After Failing to Influence the Protagonist Chapter 52

Chapter 52 Yingzhou’s Elder

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She supported Wu Sheng as they left the village, traveling tirelessly until they finally reached a riverbank.

Yu Qinglian frowned and asked, “How do you feel?”

Wu Sheng’s face turned pale. He didn’t reply but found comfort in a grove by the river. He leaned against a tree, closed his eyes, and focused on circulating his inner energy. His life force was feeble, and Yu Qinglian couldn’t leave his side in this dangerous moment. She stood quietly behind him, ready to protect him from the lurking spirits.

Suddenly, the sky unleashed a torrential rain, pitch black like spilled ink, filled with malice and resentment.

The entire world became engulfed in a gloomy darkness.

Yu Qinglian furrowed her brow even more. She conjured a red umbrella with a wave of her hand, shielding Wu Sheng, creating a serene bubble amidst the chaos. The tinkling bells on the umbrella danced lightly with the wind, causing the monk’s eyelashes to flutter.

Soon, Wu Sheng clutched his chest and coughed up a mouthful of blood.

“How are you?” Yu Qinglian crouched down, concerned.

Wu Sheng slowly opened his eyes, meeting Yu Qinglian’s worried expression. He shook his head and said, “Shu Yan isn’t nearby, so its effect is weak. My relic protects me and disperses some of the evil energy. I should be fine.”

Yu Qinglian let out a breath of relief and replied, “Good.”

Wu Sheng gazed at her, his eyes a gentle golden hue filled with concern and pity. “Go back quickly. He’s been waiting for you for a long time.”

Yu Qinglian forced a smile and joked, “So, by taking off your eye veil, you’ve gained super sight?”

Wu Sheng chuckled, but his eyes held a tinge of sadness. “I remember now—the sound of bells. When you led me away, I heard bells ringing in the courtyard. You shouldn’t have bothered with me then. You should have saved him first.”

Yu Qinglian paused, raised her hand, and propped the umbrella on a tree branch. She opened it over Wu Sheng’s head. The light touched the girl’s face, revealing a complicated and cold expression. “It’s not so easy to make choices. I’m just glad it wasn’t Pei Yuzhi and you giving me that decision.”

Wu Sheng remained silent.

Yu Qinglian instructed, “Stay here and wait for me.”

The girl hurriedly left, her white ankles stepping through the muddy black soil. The rain was dark, the river green, and all colors appeared somber and cold. Only her fiery red dress and the shining golden bells stood out.

Making choices was never easy. Abandoning someone was just that—no excuses.

Little Chubby…

Yu Qinglian braved the rain, each droplet chilling her to the bone as it fell on her hair and clothes.

In a low voice, she muttered, “I’m truly sorry.”

Against the rain, she walked along the rushing river, unsure of how long she had been traveling until she returned to her original location. Suddenly, the ground trembled, and a horde of ghosts and demons surged forward. They were grotesque and misshapen, crawling, leaping, and jumping, their eyes ablaze with a crimson hue. Their crazed consciousness directed them towards a singular destination, completely disregarding her presence as they ran in her direction.

Yu Qinglian froze, gripping the whip in her hand, holding her breath, and avoiding any unnecessary movements.

Against the tide of the sea of corpses, her heart gradually tightened.

What has happened?

She had no sense of how much time had passed.

Finally, she arrived back at the house. The ghosts and demons had all emptied from this place, allowing her unobstructed passage to that courtyard.

Three large jars had been overturned, and a murky yellow liquid with a tinge of blood remained on the ground. She could clearly see the contents of the jars—a congealed mixture of human skin, hair, and decomposed bodies with grayish-white eyeballs floating in it, the corruption of evil left to fester like mud.

It was likely that the monsters inside the jars had already escaped, but the lingering chill and the scent of blood kept her rooted to the spot for a long while.

So, Ji Wuyou was in the same jar as these ghosts back then?

As she took a few more steps forward, Yu Qinglian’s toe bumped into something cold. She lowered her head and, in the rain-soaked ground, discovered a small, delicate bell buried shallowly.

Her body stiffened at that moment, her expression frozen.

What kind of emotions did that little chubby boy have when he shook the bell back then?

And what kind of emotions led him to lose it?

He must have cried, for sure.

Yu Qinglian slowly crouched down, extending her hand to pick it up. The golden bell landed in her palm, chilling her flesh.

She tightened her grip little by little, kissed it on her clenched fist, closed her eyes, and tears streamed down her face.

Suddenly, the heavens and earth overturned. A blinding and intense white light pierced through from a distant direction. In the illumination, everything in this world froze, transforming into dust and particles. Amidst the stillness of time, only specks of dust floated.

Yu Qinglian abruptly opened her eyes and stood up.

She only felt a powerful force pulling her out of this space.

…What was this?

Overnight, the Zhuangyuan Temple turned into ruins. Overnight, several government officials who were loyal to the country died a violent death in their homes.

The villagers woke up early in the morning only to see the temple they had been worshiping for a hundred years reduced to a pile of rubble. Instantly, they were filled with anger, nearly fainting on the spot. Rolling up their sleeves, wielding bamboo poles and sticks, they gathered at the village chief’s doorstep, their voices resounding through the air, demanding an explanation. The village women cursed vehemently, their local dialect echoing throughout the mountains.

The village chief’s house was situated deep within the woods, and it had never experienced such a commotion before.

People always tend to scare themselves.

“We’ve been saying that no outsiders should be allowed in! Look at the mess now!”

“If the Zhuangyuan Temple is gone and the God of Literature is angry, then disaster is upon us!”

“There’s no way we can carry on like this. We don’t know how many days we have left to live. I heard that my nephew, who went off to become an official, died last night! We’re doomed!”

Pei Jing didn’t really want to listen to their quarrels, and the village chief clearly had no intention of letting anyone in. He closed the door tightly, disappearing inside the house, burning paper money one by one, performing a worship ritual for someone unknown.

“Grandfather, grandfather.”

A young girl rushed down the stairs, as if she had just woken up from a dream, dressed in simple clothing.

Her clear eyes were filled with anxiety at that moment. She tightly held onto the village chief’s sleeve, her mouth pouting with a sense of injustice as she said, “Grandfather, I had such a long, long dream just now.”

The village chief lowered his head, glanced at her briefly, and calmly replied, “It was just a dream, don’t be afraid. Don’t hinder me here, go outside. I have something to discuss with someone else.”

A’ru scratched her head, trying to make sense of the chaotic dream that left her trembling with its eerie and terrifying atmosphere. However, when she opened her eyes and saw her loved ones, she felt a sense of reassurance. She obediently left the room.

Pei Jing watched the girl’s departing figure and remarked, “It’s probably for the best that she lost her memory.”

The village chief remained silent for a while before speaking, “This time, I owe you a great debt. You cured my granddaughter’s illness and saved the entire village.”

Pei Jing stood there, still able to hear the voices of people cursing outside. It struck him as somewhat amusing. He turned his head slightly and said, “Well, vanquishing demons and monsters is our duty, after all.”

The young man had a simple appearance, wearing a brown coarse cloth and his hair tied with a grass rope.

But with a seemingly effortless smile, the light from the window fell on the corners of his eyes and mouth, resembling a sword suspended between heaven and earth, its edge exuding a gentle warmth.

The village chief gazed at him for a long moment and asked, “How are your friends doing?”

Upon hearing this question, a fleeting smile froze on Pei Jing’s lips. Ji Wuyou being unconscious was one thing, but even Chu Junyu, after emerging from that place, seemed unwell. As soon as they stepped out of the Zhuangyuan Temple, Chu Junyu’s face turned pale, and he collapsed onto Pei Jing. Fortunately, Chu Junyu still had the appearance of a youth at that time, allowing Pei Jing to support him out.

“They sustained some injuries, but they should be fine.”

The village chief nodded. “You’ve all been through a lot this time.”

“What are your plans from here?”

The village chief spoke in a solemn tone, “They chose me as their leader, so it’s my duty to lead them to a new path. Is there any need for the God of Literature? The malevolent energy in this place is too strong. It’s time to start anew in a different location.”

Pei Jing tilted his head and smiled, “That works too.”

He went out and searched for A’ru.

After A’ru regained consciousness, she couldn’t help but feel an inexplicable fondness for him.

Pei Jing crouched down slightly and asked, “In the dream, do you remember what happened at the very beginning?”

A’ru looked at her handsome brother, holding a container of water. She tentatively tried to recall, her innocent eyes filled with confusion and a hint of haze.

“I woke up in the middle of the night feeling uneasy, so I went to find you, and then I saw… I saw some strange people. They carried you into a coffin, and there were hands coming out from under the ground. I was terrified and moved back, making a noise that caught the attention of the people in the temple.” Her fingers clenched tightly on her clothes. “Their faces were hollowed out, and they walked towards me. I thought I was going to die, but the God of Literature intervened and saved me.”

The God of Literature intervened and saved me.

He didn’t save you. He used you.

Yu Qinglian actually came out and personally took care of Ji Wuyou, which surprised Pei Jing. After closing the door and stepping out of the room, Yu Qinglian’s expression became somewhat complicated and uneasy. She confessed everything that had happened in Zhonglian Village to Pei Jing, and in the end, she hesitated and said, “I think I might have left a psychological scar on the chubby boy. Your special treatment of him probably stems from the intention to take him as your disciple. When we return to Yunxiao, we might need to provide him with some guidance.”

Pei Jing tugged at the corner of his mouth and said, “You caused the trouble yourself, and now you’re trying to shift the blame onto me? That’s inhuman.”

He understood why Ji Wuyou seemed so dazed when he saw him in front of the jar. He was probably scared out of his wits or questioning his existence after being abandoned.

Yu Qinglian’s anxiety subsided after seeing Ji Wuyou unharmed upon emerging from the underworld. She rolled her eyes at Pei Jing’s words. “You act as if you’re a saint. Remember all the mischief you caused when we were outside? Didn’t you readily use our names?”

It seemed like there was some truth to it. Pei Jing asked, “…How should I approach him then?”

Yu Qinglian’s expression turned serious. “Ji Wuyou has undergone significant changes in his personality. I want to warn you in advance.”

Worried that Pei Jing might overlook it, she earnestly continued, “It may not seem like a big deal to you, but for him, it’s different—Ji Wuyou is sensitive and insecure. He’s likely been bullied since childhood. After I saved him once, he was so moved that he cried. So, completely abandoning him like this could push him into another state of confusion.”

At this point, Yu Qinglian frowned. “I still don’t understand why you took an interest in this chubby boy. Do you appreciate his innocent nature?”

Pei Jing didn’t bother concealing anything from his close friend and replied, “I see unique potential in him. He will become a formidable person in the future. Trust me.”

Yu Qinglian: “I don’t know about his potential. But I don’t believe in your ability to be a mentor.”

Pei Jing: “Why not?”

Yu Qinglian: “Pei Yuzhi, I’m being serious now. You and Ji Wuyou are worlds apart, with completely different personalities. Small things that you never paid attention to could have a lasting impact on his life. I’m afraid you’re digging a hole for yourself.”

Pei Jing fell silent for a moment and replied, “You’re making it sound like I’m raising a child.”

Yu Qinglian: “Ji Wuyou hasn’t formed any concepts yet, so what’s the difference between you and raising a child? Do you find it troublesome?”

Pei Jing nodded hesitantly, “Yes…”

Yu Qinglian: “If you find it troublesome, then fine, find another disciple or don’t take him on.”

Pei Jing: “……”

Among the five of them, Yu Qinglian was the most astute. After clarifying the situation with Ji Wuyou, they returned to the main topic of Shu Yan. Yu Qinglian, as the future master of Yingzhou, personally took action, indicating the seriousness of the matter in Yingzhou.

“Do you remember the turmoil in Yingzhou when my mother went into seclusion, and several elders had absolute power and imprisoned me?” Yu Qinglian asked.

Pei Jing: “Why are you bringing that up all of a sudden?”

Yu Qinglian: “I’ve been investigating how those demonic cultivators infiltrated Yingzhou, even among the elders. I’ve been gathering clues for years, and a few months ago, we had a breakthrough when one of the elders who was killed by Shu Yan revealed a faint trail. My attendant discovered some leads from her activities.”

Yu Qinglian said, her eyes turning cold, “That elder… had been in contact with the people from Tianyan City all along.”

Pei Jing was taken aback.

Tianyan City.

Yu Qinglian added, “Just as I was about to confront her and went to find her, I pushed open the door only to find her lifeless body, with a message from Shu Yan beside her.”

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