Jia Mo

Jia Mo (Marrying the Devil) Chapter 45 – Miracle (1)

“Why?” Qi Ling Shu took the Dawn Mirror and asked, “Master is still in the tomb.”

“Since you entered the Forbidden Forest, everything you’ve encountered has been abnormal. Not following normal rules means unpredictable dangers. Do you know what unpredictable dangers mean?” Qing He sighed. “It means danger.”

Qi Ling Shu pondered for a moment and said, “Senior Uncle, please go and ask Elder Yuan Ji to send someone to rescue us. I’ll go into the tomb first to find my Master.” He looked at Qi Yin and the others. “You guys wait here.”

“We share a bond of having worn crotch pants together.” Yun Zhi grinned and hooked his arm around Qi Ling Shu’s neck. “How could I possibly leave you?”

It was supposed to be a caring remark, but Yun Zhi just had to say it in such an annoying way. Qi Ling Shu resisted his shameless behavior and coldly pulled away from him, standing further away.

Qi Yin raised his hand. “I’ll go too.”

After all, that jerk was still his father, and he had to go check on him.

Zhao Ming had always followed Qi Ling Shu, and wherever Qi Ling Shu went, he followed. He also said he wanted to go. Xin Xiao Xiao was still worried about her missing Lan Gege. They decided to search for both Qi Shen Wei and an exit, and they had to stick together and not act alone. So, they decided to go forward and explore. The underground river didn’t flow in a straight line, but had distinct turns.

The black water’s ripples blinked like pupils, flowing silently into the dark. They crossed the bridge and arrived on the other side of the river.

Light symbols illuminated the surrounding area, and Qi Yin’s eyes widened. This place couldn’t be called a tomb. It should be called a palace. The ground was paved with ice-cracked patterned tiles, and the patterns were complex, with an ancient and solemn feel to them. The surrounding rock walls were polished smooth and decorated with colored rock paintings, many of which had faded. In the center was a large bronze cauldron, covered in talismans, with a faint rosy light emanating from the mouth of the cauldron. Above it hung twelve golden-handled daggers, with the blades shaped like a golden cross, each one only slightly longer than a palm, sharp and shining with star-like cold light.

“This is so grand. Could it be the tomb of the founder of Wu Fang?” Qi Yin exclaimed in amazement.

No one answered him, as everyone was curious about the twelve golden short swords that were rotating in the light.

Qi Ling Shu furrowed his brow and said, “Cross Guard Short Swords?”

“What?” Qi Yin asked.

Qi Ling Shu furrowed his brow without saying a word. Yun Zhi explained for him, “The Cross Guard Short Sword is a legendary artifact that only gods can wield. Once it pierces flesh, it cannot be withdrawn without the owner’s will and remains there for eternity. In ancient times, there were three major metals: gold, silver, and bronze. The Cross Guard Short Sword has a gold handle and a silver blade, making it very powerful. Look at the blade of this Cross Sword. There is no such blade in the Central Plains. Master Qing He once speculated that it was a sword of the Southern divine beings. However, this sword is only recorded in ancient books. Whether it is a weapon of gods or not, it remains to be seen. It’s possible that the tomb owner replicated it according to the records.”

Qing He exclaimed, “Yun Zhi did not sleep in my class. I shall give you a reward.”

Yun Zhi smiled. “No, no. That won’t be necessary.”

Qing He lowered his voice and said, “At the hour of the Rabbit, I will have Qing Ming disguise himself and follow you to the tomb in the Forbidden Forest. If you find Yuan Wei, return to the other side of the river and wait for Qing Ming.”

Yun Zhi sighed. “My master is not as reliable as you are. He would have already burned paper for me by now.”

After examining the sword, everyone scattered throughout the hall to search for any openings. The silence in the dark hall was a bit frightening. The dim golden light of the lamp symbols reflected on everyone’s faces, as if they were wearing golden masks. Qi Yin touched his cold hand and felt like someone was lurking in the darkness. Unconsciously, he walked over to the mural, where the ancient colors caught his eye.

The colors of the mural were very simple, mainly black rock with red and white accents. The first painting depicted a moonlit night. The pure black color of the rocks represented the night, and a white paint blob represented the moon. A group of roughly sketched people knelt on the ground, some with horns. They devoutly worshipped the moon with piles of offerings of fruits and vegetables in front of them. In the second painting, the moon in the sky extended a winding ladder of light to the ground, and everyone jumped and danced joyfully. Qi Yin turned to the other side of the wall and looked at the third painting. At first glance, he widened his eyes.

In front of the moon, at the top of the light ladder, stood a tall and upright deer. Its antlers bloomed with flowers, and its hooves were wrapped in the spring breeze. It overlooked all living beings below, as if it were the ruler of the world.

It was the White Deer.

“You guys, look at the dome!” Xin Xiao Xiao suddenly exclaimed.

Everyone looked up, and Xin Xiao Xiao released a lamp talisman. The talisman floated up and illuminated the dark dome. A huge colorful painting was painted on the dome of the hall. The deep and flowing lines outlined a tall and upright white deer, running on the winding light ladder, towards the moon that occupied almost half of the night sky. Countless ants-like creatures crawled in a corner of the mural, kneeling and sending off the white deer.

“This is not a Wu Fang Elder’s tomb.” Qing He sighed softly. “This is a shaman”s tomb.”

In the Ice Sea Abyss.

Fu Lan quietly dived underwater, the silent water enveloping him. It was so cold here that even with his protective barrier, he felt like he might freeze instantly. The black cat in his arms trembled with cold. The water was pitch black and the depths were unfathomable. It was still too early for the sun to provide enough light to penetrate the deep sea.

He looked down at the abyssal depths below and released some small fish. Countless light blue flying fish surged out of him and swam into the silent depths, their faint glow illuminating the vast expanse of the sea. He saw a bronze giant pillar standing beneath him. It was an array of countless square bronze pillars, with the bottom submerged in the mud of the icy sea, leaving only the part exposed to the water towering high above.

Ancient mortals, demons, and monsters believed that the higher they built their houses, the closer they would be to the gods. They built these bronze pillars to try to get closer to the gods. If anyone dared to blaspheme the gods, the shamans would remove their heads and embed them in the bronze pillars while casting them, pouring molten bronze over them until they were fused with the pillars. Wherever his gaze fell, he saw many dark blue heads like solemn statues.

Fu Lan slowly dived down, his toes landing on the top of a bronze pillar, overlooking the ruins.

In front of him was the huge remains of a double-eaved building, with seaweed wrapped around the beam and rafters. The main body of the temple had long been buried in the mud. The black cat approached a bronze pillar, and a small fish swirled around it to provide light. He saw densely engraved gold characters on it, but the gold paint had long since faded and turned into a dull wax yellow.

The black cat slowly read the text:

“Jie Bai Lu, disobedient to heaven.

Rebellious and obstinate, defying heaven’s will.

The Emperor has eight directions, and his majesty is supreme.

The bell and drum are resounding, and the gods are on the march.

The chime and the guan are clanging, and the White Deer has crumbled.

Heaven and earth return to clarity, and all the gods return together.”

“This is probably an ancient battlefield,” the black cat explained. “The other bronze pillars don’t have the golden script on them. It was probably carved after the war. ‘Emperor’ refers to Fu Xi. They sounded the war drums, and Fu Xi led the gods of the Central Plains to defeat the White Deer. When the chimes rang, they won.” The black cat touched the dim words with his paw. “Our gods are dead, fool. The great gods are transformed by the qi of heaven and earth, and after death, they return to heaven and earth without physical form or reincarnation. We haven’t had any gods in the Southern Region for a long time.”

“Is it very bad?” Fu Lan asked in a low voice.

“It’s very bad,” the black cat said gloomily. “This means that when we pray to the great gods and make wishes, we are just talking to the air. There are no gods to hear your wishes or grant them. Xiao Yin was right. We found him by luck.”

Fu Lan didn’t answer. The black cat turned his head and saw the quiet man staring into the dark abyss, looking absent-minded. After a moment, more blue fish surged from his body, and the black cat could see that he was using this technique to the fullest.

The small fish spread silently over the entire ice sea, and Fu Lan’s eyes suddenly contracted.

Heartbeats. The entire sea resounded with heartbeats.

At the bottom of the ice sea, countless strong heartbeats were buried in the mud, ancient and solemn, like ringing bells and drums. To the east of the ice sea, countless weak heartbeats thudded faintly, as if they were wrapped in cloth and almost inaudible. The small fish swam through those heartbeats, and he saw frosty, cold and pale faces with their eyes closed. The low temperature suppressed their blood flow and heartbeats, sending them into a quiet sleep. These things were strange in shape, with human upper bodies and deformed lower bodies. Some even had sharp claws and it was hard to tell if they were human or demon.

The small fish did not stop, continuing to dive. To the north of the ice sea, there was a huge heart thudding like muffled thunder, belonging to a young dragon. There was another heart like this that died by his sword.

The heartbeats sounded like a concerto of different instruments, with a faint ripple in the dark water, as if vibrating with them. Suddenly, among all the heartbeats, one stood out. Among the myriad of heartbeats, it resonated only with Fu Lan’s heartbeat, as if it belonged to an old friend he not seen for many years.

It was calling out to Fu Lan.

Fu Lan lowered his gaze and reached out his hand.

The vast waves and the silt at the bottom of the abyss shook suddenly, and a pitch-black object broke out of the seabed and rose into the waves at a steady speed. It floated towards Fu Lan and eventually stopped in front of him.

It was a black scabbard sword with strange cross-shaped blades. The black scabbard was not decorated in the slightest, and it was so black that it seemed to absorb all light. Fu Lan grasped the handle of the sword, and his dignified heartbeat pulsated from the body of the sword, throbbing in his palm. After a moment, the scabbard automatically fell off, and a cold, shimmering mercury-like substance spilled out.

The black cat stared at the sword and exclaimed, “This sword is made of silver. Look, it has been buried underground for so many years, yet it doesn’t have a trace of mud on it. This must not be an ordinary weapon. Is this a sword from our southern region?”

Fu Lan whispered its name, “Bone-Cutting Sword.”

The black cat widened his eyes. “How do you know?”

Fu Lan shook his head lightly.

He didn’t know why, but he recognized this sword. When he held the handle of the sword, it felt like he was reuniting with an old friend.

He carried the Bone-Cutting Sword on his back, bent over, and swam towards the edge of the Ice Sea.

“Where are we going now?” the black cat asked.

They arrived at the wall of the Ice Sea, and there were countless holes in front of them, resembling a huge beehive. Each hole led to an endless darkness. Countless small fish passed through the shimmering water barrier and swam into the cave. A complex map appeared in Fu Lan’s mind, with tunnels and caves connecting to each other like a huge spider web. Countless Wu Fang disciples walked on the spider web. In the center of the spider web was a huge golden magic array, with eight men meditating.

This was a secret location in Wu Fang, the Heavenly Abyss Spider Web.

The black cat clung to Fu Lan’s shoulder, and they both entered the cave.

“Let’s fight,” Fu Lan said.


“Shaman’s tomb?” Xin Xiao Xiao asked, “How can there be a Shaman’s tomb in the mortal world?”

Qing He said, “In ancient times, the territory of southern region was much larger than it is today. According to the ‘Records of the Southern Region,’ the current location of Wu Fang was the northernmost part of southern region at that time. Many ancient shamans are buried here.”

Qi Yin remembered what Lord Cat said about southern region’s curse, and felt a little uneasy. “Master, are we trespassing in someone’s tomb? Will they hold a grudge against us and curse us?”

Qing He laughed softly. “As long as you don’t mess with things, like the short swords, I’m sure the predecessors won’t mind.”

“Don’t worry. I heard that White Deer God only eats the hearts of children. You are so tall. They won’t choose you as a sacrifice,” Zhao Ming sneered.

“…” Qi Yin frowned imperceptibly and said, “It’s just a rumor that the White Deer eats the hearts of children. On the contrary, according to the legends of demons, it especially likes children. If a child gets lost, it will even lead them back home.”

Zhao Ming was unwilling to accept this. “Where did you hear that? You’re speaking up for the evil god of demons?”

Qi Yin rolled his eyes at him and ignored him. Seeing his reaction, Zhao Ming became even more angry and was about to say something else. Qi Ling Shu furrowed his brow and said, “Be quiet.”

Yun Zhi casually laughed and said, “The evil god of demons? I don’t think so.” He gestured towards the dome and said, “You see, those with horns represent demons, and those without horns should be humans, right?”

Qing He agreed. “In ancient times, the gap between humans and demons was not as deep as it is today. There were many human settlements in the southern regions that worshipped the White Deer God along with demons.”

“Elder Qing He, does the White Deer live on the moon?” Xin Xiao Xiao asked curiously.

“More accurately, it lives in the Lunar Heaven,” Qing He said. “According to the ‘Records of the Southern Regions,’ on the night of the full moon, the shamans and believers will offer sacrifices and await the arrival of the White Deer God. Look at the second rock painting. The person in the corner is dancing. That is not just a simple dance. It is a shaman’s ritual dance that can only be performed to welcome the gods. Only the ritual dance can invite the arrival of the god and the moonlight ladder. I have heard that the dance is solemn and elegant, but unfortunately, the steps have been lost, and we have not had the opportunity to witness it.”

“Wait a minute.” Qi Ling Shu suddenly pointed to the dome. “What is that?”

Following his direction, Qi Yin found several thin scratches on the painting. They were of varying lengths, with five scratches in each group, as if they were made by human hands. Yun Zhi snapped his fingers, and more light talismans floated up, illuminating the entire dome. Everyone was stunned to see that the dome was covered in scratches.

“What crawled in here?” Zhao Ming asked nervously. “A monster?”

It was likely that monster was trapped here too. Qi Yin furrowed his brow, wondering how Qi Shen Wei was doing. Qing He said he was half-dead. Could he have encountered a monster and been injured?

Just then, there were rustling sounds coming from the end of the hall, which sounded particularly abrupt in the silent darkness. Everyone was startled, and Qi Yin quickly took out his sword. Even though it was rusty, it was still a sword, and could be used for self-defense.

Qi Ling Shu lit a light talisman, and it floated towards the source of the sound. The dim light gradually dispelled the darkness, and they saw a skinny and shriveled figure hiding behind a red pillar, seemingly staring at them.

Jia Mo (Marrying the Devil) Chapter 44 – Forbidden Forest (3)

Everyone was startled and quickly backed away. Yun Zhi and a few others stood by Qi Yin’s side. The corpse lifted its head, revealing a pockmarked face resembling a beehive. Its black mouth was wide open, and its contorted face was frozen in a terrifying expression, as if silently screaming in agony.

It didn’t bite anyone, but instead twisted its arms to scratch its own back, tearing it apart. Qi Yin’s back tingled with pain just from watching it. Suddenly, the creature turned its face towards the crowd and crawled towards them. Everyone was terrified, but Yun Zhi bravely stepped forward and kicked it into the swamp.

The corpse struggled in the swamp, sinking deeper and deeper until it disappeared.

Everyone was shaken by the experience. Although they had encountered terrifying demons before, they had never seen anything as repulsive as this.

Qi Ling Shu frowned. “There’s something on its back.”

Qi Yin nodded. He speculated that whatever it was had caused the pockmarks on the corpse’s body. The thing was probably of unknown origin and difficult to deal with, so kicking both it and the corpse into the swamp was the best course of action.

After regrouping, they continued on their journey. By the time they reached Qi Shen Wei’s grave, the sun had risen and the barrier in the sky was visible in the sunlight. Unlike Feng Huan’s barrier, it was like a brilliant rainbow, undulating like waves in the sky. The light filtering through the leaves revealed a subtle and exquisite color.

The snow on the ground had melted, and they walked through puddles of water. It only took less than an hour before they arrived at Qi Shen Wei’s grave. But as they got closer, they were stunned to see that the grave had been completely destroyed.

The white marble tombstone lay broken on the side, and the ground was full of pits and holes. When they looked into the hole, they saw that it was deep and dark, with occasional reflections of light on the water’s surface. On the left was a tomb passage, which probably led to the tomb chamber. A difficult-to-describe rotten odor wafted out, as if something that had been frozen inside the hole for thousands of years was suddenly released.

The area seemed to have lower ground level, and it appeared that the melting snow had caused the grave to collapse. Qi Yin peered into the tomb passage and saw that it was pitch black, with no end in sight. It was clear that Wu Fang had gone all out to build such a spacious grave for his father.

Qi Ling Shu’s face looked very unpleasant. Qi Yin thought it was because Qi Shen Wei’s grave had been washed away, and he was not happy about it. But as he crouched in front of the cave, he said, “This is not Master’s tomb.”

“Strange.” Yun Zhi lowered his head and flipped through the map. “We haven’t taken the wrong path.”

Qi Ling Shu said, “Master passed away suddenly, and the tomb was just a shallow pit dug hastily, not even built with bricks or stones.”

Qi Yin looked down and saw that the cave was at least one person tall.

Zhao Ming said doubtfully, “Did Elder Qi’s tomb change on its own?”

Xin Xiao Xiao also looked around in surprise. The black water reflected everyone’s faces, each looking dark and dead, with an indescribable eerie feeling.

“It didn’t change,” Yun said. “It’s been washed away by water.”

He pointed to a protrusion in the cave wall, where clear soil layers and traces of water erosion could be seen. Obviously, the upper part was the tomb where Qi Shen Wei was buried, and the lower part was the tomb they were looking at now.

Qi Yin complained, “You Wu Fang people didn’t pay enough attention when picking a grave site. How come you didn’t first check if a predecessor had already taken the spot? Crushing someone’s head like this…aren’t you afraid of getting divine punishment?”

Yun Zhi shrugged, “Maybe they were afraid that Elder Qi would be alone and wanted to find him a companion to chat with.”

Qi Ling Shu glanced at him. “The flood may have damaged the coffin. I’ll go down and take a look.”

After speaking, he jumped down. The black water only came up to his ankles. Yun Zhi smiled and said, “I’ll accompany you!”

Just as they were about to jump down, a vague sound suddenly came from deep inside the tomb, carried by a gust of cold wind. The strange sound sounded like a human voice, indistinct and unintelligible. Hearing such a weird sound, everyone looked at each other with a fearful expression, and Qi Ling Shu stood still for a while. But soon everyone figured it out. The water had receded for a long time, and some monster might have entered the tomb.

The sound was murmuring, as if repeating something over and over again. Qi Yin listened carefully, but his spiritual power was weak, and his hearing was not as good as the others, so he had a hard time hearing it.

Suddenly, Qi Ling Shu’s face turned pale, and his eyes went wide. “It’s Master!”

As soon as he said this, everyone was stunned. Qi Yin’s fat master had said that his father was half dead. Could it be that he was really still alive? Qi Ling Shu didn’t say another word and rushed into the tomb. Yun Zhi quickly followed, shouting, “Hei, follow us!”

“Who are you calling Hei!” cursed Qi Yin under his breath. With no other choice, he followed and jumped down as well.

The tomb passage was very cold, and as soon as they descended, a chilly wind blew against their faces. It made Qi Yin feel as though frost was forming in the seams of his bones. The water was ice-cold, soaking their ankles. Qi Yin struggled to move forward, but that little brat Qi Ling Shu had already disappeared like a rat.

They walked together for who knows how long until suddenly the passage opened up. Before them lay a long underground river, with misty darkness on either end, making it impossible to see the source or endpoint. A solitary stone arch bridge was erected to the northwest, leading to a dark hole. Qi Ling Shu held up a lamp talisman at the riverbank, looking down at the dark flowing water. There was an empty peach-wood coffin with a broken lid floating in the center of the river.

It was clear what had happened. Qi Shen Wei hadn’t died; he was buried alive. It was probably the flood that had destroyed the tomb and coffin, finally freeing him. Qi Yin breathed a sigh of relief. He knew this Sword Immortal wouldn’t die that easily.

“Let’s split up.” Qi Ling Shu made a prompt decision. “I’ll go find Master. You guys go up and continue to look for Yun Lan.”

“No way,” Yun Zhi objected. “How could we let you go alone to find your Master?”

Zhao Ming and Xin Xiao Xiao nodded in agreement. Yun Zhi continued, “My Junior Brother and I will go with you.” He gestured at Xin Xiao Xiao. “You two go up.”

This surprised Zhao Ming. After all, Yun Lan was a disciple of Feng Huan Sect. It should have been their job to their own sect members. However, Qi Ling Shu agreed. “I’ll give you the talisman, and if you don’t find Yun Lan nearby, go straight back to Execution Peak and report to the Elder for discussion.”

Zhao Ming stuttered, “Junior Uncle, this…”

“Obey my orders,” Qi Ling Shu ordered.

With Junior Uncle having spoken, Zhao Ming could only nod and accept the talisman, leading Xin Xiao Xiao away with constant backward glances.

As they watched them disappear into the depths of the passage, the remaining three followed the riverbank towards the bridge. Yun Zhi laughed as they walked. “Junior Uncle, since we’re going to travel together, let’s be open with each other. I guess your objective was to come here to Elder Qi’s grave in the first place, right?”

Yun Zhi’s words were correct. All along the way, Qi Ling Shu’s objective had been clear. He was never here to find Fu Lan. However, Qi Ling Shu did not answer, only saying, “You go first.”

“My Master has one of Elder Qi’s life lamps. It’s still burning, but there’s already news of his death from the Wu Fang Sect. My Master is worried about Elder Qi, so he sent us to investigate,” Yun Zhi said.

“We also found bloodstains in your room,” Qi Yin added. “Oh, by the way, did your Master ever practice the Shaman’s Secret Art?”

Qi Ling Shu shook his head. “No, my master specialized in swordsmanship, and never delved into the path of spells.”

“That’s strange… How did those five people die?” Qi Yin furrowed his brows and pondered.

Qi Ling Shu took out a bamboo tube from his Qiankun bag and handed it to Yun Zhi. “I received the bad news in the Northern Land on April 8th, and returned to Wu Fang when my master had already been laid out and was resting in the Wu Fang Hall. I mourned for him, buried him, and returned to the stone room, only to find this in the crevice of the steps.”

Yun Zhi opened the bamboo tube, and Qi Yin also leaned over to take a look. They were immediately shocked to see a small piece of pale bone inside.

“This is not my master’s finger, but I also know that there must be something fishy about his sudden death.” Qi Ling Shu closed his eyes and covered the deep grief in his eyes. “When I left Wu Fang, he was obviously recovering well from his injuries and could walk on his own. On April 8th, however, bad news suddenly came. Since then, I have been secretly investigating, but to no avail, until you came to Wu Fang.”

“How did you know we were looking for Elder Qi?” Yun Zhi asked in confusion.

“Yun Lan disappeared. Isn’t that your plan to sneak into the Forbidden Forest?” Qi Ling Shu said lightly, “Forgive me for being blunt, but you and Yun Yin are too good at acting. Yun Lan disappeared, and the two of you weren’t the least bit panicked.” He looked at Qi Yin and coughed. “Especially you. Your friendship with Yun Lan is deep. You shouldn’t be so calm.”

Qi Yin: “…”

What did deep friendship mean? Qi Yin was speechless. Other than occasionally having some improper thoughts about his brother, he was completely innocent. He finally realized that being serious was just an act, and that this guy was also a perverted scoundrel on the inside.

Yun Zhi smiled while crossing his arms. “To be honest, you guessed wrong. Yun Lan’s disappearance was not part of our plan. My junior brother is a supernatural being, and we can’t control him.”

He spoke vaguely, obviously not wanting to say much about Yun Lan’s matter. Qi Ling Shu didn’t ask much either. He just nodded and said, “However, the reason why I am certain of your goal is because you have brought the real Qi Yin.”

Qi Yin was taken aback and asked in confusion, “How did you find out about me? Um… Was it during the hot spring incident?”

“I don’t know if you have noticed…” Qi Ling Shu paused halfway through and seemed to be weighing his words, as if hesitating whether to say it or not. Qi Yin looked at him in confusion, and he paused for a moment before continuing, “Qi Yin, every time you look at me, your eyes always seem sad. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I always feel like there’s a sense of… abandonment in your eyes.”

Qi Yin: “…”

An awkward silence fell in the air, and Qi Yin laughed dryly, stuttering, “Oh, it’s just because I’m a little envious of you. It’s normal. Anyone would envy you for being so handsome. It’s fine now, I don’t care anymore. Hahaha!”

“Hei.” Yun Zhi looked at him with pity. “You’re laughing uglier than crying.”

Qi Yin choked and glared at him.

Qi Ling Shu said, “I knew about you a long time ago, Qi Yin, since I was very young. They all said that our master had a child outside, and I had wondered why he didn’t go to find you. I still don’t know the answer to that. But I do know that he has been worried about you all this time.”

Qi Yin remained silent. Was he really worried about him? It wouldn’t have been difficult to find him with a sword and just one night’s journey. Even if he couldn’t acknowledge him as his son, couldn’t he at least come to see how he was doing occasionally and send some money to his aunt? That way, perhaps his life would have been a little better. Qi Yin smiled sardonically, his tone both sarcastic and defensive. “Oh, is that so? How did he worry?”

“Don’t you want to know how knew you were Qi Yin?” Qi Ling Shu stopped and whispered, “It was because Yun Lan said that you were called ‘puppy’. In March, I received an invitation from Zhong Gu Mountain to help them vanquish demons, and before I left, I left a piece of Dawn Mirror in the stone room. On the eighth day of April, as our master was dying, he kept shouting ‘puppy’ at the mirror.”

Qi Yin was stunned.

“I didn’t understand it at the time, but I realized it when I was in the hot springs that day. He wanted to see you for the last time,” Qi Ling Shu said slowly. “And the voice that came from the tomb just now, it was calling ‘puppy’ again and again.”

Qi Yin lowered his eyes, feeling as if a pot had been put over his head and he couldn’t express his sadness. What was this all about? He had hated that man for over a decade, and now he suddenly came to tell him that he had his reasons for abandoning his wife and son, and that he still loved him. As if he could be forgiven just because this guy loved him. The past ten years had gone by like flowing water. His mother had passed away, and he had grown up. Did he really expect him to forgive him just because of a word like ‘puppy’?

But the hardness in Qi Yin’s heart seemed to crumble away, leaving behind a small crack. He slowly crouched down, his face reflected in the dark river water. He smiled bitterly at his own reflection.

That man… he really loved him.

Qi Ling Shu and Yun Zhi stood at the edge, silently watching his back as he hung his head, looking like a lost dog. Qi Ling Shu lowered his eyes, remembering the time when Qi Yin stood at the sword competition platform and watched him from afar. When he turned his head, Qi Yin panicked and pretended nothing had happened. At that time, Qi Yin lowered his head, shrugged his shoulders, put his hands in his sleeves, and walked alone in the crowd, but his back was surprisingly lonely.

Every time he saw him, Qi Ling Shu always felt that he had taken his place. Perhaps fate had made a mistake somewhere, and the first disciple of Wu Fang should have been Qi Yin, but another wandering wild child had taken the lead by mistake. Qi Ling Shu silently thought that he owed him.

After a while, Qi Yin stood up and said, “Let’s go find him. I want to ask him why he abandoned me and my mother and disappeared. Why he has not contacted me for eighteen years.” His deep eyes were surprisingly calm and firm. “It’s been eighteen years. It’s time. Today, I will settle things with him.”

Qi Ling Shu was about to nod when there was suddenly a shout from behind him, “Junior Uncle!”

Why hadn’t these two left yet? Qi Yin looked over and saw their panicked faces. Zhao Ming said in fear, “Junior Uncle, the cave entrance is gone.”

“What does that mean?” Qi Ling Shu frowned.

“The entrance is gone!” Xin Xiao Xiao exclaimed. “The entrance has disappeared!”

Qi Ling Shu and Yun Zhi looked at each other, turned back into the tunnel, waded through the water for a while, and finally reached the top. The place where the cave entrance was supposed to be had turned into a rough rock wall. Qi Ling Shu held up a light talisman to carefully examine it. The rock wall was integrated with the surrounding rocks, without any trace of artificial chiseling. It was impossible for anyone else to move a stone to block it while they weren’t paying attention.

“This is damn strange.” Yun Zhi reached out and touched the rock wall.

“Have you tried using the command talisman?” Qi Ling Shu asked.

“Trying it out,” Zhao Ming said uneasily. “It’s no use.”

Qi Ling Shu tried again, but the talisman couldn’t be activated. Everyone stared at each other in disbelief, and Zhao Ming muttered, “Could it be haunted?”

Xin Xiao Xiao shuddered and hugged his arms. “Senior Brother, don’t scare me. I’m afraid of ghosts. When I was young, my siblings would tell me ghost stories, and I wouldn’t be able to sleep all night.”

A strange gust of wind blew over, making people feel chilly and eerie. Qi Yin also felt that this place was a bit sinister.

Qi Ling Shu frowned. “Don’t scare yourself. Maybe it’s an illusion.”

Zhao Ming wanted to break open a way with his sword, but Yun Zhi stopped him and shook his head, saying it was not possible. The rock structure here was intact, and if they tried to break through, the tomb passage might collapse first. Suddenly, Yun Zhi remembered something and quickly took out his Dawn Mirror, polishing it carefully until the vague images of Qing He and Qing Ming appeared inside.

Qing He shook his head and smiled. “Yun Zhi, I told you to open the mirror every half hour. It has been more than two hours now, and you finally remember me.”

“Senior Uncle, you are a grown-up. Don’t bicker with your nephew.”

Yun Zhi explained the situation, and Qi Ling Shu added some details. Qing He pondered for a moment and asked to see Qi Shen Wei’s coffin. Everyone returned to the underground river bank, and Qing He examined it carefully through the mirror for a while. Suddenly, his tone became heavy. “Children, you cannot stay in this tomb for long. You need to find a way out as soon as possible.”

Jia Mo (Marrying the Devil) Chapter 43 – Forbidden Forest (2)

Qi Yin grabbed the note left by Fu Lan and didn’t react for a while.

Several senior martial brothers and sisters surrounded the note under the light, carefully cut without any frayed edges. The handwriting was very elegant, with each stroke clear and fluid, in line with his brother’s usual style.

However, there were only four words on it – “Will be back soon.”

After reading it, Liu Bai concluded, “Junior martial brother wasn’t kidnapped. He left this note himself.”

At first, Qi Yin didn’t understand why there was a random note next to his pillow. It wasn’t until the third watch, when the bell sounded and his brother was still nowhere to be found, that he realized what the note meant.

“That bastard…” Qi Yin grabbed his head, suddenly feeling like a jilted lover. He was so angry that he felt like his head was about to explode. “Why did he leave without a word? He didn’t even say where he was going!”

“Don’t accuse him wrongly. He clearly left four words.” Yun Zhi patted Qi Yin on the back.

“He might as well have said that he died outside!” Qi Yin said angrily.

Where did he go? What’s most infuriating was that he didn’t take Qi Yin with him! Qi Yin was so angry that his chest hurt. He sat there, sulking, thinking about how to punish that bastard when he returned. Should he make him kneel and scrub the washboard? Or should he give him a spanking? After thinking for a while, he felt that neither was appropriate, as it was like a shrew punishing her own man.

Just as everyone was about to discuss whether to tell the two senior martial uncles, there was a knock at the door. Sang Ruo opened the door, and it was Zhao Ran standing outside. He bowed to everyone and asked, “Has Senior Martial Uncle Yun Lan returned?”

Everyone looked at each other. Yun Zhi cleared his throat and said, “Junior martial brother has been sweeping snow every day to finish his punishment early. He is probably still sweeping snow now.”

“I see,” Zhao Ran said with concern. “Please come with me, senior martial uncles. Senior Martial Uncle Yun Lan may have encountered an accident.”

Everyone was stunned and went to the suspended stairs together. It was already crowded with people. Qi Ling Shu was squatting there examining footprints. There was a broom on the steps, which was often used by Fu Lan. Qi Yin hurriedly squeezed in and asked, “What happened to my brother?”

Qi Ling Shu fell into a moment of contemplation, then turned to look at him with a serious expression. “Junior Brother Yun Lan’s footprints end here, and there are no return footprints. If I’m not mistaken, he may have accidentally slipped and fell. Judging from the thickness of the snow on the footprints, he fell at least half an hour ago.”

Qi Yin was stunned for a moment and suddenly understood. Fu Lan was more stable than a rooster’s head on his feet. How could he have slipped? He probably jumped down by himself. Qi Yin leaned over the snow steps and looked down. It was dark and murky down there. It should be the Forbidden Forest below, and tomorrow was the day they would set out to find Qi Shen Wei. What was Fu Lan doing jumping into the Forbidden Forest?

Qi Ling Shu pulled him back by the collar. “We can’t delay any longer. Saving people is the top priority. You guys send someone to inform the Sect Leader and the two senior brothers from Feng Huan, and then send someone to come with me to save people.”

Zhao Ming muttered behind, “Do we still need to save him? Several people fall off this suspended step every year. Every time we go down to look, either we find a pile of broken bones, or they’ve been dragged away by monsters and eaten, and we can’t even find the bones.”

When he said this, everyone fell silent. Sang Ya didn’t know what was going on and thought Fu Lan was really gone. She burst into tears. Qi Ling Shu turned around and looked at Zhao Ming with cold eyes like winter snow.

“As cultivators, we must find them whether dead or alive.”

He always spoke so bluntly, without caring about anyone’s face. Zhao Ming shivered and didn’t dare to say anything more. Qi Ling Shu took out the Forbidden Forest token and opened the teleportation array. He was the first disciple of Wu Fang, and he was also designated as the future elder of swords, so he was also in charge of a Forbidden Forest token. Brilliant golden light spread on the ground, forming a gorgeous and complex pattern. The onlookers stepped back one after another. Zhao Ming volunteered and stepped into the array.

This was a good opportunity to enter the Forbidden Forest, much safer than following the pig monster. Yun Zhi grabbed Qi Yin and pulled him into the array. “Junior Uncle, take me and Yun Yin with you!”

The golden light flickered. In the blink of an eye, the step was empty.

Shao Ruan received Qi Ling Shu’s order and hurried to report to Sect Leader Yuan Ji. Walking halfway, he suddenly met Qing He, who was holding a guqin and walking slowly. Shao Ruan bowed his head and greeted him. Qing He smiled and asked what he was going to do. Shao Ruan answered softly.

Qing He sighed and smiled. “I happen to be going to play chess with Sect Leader Yuan Ji. Let me take care of this for you.”

Shao Ruan hesitated for a moment but still bowed. “Thank you, Senior Uncle.”

In an instant, the world spun around, and his organs were turned upside down. In what felt like a year, he finally landed on solid ground. Qi Yin couldn’t stand up and fell to the ground, retching. Yun Zhi squatted down and lightly patted his back. It took a while for Qi Yin to catch his breath, and he felt slightly better.

Xin Xiao Xiao stood there, looking lost and helpless, clutching at the corner of her clothes. “I also want to help find Lan Gege.”

Qi Ling Shu looked as serious as ice, not blinking as he reopened the talisman and coldly said, “Go back.”

Xin Xiao Xiao was about to cry, looking around for someone to help her plead her case. Finally, her gaze fell on Qi Yin, but he just made a helpless gesture and said nothing.

Qi Ling Shu felt annoyed, not quite understanding why these people always needed him to repeat himself over and over again. He pressed his forehead and patiently repeated, “Go back.”

Xin Xiao Xiao’s eyes were red, but she didn’t move. She wiped her tears and choked out, “Do you know why nobody dares to approach you?”

Qi Ling Shu was taken aback.

“You’re always like this, never giving anyone a good face even when they mean well. Last time during the Dao conference, my two senior sisters saw you practicing your sword in the early morning and made bone broth for you to help nourish your body. But you… just let them get twenty palm strikes on their hands.” Xin Xiao Xiao’s eyes were red. “If you don’t want it, just refuse it. Why do you have to trample on their goodwill like this? Lan Gege would never do that. When I make soup for him, he says thank you and even washes the bowl and returns it.”

Make soup? Qi Yin was confused. Fu Lan always lived on the bare minimum, not eating or drinking anything. But wait. He suddenly remembered that these past few nights, Fu Lan always brought back soup for him and Lord Cat. Fu Lan had always been good at household chores. He hadn’t thought much about it and assumed it was soup that Lan had made himself. But it turns out this kid had taken the soup that someone else made for him and offered it to others.

Fu Lan wasn’t good with people, so he probably hadn’t thought much about it. But if this girl knew that all the bone broth she had painstakingly made for him had gone into someone else’s belly, she would be heartbroken. Qi Yin quietly covered his face, and Yun Zhi guessed what was going on. After all, he had also had a few sips of that soup. He pressed Qi Yin’s shoulder and tried to hold back his laughter.

Seeing Yun Zhi’s pained expression, Zhao Ming asked in confusion, “What’s wrong with you?”

Qi Yin covered his mouth and said, “Nothing. He’s sick. Just needs a beating.”

Qi Ling Shu stood in the shade of the tree, his pale face stretched tight like a hard piece of marble. He pursed his lips and said nothing.

Yun Zhi finally managed to hold back his laughter and opened his mouth, “Junior Sister is mistaken. Who said nobody wants to approach Junior Uncle? I’m quite happy to do so.” He smiled and hooked his arm around Qi Ling Shu’s neck, winking at him. “After all, we’ve been close since we were kids, wearing open-crotch pants together, right?”

Qi Ling Shu: “…”

The appearance of Yun Zhi, who was hugging and leaning on Qi Ling Shu, was truly rude. Qi Ling Shu looked like a helpless girl forced into his arms. Zhao Ming was so angry that his eyes turned black and he said, “You… quickly take your dirty hands off! My junior brother is a refined and elegant cultivator. How could someone like you touch him with your filthy hands?”

“Shut up,” Qi Ling Shu said.

Zhao Ming reluctantly closed his mouth and gave Yun Zhi a hateful look.

Qi Ling Shu pushed away Yun Zhi’s hand and asked Xin Xiao Xiao in a softer voice, “What is your ranking on the sword competition?”

Xin Xiao Xiao whispered, “Just the 100th place. I was injured and could have done better.”

There were at least three hundred disciples participating in the sword competition, so it was a remarkable achievement for this girl to rank in the top 100, especially since she had only recently started training, like Qi Yin. Qi Yin blushed.

Qi Ling Shu did not say anything else and collected his talisman, then turned around to lead the way. Xin Xiao Xiao saw him agree to bring her along and finally smiled. Everyone took out their monster-repelling sachets and held their talismans, using their swords to clear the way as they walked deeper into the forest.

They hurried along the way, and moonlight flowed silently through the dark forest. The grass was lush and grew as high as a person, with sharp stems and leaves that scraped their faces painfully. There was residual snow on the ground, and the dark soil was very muddy. Qi Ling Shu forbade anyone from speaking, and the forest was so silent that it felt like a stagnant pool, where not even the sound of birds could be heard. In the darkness, it seemed like countless pairs of eyes were watching them.

The Forbidden Forest was so different from Feng Huan. Qi Ling Shu remembered that in Feng Huan, the evening breeze was gentle, and a distant mermaid’s song floated softly like a woman’s delicate hand brushing across his cheeks. But now it was pitch black, and the trees and bushes formed a deep shadow that seemed to hide countless sharp claws and fangs.

Qi Ling Shu really wanted to know where his brother had gone, and what was in the Forbidden Forest that was attracting him. Why did he leave so suddenly? He knew nothing, and could only wait for that bastard to come back and provide him with some answers. The bitter aroma of wormwood mixed with the smell of decay from the forest wrapped around their noses. They passed by a pale monster corpse, skirted around a saltwater swamp, and finally arrived at Fu Lan’s landing site.

There was a large pit about ten yards in diameter, with a ring of bushes and trees that had collapsed all around it. It was definitely Fu Lan’s landing spot. The force of the descent and the impact of spiritual power had destroyed the surrounding vegetation, much like the huge pit he had made in the tapir’s dream.

Zhao Ming was dumbfounded. “Yun Lan’s body is really tough…”

Qi Ling Shu remained silent, carefully examining the pit and its surroundings with his talisman. There was a trail of footprints in the pit, which extended from the center all the way to the outside, but then disappeared in the bushes.

Zhao Ming murmured, “He fell from such a high place, and he can still walk upright?”

Ordinary people would have turned into minced meat if they fell like that, only Fu Lan had the divine power to come out unscathed. Seeing that they were about to be exposed, Yun Zhi walked over and said, “How could it be my junior brother? It must be a demon who carried him away. My junior brother has delicate skin and tender flesh, which demons love to eat.”

Qi Yin also squatted down and pretended to examine the footprints. “That’s right, these are not my brother’s footprints. My brother’s feet are seven point eight inches. This size is wrong.”

“We need to hurry then,” Xin Xiao Xiao said anxiously. “If he’s dragged back to the demon’s lair and eaten, even Nuwa may not be able to save him.”

The group immediately set off in the direction of the footprints. In the darkness, Yun Zhi walked up to Qi Yin and whispered, “Qi Ling Shu is acting strange.”

Even without him saying so, Qi Yin had already noticed. Their lies were full of loopholes. According to the depth of these footprints, there was no way that it could have been the weight of Fu Lan and a demon combined, and there were no footprints entering the pit. Others may not have noticed, but Qi Ling Shu had been following Qi Shen Wei to fight demons since he was young. There was no reason for him not to notice, but he remained silent. Qi Yin looked at the white-clothed man ahead of them. His face shrouded in moonlight and shadows, so Qi Yin was unable to discern his expression, but he felt a chilling aura.

Things were getting stranger and stranger. Qi Yin furrowed his brows, wondering how much this seemingly innocent man knew.

After walking for who knows how long, the eastern sky gradually brightened. The branches and leaves of the thornbush were soaked in light, as if covered with a layer of thin mercury. Faint mist flowed through the forest. Qi Ling Shu kept squatting down to examine the footprints, brushing aside wild grass and stems. There were many horseshoe-shaped footprints of horse demons, half-moon-shaped hoof prints of mules, and drag marks of snakes.

Everyone was exhausted. Qi Ling Shu turned around and said, “Rest for half a stick of incense.”

Only Qi Yin and Yun Zhi knew they had completely gone the wrong way. Qi Ling Shu had been checking the footprints all along, but Fu Lan had been jumping from tree to tree because Qi Yin had discovered Fu Lan’s shoe prints on the branches of several cypress trees an hour ago. Yun Zhi walked over to Qi Ling Shu and suggested, “Perhaps we should go to Elder Qi Shen Wei’s tomb and take a look.”

Qi Ling Shu looked at him, waiting for him to continue.

“We haven’t seen any remains of Yun Lan for so long. If he was eaten by demons, according to their habits, there would be bloodstains, broken limbs, and other remains left behind. This indicates that Yun Lan may have regained consciousness midway and found a way to escape,” Yun Zhi said confidently, despite lying.

Qi Ling Shu replied nonchalantly, “Go on.”

Yun Zhi unfolded a map and pointed to a red circle. “The nearest tomb is Elder Qi Shen Wei’s tomb. It’ll take about the time it takes to burn an incense stick to get there. Do you want to go and take a look?”

Qi Yin was sitting on a tree stump, massaging his legs. Qi Ling Shu was practically an iron man, running so far without even panting. He took out a water bag from his Qiankun bag, drank some water, and wiped his sweat with a handkerchief. The corners of the handkerchief had little blue fish embroidered by his brother, some wagging their tails, some blowing bubbles. Qi Yin touched the little fish and thought of Fu Lan, feeling resentful.

Suddenly, a low cry came from behind them. Qi Yin thought something had happened and hurried over. Zhong Ming and the others were gathered by the swamp, with Xin Xiao Xiao covering her nose, looking like she was about to vomit. The stench was too strong, making Qi Yin feel nauseous. Covering his mouth and nose, he approached and saw Qi Ling Shu and Yun Zhi squatting by a corpse.

The body was very strange, face down in the mud, with both hands twisted unnaturally behind his back, as if his arms had been twisted backward before he died. What was even more terrifying was the countless holes all over his body, as if he had been pierced by coarse needles all over.

Xin Xiao Xiao asked with red eyes, “Is it Lan Gege?”

Qi Yin comforted her, “Look at the height. It’s much shorter than my brother. It’s definitely not him.”

Yun Zhi was very brave and poked the holes on the body with a stick. “Could it have been killed by a porcupine spirit?”

The body was so mutilated that it barely looked human. Qi Yin asked, “Is this a person or a demon?”

“Why would there be people in the Forbidden Forest? Of course it’s a demon,” Zhong Ming said.

However… as Qi Yin looked at the corpse, the more he felt like it was a person. If a demon transformed into a human, it should revert back to its original form upon death.

Just as he was pondering this, Qi Ling Shu suddenly looked up and shouted, “It’s not dead. Back away!”

The corpse violently shook and its arms twisted like dough, the joints cracking with a teeth-grinding sound.