FRS: Chapter 12 – Unknown Truth (3)
Translator: Momoe Pom
Quality Check: Kai
First Published on Ainushi.
Fan JiJing dumbly followed up with a question: “What kind of improper desires?”
Laughter flashed across Guan Xing’s eyes, then he looked at Hua HuaiXiu.
Hua HuaiXiu turned his head while making a few dry coughs.
Fan JiJing looked perplexedly at the two of them. Suddenly, he realized something and hurriedly added, “Well, it’s not like we are dead things with no sympathy. As long as it doesn’t stand in the way of others, whether it’s a man or a woman isn’t a big concern.”
Right after he started to talk, he saw Hua HuaiXiu staring at him with sparkling eyes. He immediately explained superfluously: “If eldest shixiong and fifth shidi are fond of each other, it will be a nice thing.”
“But after Master knew about it, he flew into a rage like a thunder.” Guan Xing let out a sigh and pulled up his sleeve, revealing a sword wound on his arm. “This wound was inflicted by Master.”
Hua HuaiXiu asked, “Was it because that you insisted to not give up on Shi JiZhong that your Master wanted to kill him?”
Guan Xing’s pupils slightly contracted, faintly revealing a sign of self-condemnation. He shook his head and answered, “No. I swore to Master on that day that I would desist my thoughts for fifth shidi henceforth.”
Fan JiJing asked with confusion, “If that was the case, why did Master still decide to teach fifth shidi the incomplete Xianlian Sword?”
Hua HuaiXiu darted him a sour glance and said, “Is a relationship something you can give up on just by saying so?”
Fan JiJing said, “But eldest shixiong had already sworn.”
Hua HuaiXiu said, “If I swear to you that I will not like you anymore, that would surely be a lie as well.”
Fan JiJing’s face suffused auburn, like the color of livers.
Guan Xing was not the even slightly surprised by Hua HuaiXiu’s sudden confession. “You’re right. The only reason why I swore was because of my fear of Master harming fifth shidi, but if Master really intended to do so, how was my little oath able to stop him? Afterwards, when he said that he would teach us three Xianlian Sword at the same time, I sensed something queer about it.”
All of a sudden, Hua HuaiXiu interrupted: “It seems like you were always on guard against your master?”
Guan Xing looked at Fan JiJing meaningfully.
Fan JiJing sighed, “Master was always strict with his disciples.”
He said it euphemistically, but how could the two people here not understand what he had implied?
Guan Xing said, “Master taught each of us the Xianlian Sword separately, saying that he wanted to test our talent in learning martial arts. But I knew it could not be that simple, so I asked fifth shidi to show me what he had learned in private and thus found out that Master did not teach him the last move. I had asked Master several times, beating around the bush, and finally learned that the last moves were the finishing moves. If one doesn’t learn them before practicing, it can easily cause them to lose control over their qi.”
Hua HuaiXiu softly gave his forehead a few knocks with his fingers. “After hearing this, I would say that your master really gave much thought to it.”
Fan JiJing asked, “Gave much thought to it?”
Hua HuaiXiu replied, “He made such a roundabout just to harm his own disciples, can you say that he hadn’t given much thought to it?”
Guan Xing said, “Master has always valued his reputation greatly. Not to mention a crime as serious as killing one’s own disciples, even for a minor misunderstanding, he would usually explain it over and over till the other party agrees to never mention it again.”
Hua HuaiXiu slowly put down his hands and rested them on the table, but his eyes remained fixated on Guan Xing. He said steadily, “But in this way, your motive for murdering your master becomes quite clear.”
As long as Bu LouLian was alive, not only could Guan Xing not be together with Shi JiZhong, but even Shi JiZhong’s life was in danger. Under such pressure, both Guan Xing and Shi JiZhong had motives to kill Bu LouLian.
Guan Xing nodded without changing his expression: “I’ve already thought it through before I came. I’m not the murderer, but neither do I have evidence to prove it for sure.”
Hua HuaiXiu’s face suddenly relaxed as he laughed: “Actually, I’m willing to believe in you.”
Guan Xing said, “To me, the position of zhangmen is only something of little value. But if I say that I don’t want it, there were indeed a few years when I looked forward to it; if I say I want it, it’s actually a hot potato.”
“A hot potato?” Hua HuaiXiu listened carefully.
Guan Xing explained, “There is only one position of zhangmen, but there’s more than just one person coveting it.”
Fan JiJing said, “Perhaps, second shixiong is just momentarily confused right now.”
“It’s not just him,” said Hua HuaiXiu. “Don’t forget that I mentioned your shishu before as well.”
Guan Xing fell silent, which equaled acquiescence.
Fan JiJing asked uncertainly, “Then what should we do?”
Guan Xing pondered for a long time, then slowly opened his mouth: “I don’t have proof of my innocence, but shishu and second shidi don’t either.”
Hua HuaiXiu felt a sudden pulse in his heart, as if he had thought of something. The pair of his slender eyebrows immediately wrung into a twist.
Guan Xing turned a blind eye to him and continued, “The succession of the position of zhangmen permits no delay, but at the same time we can’t let anyone in suspicion get their way. After thinking over it a couple times, there’s only one solution.”
Hua HuaiXiu uttered abruptly, “No way!”
Guan Xing looked at him apathetically.
Hua HuaiXiu said, “Even if you agree, you shishu might not agree.”
Guan Xing replied leisurely, “You are not my shishu, how can you tell whether they’ll agree or not?”
Hua HuaiXiu asked, “Didn’t you just say that they had ambitions as well?”
“Wasn’t I the same? But when the time comes, one has to admit their defeat.” Guan Xing looked at Fan JiJing: “Third shidi, what do you think?”
Fan JiJing looked at Hua HuaiXiu, then Guan Xing, and stayed in a daze for a while before he could speak again. “Eldest shixiong, don’t tell me that you are saying…”
“To make you the successor of zhangmen,” Guan Xing said sonorously and forcefully.
Hua HuaiXiu felt his heart sinking heavily.
One following the other, they walked along a path surrounded by flowers.
It was already deep into the night.
Hua HuaiXiu slowed down his steps intentionally or unintentionally but noticed that Fan JiJing never caught up. In the end, he could not help but stop completely and look at him helplessly.
Fan JiJing also stood where he was, glancing back innocently.
Hua HuaiXiu asked, “Why don’t you come closer?”
Fan JiJing replied, “The path is too narrow. I’ll step on the plants by the sides.”
In fact, even though the path was narrow, it was not impossible for two people to walk on it side by side, although there would be some shoulder-knockings for sure.
Hua HuaiXiu curled his lips and said, “Have you made your decision for that thing?”
Fan JiJing said in a low voice, as if he was begging for mercy: “Cousin.”
“You really want to be zhangmen?” Hua HuaXiu’s heart tightened.
There was a second of blankness on Fan JiJing’s face, but he then murmured, “I don’t know.”
Hua HuaiXiu turned around in a self-mocking way: “As a disciple of Jiuhua, how can you possibly not want to become zhangmen?” Originally, he thought Fan JiJing was going to argue about it. In his mind, Fan JiJing was not the kind of person that coveted fame, wealth, power or influence. In fact, the Fan JiJing in his eyes had always been a silly person. But this time, no reply had come from behind him for a long time.
He looked at the flowers along the roadsides.
The red flowers and green leaves were hiding within the dark night and had somehow become one in color, making it impossible to distinguish them.
The sound of hurried footsteps came from the other side. Although a vague figure still, both Fan JiJing and Hua HuaiXiu recognised that it was a disciple of Song BoLin.
Hua HuaiXiu thought of something quickly and held back the gloating feelings that quickly crowded upon his mind as he said in a low voice, “Maybe your shishu has received some news.”
Fan JiJing replied under his breath as well: “Cousin doesn’t want me to be the zhangmen?”
Those two words were so close from escaping his tongue.
But seeing that the disciple had already come close, Hua HuaiXiu had to change his words ambiguously: “I’m just worried that you’ll have a hard time adapting.” The internal relationships in the Jiuhua Sect were probably too complicated for Fan JiJing to control.
The disciple walked up to the two and saluted: “Fan Shixiong. Shishu invites you over.”
Hua HuaiXiu motioned with the raise of his eyebrows.
The disciple replied respectfully, “Master only invited Fan shixiong, not Hua Gongzi.”
Hua HuaiXiu asked, “I just want to ask that it’s really late already, Song Daxia hasn’t slept yet?”
The disciple said, “Master is still waiting for Fan Shixiong.”
Hua HuaiXiu said, “By the way, I was just thinking about taking a walk to the residence in the back. I hope Song Daxia doesn’t mind.”
The disciple went blank for a moment, then said, “But it’s really late already…”
“Isn’t Song Daxia still awake as well?”
The disciple turned to look at Fan JiJing for help.
Not knowing what to do with him, Fan JiJing just called, “Cousin.”
Hua HuaiXiu looked with askance at him. Under the moonlight, his bright countenance showed somewhat a chill that was not usually seen on him.
The rejection that was already on Fan JiJing’s tongue was forcibly changed into an invitation: “Let’s go together.”
The corner of Hua HuaiXiu’s mouth curved up as he was unspeakably pleased with himself.
Fan JiJing shrank his shoulders, brushed past him, and walked ahead to lead the way.
Hua HuaiXiu said it was a casual walk, but in fact his legs never stopped going around Song BoLin’s residence in circles.
It had been one incense worth of time since Fan JiJing went in. Usually he would not be concerned, but since Song BoLin asked to see him in such a haste right after Guan Xing mentioned about electing him as the next zhangmen. Although he might’ve not known about the conversation they had with Guan Xing, one should always guard against evil intentions from others, especially in places with strange atmospheres like the Jiuhua Sect.
Many thoughts flashed across his mind. For example, what if Song BoLin was indeed the murderer and wanted to kill Fan JiJing? Or what would be the best way to rescue him if Fan JiJing called for help from inside?
Just as he became increasingly more restless from all these imaginations, the door opened from inside with a creak.
Fan JiJing slowly came out from there.
Hua HuaiXiu’s heart lightened. As he was about to come out from the corner however, his body suddenly froze the moment he lifted his foot.
Under the moonlight, Fan JiJing was pacing out slowly with his back to Song BoLin’s room. There were faint traces of a smile both in his eyes and at the corner of his lips.
He could not tell exactly the meaning behind that smile, though it certainly was neither simple nor honest.