A white flash lit the air with a bang. Zhao Jiang retreated several steps, a clump of white steam almost leaving his body. Across from him was a long streak in the mud as Bao Da Tong’s body became visible again. Man and ghost had clearly each taken a blow. Although Bao Da Tong almost made Zhao Jiang’s soul leave his body, he was able to use the surrounding water’s power to forcibly remain. He even managed to continue controlling me with his other hand.
“Did you think I was the easily bullied Zhao Jiang of the past?” He laughed coldly. “With my current strength, no one can stop me tonight. You guys can wait to fetch his corpse!”
Bao Da Tong was extremely anxious, but he was at an impasse and unable to move. Nana groped around my face in despair, trying to tear apart the formless thing after my life. The feeling of suffocation grew stronger as time passed. I did my best to control my reactions, not tossing or struggling to avoid upsetting Nana more. Yet how could instinctive reactions be so easily suppressed?
“Die! Have a taste of what I experienced underwater back then.” Zhao Jiang spoke with both Schadenfreude and sorrow. “For the sake of saving her, I ended up drowning just like that. Unable to breathe, unable to call for help, unable to grab anything. The icy water poured into my lungs. Pain! Like being stabbed by countless needles!”
He described it as if it had happened to someone else. His tone was flat but extremely cruel. Nana started crying loudly again. Her crying made me feel that she would die from heartache if I really died!
“Hold on! I’m coming to save you!” Bao Da Tong hurriedly took a step back, trying to break away from Zhao Jiang. However, Zhao Jiang had been expecting this, and his retreat left him at a disadvantage. Zhao Jiang blew a mouthful of yin aura towards Bao Da Tong.Then, a streak of ice swished towards his chest.
Bao Da Tong didn’t have time to guard. Not only did he fail to break away, he ended up staggering and spitting out a mouthful of blood. He was clearly heavily injured!
Seeing the balance shifting, Zhao Jiang started laughing sinisterly. Despair started filling our hearts.
Luring us into the grove where he held the advantage, his plan had been to deal with us all at once before taking Nana away. Or perhaps he didn’t need to take Nana anywhere once we were dead. Without Bao Da Tong and I, Ah Zhan wouldn’t be able to handle him on his own. He might not even know what had happened. We were aware of this, but we had no choice but to come since he had hostages.
We hadn’t rushed in blindly and had prepared a plan. It had even been close to succeeding. However, whether due to luck or ability, we had fallen short!
I was currently rolling around from the pain in my lungs. I was about to breathe my last. Apart from fear and unwillingness at facing death, I suddenly also felt sorry for Nana. This failure wouldn’t just cost us our lives. It would also leave Nana trapped with Zhao Jiang!
I groaned in a last farewell to the world, though it was just my body’s instinctive final attempt at drawing breath. Yet unexpectedly, a large amount of fresh air suddenly entered my lungs, pulling me back from the abyss!
Air wasn’t something one usually paid attention to. However, only when it was lost would it be missed! I felt like a stranded fish finally returning to the ocean after a long struggle. I lay sprawled on the ground, gasping greedily for air. A familiar voice spoke coldly next to me. “Sorry, he can’t die. He still owes me money!”
“Ah Zhan!” Bao Da Tong almost jumped for joy.
Ruan Zhan didn’t respond, merely pointing at Zhao Jiang. “No matter who you are, hurry and scram. Otherwise, things won’t turn out well for you!”
“He’s been possessed..cough, cough…by Zhao Jiang! We cannot let him off! He’s killed many…students!” I croaked as I slowly recovered.
“Don’t bother with all that, hurry and pick yourself up!” Ruan Zhan wasn’t surprised at all. He spoke impatiently to me, but his eyes never left Zhao Jiang. He spoke coldly to him once more, “I don’t care about the others you killed, but you aren’t allowed to kill these three!”
“Hmph, are you able to stop me?” Having watched his hated love rival reach the brink of death before being saved, Zhao Jiang was both angry and resentful. “It’s good you came, might as well all die together!”
Before his voice fell, he suddenly leapt into the air. I didn’t know how he managed this while hiding in that guy’s body. Regardless, he was like a black kite or also a bat, looking down upon us from the air, his hands waving continuously. A layer of white mist immediately surrounded us, as if trapping us in a glass container!
I had recovered somewhat and slowly got up. I suppressed the sense of weakness and stood protectively in front of Nana. I looked up at Zhao Jiang who was busy chanting spells and said, “Ah Zhan, he wants to suffocate you.”
“Someone did almost suffocate!” He didn’t spare me a glance as he spoke to Bao Da Tong. “Where are your fire talismans?”
“Huh?” Bao Da Tong was probably too excited about the reinforcements and didn’t react right away.
“What are you spacing out for? Attack that perverted bastard!” I fished out the sack of stones as I spoke and ruthlessly flung them out one by one. The stones made small sparks as they struck the watery wall. Some penetrated through the wall, leaving tiny craters, while others fell to the floor!
I hadn’t thrown the stones out randomly, but had picked spots where the mist was weakest. Ah Zhan naturally understood what I was doing and didn’t stop me. He merely observed Zhao Jiang vigilantly. He frowned and said, “Why are his moves so familiar?”
“That bastard absorbed Duan Jin’s handmaiden’s powers! He returned from the path of reincarnation.” Bao Da Tong said, finally snapping out of it.
He wiped the blood from his mouth and took out several talismans from his robes. “Here’s the fire talismans. What are we burning?”
At that moment, I noticed the cage becoming more and more solid. It was weakest nearer to Zhao Jiang, so I threw the rest out of the enchanted stones.
Seeing this, Ah Zhan pointed in the same direction. Bao Da Tong didn’t hesitate either, sending out seven or eight talismans. The talismans ignited upon making contact with the watery wall, like flowers blooming.
“Sorry, the fires are a little small.” Bao Da Tong scratched his head, a little embarrassed.
“Water and fire don’t mix, who cares if they’re small!” Ah Zhan reached behind his back as he spoke and took something out. He gave it a shake and flung it over to me. I hurriedly caught it. It turned out to be the bloodwood sword which had shrunk to a foot in length.
I was thrilled, knowing Zhao Jiang would be unable to escape. Looking up, I saw he still had his eyes closed trying desperately to pressure us, to kill us. He had no idea is doom was at hand. Ruan Zhan thought for a moment before shakily drawing a symbol in the air.
When he dropped his hand, a gust of wind rose from beneath his feet. As he raise his hand once more, the wind blew towards the burning talismans.
“Using wind to supplement fire!” Bao Da Tong exclaimed. Seeing the fire spreading, he shot a few more talismans over!
Zhao Jiang suddenly opened his eyes in the air, clearly not having expected us to actually use fire to curb water. Water and fire restricted each other, and the outcome depended on whichever side was stronger. Water could extinguish fire, but fire could also evaporate water.
Originally, Bao Da Tong and I together should be evenly matched against Zhao Jiang, but the heavy rain caused his strength to rise above ours. However, he never expected Ruan Zhan to suddenly return, putting him on the backfoot once again. Due to our seamless cooperation, his situation was becoming worse!
The wall of water emitted the sound of cracking glass. Zhao Jiang shuddered. Although he gritted his teeth and reinforced the water, he was an arrow at the end of its flight.
“Let me give it some fuel.” I ran over, picking up the peach wood rod on the way. I hurled it towards the center of the flames!
The peach wood had warding properties to begin with. The wind-boosted spellfire immediately turned it into a raging inferno, swiftly destroying the wall and shooting towards Zhao Jiang.
With a scream, he tried to dodge behind a tree but it was too late. The fireball struck his chest heavily, causing him to fly back several meters before dangling from a branch like a hanged ghost. The wall surrounding us vanished at the same time!
I let out a breath. Although I had been lively and expressive during the battle, my heart had been tense the entire time. Now that the pressure had lessened, I felt the adrenaline and fear of being suffocated.
Spellfire wouldn’t burn the innocent. Therefore, Zhao Jiang’s body didn’t ignite after being struck. It only turned the mask to ashes, revealing the guy’s sluggish expression. This made me realize things weren’t over yet. Although Zhao Jiang suffered heavy injuries, he was still hiding in the guy’s body!
I turned to look at Ah Zhan, noticing he had circled behind that tree. He stood at an angle to Bao Da Tong and I immediately understood his intentions. Therefore, I moved over to the empty spot Ah Zhan had purposefully left open, one hand shielding Nana while the other reached behind myself.
Ah Zhan and Bao Da Tong gestured in the air before acting at the same time. A glyph in the air and a talisman flew towards Zhao Jiang at the same time.
Bang. Zhao Jiang didn’t even cry out. The body shook violently as if caught in a gale. A white clump appeared outside the flesh.
It was in the shape of a person, its torso very distinct but the limbs blurry. He seemed to be desperately clinging on to the body, unwilling to come out. Yet his stubbornness was in vain. He was gradually dragged out and suspended in the air.
Without needing Ah Zhan’s prompting this time, Bao Da Tong shot out the last of his talismans towards the white shade. The shade was Zhao Jiang’s soul. He had been brimming with confidence earlier, plotting to kill us all. Yet losing one exchange caused the tables to completely turn.
Evildoers, whether human or ghost, couldn’t commit evil while remaining righteous. Being at a disadvantage meant panic would start seeping in.
With Bao Da Tong closing in, Zhao Jiang instinctively fled towards Ah Zhan. However, the wind Ah Zhan conjured almost scattered him, causing him to retreat in fear. Seeing that he was unable to break through Ah Zhan and Bao Da Tong’s defenses, he rushed towards me.
“Don’t let him return to the lake!” Bao Da Tong cried out.
He didn’t realize Ah Zhan and I were already prepared. The moment the white shade drew near, I pulled out the bloodwood sword from my waist. It was only a foot long at the moment and Zhao Jiang was still some distance away. I couldn’t reach him, so I hurled it at him like a rock. Zhao Jiang knew I had no powers and didn’t notice the bloodwood sword. Therefore, he wasn’t on guard at all and the bloodwood sword pierced through his chest.
The result was as expected.
At that moment, the rain suddenly stopped as if just for us. The four of us were speechless for a time, looking at each other. We had fought with zeal, but the sudden ending left us feeling somewhat empty.
With Zhao Jiang’s disappearance, his formation also vanished. Ah Zhan had already broken through it when he entered. Now that it was gone, we could see the state of the grove after the rain. I only realized now we were at the edge of the grove. The small lake was already visible through the sparse trees.
“Let’s go!” Ah Zhan spoke calmly, picking up his luggage from behind a tree. I realized he had rushed over directly from the station, and hadn’t had time to stop by the dorm.
“What do we do about that?” Bao Da Tong pointed at the guy hanging on the branch.
Wordlessly, Ah Zhan waved his hand and the wind snapped the branch, causing him to drop like a rag. Since he had acted without warning, Bao Da Tong was taken off-guard. He was only able to push the guy to the side a bit to cushion his fall. Otherwise, he would’ve taken quite the impact.
“Is there a need to be so callous?” Bao Da Tong grumbled. “Still, I’m going to burn this grove down. It’s too detrimental to the fengshui. Something will happen again in the future if it’s not destroyed.”
“Up to you.” Ah Zhan replied. He left with his luggage, no longer bothering with us.
“What a carefree young master. Don’t you run off too!” Bao Da Tong stopped me. “This dude is so huge and he’s completely soaked and unconscious. There’s no way I can carry him by myself!”
I saw that he was right and released the trembling Nana. After a few comforting words, I had her follow behind us as we carried the guy out of the grove.
After finally leaving the grove, we saw Ah Zhan waiting for us. Bao Da Tong ran over and used spellfire to ignite the trees. Due to the rain, the trees were wet and shouldn’t catch fire. However, the spellfire caused them to swiftly start burning.
“Let’s leave quickly, or we’re going to be held responsible!” I said.
Before Ah Zhan and Bao Da Tong could respond, Nana slowly spoke from behind us. “You guys won’t be able to leave anymore!”
Her voice was strange, as if coming from the depths of the earth. Two thuds accompanied her words. Startled, I turned to look and saw Nana holding that thick, snapped branch, swinging it towards my head.
Before I could cry out, pain blossomed on the side of my head and I crashed to the ground.
On the ground, Ah Zhan and Bao Da Tong both had their eyes closed, their faces covered in blood. They had already lost consciousness.