The pill in his throat was incredibly spicy, and it melted quickly. Yin Ci's body contorted as he coughed violently.
The spiciness raced up and down his throat, and a wave of heat exploded throughout his body, causing a thin layer of sweat to form on his back.
"You're alive, You're alive," Shi Jingzhi exclaimed with lingering fear. "Ah Ci, you almost scared me to death. I thought you couldn't handle the loss of warmth. Here, have a couple more!"
Yin Ci pushed away Shi Jingzhi's claws and said, "Thank you, Shizun. One is enough for me to be full."
Shi Jingzhi noticed Yin Ci had the energy to be sarcastic and shifted his attention back to the paper figures - the three servants who had turned into paper figures looked just like the new servants in a brothel, without any discrepancies.
The Dark Blood Witch took a long needle and poked and stirred the paper person with it. When she pulled it out, the silver needle was shining blue and had collected many clusters of silky tufts.
She sighed and said, "This is called a Firefly Spider. Its eggs are like cotton, and they scatter when warm. The eggs hatch inside a living creature and eat all its flesh and bones. Then they use the web to create a shell around the living creature and lure other prey to touch it... This is an extremely rare monster, and Yan Budu used it to make 'paper people'."
With these words, even the slowest person understood that the men and women paper people around them were not created by skilled craftsmen, but were originally transformed from living people.
"Grandmother, is there a way to deal with these paper people?" asked the head of the Changle Sect, wiping his sweat.
"Don't touch it, don't hit it, just use something else to push it away," said the old witch as she waved her cane. "Now go and clean up the rooms. It's getting dark, and you should all stay inside."
As soon as he heard it was getting dark, the leader of the Changle Sect turned pale. "But, Grandmother," he stammered.
The Dark Blood Witch ignored him and walked away.
"Our Red Hook Sect don't teach our disciples for them to become servants," one of the followers sneered. "Who knows what kind of creatures will come out at night in this big tomb? If you're scared, why not go beg for help from those righteous sects over there? They love to be taken advantage of."
The Taiheng Sect, known for their love of being taken advantage of, huddled together in the tea hall, moving the paper dolls to the corner and hiding them behind a screen.
Thirty people slept on the floor together.
Meanwhile, the Red Hook Sect took the best room and scattered strange objects and medicinal powders outside the door. They locked themselves in and didn't come out again.
The rest could only choose a room nearby. Quick on the draw, Shi Jingzhi managed to grab the one closest to Taiheng Sect.
"We're not going to share a room with the Taiheng Sect and sleep on the floor?" Yin Ci asked curiously.
"The big window faces the courtyard, and the courtyard is filled with... cough." Shi Jingzhi pushed the door open with a pale face. "Look, even Red Hook Sect has a door. Having a door is better than not having one."
The door creaked open, revealing a dimly lit room with a strong scent of makeup and perfume. Behind the colorful curtains, two paper figures were intertwined, their hair scattered.
Shi Jingzhi was horrified by this scene from the underworld, slowly backing away and closing the door.
"Yan Budu is insane," he gritted his teeth. "Let's go, Ah Ci, we'll sleep on the floor."
Yin Ci gave him a playful glance, snatched the flagpole, and pushed the door open again.
He used the flagpole to shift the paper figures under the bed, then spread out the sheets and laid out the mandarin duck quilt.
Finally, he pulled out a face of a filial disciples and said, "Shizun, please."
Two paper figures huddled under the bed, with a snow-white paper arm sticking out from under the bed.
Shi Jingzhi trembled and said, "Better not."
Yin Ci threw the flagpole back, looking innocent. "Shizun, you can kill people, but you're afraid of corpses?"
"Listen, blood and ghosts are two different things. I'm not afraid of blood, just ghosts." Shi Jingzhi pinched the flagpole with two fingers, looking pained as if he didn't want it anymore.
Yin Ci finally managed to hold back his laughter, tucked the arm back under the bed, and lay down on the bed first.
"Don't be afraid, I'll suppress the yin energy first."
He was a living dead man for three hundred years, and even if there were ghosts in this tomb, they would have to address him as an elder.
Poor Shi Jingzhi knew nothing of this. Seeing his disciple so eager, he had to force himself to remain calm and climb onto the bed with him.
Separated by a veil, he looked around in a daze, feeling as if he was in Qizhou and that everything was just a nightmare. However, the annoying silence reminded him that he was still trapped in this nightmare.
Shi Jingzhi wished he could bury his head in the covers, but he was afraid of embarrassing himself in front of his disciple.
So, he stiffened his body, making himself look more like a dead person than an actual dead person.
"Ah Ci..." he began to say, but Yin Ci interrupted him, "This isn't a solution. Why don't you sleep first, Master? I'll keep watch for the first half of the night, and then we can switch later."
"We're thinking the same thing," Shi Jingzhi pulled the covers tighter and bravely added, "If anything happens, wake me up immediately."
Despite agreeing on this arrangement, Shi Jingzhi couldn't fall asleep immediately. He gradually relaxed his limbs and suddenly laughed lightly.
Yin Ci's heart shook - could it be that he had stimulated Shi Jingzhi too much and scared him crazy?
"It's great to have a disciple," Shi Jingzhi's voice was filled with exhaustion. "They say that one day as a teacher is a lifetime as a father. The ancients were not lying. We've only known each other for a few days, and you followed me even to a place like this."
Yin Ci was a bit unsure if he was moved by his filial piety or lamenting that his disciple was too foolish.
It seemed like he should say something, but it was a bit too late to respond now. Any normal person wouldn't want to open up about such twisted perspectives.
So he spoke from the heart, "I said before, I had nowhere else to go."
"I was the same way," Shi Jingzhi muttered, "but now it's different... now there's the Ku Mountain Sect..."
The latter half of his sentence was unclear, and when Yin Ci looked again, Shi Jingzhi had already fallen asleep.
Yin Ci reached out and traced his fingertips over the rough mask on the man's face, which still had some untrimmed wood splinters along the edges.
Uncover your face, reveal your humanity; conceal your face, become divine.
Perhaps the features on this mask were too twisted, and it carried too many tales of gods and ghosts, causing Yin Ci to feel have a strange feeling -- that the former half of Shi Jingzhi's sentence carried a sense of despair that was on par with his own.
Forget it, all this talk of gods and ghosts only leads to distracting thoughts. Yin Ci took out Shi Jingzhi's white handkerchief and shamelessly covered it over the mask.
Before he could adjust the cloth, the sound of footsteps could be heard outside.
The light rustling sound of footsteps grew closer, sounding like someone walking in straw sandals.
However, there were over a hundred people on this side, and none of them wore straw sandals.
Yin Ci was in a state of alert as he shook Shi Jingzhi hard: "Shizun, the abnormality you pointed out has arrived."
Upon hearing this, Shi Jingzhi stiffened and pulled the covers over his head, slowly curling up into a ball.
Yin Ci heartlessly lifted the covers and tried to act nervous: "Do you hear that? Is that the sound of footsteps outside?"
With his sharp senses, Shi Jingzhi confirmed: "Yes, it definitely is."
The master and disciple held their breath and listened carefully. The sound of grass shoes stopped briefly at their doorstep before continuing on.
"Maybe someone from the Taiheng Sect got up to relieve themselves," Shi Jingzhi whispered.
Yin Ci asked incredulously, "Going all the way to the outhouse? In this godforsaken place?"
Shi Jingzhi replied, "..."
It was true, with Yan Budu's madness, there was a hundred percent chance of finding a paper person in the outhouse.
As they were talking, the sound of rustling grass shoes echoed again. The footsteps had come back and stopped at their doorstep. It might have been their imagination, but the paper man under the bed seemed to move a few times.
This was not good, and Shi Jingzhi quickly pulled Yin Ci and shrank to the corner of the bed.
Wrapped in a silk quilt, the two of them looked like newlyweds who had encountered bandits on their wedding night.
Yin Ci struggled to open the quilt and said, "I'll go take a look. Our mountain village has a lot of killings and a strong evil aura, who knows if this might be able to suppress them."
Yin Ci didn't believe in ghosts - he had traveled all over the country for hundreds of years. He had never seen a real ghost, but he had encountered many people who pretended to be gods and ghosts.
Now that he was witnessing a new phenomenon in the tomb, his long-lost curiosity was piqued.
As soon as he got up, the sound of grass shoes faded away. The person wearing the shoes seemed to be pacing back and forth in the long corridor, stopping from time to time.
Strangely, whether it was the small sects around or the Taiheng Sect sleeping in the hall, not many people seemed to notice this anomaly.
Yin Ci opened the door, and the wooden door creaked sharply. He looked to the left and saw three more people at the end of the corridor.
Shi Zhongyu was in front, with her sword already drawn. Jin Lan and Yan Qing, both looking pale, followed behind her.
Before Yin Ci could say anything, Shi Zhongyu spoke first: "Can you hear it too?"
Yin Ci replied, "Shizun can hear the sound of footsteps clearly, but I can only hear a little bit."
Shi Jingzhi, seeing Yin Ci talking with someone, finally gathered the courage to come closer. Shi Zhongyu nodded respectfully to Shi Jingzhi and pointed with her hand, "Can you see it?"
Only then did Yin Ci follow her hand and look to the right.
A monk was standing at the end of the corridor, holding a crudely made bark lamp in his hand. He was over eight feet tall, wearing monk shoes on his feet, a tattered monk robe on his body, and his face had no features, as if a boiled egg was placed on his shoulders.
The monk stopped moving and turned his blank face towards them, as if observing them.
Shi Jingzhi's confusion overcame his fear, "Why is there a monk in the brothel? This isn't good."
The three members of the Taiheng Sect" "..."
Yin Ci deeply applauded his own master's ability to focus on the key points.
Luckily, there was someone at the scene who was even more afraid than Shi Jingzhi.
Jin Lan trembled for a while before struggling to explain, "Yan Qing's ears are more sensitive than most people's, and he said he heard strange noises. I couldn't hear anything, so I went to find Senior Sister... and it turns out she could hear it too."
After speaking, he pointed shakily across the corridor and said, "Senior Sister and Sect Leader Shi both said there was a monk over there, but I couldn't see anything..."
Yin Ci took the opportunity to lie, "I could only see a vague figure... judging by everyone's reactions, most people probably couldn't see it either."
Shi Jingzhi glanced at his disciple and let out a deep sigh. He took two steps forward with the flag in his hand and bowed to the faceless monk, "Master monk, the sea of Buddha's teachings is boundless, but to turn back and seek the shore is to find enlightenment."
Yin Ci once again applauded him - what on earth was he saying? If that was a real monk, if he didn't beat him up after heading that then he would have a lot of self-restraint.
The faceless monk didn't seem to have heard or understood, and didn't react aggressively. He simply took two steps back as Shi Jingzhi advanced, maintaining a fixed distance between them.
Shi Jingzhi was taken aback by the monk's strange retreat and took two steps back himself. But to his surprise, the faceless monk made another move and advanced two steps.
Shi Jingzhi: "..."
He jumped around in all directions, but the monk mirrored his every move perfectly, like a reflection in a mirror. The two of them remained at the same distance from each other.
The onlookers watched the two of them dance, and the tense atmosphere dissipated somewhat.
Shi Zhongyu cleared her throat and said, "Sect Leader Shi, let's take a break. Take a break first."
Shi Jingzhi finally stopped, gasping for air and spitting out a mouthful of blood, from either fear or exhaustion.
Blind Yan Qing looked confused, while Yin Ci struggled to hold back his laughter and almost blew his cover. Only Jin Lan trembled as he spoke, "Senior Sister, so he wasn't possessed after all?"
Shi Zhongyu shook her head and rolled up her sleeve, revealing a sparkling white bracelet. "This is one of our sect's treasures. If there were any evil spirits within three zhang, the Blood Bone Beads would immediately turn from white to red. But as you can see, there's no reaction. Whatever's in front of us is neither ghost nor demon."
Yin Ci led the conversation, "Hmm, not a ghost or a demon, then it must be an illusion?"
Shi Zhongyu confirmed, "Exactly. This is a spell cast by a human. It's highly likely that when Sect Leader Shi spoke to it earlier, he was targeted and locked onto."
Shi Jingzhi breathed a sigh of relief, "Well, as long as it's not a vengeful ghost, a mere illusion--"
Shi Zhongyu said, "...but this spell is too complicated for me to understand. If it's a curse, it could still be life-threatening. Sect Leader Shi, please be careful."
Shi Jingzhi wordlessly inhaled back the breath he had just sighed out.
"Yan Budu wouldn't be so kind as to create a spell just for fun." Yan Qing, who had been silent for a long time, suddenly spoke up. "Could this be a trap, designed to lure prey away?"
Yin Ci deliberately took over the conversation, "If that's the case, couldn't he have chosen a more ordinary disguise? A monk visiting a brothel is already suspicious."
Shi Jingzhi grunted and gradually calmed down, "Let's go and take a look."
It was rare to see this person being serious, and Yin Ci raised an eyebrow.
"Who knows, there might be some mystery to this. Yan Budu is extremely picky and hates monks the most. If he really wants to kill someone, he would send a beauty."
He even showed a smile.
"Anyway I have already been targeted, and waiting to die passively is boring. Ah Ci, go wake up the people from the Yueshui Bureau, we'll leave now."
With that, Shi Jingzhi placed a hand on his disciple's shoulder, his lips almost touching Yin Ci's ear - "If I were Yan Budu, I would deliberately expose some treasures. Killing two birds with one stone, wouldn't that be enjoyable?... If that's the case, with Yan Budu's malice, it wouldn't be surprising to use a monk as a guide."
"When everyone is fighting to the death, they will definitely think - how nice it would be if they hadn't seen that hateful monk."
The story begins with the secret medicine of the Ku Mountain Sect, known as the Chongqing Extra Spicy Hot Pot Base Pill (×).
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