Chapter 2 : Shed One’s Mortal Body and Exchange One’s Bones1
As he could rely on his feet for the thirty miles, his advance was naturally very slow, even more so, he was also carrying a person on his back.
Fortunately, this person was not very heavy, perhaps it was because he was so burnt that what left was a withered body, carrying him was effortless.
All along the road was spick and span, even snakes, insects, rats and ants were missing from sight.
However, the place they were heading to was especially conspicuous.
From thirty miles away, Xu Xingzhi could already see a gigantic tower meeting the sky at the southeast. It linked straight to the horizon with golden rays glistering. If he surveyed the area spread beyond his eyes, there would only be the traces of the carver’s blade on them.
Even if there was no guidance from black shadow, Xu Xingzhi would still choose to head there.
As daytime did not exist in the wilderness, the sky was dull akin to a leucoma growing from the eyes of an elderly. Perhaps, it had rained heavily earlier on. The initial shower had stopped, making the sky a dusky color while the verdurous forest rippled like a green wave.
Xu Xingzhi carried a dying burnt body, trekking in the forest.
However, the surrounding was really too quiet, so quiet that it brought fear to the body and Xu Xingzhi simply started whistling.
The sound was bright and distinct as if it could seep into the damp stones.
When he smoothly finished an old folk tune, he sincerely praised himself, “It’s so good.”
The person on his back slightly moved and a gust of hot air blew unto his neck.
…Seemed like he was laughing.
But when Xu Xingzhi looked back, his head was quietly leaning on his back. There was no movement at all.
It was probably an illusion.
After passing through the forest, rugged hills started appearing. Xu Xingzhi’s legs were getting weak and he was really exhausted. He simply found a dry and clean cave and entered.
The cave had a block of moss covered rock. Xu Xingzhi wanted to put the person down and lean him against the rock, but he realized that this pair of arms were stiffened, as if it used all its strength to circle itself on his neck, leaving only some space for him to breathe.
Fortunately, Xu Xingzhi did not put him down. If he really put him down, he might be accidentally strangled by him.
Xu Xingzhi had no other choice, yet he didn’t dare to pat his body. He was afraid that he might unintentionally shake the fragile limbs off. “Hey, wake up. Can you wake up?”
The person behind squirmed his body.
Xu Xingzhi said, “We shall rest here for a while. Let go of me.”
The person behind struggled with difficulties to release his curled arms a little. He did not actually let go of Xu Xingzhi but grasped at the corner of his clothes.
His badly burnt voice was hoarse and horrible. “…Are you leaving?”
Even if this face was truly horrifying, Xu Xingzhi was quite undisturbed.
On one hand, after meeting the monster and having to fight at close quarters, his face was splashed with blood. Thus, he remained calm regardless of what he saw upon now.
On the other hand, in the wilderness full of demons, for a monster who still maintained the shape of a human, he did not seem to be very scary.
Xu Xingzhi settled the person down on the moss rock. He then attentively took off his outerwear and wrapped it on his body, saying, “… Not leaving.”
The burnt empty eyes were staring right at Xu Xingzhi. He weakly said, “Why did you save me?”
Xu Xingzhi tucked his clothes properly. “Are there so many whys?”
He murmured, “What if I died on your back? What will you do?”
Xu Xingzhi found it quite hilarious. “Naturally, I will carry you home. If not, do you think I will throw you on the road?”
With nothing else to continue, he stood up. “There is a river outside, I will go get some water back. Don’t remove the clothes, otherwise, you may peel off your skin and start shouting pain.”
That person, like a puppy, clenched tightly at the clothes Xu Xingzhi had wrapped around him. “…It is not painful.”
After Xu Xingzhi left, he then grabbed at the sleeve of Xu Xingzhi’s clothes, greedily smelling it.
The pieces of skin and flesh on his body dropped as he tugged about, but he didn’t seem to have sensed any pain since the beginning.
He softly called, “Senior Brother, Senior Brother.”
Xu Xingzhi walked out of the cave and squatted at the riverside. His heart contained a sense of unrealness, lingering and refusing to dissipate.
He kneeled down and attempted to wash the blood stains off his hands, but the smell of blood was getting stronger as he washed. It was unbearable.
Xu Xingzhi’s kneecaps went soft and he retched a few times at the riverside but nothing came out.
He wiped his mouth and laid on the riverside, staring at the wild green sky. He reached out and touched his waist.
The dagger with the aura of heaven and earth was still there, reminding Xu Xingzhi that he had an uncompleted mission.
Xu Xingzhi did not notice that more than ten yards away in the forest was a snakehead as big as a dustpan slowly swimming out.
What was left of the snake was only a complete head, its torso was all skeleton and bones, only some of its decaying flesh remained.
The snake was silently heading towards Xu Xingzhi’s direction as it revealed its bright red tongue and moved its lower jaw.
If it opened its lower jaw, it was sufficient to swallow Xu Xingzhi’s head in one bite.
Xu Xingzhi was clueless as he lay on the grass daydreaming.
The snake was getting closer to Xu Xingzhi, but it creased any movement at ten feet away.
Instantly, as if it smelled something terrifying, it turned back and slithered away. Frantically fleeing in disarray, the bones made screeching sounds as it swept along the ground.
After hearing the abnormal noise, Xu Xingzhi instantly touched the dagger at his hip as he flipped over, and then looked behind—
Behind him was an empty space, there was only some strange marking wriggling to the forest, and then vanishing off.
Xu Xingzhi deduced that this place was not a place to stay any longer. He swiftly picked a piece of broadleaf from the tree at the riverside and washed it at the river. He simply curled it and collected some water.
As he was collecting the water, he unintentionally saw his reflection on the surface of the water.
Despite knowing that this place was filled with danger, Xu Xingzhi still spent some time staring in a daze.
This face was really not bad, the build was tall and had the gentry style of a hero. It had the fixed facial expression yet when there’s a movement, the face was full of ostentatiousness. The whole facial features were no doubt handsome this one word.
Perhaps the temperament was too conceited, the corner of the left eye rested a teardrop mole. When Xu Xingzhi straightened his face, he could actually see a few suppressed cold expressions.
Xu Xingzhi thought that for heaven to actually give this face to such a chatterbox like himself, this really was a reckless waste of God’s good gift.
As Xu Xingzhi was lamenting, the giant snake that went back to the forest was silently writhing in pain.
—Its joints were being broken one by one by a mysterious power, the sound rang brightly, like a piece of broken grass.
When Xu Xingzhi returned back to the cave, he noticed the black shadow was already sitting up, his hands fiddling with a piece of withered grass.
Starting from the bottom of the withered grass, he had already folded out several broken marks.
He counted as he folded, “…five, six, seven…”
When he saw Xu Xingzhi coming back, he placed his both hands to his back. He lifted his head and looked at the direction of Xu Xingzhi.
…Obsession and obedience.
Xu Xingzhi saw that his spirit was not bad, so after feeding him the water he added, “Let’s hurry go. There is something wrong with this place.”
Black shadow nodded, he put down the badly folded grass and reached out his two hands. The intention was very clear.
Xu Xingzhi sized him up, “I see that your injuries are not very serious, walk yourself.”
Black shadow didn’t move but only looked up at Xu Xingzhi.
Xu Xingzhi looked at him for a few seconds, not making any movement. “Get up.”
Black shadow’s hands remained outreached and his chin slightly withdrawn, showing a face full of grievances.
Xu Xingzhi faced the charred black human’s blurred facial features and stood on his ground for a while, his eyebrow frowned with annoyance “…Tsk.”
Once again exiting the cave, the black shadow was still laying on Xu Xingzhi’s back with Xu Xingzhi’s outerwear on him.
Xu Xingzhi pulled at his trousers and waded across to the other side of the river. The black shadow turned his head back and looked at the dense forest before he gave a cold smile.
The skeleton snake collapsed on the ground, the bones were kneaded into a pile of mud and the ground was full of traces of struggles.
It laid on a sheet of grass field, no longer breathing.
A group of ants as big as broad beans came out from their nest, and within a short period of time the skeleton snake was devoured cleanly.
The strange thing was that they evaded the footsteps left by Xu Xingzhi. They were scared to the extreme, instantly finding another route to go about as if there was a terrifying beast that just passed by.
Nothing was spoken in the thirty miles and it was indeed boring. Xu Xingzhi spent close to twenty miles worth of distance tidying up the original owner’s memories. He noticed that most of the scattered pieces were minor trifles and there were zero completed clips, even the face of Meng Chongguang was a blur.
Originally, Xu Xingzhi felt that it was strange, but after a second thought, he felt that it was quite logical. This memory was obtained from a dead corpse, there was nothing surprising about any hazy memories.
The only thing he knew now was that Meng Chongguang had a cinnabar on his head.
To kill Meng Chongguang, he had to aim there.
It was boring, Xu Xingzhi initiated a conversation with the person on his back. “How did you get all these injuries?”
That person hoarsely said, “…Plotted by someone.”
Xu Xingzhi asked again, “How long have you stayed in the wilderness?”
He said, “I don’t remember. Feel like it has been around one hundred years long.”
Xu Xingzhi took it that he was joking and he went straight to the main point, “Do you know Meng Chongguang?”
Black Shadow was silent for a while. “Why are you looking for him?”
Xu Xingzhi realized that there was some hope. He was surprised and answered: “He is my junior brother…”
Black shadow was about to say something when the two of them suddenly heard a wave of noise in the far away. A gust of hot wind accompanied by spiritual energy harshly rippled here, nearly pushing Xu Xingzhi to the ground.
The loud rang originated from the tower at the southeast.
Black Shadow actually showed anxiety, pushing at Xu Xingzhi’s shoulder. “That is the place, hurry go! Hurry go!”
According to Xu Xingzhi’s personality, he would definitely immediately run in the opposite direction, the faster the better. He would never ever keep in contact with any inauspicious stuff. But the moment he thought of the possibility of Meng Chongguang being there, Xu Xingzhi bluntly gnashed his teeth and rushed forward to where the gigantic tower was.
The closer they approached the center of the battle, the more Xu Xingzhi could feel the lather of the person behind.
Similarly, the closer they were to the gigantic tower, the inexplicable sense of oppression made Xu Xingzhi breathless.
The first thing that entered Xu Xingzhi’s vision was a youth standing on a cliff. A horrifying looking iron ghost mask was covering his upper face. He was standing in a high position and his black clothes fluttered like a crow. His palm was filled with a faint violet light swirling.
…But he was only a small sized crow.
Xu Xingzhi remembered this person, he had also appeared in his story before. He was a subordinate of Meng Chongguang that had exceptional ghost cultivation. He had a very good understanding of the ghost cultivation’s techniques.
But Xu Xingzhi didn’t manage to give him a name in time.
To be accurate, in the whole story, Xu Xingzhi only named Meng Chongguang.
According to Xu Xingzhi’s setting, the world was divided into human cultivation, demonic cultivation, ghost cultivation, and devil cultivation. Only human cultivation was publicly accepted as the righteous path, with the ability to lead the three realms.
The so-called demonic cultivation was born from the essence of heaven and earth. It was the cultivation of animals and plants.
The so-called ghost cultivation was based on the principle “All beings would die, death would return to the land.” It allowed the command of ghosts and corpses.
As for human cultivation and devil cultivation, both of these cultivation were human-based. However, the wide road led to the sky, each walked their own sides. Human cultivation cultivated the path and the heart, it emphasized about small but steady streams flowing forever and heaven would naturally grant it; devil cultivation cultivated the bone and the skin, it emphasized about pouring oil onto the flames and the heart would be ignited in temptations.
And those trapped in the wilderness were either the demons, ghosts, devils or those who had committed crimes, and had fallen from the righteous path.
Xu Xingzhi glanced to the top and sure enough, there were numerous shabby wearing ghosts shuttling up and down. Their hands each grasped a sharp blade, fighting violently against the enemies.
The center of their foreheads were flickering a faint violet cloud mark that was similar to the ghost mask youth.
Ghost mask youth stood at a high point. Even though he was wearing a suit of black, he was still too eye-catching. Very soon, a sharp arrow aimed at his chest flew like a lightning, making a beeline towards him.
When the distance between him and the arrow was reaching ten feet, a half yard long nine revolution spear suddenly guarded at his front. It met the tip of the arrow and they clashed at each other.
The two peaks clashed and streaked out an electric arc. From the center, the spear forcefully smashed opened the arrow!
Following behind, a burst of mirage flickered in front of the ghost mask youth, slowly revealing a human figure.
The human figure caught the end of the spear and flipped his wrist. The spear was forced to draw out a complete light arc in mid-air.
That was an extremely handsome youth and it was a shame that in the center of his brows was lighted up with a light violet cloud.
…This showed that he was just a deceased soul.
He temporarily abandoned the fierce battle and turned towards the youth wearing the ghost mask. Leaning down, he kissed at the tip of the nose covered by the mask. He said with a smile on his face, “…Why are you so careless? You don’t even know how to dodge this.”
Ghost mask youth was stunned first, and then he was shamed and angered. “Zhou Beinan, you better get down now!”
His fingers snapped and a violet light swirled. The youth holding the spear uncontrollably fell down from the cliff. He flipped a few times in the air before he stabilized his footstep.
Ghost mask youth touched the tip of his nose. He bit his full lips that were tilted to one corner like he was sulking.
Xu Xingzhi heard a genuine sigh from black shadow on his back. “…All is good.”
Xu Xingzhi asked him, “What do we do now?”
Black shadow faced the sky and blew a whistle.
Xu Xingzhi was unsure as to what he was doing. Just when he was about to ask, a skeleton emerged from the back of a huge stone, scaring Xu Xingzhi to the point of not able to catch his breath.
This was a female skeleton, the whole body was clean and clear and there was no trace of flesh. However, she still had a head full of black hairs that were neatly tied up with a misty green colored ribbon.
She saw the charred black human at first gaze and surprisedly asked, “You only went out for a stroll to clear your heart, how did you become like this?”
Black shadow didn’t answer but coldly asked, “What happened?”
Skeleton girl extended out her boney left hand and rested them on the left pulse of black shadow, “They belong to Feng Mountain.”
Black shadow laughed. “…They are unaware of their own strength.”
Skeleton girl’s bones began to surface a faint green light. She pushed the light waves into black shadow’s body. “Let me help you tend to your injuries… You don’t have to worry. Even if you don’t come back, Qu Chi and Zhou Beinan will still win.”
After listening to this conversation, Xu Xingzhi felt that something was weird but the sound of artifacts clashing interrupted his thoughts. He didn’t continue pondering and he popped his head out from their hiding spot.
In the midst of the battle, foes and comrades were hard to distinguish. Everyone’s clothes were torn and their appearances were haggard. If there was something different, then it would be the 13 or 14 year-old girl.
Her figure was thin, wearing a torn and ruined set of brown. Her sleeves were pulled over the elbows, revealing a thin wrist as white as the snow.
And the disparity was shown in her hands that each held a sabre. The pair of sabre was made of bronze. If she were to stand up, it would not be much shorter than her height but yet she could easily swing them with one hand. In one leaping, the blade slashed at someone else’s neck.
Her face was stained with numerous blood spots, making her even more white and fragile looking.
Exactly like what the skeleton girl had said, this gang of people who came to attack the tower was akin to a retreating tide, dragging their soldiers away.
The maiden took back the twin swords and slotted them back to the intersecting cross sheath at her back, she was ready to lift her legs and dash.
Xu Xingzhi was anxious, he directly came out from his hidden spot and loudly shouted, “Do not chase!”
The battle took place in an empty valley, and his voice swayed upwards in layers, swirling incessantly.
The maiden heard the shout and turned back, she was not surprised to see a male stranger and slightly crooked her head.
And the ghost mask youth standing on the cliff followed the sound and looked downwards, the purple light in his palm at once disappeared. The groups of ghosts controlled by him and the floating talisman all fell to the ground with a ‘ta’ sound.
He muttered,“…Senior Brother Xu?”
The maiden was not afraid of him. She raised her voice and asked, “Why did you not chase them? They were clearly defeated and were fleeing!”
Xu Xingzhi pointed to the direction they left in. “The flag did not fall, the formation remained undisturbed when they were fleeing. Have you seen such a methodical escape?”
The maiden was stunned. For a moment she was unsure if she should chase or not chase.
And the skeleton girl who was tending to black shadow looked at Xu Xingzhi, her rib cage making a pounding sound.
“Listen to him.”
A frosty command traveled from Xu Xingzhi’s back.
Xu Xingzhi looked back and stared at once.
The burnt skin of black shadow unfolded. The extremely dehydrated shell rapidly grew and his height soon surpassed Xu Xingzhi.
He was like a butterfly that emerged, discarding the burnt and rotten cocoon to reveal the inner original form.
His skin was extremely white, white to the point of indistinctly pulsing rays of light, the so-called “male beauty sultry”, he probably took up the last one word. From head to toe, his body was overflowing with a mist of languorousness, yet it did not bring any disgust. The corner of his eyes was slightly slanted up and the end of his eyes was dyed with a natural red color.
He used Xu Xingzhi’s outerwear to wrap around his body, but it was more seducing than him not wearing anything. What should be covered was not covered at all.
Xu Xingzhi only saw his face briefly, yet he couldn’t shift his sight from his abdomen and below.
This person that looked like a beautiful lady, pulled it out and it was bigger than mine.
Xu Xingzhi let his imaginations run wildly for a long while before he realized that he had omitted something important when he was looking just now.
…In between this person’s brow was an extremely beautiful cinnabar.
Xu Xingzhi looked up and met with a pair of peach blossom eyes.
The owner of the peach blossom eyes and cinnabar looked straight at Xu Xingzhi, his gaze was deep to the point of enticing, yet it contained the desire to possess this person in front until he drowned. “Senior Brother, Chongguang waited for you for so many years, you finally came to find me.”