The Corpse Poison was different from the Five Elements of poison in that it would not kill you when it reached the heart. However, once it reaches the brain not even fairies would be able to help. Of course, if fairies were to appear at this point they would not be able to extract the Corpse Poison which had spread completely into his bones and blood. Wen Leyang was wondering that his bones could have possibly turned into gray-black color by now.
Within Wen Leyang’s body, the multitude of different poisons from the venomous creatures merged into one another, creating a new stream of poison that surged rapidly along the blood vessels instead of invading his heart. This new poison collided with the Corpse Poison and began stripping parts of the gray mark away while tangling itself with the other poisons in his body. Wen Leyang’s body alternated between freezing cold sensations as if he was being drilled by ice needles and hot raging heat that made him feel like he was being burnt alive inside. He felt this deep into his marrow. If it were not for his foolish uncles calling him from outside the Red Leaves Forest, Wen Leyang would have fainted dead away.
The inhabitants of the Place of Birth, Life, Sickness, and Death had kept a low profile during the vicious attacks. It was only when the venomous creatures were escaping in every direction did the other caretakers emerge. They blew on their bamboo whistles and held long, curved tree branches which they used to herd the venomous creatures back to where they belonged.
Wen Xiaoyi also stumbled out of the wooden house. Afraid of hurting her, Wen Leyang had given her only a small dose of anesthetic through the silver needle and she has finally recovered from its effects. The little girl looked high and low until she finally discovered Wen Leyang and threw herself towards him while crying piteously.
A few of the caretakers seemed to be moved by conscience and followed Wen Xiaoyi to help hold up Wen Leyang as compassion showed in their eyes.
Wen Leyang resisted the need to faint with great effort and pointed towards the outskirts of the Red Leaves Forest, “Go… to the two uncles…”
Wen Nine and Wen Thirteen’s voices have been silent for almost half a day, it was uncertain whether something bad had happened to them.
The countless types of poison fought and tore through his body unceasingly, but his spirit was still vigorous. Wen Leyang sighed to himself and thought that perhaps this was his last radiance of the setting sun, like a sudden spurt of energy prior to dying.
The Power of Poison could be used in a benevolent or malevolent way. Traditional Chinese medicine had a particular saying that goes: ‘one should counteract one poison with another’. However, the poisons that had invaded his body was a total tyrant, akin to trapping more than one cricket in a flower pot as they would fight each other. Wen Leyang’s body was the flower pot now.
Lightning flashed and thunder cracked, the storm had arrived once again.
Icy cold rainwater splashed against the body of the Buddha’s Lighting Bug which was shivering all over. Being of the element of fire, it was most afraid of rainwater yet it refused to leave its master’s face.
Wen Leyang turned to the people who were holding him up and urged them to help him out of the Red Leaves Forest.
One of the old men shook his head, “When the owner of the Place of Birth, Life, Sickness, and Death is not around, nobody is allowed to even take one step out of the Red Leaves Forest.”
Wen Leyang burned with a frenzy of rage and said, “If Fourth Elder Wen is not around, then I am the appointed owner! Carry me out now!” He had great respect towards the elders but he’s also the youth of a modern society and in between the choice of abiding with the family’s training and caring for the safety of his uncles, he chose the latter one without a doubt.
The old men only shook their heads gentle and did not speak. All of a sudden a small figure rushed to Wen Leyang’s side and strongly pushed aside the others to help him walk towards the outskirts of the Forest.
Wen Leyang felt a great warmth in his heart when he saw that it was Wen Xiaoyi who was using all her strength with great effort to prop him up. She looked like she would fall with every step yet moved forward with great determination.
A few of these old men watched disapprovingly as the two of them left the Red Leaves Forest. Turning around and resuming their walking-corpse like expressions as they went about their business of tidying the place, the old men muttered, “Hmph.”
Wen Leyang smiled wryly in his mind as he reflected on all the time he had spent in the Place of Birth, Life, Sickness, and Death, and how there doesn’t seem to be one ounce of sensibility amongst the other caretakers of the place.
“Ninth Uncle and Thirteenth Uncle… what happened to you?” Wen Leyang’s voice was quivering both from agonizing pain as well as from fear. He knew that these two uncles were of pure intentions and had no scheming motives at all. Though they may have said some inappropriate jokes in the cutest and silliest way their joking never went overboard.
Ninth Uncle looked up at him and leaped up abruptly while howling in laughter, “The little Taiyang has been fooled!”
Thirteenth Uncle too turned over and sat right up. The look on his face was a combination of a foolish smirk and pride from successfully tricking them.
Ninth Uncle patted hard on Thirteenth Uncle’s shoulder and urged him persistently, “Take it out quick, take it out!”
The Thirteenth Uncle nodded and placed his mud-filled palm into his chest pocket and pulled with great effort. The two foolish uncles were so busy pulling their stunt that they failed to notice Wen Leyang’s severely injured state.
A loud rustling sound was heard as Thirteenth Uncle pulled a torn plastic bag from his chest pocket. In the meantime, Ninth Uncle was trying ineffectively to shield him from the rainwater.
Inside the torn plastic bag was a foil-wrapped package. Thirteenth Uncle handed the package cautiously to Wen Leyang and said, “Little Taiyang, we have expended great effort to save this for you, taste this, quick!” As he said this Thirteenth Uncle swallowed hard on a mouthful of saliva.
Ninth Uncle too gulped hard and nodded profusely, an expression of great anticipation filled his face as he stared at Wen Leyang, looking like a child who had given away the most valuable treasure of his family.
Wen Leyang, who was still suffering from the unbearable pain all over his body felt the strong urge to curse at them when he realized their trickery. But once he saw their sincere and innocent faces, his chest tightened abruptly and he held back the tide of curses.
The foil-wrapped package bore a logo which was very familiar to Wen Leyang as was studying in the county town. He unwrapped the package expecting to see half a bar of chocolate but its shape had been deformed beyond recognition by being carried next to his uncle’s body in the scorching hot weather. It was not known how many times the chocolate had melted.
The two brothers’ facial expression appeared anxious as they repeatedly urged him to quickly taste it.
Only when Wen Leyang placed the chocolate bar into his mouth and made an appreciative expression did the two uncles exhale a long sigh of relief as if they had just done an earth-shattering good deed. Deeply satisfied, they began to dance together in joy.
Though the agonizing pain of the ravaging poison continued to tear through his body, Wen Leyang felt a sea of warm and fuzzy feeling sweep across his heart. He turned his head around to look at Wen Xiaoyi, forced himself to grimace at her saying, “Little girl, guess what?”
Wen Xiaoyi’s tears were mixing with the rainwater; she shook her head while crying fitfully.
Wen Leyang smiled until his eyes were completely squinted shut and said, “By now, my Meridians have snapped and the countless types of poison are fighting a war in my body. The poison from all the poisonous creatures from the Sickness Trademark have grouped together as a gang and they are now fighting hard against the Yin Chi’s Corpse Poison. If only you see it! It is an epic battle scene for sure. Who do you think will win? Haha, I am sure the poison from the Sickness Trademark is much crueler…”
His practice in the Art of Poison was at its limit and he could no longer feel the existence of his Meridian vessels altogether. He could still feel the Yin Chi’s poison resisting against the rest of the poisons in his body and as the poisons interacted he began to feel strangely weak.
Wen Leyang pondered on a strategy and understood that his Meridian vessels were being crushed gradually by the collision of all the poisons, releasing and leaking the toxicity that he had accumulated while training and soaking in the medicinal potion.
As the countless types of poison twisted fought against one another, it created a situation that was similar to a master propelling internal forces within his body until his Meridians could no longer withstand the formidable energy which ultimately resulted in the complete collapse of his internal systems.
Wen Leyang looked deeply at Wen Xiaoyi’s entire appearance as if he was trying to remember her appearance in his heart as much as he could. He said with slight remorse, “It’s a pity, if only I could practice the Faulty Punch, I might even be able to fulfill ancestor Wen Lazi’s dying wish.” He was reminded of something and tried to lift his hand to his chest but he could not move his unwounded arm even after exerting all his effort.
Wen Xiaoyi saw his difficulty and guessed there was something in his chest pocket. She reached over and retrieved a tiny red jade box, it was the item that was passed on by Fourth Elder Wen for Wen Leyang to safeguard before he left the Place of Birth, Life, Sickness, and Death.
Wen Leyang laughed softly as he touched the box in Wen Xiaoyi’s hand and said, “Within three months, if the Fourth Elder Wen doesn’t return…No, no, don’t wait for him to return as there’s no longer a prohibition spell in the Red Leaves Forest. You should let these two uncles guide you to the Wen Village and bring this box to the eldest grandfather, and if the eldest grandfather is not around, you can pass it to the other two grandfathers or the eldest uncle.”
Wen Leyang gasped for breath as he finished his sentence, then looked at his two foolish uncles and said, “The chocolate is so rich and sweet, I loved eating it!”
Immediately upon finishing his sentence, Wen Leyang’s body slumped heavily and he fell to the ground dragging down Wen Xiaoyi who had been holding him up.
Ninth Uncle and Thirteenth Uncle were speechless in astonishment, they looked towards each other, then swung their arms and legs over to his side to carry him. It was only at this point that Ninth Uncle pinched his nose and screamed in horror, “Why are you so stinky!”
Thirteenth Uncle grinned foolishly, “That chocolate was so yummy he pooped his pants.”
“Even if he were to poop his pants he should not have fainted right? You too have pooped your pants; I don’t remember seeing you faint then!”
“Mine was not as stinky as his, he must have smelled so bad that he passed out!”
Wen Xiaoyi was trying to wake Wen Leyang to no avail. To listen to the nonsensical conversation between those two foolish men was the last straw and she jumped up, shrieked and grabbed hold of their garments intending to give them a piece of her mind but before she could curse in rage, her anger turned into a bitter wail.
The rainstorm was still howling furiously and seemed to echo the little maiden’s wail, “Save him, save him, please! He is dying!”
Click-clack; a cracking noise was heard.
The red jade box that had been kept in Wen Leyang’s chest pocket was hit by the Black Jade Incense Tripod earlier. The impact had produced countless fissures on its surface and as Wen Xiaoyi clenched her hand in agitation around it, the box abruptly shattered and nine round luminous green peas rolled onto her palm.
The little girl stopped crying all of a sudden as she gazed in awe at these green peas which were glowing faintly in her hand. Suddenly she cheered loudly, crying and laughing at the same time as she asked the unconscious Wen Leyang, “How could you not tell me that, you are carrying the fruit of the Return-To-Before Herb with you all along?”
There was no way Wen Leyang could have answered the question even if he was conscious – he had not dared to take a peek into the box and would probably not have known what these nine green peas were for.
The Return-To-Before Herb was a plant with nine individual branches which bloomed in turn when the plant matured. The flower of each branch would take a month to bloom and when the flowers of all nine branches had bloomed, each branch would bear a fruit. These nine fruits would look, smell and taste exactly the same. However, eight out of the nine fruits would contain a poison that was so toxic even a practitioner of the Wen family’s Art of Poison would die kicking soon after if they ate it. The one edible fruit would contain a counteractive Yin attribute that was very much sought-after by those who dealt in refining poison, medicinal prescription and medicinal pills in the world.
Due to the utterly indistinguishable appearance between these nine fruits, if one were to use it to refine medicinal prescriptions, eight out of nine of the prescriptions would contain a poison so strong it was incapable of being nullified. It was possible if one were to take all the fruits to refine into poison entirely but would waste the only precious fruit that contained counteractive Yin properties.
Aside from that, the Return-To-Before Herb has another extraordinary effect. If one were to use these nine fruits to seal the seven orifices of the human face, anus, and navel, it has the ability hold a person in suspended animation for a hundred days. It would not matter if the person had a steel spike through his brain, or if poison had invaded his heart, as long as he still had breath in him the person would not die for a hundred days.
Wen Xiaoyi dared not wait any longer. She ordered the two foolish uncles to pry open Wen Leyang’s mouth and strip off his clothing while she stuffed the nine luminous fruits into his navel, anus, nose, ears, and mouth. Finally, she lifted Wen Leyang’s eyelids gently and placed the remaining two fruits under them. Ninth Uncle and Thirteenth Uncle watched closely as they nibbled on some sunflower seeds.
As soon as all nine Return-To-Before Herb fruits were inserted, a puff of bright smoke appeared at Wen Leyang’s seven orifices and his navel as all nine fruits shriveled up and oozed a drop of milky white fluid which was immediately absorbed into his body.
The thick foul stench that had enshrouded Wen Leyang’s body immediately dispersed and in place a sweet-smelling fragrance that gave a sense of well-being and delight was released.
The Buddha’s Light Bug was trembling all over as it slumped and fell off Wen Leyang’s face. Its little body was struggling with great effort in the mud as if to dodge the onslaught of the rainstorm or perhaps it wanted to crawl back into its owner’s body.
Wen Xiaoyi grasped the bug gently in her palm as she heaved a long sigh as if relieved, though the grief-stricken expression on her face still remained. She knew that the Return-To-Before Herb could prolong his life yet it could not save his life, for a hundred days later it would be Wen Leyang’s day of awakening but also his day of death. The little girl was not skilled in the Art of Poison, yet she has read more books than the villagers of the whole Wen family combined. Based on the fact that the Corpse Poison from the Yin Chi along with the poison from the hundreds of venomous vermin still raged within his body, by now his bone marrow would be full of poison. Even if the ancestor Wen Lazi were resurrected, he would only shake his head and sigh in helplessness.
The little girl wrinkled her graceful brows and in spite of the freezing cold rain pouring around her, she tried to recall those ancient books and records that she had read before, desperately trying to think of a way to save Wen Leyang.
The two foolish uncles squatted next to her and watched for a moment before they lost their interest. Ninth Uncle looked through the plastic bag that had held the chocolate and said with a grim face, “That young boy there finished all the chocolate, he did not even leave some for us.”
On the other hand, tossed and turned Wen Leyang’s pants and exclaimed, “It does not seem like he has pooped his pants.”
Wen Xiaoyi exhausted all her abilities yet she could not think of anything of value. It was as though her memories had tangled up and all sorts of ancient prescriptions appeared before her eyes but they were completely out of order. She kept this up to a point until she could no longer endure the effort and made a low sound before falling over onto the muddy ground.
The two foolish uncles heard the noise and turned over to see that both teenagers were on the ground. They ran over and picked up the two unconscious bodies and said to the other, “They are dying! Quick, let us go and look for the Old Fairy.” With that, they scampered off.
A few steps later, Ninth Uncle halted his footsteps and asked his foolish brother dully, “Where is the Old Fairy?”
Thirteenth Uncle appeared to be in mental agony as he scratched his head, “I saw him leaving the mountain a few days ago. He left in a car, it was a Honda.”
Ninth Uncle shook his head sternly and denied, “It was a Hyundai.”
Thirteenth Uncle gaped his mouth stupidly then cocked his head to the side, aligned his ear towards Wen Xiaoyi on his back and asked, “What say you, little girl?”
Wen Xiaoyi was only a normal person, upon experiencing all these hectic incidents tonight she was already utterly exhausted. Yet within her was a tiny bit of conscience; her last intention was to save Wen Leyang’s life and despite being in a state of unconsciousness her spirit was so preoccupied with fulfilling this sole intention that her mouth moved of its own accord, “Please let him practice The Faulty Punch, The Faulty Punch…” She gave a few more mutters before appearing to lose all signs of consciousness entirely.
Thirteenth Uncle carefully placed Wen Xiaoyi onto the ground and with his palms held together at chest level, he prayed for a few cycles. He then shuffled next to Ninth Uncle with a stern expression on his face he said, “I think the little girl is dead.”
Thirteenth Uncle opened his mouth and continued, “There are three forms of unfilial conduct, of which the worst is to have no descendants.”
Ninth Uncle was stunned for a moment before giving Thirteenth Uncle a thumbs up as he complimented, “That was some good philosophy!”
Thirteenth Uncle nodded shyly as he acknowledged his brother’s praise and gave a few pats to Wen Leyang who was being carried on Ninth Uncle’s back and said, “The little girl is dead, and her last dying wish was to see you, little Taiyang, practice The Faulty Punch, is your practice of the Faulty Punch better than ours?”
“The little girl does not know about Martial Arts, she prefers to watch the inferior practice of the Faulty Punch. If it were our elder master who was dying, he will certainly say this – ask Wen Eleven to show me his practice of the Faulty Punch!” While Ninth Uncle was saying that, he turned and placed Wen Leyang carefully on the ground then held out his arms to guide Wen Leyang’s arms and legs into making some jittery movements in an imitation of The Faulty Punch.
Thirteenth Uncle tried to help out too and guided Wen Leyang into making a convoluted gesticulation while asking his brother with a troubled expression, “Which of us is Wen Eleven?”
“I knew it!” Ninth Uncle abruptly threw aside Wen Leyang’s elbow in his arms and with a delighted expression he went to his foolish brother and whispered in a low voice. As he was whispering he squinted furtively at Wen Leyang’s unconscious body.
Moments later, the two foolish uncles roared with laughter and pranced in glee away from the two teenagers in the storm.