After Failing to Influence the Protagonist Chapter 16 Part 2

Chapter 16.2 Mirror

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The once crying and dramatic junior disciple, upon entering the room, turned out to be the soundest sleeper among the three.

The old man harnessed his cart and loaded it with firewood, and the three of them sat atop the pile of wood.

The countryside scenery was clear and beautiful. The old man, wearing a bamboo hat, asked, “How did you sleep?”

Pei Jing replied, “Quite well.”

Well, that was a load of crap! He must have been out of his mind to believe Chu Junyu’s nonsense.

The old man said, “You three really have no fear of death. From now on, be more cautious. Even the wild beasts in the Yunlan Mountain Range wouldn’t be a match for you at night.”

Pei Jing smiled and remained silent.

As they approached Yunlan City, Pei Jing finally asked the junior disciple’s name. It was Xu Jing.

Xu Jing’s journey through the Yunlan Mountain Range was truly a transformative experience, from body to mind to soul. Upon returning to the inn, even the Senior Brother with a grim expression seemed familiar and comforting.

However, the Senior Brother who had originally planned to reprimand them was completely deflated by Xu Jing’s look of moved joy.

The Senior Brother asked sternly, “Didn’t I say you must return after nightfall?”

Pei Jing honestly replied, “The fog was too thick, and we accidentally got separated from the others. We couldn’t find our way in the forest, so we ended up spending the night in a small village at the foot of the mountain.”

The Senior Brother questioned, “Why didn’t you crush the beads?”

Pei Jing explained, “Because we didn’t encounter any dangerous situations.”

The Senior Brother gritted his teeth and seethed, “Do you know how worried I was last night? I was on the verge of reporting to the Elders! Today, you will stay at the inn and reflect on your actions. Don’t go anywhere, and next time, I will accompany you!”

Xu Jing replied grudgingly, “Yes.”

Pei Jing had no intention of collecting spiritual mushrooms in the first place, so he was naturally pleased. He sneaked out and headed to the subdistrict.

After selling the firewood to a carpenter, the old man stood at the street corner, selling the herbs he had dug from the mountain.

Pei Jing found a nearby tea shop and sat down, positioned to observe his every move.

The tea shop was quiet with few customers, and the owner idled about, swatting mosquitoes with a hand fan. Pei Jing took a sip of tea and enthusiastically struck up a conversation with the owner. Starting with a few compliments, he managed to make her giggle, and then sympathetically asked, “I’ve noticed that old man for quite some time. With the sun blazing so fiercely, why is he the only one standing there selling things? Doesn’t he have any sons?”

The owner, perceiving Pei Jing’s intention to prolong the conversation, found herself captivated by the charm and eloquence of the young man. With a cheerful demeanor, she gladly carried on, “Ah, he is what we consider an unlucky man around here.”

Pei Jing was taken aback and asked, “What do you mean?”

The owner fanned herself. Her tea shop was located in a bustling area, where people would gather daily to gossip, making her somewhat knowledgeable about various matters.

“When his wife gave birth to their second son, she suffered from a difficult labor and passed away, leaving him alone to raise two children. At his age, he should have been enjoying his life, but misfortune struck. After his son’s wife gave birth to a child, she contracted a cold and passed away less than a month later. The eldest son, devastated by grief, wasn’t paying attention while cutting trees and was crushed to death. Misfortunes never come alone—shortly after the tragedies involving his son and daughter-in-law, even the grandson passed away. In the middle of the night, he died mysteriously in the field.”

Pei Jing thought to himself, “It truly is a tragic situation.”

He asked, “What about his second son?”

The shop owner, raising her fan, shook her head with a sigh and said, “They’re all so unlucky. As for his second son, it seems he may never find a bride in his lifetime. He has married two families, but both times the brides disappeared while passing through the Yunlan Mountain Range.”

Pei Jing was shocked and exclaimed, “Disappeared?!”

The shop owner’s expression became complicated, and she nodded. “It’s strange indeed. The wedding procession arrived at their house with drums and gongs, but when they opened the bridal sedan, they found it empty. What’s even more puzzling is that the people carrying the sedan didn’t even realize it had become lighter. It happened twice during his marriages.”

“Were they ever found?” 

The shop owner shook her head and replied, “No, and even more bizarrely, ever since his second son’s incidents, any wedding procession passing through that area experiences the same. Not only do brides disappear, but any woman who travels that road mysteriously vanishes. Now, the young women of Yunlan City avoid it at all costs and dare not take that route.”

Pei Jing: No wonder the old man mentioned that there were hardly any women here, so where could the missing children come from?

So, behind the group of infant ghosts last night were the vanished brides? What kind of demons resided in the Yunlan Mountain Range, preying on people based on their gender? Or perhaps, it was a □□?

Pei Jing’s gaze extended beyond the old man, reaching towards the distant mountains concealed by clouds and mist.

Engaged in wicked deeds.

Since that was the case, it must not be allowed to live.

He had already circled through the deepest parts of the mountains, but the demon evaded him, and he couldn’t do anything about it—unless he could lure it out?

Pei Jing returned to the inn where he found Xu Jing hunched over the table, diligently copying the sect’s rules. Xu Jing appeared downtrodden but, upon closer inspection, he had a rather refined appearance with fair skin, slightly large eyes, slender eyebrows, and rosy lips.

Pei Jing pondered for a moment and came up with an idea.

He pulled out a piece of candy from his pocket and placed it on the desk. “Would you like some?”

Xu Jing wasn’t particularly interested in candy, but ever since last night, he had held Pei Jing in the highest regard. As soon as he saw Pei Jing, he sat up straight and eagerly took a piece of candy. “Thank you.”

Pei Jing smiled at him warmly, his eyes and brows curved with a friendly demeanor. “Xu Jing, how about we discuss something?”

Xu Jing tore open the candy wrapper, looking puzzled. “What is it?”

Pei Jing: “I regret letting those ghostly creatures go yesterday. Although they weren’t a match for us, they’ve caused great panic among the people of Yunlan City. Just now, I found out they have been abducting women who pass by and eating them!”

Xu Jing’s face turned pale with fright. “Eating… eating people?”

“Yes!” Pei Jing made up a story. “But don’t worry, you don’t need to be afraid. I defeated them easily yesterday, and I can do it again today. But after scaring them off, they probably won’t dare to come out even if they see me. We need to lure them out.”

Xu Jing recalled his own awkward performance from last night and nodded slowly. “So, what’s the plan?”

Pei Jing handed him another piece of candy. “So tonight, we sneak out and you’ll disguise yourself as a woman. We’ll take another trip through the Yunlan Mountains.”

Xu Jing: “…” Even the candy in his mouth tasted somewhat bittersweet.

Trembling, he asked, “Can… can you go and find Brother Chu?”

Give me a break. If he suggested that Chu Junyu should dress up as a woman, Chu Junyu might just kill him!

However, Pei Jing spoke slowly, “But we shouldn’t say it that way… Chu Junyu, well… he lacks kindness.”

Xu Jing: “…”

Pei Jing was skilled at persuading others, and he continued, “Do you remember the old man who kindly took us in yesterday? Both of his second son’s marriages were ruined by the ghostly creatures in the mountains.”

Xu Jing: “They’re so pitiful?”

Seizing the opportunity, Pei Jing pressed on, “Exactly! Also, don’t you remember what Elder Cao said before we left the mountain? We are no longer ordinary mortals who fear for our lives. We are disciples of Yunxiao, and it is our responsibility to eradicate evil, uncover treachery, and vanquish demons. The people of Yunlan City are suffering greatly due to these creatures, and at a time like this, shouldn’t we step forward?”

Xu Jing felt a surge of enthusiasm in his chest from Pei Jing’s words.

Without overthinking, if the trouble could have been resolved by just two Qi Gathering Stage disciples like them, why did none of the many cultivators in Yunlan dare to take action?

Without dwelling on it, if those malevolent spirits from yesterday had the courage to feast on humans, how did they manage to survive?

In the end, Pei Jing managed to con Xu Jing, and his mind became fervent. “You’re right, Brother Yiming! We’ll set off tonight!”

Pei Jing suppressed his amusement and looked at him with a hint of fondness. “Let me take you to change into some clothes first.”

Although this kid was easily deceived, his kind-hearted nature was quite commendable.

Sitting in front of the mirror, Xu Jing, who had been smudged with rouge by Pei Jing without his knowledge, finally realized and asked, “Hey, why don’t you dress up as a woman?”

Pei Jing could adapt and compromise. “I don’t look as good as you do.”

Xu Jing: “…” So, what you said yesterday was just nonsense.

“Can we really do this?”

Xu Jing changed into a woman’s attire, a red silk skirt covered by a white veil. His hair was fashioned into a high bun adorned with dangling pearl hairpins. His face was smudged with makeup by Pei Jing, adhering to his concept of heterosexual aesthetics. His lips were painted blood-red, and his face had a mix of purples and whites. In the middle of the night, he looked more terrifying than a ghost.

Pei Jing assured him, “Trust me, you look exceptionally beautiful. I’ll be hiding nearby, and no matter what happens, don’t be afraid.”

Xu Jing was on the verge of tears.

Listening to Pei Jing’s words, Xu Jing proceeded cautiously. The mist within the forest was thick, causing him to be on high alert while refraining from scrutinizing his surroundings. He feared that suddenly, behind some trees, a red figure would appear or a head would roll down from above. After all, he had already experienced such things yesterday. When Pei Jing said they vanished, they truly left no trace.

In the entire forest enveloped by dense fog, he felt utterly alone. Silence prevailed, and even the howling wind in the desolate mountains sent shivers down his spine. Various horrifying images continuously flashed through his mind, preventing Xu Jing from finding inner peace despite reciting calming mantras.

The longer he walked, the greater his fear grew, sensing as if someone was following him from behind. The chilling aura drew nearer.

He dared not hasten his pace or make any unusual movements.

However, that presence drew closer and closer.

A drop of sweat trickled down his forehead as he shut his eyes, unable to muster the courage to look back.

The mist was thick, and the trees cast multiple shadows before his eyes. Step by step, the repugnant stench emitted by that entity grew discernible. Xu Jing could even sense an unsettling gaze upon his neck.

Xu Jing recalled Pei Jing’s words and suppressed the urge to scream.

Don’t look, don’t look.

He silently recited in his heart, moving forward. With each step, he found himself surrounded by a thick fog. Suddenly, Xu Jing froze in place. The entity behind him had vanished, and the eerie sensation ceased to exist.

It felt like a mere dream, as if he had frightened himself.

Could it be that the mist had some hallucinatory effect?

Xu Jing breathed a sigh of relief in his heart, raising his sleeve to wipe away the sweat. However, his hand came into contact with something hard.

Immediately, a heavy weight settled upon his back, and an extremely chilling aura enveloped his entire body.

Someone was now behind him.

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