After Failing to Influence the Protagonist Chapter 17

Chapter 17 The black-clothed man with silver hair and blood eyes

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Pei Jing jumped down from the eaves and looked at the ground. “Demons emerge from underground because the mirror breaks. Doors, windows, everything matches the positions of the mirrors.”

Pei Jing’s eyes darkened, and he drew his sword. He stabbed it into the ground, and when he pulled it out, the tip of the sword was covered in red soil.

He whispered quietly, “Finally found you.”

Using the Cloud Slayer Sword, he cut a square hole in the wooden board.

The soil below was dark red and rotting, with strands of black hair entwined inside. But after digging through that layer of soil, there was nothing.

Pei Jing closed his eyes and used his divine sense to explore the surroundings. He only found trembling evil spirits hiding in the corners.

The trail ended, and the demon was no longer in this room.

He opened his eyes again, sat at the table, and pondered heavily on the events that had taken place in the Yunlan Mountain Range.

“Blood spiritual mushroom, infant ghosts, the missing brides, and the children who died with the old man.”

He took out the basket from the mustard seed and placed the bloody and mangled head on the table.

Well, the toad spirit didn’t lie. This baby’s head must truly have emerged from the ground during rainy days. The head and teeth were caked in mud.

Pei Jing remembered the group of infant ghosts holding hands that he had encountered that night.

When they opened their mouths to wail, there was no tongue.

Thinking about it, Pei Jing ᴜꜱᴇᴅ ᴀ ᴡᴏᴏᴅᴇɴ ꜱᴛɪᴄᴋ ᴛᴏ ʙʀᴇᴀᴋ ᴏᴘᴇɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴛᴇᴇᴛʜ ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴇ ɪɴꜰᴀɴᴛ’ꜱ ʜᴇᴀᴅ. Inside, there was a lot of mud—cloudy yellow and putrid—with a few ants crawling around. But upon closer inspection, indeed, a portion of the tongue had been snipped off.

His expression turned serious.

“It appears necessary to first clarify the matters regarding the Yunlan Mountain Range.”

Early the next morning, the old man came to check on him and, once he confirmed Pei Jing was unharmed, tentatively asked, “Did you discover anything?”

Pei Jing shook his head and said, “No, the demon that killed your grandson is probably no longer here.”

Upon hearing this, the old man’s expression carried a hint of sadness. He said, “After so many years, it must have already left.”

Pei Jing glanced around and asked, “Have you been living alone here all this time? Why haven’t I seen your second son?”

The old man looked downhearted. “After my second son’s two marriage proposals failed, nobody from Yunlan City wants to marry into our side. Those who couldn’t find wives in the village blame him and talk behind his back. Unable to bear it, he went outside to do business. He returns every few months, and I reckon he’ll be back soon.”

No wonder. Despite the old man’s humble appearance, he had some tea utensils that ordinary villagers couldn’t afford.

It seemed like the second son was doing quite well in his business ventures.

The old man planned to load firewood onto the ox cart and go into the city, thinking of taking them along.

Pei Jing nudged Xu Jing forward and stayed behind. “You can take him back. He’s just slowing us down. I want to explore the mountains.”

Xu Jing struggled, “No! I also need to gather spiritual mushrooms for my mission. Let me come with you!”

Pei Jing responded, “Why do you want to follow me? You’re too inexperienced, and I won’t be able to protect you. Go back and stay with Senior Brother. It’s safer with everyone else.”

Before Xu Jing could say anything else, Pei Jing quickly put a piece of candy in his mouth, silencing him.

“Don’t waste time!”

Pei Jing finished speaking and turned around.


Xu Jing swallowed the candy, reached out his hand, and watched Pei Jing’s figure. His expression froze for a moment, and he decided to keep his words to himself.

The young man wore a light brown robe, holding a sword and bowing his head. Walking along the village path, with the sunrise, his slender figure seemed to carry the weight of the world, exuding an air of openness and elegance.

Pei Jing walked deeper into the mountains, where the mist still lingered, but it didn’t hinder his vision.

Following his memory, he arrived back at the marshy area.

The toad spirit was squatting on a lotus leaf, washing spiritual mushroom in a stone basin. While washing, it cried, feeling extremely unlucky. It had mustered up the courage to feed on humans for once, only to provoke a troublemaker. Being so small, it was now being forced to run around and do tasks.

It was truly inhumane.

Halfway through washing, it felt hungry and casually stuffed a piece of spiritual mushroom into its mouth. Thus, it spent the afternoon washing, but the spiritual mushrooms seemed to decrease the more it washed.

Pei Jing approached and raised an eyebrow upon seeing the toad spirit washing and eating simultaneously. He asked directly, “At this rate, what do you plan to give me in ten days?”

The toad spirit froze in the middle of eating, lifting its head in a dazed manner. Seeing Pei Jing, it instinctively tried to jump into the marshy area. However, reason prevailed, and despite its fear, it suppressed the urge. It swallowed the half-eaten spiritual mushroom and said, “W- wasn’t it supposed to be fifteen days? How come you’ve come today, Master?”

Pei Jing smiled at him, bright and clear. “After giving it some serious thought, I’ve realized that I should handle my own affairs. I’ll gather the spiritual mushrooms myself. You don’t have to trouble yourself anymore.”

The toad spirit stood there dumbfounded, its frog eyes almost moistened. Trying to imitate humans, it clasped its claws together as a gesture of gratitude.

However, Pei Jing stopped it. He thought the toad spirit was somewhat cute in its own ugly way and said, “But I’m unfamiliar with the Yunlan Mountain Range. I’ve been searching for a while and haven’t found any leads. Can you take me to the places you usually forage?”

The toad spirit just wanted to quickly get rid of this troublemaker. It nodded repeatedly, “Alright, alright, alright.”

Leading the way was a dark green and black toad, measuring one meter in height and width. It hopped along, while a handsome young man with a sword at his waist followed behind. As they walked, the young man glanced around, his pitch-black eyes lost in thought.

Following the toad spirit, Pei Jing asked, “Regarding that basket from last time, when did you discover those heads?”

The toad spirit recalled and replied, “It was about ten years ago. At that time, my intellect hadn’t fully developed yet. It was a rainy day, and just like usual, I was searching for something to eat. I tripped over something, and when I dug it out, it turned out to be the basket. It looked disgusting, but it tasted pretty good.”

Ten years ago.

Pei Jing calculated the time in his mind and asked, “You’ve been living in this mountain range since you were young. Have you ever seen a bride?”

The toad spirit asked, “What’s a bride?”

Pei Jing explained, “It’s a woman dressed in red clothes, sitting inside a red sedan chair.”

The toad spirit suddenly had an epiphany and added, “Are there also many people accompanying them, making a lot of noise?”

“Yes, have you seen them?”

“I’ve seen them numerous times. They made a huge racket when passing through the forest, waking me up every time. I used to hate them when I was young. But it seems they’ve disappeared in recent years, and I can sleep peacefully.”

“With all the commotion they caused passing through this forest, waking you up, didn’t you go to take a look?”

“Of course I looked. What’s there to see? It’s always the same. The one sitting in the sedan chair is supposed to be the bride? Wearing red clothes? No way. Several times I saw that the person in the sedan chair wasn’t wearing red clothes and wasn’t even human.”

Pei Jing’s eyes turned cold as he asked, “Not human?”

The toad spirit hopped around. It had been lonely living in the mountain range for so long, so chatting with someone felt quite good. “Yes, not human. Sometimes it’s just a corpse sitting in the sedan chair, other times it’s a ghost. The bride you mentioned in the red clothes was taken away long ago.”

“Taken away by someone?”

“Yes, by a man, probably someone from the village below the mountain. I saw him several times carrying a bag and an axe. Taking advantage of the thick fog. He took the bride away right in front of a group of people, while the rest of the fools kept making noise.”

Pei Jing fell silent.

The toad spirit was enthusiastic, “Do you have any more questions?”

Unbeknownst to them, it was already nighttime.

Pei Jing looked up at the moon. It was almost the fifteenth day, with a bright, yellowish round moon surrounded by a faint red glow, giving it an ominous appearance. He faintly sensed a clue, and the pieces of this puzzle were slowly coming together. The disappearance of the bride was actually a deliberate act. Now… he just needed to confirm one thing.

The toad spirit led him to its usual hunting ground.

It was quite remote, in a secluded area.

Without the toad spirit guiding him, Pei Jing might not have been able to find it. The mist turned into a miasma, revealing a swamp ahead. For the toad spirit, this place felt like home.

The swamp was blood-red, continuously bubbling, filled with venomous snakes and swarming locusts. Piles of bleached bones lay to one side.

Pei Jing used a purification technique on himself, creating a translucent white barrier that kept the filth away. He chose to close his eyes and not look at the entangled poisonous snakes in the swamp.

The toad spirit hopped around excitedly. Once it started talking, it couldn’t stop. It proudly said, “This place is amazing. I discovered it by accident. If it weren’t for my attachment to my birthplace, I would have moved here.”

The swamp was almost completely filled with venomous snakes, colorful and vibrant.

The toad spirit said, “It really is great. Coming here feels like going home.”

Pei Jing suppressed the churning feeling in his stomach and said, “…It’s quite good.”

Finally, they exited the swamp.

The miasma dispersed, the clouds cleared, and a forest distinctly different from the outside appeared before Pei Jing.

The entire forest exuded a heavy, blood-like aura. The soil was red, and the trees were twisted and grotesque, covered in dark green moss, emitting a putrid smell.

Stepping on the muddy ground caused it to sink, releasing red, blood-like water.

The toad spirit said, “It might be difficult for you to find those severed heads if it hasn’t rained in the past couple of days. I also spent a long time searching the other day and only found one, which was quite rare.” Little did it know it was robbed. It couldn’t help but feel disappointed once again.

Pei Jing pulled the corners of his mouth and said, “I came to collect spiritual mushrooms.”

“Ohh.” The toad spirit responded dazedly, then turned sideways and pointed with its claw, saying, “Then I led you to the wrong place. There are plenty of spiritual mushrooms here, but they’re hard to pick, and you’d better not pick them.”

Pei Jing chuckled, “We don’t have much time to change locations. Since we’re already here, we can’t return empty-handed.”

The toad spirit felt its scalp tingle from his laughter. Its flat head with two frog eyes stared blankly, turning around without knowing why. It usually came to this area to find food, but after bringing along this plague god today, it had a bad feeling about it. It was dangerous and needed to escape.

The toad spirit’s heart sank, and it said, “Suit yourself, I’m leaving. I brought you to the place, so you can pick it yourself. You said it yourself, don’t come looking for me in the future.”

Pei Jing simply smiled and nodded, “Hmm.”

This toad spirit was frightened by his words, perhaps never daring to have any crooked thoughts again in its lifetime.

Once the toad spirit left, the atmosphere in the entire forest changed. The path grew darker and concealed, like a gaping blood-filled mouth waiting for him to approach. Pei Jing entered the forest with his sword, attentively observing his every step.

The toad spirit mentioned there were plenty of spiritual mushrooms, and indeed, there were many. After taking a couple of steps, he discovered one hidden among the grass beneath a tree.

However, this spiritual mushroom was different from the rest—it looked exactly like the one Xu Jing had shown him that day.

Deep purple with black patterns covering it, from afar, it appeared as if a clump of flesh had miraculously grown out of the ground.

Pei Jing attempted to cut the spiritual mushroom’s base with his sword but found that the blade couldn’t make a dent.

He squatted on the ground, deep in thought. The Cloud Slayer Sword sliced through iron like mud, and this thing was indeed peculiar.

It couldn’t be shaved from the base, so he might as well dig out the entire thing, roots and all.

He inserted the sword into the soil, and with a sound, fresh blood seeped from the surface. Pei Jing sensed that the sword tip had encountered something hard. He used his spiritual power, secretly exerted force, and pried at the soil. Something beneath the soil stirred, causing the nearby earth to loosen. Pei Jing dug around the spiritual mushroom and then unearthed something white.

“What is this?” He brushed away the soil crumbs and discovered it was teeth.

Pei Jing felt a chill in his heart.

As the area around the spiritual mushroom was excavated, what was revealed made Pei Jing’s scalp tingle—it was a ʙᴀʙʏ ʙᴜʀɪᴇᴅ ᴀʟɪᴠᴇ in the soil!

ɪᴛ ʜᴀᴅɴ’ᴛ ᴄᴏᴍᴘʟᴇᴛᴇʟʏ ᴅᴇᴄᴏᴍᴘᴏꜱᴇᴅ ʏᴇᴛ. ɪᴛꜱ ᴡʀɪɴᴋʟᴇᴅ ꜱᴋɪɴ ᴡᴀꜱ ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ-ʀᴇᴅ, ɪᴛꜱ ᴇʏᴇꜱ ᴄᴏᴍᴘʟᴇᴛᴇʟʏ ᴡʜɪᴛᴇ. ɪᴛꜱ ᴍᴏᴜᴛʜ ᴡᴀꜱ ꜰᴏʀᴄᴇᴅ ᴏᴘᴇɴ, ʀᴇᴠᴇᴀʟɪɴɢ ᴀ ᴘᴀʟᴇ ʙʟᴜᴇ ᴛᴏɴɢᴜᴇ.

ᴛʜᴇ ꜱᴘɪʀɪᴛᴜᴀʟ ᴍᴜꜱʜʀᴏᴏᴍ ɢʀᴇᴡ ʀɪɢʜᴛ ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴛɪᴘ ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴀʙʏ’ꜱ ᴛᴏɴɢᴜᴇ. ᴛᴏ ᴏʙᴛᴀɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ꜱᴘɪʀɪᴛᴜᴀʟ ᴍᴜꜱʜʀᴏᴏᴍ, ʜᴇ ᴄᴏᴜʟᴅ ᴏɴʟʏ ᴄᴜᴛ ɪᴛ ᴏꜰꜰ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴀʙʏ’ꜱ ᴛᴇɴᴅᴇʀ ᴛᴏɴɢᴜᴇ.

“Raising spiritual mushroom on a baby. This kind of evil practice couldn’t have been conceived by an ordinary person.”

Pei Jing whispered, “Don’t let me find you.”

Just as he was about to stand up, he suddenly felt another hand from above, forcefully pressing him into the soil. The grinding sound of a woman’s gnashing teeth came from behind him. Pei Jing’s eyes grew cold, and he swung his sword horizontally, causing the ghostly creature to emit a piercing scream.

Pei Jing turned slowly and indeed, it was a female ghost, wearing a white shroud and with a pale, bluish complexion. Her hand had just been severed by Pei Jing, and now she writhed on the ground, shrieking.

“I just said not to let me find you, and now you’ve come knocking on the door yourself.”

Pei Jing no longer wished to conceal his cultivation level.

A powerful aura enveloped the area, and the ghostly creatures on the ground wailed and shrieked.

A single sword stroke swept away the light.

Upon releasing his cultivation, his figure gradually soared.

The youthful demeanor that carried a hint of innocence transformed into the sharpness of a handsome young man with refined brows and focused eyes.

The brown garment turned into a snow-white robe, the grass rope transformed into a jade crown. Dark strands of hair cascaded down, and his jet-black eyes shimmered with deep light.

Within the forest shrouded in mist and miasma, he stood alone, a symbol of elegance and purity. Like the moon atop a mountain, he dispersed the gloom.

The female ghost writhed in torment, her face contorted, struggling as if trying to break free from something.

Pei Jing smirked and chuckled, “If you reveal the person behind you, I will spare your life. How about that?”

The female ghost couldn’t bear it any longer. ꜱʜᴇ ʟᴇᴛ ᴏᴜᴛ ᴀɴ ᴇᴀʀ-ᴘɪᴇʀᴄɪɴɢ ꜱᴄʀᴇᴀᴍ, ᴀɴᴅ ʜᴇʀ ᴘᴀʟᴇ ꜰᴀᴄᴇ ᴅᴇᴛᴀᴄʜᴇᴅ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ʜᴇʀ ʜᴇᴀᴅ, ʟᴇᴀᴠɪɴɢ ʙᴇʜɪɴᴅ ᴀ ꜰᴇᴀᴛᴜʀᴇʟᴇꜱꜱ ᴍᴀꜱꜱ ᴏꜰ ꜰʟᴇꜱʜ.

The disembodied face floated in the air, twisted with resentment and malice, casting a glance at Pei Jing before slipping into the depths of the forest.

“You think you can escape?”

Pei Jing raised his sword and playfully followed her.

However, his steps soon came to a halt.

Because from all directions, things were approaching.

The ground trembled as hands, marred with decay, emerged from the earth.

The vegetation rustled as a swarm of snakes, dormant in the marsh, slithered forward, flicking their tongues.

Even the bizarre-shaped trees were adorned with various corpses—hanged, impaled by branches, their bodies swaying, their eyes gazing hauntingly at him.

“Do you think I’ll be afraid just because you’ve brought reinforcements?”

Pei Jing smiled with a hint of amusement. He had become famous from a young age, his sword prowess known far and wide. In his eyes, there was a touch of youthful recklessness and arrogance, exuding confidence.

Clad in a radiant snowy garment, he shone like starlight in the moonlit night.

With a single sweeping strike, the sword emitted a clear and melodious sound, similar to the cry of a phoenix.

All the bodies attempting to crawl out of the earth instantly stiffened, restrained by an invisible pressure that prevented them from emerging. The corpses hanging from the trees fell to the ground with a clatter, their eyeballs popping out.

The only ones unaffected were the swarm of venomous snakes that surged forward.

Pei Jing had always despised snakes the most in his life.

The mere thought of having to kill them with his own hands made his scalp tingle.

However, before he could suppress his disgust, he swung his sword once more.

The snakes slithering along the grass suddenly went mad, changing direction in unison and heading towards another location.

Pei Jing was taken aback.

Following the path the snakes climbed, he looked ahead and saw a figure slowly emerging from the miasma of the marsh.

The moonlight shone upon him, casting a layer of cold white light. The person was tall and wore a black brocade robe, draped with a black cloak that exuded a somber, night-like aura. With his head lowered, only the chin and pale lips were visible. A few strands of hair cascaded along the brim of the hat, silver-white like frost in the faint bloody glow of the forest.

His hands, pale and bloodless, held a staff.

The staff bent and bent again.

The venomous snakes, their eyes blazing crimson, convulsed and died halfway before even reaching him, their bodies contorted.

Pei Jing grew wary, unable to gauge the cultivation level of the black-clad individual before him.

The venomous snakes were all dead. The black-clad person entered the forest.

Discarding the staff and removing the cloak, strands of silver hair cascaded down, as if dyed by three thousand winds and snow. Through the eerie moonlight and mist of the forest, the black-clad figure cast an extremely cold and aloof gaze. Blood-red in color, only the pupils had a hint of blackness.

Without uttering a word, the secluded and melancholic aura emanating from him already unsettled Pei Jing.

In his memory, the cultivation world did not harbor such dangerous individuals.

Pei Jing instinctively tightened his grip on the Cloud Slayer Sword, and after a long moment of hesitation, he asked, “Who are you?”

The black-clad person’s gaze appeared indifferent, resting upon his brows and eyes, seemingly veiled by many things.

Pei Jing furrowed his brow and said, “Since the honorable friend does not wish to speak first, then allow me to speak.”

He raised his sword, clad in pristine white, exuding an aura akin to orchids.

“From Yunxiao, Pei Yuzhi.”

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