In which everyone’s worried about Sir Xiao.
From late into the night until the break of dawn, everyone searched the surroundings of the stone bridge many times, and though they were still unable to find even a hint of Sir Xiao’s shadow, they were able to find the other two black-clothed men, completely unconscious. These two people were the same as the ones previously captured; they were completely unclear on what exactly happened and could only be sent to Shaolin to be handed over to Miracle Doctor Ji.
As the sky gradually brightened, the small county town, which had been noisy for an entire night, slowly turned quiet.
Wenren Heng silently stared at the river surface, his back perfectly straight and tense, having practically not said a word since last night.
Abbot Ciyuan’s party had long already thought of the worst case scenario, and now after an entire night of fruitless searching, they couldn’t help but let out a sigh in their hearts, fearing that nothing good had happened to Sir Xiao.
Academy Master Ge didn’t want to think of the worst possibility happening and said, “He’s that clever, so even if he’s been kidnapped, he should still be able to think of a way to escape.”
Wenren Heng shook his head, his voice hoarse as he said, “Those who surrounded us last night all carried strong killing intent. They truly meant to kill us on the spot.”
“But those people were all drugged and so they couldn’t control themselves. Perhaps the white piece changed his plans at the last moment and didn’t kill him…” Even as he spoke, Academy Master Ge felt somewhat unable to continue.
They weren’t fools. Even if the white piece let Sir Xiao keep his life, it would definitely solely be for the sake of forcing out information about the black piece, regardless of whether Sir Xiao actually knew anything or not, and whether he’d be willing to talk or not. Even if they were able to rely solely on this good move from the terribly wicked white piece, Sir Xiao might still be subjected to a beating, and with his health originally being poor, it was very possible that he wouldn’t be able to endure.
Wenren Heng closed his eyes and didn’t reply.
Academy Master Ge also knew that this person had probably thought it through and said, “Then this… we’ve already stayed for an entire night and searched every place that could be searched. Let’s still return to the inn first. Maybe he’s been saved by someone.”
Wenren Heng stayed silent, not speaking a word.
Abbot Ciyuan’s party all followed along in offering some advice. If Sir Xiao was truly in the white piece’s hands, then it’d be useless to waste anymore time here; it’d be better to use the time wisely to find ways to uncover the white piece. Perhaps with the white piece afraid, the other party would then not do anything to Sir Xiao for now.
Wenren Heng was still for a while. Finally, after giving a look to the gleaming, crystalline river surface, he then followed them back to the small county town.
Upon seeing this, the adventurers knew that they were going to give up the search, and their moods immediately became heavy.
The white piece had already hidden for so many years and, other than personal influence, also possessed frightening drugs and drugged people. Before, with Sir Xiao around, they weren’t at a disadvantage, but now with Sir Xiao’s life-or-death unknown, in the case that they didn’t have anyone who could see through the white piece’s next moves, if the white piece once again laid siege with intentions to kill, what would they be able to do?
Everyone furrowed their brows and let out a long sigh before returning together to the small county town with chests full of thick unease.
From the group, those who were hungry went to eat, those who were tired went to rest, and those who were worried huddled together to bemoan the situation. Those who lived in the same inn as those elders followed them all the way to the inn’s lobby.
Right as they entered, they saw Sect Master Ye and Xie Junming currently eating breakfast.
Just like last time when the white piece surrounded the mountain, Xie Junming was interested only in looking in on the fun, and after he finished watching, he would then leave to rest. Last night, upon seeing that the righteous faction were simply looking for someone, he had felt too lazy to stay any longer and thereupon left, pulling Sect Master Ye along.
At this time, Xie Junming saw that they had returned and, looking as if he was concerned, asked, “Did you find him?”
Abbot Ciyuan who was in the lead replied for everyone when he shook his head.
Xie Junming said an, “Oh,” before lowering his head to continue eating, while also helping the person beside him to grab some side dishes in passing, considerately telling the other to eat some more. Elder Baili maintained his smile, completely resigned to accompanying the great Temple Master Xie in eating this meal.
Everyone supposed that Sect Master Ye was also going to follow along with them from now on. In ordinary circumstances, they’d definitely feel their head ache for a bit, but right now, with Sir Xiao’s matter as a point of comparison, they contrarily felt that this matter wasn’t a big deal. They numbly looked at those two annoying rascals before turning around and leaving.
Xie Junming said, “Ah-You, I told you a long time ago that you should go out and walk more. See how they don’t seem to keep you in their minds when they see you.”
Elder Baili was left speechless.
With their Sect Master already having gone through and tossed these people around, it’d be strange if those people were actually capable of paying attention to him.
Xie Junming raised a brow. “You don’t have any thoughts?”
Elder Baili thought for a moment, and then thought for some more moments. And underneath his deeply ruminating gaze, he suddenly felt so angry that he almost lost his temper. Dragging on his Sect Master’s usual careless attitude, he said, “What kind of thoughts could I have. You should focus on eating. Weren’t you miserable enough last night after I took care of you?”
Those Elders, “…”
Great work, we respect your manliness!
Xie Junming immediately laughed handsomely.
Elder Baili silently grabbed a vegetable and placed it in his mouth, feeling as if he was done for.
At this time, Abbot Ciyuan’s party had already stepped onto the staircase. Upon hearing these words, some of them almost missed the next step and stumbled clean off.
They endured the impulse to turn back, forcing themselves not to think too crookedly. After all, Ye You still had Lady Tao, and it wasn’t that possible that he’d be so devoid of morals as to also have a dalliance with Xie Junming. Those words definitely didn’t mean what they thought it meant.
Wenren Heng conversely had nothing to say, and his head also didn’t turn as he walked forward and entered his room.
The scarred man followed behind and hesitantly looked at his Sect Master.
Last night, when he heard the news, he was almost scared to death. As he began searching for the person at once, the more he searched, the more anxious he became. It wasn’t until he saw “Sect Master Ye” appear that he realized that there was some kind of problem, because that clearly wasn’t Sect Master Ye. Other people couldn’t tell because they weren’t familiar with Sect Master Ye, but he was able to discern the difference, so… Where’s Sect Master Ye?
He asked, “Sect Master, do you want to eat something?”
Wenren Heng said, “Something has happened to Ah-Xiao, so how could I have an appetite?”
The scarred man blinked. “Then…”
Wenren Heng said, “You should go out. If anyone comes to find me, say I want to be alone for a while.”
The scarred man made a sound in agreement and, with a head full of doubt, made to leave. When he reached the door, he couldn’t help but give the Sect Master another glance. Seeing the Sect Master lying on the bed after having taken off those outer robes, he guessed that the other was about to sleep and immediately removed his gaze, thoroughly convinced that there was nothing wrong with Sect Master Ye. He then left, relieved.
On this early morning day, the entire inn’s atmosphere had almost sunk entirely into deep melancholy.
Neither Wei Jiangyue nor Ding Xilai had any intentions of sleeping, and the two sat together, with heavy expressions. Wei Jiangyue said, “Tell me carefully what exactly was the situation yesterday.”
Ding Xilai then told him the story and said, “In short, I didn’t find him. Do you think he could be…”
“No,” Wei Jiangyue interrupted him, “Nothing will happen to him.”
Ding Xilai didn’t speak again.
He naturally also hoped that nothing would happen to Sir Xiao, but from the results of a night of searching, it was very possible that Sir Xiao had already fallen into the white piece’s hands. Even he could understand this kind of thing, so there was no reason why Wei Jiangyue wouldn’t.
Wei Jiangyue’s head was a complete mess, and he especially wanted to ask his father if the other was the one who had captured that person, but they had already confronted one another once. Even if they tried again, there’d still be no conclusions; instead, it’d simply hurt their relationship even more. What’s more, before there was any definite evidence, he still couldn’t rashly conclude that his father was the white piece.
The two were similarly speechless, and in the end, the only thing they could do was return to their respective rooms.
After resting for a while, the party came downstairs when it was almost noon, preparing to eat something. They originally thought that they wouldn’t be able to see Wenren Heng, but what surprised them was that they saw Wenren Heng take the initiative to come downstairs himself, and they all couldn’t help but look at him.
Wenren Heng’s gaze was extremely tranquil.
He appeared as if he had suppressed all strong emotions, with only a penetrating ice-cold sharpness remaining in his eyes and an imposing air that pressured people, leaving them not daring to underestimate him.
He said, “After eating, all of you should hurry and get back on the road.”
Academy Master Ge said, “What about you?”
Wenren Heng said, “I’ll stay behind and continue searching.”
Academy Master Ge knew that he couldn’t persuade the other and said, “Then I’ll stay with you to search.”
Wei Jiangyue and Ding Xilai opened their mouths at practically the same time, “Me too.”
“No need,” Wenren Heng said, “All of you should hurry to Shengyin City. Both me and Ah-Xiao think that, if Fuping and Mr. Xiao’s masters are different people, the other person might send people to burn down the Alliance Leader’s house.”
The group quickly sorted through the reasoning behind that statement, and all agreed that it was a possibility.
Wenren Heng said, “The Alliance Leader’s place has guards. Even if that person wanted to burn down that house, he’d still need to expend some effort. All of you need to hurry to the Alliance Leader’s residence before he can make a move.”
The group understood that matters were urgent and didn’t continue to delay. After eating, they hastily packed their things again, preparing to set out.
Wei Jiangyue found Wenren Heng, still wanting to stay behind.
Wenren Heng gave him a look. “I heard Ah-Xiao say that he and you made a bet. You should go see the conclusion that he’s now unable to see. See if the Alliance Leader’s place has been burned by someone or not, and also keep an eye on your people from ‘Heaven’s Firmament’ on the way.”
The meaning behind those words were clearly evident, and it also coincidentally hit on Wei Jiangyue’s fatal weakness. The gigantic pile of excuses that Wei Jiangyue had thought up beforehand all died prematurely. After a while of silence, he asked, “You really think…”
Wenren Heng said, “That’s right. Did you think of why the white piece moved to kill right as we just stopped to rest? He used people from several major sects, and the risks inherent are enormous. If even the slightest thing went wrong, then everything would’ve been revealed, but he still used them. Why? Because he’s angry. Do you need me to explain to you why he’s angry?”
Wei Jiangyue said, “Perhaps it’s because of the matter with surrounding the mountain.”
Wenren Heng said, “You can think what you like. Regardless, me and my Junior Brother still hold to our positions.”
Wei Jiangyue felt as if the earlier feelings of dejection were once again drowning him. He stood rigidly for a moment before saying, with difficulty, “If it really is… I definitely won’t let anything happen to him.”
Wenren Heng didn’t reply and quietly watched him leave.
After Wei Jiangyue left, the one who came immediately afterwards was Ding Xilai. Wenren Heng also didn’t agree to him staying and said, “This time they weren’t able to kill me, so perhaps they’ll try once more. It’d be too dangerous for you to stay here.”
Ding Xilai said, “No problem, I have ‘Moon’s Shadow’.”
Wenren Heng said, “But if the people of ‘Moon’s Shadow’ aren’t attentive enough, then I’d have to save you.”
Ding Xilai said, “That won’t happen.”
Wenren Heng said, “What if it does?”
Ding Xilai said, “I promise I won’t leave the side of ‘Moon’s Shadow’. That should be fine then, right?”
Wenren Heng silently stared at him.
Ding Xilai unconsciously wanted to make a vow but quickly discovered that this person’s imposing atmosphere was somewhat strong. From the beginning, this person hadn’t intended to wait for his vow but was purely using this type of method to tell him that there was nothing to discuss.
He had never quite dared to act too impudent to Wenren Heng’s face. Immediately terrified, he could only walk away, looking back every once in a while.
Ren Shaotian hesitated for a moment and, for now, didn’t follow his young master. He said, in a low voice, “If there’s any news of Sir Xiao, could Sect Master Wenren send us a letter?”
Wenren Heng said a simple, “Yes.”
Only then did Ren Shaotian leave to go look for his young master.
Now that everyone had been sent off, Wenren Heng once again returned to the riverside.
He wasn’t sure if the white piece would send people to watch him in secret, and so he wasted two days at the small county town before finding an opportunity to get away. In disguise, he reached the meeting place that had been prearranged to reunite with his Junior Brother.
Presently, it was already nighttime. He pushed open the room door and heard the sound of water drifting out from behind a screen. His footsteps paused, and he used a hand to push close the door.
Ye You said, “Senior Brother?”
Wenren Heng made an answering sound and slowly walked around the screen. Sure enough, he saw that his Junior Brother was currently taking a bath. He said, smiling, “You sure know how to enjoy life.”
“I’ve always been like this.” Ye You lazily leaned against the edge of the bathtub. Staring at that face that could turn the world upside down, he laughed and crooked his fingers. “Together?”
Wenren Heng naturally wouldn’t refuse, shedding his clothes and entering before pulling the person into an embrace.
Ye You asked, all smiles, “Did you cry when you couldn’t find me?”
Wenren Heng said, “No.”
Ye You faintly said, “Ah, you really do have a heart of stone, Senior Brother. With my life-or-death unknown like that, you actually didn’t even cry.”
Wenren Heng said, “You’ve said these words before too, back when you lost your memories.”
Ye You remembered a certain tableau regarding Lady Xiao-Rou and made a sound in agreement. And then he suddenly felt that something wasn’t right. Why did his Senior Brother mention this thing for no reason? He felt like the other was trying to collect on old debts.
He hastily turned his head, only to realize that he had been pulled into a very tight embrace.
Wenren Heng dropped a kiss on his shoulder, warm breathing brushing outwards. “I indeed was unable to cry. Why don’t you cry first to show me, and teach me how to do it? Hm?”
Ye You, “…”
Sure enough, Senior Brother was trying to collect on old debts!
Ye You thought of recent matters and, after thinking it over, pulled out a new subject, “Were those people sent to Shaolin?”
Wenren Heng said, “Yes.”
Ye You felt the other’s hand sliding downwards and dodged out of the way slightly, saying, “Senior Brother, you aren’t going to ask why I’m doubling back to Shaolin?”
Wenren Heng pressed him down and once again pulled him into an embrace, saying, “All those black-clothed men were their respective sects’ experts and elites, so it’s impossible that they’d be put under someone else’s control in the middle of the city without even making a single sound. What’s more, I’ve exchanged blows with them, and they didn’t appear to have lost their rationality. So I think that they were originally people secretly planted by the white piece. And for the sake of diverting suspicions, after the matter was over, they told everyone that they didn’t remember anything. That’s the first thing.”
Ye You wanted to give some words of praise, but before he could speak, he had to let out a gasp.
Wenren Heng said, “The second thing. If they pretended to be drugged, then they’d be sent back to Shaolin, and if they were in close proximity to Miracle Doctor Ji, then they could more easily move against him, isn’t that right?”
Ye You said, “Enough…”
This “enough” obviously wasn’t directed at Wenren Heng’s reasoning but was directed at his wicked hand. Wenren Heng looked at his Junior Brother’s appearance and his pupils darkened. He pressed the person down and kissed deep.
At this time, those people had long already arrived at Shaolin.
Miracle Doctor Ji examined them for a long while before saying, “That’s strange, it doesn’t seem like any of you were drugged.”
Those people were very afraid. “Could it be a different drug than the one used on those drugged men?”
Miracle Doctor Ji said, “It’s unclear. It’s late now, so sleep first. We’ll talk again tomorrow.”
Those people said, “All right. Thank you for the trouble, Miracle Doctor Ji.”
Miracle Doctor Ji nodded and indicated for his young disciple to give them some medicine to let them sleep more steadily.
Young Miracle Doctor Fang obediently said a word in agreement, taking out a small porcelain bottle and walking towards them.
Those people saw them slowly closing the distance and, with a concealed weapon in hand, moved to surround the Young Miracle Doctor.
[insert lecture about proper communication before initiating sexytimes here]
Anyway, putting aside dubious sexual practices of fictional characters, I’ve actually been meaning to mention this since the author’s note a few chapters back about the Demonic Sect Elders being young, but I kept forgetting. So here’s a belated note! The terms used for the elders of the righteous faction and the Demonic Sect Elders are different!
For the elders of the righteous faction, they’re specifically referred to as 前輩, which means “those of the previous/older generation”. This is a respectful term used to refer to someone much older than you. Meanwhile, the Demonic Sect Elders are referred to as 長老 which is used, in this case, to refer to an elder of an organization, denoting seniority in rank rather than age. I tried to differentiate with lowercase/capital since the latter is a title while the former isn’t, but I can understand if it’s still confusing. It’s also confusing in Chinese! …which is why the author herself had to put a note saying that the Demonic Sect Elders were actually young, haha.