FRS: Chapter 2 – Unknown Murderer (2)
Translator: Momoe Pom
First Published on Ainushi.
The night was deep and quiet.
Fan JiJing tossed and turned in his bed, unable to fall asleep.
In this dark night, past memories flowed inside his head like a river. Bu LouLian’s voice and figure had never been clearer, as if he was standing right there in the darkness watching him in silence.
But he would never see him again.
He felt like something was squeezing his chest, making him unable to breathe.
A small stone hit the window lattice.
Fan JiJing pushed aside the blanket, threw on a robe, and got up.
The window was half open. A thin ray of moonlight slipped in and shined on him, creating an illusion of transparency. He walked to the window and saw a solid figure bathing in moonlight with his back to him. The unbound hair appeared white under the moon.
“Shidi…” whispered Fan JiJing, looking puzzled.
Shi JiZhong slowly turned his head.
He was not a good looking man; he had a hooked nose, a long chin, and sharp facial features that stood out even more in the moonlight. Although he was only sixteen, he looked more like someone who was already thirty-six years old. Every part of him revealed a kind of steadiness that could only be found in elders.
“Third shixiong.” His voice sounded hoarse, indicating his transformation from a boy to a man.
JiJing rubbed his chest gently, as if trying to rub away the knot there. “Still awake?”
“I can’t fall asleep.”
Fan JiJing sighed. His face turned gloomy. “Because of what happened to Master? Same here.”
“No.“ Shi JiZhong paused for a moment, then said, “I ate too fast tonight, still feeling choked.”
“Oh.” Fan JiJing replied after a long silence: “Then eat more slowly in future.”
The air that was once heavy became neither here nor there.
“Was it you who knocked on my window?” Fan JiJing asked.
“What’s the matter?”
“It was an accident. I was throwing stones.” Shi JiZhong lied without the tiniest change on his face.
Fan JiJing blinked. He seemed to believe him. “The wind is strong at night. You should go back now and rest early.”
Shi JiZhong pressed his lips together, then spoke in a low voice: “Master had never planned to teach you Xianlian Sword.”
Fan JiJing, who was just starting to go back inside, suddenly halted and turned around slowly to look at him.
Shi JiZhong continued without turning a hair: “Eldest shixiong asked me to tell you.”
Fan JiJing looked at him with a pair of eyes that had never looked more serious. “I lost my parents when I was young, and it was Master who raised me. His kindness is unmeasurable. To me, being able to learn Xianlian Sword or not was not important. The only thing in my mind right now is to arrest the murderer, so that I can comfort Master’s soul.”
Seeing the determination in his eyes, Shi JiZhong nodded emotionlessly and said, “I see. I’ll go back to my room now.”
Fan JiJing had long been used to his indifference.
When Bu LouLian was still alive, he once evaluated all of his disciples. Guan Xing is calm enough, but he has no motivation. Zhu LiaoDa is ambitious, but he is too tactful. ShangGuan DingNing is clever on trivial matters, but she tends go blank on serious issues. Shi JiZhong is calm, but he is too indifferent like a piece of ice. As for him…
Fan JiJing looked up at the moon and let out a soft sigh.
The next day.
A light grey tinted the eastern sky, and all creatures were still struggling around half asleep when Song BoLin arrived with the rest of disciples in the Jiuhua Sect.
Fan JiJing slept late last night. After he woke up, all he could feel was his head spinning and his ears ringing. ShangGuan DingNing had to call him twice before he could hear her.
Zhu LiaoDa was anxiously pacing in the yard.
Both Guan Xing and Shi JiZhong looked at him indifferently, as if it had nothing to do with them.
“Third shixiong, you are the only one here who is free of suspicion. Quick! Think of a way for us to prove our innocence.” ShangGuan DingNing urged.
Fan JiJing smacked himself on the head, as if he was trying to slap the befuddlement out of his head. “I already told shishu yesterday that different things may share similar appearances. It’s the same for skills. Maybe the move that the killer used was just similar to ‘Wan Hai Kuang Chao.’ Insisting that the killer belongs to the Jiuhua Sect solely based on this… It’s too arbitrary.”
Like a drowning man clutching a straw, Zhu LiaoDa nodded furiously, saying, “That’s right.”
Guan Xing said, “What you just said would be possible if it was any other move. However, the wound created by ‘Wan Hai Kuang Chao’ is unique.”
Fan JiJing was taken by surprise.
Out of all the people here, he and ShangGuan DingNing were the only two who had never learnt Xianlian Sword. Therefore, they had no idea what kind of move ‘Wan Hai Kuang Chao’ was.
Zhu LiaoDa’s face tensed up again. He gave Guan Xing an angry look. “Eldest shixiong.”
Guan Xing responded nonchalantly, “Only solid evidence can purge oneself of suspicion. Desperately clutching at any straws will just make oneself more suspicious.”
Zhu LiaoDa tried hard to stay calm, asking, “Then, does eldest shixiong have any countermeasures against this?”
Guan Xing replied, “An innocent man will be proven innocent eventually.”
Zhu LiaoDa laughed at him. “Do you think shishu will give us any chance to prove ourselves? They have been very dissatisfied ever since Master decided to teach us Xianlian Sword. First, they asked Master to consult the ancestors, then they asked Master to reconsider it again and again and again. If Master had not insisted, I’m afraid we would have nothing to do with Xianlian Sword right now.”
Shi JiZhong coldy retorted, “It’s YOU and ME that would have nothing to do with it. Master chose eldest shixiong to be his mantle disciple a long time ago. He will teach him for sure.”
Zhu LiaoDa was unable to respond. He sneered after a while. “Are you complaining that I had my finger in the pie? Don’t forget. This is Master’s will! In order to carry the Jiuhua Sect forward, we must abolish the rules separating zhangmen from the disciples and give even the normal disciples a chance to learn the most advanced skill in the sect. Otherwise, the Jiuhua Sect will stay at the same rank between top-tired sects and second-tier sects forever, and we would never be on an equal footing with the big sects like Wudang, Shaolin, or Huihuang!”
ShangGuan DingNing quietly pulled her sleeves and said, “Now, the most important thing is how should we deal with shishu?”
Zhu LiaoDa took a deep breath, then turned to look at Fan JiJing.
Because his stare was too strange, everyone turned back and looked at JiJing with curiosity.
Fan JiJing started to blush from embarrassment under these stares. “What is it?”
Zhu LiaoDa said slowly, “Shishu hasn’t cared about us in the past few days. He didn’t say anything about us moving here. Why did he suddenly come today?”
Other people’s looks changed abruptly.
Only Fan JiJing was silly enough to ask back, “Why?”
Zhu LiaoDa said, “Maybe it’s because of… you?”
Fan JiJing was confused, “Me?”
Shi JiZhong said in cold voice, “Master was doing fine for several decades, it is only after you learned Xianlian Sword that this happened. Perhaps this is because of you?”
Zhu LiaoDa was enraged to the extent that his chest expanded slightly. “Fifth shidi! You also learned Xianlian Sword.”
Shi JiZhong replied, “I have never denied that fact.”
ShangGuan DingNing tried to smooth things over: “Alright alright. That’s enough. You two make it sound like the one who killed Master is really one of us.”
A sudden silence.
Even ShangGuan DingNing herself was scared by her unconscious words.
For a moment, no one dared to make a sound.
Song BoLin and the others had obviously lost their patience waiting outside, so he sent a disciple in to find out what was going on.
The disciple came and was shocked to see everyone in room standing and staring at each other without a single movement. He stumbled outside and shouted, “They were attacked! Someone hit their vital points !“
Zhu LiaoDa was going to scratch his itchy nose before he froze completely. An idea came to his mind.
The others seemed to have never expected the situation to have developed in this way. As Song BoLin walked in quickly, they lost the last chance to turn back and could only warn each other with their eyes—
“What happened?” Song BoLin looked at them with both surprise and anger.
Fan JiJing’s mouth twitched. He was going to answer, but Zhu LiaoDa choked him off with a death glare.
A disciple next to Song BoLin said, “It seems like someone hit their vital points.”
”Nonsense! We are inside the Jiuhua Sect. Who would be able to hit all of them at the same time undetected…” He suddenly thought of Bu LouLian, who was killed secretly in the same way. A chill went down his spine. He strode forward and hit Zhu LiaoDa’s vital points.
Zhu LiaoDa was hurting due to the hits, but gritted his teeth and did not move.
Song BoLin mumbled, “What kind of technique is this? It’s so weird!”
Fan JiJing couldn’t hold it any longer. He moved a bit and opened his mouth, “Shishu…”
“Ah! Finally the time is over.” As Zhu LiaoDa swung his arms, Guan Xing and Shi JiZhong also started to move gradually.
ShangGuan DingNing pretended to panic. “Shishu. We are so lucky that you came, just before it was really…”
Song BoLin glanced at everyone’s faces, then stared straight at Fan JiJing and said, “Tell me what just happened.”
Zhu LiaoDa stared at him nervously.
Fan JiJing was caught in the middle. He replied after a moment. “I don’t know either.”
Zhu LiaoDa picked up the sentence quickly: “His moves were too fast. We didn’t see clearly…”
Receiving the hint from Zhu LiaoDa, ShangGuan DingNing carefully suggested, “Could that be the person who killed Master…”
Song BoLin humphed. He looked at Guan Xing and said, “You are the eldest shixiong. You tell me.”
Guan Xing lowered his head and replied, “I’m ashamed.”
Ashamed? Ashamed of what? There were many possible explanations depending on one’s point of view. However, under this situation, only one explanation appeared reasonable: he failed to see that person’s face too.
Song BoLin turned his eyes. Just as he was going to say something, a disciple rushed in to report, “Second shishu, the third gongzi  of the Hua Family just came.”
He frowned. “Which one?”
“The third young master of the Hua Family, Hua HuaiXiu Gongzi.”
Song BoLin looked at Fan JiJing, only to find him as shocked as he was.
- Vital Point: In martial arts, hitting one’s vital points can result in various effects. The most common effect is to make someone unable to move either for a period of time or till someone releases it by hitting certain other points. [back]
- Gongzi: A polite form of address or suffix referring to young male from notable families. [back]