The moment Xiaodong stepped out of his apartment, he saw a few people in front of him: two outer sect disciples, along with two attendants behind them. They had familiar faces, but he could not recall their names at a moment’s notice. Xiaodong had after all dawdled for the past few months, so he did not interact much with the others. There were too many things to tend to recently too, so he had yet to remember every single of these people.
“Junior Brother Yun? Where are you going?”
Though outer sect disciples and direct disciples had different standings in the power hierarchy, everyone usually addressed each other as senior brothers and junior brothers without taking standing into consideration. Never had a direct disciple bullied others using their status. It might occur in other sects, but Returnflow Mountain had considerably fewer people than other the sects, and arguments among the disciples were also rarer, so there had never been any such incidents.
“I’m heading out for a walk.”
The two outer sect disciples exchanged glances. Then, the one wearing a darker robe took a step forward and softly said, “Junior Brother Yun, you’re not injured, are you? On your body, there’s…”
Xiaodong looked down. Strangely, a lump of blood stained the front of his chest.
He wasn’t injured though?
Because he hadn’t slept for an entire night, Xiaodong was presently a little slow in processing things. Even if someone were to stab him with a needle, he would probably need a while to respond, “Who stabbed me?”
He was first a little anxious upon seeing the bloodstain. He was obviously uninjured, but Eldest Senior Brother carried him yesterday, and so had Senior Brother Jiang. Could one of them be injured?
He then pondered for a short while more and realized that the blood might have been Lin Yan’s. Yesterday, Eldest Senior Brother sliced off one of Lin Yan’s fingers. Xiaodong had been pretty close to her at that time, so the blood must have splattered on his body, but it had been too dark to notice then. Not to mention, even if he had noticed, who would care at a time like that?
“Don’t worry, I’m not injured. It might have been stained while I was caught off guard.”
The outer sect disciple nodded and said, “It’s great that Junior Brother isn’t injured. The roads are slippery these few days so they are especially hard to walk on. Even the road down the mountain has been blocked. Junior Brother, it’s best that you don’t go too far out.”
Xiaodong nodded and thanked them. Seeing the two outer sect disciples and the attendants walking away, he suddenly recalled something.
Something that he should not have forgotten.
The people that had already walked quite a few steps away stopped and waited for him to continue.
Xiaodong asked, “Old Crow, he… How is he?”
Only now did Xiaodong realize that he actually did not know Old Crow’s real name. He merely called him the way others did. Even now when he had finally managed to pull himself up, he still called him Old Crow.
The two outer sect disciples exchanged glances, looking a little lost. One of the attendants that were following behind them probed, “Old Crow? Are you possibly referring to Old Man Tan who tends to the firewood storage?”
Xiaodong did not even know his surname was Tan, but if he was the one tending to the firewood storage, then that should be him alright.
“He’s dead,” that attendant said, looking frightened as he recalled the scene. “His neck was broken. Someone discovered him by the bridge this morning. His body was already frozen stiff.”
The other attendant next to him realized these words weren’t good and tugged on his sleeves. The attendant finally recalled who he was speaking to and glanced at Xiaodong.
Xiaodong’s face was deathly pale. If the wind was even a little bit stronger, it might blow him away.
He couldn’t possibly be frightened, right?
The two outer sect disciples were a little frustrated. They did not think that a simple encounter and casual greeting would cause such trouble. If Xiaodong were to be scarred because of this, then it would truly be a frustrating problem. The one behind them that did not know how to read the mood would definitely get the worst of it all, but the ones bringing the two attendants around would most likely have to carry some of the blame as well.
They were not afraid of Master, but Eldest Senior Brother was the one who had the most say. He valued Little Junior Brother a lot, and the way he brought Little Junior Brother around looked as if he was bringing a son around. Not every single of these outer sect disciples treated Xiaodong seriously, but none of them dared to make a fool out of Eldest Senior Brother. If someone were to believe that Eldest Senior Brother was truly a good Samaritan without a temper, or that he was a gentleman that could be taken advantage of, then that someone would be very wrong.
They took a deep breath and did not dare to relax. The moment they raised their heads, they saw a person, dressed in a white robe with blue-lined long sleeves and silver embroidery, coming this way. Because he was in a rush, the front flaps of his sleeves were fluttering, and from afar, the robe looked as if it were a crane spreading its wings.
As the saying went, one should not speak of a person during the day, nor should one speak of a ghost during the night. Just earlier they thought of how troublesome this person would be, and here he was.
Aside from Xiaodong, the rest instantly turned stern and respectful in the face of Mo Chen. Even their breathing had grown a little slower and careful.
“Eldest Senior Brother?” Xiaodong asked. “Why are you here?”
Mo Chen stood next to the few people who were lowering their heads like quails and lightly nodded at them. Then, he slightly lowered his head and looked at Xiaodong. “Did you find it?”
He might not have noticed it himself, but he was a completely different person whenever he spoke to Xiaodong.
The outer sect disciples next to them, however, it was clear as day.
This bias was completely unconcealed. They, who had no pillar of support to lean on, could only silently watch on.
Xiaodong shook his head and said, “It’s not in the room. I want to head out to look for it.”
Mo Chen did not reply.
However, he understood it much better than Xiaodong. If it was not in the room, then he was afraid that it would be difficult to look for a pendant as small as that. Returnflow Mountain was huge, and wanting to find that pendant would be akin to finding a needle in the vast ocean.
However, right now, Mo Chen thoughts were the same as Xiaodong’s had been earlier.
No matter what, he had to help Xiaodong find that pendant. If one day was not enough, he would take two days. If a year was not enough, he would take two years to search if he had to.
He still remembered the time he returned and saw Xiaodong in a sickly state, looking as if he would fail to wake up. He hadn’t looked like a ten-year-old youth in the slightest. When he hoisted Xiaodong up to change his clothes, he was shocked at how light Xiaodong was. For a few nights after that, he and Jiang Fan took turns to look after Little Junior Brother. After feeding Xiaodong the medicine, he meditated at the side. Yet, he wondered why he could not calm his nerves at all back then. He would frequently open his eyes to look at Xiaodong, and he had even gone to check his pulse several times to ensure he was breathing before he was finally able to feel at ease. Even though Mo Chen was aware of it in his mind, but seeing the thick and wide blanket that looked flat and lacked the slightest upward crease – even though Xiaodong was lying underneath, it was as if underneath the blanket was only emptiness unless one looked properly.
“The mountain is still in unrest today. We are unsure if there are still intruders in the sect. Master has passed down an order that no one is allowed to head out today, to prevent any accidents from happening.”
Eldest Senior Brother’s words were logical, and Xiaodong understood that this was a huge problem. No matter if it was the assault he faced or Old Crow’s murder, these two incidents were definitely not all that had happened. Other, larger incidents might have happened in the sect.
“The door to your room is broken. For the next few days, find another place to stay.” Mo Chen said, “You can choose to either stay at Jiang Fan’s or my place. My place is a little more spacious.”
The others did not dare to interrupt, but who knew what they were thinking in their minds.
Was Eldest Senior Brother’s apartment really that good of a place to stay in? Though Eldest Senior Brother’s bias towards Little Junior Brother could make their eyes red with jealousy, they would not dare to switch places with Little Junior Brother even if they could. Master had a lazy personality, so Eldest Senior Brother had been managing the affairs in his stead for more than just a couple of years. They did not even dare to breathe too heavily in front of Eldest Senior Brother. If they really had to stay under Eldest Senior Brother’s constant supervision, how were they going to live through such frightening days? They wouldn’t even last a single day.