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    Chapter 114: Reality: Past Incidents

    Chi Zihe didn't mean that.

    He was simply very afraid that Ming Yiyang would be overcome with emotion and rush to confront Yan Qiling, resulting in a physical altercation and ultimately sacrificing his own life.

    It wasn't that he was a coward, but the fact was, an Unbounded Master who had returned from the Underworld possessed terrifying power – power so immense that it could warp reality itself!

    One must know that the Realm of the Living had a tremendous ability to strip away everything, especially for beings that didn't belong there. Its draining effect was even more potent against such entities.

    Although Yan Qiling claimed to have a foothold in the human world, every moment he spent here, his soul was being drained by the Realm of the Living. This drain was potent enough to instantly obliterate wayward spirits, yet Yan Qiling appeared completely unaffected.

    This already spoke volumes.

    The power that Yan Qiling wielded was far beyond what an ordinary person could contend with... Even if their master were to reemerge, facing this man head-on would likely be a risky endeavor.

    Not to mention, Unbounded Masters were ruthless characters without any regard for compassion.

    If he could take Ming Yiyang's eyes, he could just as easily take Ming Yiyang's life!

    At this point, Chi Zihe had no choice but to quickly call She Lingshuang and ask her to come over and deal with the mess.

    This time, he didn't make the call in the hospital room for fear of agitating Ming Yiyang.

    When She Lingshuang picked up the phone, she was unaware of what had happened and asked,

    "How is Xiao Ming doing? Is he alright? Should I come over in a few days to cook some nourishing soup for him? You can have some too."

    "Why am I just a side note?"

    Chi Zihe felt a bit down, but this wasn't the time for jokes. He quickly brushed aside the playful tone and got straight to the point:

    "Uncle Yan has plucked out Xiao Ming's eyes!"

    "…What?"

    She Lingshuang's voice was filled with confusion and disbelief. It seemed she had never anticipated such a situation. She immediately said,

    "It's too late today. Once I've settled the children and Grandmother, I'll buy a ticket for Guang City tomorrow. Make sure you get a clear understanding from Xiao Ming about everything that happened—don't leave anything vague!"

    "Alright, alright, hurry up then... Oh, this atmosphere is too gloomy, I can't handle it."

    "I understand."

    With a grim expression, Chi Zihe took a deep breath at the hospital room door after hanging up the call.

    He wasn't an overly empathetic man, but Ming Yiyang was his best friend.

    He had watched this kid grow up, almost like a father to him. Later, when Ming Yiyang started working in his company, the roles reversed, and Chi Zihe became a sort of father figure to him.

    In their unique father-son dynamic, he had long considered Ming Yiyang as family.

    Despite his tumultuous upbringing, the kid had always been arrogant and never shown signs of despair. He always maintained an indomitable spirit, no matter how challenging the situation.

    But now, he was in a gloomy and reticent state.

    Though the Yin-Yang Eyes had vanished, the impending return to the Netherworld would double the risks. These were realities that couldn't be overlooked.

    Chi Zihe truly didn't know how to comfort the other party.

    To be honest, he was somewhat angry inside.

    Despite his persistent persuasion earlier, his words had fallen on deaf ears.

    But at this crucial moment, he wouldn't blame the other party for not listening to him.

    Losing one's sight was already a great tragedy in life; adding more salt to the wound would be inhumane, something he couldn't bring himself to do.

    Exhaling the pent-up frustration in his chest, Chi Zihe strengthened his emotional defenses and declined the chaotic social engagements outside. He then gathered his spirits and entered the ward.

    Ming Yiyang had already finished his meal, with the food box and spoon tidily placed on the metal cabinet beside him.

    "You've finished eating, right? Did you enjoy it? Should I have someone prepare something else for you?"

    Chi Zihe thought he could smoothly carry out the conversation.

    However, when he actually pulled up a chair and sat down, he found his words dry and stiff.

    Just like during his graduate thesis defense, when he faced the criticism of his Taoist scripture and temple management professors in the preliminary defense, he felt awkwardly tongue-tied even while sipping water.

    Ming Yiyang didn't say anything, only leaning against the headboard.

    This silence was more unsettling than a disheartened response.

    Chi Zihe coughed softly, finally thinking of something uplifting to say:

    "That, well, Mr. Si has already paid the final installment – six hundred thousand yuan. It's all in your account now. You can verify it later when your eyes recover... Yeah, just rest assured and take care of yourself for this period. Don't overthink things. There are still plenty of tasks you can handle at the company."

    Ming Yiyang remained silent.

    Chi Zihe couldn't help but quicken his pace with his words:

    "Even if the Wujian World insists on pulling you in later, we still have options regarding your Yin-Yang Eyes. We can ask Master to come out of seclusion and perform a ritual to help you regain your sight."

    "If that method doesn't work, there are other avenues. You don't need to worry about those messy issues. No matter what, you've got Senior Brother and Sister-in-Law. We'll find a way to deal with it all. Don't be concerned."

    "…Thank you."

    Relieved that Chi Zihe had finally spoken, he sighed in relief.

    However, before he could continue, the other person suddenly asked,

    "Senior Apprentice Brother, I recall that the first time you met Yan Qiling was at She Family's Ancestral Hall, right?"

    Chi Zihe's heart skipped a beat as he replied,

    "Hmm, yes, that's correct."

    Ming Yiyang turned his head, his eyes unfocused,

    "What was he like back then?"

    Chi Zihe was initially taken aback, then fell into a deep, furrow-browed silence.

    He recalled the time when She Lingshuang had just become pregnant.

    That man, with his usually smiling almond-shaped eyes lowered, had a subtle hint of indescribable regret in his brows.

    In his early years, he had been wayward, having grown up alongside She Lingshuang. Everyone believed they should marry, and even he had thought so too.

    But when something is predetermined too soon, it feels like a shackle around one's neck.

    He had imagined getting married only after he had lived life to his heart's content. However, She Lingshuang suddenly called one day, informing him that she was pregnant.

    His joy at becoming a father didn't last more than a second before he was consumed by the terror of being trapped in life's prison. Instead of rushing back, he claimed he was busy with work and wouldn't be able to return anytime soon.

    Lingshuang's tone had been filled with disappointment, and he knew it, but he refused to go back. It felt as if doing so would lead him straight into an enforced marital hell.

    Later on, he regretted his decision countless times, and even now, the memory still filled him with remorse.

    Back then, Lingshuang would argue with him over his business trips, trying every means to get him home.

    While at a drinking gathering, he received a call from She Lingshuang. Over the phone, she cried, begging him to return, telling him that the situation in the village was dire. She had been possessed by negative energy, and her recent hospital checkup did not yield favorable results. The fetal heartbeat was weak, indicating a potential miscarriage.

    He dismissed it as another one of She Lingshuang's tricks and hung up, pretending there was bad reception.

    It wasn't until the middle of the night when Wang Bafang called repeatedly, reiterating the situation, that he reached for their matching bracelets and found them scorching hot. Only then did he realize that She Lingshuang hadn't been lying. In a hurry, he finally made his way back to Mount Sanqing.

    He entered the city hospital, and She Lingshuang was filled with an eerie aura. Not only her, but Wang Bafang had also been tainted by it.

    Only now did he learn that half a month ago, She Village had suddenly been shrouded by an unknown ghostly energy, thriving despite the purifying yang force of the Taoist Master's Mansion. Several senior disciples had entered the village to investigate, but they had all vanished without a trace, leaving no clues behind.

    She Lingshuang had always lived in seclusion on the mountain. The previous night, when Wang Bafang went to the village to assess the situation, he happened to encounter her running out of her house for help. Thus, he rushed her to the hospital overnight and frantically contacted him.

    The woman lying in bed had a pale, translucent complexion. Instead of the expected ecstatic reaction to his arrival, she displayed a serene detachment as if she had seen through the world.

    Disregarding his concern, the woman remained unnervingly calm, not at all like a patient:

    "The village is peculiar. Others can't sense it, but you're different. Chi Zihe, you're familiar with the village layout. Last night, I sensed a force guiding me towards the ancestral hall. If my guess is correct, it might have been taken over by some malevolent entity. The ghostly aura is drawing sustenance from the yin earth, allowing it to envelop the entire village."

    "Grandma isn't on the mountain right now, and the ancestral hall has been abandoned for years, so it'll be difficult to locate. I'll give you Man Du; it will lead you there."

    She Lingshuang's aloofness stirred an unprecedented anxiety within Chi Zihe. The matter in She Village could wait; he was more concerned about his own family's affairs. Holding her icy hand, he asked,

    "Are you in pain right now? I'll go get you something to eat. What would you like?"

    She Lingshuang allowed him to hold her hand without responding to his question.

    "These tasks can be handled by me alone. The fate of my senior brothers is uncertain; finding them takes precedence."

    He sensed that She Lingshuang was in a foul mood, but she had already withdrawn her hand, leaving only a chill in his palm.

    "Go ahead," she said.

    Unbeknownst to him, this instance of She Lingshuang's coldness was distinct from any previous encounter.

    Alongside Wang Bafang, they found the bamboo raft washed up on the water's edge. Even before reaching She's village, they could sense an eerie stillness bearing down upon them.

    The water surface was calm, without a ripple, like a mirror reflecting silence.

    At the entrance to the village, the items used for the ritual remained, yet not a soul could be seen. This unsettling atmosphere weighed heavily on both Wang Bafang and Chi Zihe.

    Nonetheless, with no other choice, they steeled their nerves and ventured deeper into the village.

    Chi Zihe affixed the Spirit Seeking Talisman to his body, and upon reopening his eyes, he discovered that an eerie pink miasma had silently enveloped the village.

    This pink miasma exuded an extremely dense spiritual energy, but it was far from being something benign. Instead, it carried an aura of ghostly Yin spirits.

    Wang Bafang immediately sensed that things were amiss:

    "This aura is so thick... What kind of formidable entity could it be? Shouldn't we contact our Senior Uncle first to inquire about where Master is wandering now? We don't want to end up delivering ourselves as prey."

    Chi Zihe pulled out two Purple Gold Talismans from his bosom and slapped them into Wang Bafang's arms:

    "Even if Master comes, it'll take quite some time. What if they're overseas attending an exchange conference? Asking would be pointless then. Besides, look at how fast this miasma is spreading. If we leave it unchecked, it'll likely reach beyond the village by tomorrow. We can wait for Master, but this miasma won't wait for us."

    Upon seeing the Purple Gold Talismans, Wang Bafang exclaimed in awe:

    "Holy cow, these are amazing! Even a Heaven Rank ghost wouldn't stand a chance against these! Alright, let's brothers investigate together!"

    Chi Zihe, unimpressed with Wang Bafang's excitement, placed the full-bodied Mandy on the ground, instructing it to locate the source of the miasma.

    As they followed Mandy, the miasma around them grew increasingly thicker.

    First, it was pink, then transformed into a rosy hue, like a camellia red, and finally, they seemed to be trapped in an infernal hell of crimson, so dense that it was almost impenetrable. This expanding red tide brushed past them, carrying with it a massive amount of Yin energy!

    Wang Bafang was the first to reach his limit. He flipped out an exorcism charm and slapped it, causing half of it to instantly turn to dust.

    Fortunately, one of his senior brother's specialties was the prolongation of talismans, barely managing to protect both of them from the Yin energy that sought to exploit their vulnerability.

    As they continued, however, Man Du, being an inanimate object, found it increasingly difficult to move due to the ingress of Yin energy. Eventually, it shattered entirely.

    Chi Zihe picked up Man Du's core, and the overwhelming Yin energy had surpassed their ability to perceive its intensity!

    Trapped amidst the dense fog, the two could only sense an overwhelming Yin energy wherever they went! There was no way to discern their original path.

    In this dire situation, they had no escape route.

    Fortunately, Chi Zihe took off his earring and, crouching on the spot, performed a divination.

    Muttering to himself,

    They were just a few steps away from the shrine, but even if they reached it, no miracle would occur. The problem of the miasma would persist. However... there might be a turning point, but it could also lead to their demise instead.

    The divination frightened Wang Bafang, and he was somewhat tempted to leave.

    But as Chi Zihe gazed at the turning point, the image of She Lingshuang's pale face flashed before his eyes, along with the thought of the child they had struggled to protect. Finally, he brushed off the dust from his robe and declared, "I'll check out that turning."

    Wang Bafang couldn't let him venture forward alone.

    With a determined grit of his teeth, he decided to follow, ready to risk their lives together.

    Soon, they entered an area overgrown with weeds and thorns.

    They were already quite close to the village shrine.

    However, the problem was that the She family's shrine had been neglected for decades. The original bluestone paving on the ground was in ruins, and merely avoiding the pits required great effort.

    Still, Chi Zihe could sense that what they were searching for lay ahead.

    They pushed through the thicket and stepped cautiously on the creaking, shattered stones and tiles.

    The crimson mist abruptly transformed into a dense, bottomless black fog at some invisible boundary.

    They collided with each other, creating a vortex where the two colors intertwined, resembling a perilous natural phenomenon.

    Should any mortal dare to challenge it, they would never return, meeting a gruesome end.

    Chi Zihe didn't allow Wang Bafang to enter and ventured alone into the swirling maelstrom of red and black.

    In the absolute darkness, he could no longer hear any sounds of the wind.

    Within this artificial night, amidst the boundless midnight, a glimmer of snowy white jade-like radiance suddenly caught his eye.

    He made his way closer.

    And then, he saw a snow-white skull perched atop the stone lion statue in the temple courtyard.

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