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AIP - Chapter 125: A Lie More Real Than the Truth

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr

Following Zhao Xinguo's finger, Gu Changqing saw pale and haggard faces.

The Hawk Hall's people had been running for their lives this entire time to avoid the pursuit of the Basking Moon Sect. In truth, they were absolutely exhausted, but they had been enduring it all.

But there was a limit to how much they could suffer. Cultivators were also people, and they had breaking points!

While they had managed to achieve a miracle in their seven days of flight, they had paid far too great a price for this miracle.

Putting aside the fact that the majority of the ten-some Hawk Hall members had died in battle, even those spies planted in various parts of Sageheart had been mobilized to complete missions for the Hawk Hall, even at the risk of exposing themselves.

Godhead Palace had planted a total of three-hundred-some spies within the Sageheart Kingdom. In the space of seven days, thirty-some had died in battle, forty-some had been exposed, and at least half of the remainder had been implicated and would inevitably be exposed as well.

At present, excluding Tang Jie, Gu Changqing had five men under his command. The others had been killed in the pursuit or sacrificed themselves to hold off the enemy.

Zhao Xinguo had been able to endure a lot, but after seven days of this, he could endure no longer.

He wasn't like most of them. His father was a Celestial Heart True Person. He had come here to make a contribution to the sect and had never once thought about suffering so much.

When they had captured Tang Jie, he had seen some hope of achieving some merit. At that time, he had followed all of Gu Changqing's orders. Even when they were attacked in the bamboo forest and suffered terrible losses, he didn't care so long as he could return to Nadir Hill and get a few achievements to his name. With his father's prestige and status, this would be more than enough to extract some benefit from.

But the truth was that capturing Tang Jie wasn't the same as obtaining the Martial Mirror. They had been run ragged by ten days of flight and pursuit, and this young master had suffered enough.

Not all young masters were bossy, but all of them were unable to take much suffering. Actually, that he had been able to last seven days was a miracle.

Today, he had finally stepped forward.

A smile appeared in Tang Jie's eyes.

He knew that the moment he had been waiting for had finally come.

After all the pain, all the blood and tears, it wasn't just Zhao Xinguo who was fed up, right? But they were cowed by Gu Changqing's power and weren't willing to speak out.

In the face of Zhao Xinguo's criticisms, Gu Changqing replied, "I know that all of you have suffered a lot, but we waited three years for this very moment. We have already paid too much and lost too many people for the sake of getting back the Martial Mirror. Do all of you want all of this to be in vain?"

Zhao Xinguo coldly laughed. "The problem is: how do you know that we'll get anything from this? Perhaps it will be just as pointless as the last few times."

"I cannot guarantee anything," Gu Changqing firmly replied. "But this is exactly why we must grasp every available opportunity."

"What a joke! We have the person who knows where the Martial Mirror is right here, but we're running around and searching for ourselves! That's giving up on the trunk to seize the branches!"

"Then you go and ask him! If you can get anything out of him, I wouldn't even mind giving you all the credit!" Gu Changqing roared back.

Zhao Xinguo was instantly silenced.

It was absurd, of course. They had already used every method they could think of to get Tang Jie to admit where the Martial Mirror was.

But this fellow remained stubbornly quiet. Even when his life was threatened, he would simply smile and present his neck as if he was saying, "Stab me if you have the guts."

Gu Changqing had now pushed the problem onto him, and he was helpless as to what to do. He just rushed over and started beating Tang Jie up.

Taking out his saber, he pointed it at Tang Jie's throat. "It's all because of you that my Hawk Hall lost so many people. Since you won't hand over the Martial Mirror, what's the point in keeping you around? Better to kill you now so that no one gets it!"

Tang Jie lazily replied, "The Basking Moon Sect never had any plans of getting the Martial Mirror, so what's the point in saying that no one will get it?"

Zhao Xinguo spat at Tang Jie, "You bullshitter! Then why are they chasing us like frenzied dogs? If not the Martial Mirror, what else would have them putting in so much effort? A student's life isn't worth that much!"

Tang Jie chuckled. "A student's life naturally isn't worth that much, but the lives of Godhead Palace's Hawk Hall and numerous spies are extremely valuable."

When Gu Changqing heard this, his entire body shuddered. "What did you say?"

"You know what I'm saying," Tang Jie said, thick derision in his eyes. "You know about jailbreaks, I presume? People in jail are always thinking about escaping, but they have no idea that their real suffering begins only after they've broken free. All of you have always been thinking about trying to capture me, but you failed to realize… the moment you captured me, your true suffering began."

Everyone's hearts chilled at these words.

Had the Basking Moon Sect's attack and Tang Jie's help all been part of a trap?

Then… They didn't dare to keep thinking.

Tang Jie casually continued, "In truth, I gave you the answer long ago. It's just that you didn't want to believe me. Back in my hometown, there's a saying: suspecting the neighbor of stealing your axe. One day, a person lost his axe. He suspected that his neighbor stole it, so no matter what his neighbor did, he seemed like a thief. But after a while, he suddenly found his axe. When he looked at his neighbor again, he no longer seemed like a thief… If you suspect someone, you will find everything that they do to be suspicious. If you don't suspect him, then nothing he does will appear suspicious. Preconceived notions are terrifying things, making us ignore all other facts. In truth, once you think it over, many things start to make sense. It's just that none of you wanted to think about them."

Tang Jie raised his head and looked at the Hawk Hall members. "All of you are the same. Rather than saying that all the evidence proved that I am Tang Jiye, it would be better to say that you always hoped that I was Tang Jiye, so you couldn't see any other result and couldn't see any other possibility. Have you ever tried reconsidering this chain of events if I'm not Tang Jiye? You might discover that there is actually an explanation for everything that has transpired."

Tang Jie's voice lingered in their ears like the murmuring of a ghost. Gu Changqing's face shifted around as he repeatedly shook his head. "No… This is impossible…"

Some people still didn't get it, like Zhao Xinguo, this idiot, who urgently asked, "What are you saying? Why don't I understand it? What other possibility could there be?"

He grabbed Tang Jie's neck and yelled, "What the hell are you saying?"

But no matter how much he shouted at and beat Tang Jie, Tang Jie ignored him.

He just coldly smiled at Gu Changqing.

Meanwhile, Tang Jie's words continued to bounce around in Gu Changqing's mind.

"Preconceived notions are a terrifying thing…

"Once you think it over…

Have you ever tried reconsidering this chain of events if I'm not Tang Jiye…"

Gu Changqing's body began to tremble.

"No! Impossible!" He shook his head.

But another voice in his head told him that this was completely possible!

It was absolutely logical!

"The Basking Moon Sect…" His pupils suddenly widened as he stared at Tang Jie. "This was all a plot of the Basking Moon Sect? They had you disguise yourself as Tang Jiye so that we would take the bait?"

"What did you say?" All of the Godhead Palace disciples stared in shock at Gu Changqing.

Gu Changqing muttered, "Why did you intentionally announce your name before entering the academy? Why did you so easily find evidence that Qi Ming's men had entered your home? Why did Zhuang Shen fail his mission? Why did you so easily obtain the Sword Classic? Why did the Basking Moon Sect attack us as soon as we captured you… Because this was all planned by the Basking Moon Sect! Three years ago, they knew that we were looking for the real Tang Jiye, so they sought a target that could be used as a convincing fake, thus fooling us and drawing our attention away, allowing them to search for the real Tang Jiye. Of course, when necessary, they could also use him as bait for us to bite on. When we became certain that you were Tang Jiye and sacrificed everything to kidnap you, the Basking Moon Sect would have a justified reason to get rid of us!

"Their goal from the very start was us!

"This is why you warned us about the sneak attack! This is why you helped us escape!

"Because the Basking Moon Sect wanted us to run. While we ran, they would force out all the spies serving us and purge all of the informants that Godhead Palace had planted over many years!"

Gu Changqing stood up and furiously glared at Tang Jie. "From start to finish, you were doing everything you could to pretend to be Tang Jiye!"

As Gu Changqing spoke, various images automatically appeared in everyone's minds.

A secret plot concocted by the upper echelons of the Basking Moon Academy, unknown to anyone else… A youth who was selected and who joined the Wei Clan as an orphan and then entered the academy as a servant student, even declaring "I am Tang Jiye" in front of the academy gates… From that day onward, Godhead Palace's attention had been placed on this "Tang Jie", who dragged them along by the nose until they finally risked everything to try and kidnap Tang Jie, giving the Basking Moon Sect the perfect opportunity.

A heaven-shaking scheme!

Everyone was stunned by Gu Changqing's conjecture.

Compared to all the reasons and evidence they had that made them certain that Tang Jie was Tang Jiye, this explanation clearly made much more sense.

At least if Tang Jie was Tang Jiye, there were two problems that Gu Changqing would never be able to solve.

1. How could someone who had yet to reach adulthood develop so many ways to deceive Gu Changqing and have the Hawk Hall members running around like stray dogs!?

2. How was he able to resist the Soulscour spell!? The Basking Moon Sect could make trades for anything except this kind of secret technique.

But if this was all a conspiracy by the Basking Moon Sect, everything made sense.

The plan was made by the people of the Basking Moon Sect, the identity was forged by the people of the Basking Moon Sect, that declaration had been planned by the people of the Basking Moon Sect, the secret art had been passed on by the people of the Basking Moon Sect, the Anyang people had been bribed by the people of the Basking Moon Sect, and perhaps Zhao Xiliang had personally taught him about formations.

The box was just bait that would draw them into action. After all, the more places they went, the more spies they would draw out. Tang Jie was nothing more than a puppet on the stage. The people of the Basking Moon Sect were the ones behind everything.

Almost all the inexplicable parts now had a perfect answer.

As a lie, it was more real than the truth!

Even if they weren't willing to believe it, all of the Hawk Hall disciples despaired.

A Hawk Hall member muttered, "We were fooled… You aren't Tang Jiye… Everyone died in vain… in vain!"

He shouted, and then he dropped to the ground and began to cry.

"No! I don't believe it! He must be Tang Jiye! He must be!" someone else shouted in agitation, pointing at Tang Jie. But from the look on his face, it was clear that he didn't believe his own words. He was clearly just trying to deny the truth in the face of despair.

"Shi Ke, Wei Yu, calm down!" Gu Changqing shouted. "This is only a theory! A theory!"

"But the theory seems more like the truth," Kong Wulang said.

Gu Changqing froze.

He couldn't answer.

His mind was in disarray, and he couldn't sort things out, but he vaguely felt that there was a problem.

Tang Jie had pushed off the blame too cleanly.

He had instantly pushed all the problems onto a plot of the Basking Moon Sect, but Gu Changqing felt that there was some sort of problem. He just couldn't find out what it was.

In the middle of his disarray, Zhao Xinguo muttered, "It's over. We're done for. After so many deaths and so much suffering, it was all for a fake… Bastard! Since that's the case, there's no point in keeping you around! Kill!"

Zhao Xinguo hollered.

"Kill!"

"Kill!"

"Kill!"

"Kill!"

The other four shouted, their voices brimming with endless rage, both because of the fact that they had been played for an entire year and for their numerous brothers who had died because of this "plot".

Suddenly, Gu Changqing had a flash of insight.

Hold on!

He finally found out where the problem was!

Tang Jie shouldn't have brought this matter up, as this would only place him in danger.

Without the identity of Tang Jiye, the only conclusion facing Tang Jie would be death.

He stared at Tang Jie and found that Tang Jie was smiling at him.

He looked at Gu Changqing and noiselessly spoke two words.

Gu Changqing could read from the shape of his mouth what he was saying.

Celestial Mountains!

Boom!

Gu Changqing's mind exploded.

In his interactions with Tang Jie, he had never once mentioned that the treasury was located in the Celestial Mountains precisely so that he could draw Tang Jie into a slip of the tongue and make Tang Jie cease his meaningless denials.

And now, he had finally said it.

And it was no slip of the tongue!

He really was Tang Jiye!

At the same time, his five men raised their sabers at Tang Jie.

They wanted to kill Tang Jie and wash away all the suffering that had been caused by him!

Gu Changqing cast aside all apprehensions and shouted, "No!"

He thrust out his palm!

hypersheep325's Notes:

I was there from the beginning, and even I almost believed Gu Changqing's theory!

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Written by Yuanfen 0 缘分0. Translated by hypersheep325. Edited by Michyrr.