The scene before him was so bizarre that Miao Wentang was extremely shocked. He suddenly recalled the paper charm Tang Xiu placed on him outside the courtyard wall. He grabbed the item and observed it for a while only to find some unusual symbols on it; he could even sense a faint fluctuation of spiritual force on it.
"Don't tell me… this is an Invisibility Charm? An item that can make one who wears it invisible to others?"
Miao Wentang himself knew that Tang Xiu also excelled at making various charms. It made his heartbeat spike up immediately. He gritted his teeth and walked toward Tang Xiu's direction and the two big men of Lian Family. He kept walking to Tang Xiu's side while his eyes were fixed on the two stocky men, yet they still seemed to be unaware of their presence.
One of the stocky men coughed twice. He suddenly glanced around a few times before he raised his hand to scratch the back of his head. With a puzzled expression, he muttered, "How come I feel so spooked and scared? It's like I'm being stared at by a venomous viper or something."
His comrade also frowned and astonished, "You got such a feeling too? What an ominous sign. I thought it was only I who had fallen into illusion. I too feel that something is staring at me, sending a chill down my back."
Miao Wentang's face slightly changed. He immediately s.h.i.+fted his vision from the two men and turned to Tang Xiu with eyes full of admiration.
It was definitely because of the Invisibility Charm! The one that was told in the legends!
If he were to have this Invisibility Charm, he'd definitely have a lethal weapon for killing! In such a situation where n.o.body, not even the G.o.ds and ghosts, were unable to sense his presence, he could behead his enemy for sure.
For a short while, the two men of the Lian Family still kept looking around, but they couldn't find any abnormalities whatsoever. They just shook their heads and then headed towards the distance.
Tang Xiu himself stood still in his current spot. He then looked at Miao Wentang smilingly and asked, "So, how do you feel?"
"I shuddered with fear at first, but then felt relieved when I realized that they truly can't see us," replied Miao Wentang with a smile. "You're truly amazing, Brother Tang! If memory serves, the charm you placed on me outside the courtyard wall must be an Invisibility Charm, right?"
"Yeah, I manufactured some Invisibility Charms before due to some special reasons." Tang Xiu nodded and explained, "I never thought that it would show its uses during an investigation this time, though. Also, the prevention measures deployed by the Lian Family is kinda tight. If it weren't for this Invisibility Charm, we couldn't have been so relaxed and easily snuck inside."
Miao Wentang's turned bright and he asked eagerly, "How many Invisibility Charms do you have now, Brother Tang? Can you sell me some of them?"
Tang Xiu's expression turned strange and he replied, "I don't have many of them at hand as of now. Just some of them."
"Please state your price. I'll buy however many you have," said Miao Wentang straightforwardly.
"Just 3 yuan is enough. I'll sell them to you at 3 yuan each," replied Tang Xiu smilingly after he thought for a moment.
Miao Wentang let out a hollow cough and waved as he spoke again, "I won't buy it, so I'll exchange them with some other items! I know that you've been searching for the twelve zodiac jade carvings recently. I just caught wind of one of them and am currently verifying it. I'll send it to you after I'm sure about it."
"For real?" Tang Xiu was pleasantly surprised.
"For real." Miao Wentang nodded and said, "But the other party is so difficult to deal with, so I'm afraid that it will take some time, though. Anyway, let's stop talking about that first. Since we have the Invisibility Charms, then we shall continue to go inside to find out the situation of this place! We gotta make sure what the h.e.l.l is going on with the Lians tonight."
Tang Xiu suppressed his excitement deep in his heart. He nodded and glanced towards the depths of the Lian Family's manor interior. Then he said in a whisper, "Try not to make any sound as best as you can. Let's use hand signals when something happens; I have a hunch that the Lian Family's manor is not as simple as it looks on the surface."
"I got you." Miao Wentang nodded firmly.
Most of the area in front of the Lian Family's manor was covered with lush trees, along with flowers, plants, rockery stones,, and gazebos everywhere… but when Tang Xiu and Miao Wentang headed deeper into the interior and bypa.s.sed the fountain square in the center of the manor, they suddenly sensed a change in the atmosphere.
The dark-painted houses in front were all wooden and painted pitch-black on the outside. In addition, be it the trees or the other buildings in the surroundings, they were all painted black as well. Even the ground was covered with black asphalt. There was no other color other than black, even if they observed carefully.
"This place is way too bizarre." Miao Wentang leaned over to Tang Xiu, who was carefully treading northward, as he said in a whisper.
Tang Xiu squinted, as he could sense a faint surging diabolical energy. His body was also slightly s.h.i.+vering, driven by the impulse to immediately dash and smash something that was somewhere deep inside the Lian Family's manor. Such an impulse was like a feeling of hunger, as though there was something deep inside the manor that attracted him.
Suddenly, Miao Wentang grabbed his arm and whispered, "Wait, Brother Tang! Don't you think this place is too strange? Ever since we pa.s.sed through the fountain square, we haven't heard anything, nor seen anything move here, not even a living person. No… not only that. There's not even any living creatures such as chickens, dogs, ants, or anything else."
"Indeed." Tang Xiu nodded.
"How about withdrawing first, Brother Tang?" Miao Wentang hesitantly said, "I've started to have a feeling that there's something horrible waiting for us in front. It makes me feel restless."
Tang Xiu shook his head and was about to speak when his expression slightly changed. He instantly grabbed Miao Wentang's hand and their figure disappeared into the corner of a building in but a moment. He clearly saw that a boy around 7 years old walked over from the north, smiling with a rope bouncing about in his hand under the cover of the dim night. Tang Xiu looked up and saw that the rope was connected to a kite flying dozens of meters high.
"That's strange. Has my hearing been impaired or something?"
Miao Wentang suddenly whispered with a voice that only the both of them could hear.
Tang Xiu shot a deep look at the boy who was jumping and skipping about. The boy's mouth seemed to be shouting something, yet he felt just like Miao Wentang. He could tell that the boy was clearly shouting, but there was no sound coming from him. He was also jumping about, but there was no sound of his footsteps either.
The surrounding area was as though in a deathly stillness, as though there was something wrong with their hearing.
After a while, Tang Xiu retracted his gaze from the boy. He shook his head and said, "He's not a human being. He's a kind of apparition—a Spiritual Protoplasm."
"What's a Spiritual Protoplasm?" asked Miao Wentang with a confused face.
"It's a state of the soul, yet it's also a different kind of being altogether," said Tang Xiu. "A Spiritual Protoplasm is a kind of creature with a special const.i.tution. If it's attached to a human being, it can be integrated into the human soul and replace it. That boy is probably possessed by the Spiritual Protoplasm, and it forcefully seized his body. I never expected the Lians to have such a thing. It seems that this family hides things well!"
Shortly after, the boy ran from their sight and disappeared at the other end of the pitch-black manor. After Tang Xiu and Miao Wentang came out from the corner, they ignored the Spiritual Protoplasm boy and walked slowly towards the deeper part of the villa. A few minutes later, Tang Xiu halted his pace at the crosswalk of the road to the manor.
"What's up?" Miao Wentang asked curiously. He had looked around and found no traces of humans in the surroundings.
"There's an array here," answered Tang Xiu. "The path ahead of us is blocked and is covered by an array. Unless we can crack the array formation silently and make a hole in it, it will be hard for us to not alarm the members of the Lian Family if we want to go deeper."
Miao Wentang looked eager and said, "I can't drill a hole through an array, though. I can only rely on you."
He knew that Tang Xiu was well-versed in arrays. Back when they adventured and braved dangers together, he had witnessed Tang Xiu arrange arrays, and he knew that the array Tang Xiu arranged then was terrifyingly mighty.
Tang Xiu unleashed his spiritual sense to probe the fluctuating layer of energy in the air several times. He continuously released his Primal Chaos Force and integrated it into the energy layer in front.
A few minutes later, Tang Xiu suddenly opened his eyes and whispered, "Interesting. This is really interesting. Some people of Lian Family unexpectedly have laid out an Underworld Great Array here. What do these people want to do, exactly? All the living beings inside the Underworld Great Array will be shrouded in the Yin Qi of the Netherworld, gradually becoming the living dead."
"Huh?" Miao Wentang was confused and asked, "What do you mean?"
"There are things you don't understand yet, but I can tell you for sure." Tang Xiu shook his head and said, "Those of the Lian Family who have been living inside this array are no longer normal human beings. It's no wonder that I found that the dead bodies of those two Lian Family's ancestors had a grim l.u.s.ter after I killed them. I didn't pay much attention to it back then. But now I think they have some force of the Netherworld inside their bodies."
Miao Wentang's expression suddenly changed and he asked in a whisper, "Could it be that they were cultivators with another kind of cultivation system? The likes of those Ghost cultivators I once read in ancient records?"
"Hmph," hummed Tang Xiu coldly. "Ghost cultivators are living humans whose souls have been baptized with Netherworld force after their deaths. They then practice the cultivation system from the Ghost Realm. They are the genuine Ghost cultivators. Those humans who practice the cultivation technique will become neither human nor ghost—just half-human and half-ghost. Even if one can have a very long lifespan and a very formidable strength, that person will never have great accomplishments in the future."
Miao seemed to be hazy with the explanation; he understood yet couldn't grasp it well. He continued questioning, "So, what are we gonna do next? Can you crack this array?"
Tang Xiu let out a confident smile. He grabbed his hand and treaded forward instantly. After his footsteps traversed and changed directions a few times, they quickly appeared inside the Underworld Great Array and a different scenery was presented before them.
Miao Wentang always thought that he had a lot of knowledge; yet, after seeing the scene inside the Netherworld Great Array, his eyes turned into saucers and he couldn't help but gasp the cold air.
Tang Xiu's brows, however, raised and he muttered, "There are altars here? What does the Lian Family wanna do by building so many altars?"
"Brother Tang, I've seen such an altar somewhere in the Miao Region." Miao Wentang whispered, "As far as I know, there's but a few of this type of altar in the entire Miao Region—no more than three of them, I think. But here, there are dozens of them."
Tang Xiu quickly glanced around and spoke again, "There are 49 altars altogether here, with a blood pool in front of each. d.a.m.n wretched evils! That should be humans' blood! How many people have been harmed by the Lian Family to ama.s.s so much blood?"