The two hurried back to Mingguang Temple, but behind the main hall, there was nothing but chaos. The place where the brides had stood earlier was now filled with scattered red veils.

Seeing this, Xie Lian thought to himself, “This is bad, this is bad. We’re in trouble, we’re in trouble.” He quickly picked up the veils from the ground, just as cries of alarm came from outside the temple. Looking through the window, they saw a dozen or so bride corpses, their faces pale and smiling, arms raised in front of them. It was the same group of brides approaching the villagers.

These women had blue faces, wore smiles, and extended their hands forward. They were the corpses of the brides from earlier!

Helplessly watching them draw closer, no one could stay calm. The villagers didn’t even bother holding onto the bandaged young man anymore and fled as fast as they could. Xiaoying hurried over to help him up. Xie Lian said helplessly, “Don’t run!” He had said this phrase countless times tonight, repeating it at least thirty or forty times whenever something happened. But it seemed that someone always turned a deaf ear, leaving him feeling helpless. He waved his hand, and Ruoxie Ling flew into the air, creating a captivating display as if a celestial maiden was dancing. The lively movements of Ruoxie Ling attracted several of the brides, while seven others were enticed by the scent of blood emanating from the depths of the forest. Xie Lian said, “Nanfeng, catch up to them and don’t let them leave the mountain!”

There was no need for further explanation as Nanfeng had already caught up. Two brides attacked Xie Lian, their fingers crimson and their nails sharp. Xie Lian took out the red veils he had picked up from the ground, threw them into the air, and they spun around before landing squarely on the heads of the two brides. Their movements instantly became sluggish.

As expected, the thick red veils obscured their eyes and noses, making it impossible to see their figures or sense their presence. Additionally, because their bodies were stiff, they couldn’t bend their arms to remove the veils. They could only grope and grab randomly, as if playing a game of hide and seek. The scene was both terrifying and ridiculous. Xie Lian stood in front of them and tentatively waved his hand in front of the two brides. Seeing them blindly reaching in the opposite direction, he thought for a moment and couldn’t help but say, “Sorry.” He grabbed their arms and put their hands onto each other’s necks.

The two brides suddenly felt something, trembled all over, but unable to see what it was, they began to fiercely claw at each other. Xie Lian quickly ran away, raised his hand, and Ruoxie Ling turned into a white ring, silently landing on the ground. He said to the people fleeing in all directions, “Everyone, get inside the circle!”

The group of people hesitated as they ran, but Xiaoying quickly helped the bandaged young man step inside the circle. After some thought, she ran back out and dragged the unconscious Xiaopengtou inside as well. At this moment, one of the brides jumped towards the edge of the white circle, reaching out her claws to grab, but it was as if an invisible wall suddenly separated them. Xiaoying noticed that she couldn’t jump inside and hurriedly shouted, “Everyone, come inside the circle! They can’t enter!”

Upon seeing this, everyone rushed over in a frenzy. Fortunately, Xie Lian had previously allowed Ruoxie Ling to grow several times its normal size, so the circle was large enough. Otherwise, he would have worried about someone being pushed out. The brides couldn’t enter the circle, realizing they couldn’t move this way, they turned around and screeched as they attacked Xie Lian.

However, Xie Lian had long been prepared. From his sleeves, he pulled out a bunch of veils, and four or five pieces of red cloth spun around in his hands, flying up, down, left, and right. His feet didn’t stop, his hands didn’t rest, and with each veil, he accurately covered one of the brides. Once covered, the bride would start groping around slowly, like a blind person feeling their way. The veils were spinning so quickly and expertly between his hands that they created a blur of red in the air. The people inside the white circle couldn’t help but cheer, “Great!” “Amazing, truly amazing.” “You must have trained in this skill!”

Hearing their praise, Xie Lian habitually blurted out, “It’s nothing, it’s nothing. Those who have money, show your support. Those who don’t, show your applause… Uh??” As soon as the words left his mouth, he realized his mistake. He had accidentally said the line he used to attract an audience when he performed in acrobat shows before. He quickly stopped himself. Meanwhile, several brides jumped up, soaring seven or eight meters high and flying a distance of over ten meters, carrying a putrid stench as they approached him. Xie Lian pushed off the ground, soaring through the air. In mid-air, he quickly recited the spiritual incantation three times, saying, “Spirit text, spirit text, omniscient! I have a question: Does the Northern Martial God, Mingguang General, have a beloved?”

The voice of the spirit text echoed in his ear, asking, “Why do you ask, Your Highness?”

Xie Lian replied, “I have a bit of a situation here, and it’s somewhat urgent. To be honest, there are over a dozen dead people chasing after me.”

The spirit text exclaimed, “Ah? That’s so terrible!”

Xie Lian: “That’s good. So, is there such a person? I know this question is quite personal, which is why I didn’t ask it within the spiritual array. The mission requires absolute confidentiality.”

Spirit Text: “Your Highness, you’ve misunderstood. It’s not that it’s a difficult question to answer, but rather, Lord Pei has had too many beloveds. When you suddenly ask like this, I don’t immediately know which one you’re referring to.”

Xie Lian almost stumbled, saying, “Alright then. Among Lord Pei’s beloveds, is there a woman with possessiveness, jealousy, and a disability?”

Spirit Text: “Now that you mention it, there is indeed one.”

Two more veils flew out, drawing cheers from the crowd. Xie Lian turned around, bowing and saying, “Go on.”

Spirit Text: “Before Lord Pei ascended, he was a general. He met a beautiful and fierce enemy female general on the battlefield, named Xuan Ji.”

Xie Lian nodded, “Hmm, Xuan Ji.”

The Spirit Text continued, “Lord Pei, whenever he saw a beautiful woman, even if a blade were held to his neck, he would still pursue her. This woman led troops and fought against him, becoming one of his defeated subordinates.”

Xuan Ji became a prisoner and was escorted to the enemy camp. Taking advantage of the unprepared guards, she attempted to commit suicide on the spot. But her attempt failed, as a certain general beheaded her with a three-foot green blade, saving her life. That charming and elegant general from the enemy country was none other than the later-ascended Mingguang General, Lord Pei.

Lord Pei, on the one hand, was always sympathetic towards beautiful women, and on the other hand, the overall situation of the war had been determined. Even if it continued to drag on, there was no chance of a comeback. So, he let Xuan Ji go. From then on, various things happened, and one can easily imagine what occurred. At this moment, a bride grabbed Xie Lian’s right leg and nearly pierced his flesh with her five fingers. He was about to kick her, but realized that this angle would only hit her face. He thought it wouldn’t be right to hit a girl’s face, so he changed his posture and kicked her shoulder instead. Then, he threw another veil, saying, “It sounds like a romantic tale.”

Spirit Text: “Originally, it was a romantic tale. But the problem was that Xuan Ji insisted on being with Lord Pei for life.”

Xie Lian took two steps back, leaping onto the roof and looking down at the five or six brides still approaching him. He wiped off some sweat and said, “It’s not wrong for a woman to want to be with someone for life.”

Spirit Text: “You’re right, but when two countries are at war, the battlefield is merciless. Originally, the two agreed on a brief romance, a relationship as fleeting as morning dew. They wanted the joy of the present without consideration for the future. They focused on love and ignored the war. Moreover, Lord Pei, to be honest, he’s lucky if he’s not involved with two people at once.”

“…”

“But Xuan Ji is from a noble family. Her temperament is extremely fierce. Once she wants something, she will hold onto it even if it means death…”

“Hold on, hold on!” Xie Lian interrupted, “First, tell me, is Xuan Ji disabled? And if so, where is her disability?”

“It’s her…” At this point, the voice of the Spirit Text abruptly stopped.

It was really maddening. Every time, when it came to a crucial point, the borrowed power would be completely depleted. Next time, he would have to start by asking the key questions upfront. As Xie Lian leaped and soared, he quickly reorganized his thoughts. If the bandaged youth wasn’t the groom, and the villagers had confirmed that there was no groom among them, then the only place left for someone to hide and blend in was among the seventeen brides!

When he had infiltrated their ranks, it wasn’t possible for the groom to notice at a glance that there was one extra body. Conversely, when the groom infiltrated, he also couldn’t immediately realize that there was an extra corpse. Thinking carefully, after Ruo Ya Ling injured the groom, Xie Lian only saw a mass of black smoke rolling towards the forest. It couldn’t be guaranteed that the groom was in that mass of black smoke. In fact, it was likely that he rushed out of the temple gate to chase after him, while the groom remained in the room’s black smoke, passing by him and returning to the main hall, hiding among the brides’ corpses.

Therefore, the “groom” was not the “groom” but a “bride” — a woman dressed in bridal attire!

Since it was a woman, many things could be deduced. For example, why there was no Mingguang Temple near Yujun Mountain. It wasn’t because the locals didn’t want to build it, but because they couldn’t. Xiaoying mentioned that “every time they wanted to build Mingguang Temple, it would inexplicably catch fire during construction.” It didn’t sound like a coincidence. It must have been intentionally set on fire. Why set the temple on fire? Typically, it’s due to hatred. However, in Yujun Mountain, there was another Mingguang Temple hidden within the maze, untouched and well-preserved. Why? The “groom” herself wore a bridal gown but couldn’t stand to see women wearing bridal gowns passing by Yujun Mountain. Why?

Everything connected, and apart from jealousy and possessiveness, Xie Lian couldn’t think of any other answers. And that strange sound, like heavy fabric wrapped around a stick, dragging something heavy—if it truly was the sound of footsteps, Xie Lian could only think of one possibility!

The bride who had been chasing him was completely covered by the veils he threw. Xie Lian finally landed, took a breath, calmed his mind slightly, and stood up to count.

One, two, three, four… ten.

Seven brides jumped into the forest, chased by Nan Feng. Ten brides had their veils put back on, all here. So, there was still one missing, yet to appear.

At that moment, he heard the familiar sound of “thump, thump” coming from behind him.

Xie Lian slowly turned around, and a figure of extreme shortness came into his view.

He took a slight breath and thought to himself, “Just as I suspected.”

Before him stood a diminutive woman, dressed in a red wedding gown, devoid of any festive atmosphere, only emanating grief and despair.

But the reason she appeared so short wasn’t because of her stature, but because she was kneeling on the ground.

Both her leg bones were broken, yet her lower legs hadn’t been severed. Instead, she continued to walk on her knees, using her kneecaps to move forward.

The strange “thump, thump” sound he heard was the noise of her hopping and walking on the ground with her two broken legs.