Book 7 Chapter 31: Tragedy

The reason I wasn’t also unconscious was probably due to Nana’s love for me. Despite being controlled, her strong feelings for me caused her to subconsciously hold back, leaving me with a hint of consciousness despite being unable to move.

Yet how I wished I had been unconscious at that time, or maybe even dead. That way, I wouldn’t have to watch helplessly as Nana walked towards her death!

She stood vacantly holding the branch, seeming confused at her actions. It was like she had multiple personality disorder, with two voices inside one body. One wanted her to walk over and strike our heads a few more times until we were dead. The other wanted her to throw away the branch and call for help. Seeing the struggle behind her eyes, I suddenly understood the case was not yet closed. We had been too careless, and would therefore pay an unacceptable price!

“Nana!” I tried to call her but realized I could only grunt through my throat. I tried to stand up, or even crawl a few feet, but my body was completely limp. I could only watch Nana stand there like a statue.

A minute passed, two minutes, three minutes…My mind grew more and more hazy, the piercing pain in my head making it hard for me to keep my eyes open.Yet Nana still remained as before, not noticing the fire slowly growing stronger.

Crash…

As a wave of heat blew across my face, the branch finally dropped from Nana’s hand. Joyfully, I thought she had recovered her senses but a female voice sounded from behind. “Come. Come here!”

I was unable to turn, but to my horror recognized the voice to be that of the girl who jumped from the building. Who was she calling? Could it be Nana? Zhao Jiang was already dead. She should be free of his control and should have left. Why would she appear here?

“Come…quickly!” The girl urged.

At this moment, Nana finally moved. She wasn’t able to see me, her expression and movement rigid. She was like piece of rock that slowly moved, step by step, towards the lake!

I felt a sense of foreboding at her appearance. I felt she was about to leave me forever. The realization enabled me to finally cry out her name, and flip over with difficulty to face the lake!

Under the dark sky, the lake appeared like a mirror. It glowed faintly, seeming serene, alluring and beautiful. Between the lake and the grove was a girl with scattered hair floating in the air.

I knew she was the girl who jumped from the building. Bao Da Tong had burned the pajamas that anchored her. Therefore, she had appeared completely naked.

“Nana…Nana…” Like a siren, she called Nana’s name, drifting closer to the lake every time. Nana followed her step by step. Yet due to me calling out her name, Nana suddenly stopped, as if recalling something.

“Nana…come save Wan Li…Wan Li is in the water!” The girl stepped back a few steps, strengthening her control over Nana. And Nana really continued walking forwards.

“No, Nana, I’m here!” I screamed out again, desperately trying to snap her out of it. I knew if I failed to stop her, she would continue into the lake and drown.

That girl wasn’t like Xiao Ling. Xiao Ling hadn’t blamed anyone else for her death. Although Zhao Jiang had used her to approach Nana, she had been more attached to life, and didn’t harm others. This girl’s nature was more unyielding, so she became very vicious due to her violent death. She sought someone to take her place in death, to get some sense of justice. She had tried to kill me when I climbed the building previously. Now, it was Nana’s turn. Although I sympathized with her situation, I couldn’t allow her to hurt Nana. I just couldn’t understand why Nana would lost control of herself even before the girl appeared.

“Nana, come back! Come back! I’m right here, save me!” I yelled with all my might, trying to salvage things. As I shouted, I even kicked at Bao Da Tong and Ah Zhan with all my strength. But I was too weak and they were too heavily injured. They didn’t react at all.

Seeing me try to interfere, the girl rushed at me angrily. She was about to reach me when the bloodwood sword I had placed back at my waist suddenly glowed red. She screamed and hurriedly drifted back to the lake!

As she retreated, I noticed she looked the same from all directions. Her head, hair and body could only be seen from behind!

“Nana!” This time, the girl and I called out at the same time.

I clearly saw Nana’s hesitation and confusion. How I wished she could hear my pleas and return to my side. Yet after freezing in place for a moment, she took another step forward.

One step, it was just one step, yet it announced my failure, and a pain I would never forget!

The girl laughed maliciously, continuing to call out Nana’s name. I watched as Nana followed her, still desperately trying to call her back while trying to crawl forward at the same time. How I wished there was a passerby who could help me. Yet the lake was already rarely visited during the day, let alone on a rainy night. Even though the grove was burning behind us, no one had noticed!

Bao Da Tong had been right. If you are the cause of a calamity, you couldn’t escape it. You had to choose to face it and resolve it. If you fled in fear, you might even transfer the misfortune to others and cause them harm. Eventually, karma would find you, and you would have to pay a heavier price. Yet people often made incorrect choices in the face of fear. It was just that karma had come too quickly for Nana. She had been trying to protect me. She was also innocent. She was also a victim! If it had been possible, I would have gladly exchanged my life for Nana’s. At that moment, if there had been any way, I would have done it without hesitation. How I wished to take the punishment in her place! We were lovers, and I should have been the one to protect her!

But I couldn’t do it! I couldn’t do it! I was helpless! I could only watch as it happened!

I watched as the mindless Nana walked into the lake. The girl “walked” on its surface, leading her further and further, deeper and deeper, up until her head went below the water. A splash of water and a pale arm struggled futilely above the surface. The arm caused my heart to drip with blood. As the surface quieted, me heart also shattered! Like Nana, I was unable to breathe ever again.

That was the essence of tragedy. Knowing something was going to happen but being unable to prevent it.

I could no longer hold on and passed out. When I awoke, I was already in the hospital. I heard that a fire had burned down the grove by the lake that night. Since the fire started inexplicably on a rainy night, along with the four unconscious males found by the lake, it was ruled as arson. Why someone would do so, and how it was accomplished, would remain a mystery. The school suffered no losses apart from the small grove.

During the investigation, the police discovered that one of the males who were attacked was the lead actor of the theater club. He suffered only minor bruises, but felt dizzy and had no memories of anything. Of the three other males, two were students and one was their friend. They had all suffered head injuries. The least injured was actually the last to wake up. He gripped a small black wooden sword tightly the entire time, unwilling to let go no matter what! The wooden sword was later confirmed to be a childhood toy.

That last person to wake up was me. Honestly, I hadn’t wanted to wake up, to face reality. But I heard Ah Zhan’s voice in my mind while I was unconscious, telling me, “Get up, there’s still unfinished business!”

I knew what he meant. Apart from the four unconscious males, the police had also found a female corpse in the lake. That was my Nana. There were bruises on the back of her neck so it was clearly a murder. Someone had drowned her by holding her neck down! Although there were no footprints at the scene, the case was linked to the arson.

But I knew who was responsible. Anger and grief woke me from my subconscious avoidance. It was already evening. Before me stood Ah Zhan and Bao Da Tong, both with bandages around their heads.

“Bao Da Tong and I will create the illusion that we are still resting to prevent anyone from noticing that we’ve returned to the campus.” Ah Zhan spoke without much emotion, but his eyes contained deep exhaustion and guilt. “I assumed you’d want to finish things with your own hands.”

“Is it still there?” I asked.

“If you mean the girl who jumped from the building, she has probably fled after getting her way last night!” Ah Zhan said. “However, if you want her, I can chase her down via astral projection. She wouldn’t have entered the cycle of reincarnation so quickly.”

I thought about it but ended up shaking my head. “She was merely taking revenge. We were the ones who implicated her in this matter. Although I hate her for killing Nana, every debt has its debtor. What’s the point of going after her?”

“Well said!” Bao Da Tong said, his expression a rare display of solemnity. “However, since victim became aggressor, her reincarnation will definitely not be pleasant. That is her punishment.”

“The one I want is Zhao Jiang.” I spoke through gritted teeth. I’ve never hated anyone so much. “That despicable wretch. Something was wrong with Nana the moment she left the grove. She was long since being controlled! Otherwise, that girl wouldn’t have succeeded so easily.” Nana’s name was like a dagger to my heart, but my hatred for Zhao Jiang allowed me to redirect the pain. Humans were like this. Extreme grief required another equally strong emotion to endure.

“He’s no longer here!” Ah Zhan spoke with certainty. “No soul can escape the bloodwood sword, no matter whose it is. The sinister wretch must have done something without us noticing. He must have split his own soul and mixed it with Nana’s to be able to control her!”

I froze, not having considered that possibility. My jumbled mind had previously assumed the bloodwood sword had been ineffective in my hands and failed to fully eradicate him.

Bao Da Tong nodded. “That’s right. I had felt something was missing when I saw him get wiped out, but why didn’t I realize it!” “He hammered the wall in regret. “I didn’t sense anything wrong with Nana when I saved her from his clutches, but I didn’t expect her to get captured again. He must have done something at that time. Man, why didn’t I push a little harder, why wasn’t I more careful. That way, she wouldn’t have…”

So it was that centimeter’s distance!

My heart mourned as I recalled her pleading gaze and how close our fingertips were from touching. I had been close enough to sense the warmth of her skin, but I let her get taken again. If I had rushed forward just a centimeter more, she wouldn’t have been recaptured. Then, she wouldn’t have been tampered with by the guarded Zhao Jiang.

“Regret won’t change anything. Let’s go make him pay the price now!” Ah Zhan’s words were cold. “That bastard’s obsession with Nana ran too deep. When his plan to take her away failed, he decided to entangle his filthy soul with hers forever. I can sense Nana has yet to leave, so let’s go fish him out!”

Ah Zhan’s words made the three injured youths secretly return to the lake. Working together, Ah Zhan and Bao Da Tong easily fished Nana’s soul out.

Nana was a new spirit. Although she had died violently, her heart was without grudge so she wasn’t able to take shape. Ah Zhan drew a blood glyph on my forehead, allowing me to see the clump of faint, white mist rising from the lake’s surface.

I teared up at the sight. All the previous love, warmth and happiness was like this mist: unattainable. I suddenly understood the bitterness spoken of by the monks. The phrase “until death do us part” mentioned parting, but it was only painful when one lived while the other died!

“Fuck, that bastard really split off two parts of his soul onto Nana.” Bao Da Tong cursed.

My gaze followed his gesture and saw two orbs emitting black aura within the white mist. They swirled and hid, like two evil eyes.

I leapt up and wanted to rush over, but was held back by Ah Zhan.

“Take this.” He handed me a branch covered with blood-drawn talismans. “Don’t underestimate these two portions of his soul. Since he absorbed the handmaiden’s powers, each portion has their own consciousness. As long as a trace of him remains, he will never truly die!”

“Then let’s give him a hand!” I growled.

Ah Zhan nodded. He sat cross-legged, forming strange shapes with his hands. Bao Da Tong started chanting sutras cooperatively. “….each finds their place, prepared to guard the tomb. The Supreme commands, hunt down evil spirits…”   

Along with their movements, the white mist started becoming turbulent, like it was being blown by a wind. It faded and condensed while the two dark orbs slowly merged and floated to the surface. It seemed to be restrained by an invisible power.

“Get the hell out for me!” Bao Da Tong suddenly shouted. Ah Zhan extended his arms at the same time, pointing towards the black aura and jerking his hands backwards.

The black miasma was no longer able to resist and was caught in Ah Zhan’s hand.

He glanced at me and I instinctively raised the branch. I watched as he skewered the two black orbs on the branch like candied fruits! I felt an inexplicable weight against my hand, and the fruitless attempts of the black miasma to escape.

“Have you decided on what to do?” Ah Zhan asked.

“Let’s barbecue!” My boundless hatred replaced my grief. “It’s the most fitting for a clear night by the lake! I want Nana to personally see the consequences of harming and bullying her.”

Without a word, Bao Da Tong immediately summoned a small flame. “This fire doesn’t need any fuel. It’ll burn for however long you wish it to. Ah Zhan and I will set up the formation once again. No one will interrupt you.”

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