Editor(s): juurensha, namio
As Chen Xing spoke, he also felt that he had come across a lead! Before his eyes, he could almost see a strange vision of some place filled with these Lihun Flower, and the earth hun that had been taken from those ten thousand plus people by the Luohun Bell turned into butterflies that hovered and landed within the flower sea! Wait, what did they need the strength of this many earth hun for?
“The Xiang family must have records!” Chen Xing said. “They were focused on researching spiritual spots; they did that for a living! Feng-dage! Let’s go there once again!”
Feng Qianjun said, “I’ll send people to purchase the rest of the Fang family’s scrolls so we can study them here.”
That night, the rest of the scrolls from the Fang family were sent over. Feng Qianjun and Chen Xing began to investigate. Xiao Shan joined them for a bit, but Xiang Shu, who couldn’t read the seal script, was forced to stand to one side and stare off into the distance.
“Find the Earth Vein, any records relating to the Earth Vein,” Chen Xing said to Xiao Shan. “I’ll write out the characters for you, it’s these two words…”
“I know!” Xiao Shan impatiently shouted. “I’m not an idiot!”
Chen Xing couldn’t help but think of Xiao Shan as that child he had met at Carosha; gradually, he had forgotten that Xiao Shan already understood a lot of things.
Xiang Shu said, “He just likes to treat other people like idiots.”
Chen Xing could only give up on explaining, but not even a second later, Feng Qianjun said, “Chen Xing, take a look at this one?”
Chen Xing spread out the silk scroll. On it was a map of the general area of Kuaiji and Jiankang. The city boundaries of hundreds of years ago had shifted and changed greatly to what they were in the modern day, yet on that map, there were faded orange marks from a cinnabar stick, tracing out a strange formation.
“The Earth Vein flows towards…” Chen Xing mumbled, “The location is in the city of Kuaiji, this should be an entryway.”
Chen Xing pointed towards a specific section. Feng Qianjun consulted the map of modern-day Kuaiji before saying, “Let’s figure out a time to go there and take a look?”
“Let’s go now.” Xiang Shu didn’t want to wait any longer; he had had enough.
The spot that the ancient map marked out was in the northern part of the city. In the dead of the night, they prepared themselves, arming themselves with their weapons. The four of them followed the map until they found one of the entrances to the Earth Vein -- coincidentally, it was behind the county official’s manor, within an ancient well at the foot of the mountain, and sneaking into the manor was not difficult for them.
“I’ll go first to scout.” Feng Qianjun tied a rope around his waist, dangling over the well. “You guys wait up top.”
Xiao Shan glanced at the well before lazily taking a few aimless steps, peering curiously at the surroundings.
“Xiao Shan! Where are you going now?” Chen Xing said.
Xiang Shu inspected the surroundings. There were no crows, and the drought fiend kings hadn’t shown themselves for a whole day and a night now, but there was a persistent feeling of uneasiness. Perhaps that group was currently hiding in some dark corner, plotting how to defeat them.
“Why is the entrance so coincidentally located in the official’s manor?” Xiang Shu suddenly asked.
“There’s quite a few entrances,” Chen Xing said. “We just happened to pick the closest one… Don’t be so paranoid about everything. Xiao Shan, come back!”
Xiao Shan’s curiosity was really too strong; whatever he saw, he wanted to poke at. This time, it seemed like he had heard some noise, so he tiptoed over to the east side of the official’s manor and leaned his body against the wall outside of the windowsill, peeking into the room inside.
Chen Xing originally wanted to stop him, but then he remembered Xiang Shu’s worries. What if there really was a connection between the drought fiend kings and Wu Qi?
“What are you looking at?” Chen Xing very quietly asked.
Xiao Shan motioned for Chen Xing to come quickly, and soon the two of them were huddling outside the windowsill looking in. Inside was a scene that had Chen Xing very confused -- a Jin martial official and one of Wu Qi’s scribes were tightly hugging each other without a sliver of distance between them, and the scribe was panting uncontrollably.
Xiao Shan held his breath, his face filled with suspicion. He looked at Chen Xing, then looked inside, as if he was asking, what are they doing?
Chen Xing watched the two men inside. At first he also didn’t understand since the light in the room was dim, until Xiang Shu also followed over, hunching over to huddle up next to them and take a look.
Xiang Shu: “…”
Xiao Shan: “?”
Xiang Shu immediately covered Xiao Shan’s eyes and dragged him away. Chen Xing at this moment recovered his wits. Two… two men! His entire face flushed red, and Xiang Shu just had to pretend he hadn’t noticed.
Xiao Shan: “What is going on? He’s murdering someone!”
“Don’t ask anymore!” Xiang Shu and Chen Xing said simultaneously.
“He’s not murdering anyone,” Chen Xing said. “Quickly forget it, you didn’t see anything…”
Xiao Shan: “????”
“There’s a path in the bottom of the well!” Feng Qianjun was at the bottom tugging on the rope, saying, “Come down and take a look? It’s a dry waterway!”
Xiao Shan slid down first. Xiang Shu stood at the edge of the well and wrapped the rope around his hand twice. He then reached his hand out to Chen Xing so that Chen Xing could hug him as they went down. Chen Xing’s brain was filled with that scene from just now, and as he climbed up onto the edge, he subconsciously slipped. Xiang Shu immediately hugged him, and the two of them slid down the rope.
Chen Xing: “!!!”
Chen Xing and Xiang Shu were pressed very close, and suddenly Chen Xing felt something poking him… Did Xiang Shu’s body have some sort of reaction? It was as if the passion of the scene from just now hadn’t entirely passed, and like this Chen Xing felt even more awkward.
Feng Qianjun was completely in the dark about what had happened above. In the inky darkness of the old well, gusts of wind blew past them from some point in the distance. Xiang Shu took a moment to straighten his clothing as Chen Xing lit up the Heart Lamp, pointing it towards the water source. Where the light shone, a dark passageway appeared.
Xiang Shu pressed down on Chen Xing’s head, indicating that he should look down towards the ground, where there was a thin, glowing crack. Feng Qianjun knelt on one knee to poke at the crack with a finger, and the light that shone through was like light flickering off a chunk of fluorite hidden within the dirt.
With Feng Qianjun leading the way, they pushed forward, only to see that the light continued to grow brighter. They walked for an indeterminate distance, and the four walls of the cave slowly filled with glowing crevices.
“This is the Earth Vein,” Chen Xing said. “It is the counterpart to the Divine Vein. It’s the flow of the great river under our feet, in the earth below.”
Feng Qianjun tried to use Senluo Wanxiang, but he had no way to pull out any of the energy from the Earth Vein. Chen Xing explained to them that the Divine Veins held what was considered the energy of the highest grade of spiritual Qi; it supported the rotation of the entirety of the Divine Land, and like a cornerstone, it was fundamentally different from the mana that was lost to them.
The Earth Vein was originally buried deep within the ground, and under normal circumstances it wouldn’t appear, but in places where the rock layer was thin, it could peek out of the earth just a smidge. Where it surged out, it would bring with it the spiritual Qi, creating areas of distorted energy, and these areas were what people commonly called spiritual spots.
The four people walked over the dried riverbed under the ground. Hundreds of years ago, this place had been an underground waterway for the Kuaiji region. As the Earth Vein grew stronger, the underground cavern also became more spacious, and on the banks of the dry riverbed, amazingly enough, Lihun Flowers appeared!
“It’s here.” Feng Qianjun motioned for Chen Xing to look, and it was evident that their guess had been proven correct. “Xiang-xiongdi? Are you alright?”
As Xiang Shu walked along the Earth Vein, his breathing grew more labored. At the end he felt even more powerless, barely managing to wave his hand. “In this direction. I feel it.”
Chen Xing worriedly watched Xiang Shu and hurried over to support him, asking, “Should we turn back?”
Xiang Shu shook his head as he leaned on Chen Xing’s shoulder. He responded, “It’s not important, let’s go. Listen to me.”
A glowing butterfly stopped on one of the petals. Xiao Shan waved his claws, and the butterfly flapped its wings, gently fluttering into the depths of the cavern.
The interior of the cavern was already filled with the light from the Earth Vein. Chen Xing put away the Heart Lamp, focusing on carefully supporting Xiang Shu. As they walked, the Lihun Flowers increased in number. Chen Xing reminded them, “Pay attention and make sure that you don’t touch them, or you’ll sneeze.”
Xiao Shan suddenly tilted his head as if he heard something, and he sped up his footsteps as if he wanted to run to the end of the river path. However, Chen Xing was long since prepared, and, as fast as lightning, he grabbed Xiao Shan, saying, “Don’t run about!”
Xiao Shan really was too disobedient. Chen Xing securely fastened a length of rope to his own body, and with his other hand he snagged Xiao Shan’s belt with a hook that was tied to the other end of the rope.
Xiao Shan: “...”
Chen Xing: “You’re forbidden from randomly touching things, or next time we won’t bring you.”
Xiao Shan could only begrudgingly obey. The four of them moved like a strange unit as they carefully climbed down into the dry riverbed. Walking along it, they heard the sound of water gurgling up ahead, and as they turned the corner they saw a small creek flowing through a cavern that was even larger and brighter than the one they were now in. The light shone harshly onto their faces, and in front of them a vast sea of Lihun Flowers appeared.
Feng Qianjun suddenly turned around, pulling Chen Xing and Xiang Shu with him in a sideways leap, all three of them hiding in the shadow of a naturally formed stone pillar.
At the junction of several underground rivers, the water sparkled brillianty, reflecting the brightness of the Earth Vein. The reflection’s light revealed the two sides of the river bank covered with Lihun Flowers!
In the bewitchingly blue light, the sea of flowers was filled with butterflies formed from hunpo.
moon: lots of good xiao shan content this chapter! xiao shan on a kiddie leash, xiao shan thinking that papapa between two men is murder, xiao shan being Very Smart!!
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Caro.