While Xiao Xia struggled in vain within the quiet yet warm darkness, she didn’t realize she had yet to be completely swallowed by the jaws of death. This was because someone kept desperately trying to pull her back, refusing to let her leave this world.
The moment she had closed her eyes, a person who had been invisible the entire time appeared. He placed a restriction around the small stream, blocking out any prying eyes. Then, the invisible person stretched out two strong arms and pulled her from the water and into an embrace.
She was really cold! Like a block of ice!
Ruan Zhan, who had arrived in the nick of time, thought as the fear of losing her assaulted him once again! He could endure anything except this. The raincoat ghost had placed the chill poison she had accumulated beneath the water for many years into Xiao Xia. This was why she could only silently wait to drown, unable to struggle or cry for help. If he had been a step slower, they would have become citizens of two different worlds. Even if an immortal descended there wouldn’t be any solution. Luckily, there was still a chance now.
Looking at the gradually fading yin aura around Xiao Xia’s head, he immediately drew blood from his middle finger with his teeth and traced a symbol on her brow, fixing her spirit in place and preventing her from leaving. Then, he carried her out of the water to resuscitate her!
He pushed against her stopped heart and performed mouth-to-mouth upon her cold lips. He injected spirit power into the top of her head. Ruan Zhan used all his magic and medical knowledge to save Xiao Xia’s life. He wasn’t willing to give up no matter what. Only when she finally spat out several mouthfuls of water, coughed violently and started breathing normally again did he pull her back into his arms!
“I thought you might not be able to find me!” Xiao Xia choked, hot tears trickling down her cold face.
When she had been dragged by the strong suction, she had been indescribably terrified. She didn’t know where she was being pulled to, and was afraid what awaited her would be inescapable slavery. Luckily, what awaited her after the blinding light was Ruan Zhan’s warm embrace. Only then did she realize that she had been pulled from the depths of despair!
“I’ll be able to find you, even if you’re no longer in this world.” Ruan Zhan stroked her soaked hair.
“I kept worrying I messed up the trail.”
“You did extremely well. It was my fault. I’m sorry.” Ruan Zhan restrained his impulse to keep holding on and released her as she gradually grew warmer. He was filled with guilt.
Xiao Xia had hesitated a long time after being frightened by the white ghostly hands and the witchcraft in the water basin. In the end, she had decided to tell Ruan Zhan everything.
She trusted him and knew he would bring about a miracle. Therefore, she decided not to hide anything from him. The two of them would discuss things, no matter the challenge. She wouldn’t let the woman in the water drive a wedge between them!
However, she didn’t know if they were being watched and didn’t dare tell Ruan Zhan directly. Therefore, she insisted on having Ruan Zhan stay with her a little longer as he was in a rush to look for the weirdo in the forest. She had also pulled his hand and made him sit very close to her.
What she actually did was take the opportunity to write in his palm: something urgent, needs to be said in secret!
Ruan Zhan immediately understood Xiao Xia’s meaning. Therefore, he silently used a spell of concealment. Anyone watching would see them sitting there holding hands and talking quietly. In reality, they had gone to the second floor under the cover of the spell to thoroughly analyze everything.
In the end, under Xiao Xia’s insistence, they had gone with the “mantis stalking the cicada while the oriole is behind” strategy. If Ruan Zhan couldn’t find the weirdo before midnight and resolve Wan Li’s Gu, they would have to go behind enemy lines! Xiao Xia really hoped they didn’t have to resort to this plan, but things had turned out this way in the end.
Based on what they had previously discussed, Xiao Xia pretended to keep Ruan Zhan in the dark while becoming the bride. She was the little cicada. Ruan Zhan would secretly hide and wait for the mastermind to appear before capturing him. He would force him to undo Wan Li’s Gu or kill him directly to resolve it!
However, that person wasn’t simple. Based on the current situation, he could be called an expert in the Gu arts. Therefore, to avoid being spotted, Ruan Zhan had to keep some distance from Xiao Xia.
The fanny pack containing her special dowry didn’t only hold talismans. The outer side-pocket was filled with fine sand. The sand was mixed with enchanted ash specially made by Ruan Zhan. Every few steps, Xiao Xia would secretly sprinkle some on the ground, leaving a trail for Ruan Zhan.
This was similar to “Yang Mu You’s” paper crane tracking method, but it wasn’t quite as wicked. It didn’t need any human blood. It just needed some special ingredients and a special talisman. Half of that paper would be burned to ashes, mixed with fine sand and placed on the person to be tracked. The other half of the paper would be folded into a bird by the person who drew the talisman. Then, it would be enchanted to fly. It would automatically follow the trail of sand and find the person being tracked!
However, they hadn’t expected that this unknown tribe would have a tradition of “finding the bride”. In the end, due to Xiao Xia running around and hiding, she had accidentally spilled some of the sand and messed up the previous tracks!
Ruan Zhan had just learned this tracking method not too long ago and wasn’t too familiar with it. Therefore, all these factors made Ruan Zhan late, almost letting Xiao Xia’s soul reach the underworld!
Actually, she had already been on the path to the underworld, but was forcibly dragged back by Ruan Zhan!
“No, it was my fault.” Xiao Xia said hurriedly. She knew the reason Ruan Zhan was late was due to the tracks being muddied. No one could be blamed for the unexpected development. She had been relying on herself this entire time and didn’t dare expect rescue from Ruan Zhan. She had even despaired in the end, because she had already assumed he wouldn’t make it over in time!
But he had made it, so that was all that mattered!
“But what’s our next step?” Xiao Xia asked. “The raincoat ghost went to report the news. She’ll be back very soon!”
Ruan Zhan hesitated and didn’t speak.
Xiao Xia understood it definitely had something to do with her, and there was definitely danger involved. This was why Ruan Zhan was struggling. He had never been willing to involve her in such things. This made her both gratified and angry. She was gratified because he was worried for her safety, and it was very sweet. It made her feel safe. What angered her was that she had said repeatedly she wouldn’t be their burden. She was their companion. Although she was a woman with no powers or brimming Yang energy, she could still contribute!
“I know you don’t want me to take any risks.” Xiao Xia pulled his face over and made him look at her. “However, due to the present circumstances, we have to take whatever risks we must.”
“You…will have to suffer a lot!” Ruan Zhan looked at Xiao Xia’s face, which was still abnormally pale due to the chill poison. He couldn’t bear making her do something like that.
“I’m not important. What’s important right now is Wan Li.”
“Just tell me what I need to do. We don’t have time to hesitate!” Xiao Xia looked anxiously into his eyes. Her sincerity and the unavoidable situation finally helped him make up his mind.
That’s right. Saving Wan Li was the most important thing at the moment! He had no time to think of another plan. Wan Li had less than two hours left!
“You’ll have to…have an out-of-body experience!” He couldn’t help but stroke her face. He felt it was still very cold. Thinking of how her body would be placed underwater in a moment, his heart twisted.
“Ok. Take it out!”
Take it out? It wasn’t that easy!
Ruan Zhan glanced at her. He suppressed the weakness and worry in his heart while pondering how best to go about it safely and with less suffering. It wasn’t that easy for a living person to have their soul leave their body!
If he wasn’t mistaken, the mastermind wanted Xiao Xia to become the next raincoat ghost. That way she could be forever controlled. Therefore, he would definitely try to kill Xiao Xia and perform a ritual before the newly departed soul left. Only then could he plant a ghost Gu. If the mastermind was really Huang Bo Heng, was he human or ghost? It was too perverted if he was human. If he was a ghost, why was he able to live like a normal human being? Why didn’t Ruan Zhan sense anything weird about him? Also, why did this person surnamed Huang insist on Xiao Xia? Was she just unlucky, or was there some special reason?
“Can you hurry? They’re about to come!” Xiao Xia couldn’t help but hurry him, seeing him lost in thought.
Ruan Zhan didn’t speak. He looked at her for a few more seconds before pulling her to the stream. He first washed away the soul-fixing symbol he had drawn on her forehead.
“It’ll hurt a little. You have to bear with it!” He said in a gentle tone. “Now…pull open your collar a little. I have to draw a symbol a little below your throat. This would prevent you from being afflicted by his ghost Gu if anything goes wrong.”
Xiao Xia listened to him seriously. Because she was concentrating, her hands started undoing her buttons without realizing the implications. Yet as the night wind’s chill blew into her open collar, she realized how ambiguous the current situation was.
“Is…this sufficient?” She spoke randomly, not daring to look at him. Although her hands were still at her collar, her eyes glanced elsewhere.
Ruan Zhan looked at the fair skin before him, the cleavage faintly discernable, and spaced out momentarily. He almost forgot what he was about to do. Yet as he snapped out of it, he hurriedly rubbed his nose and confirmed he didn’t get a nosebleed. Only then did he calm himself and walk over.
Xiao Xia felt his slightly cold finger lightly tracing over her damp skin. She didn’t dare look back at him and merely hoped for this torment to be over soon. Right as she was unable to endure, she felt herself being pulled into his arms again.
This was what she had dreamt of and her heart started beating wildly. Yet she realized this was no time for displays of affection and was about to struggle free and say something when she felt something being drawn on the back of her head. Only then did she realize he wasn’t intentionally hugging her. Instead, he was reaching over her to continue drawing. The unusual locations and drawing methods today had caused her to start fantasizing.
“Can you bring some pen and paper next time?” Xiao Xia was afraid of things turning awkward. She hurriedly struck up conversation while Ruan Zhan lightly buttoned up her collar again. “You have to use your blood every time to draw these symbols. You’ll lose too much blood eventually.”
“Bloodspells are more effective.” Ruan Zhan looked around and confirmed there was no evil aura present. Only then did he look firmly into her eyes. “I couldn’t bear it if there were any accidents!”
Xiao Xia’s heart beat faster at his tender words. Right as she was at a loss for words, Ruan Zhan suddenly made a shushing gesture. He listened carefully before saying, “I’ll immediately bring out your soul. They are about to return!”