The First Arc: Bloody Rain Reaching Towards a Flower
Chapter 7: The Ghost Holds a Wedding, The Crown Prince Climbs Onto the Marriage Sedan
The whole marriage sedan was covered in crimson satin. Lovely flowers, the moon, dragons and phoenixes were sewn on with brightly coloured thread. Nan Feng and Fu Yao each stood on one side of the sedan, guarding the sedan from tilting to one side. Xie Lian sat upright in the middle of the sedan, swaying with the walking rhythm of the ones carrying it.
In reality, the eight people carrying the sedan were all outstanding military officials who were proficient in martial arts. In order to find people highly skilled in martial arts who could disguise themselves as sedan carriers, Nan Feng and Fu Yao directly went to that official’s residence and revealed their plans. They clearly explained how they wanted to go and explore Mount Yu Jun. Thus, without asking any more, that official immediately pulled out a row of tall and strong martial artists. However, the reason why Nan Feng and Fu Yao wanted strong fighters was not because they were hoping they could help them. Instead, they merely wanted them to be able to defend themselves and flee when the fierce ghost began fighting back.
Contrarily, those eight military officials didn’t really think too highly of them. Within the government, they were all first class experts. When weren’t they the leaders or the stars of the show? Despite that, the moment these two little pretty boys came, they began stepping on their heads and forced them to become sedan carriers. It could be said that they were already extremely unhappy. However, their master’s orders had to be followed, and thus they could only restrain the disdain in their hearts. But since they were unhappy, it was hard to avoid their anger from flaring up. This was why, from time to time, they would deliberately slip up and shake the sedan, making it jolt terribly. Outsiders wouldn’t be able to tell that, as long as the person sitting in the sedan chair was somewhat delicate, they would have already vomited themselves to death.
The sedan chair tilted and jolted. Sure enough, they heard the Xie Lian inside sigh softly. A few of those military officials couldn’t help but secretly feel pleased.
Outside, Fu Yao asked in a cool tone, “Young lady, what’s wrong? Marrying at such an elderly age, you’re happy to the point of tears?”
Indeed, when brides married, many of them couldn’t help but wipe their tears and cry in their marriage sedan. As for himself, when Xie Lian heard that, he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. However, when he began talking, his tone was gentle and smooth. Unexpectedly, there wasn’t even a trace of discomfort as he said, “It’s not that. I merely realized that this wedding procession is lacking a very important thing.”
Nan Feng asked, “What are we missing? We should have already prepared all the things we ought to have.”
Xie Lian responded with a smile. “Maids who are accompanying the marriage.”
The two small martial gods standing outside spontaneously glanced at each other. One couldn’t tell what kind of scene they had imagined, but they both trembled violently. Fu Yao spoke up and said, “Just pretend your family is impoverished so there isn’t enough money to buy servant girls. Thus, you decided to make do.”
Xie Lian replied, “Alright.”
The military officials heard their impromptu, slapstick live comedy and couldn’t help but smile. The dissatisfaction in their hearts had dissipated a lot, and they felt a bit more closer to the other three. This resulted in the sedan chair becoming much more stable.
Xie Lian leaned back once more. Although he was still sitting upright, he closed his eyes to rest.
Who knew, after a short while, a child’s laughter sounded near his ears.
Cackling and cruel, laughing and mirthful.
The sound of laughter was like a ripple as it spread through the mountains and fields. It sounded quite ethereal, but also very strange. However, the sedan chair hadn’t stopped and was still advancing as steadily as before. Even Nan Feng and Fu Yao didn’t say anything, as if they hadn’t noticed any abnormalities.
Xie Lian opened his eyes before speaking in a low tone, “Nan Feng, Fu Yao.”
Nan Feng was walking on the left side of the sedan. He asked, “What’s wrong?”
Xie Lian replied, “Something came.”
At this time, their ‘marriage procession’ had already entered the depths of Mount Yu Jun.
It was completely silent. Even the creaking noises made by the wooden sedan chair, the crunching noises of the dry leaves and branches under their feet, and the breathing sounds of the sedan carriers appeared too noisy in this quiet.
And the child’s laughter still hadn’t disappeared. Sometimes it sounded far away, as if they were in the depths of the mountain. Other times, it sounded very close, as if they were crawling beside the sedan.
Nan Feng’s expression became more solemn as he said, “I don’t hear anything.”
Fu Yao also coldly spoke up, “Neither do I.”
As for the other sedan carriers, it was even more unlikely for them to have heard anything.
In response, Xie Lian said, “If that’s the case, then they are deliberately only letting me hear.”
The eight military officials were originally overconfident because of their high skills in martial arts. In addition, they believed that because the ghost bridegroom randomly picked brides, they were bound to return home that night without any achievements. Thus, they hadn’t been fearful at all. Now, for some reason, they couldn’t help but think of those forty military officials in that wedding procession, the ones that had mysteriously disappeared. Suddenly, cold sweat began appearing on some of those sedan carrier’s foreheads.
Xie Lian noticed someone’s footsteps stagnating and said, “Don’t stop. Pretend nothing happened.”
Nan Feng waved his hand, motioning for those military officials to keep walking. Xie Lian spoke up again and said, “He’s singing.”
Fu Yao asked, “What is he singing?”
After carefully listening to that child’s voice, Xie Lian began repeating the words phrase by phrase. “New bride, new bride, new bride on the red marriage sedan……”
In the middle of this silent night, Xie Lian’s slightly sluggish voice came out very crisp. Clearly, he had been just saying those words. However, those eight military officials felt as if they could hear a child’s voice singing that odd song with him. It really made one’s blood run cold.
Xie Lian continued to speak, “Eyes brimming with tears, passing the mountain’s mound, under the veil do not……hold the rising smile……ghost bride……do they mean ghost bridegroom? Or something else?”
He paused for a bit before saying, “This won’t work. He keeps laughing now, so the words are unclear.”
Nan Feng frowned. “What does all of that mean?”
Xie Lian replied, “The literal meaning. He’s telling the new bride in the sedan chair that she should only cry, and that she shouldn’t smile.”
Nan Feng corrected his previous question. “I meant, what is the meaning behind this thing running over here to remind you of that?”
On the other hand, Fu Yao would eternally have an opposing idea. “It might not necessarily be just reminding us. It could be possible that it’s deliberately trying to make you do the wrong thing. Perhaps, smiling is the real way to come out unscathed. However, its goal is to trick others to cry. It’s hard to say if, in the past, the other brides fell for their plans.”
In response to that, Xie Lian said, “Fu Yao ah. If an ordinary bride heard this kind of voice in the middle of the road, I’m afraid she’ll only be scared to death. How could she smile? In addition, whether I cry or smile, what would the worst result be?”
Fu Yao responded, “You’ll get kidnapped.”
Thus, Xie Lian reminded him, “Isn’t the purpose of our trip tonight exactly that?”
Fu Yao snorted, though he didn’t continue to argue. Contrarily, Xie Lian spoke up again and said, “Also, there’s something I think I should tell you guys.”
Nan Feng asked, “What is it?”
Xie Lian responded, “Ever since I sat onto the sedan, I’ve never stopped smiling.”
He had just said this when suddenly, the marriage sedan sank heavily!
The eight military officials began to immediately riot, causing the marriage sedan to completely halt. Nan Feng shouted, “Everyone, don’t panic!”
Xie Lian raised his hand slightly before asking, “What happened?”
Fu Yao replied in a light tone. “Nothing. Nothing more than meeting some beasts.”
He had just finished answering, when Xie Lian heard a mournful wolf howl cut through the night’s silence.
A pack of wolves was blocking their path!
No matter what, Xie Lian thought this wasn’t very normal. Thus, he asked, “May I ask, do wolf packs frequently roam Mount Yu Jun?”
One of the military officials holding the carriage replied, “I’ve never heard of this happening before! How could they be on Mount Yu Jun?!”
Xie Lian raised his eyebrow before saying, “Yeah, then we’ve come to the right place.”
It was nothing more than a pack of wolves on a mountain. They weren’t something difficult for Nan Feng and Fu Yao to deal with, and they weren’t something scary for those military officials who regularly rolled around and fought against others. But just then, they had been pondering over the ghost bridegroom’s eerie song. That had been the only reason they were so caught off-guard and afraid.
From the darkness of the forest, many pairs of faintly green wolf eyes lit up as the wolves themselves began slowly walking out. Quickly, they began surrounding them.
However, when one compared a pack of beasts that happily found a meal to that thing they couldn’t hear nor touch, the weird thing was of course scarier. Thus, one by one, everybody began rolling their sleeves up for battle, preparing to show their talents and go on a killing spree.
Unfortunately, the best part of the show had yet to come. Tightly following their steps, a rustling noise appeared, followed by a strange voice that didn’t sound human nor like a beast.
A military official exclaimed in alarm. “This……what is this?! What is this thing?!”
Nan Feng also began cursing. Xie Lian knew that something had quickly changed and thus wanted to stand up. He asked, “What happened now?”
However, Nan Feng immediately yelled, “Don’t come out!”
Xie Lian raised his hand, when suddenly, the sedan chair began to shake. It seemed as if there was something leaning against the sedan door. Xie Lian hadn’t been lowering his head that much. He directed his gaze downward, before seeing the back of a head of some kind of thing from the crack between his veil.
It actually climbed into the marriage sedan!
That thing had stuck its head into the marriage sedan, but was immediately dragged out by someone outside. Nan Feng stood in front of the sedan and cursed, “F*ck, it’s a base slave!”
As soon as he heard it was a base slave, Xie Lian knew that things would now become troublesome.
According to Ling Wen Palace Hall’s judgement, a base slave was something that couldn’t even obtain the ‘Fierce’ rank.
It was said that originally, base slaves were human. However, if one looked at them now, even if they were people, one could only say they were deformed humans. It had a head and a face, but they looked vague and unclear. They had legs and arms, but they were too weak to walk on. They had a mouth and teeth, but it would take them forever to bite someone to death. However, if they let people choose, most people would rather meet the scarier ‘Fierce’ or ‘Severe’ ranked monsters than meet a base slave.
This was because, in most cases, base slaves appeared and coordinated with other ghosts and monsters. When their prey was fighting against their enemies, they would suddenly appear. Then, they would use their endlessly tangled arms and legs to stick to their prey. They also had countless companions that advanced dauntlessly, all winding around their prey like sticky candy.
Even though their combat strength was extremely low, they were very tenacious and hard to kill. Furthermore, they usually emerged in a large group. It was pretty hard to shake them off, and it was even more difficult to quickly kill them all. Gradually, one would waste too much strength fighting them, or they wo end up stumbling. As a result, there would inevitably be a short moment of carelessness, one that would let the enemy who had been waiting for an opportunity to succeed.
After the prey was killed by the other ghosts and monsters, the base slaves would collect the remains of the prey, those broken arms and legs, before eating them with relish. They would gnaw and nibble until they were full of holes.
Base slaves were truly a very disgusting existence. To a Heavenly Official from Upper Heaven, letting out divine light and pulling out their weapons were naturally enough to scare base slaves into retreating. However, to the small martial gods of Middle Heaven, these things were truly hard to deal with.
From what seemed to be a distant place, Fu Yao said in a tone full of revulsion, “I! Hate! These things the most! Did Ling Wen Palace Hall mention these things?”
Xie Lian responded, “They didn’t.”
Fu Yao immediately retorted, “What use do those guys have?!”
Ignoring him, Xie Lian asked, “How many of them came?”
This time it was Nan Feng who replied. “Around a hundred, probably a bit more! Don’t come out!”
For things like base slaves, the more there were, the stronger they became. When there were more than ten of them, it would already be extremely hard to deal with. More than a hundred of them? There would be more than enough base slaves to drag them to death. Base slaves usually liked living in places where there were a lot of people. Thus, Xie Lian would never have expected that there would be this many living on the deserted Mount Yu Jun. Xie Lian thought for a moment before slightly raising his arm, revealing a wrist that was half-bandaged.
He said, “Go ahead.”
The moment he said those words, those white bandages began automatically sliding off his arm. Like it was alive, it flew outside by passing the curtains of the sedan.
Xie Lian sat upright in the sedan before gently ordering, “Strangle them to death.”
In the midst of the night, a white viper suddenly swam out.
When that white, thin silk was bandaged around Xie Lian’s wrist, it seemed to only be a few chi in length. However, when it flew as quick as lightning into the fight, it seemed as if it was infinitely long. With a ‘crack crack’, ‘crack crack’, a succession of snapping sounds echoed in the air. In the blink of an eye, dozens of wild wolves and base slaves had their necks broken by the white silk!
The six base slaves bothering Nan Feng instantly met a violent death and fell to the ground. He thrust out his palm and sent the last wolf flying. However, though Nan Feng had escaped the danger, he didn’t relax even the slightest bit. Instead, he rushed toward the sedan and yelled in disbelief, “What is that thing?! Aren’t you without any spiritual power, and thus can’t activate magical artefacts?!”
Xie Lian responded, “There would inevitably be exceptions to everything……”
Nan Feng was furious. He slapped one side of the sedan carriage and roared, “Xie Lian! Say it clearly, what is that thing?! Is it……”
That slap of his almost made the whole sedan fall apart. Thus, Xie Lian had no other choice but to raise his hand and support the door. But for once, he was slightly startled. When Nan Feng said those words, his tone unexpectedly made him recall Feng Xin’s appearance when he got mad in the past.
Nan Feng was still waiting for an answer when suddenly, the distant screams of the military officials echoed through the air. Fu Yao coldly said, “If you want to talk, beat back this wave of enemies before doing it!”
Nan Feng had no other choice but to go back and save the show. However, Xie Lian quickly snapped out of his daze and said, “Nan Feng, Fu Yao, you guys leave first.”
Nan Feng looked back, “What?”
Xie Lian explained, “If you guys stay around the sedan chair, more things will come. You won’t be able to finish fighting. In that case, take the other people and leave. I’ll stay behind and meet that ghost bridegroom.”
Nan Feng wanted to start cursing again. “Just you……”
However, on the other side, Fu Yao coldly spoke up. “Since he can use that silk cloth, for a short while nothing will happen. If you have time to argue with him, wouldn’t it be better spent settling that group before returning to help? I’m leaving.”
Fu Yao was rather confident and at ease. He was also straightforward as well; when he said he was leaving, he immediately left, not even slowing down for a moment. Nan Feng clenched his teeth, knowing in his heart that the other small martial god wasn’t wrong. Thus, he turned to face the remained military officials and said, “Follow me!”
Sure enough, when they were farther away from the sedan, though the previous base slaves and wolves were still there, no more new ones joined the fight. The two small martial gods protected four military officials. As they fought, Fu Yao began speaking with a tone of hatred, “Ridiculous. If it were not for me……”
He stopped talking. The two of them glanced at each other, their gazes both completely strange. Fu Yao swallowed the rest of his words before turning his head. For the time being, the two of them put away this topic and didn’t mention it again. Instead, they only continued hurrying.
All around the marriage sedan, corpses covered the ground.
The silk Ruoye1 had already strangled all the leftover base slaves and wolves that had tried pouncing onto the sedan. It flew back and began automatically and gently wrapping itself on Xie Lian’s wrist once more. Xie Lian calmly and quietly sat in the marriage sedan, surrounded by the complete darkness and the rustling sounds of the trees.
Suddenly, everything became completely silent.
The sound of the wind, the sound of the rustling trees, the shouts of the monsters. In a split second, all of that became deathly silent, as if they were afraid of something.
After that, he heard two light laughs.
It sounded like a young man’s voice, but it also sounded like the voice of a teenager.
Xie Lian sat there and didn’t speak.
The silk Ruoye wrapped around his wrist, ready to act. As long as the person who came had even the smallest trace of killing intent, it would immediately and frantically strike back with ten times the power.
Unpredictably, Xie Lian didn’t meet an abrupt attack or a blast of killing intent, but something completely different.
The curtain of the marriage sedan was slightly lifted. Looking through the crack of the red veil, Xie Lian saw the person extend a hand toward him.
The fingers and joints of that hand were well-defined. Red thread was tied around the third finger. On that slender and pale-white hand, it looked as if it was a colourful and bright knot of fate.
1. [若邪] pronounced as Ruoxie, but the author has made a note that we should refer to it as Ruoye. This is the name of the silk. It means, ruo = as if, like, xie = demonic, evil. ↩