After Failing to Influence the Protagonist Chapter 45

Chapter 45 Zhao Youqing

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Pei Jing walked towards the lively center of the village, but the more he walked, the more he felt something was wrong. It had been four hundred years, and the small village he remembered had grown beyond his expectations. When he entered Zhonglian Village, he followed a slightly sloping path. The ground beneath his feet felt strange, making cracking sounds. The old trees nearby were twisted, their withered leaves frozen on the branches, refusing to fall.

As he walked further, his view improved a bit.

He saw neatly arranged tombstones on the side of the road, within the dark forest.

He stopped and looked back, not surprisingly finding the spot he had stepped on. The thin layer of soil had revealed a pile of white human bones.

The road into the village was made from stacked dead bodies.

Pei Jing had seen a bustling village center from afar, but once he stepped inside the village, everything vanished.

The lighting was poor, and the nearby houses looked like dark, dormant beasts.

Pei Jing didn’t want to start a fire, afraid it might disturb some ghosts or demons hiding in the dark. It was better to be careful when arriving in a new place. This village was busy like a small town, with houses gathered together on both sides, leaving a street in the middle.

He was walking on that street now.

The street had many paper cutouts and lanterns. The paper cutouts were shaped like little people, with red mouths drawn on them, which looked creepy. The lanterns were white, with a bit of red marks on them, like blood.

Pei Jing paid close attention and confirmed that it was human blood, probably about five or six days old.

Pei Jing: Are there still living people in this village of the dead?

Before he could finish wondering, he heard the sound of drums and gongs behind him. A trail of blue and red smoke drifted towards him.

The empty street suddenly became filled with a wedding procession?

Pei Jing looked around and quickly climbed onto a rooftop. He crouched behind a chimney and looked down at them.

As it turned out, it wasn’t a wedding procession but a funeral procession.

Amidst the red smoke and blue mist, the drums and gongs echoed loudly. From the end of the street, a slowly approaching coffin came into view. The coffin was being dragged along. At first, Pei Jing thought it was a dog pulling the coffin, but as it got closer, he realized it was a person. The person crawled on the ground, supporting their body, with a rope tightly wrapped around their neck, connected to the coffin.

Beside the coffin, a group of people dressed in all white held the drums and gongs. They were thin, with pale gray skin, and had blank expressions as they walked forward. From the coffin, there were occasional sounds of nails scratching and faint cries of despair, sharp and filled with hopelessness.

Pei Jing: This is strange, why are they all living dead?

The so-called living dead were actually still alive, just missing their seven souls and six spirits.

As the procession of pallbearers stumbled past him, Pei Jing held his breath and finally spotted the only normal dead person he had seen in this village.

It was a young man dressed in a black robe, holding a whip and standing on the back of a living dead person. His expression was fierce and menacing. To determine whether he was a human or a ghost, Pei Jing looked at the lanterns. The three soul lamps on the young man’s head and shoulders were extinguished, and he couldn’t tell how long he had been dead.

The living dead person beneath his feet crawled on all fours, leaving a trail of blood along the street.

The leading living dead person in front of the coffin was scattering white paper and hanging white lanterns, illuminating the street with flickering green lights.

Pei Jing finally understood how the papers and blood on the ground came about. There were living people inside the coffin, while the dead were carrying the coffin. It was truly a reversal of life and death. He didn’t know who was inside the coffin, but Yu Qinglian and Wu Sheng would certainly not end up like this. If no one else had entered, the only possibility inside must be Ji Wuyou.

Was it Ji Wuyou?

Pei Jing tried to probe with his divine consciousness, but he couldn’t penetrate.

Just as he released his divine consciousness, the tiles beneath his feet suddenly shifted, causing him to slide down. He grabbed onto the nearby chimney, and a blood-red creature with a baby-like appearance emerged from the chimney. It had three rows of densely packed teeth, nearly biting off his hand.

He tugged at the corners of his mouth, reaching out to push the creature back into the chimney, scolding it, “Stay put, you troublemaker.”

However, the commotion disturbed the pallbearers below, and the first to react was the young dead man. He lashed his whip heavily, shattering the silence of the night. Even though their souls were snatched away, one could still perceive the fear in the person beneath his feet.

The young man’s cold and icy gaze lifted upward. But there was no one on the roof. He sniffed the air briefly, then resumed his indifferent expression. With a step forward, he commanded, “Move.”

Pei Jing wasn’t afraid of these little ghosts. After all, there was a living person inside the coffin, and it wasn’t his style to leave them to die without intervening.

He intended to confront them directly, but he was abruptly dragged down from the rooftop. Once pulled down, he was immediately dragged to a dark corner behind the door.

The person who pulled him was shorter than him, with slender fingers and the faint odor of decay that often accompanied the dead. However, it was masked by a special fragrance, creating an inexplicably pleasant smell.

Pei Jing paused for a moment before speaking directly, “Miss, who are you?”

The girl answered him in a low voice, warning, “Shh.”

Alright then. Pei Jing remained quiet for a while, waiting for the outside noise to completely disappear, before immediately asking, “Can we go out now?”

The girl sneered and said, “You’re too naive. Look at the wall.”

So Pei Jing looked at the wall. And he came face to face with the head of that young dead man.

The wall was about three to four meters high, and the young man stretched his neck, peering in with his head twisted at a 365-degree angle. After scanning around to ensure no one was there, he retracted his head. Pei Jing patiently waited, and sure enough, within less than three seconds of retracting, that head popped back out from the top of the wall in a particularly menacing manner, mouth gaping open and tongue elongated. When the dead man realized there was still no movement below, he reluctantly withdrew his head and gave the command, “Let’s go. It’s boring.”

The sound of drumming, gongs, and scattering white paper resounded once again, rushing towards the other end of the street.

After a while, the young girl spoke, “They should be gone now. We can go out.”

Pei Jing: “Impressive how they use diversionary tactics and double back. Are the ghosts in your village all so clever?”

The young girl fell silent for a moment before countering, “Diversionary tactics aren’t used that way.”

Then she added, “I’m not from this village.”

Pei Jing smiled at her.

As the first light of day began to appear, the young girl emerged from behind the door. In life, she appeared to be around fifteen or sixteen years old, dressed in a green chiffon dress, with almond-shaped eyes, rosy lips, and flowing black hair. Despite her pale skin in death, it did not diminish her elegance. One could tell she came from a well-to-do family.

Pei Jing: “If you’re not from this village, how did you end up here?”

The young girl: “You’re more suspicious than I am.”

Pei Jing chuckled, “Well, let me go first. My name is Zhang Yiming. I’m a living person who came here looking for someone.”

The young girl was taken aback, probably not expecting him to reveal his identity so readily. She retorted, somewhat annoyed, “I’m Zhao Youqing. I died here, so there’s not much to ask about.” She advised him, “As a living person in a place like this, you should be cautious about revealing your name. Names, you see, always hold a certain significance to people.”

“Alright, thank you, Sister Youqing,” Pei Jing replied gratefully.

Pei Jing was completely puzzled about Zhonglian Village’s affairs, but having someone to guide him was certainly helpful, especially someone with a sweet tongue.

Zhao Youqing: “…Aren’t you afraid that I might be an evil ghost, plotting to harm you?”

Pei Jing’s eyes curved as he smiled. With his youthful appearance, he was genuinely adorable in whatever he did. “I trust you. You’re so beautiful. You couldn’t possibly be an evil ghost.”

Zhao Youqing: “I feel like you’re just humoring me.”

Pei Jing changed the subject. “That’s not true. If you wanted to harm me, you wouldn’t have saved me just now.”

Zhao Youqing shook her head and pulled out a wire from her sleeve. She approached the door of the room and picked the lock with the wire. “The owner of this house will be back soon. Let’s get out first.”

Pei Jing followed her lead.

Once outside, they found themselves on the same street. Zhao Youqing had lived here for a long time and was familiar with every place. She led Pei Jing through various twists and turns, taking him out of the village and up a tall mountain. The grass and trees on the mountain were black and decaying. Zhao Youqing brought him to her dwelling place, which turned out to be a cave. The cave was warmly decorated.

She lit a candle, casting a deep and intense hue over the whole world. The candle’s faint yellow glow illuminated the surroundings.

Pei Jing looked around, left and right. “This is your home. What does it mean for you to bring me here? We, as humans and ghosts, have different paths. You should think it through carefully.”

“Don’t worry, I’m not interested in illiterates.” 

Pei Jing chuckled.

Zhao Youqing: “You must be a cultivator. I’ve never seen anyone confidently stroll in here before. I hope you can come and go safely.”

Pei Jing got straight to the point, “I do want to leave safely, but the precondition is being able to get out.”

Zhao Youqing raised an eyebrow, “If you don’t know how to get out, then why did you come in?”

Pei Jing lazily smiled, “I already told you, I came to find my friend.”

Zhao Youqing’s mind was astute, “Did your friend call you to come down here?”

Pei Jing replied, “Yes.”

Zhao Youqing said nonchalantly, “To bring you to this place, your friend doesn’t seem like a good person.”

Pei Jing shook his head, “He won’t harm me.”

Zhao Youqing looked at him as if he were a fool who had been deceived without knowing it, her smile a mixture of mockery and insincerity. “Are you sure about that?”

Pei Jing revealed a bright smile, displaying his white teeth. “Of course, I’m sure. Because he likes me.”

Zhao Youqing: “……”

Under the lamplight, her eyes had a faint grayish-white hue, and her emotions inside were peculiar. After a moment, she sighed, “Love, it really causes great harm with just one word.” She paused and continued, “She likes you so much that she has made you this way. Who actually likes whom, you fool?”

Pei Jing: “……”

Zhao Youqing: “Is your friend a cultivator like you?”

Pei Jing nodded.

Zhao Youqing paused, her slender fingers tracing a bit of black soil from the nearby cave wall. By the candlelight, she slowly drew on the stone table while explaining, “Every ten days or so, some living people are brought into Zhonglian Village. There are two possible outcomes for these people: either they are directly drained of their souls to become slaves, or they are kept in jars.”


“Every household has jars to keep them in. After a few years of cultivation, they are taken out and consumed as food. Ghosts, you see, always have some strange preferences.”

Zhao Youqing had become numb to such things.

In this dark and sinister place filled with malevolent spirits, Pei Jing thought it was quite remarkable for her to maintain her sanity until now.

Pei Jing: “So, is my friend being kept in a jar?”

Zhao Youqing: “Cultivators have unique constitutions, I suppose. The jars in this village are extremely sinister. I’ve never come across a single jar myself. If you’re going to find your friend, you need to be cautious.”

Pei Jing found her quite peculiar. “You must rarely venture out of your house while you’re here.”

Zhao Youqing: “……”

Pei Jing shared his thoughts, “I read in ancient books that Zhonglian Village was destroyed by a landslide. Since you claim not to be from this village and don’t seem like one of the living people brought in later, I guess you were already in this forest at the time and perished along with them due to the landslide.” He drew a conclusion, “That’s really unlucky.”

Zhao Youqing: “……” 

Pei Jing felt a bit sorry for her. “Would you like to come with me outside?”

Zhao Youqing replied in a low-spirited tone, “What’s the point of going outside? We’re already dead. Let’s just treat this place as the underworld and live our lives as best we can.”

Pei Jing: “I have a friend who can help you transcend and be reincarnated.”

Zhao Youqing lowered her head, her brows and eyes cast in the shadows of the lamplight, and she bitterly smiled. “No, thank you. I still have attachments that need to be resolved. I can’t enter the cycle of reincarnation just yet.”

Pei Jing obediently fell silent.

Zhao Youqing: “Go find your friend after tonight. Every three years at this time, all the people in Zhonglian Village gather together. If you’re discovered, the consequences would be unimaginable.”

Pei Jing: “What are they doing?”

Zhao Youqing sarcastically smiled. “They’re inheriting, inheriting life and death. During this time every three years, a connection is established between the human world and here. Living people come in, and the dead go out—to continue wreaking havoc in the human realm. Occasionally, new living people are thrown in as slaves and food.

“What you witnessed just now was another person being thrown in. This place is the realm of the dead, yet the coffins serve as a passage between the living and the dead. This village lies beneath the ground, while the surface claims to be the heavens, but it’s merely earth. When living people are buried in coffins and brought here, there are people to carry the coffins. It has been like this for four hundred years.”

Pei Jing finally understood why the scholars from Zhuangyuan Village who passed the imperial examinations had no further association with the village. They were humans when they entered the temple, but upon leaving, they became fierce ghosts. Even when they became officials in the imperial court, they remained malignant tumors in society.

Zhao Youqing calmly stated, “Here, ghosts are more respected than humans. It’s ironic that the village is named Zhonglian, which means loyalty and integrity, but it has bred a group of individuals who have lost all sense of morality. Those living dead you saw are treated like livestock here. They are beaten and abused at will, and when hungry, they can even be eaten raw.”

Pei Jing sighed, “This world is truly upside down.”

Zhao Youqing: “With more people, Zhonglian Village has changed, expanded in size. There are villages in every direction—north, south, east, and west. This place is the West Village. If you want to find your friend, it won’t be easy.”

Pei Jing laugh.

If Chu Junyu was truly trapped in a jar, then the only jar in Zhonglian Village capable of imprisoning him would be the origin of all these sins.

Pei Jing: “It’s not difficult to find. Sister Youqing, do you happen to know if there’s a Zhang family in Zhonglian Village?”


The candle here emitted a cold flame, and the red wax tears dripped onto her arm.

Zhao Youqing’s expression was inscrutable as she slowly felt her hand and said, “Zhang family? They reside on the southern mountain, but I advise against going there. It’s taboo.”

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1 thought on “After Failing to Influence the Protagonist Chapter 45”

  1. The village population increase over time…does that mean the people who die from the surface don’t reincarnate but is trapped there?


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