The First Arc: Bloody Rain Reaching Towards a Flower
Chapter 11 (I): The Mountain’s Locked Ancient Temple, The Forest of Hanging Corpses
The female ghost had an oval face with a pair of arched eyebrows. She really was extremely beautiful. Although her beauty may have alluded to hints of heroism before, now, it only bled unconcealed resentment, as if all her hatred had been concentrated into a confined space where no light could be shed. As she knelt on the ground, the part of her bridal dress below the knee looked threadbare and ragged. It was now obvious how the rumours had started.
The two of them stared in silence for a moment before Xie Lian finally spoke, “Xuan Ji?”
It seems it had been many years since someone had called her by this name. It took awhile for the resentment reflected in the female ghost’s face to faintly scatter; replaced by a light that flashed across her eyes
She spoke, “……He sent you to come find me, didn’t he?”
This ‘he’……Xie Lian guessed, certainly must be referring to that General Pei.
Xuan Ji then proceeded to ask, “What about him? Why didn’t he come see me himself?”
When she spoke, her face held such a fervent, hopeful and anticipatory expression that it made Xian Lian feel it be best not to reply with a “No, that isn’t the case”. Seeing Xie Lian’s silence, Xuan Ji suddenly collapsed and sat onto the floor.
She leaned against the statue of the handsome and tall Martial God, as her crimson bridal attire spread across the earth not unlike that of a massive bloodstained flower. With her hair in disarray, face contorted with pain, it was as though she was subjected to great torment. Xuan Ji asked, “……Why does he not come see me?”
This was yet another question Xie Lian could not answer, thus he could only remain solemn. Xuan Ji raised her head and gazed up at the God Statue, before she mournfully cried, “Pei Lang……oh Pei Lang. I betrayed my kingdom for you, I abandoned my everything and turned into this. Why won’t you come see me?”
With both hands, Xuan Ji yanked at her own hair and continued to question, “Pei Lang, is your heart made out of iron?”
Xie Lian silently observed her. Upon hearing these lines, he inwardly pondered: Xuan Ji said she betrayed her kingdom for General Pei……could it be that this General Pei took advantage of their intimacy to deceive secret military intelligence from her, which led to Xuan Ji’s kingdom’s defeat in war?
She also said that it was only because of General Pei that she became this way. By “became this way”, it could only be referring to her awful broken-legged miserable state. Xuan Ji was a female General, to be on the battlefield, it would not have been possible for her to be handicapped, which can only mean her legs were broken after the fact. Could this have something to do with General Pei as well? Could it be that when General Pei no longer found her useful and tossed her aside, this was the very reason that led to her resentment being so deep?
Although Xie Lian felt that having these thoughts were quite tasteless, yet with Xuan Ji’s resentment so deep to the point she would harm innocent lives……his thoughts may be vulgar, but he could only force himself to continue thinking this way for the time being.
Suddenly, a woman’s scream came from outside the temple, “Help! Help!”
Xie Lian and Xuan Ji glanced out the window at the same time. What they saw was that within the white circle Ruoye had fallen into, a person was dragging that bandaged teenager outwards. Little Ying was firmly clinging onto that person’s leg without letting go, causing that person to start raining curses.
It was in fact that youngster from before. “Scram! You moronic trash, what if your shouts attract that female ghost over?”
Little Ying continued loudly, “If I shout her over then so be it! You’re much worse than that ghost! I……I’d rather face that female ghost than you!”
As it turned out, the youngster that Xie Lian had knocked unconscious with his silk had woken up. Seeing how his surroundings were littered with fumbling deceased brides had frightened him at first, however, he quickly took notice that they were all unable to see. Emboldened and being all brawn and no brains, he had thought that while the others were too scared to move, he would drag the bandaged teenager down the mountain and claim the bounty for himself.
He cared not whether the bandaged boy was in fact the ghost bride groom. Since everyone below the mountain thought he was, then he is. Who knew Little Ying would throw herself over at him, shouting and screaming, startling all the brides roaming around as well as Xuan Ji from within Ming Guang temple.
When Xie Lian saw and realized it was the youngster again, he regretted not being more ruthless. He should have been more ruthless and knocked him out so he wouldn’t wake for another three days and three nights.
Xie Lian shouted, “Hurry up and return to the circle!”
When the youngster suddenly saw a black fog heading toward him, he frantically withdrew.
But, he was dragging a bandaged teenager and his leg was being clung onto by Little Ying. Thus, being a step too slow, he was instantly swallowed up by the black fog and brought back into Xuan Ji’s hands.
As he turned around to look, he thought: This messy long-haired, gloomy woman, wasn’t she one of the corpse brides lying among the group from before? The beautiful corpse that he had touched and groped?
As things stand, the youngster finally knew to be afraid and started screaming. Xuan Ji bent her five fingers, piercing through and instantly ripping out his skull from within his thick scalp.
The stripped skull was piping hot, its mouth still agape in a scream. “AHHHHHHH—!!!”
Within the protective white circle, the terrified bystanders who nearly had their souls frightened out of their skins also began screaming, “AHHHHH—!!!”
Little Ying was also terror stricken, screaming as she dragged that bandage teenager into the circle. Xuan Ji reached out towards them with five fingers extended again, but this time, Xie Lian darted in front of her to block before saying, “General, cease this killing.”
He called her ‘General’, this was originally intended to remind her that she was once a heroine who charged on the front-lines in the battlefield to protect and defend in the name of her kingdom. Be that as it may, Xuan Ji instantly crushed the still screaming skull in her hand to pieces; with her beautiful face in that moment seeming quite deformed. She sneered, “Is he afraid to come see me?”
Xie Lian was at a loss. He thought to himself, might as well pretend to be someone sent by General Pei first……yet Xuan Ji hadn’t needed a reply. She laughed aloud a few times before she suddenly turned around and pointed at that Godly statue, “I burn your temples and stirred up trouble in your domain! All in hopes that you’d come pay me a glance! I’ve waited for you for so many years!”
She stared at that Godly statue in a daze for a long while, before she suddenly leapt up, strangling its neck and shaking violently as she screeched, “YET YOU STILL REFUSE TO COME SEE ME, IS IT BECAUSE YOU FEEL GUILT TOWARDS ME?! LOOK AT MY LEGS!!! LOOK AT MY APPEARANCE NOW! IT WAS ALL FOR YOU, ALL FOR YOU!!! IS YOUR HEART MADE OF IRON?!” ”
As an outsider, Xie Lian did not think he had the right to comment. However, according to his own feelings, he couldn’t help but think to himself, “If you wanted to see him, couldn’t you have done it in a more normal way? If there was someone who wanted to see me using your methods, I wouldn’t want to come at all.”
On the other end, Little Ying and the bandaged teenager finally returned to the circle and looked towards his direction. Little Ying anxiously whispered, “Young lord……”
Upon hearing her, Xie Lian smiled, indicating that she need not worry. But who would have known that this smile of his would cause Xuan Ji’s face to instantly contort. Suddenly leaping down from the Godly statue, she bolted over and said, “Since you don’t look at me but instead like looking at other women who likes to smile, I will slowly let you have your fill!”
Although the one she began strangling was Xie Lian, her words were nevertheless directed at General Pei. Xie Lian originally thought it was because Xuan Ji was not able to marry the one she loved, and thus upon seeing those brides on the marriage sedans, smiling happily, her heart became filled with jealousy
But he’d never thought it would turn out to be because this General Pei liked women who like to smile. In Xuan Ji’s deranged state, she managed to distort the smiling brides to them getting married to her beloved instead.
No wonder she had burned down all the Ming Guang temples below the mountain. It must be because she could no longer bear to see all these women coming and going, in and out of General Pei’s temple all day, all the while sharing the same Godly statue as her. This female ghost was worthy of being ranked ‘Wrath’.
Despite her broken legs, her speed was still so demonically fast. Even after she had been hit by Ruoye, she still remained incredibly strong. Xie Lian and her became stuck in a deadlock as she strangled him. He was just about to call Ruoye over when he suddenly heard a loud shout, “Ahhhhhhhhhhh—”
When that young girl Little Ying saw his current predicament with the female ghost, she swiftly picked up a branch from the ground and charged over. As she was running, she began yelling loudly, as if this would give herself more courage in the process.
Xuan Ji had no need to even make a move against Little Ying. She only turned to look at her and the very next moment, Little Ying was flung back backwards before she could even come close. She flew several meters away with her head downwards, and body upwards, before she smashed into the ground.
That bandaged teenager hoarsely cried “Ahhh” as he rushed over. Xie Lian was also startled before sitting up. However, he suddenly felt a chill from behind his head.
Xuan Ji’s five fingers were already upon his head, as if she was just about to rip his skull out of his scalp like she had done with the youngster from before. In a moment of desperation, Xie Lian’s right hand grabbed her wrist before shouting, “Bind!”
Only the sound ‘shua shua’ burst into the air as a white strip of silk immediately appeared. Ruoye wound itself around Xuan Ji, binding her upper body, with her arms tied behind her back. Since Xuan Ji’s legs were already broken, she was unable to dodge in time.
She fell heavily on her knees with a thump, then proceeded to roll about on the ground in an attempt to break apart the white silk. Her actions, however, only made Ruoye wound around her even more tightly. Having barely escaped from this crisis, Xie Lian hadn’t even caught his breath before he immediately got up and ran toward where Little Ying had fallen.
With Ruoye having been called away by Xie Lian, there were still people too wary to randomly move about. But there were also a few villagers bold enough to have become used to those fumbling brides and went to encircle Xie Lian and Little Ying.
That bandaged teenager knelt by Little Ying’s side, at a loss of what to do. He was as anxious as if he was like a small bug on a hot pot. No one dared to move her, because they were all worried she may have broken something important. If they moved her now, it could perhaps make her situation worse.
Xie Lian quickly checked her condition despite knowing in his heart that no matter how careful they were around her, it would be useless. With a fall like that, it was obvious she won’t live through it.
Even though his time spent with this girl, Little Ying, was not long, not to mention, they didn’t converse that much either, but he knew that despite her appearance being ugly, her heart was kind. For her to have such an ending, it weighed heavily on one’s heart.
Over on the other side, Xuan Ji shouldn’t be able to break away from Ruoye for a little while longer. Within his heart, Xie Lian thought, “Even if it’s useless, we can’t let her die in this position.” So, he very carefully flipped her over.
Little Ying’s face was drenched in blood, causing everyone to sigh and click their tongues at the sight. Yet, she still had a breath in her left, so she quietly murmured: “……Young Lord, I turned out to be more of a hindrance than a help, didn’t I……”
Although she hadn’t hindered him, she really wasn’t of any real help either. At that moment, Xie Lian was already about to call for Ruoye, so he wouldn’t have needed any help. And as for that branch of hers, even if she somehow managed to land a hit on Xuan Ji, it wouldn’t have resulted in anything at all. What’s more, it would have been impossible for her to have approached that female ghost in the first place. So truth to be told, she had thrown away her life in vain.
Xie Lian said, “You didn’t. You helped a lot. Look, only after you came over and drew away the female ghost’s attention, did I have the time to subdue her. It was all thanks to you. However, next time, you can’t be like this. If you want to help, you have to tell me first. Otherwise, if I didn’t react in time, it may end up disastrous.”
Little Ying smiled and said with a sigh, “Young lord, you don’t need to humor me. I know that I did not help at all, nor will there be a next time.”
Her words became muffled as she coughed up more blood. Within the drops of red were a couple of teeth that had broken off. The bandaged teenager was anxious to the point of trembling and could only cry, unable to think of anything to say.
Little Ying said to him, “In the future, don’t go down the mountain to steal food again. If they find you, and beat you to death, you’ll be done for.”
Xie Lian spoke, “If he gets hungry, he can come find me for food.”
Upon hearing his words, Little Ying’s eyes immediately lit up, “……Really? Then, then thank you very much……”
As she smiled, tears slowly trickled down from her small eyes.
Softly, she said, “I feel as though my entire life, there weren’t many days where I lived happy.”
Xie Lian also didn’t know what to say, and gently patted her hand. Little Ying sighed, “Oh well, forget it. I might just be someone……born unlucky.”
Her words sounded a little laughable. Furthermore, due to her crooked nose and slanted eyes, she was so ugly that it was truly a bit comical. With blood and tears running down her cheeks, it also looked quite funny.
As tears streamed down, Little Ying continued to speak, “But still, even so, I still……I still……”
Having said that, the young girl took her last breath and passed away. That bandaged teenager saw that she had died, and so he hugged her dead body and began to quietly sob. His head burrowed into her stomach, as if because he had lost his only support, he refused to lift his head up ever again.
Xie Lian reached over and closed her eyes, before silently telling her from his heart, “You are much stronger than I.”