Hongjun felt a strong sense of insecurity and then subconsciously went back to the Exorcism Department, as if only the shrine of Acala was the safest place.
There’s a Gory part at the end of this chapter. Gore. Aloneness.
Late night. Exorcism Department.
Hongjun and A-Tai hurried back to the Exorcism Department, but no carp yao or the others were seen.
“Where are they?” Hongjun asked in bewilderment.
Hongjun frowned, hanging in his hand were the drops of liquid coated with his Pentacolored Sacred Light.
They waited in the Exorcism Department, but Li Jinglong, Mo Rigen, and Qiu Yongsi still didn’t return, and the carp yao who had gone to notify them was also nowhere in sight.
“Let’s go out and look for them.” A-Tai said.
By this time, the two of them were already aware that something had happened, and returned to their initial parting place in front of the Jiuqu Bridge and searched along the river course once more. When daybreak arrived, they still found nothing. When they returned to the Exorcism Department, Hongjun couldn’t stand it any longer and went to sleep first, while A-Tai still waited. It was already noon when Hongjun woke up.
“None of them came back.” A-Tai muttered, “There was more than one trap last night.”
“All three of them were ambushed by yaoguai?!” Hongjun thoroughly panicked.
“Quite possibly,” A-Tai mused. “This dark sorcery is almost too much for even us to handle.”
Hongjun furrowed his brow as he held up the Pentacolored Sacred Light, in which were locked the drops of blood found in the secret passage last night. The drops of blood were fluctuating in shape.
“This is bad,” Hongjun said. “We have to go look for them, what to do now?”
“Don’t get worked up,” A-Tai replied. “Doesn’t Zhangshi still have a superior? Let’s go and see him?”
“Yang Guozhong,” Hongjun replied, “We still have no idea whether or not he’s the yao king. What should we do if by any chance he is the yao king at the emperor’s side?”
“Let’s try him,” A-Tai had a sudden idea. “If he is, he will surely lead us to a trap just in time to save the others.”
Hongjun and A-Tai then went to the chancellor of the right’s mansion. They, however, only received a reply that the chancellor of the right had gone to the West and was not in Chang’an. As they pondered their next move, Hongjun thought of requesting help from the Judiciary Department, but A-Tai felt that it was inadvisable to drag mortals into this matter. After all, what they couldn’t solve would only harm the mortals, so it made little sense to bring them in.
A-Tai and Hongjun were already at their wits’ end as they came out of the chancellor’s mansion.
“What should we do?” Hongjun asked once again.
The two looked at each other for a moment, then A-Tai said, “Let’s search for them again. If you succeed in finding one of the traps, you may then find a way.”
“Let’s try to look for them separately.” Hongjun said.
The two then agreed that no matter what they found, they should not act rashly and must take the news back to the Exorcism Department to discuss it. Furthermore, regardless of whether they obtained something or not, they would have to return to the Exorcism Department before the evening drum.
Hongjun’s third search along the river course yielded no results.
Time slowly passed. In the afternoon, when Hongjun passed through the western street of Chang’an, the noisy marketplace was packed with people. However, he only felt a sense of fear as he felt like there were countless pairs of eyes watching his every move in broad daylight.
And all his movements were under the control of the enemy. At the thought of that, Hongjun felt a strong sense of insecurity and then subconsciously went back to the Exorcism Department, as if only the shrine of Acala was the safest place.
“A-Tai? Zhangshi? Are you all back?” Hongjun shouted as he pushed open the gate.
A-Tai had yet to return, while Li Jinglong and the other three had already been missing for nearly eight hours.
Even Zhao Zilong was nowhere to be seen. Hongjun had never been as flustered as he was now. Li Jinglong wasn’t even able to use a mana yet… Those yaoguai from before had been burned to death. If the yao king retaliated for that, he was afraid that the consequences would be too horrible to contemplate.
What to dooo? Hongjun was about to go berserk. This was completely beyond his abilities. He walked round and round in the courtyard. No no no, Hongjun let out a deep breath and calmed himself down.
What would Zhangshi do if he were here? Looking around aimlessly will not solve anything… Hongjun forced himself to settle down first. As the sun set, he sat cross-legged before the table, and began to gather his thoughts.
“First of all, they must have been taken,” Hongjun muttered. “There’s no other explanation.”
Under the premise that Li Jinglong, Mo Rigen, and Qiu Yongsi had all stepped into the same trap that they had also encountered, and that they didn’t have the Pentacolored Sacred Light to protect them then it was quite likely that they failed to deal against this creeping blood. Supposing that Li Jinglong used a sword, Mo Rigen used the seven nailed arrows, and Qiu Yongsi used his inexplicable drawing skills, they were all still no match for that guai-like Yazi. So then they were wounded, captured, or killed in reprisal.
Hongjun shivered as he thought of it and forced himself not to think so. What would Li Jinglong say if he was here?
“Is there a reason for the yao king to kill them?” Hongjun asked himself, imitating Li Jinglong’s voice, and then answered himself, “The yao king will not kill them so rashly. If they wanted to take their revenge, they would eliminate them all in one go.”
That still didn’t seem to constitute a reason for not killing them. In spite of this, Hongjun convinced himself that Li Jinglong shouldn’t have been killed once he was caught.
“Because I haven’t been caught yet,” Hongjun said. “It’s still adjustable, yes.”
After forcibly convincing himself, he asked once again, “In that case, where were they taken? Would that wounded Yazi...know?”
Yazi was wounded. Perhaps it will go to find the yao king! Hongjun leapt at once and rushed like a gust of wind, but then remembered that A-Tai still had not come back.
It was already getting dark.
Hongjun stood at the entrance for a moment. His intuition told him that the evening drum had already passed, and that the only possible reason of not seeing anyone was that A-Tai had also been captured.
He turned to look around and realized that he was the only one left.
“Impossible,” Hongjun muttered. It was strange to say that in this dark night, the sense he had of being watched during the day had conversely lessened. It was as if the gathering darkness had hidden the yaos from view and become their best protection. And yet, it also kept Hongjun in the darkness.
He climbed several steps to the tallest building in Golden Lane, overlooking the whole city. Every household in Chang’an shone with lights, a few red lanterns hung high, as dark clouds drifted over the moon, and the sound of music and laughter wafted across from far away within the city.
He carefully returned to the front of Jiuqu Bridge, along the river course, and towards yesterday’s passage. The underground space was quiet, and the walls were still dripping with water.
Under the Pentacolored Sacred Light’s illumination, the surroundings had been ruined by yesterday’s clash. Hongjun dived into the water without taking off his clothes.
Sure enough, there appeared a wide passageway under the water, and he swam along towards it. As he reached his last gasp, everything then became clear before him. He carefully rose to the water surface and found blood-stained footprints on the shore.
This was already a moat outside the city. Footprints went all the way out, and there was a trail of blood along the overwhelming underbrush along with a few scales fallen beneath the trees.
Hongjun’s heart beat violently. Taking out his throwing knife, he tracked all the way along the footprints and the bloodstains. However, the others were still nowhere in sight. In case there were other yaoguai, it was hard to say whether he could defeat them all himself alone.
The footprints came to a stop in front of a mountain wall before disappearing.
Gone? He looked around. How was that possible?
The moon rose through the misty clouds, throwing out long beams of moonlight, illuminating the mountain rock wall and giving it a reflective black luster. Holding the throwing knife’s handle, Hongjun approached and tried to rap at the mountain wall, but there was nothing. At that instant, Hongjun silently fell straight into the mountain wall!
This wall was a false front!
The moment he fell in, he almost cried out, but fearing that he might alarm an ambush, he desperately held himself back. Behind the mountain wall was another tunnel ten feet deep. Hongjun had no time to prop his Pentacolored Sacred Light as he stumbled and rolled down the small tunnel, throwing up countless silt, and finally falling into a cave in the mountainside.
“That hurts…” Hongjun said in a low voice.
The cave gleamed red, coming from a deep red magical array carved on the ground. Yazi’s footprints and blood trail dragged here before they really disappeared.
Hongjun looked over his shoulder at the magical arrayn on the ground. It was exactly the same as the one he had seen in Yazi’s hiding place the other day.
In the center of the array was placed an empty copper plate.
What spell is this? Where did Yazi go? Hongjun thought about the ‘trap’ that A-Tai had shouted out about last night. Perhaps that hadn’t been a trap, but rather, when the two of them discovered the array, Yazi had just happened to return, and then they at the same time had triggered the self-protection mechanism of the blood droplets in the array.
The blood droplets should be placed inside the copper plate. As long as the plate didn’t leave the array, it wouldn’t attack. Hongjun wasn’t actually afraid of it. After all, his Pentacolored Sacred Light could block everything.
He undid the bonds of the blood droplets that he had obtained the night before, and let them fall back into the copper plate.
“It looks like a medium.” Hongjun frowned as he scratched his head. How did the wounded Yazi flee to here? There was no other way, that was to say, Yazi had to have left through this array.
“Then this magical array...” Hongjun looked down for a moment before he knelt on one knee and then stood beside the last footprint of Yazi, which happened to have a mysterious symbol in it. He put his hand on it, trying to pour in his mana.
The array grew brighter, immediately followed by spewing tiny drops of blood out from the center of the copper plate, popping like fireworks in all directions.
As Hongjun strengthened his mana, the spewing tiny drops of blood spread even wider, and soon became like a fountain. It also spewed out of the copper plate and then fell back into the array, which immediately was activated as the rays of light grew extremely bright.
As soon as the array burst into a bright light, Hongjun didn’t have time to react as a buzz sounded, and then he was gobbled up by the rays of light!
Then came another buzz. Hongjun felt himself suddenly dangling aloft as his body fell uncontrollably. Accustomed to not shouting in the face of shock, he sharply flipped in the air and flicked out his throwing knife in preparation for any unexpected situations.
However, the moment he turned around, he was suddenly startled by what greeted him.
He saw himself!
A young man who looked exactly like him flew towards his direction with an evil smile at the corner of his mouth and holding three of his throwing knives!
What’s going on here?!
Hongjun and his mirror image collided into each other fiercely in the air. In an instant, he raised his throwing knife to block, but with a loud swish, the young man turned into drops of deep red blood and scattered in all directions. Then, the blood droplets converged again, turned into a hand, and plucked the peacock plume from around Hongjun’s waist.
“Who are you?!” Hongjun snarled.
“Hongjun!” Li Jinglong’s voice roared.
Hongjun subsequently threw out his throwing knife, but suddenly slammed into his own Pentacolored Sacred Light. His throwing knife that was in midair was engulfed and taken away by the fluid.
In front of him, the sea of blood drew closer and closer until Hongjun fell into it!
“The fourth one.” Lady Guoguo’s voice laughed.
Hongjun gasped, struggling in the midst of a sea of blood before looking up at the top of the cave, where there was a flashing magical array. He suddenly realized that this was the last trap!
He wanted to conjure up some magical fire when the sea of blood came roaring in thick and swift, wrapping him around tightly as Yazi rushed up from the shore.
Li Jinglong roared again, “Stop!!!”
Hongjun had just released the fire spell when he was bitten on his shoulder. With dripping blood, he cried out in pain and was thrown up into the air, flying towards the shore. Struggling, all his strength was suddenly drained, and the mana in his meridians also disappeared without a trace.
Lady Guoguo stood in front of Hongjun, murmuring and chanting mantras. As her bloodless lips slightly parted, Hongjun’s body emitted rays of light that were sucked into Lady Guoguo’s mouth.
“Stop it… Stop!” Tied up in an iron cage inside the cave, Li Jinglong couldn’t stop banging his shoulders against it, and shouted to Lady Guoguo. “Come drain from me! Don’t touch him!”
Hongjun was continuously rolling on the ground. His whole body was covered with thick sticky blood, and thus he couldn’t struggle up. Hongjun’s mana was being continuously absorbed by Lady Guoguo, and she was exceptionally elated. For the first time in her life, she had sucked in such a pure mana. Her whole body couldn’t help but tremble under the nourishment of this mana, and even her face subsequently deformed, showing a ferocious fox yao face.
Hongjun looked up and saw Lady Guoguo’s fox yao face; her eyes were empty in front of this ultimate pleasurable feeling, and her throat issuing a frightening noise.
“Go to hell… Yaoguai!” Hongjun gritted his teeth and then, with all his remaining strength, waved out the three Sacred fires of samadhi.
The flames burst open and hit Lady Guoguo in the chest. She let out a blood-curdling screech as she was thrown back. At once, the three guai guarding nearby rushed over and pushed Hongjun onto the ground, grabbed his head, and pounded him with all their claws as if with a pestle. As a dong sounded, thoroughly beaten and crushed, Hongjun fainted.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Joyce.