Chapter 282: The Six Branches of the Zhang Family

As Senior Shu started chanting, the red-haired rat bit the man like crazy.

The man in black was up against a little rat, but he didn’t have the power to counterattack. He could only screech and hiss in pain.

I did not waste any time and hurried to find a rope to tie him.

However, the man in black was really bold. At this critical moment, he didn’t even care about his face… Since he couldn’t get rid of the red-haired rat, he directly cut off his face. He threw the piece of skin aside then jumped through the window.

Senior Shu was also shocked. “This man is not only cruel to others but also cruel to himself.”

Then, he prepared to run after the escapee.

However, even though the man had lost his facial skin, it did not affect his gait. He quickly disappeared into the lush forest outside the village.

I took a deep breath and still felt fearful after thinking about what just happened. If Senior Shu hadn’t come, my life would have been over this time.

I couldn’t thank him enough and said to him with sincerity, “Senior Shu, thank you for your help! You saved my life this time!”

Senior Shu gave me one of his wretched smiles. “Are you going to thank me with words alone? Shouldn’t you be a little more practical?”

I smiled and said, “Senior, just tell me what you want!”

Senior Shu wasn’t poor, and he had no interest in beautiful women. Only otherworldly items could arouse his interest.

Senior Shu said, “I have only one request. Go to that ancient tomb and get me one and a half kilograms of Corpse Scattered Essence after we’re done with this matter.”

I nodded and said, “No problem. That ancient tomb is filled with nothing but Corpse Scattered Essence.”

“Good, remember your words. Don’t regret it later, kiddo! Anyway, let’s reunite with Li Mazi.”

Senior Shu’s presence was unexpected to me. On the way, I asked him, “Why have you come to the Heavenly Dragon Lake?”

“It was not convenient for Chuyi to meddle, so he asked me to help you.”

“Why was it inconvenient for him to help me?”

Senior Shu gave a mysterious smile. “Because it’s our family’s business, and he’s just an outsider. If he pokes his nose into this, he’ll break the rules.”

Senior Shu’s words shocked me, and I couldn’t fully process all the information. I looked at the old man with a questioning gaze.

Senior Shu clasped his hands behind his back. “Kid, you come in contact with otherworldly items every day, but you don’t even know your ancestors, do you?”

I shook my head. I really didn’t know.

“Before the Qing dynasty, our Zhang family used to be the number one family in the world of otherworldly merchants; it was far stronger than the Longquan Villa. However, the family later split into six branches and each family line developed their own style. Some branches gradually declined while others became stronger. But even those branches that were strengthened, they were nowhere near as strong as the old Zhang family…”

He continued, “Anyway, do not look down on the Zhang family’s six branches. Normally, they ignore each other and are even willing to kill the other party over an otherworldly item. But if the Longquan Villa dares to go and destroy the Zhang family, the six branches will reunite and put their grudge aside to focus on dealing with the Longquan Villa. That’s why the Longquan Villa came up with this petty plan. They decided to deal with the various branches starting from the weakest one. Your family branch was basically ruined by the time you inherited the business. Moreover, you’re still a rookie, so it’s very easy to deal with you.”

As Senior Shu slowly explained the situation, I was shocked. What’s going on? Isn’t this just a circle of otherworldly merchants? Why does this stuff look even more complicated than the world of cultivators?!

I looked at Senior Shu with a puzzled and questioning face.

Senior Shu waved his hand. “We don’t have time right now. We should reunite with Li Mazi! If the folks get him, it would be bad.”

I nodded. We were indeed short of time, so I hurried to follow Senior Shu to search for Li Mazi.

As soon as we got out of the village, we saw the horde of villagers return. They all looked excited and cheerful. I wondered why they were so happy.

Senior Shu nudged me and said, “See the shorty over there? Go and get him. We need to ask him what happened.”

I took a deep breath and smeared some mud on my face. Then, I mingled into the back of the group.

That shorty seemed to be hurt as he had to limp the entire time. Eventually, he was ditched and fell behind the team.

When the rest of the crowd wasn’t paying attention to him, I quickly took the chance to gently pat his shoulder. The short man was confused and slowly turned his head to one side to look at me.

I smiled at him. Then, before he could react, I choked him with my arm and pressed him onto the ground to prevent him from struggling.

His fearful eyes turned furious. He looked as if I had slept with his wife. The extreme wrath boosted his strength, and he started to wiggle hard to escape my hold.

I couldn’t subdue him alone. If he got out of my stranglehold, all of the villagers would know.

Senior Shu hurried to help me. However, when he wasn’t using his tricks, he was just a weak old guy that didn't have much strength.

Left with no choice, Senior Shu chanted a spell to summon his life-bound rat. The rat jumped onto the shorty’s face. Immediately after, the shorty stopped resisting and fainted.

I exhaled in relief. Since we couldn’t linger there, I hurled the shorty over my shoulder and carried him away before the folks noticed his absence.

However, not long after we had started running, I felt a cold sickle on my neck.

My heart chilled as I thought that the villagers had set up an ambush.

Senior Shu was startled and said, “Li Mazi, what are you doing?!”

What’s going on? I felt that my brain was not working properly.

Li Mazi is the one who’s threatening me? I turned my head and really saw Li Mazi.

He looked furious. His eyes were red and his jaw clenched.

“Senior Shu, don’t let him fool you! He’s not our Brother Zhang, because Brother Zhang is dead already.”

“What the heck are you talking about?” I glared at him. “If I’m not Zhang Jiulin, who am I?”

”The real Brother Zhang is dead. I saw him die with my own eyes,” Li Mazi spat coldly.

I was baffled. What’s gotten into Li Mazi?

We hurried to ask him what had happened.

Li Mazi then told us the whole story.

It turned out that while Li Mazi was hiding, he saw a large number of villagers pass by. They all looked very happy, just like a batch of triumphant soldiers.

Li Mazi immediately thought that they had found me as that would explain why they looked so happy.

He took a closer look and scanned the group of folks. Then, he really saw me among them.

I looked absentminded. I took one step and then staggered the next three steps as if I was tipsy. I couldn’t even walk in a straight line.

The folks grabbed me and pulled me back to the village.

Li Mazi knew that acting recklessly would only harm me further, so he didn’t jump out to save me at that time.

However, to his surprise, as soon as the villagers left, I appeared before his eyes once more. It had only been a short time, so it was impossible for me to escape and come back here from the village. That was why he thought I was impersonating myself.

After Li Mazi finished his story, I was perplexed. How could there be another me?

I didn’t take a close look at that group of people, so I didn’t know if Li Mazi was telling us the truth.

While I was thinking, Senior Shu came to me and pinched my mouth open.

I was startled. Did Senior Shu think that I was fake too? Right when I was about to talk, Senior Shu stopped me, “Do not talk. Let me see…”

Senior Shu carefully checked my mouth and tongue. A moment later, his face darkened. I could detect a hint of fear in his eyes.

"What happened?” I asked.

“Have you ever swallowed the Corpse Scattered Essence?”

I immediately remembered how the ghost in red had given me a French kiss, so I nodded.

Senior Shu slapped his thigh. “That’s bad. Your fate was replicated and then bonded with someone else. It was dim earlier, so Li Mazi didn’t see the person clearly. That’s why he mistook you for that man. Anyway, you guys have the same aura now, and only the expression in your eyes is different. If the villagers kill the other person, you'll also be affected. We have to go to the village now!”

I was bewildered and couldn’t believe what I’d just heard. My fate was replicated? How could someone replicate another person’s fate? Furthermore, not even Li Mazi, who knows me well, could tell that the other party was a fake…

Anyway, if the villagers killed that man, I would be in trouble as well!

That was truly unfortunate. I had tried my best to be cautious, but they still got me. “Senior Shu, is there any way to solve this?”

Senior Shu kept silent for a while. “There is no solution. We have to forcibly bring that man here to break the relation between your fate and his fate.”

I understood and gave him a nod.

Li Mazi was still perplexed. He gingerly asked Senior Shu, “Is this guy the real Brother Zhang?”

Senior Shu nodded and said, “Of course.”

Li Mazi heaved a sigh of relief and almost crouched on the ground. “Thank goodness you weren’t captured!”

“Still, who is that?” Li Mazi finally noticed the shorty I had abducted.

I told him, “He’s someone from the fishing village. We can get more information from him!”

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