Wei WuXian’s first thought was that something went wrong with the flag formation that the boys set up.
His inventions needed to be used extremely carefully, or else disasters could happen. This was also why he went to check if there was anything wrong with the motifs that were drawn.
As a few pairs of big hands came to drag him outside, Wei WuXian straightened his body and allowed them to do so without difficulty, so that he wouldn’t have to walk by himself. The East Hall was bustling with people, almost more crowded than when the villagers of Mo Village gathered here. All of the servants and relatives were present. Some were still in their undergarments and didn’t yet have the time to brush their hair, but everyone looked terrified. Madam Mo was collapsed in her seat, as if she just woke up from a swoon. The streaks of tears could be seen on her cheeks, and tears still lingered in her eyes. But, as Wei WuXian was dragged inside, her sorrowful gaze immediately became hateful.
A human-shaped object lay on the ground, with its body covered by a white cloth and only the head being revealed. Lan SiZhui and the other boys wore heavy expressions, bending down to check the situation and talking in soft voices. The conversation leaked into Wei WuXian’s ears.
“… Less than three minutes have passed since the body was discovered?”
“After subduing the walking corpse, we hurried from the West Courtyard to the East Courtyard, and found the corpse by the hallway.”
The human-shaped thing was, apparently, Mo ZiYuan. Wei WuXian took one glance at it, and couldn’t help but to look again.
The corpse looked like Mo ZiYuan in some ways, but unlike him in other ways. Although the features were clearly that of his petty cousin’s, the cheekbones were deeply sunken, eyes bulging, and skin wrinkled. Compared to the youthful Mo ZiYuan before this, it was as if he aged twenty years. It also seemed like his blood and flesh were sucked out of him, turning him into a skeleton with only a thin layer of skin on the outside. If, before this, Mo ZiYuan was just ugly, now, his corpse was both old and ugly.
As Wei WuXian was scrutinizing the corpse, Madam Mo suddenly rushed towards him, with a gleaming dagger in her hand. Being light on his feet, Lan SiZhui quickly knocked the dagger off. Before he had a chance to talk, Madam Mo shrieked at him, “My son died a tragic death, so I am only avenging him! What are you stopping me for?”
Wei WuXian hid behind Lan SiZhui’s back again, and spoke while squatting, “How does your son’s tragic death concern me?”
During the day, Lan SiZhui saw Wei WuXian make a scene in the East Hall, and, afterwards, he also heard a lot of exaggerated rumours from other people. He felt extremely sympathetic to the invalid, and couldn’t help but to take his side, “Madam Mo, seeing from your son’s condition, his flesh and essence have been drawn out of him, which means that he was killed by evil beings, not him.”
Madam Mo’s chest heaved, “You know nothing! The lunatic’s father was a cultivator. He must have learned a lot of demonic spells from him!”
Lan SiZhui turned around to look at the seemingly dull-witted Wei WuXian, and spoke again, “Uhm, Madam, there is a lack of evidence, so…”
“The evidence is on my son!” Madam Mo pointed at the corpse on the ground, “Look for yourselves! A-Yuan’s remains already told me who murdered him!”
Not needing other people to do it, Wei WuXian lifted the white cloth by himself, from the head down to the feet. There was something missing on Mo ZiYuan’s dead body.
His left arm, severed from below his shoulder, had disappeared!
Madam Mo spoke, “Do you see this? Everyone who were here heard what the lunatic said, right? He said that, if A-Yuan touched his belongings again, he would cut off his hand!”
After the burst of emotion, she covered her face and sobbed, “… My poor A-Yuan… Although he didn’t do anything to him at all, he was not only framed, but also killed as well… The lunatic is out of his mind…”
Out of his mind!
It had been a few years since he last heard the phrase being used to describe him, so it was quite cordial. Wei WuXian pointed at himself, but no words came to him. He didn’t know if he was the ill one or if it was Madam Mo.
When he was younger, he talked quite a lot about exterminating entire families and clans, killing millions of people, creating rivers of blood, and other cruel actions. But, most of the time, they were empty words. If he could actually do the things that he said, he would have long been dominating the cultivation world. Madam Mo’s true intention wasn’t to avenge for him, but to find someone to let out her resentment on.
Wu WuXian didn’t want to be bothered with her. He thought for a moment, and stuck his hand into Mo ZiYuan’s arms. He fished around for a moment and pulled something out, unfolding it in front of him. Surprisingly, it was a Phantom Attraction Flag.
Instantly, he realized what was going on, and uttered under his breath, he had it coming!
When Lan SiZhui and the others saw what was taken out of Mo ZiYuan’s arms, they also understood the situation. Associating this with the farce that happened today, the cause was easy to guess. During the day, Mo ZiYuan lost face because of Mo XuanYu’s crazy behavior and loathed him, still wanting to square up with him. However, Mo XuanYu wandered outside for a long while, so Mo ZiYuan planned to sneak up on him at night, when he would be returning.
When night had fallen, he secretly went outside, and was passing the West Courtyard when he saw the Phantom Attraction Flags on the walls. Although he was repeatedly told not to go outside or near the West Courtyard at night, and especially to stay away from these black flags, Mo ZiYuan thought that he was told to do so because they were scared of people stealing the valuable weapons.
He had no idea about the dangerous effects of these Phantom Attraction Flags, or that if he held it, he would be turned into a living target. He got addicted to stealing his cousin’s talismans and magic tools, and he would always itch to take odd items like this, not giving up until he obtained it. Therefore, when the owners of the flags were subduing walking corpses in the West Courtyard, he quietly took one.
The flag formation utilized six flags, of which five were set in the West Courtyard, with the boys from the Lan family as baits. However, they were all carrying countless magic tools on them, and, although Mo ZiYuan only took a single flag, he didn’t have any tools for protection on him. It was common sense to pick on the weak, so the evil beings would naturally be attracted to him. If there were only walking corpses, then it wouldn’t matter too much. Even if he was bitten, he wouldn’t die immediately and could still be saved. Unfortunately, the Phantom Attraction Flag accidentally attracted something worse than a walking corpse. The unknown being was what killed Mo ZiYuan and took his arm!
Wei WuXian raised his wrist. Sure enough, one of the cuts on his right hand had healed. It looked like that he had scored a lucky hit—the sacrificial contract had already deemed the death of Mo ZiYuan as his doing.
Madam Mo was well aware of her son’s foibles, but she wasn’t willing to admit that Mo ZiYuan caused his own death. Due to impatience and rage, she grabbed a teacup and threw it in the direction of Wei WuXian’s head, “If you didn’t frame him in front of so many people yesterday, would he go out in the middle of the night? It’s all your fault, you son of a bitch!”
Wei WuXian saw it coming, and dodged to the side. Madam Mo turned to Lan SiZhui and screeched, “And you! You bunch of useless fools! You cultivate and ward off evil spirits, but you can’t even protect him! A-Yuan is still a child*!”
*The actual word used here meant “from ten-years-old to nineteen-years-old”, but, although they say “in one’s twenties”, people don’t say “in one’s tens”, so the word was replaced by “a child” instead.
The boys were still young. They hadn’t been outside much and were too inexperienced to find anything wrong with the area, which was why they felt sorry for not detecting an evil being as fierce as this one. Nonetheless, after Madam Mo’s senseless scolding, they all looked blue in the face. After all, they grew up in a prominent family, so nobody dared to treat them like this. The GusuLan Clan was extremely strict to its disciples, forbidding violence against the powerless every man, not even allowing disrespect. Therefore, even if they felt displeased, they had to keep everything down with dark expressions.
However, Wei WuXian couldn’t stand it any longer, and thought, it has been so many years, but the Lan Clan’s values are still the same. What’s the use their so-called “self-restraint”? Watch me do this the right way!
He spat loudly and spoke, “Who do you think you’re taking out your anger on? Did you really see them as your servants? They traveled far and wide to come here and exorcise evil spirits for you without taking a penny. Do they owe you anything? How old is your son? He should be at least seventeen, and so, how is he still a ‘child’? How young of a child does he have to be to not understand basic human language? Did they or did they not repeatedly instruct him to not touch anything in the formation and not approach the West Courtyard? Your son sneaked outside at night on his own. Is it my fault? Or is it his?”
Lan JingYi and the others let out a breath of air, faces not so dark anymore. Madam Mo was both extremely mournful and resentful, and all she could think about was the word “death.” Not her own death so that she could be with her son, but the deaths of everyone in the world, especially the ones in front of her right now.
She had a habit of ordering her husband to do everything, and so she knocked him, “Call everyone! Call everyone inside!”
Even so, her husband was in a trance. Possibly because of the trauma from his only child passing away, he went as far as to backhandedly push her. It caught Madam Mo by surprise, and she fell onto the ground.
In the past, Madam Mo didn’t even need to push him. If she just raised her voice, he would comply immediately. How could he dare to strike back today?
The servants were all scared out of their wits from her expression. A-Ding helped her up while quivering. Madam Mo clutched her chest and spoke in a trembling voice, “You… You… You, get out of here as well!”
Her husband seemed like he didn’t hear anything. A-Ding gave a few looks to A-Tong, and A-Tong hurriedly helped his master to walk outside. The East Hall was in chaos. As Wei WuXian saw that the family had finally silenced, he intended to examine the corpse again. However, before he took another look at it, another high-pitched scream pierced through the air. It was from the courtyard.
The people in the hall all rushed outside. On the ground of the East Courtyard, there were two twitching bodies. The first was that of A-Tong’s, still alive, collapsed on the ground. The other fallen body was wrinkled and withered, as if the blood and the flesh had been emptied dry. The left arm was already gone, but no blood came out of the wound. The condition of the corpse was the same as Mo ZiYuan’s.
Madam Mo brushed off A-Ding’s supporting hand a second ago, but as she saw the corpse on the ground, her eyes widened, and she was finally out of energy to throw another fit. As she fainted, Wei WuXian happened to be next to her, and gave her a hand, passing her to A-Ding, who came running. He looked at his right hand to see that another one of the cuts was also gone.
It was merely a few seconds before they walked over the threshold of the hall, not even past the East Courtyard yet, and saw Madam Mo’s husband die distressingly. Lan SiZhui, Lan JingYi, and the others also grew pale in the face. Lan SiZhui was the first to calm down and asked A-Tong, who lay on the ground, “Did you see what it was?”
A-Tong was almost scared to death, unable to open his mouth. Even after a few moments of asking, A-Tong still couldn’t answer, and only shook his head repeatedly. Lan SiZhui was burning with anxiety. He asked another disciple to take him back inside, and turned to Lan JingYi, “Did you send the signal?”
Lan JingYi answered, “I did, but if there are no seniors who can assist us in the area, it would take at least an hour for our people to come here. What should we do now? We don’t even know what it was.”
Of course, it would be impossible for them to leave. If the disciples of a clan only cared about their own well-being when facing evil spirits, it would not only be bringing disgrace upon the clan, they themselves would also be ashamed to face others. The frightened people of the Mo family couldn’t go either, because it was likely that the evil being was among them, so nothing would be gained from going away. Lan SiZhui gritted his teeth, “Wait here, for the reinforcements!”
Now that the signal for help had been sent, other cultivators would come to aid them within a short period of time. To prevent things from getting out of hand, Wei WuXian should withdraw and keep away from the situation. If the persons who came happened to know him or fought with him before, it would be hard to say what was going to happen next.
However, with the curse, he couldn’t leave Mo Village anytime soon. In addition, the being that was attracted here had taken the lives of two people within such a short amount of time, which meant that it must have been extremely vicious. If Wei WuXian left now, when the helpers came, the streets of Mo Village might be packed with corpses who lost their left arms, including a few disciples of blood relations to the GusuLan Clan as well.
After pondering for a moment, Wei WuXian told himself, finish it quickly.