Ruan Zhan attacked the raincoat ghost because he didn’t feel at ease with Xiao Xia’s body held hostage by Huang Bo Heng. Although the blood talisman and Xiao Xia’s amulet protected her, preventing Huang Bo Heng’s Ghost Gu from taking effect, he still had to be on guard in case Huang Bo Heng did something desperate.
There was still some distance between them. Huang Bo Heng was completely on guard so Ruan Zhan couldn’t go snatch Xiao Xia’s body back. Therefore, he tossed out the tattered banner to pull the raincoat ghost over.
In her terror, the raincoat ghost would desperately try to grab hold of something to avoid being absorbed by the banner. There was nothing around her apart from Huang Bo Heng and Xiao Xia’s body. She was filled with reverence towards Huang Bo Heng and immediately released him, grabbing at Xiao Xia’s body instead.
Seeing the opportunity, Ruan Zhan immediately poured all his spirit power into the tattered banner, increasing its suction to the max. The raincoat ghost turned into black smoke as it was absorbed by the banner. Xiao Xia’s body, which it had clung onto, was also swept over.
By the time Huang Bo Heng realized Ruan Zhan’s intentions and tried to prevent things from happening, he was only able to grab the pair of wedding shoes.
“Now that your hostage is gone, what will you use to fight me?” Ruan Zhan put Xiao Xia’s body safely behind him. He didn’t have time to return her soul, and merely stuck a talisman to the top of her head that protected her from evil spirits. Then he withdrew the tattered banner.
Huang Bo Heng turned pale. He didn’t expect to be restricted on all fronts before things even started in earnest. He gritted his teeth and remained silent. His eyes flickered around, trying to come up with a plan while also searching for an escape route.
“Don’t bother!” Ruan Zhan coldly dispelled his hopes of escape. “I’ve already set up a blood restriction boundary. Unless one of us dies, it won’t vanish.”
“Playing dirty?” Huang Bo Heng took a few more steps back. Behind him was the dense forest that was perfect to hide in. However, he felt an invisible wall that prevented him from taking another step. He realized Ruan Zhan had been telling the truth and wasn’t just trying to scare him.
“Playing dirty tricks as you do is beneath me!” Ruan Zhan pointed at Huang Bo Heng with a hint of pride. “Don’t worry, I’ll let you die fully convinced of your loss. The area within the boundary is very large, completely sufficient for you to display your skills! Use whatever moves you have, call however many helpers you want. This boundary only prevents things from leaving, not entering.”
“You think I’m afraid of you?” Huang Bo Heng spoke boldly to cover the chill he felt. “Since you’re forcing my hand, I won’t stand on ceremony!” He glanced at Ruan Zhan as he spoke. Seeing that he wasn’t going to let him off, he knew there was no way he could escape. He hardened his heart and reached towards the small black drum at his waist and struck it violently.
There was a muffled boom. It sounded like muffled thunder, startling Xiao Xia. She didn’t expect a small drum a few inches in diameter could make such a large noise. She also didn’t know how he accomplished it.
Ruan Zhan was unmoving like a mountain. Xiao Xia stood in his shadow and couldn’t see his expression, but she could imagine it. He was always cold like a blade when facing an enemy. Women would scream at the handsome appearance but his enemies would tremble in fear.
It wasn’t a question of skill. He had the same attitude towards enemies who were stronger than himself. It was that determination, tenacity and calmness that dominated the opponent.
Another drumbeat rang out. It was even louder this time. Then came an irregular, quiet rhythm. If one listened with closed eyes, it would seem like the weather was changing….it sounded like two cracks of thunder and then the pitter patter of rain!
Yet those at the scene would see that the night sky was extremely clear. The moon hung bright in the sky, surrounded by stars. In a clearing next to a stream, a man dressed in tribal wedding attire danced in a unique manner as he beat a small drum on his waist. He chanted something that sounded like a spell in the language of an ancient tribe.
Before a minute passed, the silent trees outside the restriction started shaking. Slithering sounds could be heard as if something was swiftly approaching on the ground!
Xiao Xia saw the scene before her flicker, like an unfocused camera lens. Then, ten large snakes barged into the one-way boundary.
She couldn’t make out their patterns in the dark. However, their heads were all raised as their tongues flickered. They hissed, and their beady eyes gleamed dark red and green. They looked ready to attack at any moment!
Although snakes pretty much all looked the same, Xiao Xia still felt several among them were the ones that forced her to the stream. It turned out they hadn’t been an illusion, and were real venomous snakes that were being controlled. Luckily she hadn’t tried to test the “illusion” with her body!
This person was truly an expert in using Gu. However, how was he able to summon and control animals and plants? This was way too mysterious and weird. Where had he come from?
Xiao Xia was filled with doubts but Ruan Zhan stood firmly in place. He looked coldly at Huang Bo Heng. Despite his threats and provocation, Huang Bo Heng hadn’t attacked. He clearly wasn’t confident and was trying to buy time.
Ruan Zhan knew Huang Bo Heng didn’t want to fight him directly, and was definitely trying to come up with a way to escape. However, he definitely couldn’t be allowed to leave. Wan Li couldn’t wait any longer. Therefore, Ruan Zhan abandoned his usual reactive style of fighting and made the first move.
He formed seals extremely quickly with both hands and pointed towards Huang Bo Heng with two fingers of his left hand. A streak of blue light travelled along the ground and shot over, reaching Huang Bo Heng in the blink of an eye.
Huang Bo Heng was startled and hurriedly retreated. However, he was too anxious and used too much force. He bounced off the invisible barrier behind him and fell to the floor.
The blue beam of light passed beneath his feet and struck the barrier as well. It was also bounced back, but it didn’t extinguish or vanish. Instead, it split into several beams like branches coming from a tree. It spread throughout the area like a web of electricity and struck those large snakes explosively.
Sparks flew and those snakes abruptly scattered and writhed on the ground. From a distance they looked like whips striking the surrounding bushes, making a cacophony of noises.
Seeing this, Huang Bo Heng swiftly got up. He fished out a small bottle and bit open the stopper. He sprinkled some powder from the bottle onto the snakes that were squirming in pain. At the same time, he started beating the small drum again. This time the rhythm was clearly different from the previous summoning. It was more hurried and strained.
A dozen seconds later, those writhing snakes became calm again and followed Huang Bo Heng’s steps. They got into a semi-circle formation like a trained battalion. Their heads were raised high as they hissed restlessly. Their fangs spouted venom like a display of threat.
From Xiao Xia’s perspective, if animals had expressions, these snakes would be glaring at Ruan Zhan with gritted teeth. They seemed ready to devour him and it was a terrifying sight!
“It was you who decided to court death!” Huang Bo Heng seemed to have found some courage after being attacked. His face become malevolent.
“Did you only realize this now? Only one of us will be getting out of here alive!”
“So be it. Take this!” Huang Bo Heng cried out. From Xiao Xia’s vantage point, she felt as if he had become one with the snakes. She didn’t know if he had turned into the snakes or if the snakes had turned into him.
As his voice fell, those snakes were like water released from a dam. They surged and intertwined along the ground as they “burst forth” towards Ruan Zhan!
Ruan Zhan didn’t panic. He didn’t even move his feet. However, he drew a symbol in the air that looked like a Yinyang diagram. He then waved as if he were pushing it forward.
Nothing corporeal appeared within the clearing, yet there was the creaking sound of a door closing. At the same time, a circle was marked on the floor as if drawn. When those rushing snakes reached this mark, they were actually unable to advance further!
“Crawl over it!” Huang Bo Heng shouted urgently. At the same time, the beating drum urged these controlled snakes forwards, making them crawl onto the invisible barrier.
The snakes hissed as they slithered upwards. From a distance, it looked as if several snakes were being suspended in the air. Xiao Xia could only see the bellies of the snakes as they slithered. It was an incomparably disgusting sight and made her feel numb all over.
One of the snakes fell off, then another. Although they kept crawling upwards under the urging beats of the drum, they seemed to be unable to get over no matter what. They would always fall once they reached a certain height!
Huang Bo Heng let out a strange cry, as if he couldn’t believe he was thwarted so easily. He leapt about yelling, his usual carefully maintained poise completely gone. Seeing that those snakes were unable to deal with Ruan Zhan, he decided to stop beating the drum. The snakes fell from midair as the beating stopped. It seemed to be raining snakes as they fell to the floor in a writhing clump!
At this time, Huang Bo Heng pulled out a dagger from his side.
The dagger had been hanging at his waist in a beautiful scabbard. It had seemed like an ornament, yet when he pulled it out, the sharp blade gleamed under the moonlight. It definitely wasn’t just for show.
He swung wildly at the trees around him. Every time he cut off a suitable branch, he fished out a strange braided thread that was tied in a loop. He wrapped it around the cut branches without hesitation. After repeating this around a dozen times, he suddenly sat cross-legged on the floor, forming a strange symbol with his hands as he started chanting.
With every word, the branches next to him would vibrate a little. By the time his chanting became a hum, the broken branches stood up like reanimated corpses.
“Go!” Huang Bo Heng cried out again.
Those branches started hopping over like actual zombies. However, they were even eerier. They had no limbs or features, but hopped towards Ruan Zhan with the rustling of leaves. Huang Bo Heng started beating the drum again. The clump of snakes quickly separated upon hearing the drum, and started “besieging” the invisible barrier once again.
“Is that it? Far too lacking!” Ruan Zhan said coldly.
The fiendish branches arrived before him, striking at his protective barrier and letting out ape-like cries. Those snakes also continued to advance. Yet the invisible gates merely rang with booming sounds without any trace of damage.
“Just you wait! I’m not done yet!” Huang Bo Heng yelled hoarsely.
“No need. I don’t have time to waste on your mediocre Gu techniques!” Ruan Zhan said coolly. At the same time, he dispelled the barrier and formed the hand seals that would unleash blazing flames.