Chapter 23 – The past of Shang Jia Zhu

“How did you figure out that he was a skin-painting ghost?” Tao Yaoye asked the question that even Zhang Steward didn’t know the answer to.

Lu Yang swept away the battle marks and used a broom to sweep the ashes of the skin-painting ghost into a small pile. Tao Yaoye also took out a dustpan and began to collect them.

“It’s simple. Think back to what the parrot said. ‘Who are you? Where is Zhang Steward?’”

“After we met Shang Yuan, she deliberately drove us away and kept us away from the Shang family.”

“This shows that the current Zhang Steward is not the person that Miss Shang knew, and is extremely dangerous.”

“There are three possibilities for the identity replacement of Zhang Steward.”

“First, Zhang Steward has been taken over. But how could the old monster who took over stay in the Shang family for so long? If it were me, the first thing I would do after taking over would be to leave Tai Ping Township and find a Feng Shui treasure to continue my cultivation. Moreover, Zhang Steward’s talent is not that great. The housekeeper of the Shang family is stronger than him.”

“Second, someone is disguised as Zhang Steward. But that’s not right either. The Shang family doesn’t have anything valuable. Why would someone pretend to be a housekeeper? Does he have a fetish for serving people? Even if the Shang family has something valuable, just rob it. With his mid-stage foundation building cultivation, no one would care if he walked around Tai Ping Township.”

“The third possibility is the skin-painting ghost. Skin-painting ghosts collect human skins and disguise themselves as humans. They continue this habit of disguise and live among humans.”

Skin-painting ghosts were humans before they died and became ghosts. They are a type of ghost cultivator. Most ghost cultivators have some kind of psychological disorder.

For example, skin-painting ghosts are most afraid of having their identity exposed. They will try their best to believe that they are human and will say and do the same things as humans. When they get tired of it, they will change their skin and start a new identity, repeating this process.

Lu Yang’s reasoning was sound and convincing, and Tao Yaoye admired him greatly. She couldn’t see the shadow of the nervous Lu senior brother who was on the flying boat.

She knew the knowledge that Lu Yang knew, but she couldn’t think as quickly as Lu Yang. This was a difference in mental sensitivity.

“Collect the ashes. This is our proof of completing the mission.” Lu Yang took out two white porcelain jars that were two palms high and put the ashes of the skin-painting ghost in them.

The skin-painting ghost was an extension of the mission and was considered a part of it. Killing the skin-painting ghost would definitely earn a greater reward than finding the parrot.

There was a sound of running footsteps outside the door. The sound of running stopped at the door, as if several people had been awakened from their sleep and had come to the east wing to check the situation, but were afraid to enter.

The identity of the person outside the door was not difficult to guess. Lu Yang laughed loudly and said, “Master Shang, come in. I have already killed the skin-painting ghost. It’s very safe here.”

With a bang, the wooden door was pushed open by Master Shang. He was followed by his wife, daughter, maids, and servants, for a total of twelve people, all of whom looked like they had just survived a disaster.

“Thank you, two immortal masters, for taking action and killing the skin-painting ghost, saving the lives of my Shang family’s twelve members!” Master Shang knelt down with a thud, and the people behind him also knelt down.The painted skin ghost is capricious and may eventually kill all the Shang family members when he gets tired of being their butler.

“The Shang family’s duty is to slay demons and defend the righteous path. This is what we, the Seek Tao Sect disciples, should do,” Lu Yang was startled by the grandeur of the situation and quickly helped them up.

“Please forgive us, two immortal elders. The painted skin ghost appears and disappears unpredictably, and I do not know where he comes from.”

“Ever since the painted skin ghost impersonated the steward Zhang, we were not allowed to leave the Shang family. If anyone visits, we are not allowed to reveal anything. If he finds out, it will be a dead end!”

At this point, Shang Yuan, who was standing beside them, looked guilty. She was originally a gentle lady, and all her cold actions in the boudoir were just a façade to keep Lu Yang and Tao Yaoye safe.

The Shang family head continued, “Unfortunately, I have retired to the countryside, and all my cultivation resources have been converted into gold, silver, and jewels, which are useless to you. However, if you have any needs, I will sell my property to repay your kindness.” The Shang family head was not just being polite; he genuinely wanted to repay their life-saving favor.

His wealth was worth nothing to the Seek Tao Sect disciples.

Lu Yang did have a need.

“I heard that you encountered a life-threatening terror while tomb raiding, which made you decide to retire from the cultivation world. What happened at that time?”

Tao Yaoye was interested in tomb raiding, life-threatening terror, and big opportunities. She loved exploring mysterious places.

Lu Yang was not as interested in exploring the unknown as Tao Yaoye, but he enjoyed listening to strange stories.

The Shang family head’s eyes twitched. To be honest, he did not want to recall those terrifying memories, but he could not refuse his life-saving benefactor’s question.

He dismissed everyone, especially Shang Yuan, who tried to stay behind secretly, and left only Lu Yang and Tao Yaoye.

“I cannot let others hear this today.”

Lu Yang and Tao Yaoye nodded.

After getting their approval, the Shang family head recounted the events of twenty years ago.

“Thirty years ago, I, Shang Zhongtian, was famous for tomb raiding during the Qi Refining period. Notorious, but also to the point where everyone was sick of me.” Shang Zhongtian put his hands on his waist and reminisced about his golden years.

Lu Yang and Tao Yaoye did not quite understand why Shang Zhongtian, the head of the Shang family, was so proud of this.

However, they did not know that tomb raiders were competitors, and Shang Zhongtian’s excellent reputation meant that he had superb skills.

“I have always been cautious when tomb raiding. I never touched those big tombs or ancient tombs. We tomb raiders all know the saying, big tombs have ghosts, ancient tombs have immortals.”

The ghosts mentioned here were not small foundation-building ghosts like the painted skin ghost, but powerful beings that ruled over ghosts.”The Qi refining cultivators are poor, and they give all valuable things to their juniors. There are no burial goods left to explain. I won’t touch the tomb of a Qi refining cultivator, there’s no profit in it.”

“The Foundation Establishment and Golden Core cultivators have some assets. After they die, they habitually distribute most of their assets to their descendants and leave a small amount for burial. Even that small amount is enough for me to make a big profit.”

“Unfortunately, accidents happen. One time, I was digging a tomb of a Golden Core cultivator, and when I dug to the end, I found out that it was a tomb within a tomb. The Golden Core tomb was a burial, and the main tomb was a Yuan Ying period tomb!”

“According to our rules, we cannot dig tombs with a cultivation level too high, but at that time, I was blinded by joy. I thought I was at the peak of Qi refining. If I ran, my speed would be comparable to the Foundation Establishment period. Since tomb-robbing doesn’t involve fighting, I could be considered a Foundation Establishment cultivator in a roundabout way. Digging a Yuan Ying period tomb that fell from the sky wasn’t very dangerous.”

“So, I offered incense to my ancestors and prayed for their blessings before starting to dig the Yuan Ying period tomb.”

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