HSSB24: His defence
Hearing Yan Xu’s question, Yan Zhaoge raised his eyebrows slightly, “Who does Elder Yan think is responsible for junior apprentice-brother Ye’s death then?”
Yan Xu looked coldly at Yan Zhaoge, “What sort of scenario is this; are you in a position to ask questions here?”
“What you need to do now, is answer truthfully when questioned; there is not to be a word of untruth, or any quibbling to worm your way out of the situation.”
Yan Zhaoge laughed, “If I remember correctly, this is just a simple question-and-answer session, and not an interrogation. And even if it were an interrogation, it doesn’t seem like it should be you, the Eastern Tang’s Principal Elder, questioning me.”
“If you have already decided beforehand that I am guilty, then well, where’s the proof of that?”
Yan Xu remained unruffled, as he asked calmly, “That seed of Li Flame True Fire, whose hands is it in now?”
Yan Zhaoge answered smilingly, “Mine.”
Yan Xu turned to look at Sikong Qing, “Right before he died, did Ye Jing say anything?”
Sikong Qing was silent for a time, before she answered honestly, “He was shouting out senior apprentice-brother Yan’s name.”
“In what manner?”
“…… Angrily, unresignedly, and…full of hate.”
The Disciplinary Elder folded his hands, as he peaceful gaze once again came to rest on Yan Zhaoge, “Junior apprentice-nephew Yan, regarding Ye Jing dying in the Sealing Dragon Abyss, as the leading Martial Scholar, what do you have to say?”
While he was simply repeating his earlier question, it was clear that his current tone was slightly more serious than the one he had used earlier.
Yan Zhaoge said, “Firstly, there’s a point that I’d like to correct. At this point, junior apprentice-brother Ye is only missing; his death has not actually been confirmed.”
The Disciplinary Elder asked without changing his expression, “Why do you say so? What exactly did happen then?”
Yan Zhaoge retrieved a document, smiling as he said, “As the Martial Scholar in charge of leading a group of fellow clan members out on a mission to temper themselves, this having happened, I’d naturally have to write an incident report on this. It’s just that right before delivering it to the clan, I received the news of your arrival. Thus, I just decided to leave it on hand, and pass it to you here directly.”
The Disciplinary Elder fell silent momentarily, before he nodded, “Having come here this time, this old man’s original intention was also to bring your report back to the clan with me.”
He accepted the document. After having perused through it once, his gaze shook slightly, before he passed it over to Yan Xu.
Having read through it, Yan Xu frowned, “Your Internal Crystal Furnace dropped into the abyss and exploded, thus destroying Ye Jing’s physical body. Still, with a protective treasure on hand, Ye King’s soul was shielded from the blast, although his current whereabouts are unknown?”
Yan Zhaoge said, “That treasure, it was extremely extraordinary. I predict that junior apprentice-brother Ye will reappear in front of us very soon; my words will finally be proven then.”
“Of course, because of the Internal Crystal Furnace exploding, he may still be angry towards me.”
The King of the Eastern Tang Kingdom wrinkled his brows, “If what you say is true, Ye Jing should only be in the mid qi-directing stage right now? Usually, already nine in ten would die upon entering the Sealing Dragon Abyss alone, let alone someone with only his soul left intact, even falling into an abyss.”
Yan Zhaoge said unhurriedly, “That protective treasure of his; the aura it can emanate in an instant is extremely strong, and is not to be looked down on.”
Yan Xu stared at Yan Zhaoge coldly, “Ye Jing not returning; what have you to say about that?”
The Disciplinary Elder asked instead, “The seed of Li Flame True Fire; it was struck by the huge tide in the Dragon Sealing Abyss, and dropped down in front of you on its own?”
Yan Zhaoge answered, “Precisely so.”
The three bigwigs gazed at Yan Zhaoge, not saying a word.
Yan Zhaoge said quietly, “From the start, it was only Ye Jing himself who one-sidedly thought differently of me. If he does not provoke me on his own accord, to me, he is no different than any of my other junior apprentice-brothers.”
“As for the seed of Li Flame True Fire, I believe that the clan will prioritize it for the production of Internal Crystal Furnaces; for me to get it, would be very easy.”
‘Even if junior apprentice-brother Ye is still immature and lacks understanding, thus fighting over the fire seed with me, I would at most teach him a bit of a lesson, definitely not going so far as to kill him.”
“Moreover, there’s no need for me to stain my own hands; if I wanted to, there’re lots of ways I could make life difficult for him.”
Yan Zhaoge said in a peaceful tone, “I wrote this in my report, and I’m sure that this was also mentioned in the information that you received earlier.”
“Junior apprentice-brother Ye, was acquainted with the Ghost Hatchet Elder, Han Sheng.”
The Disciplinary Elder frowned, “What does that have to do with this matter?”
Yan Xu said calmly, “There is indeed enmity between Old Monster Han and I, but that is a private affair, not affecting the clan in the slightest.”
“Ye Jing being acquainted with him is not a problem; even this old man, would not bear a grudge because of such a thing.”
“If Old Monster Han were willing to drop our previous grievances, and resolve the long-standing grudge between us, why not? I would be willing.”
Yan Zhaoge smiled, “That’s, you gained the upper hand in both of your previous exchanges; Han Sheng lost out.”
But next, the smile on Yan Zhaoge’s face gradually faded, “But this matter did not simply have to do with mere grudges; the Ghost Hatchet Elder Han Sheng, was related to the abnormalities within the Sealing Dragon Abyss that we encountered there!”
The moment the words left his mouth, the entire hall was stunned.
The Disciplinary Elder, the King of the Eastern Tang Kingdom and Yan Xu straightened their backs, their gazes all coming to fall on Yan Zhaoge.
“How did you come to this conclusion?”
The pressure exuded by three Martial Grandmasters caused the atmosphere in the entire Great Hall to resemble that of a furnace.
Yan Zhaoge laughed, “Those who were present can all testify; when the Ghost Hatchet Elder first appeared, he did not discover junior apprentice-brother Ye. Rather, what he first said was, Who was it who wrecked this old man’s good plans’. So now we have to think about that; the Ghost Hatchet Elder’s good plans, what sort of plans they were.”
Saying thus, Yan Zhaoge presented them with two crystals, in one of which was sealed the red light which had reappeared within the black fog that had been present in the Dragon Sealing Abyss.
Within the other crystal, though, was sealed a blurry figure, the sinister figure whom Yan Zhaoge had forsaken the seed of Li Flame True Fire to chase down at the time.
Yan Zhaoge looked straight at Yan Xu, “Elder Yan, you are the most familiar with the Ghost Hatchet Elder, from this, can you discover anything?”
Yan Xu received the crystal, scrutinising it carefully, as the gazes of the Disciplinary Elder as well as the King of the Eastern Tang Kingdom also fell on him.
After a while, Yan Xu let out a long breath, before saying in a low voice, “I don’t know exactly what kind of sinister art this is…but it is indeed the handiwork of Old Monster Han.”
Yan Zhaoge serenely narrated his encounter with the sinister figure as well as the details of his pursuit, as the three Martial Grandmasters present all fell into deep thought.
What had happened inside the Sealing Dragon Abyss was not a minor thing, because it was related to the Earth Territory of days long past, what was known today as ‘Hell’!
After a long time, the Disciplinary Elder raised his head, asking, “What you’re saying is, Ye Jing was in collusion with Han Sheng?”
Yan Zhaoge shook his head, “I meant no such thing.”
“Junior apprentice-brother Ye and the Ghost Hatchet Elder were well-acquainted, to the point of even addressing each other as brothers. That is a fact.”
“How junior apprentice-brother Ye met the Ghost Hatchet Elder; how much he knew about the Dragon Sealing Abyss; how much he knew about that old man; whether he had any other intentions in joining our clan; these are all things that I
am unsure of, which require verification.”
Yan Zhaoge said, “In saying all this, I am only trying to prove that if I wanted to make things difficult for junior apprentice-brother Ye, making a move on him myself would be totally unnecessary.”
The trio simultaneously fell silent.
As Yan Zhaoge had said, this sort of thing having happened, while the clan would not take extreme measures against Ye Jing, carrying out a large number of interrogations and checks against him would be unavoidable. Just this alone, would be a lot for Ye Jing to bear.
Even Yan Zhaoge’s senior apprentice-uncle would have to reconsider taking in Ye Jing as a disciple, at least before the investigation had satisfactorily concluded.
“As I’ve said, junior apprentice-brother Ye is not actually dead. That treasure of his seems somewhat unique; and may perhaps help him to reforge a new fleshly body.”
“The next time he shows up, a lot of things would be known by just simply asking him; at the time, I wouldn’t mind standing witness against him in person.”
As Yan Zhaoge said that final part, he laughed lightly, “When that happens, we can perform a Blood Soul Recollection, showing the scene of what happened at the time; neither of us could be scared of the other trying to cover up their guilt then.”
Yan Xu asked gruffly, “Still the same sentence; what if Ye Jing doesn’t show up?”
“Three years, two years…a year? Or maybe even shorter,” Yan Zhaoge said mildly, “As long as no one deliberately wants him gone from the face of this earth forever.”
Yan Xu’s face was as sunken as water.
As he reclined on his chair, the King of the Eastern Tang Kingdom nodded slightly at Yan Zhaoge.
The Disciplinary Elder spoke slowly, as he considered Yan Zhaoge’s words, “I will relay the full contents of today’s questioning to our clan.”
“Personally, I believe your, junior apprentice-nephew Yan’s words, but, as you have said, it is time that will hopefully prove your innocence beyond the shadow of a doubt. If Ye Jing still lives, it would indeed be a cause for rejoice. The clan will continue searching for his whereabouts.”
At the end of the day, there was still no definite evidence which could point at Yan Zhaoge having deliberately caused Ye Jing’s death; not even convicting him of having caused it by accident was possible.
“Since we have finished discussing my matter, let’s talk about something else now.”
Yan Zhaoge abruptly questioned, “The one who reported on me, sending the news back to the clan beforehand, was the Spirit Wind Canyon’s Acting Elder, Wen Ningzhi, yes?”