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    Chapter 205: Seeking Revenge

    Even desperate dogs will leap over walls. Knowing that their true identities were exposed, these people surely wouldn't spare them. A melee was inevitable.

    The knife-wielding men had to fight for their survival. Risking an arrow, they had to flee, charging towards the direction with women and children.

    The dozen knife-wielders scattered, but the women and children who usually screamed, cried, and scattered in panic at the sight of them had become ghosts today. No one fled; no one was afraid. He chose two seemingly easiest targets, young girls who appeared no more than ten years old.

    Yet, these young girls stared at him with gleaming eyes.

    The weapons they acquired from joining the rebel army, those bright and imposing blades that had never failed them before, proved useless here. Before he could even charge and swing his blade, the two children and another adolescent boy nearby had already grabbed long sticks and charged at him.

    Long sticks, made of wood—what use could they be?

    In the past, he could easily snatch and disarm them. But today, the force behind the three sticks wielded by the children was immense, making them impossible to grasp. They moved like agile snakes, attacking him from high, middle, and low angles, forcing him to cover his head and jump around, screaming incoherently. After just a few rounds, he lost hold of his knife handle, which clattered to the ground. His shoulder, back, and leg were also struck fiercely. A sharp pain in his knee made it buckle, and he fell to his knees. Another blow from the stick ensured he couldn't rise again.

    Rebellion, rebellion, it's all rebellion.

    He held the knife but ended up being the one beaten.

    How could this be??


    Forty-seven people in total.

    Nineteen had arrow wounds, and another dozen or so who attempted resistance or escape were subdued with clubs. The remaining few – including women and the inherently timid – were all bound without exception.

    The Zheng family's mood was visibly off. Recalling that Zheng Da'niu had suffered in the county, coupled with Shen Lie's side having Shen Jin as the aggrieved party, the villagers from both villages turned their gazes onto Shen Lie and the Zheng father and son.

    Shen Lie was easy to deal with. He asked Shen Jin, "Do you want to do it yourself, or should Big Brother help?"

    Shen Jin had never experienced such a situation before, yet despite his trembling hands, he lifted them resolutely to take the knife from Shen Lie. "I'll do it myself."

    Seeing how tense Shen Jin was, Shen Lie patted his head. "Alright, there's no need to do it here. Big Brother will teach you later."

    His gaze fell upon the four bound brothers, treating them as if they were already dead.

    At the butcher's stall, Zheng Tu's eyes were bloodshot, and he held a bloodstained hog-slaughtering knife in his hand. Looking at his father, Zheng Dalang said, "Father, call out Second Sister. She needs to identify her enemy and witness the revenge being taken."

    Otherwise, she would never recover or lead a normal life.

    Zheng Tu clearly understood that this was perhaps the only way for his daughter to overcome her nightmare. He nodded and instructed Zheng Erlang, "Go fetch her. Ask your mother and eldest sister-in-law to accompany her."


    It was the first time Sang Luo had seen Zheng Daju since she delivered the medicine. Sang Luo seldom visited, and with Zheng Daju's poor condition, she barely left her room. Even on the few occasions when she did venture out, they never crossed paths. All she knew was that Zheng Daju's fever had subsided.

    Now, as she observed Zheng Daju, it was apparent that she was in a trance-like state. Clutching a grass pillow, she was supported by her mother and sister-in-law on either side. Upon seeing the bound crowd outside, Zheng Daju showed no reaction; all her focus was on the grass pillow in her arms.

    Zheng Tu hurried over, intending to comfort his daughter, but with a bloody knife in hand, he held back and said, "Daju, take a look and see who this is."

    He then stepped closer to the bound woman, who had half her leg severed, leaving only a fraction still attached. The pain was so excruciating that she wished she could pass out, yet somehow, she remained conscious. Her entire body was drenched in cold sweat, as if she had been submerged in water.

    Zheng Tu gently pulled back her hair, revealing the woman's entire face to his daughter.

    Zheng Daniu was still soothing the grass pillow in her arms when Zheng Mother recognized the woman. Her hand holding onto Zheng Daniu's suddenly clenched tightly. Feeling her mother's grip, Zheng Daniu instinctively looked at her mother and then followed her gaze.

    At first, her eyes were lifeless, but as she recognized who the person was, her pupils dilated, and she jolted in shock. Her face paled, and she retreated while holding the grass pillow, crying and calling out for her parents and elder brother incoherently.

    Behind her, Zheng Erlang's eyes reddened as he supported Zheng Daniu. "Don't be afraid, Daniu. We're all here. Tell Second Brother who hurt Yuan'er? Who cut your flesh?"

    "Yuan'er, Yuan'er." Crying, Zheng Daniu hugged the grass pillow and hid behind Zheng Erlang, shaking her head persistently. "Don't touch my Yuan'er, don't touch her."

    She didn't hear a word of her brother's reassurance.

    Zheng Erlang turned to pull her. "No one can touch you. Father and Mother are here, and so am I. Tell me, who has been touching you before?"

    Zheng Daniu buried her face into Zheng Erlang's chest, weeping uncontrollably as she called out for Second Brother.

    Seeing that she wasn't as terrified as before, Zheng Erlang cautiously led her towards the woman. "Don't be scared. Brother will avenge you and Yuan'er. Just tell me who they are."

    The closer Zheng Erlang led Zheng Daniu, the more terrified the woman became. She had no idea that Zheng Daniu was still alive; how could she survive? Didn't she die at the East Market?

    The woman's breath quickened until she met Zheng Daniu's gaze. Watching as Zheng Daniu lifted her trembling chin, pointing at her, "She, she took away Yuan'er. They used knives on Yuan'er, my Yuan'er."

    Zheng Datou clutched her straw pillow tightly and wrapped her arms around herself. "My arm hurts, Brother. My arm hurts, and my legs too."

    The woman shook her head vigorously, addressing not only Butcher Zheng but also numerous villagers surrounding him and the rest of the Zheng family, people she did not even know personally: "Zheng Daniu has lost her mind. How can you possibly believe the words of a madwoman? Madness cannot hold any weight, can it?"

    Zhang, already in a rage, had kicked over the basket. With bloodshot eyes, he asked his daughter, "Daughter, take another look. Is there anything left inside?"

    Alongside Zheng DaLang, the father and son took turns lifting the bound individuals by their hair for Zheng Datong to inspect. Most of them wore indifferent expressions. However, when it came to the second row, three men stubbornly refused to lift their heads. After receiving several piercing kicks from Butcher Zheng, they finally lost their strength and were dragged up like lifeless fish.

    Unbeknownst to them, when Zheng Datou recognized the faces of the three men, she trembled violently and clutched at her clothes before retreating. Upon realizing that they were bound and kneeling, and were even shorter than her, her fear lessened while her hatred emboldened her. Summoning an unknown strength, she rushed forward and snatched the butcher knife from her father's hand.

    Before the onlookers, including Sangluo, could react, she had already lunged towards the group.

    All her fear, pain, breakdown, and despair seemed to find an outlet through each swing of the blade. Sobs of despair punctuated the flashing light, her muffled curses indecipherable, save for the mention of "Yuanlang" and "beast."

    Shen Ning, Xu Wenying, and the others were startled, quickly retreating behind a wall of people, too afraid to witness the scene. Shen An, Xu Wenbo, Second Niu, and Thursday Lang, being younger, also took a step back in terror.

    Sangluo vaguely grasped the situation, a heavy feeling settling in her heart. She averted her gaze, unable to bear listening or watching any further.

    No one attempted to stop Zheng Daniu, as most could guess what was happening. In this world, there were countless Zheng Daniu and her children, who only escaped such miserable fates by fortunate refuge in these deep mountains.

    The Zheng family didn't stop her. Butcher Zheng only approached and gently embraced her with one arm when his daughter finally dropped the knife from exhaustion.

    Among the forty-odd captives, witnessing the brutal deaths of their three companions and the woman they had kept, two of the more timid ones wet themselves in fear. Even the bravest, with their hands full of sins, now trembled and collapsed on the spot. In that entire stretch beyond the village, the only sound was Zheng Da'nuo's wailing as she clung to her father, her cries echoing with raw sorrow.

    This outpouring of emotion stirred a glimmer of anticipation in both Zheng Ma and Zheng DaLang's wife. They had never seen their daughter cry like this since she was rescued; she would usually huddle with her grass pillow in the corner of her bed, secluded within her own world.

    Zheng Ma approached and tentatively called out, "Da'nuo?"

    Zheng Da'nuo turned to her mother, then looked at her sister-in-law, eldest brother, eldest brother, and second brother, one by one, as if seeing them for the first time. Her gaze finally landed on her father's empty sleeve, and her fragmented memories began to connect. She wept, holding onto that empty sleeve.

    As the elder members of the Feng family observed Zheng Datou's now-clear eyes, they embraced and wept together before stepping forward to ask Shen Lie, "What should be done with those individuals?"

    Those individuals, naturally, referred to the four brothers who had wronged Tian Ya.

    Staring blankly at Zheng Datou and the pool of blood for some time, Shen Jin's body trembled, his hand holding the knife shaking. An internal struggle raged within him.

    He was both shocked and impressed by Zheng Datou's decisive act of revenge, but he didn't possess the same courage as she did.

    Observing this, Shen Lie addressed the few elders of the Feng family, "Each one of them carries the blood of countless lives on their hands. None of them can be spared. They all must be dealt with."

    The Feng family's elders nodded, but they were momentarily at a loss as to how to proceed.

    After all, they were ordinary folks; having slaughtered chickens before, they still trembled at the thought of harming someone they didn't know.

    Observing their reaction, Shen Lie understood their predicament. He said, "There's no need for you all to be troubled. We don't need to dirty our hands with such individuals. Leave it to me. Just assign a few strong men to assist me in escorting them away."

    Without the elder even needing to prompt, young men from the Feng family, Zhou family, Gan family, Zheng family, and even Dong Ge's elder brother stepped forward, a dozen strong.

    The Zheng brothers returned with several makeshift dragging devices made of vine and wooden poles, as well as two mats. They took care of the four already deceased, while the survivors, their weapons confiscated by Xu Wencheng's group, were securely bound together with ropes, awaiting Shen Lie's instructions.

    Shen Lie looked at Chen Dashan. "You lead everyone back first. I'll take Little Jin and Wencheng for a walk outside."

    Chen Dashan nodded. "Alright, I'll bring the group back then."

    It was appropriate for adolescents to witness some violence, but up to this point was enough. For the future, Little Jin would seek revenge personally, whereas for Xu Wencheng, Shen Lie clearly intended to toughen him up.

    Shen Lie glanced at Sang Luo, who had guessed his intentions. She warned, "The stench of blood is strong. Be cautious."

    "Rest assured, go back and get some rest. I'll be back soon."


    There was a small stretch of overlapping paths, so the villagers from this side also accompanied them. Thus, a large group turned around and left the vicinity of Zhou's village in a grand manner. However, after just a few steps, Shen Lie, who was walking in front, halted his footsteps.

    From afar, he gazed at a cluster of trees to his right front.

    The people hiding behind the trees realized that they had been discovered. One by one, about seventeen or eighteen young men and teenagers, armed with axes and long sticks, emerged.

    Shen Lie looked at them and recognized most of them. Many were the ones who followed them at a distance during their morning runs and secretly watched their training sessions from afar outside the village.

    Their activities here were indeed quite bloody. Shen Lie explained, "None of us are innocent. We've all had our hands stained with the lives of others before entering the inner circle."

    In other words, their actions weren't without reason.

    His explanation caused the leader among the group to stammer anxiously, "N-No, that's not it. We just wanted to see if we could lend a hand."

    Shen Lie smiled and replied, "It's not necessary. Thank you all the same."

    The man let out an honest laugh. "I didn't do much, so there's no need for thanks."

    Excitement sparkled in the eyes of the group of young men and boys trailing behind. However, they also knew that Shen Lie and his companions had serious business to attend to. Two bold ones ventured, "Can we assist you in escorting them?"

    There were over forty of them.

    Shen Lie glanced at the two young men and, after some thought, nodded. "Alright, then I'll have to trouble you two."

    This elated the two youngsters, and several others of similar age stepped forward. "We'll help too."

    Having several extra helpers was certainly beneficial. It was at this junction that Sang Luo informed Shen Lie and set off with Shen Ning and the others to join Chen Dashan's group.

    Strangely, they seemed to know her. As Sang Luo passed by them, from the oldest to the youngest, they all called out in unison, "Madam Sang."

    Each of them bowed slightly.

    Sang Luo: "..."

    She could only nod at them and acknowledge their efforts, "You've all worked hard."


    Over forty individuals were forcefully dragged into the deserted forest, most of them bearing arrow wounds. On the pristine snow, a trail of crimson stains scattered like stars against the white backdrop.

    In the depths of winter, after days of continuous snowfall, the sun finally made an appearance mid-morning. However, its warmth was absent, leaving only its shape in the sky. Upon entering the old forest, not even a glimmer of sunlight penetrated, plunging the surroundings into a bone-chilling cold.

    After Shen Lie surveyed the area and chose a suitable spot, those who had initially withstood the pressure now cowered in fear, prostrating themselves and begging for mercy. The women among them grew particularly daring with their words.

    Unfazed by their antics, Shen Lie first pulled out the eldest of his four enemies. He beckoned to Shen Jin and, before the latter could clearly see what was happening, swiftly severed the man's hand and foot tendons with surgical precision.

    The man let out a pained wail, drenched in cold sweat, but Shen Lie barely gave him a glance. Instead, he asked Shen Jin, "Have you memorized this position?"

    "You can choose to avenge yourself like Madam Zheng did, but if that method doesn't suit you, consider this. In this old forest during winter, wild beasts are starving."

    Shen Jin's breaths grew heavy, memories of that day when he found Sweet Girl lifeless in the outskirts of the county flashing through his mind. His cheeks tensed before relaxing after a moment. "I understand. I'll handle the other three myself."

    Shen Lie rose to his feet. Xu Wenqing, aware of the situation, assisted Shen Jin in subduing the remaining captives one by one. As Shen Jin finished with one, Xu Wenqing passed another to him.

    Amidst the forest, screams echoed relentlessly. The thirty or so people trailing behind were on the verge of hysteria at the sight before them. Among those who had volunteered to escort, not a single one was cowardly.

    They had confiscated numerous weapons – several blades, axes, machetes, and hoes. At this moment, it mattered little what they were; as long as they could serve their purpose.

    The young men who had willingly joined the escort were trembling in fear, but having eavesdropped from behind the trees that morning, they had an inkling of who these attackers were. They had always feared this pack of malevolent spirits lurking at the forest's edge. With steely determination, the older ones gritted their teeth and mustered the courage to step forward.


    Overhead, the forest reverberated with anguished cries. These individuals, who had terrorized the outskirts for months, plundering, pillaging, and killing, had grown restless. Seeking new targets, they never imagined that upon entering the inner perimeter, their first encounter would lead to their untimely demise.

    Such a horrifying end, lying lifeless in the icy snow, the air thick with the stench of blood. Yet, they remained alive.

    Alive, to hear the approaching roars of beasts, growing louder with each passing moment. How they wished they could have bled out, frozen to death, or even been frightened to death. Anything was better than being conscious while being ripped apart.

    But fate was not theirs to choose. Along with the scent of blood, another distinct odor of carnage swept through the air.

    In their final moments, before their eyes flashed the faces of those they had once terrorized and left in despair.

    In the end, those images merged with their own.


    The snow fell from the sky once more. With a good snowfall, peace and purity would be restored to the world.


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