With those words, everyone fell silent. He hit the nail on the head. In these past two days, not a single person had come to help Xie Lian. At least the water peddler had intended to help by delivering water, even though it didn’t happen. The others didn’t even dare to look!

Someone shouted, “So what should we do now? If you don’t allow it, then come up with a solution!”

Seeing that the crowd was about to stir again, with some desperately pushing forward, another voice suddenly yelled, “Who’s making noise? If anyone makes noise, I’ll slice them!”

Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be the plump cook who had been the first to try to retrieve the sword when Xie Lian fell on the first day. He seemed provoked by something and said, “This guy is right! If it wasn’t for several people trying to stop me yesterday, I would have almost pulled out that sword! Why haven’t I moved now, while those who stopped me are making the most noise? Pah, do you even deserve to? It’s rare to see such shamelessness!”

This cook had a large build and a booming voice. He was still holding a kitchen knife, seemingly having just come out of the kitchen. Those who had been shouting earlier immediately dared not speak up again. Some people who didn’t know what had happened in the past two days asked in surprise, “Really? Not a single one of you went up?”

“Yes, we just let him lie there for two days? Didn’t even lend a hand?”

The accused individuals couldn’t bear the accusation and said, “Don’t act like you would have gone up if you were there. It’s easy to talk big after the fact. Don’t forget that when those ghostly things come down, not a single one of you will be able to escape!”

“Well, let me tell you, if I were there, I definitely would have gone up to help him retrieve the sword!”

“It’s easy to talk after the fact…”

“Hold on! What are you all arguing about? It’s not about whether the sword was pulled or not anymore!”

As they argued, the two groups were on the verge of a quarrel, and the rain was gradually subsiding. However, the dark cloud above grew even thicker, making it hard for hundreds of people below to breathe. Suddenly, a cry of alarm erupted from the crowd, and several hands pointed to the sky, exclaiming, “They’re here!!!”

Xie Lian also raised his head abruptly. He saw the faces rolling in the dark cloud suddenly stir, dragging their long “tails,” falling rapidly like black meteors!

The plague of the faces had arrived!

People were horrified and in a state of panic. Some ran away as fast as they could, while others took shelter inside houses. A few went to grab the black sword. However, when they reached for it, they found it had disappeared, as if it had vanished into thin air.

Xie Lian, who had been startled by the crowd’s reaction, now realized what had happened and asked, “Where’s the sword?! Who took it?!”

No one had time to answer. Everyone scattered in a frenzied run. But how could they outrun the descending speed of the vengeful spirits? Soon, cries of the living and screams of the vengeful spirits filled the air from all directions!

After catching up with the living, the vengeful spirits turned into rolling black smoke, intertwining and infiltrating their bodies relentlessly. Xie Lian fought back desperately, but there were simply too many vengeful spirits, and he couldn’t fend them off alone. He watched as countless people were chased and tormented in front of him. The water peddler couple and the plump cook were also overwhelmed by the black smoke, writhing on the ground. Meanwhile, Bai Wuxiang stood not far away, laughing coldly and watching idly.

Xie Lian was furious and anxious. He made up his mind and shouted towards the densest area of vengeful spirits, “Hey!”

As the one who had awakened these vengeful spirits, his shout naturally caught their attention. Xie Lian opened his arms and said, “Come to me!”

The vengeful spirits that had already attached themselves to the living hesitated, unsure whether to go over. Meanwhile, the vengeful spirits still in the air immediately changed direction and rushed towards Xie Lian.

Success!

Xie Lian’s heart was pounding, almost ready to stop. He didn’t know what would happen, and he didn’t know what he would become. But with a surge of sudden hot blood in his mind, he charged forward. He only felt that even if it was just to prove himself in front of those despicable monsters, even if he ended up beaten and bruised, he would never retreat. Even if a thousand or ten thousand more spirits came, he would be unstoppable!

Do you want to see me lamenting and despairing, giving up on myself?

I refuse!!!

Forever!!!

The overwhelming tide of darkness surrounded Xie Lian. One vengeful spirit after another howled through his body, freezing his heart for a moment. Then came the second, the third…

These things pierced through Xie Lian’s body like blades and swords, taking away bits of his warmth with each strike. Xie Lian’s face grew paler and paler, but he remained steadfast without stepping back. There were only a few hundred spirits. He had only held on for a short while. There would be many more to come. The entire sky was filled with them!

Xie Lian closed his eyes, prepared to bear the wrath of all the vengeful spirits by himself. However, the next vengeful spirit did not arrive as expected. Puzzled, he opened his eyes and suddenly realized that the overwhelming tide of darkness surrounding him had disappeared.

Because they had transformed into rolling black streams and were drawn away in another direction!

In astonishment, Xie Lian turned his head. At the end of the street stood a black-clad warrior, holding the black longsword.

Wu Ming?

Xie Lian had explicitly instructed him to leave and wait for him to unleash the plague of the faces. Why did he appear here at this moment?

Xie Lian had no idea what was going on or why the black-clad warrior was here. After a moment of confusion, he immediately rushed towards him, shouting, “Wait! What are you doing? Don’t touch it! Give me the sword!”

The black-clad warrior seemed to hear his voice and looked up slightly. Xie Lian couldn’t see his true face, only a drawn smile. But he had a strange feeling.

He felt that beneath the black-clad warrior’s mask, a genuine smile had appeared.

However, that feeling disappeared in an instant. The massive black torrent mixed with screams formed a whirlwind and converged in that direction, engulfing the black-clad warrior in an instant.

At that moment, Xie Lian heard a heart-wrenching scream.

He felt like he had heard that voice somewhere before. He definitely had heard that voice somewhere!

Pain. The pain was unbearable, as if it could break him, tearing him apart both physically and mentally. Xie Lian fell to his knees, clutching his head and screaming, “Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah!!!”

The sudden and intense pain surged through his heart and disappeared just as abruptly. After an unknown period of time, the surroundings quieted down, and Xie Lian’s hands, still clutching his head, fell limply.

He lifted his head dazedly and surveyed the area. People lay sprawled all around, most of them unconscious. The vengeful spirits that had been clinging to them had vanished.

This scene left him bewildered. What happened to the plague of the faces? What happened to the vengeful spirits? What happened to himself?

The black torrent had long dissipated. In the place where the black-clad Wu Ming had stood, only the black sword remained, lying on the ground. Next to the blade, there was a small white flower.

Xie Lian stumbled to his feet, approached, and picked up the flower and the sword.

He touched his face, examined his arms, and didn’t feel anything different about himself. It didn’t seem like he had suffered from a severe curse. In the midst of his confusion, a voice suddenly came from behind him, whispering, “Ah.”

Xie Lian turned around, and Bai Wuxiang stood behind him with his hands folded in his sleeves, his large sleeves fluttering in the wind.

Xie Lian hadn’t yet figured out what had happened, but he had a vague sense of unease.

Bai Wuxiang glanced at him and chuckled lightly. The sense of unease grew stronger, and Xie Lian furrowed his brow and asked, “What are you laughing at?”

Bai Wuxiang replied, “Don’t you know what happened yet?”

Xie Lian asked, “What happened?”

Bai Wuxiang said, “Do you know who that ghost was?”

“…,” Xie Lian pondered and replied, “A fallen soldier?”

Bai Wuxiang said, “Yes. But at the same time, he was also your last disciple in this world. And now, he’s gone.”

…Disciple?

He still had disciples in this world?

After a while, Xie Lian finally managed to utter a few words.

With difficulty, he asked, “What do you mean… gone?”

Bai Wuxiang said leisurely, “His soul has dispersed.”

Xie Lian found it hard to accept and asked, “Why did his soul disperse?!”

Bai Wuxiang replied, “Because he took the curse in your place. The vengeful spirits you summoned devoured him completely.”

“…”

The vengeful spirits he summoned?

Took the curse in his place?!

Bai Wuxiang added, “Oh, by the way, this isn’t the first time you’ve seen him.”

Xie Lian looked at him in a daze. Bai Wuxiang said with great interest, “This ghost seems to have been following you all along. Initially, I captured him because he had a deep grudge. But the results were quite interesting. Do you remember the Mid-Autumn Festival, Lantern Festival, and Ghostfire Soul?”

Xie Lian murmured, “Mid-Autumn Festival? Lantern Festival? Ghostfire Soul?”

Bai Wuxiang prompted leisurely, “This ghost was once your soldier in life and your vengeful spirit after death. He became a vengeful spirit because you died in battle, and he was consumed by the plague of the faces unleashed by you.”

Xie Lian seemed to vaguely remember something. But since he hadn’t even seen the face of this disciple, didn’t even know his name, how much could he really remember?

“Perhaps here, there are still followers who offer their worship to Your Highness…”

Yes, there were.

And they were the only followers he had left!

Bai Wuxiang seemed to say many other things, but Xie Lian listened in a daze, unable to hear anything. It wasn’t until the end when Bai Wuxiang said, “A god like you is already pathetic and laughable. Being your disciple is even more pitiful and laughable to the extreme.”

“…”

Earlier, when he mocked Xie Lian, Xie Lian had no reaction. But when he arrogantly criticized his disciple as pitiful and laughable, Xie Lian suddenly felt a surge of uncontrollable anger.

He rushed forward, only to be captured with a move. Bai Wuxiang coldly said, “You can’t win against me like this. How many times do I have to say it for you to recognize the truth?”

Xie Lian didn’t even intend to defeat him; it didn’t matter if he couldn’t win. He just wanted to beat this thing to a pulp and angrily said, “What do you know? Who do you think you are to mock him?!”

He was his only disciple in this world!

Bai Wuxiang said, “Why can’t I mock a disciple who follows a loser? You are foolish, and your disciple is even more foolish. Listen! If you want to defeat me, you must follow my teachings. Otherwise, you will never be able to surpass me!”

Xie Lian wanted to spit at him with all his might, but even breathing became difficult. Bai Wuxiang flipped his other hand, and a mask with a sad and happy expression appeared in his palm. He said, “Now, let’s start over!”

He was about to press the mask onto Xie Lian’s face when suddenly, boom, boom.

Lightning flashed and thunder roared in the sky, and a strange light shone from the clouds. Bai Wuxiang stopped his movement alertly and said, “What is this? A heavenly calamity?…”

Pausing for a moment, he negated his own guess, “No!”

No.

It was a heavenly calamity, but it wasn’t just a heavenly calamity!

A man’s voice resounded through the entire sky and said, “If he can’t defeat you, what about me?”

Xie Lian looked up suddenly.

At some point, a young warrior dressed in white armor, radiating auspicious light, appeared at the end of the street. He held his sword and stepped forward, cutting a path of light in this dreary world.

Xie Lian couldn’t help but widen his eyes.

Jun Wu!

After the rain cleared, Xie Lian sat on the scorched earth, breathing slightly.

Jun Wu sheathed his sword and walked over, saying, “Xian Yue, welcome back.”

He looked weary, with bloodstains on his face from Bai Wuxiang. In addition, Jun Wu had numerous wounds on his body, both major and minor, but Bai Wuxiang’s injuries were even worse, so severe that he was beaten to the point of disintegration, leaving behind only a broken mask on the ground.

When Jun Wu said “welcome back,” Xie Lian was taken aback. He touched his neck and realized that the curse had disappeared.

Jun Wu smiled and said, “I knew I didn’t make a mistake. You returned even faster than I imagined.”

Xie Lian gradually regained his senses and also smiled, though it was a bitter smile.

After calming his breath, he said, “Divine One, there is something I would like to ask of you.”

Jun Wu said, “You may.”

Xie Lian asked, “Don’t you want to know what it is?”

Jun Wu replied, “Since you will be requesting something when you return to Xian Le, let’s consider it your gift for returning.”

Xie Lian smirked, stood up, looked directly at Jun Wu, and said seriously, “Then, I request that you banish me from the mortal realm once again.”

Upon hearing this, Jun Wu’s smile faded, and he asked, “Why?”

Xie Lian confessed, “I made a mistake. The second outbreak of the plague was caused by me. Although the consequences didn’t seem severe.”

Because it was just the disappearance of an unnamed ghost. And in this world, no one would probably care about such an unnamed ghost. So, it didn’t seem that serious.

Jun Wu said slowly, “Knowing what is wrong is already a step in the right direction.”

But Xie Lian shook his head and said, “Knowing is not enough. When you make a mistake, you should face punishment. However, the one being punished in my place is…”

He lifted his head and said, “So, as a form of penance, I request that you give me another set of shackles, no, two sets. One to seal my powers and one to dissipate my luck.”

Jun Wu furrowed his brows slightly and said, “To dissipate your luck? Wouldn’t that bring you extreme misfortune, turning you into a true calamity?”

In the past, Xie Lian did care a lot about being called a calamity and strongly resisted it, feeling greatly insulted. But now, he didn’t care anymore and said, “If I become a calamity, then so be it. I know who I am.”

After he disperses his own fortune, it will naturally flow to other people who are excessively unfortunate. It could be considered as compensation.

Jun Wu reminded him, “It will be very embarrassing.”

Xie Lian said, “If it’s embarrassing, then so be it. Honestly, it feels… like I’m getting used to it.”

Although he didn’t want to get used to this, getting used to it seemed to make him truly invincible.

Jun Wu looked at him and said, “Xian Yue, you need to understand that without powers, you are no longer a god.”

Xie Lian sighed and said, “Divine One, I understand better than anyone.”

Pausing for a moment, he looked somewhat troubled and melancholic as he said, “People say I am a god because I have powers. But in reality, I… am not the god they believe I am, nor can I necessarily fulfill their desires and expectations.”

“Can a god be such a failure? Wanting to protect his people but causing them to die in droves; seeking revenge but stopping at the critical moment. White Wuxiang was not wrong about the aspect of ‘failure.’”

“Not being is not being, that’s all.”

Jun Wu carefully gazed at him for a while and said, “Xian Yue, you have grown up.”

These words should have been said by someone older than Xie Lian. Unfortunately, his father and mother never had the chance to say these words.

In a moment, Jun Wu said, “Since it is the path you have chosen, then, fine. However, if I am to banish you from the heavens, there must be a reason.”

They couldn’t just casually banish a divine official; what would be the point of having the heavenly court?

Xie Lian had an idea. He said, “Divine One, it seems like we have never had a full-fledged competition between us.”

Jun Wu immediately understood his meaning and smiled, saying, “Xian Yue, I do have injuries.”

Xie Lian replied, “I also have injuries, so it’s a fair match.”

Jun Wu nodded and said, “Since that’s the case, I won’t hold back.”

Xie Lian smiled faintly, his eyes flashing with a eager light, and said, “Neither will I.”

The Crown Prince was once again banished.

After the thunderous second heavenly calamity, Xie Lian, the Crown Prince Xian Yue, returned to the heavenly court in a fierce manner, fighting his way back with punches and kicks. However, he was only able to ascend for less than the duration of an incense stick before being struck down by the God of War. All the divine officials couldn’t understand, what exactly did this person want to do???

But Xie Lian also couldn’t understand what the other divine officials wanted to do.

Why were they so curious? They were constantly watching, observing as mortals and transforming into animals. Have they been spying on him for several days? Was it so interesting to watch a grown man do physical labor and mud-brick construction?

While pondering this, the foreman behind him called out, “You, the newcomer! I’m talking to you! Work honestly and don’t be lazy!”

Xie Lian quickly sat up and replied loudly, “Oh!”

He grabbed a broken fan and waved it vigorously. In front of him, several bricks were stacked to form a small stove, and on the stove, a large pot of rice was boiling.

This was the construction site where he was moving dirt and mud. However, the bricks had already been moved, and not far away, two brand-new temples had been completed. Now his task was to cook rice. As he cooked, he absentmindedly threw random things into the pot while glancing at the two carriages that had arrived.

Two tall statues were being carried into the two temples. In the left temple, there were cheers, “General Xuan Zhen is great! General Xuan Zhen is kind-hearted!”

Xie Lian was speechless.

To praise and admire with the phrase “kind-hearted,” were these followers serious???

However, they seemed to have sufficient reasons. After all, it was widely known that Xuan Zhen ascended because he had cleared away the stubborn remaining vengeful spirits in the old imperial city of Xian Yue. Understanding it as kindness and benevolence was not unreasonable. In any case, all the people of the old imperial city were very grateful to him.

In the right temple, they also loudly shouted, “General Ju Yang is great! General Ju Yang is invincible!”

Xie Lian nodded. He had no objections to that. However, it might not be the case when it came to dealing with women.

Both groups of followers shouted and screamed with all their might, each trying to drown out the other. Xie Lian’s ears were hurting from the noise, and he sighed, rubbing his temples, thinking, why bother?

If they disliked each other so much, why not build the temples in separate locations?

The answer was—of course not! Because this was the most prosperous and auspicious place in the city, and these two divine officials’ followers would never give up such a fertile land just to avoid each other. They would fight for each other’s incense offerings and thoroughly disgust each other.

In no time, the followers from both sides had escalated from verbal insults to physical fights. While this was happening, Xie Lian felt that the time was right. He knocked on the pot lid with a ladle and shouted loudly, “Everyone, stop fighting! Let’s eat!”

But they were too engrossed in their fight to pay him any attention. Xie Lian shook his head, removed the lid, and a fragrant aroma spread for miles. Well, that’s good. Everyone immediately stopped fighting and exclaimed, “…What the fuck… What is this smell?!”

“Who is cooking shit?!”

“Is it shit with the taste of burnt rice?!”

Xie Lian defended himself, “What! This is a highly classified royal cuisine…”

The foreman came over, holding his nose and turned green in the face. He jumped up and said, “Bullshit! Highly classified royal cuisine, my ass! Who do you think you are? Get lost, get lost, get lost! Stop disgusting people!”

Xie Lian compromised and said, “Fine, I’ll leave. But please kindly give me my wages first…”

The foreman angrily interrupted, “You dare mention wages! Let me ask you! Ever since you came here, how much have I lost!!! Huh? The thunder during the rain doesn’t strike anywhere else but you! The house caught fire three times! And it collapsed three times! You’re simply a jinx! How dare you ask for your wages! Get out! If you come again, I’ll hit you again!”

Xie Lian responded, “You can’t say it like that. You said it yourself, it’s all because of me. Everyone else was fine. I think you just want to avoid paying me, don’t you?” Before he could finish his sentence, the foreman and the other workers couldn’t stand the smell coming from the pot any longer. They quickly ran away as if swept away by a gust of wind. Xie Lian shouted, “Wait!”

Turning around, he saw that the two groups who were fighting earlier had also been driven away by the smell. Xie Lian was at a loss for words and muttered to himself, “They don’t even eat it, but they asked me to cook such a big pot. Can money be wasted so casually?”

Shaking his head, he thought for a moment, then filled two large bowls with rice. One bowl he placed in the Ju Yang Temple, and the other he placed in the Xuan Zhen Temple. Finally feeling satisfied with making the most of the situation, he clapped his hands together, contented.

After packing up his belongings outside, carefully rolling up the grass mat on the ground, he tied it together with his sword and slung it over his back. He gently rubbed the white silk tied around his wrist and tapped it, adjusting the hat on his head. He said, “Well, if they won’t give me money, then they won’t give me money. I’ll go perform.”

After all, he still had a unique skill—breaking large stones with his chest!

As he walked along the road, Xie Lian suddenly noticed a small red flower by the roadside, quite lovely. He crouched down, lightly touching its petals, feeling in a good mood. He said to it, “Hope to see you again in the future.”

As he walked far away, the small red flower continued to sway in the wind.