The sun was setting and the night was creeping in.
The residential area was arranged into your standard layout, with multi-storeys in the front and villas at the back. There weren't many villas, though, only about seven to eight in total.
However, it was strange that apart from the one behind him, no lights could be seen in any other buildings, as if they were all vacant. The paved paths and green space were also deserted. The area almost felt haunted.
Gu Yu realized what was going on after a brief looking-around.
He then set his eyes upon the three fellows circling around him. They were two men and a woman, and all had a strange complexion—their ashen faces looked almost greenish. Not a single muscle was moving on their faces either. They were as motionless as consciousless corpses.
"Mr. Gu, I do hope you would join us. I'd rather we don't ruin this friendship."
Looking back, Gu Yu saw Zhang Wei at the doorway, with Wang Qian at his side.
"Where should I begin to point out the flaws in your reasoning…"
Gu Yu found the whole thing an utter nonsense. 'You were the one to provoke me first and now you're acting as if you have been wronged.' He had nothing more to say to the man. Stepping hard against the floor, he charged at Zhang Wei. 'Dispatch the leader and the gang will collapse.'
Squinting, Zhang Wei did not panic—the man had come prepared. Wang Qian reached out and slapped at something. Whoosh! A transparent gate made of unknown material fell down and blocked the way.
Gu Yu's fingertips knocked into it and made a crisp sound as if he had ran into something metallic. He frowned slightly and was about to try again when a noise approached from behind him.
With the bestial snarl, a gust of wind blew at him.
He casually swept his hand backwards, which was met by a palm. Gu Yu stood steadily where he was, while the other one stumbled back with stomping steps.
Somehow, the force of the impact surprised Gu Yu. He spun around abruptly and dodged sideways, distancing himself from the attacker by a good several meters. Looking up, he saw one of the men standing in front of him. The fellow was rather tall and broad, with a strange black line on his neck.
The first punch seemed to have been a cue. The other man, who was short and skinny, fumbled out a gruesome bone plate, smacked it onto his palm, and started chanting. Immediately, an invisible fluctuation spurted out and wheeled in the air with a howling sound.
Meanwhile, the woman also took out a strange transparent small bottle, in which were two eerie baby puppets. She pulled out the plug and blew into the bottle.
"Woo… hoo… woo…"
An odd noise suddenly filled the night air, reminding one of a whimpering wind or the crying of babies, giving one goosebumps. Instantly, a sinister wind swept strongly across the clearing in front of the villa. Airstreams seemed to be gathering around in the empty air, which then turned into three streaks of black smoke.
The two pointed with their fingers in unison and the black smoke dashed right at Gu Yu with a shrilling, violent scream.
'Is that an undead insect?'
The idea came to Gu Yu, but he instantly rejected it. 'It isn't!' That Golden Silkworm of Xiao Qiu might look weird, but it was still a creation of heaven and earth, a product of nature itself.
This, on the other hand, looked like the forced result of some sinister, secret refining method, which was filled with malice and grudge. One could smell the evil in it from a mile away!
The black smoke reached him in no time and pounced at him from three directions.
Gu Yu shifted sideways and stepped aside, bringing his body forward from an impossible angle. With that maneuver, he swerved around and just happened to miss the two streaks coming from his left and right.
He wanted to examine the substance. As a streak came at him headlong, he spread his fingers and grabbed at it.
As if cold water had dropped into boiling oil or a strong acid was eating at the floor board, the black air sizzled, rolled, and seethed as soon as it made contact with his palm. It was gnawing at everything desperately at the same time, trying to devour every bit of his blood and flesh.
'That was remarkable!'
Gu Yu was taken by surprise. Activating his spiritual essence at full blast, he closed his hand into a fist. However, the black smoke dispersed instantly, escaped from between his fingers, and reassembled in the air.
While he was secretly amazed, he had no idea that his attackers were petrified. They had tried to predict Gu Yu's capability as best as they could, but as it turned out, they had still underestimated him!
The man and the woman exchanged a look and bit the tip of their tongues simultaneously. They then spat their blood essence onto the bone plate and into the bottle respectively and pointed again.
With the reinforcement from the blood essence, the black smoke became all the more frantic and began to take shape in midair, revealing three ghostly baby faces. One was slightly bigger, while the other two were a boy and a girl who seemed like twins. All three had blood-red eyes and wide mouth, their faces hideous and terrifying.
"Get him!" the woman yelled.
Hearing that, the sturdy man brandished his fists and charged forward at Gu Yu, trying to pin him down at close quarters. The three ghostly faces dived down once more and momentarily, Gu Yu was trapped on all sides.
Four vs one!
His face serious, Gu Yu dared not take the battle lightly. It was probably the toughest fight he ever encountered since he became a cultivator.
Gu Yu moved swiftly and dodged a ghostly face. The man jumped at him with open arms, trying to strap them tightly around him. Thrusting the tip of his foot against the ground, Gu Yu leapt into the air and surmounted the man in a whoosh.
Before he hit the ground, however, he felt an ill wind at his back again. Gu Yu reacted before he could think. Grabbing the man by his back, Gu Yu tossed him behind with all his effort.
The man was caught by the gnawing black smoke and let out a scream. His skin, blood, and flesh shrivelled and withered at an unbelievable speed. Then, with a thud, a dried-up corpse crumpled to the ground.
The woman was delighted. She immediately commanded the ghostly faces to pounce at Gu Yu—he had just landed and not yet found his balance. There was no way he could dodge this one!
The ghostly faces shrieked with excitement. They were almost there to swallow him whole when Gu Yu waved his hand and a green light flew out of him, crackling through the air.
The green light flickered and pierced right through the faces. Before the woman had time to react, another streak arrived. "Pop!"
The twin ghostly babies were pierced through and halted abruptly, as if they were overwhelmed by an excruciating pain. The form they took also weakened, which began to flicker in and out of sight.
The man and the woman were terrified. A coldness was creeping up their spines and exploding in their heads. Half of that confidence they had in the beginning was instantly evaporated.
Presently, the green and the black clashed and entangled in the air, flying all over the place and making a dazzling scene.
Controlling the two green jade needles, Gu Yu felt his spiritual essence being used up at a dangerous speed. The ghostly faces had thinned down, but they outnumbered Gu Yu by one and still had power enough to fight back.
Gu Yu's thoughts spun and an idea came to him suddenly.
In the air, the two streaks of green light met the ghostly faces head-on again. Just before they clashed, however, the green light shifted to the side a little and flew straight at the manipulators in the back.
Those two were scared out of their wits. 'Damn it, that's not how we're supposed to fight!"
Gu Yu was counting on the tremendous speed of the needles. As expected, before the ghostly faces reached him, Gu Yu heard the sound as those two watched with terrified eyes.
The man and the woman's heads were drilled through at the temples. They collapsed to the ground before they could make a sound.
With their masters gone, the ghostly faces circled around in confusion for a moment before they became even more ferocious. Turning around, they jumped onto their masters and started to devour the corpses frantically.
The ghostly faces were the product of an extremely malicious arcane skill, made mostly from corpses of infants. They would even go as far as digging babies out of the bellies of women who died at childbirth. It was an utter offense against nature itself.
As a result, the ghostly faces held great grudge against their masters. Should the masters be weakened in any way and lost control of a ghostly face, the latter was sure to turn on them!
Seeing that those things were feasting on the dead bodies, Gu Yu dared not relax just yet. Sending out two streaks of energy and with some crackling sound, he smashed the bone plate and the bottle.
As soon as the two objects were broken, rancid black blood gushed out. The three ghostly faces paused and turned into three lumps of black smoke again, which tumbled violently in the air, as if they were struggling with all their effort.
Before long, with their unreconciled and bitter shrieks, they dissolved into nothingness in the night sky.
Only then did Gu Yu let out a breath of relief. He mumbled to himself, "It's good to have a straight-A student as a girlfriend."
As soon as the black smoke turned into baby faces, he had a vague idea what to do next, for Xiaozhai had mentioned something similar. He took this chance to try out his method and just happened to hit the right button.
He was about to move closer to examine it when his face changed abruptly. 'Shit!'
Gu Yu spun around and jumped back inside through a window. As expected, not a soul was in the villa. The back door was wide open—Zhang Wei and Wang Qian had long snuck away.
"F**k!" he cursed aloud. 'What the hell did they get me into? I was just an innocent passer-by! What am I supposed to do with this goddamn mess?'
Even with his mild temperament, it took Gu Yu quite a while to get rid of the vexation. Shaking his head wryly, Gu Yu went back to examine the bodies.
He checked the sturdy man first, who was nothing but a mummy now. Poking around the corpse covering his nose, Gu Yu did not find a single clue.
He then moved onto the man and woman operating together. Their skin was of a strange color, as if they had been living inside a cave and stayed away from sunlight all the year round. He then frisked the two bodies. Both had a black mark on their chest, which did not look like any tattoo, but more like birthmarks.
The woman seemed to be of a higher status and there was a small bead buried between her breasts. Yup, you heard it right. It was buried in her flesh all right.
After a moment of hesitation, Gu Yu dug the bead out and stashed it away in his clothes.
Xiaozhai had mentioned before that Lower Mao Mountain had a Spirit-raising Technique, which did not sound like anything as vicious as this. The skill this pair had inherited seemed to have come from a much more ancient period—one might be able to trace it all the way to the remote ages, when such skills were called "witchcraft".
"Jinx! That man is jinx itself!"
The city of Urumqi. Inside an office in the sub-bureau of the BIMAUP, that Director Tong was shouting while banging on the desk. "Everything was fine when he was not here. The moment he arrived, all hell broke loose! Three people! Three people are dead! How am I supposed to write the report?"
The subordinates kept their silence, all trying to steer clear of the boss's ill temper.
One almost felt sorry for them, really. The last time the duo was here, the body count came to six; this time Gu Yu visited alone and three dead bodies were left behind… why, there was even a regular pattern.
Of all the thirty-six sub-bureaus in the country, the one in Urumqi attracted the most attention. For one, it was right next to the node in Tianshan and was responsible for the surveillance. For another, the negotiation between the duo and the government took place here, which marked a new chapter in modern history.
Director Tong was quite content with being in the limelight in the beginning. As it turned out, as soon as something went wrong, he was useless and helpless.
The tongue-lashing continued for quite a while before the director finally calmed down a little. He asked, "Any results from the investigation?"
"Not really. The identities of the three deceased came back rather unusual. There was no record on any of them. The residential area was developed by a local businessman of Huo Zhou, who has kept a low profile before this."
"Where is the man now?"
"He has committed suicide."
Director Tong was speechless. Moments later, he said with indignation, "Go talk to him again… no, I'll go myself. I'll ask him exactly what is it he wants."
"Well, director…" His subordinate gave him a quick glance and pointed towards the ceiling. "He's not talking to us. He has gone directly to the HQ."