Snowflakes fell scattered on the river surface like cherry blossom petals, but were swiftly swallowed by the redness.
This had to be an illusion, right?
But there was truly a head bobbing up and down. In the darkness, she wasn’t able to confirm whether it was the person she was looking for. The old man still had a good head of hair, but it hadn’t been that thick.
Steady! She had to remain calm!
She warned herself and relied on her life and death experiences with Ruan Zhan to walk forward. She felt something soft and slippery underfoot that didn’t feel like snow. It was as though she was stepping on something alive. A sort of revulsion and numbness spread from her feet to her heart, making her grit her teeth before she could continue forward.
The beautiful vixen had already vanished without a trace. Xiao Xia, feeling about while she moved forward, was left behind with the flowing river of blood. Only after getting closer did Xiao Xia realize the blood river stretched into the darkness. It appeared extremely abruptly and the surface of the water was deathly still. However, the gurgling sound made it seem like the water was flowing. Therefore, instead of a blood river, it was actually just a scene of red.
Xiao Xia vigilantly approached the clump of hair. She could already see that it wasn’t the old man’s head. She knew it was the thing causing mischief, leaving her with two choices: pretend not to have noticed or expose it.
Whoever the opponent was, their ultimate target was Ruan Zhan. If she ignored that monster, it would naturally come after her. Furthermore, she didn’t want her desire to save someone to put him in danger again. Therefore, she braced herself and walked over.
She stretched out her right hand, wanting to grab onto the hair. However, the hair suddenly moved and drifted a little further. Xiao Xia reached out again and it drifted again. Gradually, it drifted towards the center of the river. Xiao Xia crouched down and picked up a huge rock from the snow. She exerted herself and flung it over viciously. There was a splash as the rock landed heavily in the river, but it didn’t sink right away as though it needed time to react. It only sunk after a while.
It’s an illusion!
She was very certain, but still didn’t dare to act rashly. She clenched her left hand and probingly stepped into the “river”.
When her foot entered the water, the ice cold river immediately soaked her trousers and flooded into her leather boots. The cold made her teeth chatter. Despite knowing it was an illusion, she still couldn’t stop her brain from telling her she was going to freeze to death.
She persisted and waded forward, reminding herself to ignore the “water’s” resistance. She rushed to the clump of hair as fast as she could. Yet it seemed to be alive as it drifted back and forth, preventing her from grabbing it. This lasted until she took a breath and grabbed over violently.
It was wet yet extremely light. This made Xiao Xia almost tip over face first. Only now did she see there wasn’t anything under the hair. It was just a clump of hair that floated on the river surface like a plant.
She let out a breath of relief but was also a little annoyed. She wanted to throw the hair away but realized it was stuck to her, as though it was growing out of her hand.
She was extremely startled and shook her hand with all her might. However, she wasn’t able to get free! The hair started swelling up like a balloon before raising up towards her.
“How about rescuing me!?” A face appeared from beneath the hair. It was exceptionally beautiful with white, lustrous snow-like skin. The lips that seemed without blood stretched in a fathomless smile.
“Sure, have a taste of this first!” Xiao Xia found calm within the terror. She stretched her tightly held hand out and directly pressed it in the center of the beauty’s brows. The talisman drawn by Ruan Zhan and her amulet flashed, one red and one yellow ray of light!
A piercing and tragic scream echoed through the mountains. It sounded like metal scraping against ice.
Xiao Xia looked as if she was about to throw up as she held the beauty’s head. It had deflated like a leaking ball. It finally got free of her palm, allowing Xiao Xia to get away from that hairy thing.
Since she knew something was up with the hair, she naturally made some preparations. These monsters never understood that when things reached an extreme, they may swing in the opposite direction. After being frightened half to death, she would eventually give birth to courage.
“Beauty isn’t enough without a pleasant voice.” She mocked. She turned, planning to continue her search.
“Then is my voice beautiful?” A woman asked from behind. The voice appeared too suddenly and startled Xiao Xia into turning around.
In front of her stood another woman. Or rather, she was floating since her feet didn’t touch the ground. They were indistinct. She had the same face as the one who dragged Elder Yan away, as well as the one that stuck to her hand. She had the same long, black hair and tall, slender physique. She even had the same white robes that dragged along the ground. However, the three clearly gave off a feeling they were completely different.
“Who are you? What do you want?!” Xiao Xia mustered up her courage and asked.
“Don’t you know?” The woman or female ghost said. “Initially, your death wasn’t absolutely necessary….” She waved her hand which held the beauty’s head that was now completely flat. “However, you are quite impressive. You’ve wounded her so heavily, and must pay the price!”
Her face didn’t change but gave off the feeling she was smiling. Her voice was also smiling, a very beautiful voice without any rigidness. The seductive red lips trembled slightly, not lining up with the words. However, what she said could clearly be understood, as though that face was just a mask. It was indescribably beautiful yet also indescribably weird.
Xiao Xia wasn’t able to react to it all. As she was about to speak, she realized she had become frozen in ice at some point. It wasn’t just her limbs. Her lips couldn’t move and her eyes couldn’t blink anymore.
“You’ve been frozen in ice by me. What a perfect work of art! When your lover arrives, who knows how much he will admire you! I’m off to welcome him.” She still spoke with a light yet sinister tone. Then, ignoring Xiao Xia’s anxiety, she slowly turned translucent and vanished like the drifting snow.
Xiao Xia couldn’t move or speak. She felt as if she had been buried. She wasn’t breathing, but also didn’t feel any pain. She didn’t even know if she was still alive!
Yet whether or not she was alive, she couldn’t just wait here. She couldn’t let Ruan Zhan fall into danger!
This thought was extremely fierce, making her hand clench tightly around her amulet despite being unable to move!
Ruan Zhan followed his instincts as he crept through the darkness.
He had the ability to easily sense abnormalities and didn’t have to scout around. Therefore, he just chanted a couple of spells, marked his eyelids and made a silent beeline forwards.
When he reached the end of the winding hallway, he stopped. He sensed that someone was inside the staff quarters. Although there wasn’t any noise, there was a human aura and an indescribable burnt smell and chill.
Was that ghost attacking someone?!
The door was extremely sturdy and there were no windows. Normal vision wouldn’t penetrate the wooden door so he could only close his eyes and gather his mind. A few seconds later, he “saw” a female staff member behind the door. She was completely naked and trembling violently in a corner. There was a clump of black smoke surrounding her like a piece of clothing, dragging her back and forth!
No honest man could see this scene and calmly ponder his next move. He would definitely break the door down. Ruan Zhan was the same way.
He kicked the door down and stabbed his sword at the black smoke!
There was a tearing sound and a mouse-like squeak. The black smoke suddenly dispersed and sank into the wall. The sword broke and the girl tipped towards Ruan Zhan.
He subconsciously supported her, but the moment he touched her body, he suddenly felt a thread of ice stabbing into his heart. It was like he was stabbed in the chest. His hand twitched and he almost dropped the girl and the half of the wooden sword in his hand.
He ignored the fierce pain and put the girl on the bed. Blood still trickled from his mouth despite him trying to suppress it.
Turns out there was a scheme!
This didn’t seem like the actions of a ghost. Such a sinister plan. Luckily his powers had been unsealed more, and automatically protected his organs. Otherwise, he might have immediately fallen and been at the mercy of any fiends.
He had given the bloodwood sword to Wan Li. The ghost this time was very fierce He wasn’t sure how much of its powers it had recovered since being captured last time. Furthermore, it also had Kenji Ganmura’s willpower. Wan Li was just an ordinary man who was brave and brimming with yang energy. He couldn’t let his friend take risks.
Wan Li stood in the center of the hallway. He could act as backup and block off escape attempts while also rushing back to Xiao Xia if anything happened there. This way he could protect himself and others as well.
The sword in Ruan Zhan’s hand was just a spell-enhanced peachwood sword. Although its might wasn’t sufficient, he had his own powers. There shouldn’t be any problems. He had just been too rash due to his righteous anger and fell into a trap.
Despite this, he knew the ghost had also been wounded by the peachwood sword. Although the sword was broken, the ghost was also heavily hurt, hiding in the wall not daring to come out. He was able to tell with his strike that the little ghost was far from recovered, and hadn’t completely digested Kenji Ganmura’s soul yet. It also wasn’t smart or powerful enough to set up such an ambush!
The person behind the scenes who was helping Yang Mu You. Why did he come so quickly? Why did the little ghost still dare come out in that person’s presence?
Many doubts flashed through Ruan Zhan’s mind in several seconds. However, he was still focused on that wall.
He slowly approached and raised his arm. He could sense the black smoke wanting to escape but it was pinned in place by the upper portion of the sword and the spells upon it. It could only shiver irregularly, seeming extremely frightened.
Ruan Zhan didn’t show the slightest bit of sympathy. He was always unfeeling when facing off against evil spirits. He drew symbols in the air and chanted a spell. A fiery red glyph shot towards the wall.
A woman’s voice rang out. The windowless room was suddenly filled with a blizzard. The unexpected brightness obscured Ruan Zhan’s sight for a moment. By the time he was able to see again, the black smoke had already vanished.
He didn’t hesitate. Fishing out several talismans from his pocket, he stuck them on the unconscious girl and immediately charged out.
“Wan Li.” He called.
“Here.” At such moments, Wan Li was dependable and absolutely not his usual sloppy self.
“There’s a traumatized girl in the last room. Go.” He instructed briefly. “Gather everyone up. I’m going to get Xiao Xia.”
Wan Li agreed and left immediately. However, after two steps he stopped. “Take the bloodwood sword!” He had seen the broken sword in his hand and the suspicious bloodstain around his mouth.
Ruan Zhan shook his head and didn’t take it. He left without looking back.
He knew Wan Li understood his intent. They were able to communicate without words.
It wasn’t as simple as a ghost this time. The opponent had more people and strength on average so they had to spread their strength out.
It was too chaotic at this moment and he didn’t have time to think things through carefully. He only knew the opponent was creating a diversion and trying to split them up. Wan Li could protect many people with the bloodwood sword here and prevent the ghost from harming others. This way, he could focus his attention on the boss battle.
The snowstorm just now had been too weird. This was probably the source of his unease earlier when looking out the window with Xiao Xia. That woman was too abnormal. He was afraid the tattered banner wouldn’t be able to protect Xiao Xia.
He charged into the room and saw everything was calm. However, the tattered banner had been moved to the window and Xiao Xia was gone.
He was extremely anxious and rushed over. Suddenly, he sensed a hint of blood.
On the wall underneath the window, several eye-catching words were written: white-clothed beauty, don’t follow me, it’s a trap!
The bright red words were clearly written in blood. Thinking of the sudden snow and the mysterious laughter, along with Kenji Ganmura’s Japanese background, he muttered two words to himself. “Yuki-Onna!”