Ding Nan awoke to complete darkness. Where am I? Why is it so dark in here? She groaned and reached up to rub her eyes—
She gasped. Where are my hands? My legs?! My… My—
She couldn't see her own body.
Her whole body was gone.
Ding Nan screamed and screamed, hoping that this was all just a dream. Maybe she had gotten drunk after Li Yundong had humiliated her. Maybe this was all just a sick, twisted nightmare.
She stopped screaming when a strange and foreign sensation washed over her. She tried to sense her body again, to move her arms and legs, but she couldn't. It was like she was conscious of her own limbs and body (as in she knew that she still had a body), but she just couldn't see it.
What the f*ck happened to her? Was she dead? Did those bastards kill her? Had she turned into a ghost, like the one she saw before she got trapped in this f*cked up place?
Shafts of light tore through the darkness. Shortly after that, the darkness fell away, and she found herself in a new place.
A place full of... clouds? What the f*ck? Was she flying?
"Ah... I see you're finally here... Took you long enough..."
Ding Nan gasped. That voice...
It was the ghost.
Her vision shifted the moment she willed herself to scan her surroundings.
White fluffy clouds were all she saw. She didn't see the green apparition anywhere.
"Ooh. So you're looking for me, huh?"
Anger rose inside Ding Nan. She had had enough of being toyed, of being at another woman's mercy. She hated it when Zhou Qin did it to her, and she hated it now.
"Show yourself!" Ding Nan yelled.
"Ooh... feisty," said the ghost. "I like it."
Ding Nan shrieked when the green apparition suddenly appeared in front of her.
"Y-You bitch!" Ding Nan yelled.
The ghost smirked. "I have a name, you know? I thought I told you already? It's Lyu Fengping." The ghost laugh smugly. "You ought to remember it."
"I don't give a damn what your name is!" Ding Nan screamed. "Where am I? And what do you want from me?!"
"Tsk, tsk, tsk...So feisty," said Lyu Fengping.
"Answer me, goddammit!"
Lyu Fengping smirked. "Take a look around. This is your Spirit Space."
Her spirit what?
Wait a minute. Was this ghost responsible for the attack on Li Yundong during the performance?
"Where is my body," Ding Nan growled. "Why can't I see my body?"
"Aww, you poor thing. I guess you've never had an experience like this before, huh? You must be freaking out," said Lyu Fengping. "Here. Why don't I make it easier for you?"
Ding Nan gasped when her body suddenly popped into view. Her body was fine though. Her limbs were intact. There wasn't even a scratch on her.
At the moment, her body was hovering above the clouds.
What the hell is this?
"How's that for an illusion." Lyu Fengping's apparition flitted around Ding Nan. "Nice, isn't it? That should be able to calm you down, I suppose. Do you feel more comfortable now?"
"Illusion?" Ding Nan snarled. "What the f*ck is that supposed to mean, you bitch?"
Lyu Fengping's apparition stopped moving around and hovered in front of Ding Nan's face. The woman seemed displeased with her eyes were narrowing and her green face morphing into a scowl. "I told you I have a name." That green head shook slightly. "Tsk, tsk, tsk. So forgetful... Oh well. I guess it doesn't matter. Soon, you won't be able to remember anything anyway. You'll be gone from this world like you never existed." A smirk spread over that green, transparent face. "Your beautiful body will still exist though. But it will be mine. Your soul would be mine too…"
This f*cking bitch was planning to kill her and then claim her body as her own!
Grr... Like hell I'm gonna go down without a fight!
"Hmm..." Lyu Fengping said. "I guess you're almost ready."
"Ready for what?"
Lyu Fengping laughed. "Oh, you'll see soon enough..." Lyu Fengping stopped laughing and moved closer to Ding Nan.
Ding Nan swung her arm and tried to slap Lyu Fengping. Her hand passed straight through Lyu Fengping's head.
"Stop fighting me," said Lyu Fengping. "It's pointless. Just be obedient and it'll be all over soon. It won't hurt as long as you don't resist me."
"Go to hell!" Ding Nan growled, then pounced on Lyu Fengping.
Zheng Yuan was absolutely shocked by the return of his beloved disciple Lyu Fengping two months ago. He had been expecting her return, of course. He just didn't expect her to return without a body!
Oh, her body! That beautiful body of hers! The same body which he had spent nights showering with love and adoration.
However, Zheng Yuan's shock turned into rage when he found out later on that some guy who had just passed the Zhuji phase had single-handedly destroyed Ping'er's beautiful body, not to mention reduced Wu Hao's (another one of his disciples) to a pile of ashes, blood, and gore!
That son of a bitch!
The Yin Yang Sect had never suffered a humiliation of such scale ever since he took on the mantle as Head.
This was unacceptable!
Unfortunately, Ping'er didn't manage to get the guy's name. The guy was smart enough not to boast or leave his name after he'd defeated two of his disciples. But it wouldn't matter. Zheng Yuan had other ways to find the bastard. The guy could hide his name, but he couldn't hide his moves.
Buddhist magic, according to Ping'er. One of the tantric mudras, apparently. Hadn't seen one of those in ages. Powerful stuff too. But most importantly, it was a valuable piece of information, one that would lead Zheng Yuan straight to the guy. All he had to do was look towards the monks. If the guy was using Buddhist magic, then he must have some ties to the monks.
If Zheng Yuan could find that connection, he would be able to find the guy. Simple as that.
That wasn't to say, of course, that Zheng Yuan hadn't encountered any resistance while trying to follow that lead: that damned guardian sentinel kept getting in his way.
In the end, Zheng Yuan had resorted to sending a few of his spies to get the information from one of the pilgrims. It wouldn't take much at all to loosen the pilgrim's tongue. All it took was a bunch of curious tourists (Zheng Yuan's spies), and the pilgrim was soon prattling on about the "living incarnation of Mahakala" walking amongst them.
Finally. The bastard had a name.
Unfortunately, Zheng Yuan's problem didn't end there. He had gotten a name, so next he had to put a face to that name.
The problem was that Li Yundong was such a common name in this country that it would take forever to identify him even though Ping'er recognized the guy's face. So, Zheng Yuan had to find another way to narrow down his search.
In the end, it was a crucial detail in the pilgrim's story that provided Zheng Yuan with the breakthrough he needed: Li Yundong had traveled to Tibet on foot.
In only took Zheng Yuan a week to trace this "mysterious jogger with a bulky backpack" to the outskirts of Tiannan City.
Zheng Yuan laughed and glanced down at the unconscious woman on the bed. It was only yesterday that he and Ping'er had arrived at Tiannan City to track down that bastard. They wouldn't attack him yet, of course. The guy was wielding the Fan of Seven Treasures after all. And according to Ping'er, he was powerful enough to simultaneously take out both Ping'er and Wu Hao with relative ease. Attacking him without more intel would be foolish. They had to research him first, find out his weaknesses, something that they could exploit. Once they found out his weakness, Zheng Yuan would end the bastard's life and avenge his disciples.
According to the pilgrim's story, Li Yundong was a university student, so Zheng Yuan figured they would begin the search at Tiannan University, which was where he had been heading towards tonight.
Until he encountered such a fine dinglu…
Zheng Yuan stroked the unconscious woman's cheek.
Zheng Yuan knew right away that this woman possessed the perfect body for Ping'er the moment he saw her stumbling along the street, crying and wailing like someone who just had their heart broken.
Indeed, not only was she a good dinglu, but she was also heartbroken. In other words, her Spirit would be weak. That would make it a lot easier for Ping'er to take over the girl's Spirit Space and consume her soul. It was too good of an opportunity to pass up, so Zheng Yuan had decided to put his surveillance plans on the back burner and focus on getting a body for Ping'er first.
In the end, he captured the girl, and brought her to an alley.
Zheng Yuan stroked his white beard and strode away from the bed.
Ping'er should be done in a while. And then, he would have his disciple back. One of them, at least.
"You don't know when to quit, do you?" Lyu Fengping growled.
Ding Nan twisted her "body" around and tried to free herself from Lyu Fengping's wraith-like body, which was wound around her torso like some kind of serpent.
"No! Never!" Ding Nan screamed and kept struggling.
Lyu Fengping started laughing hysterically. "Man... You're one tough bitch, I'll give you that. Most girls would be begging to die at this point."
"F*ck! You!" Ding Nan kicked out her legs and twisted her torso over and over again.
"Enough!" Lyu Fengping roared. "Don't be a fool! The more you struggle, the more it's going to hurt!"
"I don't f*cking care if it hurts," Ding Nan snarled. "I won't let you have my body!"
"Your efforts are futile! You are no match for me, you foolish girl!" Lyu Fengping screamed beside Ding Nan's ear. That voice sounded hollow and creepy, but Ding Nan was way past being scared at this point. She was going to f*cking fight her way out of this if she could. She would keep fighting as long as there was still a single iota of her existence left.
Ding Nan laughed. "So what if I'm no match for you?" Ding Nan stopped laughing and smirked. "I don't f*cking care! I would either fight you till I get my body back, or I'll die trying!"
"As you wish!" Lyu Fengping sneered. "Bring it on, then!"
Ding Nan screamed in pain when she felt something threatening to engulf her, like she was being squeezed… no, crushed, from all directions. Darkness began to seep into the white clouds surrounding her.
Then, the whole place began to shake.
"Surrender your Spirit Space to me, woman," Lyu Fengping said in a strained voice. "Stop fighting me…"
Ding Nan had once thought that her life was over. Back on the rooftop, she really thought she was going to die.
"Zhou Qin..." Ding Nan growled.
Why is it always me...?
Why is Zhou Qin always the one to have all the good luck?!
First, she had status. But now that her status was gone, she managed to get Li Yundong to take her side?
No. Ding Nan wouldn't lose. She refuse to lose. She didn't want to give Zhou Qin that satisfaction of seeing her die like some rape victim in a dark alley. Ding Nan unleashed a roar and pushed back against the omnidirectional pressure with every ounce of willpower and fighting spirit she had.
Then, something amazing happened. The darkness in the cloud began to fade; soon, her Spirit Space was bright again.
The pressure disappeared.
"H- How can this be possible…? How can you, a mere mortal, possess a Spirit stronger than mine?"
Lyu Fengping's voice echoed inside Ding Nan's Spirit Space, though the apparition was nowhere to be seen.
A surge of confidence coursed through Ding Nan. I can beat this bitch. Yes, she could totally beat this bitch.
"Be gone!" Ding Nan roared, and tried the same thing she did earlier to regain control.
Lyu Fengping's shriek resonated through her Spirit Space. Then, Lyu Fengping's apparition appeared in front of Ding Nan once more.
The apparition's eyes were wide with disbelief. "Y- You... I- Impossible..."
"Now you remember my name," Ding Nan said in a low, guttural voice. "It's Ding Nan!"
The apparition's eyes rolled upwards.
A moment later, tiny green tendrils rose from the apparition's form.
Lyu Fengping's ghost was evaporating.
The tendrils floated around the Spirit Space for a moment before they gathered on top of Ding Nan's head.
Suddenly, the tendrils shot into Ding Nan's body, and the next thing she knew, the Spirit Space vanished in a white flash.
Dozens and dozens of images flashed and blurred in Ding Nan's vision. It was like she was flying through some kind of warp tunnel. Some of those flashes consisted of faces, faces that Ding Nan had never seen before. There were also people walking around dressed in robes, and strange buildings that looked like temples. Then she saw an old man with long white beard. It was the same old man who had his fingers around her throat at the alley.
Then it hit her.
These were all Lyu Fengping's memories.
Suddenly, the visions slowed down.
Wait... Where was this? A mountain? She saw a lot of snow.
The image changed into the inside of a car. From Ding Nan's point of view, she was sitting across a man's lap, straddling him.
The car disappeared, and she was suddenly approaching a man who looked like a beggar. The man had long, unkempt hair, and there was a long object sticking out of his—
A wave of sadness crashed into Ding Nan when the image changed: the man whose lap she'd been straddling inside the car was dying; he was engulfed in flames, and there was blood and gore everywhere.
Then, she found herself face to face with Li Yundong, like they were about to fight each other. The sadness instantly changed into anger.
Li Yundong was doing something with his hands, some kind of strange hand sign.
She felt yet another change in her emotion: from anger to fear.
Two golden apparitions of a lion leaped out from Li Yundong's hands. Ding Nan's vision exploded in a burst of light.
When the light cleared away, she was hovering in the air, staring down at Li Yundong.
Li Yundong's lips were moving.
"Tell me something... Who put you guys up to this, huh?"
What was he talking about?
"How did you recognize this fan... I never showed it to anyone... somebody must have tipped you off... I want a name!!"
"Be gone, evil... Suffer the hand of Purification... Namah samanta vajranam ham!"
Golden light filled her vision, then everything turned white.
When Ding Nan slowly blinked her eyes open, the face of the old man hovered above hers. It was Lyu Fengping's master.
"How are you feeling, Ping'er?"
Ping'er? Lyu Fengping.
The man clearly thought that Lyu Fengping had successfully taken over her body.
The old fool.
I must play my part, otherwise he might kill me.
And then what? Should she follow him back? She probably should. Until Ding Nan could find an opportunity to escape, she had no choice but to live the life of Lyu Fengping.
"What is it, Ping'er?" asked the old man. "Is it because you're not used to your new body?"
I have to say something now. Can't let him suspect anything.
Ding Nan forced out a giggle. "I'm fine, Master... In fact, I've never been better!"
The old man burst into laughter. Then, he suddenly grabbed Ding Nan's wrist. Goosebumps broke all over Ding Nan's flesh, and she resisted the urge to shudder.
"Come! We shall forget about revenge for now and return to Mount Wu Hua first," said the old man. "You need some time to recuperate and get used to your new body."
Ding Nan covered up her nerves with a smirk.
"As you wish, Master," she said, struggling to keep her voice steady.
"Let's go then, Ping'er!" said the old man. "Off to Mount Wu Hua we go!"