“Who are you?” Although Xiao Xia was scared, she felt the other party had no ill intentions. Therefore, she mustered up her courage to speak.
No one responded.
However, those glowing green eyes blinked. Only then did Xiao Xia notice these eyes were a different shade of green compared to the cat’s. The cat’s eyes were moss green, filled with cold light and were very demonic. The eyes hiding in the trees were ordinary eyes that reflected the light in the dark. However, they were brighter with a hint of green!
Xiao Xia climbed up, figuring the person hiding in the trees should be human. It wasn’t because of the foreign chanting (since that cat had also been able to speak). It was based on the height those eyes were at, as well as the faint breathing in the still night.
Before she could finish speaking, there was a rustling in the bushes. Those eyes flashed and vanished. Xiao Xia couldn’t see clearly, but she felt that the weirdo hiding there was about to leave.
“Don’t go!” She cried out, disregarding everything and rushing into the trees.
This was a thicket without any paths. That person walked very quickly. In the darkness, Xiao Xia could only see large swathes of bushes parting before closing up swiftly. She had to use the bloodwood sword as a tool to clear the path. She avoided the plants obstructing her while calling, “Please wait a moment…your help is needed….a life is at stake, please help…ah….”
She missed a branch in front of her, and it sprung back, whipping her across the face. Tears flowed out at the stinging pain but she refused to stop. She desperately pushed ahead. “I beg you, wait a moment!”
She continued to call out. The person in front seemed to be avoiding her, running faster and faster. The silhouette was gradually becoming blurry. “Please, help! Save him! I will agree to anything you ask…as long as he doesn’t die! Stop, at least take your shoe back! Ah….”
Xiao Xia fell again. She was in a sorry state and failed to get up after several attempts. The figure before her vanished completely. Even the traces had vanished. She understood the weirdo had already left. Her grief welled up uncontrollably and she burst out crying on the forest floor.
Wan Li had been struck by a very vicious Gu. Ruan Zhan had said only the weirdo in the woods had a way to resolve it. The mountain was so large and it was too difficult to find someone intent on hiding. She had finally managed to run into that person but they had gotten away!
Why was she so useless!? Why couldn’t she be of the slightest help?! The world wouldn’t benefit whatsoever if someone like her remained alive! It was just a waste of resources! She had managed to ruin a chance for Wan Li to survive! Perhaps it had been the only chance!
She was practically an imbecile! This was all her fault!
She cried and blamed herself. All the fear and unease in her heart was replaced by the feeling of her heart breaking. She didn’t pay any attention to her surroundings as she tore up the grass around her and vented the sorrow she had been enduring. She didn’t notice the weirdo in the trees had slowly walked over after hiding for a bit.
“Wan Li…don’t die….Wan Li….” She stuck her face into the ground, figuring it was better to suffocate herself. Yet at this moment she realized a pair of feet had appeared before her….one foot wore an embroidered shoe while the other was bare!
Without thinking, she grabbed the thin, dirty ankles in front of her. “There is no deed more devout than saving a life. Your kindness will definitely be rewarded if you help me!” She sobbed. “I’ll give you anything you want as long as you save him!”
“Give me my shoe back!” A rigid voice came from above her. The voice was androgynous and emotionless. Xiao Xia couldn’t even tell if he (or she) had come back to help her or to get the shoe.
She crawled up, not daring to look at the person’s face and terrified of being refused. She merely handed the shoe over with both hands respectfully.
That person took the shoe but didn’t put it on, merely stroking it tenderly for a while before putting it away.
Since Xiao Xia’s head was lowered, she happened to see the pair of emaciated hands that looked like chicken claws. The nails were long and the hands were covered in filth, seeming to have been unwashed for who knows how long. They were like the hands of a fiend in a movie, making her shiver involuntarily.
Then, those hands reached over and lightly stroked her face!
Xiao Xia stood frozen despite feeling creeped out. Yet if she moved away, she might appear unfriendly and make this weirdo unwilling to help her. Therefore, she forced herself to endure. The hands caressed her face extremely lightly, almost tenderly.
“How glossy and smooth!” The person sighed and muttered. “How good it is to be young!”
“Please save my friend!” Xiao Xia begged in a trembling voice.
“He’s been struck with a death Gu. Unless the caster is killed, he will not survive!” That person said faintly.
“Who is the caster?”
The hand on her face stiffened and the person didn’t speak.
“You must know who it is, right? Tell me! I will repay you. Anything you want. I beg you!”
“He’s very powerful…very powerful…very powerful….”
“Just tell me where I can find him!”
“He is…” That person’s body also stiffened. After speaking the two words, the person started muttering ceaselessly and unintelligibly. However, the hand never moved from Xiao Xia’s face!
“Just tell me!” Xiao Xia begged.
“Can…can’t…he will kill me!” That person suddenly lowered their voice and moved close to Xiao Xia, speaking mysteriously.
Xiao Xia immediately smelled a vile, nauseating smell. It was a mix of dirt, rotting vegetation and meat, along with an indescribably weird smell. She also saw a mouthful of twisted black teeth!
It was said that those who ate corpses over a period of time would have black teeth!
This thought and that weirdo’s appearance suddenly made Xiao Xia feel inexplicably terrified. However, she still didn’t want to give up on getting information about the person who cast the Gu. Therefore, she forced away her desire to escape and clutched the weirdo’s collar, asking urgently. “Who on earth is he?”
It was just a small action but that person seemed to have been seriously startled. They suddenly took several steps back. Although Xiao Xia loosened her grip, that person’s clothes actually tore open!
Perhaps Xiao Xia had gotten accustomed to the dark. She clearly saw that weirdo’s two withered breasts….she was a woman!
At this moment, the weirdo started screaming, “Bride! Little bride….no, no, I don’t dare anymore…take the bride! I’ll give her back! Don’t kill me! I’m leaving, I’ll go die! I’ll die far away and never return!”
She screamed in terror. Her blinking green eyes looked around as if something was observing her from the trees while she made her intentions clear. Before Xiao Xia could figure out what “bride” she was talking about, she scurried off into the woods as if insane.
Xiao Xia stood in place foolishly. She watched as the trees parted, rustled and then fell silent again. Only the sounds of birds and bugs remained.
She had lost her only lead once again.
She didn’t know if she should cry. She just felt helpless and in despair.
The weirdo was a woman. Although she had suspected it based on the embroidered shoes, she had been able to confirm it today.
What did she mean by “bride”? Was it the raincoat ghost? Apparently that ghost was a bride when she died! Yet wasn’t that weird woman also wearing the embroidered shoes of a newly-wed bride? From her tone, it sounded like she had stolen someone’s bride. What was that about?
She definitely knew the person who cast the Gu, and that person seems to be related to that “bride”!
Footsteps sounded from the thicket. Xiao Xia’s heart clenched. She thought that weird woman had returned again and turned around excitedly.
However, the rustling was still there. The thicket was parted repeatedly, as though someone was walking out from within the trees. However, she couldn’t see anyone!
Xiao Xia forcefully blinked her eyes, afraid that her tears were messing with her vision. Looking carefully once more, the situation was still the same. From the looks of things, something invisible was approaching her!
Rustle, rustle, rustle….
Five meters….three meters….two meters…
Another bush in front of her flattened and sprung up again. Xiao Xia saw that a pair of footprints had appeared in the dirt when it happened. A man’s footprints!
An invisible man was walking towards her!
Fear wasn’t sufficient to describe her current emotions. It was extreme fear, terror, helplessness and pressure of being hunted by something invisible. She wasn’t able to react at first, but as the footsteps got closer again, her brain gave her the signal to run!
Don’t look back!
This was what she had learned through all her supernatural encounters. Therefore, she didn’t look behind her despite the constant rustling. No matter how quickly she ran, she wasn’t able to shake off the invisible person.
She didn’t know what he wanted, but she wasn’t foolish enough to stop and ask. She just ran desperately, thinking that it would be dawn soon and everything would fade like smoke.
Light was such a wonderful thing!
“Wait….darling!” A man’s voice suddenly rang out behind her. The voice was weak and seemed to be far away. Yet at the same time, an incredibly soft hand touched her back. She cried out and almost fell.
“Scram!” She shouted. She ignored what was happening behind her and made a few turns, continuing to run.
She didn’t know where she was running to. Perhaps the invisible person was treating her as prey and driving her towards some set location. Even if she was just a lamb to the slaughter, she wouldn’t obediently enter the slaughterhouse!
Therefore, she changed up directions frequently and did her best to mess things up despite not knowing where she was going.
There were no sounds of footsteps behind her. Only the rustling. This made Xiao Xia feel it wasn’t a person running after her, but more like a snake or some other slithering creature. That soft hand also kept probing her back and waist, making her scream while running. She narrowly avoided being tangled up or caught by the hair each time.
Why wasn’t it dawn yet?
Xiao Xia thought worriedly. She had run out of the dense forest at some point and reached a trodden footpath. The thing behind her pursued closely, making her unable to pause and think. She merely fled along the path. Although she knew she couldn’t shake him off, her pursuer seemed to be slower out in the open. The creepy rustling was also gone. Now there were only footprints in the dirt following her!
She almost collapsed from weariness. Her heart beat in her chest like a drum. The sky was only faintly turning brighter. This meant dawn was still some time away. As for her, she couldn’t hold on much longer!
At this time, she saw a level space in front of her.
The place had fewer trees and was more spacious. Xiao Xia ran over without thinking. Yet as she burst into the clearing, she noticed it was actually a graveyard. There were burial mounds everywhere with gravestones. Some graves only had a wooden post sticking out. Under the faintly lit sky, they seemed like shadows, watching her silently.
The feeling of being surrounded made her stop and want to leave immediately. However, the footprints appeared behind her once again, forcing her to move forward. Her heart was filled with despair. Did she fail to escape that invisible hand despite all the twists and turns? Did she still get driven into the slaughterhouse?
She looped around a grave in a panic and hid behind a large tree, catching her breath. She snuck a glance and saw those weird footprints remain in place nearby, seeming to have lost track of her. She shrunk back behind the tree, hoping to hide a little longer.
She calmed her breath and slowly moved back, moved back some more…
Behind her, a gust of cold air blew over and suddenly a hand grabbed her shoulder!
She involuntarily screamed. Because she whirled around too quickly, she fell back onto the grave next to her. There was a worn piece of wood sticking out from it. There were several words written upon it, but they were blurred and illegible.
A shabbily-dressed person stood by the tree facing away from her.
Yet when had he appeared? There hadn’t been anyone there earlier! And if he was facing away from Xiao Xia, how did he touch her shoulder? No one would be in the graveyard an hour before dawn! Unless he was…
Xiao Xia was tired and afraid, almost unable to move. She remained sitting there. That “person” also remained unmoving. Xiao Xia could now see he seemed to be an “old man”. However, his head was lowered and he didn’t turn around. From Xiao Xia’s angle, he almost seemed to be headless. He was very, very skinny. His ankles were bare yet his feet couldn’t be seen. This was because they were actually buried in the ground!
“There!” He suddenly spoke.
Xiao Xia sucked in a breath and shrunk back, ending up closer to the grave. She suddenly realized that she was huddled against that person’s “front door”!
“Go that way!” He spoke again, pointing to the left.
Only then did Xiao Xia understand. He was pointing out the way for her. But why?
“Hurry!” He spoke again, using his other hand to point right.
Xiao Xia looked to the right. Her startled cry had given away her location. The footprints were coming over.
With no time to hesitate, she forced herself up and ran to the left. After running a dozen or so meters, the sounds of pursuit suddenly ceased.
She turned around in surprise. The footsteps had stopped in place not far from her. They circled around on the spot for a while, clearly unreconciled. Yet they still didn’t come over in the end!
He didn’t dare come over here! She just needed to walk back a little further and wait for the day to come. Then, everything would be over!
Thinking of this, Xiao Xia kept her eyes on the footprints, afraid of being ambushed. She slowly retreated, yet before she had taken a few steps she felt something give underfoot. She fell into a deep pit.
The pain and shock made her cry out. Then, when she looked around she almost passed out in fear!
She realized she was lying on a cluster of extremely beautiful flowers. Not far from her, there was a coffin. A rotted corpse was sitting up and looking at her!