Shi Qing Xuan said, “Did it manipulate the formation after we left Pu Qi Temple?”

But then he contradicted himself, “No! That’s not possible.”

Xie Lian also said, “It’s not possible. We already came out of the door just now. Even if it tampered with the formation after that, we should have arrived at the original destination because the formation was already activated. So, it only had a moment to act.”

That moment was when Ming Yi finished drawing the formation, Shi Qing Xuan extinguished the candles, and the entire Pu Qi Temple was plunged into darkness!

However, this contradicted what Xie Lian had just said. Shi Qing Xuan said, “But there were only the four of us in the room.”

In such a small Pu Qi Temple, with three divine officials and a Ghost King present, how could something else go unnoticed? And if one of them had tampered with it in the darkness, who was the most likely suspect?

Shi Qing Xuan couldn’t help but glance at Hua Cheng. Although he immediately restrained himself, Hua Cheng didn’t miss that glance and smiled, saying, “What are you looking at me for? If anything, isn’t Lord Ming Yi even more suspicious?”

Ming Yi also glanced at him. Hua Cheng said, “Thieves accusing each other, isn’t that quite common? Why did you come here in the first place? If you and your esteemed brother truly feared the True Plain-Spoken Immortal so much, why did you bother compiling that pile of junk? If you were conspiring together to mislead us and lead us here, it wouldn’t be impossible.”

Just by his expression, it was clear that he was randomly spouting nonsense without any regard. But it seemed plausible and made everyone suspect one another. Shi Qing Xuan was starting to waver and said, “Am I… am I that bored?”

Hua Cheng laughed, “Likewise, I’m not that bored either.”

He would respond with the same thing that was used against him. Xie Lian, who was thinking about something, waved his hand and said, “Alright, everyone stop. Let’s not suspect each other before we solve the problem.”

Hua Cheng laughed heartily and didn’t say anything more. His attitude was clear—he wouldn’t help, but he wouldn’t cause trouble either. There was no need to rely on him or be cautious around him. After pondering for a moment, Xie Lian said, “Actually, there is another possibility. While Ming Yi was drawing the formation inside the house, someone outside drew a more powerful formation on the door.”

At that time, Shi Qing Xuan had used a spell to prevent Qi Rong from hearing their conversation, sealing Pu Qi Temple. Relatively speaking, it would be more difficult to detect if someone tampered with the door from the outside. When similar formations clashed, the stronger one would prevail. The “strength” not only depended on the skill of the person setting up the formation but also on the materials used. Ming Yi had used old cinnabar that Xie Lian had collected from a fellow scavenger. If someone used fresh blood to “strengthen” the formation, they would naturally have an advantage.

Shi Qing Xuan immediately accepted this possibility and said, “Outside the house? Could it be Qing Gui? But with his condition, can he still cause trouble?”

Xie Lian said, “I don’t think so…”

Hua Cheng said in a calm voice, “He won’t be able to make a move within seven days. However, there’s more than just him outside.”

It seemed like he was implying something. Xie Lian said, “In any case, let’s not jump to conclusions and hurt each other’s trust.”

After taking a few steps, Xie Lian said, “The words of that creature were strange. Why did it say that this place would become a ’nightmare that you never want to remember’ for Shi Qing Xuan? What could we encounter in this place?”

Looking around, Shi Qing Xuan furrowed his brows slightly and said, “…Wait. This place seems…”

Before he could finish his sentence, Ming Yi’s eyes suddenly narrowed, and he struck out with a palm, splitting something square in the air. The object fell from the sky, heading straight for Shi Qing Xuan’s forehead. He jumped back several feet and patted his chest, saying, “That was close, too close!” When he lowered his head and took a closer look, his pupils suddenly contracted. Xie Lian went up to take a look and was also slightly shocked. The object turned out to be a plaque with blue background and golden characters, which read “Feng Shui Hall.”

2 / 2

Splitting a plaque of a divine official’s temple into two halves was a major taboo. Ming Yi retracted her palm, her expression stern. Shi Qing Xuan was stunned for a moment, then immediately waved his sleeve and swept away the broken plaque, whispering, “Keep it a secret, a secret! Don’t let my brother know that his plaque was smashed. It would drive him crazy!”

Xie Lian turned around and said, “This… is actually a Feng Shui Hall?”

Indeed, the dilapidated house they came out of was a Feng Shui Hall.

The God of Water was associated with wealth, and everyone loved wealth. Temples under his patronage always had a thriving incense. It was unimaginable that it would be in such a desolate state, as if a stack of banknotes had been thrown on the street, exposed to wind, sun, and rain, without anyone picking them up. Shi Qing Xuan rushed back into the temple, and everywhere he looked, there were cobwebs and ancient dust, a desolation that no one cared about. After searching for a while, he finally found two horribly disfigured statues among the pile of discarded debris at the back of the house.

The statue of the Wind Master was missing an arm and a leg, while the statue of the Water Master had its head completely detached. It wasn’t due to long years of aging and natural decay, but rather someone had smashed them with a sharp weapon, as if someone had vented endless resentment and malice on them. Yet, these two statues were incredibly lifelike, vividly capturing their features. They lay in such a miserable state, with a smile on their faces, in the broken and desolate ancient temple, creating a deeply uncomfortable feeling.

Shi Qing Xuan embraced one statue with each hand, holding them close to his chest, and said, “What grudges and grievances are these?”

Although Xie Lian also felt a strong sense of malice from this scene, in order to stabilize Shi Qing Xuan’s state of mind, he said in a warm voice, “Master Feng, calm down. When people worship, there will always be some who defile. It’s a common occurrence in the world, so don’t mind it. It must have been deliberately arranged to provoke your fearful heart and draw power from it.”

Ming Yi concisely added, “Can you handle it? If not, let’s go.”

Shi Qing Xuan brushed the dust off the faces of the two statues, clenched his teeth, held onto the Wind Master’s fan tightly, and stood up decisively, saying, “I can handle it! I want to see what kind of tricks it’s playing.”

The four of them left the dilapidated Feng Shui Hall and took a stroll around the town. The town was peaceful, stable, neither prosperous nor backward, and there was nothing unusual. Rather, the most extraordinary thing was themselves. Among ordinary mortals, their appearances, bearing, and attire were too eye-catching. Therefore, they soon retreated into an alley and changed their outfits.

Xie Lian’s original attire was already plain enough, so he didn’t need to change. The other three completely changed from head to toe. Shi Qing Xuan commented on Ming Yi’s attire, while Hua Cheng donned a refreshing black outfit. His long hair, which was rarely neatly tied up, was adorned with white jade, adding a touch of vitality. He looked like a handsome and talented junior from a reputable and upright sect. He still stood out even if dressed as a beggar, exceptionally eye-catching. Seeing him, Xie Lian couldn’t help but recall an old saying, “A handsome man looks good in anything, even in black.” He thought it was indeed true. Returning to his senses, he suddenly remembered something and whispered, “San Lang, there’s something I’ve been forgetting to ask you.”

Hua Cheng adjusted his sleeve and asked, “What is it?”

Xie Lian clenched his fist and lightly coughed into it, trying to sound casual, as he asked, “What is your telepathic password?”

If one wanted to communicate with another person telepathically at any time, they first had to obtain the other person’s password. For example, to contact Shi Qing Xuan, one had to loudly recite the following four lines of doggerel in their mind: “Master Feng, a genius bestowed by the heavens.” “Master Feng, witty and charming.” “Master Feng, kind and upright.” “Master Feng, just twenty-eight years old.” Of course, the passwords of ordinary divine officials wouldn’t be so difficult to articulate and would usually be more straightforward.

The telepathic passwords of higher-ranking divine officials were not easily disclosed unless the relationship was close and important. As the Ghost King of Extinction, it was natural for Hua Cheng to keep his password secret. Although the two of them hadn’t known each other for long, their relationship should be considered quite good. It was strange that Xie Lian hadn’t received Hua Cheng’s password yet. However, upon reflection, they had met directly every time something happened, so it seemed like exchanging passwords wasn’t necessary.

Xie Lian had never asked for any divine official’s password before because he could simply call out to them in the telepathic array if something came up. If he wanted to have a private conversation with someone, he could communicate through the array. This was the first time he took the initiative to ask someone for their password, so he was a little worried about being impolite. Seeing Hua Cheng’s flickering gaze but no response, he felt a bit awkward and said, “Is it inconvenient? It’s alright, you don’t have to tell me. I can find a way to ask you quietly…”

Hua Cheng interrupted him and said, “There’s no inconvenience. I’m happy to tell you.”

Xie Lian was taken aback.

Hua Cheng sighed and said, “I’m glad that you finally asked me, Gege. Because you never brought it up, I thought there might be some inconvenience, and I didn’t want to exchange passwords with others, so I never mentioned it. Now that you’ve finally asked, how can I just treat it as a casual question?”

Xie Lian let out a sigh of relief, his mood immediately brightening. He held Hua Cheng’s hand and said, “So, we both had the same concerns! I was wrong just now, that remark was the casual one. I apologize to San Lang. So, what’s your password?”

Hua Cheng’s eyes gleamed slightly as he leaned forward and said, “Listen carefully, Gege. I’ll only say it once.” After speaking, he quietly recited a sentence.

Xie Lian widened his eyes after listening and said, “Is it… really this? San Lang, are you sure you didn’t make a mistake?”

Hua Cheng remained calm and said, “Hmm. It’s this. Don’t believe me? Why don’t you try it now?”

Xie Lian didn’t dare to try. He said, “Isn’t that mean every time someone wants to contact you, they have to silently recite this sentence three times? Wouldn’t that be embarrassing?”

Hua Cheng chuckled and said, “It’s precisely because I don’t want others to contact me that I deliberately set it as this sentence. It makes them give up in frustration. However, if Gege wants to reach me, I’ll be available anytime.”

Xie Lian couldn’t help but feel a bit skeptical and thought to himself, “This is really wicked…”

He hesitated, wanting to use telepathy but couldn’t bring himself to utter the password. Even silently reciting it wouldn’t work. Seeing Xie Lian covering half of his face and turning away, unable to make up his mind, Hua Cheng finally laughed enough and said, “Alright, alright. If Gege doesn’t dare to say it, I’ll contact you instead. What’s your password?”

Xie Lian turned back and said, “Recite the Tao Te Ching a thousand times.”

“…”

Hua Cheng raised an eyebrow. In a short while, Xie Lian heard his voice in his ear, saying, “‘Recite the Tao Te Ching a thousand times.’ Are these eleven words correct?”

The two stood face to face, but remained silent, communicating through their eyes, speaking in a voice that others couldn’t hear. It was quite amusing. Xie Lian responded with telepathy, “That’s right. You didn’t fall for it.”

Hua Cheng blinked and continued, “Hahaha, I almost fell for it. It’s really amusing.”

Xie Lian also blinked, a smile on his face.

It should be noted that this password was one he had thought of very seriously eight hundred years ago. He considered it to be quite amusing and continued to use it after ascending. However, many other divine officials didn’t seem to find it amusing. Even after falling for it, they fell into silence. Mu Qing had even directly said, “Your Highness, your idea is too cold. I can’t even force myself to laugh.” Feng Xin laughed hysterically, but his sense of humor was very low and inexplicable. If he laughed, Xie Lian didn’t feel any sense of accomplishment. Since Hua Cheng was also laughing now, it probably meant it was genuinely amusing.

Their original plan was to go to the most expensive restaurant in the imperial city for a drink. But since they couldn’t make it to the imperial city, it didn’t matter where they drank, so they went to the largest restaurant in the town and requested a private room. They sat idle for a while, and when the waiter brought the drinks, Xie Lian asked, “Excuse me, where are we?”

Although it was a strange question, it was the most direct and effective way to find out. The waiter was surprised and asked, “Aren’t you distinguished guests who came here for our famous local performance? This is Bogu Town.”

Xie Lian asked, “Famous local performance? What performance?”

The waiter raised his thumb and said, “Our town’s folk performance! It’s quite famous around here. Every year at this time, many people from other places come to see the spectacle.”

Xie Lian said, “For what occasion? It’s not a specific holiday today. Tomorrow is the beginning of Cold Dew at most.”

The waiter said, “It doesn’t have to be a specific holiday. Sometimes it’s to commemorate someone and they choose a special day to have a celebration and enjoy themselves.”

At that moment, a commotion arose on the street below the restaurant. Someone shouted, “Make way, make way! Children and women, don’t stand in the front! Move back, the troupe is coming!”

The four of them looked down the street. What they saw was extraordinary. Xie Lian’s eyes widened. A long procession had arrived on the street. Every person in the procession had vibrant red makeup on their faces, wore various extravagant costumes, and had a sharp weapon inserted on their foreheads.

The sharp or blunt, rusty axes, cleavers, iron tongs, and scissors deeply penetrated their skulls, stabbing through their foreheads. Some even had their eyeballs squeezed out, blood dripping down their cheeks. Others had the weapons pierced from their foreheads, exiting through the back of their heads, creating an extremely bloody scene. The participants in the procession furrowed their brows, expressing pain and agony. Their faces were covered in blood. However, amidst the cheerful and rhythmic music, they continued to walk forward slowly, resembling a procession of ghosts.