Records of the Dragon Follower
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 20: Motive
Lin Yan’s tone sounded very natural, just like any other guest who is curious about picturesque sceneries when it is his or her first time seeing them.
However, the problem was that Jiang Fan was deeply guarded against her, while Xiaodong was afraid that he would slip up and unintentionally expose something that he shouldn’t. His mouth was closed even more tightly than a clam shell.
“Oh, that’s Cloud Sinking Stream up front. The waterfalls now have all be frozen up. The scenery here looks pretty good during summer.”
Was there anything about Cloud Sinking Stream that was worth asking? Jiang Fan could not figure it out, even after thinking about it awhile. Initially, he had thought that Lin Yan was acting so friendly because she wanted to ask about Eldest Senior Brother. However, even after such a long walk outside in this incredibly cold weather, Lin Yan had not asked a single thing about Mo Chen. It was as if she was truly, purely here to tour the sceneries.
With how cold the weather was and how empty the place was, was there even anything remotely nice to see? The more he could not figure out her intentions, the more guarded Jiang Fan was against her. This was not like him, as Jiang Fan was famous for being able to talk. In the face of Lin Yan, he had focused his entire concentration and used all his capabilities, throwing lies left and right. He had yet to speak a single truth, and even Xiaodong felt that his senior brother was being a little much. Though, Lin Yan had actually listened attentively from start till end, and she did not express even the slightest bit of irritation.
The more good-tempered and patient she was, the more it made people feel that her goal was not as simple as it seemed.
The two of them were only able to escape from this trouble when the sky gradually became dark. Xiaodong held back the entire afternoon, and this time, he finally dared to speak up, “Senior Brother, Senior Sister had actually made us circle around the mountaintop, but the questions she had were all about the terrains… Just what is she planning?”
Jiang Fan had no clue either. “I’m not sure either.”
She was, after all, still their guest, and they couldn’t not tend to her needs.
“Could it be…” Xiaodong paused before he completed his thought.
Most people feel annoyed hearing others stop midway through their sentences. Could it be what? Complete your sentence, hey!
“It’s fine, just say it.”
Xiaodong leaned closer and whispered, “Is Senior Sister Lin inspecting the array on our mountain?”
Jiang Fan was stunned for a moment. “Array?”
He did not venture into this line of thought.
Jiang Fan was raised on this mountain since he was young, and he had often heard Master, Eldest Senior Brother, and other people talk about the array. Because of this, he had stopped thinking it was a significant matter. However Little Junior Brother had only arrived on the mountain not too long ago. He would still be doubly curious about the many things that he were unaware of.
To Xiaodong, things like the five elements and hexagrams, divinations and arrays basically only existed in legends. If he had not personally experienced the mysteriousness of the mountain array, he would have found it very hard to believe that the place he lived in had something as profound as an array. The people on the mountain might not feel a thing entering and exiting freely, but if outsiders were not being guided in, they would be unable to enter this place. The array was extremely profound, ferocious beasts like tigers and wolves, and even small creatures like mice and mosquitoes were isolated outside. Far more than the others, Xiaodong really wished to understand how it worked.
Today, he had accompanied Senior Sister Lin around for more than half a day. Xiaodong had nothing to do as Senior Brother Jiang did all the talking, so he secretly paid attention to Senior Sister Lin’s words and actions. Everything that Senior Sister Lin wanted to know about was related to the terrains and sceneries around the mountain. On one hand, she listened attentively to Senior Brother Jiang, and on the other, she carefully inspected everything in her surroundings. The array was still constantly on Xiaodong’s mind, so naturally, he would associate Senior Sister Lin’s words and actions with it.
Jiang Fan however shook his head. “That shouldn’t be the case.”
“The knowledge of arrays had long been lost. Even Master himself doesn’t know it. If she can learn the array just by looking around and asking questions, then the art of arrays wouldn’t have been referred to one of the top five mystic arts, along with the art of forging and the art of pill refining.”
That was true. Learning a lost knowledge just by looking around would be too unbelievable.
Xiaodong’s thoughts once again ran off the rails. “Senior Brother, why was the art of arrays lost?”
The other great arts such as forging and pill refining were still prevalent today, but there were barely any inheritors for the art of arrays. Was it because this art was especially deep and profound? Or was there some other reason behind it?
“Oh, this…” Jiang Fan said, “Well, because of the circumstances of this troubled world, the people that knew this mysterious art had all died.”
Senior Brother Jiang said it so casually.
People who could wield such strange arts should definitely possess more survival methods than regular people. Was it some sort of unforeseen event that completely out wiped these people? Just thinking about it gave Xiaodong the chills.
“Alright, drink more hot soup at night to warm yourself up and rest early. You must be freezing now since you stayed outside for more than half a day, right?” Jiang Fan pondered for a moment, and he still could not feel at ease. “Why don’t you come squeeze in my room for the night? It will be warmer with the two of us.”
“It’s fine, Senior Brother. I’m not that afraid of the cold now.”
Xiaodong was telling the truth. However, when accompanied by his little reddened nose and flushed cheeks, his words did not feel persuasive at all.
Jiang Fan was worried about him being alone. First, he was afraid that Little Junior Brother would get fever like before, and second, there were outsiders on the mountain. It wouldn’t be appropriate for Little Junior Brother to live alone. He insisted that Xiaodong switch to sleeping over at his place, and Xiaodong was left with no choice but to listen to his senior brother’s instructions.
In his heart, however, he did not want to switch at all.
He was still wondering if he would dream of Sword Conferring Peak tonight. What if he switched locations and wouldn’t be able to sleep as comfortably as in his own room? Would he be unable to dream of it then?
As he thought about it, Xiaodong was stunned for a moment.
His own room…
Earlier, he thought this way so naturally.
He did not treat it as his own room not too long ago. He kept feeling that he was living in someone else’s room and had never felt comfortable living there. However, right now, he was actually thinking of it as his own room came so naturally.
Just when did it begin?
It seemed like it was right after he had that fever. His senior siblings took turns taking care of him, and he had never been left alone. Though Xiaodong did not open his eyes, in his heart, he understood clearly. Eldest Senior Brother took care of him especially well, and had even given him much encouragement.
From then on, he had stopped seeing himself as a guest.
Senior Brother Jiang did not like to tidy up that much, so his room looked a little messy. A few pairs of dirty shoes were thrown to the corner of the room. Probably because of the cold weather, the attendants were being lazy as well and did not take them out to wash and dry them in time.
Jiang Fan did not feel the slightest bit embarrassed. He could sleep in any sort of environment, and even if he couldn’t sleep, he could still meditate throughout the night. However, Little Junior Brother couldn’t do such things. Jiang Fan retrieved the thickest blanket from cabinet for him to cover himself with. Xiaodong obediently took off his outer garments and placed them to the side. Then he raised the blanket and hurriedly snuggled his way in. He was as nimble as a monkey, and Jiang Fan wanted to laugh watching him.
Though, Little Junior Brother sure was obedient when it came to sleeping. The moment he laid down and closed his eyes, he stopped moving.
How could Jiang Fan possibly know that Xiaodong was actually fighting for time to get an early sleep? After all, that way, there would be a better chance that he could dream of Sword Conferring Peak.
Jiang Fan extinguished the candle light and then laid down at the side too. Usually he would quickly fall asleep as well, but since he had some heavy thoughts in mind, he couldn’t sleep at all, even after tossing and turning several times. The incident that happened in the day was still eating at him.
Given Senior Liu’s character, he was a person to be trusted. However, that couldn’t be said for the three disciples that forcefully came along. They definitely had motives of their own. Jiang Fan was currently hating himself for being stupid and not being strategic enough. If Eldest Senior Brother was here, he would definitely be able to see through their ploys and take control of the situation. As long as he was here, the junior siblings under him would have a pillar to lean on.
Xiaodong had already fallen into deep sleep. Jiang Fan looked at him again, tucked the blanket in for him, and then laid himself back down.
Probably because he was thinking about it the entire day, he got the dream he wanted that night. Or, it might because Xiaodong’s luck was good today and his wish was granted. In any case, he once again dreamed of Sword Conferring Peak.
Master and Senior Liu was talking in the distance, while Eldest Senior Brother was standing alone next to the cliff. He was currently lowering his head looking at something.
Xiaodong curiously looked down as well, and in front of Eldest Senior Brother was a rock. However, if one did not take a closer look, that person would most likely think it was a piece of ice. Xiaodong had seen such translucent rocks before. They were not worth much, and people often called them quartz.
Why was Eldest Senior Brother scrutinizing a rock over here instead of watching Master and Senior Liu confer about swords?
Eldest Senior Brother looked at the rock, while Xiaodong looked at him.
Even after passing the night on Sword Conferring Peak, Eldest Senior Brother did not languish at all. This managed to ease Xiaodong’s worries a little. Most likely, capable people would be able to live well wherever they were. Xiaodong kept projecting himself onto others, and was constantly afraid that Master and Eldest Senior Brother were suffering hardships.
Eldest Senior Brother sliced the rock. That large piece of rock was not entirely transparent, only the palm-sized squarish-looking part at its center was. Eldest Senior Brother then sliced this part out and held it in his hand. He inspected it in detail for a moment, before placing it down again.
Xiaodong was extremely curious. He wondered just what Eldest Senior Brother was doing with this piece of rock. It was both cold and heavy, and was rather in the way as well. He couldn’t see what use it had.
Master and Senior Liu were currently duking it out with their swords.
Though he said duking it out, it did not look like a serious battle at all.
Master was holding onto the sheath of Eldest Senior Brother’s personal sword, while Senior Liu was actually using his palm as a sword. After exchanging two blows, they stopped and talked for a moment. It really did not look like a serious duel.
Master’s voice rose a little as he summoned Eldest Senior Brother, “Chen’er, come here.”
Eldest Senior Brother walked over. Master then said, “Come, use the move I did earlier.”
Master used Senior’s earlier move, while Eldest Senior Brother thrust out a sword gesture with his fingers, and used the move Master used against Senior Liu earlier.
Master’s sheath twirled to the side, with an action that Xiaodong could not clearly see, and it landed straight at Eldest Senior Brother’s neck.
Xiaodong was this close to shouting out involuntarily.
However, Master was merely holding onto a sheath in his hand. Naturally, he wouldn’t really harm Eldest Senior Brother.
“No, no. Not like that. Again.”
Master shook his head, and then constantly repeated the same move with Eldest Senior Brother. Master constantly shot out the same attack, while Eldest Senior Brother repeatedly parried.
Eldest Senior Brother adapted differently to the attack each time. After trying out for the fifth time, Eldest Senior Brother shifted back his shoulder, and the blade of his sword pushed the sheath away. The collision of metal let out a crisp ringing sound.
Master was joyous. “Haha, that’s better. See, it can be blocked.”
Senior Liu simply shook his head. “But earlier, you’d already lost to this move.”
Master responded shamelessly. “That didn’t count. I didn’t fight you seriously earlier.”