TVIOB – 17

Chapter 17: Secret Surveillance

Tao Xian indeed was a character that got shy very easily, even conversing more than two sentences with Xu Xingzhi would make him awfully nervous. 

Xu Xingzhi also didn’t want to make things difficult for him: “Qu Chi is playing with Ah Wang outside. You are looking for him, right?”

Tao Xian smiled embarrassingly. He bowed and thanked him before fastening his pace and headed outside.

Xu Xingzhi followed him out of the tower.

There was a shower of rain yesterday, and a small brook of clear water trickled in front of the tower, babbling merrily.

That day, Xu Xingzhi was able to go down to the ground, so he kneaded a mud pot using the wet mud. He then called Meng Chongguang to use his power to bake and make it into a durable pottery pot.

Meng Chongguang gladly fulfilled the task set for him, or you could say that he would always eagerly try to satisfy whatever Xu Xing Shi asked him of.

Soon afterwards, when the pots were done being fired, Xu Xing Shi began to teach Zhou Wang how to play pitch-pot.1

She had never played a game like this before, so without even knowing it, she got addicted to the game. However, her hands, which could easily swing a pair sabres that weighed a hundred catty, couldn’t regulate their strength. Those pots were frequently shattered.

Despite this, Xu Xingzhi was very patient with her. He made around seventeen or eighteen pots for her, preparing for this eventuality. 

When Xu Xingzhi walked out of the tower, Zhou Wang was tired of playing with the pots. She leaned on Qu Chi and rested.

Qu Chi seemed to really love candies, so the moment when Zhou Wang sat at his side, he took out a stone from his chest pocket and handed it to Zhou Wang: “…Eat.”

She received it with a straight face and sucked on the stone in her mouth, tasting it seriously: “It’s very sweet. Thank you, Godfather.”

Qu Chi smiled gently and reached out his hand to ruffle Zhou Wang’s hair.

Zhou Wang inclined her head, letting him mess with her hair, but her facial expression was clearly that of a big child who acted ignorant, playing along to keep the younger child happy.

Xu Xingzhi who was leaning on the side of the wall, looked at them. He couldn’t help smiling.

Qu Chi’s age remained unknown, but his current mental state was basically like that of a child. Zhou Wang was so harmonious with him that they did not look like they had a godfather and goddaughter relationship, but more of a sister spoiling her insensible younger brother.

Tao Xian arrived in front of them, bent down to ask them a few things, then put the outer robe of his hemp clothes on Qu Chi’s shoulders: “Don’t catch a cold.”

Qu Chi pulled Tao Xian down to sit with them, insisted on showing him the candy: “Candy. For you to eat.”

Tao Xian solemnly coaxed him: “Senior Brother Qu, eating too many candies will harm your teeth.”

Qu Chi puffed his cheeks and looked confused: “Why?”

Tao Xian appeased him: “When we leave this place , I’ll treat Senior Brother Qu to lots of sweets and candied hawthorns.”

“What is candied hawthorn?”

Tao Xian patiently explained as he gesticulating with his hands: “It’s something that kids love to eat. It’s made of hawthorn and taste sweet and sour. Senior Brother would certainly like it.”

Qu Chi took out a handful of stones from his bag, murmuring: “I know what ‘sweet’ is. This is ‘sweet’, so what would ‘sour’ be?”

Tao Xian didn’t know whether to cry or laugh, and Zhou Wang who was listening on the other side, became somewhat curious.

She was born in the wilderness, she couldn’t understand concepts like ‘sweet’ and ‘sour’.

Xu Xingzhi listened to this childish conversation for a while, then turned his head, looking at everything around him.

Lu Yujiu, who was lost in his thoughts, sat on the overhanging roof of the tower’s third storey with one of his legs dangling down. Next to him was wood scraps from him fashioning a xiao.

Zhou Beinan, who was one storey above Lu Yujiu. He had nothing to do so he used his Ghost Spear as a dart. He threw it to the ground at times, and then he would use his spirtual energy to retrieve his Ghost Spear back.

He was obviously an expert in the pitch-pot game. Even from ten meters away, he could be able to shoot his spear accurately at the same spot.

Skeleton Girl was beside the stream with her back turned to everyone, washing everyone’s clothes. 

Since her haggard and languishing appearance had been seen by everyone numerous times, it naturally didn’t scare anyone anymore. Furthermore, she seemed to be someone who loved to sing; doing the laundry and singing at the same time. The song’s tone wasn’t sorrowful either, on the contrary it was very cheerful.

Lu Yujiu picked up the xiao2 as an accompaniment to her voice, and together they began to perform a duet. 

Xu Xingzhi witnessed all of this, his heart filled with peacefulness like he’d never felt before.

After having arrived at the wilderness three days ago, maybe because there were too many burdens plaguing him, everyday he would have nightmares, and the lulling and gentle spring dreams. Each time he would wake up with his whole body aching and by the third time he woke up, he was burning up.

When Yuan Ru Zhou came to check on him, he was too embarrassed to say that he had been dreaming such strange dreams. He racked his brain trying to explain it away, and finally, due to the lack of any better option, he could only say that he’d caught a cold.

In these few days when he had been recuperating, he lay on the bed and carefully sorted through out all the jumbled thoughts he’d suppressed ever since he entered the wilderness.

… First of all, why was his body still incomplete even after he had come to this world? 

Could it be that the “Knowledge of the World” had taken into account the fact that he’d been handicapped for over ten years and that he wouldn’t be able to transition into using his right hand naturally? Was it afraid that he would expose himself to these people, so it simply chose to chop off the original owner’s hand so that everything would be convenient for him?

If that was the case, the “Knowledge of the World” was way too cautious.

Secondly, why did these people try to steal the Immortal Artifacts that year? Why did they also fail to do it?

The memories of the original owner that was given by “Knowledge of the World” were intermittent. Hidden memories which were buried and concealed in the original owner’s body were yet to resurface. Xu Xingzhi tried to look for the Animal Hide Man because he wanted to interrogate him till he spilled the beans, but since he has still remained badly injured to the point of almost being unconscious, it was impossible for him to tell Xu Xingzhi the reasons.

After his probing, he found out that Zhou Wang was also clueless about what happened that year.

Except for Zhou Wang, everyone else here had already experienced the event from that year for themselves, but if Xu Xingzhi tried to ask them, he’d most probably provoke their suspicions, and if his identity was exposed, there would be absolutely nothing left for him to salvage.

However, after many days of getting along with the rest, Xu Xingzhi truly couldn’t tell whether these people were evil or not.

Just days ago, they’d been badly injured by the invaders from Feng Mountain, to the point that someone had remarked that the stench of the blood still reeked faintly from ten li away, so this might sound cruel and immoral, but in the wilderness, such was so that the weak were preyed by the strong.

There weren’t enough resources in the wilderness to split among everyone in it. As there was only a short distance separating Feng Mountain from the tower, and because they were all situated right in the middle of the wilderness, conflicts would invariably arise between these two factions. Moreover, the people from Feng Mountain really preferred to invade at the times when Meng Chongguang was not around, hoping to kill at least one or two people and destroy Meng Chongguang’s support.

Before Xu Xingzhi got to the tower, Meng Chongguang was wholeheartedly absorbed in his search for the original owner, so when he set out, he wouldn’t return before ten days had passed at the very least and the longest time he’d be away was more than a month. He certainly wouldn’t bother about this kind of matter back then. Perhaps he would have thought that these mobs from Feng Mountain were nothing more than a group of moths flapping their wings and rushing into the fire; It was nothing worth worrying about.

Even though they had been attackef several times, those people have never once counter-attacked, only choosing to defend themselves.

Xu Xingzhi turned this fact over in his mind, and he just couldn’t understand why this kind of people would ever need the Immortal Artifacts for.

Zhou Beinan was the elder son of Ying Tian Chuan’s head, so if nothing had happened, he would have inherited the Immortal Artifacts rightfully.

Qu Chi was the Senior Brother of the Danyang Peak, so even if someone took advantage of him after he’d lost his mind, would a mentally retarded person still retained the right to reach to the deepest core of the Immortal Artifacts’ secret?

Lu Yujiu had once appeared in Xu Xingzhi’s memory, and at that time he was still a young outer disciple of Qingliang Valley, but he was a kid who had considerable loyalty.

Skeleton Girl simply gave off the impression of someone who had no wild schemes. Tao Xian was merely a mortal who had joined Danyang Peak recently. For Zhou Wang, she was basically born in the wilderness, she didn’t even know the basic details of the fight over the Immortal Artifacts.

At this point, Meng Chongguang seemed to be the only amongst them that Xu Xingzhi couldn’t make heads or tails of. But then in the original owner’s memories, Meng Chongguang who had joined Finagling Mountain didn’t seem to have any ulterior motives back then. The two of them had only bumped into each other at the Eastern Emperor Sacrifice Ritual. How did Meng Chongguang know enough to be certain that the original owner would certainly take him back to the mountain?

Xu Xingzhi couldn’t afford to think too much into these things, so he could only set this matter aside.

Finally, was it a must to kill Meng Chongguang?

At the beginning he hadn’t taken any efforts to consider this matter, but since he had unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate Meng Chongguang twice, Xu Xingzhi sought for other ways out.

If Meng Chongguang acted the same as he did in the wilderness and not stir any trouble, even after he left the wilderness with Xu Xingzhi’s assistance, then wouldn’t everything be fine?

Not to mention, Meng Chongguang’s demonic power was like the sea, deep and immeasurable, to the point where even the “Knowledge of the World” couldn’t easily wipe him out. In that case, it would probably be better for him to voluntarily reveal his identity, tell Meng Chongguang that he was someone that didn’t not belong to this world, and that he was able to perceive this world’s truth, which meant he could help him get out of wilderness. As soon as Meng Chongguang had escaped, he could then have him deal with the “Knowledge of the World”, that would get him sent back to the old world, right?

… If “Knowledge of the World” knew that he had such kinds of treacherous thoughts, he might not be able to keep himself from spitting three meters worth of blood.

However, Xu Xingzhi was only thinking about it.

It was very hard for him to imagine what would happen if he revealed the truth, and said that he wasn’t Xu Xingzhi, but just someone boldly using the original owner’s face, and that the real Xu Xingzhi had already died outside world. Meng Chongguang might even use his hands to send him to the West Paradise, in which case he would never be able to see father and sister.

Thinking about his family, Xu Xingzhi couldn’t help but became more lost in his thoughts until a warm embrace held him tightly and firmly from behind.

“What is Senior Brother looking at?” Meng Chongguang came up from behind, rested his slightly pointed chin on his shoulder, “… I want to see too.”

Xu Xingzhi’s sister Xu Wu Tong also really loved to pester him like this, so Xu Xingzhi who was used to this didn’t feel that anything was wrong.

Spoiled children on this world were pretty much like sticky ivy plants, thinking that the only way of truly expressing their love was by blindly pestering people.

With these thoughts in his mind, he replied: “I’m not looking at anything specifically, I’m just thinking about how the wilderness has no sun, no moon and no stars. The whole place is so dark and dull, it is indeed a bit uninteresting.”

Meng Chongguang asked: “Senior Brother wants to see the stars?”

Xu Xingzhi: “I don’t want that either, I just feel like looking at them now.”

In the end, he added another sentence with thinking about it: “Such sophisticated things like watching the stars and gazing at the moon, only that White Haired Wen3 will like it.”

The moment those words came out from his mouth, he was immediately startled by what came out of his mouth.  

The sentence just now was indeed blurted out by him, but it barely had any thought inputted in.

… Maybe it was also a reaction stemming from the original owner’s body?

This time, another overlooked doubt emerged in Xu Xingzhi’s heart. Amongst the four sects, the original owner, Xu Xingzhi, Danyang Peak’s Qu Chi and Ying Tian Chuan’s Zhou Beinan, were all already in the wilderness, but no one seemed to ever mention the one who was known in rumors to be the most upright, having hatred for the infidels down to his bones, the white haired Wen Xuechen.

As if he was lost in thought, Zhou Beinan who was sitting quite high up in the tower once again retrieved his Ghost Spear in his palm, but he didn’t aim it at the previous place.

The spear went out like a dragon, splitting the airflow, bringing up a burst of sharp-pointed buzzers, and precisely shot it at a cluster of reeds a dozen meters away.

From there was a whole lot of mournful and miserable screaming, with blood spurting upto seven meters, like red silk flowing everywhere.

Xu Xingzhi, who had heard it, felt startled inside and raised his eyes and looked.

A ghost cultivator’s walking speed was naturally incomparable to a normal human’s walking speed. Zhou Beinan who had been on the overhanging roof for so long was now in the cluster of reeds within the wink of an eye, from which he dragged out a corpse.

The clothes and accessories for daily use which were worn by the corpse were exactly identical to that of Meng Chongguang, white long robes embroidered with clouds and a green hemp headcloth.

Zhou Beinan hadn’t intended to take his life with that shot originally, so it only penetrated his shank and pinned him to the ground, however that person was unexpectedly dead, with blood flowing endlessly out of his mouth.

Zhou Beinan pried open his mouth and half a tongue immediately fell out.

Xu Xingzhi’s eyes were those of a mortal, so naturally, he wasn’t able to see such a bloody scene as this distance, he could only get some clues from the clothes they were wearing.

Qu Chi who was also curious about the proceedings asked Tao Xian: “Is it a disciple from Fengling Mountain that came? If they are Fengling Mountain’s disciples, I’ll treat them to some candies.”  

Tao Xian: “Shh, shh.”

Meng Chongguang pushed Xu Xingzhi’s shoulder: “Senior Brother, you go inside first. Jiu Zhideng’s men are coming.”

Xu Xingzhi was surprised: “What are they are coming here for?”

“As long we all survive in the wilderness, they will keep coming any time they like.” When Meng Chongguang said this, his voice was indifferent, but at the moment he turned his head to Xu Xingzhi, the look in his eyes was so soft and gentle, it felt like they would melt. “Senior Brother, go in quickly, if a fight erupts shortly and you get hurt during that, it won’t be good.”

Xu Xingzhi also didn’t say anything more, he only said “Be careful.” and then immediately turned around and headed to the tower.

In reality, the sentence that he had blurted out still lingered in his mind, and now his head began to feel indistinctly heavy, with broken images appearing in front of his eyes.

Memories that belonged to the original owner had once again begun to emerge.

If he remains standing at this place, he might go through the same old disastrous route; once he falls and passes out, he would only inconvenience everyone around him more.

After waiting for Xu Xingzhi to go back inside the tower, Meng Chongguang’s kindness and gentleness was reeled back in.

Zhou Beinan walked up to him, dragging the dead body : “… He is dead, he bit his tongue to commit suicide.” 

“It seems that Jiu Zhideng had already ordered them.” Meng Chongguang’s laughter were reeked with extreme gloominess and coldness. “These people don’t dare to be captured alive in my hands.”

Zhou Beinan scoped the place out: “There might be others watching and waiting. What should we do now?”

“Find every one of them.” Meng Chongguang commanded, “When they are found, just like before, tear off their clothes and skin them alive. 

Yuan Ru Zhou, who was washing clothes by the brook, was in the closest proximity to the recent scout.

She followed the blood trail to a cluster of reeds and she picked up a mirror after groping around there for a while. The moment she looked at the mirror, her expression hugely changed. She immediately, shattered the mirror into pieces.

Yuan Ru Zhou, holding the broken mirror, walked back to the tower and handed the pieces to Meng Chongguang: “Junior Brother, have a look at it, this is Ling Zhao Mirror. Anything that is reflected by the Ling Zhao Mirror will allow communication through the mirrors.”

When Zhou Beinan heard those words, he turned to Meng Chongguang: “… I remembered that Ling Zhao Mirror is Jiu Zhideng’s magic artefact. This scout must be sent by Jiu Zhideng to see if Xu Xingzhi had laid his hand on you already, right?”

Meng Chongguang’s expression didn’t change, he smiled at the broken mirror: “ Take this broken mirror and throw it away… Senior Brother has lived well in the wilderness day after day with me, how could he be willing to lay his hand on me?”

At the other side of Ling Zhao Mirror.

A man wearing Fengling Mountain’s uniform held the Ling Zhao Mirror in his hand. He was crouching in front of a person, not daring to speak.

The scene shown in the mirror was already broken and silted. Meng Chongguang’s face that was reflected by the mirror had numerous inverted images. The voice was broken intermittently, but it was still comprehensible: “Senior Brother he…lived well day after day, with me…how could he be willing…lay his hand…”

The one looking at the mirror from the other side was Jiu Zhideng, donned in a long white robe embroidered with clouds.

His cold eyes were tainted with anger. When he heard this, he flung out the book in his hand immediately.

The silver crystal vase which was used to decorate the room instantly shattered into small pieces. The flower arrangement in it tumbled and the water splashed all over the ground.

The limbs of the disciple began to tremble in his panic, he hesitantly knelt in the spot he was standing on, not daring to speak up.

“Call Wen Xuechen over.” After a long while, Jiu Zhideng’s cold voice came from above. It sounded as if his anger had completely dissipated into nothingness, “I want him to think of a way to get Senior Brother out of the wilderness.”

The disciple obediently and eagerly accepted the command, and the moment he stood up, he inadvertently glanced at the place where Jiu Zhideng sat and instantly became terrified.

–The table in front of Jiu Zhideng, which was made of thousand year old incense wood now had five deep gouges freshly made by his fingers on it. It was ugly and dreadfully frightening.

The author has something to say: … The Senior Brother who raised two mischievous brats up suffers inside.

Chapter 16 | Chapter 18