Chapter 251 - Internal Fight
Three days had passed.
Ghost Li had been keeping vigil in Ghost King’s stone residence. His countenance had changed from the initial calm and indifference to uneasiness and then anxiousness, and now he was already full of frustration and impatience. To him, even though he was prepared that a long period of time would be needed to study this exceptional astrolabe but he never expected that it would take three days. And the crucial point is, although three days had passed but Mr Ghost seemed to not have made any progress.
According to his initial thought, when Mr Ghost ﬁrst encountered this astrolabe he triggered a change in it. By right he should be more knowledgeable about this treasure and it would not be that difﬁcult to comprehend its ingenuity after a few days of study. But who could know that in those three days, as he kept vigil beside Mr Ghost, he saw him keep ﬂipping the treasure back and forth. Not only constantly looking at it, Ghost Li even felt that Mr Ghost was memorizing every ancient character on the tiny moving cubes. However, Mr Ghost seemed to be in a dilemma. Or maybe it should be said that while studying this treasure, Mr Ghost had met with a huge problem, and after a few days made no progress.
Ghost King residence was much bigger than the other stone rooms in the mountain. It was divided into two rooms, the bigger outer room where Mr Ghost and Ghost Li were in, and the smaller inner room which was naturally Ghost King’s bedroom. Although he was not in but in these three days neither of them stepped into the inner room. With their cultivation, not to mention three days and nights, even if it were ten days and nights without sleeping they could also endure it well.
However, the most agonizing part was, the word ‘waiting’.
For three days, Ghost Li had never left this room. Xiao Hui naturally also stayed here too, but due to its restless monkey nature, three days in the same place was suffocating for Xiao Hui. But right now Ghost Li and Mr Ghost were still staring at that astrolabe and couldn’t be bothered about Xiao Hui. Xiao Hui scurried here and there in the room. In those three days it had already checked out every corner, and right now it leapt up onto the big study desk often used by Ghost King. No one in the sect dared to do that but right now the owner was far away, and nobody stopped it.
Xiao Hui was bored. One moment it lay down on the big table, the next moment it climbed up, the next moment it danced, the next moment it lay down with its belly exposed until, at the end, being too bored alone, it awkwardly sat up and kept scratching its head, its mouth making [zhi zhi] sounds, peering around and looking for things to play with.
Although the room was big it wasn’t huge and so naturally, the monkey’s gaze went to the inner room. Xiao Hui turned its head around and looked at Ghost Li and saw his somber face was rather hostile; clearly he was not in a good mood. Mr Ghost was focusing on studying the astrolabe in his hands, occasionally looking up, glancing up at Ghost Li and again looking back.
The two of them clearly had all their attention on the astrolabe. Even if they had a little more alertness, at most they only looked at each other. Nobody had the least concern about the monkey over here. Xiao Hui shrugged its shoulder and pursued its lips. It made a [zhi zhi] noise twice, then swished its tail twice and turned around, glanced at that inner room, and then jumped down from the table, and slowly walked over.
The furnishings in Ghost King’s residence were not luxurious; instead they were extremely simple. Evidently the owner of this place did not care for secular luxury. The outer room was like this and the inner room too: a wooden bed, a round table, three round stools, and four calligraphy paintings on the walls. The ﬁrst was a landscape, faint ink in white, a secular feeling; the second was a painting of spring, birds ﬂying up to the ﬂowers, full of spring; the third was a tiger crouching in the grass, a different feeling from the other two - the tiger was awe-inspiring, its stance powerful, clearly looking at the world with a dominating glare.
Xiao Hui naturally did not understand the paintings. They looked no different from a white banner but for the last painting, the tiger looked lifelike, and Xiao Hui was shocked initially upon looking at it. It quickly got over it and, grinning at the tiger and making a funny face, it spat some saliva at it with a [pei]. The three paintings were hung in a row on the inner room wall, complementing each other. Although the paintings conveyed different meanings but at a glance they seemed to be in harmony, in a self-forming pattern. And contrasted against these three paintings, on the other side of the wall, was a solitary painting.
There was no landscape in the painting, nor any ﬂowers or birds. It was a beautiful lady, and this was a meticulous drawing, extremely ﬁne and detailed, down to the last ﬁnger and earrings, all of which were extremely realistic. Not only that, her digniﬁed beauty involuntarily evoked a feeling of adoration from the viewers. It could be said to be a rare painting in the world.
But what was a rare painting to humans would, to the monkey’s three eyes, obviously be very much discounted. Without any expression of being moved, Xiao Hui glanced at it and then looked back to the tiger painting.
Who would know what would a good painting looked like to the monkey? Maybe a few monkeys, vividly drawn? Whatever kind of ﬁgure that monkey preferred could clearly not be discerned but right now to Xiao Hui, it was still that tiger painting which mattered to it the most. Its three eyes blinked as it leapt to the ﬂoor where the painting was hung on the wall above and looked up. The tiger had a commanding presence. The drawing skill was not amateurish; the strokes were bold and vigorous. The tiger seemed to almost break out of the painting, roaring at the sky, thousands of animals in awe.
Xiao Hui looked at it for a long time, then suddenly glanced outside again and saw that both of them were blocked by the stone walls and couldn’t look directly in. After such a long time with no movement outside, clearly both of them did not notice Xiao Hui’s movements.
The monkey turned back and scratched its head. The next moment it seemed to have made up its mind. It leapt up into the air. The three drawings were hung up high. There was nothing below that it could use to climb up. For a normal monkey it would not be able to reach it but Xiao Hui was not an ordinary monkey. With such a jump, it could reach the top of the paintings. Its monkey paws were stretched out as it easily took down that drawing. However that drawing was rather long. Following its descent, it slipped out of it’s hands and with a [pa] sound dropped onto the ﬂoor.
Though this sound was not loud but the two exceptional ﬁgures outside were immediately alerted. After a moment of silence, Ghost Li’s voice could be heard. With a slight puzzled feeling he called out, “Xiao Hui?”
[Suo suo, suo suo…]
Following this a strange series of dragging sounds could be heard. Under the stares of Ghost Li and Mr Ghost, the monkey ran out of the room, at the same time clutching a painting, a big portion of which was dragged along the ground, from the inner room to where Ghost Li was.
Both of them were stunned.
Xiao Hui held the drawing tightly. It ran before Ghost Li and then made a [zhi zhi zhi zhi] sound unceasingly. Ghost Li frowned. He took the painting, opened it, and saw the exceptional workmanship. The crouching tiger among the grass; the strokes bold and vigorous. He assessed it with a few glances, then looked at Xiao Hui, and said, “What did you take this painting for?”
Xiao Hui jumped up, gesturing. Its expression was extremely excited, either pointing at the tiger or drawing a strange painting in the air. The next moment it pointed to the north, happy while being busy. Confused, Mr Ghost was watching from the side. Although he was knowledgeable and had vast experience, but towards monkey language from this monkey he knew nothing. Full of bewilderment, he could only turn and look at Ghost Li.
Who would guess Ghost Li was also looking rather stunned. Watching Xiao Hui’s actions and unceasing [zhi zhi] sounds, Ghost Li glanced at the painting again, hesitated again, and then said, “You… don’t tell me you ﬁnd this thing inside the painting looks very much like Big Huang and so wanted to take this with you and gift it to Big Huang later?”
Xiao Hui immediately nodded. Although Ghost Li was not in a good mood now but he was still able to bear it. The ferocious tiger was lifelike and its demeanour was majestic. Even though it was within the grass, it was still awe-inspiring. How could it comparable to that big dog at Big Bamboo Valley which, although it had a ﬁne coat of fur, but was extremely lazy and greedy? Furthermore, Ghost Li really couldn’t tell exactly which part of the ferocious tiger was similar to Big Huang.
It seemed like the monkey’s taste was really different from humans’.
But after being taken aback and ﬁnding it ridiculous, Ghost Li reminisced the time at the valley and Big Huang who was thousand of miles away. After a moment, with a faint smile on his lips, his expression also softened, and he quietly said, “This painting belongs to the Ghost King. We can’t take this away now but don’t worry, next time I will ask this from him for you.” After speaking this he gently rolled up the painting and placed it aside.
Mr Ghost couldn’t help but ask, “Who is Big Huang?” Ghost Li paused and then indifferently looked at Mr Ghost and said, “A dog.”
Mr Ghost stunned. He was speechless for a moment and then with a cough did not ask anymore and looked back at the astrolabe. Ghost Li patted Xiao Hui, softly gave him a few instructions, nothing more than to instruct it not to run around, and then turned back to the astrolabe. Afterall, studying the astrolabe was now the most important thing.
Xiao Hui sat beside them for a while and very quickly started to get bored again. Actually it could not be blamed. Whoever had to be with them for three days and night and watched them doing the same thing over and over again would also be frustrated. How could a restless monkey be less?
By now Mr Ghost seemed to have discovered something. He suddenly pointed to those moving tiny cubes and said, “I see that the crux of this treasure is these tiny cubes in orbit.”
Ghost Li slowly nodded, evidently also agreeing but he slowly frowned and said, “But we have been looking at it for three days and still can’t tell how these cubes are able to orbit by themselves. Not sure whether mister has any brilliant idea?”
Mr Ghost was silent for a moment, then said, “Have you ever thought that the cubes’ trajectories are similar to the movement of the stars?”
Ghost Li’s body shook and then stared intently at the astrolabe. After a long time he clapped and said, “It really makes sense.”
Mr Ghost said, “Actually I am not sure too but I feel that it is indeed so. It’s just that, although these cubes trajectories are following the stars but it still contains many undiscovered mysteries. I think, to comprehend the crux of this treasure, it will be these ancient characters on the cubes.”
Ghost Li nodded slowly. Both of them continued to converse and soon again their attention was devoted to the astrolabe. Xiao Hui sat beside them for a while, and then again started to leave. In the stone room, Mr Ghost and Ghost Li could be heard discussing softly from time to time. Xiao Hui peered around for a moment then, extremely bored again, it quietly sneaked into the other room.
On the stone wall where the painting was pulled down by Xiao Hui a few marks were revealed. It had a slight colour difference from the other walls. It seemed like the painting had been there for some time already. It’s just that in this room, other than the four paintings, there was only the wooden bed and table and chairs, and nothing else interesting. Xiao Hui looked around and soon was bored again.
Just when it was at the extreme height of boredom, its three eyes suddenly blinked, as if it had discovered something and then jumped successively, its entire body suddenly jumping onto Ghost King’s bed. Without any concern if it dirtied the bed or covers, it rolled and jumped. The furnishings were simple but it was also extremely clean. It was most likely that Ghost King was also someone who loved cleanliness. Not knowing if when he saw this upon coming back, would he be infuriated? But right now Xiao Hui did not care about that. Right now nobody was bothering it. It happily jumped and rolled on the bed. Suddenly it touched something at the corner of the bed, and the entire bed shook.
Following this, the stone wall beside the bed silently opened up with a big crack and then retreated to both sides, revealing a big hole which one person could enter.
Xiao Hui, who had already sensed something when the bed shook, jumped down, crouched on the ground and suspiciously looked at it, until the wall silently revealed a secret door. It then slowly stood up, glanced at the door, and only saw that the darkness inside. It was unable to see anything but nothing like ferocious animals were running out either, and the mysterious dark hole seemed to be tempting the bored monkey, as if beckoning it.
Xiao Hui scratched its head and glanced back toward the outer room. Ghost Li and Mr Ghost were again in silence. It seemed like another long day to study the astrolabe. The three- eyed monkey turned back and suddenly grinned. It made a funny face and then lightly leapt, tunnelling into the dark hole. The next moment it disappeared into the darkness. An indistinct wind lightly blew from within that mysterious hole carrying a faint smell of blood! Entering into the secret door, an indistinct golden light glimmered in Xiao Hui’s third eye, radiating a strange glow. Under this golden light the darkness in the hole seemed to recede a little.
The tunnel which was only big enough for one person would normally be difﬁcult for one to pass through but for a monkey it was more than enough. Xiao Hui was feeling adventurous, and after walking for a while in the tunnel felt the ground angling down; the tunnel was heading downwards.
Both sides of the stone walls started to appear damp as it gradually descended. Some places even had water droplets dripping down in the darkness. In the silence, Xiao Hui’s ﬁgure slowly walked ahead. At times a light breeze with a strange, faint smell of blood blew up from the darkness ahead.
The tunnel going down was not steep but was quite long. Xiao Hui walked for a long time. It should be going deep down into the mountain. And at this moment, Xiao Hui suddenly stopped. At some place far ahead a faint red glow was seen. The monkey stood in the tunnel for a while, seemingly hesitant and then glanced back at the path behind it, scratched it’s head and seemed hesitant about whether to turn back and inform its master. But that red light ahead seemed to be luring it, the light ﬂickering.
Finally, after calling out twice, the monkey still continued to move ahead.
Approaching the red light, nearer and nearer, the blood stench in the tunnel turned thicker. Xiao Hui’s expression became nervous. It stuck out its nose out and sniffed, hesitation in its eyes. But looking at the red light which was just ahead, it still continued to move ahead.
Finally the red light was before it. This was another entrance in this tunnel. Xiao Hui peered around it, and with a leap jumped out. In the next moment it was already in another tunnel much wider than the tunnel before it.
Other than the tunnel that Xiao Hui had came from, there was another tunnel connecting to it, just beside Xiao Hui. But it was also dark and it was not obvious where it led to. And the other side of the tunnel was rather bright, especially the red light at the end of the tunnel which was constantly ﬂickering; it seemed like this was what Xiao Hui had seen from afar.
The tunnel was still empty. Even at the end where the red light was, only the light ﬂickered; there was no other sound.
Xiao Hui sniffed the air. The smell of blood seemed much thicker here, and the next moment Xiao Hui’s gaze froze. On the tunnel entrance where it had just entered, the dark walls had turned dark red, and where the water droplets were, in the light it was extremely red, like blood.
Drop by drop, slowly dripping!
The golden light on Xiao Hui’s forehead gradually lit up. After watching that blood dropping, it slowly turned back, watched the ﬂickering for a while before moving again, heading in that direction. The red light ﬂickered strangely, as if it had spiritual intelligence. It pulsed lightly and then expanded aggressively, swallowing the approaching monkey in it.
It was already deep in the night; although the change to daylight could not be clearly sensed in the mountain, but outside it the dense stars in the blanket of night, the starlight twinkling, like numerous nights before it, spilling out onto the mortal world, illuminated some parts of the dark Majestic Fox Mountain too.
Under the starlight a white ﬁgure suddenly ﬂoated in from afar, light and swift. It did not seem to have any weight, like a light fallen in the breeze, blown over by the night breeze among the wild mountains. Slowly it landed on the summit. Enveloped by the faint starlight the slender white ﬁgure turned around; with elegant eyebrows and beautiful eyes, snowlike skin and a faint lingering allure within the eyes, it was Xiao Bai the Nine-tailed Celestial Fox.
Right now Xiao Bai was frowning tightly. Her face also had a rarely seen solemness to it. As she stood on the summit the night breeze blew over. The surroundings were empty; there was not a single tree to block the wind as it rufﬂed her clothes, even accentuating her curvy seductive ﬁgure. Xiao Bai looked around slowly. The mountain summit was now full of stones and sands; not to mention trees, not even a strand of grass was to be seen.
Looking at the desolate scene, who would believe that less than ten years ago this was a place of beautiful scenery?
Though the rest did not know but Xiao Bai knew, because around Majestic Fox Mountain was where the demon fox tribe originated. She had also grown up here. The mountains and rivers, every tree and every grass; to her it was not like other places.
It’s just that, not knowing since when, all of them had strangely disappeared, leaving behind only this desolate situation.
Xiao Bai slowly crouched down. Stretched out her fair hand she lightly grabbed some earth, no - it should be gravel. The cracks on the earth left only gravel on the mountain. The hard gravel spread open in her palm. Xiao Bai carefully looked at it, her eyes glinting, as if looking for something. After a while she slowly closed her hand, turning it into a ﬁst and slowly letting it go. Facing downwards, the gravel quietly slipped from her ﬁngers but halfway got blown away by the night breeze, reﬂecting a hint of light under the starlight, and disappearing into the darkness of the night.
The gravel here was no different from in other places.
Xiao Bai slowly stood up. As she looked up at the sky full of stars the starlight spilled out over her body, like a gentle hand lightly supporting her body, consoling her.
Suddenly, her eyes abruptly widened, as if recalling something. But she was not seen making any big movements. Instead she strangely lifted up her foot, like a secular young lady making a fuss, and stamped her foot down heavily.
A deep groan was heard in the wind. Drifting along with the wind a gust of dust ﬂoated up and gently ﬂoated down in the wind. In the next moment, from the ground below Xiao Bai’s feet, a series of strange [pi li pa la] sounds were heard, undulating. After about the time it takes to seep a pot of tea, it gradually ceased.
Xiao Bai’s lips pursed. The white ﬁgure was like a duckweed ﬂoating on the lake as she rose, as if being supported by the wind. But her glistening eyes only stared at the ground below her feet. In the next moment, with her body in the air, she suddenly ﬂung her sleeve out and instead swept towards the ground.
This action was actually not that light. Even through the night breeze sharp piercing sounds could be heard. When her sleeve swept past the ground the gravel scattered and dust ﬂew. Xiao Bai did not pause in mid-air. Her sleeve continued to dance downwards. After sweeping seven times, the dust on the ground had already turned into a small grey tornado, mixed with pieces of gravel, spinning rapidly and sweeping underneath the night stars.
Xiao Bai let out a light whistle and her body suddenly went up higher by more than a zhang. Under the starlight her white light ﬂoated like a fairy, dazzling and with a different alluring beauty. As her body rose higher, the tornado was also immediately pulled up by an invisible power. But it headed in the opposite direction. The tornado speed was extremely fast. In the next moment the column of wind mixed with the innumerable gravel and caused it to land far away. Rumbling sounds were heard from the darkness; most likely it was the sound of the gravel hitting the ground.
And under Xiao Bai’s feet on the summit, a pit six chi wide and more than a zhang deep appeared. The fact that Xiao Bai could, with a gesture, actually dug out such a big pit showed that the level of cultivation was already shocking. But with her thousand-years of cultivation, it was also not all that surprising. It’s just that Xiao Bai clearly did not come to the mountain summit to dig a pit out of boredom. After descending from the air her eyes did not leave the pit. She ﬂoated over, towards the deep pit.
After entering the pit Xiao Bai suddenly slowed her descent, looking almost as if something invisible was supporting her body from below. As she descended she watched the pit walls intently, using the faint starlight to stared closely at them.
Her fair hands pressed onto the rough walls, forming a bright contrast. There was a strange feeling but Xiao Bai did not notice this. Following her palms, following her slow descent, she carefully looked at the walls.
Reﬂected in her eyes were the blue-grey stone walls. Rough and sturdy, where her hands touched was also extremely cold. As her body descended, her eyes also looked down. After about a chi, it was still all stones; nothing had changed, it was identical to the mountain rocks everywhere.
She continued to descend, her fair hands against the walls, lightly going down. At two chi deep, it was still blue-grey sturdy rock walls.
One chi, two chi…
Five chi… Nothing changed. It was still the same solid rock. The icy feeling inherited for ten thousand years until today could see the day. From the thick rough surface, coldness seeped out.
Xiao Bai’s face did not have any expression. Her body was still descending. In the next moment, her eyes suddenly lit up. Her body stopped with a tremble.
About six chi down, beside her hands ﬁnally there was a change.
A faint red scar, like a tiny blood vessel, had appeared on the surface.
Xiao Bai stared intently at the thin red scar for a long time. Suddenly she sneered and then continued down again, her eyes continuing to stare at the rock walls. As expected, as she continued to descend, more strange things appeared before her; the rocks which should be sturdier as she descended had more red scars, the colour getting deeper. After one zhang down, Xiao Bai slowly turned around and, before her it was already a red wall with thick cracks everywhere. And around her it was not cold air anymore; instead there was a thick stench of blood.
That terrifying blood red, a human-devouring horror!
Xiao Bai’s eyes revealed an abhorrence that could not be concealed. With a sneer her ﬁgure moved up and charged out into the sky. She ﬂew out of the pit and onto the side of the pit. The starlight again shone onto her body like water, washing away the nightmarish scene just now.
Xiao Bai’s face was indifferent. Inhaling deeply, she facing the incoming wind and looked up at the sky. In the next moment she suddenly laughed and muttered, “After a thousand hundred years, there is always someone who don’t know how high the heavens is, how deep the earth is, and wanted to do some stupid things. As for what exactly the outcome will be, let’s wait and see, he he he he…”
Cold laughter drifted out in the night breeze and was gone with the wind, not knowing to which corner of the earth. And under the night, among the stars, there was a beautiful white ﬁgure, hovering among the mountains facing the wind, with an eternal beauty, solitary and standing lonely.
On this late night, there were many who couldn’t fall asleep. As if bothered by some matters related to the heart, humans always have feelings that are indescribable.
Inside the cave, Ghost Li and Mr Ghost were still studying the astrolabe. They were already almost at the critical point. With Mr Ghost’s experience and knowledge they had ﬁgured out some of the cubes’ words, and although they were unable to fully comprehend the mysteries within but they were clearly much better off than before.
And at this tense moment, Ghost Li suddenly became aware of something. His eyes left the astrolabe for a moment and, looking around he saw the empty room. Xiao Hui had wandered off somewhere to play again, or maybe it went somewhere to sleep! His eyes swept around, saw the roll of painting beside it, and paused for moment. As if thinking of something, a faint smile appeared on his lips. But that warm smile vanished quickly, and he shook his head lightly, as if ﬂinging away something that he should not be thinking about, and focused again on the astrolabe.
On the other side of the mountain, in a quiet cold room, faint wisps of cold air drifted. Biyao was still sleeping, and beside her Ghost King was quietly sitting.
Grey hair hung down from Ghost King’s head, a reminder of his lost youth, and the person sleeping beside him, an indistinct heart pain. On such a night like this, like numerous nights in these ten years, he did not feel like sleeping.
He quietly waited. Until dawn, until the next day, or maybe the next day, everything might change!
His hand, subconsciously curled, into ﬁsts.
And thousands of miles away, on the same late quiet night. In Qing Yun Hill Small Bamboo Valley, the night breeze was soughing, the bamboos rustled. Lu Xueqi sat up from her bed. This night, for some reason she was unable to sleep.
Tossing back and forth, for who?
She quietly got down, did not wear her shoes. Walking barefoot on the ﬂoor, a cold feeling could be felt from her soles; the ﬂoor was cold like water. She walked to the window, and opened the windows. The sky of stars like ripples of water spilled in, accentuating her beautiful face.
Lu Xueqi quietly looked at the stars, unmoving.
On a night like this, the person who was far away, would he also be under the stars?
The faint starlight, did it shine on him too? She quietly watched the sky, not moving, as if expecting something.
The stars, as if eternally unchanging, saw all of the human hardships, looking past gratitude, love, hatred and grievances.
Maybe, it would be better tomorrow…
In her heart, she thought like that quietly.
Tomorrow, what would it look like again?
Nobody would know.
Chapter 252 - Ferocious Monkey
Red light ﬂickered constantly, illuminated the entire huge space like daylight. The strong stench of blood ﬁlled the air. A wide platform formed a path and extended out from the cave entrance to the middle of the huge cave. Xiao Hui carefully walked out from the tunnel and jumped onto the platform; its tiny ﬁgure seemed especially insigniﬁcant in this huge cave.
Clearly, this was a place different from other places. Even though it was an active and curious monkey, it also could sense something. It did not immediately run forward but instead stood where it was, its three eyes looking around. Everywhere had a red tone. Red shadows moved in the air, and occasionally noises broke the silence, but it was a strange red breeze that brushed past and the ground below the platform under the monkey also revealed a strange dark red.
Xiao Hui stood where it was and looked around for a while and then slowly moved forward. In the huge space it was alone, a tiny ﬁgure moving; red ﬂickering light continued to shine down against its ﬁgure, leaving a long shadow behind it. It continued to move ahead. Xiao Hui continued to look around. Although the atmosphere was extremely weird but nothing happened to it while it moved ahead and it soon reached the end of the platform. Standing at the end, the blood stench was at its thickest, assaulting the nose. Even Xiao Hui couldn’t help but reveal a look of disgust on its face. It kept using its hands to fan the air in front of its nose.
The end of the platform was situated in the middle of the huge cave. Below was the deep blood pool. Xiao Hui slowly came to the edge and carefully stuck its head out to look down.
Appearing before it was a huge blood pool. The pool ﬂuid was red like blood. Tiny bubbles continuously bubbled from deep below, frothing and breaking on the surface, and releasing a thick smell of blood. And within the pool four huge spiritual beasts looked lifeless and extremely exhausted, as if incarcerated, almost completely immersed in the pool; most of the time they were motionless.
Suddenly, Xiao Hui seemed to freeze, at the same time the third eye abruptly lit up. Among the four beasts was a beast that was not a dragon but looked similar to one, with sharp teeth fangs - with one look it seemed to resemble a pig. It was the wilderness’ ‘Zhulong’. Another had a lone foot and huge body. With cries like the sound of thunder, soaking in the pool like a small hill, it was East Ocean’s ‘Kuiniu’.
Xiao Hui had never seen these two beasts before. With a few glances it turned its attention away, but it recognized the other two. One of them looked like a phoenix; with beautiful feathers, with an indistinct demeanour as the king of a hundred birds, it was that ‘Yellow Bird’ from the west marsh guarding the Celestial Emperor Treasury. And the last beast, which caused surprise and anger to Xiao Hui, once followed the Beast Deity and befriended Xiao Hui; it was the ferocious beast ‘Taotie’.
It didn’t matter that the other three beasts were incarcerated. Xiao Hui wasn’t acquainted with them anyway. Furthermore Xiao Hui had some grudges with the Yellow Bird. Looking at its plight now, Xiao Hui would most likely be happy and clap its hands. But Xiao Hui had a close relationship with Taotie. Watching as it was lifelessly immersed in the pool, Xiao Hui immediately panicked, screeching with a [zhi zhi zhi] sound loudly on the platform. This cry immediately broke the silence. Although the four beasts were incarcerated they were not common beasts; although their energy had almost been sucked dry, they still all looked up at the same time.
Far above on the platform a monkey appeared, screeching down at them.
Before the other three beasts could react Taotie immediately recognized Xiao Hui, and its huge head moved and made a roar. It’s just that halfway the sound dropped off due to a lack of energy. Evidently most of the energy was gone, making it extremely weak.
When Xiao Hui saw its state it felt even more infuriated, but while being mad it did not know what to do. It scratched its ear and rubbed its checks, and kept turning around in anxiety. And down below, the other beasts could tell Xiao Hui’s unusual expression which was different from the humans who usually cast spells from up there. For a moment bird cries and roars of thunder, including Zhulong’s strange and indescribable [heng heng hou hou] cries were heard; in it their beseeching pleas. The four beasts in the blood formation, were all spiritual beasts of heaven and earth with immerse powers, dominating the world, scorning everything, not to mention beseeching like this. Right now one could imagine the power of the evil formation; even these ancient beasts of heaven and earth could not withstand the torture.
Waves of cries were heard. In a state of urgency, Xiao Hui turned round and round. Suddenly it seemed to decide on something, stamped its feet and jumped down from the platform.
The beasts saw it jump and immediately stirred, but Xiao Hui’s tail kept swishing. In mid-air it turned back, like being blown by the wind, then with a [pa] sound it landed on the stone pillar below the platform. By nature it was skilled at climbing. Although this pillar was toweringly high but it was extremely thick and rocks jutted out everywhere. Humans would fear it but to Xiao Hui it was the best landing place.
Xiao Hui swiftly descended down the pillar, which was a height of several zhangs. In a short time it had already neared the pool. The blood stench was even stronger, invoking a nauseous feeling. Red coloured water was everywhere, bubbles continuing to froth and emit light popping sounds.
The nearest to the pillar was not Taotie but Kuiniu instead. Taotie was at the left front side of Kuiniu. Xiao Hui grabbed the pillar as it peered around. With its wits it would not think to touch the terrible and strange blood water.
The next moment it seemed to notice something. It shrank and then leapt, and with this lunge it leapt out across at least half a zhang distance, landing just nicely on Kuiniu’s stomach and then, using this spot, jumped again, its grey shadow casting a smooth trajectory over the surface of the water before landing on the only part of Taotie’s head that was above water.
[Zhi zhi, zhi zhi…]
Once it landed, Xiao Hui immediately called out. At the same time both of its hands rubbed Taotie’s head. It seemed concerned and wanted to see what injury Taotie was suffering from. The ferocious Taotie right now seemed gratiﬁed by Xiao Hui’s arrival. It emitted low groans; at the same time its head turned slowly. The other beasts surrounding them also quietened down and did not make any noise again, only quietly watching them.
Xiao Hui rubbed a while on its head, then stopped and seemed perplexed. For a moment it could not understand the situation. Crouching on Taotie’s head, it scratched its head. Unexpectedly, Xiao Hui seemed to be careless. It had forgotten that TaoTie was not like Kuiniu, and only had its head above the water, leaving not much space for Xiao Hui. It relaxed for a moment and its tail dipped into the blood water.
Xiao Hui, as if scalded, jumped up. The other beasts also stirred with unceasing low cries. Taotie cried too but it did not dare move with Xiao Hui on its head, afraid that big movements might cause Xiao Hui to drop into the water. It only kept groaning, and at the same time its saucer-like eyes tried to look up. It wanted to see what had happened, resembling a human rolling their eyes, looking extremely comical. Xiao Hui caught its tail and brought it to its eyes. With just a slight dip, although the skin was not broken but it seemed burnt, as if in a ﬁre. The monkey was stunned and then puffed its cheeks and blew a few times on its tail, not knowing if by doing this it could slightly alleviate the pain.
And then it let go of its tail, carefully stood and patted Taotie’s head, relaying that it was alright. Taotie quietened down, as well as the surrounding beasts.
But in the next moment, Xiao Hui’s gaze swept past Taotie and the other three beasts, and saw them weak and trapped in the pool. Immediately its eyes ﬁlled with rage. Its tail had only just touched the water and it was already that painful. These four beasts were immersed in the pool for the whole day; it couldn’t imagine how much torture it must be.
The anger in Xiao Hui’s eyes turned stronger. It abruptly jumped up on Taotie’s head, calling [zhi zhi], and at the same time pulled Taotie as if it wanted to pull it up from the water. The other beasts saw its actions and started their cries again. Taotie was not pulled up but instead slowly shook its head. Xiao Hui was stunned, called out [zhi zhi] twice, and seemed puzzled.
At this moment a deep, thunderous sound was heard ahead. It was from Kuiniu. The rest of them looked over; it seemed like Kuiniu was trying to say something. After a groan, its entire body seemed to shake; it appeared to be trying to stand up.
The other animals watched Kuiniu. It was the largest among them and its strength was also the best, but after it struggled for a while, when it seemed to be half standing and half crouching, suddenly the four beams of red light above them, as if in a formation, immediately enveloped the four beasts. Kuiniu’s struggling body, almost losing all of its strength, collapsed like a hill and fell back into the pool with a [pu tong] sound. Water sprayed everywhere. The harsh scene carried a trace of desolation.
The others stuck in the red beams revealed pain at the same time. Xiao Hui standing on Taotie’s head was also under the beam but maybe since Xiao Hui was not incarcerated it was not affected. Soon, out from under the four beams of ﬂicking red light, wisps of white spiritual energy drifted out from the beasts and quietly headed upward.
Looking at this scenario, Xiao Hui seemed to have understood something. Looking up with its three round eyes, the third eye ﬂickered with golden light. Looking from below, the dark red light beams seemed to turn from thick to thin, gradually ascending, until the top of it was seen coming from a cauldron which was even higher than the platform by several zhangs.
Xiao Hui stared intently at the cauldron. Suddenly with a sharp cry it leapt up, leaving Taotie’s head and heading towards Kuiniu. The others watched as Xiao Hui glided in the air, but half way its body underwent a strange change; the golden light in its eye surged, emitting dazzling golden light, and its body also emitted violent [ge ge] sounds, as if its bones were shaking.
After a distance of more than a zhang, Xiao Hui leapt over. When it landed on Kuiniu’s huge body, its body was already enveloped in a layer of golden light. Its body was one size bigger than usual, but this clearly was not the end of the transformation. Xiao Hui almost did not pause as it landed on Kuiniu; in its shrieks it jumped again and its body was up in the air again, this time heading towards the stone pillar.
This time, when it glided, Xiao Hui’s body changed again. Deep within the golden light, a strange red light surfaced, mixed with the golden light. With a [rumble] sound the three- eyed monkey grew in size, turning into a huge monkey several zhang tall with three eyes, red like blood, and sharp fangs emerging from its mouth, in an imposing stance, exuding a powerful vicious energy.
With a loud sound Xiao Hui, which had already transformed into a huge beast, pounced onto the pillar, and the entire pillar shook. At the same time, without hesitation Xiao Hui swiftly climbed up the pillar, howling ceaselessly.
The pillar which was several zhang high, was now only a short length for the huge monkey’s limbs. In the next moment Xiao Hui’s huge body had already ﬂipped over the platform, and with a rumble landed on the surface. It looked up at the ﬂoating cauldron, its huge arms beat its chest and roared loudly!
The roar was truly powerful, as if heaven and earth had a change in countenance. The silent atmosphere of the cave was ﬁnally and utterly broken. The roar reverberated far off; the dark red light in mid-air trembled; the halo above the cauldron also trembled, and the red beams, as if having spiritual intelligence, started to turn in this direction.
Facing this strange formation and the unknown thing, Xiao Hui bared its teeth at it. A ferocious look was on its face. Lifting its head it roared loudly. The next moment it leapt up, ﬂying up a distance of several zhang. The red shadows receded and it looked like it was about to hit the cauldron.
But this formation was not a simple one. When Xiao Hui was about to hit it, a layer of red light suddenly appeared, and when Xiao Hui collided with this light the huge force was instead absorbed and Xiao Hui was repelled and landed back on the platform. And closely following it, the formation had started to retaliate.
Numerous dark red lights and shadows gathered. Looking from afar, the cauldron was like a red sun. Thousands of red beams surrounded it, forming a huge light screen. And above this screen, over a hundred red hills gradually emerged, each three chi square. Rumbling sounds ﬁlled the entire cave. The red hills exploded together, and terrible strange round things shot out like blood bubbles, as if raining from the sky, like a storm targeting Xiao Hui.
Xiao Hui roared at the sky, the sound like thunder. The red and gold lights blazed brighter; once they landed they rolled, their agility making them appear weightless. When those round things hit the platform, immediately pits appeared in the platform, and [si si] sounds were heard too.
Without waiting for Xiao Hui to recover the terrible light screen continued its attacks. Several red hills emerged again, but this time each was half a zhang big and extremely fast. The hills exploded again and red skeleton shadows appeared from within, each holding either knives or swords, or spitting poisonous ﬂuid from their mouths. Some even had ﬁre or ice, and with a scream they rushed towards Xiao Hui.
Such terrible scene was like being in hell. An urgent wind whipped up around the cave. The blood pool started to churn. The four beasts also seemed extremely infuriated; roars and howls heard ceaselessly.
On the platform, several skeletons pounced down but Xiao Hui ferocious countenance never changed facing these. Both its hands beat its chest; it roared loudly and advanced, charging towards the army.
The huge roar was like a shock of thunder exploding tearing across the world. Xiao Hui charged left and right, its huge arms waving around and killing. Immediately those skeletons at the front were thrown out. One of them slashed its knife at Xiao Hui. Xiao Hui beat it with its ﬁst and that knife instead slashed into the skeleton’s own skull. With a kick, Xiao Hui kicked this skeleton far out, over the platform and into the pool. The skeletons made strange howlings, besieging Xiao Hui without any fear. In the next moment Xiao Hui’s fur had ﬁve or six wounds, some even turning black; clearly they were poisonous.
Under the pain, the huge monkey seemed even more infuriated. It hit back with a palm strike. Like thunder rumbling, strong winds swept past. Three skeletons’ skulls landed on the ﬂoor and went spinning. The rest of their bodies charged forward a few steps and collapsed.
Xiao Hui had already incapacitated several skeletons but it also sustained several wounds itself. The wounds seemed to trigger its fury. Its eyes glowed with redness and with a loud roar, it charged towards the remaining skeletons.
Those skeletons also charged forward without fear. Xiao Hui charged in and immediately kicked one of them into pieces. It then felt a pain in its back; a skeleton had slashed deeply into its back with a sword. With a loud roar Xiao Hui turned around, blood spraying from its back. The skeleton seemed stunned for a moment. Xiao Hui’s huge hand grabbed the skeleton and, with a loud roar, ﬂung it strongly away. The skeleton crashed onto the rock walls and broke into pieces. Before it could see the skeleton’s end, Xiao Hui’s gaze turned even more ferocious. It turned around and pounced. A skeleton on the side stabbed with a spear. Without even looking Xiao Hui caught it with its hands and pulled. The skeleton was also unexpectedly ferocious. It refused to let go and was pulled over, in the mid-air still struggling to stab Xiao Hui. Xiao Hui was even more mad, lifted up the spear and started to spin it. [Wu wu wu] wind sounds were immediately heard. Then that
skeleton with the spear instead became a weapon in Xiao Hui’s hand. Several surrounding skeletons were hit and ﬂew out. Although the platform was spacious but to Xiao Hui and the skeletons, it was like a round table; each started to fall off the platform and drop into the pool.
[Pu tong, pu tong] sounds were heard ceaselessly as the skeletons landed into the pool. Most were still struggling, trying to continue their missions and again return to the platform to ﬁght. However before they could ﬁnd their footing in the pool, huge shadows appeared before them. The formation was currently busy ﬁghting Xiao Hui and so the dark red beams had been removed from them.,Though their spiritual energy had been sucked away but they were still ancient powerful beasts.
Crisp [pa pa, pa pa] sounds came unceasingly. Although the four beasts could not wield their original powers but they still had their huge bodies and directly leaned over, crushing several skeletons. The beasts had huge grievances and fury, and crushed the skeletons several times, panting angrily and yet still seeming unsatisﬁed.
One or two landed further away and managed to avoid being crushed. They were about to swim and escape, but the beasts abruptly turned and opened their predator’s mouths, biting them and swallowing them down.
While the spiritual beasts below vented their anger, the ﬁerce battle above was still ﬁghting. Several skeletons were already knocked off from the platform, leaving three or four which slashed at Xiao Hui unceasingly. However to Xiao Hui these were not even a concern. He charging among them and immediately disabled a few, leaving one who still viciously pounced. Xiao Hui’s ferocious nature reacted. Without even looking at the weapon approaching it, and with a loud roar, it pounced over and hit it with a palm. It opened its mouth and bit the skull, piercing it with its fangs.
The skeleton wavered a few times, and then crumbled into pieces. Xiao Hui stood up and surveyed the surroundings. It was extremely satisﬁed, lifted its head and roared at the cauldron, both hands beating its chest, extremely savage.
The cauldron in the air seemed surprised at Xiao Hui’s strength. It pausing for a moment and then the red light started to light up again. This time the light beams shone inwards. The cauldron slowly rotated among the beams and the devil face’s eyes on the cauldron suddenly glinted, as if it were coming alive, looking extremely savage.
But although the cauldron’s vicious energy surged the light dagger ‘Qian Kun Lock’ was still tightly nailed on it. It seemed to be unaffected by its actions. No matter how the cauldron's red rays attacked, it was like a nail in the devil’s forehead, preventing the surrounding blood energy from gathering.
While the cauldron was undergoing this internal struggle the battle atmosphere had a temporary respite. Xiao Hui’s huge body stood on the platform, roared loudly at the cauldron, challenging it. But there was no response from it.
Xiao Hui watched it intently for a moment, the golden light ﬂickering on it forehead. Suddenly it paused, seeming to have noticed something. With a low roar, it grabbed a broken skeleton and ﬂung it towards the cauldron.
A sharp piercing sound whistled, turning shrill. Xiao Hui’s strength had turned immensely powerful after the transformation. Although the light shrouding the cauldron was stable and steady, but for some reason most of the cauldron’s power seemed to be used to attack that tiny light; the outer blanket of light which was initially stable started to waver.
Xiao Hui saw it clearly. Immediately its conﬁdence boosted. With strange cries undulating, broken bones ﬂew like rain, ﬂung up from below towards that dark red sheet of light.
Ever since the formation started it was never in such a sorry state, especially facing its foe which was also only a monkey. Although Xiao Hui was not an ordinary monkey and the formation itself had internal trouble too, but if Mr Ghost and the rest saw this, most likely he would throw up blood in anger. Watching as the cauldron was under Xiao Hui’s infuriated assault of bone pieces, the light sheet defended and almost could not sustain. On the cauldron blood-red rays continued to attack the devil’s face. It was obvious that to the cauldron the white ‘Qian Kun Lock’ was more important to deal with.
And at this critical moment, Xiao Hui who was happily throwing things at the cauldron was suddenly stunned. There was actually nothing else for it to throw anymore; all of the broken bones had already been thrown out. Xiao Hui let out an angry roar, looked up, and saw that after it had stopped the cauldron seemed to be taking a breather, and appeared to again be slowly composing itself.
Xiao Hui stomped its feet and screeched, extremely angry. Suddenly it pounded on the ﬂoor. No matter how sturdy the ﬂoor was it would not be able to absorb such a force. Immediately stones ﬂew up in the air. Xiao Hui’s three eyes lit up. It pounded madly on the ﬂoor. Smashing sounds and rumbles were heard, stones ﬂying everywhere. Without hesitation Xiao Hui grabbed the large rocks and ﬂung them at the cauldron again. The hard rocks were harder than the skeletons. Compared to the storm of broken bones previously there was an increase in force of three times and the ammunition was unlimited. Like a storm turbulently howling over, the light sheet which had just stabilized again fell into chaos under the attack of the stones. With a fragile sound it ﬁnally dispersed, revealing the cauldron.
When Xiao Hui saw it all, it cried out with an excited shout. Even the four beasts in the blood pool became excited and let out undulating cries.
Without hesitation Xiao Hui grabbed the biggest rock near it, one that was almost the size of a human, and with a loud shout ﬂung it at the cauldron.
The stone ﬂew like lightning with powerful force. Without the sheet of light to obstruct it hit directly onto the cauldron, making a groan, [dong].
The cauldron shook violently. The red beams on it immediately went into chaos and the blood energy gathered around the devil’s face started to recede. The ancient cauldron which had been hovering peacefully in the air was ﬁnally destabilized by Xiao Hui.
But maybe it was also because of that that the red light on the cauldron lit up completely. The entire cauldron seemed to turn red. A huge and mysterious energy ﬁnally appeared again and, like in response to the “Qian Kun Lock’ dagger, burst forth in brilliance.
A thick stench of blood ﬂooded the space. The cave started to quake and stones fell from the walls. It was like a devil awakening. Red rays exploded out, savagely watching that monkey below.
The quakes swiftly became bigger, like a violent force quaking the entire Majestic Fox mountain range. And, far from the blood pool, the Ghost King headquarters was again enveloped in despair and fear. In the Ghost King residence, Ghost Li and Mr Ghost abruptly looked up. A thick blood stench ﬁlled even their room, with strong quakes below them. And, after their initial shock, the astrolabe before them seemed to be stimulated by some force and started to have some changes. And even further away, in the cold stone room, the violent quakes and the stones rolling down from the surrounding walls were almost similar to the quakes previously. In the hell- like scenario, Ghost King instead slowly stood up, a strange expression on his face, like wild delight, like excitement, like cruelty, like hunger. His voice was hoarse and low as he spoke out in the empty room, “This day, is it ﬁnally here?”
And on the mountain summit, standing and facing the wind, Xiao Bai was also shocked. The quakes shook below her feet. She was not mistaken. The entire mountain was quaking. It had never happened before in a thousand years, and it happened today.
A mocking smile ﬂitted past her face. Suddenly her white ﬁgure ﬂoated up. She was heading down the mountain. Looking at her direction, it seemed to be towards the Ghost King headquarter’s entrance.
Chapter 253 - Evil Spirit
The ground was violently quaking, stones rolling down from all directions. The resplendent rays of light which burst forth from the astrolabe turned Ghost King’s room extremely bright. In the air, the blood stench hit their noses so thick that it made one think they were immersed in a sea of blood.
Ghost Li did not know what had caused the change but after the initial shock he abruptly realized something, turned and shouted, “Xiao Hui!”
The shout reverberated far and soon the echo of his shout could be heard in the stone room. Followed by another earthquake, in the rumbling sounds, dust ﬂew overhead, the stones which rolled down also became bigger.
But there was no answer. The familiar [zhi zhi] cries never came. Anxiety appeared on his face and, after a moment, his gaze came to lie on the inner chamber. To the side, without noticing it, Mr Ghost had came over. It was impossible to see his expression beneath the black veil but his tone seemed calm. Instead, in the strange calmness, there was a hint of excitement. “That monkey of yours should be inside.” Mr Ghost calmly said beside Ghost Li.
Ghost Li glanced at him. Without hesitation he started to move and was already entering the chamber, following which his body startled and he stood where he was. In the empty room, that dark secret door inside the wall was like a deep dark hole, coldly watching him.
Behind him, a light suddenly moved. It was the astrolabe in Mr Ghost’s hand who had also came over. When he saw the secret door, he was clearly taken aback. It seemed like he didn’t expect the wall would reveal a secret door; or maybe he knew about the secret door but didn’t expect it would be opened, and for a moment was speechless.
Both of them were highly skilled people. Standing only for a moment in the room, they already sensed that the source of the blood stench came from within. Ghost Li’s face turned cold. He looked deeply at Mr Ghost. Mr Ghost’s eyes glinted. After hesitating for a moment he indifferently said, “Don’t look at me. These past few days I have always been within your eyesight. I also do not know what has happened.” Ghost Li snorted. Although he felt perplexed, but as the earthquakes became stronger and stronger and it was evident that the missing Xiao Hui had slipped through this hole, no matter what this was not the time to ask questions. He made a decision there and then, and coldly said, “Let’s go in.”
Mr Ghost frowned. He seemed hesitant and doubtful. He was about to say something but Ghost Li had already entered into the darkness. He stood where he was for a moment, saw the ﬂickering astrolabe in his hand, and again looked at the dark entrance. Suddenly he sighed and muttered, “Man cannot foretell Heaven’s plans. It is actually a monkey which has foiled the big plan.”
After speaking this, he shook his head and made a bitter laugh. His black ﬁgure drifted too, sweeping into the secret entrance.
The tunnel inside was narrow and long. As Ghost Li swiftly traversed it, the ground soon sloped down, and the walls also started to appear damp, but what made one feel disgusted was that the deeper in one went, the foul smell of blood became thicker. Ghost Li while inside the tunnel. The surrounding sturdy walls were also shaking. If an ordinary person were walking here, they would be in fear that the walls might collapse and they might be buried alive. But right now Ghost Li’s expression did not show anything like that. His ﬁgure moved faster and faster. In a short while he had already reached the other cave of the tunnel. After descending, he looked up. In the front was the madly ﬂickering red light and a long platform shrouded in red shadow. And far from the platform, an indistinct yet familiar howling and roaring.
Ghost Li’s face changed. He recognized that roar as Xiao Hui’s when it transformed, but what was it in the red shadow or what danger was it, that made Xiao Hui transform and ﬁght this life and death battle?
Without a moment of hesitation, his ﬁgure like lightning, he shot over into the dark red light. Behind him, Mr Ghost drifted in from the entrance. After standing still, he did not have any other movements. Instead he ﬁrst glanced behind him. Right now, from where he was standing, there was the entrance which he had just came from, on the other side was a similar dark tunnel. Mr Ghost was currently looking at this tunnel. He watched that tunnel for a moment before looking away and looked at the astrolabe in his hand. After arriving here, the light emitted by the astrolabe did not weaken and instead turned more brilliant. At the same time, in its radiance ancient golden words constantly surfaced. In the white blazing light it lit up and faded. It was extremely mysterious, as if responding to something with all of its efforts.
Mr Ghost looked up. That dark red light was ﬂickering madly. A strong energy was rampaging, in addition the surrounding earthquakes and trembling walls were all announcing the arrival of a great danger. However after looking at all of these a smile appeared in his eyes instead. He strided forward and walked towards the dark red light, his footsteps quickening.
When Ghost Li dashed into the dark red light, and when the red light shone on him, even with his level of skills he suddenly experienced a slight dizziness, although he recovered almost instantly, but what he saw after that shocked him greatly.
A huge blood pool, a collapsed mountain wall, the air ﬁlled with blood stench - all of this was within his expectation. But ﬂoating in mid-air was a strange human-shaped monster made up of a large amount of red blood energy. Its height was several zhang, almost ﬁlling up the entire huge cave. At the end of the platform Xiao Hui, which had transformed into a huge ape, was roaring without fear. But its size was vastly different from the giant man, and the most important thing was that right now Xiao Hui seemed helpless. Huge balls of red ﬁre were constantly being thrown out from the huge man’s mouth and Xiao Hui could only kept avoiding.
The blazing red ﬁre kept striking down from the air. At a quick glance, even the sturdy rock seemed to melt when it was hit by the ﬁre. Although Xiao Hui had an exceptional body but it didn’t dare touch it either. It could only jump here and there on the platform, escaping them by a hairbreadth. Looking at its grey furry body, which was full of wounds, it was clear that it had gone through much hardship and was now only struggling to hang on, heavily panting.
At this moment, Xiao Hui leapt up with all of its might, narrowly avoiding a blood ﬁre which swept past below. Even in the air it could feel the fur from its lower body being burnt, and couldn’t help but let out a roar. But although it looked like it had avoided it, after coming down from the air, when it had just landed, it suddenly felt a sharp pain below its feet, penetrating almost into its bone. Xiao Hui looked down and saw the stone ﬂoor had already turned into burning liquid stone. Its feet had split and its fur was burnt.
The pain was not light. Xiao Hui’s huge body wavered and almost collapsed. The huge blood-energy man in mid-air again threw another blood ﬁre without any sign of pity. It looked like Xiao Hui was about to be destroyed in this blood ﬁre. Its huge head cried out to the sky. Far below it, angry roars could also be heard but clearly those were of no help.
As the blood ﬁre struck down, Xiao Hui’s three eyes seemed to be ﬁlled with the blood ﬁre image. At this critical moment, a long whistle was heard behind it. Like a dragon singing, a dark- green light, like a long rainbow streaking across the sky, making a curve, like a shock of thunder and as fast as lightning, arrived just in time, enveloping Xiao Hui with a dark-green light. Within the light sharp glints ﬂashed. A Taiji drawing emerged, glistening brightly. A rumbled sounded, and blocked that red ﬁre from coming down.
It was Ghost Li who had arrived in the nick of time. But although it was blocked, Ghost Li’s body shook violently. Darkness was all he could see; the light shield was almost dispersing and his body almost fell off the edge into the blood pool. Fortunately his cultivation was high, and when his body fell he used the edge of the platform to drifted back up, and swept to where Xiao Hui was. His gaze quickly swept over Xiao Hui. Without speaking, he caught its body and with a low groan, single-handedly lifted Xiao Hui up.
With a cry of pain, Xiao Hui ‘s body was lifted up. In the air its bones emitted [ge ge] sounds, and in the next moment its body started to shrink. In the blink of an eye it was back to its original body size, that little grey-fur monkey.
Right now, that huge man seemed infuriated that his blood ﬁre was being blocked. His target also shifted to Ghost Li. He opened his huge mouth and with a rumble a blood ﬂame as long as ﬁve zhang shot out. Like a ﬁre dragon descending from the sky, it went burning towards Ghost Li.
Ghost Li placed Xiao Hui on his shoulder and with a shout of “Hold tight!” and ﬂoated up. His body speed was much more agile than Xiao Hui. Although the ﬁre force was extremely powerful but he always managed to escape between the gaps and looked unhurried.
Xiao Hui also did not just stand by. After its body resumed to its original size, it grabbed hold of Ghost Li’s clothes and sat ﬁrmly on him as Ghost Li ﬂew around. Its other hand also grabbed both its feet and looked. Pain was revealed on its face, and it called [zhi zhi] non-stop. Then it used its hand to fan its feet. Most probably the pain on its feet was unbearable.
But when Ghost Li heard Xiao Hui’s cries, and at the same time from the corner of his eyes saw Xiao Hui’s actions, he was instead relieved. Crying out in pain and fanning itself, it seemed like other than superﬁcial injuries Xiao Hui was not hurt badly. After feeling assured, Ghost Li’s body ﬂew even more leisurely. Although the blood ﬁres were powerful they were slow and, to him, exceptional but not threatening. Also, taking advantage of this chance, he started to ﬂy around while avoiding the ﬁres to take a closer look at the huge man.
Far below him was like an abyss but the blood pool in the abyss was a shocking scene. Especially when Ghost Li saw the four spiritual beasts in it, he was greatly shocked. Among the four, except for the wilderness Zhulong, he had had close encounters with the other three. He didn’t expect that they would be incarcerated here.
And he immediately recalled Ghost King expending all of Ghost King sect’s strength, at the earliest from ten years ago with Kuiniu to the gathering of the four beasts, was it all to lay down this strange formation?
He suddenly looked up at the huge man. A blood ﬁre struck down and the surrounding air was like on ﬁre. Ghost Li instantly ﬂashed like an apparition to several zhang away, avoiding it. That blood ﬁre hit the stone wall behind. Bits of rock ﬂew, leaving a huge hole several zhang high on the solid wall.
Ghost Li hovered far away and saw that this man was formed out of spiritual blood red energy. Cloud-like red light was brewing turbulently, churning unceasing. On its face two huge eyes with blazing red light, burning ﬁercely like ﬁre, stared deadly at Ghost Li. Another red ﬁre erupted from its mouth, this huge man’s spiritual energy seemed to be inﬁnite. Ghost Li managed to avoid it again but this time a sharp glint moved in his eyes. He did not stop and instead, following the direction of the blood ﬁre, less than three chi distance from the ﬁre, ﬂew against it, heading towards that man’s body. Xiao Hui on his shoulder saw that terrible huge man coming nearer and nearer but was not afraid. Instead it excitedly cried out [zhi zhi], waving its ﬁst, and looking like it was intending to ﬁght with him to the end.
The huge man did not expect Ghost Li’s sudden attack. Furthermore, with its huge body its reaction was slow and in a blink he only saw Ghost Li transforming into a light like an arrow that launched a shot into its blood-energy body.
Once inside it, Ghost Li immediately felt a heavy pressure pressing around him. His speed was reduced and wild howlings were heard all around, like the wailings of the ghosts in hell. His blood channels also started to churn. In front of him, red haze shrouded his sight; he was unable to see anything. He frowned. A golden light ﬂashed on his face; a thought in his head and the exceptional spell had started. The solemn golden light surrounded him and expanded out; immediately the blood energy within a radius of three chi receded. The uncomfortableness in his body disappeared. Unexpectedly the blood energy started to change again. In the red haze numerous faces started to appear around him. Some were happy, some were sad, some were angry or ﬁerce. There were countless numbers of them, like ten thousand ghosts squeezing around him.
“Give me your life!”
“Go and die!”
All of a sudden there was a hubbub of noises, like a ﬂood tide gushing over. Thousands of red arms stretched out from the haze and tried to grab Ghost Li. The horrifying scene was indescribable. But such a ghostly conjuring spell which would most likely be successful on ordinary humans had met its arch foe with Ghost Li who had Buddhism’s calming ‘Great Brahman Wisdom’. The supreme exceptional Buddhist skill was indeed the great foe of the Ghost Way. The numerous ghostly faces appeared to have powerful turbulent forces but once they came near to the golden light, they all made shrill cries and hastened to escape. Some who did not were burned by the golden light, instantly dissolving into grey powder and scattering with the wind.
With such a supreme spell protecting him Ghost Li was even more fearless and he charged ahead. Though there were numerous ghost faces in front of him but nobody could stop him and all retreated to avoid him. With a [pu] sound he had already passed through the giant’s body and come out the other side.
The huge blood-energy man made a strange angry roar. He looked extremely incensed as his huge body slowly turned around. Although Ghost Li managed to penetrate through him but his expression was somber. This strange man was made up of blood energy. He had form without substance. He had just traversed through him and yet it seemed not to have affected the huge man at all. As such, wouldn’t it mean he could only be hit by it and be unable to retaliate? And looking at this huge creature’s briming energy, and the cave which was also surging with abundant spiritual energy, Ghost Li could clearly feel that scattered spiritual energy continuously entering into this huge man’s body. As such if he continued on, he would only tire himself out.
Just when Ghost Li was thinking hard about how to defeat this seemingly invincible giant, the giant man instead had a change ﬁrst. The giant’s body seemed to break down. All of its energy gushing out, numerous balls of energy shot out, forming a thick red haze in the air. But it did not look like it was dispersing. Instead it gathered more and more, and in the end it became a ten zhang red ball of blood energy, like a red sun, shooting out numerous red rays in the air.
Just when Ghost Li was feeling stunned, deep inside that red ball a loud sound was heard. In the next moment from within that ball innumerable red tentacles were formed. Each tentacle was as thick as the rim of a bowl, and several zhang in length. Above them blood energy was rising, as they danced unhindered.
In an instant the entire huge cave had turned into a sea of red tentacles. Ghost Li could avoid those powerful red ﬁres but this time, facing the ubiquitous terrible thousands of tentacles, even he couldn’t help but feel his scalp tingling, and his countenance changed.
From the initial ﬁght with Xiao Hui, shooting round rotting balls and summoning skeletons, to the end where it transformed into a blood-energy giant, and the current strange blood ball becoming thousands of tentacles, the strange force of the formation in this cave seemed to have innumerable skillful abilities. In its viciousness it was eternally changing, it made one inevitably feel despair and helpless against it.
[Duo duo duo!]
Sharp piercing sounds were heard. The tentacles charged in from all directions. There was no place to avoid or retreat to. Ghost Li’s face was solemn. With a loud shout, a golden light and dark-green light radiated out at the same time, forming a light shield enveloping him and Xiao Hui. At the same time the Soul-devouring stick appeared for the ﬁrst time in his hand.
It was only the blink of an eye, and with sharp ear-gritting whistles, the tentacles pounced down, instantly enveloping Ghost Li’s light. Not to mention being closed up tight, not even a bit of light could be seen from within. Only the strange red tentacles could be seen tightly wrapping together, forming a strange ball in the air.
Those red tentacles squirmed. Clearly all were using their strength to tighten and press in. From outside the ball could be seen shrinking inwards and in the next moment it rebounded to its original size. The tentacles again squeezed it shrank slightly inwards. But the rebounding energy seemed to be strong. Again it bounced back to its original size.
Like this, like a heart beating, and also like breathing, it repeated many times. Suddenly a rupture sound was heard from within it, and then it turned into a loud rumble. A huge stretch of tentacles seemed to be torn apart by the explosion, scattering away into red smoke. Ghost Li’s ﬁgure shot out like lightning. He ﬂew out and landed on the platform, but when he stopped he almost couldn’t stand up straight.
Ghost Li’s face was extremely pale. His panting could be heard indistinctly. With his current cultivation, for him to be pushed into such state in such a short period of time by this strange enemy, one could imagine how powerful this formation was.
However the formation and the cauldron were not like this. Although Ghost Li escaped but those red tentacles which had exploded from that huge red ball were nothing. In fact, those tentacles which were turned into red smoke were again sucked in by the red ball. The spiritual energy was constantly recycling. No matter however powerful a foe was they could only scatter at its sight.
And again, even more tentacles were again created out of the red ball. Innumerable hands waved around in the air. It was a terrifying sight. Even Ghost Li felt a chill looking at it.
Watching as more red tentacles covered the air, [duo duo] sounds howled down again. Ghost Li already had the intent to retreat. Facing such ghastly thing which did not seem to come from the mortal world was obviously not something human strength could do. Just when he was about to avoid a bunch of tentacles which were swooping down and head to the tunnel entrance Xiao Hui suddenly made a sharp cry. Its cry was urgent and it seemed to have discovered something. Its hand pointing toward that huge red ball. Ghost Li was stunned. He had been concentrating fully on dealing with the great enemy and did not have the energy to observe that red ball. In a hurry he glanced at where Xiao Hui was pointing.
This glance made him stop. Inside the deepest part of the red ball a faint white halo lit up. It was completely different from the surrounding vicious red light. And almost at the same time when this white light lit up, the invincible red ball had a strange change. The red ball, which seemed to be fully inﬂated, became as if someone had pierced it with a needle. It started to deﬂate; the red light dimmed swiftly and the innumerable tentacles seemed to freeze. Almost half dissolved into red smoke, and another part shrank. The more-than-ten-zhang large red ball also started to shrink.
The red light in the air churned urgently. It looked like it wanted to go mad but was helpless. Even from afar, Ghost Li could feel that mad and deeply violent hatred.
Watching as the change unfolded in front of him, it was really dizzying and shocking. But as the red light in the air turned weak, under Ghost Li’s intense stare a ball of evil red cloud was revealed in the deepest part of the red ball. In there, the red light was the reddest. Looking from far, it was so thick that it almost appeared to be dripping with blood. And that white halo was also radiating out from that deepest part. Although it looked insigniﬁcant against the surrounding mad ravaging blood energy but it did not waver in the slightest. Instead, the red energy around this white dagger gradually receded and dispersed.
Ghost Li suddenly realized the quakes had also gradually ceased. Only the air was still ﬁlled with the blood stench, and still as thick. It may have been because of the blood pool below.
The ball of blood energy was still retreating. Red light with sharp piercing sounds continued to brush past, looked extremely unwilling but helpless. Eventually, after the red cloud had dispersed completely, its real self was revealed: a primitive ancient cauldron, with strange inscriptions engraved all around it. In the centre was a weird devil face, and on the devil’s forehead a white column of light, which by now looked dazzling, radiated out from it.
The Hidden Dragon Cauldron! Ghost Li recognized it immediately. This ancient cauldron was the most mysterious and the most valued magical weapon of the Ghost King.
Ghost Li slowly turned. His gaze moving away from the cauldron and to the surroundings, the cave walls which were already almost in ruins, the strange and terrible blood pool, the four incarcerated beasts, helpless and in pain. All of this, could all this really have been done by Ghost King?
And that terrible power above, that formless monster, that thing which should not exist in this mortal world, don’t say it was also summoned by Ghost King?
These acts... other than the word ‘deranged’, he really had no other words to describe them.
Right now Xiao Hui seemed to have lost its usual restlessness after the intense battle. It quietly crouched on Ghost Li’s shoulder. But its three eyes kept glancing at the cauldron; it seemed to still be fearful of it. Ghost Li stood solemely for a while and then came to the end of the platform. After that battle the ground below him was full of potholes. He stood at the edge and, like Xiao Hui previously, peered down.
Xiao Hui had also looked away from the cauldron. It called out softly a few times, like pleading Ghost Li to save Taotie and the other beasts below. Ghost Li’s eyes ﬂashed. His brows frowned tightly. In the chaos just now he had felt uneasy seeing those beasts and right now, after looking at them carefully, he discovered that those beasts were already seriously injured. Most of their spiritual energy was gone.
Ghost Li had never heard of spells that could suck spiritual energy. It seemed like the mysterious formation in this cave and the ancient cauldron were the cause of it.
He felt hesitant. He did not have good feeling towards those four beasts before him, and three of them in this situation were somehow connected with him. By right he should help free the animals. However he was no longer that simple youth anymore. As he contemplated, he already considered that since the formation was so powerful it must have cost the Ghost King great effort to complete it. If he were to meddle in it and upset Ghost King’s plans, wouldn’t he be obviously turning against Ghost King?
Actually, if it was only falling out with Ghost King, Ghost Li did not have any fear of that; he had no qualms with it. But there was still Biyao lying there, for a total of ten years…
Once he thought about Biyao the light in his eyes dimmed. He gently sighed and slowly stood up. Facing Xiao Hui on his shoulder, he quietly shook his head. Xiao Hui immediately became anxious. It scratched its ears and cheeks, and made gestures with both its hands. Its face was imploring; clearly it wanted Ghost Li to save those beasts. Ghost Li frowning tightly. His expression showing conﬂict, his heart was also undecided.
And at this moment, a clear crisp sound could be heard behind them. Both of them were shocked and turned around. Not knowing since when, Mr Ghost had come down to the platform, and that ancient astrolabe was radiating resplendently, its light like the sea waves rolling turbulently, forming a column of light around the astrolabe, charging up towards the sky. It was responding to that strange light on the cauldron. And in the dazzling astrolabe numerous white petals of light could be seen. Each was connected to each other, like the Buddhism Buddha’s lotus seat, glittering and translucent, like a crystal, protecting the astrolabe in it. Above the astrolabe, in the layers of bright rays and precious energy, an ancient golden word appeared, dazzling, ﬂoating in the light. But this time, the lit up word did not fade, instead it became brighter.
And following the character’s brightness, as if in response, that light dagger in mid-air also lit up.
Ghost Li’s heart suddenly tightened. He stepped forward and sternly asked, “What are you doing?”
But Mr Ghost seemed not to have heard Ghost Li. His black ﬁgure was now totally enveloped in the resplendent light of the astrolabe, a pair of eyes staring intently at the suspended astrolabe in front of him. For some reason he looked more digniﬁed than his usual ghostly aura.
Under the astrolabe’s radiance, Mr Ghost stretched out his hand and gently touched at the centre where the light was the brightest, like plucking ﬂowers, leisurely picking. Almost immediately after, another golden word leapt out, shining brilliantly, and gently ﬂoated above the astrolabe. Mr Ghost didn’t hesitate for a moment. His eyes were staring tightly at the centre of the light, as if searching for something. In the next moment he lightly touched four times in the centre.
Four golden words ﬂoated in order of precedence. The entire astrolabe was in full resplendency. The light column had expanded to more than twice its size, and in response, the ‘Qian Kun Lock’ embedded in the cauldron, also expanded several times, emitting light [ka ka] sounds, wavering ceaselessly, as if trying to break free.
Ghost Li was greatly shocked. After experiencing the battle just now even the dumbest person would know that the mysterious light on the devil’s face was the only thing that could restrain that invincible power. If this ‘Qian Kun Lock’ was removed, one could imagine the consequences. Right now he could not be bothered to be considerate of anyone’s feelings. In his anxiousness, his body swept towards Mr Ghost, shouting, “Stop!”
Unexpectedly, although his body was as quick as lightning, when he was about ﬁve chi away from Mr Ghost he was deﬂected by a gentle yet abundant force. Just as he was obstructed, Mr Ghost touched the astrolabe again.
This time he seemed to do it very slowly; his ﬁnger seemed to be trembling, not knowing if it was because he was nervous or because he was focusing too much of his energy. When his trembling ﬁnger entered into the astrolabe radiance, there was an instant where he paused, and then a light crisp sound sounded out and the seventh golden word slowly rose up.
This seventh word seemed bigger than the other words. Its color was also darker. After it rose up it did not ﬂoat like the other words. Instead it rose and stayed ﬁxed in the air. As the word rose, the other six words also surrounded it and formed a circle around it. Instantly the seventh word radiated golden light, forming a golden column of light about only a ﬁnger thick, charging up towards the ‘Qian Kun Lock’.
Not long ago a storm was ravaging in the huge cave. Right now it had suddenly descended into a strange silence. Everything was quiet, not even the sound of breathing could be heard. Ghost Li, Mr Ghost, Xiao Hui, the beasts in the pool, even the unseen, all held their breaths and watched what was about to happen. [Pa!]
A very very light crisp sound.
The ‘Qian Kun Lock’ column of light swiftly dimmed and disappeared, leaving a ﬁnger-sized hole on the devil’s forehead. The golden column of light column shone right into this small hole. And then a small pearl rolled out from the hole, its color deep blue, landing within the golden light.
The golden light swiftly receded and descended, and this blue pearl also came along with it. When the pearl was near enough to be seen clearly, its color was like the vast sea, limitless and with a faint smoke trapped in it, ﬂowing slowly like the tide, day and night travelling across the sky, never ceasing since the ancient times.
The golden column of light gradually turned dim. The seven golden words also dispersed and disappeared, and that deep blue pearl ﬂoated half a chi above the astrolabe and started to spin. The resplendent light around the astrolabe started to recede swiftly back to it, and soon, it resumed it usual look, emitting a soft light with those tiny cubes still orbiting. What was different was that it had an additional beautiful pearl. The astrolabe looked like the ﬁrmament with all of the stars orbiting around that beautiful deep blue planet.
The logic heavens and earth, hundreds of millions of years, all seemed to be in this instant indistinctly revealing in this tiny astrolabe.
In the cave there was only silence. Almost everything was in awe of this magniﬁcent mysterious sight. It’s just that this silence was only sustained for a moment.
An indescribable deafening rumble sounded, bringing with it a wild joy suppressed for over thousands and ten thousands of years. Inﬁnite blood light rays appeared abruptly in this huge cave. Every place seethed with a thick foul smell of blood. Every corner had screaming red shadows. A blood stench so thick it could not be diffused, charged up into the sky. Innumerable streams of blood energy gushed madly into the hovering cauldron. On the primitive, ancient cauldron, the pale inscriptions started to light up one by one, accompanied by a strange tempo. They evolved into blood red inscriptions. A mysterious and demonic sound was heard in the air, like an lonely, aged, distant evil spirit, chanting aloud a forgotten verse.
Red, a blood red color, like a sea tide, covered the entire cauldron, turning it into a red glittering monster. And ﬁnally, all of the streams of blood energy gathered at that devil face. From the jaw, they invaded up bit by bit, turning the lips red, swallowing the nose and then the eyes.
Finally, as if all of the blood energy was howling, the entire cauldron shook, and all of the mad blood-red light shadows howled together in the cave. Sharp cries rang out unceasingly. The blood pool also started to churn. The earth moved and mountains shook. Stones started to fall like rain…
Blood energy surged like tsunami, covered over that hole where the tiny blue pearl had once resided, dying the entire face red.
[Rumble!] On the summit of Majestic Fox Mountain the weather changed. Celestial thunder descended from the sky. Loud thundering sounds exploded out over the mountain summit horizon.
Wild winds blew, blowing away all of the huge rocks and dust, whistling in heaven and earth. It was a stern, harsh scene.
In the cold room inside Majestic Fox Mountain, the walls were all violently shaking. Stones rolled down but Ghost King disregarded it all. Right now, his eyes were already completely red, looking extremely weird.
In the quaking room and rolling stones, he slowly raised his right hand. In his right palm, a red inscription could be clearly seen in the ﬂesh. Its shape was like the ancient cauldron, bold and vigorous.
Ghost King stared intently at his palm then started to laugh. His laughter was cruel, mixed with madness, and even seemed hysterical. “It has succeeded... it has succeeded… ﬁnally succeeded! Ah…” He deeply gasped for breath, his voice already turning hoarse. His face twisted, the colour as red as blood, looking extremely strange.
Suddenly his right hand clenched into a ﬁst. A strong force exploded out from his body. You could almost see his veins twitching. A big part of the surrounding walls collapsing suddenly as if having receiving a huge force. Dust and stones ﬂew.
“Ha ha...ha ha…”
Mad laughter rang out with arrogance and insanity in it. Ghost King headed toward the exit. It’s just that he suddenly paused there and, on his cruel and mad face, suddenly there was hesitation. His body moved slightly, almost wanting to turn and look at something.
Behind him, Biyao was quietly lying there. Then, after that instant of hesitation, Ghost King still did not turn around. The huge stone door before him suddenly exploded into pieces. Under the raining stones he strode out with mad determination.
Violent earthquakes continued to rage. Bigger and bigger stones fell, almost crushing the place. And that frail green ﬁgure lay quietly on the stone platform, silent and alone, with some sense of melancholy.
Clear crisp bells quietly rang in the stone room, but they were drowned out by the rumbles as even larger rocks came crashing down.
Chapter 254 - Parted by death
On the platform above the blood pool, Ghost Li and Mr Ghost both looked up at the cauldron hovering in the air but both of their expressions were different. Ghost Li was shocked and stunned while in Mr Ghost’s eyes was wild glee.
After losing the “Qian Kun Lock’, this ﬁnal and also most important of shackles, the mysterious power of the cauldron seemed to have been totally revived. The bright red blood energy ﬂowed and surged madly. That devil face also seemed to gain life, its lustre was ﬂowing, its pair of red eyes appeared alive, moving slightly.
An invisible and terrible pressure was felt, emanating endlessly from the air, almost suffocating.
Ghost Li regained his senses from the shock, turned and bellowed at Mr Ghost, “What have you done?”
Mr Ghost seemed oblivious to Ghost Li’s shouts. His eyes were full of excitement and almost a mad fervour. He walked a few steps forward, and suddenly knelt before the cauldron. Ghost Li was stunned, looking incredulously at that dark ﬁgure. Before Ghost Li’s shocked gaze, Mr Ghost opened his arms and shouted loudly, “Asura!”
A terrible deafening sound, like a terrible monster awoken by someone from his slumber, reverberated from the cauldron. The walls inside the cave made an exploding sound and at the same time numerous huge rocks came crumbling down. The huge blood pool seemed to be pulled up by some strong force. In the deafening rumbles several columns of ﬂuid rose up, a strange yet imposing scene.
On the cauldron an indistinct red ﬁgure appeared. That ﬁgure was vague but was clearly about to appear and emerge in its twisting and struggles. Even from a distance Ghost Li could clearly, truly feel that terrible power and its mad murderous intention.
As he stared deeply at that red ﬁgure the expression on his face changed rapidly. He suddenly stomped his feet and his ﬁgure ﬂew up, but towards the exit. Although he did not know which holy being it was that was about to emerge but the power it contained was already more than what a human could resist. If that ‘Qian Kun Lock’ was still there there could still be hope, but since it had already been released by the astrolabe, Ghost Li made the decision to leave immediately.
He was no longer that simple and hot-blooded youth, willing to sacriﬁce everything for righteousness. In his heart, maybe it was because he feared death, but there was something more important than that.
The surrounding earthquakes were becoming more and more violent following the appearance of that red ﬁgure, and just a moment before he had an uneasy feeling; this unprecedented change in the mountain, would it endanger Biyao?
Right now his uneasiness turned stronger and as he had no further intention to be involved here, he decided to leave. Other than him, Mr Ghost was obviously only focusing on that red ﬁgure. He was oblivious to Ghost Li’s departure. Under the red light, his eyes seemed to have turned red too. “Asura…” He raised his arms, calling loudly to the sky.
Ghost Li left. His ears were still ringing with Mr Ghost’s strange cries. His heart felt extremely bewildered. For these ten years Mr Ghost had always been mysterious in the Ghost King sect but even Ghost Li was wary of his skills and knowledge. Unexpectedly he had exhibited this strange behaviour on this day. While he was pondering, his ﬁgure was about to reach the exit and leave this place.
Unexpectedly, just at this moment, a shocking, heartrending cry was heard from behind, “Ah…”
The sound of this sharp and piercing cry was full of shock and fear. Despair, incredulous and sorrowful; Ghost Li heard it clearly: it was Mr Ghost. This sudden change made Ghost Li shocked. He stopped his ﬂight and turned around. This look made him shocked again and he inhaled a breath of cold air.
Mr Ghost’s ﬁgure was still as before, kneeling before the cauldron. But right now his arms were ﬂailing weaklessly on the ﬂoor. A huge deep-red tentacle, as sharp as knife, had stabbed down from the red ﬁgure on the cauldron. Like a huge sickle, it stabbed through from Mr Ghost’s back and to his front. The force was so strong that it stabbed deeply into the sturdy ﬂoor beneath Mr Ghost; for a radius of six chi around all of the stones cracked.
That mysterious red ﬁgure used the terrible sickle-like- tentacle to nail Mr Ghost to the ﬂoor. Blood poured from Mr Ghost’s wound, instantly dying the ﬂoor below red.
Mr Ghost panted heavily. His body trembling violently. After a moment that huge tentacle pulled itself out heartlessly and withdrew. That terrible force pulled up the extremely weak Mr Ghost and he ﬂipped in the air.
Blood sprayed everywhere, brushing past in the air, carrying a sense of sadness.
Who could have expected that Mr Ghost, who had released the ‘Qian Kun Lock’, would become the ﬁrst sacriﬁce to the red evil devil? Ghost Li subconsciously leapt up and caught hold of Mr Ghost. The black veil still there but had been dyed a dark color by the blood he had thrown up. Ghost Li quietly glanced at his chest and then averted his eyes.
That wound was so huge it could almost chop Mr Ghost into half. With such a severe wound he would not be able to survive no matter what. And just a moment ago, he was still standing beside him. In the blink of an eye he had became like this. For a moment Ghost Li did not know what to say.
Holding Mr Ghost’s body, Ghost Li landed back to the platform near the exit, far from that terrible red ﬁgure. Mr Ghost right now was breathing heavily and losing his vitality. Yet with such a heavy injury, Mr Ghost started to laugh quietly.
That laughter was full of bitterness, self-mockery and helplessness. And his laughter only lasted a minute, immediately broken by violent coughing and spewing out of blood. Ghost Li gently placed him on the ground and then alertly glanced at the red ﬁgure. The red ﬁgure shrouded by numerous balls of red energy twisted ceaselessly but did not seem to be making any moves towards the exit. He could not tell if it was separated by the distance. Ghost Li looked at Mr Ghost. After remaining silent for a moment, he quietly said, “Do you have anything more to say?”
Mr Ghost panted heavily. The glint in his eyes obviously started to dim. His voice was hoarse, as he continued to laugh bitterly and brokenly said, “I have nothing...nothing to say... this... this is… heaven’s will... will ah... retribution...retribution...ah…”
Ghost Li frowned tightly, his expression complicated. Although he felt animosity more than friendliness towards Mr Ghost but right now that Mr Ghost was dying his feelings turned complicated. He wanted to say something to comfort him but could not think of any appropriate words.
Just when Mr Ghost’s panting were gradually getting softer, suddenly, he seemed to recall something and with strength from nowhere, he grabbed Ghost Li’s hand.
Ghost Li was shocked. He stared at him in shock and asked, “Why?” “You… go… ﬁnd… until…”
Mr Ghost was in pain, shouting himself hoarse. Every word seemed to cause him great sufferings but he was still bitterly bearing it, word by word struggling to tell Ghost Li his ﬁnal will.
Even though Ghost Li had a tough heart but could not help but have a change in countenance. He solemnly said, “You can tell me, who do you want me to look for?”
Ghost Li was taken aback. He never expected Mr Ghost to say this before he died. With an incredulous tone, he asked, “Find Xiao Huan? Find her for what?”
Mr Ghost’s hand which was grabbing hold of Ghost Li was starting to become weak but he was still struggling to speak every word, “Ask… her… to… save… save… save…” After speaking the word ‘save’, Mr Ghost seemed to have exhausted all of his strength. The glint in his eyes turned dimmer. His entire body seemed to have also weakened. Even his panting was becoming inaudible.
Ghost Li had quite a close relationship with Xiao Huan and also quite liked this young lady. He looked upon her like a sister. Right now hearing that Mr Ghost’s ﬁnal words were actually about Xiao Huan and even when he was so in pain still insisted to tell it, evidently this was an important matter but Mr Ghost seemed like he was about to die speaking halfway. Ghost Li in his anxiety, crouched lower down and placed his ears beside Mr Ghost’s lips, and loudly said, “Who are you asking Xiao Huan to save? Quickly say it!”
Mr Ghost’s lips moved, as if hearing Ghost Li’s shout. He panted urgently for a few times and then used a voice that Ghost Li could barely hear, struggling to say out the last few words, “Save… Qing...Yun… rear… mountain…”
Until the end, it was gradually inaudible. At the ﬁnal word, ‘mountain’, Mr Ghost’s body violently shuddered and then loosened. His breath stopped and he left like that. Ghost Li paused for a moment. He slowly placed Mr Ghost’s body on the ﬂoor, his head full of questions. Qing Yun rear mountain? What did that mean? If he did not hear it wrongly, Mr Ghost’s words meant Qing Yun mountain. But Qing Yun mountain range stretched for thousand of miles, undulating. Which rear mountain did he mean? Qing Yun sect occupied seven of the tallest mountains, and each summit had its own rear, but to save Qing Yun rear mountain, what was it referring to?
Mr Ghost had passed away after speaking halfway. After remaining quiet for a moment Ghost Li sighed and then glanced at Mr Ghost’s body. His eyes were still open and so he closed them and quietly said, “If I have the chance to meet Xiao Huan, I will pass your words to her. It’s just that your words are ambiguous. I’m afraid she might not understand them either.”
After speaking, he stood up and glanced into the distance. He saw that about half of the red ﬁgure was about to emerge. The entire body was red like blood, and its head was still shrouded in a ball of red air. Ghost Li frowned. He was unwilling to remain here any longer. He turned and was about to leave when he suddenly stopped. In that instant a thought suddenly emerged in his mind, like an unsuppressable temptation.
He turned around and looked at Mr Ghost’s body again. There on the dark ﬁgure, the veil was still there. Ghost Li stared at that veil, and suddenly wanted to lift it and see what kind of face it was beneath it.
But in the next moment, he decided to give up on that thought, turned and left.
When Ghost Li left the cave, Xiao Hui on his shoulder quietly called out. Ghost Li was silent. Although he was reluctant to leave those beasts inside the blood pool but right now that place could really be considered the most dangerous place in the whole world. Even with his current skills, Ghost Li had no conﬁdence at all in ﬁghting that terrible power.
The walls and ground were still quaking. Even though he knew that Ghost King was personally guarding Biyao and there should not be any accidents but he was still feeling anxious. This was a calamity they had never had before and clearly Ghost King was the one who laid that formation. It looked to be getting out of control, at least Mr Ghost was an example of that.
No matter what, going against Ghost King, it was better to bring Biyao away ﬁrst.
Right now the mountain was really too dangerous.
While Ghost Li contemplating his ﬁgure started to move faster, sweeping towards the way he had come in from and soon he came to that fork in the tunnel. Just when he was about to enter that entrance which he came in from he suddenly stopped. Deep inside the cave where it should be darkness, a red light ﬂashed and that light was heading swiftly towards him.
For some reason Ghost Li subconsciously ﬂashed into the other tunnel. He concealed himself in a dark corner against the wall, held his breath, and at the same time grabbed Xiao Hui into his embrace and used his hands to cover its mouth. Xiao Hui was already spiritually intelligent. It seemed to understand and also became quiet, motionless in Ghost Li’s embrace.
The tunnel descended into silence but it was not for long. In the next moment a whistle was heard, with deep breathing, sounding more like a wild animal more than a man.
A big tall ﬁgure swept out and landed. Looking from the back, it was Ghost King. Yet this person was completely different from the usual Ghost King. His clothes were for some reason slightly tattered, his limbs and body seemed to be bigger than usual.
A deep [pi pa] sound kept coming out from Ghost King. Not knowing what it was, but his body clearly emanated an extremely familiar smell.
A thick, heavy blood stench! Ghost Li stood in the dark corner, coldly watching this ﬁgure.
Ghost King did not stay at where he was for long. He looked around and then strided to the red light at the end of the distant platform. He walked very fast and very urgent, as if something he was impatiently longing for was waiting for him. He didn’t even notice the strange blood stains on the surrounding ﬂoor.
After Ghost King’s ﬁgure disappeared into the cave, Ghost Li slowly walked out, and he stared at that place, his eyes glinting, not knowing what he was thinking of.
Xiao Hui slowly climbed up to his shoulder, and quietly called out twice.
Ghost Li was silent. He was about to turn when his body shook and his countenance changed greatly. Right now, with the mountain quaking violently, the situation queer, danger was everywhere and yet at this moment Ghost King was alone here, an evil aura surrounding him, obviously different from usual. But, how about Biyao?
At this time, if Ghost King was going to the blood pool who was protecting Biyao?
Ghost Li immediately turned pale, a ringing sound in his head. Like a ﬂash of lightning he leapt up, into the tunnel and ﬂew.
On the way, his heart unceasingly madly chanted:
Biyao… Biyao… nothing must have happened to you…
The entire mountain was shaking. This was the feeling Ghost Li had while on his way. This was the ﬁrst time the earthquake had sustained itself for such a long time and still showed no signs of stopping. On the contrary, the quakes seemed to be getting stronger. Sounds of collapse could be far from afar, making one tremble with fear. When Ghost Li came out of the tunnel and into Ghost King’s residence, that tunnel before him in Ghost King’s room was already destroyed beyond recognition.
Rocks were rolling down everywhere. The once connected tunnels were now riddled with rocks and potholes, and even bigger rocks continued to fall. Rumbling sounds were heard from deep within the mountain. Together with the earthquakes, it made the people feel even clearly that there was some unknown terror.
Ghost Li soon discovered that in the tunnels the Ghost King disciples were like mad and fearful ants, rushing towards the cave exit without any regards for the sect’s usual strict rules. At this critical juncture it had lost all of its effect, nobody bothered with them anymore.
People gathered like rivers. Ghost Li’s urgent steps were soon blocked by the crowd. At this moment everyone was running for their lives, nobody regarded him as the vice sect head and nobody made way for him. Other than people, there were more people.
Ghost Li who was in a panic strided and squeezed ahead. But in front of the person in front of him was another person, and soon, behind Ghost Li, another large group of disciples who were ﬂeeing for their lives had gathered.
He was like an infuriated small ﬁsh in an ocean school of ﬁshes, trying his best to struggle, pushing and trying to dash out but as much as he tried even through the few chi area above people’s head he could only see human bodies.
Beneath his feet, another violent earthquake shook. This time it was so powerful that almost everyone fell. Everywhere were fearful shoutings and bellowings. Cries of pain came from all directions. In that mad crowd, not knowing who fell and was crushed by the human stampede.
Ghost Li’s eyes were bloodshot, his mouth dry. He even felt dizzy. Ahead... ahead... what waited him? What exactly was it? Biyao...his heart shouted with all his might.
Finally, as the human ﬂow squeezed past the tunnel, Ghost Li slipped out at a fork in the tunnel. It was a distance from the Ghost King’s residence and the ice room. Right now he only need to go along this tunnel to go back, and go right to the end and it would do. But then, Ghost Li had just managed to turn a corner when he looked ahead and stopped, despair ﬁlled his face.
This tunnel was also ﬁlled with numerous disciples, struggling to run to the exit. Although in that previous tunnel it was slow-moving but it was moving in the right direction. Right now he had to go against the ﬂow and, looking at the people’s faces ﬁlled with fear and madness, his heart sank.
The earth and mountain shook, different noises came unceasingly. People in their madness and despair continued to ﬂee. And behind them, in that solitary stone room, how was that person? Could it be she was hurt by the rocks?
Did she perhaps see a man cursing loudly in the squeezing crowd, with a similar madness like the surrounding people trying to ﬂee, trying his might to push against the ﬂow of the crowd, trying to come towards her cold room, approaching inch by inch…
A deafening sound exploded behind the people. In the violent quaking, a huge crack on the wall, like a cracked watermelon skin, crumbled into pieces. A piece of it which almost had all of the big and small rocks in the tunnel smashed down, right into the crowd.
In that instant, blood sprayed. Several people died just like that. How many more were injured? In their shock the remaining people were even more terriﬁed and pushed ahead with all their might, and those trapped behind the rock which blocked their way shouted desperately.
Beneath the huge rock, blood ﬂowed, dying huge patches and patches of ground. The despair in the atmosphere permeated among the people. Everyone pushed and struggled with all their might, hitting that huge rock. But that sturdy, solid, huge rock was not something their strengths could move, it was still, coldly unmoving.
The earthquakes around them and the distant loud rumbles carried the message of death, seeming to come nearer and nearer.
And at this moment those nearest to the rock suddenly felt a cold air assault from ahead. The next moment the rock trembled and, closely following it, that trembling became more intense and the rock emitted several successive exploding sounds.
There was a loud sound and the rock actually exploded into pieces. Big pieces of it fell among the dust but the people were overjoyed, who would bothered about it? They lifted their feet and dashed ahead. [Cough cough, cough cough…]
A light coughing sound was heard from the dust as a ﬁgure who appeared to stagger, slowly walked over. The dust had settled on his face and shoulder but he did not brush it off. His pale face was ﬂushed with redness resembling overexertion.
What greeted him was pairs and pairs of delighted eyes, but nobody thanked him. Rather than thanking, the people’s minds were totally consumed with ﬂeeing. The crowd moved. The ﬁrst few at the front were already running over; it looked like the scene of a crowd squeezing to ﬂee was about to be reenacted.
A loud bellow was suddenly heard from Ghost Li. The people ahead abruptly stopped. At this moment Ghost Li’s status as vice sect head was no longer an authority to them. What could make them fear was only the threat of death. This man, whose eyes were red, held the Soul-devouring stick in his hand. The Sinister Orb glimmered with lines of blood light and was stimulated to the max. The cold murderous intention gushed over like the ﬂood of a tide. The same cold words were coming from him.
“Whoever dares to block my path again will suffer the same fate as the stone!”
The people were shocked. The dust which was still swirling around made everyone believed Ghost Li’s threat, and the crazed red light in his eyes made sure that nobody ignored his threat. Silently the people made a narrow path for him. Even though it was small for even one person to walk through but it was the limit.
Ghost Li did not say anything more. He strided ahead, squeezing past the people as he headed to the cold room.
Ahead, at the end of the crowd, there was still someone waiting for him… No matter what, he had to go over!
He clenched his teeth. Not knowing since when his lips already had thin blood ﬂowing out. He looked rather horrible, and nobody dared to look into his eyes. Everyone avoided him like an evil spirit.
But Ghost Li did not care, he was only running ahead with all his might, pushing anyone who was in front of him, following that narrow gap which might be swallowed by the crowd at anytime, he ran with huge steps against the ﬂow.
In this world, how many are there who are really worth caring about?
Suddenly deep beneath the ground rumbling thunder-like crashes were heard again. In the next moment again another wave of violent earthquakes. The walls shook violently and large rocks fell, heartlessly smashing onto the crowd. Cries and howls were heard. In the blink of an eye the earthquake had made them unable to stand, and people were falling all over the place. Not knowing who, someone abruptly shouted loudly, dashed ahead and disregarded everything. In the next moment, everyone else did the same thing, totally forgetting the other dangers.
The perilous gap immediately vanished. Innumerable people squeezed ahead, turning into a stampede and enclosing Ghost Li within it, rushing with all their might in another direction. Ghost Li almost cracked in anger. With a loud bellow, murderous aura surged. His left hand stretched out and, like grabbing a chick, he immediately grabbed an escaping disciple and pulled him before himself. The stick in his right hand stick raised up high, about to strike down, about to kill him to warn the others.
In the faint red glow of the orb ﬂickering with strange evil light, that terriﬁed young disciple’s face was illuminated.
He was only a teen. His face pale and his body was unable to stop trembling due to the fear. His teeth were chattering. Only in his eyes remained a glint, a tiny weak glint.
That was the innate instinctive hope for survival! In that instant, things seemed to freeze: the cold murderous intent and the madness in his heart, the faint glow from the Soul-devouring stick. In the crowd, at the end of the crowd, who was gazing in the distant from the unseen world?
The red glow quietly receded from Ghost Li’s eyes, replacing it were indistinct tears. He released his hands, let go of that young man and then, suddenly and with a loud roar, the stick like wind swiftly struck out, broke through the rock and stabbed into a solid wall at the side.
Ghost Li grabbed the stick tightly and pressed himself close against the wall, burying his head deeply into the shadows.
The human crowd was like a gushing ﬂood rushing past beside him. Innumerable bodies squeezed past him, pressing him, knocking into him, but he did not move and bore it, as if transformed into a stone with no life, quietly waiting.
That young man was swept up by the crowd, involuntarily moving ahead. But in the crowd he kept turning around, a strange look in his eyes. In between the gaps in the human ﬂood, he struggled to ﬁnd that solitary yet preserving ﬁgure. But that ﬁgure soon disappeared among the people, never to be seen again.
Not knowing after how long, in the chaos, that terrible human ﬂood ﬁnally passed on. In the scattered dust, a ﬁgure slowly propped himself up. He was about to walk when suddenly his legs weakened and he almost fell.
Ghost Li inhaled deeply. He clenched his teeth tight and eventually stood up. His clothes, especially the ones on his back, were already in tatters. It was like numerous beasts had trampled past over his back. Even with his cultivation his face was extremely pale. But he did not look like he would take a rest. On the contrary the anxiety on his face increased. There was already no human ﬂood left ahead of him. He strided forward and slightly staggered and ran towards the end of the tunnel.
For some reason, the road ahead seemed dark. He panted, running in the tunnel. The damage to the surrounding walls had became much more serious. Everywhere were collapsed stones. As these stones were reﬂected in Ghost Li’s eyes, he became more anxious.
Finally he was able to see the entrance to the cold room far off in the distance, but immediately he was stunned. His face paled even more. Looking from afar, he clearly remembered a new stone door had just been ﬁxed up but now only stone pieces were left on the ground. Could it be...?
Ghost Li did not dare to continue the thought. He only exerted all of his strength to rush forward.
Suddenly, just when he was moving, without any warning, the rumblings and violent earthquakes below stopped.
It was still a crazy hubbub a moment ago and next it was a strange silence. The contrast was so great it made one almost unable to accept it. Ghost Li paused and still ran ahead. In this sudden silence, in the long corridor, there was only a solitary ﬁgure left, ﬂying deep into the mountain.
And behind him deep darkness slowly gushed, rolling over, without any sound.
He dashed to the entrance and grabbed the door frame. His joints turned white due to the effort, as he looked in.
The world was silent, without any sounds or scenes. In his eyes, there was only the cold room, and that empty stone platform.
Without anything on it... the stone platform!
As if his body’s energy had been sucked out suddenly, his body slackened down. Heaven and earth spun. His entire world seemed to be spinning and trembling. Only that shout still reverberated in his head.
Ghost Li stood up in a daze. He slowly walked into the room. Due to the countless earthquakes the interior of the room was already a scene of devastation. Broken stone pieces were everywhere. The walls were ﬁlled with cracks, numerous big and small. Even the usually clean ﬂoor had a layer of thick dust.
Even around the ice stone platform were several big and small stones. A few had also crashed directly onto the platform. The devastating scene seemed to turn into sharp knives, viciously stabbing into Ghost Li’s heart. He walked staggeringly, breathing heavily with his mouth, his body wavering.
Suddenly, in the corner of his eyes as they brushed past a part of the room, he froze and, in the next moment, started to shake. In that corner where the room’s damage was the heaviest, the stones piling up to half a human’s height, below the pile of stones and underneath a huge rock, a corner of a green cloth was seen.
Green... a corner of a piece of clothes…
Suddenly, like a mad man he dashed over. He rushed to that stone and pushed the stones away; grabbing, digging. The sharp corners of the stones cut and bled his hands but he did not seem to feel it at all.
Finally he moved to the last and the biggest stone, and then he was stunned.
Slowly he crouched down…
Before him, was a corner of green cloth.
But, it was only a corner. His eyes slowly shifted and looked at his surroundings. On the ground full of dust there were many footsteps, big and small. Ghost Li clearly knew that by right these should not be here.
Only he and Ghost King could come in the cold stone room. Any others that could come in like Mr Ghost, had either been with him or were not in the mountain.
And yet in such chaos where everyone was trying to ﬂee, why would there be some people sneaking in here?
The next moment Ghost Li’s countenance turned pale. He had almost subconsciously thought of an answer already:
The Hehuan Bell.
In the Evil sect everyone knew that Hehuan Bell was an exceptional rare Evil sect treasure. It was even comparable to the Black Heart Elder’s Sinister Orb. In their greed, could it be...? Ghost Li did not continue with his thoughts. His mind was instantly a blank.
Deep inside his heart something quietly broke and crumbled, and that ﬁnal support which had held his heart, thin like gossamer, yet shouldering a thousand jin worth of heavy burdens...
There was nothing anymore…
Finally nothing anymore…
Like in a dream that green ﬁgure appeared in his mind suddenly. That faint smile was still beautiful and gentle, but the air around him became colder and colder, assaulting from all directions. Only that ﬁgure was warm, that smile was the last warmth in his heart. It’s just that slowly the ﬁgure turned faint and gradually faded. Even the remnant warmth was also gradually disappearing…
A silent cold like death, like an ice cold tide from somewhere in his memory, gushed over, swallowing him. Biyao…
At the end his heart was calling out this name.
The next moment he fainted. His entire self fell down heavily onto the ﬂoor, stirring up the dust.
In the entire Ghost King sect cave, not a human was to be seen. In the strange silence, suddenly deep below the mountain, a shocking deafening sound exploded.
In that instant the entire mountain started to shake. A strong force from deep below was madly galloping and roaring. All of the stone walls were shaking and the ground started to crack open. And this time, in those cracks, a terrible red glow was revealed.
A blood stench permeated every corner. More and more of the ground looked to soon be swallowed up by that terrible force. It was slowly collapsing down. The red light was getting stronger, and bigger, until in the end even large pieces of stone walls collapsed into that red light.
The terrible roar and mad laughter, like a devil resurrected from the abyss, reverberated from deep within the red light.
Gradually, a huge hole was formed. Blood-red light shot out, and at the perimeter of the hole the ﬂoor and stones continued to fall in, continuously expanding this terrible deep hole.
And in the cold room located far away, the ground and walls were also shaking badly. Rocks kept falling down. A few heavily smashed onto Ghost Li’s body who was on the ground but his body was motionless, without any reaction. Outside the room, the terrible force in the distance seemed to be approaching this direction.
And at this moment, suddenly, a white ﬁgure appeared at the cold room’s entrance. It was Xiao Bai. Frowning tightly, her face somber, she glanced into the room. When she saw the empty stone platform her face also turned pale and then she saw Ghost Li unconscious on the other side of the room.
Without any hesitation, Xiao Bai dashed over and ﬂipped him over. Appearing before her was a pale face which looked to have given up all hope. His body was cold; she almost thought she was holding a dead body.
She clenched her teeth tightly, her gaze moving around. Suddenly she saw Ghost Li holding something tightly. It was a piece of green cloth. Her thoughts spun, comprehended about seventy or eighty percent, and her eyes turning red.
[Rumble! Rumble! Rumble!...]
However, the world was cruel enough to not allow her to grieve. Deafening explosions were again felt from deep below. After another wave of earthquakes, Xiao Bai could sense that the shaking ground below her was gradually collapsing. Red light poured out from the huge gaps below her feet, mixed with extremely high heat. Flowing below, seemed to be searing lava.
Xiao Bai was alarmed. With a light shout, she carried Ghost Li’s body. Both feet touched a fallen rock and ﬂew out of the cold room. She was just out when the entire room collapsed into that terrible red light.
But after leaving, Xiao Bai again turned pale. The situation outside was even worse than the room. The enormous hole was swiftly expanding. Right now it was not only the ground, even the walls and the rocks above were all collapsing down. Xiao Bai leapt and ﬂew among the remaining rocks, occasionally looking down to see endless red light and blazing heat. As expected, a great volume of lava was turbulently surging among the red light.
There were lesser and lesser areas for her to land. Even the remaining bits were swiftly collapsing. Xiao Bai clenched her teeth and sped along while carrying Ghost Li. At this life and death juncture, Xiao Bai suddenly felt a weak light from above. She quickly looked up and saw that, among the thick mountain rock, after the waves of earthquakes and the huge rocks raining down like armageddon, narrow gaps had appeared and revealed the sky. Could it be that as the entire mountain was about to collapse a skyhole had been revealed from above?
A determined look appeared on Xiao Bai’s face. Pushing heavily with her feet she leapt up from the last rock supporting her and ﬂew upwards. Below, that rock also ﬁnally collapsed into the red light. There was no longer any retreat routes.
Blazing hot lava started to bellow like an angry giant, slowly surging upwards. Below the lava, there seemed to be a powerful force supporting it. The next moment the hot lava exploded, evolving into a huge tide, charged up.
In this chaotic scene, with the lava ﬂood below surging up, and the huge rocks and stones raining down from above, Xiao Bai like a white bird, spreading her wings and ﬂying. In the wild storm she ﬂew with all her might towards the sky.
Heaven and earth changed countenance and dark clouds rolled. Majestic Fox Mountain was once the tallest mountain in the region. Right now it was slowly collapsing in a deafening sound and smoke was covering the sky,.
The earth quaking violently, as if even the heaven and earth was in fear of that power.
Amidst the deafening sound, the dust and smoke which reached several hundreds of zhang into the sky, the blazing lava shooting up from the earth into the ﬁrmament, and under this terrible impressive sight of the power of heaven and earth, beside that huge lava tide a tiny white ﬁgure ﬁnally and narrowly ﬂew out of that hell-like mountain at the last minute, heading off into the distance.
Chapter 255 - Leaning close
A white ﬁgure ﬂashed past the horizon, landing on a small hill several miles away from Majestic Fox Mountain. The faint glow ﬂickered for a moment and then dispersed, revealing the Nine-tailed Celestial Fox Xiao Bai.
She gently placed Ghost Li on the ground and then carefully checked. After conﬁrming that he did not having any serious injury, she heaved a sigh of relief and slowly stood up. Her white clothes were spotted with many burn marks, displaying yellow and even black colours, and some of the most badly burned places had holes, revealing her fair skin.
However, Xiao Bai was not concerned at all about her body. After composing herself, she turned and stood, gazed in the direction where she had came from.
Far in the horizon, the huge column of ﬁre left hard-to- remove marks in the air. Even from such a distance Xiao Bai could still feel the heat from the wind. And on that devastated mountain, within the lava which was gradually calming down, the strange red light was instead getting stronger, dancing madly in the air. In the depths of it there seemed to be a blood red ﬁgure, continuously laughing.
Xiao Bai quietly watched for a long time. The expression on her face did not reveal sorrow or loathing. Or maybe it should be said she was only watching indifferently at a scene which might have appeared as an armageddon to humans.
Behind her, a light rustling sound was heard. She turned around and was surprised. Ghost Li was still lying there unmoving but something under his chest seemed to move and a grey ﬁgure crawled out. It was Xiao Hui.
Xiao Bai stared in disbelief and then laughed. She clapped her hands and opened her arms, and said, “Little fellow, I didn’t expect that you were so clever. Come over.”
Xiao Hui crouched on Ghost Li’s chest, glancing at its master. It scratched its head, its three eyes looking around, and then with a [zhi zhi], jumped over and into Xiao Bai’s arms. Xiao Bai smiled warmly, hugged Xiao Hui and gently smoothed its head. She then discovered a number of wounds on its body. Some even had gaping ﬂesh, looking quite serious.
“Ai…” Xiao Bai softly sighed. She shook her head and carried Xiao Hui to Ghost Li, found a root and sat down. She placed Xiao Hui in front of herself and took out a small jade bottle. Her tone was pitying as she said, “Xiao Hui, following this unlucky guy, you must have suffered quite a bit, right?”
Xiao Hui’s eyes all blinked at the same time and then shook its head, like a rattle-drum. At the same time it called out [zhi zhi]. Apparently it looked rather indignant and angry, and seemed like it didn’t like Xiao Bai speaking bad things about Ghost Li.
Xiao Bai rolled her eyes at Xiao Hui. In an annoyed voice she said, “Alright, alright, I know. Your master is the best.”
Xiao Hui grinned, scratching its head, looking rather happy. Xiao Bai hugged Xiao Hui again. At the same time she poured out a few green medicine pills from the bottle, crushed them with her hands and carefully applied the powder onto Xiao Hui’s bleeding wounds. The powder dissolved upon touching the ﬂesh, making [si si] sounds. Immediately Xiao Hui’s wounds stopped bleeding. Clearly the medicine had an amazing effect on superﬁcial wounds.
Xiao Bai waited again for a moment until the medicine had completely disappeared into the wounds and then tore a few cloth strips from her clothes and carefully wrapped Xiao Hui’s wounds. Xiao Hui remained very quiet throughout the whole process, allowing Xiao Bai to do what she wanted. Most likely it also understood Xiao Bai’s good intention.
Soon, Xiao Bai had ﬁnished bandaging Xiao Hui’s wounds. Xiao Hui’s chest, right arm, left leg and back of the head were banaged, looking rather like a seriously injured soldier and comical at the same time.
Xiao Hui also did not seem to be used to it. It kept looking at itself, and at the same time its arms were getting restless. It looked like it was about to opern the bandaged wounds to take a look. Xiao Bai glared at it and angrily said, “Don’t move!” Xiao Hui was startled and jumped back. It then grinned and really did not move.
At this moment, Ghost Li suddenly moved. A low groan escaped from his lips. Both of them immediately looked over. After a moment Xiao Bai softly sighed.
That man was clearly still unconscious but he was still calling that name out from his lips:
Xiao Bai stood up, walked a few steps out into open ground, and gazed over at Majestic Fox Mountain. Behind her, Xiao Hui scratched its head and followed. It caught hold of Xiao Bai’s clothes and clambered up to sit on Xiao Bai’s shoulder.
Xiao Bai’s eyes had a faint sorrow in them. She stretched out her hand and gently smoothed Xiao Hui’s body. Before them, that mountain had vanished forever from the world, leaving only a terrible huge abyss, and in that abyss lava continued to ﬂow, with that red light above it. “Xiao Hui, what do we do?” Xiao Bai softly asked. Even though she was asking Xiao Hui but it seemed more like she was asking herself. Her brows gently frowned. There seemed to be inexplicable grief and tenderness inside, “Biyao has left, I am really afraid that he… will not live on.”
Xiao Hui did not speak, only staring dumbly at Xiao Bai. Its three eyes turned slowly. Not knowing if it understood, Xiao Bai smiled faintly. With some bitterness she turned around and looked at that man who was breathing but looked as if he no longer had any vitality .
“What should we do? Looking at him like this... it is also hard for me…”
Xiao Hui suddenly called [zhi zhi]. Xiao Bai glanced sideways and then with a bitter laugh, shook her head and carried Xiao Hui down. She embraced it and spoke softly, “Go home? It seems not bad but…” she glanced at Ghost Li, shook her head and gently said to Xiao Hui, “Does he have a home?”
For some reason Xiao Bai felt a pain in her heart. She looked over blankly at Ghost Li’s face. Not knowing since when, the sides of the man’s hair already had grey hairs.
Some said the vicissitudes of life can be thousands of ten thousands of years but it can also be in the blink of an eye. It’s just that in this mortal world’s lifetime, who could deﬁne it clearly?
Xiao Bai was feeling lost and sank into faint thoughts, until moments later she was alerted by Xiao Hui’s movement and cries. She shook her head and made a bitter laugh. This time, she was herself again. It had been so many years already but she was still sentimental.
Following which, she turned and looked at Xiao Hui. Xiao Hui leapt down, stood on the ground and gestured, at times pointing towards the north, calling [zhi zhi] non-stop.
Xiao Bai watched for a while, her brows slowly frowning. After a long time she suddenly said, “You mean we should go to his ﬁrst home?”
Xiao Hui nodded unceasingly. Xiao Bai glanced at Ghost Li, saw him still unconsciousness, and was silent for a moment. She sighed and said, “We can only do this. Let’s go. Anyway, no matter what, it is better than staying here.”
Xiao Hui grinned. Xiao Bai stretched out her hand. Xiao Hui leapt up and soon was at her shoulder. Xiao Bai then walked towards Ghost Li, crouched down, looked at him for a moment and gently said, “Alright, let’s go home.”
A white light, suddenly lit up on this small hill, charged up into the clouds, determined and without any regrets, ﬂying towards north.
The mountain breeze blew over on the earth, the heat still within it, like a warm hand gently consoling the wounded earth. And far away, the huge abyss still shrouded in the red shadow, facing the living things on earth, twisted unceasingly, as if demonstrating its might, and yet also as if it were laughing.
Central Plains, Qing Yun Hill. At the foot of Qing Yun Hill, it was still lush, an exuberant scene. Everywhere was green: green grasses and thick forests. Deep within the trees, the pleasant cries of birds could be heard frequently. Although it did not have that celestial air like Qing Yun’s seven mountains but it had the warmth of the mortal world.
Devastated buildings and ruins quietly stood amidst a stretch of thick brambles and wild vegetation. This was once the place called ‘Grasstemple Village’ and now things had already changed with the passing of time.
A light breeze blew over. Lush grass swayed, carrying a fresh grass fragrance.
White light slowly descended from the sky. Before Xiao Bai could stand ﬁrmly, Xiao Hui had already jumped down from her shoulder. It rolled viciously a few times on the ground, happily calling out. It seemed extremely excited.
Xiao Bai revealed a smile and then carefully supported Ghost Li to lean against a broken wall. Ghost Li had awoken from unconsciousness but, looking at him, he seemed even worse than before he fainted.
His face was extremely pale, almost without any colour. Although his eyes were open but they looked vacant, without any expression. He did not move and also did not blink. He looked more like a zombie rather than a living person.
Seeing Ghost Li like this, Xiao Bai looked rather anxious. Ghost Li had actually already woken up a few days before they arrived but from the moment he woke up he had been like this. There was no change at all. Xiao Bai had tried all kinds of ways and talked her mouth dry but it was still to no avail.
Xiao Bai once even doubted whether her numerous gentle persuasions and heartfelt words were actually ever heard by Ghost Li at all.
However, even she understood but had never expected that Biyao’s departure would cause such a great hurt to Ghost Li. Other than crying she was also helpless. Although she was a Nine-tailed celestial fox with over thousand years of cultivation, but towards humans’ emotions what could she do? Beside her, Xiao Hui leapt and jumped into the nearby forest. After a while it again ran out, a few wild fruits in its hands. It ran over and passed them to her with a [zhi zhi]. It seemed like it was very familiar with the surrounding territory. Xiao Bai glanced at the grey monkey. She sighed and took a wild fruit. With a rather bitter smile she said, “Xiao Hui, ah, you are still the best, always so happy the whole day. If only your master could also be the same as you, then…”
She shook her head gently and did not speak anymore. She bit into the fruit and tasted the sweet juice. It was delicious.
Xiao Hui grinned at Xiao Bai and again presented the fruit to Ghost Li but Ghost Li still had that look. Xiao Hui waited for a while and, seeming to know that Ghost Li would not take it, only shrugged its shoulders and placed the fruits on the ground. It grabbed one and, snuggling up to Ghost Li, ate with big mouthfuls.
It happened to be noon. Two people and one monkey were in this dilapidated village. They sat quietly like that. Xiao Bai did not speak anymore and Ghost Li was still the same. Naturally he would not speak either. As for Xiao Hui, after eating some wild fruits, it leaned its head against Ghost Li’s legs, its four limbs wide open as it slept soundly.
Time unconsciously, silently slipped away. The sky changed. In the blue ﬁrmament above white clouds drifted past, one after another. A gentle breeze blew past. The green grass made light [hua hua] sounds, rustling the clothes and hair, giving a feeling of sluggishness.
The sun headed to the west and the sky gradually darkened.
As the night descended and the moon appeared, still far above in the horizon, a few stars started to twinkle, watching another night in this mortal world.
Xiao Hui was snoring softly, ﬂipped over and continued to sleep. In its dream its face seemed to still be smiling. Not knowing if it was because it easily forgot its worries and sadness and only remembered the happy things?
Under the faint moonlight Xiao Bai quietly stood up. She looked up at the moon and seemed to be contemplating something. After a long time she turned back and glanced at that unmoving ﬁgure which had already merged into the darkness.
She softly sighed and strode out. The night breeze blew gently, her white clothes ﬂuttering. Walking solitary under the moonlight, that beautiful and full ﬁgure was just like an ancient beauty as she drifted off.
This night the moon was especially bright.
In Qing Yun Hill’s Small Bamboo Valley, Lu Xueqi stood by herself before the window, her white clothes like snow, bright like frost, reﬂecting her beautiful face. Moonlight spilled down from the sky onto her at the window, like ripples of water.
On countless such nights, she sat quietly before the window, watching the night sky full of stars.
Brightly illuminating that lone ﬁgure, reﬂecting the sympathy of the moonlight chill. From far away bamboo rustling sounds were still heard. That was the wind blowing past the bamboo forest in Small Bamboo Valley. Under the moonlight the light breeze also blew over here, quietly into the window, ﬂuttering a very small corner of her clothes.
Tianya quietly leaned against the side of the window. Like its beautiful owner it was moonbathing in the cold clear moonlight, watching the horizon.
The moon slowly shifted to mid-sky. Lu Xueqi was still quietly watching. Between her brows pining and sadness caused her brows to be slightly locked together.
“Are you still doing well?”
She whispered almost inaudibly. Gentle moonlight still quietly sprinkled out but without any ripples.
The pining on her beautiful face seemed to increase. Suddenly, at this moment, she seemed to sense something. Her brows frowning, her body which was leaning slowly sat straight up. Both of her eyes glittered brightly. She looked away from the horizon and towards the outside of the house.
Outside the house, not far from it, was a small stretch of bamboo forest. Under the moonlight the slender bamboos cast thin shadows on the ground. Right now among the shadows there was an indistinct human ﬁgure there.
Lu Xueqi’s countenance changed. She stood up and coldly spoke, “Which master is it? Please show yourself!”
Bamboo shadows swayed. That ﬁgure seemed weightless, standing on the thin bamboo branches. After a long time there was a sudden deep sigh and then someone faintly said, “Even I can’t help being attracted upon seeing you. No matter what, whenever I look at you, you are always this stunning.”
Lu Xueqi’s eyes turned cold. She looked deep into the forest, but for some reason the intruder’s voice was gentle and pleasant and very familiar. She had heard it somewhere before. While trying to recall, her face was still as cold as frost. Lu Xueqi said, “Who is it?”
A breeze blew over. The bamboos suddenly shook strongly, disturbing the shadows on the ground. A white ﬁgure similar to Lu Xueqi ﬂoated out. It was Xiao Bai.
Under the moonlight her face was like a painting. Her skin was glittering and clear. A faint coquettish look was indistinctly between her brows. Her beauty was not inferior to Lu Xueqi at all.
Lu Xueqi was surprised. She didn’t expect it to be Xiao Bai.
Stunned, she asked, “Why is it you?”
Xiao Bai smiled faintly and said, “Naturally it is me, why can’t it be?”
Lu Xueqi was silent for a moment, and said, “Are you here to look for me? What is the matter?” Xiao Bai glanced at her, smiled and said, “Now it is so late in the night yet you are not sleeping, leaning against the window and staring at the moon. I wonder who you are thinking of?”
Lu Xueqi’s fair face blushed and then she humphed, and sternly said, “This is none of your business. What exactly are you here for? This is our Qing Yun sect’s Small Bamboo Valley territory. If you do not explain yourself clearly, don’t blame me for being rude!”
Xiao Bai slowly spoke, “Oh, really? Alright then, I will say it. Actually it is because of the person you are thinking of that I am here.”
Lu Xueqi’s body shook. She looked up at Xiao Bai, saw her still smiling but without any mockery, hesitated and slowly said, “He… he... what happened to him?”
Xiao Bai said, “He is now at the Grasstemple Village at the foot of the mountain.” Lu Xueqi shook. Agitated emotion ﬂashed past her face. Even the jade-like hands clutching the window tightened. In the next moment a faint shadow shrouded her face, and she quietly said, “I will not go.”
Xiao Bai was surprised, and said, “What?”
Lu Xueqi was quiet for a moment, slowly looked down and said, “Our sect is in a mess right now. Teachers and elders are all troubling over it. Furthermore with his current identity… if I go to him I will be defying the sect rules, breaking commandments. And even if I meet him, what will it do?”
Speaking this, she seemed emotional. Her teeth bit gently on her lower lip. Ihaling deeply, as if she was trying to compose herself, after a period of silence, a rush of emotions still poured from the depths of her heart until it ﬁlled her entire body. She couldn’t restrain herself and burst out, “Is… is he still doing well?”
Xiao Bai did not speak, quietly watching her. Lu Xueqi felt a wave of uneasiness, like a shiver running through her body.
She looked deeply at Xiao Bai and held her breath.
After a period of silence Xiao Bai quietly said, “Biyao has departed.”
Lu Xueqi was as if being struck by lightning. She stood dumbly, her mouth ajar but could not speak a word. Her mind was ringing and in a blank.
Xiao Bai faintly said, “You and him are not considered outsiders. He is now…”
“What happened to him? How is he now?” Lu Xueqi, as if suddenly shaken awake, her face pale, repeatedly asked, looking like she could no longer stand ﬁrmly. Xiao Bai was silent and said, “He is not very well now. I am at lost too. That’s why I came to look for you.”
Lu Xueqi’s elegant brows frowned tightly. Deep worry etched on her face. She who was always cold and composed, was right now at a loss. She panted lightly, as if a heavy burden had suddenly pressed onto her chest. Suddenly she looked up and stared at Xiao Bai.
Xiao Bai did not speak, only lightly nodded.
The window before Lu Xueqi fell apart. Her white ﬁgure caught hold of Tianya and swept out, charging up into the sky.
What sect rules, what commandments?
In her eyes, there was only sparkling tears and an unsuppressable yearning. Dashing up into the sky, she ﬂew as swift as the wind!
A gale like a knife blew against her face, yet it could not extinguish the ﬁre which had tonight ﬁnally burned ﬁercely after being suppressed for so long.
How was he? Biyao’s departure, what kind of hurt it would be? After ten years of time it seemed only she could truly understand this man!
She ﬂew against the wind, determined and obsessed, not turning back once. In the dark late night ahead, was that darkness shrouding him? Was that terrible chill invading him?
She wanted to ﬂy to his side.
And be with him!
Under the moonlight, leaving a shadow. Xiao Bai slowly walked to the ruined window, watched for a long time and then slowly looked up. The moonlight spilled down silently, illuminating her body.
She closed her eyes, slowly, and slowly let out a long breath, revealing a smile.
It was faint and with some degree of bitterness, and yet it also contained some joy…
The bright moon high up, scant stars in the cold night.
The night wind carrying some chill blew over. The wild grass in the abandoned Grasstemple Village appeared undulating in the moonlight, swaying like the waves in the sea. The vast late night was silent. Only deep within the grass, from somewhere, a cricket’s cries could be heard at times.
In a dark corner, Ghost Li was still in the same position, sitting against the wall unmoving. Xiao Hui was sleeping against him. The night breeze blew past, and it seemed to feel chilly. It murmured and turned and rolled up. Even its tail was pressed in tightly as it continued to sleep.
Suddenly in the clear moonlight a white ﬁgure swiftly landed. Her speed was so fast that when she reached the ground, the surrounding grasse ﬂattened outwards with a [hua] sound. After a long while, they slowly recovered.
The white light scattered, revealing Lu Xueqi’s anxious face. Her gaze swept past the ruins. Nothing had really changed, other than a few empty spaces illuminated by the light. The rest were in darkness.
She did not see anyone.
She stood for a moment and slowly strode out, walking into the abandoned ruins.
Behind every wall and under every building, maybe there was a story. There was once families’ happy laughter, grief and sorrow, all buried under the mud, and now, under the cold moon and cool wind, there was only sadness left. Tianya in Lu Xueqi’s hand softly emanated a faint glow. Light and darkness ﬂickered, as if it knew its owner’s complicated emotions. The white ﬁgure walked among the ruins.
Suddenly, under her feet among the wild vegetation, a small sharp cry was heard. In this quiet night it was especially shrill. Lu Xueqi turned pale. Her body froze and then a ﬁeld mouse scurried out from under her feet and into another thick patch of grass.
Lu Xueqi was stunned for a moment and then let out a long breath. Right now her emotions were highly strung. The things she would not usually bother with right now made her tremble. It’s just that this sudden sharp cry, although it gave her a small scare but at the same time it awoke the monkey who had been sleeping soundly.
Before it woke up, its ears were already turning. The next moment Xiao Hui’s three eyes blinked open.
Footsteps sounds came from the other side of the ruins. Xiao Hui crawled up looked around and discovered Xiao Bai missing. The monkey immediately became alert. It stood for a while glancing at Ghost Li, but its owner was still the same. And then Xiao Hui turned and crawled up the wall that Ghost Li was leaning against and looked towards the sound of the footsteps.
In the darkness the golden eye on its forehead slowly lit up.
Lu Xueqi walked for a while. Although it was not long but in her heart it seemed like a thousand years. Everywhere was empty and dark, and her heart full of anxiety, and now fear. Could it be in this short time Xiao Bai was not around he, by himself, would do silly things?
Her face was pale again. Her steps subconsciously quickened, as if she had seen her heart about to explode with deep anxiety. Just when she made another two steps, she suddenly stopped.
On a broken wall ahead, a golden spot lit up. But it was not a ﬁreﬂy. It was an eye watching her. The moonlight ahead shifted a little, illuminating the shadows. A grey monkey with three eyes could be seen on the wall, its body bandaged with some cloth and looking comical.
Lu Xueqi’s heart immediately pounded. Almost without any thoughts, she swept over, her ﬁgure casting a faint shadow under the moonlight, like the last ﬂower disappearing in spring.
Xiao Hui saw Lu Xueqi swiftly moving over. It scratched its head, seeming hesitant. Among the women its owner were close to, Lu Xueqi was the most unfamiliar. The other ladies like Xiao Bai, or Xiao Huan etc, all smiled happily and embraced Xiao Hui, or smothered it or made jokes. Only this lady in white was cold like frost, and never interacted with Xiao Hui.
But even though it was so, Xiao Hui also clearly knew this woman had a different relationship with its master. Watching her coming close, Xiao Hui did not make any reaction. Though the monkey did not react but Lu Xueqi did. She caught hold of the monkey with an anxious face, not seeing any other person other than the monkey, her voice started to tremble, and said, “Where… where did he go?”
Xiao Hui was held up in the air by Lu Xueqi. Though the hands were the fair and beautiful but the owner of the hands did not care about being polite. She subconsciously increased her strength, and Xiao Hui, feeling annoyed, gestured and called out [zhi zhi]. But without waiting for it to display its protest, Lu Xueqi already looked over and saw that deep inside the darkness a ﬁgure was quietly sitting there.
The monkey who was protesting suddenly lost its support and fell down. It seemed like it landed on one of its wounds and Xiao Hui immediately bared it teeth, jumping up and hatefully pulling a long face at Lu Xueqi’s back.
Lu Xueqi slowly went around the wall and walked to Ghost Li. Before her was a body that seemed to have lost its life. Empty listless eyes stared ahead. Not knowing which place he was looking at, the entire face was wan and sallow. A faint decay smell wafted out from his body, making it easy for someone to mistake him as a corpse.
Tianya fell from her hand and onto the ground. She did not look at it once. She slowly, crouched down before Ghost Li, two glittering tears rolling down her face.
Ghost Li’s body suddenly moved, as if this familiar name touched him somewhere deep inside his heart. But the next moment he resumed that lost look, like a tired bird, preferring to hide in its own invisible nest and not wishes to see the outside world.
Trembling, Lu Xueqi stretched out her hands. She slowly held his face. That familiar face, etched in her heart, the person whom she pined for on numerous nights. Her lips trembling, her voice choked, she said, “Xiao Fan, I am here, it is me, I am Xueqi…”
He did not move, his face expressionless.
The cold night blew past. The vegetation made disturbing noises. The grey monkey crouched at the side, watching them. Under the cold light, who would pay attention to this insigniﬁcant corner, the couple struggling with a mortal love?
Clear tears fell from her face, onto Ghost Li’s face, wet and containing warmth. Lu Xueqi sat beside Ghost Li. The place she touched was cold like ice.
“Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared…” On Lu Xueqi’s face, behind the tears, a determination and courage appeared. She gently embraced Ghost Li’s face, using the warmth of her chest to warm that body which was about to collapse from losing hope.
She tightly embraced that man, refusing to let go again. Slowly looking up at the horizon, at that bright moon, bright and clear.
“Xiao Fan, don’t be scared.”
“It will be alright…”
“Everything will be alright!”
She softly spoke, her voice gentle yet determined.
The moonlight was like water, spilling into the world, gently illuminating the ﬁgures which were leaning close to each other.
Chapter 256 - Memorial Tablet
In the divine great land, in the vast mountains and the fertile Central plains, right now was still a scene of prosperity and peacefulness. There was not a single sign of the events happening at the fringe of the secluded southwest mountains.
However, right now there are two people ﬂying towards the Ghost King sect headquarters. It was Jin Pinger and Taoist Cang Song who were coming back after damaging Qing Yun mountains’ heaven seals.
After they had accomplished their tasks, they obeyed Ghost King’s instructions to carefully explore the surroundings of Qing Yun Hill, which took them a few more days. On their way back, Taoist Cang Song was reticent, sometimes hardly saying any words the entire day. Jin Pinger more or less understood his conﬂicted feelings. But even though she knew she was not the kind or soft-hearted type. On the contrary she was still smiling and glibly, but inside she disdained Taoist Cang Song.
As they travelled back, about a hundred miles from the Majestic Fox Mountain, after travelling for a whole day, the two of them descended to the ground and casually found a deserted valley to rest in. This valley was quite small. From the mountains a small stream ﬂowed down, traversing the bottom of the valley, ﬂowing downhill. The stream was clear. After travelling for a day, Jin Pinger was long thirsty and so went to the stream and drank a mouthful.
The water was cold but sweet to the taste. Jin Pinger couldn’t help but take a few more mouthfuls and then let out a long sigh. She turned back and smiled, “Priest, this stream water is rather good, aren’t you coming to take a drink?”
Taoist Cang Song sat on a stone beside him and shook his head. His expression looked rather sombre. In fact his expression had been like that ever since he came back from Qing Yun Hill. Jin Pinger noticed it, and secretly laughed in her heart. She couldn’t be bothered to comment on it. Turning around, she cupped some water in her hands and sprayed it on her face, and then looked up and shook her head to shake off the water. She felt a refreshing feeling from her face to the bottom of her heart, an indescribable satisfaction.
Under the sunlight, the crystal clear beads of water on her fair skin looked like pearls as they rolled down. Her chest was slightly damp from the water droplets, indistinctly revealing full delicate skin, a seductive beauty.
“Miss Jin.” Suddenly, Taoist Cang Song spoke behind her.
Jin Pinger didn’t expect Taoist Cang Song to speak. She felt surprised and turned around, smiling with her signature coquettish smile, and said, “What is it Priest?”
Taoist Cang Song’s eyes were slightly lowered. He did not look at Jin Pinger’s beautiful face which could mesmerize all. He frowning slightly and seemed to have many heavy thoughts. After hesitating for a moment, he said, “Ghost King sect’s head instructed us to secretly damage Qing Yun mountains’ heaven seals. I understand the purpose of doing that. Evil sect…”
Speaking halfway, he paused. Jin Pinger smiled and looked at him but her eyes had mockery within. Taoist Cang Song continued, “...the holy sect wants to dominate the world. Qing Yun sect is naturally the arch enemy, so damaging their heaven seals is of the utmost importance. However, I do not understand, why did Ghost King sect head want us to investigate all of the towns and villages within a hundred miles around Qing Yun and the commoners living there. Those commoners are all harmless people, even if they worship Qing Yun sect but it’s not enough to warrant the holy sect to deal with them right?”
Jin Pinger smiled and said, “Why? Don’t tell me priest is feeling compassion and wants to deliver the people from suffering?”
Taoist Cang Song’s face turned dark, and said, “I only think that it is sufﬁcient to just deal with Qing Yun sect. If those innocent commoners are also implicated then that is really unnecessary.”
Jin Pinger laughed and said, “Priest, why are you angry? I did not say anything!” after speaking, she paused and said, “Actually, investigating the towns and villages around Qing Yun Hill is indeed instructed by Ghost King sect head. As for the reason itself, I too am not sure. But from what I see, with Ghost King sect head’s bearing, he also does not seem like a madman who massacres innocents for no reason right?” Taoist Cang Song’s face looked slightly relieved. After contemplating for a moment he seemed to agree with Jin Pinger’s words but he still looked worried. He shook his head and said, “Though it may be so but I still don’t get why we have to check out those commoners. Other than their high population, what else would look out of place? Those commoners, even if a few hundreds or thousands grouped up, they are still not able to go against a cultivated martial artist.”
Jin Pinger smiled and said, “Even we are able to consider this. Ghost King sect head’s thoughts are as deep as the sea. Why wouldn’t he also have thought of that? So priest, you don’t have to go and imagine things.”
Taoist Cang Song softly sighed, and said, “It is thus because Ghost King sect head’s thoughts are as deep as the sea that I am unable to guess even the slightest intention. Although logically it should be so but I’m only afraid he might suddenly…” At the end, he seemed to ﬁnd himself being senseless. With a bitter laugh, he shook his head and did not speak anymore.
But Jin Pinger was naturally not the type to worry about the commoners at the foot of Qing Yun Hill. Instead, Taoist Cang Song’s strange attitude made her displeased. They themselves didn’t even know their own fates and they still had the mind to worry about others? Don’t tell her these fellows from the Good Faction were all of such character, unable to change even after joining the evil sect?
Jin Pinger shrugged her shoulders, feeling bewildered towards this kind of weird stuff. She turned and again walked to the stream, thinking to wash her face again before continuing the journey. Speaking indifferently she said, “Priest you don’t have to worry. Why are you worried about nothing…”
Jin Pinger suddenly paused. The words seemed to be stuck in her throat. Even her body seemed to freeze.
In the clear stream there was suddenly a patch of blood. The colour was dark red, ﬂoating along with the current, and slowly permeating. Jin Pinger stared at the blood, her expression slowly turning ugly, recalling that she had just drank the water here and washed her face. Her stomach churned and she felt nauseous. She stood there and stared for a while and then her gaze traced up the stream to the source. The blood stain was indeed ﬂowing down from the top. Like a thin long string in the water, unbroken.
Jin Pinger snorted. She strode up the stream, behind her, Taoist Cang Song saw her walking away and was curious and asked, “Miss Jin, what happened?”
Jin Pinger did not answer him, her eyes following the stream. Taoist Cang Song frowned and walked over. His expression also changed after discovering the change in the stream. After hesitating, he also followed Jin Pinger.
The stream was neither deep nor wide, and the water was only knee-deep. In three or four steps one could reach the other bank, but the stream babbled and meandered and was actually rather long. Both of them walked for about an hour in the valley and it looked like they were about to walk out of it and yet were still unable to see the head of the stream.
Jin Pinger and Taoist Cang Song looked at each other, both frowning. They were not commoners and naturally knew that if the blood had come from humans or animals, it would still be seen for about one or two zhang, but after such a long distance it would have long dissolved into the water. The blood stain in the water was still visible and deﬁnitely unusual.
In the mountains the wind blew past the valley, making strange whistling sounds. The forests swayed and made [hua hua] sounds, increasing the gloominess.
Taoist Cang Song suddenly stopped. Jin Pinger frowned and looked at him, “What is it?”
Cang Song Taoist was silent and then said, “I think we better not meddle.”
Jin Pinger raised her brows. She did not expect this from Cang Song Taoist, and said, “Priest, you are not afraid are you?”
A ﬂash of anger was seen on his face but he suppressed it and said, “The important matters ﬁrst. We have been out on Ghost King sect head’s commands for quite some time already. I think we had better go back and report ﬁrst.” After speaking, and without waiting for Jin Pinger’s response or to look at that mocking gaze, he turned and, wielding his sword, ﬂew off by himself.
Jin Pinger watched his back ﬁgure and coldly snorted. Her eyes had disdain. For a moment she couldn’t bother to go after him, and turned and looked at the blood stain. Slowly her face turned serious.
Suddenly, within the vast valley, a low groan was heard from the upper reaches of the stream. Jin Pinger was deep in her thoughts and was startled by the sound. She quickly turned around and saw only the forest ahead. The stream had a turn from the fringe of the forest and the source of the groan was blocked by the dense forest.
Since she was already here, naturally she would not ignore it. Her body ﬂoating lightly, sweeping over and into the forest. With a few leaps she stood at one of the branches of the trees and looked down.
Her expression immediately changed greatly. Taoist Cang Song ﬂew in mid-air, deliberately slowed his speed and waited for a while. Unexpectedly Jin Pinger did not come along. Taoist Cang Song watched the empty space behind him and felt frustrated. Although Jin Pinger had been cordial with him in the past few days and had addressed him as priest but Taoist Cang Song was well aware of her disdain and mockery for him.
Or maybe Jin Pinger did not mean to be but Taoist Cang Song felt it was so. Taoist Cang Song could not be blamed too. Ever since he had betrayed Qing Yun and joined the evil sect, he had gradually became more sensitive.
Just as Taoist Cang Song was fuming, deliberating whether to continue on or turn back for Jin Pinger, a faint purple light lit up behind him. It was Jin Pinger.
The brilliant light ﬂashed. Jin Pinger came to Taoist Cang Song, the strong wind ﬂapped her clothes. Jin Pinger looked preoccupied and did not have her usual smile.
Jin Pinger smiled to Taoist Cang Song, but her smile looked rather forced and was not the usual coquettish one, as she said, “Priest, let’s go.”
Taoist Cang Song snorted, turned and continued on, not speaking a word. Jin Pinger was not angry at all from his rude behaviour. Instead she followed him slowly, looking at his back, yet her eyes showed complicated thoughts.
This valley was still a hundred miles from the mountain, in- between were undulating mountain ranges. Usually if people wanted to travel to Majestic Fox Mountain from here, travelling over the mountains and rivers would take at least half a month but to Taoist Cang Song and Jin Pinger who could ﬂy with their weapons, it would take less than half a day.
It’s just that when they were about to reach the mountain, they seemed to take a hit to their faces. Even Jin Pinger, who was deep in thought, was speechless. As they slowly descended, the scene in front of them gradually became clearer. That lofty Majestic Fox Mountain was no longer there. On the ground where the huge mountain once stood, a huge abyss had appeared. From far away they could hear the raging hot lava below and see numerous strange red rays of light shooting out from the abyss and into the sky. It was really like a scene of the devil. In the air a strong blood stench lingered.
“Why is it like this, what happened?”
Taoist Cang Song muttered as he landed on the ground and looked around. He saw that within a ten miles radius of the deep abyss, everywhere was enveloped by the strange red light. The once exuberant forests had all withered, leaving only tree branches and trunks, a frightful sight.
Taoist Cang Song looked around and was in a panic when Jin Pinger suddenly exclaimed, her tone surprised. Taoist Cang Song glanced over, and saw Jin Pinger pointing to the right, quietly said, “Look over there.”
Cang Song Taoist followed her hand and was also shocked. In the red light ahead several ﬁgures walked out. Looking carefully, they were all strong ﬁt men wearing Ghost King sect uniforms and seemed like they were all Ghost King sect disciples. Taoist Cang Song heaved a sigh of relief. It seemed like something big had happened while they were away but with Ghost King’s ability, nothing could really take him down. With these disciples still around, most likely the Ghost King sect was not affected much.
The group of disciples who appeared to be patrolling seemed to notice them too. They turned and approached them. Taoist Cang Song went up to meet them and loudly said, “I am Cang Song, what had happened here?”
Jin Pinger did not speak, her eyes looking intently at the distant red light which shrouded the abyss, and then followed behind Taoist Cang Song. Her brows knit tightly, watching the approaching disciples.
As they came near, those people were clearly Ghost King’s disciples. The leader among them nodded to Taoist Cang Song and bowed, but for some reason his movement looked stiff. He spoke, “Greeting… er… priest…”
Taoist Cang Song frowned. The disciple’s tone was rather weird, his words in pieces. Together with his rather stiff actions, he seemed like a wooden person. Where did they get this person who seemed so unpresentable?
But Taoist Cang Song did not want to bother with this and directly asked, “Where is Ghost King sect head? We have matters to report to him.”
The disciple was still wooden. He slowly turned and pointed to the red light and said, “Sect head, er, is inside, er… has waited a very long for you… er…”
Taoist Cang Song was impatient. The person seemed to take great effort to speak. He waved his hands and said, “Alright, lead the way.”
The disciple nodded and turned, slowly speaking, “Yes...er!”
They once again headed toward the abyss, Taoist Cang Song wanted to ask the reason for the destruction but dismissed the thought after the conversation. Asking this wooden guy was like receiving punishment. He would rather ask Ghost King sect head later. Jin Pinger followed behind, slowly walking, her eyes quietly watching those disciples. Other than their stiff actions, they looked the same as normal people. There was no other unusualness but the wariness in Jin Pinger’s eyes instead heightened.
As they neared the abyss they also got nearer to the red light. Jin Pinger suddenly realized those disciples’ eyes were slowly turning red, like fresh blood red, and their actions also started to be smoother and quicker.
As if the red light gave them some sort of strength.
As they approached nearer to the light, about two zhang away, Taoist Cang Song suddenly felt uneasy, but he could not ﬁnd the reason for it. Just at this moment, suddenly, there was a light exclamation. Everyone turned around and saw Jin Pinger was sitting on the ground, her hand over her heart, loudly panting. Her face was pale and she looked like she was in extreme pain.
Taoist Cang Song was shocked, and said, “What happened to you?” Jin Pinger took a few breaths, shook her head and with a bitter laugh said, “This is an existing condition. I am like this sometimes. My heart will feel a sharp pain suddenly and only subside after an hour. I will be back to a normal person after that. My condition has been good for many years but I didn’t expect it will come back today.”
Taoist Cang Song was stunned, and said, “Then right now you… what should we do?”
Jin Pinger looked extremely exhausted, and said, “I am alright. I will be ﬁne after resting for a while. Why not do it like this? You go ahead ﬁrst and report to Ghost King sect head, and I will come afterwards.”
Taoist Cang Song frowned, nodded and said, “It can only be so. You have a good rest then.”
Jin Pinger smiled weakly and said, “Thanks priest.”
Taoist Cang Song humphed, turned and walked ahead. Interrupted by Jin Pinger, he had forgotten the uneasiness earlier. Those disciples behind him seemed to be slightly perturbed, though their actions were not as stiff but their reactions were still slow. Their red eyes swept around and ﬁnally most of them followed Taoist Cang Song, leaving only two standing beside Jin Pinger.
Jin Pinger sat on the ground. She coughed and breathing heavily while watching the group escort Taoist Cang Song into the sheet of red light, and then there was no other sounds.
Her head slowly dropped down. Her breathing slowly became rapid again but her concealed eyes had turned extremely bright. Taoist Cang Song did not know at that valley earlier, behind the forest, what Jin Pinger had seen were actually a few of Ghost King sect disciples’ corpses, and their states were something Jin Pinger would never forget.
Because she had personally seen it once a very long time ago, in that demon beast catastrophe which swept the world,.
And right now, the eyes of the disciples standing beside her had faint red light, almost similar to the crazed demon beasts at the time. Although not knowing the reason for it and these disciples were not mad like the demon beasts, but Jin Pinger’s heart had decided she would never walk into the red light.
Inside there something terrible existed.
This was her intuition.
As her breathing became louder, the disciples beside her were nonchalant, as if numb to the things happening outside them. But after a moment, suddenly behind them a strange sound was heard, like a stone smashing to the ground. Jin Pinger was facing the direction of the sound and her expression changed. She stood up and exclaimed, “What? Why are you here too?”
The two disciples were surprised, saw Jin Pinger in such a shock, and couldn’t help but turn around to look. Who knew that after both of them turned around, there was nothing behind them? Not to say someone, not even the sight of a stone was seen. It was really like seeing a ghost, and they couldn’t make a head or tail of it. They turned back to ask Jin Pinger but unexpectedly, Jin Pinger was gone, as if she had never appeared before, leaving only an empty ground. The two disciples were shocked. They looked at each other and then shouted, but their shouts were not like humans at all, more like the roars of wild beasts. They turned around twice where they were and then dashed into the red light.
In the distance Jin Pinger slowly emerged out from a huge rock. The distraction earlier looked simple, but in fact it used all of her wits and skills. Only now she was able to let out a breath of relief and then discovered her forehead was covered in cold sweat.
But before she could relax, suddenly, deep within the red light, a loud cry of extreme pain was heard. It was the voice was Taoist Cang Song. Jin Pinger’s body shook, and she immediately hid behind the rock. Although Taoist Cang Song’s shout was shrill but it soon turned weak and disappeared. And arising from that was a rumbling hysterical laughter that sound was maniacal, as if everything in the world would soon be under its feet. The mountains shook, the echoe rumbling.
Jin Pinger turned pale. Her body started to tremble. Although the voice had changed but she could clearly hear it: it was Ghost King’s laughter. Thousands of miles away, at Tong Tian Peak Qing Yun Hill, Founders Ancestral Hall.
Here was still and peaceful. The solemn majestic hall sat within the forest, emanating a digniﬁed bearing. The dense forest was tranquil, with birds singing clear and crisp. In the dim Founders Ancestral Hall, the spots of candles and incense could still be seen among the shadows.
Lin Jingyu looked up at the sky. A stretch of blue was above, cloudless for a thousand miles. The warm sunlight shone on his body, reﬂecting beautiful illusory rays from the jade green Dragon Slayer sword hanging at his waist.
It seemed like today was not a bad day.
He watched for a while, a rare smile slowly showing on his lips, and then taking up the broom in his hands, he started to sweep the empty stairs in front of the Founders Ancestral Hall.
Ever since that mysterious elder passed away, Qing Yun Hill again experienced a few events. But even after the severe changes, nobody noticed this secluded corner that had long ago distanced itself from the world. But Lin Jingyu seemed extremely attached to this place. Or maybe he was missing that elder. Anyway, unknowingly, under many tacit consent, Lin Jingyu had became the successor of the Founders Ancestral Hall.
Fallen yellow leaves under the broom rolled around and were swept to the side. Lin Jingyu quietly swept, doing what he had to do everyday. The forest was quiet. A light breeze blew. Who knew such a profession would be more peaceful than the past?
It’s just that one this day seemed destined not to be peaceful.
Quietly, just when Lin Jingyu was concentrating and diligently sweeping the leaves, suddenly a pair of feet appeared before him. Lin Jingyu was shocked. The hall rarely got visitors in several months. If it was not ancestral worship day, today was just a normal day, why would anyone come?
He looked up. Unexpectedly he was even more shocked. His entire body trembled due to the shock and took a step back. His countenance changed, and he exclaimed, “Sect… sect head uncle-teacher!”
Standing before him was Qing Yun sect head Reverend Daoxuan who had gone missing for many days.
Reverend Daoxuan was still wearing those dark green Taoist robes. Although it looked rather tattered in some places, this would never have happened to the legendary Qing Yun sect head reverend in usual times. Right now looking at him, he was expressionless. He looked thinner than what he remembered and also seemed to be more haggard.
Lin Jingyu’s heart was in a panic. Since he was not part of the core of Qing Yun sect, naturally he would also not know the internal information privy to people like Small Bamboo Valley Master Shuiyue. But the day when Reverend Daoxuan and Tian Buyi got into a physical altercation at the Founders Ancestral Hall, he was around. And then both of them disappeared. Now that Tian Buyi had passed away and Reverend Daoxuan had abruptly returned, the twists and turns within it really made one felt bitterly disappointed. However although Lin Jingyu was shocked and panicking, Reverend Daoxuan seemed to ignore him. His gaze paused on Lin Jingyu for a moment and then turned towards that grand Founders Ancestral Hall.
Reverend Daoxuan stared at that hall for a long time and suddenly spoke, “Right now is there only you here?”
Lin Jingyu was stunned. He nodded and said, “Yes.”
Reverend Daoxuan glanced sideways at him and then suddenly paused. His gaze stopped at the sword on Lin Jingyu’s waist. The jade-green sword’s light lightly orbited around the sword. Although its old friend had left, it still had that proud unique bearing, standing above others.
The jade-green light reﬂected in his eyes. Reverend Daoxuan’s countenance also slowly changed and revealed a perplexed and deliberating expression. Lin Jingyu was currently at a loss at to what to do, not knowing if he should immediately go up to the mountain in front and inform the various elders at Tong Tian Peak or continue to stay here and watch? However Reverend Daoxuan did not give him much time to consider. That strange expression of his soon disappeared. Replacing it was indifference as he said to Lin Jingyu, “You stay here. Without my orders, do not allow anyone to come in.” After speaking, and without waiting for Lin Jingyu to respond, he strode straight in to the main dim hall.
Lin Jingyu stood dumbfounded where he was. He did not know what to do and could only watch Reverend Daoxuan disappear into the darkness.
Entering the inner hall, after the initial darkness, appearing before Reverend Daoxuan was the huge altar and the numerous memorial tablets behind it. A solemn digniﬁed atmosphere greeted him. Qing Yun sect’s generations of ancestors were here, coldly and quietly watching Reverend Daoxuan’s ﬁgure.
Reverend Daoxuan’s body slightly trembled, as if something internal was breaking out and causing him pain but he soon suppressed it and slowly walked to the altar. He took the incense sticks on the table, lit them up with the candle at the side, and walked to the center in front of the altar. Facing the ancestral spirit tablets, he slowly knelt down. In the dim lights, his face was also unclear. Only the warmth from those little incense and candles drifted up with faint smoke.
“Qing Yun sect’s generations of ancestors... unﬁlial disciple Daoxuan…” His voice was deep and hoarse. Both hands holding the incense were trembling slightly, as if he was feeling extremely agitated inside. He did not continue his words.
His head buried deep down, prostrating before the memorial tablets, in the spacious and grand hall a breeze suddenly blew. The curtains around started to sway. Even the candles on the altar started to ﬂicker.
Suddenly, Reverend Daoxuan’s body shook. Not knowing how he did it, the three incense sticks in his hands instantly crumbled to powder and a ball of black energy dispersed from his body. Swiftly churning and expanding, it soon completely shrouded Reverend Daoxuan’s body.
Lin Jingyu standing outside the hall seemed to sense something and frowned. He involuntarily took a step towards the great hall. Deep inside the dim shadows, a strange air suddenly rose. The evil energy within it was extremely strong. It was deﬁnitely not something that belonged to this great hall.
In his mind Reverend Daoxuan’s strange countenance ﬂashed. He felt uneasy, but glancing at the great hall, he felt hesitant.
The forest was quiet. Around the Founders Ancestral Hall even the birds were silent, as if they too had sensed the strange atmosphere and were as silent as a cicada in cold weather.
In the great hall Reverend Daoxuan’s body was trembling violently. The dark air around him turned thicker. In the silent hall a vortex suddenly appeared, making deep [wu wu] sounds, swiftly blowing in the vast hall. The wind turned stronger. While trembling in the dark air Reverend Daoxuan slowly stood up. At this moment the expression on his face was as if he had turned into a completely different person, someone ﬁlled with a vicious air.
But looking carefully at him, behind the viciousness, his eyes had another kind of anguish. His face muscles twisted, as if he was struggling to tolerate something, but looking at the situation he was gradually losing.
And at this critical moment the strange wind around him also became stronger, not only pushing the heavy altar table back slightly but even the tablets in the distance behind the table started to shake, some even looking like they were about to fall.
As Qing Yun sect Reverend Daoxuan, such actions were already treasonable, but given his expression, and the vicious currents increasing, why would he bother with that now?
And at this moment, a [pa] sound was heard as a tablet somewhere in a corner ﬁnally could not sustain it and fell onto the stone ﬂoor, making a crisp sound.
This sound seemed to startle Reverend Daoxuan. He subconsciously turned to look. In that instant, for some reason his body shook greatly, like a pail of cold water pouring onto his head. The vicious expression swiftly receded. The strange black air also dispersed. On his face only regret and sadness remained. Under the faint light the fallen tablet lay quietly there, unmoving. On the wooden tablet, it was empty.
This was a nameless tablet.
That emptiness seemed to be coldly watching him.
Reverend Daoxuan’s lips trembled, staring blankly at that tablet. He slowly walked over, picked it up and carefully touched it…
After an unknown period of time, in the darkness, a hoarse and choked voice was heard, “Junior brother…”
Outside the hall, Lin Jingyu was so anxious that his forehead sweated. He struggled with himself numerous times and ﬁnally hardened his heart and was about to dash in without regardless, but suddenly when he was about to leapt up the strange energy in the hall disappeared. Lin Jingyu was taken aback. The determination was made but his feet would not strike out. After all, no matter what, the person inside the hall was still Qing Yun sect’s sect head. In the past he had saved the world countless times. Not to mention the commoners, even the ordinary disciples including Lin Jingyu, looked up at him as if he were a deity.
This hesitation again lasted a long period of time. Lin Jingyu never felt time pass so slowly before. Even when he was keeping vigil at the empty Founders Ancestral Hall, he also did not have the feelings he had now. Until he started to doubt if his cultivation was inadequate, Reverend Daoxuan once again appeared at the entrance.
His expression was still indifferent, slowly walked down. He did not glance at Lin Jingyu. Lin Jingyu for some reason, maybe in awe of Reverend Daoxuan’s bearing, did not dare to ask much, and quietly made way. Reverend Daoxuan was passing by him when he suddenly stopped and was heard saying, “Take good care of him… them!”
Lin Jingyu was stunned. not knowing who the “them” was. But since he just came out from the hall, he assumed he was referring to the tablets. He nodded respectfully and said, “Disciple understands.”
Reverend Daoxuan looked deeply at him, his eyes assessing him. He saw the white robes on his body, the sword on his waist, and suddenly with a bitter laugh said, “Really resembles…”
Lin Jingyu did not understand. He was about to look up and ask but saw that Reverend Daoxuan had walked on. Looking at his direction, he was walking towards the sacred ground, the Illusory Moon Cave. He hesitated and ﬁnally decided to check the hall ﬁrst. He turned, took up the broom he had left on the ground and walked in.
He looked around and saw nothing had changed. Frowning, he walked to the altar table. The small bronze incense burner on the table had three fresh incense sticks, quietly burning, emitting incense fragrance.
Suddenly his gaze paused, and saw that on the long altar where the tablets were placed, one tablet was placed too close to the edge. He frowned. These few days he had been maintaining the place and so was very familiar with the placement of the tablets. Therefore he noticed very quickly that the tablet’s position had changed. If Qing Yun disciples recklessly touched the ancestral tablets, it would be a serious offence.
He shook his head slightly, walked over, took the tablet and was about to place it inside when his body shook, his eyes unable to look away from the tablet.
That tablet was unlike the rest which had a name and title written in gold ink, because this was originally an empty tablet but right now the tablet had a new line of words:
Qing Yun sect Wan Jianyi memorial tablet!
This column of words, bright red and glaring, were written using blood!
Chapter 257 - Summon
At the foot of Qing Yun Hill, Grassvillage Temple ruins.
The sun rose and set; day turned into night. Lu Xueqi had already lost count of the number of days she had been here. The longing and love that yearned for more than a decade suddenly made her lose control and she could no longer to restrain herself, nor did she wish to. Every day and every night, she wanted to be beside that man, accompanying him. If there is a future, then let that be it forever!
Ghost Li, no, it should be Zhang Xiaofan, at least in Lu Xueqi’s eyes, had never changed. That wan and sallow heartbroken man being hugged by her like that was still unmoving, looking lost.
In these few days Lu Xueqi had tried all kinds of ways to bring Xiaofan back from his nightmare but nothing worked. In the end she too temporarily gave up. Or maybe, only she could truly understand the anguish Xiaofan was feeling now. And so she no longer tried to wake him, only quietly accompanying him, holding him. The two of them stayed like that among the ruins, quietly sitting, watching the sun rise and the sun set, watching the moon rise and the innumerable stars. The wind from the wilds blew, bringing with it the fragrance of grass, lightly blowing onto their faces.
For some reason, even if her heart felt some guilt, Lu Xueqi truly felt, deep inside, a kind of happiness. Being together with her loved one was such a simple matter and yet she had suppressed it for ten years. She took on a responsibility as heavy as a mountain and at this moment she ﬁnally broke free from the shackles and threw away all restraints, only for him.
The slight breeze blew, bringing with it some coolness.
Another night descended again.
The two of them leaned against the walls, quietly sitting. The wild grass beside them moved, as if there was something but Lu Xueqi did not glance at it, and as expected, in the next moment Xiao Hui scurried out. It made a few jumps and jumped up on the wall where they were leaning and sat down. The bandages that Xiao Bai had made were gone. Most of the wounds had healed. It seemed like they were removed by Xiao Hui. Right now the monkey sat on the wall, pushed out its hands. Again another bunch of wild fruits, and then it let go, [pu tong, pu tong] as many dropped down, mostly onto Lu Xueqi and Zhang Xiaofan’s bodies.
Zhang Xiaofan was wooden and had no reaction. Lu Xueqi’s head was also hit by a few. Although it was not painful but it was unsightly, incompatible with her usual cold bearing. Lu Xueqi looked at the wild fruits on the ground, then looked up at the monkey on the broken wall. Xiao Hui immediately jumped and stepped back, its eyes wary but its hands still holding a few fruits, its mouth chewing.
Not knowing whether it was because the monkey and Lu Xueqi couldn’t get along, but it seemed as if Xiao Hui was rather displeased at Zhang Xiaofan being hugged by this white- attired woman. But it had witnessed Lu Xueqi’s skills and so although it challenged her it was still rather afraid.
Just when Xiao Hui’s three eyes were staring at Lu Xueqi, that white-attired lady who looked like a celestial being suddenly smiled at it. The smile was like spring ﬂowers blossoming, like the warm spring breeze. Nowhere was the usual cold demeanor shown towards others.
Lu Xueqi did not ﬂare up and also did not look to be in a bad mood. Looking at Xiao Hui smiling, she picked up a wild fruit from the ground and gently spoke, “Did you pluck it? Thank you.”
Xiao Hui was clearly stunned by Lu Xueqi’s strange reaction. After a long time its three eyes turned, it grinned and, with a dry laugh, awkwardly sat back on the wall and enjoyed its fruit.
Lu Xueqi smiled at the monkey and turned around. To her, how could that cold demeanour be her innate nature?
Her eyes back on Zhang Xiaofan’s face, she gently said, “Xiaofan, try to eat something.”
Zhang Xiaofan was looking somewhere, his face blank. He did not speak and did not nod or shake his head. Lu Xueqi seemed to expect his lack of reaction and was not frustrated. She only smiled to herself, her slender ﬁngers stretched out and carefully peeling the skin of the fruit. These few days, Zhang Xiaofan was like that. Xiao Hui frequently went out and brought back fruits. Lu Xueqi would peel the skin off and put it in his mouth. And then Zhang Xiaofan, as if on auto-reaction, would occasionally eat one or two pieces.
But, what does it matter? Lu Xueqi contemplated; she had already waited for ten years. As long as she was with him, no matter how long it would take, she would also not be bothered.
She lowered her head and peeled. Suddenly from the corner of her eyes she saw something and was surprised, slowly putting down the fruit. Zhang Xiaofan was still sitting woodenly but these few days his hands were tightly wrapped in ﬁsts. Although Lu Xueqi also noticed this but she did not mind. But looking at it right now she saw that there seemed to be something in his hands, revealing a corner.
She frowned, put down the fruit and pulled Zhang Xiaofan’s arm, trying to open his ﬁngers. But although Zhang Xiaofan was staring with a blank expression on his face, his hands were still clenched tight. Lu Xueqi was unable to pry them open, and could only raise his ﬁngers slightly higher to force a look; it was a piece of torn green cloth. Lu Xueqi looked at that cloth and quietly, slowly placed his hand down. Her face looked dejected but soon after she took in a deep breath. When she looked at Zhang Xiaofan again, her eyes were already ﬁlled with tenderness.
Gently, she stretched out her hand. Lu Xueqi hugged Zhang Xiaofan. The wind blew gently over. Her hair at her fringe gently rufﬂed, a few strands blew onto Zhang Xiaofan’s face.
“Xiaofan, it will be alright, everything will be alright…” she smiled and said. Her eyes had tears though, but her voice was still gentle and deep.
“Long long ago, when I was still a child, I still remember my mother holding me. It was also on a night like this watching the stars.” Lu Xueqi slowly looked up at the night sky. The ﬁrmament was like black ink, the innumerable stars twinkled, twinkling brightly in the night sky, “She told me, although everyone has to die but if they are good people, they would become stars after they are dead and live well in the sky, and every night, they would look at us from the sky.” “She is a good person, isn’t she? Then maybe she is watching you from the sky. Xiaofan… no matter what... she will not want you to become like this. What do you think?”
Zhang Xiaofan’s stiff body, in Lu Xueqi’s embrace, seemed to tremble once.
Lu Xueqi smiled. Tears quietly rolled down. Under the starlight her beautiful tear-covered face seemed to have a different kind of poignant beauty. Just that her hands were still holding that man tightly.
Tightly embracing him.
Just to be like this would be good!
Suddenly a loud shout was heard from the side. The voice was extremely impatient and seething with rage. Lu Xueqi was shocked. She looked to the side and saw a curvaceous lady, her eyes mesmerizing. It was Xiao Bai. Xiao Hui let out a shriek, extremely delighted, and jumped down from the wall. With a few jumps it climbed up onto Xiao Bai and sat on her shoulder, grinning happily. Clearly it favoured Xiao Bai, Lu Xueqi could not even compare.
However right now, Lu Xueqi did not care about the monkey. She frowned. Looking bewildered, she asked in surprise, “What?”
Xiao Bai face was pale and clearly enraged but her expression also looked complicated. In her anger was an indistinct anguish. She coldly spoke, “People that are dead are dead, at most turning into spirits or ghosts, entering hell and reincarnating. How could they be turning into stars and living in that kind of afterworld?”
The words were direct and really hard to hear. Even though Lu Xueqi felt grateful to Xiao Bai for telling her the truth and Zhang Xiaofan’s whereabouts in these ruins, she couldn’t help but show a dark face. But before she could speak Xiao Bai had already walked up and, without glancing at Lu Xueqi, coldly spoke to Zhang Xiaofan, “How long do you want to continue being like this? Do you wish to live like the living dead for the rest of your life?”
Xiao Bai was harsh. Lu Xueqi’s countenance changed, revealing her reluctance and she was about to speak but forced herself to stop. Her hands, as if feeling the pain in her heart, tightened around Zhang Xiaofan.
After being sternly questioned by Xiao Bai, Zhang Xiaofan’s facial muscles twitched, but then he closed his eyes instead and again resumed that secluded look. Xiao Bai looked at him and seemed to be even more infuriated. She went up, caught hold of the collar of his clothes and pulled him up. Lu Xueqi cried out, “Don’t... don’t be like this! He... he will not be able to take it…”
Xiao Bai sneered, and said, “I want to sober him up by scolding. No, not only by scolding. I want to sober him up by beating him up!” Speaking this much, without waiting for Lu Xueqi’s reaction, Xiao Bai abruptly raised her palm and, before Lu Xueqi, slapped Zhang Xiaofan hard twice.
[Pa! Pa!] The slap was loud and clear. Zhang Xiaofan’s face immediately turned red and swollen. Blood also ﬂowed out of his mouth and he fell back. Lu Xueqi was shocked. Disregarding everything else she quickly dashed up, pushed Xiao Bai away and hugged Zhang Xiaofan, wiping his blood with her sleeve without any concern about leaving a stain. Caressing the palm print on his face, Lu Xueqi was extremely heartpained. She glared at Xiao Bai and angrily said, “Are you mad?”
But Xiao Bai seemed to ignore Lu Xueqi. Staring at the trembling Zhang Xiaofan, she coldly said, “What do you mean by doing this? Pretending to be half dead for the whole day, or without any reason deciding to use this method to mourn for Biyao? I tell you, don’t be an idiot. Being like this is useless. Biyao is dead. She is dead!”
Suddenly, a cry of despair erupted from within Lu Xueqi’s embrace. Zhang Xiaofan pushed her away, and like a hurt angry wild beast charged towards Xiao Bai. But Xiao Bai did not avoid him at all. When Zhang Xiaofan came near, she instead stepped forward and gave him another slap. [Pa!]
The slap was even louder, reverberating in the ruins. Zhang Xiaofan was hit backwards, his mouth spraying blood, dying his clothes red. A trace of anguish brushed over Xiao Bai’s face, but she clenched her teeth. Her expression became even more stern. She swiftly walked to where Zhang Xiaofan was breathlessly panting on the ground, caught hold of his robes and angrily said, “Wake up! Even if you remained like this until you die, Biyao would not come back. Do you think that by being like this you can show your bitter remorse? Do you want to use this kind of method to torture yourself so that you will feel better? I tell you, it is useless!”
Zhang Xiaofan shut his eyes tightly. His body was trembling violently, gulping in deep breaths. Even his lips seemed to be colourless.
Crystal clear tears quietly fell, this time it was from Xiao Bai’s eyes. She bit her lips tightly, two rows of tears rolling down her face, dripping continuously. Her voice was already choked, “What do you think was the reason Biyao disregarded everything to save you? Was it to see you living your life like this? Then Biyao’s death has nothing to do with you and if you continue like this Biyao’s spirit will not be at rest either. Do you understand it clearly?”
Xiao Bai caught hold of him, slowly kneeling beside him. As if using all of her last strength, her voice hoarse, she emphasizing every word, “Live on, live well. This is what Biyao wants to see!”
After speaking she looked like she couldn’t hold it in anymore. She stood up suddenly, turned and strode out. Lu Xueqi had been standing quietly to the side. When Xiao Bai strode past her, Lu Xueqi suddenly softly said, “Thank you!”
Xiao Bai’s face still had tears. Her body paused and looked over at Lu Xueqi. The two beautiful ladies stood under the moonlight, their ﬁgures reﬂecting each other. The next moment they stretched out their hands and held each other.
On Xiao Bai’s face, behind the tears, a faint smile was revealed. She nodded towards Lu Xueqi and did not speak anymore, striding out. After her ﬁgure disappeared into the darkness Lu Xueqi walked back to Zhang Xiaofan, knelt down and slowly embracing him. Zhang Xiaofan’s body trembled. Slowly he looked up, looking at Lu Xueqi.
In that instant His eyes seemed to have returned back to that time. That deep anguish and the innumerable scars could not be dispersed. He was like a child, his lips trembling, hot tears in his eyes.
He trembled while facing Lu Xueqi and his tears ﬁnally spilt out. Like a wounded child he ﬁnally cried. He was ﬁnally unable to hold in ten years of sorrow anymore. Clutching Lu Xueqi’s shoulders, he hugged her and cried loudly. His voice was choked and he repeated incessantly, “Biyao left… Biyao left… Biyao… left…”
Lu Xueqi never thought that this steadfast man would be this fragile in front of her. But right now she had only tenderness in her heart. She held him tightly, struggling to use every ounce of her warmth to console that crying heart. Behind the hot tears she kept saying gently to that man, and to herself, “It will be alright. Everything will be alright…”
This night seemed especially long and sad.
After that night, Zhang Xiaofan seemed to wake up from his internal nightmare, but not long after he came down with a fever. With his current skills he would never have any illness in usual times but right now this fever seemed to make his entire body hot and he fell unconscious. Lu Xueqi knew that this illness was most likely the result of the deep pain in his heart. Biyao’s death was the lead but the mental shield that Zhang Xiaofan struggled to hold on to for these ten years, instead became the root source of the serious illness. It was something nobody could treat.
As expected, no matter what treatment Lu Xueqi tried, giving Zhang Xiaofan all kinds of elixirs or amazing medicines, but it was like a mud buffalo entering the sea; nothing worked and this fever was unimaginable high, not even subsiding after ten days. If it was an ordinary person, they would be long dead by now. And even though it was Zhang Xiaofan, he had already become thin and pallid, almost bags and bones. Lu Xueqi was extremely anxious. For ten days she kept vigil over Zhang Xiaofan day and night, looked obviously thinner. Or maybe it was because of her unrelenting love that the heavens ﬁnally opened its eyes, left mercy, and on the eleventh day when Lu Xueqi was almost in despair, Zhang Xiaofan’s fever ﬁnally subsided.
Though the fever subsided but he was still unconscious. Even though it was so, Lu Xueqi was greatly relieved. She slightly relaxed from the tension, and immediately exhaustion could be felt from every corner of her body. She struggled to hold on and tidied Zhang Xiaofan’s clothes. Then she leaned beside him and fell into a deep sleep.
On her beautiful face was a faint assured smile. Even while sleeping her hand was still holding onto his shoulder. When the breeze blew past the ruins the grass swayed, enveloping them. Under the sky still, only this forgotten corner of the world seemed to possess a different kind of peace and happiness.
Not knowing how long this sleep lasted, the stars changed their positions and fragrance ﬂooded her senses. It must be still in a dream; she saw all that she had once dreamt of: Together with her loved one, forever…
And then she woke up.
Her lips still had a contented smile of happiness. She lightly opened her eyes and that person beside her was still there. He was sleeping peacefully, his breath was just beside her.
Lu Xueqi did not move, as if this was her most favourite look.
She quietly leaned against him, listening to his breathing.
Suddenly, at this moment in the direction of the distant Qing Yun Hill, there was an explosion in the air and then what looked like huge ﬁreworks could be seen. Lu Xueqi’s countenance changed. Frowning she slowly sat up and looked.
The ﬁreworks slowly formed into a long sword and did not disperse for a long time. It was a signal rarely used by Qing Yun sect. Only when something serious happened and it was an emergency, they would release it to summon all of the disciples nearby. Lu Xueqi was silent for a moment. She turned back to glance at Zhang Xiaofan and slowly stood up. She hesitated but ﬁnally stretched her hand out towards Tianya leaning beside her, and ﬂew out.
The wind was still blowing, the grass was still swaying to the wind.
Zhang Xiaofan quietly slept among the grass. From deep within the grass beside him a head suddenly stuck out. It was Xiao Hui. It peered around and called out [zhi zhi]. It seemed like it was rather surprised that Lu Xueqi was not around and then jumped up onto Zhang Xiaofan’s chest, touched its head and sat down.
Zhang Xiaofan lay quietly like that, only his right hand slightly moved.
After the time it takes to make tea, a light sound was heard from the entrance of the ruins and then Lu Xueqi’s ﬁgure once again appeared. She walked towards where Zhang Xiaofan was sleeping. Xiao Hui made a funny face at her, jumped off and crouched on the side. Lu Xueqi slowly walked to Zhang Xiaofan and knelt beside him, but her face no longer had that assured and happy expression. Instead it was solemn with a trace of anguish.
“Xiaofan… there is trouble.” Her voice sounded vague, as if there was no energy. She, faintly said, “Just now I saw our sect’s urgent summons and went over to check. Something big has happened during the time we were here. The sect head of your former Ghost King sect has obtained some evil weapon that can actually take over someone’s will and manipulate it. What’s even more terrible is that he is concealed within a large red blood light. Wherever the red light reaches, no matter if its commoners or cultivated martial artists, all will be turned into living dead and manipulate by him.”
Lu Xueqi’s face was pale. Her hand gently tightened around Tianya but the gaze at Zhang Xiaofan was still warm and reluctant, “The various sects of the Good Faction have made several attacks on him but all failed completely. Every sect has been seriously hurt and the most terrible thing is, most of the people… are all taken over by his red light, becoming Ghost King’s lackeys and turning around to massacre the Good Faction. Now that the world’s Good Faction is utterly routed Ghost King has recently already arrived near Qing Yun Hill, greatly displaying his evil powers and causing all within a hundred miles of Qing Yun foot, including HeYang City’s big and small towns and common villagers to all be taken over by him. Including the current group of people, it will most likely not be less than ten thousands, and he looks like he will soon come up Qing Yun Hill to attack.”
She stared blankly at Zhang Xiaofan’s face and suddenly tears rolled down from her eyes, dripping down onto Zhang Xiaofan’s hand.
“Initially I wanted to not care about anything and just be with you, accompanying each other forever. Even if the world or our sect’s discipline reject us I also would not care. But now that... now that…” her lips trembled, slowly looking down, “But now Qing Yun is in peril! Ever since I was young it was Qing Yun sect which raised me up. It was teacher who loved and taught me. My debts are as heavy as mountain. If it was for our sake, even if they rebuke and reject us, I am most willing, but now that they are in peril, I… I can only go back and be with them.”
Lu Xueqi looked deeply at Zhang Xiaofan, never looking away for even a moment, as if unwilling to give up even a glance. The breeze blew over, her clothes rufﬂing. “Maybe you still don’t know. There is internal chaos at Qing Yun sect. The once invincible ‘Zhu Xian Sword Formation’ can no longer be activated. This battle I’m afraid… I’m afraid will bode ill rather than well. I don’t know if I can come back again to see you.”
Lu Xueqi breathed deeply, wiped her tears and then revealing a bitter smile. Looked at Zhang Xiaofan she said, “Xiaofan, I don’t know if its Heaven’s will, but we seem not to have the fate to be with each other. But, “ she paused and then with a deep and determined voice quietly said, “But, I have never regretted!”
After speaking, she leaned down and gently kissed Zhang Xiaofan on his lips. That warm feeling from the lips seemed to spread through the whole body.
A faint feeling of happiness…
She smiled, bit her lip and stood up. She took a last look at the sleeping man, then turned around and walked, but so slow, her body looking as if she wanted to turn around and take another glance. But eventually she did not. Or maybe, even she herself also knew, if she turned around, she might never have the courage to leave again.
White clothes ﬂuttered as she ﬁnally left.
The wind rufﬂed the grass, carrying a green unripe fragrance. Xiao Hui quietly walked over, climbed onto Zhang Xiaofan’s chest and sat, quietly watching that white ﬁgure in the distance. Under it, Zhang Xiaofan’s ﬁngers again moved.
The breeze kept blowing. Time quietly passed. The grasstemple village again descended into a long silence. The day passed and night arrived. The stars arrived, and saw through the world with its vicissitudes.
Xiao Hui sat on Zhang Xiaofan’s chest, looked rather sleepy. It yawned a few times, and called out a few times and then as if suddenly sensing something, its eyes turned and looked at Zhang Xiaofan.
A low breathing sound was heard, and then Zhang Xiaofan slowly opened his eyes. The ﬁrst thing he saw was the endless ﬁrmament: deep darkness with innumerable stars twinkling. He did not move, quietly lying down and watching the sky.
Xiao Hui seemed uncertain. It scratched its head and peered but then it soon shrank back. The night breeze blew gently, the grass swayed. That deep darkness, had been like that for ten thousands of years, and humans’ lifetimes compared to it were like ﬁreﬂies against the sun and the moon. It was only an instant, like a snap of the ﬁngers.
Or maybe, this was indeed what the ancient people comprehended, and so assiduously sought immortality!
Just that, if it was only an empty shell, even if it was immortality, so what?
His expression was serene, a never before seen peace. There was no longer any sorrow nor any agitation. He only quietly looked at the sky. The ﬁrmament was limitless. The stars changed positions.
The sky was silent. Only the night breeze quietly blew.
Unknowingly the sky turned light.
But as the morning arrived and the last darkness disappeared Zhang Xiaofan closed his eyes. He lay like that quietly for a very long time until the sun rose and shone warmly on him. Then he once again opened his eyes, and this time he stood up.
Standing where he was, he looked around. The ruins among the wild grass looked desolate but familiar. There were many places that were long etched into his heart and could never be erased. And there were many places where he had once run and played when he was young, leaving behind a simple and pure happiness.
He leisurely walked, his feet stepping onto the grass silently. Xiao Hui scurried over, grabbed his clothes and climbed up to his shoulder and sat down.
[Wu…] The wind blew from behind him. It seemed to be stronger, making light whistlings. The grass beside him swayed, like waves. The ruins seemed like silent and warm people, watching him. He came to the north of the village where there was another area of ruins, even more broken. Looking from afar the outline appeared to be that dilapidated small temple.
This time Ghost Li stood for a very long time. He looked deeply at that small temple ruins. After a long time, on his lips, a faint warm smile was revealed.
That smile was warm, it did not have any trace of grievances or regret anymore.
And then he turned and, walking away like that, never turned back to take another look.
“Let’s go Xiao Hui.”
[Zhi zhi, zhi zhi?] Xiao Hui softly called out, scratching its head. “Where are we going?” He smiled faintly, facing the incoming wind. He smiled and said, “To where we should go.”
His gaze shifted, looked afar, to that lofty Qing Yun Hill, piercing through the clouds.
On Qing Yun Hill TongTian Peak, everywhere was disorderly. Instead, near the rear of the mountain, it seemed especially deserted. Not a single person was seen. It seemed like due to the formidable enemy approaching and Reverend Daoxuan going missing for no reason, nobody paid attention to it.
And when afternoon arrived, when the sunlight was spilling into the quiet forest at the rear of the mountain, Zhang Xiaofan was already in the forest. This was not his ﬁrst time he had been here. He had been here several times and was already familiar with the topology. Its just that his expression did not have the slightest anxiety. His face still had that serene smile when he woke up, and he slowly walked on.
On the rugged mountain path, lined with ancient trees, birds cries were heard frequently from the forest. Zhang Xiaofan’s gaze looked from the forest to the ground and again ahead. The meandering ancient path stretched, not knowing how many past events had happened here.
The forest was tranquil, the wind blew gently. It seemed not to be tainted with any mortal air.
In his memory that familiar trifurcated path slowly appeared before him. Zhang Xiaofan stopped. His eyes swept to the right. Behind those layers of forests, between the lush leaves, the majestic Founders Ancestral Hall’s eaves were indistinctly revealed. He smiled, turned and stepped onto that small path.
The path was not far from the hall. Soon that grand building appeared. But Zhang Xiaofan did not walk till the empty ground, he only quietly stood behind a huge tree beside the path, gazing in that direction.
The temple was still dim. The stairs and the empty ground before it was still the same, full of fallen leaves. After a while, a white ﬁgure came out of the hall, his face dashing and carrying a peaceful smile. His hands did not have any sharp weapon; instead he held a broom made of bamboo. He looked at the ground full of leaves, gave a faint smile and stretched his waist. He inhaled a deep breath of the mountain air, and then started sweeping.
As the broom swept, the leaves were swept aside one by one, some as if like stubborn children blew up by the wind and insistently wanted to return to their original positions, but they were also swept up once again by him as he smiled.
The wind moved through the mountain forest, the trees swayed in waves.
Far away, behind the big tree, Zhang Xiaofan quietly looked at that familiar ﬁgure, revealing a knowing and peaceful smile.
On the empty ground, Lin Jingyu seemed to sense something. His hands paused. He turned and looked towards that path heading out, but the path was empty. Other than the ancient trees, What else would there be?
He dazed for a moment and then shook his head smiling. Maybe he heard it wrongly. Thinking like that, he took up the broom and started to sweep again.
Behind the forest, Zhang Xiaofan continued slowly, leaving the building further and further away. Soon he came to that split road again. This time, he chose the direction of the Illusory Moon Cave, and without any hesitation he strode towards that sacred ground.
He could clearly sense that, deep within the cave, there seemed to be a mysterious power summoning him, making him walk towards that place.
This feeling, when he was still at the Grasstemple Village ruins, was already especially strong.
Standing before the cave, Zhang Xiaofan stopped and watched the mysterious place before him.
The cave looked no different from other caves in the world; rough stones and solid ground. The only slight difference was the ground before the cave had been worn smooth by people, revealing something of the days past. And from that tiny stone door, Qing Yun sect’s proud and talented Taoist Qing Ye once walked out. Countless other once all-powerful ﬁgures had also left their marks here. This Illusory Moon Cave was testimony to Qing Yun sect’s two- thousand years of rising and falling.
And now, before Zhang Xiaofan, was only an ordinary cave.
He smiled and walked in, like returning home, without any hesitation.
The sunlight was blocked by the stone walls. The inner cave was extremely cool. The simple scene was still the same as the ﬁrst time he was here. Even that Taiji drawing on the wall was still the same.
Zhang Xiaofan walked over, his hands on the drawing. Faint clear light lit. This was Qing Yun sect’s true skill. In the resplendency, the drawing responded and lit up and, as expected, the wall beside moved, revealing that strange white misty door of water-like ripples. Zhang Xiaofan watched those rotating water ripples. The last time he entered here, he was bewitched by the mysterious power, and was almost lost forever. This time facing it, deep within the water ripples, there seemed to be a sucking power, giving a false impression to one who falls within it.
He breathed deeply, and without hesitation strode in.
A clear refreshing feeling rushed over him, as if he had stepped into a world of water. But after a moment, Zhang Xiaofan discovered once again the surroundings were an empty world.
Darkness, boundless, without any light, without any end.
Xiao Hui seemed uneasy. It moved and called out quietly. Zhang Xiaofan patted it gently, assuring it and Xiao Hui settled down again.
Following which, Zhang Xiaofan stared ahead, but there was nothing there. He looked for a long time, and did not move until, in the end, a smile revealed itself on his lips suddenly and he closed his eyes and walked.
After walking a few steps the deadly silence was broken. A rumbling, blazing hot air assaulted him. Zhang Xiaofan could even clearly feel himself walking in a sea of ﬁre. His skin felt like it was burning from the sudden ﬂames. Pain seared every part of his body, as if he would soon perish in this sea of ﬁre.
But he still closed his eyes tightly. Even when his facial muscles twisted from the intense pain, his lips still had that smile, and step by step he walked on.
On his shoulder, Xiao Hui made startled cries, sounded in panic, but Zhang Xiaofan stretched his hands and hugged it in his embrace, burying its head inside so that it could not see. As if its master’s palm and the beating of his heart calmed it down, it was soon quiet.
The sounds of the ﬁre burning became louder, as if the air around him soon permeated a horrible smell of burning. The pain in his body increased. Every step seemed to bring ten thousands times more pain. However he still continued on, determinedly walked on.
Not knowing since when, that sea of ﬁre slowly died and his surroundings were once again empty and silent. The pain in his body also disappeared.
Suddenly in the stillness a clear sound of falling water droplets could be heard. Ice cold water beads dropped down from the emptiness onto Zhang Xiaofan’s face.
And then without any sign, loud rumbling sounds were heard ahead, covering the sky. Zhang Xiaofan’s mind could clearly see the terrible scene. Huge waves like a dragon, ten of thousands of zhang high, crashing down. Anything before it was as small an ant. Even the lofty Qing Yun Hill was destroyed and swallowed by it. A piercing cold wind instantly tore at his body, pain even more intense than the ﬁre earlier once again started in his body. Zhang Xiaofan never knew one’s body could feel such torture and intense pain. Even his unwavering spirit seemed to almost collapse before such pain. Thousands of hands tore at him. He couldn’t even continue breathing, as if he were immersed in the deep sea. Limitless pressure almost crushed him into powder, evolving into a nirvana of water.
Even if it was death, the eyes would still be opened to take a look at the surroundings before dying.
Like a lamp, this thought suddenly appeared in his heart, and kept ﬂickering, like a seduction.
Zhang Xiaofan breathed deeply, slowly continued, keeping his eyes closed.
The surrounding cold waves seemed to be enraged, immediately exploding in rage. Thundering, deafening, loud sounds, like thousands of knives hacking at him. Zhang Xiaofan’s forehead was already full of cold sweat, his face was extremely pale, but he still maintained that sobriety, still slowly walking on. One step and another, never once stopping, as if life continued slowly ahead, never able to turn back.
The tide slowly receded. The deafening rumblings soon disappeared. The stillness once again returned. In the emptiness, only his footsteps reverberated.
One person solitary walking.
Suddenly, a voice called out softly behind him. In that instant Zhang Xiaofan, like being hit by lightning, his body trembled violently, an incredulous expression on his face. For the ﬁrst time he stopped.
His eyes were still closed but his lips trembled, almost choking. His heart felt as if it were being cut by knives. Almost in despair, he softly said, “Biyao…” That familiar voice seemed to be just behind him, extremely tender, with the warmth he had yearned for so much and engraved in his bones and mind, softly speaking, “Xiaofan, are you not speaking to me anymore? Turn around and look at me.”
Zhang Xiaofan’s body started to shake, his body seemed to descend into an intense ﬁght. A few times he almost wanted to turn but bitterly bore it. Even though there was no pain, but right now his clothes were soaked in sweat. His face was twisted, it was even more painful that that terrible blazing ﬁre and deep sea cold.
Calls low yet clearly, drifted behind him, as if never ending. In this lifetime of obstacles wasn’t it for that voice? Why are you still not turning back?
He suddenly cried out, his body trembling, his teeth clenching tight, all the bones in his entire body gritting. It was as if he was ﬁnally at his breaking point. Then, other than Biyao’s voice, all of these seemingly never- ending voices, slowly he could hear others; not one was not engraved deep inside his heart.
Tian Buyi, Suru!
Endlessly those voices came in waves after waves, calling behind him, shouting. The past memories were like a mist as scene after scene ﬂashed past.
The trials of a long and arduous journey, one person trudging; snow covering the undulating thousands of mountains, only a shadow walking alone. He did not want loneliness, did not want immortality. What he wanted was only to be with his loved ones…
He hugged his head and cried, like a little child with nowhere to hide.
Tears dripped onto his palms. There was a faint warmth. The surrounding endless calls were still at his ears, lingering and seducing him to open his eyes, to turn back and go.
Just that that faint warmth made his trembling body calm down. Not long ago he had once felt this familiar yet warm feeling. There was once somebody, when he was on the brink of collapse, who stayed by him, and on numerous nights, hugging him tightly, using their body warmth to warm him.
Also once, in that empty dimness, in his delirious state, warm tears landed on his face. In that terrible cold world, they were telling him, he was not alone.
In this lifetime, on that long and arduous journey, over thousands of undulating snow-covering mountains, he was not alone!
The voices started to become urgent, as if receiving some stimulation. They harshly called to him but Zhang Xiaofan slowly stood up. The painful twists on his face started to be replaced by calmness.
And then he smiled. With a heavy heart and with heart- etched yearnings, he faintly smiled.
And then he turned and walked, casting all of the voices behind, no matter how desolate the voices sounded. And ﬁnally the voices disappeared.
Silence again returned.
A light coughing was heard before him. It was a haggard voice, sounding frail and surprised, “So it is actually you…” Zhang Xiaofan stood where he was, breathing deeply and slowly exhaling. Slowly he opened his eyes.
Chapter 258 - Heaven Dao/Way
Zhang Xiaofan had never thought the world would be like this when he opened his eyes.
Everything before him was totally from what he had imagined a cave concealed deep within the mountain to be. Before him was another wild and ancient landscape, a strange place.
The vast, desolate Gobi Desert stretching for miles and miles spread before him. Without any trees or grasses, there were only dark grey rocks and sand. A gust of wind blew over, making shrill [wu wu] sounds. Above was a strange ﬁrmament, with heavy dark purple clouds looming, almost suffocating this world. Among the layer of clouds, large white lightning frequently ﬂashed toward the horizon.
At the furthest part of the horizon was a dark green halo. It was especially bright over there, like a dazzling radiance at the end of the darkness. Numerous meteors ﬂashed across the horizon, emitting brilliant hot bright rays, transforming into a glorious and spectacular meteor rain. After a long time Zhang Xiaofan slowly looked away. His pounding heart gradually slowed and he looked ahead. Above the desolate desert, not far ahead, was an altar. It had a huge dark-grey rock as the base, and was surrounded completely by stairs, up and down for seven storeys. Above the altar there were seven huge columns, each one a different colour. Every column was several zhang high, their width would need at least three people to surround it. An ordinary person on this altar would look just like an ant. In the center there was a ancient primitive cauldron, and right now someone was leaning against it, looking extremely exhausted and haggard, looking over at Zhang Xiaofan.
Zhang Xiaofan’s body suddenly shook. This person who looked extremely haggard was the current Qing Yun sect head, Reverend Daoxuan.
Reverend Daoxuan was right now not obscured in cold black air, and also did not have his usual celestial demeanour when he had commanded the world. He seemed to be constantly panting, watching as Ghost Li walked over. He suddenly laughed and said, “I didn’t expect that you can actually walk past the ‘Illusory Moon Path’ using just your own skills. It really is extraordinary.” Zhang Xiaofan was silent. He turned and looked in the direction he had came from, and saw a towering stone door, looking strikingly different from the environment here. Inside this one zhang high and six chi wide door was darkness. Looking at it from afar, an indistinct ﬂuid water-mist was moving restlessly, and it seemed like that path was not that long.
Zhang Xiaofan looked at that darkness, recalling the scenarios. He still felt a lingering fear but in the next moment, a smile appeared on his lips. He again turned around and looked at Reverend Daoxuan.
It could be said that this person before him had killed the most important and revered person in his life, his mentor Tian Buyi, and had also indirectly killed his teacher’s wife Suru. Just that right now he looked frail and without any evil aura. Facing such a Reverend Daoxuan, Zhang Xiaofan instead did not have any thoughts of revenge.
“Are you alright?”
He walked slowly to Reverend Daoxuan and quietly asked. Reverend Daoxuan looked at him. His tired face suddenly revealed a strange smile but he did not ask him about the past grievances or debts. Instead he asked, “Why did you come here?”
Zhang Xiaofan paused, then indifferently said, “I felt that I should come, and so I came.”
Reverend Daoxuan looked at him, and slowly laughed. His laughter became louder and louder. He shook his head and said, “What a good answer, ha ha…” His laughter was wild and savage, his emotions appeared to be becoming more agitated. Zhang Xiaofan did not ask more. He also did not interrupt, and only quietly watched.
After a long time Reverend Daoxuan’s laughter gradually ceased. His face still looked extremely exhausted but in his eyes strange glints started to turn sharp and bright.
“Don’t you wish to seek revenge for your teacher?” Reverend Daoxuan suddenly asked. Zhang Xiaofan did not answer, only quietly watched him. His eyes were calm. He seemed to also have an indistinct benevolence. The monkey Xiao Hui in his embrace seemed restless instead. It moved and again climbed up onto his shoulder.
Reverend Daoxuan’s body seemed to tremble. His countenance started to change. The tired expression gradually disappeared. The ﬁerce gaze in his eyes started to turn brighter. The demeanour of disdaining the world which he once had, swiftly returned like a tide, ﬂowing into his body.
Even Zhang Xiaofan standing to the side could clearly feel that terrible and invisible power.
He slowly stood up. Threads and trails of the black air emanated from his body, surrounding him and swiftly spinning. The violent evil aura appeared again. He stared at Zhang Xiaofan, and again laughed. This time it seemed hideous.
“Or is it better to say, are you afraid?” [Rumble!]
Suddenly a loud sound was heard behind Reverend Daoxuan. The ancient cauldron exploded, the pieces scattering everywhere. In the mist Zhang Xiaofan’s pupils shrank slightly.
A broken sword, at the original position of the cauldron, was pierced into the sturdy rock base. It looked like stone but also not stone, like a jade but also not jade. It’s appearance was primitive yet had an aura of might. It was the Zhu Xian Ancient Sword.
“Ha ha…” by now, the thick black air had once again enveloped Reverend Daoxuan. In the wild laughter he stretched out his hand. The Zhu Xian sword acted as if it had spiritual intelligence, slowly withdrawing and ﬂying into Reverend Daoxuan’s hand.
“Since you are this useless, let me send you to your teacher, ha ha…” In the middle of his piercing laughter he grabbed tightly onto the sword hilt and instantly the entire huge altar shuddered as a bursting power exploded out. On the altar, the seven huge columns seemed to have received some summons. They all lit up, the light increasing in intensity and ﬁnally forming into the seven colours of the rainbow, bursting resplendently up towards the sky.
The brilliant rainbow charged up into the dark purple cloud layer. Immediately the clouds started to stir. Countless of them started to spin. Lightning ﬂashed in the clouds, slowly striking to form a huge gap, revealing the real countenance of the ﬁrmament.
Zhang Xiaofan looked up and his breath stopped. It was only now he ﬁnally understood why this place was named ‘Illusory Moon Cave’.
High up in the ﬁrmament, in the gap opened by the rainbow stimulated from Zhu Xian’s power, a moon was revealed. Red, orange, yellow, green, greenish black, blue, and purple - all sorts of colours ﬂashed on this illusory moon, radiating beautiful yet mysterious light.
And when the rainbow shot up into the sky, it passed through the cloud layer and into the moon. Immediately the moon glowed brightly. The colours ﬂickered through non- stopped. In the next moment, a seven coloured sword of energy was conjured. Wherever it passed all of the dark clouds retreated, an unparalleled might.
Zhang Xiaofan’s countenance changed. This formation was something he could not be more familiar with. It was the invincible Zhu Xian Sword Formation. Only, right now there wasn’t the small energy swords ﬁlling up the sky but under the illumination of the moon, this main sword seemed even more powerful than that time at the summit of the seven mountains.
Reverend Daoxuan’s eyes were completely obscured behind the black air. Cold laughter could be heard, giving off a feeling that penetrating the bones, “In this Illusory Moon Cave, Zhu Xian Sword’s power is increased by ten times. Even if you are were a Da Luo Golden Fairy, you would still die without a grave. Receive death!”
After speaking these words the Zhu Xian Sword in his hand moved. Instantly the sky changed countenance. Rumbling thunders exploded in the sky. That terribly huge sword slowly turned in the air and faced Zhang Xiaofan. Before the sword descended, the violent winds had already arrived. Zhang Xiaofan knew the destructive power was not something a human could take, and he was about to avoid but unexpectedly, the moon in the sky ﬂashed, and his ﬁgure had just moved when the rainbow light shone down. Immediately, like a mountain suppressing him down, it forced him back and due to the huge power he was unable to stand, and slowly knelt down. Where he was standing, the ground emitted [ka ka]
sounds, and the ground cracked over a radius of several zhang.
The sword had not even arrived and it was already like this. After Zhu Xian Sword was broken, under the Illusory Moon it seemed even more powerful. With such great might, it was really as if even the Da Luo Golden Fairy would really be torn apart by it. But it made one wonder, how could such great powers exist in the world?
Although Zhang Xiaofan had high cultivation now and had attained enlightenment after experiencing life-and-death, his resolution went through a change cycle and his cultivation again advanced, however with Zhu Xian’s power, it was deﬁnitely not from this world and not something a human could defend against. He felt helpless and could only sigh and wait for death. At this life-and-death moment, he was instead feeling calm. There was no fear. It was like he was about to go home, with a smile on his lips.
But it was as if the heavens did not want him to die like that. Just when Zhang Xiaofan had given up, a voice was heard from afar.
“Senior brother, please stop…”
The voice sounded youthful and peaceful but it gave an impression of being impassioned and triumphant, as if any words casually spoken by this person could easily moved the crowd and rouse them up.
The destroyer of heaven and earth, Zhu Xian Sword which neither deities nor demons could stop, suddenly paused. Right now the black air around Reverend Daoxuan’s face, this person who looked like he held the life of the world in his hand, looking scornfully at everything, had suddenly scattered, revealing an incredulous look. He stared in a daze behind Ghost Li. Even his voice turned hoarse: “You… junior brother Wan…”
Zhang Xiaofan felt the pressure on him lift and then the cracks around him silently heal. It was as if the cracks had never appeared before. He did not have time to register all of these, but quickly turned and looked.
A white ﬁgure stood at the stone door he had previously entered in from.
It was a young and dashing man, valiant and righteous looking. A faint warm smile was on his face but in his eyes there was an impassioned gaze. A huge gust of wind blew above the desert. His white clothes ﬂapped, carrying himself with ease and conﬁdence. Just standing like that, Zhang Xiaofan felt an awe deep inside his heart, as if he only had to say a word and even if Zhang Xiaofan had to follow him around the world, and steel himself for the battleﬁeld, he would be absolutely willing.
On the horizon in the ﬁrmament the Illusory Moon was ﬂickering. Once the twin pride of Qing Yun, within this illusory time space, in the confused and lost memories, once again they met.
Reverend Daoxuan’s body slowly to shake. The Zhu Xian Sword which was raised high slowly lowered. Step by step he walked down the stairs, towards that white ﬁgure; not another glance given to Zhang Xiaofan.
The white clothes ﬂuttered. The dashing face was exactly like his memories, that passionate period of time, emanating the glow of youth.
That glow was warm yet red-hot. Not so long ago it was the thing most worth cherishing deep down in his heart.
In his eyes, in his shrivelled eyes, warm tears slowly surged.
“Junior brother… is it really you?” That white young man stood there. He did not leave the stone door area. His face was smiling as he said, “Senior brother, are you well? We have not met for a long time.”
Reverend Daoxuan’s body wavered. Although he was still holding the sword but the dark air around his body had swiftly receded after he saw Wan Jianyi. At the same time, that exhausted countenance once again returned to his face.
It seemed as if he had aged ten years in that short period of time, as if all of the vitality in his body was sucked in by the sword.
However Reverend Daoxuan obviously did not notice the changes to his own body. All of his attention was on that young man who had mysteriously appeared. He slowly stretched out his hand and touched that body from his memory, “Junior brother…”
His voice cut off in the middle - his hand passed through that body, touching nothing except emptiness. Reverend Daoxuan staggered, caught hold of the stone door and managed to stand. His mouth panting heavily and his eyes ﬂashed with despair and anguish.
Like ﬂickering light and passing shadows, that white ﬁgure which had dispersed upon his touch quietly appeared before his eyes again. He still did not leave the door area. That young man was still smiling and said, “Senior brother, why are you still not sober?”
Reverend Daoxuan looked up, his eyes perplexed. He stammered, “Sober? What soberness?”
The youth looked deeply at him and quietly said, “Senior brother, you have been clever all your life. You should have achieved supreme enlightenment long ago and put it down... put down the lingering affection you have for the secular world, put down the pursuit for power which has no use. The time when we cultivated together, was it for all of this?”
Reverend Daoxuan started to tremble. Right now he looked completely like an old and feeble elderly man at the end of his life, in his confused state struggling with all his might to try and look clearly at the road ahead.
“What was the reason for our cultivation?”
The young man again smiled warmly. His face was so gentle, even Zhang Xiaofan standing beside trembled. However, the young man did not speak anymore, only gently ﬂung his sleeve. A gust of light wind was created from his sleeve, blowing away the ﬁne sand underneath his feet, leaving only emptiness.
He calmly and serenely looked at Reverend Daoxuan’s haggard and tired face, and gently said, “Senior brother, put it down.”
The ancient sword, the Zhu Xian sword which contained power supreme enough to destroy heaven and earth, dropped from Reverend Daoxuan’s hand and, like an ordinary long sword, like scrap metal, fell down. Reverend Daoxuan’s face slowly revealed a smile. That smile was peaceful and serene, identical to that smile on the youth.
“I am really… foolish. I actually waited until so long to realize…” He softly said, walked a step, stretched out both hands, as if he wanted to embrace something. But the next moment his body slowly fell down helplessly onto the ground.
All his vitality dispersed from his body but no matter what it could not take away that faint and warm smile on Reverend Daoxuan’s face.
Heaven and earth was still in that instant, only leaving the soughing of the wind in the distance.
The ﬁgure which had once commanded the wind and clouds right now passed away quietly like that. Zhang Xiaofan quietly stood there, watching everything.
The white ﬁgure became blurred but did not disperse. On the contrary, he quietly watched Reverend Daoxuan’s body and, after a while, turned and looked at Zhang Xiaofan. Zhang Xiaofan roughly knew the status of the white-robed ﬁgure. He couldn’t help but feel reverence and quietly said, “Senior.”
That white ﬁgure was still smiling, his eyes carrying admiration while looking at Zhang Xiaofan. He said, “Child, you are good, really very good.”
Zhang Xiaofan for a moment could not understand why he was praising him, and did not know what the ‘good’ was referring to, He felt perplexed but that white ﬁgure did not look like he was intending to explain. He gently waved his hand, and the Zhu Xian Sword on the ground, ﬂew up as if something was supporting it.
The white ﬁgure looked at the sword and then at Zhang Xiaofan, and quietly said, “Child, Zhu Xian’s power was expropriated from the enigmatic supreme power of the creation of heaven and earth. It can exterminate deities and devils, destroy heaven and earth. It by right should not remain in the mortal world, but since it is already here it will eventually need a master.” While speaking this the sword was sent over by the wind to Zhang Xiaofan like duckweed ﬂoating on the water.
Zhang Xiaofan was stunned. He looked at the ﬁgure of the young man in white and for a moment did not know what to say. After a long time he said, “Senior, you…”
The young man smiled and said, “Why do you think you can come in here? It is because the sword has summoned you. Therefore you are the destined one.”
Zhang Xiaofan shook his head hurriedly, “Senior, you and teacher-uncle… Daoxuan... the two of you are both brilliant and outstanding rare talents, with unparalleled intelligence, one in a million, far more than thousand and ten thousand times better than this disciple. The both of you are unable to truly control the power of Zhu Xian, disciple is also slow- witted, how can I take up this great responsibility?”
The young man smiled and said, “Whether or not you are able to take it up, take this Zhu Xian sword and you will know. The sword’s power is not a thing of the secular world, it is naturally not something an ordinary human cultivator can control.”
Zhang Xiaofan was surprised. He looked at the young man and said, “Senior, what do you mean by that?”
The young man smiled and said, ”Ever since ancient times, to be able to have the lucky chance to thoroughly understand four out of the ﬁve volumes of [Tian Shu], there is only you. If it is not so, out of the hundreds of millions of living things in the world, why is it only you who can feel the summoning of Zhu Xian Ancient Sword in your heart?”
Zhang Xianfan became more and more astonished after hearing this and exclaimed, “What? Don’t tell me... senior you mean to say... this Zhu Xian sword is…”
The young man smiled and nodded, interrupting as he said, “It is. Zhu Xian ancient sword is the legendary ﬁfth volume of [Tian Shu]!” after speaking he looked dejected but soon resumed his placid expression and said, “Furthermore, the crux to truly master Zhu Xian’s power is not a person’s level of cultivation. Most important instead is the heart.” Zhang Xiaofan was confounded and said, “Why is this so?”
The young man in white said, “Zhu Xian’s power far surpassed the mortals. The person in control easily can scorn the world and be invincible. With such terrible power at hand, more often than not one will, without knowing it, wallow in it, and in the end be consumed by their inner heart demons, becoming slaves to Zhu Xian’s power.”
He softly sighed and said, “When senior brother Daoxuan and I believed we were the world’s invincible twins and considered everyone and everything beneath us, who could know that in the end we eventually could not ﬁght against the demons in our heart. Only one who has truly experienced thousands and hundreds of calamities, setbacks and failures, having a heart forged through repeated struggles, can be the true master of this Zhu Xian’s power!”
The Zhu Xian Sword slowly ﬂoated before Zhang Xiaofan. In the distance the ﬁgure in white started to waver. Gradually he became blurred but his voice was still clear, “Child, control this power well. When you truly understand those words inside [Tian Shu], you will understand everything…” The next moment the white ﬁgure vanished. Almost at the same time, Zhang Xiaofan solemnly stretched out and caught hold of the sword hilt.
Five ﬁngers closed together.
Like a shock of thunder suddenly exploding beside his ears, tearing apart the entire ﬁrmament, lightning snaked out everywhere madly. The wind and clouds churned. The illusory moon in the sky burst into brilliance. Seven colours constantly switched, forming into a huge beam of light, descended from the sky and enveloping Zhang Xiaofan within.
A long cry entered the clouds. Zhang Xiaofan ﬂew backwards and landed on the altar. The seven coloured beams lit up at the same time. The beams of light were like dragons, rising and churned vigorously in the air, as if cheering madly. Deep inside the illumination, Zhang Xiaofan’s ﬁgure looked indistinct. His movements could still be seen as he slowly raised the sword. As the sword was raised the storm in the sky became even more turbulent. That hilt representing the colourful energy sword of the unparalleled Zhu Xian power again appeared, looking scornfully at the world, considering itself to be unexcelled.
Under the illumination of the moon huge golden words suddenly appeared in the surroundings of the huge sword in the air, the vast empty heaven and earth. Every word was as high as hundreds of zhang, reaching from the horizon to the earth, looking extremely spectacular.
Heaven and Earth is heartless, treats all living things as straw dogs!
The storm intensiﬁed. Heaven and earth whistled. Deep inside the light, a pair of eyes was watching the ﬁrmament intently.
Qing Yun Hill, Tongtian Peak. Gazing out from the peak, the sky in the distance was never again the blue clear sky. Right now a violent red light enveloped the horizon, transforming into layers of dark clouds, heading right towards this place.
Qing Yun sect was internally in chaos. The sudden inﬁltration of the evil sect, combined with a ferociousness and violence that nobody had expected, had in the short several days, already severely taken down the Good Faction. Eighty or ninety percent of the elites were lost. The most horrible thing was that these elites were actually manipulated using some strange evil powers by the Ghost King sect and had instead became their lackeys, massacring their friends on the Good Faction side.
At ﬁrst the Good Faction had the optimal advantage against the Evil sect. All of a sudden the situation had been reversed and, the Ghost King seeming to think that this was not enough, had cast more of his evil spells so that even the commoners living around Qing Yun Hill mountain range and along the road to Qing Yun were all consumed by his power and became his killing machines. The numbers already exceeded several ten thousand. Compared to the demon beasts catastrophe it was even more terrible. Over at Qing Yun sect only the sect disciples and some remaining Good Faction fellow sect disciples were left. Each of the reputable elites were all gone. Even Tianyin Temple only had several monks left. Among them were the abbot Master Puhong, celestial monk Pukong and the ones from the younger generation, such as Faxiang and Fashan. Also within the group of monks was a withered old monk, taciturn, always standing beside Master Puhong.
When Tianyin Temple monks ﬁrst arrived there was a stir among the Qing Yun sect. For many years Tianyin Temple had been on good relations with Qing Yun sect. Every time there was a calamity they would ﬁght it together. When the crowd went out to greet them, they became speechless when they saw the Tianyin Temple group.
Leading Qing Yun sect was Xiao Yicai who was substituting for the sect head, followed by Return of the Wind Valley Zeng Shuchang and Small Bamboo Valley’s Master Shuiyue. Zeng Shuchang looked over. The monks not only looked weather- beaten but many of them had bloodstains. Clearly they had been through a few hard battles before arriving. And to think that among the Tianyin Temple monks only these few came. Could it be… Zeng Shuchang stepped forward, hesitated and then said, “Master Puhong, you all… this…”
Master Puhong was instead very calm. He clasped his palms together and said, “Now that the catastrophe has come again, the world’s living is in agony. My humble temple monks wanted to save the people. Who knew that while Taoism cultivation had advanced by one chi the devil was higher by one zhang. Most of the disciples are already gone.”
After speaking, he softly chanted, “Amitabha”. Zeng Shuchang was stunned and then his expression revealed anguish. Xiao Yicai composed himself. Although he was also dejected but he still forced a smile and said, “No matter what, it is fortunate that the various masters are here, please come in ﬁrst.”
Master Puhong and the rest of them clasped their palms together to return for the gesture and all of them entered back into the Crystal Hall. Behind them the red clouds in the far horizon seemed to have advanced a bit more. Master Shuiyue walked a few steps and suddenly sensed something. Turned back she saw Lu Xueqi who was following beside her had walked to the banister of the stone stairs and was gazing far out in a daze. No-one could know what she was thinking. Master Shuiyue was about to call her but her expression suddenly turned somber. As if recalled something, she quietly walked over and gently called out behind her, “Xueqi.”
Lu Xueqi moved. She came out of her daze, turned and looked at her teacher, and said, “Yes, teacher. Disciple will go in now.”
After speaking, she was about to head into the hall, but unexpectedly Master Shuiyue suddenly caught her hand and held her back.
Lu Xueqi was surprised. She turned and asked, “Teacher, what is it?”
Master Shuiyue softly sighed. She glanced around and suppressed her voice, “Xueqi, go now.” Lu Xueqi was taken aback. She said, “Teacher, where do you want disciple to go?”
Master Shuiyue looked out, watching those vicious red clouds turbulently looming over, and said, “Leave Qing Yun Hill. Ho where you want to go. Be with the one you miss in your heart and live well together.” She slowly turned and looked at Lu Xueqi, “Don’t come back again.”
Lu Xueqi’s face turned pale. Tears formed in her eyes. But the next moment, she still shook her head and said, “Teacher, I will not go. I want to be with you.”
Master Shuiyue laughed bitterly and said, “Silly child. Teacher has lived most of her life already. Even if I die, it would not nothing. But you are still young and have someone you truly love. Listen to teacher. Leave Qing Yun and go be with him.”
Lu Xueqi clenched her teeth, her lips trembling, as if Master Shuiyue words to her were a temptation she could not reject. This infatuation was etched into her heart. Wasn’t it all for that kind of life? However eventually, as if it was extremely difﬁcult, she slowly still shook her head and then turned and headed into the hall. Master Shuiyue watched her thin and fragile back, heaved out a long sigh and slowly shook her head, her expression sorrowful.
Standing where she was, she gently sighed and also headed into the hall. Halfway through she suddenly stopped and glanced towards a banister a distance away from the hall. She noticed at that secluded spot a couple was there, quietly talking, not knowing what they were talking about.
And of the two of them, the female happened to be Master Shuiyue’s disciple Wenmin. The male was Big Bamboo Valley’s Song Daren. Looking at their expressions and the indistinct tenderness between them, there wasn’t much fear towards the imminent death. Instead it looked more like the cherishing of a limited moment in time.
At least their faces carried faint warmth and smiles.
Master Shuiyue’s heart felt another pain. Watching both of them for a long time, she did not speak and then slowly went into the hall.
In the Crystal Hall the crowd had already seated. Master Puhong, out of reverence, was pushed to sit in the main seat but Master Puhong refused and in the end the seat was left empty. The rest sat on the two rows beside.
Zeng Shuchang coughed and said, “Master, I would like to ask if the area near Tianyin Temple are also being attacked by the evildoers?”
Master Puhong clasped his palms together and said, “Buddha mercifully blessed us. The claws of the evildoers have not yet reached the commoners around Tianyin Temple. Our monks have heard that the evil sect has once again committed sins and to protect the commoners we have come forward to stop. Unexpectedly the evil sect is so powerful this time, causing the loss of many of our disciples. Ai… this old monk is really guilty of heavy sins.”
The Qing Yun members revealed deep regret on their faces. Xiao Yicai consoled and said, “Master you don’t have to blame yourself. The senior brothers who have passed away died a worthy death, they will deﬁnitely go to nirvana. Now that the matter at hand is urgent, we should handle the current situation.”
Master Puhong sighed, nodded and then, with hope on his face, he looked at the Qing Yun sect members and said, “The situation now is critical. The people are in an abyss of misery. In the world only your honorable sect’s senior brother Daoxuan can wield the Zhu Xian sword formation, display mighty power and turn the situation around to save the people. Please!”
He clasped his hands together and made a deep bow. However with his words the Qing Yun sect members looked at each other, everyone speechless, not knowing what to say. Soon Master Puhong realized something was not right, and asked in shock, “Why?”
Xiao Yicai dryly laughed and said, “Master is unaware, we have an unforeseen event. Teacher has already… been missing for many days.” The Tianyin Temple monks stirred. Master Puhong was shocked and said, “Why is this so?”
Xiao Yicai looked helpless, and said, “Since things have come to this I will not hide it from the various masters. Ever since teacher used Zhu Xian sword formation to beat the demon beasts back then he has been acting strange. His behaviours and actions are different from usual. To tell the truth, being only erratic is nothing, but after teacher did some… strange things, he disappeared, and we not heard from him since then.”
Master Puhong was nonplussed. With his lifetime of supreme cultivation and being looked upon differently by the world, why did Reverend Daoxuan turn out like this? It was really unimaginable. But Xiao Yicai clearly did not look like he was lying, and looking at everyone’s awkward faces the “strange” things mentioned were most probably not be something one could easily accept. But the most important thing was, now that Reverend Daoxuan was missing, what should they do next?
Master Puhong suddenly had a change of expression. He looked up at the people and said, “Then… is the Zhu Xian sword still around? In your honorable sect is there another worthy master who can activate this sword formation?”
This time, Xiao Yicai did not speak. Zeng Shuchang who was sitting beside him sighed and said, “Master, you are not aware. The Zhu Xian sword has always been kept and guarded by one person, our Qing Yun sect head reverend and passed down to each generation. Others are not allowed to touch it. Now the Zhu Xian sword has also disappeared together with senior brother Daoxuan; in addition, activating the Zhu Xian sword formation requires Great Qing supreme power. Unless you are a rare talent you will deﬁnitely not be able to cultivate until that level. In our sect over these past few hundred years… only senior brother Daoxuan has been able to reach that realm. We the rest are ashamed. We wanted to help but are powerless.”
The last ray of hope for Master Puhong was extinguished. He was stunned for a long time and quietly said, “If this is all true, then isn’t the battle as good as lost? The calamity will indeed descend upon the people?”
The Qing Yun sect disciples were silent, each of them somber, looking down. Inside the hall, the atmosphere was extremely dense. Who would expect that at this time, a cry of despair was heard from outside and then ﬁerce howls and roars, like the sound of thousands of wild beasts came rumbling in.
A Qing Yun disciple burst in and stumbled. His face was in despair, his voice quivering as he shouted, “Evil... evil sect... evil-doers are advancing up the mountain already…”
Everyone immediately stood up, their faces full of shocked and disbelief. Slowly, an atmosphere of despair permeated this imposing and magniﬁcent Crystal Hall.
Was there really no trace of hope at all? Would everything perish just like this?
Behind, in the crowd, Lu Xueqi quietly turned and gazed far out into the distance. There was no fear on her face, only the faint warmth of longing.
Chapter 259 - Zhu Xian
Red light covered the sky, expanded outwards. Looking over from Tongtian Peak, the entire sky had turned red. Dark red clouds surged and rolled, giving a feeling of suffocation. Under the red clouds everything was dyed red. The sky was red, the mountains were red, the thin ﬂoating clouds in the sea of clouds were also red. The water ﬂowing from the Rainbow Bridge was red. Even the wind blowing past seemed red.
A thick stench of blood wafted up from the breeze, permeating Tongtian Peak.
Numerous ﬁgures were climbing up from below Tongtian Peak, swarming in from all directions. The group was so thick that almost no gap could be seen. Everywhere was people, and every one of their eyes had that strange red glint in them. Most of these people who had turned berserk appeared to be commoners from below Qing Yun Hill judging from their clothes, but then how would commoners be this agile and skilled in climbing like monkeys? This peculiar fact was most likely due to that strange blood glow which had taken over their will. Without any effort it was possible to create thousands of armies. Even if they were bewitched commoners, the Four Divinities Blood Formation was able to stimulate them to ten times their normal potential. Estimating it in this way, it really didn’t seem like there was any resolution against the Evil sect Ghost King. If it were only one mad commoner, no one in Qing Yun Hill would take notice. But for a hundred, a thousand, or the ten of thousands of them that covered the long mountains
and countryside like mad ants charging up - it would give the chills to those who were watching them.
In that crowd of numerous crazed humans, there were many who seemed especially animated. Their skills were obviously far superior to those surrounding commoners who were like ants, leaping about and wielding swords. They knew the skills of cultivated Taoists, and they were extremely skilled. Many had already defeated the Qing Yun sect disciple’s guards. These people were clearly the Good Faction’s cultivated artists who had been bewitched by the Ghost King in previous battles.
With so many experts helping, in addition the almost mad crowd, the Evil sect was like a huge tide hitting the shore. It had unstoppable momentum. Under the illumination of the red light, the Qing Yun disciples who were guarding the area above the sea of clouds were beaten into retreat with almost no resistance. Soon, [suo suo] sounds were heard unceasingly. The evil sect army swarmed in from all directions and occupied the entire huge cloud platform. Looking from afar, the celestial clouds realm was now crowded with people, howling and shouting with cries undulating, like ferocious ghosts from hell, and even more people were squeezing up, there being almost insufﬁcient space to place their feet.
And in the sky, a ball which was a hundred times darker red than the sky, like a ball of blood red light, slowly ﬂew to where the clouds platform was. Wild laughter could be heard from within it.
“Ha ha ha! Useless things from Qing Yun sect! Now you will all ﬁnally know my power! Ha ha… where is Daoxuan? Daoxuan you dog, why are you not out yet? Aren’t you always saving the world? Isn’t Zhu Xian Sword Formation the world’s most invincible? Why is it that today you have become a turtle that hides in its shell and don’t dare to come out? Ha ha…”
The laughter was unbridled and savage, almost hysterical, but also tyrannical. It caused the entire Qing Yun Hill Tongtian Peak to be enveloped in a blanket of despair. However, at this moment, the Evil sect army attacks also stopped temporary, for no other reason than because the Good Faction members were making use of the topology and defended the Rainbow Bridge with all their might. The Rainbow Bridge was an amazing work created by Heaven and Earth and right now it had became a naturally inaccessible moat against the Evil sect army. The vast ﬂoor of the bridge was quite spacious in usual times but right now, to the evil
army, it was no different than a single log bridge.
Those crazy mad people charged up the bridge, but in the next moment, sharp [ah ah] cries were heard unceasingly. Some from losing their footing and others due to the packed crowd, were pushed down from the bridge into the abyss, soon becoming spots of black swallowed by the thick sea of clouds.
Over on the Good Faction side, they were initially caught unprepared by the Evil sect army. Furthermore, due to the vast difference they had collapsed in a blink at the clouds platform. Right now however, with the addition of the elites who were gathered at Crystal Hall boosting the strength of the battle, looking at the illumination of the dazzling array of magical weapons above the Rainbow Bridge, they were already much stronger than previously. Although the numbers were great on the Evil sect side but there were only several that could ﬁght properly. The majority of the others were bewitched by the Four Divinities Blood Formation. Although the formation could augment their capacity and make them super strong, climbing as if they were ﬂying, but in the end it could not make them learn the various Taoism skills like ﬂying in one day. So although the Evil sect was powerful in their strength but most only stood there dumbly and charged ahead. Once they encountered such a natural moat like the Rainbow Bridge, they could do nothing.
There were many Taoist martial artists who could wield their swords and ﬂy to ﬁght but that was still only a few. The Good Faction side increased their numbers to hold the bridge and on the other hand sent experts to handle those enemies that could ﬂy. With numbers on their side, the Evil side was soon suppressed.
As such, as the Good Faction slowly gained their footing and took over the battle, on the Evil side numerous red-eyed crazed humans gashed in anger but could only squeeze through the small but long bridge. Unable to advance or retreat, as time passed their restlessness increased; more fell off the bridge and lost their lives like that. Looking at the black spots falling, the numbers seemed to be more than those that were killed by the Good Faction. This situation was unexpected by the Evil sect and the Good Faction’s morale was boosted. Although the situation was still unfavourable it was still much better than at the start when their people were being defeated like mountains toppling.
It’s just that, this small hope did not stay in the Good Faction martial artists’ hearts for long. After the Evil sect became blocked at the bridge, that strange red ball in the ﬁrmament slowly travelled past the cloud platform, to where the bridge was.
Bright red light rays pulsed, extending and retreating like a terrible monster in the air brandishing its claws and teeth. The rising blood air spun swiftly. In the next moment, several red beams of light shone from the huge blood ball onto the Rainbow Bridge.
Tianyin Temple’s Master Puhong and the rest had fought with the Evil sect previously. Their faces turning solemn when the blood ball ﬂew over. Now that those strange beams of light shone out, Master Puhong’s countenance changed greatly as he shouted quickly, “Quickly move away! That beam of light is what bewitches the people!” Those who heard it changed countenance and quickly avoided it, but those Good Faction members who were tight in the defense at the head of the bridge were unable to escape in time. The rays if light from the sky shot down quickly and cries were heard. A few disciples were trapped in the rays and their bodies were seen shaking violently. Following this their faces contorted, their movements became stiffer, and their eyes slowly reﬂected the red light.
The others beside them who still did not understand the situation, some being friends from the same sect, reﬂexively dashed ahead and wanted to pull the people out from the light. Who would know that those under the lights would suddenly turned on them, started to use their weapons to hack at them and quite a few ended up killed.
Miserable cries of shock rang out at that moment. Master Puhong’s face was ashen. He clenched his teeth, disregarding Buddhism taboos, and shouted loudly, “Those fellow Good Faction friends who have been bewitched… kill them!”
After speaking this, anguish ﬂashed past his face. But right now was not the time to repent. Reverend Daoxuan was missing and he was the next most revered ﬁgure. He also understood the desperate situation they were in now and they could only sustain as much as they could. He did not try to pass off the responsibility of being the one-in-charge and stood to give out orders. Under his command the Good Faction members rushed up and terminated those who were bewitched and temporarily controlled the situation.
However a shadow had now shrouded their hearts. Just not long ago, they had still been their battle allies and in the next moment they had turned into enemies. Who would be next? Or to put it another way, if they themselves were bewitched, then…
As if stimulated by something, the Evil sect army started to howl and shout with extreme excitement. Taking advantage of the short chaos among the Good Faction, a batch of Evil sect people managed to charge down the bridge.
Master Puhong quickly ordered the rest to besiege the group. Though these Evil sect lackeys were still humans but they had huge strength after transforming. Even their bodies seemed to be much sturdier. The ordinary Qing Yun disciples attacked with their weapons and were unable to kill them immediately; it took some time before they could defeat the lackeys. Also taking advantage of this short gap, the ball of blood in the sky howled with hysterical laughter continuously. Several rays of light shot down again as red lights ﬂashed; it was extremely strange.
Immediately the Good Faction members spread out. Nobody wished to be like those living dead. This time although Master Puhong shouted and gave commands but it was already chaotic within the Good Faction. The Evil sect army on the bridge howled and shouted. The pressure increased, and the remaining Good Faction tried their best to defend left and right and eventually could not hold them back. Banging sounds were heard several times and some bodies were hit and went ﬂying back; it was those Good Faction disciples.
Immediately, like a huge embankment collapsing, the mad crowd rushed forward. In the ﬁerce hubbub the numerous members of the Evil sect charged forward and the Good Faction side was immediately thrown into a mess. The entire line of defence was broken.
It seemed like a mortal hell before them. Everyone had despair in their hearts. In the innumerable mad tide of people, most of the Good Faction disciples were separated and most were ﬁghting as one against several terrible enemies who were unafraid of death. Every one of them was ﬁghting bravely, because if not they would be killed. The red clouds ﬂashed in the horizon, the blood air was rising, and that mad laughter seemed to be louder, ﬁlled with arrogance and conceit.
Lu Xueqi was also in the crowd. Tianya Sword glimmered as a blue halo ﬂying around her. Every time a cold glint ﬂashed there would be enemies crying out in death. However whenever one fell instantly there would be another two, three or even four or ﬁve pouncing up to take their place.
Right now her white clothes were dyed red with blood.
Gradually her movements started to slow down. Her arms also seemed to become heavier. Cries of despair could be heard unceasingly beside her which seemed to numb her. She had long lost count of the number of lives she had taken and was just instinctively defending. Even more and more lackeys, their faces contorted and their eyes mad, leapt up to attack.
She clenched her teeth and swept her sword, beating three of the lackeys back, and was about to take a big knife attack from her left when her legs suddenly gave way; it was her body losing strength. Lu Xueqi was shocked. She used her remaining strength to swerve to the side and then her eyes saw stars and she felt dizzy. In the next moment she felt an intense pain in her left shoulder as blood sprayed out.
The pain instead stimulated her body’s remaining strength. Clenching her teeth tight, she retaliated. Tianya struck like breaking bamboos, immediately knocking the enemy onto the ground. But at the same time, several terrible ﬁgures also leapt over.
Lu Xueqi suddenly felt despair. At this moment there was no fear on her face. Under the red light covering the sky she softly sighed. As if resigned to fate, she closed her eyes.
Her hand turned. Tianya sword surged with light. She called out softly, “Xiaofan…” among the other faint sounds, and Tianya sword slid toward her fair neck.
Just when it looked like Lu Xueqi was about to fade and vanishes like a scent, at the critical moment, a swift whistle was heard and a powerful force from the back came to her side, caught hold of her arm, and stopped Tianya about three tenths from her neck. At the same time, a strong wind blew. The person with energy was unseen, blasting those lackeys around away.
Lu Xueqi was shocked. She opened her eyes and saw her mentor Shuiyue. Master Shuiyue was not looking so good either and appeared to have exhausted much of her vitality. Even her body showed the scars of battle.
Lu Xueqi called out, “Teacher…” but did not speak anymore.
Although Master Shuiyue had forced the enemies back but her face was pale. She appeared to be breathless too, but her eyes were still sharp and ﬁrm. She spoke loudly to Lu Xueqi, saying, “Xueqi, live on. Listen to teacher, live on well…” But before she could ﬁnish, Master Shuiyue’s body suddenly shook. Her face was completely pale. Lu Xueqi was shocked and cried out, “Teacher! What... what happened to you…?”
Her voice was suddenly hoarse. A sharp long knife with traces of blood pierced out from Master Shuiyue’s chest. Master Shuiyue’s body wavered and suddenly, with a ﬁerce shout, she turned and struck out with her palm. Immediately the person who attacked her from behind was hit and went ﬂying for several zhang, blood sprayed as he went and looking like he wouldn’t survive.
That person was also brave. Although he had lost his life but when his body ﬂew out he was still holding onto the long knife tightly. Blood spurted as the knife left het body. Master Shuiyue gave a painful groan, and her body turned twice on the the spot. Finally she could not sustain it and collapsed.
Lu Xueqi’s mind went blank. Not knowing where the energy came from, Tianya Sword burst into brilliance. Like an angry gust charging up the sky all of the lackeys within a radius of one zhang were immediately beaten back. Blood and ﬂesh ﬂew everywhere, not knowing how many were unable to ﬂee in time and died under Tianya. After forcing the lackeys back she ran staggering to Master Shuiyue and caught hold of her, tears ﬁlling her eyes as she cried, “Teacher, teacher… what happened? Don’t go…”
Master Shuiyue’s chest wound was too deep. Blood spurted out like fountain. One look and she could tell it was beyond help. Even the glint in her eyes was fading fast. But she could still hear her beloved disciple’s cries. Her pale face revealed her last smile. Looking at Lu Xueqi, she breathlessly said, “Xueqi… remember… live on… well…”
The last word was forced out. Master Shuiyue seemed to have lost all of her strength. Her body shuddered and then turned soft; her eyes closed.
Lu Xueqi felt like she had been struck by thunder. Her entire body wavered and looked like it was going to collapse. The surrounding Evil sect would not give her time either. In this short moment another group of enemies had again besieged her. Lu Xueqi’s face turned pale. It looked like she could not accept that her teacher had just passed away before her, and again, looking like she had lost all desire to live, there was no resistance. But suddenly another ﬁgure came before her, pulling her away in the nick of time. Lu Xueqi looked. It was her senior sister Wenmin, who was covered in blood too. Lu Xueqi’s heart was in pain. She choked and said, “Senior sister. Teacher she.. she…”
Wenmin’s eyes were also in tears but she clenched her teeth tight. Her sword forced the enemies back. Her hand clutched Lu Xueqi tightly and she shouted, “Junior sister, listen to teacher. We must live on!”
Lu Xueqi was jolted back to reality. She turned back and looked at that body which was gradually being swallowed up by the Evil sect lackeys. Two balls like ﬁre suddenly lit up in her eyes. She clenched her teeth, and again ﬁnally wielded Tianya Sword. Back to back with Wenmin, she used the last ounce of her strength to ﬁght and kill, persisting for every bit of hope to survive, bitterly holding on.
Blood red light still covered the sky and was surging over, blocking any trace of sunlight. The violent battleﬁeld had already turned into a mortal hell. The casualties among Good Faction increased, and at this moment, a long whistle was heard from the Jade Pool beside the bridge. The water ripples broke, and a huge spiritual beast leapt out; it was Qing Yun Sect’s mountain guardian, the Water Kylin.
Almost without hesitation, the Water Kylin immediately began attacking the Evil sect lackeys. It brandished its claws and devoured with its huge mouth, immediately causing chaos among the Evil sect army. With such a huge beast, regardless how ferocious one was they would still be struck with fear. Everyone ran to avoid.
The sudden appearance of the Water Kylin gave the almost- defeated Good Faction a chance to breathe. Many lackeys turned back to charge at the giant beast. The Good Faction side, who had almost been crushed under foot, fortunately avoided the fate.
The Water Kylin charged left and right in the crowd. Where- ever it struck miserables undulating cries were heard. The Good Faction took advantage of the chance to all retreat up the Crystal Hall’ stairs. Lu Xueqi and Wenmin were also almost completely exhausted. Wenmin’s skills were lower than Lu Xueqi, and with the enemies ahead temporarily retreated, without that adrenalin to kill, she almost couldn’t even walk up the stairs. Lu Xueqi was not much better than Wenmin but they were, after all, sisters and so they helped each other up to Crystal Hall. Looking around they could not help but feel dejected. The others standing before the hall were less than hundred, and everyone was injured, covered with blood.
Both of them looked at each other, and saw the despair in each other eyes. Although the Water Kylin was ferocious but under the evil lackeys’ attacks, how long could it last?
As expected, although the Water Kylin initially had no foes and attracted most of the army over, but as the surrounding pressure increased, the Water Kylin roared deafeningly, and gradually declined. Those cultivated martial artists within the crowd using their weapons to attack caused particular great damage to the Water Kylin. With the innumerable lackeys like ants swarming up, about an hour later, the Water Kylin ﬁnally revealed fear and, its body battled with wounds, its huge head wavered. It made a shocking loud cry, and with one huge step retreated again into the Jade Pool, never to be seen again.
Although the Good Faction had seen the outcome in the battle earlier, but when the Water Kylin escaped everyone revealed anguish on their faces. They watched as that dark wave again turned in this direction. An air of despair lingered among them.
Lu Xueqi struggled to stand up. She raised Tianya up before her throat. Wenmin was shocked and was about to stop but Lu Xueqi softly spoke, “Senior sister, forget it. It’s already impossible. I would rather commit suicide than allow those people’s dirty hands to kill me.”
Wenmin’s eyes were ﬁlled with tears. Suddenly footsteps sounded from behind. She turned to look and was stunned. It was Big Bamboo Valley’s Song Daren, covered completely in blood, standing silently behind her. Wenmin looked deeply at Song Daren. Song Daren smiled and held her fair hands tightly in his.
Wenmin seemed to have received courage. Her face was no longer fearful and in despair. She slowly revealed a warm smile, turned and spoke softly to Lu Xueqi, “Junior sister, go in peace. We will come immediately to accompany you.”
Lu Xueqi looked at their hands tightly together, and their ﬁgures supporting each other. A smile appeared on her lips, and then she closed her eyes, softly saying in her heart, “Xiaofan, we will meet in the next life…”
Tianya Sword’s cold energy seemed to seep past her skin and into her blood. She smiled, her hand grabbing the sword hilt tightly. Suddenly at this moment, Wenmin cried out, “Junior sister, wait.”
Lu Xueqi was stunned. She put down the sword, and asked, “What?”
Wenmin turned around. It was towards the rear of Tongtian Peak. In a shocked voice she said, “Listen. Listen… what is that sound?”
The battleﬁeld with its violent hubbub had, for some reason, became silent. Without any sound those lackeys were standing still stunned.
In the silence, the entire ancient mountain of Tongtian Peak seemed to be quaking. A deep long whistle exploded from the rear of the mountain, gradually picking up its pitch. It slowly became clearer, the sound piercing up into the clouds. In the whistle a huge resplendent light charged up into the sky, like a huge dragon that had been incarcerated for thousands and thousands of years. It leapt out with a boom, galloped into the nine skies, summoning the wind and rain. The sky changed countenance. The mountains all bowed. Numerous magical weapons in people’s hands started to tremble on their own.
“Zhu xian… Zhu xian… that is Zhu xian!”
Suddenly, a wild and happy shout rang out within the Crystal hall. The Qing Yun disciples, even those with serious injuries, all seemed to have forgotten their pain. They struggled to stand up and look. That resplendent and magniﬁcent light beam passed through the heavens and earth, unparalleled in the world, as if like the incomparable pride and hope in their hearts.
Zhu xian! The ﬁrmament which had been blocked by the red light was immediately forced back by this sudden light. Resplendent light soared below the nine skies, galloping over the air above Tongtian Peak. Suddenly it burst releasing ten thousands rays of light, like a blazing hot sun spilling out onto the world, driving all the darkness away.
Deep inside that light a ﬁgure emerged, but as the dazzling light was too strong, his face could not be seen clearly. In- between the ﬂickering light and shadow they could clearly see that ﬁgure slowly holding up an ancient sword.
Zhu xian ancient sword!
Immediately, Crystal Hall broke into thundering cheers. Wenmin and Song Daren were crying with joy. Only Lu Xueqi’s body wavered, her expression one of disbelief. However right now everyone’s attention was on the sky, nobody noticed her.
That ﬁgure in the horizon, although it was indistinct in the bright light, but that silhouette had long been etched into her heart. Unforgettable even in death, how would she not recognize him? “Xiaofan…” her heart cried out thousands and hundred times over. Her hand clutching the clothes around her chest tightly, as if only like this she could suppress her pounding heart.
Right now, the ball of blood on the Evil faction side also discovered the arrival of the mysterious guest, and rumbling it turned over. Both sides were enveloped in light, one white and one red, a subtle feeling of confrontation.
In the next moment, an angry bellow was heard from the blood ball, “So it’s you!”
Facing Ghost King’s interrogation, that ﬁgure did not answer. He only raised the Zhu xian sword in his hand, and instantly whistling sounds were heard. In the vast ﬁrmament the seven mountain summits of Qing Yun shot out seven colourful rays of light, charging up to the sky like a mythical ﬂood dragon, streaking across the sky and ﬁnally converged on the Zhu xian ancient sword.
The whistling sounds became louder and louder, ﬁlling the entire world with its sound. After a moment, as if the past had once again appeared, under the ﬁrmament the huge sword of colourful energy appeared. The legendary zhu xian sword formation once again appeared in the world.
“Go and die!”
An angry bellow came from the strange ball of blood and it also started to change. Streams of blood started to roll off from both sides, revealing the person’s real appearance. Everyone looked over. With their wide knowledge and experience, they could not help but be stunned and suck in their breaths.
Within the ball of blood, enveloped by balls of huge blood energy, was the cauldron which had turned totally blood-red in colour. But the bizzare thing was that half of Ghost King’s body was already merged into the cauldron, leaving his chest and head above it. His face was savagely contorted, staring hatefully at the ﬁgure within the resplendent light.
Immediately, with a wave, like the pulling by of a huge force, a large amount of blood energy in the horizon was swept up. The strength and impetus was incomparable, like huge waves. The red clouds made of blood energy became a red spear in Ghost King’s hand that spanned ten thousands of zhang long across the horizon. Blazing hot sparks of electricity scurried with sounds of [ci ci]; it was extremely horrible.
“See how I tear your body to thousands of pieces, bastard!” with a heartrending roar Ghost King seemed to have lost all logic and was left only with a thirst to kill. The colossal red spear ﬂew towards the illumination of Zhu xian with a rumble.
On Tongtian Peak, even though they had complete trust in the Zhu xian sword formation, but witnessing Ghost King peerless immerse strength, their countenances still changed. Unable to speak, Lu Xueqi turned pale and stared intently into the horizon.
The Zhu xian sword formation was different this time from the other two times it had been wielded by Reverend Daoxuan. On the horizon, other than the hilt which was unparalleled, the huge multifarious colourful energy swords which looked scornfully at the world, blotting out the sky and covering the earth with hundreds of millions of small energy swords, did not appear. Instead, not knowing why, this time there was only one energy sword. But the brilliant force emanated from Zhu xian sword formation was no less than before. A tiny movement from the colourful huge sword seemed to have the terrible power of tearing the ﬁrmament apart, moving all the stars and constellations.
Looking as that colossal red spear piercing through the sky and approaching, unstoppable, someone in the crowd had already cried out, but the ﬁgure in the illumination did not even have the intention to avoid. On the contrary, he seemed to be ready to receive the spear. Both of his hands suddenly waved forward. Immediately thunder and lightning exploded in the horizon, rumbling. Under the clear sky, Zhu xian sword suddenly turned, facing the red spear and striking it.
The two huge, terrible weapons in the ﬁrmament clashed together. Instantly a hot ﬂash of light that was hundreds and thousands of times brighter and hotter than the sun burst forth. Nobody could open their eyes and could only hear the deafening boom. The earth and mountains moved. It was as if the entire Qing Yun mountain range was unable to withstand the might of heaven and earth, wanted to bow down in fear.
The light dispersed slightly. Everyone couldn’t wait to look at the sky. In the intense battle in the ﬁrmament a huge air vortex had appeared, a profound black colour like the bottomless abyss, coldly watching the mortal world. Under the vortex the colourful Zhu xian huge sword had lost all colour, transformed into a dazzling hot white sword. Piercing the horizon, it carried the power to destroy the world and struck down.
The red huge spear responded and broke.
A terrible, miserable cry came from Ghost King who was moulded with the cauldron. With incredulous despair, even his eyes ﬂowing with blood, he roared, “This is impossible, this is impossible… I have Asura’s power! I have Asura…”
The ﬁnal words were drowned out in the violent storm. Zhu xian sword split the huge blood spear but did not withdraw. Instead it continued on. In that instant the entire ﬁrmament was enveloped in Zhu xian’s illumination. The wind and clouds rolled in the horizon, as if all of the deities and demons in the heavens and earth were trembling in fear of that terrible Zhu xian power. That sword stabbed directly at the cauldron, directly at Ghost King, and directly at the deepest part of the blood ball - those balls of red clouds evil depths!
The blazing light burned everything, tearing away all of the blood rays in the horizon. The storm of lightning and thunder rumbled ceaselessly. Countless remnants of clouds were swept up, swallowed into that black vortex in the ﬁrmament.
Ghost King’s face revealed despair, but within it madness too. He laughed hysterically, shouted hysterically, waved both his hands and suddenly stabbed them into that terrible devil face’s eyes on the cauldron.
[Rumble!] A sound of angry thunder! In that instant it suppressed all of the sounds in the sky. Ghost King’s eyes suddenly spurted two streams of blood. He was heavily injured but he was still laughing hysterically. On the cauldron, as if stimulated by the ﬁnal divine might, a terrible blood red ﬁgure with a height of ten thousands zhang, slowly formed behind Ghost King. “Go and die!” A mad roar rang out in the ﬁrmament. That strange blood devil ﬁgure moved, carrying terrible power, moving the sky of red energy with it, and leapt towards Zhu xian.
And Zhu xian also, having transformed into a blazing white light sword, at the next instant stabbed the cauldron.
In the terrible cries was heartrending anguish. Behind the exploding bright light a human ﬁgure was forced out from the cauldron. As if losing all of his strength, he ﬂew far away and disappeared into the horizon.
And at this time that terrible blood demon ﬁgure had already leapt to where the human ﬁgure was. Losing Zhu xian sword’s protection, that human ﬁgure seemed extremely fragile before the ten thousand zhang tall blood devil ﬁgure body.
[Hou hou] Amidst the wild roars, that ﬁgure in the light was grabbed by the blood devil ﬁgure. In just an instant the light dispersed and the human ﬁgure was also swallowed by the blood ﬁgure. Everyone on Tongtian Peak was nonplussed. Shrill cries were heard and Lu Xueqi’s body shook. Her face lost all colour. With a [wa] sound she spat out a mouthful of blood. Her body wavered and looked like about to collapse.
Suddenly the huge body of the blood devil ﬁgure, which looked like it had won and was laughing savagely, suddenly froze. The Zhu xian Sword, which had ﬂown back, was ﬂashing with a blazing light of exterminating deities and stabbed in from the back and out through its chest.
Around Zhu xian sword the turbulent blood air scattered. The huge body revealed a terrible wound which swiftly expanded. That ﬁgure cried out with a deafening roar before its body shattering apart, throwing the delicate body in its hand towards that terrible profound vortex. The ﬁgure was instantly swallowed by a ball of electricity and vanished.
Closely following, the blood ﬁgure made its last roar and, ﬁnally unable to withstand Zhu xian’s terrible power invading its body, dispersed, roaring under the blazing white light. On the horizon, the red clouds gradually retreated. The storm ceased, and without the manipulation of the rays of blood light, the innumerable lackeys woke up as if from a nightmare. The red light in their eyes dispersed, and they slowly became clear-minded. Over at the Good Faction, everyone looked at each other. After the nightmare, it seemed unbelievable.
“We won? We won?” Everyone looked at each other and asked, hot tears ﬁlling their eyes, as if they could not believe their eyes.
Wenmin and Song Daren hugged each other tightly. They could not bear to let each other go for even a moment. After a long time, Wenmin recalled something. Tears ﬂowing but smiling, she turned and looked at Lu Xueqi, laughing and crying at the same time as she said, “Junior sister, junior sister, look at us…”
Her words suddenly stopped. Behind her, Lu Xueqi had fallen down. As if she did not have an ounce of energy left she fainted. But this tiny sorrow was soon drowned out by the cheers and shouts that exploded out at Tongtian Peak. That vortex in the ﬁrmament slowly disappeared. Warm sunlight again shone down onto the world, carrying a long- awaited peace and warmth.
Chapter 260 - Epilogue
White clouds drifted leisurely above the mountains, a breeze blew, an indescribable carefree and leisure.
At the once Majestic Fox Mountain, the huge abyss no longer had the red striking light, but from the abyss depths, hot air drifted up at times, indistinct sounds of lava ﬂowing.
Before the abyss, a man stood solitary there, both of his eyes closed, but he seemed blind, his face was haggard, his ﬁgure thin and tall, sometimes muttering something, after a long time, he slowly fell onto the ground.
The rough ground gave a sturdy feeling, his lips slowly revealed a smile, softly calling,
The voice drifted off, there wasn’t any reply, he lightly panted for a while, slowly, stopped breathing. After a long while again, a ﬁgure from far walked over, it was a lady with a black veil on her face, her ﬁgure slender, it was Youji who was missing for a long time, she saw that there was a ﬁgure who had collapsed at the fringe of the abyss, was shocked and immediately ﬂew over, but it was too late.
Supporting that man’s body, her eyes turning red, behind the veil, came her sobbing cries.
And at this moment, in the abyss behind her, in the deep darkness, a clear crisp bell rang out. Youji’s body shook greatly, almost couldn’t believe her ears, whipped around and looked down, but other than the deep darkness, nothing could be seen.
The clear bells, drifted melodiously, from the abyss, into the mountain breeze…
Under the Qing Yun Hill, outside HeYang City, a row of people was walking slowly along the wild ancient path. Xiao huan who was smiling broadly suddenly turned around, her dimple like ﬂower, asked the person behind her, “Pinger sister, are you speaking the truth? You have really put down everything and will follow us to roam the world?”
Clothed in light yellow, extremely charming and brimming with vitality Jin Pinger smiled, hugged Xiao Huan’s shoulders and said, “That is of course. The mortal world is full of perils, stinky men uncountable, there are already two beside you day and night, if I do not watch over you, I will be really worried!”
Xiao Huan laughed happily, both of them walked side by side, behind them a sound of grumble, angrily said, “What stinky men, I am by nature kind, everyone in the world knows, right, Wild Dog?”
Wild Dog Taoist walked past the grumbling Zhou Yixian, [he he] laughed, did not reply, instead quickened his steps towards the two slender ﬁgures.
Zhou Yixian [pei] a few times, shook his head sighed and said, “Public morals are declining by the day, Public morals are declining by the day ah…” He suddenly seemed to recall something, gazed far back, that lofty towering Qing Yun Hill mountains range, towering into the clouds, magniﬁcent. A smile revealed on his lips, an indistinct wise glint ﬂashed in his eyes.
“Grandpa, hurry up!” behind, Xiao Huan called out.
Zhou Yixian [he he] laughed, turned around, waved the bamboo pole with the banner in his hand, loudly laughed and said, “Coming, coming, I know that without me this main backbone, all of you are unable to go on, ha...eh, hey, the few of you, better walk slowly, can’t you see me this old man walks slower, not agile, hey…”
Time passed leisurely, not knowing in a blink, how much time had passed again.
Lu Xueqi succeeded as Small Bamboo Valley branch leader, this day had wielded her sword and came to the Big Bamboo Valley, to visit her senior sister Wenmin who was already married to Big Bamboo Valley Song Daren. Both sisters had not seen each other for many days, naturally had much to talk about when they met, from morning until noon before Lu Xueqi took leave. Song Daren and Wenmin came out to send her, three of them stood outside Observed Silence Hall, Lu Xueqi observed the surroundings, smiled and said to Wenmin, “This place seems really peaceful, really suits senior sister.”
Wenmin smiled and nodded, Song Daren also laughed and said, “Actually Big Bamboo Valley is also rather bustling, just that these few days the junior brothers all went out to cultivate, with less people naturally it is quieter. Oh and, we had Da Huang here, it is a big dog that our teacher raised from young, but these few days it suddenly disappeared, didn’t even hear its barking, it is really strange.”
Wenmin rolled her eyes at him, said, “Most likely Da Huang despises the food you all fed it and ran away.”
Song Daren laughed, did not seem to mind too. Lu Xueqi watched the loving couple, her heart also felt assured, chatted a while and then left. Her white clothes ﬂuttered as she ﬂew, feeling suddenly moody today, she did not wish to return immediately to Small Bamboo Valley, or it could be because of the loving scene from her senior sister that caused her mood, for a moment could not control herself, unknowingly she travelled down Qing Yun Hill, came to the abandoned Grasstemple village.
Luxuriant grasses, breezes blowing, as if nothing had changed.
She stood silently for a long time, softly sighed, on her beautiful face, she seemed depressed. Striding, she slowly walked, leisurely deeper into the ruins.
The broken walls and buildings, separated into two sides, in the grasses and light breezes, quietly stood, she quietly walked ahead, her gaze distant, quietly watching the surroundings, her eyes full of tenderness.
Suddenly her body shook, she stopped in disbelief, saw deep in the ruins ahead, a simple wooden hut was erected, a chimney askew at the roof, was pufﬁng white smoke out, outside the hut, two stacks of woods were placed, under the eaves, a small wind chime hung, on the chime, not knowing why, a torn green cloth was tied to it, in the gentle breeze, emitting clear chimes.
An inviting fragrance, drifted out from the wooden hut.
“Woof woof woof, woof woof woof!”
“Zhi zhi, zhi zhi…”
A series of strange sounds, suddenly rang out from the house and then a yellow ﬁgure ﬂashed, it was a big old yellow dog scurrying out from the house, its face full of happiness, spread it legs and ran; on its back there was a grey-fur money, with three eyes on its face, holding a delicious meat bone on its hand, the other hand clutching tightly to the yellow dog’s neck, calling out, most likely urging the yellow dog to run quickly.
Closely following, a man ran out, wearing coarse clothing, with a bitter laugh shouted, “Damm dog, damm monkey, coming again to steal meat bones to eat…” Suddenly he stopped, his eyes reﬂecting Lu Xueqi’s ﬁgure.
The two of them, stood there unmoving, staring at each other.
How much time, the worries and feelings of the mortal world, were all in this deep gaze, and then, both of them laughed at the same time…
A gust of breeze blew past, the bell below the eave chimed, the green cloth gently ﬂoated, as if carrying some smiles; clear bells, following the wind drifted up, reverberated in-between the heavens and earth.