FRS: Chapter 14 – Unknown Truth (5)
Translator: Momoe Pom
Quality Check: Kai
First Published on Ainushi.
With the Martial Artists’ Grand Convention nearing, Song BoLin seized every moment to inform the other sects in the martial world about zhangmen’s passing and Fan JiJing’s succession as the new zhangmen.
The fact that Bu LouLian was murdered on Mount Jiuhua was indeed dishonorable. Song BoLin intentionally ordered the messenger disciples to prolong their journey on the road for a few days so that he could take the opportunity to plan Bu LouLian’s funeral and the ceremony for Fan JiJing’s succession on the same day, with the former in the morning and the latter in the afternoon. This way, by the time the disciples from the other sects came to offer their condolences, everything would be settled already and they wouldn’t give themselves away.
On this day, the Jiuhua Sect was extremely busy.
Aside from Hua HuaiXiu, everyone was busily rushing about, either coming from there or going from here.
With people shouting occasionally in between—
“Song Shibo said we need to change the coffin!”
“Fifth shishu said to gather all disciples to wail at the funeral!”
“Where did the zhangmen’s remains go?”
“Where was the candlestick that I just put here?”
Hua HuaiXiu walked slowly to the entrance of the mourning hall. There were bursts of loud wailing and chanting sounds coming out from inside.
The mourning hall was indeed filled with kneeling people, each burying their heads in their chests. The monks were chanting at the front of the hall.
Guan Xing and the other disciples from the direct line were kneeling in the forefront, all dressed in their mourning apparel. The white hats were worn very low, making it hard for others to see their expressions.
When the disciples of the Jiuhua Sect saw Hua HuaiXiu arrive, their cries were suddenly boosted, instantly submerging the chanting sounds into a sea of wailings.
Hua HuaiXiu bowed before the altar and offered incenses.
Even though he still had a lot of dissatisfaction and disdain towards Bu LouLian, seeing a scene like this, a small amount of pity unavoidably sprouted in his heart. In the funeral after his death, eight or nine out of ten people who came to mourn for him were suspects of his murder, including the disciples he had raised and the apprentices he had educated wholeheartedly… How ironic was this? And how pathetic was this?
Hua HuaiXiu let out a sigh and slowly turned to Guan Xing and the others.
Out of the five of them, only Fan JiJing and ShangGuan DingNing returned with a bow.
Hua HuaiXiu left the mourning hall and returned to his own room. He lit up an incense and started to boil tea, hoping the gesture would pacify the disgust and distaste in his chest that was invoked by that roomful of cunning schemes and hypocrisy.
No one knew how much time had passed.
A rat-a-tat came at the door.
Hua HuaiXiu recovered himself. Looking at the tea that had already turned into a pot of mess in his hands, he sighed softly and stood up to open the door.
Fan JiJing was outside, holding a tray in his hands with some vegetarian dishes and rice on top of it.
Hua HuaiXiu turned around and sat back by the table. “Today is your day to celebrate. How do you have the time to come by my place?”
Fan JiJing said with a bitter smile, “You make it sound as if I’m about to get married.”
Hua HuaiXiu replied, “That’s just a matter of sooner or later.” He did not try in the least to gloss over the sourness in his words.
Fan JiJing did not continue on that topic. He came in and put the tray in front of Hua HuaiXiu: “I heard that you didn’t eat anything this morning, so I brought you your favorite dishes.”
“Do you even know what I like?” In spite of what he said, Hua HuaiXiu’s eyes turned to the tray.
Fan JiJing pointed to the vegetarian eight-treasures on it: “I remember fighting you over this dish when I was young.“
The tense face that Hua HuaiXiu had been wearing ever since Fan JiJing had come in finally relaxed a little. He twitched his mouth: “You still remember?”
Fan JiJing said, “My father lectured me for a long time after I went back.”
Hua HuaiXiu could not hide the smile in his eyes. He picked up the chopsticks and said, “Me too.”
As if the invisible river that spanned between them had narrowed, the distance between them was slightly shortened as well.
Seeing there was only one pair of chopsticks, Hua HuaiXiu asked, “Are you not eating?”
Fan JiJing replied, “I’ll eat together with eldest shixiong and the others.”
The water in the invisible river suddenly rose tremendously.
Hua HuaiXiu’s face turned cold again.
“Cousin.” Fan JiJing said gently, “After you finish eating, you should start heading down the mountain. It’ll be difficult once it gets dark.”
Hua HuaiXiu slapped the chopsticks onto the table and stared at him coldly. “Are you afraid that I’ll implicate you?”
Fan JiJing seemed to be stunned for a moment before he asked, “Why is that?”
“Letting me stay here would be offending both the Attendant Gentleman of the Ministry of Rites and the Hua Family at the same time. Since you have just succeeded as the zhangmen of the Jiuhua Sect, it’s reasonable that you don’t want to make strong enemies for yourself. I won’t blame you for it.” Even though his mouth was saying “I won’t blame you”, his eyes were glaring at Fan JiJing ferociously.
Fan JiJing sighed, “Cousin, you’re being oversensitive.”
“Then why are you driving me out of Mount Jiuhua over and over again?” This was what confused Hua HuaiXiu the most. If he wanted to succeed as zhangmen and thus was unwilling to be involved with him, then he could totally reject him. If he did have feelings for him, then why would he insist on pushing him away?
The sound of someone calling came from outside.
Fan JiJing looked back, then said, “Shishu is looking for me. I have to go, but I’ll come again tonight.”
Hua HuaiXiu buried his head into the meal and said nothing.
Fan JiJing let out a sigh. He turned around and walked out, softly closing the doors behind him.
After he left, Hua HuaiXiu lifted his head. The heart that had already been gradually pacified and settled was now once again tumbling into a tempestuous storm. Previously, he could at least deceive himself into believing that Fan JiJing was still that slow-witted and silly Fan JiJing, but now he was no longer able to do so.
No matter how he looked, it seemed that Fan JiJing has been hiding a gutful of concerns and secrets.
Hua HuaiXiu reached out with his chopsticks and put a bite of the vegetarian eight-treasures into his mouth, then frowned: “What I liked was indeed only the skills of the Sanwei Restaurant’s chef.”
The funeral was in the morning, and the succession ceremony was in the afternoon.
The Jiuhua Sect as busy as a market. One of the disciples even had a grain of rice by the corner of his mouth when he rushed into the main hall.
Fan JiJing was wearing a silver headpiece and a loose robe that was an unique piece of clothing to the zhangmen of the Jiuhua Sect. Under everyone’s attention, he slowly walked into the hall.
Song BoLin, standing in front of the lingwei of all former zhangmen of the Jiuhua Sect, personally entrusted the script of Xianlian Sword and the status symbol of zhangmen, the Xianlian Sword itself , into Fan JiJing’s hands.
Fan JiJing bowed three times in reverence, then stood up.
“We respectfully greet zhangmen!”
The loud shouts from everyone in the Jiuhua Sect sent out the final confirmation that from now on, the position of zhangmen had changed hands!
Hua HuaiXiu was sitting on the eaves staring at Fan JiJing, who was receiving the respectful greetings from the disciples, from farway. For the first time, he realized how far the distance between them was.
He once believed that Fan JiJing was this piece of slow-witted wood and hoped that he could become brighter, smarter, or at least closer to him. But who would have imagined that this piece of wood could indeed be enlightened and became brighter, smarter, but further and further in distance with him?
The wood had become gold glistening inside everyone’s eyes, except for his alone.
Hua HuaiXiu suddenly grabbed the tile by his hand and threw it towards the main hall.
Even though the level of his martial skills was just mediocre, throwing a tile as hidden weapon was not something that was difficult.
Seeing that the tile would soon shatter in front of the hall, the complexions of Song BoLin and the others suddenly changed. Having tiles thrown in front of the door during a zhangmen’s succession ceremony would be an extreme disgrace to them. However, with the distance between them and the door, it was be too late even if they wanted to catch it.
But the shattering sound that they had been expecting never came.
Outside the door, Fan JiJing nodded towards Hua HuaiXiu with a smile, holding the tile in his hand as if it were just a joke between the two childhood friends.
Song BoLin and the others let out a sigh of relief, but at same time, they were also secretly shocked by the level of Fan JiJing’s martial skills.
With the level of qinggong  he displayed, even if Bu LouLian was still alive, perhaps he too would not be Fan JiJing’s match!
The night was as quiet as water.
Hua HuaiXiu could not help but pour the tea into a bucket since it had already turned cold despite after he had boiled it.
He knew perfectly well that since Fan JiJing had just become the zhangmen, with the number of matters within the sect that were awaiting him, he might not keep the appointment that he had made at noon. However, the feeling resulted from realizing that one had already been ignored only after a long period of waiting was quite miserable, or rather, so miserable that he no longer felt like apologizing for throwing that tile in the afternoon anymore.
It was the sound of a foot stepping on branches.
Hua HuaiXiu went blank for a moment. Then he stood up to open the door, only to spot a figure with a striking resemblance to that of Fan JiJing, flashing past. The haze of doubts inside his mind suddenly stirred up, and without a thought, he chased after it.
That person’s speed was not fast. Ever since Hua HuaiXiu came out to chase him, he managed to keep a three to four zhang distance apart from the person in front.
The further he went along the path, the more remote it became, though it was utterly familiar at the same time.
Hua HuaiXiu remembered that this was clearly the way to Bian Feng’s room of seclusion.
As expected, soon after, Bian Feng’s room of seclusion suddenly appeared in front of his eyes.
That person paused for a second in front of the doors, then pushed them open and went in.
Hua HuaiXiu dared not to come too close, but if he stayed too far, he was afraid that he would not be able to hear clearly. Therefore, he had stealthily move closer.
Right after he reached a close position, he heard someone speaking with reverence and respect. “Bian Shishu.”
Hua HuaiXiu heart received a violent shock.
It was indeed Fan JiJing!
Inside the room.
Bian Feng glanced outside the window meaningfully, then said in a plain tone, “I’ve heard that you succeeded as zhangmen.”
Fan JiJing replied, “Yes.”
“It looks like all of your wishes have been fulfilled.” There seemed to be endless emotions behind his words.
“I haven’t brought the Jiuhua Sect to greater heights yet.”
Bian Feng stayed silent for a long time. Then he said slowly, “Does the Jiuhua Sect really need to be in greater heights?”
Fan JiJing froze.