Book 6 Chapter 38: Changes

 Si Ma Nan roared with laughter which contained arrogance and smugness.

  As he laughed, he walked around the clearing, trampling all of Master Long’s formation objects. Although he was laughing, his actions expressed his fury.

  He had always viewed himself above everyone else. His repeated losses at Ruan Zhan’s hands was something he was already unable to endure. He hadn’t expected a fengshui master who had died many years ago to also go against him. Firstly he was able to hide from him and then he used a mere formation to force him to wander around for six or seven hours!

  If the old fogey had used the wood and earth of the forest to create the formation, that would be one thing. But when he realized that randomly placed crappy objects in the clearing was enough to befuddle him, he was even more enraged!

  Furthermore, he knew the plan with the resentful spirits in the new town had failed. His carefully crafted scheme of borrowing someone’s knife had been ruined by that youngster Ruan Zhan! This meant he had no choice but to personally deal with him. What pissed him off even more was that he was actually a little nervous. He didn’t have absolute confidence in his victory. He was even…a little afraid!

  This was the major taboo for a cultivator: being a shade timid before the battle even started! However, he knew he had to fight this time. He couldn’t allow Ruan Zhan to keep growing stronger. He also couldn’t let the item he yearned for fall into his hands!

  That was something he had been after all his life! No matter the price, he had to obtain it!

  But…where was Wan Li?

  He had been with that old fogey the whole time. Why had he vanished now?

  Si Ma Nan furrowed his brows and looked around, but didn’t see any sign of him. He sniffed, but didn’t detect any living aura. Where had he hidden himself? Did that old fogey know he was coming and have that youngster leave first?

  He walked into the closest bush and carefully searched around, but there were still no results. He returned to the clearing and combed the place inch by inch. A large rock next to the clearing attracted his attention.

  This was the middle of the forest. Why would there be such a large rock? The shape was also a little strange. It looked like someone curled up in a fetal position!

  Si Ma Nan involuntarily walked over!

  Wan Li had been feeling bewildered. The place he was in wasn’t that well hidden. There were only a few bushes in front of him. Why hadn’t Si Ma Nan seen him? He had gone through the bushes as if looking for something. Was he looking for something important, or thinking of some way to torment him?

  His body was completely rigid, unable to move a hair. He wasn’t able to make the slightest sound with his throat. He was essentially a piece of meat on the chopping block, yet Si Ma Nan couldn’t see him. It was like he didn’t exist!

  In his frustration, he looked downwards. The scene before his eyes startled him. When had the wooden box he had been holding transformed into a large rock?

  Looking forward again, he saw Si Ma Nan slowly walking over, and he had a flash of understanding.

  The image of a large rock must have been an illusion Master Long cast on Si Ma Nan. Master Long had used the last of his powers to protect Wan Li. That’s why he was unable to move or speak. The truth was that Wan Li had lured Si Ma Nan over. He had brought calamity to Master Long, but not only had the latter helped Ruan Zhan suppress the resentful spirits once again, he had also ignored his own safety in order to protect Wan Li!

  Now, Si Ma Nan seemed to have discovered the truth. But that was fine. As long as Si Ma Nan broke through the illusion, Wan Li would return to normal. At that time, he would duke it out with him! Although there was a large gap between their abilities, kind of like smashing an egg against a rock, he was no coward. He wouldn’t lose face for Ruan Zhan, and also wouldn’t let down the grace Master Long had shown him!

  Wan Li made up his mind. He decided that the moment his rock boundary was dispelled, he would seize the initiative to strike. He would seize the upper hand in close combat. That was the only advantage he had against Si Ma Nan!

  Yet as Si Ma Nan was about to reach him, the situation suddenly changed!

  When Master Long vanished, only his clothing had remained. This included the black gloves he had carefully put on from the wooden box. No one had paid attention to those gloves. However, they now seemed alive as they flew over and seized Si Ma Nan’s ankles!

  This fell completely outside Si Ma Nan’s expectations, and he wasn’t able to react in time. By the time he understood that this was something Master Long left behind to deal with him, he hurriedly chanted something and waved his hand.

  However, he was late by a step! By the time the power he sent out reached his feet, the black gloves seemed to have been absorbed by his skin, merging into his ankles!

  Si Ma Nan’s expression changed. He immediately took off his shoes and socks, rolling up his trousers.

  Dark imprints had appeared on the pale skin of his ankles. Although they weren’t handprints, they flowed and looked extremely weird. They were like manacles around his ankles!

  Si Ma Nan cursed quietly, immediately sitting cross-legged while chanting. He made complicated gestures towards the black imprints, as if trying to pull them out from his skin. Yet no matter what he did, his ankles still looked the same without any changes. Instead, he was the one who spat out a mouthful of blood!

  “Damn old fogey! He couldn’t even preserve his own soul, yet still wanted to strike me a blow!” Si Ma Nan wiped the blood from his mouth and cursed in shameful anger. “Do you think you can change anything? No one can stop me!”

  He leapt up and made a beeline for Wan Li, seeming intent on venting his anger on that “large rock” in front of him. Yet as he arrived, the bush next to him rustled and a woman stood up.

  “Ah Nan, your nightmare spell has taken effect! Want to seal the town? We…” The tone of the person who had arrived was eager and excited, like a child about to make mischief. It was Hong Hao Hao.

  Si Ma Nan adjusted his expression and turned around, but the trace of blood by his mouth made her cry out in an exaggerated manner, “Ah Nan, what happened to you? Are you hurt?”

  She walked over as she spoke and stroked his face, but was blocked off indifferently by him.

  “I’ve told you not to call me Ah Nan.” He was a little impatient.

  He had been too eager to extract the black imprints earlier. Not only had it become more deeply imprinted, he had even injured his own meridians a little. This made him exceptionally angry, and he didn’t want Hong Hao Hao to see this. He also didn’t want to hear her call him “Ah Nan”. It made him recall another woman, whose gentle purity moved even the compassion of someone like him. If he entered the new town, he might very well encounter her. This made him feel a little distracted.

  He used Xiao Xia as bait to deal with Ruan Zhan, but he wasn’t afraid Ruan Zhan would use Ah Bai to do the same to him. First of all, Ruan Zhan wouldn’t do something like that. Secondly, he wouldn’t abandon his own goals for Ah Bai, even if he couldn’t forget about her!

  “Then what do you want me to call you?” Hong Hao Hao asked, a trace of jealousy in her tone.

  She understood that the man in front of her had always pampered her, but he had changed ever since that whatever Ah Bai had appeared. In his heart, only that woman could call him by that name. She didn’t understand. Just who was that woman called Ah Bai? She really wanted to get a look at her and see how that woman managed to make this indifferent, bipolar man unable to forget her!

  “You aren’t anyone of consequence, so there’s no need to call me anything.” Si Ma Nan said heartlessly. “Just say whatever needs to be said.”

  Hong Hao Hao looked up at him, an inexplicable feeling in her heart. He was vicious and unfeeling. This was something she had learned countless times. Yet for some reason, it felt especially uncomfortable this time. She wasn’t able to speak for a while.

  “Just what is it?” Si Ma Nan furrowed his brows.

  “I was saying…the nightmare spell has taken effect.” Hong Hao Hao carefully considered her words. “Are…we going into the new town now?”

  “We aren’t entering the new town. I am entering.”

  “You aren’t bringing me along?” Hong Hao Hao’s eyes popped in astonishment. “You said you would take me wherever you went! Besides, Ruan Zhan is so powerful. I can help you.”

  Her previous words made his heart soften for an instant. People weren’t made of wood after all, and couldn’t be completely emotionless. Although she meant nothing to him, just a soul he had saved when he had been in a good mood, there was still some intimacy after all these years. However, when he heard Ruan Zhan’s name from her mouth, his heart immediately hardened.

  “You say he’s powerful?” His eyes narrowed slightly, his gaze sweeping over her like beams of ice. “You think I cannot beat him, and need someone to help me?”

  “No, that’s not what I meant!” Hong Hao Hao hurriedly explained. “I just want to stay by your side.”

  “There is indeed something you can do if you want to help.” Si Ma Nan kept going, completely ignoring her explanation. “Go back to the old town for me. There’s someone there who needs to be watched. Nothing can go wrong. If something goes wrong there, we’ll have to change these vessels of ours again! I’d be really reluctant to do so. This is the identity I’ve been most satisfied with so far!”


  “No buts. As I said, there’s someone who needs watching in the old town. I can only rely on you.” Si Ma Nan’s tone suddenly became gentle again. “I cannot trust anyone else. Those thugs also need to be dealt with in the end. Also…” He walked over and embraced Hong Hao Hao, whispering a few things in her ear.

  They spoke too softly for Wan Li to hear. He only saw her nodding repeatedly before leaving with extremely unwillingness. Si Ma Nan turned to look at that “large rock” once again, but finally left without investigating further.

  The clearing fell silent once again, as if nothing had happened. Apart from the black clothing on the floor and the mess of footprints, nothing was left.

  Wan Li felt a prick in his heart.

  He felt a bit sad at Master Long’s “death”. In his opinion, Master Long’s abetting of evil due to familial relationships had been sufficiently repaid with his attempts to fix things over the past decade, as well as everything he had done today.

  That’s why Master Long had told him: No matter what you see, you must understand that this is the price I should pay. I do it willingly. No matter the outcome, it would be a release for me.

  Now Master Long was gone, without even his soul remaining. Si Ma Nan was going to enter the new town to battle Ruan Zhan, and something was going on in the old town. What should he do? Was he just going to be a large rock, unable to move?

  Wan Li felt a wave of anxiety. He struggled desperately with all his strength. A while passed like this. It wasn’t clear if his anxious feelings had caused it or if the boundary’s effect had run out of time. He suddenly felt it give, and the feeling of numbness immediately disappeared, allowing him to cry out!

  He swiftly got up. His limbs were a little weak from being rigid for so long, but he was now able to move. He stood and pondered for a moment before deciding to check things out at the old town. The new town was sealed by a restriction and he wasn’t able to enter. Might as well save one side and keep Ruan Zhan’s backyard clear. Best if Si Ma Nan’s backyard caught on fire while he was at it.

  Once he made up his mind, he immediately started moving. He first confirmed that no one or no things were observing before opening the wooden chest. There wasn’t much left inside, only an ancient tome, a small bamboo tube, a bow and three arrows made of bamboo and a small notebook.

  Before Master Long left, he said the small notebook was for him. Therefore, he immediately took it out and read it. The contents made him feel some astonishment, but due to the urgency of the situation, he didn’t have time to worry about it. Therefore, he first put the notebook back in place before folding up Master Long’s clothes respectfully and placing them inside the box as well.

  He once again checked his surroundings carefully before burying the box inside the hollow trunk of a tree. He also put some protective measures in place before leaving. While Si Ma Nan had been working hard to dispel the black miasma from his body, Ruan Zhan had been doing the same thing in the new town.

  Although the resentful spirits had been sealed again, the black miasma in his right arm was still there. Remaining inside the tower would whittle away his energy, so he had to nurse his wounds on the walkway of the lake.

  Once the resentful spirits had been recaptured, he had first returned Reporter Ma’s soul to his body. He and Liu Hong’s bodies had been used by those two resentful spirits, but it had been abandoned after Ruan Zhan’s lightning palm had struck it. Liu Hong had already died, so only Reporter Ma could be revived.

  He ordered Report Ma to bring Mao Fu down from the top floor. He then told them to hide anywhere in the city as long as it was far from this tower.

  “If the one surnamed Mao is disobedient, just knock him out again!” He told reporter Ma. “Hide somewhere and don’t make a sound until the sky turns back to normal. It doesn’t matter if it’s clear or filled with stars, or even if it’s pouring rain. As long as the sky is normal, you will be able to leave. But you must remember not to say anything about what happened here. This includes your relatives. Otherwise, it’ll only bring you harm!”

  Reporter Ma currently felt both admiration and gratitude towards Ruan Zhan. Hearing that the situation in the new town had yet to be resolved, he bravely offered to help. However, he was refused by Ruan Zhan. No one could interfere in the duel between himself and Si Ma Nan. Anyone getting involved might end up dead.

  He guessed Si Ma Nan didn’t know that this tower had the ability to suck away any sort of powers, including his own spirit power. Si Ma Nan definitely hadn’t lingered for too long when ruining it previously. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have let him roam about the town freely after placing seals on him.

  This was something he could take advantage of. He would make full use of this fact to deal with Si Ma Nan.

  Furthermore, he knew Si Ma Nan would definitely come from the water. He hadn’t been sure before, but Si Ma Nan had been too smart for his own good. The black fish he had sent to destroy his talisman formation had revealed his own entryway.

  Therefore, he didn’t destroy all the hungry ghost path evil spirits in the water. He had been in a sorry state when he was underwater. He wanted to leave something good behind for Si Ma Nan to have a taste.

  He wanted to see how Si Ma Nan, who also viewed himself as all that, would look like covered in teeth and bite marks after crawling out of the water!

  Thinking of this, Ruan Zhan couldn’t help but start laughing. He took the opportunity of his moment of relaxation to pull out the dagger covered in black miasma from his right shoulder!

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