Ruan Zhan walked down the tower step by step.
Outside, the fog had already reached the edges of the tower. The initially greyish-white fog had already turned black, submerging everything within like ink. It also gave off the scent of blood in waves, making those within feel as if they were inside an endless nightmare.
Ruan Zhan steadily opened the doors to the tower and was immediately assaulted by a bone-chilling wind. The sensation wasn’t just cold, but also contained traces of indescribable stinging pain, as if countless needles within the wind stabbed into his skin.
He wasn’t flustered. Instead, as if brushing off dust from his body, he swept his hand across his chest, immediately pulling out something formless from within his body. He silently chanted several lines silently, and coldly stared as the transparent fog within his grasp slowly turned into a burnt hand. At the same time, he drew a talisman with his other hand and gestured. A large hole was burned into the ghostly hand. No matter how it struggled, it couldn’t escape its fate of being melted into nothing!
A wail sounded from the black fog, but Ruan Zhan was most merciless in his battle state and paid no attention to it. He drew symbols in the air to erect a protective barrier around himself and stepped out of the tower.
There wasn’t the slightest wind but the black fog roiled as if being blown. It wrapped tightly around Ruan Zhan’s barrier, knocking noisily as it tried to worm its way inside. This resulted in a large resistive force against Ruan Zhan. He was like a boat going against the current, each step being rather difficult. He furrowed his brows and gathered energy in his palm. He pushed outwards while trudging forwards, as if pushing an invisible yet heavy door. Within moments, sweat started trickling down his face.
He knew competing in strength like this was disadvantageous. Not only were those resentful spirits very unified, they were also very organized under the command of the one possessing Xiao Xia’s body. Although they weren’t quite able to conjure up a killing formation, the fog’s color and aura indicated they were of one mind and reckless in pursuit of their goals.
The surroundings were pitch black and he couldn’t see where he was going. He relied on his senses and felt that he had reached the middle of the winding walkway upon the lake. This wasn’t a safe distance yet. The battle might still threated the safety of the tower. Despite this, it still gave him some room to act.
Therefore, he stopped moving, one hand supporting the barrier while his other reached into his shirt.
His movements caused the surrounding fog to swiftly shrink back, clearing out an area in front of the barrier. The resentful spirits were clearly still very wary of him. This gave him a second of respite, allowing him to fully prepare. He dispelled his barrier and tossed the things he took out into the air, the order and positions already calculated in advance.
Red lights flashed through the air as ten talismans hung suspended, resonating with each other, forming an invisible net over his head. Although the red lights seemed a little weak compared to the black fog surrounding them, they were able to force the fog back three meters.
He had drawn those talismans during the time he was unobserved. He didn’t have anymore talisman paper on hand at the time, and used his white shirt he had torn up to bind Mao Fu. He had drawn hurriedly using his own blood. This was why he had remained inside the room for so long after knocking Mao Fu out. Because of this, the talismans’ power was reduced, and could only hold out for a little while.
He had to finish this quickly!
Thinking of this, he shot out a lightning palm straight ahead. The blue sparks flashed across, accompanied by startled cries. A split appeared in the black fog, as if a crack had appeared within a set of large black curtains. Yet it was only for an instant. Before Ruan Zhan could see what was behind the fog, it closed up once again.
Seeing this, Ruan Zhan didn’t hesitate and continued sending lightning palms and flaming handprints into the fog. His target was uncertain but every attack left a gash in the black fog. Although it immediately closed, his continuous strikes made the fog cry out constantly. Quite a few resentful spirits had clearly been injured and the dense black fog gradually grew thinner. There were even some faint gaps appearing in some places. It was like a black piece of cloth that was riddled with holes from insects after laying out for too long. It would tear at the slightest tug!
His round of attacks had forced the black fog to the edge of the lake at some point, revealing the bricks of the plaza! He knew that was a safe distance to battle without worrying about destroying the spirit suppressing tower. Therefore, he took the opportunity to move forward. His hands continued to move while he swiftly approached the lakeside.
As he walked, the talismans above his head spread out along with him. Initially clustered in midair, they grew sparser and the red light grew fainter. Luckily, the red light remained and the black fog had also thinned quite a bit. The cleared areas had grown quite a bit, making it feel less oppressive.
Ruan Zhan reached the lakeside and stood steadily, ceasing his actions. He quietly adjusted his breathing.
It was impossible for him to dispel the fog using his lightning palm and flaming handprint alone. Using such spells would consume his stamina, and he’d be unable to hold on if he kept it up. The reason he forcibly did so was to move the site of battle while also creating a space relatively free of fog. It would make his next steps easier.
Although these resentful spirits feared his small spells, they had hardened their hearts to duke it out with him. Although they had no powers, their towering resentment and wild thirst for vengeance made them difficult to deal with. They were many of them that would pile on, fresh ones replacing the injured like an endless tide.
“Attack, why don’t you keep attacking? Out of energy?” A woman’s mocking voice sounded from behind the fog.
“You can come give it a try.” Ruan Zhan’s hands were bare but his left hand formed a strange seal while his right hand was placed on his left pulse.
“Xin Xin, let’s go all out against him!” An aged voice rang out, clearly extremely angry.
Only now did Ruan Zhan know that the one occupying Xiao Xia’s body was called Xin Xin.
“Don’t be anxious, third uncle. He can’t hold on much longer. We have plenty of energy to pit against him. He’s made of flesh and blood after all, what else could he accomplish?” Xin Xin started laughing disdainfully, her voice sharp. As she laughed, the other resentful spirits started laughing too. All at once, wails and howls resounded as a chill wind blew.
Ruan Zhan knew the resentful spirit called Xin Xin was trying to apply psychological pressure on him. But who was Ruan Zhan? He had dealt with far more dangerous situations. How could he be affected by such minor schemes!?
His profound gaze seemed to penetrate the fog as the corner of his mouth twitched. He actually looked as if he were smiling, though he didn’t say anything to refute her. Yet this didn’t make him appear to be weak to the spirits. Instead, they were convinced by his confidence and pride, making them feel a strong pressure emanating from him!
The two sides remained deadlocked like this for some time. Xin Xin sensed that her side’s momentum might start to wane, and immediately shouted: “Don’t be afraid of him, he’s bluffing! His injuries have just recovered and he can’t hold on much longer. Today, the bloody ocean of debt shall be repaid, no matter what! Besides, he’s hurt so many of us, and even used fire attacks. We cannot let him off!”
She was extremely emotional and the resentful spirits were immediately stirred up again. The wails in the plaza sounded once again.
“You’ve killed so many, isn’t it enough? Haven’t you gotten your revenge?” Ruan Zhan said calmly.
“Save your crocodile tears and false compassion!” Xin Xin roared. “If it weren’t to save that Yue Xiao Xia, would you have come to this town? Who would know what we’ve suffered? Who would seek justice for us? The heavens are blind, allowing the injustice against us to be buried while the evildoers remain free. They’ve even become heroes in the eyes of the townsfolk. Where is the so-called Heaven’s law?”
“That’s right, we will seek our own justice!” A man’s voice shouted.
“Is it still not enough?” Ruan Zhan remained completely emotionless. “Of the culprits back then or their descendants, only Reporter Ma remains alive.”
He tried to avoid having both sides be opposed. After all, these resentful spirits only victims initially, and they had killed quite a few people. However, he didn’t mention the missing Zuo De, whose fate was unknown.
“Let it go. Resentment will only keep your souls from finding peace.” He said.
“Stop your preaching! You aren’t the one who suffered the injustice! Let me tell you, our thirst for vengeance is far from being satiated!” Yin Yin laughed sinisterly. “All those involved must die, including you and Yue Xiao Xia!”
“Why? She is completely unrelated to this matter!”
He wasn’t afraid of death, and he knew there was still another battle with Si Ma Nan to come. However, he wanted to rescue Xiao Xia. He believed Wan Li was waiting outside the town, ready to cooperate with him. If he could deliver Xiao Xia to him, even if he died at Si Ma Nan’s hands, he would still be at peace.
“Because the one helping us wants the corpses of you and Yue Xiao Xia in exchange for the mastermind back then!” Xin Xin said resentfully. “The mastermind must die too! Otherwise, we will never rest in peace!”
She had just finished speaking when various shrieks and growls rang out, repeating the words “the master mind must die”!
Ruan Zhan had a flash of understanding.
Si Ma Nan’s schemes truly ran deep! He destroyed the Great Fengshui Formation that suppressed the spirits while trying to purify their resentment. He then sealed the town using a barrier, cutting off the connection to the outside world and forcing the spirits to rely on him. On the other side, he used Feng Yong Zi and Mao Fu to bring all the participants or their descendants from back then to the new town. However, he left behind the mastermind who most deserved death, Mayor Yuan, so he could force the spirits to do his bidding!
Si Ma Nan wanted to kill him, but didn’t want to personally make a move. Therefore, he used these spirits who desperately wanted revenge. Using Mayor Yuan as the sweetest bait, he made those resentful spirits sacrifice everything in exchange for the mastermind! Even if it failed in the end, Ruan Zhan would be exhausted and maybe even heavily injured. At that time, Si Ma Nan would easily defeat him, humiliate him and eliminate him!
Furthermore, he was sure Si Ma Nan had other plans in place. Those involving Xiao Xia, for example.
If Si Ma Nan only wanted Xiao Xia’s corpse, those resentful spirits would have long since killed her off. There was no need to possess her body and lock her soul up in a small porcelain doll. Besides, he could also personally make a move to deal with Xiao Xia. However, he didn’t do so because he knew clearly she was of great use.
Xin Xin definitely didn’t tell Ruan Zhan the whole truth. Si Ma Nan definitely asked them to kill him, but leave Xiao Xia alive. Si Ma Nan was guarding against the worst case scenario, one where he overcame the spirits while still having enough strength to battle. If that happened, Si Ma Nan would use Xiao Xia as a hostage to make him surrender!
Si Ma Nan didn’t only want to kill him. Death didn’t mean much to someone with abilities like him. Si Ma Nan needed to thoroughly destroy him, wiping him out so it was like he had never existed!
This fit Si Ma Nan’s habits of leaving no room for error, using everyone that could be used and completely eradicating his opponents!
Ruan Zhan actually felt some happiness once he considered this. It meant Xiao Xia’s body was temporarily very safe. However, he still decided to proceed according to his plan. He didn’t know whether Xin Xin would act in desperation to save herself when things got down to it!
“Let’s make a deal. I will hand Mayor Yuan to you guys if you let Yue Xiao Xia go!” Ruan Zhan suggested.
Xin Xin didn’t expect him to say that and froze for a moment. However, the Third Uncle suddenly shouted, “Don’t trust people so easily again, and stop wasting time speaking to him. Kill him!”
This Third Uncle seemed to have been a very authoritative figure when he was alive. His words were exceptionally rousing. Therefore, the moment he spoke, great changes immediately occurred in the surroundings. The black fog which had only been roiling slightly now started boiling over. Like black waves, it threatened to swallow Ruan Zhan whole!
Xin Xin shrieked in a strange pitch. The thin fog surrounding Ruan Zhan swiftly gathered in the middle. Gradually, it no longer covered everything. Instead, the grey sky above and the bricks below were revealed. However, the remainder now formed a three to four meter tall black wall that surrounded Ruan Zhan like a foggy strip!
Both sides were at an impasse once again, but this time the atmosphere was exceptionally tense. The slightest spark would set things off. The foggy strip contained all the power of the resentful spirits, so it appeared exceptionally gloomy, dark and heavy. It pressed down around Ruan Zhan, making him seem like a raft upon raging seas, about to be swallowed up at any moment!
Ruan Zhan stood in place unyieldingly. He shook his head regretfully, looking at two figures beneath the enclosure. Thing seemed to have grown beyond his control. The two figures were “Xiao Xia” and “Zhao Jia Yuan”. The formation above was clearly being controlled by the two of them. This indicated their powers were the strongest amongst the spirits. As long as he defeated them, the battle would be over.
“What will you do now?” “Zhao Jia Yuan” laughed in excitement. Since the soul was not in sync with the body, the voice didn’t match the expression, making his smile extremely twisted and weird, turning him even more sinister.
“Haven’t you heard the saying before?” Ruan Zhan narrowed his eyes slightly. “To capture the bandits, seize their leader first!”
Before his words fell, he suddenly strode towards the two of them. He stared at them unblinkingly as he approached. His momentum and calmness terrified “Zhao Jia Yuan”. He wasn’t able to react right away, cowering back a few steps to hide behind Xin Xin.
Xin Xin also didn’t expect Ruan Zhan to make a move right away. However, she was clearly steadier than “Zhao Jia Yuan”. After a second of hesitation, she waved her hands and cried: “Kill him!”
The enclosure had been quivering like a beast waiting to devour its prey. Therefore, when the “beast tamer” Xin Xin gave the command, it immediately rushed forth, wildly pressing downwards!