Estranged - Chapter 21
Chapter 21. What do you think is my relationship with him?
Legend has it that the Golden Glass Beads Staff belonged to the first Master of the Qingyun School. It was forged from spiritual stones of the Three Mountains and sealed with the soul of a great demon. As time passed, the soul merged with the golden pearls, increasing the power of this treasure.
The Three Mountains: Mt Penglai, Mt Fangzhang, Mt Yingzhou—the three sacred mountains where immortals lived.
But a powerful spiritual weapon alone is not enough, since it is controlled by a person.
If that person is not virtuous enough, he is certain to meet a disaster.
As Zhang Mu saw it, this Buddhist cane couldn’t show its best in Bei Shu’s hands, and all the more Changming lacked qualifications to hold it.
He pierced it with his spear, and the golden beads shattered into pieces with a crisp and sweet sound. Its fragments scattered everywhere, slightly fluorescing.
But this seemingly flickering light was getting more and more vigorous, and the golden beads turned from one into two, from two into four.
The tip of the spear was engulfed in blazing flames, and when it touched the golden beads, they quickly ignited. These bothersome Golden Glass Beads created by Changming were quickly submerged in a sea of flames, and could no longer be seen.
Such insignificant skills, yet he dared enter the Nine Layers of the Abyss; could it be that he has no idea how to write the ‘death’ character?
To have no idea how to write the ‘death’ character: tired of life.
Zhang Mu pressed the tip of his spear forward, using only half of his spiritual power, and quickly forced the Golden Glass Beads into a corner, giving Changming no chance to retreat or strike back.
Only to die obediently.
Xu Jingxian started scolding him at the moment he left her and went to Zhang Mu alone.
Scolding him for deceiving her, for bringing her to the Nine Layers of the Abyss.
Scolding him for being unreliable, for stirring up troubles all the time.
Scolding him for being unmanly, for ditching her at the most crucial moments.
She was cursing and killing them left and right.
Treating all the guards who attacked her as if they were Changming.
At the banquet tonight, Zhang Mu who was standing by Bei Shu’s side was inconspicuous, but many people saw him fighting and knew that he was at least a high-level cultivator, which was more than enough to kill Changming. Xu Jingxian also thought that Changming was almost gone, and she had exactly “lost both the beauty and her possessions”. It was hard to say whether she could even retreat from the Seven Star Platform that night.
The feeling of regret turned into grief and murderous spirit, and the people around her could only see the purple thin silk swirling around freely and a lithe and graceful figure of a young woman dancing the most touching dance in the world.
Only the guards of the Seven Star Platform could feel that Xu Jingxian’s seemingly flexible thin silk became a sharp murderous blade when it fell on them. With one strike, it cut through their flesh, and they started bleeding unceasingly.
Xu Jingxian was still venting her anger by treating these people as Changming when she saw a sudden burst of radiance at Zhang Mu’s side, bright like the sun, making everyone close their eyes. Her heart skipped a beat, and she thought with regret that this Changming fellow must not even have any bones left.
Unexpectedly, at this moment she heard Zhang Mu’s roar. His body seemed to be pushed out violently by some force from amidst the flames, and he flew aside and landed on another high platform.
“What is that!”
Someone screamed suddenly.
The ones watching the fight looked up and saw Zhang Mu’s body in the air making a cracking sound all of a sudden, and his whole skin began to crumble.
When people saw this, they had some ineffable associations, as if what they saw was a roast suckling pig making crackling sounds on the fire because of the boiling oil.
But Zhang Mu wasn’t a roast suckling pig.
And a normal person couldn’t have their skin cracked.
His skin and flesh cracked and fell, and a red skin beneath it was revealed. Zhang Mu let out a muffled shout, falling onto the stone platform.
He no longer resembled Zhang Mu. His appearance changed drastically when he shedded his skin.
His skin was bright red and wrinkled, there were horns on his forehead, and his eyes were blood red.
Obviously, that couldn’t be a human, only an evil spirit!
“All of you should believe that I am not deceiving you now, right? This demon turned into a man and killed Bei Shu, but why? Is it to become the Master of the Seven Star Platform, or to obtain its spiritual treasure?”
The golden light was fading, and Changming appeared.
The Golden Glass Beads Staff in his hand was intact, and his expression was as indifferent and calm as always.
He had no injuries, no arm missing and no leg broken, even his clothes were clean and tidy. Only his hair was a bit messy, and a few strands were out of place.
“Today he killed a great master like Bei Shu, tomorrow he will be able to kill anyone. Until the evil spirit is eliminated, people will not have a day of peace.”
Changming didn’t need to say anything more. He avoided Zhang Mu’s blow and jumped to the roof, landing next to Xu Jingxian.
With one sweep of the Golden Glass Beads Staff, the people around Xu Jingxian were pushed away, and they jumped back to a higher platform.
Xu Jingxian was surprised.
“It looks like your skills have improved!”
She was a bit disappointed.
“Could it be that you were concealing your true strength before, watching me fight as a joke?”
Changming: “How can the lady think so? I’m sincere with you. When I fought against Zhang Mu just now, I managed to break through with the help of the Golden Glass Beads Staff.”
To be precise, it was his level in the Zhiyu Nianyue Scripture that broke through to the fifth stage.
Although this technique could help a person advance by leaps in a short period of time, it couldn’t break through a number of levels in just a few days. The reason for his fast progress was the assistance of the Golden Glass Beads Staff that saved his life in a dangerous situation, like dense willow trees and bright flowers.
Dense willow trees and bright flowers: light at the end of the tunnel.
Xu Jingxian was puzzled: “Aren’t you a rogue cultivator? The Golden Glass Beads Staff is a Buddhist tool, how can you control it?”
Changming was unwilling to answer: “Grasp this one thing, and you’ll grasp everything, different paths lead to the same destination. Let’s run first!”
Very soon, Xu Jingxian understood what this ‘run first’ meant.
After Zhang Mu’s demonic nature was revealed, there was no need for Changming to risk his life battling him, and Zhang Mu had no chance to chase Changming.
Most of the present cultivators were engaged in the battle, encircling him.
On the Seven Star Platform, all kinds of spiritual weapons were drawn, and they were shining brilliantly.
Zhang Mu had no chance to survive under the might of all these sabres, spears, swords and halberds, fabrics, disc-shaped weapons, knives and bells.
Everyone had their own thoughts and schemes, but at that moment, a common goal united them.
Those who are not of our kin are sure to have a different mind. These words were not an empty sound.
Fifty years ago, the Liuhe Zhutian Formation failed, and demons filled this world. Not even the cultivators could escape from massacres in the villages and cities. Later, cultivators from all factions joined forces to fight against them; the Nine Layers of the Abyss was created. The catastrophe became the past, and the memories about it gradually blurred. There were even a few demons who mingled in the world, giving birth to offsprings. However, when faced with the powerful ugly demons that showed their true colors, everyone would still go up against them without a second thought.
But, unexpectedly, surrounded by all these people, Zhang Mu wasn’t defeated, and even grew stronger throughout the fight.
With his human skin removed, he seemed to have also gotten rid of the restrictions on him. His strength rose suddenly and sharply, and he was still fighting violently under the pressure of many spiritual weapons.
A sword slashed down, but it stopped half an inch above Zhang Mu’s head. No matter how hard the cultivator holding the sword struggled to finish his strike, he couldn’t do it.
Xu Jingxian dragged Changming to the side as soon as they got away. They were hiding in the corner watching the battle, and had no intention to step forward and intervene.
Only then did she relax a little bit.
“Do you think that so many cultivators won’t be able to subdue him?”
After waiting for a while for Changming’s answer, Xu Jingxian turned her head, and saw that he was leaning on the pillar with his eyes half-closed, as if he was about to fall.
“Didn’t you say you’ve just broken to the next level, why are you even worse now!”
“Did you see Yun Hai?” Changming asked in reply.
His breath was a bit weak, and his mind was exhausted right now. The breakthrough to the next realm itself did not bring him much benefit, but had rather overdrawn his physical strength.
Xu Jingxian was baffled: “No, I haven’t. Wasn’t he with you?”
When Changming heard these words, he understood that Yun Hai was gone for good.
Just as there were no signs when he came, so it was when he went away.
“Who on earth is he? What’s your relationship with him?”
Xu Jingxian started interrogating him. She was sure Changming knew more than she did.
Changming sighed: “Would you believe me if I told you that he was my disciple?”
Xu Jingxian: …not a single word.
Changming asked her back: “Then what do you think is my relationship with him?”
Xu Jingxian thought of their close interactions and said with hesitation: “Daoist partners who fell out and became enemies?”
This conversation couldn’t continue further. He didn’t know whether he was angered or was it the old injury getting to him, but he vomited another mouthful of blood.
Xu Jingxian was flustered: “Don’t show me this! How on earth did you meet Zhang Mu, is that also related to Yun Hai? Can’t you just reconcile with him, get some information out of him, and ask him to rescue us!”
It was the first time Changming felt that he was unable to communicate with this woman at all.
“Can you help me get to a safer place to heal my wounds, and then we can discuss it again?”
Just when Xu Jingxian was going to answer, she saw unexpected movements from the direction of Zhang Mu!
Zhang Mu was retreating under attack from his enemies, finally pressed into a corner.
His whole body was bleeding, but it was difficult to guess whether it was his originally red skin or blood.
His appearance was revolting, and his demeanour was not human. This reason alone was enough to kill him right away.
As for him killing Bei Shu or chasing Changming to silence him—these reasons were only of secondary importance.
Zhang Mu’s expression was savage. He looked at all those cultivators who had surrounded him with hatred.
Those who met his gaze couldn’t help but avert their eyes nervously.
They had never encountered someone who was so obsessed with such overwhelming loathing, so abundant that he could almost blot out the sky and cover up the earth with thick blood, as if he had sunk deep in his resentment, blending with his hatred, and had an ambition to never stop until the whole world was ruined.
This demon must die!
That thought appeared in everyone’s minds almost simultaneously.
But Zhang Mu didn’t die.
He ran away.
Under the countless gazes of a whole army that had encircled him to annihilate, one cultivator suddenly shrieked miserably. He slowly made a step back. The spiritual weapon he was holding turned against its master and cut his face and neck, making his blood splatter everywhere!
The formation was only disrupted in one place, but this was enough for the demon to break through. Zhang Mu seized the chance to escape through the breach.
He still managed to take the lives of two cultivators with his long spear before he disappeared.
“That’s bad, quick, let’s go!”
Changming suddenly grabbed her arm, distracting Xu Jingxian from the spectacle.
“Go where?” Xu Jingxian was at a loss.
“The whole Seven Star Platform is a formation, and Zhang Mu wants to destroy this place!”
Just as these words left his mouth, the ground under their feet shook, they felt the sky spin and the earth go round. Soon, the bricks and stones cracked as the whole platform was beginning to crumble.
Xu Jingxian saw that the roofs of the nearby palaces were beginning to collapse.
These palaces were built by the previous generations of people from Seven Star Rivers. All the materials used for construction were found at the Nine Layers of the Abyss, and the robustness of these buildings could not be compared to that of the common houses from the Human Realm.
She even felt spiritual power leave her body with incredible speed.
In the distance, clouds of gray mist passed through the high mountains, and came down suddenly.
And at this moment Xu Jingxian noticed that at some point the dawn had come to Seven Star Rivers.
The sky lightened, and the orange rosy clouds of dawn were glowing faintly.
The long and dark night was finally over, but instead of a peaceful bright day, people had to face something terrifying.
“Those are maggots! Firefly maggots!” she cried out involuntarily.
The formation of the Seven Star Platform had already been broken by Zhang Mu. Of course, the firefly maggots that could devour anything entered the place looking for food as soon as the barrier was shattered.
And all these cultivators were the most delicious meals.
Xu Jingxian’s half-devoured thin silk was wrapped around her waist. She remembered very well how terrifying those maggots were.
“What should we do?”
Even though the Seven Star Platform was big, these maggots could move through it without hindrance. If people decided to hide there, it would only delay their deaths.
Some cultivators didn’t know how formidable the maggots were, so when they saw the gray mist come closer to them, they attacked it. As a result, people were swallowed up by the gray mist, and even their bones and skin disappeared completely.
Xu Jingxian grabbed Changming’s wrist.
She had faced many enemies before, but she had never been as scared as she was at that moment.
Because no matter how strong the enemy was, there was always a chance of winning if she fought desperately.
But these maggots were heartless and ignorant of everything. As long as something had a spirit, they would engulf that thing, leaving no chance to escape.
The Master of the Lingbo Peak Xu Jingxian would rather face a hundred bald donkeys from the Qingyun School than deal with one maggot.
Bald donkey: derog. Buddhist monk.
“To the Second Layer of the Abyss!”
She heard Changming’s words.
The author has something to say:
A small theatre that has nothing to do with the main text:
Changming: Excuse me, just where do Yun Weisi and I look like daoist partners who fell out and became enemies?
Zhou Keyi: You fell out and became enemies indeed.
Sun Buku: Yun Weisi is a daoist indeed.
Song Nanyan: Daoist partners are not necessarily a man and a woman.
Xu Jingxian: Then what’s your relationship with him?
Changming: A master-disciple one.
Xu Jingxian: Is it? I don’t believe you.
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