Book 7 Chapter 2: Riddles

Ruan Zhan stood before Xiao Xia’s sickbed in the middle of the night.

She would be discharged from the hospital tomorrow, and he could be at ease in going to handle his affairs.

Although he was far, far away during the day, he always used the space-warping spell to return in the middle of the night to watch her sleeping peacefully. He stood the entire night before leaving at dawn, not caring whether it would affect his recovery since his serious injuries had yet to heal.

He stepped forward and softly caressed her cheek, afraid of waking her up. Xiao Xia was extremely sensitive. Not only did she often encounter spirits, she also sensed when someone or something was nearby. Therefore, he had to be especially careful.

He watched over her silently this way, feeling that things would be like this even if he died. At that time, he would probably still treat her the same way. Even though she wouldn’t know it, he would have no regrets!

Having her forget their difficult and frightening yet sweet and passionate time in the empty city was harder on him than anyone else. However, he had no choice. He believed his father and Si Ma Nan’s words…he couldn’t overcome the deadly tribulation that was the Calamity of Threes. So he had to leave her because he couldn’t give her a normal life. He only had one year to live, and had to uncover some secrets prior to that.

He refused to die in ignorance! He couldn’t let his life be senseless and his death be useless!

Before the calamity struck, he had to figure out three things: the relationship between his father, Si Ma Nan and himself, his own past, and his father’s death.

Before he died, Si Ma Nan only said three simple things in response to his three questions. He said, “The night wind cycles, yin and yang poles, and are you sure he is dead?”

These three things. Each line left Ruan Zhan rather shocked. They were all somewhat related to what he knew, but none of them were answers!

He returned to guard Xiao Xia at night, but during the day he had already gone to his hometown and started investigating.

No one had lived in his old house for a long time. He searched it thoroughly once again, but apart from some memories, he found nothing. His feelings were complicated when thinking of the past.

When he was brought to his father’s side, his father’s gaze was complicated. There was happiness but also rejection. His father raised him, but didn’t offer any fatherly love. He passed on everything he knew without holding anything back. Yet he didn’t care whether or not he trained, or whether he understood. His father protected him, yet allowed others to discriminate against him and hurt him.

He merely wanted a tiny bit of love, but his father didn’t give it to him. Or perhaps he had, but he had been too young at the time to understand it.  He only knew his father was very indifferent, and they never bonded. The two lived under the same roof but often went several days without exchanging a word, as if they were two spirits.

Yet he had once fallen seriously ill, and was delirious from fever, feeling as if he was about to die. He was actually very glad about it. Yet at that time, his father suddenly sat by his bed, performing many small tricks to make him happy. Although it was only once, he remembered it his entire life.

Did his father hate him or love him? Or perhaps he completely ignored him. Even know he still didn’t understand it. Even his father’s death was sudden and mysterious, like an unsolvable riddle.

Perhaps people with supernatural gifts like him were innately smart. He immediately mastered the spells his fathers forced him to memorize, unable to forget them even if he wanted to. This was the same with his studies. Therefore, he didn’t really have to work hard to get good grades. His father sent him to a good middle-school in the provincial capital.

At that time he felt his father hated him and had purposefully sent him off. Therefore, he had left in a huff and lived at school, not returning even during holidays. His father also didn’t check up on him, as if the two had cut all contact. This lasted until one day when he started fantasizing in the middle of the day. In the middle of class, he had seen his father at the classroom window, there to see him. He was holding his favorite egg herbal pancakes in his hands. He was even smiling at him.

The pancake was specially made by his father using egg yolks and herbal medicine, along with flour and other spices. He loved to eat them.

He had immediately burst into tears. Due to his innate yinyang eye, he had seen a halo of pale light behind his father. This meant his father had already died. Since the elder was no ordinary person in life, he could naturally appear before his son during the day as a vision.

Only then had he realized that despite thinking he didn’t care about his father, despite the unfeeling and stubborn personality he developed over the years, his father meant the most to him in the world. The moment he learned of his death, he understood he both loved and hated his father. He had been the first person who didn’t discriminate against him and had given him a home. But he was also the only one who refused to reciprocate his feelings. Even the disgust, hate and fear shown by others had never crossed his father’s face. His father’s hate for him was something he had imagined on his own.

Yet seeing the vision of his father, he suddenly felt that his father must have loved him a little, right? Otherwise, why still bake that egg herbal pancake for him when he passed away?

Amidst the teacher’s outrage and his classmates’ puzzled looks, he left school without saying a word and went straight to his home. When he got home, the door was wide open. As soon as he entered the courtyard, he saw his father sitting peacefully in the chair facing the main building, “resting his eyes”. His complexion was rosy, as if he were just waiting for him to get home for dinner.

At that moment, he suddenly experienced the feeling of coming home. Home wasn’t a building or good food, or someone to take care of you or accompany you. Home was when there was someone that would always be waiting for you to come back. No matter how indifferently his father treated him, he was home to him! Without his father, he wouldn’t have a home anymore!

He walked inside with streaming tears, confirming his father had already died since he lacked all vital signs. However, in his daze, he noticed his father’s eyelids twitch, as if secretly taking a peek at him. He was taken aback. He immediately lifted his father’s eyelids and was startled to see his eyes were red.

The eyeballs were completely red, with no whites or pupils. It was they were covered in a thick layer of blood! The moment he saw his father’s eyes, he sank into a vision.

He was in a red room. A figure appeared, dressed in traditional robes that only appeared in movies. The front was opened and his chest covered in blood. There was actually spellscript carved into his flesh. The person walked up to his father and seemed to hand him something. Then he let out a long sigh before turning and leaving!

Yet that object was formless. It was impossible to see what it was! Moreover, the vision gave him a strange feeling. It was as if his father’s eyes had left his body, observing from an alternate perspective. It was like he knew this moment would come and hoped his son would be able to see it too.

Afterwards, the father put the formless object into his robes, went to the kitchen to bake several egg herbal pancakes before washing up, straightening his clothing and sitting peacefully in the chair.

His eyes closed forever.

When the vision ended, the scene before him also turned completely red, making him stumble and almost throw up. He accidentally fell onto his father’s body.

At that moment, his father’s complexion immediately turned pale, as if he had died several days ago, with spots of discoloration all over his body. His body was very level. Even after opening the robes and feeling around on his skin, Ruan Zhan hadn’t found anything on his body. When he fastened his father’s clothes and once again sprawled against him, he heard a startled scream from the door.

It was a neighbor! He probably hadn’t seen his father out and about for a while and wanted to check up on him. Therefore, he happened to see the elder’s weird and creepy son kneeling on the floor, hugging the elder’s corpse!

The neighbor went screaming for help but Ruan Zhan remained kneeling, tears continuing to flow. How ridiculous that this was his first and only time hugging his father, yet he was actually just holding a stiff corpse!

Neighbors came, and the police also arrived! People started speculating that the unexpected death of the old man might very well be caused by his son! The kid was a freak that scared everyone. He seemed extremely indifferent about his father’s death, because by the time they arrived, he no longer had any tears left to shed!

But despite him forbidding an autopsy, forensics could determine from the corpse’s appearance that the elder had been dead for several days. He seemed to have died peacefully, so it was probably from natural causes. The school’s teachers and students could also verify that he had an alibi. Therefore, as the son, he was able to arrange his father’s funeral. The funeral made him understand his father was well loved by others. They remembered how he helped others with exorcisms and wards. They remembered the clatter of his shoes. They remembered he was the one who kept them safe, despite seeming to have done nothing on the surface!

But why did his father only inform him of his passing after several days had gone by? Supposedly, he should have sensed it due to his supernatural powers. Why hadn’t he? Had his father made some arrangements to block his abilities, purposefully only letting him know several days later?

Also, who was the person in the red vision? It was as if his sight had been blocked, allowing him only to see the person’s body. Did his father want to expose or protect that person? What had he given his father, and why couldn’t he find it?

It was like a riddle left behind by his father. There was only the riddle, but not the answer!

It’s been over a decade. He always came home during the holidays as well as the anniversary of his father’s death. He endured the distrustful and alienating stares of the townsfolk and stayed for several days. His father’s death has always been a mystery to him, but he had never had any leads. Therefore, he was hoping for a new vision as he went through the things he had gone through countless times, hoping to discover something.

Or perhaps, deep down, he was hoping that one day he would return to find his father sitting in that chair waiting for him. Although he knew it was impossible, he still hoped for all these years to have been a dream. How good that would be!

The night wind cycles, yin and yang poles, are you sure he is dead?

Si Ma Nan’s words made all of this more complicated. Was there some secret within?

It was now past midnight and a new day had started. From Xiao Xia’s breathing, she was going to be fine. Therefore, he decided to go dig up his father’s grave. Although this was extremely disgraceful, he had to confirm whether his father was still slumbering beneath the ground!

He had been certain in the past, because he had personally seen his father get lowered into the ground. Now, he was no longer so sure!

Getting a little closer, Ruan Zhan leaned down and looked lovingly at Xiao Xia’s face.

You must be well, so I can leave in peace even if I die. So I can linger around you, and sense your happiness without any worries!

He spoke silently to her. He wanted to kiss her, but ultimately didn’t. He abruptly turned around and left!

In the blink of an eye, he was back in his old house. He picked up the shovel and tools he had prepared and returned to the cemetery on top of the small mountain.

When he took a step, he stumbled a bit. He had used the space-warping spell too frequently during this period of time, leaving him exhausted. However, it wouldn’t affect his actions tonight.

Behind the mountain was where people used to bury their dead in the past. Now, they were cremated and another public cemetery had been constructed. Yet because the mountain had yet to be developed, the previous graves were still in place. It was just a little overgrown due to the years.

It was a little past two in the morning by the time Ruan Zhan arrived. He saw several spirits sneakily following behind him. Although they meant no harm, they clearly wanted to cause mischief and scare people.

He ignored them. When a white figure drifted close to him, he pointed with his finger and a red current shot over, scaring the observing “good buddies” back to their spots. They knew this person couldn’t be provoked. Only a few daring ones still spied on him.

Acting like he didn’t see them, he went directly to his father’s grave.

Yet as he was about to start digging, he froze!

The grave hadn’t changed much. Since he came to maintain it every year, it was newer and cleaner than the other ones. However, the soil was off. Although it wasn’t obvious, it was completely clear to Ruan Zhan’s eyes. Someone had already disturbed the grave!

Who had done so ahead of him?

Ruan Zhan was shocked. He stood motionless, sensing the surrounding air. Yin aura permeated the cemetery, but there was nothing abnormal. He looked back at those peeping toms. As his gaze swept over, they immediately hid. They clearly didn’t know anything, and were instead more curious about him. This meant he had been the only one to come dig up a grave!

Then why was there fresh soil on the grave? Why did someone seem to have tried their best to hide this fact?

Ignoring the situation, Ruan Zhan turned and started digging. He kept watch on the surroundings as he dug, but apart from the spirits’ anger, he didn’t sense anything.

Digging up someone’s grave was extremely immoral, especially since he was the son digging up his father’s grave. Therefore, he could understand the anger. However, he had no choice!

Because it was fresh soil, he saved a lot of effort in digging, and soon saw his father’s coffin. He jumped into the pit and saw that the coffin was still properly sealed. The wood around it was also undisturbed. It clearly hadn’t been opened. This made him hesitate whether he should keep going, but he still steeled his heart and pried the coffin open!


Along with the shrill creaking from the coffin came the sound of thunder in the long-overcast sky, frightening off all the hidden observers. At the same time, lightning illuminated the inside of the coffin.

The coffin was completely empty. His father’s corpse had vanished!

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