Xiao Xia immediately froze. She really wanted to pounce into his arms but didn’t want to expose him. She could only stand there blankly.
She was very certain the man in front of her was Ruan Zhan. Although his appearance was that of the fiendish youth, his voice, expression, and most importantly the feeling he gave her told her that this was the person in her heart.
“Take her away.” Yang Mu You ordered.
“Shuo Yue” vaguely agreed and carried the seemingly scared stiff Xiao Xia over his shoulder towards the darkness.
Xiao Xia didn’t speak. From her angle, she could see “Shuo Yue” forming seals with one hand, indicating he was about to attack. Therefore, she held her breath and remained silent, secretly observing her surroundings to see if she could help when the time came. At least she had to run quickly to avoid getting in the way.
“Shuo Yue” walked very slowly, one step at a time. As he was walking by Yang Mu You, he suddenly struck at him with the seal, resulting in a sizzling sound.
Yang Mu You clearly hadn’t expected this and truly suffered a blow on his chest. He let out a tragic cry and crumpled to the floor like a folded piece of paper. His various joints were twisted into weird angles, making Xiao Xia’s scalp turn numb.
“Shuo Yue” swiftly kicked away the stones underfoot, revealing the bare earth beneath. He placed Xiao Xia down and pulled the cute, dainty bloodwood sword from somewhere, allowing it to expand and give off its beautiful red light. He pointed it at Yang Mu You who was struggling to get up.
“Don’t move!” He ordered coldly.
“Ruan Zhan?” Yang Mu You immediately realized the Shuo Yue in front of him wasn’t the puppet he controlled. Something must have gone wrong.
“Precisely! Weren’t you set on forcing me out? Here I am, though not when you expected.” Ruan Zhan replied calmly. “Tell your lackeys not to move. Otherwise, you should know what happens to souls struck by this sword.” As he spoke, he moved the sword a little closer. Although Yang Mu You had recovered his human form, he could only lie still on the floor.
He froze upon hearing the words before giving Shuo Ri and Shuo Xing a glance. The two who were about to charge immediately backed away.
“Xiao Xia, take out the thing in my pocket.” Ruan Zhan spoke again.
Xiao Xia didn’t dally and immediately did as asked. Taking it out, she saw it was her protective amulet. Without another word, she hung it around her neck.
“Oh, you finally got your precious amulet back?” Yang Mu You was unable to move, but still continued to mouth off.
“She could have gotten it back long ago. However, for the sake of letting you “capture” her, I had to keep it on me.”
Hearing these words, Yang Mu You’s pale face pretty much turned green. “So it turns out she was here as a spy. Turns out you discovered the secret of the flying cranes long ago. This was all a setup.”
Ruan Zhan’s silence was tacit confirmation. He had actually been really unwilling to use such a dangerous plan!
The day Xiao Xia picked him up in the rain, he had already figured out that the paper cranes were used to spy on them. However, he instantly decided not to reveal this matter and kept it as something to be used in the future. After Xiao Xia was almost strangled, he finally discussed the entire matter with her and Wan Li after making sure they weren’t being watched.
At that time, Xiao Xia was certain Yang Mu You was using her as bait to lure out Ruan Zhan. Although his intentions in creating the Flower Society were unknown, continuing to take a passive beating would lead to them being played to death. Therefore, the best defense was a good offence. As long as she pretended to get captured and used the opportunity to get some information, they could lure out Yang Mu You and figure out the real situation.
He and Wan Li had firmly been against this idea, but Xiao Xia was similarly firm. Since they truly had no better ideas, the plan took shape. To maintain in contact with Xiao Xia, he had split two parts of his own soul and attached it to her. They weren’t able to help her at all, and could only feel all the fear and danger she suffered.
His heart ached but there was no other way. He could only hope to bring everything to a close quickly.
“Summoning the spirit at Gu Yu Fang’s place was also a show arranged for me?” Yang Mu You asked again.
“That’s right. However, I didn’t expect that human leather jacket of yours.”
The possession had not been part of the plan and also worried him for a long time. Luckily Yang Mu You wanted to use Xiao Xia and so didn’t put her life at risk, merely tormenting her. Furthermore, since Ruan Zhan’s soul hadn’t been whole at that time, his performance had already drained his energy. But it also led to Yang Mu You underestimating his abilities. When he wrapped his arm around Xiao Xia earlier, he had withdrawn his divided soul and had finally become whole again.
Therefore, despite Yang Mu You immediately reacting to his ambush, it had still been successful because his abilities were underestimated.
“I was going to say, I couldn’t possibly have made such a basic mistake like failing to scatter a spirit!” Yang Mu You said smugly, angering Xiao Xia into wanting to run up and give him a couple of kicks.
“Unfortunately, you made an even bigger mistake.” Ruan Zhan struck a blow with his words.
As expected, Yang Mu You’s smiling expression changed swiftly into one that wouldn’t appear on ordinary people.
“Based on your age and ability, it’s impossible for you to warp space. How did you find this place?”
“I’m not willing to tell you, unless you tell me how we’re connected.”
“I won’t say unless I die.”
“Then we have nothing to discuss.” Ruan Zhan said, not revealing any expression. However, he was marveling at the close call in his heart. If he hadn’t placed part of his soul on Xiao Xia, he couldn’t have made it before the warped space closed up. By the time he got here through regular space, Xiao Xia would have long since turned to ash. This was a blow he couldn’t endure.
“I’m guessing when you arrived, you found the three brothers when I wasn’t paying attention. Then, you captured the lone Shuo Yue and eliminated him before moving your own soul into his body. Then what about your body?”
“None of your concern.”
“Fine. I’m guessing it’s in Wan Li’s hands since he hasn’t appeared all this time. Is he your backup plan?”
“Hong Hao Hao hasn’t appeared yet either. Isn’t she also your backup?”
“En, that’s right. As expected, we’re evenly matched opponents after all.” Yang Mu You nodded with sincere praise. He wanted to find an opportunity but realized Ruan Zhan’s arm remained pointed straight at him without relaxing in the slightest. There weren’t any openings at all. As long as he was pinned down by the bloodwood sword, the Shuo brothers remained useless.
“Hey this is really unfair! I answered so many of your little lady’s questions as she was about to die. You hid inside Shuo Yue’s body and heard everything. Now you aren’t willing to tell me anything, and plan to have me die with grievances?”
“Did you truly tell her everything?” Ruan Zhan laughed coldly. “Without considering the connection between us, did you really tell the truth about Gu Yu Fang’s tragic death? If it truly was just because her time of sacrifice had come, was there a need to make it so perverse? You didn’t only use her body as your tribute, but also used her to deal with Xiao Xia. This was because you wanted to punish her. It wasn’t because she broke her initiation oath, and it wasn’t even because she saw the whole process of you harvesting the first sacrifice’s essence. It was because when she met with Shuo Yue, she realized she wasn’t dreaming and secretly took one of the stones!”
As he spoke, he fished out a black object from his pocket with his empty hand and threw it to the floor. That small round stone seemed to grow legs as it rolled into the pile of stones and disappeared.
“That damned woman refused to say where the stone was even up to her death. I could only deal with her slowly. However, it was precisely because of her stubborn temper that made it easy to use her obsession against your little girlfriend.”
“Are you even human?” Xiao Xia recalled Gu Yu Fang’s tragic state and became enraged.
“You’re right, he isn’t human at all.” Ruan Zhan followed up. “He is a spirit who died many years ago, wanting to use someone else’s body to reincarnate. He chose the dying Yang Mu You and possessed him, turning his life around and becoming the wealthy Hong Kong merchant. Unfortunately, this merchant had gone bankrupt prior to his death, and reincarnating in someone else’s body is evil sorcery that requires a huge amount of yin blood essence as nourishment. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be possible to reincarnate as a true human. It’s like how he wasn’t able to control that body’s bones earlier and folded up like a spring. Therefore, he had to create the Flower Society to gather wealth. Also, that Hong Hao Hao definitely came from the same place as him.”
Xiao Xia was extremely astonished. This was the first time she had heard of such a thing. No wonder Ruan Zhan said Hong Hao Hao also had that newly renovated feeling, with some unfamiliarity. Perhaps she wasn’t as skilled as Yang Mu You, which made it even more obvious.
“You are really impressive, youngster! I’ve underestimated you too much!” Yang Mu You spoke through gritted teeth. Having his true self exposed by someone made him extremely angry. “If I don’t die today, you’ll be my eternal enemy. I’ll never let you have a moment of peace!”
“Don’t put it like that. You were never alive to begin with.”
Watching from the side, Xiao Xia had already started to understand the overall situation. She also understood why Ruan Zhan hadn’t made a move yet in all this time, and was exchanging barbs with Yang Mu You instead.
This Yang Mu You definitely had powerful abilities. Although he was injured, Ruan Zhan still didn’t dare act without thinking. Especially since there were still two weird speechless men staring like tigers watching prey. Therefore, Ruan Zhan was trying to provoke him.
She noticed the scene quietening down and sensed that something was about to happen at any moment. Behind his back, Ruan Zhan signaled towards her with his left hand, indicating for her to run out the door. Therefore, she started edging towards it.
“How does he absorb the blood essence?” She asked, wanting to cut the tension in the room and also find an opportunity to slip away.
“Do you know the fiend stones’ other use?” Ruan Zhan was very cooperative as he moved towards Yang Mu You’s position, leaving a bigger space for Xiao Xia. “It can be carved into the shape of a person. As long as a soul is placed inside, it’ll be able to move like a person. Apart from the muscles being a bit more rigid, there are no other flaws. It’s said that in ancient times, when relatives of the dead are unable to let go, they would find some powerful Daoist and spend a huge sum of money to buy such a stone. They would carve it in the deceased’s likeness and put their soul inside. It would be like they came back to life. However, such things were extremely rare, and existed only in rumors. Furthermore, it’s said one couldn’t get intimate with such a resurrected person. Otherwise, the blood essence would be absorbed. Do you understand now? He found these fiend stones from who knows where and carved three pretty boys, placing lecherous spirits inside to let them seduce women and naturally steal their blood essence during coupling. Afterwards, he used sorcery to have them spit the blood out like leeches onto corpse bandages for him to absorb. Harvesting yin to replenish yang? That’s just him making it sound fancy. He’s merely eating these stone people’s vomit.”
“Shut your mouth!” Yang Mu You was completely enraged. Such a sinister person completely lost his reasoning when he was completely exposed. He tried to stand up without worrying about anything else.
“Run!” Ruan Zhan shouted. Xiao Xia didn’t turn back as she burst out of the stone building before the two stone people could pounce over.