After Mr. Xiao was captured, he was similarly locked in a discipline room.
The outside was watched by Shaolin and Wudang’s elite troops, and without Abbot Ciyuan and Sect Leader Wudang’s approval, no one was allowed inside.
After arranging all of this, everyone went back to their respective rooms to rest, but perhaps because they were approaching the truth, none of them slept very steadily, and they all woke quite early. Upon seeing this, Abbot Ciyuan called them over to Dehui Hall183 and brought Mr. Xiao over to be questioned. They originally thought that
they’d have to put forth quite a bit of effort to force his mouth open, but who could’ve known that he’d take the initiative himself to speak, but what he confessed was a completely different story.
Ding Xilai couldn’t remain calm and so had run over to notify them.
He looked at the two people standing calmly in front of him and said, “You two should at least give me some kind of reaction!”
“What are you panicking for. Those there are all elders, so they wouldn’t simply believe whatever someone says,” Ye You said, “If he doesn’t have proof, then Abbot Ciyuan and the others won’t believe him.”
Ding Xilai said, “But that surnamed Xiao said it was best to tie you up and question you, and also said that your thoughts are too deep, so you’re definitely secretly plotting something. He wants the Abbot and the others to be more careful around you. If they start suspecting you because of this, then what do we do if, in the future, you won’t be able to take us out to play?”
Wenren Heng finished tying the bandages and gave him a look. Ye You also looked at him and repeated, “Us?”
Ding Xilai let out a dry cough, stiffened his face, and insipidly said, “Yes, regarding the matter yesterday night, this one184 truly benefited from…”
Ye You interrupted him. “Speak like a human being.”
Ding Xilai then approached, looking as if he wanted to grab the other’s hand, but quickly retracted his claws when he saw Wenren Heng lightly brush a gaze over. In the end, the only thing he dared to do was sit down next to the other. He solemnly said, “Sir Xiao, I think you’re especially clever, so from now on, I’ll be following you!”
This statement truly was from the heart. Even though he had expended only a bit of effort yesterday night, he was able to regain some respect in front of his crowd of peers for the first time in his life. And it was also due to this person’s idea last time that they went to question Li Hua, which allowed them to turn to Xiangxing City.
He felt that if he were to follow by this person’s side, he’d definitely profit sooner or later; it’d practically be more reliable than if he did good deeds every day!
Ye You laughed and asked, “I don’t know how to do anything, so what use is it for you to follow me?”
“Sir Xiao, if you don’t know how to do anything, doesn’t that mean I’m practically completely worthless?” Ding Xilai looked at him, sincerity extremely evident. “So there’s no need to be so humble. You should just accept me!”
Ye You was about to reply when he saw a monk sent by Shaolin coming to call him.
He immediately understood and stood up, preparing to go with the small monk to confront Mr. Xiao.
It was currently early morning, and adventurers were waking up one after the other. A portion of them had heard about the commotion yesterday and couldn’t help but discuss it in a low voice, while another portion had slept too deeply and completely didn’t know that anything had happened, simply staring at the others in complete bafflement, and there was still yet another portion who hadn’t been able to stand how dull Shaolin was and had gone out to seek entertainment, still having not yet returned.
Qin Yuemian was considered to be in that third group of people.
But right as Wenren Heng stepped out of the small courtyard, he saw the other and, after a moment of examination, asked in surprised, “You only just returned?”
Qin Yuemian said, “Yes.”
Wenren Heng asked, “You came from the small county town?”
Qin Yuemian once again said another simple, “Yes,” and understanding his meaning, said, laughing, “I crawled out of bed before dawn185 for the sake of eating breakfast here.”
Wenren Heng didn’t believe that he’d be interested in Shaolin’s breakfast but understood after a moment of thought and asked, “You know about what happened last night?”
“More than know about it, I saw the whole thing myself.” Carrying that air of a prodigal son, Qin Yuemian yawned as he walked with them to the hall. “I was staying right at a corner of that inn and was woken up in the middle of the night by all the sounds of fighting.
Anyway, since I wasn’t able to fall back asleep, I thought that I might as well return to watch this play.”
Ding Xilai was enlightened. “Ah, so it turns out that you were the person who was staying in the other room the waiter pointed out. What a coincidence.”
Qin Yuemian said, “Exactly.”
Ye You gave Qin Yuemian a look and guessed that this matter wasn’t so much a coincidence.
Part of the people he had here was led by Elder Hei, while the other part had been given to Qin Yuemian. Qin Yuemian had probably realized that that surnamed Xiao had something wrong with him and so had chosen to stay at the same inn. It was a pity that there was no time for the other’s careful probing before they had gone and carried that person off.
Ye You joyfully narrowed his eyes, thinking that he had chosen quite a good accomplice here. It was only that if his Senior Brother ever found out that even Qin Yuemian was participating in this matter, while he wasn’t willing to search out the other, then his Senior Brother’s expression would definitely be a sight to see.
The group walked and talked, and they quickly arrived on the path to Dehui Hall.
Ye You lifted his head and saw Pavilion Master Ding and the Alliance Leader coming up from another road. The fact that these two people had been able to return to Shaolin this morning, after having gone to Xiangxing City last night, meant that they had definitely hurried back overnight.
Ding Xilai saw his old man and instantly stiffened his expression, taking the initiative to move forward and greet the other, before asking after the Alliance Leader and then hesitantly saying, “Uncle Zhong, the matter with Xiao-Zhong… Do you186 know about it?”
The two immediately stopped.
Although these two good-for-nothing sons loved to play around, they had never done anything too terrible. The moment the Alliance Leader saw Ding Xilai’s grave expression, his heart skipped a beat, and he hastily asked, “What happened to him?”
Ding Xilai thereupon relayed what happened yesterday. In the meantime, Ye You and Wenren Heng had also walked into the vicinity and added a few more sentences of clarification. Upon seeing the Alliance Leader’s anxiety, Ding Xilai said, “Uncle Zhong, me and Sir Xiao and them have already captured and brought back the white piece’s subordinate last night. He might’ve been the one who kidnapped Xiao-Zhong.”
The Alliance Leader was worried without end, and when he heard those words, he was dumbfounded. “Them?” “Sir Wei was also there,” Ye You said, “Last night was all thanks to them, especially Sir Ding. It was him who got the information out of the waiter’s mouth, or else we would’ve had to expend much more effort to find the white piece’s subordinate.”
Pavilion Master Ding couldn’t help but give his son a glance, with a healthy dose of disbelief.
Ding Xilai was embarrassed to be praised so well, and he did his best to maintain his stiff expression, straightening his back in front of his old man, while also sneaking a peek out from the corners of his eyes, hoping that his old man would praise him. Pavilion Master Ding then understood why this little rascal had been so uncharacteristically eager to take the initiative to approach him today. He looked at the Alliance Leader, “Don’t worry. Let’s first go in and look at that subordinate of the white piece.”
The Alliance Leader deeply wrinkled his brows and hurriedly entered the large hall, walking right up to the prisoner and asking, “Is my son in your hands?”
Mr. Xiao lifted his head to look at the other. “I already said that this thing has nothing to do with me. If all of you still don’t believe me, then I’m willing to make a blood oath187. I’m speaking the truth.
Rather than wasting your time on me, you’re better off finding and questioning that Sir Xiao.”
The Alliance Leader then turned to look at those people who had entered the hall right behind him.
Ye You said, neither fast nor slow, “I heard someone is slandering me?”
Mr. Xiao turned back to look at him and said, sneering, “Am I not speaking the truth? You dare to say that Sir Zhong and Fuping aren’t in your hands?”
“Mr. Xiao is willing to make a blood oath, so naturally I’m also willing.” Ye You walked to his side. “I’m just somewhat baffled. I have no former grudges and no present grievances with Sir Zhong. When Mr. Xiao heard he was kidnapped, why was his first reaction that I did it? What use would it be for me to kidnap Sir Zhong? Am I looking to get a ransom from the Alliance Leader?”
Those words had some deeper meaning.
Those present were all people with much experience, and whether or not Sir Xiao was the black piece’s man hadn’t been said yet, but it was clear that he wasn’t on the side of the white piece. Now the white piece’s man was asserting that he had kidnapped that person, and the only use for kidnapping Sir Zhong would be to restrict the Alliance Leader, so… the white piece’s man believed that he wanted to restrict the Alliance Leader? Why would he want to restrict the Alliance Leader? Unless the Alliance Leader was precisely the white piece!
The Alliance Leader didn’t open his mouth, but his brows wrinkled even more.
Mr. Xiao sneered and said, “No matter what you say, Fuping’s matter was something you did. Who knows whether you’d have a moment of impulse and kidnap someone to muddy the waters?”
Ye You showed some faint bewilderment before swiftly falling silent. After a while, he said, “So it was like this. I understand now.”
Everyone collectively turned to look at him, thinking that he was about to say something earth-shattering, but after waiting a while, they simply heard him say, agonized, “So it turns out that this matter was something Fuping had you do. He… does this mean he hates me?”
Everyone was dumbfounded.
Mr. Xiao was also caught off-guard. “What are you saying?” Ye You said, “Did I guess correctly?”
Mr. Xiao angrily said, “Nonsense! Fuping is clearly in your hands! You still have your martial arts! Fuping was captured and taken away by you!” “Captured and taken away by me?” Ye You shook his head, letting out a laugh, and said, sounding cold and dismal, “Was that what he said to you?”
Mr. Xiao said, “Don’t say that it isn’t true!”
“Of course it isn’t!” Without even waiting for Ye You to respond, Ding Xilai couldn’t help but shout out these words. Feeling his old man shoot him a glance, he quickly adjusted back into a solemn bearing and coldly said, “At that time, we were all present and heard with our own ears Fuping speaking of an infatuation with Sir Xiao and of a willingness to dedicate a lifetime to following him.”
Those Junior Sect Masters who had been present all nodded one after the other, indicating that Fuping truly had said that with his own mouth.
The information that Mr. Xiao received said only that Fuping had been captured and then had fallen down a cliff, so he didn’t know the actual details of the event. He couldn’t help startling before regaining his senses and saying, “Then you definitely forced him to say it!”
“I’ve never once forced him…” Ye You said faintly and, upon seeing that Mr. Xiao wanted to continue, interrupted him with, “I don’t want to argue with you about him. Since you’re so insistent that it’s me, then let’s go over everything from the beginning. First of all, you say that I kidnapped Sir Zhong. But when I fell down the cliff myself, I lost consciousness, and it wasn’t until night fell that I awoke. Senior Brother said that Sir Wei and Sir Ding and the others all came to see me.”
Wei Jiangyue saw him look over at them as he spoke and said, “Yes, we went after we ate dinner. At that time, you still hadn’t woken.”
Ye You said, “At that time, Senior Brother was continually guarding me. I didn’t have the opportunity to order a kidnapping.”
Mr. Xiao said, “Then it could be that…”
“You want to say that Senior Brother and I are perhaps working together?” Ye You once again interrupted him. “Neither of us have definite evidence that can stand on firm footing on this matter, so it won’t be easy to discern which is the truth. So I’ll say something that’d be easy to discern. For instance, you saying that I still have my martial arts.”
The moment he finished speaking, he turned around and walked towards Abbot Ciyuan and Sect Leader Xuanyang, confidently holding out his arm and saying to them, “Whether or not I still have my internal energy, you can find out with a single examination.”
Abbot Ciyuan said an, “Amitabha,” and examined for a moment before shaking his head.
After that was Sect Leader Xuanyang, who also shook his head after examining for a moment.
Mr. Xiao was stunned and said, “You definitely ate some drugs before coming here!”
Ye You returned with a question, “What kind of miracle drug is able to completely hide one’s internal energy? Why have I never heard of one? That’s right, other than them, Miracle Doctor Ji and Young Miracle Doctor Fang have both also taken my pulse before. Do you want to say that I’ve also bribed them?”
Mr. Xiao choked.
“Third, you say that Fuping is in my hands. When I was rescued while unconscious, there was only my Senior Brother nearby. Sir Wei and the others all saw it. Fuping wasn’t at my side at all.” Ye You looked at the Alliance Leader. “Did the Alliance Leader find Fuping at Xiangxing City?”
The Alliance Leader shook his head.
“Sure enough…” Ye You closed his eyes before once again looking at Mr. Xiao. “Either your people were the ones who rescued Fuping and so you purposely got captured in order to slander me as a reminder to the white piece to eliminate me, or this was actually something Fuping did, and he went along with me under false intentions, while instructing people to abduct him on our way back and taking the opportunity to go missing. He then pushed you out to act as a scapegoat, and not knowing anything, you similarly wanted to slander me. This would also let me feel as if kidnapping Sir Zhong had some hidden meaning and thus suspect that there’s a problem with the Alliance Leader. Like this, he’s treating you like a throwaway
Mr. Xiao took a moment to react. As if he’s thought of a certain thing, his expression changed. He then fervently insisted, despite his clear weakness, “Bullshit!”
“I don’t have anything else to say. No matter which it is, he still wants the white piece to kill me. He actually… hates me this much.” Ye You sighed bitterly and took out Fuping’s jade pendant to show him. “This was something I took from his person. It was because of this jade pendant that we managed to get information from Li Hua and capture you. That time, I saw him really treasure this jade pendant which is why I took it, but right now, I already don’t know if he was doing that on purpose for me to see. But…”
He changed his tone of voice, and as if he was enduring a great deal of pain, he spoke after a long while, “But if you truly had been sent by him, if this time you somehow luckily manage not to die and you get to meet him again, you tell him this. Tell him that I will personally get back the emotional debt that he owes me with my own two hands.”
When he finished speaking, he didn’t even look at the others, simply turning around and walking out. After walking two steps, he even faintly swayed, looking as if he could barely support himself.
Wenren Heng, “…” Qin Yuemian, “…”
The scarred man was practically in the throes of grief and lamentation, itching to give this scoundrel surnamed Xiao a sound beating. Their Sect Master had finally managed to coax Sir Xiao after much difficulty, but now his scars had once again reopened, but what could be done? He unconsciously looked at the Sect Master, and he saw that this person didn’t disappoint, turning around to pursue. He immediately felt extremely gratified and followed along, also leaving.
In the blink of an eye, Qin Yuemian had been tossed aside by them. He hesitated for a while before deciding to stay behind to watch the aftermath.
Ding Xilai still wanted to beg Sir Xiao to accept him so had hastily run after to comfort the other. This time, Wei Jiangyue also left. The Junior Sect Masters looked at each other and then similarly went to look for Sir Xiao.
The great hall was very quiet for a moment.
But in a flash, Academy Master Ge said, “Emotional debt?” Everyone looked at him.
Nearly all of them had heard the entire matter from their own sons’ mouths. The only ones who didn’t know right now was the one whose son wasn’t by his side, Academy Master Ge, as well as the Shaolin Abbot and Sect Leader Xuanyang.
Academy Master Ge looked at them. “All of you aren’t curious?” Everyone said, “We already know.”
“…Why don’t I know?” As he spoke, Academy Master Ge thought back and then followed by asking, “Why didn’t all of you tell me about it?”
Everyone said, “This is someone else’s personal affairs.”
Academy Master Ge didn’t care and was anxious to ask for a thorough retelling. Putting on a righteous air, he said, “This matter seems to be quite involved, so it’s better if all of you talk about it.”
Although Abbot Ciyuan and Sect Leader Xuanyang weren’t brash and inquisitive people, but they also indicated their agreement. Helpless to refute, everyone could only tell them the story about how Sir Xiao fell in love with Fuping at first sight. At this time, Ding Xilai and the others had already caught up to Ye You. Upon hearing their insistence that they take him out to play, he shook his head to indicate that he wasn’t in the mood and that, since he hadn’t even eaten breakfast yet, he needed to politely decline their good intentions.
When Wenren Heng saw that they still haven’t moved, he held them off and told them that he’d watch his Junior Brother and so easily sent those people away. He indicated for his subordinate to get some food and slowly walked back with his Junior Brother. He said, “I don’t think that he was acting.”
Ye You looked thoughtful. “Yes, so if the person wasn’t kidnapped by the white piece, and he also wasn’t kidnapped by me, who exactly did it?”
Wenren Heng asked, “You don’t have any ideas?”
Ye You thought for a bit. Out of the corners of his eyes, he suddenly saw a person nearby, and he couldn’t help but look over. Wenren Heng followed his line of sight, finding that it was one of the Demonic Sect Elders in disguise, but that it wasn’t one of the earlier four Elders, and asked, “He’s also here?”
“Before, I thought that he was probably looking after the sect at home. Perhaps he heard that matters were serious so he came down the mountain to find me.” Ye You paused slightly and then said, “Or… there’s another possibility.”
Wenren Heng said, “What is it?”
The corners of Ye You’s mouth lifted. “If it really is the other possibility, I do have an idea of who the person is. The matter with Sir Zhong might be something he did.”
Wenren Heng said, “Who?”
Ye You simply smiled, not speaking.
Wenren Heng was very patient and decided to return before interrogating him.
At this moment, the newly arrived Elder Bai had already successfully reconvened with the other Elders. They were crammed together in a circle. Someone nearby was very curious and was about to approach to investigate further only to hear another person say, “There’s no need to look. They’re definitely just poking at worms.”
That person didn’t believe it and took a look, telling the other that that wasn’t it. The earlier person was flabbergasted and also went over to look, discovering that this time they had switched to a grasshopper. His mouth twitched, and he silently distanced himself from them.
Upon seeing the people in the surroundings leave, those Elders looked at Elder Bai and said, “Where’s Temple Master Xie? Weren’t you two going to come together?”
Elder Mei said, “You two came somewhat quickly.”
Elder Bai said, “The letter was written when we were midway here.”
Those people thought of his slow nature and understood, asking yet again, “Then where’s Temple Master Xie?”
Elder Bai said, “He said his people had already been gathered, so he wanted to first go look for them before making a grand entrance.”
Those Elders, “…”
As expected, he had guts, daring to come so openly!
Elder Baili was speechless. “This certainly does sound like something he would do, but isn’t he afraid of being surrounded by the righteous faction?”
Elder Mei frowned. “Temple Master Xie isn’t someone without any brains. Does he have something to rely on?”
Elder Hei said, “What kind of thing does he have to dare come here?” Elder Baili said, “Exactly!” Elder Bai waited for them to finish speaking their minds before very slowly saying, “He has one. He sent people to kidnap the Alliance Leader’s son.”
The scarred man personally went to the kitchen to make their food, and when he carried it into the Sect Master’s room, he saw a certain person who had been hurt lying on the bed, back to them. He couldn’t help but advise, “Young Master Xiao, you should eat something.”
Ye You didn’t say a word, and if it wasn’t for the faint up-and-down movements of his chest, he looked as if he was practically dead. The scarred man thought of Sect Master Ye’s former elegant bearing, and then once again looked at this appearance of his, deeply thinking that this word “emotion” really inflicts people with much suffering, before finally looking beseechingly at the Sect Master.
Wenren Heng said, “Just put everything down. I’ll soothe him.”
The scarred man nodded, put down the things, and left, though he shot another glance at the Sect Master on his way out.
Not knowing whether it was a misperception, he felt that the Sect Master’s breathing seemed somewhat unsteady just now when the other spoke. He thought that with Young Master Xiao turned into this, the Sect Master was probably also enduring an enormous amount of pain.
He immediately felt aggrieved, inwardly thinking that it’d be good if only these two people could be together.
Upon hearing the soft sound of the door, Ye You quickly turned around.
Since he no longer had to control his breathing, he urgently gasped out a breath — right before the meals had been delivered, this Senior Brother of his had been pressing down on him, teasing him until his whole body went soft. If his bandages were unraveled, it would definitely show that his entire face, all the way up to his ears, was red.
The main offender then unhurriedly stood up and walked over to sit in front of him. Ye You said, “I’m going to eat.”
Wenren Heng placed both hands on either side of him, trapping the person against the headboard, and asked, “That person was very likely kidnapped by Xie Junming. Besides this, is there anything else you want to explain?”
Ye You saw him coming closer and closer and decided to take the initiative to kiss him, saying with an ambiguous air right at the corner of his mouth, “Senior Brother, if you want to take advantage of me, just say so directly. You don’t need to use this kind of method.”
Wenren Heng felt his eyes turn dark and pressed this disaster on the bed, fiercely kissing him, before finally letting him go reluctantly, pulling him up and accompanying him to eat. Wenren Heng asked, once again, “You really don’t have anything else to say?”
Ye You let out a soft sigh. “Over these years, I’ve done so many things. Even if you want me to talk, I won’t be able to say everything in one go.”
Wenren Heng asked, “Since Xie Junming wasn’t at Shaolin, who was your accomplice while you were here?”
Ye You hesitated for a moment, before thinking that if he didn’t speak now, it’d end up far worse in the future, and said, “Qin Yuemian.”
Wenren Heng silently looked at him, looking extremely gentle.
Ye You didn’t look up at all, gazing fixedly downward as he ate, and said, “Today’s food isn’t bad. Shaolin changed their chef?”
Wenren Heng tried a bite and told the other it was made by his subordinate. After sorting through what had happened after Qin Yuemian picked up his Junior Brother, he said, “Ah-Mian originally suspected that you were sent to hurt me, and he didn’t appear to be pretending. How could he be your accomplice?”
Ye You then told the other about the matters with Xunliu Manor. Three years ago, his foundation was already stable, and he had been preparing the board on one side while keeping track of the white piece’s movements on the other. At that time, the wind was blowing in a favorable direction for Xunliu Manor, and the Elder Manor Lord’s ambitions were big. He felt that the white piece was going to make a move, so he had vaguely reminded the Elder Manor Lord to be more cautious and to win over a dependable ally. But unfortunately the person hadn’t thought much of the warning and only believed it right before dying.
He asked, “Didn’t you think that Xunliu Manor declined a little too fast after Qin Yuemian took the position?”
Wenren Heng said, “I didn’t think so.”
For their group of people, playing was playing, but they weren’t quite the same type of people as Ding Xilai and Sir Zhong. From Qin Yuemian to the unbecoming Prince Li, all of them were experienced with the ways of the world. It was only that they had originally thought that Xunliu Manor had provoked some unknown enemy, so for the sake of lying low, Qin Yuemian had decided to withdraw, but now it seemed that there was another ulterior motive.
He said, “Continue.”
“After the Elder Manor Lord died, I observed Qin Yuemian and Xunliu Manor for a period of time and guessed that, before dying, the Manor Lord probably said something to Qin Yuemian, so I tried getting into contact with him, but he didn’t know who I was.” Ye You explained matters very simply, telling him that Qin Yuemian had only recently learned his identity, and then, with a clear view of things, also told him about the other accomplice who had been in contact with Qin Yuemian these last few times.
Wenren Heng was very surprised. “It turned out to be him?”
Ye You made a sound in acknowledgement, then explained the entirety of how this accomplice came to be and, thinking about it, also told him another name, saying, “Actually, this person is also mine.” Wenren Heng was helpless for a while before asking, “Are there any more? Lady Tao isn’t one of your people?”
“No, I haven’t told her about any of these things.” Ye You paused. “But I’ve asked her before if she could use the sound-killing technique to disrupt or block something like a snake charmer’s flute. She said she hadn’t tried before.”
Wenren Heng said, “With your disposition, you’d probably try it out.”
The hand that Ye You was using to hold his chopsticks stopped for a moment. And then, as if nothing had happened, he grabbed a stalk of cabbage, put it in his mouth, and slowly finished eating it under his Senior Brother’s gaze before finally saying, “At that time, we really did try it, but it was of no use.”
Wenren Heng used a tone that was full of certainty. “Right now, her sound-killing is able to be effective against the flute because she learned it for your sake.”
“…” Ye You refuted, “No, it’s that she felt that she herself was lacking in this area.”
Wenren Heng used a tone that was full of even more certainty. “She learned it for your sake.”
Ye You pondered over these words thrice over, not hearing any anger in his Senior Brother’s tone, and so shot the other a glance. From the start, Wenren Heng hadn’t expected his Junior Brother to admit to it, so he directly asked the other’s relationship with Lady Tao. Ye You sincerely said, “We’re only friends.”
Wenren Heng asked, voice mild, “Would friends do as you did and reserve an entire space to accompany her to watch the rain?”
Ye You immediately gave a meaningful laugh and, raising a brow, asked, “Senior Brother, are you jealous? In the past, you must have been quite jealous as well, right?”
Wenren Heng smiled in a way that looked nothing like a smile and helped him ladle a bowl of porridge, putting it in front of him. Ye You joyfully drank two mouthfuls of porridge and honestly told the other that he had also helped with that Suoxin House matter before.
Wenren Heng recalled it and said, “This was the matter with a disciple falling in love with someone else?”
“Yes, that day I was coincidentally living in the same inn as them, and I heard Lady Tao and her older sister arguing over this matter. I also thought that there was nothing wrong with liking someone and couldn’t help but insert myself into the conversation…” Ye You explained in a simple way, saying that he had helped out and that, at the end, Suoxin House’s House Master was willing take a step back, so Lady Tao had thought she owed him a good turn.
“Senior Brother, you know that, in those years, in the demonic faction, although Wuwang Temple’s strength was great, it still wasn’t enough to make the white piece fear any consequences, but if we were also added in there, it’d be harder to say.” He said, “The white piece had drugged troops so shifting the blame on someone else would’ve been far too easy. I needed to do some things to let them see, in case they put me under the knife too early.”
Wenren Heng thought back to the rumors circulating about his Junior Brother these last few years — loves to play, loves beauties, loves fine liquor and to be free and unrestrained, appearing as if he was incredibly unambitious. He let out a soft sound in response and said, “So the matter with you and Lady Tao was all planned beforehand?”
Ye You said, “Yes. At the time, there were some prodigal sons who kept sticking to her, so I found her and asked her if she needed any help, while also telling her that I wanted to make my reputation more well-known. She actually could tell that I had some other goal, but she didn’t expose me. Dyeing the falling flowers was my idea, while watching the rain was hers.”
As he spoke, he thought back to the matter of Lady Tao learning the qin, inwardly hoping that she truly didn’t learn it because of him. He didn’t want to have unintentionally incited an emotional debt, since after all this emotional debt would be difficult to pay. Wenren Heng gave his Junior Brother some more vegetables while his heart let out a long sigh of relief. Only the heavens knew how angry he was enough to kill when he first heard the rumors about his Junior Brother and Lady Tao.
Perhaps because they now had a tacit understanding of their feelings, right when Wenren Heng had finished thinking this thought, Ye You lifted up the corners of his mouth and asked him what he had felt at the time. Wenren Heng naturally refused to answer and earnestly told the other to eat the meal obediently. Seeing this disaster once again trying to provoke him so fearlessly in the face of death, he grabbed the other’s outstretched hand and softly kissed the fingertips. He said, “It’s fine now. Hurry and eat.”
Ye You had been played so that his heart itched, but in the end, he restrained himself.
The two didn’t discuss anything regarding the current situation any further, directly finishing their meal. Only then did Wenren Heng once again turn the attention back to the matter of the Junior Alliance Leader’s kidnapping, thinking that if the kidnapper was truly Xie Junming, then that person was almost here.
Ye You approved. “Probably in less than two days.”
Wenren Heng asked, “How much does Xie Junming know about this situation?”
Ye You said, “At least when I left the mountain, he knew absolutely nothing. He knew only that I was going out to do something.”
Wenren Heng connected the matter with the Elder Bai who had been seen today and guessed that Xie Junming was probably coming to find his Junior Brother.
Such a big matter happened within the righteous sects, so the demonic sects were definitely also paying attention. Xie Junming probably went to the Demonic Sect and found that Junior Brother wasn’t around and so incited Elder Bai to leave the mountain together. But this matter was somewhat strange. Although Xie Junming’s conduct was unbridled, he also wasn’t impulsive, and he definitely wouldn’t rashly kidnap someone without being certain of the situation. After all, the Alliance Leader’s position in Jianghu was quite high, so a single mistake could lead to retaliation from the righteous faction. Then why exactly would he kidnap someone?
Wenren Heng looked at his Junior Brother, and seeing the other smiling in a clearly good mood, he asked, “Are there any things you should say but you haven’t yet said to me?”
Ye You laughed and asked, “Senior Brother, there were so many Junior Sect Masters in that tavern, and every one of them had a high position, not to mention there was even Wei Jiangyue and Ding Xilai. Why did Xie Junming kidnap only the Alliance Leader’s young master? And after the kidnapping even specially drew a mark?”
Wenren Heng’s heart skipped a beat. “Is it possible that this mark was drawn for you to see?”
“I think it is,” Ye You said, “About two years ago, he saw that I was being all secretive and mysterious and asked me what exactly I wanted to do. I told him that if he was able to find out the Alliance Leader’s background in detail, then I’d tell him. Later, he knew that I wanted to go and do something and so asked once again what I wanted to do, and I still told him that he needed to first have the Alliance Leader’s background in exchange. At that time, he said that he almost had all the major details.”
Wenren Heng nodded, not finding it strange at all that his Junior Brother would want to investigate the Alliance Leader.
This was just like the matter with Bodhi Prison. His Junior Brother would chase every thread that was related to the white piece back to its source. Over these years, the Alliance Leader had participated in many Jianghu disputes, so naturally his Junior Brother would’ve kept an eye on the other.
He asked, “Xie Junming drew that mark because he wanted to tell you that the Alliance Leader was related to that monster?” Ye You cheerfully said, “It’s possible. I don’t know to what step he’s investigated, but at least the Alliance Leader must have some kind of problem, or else he wouldn’t have performed the kidnapping like this, without any misgivings whatsoever, isn’t that right?”
Wenren Heng finally understood why the other was this happy.
According to his Junior Brother’s temperament, the other had definitely investigated the Alliance Leader before and, in the end, had probably not found anything useful and so had thrown it to Xie Junming. But his Junior Brother had probably always somewhat suspected the Alliance Leader deep down and those words at Dehui Hall just now had probably truly been spoken with some intent to sow discord.
Ye You asked, all smiles, “The Alliance Leader is working for the white piece. Now that his son has been kidnapped, do you think that he’ll think that the white piece wants to turn him into a throwaway piece and so kidnapped his son in order to force him out to take the blame?”
Wenren Heng said, “It’s possible.”
“At this time, we definitely cannot allow the white piece and the Alliance Leader to be alone together to explain themselves, or else the matter will really be placed on my head.” Ye You thought for a bit and said, smiling, “Senior Brother, I’m going out for a bit to find that crowd of Junior Sect Masters to have a heart-to-heart.”
The moment Wenren Heng heard this, he knew immediately what the other wanted to do, inwardly thinking that you sure have a
bellyful of rotten tricks. Upon seeing the other stand up, he reached out and grabbed onto a hand.
Ye You turned back to look at him.
Wenren Heng said, “When you have time, you should do a little thinking to make sure that you truly don’t have any other important things that you’re concealing from me.” Ye You said, “Right now, whatever you’re asking, I’m answering, and you still think that I’m not being honest enough?”
In his heart, Wenren Heng thought that it was precisely because his Junior Brother was being too honest that he contrarily felt uneasy.
His Junior Brother had stifled all these matters for this many years, and now the other had suddenly loosened his lips, making it so that he felt somewhat in disbelief. He was truly afraid that his Junior Brother was being cooperative on the surface but was secretly plotting some dangerous matter deep down.
Ye You looked at him and asked, “Why don’t you give me some suggestions? And I’ll think long and hard about whether I still have things that I need to tell you.”
Wenren Heng let go of his hand. “Wait until I’ve thought of it and then tell me. You can go.”
Ye You gave him another glance before opening the door and leaving.
Ding Xilai’s party had not yet gone out to play, and they were currently sitting in a hallway near the small courtyard. Upon seeing him, they all whooshed to their feet.
Ye You put on a melancholy appearance as he walked over, but before he could even open his mouth, he heard an echoing cry from nearby, “Wuwang Temple’s people have come!”
Upon hearing that Wuwang Temple had come to pay a visit, those Demonic Sect Elders immediately stretched out their necks, not knowing what magnificent feat Temple Master Xie was about to do. It couldn’t possibly be, “If all of you won’t let me play around here, then I’ll just go back and cut up the Junior Alliance Leader,” right?”
Elder Mei slowly thought back and looked at Elder Bai, asking, baffled, “Didn’t you two just separate? And wasn’t he going to first reconvene with his troops? How did he get here so fast?”
Elder Bai thought for a moment, and then thought for even more moments, before saying, “I don’t know.”
“…” Elder Mei was speechless and decided that she might as well see for herself.
After a moment, they saw the crowd part to allow a path, and with a troop of people, Wuwang Temple’s left protector calmly and easily walked in from the main gates. Abbot Ciyuan and the others had also already heard the news and had come rushing over, and the two sides very quickly met one another.
Abbot Ciyuan put his palms together and uttered an, “Amitabha,” before saying, “I don’t know what kind of matter Benefactor has come for?”
“To deliver a visitor’s notice189.” The left protector laughed and said, “This afternoon, our Temple Master wants to come pay an official visit to Shaolin, so he let me come say a word first, to avoid causing any inconveniences or frights if he had decided to come without warning.”
Aren’t they getting a fright right now!
Abbot Ciyuan opened the visitor’s notice and, after he finished reading it, said, “Then what noble errand brings Benefactor Xie to my Shaolin?” “Isn’t it written right on there? He’s coming to light some incense,” the left protector said, “Anything else to discuss will have to wait until our Temple Master arrives. Anyway, before I left, I only heard him say that, upon hearing about the matter with Bodhi Prison, he felt deep down that even after being called a monster by the righteous faction for so many years, he hadn’t managed to establish himself at all, and he was even unable to compare to the big undertaking achieved by an elder from the righteous faction. He had truly failed to live up to this moniker of villainy, so he wanted to light some incense in the hopes of turning his luck around.”
This type of playing around to incite hatred made Elder Mei unable to help but roll her eyes, pulling the rest of Elders back into squatting down to poke at the grasshopper.
Since his arrival, Elder Bai had been pressed in place and asked an entire pile of questions, and it was only now that he finally took the initiative to ask a question of his own, “Where’s the Sect Master?”
Those Elders looked every which way and pointed out a certain white lantern for him.
Elder Bai looked over and was shocked by the Sect Master’s miserable appearance. “How did he become like this?”
Those Elders said, “Don’t know.”
Elder Bai said, “What’s the situation right now?” Those Elders said, “Don’t know.”
Elder Bai said, “What big thing does the Sect Master want to do?” Those Elders said, “Don’t know.”
Elder Bai, “…” Those Elders, “…”
These people silently looked at each other. Elder Bai slowly asked, “…Then what were all of you doing here every day?”
Those Elders said, in bitter anguish, “Growing mushrooms, poking worms, poking grasshoppers, running outside of Shaolin to cook some wild game, occasionally looking in on the Sect Master, while also taking the opportunity to curse a certain Wenren Heng impotent.”
“…” Elder Bai sat in silence, taking a very long period of time to react. When the rest of the Elders had started thinking that he had joined them in their bitter sorrow, they heard him ask, “What does this have to do with Wenren Heng?”
Those Elders were immediately pained and aggrieved. They told him that the Sect Master pretended to be amnesiac in order to mix in with the righteous faction and that Wenren Heng had lied, saying that they were disciple-brothers, sticking together every day, and also sleeping in the same bed, all the while definitely harboring some designs on the Sect Master, practically throwing away all shame, with an uncountable number of crimes to his name!
Elder Bai said, “Yes!”
Ye You was standing just outside the crowd, and he had also heard by now the left protector’s reason for coming. In his heart, he let out a laugh, guessing that Xie Junming had probably been afraid that he wasn’t aware that the other had come and so had wanted to use this method as a small reminder. And that, when the time came, if he had something to discuss with the other, he could start preparing or thinking of a method to do so right now.
Wei Jiangyue saw the people of Wuwang Temple quickly taking their leave and looked towards Sir Xiao, asking in a low voice, “I went and asked just now. That Mr. Xiao wasn’t willing to say a single thing, so I don’t think we can get any information out of him for now. Why don’t you go with us to walk around for a while?”
Ye You faintly said, “No thanks.” Wei Jiangyue advised, “You’re this clever, so there’s no need to be like this for that kind of person…”
“I already understand. I just need some quiet,” Ye You interrupted him. “I came to look for you just now because I have something to tell all of you.”
Wei Jiangyue nodded and quietly waited for his next words.
Ye You then called all the surrounding Junior Sect Masters to his side and said, “After I returned, I thought about this matter once again. As everyone knows, the one who kidnapped Sir Zhong most likely wants to threaten the Alliance Leader. If the white piece really is the kidnapper, then he’ll most likely want to contact the Alliance Leader privately soon to discuss some terms.”
Everyone’s spirits shook. “That’s right!”
Ye You lowered his voice to say, “So if we want to know who the white piece is, then we’ll just have to keep an eye on the Alliance Leader these next few days and see who is alone with him. Perhaps we’ll be able to catch the white piece, and even if we don’t manage to catch the white piece himself, we could still capture someone who has a relationship with the white piece.”
Light shone out of Ding Xilai’s eyes as he listened, and he felt as if this was a big opportunity to save Xiao-Zhong and to distinguish himself. He patted his chest in guarantee and said, “Don’t worry, Sir Xiao, I’ll also have the people of ‘Moon’s Shadow’ help keep an eye out!”
Ye You gave him an admiring look and said, “This way of thinking is pretty good, and it was just what I wanted to give as a reminder.
Since our own numbers are limited, all of you can call for a few more trustworthy people to help keep watch.”
Wei Jiangyue asked, “But the more people know, the more easily information will leak. What if the white piece’s people mixes in somehow?” In his heart, Ye You thought that he was doing this precisely for the sake of the white piece no longer daring to act so recklessly after knowing, and that the white piece would think of this method only after finding no opportunities to contact the Alliance Leader. Out loud, he said in deadly earnest, “So it absolutely has to be people who are trustworthy. And even if it was truly overheard, there’d still be no harm. At that time, we’ll just have to see who looks the most worried.”
Everyone nodded in succession.
Abbot Ciyuan and the others had begun questioning Mr. Xiao since early morning, and even up until now, they had not managed to get any real clues. And now that they’ve even been disturbed by the people of Wuwang Temple, Abbot Ciyuan didn’t want to return to Dehui Hall again and so prepared to eat breakfast first.
The party turned around and, one after another, saw Sir Xiao and a crowd of people muttering together, not knowing what was being said, and so they couldn’t help but take a few more looks.
Academy Master Ge didn’t want to end up in complete ignorance once again, so he slowed his steps for a long while. Upon seeing Sir Xiao and that crowd separate, he couldn’t help but approach and ask if the other had some new ideas.
“No, it’s just that I thought of something, that’s all.” Ye You explained the matter very simply before saying, “From the beginning, I hadn’t wanted to conceal this from Academy Master Ge. We’re all part of the younger generation, and this matter requires all of you elders to be more careful. For those of you elders who like to discuss matters privately, it might be better to try and call for more people to be present. Or else if the white piece really does take advantage of an opening and the Alliance Leader does something irrational for the sake of his beloved son, then it’ll become quite troublesome.”
Academy Master Ge thought that this made sense and said, “Yes, when we eat, I’ll think of an excuse to mention it. If a matter really needs to be discussed, then it’s best to have at least three people present.” Ye You said, “If the white piece is among one of those three, then one of the others could easily be sent away with an excuse. It’s better to not set the numbers so meticulously or else the white piece might see through it. Just tell them that if something happens, say it to everyone, so as to prevent some missteps from happening.”
Academy Master Ge answered in the affirmative. He then couldn’t help asking another sentence, “Sir Xiao trusts me like this. Aren’t you afraid that I could be the white piece?”
Ye You earnestly said, “No, this young one believes in his own ability to judge others. Academy Master Ge is definitely a good person.”
Academy Master Ge immediately felt happy from head to toe upon hearing this, feeling as if the other was even more pleasing to the eye, and chatted with him for a bit more before then leaving.
Ye You tracked the other’s departure with his eyes, quickly thinking through these current matters. He felt that with the Junior Sect Masters and Academy Master Ge keeping an eye out, this method would probably yield results in a short amount of time. When Xie Junming arrived in the afternoon, he would find an opportunity to ask about how far the investigation had progressed and see if there was anything he could use before deciding on his next step.
After straightening out the main details, he unhurriedly returned to the small courtyard. Pushing open the door, he found that his Senior Brother was currently reading, looking especially heart-warming.
Looking at this person, he felt very steady, as if his heart was a sea of tranquility, and that he’d remain standing even if he was battered by the wind and rain outside. Even the schemes he had been plotting just now have all dissipated.
Wenren Heng looked at him. “You’ve returned?”
Ye You made a sound in acknowledgement, and as if he was still in deep thought, continued to watch the other.
Wenren Heng said, “What are you thinking about? Xie Junming?” Ye You honestly said, “No, thinking about you.” These sudden words of endearment actually made Wenren Heng speechless for a moment. Seeing his Junior Brother approaching, he reached out to take the other’s hand and pull the other into an embrace. He asked, smiling, “Thinking what about me?”
Ye You said, “I think I need to find an opportunity to tell my people about our relationship.”
Wenren Heng asked, “What are you planning on saying?”
That you’re the wife of the Demonic Sect’s Sect Master… These words turned in Ye You’s mouth for a while, but upon considering their current positions, he tactfully didn’t actually speak the thought out loud, simply saying, “First, I need to find a way to meet them.”
Wenren Heng said, “Right now, many people are keeping an eye on you. If you want to meet them, it’s better to leave Shaolin.”
Ye You nodded. “I know.”
Wenren Heng said, “When do you want to go?”
Ye You said, “We’ll talk about it after we finish meeting with Xie Junming.”
Xie Junming was very good at keeping promises, and paid a visit right after noon190 was over.
He had achieved his position early and had spent many years shaking the heavens and the earth in the demonic faction. Right now, he was only twenty-five years of age, appearing handsome and extraordinary, endlessly brash and ostentatious, wearing a set of black robes, with even a raise of the eyebrows carrying an unruly air.
By his grace191, everyone had already been frightened once, so this time they didn’t have a single reaction upon seeing him. Abbot Ciyuan brought people over to welcome him, inquiring after his reason for coming.
Xie Junming said, “To light some incense. Didn’t I write it very clearly on the notice? Don’t Buddhists say that all living things are equal? It can’t be that other people can light some incense but that I can’t, right?”
Abbot Ciyuan said, good-naturedly, “Naturally not. Please, come in, Benefactor Xie.”
Xie Junming was very satisfied, and he lifted his leg to walk forward, saying, “I heard that it hasn’t been peaceful in the righteous faction recently, so after I light some incense, I’m thinking of staying behind to help a little.”
The moment these words were said, an enormous wave was stirred up by this small pebble.
Abbot Ciyuan hadn’t even replied when the righteous faction members in the nearby surroundings couldn’t endure it any longer and angrily said, “The matters of our righteous faction aren’t open to the participation of monsters such as you!”
“That’s right, who knows what kind of ideas you have!”
“We’ll resolve our own matters ourselves! We don’t need any of you in the demonic faction to worry!”
Xie Junming’s laugh was very handsome, and he amiably looked at the crowd of people. “Hey, these kinds of courageous people are exactly the type I like. Come, come, let’s not hide anymore. Come out, stand in front of me, and try repeating those words you just said. Let me better appreciate your handsome bearing.”
Those people, “…”
Seeing that the crowd looked as if they had been choked, Xie Junming once again looked at the Abbot and said, “The rumors outside said that Bodhi Prison and the Lantern-Extinguishing Poison had all come from the hands of a person of prestige and virtue in the righteous fraction. Are these things true?”
Abbot Ciyuan said, “We haven’t finished investigating yet.”
“Well, even if this person does exist,” Xie Junming said, “Our demonic faction also doesn’t want this kind of person. Some days ago, our demonic faction’s Sect Masters also gathered together to talk about these matters, and we all thought this elder was far too sinister. To stop him from eventually throwing the blame at us in the end, we also wanted to come investigate. But I thought that if we all came, something might happen, so why not start out with only one or two paying a visit first. Do all of you want me to stay here now, or for me to return and call all of them over instead?”
Everyone thought of that image of everyone in the demonic faction congregating at Shaolin, and they all felt their visions go black.
Xie Junming continued with, “Oh, that’s right, Bodhi Prison also has our demonic faction members. Before I left, those Sect Masters also specially entrusted me the task of finding justice for those people. So, please enlighten me, wise and powerful martial heroes of the righteous faction, has a conclusion been drawn about the matters regarding Bodhi Prison?”
Abbot Ciyuan said, “We’re still investigating.”
Xie Junming said, “Then before the investigation is finished, no more of our demonic faction members can be locked up inside, or else they might die without a sound or a word. Ah! It’s really frightening. This many years, and we only found out about this matter now.”
This time, Abbot Ciyuan was also choked by these words. He put his palms together. “This was all the fault of this monk.”
If it was anyone else, at this time, they would’ve definitely given a sentence or two of comfort, but Xie Junming wasn’t an ordinary person, and he nodded and said, “Yes, the greatest virtues are in recognizing one’s mistakes and making an effort to change.”
They truly wanted to drag this thing away and cut it to pieces! They practically hated him as much as that poison-tongued Sect Master Ye! No wonder the two were friends!
After stepping into Shaolin, Xie Junming truly did go and light a stick of incense, and he truly did ask for a change in fortune, facing the Buddha with a pious appeal for his own position as a monster to be more stable, and to absolutely not allow his livelihood to be stolen by that malicious and duplicitous elder of the righteous faction — the expressions of the nearby Abbot Ciyuan and the righteous faction members who had overheard these words were all a sight to see.
The left protector was unsurprised in the face of his Temple Master’s temperament. He took the incense from the Temple Master’s hand and stuck it into the incense burner.
Xie Junming straightened his clothes, and as he stepped outside, he looked at everyone. “Have you finished thinking? Do I stay, or do I return and call everyone over instead?”
The crowd went still and, one after another, looked in the direction of the elders. This time, they definitely didn’t dare to make a ruckus.
Abbot Ciyuan didn’t open his mouth, and looked inquiringly at the rest of the group.
“Let me just say that you righteous faction folks think too much. I came here to help, not to mess around, and you still need to think about this?” Xie Junming said, “Forget it. Anyway, before I left, Ah- You also said that he wanted to get in on the fun. I still think that making a trip back first would probably be better. And then I can call him, and we can come back together.”
The “Ah-You” he spoke of was naturally the Demonic Sect’s Sect Master Ye You.
Everyone once again felt as if their visions had turned black. One Xie Junming was already enough to give everyone a headache, so they definitely couldn’t have another, especially a Demonic Sect’s Sect Master!
Whenever those two rascals got together, they were easily able to torment people to death. Before, Lishan Sect’s Sect Leader had even been so angered by them that he spat blood. He had really spat blood, with that blood spraying out like a fountain of flowers. And there were even some of the righteous faction who had been angered into unconsciousness by them, fainting right as their eyes rolled up, especially fast. And even more anger-inducing was that Sect Master Ye once felt guilty enough to buy some kidney-replenishing medicine for someone, the reason being that he apparently saw the other’s pale complexion and feared that the other needed the boost. When the other party awoke, they were once again angered into fainting.
Upon thinking of all the different matters that had happened in the past, everyone silently looked, in wordless appeal, in the direction of those elders.
Pavilion Master Ding’s brows knitted faintly, and he coldly said, “Cleaning up within the faction doesn’t require the involvement of outsiders. In the end, we will definitely give all of you an explanation. Please go back. It’ll be useless no matter how many people you call.
This isn’t a place where all of you can act so impudent.”
Lingjian Pavilion stood majestically as one of the two major sects of Jianghu, so there was an extraordinary air of confidence, and Pavilion Master Ding was also similarly an extremely resolute person. As he said these words, everyone in the righteous faction immediately felt their spirits lift and their backs straighten, thinking in their hearts that they couldn’t be led around by the nose by this surnamed Xie!
And then, without waiting for them to agree aloud, Xie Junming began laughing. “Pavilion Master Ding really doesn’t care that I’m able to call all of them over?”
Pavilion Master Ding said coldly, “You can try.”
Xie Junming laughed even more happily. “Ah, listening to this sounds like a dare. Is it that Pavilion Master Ding is hoping that I’ll call them all over so that we’ll all have a good fight and confuse matters even more?” Pavilion Master Ding’s expression was instantly covered with a layer of frost.
Those nearby took a look, internally thinking not good.
Pavilion Master Ding’s temper was just like this, and he absolutely hated those from the demonic faction. He had already loathed Xie Junming’s ambiguously true-false threats just now, and now that Xie Junming was trying to slander him, one can well imagine how great his anger was.
Manor Lord Wei interrupted with, “Old Ding, there’s no need to get angry at someone so much younger than you. If he’s willing to stay, just let him stay.”
Pavilion Master Ding looked at him. “After this many years, regarding a righteous faction matter, when has it ever been appropriate to let the demonic faction stick their hands in?”
“I especially don’t like hearing those kinds of words.” Xie Junming was acting as if he hadn’t noticed the atmosphere of mutual hostility. He withdrew some of his smile and said, “Usually, if our demonic faction has any sort of dispute, your righteous faction won’t even ask a word and will simply carry a flag of “righteousness” to fight over control of the situation. Now that there’s an issue in the righteous faction, why can’t we of the demonic faction even ask about it?
Pavilion Master Ding, I know you can’t tolerate even the slightest bit of dirt beneath your eyes and so you absolutely hate us of the demonic faction. I respect you as an elder of the righteous faction, and so I never say anything whenever you usually meddle in the affairs of the demonic faction, but this time I need to at least speak some sense. You shouldn’t be playing favorites so heavily.”
Everyone sucked in a cold breath when they heard this.
In Jianghu, there were few who dared to challenge Pavilion Master Ding. Sure enough, Xie Junming was certainly unbridled.
Pavilion Master Ding unexpectedly didn’t erupt in sudden anger, and his face remained coldly indifferent. “Usually it’s that those of you from the demonic faction have done too much evil, so you were getting a taste of your own medicine.”
Xie Junming didn’t give a single step. “No matter how evil were our deeds, when have we ever had so many people die as in Bodhi Prison? This time, many of our demonic faction died in Bodhi Prison, so why can’t we not seek justice for them? Why do we have to wait for all of you to investigate yourselves? Then next time an issue arises in the demonic faction, can’t we also send all of you away to listen for news from afar?”
Pavilion Master Ding’s expression sunk, and right as he wished to speak further, Manor Lord Wei said, “That’s enough. Let’s not let such a small issue poison the atmosphere. Let’s just let him stay. Having one more around to provide ideas could also be good.”
Pavilion Master Ding said, “Then if something happens, it’s your responsibility.”
“What kind of words are these? What do you mean by my responsibility?” Manor Lord Wei returned with the question. “Their bodies are their own192, so if something happens, it’ll be fine to just let them take responsibility for it. We have so many people here, so I presume that they won’t be committing any great atrocities.
Pavilion Master Ding let out a cold grunt. “You’re quite optimistic.”
“Naturally, I’ve always been like this,” Manor Lord Wei said, chuckling, and then he also added a cutting remark out of habit, “While just like always, you carry a stiff face every day, and whenever you don’t know something, you act like it’s the other person who owes you.”
Oh no, they might start fighting again.
Everyone collectively looked at the Alliance Leader. The Alliance Leader wrinkled his brows and looked at the two. Luckily, these two people still had some consideration in their hearts, and after saying a few words, they both dropped the matter. Everyone was just about to let out a breath of relief when they heard Xie Junming open his mouth, “Have you decided? Why not do it like this. Let’s take a vote to see who supports and who opposes. So for those of you who oppose me staying here, just come out and tell it to my face.”
No one in the crowd moved.
Xie Junming waited for a moment before saying, “Look, not even one opposed. Then all these approve.”
Don’t you have any shame!
Xie Junming laughed and looked at those elders. This time, even Pavilion Master Ding was somewhat speechless, and his expression became even more terrible. Xie Junming was too lazy to argue with him any further, and he lightly asked, “That’s right, I heard that the Alliance Leader’s young master was kidnapped?”
The Alliance Leader was startled before immediately following with, “That’s right, has Temple Master heard any information?”
Xie Junming didn’t answer, simply looking at the Shaolin Abbot. In his heart, the Alliance Leader felt extremely anxious and so also looked over.
Seeing that those next to him didn’t appear to have any intentions of speaking, Abbot Ciyuan decided to take charge, settling the decision. He had heard some things about Xie Junming’s temper, and since this person was adamant about participating in this matter now, to prevent things from becoming even more of a mess, it’d be better to just allow this person to do as the other wished.
Xie Junming was very satisfied and said, “Then I’ll trouble the Abbot to help me prepare a room.”
The Alliance Leader asked, “Temple Master Xie, my son…”
Xie Junming said, “Oh, I haven’t heard any useful information, but since we’re all going to be living under the same roof for this period of time, I couldn’t help but ask a few words out of concern. What is it? Do you already have clues regarding the matter with your esteemed son?”
“…” The Alliance Leader was very vexed, and simply said a word of, ‘No,’ before ignoring him completely.
Xie Junming asked, “To what level have matters gotten to? Someone come and tell me about it.”
Since he had clearly and openly asked this question, and everyone had tacitly approved his staying behind, they couldn’t actually really ignore him. But of course, Pavilion Master Ding was unwilling to pay him any attention, silently refusing to speak. The Abbot and the others pulled Xie Junming into the study that they had recently been using these past few days to discuss business and simply laid out the chessboard for him.
“Hm, this board is quite big. Where’s the Sir Xiao all of you mentioned?” Xie Junming looked around the circle and said, “Speaking of which, Sect Master Wenren also isn’t here today.”
Academy Master Ge said, “Sir Xiao’s health isn’t good, so Sect Master Wenren invited Young Miracle Doctor Fang over to take his pulse and is probably even now accompanying him.”
“Oh, since they’re not here, then I’ll just say some things that they might not like hearing.” Xie Junming arrogantly declared that he was going to talk bad about some people behind their backs while completely ignoring the expressions of those around him. He asked, “Over these years, I’ve never heard of Sect Master Wenren having a Junior Brother. All of you aren’t suspicious?”
“Elder Yu truly did have a younger disciple. I’ve met him once before,” Manor Lord Wei said, “Ten years ago, he saw Elder Yu’s murder with his own eyes, receiving such a shock that he turned into a fool before then getting lost in an accident. Xiao-Heng found him again only recently.”
Xie Junming said, “Then there are even more issues. Right as he returned, something this big happened. All of you truly never suspected him?”
Certainly, they weren’t fools, but who’d be like you and directly say it out loud? Everyone silently looked at him and didn’t open their mouths.
Academy Master Ge couldn’t help but add in some words of assistance, “Perhaps it’s just a coincidence. Sir Xiao was originally clever, and since he lost his martial arts because of the matter with the white piece, he’d naturally want to get retribution. Moving back a step, even if there were truly some problems with him, he still wouldn’t be working for the white piece.”
“I also didn’t say he was working for the white piece. Oh, is he sick?” Xie Junming stood up, carrying an expression as if he was extremely worried, and said, “In the future, we’re all allies, so I’ll first go and pay him a visit before going to see that Mr. Xiao.”
He was true to his words, leaving as he spoke, directly throwing this crowd of people to the back of his mind.
Everyone looked at each other. They had never thought that they’d be sitting and discussing business with someone from the demonic faction, and all of them were somewhat speechless.
When Xie Junming left, he found a small monk to inquire about the whereabouts of Sir Xiao’s residence.
The small monk wasn’t clear on his goal and had some hesitation. “This…”
Xie Junming said, “Monks shouldn’t lie. If you know, just say you know. If you don’t know, just tell me you don’t know.”
The small monk, “…”
Xie Junming raised his eyebrows.
The small monk completely wasn’t this person’s opponent, and he was utterly defeated with only a few sentences. Upon seeing that none of the elders of the righteous faction had come out to block the other’s way, he thereupon became resigned and helped to point out the way.
Xie Junming then slowly walked to Wenren Heng’s small courtyard. Right as he stepped into the yard, he saw Wenren Heng open the door, so he said, “Forgive my disturbance. I hope Sect Master Wenren won’t take offense.”
Wenren Heng knew that even if he said he was offended, this person wouldn’t care in the least. Smiling faintly, he said, “Of course not, please, come in, Temple Master Xie.”
Xie Junming said, “I’ll be living at Shaolin these next two days, and I heard that Sir Xiao’s health wasn’t good, so I wanted to come pay a little visit…”
As they spoke, these two people stepped into the room. Xie Junming lifted his head and instantly met Ye You’s smiling gaze. Honing in, he sized up the other’s miserable appearance and said, sighing, “Ah, Sir Xiao’s illness is quite heavy. Have you already taken medicine?”
Ye You said, all smiles, “I’ve been waiting for you to deliver it.”
The moment Xie Junming heard this, he knew that they didn’t need to conceal their words from Wenren Heng, so he immediately stopped pretending. He rushed over, wanting to unravel those bandages on the other’s head. “What happened to you? You better not have really destroyed such a good face. It’d be too much of a pity.”
Wenren Heng reached out a hand to block him and said, mildly, “They’re burns, and they’re almost healed. Please sit, Temple Master Xie.”
Xie Junming looked between the two of them for a while before finally looking at his good friend. “He’s really your Senior Brother?”
Ye You said, “I remember telling you that I was from the Central Plains. I moved out only ten years ago.”
Xie Junming said, “But you didn’t say that you were disciple- brothers with Wenren Heng. In the past, when you two met, your relationship didn’t look particularly good.”
Ye You said, “You learning about this now still doesn’t count as too late.”
Xie Junming asked, “Then how did you get burns on your face?” Ye You said, “There was a bit of an accident.”
His Senior Brother had also asked about this matter, but it was truly an accident. At that time, he had simply wanted to start a small fire, but he hadn’t anticipated that he’d be smashed in the face with something.
Seeing that he wasn’t going into detail, Xie Junming simply reached out a hand. “Unravel it and let me see how the burns look.”
“It’s already healed.” Ye You smiled and stopped him in his tracks. “You can’t have just come to see me solely for the sake of studying my face, right?”
Xie Junming internally thought that wasn’t it precisely because of
this person pretending to be ill and not appearing that he had come, while giving the excuse that he was paying a visit. He suddenly thought of something and asked, “I heard that you also called for Young Miracle Doctor Fang. Aren’t you afraid that he’ll expose you?”
Ye You said, “There’s no problems. All of them know that my mood isn’t good, so my lack of energy is natural.”
Xie Junming said, “Reason?” Ye You faintly said, “Lost love.”
Xie Junming was amused. “That’s easy to take care of. This brother will comfort you. Just with this face of yours, this brother is willing to try it out once.”
Ye You said, “I’ve never said that I was into men.”
Xie Junming said, “You aren’t even tempted by the beautiful Lady Tao. If you aren’t into men, what are you into? Just admit it. Even if you aren’t, this brother has a way to make you into men for a while.”
Wenren Heng truly didn’t want to hear them keep going back and forth with this nonsense, so he gently interrupted them, telling them that matters were urgent. Ye You naturally wouldn’t oppose his Senior Brother’s intentions and obediently listened. Xie Junming rarely ever saw his good friend this well-behaved, and he looked at them, vaguely feeling as if there was something subtle about these two’s relationship. But he also knew that it wouldn’t be appropriate if he stayed for too long, so he began talking about the things he investigated.
He asked, “After the Zhong family’s young master was kidnapped, did you see the mark?”
Ye You nodded. “The person’s in your hands?”
Xie Junming said, “Yes. That mark was the one that that monster personally used twenty years ago.”
Ye You said, “I know. You’re saying that the Alliance Leader has some sort of relationship with him?”
“Perhaps,” Xie Junming said, “It was you who reminded me to continue digging for this information, so I turned to digging about any troubles that had occurred, and I dug until I reached the matter from over twenty years ago. That monster once had a retainer who, if still alive, should probably be as old as the Alliance Leader is now.”
Ye You raised a brow. “It can’t be just a guess, right?”
Xie Junming said, “Yes, I investigated for a long time, until I found a particular detail. That retainer had suffered an injury for the sake of that monster, and his left shoulder had been cut before. If the Alliance Leader truly is him, perhaps a scar still remains.”
Ye You said, “When was this?”
Xie Junming said, “Over twenty years ago. At that time, that monster hadn’t committed any wrongdoings, so most likely, not many people noticed that he had a retainer. When that monster became infamous across the realm, his retainer had already been long gone from his side. It was also at that time that the Alliance Leader began appearing in Jianghu. And there’s one more thing. Before that monster died, it seemed as if there was something wrong with his internal energy. If he truly had been given the drug, then it was probably done by someone who knew him intimately.”
Ye You said, “So if that’s true, and the Alliance Leader is truly that retainer, then wouldn’t that mean he performed a great service? Why did you kidnap his son?”
Xie Junming said, “Recently, the Lantern-Extinguishing Poison has appeared again, and the matter with Bodhi Prison has blown up this fiercely. Who knows if he’s part of this, and whether he is or not, it’s better to kidnap first, and then ask questions later. Anyway, it’s not like his son knows that I was the kidnapper either.”
Ye You laughed and said, “You sure did a good job.”
Xie Junming said, “These are the only things I’ve found. At that time, although there was the Hundred-Grass Dew, it was exceedingly expensive. Such a big man like him probably wouldn’t buy that medicine just for the sake of getting rid of his scar. And the longer the scar remained, the less efficacy the Hundred-Grass Dew will have on it, unless he cuts himself again over that scar and then apply the medicine over that new injury.”
Ye You looked thoughtful. “Yes.”
Xie Junming laughed and said, “How about it? Thinking of a way to take off the Alliance Leader’s clothes?”
Ye You was about to say that there was no need to do that for now, and to wait for the Alliance Leader’s reaction, but before he had even opened his mouth, he saw the other’s wicked smile and asked, “You already thought of an idea?”
Xie Junming said, “Of course.”
Xie Junming’s idea was extremely simple and rough.
He was preparing to go find the Alliance Leader directly at night, telling the other about a friend who had invited a fortune-teller and was informed that if he remained unmarried, then next year would be a year of terrible ill-fortune. And this supposed marriage partner was a man, who was located somewhere in the southeast, whose
surname had something to do with gold and silver metalware193, and whose lower back had a birthmark shaped like the Big Dipper.
Ye You repeated, “Your friend?”
“Yes, my friend.” Xie Junming laughed ostentatiously. “And it just so happens that the Alliance Leader hasn’t remarried194. What do you think?”
Ye You sighed very ruefully. “Ah, you’re truly going to so much trouble for the sake of your friend that you’re even willing to take off the clothes of an old man who’s already passed fifty years of age.”
Xie Junming said, “There’s not many friends who can make me go through all this much trouble. It’s enough to have only that one.”
Ye You then knew that the other wanted to use him as an excuse. He gave the other a look before weakly leaning his head against his Senior Brother’s shoulder. Wenren Heng immediately reached out a hand to his waist and pulled him into an embrace, softly asking, “What is it? Not feeling well?”
Ye You said, “Yes.”
Wenren Heng then lifted the person up and, acting as if no one else was there, carried the other over to the bed, asking where the other felt unwell. Then, upon hearing his Junior Brother saying, in a thin voice, that it was the chest, he couldn’t help but smile and ask, voice soft, “Want Senior Brother to rub it for you?”
Ye You said, “Yes.” Xie Junming, “…”
He had only just put forth an idea to make fun of a certain someone, and this scoundrel immediately retaliated with trying to blind his eyes.
Wenren Heng turned back to look at him, politely chasing out this guest, “Temple Master Xie, my Junior Brother is feeling unwell, and he’s truly not fit to sit for a long period of time. Let’s stop here for today. I won’t see you out.”
Xie Junming stood up and left the room, silently looking at the scarred man who had been standing guard outside.
The scarred man’s entire body tensed up.
Temple Master Xie was good friends with Sect Master Ye, and so there was the distinct possibility that the other had discovered Sir Xiao’s true identity. And now that Sir Xiao had suffered from such a loss, if he learned that the Sect Master had always been lying to him, how could they ever make it right? And in the case that he recovered his memories, wouldn’t his relationship with the Sect Master return to how it was before? What then could their Sect Master do?
Xie Junming slowly said, “What’s the relationship between your Sect Master and Sir Xiao?”
The scarred man calmly said, “Disciple-brothers.” Xie Junming continued silently looking at him.
The scarred man was once again nervous, feeling as if all the hair on his body was standing on end, and he stared unblinking at Temple Master Xie, afraid that this big lord was going to say something earth-shattering. He couldn’t help but tactfully remind, “Temple Master Xie, our Sir Xiao’s mood hasn’t been good these past few days. He can’t take being provoked too much.”
Xie Junming patted his shoulder, rather as if he was lamenting the state of the heavens and pitying the fate of humankind, and threw down a, “You’re still far too young,” before turning around and leaving. The scarred man was completely at a loss, and he followed the other’s departure with his eyes. When he saw that the room door was still open, he went over to close it, also taking the opportunity to take a peek inside, finding that the Sect Master was sitting at the bedside, appearing as if comforting Sir Xiao. He couldn’t see anything wrong with this scene, so he guessed that Xie Junming had been referring to the matter of, “Sir Xiao is actually Sect Master Ye.” He then considerately helped them close the door.
Wenren Heng was holding his Junior Brother’s hand and slowly playing with it. He said, “Will he really go to take off the Alliance Leader’s clothes?”
Ye You laughed and said, “He will.”
Xie Junming had exactly this kind of unbridled temperament. Something that’d ordinarily be easy to do, he’d impatiently go and find a complicated way to do it.
And the Alliance Leader’s temper was good, and he was known as an inoffensive person. It was only taking off some clothes; even if he was truly angry in his heart, he wouldn’t show it on his face, and the most he’d feel was a bout of helplessness and a headache.
Wenren Heng said, “He came to see you today, and tonight he’s going directly to take off the Alliance Leader’s clothes. They’ll definitely suspect that you said something”
Ye You was very calm. “It doesn’t matter. Right now, other than me, they also can’t find another person who seems like the black piece.”
Wenren Heng said, “You want to take this opportunity to pressure the Alliance Leader again, and let him feel that you’ve started suspecting him?”
“We could try. Regardless, I can’t stop Xie Junming.” Ye You sat up. “It’s just that there’s one thing that I feel is very strange.”
Wenren Heng understood and asked, “You’re wondering why the white piece’s next move still hasn’t arrived?” Ye You made a sound in agreement and leaned against the headboard, muttering to himself.
Since the matter of Bodhi Prison had been exposed, the white piece should’ve learned that there was no way to conceal this matter, no matter what mess was constructed to divert people’s attention, and that the only thing that could be done was to find a scapegoat. And from the way that they killed Shaolin’s people with that flute playing, one could see that they were capable of reacting very quickly.
Although Li Hua, Fuping, and Mr. Xiao had been captured afterwards, and one of them had been buried by him, there should at least be some kind of countermeasure in place.
It couldn’t be that the white piece had only Fuping and Mr. Xiao to receive orders, and so with these two people under control, those people no longer knew what to do, right? Was it possible?
Wenren Heng asked, “How many of their matters do you know?”
“Only a few. They’re too cautious. Some things they’ve cleaned up very well, and I can only make a guess that it has something to do with them, but I don’t have any evidence.” Ye You said, “Bodhi Prison was something that I sent people to watch year-round before I finally learned something. And I knew that they were making drugs because I was clear that there was that villa in the mountains.”
Wenren Heng suddenly thought of those map pieces which had tormented everyone to no end, and then he also thought of the year they were written. He guessed, “Did you learn about this from that matter with Master?”
Ye You said, “Yes, at the time, the fleeing adventurer had escaped from precisely that villa. That swordsman who suffered from a qi deviation most likely was fed the drug, and the product had yet to be completed at the time, so he ended up killing anyone he saw. Before his death, the adventurer stuffed a strip of paper into my clothes and, after saying a few words, died.”
Wenren Heng said, “And then you just kept it to yourself, and thought of that pretense to fake madness?” Ye You didn’t want to bring up old grudges, so he simply gave a nod before continuing to speak, “Over the years, I’ve always been observing them, and I knew that they had a miracle doctor, a trusted advisor, a drug that can change a child’s memories, and a troop of drugged men as well as a few monsters who are still alive… Senior Brother, if you were them, what would you do now?”
Wenren Heng said, “If it was me, since everything has blown up to the point where it’s become known to everyone, why not just move that troop of drugged people. Then, I’d have them start showing some movements, even perhaps cause a tragedy, elsewhere, so as to lure people over there, all so that I can find an opportunity on the road there to contact my own people. Anything would be better than staying at Shaolin, constantly kept restricted under watch. And I’d also need to think of a way to first get rid of you. Without you in the middle spoiling things, matters would become much easier to deal with.”
Ye You said, “I also thought it’d be like this. Since things have already gotten this vicious and brutal, I don’t think that they’d mind being burdened with a few more lives…”
As he spoke, his heart skipped a beat, and he met his Senior Brother’s gaze. Upon seeing his Senior Brother wrinkling his brows, he guessed that they had probably thought of the same thing and asked, “Do you think that they’ll capture some people to surround us?”
Wenren Heng said, “It’s very possible.”
For the entire afternoon, all was still and quiet, and evening quickly arrived.
Although those elders were extremely unwilling to sit at the same table with Xie Junming, for the sake of their honorable reputation, they still came out and ate a meal together. And, in a rare sight, Xie Junming didn’t voice any criticisms over the Buddhist meal he was given. As if he was presenting himself as a sterling example of the adage ‘don’t speak while eating’, he stayed completely quiet, which actually caused some of the elders to feel quite moved.
The Alliance Leader had originally wanted to go down the mountain and take a walk today, but he was stopped by the earnest and well- meaning Academy Master Ge and the others. He couldn’t so easily refuse, so the only thing he could was resign himself and give up the idea. But since his son’s whereabouts were unknown, he had absolutely no appetite, and he ate only a few simple bites before no longer moving his chopsticks.
Xie Junming gave him a look before unhurriedly continuing to eat, internally thinking that Shaolin’s food sure was terrible, no wonder a certain someone refused to come out by faking illness. He suppressed his temper and endured until they had all just about finished eating. After patiently sitting for a while, he saw the skies gradually darken and went to find someone to make some inquiries before turning around to go to the Alliance Leader’s room.
Having received Sir Xiao’s suggestion, the Junior Sect Masters had separated into groups to watch the Alliance Leader. Right now, the ones responsible for being on watch just so happened to be Ding Xilai and another Junior Sect Master. The two were huddled in a corner, staring wide-eyed as they watched Xie Junming knock and open the Alliance Leader’s door. They faintly felt as if they had just discovered the reason for Xie Junming suddenly coming to Shaolin
— this person couldn’t be the white piece’s man, right?
They were immediately excited, and they surreptitiously scooted forward little by little.
At this time, Ren Shaotian suddenly said, “There’s sounds of a scuffle. They’ve started fighting.”
This was the first time Ding Xilai had been so unwavering in the face of something big happening, and he quickly stood up. “Rush in to save that person!”
Ren Shaotian didn’t raise any objections, and he rushed forward and kicked the door open with his foot. Ding Xilai and the Junior Sect Master didn’t dare to approach, but they found a place where they could clearly see the room. Thereupon, they saw that Xie Junming was currently taking off the Alliance Leader’s clothes; his speed was very fast, and he had already reached the last layer. And the Alliance Leader was simply standing there, motionless; it was clearly evident that his acupoint had been hit.
The three people, “…”
Xie Junming gave them a glance.
Ren Shaotian had been shocked stiff at the entrance, and he didn’t know if he should enter or retreat.
Ding Xilai’s heroic spirit just now hadn’t yet entirely dispersed, and upon seeing his good friend’s old man on the verge of being tossed about, he felt his vision turn black. Without even thinking, he walked over. “Temple Master Xie, what are you doing?! Don’t get carried away by your delusions! Let go right this instant!”
Xie Junming threw away the Alliance Leader’s final layer of inner robes and looked at the Alliance Leader’s left shoulder before finally looking at them once again. He laughed very handsomely. “Say those words just now again. Who’s getting carried away by delusions?”
Ding Xilai and the Junior Sect Master behind him both felt their hearts tremble. That imposing air in Ding Xilai’s chest had also been completely used up, and he turned around and ran. “You wait! We’re going to call for others to come!”
Xie Junming had seen what he wanted to see, and without any sincerity, he apologized to the Alliance Leader for committing an offense. Seeing that Ren Shaotian was still here guarding the place, he then threw the person at the other and said, right before leaving, “If you want to know the reason, ask him.”
Ren Shaotian unsealed the Alliance Leader’s acupoint and asked, “Alliance Leader, are you all right?”
Since assuming his position, the Alliance Leader had never been treated this way by anyone. Added onto the fact that there was no information about his son, causing him to be incessantly worried, with how Xie Junming had messed with him just now, he felt the veins on his forehead visibly throbbing, and he looked as if he was practically going to explode with anger.
Ren Shaotian looked at him, hoping that he could say a few words. But the Alliance Leader, fearing that he’d start spitting fire the moment he opened his mouth, simply sat down with a stiff and cold face. Ren Shaotian shot him two more glances before deciding not to disturb him any further and leaving.
And then when Ding Xilai and the Junior Sect Master brought people over in a hurry, they heard only that Xie Junming had already left.
Pavilion Master Ding and Manor Lord Wei and the others hastily hurried to inquire about the reason. This kind of matter was inappropriate for the younger generation to listen to, so they tactfully avoided it. Ding Xilai was choked with discomfort, and as if fire was nipping at his heels, he ran to find Sir Xiao and say, “Sir Xiao, I know why Xie Junming came to Shaolin now! It turns out that he’s interested in the Alliance Leader!”
Ye You, “…” Wenren Heng, “…”
Ding Xilai spilled the beans, the whole story coming out
with clinks and clatters. With some lingering fear, he said, “He left only when he heard that we were calling for other people. It was lucky that we were around, or else the consequences would’ve been inconceivable. Don’t you also think that he’s especially shameless! The Alliance Leader is old enough to be his dad!”
Ye You really couldn’t endure it anymore. He lifted the teacup to sip at the tea so as to hide his smile.
Ding Xilai said, “Don’t you think so, Sir Xiao?”
Ye You said, in deadly earnest, “It sounds truly terrible.”
“That’s exactly right!” Ding Xilai said, thinking deep down that he had done a great deed. He was about to boast some more before once again asking for the other to accept him when he saw that Qin Yuemian had come.
Qin Yuemian walked over and sat down. He said, laughing, “Why is it so lively?”
Ye You gave him a glance, coincidentally meeting his gaze directly. Understanding that there was some business, Ye You then told Ding Xilai that, with this matter happening now, the white piece would perhaps take this opportunity to comfort and approach the Alliance Leader. Hearing this, Ding Xilai was even more excited and ran off. Ye You then finally turned to look at Qin Yuemian once again and said, “If there’s something, just say it directly.”
Qin Yuemian looked at Wenren Heng in astonishment, with questions in his eyes.
Wenren Heng poured a cup of tea for him and said, especially amiably, “My thanks for taking care of my Junior Brother for the past while.”
Qin Yuemian, “…”
Why does he feel somewhat cold?
Ye You said, “What is it?”
Qin Yuemian took out a strip of paper to give him and said, “It was received today. It says that that troop of drugged men might have already started moving.”
With his position as a prodigal son, since coming with them to Shaolin, other than going to the small county town to eat a good meal and drink some alcohol, Qin Yuemian most enjoyed going to find Lady Tao to drink some tea. He wasn’t like Sir Xiao who had other people’s eyes on him, and it was far easier for him to receive information.
He asked, “The drugged men this is referring to are the white piece’s?”
Ye You nodded.
He had never been certain about where exactly those people were located; he could make only a rough estimate of their position and send people to watch the surroundings. The “possibility” written on the paper could be either that those keeping watch had thought something felt wrong or that accomplice of his had made a new discovery and so had thought of a way to hand Qin Yuemian new information.
Having seen Master Deru’s berserk appearance, Qin Yuemian was profoundly aware of the fearsome quality of those drugged men. He asked, “What do they want to use those drugged people to do?”
Ye You said, all smiles, “For instance, directly murdering all of Shaolin. Or, for instance, capturing a group of people from Jianghu and then surrounding this place so as to force the Abbot to exchange prisoners, all the while killing the hostages one by one as they count down, until we’re willing to do the exchange. Or, for instance, if they decide to do something even worse, after capturing people, they’ll pick an advantageous place to do an exchange of prisoners with the Abbot, while also preparing a trap, thus neatly killing all of us, resulting in a clean resolution.”
Qin Yuemian’s heart immediately started beating erratically. “—— What?” Ye You said, “If the other party is deranged enough, I think that this is what they’ll do. We can only wait and see which one they choose, hm… Since I’ve been a thorn in their eyes, I’ll definitely be one of those chosen when the time comes. If I’m really chosen, don’t miss me too much.”
Qin Yuemian forced himself to be calm and asked. “You’d listen?”
“I would,” Ye You earnestly said, “What does a single person’s life count in the face of Jianghu’s great righteousness?”
Qin Yuemian didn’t want to hear the other’s nonsense and looked towards Wenren Heng.
Wenren Heng said, “After two days, it’ll be the Mid-Autumn Festival.”
Qin Yuemian said, “So?”
Wenren Heng asked, “You don’t want to go out to play?” Qin Yuemian raised his brows.
At this time, those elders had heard the entire course of events from the Alliance Leader’s mouth, and all of them had fallen silent in the face of Xie Junming’s formidable reasoning.
Pavilion Master Ding coldly said, “I did say not to let him remain.”
The Alliance Leader had already gradually calmed. He wrinkled his brows. “Could it be that he purposely found an excuse?”
Manor Lord Wei asked, “You think that he has some other goal?”
Using those words “some other goal” in this type of situation caused the rest of them to start thinking a bit crookedly, just like Ding Xilai, but they forcibly pulled themselves back with their rationality. They heard the Alliance Leader continue with, “I don’t know. No ordinary person would ever…” As he spoke, he realized that one couldn’t use common sense to comprehend Xie Junming, so he could only bear with his aching head and change his words, “No matter what it is, we still need to at least say a word to him. We can’t let him take off someone else’s clothes.”
Everyone thought that this made sense. Besides, with the way that this person of the demonic faction had treated the martial arts circle’s Alliance Leader, how could they possibly swallow their anger. Thus, they went together to Xie Junming’s small courtyard at once, wanting to drag out an explanation.
Xie Junming was currently drinking some tea, with completely no intention of going to sleep.
Everyone collectively wondered had this person been waiting for them as they walked into the yard.
Xie Junming said, “Because of what happened just now?” The Alliance Leader said, “You really did it for that reason?”
Xie Junming laughed and returned with a question, “It couldn’t be that you thought I was interested in you?”
The Alliance Leader choked. Upon hearing this nonsense, Pavilion Master Ding’s expression turned even more ugly. Upon seeing all this, Manor Lord Wei hurried to speak, amiably mediating for a moment, before then vaguely indicating that they all didn’t believe this excuse.
Xie Junming said, “What I said was the truth.”
Everyone felt their heads ache, and they all thought this person was hopeless.
“I don’t have many friends, and I think all of you’ve already guessed who I did this for,” Xie Junming said, “That fortune-teller really did say this at the time, but all the information was too detailed, so it contrarily made people think that there were problems with it.”
Everyone was dumbfounded. Xie Junming was far too familiar with Ye You. During the day, he had heard about the entire progress of events, including the words that Ye You had said to Mr. Xiao, and so he had understood the other’s intention to sow discord. He said, “This matter happened recently, and your righteous faction were coincidentally all abuzz with trouble. Me and Ah-You both thought that someone wanted to lure him over to Shaolin, so I stopped him and came first by myself.”
The Alliance Leader asked, “You two didn’t capture that fortune- teller?”
“Wouldn’t doing that just alert the enemy?” Xie Junming said, “At that time, Ah-You simply sent people to follow that fortune-teller, but there hasn’t been any news even up till now.”
Everyone fell silent.
Xie Junming said, “The fortune-teller also said that that person’s identity was respected. Right when I got nearby, I heard that Sir Zhong was kidnapped, so I naturally and inadvertently started thinking of the Alliance Leader.” He looked at the Alliance Leader. “Does Sir Zhong have a birthmark on his lower back?”
The Alliance Leader’s head throbbed. “No.”
Xie Junming said, “See, I didn’t know this. It could be that the matter with the birthmark was the fortune-teller just speaking nonsense, or else with the sea of people so vast, how could it be so easy to find that person? Do any of you have anyone to choose from?”
Everyone thought for a moment before shaking their heads.
Xie Junming said, “So I still think this matter is odd. Alliance Leader, do you have any enemies?”
The Alliance Leader said, “It doesn’t have to be referring to me.”
Xie Junming said, “But even with this many people, the first one I thought of was you. Oh, maybe I really did make a mistake.”
Everyone once again fell silent. All these things had come one after the other. Whether something was true or not, everything about this situation was still as yet unclear, as if covered by a layer of fog, and they completely didn’t know what kind of scene would greet them when they awoke tomorrow.
Xie Junming said, “In short, this is all I know.”
Everyone gave him a look. They understood that they would not be able to get anything else useful from him and so took their leave one by one. Xie Junming watched them leave. Carrying a wicked smile, he joyfully finished drinking his cup of tea and then went to sleep.
At this moment, Qin Yuemian had also left. Seeing his good friend personally see him out, he couldn’t help but say, “I also just learned his identity.”
Wenren Heng nodded and gently said, “You should sleep early.”
Qin Yuemian still felt somewhat cold, and guessed that he had earned some ill luck for the future. In his heart, he cursed these two disciple-brothers, resigning himself to fate.
Wenren Heng turned around and entered the room. Seeing his Junior Brother sitting there in deep thought, he went over to unravel the bandages, pinching the other’s chin to look at the traces of the burns, before deciding to apply medicine for a few more days. He said, “Go wash your face.”
Ye You obediently washed his face, and when he returned, he sat down and had his Senior Brother apply medicine, still completely absent-minded.
The scars on his face were already very light and were almost invisible unless one looked very carefully. Wenren Heng simply helped the other apply a very thin layer of medicine before stowing away the small porcelain bottle and wiping his hands. “Let’s sleep.”
Ye You made a sound in agreement. He stood up, took off his clothes, and crawled into bed. Wenren Heng cleaned up very simply before lying down next to him, pulling this person into an embrace and asking, “What are you still thinking about? Are you afraid that if there really is a portion of drugged people nearby that our arrangements won’t be ready in time?”
Ye You said, “That’s one of them.”
Wenren Heng said, “What are the others?”
Ye You said, “I want to talk with Miracle Doctor Ji alone and ask him about the matter with his oldest disciple.”
Wenren Heng said, “You suspect that the white piece’s miracle doctor is his oldest disciple?”
Ye You said a simple, “Yes.”
However, Miracle Doctor Ji’s status right now was special. He had to make an antidote for the drugged Master Deru, and he also had to investigate if Li Hua had been drugged in her childhood. And with the white piece relying heavily on drugged people, if an antidote was not found, they could capture and drug anyone at any time, and the amount of drugged people would be neverending.
So right now the ones whom the white piece most wanted to get rid of were Miracle Doctor Ji and Young Miracle Doctor Fang, and even he was considered secondary to those two. Abbot Ciyuan and Sect Leader Xuanyang also definitely guessed this issue and thus had sent several of Shaolin’s senior monks and eighteen arhats195 to protect
that master-disciple pair. No matter who went, those guards would be keeping watch on the side. Today, when the Young Miracle Doctor came to examine his health, Shaolin’s people also provided an escort along the way. If he wanted to talk to Miracle Doctor Ji alone, it’d be extremely difficult.
He looked at his Senior Brother. “If I go over and directly ask him about the matter with his oldest disciple, do you think that he’d tell me the truth with Shaolin’s people there?” Wenren Heng considered it for a moment. “You can try. He helped cover for you once. This time, perhaps he’ll tell you something useful.”
“Yes, I thought so too. But I’ve already called over the Young Miracle Doctor today, so what excuse do I use to go find him? Chest pains?” Ye You suddenly stopped. He looked at that face that was almost within reach and blurted out the words, “Senior Brother, my chest hurts.”
“…” Wenren Heng’s entire mind had been filled with proper business, so when he heard the other suddenly turn towards this, he became suddenly speechless.
Ye You laughed and leaned towards him.
Wenren Heng gathered the person in his arms and then used a hand to reach down the other’s collar, exploring as he went.
Ye You raised a brow.
Wenren Heng said, “Doesn’t your chest hurt? I’m helping you massage it.”
“Actually, it doesn’t hurt too badly. Senior Brother, don’t forget that this is Shaolin. We need to be a bit more proper…” Ye You’s words disappeared when another mouth met his own. Upon feeling his waistband being undone, he wrapped his arms around his Senior Brother’s neck.
Wenren Heng held the other, kissing with heartfelt feeling for a very long time. By the time he let go, his own clothes were also half-open. He half-supported himself up and looked at the other. “Does it still hurt?”
Ye You’s breathing was stuttered, and he looked at the person next to him under the ambiguous candlelight. He narrowed his eyes. “It’s all right.”
Wenren Heng reached out a thumb to rub at the corners of his mouth. “Do you feel uncomfortable anywhere else?” Ye You asked, “Where do you think I feel uncomfortable?”
“I think you look quite good.” Wenren Heng let him go and laid down on the side, half-leaning with head lowered to look at him, clothes still untidy, with half the chest exposed, exuding a somewhat wanton and unrestrained air, somewhat different from the usual gentle appearance.
Ye You examined him for a while before pulling at his collar.
Wenren Heng grabbed the other’s rebellious hand and raised it up to his lips to kiss. “Not sleeping?”
Ye You asked, “Are you sleeping?”
Wenren Heng said, “If you’re more well-behaved, I’ll sleep.”
Ye You nodded, unhurriedly straightened out his clothes, and lazily laid down, as an indication that he was going to sleep and that he was definitely not going to mess around. Wenren Heng saw him seriously close his eyes and watched him for a while before leaning over to kiss him on the lips. Ye You’s lips twitched. “It definitely isn’t an issue with me this time.”
Wenren Heng internally thought a simple you disaster and couldn’t help kissing deep, regaining control of himself only several moments later and retreating.
Ye You did his best to calm down his breathing. “You’re worried that there will be some movements tonight?”
“It’s not like that isn’t a possibility,” Wenren Heng said.
Since learning of the white piece’s identity, he was now clear on how serious matters were. Right now, they were right beneath the white piece’s eyes, and so they couldn’t be easily distracted. What’s more, the Alliance Leader had one thing after another happen to him today, so no one knew whether he’d decide to make some moves tonight.
Wenren Heng asked, “Twenty years ago, did that monster die?” All the messy thoughts in Ye You’s mind swiftly quieted down, and he was silent for an instant before saying, “I don’t know, but I don’t think he died.”
Wenren Heng said, “When all of you went to Xiangxing City, Miracle Doctor Ji said that the white piece was continually adding efficacy to the drug, possibly in order to control even more incredible martial artists. If that monster isn’t dead, could they be wanting to control him?”
Ye You suddenly sat up. “Miracle Doctor Ji said this?”
Wenren Heng said, “Yes. If the Alliance Leader is truly that monster’s retainer, and he had left that year only as a stopgap measure, then he’s still that monster’s man, and so he only has a working relationship with the white piece.”
Ye You continued the conversation, “If, for example, the Alliance Leader is completely ignorant about the white piece’s drugging plan, then hearing those words from Miracle Doctor Ji would’ve made him think of his master. And right after that, his son was kidnapped, while I also sowed some additional discord, and then tonight, he also had his clothes taken off by Xie Junming…”
Wenren Heng said, “The Alliance Leader has worked with the white piece for this many years, so he’s the most familiar with and clear about the white piece’s methods.”
Ye You immediately said, “Senior Brother, I’m going out really quick.”
Wenren Heng said, “I’ll go with you.”
Ye You said, “No need, I’m fine by myself. I’m just going to first find Xie Junming and ask about the results.”
Wenren Heng didn’t stop him, telling him that there was a set
of night-walking clothes196 in the cloth bundle, and, while watching him change into it, asked, “If I hadn’t forced you to tell me the truth, what would you be doing now?” Ye You let out a laugh. “I’d probably spend the night sleeping with Xie Junming.”
Wenren Heng said, “Your reasoning?”
Ye You earnestly said, “Sorrow at such a belated meeting, as ’twas love at first sight.”
Wenren Heng, “…”
Ye You laughed at him again before pushing open the window and leaving.
Wenren Heng patiently waited, and he waited for no less than two hours before he saw the other finally return. The stone lodged in his heart dissolved, and he asked, “Finished arranging everything?”
“Yes, even if I’m watched midway, I’ve resolved it all.” As Ye You spoke, he took off the night-walking clothes and placed them down neatly, simply wiping himself clean, before once again returning to bed.
Wenren Heng helped him find a comfortable position and held him securely. “Let’s sleep.”
Ye You laid there for a while before saying, “Senior Brother?” Wenren Heng said, “Hm?”
Ye You said, “I think even if the Alliance Leader is going to move, he’ll move in the later part of the night. Why don’t we ah…”
Before he could finish speaking, Wenren Heng kissed him and, immediately following, took off his clothes. He took a moment to react before slightly moving aside and saying in surprise, “…Senior Brother?”
Wenren Heng responded with a simple sound of acknowledgement, but the hands on his body didn’t stop.
Ye You said, “I was going to say, why don’t we get up later in the night to look. What did you think I meant?” Wenren Heng, “…”
The two looked at one another. Ye You meaningfully raised his eyebrows, and Wenren Heng’s expression turned slightly dark before the other pressed him down and kissed him again.
In all honesty, Ye You truly had wanted to ask if they should go outside.
But of course since his Senior Brother had continuously been suppressing the urge, his words unintentionally aroused his Senior Brother’s fire.
He was somewhat anxious and had a mind to use a few words to explain when he felt himself suddenly being let go, and those burning lips moved to his ears before then traveling downwards. He couldn’t help but let out a gasp, “Senior Brother…”
The two’s clothes had already been completely taken off and thrown to the side. Wenren Heng held him, finally wrestling back a sliver of rationality amidst the assault from the chaos of desire, akin to someone guarding a city on the verge of collapse. And amidst this invisible fight that blanketed all beneath the heavens, a cry rang out, How is it proper for this one to keep acting so willfully?
He sucked in a deep breath and stiffly forced himself to stop. He held the person in his arms tightly, his thumb slowly stroking this person’s skin, the warmth of his breath causing Ye You’s ears to burn red-hot.
Ye You swallowed a mouthful of saliva. “Senior…” Wenren Heng said, in a hoarse voice, “Stop talking.”
Right now, he already couldn’t take simply hearing this person calling him “Senior Brother” anymore.
Ye You was silent for a moment. “Actually, it’s fine if we don’t go out at night.”
Wenren Heng didn’t move.
Ye You said, “It’s not completely certain that he’ll make a move tonight, and we can’t just wait for him for an entire night. We didn’t sleep yesterday night, so let’s rest well today. And, I also already arranged everything…”
“Take this opportunity while I still don’t have any regrets to think this through,” Wenren Heng interrupted him, “Or else in a while nothing you say will be of any use.”
Ye You lifted his eyes. “There’s nothing to think about.”
He had never been someone who was fearful of things without reason or plagued by indecision. After he made the decision, he took the initiative to move his head over and give his Senior Brother a kiss on the lips. In a low voice, he murmured, “Senior Brother, I like you.”
Those words Wenren Heng had said just now had been said carelessly, and he had originally almost entirely suppressed everything. But upon being provoked by his Junior Brother at this time, he felt the fire in his body once again ignite, and as sudden as lightning, all his rationality was swallowed up.
He pinched this disaster’s chin and fiercely kissed the other, reaching out a hand to feel around the headboard for a while before finally grabbing the thing he wanted to grab.
Ye You took this intimate moment to give him a look and, in between gasps, said with a smile, “What kind of expression would Miracle Doctor Ji have if he knew that you were using his Hundred-Grass Dew for something like this?”
Wenren Heng said, “You better talk less and save your energy.”
“…” Ye You earnestly said, “Senior Brother, I thought about it, and let’s go out tonight after all. Let’s not delay in handling our proper business.”
“It’s late.” Wenren Heng lowered his eyes to look at the other. “Did I hurt you last time?”
Ye You had always felt that he was thick-skinned, but even he felt somewhat uncomfortable upon hearing these words. He said, “It was… all right.” Wenren Heng held the back of his head and dropped a kiss between his brows.
Ten years ago, the impatient youth had wholeheartedly wanted to obtain this person in his embrace, but with his clumsiness, he had to spend a long while of effort to fulfill his deepest wishes. And because of the use of alcohol, the entire event was hazy in his memories, as if completely shrouded with a layer of thick fog, and he had forgotten many of the details. The only thing he remembered was that this person in his arms had been continuously wrinkling his brows, looking weak enough to break into pieces with a single pinch.
He said, in a low voice, “Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you this time.”
Ye You felt as if his heart had been lit on fire. This feeling of someone spoiling him made him unable to help but say some cheap words, and he said, “All right. If it hurts, then I’ll do it next time.”
Wenren Heng smiled in a way that looked nothing like a smile. “You can try.”
Ye You looked at his Senior Brother’s erotic appearance and gave the other a rub. Hearing the other’s breathing turn rough, he laughed wickedly, hugging the other’s neck and licking the ears, languidly stretching out his words, “Senior Brother, why don’t I just do it now?”
Wenren Heng’s eyes darkened, and he didn’t know how many times he had thought in his heart the words you disaster. He pressed the person down and deepened the kiss.
Mid-autumn was about to arrive, and the moonlight got fuller by the day. One by one, everyone entered the world of dreams.
Under that silvery light, everything was extremely still.
Wenren Heng felt as if time was being stolen away, and in a flash, it was already past midnight.
Ye You’s breathing had not yet turned even, and his body was covered in a sheen of sweat. Wenren Heng helped him wipe himself clean and pulled him into an embrace, with no intention of sleeping for now. Ye You saw the soft light in the depths of the other’s eyes and reached out a hand to hug. “What are you thinking about?”
Wenren Heng lightly kissed his exposed shoulder. His voice carried a sliver of deep meaning, “Thinking about losing one’s head over sex.”
Ye You immediately let out a laugh, and he once again became naughty, licking his lips and saying, “Senior Brother…”
Wenren Heng pressed down his hand. “If you continue provoking me, then don’t even think about getting out of bed tomorrow.”
Tonight had been completely different from last time, and he had eaten a great delicacy while sober. Right now, he was craving to eat it again, so he was already being quite good in controlling himself and not continuing.
Ye You was acutely aware of the changes in his Senior Brother’s body, and having a clear view of things, he listened obediently.
He closed his eyes, and he felt himself slowly enclosed by a gentle sleepiness, laying down his weapons in surrender.
The next morning, Ye You faintly heard bits and pieces of a noisy clamor and came fully awake very quickly. Seeing his Senior Brother had long already gotten out of bed, he asked, “As expected, something happened?”
Wenren Heng handed some clothes over to him. “Should be. Let’s go.”
Ye You got off the bed and put on the clothes. After tidying up very simply, he followed after the other. When he raised his head, he saw Ding Xilai running over to them with a face full of anxiety. With a clear understanding, he asked, “What happened on the Alliance Leader’s side?”
Ding Xilai stopped and panted out a few breaths before saying, “The Alli…Alliance Leader, he, he disappeared!”
Ye You said, “Disappeared?” Ding Xilai said, “Yes, isn’t it now almost time for breakfast? The Alliance Leader hadn’t gotten up yet, and those guarding outside didn’t see him come out, so they asked a small monk, and the small monk said that he woke up quite early every day. They then went to knock on the door, and after waiting for a while and not hearing any movements, they opened the door and saw that the one inside was the Alliance Leader’s servant. Over the night, the Alliance Leader disguised himself as this servant and left. Do you think he was called away by the white piece?”
Ye You said, “Perhaps he was worried about Sir Zhong’s safety and wanted to go investigate himself. Does the Abbot and the others know already?”
Ding Xilai said, “They all know.”
Ye You said, “Yes, then let’s go eat.”
Ding Xilai saw that these two people still remained as calm as always and wondered at how their hearts managed to be so steady before following them into the dining hall.
Those elders were all already present and were currently discussing this matter.
Xie Junming was also up, but he wasn’t participating and was, rather, unselfconsciously eating by himself. His meal consisted
of tremella porridge197, mini steamed rolls198, and a few other small vegetable side dishes to match.
Shaolin still had not begun to serve meals, so all of this were definitely sent somehow by the people of Wuwang Temple, and they looked far better than Shaolin’s delicate meals. But this rascal didn’t even try to act well-behaved and eat it in his room, instead insisting on eating right here, making all the Sect Masters who had been eating only vegetables for the past few days want to dunk his head right into the porridge.
Wenren Heng gave the scene a look and took the opportunity while they were still at the door to say, “If this was you…” Ye You laughed in his heart and said, “Yes.” Wenren Heng said, “I just knew it.”
Ye You said, “It can’t be helped. Nature is as the heavens dictate.”
Ding Xilai was standing behind them, and he looked left and right before asking, baffled, “What does that mean?”
Wenren Heng said, “It means that Temple Master Xie is asking for quite the beating.”
“Really?” Ding Xilai’s face was full of doubt, but even after he thought of their conversation, he still couldn’t understand it.
Wenren Heng didn’t explain again, stowing away his inner thoughts and walking inside.
Right now, this Junior Brother of his truly had stowed away quite a bit of temper. He thought that if his Junior Brother didn’t need to preserve this false identity, instead changing back into the high and mighty, poison-tongued Sect Master Ye, then right now the other would probably do the same thing as Xie Junming, and possibly even work at inviting more hatred than Xie Junming — and sure enough, his Junior Brother just gave him definite confirmation.
His Junior Brother and Xie Junming’s characters were too similar.
Over these past few years, he had seen his Junior Brother only a few times, but in these few times that could be counted on one hand, the majority of the time, he had seen these two people together. This was also the reason why he didn’t like Xie Junming.
When they entered the hall, Xie Junming looked over and asked, laughing, “How’s Sir Xiao’s health? Want to eat together?”
Ye You pressed down on his instinctive reaction and said, “No thanks.”
Xie Junming thereupon turned away and returned to eating, as if he was simply asking out-of-hand just now. Academy Master Ge and the others saw Sir Xiao and asked, “Did you hear?”
Ye You nodded. “What exactly happened?”
Academy Master Ge helplessly sighed and explained the situation to him.
Although they had been able to think of the fact that the white piece would’ve kept eyes on the Alliance Leader, they still couldn’t have watched the Alliance Leader as if they were keeping watch on a criminal. But with those younger ones making such a disturbance, the Alliance Leader couldn’t very well rebuke them too fiercely, so he simply allowed them to do whatever.
Yesterday night, those keeping watch were some disciples from Qingcheng Sect found by Junior Sect Master Han. According to what they said, when it was almost midnight, a household servant hurriedly returned from the outside and knocked on the Alliance Leader’s door. After opening the door, the Alliance Leader talked a bit with that person, that household servant shook his head in response, and the Alliance Leader let out a sigh before calling the person into the room. In a flash, the household servant came out, and the Alliance Leader followed him out, leaving a few more words of instruction, before returning to sleep.
Regarding that household servant, none of them paid him too much attention. They simply saw that the Alliance Leader was still there and so had continued guarding, at ease.
Academy Master Ge said, “They also realized only today that the Alliance Leader and that household servant’s statures were somewhat similar. In addition, it was dark at night, so then it was… Ah, where do you think the Alliance Leader’s gone?”
Almost midnight, the first half of the night, so it was earlier than anticipated… Ye You thought in his heart, and out loud, he asked, “What do you elders think?”
Academy Master Ge said, “We asked the household servant if anyone had him deliver a letter, and also what the Alliance Leader said last night. The household servant professed to never receiving any information, and that the Alliance Leader left out of a desire to investigate his son’s whereabouts. But we’re all clear on the Alliance Leader’s character. Right now, the situation isn’t clear, and he’s not the type of person to just toss aside such a big matter.”
Ye You said, “So elders still think that it was the white piece who contacted him?”
The group nodded, and carefully reviewed the events in their minds.
Manor Lord Wei said, “The entire day yesterday, the Alliance Leader was almost always together with us. There was no real opportunity for him to contact someone alone.”
Academy Master Ge said, “Yes, it could have been on the way back, or it could have been during an interval we missed, or it could have been at night.”
Pavilion Master Ding said, “I was the one who went with him to Xiangxing City and returned with him. At that time, he still wasn’t aware that his son had been kidnapped, so it shouldn’t have happened on the way back.”
During the day, there were many people, so doing anything in secret was extremely difficult. Then the most probable time-frame became during nighttime, and as for that nighttime… Together, in silent agreement, everyone turned to look at Xie Junming. Yesterday night, the only one who came into contact with the Alliance Leader alone was this rascal.
As if he could feel their stares, Xie Junming lifted his head to look at them. “What? Are you suspecting me?”
No one spoke for a while.
Pavilion Master Ding didn’t care about him and bluntly asked, “What did you say to the Alliance Leader last night?”
“I already told you all I know yesterday. Maybe he suddenly remembered someone he had offended and so had ran?” Xie Junming said, “Also, let me ask something, haven’t any of you thought that he could be that white piece that all of you keep mentioning? And that his son’s kidnapping was also something he arranged beforehand for the sake of having an excuse to leave Shaolin?”
Everyone uniformly startled.
Pavilion Master Ding coldly said, “What nonsense are you speaking?”
Xie Junming said, “I’m simply offering up a new viewpoint. He’s your Alliance Leader, so it’s natural that all of you aren’t willing to suspect him. Then all of you should continue investigating. Anyway, this matter has nothing to do with me.”
After he finished speaking, he ignored them, grabbing some vegetables and putting them in his mouth, unhurriedly eating once again, as if the only reason he came to the dining hall was to eat.
No one had any ideas. The only thing they could do was send some people down the mountain to the small county town to look for a bit and see if the Alliance Leader was investigating the matter with Sir Zhong. Abbot Ciyuan saw his disciples at the door looking at him and gave a nod of agreement, instructing them to bring in the food.
Ye You returned to his Senior Brother’s side, calmly waiting to begin eating.
The Alliance Leader leaving was within his calculations.
After all the matters happened in succession, the Alliance Leader most likely thought that it was the white piece who kidnapped the Junior Alliance Leader and wanted to have him act as a throwaway piece. And the Alliance Leader understood the white piece’s methods too well. Even if he truly was willing to act as a throwaway piece, it wouldn’t be easy to take his son off the stage, so he’d definitely not resign himself at this point in time. He’d very likely hurry to leave first before the white piece could make any moves against him.
If their speculations last night were correct, then the Alliance Leader’s only weapon that can fight against the white piece now was that monster. The Alliance Leader leaving now was probably for the sake of finding his master so as to let his master leave seclusion and devour the white piece in retaliation — of course, the prerequisite was that the Alliance Leader had to be able to stay alive until he met that monster.
Yesterday night, Ye You left in order to tell his people to protect the Alliance Leader in secret, so that the other could safely leave Shaolin’s domain. It was only that he had originally thought that the Alliance Leader would wait and see for a while. He hadn’t thought that the other would leave in such a hurry, as if unable to wait even one minute more.
Unable to wait… His heart suddenly skipped a beat, and he looked at his Senior Brother and saw that his Senior Brother was currently also looking at him.
The two’s gazes met, and both understood the implicit meaning in the other’s eyes.
The Alliance Leader didn’t want to wait, and the worst possibility was that he knew some inside information — that is, that he knew that group of drugged men could encircle this place at any time, and while the Alliance Leader wasn’t completely certain whether the white piece would use him as a throwaway piece when the time came, he didn’t want to gamble at the risk, and so had ran!
Ding Xilai had never dared to act impudent in front of his old man, so he also didn’t dare to ask his old man about the matter with the Alliance Leader and Xie Junming. This morning, he had also lazily overslept for a while and hadn’t had the time to ask that crowd of Junior Sect Masters before he ran, burning with anxiety, to find Sir Xiao. Thus, at this time, he still didn’t know the actual facts.
He watched and waited for an entire morning, and upon seeing Sir Xiao and Sect Master Wenren about to leave the hall when they finished eating, he also left.
He hurriedly chased after them. He tried enduring it but in the end couldn’t and so ended up asking, in a small voice, “Why does everyone think that the Alliance Leader was tricked away by the white piece?”
Ye You said, “Didn’t you also believe this before?”
Ding Xilai said, “I had been considering it from a big picture perspective, but there’s actually still another possible reason.”
Ye You was somewhat curious about this young master’s reasoning and asked, “Oh?”
Ding Xilai’s voice went even lower, “Wasn’t Xie Junming interested in the Alliance Leader? What if the Alliance Leader is afraid that Xie Junming would mess around some more, and so left for the sake of avoiding him?”
Ye You, “…” Wenren Heng, “…”
So as it turned out, he had completely not tried to look deeper into the words that those elders and Xie Junming had exchanged just now.
The two both didn’t open their mouths, and Ding Xilai was about to ask again when he heard Ren Shaotian let out a dry cough. Immediately following, the familiar sound of the great Temple Master Xie’s voice echoed from behind, sounding rather as if he was in deep thought, “Say that again.”
“…” In one giant leap, Ding Xilai rushed over to Ren Shaotian’s side, hiding behind the other, not daring to look over.
Xie Junming laughed, looking as if he was about to drink blood. “I’ll count to three, and you better come out.”
Ding Xilai looked beseechingly at Sir Xiao and saw the other indicate that he should come out. Upon hearing Temple Master Xie already counting to two, he sucked in a deep breath, stiffened up his face, and came out.
“Acceptable, still counts as knowing your place.” Xie Junming was a bit more satisfied. Reaching out two fingers, he pinched the other’s face. “What did you say just now?”
Ding Xilai said, “I was wrong.”
Xie Junming asked, “Where were you wrong?”
Ding Xilai’s attitude was very earnest. “I shouldn’t be talking bad about someone behind their back.”
Although Xie Junming was unbridled, he was still the master of a temple, and he had no interest in getting into an actual dispute with someone younger. He simply told the other to get the facts straight and that he’d give the other a beating if he heard this kind of talk again. Ding Xilai had not thought that he would’ve been let go so easily, and blinking, he deeply felt that this was possible all because of Sir Xiao’s encouragement. He then became even more resolute in his conviction to follow and mingle with Sir Xiao.
He saw those three people leaving and didn’t follow for now. He asked, “Shaotian, how do you think I can get Sir Xiao to take me in?”
Ren Shaotian asked, “Young master, why do you want to follow him?” Ding Xilai said, “For the sake of making a profit. I actually do have a speck of desire in my heart to work hard for the sake of the country, although it’s not clearly evident.”
Ren Shaotian laughed and said, “With young master’s identity, if you’re willing to work hard, then you’ll definitely be able to.”
Ding Xilai said in bitter anguish, “But I don’t have any brains.” Ren Shaotian, “…”
“Look at how clever Sir Xiao is. If I follow and learn from him, maybe I’ll be able to profit from being instructed by him for a while.” Ding Xilai said, “Let’s say it another way. For instance, the matter with Xiao-Zhong right now. I’m about the same as him. If one day I’m kidnapped by someone in order to threaten my dad, what do you think could be done? But if I profit and become incredible, other people perhaps wouldn’t dare to touch me. That’s right, with Xiao- Zhong missing for two days, do you think something’s happened? Do you think that Uncle Zhong will be able to save him?”
Ren Shaotian said, “The heavens will help those worthy like Young Master Zhong. Nothing will happen to him.”
Ding Xilai’s face was full of worry. After letting his imagination run wild for a while, he couldn’t help but run off to find Sir Xiao again.
Ren Shaotian felt somewhat helpless.
If it was possible, Ren Shaotian actually didn’t want the young master to interact more often with Sir Xiao. Sir Xiao was too clever, and his inner thoughts were also too difficult to fathom, such that even those experienced in the ways of the world couldn’t see through this person. The young master wouldn’t even be enough to fill in the gaps of the other party’s teeth. But, on the other hand, regardless of whether or not Sir Xiao was the black piece’s man, at least he wasn’t on the white piece’s side. If his heart wasn’t wicked, then the young master would truly get some benefits from following Sir Xiao.
Ren Shaotian internally thought I still need to observe some more before following after. Ye You had just lost his beloved and so he needed to be unwell for a few days. Xie Junming had originally wanted to take the opportunity to chat with him but in the end, he simply heard the other let out two sighs, full of some convoluted meaning. Shooting the other a glance, he said, “Are you still feeling unwell?”
Ye You said, “Yes. I also think it’s not good to always be like this, so I want to go out and breathe some fresh air.”
Xie Junming said, “When?”
“Just these next two days,” Ye You said, “But the white piece is always very concerned about me, which I’m not very happy about. So when I leave, I’ll have the white piece think that I’m still here.”
Xie Junming’s thoughts turned, and he understood. He asked, “Do you need this brother to accompany you and take the time to enlighten you on the way?”
Ye You’s reply was a sigh, full of pained sorrow, as if he was itching to find a corner to huddle in by himself, preferring to die there without a word. The moment Xie Junming heard, he knew that the other didn’t want him to follow along, and with no interest in the other’s uncanny act, he turned around and left. Ye You walked two steps and frowned. “Senior Brother, I still feel unwell.”
Wenren Heng asked, “I’ll bring you to see Miracle Doctor Ji?” Ye You said, “All right.”
At this time, Ding Xilai had just caught up with them, and he saw that they were going to see Miracle Doctor Ji.
He immediately volunteered to follow along but was tactfully refused. Immediately heartbroken, he asked once again, “Shaotian, what exactly do you think I can do to get him to accept me? Capture Fuping as a gift for him?”
Ren Shaotian asked, “How does the young master plan to capture him?” Ding Xilai’s entire face was full of melancholy. “A person like me can rely only on a big stroke of good fortune.”
Ren Shaotian, “…” Ding Xilai sighed.
Ren Shaotian thought for a moment and said, “I see that Sect Master Wenren perhaps has some intentions towards Sir Xiao. Why don’t you first ask Sect Master Wenren about his thoughts, and if it’s true, you can give him some ideas. He might then help you put in some good words.”
Ding Xilai said, “There’s no need to ask. He definitely has some intentions towards Sir Xiao. I’m just afraid he won’t speak the truth.”
Ren Shaotian internally thought that’s true.
Ding Xilai said, “Why don’t I just directly think up some ideas for him.”
Ren Shaotian asked, ill at ease, “What kind of ideas does the young master want to give?”
Ding Xilai stroked his chin. “Coaxing men should be about the same as coaxing women, right…”
Feeling that he’d definitely mess it up, Ren Shaotian promptly pulled the topic back, telling him that, since Sir Xiao was in such heartrending grief because of Fuping, why not first think of a way to have the person let go of all this pain and sadness. As if already having some ideas, Ding Xilai said a word of yes and went to find that group of Junior Sect Masters.
Miracle Doctor Ji and Young Miracle Doctor Fang had been constantly guarded by Shaolin’s people, who were nearly always seemingly a mere step away. Even when Ye You went to get examined, they were still guarding right alongside. Both Ye You and his Senior Brother were already long aware of this fact, so they were completely unsurprised. Miracle Doctor Ji stroked his beard as he watched this youth walk over. After listening to their reason for coming, he asked, “Didn’t my disciple go to see you yesterday?”
Ye You’s voice was like a thin reed. “It’s too uncomfortable.”
“Illness isn’t so easy to get rid of.” Even as Miracle Doctor Ji spoke these words, in the end, he still put down an arm pillow and indicated for the other to hold out a hand, asking, “Where’s the discomfort?”
Ye You said, “Lost love. My chest hurts.”
Most likely because Miracle Doctor Ji had seen far too many patients, his face didn’t change in the slightest as he said, “This is an issue with the heart. I can’t cure it.”
Ye You said, “Then can you prescribe some nourishing medicine? I still feel as if I’ve been fiercely injured.”
Miracle Doctor Ji had never met a person who wanted some nutrition because of a lost love. This time, he wasn’t able to endure it and showed the other a slightly exasperated expression when he returned to taking the pulse. Ye You looked at the little fool nearby and asked a few words about Master Deru’s situation. Miracle Doctor Ji said, “Still like that.”
Ye You said, “Is there a way to cure him?”
Miracle Doctor Ji said, “We’ll spare no efforts to try.”
Ye You said, “What about Li Hua? Did she eat the drug as a child?” Miracle Doctor Ji said, “Still haven’t finished investigating.”
Ye You nodded and rambled with him about this and that for a while before finally turning to talk of Young Miracle Doctor Fang. After hearing Miracle Doctor Ji praise the little fool for a few sentences, Ye You asked, “I heard that Miracle Doctor Ji used to have an eldest disciple, and that he was quite incredible?” Miracle Doctor Ji’s hand paused, and he gave the other a glance. “Yes, he was very gifted, but it was a pity that he passed long ago.”
Ye You said, “What was the reason?”
“The same as you, an emotional wound, and he also liked only men.” Miracle Doctor Ji let out a sigh and immediately followed with a lecture, “So right now when I look at all of you young men, sometimes I’ll think of him. In this world, what pit is there that can’t be traversed, that’d make one more willing to die on a tree than try.”
Ye You also let out a sigh in heartfelt sympathy. “Elder just doesn’t know that kind of feeling. It’s truly unbearable. He was also thrown away by someone?”
Miracle Doctor Ji said, “No, it was a one-sided love, and the other didn’t have any feelings towards him. At one point when he reached a dead end, he just… Ah…”
“We’re all pitiful people.” Ye You sighed and, sniffling incessantly, asked, “Then who was the one he liked? Is that person still alive?”
“He was ill and also passed early,” Miracle Doctor Ji said, “If his bones were healthier, he’d definitely already be famous throughout Jianghu. Right now, not many people remember him, and even I’ve almost forgotten about him. I only remember that he was surnamed Shen, and that he still had an elder sister.”
Ye You’s pupils contracted.
Miracle Doctor Ji said, “Everyone says that a sister’s son will look like his maternal uncle. If his sister was able to have a son, who knows if he and his uncle would’ve looked alike.”
Ye You said, “Perhaps.”
In the middle of this conversation, Miracle Doctor Ji let go of his hand and examined the “state of his illness” for a bit before writing a prescription of no real importance and sending these two out.
Wenren Heng brought his Junior Brother out, and they walked shoulder-to-shoulder back. He said, “Looks like his eldest disciple really didn’t die.” Or else Miracle Doctor Ji wouldn’t have said so many things to them.
Ye You made a sound in acknowledgement.
“His words later were…” As Wenren Heng spoke, he saw his Junior Brother’s mouth twitch before quickly turning even again, not reaching the other’s eyes at all. He couldn’t help but ask, “What?”
Ye You said, “Senior Brother, you never asked me what my surname was. You probably already guessed it, right?”
Wenren Heng said, “Yes.”
Since the extermination of those families was a major event, he was certainly able to guess it, but he wouldn’t force his Junior Brother to speak.
Ye You said, “But there’s one thing you probably don’t know. My mother’s family is surnamed Shen199.”
Wenren Heng’s heart skipped a beat. “Miracle Doctor Ji said everything especially for you to hear?”
Ye You made a sound in agreement.
The two people almost simultaneously thought of the time spent at the Wang family residence. So it turned out that, at that time, Miracle Doctor Ji had already suspected his identity. No one could have thought that the other would’ve been able to show no indication of this knowledge at all. This old fellow’s endurance skills were truly great.
“He said his eldest disciple met a dead end.” Ye You touched the bandages on his face. “I originally thought that if they still had some affection as a master and disciple, perhaps we could use Miracle Doctor Ji to lure that person out. But right now it seems that it’ll be even easier just to use this face of mine.”
Wenren Heng wrinkled his brows. “What do you want to do?” Ye You said, “I still haven’t thought of it yet. Since I haven’t seen him before, and I can’t tell him apart from the others, how can I coincidentally walk over and let him see my face?”
Wenren Heng looked at him. “You really haven’t thought of it?”
Ye You said, “Just one little idea. I still need to think on it some more.”
Wenren Heng was just about to warn the other not to do anything dangerous when he saw that crowd of Junior Sect Masters in front and so swallowed back the words in his mouth.
The Junior Sect Master’s reason for coming was very simple. They still wanted to advise Sir Xiao to go out for a walk around.
In the course of their discussion, they had decided that it wasn’t right for Sir Xiao to always be forcing a smile, and maybe it’d be better for him to have one big, great cry. So how could they get him to cry?
Two words: drink alcohol!
Ding Xilai said, “Sir Xiao, we know that matters are tense right now, but it’s because of this that there’s even more reason why you can’t be distracted by such a small thing.”
“Let’s go out for a walk around, ease your heart a little, and perhaps everything will feel better.”
“You need to pull yourself together!”
Ye You listened to them advise him while all talking over each other as he led the people back to his room. He asked, “All of you aren’t afraid that you’ll be kidnapped just like Sir Zhong?”
Everyone hesitated for a moment.
Wei Jiangyue said, “What would we be afraid of. It’d be the perfect opportunity to capture them.” Ding Xilai, as the proposer of the idea, was the second to speak, “That’s right. Let’s bring a few more people, and wherever we go, we can have people follow. Nothing will happen.”
Ye You said, “But I’m too much of an eyesore, and the white piece is probably continuously watching me, perhaps also thinking that I’m a hindrance and wanting to assassinate me. If you’re with me, all of you will be in danger.”
Wei Jiangyue said, “Even so, I’ll still say the same thing – it’d be the perfect time to capture them.”
“But I don’t want to involve all of you. If all of you truly want to go out, we can only change our method.” As Ye You spoke, he looked at Wei Jiangyue. “Sir Wei, would you help out?”
Wei Jiangyue said, “There’s no harm in asking.”
Ye You said, “Your stature looks about the same as mine, so I want to exchange identities with you. You stay behind, and I’ll go out to breathe some fresh air and drink a cup of wine before coming back.”
Wei Jiangyue was startled and immediately understood his meaning, saying in reminder, “Those of ‘Heaven’s Firmament’ might be able to see through it.”
Ye You said, “You can send them all back. Now’s just the right time to have them tell Manor Lord Wei that you’re going down the mountain to drink wine, and we just won’t be bringing them. There’s no need to worry about me. My Senior Brother will send people to protect me in secret.”
Wei Jiangyue saw them all fixedly staring at him and agreed. The two prepared for a while, quickly disguising themselves.
Ye You changed into Wei Jiangyue’s clothes and strutted out the door, leaving Shaolin Temple with that crowd of Junior Sect Masters.
The next day, with the reason that his health wasn’t good, Sir Xiao didn’t appear at the dining hall, appearing only in the evening to walk around with Wenren Heng near the small courtyard before returning to the room.
Xie Junming had made one trip over, and upon seeing this “lantern” that was Wei Jiangyue, he felt only that it was extremely dull before leaving again.
The other person in the know, the scarred man, contained himself for half a day. Upon seeing the sky grow darker and darker, he finally found a time when the Sect Master came out to approach and ask, in a low voice, “Sect Master, will I need to put up another bed?”
The Sect Master couldn’t actually sleep in the same bed as Wei Jiangyue, right? Their Sect Master couldn’t possibly be this inattentive.
Wenren Heng said, “No need. You should sleep earlier.”
The scarred man silently looked at him and, with a face full of doubt, left.
Wenren Heng lifted his head to watch the full moon for a while before turning around and returning to the room. To Wei Jiangyue, he said, “If you’re tired, just sleep. The bed is over there.”
Wei Jiangyue said, “What about you?”
Wenren Heng said, “I’m not tired for the time being.”
Wei Jiangyue saw him sitting down in front of the table and thus poured a cup of tea, asking, “Does he have some kind of goal this time?”
Wenren Heng said, “What are you referring to?”
“How could I know,” Wei Jiangyue said, “I just have this kind of feeling.”
Wenren Heng said, “Yes, we guessed that the white piece’s troop of drugged men will surround Shaolin in the next two days.” Wei Jiangyue’s expression changed, and he looked as if he was going to jump to his feet. “What?”
Wenren Heng continued with, “At that time, they’ll definitely want a few people, and my Junior Brother will definitely be on the list. Oh, it’s who you are right now. In that crowd of Junior Sect Masters, there were also others with a similar stature to him. Do you know why he especially chose you?”
Wei Jiangyue composed himself and said, “Because my martial arts are the highest among them, and I can take the opportunity to capture that group of people?”
Wenren Heng gave him a look and slowly poured another cup of tea, pushing it towards him, his manner still as tender as always, as if completely unaware of how earth-shattering these words were.
“No, because we suspect that your father is the white piece.”
Wei Jiangyue instantly thought that he had mistakenly entered a fantasy.
This time, he couldn’t hold himself back, and he suddenly stood up. “What did you say?”
Wenren Heng quietly looked at him.
Wei Jiangyue forced himself to sit back down and said, very tensely, “This isn’t possible. Do you have proof?”
“No, it’s only a suspicion,” Wenren Heng said, “First, the white piece has the Lantern-Extinguishing Poison on hand. Those who came into contact with that monster originally, Manor Lord Wei, Pavilion Master Ding, and those elders, are all suspicious. Manor Lord Wei and Pavilion Master Ding acted as the leaders, so they had even more opportunities.”
Wei Jiangyue said, “It’s only an opportunity.”
Wenren Heng slowly drank a sip of tea. “Second, ten years ago, my Master was murdered. I suspect that the swordsman who had a qi deviation at the time had been fed the drug. Manor Lord Wei was coincidentally chasing behind him and brought along people to kill him.”
“Saying it like that, wasn’t my dad getting rid of evil for the sake of the martial arts circle? And he still managed to invite suspicion?” Wei Jiangyue couldn’t help but let out a cold laugh, but he immediately realized that arguing like this was wasting time and forcefully wrestled back his rationality. He said, “If that swordsman really had been fed the drug, it also could’ve been done by someone else. What does it have to do with my dad? Over the years, the things my dad has done for the martial arts circle are obvious to everyone. Besides, twenty years ago, Fengxian Manor was one of the two great sects of Jianghu and wouldn’t have been at a disadvantage even when going against Lingjian Pavilion. Would my dad find it worthwhile to make a troop of drugged men?” Wenren Heng said, “So I said it was only a suspicion.”
It was the first time that Wei Jiangyue thought that the other’s calm manner was somewhat hateful. Pushing down his anger, he said, “Your suspicions do not have a single bit of basis.”
Wenren Heng said, neither slowly nor quickly, “My Junior Brother also suspects the same thing.”
Wei Jiangyue choked, and the face underneath those bandages turned even more unsightly.
Wenren Heng just knew that this person’s attitude towards him and his Junior Brother was somewhat different, and he gave the other a look.
Wei Jiangyue suppressed his disordered state of mind and strove for calmness. “Not speaking of anything else, let’s just talk about the things that happened along the way. At that villa, Blood-sucking Ghost wanted to kidnap Xiao-Rou, and he also murdered my sixth brother in the past. All of this couldn’t have been purposely engineered by my dad.”
Wenren Heng said, “At that time, the first one who gave chase after Blood-sucking Ghost was Manor Lord Wei. The kind of experts they were, they’d very easily be able to find an opportunity to have a few words of conversation. I’m guessing that kidnapping your sister was also Manor Lord Wei’s idea; the first reason being that he knew nothing would happen so he arranged it like that, and the second reason is something you won’t like hearing.”
Wei Jiangyue harshly asked, “What kind of thing would be uglier to hear than all of this?”
Wenren Heng said, “At that time, your sister and my Junior Brother were standing very close to one another. So when a father who dotes on his daughter suddenly comes across someone who’d hinder his daughter, and who had also caused his darling daughter to cry a few times, if he came across an opportunity to eliminate this other party, do you think he’d do it?” Wei Jiangyue’s entire body trembled. “You’re saying that… my dad wanted Blood-sucking Ghost to kidnap Xiao-Rou because he had another motive, and that was to find an opportunity to kill Sir Xiao?”
Wenren Heng nodded. “It was only that, at the time, I had stuffed that person at my Junior Brother, coincidentally also following along with their idea, so these intentions weren’t readily evident. Or else, with that many people, no matter who he caught, Blood-sucking Ghost would’ve been able to stall for time. Why would he have been so insistent on catching your sister?”
“That’s because my dad was the one who fought him off a cliff that year, and he bore a grudge against my dad which is why he did such a thing. His being given the idea to kidnap Xiao-Rou is also something that you’re simply guessing at… That’s not right,” Wei Jiangyue said, “My father couldn’t have known from the beginning that Xiao-Rou would definitely be standing together with Sir Xiao.”
Wenren Heng said, “Do we still need to rehash this? After both of you left your sister behind, she’d definitely come find me.”
Wei Jiangyue choked again, but he still didn’t believe a single word from the other and said, “Then how can you explain the matter with my sixth brother? My dad couldn’t possibly go as far as to cause the death of his own blood-related son.”
“It’s unclear. Maybe there’s some other reason that we don’t know about.” Wenren Heng saw that he still had things to say and lifted a hand to stop him. “Manor Lord Wei isn’t the only one we suspect. We simply feel that there’s a possibility, so we’re taking the opportunity to test it.”
When Wei Jiangyue heard this, he felt as if his suspended heart had slowly fallen back into place, and his voice was finally no longer that tense. “I believe that my dad definitely isn’t the white piece. What do the two of you want me to do?”
Wenren Heng said, “Only that when they choose people and call your name to take the initiative to come out.”
Wei Jiangyue said, “And then?” Wenren Heng took out three things and handed them over. Wei Jiangyue startled. “These are…”
“Concealed weapons,” Wenren Heng said.
This was something he had ordered his subordinates to find a way to obtain while his Junior Brother and Wei Jiangyue had been exchanging identities this morning. It was only just now, at night, that they had been delivered.
He looked at Wei Jiangyue. “Remember well the words that I’m going to say next.”
Ye You and that crowd of Junior Sect Masters didn’t walk very quickly, and when they reached the small county town, it was just about noon. They then went to eat some lunch before one of the Junior Sect Masters proposed going to a brothel to drink while also taking the chance to watch some dancing.
Ding Xilai immediately said, “What brothel?”
That Junior Sect Master was about to speak further when he suddenly remembered that Sir Xiao was into men and said, “Ah, this place doesn’t appear to have a single male brothel.”
The rest of them said, practically all at once, “What do you mean male brothel? We’re going straight to drinking!”
That Junior Sect Master had also remembered, right after he finished speaking, that Fuping had been a male entertainer, so he had practically been sprinkling salt on Sir Xiao’s wound! He saw this crowd of people glare at him, looking as if they wanted to give him a group beating, so he lowered his head and tried to make himself as invisible as possible.
The remaining Junior Sect Masters looked at Sir Xiao and changed the topic, “The weather isn’t bad. Why don’t we walk around first before we go and drink?” Ye You said, “No need. Let’s just go to the brothel.”
That first Junior Sect Master was just about to be frightened sick, and he gave a hollow laugh and said, “Nonono, just now, I was just speaking whatever came to mind. I actually don’t want to go, let’s go walk around, haha…”
Ye You stood up and delivered the final blow, “So it’s the brothel. Let’s go.”
Everyone did their utmost to try and read his expression, but this person’s thoughts were too deep, and they couldn’t see a single thing wrong, not to mention that there was even a layer of false skin there right now, so it was even more difficult to read anything. Ding Xilai asked suspiciously, “You really… really want to go?”
Ye You said, “Yes, I want to listen to some songs. Every time my mood isn’t good, I like listening to music.”
Everyone understood, and only then did they set off without a care for the brothel.
During the day, the brothel had not yet reached its most lively hours, and the majority of people didn’t have any guests. Upon seeing this many noble young masters, they all immediately became excited, their smiles brilliant as they welcomed the guests inside. The Junior Sect Masters requested a private room, choosing a few beautiful people who were pleasing to the eye and ordering a few plates of fruits as snacks, before starting to listen to music.
Ye You sat for a while before wanting to go to the toilet.
Ding Xilai was afraid that something would happen to him and so hastily moved to go with him.
Ye You didn’t refuse and went downstairs with him, slowly walking towards the backyard. Ding Xilai felt that this was a good opportunity and asked the other again about accepting him. Ye You asked, “Do you know why I came here?”
Ding Xilai internally pondered if this was a test and thought deeply for a moment before asking, in a probing attempt, “You wanted to face your pain head-on and so endured your suffering to come walk around a place of entertainers, all in order to forget about Fuping?”
The Ren Shaotian behind them wanted to laugh but couldn’t, his lips trembling as he turned his head away.
Ye You said, all smiles, “This answer is…” Ding Xilai asked, “How… how is it?”
Ye You said, “It’s really something only you can come up with.”
The moment Ding Xilai heard this, he knew he was wrong and asked, “Then what’s the real reason?”
Ye You said, “Because I felt that, at this point in time, the white piece’s drugged men probably wouldn’t come to a brothel.”
Ding Xilai blinked and repeated the words, asking for confirmation, “The white piece’s drugged men?”
Ye You said, “Yes, if nothing unexpected happens, Shaolin will be surrounded by them.”
Ren Shaotian’s pupils contracted.
Ding Xilai silently took a moment to react. “…Hah?!”
Ye You indicated for a quieter tone of voice before bringing the other to a place with no one else around and explaining his own conjectures, telling them not to worry. This time, the white piece’s most important goal was to obtain a few people, and it wasn’t yet time for all-out war was going to be declared, so there most likely won’t be the beginnings of a big massacre.
Ding Xilai swallowed some salivia. “Then… Then what should we do?”
“All of you stay here and wait, no need to send over information to Shaolin or else the white piece will become suspicious. Shaolin has my Senior Brother around, so nothing will happen,” Ye You said, “Although I don’t know when exactly the white piece will act, I estimate it’ll probably be these next two days. If I was them, before I go to Shaolin, I’d definitely capture a few people. All of you shouldn’t leave the brothel, or else they might decide on you.”
Ding Xilai felt his legs go soft, as if he could no longer stay standing. “Us coming down this way… Could they have already seen us?”
Ye You said, “That’s fine, as long as none of you are left on your own. Before they surround Shaolin, they wouldn’t dare to make any big movements. When all of you left this time, you brought along many people, and if you continue to stay in such a lively brothel, if they don’t have any interest in devouring all of you at once, they simply wouldn’t touch any of you. But pay attention to the drinks. Don’t let yourselves be drugged.”
Ding Xilai had not yet heard anything wrong when Ren Shaotian couldn’t help but speak, “All of us? Then what about Sir Xiao?”
I have some other matters. I also came out this time on purpose.” Ye You saw that Ding Xilai wanted to speak and patted his shoulder. “I’m willing to tell you these things because I believe in you. Pull yourself together, and protect these people well.”
Ding Xilai felt only that his heart was beating rapidly and warm blood was rushing directly to his head. “Can… Can I do it?”
Ye You said, “You can. Don’t you also have Shaotian to help you?”
Ding Xilai’s entire mind was a mess, and he opened his mouth, with his first question being, “What about you? What do I say to them about you suddenly leaving?”
“You can just say that my Senior Brother came and called me away.” Ye You lowered his eyes and hesitated for a while before saying, “Actually, because of the matter with Fuping, my Senior Brother… confessed his feelings for me.”
Ding Xilai startled and said, immediately following, “Ah, as expected! We all saw this coming a long time ago!”
Those words, “I truly like you,” said by his Senior Brother flashed through Ye You’s mind. Suppressing the joy that was threatening to drown him, he said in a low voice, “I’ve only just learned of it, so I still need to think about it some more. Anyway, a person like my Senior Brother also isn’t afraid of having other people know about this matter. If they ask, you can just tell them that my Senior Brother didn’t like me coming to the brothel.”
Ding Xilai felt this excuse was very fair and reasonable and nodded.
Ye You said, “That’s enough. You should go upstairs now. I’ll find a place to switch out my clothes and change my appearance.”
Ding Xilai hesitantly said, “You…”
Ye You said, “I’ll be fine. Many people from Shuangji Sect came along, so they’ll protect me. Both of you should go upstairs. Right now, there’s no time to waste.”
Ding Xilai was completely distracted and could only listen to the other, telling him that he definitely had to be careful before leaving.
Ye You then went to tidy up for a spell, changing his outfit and strutting out of the brothel, unhurriedly walking into a small courtyard that was a few streets down.
Those Demonic Sect Elders had already long been kept waiting, and now that they saw him, they felt only incessantly moved. With tears streaming down their faces, they threw themselves over. “Sect Master!”
Ye You laughed and dodged out of their reaches. He asked, “Did all of you finish the things I had you do?”
The Elders said, “Yes, they’re all done.”
Ye You nodded in satisfaction and sat down on a chair. Seeing Elder Miao nearby, he crooked his fingers, all smiles. “Miaomiao, come.”
“…” Elder Miao’s face stiffened, and he silently backed up a step.
Ye You laughed and said, “Don’t be that against it. This is a good thing. Come here.” Elder Miao hesitated for a moment before resigning himself and walking over.
In the silence of the dark night, the clouds parted in the sky, like ink dispersing on a page, revealing a round, full moon like a precious treasure.
The small courtyard was filled with silver light, and the nighttime colors gradually calmed and stilled.
Ye You had changed into a black robe and was sitting on the stone bench in the courtyard, unhurriedly twirling a chess piece in his hands. Lady Tao was sitting across from him and was staring at the chessboard under the moonlight. After pondering for a while, she set down a piece. The corners of Ye You’s mouth twitched, as if he had already anticipated such a move, and he followed immediately with another one.
Lady Tao stared for a moment and said, “I fell for your trick again.”
Ye You said, smiling, “If I purposely let you win, wouldn’t I just be making you angry?”
Lady Tao said, “You could not let me see it happen.”
Ye You was willing to concede to her words and said, “All right, then I’ll let you win the next game.”
Lady Tao refused to comment, focusing entirely on playing this game to its conclusion. In the end, when they finished, she found that she had lost by only half a point. She then understood that Ye You had originally been letting her win at the beginning, and sure enough, he hadn’t let her see it happen. She immediately let out a helpless sigh. “You really are…”
Ye You said, “What?”
A voice came from nearby, “Really are someone who invites too much hatred.”
As this voice fell, Qin Yuemian stepped in from the moon gate200, smiling as he walked towards them. Following Ye You and Wenren Heng’s plans, he had gone, early in the morning, to find Lady Tao to drink tea. After mentioning Ye You with a few words, he successfully managed to invite this beauty out, and under the envious stares of the crowd, he and Lady Tao went down the mountain to play. In addition, the Demonic Sect Elders had long already received the Sect Master’s orders and had sent Elder Mei and Elder Bai to the small county town to receive them.
Those two people had then replaced them to return to Shaolin.
He had originally thought it would’ve been Elder Mei disguised as Lady Tao and Elder Bai disguised as him, but he quickly discovered that he had been too naive. This kind of Demonic Sect had let Elder Bai change into Lady Tao and had Elder Mei change into him. When he asked, the answer he received was that Elder Bai’s martial skill was high and so could easily fight back.
He silently followed their departure with his eyes, and only after a long while did he say, “Was that the main issue?”
The main issue was that a fully-grown man was disguised as a woman, even sporting an appearance as if not yet fully awake. Were they really not afraid of being exposed? And could Elder Mei not use such feminine hand gestures201 while using his face?
Lady Tao said, “They’re always like this. There’s no need to worry. When it comes to the big things, they’re always very reliable.”
Qin Yuemian said, “They won’t be recognized?”
Lady Tao said, “They probably won’t. Disguise is their specialty. Just now, it was because there wasn’t anyone else around that they didn’t put on an act.”
Qin Yuemian internally thought a simple hopefully that’s true and came to the Demonic Sect’s small courtyard with Lady Tao. They had then waited all the way up until nightfall.
He slowly walked over to the two people playing chess and sat down beside them. “There’s still no news?” “No.” Ye You returned the pieces before lifting up the teacup on the side and drinking a sip. “It’s also not certain that it’ll be tonight.”
Qin Yuemian said, “If they don’t move tonight, then that crowd of Junior Sect Masters will have already stayed here a night. If they stay another, won’t they invite suspicion?”
Ye You said, “They’re young, so it’s understandable that they’ll occasionally play a little too much.”
Qin Yuemian doubtfully looked at him.
When this person returned, he had put on his iconic mask.
The mask covered his whole face, exposing only the eyes, nose, and lips, but it was different from the usual masks. The mask was broken open on its left side, drifting down to the nose, and then stretching horizontally across, winding and circling around the lips before angling up and away to the left cheek, with this last twist looking akin to a phoenix’s tail. On the black surface were embroidered red lines, following along his slightly smiling lips. Its appearance was ostentatious, full of a wicked air. In the entirety of Jianghu, it was one of a kind.
Qin Yuemian saw him simply smile wordlessly and guessed that he probably had a countermeasure, internally thinking why was it that these disciple-brothers were both so hard to handle, while changing the words in his mouth to, “Today, I seem to have seen the people from Wuwang Temple come over?”
Ye You said, “They came to tell me about Sir Zhong’s whereabouts.”
Qin Yuemian and Lady Tao were both startled, and they said, almost at the same time, “Don’t tell me that Sir Zhong is in Temple Master Xie’s hands?”
Ye You said, “Yes, the exact specifics I still don’t yet…”
Before he even finished speaking, he lifted his head and saw that Elder Baili, who had gone with the people of Wuwang Temple to check on the hostage, had returned and so asked, “What excuse did Xie Junming use to keep that person?” “Temple Master Xie found a tall and sturdy man to watch Sir Zhong.” Elder Baili’s lips twitched. “I heard that when Sir Zhong awoke, that large man professed to falling in love with him at first sight and so kidnapped him as a wife. None of the threats or promises from Sir Zhong had any use whatsoever, so he could only claim that he’d rather die than agree. The large man also didn’t force him, simply standing guard at the house day and night. It’s said that Sir Zhong had been continuously trying to talk sense into him for the past two days. Today, while I was watching in secret, Sir Zhong finally gave in and said he was willing to bring the person to see his dad, and that if his dad agreed, he’d also agree.”
Qin Yuemian, “…” Lady Tao, “…”
Ye You said, “And then?”
Elder Baili said, “And then that large man asked him ‘didn’t you say that your dad was the Alliance Leader of the martial arts circle.” Sir Zhong said ‘yes’. The large man then said that the Alliance Leader of the martial arts circle was too incredible, and that if the other disagreed and then beat him up and threw him out, then he would no longer have a wife. So he’d rather continue standing guard and wait for feelings to develop before talking further. At that time, Sir Zhong’s entire face turned green.”
Qin Yuemian, “…” Lady Tao, “…”
Ye You laughed out loud and praised, “As expected of Xie Junming.” Elder Baili asked, “Then this person…?”
Ye You said, “Continue watching him. When the time comes, we’ll ‘rescue’ him.”
Elder Baili said a word of ‘understood’ and turned around and left.
Ye You ordered someone to bring a jug of wine and then poured a cup for both himself and Qin Yuemian. He then played two more games with Lady Tao before finally receiving his subordinates’ news. He couldn’t help but lift the corners of his mouth.
Qin Yuemian gave him a look. “What?”
Ye You handed the strip of paper over to him. Standing up, he said, “There’s movement. Let’s go.”
Midnight had already passed, and Shaolin Temple was blanketed by stillness. The majority of people had already gone to bed.
Having heard an entire pile of things, Wei Jiangyue didn’t have the least bit of desire for sleep and simply sat, straight-backed, on the chair underneath the moonlight shining in from outside, silently drinking tea.
Upon seeing that this person wasn’t going to sleep, Wenren Heng didn’t bother to be polite again and simply laid down on the bed, clothes and all — he and his Junior Brother had just slept on this bed yesterday, and they had done the thing that he had spent countless times in these past ten years dreaming about, so truth be told, he hadn’t truly wanted to let someone else sleep on this bed.
The room turned quiet. An unknown amount of time passed before sudden bits and pieces of a noisy clamor echoed in from the outside, even carrying with it some indistinct sounds of shrieking. And then, a shout resounded through the heavens, sounding almost as if it was penetrating into one’s internal energy, “Come, get out right this instant, people of Shaolin!”
This moment was akin to water entering a boiling pot, and the entirety of Shaolin boiled over.
Wenren Heng swiftly opened his eyes.
Although he hadn’t slept that steadily, he had still closed his eyes to recover some energy for a while, and right now his spirits weren’t too bad. At least, it was completely different than those outside who had been so startled that they didn’t know which way was up and down.
He turned over and got out of bed, straightening his clothes very simply, before saying gently, “Let’s go out and look.” Wei Jiangyue sucked in a deep breath before standing up and following the other out the door.
Just as he stepped out of the small courtyard and raised his head, he saw a black shadow flashing by extremely fast from the small courtyard next door, disappearing in a mere blink. Wei Jiangyue was somewhat shocked. “That was Manor Lord Qin?”
Wenren Heng said, “Considered to be.”
Wei Jiangyue said, “How is it ‘considered to be’…”
As he spoke, he suddenly reacted and asked, “Don’t tell me that he also found someone to disguise as him?”
Wenren Heng said, “Yes.”
Wei Jiangyue said, “What’s the reason? Where is he going?” “To Lady Tao’s residence,” Wenren Heng said, “This time, if the
white piece was really going to use drugged people, a flute player will definitely come. Lady Tao’s qin playing can break through the sound of the flute. If you were the white piece, at this time, would you allow Lady Tao to come out and act as a hindrance?”
Wei Jiangyue wrinkled his brows. “Will he get there on time?” Wenren Heng calmly said, “Definitely on time.”
Wei Jiangyue was just about to doubtfully ask a few more words when he heard Wenren Heng add that, regardless, that also wasn’t the real Lady Tao, and he immediately fell silent. Internally, he thought that these pair of disciple-brothers have really planned out every possibility.
His mind couldn’t help but flash to Sir Xiao’s figure.
That person had already seen through all of the white piece’s moves, so was his grieving these past few days real or not? Had he already accepted and let go, or was he simply doing his utmost to suppress those feelings? Otherwise, they’d already set up all these things, so Sir Xiao definitely left because he also had something to do, right? Wei Jiangyue asked, “What does he want to do? Will he be in any danger?”
“He won’t.” Wenren Heng glanced at the fork in the road in front and reminded, “It’s the Abbot and the others.”
Wei Jiangyue then stopped speaking, lowering his head to follow Wenren Heng, doing his best to look like Sir Xiao’s usual appearance.
Matters had happened so suddenly that Abbot Ciyuan’s party were all urgently hurrying outside to get to the bottom of things and so had no time to spare on greetings, simply nodding their heads as they walked by. Wenren Heng and Wei Jiangyue slowed their steps, maintaining a perfectly acceptable distance, following behind the crowd neither too fast nor too slow, going towards the main gates of Shaolin.
At this time, those gates were already full of people, standing both inside and out.
Everyone saw that the Abbot and the others had come and conscientiously opened up a path.
Those elders lifted their heads to look and found that a group of black-clothed men were standing right outside Shaolin. The first row consisted of many people holding up torches, lighting up every which way as bright as daylight. One black-clothed, masked man stood in the center with hands clasped behind his back, currently quietly waiting for them.
Abbot Ciyuan put his palms together. “Amitabha. What noble errand brings this benefactor up the mountain this late at night?”
The black-clothed man didn’t respond and then, contrary to expectations, pulled down the mask from his face before coldly letting out a laugh.
This person’s facial features were very good and didn’t allow anyone to guess his specific age. Although the left side of his face was lined with a scar, he still looked extremely pleasing to the eye. It was only that, right now, carrying a cold smile while acting aggressive and overbearing made people lose much of their good impressions.
Everyone first startled before they, one after another, recognized his identity and sucked in a cold breath.
“It’s Ghost Gentleman202! Ah, it’s Ghost Gentleman!” “What? Ghost Gentleman?”
“Impossible, didn’t he die? How could he still be alive!” “Before was Blood-sucking Ghost, now it’s Ghost Gentleman…” “Can anyone tell me what exactly is going on?”
Abbot Ciyuan and the others were similarly shocked.
But at this time, persisting in asking the other party about why he’s still alive would obviously be of no use, and the black piece had already reminded them before that the dead could still be alive. If they weren’t fools, then they’d clearly see that this was the white piece’s work.
Ghost Gentleman looked around the circle. “Really, all of you from the righteous faction look hateful no matter how I look at you.”
Xie Junming said, “I agree with that sentiment.” Everyone, “…”
Why are you always here when things happen!
Ghost Gentleman hadn’t thought that there’d be someone who’d follow up on his words, and he looked over and said, “Wuwang Temple’s Xie Junming?”
“Yes, it’s me.” Xie Junming was wearing a large nightgown which exposed the majority of his chest, and he had come out like this without the slightest bit of shame. He waved his hand and said, “There’s no need to exchange any more conventional greetings. Since all of you came swaggering over like this, that means you’ve definitely brought along some drugged men, right? Quick, hurry and get them out. The earlier we finish, the earlier I can go back and sleep. Really, next time, can’t you choose instead to make a move during the day? How can you be so shameful?”
Although this rascal’s words were still ugly to hear, standing here on the sidelines like this while watching him choke someone else was still… was still quite refreshing.
Everyone fell silent.
Most likely because Ghost Gentleman had not heard many people use this tone of voice with him, his expression turned cold, though he didn’t erupt in anger, and he raised his hand to direct those behind him.
No one knew what he wanted to do and so everyone watched in anxiety. Then, the faint sounds of a flute drifted over, and those black-clothed men made identical moves to take off their masks. The bright torch flames shone onto their faces, letting people see them openly and clearly.
“That’s… that’s the adventurer Three-Layered Meaning203! Already been missing for four years! I didn’t think that he’d be found here!”
“Senior Brother, that’s my Senior Brother! Senior Brother! Senior Brother! Look at me, look at me!”
“Heavens… They can’t hear anything, there’s no reaction…” The expressions of Abbot Ciyuan and those elders were grave.
After being forced back step-by-step by the black piece, the white piece finally had all this hidden strength uncovered and revealed, but although they had made preparations, they could have never imagined that they’d encounter something this ghastly and sinister after barely making it to this corner.
The drugged men did not have any awareness and so could face them with swords drawn without the least bit of misgivings, while these fully awake, flesh-and-blood people couldn’t wage a life-and-death battle with them.
This fight wasn’t able to be fought.
The crowd of people still had those who were attempting to shout and scream at those drugged men, while those remaining had been shocked into blankness on the spot.
And then, before they even had the time to recover their senses from this unexpected event, they heard the echoes of whimpering. When they turned to follow these sounds, they found that there was a group of people being escorted forward by the black-clothed men. Within these people were some of the adventurers who had left Shaolin some days ago to eat a good meal and had never returned as well as disciples from many Jianghu sects. All of them had been kidnapped, with cloth stuffed into their mouths, and a knife hanging at their necks.
Ghost Gentleman said his fourth sentence since coming to this place as he pointed at these hostages and looked at the Abbot, “Our goal for coming tonight is very simple: we want to trade people for people.”