The Witch Nichang– Chapter 65
It was actually a fortunate thing to lose consciousness because I couldn’t feel anything while floating in the abyss, which spared me from pain.
So when the pain returned, I knew I was waking up. There was an unfamiliar voice next to me becoming clearer and clearer. It was saying “miss” in a soft voice—it was a man’s voice.
I finally opened my heavy eyelids. What came into my view was still the dark sky and Yunu Peak. I hadn’t been moved since. It might have just been a while. Nothing would change in a short time, but there was a small paper pack on the ground in front of me that came out of nowhere.
“Miss, you’ve taken a hit on your chest. It’s quite bad. If you put it off for any longer, I’m afraid it’ll become difficult to cure later. Take the pill in the pack if you trust me. It’s good for you.”
The voice stayed next to me. There was no one around me. Even though I couldn’t see anyone, I could hear the voice. It was a little hazy, making it difficult to locate its direction. I took a look at the fight over there. It was obvious that no one heard it except for me.
I helped myself up with my left hand. Just this one simple movement had me breaking out in a cold sweat on my forehead. I took two breaths to ease my breathing. Pressing my lips together, I picked up the paper pack and opened it. There were two pills inside. They weren’t big; they were dark and dull in the moonlight, giving off a faint scent of medicinal herbs.
“…who’re you?” Holding the medicine pack, I didn’t take it right away but didn’t throw it away either. I just looked ahead and asked calmly. My voice wasn’t loud, you could even say it was soft because it hurt to speak louder.
He heard it even though I spoke in such a soft voice. I heard a chuckle, followed by an answer. “I’m nobody. A passerby who lent a helping hand.” I chuckled at his words, but I couldn’t laugh out loud, so I lifted the corners of my lips and said with a smile, “So you’re the third oriole tonight?”
“Oriole?” He asked, confused.
“As the saying goes, the mantis stalks the cicada, unaware of the oriole behind. There have been three orioles lurking around and watching tonight. Ying Xiuyang’s the first, I’m the second.” Since I had said this much, I didn’t have to keep beating around the bush, so I made it clear, “As for you, the third oriole should be the stranger who sneered in the woods when they got together yesterday, right? I remember your laugh.”
Actually, I didn’t remember it so clearly. I just felt like it should be the case, so I tried to trick him.
“Haha, good memory, miss. I’m impressed.” I didn’t expect that it would go so well. He was straightforward. He admitted it frankly after bursting into laughter. He didn’t even try to deny it. “If that’s the case, then Miss should know I’m not with them. I have my reason to hide here, but it’s out of my sympathy that I gave the medicine to you. Don’t worry.”
Although he claimed that and I found no fault with what he said, it obviously wasn’t enough to clear my doubts. I opened my mouth and was going to ask more questions but I was cut off by a squeal.
The squeal came from the battleground. Although it was a man’s voice, it still made my heart skip!
I wheeled around, and in the pale moonlight, I saw a cold flash and then a person rolled out of the battleground, stumbling away while screaming. There were injuries all over his body. Four fingers had been cut off his indestructible iron palm, and it turned into a bloody hand!
He was trying to run for his life, but someone wasn’t letting him away. The girl in white leaped into the air, swinging an arch midair with her sword to ward off several weapons coming from the back, and she grabbed with her left hand like a goshawk swooping down on a rabbit and caught the belt of the man who lost his fingers. She sneered and said, “Your iron hand can’t match mine!” After that, she flung him outward and literally threw his body down the peak of Mount Hua. I could hear only a faint squeal amidst the raging wind getting further and further away until I could no longer hear it.
Earlier when I woke up from my blackout, my attention was drawn to this mysterious man, so I didn’t pay much attention to the fight. I knew that Zhuo Yihang had switched sides, the Seven Master’s formation had been cracked, and Lian’er was no longer in danger, but I never thought things would change so quickly. Maybe the time I was out wasn’t as short as I imagined.
Now that there was one less person, they would probably beat them like a hot knife through butter. I wasn’t worried about anything but I was afraid that Lian’er wouldn’t spare anyone when she was on a killing spree. I couldn’t talk to him anymore. I raised my voice and shouted to the other side, “The righteous ones, listen. Now you have a witness. It’s clear who’s right and who’s wrong. Why are you still holding out? Get back quickly. We hold no grudge against those who don’t know the truth. Mount Dingjun promised that we’ll be even after tonight!”
They were in the middle of a dogfight. The Taoist-looking man and another swordsman looked at each other. They got even more hesitant but were afraid to stop and they replied, “Who are you? Can you make decisions on behalf of Jade Rakshasa?”
“Her words are my words!” After getting rid of the Iron Hand, Lian’er seemed to have loosened up a bit. She was finally in the mood to speak, then she shouted, “I’m ready for the kill. Taoist Qingsong, Swordsman Songyang, you both are from an orthodox sect. If you don’t back off now, I’ll drag you to hell with me!”
Perhaps her words were what they were waiting for. As soon as she finished, the two of them had put away their weapons and leaped out of the battleground. After saying their thanks, they left in a hurry without looking back. The three remaining men knew that it was over, and their faces turned ashen. As the person responsible, the scrawny old man Ying was even more anxious. He suddenly jumped back and sent five daggers with a flick of his hand toward Lian’er at lightning speed.
The girl smiled, “What are these scraps for?” As she spinned her sword, the five daggers were broken and sent back to him. Who would have thought this seemingly attack turned out to be a cover. As soon as the daggers were released, the old man wrapped himself with his clothes and rolled down the peak of Mount Hua! Unlike being thrown off the peak, there might be a chance of survival even though it was dangerous to roll down close to the cliff wall. It was much better than staying here like a fish on a chopping board.
He fled so suddenly and without any hesitation. The two remaining men were dumbfounded for a moment before it occurred to them to follow him, but it wasn’t that easy anymore. The girl and the man split up, each chasing after one man. Lian’er was chasing after the frivolous young man. I guessed it was because she held it against him for trifling with her earlier.
That person’s martial skills weren’t the best, but his qinggong was good. Unfortunately, the one coming after him wasn’t anyone else. Before he could go far, the girl had caught up to him in a few jumps. With a wave of her hand, she planted three silver needles in his vital parts. The person screamed and staggered. Lian’er went up and thrusted her sword once more in his chest, kicking his body off the peak.
It went well on her side, but it wasn’t the case with the other side. Zhuo Yihang panicked and called, “Miss Lian, it’s more important to catch Zheng. He’s old crook Ying’s right-hand man!” But it was too late. The man they were going to catch imitated what the old man did and rolled down the hillside. Lian’er gritted her teeth and lifted her sword. She said, “Go after him!” Suddenly, there was someone answering from the hillside, “Hold your horses! I’ve caught him for you.”
The voice wasn’t loud. It sounded like having a casual conversation with someone at the hillside, but every word was clearly articulated. The two who were at the edge of the cliff were startled. I heard it from afar but wasn’t as surprised as them because I was talking to the voice a moment ago.
In the next moment, a person came as fast as a meteor and showed up at the same time as his voice. It was a young man not older than thirty with a dignified air. His facial features weren’t that striking, but they made him look radiant and gave off a sense of righteousness. He was holding a person under his arm. As soon as he landed on the peak, he let go of the person. I looked to the ground, it was Zheng who got away just now.
This person had shown his impressive martial skills the moment he made his appearance. I saw from afar that Lian’er was wary of him. It didn’t bother him, and he looked at Lian’er and asked, “Are you Jade Rakshasa?” Then he pointed at Zhuo Yihang and said, “And who’s this?”
His attitude was casual. It suited his demeanor, but it was definitely something Lian’er wasn’t fond of, so she sneered and answered, “So what if I am?” The man beside her cupped his fist reverently and said, “I’m a pupil of Wudang’s grandmaster, Taoist Ziyang. My surname is Zhuo, first name Yihang. May I ask what’s your name and where are you from?”
That person returned the salute and said, “My name’s Yue Mingke. Let’s talk about the important matter first and talk about where we are from later. What do you want to do with this traitor?” The girl’s face turned cold and said, “Since you’re the one who caught him, you decide.” With that, she flung her sleeve and turned around, walking straight over to me with a displeased look on her face.
I was still observing the situation. When I saw her walking over, I didn’t know what to do for a moment and forgot to put away the paper pack in my hand. Then Lian’er came in front of me and crouched down. She asked me with a worried look on his face, “How’re you doing?” Then she saw the thing in my left hand. Her brows creased right away, and she asked, “What’s this? That’s not ours.”
It wasn’t a good idea to hide it from her at this point. It wouldn’t be necessary either. I looked at my hand following her gaze and said honestly, “Something that person gave it to me. He sneaked over and gave it to me while you were still fighting just now. He said it’s good for me.” What I said made Lian’er’s face fall. She snatched the paper pack, got up, and questioned the man, “Yue, what are you up to giving my partner this kind of dubious thing!?”
The man was talking to Zhuo Yihang. He glanced over when he heard that and arched his brows with a smile and said, “It’s you who was so preoccupied with the fight and left her alone. I saw her passing out at the side and no one came to her. I was worried that her injury would get worse, so I got out of hiding and gave her the medicine. You would know if there’s anything wrong with the pill once you test it. Why are you so quick to accuse me?”
“When did I leave her alone? Don’t you spew nonsense!” Lian’er was provoked by these words and almost got angry. She was half-smiling which meant she was on the verge of blowing up.
“I’m just being honest. When have I spewed nonsense?” The man should have seen Lian’er anger, but he wasn’t afraid. He still had his head high and replied frankly, “It’s considerate of you to draw away your opponents earlier, but later when you got help and got the upper hand, you could have beat them within a hundred moves, yet you tormented your opponents as you pleased and totally forgot about your wounded partner. I guess you only know about her passing out now that you heard it?”
“Alright!” I couldn’t stand it anymore. Ignoring the pain, I cut them off with a loud voice.
I couldn’t let him continue. This person might do it out of kindness, but his words insinuate blame to Lian’er. Listening to it made me uncomfortable. I shouted, took a breath, and said, “Young Hero Yue, thank you for your concern and your medicine, but you probably don’t know much about my Lian’er, so why judge and jump to conclusions?”
After I was done, I had no time to observe his reaction. I reached out my left hand and tugged at the sleeve of the girl next to me. Looking up at her, I said softly, “Lian’er, don’t be angry…”
My biggest concern now was that she couldn’t hold in her anger and start a fight. I had a faint memory of this name, Yue Mingke, so I knew Lian Nichang shouldn’t become his enemy, and it wasn’t good to become his enemy either. I couldn’t let her ruin her life because of me, otherwise, my existence was just a trouble.
With that thought, I was ready to persuade Lian’er until she gave in since no one knew better than me how irritable this girl was, but I didn’t expect that she would crouch down again with just a few words and a light tug.
Lian’er’s face was a little surly, but I couldn’t see how she was feeling from her face. Only the moving of her cheeks showed that she was gritting her teeth. She opened the paper pack without a word and took out the pill. First, she took a closer look and sniffed it, even crushing up a little and putting it into her mouth, then she looked up and met my eyes. She said as she passed it to me, “I have better medicine in the stronghold. It slipped my mind to bring it this time. This will do for now, take it. Take the pain off a little.”
“Lian’er…” She didn’t blow up. I was surprised. I could tell she wasn’t happy about it, so I didn’t feel like taking the pill and said, “I should be fine. It’s just a broken hand. This medicine won’t heal my bones anyway. It doesn’t matter if I take it or not.”
Who knew I received a glare as soon as I finished. Lian’er said vexingly, “Does it look like a simple broken hand? It’s true that I don’t know much about sickness, but I know about injuries. I know better than you how bad it is. Stop fooling me!” After that, she reached over and stuffed the pill into my mouth like candy, then carefully wrapped the remaining one and put it away in her clothes. She got up and turned to shout at the other person, “Yue, I owe you a favor, and I’ll keep your words in mind. I, Lian Nichang, am someone who knows gratitude from grudges. I’ll repay you ten-fold in the future if I get the chance!”
She said she knew gratitude from grudges. I wondered if she held gratitude or grudges against him, maybe both.
I wasn’t sure if Yue Mingke got it. He made nothing of it and said with a smile, “I’ll wait for it if there’s a chance.” Then he changed the topic and said, “Jade Rakshasa, Brother Zhuo and I are thinking about interrogating this Zheng Hongtai guy to find out the details about their liaison activities with Manchuria and their accomplices. Since you’re the one who came after them, why not come and listen in?”
My mouth was all bitter with the pill in my mouth. I couldn’t help but frown. I thought Lian’er would definitely walk over to them, but who knew she lowered her head and glanced at me before looking up and grunted. She smiled coldly but didn’t move. Instead, she bent down. It caught me off guard as I was still confused. After a moment of dizziness, I realized she had picked me up in her arms. Perhaps she was simply following what Master did back then, but embarrassment kicked in after the initial shock. Just as I was about to say something, a wiggle sent a bout of pain, almost knocking me out.
“Don’t move. It’ll hurt if you move and make it harder for me to carry you!” She didn’t know why I did that. When she saw me moving, she frowned and scolded me. The next moment, we were in the air. The wind suddenly kicked up, and my vision swayed. I heard the girl leave a word, supposedly for the two men on Yunu Peak.
“I’ve been watching the old crook Ying for a long time. If you got anything out of him tonight, I have ways to know about it. No need to waste time listening in!” Lian’er said loudly, “She’s heavily wounded. It’s more important to get her to the doctor. I’ll leave the rest to you guys!”
 A Chinese idiom. The figurative meaning is to pursue immediate gain while neglecting the greater danger behind. Danger being the oriole.
Sorry I’ve been away for a while. I’ve been busy lately. Now I’m trying to get the chapters back on track again. If you’re interested in early chapters, you can check out my Kofi page. Any support would mean a lot. („• ֊ •„)