In which Wenren Heng is unhappy, the Demonic Sect Elders are unhappy, and only Ye You knows what’s going on.
Academy Master Ge didn’t neglect the words that Ye You had carelessly said, and the first thing he did when he rushed over to the front courtyard was to confirm if it truly had been the black piece’s move. The white piece had been forced into a corner again and again, and for the sake of obtaining a moment to breathe, he could have, more likely than not, sent over a random person pretending it was from the black piece in order to mislead them.
But right after he asked, he found that he had overthought it.
A letter was also delivered along with the flute player, and the handwriting on the letter was exactly the same as the one brought by the beggar to Bodhi Prison; they definitely came from the same person. As the Academy Master of Dingtian Academy, he could at least guarantee this much. But this letter was not written in the same style as the words on the secret book or the map, and after an interval of eight to nine years, they certainly wouldn’t be easy to compare.
Manor Lord Wei asked, “You’re sure?”
Academy Master Ge returned the letter to Abbot Ciyuan and said, “Completely sure.”
And because he was sure, he was even more capable of recognizing how clever Sir Xiao was; it was practically as if he could see through all schemes without fail.
He couldn’t help but look at Sir Xiao, thinking about how good it’d be if this person would just enter their Academy. It was only that Wenren Heng would definitely not let this person go. Although Wenren Heng hadn’t said anything just now, he was still able to sense it.
He felt a bout of regret and snuck a glance at Wenren Heng.
Wenren Heng was calmly standing there, not in the least worried that the other could drag away his Junior Brother.
This Junior Brother of his was the majestic Sect Master of the Demonic Sect, so it was impossible to join another sect. And what’s more, at that time on Yushan Stage, his Junior Brother had infuriated so many righteous faction members, so if Academy Master Ge ever got wind of his Junior Brother’s true identity, then even if beaten to death, the other would never act on this idea.
What made him feel helpless was that even with amnesia, even with no martial arts, even with a covered-up face, his Junior Brother was inadvertently still able to attract many people, leaving him not knowing what exactly to say.
Ye You was standing next to him and, in a low voice, asked, “This seems like a woman?”
Wenren Heng returned to his senses and looked at the person on the ground.
The person whom the black piece had tied up and sent over was very young and appeared quite delicate, looking to be in the early twenties and wearing a light-blue gown. Although the style of dress was masculine, but as long as one looked carefully, one could see that it was a woman.
The person on the ground wasn’t deeply unconscious, and the noisy surroundings disturbed her into frowning and opening her eyes. Upon seeing everyone’s gazes, and then looking at the situation she was in, she was immediately alarmed.
Abbot Ciyuan asked, “Are you the flute player?”
The person on the ground seemed somewhat lost as well as afraid, huddling in fear. “What flute player? Why did you kidnap me? Today, I just wanted to go out for a stroll and, for the sake of convenience, dressed like a man, but I’m actually a woman. Master, aren’t you confusing me for someone else?”
Abbot Ciyuan was still holding onto that letter, and together with the others in the vicinity, they looked at the last line — this is a woman, and her heart is vicious, so when awoken, she will pretend to be pathetic and innocent, take heed.
They collectively fell silent.
On the ground, that person’s voice was filled with sobs. “Quickly let me go. I need to go home, or else my parents will worry.”
Wordlessly, Abbot Ciyuan placed the letter in front of her eyes.
The person on the ground skimmed through the letter, and when she reached the end, her expression turned rigid before she hurriedly adjusted it back. But unfortunately for her, everyone there was experienced in the ways of Jianghu, gazes unforgiving, and so naturally wouldn’t have missed her slight change in expression.
Abbot Ciyuan said an, “Amitabha,” and indicated for his disciples to have this person stay behind, and then looked at the three people who had brought her here.
These three people hadn’t anticipated that Shaolin would be so full of Jianghu practitioners, and they had long been on edge, anxious and frightened, so even without being asked, they relayed the entire matter, from beginning to end. They were the same as the beggar from last time; they had received someone’s money to complete this task. The person who gave them money was average-looking, not the least bit strange, and there was nothing of note that they could recall about this person.
Abbot Ciyuan could not get any other answers, so the only thing he could do was let these people go before going to interrogate the flute player.
Ye You turned around to follow, only to see that his Senior Brother seemed to be lost in thought, causing him to call out, “Senior Brother?”
Wenren Heng made a sound in acknowledgement and looked over at him.
This somewhat probing gaze made Ye You’s heart rise slightly.
He quickly flipped through his memories and thought that he had been quite obedient recently. And since he’s lost his martial arts, it certainly wasn’t out of the ordinary to have some sharpness about him, so there shouldn’t have been any cause for suspicion, right?
He asked, “What?”
Wenren Heng said, “I’m wondering who it was that captured this person.”
No matter how clever his Junior Brother was, not everything could be predicted, and there’d always be times when things would have to be decided on the fly. This time’s incident could probably be counted among that number. So if his Junior Brother was really the black piece, then the other party being able to capture this person so quickly must mean that his Junior Brother had an accomplice.
Ye You said, “Hasn’t it already been confirmed that it was done by the black piece?”
Wenren Heng stowed away his train of thought and said a, “Yes,” in agreement.
This chess move was played quite well, he thought.
After suddenly reappearing after being missing for ten years, his Junior Brother first saw through the secret book’s mysteries, then captured Blood-sucking Ghost, and then spoke of the chess match between the black piece and the white piece. If he was the white piece, then he’d definitely suspect that his Junior Brother was the black piece, and he’d definitely send people to keep an eye on them in secret.
And, in these past few days, his Junior Brother had basically no contact with anyone else, but today the black piece suddenly made another move. Even if it wouldn’t completely dispel the white piece’s misgivings over his Junior Brother, it could still divert some attention.
The question was, who was the person that was hiding in secret?
This person had to have been following them this whole time so as to know of any progress in these events and had to be at least clever, with a team of people in hand to send out. Could it really be Wuwang Temple’s Xie Junming?
But Xie Junming didn’t seem like the type of person to disappear like this. Could it be for the sake of his Junior Brother?
Wenren Heng became unhappy.
At this time, the Demonic Sect Elders were also similarly unhappy.
After the four Elders and Elder Hei exchanged information, they all felt that the Sect Master’s chessboard was a bit too big and so hastily hurried back to the crowd of people in worry. Every day, they bantered with third-rate adventurers, while also taking the opportunity to try and guess what the Sect Master wanted to do, taking care to keep their gazes from wandering to the Sect Master.
Thus, when they heard that someone had captured the flute player, those four Elders all collectively turned to look at Elder Hei without a word, once again wanting to pull up their sleeves and give him another beating.
Elder Hei’s back turned cold, and he immediately said, “Don’t look at me. I don’t know anything.”
Elder Baili said, “I heard that this letter and the last letter were both written by the same person.”
“It really isn’t me,” Elder Hei said miserably, “The letter last time was given to me by the Sect Master before he left. How could I know who wrote it!”
Elder Mei narrowed her eyes. “Then other than you, there must be someone else running errands for the Sect Master.”
Elder Hei fiercely nodded his head. “I think so too.”
As they spoke, they used internal energy to suppress their voices, so bystanders couldn’t hear them. When seeing them crouched down in a circle like this, a bystander lifted his head to look at them curiously and, upon finding that they were surrounding a caterpillar, unconsciously moved the corners of his mouth before then walking away without a word. At this time, a young adventurer passed by and, appearing to also have an interest in such things, went over to crouch down with them.
As someone else nearby walked around them, he clearly saw one of the group using a stick to poke at the caterpillar. Again, wordlessly, this bystander had an expression on his face that said, “Do you guys have some fucking problems,” before putting some distance between them in distaste.
Upon seeing Elder Miao poke at the caterpillar with a grave expression, the newly arrived adventurer also couldn’t control the corners of his mouth from moving before he finally pulled out a letter and said, “A letter from Elder Bai.”
Elder Hei opened and read it, turning silent for a moment, before handing it over to them.
The remaining four Elders quickly read through it and also turned silent.
These matters of Jianghu happening one after another had caused too big a commotion, and no matter how slow, even Elder Bai could sense that something wasn’t right.
And since Elder Mei and the others had spread information every which way and had subordinates disseminate various rumors, when the Hall Masters learned of such things, they became concerned before suddenly realizing that they hadn’t seen the Sect Master for a long time. Recently, they had arrived together on Xiaoqing Mountain, wanting to get clarification from Elder Bai, since in case the Sect Master encountered a mishap after creating a mess in Jianghu, they wouldn’t have been clear on what exactly happened.
At first, Elder Bai originally simply wanted to wait for more news, but unfortunately at that time, Wuwang Temple’s Temple Master Xie Junming also came to Xiaoqing Mountain, absolutely insistent on meeting their Sect Master. Since the Sect Master wasn’t there, Temple Master Xie thought he might as well just stay at Xiaoqing Mountain, devising new styles of torments everyday.
Elder Bai definitely couldn’t withstand such things, and he was also worried about the Sect Master, so he had come down the mountain together with Temple Master Xie, prepared to go look in the noisiest place, and would arrive in a few days.
Those Elders mutually looked at each other, feeling as if their heads were too big.
Xiao-Bai’s martial arts were outstanding, so there was no problem there, but Xie Junming had always been an unbridled master and definitely would be unable to conceal his identity; no one knew what he’d be like when he arrives!
The Demonic Sect member who delivered the letter saw that they weren’t speaking and gave a dry cough before saying, “Other than this letter, Elder Bai also wrote one for the Hall Master.”
The Hall Master he was referring to was the Hall Master of Elder Hei’s Shadow Hall.
Elder Hei asked in astonishment, “What did he write?”
The subordinate said, “Elder Bai said that there are three Hall Masters from whom we don’t currently have news. Temple Master Xie suspects that they are participating in the Sect Master’s matters. When Elder Bai heard that you were here, he thought that the Hall Master should also be here, so he sent a letter over.”
Shadow Hall’s Hall Master certainly did participate in the Bodhi Prison incident along with Elder Hei. Then the remaining two… Those Elders thought of the matter with the captured person today, and they were filled with energy, light shining from their eyes. “What about those two people?”
The subordinate said, “I don’t know. I haven’t been able to contact them.”
Those Elders were immediately doused with a pot of cold water.
Elder Miao exerted more force, and the caterpillar was poked through, twisting this way and that.
“…” That subordinate looked at their gazes, thinking deep down that these people had been heavily agitated by the Sect Master. He didn’t dare to stay any further and hastily asked for permission to leave.
At this time, Abbot Ciyuan and the others had already asked their questions.
But no matter what they asked, the flute player begged ignorance and continued to insist that they got the wrong person. Since she was a young woman, they also didn’t feel right torturing her, so the situation remained at an impasse.
“It really isn’t me.” The flute player sobbed and sniffled, looking more pitiful the more she cried. “I do have martial arts; I learned some basic martial arts suitable for all situations from a Jianghu adventurer. I’ve been using it only to protect myself. I also don’t know what the adventurer’s name was.”
Abbot Ciyuan said, “Even if benefactor doesn’t know anything else, one should at least know one’s own name and where one lives. This old monk will investigate that name and identity. If the benefactor truly has not committed any wrongs, then we’ll naturally let you go.”
The flute player said, choked with sobs, “All right. This young one is called Li Hua, and my home is at the foot of the mountain…”
Before she could finish speaking, the Master standing next to Abbot Ciyuan startled and said, “You’re Xiao-Hua?”
Li Hua immediately closed her mouth and looked at him, bewildered.
Seeing the others also turn to look at him, that Master suppressed the surprise in his heart and explained in a hoarse voice, “If I’m remembering correctly, Deru has said before that there was a young servant girl called Xiao-Hua who used to like going to hear them read scripture. Perhaps her Buddhist karma was deep, and I even suggested that he might as well gift her a string of prayer beads. This was already a matter from long ago…”
Li Hua’s expression changed slightly, as if she hadn’t thought that Deru would’ve talked about her with someone else and as if she hadn’t anticipated that someone would still remember something from so many years ago.
Abbot Ciyuan knew that although his young disciple looked fiendish and demonic, in actuality he had a good heart, but unfortunately with his slow-witted disposition, there were few people willing to talk to him. So when there was suddenly a small servant girl who didn’t avoid him, he naturally would be happy, and when he was happy, he couldn’t help but talk about it to someone else. His disciple definitely hadn’t thought that this servant girl, who had been willing to converse with him, was also a murderer.
Everyone was speechless.
Before, when they saw that this person looked quite young, they had thought that maybe she was responsible only for playing the flute. Who could’ve known that she had been participating in these matters since long ago. More than ten years ago, she couldn’t have been even ten-years-old yet, right? And her heart was already this vicious?
Li Hua once again changed her expression back quickly and, with sobs, said she wasn’t clear on this matter, that it was probably just a matter of similar names, but everyone no longer believed her.
Abbot Ciyuan’s entire heart was aggrieved, and he tried asking two more sentences. Seeing her still pretending at ignorance, and that the matter was about to be dragged out until mealtime, he could only instruct his disciples to take her away and watch after her carefully.
At Shaolin Temple, they inevitably had to eat a Buddhist meal.
Those willing to eat stayed behind, while those unwilling went down the mountain to the small county town to look for food, returning only after they had eaten. Ye You counted as one of those who weren’t picky and, under the eyes of his Senior Brother, unhurriedly finished his meal. Seeing that his Senior Brother wanted to return to take care of some Shuangji Sect business, he slipped away from the small courtyard by himself and went nearby to walk around.
The scarred man brought a few people to follow behind. Upon seeing the other pausing when passing by a pavilion on the way, he couldn’t help but also glance that way, finding that Pavilion Master Ding was also sitting there and drinking tea alone.
Ye You walked over and politely said a greeting.
Pavilion Master Ding nodded and indicated for the other to sit.
Following his suggestion, Ye You sat across from him and asked, “Pavilion Master Ding was thinking of matters just now?”
Pavilion Master Ding was very direct and indifferently said, “No, I was here waiting for you.”
 噎死 lit. choked to death
 堂主 I translated this literally since I wasn’t sure what else to refer to them. But if you’ve read Scum Villain, these are the equivalent of the “Peak Masters” mentioned there, so they’re subordinates of the Sect Master but still hold high-ranking positions.
 Forgot to mention this last chapter, but 施主 is just a polite way that monks often refer to secular folks.
 佛緣 I ended up translating this literally since I wasn’t sure how to explain it. But it’s basically a term to refer to someone who has a destined connection with Buddhism/Buddha, probably due to a past life or something.
 齋飯 Refers specifically to the food that Buddhists get as alms. Not just vegetarian, but also no strong-smelling (garlic) vegetables, and no drinking, etc.
Also, I haven’t mentioned it up until now (since I, uh, forgot), but fun fact: every time someone says “the black piece is making a move,” or “this one is the white piece’s move,” they’re specifically using the phrase 一步棋 which very explicitly refers to the next move in chess. I didn’t want to just write “chess move” all the time because 1) it can get repetitive and 2) they’re not actually playing chess, they’re playing Go, but since the Chinese categorizes them as the same type of game… I’ll ruminate on this more and consider adding the phrase back in when I go back for editing/TLC at the end.
Man, Wenren Heng really has something against Xie Junming, huh? Since it’s clear that Xie Junming isn’t the culprit here (lmao), I’ll just say that not all the major actors have been introduced yet and leave it at that.