Uncle Bao picked up a flashlight. Then, he walked over and pulled open the clothes. A bead appeared in front of us. The moment it was uncovered, it started rolling around on the floor as if trying to escape, though it was unsuccessful. Only then did I realize that the clothes hadn’t been moving. It was the bead underneath.
“Yang Eye!” Uncle Bao carefully picked it up and put it in his palm.
Ah Zhan and I looked at each other. The bead no longer looked the same as before!
Initially, it had been essentially invisible under the sunlight. It only grew visible in the dark due to the silver glow it emitted. Now, even in the dark it was clear to see that it had changed colors. It was now red like blood and contained a tiny black orb in the center.
I’m a curious person. I couldn’t help but pick up another flashlight and get a closer look. I saw that bead trembling in Uncle Bao’s hand. When I shone the strong light over, it shrank back as if stung. The black orb turned into a thin slit, as though it were an eye hiding from the sun.
I was intensely curious and wanted to grab it for a look. Before I could touch it, the bead turned around and “looked” at me vigilantly. Then, I watched as the black orb in the middle turned round and wide. It suddenly leapt up towards my face!
I instinctively dodged back. Uncle Bao grabbed it in midair and quickly wrapped it in talisman paper. He put it in the large sack he was carrying on his back that seemed to contain hundreds of treasures.
The bead still rolled around inside but Uncle Bao seemed not to feel it.
“What’s going on here?” I asked in astonishment.
“That female ghost was sucked into her own inner core!” Ah Zhan was part of the Daoist world after all. He was able to figure it out on the spot.
“How?” I asked again stupidly.
“Due to Uncle Bao’s scheme!”
“No buts, let’s go back up first. I’ll slowly explain everything to you guys.” Uncle Bao reverted to the honest, smiling old farmer’s appearance. At the same time, he took out a small bell and shook it while chanting a spell. The two shadows sealed into the wall, Zhao Jiang and the handmaid, were drawn into the bell. Only then did he put it away.
Then, Ah Zhan and I once again spent a ton of effort to open the heavy wooden doors back up. As expected, the outer chamber was completely empty. Bao Da Tong and the enchanted students had all vanished!
Seeing that Uncle Bao seemed to have expected this, it wasn’t too convenient for me to say anything. I just followed the path and climbed out of the tomb. Only then did I see a pile of people lying in the clearing. Bao Da Tong was sitting on a large rock nearby, looking reinvigorated.
“Finally out!” He sighed exaggeratedly. “If it weren’t for these burdens, I was considering going back in to save you guys.”
“How are they?” Ah Zhan asked.
“You know they’ve been enchanted. However, after you guys closed the doors, the weird infant’s mommy was no longer able to control them as well. I was afraid they might get into trouble if I left them so I used a luring spell to make them follow me out. Then I used a pacifying spell to make them fall asleep obediently.” Bao Da Tong explained smugly.
I wasn’t in the mood for his chattering and started looking around. I saw Nana right away, lying under a tree to the left. I hurried over to check on her.
“Pops, shouldn’t you hurry and dispel the enchantment? I’ve heard that it’s harmful to be under a spell for too long.”
“What do you mean ‘you’ve heard’? It’s from my teachings, you unfilial son!” Uncle Bao scolded him but also didn’t tarry. He pulled out a wooden ball the size of a tennis ball from somewhere and rubbed it against each student’s head in succession.
That little wooden ball was white and black, covered with unintelligible spellscript.
“Done.” After a moment, he spoke as he finished “curing” the last student. However, I didn’t see a single person get up. Seeing my doubtful gaze, Uncle Bao explained, “They’ve been under the spell for a while. It’ll take some time for them to wake up. Furthermore, they’ll only remember what happened before getting enchanted.”
“Then can you now explain exactly what happened back there?” I asked.
“It was all due to her Yinyang Eye.” Uncle Bao sat down, ready to answer all our questions.
“She’s a ghost, why does she need a Yinyang Eye!?” Bao Da Tong voiced our doubts.
“It isn’t the Yinyang Eye we normally associate the term with. It refers to two eyes, one of Yin and one of Yang. As you know, cultivators must cultivate their own Daoist weapons as well as their own body. She cultivated her own eyeballs, one with Yin and one with Yang. If she had succeeded, it would have been very powerful. There probably wouldn’t be anyone who could harm the mother and son!” Uncle Bao explained patiently. “The weird infant dared come out during the day because it held her Yang Eye. It’s an object of extreme Yang. With it, even fiends of extreme Yin could appear during the day as long as they aren’t exposed to direct sunlight.”
“But she’s a ghost!” Bao Da Tong spoke in the same tone. “How could she cultivate something of extreme Yang? And it was so pure and filled with life!”
“We’ll have to ask the handmaid who accompanied her in death.” Uncle Bao said. “That’s one reason why we couldn’t kill her. That female ghost is filled with resentment, she definitely won’t tell us anything. Only the handmaid can help us unravel this mystery. Besides, based on her aura she must have been a kind, timid person in life and in death. She shouldn’t have done any evil. It’s best not to kill innocents. All life is equal, even ghosts, spirits and monsters.”
Hearing this, I couldn’t help but be impressed. Older ginger was spicier after all. While we were buzzing around like headless flies, the elder had already considered such minute details.
“That female ghost was definitely no ordinary person while she was alive. Therefore, she was able to cultivate even after death.” Ah Zhan spoke up.
“That’s right.” Uncle Bao nodded. “When I fought against her using magic, she could not only cast spells befitting a century-old ghost, but also a good amount of Daoist arts, though they had become twisted in her hands.”
“Speaking of which, Uncle Bao, why did you pretend to be injured?” I continued the topic. “Ah Zhan and I ended up in a lot of danger.”
“Hmm? What? Pretending?” Bao Da Tong was immediately interested. “Tell me quickly, pops. What trick did you use? Why didn’t I see it?”
“About that. I also had no choice.” Uncle Bao smiled apologetically. “I had initially misjudged the situation. I thought she wouldn’t be much of a threat after we obtained her inner core. I only realized she had cultivated two eyes, one of Yang and one of Yin, after I saw her. With the Yin eye still in hand, she wouldn’t be easy to deal. However, I didn’t have time to give you guys a heads up.”
“Ohhh. So you couldn’t beat her and resorted to trickery, pops!”
“This…outsmarting the opponent is also a good move.” Uncle Bao continued speaking. “Furthermore, it’s not like I couldn’t beat her. Her powers decreased significantly after losing her Yang eye. However, a head-on confrontation would be drawn out. I was afraid these enchanted people would suffer irreparable harm. You guys also couldn’t withstand the Yin aura that would get scattered about during our battle. It was naturally best to resolve things quickly.”
“Therefore, when you led us in exchanging blows with her, you didn’t use your full strength. Then, while we were closing the doors, you went to her coffin and entered a deadlock with her. In the end, you put on a huge act and lured her into going after her Yang eye. You already set something up on the Yang eye, adding an extremely powerful spell that caused her to get sucked inside.” Ah Zhan summarized.
Uncle Bao once again nodded at him in praise, but added some corrections. “You’re completely right, but I didn’t feign weakness. She would have been able to tell. Instead, I sealed off a portion of my powers. This required you and Wan Li to play your parts well. I wasn’t completely acting back there. If it had failed, things would have been quite dangerous. However, I believed in you. You’re an innately gifted child with a tough and tenacious personality. I wouldn’t be wrong to count on you.”
“The Yang eye, you cannot allow her to get the Yang eye!” I imitated Uncle Bao’s tone and expression. “Which acting school did you graduate from? You even studied psychology at the same time!? Not only did you put on such a convincing act, you even used reverse psychology to dispel any suspicions she might have had about the eye. You convinced her to snatch it before we could get to it, which made her fall into the trap.”
“My dad studied in the school of hard knocks.” Bao Da Tong cut in. “As the saying goes, men get craftier with age, horses get more cunning with age, rabbits are harder to catch with age. This is the way of things. My dad is so old, he’s naturally much craftier than us….ouch!”
Uncle Bao rapped his son on the head.
“Well I would understand if it was just her soul that got sucked into the Yang Eye. But how did her bones vanish as well?” I asked.
“Young man, didn’t I just say that the Yang Eye is an object of extreme Yang? Although I don’t know how she managed to cultivate it, her body is still of extreme Yin. Therefore, the moment her control over the Yang Eye was broken, she would immediately dissolve into essence, or what you might call energy. Her Yin Eye as well.”
Uncle Bao’s words immediately made me recall that the Yang Eye had turned blood red and there was a black object within that was like a pupil. Could that have been the combination of the female ghost’s soul and her Yin Eye?
“What are you going to do with the Yang Eye?” Ah Zhan asked.
Uncle Bao muttered for a moment. “The Yang Eye is a treasure. Despite being refined by a ghost, it doesn’t have the slightest bit of evil aura. Well, it’s more suitable to call it the Yinyang Eye now. You guys saw that the two eyes have become one. As for what to do with it, I want to hear how the female ghost ended up this way. When I exchanged blows with her, I only saw ferocity, not cruelty. Ai, come to think of it, she’s been trapped in that hole for over a century. She must have had her difficulties. Best to get some answers. If she isn’t that evil, it’s still better to help her cross to the other side!”
Uncle Bao sighed and then slowly walked to a shaded spot in the woods. The three of us followed closely behind him.
I was a little confused. I had thought you could only question ghosts during the night. Although it was already afternoon, the sun was still high in the sky. It shouldn’t be possible even under the trees, right?
But the moment we reached a shaded area, I saw Uncle Bao take an umbrella out from his sack. It was very old and small, but when he opened it the surface was visibly covered in spellscript. Furthermore, there were several strange looking tassels hanging from it.
He stuck the umbrella in the ground and then put that little bell underneath it. He started chanting.
Before long, I saw a blurry shadow under the umbrella. Although the features couldn’t be seen, it was definitely that handmaid. However, since the umbrella was small, her form had also become much smaller.
Uncle Bao told me to keep my distance due to my abundant Yang energy. Despite this, I could hear their words clearly.
It turns out that female ghost had died over a century ago. Her name had been Duan Jin and her family had been a famous silk merchant from Jiangnan. Because she had unusual abilities from birth, her father sent her up the mountain to cultivate the Dao. She coincidentally encountered a master whose powers were profound. Therefore, her powers also developed rapidly and her father was very proud of her. He hoped to rise along with her as she obtained the Dao.
However, she fell in love with a man and then got pregnant. They were supposed to get married but the man feared her family’s influence and actually ran off. Her father felt extreme despair when he found out about this. She knew she had brought shame upon her family and hid at home, not daring to meet anyone.
Due to her guilt towards her family and her extreme disappointment towards the man, she offered to commit suicide to atone for her sins. Her father was a heartless person and actually agreed to it. Therefore, she left her home and found this place.
She was a filial and kind person to begin with. Things only turned out this way because she had encountered the wrong person. She was afraid she wouldn’t be able to suppress her grievance after becoming a ghost and end up harming her family or innocents. Therefore, she found a dead spot beneath water and surrounded by mountains to restrict herself, preventing herself from ever being able to come out. She even covered the walls and the door with spellscript while she was still alive so she could never leave after death.
By the time the tomb was ready, she was heavily pregnant. However, she didn’t wish to give birth to this child. She walked into the tomb by herself, choosing to be buried alive. However, her dad felt reluctant in the end and sent this little handmaid in to accompany her in death. By the time she realized this, it was already too late.
Therefore, the two pitiful women died underground. Yet unexpectedly, as she took her last breath, the child in her womb was born.
Perhaps she did feel resentful despite her calm demeanor. Therefore, although the child immediately died after birth, it actually managed to resurrect. After coming back to life, it became a fiend.
It first devoured the corpses of its own mother and her handmaid. Then, as it was about to starve, a greedy craftsman who helped construct the tomb broke in with several people to rob the place.
Perhaps it was retribution for their greed. They failed to obtain any riches and became the fiend baby’s dinner instead.
One of those people had brought a little monkey inside. The fiend baby wanted to leave the tomb and its body could also not mature. Therefore, it possessed the little monkey and also ate its own original body.
Duan Jin wasn’t willing to see her child slaughter living things, yet also didn’t wish it to suffer. Therefore, she cast a spell to keep it trapped underground, only allowing it to occasionally eat some animals. Meanwhile, she used the powers she cultivated in life to refine her Yinyang Eye. She hoped to one day use her refined treasure to dispel the resentful aura around the monster she gave birth to, and turn it towards the right path.
However, she forgot that sparing the rod spoils the child!
After many years, the weird infant slowly matured. Although it refined the monkey’s face into its own, its body hadn’t changed. However, its evil aura grew heavier and heavier and its nature also became cunning and sinister. It gradually understood how to manipulate its doting mother’s weakness.
This was when our group entered its sight. It thirsted after human flash, and used various schemes and threats to force its mother into helping it achieve its wish of eating humans.
Duan Jin initially refused, but the flood that night gave the weird infant an opportunity. The water rose above the tomb and also washed us away. This allowed the weird infant to come out and escape its mother’s control.
Duan Jin wanted to stop it. Therefore, despite the weird infant messing around on the water’s surface, it wasn’t able to succeed. Zhao Jiang was the only one who died, trying to save Nana. However, he wasn’t eaten by the weird infant because it wanted to use him to follow us.
It wanted to eat us all!
However, I discovered it and wounded it with the bloodwood sword. It pretended it would die unless it ate human flesh. Because she felt bad for her son, the selfishness of a mother won out and Duan Jin ended up helping it!
She didn’t personally make a move, but merely used her powers to help the weird infant. It ended up killing three of us! Moreover, the weird infant intended to store those enchanted students and eat them slowly over time.
This was the reason we encountered so many tragic events! It was all because we were viewed as food by a ghostly fiend!
I wasn’t sure whether to pity or hate this woman. She had been so benevolent in life, and also kept that fiendish infant trapped for over a century after death, preventing it from committing evil. On the other hand, she was an accomplice in the death of my friends!
Three students, three friends, three people who were alive and well just a day ago. Now, there was nothing left of them!
“What should we do with them?” Bao Da Tong asked me and Ah Zhan.
The two of us looked at each other and didn’t know what to say.
Eradicate her? But wasn’t she already pitiful enough? She had already lost everything, and had been punished enough. Forgive her? Then what about those students who died unjustly? She was the accomplice after all!
“How about this.” Uncle Bao helped us resolve our stalemate. “I’ll collect the souls of those students tonight. Since they died violently in a foreign land, and were also eaten, their spirits are definitely still lingering. We’ll let them make the decision. They were the victims after all.”
“I’m guessing they’ll give Duan Jin the chance to repent. She was just the accomplice after all. As the saying goes, everyone makes mistakes!” Bao Da Tong clearly pitied Duan Jin.
As things turned out, he ended up guessing correctly.
That afternoon, after the enchanted students awoke, they were sent to stay in the nearby town. Because people had died, a large group of police arrived. However, such supernatural cases never have a proper conclusion so I won’t go into details about the process.
Ah Zhan and I snuck out of the hotel that night and met up with the Bao father and son. We found out that the deceased students agreed to let Duan Jin off. One reason was because the true culprit had already been completely wiped out, so they had technically gotten their revenge. Secondly, Uncle Bao had promised to make Duan Jin turn a new leaf, and also perform a blessing for them and guarantee them happiness in their next life.
I asked Uncle Bao where he was taking those spirits. He said there was a border between this world and the next. Ordinary people didn’t know where it was, but it was the intersection between the Yin and Yang. He would release the spirits of the deceased there. The living and the dead all had their own rules and paths to follow.
I didn’t ask too much about it. After struggling for several days, the police came up with their “scientific explanation”. We were allowed to leave. What should have been a happy trip ended in a tragedy.
I still have some lingering trauma due to this event. I feel weird whenever I enter any mountains.
After telling his story, Wan Li looked out the window.
The sky was completely dark at this time. It was right before dawn, when the night was darkest.
Outside the window, a black shadow flashed by!