FRS: Chapter 13 – Unknown Truth (4)
Translator: Momoe Pom
Quality Check: Kai
First Published on Ainushi.
The night wind blew through the tips of trees, bringing out waves of rustling.
The figure of Fan JiJing’s back gradually moved out of sight.
Hua HuaiXiu’s feet were still pinned to the place he was standing. Hiding amongst the sound of the leaves was his heartbeat, heavy, disordered, and muffled.
The lights in Song BoLin’s room suddenly went out.
The world fell into silence.
No traces of Fan JiJing’s stopping by could be found around here. Only the unexpected smile was still lingering in his mind for a long period of time.
Hua HuaiXiu suddenly pinched himself, pulling himself out of the turmoil of his mind. Then, putting on a calm expression, he headed back along the same narrow path that Fan JiJing had just walked on.
No matter how great the disturbance in the Jiuhua Sect was during the day, it all settled down after the night came.
On the long path paved with quartz slates, his footsteps sounded especially clear.
Hua HuaiXiu raised his head in surprise and saw Fan JiJing standing right there, about five or six zhang  ahead on the path, waiting for him. The black night masked his face, making his expression unclear. But the first thing that appeared in Hua HuaiXiu’s mind was exactly that meaningful smile outside of Song BoLin’s room.
“Cousin?” Fan JiJing called again and came this way.
Hua HuaiXiu’s feelings were in disorder. He watched him walk up. The expression on his face was still that simple and honest one that often left Hua HuaiXiu exasperated.
“Did you wait for a long time?” asked Fan JiJing.
Hua HuaiXiu darted him an abrupt glance: “It’s all because you talked for so long!”
Fan JiJing’s eyebrows twisted slightly as he said softly, “Let’s talk about it after we go back.”
The word “we” somehow warmed Hua HuaiXiu’s heart.
Even the image of that smile before was watered down a little.
Perhaps, his eyes had deceived him just now, or maybe he had just thought too much.
The more Hua HuaiXiu thought about it, the more he felt that he had made too big a fuss over it. He smiled spontaneously with a sense of relief and light-heartedly went to catch up with Fan JiJing.
When the two of them arrived at the door of Hua HuaiXiu’s room, it was already midnight.
Fan JiJing looked at the color of the sky, then said, “Why don’t we talk about it tomorrow?”
Hua HuaiXiu said, “Alright.”
Just as Fan JiJing was about to go back to his room, Hua HuaiXiu suddenly grabbed his arm. “Come to my room and wait for tomorrow. It’s only two incense of time away anyway.”
Fan JiJing stood in a daze for a moment, as if he hadn’t had the chance to react before he was already pulled in.
It was dark inside.
The moonlight was only able to reach the small area behind the door.
Hua HuaiXiu lit up the lamp very casually, then said to Fan JiJing who was still standing by the door, “Close the door.”
Fan JiJing hesitated for a second but still did as he was told.
Hua HuaiXiu sat in front of the table and poured two cups of water in passing. “There is about one incense of time left till tomorrow. I’m not in hurry.”
Fan JiJing forced a smile and sat in front of him. “I’m just afraid that you’ll be too tired.” Before Hua HuaiXiu could answer, he continued, “Actually, with so many things happening in the Jiuhua Sect, leaving here as soon as possible would actually be the best decision. I’ve already brought it up to Song shishu, and he agreed to let you go down the mountain.”
Since they decided to announce Bu LouLian’s death publicly, Hua HuaiXiu’s stay in Mount Jiuhua was no longer important.
Hua HuaiXiu’s face stiffened. He asked plainly, “Are you driving me away?”
Fan JiJing stared at his cold expression and did not know what to do. But after hesitating for a long period of time, he painfully made up his mind: “I should not have gotten you involved in this turmoil in the first place.”
“You got me involved?” Hua HuaiXiu raised his eyebrows and said, “You are thinking too highly of yourself. I was just sight-seeing here on Mount Jiuhua and happened to encounter these things. That’s all.” He purposely dragged out the syllables for “that’s all”.
Fan JiJing’s shoulders collapsed slightly. “Anyway, if you were not my cousin, you would not be banned from going down the mountain by Song shishu.”
“Do you think your Song shishu would be able to stop me if I really wanted to leave?” Hua HuaiXiu asked proudly.
Even though Fan JiJing did not respond, his honest stares had already betrayed him.
Hua HuaiXiu’s self-confidence suffered a great setback. He said in a fit of pique, “At least I’m still the third gongzi of the Hua Family. I only need to tell my father that I’m willing to go back and get married for him to send people to Mount Jiuhua immediately.”
This was not a bluff. Even though the Hua Family was not one of the first-rate sects in the martial world, the influence it had was even greater than that of most of them.
Fan JiJing’s eyes widened as he gazed at him. “Cousin. Are you serious?”
“What do you think?” Hua HuaiXiu did not answer but asked back.
Fan JiJing lowered his head as if he was thinking hard. After a long while, he said, “Life is short. I don’t want cousin to do anything that you are reluctant about.”
Hua HuaiXiu was moved.
But Fan JiJing changed the subject. “Song shishu made the same decision as eldest shixiong.”
He changed the topic too abruptly, and thus Hua HuaiXiu was stupefied for a minute before he could react to what he just said. “Your shishu agreed to let you succeed as zhangmen as well?”
Fan JiJing nodded silently.
Hua HuaiXiu sat there dumbfoundedly. For a moment, he didn’t know what to say,
Selfishly speaking, he definitely did not want Fan JiJing to succeed as the next zhangmen. But not only was this selfish motive unspeakable, even if he voiced it, Fan JiJing might not even listen to him. In fact, since the time of his confession till now, Fan JiJing still had not replied him directly.
“You want to be zhangmen?” He could only try to sound him out implicitly.
This time, Fan JiJing did not hesitate like he did last time. He nodded slowly.
Even though he had vaguely guessed some of it before, seeing him actually admitting it was another feeling. Hua HuaiXiu asked in a low voice, “Why?”
Fan JiJing said, “I want to carry on Master’s will and bring Jiuhua Sect to a greater height.”
Hua HuaiXiu asked sourly, “How do you know it was your master’s will?”
Fan JiJing replied, “Master had always cared greatly about the reputation of the Jiuhua Sect. I know it.”
“Indulging in power and authority is different from carrying a sect forward.” Seeing that he was about to disagree and knowing that an argument would lead to an unavoidable over-excitement and a parting in discord, he continued immediately, “Not to mention that you still have eldest shixiong, second shixiong, and fifth shidi. Even if none of them are good enough, you still have your second shishu and fifth shishu. Does it have to be you?”
Fan JiJing sighed, “But they certainly will not yield to other parties.”
Hua HuaiXiu knew what he said was true.
The reason why Guan Xing and Song BoLin agreed to let Fan JiJing succeed as zhangmen, at its root, was not related to the nonsense about murderers but rather that he was neutral and was also the only person that could make both sides reach a compromise. Without him, the position of zhangmen of the Jiuhua Sect would not be settled by any means other than an all out war.
“Have you decided?” Hua HuaiXiu made his last inquiry, not willing to give up.
Fan JiJing nodded.
“Since you’ve made one decision already, why don’t you make a decision for us as well while you are at it?” Hua HuaiXiu stared at him and spoke slowly, pausing behind each word. “What’s your answer?”
Fan JiJing lowered his eyelids and escaped his overbearing glance, stammering, “Cousin. It’s late already.”
“Everyone else is asleep and no one will eavesdrop on us. It’s the most appropriate time to talk about this kind of thing.” Seeing the way he avoided him, Hua HuaiXiu instantly knew that there was still space in Fan JiJing’s heart for him. Otherwise, at such a moment when he could get the position of zhangmen with the least difficulty, why would he make trouble for himself? Rejecting him clearly would be the best way to protect himself.
Seeing that it was unavoidable, Fan JiJing had no choice but to sigh: “Cousin. Really, there’s been too many things happening recently. I… I haven’t been able to think about it.”
Hua HuaiXiu raised his eyebrows. “Was it ‘haven’t been able to’ or ‘didn’t want to’?”
Fan JiJing did not admit it, but neither did he disagree.
Hua HuaiXiu asked, “Have you ever thought about how heavy the burden on you would be if you succeed as zhangmen?”
“I have,” Fan JiJing admitted frankly.
“The reputation of the Jiuhua Sect is also a part of it.” Hua HuaiXiu’s words were like needles piercing through Fan JiJing’s shell. “If you and I were to be together in the future, putting aside how the rest of the martial world would look at you and the Jiuhua Sect, it would be difficult for you to even deal with everyone within the Jiuhua Sect!” Right after he finished, he started to regret it in his heart. His purpose should be to analyze the pros and cons for him in the hope that he would change his mind and give up becoming zhangmen, but why did it sound like he was pressuring Fan JiJing to give up on him after the words left his mouth?
But the words were already out, and regret was useless. He could do nothing but open his eyes widely and stare at Fan JiJing with all his might, as though he was going to put up a desperate fight against Fan JiJing if he dared to give up on him.
Fan JiJing looked back at him innocently.
The two of them stared at each other. Neither one was willing to yield.
After staring for some time, Hua HuaiXiu, while in a trance, connected Fan JiJing’s expression to the one he had when he came out from Song BoLin’s room.
Exactly the same facial features, but totally different feelings.
Perhaps he made the association for too long that he somehow felt that Fan JiJing’s expression had changed a little. Even though it was still that simple and honest look as usual, his eyes revealed an unfathomable coldness.
“Cousin?” Fan JiJing called him lightly.
Hua HuaiXiu came back to his senses, replying, “What?”
“I’m getting sleepy,” he said. He even rubbed his eyes.
“…Then go sleep.” Hua HuaiXiu suddenly lost the mood to dig to the bottom of it.
- Zhang: A unit of distance. One zhang equals approximately three meters. [back]