The light came from the many talismans Ruan Zhan had drawn. Those papery objects weren’t ruined when soaked. Instead, they were like little transparent sails that were erected within the water. They formed a circle that surrounded Ruan Zhan’s position. At this moment, his situation was clearly not looking too good. It would be more accurate to say he was barely holding on. He pointed firmly at his opponent with his left hand while his entire right arm and both his legs were tangled tightly by river plants. Those weeds were dense and sturdy. They wriggled ghoulishly as though they were alive. Upon closer inspection, they turned out to be long, thick hair that held Ruan Zhan fast like countless ghostly claws. Some of them tried to pull out the oxygen tube on the diving suit.
Clearly Ruan Zhan hadn’t expected the vengeful spirit to successfully merge so he was at a disadvantage from the very beginning. Although he was struggling tenaciously, he would definitely be drowned if this continued!
Xiao Xia didn’t have time to think. She hurriedly opened the paper box that she had held tightly the entire time. She noticed the little wax rabbit had already melted by itself. All she saw now was a little wooden sword about two inches long, covered with little tadpole-like blood-red curse marks.
She carefully pinched the little hilt and wasn’t sure what to do. But as she was hesitating, the faint “figure” that stood outside the protective circle with its back to her suddenly sensed the intruder. Its body remained still as its head turned 180 degrees and faced Xiao Xia. His hair was done in the manner of a scholar from the late Qing Dynasty. The flesh on his face was completely rotted, and there were even plants and fish floating throughout. The eyeless sockets were bottomless holes that glared viciously at Xiao Xia as the corner of its mouth moved.
“Meddler, die!” Although it didn’t make a sound, Xiao Xia understood what it wanted to say. She immediately understood this was the culprit of this case, the scholar with towering resentment!
It rushed towards Xiao Xia who subconsciously closed her eyes and raised her hand. That little wooden sword suddenly became normal-sized and emitted a dazzling red light. It immediately forced the scholar’s ghost to flee in panic. Even the river plants that bound Ruan Zhan in the distance hissed sharply and vanished. At the same time, the protective bubble around Xiao Xia vanished without warning, making her feel the water’s pressure and suffocation. She went from having air around her to being about to drown.
She wanted to move towards Ruan Zhan and struggled to swim in his direction. However, the fierce river current pushed her further and further away. She was about to be submerged in the darkness once more.
Ruan Zhan had noticed Xiao Xia long ago, but he didn’t have time to worry about her as he struggled for his life. Seeing her about to become the evil spirit’s snack, he could only transform the closest talisman into an invisible rope and pull her to his side. He then took the oxygen mask off and put it on her face.
Xiao Xia took a deep breath. She didn’t want to feel the suffocating feeling a second time.
At this moment, the evil spirit that was eyeing them like a tiger eyes its prey saw the opportunity and broke the weakened barrier of talismans. They were immediately surrounded by darkness, as well as the sounds of weeping and laughing.
A light cry that sounded like whistling rang out continuously by their ears. The current around them seemed like countless hands stroking and pulling at them. Waves of sinister and cold air threatened to make this riverbed their graves.
Within this hellish darkness, they were like sheep waiting to be slaughtered. Ruan Zhan was their only hope of survival. Therefore, despite Xiao Xia being scared to death, she still consciously felt around for his face and took turns with him in using the oxygen mask. She also handed the bloodwood sword into his hand. She then moved behind him to avoid getting in his way.
Ruan Zhan gripped the bloodwood sword and exerted his abilities to sense the evil aura within the darkness. He had to guard against the resentful spirit’s attacks while fumbling to unstrap the oxygen tank and hook it onto Xiao Xia. Then, he pulled her into his arms and slowly swam in the direction of the whistling. His intuition told him that whatever was whistling didn’t have malicious intentions, so he made the spot decision to trust it.
Although he knew that they had to resolve things with that vengeful spirit today, he had immediately suffered a loss due to it unexpectedly becoming complete. If Xiao Xia hadn’t appeared, he probably would have been tied up and killed.
Now that his protective barrier was shattered, its domain surrounded them, threatening to swallow them or trap them at any time. The bloodwood sword was naturally able to slay a vengeful spirit of this level, but it was smart enough to hide in the darkness, making him unable to find it. Having sealed his own powers for a long period of time, his abilities lay dormant inside him and he wasn’t able to exhibit the sword’s full might. Furthermore, he had to bring Xiao Xia along whom he was sharing a single oxygen tank with. At this rate, they would run out of air and drown.
Now, they could only hope to encounter a shallow stretch of the river where Xiao Xia could leave. Then, he could focus on the fight. The problem was the limited time caused by their dwindling oxygen supply. Furthermore, he wasn’t able to break through its domain while fending off its all-out assault.
Suddenly, the wooden sword started vibrating. It made him realize that within its domain, there wasn’t only a pursuer behind them. There was also something blocking their path forward.
Did it have more vengeful spirits under its control?
He didn’t know. He could only erect a protective talisman over their heads, using the emitted light to at least see a few meters around them.
In front of them was a stone box. It lay at the domain’s edge. Due to the passage of time, it had been half-submerged into the riverbed and was covered in moss. The box’s lid was tightly shut but the sound of knocking could currently be heard, as though something was struggling to come out. The vengeful spirit that had followed them this entire time was actually very anxious at seeing the stone box. It charged forward, no longer heeding the danger.
This made Ruan Zhan feel a wave of excitement. He knew the scholar’s remains that he was looking for were inside. He felt that he could use the vengeful spirit’s panic to deal with it. Although it was dangerous, there was hope of success.
At the same time, the scholar’s ghost knew its weakness had been exposed. Therefore, it charged over recklessly. It knew it couldn’t match the bloodwood sword’s might and transformed into countless fine threads that shot over like sharp blades. Ruan Zhan was still unable to bring out the sword’s true might and was left in a fluster. Fresh blood flowed wherever he was wounded. The threads that stabbed into him turned into imps with sharp ears and teeth that burrowed into his body. Several of them tried to bite Xiao Xia who was behind him.
Xiao Xia was terrified but she couldn’t move away from Ruan Zhan and watch him drown. Her mind was currently very clear. She dodged the imps’ attacks while handing the oxygen mask over to Ruan Zhan briefly. Then, after verifying he could hold his breath for a while, she pounced towards the stone box that had been loosened by the wild swings of the bloodwood sword. She pushed open the lid with all her strength.
She froze in shock.
The stone box wasn’t large enough and the white bones inside were horrifyingly twisted. However, its hair and teeth were in pristine condition. The former billowed in the water while the latter chattered as though chewing on something. A large amount of hair was still pooled at its feet, crunching and twisting as they tried to climb out.
The weirdest part was that in the skeleton’s chest was a scarlet heart.
Thump, thump, thump.