The strange bird emitted a mournful scream, and the sound wave rolled towards Qi Yin, causing everyone to scream in shock. Auntie pulled Yao Xiao Shan and the old lady and ran away, while Xiao Yuan crawled away. The nine long necks of the strange bird and its nine palm-sized, withered heads surrounded Qi Yin, and in the blink of an eye, Qi Yin’s mind went blank.
Am I going to die? His eighteen years of miserable life had finally come to an end.
However, at this moment, the glass beads on his wrist suddenly began to vibrate, and Qi Yin looked down to see the runes shining on the glass beads like flowing gold. At the same time, the temperature of the glass beads quickly rose, almost burning his wrist. The strange bird let out a sharp cry, and the nine bird beaks simultaneously lunged at Qi Yin. The runes suddenly shook, and they rapidly expanded into an illusion that enveloped Qi Yin. The strange bird bumped its head on the runes and was bounced back with great force, falling upside down into the flower bushes of the corridor.
The runes disappeared, and the glass beads suddenly broke into pieces and fell to the ground with a crackle. Qi Yin wanted to pick it up, but when he turned his head, he saw that the strange bird was about to get up again, so he quickly withdrew his hand and ran towards the backyard. There was a back door in the backyard that they could escape from. Qi Yin ran fast and caught up with the old lady and the others after a few steps. Everyone rushed towards the back door, but when they arrived, they were stunned to find that the door was locked with a big padlock, and the key was in Auntie’s bedroom.
The crying baby’s voice was getting closer and closer, and everyone looked at each other with panicked faces. This group of people consisted of an old lady and two weak women who couldn’t even walk properly, so even if they wanted to climb over the wall, they wouldn’t make it in time. Qi Yin made a quick decision: “Let’s go inside and hide!”
Everyone entered the old lady’s room, and Qi Yin gently closed the door and crouched against the wall. It was very dark inside, and the moon had been obscured by dark clouds at some point. As soon as the door was closed, they were plunged into darkness where they couldn’t even see their own hands. The crying sound was getting closer and clearer, until it was only separated by a wall. Everyone’s heart was in their throat as they listened to the crying sound outside the door.
Qi Yin was very uneasy. Yao Xiao Shan said that there were two strange birds, one outside and one inside. Where was the other one? Was it in someone’s belly? In his panic, he forgot to pick up the axe, and now he didn’t even have a weapon. Sweat was dripping down his forehead, and everyone else was also terrified of the strange bird outside, crouching silently in the darkness. Only he deliberately leaned closer to the door, so as not to be caught off guard if the bird decided to break in.
In the distance, a few more cries were heard, and Qi Yin’s heart trembled. He quietly broke the window screen and looked out, only to see the nine-headed bird and his uncle, whom he had beheaded, coming back to life. The broken head was gradually regenerating.
Qi Yin widened his eyes in shock. This strange bird couldn’t be killed!
“Killing monsters requires killing the heart.” Yao Xiao Shan appeared out of nowhere, startling Qi Yin. “I heard from a Daoist in the West Market that monsters that still have their hearts won’t die.” Tears streamed down his face as he said, “Xiao Yin, are we going to die today?”
“Don’t talk nonsense. When the immortal arrives at dawn, we’ll be saved,” Qi Yin muttered.
A cold hand grabbed his arm in the darkness, and Qi Yin was scared out of his wits. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be the old lady. What was going on with this family? Why did they like scaring people? The sound of rustling clothes could be heard, and it turned out that Auntie had also scooted over towards him, with only Xiao Yuan remaining by the floor lamp.
The old lady pointed to Xiao Yuan and then rubbed her own belly. It was too dark in the room, and Qi Yin had to look hard for a long time before realizing that Xiao Yuan was clutching her stomach and was now motionless, as if dead.
It turned out that the strange bird was inside Xiao Yuan’s stomach!
Qi Yin grabbed a nearby stool as a weapon, and everyone stared at Xiao Yuan intently. The cries resumed, pacing back and forth at the door, making their scalps tingle.
Xiao Yuan remained still, and the moon had appeared at some point, casting pale moonlight through the window, making the room a little brighter.
Suddenly, the old lady tugged at Qi Yin’s sleeve. Qi Yin turned his head in confusion, and under the moonlight, the old lady’s face was pale, like a paper mask. She was trembling and pointing to the shadow on the ground.
There were three shadows on the ground, with the old lady on the left, Yao Xiao Shan on the right, and Qi Yin in the middle. Auntie was squatting behind them, and her shadow was overlaid with theirs, making her invisible. What was wrong with this shadow? Qi Yin wondered. Suddenly, nine long, thin shadow tentacles emerged from the top of its head and danced like hair.
Qi Yin was chilled from head to toe in an instant.
They turned their heads and saw Auntie standing up with nine long necks stretching out of her mouth in a twisted posture.
The old lady and Yao Xiao Shan ran for the door. Qi Yin was closest to Auntie, and Auntie pounced on him. Qi Yin used a stool to block her, but she pushed him out of the door with her suddenly immense strength. Qi Yin’s hands bulged with veins as he tried to block the long neck of the strange bird that was climbing towards him. He looked up and saw a nine-headed bird perched on the eaves, its nine pairs of eyes staring at him viciously. Qi Yin was almost in tears. The bird flapped its wings and pounced straight at him.
Suddenly, a cold arc of light appeared, as if a corner of the night had been torn open. The arc of light pierced the body of the strange bird directly, and Qi Yin watched as the bird was torn into pieces, with its stinking blood spilling all over him. Auntie was startled and trembled, and the nine heads of the bird retracted into her mouth as she climbed onto the roof with her hands and feet.
Qi Yin was lifted up by a pale hand, and when he turned his head, he saw the man in black who had the fat cat on his shoulder. The fat cat jumped into his arms and spat out a glass bead into his hand, “The Evil-Expelling Glass Bead can suppress breath and ward off demons. We demons recognize people by their breath, and this thing has hidden you. No wonder we couldn’t find you.” Seeing the cat talk like a human, Qi Yin almost dropped it.
“You, you, you, you…” Qi Yin was stunned.
The nine-headed bird was still screeching, and Auntie and Uncle’s dead bodies chased Yao Xiao Shan and the old lady around the courtyard, but they did not come towards Fu Lan and Qi Yin. The black cat said, “You’re a brave kid, treating the demon egg like a treasure. Jiutou Niao likes to eat human hearts, liver, and intestines, and it just hatched, so it’s hungry. If it weren’t for this old cat and the fool arriving in time, you would have lost your life too. Oh, by the way, where’s your mother? Why don’t we see her?”
On the other side, Yao Xiao Shan was about to be caught by his uncle. Qi Yin ignored the nonsense and hurriedly bowed to Fu Lan. “Please help my cousin and grandmother. Qi Yin will be extremely grateful!”
Fu Lan did not move, only looked at the eaves and said, “Someone is coming.”
There was a sharp whistle from the roof, as if it would pierce through the head. A bright flash of light arrived in an instant, simultaneously piercing the chest and abdomen of Uncle and Auntie. Blood splattered, and the two fell to the ground like torn sacks, motionless.
Sword glare flew in the sky, the dark clouds dispersed, and the moon reappeared in the sky. Two men in white flew down and lightly landed in the courtyard.
The man in front took a long bow with folded sleeves, like a white butterfly that had folded its wings. He had a delicate smile on his face and said, “Zhao Ran of Wu Fang Mountain arrived a step too late.”
The old lady crawled to her feet in tears, crying out, “Immortal, immortal, you finally came!”
Xiao Yuan crawled out of the house, holding her stomach. Qi Yin saw a puddle of blood under her, realizing that she had a miscarriage.
“I’m sorry for your loss, old lady. This humble Daoist saw demonic energy soaring in here, so I hurried over with my sword, but I didn’t expect…” Zhao Ran looked at the Yao couple on the ground, shook his head and sighed, “I didn’t expect to be late.”
The old lady cried so hard that she couldn’t catch her breath.
Zhao Ran turned to Fu Lan and said, “This young friend killed with his claws, seeming to be a member of the demonic path. Does the Yao family’s demon bird have anything to do with you?”
Qi Yin was still in a daze, but when he heard this, he quickly pulled Fu Lan behind him and said, “It has nothing to do with him. He is my friend who came to save me.”
Zhao Ran smiled and said, “It’s good that it has nothing to do with him. This humble Daoist came to take the orphan of Elder Qi back to the mountain. It’s not good to create trouble.”
His smile was like a mask, making Qi Yin feel uneasy. He looked at Fu Lan again, but he still had the same indifferent expression, as if he didn’t care about anything.
Zhao Ran looked at the old lady again and said, “Old lady, where is Qi Yin? Or has he already died in the demon’s belly?”
There was silence. The old lady looked at Qi Yin through tears and was about to speak, but Qi Yin asked first, “Forgive my impudence, may I ask this immortal, why did Wu Fang Mountain not ask about Qi Yin for 18 years, but suddenly wants to take him back?”
Zhao Ran smiled. “You misunderstand, Wu Fang Mountain has never been responsible for monitoring Qi Yin. Those who cultivate the Dao cut off their emotions and desires. Eighteen years ago, when Elder Qi went to Wu Jiang to subdue demons, Qi Yin’s mother did not repay his kindness and instead seduced the elder, leading him away from the right path and into a delusion of desire. Fortunately, the elder eventually realized his mistake, returned to the immortal mountain, and did not lose his decades of cultivation. That woman raised Qi Yin alone, but later he had to bury her bones in the river. It was his mother who reaped what she had sown. What does it have to do with our immortal mountain?”
“Bury her bones in the river?” Fu Lan suddenly spoke up, “Did A Fu die?”
“A Fu?” Zhao Ran said, “If you are referring to Qi Yin’s mother, Meng Fu Niang, she was dragged into the river by water ghosts when Qi Yin was only five years old.”
Fu Lan fell into a long silence, and Qi Yin remained silent for a while before asking, “Did Elder Qi tell you that Qi Yin’s mother seduced him?”
“Of course,” Zhao Ran said, “The elder returned to the sect not long after and confessed his mistake to the whole sect during the morning assembly. He also punished himself by meditating on the Repentance Cliff for eight years to show his regret. To recognize one’s mistake and make amends is the greatest goodness. The path of immortality is long and arduous. The fact that the elder can repent is still something we all respect. Unfortunately, the elder went to Ying He to eliminate water ghosts and was killed. The sect leader sympathized with the elder and also took into account that the mother’s mistake should not affect the child, so he sent me to bring back Qi Yin. If he can inherit the elder’s mantle, it would also be a fortunate event.”
Qi Yin pointed to Yao Xiao Shan. “He is Qi Yin; take him with you. His dad left him a glass bead that shattered when he was fighting the monster bird. It’s in the front yard.”
Yao Xiao Shan looked at Qi Yin in shock and stuttered, “C-cousin, d-do you not want me anymore?”
“Didn’t you always want to go?” Qi Yin turned his head to see the broken corpse on the ground; his eyes darkened, “Don’t let Madam down.”
He turned around and picked up the cloth bundle that had fallen in the front yard. He made a bow to the Yao family grandmother. “Matriarch, I’m leaving. Take care of yourself.”
The old lady held his hand and wept. “Can’t you wait until morning before leaving?”
“Take all the silver notes with you,” she said. “Take them all.”
He shook his head to decline, walked to the door, and suddenly remembered that the door was bolted. He thought of going back to get the key, but Fu Lan flicked his finger, and the lock broke. The door creaked open, revealing the dark alley outside and the heavy night sky. He looked back and saw Yao Xiao Shan and the old woman weeping while holding the corpses. Xiao Yuan stood in the corridor with empty eyes, and Zhao Ran stood next to them with an indifferent expression.
“When you become a cultivator, you must sever all worldly ties and emotions,” Qi Yin thought to himself. “How could you care about such trivial worldly affairs?”
The other cultivator held a sword and turned his head to look at him. He had not spoken all this time. He wore a black glove on his right hand and had a strange expression on his face.
Qi Yin frowned and turned to leave. Behind him, he heard Zhao Ran’s voice, “Young man, let me give you a word of advice. The path of demons is not the right way. It is better not to associate with them. If you must befriend them, do not indulge in their ways, or you will be doomed forever.”
Qi Yin did not respond. Fu Lan stopped walking and turned around. “He’s not my friend,” he said.
“Oh?” Zhao Ran raised an eyebrow.
“He’s my new bride,” Fu Lan said.
The cries in the courtyard suddenly stopped. Everyone was silent for a moment. Zhao Ran said, “That’s even worse, young man. Homosexuality is also not the right way. Please think carefully.”