Saturday, 16 January 2016

Chapter 90 - Death Marsh


The sky was overcast, giving an impression that it was hovering very low, gusts of chilling winds out of nowhere blew, causing a chill through the bodies it brushed past.

Within the stretch of overgrown grass beside the marsh, there was an obscured small path in the middle, leading into the marsh.

Zeng ShuShu and the rest of the Qing Yun Sect disciples stood at the entrance of the death marsh and peered in but they saw only vast expanse of lands, water and lush grass flourished everywhere and occasionally, a solitary tree stood erect in the midst. The air carried a faint stench of rotting smell and above the marsh, like a grey veil-like haze floated, allowing people to view only the areas around them, making it all the more mysterious.

Zeng ShuShu frowned and turned over, Qing Yun Sect with Xiao YiCai as the lead for the thirteen younger generation disciples, all had solemn expressions on their faces.

Since ancient times, the death marsh was ominously known as ‘Once entered, difficult to leave’, nobody knew what kind of ferocious animals or matters were in it. This time that Qing Yun group came to the West, Xiao YiCai with his status and skills, implicitly was the leader of the group. Right now he looked deep into the death marsh for a long time, without any change of expression, he said to the group, “Yesterday FenXiang Valley Li Xun senior brother sent me a message, he politely said that he is with Qing Yun Sect, to eradicate the evildoers, so they have made a move first and already entered into the death marsh.”

A stir of movement passed through the group of people behind him, only Lu XueQi remained expressionless, standing beside her senior sister WenMin and facing the death marsh, silently staring. And at the other side, Lin JingYu who was travelling out for the first time, coldly humphed.  

Xiao YiCai indifferently said, “Actually what FenXiang Valley meant, everyone should know it very well, if this time they get their hands first on that nameless rare treasure, their fame and influence will naturally be boosted greatly and regarding the future Good Faction leader position, I’m afraid someone will want to take a turn to sit on it.” Speaking till here, he paused for a while and a trace of smile appeared on his lips, he said, “But everyone do not have to worry, I presumed that even with the early unusual signs but until today no one has manage to obtain that rare treasure, this shows that the process is complicated and fraught with difficulties. They are impatient for success, let them go first, just that after we have entered the death marsh, everyone must be cautious. This death marsh’s bad reputation is well-known, perilous and unpredictable and there might even be Evil Faction sorcerers around. Once we entered, everyone must look after each other, bear in mind, bear in mind”

Zeng ShuShu said, “Xiao senior brother is right, it is getting late, why don’t we enter too.”

Xiao YiCai nodded and said, “Might as well. After entering, it is not advisable to wander far from each other, and do not land unnecessarily to prevent being bitten by the poisonous bugs or accidentally falling into the bottomless marsh.”

Everyone nodded, Xiao YiCai waved his right hand and wielded his ‘Seven-star celestial sword’, flew up and led the way in, after which Qing Yun Sect disciples also flew up, turning into different dazzling colours, following closely behind.

In a short while, this group of Qing Yun Sect elite and young disappeared into the death marsh haze, the entrance to the death marsh suddenly sunk into a vast still silence, only within the water plants, an unknown water bubble floated up, the gurgle sound resounded far and wide.

[Pa], Zhou YiXian’s heavy slap landed on the right side of his own neck, immediately his neck reddened but the mosquito that bit him had already [weng weng weng] flew away and seemed to fly one round proudly in front of him and only then flew away perfectly contented.

Zhou YiXian’s expression was suffering, at any time, small bumps from the bugs’ bites could be seen on his face although it was not serious but he appeared a sorry figure. At this moment he was complaining loudly, “What god-damned place is this, why are there so many damned mosquitoes? This, this is only a day, and half of my blood have already been sucked!”

Xiao Huan who was walking in front turned, looking worried she said, “Grandfather, are you alright?”

Zhou YiXian angrily replied, “Nonsense, do I look alright?”

Xiao Huan frowned and said, “Strange, these mosquitoes are really too, why did they only bite you, PingEr sister and I are all alright.”

Standing beside Xiao Huan that girl who was dressed in light-yellow clothing also stopped and turned back to look. She brought Xiao Huan and Zhou YiXian into this death marsh, Zhou YiXian was careful but more than often he still landed in mud or water and yet she seemed to go with the flow and not a single dirt landed on her.

Zhou YiXian felt frustrated, he happened to see a small tree near him and immediately went over carefully to try and as the ground below the tree was still considered firm, he sat down promptly and said loudly, “I’m tired, rest a while.”

Xiao Huan with an apologetic expression, looked at that dressed in light-yellow clothing beautiful girl, the girl who was addressed by her as PingEr sister laughed and said, “It’s alright, let’s rest a while.”

Xiao Huan looked at her gratefully and looked around at the surroundings but the place was boundless and slightly further away was the gradually thickening haze, looking foggy. Throughout the journey so far, if not for this PingEr sister leading the way, she really would not be able to walk in.

Right now she could not help but asked, “Sister, is it that grandfather and me are a burden to you, if you fly, wouldn’t it be faster?”

That girl smiled sweetly and said, “No worries, I am actually not rushing for time in this death marsh.”

Xiao Huan was surprised and said, “Sister, aren’t you sent here by your HeHuan Sect to obtain the rare treasure in this death marsh?”

So this delicate and beautiful girl dressed in light-yellow clothing was the Jin PingEr named together with Ghost Li and Qin WuYan. Nobody knew how Xiao Huan and Zhou YiXian came to know this famous highly skilled ace from the younger generation of the Evil Faction.

But Jin PingEr obviously extremely favoured Xiao Huan and doted on her, she smiled at what she had heard and said, “Yes since this time so many people have come, let’s take it slow, no hurry.”

Xiao Huan felt strange but after thinking it carefully, she guessed it must be some secret within her HeHuan Sect and felt she should not probed further so she changed the topic and said, “Sister, we have been in this death marsh for one day already, on our way in, I saw that you are extremely familiar with the place, don’t tell me you already know the way?”

Jin PingEr shook her head and said, “I have never been here.”

Xiao Huan was shocked.

Jin PingEr looked at her and saw that Xiao Huan’s pair of bright eyes were full of curiosity, she smiled in spite of herself and said, “Have you heard of an ancient book’s remnants that recorded the world’s various strange and unusual matters, rare and strange beasts……”

Xiao Huan thought for a while and said, “Don’t tell me it’s [Divine and Evil  The strange]?”

Jin PingEr nodded and said, “Correct, this book was written by an extraordinary ancient person, it was said to have nine pages but many have since been lost. Other than [Demon beast. Spiritual beast chapter], [Goblins chapter] and also one remnant chapter [Mountains and rivers chapter]  I  got hold of it by accident, at the end of the chapter, there were some records of this death marsh.”

Xiao Huan then understood but before she give a reply, a loud and clear shout was heard from Zhou YiXian again, following which Zhou YiXian was heard cursing loudly, most likely he was bitten again by some unknown mosquitoes and had his blood sucked.

Xiao Huan after all was still his granddaughter, in her heart she was concerned and came to realize that although there were many mosquitoes along the way but not one touched her or Jin PingEr and yet only bit Zhou YiXian, surely there was something strange going on and since she naturally did not have this ability then it must be Jin PingEr.

Immediately she turned her head and looked at Jin PingEr, Jin PingEr laughed and acted as if nothing had happened, she asked, “Sister, what is it?”

Xiao Huan gave a wry smile and said, “Sister, my grandfather he…...this, I know you have great skills, why don’t you help him!”

Jin PingEr looked at Zhou YiXian, disdain in her eyes but turning around and meeting Xiao Huan’s earnest gaze, she shrugged her shoulders and said, “Alright for your sake, let him have it easy.”

Speaking she took out a small white jade bottle from her bosom and passed it to Xiao Huan, she said, “There are some medicated liquid in this bottle, tell him to spread it on his body and the mosquitoes will naturally avoid him. “

Xiao Huan happily took it over, her face full of smiles and said, “Thank you sister.” She quickly walked to Zhou YiXian and passed him the bottle. Zhou YiXian was taken aback for a while and suddenly jumped up, he yelled angrily, “You have this good stuff and yet you did not……”

Jin PingEr’s face hardened and stared over, Zhou YiXian immediately became silent and looked as if he had done something wrong, lowered his head and took the bottle. He poured out some liquid and spread it on his body, after a moment he smelled a delicate fragrance and sure enough, immediately the buzzing sounds of the mosquitoes were gone and his body started to relax.

Xiao Huan slowly walked over and passed the bottle back to Jin PingEr, after hesitating for a while she quietly said, “Sister, do you still nurse a grudge against the mistake made by grandfather at that time?”

“Hng!” Jin PingEr’s face turned slightly cold and she said, “Three years ago at East Ocean because of some nonsensical words he said, it caused me to be lost beyond redemption in a deathtrap. If not for the fact that you, sister, discovered it early and gave up one year of your life to perform the ‘Soul retrieval strange formation’ to get rid of the evil spirits on my body, right now my fate would have been worse than death. This type of ignorant person, if not for……”

Xiao Huan gently pulled Jin PingEr’s hand and quietly called out, ‘Sister.’

Jin PingEr looked at her, sighed slightly and a smile appeared on her face, her eyes too, full of tender affection, patted her hand and said, “Alright, alright, with such a good sister like you, I have already let go of the past matters long ago, just that sometimes when I look at this grandfather of yours, it is still an eyesore and can’t help but want him to suffer a little. He he, good sister, you won’t blame me right?”

Xiao Huan smiled and shook her head.

Jin PingEr smiled but suddenly her face turned cold, she abruptly turned around and shouted, “Who is there?”

Both Xiao Huan and Zhou YiXian got a shock and looked around but only saw thick haze surrounding them, luxuriant vegetation and water bodies and other than the occasional water bubbles arising out from the water surface, there was not a single movement.

But without knowing why, Jin PingEr’s usual relaxed face right now had suddenly turned solemn, cautious, totally different from the gentle and quiet self when she was chatting and laughing with Xiao Huan. Calm with traces of murderous intent, she seemed to change into another person and the other party seemed to be a formidable enemy with which she could not let her guard down.

After a moment, somewhere far off in the thick haze, suddenly a voice was heard indifferently saying, “Jin Fairy, we have agreed to meet at the ‘Black Water Trench’ yesterday to discuss the important matters, why did you not come?”

Jin PingEr by now seemed to already know who the person was, her expression relaxed slightly but the alertness in her eyes had never once subsided, the tone of her voice was not polite at all, she coldly said, “I do not know the way.”

The person in the haze seemed to hold back and for a while nobody spoke, after a long while the person then said, “What? Looks like from what Jin Fairy is saying, don’t tell me regarding the matter here, HeHuan Sect has lost interest?”

Jin PingEr humphed, facing the other party she said, “Three days before, four of our HeHuan Sect disciples were killed six miles northwest from Big Wang Village, they were poisoned with ‘Black Toad Powder’, was it done by you?”

The person in the haze seemed to be stunned and said, “No.”

Jin PingEr coldly said, “Only Wan Du Sect have Black Toad Powder, how do you explain this?”

That person in the haze did not speak and remained silent for a long while. The person coolly replied, “Jin Fairy, if I were the one who did it, I don’t even need to use poison.”

Jin PingEr humphed again but did not retort, showing no objection on on this point.

That person said again, “But since it concern both of our sects and it also involve me, after this matter is settled, I will naturally give you an explanation, what do you think? This time this trip to the West, there are many strange things and I’m afraid there is something fishy about it, hope that Fairy you will consider it carefully and place the important matter as priority.”

Jin PingEr frowned slightly and hesitated for a short while, she turned over and spoke to Xiao Huan, “Xiao Huan sister, you and your grandfather will take a rest here for a while,  I go up ahead to discuss some matters with others and will be back before dark.” Pausing for a while, she lowered her voice and spoke, “The thing that I have given you, do you still have it?”

Xiao Huan nodded and patted her left hand.

Jin PingEr smiled and pulled her hand, she softly said, “There is danger everywhere in this death marsh, I will be somewhere near ahead, if you are in any trouble, I will come in an instant. Just that you must never wander off, especially far from here.”

Xiao Huan nodded and said, “Sister please don’t worry, I know.”

Jin PingEr smiled and let go of her hand and said, “Please be careful and call me if you need anything.”

After speaking, she looked around at the surroundings again and suddenly leapt up, a purple brilliance light appeared below her clothes, supporting her slender figure and flew ahead into the haze.

Xiao Huan looked at Jin PingEr’s figure disappearing into the haze and turned around, she walked over to Zhou YiXian who was now leaning against that small tree. Since he was relieved of the mosquitoes’ harassment, he was immediately freed up but his mouth was still complaining, “If I had known this place is going to be like this, even if you kill me I also will not come.”

Xiao Huan laughed and said, “Nobody force you to come and it was you who wanted to follow along.”

Zhou YiXian humphed and then facing Xiao Huan, he said, “I say, you better stay far away from that woman, did you not hear the rumours going around these few years saying that she killed numerous people and at the same time extremely dissolute, seducing countless of respectable young men……”

Xiao Huan [Pei] a sound, irritation appearing on her face, she said, “Grandfather, how can you say it like that!”

Zhou YiXian stuck out his tongue but did not carry on.

And so the two of them waited there, the gloomy sky gradually darken but Jin PingEr had not returned. Xiao Huan began to feel worried and wanted to go take a look but considering Jin PingEr’s instructions, in addition she herself did not have any confidence so eventually she dared not leave.

After waiting for another while, Xiao Huan could not help but felt anxious, she looked up at the sky and saw that the dark clouds had increased and from the look of it, not only it was getting dark, it seemed like it was going to rain too.

Xiao Huan exclaimed softly, she recalled that because she came out in a hurry, although she remembered to bring everything but she forgotten to bring the rain gear. If it rained at this time, it would be terrible. She quickly turned and asked Zhou YiXian, “Grandfather, did you bring umbrella?”

Zhou YiXian stunned for a moment, said, “Umbrella?” After a while he immediately comprehended and raised his head to look at the sky, for a moment he was speechless and stuttered, “I, I thought you brought it.”

Xiao Huan anxiously said, “Ah! This is bad, if it rains, what shall we do?”

Zhou YiXian raised his head and looked around, there was only this small tree all around them, the rest were all ponds and vegetation and not a single place for them to hide from the rain, he lamented, “We are done this time, why don’t we find a place to avoid the rain?”

Xiao Huan shook her head immediately, “Can’t, PingEr sister has said already, we cannot wander off if not there will be danger.”

Zhou YiXian rudely replied, “Can’t leave? If we stay and wait for the rain, I’m afraid we will only have the danger of getting tuberculosis!”

Xiao Huan right now was also frowning tightly and fretting when suddenly a light sound was heard up ahead, it was a footstep sound. Xiao Huan was relieved and almost said “PingEr sister” but suddenly shut her mouth. A figure was seen walking quickly out of the haze and a small figure seemed to follow behind, at the same time a familiar-like grumbling voice was heard.

“Following you this stinky brat, it is really me this Taoist Uncle’s eight generations of great ill-luck, not to mention being on constant tenterhooks everyday and now I still have to be in this damn place and be bitten and sucked by these mosquitoes, why don’t you ask him to just suck my blood dry to end this!”

“Zi zi, Zi zi! …”

Xiao Huan was surprised, it was that Wild Dog Taoist who she had met before at Da Wang village and leaping behind him was that monkey Xiao Hui. However Ghost Li was not seen.

Wild Dog Taoist walked and walked and when he focused, he saw Xiao Huan and Zhou YiXian standing in front, looking at himself with strange stares, he got a shock and said, “Yi? Aren’t you both the fortune-tellers, why are you all here?”

Xiao Huan had not even answered when the sharp-eyed Xiao Hui who was behind Wild Dog immediately recognized that the lady in front was someone familiar, [Zi Zi] called out twice and at once leapt to Xiao Huan’s side.

Xiao Huan immediately smiled when she saw Xiao Hui and bent over to carry it up, in spite of the filth gathered from the road on its hands and feet, laughed and said, “How come you are here?”

Xiao Hui seemed to understand, grinned and pointed behind with its monkey paw, gesturing non-stop to Xiao Huan, making [Zi Zi Zi Zi] sounds ceaselessly.

Xiao Huan obviously did not understand what it meant but seemed to guess correctly that Xiao Hui meant to say Ghost Li was just ahead, her heart palpitated for a moment and thought to herself if PingEr sister could be meeting Ghost Li?

And at this moment of doubt, an explosion of thunder was suddenly heard in the sky, rumbling loudly and shortly [Wa wa], big drops of rain fell down.

Xiao Huan shrieked and using her hand to cover her head, subconsciously carried Xiao Hui together and ran to Zhou YiXian, “Grandfather, what shall we do?”

Zhou YiXian could only forced a smile and simply flipped his clothes over his head and said, “No choice, we can’t leave and there is no place to hide, then just get drench!”

Xiao Huan was speechless but looking at the sky, everywhere was grey and gloomy, the rain was gradually getting heavier, in a short while half of her shoulders were already wet, indistinctly revealing a snow-white skin, glistening and eye-catching. Xiao Hui the monkey at this moment was also quite well-behaved, it had rolled into a ball and huddled in Xiao Huan’s embrace.

“He he!”

Suddenly, mocking laughter sounds were heard, Xiao Huan turned to look and saw Wild Dog Taoist calmly taking an umbrella out from the bundle at his back and opened it, looking extremely conceited.

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