FRS: Chapter 5 – Unknown Murderer (5)
Translator: Momoe Pom
First Published on Ainushi.
Fan JiJing lived up to his words. The next day, he went to see Guan Xing and the others to learn about the details.
When Hua HuaiXiu hurried over after finishing his breakfast, Zhu LiaoDa was glaring at Fan JiJing fiercely, as if burning with rage.
Guan Xing and Shi JiZhong sat aside in silence.
ShangGuan DingNing stood anxiously behind Zhu LiaoDa. She wanted to pull him back, but she hesitated as if she had some doubts.
Fan JiJing said solemnly, “Second shixiong, could you please tell me clearly where you were at that time, so we can clear you from suspicion.”
Zhu LiaoDa sneered: “Are you saying that if I don’t tell you where I was, you’ll incriminate me of murdering my master?”
“That wasn’t my intention.” Fan JiJing paused for a moment. Just as Zhu LiaoDa thought he was going to give in, he continued, “Still, could second shixiong please tell me where you were?”
Zhu LiaoDa was so angry that his face paled. “There must be a motive to kill someone. Why would I kill Master?”
“Indeed. Why?” Hua HuaiXiu walked this way casually, then stood in front of him. He looked at him seriously and asked, “So why is it like this?”
“I. did. not. kill. Master.” Zhu LiaoDa enunciated each word slowly.
Hua HuaiXiu said, “The murderer will certainly say that as well.”
Zhu LiaoDa’s face suffused with a purplish red, with his eyes popping as he glared. “What do you mean by that?”
Hua HuaiXiu replied calmly, “Just judging by what you are saying.”
Guan Xing finally stepped out and said, “Second shidi, since Master has already passed away, if you have anything you could not say before, you can just say it now.”
The blue veins on Zhu LiaoDa’s forehead protruded out as he furiously threw out a sentence: “It’s up to all of you to believe me or not!” then left for his room.
ShangGuan DingNing watched him depart, then looked at everyone else that remained; she hesitated, unsure what to do.
Guan Xing said, “Shimei, you should go take a look.”
ShangGuan DingNing looked relieved and went to go catch up with him.
Hua HuaiXiu said, “Perhaps…” as if he had thought of something.
Guan Xing nodded in reply: “Indeed.”
Fan JiJing looked at them in bewilderment: “Perhaps what?”
Shi JiZhong raised his left hand and said, “Second shixiong.” He raised his right hand and said, “Fourth shijie .” Then he clapped his hands together.Fan JiJing suddenly said, “They hit it off?”
Shi JiZhong gave him a thumbs up.
“But,” Fan JiJing’s eyebrows remained furrowed, “what exactly did they hit off?”
“…” Shi JiZhong bent his thumb back.
Hua HuaiXiu helplessly explained: “One man and one woman, hitting it off, two becomes one…”
“Cough. Cough.” Guan Xing gave a few dry coughs.
Fan JiJing finally realized what they meant. He was stunned.
Guan Xing said, “If I’m not wrong, second shidi was with fourth shimei at the time.”
Fan JiJing recovered from his surprise and asked, “Then why didn’t second shixiong just make that clear?”
Shi JiZhong replied, “Master had always been against second shixiong going out with fourth shijie.”
Hua HuaiXiu asked in surprise, “It’s human nature for people to go after their own hearts. Not to mention that they are also fellow disciples, which is like adding flowers to brocades. Why was Bu Zhangmen against it?”
Shi JiZhong looked at Guan Xing and dared not to speak at the moment.
Guan Xing slightly frowned.
Hua HuaiXiu looked at Fan JiJing and said, “Do you know?”
Fan JiJing shook his head: “I don’t. When I was young, I rarely practiced martial arts with them.”
Hua HuaiXiu raised his eyebrows in surprise and asked, “Why?”
“Master said that the Hua Family was one of the noble families in the Jiangnan Area. As a descendent of the Hua Family, I should be versed in both the pen and the sword. Therefore, Master hired a lot of teachers for me ever since I was young,” answered Fan JiJing.
Hua HuaiXiu sighed, “Now I know where that pedantic aura of yours comes from.”
Shi JiZhong murmured, “He’s a disciple of the Jiuhua Sect. Why bother studying archaic literature?”
Something came to Hua HuaiXiu’s mind.
What Bu LouLian said seemed to make sense; however, if one pondered upon it carefully, it seemed to be a misguided method of childcare. Whether it was martial arts or literature, specializing in only one of them was the cornerstone to expertise. Trying to be jack-of-all-trades like Fan JiJing, unless they possessed astounding natural talents, one would easily end up empty headed in both fields, achieving nothing.
It reminded him of how Fan JiJing was sent to Wudang to congratulate longevity  right as Bu LouLian chose his mantle disciple. The unspeakable scheme behind it was self-evident.
He immediately pulled a long face and scorned lightly, “It must have been hard for him to be so thoughtful.”
As if Fan JiJing found a confidant in Hua HuaiXiu, “Master and my father were like close brothers. Throughout these years, he paid respects to my father at his tomb every year, rain or shine. His kindness towards me was unmeasurable as well. I will find the murderer for him, no matter what it takes.”
Hua HuaiXiu looked extremely unhappy as if he had just eaten a fly.
Fan JiJing said to Guan Xing, “Eldest shixiong, if you know anything, please tell me immediately.”
Seeing Guan Xing’s eyebrows become somewhat less furrowed, Shi JiZhong instantly opened his mouth and said, “Master never liked fourth shijie.”
“Why is that?”
Hua HuaiXiu and Fan JiJing asked simultaneously.
In their minds, a female disciple in a group of male disciples was like a flower growing in weeds that deserved to be treated like a precious gem. Why did he dislike her instead?
Shi JiZhong explained, “Master often disdained fourth shijie for her clumsiness, but from what I know, fourth shijie took care of all of Master’s daily life. Even Master’s birthday parties were arranged by shijie every year.”
Hua HuaiXiu had always been prejudiced against Bu LouLian, not to mention after the conclusion he made not long ago. Without running the words through his head, he blurted out, “Deep inside, your master might have been hoping for someone who would beat and scold him everyday just to make him feel high.”
Fan JiJing exploded in rage: “Cousin!”
Hua HuaiXiu realized that he had gone too far right after he said it, but seeing Fan JiJing glaring daggers at him, his anger immediately superseded his chagrin. He responded coldly, “And so?”
Fan JiJing glared at him so hard that his eyes became round; his cheeks were puffed from anger as well. It seemed like he wanted to say something but failed to think of anything.
They looked at each other eye-to-eye for a while, then Hua HuaiXiu suddenly felt he looked cute. His face became less tense as he spoke, “Let’s hold on and not talk about other things for now. Regarding your Zhu…Shixiong and ShangGuan Shimei, if they were really together at that time, maybe you can find something through your shimei.”
Fan JiJing was still staring at him with puffing cheeks.
Hua HuaiXiu suddenly smiled faintly and said, “Or…you want to stare at me like this all your life?”
Fan JiJing chose to visit ShangGuan DingNing in the evening.
In fact, ShangGuan DingNing was also a descendent of one of the noble families. Her father, ShangGuan Hong, was the well-known Dongnan Daxia in the martial world, but unfortunately he was assassinated by the Xuetu Sect, leaving her as an orphan. She was then brought to the Jiuhua Sect and given to ShangGuan Hong’s intimate friend, Bu LouLian, to raise her up.
Out of the five of them, only Fan JiJing and ShangGuan DingNing had lost both their parents, and because of this relationship as fellow sufferers, in his mind, she was always somewhat special.
As he walked to the door of ShangGuan DingNing’s room, he heard some rattling sounds of cookwares from the kitchen next to it.
Since Song BoLin accidentally broke into her boudoir last time, ShangGuan DingNing moved to a room alongside the kitchen. Firstly, this room was more remote, thus harder to find, and secondly, it was more convenient for her to prepare meals in the future.
Later, Song BoLin sent another Jiuhua female chef here, claiming that she was only there to serve Hua HuaiXiu while in fact he let her cook meals for everyone.
Fan JiJing stopped in front of the door; just as he was going to knock on it, the door opened from the inside with a squeak.
ShangGuan DingNing stood inside with a smile on her face. She stepped aside and said, “Third shixiong, come in.”
Fan JiJing slightly moved a step as he remembered her relationship with Zhu LiaoDa, then he returned to where he was and said, “There’s no need. I just want to ask you about something.”
“About whether second shixiong was with me that night when Master was killed?” ShangGuan DingNing had been expecting it earlier on.
Fan JiJing looked at her and slowly nodded.
“Yes, he was.” She raised her head. Her small and exquisite face exposed a resolute more determined than that of a man’s.
Fan JiJing let out a sigh of relief: “Why wouldn’t second shixiong say it earlier?” In his opinion, the two of them being together was not a big deal.
“Because,” ShangGuan DingNing said slowly, “we were sleeping on the same bed at the time.”
Long after Fan JiJing had left ShangGuan DingNing’s room, one could still see the shock on his face.
Perhaps, he had left Mount Jiuhua for too long.
Perhaps, it took too much time to root out Lanyan League.
Perhaps…he was indeed too obtuse.
Hua HuaiXiu waved his hand in front of him. “Is knowing your youngest shimei’s heart belongs to someone else such a heavy blow for you that you have lost your wits?”
Fan JiJing slowly focused on him, and remained silent for a while before he spoke: “On the night of the crime, eldest shixiong was with fifth shidi, and second shixiong was with fourth shimei…then who else is still suspicious?”
Hua HuaiXiu said, “Your shishu.”
“But they don’t know how to use ‘Wan Hai Kuang Chao’.”
“Wait two days for me. After two days, I’ll show you something.” A glimpse of light flashed across Hua HuaiXiu’s eyes.
Two days flew by.
Hua HuaiXiu was already waiting by the doors of Fan JiJing’s room when it was still early in the morning. He kidnapped Fan JiJing and brought him to the kitchen immediately after he came out.
When the female chef saw Hua HuaiXiu, her face became so shiny as if she had smeared oil on it. “Hua Gongzi, I have already finished preparing everything that you asked for.” She pointed at the pig in front of the stove.
Hua HuaiXiu nodded in satisfaction, smiled at her, and said, “Thanks.”
As if she had drunk seventeen or eighteen jin  spirits, the female chef waltzed off as light as a feather.
Fan JiJing looked at the pig perplexedly: “You want to eat pork?”
“I just want to show you something,” said Hua HuaiXiu as he took out a poorly forged weapon from his sleeve. It was probably forged too hastily, as its handle section was still untouched and was only wrapped up in a piece of cloth.
Fan JiJing looked at the sword that didn’t seem like a sword. It was more like a weapon formed by inserting two sword blades perpendicularly into each other. “Why did you forge the tip of the sword to be a cross?”
“You should watch from afar.” Hua HuaiXiu waited for him to step away, then slowly pierced the weapon into the pig. He applied internal power onto his hand and started to spiral the weapon rapidly.
Minced meat spattered everywhere. A moment later, a round-cut wound was created.
“…” Fan JiJing’s eyes widened in disbelief.
Hua HuaiXiu said, “Ever since I heard the unique points of ‘Wan Hai Kuang Chao’ from you, I’ve been thinking if there were other ways that could create the same kind of wound. Therefore, I drew a design earlier and asked that chef lady to go down the mountain and find a blacksmith to make it. I’d say it was passable.”
Fan JiJing said numbly, “It looks almost the same.”
Hua HuaiXiu replied sourly, “That’s why I said what he made was merely passable.”
Fan JiJing said, “But this way, everyone is suspicious.”
“That might not be the case.” Hua HuaiXiu stood up and slowly took off the outer robe that was stained with meat, uncloaking the other clean robe inside. “First of all, that person must be familiar with the distinguishing feature of ‘Wan Hai Kuang Chao’. Since even you were not aware of it before, it’s highly unlikely that the other disciples in the Jiuhua Sect would know. Secondly, that person must have the ability to restrain Bu LouLian. Thirdly, that person must have a motive to kill Bu LouLian.”
Fan JiJing said, “Master was the number one martial artist in the Jiuhua Sect.”
Hua HuaiXiu responded, “But two fists cannot contend against four hands. If your two shishu team up, do you think your master can still dodge it if he is taken by surprise?”
Fan JiJing’s mouth moved, but nothing came out.
“As for motive… The death of Bu LouLian will surely bring that person enormous benefits so that he is willing to take such great risks.”
“Enormous benefits?” Fan JiJing blindly followed Hua HuaiXiu’s train of thought.
Hua HuaiXiu enunciated each word carefully: “For example, the position of zhangmen.”
Fan JiJing asked bemusedly, “But Master didn’t make a will about who would succeed him as zhangmen.”
“It’s true that he didn’t make a will, but the zhangmen position of the Jiuhua Sect has always been passed to the mantle disciple.”
“But there are three this time…” Fan JiJing asked in surprise, “You mean eldest shixiong?”
Although there were three mantle disciples, Guan Xing was certainly the most qualified one judging by no matter their credentials, martial skills, or prestige.
Hua HuaiXiu shook his head and said, “Did you forget whom your shishu suspected to be the murderer?”
He certainly did not forget: “Eldest shixiong, second shixiong, and fifth shidi.”
Hua HuaiXiu said, “After the elimination of the three accomplished disciples of Bu LouLian, the position of zhangmen can only fall to his shidi.”
Fan JiJing stared at him in a daze.
At first, Hua HuaiXiu was delighted and thought Fan JiJing was just bowled over by his talents and cleverness. However, as time passed by, he felt more and more strongly that the expression in his eyes did not seem like he was “bowled over”, but more like he was going to…keel over.
“If this is true,” Fan JiJing said, “then the most suspicious one is not Song Shishu.”
“Why?” Hua HuaiXiu thought his deduction was flawless, as if it was inspired by heaven.
“Because besides eldest shixiong, second shixiong, and fifth shixiong, the person who is most likely to succeed as zhangmen…” Fan JiJing said slowly, “is me.”
Hua HuaiXiu was speechless. “……” He had taken into consideration almost everyone in his reasoning, except for Fan JiJing.
- Shijie: Sect Sister (Senior), also known as Senior Fellow Disciple (Female). [back]
- An action of attending an elder’s birthday party and wish him/her longevity. [back]
- Jin: a unit of weight, equals to approximately 1/2 kilograms. [back]