Chapter 81: Loyalty—Part Three
Translated by K of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
At once, Wei WuXian folded the two pieces of paper and put them back into his lapels, exclaiming, “Am I seeing right? I can’t believe you still have your spiritual powers! Congrats, congrats. But I’d like to ask you—if you aren’t up to no good, why did you hide the fact that you didn’t lose your spiritual powers?”
Of course, the two pieces of paper weren’t torn pages from Collection of Turmoil, but instead the strange melody that Jin GuangYao played, noted down by Lan WangJi back in the Room of Forbidden Books. At the time, Lan WangJi left one copy for Lan XiChen to compare and examine, while Wei WuXian put away the two copies of his and Lan WangJi’s, taking them with him. He happened to have been able to use it to trick Su She so that he grew suspicious and irritated. Along with him purposely mocking Su She beforehand, provoking him again and again, he became impatient as expected. In the end, without Wei WuXian having to say anything, Lan WangJi simply tossed out a surprise attack, and Su She exposed himself.
Everyone darted out of the way. In reality, it wasn’t necessary. When Lan WangJi attacked, it was the same as when Wei WuXian spoke, pressing and unsparing. Su She had to use all his abilities so as to not be defeated. He staggered all the way up to the stairs. Looking down, he happened to see the red array under his feet. Lan WangJi’s brows knit together.
Wei WuXian thought to himself, Oh no, he’s going to destroy the array that was just mended!
As he thought, Su She bit down on his tongue, held blood in his mouth, and spat it toward the ground. The splatter of the blood covered the red, darkening lines. Lan WangJi could no longer care about the fight with him. Slicing his left hand on Bichen’s glare, he tried to repaint the array. Su She used the chance to take out a talisman and throw it onto the ground. Smoke and blue flames arose.
A transportation talisman!
The mist-faced person from the YueyangChang Sect’s cemetery was familiar with the GusuLan Sect’s sword techniques, while Su MinShan was a foreign disciple of the GusuLan Sect’s, in correspondence with this condition. The mist-faced person who had appeared so many times was none else but Su She!
Wei WuXian got down beside Lan WangJi, “How is it?”
Lan WangJi painted on the ground for a while with his bleeding finger, then shook his head. The new blood had already completely covered and ruined the original array. It was impossible to mend. Wei WuXian took his hand and wiped off the dirt and blood on it with his own sleeve, “Stop trying if it’s useless.”
The array was on the verge of being completely destroyed. The disciples from the MolingSu Sect had blank looks on their faces. It seemed that Su She neither told them that he was playing the wrong melodies nor any way to prevent their spiritual powers from being drained. This meant that in the original plan, the MolingSu Sect’s disciples, like the others, were supposed to die. They were scared that other people would want to seek revenge upon them due to the hatred, and huddled into one small group. Yet, everyone was already panicked within the Demon-Slaughtering Cave. Nobody had the spare energy for any revenge.
A few sect leaders clutched onto their sons, cautioning them, “When the corpses rush inside all at once, protect yourself and try to get out. Stay alive no matter what! You understand?!”
As Jin Ling heard this, he felt himself cringe, but somewhere deep down he hoped that his uncle would say something similar as well. He waited for a while, but nothing came from Jiang Cheng, so he couldn’t help but glare at him. He glared for too long, and Jiang Cheng finally turned to him.
He seemed a bit less gloomy, but he frowned, “What’s wrong with your eyes?”
“…” Jin Ling was quite annoyed, “Nothing!”
Wei WuXian tore off a part of his sleeve that was clean and treated the wound on Lan WangJi’s hand. Suddenly, a figure dashed out from behind his back and came at him with his sword. Lan WangJi flicked the fingers of his right hand. With a jarring clash, he somehow managed to flick away the rash blade.
Wei WuXian turned to look, “Why is it you again?”
From the force of the flick, the person staggered a few steps back before he collapsed on the ground. It was Yi WeiChun. He held his sword with blood-red eyes, “Wei WuXian, those things you just said—I don’t believe a single word in them!”
Wei WuXian, “Everything was exposed. Su She had already attacked and ran away. How come you still don’t believe it?”
Yi WeiChun lunged again, “I don’t believe it! I won’t believe a single word you say!”
Hatred could blind a person’s eyes, make him unable to admit anything in favor of his enemy.
At this point, many terrified shouts came from in front of them, “It’s broken!”
“The array has broken!”
“They’re coming in!”
With bare hands, Wen Ning threw a row of tattered corpses flying away. Yet, no matter what, he was only one. Without the barrier formed by the array of blood, the Demon-Slaughtering Cave was finally unable to hold against the crashing waves of the corpses. Rancid roars immediately filled the empty cave!
Jin Ling had never seen so many fierce corpses before, much less at such a close distance. He could feel his scalp tingle, clenching the sword hilt of Suihua. Yet, suddenly, his fist was peeled open, and a cold object was stuffed inside. He looked down in surprise, “Uncle?”
Jiang Cheng propped himself up with Sandu, which had lost its spiritual energy. His figure wavered slightly, “Try losing Zidian and see what happens!”
Lan SiZhui, Lan JingYi, and a few others charged with their swords, “General Ghost! We can come help you!”
Sect Leader OuYang could neither stop his son nor stand up, bellowing, “ZiZhen, come back!”
OuYang ZiZhen brandished his sword fiercely as he turned around, “Don’t worry, Dad! I’ll protect you!”
Yet, just as he turned around, a withered hand stretched toward his throat. Sect Leader OuYang was almost scared to death as he wailed, “ZiZhen!!!”
At that precise moment, a blade severed the hand. Lan QiRen grabbed OuYang ZiZhen and threw him back into the pile of people. He himself, leading a group of sword cultivators from the GusuLan Sect, charged into battle. He’d been resting for quite a while, so his stamina had recovered. Many people were astonished by the force of his sword. Lan SiZhui was wielding his blade swiftly when he heard a loud clang from behind him. Somebody blocked an attack that came for his back.
Lan SiZhui exclaimed, “Young Master Jin, why are you here too?”
When Jin Ling saw that all of the people around his age had rushed over, he couldn’t hold himself back either. When Jiang Cheng was unaware, he stuffed Zidian’s ring back into his hand and sprinted toward the crowd, all the way up to the most dangerous area before the mouth of the cave. Jiang Cheng was about to chase after him when he managed to slice a few corpses, staggering. He felt that Sandu was no lighter than hundreds of pounds. Two female corpses threw themselves at him from both directions.
Jiang Cheng cursed. As he lifted his sword again, another pair of hands tore the two corpses into pieces, “Sect Leader…”
Jiang Cheng lost his temper as soon as he heard the voice. He kicked Wen Ning away and cursed, “Get the fuck away from me!” He immediately roared, “Jin Ling!!!”
Lan JingYi felt chills go down his spine, “I think you should go back! Your uncle is gonna eat someone.”
Jin Ling ignored Jiang Cheng’s roar, scarier than even the corpses before him, “You can go back!”
OuYang ZiZhen disappeared for a while after being caught by his father, but he rushed over nonetheless, “Wow, this is the first time I knew that Mr. Lan QiRen knows the sword and his swordsmanship is so good!”
Lan JingYi’s voice was as loud as always, “Of course, who did you think was HanGuang-Jun and ZeWu-Jun’s teacher of swordsmanship before they reached sixteen?!”
Sect Leader brandished his sword with all the courage he could muster, shouting to the rest of the people in the Cave who were still blank-faced, “What are you waiting for?! It’s death awaiting if you don’t kill them. Even these juniors are fighting—how come you’re still sitting around?”
Under the influence of these boys passionately slashing around, more and more people unsheathed their swords, joining in the fight with their almost nonexistent stamina and spiritual powers.
When Lan WangJi sliced the last corpse, that threw itself over, into two halves, mountains of corpses and rivers of blood had already formed within the Demon-Slaughtering Cave.
Everyone was clad in black, hardened blood, their chests filled with the pungent scent of blood. After the long and hard battle, many people had already collapsed on the ground, unable to get themselves up just like the corpses lying around. Only a few sect leaders and the boys full of stamina were still able to stand, leaning against their swords.
Lan JingYi’s pupils seemed dilated, his complexion pale, “I… I have never killed so many corpses before… I, alone, killed at least thirty, no, forty of them…”
OuYang ZiZhen, “Me… too…”
After this, as if the boys made an agreement beforehand, they fell toward the ground with a plop, never wanting to get up again.
Jiang Cheng forced himself to walk over to Jin Ling, grabbing him at once, “Did you get hurt?!”
Jin Ling’s breaths even smelled like rust, “I didn’t. I…”
Jiang Cheng immediately slapped him onto the ground, scolding, “You didn’t?! Then I’ll make you get hurt and teach you the lesson! You damn brat turning a deaf ear to my words?!”
However, after his slap, he couldn’t stand up any longer either. He sat down, catching his breath as his eyes turned to the two sitting at the side of the Demon-Slaughtering Cave closest to the outside.
Both Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi were a mess. Wei WuXian wore black, so he didn’t look as terrible, but Lan WangJi’s white robes had already been dyed into different shades of black and red, making them almost hideous. On his entire body, only his forehead ribbon could be considered clean, given how meaningful it was. Bichen was gripped in his hand, still steadily maintaining its flow of spiritual energy.
It was the first time that anyone had seen HanGuang-Jun with such an untidy look, but nobody could care less about someone other than themselves. One of the people spoke, “Is it… over…?”
Hearing this voice, the crowd commented in silence. That Nie HuaiSang managed to live through such a battle and speak in such an energetic tone was indeed a mystery. Nobody had the strength to respond to him. Nie HuaiSang seemed so ecstatic that he was about to cry, “Thank Heavens, these corpses are finally all killed! Seems like we managed to escape death this time—our ancestors really are protecting us, aren’t they?”
Influenced by his emotions, a few of the boys cheered as well. One after another, more and more people joined. Among the cheers, someone from the GusuLan Sect’s side exclaimed in a low voice, “Sir!”
Lan QiRen’s voice immediately sounded, “No need to help me.”
Lan WangJi looked over only to see Lan QiRen cough up another few mouthfuls of blood. He waved his hand, crossed his legs, and began to meditate.
Lan WangJi immediately went forth to feel Lan QiRen’s pause. Just as he was about to pass spiritual energy to him, Lan QiRen stopped him, “There is no need! Our spiritual powers have not recovered yet. Doing so is absolutely futile.”
Lan WangJi put his hand back. A few guest cultivators asked out of habit, “HanGuang-Jun, what should we do now?”
They only realized after they asked that the act was somewhat inappropriate. However, Lan QiRen continued to rest, showing no sign that he was going to care. Lan WangJi, “Rest for awhile and examine the casualties. No delay is permitted in assisting the wounded.”
He’d always been quite an impressive figure in the GusuLan Sect. The disciples seemed as if their hearts could finally settle down a bit, answering in unison, “Yes!” Even their tone seemed somewhat steadier.
Yet, before they had the chance to do anything, Wei WuXian interrupted, “Quiet.”
His expression was serious, and everyone was quiet at once. The few who had been cheering simmered down as well, one after another. Everyone stared at him anxiously. Within the entire Demon-Slaughtering Cave, all was silent apart from the people’s faint breaths.
In comparison to the silence, another sound could be heard with more and more clarity.
It was the sound of feet stepping on dry leaves, coming from outside of the Cave. And it wasn’t one person’s feet. Those were dense, endless footsteps.
This time, the people within the Demon-Slaughtering Cave didn’t even dare let out a single breath. Countless petrified eyes looked outside the Cave. They could see that within the dark forests, something was moving and writhing slowly. It was a dark, blurry fog, unable to distinguish, but as the sluggish footsteps became clearer, so did the moving objects, until their ashen cheeks, bony hands, and jagged fangs could be seen in full view.
It was a new wave of corpses.
And it was greater than the previous one!
The people in the Demon-Slaughtering Cave had just seen a ray of hope before the next moment, when a suffocating dread washed over the entire Cave, shadowing everyone. Even Jin Ling, Lan SiZhui, and the other boys felt as though they were drowning in the spine-chilling dread, limbs growing numb. Some of the people seemed as if they couldn’t accept the dread following the hope and passed out directly. Others also broke into tears, whimpering weakly. Nonetheless, not a single person was able to pick up their sword and continue fighting any longer.
Even if Wen Ning, yet again, blocked the mouth of the cave, how long could just one person last?
Suddenly, Wei WuXian spoke up, “HanGuang-Jun!” Lan WangJi turned around to look at him. Wei WuXian took in a breath, “I want to do something.”
The eyes of the others were led over by the conversation as well. Wei WuXian, “Will you do it with me?”
Lan WangJi gazed at him. He answered, firm and articulate, “I will.”
Wei WuXian grinned before he took off his black robe.
Under the black robe was a layer of white, already dyed half red. However, it didn’t stop him from picking up his blood-soaked palm and painting a few lines on it.
As the lines grew clearer and clearer, the disbelief in eyes of the people watching him grew heavier as well, as though they were looking at some sort of monster. Fang MengCheng stood up at once, his face full of shock, “What are you doing?”
Wei WuXian didn’t pay him any attention. He continued to paint.
When he stopped, what he wore was no longer a white robe. It was a flag.
A flag able to attract all dark creatures onto one single person—a spirit-attraction flag!
Wei WuXian stood alongside Lan WangJi as he waved at Lan SiZhui and the others. The juniors all surrounded them. Jin Ling wanted to go too, but was pressed back down by Jiang Cheng.
Wei WuXian, “Later, when the second wave of corpses breaks in, I’m going to lead them towards the blood pool, and HanGuang-Jun will be responsible for killing them. Here,” he patted his chest, “is a target. They won’t pay any attention to you all. Don’t engage in battle, just run outside as fast as you can.”
Lan SiZhui’s voice was loud for once, “How could this be?! You cannot do it!”
Sect Leader OuYang had already given up on stopping his son. OuYang ZiZhen, “Senior Wei, we want to kill corpses too! I can kill a hundred more!”
Lan JingYi even began to take off his own clothes, “I am going to draw a flag on myself too!”
Wei WuXian didn’t know whether to laugh or to frown, hurrying to stop him, “That’s enough, stop messing about. One target is enough. HanGuang-Jun is the only one needed to help me kill the corpses. The others can stop giving me more trouble.”
Inside of the Demon-Slaughtering Cave, nobody knew what to make of the situation at hand.
Nobody was oblivious to what the spirit-attracting flag did. However, even if a single person here right now was willing to use their own corporal body to attract the crowd of corpses almost breaking through the barrier in exchange for everyone else’s safety, it shouldn’t be Wei WuXian!
Lan SiZhui and the others seemed as if they wanted to say something else, but Lan WangJi stopped them, “Listen to him.”
Immediately after, he turned to Lan QiRen and bestowed upon him a heavy salute. Lan QiRen opened his eyes but said nothing.
Lan SiZhui, “Mr. Lan! HanGuang-Jun, he… he…”
Lan QiRen’s voice was calm, “It goes without saying.”
Lan SiZhui wanted to continue, “But…!!”
Wei WuXian ordered, “Wen Ning! Clear the way!”
The black lines along Wen Ning’s neck immediately extended, almost climbing over his cheeks. He stopped holding the corpses back. Letting out a long roar from his throat, he carved out a bloody path among the layers and layers of corpses.
And the second wave of corpses, having lost their obstacle, had finally stepped into the Demon-Slaughtering Cave as well.
Wei WuXian shoved Lan SiZhui hard, “Go!”
(As a special bonus from Rara, a quick fan art of Jiang Cheng she did a few weeks ago.)