Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Going back was much faster than coming, with Tang Jie and Yiyi flying straight back to Daoxiang Village.
Midway, Tang Jie had a sudden urge and flew up to the Astral Winds.
Upon arriving at the Astral Wind altitudes, he felt an immense energy raging around him. Having already experienced it once, Tang Jie was well aware of how terrifying the Astral Winds were. He was much weaker in his unmerged state, yet as he looked at the green Astral Flames burning before him, he took in a deep breath and then charged into the storm.
The moment he entered, Astral Winds assailed him from all sides like countless shrieking devils. As they tore away at his body, he hastily performed the Parting Classic.
As the Parting Classic activated, Tang Jie felt slivers of energy beginning to enter his body.
Last time, the situation had been too urgent, but this time, Tang Jie had the time to intentionally sense this energy's existence.
Tang Jie found that exactly what he expected was occurring. The Astral Winds weren't actually giving much of a boost to his cultivation, and it had previously seemed that way primarily because he had originally been only a sliver away from a breakthrough. But the energy he was absorbing was the essence of the Astral Flames, which could be used to increase his resistance to the Astral Winds.
If he spent a long time bathing in the Astral Winds, he would eventually be able to freely travel through the Astral Winds without needing to be in a merged state, and he would also not have to worry about attacks of this nature.
Upon realizing this, Tang Jie decided to cultivate within the Astral Wind region.
As he was on the edge of the storm, Tang Jie would retreat whenever he reached his limit, recovering before heading back to continue his cultivation.
This cultivation session lasted ten-some days.
Tang Jie cultivated like a maniac, barely resting. If he wasn't tempering himself in the storm, he was recovering as quickly as he could outside the storm, waiting to go in. It was an endless cycle.
When he was thirsty or hungry, he would use those fiends to sate himself. He was using large quantities of energy, and the blood energy of fiends was perfect for restoring all of it. He ended up eating many of the more than a thousand fiend corpses, and even Tang Jie was alarmed by the number.
It now seemed like a long period of cultivation in the Astral Winds also required a large amount of fiend meat and blood.
The Parting Classic was the same as ever, requiring resources for everything.
Fortunately, he had destroyed an entire city, which had gotten Tang Jie enough fiends. Moreover, their blood energy meant that they wouldn't rot within ten-some days, which left enough time for Tang Jie to seal them with secret arts so that he could consume them more slowly.
After ten-some days of cultivation, Tang Jie had gone from being able to stay in the storm region for two to three minutes to around fifteen minutes, which was remarkable progress.
But all this nonstop cultivation had also pushed Tang Jie to his mental limit. The pain from having one's body constantly torn at by the storm wasn't something an ordinary person could endure. It could be compared to death by a thousand cuts, and this had gone on for ten-some days. Even with Tang Jie's tough will, he was feeling dead inside, appearing dazed and depressed.
Thus, Tang Jie had no choice but to stop cultivating for a few days so that he could recover his mental state, so he returned to Daoxiang Village with Yiyi.
Tang Jie arrived at the village in the afternoon. To his surprise, white banners had been put up and the sounds of sobbing could be heard. It seemed that someone had died.
Tang Jie hastily went inside and saw that a crowd had gathered in front of the village's ancestral hall, where six tablets were on display.
Six people had died? Tang Jie was stunned, and he knew that these probably weren't natural deaths.
The old village chief, Cheng Shan, was seated in front of the memorial tablets, shaking his head as he wept. The crowd behind him was also weeping on their knees, and behind the tablets were six bodies, wrapped in white cloth.
Yiyi couldn't help but ask, "What happened?"
A villager turned upon hearing her voice and spotted them, after which he staggered back like he had seen a ghost and shouted, "They're back!"
He ran off to the ancestral hall.
The other villagers turned their heads, and when they saw Tang Jie, their expressions turned strange. That auntie who had given Tang Jie porridge once even lunged at him, but she was held back by the others. Unable to break free, she plopped onto the ground and began to weep.
Tang Jie asked, "Might I ask what happened here?"
The villagers simply stared at him. It was ultimately the village chief who coughed and said, "Don't be like this. Hurry and invite our guest in."
The villagers gave way.
Going down the path opened up by the villagers, Tang Jie went up to the old village chief and looked at the memorial tablets behind him. "It seems like something happened here while I was gone?"
The village chief sighed. "It's all fate. The two of you meant well, so you can't be blamed for this. It's just that everyone is rather agitated, so I seek your forgiveness, O Immortal."
Tang Jie frowned. "Village Chief, it sounds like the death of these six villagers is related to me. But I have not been in the village these last few days, so I do not know why I have brought calamity to the village."
"It's all because of that damned butterfly of yours!" the auntie wailed. "My poor son was beaten to death by that Bai Clan!"
"'Butterfly'?" Tang Jie was startled, and then he felt Yiyi's hand tighten. Turning to look, he saw that Yiyi had turned ghastly pale.
Tang Jie immediately recalled that red jade butterfly he had seen in Yiyi's hands ten-some days ago.
He sternly asked, "You gave the jade butterfly to them?"
Yiyi dropped her head. "They wanted it… I thought it would be okay if I gave them one… I told him not to show it to anyone else."
After a moment of shock, Tang Jie sighed.
He turned to Cheng Shan and said, "Village Chief, please tell me the entire story."
The old man told him.
It was actually quite simple.
Two days ago was the day the villagers went to the city. On this day, many villagers entered the city as a group to sell off their goods and buy some things their family needed. This was rather common in farming villages located somewhat far from cities. Er Shouzi's parents were in this group, and they brought their son with them.
Events proceeded naturally. While the villagers sold their goods, Er Shouzi went off to play in the area on his own.
Although Yiyi had told him not to show off the butterfly, how could children possibly restrain themselves? The city had all sorts of nice things to dazzle the eyes, and when he saw something he liked but couldn't afford, his ego got the better of him, and he took out the butterfly.
This caused trouble, as the young master of a certain Bai Clan who happened to be passing by saw the butterfly as something special and sought to buy it. But Er Shouzi refused, so that Young Master Bai lost his patience and had the child beaten. He then took the butterfly and left Er Shouzi two taels of silver.
If only things had ended there.
Er Shouzi went running off to his parents.
The villagers of Daoxiang were rather temperamental, and when they saw that a child had been bullied and robbed, they chased after the offender. The two sides got into a fight, and in the end, three lives were lost—two from the village and one from the Bai Estate.
Afterward, the government came forward and judged that the villagers had been greedy robbers. Not only did the villagers lose the lawsuit, three more of them were beaten to death.
After the remaining villagers returned, a wife of one of the deceased villagers, who had been pregnant, was so distressed by the news that she had a premature birth, which resulted in the death of both mother and child—another two lives lost.
Six bodies and seven lives! The entire village was drowned in grief and anger.
This series of horrific events stunned Tang Jie and Yiyi.
Yiyi dumbly said, "I didn't think… I really didn't think that this would happen… Big Brother!"
She grabbed Tang Jie's hand and looked up tearfully at him, her expression pathetic to behold.𝑏𝑒𝘥𝑛𝑜𝑣𝑒𝘭.𝘯𝑒𝑡
Tang Jie's heart softened, and he stroked her face and said, "I know… I know you didn't do this on purpose… but you must know that you aren't free from blame just because it wasn't on purpose. What's wrong is wrong, so you have to bravely accept the consequences. Do you understand?"
"Mm…" Yiyi tearfully nodded.
Tang Jie turned to Cheng Shan and said, "Village Chief, I understand the reason for these events. This started because of the butterfly Yiyi gifted, so there is no denying her connection. For gifting something she shouldn't have, she holds half the responsibility, but only half. The villagers were rash in their actions, so they should reflect on their own conduct."
The village chief nodded. "This old man understands. In the end, they were too impulsive, or else things never would have gone this far. Placing the fault on you two is simply because they feel sad and helpless. Please do not take it to heart."
"It's fine," Tang Jie replied. "Regardless, as Yiyi has some responsibility, then I have some responsibility. I will take charge in this matter and seek justice for everyone."
The village chief was startled. "Sir, don't be rash. The Bai Clan is a big family in the city. They have been working with the officials and merchants for ages, or else that dog official wouldn't have taken three more lives from my village. Sir is an extraordinary individual, but you are no match for these local tyrants!"
He could sense that Tang Jie was a powerful figure, but he didn't know how powerful, and he was worried that Tang Jie might bite off more than he could chew. Most importantly, if he was overestimating himself, the village would suffer an even greater tragedy.
The villagers' rashness had cost them six lives. If Tang Jie was rash, the entire village might be wiped out.
Tang Jie knew what the old man was afraid of and coolly said, "Village Chief, be at ease. No matter what I do, it won't affect you…"
He was going to say that he didn't plan to act in the name of Daoxiang Village, but at this moment, a villager ran over and shouted, "Bad news! Er Hu is gone!"
Everyone turned their heads, and the village chief tottered over. "Do you know where he went?"
The villager shook his head. "I don't know, but the hunting knife and bow he had hung up on the wall are gone."
Everyone was alarmed, and the village chief stamped his cane on the ground. "Curses! He must have gone after the Bai Clan, since his uncle was among those who died! When Er Hu's parents passed away, it was his uncle who raised him."
Tang Jie quickly asked, "How long has he been gone?"
The villagers shook their heads.
It turned out that nobody had noticed when Er Hu had left, only that he hadn't been seen since last night. It was just that everyone had been busy with their funeral arrangements and too saddened to notice.
"In other words, he's probably at the Bai Clan already," Tang Jie slowly said.
Oh no, who could have expected the butterfly that Yiyi gave away to turn out poorly?