The narrow corridor was slightly cramped. Wen Jing cheekily shoved Jun YanZhi behind while passing first. He turned around calmly, yet was almost greeted with a protruding sharp corner to which Jun Yanzhi immediately used his hand to protect Wen Jing’s head.
“Be careful…Don’t let the stone get hurt,” said Jun Yanzhi softly.
Wen Jing felt that Jun Yanzhi was flirting with him, yet he didn’t know how to flirt back. So, he cleared his throat and said, “Those stones aren’t as delicate as you, and neither are they as much of a crybaby.”
Jun Yanzhi’s complexion changed. He lowered his head. “I only cried a little more in those three years…,” said him with some bitterness in his tone.
Wen Jing knew he had misspoken and was immediately filled with regret. He coaxed him with a bitter face, “All those were because of me. I’m in the wrong. Jun-Shixiong,...” pretty please don’t cry anymore. If you cry again, I’ll want to cry too.
As they were passing the corridor, Jun Yanzhi snuggled up to him and said softly, “Shidi, I’ve often been thinking these past few days, that maybe this was what I owe you in my last life. I received your feelings in the previous life, yet couldn’t repay them. These three years of tears were what I’m giving back…”
The blue veins on Wei Jing’s temple twitched slightly. Oh, how he so much wanted to smear mouse feces on his face. Just where did this thought come from, did he think he was Lin Daiyu? So, she paid back her debt by tears and he did too? Ain’t he just called him ‘Fairy Gege’ that one time in their first meeting, was that become prophetic now?
Liu Qianmo anxiously called from the outside, “What are you two doing? Are you done yet?’
“We’re done, we’re done! We’re coming out!” Wen Jing then said softly with a bitter face, “Shixiong, you can act however you want in front of me, but please keep your usual elegant immortal aura in front of others, okay?”
Jun Yanzhi stared down at him, then suddenly lowered his head and pressed him against the stone wall for a kiss.
This place was extremely narrow, and it has been quite a long time since the both of them have any intimate contact. Wen Jing abruptly felt a burst of feverish feeling surge up from his lower half, which was like a blaze, unbearably roasting his whole body. He couldn’t help blushing, even the roots of his hair felt heated. Thus, he desperately pushed Jun Yanzhi away.
“... What are you doing?”
Jun Yanzhi bit his lips, but soon regained his pure, cold, and elegant look–even his gaze was clear and upright, “Eldest Shixiong is waiting outside. Let’s go.”
Wen Jing lowered his head and led the way.
It was the right place and the right people, but not the right time. If it wasn’t for Liu Qianmo being outside, in this place he and Jun Yanzhi would have…
The two people walked out of the dungeon one after the other. Jun Yanzhi was as silent as he was before, and Wen Jing stood five steps away from him with his head bowed, seeming a little aggrieved.
Liu Qianmo was preoccupied, thus failing to notice the strangeness between the two. He spoke anxiously, “Small wounds suddenly appeared on the body of five to six hundreds of Qingxu Sword Sect’s disciples, letting out blood non-stop. Elder Yun Xi is getting anxious and let me call you guys over to see if there’s a way.”
Wen Jing was stunned, “Isn’t Xi Fang dead already?”
Liu Qianmo fretted, “Xi Fang is dead and Zhu Jin is arrested, but there’s still something bad happening to five to six hundred people from our sword sect. I also don’t know what’s going on. Let’s go over and see for yourselves!”
Jun Yanzhi replied, “Grind Whiteflower Grass, Metal Bright Grass, and Re-Immortal Grass into a paste and smear it into their wound. Don’t feed them any medicine nor let them use any spells. Wen Jing and I will go to Elder Yun Xi’s place first for a discussion.”
Liu QianMo repeatedly agreed then fly straightaway, “I’ll go prepare them first. Elder Yun Xi is in the dwelling place of Sect Leader in Yu Rong Peak!”
Wen Jing pulled on Jun Yanzhi, “Go!”
Jun Yanzhi had his eyes lowered and were deep in thought all the way. He didn’t say much, and it wasn’t nice for Wen Jing to disturb him. He was also wondering inwardly: Xi Fang is dead, Zhu Jin is arrested, so who is it that caused mischief? They were only putting their mind on Xi Fang and were unaware that there was still another person hiding in the darkness. And the terrible thing was, the Blood-Beckoning Banner is in their hands!
He couldn’t help but ask, “Jun-Shixiong, who do you think this person is? And what can be their intention?”
Jun Yanzhi softly replied, “Do you know that back then, I saw my mother and little sister getting killed with my own eyes? Their killers are those two people I’ve personally killed in the Heng Tian Sect.”
Wen Jing clutched his hand firmly, “En, good riddance.”
Jun Yanzhi’s gaze slightly chilled, “But I haven’t yet found the one who killed my father. Two among the demonic cultivators that I force-interrogated told me that they saw Duan Xuan kill my father with their pairs of eyes.”
Wen Jing let out a soft cry, “That year someone disguised himself as Shifu and went together with the crowd of demonic cultivators to exterminate Hen Yang Palace. Are you saying that wasn’t Xi Fang?”
“This Xi Fang was used to manipulate in the dark and to devise battle plans in the tent. He was someone who didn’t like to get his hands stained by blood. He didn’t need to impersonate Shifu and go into the battle himself. I originally felt it was a bit strange, but also didn’t give it much thought…”
If this person was the one who impersonated Shifu that year, didn’t that make him the foe who killed Jun Yanzhi’s father? Who the hell was he?
The two didn’t talk any longer, each immersed in their thoughts while they hurried straight to Xi Fang’s residence in Yu Rong Peak.
This was the dwelling place of the Qingxu Sword Sect’s Leader. The place had a particular architectural style with imposing grandeur. A millennium-old ancient tree was also placed on each of its two sides with its lush leaves and branches covering the sky.
Wen Jing and Jun Yanzhi hadn’t started to talk when an aged voice sounded from inside, “Come in.”
As they came inside, what greeted them was a clear spring that occupied a greater half of the courtyard. Its water was so clear that you could see its bottom part. The courtyard itself was filled with fragrant clusters of Spirit Grass, and Elder Yun Xi was sitting in a stone chair among them, reading and flipping a book in hand.
Wen Jing spoke, “Elder Yun Xi, Disciples await your instructions.”
Elder Yun Xi closed the book, “Do you perchance have any method to unravel the spell of Blood-Beckoning Banner? The Hundred Herbs Thousand Souls Spell can remove the effect of demonic cultivation, but does it have the ability to fully unravel this spell?”
Jun Yanzhi answered, “Disciple has already let Eldest Shixiong concoct the medicine to staunch the bleeding. There’s no great harm for the time being, and this Disciple will go over and give the spell a try shortly."
Wen Jing asked, “Is the Elder aware of this matter regarding the Blood-Beckoning Banner?”
Elder Yun Xi twirled his beard, threw the book in his hand to Wen Jing, and answered in a soft sigh, “That case had indeed killed a lot of people back then. Yet I’ve been cultivating in seclusion for so long that I actually was unaware of this kind of thing happening.”
Jun Yanzhi spoke, “Since the Elder has read Xi Fang’s note of this, was there perhaps any mention of who the person who impersonated Shifu and massacred Heng Yang Palace at the time?”
Elder Yun Xi fiddled with his beard, “His secret record library has at least a thousand books. Over a hundred years of either small or big things of the sword sect were all recorded inside. I’ve been browsing them for quite a time and just only reached the part where Lu Zhen died.”
Wen Jing gave the book in his hand a skim, finding out that a big part of it was records of all kinds of daily things in the sword sect. He gaped, wishing to speak but hesitated.
Elder Yun Xi sighed, “You don’t have to read. Just hear what I’m about to tell you. Since he was little, Lu Zhen was fond of studying sects’ histories, and he had a considerably profound understanding of every school and sect there was in the Zhu Feng Nation. He grew up together with Xi Fang. Their ages were similar, and their sentiment for each other went a tad deeper than to any other martial brothers. In the history book, Zhangsun Liu Pin accepted a disciple and imparted his life-long knowledge to him. This disciple was deeply grateful. He was an orphan, so he followed his Shifu's surname, Zhangsun. Yet after Zhangsun Liu Pin ascended to the Upper Spirit World, this disciple concealed his identity and disappeared.”
“En, and then?”
“There was an ugly scar on the left side of this disciple’s face. It wasn’t anything special, initially, but as Lu Zhen was reading the history of Heng Yang Palace, he would from time to time be met with texts that vaguely mentioned the presence of a scar on the left side of their ancestor’s face. If it wasn't for Lu Zhen reading any kind of miscellaneous documents, he also wouldn't have ever discovered this. He thought this was interesting, so he told Xi Fang of it and about how a mind technique of Heng Yang Palace, the Upper Cloud True Formula, has some incredible similarities to the Lone Immortal Sword Technique practiced by Zhangsun Liu Pin back at the time. The speaker came from pure thoughts, yet the listener had other intentions in his heart. Xi Fang had always wanted to restore the heyday of the sword sect, so it was natural for him to grow a deep interest in Heng Yang Palace after that. He wanted to follow the clues along and see for himself whether the Heng Yang Palace was precisely the later generation of that Zhangsun Liu Pin's disciple or not."
Jun Yanzhi listened quietly.
"Yet soon after, he was chosen by me to inherit the position of the Sect Leader. He was full of mettle and had a plethora of things to tackle, so this matter got temporarily forgotten. As Lu Zhen was someone with a moderate character and shunned the material world, he gradually had lesser things to talk about with Xi Fang. They then drifted apart, and he lived his life peacefully accepting disciples and wholeheartedly teaching them in his Hui Shi Peak. This was the time when he accepted the twelve-year-old Duan Xuan as his disciple."
Wen Jing couldn't help letting out a soft sigh in his heart.
"Duan Xuan is a rare good seedling. He didn't talk much and was very assiduous in learning. Lu Zhen was fond of these characters and naturally treated Duan Xuan very well. In fact, he was good to all his disciples, but Duan Xuan was an orphan who had never had someone treat him as his Shifu was. As time passed, an inexplicable emotion was then born."
Elder Yun Xi couldn't help but sigh when he reached this part, "I was also to blame. Duan Xuan's intention for your Lu-Shizu was not without a clue from the start. There was this one time when I met Lu Zhen and Duan Xuan when they were picking up Spirit Grass. The dews in the mountain valleys are aplenty and there was also a slight drizzle at the time. Duan Xuan was propping an umbrella from behind, yet the umbrella was positioned entirely above Lu Zhen's head while he let himself be drenched. Back then, I even made fun of Duan Xuan, saying how your Shifu was so good that you should later marry him and be his wife. I was only making a joke, never expecting him to immediately turn red-faced and then leave in a huff."
Wen Jing threw an expression of 'such tragic sight' to Jun Yanzhi.
Elder Yun Xi let out another sigh, "Xi Fang felt somewhat uncomfortable seeing how Duan Xuan and Lu Zhen got closer and closer. Yet he had his responsibility as a Sect Leader, adding that Duan Xuan was a rare genius, he couldn't just let private emotions affect his judgment. Thus they drifted apart even more. As the rank of our sword sect got lower and lower among the Five Great Sects, Xi Fang got anxious and started to have thoughts about merging with the Heng Yang Palace.”
Jun Yanzhi, “What kind of merging?”
“Xi Fang collected all the information he could on Heng Yang Palace’s history. He found that other than the Upper Cloud True Formula, some of their other sword techniques and heart techniques also have the influence of our sword sect in them, thus affirming his thoughts. He then started to approach your father, using both emotions and reasons in coaxing him to pay allegiance to our sword sect.”
“My father would certainly refuse.”
“Your father of course refused to admit that Heng Yang Palace originated from Qingxu Sword Sect. In fact, he was completely unaware of the matter at the time. Yet when Xi Fang mentioned the two ancient inheritance scrolls, his expression was abnormal. This led Xi Fang to become infinitely certain in his heart. [Hundred Herbs Thousand Souls Spell] was originally named [Earth Expansion Heart Technique], and [Five Phases to Primordial Sword Technique] was originally the [Cleanse Heart Sword Technique]. Although Heng Yang Palace changed the name of these inheritances, their content was left untouched. When your father discovered that Heng Yang Palace turned out to have originated from the Qingxu Sword Sect, his thoughts were also troubled. He then said that this matter of merging was absolutely impossible, and he avoided the topic in its entirety ever since.”
Jun Yanzhi responded, “Xi Fang naturally wouldn’t just give up.”
“Xi Fang was certain that the two ancient inheritance scrolls still exist, so how could he be willing to give up? He was actually quite sincere back then. He visited and waited before the Heng Yang Palace in plain clothes many times. He promised him the position of master in two peaks, and that the disciples who followed could enjoy the resources of the sword sect as much as they liked. Your father had an inflexible nature, and bound with his ancestral teachings, he insisted on refusing. The two were thus stuck in a deadlock.”
Elder Yun Xi sighed, “It was unexpected that at this time, the accident of Lu Zhen being harmed by a demonic cultivator happened.”
He paused for a moment, then continued, “The matter of Zhangsun Liu Pin taking away Earth Expansion Heart Technique and Cleanse Heart Sword Technique was both something of the ancient time as well as a disgrace to our sword sect. Not many people were aware of it, and even those aware may not even know their names. If it were not for his identity as the Sect Leader, Xi Fang also wouldn’t know the effect of the Earth Expansion Heart Technique and Cleanse Heart Sword Technique. Xi Fang was repeatedly rejected by your father, he felt ashamed and enraged. He could only consult Lu Zhen about this matter, so he went to find him on the same night.”
“Lu Zhen’s body at this time had already started to fester, yet he kept gently caressing his wedding garments, neither eating nor sleeping. Xi Fang got a huge shock seeing him in this state. He tried to interrogate, yet Lu Zhen shut his mouth tight, only saying that he had accidentally provoked a demonic cultivator which led to their revenge. Xi Fang was panicking, he knew only the Hundred Herbs Thousand Souls Spell of the Heng Yang Palace could rescue him. So he yet again abandoned his shame and visited their door, begging your father to get someone to study the Hundred Herbs Thousand Souls Spell.”
Jun Yanzhi’s face turned ashen, “Yet unfortunately, since I was six, the Hundred Herbs Thousand Souls Spell had already chosen me as its inheritor.”
“That was the case,” sighed Elder Yun Xi, “Your father deliberated again and again, yet still rejected him in the end. You need to be at least fifteen years old before you start studying the Hundred Herbs Thousand Souls Spell, otherwise, it would be very easy for the spell to backfire and cause you a sudden death. You were only ten years old back then, while Lu Zhen didn’t even have a full month left of his lifetime. If you were forced to study the spell, then death was the only end waiting for you. Lu Zhen was merely an outsider, how could your father be willing to sacrifice the life of his son for him?”
Jun Yanzhi’s eyelashes trembled, “Understood.”
“For Lu Zhen, Xi Fang waited for days and nights before the Heng Yang Palace, yet it was unhelpful. Later, he couldn’t afford to wait any longer. He once again returned to the sword sect to visit Lu Zhen, only to discover that his body had already festered beyond human recognition. He was gone already. All the boxes of pills in the room were empty as if he just couldn’t take the pain any longer and had forcefully ingested a load full of medicine to put an end to himself. Lu Zhen left Duan Xuan a lot of records. They were mainly about everyday stuff, yet Xi Fang managed to guess the general course of things from his intermittent and vague descriptions.”
Wen Jing sighed, “I didn’t expect it to be like this...”
“You could guess what happened next. Xi Fang lost control of himself in his grief. He threw all his resentment to Heng Yang Palace, which had refused to relent, and to the demonic cultivator, who had inflicted much suffering. He vowed to have them all killed. Lu Zhen’s death was caused by Duan Xuan, so Xi Fang didn’t plan to let him go unscathed. He thus orchestrated this complicated case. He dispatched someone to impersonate Duan Xuan and to lead the demonic cultivators to exterminate the entire Heng Yang Palace.”
Jun Yanzhi’s face paled, and he nodded, “I understood.”
Wen Jing held his hand tightly, “Shixiong…”
“The Heng Yang Palace was very innocent in this case. It was Xi Fang who had long lost his humanity. What was left in his heart was to merge the Heng Yang Palace, win back the inheritances, and revive the sword sect. He told himself again and again, that everything he did was all for the consideration of the sword sect.” Elder Yun Xi lowered his head and halted for a moment. He sighed, “Xi Fang was originally a good disciple. It’s just his nature that was somewhat biased. After experiencing this unforeseen event, he changed into someone truly ruthless.”
Wen Jing had nothing to say to this. He thought inwardly, that everyone has their own coping mechanisms, Xi Fang’s self-hypnotism was something that couldn’t be helped, yet it did cause a lot of trouble. If he could choose, he would rather everyone be like Jun Yanzhi who cried straight for three years. Not only was it heart-wrenching, but it also wouldn’t end in them doing anything that they would regret later.
Elder Yun Xi said, “I’ve only reached here. You should first go take a look at those wounded disciples, while I’m staying here to read some more and tell you the content after I finish.”
“Many thanks, Elder. Shixiong, Let’s go.”
“En, let’s first go back to Hui Shi Peak.”
There was no time to lose. The two took their leaves and delayed no longer going toward the Hui Shi Peak. Wen Jing pulled at Jun Yanzhi’s hand, saying softly, “Shixiong, now that the matter was mostly cleared up, we could have some explanation at long last.”
“This thing was really… complicated.” Wen Jing then consoled, “But don’t overthink yet now. We’ll wait until Elder Yun Xi gets the latter half of the matter cleared up before deciding on our next plan.”
“En,” a faint smile formed in the corner of Jun Yanzhi’s lips.
They were yet to land, yet they could already see a few disciples gathered in Wen Jing’s residence from afar. The back figure in white was Liu Qianmo, who was speaking anxiously, “How did the Big Turtle become like this?”
“Can it survive?”
Wen Jing’s heart suddenly trembled, he hurriedly rushed down and shouted, “Get out of the way! What happened to Big Turtle?!”
He squeezed his way into the crowd, only to see Big Turtle lying down motionless with half-drooping eyes and its blood covering the ground, yet still continuously dripping down. Wen Jing’s lips turned so white that he couldn’t even get a word out. He crouched down and caressed it gently.
Bloody red scars were crisscrossing all over its body, and its turtle shell was broken down with a great force, embedding into its inner body. It was a very tragic sight to see. That usual bright beady eyes had now also lost their luster.
The Big Turtle raised his eyes to see him, then opened its mouth with difficulty.
In its mouth was half a finger with a jade ring.
Everyone lost their words.
“Whose finger is this? Who hurt Big Turtle like this?” Wen Jing picked up that finger, “Whose?!”
Mo Shaoyan hurriedly stuttered out, “I was walking halfway when I suddenly heard someone shrieking ‘Damned turtle, let go of me!’ I rushed here immediately, yet only saw a cloaked person running in a panic with a black banner in his hand while Big Turtle was lying on the ground like this, bleeding all over its body.”
Liu Qianmo asked, distressed, “You couldn’t see who it was?”
“It can be rescued, right?”
Big Turtle carefully moved a bit closer to Wen Jing. It rubbed its head on his hand and opened its mouth to lightly bite. It hadn’t managed to fully bite, when, as if falling asleep, it stopped moving.
Wen Jing absentmindedly stroked its head.
Jun Yanzhi calmly pulled Wen Jing away while he crouched down and softly raised the turtle’s head. He sent a thread of spiritual qi into Big Turtle's body, lowered his head without speaking for a long time, then finally looked up and said softly, “Shidi, don’t you worry, I’ll see what I can do.”
Wen Jing spoke softly, “What’s happening? It even bit me just then. Has it fainted?”
Jun Yanzhi pulled on his hand, hoarsely appeasing, “En, it has fainted.”
Wen Jing stared at him in a daze. The rim of his eyes abruptly warmed up.
With the way Jun Yanzhi was saying, how come it sounded more like it had already died.
First part of the NW
5200+ characters in Chinese
I assume you've read the 81 chapters before this so I won't delve in the glossary :p
if some vocabs translated different, that's just preferences.
Hundred Herbs Thousand Souls Spell: Baicao Qianhu Shu
Earth Expansion Heart Technique: Diyan Xinfa
Cleanse Heart Sword Technique: Suxin Jinfa
Five Phases to Primordial Sword Technique: Wuxing Guiyuan Jinfa
Blood-Beckoning Banner: Xuezhao Qi