The First Arc: Blood Rain Reaching Towards a Flower
Chapter 11 (II): The Mountain’s Locked Ancient Temple, The Forest of Hanging Corpses
Right at this moment, the bizarre sound of a clock could be heard.
“Dong! Dong! Dong!” Three chimes echoed loudly. Xie Lian was instantly overcome with a bout of dizziness. He asked, “What is going on?”
When he surveyed his surroundings again, the brides all swayed before falling to the ground. Only their arms were still raised, pointing at the sky. The villagers also fell and did not rise again. It was as if they had all lost consciousness from the quake of the ear-splitting clock chimes.
Xie Lian also felt a bit dizzy. With one hand on his forehead, he exerted himself to stand up, only for his legs to go weak before he half knelt on the ground. Luckily, someone supported him. When he raised his head up to see who, he discovered it was Nan Feng.
As it turned out, after the seven brides entered the forest, they had dispersed in separate directions. Nan Feng basically had to scour the entire mountain to catch them all and had just returned. Seeing his calm demeanor, Xie Lian immediately asked, “What’s with the bell?”
Nan Feng said to him, “Need not worry, they are reinforcements.”
Following his line of sight, Xie Lian suddenly discovered that a row of soldiers had appeared in front of Ming Guang Temple.
This row of soldiers all wore armor, glowing in divine power as mighty aura faintly radiated from them. At the very front stood a tall and handsome young general. It was clear he wasn’t an ordinary person. That general walked over with his hands clasped behind his back. Once he was in front of Xie Lian, he bowed slightly, and said, “Your Highness the Crown Prince.”
Before Xie Lian was even able to open his mouth to inquire, Nan Feng said in a low voice, “This is General Pei.”
Xie Lian immediately glanced at Xuan Ji who was on the ground, and repeated, “General Pei?”
This General Pei wasn’t quite what he imagined, nor was he similar to the Godly statue at all. That Godly statue was flourishing with heroism, while his countenance overflowing with arrogance. It was an invasive and powerful type of handsomeness. Meanwhile, although this young general was also quite handsome, his appearance was fair, while his countenance looked peaceful like a cold jade. Void of any killing intent, and full of undisturbed calmness. You could say he was a general, yet it wouldn’t be strange if somehow claimed he was a strategizing minister instead.
General Pei saw Xuan Ji on the ground and spoke, “Ling Wen Palace Hall notified us that the situation of Mount Yu Jun has rather a lot to do with us Ming Guang Palace, so this subordinate hurried over. I did not expect that it really does have a rather deep relationship with us. For your trouble, you have my gratitude, Your Highness the Crown Prince.”
Xie Lian thanked Ling Wen in his heart. In what way had Ling Wen Palace’s efficiency decreased?? “I thank you for your troubles as well, General Pei.”
But when Xuan Ji, in her struggles, vaguely heard the words “General Pei”, she suddenly raised her head and fervently shouted, “Pei Lang, Pei Lang! Is it you, have you come? Have you finally come?”
Having been tied up by Ruoye, no matter how wild she was with joy, she could only kneel up. Yet who would have expected her to take in the sight of the General, only to go pale in the face. “Who are you?!”
On Xie Lian’s side, he was giving Nan Feng a summary of what the situation was with the ghost bridegroom. When he heard her question, he asked, “Isn’t this General Pei? Has she waited so long that she can’t recognize him anymore?”
Nan Feng answered, “He is General Pei. But not the one she has been waiting for.”
Xie Lian found it strange. “Don’t tell me there are two General Peis?”
But Nan Feng answered, “That’s right, there indeed are two!”
As it turned out, the General Pei this female ghost Xuan Ji was waiting for was Ming Guang Temple’s main god, while the one in front of them was the deputy god. He was also someone from General Pei’s family’s successor. To differentiate them when they were called, everyone called this one “Little General Pei”. In a proper Ming Guang Temple, it was necessary to honour them with both positive and reversed moon blocks1.
General Pei was the main god of the temple, so his god statues faced the temple doors. Little General Pei’s god statues were positioned behind his. However, although one was from a previous generation and the other from a later generation, they looked as if they were brothers. But for two people from the same family ascending, it could be regarded as a very odd story that captured one’s imagination.
Xuan Ji looked around but still did not find the person she wanted to see among the soldiers. She bleakly asked, “Where is Pei Ming? Why did he not come? Why did he not come see me?”
Little General Pei nodded his head slightly, answering, “General Pei is occupied with an important matter.”
Xuan Ji mumbled, “Important matter?”
Under her long hair, her tears started to fall as she said, “I’ve waited for him for centuries, what important matter does he have? Back then, in order to see me, he would cross half of the border in a single night, so what important matter could he have now? So important that he wouldn’t even be willing to see me once? An important matter? He doesn’t actually have one, right?”
Little General Pei said, “General Xuan Ji, please be on your way2.”
Two soldiers of Ming Guang Temple broke formation and walked over. Ruoye swiftly leapt from Xuan Ji and wound around Xie Lian’s wrist affectionately. Xie Lian softly patted it twice to comfort it.
Xuan Ji allowed those two soldiers to grab her as she knelt there in a daze. Then, abruptly, she started to struggle, pointing towards the sky as she cursed, “Pei Ming! I curse you!”
Her cry was very sharp. Xie Lian stared blankly before he thought to himself, “Isn’t this cursing the predecessor while in front of their successor?”
But that Little General Pei kept a straight face and said, “Please excuse this scene.”
Xuan Ji continued to shout herself hoarse, “I curse you, you better never fall in love with anyone. Otherwise, if such a day comes, I curse you to be like me, forevermore and for all eternity, to be endlessly scorched by love! Let the fire sear through your entire body and very being!”
At this time, Little General Pei said to Xie Lian and the others, “Please excuse my rudeness and wait a moment.” He lifted two fingers and lightly pressed them to his temple. This gesture was what activated the spirit communication array, so he must be communicating with someone. After a moment, he let out a “hmmm”, lowered his hand and returned them clasped behind his back. He turned toward Xuan Ji and said, “General Pei would like me to pass on a message—’That is impossible.’”
Xuan Ji screeched, “I curse you—!!!”
Little Pei General slightly raised his hand, and ordered, “Take her away.”
Two soldiers picked up the crazily struggling Xuan Ji and dragged her away. Xie Lian asked, “Little General Pei, may I ask, how will Xuan Ji be dealt with?”
Little Pei General answered, “She will be restrained beneath a mountain.”
Finding a mountain to restrain her, this was indeed the method often used by the heavens to deal with demons and ghosts. After muttering to himself for a while, Xie Lian still said, “This General Xuan Ji’s resentment is rather heavy. Since she’s constantly thinking about the hatred from committing treason against her kingdom and how her legs were broken because of General Pei, I’m afraid that suppressing her won’t last long.
Little General Pei titled his head, and said, “She said she committed treason and broke her legs due to General Pei?”
Xie Lian answered, “She indeed said before, that it was because of General Pei that she ended up in her current state. As for what the truth is, I do not know.”
Little General Pei spoke, “If it is to be said that way, then sure. It is true she committed treason for General Pei. But the details may differ to what other people may think. After herself and General Pei had parted ways, in order to urge him to stay, General Xuan Ji did not hesitate to offer up military intelligence. However, General Pei was unwilling to accept this unfair advantage and did not take her offer.”
……Xie Lian would have never thought that her, ‘I betrayed my country for you’, was actually like this. He asked, “Then when she said her legs were broken because of General Pei..….?”
Little General Pei answered, “She broke her own legs herself.”
……She broke them herself?
Little General Pei answered, flat and unwavering, “General Pei does not like strong-minded women, and Xuan Ji’s natural disposition is strong-willed. This is why they could not stay together for long. General Xuan Ji was unwilling to let go, so she said to General Pei that she was willing make sacrifices and change herself. Thus, she voluntarily abolished her martial arts and broke her own two legs. In this way, she did the equivalent of breaking both her wings and tying herself to General Pei. Despite all this, General Pei didn’t abandon her. He took her in and looked after her, yet, he still wouldn’t take her as his wife. Because General Xuan Ji’s long-cherished wish could not be fulfilled, she killed herself in hate. Not for any other reason, but only to make General Pei feel sad and aggrieved. But, forgive me for speaking so bluntly—”
Little General Pei’s speech had been rather refined and courteous from beginning to end. With an overly calm expression he said, “But that will not happen.”
Xie Lian rubbed his forehead. He didn’t speak out loud, but he thought to himself, “Just what kind of people are they?”
Little General Pei spoke again, “For who was in the right or wrong, I do not know. I only know that if General Xuan Ji had originally been willing to let go, it wouldn’t have ended this way. Your Highness Crown Prince, this subordinate shall take my leave.”
Xie Lian returned the fist and palm salute and saw them off. Nan Feng gave his personal evaluation, “Weirdos.”
Xie Lian thought to himself, he himself was also a laughingstock in the three realms, a famous weirdo; it was not his place to critique other people. As for the matter between General Pei and Xuan Ji, unless one was directly involved, it was better not to comment on who was right or wrong. He could only pity those seventeen innocent brides, the military officials and drivers who had escorted them. It truly was an unexpected disaster.
Speaking of the brides, he immediately turned around to take a look, only to see that the dead bodies of the seventeen brides were all showing different stages of change. While some turned into white bones, others started to rot and emit a strong foul stench. The odor woke everyone on the ground. When the villagers slowly came to their senses and took in the situation, it was another round of great alarm and shock.
Xie Lian took this chance to ramble at them and scatter some doctrine about good and bad karma retribution. He told everyone that once they went down the mountain, they must pray a lot for the brides. In addition, they should try to think of ways to notify the brides’ family so that their corpses could be claimed. They definitely should not do anything shady like selling the corpses or any other shameful deeds.
After experiencing such a core-shaking night, and without a leader stirring up trouble, how could anyone listening dare to say otherwise? One after another, they all agreed while trembling with fear. They all felt as if they had all undergone a nightmare. Only then did they realize how they had all acted as if they were possessed last night. With so many dead, how could they still only have thoughts full of earning money?
Thinking back, they all felt terrified of themselves. Last night, since everyone did it, they relied on the fact that they were big in numbers and that there had been someone taking the lead. Thus, their muddle-headed selves rushed along with the flow. Now, still with lingering fear in their hearts, it was best to obediently repent and pray for blessings.
Dawn has yet to rise. Within the mountain, there were still wolf packs waiting to cause trouble. Nan Feng had only just run a lap around the mountain, but he was already tasked to lead a large group of people off the mountain. In spite of that, he made no complaints, and agreed with Xie Lian to discuss that forest of hanging corpses and its follow-up arrangements together later.
After that bandaged teenager woke up, he sat once more by Little Ying’s corpse, hugging her. Without saying anything, Xie Lian also went to sit next to him. After racking his brain for a while and just as he about to say something comforting, he suddenly noticed that the bandaged teenager’s head was bleeding.
If it was the blood from the corpse forest, it should have dried already. But this blood was still flowing without pause, so it could only be that he was injured. Immediately, Xie Lian said to him, “Your head is injured, take off your bandages and let me help you take a look.”
That teenager slowly raised his head, his two bloodshot eyes looking at him as he hesitated timidly. Xie Lian gave a small smile, and told him, “Don’t be afraid. If you are injured, it must be treated. I promise I won’t be frightened by you.”
That teenager hesitated for a moment, then turned around and slowly unwrapped the bandages on his head. His movements were very slow, and Xie Lian waited patiently for him. He was already thinking over what he should ask next. ‘This teenager definitely could not stay at Mount Yu Jun, but where could he go? It was not like he could return to Heaven with me. Not even I know when my next meal will appear, so I need to think of a dependable arrangement to settle him down somewhere. Furthermore, there’s Green Ghost, Qi Rong……’
At this point, that teenager had finished taking off his bandages and turned around.
And when Xie Lian clearly took in that face, he felt as if in that split second, all the blood in his body drained away.
- Something commonly used in temples and shrines, especially when a person wants a reply from the deity they’re worshiping. For more info, check this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiaobei&sa=D&ust=1539831900955000&usg=AFQjCNGz-YgGIxFSj3qdVsVWBHv9QTAKog
- Here, this is more figurative than literal. What he’s saying is basically telling Xuan Ji to cease her struggles and cooperate with her arrest.