The black cat narrowly avoided the fire talisman and scurried off to the side. However, Ruan Zhan’s second fire talisman had also caught up. Guan Zheng could only make it flee once again. Clumps of fire sprung up, chasing the fleeing cat which let out continuous, tragic cries!
“This still won’t do. Repeatedly wielding the talismans will still tire him out!” Xiao Xia looked at Ruan Zhan and said in distress.
“Well then, I’ll let you witness my methods, as well as our experience working together developed through countless fights!” Wan Li lowered his head as he spoke, searching for appropriately-sized rocks.
He found a dozen or so rocks the size of tennis balls and wrapped each one with a talisman from the limestone. Then, he coordinated with Ruan Zhan’s fire talismans as he threw the rocks one by one towards the fleeing cat. When they landed, the wrapped talismans exploded in sparks, giving the black cat additional pressure!
Xiao Xia could see Wan Li’s rapport with Ruan Zhan the moment he made his move. The moment the black cat dodged a wrapped rock, the fire talisman would appear in the most difficult to avoid places. When it avoided the fire talisman, another one would threaten it. Within a few rounds, the black cat was forced from the middle back to the pool.
“Even though I’m just using my arm’s strength, I can still persevere. No need to worry about me!” Wan Li called loudly while continuing to work with Ruan Zhan to besiege the black cat. It wasn’t clear who he was speaking to!
His relaxed tone sounded like he was playing a game, enraging Guan Zheng. He desperately controlled the black cat as though he held a grudge, refusing to let it get hit. However, Ruan Zhan and Wan Li worked together flawlessly. Despite all his efforts, the black cat’s movements became more and more restricted. The stream of vapor in his other hands had long since become a tangled mess. Ah Wu and Duan Jin were no longer being affected.
With two cracks, Wan Li’s rock and Ruan Zhan’s talisman practically arrived at the same time. Guan Zheng made the black cat leap and twist in the air to avoid them. Although it managed to dodge the attacks, it almost fell into the water. It staggered several steps backwards.
Guan Zheng gritted his teeth and persisted, waiting for Ruan Zhan’s talismans and Wan Li’s rocks to run out. Then, Ruan Zhan would have to use his flaming handprints if he still wanted to burn the black cat. The drain on his stamina would multiply.
Guan Zheng forced himself to stand steady, but realized Ruan Zhan and Wan Li had stopped their attacks. It seems, as he expected, that their “weapons” had run out. He hesitated a little, trying to judge whether it was the truth. Yet before he could decide on his next move, their attacks suddenly arrived at the same time again. Furthermore, it was the fiercest ones yet!
He hurriedly tried to dodge. In his haste to control the black cat, he was unable to maintain his balance and fell straight into the water. As the cold water covered his head, he figured they must have run out of energy. That was why they waited for a bit before throwing everything they had into their last attack. That would be how things normally played out.
This thought caused him to smile as he fell into the water. Yet before his smile could fully form, he saw a thread of blue sparks arcing through the air.
“Lightning palm!” The words flashed through Guan Zheng’s mind. He watched helplessly as the black cat stood fully exposed having just barely dodged the rock and talisman. It was unavoidably struck straight on the tail. With a tragic cry, it fell into the water just like its master.
“Perfectly calculated. Wrapped it up just as I ran out of rocks.” Wan Li purposefully bragged.
Guan Zheng stood up from the water. He looked over and saw the black cat had turned back into its paper form. It floated on the water and was completely soaked. It could never be used again!
“You probably forgot that paper isn’t just weak against fire. It’s also weak against water!” Ruan Zhan’s cold voice rang out.
They hadn’t been planning on burning the paper cat to begin with. Instead, they distracted him before finally blasting the cat into the water!
Having been tricked repeatedly, Guan Zheng was already speechless from anger. While controlling Huang Bo Heng, he had encountered countless challenges in the world of business. Although some people had been dealt with via his witchcraft, he had relied on his wits for the most part. But when faced with Ruan Zhan and Wan Li, he had instead been thoroughly suppressed.
He let out a roar, stirring the water with his wooden stick while also slapping at the surface with his other hand. He seemed to have gone insane. Then, he started spinning around. However, he would pause in every direction and wave his hands violently. The droplets of water launched by his movements shot out like arrows towards the four directions.
There was incessant swishing through the air as the originally soft droplets turned into sharp shards of ice that shot over like concealed weapons.
Wan Li responded lightning fast, pulling Xiao Xia down behind the large slab of limestone. They had just taken cover when the rain of ice struck viciously against the stone. The noise was ear-piercing as the shattered ice fragments shot everywhere. The scene was extremely alarming. It was clear that being hit by these ice shards would turn one into a sieve.
After three full minutes, the ice attack gradually slowed.
Wan Li and Xiao Xia peeked their heads out. The limestone’s surface was in a sorry state and the incense candle was nowhere to be seen. It must have been sent flying somewhere. The talismans had been soaked by the melted ice fragments. Only the incense burner still stood undamaged in the middle. It didn’t even move from its spot.
As for the rest, Duan Jin seemed the same, still standing silently in place. Not a single hair was out of place as if nothing had happened. Ruan Zhan was a little pale. Ice fragments piled half a foot high in front of him. There were bloody scrapes on his face and arms. It was clear the majority of the ice shards had been sent his way. Ah Wu was climbing out from the bushes. She was completely unharmed. It wasn’t clear what witchcraft she used to avoid this round of attacks.
However, she was about face the next round. Guan Zheng had walked up to Ah Wu while everyone else was avoiding the ice.
“Look out!” Seeing Guan Zheng’s overbearing manner and Ah Wu still in a daze, Xiao Xia couldn’t help but cry out in alarm.
Her cry made Ah Wu freeze for a moment. She looked up and saw Guan Zheng swinging the black stick at her. She instinctively tried to move back but immediately remembered she couldn’t leave her spot. Therefore, she ducked down and avoided the blow.
“You dare repay my mercy with treachery, and help outsiders?!” Guan Zheng’s furious voice rang out.
Although Ah Wu had decided to help Ruan Zhan subdue Guan Zheng so she could escape her endless torment, she had still spent a long time under his influence. Seeing him standing there, her courage shrank quite a bit. Therefore, when Guan Zheng’s stick swung at her head a second time, she only raised her hand instinctively to block, completely forgetting to counterattack.
With a thud, the black wooden stick solidly struck Ah Wu’s withered arm. It sounded like a clash of dried wood and she didn’t seem to feel any pain. It was as if it wasn’t her body being hit. She passively took Guan Zheng’s second and third strikes the same way. Yet while she didn’t retaliate, she also didn’t leave her spot!
Seeing that she had set herself to resist him, Guan Zheng was furious.
The reason he used the ice attack on all sides was to take the opportunity to climb ashore without letting others see his bedraggled appearance. He could also take the chance to launch a sneak attack. He initially wanted to go east but that incense burner was truly too weird. The ice shards were sent out with such force yet it didn’t even got knocked over. This made him apprehensive so he chose to go north. He knew Ah Wu was absolutely no match for him, and she was also terrified. Unexpectedly, despite not daring to fight back, she still refused to move from her spot.
He struck a fourth time angrily. Ah Wu once again used her arm to black, yet the moment the stick made contact, it suddenly turned extremely soft. It wrapped around her arm like a snake and slithered up to her shoulder. Then, it viciously bit down on the nape of her neck. She felt a piercing pain drilling towards her heart and let out a hoarse, muffled scream.
The wooden stick which had turned into a black snake didn’t let her off just like that. It raised its head and was about to bite a second time. Yet before it could do so, it was flung to the side by a strong force from behind. The snake turned back into a stick the moment it hit the ground!
Guan Zheng turned just as a second lightning palm shot over. It was too late to evade so he could only drop and roll away in an extremely wretched manner!
“A sneak attack!” He was both angry and resentful, his eyes turning bloodshot.
“Likewise!” Ruan Zhan said coldly. He drew in the air at the same time and pointed forcefully towards Guan Zheng.
Guan Zheng instinctively tried to dodge but nothing came flying from Ruan Zhan’s hand this time. Right as he assumed Ruan Zhan had reached his limits causing his attack to fail, he felt a huge suction force. Caught off guard, he was immediately dragged back into the center next to the pool.
He struggled desperately but wasn’t able to move at all. He was bound firmly by invisible ropes.
“Are you okay?” Ruan Zhan was obviously not speaking to him, but rather Ah Wu.
Ruan Zhan had seen Guan Zheng attacking Ah Wu, but unfortunately he hadn’t been able to muster the slightest bit of strength. He also couldn’t easily ask anything of Duan Jin again, and thus could only hope she could block the attacks by herself. He knew Witch Doctor Ah Bai’s witchcraft included a defensive substitution technique. It could transfer any damage taken onto the surrounding plants. Therefore, when he heard the clashing of dried wood, he knew Ah Wu was transferring the damage from Guan Zheng’s blows to the small tree behind her.
Guan Zheng’s back had been facing him so he couldn’t see what exactly he was doing. Yet when Guan Zheng turned sideways and cast a spell on the stick, he felt Ah Wu might not be able to avoid the attack this time. Therefore, he immediately shot a lightning palm over!
Unfortunately, he had been one step too late!
“She was poisoned by my snake. How could she be ok?” Guan Zheng said maliciously in Schadenfreude, ignoring his own sorry state.
“We don’t need any input from you!” Ruan Zhan retorted, knocking Guan Zheng over with another lightning palm. His eyes were looking towards Ah Wu in concern.
She stood there with an expression of extreme suffering. Both hands clawed wildly at her body uselessly. The pain was clearly scurrying around her body, preventing her from pinpointing a specific location. Her face swiftly turned dark purple and her hands clawed faster and faster. In the end, she gripped her collar and started wailing. The pain seemed to be seeping into her bones.
Ruan Zhan wasn’t able to speak. He was initially going to remind her to suppress the snake’s venom, but it had spread too quickly. Before he could say anything, her face already showed signs of the venom. It was clearly too late!
The moment she died, this formation would break. More tragically, was this person who suffered for a decade due to her mistake never going to get the chance to atone?
Ruan Zhan’s thoughts were regretful as he looked at Ah Wu. Yet he saw that despite the tremendous pain, her feet still remained in place. She arduously lifted her hands and made some strange gestures in the air while chanting a spell through her cries of pain.
Once she was done, she trembled and knelt on the floor, giving a kowtow. When she got up again, a large bush next to her shot over as if cut off at the roots. She let out a long gasp as it penetrated into her body. The part that was still exposed was firm and straight, making her appear like a porcupine!
This change stunned everyone at the scene, including Guan Zheng. Ah Wu calmed down once this was done and stood up straight. The venom seemed to be under control and the torturous pain also seemed to have vanished.
“I’m going to die.” She said calmly. “However, this formation will not break!”
Ruan Zhan opened his mouth but didn’t say anything. He just let out a long sigh. Ah Wu had always been suppressed by the weight of her guilt and her fear of Guan Zheng. She didn’t even dare look others in the eye normally, and spent most of her time on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Since she was so calm now, she must truly have reached the end of her life. There was no way she could be saved!
“Thank you!” She smiled. The dirty face under her messy hair actually contained a sort of tranquil beauty. “I can finally atone for my sins. I no longer have to bear the feeling of owing a debt I can never repay.”
As she spoke, she pulled at the small tree next to her. After the damage from Guan Zheng’s strikes had been transferred to the tree, its bark was severely damaged, revealing its white core. Despite this, it wasn’t something that could easily be moved. Yet it actually broke in the middle with a crack and fell in front of Ah Wu.
She bent over and lifted the broken half of the tree, quietly chanting something. She then forcefully stuck it into the ground, and with everyone’s startled cries, she dug out one of her own eyeballs and pressed it against the trunk. The eyeball didn’t shatter due to the force. Instead, it was embedded into the trunk and looked at the scene in a lively manner.
“Master once said that witchcraft stems from nature, and is to be used to benefit humanity and guard the peace.” Once Ah Wu was done, she spoke weakly. “Today, I attach my own soul to this tree to eradicate evil and purify corruption. Oh, Brother Shi Tou, come to your senses!”
As her voice fell, Ah Wu fell backwards. Her body had clearly died, leaving behind the broken tree containing her soul to guard the north.
The four-way formation didn’t break!
Everyone felt moved at this scene with one exception: Guan Zheng. In the blink of an eye while everyone was distracted, he had almost gotten free of the invisible bonds.
Seeing the situation, Ruan Zhan hurriedly drew in the air, wanting to renew the restrictions. Unexpectedly, he was interrupted by a cold beam of light that shot through the air. He turned his head. Duan Jin who had been acting as a bystander while guarding the west this whole time had unleashed her Yin Eye. That Yin Eye was an object of extreme Yin and coldness. When the beam hit Guan Zheng, it formed into a layer of ice that froze Guan Zheng inside.
“The time has come.” Ruan Zhan looked coldly at the frozen Guan Zheng. “What goes around, comes around! Die!”