Stranger Danger

Chapter 3: Sea of Blood, Sarcophagus



Chapter 3: Sea of Blood, Sarcophagus

Bang!

A sudden bang startled Ye Qing so much he nearly jumped. When he looked, he realized that Lin Hu had kicked off the ground and was shooting toward the village entrance like an arrow. He reached his fellow watchmen in just the blink of an eye.

What incredible speed! Ye Qing swallowed as he stared at Lin Hu’s back. That speed, that power. Assuming that Chen Zheng was on the same level as Lin Hu, he had a long way to go before he could even begin to plot a reversal.

“What happened?” Lin Hu barked harshly as soon as he arrived at the village entrance.

“C-captain… B-behind us…” A terrified watchman stuttered out a response.

Lin Hu did not wait for the watchman to finish before taking one step forward and appearing on the village walls. Then, he stared at the distant sky with a severe expression on his face.

A moment ago, the sky was still light blue and clear like a tranquil lake. Now, an ominous red had consumed over half of the horizon. It looked similar to the fiery kiss of sunset, but it was so much redder that Lin Hu could not help but think of the color of fresh blood.

“Shit. Everyone, get back to your homes this instant!” the captain roared.

Maybe it was a coincidence, but the bloody crimson in the sky suddenly shuddered almost as if it was reacting to the captain’s shout. The next second, it churned violently and started flooding toward August Hill Village like an angry god.

It might actually be a literal sea of blood. Whatever blue that still remained in the sky was swiftly overtaken by ominous red as the powerful, stifling, terrifying presence of something unspeakable washed over the entire village. It was immediately followed by the thick stench of blood.

As it turned out, the pungent odor was even more extraordinary than it looked. All villagers who failed to return to their houses before the blood stench flooded the village suddenly slowed down and began bleeding from their pores. Their eyes grew bloodshot, and their expressions slowly subsided into blank apathy.

“Snap out of it! Get back to your homes, NOW!” Lin Hu shouted at the dazed villagers, but he was powerless to help them. Visitt nov𝒆lbin(.)c𝒐/m for the l𝒂test updates

“What the hell is this?” Ye Qing exclaimed in shock as he broke into a run toward the nearest house. However, he had only taken a few steps when the horrible smell assaulted his nostrils and robbed him of his faculties instantly. He then started bleeding like the other villagers as well.

It was at this moment the Annon Sutra emitted a dark glow. As if drawn by an invisible force, Ye Qing’s blood crawled over to the vellum before vanishing into the material. A few seconds later, its dark glow grew bigger until it wrapped tightly around Ye Qing like a bubble. It was only then the young man slowly regained his consciousness.

“That was too close!” Ye Qing heaved out a sigh of relief when he realized what just happened. After brushing his fingers across the Annon Sutra tucked beneath his shirt, he made a mad dash for a nearby haystack. He didn’t want anyone to notice that he was glowing like a black light bulb, and it wasn’t like the blood stench could affect him any longer. He dove head first into the haystack and reoriented himself to face toward the village entrance, revealing only a pair of eyes.

Meanwhile, the sea of blood in the sky had grown even bigger and scarier than before. It was now towering over the entire August Hill Village and dying everything bright red. It looked like it might crash down on them at any moment.

Swoosh! Swoosh!

Two silhouettes dashed across the streets like the wind and appeared next to Lin Hu. They looked up and stared intently at the sea of blood above their heads.

The newcomers were a man and a woman. The man was about thirty years old with an imposing build and a handsome face. His appearance would’ve been perfect if not for a triangular eye shape that gave him a cold, almost viper-like visage.

The woman was much older than the man. She had dirty white hair, saggy skin and a hunched back. Well into her fifties, she could’ve easily been mistaken for your stereotypical grandma if not for the fact that she was ten times lighter on her feet than most of her fellow villagers.

The duo were none other than the other two martial artists in August Hill Village besides Lin Hu. The man was Chen Zheng, and the woman was called Xia Ling. However, almost everyone in the village addressed her as Granny Xia.

“What in the world is that thing?” Chen Zheng asked with a deep frown as he attempted to make sense of the terrifying pressure looming over them.

Lin Hu shook his head. “I have no idea.”

Granny Xia coughed softly over her walking stick as something sharp and steely flickered in her cloudy eyes. “It doesn’t matter what it is, it’s clear we’re no match for it. I suggest that we bring out the Heavens’ Eye!”

“Agreed.”

Neither men objected to her words because it was the plain truth. They were no match for the sea of blood.

Thud.

Suddenly, an odd, muffled thud resounded from the sea of blood. It almost sounded like someone was knocking on a slab of stone. The next moment, the sea of blood parted to reveal a single sarcophagus.

The sarcophagus was greenish black in color and covered in intricate, arcane carvings. It exuded such an air of antiquity that it had to have existed for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years.

“It's that sarcophagus from…!” Lin Hu blurted in disbelief as all the blood drained away from his face.

“I thought it couldn’t move? How the hell did it come all the way here?” Chen Zheng was just as pale as the captain was. Large beads of sweat were forming on his forehead as well.

Thud.

The sarcophagus shuddered ominously once more, and the next thing they knew, the lid slowly began to slide open with an unpleasant screech. The same thought crossed everyone’s mind at the same time,

“Is there actually a body inside the sarcophagus? If there is, who could it be?”

The more the sarcophagus opened, the thicker the blood stench in the air became. There was even a tinge of something rotten. All three martial artists started bleeding from their pores as a terrifying aura encompassed what felt like the world itself.

“It must not be allowed to emerge from the sarcophagus! Otherwise, we’ll all die!” shouted Granny Xia as she abruptly sank into the floor and shattered the stone beneath her feet.

Both men agreed with her assessment. Together with Granny Xia, they formed a strange hand seal before firing a beam of light each at the ancient bronze mirror hung in front of the village entrance.

“Please answer our call, Heavens’ Eye!”

Hum…

Runes shaped like flowers, birds, fishes and insects suddenly came alive and swam all over the ordinary-looking bronze mirror. At the same time, the mirror itself began shining like the sun and emitting an epic halo of light.

Sizzle…

Over half of the sea of blood was vaporized just like that. The farther the light spread, the smaller the sea of blood became.

Creeeeeeeeeak!

It wasn’t over though. As if angered by the resistance, the sarcophagus’ lid was violently shoved aside before a spotlessly white hand slowly stretched out into the open. Then, it pressed downward in their direction.

A terrifying, crushing pressure pressed down on the entire August Hill Village in an instant. It felt like the sky itself was falling on top of them. Breath caught in their throat, and none could summon even the tiniest will to resist.

It was at this moment the ancient mirror grew brighter and hotter until finally, it fired a gigantic column of pure white at the descending palm.

Boooooom…

An explosion that was beyond description took place. There was no sound, but Ye Qing suddenly felt like an invisible boulder had hit him squarely in the chest. A mouthful of blood burst out of his lips before he realized what happened.

Granny Xia, Lin Hu and Chen Zheng were no exception. They too spat out a mouthful of blood before they hurriedly moved deeper into the village, their faces as white as a sheet.

A long time later, the storm of wind and fire that encompassed the entire sky gradually subsided. Both the sea of blood and the sarcophagus looked a little transparent as if they had suffered tremendous damage. They quickly vanished into the horizon after that.

“Phew… It’s finally gone!” Both Lin Hu and Chen Zheng heaved out a long sigh of relief.

“The Stranger in the sarcophagus has grown even stronger. I can hardly believe it took a full hit from Heavens’ Eye and survived!”

In stark contrast to the men’s relief, Granny Xia looked grim and worried. A hint of distress peeked through her wizened features when she glanced at the ancient mirror that had saved all their lives. It was now as dim and lifeless as an ordinary mirror.

“Holy shit! Is that what they call a Stranger?” Ye Qing muttered under his breath as he tried to calm his racing heartbeat. Having witnessed everything from his vantage point, he was honestly surprised that he and everyone else was still alive. The Stranger was just that scary. When the sarcophagus opened, and that hand had come into view, he almost thought he would pass on to the next life there and then. If it wasn’t for the mirror, that hand most assuredly would’ve flattened August Hill Village like a pancake.

Speaking of the mirror, who would’ve thought it was this powerful? mused Ye Qing. The ancient mirror was usually hung in front of the village entrance, and he had always believed it to be an ordinary ornament until today.

“Hmm? What’s this?”

Suddenly, Ye Qing noticed that a blade of grass in front of him was stained with something. It looked like a dark red crystal under the sunlight.

“Is this… blood?!”

The blood didn’t just look extraordinary, it was emanating an indescribable presence that even a common man like Ye Qing could pick up. At first, he wanted to get the hell away from it as soon as possible. Then, he realized what it was and perked up. “This is the blood from that Stranger in the sarcophagus, isn’t it? It has to be!”

The blood must’ve been spilled when the mirror attacked the Stranger, and it just so happened to have landed on his haystack.

Ye Qing licked his lips greedily as he took a moment to survey his surroundings. Once he confirmed that no one was looking his way, he immediately fished out a small salt container from his pocket, dumped all of its contents, and held it carefully before the grass tip. When he was ready, he gave the grass a feather-light tap and held his breath. The blood slowly slid off the blade before plopping into the bottle, leaving no trace behind.

The deed was done, but Ye Qing was still frowning. It was because the blood was still radiating a potent presence like the container didn’t even exist. How was he going to bring it home like this? Forget the three martial artists at the village entrance, even a villager would notice its presence if they were close enough. He would be in deep trouble if people found out that he was hiding the blood of a Stranger.

He could not discard the blood, however. It might just be what he needed to overcome his personal crisis.

“Oh right! The Annon Sutra!”

Ye Qing immediately pulled out the vellum from under his shirt and wrapped it around the bottle. It worked. The blood’s presence abruptly vanished like it was never there.

“I knew it! Thank the heavens!” Ye Qing exclaimed in delight before shoving the items underneath his shirt and close to his heart once more. It was only then he let out a sigh of relief.

“Mmmmrrrrgh…”

Suddenly, he heard a strange noise and felt a disgusting odor assaulting his nostrils yet again. He looked up instinctively and found himself staring at a blood-drenched face.

“Argh!”

Recognition struck Ye Qing even as a sharp cry escaped his lips. It belonged to a fellow villager who had failed to escape into the house in time. Not only was he covered from head to toe in blood, he was reaching out to Ye Qing as if trying to grab him!

Ye Qing subconsciously snatched a rock from the ground and smashed it against the villager’s temple. Then, he charged forward and knocked the man to the ground.

The brutish assault would’ve incapacitated most people, but the villager beneath him struggled fiercely as if he couldn’t feel any pain. He even opened his mouth and bit down on Ye Qing’s arm!


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