Chapter 6: “He wasn’t the ghost saint, he was the scapegoat hero.”
Twenty-eight years ago, the only mountain road that connected the Zhu family to the outside world hadn’t yet been occupied by mountain bandits.
Thus, at the end of every month, the people in the town would leave the mountain together to sell goods and purchase daily life products.
Although the villagers were a bit poor, the houses built during the last dynasty were luckily quite sturdy. In addition, every household and family in the town knew each other. Whenever a family was lacking something, they would find their neighbours and borrow a little bit. Like this, their small town was still considered quite peaceful.
Most of the villagers who lived here had the surname Zhu. Among them, the largest and richest family was precisely the Zhu family living in the east. The grandfather of this family had once been a county magistrate elsewhere. After leaving office, he returned to his hometown with full glory.
Reportedly, the grandfather was acquainted with many influential figures. Even the current county magistrate respected him to some degree.
Unfortunately, despite being so illustrious, this Zhu family had no heirs and only had one daughter. Thus, the grandfather arranged for someone in the town with the surname Ge to marry into their family1.
That Ge family was originally a poverty-stricken household. After receiving money, they agreed to the proposal and married their second son Ge Yang into the Zhu family.
However, who would have expected that the Ge family’s eldest brother used this money to do business outside and actually began to flourish?
By coincidence, the Zhu family’s daughter gave birth to a son at this time. According to their agreement of how Ge Yang had married into the Zhu family, this baby son should inherit the surname Zhu to carry on his mother’s lifeline.
But in the end, the Ge family actually regretted this arrangement.
The Ge family’s eldest brother had a foul disease that made him infertile. Thinking that his family’s wealth now far surpassed that of the Zhu family, he wanted to bring back that baby and his younger brother back to the Ge family.
The Zhu family obviously didn’t agree, so the two families began quarrelling endlessly. They even filed a lawsuit against each other.
The county magistrate had been extremely annoyed by them. However, it wasn’t good for him to drive them away since he had already accepted silver from both families.
Thus, he simply waved his paintbrush and changed that baby’s name to Zhuge Qingtian, before letting the two families fight over him.
If things ended there, no matter which family got that child, he would have led a life filled with riches and honour. Unfortunately, neither of those two families were willing to give up.
Thus, the county magistrate grit his teeth before immediately inviting a fortune teller.
That fortune teller told everybody: this child’s nature will deplete the lives of both his parents and his brothers. In the future, whoever takes him in will suffer a reversal of fortune.
The two families thought about it. Since this child was born, the expenses of their lawsuit had indeed been quite considerable. In addition, the Zhu family’s daughter had also died during the difficult birth.
Wasn’t this baby the evil star that had caused everything?
Things were settled just like that. The Ge family took back Ge Yang who had lost his wife and left the Zhu family. The Zhu family was indeed afraid of having their lives being depleted, but they didn’t have an heir. Thus, they could only give this child to an old servant and raise him from afar.
The villagers who had been watching the drama all said, since this child had experienced such twists and turns right after his birth, he was destined to have a bad life.
In reality, anyone with the slightest connection to immortal cultivators would all know, only cultivators in the Post-Calamity realm had the ability to foresee the mysteries of fate or the truth behind one’s death.
After all, how could a countryside fortune teller be able to see someone’s destiny?
Unfortunately, this place had never birthed any cultivators, so naturally they didn’t even know what an immortal cultivators was.
Thus, Zhuge Qingtian’s entire life was decided just like that.
Just because a fortune teller claimed he was an inauspicious person, every time someone encountered misfortune, they would always blame it on him.
If a family lost something, it had to be because Zhuge Qingtian had once walked past their front doors.
If someone fell ill or was injured, they coincidentally had to have said something to Zhuge Qingtian right before their misfortune.
Undoubtedly, these offenses must all be because of that child.
At that time, Zhuge Qingtian still didn’t understand any of this. But in the eyes of the villagers, Zhu family’s grandfather was an eminent and unapproachable existence.
However, now his only grandson was an evil star.
Suddenly realizing that the seemingly illustrated Zhu family was more miserable than them for one aspect, this was naturally a fabulous discovery for the villagers.
Thus, on one hand, the villagers in the town would comfort themselves like this—who cares if the Zhu family had money? Their only grandson was an inauspicious person. Although they themselves didn’t have the riches and honour of the Zhu family, at least their household was safe and at peace.
On the other hand, they would tell that child just how pitiful the Zhu family was for having him.
After all, their perfectly fine daughter died just like that, and even their son-in-law left. What could they do in the future?
Zhuge Qingtian grew up in an environment like that until he was sixteen-years old. Ever since he was born, nothing in his life had ever gone smoothly. His family members didn’t want him and even the townsfolk discriminated against him.
He didn’t want to spend his entire life like this, so he vowed to change everything.
Thus, Zhuge Qingtian became more diligent in studying compared to anyone else. He thought, as long as he obtained scholarly honour and became a government official like his grandfather, people would begin to respect and like him.
Perhaps the people of Zhu family really had academic talent, or perhaps it was the result of his bitter hard work. Zhuge Qingtian really passed the imperial examination to become an official. When they received this information, the entire town became bustling with excitement.
However, they hadn’t even been happy for an entire day before the county magistrate sent them some news: in reality, the person who had actually passed the exam was a distant relative from the Zhuge2 family, named Zhuge Qingtian. They just misspelled the name when they were writing out the results board.
Afterwards, the grandfather from the Zhu family found out through his connections that the name written on the results board had been correct. However, at that time, the Zhuge family used a large sum of money as bribery, requesting an official title to be granted to a relative from their own family.
The examiner caught sight of Zhuge Qingtian’s name at first glance. He thought, this was merely a passing candidate ranked near the end of the list, and not the one ranked first. In addition, Zhuge Qingtian didn’t have a powerful backer or family.
Thus, the examiner did a little favour for the Zhuge family and let that distant relative of theirs take Zhuge Qingtian’s place.
As for whether or not their relative was the real Zhuge Qingtian, how could the imperial court have the free time to help a countryside scholar investigate?
“If not for your name, everything would have been fine. This is just your fate ah.”
As he watched his grandfather leave with a sigh, Zhuge Qingtian went from extreme happiness to ultimate sadness and suddenly fell down. When he woke up, he had already become slightly insane.
The moment he saw someone, he would introduce himself as Zhuge Qingtian, Zhu family’s only successful candidate in the imperial examination.
After he went insane, Zhuge Qingtian never read or studied again. Like this, he became everyone’s laughing stock for two years.
The Zhu family’s grandfather thought, no matter what, he had to leave a future for his own family. Thus, he helped his grandson arrange a marriage, choosing a foreign woman not from the town.
Since he was born, Zhuge Qingtian was shunned and ridiculed by everyone. This woman was the only person who had been gentle and kind to him.
Because of her, Zhuge Qingtian thought he needed to pull himself together. Even if he couldn’t become an official, he could still farm and raise his wife.
Unfortunately, Zhuge Qingtian’s luck wasn’t actually that good. The only reason this woman was willing to marry him was because, during her former days as a maid, she became intimate with her master and became pregnant with a child. She had no other choice but to go to a rural place to secretly give birth.
Afterwards, she found out that her former master had sent people to look for her. The woman thought her crazy fiancé was a hindrance, so she lied to him and said she was waiting for him at her parents’ home. However, when she gave him the destination to fetch the bride, she actually gave Zhuge Qingtian the route where the mountain bandits had revolted.
Sure enough, Zhuge Qingtian foolishly gave all his silver to the woman as a betrothal gift, before dying in the mountain bandits’ hands.
Seven days after Zhuge Qingtian’s death, this foreign woman suddenly died on her sedan chair. Only then did the people from the Zhu family find out that she was already pregnant. They then discovered the letters between her and her collaborators, and thus figured out the cause and effects of this entire affair.
People sighed one after another that sure enough, the crazy scholar had bad luck for his entire life, before dispersing after their idle gossip was done.
This was precisely Zhuge Qingtian’s experience while he was still alive. Although he lived for eighteen years, there was truly nothing worth him remembering.
After Zhuge Qingtian crawled out of the burial mounds, he wanted to go and see that woman one last time.
He wanted to tell her that he had already died, so he couldn’t marry her anymore. Zhuge Qingtian had been planning to tell her to not be sad, and that she should go and find someone else to marry instead.
Instead, before Zhuge Qingtian even said anything, the woman was already terrified out of her wits, immediately confessing to all of her sins on the spot. Feeling very sad, the malicious ghost ended up killing her.
From henceforth, Zhuge Qingtian was accompanied by wandering ghosts, never stepping into the Zhu family town ever again.
“When that woman died, it was precisely when the new county magistrate took office. This new county magistrate was an immortal cultivator. He said, the crazy scholar never had a happy moment during his entire life, so the resentment generated from his death wouldn’t scatter for a very long time. He ended up becoming the God of Misfortune, and wanted all the people in the Zhu family town to accompany him to purgatory. The only way to satisfy the ghost saint’s grudges was to offer young girls as sacrifice, helping him accomplish his wish of marrying a wife.”
The hotel boss’ voice was still trembling. However, Zhuge Qingtian appeared as if he couldn’t hear him at all. The ghost only squatted beside his watermelon, using his finger to poke the skin.
Zhuge Qingtian thought, sure enough, the people here hadn’t changed. Whenever something bad happened, they would still blame it on him.
Even though he had already become a corpse, he was still the source of all their misfortune.
In the Zhu family, he had always been the person everyone shunned. He had long stopped hoping for others to treat him better.
Zhuge Qingtian only thought, since he was already dead, these people ought to treat him a bit better, right?
As a result, nothing changed at all. When all was said and done, he still felt a bit forlorn.
However, he couldn’t be too sad. The moment Zhuge Qingtian loses control of his mood, he’ll end up killing people.
The sharp nails of his dead body sunk deeply into the watermelon skin. Zhuge Qingtian looked as if he was drooping his head. For once, he didn’t begin clamouring about.
He lied to his wife. In reality, he had seen a white-robed teenager before.
That boy was clearly the same age as him, but he was very powerful. In fact, the youth had easily cut off his head.
Zhuge Qingtian hadn’t understood why he would encounter something like this when he had always been hiding in the burial mounds. Thus, he became angry and injured that teenager, making that boy vomit a lot of blood.
However, he hadn’t killed him.
Zhuge Qingtian was merely insane, not stupid. His wife had obviously came here to search for that teenager.
In the past, all the bad things had always been blamed on him. Zhuge Qingtian was afraid of being regarded as a murderous killer.
If that happened, his wife would also hate him, right?
Although this man—who hadn’t even told him his name—always kicked his head at the drop of a hat, for some reason, he made Zhuge Qingtian feel happier than those villagers who had never hit him.
Zhuge Qingtian had never met someone like this before.
Thus, even though he knew a malicious ghost’s explanation was nothing in face of the accusations of an entire town, Zhuge Qingtian still tried to explain, “Wife, I’m not the God of Misfortune. I’m Zhuge Qingtian, a candidate who passed the imperial exam. I didn’t kill that teenager, don’t hate me……”
“If my guess isn’t wrong, the Injured Soul Bird ought to be at the government office.”
Unfortunately, the black-clothed man said this before walking past the ghost’s side, appearing as if he hadn’t heard anything.
The headless body squatting on the ground didn’t move. Zhuge Qingtian suddenly felt very fortunate that he didn’t have a head right now.
In this case, even if he felt very sad, no one would be able to tell. At least to others, he looked as if he was happily playing with the broken watermelon.
Sigh, if Zhuge Qingtian knew this would have happened, he would have held the watermelon in his bosom and carefully protected it. After this man left, who knows how long it would be until someone else gifted him something……
However, just when the ghost thought he was being abandoned again, the man’s always indifferent voice floated over. “What are you still squatting there for? Do you still want your head or not?”
His wife still wanted him! His wife was even prepared to help him find his head!
This one sentence made all of Zhuge Qingtian’s sadness disperse. As expected, this man wasn’t afraid of him. In his eyes, Zhuge Qingtian was the same as everyone else.
Who cares if his personality was cold and detached? At the very least, to his wife, Zhuge Qingtian wasn’t an evil spirit who brought others misfortune.
The ghost thought, he must use his actions to show his wife just how happy he was. However, he didn’t have much experience interacting with other people. He didn’t even know what he should do to let other people like him.
Happily following him, Zhuge Qingtian could only rely on what Bi Qianren had done in the past to energetically propose, “Wife, go buy another melon and give it to me. I’ll stand there without moving and let you kick it!”
Of course Bi Qianren didn’t believe that Zhuge Qingtian was the God of Misfortune. That was a rumour that could only fool countryside villagers. After all, the history of the three ghost saints from the ghost realm had long been investigated by the Profound Sect.
The real God of Misfortune had once been an influential person with staggering power in court. It was completely beneath him to want a countryside town to offer village girls as sacrifice.
Bi Qianren had already understood the cause and effects after listening to the hotel boss’ explanation. This case was nothing more than a mortal borrowing the name of the ghost saint to commit an ordinary scam.
A few people dying was nothing to a demonic cultivator. However, when he saw Zhuge Qingtian tug on his clothes and propose such a strange request, Bi Qianren suddenly thought; this person probably also strived very hard in this clumsy way when he was still alive, all in hopes that the people around him would like him one day.
In the end, Qianren didn’t shake him off. Instead, he grabbed the ghost’s elbow to pull him along before he continued walking forward.
Sighing softly, Bi Qianren said, “Let’s go, idiot. I’m not in the mood to kick you today.”
It was already late at night, precisely the best time for demonic cultivators to commit crimes. Gazing at the lonely moon that was covered with layers of black clouds, Qianren thought; after he finished this mission, he should hand Zhuge Qingtian over to a saint he trusted.
Demonic cultivators like him only knew how to kill. They never knew how to become gentle and kind like those righteous heroes.
For him, someone already used to merging with the cold night, hoping to do something benevolent—like warming a person’s heart—was completely impossible.
- This means that instead of the female taking the male’s surname, the male will take the female’s surname. Their children will also follow the female’s surname instead of the male’s surname.
- The character for the “Zhu” is different here. Our main character’s Zhu is “朱” while the distant relative’s is “诸”.