In which the exchange happens.
The moment the words ‘trade people for people’ came out, Abbot Ciyuan understood the other’s intentions.
It wasn’t just him that understood. The remaining elders also instantly guessed the white piece’s purpose.
Having been a part of Jianghu for this many years, the white piece had a certain degree of certainty and would definitely not make the foolish mistake of bringing some minor characters to trade for the major players. The people the white piece wanted should be the ones whom they were still able to bear losing, but that’d still make them feel that it was somewhat a pity to lose.
For instance, of those deeply involved in this matter: Li Hua, Mr. Xiao, and even Miracle Doctor Ji.
The first two were still not an issue, but if Miracle Doctor Ji really was included, when the time came, the only thing they could do was ask Miracle Doctor Ji himself if he was willing.
Abbot Ciyuan asked, “Who does Benefactor want?”
Ghost Gentleman said, “First, I want Deru.”
Abbot Ciyuan’s expression stiffened.
The crowd loudly boiled over. “You want Master Deru? Are you dreaming!”
“And even first? How many people do all of you want?”
“Don’t get carried away with your delusions, and don’t think that you can just grab some random people to exchange for others. I’m telling you, we…”
Before these words had finished being said, Ghost Gentleman raised a hand behind his back, and the concealed weapon in his sleeve whistled right into an adventurer’s shoulder in an instant, embedded only a few centimeters away from the neck. The adventurer let out a muffled groan, and the blood rapidly overflowed, dying his front lapel red.
The crowd couldn’t help but still.
“Next time he won’t be so lucky.” Ghost Gentleman looked at the crowd. “I don’t want to waste time squabbling. I’ll count to three. If you don’t hand the person over, I’ll kill someone. If you still won’t do it, I’ll kill someone else. Once I kill all these people here, then I really won’t be so polite. Do all of you want to test the drugged men’s strength?”
No one answered, and everyone’s gazes were entirely on those elders in the front row.
But Ghost Gentleman didn’t even give them any leeway to consider. When he finished speaking, he really did go straight into counting, “One, two, three!”
Upon seeing his arm shake and a fine dagger sliding into his palm, Abbot Ciyuan hastily moved to say a word to stop him. Ghost Gentleman carried that dagger and walked towards the hostages, not even looking at the Abbot. Abbot Ciyuan closed his eyes. “Stop, Benefactor, this monk… will hand that person over.”
Ghost Gentleman said, “Give that person to me right now.”
Abbot Ciyuan then motioned for his disciple to bring over Deru. The disciple opened his mouth and wanted to advise his Abbot otherwise, but upon seeing the other looking firm and resolute in the face of this decision, he could only leave, deeply worried and sick at heart.
Academy Master Ge frowned and asked, “You’re really handing him over?”
Abbot Ciyuan did not reply. He had his eyes lowered, counting his prayer beads.
Those features were dyed by the jumping torchlight and the silvery moonlight, looking like they were partially frozen, truly appearing as if he was just about to become a true honored Buddha, without worries or desires.
The remaining elders also didn’t speak.
Some of them had some disciples within that group who were currently bound up and captured. Although they knew that they had no basis for requesting another person to exchange his life for these people, they still hoped that their own disciples could be saved. Right now, having heard the Abbot’s willingness to do the exchange, they had sensibly decided to maintain the silence.
The others were bystanders who saw more clearly than those involved, and bad premonitions all flashed through their hearts.
If this was during ordinary times, they wouldn’t even blink at this threat because it’d be just like if a destitute thief ran to the gates of your house and shouted, “If you don’t give me money, I’ll burn down your neighbor’s house.” The kind of nonsense trouble that’d leave people not knowing whether to laugh or cry.
If, at this moment, there was no one else in the surroundings, and they were able to take care of this thing alone, then they’d probably pull out their swords and directly rush over. If they were able to save the people, then good. If they weren’t, then at least they’d be able to get rid of a great evil for the martial arts circle. They’d at least still be in a stronger position than exchanging their own people’s lives for another’s. And those even more ferocious could even watch the other party cleanly slaughter all the hostages so as to be able to curse the other’s viciousness and cruelty, call the other a lawbreaker and evildoer, before then getting rid of this evil for the martial arts circle, all without causing any damage to themselves.
But the most wicked thing about this was that this wickedness happened right in front of the gates of Shaolin Temple, and the one whom they wanted first was Master Deru.
As everyone knew, Shaolin had always adhered to the rules of mercy and compassion, not to mention there was even the story of ‘cutting one’s flesh to feed the hawk‘, thus they were duty-bound to save the people.
If Ghost Gentleman had requested someone else from the Abbot, the Abbot simply had to say that he couldn’t make the decision. But, the other party had wanted Master Deru from the very first. Even if the Abbot didn’t want to in his heart, he still had to agree, since he couldn’t simply wait for Ghost Gentleman to sneer and say that Shaolin sure was good at feigning righteousness and pride, smashing Shaolin’s beautiful hundred-year reputation into pieces on the ground, all because he refused to do the exchange.
And right now was the so-called ‘it’s always the hardest at the beginning’.
With Master Deru acting as an example, when Ghost Gentleman named others later, if the party who was named acted indifferent under these countless staring eyes, then he’d definitely lose much standing. Especially since the righteous faction had always pursued virtue and justice, with this many people present, if the party who was named really bit his lips, doubled down, and refused to hand the person over, someone in the crowd might be provoked into resentfully shouting out a few words, and it’d definitely draw many people into agreeing.
But that still wasn’t the main issue. The most urgent was that, in the worst case scenario, Ghost Gentleman might actually move that troop of drugged men to massacre all of Shaolin, and with the resentment of the masses, the loss that would be incurred would definitely be counted onto the head of that person who refused to hand over someone.
No matter who the white piece was digging this trap for, this move was truly far too vicious!
Academy Master Ge also wasn’t a fool. Upon seeing them not answering he thought about it himself and sluggishly thought the matter through. He then hastily approached Sir Xiao to ask if the other had a countermeasure.
Wei Jiangyue was silent.
Academy Master Ge asked in a low voice, “You really don’t have an idea?”
Wenren Heng said, “Academy Master Ge, Ah-Xiao felt unwell for an entire day, and he even had a small fever for a while…”
The implication was that, My Junior Brother isn’t well and so doesn’t have the heart to think of anything.
Only then did Academy Master Ge remember that he hadn’t seen this person for an entire day, leading him to advise the other to go rest. Wei Jiangyue shook his head and continued standing there. Academy Master Ge felt worried in his heart and decided that he might as well remain to stand guard.
As both sides were waiting, those elders finally turned their attentions to Ghost Gentleman himself.
Manor Lord Wei asked, in a low voice, “How did he die originally?”
“Fell off a cliff,” Pavilion Master Ding said, “It was me who brought people to chase him off.”
Sect Master Han said, “I was also present. I remember at that time we were just passing by, and we coincidentally saw him doing evil…”
As he spoke, he fell silent, and the rest of them also made the association with the matter of Blood-sucking Ghost, internally thinking maybe at the time Ghost Gentleman was purposely doing evil, for the sake of luring them to the edge of the cliff so as to feign death by jumping off.
Sect Leader Xuanyang asked, “Who searched the body?”
Pavilion Master Ding didn’t open his mouth.
Sect Master Han hesitated for a moment before saying, “…It was the Alliance Leader.”
Everyone almost simultaneously remembered that the Alliance Leader had also searched the corpse during that incident with Blood-sucking Ghost. Their minds all independently flashed to those words of conjecture made by Xie Junming, that “the Alliance Leader is the white piece,” and they all couldn’t help but give him a look. At this time, from the crowd came the echoes of, “Make way, make way.” And thinking that it was probably Master Deru being carried over, they all turned to look.
Ghost Gentleman and those in the surroundings also looked towards the source of the sound. After waiting for a moment, what everyone ended up seeing was the people of Wuwang Temple carrying over a chair to place behind their own Temple Master, even bringing along a low table and placing some melon seeds and hot tea on top.
The righteous faction, “…”
Ghost Gentleman, “…”
Xie Junming sat down in satisfaction and unhurriedly drank a mouthful of tea. He said, “Even if I look this attractive, all of you don’t need to keep staring at me like this, right?”
Instantly, the monster who had murdered countless people and the heroes of the righteous faction who had always been at odds with that monster came to an unusual, unprecedented agreement in their hearts: This rascal is really just asking for a beating!
Ghost Gentleman moved away his line of sight and again waited for a while before finally seeing the person he wanted.
Master Deru’s body was still fettered with iron chains. At dinner, he had been fed drugs by Miracle Doctor Ji and so was still unconscious right now, remaining asleep even as he was carried to the front gates by the Shaolin disciples.
Abbot Ciyuan saw his youngest disciple. The hands that were holding the prayer beads trembled faintly, and the frozen face showed a sliver of overflowing grief.
He stroked his disciple’s forehead and, in a low voice, recited a small bit of scripture.
The Shaolin disciples’ eyes reddened, but they hadn’t yet opened their mouths to sob when they heard a muffled groan from nearby. The crowd also subsequently cried out in alarm because Ghost Gentleman had again stabbed another wound into the adventurer’s body.
Ghost Gentleman pulled out the dagger and looked at the Abbot. “Stop dawdling. Hand the person over.”
Abbot Ciyuan moved his lips and asked, “When will benefactor release the people?”
Ghost Gentleman then cut the ropes that had bound the adventurer who had been stabbed twice. While still holding onto this person’s shoulder, he brought the hostage forward. “Immediately.”
Abbot Ciyuan frowned. “Benefactor is releasing only one person?”
“I want only four people,” Ghost Gentleman said, “Just in case, we’ll trade one for one for the first three. When the last one comes over, I’ll release everyone who remains. All of you won’t suffer a loss.”
Pavilion Master Ding asked, in a cold voice, “Who’s the remaining three?”
Ghost Gentleman said, “You think I’m a fool? If I say it right now, what’ll I do if he runs away out of cowardice? Hurry it up, stop talking nonsense and hand the person over!”
“Isn’t this so troublesome?” Xie Junming cracked a melon seed and interrupted with, “I think it’d be better to just trade them all in one go. You can just directly call out the names of those four people, and when they go over, you let people go on your end. It’ll save you time calling them out one by one.”
Ghost Gentleman sneered. “I’m just happier calling them out one by one. What’s it to you?”
Xie Junming said, “It’s nothing to me. I just thought that you seemed a bit foolish, so I couldn’t help but sympathize with you a bit.”
“…” Ghost Gentleman internally thought that if he didn’t have proper business to conduct, then he’d definitely give this person a beating.
He was so angry that his face sunk, and he looked towards the Abbot. He put some force into his hand, and beneath him, the adventurer’s face immediately twisted.
Abbot Ciyuan recited an, “Amitabha,” and lowering his eyes, said, “Carry the person over then.”
Those Shaolin disciples hesitated, wanting to speak, but in the end, they didn’t dare to go against the Abbot’s intentions and so, with reddened eyes, carried that person over. Ghost Gentleman was true to his words and kicked that adventurer forward, returning the hostage to them.
Ghost Gentleman said, “Second, I want Mr. Xiao.”
Mr. Xiao was the only person they captured who knew the identity of the white piece.
Those elders were silent for a time.
But even as Ghost Gentleman clearly knew that this matter needed to be discussed, he ordered some disciples from the major sects to be brought out, carrying the impression that he was simply going to kill off these people if that person wasn’t handed over. From those sects, the involved sect leaders’ faces immediately turned ashen.
Those sect leaders also couldn’t easily say anything. They could only say that the person had been captured by Wudang and Shaolin, so whether to hand the person over was all up to those two sects.
Abbot Ciyuan said, “Although the person was captured by us, it was still largely thanks to Sir Xiao…”
The group finally looked at that disciple-brother pair.
Wenren Heng was very straightforward. “Let’s hand him over. My Junior Brother was able to capture him once so should be able to capture him a second time.”
Those sect leaders let out a breath of relief in their hearts and gave Wenren Heng a look of gratitude. Upon seeing this, Abbot Ciyuan instructed his disciples to escort the person over, and they exchanged people once more.
Ghost Gentleman said, “Third, I want Miracle Doctor Ji.”
Everyone startled and once again boiled over, one after the other cursing in your dreams! And then before they had yet to see Ghost Gentleman start chopping people up, they saw Miracle Doctor Ji stepping forward, walking towards the other party without consulting anyone. This time, not only everyone in the righteous faction but also Ghost Gentleman all startled.
Miracle Doctor Ji said, “Still not letting someone go?”
Ghost Gentleman regained his senses and gave Miracle Doctor Ji a careful look. Only after being certain that it wasn’t just someone in disguise did he let someone go. He said, “Fourth, I want Sir Xiao.”
Wenren Heng slowly stepped forward a few steps, walking to the empty space in front of the gates.
Ghost Gentleman said, “I wanted a Sir Xiao, not a Wenren Heng.”
“I know. Ah-Xiao is my Junior Brother, so I’m originally supposed to be the one responsible for his matters, but this time, I don’t want to be responsible.” Weren Heng looked back at the righteous faction which had been silent ever since Miracle Doctor Ji had walked over. He said, gently, “Some of you might not know who that earlier Mr. Xiao was, so let me tell you.”
Ghost Gentleman said, “Stop trying to stall for time, or else I’ll…”
“Kill people?” Wenren Heng looked at him and calmly said, “Then kill. If you don’t let me finish speaking, then even if you kill everyone, I still won’t hand the person over.”
As he finished speaking, he didn’t even wait to see if Ghost Gentleman was going to start slaughtering people before he once again looked at the people behind them. “When has our righteous faction ever been bullied by someone to this degree? Especially when it’s a situation where even our most mighty and illustrious figures are present? Isn’t this embarrassing and shameful?”
Ever since the third person had gone over, everyone had gradually started feeling somewhat vexed, and upon hearing this, their anger immediately rose.
Following the Sect Master’s instructions, the scarred man had secretly planted a person within the crowd, and at this moment, this person raised his voice to lead the fervor, “That’s right! At worst, we’ll just risk our lives! This elder can’t stand this disgrace! Who does he think he is!”
The moment these words were said, a few young and hotheaded adventurers chimed in with agreement, “Let’s risk it!”
“That’s right, let’s risk it! Damnit!”
Ghost Gentleman wasn’t a fool. He knew that if he really killed someone at this moment, he wouldn’t be able to threaten them at all and would simply incur the opposite effect. He couldn’t help but grit his teeth in anger and look at Wenren Heng. “What do you want to say?”
Wenren Heng said, “I want to tell them about this incident in its entirety, from beginning to end, and let them know to what degree it has developed.”
Up until now, matters had always been discussed between some high-ranked and important elders, and nothing much was said to the outside. Outsiders knew only that the righteous faction had a traitor, while the rest of their information was complete guesswork. Now, upon hearing that Wenren Heng wanted to speak, they immediately raised their spirits.
Wenren Heng then explained, very simply, everything about the matters of the secret book, the map, the villa, the black and white piece, Bodhi Prison, and all that had happened since coming to Shaolin. He said, “Now all of you should know the reason why he wants these few people. The white piece is reliant on the drug. As long as they have the drug, then they’ll be able to make drugged people any time. In the past, the only drugged person we had was Master Deru. If they take away Master Deru, and then take away Miracle Doctor Ji, then the antidote can no longer be made. Although the remaining Young Miracle Doctor Fang has talent, with his Master in the other party’s hands, he wouldn’t dare to make any reckless moves. Afterwards, they also want to take away the Mr. Xiao who knows the white piece’s identity. And now it’s my Junior Brother.”
He pointed at “his Junior Brother” and said, “I won’t be the one responsible for this matter. I’ll leave it to all of you. If you say hand him over, I’ll hand him over.”
Everyone’s expressions turned grave.
They had always thought that Sir Xiao was just Wenren Heng’s Junior Brother and had never imagined this person would be so clever. If he wasn’t around to oppose the white piece, then what would happen to them after today?
Ghost Gentleman’s face turned cold.
Rejoicing in others’ misfortunes, Xie Junming said, “Feeling like a fool yet? I already told you that you should ask for them together. See how easy those first three were to call over. If you had wanted them all at once, the people also wouldn’t be feeling so vexed. But you still insisted on asking separately. Serves you right.”
Ghost Gentleman, “…”
Ghost Gentleman’s face turned even colder. “I’ll ask one last time. Are you handing him over or not? If you aren’t, I’ll no longer be so polite.”
He raised his hand, and the sound of the flute once again rang out. That crowd of drugged men then uniformly moved to a fighting stance. Although there was no light in their eyes, they were full of ferocious killing intent.
The blood in everyone’s chest had not yet cooled off, and they pulled out their swords, muttering as if they were prepared to risk their lives. But the white piece also had someone in the crowd, and he shouted, in a loud voice, for Wenren Heng to hand the person over.
Those nearby immediately cursed in anger, “Hand over shit! You can’t hand him over! Sir Xiao is such an important person!”
That person, “But did all of you forget that there’s still the black piece! If the black piece is around, the white piece won’t be able to bounce around for long!”
Another person joined in on the scolding, “Talking shit! Who knows who the black piece is! Our righteous faction obviously needs to investigate ourselves!”
The two groups quickly got into a heated argument, and it turned into complete chaos.
Wei Jiangyue knew it was time. He sucked in a deep breath and took the initiative to walk forward.
Everyone instantly stilled. Immediately following, someone shouted, “Sir Xiao, you can’t go over!”
Wei Jiangyue didn’t listen, and he passed by Wenren Heng, walking right towards Ghost Gentleman.
Manor Lord Wei was watching from the back, and his heart fell with a loud thud.
Just now, it was too dark, and this person had been quietly standing still the whole time, appearing very inconspicuous. It was only now, upon seeing the way this person walked, that he discovered that this was his son!
 A Buddhist story. Wiki has a page on it. In effect, King Sibi (one of Buddha’s incarnations) was sitting in court one day when a pigeon (or sparrow) flew in chased by a hawk (or falcon). The King offered his own flesh to the hawk in exchange for saving the pigeon’s life.
Also, melon seeds are like the equivalent to popcorn, so Xie Junming’s all set up and ready to watch a show, haha.
There sure are a lot of cliffs to fall off of in this story, huh? They probably should choose a new game plan from now on, considering…