110 Concealment - Part 4

Wei WuXian, "Coffins are used to hold corpses, of course. I'm guessing that what had been buried here was the corpse of Jin GuangYao's mother, Meng Shi. He came here tonight likely to retrieve his mother's corpse and travel to DongYing with her."

Lan XiChen said nothing. Nie HuaiSang exclaimed with an 'ah', "Oh, yeah. It sounds very reasonable."

Wei WuXian asked, "What do you think the person would do after they dug out the corpse of Jin GuangYao's mother?"

Nie HuaiSang, "Wei-xiong, why do you keep on asking me? No matter how much you ask, I don't know anything." With a pause, he continued, "But…" Slowly, Nie HuaiSang brushed together his storm-drenched hair, "I think that if this person hates Jin GuangYao so much, they'd probably be entirely merciless towards something he cherishes more than his life."

Wei WuXian, "Like cutting apart his corpse and keeping his limbs at different places, like what happened to ChiFeng-Zun?"

Nie HuaiSang jumped, stumbling backwards, "Th-Th-That's… That's a bit too much, isn't it…"

Wei WuXian stared at him for a while before finally averting his gaze. Conjectures were conjectures, after all. Nobody had evidence.

Perhaps the confusion and helplessness on Nie HuaiSang's face right now was all pretense. He didn't want to admit that he used others as pawns, treating human lives as nothing. Perhaps this wasn't the entirety of his plan. He had to hide his true colors to do more things, reach higher goals. Or, perhaps it wasn't at all so complicated. There was someone else who sent the letter, killed the cats, and pieced together Nie MingJue's head and body. Perhaps Nie HuaiSang was a complete, authentic good-for-nothing.

Maybe the last words Jin GuangYao said was a last-minute lie after his intention of attack was seen through by Nie HuaiSang, so that Lan XiChen's thoughts would be disrupted while Jin GuangYao dragged them towards the same death. After all, Jin GuangYao was a big liar with countless past offenses. It wouldn't be strange no matter when he lied or what he lied about.

As for why he changed his mind at the last moment, and pushed Lan XiChen out of the way, who could know just what exactly he was thinking?

Veins suddenly lined the back of the hand in which Lan XiChen placed on his forehead. His voice sounded muffled, "… Just what does he want to do? I once thought I knew him well, and then I realized I did not. Before tonight, I thought I knew him well once more, but now I do not." Nobody could give him an answer. Lan XiChen repeated in frustration, "Just what does he want to do?"

Yet, as even he who was closest to Jin GuangYao didn't know, it was impossible that others had an answer.

After a while of silence, Wei WuXian spoke, "Let's stop standing around for nothing. Get a few people to go find assistance. Save a few to stand by here and watch the thing. The coffin and the guqin strings won't be able to seal ChiFeng-Zun for long."

As though to verify his judgement, loud noises echoed within the coffin again, along with a nameless fury. Nie HuaiSang shivered. Wei WuXian glanced at him, "You see? You have to switch to a firmer coffin right now, dig a deep ditch, and bury it once more. You won't be able to open it in at least a hundred years. If you do, it's guaranteed it'll continue to haunt, resulting in endless consequences…"

Before he could finish, a loud, clear bark came from afar.

Wei WuXian's face changed at once, while Jin Ling managed to gain some energy, "Fairy!"

The thunder had died and the pouring rain had become a sprinkle. The darkest part of the night had already passed. Light could be seen.

Sprinting, the soaking-wet dog flew in like a black wind, throwing itself at Jin Ling. Its round eyes were damp as it stood up on its hind legs, clinging to Jin Ling's lap and whimpering. Wei WuXian watched as its crimson tongue extended from its white, sharp teeth and licked Jin Ling's hand. His face paled and his eyes glazed over. As he opened his lips, he felt that his soul was about to become a wisp of green smoke and fly to the Heavens through his mouth. Quietly, Lan WangJi placed himself in front of him, blocking the line of sight between him and Fairy.

Immediately, hundreds of people surrounded the Guanyin Temple, each looking alarmed with swords unsheathed as though they were ready for a big fight. However, after those who rushed into the temple first saw the scene before their eyes, they all hesitated in surprise. Those lying on the ground were all dead; those who didn't die were half-lying, half-standing. In summary, corpses and general chaos were plastered all over the floor.

Of the two who were at the foremost position, the left was the chief manager of the YunmengJiang Sect, while the left was Lan QiRen. Lan QiRen still had on a face full of shock and doubt. Before he even opened his mouth to ask, the first thing he saw was Lan WangJi, so close to Wei WuXian that they were practically one person. Within the blink of an eye, he'd forgotten everything he wanted to ask. Rage surged onto his face. Brows knitted together, he huffed and puffed, sending his mustache flying into the air.

The chief manager immediately went forth to help Jiang Cheng up, "Sect Leader, are you alright…"

While Lan QiRen raised his sword and shouted, "Wei…"

Before he even finished a few white-clothed figures rushed out from behind his back, all of them shouting, "HanGuang-Jun!"

"Senior Wei!"

"Senior Patriarch!"

The last boy bumped into Lan QiRen so hard he almost tipped over. He fumed, "No running! No making clamor!"

Apart from Lan WangJi, who turned to him and called, "Uncle", nobody paid him any attention.

Lan SiZhui grabbed Lan WangJi's sleeve with his left hand and Wei WuXian's arm with his right, beaming, "This is great! HanGuang-Jun, Senior Wei, what a relief that both of you are fine. With how anxious Fairy was, we thought you came into something truly difficult."

Lan JingYi, "SiZhui, really? How could there be a situation HanGuang-Jun cannot deal with? Told you you were worrying too much."

"JingYi, were you not the one who was worried the entire way here?"

"Go away! Stop speaking nonsense."

Lan SiZhui saw Wen Ning, who was finally able to get up from the ground, out of the corner of his eye. He immediately dragged him over as well and stuffed him into the circle of boys, who explained what had happened, all chirping at once.

After Fairy bit Su She, it sprinted all the way towards a dependent sect of the YunmengJiang Sect's that was located around this town, barking unstoppably at its door. As the young sect leader saw the special collar at its neck, including a golden sign and a crest, he knew that this spiritual dog was probably of important background. With blood all over its body, it was clear that it had been in battle, with its owner having likely come across danger. Afraid of mishandling this, he immediately mounted his sword and brought it to Lotus Pier to notify the real sect presiding over the area, the YunmengJiang Sect. The chief manager at once recognized that this was the spiritual dog, Fairy of Young Master Jin Ling, and sent assistance immediately.

At the time, the GusuLan Sect was also about to leave Lotus Pier. Lan QiRen, however, was stopped by Fairy. It hopped up, tore off a thin white fabric from the hem of Lan SiZhui's robe, and used his paws to shove it onto its its head, as if it wanted to make the white cloth into a circle around its forehead. It then lay on the ground and pretended to be dead. Lan QiRen had no idea what was happening, but Lan SiZhui had a moment of epiphany, "Mr. Lan, does it not seem like it is imitating the forehead ribbon of our sect? Does it want to tell us that either HanGuang-Jun or someone from the Lan Sect is also in danger?"

And so, the YunmengJiang Sect, the GusuLan Sect, and a few other sects that hadn't left yet finally gathered everyone and came to assist them together.

Lan JingYi clicked his tongue, "We keep on calling it 'Fairy' this, 'Fairy' that, but who would have known it really is a spiritual dog!"

But no matter how spiritual, how magical it was, it was still a dog, the scariest creature in this world, to Wei WuXian. Even with Lan WangJi in front of him, he still shivered from his head to his toes. Ever since the Lan Sect juniors came, Jin Ling kept on sneaking glances at them, watching how they surrounded Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi in chatter.

Seeing Wei WuXian's complexion grow even paler, he slapped Fairy's butt and whispered, "Fairy, you go outside first." Fairy shook his head and his tail, continuing to lick him. Jin Ling scolded, "Get out. Not listening to me anymore?"

Fairy gave him a pitiful state and jogged out of the temple, tail wagging. Wei WuXian could finally let out a sigh of relief. Jin Ling wanted to go over, but he felt somewhat embarrassed. Just as he was hesitating, Lan SiZhui suddenly saw what was at Wei WuXian's waist. He paused for a moment, "… Senior Wei?"

Wei WuXian, "Hm? What?"

Lan SiZhui seemed to be in a trance, "Could… Could you let me take a look at your flute?"

Wei WuXian took it off, "What about the flute?"

Lan SiZhui received the flute with both hands and frowned a bit, some confusion on his face. Lan WangJi looked at him, while Wei WuXian looked at Lan WangJi, "What's wrong with your SiZhui? He likes my flute?"

Lan JingYi exclaimed, "What? You finally lost that bad, out-of-tune flute of yours? This new one seems quite good!"

But he didn't know that this new, 'quite good' flute was the spiritual tool he'd always wanted to take a look at—the legendary ghost flute 'Chenqing'. He only beamed in his heart, Great! Now at least he will not lose face for HanGuang-Jun when he plays a duet with HanGuang-Jun. Heavens! The flute he had was ugly to both the eye and the ear!

Lan WangJi, "SiZhui."

Lan SiZhui finally snapped out of it. He gave Chenqing back to Wei WuXian with both hands again, "Senior Wei."

Wei WuXian took the flute. Remembering that Jiang Cheng was the one who brought it, he turned over there and commented casually, "Thanks." He waved Chenqing, "I'll… be keeping this?"

Jiang Cheng glanced at him, "It was yours in the first place."

After a moment of hesitation, his lips moved slightly, as though he wanted to say something else. However, Wei WuXian had already turned to Lan WangJi. Seeing this, Jiang Cheng remained silent.

Of the people here, some were cleaning up the scene, some were solidifying the seal on the coffin, some were thinking about how to move it safely, and some were feeling angry. Lan QiRen raged, "XiChen, what in the world is wrong with you?!"

As his hand pressed the corner of his forehead, Lan XiChen's face was full of an unspeakable grief. He seemed tired, "… Uncle, I am begging you. Ask no further. Really. Right now, I really wish to say nothing."

Lan QiRen had never seen Lan XiChen, a child he single-handedly brought up, look so agitated and discomposed. He looked at him, then looked at Lan WangJi, surrounded by disciples alongside Wei WuXian, and felt more irritated the more he looked. He felt that of these two of his proudest disciples who had been absolutely perfect, neither listened to him anymore and both gave him much worry.

The coffin that sealed away Nie MingJue and Jin GuangYao was not only abnormally heavy, but also required careful treatment. Thus, a few sect leaders were the ones who volunteered to handle it. As one sect leader saw the features of the Guanyin statue, he first paused in surprise, then pointed at it for others to see as though he found something new and interesting, "Look at its face! Doesn't it look like Jin GuangYao?"

Everyone mused after they looked, "It's his face indeed! Why would Jin GuangYao make such a thing?"

Sect Leader Yao, "To declare himself a god with wild arrogance, of course."

"Arrogant indeed, then, hahaha."

Wei WuXian thought to himself, No, not necessarily.

Jin GuangYao's mother was seen as the lowest prostitutes, so he decided to carve a Guanyin statue with his mother's appearance, receiving the worship of tens of thousands.

But there was no use in saying all that. Nobody knew with more clarity than Wei WuXian that nobody would care and nobody would believe him. Anything related to Jin GuangYao would be given the most malicious conjectures and passed through the mouths of the crowd. Soon, this coffin would be sealed within a larger, firmer coffin. It'd be secured with seventy-two mahogany nails and buried deep underground, sealed under some mountain with stone tablets of warning.

And the things sealed inside would never see light again, under heavy barriers and endless scorn.

Nie HuaiSang leaned against the wall beside the door, watching a few sect leaders carry the coffin across the Guanyin Temple's threshold. He looked down and dusted the dirty mud at the lower hem of his clothes. As if he saw something, he paused. Wei WuXian looked over as well. What had fallen to the ground was Jin GuangYao's cap.

Nie HuaiSang bent down and picked it up. Only afterwards did he begin to saunter outside.

Fairy was waiting anxiously outside for his master, barking a couple of times. Hearing the barks, Jin Ling suddenly remembered that when Fairy was still a clumsy little puppy that couldn't even reach his knees, Jin GuangYao was the one who brought it over.

Back then, he was only a few years old. He fought with the other children of Koi Tower, and didn't feel satisfied even after he won, smashing everything in his room as he bawled his eyes out. None of the maids and servants dared approach him, afraid to be hit.

Grinning, the younger uncle of his snuck inside to ask, "A-Ling, what's wrong?" He immediately smashed half a dozen vases beside Jin GuangYao's feet. Jin GuangYao, "Uh-oh, how fierce. I'm so scared." He shook his head as he left, pretending to be scared.

The second day, Jin Ling refused to go outside or eat anything as he sulked. Jin GuangYao walked around right outside his room. With his back against the door, Jin Ling shouted to be left alone, and suddenly the bark of a puppy came from outside the door.

He opened the door. Half-squatting, Jin GuangYao had in his arms a glistening-black puppy with round, wide eyes. He looked up and smiled, "I found this little thing but I don't know what to call it. A-Ling, do you want to give it a name?"

The smile was so kind, so genuine that Jin Ling couldn't believe Jin GuangYao faked it. All of a sudden, tears fell from his eyes again.

Jin Ling had always thought crying was a sign of weakness, treating such an act with contempt. Yet, apart from a flood of tears, there was no other way to release the pain and anger in his heart.

He didn't know why, but he felt like he couldn't hate or blame anyone. Wei WuXian, Jin GuangYao, Wen Ning—every one of them should be responsible to some extent for the deaths of his parents, every one of them gave him a reason to loathe them with all he had. But it also seemed like every one of them gave him a reason that made him unable to do so. But if he didn't hate him, whom could he hate? Did he deserve to lose both his parents when he was young? Was he not only able to seek revenge, but also unable to hate someone purely and entirely?

He somehow didn't want to let go. He felt wronged. He'd rather die together with them and end everything.

Watching him cry soundlessly as he stared at the coffin, Sect Leader Yao asked, "Young Master Jin, why are you crying? For Jin GuangYao?"

Seeing that Jin Ling said nothing, Sect Leader Yao spoke in a tone with which seniors often scolded juniors of their sect, "What are you crying for? Hold back your tears. Someone like your uncle doesn't deserve anyone's tears. Young Master, I mean no offense, but you can't be so weak! This is the kindness of the fairer sex. You should know what's right and what's wrong, and straighten up your…"

If this were at the time the leader of LanlingJin Sect was still the Chief Cultivator who led the entire world of cultivation, the sect leaders of other sects would never have had the guts to patronize the Jin Sect's disciples no matter what. Right now, Jin GuangYao had died already. Nobody was able to uphold the LanlingJin Sect. Its name had also been pretty much ruined, and likely it wouldn't be able to rise again in the future, thus some people dared.

Jin Ling had thousands of thoughts and feelings whirling around in his heart in the beginning. Hearing Sect Leader Yao's comments, a fire surged into his heart. He roared, "So what if I want to cry?! Who are you? What are you? Won't leave me alone even for crying?!"

Sect Leader Yao didn't expect to be shouted at either. He was a sect leader that had some fame as well. At once, his face darkened. Some others comforted him in low voices, "Let it go. Don't bother with children."

He finally retracted the embarrassed anger, snorting coldly, "Of course. Hah, why bother with young brats who know nothing about what's right and what's wrong?"

Lan QiRen watched as the coffin was hauled onto the cart. He turned around and was surprised, "Where is WangJi?"

He'd just been planning to abduct Lan WangJi back to the Cloud Recesses and talk to him for a hundred and twenty days, and perhaps ground him again if it still didn't work. Who knew he disappeared in the blink of an eye. He walked around a bit, raising his voice, "Where is WangJi?!"

Lan JingYi, "Just now I said we brought Lil' Apple and kept it right outside the temple. And HanGuang-Jun, along with… along with… went to greet Lil' Apple."

Lan QiRen, "And then?"

It was needless to say what happened afterwards. Not a sliver of Wei WuXian's, Lan WangJi's, and Wen Ning's shadows remained outside the Guanyin temple.

Lan QiRen watched Lan XiChen who followed behind him sluggishly, still absent-minded, and sighed forcefully before he left with a flip of his sleeves.

Lan JingYi looked around, yelling in surprise, "SiZhui? What happened? When did SiZhui disappear too?"

When Jin Ling heard that Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi were gone, he rushed outside, almost tripping on the threshold of the Guanyin Temple. But no matter how anxious, he was no longer able to find their figures. Fairy giddly ran circles around him, wagging his tongue.

Jiang Cheng stood below a tall, straight tree within the Guanyin Temple. He glanced at him and spoke coldly, "Wipe your face."

Jin Ling rubbed his eyes roughly, wiping his face before running back, "Where are they?"

Jiang Cheng, "Gone."

Jin Ling exclaimed, "You let them go just like that?"

Jiang Cheng mocked, "Or else? Have them stay for dinner? Say thank you and sorry after the meal?"

Jin Ling began to simmer, pointing at him, "No wonder he wanted to go. It's all because of that attitude of yours! Why are you so annoying, Uncle?!"

Hearing this, Jiang Cheng raised his hand with glaring eyes, scolding, "Is this how you talk to someone older than you? You asking to be beaten up?!"

Jin Ling shrunk back. Fairy tucked in its tail as well. Yet Jiang Cheng's slap never landed at the back of his head. Instead, it was retracted powerlessly.

He spoke, irritated, "Shut up. Jin Ling. Shut up. We're going back. Each to their own sect."

Jin Ling paused in surprise. After some hesitation, he shut up obediently. Head hanging, he walked a few steps beside Jiang Cheng before looking up again, "Uncle, you had something to say, didn't you?"

Jiang Cheng, "What? No."

Jin Ling, "Just now! I saw it. You wanted to say something to Wei WuXian, and then you didn't."

After a moment of silence, Jiang Cheng shook his head, "There's nothing to say."

What could he say?

That, back then, I wasn't caught by the Wen Sect because I wanted to go back to Lotus Pier to retrieve my parents' corpses. That, at the town we passed on our way, when you were buying food, a group of Wen Sect cultivators caught up. That, I discovered them early and left where I sat, hiding at the corner of the street and didn't get caught, but they were patrolling the streets and would soon run into you outside.

That this was why I ran out and distracted them.

But just like how the past Wei WuXian couldn't tell him the truth of giving him his golden core, the current Jiang Cheng wasn't able to say anything either.

Next chapter