"His hand was clenched very tightly, as if he was afraid of losing him."
Editor(s): juurensha, namio
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When the sky brightened, Hongjun once again opened his eyes. He had already recovered all his energy. The blankets were warm, as if someone had slept there; Li Jinglong’s scent was still there on the pillow to his side, and beside that pillow was a branch of plum blossoms, which emitted a light fragrance.
“Zhao Zilong.” Hongjun sat up, holding the plum blossoms as he asked, “Did you pick these for me?”
The basin was empty.
“Where’s the fish?” Hongjun stood up and looked all around, only to hear Li Jinglong and Mo Rigen speaking in agitated tones not too far away.
He changed into a martial outfit, afraid that the two of them were fighting, but when he arrived in the hall, he immediately let out a loud shout.
A-Tai wore a luxurious mink cloak as he held that azure Wind God’s Fan in his hand, happily chattering to Li Jinglong and Mo Rigen. The carp yao, lying on its side on the table, flopped a few times, listening with glee. In the hall, behind A-Tai stood a Tujue youth. His skin was dark, his hair in wild disarray, and he was clad in leather armor with several throwing knives clasped to his belt.
Hongjun originally thought that A-Tai would let out a loud shout of “Hai mie hou bi”, but he hadn’t expected that all of them would instead quiet for a moment.
“Hongjun,” A-Tai responded, contrary to his normal behavior. He began to smile, the joy of reunion present in his gaze.
A few breaths later, he let out a loud shout of “Hai mie hou bi” as he went forth to tightly envelop Hongjun in a hug.
Hongjun hadn’t thought that A-Tai would actually come, and for a bit, he was so overcome with emotion that he didn’t know what to say. Finally, he managed, “You’ve come! You actually came!”
A-Tai smiled. “Since the Exorcism Department is in difficult straits, how could I not come? Hongjun, this is my good bro, Ashina Qiong. You two should get to know each other, both of you play with throwing knives.”
“As-salam,” that Tujue youth said, pressing one hand against the left side of his chest as he greeted Hongjun, meaning “Hello”. Hongjun hurried to return the greeting by cupping his hands.
Li Jinglong said, “Now, we’re only missing Yongsi, for a full gathering.”
“He’s too far,” A-Tai said. “I suggest that we first move out and not wait for him. We can just leave him a letter.”
As it turned out, a month ago, A-Tai had taken the letter of appointment and gathered the troops of the past by the ancient Wusun route. But after settling down for a mere twenty or so days, he had received the news that Li Jinglong had asked a caravan to bring him. At that, he immediately set off, returning to Hexi.
Counting on his fingers, the address that Qiu Yongsi had asked them send letters to was an estate in the mountains near West Lake, and after the letter arrived, they would have to wait for it to reach him. Even if Qiu Yongsi flew over, he wouldn’t be able to arrive before the coming spring.
“Every person that arrives counts,” Li Jinglong said. “Now we have two more strong members, and I’m much more relieved.”
“You guys come look,” A-Tai replied. “When we were passing through Yadan, I captured this.”
And saying this, A-Tai leisurely fanned himself with his fan as he left the hall with them, coming to the drill grounds.
“Hey, Tocharian sissy,” the carp yao said. “On such a cold winter’s day, you’re still fanning yourself, aren’t you cold?”
“This is for the aesthetic,” A-Tai said with a reserved smile, before he waved the Wind God’s Fan. The rings on his fingers shone with a dim light, and the wind immediately grew warm, sending that heavy layer of snow scudding across the ground.
“That day, if you were there,” Mo Rigen said, “then we wouldn’t have had to fight so laboriously with Xuannü.”
In the autumn, when the heat had hung heavy over them, their group had sat there, waiting for A-Tai to send a cool breeze their way. With this reminder, Hongjun immediately realized, that’s right! With A-Tai there, they wouldn’t have to be afraid of the snowstorms that came blowing right into their faces!
“The snow yao is secondary.” A-Tai passed through the drill grounds and came to a stop in front of a cage, inside of which was a squatting man clad in ragged clothing. His features were twisted, his eyes so wide they were a little horrifying to look at.
“We captured him when we were passing through Yadan.”
As soon as Hongjun saw it, he knew that that was a yaoguai; he just didn’t know what yaoguai that was. When the carp yao saw, it was so frightened that it let out a loud cry, and it shouted, “Snake!”
That yaoguai was indeed a sand snake, his eyes fixed directly on the group in front. Once in a while, his tongue would flick out, and he looked rather sleepy. After all, winter was the time that he was usually hibernating. But by a stroke of misfortune, he had been caught and brought back by A-Tai, and had not eaten or drunk in many days, so he was evidently very exhausted.
The sand snake’s voice was low and hoarse as he replied, “You promised that you wouldn’t kill me.”
A-Tai replied elegantly, “You also promised me that you’d tell the truth. Tell them, what did you hear?”
“The corpse ghosts that fell in battle have already fallen into their hands,” the sand snake said, looking at Hongjun with horror in his eyes. “They have already found the White Deer’s human reincarnation, and the yao king is having the plague god use the White Deer’s magic to gather the corpse ghost army as fast as possible. They are to be prepared to move out at any point to help support the reincarnated Mara in getting rid of the human emperor, that's how things are.”
“Wait!” Hongjun exclaimed, his voice trembling with shock. “Say that again?!”
The sand snake lifted his gaze, meeting Hongjun’s own.
As it turned out, this sand snake had originally lived not too far from the royal mausoleum in Yadan, and twenty years ago, he had achieved a great step in its cultivation. After Xuannü and the Plague God arrived, he was taken into the yao king’s service and had become a courier. After that, every now and then, he would be given a message to take, and along the way, he would help Xuannü buy a few savory bing from Shazhou, and run errands for those two great yaoguai.
The Plague God had come from the Central Plains, and it had been sent here on the orders of the yao king to oversee the garrison here, whereas Xuannu was a yaoguai who had grown up in this land.
“Wow,” Hongjun said. “Even yaoguai have a household registry?”
“Xuannü wasn’t like this before.” The sand snake appraised Hongjun. In the gathered group, he only felt a sliver of closeness with Hongjun, and from how oppressive the aura around him was, he guessed that Hongjun was somehow related to some yao. However, he understood his current situation, and he didn’t open its mouth to ask about that; instead, he continued, “It was only later that everyone heard of the great change in her personality.”
“Everyone?” Mo Rigen asked with a frown. “How many of you yaoguai are there?”
“They were all sent away the year before,” the sand snake said. “The birds and the beasts, the ones that flew in the sky, the ones that swam in the water, many were sent away just from those that I know.”
“Where did they go?” Li Jinglong immediately felt that there was some trouble impending.
The sand snake replied, “I don’t know, they were all transferred away by the yao king. They were probably used as offerings to quicken the reincarnation of Mara?”
That day, A-Tai had only asked roughly about his origins. He hadn’t expected that bit by bit, Li Jinglong had teased out such incredible information.
“How do they keep in contact?” Li Jinglong then asked.
“Through a mural on the wall of the Mogao Caves,” the sand snake replied.
A-Tai pressed a hand to his forehead, using his other to pat Li Jinglong’s shoulder, meaning, as expected, I’m not good at extorting a confession out of someone, you’ve still got to step in.
Li Jinglong had no effort to spare for other matters as he focused all his attention on the interrogation. The sand snake was very cooperative, as if this was a question-and-answer session - on the wall mural, the yaoguai that was drawn was in the shape of a dragon. This plot had been brewing since a whole twenty years ago, when Zhang Hao had first come to Dunhuang and found Xuannü living in seclusion on the northern slopes of the Qilian Mountains. In these eightexen years, the two yao had worked together to capture a spiritual beast, and rumors had it that this spiritual beast was living in a wall mural in the Mogao Caves. Every now and then, it would reincarnate into the human realm.
And the Plague God and Xuannü, when the spiritual beast had left the Mogao Caves to be reborn, had successfully intercepted it, and had used devil qi to corrupt it, endlessly refining it.
“The White Deer,” Mo Rigen murmured, and he exchanged a glance with Li Jinglong.
“That beauty that you’re looking for?” A-Tai asked, taken aback.
The carp yao reminded him, “Right now he’s turned into a man.”
“Don’t bring that up,” Mo Rigen said, pressing a hand against his forehead. “It’s unclear if Lu Xu is alive or dead, how do you all have the spare energy to care if he should be a man or a woman?”
“I don’t know what that is,” the sand snake said, “but that day, the Plague God was pummeled very hard. I remember clearly, he had me go find helpers...”
When they were pursuing the White Deer, the Plague God had clearly run into a strong opponent, and this opponent had beat him up pretty badly. And the White Deer that they had brought back also had a small problem - his physical body had been lost, and he was only a spiritual body. Mo Rigen immediately said, “Without a physical body, if there wasn’t anywhere for that spiritual body to go, the White Deer would quickly return to the divine vein.”
“Later, the Plague God and Xuannü managed to gain control over the White Deer and used devil qi to create a body for it, before using its magic to wake a troop of corpse ghosts that fell in battle…”
But for the White Deer to fully be corrupted, the time that would take was very long and arduous. This process had lasted for almost ten years. After the White Deer turned into the Black Deer, it had taken them another eight whole years to then corrupt the greater and lesser corpse ghost kings of the corpse ghost army. In the end, the ones that they confirmed could follow their orders without questioning and subsequently, the ones that they had let out of the coffins, were only Liu Fei and a group of his subordinates.
The other king was still sleeping, but the yao king could wait no longer. He ordered Xuannü and the Plague God to take care of Hexi as soon as possible, paying particular attention to removing this thorn in his side that was Geshu Han.
With that, Xuannü had Liu Fei lead the great corpse ghost army, moving out on his own, but it hadn’t expected that Liu Fei would be awakened by Mo Rigen by pure chance alone. And afterwards, Xuannü was so infuriated that she personally called out a cloud of black fog from within the wall mural, and she ordered it to capture Liu Fei alive and bring him back. Right after that, through another series of pure coincidences, they actually managed to run into the other half of the White Deer’s reincarnation that they had lost eighteen years ago!
“And what about Lu Xu?” Mo Rigen asked, his voice trembling.
“I… I don’t know what method they used,” the sand snake replied. “Whatever it was, when she returned, she had been injured. It was because you all fought with her, right?”
The sand snake observed the assembled group. Upon seeing that none of them were willing to give him a reply, he continued, “Later, they went to Yadan, and that spiritual beast awakened the corpse ghost king, who is currently gathering a hundred thousand corpse ghosts that fell in battle, preparing to lead them through the Yumen Pass…”
“What?!” everyone let out loud shouts.
Li Jinglong sensed the severity of the matter, and he looked towards A-Tai. A-Tai shrugged helplessly, saying, “Before, when I heard this news, I hurried to rush over.”
When Hongjun heard of that sudden news that the most troublesome of the corpse ghost kings had left his coffin to head to war, whose abilities were even above Liu Fei’s, he immediately thought of the cities that the corpse ghosts had massacred - and the general guarding the Yumen Pass was his own uncle! He was immediately filled with horror, as if he could already see the cruel scene of the smoke of war burning along the border.
“What should we do?” Hongjun asked, voice trembling.
Li Jinglong immediately came to a decision. He asked, “When are they dispatching the troops?”
“The day after tomorrow? Yesterday? The day before yesterday?” That sand snake counted up on his fingers; he hadn’t kept count of the days, since it was winter. He continued, “They had me go find the yao king and pass on the message, because they found…”
“Alright,” A-Tai said. “That’s enough.”
Li Jinglong jolted at that, looking at A-Tai. A-Tai merely replied, “The ambush is coming.”
Nodding, Li Jinglong immediately turned around and headed back into the hall, saying, “Make preparations for battle! Quickly!”
Li Jinglong rushed into the hall, saying to the guards, “Notify General Jia and all of his lieutenants that this is an important military matter, immediately!”
That Tujue youth named Ashina Qiong patted Hongjun’s shoulder, saying, “Don’t worry.”
As soon as Li Jinglong reacted to the situation, Hongjun immediately felt something that he hadn’t for a long time, as all of his worries vanished like fog in an instant. This time, he hadn’t even said “trust me”, using his actions as a substitute for that verbal comfort.
Hongjun nodded, before looking back at that sand snake yao in the cage.
“Release me,” the sand snake said. “You guys promised that you’d release me!”
Ashina Qiong pulled out a throwing knife, observing that sand snake. Hongjun hurried to say, “Don’t kill him.”
At that, Ashina Qiong put the throwing knife away. Hongjun didn’t dare to make a decision, but upon seeing the pitiful way in which that sand snake watched himself, he said, “Let me go ask Zhangshi.”
“My king,” the sand snake yao said, “I really didn’t spout any lies!”
“I’m not your king,” Hongjun replied, before turning and going back inside to find Li Jinglong. At this time, the estate was bustling with activity and filled with the commanders of the troops guarding the Yumen Pass. As Li Jinglong donned his armor, he explained the information that he had gleaned from their captive, and also pointed out the path that the army was taking. He had Jia Zhou arrange for guards at the sentry posts, to prevent them from being ambushed.
“Impossible!” Jia Zhou said. “We have the signal fire towers, and since they haven’t sent out a message, how can there be a sneak attack?”
“The opponents have a yaoguai that can command the wind and snow,” Li Jinglong said. “Your subordinates won’t be able to even light the signal fires.”
In that instant, Jia Zhou quieted. Li Jinglong sat down, taking the armored boots that a soldier handed him, saying, “Give me two thousand troops, equipped with cables and strong crossbows, and have them hide themselves along the main paths of the Qilian Valley, namely… here, here, and here.” Li Jinglong spared a hand to point out a few spots, before continuing, “These are all paths that they must take.”
Jia Zhou came to a decision on the spot, and he shouted, “Go! All of you, go! Give Li-zhangshi five thousand seasoned troops!”
A red line was drawn on the map, starting from Yadan, heading southwest through the northwestern ridge of the Qilian Mountains, before then passing through Yumen Pass, finally entering Yumen City.
After pondering, A-Tai said, “They came from Yadan. If we rush over now, if nothing unexpected happens, we should be able to make it there a step ahead of them. But two hundred thousand corpse ghost riders, how will you defeat them?”
Li Jinglong replied, “Let’s discuss battle plans after we get on our horses.”
“That snake yao…” Hongjun asked, pointing outside.
“We’ll release him once we get back,” Li Jinglong replied, putting on his helmet, walking quickly out of the hall. “Exorcism Department, hear my orders!”
A-Tai and Mo Rigen both let out noises of assent, while Hongjun replied, “Here!”
Li Jinglong turned his head back to look at Hongjun, saying, “How about you stay and keep your uncle company…”
“I must go together with Zhangshi,” Hongjun said, organizing his throwing knives. He turned his head back and said to Jia Zhou, “Uncle, don’t worry.”
Mo Rigen and Li Jinglong exchanged a glance, and Li Jinglong nodded his head very slightly, so slight that it was difficult to see.
Jia Zhou replied, “Go ba, may you return safely.”
Li Jinglong, Hongjun, A-Tai, Mo Rigen, and that Tujue youth exited the estate, all of them mounting their horses and spurring them into motion, heading out of the city.
But after they left the city, Li Jinglong reined his horse to a stop in the middle of the desolate plains, as if he was thinking deeply.
Hongjun: “What’s wrong? Is there a problem?”
“Could he be a spy?” A-Tai had matter-of-factly guessed that there would be such a stop, so he turned his horse back around. Right there, everyone began to hold a second little meeting.
Hongjun had seen this scene too many times, and without needing a master, he understood what was going on. He understood that that posing that Li Jinglong had done just now was all for the sand snake yao to see! He thought, each and every one of you is way too cunning!
“He doesn’t seem like one to me,” Li Jinglong replied.
Mo Rigen pointed out, “I also feel that it doesn’t act like one. When Zhangshi was asking it questions, it was very afraid.”
A-Tai thought deeply, before en-ing once in agreement and saying, “What I didn’t expect was for it to be this afraid.”
“Afraid of what?” Hongjun asked. “I didn’t realize that at all.”
“You,” Ashina Qiong suddenly said.
A-Tai immediately shot him a glance to shut him up, before smiling. “Hongjun, you can just call him Qiong. You two are very alike, both of you like to tell the whole truth.”
“In your language, I possess the innocent heart of a child,” Ashina Qiong said carefreely.
“Why be afraid of me?” Hongjun asked.
“Alright,” Li Jinglong said, immediately putting an end to this discussion. “Then, everyone will move out together, so let’s go scout out the situation first.”
The group assented, and they spurred their horses, heading out.
From its position on Hongjun’s back, the carp yao added, “It’s afraid of you, like how I’m afraid of cats.”
With that, Hongjun finally remembered that his dad was a peacock, and his adoptive father was a phoenix. Snakes seemed to dread any powerful avian yaoguai, so he didn’t ask any further.
A-Tai whistled and smiled towards Hongjun. “Hongjun! Toss Zhao Zilong over here!”
The carp yao shouted, “Tocharian sissy! What are you trying to do?!”
A-Tai replied, “After not seeing each other for so long, I’ve been missing our eldest’s leg hairs. Quickly, come let me lovingly stroke them.”
Everyone laughed loudly. Hongjun guessed that A-Tai wanted to tease Zhao Zilong, so he chucked the carp yao over. A-Tai caught the carp yao and spurred his horse on, racing to the front of the formation.
The wind gradually grew stronger as the group of riders left Yumen City, galloping across the plains. Hongjun only felt that the warhorse he was riding was going so slowly, nothing at all like the divine steed he had ridden a little while before. But unfortunately, when he had been in that nightmare, he had hacked and slashed away and killed them all, and at that, he couldn’t help the guilt that he felt in his heart.
“Are you feeling a little better?” Li Jinglong asked, turning his steed and heading to Hongjun’s side.
Hongjun nodded. Li Jinglong then followed up with, “I’ll let you ride with me?”
Hongjun waved his hand, indicating that it was no matter. Mo Rigen’s words of the night before had more or less dissolved the knot in his heart, though the matter of the ‘devil seed’ still caused him to feel doubtful, and he still felt funny when he looked at Li Jinglong. However, at least the uneasiness that he had felt when he faced Li Jinglong had already lightened a great deal.
“Do you want to stay at Yumen?” Li Jinglong continued.
The others, whether they meant to or not, increased their speed, leaving the two of them at the very end. It was as if they had agreed upon it beforehand, to leave the two of them a chance to talk alone.
Hongjun turned his head to appraise Li Jinglong, before replying, “I don’t want to.”
“Why?” Li Jinglong asked in response.
“I’m afraid that I’ll miss you guys.” When Hongjun saw A-Tai return today, he suddenly put aside that thought entirely. Once, he had thought that their parting would be an eternal separation, but the people who left would always return, and he had brought along a new friend as well.
Li Jinglong replied, “But your uncle is here.”
Hongjun’s speed slowed as he and Li Jinglong directed their horses across a small creek, before they sped up again. He thought for a bit, before responding, “The Northwest is too cold, I won’t be able to get used to it.”
Li Jinglong began to chuckle, replying, “Then you go tell him yourself. I won’t say it, otherwise your uncle will start to hate me for it, and I’ll have gained another enemy.”
At that, Hongjun thought of Chong Ming, and he also began to laugh.
“Come over ba,” Li Jinglong said, once again reaching a hand out to Hongjun. “I’ll take you along.”
Suddenly, in Hongjun’s mind appeared the scene that he had seen in the dreamscape of nine-year-old Li Jinglong waiting in the alley, reaching a hand out to him, leading him into the Exorcism Department.
His hand was clenched very tightly, as if he was afraid of losing him, but he had still brought him into that array that had sent him into eternal doom, and had, in the end, lost him everything that he once had...
Behind him, Li Jinglong shouted, “Wait!”
He shook the reins once, following closely behind.
At the front of the group, A-Tai on his horse, along with Mo Rigen and Ashina Qiong, headed along the foot of the mountains. They raced towards the northwestern ridgeline of the Qilian Mountains.
Ashina Qiong turned back from time to time, only to see that on the desolate plain, Hongjun and Li Jinglong, one in front, one behind, had already become two small black dots against the vastness of the horizon.
“Stop looking,” A-Tai said, grinning. “He’s already spoken for.”
Ashina Qiong responded casually from his position atop his horse, “You Central Plains people actually have this rule? Whoever sees him first is who he belongs to?”
Mo Rigen blinked at that, before he finally understood. He couldn’t resist chuckling at that.
A-Tai said to Mo Rigen, “You shouldn’t laugh, Mo Rigen, I haven’t even laughed at that fated male wife of yours.”
Mo Rigen’s smile immediately slid off his face, which turned bright red. Right after, his brows furrowed again.
“It seems like in your guys’ Exorcism Department, there’s all kinds of troubles,” Ashina Qiong remarked.
A-Tai responded easily, “Isn’t that very true? Right now we’re going to save Mo Rigen’s lover.”
“He’s not my lover yet,” Mo Rigen responded. “Don’t talk nonsense.”
Ashina Qiong then asked, “That ‘devil seed’ that you guys spoke of is in that child’s body, the one that also uses throwing knives?”
“Don’t go teasing him,” A-Tai replied, his expression growing uncharacteristically serious. “Qiong, whatever you do usually, I don’t care, but don’t touch Hongjun.”
Ashina Qiong smiled insouciantly back, saying, “If he’s willing to go with me, then why would he need to find anyone else?”
Mo Rigen replied, “Do you have Zhangshi’s Heart Lamp? You won’t be able to restrain the devil qi in Hongjun’s body.”
A-Tai fell silent again as he thought, before saying, “Mo Rigen, this is a very serious matter. You guys are sure that Hongjun is really that person that the snake yao spoke of?”
The carp yao peeped half its fish head out from A-Tai’s arms, staring directly at Ashina Qiong from beginning to end as it listened to them talk.
“Before you arrived, we already fought a pitched battle,” Mo Rigen replied. “In his nightmare, Hongjun saw the death of his parents, which is how the devil seed’s power was activated.”
The carp yao suddenly asked, “Does the Heart Lamp really have the power to dispel the devil qi? Ay, our family’s Hongjun, how is he this pitiful?”
“Leave it to Zhangshi ba,” Mo Rigen said, at a loss for what to do. “Let’s see how his luck is.”
The carp yao protested, “Let’s see how his luck is? Are you for real? That’s not anything good!”
“Why do you say that?” Ashina Qiong asked in response, not quite understanding.
A-Tai grew irritated from the questions, and he decided he might as well explain it all. “The ‘devil seed’ in Hongjun’s body might only be able to be exorcised with the Heart Lamp in Li Jinglong’s body, that’s what we discussed today. After this battle, Li Jinglong will head to Yaojin Palace in the Taihang Mountains and see if there’s a way to resolve this.”
Ashina Qiong thought for a bit, before he began to sing. “In the darkness of the grasslands, my darling girl lit for me a single lamp, which could bring forth the dawn -- jia!”
That was a ballad of the Tujue people, and Ashina Qiong’s meaning was very clear: as long as there was love, it could dispel the darkness.
A-Tai was torn between laughing and crying, and he shook his head. “He doesn’t understand.”
The snow began to fall again as they regrouped at the foot of the Qilian Mountains. Mo Rigen tossed a set of leather armor to Hongjun, who put it on and moved his arms around. With a wave of A-Tai’s fan, a wild wind began to blow, sending the five of them up to a steep cliff at the summit. On the cliff was a little wooden house built for sentries to survey the military situation of the surrounding area. Standing up here, looking across, they could see the end of the Great Wall lit by the lingering rays of the setting sun.
The lengthy Great Wall began in Liaodong, coiling through the Bohai, Lukou, Hebei, Jinyang, and Guanzhong regions… formidable and magnificent, it spanned almost a hundred cities, joining the bright moon of Qin times with the passes of the Han. It joined together the ancient times of the past, the immortalized achievements of countless emperors that ascended the throne; it joined together the songs of the Five Hu tribes that echoed across Saiwai; it joined together time and space, and it also joined together the vast territories of the Divine Land, finally arriving here, extending across the endless land that was currently in the icy throes of winter, before finally returning to nothing.
The wind carried a pungent corpse odor to their noses, and even Hongjun could smell it; it was very strong.
“Where is the ambush?” A-Tai asked.
The sun set in the west, shedding its light from the northwest over the Great Wall and casting its rays onto the mountain range. Li Jinglong, the Sword of Wisdom in hand, clad in a set of armor, pointed into the distance, indicating that the rest of the group look that way.
To the two sides of the valley were ancient, abandoned beacon towers. The troops that Jia Zhou had sent had moved even faster than them, and they had already let down ropes from up high, hiding themselves at the two sides of the valley. Some ten plus strong ropes shot out, falling towards the cliff that the group was gathered on.
Mo Rigen turned into the Grey Wolf and bit down on the ropes, coiling them around a large rock, while asking in a quiet voice, “The corpse ghost army is currently approaching this area. Where did Liu Fei go?”
In reality, after that day when Hongjun had been possessed, Liu Fei bid farewell to them and headed off on his own. Li Jinglong didn’t have the effort to spare to figure out where he went, but he guessed that he was more or less hiding in the area. Or perhaps, he was tailing the corpse ghost army, observing their movements.
“In a bit, it’ll be up to you,” Li Jinglong said. “Hongjun, as soon as the corpse ghost army passes through here, use your throwing knives to slice the snowy peaks of the two sides and bring them down.”
Hongjun stood at the edge of the cliff, spreading his palms open. The four Immortal-Slaying Throwing Knives became one, turning into a glaive, and he nodded.
Ashina Qiong was greatly taken aback, and he looked at Hongjun in a new light.
“Can you use magic now?” the Grey Wolf asked worriedly.
Hongjun replied, “I’m already fully recovered, everyone, no need to worry.”
Li Jinglong observed the surrounding geography for a moment, before continuing, “There are a few places along the cliffside that can be used as footholds. In a bit, I’ll count on you guys.”
Everyone nodded, before turning their gazes into the distance. The rays of the dying sun were as red as blood, and bit by bit, it slowly sank below the horizon. A black wave appeared at the edge of the horizon, as if there were millions of soldiers and riders present, coming towards the end of the Great Wall.
A whole two hundred thousand strong corpse ghost army! The army rushed across the desolate Gobi towards the Great Wall like the tide, before colliding into it with an earth-shaking crash!
A-Tai was struck completely dumb at that, but Ashina Qiong began to chuckle, saying, “This group of yaoguai isn’t trying to avoid being noticed at all.”
“A two hundred thousand strong army,” Mo Rigen said. “No matter what city it is, as soon as the iron boot descends upon it, it will be crushed to death.”
Li Jinglong suddenly spoke. “Hongjun.”
Hongjun turned to look towards Li Jinglong.
The rays of the setting sun shone across the two of them, shining its light on Li Jinglong’s handsome face. He seemed to have something to say as he looked at Hongjun.
“They’ve come!” Mo Rigen interrupted the words that hadn’t made their way out of Li Jinglong’s mouth yet.
Hongjun immediately turned to look into the valley, only to see the corpse ghost army collide into and flatten a large portion of the Great Wall, before swarming in from that opening. The vanguard had already, without a shred of hesitation, rushed into the valley. Right after, the sky itself changed color as a cold wind blew at them, and with the wild wind was a snowstorm that seemed to blanket the heavens and earth!
“It’s not yet time!” Li Jinglong latched firmly onto Hongjun’s hand. In that instant, the ground shuddered, and the riders that flooded into the valley increased in number. Everyone standing on the cliffside held their breaths.
The Grey Wolf suddenly let out a low howl, its pupils instantly contracting as it saw, with the last ray of that dim sunlight, two warhorses amidst the main troops crossing the Great Wall.
A large warrior was sitting atop one of the warhorses, his face covered by his metal helmet. On the other warhorse was riding a lithe youth clad in a black scout’s uniform - it was Lu Xu!
moon: ASHINA QIONG HAS FINALLY ARRIVED
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), moon.