Wan Li couldn’t get in, but Ruan Zhan and Bao Da Tong mentally updated him on the situation inside. After Bao Da Tong listened to Wan Li’s response, he opened his mouth and relayed his meaning.
“The connection between siblings is truly something!” Bao Da Tong closed his eyes, even managing to imitate Wan Li’s speech patterns.
He wasn’t as powerful as Ruan Zhan and also wasn’t Wan Li’s friend for life. Therefore, he needed to focus his mind to communicate with Wan Li telepathically, unlike Ruan Zhan who did so easily.
The black tornado sneered, ramming another tornado closer towards their barrier.
“However, Zhang Xiao Hua, do you truly cherish your little sister that much?”
Another sneer and another collision was the response as the tornado moved even closer.
“If so, why are you the only one to enjoy the feeling of growing up, to enjoy Lu Yan’s motherly affection? Why don’t you share any of it with your sister?”
This time, the black tornado halted for a moment. Zhang Xiao Hua’s angry voice rang out. “Stop trying to drive a wedge between us. Hong Yu and I have been together for three hundred years. Someone like you couldn’t possibly understand.”
“You’re wrong. Understanding people is my job. Not to brag, but I’m rather good at it. If you really cared about that sister of yours, how could you possibly let her look on as you make up for your lost time? In your eyes, she’s not really a sister, merely a companion, right? Once you find something more important to you, you’ll probably ignore her, right? You didn’t seem too worried about her injuries while you battled Ruan Zhan earlier. She was injured you know, injured for your sake. Didn’t you notice?”
“Shut up!” Zhang Xiao Hua shouted. He had three centuries of cultivation but in terms of wordplay he was far from being Wan Li’s match. As he yelled, the black tornado formed from their fusion slowed.They were gradually forced back into the corner of the formation by the wind currents.
“Hong Yu, don’t listen to them. They’re trying to divide and conquer.” He increased his power, maintaining this final move of his.
Zhang Hong Yu let out a muffled sound of agreement and the tornado stabilized again.
“I’m afraid Little Sis Hong Yu also has some opinions about her big bro, right?” Bao Da Tong continued. If it weren’t for the voice being different, he could have been mistaken for Wan Li. Although the two bickered constantly, their worked pretty well together during critical moments.
“But Hong Yu, it’s fine to be dissatisfied with your big bro. Everyone has their own insecurities, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. For example, I’m very afraid of falling in love with a woman yet being unable to protect her. Bao Da Tong…” Bao Da Tong didn’t expect Wan Li to bring up their own affairs and involuntarily paused. However, he still continued relaying. “He’s a jokester on the surface, but he’s very afraid of being unable to live up to his father’s expectations. Ruan Zhan, he’s afraid of getting close to warmth. He’s afraid that once he’s gotten used to the feeling, he won’t be able to go back to the cold. Xiao Xia, she’s afraid of being rejected by the man she loves. Therefore, we all have things we fear, and try our best to ignore the deepest truths in our hearts. Aren’t you the same? Don’t you feel some complaints about your brother always ordering you about without considering your feelings? But you’re afraid of angering him so you don’t dare speak up. But why not? Is it because he’s too selfish, or is it because without him, you also have nothing?”
“I don’t have such thoughts.” This time it was Zhang Hong Yu who spoke, but her voice was weak and unable to convince even herself, let alone Zhang Xiao Hua.
Zhang Xiao Hua couldn’t help but feel a little nervous. If he couldn’t maintain his fusion with Hong Yu, they would have no chance of winning. He already felt fear towards this terrifying Wind Screen Formation.
“Don’t you? When Lil’ Tong’s body could no longer contain two souls at once, didn’t you blame your brother for driving you out, leaving you adrift without any shelter?”
“My big bro’s side is my shelter.”
“Then don’t you mind him liking another woman?”
His voice had just fallen when the barely stable tornado suddenly slowed again. Ruan Zhan and Bao Da Tong were able to see the two-headed bird shape. It was no longer just a clump of black miasma. Although they were still fused, their heads were looking in different directions.
“If you didn’t care, why did you target Xiao Xia three times?” Bao Da Tong continued to pass on Wan Li’s words. “You must feel some resentment, but you just didn’t say anything. Just like how you ignored your brother’s urgings when he kicked you out of Lil’ Tong’s body, and insisted on kidnapping a bunch of children. Yet you didn’t eat them, and instead kept them as your toys. Were you trying to annoy your brother and get his attention? Or were you afraid you’d be on your own in the future, and having those children nearby meant you wouldn’t be lonely? Or both?”
“I wasn’t.” Zhang Hong Yu still refuted, but apart from those two words, she couldn’t say anything else.
“You didn’t tell your brother you tried to kill Xiao Xia, right?” Wan Li brought out the big guns. Zhang Xiao Hua immediately turned to look at Zhang Hong Yu, seeming both surprised and angry. But Hong Yu remained silent.
This was a plan Ruan Zhan and Wan Li had come up with after putting everything together. They had discovered that a rift had already formed between the two fiends. They hid things from each other. Therefore, although they hadn’t known the two could fuse, they had still prepared a plan to widen the rift. They hadn’t thought it would come in handy.
Wan Li felt that despite their childlike appearances, the fiends were sufficiently mature mentally. They lacked maternal love and had found Lu Yan to make up for it. Therefore, Lu Yan was fine despite living with them for years. Yet that sort of safety was temporary. They didn’t actually love Lu Yan. They had to know the effect of living with a human for a prolonged period of time. Such a human probably wouldn’t live past thirty. This was already apparent from Lu Yan’s physical condition. They were merely demanding selfishly, especially Zhang Xiao Hua. He treated his younger sister, whom he had spent three centuries with, the same way.
He wanted Xiao Xia because he wanted a mature woman’s love. This included the love between a man and a woman, as well as that of a mother and her son. Unfortunately he had spent all his time underground and didn’t understand that such love couldn’t be seized.
Zhang Hong Yu’s hatred of Xiao Xia was also clearly one woman’s jealousy of another. Zhang Hong Yu was over three hundred years old. Perhaps she didn’t actually want to experience the joys of growing up like her older brother. Perhaps she just wanted to become a real woman, and not remain a child’s shadow forever. The attractive figure and beautiful appearance of a matured woman was like a curse. Unless she seized someone else’s body, she would never obtain it.
Puberty often hit girls earlier and harder than boys. Perhaps she loved her brother, but had always been ignored and overlooked. Therefore, she might be resentful of the older brother who only used her and didn’t actually love her! Perhaps she thought if she looked like a real woman, she would have a certain place in her brother’s heart.
Therefore, she wanted to use Xiao Xia as her shell. Being inside the body her brother liked, and to be liked by her brother, was probably happiness, right?
“Do you want to kill Xiao Xia?” Zhang Xiao Hua asked. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“There are plenty of things she hasn’t told you.” Bao Da Tong had spoken on his own, without Wan Li’s input.
A tornado whirled past them. The sharp wind blades left a large wound on Zhang Xiao Hua’s face and he cried out in pain.
“Let’s deal with the enemies first!” Zhang Hong Yu gritted her teeth.
Although a rift had formed between them that was now exposed by Wan Li, she still loved him after all. Her heart ached at seeing him injured.
Zhang Xiao Hua knew this wasn’t the time to get emotional. Therefore, he gathered his own spirit power and received Hong Yu’s familiar strength, rapidly increasing the speed of their rotation. Gradually, the black tornado formed again. However, it wasn’t as fast as before. Upon careful examination, a crack was visible in the center.
Whether human or ghost, a rift in the heart prevented a wholehearted fusion if left untreated and merely ignored. This was especially the case when casting spells.
“It’s our turn.” Seeing the small yet terrible crack, Ruan Zhan raised his hand.
Bao Da Tong tacitly understood. The moment Ruan Zhan withdrew the annihilation seal, he immediately prepared the bloodwood sword and took out a talisman with his other hand. When the sound of breaking glass announced the shattering of their barrier, he swiftly traded places with Ruan Zhan and acted.
Ruan Zhan put all his strength into the wind blade in his hand, completely putting his safety in Bao Da Tong’s hands. This was something only the closest companions could pull off. It signified wholehearted trust.
Two thunderous booms rang out, reverberating in the sealed space and causing their eardrums to buzz.
Ruan Zhan’s wind blade split apart around the black tornado formed by the fiends, and then attacked from every direction. In an instant, four flying blades pierced into the tornado from four different directions. The tornado completely separated, turning into a pile of severed limbs that fell to the floor.
At the same time, a huge tornado also happened to reach Ruan Zhan and Bao Da Tong’s position. To allow Ruan Zhan to attack, they had already taken down the barrier and the annihilation seal. Therefore, the tornado headed straight for them.
Bao Da Tong stood in front of Ruan Zhan, slamming the talisman in his hand heavily onto the bloodwood sword and gripping its hilt with both hands. Holding the sword before him, he gritted his teeth and stood his ground. Behind him was Ruan Zhan, and he had to protect his companion.
The tornado released a low hum as it swept at them mercilessly. However, it was directly split in two as red light exploded from the bloodwood sword, passing harmlessly on either side before reforming and continuing onwards. The tailwind left traces of blood on their skin, but they had managed to avoid the threat to their lives.
The moment the tornado passed, Ruan Zhan immediately set up the barrier and annihilation seal again. Now they just had to wait for the helpless fiends to get ground up by the wind.
Zhang Xiao Hua lay unmoving on the ground, clearly heavily injured. He was unable to fight anymore, but he suddenly let out a peal of cold laughter. “Great, you defeated my final move! Ruan Zhan, I do not accept my loss. You used schemes and tricks to restrict me! But I still have one final card to play. You won’t get a complete victory. I’ll have those children accompany me in death! If I’m going to suffer, I will make everyone else suffer with me!”
He laughed wildly, the shadows on the ground writhing along, before starting to chant an unintelligible spell.
“What? Scared?” He asked smugly, seeing no trace of resistance in Ruan Zhan. “Don’t you care about those children? Where is the supposed empathy you despicable mortals have? Ah…” A wind blade severed one of his arms. Meanwhile, Zhang Hong Yu didn’t even have the strength to move.
“Man, you’re really something. Harming others with no benefit to yourself. You even insist on dragging others down with you in death.” Bao Da Tong spoke. “The crime you suffered, don’t tell me you want to inflict it upon others? How can you be so cruel? But don’t worry. Would we not have measures for those many innocent souls in your hands?”
“Hmph, the tattered banner cannot absorb those souls. They are too weak and have no way to preserve themselves. Even if the banner isn’t offensive in nature, they cannot endure it! They would become damaged even if you stored them!” Zhang Xiao Hua said both smugly and resentfully.
“The tattered banner is to guard against you. As for those weak souls, we have other plans. We’ve already calculated every step you plan on taking.”
Seeing Bao Da Tong’s confidence, Zhang Xiao Hua suddenly despaired. He cried out. “I don’t believe it! I don’t believe it!”
Pity appeared on Bao Da Tong’s face as he sighed. “You have only yourself to blame, as expected. Haven’t you realized our dearest Xiao Xia never appeared? Think about why her illusion was holding that black box. I’m ok with telling you that Xiao Xia was in a hole under her illusion the whole time. That way her aura would be mixed within, allowing her illusion to fool you. She came out the moment you guys entered the Wind Screen Formation. Inside her box is a treasured tome that took in all those innocent souls, even the crippled ones.”
Ruan Zhan didn’t speak. He watched as Zhang Xiao Hua and Zhang Hong Yu slowly leaned against each other. They held each other and trembled, like two children in the face of danger. He felt some unwillingness in his heart, but thinking of those soulless children he hardened his heart once more.
Why? Why were there always people doing such heinous things, forcing him to deal with such tragedy? Why did those people never consider the consequences of their actions, and keep even a trace of compassion in their hearts?
It was true that the tattered banner was too forceful so it couldn’t absorb weaker souls. However, the empty second half of Master Long’s ancient tome could contain even damaged souls. It could naturally keep the souls of the children without any issues.
Master Long had already left this world, but his benevolence still lingered. Even the formation used to deal with the two fiend children had been learned from his tome. Someone capable and kind like him had ended up being dragged down by his emotional attachments and was tragically wiped out. They had also used emotional estrangement to defeat the fiend children. It seemed that emotions were the strongest weapons in the world.
Passion fades. Loving someone too much, whether as family, friends or lovers, would end up shortening one’s life span!
“Ah Zhan!” A voice appeared in Ruan Zhan’s mind.
He trembled, involuntarily looking around. Yet there was no sign of the person who called out to him. Was it his imagination? That person was already dead. Did he miss him too much, or hate him too much? Or was he unable to let him go? Why would he imagine hearing his voice?
“Ah Zhan!” The voice rang out again, close enough that it seemed right outside the formation!
The voice stabbed into Ruan Zhan’s heart, sharper than a wind blade. His focus was abruptly scattered and he lost control of his strength. The annihilation seal’s power burst forth by itself, breaking the Wind Screen Formation in an instant.
While the formation was broken, their barrier remained. Right as the annihilation seal turned to break the small barrier, which would unavoidably end up harming them, a tall and skinny figure suddenly appeared. With a swift point of the finger, the annihilation seal’s light immediately extinguished as it dropped in front of Ruan Zhan. At the same time, the pair of fiends were absorbed into the person’s palm!
“Uncle!” Bao Da Tong and Wan Li cried out simultaneously.