After Failing to Influence the Protagonist Chapter 14

Chapter 14 Baby

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The old man didn’t bother to listen carefully to what he was saying. He glanced around, then spoke, “Seems like I’ve come across someone like that on my way here. Stick with me, and I’ll take you to find him.”

Pei Jing let out a laugh and replied, “Alright.”

The elderly man held a basket and walked leisurely towards the depths of the mountain range. His walking style was somewhat strange, with wide strides and a swaying motion from side to side. However, what truly captured Pei Jing’s attention was the basket he cradled in his arms, treating it like a precious treasure.

The basket was draped in a layer of black cloth, and faint traces of red leaked from its edges, reminiscent of blood.

As they ventured further into the dense forest, the fog gradually thickened, becoming so dense that they couldn’t see anything in front of them.

Pei Jing pretended to be afraid and said, “Why do I feel like there’s something sinister about this place?”

The old man hummed and retorted, “What’s so sinister about it? You youngsters are easily frightened. I’ve been roaming around this mountain every day and haven’t come across anything.”

Pei Jing became intrigued and inquired, “What do you do in the mountains every day?”

The old man leading the way stumbled, taking a while to respond, “We gather fruits and spiritual mushrooms to sell. It’s how our village sustains itself. Didn’t you see it when you arrived? At the mountain range’s entrance, it’s called Mutou Village. Selling timber and medicinal herbs has been our family’s livelihood for generations. We know this terrain like the back of our hands.”

Pei Jing’s gaze remained unaffected by the fog’s concealment.

As they ventured deeper, the old man’s appearance grew increasingly peculiar. His head gradually flattened, the exposed skin turned bluish-black, coated in slime. Between his palms, translucent webbing even began to emerge. It seemed like he had recently undergone a transformation and couldn’t resist revealing his true form once he returned home.

“I see,” Pei Jing asked the crucial question, “So, the spiritual mushrooms in your basket are meant for selling?”

The toad spirit had returned to the depths of the mountain range, feeling contented yet eerie. “Yes, but they must be fresh.”

Pei Jing joyfully exclaimed, “That’s fantastic! The Elder assigned us the task of collecting spiritual mushrooms, but I couldn’t find a single one. Can I buy some from you?”

The toad spirit’s mouth watered, almost drooling. “Of course, come over here.”

A putrid odor filled the mist, accompanied by faint popping sounds of bubbles bursting. The path beneath their feet became muddy and unpleasant.

Pei Jing observed it clearly— the toad spirit resumed its original form, a half-person-tall creature covered in pus-filled blisters.

With its eyes bloodshot, it crouched in a marshy area, patiently awaiting his arrival.

Just one step ahead lay the swamp. It was a murky and foul place, with a dark red hue. Thick bubbles rolled and churned within it, surrounded by a grim pile of bleached bones, a testament to the lives it had claimed.

The toad spirit’s eyes were directly beneath Pei Jing’s feet. Taking one more step would make him its prey.

Urging him impatiently, the toad spirit said, “Hurry up, are you going to buy or not?”

Pei Jing let out a light laugh and replied, “Don’t worry, I’m considering what I can use to make a trade with you. Just give me a moment.”

The toad spirit’s mouth nearly stretched to its ears, its gaze sharp and focused. It watched the oblivious cultivator stepping onto the swamp with his black shoes—

Stepping onto the swamp…

And effortlessly walking across, as if it were solid ground.

Toad Spirit: “…”

Slicing through the mist, a gleaming sword dispersed the darkness. The teenager in a light brown robe possessed an extraordinary grace. He rested his sword on the toad’s head, a faint smile playing on his lips. “I’ve figured it out. How about trading your life for your spiritual mushrooms?”

The toad spirit, at least possessing some level of intelligence, quickly understood the situation and became so frightened that its entire body instinctively tried to retreat into the swamp. However, Pei Jing firmly stomped on its webbed feet.

“Don’t run away. You invited me into your home, shouldn’t you offer some hospitality?”

The toad spirit was on the verge of tears. Its massive form floated upon a bed of black leaves, its claws clumsily clasped together in an attempt to mimic a human’s praying posture. However, its unappealing appearance made its expression both awkward and hideous. It cried out, “Immortal, spare me. I’m just a young toad, newly matured. I used to only eat the wild beasts that fell into the swamp. Today is the first time I thought of devouring a human. The things in this basket aren’t spiritual mushrooms. If you want them, take them. Please don’t kill me. I’m still young, and I don’t want to die.”

Pei Jing knew very well that it had never eaten a human, or else he would have swiftly dealt with it at first sight.

“Not spiritual mushrooms? Then what is it? Bring it here.”

The toad spirit, feeling dejected, scraped its black webbed feet against the basket and handed it over to Pei Jing.

Pei Jing retracted his sword, lifted the basket, and beneath the black cloth, a faint bulge could be seen.

In an instant, as the cloth was pulled away, his pupils widened.

The piercing cries of a baby, sharp and piercing, suddenly echoed in his ears. The intense aura of resentment and bloodlust seemed almost palpable. Astonishingly, inside the basket lay the head of a baby—blood-red, with blurred facial features. Its teeth were exposed outside the crimson flesh, forming three layers.

Pei Jing’s gaze turned grave. “What is this?”

The toad spirit, on the verge of proclaiming its innocence until death, exclaimed, “This truly has nothing to do with me. I have no idea when this thing appeared. It came from the earth whenever it rains. I dare not venture outside to feast on humans. I can only scavenge to fill my belly. I truly know nothing. Usually, I avoid humans whenever I see them.”

As it spoke, it felt deeply wronged. Its first instance of entertaining wicked thoughts coincided with encountering a calamity, creating a psychological scar. Its frog’s life was destined to never savor the taste of live humans.

Pei Jing covered the basket again and inquired, “It emerges from the ground?”

The toad spirit nodded. “Yes, yes. After the rain, I take a stroll through the woods, and every now and then, I come across one.”

The smile on Pei Jing’s face faded slightly. It seemed he had underestimated the severity of the situation. Deep within the Yunlan Mountain Range, a grim and bloody scene was surely being enacted by a formidable demon.

Placing the basket amidst the mustard plants, Pei Jing lowered his head and glanced at the toad spirit. “I spare your life, but you must tell me who resides deep within these mountains.”

The toad spirit wore a miserable expression, seemingly resigned. “Divine Immortal, how could I possibly know who dwells inside? I didn’t dare venture there before reaching adulthood, and after gaining sentience, I became even more cautious.”

Pei Jing found it believable. This toad spirit was so frightened by the sight of his unsheathed sword that it wouldn’t dare to make a peep. Its courage didn’t extend very far.

After giving the toad spirit a stern warning, Pei Jing put it to good use by assigning a task: arranging the supply of spiritual mushrooms for the next fifteen days.

The toad spirit contemplated the idea of drowning itself in the marsh.

Today was supposed to be a fruitful and joyous day, allowing it to live worry-free and content. It was all ruined by this unforeseen trouble.

Pei Jing ventured deeper into the mountains, relying on his sword. He was accustomed to handling matters immediately, as delaying them could lead to greater disasters.

The deeper he went, the more numerous the ghosts and monsters became. However, in the face of his overwhelming presence, they trembled in fear, staying far away. He had reached the area with the most concentrated bloodlust, yet it appeared to be a plain land with only a few bare trees, devoid of any peculiarities.

“Does this demon know how to hide itself?”

Pei Jing roamed the open ground, circling around but failed to find anything out of the ordinary.

In the midst of complete silence, a sudden piercing scream reached his ears from nearby.

Following the sound, he spotted a junior disciple of Yunxiao, clad in ill-fitting yellow attire, being relentlessly pursued by a dark shadow.

The disciple’s face turned pale from the relentless chase. Mouth agape and arms flailing desperately, he appeared on the verge of exhaustion. The moment he laid eyes on Pei Jing, he let out a hoarse plea, “Ah, help me!”

Pei Jing chuckled disdainfully and shook his head. “As a disciple of Yunxiao, it’s shameful to end up in such a pitiful state.”

Firmly gripping his sword, motivated by his responsibility as a senior brother, Pei Jing took a step forward, intending to rescue the junior disciple.

However, when he caught sight of the true identity of the dark shadow, his smile froze on his face.

The junior disciple sobbed and clung to Pei Jing’s shoulder, seeking refuge. “Senior Brother Zhang, that damned snake chased me through half the forest just because I stole one spiritual mushroom from it. Don’t you know I’ve been afraid of snakes since I was little?”

A muddy yellow python, measuring one meter in length, raised its head with ominous vertical pupils fixed upon them.

Pei Jing felt his scalp tingle and swiftly delivered a punch to the junior disciple. “What nonsense are you talking about!”

It was better to kill this repulsive creature than to engage in an unarmed face-off.

The tears at the corner of the junior disciple’s eyes had yet to dry when Pei Jing pulled him along and continued running. The disciple’s face grew even paler. “You’re afraid of snakes too!”

Pei Jing genuinely wanted to teach him a lesson. “Just keep quiet!”

If it weren’t for the risk of revealing his cultivation, he would have swiftly dispatched the snake with a single sword strike.

After circling around several trees, Pei Jing firmly dragged the junior disciple towards the outskirts of the mountains. Despite the dense fog, the snake’s vision remained unhindered. Its massive body writhed, closely pursuing them.

After running for an uncertain duration, the junior disciple gasped for breath and leaned against a tree, saying, “I can’t run anymore. Let’s confront it head-on.”

Pei Jing stood by, a slight smirk on his face. “Do you really think you can defeat it in your current state?”

The junior disciple replied, “But we still have you. You said you could handle five opponents at once!”

Pei Jing countered, “Do you believe everything I say?”

As the junior disciple mentioned it, he suddenly remembered and looked around. “Weren’t you in the same group as Chu Junyu? Where is he?”

Pei Jing shrugged. “I have no idea. Maybe he’s reluctant to be seen with me because I’m too powerful.”

The junior disciple let out an inconsiderate burst of laughter. “Hahaha, I know he thought you were too weak—”

Pei Jing: “…”

The junior disciple choked back his remaining laughter and warmly suggested, “How about you join our group? We can have six people. Our group members are all nice.”

Pei Jing: “First, deal with the snake behind you.”

The junior disciple turned his head abruptly, shrieking, “Ahhh—!”

However, his scream quickly subsided.

A crimson sword light descended from above, precisely as the python opened its enormous jaws.

The sword pierced through the snake’s body and severed its head. The python convulsed violently, causing the nearby trees to sway, until finally succumbing and falling to the ground in reluctant defeat.

Pei Jing gazed ahead.

Emerging from the rain of blood, a teenager boy dressed in black strode forward. His long sword was stained with crimson. Amidst the dense mist or perhaps due to inadequate lighting, his hair seemed to be white, while his eyes burned a blood-red hue.

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