The sound of flowing water.
After Xiao Xia decided to ignore the will-o’-wisps following her, rendering them helpless due to her indifference, she was taken to a clearing within the woods. Although she saw no flowing stream, she could hear the sound of water.
“Why aren’t we moving anymore? Must I wait to be summoned?” Due to her fear and exhaustion, Xiao Xia was a little angry. She adjusted the fanny pack which had become crooked and asked the black cat angrily.
“Since you’re marrying one of our men, you naturally need to do it according to our customs!”
“Stop messing around!”
“I’m not.” The black cat said assuredly. “According to my tribe’s customs, there’s a game of finding the bride the day before the wedding.”
“What tribe are you from?” Xiao Xia knew the black cat wasn’t the one speaking, but rather the person controlling it. It was the groom, so she simply decided to ask bluntly.
“How unfortunate that this wedding is so rushed!” It avoided her question. “There’s no choice but to simplify things. The ceremony which ought to have taken place over the span of days has to be condensed into a single night. Otherwise, your friend’s going to die!”
“You’ve said that as long as I become the bride, he won’t die!”
“Well then…let’s begin!”
The black cat completely ignored Xiao Xia’s words. After it finished speaking, it leapt into the woods and vanished, leaving a stunned Xiao Xia behind. She had no idea what was going on.
Finding the bride? What kind of tribal custom was this?
“You have five minutes. Do your best to hide.” The voice that had previously spoken by her ear sounded out once again. However, it wasn’t by her ear this time, but rather from beneath a distant tree. “In the next hour, the groom and his friends will come looking for you. You definitely cannot be found! Otherwise, someone will die!”
“Someone will die?”
“That’s right. Take a guess as to who it would be.”
“How should I know?!” Xiao Xia stared blankly at where the noise was coming from, though there wasn’t anything there. “But you should at least tell me what’s going on. Even if I have to die, don’t let me die in ignorance…hey, come back, answer me…come back!”
The response was a sudden shove against her back.
Xiao Xia was caught off guard and stumbled forwards several steps before coming into intimate contact with the ground. By the time she got up, she realized everything had fallen silent. She was alone in the woods. Or rather, everything around her had gone into hiding.
Xiao Xia knew these “hunters” were waiting for the “prey” to start running before making their move!
These bastards were completely ungracious, and seemed to have made no progress after becoming ghosts. To think they would treat a woman this way. Especially a woman as beautiful and cute as her, who was also a “bride”!
But they said someone would die if she was found! Who were they going to kill? Was it her or Wan Li? If anything happened to her, so be it. But if anything happened to Wan Li, wouldn’t all her plans have been for nothing?
Absolutely not. She definitely couldn’t get caught!
She looked left and right but she didn’t know where she should hide. Yet based on the natural tendency of humans to hide in the dark while also escaping towards the light, she decided to run for a distance before finding a thick bush to hide in.
Her injured leg prevented her from running too quickly. She only had a short five minutes. Although the moon was very bright, she was still deep in the woods in the middle of the night. Furthermore, she didn’t know if her “retinue” were following the rules. Were they spying on her in the dark?
Yet no matter how disadvantageous the situation was, she still couldn’t just give up! She remembered a line from a movie: Why could the hunting dog never catch the rabbit? Because the rabbit is running for its life while the dog is running for a meal!
This was her advantage!
Hide and seek with the bride was just entertainment for the seekers, yet for her, it involved a life, the most precious thing in the world!
Therefore, she couldn’t lose!
Moreover, she had other advantages as well!
After hiding in a concealed bush, Xiao Xia endured the bites of insects and her fear of snakes and rodents as she fished out her phone for a look. Five minutes had passed!
For the next hour, she had to avoid all sorts of encirclement and pursuit. She couldn’t be found!
She involuntarily tucked her body in further. She kept an eye on the surroundings while taking out a bottle of eye drops. She put a drop in each eye. Although she was still afraid, she laughed coldly in her heart.
Did these restless dead fellows really think she hadn’t made any preparations? Since she knew she was barging into the tiger’s den, she naturally wouldn’t just come empty handed. She would at least bring a “dowry”.
The eye drops were actually enchanted water that allowed her eyes to see what normally remained unseen. Because the effects wouldn’t last long, she had kept the water inside a small eye drop bottle. In the unobtrusive fanny pack around her slender waist, there were still many treasures waiting to greet these “good friends” who were attending the wedding!
They want to play? Although she, Yue Xiao Xia, was timid and useless, she would still accompany them until the end! To save Wan Li’s life, she had long since stored up all her courage. When it was needed, she would offer it without reserve.
She was their companion, not their burden!
“Yue…Xiao…Xia, where…are…you?” A shrill voice stretched out somewhere behind her.
Xiao Xia tensed up, but she didn’t speak or run. She secretly took out a small flag from her fanny pack. The flag was only an inch long. The red paper was covered in black spellscript while the flagpole’s lower end was filed to a sharp point. She almost pricked herself when she took it from the pack.
“The bride is here!” That shrill voice suddenly appeared right behind her.
Xiao Xia still didn’t move. She felt something snakelike wrapping around her waist. Although snakes gave off a clammy feeling, she knew their skin was actually dry and warm. The feeling around her body was indescribably cold, so it was definitely a “good buddy”.
She felt numb all over but forced herself to endure. She waited until that voice smugly announced, “I found the bride,” before suddenly raising the small flag and stabbing it at her waist.
She had been a little hesitant. The thing around her wasn’t corporeal. She was afraid the sharp flagpole would go through her ghost and stab her instead. She had always been afraid of pain, but she wasn’t able to worry about it at this critical moment.
As her hand fell, the only pain she felt was in her ears. The flagpole was stabbed into the arm of the unfortunate ghost behind her. It seemed to have been fixed in place and could only scream next to Xiao Xia’s ear!
Then, the flag gradually faded as well.
“You’ll have to protect me! This talisman was drawn with my blood mixed into the ink. Apart from me, anyone else would have to spend a very long time removing this spirit anchor flag. You’ll have to greet the morning sun in that case!” Xiao Xia blustered to try and scare it. “If you behave, I’ll remove the flag after an hour.”
It was a female ghost, a very old one. It was like other spirits, with a scarily pale face that looked like a white mask under the moonlight. Its feet didn’t touch the ground, but it was also kept in place by the flag Xiao Xia had randomly called the “spirit anchor flag”. It struggled and swayed in place, looking extremely horrifying.
“I don’t believe you.” It roared helplessly.
“You’re welcome to try!” Xiao Xia threatened. Without any time to waste, she turned and leapt into the bushes.
She knew ghosts didn’t rely on sight or hearing to find humans. Instead, they relied on their smell and the heat signature.
She did have talismans on her that would conceal her presence. However, she was purposefully allowing several ghosts to find her so she could nail the flags on them.
There were four flags in total. She planned to nail a ghost in each of the cardinal directions. As long as they believed her words, they would help her due to fear of the sunlight. If they gave the other ghosts wrong directions, she could win more time to escape while reducing the amount of ghosts pursuing her.
She endured the pain in her ankle as she ran into the thicket. She hadn’t gone far when she saw a middle-aged ghost dressed in tribal clothing. Although she was a little afraid, Xiao Xia acted as if she couldn’t see him and ran straight towards him. When she collided with him, she felt cold all over before going right through. Then, she tripped. She knew the ghost had tripped her so she randomly struggled a little before using another flag.
She calculated the distance as she ran a circle in the area. She repeated the process as before and fixed two more ghosts in place. Then, she ran outside the circle and stuck the presence concealing talisman to her chest.
Despite this, she still couldn’t breathe freely. She was both tired and so apprehensive her heart was about to burst. Yet she merely rested against a small tree for a bit to lighten the burden on her injured leg.
More and more strange things appeared in the surroundings. Some were will-o’-wisps. Some were spirits that died in all sorts of manners. She suddenly understood how much those with a Yinyang eye suffered. It must be hard for them to accept the two worlds, right? The weariness and helplessness of just the human world was hard enough, yet they also had to face the suffering, grievances and reluctance of the other world! At that moment, she suddenly thought of Ruan Zhan tenderly and understood his distant nature a little.
Sometimes, ignorance really was bliss!
Her vision grew blurry at this moment and she realized the eye drops were wearing off. She hurriedly took out the bottle to reapply them but felt something pulling at her dress.
She looked down but didn’t see anything. Yet the dress was pulled taut so there was clearly some force pulling on it. Yet apart from her own pale shins, there wasn’t anything there!
She was shocked. She had used a talisman that concealed her presence and tracks. Why was something able to see her? Was it especially powerful?
She stared at the empty space and saw her dress flutter a couple more times. It was like someone was pulling at her impatiently. Then, a small shadow appeared as though it was purposefully revealing itself to Xiao Xia who no longer had the ability to see ghosts.
Instinctively, she applied two more drops to her eyes. She lowered her head and saw a small boy around five or six years old looking up at her.
Half of his face was rotted while the other half was unharmed, revealing an innocent yet eerie smile. It was indescribably sinister and gave off a guileless yet malicious feeling.
“Big sis, I found you!”
He pulled tightly at Xiao Xia’s dress and continued to look at her. Because he jerked backwards too hard, there was a crack as if his neck had snapped. His entire head flipped over backwards!