There was a vague trail of bloodstains extending all the way from the doorway of the wooden house to the border of the Red Leaves Forest. Wen Leyang e exhaled a long sigh and leaned his body on a tree.
He caught a whiff of an unusually sweet scent blowing in the wind.
There was a sound of approaching footsteps and he hears a rather surprised “Hey?” from a person with a young and skittish voice.
Wen Leyang forced his heavy eyelids to open and saw several human-figured shadows clad in black fabric. He could only see pairs of shimmering eyes and they exuded a sense of ghastly vigilance as they stepped into the Red Leaves Forest. The leader of the pack carried a flute in his hand and wore a headscarf looped over his head covering his long hair. He was dressed in a long robe, with the handle of a long sword visible on his back. His facial features were not concealed, yet it was difficult to distinguish his features in the dark.
Wen Leyang started giggling and he asked in between his fits of laughter, “What kind of style are you modeling?”
The other party gave a short laugh and said, “Your style is even more exaggerated! What happened here and where is the Wen family’s prohibition spell?” He held out his flute and pointed it towards the bald trees and the scattered, storm-raged red leaves that were now turning into red mud on the ground.
The black-shirt people started gathering around one after another.
The accent of these people was similar to the ones who had released the Spirit Guiding Light and the Yin Chi. Wen Leyang’s mind was slightly distracted and as he felt his eyelid start to twitch he thought that the effort to try to make an expression would be more difficult than licking his own elbow. He struggled to compose himself and asked, “Who are all of you?”
The leader did not show any aversion to the foul odor emitting from Wen Leyang and smiled amiably as he squatted down next to him. He did not answer Wen Leyang’s question and instead asked, “Were you poisoned? Could it be you who triggered the prohibition spell?” He waved his arm in a directive as he spoke and the other black-shirt people spread out immediately around the Red Leaves Forest.
The dark cloud in the middle of the sky too dispersed quickly and a ray of moonlight shone through the crevasse amongst the mist. Wen Leyang could see the enemy in front of him clearly now and was surprised by his unusual appearance. Though the person had an adult’s stature, his face looked like that of a porcelain doll. His complexion was ever so delicate it that it looked like would break with a flick of a finger, while red lips with pearly-white teeth and thick brows accentuated bright eyes. It was a face with a radiant angelic smile and the corners of his eyes and the tips of his brows hung a sense of awe-inspiring righteousness.
The Baby Faced Man continued to smile and with a voice sounded of unparalleled sincerity he said, “My apologies, our arrival was delayed for a short while. Otherwise, you would not have broken the prohibition spell earlier and be tormented by the poison.” While saying that, he shook his head sympathetically and said, “But who could you be?”
The Corpse Poison felt like cold needles of ice which rampaged and charged about in his body and had progressed above his waist level. Wen Leyang felt as if both his legs and lower abdomen were being collectively stung by the most vicious wasps. He groaned in agony and squeezed the words out between his clenched teeth, “The whole of Red Leaves Forest? By depending on just these few people?”
The Baby Faced Man laughed out loud. He spoke with a cheerful yet sincere manner, nevertheless in his tone there was a faint yet imminent arrogance, “Just these few people? No, just myself. The rest of them are normal people.”
The rest of the ‘normal people’ walked with footsteps that were lighter than a raccoon’s and their movements were swifter and more agile than a monkey. They could take one leap up to a tree of several meters’ height and should they scamper off all at once, it was estimated that even a pack of dogs could not chase after them. Wen Leyang adjusted his posture with great effort and said, “If they are normal people, then who would you be?”
Suddenly a muffled hum sounded. One of the black-shirt people climbed up a huge tree and meticulously scoured the situation around the area before leaping down from the tree top. The moment his legs came in contact with the ground, he stumbled and went down with a thump. His whole body quivered unnaturally and curled up into a ball while a croaking noise could be heard coming from his throat.
Seeing this two of his companions bent over, their body posture akin to two hunting black cats, and moved across to reinforce the situation. Yet they only took two steps before they too tumbled down on the ground without a sound or a sign!
Wen Leyang could not help but laugh enigmatically and said, “It seems like the Red Leaves Forest’s prohibition spell still stands.” He wanted to laugh again but his laughter turned into a low cough with an agonized hoarse sound.
The Baby Faced Man’s expression had shifted dramatically. He gave a quiet order and the gang of black-shirt people began to come back to their previous formation. As they were doing so one of them cried out in alarm, then another, and they started to tumble down one by one until someone exclaimed in low voice, “There’s something on the ground!”
A loud rustling noise could be heard and the wilted red leaves in the muddy water rustled and shook as if something was gathering and crawling underneath the leaves. The rustling sound grew like an incoming tide and surrounded the black-shirt people.
The Baby Faced Man’s gaze became as sharp as a dagger and with a loud cry, he rose lightly into the air. He grabbed a yellow paper talisman from somewhere around his chest and used both his hands to gesticulate some eerie hand gestures before swiftly shouting, “Suffer!”
The yellow paper talisman ignited in a plume of green smoke. In the blink of an eye, it spontaneously combusted into three inches of flying ashes, soon after out of thin air a huge gust of wind appeared without a sign!
The strong winds blew violently and lifted the scattered red leaves explosively into the sky. When seen afar it appeared almost like a magnificent display of fireworks, as if the red blazing flames reflected red every persons’ eyes!
Wen Leyang was so astonished that he forgot all about his pain and opened his eyes wide to take in the inconceivable spectacle that was happening in front of his eyes. No one had seemed surprised that the Baby Faced Man could burn a paper talisman and summon gusts of strong wind. By this point, Wen Leyang had begun to comprehend a little what the Baby Faced Man meant by the word ‘normal’.
He meant that he was not the normal person.
As the strong winds continued to blow it revealed that under the cover of red leaves were multi-colored spiders, blue colored little snakes, rusty-bronze colored scorpions, red-striped centipedes, huge patches of green-headed ants and densely-dotted poisonous creatures of strange appearances. All these creatures bowed their heads and huddled their bodies tightly to stay fixed to the ground, resisting the strong blowing wind. The black-shirt people who were scattered all around the grounds of the Red Leaves Forest were shocked to realize that they were trapped amongst thousands of venomous insects, vermin, snakes, and scorpions.
A moment later, the strong wind died down and the red leaves that were blown into the sky slowly drifted down. The venomous creatures on the ground bared their fangs and brandished their poisonous stingers threateningly, no longer trying to conceal themselves beneath the leaves. The silence was broken by waves of loud rustlings as the collective creatures attacked the black-shirt people!
Tragic cries filled the air, echoing continuously through the Red Leaves Forest. The black-shirt people, though agile, had no resistance to the powerful poison from these creatures. Similar to a rooster crowing in the morning only to find its neck abruptly broken, one of them would cry out before suffocating for half a breath’s moment before never moving again.
Countless multicolored armies of venomous creatures raged and flowed in turbulence out of Life Trademark’s wooden shed and spread across to the borders of the Red Leaves Forest. They surged ahead of the black-shirt people, cutting off their escape before poisoning them to death.
The Baby Faced Man’s face was dreadfully pale. The sincerity, justice and slight arrogance he displayed earlier were replaced by a desperate expression. The vision from his slender eyes wavered and his floating body slowly began to descend. It seemed that he could not stay floating in midair indefinitely and he will eventually land amongst the venomous creatures.
Wen Leyang forced himself to look at him. In front of his body countless creatures were approaching and the poison in his body had passed his abdomen and gathered in his chest area. Despite this, his gaze still held a trace of a faint smile.
The rainy night had begun with the intrusion of a gigantic snake’s corpse, followed by the threat of the Yin Chi. He recalled how he had been rushing from one thing to another alongside with Wen Xiaoyi but in actuality, their actions were mostly in vain. The giant snake corpse and the Yin Chi would have been annihilated by the Red Leaves Forest’s prohibition spell. The only worthy action of his was the final hit of the blunderbuss which crushed the Yin Chi but at the expense of sustaining injuries from the misfire and subsequently being bitten by the still-living Yin Chi. He would have been better off had he stayed hidden in the house and snacked on his never-ending supply of carrots instead.
Deep in his heart, Wen Leyang was aware of how deeply the poison had penetrated into his body; even with the arrival of the four Grand Elders combined with the resurrection of his Eighth Generation’s ancestor, they could not have stopped the spreading poison within his body. All he could do was await the advance of the poison into his brain but he made a last-ditch effort to push himself back onto his two feet so that he could die with pride.
Though he felt like he was on the brink of death, Wen Leyang believe that he should at least stop this gang of mysterious enemies from going further into the Red Leaves Forest. Around thirty years ago, his father had once said that one must do significant and meaningful things in life.
The Baby Faced Man realized that he would soon reach the ground and snapped himself back to full alert. His vision brightened as he stared with understanding at Wen Leyang and shouted sharply, “It was you!” A loud whine was heard as the long sword on his back flew out and, guided by both his hands, spun about in midair before stabbing into a particular spot on the ground. As the Baby Faced Man pulled the sword out the buried Black Jade Incense Tripod was also pulled out of the soil. He then guided the flying sword which swayed the Black Jade Incense Tripod on its blade and ferociously smashed it against Wen Leyang who had been leaning against the tree!
After he had been injured and poisoned by the Yin Chi, the last thing that Wen Leyang did was to burn the medicinal herbs in the Black Jade Incense Tripod before burying it shallowly in the soil. He then concealed the opening of the vessel clumsily with the red leaves.
When he first entered the Place of Birth, Life, Sickness and Death, he was strictly forbidden by Fourth Elder Wen to use light the Black Jade Incense Tripod in the Forest, as there were countless venomous creatures being kept within the Sickness Trademark. In order not to affect the effectiveness of their poison the prohibition spell of the Red Leaves Forest did not include a prescription to harm them. Instead the Wen clan relied on the inherited experience of over two thousand years to concoct an herb mixture that emitted a foul odor which repelled these creatures. Once this mixture had been lit in the Forest, the venomous creatures would immediately try to flee the prohibited area desperately.
The creatures that were worthy of being bred at the Place of Birth, Life, Sickness and Death were poisonous vermin with aggressive temperaments and the black-shirt people were being ruthlessly attacked by these creatures.
However, it was all a waste as when the red leaves were blown away, the Baby Faced Man would unexpectedly discover the buried incense tripod.
What was even more unexpected to Wen Leyang was that the other party was even capable of using a flying sword to dig up the incense tripod.
Wen Leyang was so weakened that even blinking his eyes felt too strenuous for him, and he could only watch as the Black Jade Incense Tripod slowly flew towards him and smashed against his chest with a sharp crack. The vessel shattered and one of the fragments cut Wen Leyang’s cheek as it tumbled across his body.
The approaching tide of poisonous creatures was confused for a moment before they adjusted and turned their bodies one by one and rushed towards the fragrant ash-covered Wen Leyang. The Buddha’s Light Bug noticed the situation and prepared to defend its master against the mass of threatening vermin.
Wen Leyang vigorously bent over, exerted all the strength he had left to grasp onto ‘You’ve Got Me’ tightly in his palm. He refused to let it retaliate against the other venomous creatures.
Upon realizing that its master intended to stop it from attacking, ‘You’ve Got Me’ slumped its body and gave a low, distressed moan. It stretched out its body in Wen Leyang’s grip and snuggled up against his skin while its head rubbed against his palms.
Wen Leyang did not notice when a small clear dew drop emerged from the Buddha’s Light Bug’s flaming red eyes as it wept!
The Corpse Poison from the Yin Chi continued to flow along his blood vessels and left an obvious gray line along his neck. It would not be long now before the poison reaches his brain.
In the meantime the swarm of venomous creatures had crawled upon his body and mercilessly bit and tore at him. In the snap of a finger Wen Leyang had been bitten and stung over a thousand times!
Wen Leyang could finally comprehend the meaning of how poison could be both benevolent yet destructive at the same time. Each time a creature bit or stung him, the potent poison entering his body would erupt into an agonizing pain akin to the extraction of bone marrow, then immediately dispersed without a trace on its own. The less potent poisons, however, would enter the bloodstream and combine with other poisons and cause the sensation of a burning knife slicing apart his blood vessels!
Today’s lesson seemed slightly livid and overrated. Wen Leyang sighed, “What a shame, there’s one more left. ” Immediately after that he closed his eyes and awaited his death.
He waited for half a day, yet he didn’t die.
Little did he know, as he was bitten and injected with thousands of different kinds of poisons, the gray mark which was left by the Corpse Poison suddenly behaved like an infuriated snake. The gray line radically expanded before shrinking dramatically, shriveling away from his neck by a few inches.
The poisonous creatures had originally been attracted to the odd scent which emanated from the shattered incense tripod which had scattered upon Wen Leyang’s body. The smell dispersed a moment later and the creatures lost their target. After the initial storm of attacks the poisonous vermin lost interest and gradually returned to the Red Leaves Forest.
The pain was excruciating but Wen Leyang had escaped death for now.
Wen Leyang felt that he must be of good moral standing as the poisonous vermin had swarmed his body but left his face untouched. Otherwise his entire face would have been blackened and swollen until he would have been mistaken for a big-faced African man
The Baby Faced Man guided his flying sword back to its sheath and cautiously avoided the retreating vermin as he dropped back onto the ground. He was surprised to discover that Wen Leyang was still breathing, so he smiled as he approached the side of Wen Leyang’s body and asked, “You’re not dead yet?”
Wen Leyang exerted himself strenuously but only managed to open his eyes into a slit before replying, “YOU are not dead yet.” The Baby Faced Man was caught off guard by this hostility as a trickle of red blood flowed out from Wen Leyang’s eye.
The Baby Faced Man flushed and said with an innocent expression, “I could see that you were carrying some form of treasure capable of overcoming poison, you should gift it to me.” His gaze then seemed to be filled with sincerity as he continued, “You must be in so much pain now and though I can’t save you I can end your suffering. There you would find your relief, so please give me with your treasure.”
Wen Leyang tried to smile, but he was unsure whether he still had the ability to force it as he said, “Why didn’t you come and take it yourself, since I don’t have the ability to move anymore.”
The Baby Faced Man shook his head, “People like you who practiced the Art of Poison are contaminated in their intentions. I would not dare to touch you…”
“F*ck it!” Wen Leyang was unsure from where he gathered his strength, yet he abruptly broke out into curses, “Yours truly was resting in the Forest at my own house, it was you mother*ckers who sent murderers through my door, and yet you still have the guts to accuse me of my contaminated intentions, yours truly could only wish that the poisonous creatures would bite you to death! Who do you think you are?”
The Baby Faced Man blinked innocently once again, then his gentle gaze abruptly turned arrogant and filled with vengeance as he said, “This was the first time I came down from the mountain to run some errands. It was your fault that all the people entrusted to me by my master were killed, even if I were to burn this forest before I return, I would not be able to avoid being punished for my mistake.”
“I would burn your whole family.” Wen Leyang muttered these six words while shivering. He then used all his might to open his eyes fully and stared straight into Baby Faced Man without blinking. He would not make even the slightest concession!
The Baby Faced Man again started to smile, causing his eyes to narrow and curve with the smile as if hiding the relentless viciousness within him.
Wen Leyang sighed all of a sudden, opened his mouth, hesitated for a moment and with a trembling voice said, “You’ve got me.”
You’ve! Got! Me!
The Baby Faced Man felt surprised at Wen Leyang’s surrender and wanted to say something when suddenly a ray of violet arcs split across the night sky as a cold wind blew and a dark storm cloud started gathering above them.
A peal of thunder obliterated whatever the Baby Faced Man was trying to say.
Under the loud crashing of thunder, a flash of deep red lighting struck intensely and before the Baby Faced Man could react he was struck violently in the right eye by the raging Buddha’s Light Bug. He was completely caught off guard and didn’t have time to even close his eyes.
The bug released a clump of poisonous stings that were sharper than the tip of steel needles and smashed away the smile from his face.
With a deadly shout, the flying sword emerged from the back of the Baby Faced Man and shot forward!
However it only took one breath for the Buddha’s Light Bug’s Poison of Fire to blaze into the Baby Faced Man’s brain, burning it up into charred bean curd. Before he could even give the sword in his hands a squeeze, his arms dropped to his sides lifelessly.
The flying sword, having lost its master’s guidance began to fly aimlessly everywhere before a bolt of lightning abruptly split diagonally from the sky and violently struck the flying sword, producing a magnificent firework of sparks which in the blink of an eye vanished into the dark.
Wen Leyang watched the situation unfold as a bright smile appeared in his eyes. He muttered in his heart over and over again, “Why, you were really not a normal person.”
The Buddha’s Light Bug shook off the remaining poisonous fluid that was glued to its hard bristles and clumsily crawled onto Wen Leyang’s face. It then snuggled and rubbed against his face affectionately.
At the same time, the sounds of shouting akin to a broken drum could be heard from outside the Red Leaves Forest saying, “Little Taiyang, come quick! The sixth elder is dying!”
Another weaker voice then chimed in from time to time with the sound of the storm as it said, “Little Taiyang… I… am dying.”
It was the two silly uncles, Wen Nine and Wen Thirteen!