The witch people are not a warlike tribe, and their temperament is relatively mild - you can tell from their "curses" dug out from the graves.
Almost all of their curses have corresponding counter-curses, and there are no after-effects once they are lifted.
This is not easy, it's like killing someone is easy, but reviving them is difficult.
Unless one claimed that the ancient witch ancestors could foresee the future and designed a set of curses specifically for the fraudsters thousands of years later, it would only mean that the curses they created back then were only for self-protection.
Not to mention that the two children couldn't even come into contact with any evil curses.
The "curses" that Sheng Lingyuan brought out were basically just pranks that the children in the tribe played, and they were of no use.
The two teenagers were forced to hide and evade, and were chased by ferocious demons all the way, looking very worn-down.
As they traveled, the villages became desolate and wherever crows gathered, there were always corpses with missing limbs. Little Aluojin felt that crying was too weak. Tears were worthless, and certainly not worth the girl's life.
But he couldn't help it.
He stared hard at Sheng Lingyuan's back, trying to use his gaze to hold back his tears.
He saw blood for the first time in his life, witnessed the lives of others being treated like weeds, and his heart was torn apart.
His initial fear finally turned into fuel for anger, anger at the cruel world, and anger at his own weakness.
But Xuan Ji was not eight-year-old Aluojin, and it wasn't so easy for him to shed tears.
He watched coldly for a while before asking, "I have a disrespectful question, Your Majesty. Is your memory real?"
Sheng Lingyuan's gaze remained fixed on the two young boys as they walked away.
He turned his head slightly towards them and asked, "Why did you ask that?"
"You said earlier that the demon king ordered your pursuit, and that the demon clan knew you had taken refuge in the territory of the Witch Clan, which is notoriously difficult to deal with, right?" Xuan Ji said.
"If there was a very important target, like Your Majesty, and a group of very formidable opponents, like the Witch Clan, I think any rational decision maker would send the most reliable people to carry out the mission. You said that the three great demon generals pursued you into the Witch Clan. I'm not very knowledgeable about history or common sense, so I don't know what a 'demon general' is, but if you say that all twelve of your guards died on the escape route, then it must have been very powerful. Although both of you are big shots, you were just a little over the legal age limit and had a jar of prank curses, yet you managed to successfully escape back then? I think that's a bit unusual."
Sheng Lingyuan turned his head from a few steps away, looking at him meaningfully, "What do you mean?"
Xuan Ji was dressed in ragged beggar clothes, with his jeans rolled up and covered in mud, looking like a non-mainstream punk youth.
He spoke very respectfully and his tone was sharp without mercy.
His curved smiling eyes were full of vigilance.
"I'm just raising a doubt," Xuan Ji smiled and looked back at Sheng Lingyuan without dodging, "It's also possible that the demons just happened to have upset stomachs that day, or maybe they were allergic to the witchcraft of the Witch Clan."
Sheng Lingyuan thought to himself, "This little devil, he's hot-headed but cold-hearted, with a heart full of thievery and deceit. He's burned all his wings with his own fire."
People who are too hot-headed never grow up, like Aluojin, who didn't end up well.
Suddenly, Sheng Lingyuan asked, "Has my teacher left a name in history?"
"Your teacher...oh, yes, he has. His reputation is quite impressive," Xuan Ji reminisced for a moment. "Even the children downstairs have memorized his story. 'Emperor's teacher Dan Li, with a face like a beautiful woman, served Emperor Wu with deep planning for several years. He helped restore the country and became a prime minister. But five years later, he was beheaded...'"
The last sentence was originally a test question, and Xuan Ji almost blurted it out before realizing who he was talking to and biting his tongue just in time.
"But five years later, he was beheaded in the market."
Yes, in the glorious achievements of this Emperor Wu, there was also the fact that he 'killed his teacher.'
Sheng Lingyuan's eyes were pitch black and silent, and the light around him reflected like flames on an icy surface.
Xuan Ji misspoke, quickly changing the subject and pretending to be clueless.
"Ah...well, speaking of which, is he really as handsome as they say? You know, just from the line in the history books that describes him as having a face like a beautiful woman, this IP will be popular for another five hundred years. I've watched several TV dramas about him, and he's married several Mary Sues in each one. By the end, I was so confused about who his actual love interest was."
"What... IP?" Sheng Lingyuan was completely confused by Xuan Ji's words and could tell from his expression that it wasn't a serious conversation.
He shook his head and his eyes curved slightly, "Dan Li has never married in his lifetime, and only has one confidante by his side. I cannot reveal her name, but it is not that... that Sue. Do you all enjoy making up these kinds of things about historical figures now?"
Xuan Ji instantly felt relieved, "Don't worry, we didn't make up any rumors about you."
Sheng Lingyuan's eye twitched and his expression was a bit strange, both amusing and ridiculous.
Xuan Ji said, "Because the historical records say that you are... quite mighty and powerful."
Nine feet tall, like the Heavenly King of Great Strength, cutting people like slicing melons.
"Ha... full of righteousness, able to shield rumors."
As soon as a young girl sees your portrait, she becomes paralyzed and can no longer jump around.
Sheng Lingyuan was speechless for a moment, which was rare for him.
"Thank you for sparing me," he said with a smile.
The deep coldness in his eyes disappeared completely as he calmly talked about his former teacher whom he had personally executed, as if he were chatting about his high school homeroom teacher after dinner.
This made Xuan Ji momentarily doubt the authenticity of historical records - if Emperor Wu did not have a face full of whiskers and a beard, then... were those rumors of 'killing relatives and teachers' also made up by later generations to gain popularity?
"What kind of person is Dan Li, the Emperor's teacher?"
Sheng Lingyuan squinted his eyes and looked into the distance.
His smile lines at the corners of his eyes suddenly flattened upon hearing this question.
After a while, he continued with his casual tone, "He was a genius, both in literature and military strategy. I grew up by his side, and he taught me everything. Even after his death, people still worship him and build shrines for him. They see him as a god. I had to issue a decree to ban it, but it didn't work. So, I had to resort to severe punishment - anyone who dares to carve or paint Dan Li's image will be considered a rebel and their entire family will be executed."
The wind in the valley suddenly became eerie, sending shivers down one's spine.
Sheng Lingyuan stood with his hands behind his back, his gaze still fixed on the distant valley.
Suddenly, it began to collapse, indicating that his memories were slipping into even darker places, yet his expression remained unchanged.
"Didn't you think it was too easy for the two of us to escape from the demon clan? Indeed - if I'm not mistaken, Dan Li should have been nearby at the time. He worked hard to raise me, so naturally he wouldn't let me die."
Xuan Ji was shocked and forgot to use honorifics. "Are you saying..."
"I thought I was running for my life, carrying twelve guards who died for me, being chased to the Witch Clan. But in fact, all the dangers were carefully planned."
Sheng Lingyuan's eyes showed no hint of a smile, but his lips twitched slightly.
"Kid, let me teach you something. There are no coincidences in this world."
This monarch was not only an atheist, but also a conspiracy theorist.
However, Xuan Ji didn't have time to think about it as the world collapsed beneath their feet in an instant.
Xuan Ji grabbed Sheng Lingyuan and they both fell deeper into the abyss. The feeling of weightlessness engulfed their bodies and Xuan Ji resisted the urge to spread his wings and fight against the memory space.
The outline of the entire event had already surfaced in his mind - during the War, although the human population was far greater than that of the demons, they lacked core combat power. Human cultivators didn't have many years of cultivation and magic tools, and were barely able fight against the demons. Ordinary people who encountered demons and monsters were basically at their mercy.
A small demon could easily breathe out poisonous gas and slaughter a village as if it were child's play.
At that time, the royal family was scarce, and the human race was without a leader.
All the desperate people placed their hopes on a vague and flawed prophecy, even if the protagonist of the prophecy was just a child in his early teens.
The only chance for the human race to turn the tide was to seek as much help as possible.
Among them, the witch race was crucial.
Not only were they powerful, but the witch race also invented spells that could be made into special tools, which even ordinary people could use as weapons.
The only problem was that the witch race never left Dongchuan, despite being friendly.
They were peaceful and indifferent, without any desire for power.
Even the high-ranking officials of the Ping Emperor could not persuade them, let alone the current group of dogs of the fallen nation.
In Dongchuan, there are mountains and a natural barrier, as well as a great formation laid out by the witch tribe, which isolates them from the outside world.
No matter how bloody and chaotic it is outside, people can "hide in small buildings and become one."
Why would they want to come out and wade through muddy waters?
Coercion and temptation were ineffective, so Dan Li came up with a third option, a desperate plan - the young prince was only ten years old, weak and helpless, at the end of his rope.
With the witch tribe's mentality, they could not possibly stand by and watch an innocent child die.
As long as this child sets foot on the witch tribe's mountain slope, one foot of the witch tribe will be pulled into the human tribe's camp.
The big shots only care about their own interests, but the hearts of young people still hold true feelings.
In troubled times, true feelings are a rare and valuable weapon.
All the passing mentions in history books have countless hidden motives.
In the memory space of 'Retracing', countless stories flew by quickly.
Aluojin chose the figure he wanted to follow, and since then, he seemed like a different person.
The young generation of the witch people centered around him, no longer content with peace like their ancestors. They were full of energy and eager to leave their mark on the world.
Six years later, after years of bitter fighting, the human race finally broke through the encirclement of the demon race outside Dongchuan and sent people to welcome back the lost prince.
Aluojin had a heated argument with his father, the clan leader, and left with the rebellious young people, embarking on a dream to bring peace to the world.
Xuan Ji's mind flashed with many messy fragments, none of them particularly pleasant.
They must have had a tough time at the beginning.
Leaving Dongchuan, the 16 or 17-year-old Sheng Lingyuan officially ascended to the throne.
By then, he already looked like a grown man, except for being a bit too thin from hardship.
His facial features and physique were not much different from the man in front of him, but he seemed like a completely different person.
The young emperor always looked exhausted, and unless he was meeting someone, his face might not have been washed clean. He seemed like he could fall asleep standing up with a sword in hand at any moment. There was a circle of fuzz on his lips, which he would scratch with a knife that had just been used to kill someone. He was almost a bit sloppy, which was why he left behind a portrait that looked like a demon.
But when he opened his eyes, there was a light in them, as solid as a rock in the wind and rain, shining with a breathtaking brilliance.
Those were eyes that could attract people to follow him.
As Xuan Ji met the gaze of the young man, his heart suddenly twisted.
Just then, the young emperor hurriedly passed by him.
Without thinking, Xuan Ji reached out and stopped him, but the two people from different times and spaces passed through each other.
"What am I doing?" Xuan Ji curled his fingers.
Suddenly, they landed on solid ground.
Coming back to his senses, Xuan Ji saw Aluojin chasing after Sheng Lingyuan with his pigtails flying.
The young man from the Witch Clan was only fourteen or fifteen years old, slower in development than his peers, and shorter than Xuan Ji's shoulder. He bounced around like a middle school student rushing to a physical education class.
Xuan Ji couldn't help but feel that there should be a "Minor Protection Law" written into his flying pigtails.
"This Aluojin... he became the clan leader at such a young age?"
"Ah," Sheng Lingyuan chuckled coolly. "Good question."
In the next moment, the scene before them collapsed once again. Xuan Ji felt a tremor beneath his feet and heard a roar.
"Let go of me! Get out of my way!" Aluojin's eyes were bloodshot as he broke free from the grasp of three or four young Witch Clan members and charged out of the tent.
"Young clan leader, don't be impulsive!"
Just as Aluojin charged out of the tent, a fast horse came to a sudden stop in front of him. The horse stopped too abruptly, lifting its front legs high and nearly throwing its rider off its back.
The rider on the horse's back was none other than the young Emperor of Humanity, who was injured somewhere and had his chest wrapped in bandages. Blood seeped through the bandages, and he stumbled a bit when he dismounted, clutching the reins tightly to keep from falling.
As soon as Aluojin saw him, his eyes were filled with red threads that looked like they were about to drip blood.
He struggled to say, "Brother, they're talking nonsense... aren't they?"
Sheng Lingyuan's lips turned green, but he didn't make a sound.
"They're talking nonsense! They don't like me, so they make up lies to deceive me! Isn't that right?"
Suddenly, the young Sheng Lingyuan lowered his head, his handsome face seemed to be cut by sharp pain.
He took a deep breath, gritted his teeth, and said in a hoarse voice, "Half a month ago, the letter you sent back to the clan through the route in western Sichuan... was intercepted by the Feishu Clan. The messenger was made into a human puppet and sent to the clan. The clan leader... didn't investigate it in time... Aluojin!"
Aluojin swayed and knelt down in despair.
In that moment, the old ghost Sheng Lingyuan from thousands of years in the future and the young emperor from back then both reached out their hands and gently pressed them on Aluojin's head and the back of his neck, respectively.
Across time and space, the two Sheng Lingyuans' hands touched each other.
Same bones, same flesh, but the old ghost's hand was pampered and exquisite like a snow sculpture, cold and beautiful.
The young emperor's hand, on the other hand, was covered in small and large scars, calluses on his palms, and a red mark left by a horse's reins, as if it had warmth.
The sight of the two hands together was heart-wrenching, even the old ghost himself felt it and quickly withdrew his hand.
"That day was Chinese New Year," Sheng Lingyuan paused and said to Xuan Ji, "It doesn't really have anything to do with the Witch Clan, but they are curious and love to celebrate, so they join in for the festivities and drinks. There's not much to do in the army, and after three rounds of drinking and wrestling, some people start playing music and singing. One young brother started singing a hometown tune, crying as he sang because his parents and siblings had all died in the war and he had nowhere to go. Aluojin listened silently for a while, and that night, he wrote a letter home for the first time, entrusting it to the most trustworthy person to secretly deliver it to his clan...even I didn't know about it until after the incident, he didn't want me to think he was weak - but it turned into a big mistake."
Xuan Ji immediately asked, "Who was this so-called 'most trustworthy' person?"
Sheng Lingyuan let out a sigh and pulled his hands back into the sleeves of his robe made of dry grass. "It seems like you have guessed it," he said.
"Aluojin hastily led his people to flee with me, without any preparation. They didn't even know a few words of the human language and were completely clueless. When I first took the throne, I was overwhelmed and naturally neglected the matter of taking care of the young chieftain of the Witch Clan. It fell to Dan Li, the meticulous imperial tutor. Aluojin and he hit it off immediately and privately told me that there was something about Dan Li that reminded him of the Great Sage, making him feel familiar," Sheng Lingyuan said. "So he followed him and referred to him as 'teacher'."
Suddenly, Xuan Ji felt that something was off.
"Dan Li" was a very important person, whether positively or negatively, but until now, he had not seen this person in Sheng Lingyuan's memory.
In this 'Retracing' memory space, every detail is vividly textured. The faces and actions of every person are crystal clear.
Up until now, Xuan Ji has become familiar with the young emperor's attendants, important ministers and generals, and even the witch people.
But how could Dan Li be missing from this group?
According to His Majesty, Dan Li should be close to him and Aluojin.
But back then, there was no internet, so how could they be close without being in the same circle?
Countless possibilities flashed through Xuan Ji's mind, and suddenly, his gaze sharpened. He shuddered and slipped his hand into his pocket. In that book, "Dongchuan Witches Book," there was a passage about the relationship between humans and demons, and a sentence that read, "Demons devour the human heart, and cannot be trusted."
Xuan Ji calmly asked, "So the old clan leader was killed by this fatal letter from Aluojin, and Aluojin succeeded him. The Witch Clan and the demon clan became mortal enemies, and the entire clan officially sided with you - what year did this happen?"
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