FRS: Chapter 4 – Unknown Murderer (4)
Translator: Momoe Pom
First Published on Ainushi.
Corptis helps to clear away heat and toxins.
After drinking two full cups of it followed by a piece of candied fruit, Fan JiJing felt alive again and was not as befuddled as he was when he had returned to the Jiuhua Sect.
Hua HuaiXiu took out another tea set to brew a separate pot.
Fan JiJing watched him in silence.
From the parting at his parents’ graves when he was young to the reunion many years later, the long time in between was left blank. Too much had changed since then. For example, the boy who was once obsessed with fragmented quotes from saints had now grown into such an elegant and graceful gentleman that stood out from the rest of the crowd.
As if he felt Fan JiJing’s glare, Hua HuaiXiu’s mouth curved up a bit. He slightly pivoted his head to the left so that the curve of his neck would be exposed more visibly.
As expected, Fan JiJing failed to hold back his thoughts and said, “Cousin.”
“En?” He answered casually.
“There’s a lot of mosquitoes at night here. You should be careful with your neck.”
“…” Hua HuaiXiu’s face darkened. He turned his head and glared ferociously at him.
Confused by his glare, Fan JiJing looked extremely innocent
“I know that not only there are a lot of mosquitoes on Mount Jiuhua, there are even more assassins as well.” Hua HuaiXiu humphed, “Your shishu already told me about your master.”
When Bu LouLian was brought up, Fan JiJing’s face instantly turned gloomy.
“For this half month, where do you want to start?” asked Hua HuaiXiu.
Fan JiJing raised his eyes and looked at him with surprise. “You really agreed to shishu’s conditions?”
If it wasn’t for him being a wet blanket just now, Hua HuaiXiu might have said something sentimental, such as “I did it for you,” but now he was filled with nothing but anger towards this big block of wood. “Nonsense. I ran away from a marriage arrangement. Do you think I’d write a letter home so they can come and catch me?”
Fan JiJing said worriedly, “But if uncle knows…”
Hua HuaiXiu’s face became even colder: “Are you afraid that I’ll get you involved?”
Fan JiJing sighed, “I’m afraid that he’ll punish you.”
Only after hearing this did Hua HuaiXiu’s gaze slightly soften. “First off, the Hua Family is never short of money. Second, it is never short of people. Even without me, nothing will change.
Fan JiJing said, “Uncle dotes on you.”
Hua HuaiXiu was unwilling to argue over this issue any longer, so he changed the topic by asking, “How are you going to investigate the case?”
Fan JiJing said, “I want to take a look at Master’s wound first.”
“Autopsy?” Hua HuaiXiu frowned unconsciously. “Do you know how to?”
“I don’t,” said Fan JiJing. “Therefore, I want to invite eldest shixiong to come with me.”
Hua HuaiXiu faintly refused to hear about another person from his mouth, and his face momentarily showed a bit ridicule. “He knows how to?”
“I’m not sure, but he’ll definitely know what kind of wound ‘Wan Hai Kuang Chao’ makes.”
Since Hua HuaiXiu could see his reasoning, he could only agree.
Guan Xing and the others had been brooding over not being able to see Bu LouLian’s remains themselves, so they hit it off right away. The only question now was whether Song BoLin would agree or not.
Surprisingly, he agreed right away.
Song BoLin said, “Since I’ve entrusted this case to you, of course I’ll support you as much as I can.”
Fan JiJing had never expected that things could go this smoothly. He could not stop expressing his gratitude for a while.
Song BoLin stopped him with a wave of hand. “What’s the need to thank me? If you cannot hand over the murderer after half a month, this debt will be collected and counted against you altogether.”
Fan JiJing did not back down and said, “I won’t let Master pass away with grievance!”
Although Song BoLin agreed to let Fan JiJing and Guan Xing look at the remains, they were not allowed to do it publicly. Song BoLin intentionally arranged it at night, made them burn incense, and pray before leading them into the rear hall.
Since Bu LouLian died a tragic death, Song BoLin and Wu Changbo, in order to protect the image of Zhangmen, encoffined him right away: ready for burial as soon as a red-lettered day  hit. Therefore, in order to perform an autopsy, they had to open the coffin first.
Seeing Fan JiJing and Guan Xing were both looking at him, Song BoLin slowly nodded and said, “You may open it.”
Both Guan Xing and Fan JiJing were martial artists, and pulling out a few nails was nothing to them. They dared not to pull them too fast though, as they were concerned about disturbing their master’s spirit.
After the nails were gone, Fan JiJing and Guan Xing looked at Song BoLin again anxiously.
Song BoLin nodded once more.
They then lifted the coffin plate with great care, yet the stink of the dead greeted them immediately. Fan JiJing subconsciously covered his nose and mouth.
Song BoLin’s eyebrows furrowed, but since covering both nose and mouth was too disgraceful for him as their shishu, he could only hold his breath and stand there with a poker face.
Since Fan JiJing and Guan Xing were afraid to disturb Bu LouLian, their movements were exceptionally slow and gentle, and the process was still not finished after half an incense .
Song BoLin wanted to hurry them but was worried about inhaling the corpse’s miasma by opening his mouth. Thus, he turned around and left the room.
Right after he left, Guan Xing spoke in a low voice while covering his mouth: “Looking at the wound, it seems that Master was indeed killed by ‘Wan Hai Kuang Chao’. This move requires the ‘Helical Force’ in the inner arts  of our sect to make the sword spin continuously. Therefore, the wound is a round hole.”
Fan JiJing imaged the said scene and paled. “Does that mean the flesh got minced and scattered everywh…”
Guan Xing nodded almost undetectably. “No wonder shishu didn’t allow us to look at the crime scene back then.”
Fan JiJing frowned.
Guan Xing knew that he was thinking about the murderer, so he didn’t bother him. He quietly closed the coffin plate, drove in the nails with his bare hands, then pushed Fan JiJing’s shoulder and said, “Let’s talk outside.”
Fan JiJing turned around and walked out.
Song BoLin was standing in the outer hall, looking at Bu LouLian’s lingwei , which was enshrined on a platform.
Fan JiJing and Guan Xing spoke in low voices.
“How was it?” asked Song BoLin.
Fan JiJing glanced at Guan Xing; after looking at him, he nodded and said, “Master was indeed killed by ‘Wan Hai Kuang Chao’ of Xianlian Sword.”
Song BoLin sneered, “Do I need you to tell me this? I’m asking if you noticed anything new.”
Fan JiJing replied, “No.”
Song BoLin was not angry. This was the only conclusion Wu ChangBo and he were able to reach after thoroughly investigating Bu LouLian’s remains at least ten times. He would be depressed if Guan Xing and Fan JiJing could find anything with just a few glimpses.
“Come and burn some incense for your Master, then go back and clean yourselves first before we discuss,” said Song BoLin. He then turned around and walked out with hands clasped behind his back.
Guan Xing and Fan JiJing lighted incenses and bowed in silence, then returned to their respective rooms.
From the moment when Song BoLin agreed to let them check the remains, they already had suspicions that no clues could be found there. However, suspecting that it was so was one thing, but actually not finding anything was another.
With an outer robe draping on his shoulders after his bath, Fan JiJing stared at the moon outside his room and spaced out.
“There was no clue?” Hua HuaiXiu came out from his room, neatly dressed. Obviously, he had not slept yet.
Fan JiJing said, “Master was indeed killed by ‘Wan Hai Kuang Chao’.”
“How many people in the Jiuhua Sect know how to use Xianlian Sword?”
“Before he passed away, Master taught it to eldest shixiong, second shixiong, and fifth shidi.”
“Only you were left out?” Hua HuaiXiu pressed his lips together and said, “I told you a long time ago that your master is biased. Speaking of qualification and personalities, you are the best candidate to be his mantle disciple.”
Fan JiJing frowned and said, “If Master chose to do it this way, he must have had his reasons.”
“You…” Hua HuaiXiu was going to say something. But after seeing how serious he looked, as if he would turn against him at any moment, Hua HuaiXiu just had to change the topic. “How do you plan to investigate from here?”
Fan JiJing said, “Since they are the only people who know how to use Xianlian Sword, I will ask them about it first.”
Hua HuaiXiu crossed his arms and said, “Back then, Song BoLin and Wu ChangBo insisted that your master was killed by Xianlian Sword. They seemed to know a lot about it as well.”
Fan JiJing slowly asked, “Are you saying that…”
“I’m saying that,” Hua HuaiXiu glanced around quickly, then said, “I think people in the Jiuhua Sect all seemed abnormal.”
Fan JiJing asked, “Abnormal?”
Hua HuaiXiu explained, “Normally, if one’s shixiong or one’s master dies, they should be torn by grief. Even if they are not torn by grief, they should feel sad at least. But take a look. Besides you, who else on Mount Jiuhua felt grieved for Bu Zhangmen’s death?”
Fan JiJing said, “Shishu and shixiongdi have never been very expressive of their emotions.”
Hua HuaiXiu stared at him with furrowed eyebrows.
“What’s the matter?” Fan JiJing touched his own face.
“I didn’t think so when we were young, but…” Hua HuaiXiu’s eyebrows tightened even more: “How did you become so stiff and pedantic after you grew up?”
Fan JiJing said earnestly, “Because I became more mature.”
Hua HuaiXiu said sourly, “I’d rather you never become mature our entire lives.”
Fan JiJing thought for a moment, then said, “When Cousin grows up one day, maybe you’ll understand then.”
Without any hesitation, Hua HuaiXiu rushed into his room and hurried out with a teapot, ready to smash it on him.
However, the person that was standing here was already back in his room.
Hua HuaiXiu walked to his door. Just as he was going to knock, the light inside disappeared abruptly, followed by some rustling sound, indicating that the person inside was now already in bed.
Hua HuaiXiu returned to his room in low spirits and put away the teapot. As he was about to go to bed as well, something suddenly flashed into his mind—
Fan JiJing was a martial artist, and just now, Hua HuaiXiu did not bother to hide his footsteps. Accordingly, Fan JiJing should have been able to hear that he was right outside his room, right?
Hua HuaXiu gritted his teeth out of anger. He strode over to the shared wall between the rooms and gave it a heavy punch.
Then he puffed off the light, went to his bed, pulled over the blanket…
And rubbed the back of his hand.
- Red-Lettered Day: an auspicious day. In China, there is a kind of calendar with each day marked with things that are favorable and things that should not be done that day. Favorable things are usually printed in red. So here, they are waiting for a favorable day for “burial”. [back]
- Incense can be used as a time unit in ancient China—the time it takes for an entire incense to burn away. [back]
- Inner Arts: it refers to the word neigong (内功), which refers to the internal martial arts practiced through a certain set of meditation and breathing techniques. In a wuxia setting, practicing inner arts can build up internal force inside one’s body, which will work as the foundation of many skills and strengthen [outer] martial art skills in certain ways. [back]
- Lingwei: a spirit/memorial tablet with the name of the deceased person on it. It is not only used in funeral rituals, but also worshiped and enshrined as a form of respect to that person and keeps their spirit on Earth. [back]