If someone says "I have killed someone," then that person is definitely a murderer; if someone says "I have killed thirty-six people," then that person is a murderer who can be on TV and become the protagonist of a legal program. But if someone says, "I have killed forty-one thousand six hundred and thirty-six people"... then he is probably a web-addicted teenager who is obsessed with games.
Xuan Ji first exclaimed in confusion, then his focus involuntarily shifted: "You don't even remember who you are, but you remember such a big number?"
Is this heavenly demon an ancient accountant?
Sheng Lingyuan ignored him.
Xuan Ji asked again: "Or did you just remember something?"
After a while, he heard the person in the sword make a vague "Hmm" sound.
Xuan Ji immediately regretted it. He felt like a big idiot who had bought high before the stock market crash. When he was able to use the heavenly demon’s brain as a search engine earlier, the heavenly demon couldn't even remember his own name. Now that he was disconnected, that guy said his memory was recovering!
However... someone whose memory is recovering must have a very confused mind right now, right? Can he take advantage of this opportunity?
"Um... your Majesty," Xuan Ji turned his treacherous heart in his stomach and took the opportunity to test him, "did you have to calculate the number of heads after defeating a city precisely like this? Those who are bad at math can't join your team... Is the witch tribe your enemy?"
"No," Sheng Lingyuan was momentarily absent-minded, and he didn't even correct the title of "Your Majesty," "The witch tribe has always been our ally. They consider themselves human... Look at the shape of those bones, they are exactly the same as human bones."
The information in this sentence was too much for Xuan Ji. His pupils shrank, and in a flash of lightning, countless thoughts flashed through his mind.
What does that mean?
What does it mean for the "witch tribe to consider themselves human, so they are allies"?
Isn't war fought between people and people? Are they fighting against dogs?
No...the war was not a human-to-human war, but the great Nine Provinces War three thousand years ago! The Emperor Ping, whose name was Jun, was a lover of war. According to ordinary historical records, during his reign, the southwestern ethnic minorities grew stronger, and there were many frictions between the border people and the people of the Central Plains. Unfortunately, Emperor Ping did not have "cocaine" or "weed" to keep him entertained, so he decided to personally lead his army with his two adult sons to conquer the rebellious region.
The army marched mightily towards the Chiyuan, with the operation codenamed the "First Battle of Pingyuan", and succeeded in conquering the region. In the First Battle of Pingyuan, an emperor, two princes, and many nobles and military elites died, which put an end to the country's fortunes. Afterwards, the map was burned, the jade seal was shattered, the empress fled, and the capital fell. With no one to rely on, people from all over the country and different ethnic groups had to establish their own power and thus began a chaotic period of more than 20 years. This period is known as the "Great Melee Era" in history.
As for the specific ethnic group of the "southwestern ethnic minorities", there are many hypotheses put forward by the academic community, but each has its own loopholes. After all, three thousand years is too long, and too many things cannot be investigated. The physical evidence that can be preserved is rare and scattered throughout the country. Even now, a single exhibition hall cannot be established, because most of the valuable cultural relics are in the Bureau's Ancient Studies Department, and they are all sealed.
The Ancient Studies Department has a complete archive, which contains all kinds of relics from the Great Melee Era, all of which contain extraordinary energy. The truth is that the so-called "southwestern ethnic minorities" were not the ancestors of humans at all. They were non-human races that existed alongside the human race, separated by the Chiyuan Grand Canyon.
In 1981, the Bureau successfully deactivated a formation in an outer area of the Chiyuan region and discovered a cave with the remains of a giant bird skeleton, weighing as much as 300 kilograms. There was a stone tablet at the entrance of the cave, which was inscribed with the words "Tomb Guardian, Bifang Clan Yan Ming."
The stone tablet still retained traces of thunder and fire-based abilities. After careful detection and comparison, it was found to match the residual energy on the skeleton. Therefore, it is believed that the bird skeleton belongs to a highly intelligent bird with a considerable cultural level. In other words, this bone belongs to a highly intelligent bird with a relatively high cultural level. Its physique is very similar to the legendary 'Firebird Bifang'. The Ancient Studies Department believes that these non-human races are likely to be the prototypes of the 'monsters' in folklore.
The Great War was actually the only calamity caused by a war between humans and non-humans in history.
It ended with the succession of the Emperor Sheng Xiao, the successor of the last Emperor Ping, during the Great War.
This Great Emperor of Qi is said to be the illegitimate child of Emperor Ping, born in the same year as the First War of Pingyuan, and he never had a good day since his birth, either fleeing or wandering, growing up in the chaos of war, and later suppressing the chaotic hordes of demons with his own power, beheading the Demon King, establishing boundary markers and the Qingping Division, leaving an indelible mark on the annals of history.
In the later period of his rule, Emperor Wu showed an unusually cold and ruthless side, and eventually descended into complete madness... His remains were nowhere to be found when he jumped off the cliff of Chiyuan, and the mausoleum of Emperor Wu later generations found only contained a tombstone.
This great demon was born during the Great War, his corpse was in Chiyuan, he belonged to the human race, and he was called "Your Majesty" as if it were normal...
Could he be…
Xuan Ji shook his mind– no, no, wait, how many races have been erased in the Great War and are still unknown today. There are also many allies attached to the human race, some of which worship the Chinese human culture, and have inherited the human cultures. Or some ancient ancestors who worshiped evil spirits and evil demons, inviting such an enemy to call him "Your Majesty", are also possible.
In short, it can't be that one!
Otherwise... That would be too ironic, the Emperor who saved the human race from disaster is not human himself - what is this?
The gods can only be sacrificed and devoured by the demons. Can only a more violent demon suppress the demons?
Xuan Ji firmly denied his guess and quickly regained his composure.
He held the heavy sword and felt the coldness from the iron, remembering the language of the witches that Sheng Lingyuan had just taught him. Although he didn't understand what it meant, Xuan Ji always felt that the tone was very gentle... It's like an old friend who comes from afar, bowing down and asking the children playing at the door, "Can you take me to see your elders?"
"What is a witch?"
"The witches have lived in Dongchuan since ancient times, believing in the land and spirits of mountains and rivers, whether the wind is harmonious or disasters are continuous for years, they have never left their homeland, because this clan has always believed that people are like grass and trees, leaving their homeland is leaving their roots, which will bring disasters.” Sheng Lingyuan no longer spoke Mandarin that he was not very familiar with, and had switched to his own accent.
Perhaps because he had been listening to it a lot lately, Xuan Ji found that listening to the ancient language was not as difficult as it was at first.
When Sheng Lingyuan spoke, his voice seemed to be infused with the aura of time and space from another world, appearing distant, ancient, and solemn. "The witches are skilled in 'cursing'. You asked me about the origin of the human-faced butterfly. The human-faced butterfly is not a living creature; it is a kind of curse that was refined by the witches’ ancestors using secret methods. It was originally used at funerals."
"Yes, the witch people believe that the human-faced butterfly can communicate with the yin and yang," Sheng Lingyuan said softly. "Some of the deceased may have left in a hurry, and their families sometimes feel uneasy, thinking that they have something left unsaid. They would invite the great saint of the clan - the person who presides over the annual festival - to come to their home and conduct a ritual. The great saint would place the human-faced butterfly into the mouth of the deceased. In less than a day, the deceased would be able to open their eyes again, walk and talk with their family, meet the people they should meet, say what they should say. Then the great saint would remove the human-faced butterfly and bury the deceased in peace."
Xuan Ji was stunned. "We always thought this thing was just a parasite...it's so magical?"
"It is still a parasite," Sheng Lingyuan replied indifferently. "Funerals and condolences have always been the delusional wishes of the living. When a person dies, they are like a light extinguished. Where do all these endless ghost stories come from? It's just a ceremony. Even if it's the Witch Clan, if there is a dispute over the deceased's property, it will be left to the clan leader to decide. They won't use the human-faced butterfly to 'bring the dead back to life' and ask them questions."
Xuan Ji: "..."
The persona of His Excellency, the atheist, remains unbreakable.
"Dongchuan... Dongchuan is a treasure land. The land is fertile, the products are abundant, the spiritual energy is compelling, and the climate changes greatly. Sometimes it changes from cloudy to sunny to rainy to snowy in a day, and there are strange sights like the autumn moon illuminating spring flowers and lotus pond reflecting snow. Even the water is sweeter than in other places, so it also gave birth to many strange and precious treasures that are not found outside."
Walking behind the wobbling goat-bearded man with a sword in hand, Xuan Ji felt increasingly strange listening to Sheng Lingyuan's words. Although Sheng Lingyuan's tone was light, his words were carefully chosen and full of nostalgic meaning, just like... he was describing his hometown.
"So, it's only natural for them to be coveted by others. Throughout history, whenever living beings have been in conflict, it ultimately comes down to what grows in the land."
"So, they use butterflies to protect themselves," Xuan Ji said. "Because besides being able to 'resurrect' the dead, these butterflies can also parasitize living beings. Does the Witch Clan have some kind of spiritual ability that can control butterflies, just like how people who raise Gu insects can make these insects obey them?"
Sheng Lingyuan sneered, "The Witch Clan has a long history, and their curses are vast and profound. The human-faced butterflies are just minor skills, unworthy of being used to protect their people."
Xuan Ji listened with a mix of fear and trepidation. If the Mirror Flower Water Moon Butterfly, which had caused chaos in the Bureau, was just a "minor skill", then what kind of powerful curses did they possess?
"When the monster army passed through Chiyuan, the human race was like millet in the ground, lying there waiting to be harvested, unable to resist, and was almost annihilated by the monsters. Later, they were able to turn the tide with the help of the hidden Witch Clan. The witches, in the most perilous of times, revealed the secret of their curses to the human race... because they felt they were also human, and had an obligation to help."
"In that case," Xuan Ji asked strangely, "The Witch Clan seems to be the heroes of the nation. Even if not many people in your era could read or write, and passing down documents was difficult, there should still be oral traditions, right? How come they died out so silently without leaving any traces?"
"What childish talk... You little demon, what have you been eating to grow up like this? Do you really not have any clan prejudices?" Sheng Lingyuan first laughed lightly, then thoughtfully said without waiting for Xuan Ji's reply, "Well, now you're all mixed up, there's no more distinction between clans."
Xuan Ji was confused: "Hmm?"
"They think they are human, but humans don't think they are of the same kind," Xuan Ji said, stunned. "You mean..."
"Human-faced butterflies..." he said, referring to what they call "Mirror Flower Water Moon" butterflies. "Now, if you mention them, isn't everyone filled with dread? In those days, it was just the tip of the iceberg of the witches' spells. I ask you, if it were you, in the same boat, would you believe the witches unreservedly? Do you think that 'people' with such a hidden power would be content to cower in the corner of Dongchuan and not compete with the world?"
Xuan Ji understood his implication, incredulously saying, "Wait, are you saying that the witches were wiped out not by enemies in war, but by their allies!"
Sheng Lingyuan answered in a nonchalant tone, "Yes, so you have to be careful here."
Xuan Ji's mind raced: "So then, what role are you..."
Before he could finish, there was a pitiful scream from the goat-bearded man on the ground.
The goat-bearded man, who was lucky to have woken up, opened his eyes to find himself in a "dream-wandering ghostly realm". His clothes were filled with jumping bones, and he almost died of fright. He frantically jumped and rolled on the spot, crying and flinging the bones off his body, and his pants were instantly soaked.
Xuan Ji disdainfully wrinkled his nose: "How annoying...I say, are these guys a bit angry?"
Sheng Lingyuan coldly laughed: "Worry about yourself first."
Before his words had finished, the ground began to make a faint "gurgling" sound, growing louder and louder. Xuan Ji lowered his head and saw that all the bones were shaking, as if they had been "awakened" by the urine. The skulls were bouncing and turning towards Xuan Ji, opening their mouths.
Xuan Ji: "Er...suddenly with so many eyes on me, I'm a bit embarrassed. I was just joking, but why are there really flashlights appearing?"
He saw countless tiny lights flying out of the skulls' mouths, and a charming glow rising from the dense white bones, making the white bones look soft, as if they were smiling.
That was countless Mirror Flower Water Moon butterflies flapping their wings.
"Damn!" Xuan Ji cursed, and quickly dived down, using his blazing wings to disperse the terrible ghost butterflies. He didn't want to catch him with his hands, so he picked up the heavy sword and fished up the smelly goat-bearded man.
Sheng Lingyuan: "......"
This little devil is taking his life for granted!
However, although the ghost butterflies were afraid of fire, they couldn't resist the large number of them. Burning one batch, another batch would come, and the glow became brighter and brighter, illuminating the witch's mound like a bright day. Xuan Ji wanted to fly up, but after flying twenty meters, he found that he had reached the top!
He didn't know if this ghostly place was a tunnel or a cave, and didn't know where the exit was. All around him were Mirror Flower Water Moon butterflies.
Xuan Ji was covered in goosebumps. Suddenly, he caught sight of a dark place - it looked like a cave, and the butterflies were avoiding it, making it stand out even more in the darkness. Without thinking, he thrust the goat-bearded man towards the cave and dove in.
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