Chapter 80: Loyalty—Part Two
Translated by K of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
When the cave that was vibrating with noise had finally calmed down, Lan WangJi turned to Wei WuXian, “You can continue.”
Flames of rage surged within Su She’s eyes, but his lips were sealed tightly shut. His throat felt dry as well. Compared to the anxiousness of being unable to open his mouth and attack Wei WuXian, what bothered him more was the shame of having been subdued by Lan WangJi. He repeatedly scratched his throat with his finger, trying to lift the spell, but it was to no use. He could only look across at Lan QiRen. However, with a cold expression on his face, Lan QiRen didn’t move at all. Originally, Lan QiRen was entirely able to lift the spell, and if a Lan Sect senior was the one who lifted the spell, out of respect, Lan WangJi definitely wouldn’t put the spell on him again. Unfortunately, many conflicts had passed between the MolingSu Sect and the GusuLan Sect, and thus as of the moment Lan QiRen didn’t seem like he was going to lift the spell for him at all.
The people finally realized what was going on. It seemed that whenever someone tried to argue with Wei WuXian, Lan WangJi would seal their lips. The crowd became as quiet as winter cicadas. That being said, at such times, there would always be warriors unscared of death who’d speak up, mocking, “Wei WuXian, you really are the YiLing Patriarch, aren’t you? How assertive of you. So you’re trying to stop people from saying anything?”
Wei WuXian, “How strange.”
Lan SiZhui, “Senior Wei, what is strange?”
Wei WuXian, “Sect Leader Su, he’s been acting strange ever since quite a while ago. Back when the corpses surrounded us, he encouraged those who lost their spiritual powers to not seek shelter and instead hurry to their deaths, and now he’s stopping me from asking him anything. On top of those, he’s been trying to irritate me, as if he’s scared that you’ll live a moment longer. What does this mean? Is this the way to be a good ally?”
Now that Wei WuXian mentioned it, many of the people began to grow suspicious—Sect Leader Su really did seem to be a bit too talkative today. But since nobody else said anything, they didn’t say anything either, and everyone chose silence out of caution. The other portion of the people began to think about the things that they did before and when they came up the mountain. Wei WuXian looked at the disciples of the MolingSu Sect, standing quite far from the GusuLan Sect’s disciples. Even more, the latter wasn’t even willing to spare the former a single glance. The more he looked, the odder he found it to be.
He whispered to Lan WangJi, “HanGuang-Jun, let me ask you—both the GusuLan Sect and the MolingSu Sect cultivate through music, and both Gusu and Moling are in the Jiangnan region, not far away from each other. Generally speaking, shouldn’t you be friendly with each other? Why do I feel like the sects don’t have a good relationship?”
Lan SiZhui and Lan JingYi wriggled their way over. As Lan JingYi heard this, he raised his voice, “Of course they do not have a good relationship!”
Lan WangJi, “The MolingSu Sect was a branch of the GusuLan Sect.”
Wei WuXian, “What?”
Lan SiZhui covered Lan JingYi’s mouth, whispering, “Senior Wei, you might not know this. The MolingSu Sect was the sect that a foreign disciple built after he broke away from the GusuLan Sect. But because of where he studied, his sect’s techniques tend to be similar to the those of the GusuLan Sect’s. They cultivate through music as well. Even the sect leader Su She’s first-class spiritual weapon is a seven-stringed guqin like HanGuang-Jun’s.”
Quite speechless, Wei WuXian turned around to look at the dark-faced Su She. Lan JingYi struggled his way out of Lan SiZhui and grumbled, “Not only that, it gets even more peculiar! Sect Leader Su… Fine, I know I have to be quiet! Sect Leader Su not only learns everything, but he is also quite annoyed by others saying that he is imitating our HanGuang-Jun—he gets angry at once. How could such a person exist in this world?!”
Hearing him become louder and louder, Lan SiZhui could only interrupt, “JingYi!”
Yet, Su She had already heard everything with clarity. With a darkening face and two fires as his eyes, he spat out a mouthful of blood and finally lifted the Silence spell by force. But as soon as he opened his mouth, his voice was so rasp that it sounded as if he was ten years older, “The GusuLan Sect, famed for righteousness, full of talents, top of the entire world of cultivation! So this is how you teach your disciples!”
Sect Leader OuYang, “Sect Leader Su, in front of such a great enemy, let’s not fall out with those who are our own.”
Su She laughed coldly, “Those who are our own? Look at the GusuLan Sect. Every one of them has hit it off with Wei WuXian. Do they really count as our own?”
With this, the GusuLan Sect was immediately displeased. Lan QiRen glanced at him, but didn’t say anything. One of the older, higher-level guest cultivators seemed to have been angered, “Su MinShan, even if you are not of the GusuLan Sect anymore, you should still watch your words!”
A disciple immediately stepped out from the MolingSu Sect, “Our sect leader has long since broken off from the GusuLan Sect. What right do you have to talk to him this way?”
Lan JingYi had been filled with complaints about the MolingSu Sect since a long time ago, speaking loudly, “The fact that your sect leader can be in such a position right now was because of the GusuLan Sect’s teachings back then anyways. So we cannot say anything, even as he bites the hand that fed him?”
Within the Demon-Slaughtering Cave, the two groups of people began to glare at each other, mocking at each other. Over on the MolingSu Sect’s side, someone else shouted, “There are so many disciples in the GusuLan Sect; don’t tell me that any one of them can establish their own sect? That’s a bit too contemptuous, isn’t it?”
Immediately, someone from the GusuLan Sect’s side returned the attack, “Who is the one being contemptuous here? I wonder which sect played their exorcism melodies all wrong, and still does not realize it!”
As soon as this was spoken, Wei WuXian felt everything clear up! He spoke, “It’s not the food or the environment!”
Everyone paused in surprise. Wei WuXian continued, “You all forgot that after you came up the mountain, there was one other thing that you all did.”
Lan SiZhui, “What is it?”
Wei WuXian, “Killing the corpses.”
OuYang ZiZhen exclaimed, “Oh, maybe it’s the same as back in Yi City, where there was something like a poisonous powder in the corpses’ mouths?! Dad, when you were killing those corpses, did strangely-colored powder come out of the corpses’ bodies?”
Sect Leader OuYang, “There wasn’t any powder, there wasn’t!”
OuYang ZiZhen refused to give up, “Then… Then what about liquids?”
Jiang Cheng’s voice was cold, “Enough. If strange powder or liquids were sent out the corpses’ bodies after they were killed, we wouldn’t be so weak as to not have noticed anything odd.”
OuYang ZiZhen, who thought that he uncovered the mystery, blushed and scratched his head. Sect Leader OuYang finally pulled his over-excited son down to sit properly. Wei WuXian, “It is indeed related to killing corpses. However, the problem isn’t the corpses, but the people who were killing the corpses.”
He turned to Lan QiRen, “Senior Lan, I’d like to ask you a question.”
Lan QiRen glanced at Lan WangJi, his voice indifferent, “If you had a question, why would you ask me instead of asking him?”
Lan QiRen was pedantic, but he wasn’t oblivious. He realized that something was strange as well, which was why he listened for so long despite his temper. His face, though, was still quite dark. But Wei WuXian was familiar with his temper ever since he was young, and after that, he’d seen the tempers of countless more people. He had long since stopped caring. Thinking that this was the uncle who brought Lan WangJi up all on his own, he was even more certain that there was nothing to fret over.
Touching his chin, he grinned, “Well I was worried that you’d get mad if I asked him too many things in front of you, wasn’t I? But since you’ve told me to ask him already, I’ll go ahead and ask. Lan Zhan?”
Lan WangJi, “Mn.”
Wei WuXian, “The MolingSu Sect was a sect that branched off from the GusuLan Sect, right?”
Lan WangJi, “Mn.”
Wei WuXian, “Although it branched off, the MolingSu Sect’s techniques still used the GusuLan Sect’s techniques ‘as reference’, right?”
Lan WangJi, “Yes.”
Wei WuXian, “One of the GusuLan Sect’s techniques, the Sound of Vanquish, has the effect of exorcising evil. Amongst them, the seven-stringed guqin was the most powerful, and so there is the greatest number of people who cultivate through the guqin. The MolingSu Sect did the same, and the guqin is the most common in their sect as well, is that correct?”
Lan WangJi, “That is correct.”
Wei WuXian, “Although the MolingSu Sect’s leader left the GusuLan Sect with knowledge of its techniques when he founded his own sect, is own guqin skills weren’t anything special, and the disciples he taught often make many mistakes too, right?”
Lan WangJi answered with honesty, “Yes.”
Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi went on back and forth, speaking as though nobody was around. More and more people realized that they weren’t only mocking Su She, but rather taking something apart. Thus, they began to listen more carefully.
Next, Wei WuXian slowed down, “… And that means, even when a section of the battle melodies that the MolingSu Sect played when killing corpses on Burial Mound was wrong, the GusuLan Sect wouldn’t find it unusual, and only think that they made a mistake because of their inferior techniques and remembered the sheet music wrong, not taking the time to notice whether it was an accidental mistake or a mistake on purpose. Is this the case?”
Hearing the last question, Su She’s pupils shrunk. The hand he placed on the hilt of his sword was suddenly lined with veins. The blade of the sword was already half-an-inch unsheathed. On the other hand, Lan WangJi lifted his eyes at the same time. Both Wei WuXian and he saw the sense of understanding in each other’s eyes.
He stated one word at a time, “This is the case.”
Su She unsheathed his sword with a clang. Wei WuXian moved the blade of the sword to the side with two fingers and smiled, “What are you doing? Don’t forget. You’ve lost all your spiritual powers. Would threatening me like this do anything?”
Sword raised in his hand, Su She could neither attack nor put it down. He clenched his teeth, “Aiming at me for so long—just what are you trying to imply?”
Wei WuXian, “Was I understating things so much that you thought I was implying? Then I’ll be a bit clearer. Everyone here lost their spiritual powers because they did one thing in common. What was it? Killing the corpses. When killing the corpses, Sect Leader Su of the MolingSu Sect came up along with you all. He pretended to be using his guqin to fend of the corpses, but without anyone noticing, he had already changed a section of the battle songs to be another melody, one that’d cause people to lose their spiritual powers temporarily. You fought in the bloodbath, but while he fought with you on the surface, behind his back, he…”
Su She, “This is slander!”
Wei WuXian, “Many of the GusuLan Sect’s guqin cultivators are here, right? Back when you were coming up the mountain, there were mistakes in the battle melodies that the MolingSu Sect played, weren’t there?”
The GusuLan Sect’s guqin cultivators had the greatest right to answer such a question. They answered in unison, “Yes, there were!”
Wei WuXian continued, “Sect Leader Su, you knew that many of the GusuLan Sect’s people were filled with scorn toward you and the MolingSu Sect, and so you used this scorn to your advantage. Dark songs can be used to harm others, but they have requirements as to the spiritual powers of the person who plays them. If you were alone, of course you wouldn’t be able to perform it to the degree that almost a thousand people lost their spiritual powers. And thus, you brought with you all of the guqin cultivators of the MolingSu Sect so that they could play with you! Amongst the sects present here, only the GusuLan Sect would be able to notice what was wrong, but they held scorn towards you. Even if they noticed that you played the battle songs wrong, they’d only think you were so unskilled that you even taught your disciples wrong!”
Nie HuaiSang’s mouth hung gaping, “Is there really such a dark song in the world that could make whoever heard it lose their spiritual powers?”
Wei WuXian, “Why not? The sounds of the guqin can fend off evil, so why can’t they summon evil instead? There’s a song collection from Dongying called Collection of Turmoil. The songs collected inside are all dark songs around the region of Dongying. There were even songs that could be used to kill someone, so why couldn’t there be a song that makes someone temporarily lose their spiritual powers? Senior Lan QiRen is right here with us. Ask him—is there such a book inside of the Room of Forbidden Books in the GusuLan Sect’s Library Pavilion?”
Collecting himself, Su She sneered, “Even if such a song exists, back when I was studying in Gusu, I wasn’t at all able to go into the Room of Forbidden Books, and so I couldn’t have seen it. Afterward, I haven’t walked a single step inside the Cloud Recesses either, and I’ve never even heard of such a book! You, on the other hand, are so familiar with Collection of Turmoil, and you’ve been abnormally close with HanGuang-Jun too. Compared to me, you have a greater chance of gaining contact with this book, don’t you?”
Wei WuXian laughed, “Who said that you have to go inside the Room of Forbidden Books? Wouldn’t it be fine as long as your master can go in at will? The methods of tampering with the sheet music—he was probably also the one who taught you that, right?”
A person of power free to travel in and out of the Cloud Recesses at will. There was no need to say out loud whom Su She’s master was. Everyone knew—it could only be LianFang-Zun!
Wei WuXian, “It was an idea of you two to capture the disciples of all the sects and attract so many people to Burial Mound. The mantis preys on the cicada, while the oriole on the mantis—he used his injuries as an excuse to avoid rousing suspicion and collaborated with you from the outside. One of you played a dark song to diminish the people’s spiritual powers, while the other used the Tiger Seal to control the corpses on the mountain. In the end, thousands of people are annihilated at my place. Nobody would believe it if I said I wasn’t the one who did it, right? You weren’t afraid that you ran into me either. After all, Wei WuXian’s infamous name is known by everyone. With hatred both new and old, the excited crowd wouldn’t listen to my protests at all. Perhaps it’d even stir up my killing intent and I’d slaughter everyone, sparing you all the work.”
Su She, “How laughable. LianFang-Zun is already the chief cultivator who leads the entire world of cultivation. It’s not like he needs power or name. What benefit is there to him, making so many people come to their deaths? Not only did you slander me, you dare slander LianFang-Zun as well!”
Wei WuXian, “If you say that I’m slandering you with such conviction, then do you dare play the battle song that the MolingSu Sect played to fend off the corpses on your way up the mountain, here in front of everyone?”
All of the GusuLan Sect’s guqin cultivators were here. If Su She played different from before, he’d be exposed at once!
Within the Demon-Slaughtering Cave, the crowd had been moving slowly away from the MolingSu Sect’s people, leaving quite a large area empty, isolating them in the middle. Wei WuXian took advantage of the opportunity, “No? Sure, that’s no problem. Why don’t you check out what this is?”
He took out two yellowed sheets of paper from within his lapels and waved it, allowing everyone barely to see that they were two pieces of sheet music, “Did you really think we returned with nothing in our hands during our trip to Koi Tower? Inside of the secret chamber behind the bronze mirror in the Palace of Fragrance, Jin GuangYao hid two torn-off pages from Collection of Turmoil. We found it already. As soon as I take it to Senior Lan QiRen to see if the melody that you just played was inside, the truth will come to light!”
Su She sneered, “You’re lying. How do I know that these aren’t sheet music you randomly made up to slander me?”
Wei WuXian, “I can’t possibly carry two pieces of sheet music with me at all times, ready to take them out on a moment’s notice, can I? Anyways, whether I’m lying or not, Senior Lan QiRen will know once he looks at them.”
Su She originally suspected that it was a bluff. However, seeing Wei WuXian’s sly smile and his assured tone along with Lan QiRen’s furrowed eyebrows after he took them over, he felt his chest tighten up, “Senior Lan, watch out!” As he spoke, he reached out to grab the two pages.
At this point in time, Bichen’s icy blue glare flew toward him. The sword at Su She’s waist unsheathed to block the attack. However, only after he blocked it did he realize—he was tricked!
Su She’s sword was called ‘Nanping’. Right now, striking against Bichen, its glare swirled brightly—he was clearly full of spiritual energy!