Chapter 175 - System vs. System (25): Game set, a plea for innocence, and walking into the trap
Chi Xiaochi wasn’t very bored even after waiting three days and nights up in Ming Yue House.
He still meditated and practiced strictly according to the morning bell time or recited scriptures. He even condensed a piece of moonlight with his hands into a sword shadow and danced without the slightest sense of being imprisoned.
In his spare time, he would also try to lower his dantian in such an open and empty place to shout loudly and test how far his voice could travel.
Once, a pa.s.sing bird was frightened by him and angrily threw several bubbles of bird droppings at him.
Chi Xiaochi crossed his arms and laughed.
When he had laughed enough, he sat on the edge of the un.o.bstructed thousand-zhang terrace. He put his legs down, felt the dust-free breeze blowing from high above, and closed his eyes to recuperate.
Duan Shujue said, “Sir, can you tell me something?”
Chi Xiaochi said, “You can rest a.s.sured about the plan. Although it’s a bit difficult, dragging the surnamed Yan down is no problem.”
“No.” Duan Shujue said, “This humble one wants Sir to say something else, do something else. It’s not for this humble one’s sake, but for Sir’s sake.”
Chi Xiaochi was startled, and then he broke into laughter.
Duan Shujue was indeed as written in the book. He was pure and upright and gentle as jade. He was clearly a sword cultivator but very kind and innocent, like a Confucian scholar.
Chi Xiaochi asked him, “If you didn’t need to pay a price and relived your life with your memories, would you go ahead and strike Yan Jinhua in advance?”
“People’s choices might not be the same in a new life. If he can repent, I naturally don’t need to resort to killing.” Duan Shujue replied seriously, “But if he has other plans, I will not condone it. Even for the sake of Ye-Xiong, I also need to take good care of myself.”
“…But,” Duan Shujue added, “If, at the time of the public trial, I am really powerless to return to the sky, I would choose to escape the mountain with Ye-Xiong.”
“You don’t want your reputation?”
Duan Shujue said, “Without him, how can I have my reputation? Heaven and earth are furnaces, and everything is copper. I would rather turn into a furnace of copper juice with him, standing by each other and never to be separated, then cause him to come up the mountain to rescue me and repeat the same mistakes of the previous life.”
Chi Xiaochi said, “Okay. I’ll remember.”
Duan Shujue laughed and said, “Sir, you’re still talking about this humble one’s matters.”
Chi Xiaochi said, “I’m not important.”
Duan Shujue said, “But you are very important to ‘him.’”
Chi Xiaochi said, “And you know?”
Duan Shujue wrote word by word, “When Master looked at you from behind, his emotion and appearance were like he was admiring the moon.”
Chi Xiaochi smiled. “You’re still a poet.”
Duan Shujue said gently, “This humble one is only telling the truth.”
Chi Xiaochi said, “He might be looking at you.”
Duan Shujue said, “Sir, why bother deceiving yourself?”
Chi Xiaochi didn’t hide it. “Because I like him, ah.”
Liking someone, the advantages and disadvantages were endless, but one of its apparent repercussions was intellectual disability.
And Chi Xiaochi needed enough sobriety to deal with what will happen next.
In the early morning of the fourth day, the sun had only just powdered the green hills when several sword energies came from the west.
The leader of the group was Su Yun.
He had a good personal relationship with Duan Shujue and trusted his character, but everything that happened in the Valley of the Lost b.u.t.terflies was complicated and confusing. He didn’t know what kind of att.i.tude he should face Duan Shujue with, so he did things in a businesslike manner to collect his thoughts. “The public trial begins. Bring Duan Shujue.”
He ordered Duan Shujue to take the elixir to restrain his body, and then he shared a sword with him to bring him down from Ming Yue House.
The venue of the public trial was the Phoenix Terrace.
All the inner disciples in the mountain, more than 1,300 people in total, arrived to watch the trial.
Wen Yujing’s unexplained disappearance caused an uproar in the mountain.
Although he liked wandering around, there was no reason for him to leave rashly on the way to slaying a demon. Additionally, his lost umbrella sword and the b.l.o.o.d.y white robes alarmed people.
Ren Tingfeng had ordered the news to be suppressed, but somehow, it was useless.
There were many rumors in the mountains. People were panicking, all of them saying that Duan Shujue had a wolf’s ambition, united with the Hui-viper, killed his Shifu, and betrayed the Dao. Some people even confused Ye Jiming with the evil Jiao in the Valley of Lost b.u.t.terflies. It was rumored that Duan Shujue originally planned to work in tandem with the snake to kill all the cultivators who went there. Unexpectedly, their strategy was discovered by Little Wen Shishu. Duan Shujue had to go against the rules and strike to kill. This was spoken with nose and eyes, as if it were carrying a surveillance monitor right under the crotches of the master-apprentice duo to follow the whole process.
Even if Chi Xiaochi thought with his appendix, he knew which grandson had done this.
So, when he was sent to Phoenix Terrace, he was in a stable state of mind.
In contrast, Yan Jinhua was more excited and even wanted to sing “A Good Day.”
As an important witness to testify against Duan Shujue, he had been gearing up for three days. He was waiting for the blow to pull Duan Shujue down from the top in one fell swoop, his nose bloodied, his face swollen, his bones crushed, and his body torn.
He lost his little brother. There was no sword in the stone, no disciple, and no refined mountain ghost pills. Every plan he had was wasted step by step, and his mentality had already collapsed to pieces.
His desire to see Duan Shujue fall flat on his face for once had far outweighed his quest for mission completion.
The five Jingxu Peak Lords were all sitting on a high platform. When the disciples saw the hour approaching, they stopped shouting and waited for the public trial to begin.
After the bell chimed three times, Chi Xiaochi knelt on one knee, his eyebrows lowered, and he was extremely obedient.
Because of the disappearance of his shidi, Chi Yunzi hadn’t slept for several nights. He tried his best to maintain a calm tone toward Duan Shujue, but he couldn’t hide his coldness. “Duan Shujue, I wanted to hear about the Valley of Lost b.u.t.terflies three days ago. How will you explain it?”
Chi Xiaochi explained one by one the Mo Xie Array’s bizarre appearance, Wen Yujing’s disappearance out of thin air, and Ye Jiming’s emergency rescue, all answered according to the facts, without tampering.
Chi Yunzi frowned when it came to Ye Jiming, the Hui-viper, that popped out halfway.
He asked, “This monster is acquainted with you?”
Chi Xiaochi replied, “Yes.”
There were subtle whispers among the disciples.
“Did you make friends after entering the mountain, or is it an old acquaintance?”
Chi Xiaochi replied, “We met in the past.”
“Where did you meet?”
Chi Xiaochi said clearly, “Jingxu Peak, Yuguang Pool.”
Yan Jinhua: “…”
He was waiting for Duan Shujue to lie. For example, claiming that he and the Hui-viper didn’t know each other for long or didn’t know each other at all, he would be able to hold the evidence and slap his face, but Duan Shujue told the truth. He was just about to continue listening, looking for mistakes and omissions, when Duan Shujue named him.
This was an opportunity to take the initiative, but he became pa.s.sive instantly. Yan Jinhua’s angry breath of air was stuck in his chest cavity, unable to go up or down. It was so suffocating that his eyes wanted to roll back.
The information that Ye Jiming and Duan Shujue were privately kept in Yuguang Pool was already reported to Chi Yunzi and the other Peak Lords. This could prove that the two had a strong personal relationship, and it was unclear whether there was long-time collusion. But the other disciples below didn’t know about this information.
Everyone immediately burst into discussion, and suspicious eyes turned to Yan Jinhua.
Yuguang Pool? Could this have anything to do with Yan Jinhua?
Unexpectedly becoming the center of everyone’s attention, Yan Jinhua’s face was hot, and his back was numb.
But he soon calmed down.
The snake-tooth necklace on Duan Shujue’s neck was ironclad proof that the two were familiar with each other.
Wen Yujing was detained, and it was impossible for him to come back and protect Duan Shujue.
Even if Duan Shujue wanted to throw dirty water, how could he prove he was an innocent white lotus?
Considering this, Yan Jinhua felt he was as stable as an old dog this time and would lie down and win.
After all, it was difficult for a person to prove that they hadn’t done something as complicated as ascending to the sky.
He stepped out, fell to the ground, and said sorrowfully, “Shifu, please forgive me. This disciple took in the injured Duan Shujue privately out of kindness, which violated the rules of Jingxu Peak. But Shifu always taught us that we should have good intentions and follow the path of heaven. Duan Shujue was a merman, born between heaven and earth, with a heart and feelings. When this disciple saw that he was pitiful, he felt a surplus of compa.s.sion for no reason, but he didn’t want to lead the wolf home, but he didn’t know he would be so bold…”
This explicitly self-deprecating bragging gave Yan Jinhua a saintly halo of a thousand kilowatts and revealed Duan Shujue’s true ident.i.ty directly to the world.
Chi Yunzi’s face changed. He turned his head slightly, closed his eyes, and did not speak.
On the other hand, the crowd of disciples exploded.
Duan Shujue was a merman?
Then what was his purpose in entering the mountain? Was it really a wolf’s ambition?
This gossip was frequently heard in Chi Xiaochi’s ears.
He had already heard all kinds of rumors. No matter how ugly it was, he wouldn’t take it to heart, but would only take it as them introducing themselves.
But he noticed that his right hand was clenching unconsciously, and the tip of his thumb gradually filled with blood.
…These words, these discussions. Duan Shujue had huddled in the alchemy room in his last life and heard enough of it.
And what happened next was a nightmare deeply ingrained in his mind. He was always stunned for a long time when he would wake up from his dreams in the middle of the night.
He was living a new life. Did he have to face the same situation again? Would he cause Ye-Xiong to die again?
Rather than that, it would be better…
Chi Xiaochi was as motionless as a mountain.
He said to Duan Shujue, “Calm down.”
Duan Shujue used his thumb to write on the side of his finger. “…Yes.”
Chi Xiaochi said, “Trust me.”
After a while, he felt the tight grip on his palm lighten.
“If the situation becomes unsalvageable, let them see the explosive Duan Shujue.” Chi Xiaochi knelt firmly on the spot, “For now, I’ll let Yan Jinhua meet the troublemaker Chi Xiaochi first.”
He raised his head and calmly looked at everyone on the stage.
He had already informed Chi Yunzi of his ident.i.ty, so these lords on the stage were aware of Duan Shujue’s ident.i.ty as a merman, and they wouldn’t feel much consternation.
On the other side, Yan Jinhua was still mouthing off, tongue running all over the place. He wordlessly embellished one big hat after another for himself, “Duan Shujue was raised by me in the Yuguang Pool, benefited by Jingxu Peak, and taught by Wen-Shishu. But he never thought about returning the favor and didn’t respect his teacher! A few days ago, this disciple was firstly wronged and humiliated for no reason. Then a mysterious thunder descended the day after and landed on Huaishou Peak. Perhaps it was a warning from heaven…”
Chi Xiaochi quietly listened to him finish his fart.
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To be able to refine the skin on his face to such thickness, thy mother was a talent.
That was a correct guess. He added 10 points to his IQ. The current score was minus 50, and there was a lot of room for improvement.
Before leaving Yuguang Pool, after Duan Shujue exhausted himself to sleep, Chi Xiaochi searched the entire Yuguang Pool, swept it inside and out, and removed the snake scales and molts that Ye Jiming had shed after he was ten years old. All fading scales and sloughs were collected and destroyed, leaving only snake molts and scales under ten years old.
He thus buried a solution b.u.t.ton for himself early and opened the door to a dead end for Yan Jinhua.
And Yan Jinhua lived up to his expectations, slamming right into it, thinking he had a big advantage, and joyfully went to report it.
To tear the lies apart, he only needed to ensure an unexplainable loophole appeared in his complete system of lies. Then, his lies would be destroyed, and his whole game would collapse.
Chi Xiaochi said, “Yan-shixiong, dare I ask, when did you discover this thing?”
Yan Jinhua’s carefully prepared script was completely overturned. It was like working all night to prepare for the final exam, only to discover that he had reviewed the wrong book when the paper was handed out. He was highly fl.u.s.tered. He opened his mouth and said, “It was after that day with the compet.i.tion with Wen Shishu! I saw you wearing that snake-tooth necklace all the time, and I was suspicious, so I went to inquire…”
Chi Yunzi’s eyes were cold. “Yan Jinhua, you didn’t say that at the beginning. When you told me, you said that you found snake scales and only then went to Huaishou Peak to question Shujue.”
Yan Jinhua’s face had changed from iron blue to pig liver. “This disciple–that’s exactly what this disciple means. As Shifu said, I found the snake scales and was suspicious, so…”
Chi Xiaochi interrupted him, “Yan-shixiong, there are still questions this shidi wants to ask, may I?”
Yan Jinhua barely contained himself from pouncing and gagging his mouth with a sock.
Chi Xiaochi ignored the look in his eyes that wanted to kill and said slowly, “Dare I ask, on the day when we went to Valley of Lost b.u.t.terflies to capture the Hui, which shixiong was with Yan-shixiong in the Moxie formation?”
Yan Jinhua wanted to vomit blood.
He figured it out. Duan Shujue was not a good person. It was the killing and punishing heart!
Ren Tingfeng shook his head first and glanced at the disciples who had gone with him that day.
Yan Jinhua wasn’t a physical challenger in the first place, and getting lost in the formation was normal. His presence or absence wasn’t the disciples’ concern as long as he didn’t die.
But now that the line of sight had changed, they realized that he had disappeared in the formation alone for a long time.
Yan Jinhua, whose stage was demolished by Chi Xiaochi, almost screamed, “Duan Shujue!”
The troublemaker Chi Xiaochi’s face was gentle and courteous. “Why are you calling for shidi?”
Yan Jinhua forced himself to say, “I just got separated. You traveled with Wen Shishu. Wen Shishu disappeared, and you were still holding the bloodied robe in your hand. How are you going to explain it?!”
Chi Xiaochi said, “Shifu did disappear for no reason. The disciple really doesn’t know why. But this disciple firmly believes that with Shifu’s ability, he will definitely return.”
Yan Jinhua seemed to see a ray of light.
In modern public relations, wasn’t Duan Shujue’s trick called mutual destruction, and then implementing the procrastination trick to buy more time?
Yan Jinhua couldn’t care about what was too low or too forced. He heartbreakingly kowtowed like smashing garlic. “Shifu! Duan Shujue’s words can’t be trusted! Mermen are inhuman and extremely cunning. He just wants to make Shifu and Shishus misunderstand me and then use fancy rhetoric to lure Shifu and Shishus to relax their vigilance. Once the plan is achieved, he will take the opportunity to escape! Please, Shifu and Shishus see clearly, and believe this disciple’s innocence!”
The disciples looked at each other.
Right now, the situation has developed into a headless public case where the public that speaks is correct, and the Buddha that speaks is also correct.
But this was the best situation that Chi Xiaochi could bring about on his own.
A pool of water was muddled, Chi Yunzi would not rush to judgment, and he might even be detained with Yan Jinhua.
How could Yan Jinhua not think of this?
At this critical moment, he didn’t want to be dragged into the water, and he broke out with a full desire to survive. His a.n.a.lysis was as fierce as a tiger. “Wen Shishu has lost his weapon, and his life and death are unknown. This is the focus of this case, isn’t it? Duan Shujue brought up the matter of the Hui-viper first to divert the subject and then said that this disciple was alone that day. Isn’t he trying to get rid of the crime of killing his Shifu?”
He turned to Chi Xiaochi and said sternly, “You have sharp teeth and a hard mouth, but explain where Wen Shishu went?”
“…Well, that is a good question.”
As soon as his words fell, a weak but still clear voice came from the crowd.
This voice was too familiar, and the five Peak Lords on the stage suddenly changed their expressions, got up one after another, and looked at the crowd.
Initially, Chi Xiaochi, who was going to have a few words with Yan Jinhua and wait for the court to adjourn, suddenly turned pale. His back stiffened, and he didn’t even dare to turn his head back for a while.
And in the steep silence of the Phoenix Stage, Wen Yujing, dressed in white and holding a wooden box, slowly walked up from the bottom of the jade stairs step by step.
In just a few short days, he became thinner and paler. His long hair was simply bundled up. His clothes were whiter than snow and dotted with red. The person was incomparable to the light clothing and seemed like he would be scattered in the wind. A horrible scarlet whip scar crawled up his neck from his disheveled front lapel, extending to his cheek, his lips pale, and the corners of his eyes were slightly red.
His usual cold and n.o.ble air were reduced a bit, and his tone was more mockery: “Yan-shizi, why don’t you properly explain it to my shixiongs?”
After speaking, he threw the wooden box in his hand to the ground.
A head exuding intense demonic energy rolled out of the broken box and met Yan Jinhua face-to-face.
Yan Jinhua jumped several times in just a few seconds, and now he was paralyzed on the ground, gasping for breath, unable to utter a single syllable.
He managed to regain his senses and screamed inwardly, “System! System! What’s going on?!”
There was silence.
Yan Jinhua: “…system?”
System…when did the silence start?
Why was his storage house greyed out? Why can’t he turn it on?
And as Yan Jinhua was fearful, a wisp of transparent energy that had been quietly accompanying Chi Xiaochi from half a day ago caressed his lips, smiled soft and silently, and gradually dissipated into nothingness.
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