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For the Bai family, his presence brought light to their humble abode.
To receive such an esteemed guest on the morning of his birthday. Bai Moran was in a better mood and his laughter continued to be heard like a bell continuously ringing. The heroes of all walks of life also went forward to deliver him their birthday wishes.
“Bai laoye-zi, this is the thousand-year-old ginseng I got from Changbai Mountain. My apologies for such a mediocre birthday gift.”
“This painting of the Heavenly Lake and Swooping Swallows is a treasure that came out from the Royal Palace. Bai laoye-zi please take a look, does it please you?”
The hall was full of noise, and everyone’s gifts were piled up like a mountain. It’s no wonder that although the Bai family had no outstanding descendants, in Jianghu, they still held a certain status, and they could also be counted as the wealthiest family in Wulin.
“*Qiang, Qiang*…” The gongs and drums changed suddenly, before the sound of crisp bells rang successively.
Her head ornament was impressive and colourful, she was wearing a gold-threaded brocade robe, she was both poised and luxurious, it was a pity that there was an obvious scar on her face, which had ruined this outstanding beauty’s appearance.
Song Xiangli upheld her position as the matriarch of the household, smiling at the guests: “Our Bai family is extremely grateful for all of your generous hospitality. I invite you all to enjoy yourselves, today.” She is not afraid of others’ eyes falling on her mutilated face. This scar represented her eternal favour to the Bai family; it was a sort of medal to her.
On the other side, Bai Moran had already personally got up from his seat, and went to carefully support his beloved wife.
“Didn’t you say that you are tired? I am able to take care of the guests along with Shaoli and Shaoxin, why did you come out in person?”
“Today is your birthday, I cannot be idle.”
After exchanging greetings with the guests in the hall, Song Xiangli’s eyes fell upon Feng Long. Without waiting for Bai Moran’s introduction, she gently opened his lips, “The eldest son of the Feng family?”
“It is indeed I, your nephew2小侄 – xiǎo zhí – again, not her actual nephew he’s just being polite as a son of a friend of the family type thing – assume the same for the rest of the chapter, greetings fu-ren.”
Although her appearance had been ruined, her commanding demeanor had not disappeared. Song Xiangli nodded and praised: “Feng gongzi is too kind.”
“Thank you for your praise, fu-ren.”
Then, after the guests had all offered their birthday well wishes, next, it was the turn of the Bai family’s children and disciples to offer their well wishes.
Bai Shaoli and Bai Shaoxin led a group of Bai family disciples and knelt down in a line.
“This child wishes mother and father’s happiness to be as great as the East Sea3福如东海 – fú rú dōnghǎi just an idiom to mean wish you great happiness and to live as long as the Zhongnan Mountains4寿比南山 shòu bǐ nánshān – another expression like Longmay you live! In English!”
The Bai family naturally were accustomed to wearing white5白 – their surname Bai = white.
Looking down at those dressed in snow-white robes, all his sons and nephews had grown up to become outstanding individuals, Bai Moran laughed aloud successively, stroking his beard whilst smiling and looking at his wife.
That smile suddenly stopped.
Although Song Xiangli was smiling, it was not a natural smile. Bai Moran had been with her for decades, and he could naturally tell, his eyes immediately followed her gaze.
Inside the hall, the Bai family sons and disciples were knelt down in a line, but beside the door outside the hall, there was a person who was also knelt down silently and alone.
Black robes, black shoes, pitch-black hair.
Taking advantage of no one having noticed him, he reluctantly kowtowed once outside the hall. Bai Shaoqing had completed the etiquette of his father’s birthday celebration. He was of the mentality that if seeing him was to start a fight then it was better for them to not greet each other, Bai Shaoqing quietly got up from the ground, and turned around to leave.
A tall figure suddenly appeared in front of him silently.
Bai Shaoqing lowered his head and saw that dark green sword that seemed to have a thousand feet of depth. A trace of surprise appeared on Bai Shaoqing’s face which had always been utterly calm, but it disappeared in an instant.
“Esteemed guest, please could you give way.”
“I, Feng Long, am untalented, to think that there is such a handsome6龙凤之姿 = alright it’s a bit more than handsome lit. beauty of dragon and phoenix – this phrase used to be used to describe the Emperor new talent in Wulin. Feng Long smiled, “May I ask this honorable xiongtai for your name?”
Because the road had been blocked by Feng Long, and because the latter was staring at him with the most curious provocative and teasing look, Bai Shaoqing pursed his lips.
Bai Shaoqing actually attracted Feng Long’s attention! Bai Moran was very unhappy. Song Xiangli smiled coldly.
He immediately walked over. “Worthy nephew Feng, this is…”
Knowing that there is no way to hide it, Bai Moran reluctantly introduced: “This is my youngest son, Shaoqing. Shaoqing has been weak since childhood, so he did not study martial arts in the Bai family manor, he went out to study with a master7夫子 fūzǐ Master; (old form of address for teachers, scholars); – to make it more clear – he studied books, not martial arts elsewhere. He only comes back once a year. So Wulin friends may not know him.” His eyes swept towards Bai Shaoqing, and he said solemnly, “It’s cold, don’t just stand here. Your body is weaker than your two elder brothers. Go back to your room.”
“Yes.” Bai Shaoqing replied and turned around, but Feng Long was still in the way.
Feng Long’s masculine and charming face suddenly turned into a moving smile, “Since he is the son of the Bai family, I, Feng Long, have the intention to become friends. Bai-xiong, please don’t leave yet. There is something that I am afraid involves the Bai family.”
He turned his head towards Bai Moran and said, “I don’t want to hide this from uncle, Fenglong came here for two reasons – one is to offer my birthday wishes to you but there is also another matter. I wonder if uncle can find a place to talk with me? It’s best if…. The other members of the Bai family are also present.”
Although he is stern and respectful with his words, every word seemed to hold much importance.
Bai Moran was puzzled, but immediately nodded, and invited Feng Long into the side room. The eldest son and the second son helped their mother into the room. Bai Shaoqing wanted to turn around and leave, but Feng Long glanced at him, and then put his slender hand lightly on Bai Shaoqing’s shoulder.
He had no martial arts ability, so Bai Shaoqing had no choice but to follow them and enter.
Fenglong took a sip of tea without saying a word, and then solemnly ordered: “Bring them in.”
His companion servants walked into the room one after the other, four servants were carrying a wooden box together, there were a total of five boxes, everyone looked on solemnly and respectfully.
Bai Moran looked at it, and couldn’t help but secretly be suspicious: In terms of its size, the wooden box looked like a coffin. Was the one surnamed Feng here to bring him bad luck?
Feng Long did not explain, waiting for the wooden box to be put on the floor, he ordered: “Open them.”
All the servants began to open the wooden boxes, only to have a vile stench waft out. Several people from the Bai family took a look inside. It turned out that the inside of the box contained a corpse.
Bai Moran’s face dropped, the eldest son of the Bai family, Shaoli couldn’t hold back any longer and shouted out: “Feng Long! Today is my father’s birthday, what is the meaning of this?”
What he asked was what everyone was thinking, as soon as he said it, all the eyes naturally fell back upon Feng Long.
Feng Long was not alarmed in the slightest, his fair fingers lightly tapping the green scabbard of his sword, and he slowly sighed, “Uncle Bai, today is your birthday, I originally didn’t want to present these things; but the matter is too urgent, there is no time to delay.”
“Oh? Please explain?”
“Could uncle first look at these people, do you recognise any of them?”
Bai Moran got up from his seat, and looked in the boxes one by one.
Although the people had already been dead for two or three days, it seemed like they had gone through some sort of preservation, their head didn’t have the slightest amount of decay. After looking over the corpses, he nodded: “I know them. This is Lu Heyuan from Dian Cang8点苍 – doesn’t mean anything – it seems like it’s a name of a sect who seemed to have good swordsmanship, and had once sparred with Shaoli against our Bai family sword technique, ah, my son is not skilled and the other won by half a move.”
He pointed and spoke again: “This is Mo Jiasheng, last month, he was making trouble at our Bai family’s silverware shop. When I heard that he did it to save the starving people of his county, and he was pressed for money, I immediately asked my employees to give him five thousand liang, and told him he didn’t need to pay it back. Oh, this person’s martial arts was so-so, his personality contrary to what’s expected was actually very friendly and hospitable, I’m surprised that he has been killed. And this one….. Eh! How come it looks like all of these victims seem to have had some small interactions with the Bai family?”
Feng Long nodded and said: “It’s exactly that. These are all the weird cases that have arisen in Wulin in the last month. Each one of them can be connected to the Bai family, it’s made things difficult for me.”
“You don’t suspect us right?”
Song Xiangli glanced over at her son, then corrected: “There’s no need to say so much, let’s listen to Feng gongzi finish.”
Bai Shaoli seemed to be afraid of his mother, he lowered his head not daring to say another word.
Bai Moran frowned and said: “It’s already been a month, well the bodies….”
“Uncle Bai, these are just a few of the people that I have found on the road. As for the previous bodies, most of them have been stored at the Feng family’s Mo Tianya9莫天涯 – This is the name of the Feng family’s manor. Human life is beyond value, and this matter involves Wulin’s four greatest families, so that’s why I had not taken into consideration uncle Bai’s birthday, and had to clarify the situation.
Feng Long looked at everyone around the room, paused for a while and then continued: “Honestly, if he had only taken a few lives, then the matter would not be so urgent. When does someone not die in Jianghu? But uncle, please take a look at these people’s wounds, each person has died under the secret masterstroke of our own sects and all of the bodies had large characters written next to them: This sect’s martial arts is no more than thus. He’s clearly trying to humiliate each one of our sect’s martial art skills.”
Everyone was shocked: “How could this be?” Not only did it involve human life, it also involved the reputation of each sect.
Bai Moran’s beard trembled: “They died by the Bai family’s martial art’s technique? That means that the killer knows the masterstroke of each one of our sects like the back of his hand?”
“This killer has become the public enemy of Wulin, being chased by every sect.”
Song Xiangli opened her mouth to ask: “Feng gongzi has been investigating this whole time, so I imagine you have made some headway.”
I’m ashamed to say that until now I have only found one clue, that the killer seems to often leave a dried bat near the scene of the crime. I suspect that this is the killer’s calling card, so for now we will call the killer “Bat”.
“Bat? There are not many in Wulin who use a bat for a symbol, unless…..”
“Everyone who has some renown has already been investigated in detail, there isn’t anyone suspicious, and according to the evidence left at the crime scene, everything points to the Bai family. Who could have such a huge hatred and desire for revenge against the Bai family, to use such venomous methods.”
Bai Shaoxin humphed in anger, he cupped his hands together and said: “This person is so hateful, Wulin should pool together to eliminate him, Feng da-ge if you need any assistance, do not hesitate to ask.”
Feng Long swept a glance at him unflustered: “What’s most troubling right now is that all the clues left by the killer are pointing towards the Bai family. Not only did all the victims have interactions with the Bai family, but……” He took out from his sleeve, “One of the victims was clenching this tightly in his hand.”
“This is a letter paper often used by the Bai family.” Bai Moran’s face exhibited his anger: “This letter paper can be used by anyone in the Bai family, and there is quite a lot circulating outside as well. If you are suspecting the Bai family just based on this ….”
“I also thought that there was someone who was maliciously framing the Bai family. Feng Long waved his hand and said: “Feng, Bai, Si Ma, Xu are the four great families in Jianghu. If someone is trying to harm the Bai family, the Feng family will absolutely not neglect this matter. This is also why I have ordered everyone to keep the news a secret and why I have come personally here.”
Hearing him say that, everyone felt a bit more relieved, and immediately a lively discussion arose.
Bai Shaoqing had been standing in the corner the whole time, listening to them count out all of the Bai family’s enemies, discussing methods on how to trap the killer, from the beginning to the end, not one of them said a word to him or even looked over at him.
He didn’t want to attract anyone’s attention but someone had been paying attention to him the whole time.
Feng Long’s gaze suddenly fell upon Bai Shaoqing: “Bai san-gongzi, do you have anything to say about this?”
Bai Shaoqing, who had been deliberately left out by the others, suddenly found that they were all looking at him, hate and disdain was clearly evident from most of their eyes.
“I have not studied martial arts and I don’t understand any happenings in Wulin so naturally I have nothing to add.” Bai Shaoqing thought he might as well stand forward and he bowed towards Bai Moran: “I would like to return to my teacher’s side, please could father give me permission to leave immediately.”
Feng Long immediately urged him to stay: “Immediately? But I have not even had the opportunity to chat with Bai-xiong, what harm could it do to stay another day.”
Now I know why this novel is only like 30 chapters – each chapter is soooo long – had to chop it.
I didn’t expect this to get so interesting already! ♡
I’m so curious as to why Feng Long is so drawn to Bai Shaoqing….