The First Arc: Bloody Rain Reaching Towards a Flower
Chapter 6: The Ghost Holds a Wedding, The Crown Prince Climbs Onto the Marriage Sedan
One of the people carrying the sedan hadn’t been careful enough and stepped right onto an arm. Thus, they took the lead and started screaming first. In response, the crowd responsible for delivering the wife immediately exploded. A passer-by from who knows where fished out a shining white broadsword before yelling, “What’s wrong?! Did it come?!” What happened next was basically the streets becoming a complete mess. When Xie Lian once again refocused his gaze onto what had fallen out of the sedan, he suddenly realized that the separated head wasn’t from an actual living person. In fact, it was the head of a wooden doll.
Fu Yao once again remarked, “Too ugly!”
Coincidentally at this moment, the tea sommelier approached them with a copper teapot. Xie Lian remembered the tea sommelier’s expression from yesterday and asked, “Mister, yesterday I saw these people making a fuss on the streets, and today they’re here again. What are they doing?”
The tea sommelier replied, “They’re trying to die.”
“Ha ha ha……”
Xie Lian wasn’t surprised at his answer and thus asked another question. “Are they trying to trick the ghost bridegroom to come out?”
The tea sommelier responded, “What else do you think they’re trying to do? A missing bride’s father offered an extremely large monetary reward for anyone who manages to catch that ghost bridegroom and help find his daughter. This is why this crowd of people would create this disturbance and foul atmosphere all day long.”
The father who had offered that reward was probably that official they had previously discussed. Xie Lian took another look at that roughly made woman’s head lying on the ground and immediately understood that these people had wanted to disguise the doll as a new bride.
Then, he heard Fu Yao speak in a repulsed manner, “If I was the ghost bridegroom and someone gifted me an ugly thing like this, I would just wipe out this town.”
Hearing that, Xie Lian reprimanded him, “Fu Yao, those words aren’t something an immortal like you should say. Furthermore, can you correct that rolling eyes habit of yours? It would be best if you could set some small goals for yourself first, like only rolling your eyes five times a day and so on.”
Nan Feng spoke up as well, “Even if you give him a goal of rolling his eyes only fifty times a day, he still wouldn’t be able to accomplish it!”
At that moment, a youngster suddenly emerged from the crowd outside. Trembling with enthusiasm, it looked as if he was one of their leaders. That youngster waved his arms before yelling in a loud voice, “Listen to me, listen to me! Continuing like this is completely useless! How many rounds did we make these past few days? And did we manage to trick the ghost bridegroom out?”
One after another, the buff men began to grumble and agree with him. Seeing that, the youngster continued talking, “In my opinion, since we started this, we must carry through no matter what happens. It would be better to just directly rush into Mount Yu Jun. Everyone can search the mountain before catching and killing that ugly creature! I’ll take the lead; any brave and proper man can follow me. After we kill that ugly creature, we can share the reward!”
In the beginning, only a few sparse men yelled in agreement. Gradually, however, the voices of agreement grew until everyone was responding in an affirmative tone. They unexpectedly sounded quite powerful. On the other hand, Xie Lian asked, “Ugly creature? Mister, what is the matter behind this ‘ugly creature’ they’re talking about?”
The tea sommelier replied, “Rumours say that the ghost bridegroom is an ugly creature that lives on Mount Yu Jun. Because he was born too ugly, no women would like him. This is why his heart gave birth to resentment, and why he would snatch other men’s brides to prevent the couples from experiencing a happy occasion.”
There were no records of this on the scroll given to him by Ling Wen’s Palace Hall. Xie Lian asked again, “Do people actually say this? Isn’t this just speculation?”
The tea sommelier responded, “Who knows? But it is said that many people have seen the ghost bridegroom before. Something about how his whole face is wrapped in bandages leaving only his fierce eyes uncovered, and that he cannot speak, but rather roars like a beast. Currently, these rumours are circulating everywhere.”
Fu Yao retorted, “Covering his face with bandages doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ugly. It can also be because he’s too beautiful, so he doesn’t want other people to see him.”
The tea sommelier was speechless for a moment before saying, “Then who knows? In any case, I haven’t seen him.”
At that moment, a young girl’s voice emerged outside on the streets. She said, “You guys……you guys, don’t listen to him. Don’t go, Mount Yu Jun is very dangerous……”
The one who had spoken was the girl hiding at the corner of the street. She was also the girl who had been praying in Feng Xin’s temple yesterday night, Little Ying.
The moment Xie Lian saw her, his face started hurting. Unconsciously, he raised his hand and rubbed his cheek.
When the youngster saw her, his face turned a bit ugly. He pushed her out of the way before saying, “Us menfolk are speaking, so what is a little girl like you butting in for?”
Little Ying cowered and shrank back a bit after being pushed. However, she seemed to summon up all her courage before softly speaking again, “Don’t listen to him. Whether it’s pretending to hold a fake wedding or searching the mountain, these tasks are all so dangerous. Aren’t you just sending yourselves off to death?”
The youngster replied, “You can only say these pleasant words. All of us are working together and staking our lives to help the people rid an evil. And you? You’re just a selfish girl, one who refused to disguise yourself as a bride and sit on the sedan chair. You can’t even muster up that courage even if it could help everybody. And now, you’re running over here to hinder us again. What do you want to do?”
That youngster pushed the girl once for every sentence he said. Seeing this, the people in the teahouse couldn’t help but frown. Xie Lian lowered his head and focused on removing the bandages on his wrist. As he did this, he heard the tea sommelier explain, “That young leader previously wanted to coax that girl into disguising herself as a bride. At that time, he said so much sweet words it was like his mouth had been rubbed with honey. But after the girl refused, he flipped his face and became like this.”
On the street, the group of buff men also shouted, “Stop standing here and blocking the road. Go to the side, go to the side!” When Little Ying saw this, her flat face became completely red as tears started swirling in her eyes. She asked, “You……why do you have to say it like that?”
That youngster spoke up again, “Everything I said was the truth, wasn’t it? I asked if you could disguise yourself as a fake bride, and you wouldn’t do it no matter what.”
Little Ying replied, “Yes, I don’t dare to. However, you didn’t have to……have to tear open my dress……”
The moment she mentioned this, it was like she had jabbed the youngster’s sore spot. He immediately jumped up and refuted, “An ugly person like you shouldn’t randomly spray blood at people and accuse them! I teared open your dress? Do you think I’m blind? Who knows, maybe you just wanted to show yourself to other people, so you ripped it yourself! Who knows, your face is this ugly, even if your dress is torn maybe nobody would even want to take a look! Don’t try to pin the blame onto my head!”
Nan Feng really couldn’t continue listening to this. With a ‘ka-cha’, the teacup in his hands cracked and broke into pieces. However, just when he was about to get up, a white shadow floated past him. And that youngster who had been holding himself up high above the girl suddenly shouted. He face-planted before falling onto his butt as blood started dripping from his fingers.
No one had enough time to figure out what had happened, for he was already sitting on the ground. Thus, people thought that Little Ying had been the one who had injured him. However, who knew that when they turned their gazes back to Little Ying, they could no longer see her. Instead, a Taoist wearing white stood in front of her.
Both of Xie Lian’s hands were tucked in his sleeves. He didn’t even turn around to look at the boy, and just watched Little Ying with a smile. Slightly bending down so he was at the same eye-level as her, Xie Lian asked, “Young lady, I wonder if I could invite you inside to drink a cup of tea with me?”
The youngster sitting on the ground just felt as though his nose and mouth were hurting terribly. Actually, his whole face was hurting so much, it felt as if it had been smacked with a steel whip. However, the Taoist in front of him very clearly didn’t have any weapons. In addition, he didn’t see when the Taoist had made his move, or how he had made his move. Thus, the youngster stumbled and managed to climb up to his feet before pointing his sword at the man, “This person used a demonic art!”
The moment the group of men behind the youngster heard the words ‘demonic art’, they all raised their swords against Xie Lian. However, they would never have expected Nan Feng, who was behind Xie Lian, to suddenly thrust out his palm. Following another ‘ka-cha’ sound, the pillar beside them completely collapsed.
When they saw that display of divine power, the complexion of all the buff men simultaneously changed. That youngster also began mentally cowering in his heart, but he was still reluctant to admit his fault. Instead, he charged toward them as he loudly yelled, “Today I’ll admit defeat here. Which Taoist path are you from? Leave your name, and in the future we can meet again to settle this account……”
Nan Feng completely didn’t bother to reply, but the Fu Yao beside him piped up, “Not a problem, not a problem. This person is from the Ju……”
Nan Feng thrust another palm at Fu Yao, and once again the two of them started fighting. On the other hand, Xie Lian originally wanted to invite the girl inside the teahouse to sit for a bit, and then help her order some fruit tea and other snacks. However, Little Ying rubbed away her own tears before leaving. Thus, Xie Lian could only sigh and watch her leaving back before walking into the teahouse himself. When he came inside, the tea sommelier reminded him, “Remember to pay for the pillar.”
Thus, when Xie Lian sat down again, he faced Nan Feng and said, “Remember to pay for the pillar.”
Nan Feng: “……”
Xie Lian continued, “Before that, however, we should manage our proper work. Could someone lend me some spiritual power? I need to enter the spirit communication array to verify some information.”
Nan Feng raised his hand. The two of them clapped their hands together, establishing what was considered to be an extremely simple contract. With this, Xie Lian was finally able to enter the spirit communication array again.
The moment he entered the array, he heard Ling Wen speak, “Your Highness finally managed to borrow some spiritual power? Is everything at the North advancing smoothly? How are the two small martial gods who willingly offered a helping hand?”
Xie Lian raised his head. He took a look at the pillar that had crumbled because of Nan Feng, before taking another look at the indifferent Fu Yao who was closing his eyes and meditating. Then, Xie Lian replied, “Each of the two small martial gods have their own merits, and they’re both capable individuals.”
A hint of a smile could be heard when Ling Wen spoke again, “Then we truly have to congratulate General Nan Yang and General Xuan Zhen. According to His Highness’ words, these two small martial gods have boundless prospects. Ascending may even be an imminent event, ah!”
However, a quick moment after Ling Wen finished speaking, Mu Qing’s cold voice floated out. “He didn’t inform me of this adventure of his and left just like that. I was truly ignorant about this.”
Hearing that, Xie Lian thought to himself, “You’re really guarding the spirit communication array all day long……”
Ignoring Mu Qing, Ling Wen continued to speak, “Your Highness, where are you right now? General Pei is the deity who watches over the North, and his incense there burns quite prosperously. If Your Highness is in need, you could temporarily stay at one of his Ming Guang temples.”
Xie Lian replied, “There’s no need to trouble him. We didn’t find a Ming Guang temple in the vicinity and thus settled at a Nan Yang temple. But I do have a quick question, Ling Wen, concerning the ghost bridegroom. Do you have more information regarding this case?”
Ling Wen responded, “We do. Just a while ago, my Palace Hall gauged the rating of the ghost bridegroom. He should be of the ‘Wrath’ rank.”
For the demons and ghosts that wreaked havoc on the mortal realm, the Ling Wen Palace Hall classified them into four ranks according to their abilities. These four ranks were the ‘Fierce’, the ‘Severe’, the ‘Wrath’, and ‘Devastation’.
Ghosts from the ‘Fierce’ rank had the capability to kill single targets. ‘Severe’ ranked monsters could wipe out a household, while ‘Wrath’ ranked ghosts could massacre a whole city. And the most terrifying of them all was the ‘Devastation’ rank. Whenever one was born, it could destroy a country and cause suffering to the people, turning the whole mortal realm into a mess.
The ghost bridegroom hiding on Mount Yu Jun was actually of the ‘Wrath’ rank, second only to the terrifying ‘Devastation’ rank. Since that was the case, anyone who managed to catch a glimpse of him shouldn’t have escaped unscathed.
Thus, when Xie Lian retreated from the spirit communication array and informed the other two martial gods of what he had learned, Nan Feng remarked, “If that’s true, then the information about the ugly creature or the man covered in bandages were just complete rumours. It’s either that, or the people who claimed to have seen those things instead saw something else, not the ghost bridegroom.”
Xie Lian mentioned his own theory, “There’s another possibility. Perhaps the ghost bridegroom wouldn’t, or couldn’t, hurt people under certain circumstances.”
On the other hand, Fu Yao didn’t add his ideas and instead criticized, “Ling Wen Palace Hall has really low efficiency! It took them this long to give us a ranking of the ghost bridegroom, what’s the use of telling us now?”
Xie Lian replied, “In the very least, we now know the strength of our enemy. However, since we’re dealing with a ‘Wrath’ rank, then the spiritual strength of this ghost bridegroom must be quite high. It would be impossible to deceive him with a fake person. If we want to trick him out, then we can’t use the diversion tactic where the people delivering the bride to the fake wedding are disguised puppets. In addition, they cannot be holding any weapons. However, the most important aspect is that the bride must be a living person.”
Fu Yao spoke up, “We can just go onto the streets to find a woman and get her to be our bait.”
However, Nan Feng immediately rejected his idea. “We can’t do that.”
Fu Yao asked, “Why? If she isn’t willing, we can give her some money and she’ll be willing.”
Hearing that, Xie Lian cut into their argument. “Fu Yao, even if there’s a woman who is willing to do that, it’s best if we don’t use that plan. This ghost bridegroom is of the ‘Wrath’ rank. If we mess up, we would be fine. However, if the bride gets taken away, a frail mortal girl wouldn’t be able to escape or resist. If that really happens, she’ll only have death waiting for her.”
Fu Yao stated, “If we can’t find a woman, then we can only find a man.”
Nan Feng questioned, “Where are we going to find a man who would be willing to disguise himself as a……”
He hadn’t even finished speaking when both his and Fu Yao’s line of sight started shifting over.
Xie Lian was still smiling gently, “???”
In the evening, at the Nan Yang temple.
Xie Lian popped out of the temple with completely dishevelled hair.
The moment the two small martial gods guarding the temple door saw him, Nan Feng immediately started yelling curses. With a “F*ck!”, he rushed out.
Xie Lian was speechless for a moment before asking, “What’s worth such a reaction?”
If you asked anyone to come and see, they would be able to tell with a glance that this was a young boy with a gentle and handsome looking face.
However, that was exactly the reason for Nan Feng’s reaction. For a proper and handsome boy to wear a woman’s wedding dress, that image was one where many people were unable to directly look at. An example would be Nan Feng. He probably just couldn’t accept it, and thus his response was that intense.
Xie Lian saw that Fu Yao was staring at him with a complicated gaze. As Fu Yao gave him a once-over, Xie Lian asked, “Do you have something to say?”
Fu Yao nodded before saying, “If I was the ghost bridegroom and someone wanted to gift this kind of woman to me……”
Xie Lian finished his sentence, “You’ll wipe out this town?”
Fu Yao coldly corrected him, “No, I’ll just kill this woman.”
Xie Lian smiled. “Then I can only say, it’s fortunate I’m not an actual girl.”
Fu Yao suggested, “I think you should try going into the spiritual communication array and see if there are any Heavenly Officials who are willing to teach you a spell that can help you transform your body. It would be more practical that way.”
There were indeed Heavenly Officials in Heaven who, because of their particular needs, were proficient in spells that transformed their bodies. However, Xie Lian was afraid that with the time left, it was already too late for him to learn a new spell. At the other end, Nan Feng returned to the temple with a green face. After he finished cursing, he had cooled down a considerable amount, a habit that was almost exactly the same as the General he served under.
Xie Lian took a look at the already late, night sky before saying, “Never mind. After you cover my head with a veil, it will all look the same.” When he was finished talking, he began to really cover himself with his veil.
However, Fu Yao raised his hand to stop him and said, “Wait a moment. You don’t know how that ghost bridegroom would harm people. If he takes off your veil and realizes he was tricked, something unexpected might occur when he rages. Wouldn’t that just create more problems?”
When Xie Lian heard his words, he thought they were quite reasonable. However, the moment he took a step forward, he heard a ripping noise.
The red wedding dress Fu Yao had found for him really did not fit Xie Lian.
The woman this dress was originally intended for had been quite petite. When Xie Lian wore it, although the waist area was unexpectedly quite fitting, raising his sleeves or lifting his feet were actions that felt extremely restrictive. In addition, the moment he made a bigger movement, the dress would get torn apart. Just as Xie Lian started looking around everywhere to try and find what had ripped, a voice floated over from the temple doors. “Excuse me, may I ask……”
The three of them turned around toward the sound. However, what they saw was a Little Ying holding some folded white clothes as she cowardly stared at them.
She explained, “I remembered that I encountered you here yesterday, so I decided to come and see if I could meet you again. I already washed these clothes. I’ll place them here. For both yesterday and today, thank you so much.”
Xie Lian was just about to give her a smile when he suddenly realized what he currently looked like. Thus, he decided to speak less so he wouldn’t scare people.
Who knew that not only Little Ying wasn’t scared of him, she even stepped forward and asked, “This is……if you like it, I can help you?”
“……” Xie Lian replied, “No, young lady, please don’t misunderstand. I don’t have this kind of hobby.”
Little Ying hurriedly explained once more, “I know, I know. What I meant was, if you don’t mind me, I can help you. You guys……you guys want to catch the ghost bridegroom, right?”
Both her tone and her head rose a bit as Little Ying continued, “I know how to alter clothes. I always carry some needle and thread on me as well. Whatever doesn’t fit, I can fix it. I also know how to do some make-up. Let me help you!”
After the time it took to burn two incense sticks, Xie Lian once again walked out of the temple while bowing his head.
This time, the bride’s veil was already covering his head. Nan Feng and Fu Yao seemed to want to take a peek, but in the end, they still decided that it was better to cherish their eyes. The sedan chair they found was at the front of the temple, and the carefully selected people who were supposed to carry the chair had long been waiting there. The moon was already high up in the night sky. Thus, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince sat onto the grand, red sedan chair, clothed in a bride’s wedding dress.