Chapter 25: Bury the hatchet (Part One)
“Fenghuo woke up,” Wangyue called out to Ouyang Hongye.
“Good. I can’t block them anymore. There’re too many feeder death ghosts and they are so persistent!” Ouyang Hongye complained, “Let’s retreat into Nanzhe Palace and close the gate. It’ll save us time and energy to deal with only the ghosts in the palace.”
“Good idea! Let’s find a quiet place to take a break. I need to drink some water. This fellow is so heavy!” Wangyue panted out the words as he shifted Fenghuo’s weight.
“You just want to drink some wine!”
Ouyang Hongye teased him as he cut off a ghost’s head with his Burning Flame. The most charming part about him was that he could be as playful as a child even whilst in danger; sometimes, even men couldn’t resist his charm.
Fenghuo was still a bit dazed and his legs were still weak. Wangyue struggled to keep him up since his size was much larger than Wangyue’s. His brain urged him to come back to his senses and join the fight that he had started, but his legs didn’t take his orders.
“Don’t force yourself to fight. Your nervous system was affected by the sound waves from those feeder death ghosts. With your nerves numbed and controlled by them, you can’t muster any strength; if you force it, you’ll damage your nervous system. Now that you’ve regained your consciousness, wait for a moment and you’ll move freely soon,” Ouyang Hongye reminded him.
Fenghuo was resentful that he had become his companion’s burden; he yelled to them, “Leave me in an old house and do what you need to do.”
“Ever since Lord Yong and Elder Cheng sent us to search for the sky rune, we’ve been a team no matter whether you admit it or not. When you lost your consciousness a moment ago, your life became our responsibility; we’ll ever leave a brother behind. So stop saying the stupid words of leaving you behind!” Ouyang Hongye said firmly; his playful look had disappeared, and he looked like a leader reprimanding his subordinate.
Fenghuo had known Ouyang Hongye’s excellent talent in leadership beneath his flippant veneer; teams led by Ouyang Hongye could always defeat enemies with greater strength or number because he was extremely intelligent and flexible. A descendant of the Red Hair Fox King, he had supported Ouyang Xueye silently as his most loyal subordinate and loving brother.
After Ouyang Xueye and Ran Susu died in the battle, he had taken their son Ouyang Xiaoleng under his wing and protected him from troubles in and out of the spirit world. His loyalty and devotion to love had become a legend in the capital city. Some people in the city were still not happy to see Ouyang Xiaoleng ascend the throne, but Fenghuo knew all of the people admired Ouyang Hongye for his integrity.
Now, Fenghuo’s respect for him reached a new height. After all, he could have left Fenghuo to the ghosts since they came from different parties and were loyal to different masters. But Hongye had saved him; they had never thought of giving him up even though he had brought great trouble to them.
Fenghuo teared up, touched by their integrity, kinship, and gallantry. He was a forthright man; if they were in a peaceful time, he’d be good friends with Wangyue since he loved drinking wine, too; he’d be good friends with Ouyang Hongye instead of rivals.
“Fenghuo, you’re familiar with the interior of Nanzhe City. Tell us the easiest route to reach the palace.”
Ouyang Hongye’s voice interrupted his wandering thoughts.
Fenghuo answered weakly, “There’s no easiest route now.
Ouyang Hongye smiled indifferently. “Then choose the nearest route.”
Wangyue braced himself for more fighting. “Let’s take this road and kill our way in. I haven’t had a good fight for a long time. These fellows are so weak.”
Ouyang Hongye shook his Burning Flame in the air to get rid of the stains from killing feeder death ghosts and got ready for the next wave of attacks from the ghosts.
They took the widest street in the middle line of the city and charged toward the old palace. Wide and well-paved, it had been the business center of the city and they could see traces of the previous prosperity including some dilapidated booths and bottles and cans on shelves; the silk cloths covering the bottles had decayed. The closer to the old palace they got, the more ghosts they saw. Wangyue had to help Fenghuo walk, leaving only Ouyang Hongye to battle the ghosts, which slowed down their progress.
By taking this street, they could see the advances of their enemies clearly, but it offered few obstacles to help them block the ghosts’ attacks. Ouyang Hongye hacked off the attackers’ heads with his Burning Flame and blocked the others with the Wind Move Leaf Dance. Although the ghosts were just corpses, the blood from their necks after their heads were chopped off was bright red. The ground covered in red blood glittered like beaten gold; suddenly Hongye remembered that this street’s name was Golden Street and each stone that paved the ground was coated in gold foil, which showed how obsessed the late city master had been with gold. The gold foil covering the bricks formed the pattern of peonies; covered in red blood, they looked like flowers blooming from the underground. The sight was stunningly beautiful with the pungent smell of blood. As the entire city was engulfed in thick fog, Ouyang Hongye didn’t know what time it was or how long he had been fighting. Gradually, he began to feel tired and his movements were not as brisk as before.
“How far are we from the old palace?” Ouyang Hongye asked Fenghuo without looking back.
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