"I heard everything."
Editor(s): namio, pnemnn
Everyone was stunned.
"It's over!" The carp yao said, "It's your superior inside! It's your Zhangshi!"
"What should we do?" Everyone looked at each other in dismay. Hongjun said, "I'll wake him up and apologize for the trouble I've caused."
Hongjun summoned up his courage and walked forward as the other three looked at him. In the end, it wasn't good to let Hongjun undertake the responsibility alone, so they followed him in. Hongjun carefully patted Li Jinglong's face and whispered, "Hey, wake up."
The carp yao said, "That's what you call waking up? Just slap him."
Hongjun frantically replied, "He's the superior! Are you bossing me around?!"
Without further ado, the carp yao went forward and slapped Li Jinglong with both hands on the spot, the pa pa resounding sharply. Everyone almost got scared out of their pants. They hurriedly exclaimed, "Stop!"
Li Jinglong quivered and woke up in an instant. No sooner said than later, A-Tai shrewdly took the task as he sturdily hit Li Jinglong on the back of his head with his zither. With a muffled sound, Li Jinglong was knocked unconscious again.
"Zhao Zilong, please stop making any more trouble ." Hongjun was already about to cry.
Qiu Yongsi was suddenly struck by an idea and said, "Why don't we lift him to the couch, loosen his tie first, and wait for them to wake up on their own. Everyone will pretend that this never happened. No matter what he asks, we'll all sing from the same hymn-sheet that they fainted due to heat stroke."
"Good idea!" Everyone said one after another.
Hence, A-Tai withdrew his hand from the strings. They untied Feng Changqing and Li Jinglong and carried them towards the couch where they made the two lie down side by side.
"That will do!" Qiu Yongsi said. "Brothers, let's go to the front courtyard and continue what we were supposed to do. Let's wait for them to wake up. When they come to, we shall face them with delight and ask, "Zhangshi, you're awake?" If we refuse to admit anything, they also have no way to investigate. Isn't that logical?"
Everyone said "good" in unison. Thus, they turned around to walk out. As they took a step, Li Jinglong coldly said behind their backs, "I heard everything."
Another wick of incense time passed. Li Jinglong's head was wrapped in bandages while Feng Changqing was fine as they sat in the main hall. The remaining four knelt on the couch, all smiling awkwardly.
"Zhangshi," Mo Rigen conscientiously said, "Today was a misunderstanding. After all, you thousands of shouldn't and ten thousands of shouldn't have to suddenly attack without asking questions first. You hurt our little brother…"
"How would I know?!" Li Jinglong bellowed in agitation. "That guy made me lose my official position and become the laughingstock for the Chang'an people. Who's going to clear up my injustices now?"
"Ah? Why?" Hongjun was hiding behind Mo Rigen and Qiu Yongsi and poked his head out as he asked.
Mo Rigen immediately pulled him back behind and blocked him. A-Tai spoke, "Everyone is here to do their utmost part for the sake of peace in Chang'an. How can you be so angry to take it all out to a pure and innocent with the heart of a newborn just because of a misunderstanding? This beautiful young brother is innocent…"
"That's enough!" Li Jinglong nearly fainted in anger.
"I'll play you a tune, Lord Zhangshi." A-Tai smilingly said, "May this singing voice dissolve your recalcitrant anger and may everything in the world…"
"Take your zither back!" Li Jinglong snarled.
Everyone fell into silence. A-Tai incoherently rambled about things that suddenly made the atmosphere eerie once again. Li Jinglong was filled with grief and indignation, which then all turned into nothingness. For a moment, he didn't know what should be done.
Feng Changqing suddenly stated, "That is to say, there are indeed strange yaos in Chang'an. You you you… What kind of yao are you?"
Feng Changqing pointed his trembling finger at the carp yao, who replied, "Are you blind?! Don't you recognize a carp…" But before the sentence could finish, Hongjun immediately blocked his mouth.
"You, come out." Li Jinglong pointed to Hongjun and said, "Don't hide behind them. I'll ask you three questions and I'll let the past be written off at one stroke."
Hongjun bowed as he stepped out from behind Mo Rigen and sat cross-legged in front of Li Jinglong.
"Did we fight hand to hand in that alley near Pingkang that night?" Li Jinglong asked.
"Yes." Hongjun replied.
Li Jinglong looked towards Feng Changqing who only said nothing.
"Where did you take me after you knocked me out?" Li Jinglong asked again.
Hongjun thought and gave a brief description of that night then added, "...But to tell the truth, it wasn't me who knocked you out, it was you…"
Li Jinglong raised his hand to stop Hongjun's speech and then turned to look at Feng Changqing, who kept silent and nodded.
"Did I do anything to Sang-er?" Li Jinglong asked once again.
"No." Hongjun observed Li Jinglong's complexion, not knowing why he had asked these questions.
This time, Li Jinglong turned his stance to Feng Changqing's direction and continued, "Everyone outside said that I am…"
Feng Changqing immediately interrupted, "All four of you, get out."
The four men hence withdrew as Mo Rigen turned around to close the door. Li Jinglong's anger came not only from one place as he continued, "...They say I'm the prodigal son of the Li family. I've depleted my family's wealth just to fulfill Lord Di's last wish. I served the Great Tang! I served the dynasty! Only to suffer from this unredressed injustice! No one believed in me! Now, a strange yao has appeared before you! Didn't you see?!"
Saying that, Li Jinglong pointed to the carp yao in the hall. The carp yao opened and closed his mouth, his two legs half-squatted on the ground as he stared at Li Jinglong and Feng Changqing.
The carp yao, "......"
Feng Changqing, "Why are you still here?! You too, get out!"
The carp yao was also driven out. The four men were waiting in the front hall. Hongjun couldn't help but be apprehensive. Everyone began to discuss when the carp yao ran towards them and said, "They are quarreling!"
Hongjun asked, "What are they quarreling about?"
"It should be the matter about wandering the brothels," Mo Rigen said.
A-Tai crept over. The other three also followed to eavesdrop. Only Li Jinglong's indignant voice could be heard in the room while Feng Changqing was silent.
"...The Longwu Army soldiers were laughing at me today! Yang Guozhong even wrote an essay about my life experience! No one stood by me to defend against these accusations, what can I say?! I've endured! People around the world have humiliated me in such a way that I have already seen all the supercilious looks along the way, but in my heart, I sneered at these groups of common people, all of whom were entirely and utterly stupid! And you?! Now you found that you've blamed me wrongly! Is this going to end up with nothing definite again?!"
"I was wrong." With a long sigh, Feng Changqing said, "What would you like to do? Take that kid to Chancellor Yang to set the record straight?"
The hall fell into silence.
Outside, the three men together looked at Hongjun. Hongjun vaguely guessed from the conversation between the two inside that the man was badly hurt… He felt like he was either in trouble or on his way to it, and he didn't know what to do at all.
"That's all," Li Jinglong coldly said. "One of these days, you will all see."
At this moment, the evening drum sounded. Li Jinglong once again spoke, "You can go back."
Feng Changqing earnestly said, "Great man, why fear those worldly rumors? Jinglong, I've wronged you yesterday, but it wasn't me who…"
Li Jinglong pushed the door open. The four men outside immediately separated with a "swish." A-Tai sat in front of the flower bed under the parasol tree while stroking over the strings of his zither, Qiu Yongsi looked up at the faded red paint pillars with his clasped hands behind his back, Mo Rigen began to lift the smashed window, and Hongjun crouched by the well while poking the carp yao's mouth with a twig.
At the thumping of the evening drum, Li Jinglong stood in the courtyard, looking sideways at Feng Changqing.
Feng Changqing came out propping on a walking stick, occasionally turning his head at the others as he passed by.
"If by any chance Chancellor Yang should come, you must hide the carp well." Feng Changqing admonished. "Otherwise, it will be given to His Majesty for the Imperial Consort to enjoy."
"He won't come," Li Jinglong coldly said. "Even if it's a yao, I will not give it to him as a plaything."
Hongjun and the carp yao gaped in astonishment. The carp yao couldn't help looking at Li Jinglong. With the sound of the evening drum, Feng Changqing left.
"Come in, all of you," Li Jinglong stated conspicuously, his tone imposing.
When they entered the main hall, Li Jinglong first fetched the water to let them wash their hands one by one and rummaged through the drawer to find incense.
"Who has fire folds?" Li Jinglong calmly asked.
A-Tai shook his finger. Shortly after, a plume of smoke rose from his ruby ring as flames ignited.
Li Jinglong widened his eyes, a little astonished. A-Tai smiled slightly and raised his eyebrow as if he had discovered some secret.
Li Jinglong said nothing. He lit the sticks of incense on the flame and divided them among the four others. He held three incense sticks, walked to the mural, and bowed three times to pay respect to the portrait of Di Renjie.
"Lord Di, the Exorcism Department reopens today. May your spirit and soul bless us and the Great Tang."
After Li Jinglong paid respects, he beckoned everyone to come and simultaneously stick the incense into the censer. Finally, he looked up at the mottled man on the mural before he turned around and left the main hall and dropped the word, "Disperse."
The sound of the evening drum was still far off. Everyone obliged and anxiously dispersed.
Mo Rigen squatted in the courtyard. The remaining three started chatting, looking towards the east wing from time to time. They didn't know what Hongjun had done to anger Li Jinglong. They speculated that he had taken him to the brothel that ruined his reputation. However, Hongjun didn't know what a brothel was. Thus far, they could only remain baffled.
Everyone summed up that Li Jinglong started to attack and disregard any reasons without perceiving the other side and became impulsive.
However, the most important point was neither who offended whom nor Li Jinglong's temperament, rather… Everyone was depressed, depressed because Li Jinglong was an ordinary human.
Supposedly, an exorcist who came to report for duty had more or less possessed abilities and was capable of absorbing yaos, but Li Jinglong was actually an ordinary human!
"His sword is very powerful," Hongjun said. "It can break through my Penta-colored sacred light."
"No matter how powerful the sword is, it is merely a magical weapon," A-Tai said. "How can you do that if you haven't got any abilities within you? Ai…"
Hongjun didn't want to say that Li Jinglong had absorbed the Heart Lamp. Moreover, it wasn't verified whether it was in him. After much deliberation, everyone was rather dejected. Mo Rigen fundamentally thought that the one governing the Exorcism Department should be a dab hand. A-Tai saw Li Jinglong as utterly boring. Qiu Yongsi thought the Zhangshi of the Exorcism Department somehow had some abilities to protect his subordinates.
However, seeing Li Jinglong's skill, apart from his high level martial arts and a magical weapon in his hand, he had no merits and inevitably few interests.
Speaking of whom, Li Jinglong came out of the east wing and went to the front courtyard to get the bedding, turning a blind eye towards them. They didn't say anything more, apparently remaining unconvinced by this Zhangshi.
"Then... What should we do next?" Hongjun asked.
"Let's wait for his instructions," A-Tai smilingly said. "He did whatever was told... Let's go back."
As A-Tai left, Qiu Yongsi spoke, "I don't want to follow after him to catch yaos;, but I still have to make efforts to protect him even though I fear death."
Qiu Yongsi then left. Mo Rigen shrugged and was about to ask Hongjun which room he would reside in when Hongjun told him that he would go see Li Jinglong first. Hence, he quietly went over.
Standing outside the east wing, Hongjun looked around as the moon was at its culmination, fully cooling the place in autumn. He saw Li Jinglong carrying the bedding in. The lofty silhouette was making his bed under the light.
"Zhangshi, do you need help?" Hongjun asked.
"Say nothing," The carp yao spoke from the side. "If you are sincere in helping, go in, ah."
Hongjun, "You, shut up!"
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Caro and opal.