Guan Zheng was frozen in a thin layer of ice, but how could he be willing to resign himself? Since he wasn’t able to move, he directly closed his eyes and poured his remaining strength into his willpower.
The wound on his chest had remained open this whole time. Despite being frozen, it didn’t stop bleeding. Instead, it seemed to have gotten worse as his skin started curling outwards.
A closer look revealed a dense swarm of red little insects crawling out from his skin, flesh, blood vessels and from within his body! They were the color of blood which made it seem like blood was flowing out slowly.
He threatened to turn Ah Wu into a “Gu Person”, but he was one himself! This person’s fixation on Gu techniques had taken him to such a step. He was a Gu genius, yet also a Gu madman!
Those small insects seemed to contain a large amount of heat. The moment they appeared, they started melting tiny holes in the inner layer of the ice. As they surged outwards, the ice block became like a sieve, and then soon after like patterned glass. It became extremely brittle, and Guan Zheng just needed to struggle for the “glass” to shatter.
Seeing this, Duan Jin hurriedly poured spirit power into the Yin Eye, trying to add another layer of ice. However, Ruan Zhan stopped her. In his opinion, the four-way formation and the several exchanges had sufficiently exhausted Guan Zheng’s strength. He actually even used a blood Gu to deal with Duan Jin’s Yin Eye. He was clearly an arrow at the end of its flight. It was time to destroy Guan Zheng according to his plan!
Guan Zheng’s witchcraft was too strong. Killing his physical body wasn’t enough to eliminate him. If he wasn’t completely dealt with, there was a constant threat of his soul finding another host. He would become the next Si Ma Nan!
Besides, he needed to accomplish Witch Doctor Ah Bai’s wish.
A large crack appeared in the ice which then split apart. Guan Zheng leapt out from within!
His face was so pale that it was completely bloodless. He was also no longer able to think clearly after a night of continuous battle. The attacks of the four-way formation and the Ying Eye alternated between hot and cold. Ah Wu’s death and the use of forbidden spells Guan Zheng normally didn’t use for the sake of victory had left his willpower and stamina drained. Now there was only one thought in his mind: escape!
He looked around. Even his expression was a little disordered. However, he still judged that the eastern side was the weakest link. Thus, he rushed over madly. His malevolent face and the wound on his chest leaking blood and Gu insects stunned Xiao Xia. Only when Wan Li tugged at her did she remember she had a job to do.
She hurriedly took out the worn embroidered pouch from the bottom of the incense burner and handed it to Wan Li.
Wan Li held the pouch high and shouted at the fast-approaching Guan Zheng. “Witch Doctor Ah Bai’s sacred object is here. You are forbidden to approach!“
Guan Zheng didn’t bother with this move at all and continued running. Wan Li cried out twice more but was still ignored. Seeing that Guan Zheng was about to reach them, Wan Li hurriedly grabbed the talisman-wrapped bat with one hand while throwing the pouch towards Guan Zheng!
”You can have your master’s remnants back!”
Guan Zheng subconsciously caught it. He stopped abruptly. He felt there was a hard, thumb-sized object inside the pouch and was a little puzzled. He was still able to think at this moment. Not knowing what Wan Li was playing at, he didn’t dare open the pouch carelessly.
He looked up and saw Wan Li’s mocking smile and Xiao Xia’s doubtful expression. A sense of arrogance suddenly rose in his heart. Had he, Guan Zheng, ever been afraid of anyone after Witch Doctor Ah Bai passed away? Even that all-powerful husband of his master had to speak nicely to him! He was a divine child with divine gifts. He was a genius of the Gu arts. Was he going to be so cowardly just because he fell into a trap tonight?
Thinking of this, he tore open the pouch and took out an object.
It was a small bamboo tube, and its color was a little yellow because of its age. This was the most common object within the mountains. What was unusual was the wooden stopper that sealed it, covered in witch’s script.
The bamboo tube in his hand didn’t make any strange movements, but he suddenly felt a sort of fear. He felt a cold feeling in his palm that seeped into his heart.
”Acting mysterious!” He snorted coldly, suppressing the uneasiness in his heart. Recalling how they had scared him in the Octagonal building with a fake remnant of his master, he felt they must be trying to scare him again.
Ruan Zhan wasn’t as powerful as him. It must be a trick. He wasn’t going to fall for it!
He stretched his hand out and threw the bamboo tube in the air. But before it hit the ground, Ruan Zhan who had been waiting in the south suddenly sent out a talisman!
This talisman was different from the ones he normally used. Its color was different, a sort of rotted black, and it also gave off a vile smell. It didn’t seem like something filled with righteous aura.
But after this talisman was sent out, it immediately shot towards the bamboo tube with lightning speed, like a little black bird seeing its favorite food. It collided with the bamboo tube before it could hit the ground.
The talisman immediately dissolved into flames while the bamboo tube split in half, falling to the floor. However, the object inside it remained in mid-air.
It was a small insect that looked a bit like a large mosquito, but it had two pairs of wings and glowed faintly red under the Yang Eye’s light.
It hovered in place like a dragonfly. It didn’t fly off, but stopped in front of Guan Zheng as if looking at him curiously!
Guan Zheng laughed, “I was wondering what it was. Turns out it was my treasure! Master, oh master, you did love me best after all. You even left me this rare treasure that wouldn’t be found after a century of searching. You even waited for these fools to find it and give it to me! Come, precious, come to your master! You’ve finally returned! I’ve been looking for you for a long time!”
He smiled so smugly it seemed he had completely forgotten his frustration and his sorry state. It was like he had obtained an unimaginable gift. He didn’t notice the four-way formation had already dispersed and Ruan Zhan was walking over. He also didn’t notice Wan Li and Xiao Xia’s sympathetic expressions.
He wiped a little of his blood on his fingers. Then he reached out to the strange little insect.
The smell of blood permeated the air. The small insect no longer stayed in place, but started hovering as if trying to determine the source of the blood.
”It’s me, your master, don’t hesitate anymore, come!” Guan Zheng urged.
Before he finished speaking, the little insect suddenly swooped towards Guan Zheng. Guan Zheng smiled and raised his hand a little higher. However, when he saw the flying posture and trajectory of the little insect, his expression suddenly changed.
But he no longer had time to react. That little insect shot between his brows like an arrow!
Such a small insect shouldn’t have made any noise upon collision, but there was actually a resounding smack. It was as if Guan Zheng had been slapped in the face. And with this crisp sound, the little insect entered Guan Zheng’s head and disappeared.
Guan Zheng was stunned, in disbelief at how the situation turned out. He touched his forehead subconsciously but felt nothing abnormal. There was no trace whatsoever, as if nothing had happened. He was a little dazed, not knowing if it had been a hallucination from being hunted.
He spaced out a little, and looked at the approaching Ruan Zhan. He was about to speak when he felt a fierce pain in his mind.
The pain came so violently that he couldn’t help but scream in pain, falling uncontrollably to the floor. It felt like a thread was being pulled through his flesh. The small insect seemed to be feasting on his brain, making his mind feel dull and painful. He felt the urge to split his head open to get some relief!
He felt the urge to do so, but didn’t realize he was indeed already doing it. He rolled around on the ground, roaring like a wounded beast. He slammed his head against the rocks on the ground. Before long, his face was covered in blood and he no longer looked human.
“Kill him quick!” Xiao Xia turned her head away, her hands tightly covering her ears.
Guan Zheng was truly reprehensible. He had brought so much suffering to so many. Even those who inadvertently offended him or those that competed with him normally in the business world were left wishing for death. His torture of others might very well have been crueler than what he was currently suffering, yet he had never felt any hint of mercy. Therefore, this was his just desserts. Yet the kindhearted Xiao Xia wasn’t able to keep watching.
Death supposedly resolved all debts, and his wouldn’t be an ordinary death. Ordinary death was a sort of beginning. Good people would obtain a new life while evildoers continued to suffer punishment until they repented. Guan Zheng’s death was a permanent one. He had committed too many evil acts that could only be cleansed by utter annihilation!
Ruan Zhan walked forwards. He looked down at Guan Zheng who was desperately ramming his head against the ground. There was some pity in his eyes. Although he had been doing his best to beat him, he suddenly felt Guan Zheng was also a pitiful person. He used the most extreme methods to obtain the things he wanted. Therefore, he had committed crimes against humanity and had passed the point of no return.
He waved his hand, easing Guan Zheng’s pain.
Guan Zheng lay prone on the floor. At that instant, he suddenly felt some regret. Had the people he previously tortured also felt such pain? He thought helplessly, subconsciously grabbing the feet in front of him. He slowly raised his head, meeting Ruan Zhan’s bottomless gaze.
”I don’t understand.” He said weakly. “This is…my insect. When I was young…I found it after unimaginable effort. Why would it harm me?! My insect…mine…mine….”
”Nothing belongs to you.” Ruan Zhan felt pity in his heart but his face was still indifferent. “Everything in the world is free. You can only win things over, and not force them! Unfortunately, you never understood this!”
”That insect…only recognizes one master. It’s not like other people…it’s mine! Ah….” The temporary relief was gone. Guan Zheng rolled and screamed witlessly.
Ruan Zhan let out a long sigh and raised the bloodwood sword. He muttered, “Let me end your suffering!”
When the bloodwood sword fell, Wan Li covered Xiao Xia’s eyes. Nothing was left behind by the pool! No traces were left in the forest. It was as if nothing had happened. Yet the three who returned to the octagonal building had very complicated emotions. There was the weariness after a fierce battle, and the sense of relief and loss of completing a task. There was also solemness after reflecting on the whole event!
When Guan Zheng died, it was almost daybreak. Duan Jin had already vanished when they looked for her. She had probably slipped away when Ruan Zhan dispelled the formation.
Ruan Zhan felt he owed her something. He decided he would repay her when he got the chance. Although she had held back when the formation first started, she had ultimately helped them. Trapping Guan Zheng had been of her own initiative.
The broken tree that took Ah Wu’s place in the north had suddenly burnt up the moment Guan Zheng died, along with Ah Wu’s corpse. The wind swept the ashes into the pool, as if arranged by Ah Wu. As for Guan Zheng, after the bloodwood sword killed him, his corpse slowly shriveled. In the end it turned into a section of withered wood half a meter long. After Ruan Zhan confirmed not even his soul remained, he buried it next to the pool.
Perhaps this could count as fulfilling one of Ah Wu’s wishes!
Her momentary lapse of judgment due to jealousy had harmed countless people, but she had also paid a huge price for it. The reason why she wore those embroidered wedding shoes the whole time might be because she had fantasized about being Guan Zheng’s bride. Now that her ashes were buried so close to the withered wood that symbolized Guan Zheng, hopefully she would feel happy!
After all, she was someone both pitiful and hateful like Guan Zheng. Neither knew how to properly pursue what they wanted, and only knew to use extreme methods to take them. Guan Zheng’s methods were just more horrifying and cruel!
In the end, Xiao Xia couldn’t understand how two people could form such enmity and cause such a huge disaster just because they loved someone!
According to Ah Wu, Guan Zheng had started refining evil Gu after their master died. Many of them had been forbidden techniques of their ancestors that would cause heavenly retribution if cultivated. He had even refined himself into a “Gu person”. Psychologically speaking, he could already be classified as insane.
This could explain why he kept killing people. The more evil, the more powerful the Gu, the more lives needed to raise it. To avoid suffering the Gu’s backlash, he had to continuously kill others. Even if there wasn’t anyone he wanted to kill, he needed to feed innocents to the Gu.
But the ones he mostly killed were unfilial descendants who bullied their parents. This might be due to the guilt in his heart towards his own parents, a sort of perverse projection of self-punishment. He had vented his anger on his parents after the wedding. Perhaps he blamed them for being an outcast all his life, which was why he killed them out of anger.
He must have regretted his actions afterwords. He wasn’t someone utterly heinous after all. This was the reason for his many contradictory actions afterwards.
He took on the identity of Guan Zheng to approach Xiao Xia, hoping to use her as a substitute for the fictional existence in his heart. At the same time, he lived an extremely lonely life, hoping for someone to understand his past and mentality. Therefore, once he found out about Ruan Zhan, he purposefully set things up so they would discover his thoughts and past.
Perhaps Si Ma Nan had bad intentions, wanting to sit back on the mountain and watch the tigers fight, and ended up using Guan Zheng. Ruan Zhan coincidentally wanted to investigate Si Ma Nan, which ended up causing the whole affair.
Guan Zheng wanted others to understand him before killing them for his own gratification. Unfortunately, he provoked someone he shouldn’t have provoked. When his inflated sense of self encountered Ruan Zhan putting his life on the line, the final outcome was his annihilation!
”Now, tell me about the vision from Witch Doctor Ah Bai and that terrifying little insect!” Wan Li pointed at Xiao Xia, then at Ruan Zhan, “Come and tell me about that smelly talisman. I’ve been serving as a blind vanguard for you guys this whole time. I knew nothing about anything!”