Translator: Kelaude, MoMoePom
First Published on Chaleuria.
The woman pulled the youth’s arm with a helpless and impatient expression on her face. However, no matter how she pulled, he wouldn’t budge an inch. The young lad stubbornly remained crouched on the ground, sobbing, and refusing to go anywhere with the woman.
While he cried, he also screamed, “No…I don’t wanna move to the city!! I don’t wanna move to the city! I don’t want to go! I want to stay together with grandpa!”
“Son, why are you like this?!” reprimanded the young lad’s parents as they pulled him again. But it was to no avail, they weren’t able to drag him an inch.
His grandpa walked out at this moment, his face ashen and exceptionally gloomy. The moment he exited the door, he pointed at the young man and began scolding him angrily.
“What are you doing? What do you think you’re doing? Brat, are you trying to rebel? Your dad and mom take great pains to earn money so they can send you to school in the city, and yet you’re being rebellious?! Are you still even human?!”
The youth was shocked when he heard those words, then tears cascaded down incessantly.
“You’re crying? Why are you even crying? A man should act like a man, why are you shedding tears?!” His brows still furrowed, his grandpa scowled furiously. “You’re so useless! I don’t have a useless grandson like you! Hurry up and scram! Now!”
Finally, the youth left the village weeping, dragged away by his parents. His grandpa remained rooted to the ground in the yard, staring at the willow tree, his thoughts unfathomable.
“Old man, you were too harsh.”
The grandmother walked out from the house unhurriedly, her hands still holding onto half-sewn clothes.
“Our baby will attend school in the big city. That’s a wonderful thing for him.” mumbled grandpa, the number of emotions hidden in his words indiscernible. “We cannot allow our precious grandson to constantly think about us and neglect his studies. That won’t do at all.”
Memories that did not belong to me flowed into my mind like a stream. I watched on as the scenes unfolded one by one and suddenly felt disturbed by the fact that I was intruding on someone else’s privacy. At the same time, I was overcome by sorrow. I felt hollow inside, unable to cry even though I wanted to.
It was at this moment, those memories like a flickering carousel-lantern vanished into thin air. A dark empty void manifested right before my eyes. While I was puzzling deep down about what was happening, a weird sound suddenly rang out in my ears.
It was the sound of a bell. A distinctively sharp and clear bell rang in my ears. This sound seemed to be able to pierce through space as it beat against my heart, one chime at a time.
At this moment, I caught sight of a human figure in the encroaching darkness ahead. The figure was moving forward at an unhurried pace. I broke into a jog as I gave chase, and realized that the man was none other than Shi Yitong’s grandfather.
I subconsciously called out to him, “A-are you Shi Yitong’s grandpa?”
But, only silence replied.
“Grandpa! Where are you going?” I wanted to chase after him but the surrounding darkness suddenly vanished.
A voice woke me up with a start.
There seemed to be someone shouting. The voice was very loud as though it came from the room next door.
In one quick movement, I jumped down from the bed and rushed out of my room. The one shouting was Shi Yitong. He didn’t seem to have slept last night as he’d stayed in his grandpa’s room to attend to him. By the time I barged into the room, Shi Yitong was smacking his grandfather’s cheeks. He had a look of despair as he wailed, “Grandpa? Grandpa? Grandpa! Grandpa! What’s wrong with you? Wake up!”
I stood rooted to the spot right outside the room. I really wanted to ask what had happened but when I saw this side of Shi Yitong, my throat dried up and I wasn’t able to even utter a word.
Shi Yitong was the first to turn to me, with his lips tightly pursed and his eyes wide open. The expression on his face was not so much full of sadness, as it was full of shock.
“Gu Yu, my grandpa…stopped breathing.”
Shi Yitong’s grandpa had passed away. The time he breathed his last was around the same time I was trapped in that weird dream.
Not long after, upon hearing the commotion, his grandmother also rushed over. With just an “Oh my!”, she covered her mouth and silently wept. Shi Yitong, on the other hand, just stood blankly by his grandfather’s bed in a daze. He had even lost the energy to cry.
Faced with this situation, I was at a loss as to what to do. While I was in the middle of wondering what to say, Shi Yitong suddenly stood up agitatedly.
“My grandpa’s gone! This is impossible! Why?! It must be because of that devious method from that swindling Wen bastard! What is he trying to do?! Why does he want to kill my grandpa?!”
Shi Yitong’s eyes turned a shade of red, looking like a raging lion cub.
“Calm down! We don’t even know what’s going on yet! It might not be…” I reached out my hand to stop him. I never expected him to retaliate and push me away.
“You’re the one who found that swindler! So you have to find him again for me!” bellowed Shi Yitong in rage. “I’ll make sure he dies a painful death!”
Shi Yitong was already on the verge of losing his sanity. Just when the entire situation turned chaotic and was about to spiral out of control, I heard a voice.
“I heard that there’s someone here who hopes that I will die a painful death.”
This voice was-！
We both looked back and saw Mr. Wen standing firmly in the center of the courtyard. There was a smile in his eyes, his long hair was tied up with a hairpiece and a black hat over it. He was wearing a pitch-black robe, the edges of its front opening were wide and long, leaving the entire lower hem of the robe flipping in the wind, and on the back was a complete diagram of the Qian-Kun Eight Trigrams.
It was a Daoist robe. A black Daoist robe which I had never seen before.
(A fancy version of the robe I imagined, but Daoist robe doesn’t look like this in real life. XD)
Shi Yitong was shocked too, but he soon frowned. “Who’s this guy? Why is he in my home?”
Just as I was about to answer, I saw Mr. Wen over on the other side opening his mouth first.
“My last name is Wen. The reason I came here is…” Mr. Wen appeared neither humble nor haughty. He just calmly looked at Shi Yitong and continued, “to save the man who belongs to ‘this shore’ but is wandering on ‘the other shore’.”
“Wen? Hey, so you are that swindler named Wen!” Shi Yitong immediately roared in rage. Were it not for me stopping him from the side, he would probably have already greeted Mr. Wen with a punch to the face. “Your shitty idea not only did not save my grandpa, it actually killed him! And now you even have the guts to show up, just watch how I–”
Mr. Wen glanced at Shi Yitong, then at me, who was at a complete loss as to what to do. He then interrupted Shi Yitong in a flat tone.
“I’ve never said that my method could save people.”
This time, both Shi Yitong and I went blank momentarily. “What?”
“If you don’t believe me, you can ask your friend.” Mr. Wen pointed at me with his chin, and said almost indifferently, “When you came into my store, did I ever promise you that I’d save someone?”
Shi Yitong too looked at me, and I was dumbfounded. “This…”
It was true that he didn’t promise anything that day in that strange old residence. All he said was, “Why don’t you give it a try and see,” but–
“What kind of exorcist are you!” I shouted at him angrily, “You said it yourself that you solve problems and worries for others, then how can you lie to people like this? This is a person’s life!”
“Who said I lied to you?” However, Mr. Wen remained unmoved and said calmly, “Did you forget what exactly was the worry that you asked me to help you with?”
What? I was completely lost.
But before I could say anything, he had already answered for me. “You were worrying about the sound that this Chinese cedar nested coffin was making at night, weren’t you? Then let me ask you, did this coffin have the knocking sound again last night?”