Back from hiatus. Whether you’re a new or returning reader, thank you for checking out my new translation project. This webnovel was released fifteen years ago and my mom suggested I check it out. It was a huge hit and is listed as a “must-read”. It’s an interesting mix of horror and romance. For some reason, the official raws seem to have been scrubbed from the original publisher’s site, which makes me a little nervous. I found out a TV series of this novel is supposed to come out this year. I’m enjoying it quite a bit so far so I will keep going until I finish, unless I get into trouble for being an unlicensed translator…
A pair of hands slowly crept up Xiao Xia’s neck.
They were knotted and cracked like the trunk of a withered tree, but they were also exceptionally firm. They brought with them sinister chills from hell and were determined to pull Xiao Xia down onto the sofa.
She couldn’t see who the hands belonged to, but sensed that the hands were brown with faint red lines that looked like scratch marks.
Outside the window, it was unusually lively. It wasn’t clear if people were walking by on stilts or whether there was a traditional wedding ceremony going on. Only her surroundings were quiet, so quiet it was like she could hear her own heartbeat. It was as though the whole world was unaware of her struggle.
The office was on the nineteenth floor of the building.
At this altitude, it shouldn’t be possible to hear anything except for the wind blowing outside. Furthermore, it also wasn’t possible to see outside the window from her position. Even if she could see and hear, such a procession couldn’t be passing by on the busy streets. Therefore, despite still being immersed in this nightmare, she was also clearheaded enough to know she was suffering from sleep paralysis again.
She knew things would get better as long as she sat up. However, the hands wrapped themselves tighter and pulled her back down the moment she got up. She knew that her appearance on the sofa was like a tilting doll. This laughable situation evoked a trace of stubbornness in her feeble mind, and made her resist even more fiercely.
However, it was useless! The withered hands wrapped around her neck and tightened continuously until she was unable to breathe.
Suddenly, she randomly invoked the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva’s name!
The pair of hands shrunk back as though burned by fire and a sharp groan sounded out. This allowed Xiao Xia to gasp for breath. However, before she could get up, the withered hands that had yet to vanish completely stretched out for vengeance. Although they were hesitant, they were also determined. They were in a lot of pain but also seemed set on dragging her into the darkness. Xiao Xia suffered a fright and hurriedly called out a few more chants before managing to break free.
The clock displayed quarter to one.
It was the middle of the day. The Vast Sky Law Firm’s female lawyer Yue Xiao Xia awoke from her nap-induced sleep paralysis. There were no traces of the fierce struggle. She was merely prone on her office desk and her mouth was currently open. She had embarrassingly drooled on her files.
At this moment, the sound of knocking woke her up a little more. The person that appeared made her feel even more at ease. It was Xiao Wang, an interning lawyer at the firm. She was going to meet with the defendant of her new case. Since she was a female lawyer, she couldn’t meet the suspect of a criminal case by herself. She had to be accompanied by a male lawyer. Therefore, Xiao Wang would go with her.
The detention center was rather far and they needed to leave a little earlier to save some time in the afternoon.
The sunlight shining on her made her feel the terrifying nightmare was in the distant past.
Yue Xiao Xia had loafed around for a few years after graduating from law school. She only took the national bar exam after she had no other choice, and became a lawyer after passing. Others were very envious of her for getting a good career but the grass was always greener on the other side. Only she herself knew this field didn’t suit her at all. She was sloppy, indecisive and impulsive, without astuteness, reactiveness and professionalism. Her negative traits were harshly reflected in her performance. After getting through her period as an intern, she became the lawyer with the lowest percentage of cases won within the city’s largest law firm. If the head lawyer hadn’t been her college professor, she would probably have been kicked out long ago. She knew her colleagues spoke behind her back, saying how she relied on relationships to stay and waste resources. However, she could only endure, endure and endure.
The firm normally wouldn’t send a female lawyer for such a bloody case. Furthermore, she had never won a criminal case before. However, the suspect in this case didn’t ask for a lawyer and there was the possibility of a death sentence. Therefore, based on the principles of upholding justice, the court assigned the Vast Sky Law Firm to fulfill this obligation. This sort of profitless case was naturally given to someone mediocre like herself.
The case was very simple. The facts were clear and the evidence was solid. The point of contention was the suspect’s mental state at the time. However, this case was also very cruel and bloody, making her blood run cold.
The suspect was a forty-two year old called Li Jing Ming. He was the math teacher of a major school: Third Middle School. He lived with his wife, son, divorced sister-in-law and his parents-in-law. This was a household of teachers. Apart from his fifteen year old son who was in high school, they were all teachers. Li Jing Ming and his wife taught at the same school.
According to his colleagues, friends and neighbors, Li Jing Ming was usually taciturn, gentle and prudent. His wife’s family was dominant so he was famously a good, henpecked old man. However, a little over a month prior to this case, Li Jing Ming seemed to have become a different person. He often got into fierce arguments with his family in all sorts of situations, and even made violent gestures with his limbs. Compared to his usual self, it was like he was possessed by a ghost.
The night of the case, Li Jing Ming had argued with his wife again. Afterwards, he used a Cuban machete he had prepared in advance to cruelly kill his wife and his in-laws who were startled awake. His own son was forced to jump out of the sixth-story window with grievous slash wounds to survive, and was currently in a coma. He might remain in a vegetative state for the rest of his life.
The crime scene was extremely bloody and tragic.
When the police arrived, they heard a burst of creepy, maniacal laughter. Blood flowed like rivers at the scene and there was almost nowhere to walk in the living room. The four corpses were “sitting” side-by-side on the sofa. One of the corpses had a head on its lap, but it wasn’t clear if it was its own. The other corpse’s head dangled in front of its chest, only attached by a sliver of skin and thus resulting in this weird, crooked angle. The third corpse’s head had simply rolled next to the door and almost caused the police officers who burst inside to trip over. As for Li Jing Ming, he sat on the other sofa and held his wife’s head, muttering, “Was it? Was it?”
He didn’t seem to have noticed the intruders and didn’t pay them any mind. Therefore, the police was able to subdue him without any effort. Afterwards, he started struggling with all his might, shouting: “It wasn’t! Not at all! There’s a ghost! There’s a ghost!” His mournful wailing gave the entire neighborhood the chills.
During the trial, he refused to answer any questions and attempted suicide several times. After he was saved, he kept his mouth sealed about the entire situation. Experts had ruled out any mental issues due to his calm rationality. Therefore, all that was left was for him to be sentenced.
It was said that of the rookie officers who went to the scene, some had fainted on the spot and others remained traumatized for a while. Even those experienced officers weren’t able to remain calm. Furthermore, Li Jing Ming’s neighbors no longer dared to leave their houses after dark. It was clear how frightening the scene had been. Xiao Xia felt this was reasonable. She had seen many photos of the scene. Just looking briefly at the photos made her feel a chill in her bones and unwilling to have anything to do with this matter.
However, no matter how much she wanted to keep her distance and no matter if she was frightened to death, she still had to put on a calm and astute appearance. She braced herself as she arrived at the detention center and met with the suspect, the perpetrator of this horrifying case.
Today, she finally understood why it was said that lawyers interacted with demons.
“Mister Li, I am Yue Xiao Xia. I’ve been appointed by the court as your lawyer.” Xiao Xia introduced herself calmly, but she still didn’t have the courage to meet the other party’s eyes.
Li Jing Ming’s gaze remained fixed on the floor and he didn’t say a word.
“As the lawyer for your defense, it is my responsibility to protect your legal rights. Therefore, I will do everything in my power to help you.” Xiao Xia continued speaking while observing the situation. Seeing Xiao Wang sitting on her left while Li Jing Ming was separated by a sturdy table along with a police officer nearby on the right, she felt a little more at ease. However, she suddenly realized that she was spouting off her conventional opening statements like a rookie, explaining the rights of the suspect without any response from him at all. It was like she was playing the lute for a cow, which merely revealed her anxiety.
This won’t do!
No matter what, she was still an established lawyer. Even if her abilities were lacking and her win rate was low, she couldn’t make a fool of herself in front of a junior intern! Furthermore, this was the first meeting. In theory, she was supposed to listen and understand while establishing mutual trust with the defendant. How could she be anxious and helpless?! Don’t be scared, don’t be scared! There’s an officer present. Be more assertive. Xiao Xia thought this way and forced herself to toughen up, hoping to find some way of communication.
This was her first time observing the defendant in detail.
He was very frail, essentially all skin and bones. His skin was abnormally pale, perhaps due to being locked up without any daylight or perhaps it was his natural skin tone. His slightly green hue made it almost possible to discern his veins. His body seemed to be shrunken in his wooden seat, and even his shadow was curled up in the darkness, seemingly waiting for something. If he wasn’t accompanied by someone, Xiao Xia would have mistaken him for a wax figure from the movie “The Horrifying Wax Museum” instead of a living person.
“Then, can you talk about the situation that day?” Xiao Xia took a sip of water and reluctantly broached the main topic with a direct question. Otherwise, she knew she would be talking to herself the entire day.
Li Jing Ming’s eyes finally moved. Then, his neck turned around and went from staring at the floor to staring at Xiao Xia. However, his reaction didn’t make her feel any better. Instead, she got goosebumps.
Did no one notice it? The angle his neck turned was weird, and his eyes were clear yet filled with meaning. This person was abnormal all over. How was he judged mentally stable enough to be sentenced?
“I didn’t kill anyone.” Li Jing Ming suddenly spoke, his voice seemingly distant. “I didn’t kill anyone.” He repeated lightly. “There was a ghost. He turned into my family’s appearances. He coerced me. He killed them. It was him! It wasn’t me! I didn’t kill anyone!”
As he spoke, Li Jing Ming suddenly stood up and grabbed Xiao Xia’s wrist.
“I didn’t kill anyone! It was him! It was him! It was that evil spirit! Help me! Help me!”
Everyone was startled by the sudden turn of events. Then, the officer present along with others who barged in went to restrain the out-of-control Li Jing Ming. Prior to being restrained, he continued yelling at Xiao Xia who had squeezed herself into the corner in fear, “There’s an evil spirit! Believe me, he killed them! It was him! There’s an evil spirit!”
After the hysterical voice faded, Xiao Wang was pale as he muttered to himself: “Dear god, he must be possessed!”
Whether or not he was possessed, whether or not she would be mocked by her colleagues and whether or not Director Pan would hate iron for not turning into steel, she no longer wanted anything to do with this case. She wanted to withdraw.
Xiao Xia lowered her head and looked at her wrists. She knew that there would be bruising. She believed that they would be ghostly handprints. This was because she had truly felt an alarming and oppressive aura from Li Jing Ming’s body.
This case might not be as simple as it seemed. It wasn’t only horrifying in the normal sense.
Therefore, she was going to withdraw!