“That’s a Spirit Guiding Light!”
Wen Xiaoyi squinted her large, elegant eyes and stared at the sweep of strange green glow in the sky.
Wen Leyang asked “What is a Spirit Guiding Light?” as he retrieved two carrots from his pocket, giving one to Wen Xiaoyi.
Wen Xiaoyi pointed the carrot upwards and stomped her feet in irritation as she said, “How could you not know what a Spirit Guiding Light is? The people of Crow Ridge use them to lead the corpses to their destination. While grandfather is dealing with the Miao Clan of Seven Maidens Mountain, the people from Crow Ridge have seized the opportunity to sneak up on us! What should we do?! The villagers of Crow Ridge raise, refine and control dead corpses. Their practice is not based on any magic arts passed down from the mountain ancestors nor the martial art practice from the Tuo Xie Sect. Instead, it is a strange dark art passed down from oblique stone inscriptions. It is one of the evilest forms of dark arts in the world!”
“But…” Wen Xiaoyi paused in her speech and gazed upon the dark clouds in the sky while a cute little question mark formed in the wrinkle between her eyebrows as she asked, “How could the people of Crow Ridge dare to release the Spirit Guiding Lights at this moment?”
Wen Leyang remained calm and composed while munching on his carrot and said, “If they are capable of coming here, what else would they not dare to do?”
Wen Xiaoyi twitched her lips and muttered under her breath ’he’s so ignorant’. She then continued her explanation, “The Spirit Guiding Light of Crow Ridge is similar to the legendary venomous insect called the Ben Ming of the Miao Clan. They take a lot of effort to release and the Spirit Guiding Light is most afraid of rainwater. Once the light is extinguished the resulting backlash will cause severe injuries to the person who released the light.”
Wen Leyang laughed and thought, one should not fly a kite in the rain.
Wen Xiaoyi looked at him with slight astonishment, she was amazed that he could still laugh in this situation.
Wen Leyang had transformed from the anxious and terrified person from before into a calm and collected mood, munching on his carrot while wearing a reserved yet modest smile on his face.
“Do you have a plan to deal with them?” Asked Xiaoyi anxiously.
Upon hearing this question, Wen Leyang pressed his lips together and gave a forced smile while saying, “We can neither run nor hide, so what’s there to be afraid of?” After saying that his regained his solemn expression and said, “You should go back and hide in the house. Don’t come out unless you hear me calling for you.”
Wen Xiaoyi firmly shook her head and disagreed, “It’s safer for me to follow by your side!”
There was a squeaking sound and the old man, Wen Shulin, tottered out with hasty steps. He carried a long cylindrical package wrapped in a cloth and said, “This is for you. It may come in useful!” He stuffed the cloth-wrapped bundle into Wen Xiaoyi’s hands and rapidly retreated back into his home.
Wen Leyang and Wen Xiaoyi unwrapped the bundle and opened the package with anticipation. Inside was a rusty blunderbuss with a flared muzzle. There were a few small leather pouches tied to its barrel and each contained iron pellets, gunpowder, flint, and rock. The firearm was extremely antiquated and one could trace its time of production back to the late Qing Dynasty. This meant that it was difficult to operate and had a very short range. This ancient weapon would come in handy if one were frustrated after being defeated in a ping pong match but if it were a tennis match then this firearm would be of no use unless the opponent preferred to play near the net.
Wen Xiaoyi was smart and it did not take long before she figured out how to use the blunderbuss. She first loaded a few iron pellets and gunpowder into the muzzle before removing the paper from the barrel. She then hit the flint on the rock several times to ignite a spark, after which she pointed the muzzle of the blunderbuss towards the sky while muttering: “I am not sure if this is…” Boom! With a bang, a clump of black smoke erupted from the muzzle and Xiaoyi was so petrified that she spun in circles.
One can say that older things were made with better quality as this antique blunderbuss was still usable despite how ancient it was.
The Spirit Guiding Light glimmered with a brilliant green light and stood out from the dark sea of the night sky. In a short period of time, it had already floated all the way to the sky above the Red Leaves Forest.
Wen Leyang and Wen Xiaoyi faced the direction of the Spirit Guiding Light. He then turned and instructed Wen Xiaoyi in a hushed tone, “Please help me load the blunderbuss!” They can now see that The Spirit Guiding Light was a green colored lantern as it floated serenely about 20 meters above them.
Wen Xiaoyi easily reloaded the iron pellets, filled up the gunpowder and extracted the paper with dexterous and agile movements. She then handed the loaded weapon to Wen Leyang saying, “The light is too high, I’m afraid you may not be able to hit it.”
“I shall at least give it a try!” said Wen Leyang as he carefully aimed the blunderbuss. While doing so he noticed that the blunderbuss did not have a sight bead. He thought that he had indeed never seen a gun with a flared muzzle that came with a sight bead.
A loud bang was heard, followed by a veil of thick black smoke in the air. All of a sudden a pained and shrill howl came from mid-air a shadowy human figure slammed heavily into the ground. Wen Leyang shoved Wen Xiaoyi behind him as he shuffled backwards. He tossed the firearm aside and hooked both of his index fingers slightly into his sleeves, picking up a smear of poison. The rattling sound of the distinctive Wen family’s finger snapping was heard, which to common people sounded as loud as the roaring laughter of the grim reaper.
Yuan the beast boy crouched on the ground piteously while covering his buttocks which were riddled with a thousand gaping wounds. He glared bitterly at the two then ran away limping.
Wen Leyang sighed apologetically as he looked towards the sight of Yuan limping and hobbling away. He exclaimed, “That blunderbuss, once fired it covers a wide range…” The Spirit Guiding Light was unharmed and remained suspended in mid-air, the green flame appearing to burn more enchantingly over time.
The stuffy air now carried a putrid smell. An indistinct dull noise could be heard reverberating from the foot of the mountain where the Red Leaves Forest is located.
Wen Xiaoyi ran back and picked up the blunderbuss. Compared to Wen Leyang, she seemed to have more confidence in handling the big-muzzled weapon and declared, “The evil corpses shall not enter the forest. It seems that Grandpa’s prohibition spell is effective not only towards the living.”
Though the three families of Wen, Miao, and Luo did not have any direct conflict in their two thousand years of existence, they had always thought of one another as the enemy. Therefore the prohibition spell set up by Fourth Elder Wen at the border of the forest also dealt with the undead.
Wave upon wave of putrid wind blew through the mountains and the rank stench flowed thickly through the Red Leaves Forest. From afar, a thick strand of a black-colored thread-like object could suddenly be seen weaving through the lush forest beneath the mountain. A row of trees shuddered and no more than ten minutes later a black giant serpent slithered from the foot of the mountain towards the Forest. The body of the snake was bigger than the biggest millstone and as it glided along, shrubs and slender trees would be crushed into splinters by its gigantic body.
Thousands of violet arcs swept across the dark clouds and soon after the whole sky was lacerated by lightning akin to the pattern of a leaf vein. The dull growl of thunder followed and combined with the crashing sound of the giant serpent moving through the forest, it caused a huge explosion of sound in the once-still forest.
A storm was about to strike!
Wen Leyang had never before seen a serpent this massive in his life. It could be estimated that if a person were to walk upright into the snake’s stomach they would have passed its throat with ease without causing the snake to choke. Wen Xiaoyi uttered, “Good gracious!” Panic-stricken, she unintentionally aimed the blunderbuss at Wen Leyang’s head while asking “How did the Luo family learn to summon a giant snake?”
Wen Leyang hastily jumped aside, for even if the blunderbuss had limited range, it would still be able to damage him if it had misfired from this distance.
The thing that they found most surprising was that such a gigantic serpent was hiding in their backyard, as any regular meat processing factory could only generate enough food to feed it for no more than three days.
As the huge serpent glided into the Red Leaves Forest, the surrounding trees abruptly shivered as a multitude of red leaves started dropping from their branches. In the blink of an eye, thousands upon thousands of red leaves rained towards the ground until it enveloped the air, blocked the sight and suffocated the breath.
Wen Leyang and Wen Xiaoyi were stunned by the unexpected beauty of the scene.
Both beauty and devastation were separated only by a leaf.
A red leaf spun in mid-air, as if it was trying to turn over and gaze at the branch it had previously been growing on, before falling and converging into a scarlet curtain a few hundred miles long. Every single leaf seemed to know where to fall, and they enveloped the body of the giant snake in a red tide. Each time a red leaf touched its body, the giant serpent would shudder in agony and screech valiantly. It was obviously struggling with all its might.
Before long, the tens of meters long giant serpent was entirely covered in a layer of red leaves, leaving only its head and eyes visible. A thick black fluid began gushing out of the serpent’s body, dribbling between the gaps in the leaves as wisps of gray smoke rose continuously from the serpent.
A powerful corrosive poison was stored within these red leaves; not only was this form of assault effective against a giant snake, even a Transformer who entered the forest would be melted into a metal lump.
Wen Leyang goggled with excitement at this protective measure. These trees were only a species of a red camphor tree. Even if Fourth Elder Wen were to have nothing to do, it would be impossible for him to paint the poison onto each individual leaf. As the leaves would wilt every winter, this task would have been insurmountable. Therefore he concluded that the poison must have been infused through the root of the tree.
Wen Xiaoyi too was beaming with joy as she explained to him proudly, “Grandfather told me that this particular poison prescription is known as the –Ten Yards of Prosperous Cities .”
The name of the poison signified that Fourth Elder Wen was an avid reader of classical romanticism literature and that his taste in conjuring ideas was much more delicate than the wrinkles on his face.
The huge serpent continued to struggle futilely and each time it shuddered, big chunks of gray-white flesh would peel off its body. It whipped about and made a hair-raising screeching sound.
The Ten Yards of Prosperous Cities was extremely poisonous towards living and dead beings. It will take only an instant for the poison within the Red Leaves Forest to corrode a trespasser into a pool of black fluid. However, Fourth Elder Wen had obviously not expected the intruder to be of such a gigantic size. Despite being corroded with hundreds upon thousands of gaping holes all over its body, the giant serpent was still moving.
The giant serpent, in its agony, completely disregarded both Wen Leyang and Wen Xiaoyi as it raised its head towards the Spirit Guiding Light. It seemed to realize that it was on the verge of deteriorating beyond its limits and it leaped up abruptly! With its body covered by millions of red leaves, it looked like a wrathful red dragon.
However, the giant serpent’s body had been thoroughly corroded and it turned rigid halfway through its jump, causing it to drop heavily from the air. Underneath the scarlet covering of red leaves, the serpent’s body was full of holes, with some as big as a wash basin. Even if it were a train it would have been dead by now.
Lightning intertwined in the sky, illuminating the scene for a split second.
The giant serpent’s body crashed onto the ground and broke apart into a million pieces. Fragments of scale and chunks of flesh were splattered all over the Red Leaves Forest.
Wen Leyang released a long relieved sigh and muttered, “Ten Yards of Prosperous Cities!” He grabbed a carrot from his chest pocket, snapping it in two and passing half of it to Wen Xiaoyi. Despite the release of the red leaf rain, numerous red leaves could still be seen on the tree branches. There were more than enough to still take on a few giant serpents.
Wen Xiaoyi swung the big-muzzled weapon over her shoulder and grabbed the carrot but Wen Leyang would not let go of his hold. He was looking intensely at the giant serpent’s head, something about it seemed to have completely captivated him…
The giant serpent had made a grand entrance with a powerful presence, followed immediately by the rain of red leaves that had sent it tossing and tumbling. The storm that had split the night sky with lightning and thunder also seemed to have calmed down after the serpent was killed and it was now absolutely silent. Wen Leyang finally realized that something was not right with the giant serpent.
It had no eyes…
Within the eye sockets as big as teacups there were no eyeballs, only a pair of deep black caves where its eyes should be while terrified maggots wriggled their plump bodies, trying with all their might to crawl out of the giant serpent’s eye sockets.