Chapter 8: “The Injured Soul Bird and Fu Hongye.”
The year Zhuge Qingtian died, a new county magistrate came to the Zhu family. This county magistrate was called Zhu San.
Unlike the county magistrates in the past, Zhu San was a cultivator in the Forged Body realm. He claimed his ancestors came from the Zhu family, and that he requested to take office here precisely so he could return to his homeland.
The villagers saw how this new county magistrate treated everyone in a gentle manner. Even though Zhu San was a government official, he remembered the names of every common folk in the town. In addition, every time he encountered someone, he would always greet them in an affectionate manner.
The villagers couldn’t help but believe that Zhu San was a lord who loved the common folk like his own children. Since he was also someone from their village, they quickly accepted Zhu San and gave him their full trust.
Thus, when Zhu San claimed that Zhuge Qingtian had become the God of Misfortune after death—precisely because of the things that had happened during his depressing life—and was now planning to revolt against them, the villagers who had never come across any information about Ghost Saints before immediately panicked.
In their eyes, their country magistrate was someone extremely powerful. After all, with just a single fist, Zhu San was capable of shattering the hardest stone on their entire mountain.
Even their county magistrate was unable to handle this malicious ghost. Wouldn’t it be really easy for Zhuge Qingtian to harm them?
Thus, the villagers really sent over the most shrewish young widow in the town to the ghost saint.
Under the county magistrate’s lead, the villagers became accustomed to finding faults in the daughters from other families. Whenever they sacrificed one to the ghost saint, they would accuse the girl of all sorts of sins.
Thus, every time they did this, the villagers would comfort themselves that this was just a “bad” woman. If these women could use themselves in exchange for the entire town’s peace and safety, they’ll even accumulate more blessings for themselves.
However, unlike the countryside villagers and mountain bandits, Boss Qi, who had moved here, knew that there were many immortal beings in this world. Although he also believed there was a ghost saint, he posted an announcement requesting help when he left the village to visit his family.
Coincidentally, this sole slip of information revealing the matter in the Zhu family, was seen by the Profound Sect’s disciple Fu Hongye, who had been travelling outside to gain experience.
The Elders of the Profound Sect had always told their disciples that they should never move alone when doing acts of chivalry. However, this countryside little town was extremely remote. If he had to wait for his fellow disciples to rush over, it would take at least seven days.
Thus, thinking how human life was beyond value, Fu Hongye entered the Zhu family by himself.
Following the address on the announcement, Fu Hongye found the hotel Boss Qi was living in. However, he also met the extremely emotional country magistrate, Zhu San, there as well.
Even though there was the matter of offering sacrifices to the ghost saint, the villagers never doubted Zhu San before. When Fu Hongye saw the country magistrate—who was so beloved by his people—crying as he begged him to subdue the malicious ghost and save the people from their crisis, Fu Hongye naturally set off for the burial mounds as fast as possible.
He was a disciple from the Profound Sect, so Fu Hongye didn’t really believe the God of Misfortune would appear in an insignificant and tiny place like this. However, he hadn’t expected the malicious ghost to be so powerful, to even be capable of resisting the righteous spiritual energy from disciples of the Profound Sect.
The only thing Fu Hongye could do was to return to the hotel to heal his injuries. He planned to wait for his fellow disciples to arrive before making another move.
This was the first time eighteen year-old Fu Hongye left his sect to train. He came across pitiful villagers who were suffering, a county magistrate who loved his people, and an opponent that required his full strength to be dealt with. Everything that happened was exactly the same as what he would imagine his adventures to be.
Thus, even though Fu Hongye knew the malicious ghost wasn’t ordinary, he had no thoughts of retreating. He only told the hotel boss that there was no need to send a sacrifice this time, because he would use all his strength to subdue that malicious ghost and protect the safety of the common people.
When the hotel boss heard this, he was extremely moved. He cooked up an entire table of good dishes for Fu Hongye to express his thanks. Although Fu Hongye had already begun abstaining from food, it was hard for him to decline the hotel boss’ wonderful hospitality. Thus, despite the countryside dishes being incomparable to the food from the Profound Sect, he still happily dug in.
Fu Hongye thought this was just the beginning of his chivalry, but he didn’t know this was just the start to his dead end.
No one knew that the county magistrate Zhu San had been born from a family involved with slave trade. When he was young, he would go to remote villages to kidnap women and children before selling them to other parts of the world.
Later on, Zhu San came across some demonic cultivators. He helped them find women who could become their spiritual furnaces, in exchange for cultivation manuals he could use.
After He Huan returned to the Profound Sect, the demonic cultivators lost the boss they relied on and didn’t dare to cause more trouble. As a result, Zhu San’s cultivation ended up stopping in the Forged Body realm.
Zhu San felt very unreconciled to this. After searching for a long time, he found a small demonic sect. In exchange for offering spiritual furnaces, he managed to become a disciple. Following that, Zhu San used silver to buy the position of an official before coming to the Zhu family, where there weren’t any cultivators, in search of new prey.
In the era where the righteous way was flourishing, the only reason Zhu San had survived for so long was because of his ability to understand the hearts of the common people. When he heard about what happened to Zhuge Qingtian, Zhu San immediately knew this was the perfect scapegoat that had sent itself to his door.
As the saying goes, as long as one doesn’t do bad things, they wouldn’t be afraid of ghosts knocking on their door in the middle of the night. Although the people of the Zhu family didn’t say anything on the surface, they all knew in their hearts that they didn’t treat Zhuge Qingtian well. Thus, there existed high chances of being retaliated by him.
When a person has a guilty conscience, they will become scared of ghosts. Sure enough, the villagers were all frightened by Zhu San’s claims, and began obediently sending over women as sacrifices.
How could Zhu San leave such a good place like this? As soon as Fu Hongye had arrived, he kidnapped Boss Qi’s wife and daughter. Using them to threaten Boss Qi, he ordered the man to drug the Profound Sect’s disciple.
Afterwards, Zhu San took advantage of the situation to kill the righteous disciple who was being a hindrance. He even sent Fu Hongye’s corpse to his demonic sect, leaving not a single trace in the aftermath.
After the event, Zhu San told the villagers that the righteous hero was unable to defeat the ghost saint and left. However, because of this matter, the God of Misfortune had become very angry. If someone tried revealing what was happening here again to the outside world, the ghost would kill everyone in the town first.
At that time, Zhu San used the expression he always had on his face—one that appeared as if he was doing everything for the sake of the common people—to bitterly advise everyone:
“Righteous heroes cannot stay in our Zhu family forever. The moment they leave, the people who will suffer when the God of Misfortune returns is still us—ordinary people. It’s better for everyone to just endure this. In any case, women can’t do much farm work nor can they earn money. For the families that give up their girls as sacrifices, we can each gather some silver and give the sum to them as compensation. Let’s just pretend these girls married out ah.”
In these years, the Profound Sect allowed a large number of disciples to come out and train. These young people were already worried about not solving problems that could make them famous. Thus, if there were women going missing in a big city like Gusu, there would probably be seven or eight righteous heroes appearing the very next day to save the damsel in distress. Zhu San didn’t dare to provoke those amazing people.
Luckily, this Zhu family had been isolated for many years and didn’t know the changes happening in the outside world. The world of the villagers had stopped in the past. They all thought only the geniuses from their own family were people worth trusting. After all, in their eyes, it was impossible for the famous people from big cities to sincerely want to help them.
After Zhu San persuaded them, the villagers all became afraid that the God of Misfortune would trouble them more later on. For self-preservation, the villagers told the disciples of Profound Sect who came looking for Fu Hongye that the hero had left after eliminating the malicious ghost. In this way, these villagers completely buried the truth.
Later on, Zhu San colluded with the mountain bandits to completely isolate the Zhu family from the rest of the world. He regarded this place as his base for producing his own spiritual furnaces, and like this, ten years silently passed.
This was precisely the truth for everything that happened here. In a way, Zhu San was also a powerful person, being capable of understanding everyone’s feelings to this degree.
Zhu San was clearly just a Forged Body, sectless cultivator who took up a job he wasn’t even trained for, but he effortlessly killed Fu Hongye, a cultivator from a famous sect.
Perhaps this was the reason the Profound Sect told their disciples that they should never do anything alone. The Profound Sect had been chivalrous for many years, so they had long seen through the hearts of people.
They knew that although some people may be victims righteous heroes would stake their lives to rescue, those victims might not necessarily stake their lives to save their heroes.
Many times, the common people the righteous heroes wanted to protect, would just hide behind disciples from the Profound Sect with fear. Even though the problem was something regarding their own lives and the lives of their family, they wouldn’t be willing to make any sacrifices. These victims only hoped that other people, who had nothing to do with the matter, could help them solve everything.
The moment these victims encountered anything dangerous, they would immediately cower back. In this world, the majority of people were like this.
In reality, the praise and worship of the common folk didn’t have much effect on cultivators. Thus, until now, Bi Qianren still didn’t understand why righteous cultivators would work so hard for these useless things.
After all, even if Qianren was eighteen years-old, it would be impossible for him to take a risk by himself like Fu Hongye, just to save the next mortal woman being sacrificed.
However, there was no need for Bi Qianren to understand righteous cultivators in the first place. The only thing he had to do was to complete this mission.
Lowering his eyes to look at the confession he was holding, one that had this entire matter written out in blood, Qianren casually raised his hand. Immediately, that county magistrate who had been kneeling at his feet to beg for mercy began disintegrating into pieces. The resulting, splattering blood dyed the entire wall red.
The falling head resentfully stared at the black-robed man who appeared as if he was just slapping a mosquito to death. “You lied to me……”
“That’s right, it seems like I said I wouldn’t kill you as long as you wrote this confession in blood……”
Casually sticking the bloody confession onto the wall, Bi Qianren didn’t care about that corpse’s resentful gaze at all. Instead, after lifting his foot, he squashed that head into dust.
As a strand of demonic energy began gushing out of his fingertips, Qianren instantly gobbled up the county magistrate’s soul until nothing was left. Only then did Bi Qianren smile coldly and say, “You would even believe a demonic cultivator? What a fool.”
Qianren wasn’t like Fu Hongye, who had just entered the jianghu. The moment he made a move, he would cut the weeds and eliminate the roots, so there wouldn’t be any troubles left that could come find him later on.
After confirming he had already handled everything there, Bi Qianren raised his gaze to look at the Injured Soul Bird who had perched itself on the government office’s board. “Fu Hongye, your enemy has already died. Give me that head.”
Fu Hongye’s corpse had already been offered to the demonic cultivators by Zhu San. Fortunately, he was still a cultivator in the Golden Core realm. Although he couldn’t leave his body like a Nascent Soul cultivator, Fu Hongye was still able to turn his soul into an Injured Soul Bird and fly back her. Every day, he hovered around the Zhu family, waiting for the arrival of new cultivators.
At this moment, the big bird with feathers dyed with blood-red was still holding Zhuge Qingtian’s head. Its blood-red eyes stared directly at Bi Qianren.
The bloodbath that occurred here was reflected in the bird’s gaze, a huge contrast to the four words “perspicacious and impartial in judgment” written on the board he was perched on. The image they made together looked indescribably ironic.
Puzzled by how this Injured Soul Bird was still flapping its wings at him even though its enemy was dead, Bi Qianren began walking over to it. With Qianren’s cultivation level, he immediately realized something was wrong the moment he touched the surface of the board.
Sure enough, after giving it a pat, an underground hidden chamber appeared. Numerous frightened young women were locked inside.
Only then did Bi Qianren suddenly remember how Zhuge Qingtian said he had accidentally killed many mountain bandits. After Zhu San realized it was the doings of the malicious ghost, he probably became too afraid to leave this place by himself. Thus, he locked the women he had collected over the last few months in this room.
Bi Qianren stared as the Injured Soul Bird finally put down Zhuge Qingtian’s head beside his feet in an obedient manner. He couldn’t help but ask, “You led me here just to save them?”
After a person died, the type of ghost they turned into completely depended on their resentment during death. A righteous cultivator like Fu Hongye turning into the harmless Injured Soul Bird wasn’t something unexpected.
However, Bi Qianren didn’t expect that this teenager’s obsession after death, after experiencing such exploitation and betrayal, would still be to save the women from the Zhu family.
“I just thought, something that would prevent me from resting in peace was if my vow to protect others with my life became full of hot air before I even started.”
As if he had guessed Bi Qianren’s doubts, the blood-red feathers of the big bird began gradually falling away. Accompanied by a gentle sigh, the bird became a white-robed teenager with a young and tender appearance.
This was precisely Fu Hongye, the outer-sect disciple with the best talent in the Profound Sect.
Fu Hongye’s path in the jianghu began from his fantasy of rescuing the common folk. However, it ended the very moment he took his first step onto this road.
This was something commonly seen in the jianghu. No matter how lofty your ambitions could be, or how outstanding your talent was, only a single accident was enough to terminate a life that was originally capable of splitting the heavens and wandering the four seas.
A cultivator’s most wonderful memories would be when they first entered the jianghu, but this was also the time where it was the easiest for them to die.
And Fu Hongye, was precisely someone who didn’t have good luck in this aspect.
His kindness and trust was what ended up causing his own death. But even though this was the case, Fu Hongye still wanted to use the ugly appearance of the Injured Soul Bird, to bring a perfect ending to his first act of chivalry.
At this moment, the youth who had died during his best age firmly cupped his hands in respect toward the black-clothed man. Appearing just like when he had first left his sect, Fu Hongye said, “Thank you, for replacing me and completing this affair I was unable to finish.”
In these years, Bi Qianren had killed many people, but this was the first time someone had thanked him like this.
However, he was unlike this teenager. He didn’t do any of this as an act of chivalry. He merely thought Zhu San’s behaviour was unpleasant, so he got rid of the person he felt was irksome to the eye.
However, as a demonic cultivator who was unhappy with Zhu San’s behaviour, he probably wasn’t too normal either.
Only now did Bi Qianren finally understand the real reason his Master He Huan had sent him here for. Perhaps, instead of helping the Zhu family, what He Huan really wanted was to let his disciple meet Fu Hongye.
This Master of his, ah! Even now, he was still hoping to make Bi Qianren—a demonic cultivator!—believe there was a beautiful side to this world.
Sigh, He Huan was truly a willful elder who gave people a headache.