That weird infant hadn’t died thoroughly yet. As the incense stick touched its body, it let out a deafening infant’s wail. Its little monkey’s body writhed vigorously as extreme fear and unwillingness flashed in its eyes.
However, it was useless. Like a block of ice, its body swiftly melted as it came into contact with the fire. Starting from a small hole, the fire burned through it and spread. Its body split into two until both halves completely vanished, turning into green smoke.
Everyone at the scene finally let out a long breath.
We never expected to encounter and battle such a powerful fiend. Being able to emerge victorious was completely due to Uncle Bao’s planning, our cooperation and luck. If we had to do it over, the outcome would not be guaranteed!
What I thought strange was that the movements underfoot had stopped. Based on that female ghost’s emotional and sorrowful state, the death of that weird infant should have caused her to suffer a huge blow. Why was there no reaction?
Was it despair? Did a ghost have hopes?
Uncle Bao didn’t look too happy on the other side either. He remained calm and wooden despite overcoming such a powerful fiend. Even Bao Da Tong didn’t mouth off and merely cleared up the things on the floor silently. This included the incense stick that remained whole despite burning the entire time.
Ah Zhan sat for a while before making a sound of surprise. He got up and ran over to where the weird infant vanished, picking up something from the ground.
“What’s this? An origin core?” He walked over and asked, handing the object over to Uncle Bao.
It was an extremely transparent bead. If it weren’t for the sunlight’s reflection giving it a faint outline, it would be impossible to see there was something in his palm. It was pure like a dewdrop in water, in complete harmony with the world. Therefore, no one had noticed it lying on the floor.
Uncle Bao looked carefully at the bead and gave it a sniff. “There is fiendish energy upon it. It must have dropped when the weird infant was refined. How did you spot it? It’s true that you have an innate Yin Yang Eye, but I never thought your natural abilities would be so strong. You can even see hidden objects. How incredible!”
“What on earth is it?” Bao Da Tong stretched his head over.
“This…theoretically it should be the refined inner core of a demon. Yet I don’t understand why an ordinary ghost would refine one. Furthermore, it’s so pure even though she probably died a long time ago. However, I’m guessing the reason that weird infant could run out during the day was because of this treasure.” Uncle Bao explained.
“But isn’t it a huge risk giving your inner core to someone else?” Bao Da Tong asked.
“Therefore, that female ghost and the weird infant must have been related when they were still alive. Perhaps they truly are mother and son.”
“Should we go take a look?” Bao Da Tong asked.
“Uncle, we still have friends who are trapped.” Ah Zhan interrupted. “If they haven’t died, I must beg uncle to see things through to the end.”
“Don’t worry. This daddy will definitely accomplish what I promised your daddy!” Bao Da Tong interrupted.
Ah Zhan ignored him and looked towards Uncle Bao.
Uncle Bao nodded to him and slowly walked over to me.
He cautiously made a few circles around the hole in the ground as if trying to judge the situation below. He only spoke after a while. “This hole is too small. We won’t be able to enter and the situation below is unclear.”
“Are we going to clear out the nest?” Bao Da Tong said a little excitedly. This made me feel a little more resentful of him. My friends’ fates were unknown and my heart was hanging in suspense. I didn’t know how they were, how Nana was. How could he make it seem as if this were a game?
“There is ghostly aura, but it’s mixed and faint. I think it’s best if you checked it out first.” Uncle Bao said.
Although Bao Da Tong was a little thinner than Ah Zhan and I, he was still an average youth. There was no way he could fit in such a tiny hole. Besides, he had clearly said the situation below wasn’t clear. How could Uncle Bao be willing to use his son as a lab rat?!
“Isn’t it too dangerous?” Ah Zhan spoke my thoughts out loud.
“It’s fine.” Uncle Bao smiled. He grabbed the rusty-looking “sword of seven colors” from Bao Da Tong and marked the ground under my feet. “Wan Li, you can leave the circle now.”
I moved to step out but realized the red circle had already vanished, as if it had never existed. My legs had already turned numb from forcefully standing in place for so long.
The moment I left, Bao Da Tong sat down cross-legged in the spot.
“It’s not like the ground beneath your feet is precious. This just happens to be the perfect spot.” He explained with a smirk. Without waiting for me to retort, he slowly closed his eyes like an old monk and swiftly became as still as a rock. I couldn’t help but be a little impressed. Although he was annoying, he was able to adjust his physical and mental state extremely quickly. He clearly had an extraordinary EQ.
Seeing that Bao Da Tong was ready, Uncle Bao took out a piece of talisman paper from the large sack he carried. However, he didn’t burn it this time but merely stuck it on top of Bao Da Tong’s head. Then he took three steps back and traced the air with the sword. He made the strange, dance-like steps as before, slowly waving his arms, spinning, stomping…
He chanted something very softly. It wasn’t like before when he was dealing with the weird infant. This time it seemed as if he was talking in his sleep. I was a little surprised at this. Although I knew their sect was different from Ah Zhan’s, I hadn’t expected such a big difference. Ah Zhan drew seals in the air with rather carefree and indifferent movements. The Bao father and son’s moves were ritualistic, complicated, and even a little comical.
Uncle Bao continued to chant, his level tone making me feel sleepy. Right as my eyelids grew heavy, he suddenly jumped up and stabbed the sword towards Bao Da Tong’s chest!
This scene almost made me yell out loud. Luckily, Ah Zhan held me back. Only then did I see that Uncle Bao’s sword had stopped in front of his son’s chest. His move earlier had been too vicious and swift. I hadn’t expected him to have such precise control, and thought he had been possessed by something.
The sword’s tip lightly pricked where Bao Da Tong’s heart was. Although it didn’t harm him, it pressed down upon his chest, separated only by a thin layer of clothing.
Uncle Bao continued to chant, though I couldn’t clearly hear what he was saying. However, I could sense he was chanting a different type of spell. Around a minute passed when the sword suddenly began to glow and vibrate, giving off a buzzing sound.
“Alright, go ahead. Don’t play around, hurry back quickly!” Uncle Bao actually started speaking to the sword. His tone was both amicable and worried, making me stare in astonishment.
“Wait.” Ah Zhan watched as Uncle Bao wrapped a red rope around the sword’s hilt and started lowering it into the opening that was less than a foot in diameter. He seemed to have understood Uncle Bao’s actions and hurriedly stopped him. Then, without hesitation he went prone on the floor and threw the bloodwood sword in his hand into the hole.
“Ah Zhan, what are you doing?” I was startled but it was too late to stop him. The bloodwood sword was something his father had left for him. It never left his side, so why did he throw it into the hole?
“Oh, Ah Zhan, there was no need to do that. That’s a treasure of the Daoist world, you know.” Uncle Bao seemed to understand Ah Zhan’s intent and said in a gratified tone.
“I can retrieve it later!” Ah Zhan returned to his original spot as he spoke. He fell silent as he watched Uncle Bao carefully lower that sword into the hole. Once it was fully inside, he slowly loosened the rope in his hands.
His expression was solemn as though the rope held his most precious thing. His expression subconsciously revealed extreme care as he listened carefully. He lowered the rope until he reached the very end before stopping and holding it tightly!
“Bao Da Tong, he…” I looked at Ah Zhan and couldn’t help but ask.
Bao Da Tong had been sitting like a sculpture for a long while. He didn’t even seem to be breathing. Along with Uncle Bao’s unusual behavior, I suddenly realized that Bao Da Tong might have astral projected his soul onto the sword to investigate the situation below. This was also why Ah Zhan threw the bloodwood sword down first. He wanted to use its natural ability to repel evil to clear the path for Bao Da Tong!
Ah Zhan nodded and looked back at the hole.
There was a couple of tugs on the rope as if it was trying to go further. Uncle Bao leaned closer into the opening and did his best to stretch the rope out. However, he stopped after his hand reached the hole and left it there for a long time. Then, he gave it a couple of tugs.
“Come back!” He said and started stepping back. The rope slackened as if it were alive. It was as if someone invisible was pulling at it as it coiled neatly in circles. Then, the sword appeared in the opening.
Uncle Bao stepped forward and grabbed the sword. He looked it up and down in concern before letting out a sigh and smile of relief. He pointed the tip at the “human sculpture’s” chest. There was another glow and vibration as Bao Da Tong slowly regained consciousness.
“The situation is rather complex.” He only took half a breath before he started speaking, afraid of being interrupted. It was clear this person loved to speak.
“Oh? How so?” Seeing Ah Zhan and I remain silent, Uncle Bao could only play along with his son.
“There are three ghosts and a dozen or so enchanted, living people!”
“We’ll head down right away!”
Bao Da Tong’s words immediately got a response from me and Ah Zhan.
He looked at us smugly, as if asking “I thought you guys didn’t like speaking!?”
“Da Tong, stop beating about the bush. Spit it out!” Uncle Bao urged, his tone a little reproachful. “It’s proper for Daoists like us to help others in need. How could you act petty at this time?”
Bao Da Tong stuck out his tongue and slowly started to speak.
It turns out there was a sizeable tomb under the ground. It stretched out beneath the pool of water but was rather well made. Despite the many years, it was only damp and showed no signs of water leakage.
There were three spirits in the tomb. One was the beautifully dressed female ghost. She had remained seated blankly without any reaction the whole time Bao Da Tong was down there. Another one seemed to be a handmaid who had been buried with her. The third was a newly deceased male ghost of a young man. That one was probably Zhao Jiang. Because Ah Zhan had thrown the bloodwood sword down, they had been forced against the wall not daring to move. Furthermore, they seemed completely harmless.
“We have to get in somehow while it’s still daytime. Otherwise, how are we supposed to save our friends?” I asked anxiously. “How about widening this entrance?”
“I told you, it’s a huge stone slab underneath. The waterproofing is also extremely well made, so it’s not easy to dig open unless you blow it up. Or unless you have that weird infant’s ability to burst through the ground!”
“Just tell us what we should do!” Ah Zhan was also very anxious.
“I saw a grave robber’s burrow while I was down there. It seems this tomb has long since been visited by grave robbers. There must be a hidden entrance around three hundred meters away from here. If we want to go in, that would be the best way.”
“Great, let’s get going!” I turned to head out but was dragged back by Uncle Bao.
“Slow down, young man. Don’t be rash. We have to make the necessary preparations. At the very least, you’ll need something to light the way, right?”
He was right. Ah Zhan and I hurriedly fished out several large flashlights from our abandoned things. I felt ashamed. Had we been calmer last night and brought some more equipment, perhaps we’d be in a better position now.
Meanwhile, Uncle Bao took out several small flags, chanted a spell and carefully placed them around the hole.
Bao Da Tong was very good with directions so we quickly found the grave robber’s entrance. It was truly small and we could only crawl inside, which was a struggle with my broken bones. Ah Zhan was probably suffering too, based on his heavy breathing.
After making our way inside, we realized the tomb was very big. It seemed to have been made by a rather wealthy family. Since it had been penetrated long ago, there was actually some wind blowing through it. The inside was also very clean and there were no signs that it had been plundered.
“How weird for it to have been constructed beneath a pool in the valley. Theoretically speaking, this is an extremely inauspicious place.” Bao Da Tong always managed to speak my doubts. “The Yin energy is heavy here and water is also a Yin element. Layering Yin upon Yin in such a deep valley. Wouldn’t the person buried here be doomed to never reincarnate? Also, also, this doesn’t make sense if the deceased was someone close. But if it was an enemy, why construct such a nice tomb? Truly, it gets stranger and stranger!”
“Won’t we know by asking?” Ah Zhan felt Bao Da Tong was too fussy and was a little impatient. He went ahead to the second burial chamber.
The moment we entered, I almost cried out!
Under the beams of the flashlights, I saw dense rows of people seated together. They appeared like a dark mass, all in identical postures with identical expressions. They stared unblinkingly in the same direction, like preserved corpses buried together with the deceased, but also like a bunch of human puppets. Someone a little more timid would probably have been scared to death.
“Nana!” I immediately recognized one of the girls in the middle. It was the person I fancied, Ah Zhan’s girlfriend.
“I told you, young people should keep their cool.” Uncle Bao held me back once again. “They aren’t in danger for now. Let’s go further inside first.”
Unable to argue, I was pulled along into the final burial chamber.
This one was extremely large, but also extremely empty. Apart from a large coffin, there were only the three spirits.
The bloodwood sword was at the entrance of this chamber. Therefore, two of the spirits crouched in the corner facing the wall. One was a thin woman dressed in ancient clothing who was curled up indistinctly. The other was equally frail but was looking at us anxiously. It was Zhao Jiang!
The third one was dressed beautifully in red clothing. The color seemed as if it would never fade. Her long hair covered her face.
“Is this yours?” Uncle Bao who had been urging for patience this entire time suddenly pulled out that bead.
It had been almost invisible under the sun but it revealed the luster of a pearl inside this dark tomb.
The third spirit remained silent.
Uncle Bao asked once again and took a step forward.
This time, she stirred and suddenly stood up tall!