A small smoldering ball of fire lit up the surroundings with a warm glow, reflecting Liu Fuyi’s face. With a sudden ‘whoosh’, the smear of yellow started to slowly turn into ash purple. The edges of the yellow paper curled up and thin strands of smoke drifted upwards.
The last Tracking Talisman he possessed simply burned into ash like that.
With a great hubbub of flapping wings, a dense group of bats flew over his head.
The further he went, the narrower the path became.
He followed the faint, nearly indiscernible smoke while calmly paying attention to the sounds coming from all directions. Suddenly he raised his hand and pushed away tree leaves, discovering a group of dark shadows on the empty grounds ahead. There were four of them on each side, standing in a neat line as they silently lifted up a blood-red palanquin between them. As soon as he came into view, they started to move away at a speedy rate.
The palanquin itself seemed like an illusion. Its details were blurry and indistinct under the dim light. It swung back and forth, making it seem like ribbons of red were drifting off of it constantly.
The last vestiges of smoke completely evaporated upon reaching this place.
Liu Fuyi silently followed them but also failed to notice the rhombus shaped mark on the tree. That is also to say, he had completely broken away from Tao Ying’s meticulous plans to trap them. Now, he was headed towards the main den of the demons.
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But his mind was in chaos at that moment, countless memories that he had nearly forgotten being summoned from the depths of his mind.
Six years ago, at the broken gates of the Mu residence, she had saved him. Her face was always cold yet beautiful even when she strenuously dragged him all the way to her room. She silently but carefully tended to him.
That just so happened to also be near the collapse of the Mu family, Mu Huaijiang and Bai Jin meeting unexpected calamity. Their ends were not peaceful ones as the entire clan, other than the Mu brother and sister, met their ends to a Reverse Talisman from a great demon. All of the demon hunter world watched on as the joke of a Mu clan collapsed.
Against her will, the young girl could only take up the mantle of family head. Her face was cold and cheerless, her actions swift and decisive. In actuality, she would return to being the eldest daughter of the Mu family during the night, crying out the stress and torment in a torrent of tears.
Actually, from the first day that he woke up and every day henceforth, he would lay on the bed with his eyes closed as he listened to the girl say everything on her mind at the edge of the bed. They were total strangers.
She only had her younger brother left but she was the older sister. As the older sibling, she couldn’t show her weakness to her brother. She was at the end of her rope so she could only spill everything to a stranger of a demon hunter. To her, he was unconscious anyways so she didn’t worry about her secrets.
As long as the door was shut, she would turn back into the fifteen year old Mu Yao. The one he was most familiar with, yet also a stranger. The one that would miss her parents. The one that worried over the future. The one that would become completely pissed off at the slightest provocation. The one… that nearly burst into tears when she felt aggrieved.
However, as long as the door was open, the one that walked out was the cold and unfeeling head of the Mu family. Her skills were profound and she conducted herself arrogantly. Her slender and thin shoulders carried the weight of an entire declining demon hunter family.
On the sixth day, while Mu Yao had been feeding him medicine, his mind wandered and let his brows furrow.The girl immediately acted as if she was a startled chick, abruptly placing the bowl of medicine on the table and mumbling out almost incoherently, “If… you’re awake them feed yourself.”
She thought of all the days she had been doing this, of all the words she had said and anxiously worried over how much he had heard and how much he understood her thoughts. Her face turned furious pink and she immediately made her escape through the door.
He looked at her figure as she left, a deep sense of pity and tenderness settling within his heart.
He originally lived a life of a loner. However, from then on, he had never left Mu Yao’s side. He never said anything but always just stayed by her side, doing all he could to help her. He protected her and even went so far as to teach her how to use talismans. He accompanied her to gain experience, sticking to her shoulder-to-shoulder, tacitly acting as her knight in shining armor.
However, the older she became, and the more they understood one another, the more independent and stubborn she became. She no longer opened up her heart to him and when things happened she would keep them to herself to carry.
The palanquin was silent.
He quickly swept aside the curtain and at the same time, gripped the blade of light tightly in his hands. He clenched his teeth and swept down, directly cutting off the roof of the palanquin.
If there was an ambush inside, this move would’ve removed any room for maneuver.
With no roof covering it, the inside of the palanquin was exposed to the outside. The scarlet red carpet and shabby seat inside became visible.
There was not a single soul inside. There was, however, a pile of clothes neatly piled up on the seat.
He felt his heart drop to his stomach yet his hand already uncontrollably reached over to pick up the clothes. The top of the pile was a pure white outer jacket and below… a light yellow skirt. In between the two was a light purple set of innerwear used to cover the chest. The innerwear was exceptionally soft, but was stained by many blotches of blood. The rusty smell of blood mixed in with a familiar plum blossom fragrance.
Mu Yao’s clothes.
His hand shook and killing intent uncontrollably surged up into his eyes. The small wooden pagoda flew out from his sleeve and spun up into the air, very quickly transforming into the size of half a room. The light that spilled from its windows was as blinding as fire.
He already recognized the path he was on. If he continued following this path, he would reach the old temple. If he didn’t guess wrong, Tao Ying would bring Mu Yao there to wait for him.
Mu Yao was both the prey and the bait.
“Nine Mysterious Demon Restraining Pagoda, obey my command: ” His fist was tightly clenched and voice extremely gloomy, almost like a lone maverick in his youth. He exuded that cold, unfeeling stench as he commanded, “All evil monsters and filthy creatures, are dreadful existences that must be annihilated. You are authorized to kill, without leaving a single iota remnant of them alive.”
Miaomiao dragged her injured leg along with her as she headed out of the forest by herself.
She had the common sense to know that she couldn’t pull out this little dagger. Her teacher had said that there was a big artery on her leg and if she were to carelessly pull out the dagger, her blood would immediately spurt into the air and cover the ceiling. She would turn into a cold corpse in no time.
Even though this was the safest method… she was still terrified.
The trees in the forest were desolate, each and every one of them cold and unfeeling. She opened her apricot shaped eyes as far as they could go, watching the surroundings with great anxiety: Wasn’t it just saving herself from being encircled? She put her life on the line to be a life-saving pawn for Mu Yao. This should be considered a huge favor that would wash away all her shortcomings right? Maybe even, when the time comes, Mu Sheng would turn around and personally show his gratitude to her. The very thought of such a thing was wonderful.
The area beside the creek was exceptionally cold and silent. She quickly felt like she could no longer bear it and started to slip out of there.
She walked all the way back to their main camp. The wood fueling the bonfire had already been consumed, leaving only a small glow about a fifth of its original size being blown back and forth by the wind. Below the tree were her discarded clothes and not a single soul was in sight.
”Strange, wasn’t Brother Liu passed out? Where could he have gone?”
She looked around, heard and then saw a bush not far away shaking. When she neared to take a peek, she discovered to her shock that a black figure as dark as ink hid in the bush. She was so shocked that she felt faint. Before her consciousness recovered, an old, aged voice came from somewhere else, “Your highness… your highness, where are you?”
This… was this still a human?
Before she knew it, the dark silhouette started shaking even more violently. Ling Miaomiao saw it struggle before exposing the silhouette of an elegant phoenix hairpin —- so it was Princess Duanyang!
She felt like some things fell into place in her heart as she turned around to take a look. Under the cold moonlight, the word ‘princess’ kept tumbling out of the old fogey’s mouth. He floated weakly in the air, somewhat curled up, with no legs to speak of and also no shadow casted onto the ground.
Hoh. The majestic Princess Duanyang was stuck in a dilemma because of a demon.
Miaomiao walked right behind the bush and slapped one hand onto Duanyang’s shoulder, scaring the other so greatly she nearly screamed off her head as she turned around with a face paler than paper.
She crouched down, eyes filled with a warning for the other to stay ‘quiet’. Then, she held onto the other’s shoulder and pushed her down, making her lie even lower.
As she had seen someone familiar, the terror on Princess Duanyang’s face faded a few degrees.
Miaomiao looked Duanyang’s face all over and then plucked out the most valuable, pure gold hairpin from her hair, sticking it back onto her own head.
Duanyang stared at her unblinkingly, so furious she started to tremble. Even in this kind of situation she….
“Your highness, where are you? There’s not much time left, hurry and follow me!” The ghoul-like voice sounded out again and the two of them froze. Ling Miaomiao took a look at her, turned around and walked out of the bush.
“Hey! What are you doing?!” The princess was deeply shocked, shaking her sleeves and trying desperately to make gestures towards her, with her mouth.
It had been so difficult for her to find someone familiar to her, she didn’t want to wait alone again…
Ling Miaomiao was mired down by her, unable to extricate herself. She turned around and pointed at the empty area behind the bush then slightly opened her lips, her expression exceptionally flat, “Don’t move.”
Duanyang’s arrogance was instantly extinguished — Ling Miaomiao had the face of a pretty daughter of a humble family. Normally she was disorderly and clumsy, no matter how she looked at it she was just the young miss of some official’s family messing about. However, the impression she had of her in her heart was completely toppled today.
The person in front of her… her skirt was caked in blood. A dagger was still left stuck into her leg. Not to mention the hair-raising smile she had on just now…
She was completely different from her outside appearance, just like Mu Sheng. No matter what she did, she would be a terrifying existence to Duanyang.
Under the princess’s accusatory silence, she got up and walked to the old man, “Hasn’t this princess been here the entire time? Let’s go.”
The resentful spirit immediately stopped. Only a good while later did he ask vigilantly, “Princess… is that you?”
What kind of joke was this, even their voices weren’t the same…
Ling Miaomiao harrumphed, “Old man, your eyes have gone bad. If it’s not this princess, then who could it be?” She reached out to caress the hairpin in her hair. Her voice was both crisp and echoing, just like the sound of pearls colliding with one another. “Take a close look at the golden phoenix hairpin on my head, was that girl wearing this earlier?”
As soon as her words came out and an aura of pampered arrogance hit the resentful spirit full on in the face. To him, compared to the shaky, faltering girl before, this one before his eyes was as arrogant as the princess was….
Ling Miaomiao was full of schadenfreude as she watched the reaction of the old ghost. He was originally short and in addition to his hunched back, his head only reached her stomach. It really undermined his aura.
Not only that, in the original book, it mentioned that all the resentful spirits within the old temple had their eyes ruined at the hands of the smoke and fire. They were basically just a bunch of rabble. They were originally just a mob that turned into resentful spirits for whatever reason. None of them really cultivated and so other than Tao Ying himself, the others were basically blind bears.
Not just blind, but also dumb… a sheet of scattered sand 1 a group lacking in cohesion… …
In the original story, Duanyang was tricked and captured by this person, nearly losing her mind. Although the main leads managed to save her in time and her life wasn’t lost, her toe had been burnt off. She was deemed a cripple and in the latter part of the story, her temper grew even more prejudiced.
With a person like her here, who knew the story, to guide and help the plot along, she could be considered helping a friend.
Moreover, Tao Ying was currently where Mu Yao was. At this moment they should be fighting hundreds of rounds. In comparison, these little ghosts before her were nothing…
Should he collect the people at the gate?
Seeing that he was hesitant and unsure, she aggressively continued, “Is this princess not your Goddess?”
The old man wiped away his non-existent sweat. His expression immediately became respectful, “Yes… yes, Goddess.”
Miaomiao reached out a hand, taking out her handkerchief. In her palm lay two black Sariras, “Hm, come take a look. Aren’t these your holy objects?
The old man reached out and the instant he touched the Sarira, his expression warped terribly. He kneeled like he was afraid of being scolded, figurative hairs standing on end. The only thing he didn’t do, was smash his head into the ground, “Those are…. Those are our holy objects…”
Miaomiao’s words became ever so more sharp, “I am your Goddess and I have the holy objects. Then what are you still hesitant over?” She patted her leg, “this princess was in a rush to follow you just now and fell over. Now my leg is in such excruciating pain that I am unable to walk any longer. Why haven’t you thought of something yet!?”
The resentful spirit, still basically splayed out on the ground, reached out and brandished his hand. Literally a few moments later, the grass around them started to rustle and from a distance away, they could see a train of small demons headed their way. There were 8 in total, four on each side. They swayed back and forth, carrying a bright red palanquin on their shoulders, quickly making their way over.
The palanquin softly thumped onto the ground before her. The eight little demons looked at her and then at each other. They had grins reaching up to their eyes as they knelt down. The old man was in front of them, also kneeling, with a face full of reverence and respect. He very carefully extended his hand to pull aside a corner of the curtain, “P-P-P…Please ascend Goddess, the palanquin is ready.”
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