Chapter 158: A Set-up (1)
A flayed female corpse was abandoned inside the sinister and forbidding underground cave. Her red flesh dripping with blood was appalling.
Her fractured eye sockets and dilated pupils displayed a deep grudge and sent shivers down the spines of anyone who looked at her.
Ye Jiuge felt cold all over. She tried to contain her repugnance as she directed her eyes toward the center of the corpse’s cranium.
The skull was empty. This was the only substantial evidence needed to prove that the victim’s Spiritual Root had been extracted from her body.
Since this female corpse had a Spiritual Root, Ye Jiuge was sure that she was not Hua Die.
However, as this female corpse was severely disfigured, Ye Jiuge could not recognize her.
She raised her hand to let the White Bone Flame light up the entire underground cave and discovered that, behind the skinned female corpse, lay more than ten additional bodies.
Although their clothing and accessories significantly differed, they had all died because their blood had been sucked dry.
These should be the bodies of the Alchemists who had disappeared on their way to the Pill Production Tournament.
Ye Jiuge’s heart throbbed fast. She felt inexplicable unease.
Undoubtedly, the purple scorpion was a Black Magic Practitioner’s Spiritual Pet.
She wondered: Why did it bring me to this underground cave?
Ye Jiuge checked the cave carefully. She wanted to locate the purple scorpion.
Suddenly, she heard a swoosh. It came from a Spiritual Arrow piercing the air behind her.
She turned around promptly and formed a hand technique to cause the Spiritual Energy in her entire body to increase sharply and create a purple Protective Barrier around her. This allowed her to defend herself against the green Spiritual Arrow.
The green Spiritual Arrow transformed into Spiritual Energy before disappearing into thin air.
The very next moment, a light green silhouette landed in front of her.
The handsome man who now approached her had a slender figure. There was an official crest bearing a green Seven-leaf Clover on his chest, representing his position in the Medicine Refinery City. She had not expected to see Dongfang Yao’s Chief Disciple, Li Zijun.
“Li Zijun, why did you ambush me?” Ye Jiuge asked in an unfriendly tone.
“I thought that you were a Black Magic Practitioner.” Li Zijun caught sight of the cave behind Ye Jiuge. His expression changed at once. He spoke to her in disbelief, “Did you kill these people?”
“Of course not.” Ye Jiuge denied immediately.
She was about to describe what had occurred from her perspective when she heard a clamor in the distance.
She saw troops carrying torches and swiftly closing in.
The person who was leading them was dressed in magnificent clothing made from brocade and adorned with a golden dragon with five talons. It was the Crown Prince, Dongfang Jianming.
As soon as the Crown Prince reached the stone hillocks, he immediately ordered his soldiers to surround Ye Jiuge. From his attitude, it was as if he were going to capture a massive, ferocious beast.
“Crown Prince, what is the meaning of this?” When Ye Jiuge saw the battle array of the Crown Prince’s men, it had already dawned on her that this was part of his ploy. Otherwise, everything would not be so coincidental.
“Ye Jiuge, I should be the one asking you that.” The Crown Prince looked toward the underground cave behind Ye Jiuge.
Burning torches lit up the entire area. The situation in the cave was apparent with one glance.
“Ah!” When Ye Shanshan saw the skinned female corpse, she widened her eyes and covered her mouth with her hands. She was so horrified that her face went as white as a sheet.
“Gong Clan’s Third Miss!” the Crown Prince exclaimed. After that, he glared at Ye Jiuge and growled, “You are a psychopath. I cannot believe that you have done such a cruel thing to the Gong Clan’s Third Miss.”
“How do you know that this female corpse is the Gong Clan’s Third Miss?” Ye Jiuge raised her eyebrow.
“I discovered a letter in the Gong Clan’s Third Miss’s room. The letter states that you enticed her to come alone to this stone mound under the pretense of having a way to restore her right to participate in the tournament. I never thought that you lured her here to murder her…” The Crown Prince was so overwhelmed with grief that he could not continue.
“I never sent any letter to the Gong Clan’s Third Miss. I am here because my personal maid, Hua Die, was kidnapped. A purple scorpion with her earring brought me here. Only then did I discover these corpses,” Ye Jiuge reasoned.
“Ye Jiuge, as matters stand, you still dare to refute me. Your maid, Hua Die, was not abducted. She escaped from your clutches and sought help from us.
“A long time ago, she discovered your true identity as a Black Magic Practitioner. She did not have the courage to expose you until she eavesdropped and learned that you wanted to make a move against the Gong Clan’s Third Miss. Only after this did she run away. I never thought that we were one step too late.” The Crown Prince acted as if he were filled with regret.
“Elder Sister Hongyu, you died so horribly!” Ye Shanshan bawled and covered her mouth with her hand. Those unfamiliar with the situation would have thought that her parents had passed away.
“What did you say? Hua Die is with you?” This information hit Ye Jiuge like a bolt from out of the blue.
“Ye Clan’s Eldest Miss, your maid has testified against you, claiming that you are a Black Magic Practitioner who drinks human blood for cultivation. You not only abducted the contestants who came to Medicine Refinery City to participate in the tournament, you even murdered the Gong Clan’s Third Miss. Please, explain yourself,” Li Zijun said solemnly.
“Zijun, right now, we have a witness and physical evidence of her crime. What else is there to explain? We should hurry up and arrest this murderer and Black Magic Practitioner and punish her,” said the Crown Prince in exasperation.
“Although Your Highness often incriminates me with false accusations, this time, you’ve gone as far as accusing me of the crime of practicing Black Magic. Who knows what kind of benefits those Black Magic Practitioners have given you.”
Ye Jiuge narrowed her eyes. Her voice was as cold as ice as she spoke, “You asserted that my personal maid, Hua Die, has testified that I am a Black Magic Practitioner. In which case, you should bring her here so that I can confront her face to face.”
“Ye Jiuge, do you really refuse to repent until the final nail is hammered into your coffin? Someone go fetch Hua Die and bring her here,” the Crown Prince commanded his men.
Shortly after, two soldiers brought a forward petite girl from the rear of the troops.
She had large eyes and a small, round face. She looked exactly like Hua Die.
Hua Die’s gaze was fixed on the ground. She did not dare to look at Ye Jiuge.
“Hua Die, you do not need to be afraid. Repeat to everyone what you told me today,” said the Crown Prince confidently.
“Eldest Miss is not human at all. She is a Black Magic Practitioner who drinks blood. To progress in her cultivation, she has killed many people. She even said that, since the Gong Clan’s Third Miss kept jumping down her throat, she had to skin her alive, break her bones, and extract her Spiritual Root to alleviate her hatred…” Hua Die’s head remained lowered. Her voice and body were trembling like a leaf.
Ye Jiuge fixed her eyes on Hua Die. She spoke in a measured tone, “Since you have the nerve to incriminate me, why do you not have the courage to look at me?”
“Eldest Miss, please do not kill me.” With a thud, Hua Die kneeled with her forehead on the ground, looking frightened to the core.
“If you are really Hua Die, of course I will not take your life.” Ye Jiuge’s gaze became more indifferent.
She could not believe that this talkative young maid would betray her.
Unless, she was under Su Junqing’s Mental Manipulation.
Perhaps, she was not Hua Die at all. Someone else was impersonating her.
“Hua Die, you do not need to feel scared. With my presence, Ye Jiuge cannot lay a finger on you.” The Crown Prince moved forward to shield Hua Die from Ye Jiuge and pointed at Ye Jiuge while shouting sternly, “Ye Jiuge, as a bloodthirsty and ruthless Black Magic Practitioner, you have harmed and killed so many people for your Black Magic cultivation. Surrender quickly.”
“Your Highness, if I am really a Black Magic Practitioner, how could Great Master Dongfang not see through me?”
Ye Jiuge turned to Li Zijun and asked, “Black Magic Practitioners exude evil energy. They are not able to hide from those who have a higher level of cultivation. Since Great Master Dongfang is a Spiritual Master, do you think that I can deceive him?”
“This…” Naturally, Li Zijun did not dare to discredit his own Master.
However, the Crown Prince had Gong Hongyu’s last words in his hands and Ye Jiuge’s personal maid as a witness. Ye Jiuge was indeed very suspicious.
At this time, Ye Shanshan suddenly came forward to speak in an unwavering tone, “Senior Li, even though I am unable to prove that Eldest Sister is a murderer, I can show you evidence that she is really practicing Black Magic.”