Wan Li leapt up.
Master Long lightly waved his hand, indicating for him not to be rash, and pointed towards the window.
Wan Li lightly hopped over, peeking out through the window. He saw a small beast that might have been a wild boar or dog walking into the courtyard, sniffing here and there along the way. It suddenly stopped when it had almost reached the door of the large stone building, and it let out a threatening growl. It seemed ready to roar wildly!
“Don’t let it cry out!” Master Long heard what was going on and hurriedly ordered.
With no weapons nearby, Wan Li hastily snatched up a carving knife from the shelf and threw it over at the animal. It viciously slammed into its side. The animal let out a whine and scurried a few steps back towards the courtyard gates. It turned around and glared viciously at Wan Li through the window. Its furs stood erect and it bared its tooth. Those green eyes suddenly made Wan Li recall that black cat and his mind raced.
He swiftly turned and grabbed all the knives from the shelf. Without time to go through the door, he directly broke through the window. As if playing darts, he threw all the knives at the small animal.
He was strong yet steady and those knives were very sharp. The courtyard was filled with the beast’s whimpers. Not only did it not pounce at Wan Li, it lost its fierceness and fled with its tail between its legs!
The moment it left, Wan Li shut the gates before running to the door of the large stone building. Ignoring the pain in his foot, he grabbed a large metal bolt next to the door and firmly barred the door shut! On the other side, Master Long also locked the interconnecting door. He walked out unhurriedly and stood in the middle of the courtyard, turning to face the building.
He couldn’t see but the surroundings were as familiar as his own body. He didn’t hesitate a single step.
Bang bang bang…
The sound of urgent knocking came from the door. At the same time, creaking and gurgling weird cries sounded out. The puppets linked with the resentful spirits in the new town had clearly been startled by the randomly appearing beast!
“Go fetch the sand table from inside the building.” Master Long instructed. “Also, there’s a small wooden box inside the brick bed chest. Bring that as well.”
Wan Li didn’t stop to speak, immediately going inside to fetch the items. When he passed the interconnecting wooden door, the knocking had already risen to an alarming level. The thick wooden door had also startled to shake, seeming about to collapse at any moment.
At this moment, he understood why Master Long hadn’t constructed a warmer wooden building in the mountains, instead choosing to use two cold yet sturdy stone ones. The reason the doors were all sturdy, heavy and bolted from the outside was in preparation for such a day. What exceptionally impressed him was that in such an emergency, Master Long’s expression was still indifferent, as if nothing had happened.
“Open the wooden box. Take out the black porcelain bottle and alcohol jug.” Master Long heard Wan Li’s footsteps draw close and continued giving orders. “Sprinkle the potion within the alcohol jug onto the two doors and scatter the powder within the porcelain bottle on the ground in front of them. It needs to form a dotted line in a semicircle around three meters away from the door. Scatter just a tiny bit every half a foot. Understood?”
Wan Li made a sound of acknowledgement. He ran over to do so.
At this moment, the knocking became even more violent. One heavy strike after another that struck one’s heart. By the time Wan Li completed Master Long’s tasks, the doors were about to be knocked out of the frame!
“Burn!” This time, Master Long only spoke one word.
“Burn?” Wan Li didn’t understand for a moment.
“Don’t you have a lighter?”
“I do.” Seeing Master Long’s calm expression, Wan Li nodded and complied. He took out a lighter from his backpack and ignited a piece of paper. He first went to burn the interconnecting door between the building.
The moment he tossed out the burning paper, the door soaked by the unknown liquid immediately burst into raging flames. Wan Li hadn’t expected the results to be so explosive and was almost burned. Yet he had no time to ponder things as he rushed to burn the other door. After doing so, he retreated to Master Long’s side.
In just a short while, the sturdy wooden doors were consumed by the fierce flames. Amidst the fiery blaze and explosive crackling, they collapsed!
The moment the doors burned down, the puppets inside that had already turned into fiendish objects ignored the fire as the rushed towards the outside. The ones near the doors had caught fire and they crackled like matches as they stumbled out.
However, they were halted the moment they reached the dotted line formed by the black powder. There seemed to be an invisible wall blocking them that they couldn’t break through no matter how they struggled! There also seemed to be a cold wind that blew towards the inside, causing the sparks to spread the fire to the puppets all the way inside.
Seeing the sea of flames, Wan Li didn’t know what to say.
A hundred and seventy-three puppets had completely ignited, letting out shrill screams as if they were alive. The sound was chilling. They desperately tried to escape the merciless flames but were unable to avoid them no matter how they tried. They could only wallow in fear and frenzy inside the fire, aimlessly colliding as they searched for a nonexistent exit. Wan Li suddenly felt a deep sense of pity.
What a blessing it was to be born and then eventually die peacefully of old age!
Although the puppets had no souls, they resonated with the resentful spirits inside the new town. Therefore, there should be a trace of lingering consciousness. Would those resentful spirits experience another bout of suffering because of this? The cause of their deaths was still a mystery, but they must have also suffered the torment of a fierce fire. Now, they actually had to go through that another time!
“They won’t feel actual pain, and they also won’t know what happened here. It’ll just trigger some memories.” Master Long said. “I’m sure it won’t effect your friend’s actions in the new town.”
Wan Li turned to glance at Master Long, really wondering whether he could read minds. He saw that his face was without a trace of blood, flickering between shadow and light due to the fire. He suddenly felt it was a little frightening.
The fire continued to burn, as if it would never stop. Since the burning puppets weren’t ordinary, the fire burned for an hour before slowly dying down. The air slowly turned from blazing hot to cold. The stone on the buildings had all turned black and only ashes remained inside!
“I’m sorry I wasn’t able to prevent that small beast from crying out, which startled the puppets.” Looking at the scene of devastation, Wan Li apologized.
“They were startled the moment the beast entered” Master Long said regretfully. “It was unavoidable. Luckily you drove the beast off in time, not allowing them to become even stronger.”
“Where…are you going to live now?” Wan Li looked at the sky.
Dawn came early in the mountains and it was currently summer. Therefore, the faint glow of dawn had already appeared in the east.
“Where I should be going.” This was the first time Master Long used such a profound tone when speaking. He took out a black folded umbrella from the wooden box and opened it up. “We should also get going.”
“Where to?” Because Master Long hadn’t clearly stated he would go to the new town and support Ruan Zhan, Wan Li didn’t dare assume. He hurriedly asked.
“To the new town.” Master long let out a sigh. “It’s time to end things!”
Wan Li was elated at the unexpected news. He had endured all sorts of hardship to get to this place. It was all for the sake of finding this mysterious master and help Ruan Zhan unravel the mysteries. Now, he was finally able to do so.
He secured the bloodwood sword on his back and wanted to help Master Long carry his stuff. However, Master Long was only willing to let him carry the sand table, and wanted to personally carry the wooden box.
“You don’t have to worry. This sand table, as long as you don’t turn it over, the things on top won’t shift. This includes the water inside the saucer.”
Wan Li tried it out doubtfully. It was as he said, and Wan Li couldn’t help but be extremely amazed. However, before he could satisfy his curiosity a little, Master Long directed him to push a handcart over from behind the stone building. Then, they left with him pulling Master Long along.
Before leaving, Master Long didn’t forget to whisper a few things to the spirits inside the patrolling puppets. He also never lowered his opened umbrella. When Wan Li asked about it, he found out that the elder had a rare skin disease and couldn’t get any sunlight on him.
It was probably due to having stayed in this dark stone building for a decade, guarding the formation!
Wan Li thought this as he headed to the new town’s northern gates with Master Long. Master Long had calculated that if Ruan Zhan were to act today, that would be the most advantageous position for them.
Due to long burning fire, Wan Li had recovered some of his stamina. Since Master Long was rather frail, Wan Li was still able to pull him along in the cart despite going through mountain roads. He took the opportunity to get some information about the new town. Apart from how those a hundred and seventy-three people died back then, Master Long didn’t hide much and told him everything he knew.
It turned out the new town’s fengshui aura all gathered at the tower’s location. The town was designed around the tower, and everything was built with it as the center. The reason that location was chosen was because the position was one with plenty of Yang energy and also because of that kiln facility.
Wan Li’s conjecture had been correct. The first kiln back then had truly been created by mixing the corpses of those hundred and seventy-three people along with clay. However, they hadn’t been thrown in the kiln while alive. Their corpses had been thrown in after death to destroy the evidence. The majority of the first kiln was bricks. To cover things up, only a small portion had been made into porcelain. These pieces of porcelain had also been destroyed using the excuse of poor quality, and also turned into bricks in the end.
Those bricks were all sent to the new town to construct houses, and were mixed into each house. Theoretically speaking, these houses were inauspicious. However, if the resentful aura could be successfully purified, the brimming Yang energy and flowing air meant it would no longer be a problem once people moved in.
The reason six pieces of porcelain that slipped through the cracks was due to Feng Yong Zi’s strong obsession. He could not leave his mother behind, so his spirit lingered in after being turned into porcelain and kept begging Boss Sun’s father. Boss Sun’s father had been against Mayor Yuan’s actions to begin with, and was deathly afraid afterwards. Along with feeling pity for Feng Yong Zi, and also wanting to leave himself a way out, he secretly took those pieces out. He didn’t know which one’s contained Feng Yong Zi’s scattered soul and thus took a total of six pieces.
Not long after Master Long was invited to handle this case, he found out about Feng Yong Zi’s outcome. However, he felt guilty towards the Feng family and this pretended not to know. He thought Feng Yong Zi and two remnant souls wouldn’t be able to affect the overall situation. He didn’t expect Feng Yong Zi would one day become an “accomplice”.
“That was really a major project. No wonder they shut themselves inside the kiln facility for two week!” Wan Li said with gritted teeth. He didn’t think people could be so ruthless. The culprit was even the widely acclaimed mayor, along with many related officials. He just didn’t understand how someone in their right mind could do such a thing, and to so many corpses. Weren’t they afraid? Didn’t they feel guilty? Were the elders speaking the truth when they said those people were under enchantment back then?
Master Long didn’t speak. Wan Li could see he didn’t wish to continue this topic, and decided to ask something else.
“How did you know Ah Zhan…I mean my friend, has innate gifts?”
“It’s simple. I knew that you were looking everywhere for me, and would naturally look into your situation. Besides, the sand table showed that after the grand fengshui formation was broken, a new formation formed around the new town. Afterwards, that formation was broken as well, and another formation replaced it once again. Soon after, the tower’s fengshui formation showed some signs of recovery. You mentioned your friend having inadvertently got involved. Therefore, I guessed the one who entered the new town afterwards was him. Furthermore, he has an innate gift, because that feeling…” Master Long pondered over the right wording. “That feeling is very extraordinary. It’s not something that can be acquired through cultivation.”
“Do you think he can win?”
“What do you think?” Master Long asked in return.
“He will definitely win, because he always does. Although he always ends up beaten black and blue, he is always the last one standing!” Wan Li also laughed. “What am I so worried about. I’ll just assist him with everything I have.”
“The opponent is very strong.”
“That’s right. I suspect he was the one who sent the small beast from before. Therefore, going to help Ah Zhan will have some risk involved. Hopefully you won’t end up getting implicated.”
“Implicating me?” Master Long said softly. “I’m afraid it won’t be that simple.”
Wan Li was pulling the cart so he was facing away. Therefore, he couldn’t see Master Long’s expression. He just felt his tone was both desolate and proud, and he suddenly felt very sad for him. Such a fengshui master actually ended up in this state due to some ties of affection!
The reason he was able to find Master Long was completely due to Feng Yong Zi’s words. When he went to ask Feng Yong Zi about the case back then, and they almost ended up arguing, Feng Yong Zi had said in his agitation: Karma? In this world…the good die young and the wicked live long lives! My mom is kind. During the Cultural Revolution, she risked becoming a pariah and assisted one of the persecuted. No one cared about him at the time. Someone so capable was about to starve to death. Yet what happened in the end? That bastard, for the sake of his nephew, actually…!
He realized afterwards that those persecuted during the revolution were mainly monks, daoists and what not. A fengshui master like Master Long should be one of them. Furthermore, Feng Yong Zi mentioned that his mom had saved that person, but he had betrayed the kindness for the sake of his nephew. If the main culprit was Mayor Yuan, then he guessed that Master Long was Mayor Yuan’s uncle.
Si Ma Nan had caused the entire town to have nightmares, making no one dare tell him about the matter back then. However, he had forgotten something. With Feng Yong Zi guarding his mom, Lady Feng wouldn’t have fallen into that dream. Although her mind was muddled due to her loss, she wasn’t really insane. It was a sort of mental block, a way to protect herself. Of course it wasn’t something that stumped a capable psychiatrist like himself.
Therefore, he had chatted with Lady Feng during the day. Feng Yong Zi wasn’t able to come out and stop him. Lady Feng was happy to have someone to reminisce with. Wan Li thus smoothly found out that the one she saved back then really was Mayor Yuan’s uncle! He was the Master Long whom Wan Li was pulling along in the cart. His full name was Yuan Long, the mysterious fengshui master whose name resounded throughout the area!
This was pulling out the head of a string within a tangled mess. Having this end in hand, everything else fell in place. He just had to follow the clues as before!
He didn’t mind that Master Long refused to tell him how the matter back then started, and he didn’t force him. He figured Master Long had his own difficulties. Now that the culprit was found, would the crimes still remain buried?
Thinking of this, Wan Li no longer spoke. He focused on pulling Master Long steadily to the new town’s northern gates.
When they arrived, the sky was already completely bright.
Master Long circled around a few times after getting off the cart, and then pointed. “Is there a taller tree over there?”
Wan Li looked towards where he pointed and saw there were indeed tall trees. It wasn’t just one, each of them were very lush, and from the distance they formed a verdant jungle.
Actually, Hongqing Town’s location and design were both extremely well chosen. It had mountains on one side and water on the other. Apart from the main asphalt road, both sides were surrounded by lush trees. The scenery and environment were both excellent. Regardless of the situation inside, the outside was very presentable.
“There are a lot of tall trees.” Wan Li answered.
“That’s good. Help me head over in that direction.” Master Long reached out his hand.
Wan Li hurriedly supported him. From the point of contact, he felt his body was extremely cold. Luckily it was still soft, or he would have thought he was supporting a corpse.
As they walked, Wan Li heard Master Long muttering something unintelligible. They only stopped after walking over a hundred meters. They had stopped at a relatively flatter area surrounded by several large trees. Thick undergrowth surrounded them. It was like they were buried by plants. Anyone passing by wouldn’t be able to see this place. Under the weak rays of the morning sun, the chill and dampness from the thicket also wafted over!
Master Long had Wan Li pull up the weeds in a two meter radius. Then, he handed him something that looked like a latticed bell. “Hang this sweet gum fruit on that tree, around two meters up is fine. Remember, the side with the writing should face the northern gates.”
Wan Li did as instructed. Afterwords, Master Long no longer paid attention to him as he circled the small clearing by himself. His steps were peculiar, as if he was measuring something. He alternated between going clockwise and counterclockwise. Every time he stopped, he took out an object covered in spellscript from the small wooden box. There were small flags, bells, two-inch long wooden swords, and many wooden plaques which he inserted into the floor.
Before long, the surroundings were filled with these strange objects.
Master Long raised his foot and accurately stepped over the obstacles on the outer edge of the clearing. He stood by the sand table which had been placed in a certain location in advance. He clasped his fingers in calculation and said: “The formation is complete. This place resonates best with the tower on the town’s node. Now, your friend can act at any time.”
He had just finished speaking when a blue spark of lightning flashed above the sky of the new town!