Sending the Divine

Sending the Divine

Chapter 52 - Anger and Ignorance

Everything happened in an instant. 

When the mountain demon of anger attacked, the group was walking on a narrow path along the cliff. The sudden change left them with nowhere to retreat.

The air was filled with the refreshing scent of pine trees. The dark green forest was set against the gray stones of the mountaintop, shrouded in milky white mist. On the other side, thin mist rolled down the cliff, obscuring the view of the blue-green scenery below.

What was once a calming and relaxing sight had now become incredibly dangerous.

Yin Ci was the first to react, feeling the slippery "rope" that bound him. It felt like bloody tendons, with eyeballs rolling around on top, struggling in his palm.

It was Yan Qing who had attracted it. 

Yan Qing stood at the end of the line, staring blankly at his hands. His eyeballs shackles twitched wildly, and the tendons connecting them shot in all directions, instantly binding everyone tightly.

Evil energy surged from all directions, but no trace of the demon could be seen.

Yin Ci snorted coldly and directly broke the flesh shackles on his body. Yan Qing immediately let out a scream and half-knelt on the ground. A deep wound visible to the bone appeared on his arm, and his gray-black clothes were soaked in blood, almost black.

Shi Jingzhi shuddered, "Ah Ci?"

"Yan Qing is just injured, which is better than all of us being killed. That goose demon didn't sound the alarm, so it probably won't kill anyone." 

Yin Ci didn't hesitate and slapped his palm, breaking the flesh shackles on Shi Jingzhi's body as well. 

Yan Qing was so weak that he couldn't even scream. His Heart Demon was wounded, and the pain was unbearable. He bent over and sat on the narrow path, with more blood flowing out.

Shi Jingzhi: "..." 

He couldn't help but think that his disciple was getting further and further away from the word "honest", proving Su Si's argument that "Ku Mountain Sect is not a good thing" with his actions.

However, Yin Ci's approach, although cruel, was reasonable.

Shi Jingzhi pulled out his medicine box and decided to make up for their actions. Unexpectedly, as he approached Yan Qing, several meat shackles shot out, causing Shi Jingzhi to stumble and almost fall off the cliff.

Yan Qing was like a spider out of control, and the meat shackles scattered like a spider web, trying to bind everything around him. 

"Something's not right with his Heart Demon!" Shi Jingzhi swallowed hard and pressed himself against the rock wall. "The monks' intention was to drive us away, but this looks more like..." like it wants to kill us.

Yin Ci didn't have time to chat with his master. Their gap in experience was exposed at this moment - the human head lamp couldn't fit on the narrow path, so it had to climb along the cliff top. Taking advantage of his Heart Demon, Yin Ci climbed up the shadow hands and grabbed a few meat shackles to pull Yan Qing up to the top of the cliff. 

Lord Bai saw the danger and bit onto Yin Ci's clothes, using him to climb up as well.

Leaving the narrow path, the danger from the meat shackles was immediately reduced by half. Shi Jingzhi stepped on the rocks and climbed up the cliff top. He had just breathed a sigh of relief when his heart skipped a beat again.

Su Si hadn't followed them up.

And until now, Su Si had been too quiet. 

Even though they were at odds, Su Si wouldn't be so cold-blooded as to have no reaction when Yan Qing lost control. Shi Jingzhi deftly dodged a few meat shackles and leaned over the edge of the cliff to look for Su Si's whereabouts on the narrow road. 

Suddenly, a gust of black wind rose up, and if Shi Jingzhi hadn't shrunk fast enough, his head would have been bitten off by the black wind. 

A giant snake climbed up to the top of the cliff, with emotionless black pupils and a dull black tongue. Its black scales were smooth, and the meat shackles couldn't hold it back, but instead were broken by it. 

It slithered along, hissing and emitting a complete sense of hostility. 

Shi Jingzhi took a deep breath and asked, "Su Si?" 

The snake's tail was undoubtedly Su Si's, but at the moment, this person was completely consumed by his Heart Demon, with no rationality left. 

Yet another Heart Demon had had transformed. 

With a heart full of anxiety, Shi Jingzhi looked towards Yin Ci, but thankfully the human head lamp on his head remained still as a mountain, showing no signs of turning into a monster. When he spoke again, Shi Jingzhi's words were bitter: "Ah Ci, didn't you say that they just had a little argument and everything was fine?"

Now it seemed that their situation was far from fine, and had already reached a point of long-standing resentment. Shi Jingzhi brandished his "Cure All With Medicine" flag, struggling against the snake's mouth, but not daring to use too much force, afraid that he might accidentally kill Su Si.

Yin Ci shook off Lord Bai from his sleeve and leapt up with ease. He caught his own master off guard, and the two of them jumped onto the human head lamp, leaving Yan Qing and Su Si, who had undergone a strange transformation, below their feet.

"It's not just the disagreement between the two of them," Yin Ci spoke again only after he was sure that he had caught the fox back. "Close your eyes and sense the demonic energy." 

Shi Jingzhi had just been searching for Su Si, then dodging attacks, causing him to break out in a sweat. Now that he had been taken away from the battlefield by Yin Ci, he finally calmed down. 

He tightly grasped Yin Ci's wrist and slowly closed his eyes.

Seeing them caught in its trap, the mountain demon no longer suppressed its aura, and the surrounding demonic energy surged. Compared to this, the hostility of the Greedy Butterflies was almost gentle to the point of being non-existent. 

Upon closer inspection, this demonic energy was divided into two forces, with similar levels of intensity. They exuded boundless malice and madness, yet were scattered and impossible to locate.

"This is..." 

"Judging by their strength, both the Anger and Ignorance mountain demons have arrived," Yin Ci whispered. "How is Su Si's condition?"

"He was swallowed by his Heart Demon and turned into a snake. Ah Ci, the Greed, Anger, and Ignorance are all powerful demons, and they each occupy their own territory. They should not be together like this. This is definitely not the work of the monks, otherwise we..." 

As Shi Jingzhi spoke, he stopped halfway. Yin Ci smirked and said: "Has Shizun realized it yet?" 

Shi Jingzhi sighed, "It's Yan Budu." 

That malicious and insane presence, they had encountered it countless times in the Ghost Tomb. 

The Buddha's Heart Formation was not always present, but the mountain demon guardians had always been there. Yan Budu only asked them to visit the Jianchen Temple, but he didn't say that the clue was inside the temple. 

It made sense, the high-ranking monks of Jianchen Temple were not there just for show. Even if Yan Budu was strong, he couldn't leave a clue that could last for a hundred years in the temple. However, the monks were not tainted by greed, anger, or ignorance, so they couldn't see the mountain demons. Even if they managed to see it, they wouldn't be able to summon more than one at a time. 

Yan Budu played a good hand by hiding the clue on the mountain demon guardians. 

...But was this really a clue? 

After Yan Budu dealt with the two demons, they incited everyone's emotions into instability, and their Heart Demons began to manifest. It seemed more like they were being led into a trap towards their demise.

Shi Jingzhi's gaze landed on the edge of the cliff. Yan Qing was kneeling on the bare cliff top, blood flowing from his body. Su Si had transformed into a black snake and was slowly approaching, not hiding his murderous intent.

Just as Shi Jingzhi was about to go down and save Yan Qing, he was stopped by Yin Ci.

"Ah Ci, let go. They are at least from the Ku Mountain Sect-"

"Anger begets anger, blinding one's vision and causing harm to the innocent. Ignorance begets resentment, leading to hatred without a target and ultimately consuming oneself. Therefore, Yan Qing committed anger, and Su Si committed ignorance."

Yin Ci's voice was calm and indifferent. 

"Even if Yan Budu intervenes, he cannot change the instinct of the mountain demons. If these two can resist the temptation of their Heart Demons, the anger and ignorance demons cannot force them to death."

"But they don't seem like they can resist."

Two servants were affected, and his one disciple lost his sight. Seeing the sect about to disperse before his eyes, Sect Leader Shi was as anxious as an ant on a hot pan.

"Whether it's the mountain demon or Yan Budu who intervened, their Heart Demons are even more susceptible to influence than before. If we continue to stand by and watch... Ah, Ci?!" 

Suddenly, Yin Ci hugged Shi Jingzhi beside him. He closed his five fingers around the slightly cool black hair and buried his nose in his master's shoulder, taking a deep breath. 

They're done for, done for, the entire sect has gone mad. Sect Leader Shi stood frozen in place, feeling a wave of sadness rise from the depths of his heart. He couldn't believe that his own elder brother had dared to criticize him for being abnormal. Compared to these people, he was practically normal to the point of being unbearable.

"Don't move. The Heart Demon is easily influenced and doesn't discriminate when it comes to targets. It can be used to my advantage," said Yin Ci, his voice steady as ever.

The situation was dire, and Shi Jingzhi's breathing had become shallow. His body temperature had risen significantly since before. Yin Ci tightly grasped his hair, trying to recall the moment in front of the Greedy Butterflies' nest.

That moment when the rosy light broke through the darkness, allowing him to forget the pain of the dark prison.

Shi Jingzhi was still young, yet he was able to use the Greedy Butterflies as a hammer to refine his mind and take control of the demons. While he himself was well-versed in various inner mind arts and had the support of the current formation trapping them. If he couldn't do it, wouldn't he be a laughingstock? 

A surge of heat exploded from his chest. When Yin Ci lifted his eyes again, they glinted like cold steel. 

"The power of the two demons is immense, and they cannot be controlled remotely. They deliberately scattered their demonic energy, probably to avoid being discovered. They must be hiding nearby, and we'll just have to lure them out."

Shi Jingzhi was taken aback. "Your eyes are fine?"

"Under the influence of the formation, Heart Demons are more likely to worsen, but they are also easier to calm down." Yin Ci released Shi Jingzhi and locked his current state of mind in his memory. "You and I will work together. You protect those two people's lives, and I'll find the demons. How about it?"

Before Shi Jingzhi could answer, Yin Ci smiled lightly. "So this is what my Heart Demon looked like... no wonder Shizun knew something was wrong at first sight."

Facing the mountain-like terrifying Heart Demon, Yin Ci seemed unfazed. 

Shi Jingzhi had ten thousand questions he wanted to ask, but the situation was not good with Yan Qing in danger of becoming Su Si's lunch if they continued to chat. 

He had to quickly nod and jump down. 

Yan Qing was still kneeling in the same spot, with the eyeballs forming a fine mesh of flesh shackles around him. He seemed to be conscious and trying to struggle to stand up. Unfortunately, the flesh shackles were completely out of his control, and the flesh mesh was like ten fingers connected to the heart. 

If Yan Qing moved even slightly, he would step on this external body of his and be in so much pain that he couldn't stand up straight. 

Su Si had completely lost his humanity, with the black snake's mouth wide open and sharp fangs tearing at Yan Qing's eyeballs. The murky fluid in the eyeballs splattered with blood, making Yan Qing's situation even worse. 

Yin Ci was by his side, helping him out, which made Shi Jingzhi feel a little more at ease. He used the force of his fall to dodge dozens of meat shackles that were trying to wrap around him, and went straight for the snake's head with his flagpole. The black snake let out a painful hiss and fiercely bit back.

"Sect Leader, don't kill him!" Yan Qing exerted all his strength to make his voice heard.

"I won't kill him, but you need to take care of your own side and stop throwing meat shackles everywhere!" Shi Jingzhi dodged the black snake and spoke quickly. "You're young and should be more level-headed. Where did you get such a temper?"

"I..." Yan Qing started to speak.

"You attracted the attention of Anger, and your good brother attracted Ignorance, which is why you both ended up like this. If you can't move, you might as well say some comforting words to Su Si and try to get him back to his human form first," Shi Jingzhi advised.

Yan Qing's spirits lifted. "Will that really work?"

"In the plays, they always do it that way. It's worth a try," Shi Jingzhi replied. 

Yan Qing's eyes dimmed instantly as the black snake took the opportunity to bite off dozens of his eyeballs. In pain, the flesh shackles' attack became even more frenzied, almost tying Shi Jingzhi up. The two of their Heart Demons continued to transform further, and the surrounding forest was slowly getting shattering, the scenery becoming increasingly distorted.

Shi Jingzhi: "..."

He stumbled and ran to Yin Ci's side, back to back with him for defense. "Yan Qing is badly injured, barely conscious. Su Si's snake skin is thick as hell, I can't knock him out with my strength, and might accidentally kill him."

"Mm." Yin Ci didn't initiate an attack. Although he was at the center of the battle, he moved lightly like a falling leaf, not getting caught up in the chaos. "Don't rush, let's observe our surroundings." 

Amidst the distorted scenery, the pine forest and the cliff disappeared together. The serene landscape gradually became ordinary, transforming into an extremely common barren mountain scene.

Shi Jingzhi asked, "Is this also...?"

"The two are deadlocked, and their Heart Demons have further mutated. The speed of this mutation is so fast that the Buddhist Heart Formation is probably somewhat responsible. As I said, ultimately, they must resolve their Heart Demons themselves. You don't need to end the battle, just force them to wake up," replied Yin Ci calmly.

"I can only make them hold on for a few more hours. People always have limits. If they don't break this deadlock..." Shi Jingzhi trailed off.

"If the cause of their Heart Demons is right in front of them and they still can't tell what's truly important, then we don't need such servants. To find Yan Budu's clues, we need to catch Anger and Ignorance alive," said Yin Ci nonchalantly.

Shi Jingzhi's movements froze. 

He looked at Yin Ci with some complexity. When he regained consciousness, Yin Ci's warmth did not seem fake, and now his ruthlessness was also genuine. This person seemed to have sealed himself in a thick cocoon, observing everything from a distance and judging everything based on reason.

Was he, as a master, also viewed within this cold "reasoning"?

But this thought only lasted for a moment.

Yin Ci was right. 

Shi Jingzhi stood beside Yan Qing, his movements wielding his flag swift and fierce. Although he could not change the course of the battle, the flesh shackled could not get too close to him. 

At the same time, Shi Jingzhi rummaged through his medical kit, pouring and stuffing medicine into Yan Qing's mouth, temporarily stopping the gushing blood.

After a while, the view from the mountaintop finally stabilized. 

As Shi Jingzhi recognized the scenery before him, it was the barren mountain near Xizhuang. 

Among the messy flesh shackles and giant snakes, there were two children. One was delicate and lovely, with a teardrop mole at the corner of his eye. The other looked like a mummy dug out of a tomb, so thin that only bones were left, with only a pair of red eyes still shining.

It was Su Si and Yan Qing.

The giant snake and flesh shackles almost stopped in the air at the same time. 

Young Su Si roasted the fish meat and tore it into pieces, feeding it bit by bit to Yan Qing - the latter seemed like a starving ghost, eating quickly as if he wanted to choke himself to death. It was winter, but Yan Qing's arms were exposed, covered in various cuts and bruises.

[He didn't give you any to eat again? I told you to hide the meat I gave you and not give it to him.] Su Si grumbled as he fed Yan Qing. [You should let him starve to death.] 

[...That's my dad. I only have my dad.] Yan Qing stopped talking and said gloomily.

Su Si gritted his teeth, judging by his expression, he really wanted to say "your dad is not a good person." However, this was not the first time they had this conversation and he knew it would not end well.

[When I leave, you won't starve, will you?] Su Si sighed and fed Yan Qing some more fish. [The food he gives you is not even enough for a cat.]

Yan Qing immediately stopped talking. He was so thin that his eye sockets were sunken, and his red eyes looked particularly frightening. 

[You're leaving?] he asked.

[I overheard something. A few days ago, someone came to the village and offered to buy me for one or two silver coins, saying they would take me to the city to live a good life.] 

Su Si sat on a rock, swinging his legs. 

[I knew it, my parents still care about me. I eat a lot and can find food on my own, so it's normal for them not to pay attention to me. But look, now there's a good opportunity and they still think of me and didn't send my brothers away.] 

Yan Qing released his claw-like hand and frowned like a little adult. 

[Live a good life in the city?] 

[Mmhmm, he said something like the South Wind or North Wind Hall. My father told me this morning that as long as I go, I can have a full meal every time.] 

Yan Qing vigorously shook his head. [Don't go. I heard from Mr. Bai, that, that place isn't a good place.] 

Su Si was stunned for a moment and showed a hint of anger. [Don't talk nonsense. You must have heard wrong! Would my dad deceive me?] 

[I can read! I've seen it too. It's a lowly profession and will be criticized...] 

[Then tell me, why is it a lowly profession and why would it be criticized?] 

Yan Qing saw that his friend was angry and became so anxious that his face turned red: [I, I don't know, but if it's not good, then it's not good. Books don't lie.]

[My parents wouldn't lie to me either!] Su Si raised his voice. [You just don't want me to leave, right?]

Yan Qing grabbed Su Si's clothes and shook his head vigorously, but didn't know how to refute him. Su Si saw that he looked like he was about to cry and calmed down: [When I have a good life, I will definitely come back to see you.]

[Don't go, I beg you.]

[They've already given the money... Listen, I've dried a lot of meat on the mountain, enough for you to eat for a year or half a year. Eat it secretly, don't foolishly give it to your dad.]

[I'm begging you.] Yan Qing just kept repeating.

The two children's figures suddenly disappeared. In the next moment, the mountaintop remained the same, but the people had changed - Yan Qing had packed a small bundle and followed Su Si with determination, as if he had become a human-shaped shackle. Su Si had changed into new clothes and was walking towards the outside of the mountain with a chubby middle-aged man.

When he saw Yan Qing, he didn't know whether to laugh or cry: [Don't follow me. If your father finds out you skipped work, he'll beat you when you go back.]

[I don't care.] With the middle-aged man watching on the side, Yan Qing closed his eyes carefully. [If you don't stay, I'll follow you until you agree to stay.]

[Don't make a fuss anymore, we're going to take a carriage soon.]

[I don't care] 

Yan Qing was straightened himself up, as if he had exhausted all his courage. 

[You're not going to a good place, I'm not lying to you.] 

The middle-aged man pulled Su Si, not caring: [That's enough, let's go, don't mind him anymore.] 

The small carriage was piled high with mountain goods, and Su Si crouched among a pile of dried herbs, looking out at the road. Yan Qing followed behind, his thin figure stumbling but never stopping. After watching for a while, Su Si seemed unable to bear it and let down the curtain.

"I remember." At this moment, Yan Qing sighed beside Shi Jingzhi. "I couldn't make him stay in the end, I could only follow from afar."

"You followed all the way?" Shi Jingzhi gasped.

"Not really." Yan Qing closed his eyes, and his flesh shackles around his body settled down a bit.

The scenery on both sides clashed with each other, but in the end, Su Si's Heart Demon prevailed - in the next scene, there was only young Su Si and the middle-aged man's corpse.

That middle-aged man did not successfully bring him out of the mountains. 

[You indecent man who dares to offend my Taiheng Sect.] Shi Zhongyu stood with her sword dripping with blood. She looked much younger than when they met at the Ghost Tomb, still resembling a young girl. A fourteen or fifteen-year-old female disciple hid behind her, tears still on her face.

After comforting the young disciple, Shi Zhongyu turned to the frightened Su Si and softened her tone, [Do you know where he wants to take you?]

Su Si stuttered, [H-he said he would take me to South Wind Hall to have a good meal.]

Shi Zhongyu patted his head, her voice tinged with pity, [Poor child, that's not a good place.]

Upon hearing this, Su Si's eyes turned red. He felt helpless, but stubbornly refused to shed a tear.

In the heart of a child, parents are everything. Even though Yan Qing was often beaten to the brink of death, he still held onto a glimmer of hope. How many children would be willing to face the collapse of their world? 

Shi Zhongyu noticed that Su Si was a sensible child and softened her tone: [You have good bone structure and your face shows potential. I happen to need a young sword attendant. Would you like to come with me and join the Taiheng Sect?]

As a well-known leader of the righteous path, even if he had been living in a secluded area like Xizhuang Village, he still knew about the Taiheng Sect.

Su Si was only seven or eight years old and had never experienced such ups and downs before. He stared blankly at the white horses of the Taiheng Sect for a while, his mind wandering: [Really? If I join the Taiheng Sect, will I be able to eat enough?]

Shi Zhongyu laughed: [Of course you will.]

Su Si looked at the blood on the tip of Shi Zhongyu's sword, gathered all his strength, and asked with a choked voice: [Can I become a great hero like Sister?]

[As long as you want to.] 

Su Si's three souls and seven spirits finally returned to their rightful places. He hastily wiped his face a few times and his eyes regained some vitality. 

[Mm, mm, I think I can be of help to Sister now! The mountain road is difficult, but I know this place better than anyone... Sister, why did Taiheng, such a prestigious sect, come to this remote and desolate mountain?]

[To chase after bad people.] Shi Zhongyu squatted down and draped a warm cloak over him. [Are there any red-eyed people in your village? They're not human, they're evil spirits that must be eliminated.]

Although wrapped in a cloak, Su Si became even more stiff. He tried hard to maintain a faint smile and a well-behaved appearance. 

[...No. I know everyone in the village, there are no red-eyed people.] 

Su Si's expression twisted slightly. However, being young, Shi Zhongyu only thought that he had just learned of being abandoned by his parents and couldn't control his emotions. 

She didn't suspect anything: [I'll tell my master later and put your name down. When we get to the village, I can also greet your parents.]



[Sister, I can't follow you after all.] Su Si's tone was calm, but tears were streaming down his face. [I have to take care of my little brother. If I'm not there to watch over him, he'll starve to death.]

Shi Zhongyu was a little surprised: [You...]

[I'm going back now.] Su Si stood up.

[You can come with us--]

[No, he worries about me and is probably still running after me on the mountain road.] Su Si said with a crying voice, [When I grow up and settle him down, I will definitely go to Taiheng and become a hero.] 

Shi Zhongyu shook her head and said, [I know you're scared. Come back to camp with me first, and tomorrow I'll take you back on horseback. This way, it'll be easier for you... Wait, why are you running?] 

Su Si threw off his warm cloak and ran into the nearby trees. The terrain was strange, and running off like this, he quickly left Shi Zhongyu far behind. She had to take care of her junior sister and couldn't catch up. 

Yan Qing had been crawling and rolling in the mountains for a day and a half, covered in bruises. Just as he was propping himself up with a tree branch, ready to move forward, Su Si ran back. 

[Taiheng is coming to arrest you. I took a shortcut back and saved some time.] 

He spoke in a hoarse voice as soon as he saw Yan Qing. 

[Hide first, I'll go back and tell the villagers. They're afraid of getting a bad reputation, so they'll definitely help hide your father... Your father doesn't have the ghost eyes, so he can easily hide. You, you must hide well.] 

Yan Qing's mind was still stuck on the idea of helping Su Si escape his fire pit, and this statement had him reeling. Seeing that Su Si had returned on his own, he simply hugged the other person and then obediently hid himself out of sight.

From his vantage point, Su Si's eyes were constantly red. When Yan Qing had hidden himself and there was no one around, Su Si finally let out a loud cry in the darkness of the night.

In the end, he couldn't let go of his only friend.

Perhaps the children didn't realise then, but now that they had grown up, they were very clear in their hearts - this matter had become a Heart Demon, and it was only natural.

At that moment, Shi Jingzhi couldn't bear to turn his head and look at Yan Qing's expression beside him. 

If on that day, Su Si had followed Shi Zhongyu, his suffering would have ended forever. With his natural talent as a guarantee, after more than a decade, Su Si's position in Taiheng would certainly not be low. 

But on that day, he turned around and let go of the only thread of hope in his life, running towards the endless darkness of the future. 

From then on, wearing white and wielding a sword, wandering the rivers and lakes, became an unattainable dream. 


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