Chapter 41 Grasses—Part Nine
Xiao XingChen’s smile froze.
The words “Xue Yang” were too big of a shock to him. His complexion was quite pale to start with. After he heard the name, all of the blood drained from his face. His lips were almost a shade of pink-tinted white.
As if he wasn’t sure, Xiao XingChen asked in a low voice, “… Xue Yang?” He was suddenly startled, “A-Qing, how did you learn of this name?”
A-Qing, “Xue Yang is the person with us! He’s that bastard!”
Xiao XingChen stammered in confusion, “The person with us? … The person with us…” He shook his head, as though he was feeling somewhat dizzy, “How did you know?”
A-Qing, “I heard him kill someone!”
Xiao XingChen, “He killed someone? Who did he kill?”
A-Qing, “A woman! She’s very young. I think she had a sword with her. Xue Yang was hiding a sword on him as well. It was because I heard them fighting. They were really loud. The woman kept on calling him ‘Xue Yang’, and said that he ‘wiped out the temple’, that he ‘killed countless people’, and that he should be ‘rightfully punished’. Oh heaven, he’s out of his mind! He’s been hiding beside us all along, and I don’t even know what he’s trying to do!”
A-Qing stayed awake the whole night, making up lies in her mind. First, she definitely couldn’t let Daozhang know that he killed living humans thinking that they were walking corpses. She couldn’t let him know that he killed Song Lan with his own hands either. So, although it’d be unfair to Daozhang, she couldn’t tell him about Daozhang Song’s death no matter what. The best would be for Xiao XingChen to run away as far as he could after he discovered who Xue Yang was!
Yet, the news was too hard for him to accept. And, it also sounded rather absurd. Xiao XingChen couldn’t believe it at all, “But his voice is different. And…”
A-Qing was so frustrated that she kept on knocking her pole on the ground, “He purposely made it so that his voice is different! He’s afraid that you’ll recognize him!” Suddenly, an idea popped up, “Oh right! Right, right! He has nine fingers. Daozhang, do you know? Did Xue Yang also have nine fingers? You’ve definitely seen him before, right?”
Xiao XingChen staggered, almost falling to the ground.
A-Qing immediately helped him to the table, where they both sat down slowly. After a while, Xiao XingChen spoke again, “But, A-Qing, how did you find out that he has nine fingers? Have you touched his hand before? If he really is Xue Yang, though, how would he have let you touch his left hand for you to discover it?”
A-Qing clenched her teeth, “… Daozhang! Let me tell you the truth! I’m not blind. I can see! I didn’t touch his hands, but saw them instead!”
Each shock was greater than the previous. Xiao XingChen was almost at a loss for words, “What did you say? You can see?”
Although A-Qing was afraid, she couldn’t hide the truth any longer. She apologized and apologized, “I’m sorry, Daozhang! I didn’t lie to you on purpose! I was scared that if you knew that I’m not blind, you’d chase me away! But please don’t blame me for now. Let’s run away together. He’ll be back after he finishes shopping for food!”
Suddenly, she closed her mouth.
The bandages that wrapped around Xiao XingChen’s eyes were initially white. Now, though, two smudges of red seeped from within. The blood grew more and more and eventually leaked through the bandages, trickling down from where his eyes once were.
A-Qing cried out, “Daozhang, you’re bleeding!”
Xiao XingChen seemed as if he had just noticed. With a faint exclamation, he reached his hand to his face. When he took it away, it was covered in blood. With quivering hands, A-Qing helped him wipe some off. Yet, the harder she tried, the more blood there was. Xiao XingChen raised a hand, “I’m fine… I’m fine.”
Originally, the injury of his eyes would bleed whenever he had excessive thoughts or emotions, but it hadn’t recurred in quite a long while. Wei WuXian even thought that it had healed already. Today, though, it started to bleed again.
Xiao XingChen murmured, “But… But if he really is Xue Yang, why would it be like this? Why didn’t he kill me in the beginning, and even stayed by my side for so many years? Why would this be Xue Yang?”
A-Qing, “Of course he wanted to kill you in the beginning! I’ve seen his eyes before. They were meaner than mean and scarier than scary! But since he was injured and couldn’t move, he needed someone to care for him! I didn’t know him. If I did and knew that he was a killing machine, I would’ve stabbed him to death when he was in the bush! Daozhang, let’s run! Alright?”
Yet, in his heart, Wei WuXian sighed, That’d be impossible. If she didn’t tell Xiao XingChen, he would’ve continued living like this with Xue Yang. Now that she told Xiao XingChen, he wouldn’t simply run away either. He’d definitely ask Xue Yang directly. There’s no solution to this.
As he had expected, after Xiao XingChen managed to calm down, he told A-Qing, “A-Qing, run away.”
His voice was slightly hoarse. A-Qing sounded somewhat scared, “Me? Daozhang, let’s run away together!”
Xiao XingChen shook his head, “I can’t go. I need to find out what exactly he’s trying to do. He definitely has a goal, and tried to reach this goal in the past few years by pretending to somebody else and staying by my side. If I left him here alone, I’m afraid that the people of Yi City would sink into his hands. Xue Yang has always been this way.”
This time, A-Qing’s sobs weren’t faked anymore. She tossed the bamboo pole to the side and clung to Xiao XingChen’s leg, “Me? Daozhang, how can I go by myself? I wanna stay with you. If you’re not leaving, then I’m not leaving either. If worst comes to worst we’ll just be murdered by him. I’ll be so lonely that I die if I’m roaming outside by myself anyways. I know you don’t want this to happen so me, so let’s run away together!”
Unfortunately, after the secret that she wasn’t blind was revealed, her tactic of using this to gain sympathy no longer worked. Xiao XingChen replied, “A-Qing, you can see and you’re very clever. I trust that you’ll be able to live a good life. You don’t know how scary Xue Yang is. You can’t stay. You mustn’t go near him again, either.”
Wei WuXian could even hear A-Qing silent screaming, I do know! I know how scary he is!
But she couldn’t open her mouth and speak the truth.
Suddenly, a series of brisk footsteps came from outside.
Xue Yang was back!
Xiao XingChen looked up in alarm, returning to the level of keenness he had when he night-hunted. He quickly pulled A-Qing over and whispered, “When he comes in, I’ll handle him while you use the chance to escape. Listen to me!”
A-Qing was so scared that she could only nod, tears still brimming in her eyes. Xue Yang kicked the door, “What are you guys doing? I’m already back, and you haven’t left yet? If you’re still in there then open the hatch and let me inside. I’m so tired.”
Simply from the tone and the voice, one would think that he was only a boy-next-door, a cheerful shidi. However, who’d ever imagine that the person who stood outside was a villain who had no sense of morality, a demon who wore the facade of a human!
Although the door wasn’t locked, it had been bolted from the inside. If they didn’t open the door anytime soon, Xue Yang would definitely be suspicious. Then, when he entered, he’d definitely be somewhat vigilant. A-Qing wiped her face, “How are you tired?! It’s only such a small distance from here to the market, and you’re already tired?! I’m just a bit slow since I’m seeing which outfit is better. How does it concern you?!”
Xue Yang mocked, “How many outfits do you even have? No matter how much you change, you’ll look the same. Come, come, open the door.”
Even when A-Qing’s legs wobbled, she still spat in a strong voice, “Hmph! I’m not gonna open it for you. Kick however you please.”
Xue Yang laughed, “Mark your words. Daozhang, fix the door afterwards. Don’t blame it on me.”
After he spoke, he immediately kicked the wooden door open. He stepped over the high threshold and walked inside. He held the basket filled with vegetables on one hand, and a crimson apple on the other. Just as he took a bite out of it, he looked down only to see Shuanghua, which sunk into his stomach.
The basket dropped to the ground. The cabbage, carrots, apples, and steam buns rolled onto the floor.
Xiao XingChen shouted in a low voice, “A-Qing, run!”
Moving as fast as she could, A-Qing barged through the door of the coffin home. Immediately afterward, she went on another path and crept back again. She climbed to her usual hiding spot, the one she used most often and was most familiar with, and even popped her head out to watch what was going on inside.
Xiao XingChen asked coldly, “Was it fun?”
Xue Yang took another bite into the apple that was still in his hand. He only replied after calmly chewing for a while and swallowing the fruit, “Yes. Of course it was fun.”
He used his original voice again.
Xiao XingChen, “Just what do you want to do, having stayed with me for all these years?”
Xue Yang, “Who knows? Maybe I’m bored.”
Xiao XingChen pulled out Shuanghua and got ready to attack again. Xue Yang added, “Daozhang Xiao XingChen, do you still want to hear the second half of the story that I didn’t finish?”
Xiao XingChen, “No.”
Although he refused, his head tilted slightly forward and his sword paused as well. Xue Yang replied, “Well, I’m gonna tell it anyways. After you hear it, if you still think it’s my fault, you can do whatever you want.”
He casually wiped the wound on his stomach, suppressing it so that it didn’t bleed excessively, “The child saw the man who fooled him to take the letter. He felt both frustrated and happy. He threw himself to the man as he cried, and said to him, ‘I brought the letter there, but the pastries are gone and I was beaten up. Can you give me another plate?
“The man seemed like he had been caught by the brawnier one and had been beaten as well. His face was injured. Seeing the dirty little child clinging onto his leg, he couldn’t help but felt annoyed and kicked him away at once.
“He climbed up the ox cart and told the cart driver to leave at once. The child climbed up from the ground and kept on chasing the cart. He really wanted to eat the plate of sugary pastries. Having finally chased up to it, he waved his arms in front of the cart for them to stop. The man was too irritated by his crying. Snatching the driver’s whip, he lashed at his head and threw him onto the ground.”
He spoke one word at a time, “And then, the wheels of the cart ground over the child’s hand, one finger at a time.”
Xiao XingChen couldn’t see, but Xue Yang raised his left hand at him anyway, “He was seven! The bones of his left hand were crushed, while one finger was ground into battered flesh on the spot! This man was Chang Ping’s father.
“Daozhang Xiao XingChen, you were so just, so stern when you brought me to Koi Tower! You condemned me and asked me why I wiped out an entire sect simply because of some suspicion. Is it that, since the fingers weren’t yours, you guys were incapable of feeling the pain?! You guys didn’t know how horrifying screams sounded like out of your own mouths? Why didn’t you ask him why he decided to amuse himself with me without a single reason?! The current Xue Yang was bestowed upon you by the past Chang CiAn! The YueyangChang CLAN was only reaping what it had sown!”
Xiao XingChen spoke as though he couldn’t believe Xue Yang’s words, “Chang CiAn broke one of your fingers in the past. If you sought revenge, you could’ve simply broken one of his fingers as well. If you really took the matter to heart, you could’ve broken two, or even all ten! Even if you had cut off an entire arm of his, things wouldn’t have been like this. Why did you have to kill his entire clan? Don’t tell me that a single finger of yours was equal to more than fifty human lives!”
Xue Yang actually pondered upon the matter, as if he found Xiao XingChen’s questions strange, “Of course. My finger was my own, while those lives were other peoples’. They wouldn’t be equal no matter how many lives I killed. It was only around fifty. How could it have possibly been equal to one of my fingers?”
Xiao XingChen’s face grew paler and paler from Xue Yang’s confident tone. He shouted, “Then what about others?! Then why did you wipe out Baixue Temple? Why did you blind Daozhang Song ZiChen’s eyes?!”
Xue Yang asked in reply, “Then why did you stop me? Why did you hinder what I wanted to do? Why did you stand up for those dregs of the Chang Clan? You wanted to help Chang CiAn? Or Chang Ping? Hahahaha, how did Chang Ping first cry tears of gratitude? And how did he later beg you not to help him? Daozhang Xiao XingChen, this matter had been your fault, ever since the beginning. You shouldn’t have meddled with the rights and wrongs of other people. Who was right, who was wrong; would an outsider be able to understand? Or, maybe you shouldn’t have even left the mountain in the first place. Your teacher, BaoShan SanRen, was indeed smart. Why didn’t you listen to her and obediently cultivate in the mountains? If you couldn’t understand the happenings of this world, then you shouldn’t have come!”
It was more than Xiao XingChen could bear, “… Xue Yang, you really are… too disgusting…”
Hearing this, the killing intent that hadn’t flashed through Xue Yang’s eyes for quite a long while had appeared again.
He laughed bitterly, “Xiao XingChen, this is why I hate you. The people that I hate the most are ones like you who say they’re righteous, who think they’re virtuous, precisely stupid, naive, dumb idiots like you who think the world’s better just because you did something good! You think I’m disgusting? Very well. Would I care if anybody thinks I’m disgusting? But, on the other hand, are you in a position to be disgusted by me?”
Xiao XingChen paused slightly, “What do you mean?”
A-Qing’s and Wei WuXian’s hearts were about to jump out of their chests!
Xue Yang spoke in an affectionate manner, “Recently, we haven’t went out at night to kill walking corpses, have we? But, a few years ago, didn’t we go outside and kill a bunch every couple of days?”
Xiao XingChen’s lips moved, as though he was feeling somewhat uneasy, “Why are you bringing this up now?”
Xue Yang, “Nothing, really. It’s just really unfortunate that you’re blind. You dug out both of your eyes, so you couldn’t see those ‘walking corpses’ that you killed. They were so scared, so pained when you pierced them through the heart. Some even kneeled down and cried and kowtowed for you to let off the young and elderly of their families. If not for how I cut off all of their tongues, I bet they would’ve been wailing and shouting ‘Daozhang, spare us’.”
Xiao XingChen’s entire body started to tremble.
After a long while, he managed, “You deceived me. You wanted to deceive me.”
Xue Yang, “Yes, I deceived you. I’ve been deceiving you all along. Who would’ve known that you believed me when I was deceiving you, but now you don’t believe me when I’m speaking the truth?”
Xiao XingChen staggered and swung his word toward Xue Yang, shouting, “Be quiet! Be quiet!”
Xue Yang pressed his abdominal area. Snapping with his left hand, he calmly backed away. The expression on his face wasn’t that of a human anymore. Green light shone from his eyes. Along with the canine teeth that showed when he smiled, he looked as though he was a living monster. He shouted, “Alright! I’ll be quiet! If you still don’t believe me, then pass a few moves with the one standing behind you. Make him tell you that if I’m deceiving you or not!”
A sword brought a gust of wind toward him. Xiao XingChen naturally blocked it with Shuanghua. As the two swords clashed, his face immediately grew blank.
Or, one could say that his entire body instantly became a stone statue depicting a withered human.
Xiao XingChen asked with utmost cautiousness, “… Is that you, ZiChen?”
There was no answer.
Song Lan’s corpse stood behind him. He appeared as if he was gazing at Xiao XingChen, but there were no pupils within his eyes. He held the sword that clashed with Shuanghua.
The two of them had definitely often learnt from each other by exchanging blows. Even if the two swords had just clashed, Xiao XingChen should be able to tell who the other was from only the strength of the attack. Yet, Xiao XingChen seemed as though he wasn’t sure. He turned around slowly and reached out a quivering hand, feeling for the blade of Song Lan’s sword.
Song Lan didn’t move. Xiao XingChen moved his hand upward from the tip. Finally, one stroke after another, he traced over the characters “Fuxue” that had been carved on the sword.
Xiao XingChen’s face grew even paler.
Almost stupefied, he touched the blade of Fuxue, not even noticing that his palm had been grazed. He was trembling so much that even his voice sounded as though it was scattered on the ground, “… ZiChen… Daozhang Song… Daozhang Song… Is that you…?”
Song Lan looked at him without making a sound.
Two frightening holes had already been soaked through the bandages that was wrapped around Xiao XingChen’s eyes by blood that never seemed to stop seeping. He wanted to reach out and touch the person who held the sword, but he was too afraid, reaching out, then putting his arms back again. Waves of tearing pain rippled through A-Qing’s chest. Both Wei WuXian and she had difficulties breathing. Unable to breathe, tears poured out of her eyes.
Xiao XingChen stood where he was, at a loss of what to do, “… What happened…? Say something…”
He had completely fallen apart, “Can anybody say something?!”
As he had wished, Xue Yang spoke, “Would I still need to tell you who exactly was the walking corpse that you had killed yesterday?”
Shuanghua fell onto the ground.
Xue Yang burst out in laughter.
Xiao XingChen stood blankly in front of Song Lan. Putting his hands on his head, he wailed as though he was ripping his chest apart.
Xue Yang laughed so hard that tears formed in the corners of his eyes. He scowled, “What’s wrong?! You’re so touched to see your old friend again that you’re even crying! Do you want to give him a hug?!”
A-Qing covered her mouth as firm as she could, refusing to let out any trace of her whimpered crying. Inside of the coffin home, Xue Yang paced from one side to the other as he cursed with a terrifying tone of both wrath and ecstasy, “Saving the world! What a joke. You can’t even save yourself!”
Series of sharp pains stabbed at Wei WuXian’s head. This time, the pain wasn’t from A-Qing’s soul.
Crestfallen, Xiao XingChen kneeled on the ground, beside Song Lan’s feet. He squeezed himself close, as though he had shrunk into a small, weak lump of something, almost hoping that he’d disappear from this world. His snowy white robes had already been covered in dust and blood. Xue Yang shouted at him, “You couldn’t do anything, you’ve failed miserably, you’re the only one to blame—you asked for all of this!”
At this moment, Wei WuXian saw himself in Xiao XingChen.
Him, who failed miserably as he stood drenched in blood, who couldn’t do anything except silently acknowledge the critiques and accusations, who was wholly beyond hope, who could only cry in despair!
The white bandages had been stained entirely red. Xiao XingChen’s face was covered in blood. Without eyes to cry with, he could only bleed tears. Having been deceived for years, he took his enemy as a friend, and all of his kindness was stepped over. He thought that he was exorcising ghosts, but his hands were bathed in the blood of the innocent. He even killed his closest friend!
He could only whimper in pain, “Please. Let me go.”
Xue Yang, “Didn’t you want to stab me to death with your sword just a moment ago? Why are you begging me to let you go, now?”
He clearly knew that, with Song Lan’s corpse protecting him, Xiao XingChen wouldn’t be able to pick up his sword again.
He won again. It was an overwhelming victory.
Suddenly, Xiao XingChen snatched up Shuanghua, which had been lying on the ground. Turning the body of the sword, he placed the sharp edge by his neck. The clear radiance of a silver sword glare flashed across Xue Yang’s dark, lightless eyes. Xiao XingChen loosened his hands. Crimson blood trickled down Shuanghua’s blade.
Following the limpid echo of the sword tumbling to the ground, both Xue Yang’s movement and laughter halted.
After a while of silence, he walked to Xiao XingChen’s motionless corpse. He looked down with bloodshot eyes, the twisted curvature of his lips gradually sinking. Wei WuXian didn’t know if he had accidentally saw wrong, but it seemed that the rim of Xue Yang’s eyes were brimming a reddish tint.
Immediately afterward, he glowered through clenched teeth, “You forced me to do this!”
He then laughed grimly, and spoke to himself, “A dead one is better! Only dead people listen.”
Xue Yang felt for Xiao XingChen’s breathing and squeezed his wrist, as though he thought that he wasn’t dead enough, that he wasn’t rigid enough. He stood up, went into the bedroom on the side, and carried out a basin of water. Using a clean towel, he wiped away all of the blood on Xiao XingChen’s face. He even exchanged the old bandages with new ones, carefully wrapping them around him.
He painted an array on the ground, prepared the materials needed, and properly placed Xiao XingChen inside. He only remembered to look after his own abdominal wound after he had done so many things.
Probably thinking that the two of them would be able to meet after just a short while, his mood grew better and better. He picked up all of the fruits and vegetables that had been scattered on the ground and organized them into the basket again. Out of a rare surge of diligence, he even cleaned the house and placed a new layer of straws into A-Qing’s coffin. At last, he took out the piece of candy that Xiao XingChen gave him last night.
Just as he was about to put it in his mouth, he thought for a bit. Holding the urge back, he put it back again. With one hand holding his chin out of boredom, he waited for Xiao XingChen to sit up.
But it never happened.
The sky had been darkening, and so had Xue Yang’s expression. He tapped his fingers irritatedly on the table.
When dusk fell completely, he kicked the table and cursed. Standing up, he half-kneeled in front of Xiao XingChen’s corpse, checking over the array and incantations that he had painted. After repeated examinations, he felt that there was nothing wrong. However, after frowning for a moment, he still wiped away all of them and redrew the entire thing.
This time, Xue Yang directly sat on the ground, staring patiently at Xiao XingChen. He waited for another while. A-Qing’s legs had already went through three stages of numbness. Now, they both itched and hurt, as though thousands of ants were nibbling on them. Her eyes had been swollen as well from crying. Her sight was a bit blurry.
After another two hours, Xue Yang finally discovered that the situation had gotten out of control.
He put his hand onto Xiao XingChen’s forehead, closing his eyes for detection. A moment later, his eyes flew open.
Wei WuXian knew. What he could still detect was probably just a few strands of a fragmented soul.
And, a soul that was broken in such a way that it could never be used to create a fierce corpse.
It seemed that Xue Yang had never expected something like this to happen. On his face, which constantly grinned, an emptiness appeared for the first time.
Without thinking, although it was too late, he pressed his hands against the wound on Xiao XingChen’s neck. However, all of the blood had already drained away. Xiao XingChen’s face was whiter than paper. Large areas of dark-red blood dried up on his neck. Covering the wound now would do nothing.
Xiao XingChen had died. He had died completely.
Even his soul had shattered.
The child in Xue Yang’s story who cried because he couldn’t eat pastries was too different from the present him. It was almost impossible to link the two together. Yet, in the current moment, Wei WuXian could finally catch a few traces of that ignorant, confused child on Xue Yang’s face.
In an instant, red veins climbed over Xue Yang’s eyes. He stood up suddenly. Squeezing both of his hands into fists, he rampaged around the coffin home. He kicked and thrashed, noisily destroying the house that he had just cleaned a few seconds ago.
At this point, his expression, the sounds that he made were closer to the word “insane” than all of his past attitudes added together.
After he smashed everything the house, he calmed down again. He squatted where he had been and called out in a small voice, “Xiao XingChen.”
He continued, “If you don’t get up, I’ll make your dear friend Song Lan murder people.
“I’ll kill off everyone in the entire Yi City and make them into living corpses. You’ve been living here for such a long time. Is it really okay for you not to care?
“I’ll strangle that little blind A-Qing and leave her corpse in the fields for wild dogs to gobble her up.”
A-Qing shivered soundlessly.
Having received no reply, Xue Yang suddenly shouted out of rage, “Xiao XingChen!”
He yanked at Xiao XingChen’s collars, even though it did nothing, and shook it a couple of times as he stared at the lifeless face in his hands.
Suddenly, pulling Xiao XingChen’s arm, he lifted him onto his back.
Xue Yang carried the corpse toward the door. As if he had lost his mind, he ranted in a whisper, “Spirit-trapping Pouch, Spirit-trapping Pouch. Right, a Spirit-trapping Pouch. I need a Spirit-trapping Pouch, a Spirit-trapping Pouch, a Spirit-trapping Pouch…”
Only after he was far away did A-Qing dare to move slightly.
Unable to balance herself, she tumbled to the ground, and only crawled up again after writhing for a while. She managed to walk a few more steps forward. As her muscles stretched, she walked faster and faster and faster, and started to run.
After she ran so far that Yi City was far behind her, she finally let out the cries that she buried within herself, “Daozhang! Daozhang! Aaah, Daozhang!…”
The scenario suddenly changed and turned to somewhere else.
At this point, A-Qing had probably already been on the run for a couple of days. She was walking in an unfamiliar town, holding a bamboo pole and pretending to be blind again. She asked whoever came toward her, “Excuse me, are there any big sects around here?”
“Excuse me, are there any really powerful people around the area? Powerful people who cultivate.”
Wei WuXian thought to himself, She’s searching for people who can help her seek revenge for Xiao XingChen.
Unfortunately, nobody took her questions seriously. They’d often walk away after just a few half-hearted sentences. A-Qing wasn’t discouraged, either. She tirelessly asked, even if she had been shooed away all those times. Seeing that she couldn’t get any answers here, she left and went on a smaller path.
She had been walking and asking for an entire day. Exhausted, she dragged her heavy legs toward a brook. She cupped her hands and drank a few sips of the water, soothing her dry throat. Through the water, she saw a wooden hairpin in her hair, and reached for it.
Looking at the hairpin, A-Qing puckered her lips, wanting to cry again. Her stomach growled, and she took a small, white money pouch out of her lapel. This was the one she stole from Xiao XingChen. She then dug out a small candy from within it, and licked it carefully. After the tip of her tongue tasted the sweetness, she put the candy back again.
This was the last piece of candy Xiao XingChen gave her.
A-Qing looked down and packed the pouch away again. With a glance, she suddenly found that another person’s shadow appeared within the reflection of the water.
Standing in the reflection, Xue Yang was smiling at her.
With a startled scream, A-Qing immediately scrambled away.
Ever since sometime, Xue Yang had been standing behind her. With Shuanghua in his hand, he opened his arms and made the gesture of a hug. He spoke happily, “A-Qing, why are you running away? We haven’t seen each other in such a long time. Don’t you miss me?”
A-Qing shrieked, “Help me!”
Yet, this was already an obscure mountain path. Nobody would come to help her.
Xue Yang raised a brow, “I just happened to have ran into you when you were asking around in the city after I finished my business in Yueyang. What a wonderful turn of fate. Speaking of it, your acting is superb. You even fooled me for such a long time. Well done.”
A-Qing knew that there was no chance of escaping death this time. After the shock, thinking to herself that she’d die anyway, why couldn’t die after cursing all she wanted? Becoming bolder again, she jumped up and spat, “You animal! Thankless wretch! Lower than low bastard! Your parents must’ve made love in a pigpen for a son of a bitch like you to happen! You’re just a germ who grew up eating shit!”
Having used to roam the marketplaces, she had heard more than a great deal of curses and arguments. She spat out whatever profanities that came to her mind. Xue Yang only grinned and listened, “You’re quite good at this, aren’t you? Why haven’t I heard you act so rude in front of Xiao XingChen? You got more coming?”
A-Qing continued, “Fuck you shameless filth! And you still dare to mention Daozhang and hold Daozhang’s sword! Do you deserve to hold it? You’re dirtying his belonging!”
Xue Yang held up Shuanghua with his left hand, “Oh, you mean this? It’s mine now. Did you think your daozhang is any cleaner? After this, he’ll also be my…”
A-Qing, “You piece of shit! Dream on! You don’t deserve to call Daozhang unclean. You’re just a pool of spittle! Daozhang must be the unluckiest man in the world to have met you! You’re the only one who’s dirty! It’s only a disgusting pool of spittle like you!”
Xue Yang’s expression finally darkened.
Having been on the edge for such a long time, now that the moment had finally arrived, A-Qing felt strangely relieved.
Xue Yang spoke in a cold tone, “Since you like pretending to be blind so much, why don’t you become truly blind?”
With a wave of his hand, some sort of powder came at her face and went into her eyes. Immediately, everything she could see became a bloody red, then turned into darkness.
Stung by the scorching pain on her eyes, A-Qing let out a blood-curdling screech. Xue Yang’s voice came again, “You’re too talkative. You won’t need your tongue anymore, either.”
The crisp rings of the silver bell sounded as though they were right beside Wei WuXian, yet he was still immersed in A-Qing’s emotions, unable to come back to his senses. His head spun as well.
Lan JingYi waved a hand in front of him, “There is not reaction? What if he lost his marbles?!”
Jin Ling, “I said already that Empathy is very dangerous!”
Lan JingYi, “Well it was because your head was up in the clouds and did not ring the bell in time.”
Jin Ling’s face froze, “I…”
Luckily, Wei WuXian had finally came to. He stood up against the coffin. A-Qing, having already left his body, leaned on the coffin as well. The boys swarmed around him as though they were a litter of piglets and all talk at the same time, “He’s up, he’s up!”
“Whew, he hasn’t lost his marbles.”
“Hasn’t he lost his marbles to begin with?”
“Don’t talk nonsense!”
With loud chatters surrounding his ears, Wei WuXian spoke up, “Don’t be so loud. My head feels awful.”
They quieted at once. Wei WuXian looked down, reached into the coffin, and slightly opened Xiao XingChen’s collars. As he had expected, at his neck, there was a thin yet fatal wound.
Wei WuXian sighed in silence and turned to A-Qing, “Thanks for all the trouble.”
The reason why A-Qing’s ghost was blind but she wasn’t as slow or careful as other blind people was that she only became truly blind the moment before she died. Before, she had always been such a fast, lively maiden.
In these years, she hid alone within the fog of Yi City, stealthily going against Xue Yang by scaring away the humans who had entered the city and warning them, directing them outside. Just how much courage and dedication did she have to be able to do this?
Beside the edge of the coffin, A-Qing put her palms together and saluted Wei WuXian for a couple of times. Then, using her bamboo pole as a sword, she made the “kill, kill, kill” gestures that she had always played around with.
Wei WuXian replied, “Don’t worry.” He turned to the disciples, “Stay here, all of you. The walking corpses in the city won’t be able to come here. I’ll be back soon.”
Lan JingYi couldn’t help but asked, “Just what did you see during Empathy?”
Wei WuXian, “It’s too long of a story. I’ll tell you later.”
Jin Ling, “Can’t you sum it up? Don’t leave us at a cliffhanger!”
Wei WuXian, “In summary: Xue Yang must die.”
Amid the dense fog that stretched as far as the eye could see, the knocks of A-Qing’s pole led the way for him. The two moved rapidly and immediately returned to where the fight happened.
Lan WangJi and Xue Yang had already went outside. The sword glares of Bichen and Jiangzai clashed—the fight was at a critical moment. Bichen was calm and unhurried, gaining the upper hand, while Jiangzai lashed out as though it was a rabid dog, somehow managing to keep up. However, within the dreadful white fog, Lan WangJi had difficulties with vision, yet since Xue Yang had lived so many years in the city like A-Qing, he was able to know where he was even if he closed his eyes. Thus, the fight was in a deadlock. Notes of the guqin sometimes thundered through the fog, preventing the groups of walking corpses that wanted to approach. Just as Wei WuXian was about to take out his flute, two black figures slammed in front of him as if they were two iron pagodas. Wen Ning was pressing Song Lan onto the ground. Both corpses held each other’s necks with their hands, their knuckles cracking loudly.
Wei WuXian commanded, “Hold him down!”
He bent down and quickly found the ends of the two nails that went through Song Lan’s head. He felt relieved at once. The nails were a lot thinner than the ones inside Wen Ning’s head and the material used was different as well. It shouldn’t be too difficult to bring Song Lan back to consciousness. He immediately pinched the two ends and started to slowly pull the nails out. Feeling strange objects stirring within his head, Song Lan widened his eyes and growled in a low voice. Wen Ning only prevented him from breaking loose after he exerted more strength on him. When the nails had been pulled out, at once, as though he was a puppet whose strings had been cut off, he collapsed on the ground and ceased to move.
Suddenly, a furious roar came from where the other two fought, “Give it back!”
Koi Tower: Thanks to the suggestions by various readers in the comments, Jinlin tower will be changed to Koi Tower (so that you don’t have to memorize the difference between Jin Ling, LanlingJin, and Jinlin anymore).