Xiao Xia suddenly raised her amulet and cried out loudly: “Praise be Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva!”
Her voice had just fallen when that female ghost’s clothes suddenly caught on fire. She shrieked and drifted towards the mountain road. Xiao Xia ran in the opposite direction. When she grew too tired to run further, she realized…she was lost.
She was a so-called city girl and had no sense of direction. She would even get lost frequently in the city, let alone this unknown dense forest. She knew stumbling around blindly would only lead to more trouble. Who knew what she would encounter? But she also couldn’t wait here overnight. Therefore, she had to remain calm.
Think hard, there has to be a solution!
Use the stars? But the trees here covered the sky. Even the moonlight only shone in through gaps in the foliage. It wasn’t possible to see the stars at all. Even if she could, she had no idea where the big dipper was. She had nothing that could act as a compass, not even a watch.
She spun anxiously in a circle, almost bumping into a tree. At this time, she suddenly got a flash of inspiration from the twinkling will-o’-wisps in the forest.
This was a forest, not a cemetery. The amount of will-o’-wisps meant that apart from the corpses of animals, there were probably a good number of people that had died here. Furthermore, based on her earlier encounter, there were definitely ghosts here. Based on the numbness of her scalp, there was definitely more than one.
Therefore, since there were no other people here, perhaps she could ask a ghost for help.
She recalled discussing methods of summoning ghosts in the past with her friends. In the middle of the night, on an empty road (best if it was a very humid place), walk towards your own shadow. Call out your name with every step. When you’ve walked thirteen steps, you will see two shadows. One is your own and the other is the ghost you summoned. This ghost will help you with something, but will also ask you for help.
She believed there were good and bad ghosts. Furthermore, this game also said the ghost you summon may either be good or malicious. The former would grant you your wish but if it was the latter…you could only pray.
The current situation met the conditions for summoning a ghost. Perhaps she should give it a try.
This thought terrified her and she didn’t know what would happen. However, she had no other ideas and could delay no further. She might as well try anything in a pinch! At the least, the situation couldn’t get any worse.
She gritted her teeth and went through the steps, trembling. By the time she completed the process, cold sweat was trickling down her back. She looked nervously towards the ground. In the faint light, she saw no other shadow than her own.
Did she fail to summon one? Or was this method nonsense to begin with?! She had no choice but to try again, yet the result was the same.
Ghosts had no shadow!
She recalled the female ghost’s words from earlier and felt a chill on her back. She slowly turned around.
There was nothing there. The surroundings were quiet enough she could hear her own breathing!
When she turned back around, she felt the thicket in front was a little different. The will-o’-wisps no longer flickered, but had grown brighter instead.
She instantly felt like running, but ultimately gritted her teeth and slowly walked into the thicket. She followed the sinister green light step by step. She felt it seemed to drift aimlessly, seeming enticing yet also probing.
Yet no matter how it drifted, Xiao Xia followed it closely. She didn’t know if this was a blessing or a calamity, it was a complete gamble!
Suddenly, the green light rushed towards Xiao Xia. She was startled and had no time to react, still running forward as before. She only managed to stop when she was three inches away.
They were essentially face to face. She stared at the oddity before her and suddenly realized it wasn’t a will-o’-wisp. It was a pair of eyes. The owner was a shriveled little old woman floating in midair. She faced her expressionlessly, her mouth moving as though chewing on something.
Xiao Xia was terrified and unable to move. She watched as the old woman suddenly stretched out her claw-like hand and stroked her face softly. “So tender!” She sighed with intoxication, her hand slowly gliding down. However, it had just reached Xiao Xia’s neck when it was repelled by the yellow light released by the amulet.
“Were you summoned by me?” Xiao Xia finally gathered her courage and asked.
“It wasn’t you. I just came out for a stroll.” The hoarse and gloomy voice responded slowly. “Don’t follow me. Hurry and go back. This isn’t a somewhere you should stay. You’ll die without an intact corpse.”
So it turned out to be a coincidence. That whatever ghost summoning ritual was completely made up. But the old woman in front of her didn’t seem to have ill intentions. It seems her luck was extremely good to meet such a friendly ghost.
Right as she was hesitating, the old woman’s front suddenly became her back in an instant, without her having turned around. She seemed about to leave. Xiao Xia rushed forward and grabbed at her arm in her panic without thinking, but only clutched air as she fell over.
“I’m a ghost. I don’t have a physical form.” The old woman said.
“I know, I know. But I need help. I’ll repay you. I’ll also fulfill one of your wishes.”
The old woman was expressionless and didn’t speak.
“I’m telling the truth.” Xiao Xia explained urgently. “Although I don’t have any abilities, my friend is a sorcerer who can communicate with spirits. He can fulfill your wish. If I’m lying…you can come strangle me to death in the middle of the night!”
“You’re an outsider, right?” The old woman finally spoke. “You don’t understand. If spirits don’t have a suitable vessel, they cannot go too far from their place of death. Otherwise, they will scatter.”
“Then…then you can take me hostage until my friend helps you! However, I must first help him now!”
The old woman didn’t speak once again. After some time, she finally opened her mouth.
“There’s a very powerful ghost here I don’t dare to provoke!” She still spoke unhurriedly. “However….maybe you guys can move my bones to a different place. It’s fine even if it’s a deserted tomb behind the mountain.”
“We can do that!” Xiao Xia hurriedly agreed. “Where’s your…residence? We’ll go do it after finishing our matters today!”
“I don’t have a grave because I offended someone when I was alive. He buried my bones in the middle of the mountain road, right at that sharp turn. The place with the large rock shaped like a monkey. He wanted me to be unable to reincarnate after death, and also wanted countless people to step on me!” As she spoke, her expression became malevolent, scaring Xiao Xia into hurriedly stopping her.
“I got it! I swear I’ll definitely do it. I’ll move your treasured bones to a precious place of fengshui.” 1
“No need for that. I just ask to no longer be stepped on by so many people! It hurts, it truly hurts. It’s been centuries!”
“Alright, alright. I promise. But you must help me now! I’m looking for a person, a man. He should be within this forest. I believe he has to be here!”
“A person!” The old woman bent over and sniffed deeply. This made Xiao Xia involuntarily recall the hungry ghost path. She sniffed Xiao Xia and then sniffed towards a different direction. “Let’s go. There’s a living person’s scent over there!”
She drifted forwards and to the left. Xiao Xia hurriedly followed, but the old woman suddenly stopped. “You will really help me, right?” She asked.
“I definitely, definitely will. If I don’t die, if my friend doesn’t die, I will definitely keep my word!”
“Fine, then. Let’s go!”
She no longer spoke and kept drifting forward. Xiao Xia followed closely behind, deeply afraid of missing a step and losing track of her. She didn’t know how long they walked for when the old woman suddenly stopped.
“He’s straight ahead, there’s no mistake. However, that person’s yang energy is too abundant. I’m just an ordinary ghost, and don’t dare approach.”
“Thank you. I will definitely do as you asked! The mountain road’s sharp turn with the monkey-like large…”
Before Xiao Xia could finish speaking, the old woman’s expression grew fearful. She vanished in an instant. This both baffled and alarmed her. Was there something behind her that frightened even a ghost?!
She turned around abruptly and looked everywhere, but didn’t see anything. Although she trembled all over, there really wasn’t anything. She gritted her teeth and wasn’t able to spare anymore thought to it. She ran forward, feeling her legs grow heavier and heavier, until she finally saw a familiar figure in front.
“Wan Li!” She cried out and stumbled to the floor. She was so tired she could barely get up.
Wan Li had been worriedly waiting at the appointed location. Xiao Xia’s yell startled him. He looked over and saw her sitting on the floor panting. He wanted to go help her up, but realized there was something on her back…
It was a female ghost. There was a female ghost on her back! A horror dressed in red with long hair framing a garish face.
Luckily Ruan Zhan had temporarily opened his sight for him. Otherwise, how could he have seen it!? He had been standing here for a while and had seen all sorts of ghosts walking about. But he hadn’t seen such a vicious-looking one. He had an idea of the female ghost’s intentions and pretended he hadn’t seen anything, waving his hand towards Xiao Xia.
“Xiao Xia, come here!”
Xiao Xia responded, but felt it rather taxing to move. She felt like she wasn’t able to stand up. “I’m exhausted. Come help me up.”
“I’m guarding his stinking body and can’t move away.” He brushed aside the thicket and Ruan Zhan’s body could be seen lying there.
Xiao Xia had yet to respond when she felt a gust of wind and her body suddenly grew light again. A red figure appeared, cold light gleaming in hand as it pounced towards Ruan Zhan’s body.
“No!” She instinctively yelled, understanding everything in an instant. A female ghost had attached itself to her, which was why she felt cold and heavy. That ghost wanted to harm Ruan Zhan and destroy his physical body. It had to be Yang Mu You’s lackey Hong Hao Hao!
Wan Li seemed to have been heavily startled by this unexpected turn of events, and actually fell to the floor. Under Xiao Xia’s anxious gaze, he crushed another area of thicket next to him.
There was something there within the thicket, around a foot long. Under the moonlight, it reflected the glint of metal. On it was a talisman. When Wan Li fell, he tore the talisman off. The object started buzzing and formed an air current, pulling in the grass all around it.