Recollecting Fragments of the Past
No one heard about Ximen Chuideng’s whereabouts after he fell from Lawless Cliff six years ago. I didn’t believe he perished simply because I didn’t find his corpse. Maybe he was reduced to dust, or maybe someone took off with his corpse, the fact was that I didn’t find his corpse at the bottom no matter how I searched, and I searched every inch. Knowing that was enough for me. I told the people I smuggled back to Divine Moon Cult’s headquarters in the Western Regions the same thing back then.
In the Central Plain, the majority of the martial world was convinced Ximen Chuideng met his demise at Lawless Cliff. In contrast, the members in the Western Regions who never went to the Central Plain thought their leader had only gone missing. Due to his long absence, though, starting from the members of the cult themselves, word began to spread that Ximen Chuideng met his end in the Central Plain, and it only became increasingly harder to stop the spread.
The ruler of the Western Region’s seven state’s decision to not go to war with the Central Plain despite Ximen Chuideng’s end was a personal one. In his opinion, his citizens’ livelihood took priority over everything else. Howbeit, owing to the magnitude of Divine Moon Cult’s influence in the seven states, nobody could predict how violently their followers would respond once they learnt their leader died in the Central Plain or that the Central Plain’s imperial court was responsible. One thing was for sure, though: if someone exploited those strong feelings, they could spark a war between the Western Region’s seven states and the Central Plain even if the seven state’s sovereigns didn’t desire it. To make matters worse, they were aware that someone with that thought existed.
It wasn’t just a handful of people who labelled the defeated group “Demon scum” when the latter pulled out of the Central Plain – as was in the case of Dark Wind Hall’s remnants. Frankly, I couldn’t tell you how many people harboured hostility towards the other in the Central Plain and the Western Regions. Regardless, once the Western Regions’ militia was set on revenge, it wouldn’t be possible to extinguish their anger. The only way to stop the flame from incinerating everything would be to extinguish the militia.
For the aforementioned reasons, Asa’s ruler’s most pressing task was to find authoritative figures of Divine Moon Cult, whether they were the Great Guardians or Guardians, anyone would do, and the more the better. Of course, nothing could beat finding Ximen Chuideng.
“Nobody can say what will happen if we cannot find Master.” Su Qi’s gaze showed me he was no longer a snotty-nosed brat. “His Majesty said that we were only had two years, at most. The seven states are not united in heart. There are people waiting for an opportunity to exploit for their own profits. If Master is still absent and someone stirs the pot, the consequences will be dire.”
I tugged up the corners of my lips a tad. “He would’ve shown his face already if he could.”
“M-My Lord, are you implying th-”
“No, you should believe in him. He’s not the kind of man to just roll over and die without a scene. If he was going to explode, he’d make sure he stained the sky with his blood on his way out. I don’t believe falling off a cliff is enough to finish him.”
“You scared me there. What did you mean, then?”
“Exactly what I said. I’m not convinced he’s dead. He must have his reasons for laying low, whether that because he’s been captured, is a vegetable in some forest, refusing to leave the warm embrace of a beauty, starting something big somewhere else or crazy. All of the above are realistically possible. Nothing he does can surprise me.”
The fact that Su Qi didn’t laugh proved that I wasn’t exaggerating.
In my serious voice, I said, “Listen: you need to stop putting all your hopes on him alone. He’s a lot less reliable than you people give him credit for. Stop imagining he’ll one day suddenly appear to rescue you from danger. It’s like betting on a 1% chance of success. What you need to do is think about how you’ll stop a riot without him.”
“This one understands. Please enlighten him.”
“Glad you understand. Tell your King I told you that. Rather than search for Ximen, your priority should be instating a new leader for Dark Moon.”
Su Qi widened his eyes, seemingly understanding where I was going.
“Instate a new head.”
The new head could be elected from either Dark Moon or Bright Moon Factions. As well, both factions could give their input to choose someone. Accordingly, the selection of Dark Moon’s new leader was importantly important. The only way a new head could be chosen is if both Factions were to re-elect a new head.
“Even if Ximen returns, he won’t bring peace back. Selecting a new head is the most practical way to stop a war.”
“But… We have considered it, but, as you know, even if we can reassemble Dark Moon Faction, based on the rules, the next head needs to be from Dark Moon… That is…”
Identifying the main problem proved Su Qi had matured.
While Dark Moon Faction had fallen apart, Bright Moon Faction was in power. As a matter of fact, the latter had the seven states’ followers in the palms of their hand, which was why Bright Moon stood above the sovereigns of the seven states. Hence, crowning a new leader was essentially changing who held ultimate authority. What was the likelihood that the competent members and elders of Bright Moon Faction were just going to acquiesce just for the sake of “tradition”? What Su Qi hesitated to mention was that Bright Moon Faction wouldn’t welcome back Dark Moon. In turn, it’d be a struggle to appoint a new leader for Dark Moon Faction, let alone Divine Moon Cult. This was the very reason nobody bothered mentioning Dark Moon Faction since they were dismantled.
Asa’s sovereign valued friends and family, especially his friendship with Bai Tianbin. Yet, he didn’t show any intent of restoring Dark Moon Sect, either, for he knew that whoever helped Dark Moon Faction out in the current forecast was sending them to their death. The same outcome would occur even if it wasn’t him who tried. Nobody was about to thoughtlessly oppose Bright Moon Faction.
“Go ahead without reservation. In the event that someone does try to stop you,” I smiled to myself, “I’ll back you.”
Su Qi looked ready to start jumping on the spot. “Really? Really? Really?! If you are speaking up, who would dare say otherwise? Fantastic, fantastic, His Majesty would throw a celebration to celebrate your return!”
I bitterly smiled. “You seem to have forgotten that I said I’d never set foot in the sacred palace again when I turned against Ximen.”
“You merely said it out of anger! Besides, you are Lord San Shen; you hold the same authority as Master and have the same authority as him when it comes to electing a new leader. Nobody would dare to argue with your orders even if you were to give them from ten thousand miles away.”
Su Qi couldn’t keep his hands still as he spoke. He’d probably have been clapping with his hands and feet if I wasn’t there.
“Okay, now for the most important issue. How do we get out?”
Imbecile didn’t know how to get out! He told me to discuss it with “Zero”.
After my conversation with Su Qi, I stomped off in a fit of anger. The lass wouldn’t stop mumbling in my ear, wanted to get rid of me as soon as I woke up, and I couldn’t beat her. Discuss it? How? I wasn’t exactly worried she’d find out my secret since Su Qi wouldn’t just sit there and watch her murder me. Problem was, I wasn’t even sure he could beat her. Moreover, even if we could persuade her, I still had all of Fiends’ Genesis out for me. Plus, there was that perverted organisation snooping around in the compound.
Now I’m back to square one. How am I going to escape this place? Unless she allies with me, there’s no way I can get out without her permission. Maybe… I can find a helper to take turns in opening the doors? But who can help me?
I had to enter my room when I heard Gu Xianxian’s brisk footsteps coming closer.
Just the man I needed.
“Brother Wu, I need you urgently!” Gu Xianxian had a bag of herbs on hand. “My wife told me th-”
“Congratulations. Your wife is pregnant.”
Gu Xianxian fossilised. “Could I… trouble you to repeat that?”
“Isn’t that what you’re here to ask about?”
“But how did you…”
“Aren’t you carrying herbs?”
“I came here to ask you if th-”
“It’s Shisan Taibao.”
“That’s such a cool name. Is it…”
“Let me save you the trouble. It’s for miscarriage prevention.”
Gu Xianxian contorted his face as though every reply from me was another punch to his face.
“Which means that my wife saying she is pregnant is…”
“True, for sure.”
“How do you know?”
“I knew from the start. Didn’t we find herbs and the sort in her room last time?”
“Why didn’t you say so sooner?!”
What sort of question is that? If I told you, would you have helped me with Lang Qing?
I covered my ears and responded, “What sort of question is that? If I told you, would you have believed the child is yours?”
“If I told you under those circumstances, I’d be adding oil to a flame. Moreover, I don’t know who the father is. It’s best if it’s you. If you suspect foul play and go confront Sister-in-Law, though, you’ll survive with some bruises, but you’ll have to live with eternal regret if the child becomes collateral damage. Now that I know Lang Qing is innocent, and Sister-in-Law is truly pregnant, I have to congratulate you, don’t I?”
With misty eyes, Gu Xianxian expressed, “Brother, Big Bro, say less. You are my blood-related big bro.”
Sometimes, I liked the kid – gullible kid.
“I have a job for you.”
“I’m still recovering from my wounds, Big Bro.”
Okay, I don’t like when this kid uses his head.
“Can’t help it. You’re the only one who can take care of this.”
“Uh… What is it?”
“You didn’t forget that we didn’t find just herbs in your wife’s room today, did you?”
Gu Xianxian took a moment to recall, then exclaimed, “The assassination plan!”
“Exactly. Your wife refused to tell you about her pregnancy and asked someone else to fetch her herbs for her. You think that’s normal? I suspect it’s all connected to the assassination plan.”
“I, I completely forgot about that. I will talk to my wife about it later.”
“As you should. How can you sleep at night without an answer?”
I had no idea how to lure out the guy from the perverted organisation, but Ning Zhuoru should’ve been a good starting point. Even if you only had a quarter of your brain functioning, you could tell the assassination plan and the perverted organisation were linked. For the meantime, all I could do was wait for Gu Xianxian to pry out some intel for me.
He sure is a strange guy. Clearly, she didn’t mention her pregnancy because she was blackmailed. Once her pregnancy is no longer a secret, he can’t blackmail her. If I were him, I wouldn’t leave Ning Zhuoru alive. Wait…
“Damn it!” I grabbed Gu Xianxian and sprinted out the door.
“Eh? What’s wrong?!”
“If you don’t want your wife and kid to lose their lives, then hurry back to them! He’s definitely going to get rid of them!”
Of course, that galvanised Gu Xianxian to bolt faster than I could possibly keep up with. Nevertheless, I didn’t need to accompany him. I, instead, paid Su Qi a visit. By the time I arrived, I espied Ning Zhuoru and her husband in a tearful embrace. Anyone else who saw the scene would’ve just considered it a serene scene.
Su Qi crept over to me and whispered, “There was someone after her life as you said. I scared off the assailant before he could strike with my earlier arrival.”
I bobbed my head to signal Su Qi could leave, but he just went and stood guard not too far away.
“How could you be so silly, Ru’er? I couldn’t be any happier to know you’re pregnant. How could you keep it a secret?”
“I didn’t want to hide it from you. It’s just…” Ning Zhuoru sighed as she started crying.
“Ahem, it warms my heart to see you are both safe and sound,” I conveyed.
“Big Bro, you overreacted. Ru’er is fine. That said, we did lay it all out just before. We’re okay now.”
“Congratulations. So, what exactly is the deal?”
Gu Xianxian scratched his head. “Uh, the reason is…”
Once Gu Xianxian looked to his wife, she said to me, “Doctor Wu, I am eternally grateful you waited until the right moment to tell my husband.”
I guess I get the dynamic now. She’s the brains between them.
I held my hands up in salute. “You have nothing to thank me for. Just treat me to a meal someday.”
Ning Zhuoru ground her teeth.
Gu Xianxian slapped his own thigh. “That goes without saying. That goes without saying! Ru’er, you have no idea how good Brother Wu is to me.”
Ning Zhuoru exhaled loudly. “Okay, as you wish.”
I politely smiled. “So what exactly is the situation? I need it to be demystified.”
“Yeah, what exactly is the situation?”
Ning Zhuoru glared at me, looked to her husband and then lowered her head. “All right, I shall tell you.”
Shisan Taibao – A herbal soup that consists of thirteen herbs, hence “Shisan”