Jiang Fan was not that focused, turning his head several times to size up Chen Jingzhi next to him. When Eldest Senior Brother’s recitation came to an end, he finally could not help but ask in a soft voice, “Junior Brother, are you ill?”
Chen Jingzhi raised his head to look at him and then hanged back down. “I’m fine.”
“Were you unable to sleep well because of the strong winds last night? You can’t have caught a cold, right? Don’t treat it as something minor. Look at how sick Little Junior Brother got previously. If you’re sick, it’s best to treat it as soon as possible.”
“Senior Brother, I’m really fine.”
Seeing how insistent he was, Jiang Fan couldn’t persuade him further either. All he could do was scratch his head in frustration, messing up his already poorly combed hair.
Junior Brother Chen carried a very heavy weight in his heart. Everyone clearly knew that he was bottling up many things in his stomach, but no matter how much everyone asked, he wouldn’t speak up at all. He truly left people feeling a little powerless. After all, they couldn’t possibly use a shovel to forcefully split open his mouth, right?
Haah, Jiang Fan’s junior brothers were truly worrisome. Little Junior Brother had just recovered, hopefully, Fourth Junior Brother wouldn’t get sick right after him.
When the morning lesson ended, Jiang Fan hurriedly went forward. Taking the short opportunity when Mo Chen wasn’t busy, he said, “Eldest Senior Brother, I have something I wish to discuss.”
Mo Chen slipped the book which recorded the heart cultivation mantra into his sleeve. “Alright, let’s talk while walking.”
“It’s about Junior Brother Chen. I saw that his complexion doesn’t look especially good today, and when I asked if he was feeling uncomfortable, he wasn’t willing to say anything. Since this morning, I can see that he has a lot going through his mind…”
Mo Chen nodded, staying silent.
Just like Little Junior Brother, Junior Brother Chen had a very heavy weight in his heart as well. For Little Junior Brother, it was because his only relative had suddenly passed away. As long as the people next to him showed more concern for him, given time, he would be released from the pain.
However, it was different for Junior Brother Chen. His heart was simmering with viciousness. Though Master hadn’t explicitly said anything, Mo Chen was still able to obtain some clues from the information that he had gathered. The death of Junior Brother Chen’s mother was not a simple affair. Not only was it related to the woman that the Chen Family took in as the second wife, even Junior Brother Chen’s father was not guilt-free. If Junior Brother Chen had not made his way to Returnflow Mountain, there was a possibility that, by now, his life would have been forfeit. No matter who it was, it was impossible to release oneself from such a tragedy. Just what was on Junior Brother Chen’s mind? Mo Chen could figure out the answer without the need for thought.
However, he did not have currently have the capabilities for revenge, and Returnflow Mountain wouldn’t go all the way for him either. Firstly, it was after all still the Chen Family’s internal affairs. No matter if it was concerning a husband killing his wife or a father killing his son, no matter how one put it, it was still the Chen Family’s own affairs. There was no way Returnflow Mountain could actually help. Secondly, Chen Family was powerful and had a large network. Even after counting all of the masters and disciples of Returnflow Mountain, they were still not even ten percent of the total numbers the Chen Family had. Barging in with their weak and lonely force would not make them a match for the Chen Family.
Having Master take Junior Brother Chen under his wing for protection was already a pretty generous outcome.
The hatred in Junior Brother Chen’s heart had not grown faint with time, but had instead grown deeper. Even in sleep these thoughts occupied his entire mind.
Just what sort of past events had he been reminded of by this large snowfall?
“I understand. I will look for him later.”
Jiang Fan heaved a sigh of relief. “That will be great. Eldest Senior Brother, urge him… not to wallow in bitterness forever.”
Mo Chen simply nodded.
However, he did not feel that he could persuade Fourth Junior Brother either.
This was not something that could be solved through words in the first place.
In the early morning, the outer sect disciples and attendants had already swept the snow. However, in just half a day, another thick layer of snow had formed. The rice and vegetables used on the mountain were mostly delivered from the bottom of the mountain. Whenever winter came, a considerable amount of these necessities would have already been stored. Preserved fish and meat had all been stocked up as well. They were sufficient enough to last through more than half the winter. Otherwise, with such heavy snowfall making it difficult to traverse the mountain paths, the people on the mountain would starve as it would be impossible to deliver anything to the mountain.
When Mo Chen arrived at the door to Chen Jingzhi’s residence, the door was closed. Before he could even knock, the door was opened from the inside. The person behind the door was even more startled than Mo Chen, as evident from the change in his expression and his stutter. “El-Eldest Senior Brother.”
Mo Chen naturally recognized who he was. He was an outer sect disciple with the surname Chu, and everyone called him Chu Er. Mo Chen, however, didn’t know if he was really second-in-line in his family or if it was just a nickname. Mo Chen didn’t really like this person. He had crafty eyes and a slippery tongue, and a mind set on becoming an inner sect disciple.
There was nothing wrong with ambition. Every outer sect disciple desired to be officially apprenticed to a teacher. However, efforts must be made to walk the correct path. One should not throw aside the correct methods, and think only of depending on those already in power and obtaining personal gains through trickery.
Mo Chen hummed as a response. A chill ran down Chu Er’s spine as Mo Chen’s gaze landed on him. Like a criminal who had been pardoned, he slipped away from the side of the door.
Chen Jingzhi came out at this time as well. “Eldest Senior Brother.”
Mo Chen sized him up carefully this time. His complexion was indeed really bad. Not a hint of red could be seen on his lips, and he had a pallid look. Compared to Little Junior Brother, he seemed as if injured, or as if he was just starting to recover from a severe illness.
He clearly looked fine yesterday, so how did he become like this?
It was no wonder Jiang Fan was so worried.
“Junior Brother, what happened to you?”
Earlier, Chen Jingzhi could muddle his way through answering Jiang Fan, but it was impossible when facing Eldest Senior Brother. After a moment of silence, he sat down on a chair and slowly rolled up his pants, revealing a scar of about three inches long on his calf.
Mo Chen was stunned. After a closer look, he realized the scar was new. With a layer of medical ointment already applied, the bleeding had stopped, but the injury was still really deep. The flesh and skin on the edges of the scar were slightly everted, which would frighten most people.
“How did this happen?”
Chen Jingzhi was still fine yesterday. Little Junior Brother mentioned that Fourth Junior Brother had gone to look for him, and he’d been fine then too. “The winds were too strong last night. I slipped and my leg hit a sharp rock.”
Mo Chen could ascertain that it was indeed not a sword wound.
However, Junior Brother Chen had already been on this mountain for a long time. Winds and snow of this level should not pose much of a problem to him.
Mo Chen wondered just how he managed to get injured to this degree.
Mo Chen recalled the guilty look that Chu Er had when he slipped away. Could Junior Brother’s injury be related to Chu Er?
“The medical ointment you applied won’t do. The injury is too deep. It needs to be wrapped. If you leave it like this, not only will it take a long time to heal, it might even start bleeding again.”
Mo Chen took out a medicine bottle and poured out a medicinal pill. “Here, take this.”
Chen Jingzhi recognized what it was. He hurriedly received it with both hands and softly said, “Thank you, Eldest Senior Brother.”
It was a pill refined using expensive ingredients by Master. When Chen Jingzhi came to the mountain, he heard that Master had only ever refined a single furnace of them successfully. Because Eldest Senior Brother had to head down the mountain for a mission, Master bestowed him some of these pills. The injury that he had was not really severe, yet Eldest Senior Brother gave him one of these priceless pills.
Chen Jingzhi swallowed the pill while Eldest Senior Brother had an attendant prepare some hot water. Eldest Senior Brother wiped off the ointment that was initially on his leg, reapplied another ointment, and then wrapped his injury with a clean white cloth. He stood up and then instructed Chen Jingzhi, “Don’t move about too much the next few days, rest up more. I will come over every three days to re-apply the ointment. Master should be returning soon. Junior Brother, heal up your injury quickly so that Master doesn’t have to worry.”
Chen Jingzhi lowered his head and replied, “I understand. Eldest Senior Brother, don’t worry.”
Mo Chen didn’t probe how he had received the injury any more. After leaving, he had someone call Chu Er over. However, that person returned after searching all around and said, “I didn’t manage to find Chu Er anywhere, I’m not sure where he’s gone again.”
“Nevermind then. Once you see him, have him come over to my place immediately.”
“Yes. Eldest Senior Brother, did Chu Er get into some sort of trouble? Could he be hiding because of guilt?”
Mo Chen couldn’t say. He simply felt that Chu Er was more than likely related to Junior Brother Chen’s injury, or Chu Er wouldn’t have looked so strangely guilty when he saw Mo Chen. Even if he was unrelated, Chu Er should probably know the reason behind Junior Brother’s injury.
It would have been better if he hadn’t hidden himself. Now that he was in hiding, it proved that he had ulterior motives.