Book 8 Chapter 16: Back Then

For the sake of revenge, they had spent years hiding and observing. They didn’t understand why Ruan Tian Yi sent his son away. However, when he got his son back, they were still able to tell that the damned Daoist loved his son incredibly. They had also considered finding an opportunity to kill the child as their revenge. Unfortunately, Ruan Tian Yi hid his son where no one could find him. By the time they finally saw Ruan Zhan return when he was five, they didn’t really dare approach anymore.

Others might not realize but they understood too well that the damned Daoist cared a lot about his son. He was always guarded against anything abnormal. Even when the mother and children in that abandoned house in town unexpectedly caused trouble, Ruan Tian Yi had hurried over.

How could they dare act under such circumstances? When father and son once again parted, they had their hands full keeping their eyes on the old one. How could they have time to search for the young? Yet coincidentally, or perhaps due to a twist of fate, they met Ruan Zhan through Yue Xiao Xia. They immediately recognized him as the child from back then.

However, he had become too powerful, far surpassing what they could handle! They had been too impulsive. They shouldn’t have revealed information regarding Ruan Tian Yi for the sake of escaping back then. They should have waited for everything to be in place before informing Ruan Zhan. If they had, they would be the ones watching the show. Perhaps they might even have achieved their revenge without risking their souls. They wouldn’t have become fish caught in Ruan Zhan’s hands.

Should they talk or not? Did they still have a choice?

The yakshas shared a despairing glance. Seeing Ruan Zhan’s confident and uncaring attitude, they gave each other a signal. They had been together for so many years. An indescribable tacit understanding existed between them, and each knew what the other was thinking with just a glance. Both erupted at the same time, turning into two gusts of black smoke that undulated in the air.

There seemed to be several gusts of fierce gales sweeping above the quarry that stirred the smoke in all directions. The fiendish smoke seemed about to sweep into the sky but was forcefully pushed back down. It was as if an unpassable countercurrent was blowing from above.

It was the same in all directions, even when the black smoke tried to burrow into the ground. Rumbling sounds like thunder rang out as they were bounced back!

Ruan Zhan watched coldly, completely indifferent. Just in case, he had brought along all the treasures his father had left him. But the Yakshas were much weaker than the evil spirits they had previously encountered. They were only comparable to the scholar’s ghost he encountered when he first got involved with the supernatural.  Based on the rate his powers increased, there was no need for him to use treasures to deal with them. Especially since he was using the sturdy and lethal formation left behind by Master Long.

The formation wasn’t a barrier. If he didn’t remove the talismans in the eye of the formation, the two yakshas wouldn’t be able to break through even after wringing themselves dry. No need for him to make a move.  However, he felt some hesitation. What if the two yakshas refused to reveal his father’s secrets? Could he really watch as they were annihilated?

He didn’t really care what happened to them. The two had done plenty of evil. That was apparent from the dark aura surrounding them. Death wasn’t even sufficient punishment. He was just worried that the secrets they knew would vanish with them.

They were now in a contest to see who could remain calmer. Whoever blinked first would definitely lose this exchange of not magic, but wits!

“It’s useless, save your energy!”The two gusts of black smoke tossed around for a while before reforming into two women, who had become slightly more transparent. Ruan Zhan spoke quietly, as if giving friendly advice instead of speaking to enemies. “If you keep it up, the sunlight will be even more unbearable.”

“Surnamed Ruan! You and your father will both die miserable deaths!”Ordinary Shoes panted as she cursed resentfully.

They had given it their all, and now they finally gave up. They were unable to escape by breaking out!

“How did my father and I provoke you?” Ruan Zhan took the opportunity to ask.

Three-inch golden lotus gave a glance. This wasn’t any secret, so she didn’t prevent Ordinary Shoes from speaking.

“You are both false Daoists, neither one something good!”

“Oh, please explain?” Ruan Zhan wasn’t angry at all. “But if you cannot back up your claim, I swear to let you die even more miserably. Want to experience the feeling of being refined into spirit essence? I’ll let you see whether I’m a false Daoist or true villain!”

“Why would I falsely accuse that damned ghost of your father?” Ordinary shoes sneered. “Why would we hide things at this point? Do you know who we are?”

“Do I need to know who you are?”

Ordinary shoes snorted again. Due to her expenditure of mana, she took a breather before speaking of their past.

In the era of the Republic of China, she was originally a female lead in a traveling theater troupe. One day, while performing in Ruan Zhan’s hometown, she encountered a renowned courtesan from the local brothel. This courtesan had a deep passion for opera, and the two of them became fast friends. That courtesan was Three-inch golden lotus.

With the help of this popular courtesan, the troupe’s popularity grew and they remained in town for a while. One day, they caught the eye of a wealthy merchant from a nearby town, who took the two of them as concubines.

Their life became rather carefree. Whether for a courtesan or a traveling performer, marrying into a wealthy household as concubines and living a luxurious life was kind of a happy end for them. But those days didn’t last long. During the nation’s liberation, the wealthy merchant fled with his main wife and daughters, leaving the concubines behind. The two worried women were only left with the large residence and a large sum of money.

They managed to continue making a living. Luckily the two lovers of theater relied on each other to get by. A year passed, then five, then over a decade. They planned on spending the rest of their days this way. Yet two lowly women with hidden wealth would draw the attention of greedy and evil people. Finally, they were unable to avoid it. There were too many sanctimonious people in town after the wealth. They used all sorts of excuses to try and force them to hand over the money, humiliating, beating, bullying and torturing them…

For women with nothing, especially aging women with no place to call home, money was their only source of reliance. Therefore, they stubbornly refused to reveal where they hid the money. Only when those pretending to be on the side of justice threatened to kill one of them did the other talk. In the end, to prevent the secrets from getting out, those people strangled the two elderly women to death. They told the world that they had committed suicide to escape their crimes.

Two straw beds and two dug graves marked the end of their lives. How could they feel resigned?  How could they just leave and let things go?! Therefore, the spirits who died unjustly started their revenge. They wildly searched for those who killed them, causing ruckus in the town. Yet when they finally found two of the perpetrators who had fled to the neighboring town, they found out a local called Ruan Tian Yi was protecting them.

They were filled with resentment but Ruan Tian Yi kept urging them to give up on revenge. He wanted the two of them to be judged and sentenced by humans. He said being magnanimous was better than an eye for an eye! First of all, they didn’t believe that justice would be done in the messed up society back then. Even if the legal system was as it was now, how could they just let it go?

All disputes ended up in battle. They were merely yin spirits without any cultivation back then. They merely relied on willpower and resentment. Of course, Ruan Tian Yi captured them in the first exchange. Yet at that moment, the two murderous thieving scumbags ended up escaping. Ruan Tian Yi could only imprison them inside a golden bell and bring them in his pursuit. Perhaps it was a twist of fate, but along the way, a thief mistook the golden bell as something made of pure gold, and actually stole it while Ruan Tian Yi was distracted. Then, he fled far away.

They were pressed for time, afraid that Ruan Tian Yi would find them before the restrictions wore off. If that happened, they wouldn’t be able to escape. But they had won that time. They didn’t know when Ruan Tian Yi caught up, but by the time he did, he would only find the corpse of the thief whose heart had split from fear. They had long since flown off.

Unfortunately, they had lost the race against time on this occasion. Ruan Tian Yi’s son hadn’t given them the chance to complete their arrangements. Even worse, they had cultivated from yin spirits to yakshas, but still couldn’t overcome Ruan Tian Yi’s powerful son. Most importantly, Ruan Zhan seemed to be different from his father, who was softhearted to the extent of being inflexible, a do-gooder who was a stickler for heavenly law and benevolence. Ruan Zhan was someone determined who treated his enemies coldly. He wouldn’t even blink at turning ruthless.

“It doesn’t sound like my father did anything wrong.”Ruan Zhan was very restless upon hearing about his father’s past. Yet he forced himself not to reveal the slightest hint of abnormality as he slowly said, “Is this the grudge you two have against him? You really are two weird women to stubbornly hold onto this. It seems your fate isn’t undeserved.”

“What did you say?” Ordinary shoes flew into a rage, revealing the twisted expression beneath her theatrical makeup. “He consigned two victims to death without bothering to determine right from wrong, without understanding the situation. Isn’t that reprehensible?! The ones who killed us deserve mercy while we deserved our deaths? Just because we were performers?!”

Ruan Zhan didn’t wish to elaborate. He knew whatever he said would be useless. The yakshas before him were irrational. Then again, his father’s methods back then had truly been naive. How could such resentment be so easily resolved? Those two murdering thieves had definitely tried to trick his father while the two yakshas definitely used all sorts of methods in pursuing their killers, putting everyone in the town in danger. This probably helped strengthen the lies of those two murderers, causing his father to get tricked!

Recalling the benevolence and mercy his father had shown the fiend children, Ruan Zhan started to understand that beneath his wise and dignified mask, his stern, earnest and lofty father was actually softhearted, easily tricked and dreamt of turning this foul world into something pure.

After over a decade, he only now seemed to have some understanding of him!

“It wasn’t because of your background that he treated you that way. He often said that all livings things were equal, and a worm was no less than a person. He wasn’t planning on refining you. He just wanted to imprison you while he forcibly purified your resentment.”Ruan Zhan couldn’t help but explain in the end. “Believe it or not, that’s all I can say. But why are you currently doing all this?”

The two looked at each other and stopped talking at the same time, seemingly hesitating whether or not to speak.

“You don’t have to speak. We can just watch the sunrise together.”Ruan Zhan glanced towards them, his gaze moving through their transparent figures to the split in the mountain behind them.

From their tone, Ruan Zhan could tell they had transferred the target of their resentment to his father. He had been the one that stopped their vengeance back then. Putting together the clues, it wasn’t hard to tell that them picking He Fu Gui, making him rich and then excavating this barren mountain was for the sake of dealing with his father. Was his father here, or were they setting something up to lure him over?

Then should he kill them to resolve the threat, or allow them to lure his father over? Was his father aware of their actions? Why did the yakshas sound so petty when they spoke of this matter? Had his father done something else apart from making a mistake due to his benevolence?

He didn’t want to see his father, but there was an inexplicable thirst in his heart. He also had to clarify the issue of his Calamity of Threes, since he was now determined to fight against his fate and be with Xiao Xia.

But no matter his decision, he had to put up a tough front. Otherwise, he wouldn’t get any information at all, and might even lose his advantage in this contest of mind and might. They had previously said: brat, you also have a price to pay, perhaps one that might be even greater! How will you face your father on that day? Who knows if you’ll say the same thing when your father reaps what he has sown!

Recalling this, he leisurely adjusted his posture before half reclining. He faced the eastern slopes, as if really preparing to watch the sunrise.

The two yakshas tensed up as they stood unmoving in the formation, but they felt extremely uneasy. They knew Ruan Zhan was trying to force out what they were doing on Ironhead Mountain. But if they told him now, they might not get the harmful effect they wanted. If Ruan Zhan discovered the truth before they were prepared, father and son might still turn things around!

Initially they were only planning to deal with Ruan Tian Yi. Yet after discovering Ruan Zhan, they wanted to have father and son meet at the critical moment. What would Ruan Tian Yi look like when his “evil” burst forth in front of his son? That false Daoist would definitely feel worse, right? Perhaps he might kill his own son during his loss of control. He loved his son so much. How would he react once he awoke? To have father and son killing each other was the perfect revenge!

Ruan Tian Yi did all he could to stop them from taking revenge, and even wanted to refine them. Therefore, he deserved the worst punishment!

If they blabbed now, Ruan Zhan might help his father resolve the situation, ruining their long-awaited opportunity. Yet if they didn’t speak, they would soon face the most terrifying torture for spirits: being exposed to sunlight. At that point, they wouldn’t have the chance to see Ruan Tian Yi get his just desserts!

What to do?

The sky gradually brightened as both sides remained silent. Ruan Zhan was extremely anxious but his expression remained as calm as always. He could feel their hesitation, unwillingness and fear. He was very worried they would remain stubborn until the end. If so, could he really let them turn to ashes, taking their secrets with them?

“We won’t tell you anything.”Three-inch golden lotus probed.

The white on the sky’s edge had already turned a beautiful red. A ray of golden light seemed about to appear.

“That’s fine, I’ll just slowly investigate things myself. It’ll just take a little more effort!”Although he almost leapt up, wanting to store the yakshas away for further interrogation, he managed to hold it in. His voice was still indifferent, giving his opponents a strong sense of pressure.

There was no response, only a burst of humming, the sound of inhuman whispering. Ruan Zhan’s palms were sweating but he firmly refused to look over. The golden light grew longer and longer, brighter and brighter as it slowly climbed up the mountain. Then, it penetrated the morning fog like mighty golden arrows, striking the mortal realm and illuminating the earth.

“Ah…” The two yakshas screamed in terror, unable to remain firm in the end. “He is the most evil person in the world. He wants to shed his evil aura here, and we filled in the mountain to prevent him from doing so!”

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