Book 8 Chapter 17: Evil Aura

Ruan Zhan leapt up at the words as if struck by lightning.

Last time while dealing with the fiend children, the bloodwood sword had erupted in dazzling red radiance when he got close to his father. He had felt uneasy back then, because it meant his father’s body contained extremely strong evil aura. But he wasn’t willing to believe it. His father might have abandoned and betrayed him, but it was definitely impossible for him to be a great villain. Something like that would cause his mind to collapse, destroying everything he believed in!

As a child, he had refused to learn Daoist arts in an attempt to get his father’s attention. However, his father never forced him, and only had him memorize the fundamentals of several spells so he could slowly train as he grew older. His father had once said: Daoism is the way of nature. Suppress evil and nurture benevolence.

After all these years, despite his indifference towards the world, he also knew things weren’t always so black and white. Yet there had always been a clear separation of good and evil in his heart. If his father was a villain, what was he supposed to do?!

The bloodwood sword doesn’t lie!

He took out the tattered banner. His heart was in turmoil but he let none of it show on his face as he sucked the yakshas into the banner. He couldn’t allow them to discern anything. Otherwise, who knows how much trouble it would cause. His father had erred due to his benevolence back then, and had recently tried his best to give those fiend children another chance. How could he be a great villain?

“Where is my father? Tell me.” Ruan Zhan asked coldly.

The tattered banner vibrated but there was no answer.

“Why force my hand? You’ve already told me the most important piece. Why care about the minor details? If you make me do the searching, the price you pay will be proportionate to the time it takes me. If not, I can consider giving you a clean end. It’s impossible for me to let you go. You both know clearly how much blood is on your hands.”Ruan Zhan didn’t wish to get the information by promising to release them. Even though they were enemies, he wasn’t willing to resort to lying.

“He’s in a hidden cave inside the left ravine. There’s a dead locust tree not far from the entrance.”Three-inch golden lotus finally spoke after a long while. “Are you sure you want to see him? You might not be able to take it. This auntie cherishes you, and is warning you for your own good!”She started giggling after speaking.

The location of the hidden cave was easy to find. The mountain was barren so the dead locust tree was exceptionally jarring. Yet despite finding the place, he wasn’t able to find the entrance after searching for a long while. Ruan Zhan overturned piles of stones and went through all the weeds that managed to grow in this place. There were still no signs.

Had his father set up a barrier outside the entrance? But why did it not cause any interference? Were his powers insufficient to discover the invisible barrier?

At this thought, Ruan Zhan took out the annihilation seal. This was an object that could break all barriers. He had brought it just in case, but never expected he would put it to use.

He chanted the spell and sent the seal out.  A crisp sound came from the air. It wasn’t like the usual shattering of glass, but rather the chirping of birds, causing his heart to beat in sync. Then, a vague black aura spread from beneath the weeds. Ruan Zhan knew he had found the cave entrance. Yet just finding it had caused evil aura to appear, making it even harder for his already cramped heart to accept.

The cave was very dark, and he used an illumination talisman to cast a cold light. The floated in the air, guiding Ruan Zhan’s footsteps. The cave was very deep and winding. He seemed to have passed through the entire mountain, something he couldn’t have imagined when viewing it from outside. It was also very clean. Clearly it was not a place people or even animals frequented. This was truly a secret place, and it felt extremely mysterious.

With a crackle, the talisman suddenly ignited and then extinguished, plunging the cave into darkness.

Ruan Zhan didn’t move. He felt the changes in the air and his heart immediately clenched in pain.

“I’ve already come, why not face me.”

After a moment, a long sigh rang out. “You…you know everything?”

“Those two yakshas only told me a little. I’ve come to get the truth.”Ruan Zhan knew his father didn’t want him to approach, so he remained in place to get his answers.

Another moment of silence passed before several illumination talismans shot into the air. They were much brighter than the one Ruan Zhan had cast, fully lighting every corner of the cave. Beneath the light, an elder sat cross-legged on the floor. At a glance, he looked like one of those old people spacing out on a park bench. He appeared lonely and miserable, like a discarded rag no one wanted.

Ruan Zhan rarely cried, but at that moment his heart ached and he wanted to tear up. He blamed his father for never showing him fatherly affection, but when had he given his father the love of a son? Even if he was just an adoptive parent, he should still have shown him filial piety! Yet he had been too young, too stubborn and too resentful of the world back then. Now, he could no longer fix it.

Only now did he understand that an absent father was the greatest pain in life!

“Why?” He asked. He saw the black aura wrapped around his father clearly. Only someone who had committed great evil would have such an aura. When he first saw it, the shock almost caused him to space out. The evil aura was too strong. He couldn’t purify or suppress it.

“Don’t ask. There will come a day when you will understand. But this truly is my fault. I overestimated my abilities, and cannot blame anyone else.”Father Ruan said slowly as he looked Ruan Zhan over, his gaze loving.

He really loved this child, but because of that destined day, he cannot love, or everything would be lost.

“No, I have to know why.” Ruan Zhan said stubbornly. This was the first time in his life he was so emotional. “You might not care about me, but I cannot treat you the same way.”

“The relationship between us father and son has always been one where neither cared for the other. Don’t meddle.”Father Ruan’s gaze shifted and became cold.

“Why dispel the evil aura if you’re evil?” His father’s distant attitude hurt him, but he was convinced there was some hidden secret behind it. If he really was evil, why would he bother dispelling his aura? He had only been in the cave for a short time, but already felt uncomfortable all over. Why would his father force himself to suffer here all alone? Based on the strength of his aura, there was no one who could stop him. Why would he torment himself like this?!

“Do you know why I’m here? Do you know why Ironhead Mountain is so barren?” Father Ruan responded evasively. “It’s a shame I never taught you geomancy when you were younger. Well, you were so rebellious back then. You wouldn’t have learned it if I tried to teach you. As you know, there are places that can be considered spiritual utopias. Since places with abundant natural spirit energy or natural convergence points exist, then there are places that are the opposite. This Ironhead Mountain is one such aberrations in the world. It has no spirit energy and cannot gather any. It is a place that dispels energy. Now you understand why this mountain is so barren, right? Plants and animals like places with abundant spirit energy. It’s one thing for a place not to have any, but this place actively dispels it. You think anything would grow here? Even the mountain itself has become twisted. Of course, this inhospitable area could still have had sacred sites. Yet the circumstances back then were unfavorable. What should have been a place of everlasting spring failed to produce any trees or lakes. It wasn’t due to the environment, but rather the spirit energy.”He spoke slowly, like an elder educating his son. Ruan Zhan suddenly recalled his childhood. Yet he immediately snapped back to the present.

“You haven’t answered my question.”

Father Ruan could only nod helplessly. “That’s right. I am dispelling my evil aura.”

“Did you form a heart demon during cultivation? Or did you fall for some fiendish trick?”

“Neither.”Father Ruan shook his head, and suddenly waved his hand towards Ruan Zhan. Ruan Zhan didn’t react in time. He felt his backpack shift and golden light flashed as the tattered banner landed in Father Ruan’s hand.

Holding the small metal banner, Father Ruan stroked it softly, as if unwilling to part with the treasure that had accompanied him for so many years. This confused Ruan Zhan even more. If he could cherish an object like this, why couldn’t he show the slightest hint of affection for him? Why was that? Was there a reason?

“These two are really unusual.”Father Ruan said. He twirled the banner and easily fished out the two yakshas that Ruan Zhan had imprisoned with extra restrictions in the banner. They weren’t in their original forms, but were rather two faint orbs that Father Ruan pressed into the stone wall.

“I didn’t expect them to have been spying on me this whole time. I actually didn’t notice and allowed them to discover my secrets. They even lured you to this place.”He sighed softly. “I’ve already died. Yin and Yang should not mix. It is better if we don’t meet.”

“Stop beating around the bush, tell me the truth!”

“Leave these two to me. I should resolve my own mistakes. You should leave.”Father Ruan still carried on, not answering Ruan Zhan’s questions at all.

“You have to tell me. This matter involves me as well. Even if you don’t want me as your son, you should still tell me about the Calamity of Threes.” Ruan Zhan’s emotions were complex. He didn’t know how to ask for the answers and also didn’t know how to persuade his stubborn father. He could only change the subject. “I have someone I love dearly. I cannot die. I want to be with her!”

Ruan Tian Yi wasn’t the only one who froze at the words. Ruan Zhan himself did the same. These words had been in his heart for a while, but it was the first time he spoke them out so plainly.

Ruan Tian Yi looked at Ruan Zhan for a while, letting out an inaudible sigh. He had treated his son the way he did precisely to make him cold and indifferent. That was his destiny from birth. He couldn’t get involved with others in the mortal realm, or get emotionally entangled. Wan Li was already one exception, a person he had left for his son in a moment of weakness, so he could experience a hint of warmth. He didn’t expect his son to still fall prey to the word “love”. To love was one thing, but he actually ended up falling so deeply. It would bring him no benefits, and would only increase his suffering. Was this child’s destiny really so severe?

“Is it that lass surnamed Yue?” He squinted as he carefully recalled their rushed meeting. “She is very adorable. Unfortunately, you cannot escape your Calamity of Threes. It is destined, unless a miracle appears. However, you cannot count on that miracle.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means that being with her will only bring her harm. You should let her go! If you truly like her so much, you should do it for her sake. Or perhaps you can go find her if a miracle truly does appear. It wouldn’t be too late then. The future is boundless. That lass is clearly an impetuous one. If pressed, there isn’t anything she wouldn’t do, right?”

Ruan Zhan’s heart shook. He knew his father was right. He had suppressed his love for Xiao Xia, but if love could be controlled then it wasn’t true love. Therefore, he wanted to overcome his tribulation. It was all for Xiao Xia’s sake. Now, his father personally crushed his hopes. Should he still resist? Or should he just give up? His father was right. Xiao Xia’s wildfire personality meant she would be willing to do anything.

“Since it’s come to this, you should stop hiding things.”He said slowly, not daring to look at his father. “Explain the situation, and I will decide myself whether or not to give up on her. Don’t say that the mysteries of the heavens shouldn’t be revealed. And don’t say it’s for my own good, or that it’s destiny and what not. Since I have to bear it and I can’t escape it, I at least have the right to know why it’s my fate.”He sat down after speaking, as if he definitely wasn’t leaving if his father didn’t speak.

Ruan Tian Yi had never seen Ruan Zhan act this way before. Purposefully raising his son to have a cold nature had succeeded to a certain extent. Ever since he was young, he had expressed an indifference to everything that belied his age. He never insisted on anything. What had caused him to change like this? Or perhaps this child had always been so hot-blooded, but had hidden it due to his father’s shaping?!

Fine, since he had destroyed his own flesh and blood over this matter, what harm did it do to personally tell his son about the cruel truth. It was something he had always been avoiding, afraid he would add to his son’s suffering before that day arrived. However, accidents often happened, and the situation left him no choice.

“Your Calamity of Threes is predestined because I’ve made repeated calculations. A strange astrological phenomenon will appear that day. This isn’t the astrology of regular people, so those of the mortal realm will not sense it. Only those who have cultivated to a certain level know about it. On that day, you will have to do something that will for sure cost you your life. Do you still want me to go on?” Ruan Tian Yi asked.

Death wasn’t scary. The scary thing was waiting for it to come.

Ruan Zhan’s face was pale as he nodded. Listening to his predestined fate, he had a strange feeling as if a vision of that day appeared before him. Along with his father’s unhurried words, he slowly witnessed his own past and future. It turns out the meaning of his life was so ridiculous. It turns out he wouldn’t be able to escape it in the end!

“What if I don’t do it?” He asked.

But before his father could answer, he had already made up his own mind. He had to do it, because it was what he was born for. Besides, how could he be willing to ignore it? Not only would he let his father down, he would also put Xiao Xia, Wan Li and even Bao Da Tong in danger.

He might as well bear the burden by himself!

He knew his father wouldn’t leave this place, and since the ravine hadn’t been filled in, it wouldn’t prevent his father from dispelling his evil aura. Ruan Zhan chose to leave by himself. There were no farewells, because father and son would meet again on that day. But would it still count as a reunion under such circumstances?

After roaming about Jingshi Town for a few days, he still went home in the end. Although it meant he would have to treat Xiao Xia coldly and hurt her, he wanted to see her in his last days. He wanted to breathe her in, feel her. He couldn’t bear to leave her. It would be the most painful period of time in his life, but also the happiest.

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