Xiao Xia’s tears flowed down in streams.
She hadn’t actually gone far. She lived in the city all her life and had never been in close contact with cows before. She had also heard their tears were supposed to grant the Yinyang Eye ability, so she ran over to the livestock area for a look. The houses in this village were designed so the living area was on the second floor and the livestock pen on the first. Therefore, she inadvertently overheard the two men talking.
At that instant, she felt she owed Wan Li so much!
All along, she had accepted his help and enjoyed his pampering. She had felt it was so natural and accepted it without qualms, never thinking of repaying anything. It was as though it was only to be expected that he treat her well. How despicable of her!
Now he only had three days to live. How was she supposed to repay him!?
Thinking of how she could never see his doe-like gentle gaze, hear his half-sarcastic and half-earnest voice, and feel his warm and cozy aura, she couldn’t take it!
Ruan Zhan said he would definitely not let him die. She was the same way. She wouldn’t even hesitate to exchange her own life for his!
“Actually I’m not trying to fight with you over her on purpose. It’s true that I’ve always liked fighting over things with you since we were young. I can’t be blamed. It was also a psychological method to attract your attention.” Wan Li continued speaking. “We were young. I had wondered why you still kept your distance despite being such good friends. Therefore, I kept trying to make you angry. Haha, I really managed to succeed once. When Nana decided to be with me, you were so angry we came to blows. It was our only physical fight. How precious!”
“That’s right. Our faces were bruised for two weeks afterwards.” Ruan Zhan’s voice sounded. His tone had grown more relaxed as he was lost in memories.
“However, Xiao Xia…is different.” Wan Li said.
“She is. Therefore, I will definitely save your dog life so you can go love her properly! This time you aren’t fighting with me. She isn’t mine, and she never will be.” Ruan Zhan’s voice turned cold again and downstairs, Xiao Xia’s heart turned cold as well.
“But the one she likes is you!” Wan Li said. “I treated her as a little sister to start with. She was so impudent but didn’t even realize it. It was always so amusing and eventually I started feeling protective. However, after she started liking you, I felt I didn’t understand my own heart because I didn’t want to let you have her.”
“She will like you back.” Ruan Zhan said. “I won’t fight over her.”
“Don’t put it like that. It sounds like you’re helping me. If I manage to survive, let’s have another gentlemen’s duel.” There was no fear of death in Wan Li’s voice. “The current state of our relationship is actually my own fault. I got to know her due to my divorce case. I had just gotten out of a failed marriage and didn’t want to get involved with any other woman. Therefore, I drew a boundary. She’s a sensitive lass and naturally wouldn’t overstep. In the end, we grew closer and closer. It was like we were two limbs attached to the same body, yet without any feelings. Then, you appeared again you bastard!”
“Where are you going?” Ruan Zhan asked. It sounded like Wan Li was heading downstairs.
“I’m grabbing some of that rice cake from earlier. It was really delicious. Since my death approaches, I’m going to stuff myself first.”
“I told you I won’t let you die.”
“Alright, I believe you. But I still want to eat.” Wan Li’s voice grew quieter. He seemed to be heading downstairs.
Xiao Xia hurriedly wiped away her tears and took a deep breath. She quickly made her way around the back and coincidentally entered the front door right as Wan Li got to the bottom of the stairs.
She did her best to sound and act normal, pretending not to know anything. She hung around him, wandering through the village with him. Ruan Zhan had disappeared the moment she returned. She figured he was desperately searching for a way to save Wan Li.
After dinner, Ruan Zhan left once again. Prior to leaving, he gave the bloodwood sword to her. “I’ve checked out the surroundings. There doesn’t seem to be any issues. However, if something like last night happens again, you’ll be safe if you stay in the building.”
“Will anything happen to the village?” Xiao Xia was afraid of bringing harm to innocents.
“He doesn’t have the ability to attack the entire village! Besides, I’ve set up a formation. Don’t be afraid.”
“En, I’m not afraid. As long as Wan Li’s Gu can be dispelled, I’m not afraid of anything!”
Ruan Zhan felt a moment of suspicion and thought Xiao Xia might have found out. However, seeing her lack of grief, he didn’t probe further. Wan Li’s life was hanging by a thread and he had no idea where the enemy was hiding. Therefore, he was anxious like he never was before. He also felt himself extremely useless, and started hating himself for sealing his abilities.
He had gone all over the place this afternoon and investigated all sorts of leads. He wanted to know who the raincoat ghost was previously. Based on her shoes, she was a bride when she died. The ghost Gu had to have been cast on the freshly deceased. This meant the two leads could be combined.
From what the elders said, the last time a bride had died was during the Cultural Revolution period. She had been an ethnic girl who had fallen in love with an educated youth. However, her parents forced her to marry a youngster in the village. She had thrown herself into the river on the day of her wedding!
Ruan Zhan knew that the raincoat ghost must have been that person. Water had been dripping off of her the whole time.
This was to say the Gu caster had been here in the sixties, and had the ability to cast such Gu techniques already. However, this didn’t match up with Huang Bo Heng’s age. Could it have been “Yang Mu You”?
Then who was that weirdo he had encountered? He (she) had also been wearing bridal shoes. Although they had been worn out, had they truly been identical? What was the connection here?
Furthermore, Huang Bo Heng had come from this village, but no one here recognized his photo. What was going on? Had he lied about his origins? But if he did, why did he desperately try to stop them from coming? What secret did this village hide?
The weirdo was the key. Who was he (she)? The villagers weren’t aware of such a person in the woods. However, he could sense that the weirdo knew everything that was going on. Therefore, he had to find him.
The forest was so large. Ruan Zhan had no idea where to start looking if that person didn’t wish to be found. Yet Wan Li only had three days to live!
However, he had heard about a strange matter that might be related to their purpose in coming here.
It was said that two months ago, three brothers called Ah Wang, Ah Shui and Ah Mu had suddenly died within a week of their father passing away. Their deaths had also been extremely weird. Most importantly, they had been extremely unfilial to their father while they were still alive. This was similar to the cases in the city were the deceased had mistreated their parents physically or mentally.
This was too coincidental, and he didn’t believe in coincidences. Therefore, the cases must be related.
His objective tonight was to dig up the three brothers’ graves and take a look. Then, he had to track down the weirdo in the woods. This couldn’t be done during the day. One reason was to show respect to the dead. It wasn’t good to expose the remains to sunlight. Secondly, he felt that weirdo wouldn’t appear during the daytime. He had to look around at night.
“You have to be careful.” Ruan Zhan said.
“You be careful too!” Xiao Xia looked at his clearly anxious expression as he tried to appear calm. She suddenly felt his life must be very tiring and couldn’t help but feel some heartache.
She subconsciously stretched her hand out to stroke his cold face, but immediately withdrew it. Not only did she draw her hand back, she even took a huge step backwards, almost knocking the table over.
Ruan Zhan didn’t understand why she was so flustered. Xiao Xia had overheard him say they would never end up together, and guessed he wasn’t interested in her. Therefore, she minded her earlier slip up a lot.
“I will guard Wan Li and definitely won’t let him run around again.” Xiao Xia promised, and then seemed to flee up the stairs.
“What are you running from? Is there a ghost after you? Let me see!” Wan Li was sitting in the living room upstairs. He hurriedly stood up seeing Xiao Xia run in panting.
“Sit, sit. You’re ill….you just recovered from your illness. You need rest!” Xiao Xia hurriedly stopped Wan Li, afraid another problem would pop up.
“I’m not a patient!” Wan Li forced a laugh. “Didn’t you see how much I ate earlier?”
“A glutton can still be a patient!” Xiao Xia forced Wan Li to the bed. “You scared me to death yesterday. You can’t scare me a second time!”
“But you can’t be trying to make me sleep at this hour, right?” Wan Li revealed a bitter smile. “I’m used to staying up late. It’s impossible for me to fall asleep right after sunset.”
He only had three days left so he couldn’t waste his time sleeping. Three days later, he would sleep eternally.
“Then tell me about your time with Ruan Zhan at school.” Ever since she heard about Nana, Xiao Xia had kept this person in mind. She wanted to know what sort of woman could have been romantically involved with both of these men. “Didn’t you say the two of you had gone through two and a half cases together? While you were in Italy, you told me about your encounter in elementary school. I want to hear about the next case now.”
“That was during college. Are you interested? There’s also Ah Zhan’s story.”
“Sure. It’s still early anyway and I’m not sleepy yet. However, we should turn off the lights. This place only recently got electricity so we shouldn’t waste it. To waste is to sin.” Xiao Xia forced Wan Li towards the inside of the bed and sat down on the bedside before turning off the lights.
“Hey, this situation feels very inappropriate!” Wan Li said. “I’ll start drooling, and it’ll make others misunderstand!”
“Who cares about what others think? As for you, just tell your story properly. Stop thinking nonsense.” Xiao Xia acted normal but used the darkness to conceal the glint of tears. Was this his last night? She had endured the entire afternoon, but was struggling to keep it up.
“Fine, fine. If you enjoy listening then I’ll tell you. Who knows if I’ll still be….” Wan Li stopped speaking, covering up his emotions. “Where to begin…let’s start from that summer!”
Wan Li started talking about the second time he and Ruan Zhan encountered a ghost.
We were sophomores in college at the time. Back then, Ruan Zhan wasn’t the way he is now. He smiled at strangers and didn’t hide himself. However, he was still cold and aloof, and we were known as the ice and fire duo at school.
As you know, girls are drawn to cold pretty boys. I was just a little worse off compared to him. Thinking about it, I’m still unreconciled. It’s like Liu Tie and Ni Yang. I feel Ni Yang is cuter, but since Liu Tie doesn’t like to talk, he is more popular. That’s how the minds of women work. They are the most curious creatures in the world.
Those two kids are like the two of us back then. I’m thinking Ah Zhan hired them and puts up with their antics because they are images of our younger selves. Ah Zhan is someone who bottles everything up. Although he doesn’t say it, I’m sure he cherishes our time at school.
Anyway, back to us. There was a girl who was widely acknowledged to be the school belle. Her name was Jiang Na. We all called her Nana and she was the dream lover of all the guys. Nana’s personality was a little like yours, but she was much more beautiful. Don’t hit me! I’m just reminiscing. You’re actually a hundred times more beautiful, ok? Regardless, she was very cute. However, she had a huge flaw. Do you know what it was? Her eyesight wasn’t good. She didn’t go for the fiery hunk and instead went for the icy pretty boy.
Ah Zhan that fellow wasn’t unwavering at all. He gave in less than two months after Nana started pursuing him. No integrity whatsoever. Of course, if Nana pursued me, I could probably have persisted for…three, no, two days! Regardless, they became a couple.
Ah Zhan had always looked like he deserved a beating. Now that he walked around with the school’s rose, who knew how many men hated him. However, he didn’t really care. He should be grateful I remained steadfastly loyal to him.
The summer of sophomore year, we planned a trip to a famous mountain. Because Ah Zhan is normally too reclusive and along with his dad passing away in high school, he had never gone on a trip. Therefore, I invited him to come along. Of course he made all sorts of excuses to get out of it but I forcibly dragged him along. What ended up happening proved that I was extremely wise in doing so. We encountered something extremely horrifying in the mountain. If he hadn’t been there, everyone would probably have died!
The plan was for me, two other guys and a girl to go. A total of four people. However, since Ah Zhan and Nana decided to come along, the group eventually become fifteen people. There were nine guys and six girls. It had become a small team of people. There were no lack of those who wanted to become thieves of love.
Youths, right? We were fearless and filled with dreams. None of us had any wilderness survival experience, and we didn’t hire a guide. We only brought some essential camping equipment and a map before making straight for the woods. Only then could we be unique and grand enough.
I won’t mention which mountain it was so it won’t traumatize you for any future travels.
Regardless, we ended up going there but the mountain path was much harder to traverse than we expected. We were excited at first but ended up getting exhausted as we walked and walked. In the end, we found a random spot to set up camp.
If I were to go again, there is no way I would camp in such a place. It was in a valley next to a very small waterfall. There was even a small pool nearby.
That place was really beautiful. There were cliffs, grassy plains, wildflowers, a waterfall and a clear and tranquil pool. We were greedy for the view and the convenience of having water nearby. We wanted to see the moon’s reflection in the pool at night and set up a bonfire! We didn’t consider anything else and set up camp there.
But let me tell you never to only consider the surface appearance. That place was actually extremely dangerous. The weather in the mountains is extremely volatile. If it rains, valleys could immediately get swallowed up by floods. Furthermore, if you’re close to an unknown pool, you never know what’s in the water!
We didn’t understand these things back then. We were very happily enjoying ourselves. Although we didn’t catch any game, we still managed to roast some fish and the food we brought. We happily set up a bonfire without realizing something was watching us in the dark. We also didn’t know that something would happen that very night!
The trip that summer showed me…you must always be on guard when you’re in the woods at night!