Ch.51: Truth or Deception; Difficult to Discern
Yet, when the other half of the mask fell and Qi Rong’s entire face was revealed, it
became obvious that he didn’t look that much like Xie Lian after all. Their noses and lips
were similar in shape, but their brows and eyes were quite different. Xie Lian’s eyes
were calm and peaceful. Qi Rong’s brows were high and sharp, his eyes were also
much more thin and slant. He was certainly still a good looking young man, but anyone
could see just from his face that he wasn’t one to be messed with. After having been
beaten to a bloody pulp, he could finally squint open a slit of his eyes, and blearily
noticed the one grabbing him had changed form, and dressed in red. Qi Rong had
never seen Hua Cheng’s real face, but the moment he saw the red robes he was
shocked and furious, “It’s you. IT’S YOU!”
Hua Cheng had changed back to this true form. “You haven’t answered my question.
How did Prince An Le die?”
Because of how frightening his eyes looked, Xie Lian rushed forward and cried, “San
Humans and ghosts alike had all already cleared the cave, and Xie Lian ran to his side,
“Are you alright? Don’t be angry, please don’t be angry, everything’s fine. Just calm
down, everything’s fine…”
He gently rubbed down Hua Cheng’s shoulders a few times, and his voice becoming
soothingly soft. When Xie Lian was younger, whenever he got angry or upset, his
parents would always stroke his back like this, and comfort him with their gentle voices,
and thus he used the same method on Hua Cheng. Turns out it was quite effective; Hua
Cheng’s eyes were turbulent before, but after being soothed, his lips quivered for a
second, and slowly but finally calmed, his eyes cleared once more.
Seeing this, Xie Lian let out a breath of relief. But suddenly, even before he finished
exhaling, Hua Cheng swiftly reached out a hand and gently patted his shoulder once.
This pat instantly froze Xie Lian’s body and rooted him to where he stood.
He hadn’t prepared for Hua Cheng to do anything to him, which was why this was done
so easily. He didn’t know what Hua Cheng was up to, but he wasn’t worried about
himself, but rather he was worried for Hua Cheng, afraid that he might lose control
again like earlier. He was about to open his mouth to ask, when he realized not only
could he not move, he couldn’t speak either, and felt he may have gotten into a rather
That Qi Rong may be weak in fist fights, but his mouth was certainly tough, and started
cursing while still covered in blood, “You fucking crazy one-eyed snake! Did I fucking
piss you off while eating in my own fucking house?!”
Hua Cheng smiled, then smacked his head down onto the ground again before picking
it up, “How did Prince An Le die?”
“What the fuck does that have to do with you…” Qi Rong cried, and Hua Cheng bashed
him down again, “How did Prince An Le die?”
This went on repeat for a while, and Hua Cheng kept his cool smile, dribbling his head
like a ball, violently bashing it for over ten times. Although violent, Qi Rong couldn’t die,
and because he couldn’t die, it was insufferable. Even a skull made of steel couldn’t
stand this kind of torture, and Qi Rong finally changed his tune, “If you’re so free why
don’t you go read a fucking history book?”
Hua Cheng laughed coldly, “If history books recorded the truth, why would I come and
ask a useless trash like you?” He lifted his hand again, and Qi Rong yelled, “IT’S LANG
QIANQIU! HE WAS KILLED BY LANG QIANQIU!!!”
The daruma doll in Xie Lian’s arms jerked, and started shaking vigorously.
It was shaking too hard and Xie Lian couldn’t move to hold it down, so alas he watched
as the Lang Qianqiu daruma doll fall out and onto the ground, madly spinning back and
forth. Hua Cheng didn’t turn his head, but he undid the spell. A blast of red smoke and
Lang Qianqiu’s form leapt from within.
He was royalty, high and mighty, and had never been wronged like this his entire life. He
pointed at Qi Rong in rage, “How could you insult me like this and smear my name! An
Le and I were friends! Who did you say killed him?!”
Qi Rong was also shocked to see him jump out, “You’re Lang Qianqiu? Why the fuck
are you here too?!”
Lang Qianqiu himself didn’t understand why he was brought to this lair either, but was
simply enraged by Qi Rong’s accusations earlier, and felt compelled to clear things up,
“Prince An Le died of illness, so why would you accuse me of killing him out of the
Hua Cheng watched on coldly but stopped dribbling Qi Rong’s head, so Qi Rong got
pulled into the fight, “Died out of a fucking illness, only you would believe it. He died
soon after the Gilded Banquet, so he must’ve been assassinated by you lot! If not you,
then those old withering fucks in court.”
He was muddying the waters and spewing garbage; Lang Qianqiu’s face was growing
grimmer, “No wonder everyone says the Green Ghost Qi Rong is vulgar and crass. Now
that I’ve met you, you are indeed disgusting.”
His offhand comment stabbed Qi Rong exactly where it hurts. After becoming famous,
for so many centuries, all of heaven and hell taunted him for being boorish and crude
and he hated it. His face dropped immediately, “I may be vulgar but it’s still much better
than your ignorance. Friends this, friends that, what peaceful relationship. Xianle and
YongAn can be friends? Coexist in peace? You’re as fake as your shitty parents,
Hearing him insult his parents, Lang Qianqiu was furious, “Shut up! My esteemed
parents were sincere and genuine, not fake! I won’t allow you to spit on their names!”
Qi Rong spat, “You’re all nothing more than the descendants of some rebels, who gave
you the fucking right! What sincerity? To donate titles and land to us, the people of
Xianle? Shameless! You robbed what was ours then handed it back out like it’s some
sort of a gift? Everything you owned had belonged to Xianle!”
Lang Qianqiu was not skilled in arguing, and actually froze and stuttered, “You! You—”
Qi Rong saw how he stammered and felt a rush of satisfaction, and resolved to
aggravate him even more. He laughed, “Even if you guys killed An Le, it was a
profitable death. Xianle lost but one man, but YongAn paid an entire Gilded Banquet.
Too bad we couldn’t kill you too, and have you all taste what it’s like to end an entire
Hearing this, Lang Qianqiu was bewildered, “…What did you say?”
Xie Lian mentally cursed.
He so desperately wanted to bash Qi Rong back into the ground the same way Hua
Cheng did, and shut him up. But with this petrification spell, he couldn’t move a single
“What do you mean you couldn’t kill me too?”
Qi Rong only wanted to avenge himself on the ‘vulgar’ comment, and boasted, “Truly
the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree; my lord’s stupidity spans hundreds of years, my
eyes are opened! Think, us Xianle are thoroughly disgusted with you YongAn; whoever
doesn’t hate you is unfit to be called a citizen of Xianle! Did you honestly think the royal
descendants of Xianle would be friendly with the royalties of YongAn? It was all to
infiltrate your guard, make it easy to plot, and wash your gilded birthday banquet with
Xie Lian was struggling to break free, and Lang Qianqiu was frozen to his spot. After a
moment, he stammered, “…The Prince An Le, and the Guoshi, were, were on the same
Lang Qianqiu was filled with anguish, thinking that his beloved teacher and friend had
conspired against him together. However, contrarily, Qi Rong said, “Guoshi? That
wicked Guoshi Fang Xin? Who the hell is on the same side as him?”
Lang Qianqiu heard his question and was baffled “You… you awash the Gilded Banquet
with blood, but the one to do so was it not the Guoshi? Were you both not on the same
side? I…” He was thoroughly confused.
“Who the fuck knows where that evil cultivator came from,” Qi Rong replied, “It had
nothing to do with him! Listen up, Lang Qianqiu: the blood spilt at your YongAn Gilded
Banquet was all done by the people of Xianle! An Le had already planned to kill off
every single fucking rebel blood at the banquet, but that fucking weirdo Guoshi of yours
suddenly busted in. An Le had thought the plans failed and ran to me for help, asking
me what to do if he was discovered, but who knew that very night it was announced the
one who fucked everything was that Guoshi, and he became wanted in the entire
It took Lang Qianqiu a while to process that information. “If that was the case, then why
didn’t you speak up??”
Qi Rong clicked his tongue, “Are you fucking dumb?? Why would I say anything? Was it
a bad thing to have someone take the blame? Can you level me up to a ‘Supreme’ with
this lie?” He was relishing this more and more the more he spoke, “Yoooo, I get it. You
couldn’t believe it, right? I heard you nailed your own teacher in the coffin,
HAHAHAhahahahah, what a fucking idiot! You killed the wrong person!”
Hearing that vile, hearty laughter, Xie Lian closed his eyes, and cursed again.
Lang Qianqiu was trembling with rage, “…YOU’RE WRONG!” He then whipped around
and shouted towards Xie Lian, “If that was true, even if he didn’t say anything, why
Qi Rong spat out a broken tooth. “And who the fuck is that? What, are you all here to
have a fucking party in my cave???”
Everyone ignored him. Lang Qianqiu demanded, “If you didn’t do it, if you didn’t kill, then
why did you admit to guilt???”
Just then, Xie Lian’s body became loose.
Hua Cheng had undone the petrification spell. However, it might have been too late.
Lang Qianqiu was waiting for his response, and Xie Lian stood up slowly, working out
the kinks in his wrists and joints. After a pause, Xie Lian blurted the words, “Complete
Lang Qianqiu had fully expected him to say “It’s true, just as he said”. Yet, the words Xie
Lian uttered completely revoked his own relief of guilt from Qi Rong’s recount.
Qi Rong was pissed. “Complete nonsense?! Says who?”
“Says I.” Xie Lian said.
He looked down on Qi Rong and said, “All this fibbing and empty words, what proof do
you have that the ones who spilt blood at the GIlded Banquet were the descendants of
Qi Rong was amused, “All the killed are dead, so what proof? Besides, it’s been
hundreds of years. What proof is left?”
“Which is why I say this is all complete nonsense.” Xie Lian replied, “Xianle and YongAn
are dynasties of the past, long lost to time. Is there any point to you stirring up trouble
with nothing more than bits of history?”
The tone of his voice startled Qi Rong, and he looked as if he was remembering
something, narrowing his eyes. Xie Lian turned to Lang Qianqiu and said in a calming
manner, “I killed your father; you saw with your own eyes. This was during a time soon
after my second banishment. I was filled with frustration and caused a great wrong. This
is all my fault. There’s no need to drag anyone else down with me. This man is full of
deception; dragging the Prince An Le’s name through mud was only to avenge himself
of your comment on his vulgarity.”
If any bystander was to listen in on this conversation, they would find it hilarious. A fight
for the title to the true culprit of a murder case; one would think blood spilling at the
Gilded Banquet was some sort of glorious deed. Lang Qianqiu was in turmoil and
profoundly confused. He held his head and thought for a long while before speaking,
“That’s right… it was you, and no one else.”
He had seen with his own eyes. That night, he ran to the Gilded Palace excitedly, only
to see the black clad Guoshi pull out a thin, long sword from the chest of his father,
splattering blood everywhere. And at that moment, his father, the king of YongAn had
stretched out his hand towards him, still breathing. It was after he had rushed over that
that hand was dropped limply.
Just then, Qi Rong who was lying on the ground suddenly spoke up, “Cousin Crown
Prince, is that you?”
Ch.52: Truth or Deception; Difficult to Discern 2
Xie Lian’s gaze moved back to Qi Rong. After staring at him for a moment, Xie Lian
said, “Qi Rong, it looks like you’ve been living colourfully these past few years.”
Right after he finished his words Hua Cheng removed his fake skin. Qi Rong’s eyes
widened as each three of the intruders revealed themselves. Lang Qianqiu was
Even if earlier when he heard Qi Rong say “Us Xianle” and could guess the identity of
the Green Ghost’s past life was one from the kingdom of Xianle, he hadn’t imagined that
he and Xie Lian were actually related on a personal level. Qi Rong stared at Xie Lian’s
face, and looked him up and down; it was a gaze hungry with curiosity and fascination.
When his eyes stopped at the sword Fang Xin on Xie Lian’s back, he suddenly burst out
laughing, “SO THAT’S IT! THAT’S IT! FANG XIN WAS YOU! YOU WERE FANG XIN!
Although he couldn’t understand why he was laughing, Lang Qianqiu’s guts told him it
wasn’t anything appropriate, and demanded angrily, “What’s so funny?”
“I’m laughing at my good ol’ cousin, what’s it to you!” Qi Rong bit back in a fit. “Just now
I said my lord’s stupidity spanned hundreds of years. I’m sorry. I apologize. The best
way to learn is to learn from the best; look at your master, no wonder you’re so fucking
stupid!” He turned to Xie Lian, “You went to YongAn and became their Guoshi, and
ended up stabbed to death by your own disciple, is that not exciting? Is it not hilarious?
You deserved it; making a fool of yourself!”
The moment he uttered the word “fool” Hua Cheng smashed his head down again
violently. Qi Rong had always been tough skinned, and for some reason, seeing Xie
Lian made him ten times more excited than usual. Even with his face bashed into the
ground he yelled unceasingly, “A FOOL! A FOOL! A FOOL!”
Each time he said it, Hua Cheng would smash his head down again. It was a bloody
scene and Xie Lian stopped the hand that was about to strike again, “San Lang, let it
“Why should I?!” Hua Cheng said sharply.
“It’s nothing, don’t let any of it get to you.” Xie Lian said, “He has problems and is
extremely troublesome. I can take care of him. You just sit back and ignore him.”
He gently rubbed Hua Cheng’s shoulder, and it was a long time before Hua Cheng
finally replied in a low voice, “Fine.”
Qi Rong plucked his own head from the ground and rolled to the side with difficulties.
He spat, “Why play pretend false kindness? If you really didn’t want him to hit me, then
you should’ve stopped him from the beginning! Faking indifference and only telling him
to let it go now, no one’s gonna praise you for your generosity!”
“I stopped him because I don’t want him to dirty his hands, did you misunderstand
something?” Xie Lian said.
A trace of anger flashed through Qi Rong’s bloodied face, but then he started giggling,
“Yooo, cousin Crown Prince, you’re getting along pretty well with Hua Cheng. And here I
was just wondering why none of the underlings this little brother of yours sent to greet
you on ZhongYuan ever returned, so it was because they ran into Hua Cheng!”
Xie Lian had no idea that Qi Rong had actually sent any underlings to go find him. That
night of the ZhongYuan festival, it was a coincidence to have bumped into Hua Cheng,
and taking him back to Puqi Shrine wasn’t in the plans. It seemed that all of Qi Rong’s
underlings had been taken cared of by Hua Cheng. Xie Lian couldn’t help but steal a
glance at the person next to him.
Qi Rong continued, “Calling him ‘San Lang’, tsk tsk tsk, so familiar! Cousin, you’re a big
shot heavenly official, how can you hang out with ghosts and demons? Aren’t you
worried about your reputation? You’re so perfect after all, so pure and flawless, your
halo shines upon all on this earth, hahahahahahaha…”
Many in the Heavenly Court had more or less thought the way Mu Qing spoke was
sarcastic, but if they were to listen and compare, they will learn what is truly sarcastic.
Truly, they had wronged Mu Qing. Qi Rong didn’t just speak, he’d act too. He folded his
hands over his heart and exclaimed, “Cousin Crown Prince, this little brother had
constantly thought of you over the years. Look, I even meticulously carved this statue to
keep you by my side, so I can gaze upon your heroic form every waking moment of
every day. What do you think? It’s pretty well done, right? Do you like it? Don’t worry, if
you don’t like it then even better, I’ll carve more, hahahahaha…”
The moment he mentioned the statue, Hua Cheng’s face immediately darkened, and if it
wasn’t for Xie Lian holding him back, he would’ve stepped on Qi Rong’s face by now.
However, Xie Lian knew perfectly well the kind of person Qi Rong was; he’s a little mad
in the head, and the more extreme the reaction, the more excited he’d get, and the
more outrageous he’d become. Reverse psychology would be the most effective, so Xie
Lian only smiled faintly, “It’s only alright. Sorry, but the craftsmanship is kind of low
As expected, Qi Rong’s face immediately fell. He said coldly, “Enough. If it wasn’t for my
past affections and carved you a couple statues, who would even worship you? You
probably sniveled and whined at Jun Wu’s feet and hugged til your knees busted in
order to ascend this time. Go around the heavens and see for yourself, which official
isn’t more dignified than you? Even a two hundred year old ascendee can walk all over
you. You’re pretty much eight hundred years old but only got so far. What a failure.”
Xie Lian smiled, “I am quite the failure, not like cousin, already a ‘Savage’ after eight
Xie Lian knew way too well how to put Qi Rong down. Next to him, Hua Cheng snorted,
and Qi Rong’s face darkened. He looked between all those present and suddenly said,
“This stance… did you beg Hua Cheng to fuck with me today to settle our differences?”
Xie Lian was taken aback, and thought about the current picture they painted, and
actually couldn’t argue back.
Qi Rong continued, “Look at you all. The moment I say anything bad about you, wow!
Look how mad he’d get. Was he blinded by that holy light from your halo? My fucking
god, I forgot! Wasn’t he already blind in one eye? HAHAhahaha…”
Before he could finish, his eyes went dark again, and his cheek exploded in agony,
spewing blood from his mouth – he got punched again! However, this punch wasn’t
from Hua Cheng but from Xie Lian.
Xie Lian’s fist was faster than the eye could see, and he said coldly, “Just because I’ve
never hit you before in the past, doesn’t mean I would never hit you.”
That punch was a solid one, and it was a long while before Qi Rong could make any
sounds. He laid on the ground like a mangy dog, clubbing the ground with his fists as he
cackled, “Cousin Crown Prince, you hit me! You actually hit me! Heavens, our noble,
kind, compassionate, charitable Crown Prince who’s scared of stepping on even a small
ant, actually got pissed, and swung a fist! HE’S HITTING PEOPLE! INCREDIBLE!
He was unbelievably excited, going insane with elation. Lang Qianqiu had never seen
anyone whose words and actions were so mad, and was shocked into bemusement
after witnessing this singular act. He mumbled, “Is… is he crazy?”
Xie Lian was used to seeing Qi Rong’s madness, and didn’t think much of it, “You’ve
heard it. He’s insane. His heart and mind are unbalanced, so nothing he said is
Qi Rong’s laughter came to a sudden stop. He schooled his face and sneered, “Don’t be
so quick to tell people I’m psycho. Let me ask you, how did Prince An Le die!?”
This was the question Hua Cheng had posed to him, and now he asked it to Xie Lian
instead. Lang Qianqiu’s attention was suddenly focused on it again.
Xie Lian’s heart culled, and couldn’t immediately respond. Qi Rong on the other hand,
slowly pulled himself up, and sat while leaning on the kneeling statue, “After An Le died,
I cut open his corpse to inspect it, and all of his organs were pulverized by the vibrations
of an exceedingly powerful sword, which was why he didn’t have any external injuries
but couldn’t stop hacking up blood. This was something no regular swordsman could
do. At first I thought YongAn thugs had brought in some strange hitman so as to fake An
Le’s death as illness. But now that I think about it, there’s another person who can do
this, and it’s none other than my good ol’ cousin, defender of justice. After all, our
Flower-Crowned Martial God, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince is a holy, pure, one
and only, snow white lotus of the heavenly mountains…”
Hua Cheng stomped on him, and Qi Rong yelped miserably. Lang Qianqiu felt like his
head was going to explode; he held his head, his eyes laced with red, “Shut up! Just tell
me what you know! Who’s the real murderer? What happened at the Gilded Banquet?
And what happened to Prince An Le? WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED???”
“Lang Qianqiu why are you still confused?” Qi Rong said, “Even I pretty much figured
out what happened. Looks like you really don’t understand the kind of person your
master is! Come, come, come, let me dissect my good ol’ cousin for you: this former
Crown Prince of Xianle went and became YongAn’s Guoshi, and taught you
swordsmanship for five years…”
He’d only spoken a few words, and Xie Lian reached for his sword, but before he could
charge forward, Lang Qianqiu’s longsword was blocked before him, “Let him finish!”
“You know he’s insane and yet you still listen to his mad conjecture!”
Fang Xin was swung, and even though it’s a slender blade, its shockwave almost made
Lang Qianqiu loosen his grip on his longsword. But just then, a silver curved blade
knocked Fang Xin, hooked it up and pulled it aside. Xie Lian was startled and cried,
Qi Rong saw how much Xie Lian didn’t want him to speak and how desperately he
didn’t want Lang Qianqiu to hear the story, so Qi Rong had to do the opposite, and
grabbed this chance, “Prince An Le was our good Xianle boy, very obedient! He heeded
my instructions to be false friends with you, but your master bumped into us cleaning
out the YongAn rat nest at the Gilded Banquet so An Le escaped. You got to the Gilded
Banquet, saw what happened, and the Guoshi Fang Xin became the most wanted man
in the kingdom. This was the previous story, not a word of lie…”
Xie Lian tried to charge forward to shut his mouth a few times, but each time Hua
Cheng stopped him. Xie Lian cried again, “San Lang!” However, Hua Cheng didn’t say a
single word and only continued to block Xie Lian.
The more Xie Lian wanted to charge over, the faster Qi Rong’s lips moved. “This saintly
cousin of mine, when he saw with his own eyes the people of Xianle committing murder,
he must’ve thought: How can this be? That’s not right! So he went to find Prince An Le
to educate him a little, but when he sought him out – my GOD what did he discover? An
Le’s major plot! It wasn’t only just assassinating some thugs! There’s no way cousin
could educate him, so he hardened his heart and killed the last blood of our royal house
with his own hands! – Afterwards you caught your master, and nailed him dead in that
coffin, and so ends my cousin’s magnificent life as Guoshi. Cousin, am I wrong?”
He spat a mouthful of blood next to the feet of the statue, “I know you too well. You love
doing shit like this. Ancestors above, look at what a good descendant you gave birth to!
Not only has the Xianle Xie clan lost everything, even the bloodline is cut! XIE LIAN!
YOU OMINOUS STAR, YOU GOD OF MISFORTUNE! YOUR EXISTENCE IS
XIANLE’S GREATEST TRAGEDY! WHY WON’T YOU DIE? HOW DO YOU EVEN
HAVE THE FACE TO KEEP LIVING???”
“But I saw with my own eyes he killed my father with his sword!” Lang Qianqiu said,
“How do you explain that?”
“If it’s not water getting into your fucking senior eyes and ruining your sight, then I can
only think of one reason.” Qi Rong replied, “Which is An Le for sure stabbed your old
man, but he didn’t die.”
“Did… did he drive the blow home?”
Qi Rong howled, “What are you saying! My good cousin is such a kind soul, how could
he drive any attacks home? When he arrived, he wouldn’t have attacked right away,
he’d have to do a little show of trying to save the poor guy first. But, heh, your old man
probably killed himself.”
“What do you mean he killed himself?” Lang Qianqiu demanded.
“What’s the first thing someone saved from the brink of murder will do?” Qi Rong asked,
“After seeing so many massacred at the Gilded Banquet, what’s your first reaction?”
Lang Qianqiu still hadn’t completely deduced it, “…Find the murderer.”
“WRONG!” Qi Rong cried, “After my good cousin saved your old man and he revived his
breath, he would’ve certainly said: ‘Quick! Guoshi! It was Prince An Le who’d done it!
Go and kill Prince An Le!’ No, no, no, not just that, he must’ve said something worse,
like: ‘Guoshi! Bring forth Qianqiu! Call upon everyone! I want the entire population of
Xianle wiped out! I want to bury them all with the dead!!!’”
His imitative tone of despair and fury was disturbing to listen to, and Lang Qianqiu was
growing paler by the minute. Qi Rong continued, “Even if he wasn’t killed on the spot,
your old hag had an entire nest of thug relatives that were all killed before him. He’d
have to open fire on the people of Xianle sooner or later. Your good master realized this,
considered his options, and decided, no, the old man couldn’t be saved, so PLORK and
the old man’s heart goes cold. That’s the kind of person my good cousin is, a saint who
can’t have sand in his eyes, always doing shit that harms others and hurts himself; he
wanted to please both sides but succeeded with neither, hehehehe,
Ch.53: Truth or Deception; Difficult to Discern 3
Xie Lian shouted, “Qi Rong, you shut your mouth!”
Lang Qianqiu turned his head angrily, “Why does he have to shut up? Because what he
said is the truth?? In that Gilded Banquet, you and An Le both struck; one killed my
entire family, and the other finished the blow to my father. You’re all lying to me?!”
Xie Lian responded hurriedly, “Don’t listen to–” Qi Rong cut in, “OF COURSE IT’S ALL
A LIE! You’re so stupid, if not you, then who else do we deceive? If not for some rando
spoiling our plans, Xianle would’ve already taken your fucking life at the age of twelve,
instead of giving you the luxury to grow up and ascend!”
“Twelve?” Lang Qianqiu repeated. The biggest thing that happened when he was twelve
was that kidnapping, saved by Xie Lian. He demanded, “That year, the muggers who
intruded the palace to kidnap me was sent by the people of Xianle?”
“Duh!” Qi Rong clicked his tongue, “Did you think any ordinary assassins can just
kidnap the Crown Prince from hundreds of royal guards? Please. I was the one who
helped An Le on that.”
Lang Qianqiu nodded, “Helped? Good. I understand. So my friends are all fake. The
people of Xianle never cared for our amity. Your Prince An Le never possessed good
intentions, and instead came for our lives.”
He turned to Xie Lian, “So, everything you told me was false too.”
Qi Rong pretended to look surprised, “Come, come, come, hurry and let me hear what
my saintly cousin told you!”
Lang Qianqiu ignored him and continued to address Xie Lian, “You said YongAn and
Xianle were but one nation at their roots; whatever conflicts the royals had with each
other had nothing to do with civilians. Both sides used to be one family, and under our
generation’s rule, there could be changes for the better. As long as the people were
happy, it didn’t matter what the royal house was named, and both sides could let go of
their grudge and unite in time. All that was false. All nonsense, bullshit, lies!”
This was what Xie Lian didn’t want to hear the most. He cried immediately, “No! It’s not
false! Think: under your rule, weren’t there real changes?”
Lang Qianqiu closed his mouth, his breath held. Xie Lian continued, “Didn’t you do
really well? Didn’t the remnant citizens of Xianle integrate peacefully with the people of
YongAn? There were less and less conflicts and riots, so how could any of it be false?”
There was a moment of silence, and tears rolled down Lang Qianqiu’s cheeks, “But…
but what about my parents? YongAn and Xianle uniting was their greatest wish, that’s
why they granted the princely title “An Le” to your last royal bloodline. Their wish came
true, but what of their end?”
Qi Rong clicked his tongue, “What a whiny crybaby, just like my saintly cousin once
upon a time! You came crying for your old man, old hag; I haven’t even fucking
harassed your ancestors for MY old man and old hag! Fucking uniting YongAn and
Xianle was their wish? What pretty words. An Le, An Le, settle first, joy after*; you think
I can’t tell it means you YongAn dogs want to walk all over the heads of Xianle for the
rest of our lives?”
Xie Lian yelled angrily, “QI RONG, STOP YOUR MADNESS!”
Lang Qianqiu on the other hand, glared at Qi Rong, tears still falling from his eyes,
“You’re the mastermind behind the massacre of my clan? And you’re part of the plot
behind the Gilded Banquet too?”
Qi Rong snickered, “Yes, I’m part of it. An Le was part of it too. And your master! Us
three people of Xianle all made part. Hahahahaha…”
Suddenly, halfway through his laugh, Lang Qianqiu’s longsword abruptly swung down
and struck. Qi Rong yelped, and his person was sliced into two!
It was an exceedingly gory scene, both halves of his bodies were rolling around the
ground, and his upper body cried, “IT’ DOESN’T HURT! IT DOESN’T HURT! IT
DOESN’T HURT ONE BIT! COMPARED TO THAT PUNCH FROM COUSIN CROWN
PRINCE, YOU’RE NOTHING! HAHAHAHHAHAHA!”
Lang Qianqiu didn’t say a word, grabbed him by the head and picked it up. Qi Rong was
still spouting insults, but Xie Lian had noticed something off with Lang Qianqiu’s
expression and said hurriedly, “Qi Rong, stop talking if you value your life!”
Xie Lian always treated others with kind respect, yet Qi Rong was someone that
couldn’t be faced normally; he knew this, so every time he faced him, Xie Lian didn’t
want to be polite at all, and unconsciously became rude himself.
Lang Qianqiu dragged Qi Rong’s upper body and came to the giant boiling, bubbling
cauldron. “Do you usually use this cauldron to cook humans?”
Having been dragged around, Qi Rong’s bloodied carcass drew a thick trail of blood on
the ground, “Yea, so?”
Without another word, Lang Qianqiu let go of his hold.
“AAAAAAHHHH HAHAHAHAHA —”
It was hard to discern whether if Qi Rong was screaming or laughing, and the moment
he was dropped into that cauldron, his flesh was instantly burnt and boiled to mush. Xie
Lian had not expected this development; his pupils shrank and he blurted, “QIANQIU!”
Lang Qianqiu responded sharply, “What? How many people has the Green Ghost Qi
Rong eaten? We can’t teach him what it feels like to be cooked? He’s the enemy that
murdered my clan, am I not allowed to make him suffer???”
Of course he could. So, Xie Lian couldn’t say anything, and he also had no right to say
anything. Yet, no matter as the Crown Prince of a mortal kingdom, or the martial god of
the east of heaven, Lang Qianqiu had never done a thing such as this. He had always
been straightforward in fights and never used any cruelty. These actions were far from
the Lang Qianqiu Xie Lian knew.
After being thrown into the boiling water, after a while when Qi Rong was fished up, his
body no longer retained the shape of human, and instead resembled a melted lump of
skin and flesh, bones poking out in some areas, terrifying to behold. Yet he seemed
quite pleased and was still guffawing, “Congratulations, cousin! Look at your good
disciple! His wings have hardened! He’s cruel and knows how to torture now!”
Lang Qianqiu released his hold again, and Qi Rong was once again submerged into the
bubbling cauldron. This time when he was dropped, it seemed even his bones were
dissolved by the boiling liquid. Qi Rong didn’t float up again, and only remnants of some
green cloths emerged on the surface. After a while, having still not seen his shadow, Xie
Lian couldn’t help but call out, “Qi Rong!”
His younger cousin, who once upon a time couldn’t shut up about his cousin the Crown
Prince, had idolized him and praised him for everything he did. However, after the fall of
Xianle, he had turned into a madman completely. He led the burning of his temples, the
desecration of his palaces, and commissioned the kneeling Crown Prince statues
everywhere, affixing them as thresholds. To make Xie Lian suffer, he could do anything.
Xie Lian had done his best to put up with that behaviour, and if it involved others, he’d
do his best to obstruct; until finally when he could no longer tolerate it, he could only
keep away and practice out of sight, out of mind.
Afterwards, they’d lost touch for many years, and Xie Lian thought Qi Rong had passed
away. Who knew that after so long he would suddenly meet a figure of the past and see
that face that so resembled his. He really couldn’t tell whether if there was any feelings
of nostalgia or remorse. After all, the only ones left from the royal house of Xianle were
them two. But they hadn’t even seen each other for that long before he died before him,
and he was even cruelly killed by a Lang Qianqiu who couldn’t even use wooden rods to
punish. So much happened in such a short period of time, Xie Lian hadn’t even sorted
the thoughts in his head, his heart a mess. Lang Qianqiu stood next to the cauldron with
his head lowered, unspeaking. Just then, Hua Cheng spoke up, “He didn’t die.”
Lang Qianqiu raised his head to look at him. Hua Cheng continued, “You don’t think this
is actually revenge? You only killed one of his many clones. If you want to exterminate
him completely, you need to find his ashes.”
“Thanks for reminding me,” Lan Qianqiu said coldly, “I will definitely capture him with my
own hands and use his ashes to pay respects to my esteemed father and mother. When
that happens, I will come and tie things up with you. Guoshi, don’t you dare think about
As he ended his words, he gripped his longsword and struck, slashing the cauldron, and
turned abruptly to walk away. Boiling water spilled from the cauldron, and liquid filled
with slithers of bones poured onto the ground. Xie Lian wanted to chase after him, but
he knew that it wouldn’t be of use.
He braked in his step and stopped, standing still, unable to speak. Hua Cheng
approached him, “He just found out the truth, so it’s better to let him be by himself and
Xie Lian was dumbfounded, “Why must he know the truth? Was the truth that
“Very important.” Hua Cheng replied, “He needed to know what was done by you and
what wasn’t, and why you had to do what you did.”
Xie Lian whipped around in a fit and said coldly, “What’s the use of knowing everything
so clearly? Would I be any more blameless if I killed less people? Would things be less
Hua Cheng didn’t respond. A burst of anger rolled up from Xie Lian’s chest, and he
didn’t even know who to be mad at. He blurted, “And what shitty hardship have I
experienced? His majesty the king father had always wanted to integrate the two clans,
did I not kill him? Prince An Le was the last to my family’s bloodline, did I not kill him?
No matter what it’s all my fault, so if all the blame goes to me what’s wrong with that?
What’s there to be afraid of? Whatever comes at me, I can’t die anyway! I did this. I
bring misfortune. And now I’ve brought it to Prince An Le, to Qi Rong, and to everyone
in Xianle. Is it not better to hate one instead of all? Must he think that everything I taught
him was false, and nothing more than empty bullshit???”
Hua Cheng watched him quietly and didn’t argue. The two stared at each other, and
suddenly Xie Lian covered his face with his hands, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, San Lang. I’ve
gone mad. I’m sorry.”
“It’s nothing. It’s my fault.” Hua Cheng said.
“No, you’re not at fault. This is my problem.” Xie Lian slumped to the ground, holding his
head, “What a mess. What a disastrous mess.”
After a moment, Hua Cheng sat down next to him, “You weren’t wrong.”
Xie Lian held his head and said nothing. Hua Cheng continued, “The YongAn king was
killed to protect the remaining people of Xianle. Prince An Le was killed to prevent the
two clans from fighting. In the end, to die in the hands of Lang Qianqiu, the murderer
faced justice. Three lives exchanged centuries of peace, it’s worth it. If it was me I
would’ve done the same. Listen to me.”
His voice was firm with no room for doubt. “You weren’t wrong. No one could’ve done it
better than you.”
Xie Lian was quiet. After some time he finally said, “I just don’t think it’s right.”
He slowly lifted his face, “I just don’t think it’s right for someone to have been kind but
received a bad end.”
“Even if it’s fake, I wanted Qianqiu to remember that his benevolence to Xianle would be
reciprocated. Doing the right thing will open endless paths. Not like now, where he
thinks everything I told him, everything he believed in, were all false, lies, deception.
That everything was goddamn bullshit! I just…”
He raised his right hand, and said while looking at it, “…I don’t want to see anyone go
through what I’ve gone through.”
Hua Cheng listened silently. Xie Lian felt self-conscious about the vulgar words he used
and apologized again, “I’m sorry. But look how incredibly silly things are in this world.
The first few generations of YongAn rule was filled with violence and cruelty, but none
died in tragedy. When it came to Lang Qianqiu’s parents, all they wanted was to do
some good, do something great, but ended the way they did.”
The king of YongAn honoured him as the Guoshi, and treated him with the utmost
respect. Even at the end of his life, he passed on without any signs of that trust
dispersing. Xie Lian’s eyes looked far ahead but unfocused and whispered, “I really
can’t forget… the look on his face when my sword penetrated him.”
Hua Cheng said softly, “Forget about it. That was Qi Rong and Prince An Le’s fault.”
Xie Lian shook his head, and buried it between his knees, his voice exhausted, “…And
everything was going just fine too.”
When Lang Qianqiu’s father first ascended the throne, his first rule was to break the
culture of oppressing the people of Xianle. The people of Xianle and the people of
YongAn finally experienced peace among each other for the first time; there was finally
winds of change, finally a sign of integration, finally hope for leaving conflict behind, and
Prince An Le had to pick that time to awash the Gilded Banquet with blood.
That night when he escaped and found Prince An Le, he was originally going to warn
him never to stir up troubles again. Yet, after the last descendant of his royal house
discovered his true identity, he excitedly grabbed hold of him, and asked him to join his
grand scheme of revenge and recovery of their kingdom. His eyes were red with
passion, his voice high with excitement; he first swore to spill blood at the Gilded
Banquet, then annihilate Lang Qianqiu, and cause havoc in YongAn. They would do this
even at the cost of destroying the growing amity amongst the two peoples; at the cost of
all the lives that remain from Xianle; at the cost of dragging all of YongAn, royalty and
common alike, to the depths of hell.
But in the end, what was killed was killed, what was murdered was murdered. However
just the reason, however compelling the reason, the truth was he killed with his own
hands an honourable king who had truly wanted to eradicate discrimination, and the last
blood descendant of his family in this world.
So, he deserved all the blame.
●An Le (安樂): [安] means ‘safe’, ‘peace’, ‘to settle’; [樂] means ‘happiness’, ‘joy’ –
Qi Rong was dissecting the words on their own and drawing his own meanings
Ch.54: In the Cannibal Lair; Ghost King Faces Heavenly Officials
Xie Lian turned his head to look at that dejected looking kneeling statue and said, “Qi
Rong was right about one thing. I am quite the failure.”
“Don’t believe in the words of a useless trash like him,” Hua Cheng said gently, “Other
than being good at not dying and running away, he’s got nothing else going for him. He
can’t even level up to a ‘Supreme’ after eight hundred years. Even beating him up would
only dirty hands.”
Xie Lian’s lips jerked upwards, thinking wasn’t he also the same? Only good at not
dying and running away, even after eight hundred years, he’d only gotten so far himself,
which was nowhere.
At first when he saw Lang Qianqiu as the martial god of the east, ranking as a high
heavenly official, but maintained his old character, still straightforward, still falling asleep
in boring meetings, he felt rather comforted. Yet, from now on, who knows how he would
change? He went in pursuit of Qi Rong; once that’s done, how would he end things with
Xie Lian stood up, and slowly walked to the statue. He stood in front of it head on; that
face was indeed exactly the same as his own, only it was carved in a sorrowful
expression, its face covered in tears, scrunched up and ugly. After staring at it for a
moment, Xie Lian sighed and placed his hand on its head, pouring in a powerful blow.
When he removed his hand, two long crevices crawled over the cheeks of the statue,
and soon after, the crying face broke apart. The statue collapsed and crumbled into
small rocks, falling to the ground, never to be restored.
When Xie Lian turned around again, his usual gentle and peaceful expression was back
on his face. He rubbed his forehead and said, “Qi Rong’s lair probably still has a lot of
humans hidden, let me go find them and let them go.”
Hua Cheng stood up too, “Let’s go.”
During the ruckus earlier, all the little green lantern ghosts in Qi Rong’s lair had run
away, and those who didn’t were hidden in the shadows, afraid to come out. The two
searched all over, nabbing a couple unfortunate little ghosts along the way and forced
them to lead, and they found many caves used for ‘storing fresh food’. Counting roughly,
the number of people Qi Rong captured for consumption was actually no less than three
hundred; they were either nearby villagers or travelers.
The two unlocked jail cells as they roamed, letting go of all the detainees. With tasks at
hand, Xie Lian was able to change focus and calm down. Now that they’re free, he also
had the time to chat with Hua Cheng, so he pondered at his words but asked anyway,
“By the way, San Lang, I wanted to ask you about something.”
“What is it?” Hua Cheng asked.
“How did you know that Qi Rong was the mastermind behind the Gilded Banquet plot?”
Xie Lian asked.
At first he didn’t know why Hua Cheng brought himself and Lang Qianqiu to the Green
Ghost’s lair, but now he did. Hua Cheng’s objective was to have Lang Qianqiu hear for
himself Qi Rong’s confession to the whole Gilded Banquet scheme.
“Qi Rong didn’t know that I was Fang Xin,” Xie Lian said, “If he had known, he’d
would’ve harassed me from the start. At the time, although I knew the old Xianle royals
were plotting something underhanded, I didn’t know it was Qi Rong behind it all either.
So how did you find out? How long have you known this?”
“Not too long,” Hua Cheng waved his hand and walked alongside him, “I’ve run into Qi
Rong a few times and learned the kind of person he is. Qi Rong was of Xianle when he
was alive, and regarded YongAn with deep hatred. He was good at the art of
provocation, fanning fires and fabricating situations. Many of the major assassination
plots of the YongAn nobles were all headed by him, but he hid really well.”
Xie Lian shook his head, “So he already had a history. Good thing he’s good at hiding,
otherwise if the heavens found out he had a hand in all those mortal conflicts, they
would not show him any mercy.”
“Spilling blood at the Gilded Banquet was very much his style,” Hua Cheng said, “So I
had always believed the mastermind was him, and the Guoshi Fang Xin was his lackey.
But, in the upper court, since Lang Qianqiu identified you as the Guoshi Fang Xin, then
there was no way Fang Xin and Qi Rong would be on the same boat.”
Xie Lian’s steps slowed. It seemed that even though Hua Cheng wasn’t present in the
heavens, he was still very informed of what went on in the Great Martial Hall. And not
just that, he was also very knowledgeable of Xie Lian’s personal relationship with Qi
Hua Cheng continued, “Nevertheless, I still leaned towards Qi Rong as the mastermind,
or at least the one who started the whole thing. The common remnant citizens of Xianle,
after Lang Qianqiu’s father had ascended the throne, had received much improvements
in their lives, and no longer thought of avenging their fallen kingdom. The only ones who
couldn’t let go would be the royal house of Xianle. At the time, the only remaining
descendant was Prince An Le. If Qi Rong wanted to solicit anyone into starting
anything, it must be him. Very conveniently, this individual randomly died of an unknown
illness right after the Gilded Banquet, was that not obviously suspect?”
Xie Lian nodded, and Hua Cheng concluded, “So he was more than likely killed, and the
reason for his death had something to do with the Gilded Banquet. My first deduction
was it was the work of YongAn nobility, but nothing happened to the remnant citizens of
Xianle, so it couldn’t have been them. I thought about it, and came to my present
Xie Lian smiled and was amazed, “With so little clues and yet you could deduce so
“It’s not hard,” Hua Cheng said, “You just have to know really well of the main people
“That’s for sure, but in your deduction, there was a significant preamble I don’t
“And that is?” Hua Cheng asked.
“Why do you believe so firmly that the one who made the first move must be Qi Rong?”
“It wasn’t that I believed he did it. I just believed that you didn’t.”
Hearing this, Xie Lian stopped smiling. He was quiet for a moment before asking, “Why
“If you had admitted to spilling blood at the Gilded Banquet using any other reason, then
I would’ve believed it was you.” Hua Cheng replied. “The YongAn king was sincere in
his rule, loved by the people, and yet Lang Qianqiu said the reason you told him was ‘I
couldn’t stand seeing you in that position’.”
“That was the model declaration of one overthrowing the crown. But if those words
came from you, then it’d be a poor attempt at tarnishing your own name.”
Hearing this, Xie Lian puffed a laugh soundlessly, “Tarnishing my own name? Did you
not think that I might not have harboured those thoughts deep down inside? Maybe I do
have some resentments hidden?”
“Thoughts are thoughts, you wouldn’t have acted upon them.” Hua Cheng said.
“You–” Xie Lian closed his eyes and shook his head, as if undecided whether to
comment. Hua Cheng urged, “What? Tell me. It won’t matter.”
Xie Lian chewed on his words, but finally said, “I just think, it’s best for people not to
have too much hope in another.”
“Oh?” Hua Cheng hummed, “And what do you mean by that?”
“Don’t think someone overly perfect.” Xie Lian replied, “If it’s just watching a shadow
from afar and never having to interact, then whatever. But once acquainted and you
grow close, one day you’ll end up finding that this person was not what you had
imagined, maybe even the complete opposite. When that happens, you’ll be very
Hua Cheng disagreed, “You never know. I don’t care if anyone else is disappointed. But
to some, the very existence of a certain person in this world is in itself, hope.”
Although he didn’t specify who “some” were, and who “a certain person” was, his tone
plain and casual like it was an offhand comment, Xie Lian’s heart lifted, he felt light,
He paused in his step and couldn’t speak. Some moments after he suddenly blurted,
“San Lang, who are you, really?”
Hua Cheng stopped too, and turned his head to look at him.
Xie Lian looked squarely in his eyes and asked thoughtfully, “You knew who Qi Rong
was, and knew the kind of person he is. You knew who I am, and knew how to paint the
God-Pleasing Crown Prince. You seem to know everything about me. You know a lot.
Maybe even more.”
Hua Cheng raised his eyes, “Don’t I always know a lot?”
Xie Lian shook his head, “It’s not the same.”
His left hand held his right elbow while his right hand propped his chin, he looked at Hua
Cheng in wonder, “I’ve always had the feeling that you are someone from my past, and
must’ve known me from very early on. Maybe it was during my first ascension, no,
maybe even earlier. Yet… I really don’t remember. When have I ever met a character
Someone like Hua Cheng would be unforgettable after the first meeting. Xie Lian had
never bashed his head in and lost his memories, so if they had met, there was no
reason to not remember.
Xie Lian stared at him, looking somewhat bemused, “Who are you exactly? Have I met
Hua Cheng didn’t answer, but his lips lifted softly. Xie Lian immediately came to, and
realized his questions were extremely inappropriate.
A ghost’s real name was usually a secret; unless it’s someone unfathomably abnormal
like Qi Rong, there was no reason to tell it to anyone.
Xie Lian hurriedly said, “I’m sorry, don’t mind me. I was just asking. You don’t have to
answer me. Whoever you are doesn’t matter.”
Just then, Hua Cheng’s eyes squinted. Xie Lian realized he must’ve noticed something
and turned his head back. Behind them from not far within a cave came noisy chatters,
and a clear, loud voice of a woman came, “I told you, my powers are stronger in the
female form, even my luck is better! Yet you still wouldn’t let me. Do you see now? We
rolled it right this time!!!”
It was Shi Qingxuan’s voice. Xie Lian blurted out, “Lord Wind Master!”
As he had guessed, a white clad lady cultivator came sprinting out of a cave, and her
eyes lit up when she saw Xie Lian, “I found him! His Highness is here!”
However, she then saw the Hua Cheng standing behind Xie Lian, and her face fell
immediately. She leapt backwards and flashed the Wind Master fan before her. Before
Xie Lian had the chance to say anything, another voice of a man echoed from within the
cave, “Did you find him? How’re things?”
The voice was coming closer, and soon the shadow of another appeared, and it was
Feng Xin. He had in his left hand a long, black bow, and the moment he saw Hua
Cheng he pulled back the silver bowstring, high on alert. Hua Cheng chuckled and
made no comment. Xie Lian hurriedly said, “Put away your weapons, we can talk this
The four ran into each other on the narrow path of the Green Ghost’s lair, two against
two. Feng Xin had the bowstring pulled fully, a string of spiritual light formed into the
shape of an arrow within his right hand, and he aimed it at Hua Cheng. He spoke first,
his voice full of warning, “Your Highness, come here.”
Feng Xin’s bow was gifted by Jun Wu, named FengShen* Bow, and it’s a rather
troublesome spiritual device. Xie Lian was afraid he’d shoot for real, and rushed to
stand in front of Hua Cheng, shielding him. But unexpectedly, Hua Cheng grabbed him
from behind, and pulled him right back.
That pull startled the other two. Shi Qingxuan immediately raised his hand, “Hua Cheng!
Crimson Rain Sought Flower! D-d-d-don’t do anything rash! The burning of your
Paradise Manor was an accident! If you’re displeased, we can talk! The heavens can
pay you back. His majesty isn’t that short on cash. Let go of His Highness, and let’s
●FengShen translates to the God of Wind
Ch.55: In the Cannibal Lair; Ghost King Faces Heavenly Officials 2
Xie Lian didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but was still immensely grateful, “Lord
Wind Master, you’re mistaken. It actually…”
He wanted to explain that Hua Cheng didn’t come looking for paybacks because of
Paradise Manor, but Shi Qingxuan was throwing him guileful looks, as if telling him to
not speak a word. Hua Cheng didn’t argue either, and raised his voice, “I haven’t even
counted the whole incident with Jun Wu setting up a spy under my eyes, so there’s
nothing to talk about.”
Xie Lian finally understood. Shi Qingxuan could already see that Hua Cheng had no bad
intentions, and all this was but an act using Hua Cheng’s kidnapping him as his seeking
revenge, so the heavens wouldn’t talk and say instead it was Xie Lian who had run
away. Hua Cheng had understood Shi Qingxuan’s intent too, and cooperated. However,
Xie Lian didn’t want to go this route, “Alright, stop acting. He only came to the heavens
to save me. San Lang had good intentions, so why hide it?”
“No more acting.” Shi Qingxuan replied, “I already sent those two exchanges to the
communication array. You don’t understand; no matter how good the intention, after
being passed around, words will always end up becoming negative, so they might as
well be negative from the start.”
“You get it.” Hua Cheng commented.
“Of course! Otherwise how could I, the Lord Wind Master, be so popular in the
heavens?” Shi Qingxuan preened, “General Nan Yang, lower your bow.”
However Feng Xin still had the bow pulled at almost full strength, holding his breath and
not saying a word. Shi Qingxuan smacked him, “Put it down, can’t you see they’re
close? Nothing bad’s gonna happen.”
Feng Xin said in a low voice, “Your Highness, the one next to you is a ‘Supreme’…”
Seeing that his tension wouldn’t drop, his bow unlowered, Shi Qingxuan suddenly
rammed herself into his arm.
Instantly, Feng Xin’s face paled, worse than if he were to see a ghost by a million fold,
and screamed, the string of spiritual arrow dissipating powerlessly like clouds. He
opened his mouth and a long string of loud curses came out, distressed to the core,
“WHAT THE FUCK!! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING!!!!”
Turns out, Shi Qingxuan had used her bosoms to ram into his arm, the one holding the
arrow. That blow had thoroughly terrified Feng Xin. Shi Qingxuan swung her whisk
back, elegantly carefree, looking as if she hadn’t just done anything inappropriate. “I
haven’t even asked you what YOU are doing. I just said that Crimson Rain Sought
Flower came to save His Highness, and you still point at him with your arrow. If you
want to fight him so badly, well I won’t help you.”
Feng Xin had already backed away for a million miles, looking like he would never
approach her again, and cried in dismay, “DON’T YOU DARE DO THAT EVER AGAIN!!!
EVER!!! DO YOU HEAR ME!!!”
Watching him avoid her like snakes, Shi Qingxuan, who was so confident about her
ethereal beauty, actually felt rather depressed, “Ok, ok, ok. I won’t do it again. It’s not
like you suffered any loss, what’s with that reaction?” As if feeling she’d lost face, Shi
Qingxuan changed back to a man and turned around, “Eh? Where’s Qianqiu?”
Hearing his words, Feng Xin finally composed himself somewhat, and looked around
too. Xie Lian “Ah”-ed and said, “He’s not in the communication array?”
“No?” Shi Qingxuan answered, “After he rolled the dice and left, we haven’t heard a
single peep. I asked him multiple times what the correct roll was but he never
responded. Before when I talk to Qianqiu he’d always respond really fast, and not just to
me but to all other officials regardless of ranking. So weird.”
Xie Lian huffed a sigh, “His Highness Tai Hua left to chase after Qi Rong.”
The other two were taken aback, “Qi Rong?”
“Yea.” Xie Lian replied, “This place here is Qi Rong’s lair. Sigh, in any case…”
Feng Xin cut in, “Wait. Why did His Highness Tai Hua go pursue Qi Rong? Didn’t he
come chasing after you?”
“No reason,” Hua Cheng answered from behind, “He was chasing the real mastermind
behind the Gilded Banquet bloodshed, and the only thing his royal highness did was
wipe after that murderer’s ass. Lang Qianqiu found out the truth, and went chasing after
the real culprit. That’s all.”
Feng Xin was shocked, “The real culprit? Is this the truth?!”
Xie Lian felt it really wasn’t the time and place to explain all the complex details and
shook his head, “It’s not that simple. I’ll explain more when we get back.”
Shi Qingxuan, although ignorant of the inside story, was joyous, “I knew there was a
misunderstanding in all of this! I’ve such godly premonitions! Now even if you return you
would no longer be detained!”
“Good!” Feng Xin said too, looking like he was greatly relieved. He put away his bow
and the tension he had also significantly decreased. Hua Cheng on the other hand, only
“Had you known?” Xie Lian asked Feng Xin, “That Qi Rong was that Qi Rong?”
Feng Xin asked, “Which Qi Rong? Who?” Then startled, “The one we knew?”
“So you didn’t realize it was him either?” Xie Lian remarked.
Feng Xin’s face went dark, “No. I’ve never run into the Green Ghost himself, and had
always assumed the name was just a coincidence. What kind of dumbass would run
around with his real name? That’s crazy!” But the moment the words left his mouth, he
instantly remembered that Qi Rong was indeed crazy, and his eyes met Xie Lian’s, both
falling silent in mutual understanding.
Long before the two had ascended, Feng Xin had despised Qi Rong. Qi Rong was the
son of the younger sister to Xie Lian’s mother, the last queen of Xianle. He grew up in
the royal palace, spent his days clinging to Xie Lian, and as Xie Lian’s personal guard,
Feng Xin of course saw Qi Rong frequently. He was young, immature, bullheaded,
energetic, extreme, and the worst thing was, as royalty, no one dared to educate or
discipline him. It was easy to imagine just how lawless he was.
He used to always hang around on his lips the words: “My cousin the Crown Prince is
perfect!” “My cousin something something”. If anyone were to be even remotely
disrespectful to Xie Lian, or had given him a sliver of a problem, it wouldn’t matter who it
was, Qi Rong would surely bag that person with a gunny sack and beat them to death.
He had never in his mind any care or respect for the old, the handicapped, or the young.
There was even once Xie Lian saved a child not over ten years of age from under Qi
Rong’s hands. The poor boy was beaten to a bloody pulp; miserable to the bone. Yet,
Xie Lian was mindful of Qi Rong’s lineage, plus he was genuinely on Xie Lian’s side, so
Xie Lian had never disciplined him physically. But if it was only lectures, Qi Rong
wouldn’t change no matter how many times he was scolded, and caused a lot of
Feng Xin was a much more straightforward person, not as patient like Xie Lian, and
constantly disputed with Qi Rong, disobeying his commands. And so, Qi Rong also
despised him, and would always come up with new ways to get him in trouble, forcing
him to run unreasonable errands. Moreover, after Xie Lian had ascended, Qi Rong
became even more preposterous, like if anyone were to spit before the Palace of the
Crown Prince, he would try and force burning hot coal down their throat. To prevent him
from going too far, Feng Xin had to descend frequently to clean up after him. Truly
aggravating! He’d always tell Xie Lian: “Qi Rong’s crazy, and he’s gonna incite chaos
“If it was really him, then it’s no surprise that he’d done it.” Feng Xin said.
Shi Qingxuan was curious, “What, do you all know the Green Ghost??”
Xie Lian nodded, “He’s my little cousin.”
Shi Qingxuan was shocked, and crossed his arms, “Well ain’t that something else.”
“He is quite something else.” Xie Lian agreed.
“I’m not talking about him,” Shi Qingxuan said, “I’m talking about you! Your Highness,
look at you: the Martial gods of the Southeast and Southwest are both your old buddies,
the Martial God of the East is your disciple, that Night-Touring Green Lantern is your
little cousin, the Crimson Rain Sought Flower is your sworn brother, and I, Lord Wind
Master, am your friend. Ain’t that something?”
Xie Lian smiled, thinking the Wind Master certainly had a breezy character befitting of
his title; the moment the wind blew, all the gloomy clouds dispersed. However, when
Hua Cheng and Feng Xin heard “the Crimson Rain Sought Flower is your sworn
brother”, both showed a disagreeing expression. Hua Cheng raised his brows, and
Feng Xin knitted his.
After a moment, Feng Xin turned to Xie Lian, “If there’s nothing else, you best hurry
back to the Heavenly Court. Many of the heavenly officials still have no idea what
happened in that ruckus, and are still waiting above. Jun Wu should be informed by
now. You need to report back and give them a proper account.”
Hearing his words, Hua Cheng laughed out loud.
“What’re you laughing at??” Feng Xin demanded.
“And here I wondered how straightforward you are, but turns out you like to beat around
the bush too.” Hua Cheng said, “You just don’t want His Highness to associate with the
likes of demons and ghosts, why not just say so openly? Think it’s not your place?”
Xie Lian cleared his throat softly, “San Lang…”
“As long as you’re aware that he shouldn’t be associating with the likes of demons and
ghosts.” Feng Xin said coldly.
Hua Cheng made no indication of agreeing or disagreeing with that sentiment, and Xie
Lian intercepted, responding to Feng Xin quietly, “I will report in and give a proper
account, but right now there are more important things at hand. Qi Rong had hidden in
his lair over three hundred humans for feeding. Thanks to San Lang’s help, they were
all saved. There’s currently a number of little ghosts left that needs taken care of. I will
return to the heavens as soon as that’s done.”
“It won’t be good to take too long. Let me deal with this.” Feng Xin said.
Hua Cheng nodded, “By heaven’s efficiency, you’ll probably finish this by next month.”
“You say that as if you can handle this in a second.” Feng Xin said.
The two glared at each other. Shi Qingxuan asked Xie Lian with his eyes: Did
something happen between the two of them? But Xie Lian only shook his head. He was
about to change the subject when Hua Cheng took out an umbrella from who knows
where. The umbrella was crimson red like maple leaves, vivid like fire. Hua Cheng
raised it with one hand and covered over himself and Xie Lian, reflecting a blushing red
on their faces.
This must be the same umbrella that Hua Cheng used to shield them through the
hanging corpse forest at Mount YuJun. However, it wasn’t raining at the moment so Xie
Lian was curious, “San Lang, why did you open an umbrella?
Hua Cheng looked to him, and shifted the umbrella more to Xie Lian’s side, smiling,
“Just wait. The sky’s about to change.”
Just as he finished his sentence, it suddenly poured from the sky!
The rain thundered down, flecking and flacking. It came so suddenly, Xie Lian was
startled. However, he was properly covered under Hua Cheng’s umbrella, and not a
single drop hit him. Feng Xin, who was standing on the other side though, had not
prepared at all. He was drenched from head to toe by this rain.
And the worst thing was, this rain was the colour of blood. By the looks of it, Feng Xin
was now covered in blood and dripping; only his wide, bulging eyes were white, the rest
of him red. Shi Qingxuan was conveniently standing in the interior of another cave so he
wasn’t affected, but he was also eyes wide with shock, even forgetting to wave his
That pouring rain came suddenly, left suddenly, and soon enough everything was quiet
once more. It took Feng Xin some time to recover. He wiped at his face, but it was still
smeared with red, his attempt useless.
“Wha…” Xie Lian was agape.
Hua Cheng closed the umbrella and laughed, “How’s that for show?”
In four short words, he’d already taken a number of leisurely steps, and quite the
distance away. Xie Lian was fumbling all over his sleeves looking for some rags, but
instead Shi Qingxuan plucked some white strands from his whisk and handed them to
the deeply muted Feng Xin. The moment Hua Cheng left, Xie Lian immediately sensed
the void behind him and turned around in a rush, running a few steps after Hua Cheng,
“San Lang, are you going back to the Ghost City?”
Hua Cheng turned his head, “Aren’t you also going back to the Heavenly Court?” He
then added half-jokingly, “But if you want to follow me back to the Ghost City, you’re
very welcome to.”
Xie Lian chuckled, “Next time.” He said sincerely, “Next time if there’s a chance, I’ll
definitely visit the Ghost City again. I’ll help you lay bricks when you rebuild Paradise
“No need to lay bricks. You can just sit back and watch.” Hua Cheng replied.
Xie Lian’s smile died a little, “The thing with Qianqiu, no matter how it went down, I
should still thank you.” He paused and continued, “I don’t know what the right thing is to
do either, so maybe this wasn’t a bad thing.”
“You think too much.” Hua Cheng said lightly.
Xie Lian was slightly taken aback and inclined his head.
“Just keep doing what you want to do.” Hua Cheng said. After that, he turned around
and waved his hand.
Soon after, that crimson silhouette gradually, from within the mountains and under the
moonlight, disappeared completely from Xie Lian’s sight.
Ch.56: In Search of the Past; Retracing Steps to Mount Taicang
Without knowing why, Xie Lian was suddenly filled with courage again.
After Lang Qianqiu had left, Xie Lian’s steps had been hesitant, his shoulders slumped.
But this courage came from nowhere, and who knows where it would be directed to,
only that it’d made him stand tall once more. He stood unmoving, and Shi Qingxuan
approached, giving him a small pat on the back, “What a guy. Your Highness, I don’t
know how you managed to befriend him, but you’re very lucky.”
This was the first time Xie Lian had heard someone tell him he was lucky. He glanced at
Shi Qing Quan and smiled, “Really? Maybe. I think so too.”
Behind them, Feng Xin continue to wipe his face. When the two turned their heads
around, they saw his face covered in white strands, miserable and unkempt, and
laughed. “Sorry about that.” Xie Lian said.
That counted as an apology on Hua Cheng’s behalf. Feng Xin finally picked off all the
white strands from his face, “I’m not as skilled, so I can’t say anything.”
The three of them then conducted a final search of all the caves, double checking to
make sure there were indeed no more humans or anything else left behind, before
riding a draft of wind back to the Heavenly Court.
Once they passed the gates, they saw the streets were filled with crowds of junior
officials from the Middle Court, moving about, checking every nook and cranny of every
palace as if they were about to face a grave enemy. When they finally arrived at the
Great Martial Hall, the audience chamber was already filled with heavenly officials of the
Upper Court, and even from afar they could hear them arguing. The first thing they
heard was: “Hua Cheng dare accuse the Upper Court Heavens of sending a spy, how
ludicrous! Why would the heavens need to send a spy?
Xie Lian and Shi Qingxuan lightly cleared their throats when they heard. Sending a spy
was most likely the truth. Nothing had been settled yet and the officials already couldn’t
wait to start blathering. If the deed was true, then wouldn’t it be a slap in their own
The three entered the hall with Shi Qingxuan in the lead. When the crowd saw him they
greeted, “The Lord Wind Master has returned!” “Thanks for your hard work!” but all eyes
were on Xie Lian. They were about to press for more but saw emerging from behind a
Feng Xin that looked like he crawled out of a bloody pond, his face dark. Everyone was
frozen to their spot and immediately turned their eyes away. After all, no one wanted to
be cussed at loudly in the great hall. Only Mu Qing, who not only didn’t care to avoid
him, he even purposely stared, his intent more than obvious.
Xie Lian raised his gaze and saw Jun Wu was seated above in his throne, a hand
supporting his head, fingers pressed against his temple, his eyes closed, looking
exhausted. Xie Lian could understand exactly how he felt.
In the past, there might not even be conferences and meetings of this sort for months,
but with all the incidents that had happened recently, the Great Martial Hall was filled to
the brim time and time again, as if there’s a situation everyday and everyone was
hoping they’d meet even twice a day. Besides, there were many that wanted to have
their voices heard, yet they’re nothing but noise. One of the officials exclaimed, “He
came and went as he will. Scary to think he was able to connect the Palace of Xianle to
somewhere else. Now that he can easily kidnap His Highness who offended him, who
knows if he’ll just kidnap any other heavenly officials. We can’t possibly let this go! We
need to stop him right now!”
If this was the mortal realm, this would be akin to a rebel digging a tunnel beneath the
royal palace and sneaking about freely. Of course people were restless. No wonder the
Middle Court officials were busy searching and safeguarding the grounds. Mu Qing on
the other hand, had something else in mind, “Hua Cheng has so many devotees and
lords over the Ghost City. Something miniscule like burning the Paradise Manor is
nothing to him. He might not have broken into the heavens just because His Highness
Shi Qingxuan immediately countered, “General Xuan Zhen, you’re mistaken. Everyone
heard Hua Cheng admit it himself. Speaking of, which general is responsible for security
this month? That the Palace of Xianle was casted a spell to be connected elsewhere
without even noticing, isn’t that a neglect of duty?”
Pei Ming had been standing quietly on the side, his arms crossed. When he heard Shi
Qingxuan he spoke up, “Me.”
Shi Qingxuan had accidentally remembered wrong and thought it was Mu Qing on duty,
but ended up calling out Pei Ming, and now things got somewhat awkward. However,
Pei Ming didn’t push off the blame, “I’m on duty this month. This is my oversight.”
Just then, Ling Wen who was positioned next to the throne suddenly spoke up, “We’ve
news of His Highness Tai Hua.”
Jun Wu finally opened his eyes, “What did he say?”
Ling Wen was quiet for a moment, then she replied, “He said the Gilded Banquet
Massacre had an inside story. He will solve the conflict with His Highness himself, that
there’s no need for anyone else to interfere. Also that His Highness’ request for
banishment must not go through. Those are the two things.”
“What inside story?” Mu Qing frowned.
“He didn’t say any more. That’s all.” Ling Wen replied.
To see a battle erupt, a hammer smashing down heavily, but landed lightly like feather,
the heavenly officials couldn’t help but feel rather disappointed. Lang Qianqiu was the
victim, and the victim was no longer accusing the culprit, so what fun was there to
watch? Besides, Lang Qianqiu wasn’t telling, and Xie Lian didn’t look like he was going
to say anything either, so there was nothing more to chew on in this matter.
Following Ling Wen’s report, Jun Wun appointed Feng Xin and Mu Qing to aid Pei Ming
in strengthening security and settled a few other matters before waving his hand and
dismissed everyone. Xie Lian stayed behind, and he could hear the faint conversations
passing by, “I knew it. Whenever he stirs up anything, Jun Wu would say he’d
interrogate him but in the end nothing would come of it…”
“We’ve been blind; he’s actually someone significant. Gotta watch what we say from
After everyone had left, Xie Lian approached the throne and bowed, “I’ve caused My
“This doesn’t count as any problems. The real problem was you stubbornly proclaiming
yourself the only responsible one of the Gilded Banquet Massacre.”
Xie Lian was hesitant, but in the end still gave an account of the whole story.
After listening to the story, Jun Wu commented, “Xian Le, in this matter, you really
worked hard for nothing, and pleased no one.”
Xie Lian lowered his head, “I know.”
“Nevermind. You’re always like this.” Jun Wu said. “Tai Hua has now changed focus to
pursue the Green Ghost. Once he’s done so he will certainly come back for you. Have
you thought out how you’ll face him?”
“Not yet. But let’s think about something else that’s more immediate.” Xie Lian replied.
Jun Wu chuckled, “Like what? Is there anything interesting that can amuse me?”
“Was it you who sent the Earth Master to the Ghost City as a spy?” Xie Lian asked.
“Yes.” Jun Wu answered leisurely.
Jun Wu answered slowly, “Because, it was Hua Cheng who planted a spy in the
Xie Lian was taken aback. Jun Wu stood, “These past years, news reached Hua
Cheng’s ears too fast. Some things he shouldn’t have known, he knew too well. As for
what can be done and what can’t be done, where the bottom line is and how to cross
said line, he is overly perceptive and precise. That he could connect directly to your
Palace of Xianle only proves he indeed has a spy here in the heavens, otherwise it
couldn’t have been done.”
To be honest, Xie Lian had noticed this too. Hua Cheng really knew way too much, and
so to have Jun Wu say it out loud, it wasn’t hard to believe.
“Does My Lord have any evidence?” Xie Lian inquired.
Jun Wu shook his head slowly, “It’s because there’s no proof but things were suspicious
that I sent Ming Yi to the ghost realm. Who knew that Ming Yi would fall into his hands
before the ghost agent was even found. Although you saved him from Hua Cheng’s
grip, now it will be even more difficult to find that spy.”
“Is it the Upper Court or the Middle Court that’s the problem?” Xie Lian asked.
“Hard to say.” Jun Wu said. “Besides you, it could be anyone. Perhaps, there’s only one
mole. Perhaps, more.”
No wonder Jun Wu didn’t appoint anyone else to investigate Ming Yi’s disappearance. If
it could be anyone besides him, Xie Lian couldn’t help but think: so even the Wind
Master, Qianqiu, Feng Xin, and everyone could be a possible agent?
Just then, Jun Wu spoke, “Xian Le, I know you think highly of Hua Cheng right now. You
understand your own position, and others shouldn’t comment on the friends you make.
However, when necessary, be wary of Hua Cheng. Don’t give anything away.”
Hearing this, Xie Lian schooled his thoughts. Jun Wu continued, “To become a
‘Supreme’, one must have experienced an unimaginable suffering and pain. One either
ascends from such calamities or are doomed to the depths of hell, never to return. The
two Supreme Ghost Kings that emerged from Mount Tong’lu, Black Water and Hua
Cheng, are both far more terrifying than you think.”
Xie Lian lowered his head, neither agreeing nor disagreeing. Jun Wu said, “I don’t know
what his objectives or directives are, but he knows the heavens. That in itself is
When he heard the word “disadvantageous”, Xie Lian raised his head and blurted, “San
Lang he…” Seeing that Jun Wu turned his head to him, Xie Lian paused then corrected
himself, “Hua Cheng shouldn’t do anything overly malicious. If My Lord thinks about it,
with his strength, should he want to cause havoc and raise hell he would’ve done so
already. If he didn’t before, then without real reason, he wouldn’t in the future.”
“I should hope so.” Jun Wu said, “But you know I cannot be too careful.”
After leaving the Great Martial Hall, Xie Lian paced slowly down the streets of the
When he passed by the Palace of Xianle, he stopped in his step, and looked it over.
This was the palace gifted him by Jun Wu; glamourous, new, but at the same time,
foreign. The large crimson red doors were shiny and bright, but it was already full of
nailed-on talisman and charms, forming a giant ‘X’, alarming anyone who should see it.
When Shi Qingxuan exited the Great Martial Hall, he had told Xie Lian that his palace
was currently sealed shut since it’s connected to elsewhere, so Xie Lian was welcome
to rest in his palace instead. However, after staring at this Palace of Xianle for a while,
Xie Lian suddenly turned around. He didn’t go to the Palace of the Wind Master either.
He stopped caring for what he was originally going to do and instead headed straight to
the Ascension Gates, and jumped.
Passing through the sea of clouds, the point of his landing was Mount Taicang.
Upon the summit of this Mount Taicang used to sit the cultivation centre of the ancient
Kingdom of Xianle – the Royal Holy Pavilion.
The Royal Holy Pavilion was an impressively expansive cultivation centre; its training
grounds and temples covered the entirety of Mount Taicang, worshipping innumerous
gods and immortals alike, scintillating and glorious. The main god worshipped was The
Martial Heavenly Emperor, and its golden temple on the highest peak of the mountain.
The Crowned Prince Temple that once stood on the second highest peak also used to
be magnificent and grand.
Eight hundred years ago, the flaming red maples that covered Mount Taicang was
infamous; and within the crimson maples were endless crowds of devotees. However,
when the Kingdom of Xianle fell, the crowds of devotees became crowds of angry
mobs, scaling the mountain to set ablaze the Crown Prince Temple but ended up setting
fire to the entire Mount Taicang, burning it down to nothing but blackened earth and
The burnt earth, akin to ground buried with the dead, seemed to become even more
fertile. Afterwards, new seeds were planted upon this burnt earth and new trees
emerged. A few hundred years later, the mountain was fresh and covered once more,
but the red leaves were no longer, and the scenery very different than eight hundred
When hiking the mountain in the past, there used to be a wide, paved green path. On
the path one could often see a pilgrim or a young trainee hauling firewood or water.
Now, this path was long gone. Rocks and debris, withered branches and sticks had
covered its tracks, burying it deep underground. As Xie Lian climbed, he used only the
strength of his legs, and when he ran into thorns or bushes, he’d take Fang Xin and cut
When he reached halfway up the mountain, Xie Lian felt fatigued and leaned against a
dead tree, ready to rest. Suddenly, the black shadow of an object came crashing down
from above the branches, making weird crackling sounds as it came rushing towards
Ch.57: In Search of the Past; Retracing Steps to Mount Taicang 2
Xie Lian shifted his body and evaded the object. At first he thought it was a broken
branch or a nest, but when he looked closer, it was a plank so rotten and rusty its
original shape was indiscernible, and it had two steel chains connected on either side. If
it was anyone else they might not be able to tell what it was, but Xie Lian knew
immediately that it was a swing.
In the past, Mount Taicang had swings installed everywhere, both for fun and for
training. Back when Xie Lian only just started to retain memory, there was once when
he accompanied his parents to visit the Royal Holy Pavilion to pray for blessings and
saw a group of young trainees sparring, flipping and flopping all over the swings. It was
an exciting performance; the king and queen enjoyed it, and Xie Lian clapped and
shouted his appreciation. The king and queen were so pleased they heavily rewarded
the young trainees, and ever since then the impression that cultivation was something
awesome and fun was left deep in Xie Lian’s heart. However, as for him formally
entering the sect for cultivation in his later years, the reason was no longer because it
After some rest, Xie Lian continued hiking. The higher he climbed, the thicker the
bushes became, and every so often a critter would flash by, leaving behind a shadow of
a bushy tail. There were also a number of squirrels huddling on the trees, munching on
pinecones, peeking at this uninvited guest.
Thorns blocked his path, ripping at his clothes and limbs, but Xie Lian didn’t notice at all.
Finally, he reached the peak of the Crown Prince Summit.
Of course, the Crown Prince Summit wasn’t originally called the Crown Prince Summit,
but changed to this name after the Crown Prince Temple was constructed. Amidst the
bushes and weeds, there were still remnants of pebble paved grounds here and there,
traces of a large, burnt foundation hidden. That was once the foundation of the temple.
Going across it, through the rubble and ruins, through glass debris, was a fractured old
Looking from above into its bottom, it was easy to tell the old well had long dried up; the
distance to the bottom but only a few feet, only mud visible on the ground. Without
hesitation, Xie Lian crossed his legs over, and jumped in.
He didn’t tumble onto the muddy ground, but instead traversed through that illusion, and
descended for a number of meters before his feet touched solid ground.
The surroundings were so dark if he were to raise his arms he wouldn’t see his hands.
He raised his head to look up, and there was no sunlight either, as if a heavy piece of
fabric had blocked it out. Xie Lian felt around the bottom of the well, feeling up several
bricks, and pressed them down in a certain order. With a rumbling noise, a short, small
door opened on the side. Xie Lian dropped down on all fours and slowly crawled
through the path opened by the small door. The moment he entered he could hear
another rumbling noise behind, shutting the opening. After half an incense time, he
finally crawled to the end of the tunnel. Xie Lian stood and straightened his back,
snapped his fingers and held up a small flicker of flames.
After that small ball of flames was ignited, as if in response, not far in the distance
another faint light appeared like a pearl, waking up from its deep slumber, blinking open
its bright eyes.
Soon after, more and more pearls lit up, spreading throughout and illuminating the
surroundings that appeared clearer and clearer to be the Great Hall of an underground
palace. Above the Great Hall. thousands of sparkling stars were embedded.
It must be hard to imagine that the Imperial Mausoleum of the ancient Kingdom of
Xianle was hidden beneath the scorched earth of Mount Taicang. Those brilliant stars
were night pearls* and diamonds implanted on the ceiling; the night pearls brighten with
light, and diamonds reflect radiance. When they cross paths, the result was a brilliance
bedazzling like a dream. It was like a miniscule milky way hidden below ground.
Each of the night pearls and diamonds were priceless; every single one was worth an
entire lifetime of endless riches. However, Xie Lian didn’t spare them any looks, and
walked directly through the Great Hall, entering the crypt at the very back.
In comparison to the Great Hall, this tomb was exceedingly simple, only because the
chamber wasn’t fully completed, so there was no glamourous decor, only two coffins.
Between the coffins stood a person, dressed in exquisite clothing, a golden mask on its
face, and a sword extended, sharp and dazzling, pointed at him.
However, this person only maintained that position and didn’t make any movement. Xie
Lian approached, minding his own business, without a single care for that person.
However, that was because Xie Lian knew, behind that golden mask there was no face,
and under those exquisite clothes there was no person. The only thing standing was an
empty stack held together by bundles of dried hay.
For so long, only this set of elegant dress and this mask stood by the sides of those two
solitary coffins in his stead. On top of each coffin was a small golden plate, but the
things in those plates were wildly disparate: fruits of some sort dried and shriveled to the
core, and blackened, rotten, hard blocks of who knows what. After Xie Lian entered the
chamber he cleaned out those things and threw them out by the corner of the crypt. He
felt around his sleeves and folds. Originally he had a half-eaten bun on him, but that bun
was given to Hua Cheng, so now he had nothing. Thus, he said, “Father, mother, I
deeply apologize. I’ve forgotten to bring something for this visit.”
Naturally, no one answered him. Thus, Xie Lian slowly sat down, and leaned against
one of the coffins.
After zoning out for some time, he finally spoke again, “Mother, I saw Qi Rong.”
“Qi Rong didn’t die, he turned into a ghost. I really don’t know how he lived these past
hundreds of years.”
Xie Lian shook his head, “He… killed a lot of people, and now there are people trying to
kill him. The heavens probably won’t forgive him either. Sigh, I really don’t know what to
do with him.”
He was going to say more when suddenly, from some place extremely close, came a
string of soft wailing.
Xie Lian froze, his face changed drastically.
He listened closely; it wasn’t his hallucination. It really was the sound of crying. The cry
was low, soft, and would’ve been easily missed if he didn’t pay close attention. The
sound was also high pitched; if it wasn’t a child then it must be a woman.
The cries were nearby, as if they were only separated by a thin wall, the sound clinging
close to him. Xie Lian whipped his head around, and at last confirmed – the sound
came from the coffin he was leaning on!
Amidst his shock, the first words that came blurting out were unconsciously joyous,
“Mother, is that you?!”
However, Xie Lian snapped out of it immediately, knowing that what he had desperately
hoped for would never come true. His mother had passed eight hundred years ago,
relieved of suffering, and had never devolved to a grudging ghost. The emotion behind
those cries was also not of despair, but terror.
In that very moment, who in the world would be hiding in his mother’s coffin and cry?!
Xie Lian couldn’t hold back for another second, and threw open the cover of the coffin
with his left hand, his right on Fang Xin, ready to strike. But, the moment he saw what
was inside, the striking sword stopped in its path.
Lying in the coffin, singularly, was the form of a person covered in elegant, black attire,
its face wrapped with a face cover.
The only possible person who it could be should’ve been his mother, but the one lying in
the casket, was most definitely not her. The form was small and short, its body type
completely different, and the most significant thing was, this person was trembling – it’s
a real, live person!
Xie Lian ripped off the face cover. Sure enough, beneath the fabric was the face of a
His heart froze that very moment. He grabbed the child and lifted him, his voice shocked
and panicked, “Where’s my mother? WHERE’S MY MOTHER?! WHAT DID YOU DO
TO MY MOTHER’S BODY???”
Although that elegant black dress didn’t look anything out of the ordinary, it was in fact
woven by the silk of an extremely rare worm. The silk was a tribute from a small foreign
nation, and weaving it to clothing took intricate craftsmanship. Interwoven with fragrant
herbal satchels and sealed into the coffin, the cadaver would remain preserved for
thousands of years, allowing the dead to look as if it’s still among the living. However, at
that moment, the one wearing that silk black dress was this child, so where did the body
of his mother go? What condition would it be now?
Xie Lian didn’t dare to think deeply on it, and could only demand answers from this
unknown child in his hold, “Where’s my mother? Who are you? Why are you here?
What did you do with my mother’s body??”
But how could a child scared to tears answer any of his questions? He was too scared
to even speak. Xie Lian dragged him out of the coffin, and realized suddenly that some
ashen white powder had been shaken out of the black dress from the movement.
Face white as a sheet, he looked into the coffin and found the bottom of the casket was
also covered with a thin layer of powder. The world spun and Xie Lian felt his heart stop.
His grip loosened, letting the child go, and he fell to his knees before the coffin,
He didn’t dare to touch that powder with his hands, but he couldn’t just let it sit and sift
either, like incense ashes flying in the wind. Although in denial, he knew deep within
what that was.
After having forcibly removed the silk funeral garb, what else could a sealed cadaver of
eight hundred years become?
Instantly, Xie Lian’s mind fell into chaos, unable to think; he held his head with his hands
and there was ringing in his ears. Just then, his back tensed, his instincts sensed
danger behind, and he whipped his head around, his hand fast like lightning, and
grabbed, bare-handedly, the blade of a sword. Someone behind his back had tried to
stab at him, and this person was that stack of bundled hay!
Turns out, someone had long since snuck in, dressed themselves in that exquisite attire,
put on the mask, and disguised themselves as a lifeless wooden stack, waiting for him
silently. A loud clanging sound rang in the air, and Xie Lian broke that blade into two
halves with his bare hands, face unchanging with the blood now pooling in his palms. In
a flash, he raised his leg and kicked that person in the abdomen, stepping them firmly
onto the ground. With their chest solidly stepped on, that person grabbed at his boot
and struggled yet unable to move an inch, as if they were nailed to the ground. Xie Lian
bent down at the waist, and slapped away the golden mask with one hand, revealing the
face of a young man. Xie Lian yelled, “Who are you?? Graverobber??? How did you get
Just then, the child on the side cried, “Daddy!”
This cry finally made Xie Lian remember. This man and child had looked familiar –
weren’t they the pair he saved that Qi Rong almost cooked and ate back at the Green
Xie Lian understood the situation instantaneously, and swung a punch like thunder at
the man’s jaw, roaring, “QI RONG, GET THE HELL OUT! I’M GOING TO KILL YOU!!!”
That man laughed as he spat blood, “Cousin Crown Prince! What a joyous occasion!
We meet again! Hahahahahaha!”
Although the face was different, but who else could this insane psychotic laughter
belong to if not Qi Rong? When he became formless, he possessed that young father!
No need for further explanation, but after his material body was thrown into that
cauldron by Lang Qianqiu and melted, to avoid pursuit, he must’ve used the chaos of
everyone running for their lives to possess the young man, and came to the Imperial
Tomb of Xianle. Otherwise, how could any commoner know of the secret catacomb of
Xianle royalty? And how could they have come in such a short period of time?
The child he brought along may have been for food, or maybe it was for hiding him in
the coffin to divert Xie Lian’s attention so as to ambush him from behind. Qi Rong held
his face, looking wronged by Xie Lian’s punch, and shouted, “Cousin why are you so
mad? It’s not like you’d die from a stab wound, hehehehehehe!”
‘Thud, thud’, and Xie Lian punched him again twice, his eyes red around the rim, “How
had my mother treated you?? And you treat her like this?! How could you, to her body
Qi Rong humphed, “Auntie is long dead. The person is no more, so what difference do
corpses or ashes make? The corpse only changed form, isn’t it still there? Here you are,
tears and snot, weren’t you much tougher when you killed An Le? Can’t believe my
good cousin actually has two faces, hehe!” He then changed face and spat, “How could
I treat her like this? You’re the one to blame! Don’t you even know how to reflect on
yourself? This is all your fault! You God of Misfortune have the galls to come cry at the
Imperial Tomb of Xianle?!”
Xie Lian stomped down again hard and Qi Ron screamed, spewing blood from his
mouth, but he looked even more excited, using both his hands to hold on firmly to the
now blood soaked white boot while howling, “THAT’S RIGHT! THAT’S RIGHT! JUST
LIKE THIS! THIS IS MORE LIKE YOU! FIGHT, FIGHT, KILL, FIGHT RUTHLESSLY!
KILL CRUELLY! Don’t give me that saintly look as if you are so burdened with
unspeakable sin! Disgusting! UGH!”
That child came crawling over, bawling, “Wah! Dad! Dad are you alright!” He couldn’t
understand what was happening, only that his father was being trampled. From his point
of view, Xie Lian was like a violent demon, but scared of losing his only father, he
wouldn’t back down, and tried desperately to pull off the boot on his father’s chest. That
young man wouldn’t stop spewing blood, scaring the child half to death, and he used his
hands to cover his father’s mouth, as if that could stop the bleeding. Seeing this, Xie
Lian slowly calmed down, realizing that the owner of this body was innocent, and eased
his foot slightly. He pointed the tip of Fang Xin down, nudging it to Qi Rong’s cheek and
said forebodingly, “Qi Rong, you, get the hell out yourself. Don’t believe I won’t pull out
your spirit with your tongue!”
Technically, to pull out the tongue of another from the root, one could certainly pull out
the attached haunting ghost along with it. Qi Rong cried derisively, “I won’t! I won’t get
the hell out! What are you gonna do? Go on, pull! Come, come come, gonna kill me? I
might just die, so don’t miss this chance, otherwise you won’t ever find my ashes in this
He even stuck out his tongue intentionally, as if he couldn’t wait for Xie Lian to do good
by his threat, and use that bloody method to pull his spirit out from this fleshy body. He
blew many raspberries, “It’s not like the person I’m possessing is anyone important, so
why don’t you? No one would know, no one would care, Your Highness’ holy radiance
won’t be damaged. Look! I crumbled your mother to ashes, aren’t you gonna kill me?
That child couldn’t move Xie Lian’s boot, so he hugged his leg and cried louder, “Don’t
kill my dad! Don’t kill my daddy!”
Xie Lian’s breathing was becoming more laboured, his head dizzy, his body shaking, his
hands itching to crush Qi Rong’s skull, but he couldn’t do it. Qi Rong spread his hands,
“Hahahaha cousin Crown Prince, what a failure, what an absolute failure!”
Xie Lian picked him off the ground, raised his fists and rained punch after punch on Qi
Rong’s face, yelling with each punch, “SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!”
Yet, the more enraged he got, the happier Qi Rong became. To be able to drag the both
of them to the same hell, Qi Rong was filled with rapture, his eyes shone brightly, “See!
There’s your true face! Cousin Crown Prince, who knows you better than me in this
world? You might look like a pathetic, drowned dog that anyone can trample now, but I
know. You’re still proud on the inside; you couldn’t stand anyone calling you a failure!
You must hate me for calling you a failure! Have I stabbed your heart enough to bleed?
Hurry! Come! Or are you gonna tell me loudly that this body is innocent, so you won’t kill
me in order to spare him? Come! Show me what you’ll do!”
With so much provocation blended in that cocky, crazed laughter, Xie Lian couldn’t
stand it anymore.
‘Schwing’ and Fang Xin was unsheathed.
With a flash of a swing, the ominous black blade struck down!
●Night Pearls are made of fluorite crystals
Book 1 End