In which one can never escape the skeletons in one’s closet (or the ground).
By asking separately, the group quickly garnered results.
Those Wudang disciples were far from as calm and collected as Priest Hezhen. Just by kneeling on their own, they were already caught off guard. After being scared by the Sect Leader’s imposing presence and stared at by these unparalleled, exalted greats of the martial arts circle and then pierced by the gentle yet sharp questions asked by Wenren Heng, they were quickly and utterly defeated, spilling the beans about everything they knew had happened.
The first thing was that the time wasn’t correct.
Single-eyed Li escaped only after the news had spread of something happening at Bodhi Prison. At that time, Shaolin and Wudang had already been hurrying over. Shaolin was also situated too close to this place, so in order to cover up what had happened to “Colorless Blood” and “Lone Wolf”, they didn’t dare to ring the bell.
The second thing was that the number of people wasn’t correct.
Over the years, some other people have actually died, but they weren’t clear on the reason why. They were all disciples of Priest Hezhen, and their master had said that it wouldn’t be easy to explain why so many criminals have died under their watch, and that others would suspect that they personally acted against these criminals, so they should first conceal it. Thus, none of them dared to speak about it.
And of those people who died, if their sentence was almost up, the pretense would be that they’d already been released, and if they were getting on in years, they would slowly be allowed to “die”. So if this incident had never happened, then after a few more years, in Shaolin and Wudang’s records, “Colorless Blood” and “Lone Wolf” would have been written off as having died from either illness or age.
Regarding the matter of testing drugs, they were truly baffled.
Because every time they came, they practically always stood guard outside, and even the one who brought the meals was a designated person. They all didn’t know what was happening inside the prison, though they did have a vague sense that there was something wrong, and occasionally they would hear something like a commotion, and so on.
Finally, they truly did not have anything to do with the matter of Single-eyed Li’s escape, and they simply felt that it had something to do with Priest Hezhen, though they had no evidence. At that time, they were truly caught off guard by Single-eyed Li and were knocked unconscious.
After hearing all this, Sect Leader Xuanyang’s entire face was blue, and the steam coming from his nose seemed as if it was liable to light the air on fire. He pressed back his anger with great difficulty and forced the words out from between his teeth, “Wudang will definitely provide an explanation to Jianghu about this matter!”
He let out a breath and said, furious, “Bring over Hezhen!”
Priest Hezhen walked in, pale-faced, and before he even had a chance to parse their body language, Sect Leader Xuanyang simply threw all of the disciples’ written confessions at him directly. He hastily caught it and skimmed through the words, and by the time he finished, even more color had drained from his face.
In a low voice, Sect Leader Xuanyang asked, “What words do you still have left to say?”
With a thud, Elder Hezhen fell to his knees.
Sect Leader Xuanyang asked, “Did you purposely free Single-eyed Li and the others?”
“No.” Seeing the Sect Leader look as if he was about to unsheathe his sword, Priest Hezhen hurriedly said, “It was Single-eyed Li who heard that things had been leaked, so he didn’t want to stay in Bodhi Prison any longer. Since he took the drug, his internal energy grew exponentially, so fearing that he’d be blamed, he fled.”
The moment these words were said, everyone’s spirits were rattled.
Sect Leader Xuanyang said, “What do you mean by ‘take the drug’?”
Priest Hezhen swallowed a mouthful of saliva and said, with difficulty, “A miracle doctor said that he could make a drug to greatly increase someone’s internal energy, but it was still unstable, and right now, using it would cause a person to lose their rationality, so he needed… to find more people to test it. If he could successfully make it, then he’d give me a bottle…”
Sect Leader Xuanyang’s expression turned abruptly cold.
Priest Hezhen lowered his head, not daring to speak any further.
Sect Leader Xuanyang said, “Where is he?”
Priest Hezhen said, “Since the rumors about an incident at Bodhi Prison got out, he hasn’t come again.”
“Is it that he hasn’t come, or that he originally always lived within the prison itself?” Wenren Heng said, “It’s not convenient to come and go all the time, so if I was him, I’d find a place to stay.”
Priest Hezhen grit his teeth, but before he had the time to refute, he heard a commotion coming from outside. The Wudang disciples guarding the door quickly rushed in and told them that a beggar had come bearing a letter. The beggar said that every dirty deed that’s ever happened at Bodhi Prison over these past few years had been written down on that letter, and to have the Shaolin Abbot and Wudang Sect Leader please accept it.
That beggar had shouted as he walked and didn’t even enter the area, simply standing before the gates. Quite a few people have already gathered outside.
In a flash, the Alliance Leader and the others were silent, all thinking the same thing.
Academy Master Ge asked, “Is this the black piece’s next move?”
“It’s very possible,” Manor Lord Wei said, “Look, didn’t he purposely pick the day that we arrived to deliver this letter?”
Academy Master Ge said, “Let’s go and see what it says this time.”
Sect Leader Xuanyang and the Shaolin Abbot stood up, prepared to go outside and look. The former turned to look at them, “Black piece?”
The Alliance Leader bitterly smiled. “We’ve been here so long yet we still haven’t found the time to explain. Let’s walk and talk.”
Priest Hezhen turned around and looked at them in bewilderment. Wenren Heng swept his eyes over before giving his subordinates a look. The scarred man understood implicitly and moved forward to explain to the priest. In this time, a Wudang disciple ran over and said that the Sect Leader and the others needed to go somewhere and that Priest Hezhen also needed to follow along. Those two then also left.
At this time, the Alliance Leader and the others were already able to confirm that this letter had indeed been sent by the black piece because the letter instructed them to go to a certain place. It was written in the style of, “After exiting, walk two hundred steps south, turn southwest and walk five hundred steps,” and so on, just like the map instructions.
Priest Hezhen had originally thought that if he absolutely refused to admit his deeds, then the Sect Leader and the others would never know the truth, but he had never anticipated the existence of a black piece and a white piece.
After hearing from the scarred man about the entire sequence of events, he was immediately fearful and alarmed, and it was only then that he understood why there was suddenly a ruckus about “Colorless Blood” and “Lone Wolf” during a period of peace and quiet. He followed, dazed, for a while. When he saw where they were going, he immediately felt his sight darken. He felt as if his blood and energy were churning and that he was no longer able to support his own injured body. Before he could even say half a word, he had fainted.
The scarred man expressionlessly looked at this scene of Wudang disciples rushing chaotically over to support this man. He thought that he had said everything that needed to be said and so returned to the Sect Master’s side.
Following the information in the letter, everyone slowly made their way into a forest. They saw that a circle had been once again drawn out for them, and the letter said that if they wanted to know the truth, then they should start digging.
The Alliance Leader and the others thought back to their previous disastrous experience, and their expressions all turned funny, fearing that they’d once again dig up more map pieces.
With aching heads, they assigned some subordinates and waited on the side, prepared to wait for a long while. But who knew that before an incense stick had even finished burning, they’d hear someone say, startled, “We dug it up!”
They were all somewhat disbelieving and were about to look over when, in the next moment, a person shouted, “Ah, it’s a dead body!”
This entire area had dead bodies, many, many dead bodies. The majority of them had already turned to bone.
And from some of them, it could be seen that a new hole had been dug right on top of the old hole, with the original bones broken by metal shovels and mixed in with the new bones. It unveiled a dense and desolate meaning.
Everyone dug from midday until nightfall, and the more they dug, the more cold their hearts became. At the end, they almost couldn’t believe their own eyes.
Was this the truth about Bodhi Prison?
In these fifteen years, what happened in Bodhi Prison?
The corpses were pulled out one-by-one and set down neatly, forming no less than five entire rows, and it was unknown whether even more remained beneath.
Everyone looked at them, expressions blank, as one, two, three… More and more people turned to look at Shaolin and Wudang.
In this moment when a sound couldn’t be heard, an elderly voice suddenly came from behind, “Wh-what is this?”
Everyone turned their heads and saw that it was Lady Tao who had arrived.
She was supporting an old woman, and it was this old woman who had asked the previous question.
Ye You couldn’t help but raise his eyebrows.
Lady Tao first discovered him amidst the crowd, and although it was hard to see his face clearly under the layers of bandages, she nevertheless noticed his question and so turned towards everyone to explain, “I heard that something happened at Bodhi Prison, so I came over to look. This grandmother also wanted to climb up this mountain, and seeing her having difficulty walking, I supported her so that we could come together. All of you…”
Before she even finished speaking, she narrowed her eyes and saw the corpses beyond the crowd. Her expression changed, and her first reaction was to try and block the old woman’s line of sight, but in the end, she was too late. The old woman evidently also saw it and suddenly staggered forward a step, uncaring of any obstructions, to stand next to the hole.
The old woman’s cloudy eyes opened wide, and as if she couldn’t stand upright, she had to reach out a wrinkled hand to lean against the neighboring tree. Moving her chapped lips, she spoke in a hoarse voice after a long while, “My Ah-Sheng, he… Since he was small, he was clever, but unfortunately he never used it in the right place. As a youth, he said he wanted to leave home and travel around Jianghu, and later I heard people say that he caused trouble and was locked up. Since he feared our anger, he didn’t dare tell home. We were angry, but no matter what he did, a child is still his parents’ own flesh and blood, and that relationship is unbreakable.”
Her throat was choked with sobs. “Me and his father were afraid that he was suffering in prison, so we hurried over to see him, but every time we came, the officers told us that he was too ashamed to face us. We waited a year, then another year, and his father couldn’t wait any longer and so left first. I brought him news, but he was still unwilling to see me. A month ago, his sentence was up, so I came to pick him up, but the officer said that he had already left. I thought that he ought to see his own mother… But to this day, I still haven’t seen him come home. When I heard that something happened in this place, I wondered if he had actually never left and had decided to stay behind to do more misdeeds, so I came to persuade him…”
She stared vacantly at these people, her cloudy eyes seemed to be mixed with a flash of tearful hope. She asked softly, “Is he still here?”
— Is he still here?
Everyone was speechless.
In fifteen years, those who should’ve left have remained behind eternally. Those who shouldn’t have left were lifted up with the roll of a grass mat, buried in the soil, and mixed in with other bones, so that now there was no way to differentiate who was who.
The evening autumn wind pricked the air, and tree leaves rustled down, covering the ground.
After a countless number of breaths, a single chilling wail pierced through the heavens.
It could be that she already had a premonition over these years, or that all her countless uneasy feelings were bursting out. The old woman sat on the ground, paralyzed, and looked towards those piles of white bones, crying out in despair and mourning.
The Shaolin Abbot sat cross-legged, his palms pressed together, chanting sutras for the souls of the departed. Following that, more and more Shaolin disciples joined in, and the spiraling sounds of sanskrit quickly twisted into a single entity, fluttering away in the gloomy and cold forest.
Ye You moved slightly to lean against a tree and looked up at the darkening sky.
Wenren Heng said, “What are you thinking about?”
Ye You, “I’m wondering if they’re able to hear it.”
Wenren Heng said, “If they were still here, then they will definitely hear it. If they have already been taken away by ghost messengers, then they probably can’t hear it.”
Ye You nodded.
Shaolin’s Abbot Ciyuan finished reading the last part of the scripture and stood up, turning to look at Sect Leader Xuanyang. Both understood the other’s meaning — Shaolin and Wudang’s hundred years of righteous reputation definitely couldn’t be destroyed just because of this.
No matter who the white piece was, they would definitely investigate this matter until the end.
In the letter, other than the map, it also said that it was best to verify how many bones there were, and to check the number of escapees with the convict register; perhaps then one would discover some anomaly. The two finished arranging the matters here and then prepared to go back personally to check. Seeing everyone also paying extremely close attention, they decided that they might as well compare the numbers in front of them.
During this process, Priest Hezhen woke up. Sect Leader Xuanyang then promptly paused the proceedings to instruct the disciples to pull that person outside.
The first things Priest Hezhen saw were those white bones, and he immediately started to tremble with cold. Then he turned to look at the Sect Leader, and seeing the other looking liable to kill him, he once again returned to trembling.
Sect Leader Xuanyang said, “This letter has mentioned all the matters regarding Bodhi Prison. Everything we should know, we’ll eventually know in the end. If you still won’t say exactly what happened, then you’ll never have to worry about talking again.”
Everything that Priest Hezhen obtained by luck had thoroughly collapsed. He said, with difficulty, “…If I speak, would Sect Leader spare my life?”
A spark of severity flashed through Sect Leader Xuanyang’s eyes, and he could no longer contain it. He pulled out his sword and pressed it against the other’s throat. This person caused the deaths of so many people, yet he still had the audacity to beg them for a way out!
Priest Hezhen’s cold sweat dripped down in waves.
Since things have already reached this point, there was no use struggling any further.
Resigned, Priest Hezhen carefully relayed everything once through. His previous words weren’t entirely false; there truly had been a miracle doctor who claimed to be able to make a drug that’d exponentially increase one’s martial skill. He had always believed that he had lost the seat of Sect Leader because his martial skill was weaker than his Senior Brother’s, so he couldn’t contain his greedy desires. Thus, he started colluding with them.
After those convicts entered the prison, they always asked whether the prisoners had close friends and family. Their excuse was that they needed to find convenient times to allow for visitations, and that it was for their records, but the truth was that they just wanted to know if there would be people looking for these prisoners afterwards.
If there was, they would arrange for a cell near the front of the prison, and they wouldn’t move the person back. If there wasn’t, they’d arrange for a cell in the back and then use the person to test drugs. Besides that, if the person’s sentence was long, they would also consider using that person to test drugs.
Those in the surroundings sunk into silence, all thinking of the old woman just now.
Her son was afraid of his parents’ anger, so at the time, he probably said that he would have no visitors, and it was precisely this one sentence that cost him his life.
Sect Leader Xuanyang suppressed his desire to stab this scoundrel to death with his sword and asked, “What did they want to do? What about that ruthless doctor?”
“The miracle doctor came with a rich lord. That lord said he wanted to perform an experiment in Jianghu. Using the miracle doctor’s drugs, he was going to create a group of obedient, drugged people…” As Priest Hezhen said this, he finally collapsed. That lord had promised him that, after this matter was completed, a disturbance would be created in Jianghu. When his Senior Brother, the Sect Leader, went to settle down the disorder, the lord would seize the opportunity to kill the other party, so from then on, Wudang would be his.
He wallowed in regret. “I also only learned today that they originally had a white piece behind them.”
From the start, he had been tricked by them, and he had been only an ignorant chess piece.
The Alliance Leader frowned. “You don’t know who the white piece is?”
Priest Hezhen shook his head.
Sect Leader Xuanyang stabbed his sword forward once.
Priest Hezhen’s face turned white, and he shouted, “Sect Leader, I’m telling the truth! I truly don’t know!”
“It’s most likely true. The white piece was able to hide for so many years, so he’s clearly extremely cautious. I’m afraid that he won’t easily reveal his identity to others.” Ye You said, “The important thing is that miracle doctor. Did he use to live in the prison? I saw that the letter said to compare the number of people. I think that other than the miracle doctor, it’s possible that other people also lived here, and they all ran away together that night.”
Priest Hezhen closed his eyes. “That’s right, those that escaped that night were mostly their people.”
Ye You said, “The rumors about ‘Colorless Blood’ and ‘Lone Wolf’ injuring people were first spread near here, and Shaolin came the moment they heard. At that time, all of you still haven’t learned about the confrontation between the black piece and the white piece, and you also weren’t clear that everything was known by the black piece. So you wanted to cope with it for a while and wait for everything to blow over, right?”
Priest Hezhen didn’t open his mouth, tacitly agreeing.
Ye You continued with, “I’m guessing that the black piece’s plan was to block off their escape route, but Shaolin was slow by a step and so they were luckily able to run. But in this short period of time, the drug dispensary couldn’t have disappeared into thin air, so where is it?”
Priest Hezhen had originally believed that he had already turned entirely numb, but upon hearing this, he couldn’t help but tremble once again.
Ye You said, “Is there a hidden chamber inside?”
Priest Hezhen said, “Yes…”
Everyone’s expressions changed. At the time, Bodhi Prison was built through the funds of many large sects, and the items and people were also all found together. When exactly did the white piece start making his move?
Sect Leader Xuanyang asked in a heavy voice, “Who was it that found the people that built Bodhi Prison? And who was it that provided the blueprints?”
Qingcheng Sect’s Sect Master Han’s eyes flew fiercely open.
He stood there stiffly for a moment, watching them discuss for a time before their lines of sight began falling on him, one by one.
 一炷香還沒過 If you’ve read other historical, wuxia, or xianxia before, you’ve probably seen a similar phrase used in regard to time. From my experience, incense sticks typically take something like… 30min to 1hr to burn completely, depending on conditions and the type of stick used. (In case you don’t know, these sticks have nonflammable red bits at the very end, so the fire naturally goes out once it reaches it. That’s what folks mean by “completely burned out incense stick”.)
 Grass mats are where they put/cover up dead bodies (by rolling them up), so these are essentially historic body bags.
I downloaded the JJWXC android app because I heard that it was cheaper to purchase from there and that the UI for reading was better, but now I can’t figure out how to change anything to traditional, so I can’t read like more than half of the words. QQ I guess I’ll just stick to the main website… (JJWXC’s built-in converter tends to, uh, over-convert anyway. Every 只 becomes 隻 and every 面 becomes 麵. It legit drives me mad since it feels like I’m constantly reading about animals and noodles, even when I know I’m not lmao.)