While they were making a commotion, Ye Qing Ming suddenly pushed open the door, and daylight poured in, shining directly on Qi Yin’s face, who was only wearing shorts and was pressed down. Ye Qing Ming’s scarred face showed bewilderment. “What’s happening here?”
The senior brothers retreated one after another. “It’s a misunderstanding, Fourth Martial Uncle. We’re just playing.”
“Don’t play around without any sense of propriety here. This is not our wild mountain. If you get caught and sent to the disciplinary hall for spanking, don’t blame me for not saving you.” Ye Qing Ming raised his chin and said, “Yun Zhi, Yun Lan, and Yun Yin, come out and follow me.”
Qi Yin quickly put on his clothes and followed Ye Qing Ming out. Under the cloudy sky, Qing Ming said, “Wu Fang caught that pig demon and is interrogating it in the secret chamber. We are invited to listen in. Don’t speak too much. Wu Fang’s gang of old thieves are very cunning. Yun Lan, has that pig demon seen you before? Does it know what you look like?”
Fu Lan said he knew.
Ye Qing Ming whispered, “This is bad.” He continued, “If I had known, I would have asked the fattie to help change your appearance. Anyway, let’s go take a look and act accordingly.”
Qi Yin was puzzled. “Why not just keep the pig demon from seeing us?”
As they approached the secret chamber, Qi Yin instinctively quieted down and followed Qing Ming inside. It wasn’t until they were inside that he understood why they didn’t have to worry about being seen by the pig demon.
The secret chamber was a huge hall, completely dark, and one could not see their own hands in front of their face. Only a beam of pale light shone down onto the center of the hall, where the pig demon sat cross-legged under the light. Both of his hands and feet were shackled by iron chains, and a pair of fierce eyes were visible under his unkempt hair.
As they entered, Qi Yin almost stumbled but was caught by Fu Lan. Once he adjusted to the darkness, he saw that the surrounding area was made of pure black marble steps, with deep and shallow symbols carved on each step. Occasionally, a barely perceptible silver light flowed through them, which Qi Yin recognized as symbols that prohibited divine consciousness. The center of the room was the lowest point, with each level increasing in height as it went around. At each level sat a black silhouette. In this way, no matter where one sat, they could see the pig demon at the bottom, but the pig demon could not see them.
They sat at the highest level, and gradually, others came and sat down, but they were all sitting far apart, making it difficult to see their faces. Yun Zhi leaned over and pointed to the person sitting alone on the lowest level, with their back facing everyone. “That’s Qi Ling Shu.”
“How do you know?” Qi Yin asked.
Yun Zhi shrugged. “That’s just how he is. He likes to be alone wherever he goes. If you want to be cool in the future, you should learn from him.”
They were too far away, and Qi Yin could only vaguely see his back. He could see his tall and straight spine and the long sword beside him. The scabbard was also hidden in the darkness, occasionally revealing a bleak light. That guy was far away from everyone else, like a lone pine tree standing in the snow.
The interrogation began, and an old voice from the high platform in front said, “Fu Lan, do you know what you did wrong?”
It was a familiar opening line, and Qi Yin found it a bit boring. It was always used in interrogations by the big shots, and the accussed always answered, “What have I done wrong?”
But this pig demon was different. He lifted his head and said in a cold and sinister tone, “I’ll fck your grandparents, fck your entire family, fck your ancestors for eighteen generations!” The pig demon pointed at the shadows on the platform one by one. “I’ll fck you, you, you, and you! And especially you!”
It was like throwing a firecracker into the hall; everyone was outraged. Some people stood up and shouted, “You’re talking nonsense! Your words are foul!”
Others cursed, “You evil creature! Shameless!”
Others shouted angrily, “We don’t want you to fck us! If you fck us, we’ll become pigs!”
The people from Wu Fang were terrible at cursing, which made Qing Ming, Yun Zhi, and Qi Yin unable to hold back their laughter. They were giggling so hard that they didn’t notice the room had gone silent. Everyone in the darkness was staring at them coldly. The three of them quickly covered their mouths.
The people on the platform spoke again, “Let me ask you. Did you have anything to do with the slaughter of the entire village of He Li within eight miles outside of Yong Zhou City?”
“Who are you? Where’s Qi Ling Shu? Is he here? Let him do the questioning!” The pig demon sneered.
“I am Elder Yuan Yin, one of the twelve elders of Wu Fang Sect. You must answer my questions truthfully!” Yuan Yin said sternly.
So it was Yuan Yin. Qi Yin had heard of him before. They said he was well-versed in various books and was skilled at annotating and collating ancient texts. He was responsible for most of the annotated versions of ancient scriptures available on the market today. Qi Yin also heard that Yuan Yin taught the course on scriptural studies, which he was planning to take in the future.
Yuan Yin was most famous for his Daoist theory, “The Original God.” In it, he proposed that there was no such thing as gods and goddesses. He believed that Fu Xi and Nu Wa were nothing more than clay figurines created by ancient people in times of disaster. The so-called shamanic possession was merely a state of frenzy induced by consuming hallucinogenic plants such as poppy, mandrake, and mushroom. Ancient people saw this frenzy as a way to communicate with the spirits. Southern China was indeed rich in poppy, and many people thought Yuan Yin’s theory made sense. After all, for thousands of years, no one had ever seen any real evidence of the existence of the gods and goddesses recorded in ancient texts. Some places claimed that there were great gods that had appeared, but it was all just a hoax. As for ancient ruins like Anyang Yin Xu, there was no trace of any gods ever being active there. As for the Ba Mountain Temple, no one could enter it, so it was not worth discussing.
“Okay.” The pig demon scratched his ear. “Call me dad and maybe I’ll answer. I love my sons, you know. “
“You evil creature!” Yuan Yin slammed the table in anger.
It was obvious that this pig demon was not going to cooperate, so when was this going to end? Qi Yin was speechless. Yun Zhi whispered to him that Wu Fang always followed the same routine: first they would ask questions, and if they couldn’t get any answers, they would resort to torture. This would demonstrate their virtue as gentlemen, as they wouldn’t mistreat prisoners without a good reason.
Qi Yin found it boring and didn’t want to listen anymore, so he wandered over to Fu Lan. Fu Lan was looking down, his bangs covering his eyes. Obviously, he wasn’t listening either. When he was silent, he was like a transparent person in a crowd, as if he didn’t exist in this world.
Qi Yin took his hand and wrote in his palm, “What are you doing?”
Fu Lan was stunned. Qi Yin’s fingers tickled as he wrote on his palm, but he restrained himself from pulling away. He waited for Qi Yin to finish before writing in his palm, “Meditating.”
Qi Yin wrote again, “What are you thinking about?”
Fu Lan wrote back, “Nothing, just daydreaming.”
Qi Yin: “……”
Qi Yin learned his lesson. From now on, when he was daydreaming, he would tell others that he was meditating.
“That evil creature. He’s making me so angry!” The pig demon was still not cooperating, and Yuan Yin was coughing violently.
Everyone sighed, some suggesting to torture him directly. In the midst of the discussion, a figure who sat alone in the lowest seat row suddenly stood up and walked to the opposite side of the pig demon, bowing deeply to Yuan Yin. “Ling Shu is willing to take over the interrogation.”
Yuan Yin finally breathed a sigh of relief and waved his hand to indicate approval. Qi Ling Shu sat opposite the pig demon. Qi Yin still couldn’t see his face clearly, but he could see a thin shadow. His sleeves hung down to the ground, with a corner exposed in the light, as pure and simple as white snow. In the darkness, he spoke in a cold and chilly voice, “He Li Village outside of Yong Zhou city. The whole village was slaughtered. Was that you?”
“Yes, it was me.” The pig demon finally confessed, laughing coldly.
“Was it you who massacred the entire village by the shore of Xiang River?”
“Yes, it was me.”
“Was it also you who destroyed the village outside the city of Heng Zhou?”
“Yes, it was me.”
“On the ninth day of March this year, two disciples under the tutelage of Elder Bai Jue Ming of Zhong Gu Mountain, Gui Xin and Gui Shan, went missing; on the eleventh day of March, thirty disciples from Zi Zai Sect went missing; on the twenty-first day of March, forty-seven disciples from the Xiao Yao Sect went missing; and on the eighth day of April, five disciples from Wu Fang Mountain went missing. What have you done?”
Qi Yin was taken aback and instinctively looked at Yun Zhi and Ye Qing Ming. The two of them rarely became serious, but they were now standing with their arms crossed, staring at the ground.
The pig demon chuckled. “I kill whoever I see and cut down any Daoist I come across. How would I know who I’ve killed and which family they belonged to? You can’t expect me to kill someone and then check their household registration, and put up a banner saying, ‘This corpse is named so-and-so and was killed by me, Fu Lan.'”
“Who else could have done it if not you!?” someone stood up and shouted in anger, but was quickly restrained by the people around them.
Qi Ling Shu waved his sleeve, and pieces of paper flew out of his wide sleeves and slowly unfolded in front of the pig demon. They were all portraits of Daoists, both male and female, some flying on swords, some reading and writing. Suppressed weeping came from the audience, presumably fellow disciples of the missing Daoists. Qi Ling Shu asked, “Do you recognize any of them?”
“You all look the same to me. But, Qi Ling Shu, I do remember what you look like very clearly,” the pig demon said.
Someone couldn’t help but shout loudly, “Why waste so much time talking with him? Just use the ‘Soul-Reading’ technique to see his memories directly. If he is guilty, the truth will naturally come to light.”
Qi Yin was startled. He had heard of the Soul-Reading technique before. The practitioner could read the memories of the recipient. However, if one was not careful, the spiritual force would shock the soul, and the recipient would become a fool. This was bad news. That idiot recognized Fu Lan, and the two of them must have met in the southern region. If the Soul-Reading technique was used, Fu Lan would certainly be exposed.
More and more people agreed to use the Soul-Reading technique. Qi Yin was terrified and turned to look at Fu Lan, who was motionless with eyelids lowered, as calm as a wooden man.
“Brother.” Qi Yin poked him.
Fu Lan lifted his eyes, his gaze indifferent. He touched Qi Yin’s head and said softly, “Don’t be afraid.”
His voice was light and flat, with no ups and downs, like a breeze passing over the treetops. But somehow, Qi Yin’s heart settled down, as if with Fu Lan around, any problem could be solved effortlessly.
However, he didn’t know that Fu Lan’s approach had always been the simplest and most direct, and that was killing.
Fu Lan lowered his eyes again and adjusted his breathing, his muscles tense like a sword about to be unsheathed. He closed his eyes and listened carefully to the heartbeats of everyone in the secret chamber. He had extremely powerful hearing, and he could capture everyone’s breathing and heartbeat without releasing his divine sense. Under the clamor of cursing voices, each heartbeat was like a small drum, beating vigorously. The most dangerous was the old man on the fifth level, thin and hidden in the deep shadows, his breathing wheezing like an ice snake. Then there was Qi Ling Shu on the lowest level. The young man in white had a steady and calm heartbeat, like a Buddha.
Once the Soul-Reading technique was activated, Fu Lan would instantly appear behind the old man in black and crush his heart. Then he would flash in front of Qi Ling Shu and cut off his throat. These two actions would only take two blinks of an eye. Then he would take Qi Yin, find the black cat, and leave Wu Fang.
As more and more people agreed to use the Soul-Reading technique, Fu Lan opened his eyes in the dark with a calm killing intent in his jet-black pupils. The secret chamber was noisy, like boiling hot water bubbling, and no one noticed that this quiet and almost invisible man was ten thousand times more dangerous than that pig demon.
The killing intent was about to be unleashed.