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Wen Xiaoyi’s eyesight was much weaker than Wen Leyang’s as he enhanced his eyesight by rinsing his carrot snack in mildly poisoned medicinal wine. She squinted her huge eyes for a long time before she could comprehend that those creatures resembling white flowers were actually maggots! She cried out fearfully and without needing to think twice, she raised the blunderbuss and fired at the snake’s head.

A blast of iron pellets hit the head and turned it into a pulp.

An astounded Wen Leyang exclaimed hoarsely, “How is this possible?” The blunderbuss had limited destructive power, as evidenced by the shot fired on Yuan’s buttocks earlier which only left him with minor wounds. Yet the formerly rock-solid giant snake’s head in front of his eyes looked like a piece of bean curd that had been shot from afar into a mushy splatter.

The Spirit Guiding Light still hung in the night sky while the maggots in the empty eye sockets and the snake’s head had decayed beyond recognition.

Wen Leyang took a bite of the carrot and laughed in a sudden revelation, “The snake was already dead! The Spirit Guiding Light of Crow Ridge was even capable of enchanting a giant snake’s corpse, Wen Xiao…eh?” He turned his head around but he could not see Wen Xiaoyi.

The little girl lay flat on the ground with her eyes and mouth askew as she held the big-muzzled weapon horizontally across her body. The weapon may have a limited range of fire but its recoil was still significant enough to knock her off her feet.

Wen Leyang quickly helped her up. Wen Xiaoyi’s face was ashen as she held her chest with her little hands and shakily said, “This blunderbuss, there is a lot of difference between shooting it straight and shooting from another angle.” She had fallen hard and the back of her head had suffered a direct hit on the ground.

Wen Leyang pointed the half-eaten carrot in his hands at the Spirit Guiding Light, then towards the shattered giant serpent’s corpse on the ground and exclaimed, “The people from the outside are using the Spirit Guiding Light to draw this giant serpent’s corpse into the forest. Fortunately, Fourth Elder Wen’s Ten Yards of Prosperous Cities  poison was able to counter it. However…”

Wen Xiaoyi had studied almost all of the books at the Life Trademark and therefore had a stronger theoretical foundation compared to Wen Leyang. She was able to understand the situation more profoundly and shook her head before saying, “The people from Crow Ridge are not evil spirits. They practice spirit guiding with a unique approach; they can only control and manipulate corpses under specific conditions and this only works for human corpses. If they could control any corpses including both humans and animals, the entire earth’s population would have soon adopted the family name of ‘Luo’.” She had only learned the word and concept of ‘earth’ after meeting Wen Leyang.

Wen Leyang’s eyes appeared unusually bright in contrast to the pitch-black night sky as he said, “You know, it would be impossible for such a gigantic corpse to crawl all the way from Crow Ridge to Nine Peaks Mountain without anyone noticing. It would have made the top news for today’s episode of ‘Good Morning America’ for sure. This means that the Luo did not resurrect the corpse at Crow Ridge and lead it here using the Spirit Guiding Light, instead the snake must have been…dead at Nine Peaks Mountain since the beginning.” A snake that could grow this gigantic, regardless of what species it was, would surely be blessed with great wisdom and perceptiveness. It would not be unusual for a dying snake to seek out an untouched cave filled with terrestrial Yin forces when approaching its death.

Wen Leyang may not be as astute in Chinese Martial Arts as the naturally talented seniors of his village but that does not mean he was of low intelligence. In comparison, he was much smarter in his own way. As the saying goes, a person who was lacking in intention could never accomplish anything remarkable, yet with the exceptional incident that had just occurred, one can discover many ways of overcoming it through careful and attentive consideration.

Lost in thought, Wen Leyang munched on his crunchy carrot and muttered, “If the Luo cannot control dead snakes, then how would this giant serpent that has died god-knows-how-many-years ago end up here?”

“It crawled its way from over there.” Xiaoyi had yet to realize how uninformative her answer was.

Wen Leyang shook his head in all seriousness and asked, “Well if the Spirit Guiding Light was not used for guiding the snake, what was it used for then?”

Half of Wen Xiaoyi’s brain cells were responsible for the memorization of those ancient books she had read. The half was responsible for the caretaking of Fourth Elder Wen and a few other people’s daily lives. Now a few of those cells had been redistributed to study about the earth, rockets, and carrots, so she had no interest in deriving a logical explanation for the situation at hand. This was clearly shown by her impatient expression and voice as she said, “Perhaps the Luo of Crow Ridge had figured out a method to draw out dead snakes, we should just wait for grandfather’s return to inquire him about it. It looks like it will rain soon, we should get inside the house quickly! As long as grandfather’sTen Yards of Prosperous Cities  is here, I bet nobody will dare to enter the forest!”

Wen Leyang could not figure out a logical explanation either and he could only nod his head in agreement, “I will have to cover up the snake’s head to prevent it from getting wet and await Fourth Elder Wen’s return…hey!” His speech was left hanging as he stared at the giant snake’s skull that was the size of a minivan on the ground.

A little snake with pure black scales and white pupils, roughly the length of a foot, was slowly slithering out of the giant serpent’s mouth. On the little snake’s back grew two hideous symmetrical tumors that at first glance looked like a pair of deformed wings.

Dark clouds filled the sky as the stuffy air weighed down heavily upon the Red Leaves Forest. Finally, the breaking point came and an ear-piercing crack followed an exploding arc of lightning akin to a sharp-edged razor that split the sky and the heavens opened up into a torrential downpour!

During the flash of the lightning, We Leyang was astounded to see clearly that the little black snake also had no eyes. The place where its eyes should be was solely dotted by two milky white scales.

The little snake extended its body under the heavy rain. It stretched itself lazily before it perked its body upright and swayed its little head in all four directions as if it was searching for something.

The Spirit Guiding Light which had been floating in midair was extinguished by the heavy rain. As the light died, a bloodcurdling shriek was heard from outside the forest and Wen Leyang muttered in his heart, “Serves you right for flying a kite on a rainy day!”

Throughout all this, not a sound came from Wen Xiaoyi who had been so anxious to return to the house before the rain. Wen Leyang, puzzled, turned to face her and saw that her face was pale with fright as she stared with unprecedented dread at the little black snake. Whether this was due to the cold from the rain or fear, the little girl’s neat pearly-white teeth were chattering slightly as she warned Wen Leyang in a hushed tone, “Do not move at all!”

Wen Leyang did not move but the Red Leaves Forest moved instead.

The entire forest contracted aggressively and trembled in suppression for a short while before exploding with a boom louder than divine thunder as every single red leaf fell from its branch in the blink of an eye!

The leaves did not glide or flutter down. Instead, each leaf howled shrilly and spiraled towards the little black snake from every direction! The spinning red leaves left millions of scarlet impressions in the cascading downpour and dazzled Wen Leyang’s eyes with its unearthly glow.

All the remaining red camphor leaves of the Red Leaves Forest had simultaneously erupted in an earth-shattering momentum filled with murderous force as it attacked the eyeless black snake. It was no longer the Ten Yards of Prosperous Cities  poison, this effect was derived from the poison calledFeast for the Eyes of Fawn Lily’s Purgatory !

Unknown to Wen Leyang and Wen Xiaoyi, deep within the Wen clan’s place of Birth, Life, Sickness, and Death, the Red Leaves Forest had been cultivated through the painstaking effort of their ancestors. Though the Red Leaves Forest was made up of innumerable species of plants, it had been imbued with a murderous force of unknown origin and is a standing prohibition spell guarding the place of Birth, Life, Sickness, and Death against external forces.

Fourth Elder Wen, according to his own preference, had selected a single type of poison to add to the leaves.

One can say that The Red Leaves Forest was akin to a dish of fish with the previous elders of the village as the chefs. Based on each chef’s customs and temperament, they added different types of ingredients in the process of cooking the fish, however regardless of how it was cooked in the end, it would still be a fish, and not cooked into a carrot.

The extremely cruel and merciless elders of the place would add corrosive poison to the trees with no regard to its effects. An intoxicated person who wandered into the forest could only watch helplessly as he was turned into a puddle of rotten flesh and die an agonized death. The more virtuous and sincere elders would add some form of strong anesthesia, such that it would numb the body of the invader thoroughly, before being surrendered to the people of the Death Trademark to be decapitated.

As the Red Leaves Forest commenced its thunderous attack, Wen Xiaoyi pulled Wen Leyang along as she held tightly to the big-muzzled blunderbuss on her other hand. There was no time to think and they ran quickly to the nearest house.

We Leyang was not a fool and he noticed that the attack from the Red Leaves Forest was far more intense than the one before. He shielded their backs as they ran, alert for any other signs of danger. They finally reached the house and pushed open the wooden door.

The moment they stepped inside, a stream of frigid air blew upon their faces, forming a layer of white frost on their drenched clothes and hair immediately. ‘You’ve Got Me’ had been curled up in Wen Leyang’s chest and as it was a bug of the celestial Yang force, it disliked the bitter cold thoroughly and wriggled its plump body with discontent. Wen Leyang patted his chest a few times to pacify the bug before suddenly muttering, “Oh dear!” as he realized where he was. He immediately knelt to the ground facing the dark corner of the room and kowtowed repeatedly while saying, “I am sorry for disturbing your rest, my ancestor!”

The house faced towards the South where the Life Trademark was. Situated within was a row of rooms each displaying a Wen family ancestor’s preserved corpse. This particular ancestor appeared to be an old man of serene expression and he laid quietly on the bed. It looked almost as if he was asleep and other than the slight dryness of his skin, he appeared no different than any other living man.

This was the Life Trademark and Fourth Elder Wen had instructed Wen Leyang that he was forbidden to enter it. Yet amidst the fear and confusion he ended up following Wen Xiaoyi into the house and by now it was too late for them to leave.

The four corners of the room were piled high with clumps of light grey-colored vegetation and Wen Leyang recognized that these were a type of algae procured from within the great depths of the Qinghai Lake. It was known as the Iced Core Algae and as it bloomed it releases a piercing cold draught at any time of the day. The caretakers of the Life Trademark would replace the algae intermittently into the rooms containing corpses to keep them fresh, while during the warmest days in the summer Wen Xiaoyi too had snuck a few algae pieces and placed them into Wen Leyang’s room.

Wen Xiaoyi followed suit as she knelt on the ground and gave a few clumsy kowtows. Only after paying their respects to the dead did the two of them stand up and peered cautiously at the situation outside through the crack in the door.

The red leaves had continued to surge and shoot through the forest, shattering through the dense rainwater.

However, the little snake did not seem alarmed and was slowly slithering through the path of razor-sharp icy-cold red leaves as if nothing had occurred. It undulated lazily as it moved yet managed to avoid the speedy cut of the red leaves.

Regardless of the direction of its movement, the two white scales on its forehead were fixated on the mansion in which Wen Leyang and Wen Xiaoyi were hiding.

The red leaves were fast, akin to an arrowhead being fired from a bow; the little snake was slow, akin to a snail moving house (Author’s note – Please forgive my analogies).

The contrast between the quickness of the leaves and the slow-moving snake was obvious and split the entire space into two halves. It was as if the rain of red leaves and the little snake was in their own space and could not influence each other’s movements and existence.

The red leaves dashed about and embedded themselves deeply into the soil while the little snake remained untouched as it slithered slowly along, paying no attention to anything else.

Wen Leyang looked at Wen Xiaoyi in astonishment, “What is going on over here?”

“Have you ever heard of the Yin Chi?”

Wen Leyang shook his head as he sweated from embarrassment for his poor understanding of the theoretical foundation.

Wen Xiaoyi realized that she had asked a silly question. She shivered and held her arms tight around her body as the room was freezing cold. Wen Leyang extended his arms and cradled the little girl against his chest. This young lad’s chest may not be the broadest, yet it was warm enough…and also because there was a mini furnace known as ‘You’ve Got Me’ on it.

Wen Xiaoyi settled down into a comfortable position while peering at the ongoing situation outside the door crack. She then explained, “A bed of green pines it pinned, as dark as ink it sinned. A crime waiting to be cleansed, an eternity of life as the undead. Eyes without sight, with wings without flight. For being the dragon untamed, the Yin Chi it was named.”

After a moment’s silence, Wen Leyang said only these words, “That’s such a profound philosophy.”