FRS: Chapter 7 – Unknown Murderer (7)
Translator: Momoe Pom
First Published on Ainushi.
Fan JiJing said, "Cousin, this is the Jiuhua Sect's business. You are one of the Hua family after all…"
"The Jiuhua Sect's business?" Hua HuaiXiu humphed, "Everyone who is somewhat respected in the Jiuhua Sect is now a suspect. Who would you have investigate this?"
"I…" Fan JiJing opened his mouth. Just as he was going to volunteer himself, Hua HuaiXiu interrupted him: "Don't forget, according to my inference last time, you are among the ones with the best motive."
Fan JiJing said dumbly, "But Cousin just testified for me…"
Hua HuaiXiu squinted his eyes and asked, "So, now you are burning the bridge after crossing it? Or are you going to find that guy from the Yinshan Sect to testify for you?" He shut his mouth abruptly.
Fan JiJing gazed at him in surprise: "Cousin, you…"
Hua HuaiXiu's embarrassment turned into anger. "I don't care what kind of relationship you and that Zhang Feng have at all!"
Fan JiJing explained, "We were just traveling together on the same road."
Hua HuaiXiu stared at him, as if he was weighing the credibility of his words.
Fan JiJing had no choice but to stay still so Hua HuaiXiu could stare as he wished.
After staring for a while, Hua HuaiXiu was finally satisfied and changed the topic: "Anyway, the Jiuhua Sect wants to find the murderer who killed their zhangmen, and I want to leave Mount Jiuhua soon; therefore, I have to find out who murdered your master as soon as possible."
Fan JiJing wanted to argue about it, but Hua HuaiXiu directly handed him a cup of boiling hot tea.
He took it, then cooled it down using the inner force through his palms.
Hua HuaiXiu raised his eyebrows, then said, "You are much more skilled in inner arts than in your martial arts moves." The Hua Family was both wealthy and powerful. As a result, they were never short on martial arts manuals. What they lacked was talented people who were able to fully grasp these martial arts masterpieces. Therefore, even though people of the Hua family were not very proficient at martial arts themselves, they all had a good eye for talent.
Fan JiJing responded, "The Jiuhua Sect has only one set of inner arts."
Hua HuaiXiu's eyes lit up a bit as he said, "By the way, your master doesn't seem like a good person."
"Cousin!" Fan JiJing's face darkened. "No matter what Master has done before, the departed shall be respected. You should not disturb his spirit."
Hua HuaiXiu pressed his lips together, then said, "I'm just judging him from what I have observed. Only scoundrels harm a man of justice, and for a man that's… not so much into justice, it's highly possible that the people who harmed him are those that were unfairly treated." Seeing Fan JiJing frowning at him, he gave a faint smile and said, "So to speak, you are once again to be suspected."
Fan JiJing asked perplexedly, "When was I ever a victim of unfair treatment?"
"Bu LouLian has a total of five disciples. Besides his only female disciple, ShangGuan DingNing, and you, everyone knows how to use Xianlian Sword. Isn't this unfair?"
Fan JiJing shook his head in reply: "Master is the zhangmen of the Jiuhua Sect. He has the authority to decide on the disciples who will carry on the Xianlian Sword."
Every time he saw him talking silly with a serious expression, Hua HuaiXiu would miss the young but quick-witted Fan JiJing from the past greatly. He sighed, "You can think like this, but not everyone thinks like you."
Fan JiJing looked at him doubtfully.
"Although ShangGuan DingNing is a woman, women have their ambitions as well. The Jiuhua Sect is not a sect that follows the rule of 'Pass it onto the males, but not the females.' Putting aside the fact that you were not on Mount Jiuhua at that time, she was clearly here, yet your master taught the sword arts to the others but not her. One cannot say for sure that she didn't have some murderous intentions towards him." said Hua HuaiXiu. "Moreover, Shi JiZhong once said that your master had always been annoyed by her clumsiness when he was alive and used to boss her around. Any woman with pride would not easily let it go."
Fan JiJing said, "But shimei, she…"
"Moreover, ShangGuan DingNing and Zhu LiaoDa were fond of each other, but your master willfully hindered them in every possible way. With new hatred piling on the old ones, evil grew abreast of their galls…" Hua HuaiXiu lifted the cup and swirled it a few times. A glint of coldness flashed across his eyes.
Fan JiJing was shocked by the coldness that glimmered under his eyes. After a long period of time, he said, "But…"
"But the two of them alone may not be enough to kill your master."
Fan JiJing nodded.
"That's why they are just suspects for now." Hua HuaiXiu put down the teacup and said, "I have a strange feeling at this moment."
"The reason that your shidi and shishu were apathetic towards your master's death might be…"
Fan JiJing persisted, "Might be what?"
Hua HuaiXiu answered slowly, "Whether they are the murderers or not, they all had motives to become one."
Fan JiJing was dazed. After a period of time, he replied, "Are you saying that all of them wanted Master dead?"
"It's possible." Hua HuaiXiu said, "But this is what makes me curious. If it's the murderer, he should make every attempt to cover up his motives and then pretend to be suffocated by grief. Why have none of them even bothered to conceal it?"
Fan JiJing said, "It's not like they don't feel sorrowful, they are just reserved in terms of emotions."
Hua HuaiXiu did not pay any attention to his argument but continued, "Unless…"
Hua HuaiXiu thought for a moment and felt his conjectures a bit too shocking. He shook his head and said, "Nothing."
Suddenly, Fan JiJing's ears moved a little, then they heard someone pounding on the neighboring room's door at full blast, creating a stream of banging sounds.
Hua HuaiXiu stood up and opened the door. He stuck out half of his body and then asked, "Song Daxia? Wu Daxia?"
Song BoLin's voice came from outside: "Hua Gongzi, do you know where Fan JiJing is?"
Fan JiJing hurried out from the room: "Second shishu. Fifth shishu."
Song BoLin did not reply but dragged out a disciple from behind. Then he said, "Well, tell us what you saw on the night of the crime."
The disciple shrank his neck and spoke in a low voice. "On the night of zhangmen's accident, I saw eldest shixiong Guan Xing and fifth shixiong Shi JiZhong passing through the garden together with swords in their hands."
Fan JiJing was shocked. It was necessary to go through the garden when going from zhangmen's room to theirs.
Song BoLin sneered, "Didn't they say they were drinking tea and chatting in their room that night? Could it be that they had too much tea so they had to get rid of it in the garden?"
Wu ChangBo asked, "Shixiong, are you suspecting them of murdering zhangmen or ruining the flowers you planted in the garden?"
Song BoLin glanced at him sourly and said, "Do you think I'm the kind of person that will fall out with them simply because of some flowers?"
Wu ChangBo cleared his throat, then replied, "Actually I'm the one who accidentally broke the camelia you planted in the garden."
"…" Song BoLin abruptly struck out his palm at him saying, "I'm going to kill you."
Wu ChangBo blocked his attack with a raise of his hand, then sighed, "Shixiong, you just said you wouldn't fall out just because of some flowers."
Song BoLin replied, "Just now I was asking you whether I was this kind of person or not. Now I'm telling you, I AM this kind of person!"
Wu ChangBo: "…"
Hua HuaiXiu was not interested in their almost playing type of fighting, so he cut in: "If so, I think we need to ask Guan Xing and Shi JiZhong to clarify what they were actually doing on that night."
Song BoLin humphed, "Is there a need to ask?" Right after the sentence, he found everyone staring at him with fixed eyes. He said irritatedly at once, "Then do as you like!" then flicked his sleeves and left.
Wu ChangBo gave Fan JiJing a faint smile and said, "Then I'll leave it to you."
Fan JiJing nodded solemnly.
During this short stay in the Jiuhua Sect, besides Fan JiJing, Guan Xing and Shi JiZhong were the only two people that Hua HuaiXiu felt comfortable with, so he tried to be implicit with his inquiries. However, no matter how implicit his words were, it was impossible to gloss over the interrogative nature of the questions.
Because of this, Shi JiZhong's face took on a somewhat ghastly expression. Just as he was going to argue, he saw Guan Xing wave his hand and asked, "Someone saw us in the garden?"
There was a difference between "in the garden" and "passing through the garden". "In the garden" meant that the garden was his sole destination at the time, and he did not go to any other places afterward.
Hua HuaiXiu asked, "Why were you in the garden at midnight?"
Guan Xing replied without a change on his face. "Practicing martial arts."
Hua HuaiXiu's eyebrows furrowed. Why does everyone in the Jiuhua Sect enjoy practicing at midnight? Song BoLin and Wu ChangBo as well. It surely can't be that the martial arts of the Jiuhua Sect need its practitioners to absorb the essence of the moon, right?
Fan JiJing said, "Practicing is a good deed. Why didn't eldest shixiong explain it clearly back then?"
Shi JiZhong wanted to say something but couldn't get his tongue around it.
Guan Xing said, "We were practicing Xianlian Sword."
Hua HuaiXiu said, "Wasn't it known publicly that your master taught Xianlian Sword to both of you? Why do you need to practice it secretly at midnight?" As if something suddenly came into his mind, he lowered his voice and asked, "Are you afraid that someone else might steal it after watching you?"
"It's not the stealing, it's…it's…" Shi JiZhong's expression became complicated. Anger, disappointment, agony, confusion… All kinds of emotions tangled with each other, even turning his eyeballs slightly red.
Guan Xing sighed, "We are not murderers."
Hua HuaiXiu said, "We believe you, but we want a reason to believe."
Guan Xing had always been an extremely composed person. However, even for a man like him, there were now traces of unrestrained anger in his eyes. "I'm teaching him the final move of each skill set in Xianlian Sword."
Hua HuaiXiu and Fan JiJing were both stunned.
Fan JiJing asked, "Hasn't Master taught the complete set of Xianlian Sword to all of you already?"
Guan Xing said, "At first, I thought so as well, but I found out later that Master only taught them the beginning part of each set, not the finishing move."
Hua HuaiXiu inquired, "What's particular about the finishing move?"
Guan Xing replied, "The finishing move, together with the inner arts, guides the qi inside one's body back to their dantian . If a martial artist practices without the finishing move for a long time, he will lose control over his qi and eventually meet his death."
Translation NotesDantian: A place inside one's body that is believed to be the birthplace of qi and also where qi will return to after traveling through the body. An essential spot in meditation or practicing of martial/inner arts in wuxia novels. [back]