FRS: Chapter 1 – Unknown Murderer (1)
Translator: Momoe Pom
First Published on Ainushi.
After roaming the martial world for a long period of time, Lanyan League finally incurred public outrage among the moral sects. Supported by Wudang’s LingYun Daozhang and Shaolin’s Ci’En Fangzhang , Huihuang Sect’s Ji WuDi appealed to the moral sects and jointly launched a large scale extermination of the Lanyan League.
Fan JiJing, as the representative of the Jiuhua Sect, participated in this movement. Together with fellows of the moral sects, he too harvested this tough, yet rewarding fruit of victory. Since then, Lanyan League had become an evil legend in the martial world, and everyone from the moral sects returned to their homes in triumph.
After nearly two months of travel, Fan JiJing finally returned to Mount Jiuhua. As he stepped through the gates of the Jiuhua Sect, he saw his second shishu , Song BoLin, and fifth shishu, Wu ChangBo, standing there looking extremely serious.
“Second shishu, fifth shishu.” Fan JiJing, with travel bag on his shoulder, saluted them respectfully.
“Did you know?” said Song BoLin in a low voice.
Fan JiJing was dazed for a second. He asked hesitantly, “What is second shishu referring to?”
“Your master is dead.”
Without any signs or time to prepare himself, it was like lightning on a sunny day.
Fan JiJing did not respond for a while, as if struck by lightning.
Wu ChangBo snapped, “Second shixiong , you were too straightforward.”
Song BoLin glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. “Then, how would you have said it?”
Wu ChangBo cleared his throat, then spoke slowly, “JiJing…”
Fan JiJing finally reacted a little. He looked at Wu ChangBo dazedly. His eyes showed faint anticipation, hoping that he would deny Song BoLin’s words.
“Your master is dead.”
Fan JiJing was struck by lighting once again.
The corner of Song BoLin’s eyes twitched. “Were your words any different from mine?”
Wu ChangBo replied, “I called his name first to make him feel my concern for him.”
Song BoLin pointed at Fan JiJing, who still hadn’t snapped out of it, and asked, “So, does he look any different from just now?”
Wu ChangBo said, “Just now, he was shocked. Now, he is touched.”
“You are making things up.”
“You are just picking a fight.”
“You are playing with words.”
“You are playing with girls.”
Song BoLin got so mad that his beard almost curled up. “When did I ever play with girls?”
Wu ChangBo grunted, “When did I ever play with words?”
“You are doing it right now!”
“Second shishu, fifth shishu…”
“What?” Both Song BoLin and Wu ChangBo turned to him angrily.
Fan JiJing blinked several times, then slowly opened his mouth: “How did Master die?”
Song BoLin pulled a long face and said, “He was killed.”
“I told you not to be so straightforward.” Wu ChangBo added, “During the assassination attempt, he failed to dodge the sword that cut through his neck. He also couldn’t find anything to cover the wound, so he lost too much blood in the end… Sigh.”
Fan JiJing said, “But Master is very skilled in martial arts. He’s one of the top masters in this world. Back then, even Wudang’s LingYun Daozhang praised his Xianlian Sword , saying it was undefeatable. Ci’en Fangzhang also said…”
“That’s enough. How did you become so talkative after going off on just one trip?” Song BoLin cut him off coldly, “Your master was assassinated. In fact, the murderer used the Xianlian Sword that LingYun Daozhang had once praised so highly.”
Surprisingly, Wu ChangBo didn’t argue with him this time. Instead, he echoed, “Your master was killed by Xianlian Sword right after he taught it to his three mantle disciples . We can’t help but suspect…”
Hearing him dragging out the sentence, Fan JiJing hastily asked, “Suspect what?”
Song BoLin said, “Suspecting that the killer is someone from our sect.”
Fan JiJing was shocked. “How is that possible?”
Song BoLin continued, “Other than your master, the only people who know the Xianlian Sword are: your eldest shixiong Guan Xing, second shixiong Zhu LiaoDa, and fifth shidi  Shi JiZhong. Your master must have trusted them greatly. If one of them suddenly attacked…”
Fan JiJing said, “But they still wouldn’t be able to kill him. Master’s proficiency is far above them. Even if he was ambushed, it would still be too difficult for any of them to succeed.”
Wu ChangBo said, “It’s true that it would be difficult for any one of them, but it wouldn’t be as hard for the three of them together.”
Fan JiJing looked at him in shock. “Fifth shishu, are you saying that…”
Wu ChangBo frowned, “Before the truth is revealed, anything is possible.”
Fan JiJing looked at him solemnly. “I cannot agree with what shishu just said. Even ordinary matters require reasoning and evidence, even more for such a serious matter as the crime of killing one’s master. Three people can make a tiger come true . If my shixiong didn’t do it, wouldn’t shishu feel guilty making them suffer these adverse rumors and accusations?”
Wu ChangBo’s face flushed upon hearing those words.
Song BoLin humphed, “If it wasn’t them, who else knows Xianlian Sword?”
Fan JiJing said, “Different things may share similar appearances. Maybe the skill the assassin used is just very similar to Xianlian Sword.”
Song BoLin said, “Shixiong was killed by the ‘Wan Hai Kuang Chao ’ in Xianlian Sword. There is no way I could be wrong!”
Wu ChangBo suddenly cleared his throat.
Song BoLian said impatiently, “I was just trying to warn you because you just came back. There is no doubt that Guan Xing and the others killed your master. You should take care of yourself.” He then flicked his sleeves and left .
Wu ChangBo glanced at Fan JiJing as if he wanted to say something, but in the end he only let out a sigh and hurriedly went to go catch up with Song BoLin.
Fan JiJing didn’t feel it at first because he was busy thinking about the murderer. Now that Wu ChangBo and Song BoLin had left, memories of Bu LouLian started to take over his mind. The grief from the loss of his master swept over him like a hurricane. He didn’t even realize when his bag slid off his shoulder.
No one knew how long he stood there.
Night fell gradually, and moonlight spread across the land.
The soft sound of footsteps came from inside.
A moment later.
ShangGuan DingNing poked her head out from hallway and said softly, “Third shixiong.”
At a loss, Fan JiJing looked around for a while before he recognized her. She had almost become one with the dark night.
“Shimei .” Light suddenly reappeared in his eyes. He took one step forward, looked at her intensely and asked, “Shishu just said that Master was assassinated. Is that true?”
ShangGuan DingNing looked at him and nodded lightly.
It was dark, but under the moonlight, she could still see that Fan JiJing’s face was as pale as snow.
“Third shixiong,” she said in an extremely low voice, “let’s talk after we go back to the Leyi Residence.”
“Leyi Residence?” Fan JiJing looked at her. He seemed confused.
ShangGuan DingNing did not explain. She bent down to pick up the bag for him, then ran towards the direction of the Leyi Residence.
Fan JiJing followed her.
Jiuhua Sect was divided into three residences: front, back, and left.
The front residence was where the normal disciples lived, and the back residence was where Bu LouLian, Song BoLin, Fan JiJing and the others lived. The left residence was the Leyi Residence, which was mainly used to accommodate guests.
After arriving at the Leyi Residence, ShangGuan DingNing let out a sigh of relief. She said in a normal voice, “We finally escaped.”
Fan JiJing asked, “What do you mean by escaped?”
ShangGuan DingNing answered, “Second shishu and fifth shishu controlled the residence over there, so we had to move here.”
“Eldest shixiong, second shixiong, fifth shidi and me.” ShangGuan DingNing smiled and patted his arm. “And now third shixiong, too.”
Fan JiJing was dumbfounded. “How did the matter become this serious?”
ShangGuan DingNng replied with a shrug: “Because second shishu and fifth shishu didn’t give us much choice. They insisted that it was eldest shixiong, second shixiong, and fifth shidi who killed Master and even forced them to hand over the murderer. If not, he would put all of them in prison. We had no choice but to move here secretly.”
“There is no ‘but.’ You haven’t eaten, right? Follow me.” ShangGuan DingNing made a gesture to him and ran inside the house.
Guan Xing and the others were dining in that room.
ShangGuan DingNing excitedly rushed into the room and announced, “Third shixiong is here.”
Fan JiJing strode over the threshold. Everyone in the room looked at him strangely.
Guan Xing looked emotionless as always. Shi JiZhong was busy eating and did not pay any attention to him. Only Zhu LiaoDa stood up and said, “Third shidi, come, sit here.”
Fan JiJing followed his words and sat down.
ShangGuan DingNing started to claim her credit: “You should all thank me. Luckily I was snooping around there, otherwise we wouldn’t have known that third shixiong had come back. He was even standing there spacing out like an idiot.”
A light flashed inside Zhu LiaoDa’s eyes. He asked, “Third shidi, did shishu say anything to you?”
“They said,” Fan JiJing forced out the sentence under the overwhelming grief, “that Master was killed.”
Zhu LiaoDa glanced at Guan Xing quickly, seeing that Guan Xing had no reaction to those words, he then continued, “It’s true. The murderer is still at large.”
Fan JiJing said, “According to what shishu said, Master was killed by ‘Wan Hai Kuang Chao’ from Xianlian Sword?”
Zhu LiaoDa shook his head: “We have no idea. None of us saw Master’s remains. The fact that Master was killed by Xianlian Sword is their side of the story.”
Fan JiJing said, “Shishu has no reason to lie to us.”
Zhu LiaoDa sneered, “I wouldn’t be so sure. They have been coveting the Xianlian Sword for a long time, and now is the chance for them to make their move.” Suddenly, he seemed to remember something. He stretched out to pat Fan JiJing’s arm and said, “Actually, Master abolished the requirements of choosing a mantle disciple this time. All of his personal disciples are now allowed to study it. It is a pity that you were at LingYun Daozhang’s birthday party back then, and thus missed the chance to learn it from Master directly. Just wait till these things are settled, I will find a chance to teach you. This way we can also comfort Master’s soul.”
Shi JiZhong put down his chopsticks. He stood up and said, “I’m done eating.” While saying that, he looked at Guan Xing.
Guan Xing nodded. “You can leave.”
Only after that did Shi JiZhong turn around and leave, though he paid no attention to Zhu LiaoDa and the others the entire time.
Zhu LiaoDa’s smile suddenly became a bit unnatural: “Fifth shidi is irascible as always.”
Guan Xing replied, “Because there are so many irritating things happening in this world.”
Zhu LiaoDa’s lips moved a bit. After a long while, he forced out a laugh and said, “Let’s eat. The dishes are getting cold.”
Fan JiJing just heard the bad news not long ago and didn’t have much appetite. He took a few more bites before he quickly excused himself, then found a guest room for the night.
- Daozhang: Polite suffix referring to people who practice Daoism. LingYun Daozhang is the Leader of Wudang, a daoist sect. Fangzhang: Title of the leader of a Buddhist temple. Ci’en Fangzhang is the Leader of Shaolin Temple. [back]
- Shishu: Sect Uncle (Junior). The Junior Fellow Disciple (Male) / Shidi of one’s Master. In this case, it refers to the shidi of Fan JiJing’s Master. The ranking is usually decided by the order in which they became disciples under their master. Since Fan JiJing’s father is Bu LouLian’s shidi, before he becomes Bu’s disciple, from his father’s perspective, he refers to Bu as shibo. After he becomes Bu’s disciple, since Bu ranks first among his fellow disciples, Fan refers to all other fellow disciples of Bu as shishu, from his master’s perspective. [back]
- Shixiong: Sect Brother (Senior), or Senior Fellow Disciple. [back]
- Xianlian Sword: The name refers to a set of skills, not an actual sword. Xianlian literally stands for ‘immortal lotus’. [back]
- Mantle Disciple: The disciple chosen by the leader of the sect to become the next leader. Usually there is only one mantle disciple, but the reason for the “three mantle disciples” will be revealed later in story. [back]
- Shidi: Sect Brother (Junior) or Junior Fellow Disciple. Fan JiJing ranked third among his fellow disciples, so he refers to the first and second as shixiong, and the others as shidi. [back]
- Three People Can Make a Tiger Come True: It’s a phrase based on a story in Records of the Warring States. It means gossip can lead people to take rumors as truth. Parts from the story: Pang Cong asked the King, “There is one person saying he saw a tiger in market, do you believe it?” The King replied, “No.” Pang Cong asked, “What if two people said they saw the tiger?” The King replied, “I doubt it.” Pang Cong asked, “What if there are three people saying they saw it?” The King replied, “Now I believe.” Pang Cong said, “It is clear that there is no tiger in market. But if three people say it, it sounds like there really is a tiger in market.” [back]
- Wan Hai Kuang Chao: Name of one of the moves in the set of skills contained in Xianlian Sword. It literally means “overbearing tides that can turn back the ocean.” [back]
- Ancient Chinese people wear clothes with very large sleeves. The action usually indicates they are angry at a situation but they can do nothing about it. [back]
- Shimei: Sect Sister (Junior) or Junior Female Fellow Disciple. [back]