Ouyang Nan had never been an eloquent talker. He had a guilty conscience to begin with, compounded with Qian Shanxue’s carefully planned questioning, it was as if he had already obtained some damning evidence. The situation didn’t look promising, and he was increasingly worried.
When the crowd saw Ouyang Nan’s nervousness, their suspicions grew, so did their whispering.
Grand Senior Brother questioned in a deep voice, “Ouyang Nan, whatever Qian Shanxue asks you, you shall answer accordingly. Do you not recall what you have done for the past three days?”
Grand Senior Brother and Qin Mieqin had thoroughly planned this for quite some time. They had expected that today’s questioning, and thus they prepared for it.
Ouyang Nan steadied himself and replied loudly, “In the last few days I headed down to Jiang City to visit some relatives. Would you like to take some of my relatives in for questioning?”
Shanxue stared Ouyang Nan down for a while. He said with a smile, “No need for that.”
Ouyang Nan sighed with relief, but Shanxue followed up with a smile, “I’ve already sent my men to check.”
Ouyang Nan exploded with anger. “Qian Shanxue you bastard! If you mess with my family, your head’s mine!”
There was a knowing look to Shanxue’s eyes. He chuckled, “Oh? If you really have nothing to hide, why do you sound so guilty?”
Ouyang Nan was about to argue, but Mieqin held him back. He said coldly, “Qian Shanxue, if you have any evidence, then show ‘em. What’s the point of beating around the bush?”
Shanxue chuckled, “Of course, there is always evidence.” He rang a bell, and the servant in black returned, but this time he was accompanied by a middle-aged man.
Upon looking at the man, Grand Senior Brother’s, Ouyang Nan’s and Mieqin’s expressions changed greatly.
Shanxue pointed at the man with a smirk, “Recognise him?”
A voice from the crowd yelled out, “Yes! He’s Tong’an City’s Treasurer Sun!”
The treasurer smiled and greeted the crowd. His chest bore the insignia of the Eastern Mountain Sect, who were mostly responsible for the management of materials used in the creation of talismans and arrays. The cultivators of the Spiritual Mountain Sect had mostly thought of ways to be self-sufficient or rather procure the materials within the sect. Very few would procure elsewhere. But the voice that rang from the crowd was no ordinary person, for he was one of Shanxue’s men, planted in the crowd.
Shanxue bowed towards Treasurer Sun with a smile, and said, “Treasurer Sun, please answer my questions accordingly, alright?”
Treasurer Sun hadn’t expected such nice treatment. He put his hands together and replied, “Certainly! If I were to lie, may I die a terrible death, never to reincarnate!”
“Good! So, did this man procure from you in the last few days?”
Treasurer Sun looked at Ouyang Nan, whom Shanxue was pointing to. Treasurer Sun nodded, “Yes!”
“What did he buy from you?”
“Some eastern rock powder, soul stones, dried earthworms.”
Some of the more knowledgeable members of the crowd began to yell in anger, whereas the other members of the crowd quickly inquired to understand their anger. Some of the more senior members of the crowd spoke up, “Idiots! Allow me to explain, these materials are used in the formation of large-scale destructive arrays! Furthermore, these materials have a very short shelf life. You can keep them for five days at most, hence they must be used almost immediately upon procurement!”
Ouyang Nan’s face grew pale. He quickly looked over to Mieqin for help, whose eyebrows were furrowed with worry. Mieqin looked at Grand Senior Brother.
Grand Senior Brother himself knew that if he didn’t step in, they'd be in deep trouble!
If they were found guilty, they’d be considered to have instigated the conflict between the other three heavenly courts, and then how? If they were found guilty, Hidden Sword Court would be finished! The other three courts would destroy them and then pretend they had never known them.
Grand Senior Brother spoke coldly, “Qian Shanxue, is this how you conclude a case?”
“The truth is as bright as day and we have our witness, how can I not conclude the case?”
The both of them stared each other down, with anger in their eyes. It seemed as if they were ready to fight each other on the spot. The surrounding atmosphere tensed, as if there was a standoff.
Grand Senior Brother said with a smile, “What’s the motive?”
Shanxue turned towards Kong Yunzhen, bowed, and said, “The bright Master Kong! Hidden Sword Court had destroyed Shiwu Mountain, indicating their malicious intent. The purpose for such an action is to instigate a conflict between the three courts, so they can capitalise on the conflict!”
Kong Yunzhen turned his sharp gaze towards those from Hidden Sword Court. “Is it true?”
Grand Senior Brother immediately said, “Master Kong, Qian Shanxue’s accusations are merely speculative. To bring two witnesses to state Brother Ouyang had allegedly bought the materials is insufficient evidence to prove that we’ve destroyed Shiwu Mountain. It is simply outrageous!”
Mieqin continued, “Master Kong, even if Brother Ouyang had purchased the materials, how does it prove that he had formed an array to destroy Shiwu Mountain?”
Shanxue chuckled slyly, “True, he alone cannot commit it, but with the both of you, that is surely possible!”
Grand Senior Brother spat, “Qian Shanxue, quit your slander!”
Shanxue turned to Kong Yunzhen and said, “Master Kong, these people wouldn’t confess to their crimes. How about we interrogate and torture them?”
Kong Yunzhen was not pleased with that suggestion. “Do you understand what you’ve just said?”
Mieqin was furious. “Qian Shanxue, you have no right nor the evidence to torture us!”
Shanxue cocked his head and laughed, “With Shiwu Mountain destroyed, Hidden Sword Court comes out on top while the other three courts suffer! How is that not a sufficient reason?”
Shanxue’s words resonated and whipped the crowd into a frenzy, who united against Hidden Sword Court. Many voices from the crowd yelled out, “He’s right! Now that Shiwu Mountain is in ruins, where do we get our spirit crystals? How do we use our magical items?”
“There are so few of them in Hidden Sword Court, whereas our numbers dwarf them in comparison. What do we do?”
“They’re definitely up to something!”
The crowd was growing angry. Grand Senior Brother and Mieqin shared a worried look, they were facing an increasingly hostile situation.
The biggest surprise was that Qian Shanxue had long set his sights on them! He had long orchestrated this to set them up!
Although he did not personally catch them forming any arrays, he planted the evidence and manipulated the crowd. This was enough to put them in a tight spot!
Kong Yunzhen looked at the trio with a distasteful stare, and said indifferently, “How do you wish to defend yourselves?”
Grand Senior Brother insisted, “Where is the evidence? These are baseless allegations!”
Shanxue interrupted, “How stubborn! As I’ve said, Master Kong, they would not confess to their crimes. Let’s torture them, and then they’ll spit out the truth!”
Kong Yunzhen looked at Grand Senior Brother, and then slowly nodded. Grand Senior Brother’s face grew pale.
As he was about to say something, suddenly a loud voice could be heard. “Master Kong, whatever Qian Shanxue said was baseless and ridiculous, or perhaps even laughable!”
Qian Shanxue turned towards the voice in anger, and saw a young man standing heroically in the middle of the crowd. He squinted to see who it was. It’s him? The one who had an ambiguous relationship with the Grand Senior Sister… the new disciple, Li Chengfeng?
TL Note: upload schedule now Mon, Wed, Fri! (i just got hired as an intern at a turtle hatchery and this is getting busier than i expected, but i still wanted consistent uploads for yall)