First Published on Chaleuria.
The next day had good weather again. The grass was still dewy from the rain yesterday and there were snail trails meandering through the dirt. The sun still rose though, the warm sunlight improving everyone’s mood.
“There’s no class in the afternoon, where are you guys planning to go?” I asked.
“I’m going to buy Coo some new cat litter.” Su Xiaoyun said happily.
“Return to the dorm, do homework. That new maths teacher is an utter asshole.” Shi Yitong said, dejected.
“I-is that so…” I forced a dry laugh. “Then I’m going back to the mountain.”
This scenario all seemed very familiar.
I parted ways with the two of them in front of the dorm building, wandering down that familiar path alone.
— Gu Yu!
While I was walking, almost to my destination, it suddenly seemed as if someone was calling my name. I slowed my steps, hesitant. I looked around, but couldn’t see another soul.
— Gu Yu, this way, this way. Look down.
I looked down as requested and almost jumped in shock. Next to my foot, there was a snow-white ferret staring up at me, standing up on its two hind feet. Its tail swiped from side to side.
“It’s you? Aren’t you from the other day…”
The ferret suddenly opened its mouth, “Are you going to the old residence?”
“Wah!” I was startled into taking half a step back. “The ferret spoke!”
The ferret wore an unhappy expression. Hooking its little claws into my trouser leg, it nimbly climbed up onto my elbow and straightened out its body, glaring at me with beady little eyes. “So rude! It’s only been a few days and you don’t recognize me anymore? If it wasn’t for Mr. Wen’s instructions, I would claw your face to shreds right now!”
I froze, unable to believe my own conclusion. “Oh, are you… are you Bai?”
“How else would there be a talking ferret walking this earth?” Bai said cockily, puffing himself up with self-importance.
… You’ve actually managed to successfully ridicule yourself.
After reaching the old residence and explaining our meeting, the normally expressionless Wen Jiubo laughed so hard that he had tears streaming down his face.
“You got so scared by a little ferret that you couldn’t even talk, hahaha… that’s funny!”
“It’s a talking ferret!” I emphasized stubbornly.
“I’m Bai!” Bai flashed his little tiny claws at me threateningly. “It’s only been a few days and you can’t recognize me any longer!”
“Who knew you were originally just a weasel!”
“Not a weasel, a ferret! Watch this!”
“Aren’t you a demon who’s been cultivating for centuries? You must’ve missed cultivating some brains!”
Wen Jiubo merely stood to one side watching with a smile. He didn’t even try to mediate our quarrel very seriously either. “Okay, stop arguing. The two of you will be co-workers in the future. If you argue you’ll lose your bonus.”
“Co-workers?” I couldn’t help raising my voice.
“That’s right, co-workers. You, and this ferret.” Wen Jiubo pointed at me, then pointed at Bai. “I’ve already previously said that Bai’s cultivation wasn’t enough. Trying to turn himself into that old man was impossible alone, so he borrowed some energy from me. As repayment, he needs to work for me while he starts cultivating again. So, just treat him as your shidi.”
So when Wen Jiubo had told Grandma Li that the ‘payment has already been made’, he meant this.
“Who wants a weasel for a shidi! You really are such a tightwad. It’s not enough to just exploit me, is it? Careful that the animal welfare people don’t charge you with abuse.” I couldn’t help ridiculing him, “Also, what can a weasel even do?”
Bai smacked me in the face with his paw. “Weasel this, weasel that, I already said I’m a ferret! Don’t underestimate me, I already got us a case and it’s only my first day!”
“Oh? A case?” Wen Jiubo looked somewhat interested. “Is that right? What sort of case?”
Bai searched left and right and then somehow managed to actually pull out a sheet of paper from his fur, passing it to Wen Jiubo.
Wen Jiubo unfolded the note and I went to his side to look, curious.
It was almost as if it was a letter, the words on the page were written in a messy, haphazard manner:
Hello! The teachers at school always say that you need to say ‘hello’ when you start a letter. Little ferret, recently I’ve had a very troubling problem, but I also don’t have anyone to talk to, thus I can only talk to you about it. We live in a very big house, inside there’s me, my mom and Uncle Wang. We’re a very happy family, both my mom and Uncle Wang treat me well. However, strange things have been happening in our house recently. My room door would open by itself in the middle of the night. There are also people who come into my room during the night as well. I woke up once at night and saw a black shadow hovering next to my window.
Little ferret, I’m really very scared! I don’t know what’s happening and I really wish you can help me!
That was the entirety of the letter’s contents. From the handwriting, it seemed like it was written by a child.
“Ahem. It’s like this.” Bai cleared his throat, “After I used up my cultivation last time, I found a quiet place to recover my strength. Not far from that place lived a family and I would often steal some food from their kitchen to eat. During one of these times, I was caught by their daughter. That little girl had two small braids and couldn’t be older than seven or eight years. I guess as a sort of repayment for taking their food, I would go and play with the little girl and she would also feed me. Until one day, she started talking to me about how her house was haunted and then wrote me this letter. She’s such a cute little girl, how could I bear for her to be harassed by ghosts? So, I brought this letter to Mr. Wen, as he’ll definitely have some ideas on what to do.”
“It seems like you’re quite enjoying being in that body.” Wen Jiubo nodded thoughtfully. “You’re being spoilt quite thoroughly.”
“Oi!” Bai made an unhappy cry of dissatisfaction.
“This case does seem quite interesting though, I’ll accept it.” Wen Jiubo picked up the note, but then suddenly changed the subject. “However, I’ll be away from Yan City for the next couple of days on business.”
“Business? What business?” I asked reflexively.
I didn’t expect Wen Jiubo to give me a completely irrelevant answer, his lips curling with the barest hint of a smile. “Why? Are you going to miss me?”
My face heated up. “Who would miss you, you narcissist!” I raged.
Wen Jiubo didn’t get angry, he merely smiled and said, “So, in the next couple of days, it’s up to the two of you to do some preliminary investigation on our case!”
“Why are you throwing this mess to me —”
Wen Jiubo raised a finger, cutting me off. “If you the two of you can solve this case before I return, you’ll each get a third of the reward money.”
“That’s what you say every time!” I exclaimed angrily.
“Whether you’re able to achieve it is completely up to you.” Wen Jiubo smiled beatifically, obviously up to no good.
However, in the end, as I still didn’t have enough guts to say no, I ended up agreeing to Wen Jiubo’s terms, taking Bai with me to locate that little girl’s home.
 – Shidi (Chinese: 师弟; pinyin: Shidi; literally: “younger disciple”) is a form of address used to denote a male student who is apprenticed later to a master than oneself. Traditionally used for wushu/martial arts, but can also be used in school (younger male student) or work (younger male co-worker).
Happy Valentines Day everyone <3 Enjoy an extra chapter from Dray & me as a gift of love to y’all~ (psst. feel free to ping me on my twitter for behind the scenes yelling/utds update tidbits ;D)