Editor(s): juurensha, namio
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The horse-cart wobbled as it continued forward. Chen Xing glanced at Xiang Shu as Xiao Shan yawned in the background, evidently not fully awake yet. He curled up in the carriage and went back to sleep. Chen Xing knew that Xiang Shu was still thinking about what happened last night, and just as he was opening his mouth to spout a few consoling platitudes, Xiang Shu said, “Did the Heart Lamp find me only because I was also born from an exorcist family?”
Chen Xing sank into a contemplative silence for a few seconds before responding, “I don’t know, Protector, but I have come to realize in my ponderings that many things are fated to be. Your… great-grandmother also said that the Heart Lamp and the Acala Blade must coexist, so maybe that is why we met?”
Xiang Shu said, “The first time I saw that blade, I felt like it was a little familiar, as if it was calling to me.”
Chen Xing cheerfully smiled, saying, “Then I guess I can confirm, you really want to be my Protector now.”
Xiang Shu lightly furrowed his brows. “What I did on this trip hasn’t been enough?”
Chen Xing hurriedly replied, “Thank you, I didn’t have any other motives when I said that, but the whereabouts of the Dinghai Pearl, we still need to…”
The two of them stopped speaking for a bit. Chen Xing suddenly realized that since the time he had been kidnapped by Sima Wei at the foot of the mountain, Xiang Shu had become extremely careful with him, only rarely leaving his gaze.
“Kjera is going to the north,” Xiang Shu suddenly said. “What do you think he’s looking for?”
This question of Xiang Shu’s opened up a new train of thought in Chen Xing’s mind.
“Is he searching for your mother?” Chen Xing asked. “What befell Zhang Liu is unclear, but your mother ended up 300 years in the future, and Kjera had traveled to the North multiple times… Could he be constantly tracing your mother’s whereabouts?”
From this perspective, Shi Hai and company could also be looking for the Dinghai Pearl. Did they know what Zhang Liu wanted to do? 300 hundred years ago, had both sides briefly met and had a confrontation?
“The Yin Yang Mirror was originally in Zhang Liu’s hands,” Xiang Shu said, “but our first time seeing it was in…”
“In Feng Qianyi’s hands!” Chen Xing realized. “Yes, Shi Hai and them must have found Zhang Liu! They thwarted his plans!”
The carriage with its four passengers arrived at its destination, the Xifeng Bank. All of them took the chance to change into a fresh set of clothing, all except for Xiao Shan, who kept sleeping on without a care in the world. Chen Xing waited until they had sat down to drink tea before beginning to organize his thoughts from last night.
“First, Zhang Liu took the Dinghai Pearl and left Kuaiji,” Chen Xing said. “They must have fought with Shi Hai and lost, or the Yin Yang Mirror wouldn’t have ended up in Shi Hai’s hands.”
“Wu,” Feng Qianjun said. “The goal of these fellows is to revive Chiyou, so this series of events makes a lot of sense.”
Xiang Shu pondered without speaking, and then said, “Perhaps it was exactly because of this encounter that my mother was sent to 300 years in the future.”
With this, everything fell neatly into place. Chen Xing asked, “But where is the Dinghai Pearl now?”
“I think it’s not in Shi Hai’s hands,” Feng Qianjun said. “That kind of powerful artifact, if he had it, he would have annihilated everything by now.”
Xiang Shu said, “It’s not in my mother’s hands, since she hadn’t brought it with her. I’m very certain of this point.”
Chen Xing furrowed his brow without speaking, before saying, “Could it be that Zhang Liu is dead, but before he died he managed to hide the Dinghai Pearl in some location to prevent it from falling into Shi Hai’s hands?”
Xiang Shu said, “Do you still remember those three maps?”
Chen Xing pulled out the aforementioned maps. The first one was of Carosha, which could already be eliminated from the list.
“Oh?” Feng Qianjun said. “Isn’t this the map of the Qixing Tan from Mt. Nanping?"
Xiang Shu: “…”
Chen Xing: “...........”
“Why didn’t you say so earlier?!” Chen Xing in this moment really wanted to smack Feng Qianjun to death.
“You guys didn’t ask me!” Feng Qianjun said.
“Shh!” Xiao Shan had still been sleeping when he was rudely awakened, so he flipped over, furiously shushing them.
Xiang Shu said, “That day, at the Exorcism Department, you didn’t see it?”
Feng Qianjun: “At that time I didn’t think of this at all!”
Xiao Shan: “Shh! Shh!”
Chen Xing finally complied, lowering his voice before saying, “Wait, let’s first think this through, what each of these three maps means. Carosha is where the Dinghai Pearl is found, Mount Nanping… should be a good place to cast spells.”
“Correct.” Feng Qianjun thought about it for a moment, saying, “It’s said that Mount Nanping is a blessed spot, and it was originally the spot where Kongming cast magic to borrow the east wind.”
“He was also an exorcist?” Xiang Shu didn’t understand much about the Han people, but the renowned Zhuge Liang was someone even he knew about.
“Maybe?” Chen Xing waved his hand, saying, “That isn’t important. According to this train of reasoning, the second location, it could be the third spot of interest. Check again? Is it in Jiangnan?”
“That is something we can’t determine right now.” Feng Qianjun said.
Xiang Shu said, “You’d better not wait for another year and a half before telling me you suddenly remembered.”
Feng Qianjun agonized, “Now that you all have said it, even if I remembered I wouldn’t dare to say it, alright!”
Chen Xing recalled the memories that Xiang Yuyan had left behind, specifically the phrase “find a blessed spot to take in the heaven and earth energy” that Zhang Liu had uttered. Mount Nanping, then, could have been a spot where he used the Dinghai Pearl to take in all the energy in that place. The third place then, maybe it was where an array was placed, activating the Dinghai Pearl and sending them back to the coordinates of the array from 3000 years ago.
Mount Nanping was thankfully somewhere they could skip going to, since the most important thing was still figuring out the last location. But if there were traces of Zhang Liu’s and Xiang Yuyan’s movements in Mount Nanping, it wouldn’t hurt to go take a look. However, at the moment it would be difficult to leave unauthorized, so they had to first solve the issue of the plague.
When Xiang Yuyan left, she brought with her the Luohun Bell. Judging by the whereabouts of the Yin Yang Mirror, they could basically confirm that the Luohun Bell must also be in Shi Hai’s hands. This artifact, which could easily call away hunpo with a single shake, was very powerful, but Chen Xing was not even the least bit afraid. If Xiang Shu was correct, then that day Shi Hai had already tried to use the Luohun Bell on him and Xiang Shu, but the results were that Chen Xing was perfectly fine, and Xiang Shu, despite having some strange side-effects, still had his three hun perfectly intact, and all he lost was some strength.
Perhaps the reason was that the Heart Lamp protected the three hun?
At this point another person arrived to visit. It was a patient that one of the Xifeng underlings had brought, the merchant that Chen Xing had been investigating - the one who, after returning from Mai City, was the first to experience the symptom of “losing his hun and po”. Chen Xing closely observed his state, only to see that he looked extremely exhausted, but still kept his spirits up; as soon as he heard there was a miracle doctor here, he figured it wouldn’t hurt to try, and arrived at the Xifeng Bank.
Chen Xing didn’t bother with taking his pulse, instead asking, “When you contracted the illness, did you hear the sound of a bell?”
“The sound of a bell?” That person wore the same look of confused suspicion as the Fang manor owner. After thinking about it, he said, “Seems like there was, but it seems like I can’t remember clearly anymore.”
“When you keeled over, where were you?” Chen Xing asked again.
The merchant had already been interrogated so many times over this that aside from the sound of the bell, he could clearly recall the details, and once again he delivered his statement. That day he was originally returning from Mai City to Kuaiji, but when he entered the city he suddenly felt sleepy and fell off the back of his horse. Even after being sent to his home, he didn’t get better, but rather laid on his bed asleep for three days, his mind wandering and unclear.
“Just like that kid over there,” the merchant looked towards Xiao Shan, who was sleeping on the bed. “Huh, you see, how long has he been ill? So pitiful, at such a young age too…”
Xiao Shan blearily opened an eye and took a look at him.
Xiao Shan: “?”
Chen Xing said, “Weren’t you here to see a doctor? Why are you now giving others diagnoses? Are you the doctor, or am I? Okay, you should go back and rest, don’t leave Kuaiji for these few days.”
The merchant left, and the three of them looked at each other. Finally they had discovered the reason for the plague, or, it’d be more accurate to say that this was not a plague at all! Rather, someone had used the Luohun Bell to take away tens of thousands of earth huns of the common citizens living in the Jiangnan area!
“As long as we find the Luohun Bell and release the hunpo inside,” Chen Xing said, “they should be able to recover… But where is this bell?”
When the three drought fiend kings had been pursuing them, they hadn’t carried any artifacts with them. Xiang Shu remembered at Chang’an and Chi Le Chuan, at that time it was Feng Qianyi who was controlling the Yin Yang Mirror, and Zhou Zhen holding the Zheng Drum, while the drought fiend kings had only been assisting. That was to say, behind the three drought fiend kings, there was still another person controlling them.
“We need to find out who this person is,” Xiang Shu said. “When we find the Luohun Bell, I can recover my energy.”
Xiang Shu had been holding back for too long, and he had long before wished to smack Shi Hai around many times over for the suffering he had inflicted. As soon as he recovered his energy, the drought fiend kings would definitely suffer.
“That… You should calm down a little,” Chen Xing said.
Feng Qianjun hugged his arms, saying, “This person could also be hiding in Jiangnan like my big brother, except it’s very difficult to figure out his identity… Never mind that we’re being pursued right now, as long as he has some intelligence, he wouldn’t reveal himself at this moment.”
Xiang Shu then said, “The scenes that we saw within my mother’s memories, when the Luohun Bell was casting its magic, showed that there is always a trace to follow. Remember the butterfly that formed out of that hun? If we can set up an ambush and wait for this person to use the bell to cast the magic, then chase where the butterfly is going…”
“Flower,” Xiao Shan suddenly said. “I have it.”
The three of them abruptly stopped speaking, all of them looking at Xiao Shan.
Xiao Shan understood a portion of what they were talking about; basically, he understood that anything to do with that glowing butterfly was something important, so he pulled out several dried blossoms from his chest pocket, giving them to Chen Xing.
Chen Xing: “...”
“Yesterday night I wanted to ask,” Xiang Shu said, “why did the memories, which had turned into a glowing butterfly, land on this specific flower?”
Chen Xing said, “This is called the Lihun Flower; you guys better keep your distance. This kind of flower only grows where the spiritual Qi of the earth is, and the pollen contains a strange effect of the Divine Vein of the Earth: after a person dies, the hunpo will always be called towards the heavens as they enter into the rotations of the heaven and earth pulse. You guys understand? This kind of suction power inherent to the heaven and earth pulse has also been called the power of lihun, and just like a flowing river, it’ll carry the stones along the bank with it, so...”
“Get to the main point!” Xiang Shu said, impatient.
“Why are you being this fierce?” Chen Xing said, gently smiling. “You want to hit me again? You can’t beat me right now though.”
Xiang Shu: “...”
Feng Qianjun: "..."
After a little bit of silence, Feng Qianjun said, “Um, Xiang-xiongdi, a gentleman gets his revenge, even if it takes ten years…”
Xiang Shu patiently said, “Can you please get to the main point, alright?”
Chen Xing explained, “This is called the lihun power, and this kind of flower will take in your memories. The pollen makes people sneeze, and then afterwards, bafflingly, they will have forgotten many things…”
“So the butterfly that forms out of the earth hun,” Xiang Shu asked, “will also be drawn to this flower?”
“Eh… maybe.” Chen Xing said. “The earth hun of all these people that were taken away by the Luohun Bell… could they be at… In the Jiangnan area, is there any place where this kind of flower would grow? The Xiang family of 300 years ago, where did the flower in that mother’s hand come from?! Xiang Shu, you are too smart! You are really too smart!”
moon: the plot continues to thicken! and we continue to cry over xiao shan!
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Caro.