The speed at which the fog contracted was too quick, approaching the space controlled by the talismans in the blink of an eye. The area protected by those talismans wasn’t a barrier, but more like a formless network. The light they gave off was also a deterrent for things of a fiendish nature.
However, the gathered resentment was just too powerful. The force of the attack was multiplied manifold, causing the formless network to start creaking. It sounded like a tottering house in midair on the verge of collapse!
Ruan Zhan shot another lightning palm out, wanting to sever the fog. However, a large rock flew in from the side to block it in midair. The blue sparks turned the stone to powder which sprinkled down from the sky.
Looking over, he saw Xin Xin and Zhao Jia Yuan who was possessed by some unknown fellow. They stood next to a nearby flowerbed, gripping chunks of cement and bricks, ready to block whatever magic Ruan Zhan used.
At this rate, he was unable to focus on one thing without losing sight of the other. If he wanted to maintain the talisman network, he would be unable to attack the two leaders. If he attacked the two, he couldn’t maintain the network. Yet he didn’t have time to ponder. There was a crackle as the talisman in the northwestern corner suddenly turned black and fell to the floor!
Ruan Zhan took several steps back, wanting to patch up the collapsed corner. However, it was already too late. Like a chain reaction, the crackling continued as talismans continued to fall one by one. The interwoven red light grew weaker and weaker until it finally vanished. The sky resumed its original shade of grey.
Those talismans had been hurriedly drawn on rags of cloth so their effects were limited to begin with. Therefore, Ruan Zhan wasn’t surprised they had collapsed under the fog’s assault. He just didn’t think it would happen so quickly, without any chance of remedying the situation. Luckily, the talismans had helped him pull the battlefield from the walkway to the plaza. Furthermore, the fog had condensed into a thick rope, no longer covering the entire city. This allowed some light to shine upon the space, and also gave him room to battle the spirits.
However, the moment the network vanished, the rope of fog immediately shot over, trying to wrap Ruan Zhan up!
Seeing this, he immediately extended two fingers on his right hand while drawing a circular symbol with a long tail using his left hand, forcibly halting the approaching fog in midair.
Both sides were at an impasse!
Ruan Zhan stood next to the lake, his right hand pointing upwards. His left hand still held onto the symbol’s end but he didn’t send it out. On the other side, Xin Xin and “Zhao Jia Yuan” stood in the middle of the plaza. They waved their arms forcefully, trying to force the fog closer to Ruan Zhan’s body.
Under their urging, the rope twisted and turned like a fiendish black snake. It pressed towards Ruan Zhan bit by bit, spawning a bitingly cold wind that reeked of blood which formed into a tornado that blew towards Ruan Zhan. It became hard for him to stand steady and he was forced to squint.
The gust of wind was too strong. Apart from Ruan Zhan and the tower, everything else was swept away from their original spots. Dirt and stones filled the plaza and the sky grew dark. The water in the lake behind him also started churning with waves, striking against the shore with bone-scraping chill. His clothes were soaked, but he didn’t retreat a single step, standing firmly in place. There was not a hint of fluster in his expression.
“Strangle him!” Xin Xin shouted, her voice fierce like the howl of a beast.
Ruan Zhan slightly turned his head away, truly unwilling to see her deranged appearance. That was Xiao Xia’s body after all. How could such a cute face be twisted in such malevolence?!
Along with Xin Xin’s cry, the rope of fog twisted even more fiercely. It gradually got the upper hand as it slowly constricted.
“Give it a little more effort, he can’t hold on any longer!” Xin Xin called excitedly and startled laughing madly. The three meter wide rope finally landed upon Ruan Zhan, wrapping him up layer by layer from head to foot as if to suffocate him inside. From a distance, it looked like a black cocoon!
The only thing that remained outside was Ruan Zhan’s left hand, the hand still holding the symbol!
Watching from the side, Xin Xin was very confused why the black rope could cover all of Ruan Zhan’s body but not his left hand. She also didn’t understand what he had drawn. Why did he only resist, but not struggle? She felt Ruan Zhan wasn’t as strong as their helper had described. Had that person been talking nonsense or was Ruan Zhan acting?
She forced the rope to keep constricting while doubtfully observing Ruan Zhan’s movements. She saw his left fingers loosen a little and suddenly had a very bad feeling…
“Quickly release him!” She shouted instinctively, dropping her hands at the same time.
However, it was too late.
Although she had withdrawn her strength, the rope of fog was still wrapped around Ruan Zhan. His hand outside had completely relaxed, as if having let go of something.
There was a swish, like a firework shooting into the sky. However, there was no beautiful burst of sparks. Instead, a subtle breeze swirled around before vanishing above Ruan Zhan’s head.
Had he drawn a talisman? Xin Xin thought fearfully.
She had seen his left hand moving around earlier, but assumed he was steadying himself under the intense winds. She hadn’t thought it might have been something else. From the looks of things, he was casting a spell!
That person had said Ruan Zhan was very powerful. It wasn’t like she hadn’t believed him. He could shoot out blue lightning that could vaporize them at a touch. He could shoot fire with a casual wave of his hand. Yet she had believed their combined strength, their schemes and their fierce resentment could destroy everything!
Yet now she actually started to have some doubts.
She saw that Ruan Zhan remained unmoving. The rope around him no longer tightened, probably trying to obey Xin Xin and release him. However, it found it was unable to do so. There seemed to be a strong suction that kept it in place!
“Hurry and retreat!” Xin Xin shouted again. She reached out her hands in a pulling gesture. However, heat suddenly appeared out of nowhere, burning her into immediately letting go.
Before she could cry out in pain, a ray of white light appeared before her. Then came a second and a third. The light hadn’t come from the air or somewhere else. They had come from Ruan Zhan’s body.
More precisely, they had come from within the rope of fog!
“Spare us…let us out!”
Familiar wails and tragic cries sounded from the fog. The resentful spirits cried and begged, making Xin Xin recall the matter that night. She didn’t want to listen any longer, but her companions weren’t able to leave Ruan Zhan’s body. The rays of light penetrated the fog one by one, covering the initially firm wall with tiny holes, until it seemed about to collapse!
In the span of a dozen seconds, the rope of fog wrapped around Ruan Zhan’s split off at the waist, revealing his unharmed upper torso. The broken piece fell to the floor, turning into severed, burnt limbs that struggled to crawl to the plaza’s center.
“Let go! Otherwise I will destroy this woman’s body!” Xin Xin was extremely anxious. She rushed a few steps in Ruan Zhan’s direction, a shining dagger held in one of her hands pointed at her own throat.
Ruan Zhan laughed coldly. “I gave you all a chance. You were the one who decided to be ruthless, unwilling to give others any chance of life. You should have understood not to turn from victims to perpetrators!”
“Are you letting them go or not?”
“You don’t dare kill her. Your helper needs her alive, right?” Ruan Zhan pulled off a piece of foggy rope and threw it to the ground. Although he still stood in place, he had freed his own right hand.
“How did you…” Xin Xin didn’t expect to be unable to fool Ruan Zhan, and almost blurted out the truth.
“That person understands me, so why wouldn’t I understand him?” He started drawing in midair again as he spoke. “If you let her go, I might be a bit more merciful and not cut off all means of escape!”
Seeing that Ruan Zhan wouldn’t be threatened, Xin Xin was powerless for the moment. However, she had a flash of insight and slowly moved her dagger to her face, smiling. “That’s right, that person needs Yue Xiao Xia alive. However, it’s not like I have to kill her. Say, what if I blind one of her eyes? Or both? Then cut her tongue off? How about it? I’ll let you choose!”
Ruan Zhan’s expression changed.
There was a hint of rage in his eyes but he didn’t hesitate, loudly chanting an unintelligible spell.
The remaining rope around his body suddenly loosened as if released, and fell to the floor with a thud. It also turned into countless burnt corpse pieces that crawled swiftly to the plaza’s center, hiding around Xin Xin!
There was no trace of fog remaining around the plaza at this time. However, it was still murky and nothing could be seen in the sky. The scene on the ground was extremely weird. Ruan Zhan still stood by the lake and a pretty and fair woman stood facing him in the middle of the plaza. A pile of burnt corpse pieces lay at her feet!
Ruan Zhan pointed at Xin Xin. “Release your talons. You won’t be able to withstand the consequences of hurting her!”
Xin Xin laughed coldly. “No need to threaten me. However, I won’t easily harm her. She is my bargaining chip after all!” Despite saying this, she still loosened her hand, a little fearful of the aura Ruan Zhan was releasing.
“I won’t let you use her as a chip.” Ruan Zhan said softly. Then, his lips moved slightly as he swiftly drew a symbol.
His words were too soft and movements too strange. Xin Xin hadn’t understood what he was doing yet when he suddenly moved forward, appearing in front of her in the blink of an eye. He grabbed her by her pulse while his other hand slammed mercilessly upon “Zhao Jia Yuan’s” head!
He wanted to snatch Xiao Xia’s body. The short-ranged space warping technique allowed him to teleport. The lack of fog in the area allowed him to do as he pleased.
As for Zhao Jia Yuan, he was already dead. There was no need to be concerned about that fleshly vessel. However, he wasn’t going to let the spirit possessing it hinder his next move!