Book 6 Chapter 27: Traitor

     Inside the new town.

  Ruan Zhan sat in the room on the top floor of the tower. He was unmoving like a statue. On the surface he was continuing his silent cultivation. In reality, he was waiting for an opportunity while doing his best to minimize the erosion of his spirit power.

  This tower was really magical. Any superhuman ability would slowly weaken after staying in the tower for a while. It happened silently and unconsciously, like electricity being conducted into the ground, until it was all gone!

  It wasn’t clear whether the person who initially designed the tower was profoundly powerful, but his knowledge of divination and the elements was truly impressive. Just the location and the suppressive measures hidden within the construction, along with some basic magical tools, was able to create such an incredible force!

  If it hadn’t been for this tower, he couldn’t have removed Si Ma Nan’s restrictions on his body so quickly. However, soon after his spirit power recovered, he was unable to avoid it starting to weaken.

  Those resentful spirits understood how special the tower was. However, they didn’t know that Ruan Zhan’s powers had previously been sealed by Si Ma Nan. Therefore, seeing that Ruan Zhan’s powers not only didn’t decrease, but instead got stronger, they thought he was outside of the tower’s control. Therefore, they grew fearful of him and didn’t move against him the whole time.

  The resentful spirit posing as Xiao Xia also couldn’t remain inside the tower for long. Therefore, while Ruan Zhan cultivated inside the room, it took the opportunity to slip out into the city. She figured Ruan Zhan hid in the room because he was trying to recover his sight. However, Ruan Zhan was just waiting for her to leave. Then, after looking around, he found the places in the tower that had been destroyed by Si Ma Nan. He fixed them, allowing the tower to once again become a place that could “retain” resentful spirits and suppress resentment.

  The room at the top of the tower was circular without anything inside. There was just a ring of extremely narrow glass windows on the walls. There was even one of the door. It looked like the tower’s half-opened eyes. Ruan Zhan felt this room gathered most of the tower’s might and disseminated it from those small windows.  If formed an invisible aura that covered the top of the tower. The tower itself was only able to dissipate various spirit powers. The true suppression of resentful spirits that prevented them from leaving was due to this force that shrouded the top.

  If one were to carefully sense this suppressive, they would realize that it wasn’t so evenly spread. It seemed to be tilted to one side. Although this seemed like a minor change, it was like a crack in the lid of a box. This allowed those resentful spirits to escape through the opening!

  Where had it been messed up?

  Based on Si Ma Nan’s nature, it definitely wasn’t a major alteration. He liked using clever methods that exuded pride and confidence. Therefore, this tower definitely had definitely been slightly altered somewhere, which was sufficient to change the entire suppressive formation!

  Thinking of this, Ruan Zhan drew a talisman with furtive gestures and silently chanted a few spells. Then, he got up and left the room. When he reached the door, he looked back and saw his body still properly in its original location. Xiao Xia’s amulet was hanging on his chest. Only after confirming that those resentful spirits who took the risk to observe him hadn’t noticed anything did he pass through the wall.

  He only astral projected his soul because he had no choice. No one was here to guard his body for him. There was a certain amount of risk!

  Although the encompassing aura had been ruined, the room was at the top of the power. Therefore, those resentful spirits weren’t able to enter. However, they could observe from the windows. This forced him to set up the illusion. He also didn’t know any techniques that let him pass through walls, so he could only use this method.

  The best thing about this method was that even his soul’s aura was hidden. This allowed him to avoid all eyes and ears, letting him act freely and even pass through everything unobstructed!

  The resentful spirits on the inside weren’t ordinary. Their resentment ran even deeper and there were many of them. Most terrifying of all, they clearly had a leader. It was very likely to be the one who occupied Xiao Xia’s body. Her resentment allowed her to remain inside the tower for a while, indicating that her grudge was extraordinary. She might have even cultivated it over the years. Furthermore, she had rather good organizational skills, having gotten those resentful spirits to cooperate and utilize their powers to the max.

  Therefore, he wasn’t just facing resentful spirits anymore. He was facing a small, organized battalion of resentful spirits.

  He walked down from the top floor, lingering on the eighth for a while. He couldn’t help but look over at the glass cabinet against the wall. The small doll with Xiao Xia’s cute features was turned at an angle facing the wall. He knew Xiao Xia hadn’t been the one to turn away. The resentful spirit occupying her body must have been afraid of him regaining his sight and noticing the change, which was why she had done so.

  She was really cautious. Unfortunately, there was something called being too smart for one’s own good!

  Si Ma Nan thought that with his abilities sealed, Ruan Zhan would be in a predicament inside the empty town. He hadn’t expected the seal to block off the tower’s absorption for Ruan Zhan, preventing his spirit power from draining too quickly. The resentful spirit thought she could fool him by occupying Xiao Xia’s body, but hadn’t realized he had already recovered his sight. He had also communicated with Xiao Xia telepathically and knew everything already. Now, he was going to beat them at their own game!

  He resisted the urge to take Xiao Xia’s doll with him, focusing his attention on finding the source of sabotage. He had still been blind when first entering the tower. Although he had made a trip downstairs earlier, he had to pretend his sight was not yet recovered so he couldn’t look around. This was his first opportunity to carefully observe his surroundings.

  The eighth floor was still circular, but the layout was more normal. There were large windows towards the east and west. Due to the surrounding fog, it wasn’t possible to see much outside. The tower was in the center of town and it was so tall. It should be possible to overlook the entire town, and it was the place with the best view.

  Apart from the two windows, there was only those large glass cabinets. Various different small porcelain dolls were placed inside. They were definitely used to contain resentful spirits. The tower was built in the appearance of a temple pagoda. The idea was probably to light incense here once the townsfolk moved in. That way, after those resentful spirits got sent to the place they belong, they would have sincere incense burning to bless them. It was clear the architect of this tower felt a trace of guilt towards these resentful spirits.

  Had he been one of the culprits responsible for the situation today? Who on earth was he?

  Ruan Zhan couldn’t help but glance at the cabinet again. Then, his gaze was arrested by the form of the eight trigrams on the floor. The trigrams were inlaid in the floor. It was made of bamboo and treated with some sort of method. The bamboo was dark and shiny, and it was really quite hard to notice in the murky room.

  Ruan Zhan walked over and looked down. He sensed the bamboo contained a bit of spirit power. Although it wasn’t strong, it was sufficient to turn the pattern into something extraordinary. However, the pattern had been slightly changed. A small, hard to notice corner was missing. The eight trigrams were no longer complete.

  He looked up and saw there were the same trigrams in the ceiling that corresponded to the one on the floor. It had also been slightly damaged, though in a different location.

  “He’s really a one trick pony!” Ruan Zhan cursed coldly in his mind. During the Fallen Flower Cave Maidens case, Si Ma Nan had also unobtrusively ruined the stone trigrams outside the “Woman Flower” entertainment city. He had only changed a small part but it had changed the object from one that expelled evil into one that summoned it.

  The eight trigrams were of the utmost yang. Although it looked just like a pattern to the uninitiated and there didn’t seem to be any difference, each of the eight trigrams couldn’t have any errors. While it was fine as a decorative piece otherwise, it would be useless when placed as a part of an evil-warding formation. The formation would also lose its purpose.

  Therefore, what Si Ma Nan did might be simple, but it had the most destructive effect!  This was his usual method, always with a hint of disdain towards everyone else.

  The damaged parts were different between floor and ceiling. Therefore, Ruan Zhan concentrated on the difference, memorizing it, before starting downstairs.

  Looking over every floor, Ruan Zhan discovered the layouts were pretty much the same. Since the tower was conical, the lower the floor the larger the area. Yet regardless of the size, each floor had glass cabinets filled with porcelain dolls. It’s just that below the eighth floor, the dolls were no longer special. They looked to merely be works of art depicting some historical figures and folklore. There was no trace of yin energy. They were simply ornaments.

  Of course, each floor had its own eight trigrams in the center of the floor. However, that was it. Only the eighth floor had a corresponding one on the ceiling. It was like the pattern on the ninth floor had seeped through the floor. Furthermore, the size of the trigrams was inversely proportional to the size of the floor. The larger the floor, the smaller the trigram. The positions were also not identical. Moreover, they were no longer made of the special bamboo. Instead, they were a kind of invisible pattern that couldn’t be seen by the naked eye. Only those with spirit powers like him were able to see it.

  Without exception, each of the trigrams were slightly damaged.

  All in all, from the second floor to the eighth, there were a total of eight eight-trigrams formations. The places they were damaged were all different. He had also counted the number of dolls on the eighth floor. Not including Xiao Xia’s group, there were a total of a hundred and seventy-three. This meant that during the miscarriage of justice back then, a total of a hundred and seventy-three people had died at once! Such a large event had actually been thoroughly covered up. Even the locals didn’t know much about it. Those responsible were clearly powerful and used impressive methods!

  The first floor was significantly different from the others. There were no trigrams, just an irregular pattern of one large and eight small clocks on the floor. The walls and ceiling were covered in paintings of Buddha, Bodhisattva, and Arhat, looking both beautiful and divine. However, the tower had been corrupted by evil aura. Its air of dignity was no more.

  Ruan Zhan observed his surroundings carefully. Although he wasn’t too familiar with divination, the five elements and the eight trigrams, he was able to deduce that this formation should still have an area that was the most critical.

  After looking around, he hadn’t found anything. The first floor was like a large worship hall. It didn’t have any secret mechanisms or hidden rooms.

  Ruan Zhan pondered for a moment. He didn’t think his analysis was wrong. He recalled that when they ran from the plaza to the tower, the winding walkway had also felt like they were going uphill. There had also been several steps leading up to the tower doors. He had almost tripped over them as he charged into the tower. This meant that the first floor was much higher than the water level outside. Which was to say there might very well be a sublevel!

  Things were easier with a target. He focused his attention on the floor.

  Theoretically, his soul form should be able to spot things normal humans could not. Yet he wasn’t able to see what was below the floor. This meant that the floor had been specially treated. He could only shift his spirit power into his Yinyang Eye. After a dozen or so seconds, he finally saw something special about the floor.

  He rejoiced in his heart and hurriedly gathered his will. He reached the spot in the center between the large clock and the smaller ones. He had just understood that it was hollow underneath, allowing him to pass through.

  There was an enormous basement beneath this floor. The area far exceeded the base of the tower. It was like an underground parking lot. He stood there looking up at from where he entered. The gaps between the clocks where he had passed through formed a strange shape. It seemed a little threatening, like a hand pressing tightly against the floor.

  There was a huge trigrams formation in the center of the basement floor. However, this pattern was formed from water. The eight trigrams had been dug into the ground and the gaps had filled with water.

  It was lake water!

  So the floor was even with the surrounding artificial lake. The resulting pattern was formed due to the principle of equilibrium!

  Water was aligned with Yin. This naturally formed eight trigrams of water had a huge effect on the entire tower. However, it was currently also damaged. It wasn’t just slightly damaged, but thoroughly ruined. It wasn’t that someone destroyed the lake. The water just contained many things that shouldn’t be there.

  The trigrams upstairs had all had a piece removed. Those things were now added to this water trigram.

  “How convenient for him. He didn’t bring anything when he came, nor did he take anything when he left. He just moved a bit of each trigram upstairs and added it all here. This completely ruined the layout of the tower!” Ruan Zhan didn’t know whether he should admire or disdain Si Ma Nan for being so opportunistic.

  He was thoroughly impressed with Si Ma Nan’s meticulous plans though.

  He ruined different places in each trigram that were extremely minor yet the most critical. Then, he took the bamboo and those invisible materials and threw them into the water trigram, putting in a lot of effort to mess things up. If Ruan Zhan hadn’t taken the time to seriously memorize each point of damage from every floor, he wouldn’t have any idea how to fix things!

  He bent over and picked out the things that didn’t belong. He first restored the water trigram’s functionality before taking the extra things with him. He also cast a spell to turn the bamboo invisible. Only then did he go back upstairs, restoring the trigrams on each floor. At this moment, he felt things were quite miraculously coincidental. If he hadn’t been in his soul form, he wouldn’t have been able to discover and enter the basement.

  The basement had been sealed during construction. The entrance had been surrounded by those clocks with innate astral aura. Resentful spirits couldn’t see or enter that place. He didn’t know how Si Ma Nan pulled it off, but he himself only discovered it due to a stroke of luck.

  Furthermore, he realized the moment he entered the basement, his spirit powers swiftly recovered. This meant that as long as he left the tower’s standard area, his spirit powers would no longer be restricted. This gave him a possible method for his final battle with Si Ma Nan.

  He patiently and seriously restored the tower’s suppressive powers based on his memory. He hadn’t realized that while he was in the basement, a figure silently crept up the stairs. It was no spirit, but an actual person!

  It was Mao Fu! “Surprised?” Mao Fu was like a kid playing house as he moved the small porcelain dolls containing Xiao Xia, Liu Hong, Zhao Jia Yuan, Reporter Ma and Ah Bai over to one side, moving the other dolls away.

  “I’m not insane.” He continued speaking smugly. “I was just pretending to be.”

  “You’re a despicable traitor!” Although Xiao Xia knew her voice was like that of a mosquito’s, she still couldn’t help but curse. She had hated Mao Fu from the start. She felt that beneath his refined exterior hid something sinister. She didn’t expect him to be worse than she imagined.

  Mao Fu unexpectedly heard Xiao Xia’s words. However, he didn’t look ashamed at all. Instead, he was still as pleased with himself as before. “A wise man submits to his circumstances. Now, based on the current circumstances, helping those great immortals is much better than being stuck inside these porcelain dolls. Did you guys know? They won’t let you out. Once your bodies are used up, they will be thrown into the lake to feed the fish. Your souls will remain here forever, to be admired, played with and even bought by people. Day after day, year after year, it will never end. Don’t worry, I will come visit you guys! Teehee…”

  He desperately suppressed his laughter but his expression was exceptionally excited. It seemed extremely weird and horrifying in contrast to the empty and murky tower.

  He said he wasn’t insane, but his state made Xiao Xia uncertain about that fact.

  “Let me out! Let me out!” Liu Hong started crying. “As long as you let me go, I won’t tell anyone anything! I beg you, help me! I will repay you. I’ll give you whatever you want! I can give myself to you too. Don’t you like me?”

  Liu Hong begged under Mao Fu’s continued laughter.

  Xiao Xia wished she was able to move, just so she could slap Liu Hong a couple times more! For some reason, this woman always stirred up her violent urges! Was she still a woman? She had no self-respect at all. Why did so many people place such a despicable character on a pedestal!?

  “What about you guys?” Mao Fu glanced at Xiao Xia and Ah Bai.

  Xiao Xia didn’t know how he knew about Ah Bai. Perhaps he knew about her soul being placed into the porcelain doll. Mao Fu’s lewd appearance made her almost throw up despite being a porcelain doll. Seeing his dirty hands reach out towards her, she desperately shoved sideways. Her unmoving “body” shifted, almost toppling off the shelf.

  Mao Fu was startled and instinctively reached out. “Careful, you’ll lose your lives if you fall off. You’ll be gone like those great immortals.” His face had paled.

  “I’m not afraid.” Xiao Xia stubbornly said.

  “You aren’t afraid?” Mao Fu laughed angrily, his face pale and green with a little malevolence. “Then how about I smash you.”

  “You don’t dare.” The silent Ah Bai suddenly interrupted. “Your master still wants to use Xiao Xia to threaten Ruan Zhan. How could you be allowed to mess around?” She was usually gentle, but couldn’t help get a little angry at this moment.

  “Nonsense!” Mao Fu looked as if he had been caught out in a lie. “Then I’ll try smashing her right now!”

  “Fine, go ahead!” Xiao Xia yelled angrily.

  Mao Fu reached out his hand but lingered by Xiao Xia’s side for a while, ultimately not clamping down. He tossed his hands, circled in place a few times and finally grabbed Liu Hong’s doll. He lifted her high, and under her long scream, threw her viciously on the floor.

  The was a crack as the doll shattered. A woman’s sobs sounded from the floor. Then, a small transparent shadow seemed to be involuntarily sucked into the fog outside the tower.

  The woman’s cry and the shattered pieces on the floor shocked Xiao Xia and Ah Bai. They didn’t know the crying of Liu Hong the human would be so different from that of Liu Hong the ghost. The former was annoying while the latter was sinister.  Furthermore, although Xiao Xia hated Liu Hong, and would sometimes curse her, she hadn’t wanted her to die. She also didn’t expect it would happen so easily. Therefore, the sudden turn of events truly shocked her!

  “How about it? Scared yet?” Mao Fu said smugly.

  Xiao Xia was extremely furious beneath her fright. They were both human, but how could someone be so despicable and shameless!?

  “Why should I be afraid of you? You’re just a traitor!”

  “You aren’t afraid? Fine, I’ll smash Zhao Jia Yuan!” He reached towards him as he spoke.

  “Don’t do it! Mayor Mao!” Zhao Jia Yuan was stunned. “I beg you, let me live. I’m ok with remaining here forever. You can do as you please, just let me live!”

  “Stop hurting people!” Xiao Xia shrieked. “We’re all human, how can you do such a thing? “I’m scared, ok? Just, just put him down!”

  “I beg you!” Zhao Jia Yuan continued to cry. “I’ve been your lackey for so many years. I followed you with all my heart. Spare my life! I’ll continue to do your bidding, just treat me as your dog! Spare the life of your dog.”

  Mao Fu raised Zhao Jia Yuan up high but hesitated. His words seemed to have moved him slightly. After all, Zhao Jia Yuan was already his dog. When he was pretending to be insane, Zhao Jia Yuan had never run off by himself no matter the danger. He was definitely a loyal dog.

  On the side, Xiao Xia saw his expression grow a little calmer and let out a breath. She thought Zhao Jia Yuan would temporarily keep his life.

  Mao Fu’s expression suddenly changed. He raised his arm and said softly: “You did very well in the past. I will take care of your family. Unfortunately, I can’t let anyone else know about my matters. I can’t take the risk. Furthermore, you are no longer of any use!” After speaking, he flicked his wrist. After another soul-shaking crash, Zhao Jia Yuan was also smashed into pieces, his soul sucked away.

  “You’re really cruel! You’re not worthy of being human.” Ah Bai’s kind heart could not endure the two tragedies before her eyes. Her voice was trembling.

  Xiao Xia couldn’t speak. Mao Fu actually harmed his own without any hesitation. These actions were beneath those of a pig or dog. To think someone could be so selfish, despicable and repulsive for the sake of self-preservation!

  “Whose turn is it now? Reporter Ma?”

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