In which Ding Xilai is even more worried about his friend. #What to do when my best friend’s father turns out to be a murderer, urgently waiting online for answers#
Ding Xilai had just woken up when he heard from his old man that they were going to leave Shaolin.
He, like Sir Xiao, had also similarly started sleeping midway through the journey back, but the difference was that the other party had actually slept for only a short while without any further issues, while because his martial skill was low, along with the fact that he had spent an entire night on edge, he immediately slept the day away now that his spirits were relieved.
In consideration of how his young master had finally managed to be bold and assertive for once, Ren Shaotian temporarily didn’t leave the carriage, waiting for everyone to go look in on Sir Xiao before then pulling the person out and sending him to his room.
After Ding Xilai awoke, he chastised, “You should’ve carried me out right then and there and told them that we had a battle of wits and valor with the white piece, and for the sake of protecting those young masters, we didn’t close our eyes for an entire night.”
Ren Shaotian said, “Young Master, we weren’t the only ones on guard last night. There were also other guards from other sects, and the entire night was peaceful and tranquil. If we speak like that, no one would believe us. The only thing we did was not sleep for a night, but Sir Xiao truly had to contend with the white piece.”
Ding Xilai silently compared himself to Sir Xiao.
One of them had their martial arts, and sat in a brothel an entire night. The other didn’t have their martial arts, and went to fight personally with the white piece in the dead of the night in order to protect Shaolin… And in the end, the two had both fallen asleep. It really did seem like he was the one who was somewhat delicate.
But yesterday, no matter what movements there were, or whether there was someone entering or leaving the room, he was always especially anxious, and he had unceasingly pondered all sorts of possibilities and countermeasures. He truly was really tired, all right?
He was silent for a moment, having half a mind to refute by saying that perhaps there truly had been the white piece’s men there among those who sent the food or who sang or who played the qin, but at this time, he saw that his old man had returned, and he immediately tensed up his face, insipidly saying, “Father.”
Pavilion Master Ding made a sound in acknowledgment and then told them to tidy up and prepare to leave Shaolin.
He paused slightly and added, “Shaotian, protect him on the way home. If there’s nothing, don’t let him carelessly go running around outside.”
“Why?” Ding Xilai was shocked deep down, but because of his training, his tone didn’t change, and he quickly reacted. “You’re afraid that I’ll also be kidnapped like Xiao-Zhong? There’s no need to be so uneasy, Dad, I won’t go to places with too few people. Right now, I’m following Sir Xiao, and every day, I’m able to learn many things. This time, it was me who protected those people, isn’t that right, Shaotian?”
Ren Shaotian nodded.
Pavilion Master Ding remained unmoved and coldly said, “Return home.”
Ding Xilai urgently continued, “See, have I been making trouble at all these past few times? If I hadn’t been here, would it have been possible to capture Mr. Xiao so easily?”
Pavilion Master Ding didn’t hesitate to pour cold water on his enthusiasm. “It would have been.”
“…Then… Then I also can’t leave! It was also largely due to me and Xiao-Zhong that Fuping’s existence was dug out.” Ding Xilai stood up with his hands clasped behind his back and said, as sensibly solemn as possible, “What’s more, with my status as the Junior Pavilion Master of Lingjian Pavilion, how could I be so craven and cowardly as to fear death? I’m already an adult, and I can’t always be living under someone else’s protection, Dad! An overly indulgent father will lead to a useless son!”
He puffed up his chest, his entire face full of gravity and earnestness, speaking as if he was capable of carrying every burden.
Pavilion Master Ding, “…”
Ren Shaotian, “…”
Ding Xilai looked at his old man’s expression and sensibly changed the subject, “Has Sir Xiao woken up yet?”
“He has.” While speaking, Pavilion Master Ding saw that he wanted to slip away and forced him to stand still, once again telling him to pack up his things, because everyone was going to leave.
Ding Xilai was dumbfounded. “Where to?”
Pavilion Master Ding said, “Shengyin City.”
Shengyin City was the place where the Alliance Leader lived.
Right as Sir Xiao voiced his suggestion in the dining hall, he received everyone’s agreement. They had been pulled onto this incomprehensible chessboard, with no idea what the future would hold. Now that they had a hard-to-come-by clue, they naturally would go out to investigate.
Ding Xilai still did not know the actual facts and made a guess, “We’re going to look for Uncle Zhong?”
Pavilion Master Ding said, “No.”
Ding Xilai asked, “Then what are we going there to do?”
Pavilion Master Ding didn’t reply, simply walking to the table and pouring himself some tea. Ding Xilai stared at him, uncomprehending, before then looking at Ren Shaotian out of habit. The latter lowered his voice to tell the other about what had occurred in the morning, with emphasis on those two letters.
Ding Xilai instantly felt as if he had wandered into a fantasy after hearing that, and he even became incapable of maintaining his always tense expression. “—-What?”
Ren Shaotian quietly looked at him.
Ding Xilai opened and closed his mouth. “Then… then is Uncle Zhong the white piece? How about Xiao-Zhong? Where exactly is he?”
Ren Shaotian quietly said, “He still hasn’t been found. Perhaps he’s already been taken away by the Alliance Leader.”
Ding Xilai stood, stupefied, in place.
He felt as if a cruel reality had just raised its arm and given him a huge slap in the face, slapping him to the point that he was completely helpless and at a loss. There was even an instant where he felt as if his spirit had left his body, and only after a while did it slowly return to its proper place. All those times that he and Xiao-Zhong had ventured forth to drink and play and all those days that they’d gone out to admire the scenery and amuse themselves bubbled up in his mind, and with a crash, they all shattered into pieces.
He had often heard others mention that people change, even as things stayed the same, and that the people of Jianghu didn’t have lives that were solely their own, and so on.
Back then, he and Xiao-Zhong had both thought that, when they had nothing to do after eating their fill, they might as well find some beauties to drink some wine and watch some dancing, without a single thing that they had to be responsible for. But, right now, he had finally realized that it truly wasn’t as simple as that.
In this world, there were some things that one truly couldn’t change back to their original shapes, no matter how hard they tried.
He suddenly quieted down, just like this, scaring Ren Shaotian more than a bit, and even Pavilion Master Ding couldn’t help but give his foolish son a look, saying, “Xilai?”
Ding Xilai foolishly looked at him. “Can I still play together with Xiao-Zhong in the future?”
Pavilion Master Ding was silent for a while before saying, “Xiao-Zhong doesn’t have a bad heart. If you’re willing, you can go find him.”
Ding Xilai didn’t speak for a time.
His and Xiao-Zhong’s circumstances were very similar. They were both pampered young masters who loved to play around, they both had a grudge against Wei Jiangyue, and they both had fathers who were of high-standing with strict morals. Most of all, they both had hearts that wanted to do better but didn’t actually have the patience or the brains to do so and could only mutually commiserate while continuing to be completely thoughtless. Throughout the years, they had always been together.
This sudden, unexpected reality had created a suffocating feeling in his chest, and he asked, “Then… then do you think that he’ll still be willing to see me?”
Pavilion Master Ding fell silent.
Ding Xilai lowered his voice to say, “If it was me, I definitely wouldn’t be willing to see him…”
Pavilion Master Ding looked at him and still didn’t speak.
Ding Xilai didn’t appear to expect his father say anything anyway and asked, “Dad, if Uncle Zhong really is the white piece and, in the end, is judged and executed by the people, what will happen to Xiao-Zhong? Will he also be chased down and killed? He definitely doesn’t know anything.”
He was very uneasy. “Do you think I’ll be able to see him again in the future?”
Pavilion Master Ding had no way of replying to this kind of question, and the only thing he could say was that, if fate willed it, then naturally they’d meet again.
Ding Xilai left, head aching, and sat down on the stairs.
Pavilion Master Ding and Ren Shaotian looked at one another in dismay before both giving a glance outside.
Ding Xilai’s tense back was completely straight, and he sat there completely motionless, with absolutely no intention of standing up again even after a long while. Pavilion Master Ding was unable to sit still. Although this foolish son of his had occasionally lived life in complete disarray, leaving people troubled to no end, his son had still lived up to now relatively smoothly, and this was the first time this person was encountering a big change in life — that of a close friend becoming a stranger.
Pavilion Master Ding went out and circled around to stand in front of his son, looking down at the other from up high.
Ding Xilai’s expression was unprecedentedly serene, and he met Pavilion Master Ding’s gaze before asking, “I don’t understand why Uncle Zhong would do this kind of thing. He’s the Alliance Leader, and the righteous faction practically all listen to his words. He has no need to worry about food or clothing, and he even has a high position. What else is he dissatisfied with? Did he never think of what Xiao-Zhong would do if he ever got exposed in the future?”
Pavilion Master Ding said, “We’ll need to find him first before we can know the answer to that.”
Ding Xilai silently crawled up before turning around and entering the room.
Pavilion Master Ding said, “What?”
Ding Xilai said, “I’m going to tidy up my things and then I’ll go with all of you to Shengyin City. If I’m able to meet Xiao-Zhong, I want to have a talk with him.”
Pavilion Master Ding frowned. He instinctively wanted the other to return home, but upon seeing his foolish son’s back, he thought that this was the first time his child had ever been so resolute and figured that his words would probably be of no use, so he could only give up on his own thoughts for now.
At this time, everyone at Shaolin had also received the news that they were leaving, and no one had any objections. Conversely, Elder Miao seemed to have been hit by a sudden bolt of lightning, and he asked in confirmation, “We’re going to Shengyin City?”
Miracle Doctor Ji said, “We don’t need to go.”
It’s precisely because there’s no need to go that I feel so unwell, Elder Miao thought in his heart.
He had finally managed, with much difficulty, to see the Sect Master without having to be so secretive, but in the end, it hadn’t even been a day and already the Sect Master was about to leave. Those colleagues of his would definitely also leave together, and they’d leave only him behind.
Miracle Doctor Ji saw that he was staring foolishly at the big tree in the courtyard and asked, “What?”
Elder Miao stared at the small leaves swaying in the autumn wind and expressionlessly said, “At this time, in this season, I should compose a poem.”
Miracle Doctor Ji said, “Compose it then.”
Elder Miao sunk into contemplation for a while and then, taking the other seriously, composed a poem.
But for a person who hadn’t even finished memorizing Sanzi Jing, the poem he composed could use only the most appalling metaphors, almost too miserable to endure. Miracle Doctor Ji had listened only halfway when he already wanted to roll his eyes. When the person finished composing it and looked at him, he stroked his beard and asked, “In the past, was it you who named that ‘Gold Sect’ of yours?”
His intentions were to express tactfully that this person’s poem was absolutely terrible, but who could’ve known that Elder Miao would nod right after being asked this, completely not discerning that there was anything wrong and even saying in acknowledgment, “It was.”
Miracle Doctor Ji, “…”
Elder Miao asked, “What do you think of the poem?”
Miracle Doctor Ji didn’t want to think of anything and turned his head and left.
Elder Miao looked at the other leave without comprehension before turning his gaze back to continue his lamentations.
He had originally thought that he’d be left all on his lonesome, but who knew that, upon leaving, the Sect Master would also leave behind Elder Hei. Because the Demonic Sect’s headquarters was right nearby and Elder Hei was also familiar with this stretch of land, if the white piece took the opportunity to capture someone and move against Shaolin, then Elder Hei and the Demonic Sect’s shadow guards would be able to come out and help resolve the matter.
Elder Miao became immediately more comfortable.
After making the arrangements, Ye You got on the carriage and followed the crowd setting out slowly for Shengyin City. In the evening, they arrived at another small county town, one that had been adjacent to the previous small county town, and the streets were awash with the color of brightly-lit lanterns, extremely lively.
He observed for a moment before saying, “Ah, it’s the Mid-Autumn Festival.”
Wenren Heng said, “Want to eat mooncakes?”
Ye You said, “If you make it yourself, I’ll eat it.”
Wenren Heng remembered an old matter and warmly said a word of agreement. He helped the person off the carriage and brought the other upstairs, helping to put things in order for a bit, before then really going downstairs to make some mooncakes.
Ye You sat for a while and felt a bit like going downstairs to look when, at this time, he heard a knock at the door. When he opened it to take a look, he found Wei Jiangyue standing outside and so welcomed the person into the room.
Wei Jiangyue looked around before asking, “Where is he?”
Ye You said, “Senior Brother said that he’ll make me mooncakes.”
Wei Jiangyue subconsciously remembered what Ding Xilai told him today and knew then that Wenren Heng had truly confessed to Sir Xiao. He couldn’t help but fall silent for a moment.
Ye You looked at him. “You came because you wanted to ask about what happened recently?”
Wei Jiangyue said, “Yes.”
Ye You said, “I don’t have any evidence, so why don’t we make a bet.”
Wei Jiangyue said, “What do you want to bet?”
Ye You said in a slow voice, “Let’s bet that, by the time we get to Shengyin City, the Alliance Leader’s residence will already have been burned.”
Wei Jiangyue startled. “What?”
“If the Alliance Leader is the white piece, then his escaping like this means that he definitely isn’t trying to cover up his identity any longer. Even if there are some letters that are unfit to be seen and that he still needs to take care of, he also wouldn’t need to go as far as to burn his own residence down. On the contrary, following the white piece’s usual mode of operation, he’d more likely place some fake letters for people to find and mislead us to go somewhere else,” Ye You said, “So if, by the time we get there, the house really has burned down, then we can be sure about one thing.”
Wei Jiangyue said, with difficulty, “We’ll be sure that there’s still someone hidden in this group of people, that this person is the Alliance Leader’s partner, and that he was the one who kidnapped Sir Zhong to force the Alliance Leader away so as to place all of the blame on the Alliance Leader.”
Ye You said, “Not bad. He doesn’t know where the Alliance Leader puts letters which is why he’d set everything on fire, impatiently wanting to destroy all the evidence. Will you bet?”
Wei Jiangyue was silent for a while before lifting his head to look at the other. “I’ll bet. If you win, and it’s clear that there’s really still the white piece within this group of people, then at that time, could you… tell me some more things? Anything will do.”
Ye You looked at him for a time before saying, “All right.”
 Ding Xilai’s misquoting the saying 嚴父出孝子，慈母多敗兒 here
(which is imo kind of sexist, but I digress), which literally means “a stern father leads to a filial son, an indulgent mother leads to a useless one”. Ding Xilai’s just replacing the latter bit with “father”.
 勝音城 lit. sound of victory city, or something.
 Forgot to leave a note when it was first mentioned since it’s such an obvious thing to me, but the Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the major holidays. It’s mostly a moon-viewing festival nowadays where one appreciates the full moon while drinking tea and eating mooncakes. In the olden days, it was a celebration of a successful harvest season. It’s a very family-oriented holiday.
 月餅 A pretty common/famous Chinese pastry, so you’ve probably heard of it. (Wiki also has a page on it.) It’s round and circular like the moon and the inside is usually filled with red bean paste or lotus seed paste as well as a yolk (or two). It’s meant to be cut up in small chunks and eaten sparingly with tea (because it’s very 膩 …uh, you know that feeling when you eat too many sweets and you feel icky? yeah, 膩 is the Chinese word for that feeling). I always get the double-yolk lotus-paste mooncakes because eggs are justice!
Also I don’t like red bean all that much I am a terrible Chinese person, I know.
I… don’t think that’s how bets work, Wei Jiangyue. Isn’t it the winner who sets the terms, not the loser?
Bets aside, speaking of holidays, it’s actually almost the Dragon Boat Festival (on Thursday)! Happy early Dragon Boat Festival, everyone.