Xiao Xia only realized she was practically half-naked after seeing Ruan Zhan leaving weirdly. Although she was already alone at this point, she still felt desperately awkward.
However, she knew something must have happened. That was a woman’s scream earlier. Therefore, there was no time to worry about her violated chastity. She hurriedly got dressed and prepared to offer help at any moment.
Did that little ghost find its way here?
The tattered banner was at the door. She knew it could absorb souls and spirits wouldn’t dare approach. Therefore, she boldly opened to door to see what was going on outside. The lights were on and everything seemed in order. This proved that the two men had made preparations in advance. This gave her an inexplicable feeling.
They had long expected this but had kept it from her. This feeling of being protected was pretty nice, but it also made her feel excluded. She knew they did it for her own good, but she didn’t want to be a burden. She was also their companion!
The regular thumping sounded against the glass once more. This made Xiao Xia feel irritation due to her unease. “What’s wrong with the seal?” She grumbled. She walked up and opened the curtains. There was indeed a thin strip of darkness dangling in front of the window. When the wind blew, it knocked against the window.
She stretched her hand out to grab the drifting strip, but felt a clammy and soft sensation. It was like…a person’s twisted limb!
“Is it the window seal?” A rigid voice suddenly sounded by her ear.
She hurriedly withdrew her hand in fright, but before she could get away from the window, a black little face swiftly leaned in. At the same time, a twisted little hand suddenly grabbed at her!
She instinctively leapt back. At the same time, thanks to her Bodhisattva amulet, the fiendish little hand shrunk back from her neck as though burnt. However, it was clearly different from other ghosts, and also from the previous time it tried to harm her. No ghost had ever succeeded in touching her neck through the amulet’s protection before, but it had succeeded. Furthermore, it cut the red thread loose, the amulet tumbling to the floor.
Xiao Xia didn’t have time to pick it up and instead leapt towards the tattered banner. She felt a gust of wind behind her. By the time she turned around, she realized there was nothing there. Only the fierce mountain wind blew into the room, making everything in the room flutter about.
Another cry of help sounded from the open window.
This time, Xiao Xia could tell it was a male voice, possibly an aged one. The voice only rang out once before falling silent. The silence was extremely ominous.
Xiao Xia stood anxiously by the tattered banner. She once again faced a difficult choice. She wanted to shout for Ruan Zhan’s help. He could definitely hear her in this silent night. At least she could draw his attention. However, she also knew what he was facing at the moment. She was afraid of distracting him and putting him in danger.
This was even more so for Wan Li. He had no spirit power, and was just a brave man with brimming yang energy. Ruan Zhan had probably put him on watch or support duty. He also didn’t have any spirit treasures in hand, only the peachwood sword from Bloody Mary’s case back then. Calling him over would only harm him.
However, she also recognized the voice as that of the entertaining and amiable old man. She couldn’t just ignore it!
She hesitated for a second before grabbing the tattered banner. Only now did she realize how heavy the slightly red golden banner was. It actually didn’t budge when she pulled. She didn’t know how Ruan Zhan wielded it with one hand normally. Regardless, she wasn’t able to pick it up. She could only drag it along the floor to the window.
The thin strip was still hanging by the window. The stench of blood rode on the mountain wind. Xiao Xia resisted the urge to vomit and squinted her eyes to look outside.
The snowstorm had stopped at some point. The ground was covered in a layer of white. Although there was no moonlight, the room’s light reflected off the white snow, allowing Xiao Xia to see the vast courtyard. A dark shadow was walking in the snow.
He was walking very, very slowly, as though in slow-motion. There was also the sense he was showing off. He was tall and thin, with hair stretching to his waist. He wore a white robe that dragged along the floor, seeming to blend in with the snow. Or perhaps “he” was a “she”. Regardless, this wasn’t the little ghost that attacked Xiao Xia. She dragged something along the floor with one hand. Upon careful examination, it was a person. That person was facing downwards, and was limp like a rag. One leg was in the “person’s” hand.
Although she didn’t see his face, Xiao Xia immediately realized who he was. She almost cried out loud.
That “person” seemed to know Xiao Xia had seen her. She also seemed to purposefully be showing this scene to Xiao Xia, and actually slowly turned around.
There were at least a hundred meters between them and the night was dark. She shouldn’t have been able to see the other party’s face, but Xiao Xia was able to. Or perhaps that “person” wanted her to see.
It was an extremely beautiful woman that didn’t belong to this world. She was indescribably tender and beautiful. Yet that face which could stun the world bore a cruel smile. The juxtaposition resulted in an absolutely seductive charm. At that moment, Xiao Xia understood what a vixen truly was. This feeling would make one die willingly, without anything in exchange.
Even as a woman, she had such an urge. She knew men would become completely subservient in front of this!
“If you don’t come, this elder will die!” That woman spoke softly and gracefully to Xiao Xia with soft lips. Despite the distance, Xiao Xia heard her clearly.
She knew it was a trap for the sake of capturing her to threaten Ruan Zhan. She was just a minor character, just a small fish. She had no value apart from being a good bait to lure in the big fish.
For the sake of Ruan Zhan’s safety, she couldn’t rush over. However, if she didn’t take the bait, this innocent old man would die. This put her at a loss with anxiety.
Those who haven’t faced a choice of life or death wouldn’t understand her emotions. No matter what she chose, someone was going to get hurt. She would rather that person be herself in the end, so there was no need for her to hesitate.
That beauty didn’t wait for Xiao Xia to make up her mind. She merely stood a moment before walking away. She wore white all over and slowly walked into the snowy mountains. Only her long hair danced wildly in the wind. It was inexplicably eerie, yet also inexplicably beautiful and otherworldly.
Xiao Xia suddenly knelt down and picked up her amulet. She then made some preparations before finally jumping out the window.
She knew if she didn’t go, she would be safe and Ruan Zhan would be as well. But she wasn’t able to harden her heart and let such a kind old man die. Ruan Zhan was naturally more important than anyone in her mind, but his death wasn’t assured if he was threatened. Elder Yan would die without a doubt if no one helped him. She believed Ruan Zhan would also make the same choice.
Besides, they needed to resolve this matter eventually. Might as well scope things out. She just had to remain calm and stall for time to give Ruan Zhan an edge. She just had to draw all the danger towards herself.
She wasn’t able to carry the tattered banner so she only had her amulet. However, she told herself not to be afraid. Ruan Zhan had said ghosts and fiends would show some caution towards courage. Be like Wan Li.
Although her intentions were good, she slipped and fell after running just a few steps. She realized it didn’t hurt. The snow was too heavy and a thick layer had formed in this brief amount of time. However, she felt her ribs were scraped. Feeling around, she found it was a piece of rock. She couldn’t help but thank the heavens as she hurriedly put it into her jacket’s pocket.
She was afraid that the little ghost would catch up once she left the tattered banner. She figured he was within a few meters, but she didn’t sense anything behind her when she ran. She believed that the person behind the scenes wouldn’t let her off so easily. There had to be a reason.
She slipped after every few steps, stumbling along in pursuit of that woman. But while that woman seemed to be walking slowly, the distance between her and the sprinting Xiao Xia remained the same. She was neither close nor far, and she slowly drew Xiao Xia into the depths of the mountain. Xiao Xia started struggling to walk. Apart from getting tired, both her pockets were also filled with stones.
After entering the depths of the mountain, she felt it was different from the level mountainside. She kept sensing something following behind her. She didn’t know what was in the mountain, whether it was ghoul or fiend. She merely remembered firmly not to look behind her and continued her pursuit of the woman. She wondered if Elder Yan would be fine after being dragged like this at his age.
“Hey, where are you dragging an old man off to?” Exhaustion and indignation caused her to become courageous.
That woman seemed not to have heard and continued walking. However, a minute later she suddenly disappeared along with the old man.
This gave Xiao Xia a fright. She hurriedly rushed over but suddenly realized she wasn’t able to move anymore.
Then, something grabbed her shoulder with a lot of force. The sensation penetrated into her bone, the pain and fear making cold sweat flow.
“Hey, where are you dragging an old man off to?” Behind her, a strange voice mimicked Xiao Xia’s shout from earlier.
Before the voice fell, it was repeated by another voice in the darkness. Then a third time, a fourth time, all accompanied by the echoes from the mountains. This made Xiao Xia feel as if the surrounding darkness was filled with weird things.
She struggled for a bit but wasn’t able to move. She could only secretly reach her left hand into her pocket. She urged herself not to be afraid, despite feeling the cold sweat trickling down her neck.
She stood still as though frozen stiff, but was actually waiting for the right moment. When she felt something climb onto her leg, she finally couldn’t endure any longer. She fished out the stone and threw it behind her. At the same time, she chanted: “Borrow Mt. Tai’s might, stone general, strike!”
A howling started up and Xiao Xia felt the grip loosen. She hurriedly ran towards the place the woman in white had disappeared.
Swishing sounds came from behind her. Xiao Xia felt something gaining on her as she ran. She kept Ruan Zhan’s warning in mind about not looking back, and merely kept throwing rocks behind her. After her left pocket was emptied, she put the stone from her right pocket into it. She felt her palm emitting heat. She snuck a glance down while running for her life. The invisible talisman Ruan Zhan had drawn for her had now appeared, glowing faintly red.
He was great! He would always protect her!
She thought of this within her terror, and also praised herself for picking up so many stones while pretending to fall along the way. However, the stones were not inexhaustible. When she hurled the last one, she convulsed with fear and felt she was about to be swallowed alive by mountain ghosts. This was because while she was happily throwing rocks earlier, she could hear from the sounds how unhappy the “people” being hit was.
As she prepared to become a snack for those mountain ghosts, things suddenly fell quiet.
This sort of feeling was rather terrifying because it signified something even more terrible was about to appear!
Xiao Xia slowly turned around but didn’t see anything. A gurgling sound came from the side.
It was the sound of flowing water. There was actually water flowing in the depths of the mountain in winter! Furthermore, it had suddenly appeared. It hadn’t been there a minute ago!
Xiao Xia walked towards the sound. When she climbed a small hill, she was surprised to see a small river below her. The noise was coming from this small river.
Xiao Xia was scared stiff. In the winter night, she could clearly see the river’s water was red, with a clump of hair floating on the surface.