FRS: Chapter 6 – Unknown Murderer (6)
Translator: Momoe Pom
First Published on Ainushi.
The rule of the Jiuhua Sect had always been to “Pass it onto the disciples, not the brothers.” If Guan Xing, Zhu LiaoDa, and Shi JiZhong really turned out to be the murderers who killed their master, Fan JiJing and ShangGuan DingNing would become the only two remaining disciples of Bu LouLian. ShangGuan DingNing was a woman, and she was also Fan JiJing’s shimei. Even though there was no such rule as “Pass it onto the males, not the females,” the Jiuhua Sect never had a female zhangmen throughout its history. In this case, Fan JiJing was indeed the candidate who was most likely to succeed as zhangmen.
“But you don’t know how to use Xianlian Sword.” After thinking for a long period of time, this was the only justification that Hua HuaiXiu could come up with.
Fan JiJing explained, “The script of Xianlian Sword has been enshrined right in the ancestral hall. If some mishap really happens to zhangmen before he can appoint the mantle disciple, then we are allowed to take it out.”
Hua HuaiXiu frowned. Originally, he believed his reasoning to be flawless and fairly close to the truth, but now it seemed like the truth was still hidden in fog.
He thought of another one. “But you were not in the Jiuhua Sect at the time.”
Fan JiJing looked at him and said, “It seems like you are trying to exonerate me?”
Hua HuaiXiu glared at him. He was only an inch away from giving Fan JiJing a hole on his body with the cross-tipped sword in his hand.
Fan JiJing cluelessly looked back at him.
A moment later.
Hua HuaiXiu was defeated. He humphed, “I’m just considering the matter as it stands!”
Fan JiJing said, “Good and evil will be paid off in the end, and the truth will eventually come to light. Cousin, you don’t need to worry about it so needlessly.”
He worried needlessly?!
Hua HuaiXiu’s accumulated vexation over these days suddenly erupted! He looked at Fan JiJing, then at the pig on the ground. Then he rapidly turned around and walked outside: “I’m calling the chef lady to come in and chop it up for dinner!”
Fan JiJing stopped him in haste: “This is an exhibit. It can prove that Master might not have been killed by ‘Wan Hai Kuang Chao’.”
Hua HuaiXiu stopped. He turned his head back and casted a sidelong glance: “Then have everyone aim their spears at you?”
Fan JiJing said solemnly, “An innocent man will be proven innocent eventually. I believe that retribution will eventually find the people who deserve it.”
“…Up to you.” Hua HuaiXiu dropped the three words coldly and left.
“Where are you going?” asked Fan JiJing, following after him.
Hua HuaiXiu replied without even turning his head. “To seduce the chef lady.”
Fan JiJing was left speechless. “…”
As expected, right after Hua HuaiXiu’s finding was made public, it caused a stir.
In this way, Song BoLin and Wu ChangBo now also became suspects, naturally reducing the suspicions on Guan Xing and the others greatly.
Zhu LiaoDa’s face almost lighted up with pleasure.
On the contrary, Song BoLin and Wu ChangBo looked absolutely composed, as if they were not surprised by this result at all.
Song BoLin looked at Fan JiJing and asked, “What is your opinion?”
Fan JiJing glanced around, then spoke with a low voice. “I believe that whether the murderer knows how to use ‘Wan Hai Kuang Chao’ or not, he surely is familiar with the wound that it creates.”
Wu ChangBo said, “If you have something in mind, then just say it.”
Fan JiJing said, “I dare to ask that on the day of the crime, where were both shishu at?”
Song BoLin’s eyes widened. Just as he was going to lose his temper, he heard Wu ChangBo’s voice. “Umm, you are just as straightforward as your Song Shishu.”
Song BoLin humphed, “I’m not as bad-mannered as him.”
Wu ChangBo said, “But that’s not what our Master said before.”
Song BoLin asked ferociously, “Do you have to disagree with me on everything?”
Wu ChangBo replied, “I’m just stating it as it stands.”
Fan JiJing cut in: “Could both shishu please tell me?”
Wu ChangBo cleared his throat and said, “I was practicing martial arts in my room.”
Song BoLin sneered, “Practicing? More like sleeping I believe?”
Wu ChangBo asked in return, “What were you doing then?”
Song BoLin’s face became stiff, and his voice was even stiffer: “Practicing.”
Wu ChangBo gave a loud laugh.
Fan JiJing asked, “Are there any witnesses that can prove both shishu’s words?”
“Who would ask others to watch them while they are slee…practicing?” retorted Song BoLin snappishly.
Fan JiJing frowned as he said, “But eldest shixiong and the others all had witnesses.”
Song BoLin’s eyes traveled coldly among Guan Xing and the others. Then he said, “If there is more than one murderer, then it won’t be surprising at all.”
The expressions on Zhu LiaoDa and the others’ faces were all distorted by his words. Even Guan Xing, who had always been composed, showed a trace of anger on his face.
The air inside the hall instantly condensed into ice.
Zhu LiaoDa suddenly broke the silence. “From Mount Pini back to Mount Jiuhua, it seems like you spent a half month longer than usual for the trip.”
Hua HuaiXiu, who had been leaning against the door leaf with his arms crossed, slightly straightened his back. It had finally begun.
Fan JiJing responded, “I caught a severe illness back in Jiangzhou. Therefore, I was delayed by half a month.”
Zhu LiaoDa said, “Jiangzhou? That place is not very far from Mount Jiuhua. If one hurries with all his might, it’s possible to make a round trip within twenty days.”
Led by his words, everyone’s eyes fell on Fan JiJing.
Hua HuaiXiu said flatly, “But before this, who was able to tell him what Xianlian Sword is like?”
Zhu LiaoDa failed to respond.
Hua HuaiXiu continued, “Besides, I can testify on his behalf.”
Hearing what he said, Fan JiJing couldn’t help but shoot him a glance.
Zhu LiaoDa still held a grudge against Fan JiJing and his interrogation from last time; he sneered, “You two are cousins. Of course you would cover up for him.”
Hua HuaiXiu replied, “According to what you’ve said, you and ShangGuan DingNing can hardly testify for each other as well.”
Zhu LiaoDa’s face turned pale. It was as if he didn’t expect that after pushing the blame back and forth that his actions would backfire on himself.
Shi JiZhong mumbled, “This is great. After all these roundabout speculations, it turns out that there isn’t even one person that’s completely clean.”
“How presumptuous!” Song BoLin bellowed.
Wu ChangBo tried to smooth things over: “The heavens are fair, evil will be brought to justice. The murderer will have definitely left traces somewhere.”
Nonetheless, everyone knew what he said was only mere comfort.
The unsolved or even undetected cases in this world were as numerous as a school of silver carps moving down a stream; not to mention that Bu LouLian’s case was indeed very queer, as it happened without any signs beforehand.
The case was still lingering around in Hua HuaiXiu’s mind as he walked back to his room.
If it’s impossible to start with the case itself, then we have to…
He turned around abruptly and saw Fan JiJing following in his footsteps.
“Why are you following me?” asked Hua HuaiXiu with a cold face.
Fan JiJing said, “I want to talk to you.”
“Talk?” Hua HuaiXiu raised his eyebrows: “There’s nothing to talk about with someone who worries needlessly like me.” Even though his words were harsh and bitter, he was busy wondering what Fan JiJing was going to talk about. Was he coming to thank him for testifying for him just now? His face relaxed unconsciously at the thought.
“Only if Cousin can promise to not tell others about Master’s death. I want to ask shishu to give you permission to leave.”
Fan JiJing’s words quickly dragged down the corners of Hua HuaiXiu mouth just as he was going to curve it up. His pupils were as cold as ice from anger: “You say it again.”
Fan JiJing slowly opened his mouth. “Only if Cousin can promise to not tell others about Master’s…”
Before he could finish, Hua HuaiXiu’s fist was already in front of his face!
Fan JiJing slightly turned his head and grabbed the fist with his hand.
“Let go!” Hua HuaiXiu glared at him. His fair face was burning red with anger; it was as bright as the blooming peach blossoms in March.
There seemed to be faint waves in Fan JiJing’s eyes. He sighed, “Cousin…”
Hua HuaiXiu repeatedly glanced at his hand that was being restrained: “Let go.”
Fan JiJing had to release it.
Without any hesitation, Hua HuaiXiu gave him another punch.
Fan JiJing unconsciously grabbed it again.
The two pairs of eyes met.
Hua HuaiXiu said sourly, “Do you have to grab it?”
Fan JiJing replied, “Only if you don’t punch me again.”
Hua HuaiXiu was silent for a moment, then said, “Let me go. I won’t punch.”
Fan JiJing let go of his hand.
Hua HuaiXiu stomped on his his foot, then pressed his lips together and said, “I’ll tread this time.”
Fan JiJing could not do anything besides give his boot a look, which now had an obvious footprint on it. “Cousin.”
“Follow me.” Without waiting for him to say something that might irritate him even more, Hua HuaiXiu pushed open the door and walked straight in.
Fan JiJing let out a sigh and followed after him.
Hua HuaiXiu took out the tea set, then started to fuss around with them.
Fan JiJing stood on the side.
Hua HuaiXiu said slowly, “Since it’s impossible for us to start with the case itself, let’s start with the murderer’s motive then.”
Fan JiJing was dazed for a moment before he asked, “Aren’t I the one with the strongest motive?”
Hua HuaiXiu shot him an irritated glare as he responded, “Do you really want to be the murderer that badly?”
Without waiting for him to finish, Hua HuaiXiu cut straight in: “Don’t you feel that all of your shidi and shishu are too indifferent towards your master’s death?”
Fan JiJing frowned in silence.
“On one hand, he was their fellow disciple, and on the other, he was their respected master; but now they all treat him as if they were mere strangers.” Hua HuaiXiu’s eyes became serious. “There must be a reason behind it.”