, you’ve come too late. Wei WuXian just went!”
Quite a few people knew that in the past few days, HanGuang-Jun of the GusuLan Sect had been searching everywhere for the whereabouts of Wei WuXian, probably wanting to settle things with him and have him pay for the dozens of lives that the GusuLan Sect lost. Someone hurriedly shouted, “Yeah, he’s been gone for less than an hour!”
Lan WangJi, “What did he do? Where is he going?”
The people immediately started complaining, “He fought with us without a care for anything and almost killed all of us right there on the spot!”
Lan WangJi’s fingers, hidden beneath the snow-white sleeves, twitched slightly, as if he wanted to clench them into fists. However, he quickly loosened them.
The cultivator quickly added, “But he said already that he was going to the Nightless City to account for things with the Four Great Sects!”
After the QishanWen Sect was destroyed, the main palaces of Nightless City had become a magnificent, yet empty pile of ruins.
Before the tallest place in the entire Nightless City, the Palace of Sun and Flames, was a wide plaza. Three tall flags stood skyward at the front of the plaza, but now, two of them had been broken. The last one left was a flag of the sun and flames motif, although tattered and painted with blood.
That night, square arrays of sects both large and small filled the entire plaza. The crest-embroidered flag of every sect fluttered in the night wind. In front of the broken flag poles was a temporary altar. Standing before their array, each sect leader was presented with a cup of wine by Jin GuangYao. After they received the wine, the sect leaders raised their cups high up and poured them onto the ground.
After the the wine had seeped into the dirt, Jin GuangShan stated, “No matter the sect, no matter the surname—this cup of wine is to the soldiers who have died.”
Nie MingJue, “May their souls live on.”
Lan XiChen, “Rest in peace.”
Jiang Cheng, however, still had on a darkened expression. He didn’t say anything even after he poured the wine.
Afterward, Jin GuangYao walked out from the LanlingJin Sect’s array and presented with both hands a square box made of black iron. Jin GuangShan took the box with one hand and raised it high in the air, shouting, “Here lies the ashes of the Wen Sect’s remnants!”
After he spoke, he sent forth his spiritual energy and shattered the box with his bare hand. The iron box broke into pieces, and white dust drifted alongside the cold wind.
A scatter of the ashes!
A series of cheers exploded through the crowd. Jin GuangShan raised his hands, signaling for the people to be quiet and listen to him talk. When the cheers slowly died down, he continued, raising his voice, “Tonight, the ones whose ashes had been scattered were the two leaders of the Wen Sect’s remnants. And tomorrow! It will be the rest of the Wen-dogs and—the YiLing Patriarch, Wei Ying!”
Suddenly, a low laugh interrupted his grand speech. The laugh was too untimely, sounding both stark and jarring. In unison, the crowd turned to look at where the sound came from.
The Palace of Sun and Flames was a rather magnificent palace. A total of twelve ridges made up its roof, and at the end of each ridge were eight heavenly beasts. Yet, right now, the people realized that on one of those ridges, there were nine. The laugh from before came from over there!
The extra beast shifted slightly. The next moment, a boot and a corner of black clothes dangled down from the roof, swaying softly.
Everyone placed their hand onto their sword hilt. Jiang Cheng’s pupils shrunk. Blue veins lined the back of his hand.
Jin GuangShan was overcome with both shock and hatred, “Wei Ying! How dare you show yourself here!”
The person opened their mouth to speak. What came out was indeed Wei WuXian’s voice, but he spoke in a strange tone, “Why should I dare not show myself here? Do you people here even add up to three thousand? Don’t forget that back in the Sunshot Campaign, let alone three thousand, I’ve fought against five thousand on my own before. And by appearing here, haven’t I granted your wish? No need for you to come all the way to my home tomorrow to scatter my ashes.”
A few of the QingheNie Sect’s disciples died in the hands of Wen Ning as well. Nie MingJue spoke coldly, “What arrogance.”
Wei WuXian, “Haven’t I always been arrogant? Sect Leader Jin, how does it feel, having slapped yourself in the face? Who was the one that said he’d let the matter go if the Wen siblings went to Koi Tower and gave themselves up? And who was the one that just said he’d scatter my ashes and the ashes of the rest of the Wen Sect’s remnants tomorrow?”
Jin GuangShan, “Let’s consider things as they stand! At Qiongqi Path, you slaughtered over a hundred of the LanlingJin Sect’s disciples—this is one thing. You made Wen Ning kill at Koi Tower—this is another…”
Wei WuXian, “Then let me ask you, Sect Leader Jin, at Qiongqi Path, who was the one being ambushed? And who was the one to kill? Who was the main schemer? And who was the one being schemed against? In the end, just who was the one that came to provoke me first?”
Hidden among such a large crowd, the disciples inside of the arrays all felt rather safe. Bravening up, they shouted, “Even if Jin ZiXun was the one who schemed to ambush you first, you shouldn’t have been so heartless and kill so many lives!”
“Oh,” Wei WuXian helped him analyze, “If he wanted to to kill me, he didn’t have to think about whether it was a fatal blow or not, and if I died, it’d be my own bad luck. If I wanted to protect myself, however, I had to think about this and that not to harm, unable to take even a single strand of hair away from him? In conclusion, you all could pull a siege on me, but I’m not allowed to fight back, am I right?”
Sect Leader Yao raised his voice, “Fight back? Those over a hundred people and the thirty on Koi Tower were all innocent. If you were fighting back, why did you have to involve them?”
Wei WuXian, “The fifty cultivators on Burial Mound are also innocent, so why do you have to involve them?”
Someone else spat, “Just what great kindness has the Wen-dogs given you? To have you be on those scum’s side like this.”
“In my opinion, there isn’t any great kindness at all. It’s just that he thinks he’s a hero fighting against the entire world. He thinks he’s doing an act of justice, that he himself is quite an impressive person, risking everyone’s condemnation!”
Hearing this, Wei WuXian became silent.
The crowd below took his silence as withdrawal, “When it comes down to it, you were the first to place such a dark curse on Jin ZiXun!”
Wei WuXian, “May I ask you, just what evidence do you have to prove that I was the one who placed the curse?”
The one who asked the question was at a loss for words. He spoke, after a moment, “Then do you have any evidence to prove that you weren’t the one who placed the curse?”
Wei WuXian smiled, “Then let me ask you again—why couldn’t it have been you? You don’t have any evidence to prove that you weren’t the one who placed the curse either, do you?”
The person was both shocked and enraged, “Me? How could I be the same as you? Don’t you mix the black and the white! You’re the most suspicious. Do you think we don’t know? You and Jin ZiXun have held enmity toward each other ever since a year ago!”
Wei WuXian’s voice dripped in ice, “Just who is the one mixing the black and the white? That’s right. If I wanted to kill him, I would’ve done it a year ago. I didn’t have to keep him until now. Or else, I’d forget such a person in no more than three days, much less a year.”
Sect Leader Yao was shocked, “… Wei WuXian, Wei WuXian, today I’ve finally come to see. I’ve really never seen a villain as unreasonable as you are… Even after you killed the people, you have to shame them with words. Don’t you hold any sympathy, any guilt?”
The crowd flung curses at him, but Wei WuXian accepted all of them.
Anger was the only thing that could suppress the other feelings within his heart.
One of the cultivators who stood in the front rows of one of the arrays commented bitterly, “Wei Ying, you disappoint me so much. There used to be a time when I admired you and said that at least you were someone who founded your own sect. Now that I think about it, it’s almost repulsive. From this moment on, I’ll forever stand on the opposite side of you!”
Hearing this, Wei WuXian first paused, but soon exploded with laughter, “Hahahaha…”
He laughed so hard that he almost couldn’t breathe, “You admired me? You said you admired me, but why haven’t I ever seen you when you admired me? And as soon as I’m loathed by everyone, you jump out and wave your little flag?”
Tears of laughter seeped from the corners of Wei WuXian’s eyes, “Your admiration as a bit too cheap, isn’t it? You said that you’ll forever stand on the opposite side of me. Very well. Does the fact that you’re standing on the opposite side of me affect me at all? Both your admiration and your hatred are so, so insignificant. How could you be so shameless as to flaunt them in front of others?”
Before he could finish, he suddenly felt something at his throat. A dull ache came from his chest. He looked down to see a fletched arrow in the center of his chest. The head of the arrow was buried between two of his ribs.
He gazed toward the direction in which the arrow came from. The one who shot the arrow was a young cultivator with delicate features. Standing before a small sect’s array, he was still maintaining the pose, his bowstring still vibrating.
Wei WuXian could tell the arrow tip was originally aiming for his heart, his vital region. Yet, because the archer wasn’t skilled, the force of the arrow tip dwindled by midair to have missed the heart and shot into the ribcage.
Everyone around the person who shot the arrow had eyes wide open, staring with shock and even fear at the disciple who had done such a thing. Wei WuXian looked up. Darkness veiled his face. He pulled out the arrow and tossed it back hard. With a wail, the young cultivator who snuck an attack at him was hit right in the chest with the arrow he tossed back!
A boy next to him threw himself on top of him, “Brother! Brother!”
The sect’s array was immediately thrown into chaos. The sect leader pointed at Wei WuXian with one shaking finger, “You… You… You are so cruel!”
With his right hand, Wei WuXian unhurriedly pressed the wound at his chest, temporarily ceasing the blood flow. His voice was indifferent, “What does cruel mean? If he dared shoot the arrow at me when I was off guard, he should’ve known what would be facing him if he failed. They call me the cultivator of the crooked path, anyways, so you can’t possibly count on me to be generous and not bother with him, can you?”
Jin GuangShan ordered, “Set up the battle arrays, set up the battle arrays! We won’t let him leave here alive no matter what!”
With the order, the stalemate was finally broken. Carrying swords and arrows, many disciples rushed toward the ceiling of the palace.
They finally attacked first!
With a bitter smile, Wei WuXian took up Chenqing from beside his waist and placed it at his lips. With the flute’s sharp howl, pale hands broke through the dirt of the Nightless City plaza, one after another!
Corpse after corpse toppled the white bricks laid on the ground, crawling out from the depths of the soil. Some of those who just mounted their swords and left the ground were immediately dragged back down by them. Wei WuXian stood atop the ridge of the Palace of Sun and Flames, eyes glowing a cold light amid the notes of the flute and the night sky. Looking down, the uniforms of the different sects seemed to be a boiling concoction of multicolored water, tossing and turning, parting at times and joining at others. Apart from the YunmengJiang Sect, all sects were jumbled. Each sect leader hurried to protect their own disciples, having no spare time to attack Wei WuXian.
Suddenly, the limpid notes of a zither interrupted Chenqing.
Wei WuXian put down Chenqing and turned around to see a person sitting on another of the ridges, guqin laid across his lap. His snow-white robes seemed to burn the eye amid the dark of the night.
Wei WuXian spoke in a cold voice, “Lan Zhan.” After he greeted him, he again placed his flute to his lips, “You should’ve known since long ago—Sound of Lucidity is useless to me!”
Lan WangJi flipped the guqin onto his back. Instead, he pulled out Bichen and attacked straight at Chenqing, as if he wanted to sever the flute playing such wrongful notes.
Wei WuXian spun around to dodge the attack and laughed, “Fine, fine. I knew since the start that we’d have to fight a real fight like this one sooner or later. You’ve always found me disagreeable no matter what. Come on!”
Hearing this, Lan WangJi’s movements paused, “Wei Ying!”
Although he shouted the words, any sane person would be able to tell that Lan WangJi’s voice was clearly shaking. However, right now, Wei WuXian had already lost his judgement. He was already half-mad, half-unconscious. All evil was being augmented by him. He felt that everyone loathed him and he loathed everyone as well. He wouldn’t be scared no matter who came at him. It wouldn’t matter no matter who came at him. It was all the same anyway.
Suddenly, amid the battle noises, Wei WuXian heard a faint voice.
The voice was shouting, “A-Xian!”
Like a bucket of ice-cold water, the voice doused the vile flames raging within his heart.
When did she come to the pledge conference?!
Wei WuXian was immediately half dead with fright. He couldn’t care about the fight with Lan WangJi any longer and put down Chenqing, “Shijie?!”
Jiang Cheng heard the voice as well. In an instant, his face had turned white, “Sis? Sis! Where are you? Where are you?”
Wei WuXian jumped down the ridge of the palace, shouting with just as much force as Jiang Cheng, “Shijie? Shijie? Where are you? I can’t see you!”
He couldn’t care less about the swords and arrows that came at him. With his bare hands, he fought his way through the frenzied crowd as he walked as fast as possible. Suddenly, he saw Jiang YanLi’s white figure sunken within the people.Wei WuXian went forth and tried to push away those who blocked his path, but it was difficult for him to move. There was still a large distance between them, formed by countless people. At the moment, it was impossible for Wei WuXian to rush over, and it was the same for Jiang Cheng. At this point, both of the two realized that behind Jiang YanLi’s back, a fierce corpse had stood shakily up.
The corpse’s body was already half-rotten. It dragged a rusting sword in his hand as it slowly approached Jiang YanLi.
Watching the scene of terror unfold, Wei WuXian’s voice was harsh, “Get lost! Get lost right now! Don’t touch her!”
Jiang Cheng roared as well, “Make it go away!”
He tossed out Sandu. Purple light flew toward the corpse, but in midway, the glare was obstructed by other cultivators’ swords, deviating from its original direction. The more Wei WuXian panicked, the less control he had. The corpse ignored his command and instead lifted the sword in its hand, slashing it down at Jiang YanLi!
Wei WuXian had lost it, dashing as he shouted, “Stop it, stop it, right now, stop it!”
Everyone was busy with dealing with the corpses around them. Nobody had the spare time to see if another’s life was in danger. The sword in the corpse’s hand swung down and slashed open Jiang YanLi’s back!
Jiang YanLi fell to the ground.
Standing behind her back, the corpse raised its sword again. Suddenly, a sword glare sliced off half of its body!
Lan WangJi landed amid the plaza, catching Bichen which he summoned back. Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng could finally hurry over. They couldn’t even manage to thank Lan WangJi. Jiang Cheng first picked up Jiang YanLi, while Lan WangJi stopped Wei WuXian.
Seizing his collar, he dragged Wei WuXian in front of him, his voice hard, “Wei Ying! Stop the corpses!”
At the moment, Wei WuXian couldn’t care about anything else. Reflected in his eyes wasn’t Lan WangJi’s face, much less the veins of blood within Lan WangJi’s eyes or the redness that surrounded his eyes. He only wanted to see if Jiang YanLi was fine. With red eyes, he pushed him away and rushed to the ground. With the push, Lan WangJi staggered a bit, and gazed at him after he steadied himself. Before he could do anything else, he suddenly heard another scream of help in the distance. He suppressed whatever was in his eyes and went to provide assistance.
Jiang YanLi’s back was dyed in blood. Her eyes were closed, but fortunately she was still breathing. Trembling, Jiang Cheng took back the hand that he used to feel for her pulse, letting out a breath of relief. He threw a sudden punch toward Wei WuXian’s face, shouting, “What happened?! Didn’t you say you could control it?! Didn’t you say it’d be fine?!”
Wei WuXian sat collapsed on the ground, his face blank, “… I don’t know either.” In despair, he continued, “… I can’t control it, I just can’t control it…”
Suddenly, Jiang YanLi moved. Holding her tightly, Jiang Cheng hurried, however incoherent, “Sister! It’s fine! It’s fine, how are you feeling? It’s not that bad, just a single gash, not that bad. I’ll take you down right now…”
As he spoke, he was about to pick up Jiang YanLi when she spoke up, “… A-Xian.”
Wei WuXian felt shivers go down his spine, “Shijie, I… I’m here.”
Slowly, Jiang YanLi opened her dark eyes. Wei WuXian felt fear rumble within him.
Jiang YanLi managed, “… A-Xian. Before… why did you run away so fast… I didn’t even get the chance to look at you, or say something to you…”
Hearing this, Wei WuXian’s heart beat fast.
He still didn’t dare look at Jiang YanLi’s face. Right then, the face was the same as Jin ZiXuan’s back then, covered in dust and blood. He was even more scared to hear the words she was about to say.
Jiang YanLi, “I’m… I’m here to tell you…”
To tell him what?
That it’s fine?
That I don’t hate you?
That everything is fine?
That I don’t blame you for have killed Jin ZiXuan?
It was impossible.
But she couldn’t say anything that was the opposite either. And so, she didn’t know what else she could say to Wei Wei WuXian, under such circumstances. It was just that she felt like she had to see this brother of hers once more.
Jiang YanLi sighed, “A-Xian, you… you should stop first. Don’t, don’t…”
Wei WuXian hurried, “Yes, I’ll stop.”
He took up Chenqing, placed it by his lips, and began to play. He only managed to steady his mind with great effort. This time, the corpses finally stopped ignoring his commands. One after another, strange gurgles echoed in their throats as if they were complaining. Slowly, they bent down.
Lan WangJi paused slightly, looking over from afar. Immediately after, he continued to attack, helping those who were still in the fight, whether they be from his own sect or not.
Suddenly, Jiang YanLi’s eyes opened wide. Her hands conjured up an explosive current of strength from nowhere and pushed Wei WuXian hard!
Wei WuXian was pushed onto the ground again by the force. The next time he looked up, he saw the gleaming blade of a sword pierce through her throat.
The boy holding the sword was the young cultivator who cried over the disciple who had shot the arrow. He was still crying, eyes covered in tears, “You thief! This is for my brother!”
Sitting on the dirty ground, Wei WuXian stared with disbelief at Jiang YanLi, whose head had already dipped, blood trickling ceaselessly from her neck.
He was still waiting for her to speak, to to give him his final judgement.
Jiang Cheng was at a loss as well, arms still wrapped around his sister’s body. He hadn’t completely realized what happened yet.
A moment later, finally, Wei WuXian let out a bitter scream.
Lan WangJi finished his attack before he spun around.
The boy finally realized that he killed the wrong person. He pulled out the sword, along with a series of bloody spurts. With fright, he staggered back, mumbling, “… I-It wasn’t me, it wasn’t… I was going to kill Wei WuXian, I was going to avenge my brother… She was the one who threw herself over on her own!”
Wei WuXian shot toward him and clenched his neck. Sect Leader Yao waved his sword, “Demon, let him go!”
Lan WangJi couldn’t care about appearance or mannerisms any longer.
One after another, he pushed those who blocked his path to the side, sprinting toward Wei WuXian. But before he was even halfway there, under everyone’s eyes, Wei WuXian snapped the boy’s neck with his bare hands.
A white-haired sect leader raged, “You! Back then… you caused the deaths of Jiang FengMian and his wife, and now you caused the death of your shijie. You suffered from your own actions, and yet you dared vent your anger on another! Instead of turning around, you took yet another life. Wei WuXian, your crimes—shall never be forgiven!”
Yet, no matter the criticism, the blame, Wei WuXian could no longer hear any of them. As if governed by another soul, he reached out and took two objects from within his sleeves. Before everyone’s eyes, he put them together. One half on top and the other below, the two objects snapped into one, letting out a resonating clang.
Wei WuXian placed it on his palm and raised it high into the air.
It was the Stygian Tiger Seal!