Sending the Divine

Sending the Divine

Chapter 53 - White Thorns

Suddenly, Shi Jingzhi felt a bit sad. 

As a wanderer, he rarely empathized with others. Other people's joys and sorrows were like a veil, coming and going, but he couldn't see them clearly. He didn't know spring in his heart, and he always had a superficial view, only seeing people's desires, and their joys and sorrows never reached his eyes.

However, at this moment, his shell was stripped away by the scene in front of him, causing him some pain. 

If he were in their shoes, would he stay? What about Yin Ci?

Are worldly attachments really such a hurtful thing? 

Su Si cried too painfully in the illusion of the Heart Demon. Shi Jingzhi didn't know if he was crying for his parents' deception or if he had a vague premonition of what he had given up. 

"He never told me about this...after letting me hide then, why can't he have just gone to Taiheng after that?" Yan Qing's voice trembled, and there was no trace of color on his face.

Shi Jingzhi remained silent for a long time. "Even if he left with Taiheng a few days later, could you survive?...Even if he was willing to give up his only playmate, he couldn't give up on his only family."

In the world, there was only one person who stumbled after the carriage, telling him that it was not a good place to go. 

In just one day, Su Si gained another family member, and also only had this family member remaining.

The black snake stopped in mid-air, its head slightly lowered. Its killing intent weakened a bit, and its state was somewhat trance-like.

Yan Qing tried hard to move towards it, his voice becoming more bitter: "But I would rather die than become his Heart Demon." 

With a wave of his flag, Shi Jingzhi blocked Yan Qing's path. He didn't have to deliberately put on a show this time, but his every move exuded the air of a sect leader: "Now that he's finally settled down, don't move... his Heart Demon may not be related to you."

The two Heart Demons were entangled with each other, and the scene changed once again. 

Su Si had grown taller, and Yan Qing's cheeks had filled out, giving him a healthy and refreshing look. They were dressed simply but cleanly, as if they were not in the village. At this moment, the surroundings were dim, as if it were nighttime.

[Uncle Tan praised my craftsmanship today.] Su Si rolled up his sleeves, showing off his slender arms. [He said that when I grow up a little more, he will officially take me as his apprentice. But I don't want to learn how to slaughter pigs. When I become a hero, everyone will look up to me.] 

Yan Qing's face still had a hint of childishness, but his eyebrows were furrowed: [You take off your coat first, and I'll soak it with today's clothes. Later, when Granny Tan goes to sleep, I have to go wash her feet and change her clothes... Uncle Tan has only taken us in for half a year, so you should be more restrained.]

Su Si smirked: [You don't understand, I'm a big talent who can enter Taiheng.]

[People say that it's better to start practicing martial arts early. If you really want to go, we can go to Yi City tomorrow and check out Taiheng.] Yan Qing hesitated for a moment, speaking seriously. 

[They're hunting down the Yan family members everywhere. If we really enter Taiheng, do you plan on pretending to be blind every day? Besides, if you can't get in, I can't just leave you outside. We're still young now, it doesn't matter to wait a few years - at least until you're not so small and can support yourself.]

Although they were the same age, Yan Qing suffered from malnutrition for a long time, and compared to Su Si, he still looked like a six or seven-year-old child. When Su Si hit his sore spot, Yan Qing was so angry that he couldn't help but burst out: [I'll be eleven next month! When I grow up, I'll definitely be taller than you.]

After thinking for a moment, he found a perfect way to get revenge, [Ah Si, did you memorize today's book? If you want to become a hero in the future, you can't be illiterate.]

Su Si immediately protested: [Hey, little brat, you're so young, why do you sound like an old scholar?] 

In a flash, Shi Jingzhi realized that it had been ten years since he was eleven years old. 

According to Yan Qing, they had made a pact to escape the village after Yan Qing's father died. It was now the year they had completely lost touch after relying on each other for several years. 

When Yan Qing pulled out a book with a stern expression, Su Si's head spun. He looked around and tightened his coat, saying: [I have to go out tonight. There's a lively market to the north of town.] 

Yan Qing's face changed and he said: [You promised me this morning that you wouldn't go out tonight.] 

Su Si played with his money pouch, deliberately making the copper coins inside jingle. 

[There are so many cheap things at the market. I'll buy you some candy to eat.] 

Yan Qing pleaded: [Don't go. If you must, take me with you.] 

[If you leave, who will take care of Granny Tan? If she's unhappy, Uncle Tan will be angry, and we'll both suffer.] 

Su Si tried to persuade Yan Qing, but he still didn't agree. 

He held onto Su Si's clothes tightly and said: [You promised me not to go out. I have a bad feeling about it, really.]

[I should have known not to let you pretend to be blind and go out to play, if I ever see that old monk who taught you how to read fortunes, I'll beat him up.] Su Si gritted his teeth. [Okay, okay, it's just a few apricot kernels, a little trick to scare you.]

Su Si carefully pried open Yan Qing's fingers and said: [I'll be back soon. It's almost Chinese New Year, and everything nearby is expensive. We finally caught up with a market...]

Yan Qing pursed his lips, and the two of them stood in a stalemate for a while. 

At that time, Su Si was a head taller than Yan Qing, and Yan Qing was tightly pressed by his gaze. Under Su Si's relaxed gaze, Yan Qing's expression went from firm to hesitant, and finally became insecure, as if he was wondering if he was being unreasonable.

Su Si rubbed his head vigorously and took advantage of the moment: [Stop it, be good, or I'll get angry.]

Yan Qing frowned and finally let go hesitantly: [Then, then come back early.]

After Su Si left, Yan Qing stared blankly at his hand and slowly bit his lip. 

He quickly helped the elderly folks of the Tan family wash up and go to bed, then sat on the doorstep, anxiously waiting for Su Si to come home. The night gradually darkened, and Yan Qing remained motionless on the doorstep. He stared at the courtyard gate, clutching the apricot kernels tightly in his thin, white-knuckled fist. 

Just then, Yan Qing, who was standing next to Shi Jingzhi, shuddered and his eyeballs rolled wildly in their sockets. Shi Jingzhi frowned slightly, as if realizing something.

On that day, Su Si never returned.

Yan Qing waited tearfully all night, searching again and again near the town, but to no avail. Afraid that Su Si wouldn't be able to find him, he obediently returned to the Tan family to wait.

Unfortunately, without the naturally gifted helper Su Si, Butcher Tan was unwilling to keep a "blind" servant. Before long, Yan Qing was kicked out.

He stood there with his luggage for a long time, lost in thought. Finally, he turned around and headed towards Taiheng alone.

On the other side, Su Si's Heart Demon filled in the gaps in Yan Qing's memory-- That night, Su Si took out most of his savings and bought a crude longevity lock at the market. He specifically asked the merchant to wrap it in red paper and cherishingly tucked it into his chest.

However, he had only taken a few steps when the carts and donkeys crowded together, and the merchants jostled and trampled each other with their goods. People screamed loudly, and the firelight reflected red in the night.

The Red Hook Sect and the Ling Sect had a conflict nearby, and the two groups fought endlessly, spreading to the market. 

Su Si was only an eleven-year-old child after all, without an adult to rely on. He was bumped and tossed around by the chaotic crowd, almost falling into the midst of the swords and knives.

In the end, the Red Hook Sect prevailed and killed all the Ling Sect disciples. When cleaning up the battlefield, one of them exclaimed and picked up the dazed Su Si from the pile of corpses: "This kid has a good face and physique, he has good talent for killing."

Su Si was dressed in shabby clothes and had just rolled around in mud and blood. It was clear that he wasn't from a wealthy family, making him an easy target. 

As he was lifted up, Su Si regained consciousness and immediately began to struggle. Unfortunately, the Red Hook Sect was not known for their reasonableness. With one swift blow, Su Si was knocked out again and taken far away, miles from where he had been. 

The surroundings grew darker and more chaotic, with countless faces appearing, some mocking and others in agony. The colors blended together in a bloody mess, forming a giant elderly person's face. 

The elderly person looked down from above, his oppressive presence suffocating. 

The black snake hung its head, curling up into a ball. 

Shi Jingzhi recognized that face, it was the face of the Dark Blood Witch. In the midst of this uncontrollable Heart Demon, the Dark Blood Witch's voice was still hoarse and unpleasant: [This old lady has never been wrong about a person. Your nature is meant to join our cult. If you want to run, go ahead and run. If you can escape, it'll count as your skill...] 

The Heart Demon twisted even more, almost to the point of collapse. The images around him were rapidly changing, becoming increasingly difficult to see clearly...

Su Si really did escape. He trained hard in martial arts and broke through the guards time and time again, fleeing to the darkest and dirtiest corners of the Jianghu. 

But as the number one demonic cult, the Red Hook Sect was not to be trifled with. As the saying goes, the higher the climb, the steeper the fall. Su Si could only evade capture for two or three months before being caught again. The Dark Blood Witch didn't care about his defiance, as she saw it, this was a kind of effective training method. 

For years, Su Si had been caught and escaped, and escaped and caught again. It had been a decade of never-ending evasion.

[Have you not seen enough of the dirty corners of the jianghu after all these years? Your foolish friend and that so-called Taiheng have become your own heart demons... Forget it, if you give up so easily, you don't deserve this position...]

[Kid, you were personally chosen by me as the sect's heir. One day, you will come back willingly...]

Hearing these words, Yan Qing stood frozen in place. His Heart Demon was finally suppressed, but the darkness from Su Si's side was overwhelming.

The voice of Dark Blood Witch grew louder and louder in his mind, like thunder and mountains collapsing.

[There is no such thing as karma in this world. Good deeds do not necessarily lead to good rewards, and evil deeds do not necessarily lead to punishment. There are no ghosts or gods above us. Doing as you please is best, and you should know better than anyone else...] 

The human heart is scarred easily. In this world with all kinds of dangers and evils, once you experience them firsthand, the shattered innocence and expectations can never be pieced back together again. 

Ten years is enough time to grind a person into dust. 

As for the prestigious and upright families in the world, they rely mostly on their passionate and unblemished hearts. No matter how young Su Si is, he has seen too much malice and is tainted with uncontrollable darkness and suspicion, destined to never be fated with Taiheng again. 

The black snake let out a long hiss, tears of blood streaming down its face. It suddenly went crazy and threw itself at the rocks, as if trying to scrape off its scales. Unfortunately, after the frenzy, the scales still clung tightly to its body, leaving it with only a few bloody wounds. 

Shi Jingzhi no longer protected Yan Qing. He looked at the giant faces making up countless tragic scenes, his expression blank. 

Ignorance begets anger, and without a target for his anger and resentment, thry turned back to devour his own heart.

What exactly does Su Si's "ignorance" mean? Is it the inability to distinguish between good and evil, or has his passion cooled but he cannot let go of the delusion that "heaven's justice is clear" and refuses to sink into the path of evil?

Yan Qing grabbed the soil on the mountaintop with both hands. The mountaintop was covered in broken stones, and his ten fingers were dripping with blood, tears streaming down his face.

The flesh shackles finally stopped attacking Su Si. They twisted into a ball and turned their murderous intent towards their own master.

Above them were the withered faces of the world's countless evils, surrounded by a network of flesh shackles adorned with crimson ghost eyes, creating a scene straight out of hell. Blood and tears flowed on the ground, a complete mess. In the cracks within the illusion of the Heart Demon, a hint of blue sky could still be seen.

Pure and transparent, merciless to the extreme.

Shi Jingzhi leaned on the flagpole with both hands, suddenly feeling suffocated.

"You are not his Heart Demon, he resents the so-called heaven's mandate." 

Shi Jingzhi murmured, not looking at Yan Qing. 

The world is dangerous and unpredictable, but Yan Qing is not Su Si's Heart Demon, he is more like the last trace of his innocence. 

"Yan Qing, you are the opposite...what you are angry about is not the unfairness of heaven, but your own helplessness." 

From the beginning to now, he has been involved in every turning point of the other party's fate, but he has not been able to save anything. Ten years have passed, the world has changed, but he's still the same as before. 

The Yan family's ghost eyes still annoy people, and Yan Qing himself is still a mouse crossing the street, only able to survive in the world as a blind man. He clearly entered the most righteous Taiheng Sect in the world, but his life is still like sailing against the current, and all his efforts are spent on just maintaining the appearance of peace. 

His anger has been burning for more than ten years and has never been extinguished. Years of resentment have turned inward, becoming a chronic illness. 

Upon hearing Shi Jingzhi's words, Yan Qing wiped away his tears and suddenly burst into laughter. 

He stomped down his Heart Demons and stood up unsteadily, as if he had lost all feeling. One by one, the bloodshot eyes burst open under Yan Qing's feet, making a sticky, squelching sound.

Yan Qing walked towards the badly injured black snake and slowly embraced it. 

The flesh shackles wrapped around them from all sides, binding them together so tightly that neither could move.

"In the end, birds of a feather flock together," Yan Qing closed his eyes and hugged the snake. "We are the same, resigned to our fate, yet unwilling to accept it... Ah Si, I will accompany you from now on."

They were both still alive, even if it was a hopeless struggle, they didn't need to continue alone. 

The scales of the black snake finally loosened a bit, and the black scales slipped off, revealing Su Si's bloody and blurry upper body. The flesh shackles were completely still, not retracting, but also no longer randomly attacking others.

Shi Jingzhi sighed and slowly put down the flagpole in his hand. 

He approached the two people who were barely breathing and looked at Su Si, who was wrapped in blood and half-closed eyes. "Su Si, can you still hear me?"

Su Si raised his eyes and nodded weakly.

Shi Jingzhi's face showed no expression. "Let me ask you, if you could go back to the beginning, to the moment you first met Shi Zhongyu, would you go with her?"

Su Si was stunned for a moment, then showed a tired, almost nonexistent smile. 

He shook his head very lightly, without any hesitation.

Shi Jingzhi stood still for a moment, then bowed his head to the two people in front of him and performed a solemn bow. 

"Thank you both for resolving these blights." 

In the distance, Yin Ci sensed that something was wrong and swiftly approached, asking, "Why did you wake them up when Anger and Ignorance haven't shown themselves yet?" 

With the dispelling of their Heart Demons, Anger and Ignorance would naturally lose their targets and vanish. Yan Budu's clues would also come to nothing.

"Because we don't need them anymore." Shi Jingzhi had his back turned to Yin Ci, his voice stiff with suppressed emotions. "They were already quite injured, so it's better for them to rest early."

Yin Ci watched his back, sensing that something was off. "What's wrong with you?"

"Ah Ci, I won't ask about your Heart Demon. I just want to ask you one thing - why weren't you surprised about the fact that 'I have no Heart Demon'?" 

There was a tremble in Shi Jingzhi's voice.

"You already knew about my situation, didn't you?" 

Before, he had thought that Yin Ci was cold and distant. Now, it seemed that he himself was also detached from the world. 

Shi Jingzhi's chest ached with a strange pain. 

The transformation of a Heart Demon was fueled by their hearts. Yan Qing and Su Si were already at the end of their ropes, and with one blow, their Heart Demons shattered like a black snowstorm of murky fragments. 

Anger and Ignorance was tampered with by Yan Budu, making people's minds unstable. It was indeed a path of death filled with malice, but it could also be an opportunity for enlightenment. 

Within the Heart Demons just now, the cries of a child were piercing and the despair of parting was deep, but Shi Jingzhi inexplicably felt a hint of envy. 

In an instant, all sorts of scenes from his life flashed through his mind. 

From a young age, he was lost, eager to please, and guarded against others. But as the red leaves fluttered like butterflies and his hair tangled under the starry sky, he found joy and freedom in the Buddha's teachings.

Amidst the vibrant whirlwind, only Shi Jingzhi stood alone in the center. His memories of others were blurred and indistinct.

That's right, he wanted a disciple to experience the bonds of the mortal world. 

Anyone would do, as long as he could shower them with his love, dependence, and worry.

He was aloof, only seeking a taste of sweetness before moving on. But alas, mortal bonds were still mortal bonds. If he didn't want have his heart moved in kind, how could he talk about such bonds?

Once he entered the formation, Shi Jing had actually started to sense something was amiss. 

For years, he had been accumulating his thoughts, unsure of their origin and unable to express them to anyone. Eventually, he couldn't even distinguish between the suppressed emotions, labeling them all as "despair."

The pain and confusion were so overwhelming that he had no desire for worldly distractions or obstacles.

Yin Ci was not surprised, was it because he had seen through his true nature? What did Yin Ci think of this kind of "master"? ...Not knowing what someone else was thinking turned out to be such an unsettling feeling.

All the previous attempts at intimacy and testing, all the anxiety and uncertainty, now seemed insignificant. All that remained was an indescribable emptiness. The veil of clouds covering his eyes was brushed away by the Greedy Butterflies, and with his desires dispelled, only an empty heart was revealed.

Perhaps it was time to take the first step. 

Continuing to be alone and detached, he couldn't cultivate his heart and couldn't experience deep emotions. 

Turning around, Shi Jingzhi looked at Yin Ci with a smile on his face, but his eyes were slowly turning red. 

"Ah Ci, you can continue looking for Anger and Ignorance," he said softly. "Now that I'm here, they won't be able to escape." 

Yin Ci didn't move. 

Shi Jingzhi didn't need to explain further - at the moment his words fell, countless pale thorns shot out from under his feet, wildly spreading. 

The "Dustless Words" instructed him to question himself and the heavens, but not to question the world. Yet now, he wanted to blame the heavens and curse himself, entangling love, hate, anger, and ignorance, and displaying it all for the world to see. 

The thorns stretched out in despair, carrying with them a reluctance to leave this world and a determination to do whatever it takes. They wrapped around the mountains, the swaying "bald branches," and the giant human head lamp, as if to devour everything in their path. 

In an instant, the thorns climbed up the nearby mountains, covering the sky and earth, their sharp tips pointing straight at the sky.

In that moment, Shi Jingzhi's long-standing defenses crumbled. In front of Yin Ci, he smashed his heart into the human world, throwing out all his grievances, reluctance, and liberation.

It was like a group of mountains covered in snow.

His mind was unstable, and anger and delusion arose, giving birth to a Heart Demon.

Shi Jingzhi tightly grasped a thorn of his Heart Demon, the sharp tip piercing his palm, and black and red blood slowly dripping down.

"Go find it quickly," Shi Jingzhi repeated.

His face was pale, and his smile was ugly. His voice trembled, with a hint of indiscernible sobbing. 

Yin Ci still didn't leave. 

For some reason, compared to the fleeting glance in front of the Greedy Butterflies, Shi Jingzhi now seemed more alive, despite his disheveled appearance. He was so alive that Yin Ci couldn't bear to leave him alone. 

Carefully navigating through the thorns, just like when he was still blind, Yin Ci grabbed Shi Jingzhi's wrist firmly. 

"Shizun only gave in to his Heart Demon, he wasn't consumed by it." 

His actions were resolute, his voice calm. 

"If you want to search, we'll go together." 

The author has something to say: 

The fox's Heart Demon has arrived!


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