In the new town, in front of an apartment building.
Looking outside, it was clear the fog had yet to retreat. It was instead getting thicker, like a large piece of cloth hanging outside, separating this tiny, tiny room from the rest of the world.
Furthermore, as time dragged on, the room also seemed as if there were a draught. The doors and windows clanged lightly as wisps of chill air gradually permeated inside. The walls, ceiling and floor also started becoming damp.
“The resentful aura is too deep. The talismans power can’t hold out any longer.” Ruan Zhan perked his ears up and listened, furrowing his brows.
He was currently still sitting behind the partition wall with Xiao Xia. Ever since they took cover in this room, he tried to recover some of his spirit power. “It seems we’re surrounded. We need to think of a plan to get out in a bit.” Xiao Xia poked her head out for a look. She saw that the people outside seemed to sense that their temporarily peace was about to end. Everyone was a little nervous. Liu Hong started edging towards the relatively more steady Zuo De. Reporter Ma looked panicked. Zhao Jia Yuan was still in a daze. Only Mao Fu sat on the ground happily, babbling something unintelligible.
“It’s fine. I’ll come up with something.” Ruan Zhan’s brows were still furrowed.
Just now he had been communicating with Wan Li, who had encountered Si Ma Nan’s attacks outside as expected. This made him feel a little worried. The situation inside was also extremely difficult. The various pressures prevented him from relaxing.
“I’m not worried.” Xiao Xia returned to his side. Seeing his furrowed brows, she couldn’t help but lightly stroke them with her fingers. “With you here, it’s fine either way. Even if we can’t escape.”
Ruan Zhan grabbed her hand.
She was too close to him. Stroking his brows with her fingertip like this made him want to kiss her again. Yet before he could move, he felt her lightly peck his lips. He almost chased after her lips so that the sweet and beautiful feeling could last a little longer. However, he forced himself to remain calm and didn’t move. He knew they were in a difficult situation. If he went along with his desires, his whole heart would be focused on her. They would be left without any hope of survival.
“I won’t let you die here.” He held her warm, soft hand. “There are still countless beautiful things waiting for you in the future!”
“I don’t like how you say that.” Xiao Xia put her arm around his neck. “It’s like you’re leaving behind your last words. I swear to you…if you can’t leave this place alive, I will accompany you in death. I swear I’ll do it. So, you want me to live happily ever after? Then you must stay alive.”
“Don’t be willful.”
“I’m going to be!” Xiao Xia felt him trying to pull her away and hugged his neck even tighter, refusing to let go. “My life won’t be happy without you in it.”
Her words instantly softened his heart.
Although he looked like a genteel, easy-going person, his nature was actually extremely tough. This was why despite only encountering opponents who were stronger than him after leaving seclusion, none of them had been able to suppress him. For the sake of protecting those important to him, he would often unleash greater potential. Xiao Xia was deeply aware of this fact. That was why she was motivating him like this.
“Excuse me…” A woman’s voice rang out from behind them, interrupting their silent embrace. “Water is seeping in from the floor and the walls. It’s really strange. Also, the wind is blowing very heavily outside. What’s going on?”
Xiao Xia rolled her eyes at Liu Hong in disgust and pulled Ruan Zhan up. However, she still held onto his hand.
“Zuo De.” Ruan Zhan walked out. He first called over Zuo De, who had been relatively calm the entire time. “Take off the talismans from the walls. Remember, don’t take them all off. Leave at least two of them. Also, don’t take the wet ones that have changed color.”
Zuo De nodded and went with Reporter Ma to take the talismans.
Xiao Xia saw Zhao Jia Yuan sitting there, and her thoughts suddenly stirred. She recalled that he might know of the underlying matter. Although he looked very scared and wasn’t willing to say anything, it was worth pressing him again based on the current situation.
She had forgotten about it due to her excitement at meeting up with Ruan Zhan. Now that they were preparing for battle, she remembered this matter once again.
She walked towards him. Strangely, he didn’t take off like a startled bird this time. He remained unmoving even after she walked right up to him.
“Zhao Jia Yuan, you have to speak about the matter back then. Only then do we have a chance at survival. I know you’re scared, but you’ll die all the same if you keep silent. Therefore, you should just speak, even if you’ll end up revealing some things! Zhao Jia Yuan?” Xiao Xia saw that he still showed no reaction. She impatiently went to shove his shoulders, but he unexpectedly fell over. There was the muffled sound of withered wood hitting concrete. His limbs and head actually split off from his body as he shattered into several pieces. Not a single drop of blood came out.
Xiao Xia was first stunned before letting out a scream. She took a large step backwards but Zhao Jia Yuan’s head suddenly moved. It rolled towards her feet and opened its mouth to take a bite.
Xiao Xia jumped up in shock. Before she landed, Ruan Zhan’s sturdy arms caught her in midair.
When Xiao Xia had gone to discuss things with “Zhao Jia Yuan”, Ruan Zhan had already felt something was off. Including him, there were seven people in the room. Yet after giving Zuo De his instructions, he only sensed the aura of six people. Yet he was currently blind, so he doubted himself for that split second. Therefore, he hadn’t managed to get there right away!
With a thump, he accurately stomped onto the severed head. The force from his foot split the head in two. It was actually a hollow piece of wood!
Liu Hong reacted a little slower than Xiao Xia, only screaming at this moment. Mao Fu burst into a fit of laughter!
“What’s going on?” Xiao Xia’s lips had turned pale from fright as she buried her head in Ruan Zhan’s chest. “Why is he a wooden person?”
“Back at the plaza, he was already not himself anymore!” Ruan Zhan sighed lightly.
If his senses and abilities hadn’t been sealed, he would have long since realized this wooden person had entered their midst. Xiao Xia wouldn’t have had to impetuously shove him before it was revealed. Now he understood why his talismans lost effectiveness so quickly. It was because the resentful spirit attached to this wooden person was acting together with those on the outside. Unfortunately, he hadn’t been able to notice it this whole time.
But where did the real Zhao Jia Yuan go? Did he die? Were there any more spies amongst the people here?
This thought made his heart tighten. The most effective way to defeat an opponent was to cause internal unrest, or even make them attack each other. Because of one wooden Zhao Jia Yuan, he had almost fallen for their trap as well!
“The usable talismans are all here.” Zuo De’s voice came from beside him.
Ruan Zhan calmed his mind and decided he wouldn’t fall for it. He was still going to trust the others, especially Zuo De, who gave off a rather reliable feeling.
“Around how many pieces are there?” He asked.
“Twenty-two pieces.” Zuo De had already counted them as he took them down.
“Give me and Mao Fu one each, and five each for everyone else.” Ruan Zhan ordered concisely. “Stick one on your chest and back, and the other three in the area around you once we return to the plaza.”
“Return to the plaza?” Liu Hong said shrilly. “Isn’t that telling me to die? No, I’m not going. I’m not going. Hurry and take us out of this damned place! No, I’m not going!”
“Those who won’t go won’t be forced to go. You can find your own way out.” Ruan Zhan said coldly.
“I’ll go.” Zuo De said.
Then, Reporter Ma also said he would go. Even the insane Mao Fu jumped up, yelling happily, “I’ll go, I’ll go!” At this point, Liu Hong wasn’t able to say anything else. She didn’t dare wait by herself in this town. Since no one opposed it anymore, Ruan Zhan walked by the door with Xiao Xia following closely behind him. She had wanted to secretly give a few of her five talismans to him. His abilities were currently sealed so he wasn’t that much safer. However, Ruan Zhan refused to let her do so. Therefore, she could only stick close to him, swearing she would rather die than let Ruan Zhan get attacked from behind! Ruan Zhan opened the door. A wild gust of wind blew over, but he suddenly lifted his hand. The moment he did so, a half-meter wide corridor was opened up in the fog.
Ruan Zhan laughed lightly, keeping his hand raised and leading the group of people out.
Ruan Zhan walked in front. Then came Xiao Xia, followed by Reporter Ma, Liu Hong, Zuo De and finally Mao Fu. Since Mao Fu had already gone insane, scary things were no longer effective against him. Killing someone in his state wouldn’t give much satisfaction, so he was probably arranged to be killed last. Therefore, he was currently the safest one. Ruan Zhan just had someone stick a talisman onto him so he wouldn’t get possessed and harm them.
Ruan Zhan knew that the fog made up of resentful spirits had moved aside because they mistaken assumed he was about to shoot out a lightning palm. Therefore, he didn’t rush to act, keeping his meager power in reserve. They didn’t have far to go, but he had to guard against the possibility of them getting lost, as well as an ambush from the resentful spirits. Therefore, they walked even slower than when they came.
This wasn’t for the sake of buying time. The small enclosed room had been the best shelter. Therefore, he had calculated it would buy them sufficient time. However, he didn’t expect Zhao Jia Yuan to have been switched out for a wooden person. Therefore, his bitterly defended keep didn’t last as long as he thought it would. A perfectly fine building had started seeping water. If he didn’t take them out of there, they would be trapped.
Since everywhere outside was the same, he decided to return to the plaza after thinking it over. He could tell that despite it being the site of every single murder, as if it was some kind of stage, the place was spacious and the air flowed there without obstruction. Moreover, that tower had a “suppressive” power. This place felt as if it were designed by someone who understood feng shui very well. It had just been broken. Since nowhere was safe, and they would all get dragged here anyway, they might as well go straight there. At least the fog wasn’t able to cover the plaza for too long.
Although his father had taught him before, he didn’t have much knowledge of feng shui. He only had some general idea, but based on the current situation, even his toe could figure out who was responsible for destroying the layout here.
The sky was overcast so the group could only stumble along with difficulty. The white fog parted before Ruan Zhan’s raised hand, automatically revealing a path as he approached. This scene made Xiao Xia feel as if she were at the bottom of the ocean. If the white waves closed up, they would all be buried here.
Finally, the hidden resentful spirits started getting impatient and doubtful of Ruan Zhan’s threat. In the opened space of the fog, a wave of human-shaped white aura pressed down upon Ruan Zhan from above.
“Ruan Zhan, watch out!” Xiao Xia cried out.
Ruan Zhan laughed coldly and waved his upraised hand towards twelve o’clock.
“Have a taste of this!”