Estranged - Chapter 74

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Humans had three immortal souls and seven mortal forms. Many people died peacefully in this world, but just as many met unjust ends. After death, quite a number of people still had unfulfilled grievances, so their souls refused to reincarnate, lingering in the Human World for a long time. They soaked in the cold and humid places of the world of living creatures, and gradually turned into ghosts. Humans had the Human Dao, while ghosts had the Ghost Dao. Not every ghost could harm a human. However, if their resentment was deep, and they cultivated for a long time, after turning into an evil spirit, even a cultivator would get a headache dealing with them. Malicious spirits that harboured grievances did not restrain themselves with the “every offense had an offender, and debt—a debtor” principle, and hated the whole world. If they slightly disliked something about a person, they would immediately resort to taking vengeance on that person, involving innocent people along the way.

Among the malicious ghosts, there was one that had so far escaped the fate of being sent to the netherworld for numerous years, who had collected evil yin qi from all around the world, who could control immortal souls and mortal forms, a being who was neither alive nor dead, the one that ghosts worshipped upon seeing, yet no one dared follow him—the Ghost King.

The techniques of ghost cultivation were different from that of cultivators or demons, and they could not be divided into low-ranking or high-ranking ones. However, if the powers of Linghu You, the Ghost King, were transferred to a cultivator from the human world, he would have already transcended the level of a master, and his skills would have been beyond comprehension.

His long nails drew five jets of black qi in the air. If these jets touched the skin of a human, they would definitely corrode the skin and flesh, seizing the person and damaging their cultivation base.

Changming moved his sword freely, swinging it in the direction of the black qi. As soon as the latter came in contact with the tip of the sword, it turned into dust and scattered away.

The Ghost King was maintaining a swift and fierce offensive position, giving no chance to retaliate. Zhang Jie was a bit slow, so he almost got caught by a wave of black qi. Fortunately, Hé Qingmo arrived on time and pushed him aside.

“Senior, I came to help you!”

The qi of his long sword moved, glowing with purple light, and swept towards the Ghost King, following the sword owner’s wishes.

The tip of the sword was like a roll of thunder, the sword glow was like the sun, brilliant and vigorous, completely unstoppable!

The body of the Ghost King was shrouded with the sword glow at once, almost becoming invisible.

But Hé Qingmo heard a sneer.

“Know. Your. Place!”

The Ghost King’s smile was lifeless as well, dull and gloomy, like a shallow rain on a bright day. The frost was piercing to the bones, and people could not help shivering with fright upon hearing him.

Hé Qingmo even felt as if this laughter carried some sort of invisible demonic power that would pull his thoughts and force him to move against his own will wherever his opponent wanted him to move.

His hand trembled slightly as he made a gesture, commanding his sword.

And at this very moment!

The sword glow suddenly faded away, and the Ghost King disappeared right in front of his eyes. Before Hé Qingmo could turn his head to examine the situation carefully, sharp pain shot through his arm, as if it was being ripped off.

He revealed a shocked expression. The more desperately he wanted to struggle, the more powerless his arm became. Even his sword refused to obey his commands, and did not come back no matter how he called for it.

The strength that had caught his arm was getting even more indomitable, and Hé Qingmo was suffering so much he could not even talk anymore, only gritting his teeth with what strength he had left.

In a moment, the pressure on his arm suddenly loosened. He abruptly shrank back, supported by Hè Xiyun.

“Daoyou Hé, how are you!”

“I’m…”

Fine…

His arm was hurting so much that he could not even finish speaking.

He could still move his arm, but every movement caused him enormous pain, even more excruciating than what he would have felt if he lost that arm. Hé Qingmo used to be a fortunate disciple of a prominent sect, and only now did he realize the meaning of this phrase, “There are people above people, and skies above skies”.

There are people above people, and skies above skies: there is always someone better than you

The powers of this Ghost King were deep like an abyss of ice, and he could not see through them at all!

The one who solved his predicament was naturally Changming.

The Sifei Sword was moving with a single gesture of Changming’s finger, sweeping away every obstacle. The Ghost King was quite afraid of the sword glow, and released Hé Qingmo immediately.

The two of them started fighting hand to hand again. The Ghost King had almost fused together with the surroundings, moving swiftly and quietly, so it was difficult to see through his motions.

Changming could not see him well either.

He relied on his “sense of smell” to detect him.

Because ghosts had a scent as well.

“What are you looking for?”

A light laughter sounded, as if a light breath touched Changming’s ears.

A silhouette slipped past, and the sword cut through the air.

“I’m looking for you,” Changming said.

“Am I not here already?” the Ghost King laughed, his voice neither near nor far away.

When it sounded close at hand, it almost stuck to Changming’s body; when it sounded far away, it seemed to be coming from beyond the horizon.

“I still don’t know your name.”

Changming’s wrist moved, and the Sifei Sword moved according to it. The black qi scattered with a loud rumble, but it was only an illusion created by the Ghost King.

“My name is Jiufang Changming.”

“Jiufang, Changming? What an interesting name. I seem to have heard it somewhere before.”

“Where?”

“I don’t remember. I know too much, so I always forget things. But I like you a lot. If you stay here, I’ll let them go.”

“Where is this ‘here’?”

“The Wangui Cave, the Realm of Tenderness. Wherever you think it is, it is.”

Wangui: the all-too-familiar ‘wan’ means 10.000, and ‘gui’ — ghosts, so ‘cave of 10.000 ghosts’

Realm of Tenderness: fig. brothel, gentle hug of a woman

“I’m not a ghost, what will happen if I stay here?”

“Then you’ll turn into a ghost, is it important? Let me help you.”

Black light gradually condensed into the shape of a sword that swept towards Changming’s neck, following the gentle and intimate voice.

Changming slashed back, but was blocked by an invisible ghost qi behind him. The ghost sword in front of him was still chasing him, moving forwards.

“The Realm of Tenderness is a good name. It’s a pity you can’t find your beloved. Do you want me to help you?”

Changming smiled faintly, forming a sword seal with his fingers. A golden light flashed behind his back, and the ghost qi crumbled with a rumble, while the ghost sword in front of him was broken by the Sifei Sword, snapping as easily as a bamboo shot.

But this place was the Ghost King’s domain. If they were captured by him in here, they would never find their way back.

The ghost qi would slowly penetrated their bodies, influencing their consciousness and eroding their cultivation, and in the end—

They would become one with this place.

Hè Xiyun started feeling a deep dread, and even regretted having responded to Zhang Jie’s cry for help and dragging Changming and Hé Qingmo to this place belonging to ghosts.

A strong gale of cold wind came from behind. Hè Xiyun turned around with her sword in the wings, and saw a girl in red clothes rushing at her with a savage face, her eyes shedding bloody tears. Her movements were determined, and she was not afraid of Hè Xiyun’s sword at the slightest. She stretched out her nails, ready to catch Hè Xiyun’s head!

Hè Xiyun was startled, but it was already too late for her to react. However, just before she was caught, Hé Qingmo brandished his sword. Its qi was tremendous, and the girl seemed to be afraid of it this time, and she abruptly retreated.

Hé Qingmo moved his sword again, and this time Hè Xiyun noticed a golden glow concealed within his sword’s qi. It was a lot more vigorous and fierce than hers, and, of course, so were his spiritual powers. Their cultivation levels were different to begin with, and that evil spirit was afraid of Hé Qingmo, but did not attach a trace of importance to Hè Xiyun.

But forcing one ghost to step back could not solve their desperate situation.

A dense ghost qi was approaching from every direction. One hand stuck out from beneath the ground unhurriedly, and silently grabbed Hè Xiyun’s ankle.

But she did not notice anything, looking around herself.

“I can help you recall these memories and find the person you’ve been striving to find.”

Changming said to the Ghost King. The two of them did not seem like they wished for this place to become the other’s grave; on the contrary, the Ghost King’s voice was tender, and Changming was speaking unhurriedly. If ghosts were not howling everywhere in this deserted and gloomy place, the two of them would have looked like old friends reunited after a long separation.

The Ghost King was amused by Changming’s power. He knew that he would not be able to gain a rapid victory, so he slowed his movements, circling around Changming.

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“I don’t remember her.”

There seemed to be a hazy image of that person in his memories. But it had already been so long, that even that impression that used to be engraved in his bones had worn down as time passed, and now his heart was still like water.

No, how could a ghost have a heart?

Humans are the ones who have hearts, while his heart…

The Ghost King’s line of sight fell on Changming standing not far away, then lowered down, stopping at where Changming’s heart was.

“Can I take a look at your heart?”

He wanted to gouge Changming’s heart out, and check whether it was as hot and red as he expected.

It had been a while since he tasted the heart of a living human.

He had seen a lot of hearts gouged out from living humans. They were still beating and bleeding, steaming hot, but those hearts did not really taste good, so eventually he stopped enjoying eating them. But now, when he was looking at Changming, his forgotten appetite had resurfaced once again.

“Is that person you like a human or a ghost?”

“I think she was a human. But it’s been a while, so she has probably turned into a ghost already.”

“What’s her name?”

Name…

For a moment, the Ghost King was looking at Changming’s smiling eyes and at the slightly raised corners of his mouth, as if in a trance.

It seems like there was the same ‘Ming’ in her name.

Right, her name was Ming-something, and the last character was her childhood name.

She had liked him calling her by her childhood name, but he would do the opposite, always angering her.

After that—

The Ghost King suddenly flew into a rage. He waved his sleeves, anf five ghosts jumped on Changming!

But Changming had already disappeared from that place, leaving a paper puppet behind. The five ghosts grabbed thin air, but mistook the puppet for the real Jiufang Changming and tore it into pieces.

One after another, new puppets appeared around the five ghosts, provoking them and eventually tricking them into fighting each other.

Ghosts were different from puppets. They had their own consciousness which differed from that of humans or demons. Those ghosts that had at least a bit of self-awareness had been practising for many years, turning into ghost cultivators. And the Ghost King was, of course, the most formidable ghost cultivator.

Although these five ghosts he had released had an astonishing force of attack, they were simply fleeting souls that had gathered a bit of resentment before their deaths, which was not enough for them to form consciousnesses or minds.

“You like her a lot, and you wanted to remember her, yet you forgot.”

Changming’s voice suddenly sounded behind his back, full of bewitching power.

The Ghost King turned around abruptly to catch him!

But Changming had already vanished.

The Art of Conferring Spirit!

The spiritual power behind the Ghost King rose in a tempestuous storm, drowning him. He was bound by the spiritual power, and Changming’s hand covered the back of his neck.

The two of them were standing very close, and the tip of Changming’s nose almost touched the Ghost King’s cheek. The Ghost King had no time to adjust his expression, and was still trembling a bit.

“How dare you say you like me in a state like this? Linghu You, do you think I’ll be interested in you?”

The Ghost King squinted. As quickly as a lightning bolt, he reached out his hand, his nail scratching towards Changming’s chest!

And caught the air again!

“Think carefully, after all, what’s her name?”

What’s her name?

After all, what’s her name?

If Xu Jingxian was here, she would have noticed with astonishment that Changming used a melody of Demonic sects, summoning the soul of a dead person.

Changming had studied with the Demonic sects, learning from them their strong points. He knew almost all the cultivation techniques and the movements in sword skills from each sect of each faction.

What most people deemed totally unrelated sects were, in his eyes, reaching the same goal by different means. Although these sects had changed countless times, they had never departed from the original essence of Demonic cultivation.

And this Changming’s demonic melody of summoning a soul was obviously more advanced than what most demonic cultivators could use.

As he saw it, things could be useful or useless, but not good or evil.

Everything in this world was like this.

No one could determine the technique’s limitations, as it was floating all around, as sonorous as a bell or jade, a musical note or wind.

This demonic melody moved people’s hearts, and even the Ghost King couldn’t escape its influence.

“Her name is Ming Hui.”

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