Yan Qing stood straight, his sword pointed at the ground. He had handsome features, but with a pair of blood-red eyes, he looked like a bad guy.
Jin Lan stood frozen, unable to believe what he was seeing.
Yan Budu was most famous for his pair of deep red "ghost eyes."
Even among the descendants of the Yan family, not everyone had them. They were the ironclad proof of Yan's bloodline.
Yan Qing turned his crimson gaze towards Jin Lan and said, "Ten years ago, you brought me into the Taiheng Sect. Today, I am repaying that debt of gratitude."
Jin Lan was speechless, his face still in shock.
"You were only eleven years old back then. Why did you... Did you come to seek revenge by infiltrating the Taiheng Sect?"
Shi Jingzhi was afraid that Yin Ci would miss the big show, so he explained in a low voice, "Yan Budu is extremely debauched and has many offspring. When the righteous martial faction besieged the Ling Sect for two years, they almost wiped out all of Yan Budu's descendants. The leader of the attack was the Taiheng Sect. We have caught up with this scene of revenge, after ten years of hard work and perseverance, tsk tsk..."
Yan Qing looked helpless, "Do I look like someone seeking revenge?"
Shi Zhongyu did not put down her sword, "Since you don't plan on seeking revenge, why did you infiltrate my sect for ten years and even learn our martial arts?"
"I was born with these 'ghost eyes', and I can only pretend to be blind. Blind people can't find jobs easily. The Taiheng Sect is a prestigious and righteous sect, and their servants receive high monthly salaries and free room and board."
Shi Jingzhi and Yin Ci: "..."
This young man is too honest, he doesn't have a trace of Yan Budu's evil ways.
"Regarding the matter of stealing martial arts, I know it was wrong to learn without permission, but I was afraid of this kind of situation," Yan Qing suddenly looked embarrassed. "Senior Shi understands the principles of righteousness and even gave me a chance to explain. If I were to encounter a senior who hates evil, I wouldn't have the confidence to escape."
A strange silence fell over the scene.
"Jianchen Temple is not a bad choice. Why don't you become a monk?" Jin Lan murmured. "You specifically targeted Taiheng, I don't believe you didn't have any other intentions..."
"I was genuinely curious. As the saying goes, calamity does not strike one's wife and children. Taiheng Sect advocates the doctrine of the mean, so they shouldn't be doing something so extreme. In the past ten years, I have tried to investigate, but I couldn't find anything..." Yan Qing paused.
Jin Lan held his breath.
"So I gave up and decided that saving money was more important," Yan Qing concluded.
The members of Taiheng Sect: "..."
Not far away, the red thread seemed to come to life, retying the scattered bones.
Just as Yin Ci was about to speak up to remind him, Shi Jingzhi rushed over like a gust of wind. He covered his shoes with golden fire, firmly stomping on the bones under his feet, his eyes still fixed on the Taiheng Sect.
Yin Ci asked, "Shizun, do you want to watch the show so badly?"
These were bones cursed with explosive curses, that would react with extremely fast speed. If they touched flesh and blood, they would cause the entire body to explode.
Unfortunately, it didn't have a chance to show its power before being forcibly crushed by Shi Jingzhi.
Yin Ci had a reasonable suspicion that this person was afraid the commotion would be interrupted by the cursed bones.
Shi Jingzhi concentrated and whispered, "Shh!"
Shi Zhongyu glanced over at them silently and said, "The Taiheng Sect's pursuit order has not been cancelled. According to the rules, anyone from the Yan family will be killed on sight. Those who steal martial arts will have an arm broken."
Yan Qing pursed his lips.
Shi Zhongyu nodded slightly and intentionally raised her voice: "Now that we are in the tomb, we should not discuss our positions and work together. You have helped us obtain many treasures in the past few days, so let's call it even... On behalf of our sect, I am expelling Yan Qing from Taiheng."
After speaking, she walked up to Shen Zhu and said, "Miss Shen, although Yan Qing is a descendant of the Yan family, I can guarantee that he has nothing to do with the Ghost Tomb. Please do not report him to the Yueshui Bureau."
If this news were to be leaked, not only would it attract those who seek the secrets of the Ghost Tomb, but also Yan Qing's enemies left by Yan Budu, who would want to kill him several times over.
Shen Zhu smiled and said, "They say that Heroine Shi is stubborn and rigid, but it seems that everyone has misjudged her. Yan Qing is a descendant of a demon, and just 'expelling him from Taiheng' is too lenient, don't you think?"
Shi Zhongyu spoke sincerely, "It's not something to be proud of that my sect hunted down the Yan family descendants a hundred years ago. Yan Qing entered Taiheng at the age of eleven and grew up in the sect without causing any trouble. This servant who came with us this time was randomly selected, and at first, he didn't want to come..."
Here, Shi Zhongyu hesitated slightly. Shen Zhu pursed her lips and said, "Please continue, I want to hear more."
Shi Zhongyu continued, "Yan Qing only learned the basic techniques of a junior disciple and his skills are very poor. He helped me a lot this time, but I forced him into a dead end. This is not something a righteous sect should do."
Yan Qing: "..."
Shi Jingzhi said, "Okay, I know who he learned his sincerity from."
Yin Ci rested his chin on his master's shoulder, lazily nodding his head and feeling a bit sleepy.
Shen Zhu turned her eyes and tore off a page from her notes, crumpling it up in her hand.
"Younger Brother Yan Qing doesn't have a high status and his information isn't worth much. If I ever have any difficulties, Senior Shi, remember what happened today."
She gestured towards a distant sedan chair. "What about the people from the Prince Rong's Manor...?"
"Don't worry, they won't be interested," Shi Zhongyu said calmly.
Shi Zhongyu walked towards Shi Jingzhi, who was busy crushing bones, and signaled for him to step aside. Just as the bones were about to struggle and come back together, Shi Zhongyu sliced through their vital points with a few swift sword strikes, rendering them motionless.
Taking advantage of the distance between them and the others, Shi Zhongyu whispered, "Younger Brother Yan Qing is quick with his hands and feet, and has sharp hearing. He will definitely be able to help Sect Leader Shi in the future."
Shi Jingzhi understood and was happy to owe another favor.
"Miss Shi, rest assured."
The group continued on their journey since there were no more Buddhist beads. Yan Qing trailed behind, feeling a bit lost.
Jin Lan hesitated for a moment before stomping his foot and giving his own bag to Yan Qing.
"There's some food and water inside, consider it a thank you for earlier. You don't have to return the sword to me, keep it for self-defense." He said stiffly. "Yan Qing, you...take care of yourself."
Yan Qing took the bag in silence.
Shi Jingzhi took advantage of the opportunity and approached them, carrying Yin Ci on his back. He bounced up and down as he ran over, his voice gentle as can be.
"Little Brother Yan, would you like to join the Ku Mountain Sect?"
Yan Qing turned around, surprised.
"Sect Leader Shi, are you not bothered by my identity?"
"Not at all, not at all. The Ku Mountain Sect is in need of new members," said Shi Jingzhi with a warm smile. "It's just the two of us as master and disciple, as we haven't found any servants yet. I can offer you 500 yuan a month, including room and board. Would you be willing to join us?"
Yan Qing's face showed a hint of pain: "..."
It seems like the monthly pay has decreased quite a bit, thought Yin Ci. But this kid is pretty savvy, not saying it out loud.
"Okay," Yan Qing said after a moment of hesitation. "500 yuan a month is enough. Thank you, Sect Leader Shi, for taking me in."
"Don't be upset," Shi Jingzhi reassured him. "The food at my place is definitely better than what the Taiheng Sect has to offer. Oh, and before we go, change into some new clothes and put on your mask...the mask is in Yin Ci's bag, so you can help him carry it."
When it was just the two of them, Yin Ci carried his luggage while Shi Jingzhi carried Yin Ci on his back, the weight was not light.
When Yan Qing joined them, Yin Ci thought he would let Yan Qing carry him, but Shi Jingzhi only handed out the bags.
Yan Qing followed the instructions, put on the sect uniform, and found another rough mask to wear obediently - the mask only had two small holes carved out for the eyes, perfectly covering those red pupils.
The Ku Mountain Sect now had one more masked person, making them look even stranger.
As the only member dressed normally, Yin Ci cleared his throat and said, "Since we are now a family, why not open up and tell us, Brother Yan, why didn't you want to enter the tomb back then?"
Yin Ci finally understood what happened with the faceless monk - Yan Budu received special treatment, and his descendants didn't need to have strong martial arts skills to detect clues.
But on the other hand, if this bloodline attracted something dangerous...
"The fortune-telling results weren't good," said Yan Qing.
Yin Ci was speechless for a moment. This person was not just practical, but overly so.
Yan Qing took the initiative to explain, "I've learned a bit of divination, and occasionally check for good or bad luck. Before we set off, I cast a divination, and the hexagram was really strange."
Shi Jingzhi's spirit was shaken. "I've also read a lot of books on divination. Come on, tell us about the hexagram."
"I used apricot kernels for divination, with one half coated in cinnabar and the other half in ink. Good or bad luck is determined by the number of red and black kernels. Last time, all the kernels stood upright," Yan Qing explained.
Shi Jingzhi didn't expect the allusion and could only reveal his true feelings, "It's really scary."
Yan Qing lowered his head and said, "The Taiheng Sect's fortune is good, so the abnormal one was me. So I faked an accident and withdrew, but ended up bumping into you two... Perhaps it's fate."
Seeing Shi Jingzhi about to start doubting again, Yin Ci calmly interjected, "Brother Yan, don't worry. The sect leader sells medicine, and I can cook. You can use your blind fortune-telling skills. If we really can't make it, we'll go set up a stall at the street corner."
Sect Leader Shi was immediately provoked, "Nonsense! I can afford to support you two!"
Yin Ci chuckled softly and hugged Shi Jingzhi's neck tightly. His cheap master was warm and emitted a faint medicinal fragrance.
Perhaps he had been drinking medicine for many years and it had seeped into his body.
Although this person was strange and had secrets, his emotions were all sincere.
Yin Ci didn't dislike this kind of person.
If the Buddhist beads have nothing to do with the Shi Rou, then everything is like drawing water with a bamboo basket.
Perhaps he could find a way to let this person live a few more years, adding some spice to his dull life. After all, watching fallen flowers turn to mud is always better than watching filth breed maggots.
After walking for several hours in the snake bone maze, the group stopped to rest. Yan Qing reorganized their luggage and sat down, savoring the ham and rice cake, the pain of his pay cut fading away.
The surroundings were as bright as day, the scenery magnificent, and the monsters were abnormally scarce.
Shi Jingzhi used his inner strength to heat up another pot of tea, carrying Yin Ci on his back and sitting down, feeling relaxed.
Yin Ci had a vague sense that something was not right.
The Blood Rope had a time limit, and killing someone to take their blood is the only way to keep it going. But even so, this floor seems too simple, not even as challenging as the Paperman Street.
Yin Ci nibbled on the jerky his master had given him and asked, "Shizun?"
"Is this floor too easy? There aren't many monsters around, and it seems like it's easy to get the Buddhist beads. Is Yan Budu such an easygoing person?"
Shi Jingzhi sighed, "Yeah, I can't figure it out either. Based on his design, every situation should be a deadly battle, but the Hall of Ascending Immortals seems a bit sloppy. If I were Yan Budu...at least I would wait until the Buddhist beads were collected and then focus on attacking those without them - those people either lack ability or desire, and are not easy to incite."
As soon as he finished speaking, the ice surface began to rumble and slowly tilt.
Yin Ci: "..."
Whatever he said would come true. This person was Yan Budu's real descendant, right?
In the next moment, everyone stood up - not only was the ice surface tilting, but the entire Hall of Ascending Immortals was rotating.
It wouldn't be long before this level would flip upside down.
The survivors were trapped under the ice, destined to fall into the bone-chilling lake.
The author has something to say:
Comrade Yan Qing didn't want to work overtime, so he took sick leave, but he failed to escape and was forced to go on a business trip.
As a result, he was laid off when the project was almost over, not only unable to receive a bonus but also losing his salary...
Tragic, it's really tragic.
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