The First Arc: Blood Rain Reaching Towards a Flower
Chapter 24 (I): Obscure Hua Lian1 Fall Into the Sinners’ Pit at Night
The more he acted like this, the more Xie Lian thought it was dangerous. He said, “Everyone, retreat. Don’t approach it, and don’t pay attention to what it says.”
Everyone rushed to follow his words and hurriedly dispersed. The face buried in the mud gave a forced chuckle as he said, “Sigh, don’t leave. Why are you being like this? I’m also human; I won’t harm any of you!”
Xie Lian thought to himself, “You’re overthinking it. In this condition, you do not resemble a human at all!”
Who would have thought that right at this moment, a sudden change would occur. A merchant probably thought that no matter what, they still had to bring back some medicinal herbs to save people. Thus, that merchant took a few furtive steps forward before he stooped down to pick up the Kindred Moon Herbs he had just thrown away in fright.
The eyeballs of the face buried in the mud rolled around before they fixated on the merchant. Following that, a bright light flashed through the eyes of the half-buried face.
Xie Lian mentally thought ‘what bad luck’ as he rushed over and yelled, “Don’t pick them up! Come back!”
However, it was already too late. The face buried in the mud suddenly opened its mouth, before a strip of scarlet slipped out.
It was an extremely long tongue!
Xie Lian grabbed the back of that merchant’s collar before he repeatedly withdrew. Unfortunately, the thing that flew out of the half-buried face’s mouth was incomparingly long. Accompanied by a squelch, it slipped into the merchant’s ear!
Xie Lian felt the body he was holding undergo a fit of violent trembling. That merchant released a short, blood-curdling scream as his four limbs spasmed incessantly before his knees hit the ground. Swiftly, the long tongue scooped out a huge, bloody lump from the inside of the merchant’s ear, before it withdrew back into the mouth of the half-buried face.
The half-buried face laughed while chewing. He chewed until his entire mouth was practically dripping with blood, while he laughed until his deafening voice nearly overturned the roof of the dilapidated imperial palace. In a screech, the face said, “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Deliciousdeliciousdelicious, deliciousdeliciousdelicious! Deliciousdelicious!! I’ve been starving to death, I’ve been starving to death!”
This voice already sounded both sharp and shrill, while both the face’s eyes were completely bloodshot. He truly looked extremely disgusting!
This person had been buried here for over fifty years. They had long been assimilated by this demonic kingdom, and had thoroughly become something completely inhumane.
Xie Lian let go of the merchant’s collar which he had been holding with his right hand. He was just about to chop this disgusting thing in half, when he suddenly heard the half-buried face screech again, “General! General! They’re here! They’re here!”
Following that, everyone heard a howl that was even more ferocious than a wild beast’s. A black shadow dropped down from the sky, before landing heavily in front of Xie Lian.
The moment this black shadow fell onto the ground, it almost appeared as if the ground had trembled from his landing. And by the time he had slowly stood up, everyone became shrouded within the immense shadow cast by his figure.
This ‘person’, was truly too tall.
His complexion was as dark as iron, while his facial features seemed vicious and aggressive. In fact, his face appeared similar to that of a beast’s. Armor covered his stomach and was also draped across his shoulders. As he was over nine chi2 tall, rather than say he was human, it was better to describe him as a gigantic wolf that could walk upright. And behind him, he was followed by one, two, three……more than ten ‘people’ jumped down from the roof of the imperial palace.
Each and every one of these people were tall and strong. The build of their bodies were similar, and atop their shoulders, all of them carried cudgels that were densely covered in sharp wolf teeth. It created an illusion that a pack of wolves had transformed into people. After they landed on the ground, they completely surrounded everyone in the garden and made them feel as if they were encircled by immense iron towers.
Ban Yue soldiers!
Waves of black spiritual energy emanated off of these soldiers. Without doubt, they had long been deceased.
Xie Lian’s entire body was stretched taut. If things took a turn for the worst, Ruoye would immediately be ready to move.
However, when those Ban Yue soldiers saw them, they didn’t immediately pounce on them and attack. Instead, they let out howling laughter that shook the heavens. Then, they began using a tribal language to loudly converse with each other.
That language sounded quite strange. The pronunciation seemed tricky, and there was a lot of tongue-rolling involved. It was precisely the language of Ban Yue Kingdom.
Although two hundred years had passed and Xie Lian had already forgotten almost all of his Ban Yue vocabulary, it could be considered that he had just reviewed it with San Lang at the General’s burial mound. In addition, with how these soldier’s voices were as loud as a large bell, and how their enunciation was crude while their vocabulary was simple, it wasn’t hard for Xie Lian to understand them.
He heard all the Ban Yue soldiers call the first soldier ‘General’. As they conversed with each other, Xie Lian also heard words like ‘drag them away’ and ‘don’t kill them for now’.
He breathed in deeply, before he softly said, “Everyone, don’t panic. For now, these Ban Yue soldiers won’t kill anyone. It seems like they want to bring us to another place. By all means, don’t act blindly without thinking. I can’t guarantee that I would be able to beat them, so let’s act according to the circumstances.”
Xie Lian only needed a single look at these soldiers to know they would be hard to deal with. Each of them were coarse-skinned and thick fleshed. Even if he had Ruoye on hand, Xie Lian was afraid that strangling a single one of them would take up a decent amount of time. Since a dozen had arrived simultaneously, they wouldn’t be easy to handle. In addition, several ordinary people were also present at the scene. Without a better option, the next best thing they could do would be to quietly watch for changes.
San Lang didn’t say anything, and everyone else didn’t really have an opinion. Even if they wanted to act blindly without thinking, they didn’t know how to act blindly without thinking, so they could only tearfully nod their heads. Only the half-buried face was still screaming, “General! General! Let me go! I helped you detain the enemies here, so let me go back home! I want to go back home!”
Ever since he saw this group of Ban Yue soldiers, the face became extremely excited. He kept shrieking while sobbing, and there were some clumsily pronounced Ban Yue vocabulary mixed in with his shouts. The face ought to have casually learned them during the fifty or sixty years he stayed there as fertilizer.
When the nine chi tall man who was called ‘General’ saw how there was something in the soil that kept twisting around and screaming, it seemed that he also thought the face was very disgusting. The general hammered down his cudgel embedded with wolf teeth, and the numerous sharp and pointy teeth pierced the half-buried face’s head.
The half-buried face screamed once. Since the sharp teeth were already lodged into the front of the head, when the general lifted his cudgel, he ended up completely uprooting the half-buried face. Ironically, the general took the face out of the dirt, realizing the face’s ‘let me go’ wish.
However, what was connected to the face’s neck after it broke through the ground wasn’t a person’s body at all. Instead, it was a thickly-boned skeleton!
A few of the merchants who saw this frightening scene were scared into yelling. The face that had been half-buried in the mud dropped off of the teethed cudgel and was completely covered in blood. When the face saw its own body, it seemed like he had also been frightened. He gasped and asked, “What is this? What is this?!”
Xie Lian reminded him, “This is your body.”
It was easy to comprehend after thinking about it. This person had been buried in the desert sand for fifty to sixty years. The flesh of his body had long been transformed into nutrients for those Kindred Moon Herbs. He had been entirely consumed until the only thing remaining was a mere skeleton.
The face that had been buried was still unwilling to accept the truth. He asked, “How could this be possible?? My body isn’t like this. This isn’t my body!!!”
His voice sounded incomparably mournful. The scene looked frightful yet lamentable, causing Xie Lian to shake his head. However, San Lang sneered before saying, “You can’t bear to see your own body right now? If that’s the case, what was the thing that had came out of your mouth? You think there was nothing wrong with it?”
The face that had been buried in the mud immediately retorted. “What’s wrong with it?! It’s only……It’s only a bit longer than an ordinary person’s tongue, that’s all!”
Both the corners of San Lang’s eyes and the tips of his eyebrows expressed his derision. He said, “Nn, not bad. Only a little bit longer. Ha ha.”
The face that had been buried in the mud said, “That’s right! It’s only a little bit longer! And it’s only like this because for these past several years, for the sake of surviving by eating flying and crawling insects, it slowly got longer and longer. That’s why it became like this!”
When the face had first been buried into the soil, perhaps he had still been alive. And in order to keep on living, he would desperately stick out his tongue to eat all sorts of insects. Gradually, the face stopped being a human, so that tongue grew longer and longer. And the ‘food’ he ate also changed from flying and crawling bugs to things that were even more frightful.
However, because he had always been buried in the soil, the face hadn’t been able to see the state of his body for all these years. He was simply incapable of accepting, nor was he willing to believe, that he was no longer human. The face that had been buried in the mud strived to explain, “There are also people whose tongues are relatively long!”
San Lang smiled. When Xie Lian saw this, he felt an indescribable chill. The smiling face of this youth gave people a grim feeling, as if he was on the verge of peeling off someone’s face.
San Lang asked, “Do you believe you’re still human?”
After he was asked this question, it seemed as if the face that had been buried in the mud felt a sense of danger. He suddenly became jittery and said, “Of course I’m human. I’m human!”
As the face yelled this, he expended much effort in an attempt to move the hands and feet that had already turned into white bone. It seemed like he wanted to crawl on the ground.
Perhaps it was because he had finally emerged from the dirt, but the face felt genuine happiness. Howling with laughter, he said, “I can go back, I can go back now! Ha ha ha ha ha ha……”
His laughter had been too ear-piercing, so it finally irritated that Ban Yue general. In a single stomp, the skull of the face that had been buried in the mud instantly shattered. His shrill cries of ‘I’m human’ would also never occur again.
After that ‘General’ crushed the annoying face that had been buried in the mud, he shouted something at the soldiers in a loud voice. In response, the crowd of soldiers brandished their cudgels embedded with wolf teeth and roared a few times at the group of people. Then, the soldiers began herding the people toward the exit of the imperial palace.
Xie Lian was at the very front, and as always, San Lang followed right behind him. Even though they were being forcibly escorted by a group of fiendish Ban Yue soldiers, the youth’s footsteps were as measured as always, as if he was just taking a stroll.
Ever since earlier, Xie Lian had been trying to find an opportunity to talk to him. After walking for a while, he noticed how the Ban Yue soldiers began once again chatting with one another. Since they didn’t seem to be paying too much attention to them, Xie Lian quietly said, “They call the leading Ban Yue soldier ‘General’, I wonder what kind.”
Sure enough, San Lang still answered him the moment Xie Lian asked a question. He said, “When Ban Yue Kingdom was destroyed, there was only one general. His name translated into classical Chinese is ‘Ke Mo’.”
Xie Lian repeated, “Ke Mo?”
This name was indeed quite strange. San Lang said, “That’s right. Reportedly, his body had been delicate and frail when he was young, so he was frequently bullied. As a result, he vowed to become strong. He developed his strength by grinding down a rock, and so he earned a name like this3.”
Xie Lian couldn’t resist thinking, “If that was the case, they could have also called him ‘Da Li’4…...”
San Lang spoke up again. “The legends proclaim Ke Mo as Ban Yue Kingdom’s bravest and fiercest General in all of history. With a height of nine chi and extraordinary strength, he had been the Ban Yue Grand Tutor’s faithful supporter.”
Xie Lian asked, “And he is still a supporter after his death? Is he bringing us to the Ban Yue Grand Tutor right now?”
San Lang replied, “Perhaps.”
If there were even more Ban Yue soldiers there, how would they escape? In addition, how was Nan Feng doing after he had drawn away those two? They had also gotten a hold of the Kindred Moon Herb, but how were they supposed to deliver it into the hands of the poisoned within twenty-four hours?
Xie Lian contemplated these questions as he walked. He also noticed that General Ke Mo was leading them somewhere increasingly remote. In the end, he brought them to a place that was at the very edge of Ban Yue Kingdom, and only then did General Ke Mo come to a halt.
Xie Lian stopped walking and raised his head to look up. An incomparably tall and yellow wall stood in front of him, bearing a resemblance to that of a giant person.
Their destination was unexpectedly the Sinners’ Pit.
Although he had once lived near Ban Yue Kingdom for a period of time, Xie Lian hadn’t actually entered Ban Yue City that much. Of course, he had also never approached the Sinners’ Pit. Now that he was seeing the Sinners’ Pit from up close, his heart had inexplicably sped up.
There was a staircase on the outside of the yellow wall. While they slowly climbed up the simple and crude staircase, Xie Lian glanced down. As he constantly surveyed his surroundings with his eyes, he finally understood why his heart had sped up.
He wasn’t trembling with fear because he associated this place with one that used torture. It also wasn’t because he was worried that the soldiers would push them down into the pit. Instead, his heart palpitations were purely a response to him sensing the presence of a spiritual array.
Someone had deliberately set up an extremely powerful spiritual array using the terrain and layout of the Sinners’ Pit.
And this spiritual array only had one purpose——to make the people who fall down into the pit, be eternally unable to climb back up again!
What the so-called ‘unable to climb back up again’ meant was that, even if someone threw down a rope or put up a ladder and the person at the bottom grabbed hold of this one opportunity to live to climb up, when they got halfway to the top, the array would activate and punt that person down again.
Without batting an eyelid, Xie Lian placed a hand onto the wall. He brushed his hand across a small section of the wall and roughly made out what the wall was composed of. Xie Lian discovered that although this wall seemed to be made out of earth or clay from afar, it was actually created from incomparably hard stone. In addition, there was probably some kind of a spiritual incantation used to fortify the wall, making it inevitably hard to break through.
When they got to the top of the staircase, they arrived at the roof of the Sinners’ Pit. What was located above the ledge of the yellow wall was a sight to behold at first glance. One could only use the word ‘shocking’ to describe the scene.
The entire Sinners’ Pit was precisely created by the enclosure of four tall walls. Each of those tall walls were more than thirty zhang5long and twenty zhang tall, and every wall was four chi thick. Towering above all, they looked extremely awe-inspiring.
What the four walls were encircling was a huge, four-sided room. However, there weren’t any platforms to stand on across the top of the Sinners’ Pit, or even a horizontal beam.
It was already evening, and one completely couldn’t see the bottom of the immense dark pit. From time to time, only waves of cold air and the smell of blood wafted up from the bottomless darkness.
Everyone was walking on the ledge of a tall wall, and it didn’t have any protective fences whatsoever. Since they were walking at a high altitude where the ground was at least ten zhang away, not many people dared to look down.
After walking for a while, the people at the front came across an erected tall pole. A corpse was hung on the pole, and it was precisely the dead body they had previously seen from the ground. That corpse appeared quite small, and was the body of a black-clothed young girl. Her clothes were worn out and in tatters, while her head hung low.
Xie Lian knew that the pole was specifically used to hang the sinners the soldiers wanted to humiliate. Usually, the jailors would tear away the sinner’s clothing, before hanging them up all naked. Then, they would let the convict starve to death or dehydrate to death.
After the sinner died, their corpse would sway with the wind, be exposed to both the sun and rain, and would ultimately air-dry. While their limbs and body rotted, their flesh would also fall down. The appearance of their dead body would be extremely unsightly.
Since the corpse of this young girl still hadn’t rotted, not much time should have passed since her death. Perhaps she had been a resident who lived in the vicinity. But these soldiers actually hung a little girl’s body in a place like this. They were truly extremely savage and cruel.
When A-Zhao, TianSheng, and the others saw this scene, their complexions all paled. They came to an immediate halt and didn’t dare to go forward. Fortunately, Ke Mo had also stopped walking. He turned around and faced the Sinners’ Pit, before he made a long and loud yell.
Xie Lian thought it was strange. ‘Why did he need to yell like this?’
The next moment, he received the answer to his question.
Appearing to be the response to Ke Mo’s loud shout, a snarl came from the bottom of the dark pit. It sounded like the roar of a tiger, a wolf, a monster, or even a tsunami, but the sound was multiplied by a hundred times and was deafening. Everyone on the ledge of the wall was practically jolted by this roar until they could barely remain standing. Very clearly, Xie Lian heard the slight rustling sound of the falling debris and stone that had been unlodged by vibrations of the snarl.
Only criminals were thrown into the Sinners’ Pit. Could it be? Was the thing responding to Ke Mo the souls of the deceased sinners?
At this moment, Ke Mo once again yelled into the pit. Xie Lian listened carefully. This time, Ke Mo hadn’t roared something incomprehensible, and it hadn’t been a curse either. On the contrary, it ought to have been encouragement.
In fact, Xie Lian was very certain that he heard the words——‘fellow brothers’.
After Ke Mo finished roaring, he yelled something at the soldiers detaining Xie Lian and the others. This time, Xie Lian completely understood what Ke Mo had ordered.
The General said, “Just drop two people down there.”
- Play on words with their ship name (which means flower and pity respectively). Probably referring to something poetic like ‘obscure flower pities the night’.
- 尺 (chǐ): a Chinese foot, one-third of a meter
- 刻 (kè): Carving/engraving/cutting.
磨 (mó): Grinding/polishing.
- 大力 (dàlì): Great strength.
- 丈 (zhàng): ten Chinese feet (3.3 m).