FRS: Chapter 18 – Unknown Truth (9)
Translator: Momoe Pom
Quality Check: Kai
First Published on Ainushi.
Making the Xianlian Sword public was just the beginning of the reformation. However, under the silence of Song BoLin and Wu ChangBo, the helplessness of Zhu LiaoDa, and the vigorous support from Guan Xing, Fan JiJing’s bold and decisive reforms were executed one after another. Just over a month later, the Jiuhua Sect was already sporting an earth-shakingly different new look.
Also, the attention of every big sect in the pugilistic world had been focused on the Demonic Sect at first, followed by the Xuetu Hall which had come later. All this time, their eyes had been moving about in circles and were unable to rest. Only when they finally came to a break did they realize that in a twinkling of an eye, the influence of the Jiuhua Sect had already spread out from the west of the Huai River all the way to northern and southern sides of the Long River.
Many people might not have heard of the name of the Xianlian Sword, but it was an undeniable fact that Bu LouLian was ranked eleventh on the list of martial arts experts. To be able to learn the special skill of the eleventh expert in martial arts was undoubtedly a temptation too enormous to resist.
For some time, martial arts enthusiasts from all over the world gathered at Mount Jiuhua. Despite the fact that sects such as Wudang and Shaolin were illustrious, not all of their martial art skills were open to all of their disciples after all. In comparison, the Jiuhua Sect which promised the right to learn the Xianlian Sword to anyone who joined was so attractive that they would swarm to it.
Yet, seeing the Jiuhua Sect become more and more bustling, Song BoLin was quite worried on the inside.
The concern reached its apex when Fan JiJing casually announced the decision to expand the Jiuhua Sect.
In the end, he could not bear it anymore and once again came to Fan JiJing’s door.
Fan JiJing was reading a letter. As he saw Song BoLin pushing open the doors and coming in, he calmly folded the letter, put it inside his sleeve, and called with a helpless tone, “Shishu.”
Song BoLin justly defended himself. “I was going to knock the door at first, but it couldn’t stand any knock and opened by itself. Whose fault is this?”
“My fault.” Fan JiJing responded extremely fast, with a faint smile on his face still.
This kind of smile naturally generated a different explanation as it fell into Song BoLin’s eyes, but he was reluctant to fuss over trivial matters like this at the moment. He directly sat down and went straight to the point. “Are you really going to teach the Xianlian Sword to all of the disciples?”
Fan JiJing quipped, “Haven’t I done so already?”
“That’s different.” Song BoLin explained, “All disciples who are learning it now have already been in our sect for many years, while many people that we have recruited recently have come from other sects.”
Fan JiJing slowly asked,“So, Shishu’s point is?”
“How can the special martial arts skill of our sect end up in the hands of those people?!” Song BoLin fretfully continued, “How can you tell whether those people have evil intentions or not, only coming to attain the skill?”
Fan JiJing responded indifferently, “So what if they do?”
“So what if they do?” The tone of Song BoLin’s voice changed abruptly, “Don’t tell me you want to ruin the entire Jiuhua Sect?” This sentence was like a bright light at night, lighting his thoughts up immediately. “I see. Bu LouLian was not the only one you wanted revenge on, but the entire Jiuhua Sect too! After making the Xianlian Sword public, the Jiuhua Sect would no longer have the capital to claim a place in the pugilistic world, and its decline would be just a matter of time.”
“Shishu is oversensitive.” Fan JiJing heaved a faint sigh, “I’ve never thought this way.”
“Hmph. But your conduct is.”
Fan JiJing asked, “Does Shishu know who invented the Xianlian Sword?”
“Of course. It was the Founder.”
“That’s right. The Founder established the sect and invented the Xianlian Sword. However, seven generations have passed ever since the Founder, but not even one zhangmen created a new martial arts skill. Do you know why?”
Song BoLin was startled. He indeed had never thought about this question.
“Because there was no need to.” Fan JiJing slowly explained, “The Xianlian Sword could be passed on to only one person, and therefore, for every generation, zhangmen was the number one expert in the Jiuhua Sect. Their position in the Jiuhua Sect was so majestic that no one was even comparable with them, so naturally they would not invest efforts in coming up with any new skills.”
Song BoLin asked, “How does it relate to you teaching the Xianlian Sword to the public?”
“A person’s view can be biased, but strength surely cannot bias. It’s said that literature has no first place while martial arts has no second. Since everyone is able to learn Xianlian Sword, the martial arts level of the disciples in Jiuhua Sect, and who is better or worse at it, will be clear. The martial arts of the Jiuhua Sect will naturally come to greater heights. In this way, whoever can succeed as zhangmen must be an expert who surpasses all the others — the one chosen amongst a hundred. Then why worry about the decline of the Jiuhua Sect?”
Song BoLin asked, “What if that person doesn’t want to be the zhangmen?”
Fan JiJing answered, “When the Jiuhua Sect becomes one of the biggest sects in the world, who will have the heart to abandon the position of zhangmen?”
Song BoLin was speechless.
Fan JiJing held his sleeve between his fingers, his fingertips brushing against the envelope inside the sleeve while his gaze shifted out of the window.
It had been cloudy on Mount Jiuhua continuously for more than a month.It was if Hua HuaiXiu had taken away that clear sky above with him when he left.
“Shishu.” He softly uttered.
It creeped Song BoLin out now to hear Fan JiJing calling him “shishu”, so he replied in a fierce manner despite being shaky inside, “What?”
“Everything in the sect is more or less settled. I want to leave for a month,” Fan JiJing said, staring at the sky outside the window.
Song BoLin was happy in his mind at first, but he soon asked with some uncertainty, “Where are you going?”
“I want to go back to the Hua family to visit to my grandparents,” said Fan JiJing.
Song BoLin pondered for a moment. He thought that since he had become the zhangmen of the Jiuhua Sect, it could be regarded as an honor to his family and going back to show it off would just be human nature. However, Fan JiJing was such a shrewd person. At a time when so many things in the Jiuhua Sect were waiting to be done, would he really hand over them to someone else? Or perhaps he had other intentions?
Fan JiJing turned his head back. Seeing Song Bolin’s face filled with suspicion, he smiled, “During my leave, I was thinking of asking shishu to temporarily take the place of zhangmen.”
If Fan JiJing was still the old Fan JiJing, Song BoLin would definitely be wild with joy after hearing the news. Yet, all he could think of at the moment was what kind of pit was before him, waiting for him to jump in. So of course he could not follow through with Fan JiJing’s intentions. “I’m already old. It would be better to let young people handle this kind of matter.”
“If that’s the case, I have no choice but to ask eldest shixiong to substitute for me temporarily.”
Not only was Fan JiJing not surprised at his declination at all, he even appeared to have foreseen it long ago. Only now did Song BoLin realize that his various concerns had actually gotten himself caught up in Fan JiJing’s schemes. He could not help but feel wretched.
All of a sudden, a disciple hurried over and shouted outside the doors, “Zhangmen! We have a problem! Zhu shixiong lost control of his qi.”
Song BoLin was shocked. He hurriedly asked, “Where?”
“In his room right now.”
Just as Song BoLin was about to leave, he turned his head and saw Fan JiJing still standing in place. The sight of the other’s perfectly composed expression made him feel as if cold water was splashed onto him. He told the disciple outside the door, “You go first. Zhangmen and I will arrive in a moment.” After the sound of the disciple’s footsteps faded, he said in a low voice, “Zhangmen does not seem to be surprised?”
Fan JiJing replied calmly, “To lose control over one’s qi when practicing martial arts is like pricking one’s hand when doing embroidery. It’s something that should have been expected.”
Song BoLin said in a deep voice, “Zhu LiaoDa and zhangmen grew up together as childhood friends. Is zhangmen really not worried even one bit?”
Fan JiJing said, “Bu LouLian and shishu also grew up together as childhood friends. After hearing about his death, was the first thought that occurred in shishu’s mind shock or happiness?”
“Of course it was a shock!”
“Then that’s not worrying.” Fan JiJing sighed, “Even shishu can’t do it. Why should you make things difficult for me?”
Song BoLin was left speechless.
“We are shixiongdi after all, so let’s go and see.” Fan JiJing lifted his hand, signaling him to go first.
Song BoLin went off in a huff.
They arrived at Zhu LiaoDa’s room and saw him lying on the bed. His complexion was pale like paper, and his breath was on and off.
Guan Xing had just finished helping him by pushing his own qi through Zhu LiaoDa’s acupoints. Right now, he was sitting in meditation at the side.
ShangGuan DingNing was holding onto Zhu LiaoDa’s hand, her eyes red and swollen almost to the size of walnuts. She was sobbing from time to time, as if she were practically going to pass out from crying.
Other disciples were standing orderly in several rows, staring, not knowing what to do. Only after Song BoLin and Fan JiJing entered did they finally let out a breath of relief.
Song BoLin asked, “How is it?”
Shi JiZhong, who was standing right next to Guan Xing, replied, “Second shixiong lost control of his qi. It was rampaging inside him. We were unable to guide it back to the right direction. Therefore, eldest shixiong had to seal his ren and du meridians temporarily. But in the future…” He thought of the truth of why Zhu LiaoDa had lost control over his qi and inevitably felt guilty inside. If he had told him the truth back then, Zhu LiaoDa would not have ended up in such an situation.
Song BoLin surely knew what he was implying.
If his ren and du meridians were sealed, Zhu LiaoDa would be left with no martial skills apart from the most basic fighting skills. In Mount Jiuhua, this equaled to being handicapped. Considering Zhu LiaoDa’s ambitions and prides, he might not be able to bear it.
Fan JiJing sighed, “If we keep the green mountains, then we shouldn’t worry about the lack of firewood. To be able to keep his life is already a great fortune among all the misfortunes.”
So BoLin turned his head to look at him and found his face full of sorrows that was hard to conceal — a completely different person from when he had come. Song BoLin’s heart was immediately filled with scratching pains, as if he had eaten five hundred ants.
Fan JiJing walked to ShangGuan DingNing’s side. He bent over and comforted her. “Shimei, I’ll leave second shixiong to you from now on.”
ShangGuan DingNing nodded, choked with sobs.
Fan JiJing straightened himself, waving a few times at the other disciples in the room.
Those disciples tactfully exited the room.
Fan JiJing asked, “Did you call for the doctor?”
Shi JiZhong replied, “We did. But it’s going to take half of an incense of time for him to arrive.”
Fan JiJing nodded. He said to Guan Xing, “I’m leaving the mountain for a month. After a discussion with Song Shishu, we’ve decided to let you be the temporary substitute for zhangmen.”
Guan Xing’s eyes showed a trace of astonishment. He was not surprised that Fan JiJing would let him temporarily be the substitute zhangmen, but he did not expect that Song BoLin would also think this way.The fact that Song BoLin agreed to that, was a situation worth contemplating over.
Song BoLin’s face immediately showed some awkwardness. “Humph. Should I still worry myself with the sect’s trifles with my old age?”
Guan Xing stood up and cupped his fist, “I’ll obey zhangmen’s order carefully.”
“I’ll be leaving tomorrow, therefore troubling you to take care of second shixiong’s matters.” When Fan JiJing said these words, his face was filled with heartache and pity.
Having seen too much of his acting, all Song BoLin had was despise and fear.
After Fan JiJing finished, he sat down in the room, waiting for the doctor’s arrival.
The doctor took Zhu LiaoDa’s pulse and confirmed that there was nothing major in his body apart from the fact that he could not practice martial arts again in his life. Only then did Fan JiJing finally get up and take his leave.
The night was quiet and cold.
The wind was travelling back and forth between the inside and the outside of the courtyard like cold water.
Fan JiJing was in the middle of packing his bags when he heard a sound outside his door. He went out and saw Guan Xing, carrying a bottle of wine and two cups with him, sitting by the stone table in the yard.
“I came to bid you farewell.” Guan Xing set the cups at both ends of the stone table and filled them with wine.
Fan JiJing sat down across from him. He raised his wine cup, then clinked it lightly with Guan Xing’s. “Thanks a lot.”
Guan Xing finished his wine in one gulp. “Right when the Jiuhua Sect has so many things waiting to be done, are you really so assured about all this that you can leave it behind?”
“You can come tomorrow to see me off, so you can see whether I am really sincere about leaving or not,” Fan JiJing said.
Guan Xing lightly put down the wine cup, “For love?”
Fan JiJing’s eyes glimmered a little. “What makes eldest shixiong say that?”
Guan Xing chuckled and changed the topic, “How did you convince Song Shishu?”
“I didn’t convince him.” In fact, he really didn’t. Song BoLin had jumped into the trap by himself obediently.
Guan Xing raised his head and looked at him. After a moment, he said, “You were always able to find a way.”
Fan JiJing said, “Shixiong, please take good care of everything as I won’t be on the mountain.” He lifted the bottle and poured some wine, finishing his wine first as a respect.
Guan Xing drank a cup after him. “You’re not concerned about Song Shishu?”
“I’m not.” Fan JiJing slowly said, “The pugilistic world has always been that — the strong prey on the weak.” For him, whether it was Song BoLin or Zhu LiaoDa, they could not become strong enough to threaten him. If this was the case, what would be the matter even if they seized the opportunity and stirred up an enormous storm in the Jiuhua Sect? He could still recover the lost territories effortlessly upon his return. Besides, Song BoLin was not a brainless person, there was no way he would ignore the consequences and throw himself into a deathtrap.
Guan Xing was silent.
“If something happens, naturally there will be someone to help you,” Fan JiJing added.
Guan Xing did not ask who the person was, and he did not continue speaking either.
A chilly wind brushed over their shoulders as the wine worked its miracles.