returnCH 143(1 / 1)  Estrangedhome

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The shadow rushed at him immediately, but the sword was faster.

They came into contact, and very soon, the shadow flew out of the house, as swift as a shooting star.

It was the sword that had thrown the shadow out.

The shadow was trapped by the sword, but it had quickly salvaged the situation. The shadow abruptly grew in size, took on a human shape, and caught the sword, enveloping even Changming at the same time.

At this moment, Xia Zheng and the others arrived. Seeing how things had turned out, they could not help but cry out in alarm. Li Muxing turned her head and looked at Qin Qian’s legs, which had been reduced to bones. It was hard to imagine what awaited Jiufang Changming who had been completely engulfed.

Qin Qian, gasping his last breaths, was picked up by Xia Zheng and Lin Wenyu on either side. He paled and asked in a trembling voice: “Dashixiong, how come I feel nothing in my legs? They are still here, right?”

Only white bones remained beneath his knees. As Qin Qian trembled, they shook too.

Qin Qian, who had left his sect for the first time, who had not even seen the world yet, who had not had the chance to witness the duels between the masters he admired at the Qianlin Assembly, had now suffered this irreparable injury. For a cultivator, their legs were their future. He had not even started gaining fame in the Jianghu, but it had already been decided that his future would be hopeless.

“Dashixiong, don’t be silent…”

Xia Zheng could not bear the sight. He did not answer and turned his eyes away, looking at the fight between Jiufang Changming and the shadow in the courtyard.

Had daoyou Sun not appeared in time, it would not have just been Qin Qian’s legs—his life would be lost too.

What on earth was this monster?

Li Muxing was the first to react. She rushed forward with her sword unsheathed to help Changming, but the dense, sinister qi of the ghost jumped her and forced her to take several steps back, ignoring her spiritual power. The bone-piercing cold enveloped them again, and she could not help but tremble, feeling her own temperature rise because of a fever.

“Don’t come over!” she heard Jiufang Changming say.

Li Muxing was terrified. The shadow did not seem special at first glance, but it turned out to be so powerful. Li Muxing considered herself a high-ranking cultivator, and not just in that remote sect she had come from—even when she had left it for traveling, she could still protect herself.

Despite this, facing the shadow, she could not use even a little bit of her cultivation.

As soon as she released some sword qi, it dissipated, and even rushed back at her fiercely. Li Muxing’s defense was destroyed immediately, which caused her an internal wound.

The shadow growled with an unsettlingly hoarse voice, and the black qi around them surged up, completely engulfing Jiufang Changming and his sword. The darkness slowly extended outside from the courtyard. They could vaguely discern a sword glowing in the eye of the hurricane, but it seemed to be lacking strength and struggled as if on its last legs.

Li Muxing could only imagine how frightening it was there, and could not see how daoyou Sun, whom they had met by accident, would live through this.

Chang Yue, who had never seen a fight like this, held her dasixiong’s Xia Zheng’s sleeve tightly. She had paled and could not utter a word.

Of all who were present there, only Jiufang Changming knew what he was fighting against.

It was a nightmare demon, but not a common one.

Most of the nightmare demons had been exterminated by them in Hongluo, and the rest could not have possibly gotten so strong in a short period of time. This shadow possessed a human shape and had a slightly different spirit and mind. It knew how to fight and what trick to use in a particular situation. When it realized that he was a formidable opponent, it decided to not waste its time on him. Had he not blocked the shadow, Li Muxing would have shared Qin Qian’s fate, and would likewise become crippled.

It seemed like he was surrounded by the qi, but in truth, he was preventing it from spreading further. He used a technique and split his sword into three blades that pierced the black shadow and lingered in mid-air, trapping the enemy inside the cage.

The shadow roared in a low voice and hid itself in the black qi, with only its red eyes staring at Changming. It was still, but full of deep hatred and distinctly smelled like blood.

“I know that you understand human speech,” Changming transmitted this message through his spiritual consciousness. “Who sent you here? If you answer truthfully, I’ll give up a chance to escape.”

“Who… sent me here…” the shadow muttered the same words several times and laughed. “Your qi smells very sweet, more so than theirs, I like it a lot. Give me your skin, won’t you? I’ll treasure it…”

Before it could finish speaking, the shadow dispersed right under everyone’s eyes.

As soon as he saw the shadow, Jiufang Changming set up a barrier around the courtyard, putting a sleeping spell on everyone around at the same time. The other guests were unable to go inside and did not hear any noise. They would continue sleeping through the matter, but maybe have not so good dreams.

The others were still scared. Lin Wenyu, who had hidden behind a column, stretched out his neck, unable to contain his curiosity.

“What is this thi…”

“Get out of the way!” Changming shouted harshly.

Lin Wenyu did not understand what was going on, but dodged to the side instinctively.

In a moment, a gust of foul wind flashed by. In the corner of his eye, he saw that the shadow had reassembled, and was now standing where he was.

Had he been a moment too late…

The consequences were too dreadful to imagine.

When the shadow took form again, the sword flew over hurriedly, reaching it almost at the same time!

It came over in the blink of an eye, and the shadow had not expected anyone to be so quick. It seemed that the opponent of the shadow had already had every corner of this place under his control and only waited for it to appear to end its life immediately!

Amidst wailings, the sword slashed, turning the shadow into dust.

Jiufang Changming sheathed his sword, breaking the silence.

“Daoyou Xia, we should tend to your shidi’s wound first.”

Xia Zheng came to his senses and quickly rushed to his shidi, Qin Qian. The latter had already stopped moving, which startled Xia Zheng. He reached out to check that his shidi was still breathing and sighed out of relief after confirming it.

“I’m afraid that he lost consciousness because of the pain. We’ve already applied some medicine to stop the bleeding.”

He would live, but it would be difficult for their shidi to accept the fact that he had lost his legs overnight.

“Daoyou Sun, thank you very much. If it wasn’t for you, we would have probably all died by now,” Li Muxing expressed her thanks earnestly.

At this moment, Jiufang Changming was using Sun Wuxia’s name. He acted the way Sun Wuxia would have and shook his head humbly: “It was luck, as I’ve just encountered a demon like this in Hongluo.”

Li Muxing asked: “Demon? Was it not a ghost?”

That shadow had a human shape and possessed a dense and gloomy ghost qi. What was it if not a ghost?

Changming said: “Nightmare demons are adept at taking all kinds of appearances to hide. When it meets a ghost, it becomes a ghost, and when it meets a human, it becomes one. It’s impossible to protect yourself from it. This one has probably killed a person and snatched their souls before their death, turning into a ghost.”

A usual ghost would stick to a living body, but after attacking Qin Qian, this monster did not rush to swallow his souls, but lashed out at his body instead. Only a demon would possess this kind of mad hunger.

Why would a nightmare demon disguise itself as a ghost? The rest of the nightmare demons that fled from Hongluo were unable to go wild in Shangzhou unless someone helped them from behind the scene.

And who that person was was already obvious.

But Li Muxing and her companions knew nothing, and Changming’s identity was yet to be exposed. This nightmare did not choose them as its target on purpose—rather, it had appeared in the city coincidentally and just happened to attack them.

For the time being, Jiufang Changming did not understand what his enemy was trying to achieve with this. But first and foremost, he should calm down the people in front of him.

“Daoyou Sun, what do you think, is there a chance for my shidi to recover?” Xia Zheng was at loss, so he could only ask whoever was at his disposal. Changming was just a stranger they met on the road, so at first, Xia Zheng had not taken this “daoyou Sun” seriously, but in a decisive moment, the man decided to save them. So, this time, it was not just courtesy, but rather an honest request for help. He really hoped that Changming could restore the flesh around the bones and magically heal his shidi’s legs.

Unfortunately, Jiufang Changming shook his head: “I can’t help if a part of his body is missing. I’m afraid that he can’t attend the Qianlin Assembly in his current state, and it’s better for him to go back as soon as possible. Maybe an elder from your sect has a technique that can help him, but it will do no good to delay the return.”

Xia Zheng had left his sect carrying the burden of winning honor for his sect. If he turned back halfway, he would have wasted all his previous efforts. But Qin Qian’s current state did not allow them to continue forward.

He was stuck between a rock and a hard place. However, his shimei Chang Yue, who was usually completely clueless, said decisively: “Dashixiong, you should go to the Qianlin Assembly, I’ll take shidi back. After all, I only came here to watch the fun, so I should be the one to return with him.”

Xia Zheng could not bear to let her go back alone, so he turned to Lin Wenyu: “Wouldn’t it be better if our second shidi sent you two back?”

But Lin Wenyu hesitated: “Dashixiong, I can’t leave you here alone. Shimei will be fine alone. I’ll go with you.”

Obviously, he did not want to waste the chance to see the Qianlin Assembly.

Xia Zheng was a bit disappointed, but did not point out Lin Wenyu’s mistake. After all, apart from bearing the responsibility of gaining fame for his sect, he also had his own selfish motives for going to the assembly.

People were always selfish, with no exception.

Li Muxing did not want to get involved in clashes between the fellow disciples. Her attention was fully on the weird shadow, and the more she thought about it, the stranger it seemed.

“Shangzhou is close to the Zhengrong Mountain Villa, why would a demon appear here? Is it just reckless, or is there some reason behind this?”

“I don’t know either, but we should not wait for the situation to get worse. Let’s head to the Zhengrong Mountain Villa tomorrow.” Changming had his guesses, but he could not share them lest he gave rise to even more questions.

Li Muxing thought that it was very suspicious and that the appearance of the shadow was probably connected to the Qianlin Assembly, but she did not understand in what way.

Everyone was anxious after the accident. Except for Changming, no one had the heart to fall asleep, so they just waited for the sky to brighten. By the time the sun finally shone in the east, Xia Zheng and his fellow disciples had already come to an agreement. Chang Yue was to take their shidi Qin Qian back to their sect, and Xia Zheng had sent the sect a request to dispatch someone to meet them at the foot of the mountains, while Lin Wenyu accompanied him to the Qianlin Assembly.

Everyone had lost their eagerness and went their ways laden with anxiety. After washing up and eating, they headed towards the Zhengrong Mountain Villa immediately.

That place was close to Shangzhou, so they reached it in half a day. There was a defensive formation around the mountain that was guarded by disciples and prevented intruders from sneaking inside. When Jiufang Changming and his three companions reached the peach forest outside the villa, a disciple greeted them and took their invitation cards.

The disciple took the three cards and looked them up and down like a hawk, which made them feel uncomfortable.

Xia Zheng could not help furrowing his brows: “Dare I ask, daoyou, but is there something wrong with our invitations?”

The answer was: “The cards are fine, but there are only three of them, while there are four of you.”

Xia Zheng: “Bringing relatives and friends is an old custom of the Qianlin Assembly. This person is my shidi, I can vouch for him.”

Still, the disciple did not neglect a single detail. He asked Xia Zheng and Lin Wenyu a lot of questions, and Lin Wenyu, who was too young and hot-headed, almost caused a scene, but was stopped by his shixiong. Even Jiufang Changming thought that the disciple was far too strict.

“Daoyou, I have another invitation card with me. It belongs to my shishu. Something came up on our way here, so he decided to go back first. Can I give this invitation card to daoyou Lin?” Jiufang Changming said, taking out a pouch. “This is a hundred-year-old Solomon’s seal, a top-notch material for refining pills. Please, daoyou, kindly accept this small gift.”

Cultivators were by no means superior to the common people when it came to their? morals nor were they untainted by greed. In the end, they were just more resistant.

That disciple hesitated for a moment, but listened to a couple of kind words from Xia Zheng and finally accepted the bribe: “You shouldn’t think that I am just nitpicking. Something happened half a day ago, and now everyone is on their guard. This is an order from my higher-ups, so I can’t slack off.”

Jiufang Changming: “What happened? Is it really that serious?”

After taking Solomon’s seal, the disciple became much more relaxed with his words. What he said made Changming, who was difficult to unnerve, frown in alarm.

“The master of the Wanijan Immortal Clan, Master Jiang, was possessed by a demon and started killing everyone in sight. Thankfully, his master, Immortal Luomei, was present and managed to stop him, preventing a calamity. However, many were wounded. I heard several elders discuss that this matter could be related to an old story of a rebel of the Wanjian Immortal Clan. This man could also have infiltrated the Qianlin Assembly and is waiting for an opportunity to cause trouble. That is why the master of the villa ordered us to guard the entrance and investigate anyone suspicious!”