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Of the Corpse-refining technique of lower Mao Mountain, the first step was corpse-selecting, then came the corpse-cleansing.

After those two steps, one had to find a location with a ruinous layout to bury the corpse, covering its chest with a Yin Eight Diagram [TL/N: or Bagua], so as to speed up the process of gathering Yin energy.

Then, every seven days, burn a Corpse-refining talisman at the burial site and kill a rooster at midday, sprinkling its blood on the soil. This was because midday was the period in a day when Yang energy was the most powerful and rooster belonged to the element of Xun Wood [TL/N: as in an Eight Diagram], whose crowing just before dawn started the production of Yang energy of the day, making it an animal enabling Yin to turn into Yang and it itself a Yang creature endowed with some Yin property. Therefore, the blood of a rooster could melt down Yang energy, transforming it into its Yin counterpart.

Repeat this procedure for a cycle of 49 days and the corpse would be completed refined.



The old priest had left his life's savings to Li Suchun, along with some talisman paper and apparatus. He rented a dilapidated house with the money and spent every penny thriftily, putting all his mind into refining the corpse.

Struck by the most miserable accident, the boy had managed to turn the situation into an incentive, bringing out the best of himself. He was indeed as bold as he was meticulous, and could bear his pain patiently.

49 days passed like this. In the small hours of the morning, the early sun had yet to come up.

By the faintest daylight, Li Suchun brought himself to a cove, where the ridges around looked broken and shapeless. Apart from a stream flowing straight down the mountain, the place was barren and flat, with no undulations at all.

At the back of the cove was a dim and gloomy spot encircled by the ridges, which was the so-called ruinous layout in Feng Shui. The dragon (mountain ridge) leading to the place and the water flowing away from it were both of Yin property, making it a 'guardless' spot.

On his arrival at the burial site, Li Suchun stood still and waited in silence.

When dawn finally peeped into the cove with the first beam of a rising sun, he rapidly excavated the corpse, took out some talisman paper, bit into his finger and drew a Spirit-channeling talisman with his own essence and blood. He then ignited it and stuffed it into the mouth of the corpse.

After that series of work was done, he stepped back and stared into the air in front of him, unblinking. It was just as his master had said, it had been centuries since anyone succeeded in refining a corpse. He had no idea how his attempt would turn out. He could only take a bet.

"..."

Two minutes passed, but to Li Suchun, it felt like two centuries passing instead. Beads of sweat trickled down from his forehead onto his eyebrows, hanging there as if they were on the edge of a cliff.

"Thump!"

All of a sudden, the corpse seemed to have moved. Fearing that he was imagining it, he rubbed his eyes and looked into the pit again.

"Thump!"

"Thump!"

The corpse that had been dead for over a month was indeed twitching at the bottom of the pit, thumping and thudding as it moved. At the same time, Li Suchun had a distinctive feeling that a strange connection had been established between the corpse and himself.

"I did it!"

Chanting the spell at once, he put the index and middle fingers of his right hand together and pointed to the front. "Up!"

"Boom!"

The corpse stood straight up without bending any of its joints as ash and dirt slipped down its body. It was as short as it ever was, but the sallow skin had turned grayish white. The joints on its limbs were abnormally rigid and extended out from its fingertips were ten shiny, black fingernails.

"I've done it! I've done it! Hahahaha! Master, is that you who sent me the blessings from above?"

Li Suchun was caught in a fit of guffaws first, then burst into tears. "Master, I shall avenge you, I promise!"

Generally speaking, the opening of a historical period or a new era could be frequently attributed to individual factors, which in turn were backed by all sorts of causalities.

Being a disciple of lower Mao Mountain, the idea of refining a corpse only came to Li Suchun after he was overtaken by grief and resentment derived from the miserable death of his family member. However, had this tragedy taken place a few years early, he would never have succeeded, for there was no Yin energy around back then.

As a matter of fact, Yin energy was a variation of the spiritual essence. He stumbled into the opportunity when the spiritual essence started to recover. Accidentally, he had succeeded in creating the first genuine zombie of the past few centuries.

Nighttime, at the outskirts of the town.

In the construction site of the new housing project, the foundation had been laid down, and upon it, the houses were going to be built. The site was cramped with all sorts of building materials, leaving only two spots less crowded, one of which set the crane, while the other was the living quarter for the workers.

The makeshift houses were put together by blue-striped white boards. They were easy to disassemble and could almost "live on the go". There were six to seven rooms in total, each with eight tenants. All rooms were well-lit at the moment and the air inside was filled with noise and excitement.

"Four twos!"

"Two Kings!"

"Damn! How come you have something bigger than mine!"

"Hahaha! Just pay me the money!"

Inside one of the rooms, three men were playing cards. A bald, burly fellow had just won a very big pot and the broad smile had made his face as crinkly as a chrysanthemum. The other two paid their share with utter reluctance and while the cards were being shuffled, one of them asked suddenly, "Brother Qiang, are we gonna be alright after burning that old priest like that?"

"Nah! Nowadays, who would give a damn about an old priest?" The baldy was the one driving the forklift; he went on in an unconcerned tone, "Plus, our boss is a big shot. Look at me. The worst part was a couple of days in jail and I'm out as a free man."

"You've got a point. Play on!"

The discussion stopped there and the three men went back to their cards.

After another few hands, luck seemed to have abandoned the baldy and he kept losing. Unable to suppress his vexation, he smacked his cards onto the table and said, "Let's take a break. I need to take a leak!"

"Brother Qiang, you are not trying to run away, are you?"

"Exactly. What if you never come back from the toilet?"

"F**k off. What kind of person do you take me for?"

Walking out still cursing, the baldy randomly picked a corner and started emptying his bladder. Halfway through it, he felt a chillness approached him from behind and he was enshrouded in a creepy and weird sensation.

"Sizz!"

He shuddered. Putting his trousers back into order, he was about to go back when he felt something land on his shoulder. By the dim light on the site, he noticed an extra obscured shadow appearing on the wall in front of him.

"Who is it?"

The baldy turned around abruptly and his heart stood still with fright. He only had time enough to let out a scream.

"Ah!"

Inside, the others were still laughing and chatting when they heard the shriek outside. They scurried out and got to the corner where the baldy was. One of them took a glance and turned to throw up violently.

The others also felt hair standing up on their backs, for the baldy was dead on the ground with his chest ripped open, leaving a bloody hole the size of a bowl.

Tuling County, a hotel.

A dinner party had just finished and out stumbled a group of people, exchanging pleasantries and bidding farewell with thick tongues. After quite a few rounds of bullshitting, people started to get into various vehicles and leave by batches. In the end, only two were left outside, who were none other than that manager and the vice-president of the company. [1]

They then also got into a vehicle and drove towards the hotel they lived in.

"The job was very well handled this time. Although there was a minor accident, in general everything turned out satisfactory. Chairman Zhao was pleased as well."

"It was all thanks to Mr. Zhang that the job was done. I'm simply a foot soldier."

"Ha, don't worry, you'll get your fair share once the project is completed.

"Thank you, Mr. Zhang!"

As soon as they got into their car, the drunken behavior they had exhibited disappeared at once. The vice-president was the man in charge of this project and the manager was a trusted follower of his. The scale of the project this time was exceptional, including not only residential areas, but also corresponding business quarters and high-tech zones. The municipal government had attached much significance to the project.

The hotel where they lived was on the north side of the county. It was excellently equipped, but the location was rather remote. After a few minutes, the car turned into a big yard decorated with ponds and trees. In the innermost corner stood the hotel building. [2]

However, just as the vehicle entered the yard, it came to a sudden stop with a screech.

"Why aren't we moving?" The vice-president asked.

"Someone is standing in front of the car," replied the driver.

The vice-president darted a few looks and ordered, "Go have a look."

"Yes!"

The driver got out, smashing the door closed behind him, and ran towards the figure. Seeing that the person was wrapped by a black cloth from head to toe, he found it rather weird and asked, "Who are you? Move aside, you're in the way!"

Silence.

"I'm talking to you! What are you doing here?"

Irritated by the lack of reaction, the driver slapped it over its face. "Answer the bloody question!"

"Smack!"

His palm landed on the person's face, but the latter did not flinch. The driver felt this heart skip a beat. Judging by the sensation from his hand, the person's face was iron-hard, not a bit like human flesh.

Frightened, he turned to run back to the car. However, coldness reached the back of his neck and that was the last thing he ever felt.

Major case! Definitely a major case!

Four people had died in a row in a matter of days, one of which was an important figure renowned even in the business circle in the city. With this case, all police officers in the city became active, following every lead, trying to catch the killer.

Of the four victims, three had their hearts carved out and one had his neck stabbed, all too horrible to even look at. No witnesses were around the crime scenes and no camera picked anything suspicious. The most obvious lead would be that scratches could be found around the wounds, as if the perpetrator had used some sort of sharp claws.

To assume these were deeds of an animal would be unrealistic.

It would be equally unlikely to assume a human was holding a weapon. What existing weapon could pierce one's chest with a single strike and carve out the heart instantaneously?

If the wounds were inflicted by human body itself, the conclusion would sound even more far-stretched!

Consequently, the case was moving towards the most peculiar direction. Southwest China was characterized by its rolling hills and numerous sinister and weird legends, which had influence on people residing in the region as a whole; they started to mention things like witchcraft, undead insect, etc. Although they were all denounced, no other evidence could be found either.

Fortunately, the killer had stopped killing and seemed to have slipped away. The abnormalities of this case had been reported to authorities of higher levels and waited further research.

[1] TL/N: The manager that had visited the old priest at the temple.

[2] ED/N: The raws say "lakes" but I think "ponds" makes much more sense. After all, how big is this dayum courtyard?

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