Finding Song Ci’s expression interesting, Zhu Yishu smiled. At the same time, the blade charged out of the huge fireball and blazed toward Song Ci’s face from a close distance away.
If this was the Song Ci of the past, he would have been badly burned at such proximity. But now, he was extremely nimble. In that instant, he leaped backward and easily dodged the flame, leaving only the tips of his hair licked off by the tongue of the flames.
The fire earlier had burned off his robe. Although it was visibly tattered, his limbs were now free of constraints. His movements were now as agile as a slippery fox.
He held on tightly to the black scimitar that had appeared in his hand and somersaulted in the air with his two pure-white tails forming a beautiful arch through it. The next moment, there was a flash of shadow as his figure reappeared behind Zhu Yishu. He turned around the black scimitar and slashed it down on Zhu Yishu’s back.
Zhu Yishu turned aside to dodge the blow and raised his hand to grab Song Ci’s wrist, sending a wave of scorching heat over. Song Ci gritted his teeth to endure the pain and made use of the momentum to whirl around and break free of the shackles on his hand. He swung his blade back up, aiming right for Zhu Yishu’s chin.
However, Zhu Yishu leaned back with ease, and the sword missed him. It did not even hurt him the slightest.
The moment they crossed each other, Zhu Yishu met Song Ci’s eyes and threw him a smile that seemed harmless. But at the same time, he placed his palm on his chest. Dazzling flame burst forth again.
Song Ci had already noticed the disparity in strength between him and Zhu Yishu. From the way it looked to him, Zhu Yishu could easily ward off every single one of his strokes. At the same moment he switched moves, Zhu Yishu had already grasped his weakness.
He hurriedly rapped Zhu Yishu’s wrist with the hilt of the blade. The flame missed his heart and struck his left rib instead. That searing force drove him back several chi1 away in a half-kneeling position before he came to a stop. A mouthful of blood spilled out from the corners of his mouth and slid over his fair chin before dripping to the ground.
But there were no longer any signs of retreat and weakness in those blue eyes.
Rong Bai looked at the pandemonium in the battlefield below, and then at the two wagging tails behind Song Ci. Thinking that this was enough for now, he was about to descend when he heard the howl of a wolf just as he moved his toe.
Unlike the childish-sounding howl earlier, this one had an undertone of danger. Three of them simultaneously looked towards the sound. Wen Changchu, who had been initially cowering in the corner, was surrounded by crimson violet light. The body the size of a pup suddenly expanded as he transformed into a demonic beast that was even bigger than a wild wolf.
Wen Changchu stuck out his tongue to lick his fangs. He sprang forward suddenly, making a grab for Zhu Yishu with those sharp claws and fangs. However, it was obvious he had no intention to attack him, thus, Zhu Yishu did not even attempt to dodge. Those claws turned up empty as he twisted his body around midair and swept his bald tail across Zhu Yishu’s body.
His fangs latched on to Song Ci’s tattered clothes. Then, in one swift move, he leaped into the air with all paws and instantly vanished from sight.
Rong Bai and Zhu Yishu looked on blankly as Wen Changchu disappeared with Song Ci in his mouth. Their faces sank at the same time.
Song Ci let Wen Changchu carry him away in his mouth. When they landed, Wen Changchu placed him down. The place they were at now was totally different from earlier. Standing on the ground, he turned his head and saw Wen Changchu sitting down. His breath turned into a gust of wind that sent his long hair fluttering.
Song Ci asked, “Wen Changchu, why did you bring me here?”
“You can’t beat him.” Wen Changchu no longer howled and spoke normally. “You’ll be in trouble if you continue to fight.”
“But Master Rong is still there. If I leave, what if Zhu Yishu hit out at him instead?” Song Ci felt anxious.
“It’s precisely because I’m afraid they will exchange blows that I brought you here.” Wen Changchu said.
Song Ci looked at him in bewilderment and waited for his explanation.
Wen Changchu moved his tail to the front and lowered his head to lick the bald spot. He sighed and said, “Rong Bai is determined to let your blood fuse. That’s why he let you exchange blows with Zhu Yishu. His aim has been achieved now that you have two tails. Subsequently, he will fight Zhu Yishu to protect you. When that happens, the range of onslaught will be much more than that.”
Song Ci looked behind him and saw his two tails swaying slightly as if they were non-existent. He reached out to touch them, and an ambiguous feeling spread from his tail to the apex of his heart. He hurriedly shook off his hand and asked Wen Changchu in a panic, “Why would Master Rong do that?”
Wen Changchu fixed his eyes on him and, for the first time, called out his name with all seriousness. “Song Ci, you have the blood of the Demon King in you. Other species from all over are coveting you. If you don’t become stronger, then who can protect you?”
“The tail is the Tu Shan Fox Clan’s symbol of power. One tail equals one grade of power. The current Demon King is a nine-tailed fox. You have his power within you. As long as you learn to control it, you won’t meet with any danger even if you enter the Demon Realm alone. Rong Bai is doing this for your own good.”
Rong Bai had once told him that the tail represented power.
Understanding dawned on Song Ci. So Rong Bai had deliberately let him fight Zhu Yishu to force him to learn to use that power in him. Yet he had naively believed that Rong Bai was injured.
Zhu Yishu was totally ruthless in his attacks. Song Ci’s thigh was still hurting now. He could not help but pout and complained, “I almost died just now.”
“With Rong Bai there, you won’t die. Furthermore, Zhu Yishu had shown you enough mercy.” Wen Changchu said. “If he truly wanted to kill you, he would have burned you to a cinder the first time he struck.”
Thinking about that staggering flame earlier, Song Ci could not help but furrow his scorched eyebrows. “Who exactly is this Zhu Yishu?”
“The Vermilion Bird Clan. Don’t mess with those crazies, or you will end up in a lot of trouble.” Wen Changchu said. “Once the array has been broken, I’ll leave with you guys. I’m afraid I’ll meet with misfortune if I remain by Zhu Yishu’s side.”
“Isn’t the Vermilion Bird a divine clan?” Although Song Ci did not know much about the affairs of the Divine and Demon Realms, he had heard of the famous Four Symbols2 Divine Clans.
“It’s a long story.” Wen Changchu said slowly. “In ancient times, the Divine Realm was jointly controlled by the Four Symbols divine beasts. At that time, the four clans commanded the top positions among the Six Realms. In the Devil Clan, there was a natural-born devil. Legend has it that he committed all kinds of atrocities and killed many of those from the Divine Clan. Then, the Devil King led hordes of troops to fight against the Four Symbols Divine Clans, throwing the Six Realms into turmoil and causing the Divine Realm to fall apart.”
“However, the Vermilion Bird and Black Tortoise Clans chickened out just before the battle, and this led to the defeat and massacre of the Azure Dragon and White Tiger Clans. Young or old, the Devil King spared no one. It was only thanks to the help of the Tu Shan and the Water Qilin3 Clans that the surviving bloodlines of both clans were preserved.”
“Rumor has it that the Water Qilin sealed off the only remaining uncle-and-nephew pair of the Azure Dragon Clan to protect them. With the passing of time, the Vermilion Bird Divine Clan took over control of the Divine Realm with the intention to dominate the Six Realms. However, it did not go smoothly for them. One of the Azure Dragon surviving descendants broke free of the seal and disrupted their plan.”
“The day the Azure Dragon returned to the world, there was a strange change in the astronomical phenomena in the Human Realm. It rained continuously for several days. He is now the current Deity Emperor. Later on, he broke the seal of his nephew, who went on to become the present God of War, Yan Bei.”
“Yan Bei?” Song Ci heard a familiar name.
Wen Changchu raised his eyebrows. “Someone you know?”
Song Ci hesitantly shook his head, thinking it impossible. His younger cousin was called Liang Yanbei. He was just an ordinary mortal.
“To put it simply, the current Divine Realm is split into two. On one side is the Old Divine Realm from ancient times. Most from that Realm are from clans that have existed since ancient times. The other is the New Divine Realm under the command of the Azure Dragon’s descendant.” Wen Changchu said, “Among the Six Realms, only the Divine Realm has an Emperor. The rest of those in command are called Kings…”
“There are many emperors in the Human Realm.” Song Ci argued quietly.
Wen Changchu brandished his big tail at him. “So, why don’t they call him the Human Emperor? The Human Realm itself is a special existence. It’s part of the Six Realms but excluded from the other five realms. Ignorant and foolish, just like you.”
Song Ci touched his head where the tail had swept past and continued, “So, why are you that afraid of the Vermilion Bird?”
Wen Changchu’s voice was heavy. “The Vermilion Bird and Black Tortoise Clans have flourished and their numbers have multiplied since ancient times. Their existence is not something a normal Divine Clan can rival. This is also one of the reasons the Old Divine Realm has never been eliminated. They have been eyeing the New Divine Realm for a very long time. This time, they sent many people to look for the resurrected Mo Zun all because they wanted to entice him over to the Old Divine Realm. My guess is that they want to dispose of the New Divine Realm.”
Song Ci was in a daze after listening to all these. “Exactly how many people are looking for this Lou Muge?4 He’s in that great of a demand?”
“There are two kinds of people looking for him. One wants to kill him, the other wants to pull him over to their side. Before he died, he was exploited by many people in all kinds of ways. It’s still the same after he returned to the world.” Wen Changchu gave a cold laugh. “He’s a pitiful man.”
Song Ci felt irritable on hearing this. He rubbed his head. “Then what do we do now? There’s a pair of uncontrollable men in the array, and no one knows how Jiang Liang is now. There’s no way to dispel the array either.”
“What are you anxious for? Since Jiang Liang harbors a grievance, then all we need to do is to undo that knot in his heart.”
“You know the truth?” Song Ci asked in return.
Wen Changchu shook himself and transformed back into the refined young master dressed in a black robe. He smiled mysteriously. “Truth be told, I happened to have a part in this matter back then.”
Song Ci looked at him incredulously.
Wen Changchu was agitated by his look and huffed, “You don’t believe me? Then I’ll show you the truth.”
With that, he took Song Ci’s wrist. Dark purple light passed along his arm to Song Ci. Song Ci felt the power in his body calmed down. The pain in his thigh was fading away too. He realized that Wen Changchu was healing him.
A while later, Song Ci’s ears and tails disappeared. His eyes returned to its original black. Wen Changchu said, “I’ll take you to look for Jiang Liang.”
He had yet to finish when both of them vanished from their spots. The world blurred before Song Ci’s eyes. When he stabilized himself, he was standing in the devastated ruins of a fire.
Standing before him was a surprise-looking Zhu Yun, while Mirror Old Man was squatting at a side. The instant he saw Wen Changchu, his expression changed.
Qinyu was sitting beside Mirror Old Man.
Jiang Liang was passed out on the only clean spot among the wreckage.
When Zhu Yun noticed their arrivals, he cast a glance at Song Ci before skipping his gaze over to Wen Changchu. His eyes lit up. He pointed at Qinyu and said, “Hey, wolf pup. If you kill her, I’ll help you break free of my elder brother.”
Wen Changchu fumed, “Who are you calling a wolf pup?!”
Zhu Yun asked, “Did I say it wrong?”
On hearing him, Qinyu glared at Zhu Yun and pushed herself up. She walked with unsteady steps towards Zhu Yun. But she had only taken two steps when she collapsed into a kneeling position from the lack of strength. Fortunately, Mirror Old Man was there to hold her up, so she did not fall flat onto the ground.
But a crisp sound rang out the moment her kneecaps hit the ground.
Zhu Yun felt a suffocating pain in his heart on hearing the sound. He finally grew flustered and exasperated, “Can’t you just stay still? What are you moving around for?!”
Qinyu gritted her teeth, shook off Mirror Old Man’s hands and threw him a cold, gloomy smile. Then, she banged her head hard on the ground and passed out on the spot from the impact.
A dull ache welled up in Zhu Yun’s heart when he saw this. Although it was not as bad as the heart-piercing pain earlier, it still made him feel terrible. He took two steps back and sat down on the ground in despondency. Clutching his chest, he seethed and cussed, “Foolish woman.”
Wen Changchu and Song Ci were stunned by this sight. Mirror Old Man shook his head and sighed, “A thousand of our own men lost, all to wound eight hundred foes.”5
Wen Changchu was the first to return to his senses from the farce. He shoved Song Ci and whispered. “See Jiang Liang? Walk over to him and hold his hand.”
Song Ci was confused, but he did as he was told. He had taken only two steps when Mirror Old Man intercepted him and asked warily, “Little Song, what are you doing?”
Song Ci was about to explain when Wen Changchu brandished his hand, flinging Mirror Old Man two zhang6 away. He said with disdain, “Don’t hinder us.”
Anxious, Mirror Old Man wanted to stop Song Ci, but he could not move. He looked on helplessly as Song Ci walked over to Jiang Liang and squatted down to grab hold of his hand.
“Alright! Here we go!” Wen Changchu twirled out a ray of dark purple light out of thin air and sent it flying towards their holding hands.
Song Ci saw a flash of purple light before him, then the sky darkened and the scenery around him vanished. The only one glowing was the man standing before him. He sensed Song Ci’s sudden manifestation and raised his eyes to look at him.
It was the face that had appeared in all the scenes Song Ci had seen before. It was captivating and vivid.
Jiang Liang asked, “You are?”
Song Ci was about to answer when he heard Wen Changchu’s voice. “Hold his hand.”
He took two steps up and said, “Pardon my rudeness.”
And then he grasped Jiang Liang’s hand.
The instant he came into contact with Jiang Liang’s hand, Jiang Liang’s body turned transparent like a wisp of an illusionary soul. He drifted into Song Ci’s body until they completely fused with each other. Then, he heard a “smack—” right beside his ear.
A palm appeared out of nowhere and slapped his face so hard that his face was slanted to one side. Fiery pain exploded across his cheek.
“So, this is that contemptible performer? How dare you come to the entrance of the Wang Residence to create trouble? Who do you think you are?” The jarring sound of someone cursing rang out above his head.
Song Ci returned to his senses and realized that he was kneeling. There was a dull pain in several spots all over his body. It was obvious he had received a beating earlier. He hung his head low and remained motionless.
“Do you realize the error of your ways?” That voice asked again.
Song Ci wanted to raise his head for a look. He wanted to speak up, but he discovered that he could not control this body. It was as if he was possessing someone else. But in his sight, he could still see his own clothes that had been burned to rags in that battle earlier.
He was sure this was his own body.
“Fine, since you won’t admit your mistake, then I’ll hit you until you admit it!” That person shouted, “Give him a good lesson!”
As soon as the words were out, the punches and kicks started raining down on him. A kick landed heavily at the back of Song Ci’s waist, causing Song Ci to sprawl over on the ground. Then, he was beaten with varying amounts of forces all over his body.
Song Ci was so dismayed that he nearly vomited blood. In this kind of situation, all you have to do is yell “I was wrong”!
A true hero knows better than to fight when the odds are against him!
Credits: Many thanks to saed (@saedee_) for the grammar correction! ♥
- 尺 chi, a Chinese foot, i.e. one-third of a meter.
- 四象 Four Symbols are four mythological creatures that are viewed as the guardians of the four cardinal directions—The Azure Dragon of the East, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the White Tiger of the West, and the Black Tortoise of the North.
- (水)麒麟, or (Water) Qilin (Kirin) a mythical Chinese creature said to appear with the imminent arrival or passing of a sage or illustrious ruler.
- 魔尊楼慕歌 Mo Zun Lou Muge. Mo Zun, or the Devil Lord, is Lou Muge’s title. He is not the Devil King of the Devil Realm. Also, he has his own (BL) story in the author’s latest ongoing novel on JJWXC, 《魔尊今天也在逃命》 , literally translated as ‘The Devil Lord (Mo Zun) is Fleeing For His Life Again Today’. [Link]
- 伤敌八百，自损一千, literally injuring eight hundred enemies, but losing a thousand of our own men (soldiers, etc). Basically, to mean losing more than the enemy, i.e. to suffer more losses than gains.
- 丈 measure of length, ten Chinese feet (1 zhang = 3.3m)