The next day, Gu Mingshun came to the medicine hall early to pick them up, and the three of them went back to the mountain on the west side of the town together.
Walking up the mountain along the place where they found the torn piece of fabric the day before, the woods gradually deepened, and the mountain road became steeper.
It was hard to imagine how a child of less than ten years old could escape a murderer’s pursuit while running in such a downhill road.
Thinking of the bruises and scars all over the child’s body, it was most likely caused by this section of the road.
Although the sky was bright, there was still a faint white mist floating around the mountain forest.
It tightly coiled around the trees and shrubs like ribbons.
The three walked in the fog for nearly an hour, and stopped at the same time as Su Yanjun.
“There’s an array.” Mu Xiyun suddenly said.
“Before it takes to burn a stick of incense, we’ve already repeated the path we’ve taken.”
Gu Mingshun frowned and asked, “We’ve been walking around in circles?” “That’s right,” Su Yanjun said, “but it’s more refined than a normal array, as if to prevent people from approaching.”
“The drunkard from Zhang’s family once said that he got lost while in the mountains.” Gu Mingshun added, “It is said that after walking a long time in the mountains, he finally fell to the ground tired.
When he woke up after drinking himself to sleep, he found himself already lying on the road at the foot of the mountain.
But not many people believe this, and they all think that he was drunk and was just talking nonsense.”
Now that he knew that they had fallen into a confusion, Mingshun was still certain that it would not be difficult for the two disciples of Moyun Mountain to broke free from it.
Su Yanjun formed a seal in his hand and took the lead in walking in front, while attentively feeling his surroundings.
After a short while, the three came out of the fog and stopped just outside the dense weeds.
It was strange.
The tall and dense grass looked white from afar but upon closer inspection, the grass was still green, even a delicate green, but on top of each grass stem, was a bunch of snow-white flowers.
The flower had a strange shape, like a small white snake, twisting towards the sky.
In the center of the grass was a large camphor tree, the crown of which was like a giant umbrella, covering a radius of dozens of feet.
The trunk was thick, and it may take seven or eight people to encircle it.
Below the trunk, there was a wide hole.
Who knows when it was formed, but strangely it didn’t interfere with the growth of the tree.
Inside the hole was a small incense case covered with a thick layer of ash.
The two red candles had been burnt out, and the wax, like two big red tears, was left on the desk.
Food was supposed to be served on the table before it, but it was no longer there.
Behind the incense table was a small statue of a god.
Su Yanjun looked at the statue carefully, and asked slowly, “What kind of god is being offered here?” No wonder he couldn’t recognize it for a while.
The face of the stone statue was as sharp as a stone cone, and its two eyes were slender, with a trace of bewitching horror, which was completely different from the kind-hearted look of ordinary Buddha statues.
Gu Mingshun stepped forward and looked at it carefully.
He felt that it was strange too and suddenly blurted out, “Is this stone statue engraved like Wong Tai Sin or a fox immortal?”
“It should be a fox,” Xiyun replied, “but there hasn’t yet been a fox that had cultivated to immortality.
So, it’s still up for debate.
“Why are you so sure?” Gu Mingshun was a little perplexed.
He himself was a native of Yiyun Town and has worked in the Yamen for more than ten years, yet he had never heard that there were people worshiping some kind of fox immortal on this mountain.
Mu Xiyun explained with a smile, “I also heard that about a hundred years ago, there was a fox demon in Yiyun Town, who cultivated by himself, yet unfortunately violated the killing ban once.
Moyun Sect decided to spare the life of the fox demon but because the villagers knew his magical powers, they built a shrine to worship him.
However, more than fifty years ago, the fox demon suddenly disappeared.
This shrine must have been what’s left from that time.”
Although Su Yanjun and Gu Mingshun still had doubts, they had nothing to say.
Su Yanjun took a deep look at Mu Xiyun, the legend could not be refuted, but why was he so sure?
Gu Mingshun, out of a constable’s habit of catching fast cases, had already approached and looked at the small shrine carefully several times.
Suddenly, he stepped down and shouted at the two of them, “There is a palm print here!”
On the thick dust by the foot of the incense table leg, was a vague half palm print.
The palm print was not large, roughly the size of that child’s hand.
Maybe the child arrived here by accident, fell to the ground exhausted or maybe he was too tired and just rested against the tree.
Yet, who could have thought that his heart would be dug out and lose his life so soon?
“Let’s continue to move forward,” Gu Mingshun suggested, “at least it shows that there is no problem with our current direction.”
The group continued to move forward.
There was no road in the forest.
The woods and shrubs stretched in all directions, like a cluster of arms reaching out everywhere, trying to impede them from walking forward.
There was no one in the mountains, only the breeze blew the leaves, and occasionally a bird or two would chirped, which made the forests even more quiet, amplifying the footsteps of the three people that even they couldn’t help but hold their breath.
Su Yanjun, who was walking in front, was about to step over a sizable stone, yet paused for some reason, but he immediately raised his leg and kept the pace just as usual.
He made a secret gesture to Mu Xiyun with his right hand.
Xiyun immediately understood and put more focus on the surroundings.
Sure enough, in addition to the sound of their footsteps, there was a slight rustling sound, which came not far from their left rear.
The two of them slowed down slightly.
Gu Mingshun hadn’t noticed the abnormality yet, but when he saw the two of them slowed down, he stopped immediately.
Just as he was about to question them, a red figure suddenly flashed coming from the side and quickly passed through the gap between the three.
Su Yanjun and Xiyun immediately followed.
The figure in red was not tall and was very slender, smartly running and jumping in the forest.
It runs on the left and protrudes on the right, often turning abruptly to jump out of the encirclement.
They couldn’t use their swords in the dense forest even more so with their hidden weapons.
They can only keep a close pursuit on it when unknowingly, they run out to a clearing.
The road to the top of the mountain was even narrower.
After running around a huge boulder, Su Yanjun, who was at the forefront, suddenly stopped.
Mu Xiyun was surprised but stopped in time and hurriedly caught Gu Mingshun who was behind still rushing forward.
Just ahead of them was a cliff.
The red figure, like a mist in the mountains, disappeared without a trace.
Gu Mingshun was still panting and his face was pale.
If it wasn’t for Xiyun who grabbed him in time, he might have fallen off the cliff now.
After a few deep breaths, he stretched out his head and looked beyond the cliff, only to see that sharp rocks were exposed and no trace of vegetation was growing, as if an ancient divine sword splitted the mountain in half.
On the opposite side of the cliff was the other side of the mountain, and there was a faint sound of water at the bottom of the cliff that was as wide as a hundred feet in between the other side.
It was absolutely impossible for that person to jump over to the other side.
Su Yanjun summoned his sword.
This sword was said to have been obtained by him when he was eighteen years old and the named it “Gentleman”.
Indeed, the sword was like a person.
Its shape was tall, straight and slender, and the form was simple and clear.
Although its color was plain white, it shone brightly under the sun.
Yet not too dazzling, on the contrary, just like warm jade, giving people a feeling of warmth.
Su Yanjun rode on his sword and went to the opposite cliff to check carefully.
Mu Xiyun and Gu Mingshun also checked the situation around them.
The boulder was nearly the height of three people combined and was very huge.
Half of it was sitting atop of the mountain while the other half was stretched out of the mountain.
When strong winds blew, it somehow made people faintly worry that this big rock would be blown down the mountain.
There were also a few delicate purple flowers under it.
This was already the top of the mountain, with only a few small trees growing sparsely.
The sight was unobstructed and there was no other place to hide.
At this time, Su Yanjun also finished checking on the opposite side, he flew back and shook his head at the two of them.
Unexpectedly, the clue was cut off like this, and the three had to go down the mountain to discuss the matter thoroughly.
Su Yanjun and Xiyun returned to the medicine hall when night had started to cover the sky.
Liang Zheng was in the guest room.
It was said that two pharmacists came to the medicine hall and brought along with them a lot of precious medicinal materials, which made Ling Zheng treat them as guests.
There was a strong wind that night.
Not long after, spring thunder rolled and it started to rain heavily.
When the sun shone unto the courtyard again the next day, a burst of rapid hooves ended people’s dreams.
Gu Mingshun dismounted from his horse, carried a person into the medicinal hall and immediately said to Su Yanjun and Mu Xiyun who walked out of the room, “I found Guo Qi!”
Guo Qi was the Moyun Mountain disciple who showed a tremendously horrified expression a few days ago.
When everyone rushed back to the medicine hall, he disappeared.
Unexpectedly, he appeared today.
Guo Qi looked very haggard, with a loose bun, and a lot of dead branches in his hair.
He was wearing a white Moyunshan disciple’s uniform that could no longer be recognizable.
It was all muddy and stained with black water.
There were also several tears on his chest and back, which was very embarrassing.
Liang Zheng checked his pulse.
After a while, he raised his eyes and said, “It’s okay, it’s just that he’s too tired.
It will be fine after some rest.” After saying that, he took a Qingxin Pill, fed it to him, placed his hand above Gou Qi’s chest and slowly transferred some spiritual energy.
Soon, Guo Qi’s eyelids moved and he slowly woke up.
When he opened his eyes, two clear lines of tears suddenly gushed out.
Liang Zheng patted his hand and said, “We don’t know what happened to you, but at the present, if you know anything about the incident, please speak out quickly.”
Guo Qi lowered his head and said, “Yes, I acted very flustered at that time and aroused everyone’s suspicion.
I’m very sorry.” He sat up with the help of Liang Zheng’s hand.
As if he had made up his mind, he looked up and explained to everyone.
“I was born in Qingxi Town, fifty miles north of Yiyun Town, and I have a younger brother…..”
Ten years ago, Guo Qi was only ten years old, and his younger brother Guo Lin just turned six.
The Guo family was not wealthy, so the two brothers often gathered firewood and picked fruits to help make up for the family. When they were not busy, they played and wandered in the mountains beside the village all day.
One day, the two brothers discussed going to the woods in the mountains to pick wild fruits, so they left home early and climbed halfway up the mountain.
It was foggy in the mountain that day, Guo Qi asked his younger brother to wait under the tree with his basket, and went up to the tree himself to pick the fruits. After picking a basket full of fruits, when he jumped down, he noticed that his brother was nowhere to be seen and only his basket was there.
The ten-year-old boy immediately panicked, dropped the wild fruits, and shouted his brother’s name while searching, sweating profusely.
Later, he met some villagers who went up the mountain to chop firewood.
They helped him tell his family and also reported to the Yamen officials.
The Yamen dispatched officers, and they searched for a few days with the self-organized villagers, but they found no trace.
If it was said that he was dragged and eaten by a wild beast, they could still find some trace of bloodstains and wreckage, but Guo Lin seemed to have turned into a puff of smoke and disappeared without a trace.
Later, there were rumors in the village that the child was eaten by monsters in the mountains and was left with no remains.
As Guo Qi explained, tears were flowing down his eyes continuously.
“That day, when Uncle Wang found the corpse and came back to report to the Yamen officials.
This disciple was discussing the cooperation between the government and the townspeople next year with Gu Mingshun in the Yamen office.
Upon hearing Uncle Wang’s report, this disciple decided to go together with them to check the scene.
On the corpse’s wrist was a silver bell bracelet.
My brother also wore the same kind of bracelet.
It looked the same and was very similar in size.
I..I thought it was my brother who came back, but, but the child was not…” He raised his head and looked at Liang Zheng, “Master ,my brother, he…”
Liang Zheng sighed and patted his shoulder, “After so many years, don’t hold out too much hope.
Where have you been these days?”
“I went home,” Guo Qi wiped the corners of his eyes, “and found something.”
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