The door shut with a bang in front of me and Ah Zhan. The two of us were sprawled before it in exhaustion. We could only pant for breath, unable to speak.
This was no task for humans, especially two heavily injured ones!
Before I could recover, I felt Ah Zhan prodding my shoulder. I ignored him but he patted it again. I was about to ask him what he wanted in annoyance but he spoke first.
“What, what? I should be asking you that!”
“Then why are you nudging my shoulder?”
“I didn’t. You were nudging me! You were the one…” I stopped speaking.
Silence. No one spoke and no one moved.
Something must have happened so it was best not to move rashly!
The two flashlights were by our feet. The bloodwood sword lay where their beams crossed. We could reach it by stretching out our hands but it also seemed unreachable like the edge of the world.
Our surroundings were abnormally silent. Only then did I realize that while we three youths had been struggling fiercely, Uncle Bao hadn’t made a sound.
Had something happened? But how?
Theoretically, that female ghost had lost her inner core. No matter how deep her resentment and desire for revenge, she shouldn’t be able to come up with anything. Besides, Uncle Bao was so experienced and was so cautious in doing things. He looked like he had a card up his sleeve this whole time. How could he so easily get trapped? But it seemed indeed the case. The two of us were facing away from the burial chamber, but things seemed to be amiss behind us!
The danger was right next to us!
Uncle Bao’s voice suddenly sounded out. However, it seemed to be suppressed as though he had been caught by something. He was trying to get us to help, or to warn us!
The moment his voice rang out, Ah Zhan suddenly crouched and grabbed for the bloodwood sword. Yet his fingers had just touched it when he suddenly fell backwards and was then dragged into the air.
I was startled and looked over. I saw Ah Zhan hanging in midair. Because the flashlights had fallen to the floor and the burial chamber’s ceiling was extremely high, the light couldn’t reach the top. Therefore, I couldn’t see the top half of Ah Zhan’s body. Only his desperately struggling legs were visible, but they merely swung about uselessly in the air.
Wrapped around him and hanging in front of me was a thick cluster of long, black hair. It seemed to be growing from the ceiling. It had silently grown everywhere while we were struggling with the doors. It had grown long enough to reach our shoulders. The hair swayed silently without any wind, and had been patting my shoulders.
My first instinct was to leap for the bloodwood sword. However, the moment I moved the hair wrapped around my waist as if it were alive. It dragged me into the air!
It wrapped around me tightly, making it hard for me to breathe. My rib started hurting again. I could only grab at the hair around my waist with my good hand to maintain my balance. It felt cold, silky and clammy and also felt as if it were moving, making my scalp turn numb!
I forced down the wave of nausea and grabbed onto the hair as hard as I could. At the same time, I looked around at my surroundings. I saw Ah Zhan across from me. Since we were hanging at the same height, I could finally see his situation.
He was a little worse off than me. The black hair was wrapped around his neck, but he held onto the part above his head with his uninjured hand. This way, his entire body weight was suspended by his arm, preventing him from being hanged. Despite this, the black hair didn’t loosen, preventing him from doing anything else.
I didn’t speak, but looked at him questioningly. Due to the bond we’ve developed from childhood, he understood that I was asking Uncle Bao’s whereabouts.
He gestured below with his chin.
I looked down and the pitch-black coffin filled my vision.
Ever since we entered the chamber, we had noticed the coffin lid was open. However, we never had the chance to examine what was inside. Now that we were hanging above it and there happened to be a flashlight perched on the side, we were able to see the situation clearly.
According to Uncle Bao’s judgment, the clothing of the female ghost and her handmaid indicated this tomb was at least a century old. However, the pale yellow silk inside the coffin was still bright and fresh, just like those beautiful red clothes. It seemed to have been made just yesterday. The exquisite embroidery on the clothing and the jewels and jade on its chest glittered under the light. The silk and treasures seemed to be flowing, giving one the urge to touch them.
There was a strange corpse in the coffin. It lay just like a corpse, yet its arms were sticking up, scrabbling continuously at the inside of the coffin. The scratching noises it made were extremely piercing!
Her face wasn’t visible…because someone was bent over looking at it.
The clothing and figure indicated he was Uncle Bao.
He was sprawled over the side unmoving, as though carefully examining the female corpse’s face. However, something was clearly wrong upon closer examination.
His back seemed to be tightly tensed. His hands were braced on either side of him. They didn’t seem to be for balance, but rather desperately preventing him from falling inside!
Furthermore, he didn’t speak. He didn’t say anything except for that forced groan. He was also trembling, as though an enormous suction force was coming from the coffin. He seemed to be doing his best to push himself back and escape the force!
What was wrong with Uncle Bao? What had happened to him while we were distracted? Had he been hit by the female ghost’s technique?
He seemed to be in combat with the corpse inside the coffin. Neither side had the advantage. They were in a deadlock!
I looked at Ah Zhan in shock. His teeth were gritted and he was forcibly raising his broken arm. It wasn’t clear what he wanted to do. His face was covered with sweat and he was obviously in extreme pain!
Although the situation was urgent, I knew he was being reckless. No matter how tenacious and determined he was, there was no way he could help much with his injured arm. Not only would he fail to do anything to the female ghost, he might even become crippled! Therefore, in a stroke of inspiration, I tightened my stomach muscles and swung towards him.
I first kicked at his foot to make him stop moving around. Then, after swinging harder and harder, I got closer and closer to him. I failed once, twice, three times, four times in a row. Only on the fifth time was I able to swing right up to him, almost ramming into his face!
I grabbed the fiendish hair above him to steady myself. At the same time, I placed my feet underneath his so he had a place to support himself. Since we were around the same height, I was positioned a little higher after swinging over. Therefore, he had to curl up a little. Our cooperation was based on the many times we fought side by side over the years.
This way I was able to transfer his weight onto me and prevent him from being hanged. This also freed up his uninjured hand, allowing him to try and turn the tables. We were currently at a severe disadvantage. Bao Da Tong’s fate outside was unknown. Uncle Bao and the female ghost were keeping each other in check. Ah Zhan and I hung from the ceiling like sausages!
Ah Zhan thought for a moment before drawing a seal in the air. He gestured towards the hair suspending him, as though trying to slash it. However, the hair didn’t break. Instead, it started writhing as though in pain, making me almost lose my grip. Therefore, he could only try a different spell, but it was also unsuccessful.
He was a complete noob back then and needed to think every time before drawing a seal. Nothing was working after repeated attempts. I was nervous and in pain. The fiendish hair was showing bigger and bigger reactions as though it were alive. We were covered in sweat and panting from exhaustion, but were still unable to get free.
“Hold on, I’m going to burn it with fire!” He suddenly spoke loudly, startling me.
I thought he was asking for trouble. Wouldn’t the female ghost tighten the restrictions if she knew were trying to get free? Wouldn’t it be harder for us to do anything?
“Stay here. I’ll go grab the bloodwood sword and kill that harmful thing!” He ignored my shushing motions and continued to speak loudly.
Seeing him ignore me, I almost smashed my head in frustration. Before I could do so, I suddenly realized his intent. After we got ambushed, we tried our best to escape. Therefore, we subconsciously remained silent. However, this was actually a mistake on our part. Uncle Bao and the female ghost were suppressing each other, each unable to move. No matter how much noise we made, she wouldn’t be able to do anything to us.
From what it looked like, Uncle Bao was gradually losing ground. His head was already sticking into the coffin. His hands were becoming twisted from the exertion. If we indicated that we were about to free ourselves at this time, it would motivate Uncle Bao while striking a blow at the female ghost. Things might immediately turn around!
“Alright, I’ll help you!”
Ah Zhan nodded and continued his cutting experiments. I did my best to support his body weight while spewing nonsense for psychological warfare. I also paid attention to the situation below.
Uncle Bao had slowly pulled his head back from inside the coffin. However, his arms were even more twisted and his body shook more fiercely. He was clearly giving it his all to escape. However, the opponent naturally wouldn’t give up easily. Therefore, Uncle Bao was essentially in a tug-of-war, pulling back and forth, up and down, ultimately unable to get free.
“You can do it, Uncle Bao!” I shouted, extremely worried. I felt I was about to collapse. If that happened, I would no longer be able to support Ah Zhan!
There was a spitting sound as though something was sprayed out. Before I could see clearly, Uncle Bao was sent flying backwards into the wall behind. He panted and blood trickled from his mouth as though he had suffered heavy internal injuries.
The female ghost in the coffin sat up and looked at me. The angle just so happened to allow our gazes to meet. Her face had recovered to the Japanese geisha’s form. It was scarily white while her brows were black. Her face was currently covered in red splotches. Uncle Bao had obviously spat blood onto her face!
Had he used some blood spraying spell to get free from her? Or had she injured Uncle Bao?
I looked doubtfully towards Uncle Bao. His face was tragically pale, not too far off from that of the female ghost’s. Furthermore, he seemed to be struggling to even stand up again!
His shirt had been torn open. He had only tried to move a little when something rolled out from his robes into the corner. It glittered with white light, looking like a thread of silver as it rolled in the dark. It was the female ghost’s inner core!
“Hurry and grab the Yang Eye. We definitely can’t let her get it!” Uncle Bao struggled a little but collapsed once again, unable to stand. He could only cry out towards us.
Before I could speak, the female ghost stood up with a swish and leapt from the coffin, heading towards the inner core. Perhaps she had been injured by Uncle Bao for she walked quite slowly.
“Ah Zhan!” I called out.
“Done!” Ah Zhan responded. I suddenly felt the weight shift off me as Ah Zhan landed firmly on the floor. It turns out he had finally cut the fiendish hair at this critical moment.
The female ghost had already gotten close to the Yang Eye. Ah Zhan was clearly not going to make it in time after he dropped to the ground. Therefore, as he ran in the opposite direction towards the door, I knew he was going for the bloodwood sword. As long as he had that in hand, he still had a chance even if she got her inner core back!
“The Yang Eye! We cannot let her get it back!” Uncle Bao cried himself hoarse and struggled to get up. He clearly couldn’t be any more anxious. Ah Zhan had grabbed the bloodwood sword and was flying over swiftly towards the female ghost.
She had already reached the Yang Eye. She didn’t bend over to pick it up. Instead, she stretched her hand out and the treasure glowing faintly silver was sucked into her palm!
At this moment, Ah Zhan had arrived behind her. He didn’t care about the situation and stabbed the dagger-sized bloodwood sword towards her!
“Be careful!” I shouted, afraid he was planning on gambling with his life.
There was a sudden swish and my vision grew blurry. I watched as the female ghost suddenly shrunk to the floor like a collapsed building, leaving only her beautiful clothing behind!
What was going on? Did Ah Zhan kill her? Was it over that quickly?!
The sudden turn of events kept me rooted in place. I forgot I was still hanging in the air and loosened my grip, causing me to swing back immediately.
“I hadn’t stabbed her yet!” Ah Zhan’s voice also contained surprise.
“Of course!” Uncle Bao answered. To our surprise, he easily stood up and wiped the blood from his mouth. He seemed completely uninjured.
Ah Zhan looked at him. Seeing that it seemed to have all been an act by the elder, he was a little displeased. “Although you are our senior, you should still explain a little.”
“Don’t be impatient, young man. Hear me out slowly, hehe.” Uncle Bao said good-naturedly. “I had a reason for everything. You’ll approve of my methods after hearing me out.”
“I’m all ears.”
“Hey, get me down first. I’m still hanging, you know!?” I interrupted, reminding them that I was still in trouble after making huge contributions.
Ah Zhan raised his head. He didn’t have to think about it or experiment anymore. He directly drew in the air and severed the hair around my waist. He didn’t consider my broken rib and wrist, dropping me without any ceremony from up high. Luckily I was athletic and had sturdy legs. Along with Uncle Bao bracing me, I was able to avoid breaking another rib.
“Impressive, kid. Your abilities have grown so quickly after only using it once!” Uncle Bao praised Ah Zhan.
“We’ll go save Bao Da Tong first!” I brought it up with kind intentions.
“He’s already fine.” Uncle Bao responded. “We father and son have a telepathic connection.” He turned to Ah Zhan. “In the future, you too will have a connection with people important to you.”
“But what happened here?” Ah Zhan pointed at the ground.
As he gestured, the red clothes suddenly started writhing!