In this urgent moment, there seemed to be a complete copy of Introduction to Charms in Cheng Qian’s mind. He quickly browsed through it from the first page to the last one. Suddenly, a small charm popped into his mind—the last chapter had mentioned that charms carved on leaves required much less energy than ones carved on wood, but most of them could only be used once
And it had presented two examples. One was for illumination and the other… what was the use of the other one?
Cheng Qian bit his own tongue fiercely. Then he remembered that he didn’t finish reading the book so he didn’t know the use of the second charm yet.
But now he was left no time to care so anymore. Cheng Qian put his hands behind him without looking away from the ghost.
As soon as the burin in his hand touched the leaf, Cheng Qian realized that he was in over his head. Even though it was just a leaf, to him, it was as good as a baby, who hadn’t learned to walk, being forced to run.
Don’t break… don’t stop… please…
Cheng Qian’s face whitened at a noticeable pace. He felt his energy being sponged up by the burin and became as pale as a mummy. The leaf was killing him. But this was the only chance for him and Han Yuan.
Perhaps the crisis had inspired his potential; Cheng Qian finished his first-ever charm in his life without a hitch. At that instant, a mystical power was passed on to him through the leaf. But he wasn’t in the mood to thoroughly examine it.
Cheng Qian swayed and almost fell to the ground. The channels all over his body were aching as though he was stabbed by needles.
Han Yuan caught hold of Cheng Qian’s arm. “Xiao-Qian, what’s wrong?”
Cheng Qian took two deep breaths and shook Han Yuan off. “Go back and ask master for help.”
Han Yuan was stunned. “What?”
Cheng Qian: “Go!”
Suddenly, the male ghost started slowly advancing. Cheng Qian pinched the leaf with his fingers and held it in front of his chest. He demanded, “Stop!”
That leaf gave off a faint light. As this was the first time Cheng Qian carved a complete charm, he didn’t know if he did it in the proper way. The charm seemed to be incomplete—only half of it was glittering.
The ghost’s eyes fell on the leaf. Temporarily his countenance seemingly brightened a bit, his lifeless eyeballs moved, and his pale and chapped lips moved. Then he said in a barely audible voice, “Heart… Heart-Purifying Charm…”
Cheng Qian’s feet gave out and he nearly crumpled.
He shouldn’t have taken the chance. How could a rudimentary charm carved on a leaf have any extraordinary effect?
Cheng Qian regretted that he didn’t use the illuminating charm; perhaps that would be more useful.
Contemplating the Heart-Purifying Charm, the ghost took another step forward. There was no more room left for Cheng Qian to retreat. He was forced to take up his wooden sword, his cold sweat soaking his robe. Although his hand was shaking uncontrollably due to fatigue, the tip of the sword was aimed firmly at the ghost.
The ghost gradually went back to consciousness. He stammered, “I… I am not… a bad person, kid…”
It seemed to have been ages since the ghost last spoke. His incoherent words made him sound somewhat miserable; however, Cheng Qian wasn’t a person who’d easily pity others. He wasn’t shaken by the ghost’s words and shouted to Han Yuan behind him, “I said scram! Go find master! Don’t hold me back here!”
Han Yuan was completely lost. Looking at his little senior brother who was trying to be brave, he said, “Xiao-Qian, he said he wasn’t…”
No longer able to contain himself, Cheng Qian exclaimed, “Shut up! You ignorant idiot! He’s a demonic cultivator who practices ghostism!”
The words “demonic cultivator” scared Han Yuan successfully. He was immobilized for a few seconds. His shock stretched across his face before it went pale and then finally exuded undisguised panic and fright. He screamed, turned, and ran away.
Cheng Qian straightened his back with mixed feelings—with Han Yuan here, he was restless; but as he ran off, Cheng Qian’s heart turned cold and hurt as if it had been pierced by an icicle.
But before he could repress these mixed feelings, he heard tottering footfalls from behind. Cheng Qian turned and saw the little beggar running back.
Han Yuan not only ran back but also carried a huge stone with him. He held the stone overhead, making a face as though he was going to throw the stone on the ghost’s head. He stared at the ghost in anger and interrogated him, “You… you’re a demonic cultivator?”
Cheng Qian went speechless—how could a stone help? Did you ever hear of any ghost being hit to death by a stone?
“I’m not a demonic cultivator.” Right at the moment, the ghost spoke. He said, “I-I’m just a ghost shadow…”
“Ghost shadow” was a soul that was extracted from a person and refined in a Soul-Consuming Lamp. When a ghost shadow was created, it would lose all of their mental abilities and be at the disposal of the demonic cultivator who created them.
“I… I escaped. I’m not a demonic cultivator.” The ghost was becoming more and more fluent. He looked at Cheng Qian and politely said, “Little boy, could I have that Heart-Purifying Charm?”
“Bullshit. Ghost shadows are all young girls, are you a young girl?” Cheng Qian sneered.
This ghost just looked like a girl’s father!
The ghost’s gaze switched from the Heart-Purifying Charm to the wooden sword in Cheng Qian’s hand. He went silent for a good while with a blank look on his face, as though he was looking back. After a while, he uttered, “Wooden sword… you’re a disciple of Fuyao Sect. No wonder at such a young age you can… you don’t know, that the first-class ghost shadows are cultivators’ primordial spirits, inferior ones are cultivators’ souls, and thirdly non-cultivator young girls’ souls. It’s just that young girls’ souls are the most accessible and the easiest to refine.”
“So what are you?” Han Yuan asked.
The ghost looked a little pained. He said softly, “A primordial spirit.”
Finishing that, he saw weariness and disbelief emerging on Cheng Qian’s face. So he bent and picked up the small stone that Han Yuan had tossed at him.
Cheng Qian’s pupils contracted. He knew that ordinary souls couldn’t materialize. If this man could pick up the stone, then he was indeed a primordial spirit.
But… only some powerful veterans had primordial spirits. And according to his observation, Cheng Qian was afraid that even his master didn’t have one.
Cheng Qian froze. In the end, he put away the wooden sword dejectedly. He had resigned to the fact that he stood no chance against a cultivator with a primordial spirit, whether the man’s words were true or not.
“I am Tang Zhen from Mulan Mountain. Speaking of which… I’ve met your master once,” said the ghost, somewhat absent-minded. “A hundred years ago, I fell prey to a demonic cultivator’s plot and my primordial spirit got trapped in his Soul-Consuming Lamp. Fortunately, I was not completely refined. By fluke, I escaped, but I lost my mental abilities during the one hundred years imprisonment and nearly forgot my name… I’m so lucky that you have a Heart-Purifying Charm. Could you please… give it to me?”
Cheng Qian shilly-shallied for a few seconds. Then he put the leaf on the ground and cautiously took a dozen steps backwards grabbing Han Yuan. A trace of delight flashed across the ghost’s face. He reached out his hand and called over the leaf into his grasp. Instantly, the leaf gave off a stronger light than before and transformed into a cluster of white light which was sucked into the ghost’s body. The ghastly, bloody atmosphere and the stink around him disappeared in no time, and a healthy complexion emerged on his face.
The ghost who called himself Tang Zhen took a deep breath and made a deep bow to Cheng Qian and Han Yuan, saying, “Nothing but silent gratitude to your great help, though it isn’t much use, please send my regards to your master. The demonic cultivator Jiang Peng had a relationship with your sect, please tell him to be careful.”
With that, he vanished into thin air as though he had never existed.
“What did he mean?” After a long time, Han Yuan asked baffled, “Xiao-Qian, what did his words mean?”
Cheng Qian didn’t reply. His sight went dark and he slumped onto the ground.
Han Yuan was frightened. He pulled the boy up in a flurry. “Xiao-Qian, what happened?”
Cheng Qian’s ears were ringing and his limbs were so flabby that he couldn’t stand up. So he had to allow Han Yuan to clumsily carry him onto his back.
And the chief culprit was still chattering as he ran carrying Cheng Qian, “Speak to me, Xiao-Qian? Little Senior Brother?”
Cheng Qian was so nauseous that he almost threw up. With fingers clutching at Han Yuan’s clothes, he spat out a sentence using all his strength, “I’m going to tell Master. Han Yuan, you’re dead!”