Chapter 970: A Favor
Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
Old Man Mu had taken Shi Qingjue to a brothel, which had attracted some people’s attention. It was with this clue that the monk named Lian Qing had managed to track them down to the Department of Guards.
Lian Qing was willing to give up avenging his elder brother’s murder, but his impression of the Dragon King was quite poor. A vigilant look appeared on his face the moment he stepped into the Department of Guards.
Long Fanyun recognized Lian Qing, and said, “Hello, monk.”
“Um,” Lian Qing replied in a gruff voice. His eyes swept around the department and then rested on Long Fanyun. “You still haven’t recovered from the injury in your legs?”
“They’re incurable. Even Doctor Sun can’t heal them.”
Lian Qing didn’t really care about Long Fanyun’s injury. He moved his eyes onto Red Bat. “Aren’t you… Instructor Shangguan’s deputy? Why are you in the Dragon King’s place instead of the Kun Society?”
“That doesn’t concern you, monk. You’re not here to pry into anyone’s domestic business, are you?”
Upon hearing the words “domestic business,” Long Fanyun felt both warm and embarrassed, so he let out a light cough. Lian Qing scratched his bald head and suddenly understood. “Oh, I see. You’re right. That’s not why I’m here. Please ask the Dragon King to come out. I want an audience with him.”
“Long Fanyun is the one who calls the shots in the Department of Guards. Whatever it is you want to talk with the Dragon King about, you can talk to him about,” said Red Bat.
Lian Qing pondered it over for a while and then said to Long Fanyun, “Old Man Mu took away a monk from the Four Noble Truths Temple. Please hand him over.”
Long Fanyun only knew that Old Man Mu brought a stranger back. Because that person had been directly sent to the Dragon King, he hadn’t asked about the details. At this moment, he didn’t know how to answer Lian Qing. Red Bat spoke again. “That’s weird. Old Man Mu never left Jade City. When did he go to the Four Noble Truths Temple?”
“Er, Old Man Mu didn’t go there. Jueqing came to Jade City of his own accord. Last night, someone saw him and Old Man Mu go to… Gold Nest Alley. They returned to the Department of Guards this morning.”
Gold Nest Alley was a place in southern Jade City where cheap brothels were densely located. Red Bat had never heard of this place before, but judging from the amused look in the guards’ eyes and their smile, she knew that it was not a good place. So, she snorted lightly and said, “So Jueqing went with Old Man Mu of his own will?”
Too embarrassed to answer the question, Lian Qing became angry. “Long Fanyun, who’s the head of the Department of Guards? You or this woman?”
“What did you just say?” Red Bat asked in a severe voice.
“It was my fault. Amitabha. Please pardon me, female benefactor.” Lian Qing bowed and apologized sincerely. Red Bat couldn’t take any further action.
Having generally understood the situation, Long Fanyun said, “That Jueqing is a secularized monk, right?”
“He is. It’s been less than three day since he was secularized.”
“It doesn’t matter how many days it has been. The key is that he no longer has nothing to do with the Four Noble Truths Temple now, since he has been secularized. So why are you here, asking me to hand him over?”
Lian Qing became somewhat anxious. “Jueqing was indeed secularized, but he took something away from the Four Noble Truths Temple… I’m here to try to persuade him to turn back from his wrong path and becp,e a monk again.”
“He has even been to Gold Nest Alley. The Four Noble Truths Temple still wants him to be a monk again?” asked Long Fanyun. All of the ten-plus guards laughed, but upon seeing the serious look on Red Bat’s face, they hurriedly stopped laughing.
Lian Qing was running out of patience. “No matter what, please ask Jueqing to come here. I want to have a word with him. Whether he goes with me or not will be left to his own discretion. The Department of Guards won’t force him to stay, right?”
Having no idea what the Dragon King’s plan was, Long Fanyun didn’t dare give any reckless answers. He was wondering whether he should inform the Dragon King or not when Old Man Mu’s voice came from outside. “So it turns out that this matter is so simple. He’s right here. You can ask him right now.”
Shi Qingjue followed Old Man Mu into the department’s main area, trying to avoid being seen, as if he were afraid of being punished for something bad he had done. When he saw Lian Qing, he put his palms together and said, “Martial Uncle Lian Qing.”
In fact, Lian Qing had become a Buddhist monk much later than Shi Qingjue. It was just that he happened to be indentured to an eminent monk, so his status was higher than that of Shi Qingjue. When he saw Jueqing dressed in secular clothes, he involuntarily furrowed his forehead. “Jueqing, why are you dressed like this?”
“I… Martial Uncle, my new name is Shi Qingjue. I’ve already been secularized, so this is the way that I’m supposed to be dressed in.”
Old Man Mu added, “He’ll be wearing a military uniform in a short while. From now on, he is a soldier of the Dragon Army. Ha-ha. Rest assured, monk. He won’t suffer any losses. Last night-”
Lian Qing hurriedly interrupted Old Man Mu and looked around. Knowing that these people were not going to let him talk with Jueqing in private, he had no choice but to lower his voice and say, “Jueqing, nobody is trying to stop you from resuming a secular life, but the Four Noble Truths Temple has raised you since childhood and has always been good to you. You shouldn’t have traded the confidential information of the temple for wealth and position the moment you were secularized. You forgot about all of its previous kindnesses, which is very ungrateful.”
Shi Qingjue’s face was full of shame. Old Man Mu walked up to him, raised his head, and looked at Lian Qing before saying, “First, he didn’t forget about the Four Noble Truths Temple. Last night, when he was having the best time of his life, he kept yelling out the name of Buddha. Can you imagine how deep his love for Buddha is? Second, you said that he traded confidential information for wealth and position, which is terribly wrong.”
“The roll with the names of all eminent monks is… ” Exasperated, Lian Qing tried very hard and managed to subdue his anger.
“The roll with the names of all the eminent monks is a confidential document of the Four Noble Truths Temple?”
“Of course it is.”
“Shi Qingjue was merely a common receptionist. How could he access a confidential document?”
“He didn’t have the clearance, but his master shifu has. He must have seen it by accident and taken it.”
“Wait. You said ‘take it’. The roll in the Four Noble Truths Temple is gone? It’s nowhere to be seen?”
Lian Qing knew that they would only end up arguing over meaningless details if he contradicted him, so he ignored Old Man Mu and instead addressed Shi Qingjue who was behind him. “Jueqing, you must think twice. A single slip can cause a long lasting sorrow. Even if you hold no gratitude to the Four Noble Truths Temple for its kindnesses, do you not care about your master shifu’s reputation either? If the information in that roll is divulged, then your master shifu will be held responsible.”
Shi Qingjue’s face fell ashen. Old Man Mu consoled him. “Don’t worry. We’ll get your master shifu out of the temple as well, and he’ll also become secularized. You’ve just taken a glimpse of this pleasurably and material world and you haven’t had your first taste of the real fun yet. The Dragon King and I will make sure that you and your master shifu will never want to be Buddhist monks again.”
“My master shifu won’t resume a secular life… Unlike me, he’s an eminent monk… ”
“Your master shifu holds no grudges against you.” Lian Qing decided to strike while the iron was hot. In a mild voice, he continued to try to persuade him. “The Monks of the Four Noble Truths Temple come from various countries. They left their homeland because they wanted to sever their connections with the secular world. If that roll falls into the wrong hands, then do you know how dire the consequences will be?”
“What do you mean by ‘the wrong hands’?” Old Man Mu became angry. “Do you by any chance think you’ve converted yourself from a bandit to a ‘good person’ just because you shaved clearly? I swore an oath that I would never kill again. Do you think that this change is enough? I was reborn. Nobody managed to do something like this before, and nobody will ever be able to do it ever again. Do you think that I’m still a ‘villain’? Monk… ”
Old Man Mu kept nagging self-indulgently. Lian Qing ignored him and just stared at Shi Qingjue, hoping that he would recover from the brink of the precipice.
Shi Qingjue lowered his head and weighed his decisions, the color of his face alternating between normal and red. Suddenly, as if having made up his mind, he raised his head and said, “Martial Uncle Lian Qing, please go back to the temple and tell my master shifu this: Jueqing is steeped in sin, and I’m beyond redemption in this incarnation. However, I won’t bring him any trouble. The roll is in my memory, and I’ll try to forget it as soon as possible and never tell anybody anything about it.”
“Good.” Lian Qing was relieved.
Old Man Mu watched Shi Qingjue in puzzlement, thinking, ‘If he is lying, then this lie is perfect, which proves that this young monk is a man of great potential. But if he is telling the truth…’
But Shi Qingjue’s face hadn’t returned to normal yet. “But I’ve already written half of it down and given it to… the Dragon King.”
Taken aback, Lian Qing abruptly turned around and yelled aloud, “Dra-”
The Dragon King was standing right at the gate, as if he had been listening for quite a long time. Beside him stood a teenage servant. Lian Qing choked down the rest of his sentence, let out two coughs, and said, “Dragon King, please give me the roll that was written by Jueqing. That thing is of no use to you. The Four Noble Truths Temple is not your enemy.”
“Does the Four Noble Truths Temple have any enemies?”
“No. Buddhist monks stand aloof from the secular world. How could we possibly have any enemies?”
“Then why are you afraid of the information in the roll being divulged?”
“In this world, there are always…” Lian Qing stopped himself in time. He knew that he wouldn’t be able to win this argument with the Dragon King. “Dragon King, Instructor Shangguan has been laboring away for you, and Martial Uncle Fachong has already agreed to expel the evil internal energy in you… ”
“Do I detect a note of threat?” asked Old Man Mu.
Lian Qing put his palms together and bowed. “No matter what, Martial Uncle Fachong will keep his promise, and there’re no strings attached. As for the roll, the decision is at the Dragon King’s discretion.”
After saying this, surprisingly, Lian Qing closed his eyes and started reciting a sutra in a low voice in the hall of the Department of Guards. Involuntarily, Shi Qingjue followed suit. Old Man Mu punched Shi Qingjue’s abdomen, who instantly let out a pained cry and recalled that he was no longer a Buddhist monk.
After waiting for a while, Gu Shenwei said to Shi Qingjue, “Go and bring the roll here.”
Shi Qingjue gratefully nodded and hurriedly ran out of the hall. In a muted voice, Old Man Mu said, “I went through a lot of trouble and finally managed to snatch him from Golden Roc Castle. It won’t be wasted just like this, right?”
Old Man Mu was exaggerating the difficulty of the task. Gu Shenwei ignored him.
Shi Qingjue ran back into the hall with a stack of paper, dithering over to whom he should give it to.
“Take it. All the pages are here,” said Gu Shenwei.
Lian Qing opened his eyes, showing a very surprised expression. He took the stack of paper, folded them twice without even reading a single page, stuffed it into his front inside pocket, and said, “Dragon King, there’s no doubt that the Four Noble Truths Temple owes you a favor. Even if nobody else cares about it, I, Lianxin, will never forget, and I’ll return this favor sooner or later.”
In this instant, Lian Qing seemed to have wholly converted away from the bandit he used to be.
Then he said to Shi Qingjue, “I hope that you conduct yourself well from now on. Your hair will grow, but make sure that your evil intentions don’t grow with it. The Four Noble Truths Temple cannot accept you any more, but there are plenty of temples in the world. If you don’t want to live in a temple, then you can also achieve enlightenment by cultivating at home.”
“Thank you for your instruction, Martial Uncle. I’ll never forget it.” Shi Qingjue was deeply abashed, droplets of cold sweat welling up on his forehead.
Old Man Mu lightly sighed, thinking that a young promising successor had been ruined just like that.
Lian Qing left in large strides. Old Man Mu shook his head and said, “Dragon King, to be honest, you’re bound to lose your capital in this business. I think that it’s very likely that this monk won’t keep his promise. “Returning the favor” were just some fancy words. The moment he returned to the temple, he might tell those monks that Dragon King forced the little monk to write another copy of the roll.”
Shi Qingjue bowed. “I won’t write those names again. And I believe that the Dragon King won’t force me to. Alas. Farewell… ”
“From now on, you’re the registrar of the Department of Guards. You will answer to the head of the Department of Guards.”
Shi Qingjue was briefly stunned and then hurriedly knelt down and expressed his gratitude.
Gu Shenwei walked towards the outside. Suddenly, Red Bat, who was behind him, loudly said, “Dragon King, I think that you did the right thing.”
Gu Shenwei didn’t pause, but Old Man Mu did turn around and giggled, “I know that those words were meant for me. Come on. Let’s have a debate and get this straight. Long Fanyun, you should listen carefully now: do not help your woman… ”
Gu Shenwei returned to his room. He had just reached his desk when Qin Yeming got the paper ready.
Li Xiaozhu – Gu Shenwei first wrote down this name, and then, stroke by stroke, he added two Chinese characters beside the name – Guansheng.
The words “Dear Guansheng” were the opening of the unfinished letter written by Wei Song before his death. He had not made up a story. It was not until Gu Shenwei saw the name “Li Xiaozhu” in the roll that he had finally figured out who this “Guansheng” was.
Zhu and Guansheng seemed like a first name and a middle name that matched. This connection alone was still too faint, but this Li Xiaozhu also used to be a subject of the Central Plains, which gave Gu Shenwei every reason to be suspicious of him.