Chapter 15: “The Ghost Festival.”
“What?” Mu Rongsa jumped up in shock. “That Zuo Qi, the guy who was beaten up by Brother Hua?”
“Who else could it be?” Lowering his gaze, Hua Che thought for a moment. Compared to feeling flustered or at a loss, he felt more suppressed anger.
All Hua Che originally wanted to do was eat and play around, drifting along as he waited for death. He hadn’t expected that troublesome matters would be so unceasing.
Zuo Qi died so inexplicably, while the Shang Qing Immortal Sect had run over to condemn Hua Che of this sin.
Was it possible they suspected he was the one who killed Zuo Qi?
Don’t joke around!
“Senior-apprentice brother, don’t be agitated.” Hua Che looked indifferently at Wen Yuan, who was covered with sweat from head to toe. “Clear water will always stay clear1.”
Since the Shang Qing Immortal Sect had already come to their door, he couldn’t let his elderly Master confront them alone.
Hua Che immediately went to the Ling Xiao Pavillion. As expected, the entire place was currently very lively.
Fighting a battle of words, Zhuang Tian said: “You said my little eight killed your precious sect’s brilliant student, but are there any witnesses? Is there material evidence? These days, my little eight has always stayed in the sect and haven’t gone out at all. My entire sect can be his witness.”
“Recklessly accusing someone wrongly relying on just your distinguished self’s one mouth. Although the Shang Qing Immortal Sect is powerful, you still need to be reasonable, right?”
The long-nosed sword cultivator sneered: “Leaving aside how you’re all part of the same gang, so your testimonies aren’t trustworthy, merely the point about how he has always been in the sect is dubious—Sect Leader Zhang, can you really confirm he has always been in the sect and has never gone out before?”
“Junior-sect brother Zuo was decapitated on the fifteenth of the seventh month. Do you dare point to the heavens and pledge that Hua Che had been in the sect on the same day?”
Zhuang Tian was at a loss of words.
“Where did Zuo Qi die?” Hua Che strode past the doorway, arriving from afar.
Lu Yao, who had came with the long-nosed sword cultivator, hesitated to speak. He nervously looked at his companion.
The long-nosed sword cultivator sneered again, “Yo, you actually came out? I thought you’ll be a coward and won’t dare to appear!”
“It’s not like I killed him, so why wouldn’t I dare appear?” Hua Che silently mocked in his heart—even if he was really the person who killed Zuo Qi, he’ll still dare to appear ah!
Lu Yao said, “Senior-apprentice brother Zuo died in the Bright Moon Valley.”
Hua Che smiled knowingly, “To be quite honest, I truly wasn’t in the sect during the middle of the seventh month. Master gave us a vacation during those days, so I returned to Hangzhou to visit my family.”
The long-nosed sword cultivator: “Your witnesses?”
Hua Che said in a bright tone, “All the personnel in the Utterly Intoxicated Tavern along with the rich Young Master of Hangzhou City, Young Lord Qian.”
“The Utterly Intoxicated Tavern?!” The long-nosed cultivator blanked out for a moment. When he finally reacted, disgust and ridicule filled his entire face.
“Very good! An immortal cultivator from the Ling Xiao Temple, with its century of inheritance. Instead of concentrating on pure cultivation, you actually ran to such a filthy and obscene place. Are these the rules of the Ling Xiao Temple, is this the upbringing of Sect Leader Zhang?!”
“Hey!” Hua Che frowned. “Going to the Utterly Intoxicated Tavern is my own business. How can it be related to my Master? Moreover, how does the rules of the Ling Xiao Temple concern your Shang Qing Immortal Sect? Don’t think you can control every affair from the heavens and the earth just because you boast the title of the ‘First Immortal Sect’!”
The long-nosed sword cultivator: “You!”
“That’s right!” Mu Rongsa yelled in a loud voice. “I’m warning you clean up your mouth! Do you know who I am? Do you know who my dad is?!”
“Heh.” The long-nosed sword cultivator sneered before sizing up Hua Che from head to toe. His laughter suddenly became louder. “Yes, it’s no wonder! I know you, Hua Che, Hua Qingkong.”
“Born to a brothel hooker, the son of a prostitute, with no clue of who your birth father is. Living in such a foul place since birth, it’s no wonder you’re contaminated with filth from head to toe.”
“With lowly origins and such an unruly personality, it isn’t strange for you to do shady things like murder and arsen at all!”
The moment he said this, everyone in the lobby was shocked.
They only knew Hua Che’s origins weren’t ordinary. They were even less aware of where his mysterious cultivation had come from.
Hua Che’s face was beautiful and flirtatious, while his body was comparable to orchids and jade trees2. His personality was excellent and his style of speech was extraordinary. The boy ought to be the precious young lord of a noble family.
Who would have thought he was actually……
Hua Che wasn’t very angry. Compared to being denounced himself, his fury was aroused more easily when his friends and family were wronged.
From youth till adulthood, the four words Hua Che had heard the most was precisely “son of a prostitute”. Although he used to be angry in the beginning, by now he had long become calm.
But unexpectedly, Zhuang Tian, who was by his side, immediately flew into a terrible rage. “You little bastard! You dare insult my disciple, watch out for your dog teeth!”
Chu Binghuan reached out to grab Hua Che’s wrist before leading him to the long-nosed sword cultivator. His frosty eyes were comparable to a cold pool that laid unused for thousands of years, deep to the point it was impossible to see the bottom and without the slightest warmth.
Although Chu Binghuan didn’t speak very loudly, faintly repressed yet bone-chilling sharpness could be heard in his voice. “Apologize.”
The long-nosed sword cultivator looked like he had just heard the funniest joke in the world. “Apologize? Me, apologize to him?”
“Either you apologize immediately right now, or……” Chu Binghuan pinched a silver medical needle between his fingers. “From now on, there won’t be a need for you to apologize ever again.”
Chu Binghuan had a hundred different ways to make this person forever mute.
The long-nosed sword cultivator trembled from head to toe. In his mind, he immediately calculated countless different possibilities.
Did Chu Binghuan really dare to kill him?
He was a brilliant disciple from the Shang Qing Immortal Sect, Elder Qian Yang’s most senior disciple! If the slightest mishap happened to him, it was impossible for Elder Qian Yang to not care. The Sect Leader also wouldn’t let them go!
But this person was Chu Binghuan ah, the eldest young lord of Yuntian Shuijing.
One was Yuntian Shuijing’s future successor, the other was a little, insignificant disciple from Shang Qing Immortal Sect.
The back of the long-nosed sword cultivator overflowed with cold sweat. Struggling, he raised both hands and cupped them in salute before bowing slightly. “Young—Young Lord Hua, I atone for my sin. This one has said something imprudent.”
Hua Che looked at Chu Binghuan, feeling slightly startled.
Trembling, Lu Yao felt a burst of fear.
The long-nosed sword cultivator composed himself before saying, “But that’s a different matter entirely. Even though Young Lord Hua had been in Hangzhou, there’s less than a hundred li3 between Hangzhou and the Bright Moon Valley. It isn’t impossible for you to kill someone first before nonchalantly returning to your previous place. Everyone knows you had a dispute with Zuo Qi on the Qingcheng Peak, so, you……”
“So I’m suspicious.” Hua Che helped him say. “How about I obediently cooperate with your investigation, is this fine now?”
Rushing to speak before Long Nose, Lu Yao said, “Qingkong, I believe in you. It’ll be wonderful if you could help us investigate the murderer who killed Zuo Qi.”
Lu Yao saluted him in an extremely deferential manner. “On behalf of the deceased Zuo Qi, I thank Young Lord Hua very much.”
This matter ultimately had to be settled, so Hua Che was going to go down the mountain with them. Chu Binghuan insisted on following, while Mu Rongsa and Lin Yan were unwilling to fall behind.
Zhuang Tian thought for a moment before ordering his eldest disciple Wen Yan to follow after them. Wen Yan was originally worried about them, so this was naturally just what he was asking for.
This majestic group of people followed Lu Yao and the long-nosed cultivator to the Bright Moon Valley.
According to the senior and junior sect-brothers who had been travelling together with Zuo Qi, they had separated when taking action and didn’t see who had killed the man. They had only heard Zuo Qi cry out for help from afar.
He had shouted vague things like “it’s you”, “don’t come over”, “save me”, before letting out a blood-curdling scream.
“It must have been an acquaintance who had a feud with Zuo Qi.” Long Nose said as he looked at Hua Che.
Mu Rongsa muttered, “With Zuo Qi’s terrible personality, won’t he have many enemies?”
There was a large bloodstain where Zuo Qi had died, and on top of it were shattered bones and rotten flesh. Hua Che had just glanced at it when Lu Yao explained, “His heart was dug out.”
Chu Binghuan: “A demonic beast cultivator?”
When cultivators from the immortal way killed people, they usually used a sword and targeted one’s golden core. In addition, they either exploded or sucked away one’s True Energy.
Demonic cultivators were fond of souls. They specialized in extracting souls from a human body and using it for their own cultivation practice.
Only demonic beast cultivators were overly attached to one’s heart. They always liked digging out hearts and lungs, mutilating their opponent’s body into a bloody mess.
Hua Che appeared thoughtful. Looking at the blood-stained ground, he thought aloud, “To dig out one’s heart, it must have been very painful.”
Lu Yao didn’t understand what Hua Che was talking about. He hesitated for a moment before saying, “I can bring you guys over to take a look at Zuo Qi’s corpse.”
Since they already said they were going, they really went to see it.
Zuo Qi’s corpse looked a few times more miserable than what Hua Che and the others had thought.
Leaving aside the bloody hole in his chest, all the organs in his body had been dug out. Using the words “pierced intestines and rotten belly” perfectly described Zuo Qi’s body.
Lin Yan was young and had never seen such a bloody scene before. Covering his mouth, he began vomiting violently for a long time before he finally recovered. “It shouldn’t have been a wild beast, right……?”
On the surface, Zuo Qi’s corpse truly looked like it had been nibbled by a beast.
As a doctor, autopsies were nothing difficult for Chu Binghuan. After using his True Energy to probe the corpse, he said, “His golden core has shattered, his soul left his body, and his spiritual knowledge has dried up.”
It was impossible to die worse than this.
“According to his wounds, they’re not something the bites of wild beasts like wolves could do. His organs ought to have been dug out by something sharp while he was still alive.” Chu Binghuan reached out his hand meaningfully.
What he meant, was digging a heart out with one’s five fingers.
“This isn’t as simple as someone killing him to steal his soul.” Hua Che looked at Long Nose before saying, “The murderer must have hated him to the bones. He and I only had one interaction. Although there was a slight conflict, it doesn’t deserve something like this.”
Long Nose had nothing to say.
Lu Yao: “Qingkong, Young Lord Chu, are there any ideas?”
When it came to methods to solve this mystery, Hua Che truly knew some.
For example, a ghost curse could let the deceased move again. As long as three days hadn’t passed since their death, they could mobilize the deceased’s remaining spiritual energy and let the corpse find their own murderer by relying on their body’s memories.
Unfortunately, Hua Che couldn’t use this technique in front of so many people.
“Demonic beast cultivators eat hearts and golden cores. Since his soul had been extracted, it can be seen that this is someone from the demonic way.”
“Demonic cultivators have always been ostentatious and haughty. They believe killing people brings honour and glory. Since the culprit didn’t leave their signature before leaving, it can be assumed that they’re a wandering cultivator without a sect to support them. Thus, we can eliminate the Fen Qing Palace Hall from the demonic realm.”
Hua Che paused for a moment before subconsciously looking toward the lonely full moon outside the window. “Two days ago was the middle of the seventh month, right?”
Chu Binghuan added on in a deep voice. “The Ghost Festival4.”
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- This is part of a saying that can be roughly translated to “Those who are clear are clear, those who are dirty will be dirty.” It means that if someone is innocent, they are still innocent even if they don’t say anything. But if someone is bad, they will still be bad even if they deny the things they’ve done.
- This is an idiom for a child with splendid prospects.
- Unit of measurement, around a third of a mile.
- This is the fifteenth of the seventh month in the lunar calendar. Legend has it that all ghosts are released from the lower realm to visit their relatives. Thus, this is when living descendants make offerings to the deceased.