After Mu Yi came back, Li the Good didn’t ask anything. Mu Yi said he wanted to stay there for one more day but Li the Good didn’t mind.
He was neither blind nor deaf. He had heard and saw what had happened. Mu Yi came back safe and sound. Even if they stayed for one more day, they’d be safe. Mu Yi had given him lots of money anyway. He could live for a whole year with the amount Mu Yi had given to him.
The manager of the Kang Clan had died. Only the servants were left. They prepared some food for Mu Yi during the day. Big Slave ate happily. Li the Good ate so much that his mouth was covered with oil at the end. Only Mu Yi ate a little bit. He meditated after. In the afternoon, he made some charms.
It was the first time he made charms since his battle against Qu Yang. Usually, when they were traveling, he spent his time carrying out the sacrificial ritual of the Bamboo Tree of Life or stabilizing his cultivation. Having a break to make some charms was a good thing.
He hadn’t made charms for a while but that didn’t mean anything. He hadn’t forgotten how to make charms. His mind strength had become more powerful after all. He found that making charms was easier than before.
Mu Yi stayed in his room the entire afternoon. There was a large pile of charms on the right side of the table at the end of the day. Most of them were exorcism charms and evil spirit slaying charms. On the left side, there were only two charms. However, the two charms couldn’t be compared with the pile of charms on the right. The two charms were extraordinary.
The two charms were five thunders charms. They were also the best charms Mu Yi knew how to make. If Mu Yi could have as many five thunders charms as he wished, he wouldn’t need to fear anyone. Unfortunately, he could only have five of the charms at once at his cultivation level.
His brush danced above the yellow paper. The brush was made of yellow weasel hair. As Mu Yi drew the brush produced pale white light. It didn’t seem real. The white lights entered the paper.
When Mu Yi finished the last stroke, the lights flickered. The five thunders charm rose up in the air and flashed for a few seconds. It landed back on the table after. Mu Yi was delighted. Even though the five thunders charm didn’t seem different from the two others, Mu Yi knew it was different.
After that, he put another sheet of paper in front of him and continued drawing. He didn’t rest at all. He continued making five thunders charms. Mu Yi looked happier as time passed..
Without noticing it, his Qi changed. It felt strange to him. His success rate had increased. In the past, he had never managed to make five thunder charms one after another. This time, not only did he succeed, but he didn’t even notice it. It felt so easy.
Mu Yi didn’t continue after that. He put his brush aside and closed his eyes. He opened his eyes and smiled. He picked up all the charms he had made.
As for the village, the situation hadn’t been lively for a very long time. Some people from the Kang Clan had been killed. Even the woman who had a memorial arch in her honor had died. Everybody remained silent about the sex scandals.
The Kang Clan, the Zhang Clan and the Zhao Clan were three rival powers and they stood like the legs of a tripod. They all had power and influence. The Zhang and the Zhao clans started joining hands and the Kang Clan had collapsed.
The two clans wanted a Taoist priest to come and hold Daoist ceremonies for the Dead. It required someone to remove any resentful Qi to preserve the serenity of the village. Even though the dead were respected, the living were still more important.
The two clans asked Mu Yi if he could do the ritual. There were many offerings in front of the altars. Initially, people from the village wanted to watch but the two clans made them leave. Only those who had prestige and influence were allowed to stay.
Mu Yi arrived in Zhao Quan’s territory during the second of the five night watch periods (from 9PM to 11PM) only. If it hadn’t been for Mu Yi, they would have all slept much earlier. After Mu Yi arrived, he noticed Xue Wu. Why hadn’t he gone back to the county town? Mu Yi didn’t ask him why he was still there. He slowly walked to the altar.
The altar was a small temple. It had a gate but it wasn’t high. Mu Yi stood in front of it. A few words were written on it, “To those who had high principles and left behind a good reputation”. On both sides of the gate, there were a few words as well, “arch in the honor of graceful women” and “temple in the honor of virtuous women”.
When Mu Yi saw that, he smiled. Maybe in the beginning, women were really virtuous but it had probably changed with time. As Mu Yi had said, how many souls were inside and maybe didn’t deserve it? Tears and blood had been given up for honor and money.
At least, when Mu Yi traveled with the old Taoist Priest, he had seen such things. He had met a widow who had been hounded to death by her mother-in-law because she wanted her to be honored in a temple. On top of that, the government could give them thirty Liang silver.
The names of chaste and virtuous women were recorded in local annals. The emperors even personally wrote poems for such women. Chaste women were then remembered throughout history. In some places, it was even more serious. If a clan didn’t have a chaste woman, then other clans considered them to be impure. It was a bit absurd but it existed.
In such circumstances, women who had lost their husbands were doomed to live miserable lives. Mu Yi had noticed Zhao Quan and the other old man’s reactions. He noticed some resentful Qi around them. Mu Yi knew there was something wrong in the village based on that and considering what had already happened.
They used to have doubts but now they saw it with their own eyes. Mu Yi realized his vision was too simplistic. The resentful Qi was thick and dense, much thicker than what Mu Yi had imagined. It seemed to be suppressed by something, however, it wouldn’t disappear.
“When was this temple built? Has anything strange ever happened in the mausoleum?” asked Mu Yi.
Zhao Quan wasn’t sure how to respond but spoke anyway.
“It was built around sixty years ago, around 1840. Back then, a xiucai (translator’s note: a xiucai is someone who passed the imperial examination at the county level in the Ming and Qing dynasties) built the temple and wrote the tablets himself. He used his money to build the temple. He died a while ago,” Zhao Quan said.
“Has anything strange ever happened?” said Zhao Quan frowning and thinking.
“One night, ten years ago, people heard thunder and the roof of the mausoleum was struck by lightning,” said someone.
“Ten years ago?” said Mu Yi, “Does the xiucai have any children?”
“No, they’re all dead,” said Zhao Quan without hesitation.
““Are you sure?” asked Mu Yi.
“Yes. Actually, when the xiucai died, he had a young son but he died before reaching the age of two. He suddenly fell ill and died,” said Zhao Quan.
“Have many men die suddenly in the last few years?” asked Mu Yi.
“A lot indeed. We asked many doctors for help but many men still died even though nobody harmed them,” said Zhao Quan.
They had also noticed the abnormal death rate amongst the men.
“Do you consecrate all your women in there?” asked Mu Yi.
“Only chaste women.” said Zhao Quan.
“Including those who died from being persecuted?” said Mu Yi mockingly.
Zhao Quan’s face stiffened. He didn’t have a reply.
“Alright, move back now,” said Mu Yi.
He decided to ignore Zhao Quan. He made them walk away from the altar. When Zhao Quan and the others were far enough, Mu Yi put the Bamboo Tree of Life on the table. He took out a few exorcism charms.
The old men and Xue Wu were soon surrounded by white lights. Their hearts twitched. They wanted to escape but then they realized the white lights were harmless. When the white lights entered their bodies, they felt nice and warm. It was as if they had been cleansed.
“That’s… theurgy!” said one of the old men shaking.
He was shocked. His legs felt weak. He felt that his body was now filled with strength. He felt powerful. It could only be theurgy. The old men thought it was theurgy but Xue Wu had seen a lot in life. When he sensed the changes in his body, he only looked pleasantly surprised.
Initially, he had gone back and had hesitated all day on whether to inform his superiors of what had happened or not. One full day was enough to gather enough people. Finally, he had decided not to do that. Some unexplained event that called for a supernatural explanation had happened so he wanted to see what Mu Yi intended to do.
He had come back. Nothing had started but he could see incredible things. He thought that it was good he hadn’t informed his superiors!