The Shadow Guard is also the White Moonlight [Rebirth] Chapter 88

Chapter 88

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Fu Nian gripped the blade tightly and tensed, waiting for Fu Nineteen’s reaction.

A tense standoff.

“Little Nian, you’re really on guard against me, huh? Have you forgotten that I’ve been locked up in this cell for so long? There’s no way I would have any sharp objects, let alone a sword,” Fu Nineteen said with a sneer, glancing at Fu Nian’s poised movement.

Fu Nian’s grip on the blade didn’t slacken. “I killed Fu Zhen. I’m sure the jailer has informed you.”

“….I know Senior Brother has always believed in Fu Zhen,” Fu Nian added, “It might have been difficult for you to accept at first.”

Fu Nineteen grunted in acknowledgment, his voice flat. “I used to believe in our master and in you.”

Fu Nian didn’t say anything more.

It was evident that his senior brother had been deeply affected by their master’s sudden death. His former impulsive demeanor had disappeared, replaced by silence.

“After you died, our master consoled me, saying there might be a way to bring you back, but I would have to enter a state of feigned death as a bait. If things didn’t go well, not only might you not come back, but we might also meet at the crossroads of the afterlife,” Fu Nineteen said. 

Fu Nian: “First, I could come back, not because of Fu Zhen. Second… do you know how many living people he deceived into coming back, tortured, just to be used as medicine bait? Some of them didn’t even have all their internal organs intact, and they had to hang on, letting Fu Zhen refine this unrealistic and absurd elixir.”

“I understand. After all, we originally made a living by plotting for wealth and taking lives. Later, we aligned ourselves with the imperial family, gaining some positive reputation, but that doesn’t change the fact that we acquired wealth through ruthless and despicable means. He poisoned people to save you, and even if he failed, it was just a bad investment, and those lives were expendable.” 

Fu Nian: …

If it weren’t for Fu Zhen poisoning him first, causing him to die from the poison, none of these events would have unfolded.

“No matter how unforgivable our master’s actions were, he was still the saint who saved me when our family was destroyed,” Fu Nineteen said. “He was the one who raised me, my benefactor. You were the same. When we were young, our fellow disciples didn’t dare to approach me, but you… I thought, when I woke up, that you would return to the sect, and we would live together as we used to. We would accept new disciples into the sect, teach them martial arts, teach them the skills to survive… I didn’t expect that after years of slumber, everything has changed. What was once cherished now lies dead, and even mutual killings occur. Only I remain, stuck in the beautiful fantasy of the old days…”

Fu Nian moved his lips, feeling somewhat choked up.

After pondering for a moment, he continued, “I came today to ask where Senior Brother intends to go in the future, what he wants to do. The latter half of life is still long, and Senior Brother will meet new people, new experiences, and a life filled with prosperity and wealth.”

“Wealth and prosperity?” Fu Nineteen responded as if he had heard something extraordinary, raising an eyebrow.

“Yes. I should have died from the first poison outbreak, but thanks to Senior Brother secretly planting the Gu in the palace, I managed to survive for so many years. The Emperor allows you to decide your future freely and is willing to grant you land and abundant wealth.”

Fu Nineteen contemplated this for a while before speaking, “I understand. Have you finished asking?”

“Not yet,” Fu Nian continued, “According to the interrogator from the Ministry of Punishments, they haven’t been able to extract any hidden information from Senior Brother regarding the heart-connecting gu. So, from now on, you won’t be able to interfere with the Gu insects inside the Emperor, right? We’ve undergone extensive training in poison resistance from a young age, and conventional interrogation methods won’t work on us. Moreover, the Emperor owes you, so he won’t resort to severe torture.”

Fu Nineteen: …

Fu Nian could see the complex emotions on his senior brother’s face, which included anger, but not just resentment; there were also emotions that Fu Nian couldn’t quite understand.

“In your eyes, is it all about that sly old fox surnamed Chu? Or is there something else that matters to you?” 

“No,” Fu Nian replied firmly.

Fu Nineteen: …

More silence.

Fu Nian didn’t press further with his questions.

It wasn’t until a jailer entered and quickly asked for his decision before “inviting” him to leave that Fu Nian began his slow walk back from Wenmei Hall to Chengyuan Palace.

It dawned on him belatedly that his senior brother had probably wanted to ask him about how he had spent these past years.

Fu Nian stopped in his tracks and leaned against the palace wall, lost in thought for a while.

Senior Brother had always been strong-willed and never sought solace from anyone. Even the details of his life before being picked up by Distant Moon Sect were pieced together by him through fragments and conjecture. As far as Fu Nian could remember, except for that one time many years ago when he got drunk and tearfully confessed to being swindled by a Taoist priest in the capital for twenty taels of silver, he had never opened up to anyone else.

Could it be… that his senior brother had wanted to talk to him about something? Perhaps about his experiences over the years?

Realizing this, Fu Nian contemplated for a while, then hurriedly turned back towards Wenmei Hall.

However, before he could quicken his pace, a jailer approached him.

“Lord Fu, Fu Nineteen has already been taken care of. After you left, he decided to leave the palace. He asked for a fast horse and some silver, and he was just sent out the West Palace Gate. He didn’t mention his destination. Someone has already gone to report this to the Emperor, and I came here especially to inform you.”

He’s leaving the palace so soon?

Fu Nian hadn’t quite processed this information.

“No, he hasn’t gone far…” he mumbled to himself, almost instantly attempting to leap onto the roof and chase after Fu Nineteen towards the West Palace Gate.

However, before he could make the leap, his prosthetic limb was suddenly held back.

Fu Nian turned around, ready to rebuke, only to see a junior jailer bowing respectfully. “Lord Fu, the Emperor has reminded us that you are unwell, and you shouldn’t use your martial skills to leap around. Please take care of your health.”

Fu Nian: …

He recalled that the physician had reminded him yesterday to be more careful during this period. After all, the previous severe injuries had taken a toll on his fragile constitution.

Seeing that Fu Nian remained silent, the jailer took a small porcelain bottle and a wooden box from his sleeve. “This is something that Fu Nineteen asked me to give you before he left. It has been tested for poison and is safe.”

“What is it?”

“He said the wooden box contains a Soul Bell, and the bottle contains Death Spirit Incense, a type of incense. He only mentioned to ignite the incense and then use the Soul Bell. As for the specifics… I don’t know,” the jailer explained.

Fu Nian didn’t respond but silently accepted the items from the jailer.

Examining them in his hand, from their appearance, the bottle seemed ordinary, and the wooden box was unremarkable. Inside the box, the bell was stuffed with cotton and wouldn’t make a sound easily.

“If you want to know Fu Nineteen’s whereabouts in the future, we will dispatch Imperial Guards to follow him and report back to the palace. Lord Fu doesn’t need to worry,” the jailer added.

Back in Chengyuan Palace, Fu Nian went straight to his room and locked the door.

He placed the small porcelain bottle in the censer and watched the wisps of white smoke rise. He sniffed.

Death Spirit Incense.

The ominous name suited the scent—it was like the smell of decaying, barren land, with a strange odor as if a bone-like hand was reaching out from the ground.

They called it incense, but the smell was far from pleasant.

Fu Nian took out the cotton from the bell.

The Soul Bell had a crisp, piercing sound that seemed to strike directly at one’s heart.

The sharp, ear-piercing sound left Fu Nian feeling dizzy. He sat on the mat and soon laid down, succumbing to a wave of inexplicable drowsiness.

When he woke up, Fu Nian looked at his hands and feet.

They were small.

Even picking up the nearby grass roots took considerable effort.

He walked to the water’s edge and saw his reflection in the river.

A gentle face, especially with the teardrop mole below the eye, appeared somewhat androgynous. The red lips and white teeth could easily lead someone to mistake him for both genders. Although the clothes were worn, they were still adequately repaired, indicating a lack of wealth but care from elders.

It was Fu Nineteen…

He remembered how he had mistaken Fu Nineteen for a senior sister when he had first joined Distant Moon Sect.

He had blamed his eyesight at the time, but now he realized it might not have been his eyes at fault.

As he stared at the grass and fish reflected in the flowing water, distant voices of villagers reached his ears.

“I heard that in the neighboring village, many people died of an epidemic, as if they were cursed. It started with one family suddenly bleeding from all seven orifices, and they died at the village entrance, with the entire family wiped out. The villagers kindly collected their bodies. But what happened next was even worse; those young men who collected the bodies died one after another, and it’s unclear what kind of sin they committed.”

“Last year, they didn’t have a good harvest, and they didn’t make offerings to the temple. Maybe that’s the reason…”

“Who knows…”

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