FRS: Chapter 8 – Unknown Murderer (8)
Translator: Momoe Pom
Quality Check: Kittsune
First Published on Ainushi.
Hua HuaiXiu stood agape as he listened. If Guan Xing’s words were in fact the truth, then it could be said that Bu LouLian intentionally tried to kill Shi JiZhong and Zhu LiaoDa. What kind of grudge could they have between them that would lead to a master wanting to kill his own disciple despite their decades of master-disciple relationship?
He could not imagine. Although his father was enraged by his escape from the marriage arrangement, he would never drive him towards death.
Fan JiJing was obviously stunned by the truth. He cried out “eldest shixiong” feebly a few times, but said nothing after.
Guan Xing was not surprised by how far he had lost himself. He had experienced the exact same phase before.
Since Hua HuaiXiu was an outsider in this case, he collected himself quickly from the initial astonishment and seized the occasion to ask, “Do you know the reason?”
Shi JiZhong pivoted his head in silence. He raised his hand as if he was going to wipe the corner of his eyes.
Guan Xing slightly turned his body to block Fan JiJing and Hua HuaiXiu’s line of sight for him.
A moment later, Shi JiZhong turned back his head, revealing a face that looked a bit dry: “I have asked myself and can answer with a clear conscious that I have always treated Master as my blood-related elder ever since I was young without a single thought of disrespect. I too have no idea why Master would treat me like this.”
Fan JiJing instantly thought of something: “Does second shixiong know about this?”
Shi JiZhong’s face froze.
Guan Xing answered with a poker face: “I have reminded him implicitly, but he didn’t take it to heart.”
At first, Hua HuaiXiu only felt everyone in the Jiuhua Sect was indifferent; but now, it was just bizarre.
Master tried to harm his disciples in all possible ways, and shixiong looked cold-heartedly at shidi’s life and death as well. The only normal person was Fan JiJing, yet Hua HuaiXiu suddenly felt that a person like him was actually the oddity in a sect like this, as he was incompatible with the entire Jiuhua Sect.
After hearing Guan Xing’s words, Fan JiJing became anxious as expected: “I’ll go tell second shixiong.”
Guan Xing’s lips moved a bit, but he was able to hold back in the end.
Hua HuaiXiu kept an eye on him and asked, “How can you prove that you only stayed in the garden and didn’t go to other places?”
“I can’t.” Guan Xing answered honestly. “Just like how you had no way to verify whether we were really chatting in our rooms or not.”
Normally, Hua HuaiXiu would admire his honesty, but at the moment, no matter how he looked, he could only see provocation from his expression. As the story Suspecting Others of Stealing the Axe  states, when you suspect someone, you would find every move of theirs shady regardless of their deeds.
Shi JiZhong suddenly spit out a sentence: “We did not kill Bu LouLian.”
The way he referred to Bu LouLian by name directly instead of calling him Master like before revealed the amount of hatred that had already accumulated inside him. Originally, he had at least worn a disguise, but since the disguise was torn, the emotions buried deep inside his heart were now exposed to the light.
Fan JiJing said in a low voice, “Perhaps Master had his own difficulties.”
Shi JiZhong stared at him, as if trying to find the tiniest bit of insincerity on his face. However, after staring for a long time, what he saw was only the determination hidden under Fan JiJing’s bewildered expression, as if his respect to his master was already rooted in his heart so deeply that nothing could ever shake it.
Guan Xing said, “A man dies the way a lamp goes out. Whatever he has done while he was alive, there’s no need to go after it now.”
“But there’s a need to find out who the murderer is,” said Hua HuaiXiu.
Guan Xing looked at him with eyes as cold as ice.
The fairness and elegance of Hua HuaiXiu’s countenance hardly had an equal in this world, but Guan Xing looked at him in a way that was no different from looking at a piece of wood.
Fan JiJing couldn’t stand it anymore. He took a step forward and pulled Hua HuaiXiu back one step. Then he said, “Eldest shixiong, I hope you really live up to what you just said.”
The cold light in his eyes vanished. Guan Xing glanced at him indifferently and said, “Although I am not the murderer, I admire the one who is.”
Fan JiJing’s face stiffened, but Guan Xing turned around and walked towards the garden.
Shi JiZhong followed him, but after a few steps, he turned back his head: “I don’t know who is the murderer, but I think he must have had his own difficulties.”
After the two of them left, Hua HuaiXiu and Fan JiJing stood where they were, both in a daze.
Hua HuaiXiu was staring at Fan JiJing’s hand which was holding his arm, while Fan JiJing was staring in the direction the two of them had headed off to.
A long time passed.
Fan JiJing couldn’t help but to put down his hand, perhaps because he was tired, but Hua HuaiXiu caught it right away.
“Cousin?” Fan JiJing looked at the overlapping hands with a puzzled expression.
Hua HuaiXiu gave a few dry coughs, raised Fan JiJing’s hand, then asked, “When was the last time you cut your nails?”
Fan JiJing didn’t catch his words for a moment. He blinked a total of seven or eight times before he could answer. “Three days ago.”
“No wonder they are so long.” Hua HuaiXiu lied right to his face, then set his hand free and changed the subject. “What were you thinking just now?”
Fan JiJing let out a faint sigh and said, “I was thinking maybe I shouldn’t find the murderer.”
Hua HuaiXiu raised his eyebrows: “Because of what your eldest shixiong and fifth shidi said?”
Fan JiJing replied, “Maybe that person really had his own difficulties.”
“What kind of person do you think your master is?” asked Hua HuaiXiu.
He was expecting a speech from Fan JiJing blabbering on how kindly his master had treated him, but after a long wait, he only found himself greeted by a face full of stress.
“Wavering now?” Hua HuaiXiu sounded happy.
Fan JiJing slowly raised his head. His furrowed eyebrows smoothed out little by little. “By the end of the day, my thoughts are still just mine.”
Hua HuaiXiu sighed. He still couldn’t think out of the box.
“Not to mention, murder is never the right solution.”
“Bu LouLian was the leader of a sect.” Hua HuaiXiu said, “Just like your shidi, even though he clearly knew that the martial arts your master taught him was questionable, he could only be angry and not voice it out. Not only was he unable to reveal the truth, but he also needed to constantly look out for your master’s next move. If he is the murderer, isn’t this also an act of self-defense?”
Fan JiJing said, “But why would Master try to kill him?”
“Actually, there is something. I don’t know if I should tell you or not.” Hua HuaiXiu said slowly.
Fan JiJing looked at him with stars in his eyes.
“I’m afraid you are going to be mad again if I say it.”
Fan JiJing’s eyes slightly dimmed: “Are you going to speak ill of Master again?”
Hearing him using the word “again”, Hua HuaiXiu propped his head on his elbow and started to count how many ill remarks he had given so far.
“If it’s helpful to the case…” Fan JiJing struggled, “then say it implicitly.”
Hua HuaiXiu wondered what the appropriate degree of implicit would be as he spoke slowly, “I’m just thinking that if it’s a dispute between two people, then one of them could be at fault or both of them could be at fault. But if different people have different disputes with the same person, then it’s most likely that person’s fault.”
Listening to him winding back and forth, Fan JiJing was completely befuddled by his words: “What is Cousin trying to say?”
“Maybe your master is…” Remembering how Fan JiJing had demanded him to say it implicitly, Hua HuaiXiu finally came up with something a while later: “Not very well liked.”
Fan JiJing was speechless.
Hua HuaiXiu continued, “At least we now know that out of the five disciples of his, except you, the rest all have motives to kill him. The two shishu of yours kept saying that they wanted to find the murderer in front of everyone. However, from what I observed in their demeanors, instead of doing your master justice wholeheartedly, they were more like…”
“More like what?”
Hua HuaiXiu muttered, “More like fishermen.”
“When the snipe and the clam grapple, it is the fisherman who profits.” Hua HuaiXiu said, “Now that the snipe has already eaten the clam, all the fisherman wants to do is catch that snipe when the chance arrives.”
“Shishu, they…” Fan JiJing wanted to make an argument but felt like there was nothing he could start with.
Hua HuaiXiu thought for a moment, then suddenly said, “By the way, I remember you once said that you had three shishu. Where’s the other one?”
“The other one is Bian Shishu. He has been in seclusion since I was young and pays no heed to worldly matters now,” Fan JiJing explained while frowning.
“Do you know why?” Hua HuaiXiu suddenly had an indescribable feeling, as if everything happened in the Jiuhua Sect was somewhat related to Bu LouLian who was already dead. When he was alive, these things were like seeds buried underground, and after he died, they finally started to sprout and appear under the sun.
Fan JiJing said, “Master said that Bian Shishu has a natural disposition of never striving against anything, therefore he doesn’t like to walk about in the sect.”
“What is worthy enough to strive for in your sect?” Hua HuaiXiu felt there was more to it than what Bu LouLian had said.
When Fan JiJing first heard Bu LouLian say that sentence, he never thought much of it, but now after Hua HuaiXiu had brought it up in such a way, he felt that it was a bit strange as well.
Hua HuaiXiu shook his head: “I feel like we haven’t found the real end of the thread yet.”
“The real end of the thread?”
“For example…” He paused for a moment before continuing: “How many murderers are there?”
Fan JiJing froze.
A mountain-keeper disciple of the Jiuhua Sect hurried over and said, “Fan Shixiong. Hua Gongzi.”
Fan JiJing was a bit over-anxious recently. He asked nervously, “What’s the matter?”
The keeper disciple said, “There is a young miss outside looking for Hua Gongzi.”
“A young miss?” Hua HuaiXiu’s fine eyebrows furrowed into a knot.
Fan JiJing asked, “What’s the young miss’ family name?”
The keeper disciple replied, “Lü.”
- The phrase means suspecting others without sound evidence, implying that prejudice can become an obstacle that blocks one’s perception from the objective truth. It is derived from a story. One day, a person lost his axe. He suspected the neighbor’s kid had stolen it, so he began to observe the kid. The way the kid walked was suspicious; the way the kid looked was suspicious; the way the kid spoke was suspicious. In a way, the kid’s every move looked suspicious to him. Not long after, he found his axe inside a pit. The truth was he had forgotten it there himself. From that day on, he didn’t suspect the kid anymore. [back]