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After Xiao Shan snuggled into the blankets and fell asleep, Chen Xing was struck with a sudden desire to walk around for a little, so he quietly made his way down the stairs.
He heard the sound of Xie An chatting with Huan Mo over tea in the open room.
Huan Mo was off to one side boiling the water, and was presently smiling, “Then I shall not be courteous.”
Chen Xing passed through the back of the open room, only to hear Xie An continue, “I haven’t heard of the people of the Huan family for a long time. Ever since Huan Wen fell into disgrace, the entire clan seemed to have disappeared from the world. Which master did Brother Huan study under in Xuancheng?”
Back in the day, Huan Wen was an unparalleled general of the Jin Dynasty who had led the troops to conquer the North - a formidable adversary of the Murong, Fu, and Yao families. However, he had grown arrogant from his prowess on the battlefield and committed deeds that went against the legislation after he returned to court. He had then even requested to be sealed as a king as part of the Nine Bestowments. Finally, he fell into Xie An’s clutches. Xie An had never opposed him outright; after all the fuss, he only used one strategy - delay. In the end, he had successfully delayed until Huan Wen finally passed away, allowing everyone in the Jin court let loose a sigh of relief.
It was also precisely because of Huan Wen’s move that the Sima family became very sensitive towards officials who strove for power. They were afraid that if said officials gathered enough military power, they would go against the imperial family. Thus the three sides - the imperial court, the Army, and the imperial family - existed in this slightly awkward, yet not, state of being.
Huan Mo spoke a little of Xuancheng, before he brought up the longtime friendship between Huan Wen and Wang Meng once more. When Chen Xing heard that they were speaking of his shixiong, he eavesdropped on a few sentences and constantly felt that Xie An seemed to only be making conventional remarks.
Not long after, he heard Xie An and Huan Mo once again begin to discuss the philosophies of the landscape. Chen Xing stopped listening and left the open room to walk outside. When he got to the depths of the garden, he found the stone tower that he had seen from outside of Canglangyu.
Xiang Shu was standing at the base of the stone tower, and when he heard the sound of footsteps, he looked over at Chen Xing from where he was standing.
Chen Xing: “I was just thinking about how I couldn’t find you anywhere. So this is where you ran off to.”
Xiang Shu: “You look everywhere the moment you can’t find your Protector anymore? How come you’re just like Xiao Shan?”
Chen Xing shouted, “I was afraid that you’d get lost after you ran off!”
Xiang Shu replied, “Just now I took a walk around Canglangyu and discovered that there’s something off about the stone tower here.”
“Yes,” Chen Xing frowned and said, “Karakorum also has one. It was a guard tower remember? Except that one was locked.”
Xiang Shu said, “Why do I constantly feel that this stone tower is the same one at Karakorum?”
“No, I remember that the one at Karakorum didn’t have this keyhole.” Chen Xing felt along the center of the stone tower; there was a hollowed out black keyhole that appeared to be waiting for a suitable key. Towards this matter, he had a faint inkling - perhaps these remains of Canglangyu were passed down from the Xiang family?
Xiang Shu motioned for Chen Xing to take a step back. He leaned towards the dark keyhole and looked inside while tilting his head with a focused expression. The sight made Chen Xing suddenly have a small urge to laugh.
“You won’t be able to see anything.” Chen Xing said, “Otherwise it wouldn’t be restricted.”
“There’s wind.” Xiang Shu murmured and continued to keep his ear turned to listen as he stood by the door of the stone tower.
Chen Xing: “???”
Chen Xing also copied Xiang Shu and turned his ear to listen. The two of them were face-to-face as they pressed their ears against the stone door together. His and Xiang Shu’s fine and smooth lips were less than an inch apart. The air of their breaths were pretty much mixed together - they were almost kissing.
Chen Xing stiffly moved away from the stone door and Xiang Shu let out a cough. He suddenly thought of something and raised his sword towards the stone door.
“The measurements are just right?” Chen Xing asked.
Xiang Shu slowly inserted the Acala Blade into the keyhole, rendering Chen Xing dumbstruck.
“I already tried once before.” Xiang Shu said to Chen Xing, “Nothing happened.”
Chen Xing: “No, no, no...”
Chen Xing’s breathing almost stopped. He raised his hands and placed them on Xiang Shu’s that were holding the sword. He said, “Just this once, Xiang Shu, listen to what I say.”
Chen Xing summoned the Heart Lamp, and the light flowed out in an instant, filling their bodies to the brim, and no sooner said than done, the garden was lit up like it was daytime!
“Wait.” Chen Xing suddenly said just as he was bringing the Heart Lamp to full illumination.
Xiang Shu: “?”
Chen Xing: “Should we call them to come out?”
Xiang Shu: “No, let’s first open it then call them over.”
Chen Xing took a deep breath and said, “After we open it, I may not necessarily be able to restore it...”
Xiang Shu: “Just leave everything to me. Open it!”
Chen Xing promptly poured in the Heart Lamp and, in a moment, the two of them shone with a brilliant light. The mana of the Heart Lamp was poured into the stone tower through the Sword of Wisdom, causing the door of the stone tower burst into a strong light like golden-coloured mana! With a “buzz” that sounded through the entire courtyard, the whole ground lit up!
In the hall.
“The writings of the General of the Right Wang...”
When they spoke up to this point, Huan Mo’s words suddenly stopped, and a strange smile appeared on his face.
Xie An watched Huan Mo and crinkled his eyes, a strange smile also appearing on his face.
“What are you smiling for?” Huan Mo suddenly detected a faint sense of danger.
“What are you smiling for?” Xie An asked back.
Huan Mo let out a cold laugh, and he pressed a hand lightly down on the table. In that instant, the four walls surrounding Canglangyu broke apart like paper, drifting far away, and the wooden rafters collapsed soundlessly. The roof had disappeared, revealing the starry sky overhead.
Xie An’s brows twitched as he watched Huan Mo with an inexplicable expression.
Huan Mo: “Xie Anshi, I really must thank you all for helping me unlock the Suoling Tower and retrieve...” But as he spoke, his tone suddenly changed, and his expression instantly froze. Xie An said in a low voice, “Sir Huan, don’t celebrate too early. Didn’t you find that the tea you just drank wasn’t quite right in its taste?”
Huan Mo: “!!!”
In the courtyard, Xiang Shu and Chen Xing grabbed the hilt of the Acala Blade together, and Chen Xing shouted, “Open!”
With a light sound, each layer of the stone tower slowly disintegrated, and the stones that made up the walls flew apart, causing a strong wind to gust out. Xiang Shu immediately backed up and stuck an arm out in front of Chen Xing as he used his back to protect him. Chen Xing’s eyes opened wide; from the side of Xiang Shu’s shoulder, he saw a glowing pearl diffusing a golden light from within the stone tower!
The pearl let out a strong light that swept across the land, and the entirety of Canglangyu broke apart as the illusion dissipated, revealing a desolate island and forest. High up in the ruins, Xiao Shan was sleeping in the air and fell down in a moment of carelessness. In mid-air, he let out a loud shout before he turned, flipped, and landed on the ground with one hand as support.
Feng Qianjun was dangling from a tree. He exclaimed in shock, “What thing is shining like this?! Qing’er! Qing’er!”
From afar came the sound of Gu Qing shouting loudly. Xie Daoyun cried, “Careful!”
The two of them also fell down from a tree, and Feng Qianjun jolted, before he shouted, “Wait for me!”
Huan Mo’s eyes glazed over. He pressed one hand against his forehead as his legs went weak, and he fell to the floor. The illusion had vanished and Xie An faced the collapsed Huan Mo, suddenly feeling a little bewildered. He didn’t know what to do next, so he could only shout, “Little shidi! I seem to have captured a yao! Come here and take a look?”
At this time, a gust of black qi dissipated from Huan Mo’s body, and the black qi then slowly formed into a body.
“Xie Anshi, I actually managed to fall into your clutches this once,” From within the black qi came a hoarse voice. “You can die contentedly now...”
“What evil are you!” Xie An was completely unafraid as he pulled out his sword and bellowed, “This is your original form?”
The black qi let out maniacal laughter. It said with an impudent voice: “Weren’t you all searching for me all this time? Don’t you recognize who I am?”
“Shi... Shi Hai?!”
In this way, Xie An had completed his first attempt at catching yao in his career as an exorcist, and in addition, he had even managed to take down the biggest... biggest name in their enemies’ camp - this was enough to go down in history! But just in that short instant, Xie An made a brilliant decision: back away and run!
“Chen Xing!” Xie An shouted, “Protector-! Shi Hai has come!”
The mass of black qi let out a hoarse, wild roar before pouncing towards Xie An in an instant with a "shua"!
The stone tower opened, and the pearl within it cast light out for thousands of zhang. Just as Chen Xing was about to take it, a shadow in the darkness stabbed out with a sword right after. Without a sound or a breath, it headed directly for the back of Chen Xing’s neck! But Xiang Shu was even faster than the black shadow; he shot forward, grabbed at the air, and took a hold of the blade of the sword!
In that instant, fresh blood splattered everywhere as Xiang Shu actually managed to snap the blade with his bare hands. The long sword let out a light sound as it was snapped by Xiang Shu’s iron-like strength into two halves. The instant Chen Xing turned back, he came directly face-to-face with his ambusher’s face.
Sima Wei wasn’t wearing a helmet, and with a flick of his broken sword, he once again went for Chen Xing’s neck. But Xiang Shu pressed a hand on Chen Xing’s shoulder and borrowed it to propel himself upwards. In midair, he spread his legs apart as he turned and locked his ankles around Sima Wei’s neck. The two of them spun together, sending him flipping into the ground!
“Get the magical artifact!” Xiang Shu shouted.
With this push of Xiang Shu’s, Chen Xing rushed up the platform in two steps before he leapt upwards and grabbed the pearl into his hand. The mana holding up the stone tower disappeared, and the stones came crashing down!
Xiang Shu twisted Sima Wei to the ground before turning away again to jump up to catch the Acala Blade. Sima Wei slowly stood up and straightened out his twisted neck before he shot towards Xiang Shu with his bare hands.
“Someone like you...” Xiang Shu held his sword in his hand, and with an easy turn, Sima Wei had leapt into empty air.
“Guwang can take care of eight of them.”
Xiang Shu said coldly and backhandedly swung his sword. With a muffled sound, Sima Wei’s chestplate was caved in by the force of that blow and was sent flying outwards. His back slammed into a large tree and he fell heavily into the rubble.
“Last time the three of you came at me together...” Xiang Shu lifted his sword and took another step over.
Chen Xing doggedly got up and stared fixedly at Xiang Shu.
Sima Wei had just crawled up from the ground, subconsciously lifting up a hand to catch Xiang Shu’s blow, and immediately suffered a second swing of Xiang Shu’s sword.
“... Do you still not understand the consequences? You still haven’t given up? You still wanted to ambush us?!” Xiang Shu said coldly, before lifting up Sima Wei with a flick of his sword. With a sweep of his body and three consecutive swings of his sword, and simultaneously three loud rings in a row, Sima Wei was once again sent flying five zhang away.
“Stop fighting!” Chen Xing immediately shouted, “Show some mercy! It’s enough now!”
“Normally I wouldn’t want to fight with you guys...” Xiang Shu didn’t wait for Sima Wei to land before he lightly jumped up and flew up into midair. Simai Wei spun around in the air and swung his broken sword, but his arm was snapped in Xiang Shu’s grip as if it were a strip of bamboo. The rage in Xiang Shu’s chest finally exploded out, and he furiously roared, “Lowlife! Scram!”
With that move, Sima Wei narrowly escaped being split in two, and his body bent as he flew into Lake Hong like a kite with a broken string. The instant he made impact with the water, he let out a broken roar.
Xiang Shu put his sword away. Chen Xing had already forgotten about the Dinghai Pearl, and his chest was filled with a sense of idolization that he could not vocalize. Just then, he saw a person with their robes askew, appearing as if he had ridden the wind to embrace the moon. He was wildly running towards him in a panic as he shouted: “Little shidi! Shixiong just caught a Shi Hai...”
That cloud of black qi morphed into a human silhouette, and its outline gradually grew clearer.
Chen Xing clutched the pearl in his hand, and Xiang Shu lifted up his sword, protecting Chen Xing behind him.
“The Dinghai Pearl ah... it has taken me a full 300 years to find... 300 years.” The person concealed within the mass of black qi said slowly.
Xie An slowly backed away to Chen Xing’s side, while Feng Qianjun and Xiao Shan, who had just rescued Gu Qing and Xie Daoyun, rushed out. All of them pulled out their weapons, facing the black shadow.
“Shi Hai?!” Chen Xing cried in shock.
That cloud of the dark qi was precisely the human figure that he had seen by the Kuaiji earth vein - it was Shi Hai!
More than once, Chen Xing had thought about the day that he would come face to face with Shi Hai, but he never would have expected that it would be at this time, and in this place!
Just wanna give a thanks to jmoon for helping me TL the second half of the chappie… how I do hate action scenes… =.=;
I literally owe her one.
Xiang Shu protecc, he attacc, he has his Xing’er’s bacc.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Ice, jmoon.