They have actually come to Copper Furnace Mountain!

Xie Lian said, “If Gu Zi is here, could Qi Rong be here too?”

Hua Cheng replied, “Judging by the green glow above her head, there’s no doubt about it.”

Gu Zi seemed a little afraid of Xuan Ji. He didn’t dare to move a muscle in her arms. However, perhaps it was uncomfortable to have Xuan Ji’s cold presence so close, so he secretly twisted around a bit. Xuan Ji scolded, “Don’t move!”

As she spoke, the muscles on her face twisted under the green ghostly fire’s illumination, making her appearance even more distorted. The ghostly fire was one of the signs of a ghost, and the taste was truly extremely awful. Xie Lian thought that any normal ghost who cared about their appearance would refuse to top their head with such an unsightly green ghostly fire. Without a doubt, it was Qi Rong who had insisted she wear it. The green fire and the red dress created a visually striking scene, making it even more unbearable than the sect leader forcing disciples to wear extremely ugly uniforms.

Gu Zi, with tears in his eyes, said, “Sister, my stomach feels a bit uncomfortable after drinking that water.”

Water? Xie Lian couldn’t help but break out in a cold sweat. Those underground waters were swum through by swarms of corpse-eating rats. Although it wasn’t poisonous or anything, children with weaker resistance might end up with diarrhea if they drank it. Xuan Ji, who didn’t seem to like children, had little patience for him and said, “Endure it. We’re already on our way back.”

Their figures blended into the darkness ahead. Without saying a word, Xie Lian and Hua Cheng silently followed behind. Before long, they turned a few corners with Xuan Ji and entered another street. At the end of the street, there was an exceptionally magnificent house, from which voices could be heard. It must be their destination. Xie Lian and Hua Cheng hid in the shadows, quickly climbed onto the roof of the house, and peered down through the cracks. Sure enough, Qi Rong was sitting grandly in the center of the mansion’s hall.

He had moved over a dozen petrified people, and their heads were facing him. Since these petrified people were all lying on the ground, it looked as if they were prostrating themselves before him. He enjoyed their “worship” while proudly gnawing on a bloody arm. Sitting in the corner were five or six peasants, among whom buried their heads with an unnoticeable presence – it was Yin Yu!

He had indeed been intercepted by Qi Rong. Although no one was bound with ropes, a green ghostly fire hung above each person’s head. Upon closer inspection, those clusters of ghostly fire were different from the decorative ones on Xuan Ji’s head. They even had facial features, with sinister expressions as if they were evil little people, closely monitoring the people below.

Xie Lian whispered, “That fire is peculiar.”

Hua Cheng said, “That’s Qi Rong’s ghostly fire lock. Once someone is locked onto by that fire, if they dare to escape, it will scream shrilly. As long as the spell is activated, the hostage will be burned to death in an instant.”

Qi Rong abruptly threw away the arm he was gnawing on and wiped the blood from his mouth. Xie Lian was puzzled. What was this action about? Was he afraid of being seen? Qi Rong actually had a day where he was embarrassed for others to see him eating?

Before Xuan Ji entered, she first set Gu Zi down. Gu Zi hurriedly rushed inside and ran to Qi Rong, immediately pointing at him and shouting, “Dad is sneaking and eating bad things again!”

Qi Rong replied, “No, I’m not!”

However, Gu Zi insisted, “I smell it! It makes your breath stink!”

Qi Rong forcefully exhaled into his hand a few times, probably detecting the smell of blood in his mouth. Unable to deny it, he became annoyed and cursed, “Damn it! Xuan Ji! Why did you suddenly bring him back? Didn’t I say for you to take him out for a while when I eat?! “Xuan Ji quietly walked in and said, “After he drank the water, he complained of stomach discomfort, so I brought him back first. Sir, please don’t ask me to take care of the child anymore. I don’t know how to handle him!”

Qi Rong glared and criticized, “What! Aren’t you a female ghost? How could a female ghost not like taking care of children? You’re incompetent!”

Xuan Ji said, “He’s not my own child!”

Gu Zi grabbed Qi Rong’s clothes and said, “Dad, please don’t eat those things anymore. They’re not good…”

Qi Rong, annoyed by him, scolded, “Get out! Get out! Don’t bother me here. A little kid dares to manage adults. Go out and play by yourself!” Gu Zi had no choice but to go out and play with mud. Before leaving, he cast a glance at the person in the corner of the room. After he left, Xuan Ji said, “Sir, I really don’t understand. If you find this child troublesome, why did you bring him on the journey? Along the way, he ate, drank, cried, and fell ill. If we hadn’t encountered a mountain monster who gave us a lift, I’m afraid we would still be burdened by him now.”

Qi Rong chuckled, “If this cheap brat insists on calling me dad, then let him. Pah, of course, it’s because I want to eat this little idiot! Such a young child with tender, tender flesh. It’s delicious even without seasoning! Hehehehe…”

Xuan Ji asked, “Then why haven’t you eaten him yet, sir?”

Qi Rong’s eyes emitted a green light as he said, “You don’t understand, do you? Fatten him up before killing! The best part should be saved for last! Besides, we still have plenty of provisions. There’s no rush!”

Speaking of provisions, Xuan Ji stared at Yin Yu and said, “I find this newly captured person very suspicious, extremely suspicious. Sir, have you found out his true identity?”

Knowing Qi Rong’s hatred for Hua Cheng, if he found out Yin Yu was under Hua Cheng, wouldn’t he be the first to attack him? However, Qi Rong replied, “I found out. This kid came to help us by chance, just like Rain Master.”

Having an inconspicuous presence and personality can sometimes be a good thing. Ordinary people wouldn’t connect Yin Yu with Blood Rain Prodigy. It seemed that Yin Yu successfully fabricated a lie about his identity, which relieved Xie Lian. However, Xuan Ji’s expression changed, “Rain Master Huang has already chased us here?!”

Qi Rong said, “No, he hasn’t. This kid stumbled upon this underground city just like us. Rain Master hasn’t found us yet. Damn it!” He suddenly cursed, “Why is Rain Master so persistent? He chased and attacked us all the way, forcing us to hide underground! Just because we took a few people from his hometown to eat? Is he that stingy? He’s a divine official, but I knew that the divine officials in the Heavenly Court are all despicable! Narrow-minded!”

He always justified himself, first capturing those farmers who were peacefully farming, and now complaining that they didn’t give him enough food. Xie Lian couldn’t help but feel the urge to smack him. Xuan Ji said, “Should we just release those people?”

But Qi Rong felt it would be losing face, so he glared and said, “No! I’ve already eaten half of them. Returning them now won’t make a difference. The feud is already settled! Either don’t start taking them in the first place, or if we’re going to eat, eat them all! If they push me too far, I’ll burn them all with a single fire. None of them will have a good ending!”

Xuan Ji said, “I didn’t expect it to turn out like this either. Rain Master Huang’s temperament was not like this before. It’s not an exaggeration to say that he was easily bullied. I thought even if Rain Master’s hometown was taken, he would endure silently and not dare to act. Who knew it would bring about such a big trouble that we can’t shake off!”

Xuan Ji actually knew Rain Master and even seemed to look down on him. It seemed that they knew each other before becoming ghosts. Thinking of various rumors, Xie Lian whispered, “Could it be that Xuan Ji is a general from Rain Master’s country?”

Hua Cheng said, “Brother’s guess is correct. That’s exactly it.”

Xie Lian doubted, “But that’s not right, is it? Rain Master is a descendant of the imperial family of his country, with a noble status. Xuan Ji is just a general, a subordinate. How could she dare to look down on someone from the imperial family? And to say ’easily bullied’…”

At this moment, Qi Rong interrupted, “Who cares about Rain Master or dog-master? When this Ghost King enters the Copper Furnace and cultivates to perfection, he will shock the heavens and the earth. Everyone, above and below, will kneel before me and eat mud from my feet! By then, I will destroy the Ghost Market, sink Blackwater Island. Even Jun Wu will have to show me respect, treating me politely. Hahahahahaha…”

“…”

Listening to him boast and indulge in his imagination of a glorious future, Xie Lian couldn’t help but want to laugh. Hua Cheng, on the other hand, had no interest in laughing. Qi Rong then said to Xuan Ji, “By then, I’ll cut off Pei Ming’s thing for you to play with. He’ll be nothing more than your slave.”

When Xuan Ji heard that name, she tightened her fingers, and a trace of life appeared on her pale face. She said, “No need! As long as sir promises to hand him over to me for disposal, Xuan Ji will be extremely grateful!”

When it didn’t involve Pei Ming, Xuan Ji seemed like a normal female ghost. But once Pei Ming was mentioned, Xie Lian saw the shadow of that insane female ghost from Mount Jun. She actually placed such absurd hope in Qi Rong, which could only be explained by the blindness caused by love. Xie Lian looked up and asked, “San Lang, what should we do with Yin Yu and these farmers in Qi Rong’s hands?”

They could simply rush in and beat up Qi Rong and Xuan Ji, but those farmers and Yin Yu were hostages. Qi Rong was unscrupulous. If they hit him and he retaliated by burning one person to death, they would be the ones at a disadvantage. It was indeed possible for him to do as he said and burn them all in a fit of rage. Hua Cheng remained calm and said, “Qi Rong’s Ghost Fire Lock has a password. We need to find a way to extract the unlocking password from him.”

Xie Lian asked, “Who will do it? And how? We definitely can’t do it.”

As soon as he asked, their gaze unconsciously fell on Gu Zi, who was playing with mud outside the house.

After a moment of hesitation, Xie Lian said, “That’s not a good idea. It’s too dangerous. Qi Rong already has his eyes on Gu Zi, and if he suspects something, it could be risky…”

However, Hua Cheng countered, “Whether or not his brain can figure it out is another matter. If he tries to harm the child, we can intervene and rescue the child first. Brother, don’t worry too much. This child has been with Qi Rong for a while, but we need to make sure he hasn’t been influenced by him and that his mind is still sound.”

Xie Lian replied, “Based on Gu Zi’s reaction just now, it seems unlikely. So… shall we give it a try?”

With that, Hua Cheng opened his hand, and a particularly small silver butterfly flew out from his palm and descended slowly below.

Qi Rong and Xuan Ji continued their conversation inside the house, while Gu Zi sat on the ground outside, drawing in the mud. He drew a figure of an adult holding a smaller figure when suddenly, he noticed a silver butterfly emitting a faint silver light flying towards him. He looked up, his eyes widening, about to exclaim in surprise. But then, the silver butterfly emitted a soft human voice, saying, “Gu Zi, don’t speak. If I hear your voice, I’ll disappear. It’s me. Do you remember me?”

If Gu Zi were to continue shouting, Hua Cheng would use the light to bewitch his mind. However, Gu Zi covered his mouth, obediently staying quiet and whispered, “I remember. It’s the voice of the rag collector brother.”

“…” Xie Lian chuckled and said, “Hahaha, your memory is really good. Yes, that’s right, it’s me, the rag collector. Come quietly to my side, don’t let Qi… don’t let your dad notice.”

Gu Zi nodded and stood up, about to quietly move to the side. However, Qi Rong suddenly noticed and shouted, “Hey! Don’t run around aimlessly! Did you hear me? If you dare to wander here, the big rat will eat you! Come back!”