Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 1 Book of Thunder – Chapter 20 The Old Woman’s Story (2)
Quality Checker: Tezuka
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 20 The Old Woman’s Story (2)
“That day, we had so much fun just chatting with each other. However, after a little while, the sun started to set and I had to rush home. While coming down from the mountain, I never expected to run straight into my mother. When she saw that I came from the direction of the mountain, she got extremely angry and locked me at home for several days and ordered me to never go back to the mountain to play again. Slowly, I forgot that big brother and never went to the mountain to look for him again, until now. I can barely remember if that actually happened then, or if it was all just a dream.”
I couldn’t help myself from interrupting, “Then… why do you now want to find that person?”
“Because of my daughter,” the old woman sighed. “I have one daughter, she’s 33 years old and is a teacher. Due to her busy work life, she’s never married, and never even had a boyfriend. This May, she suddenly fainted and fell from her lectern. When we got the results back from the hospital, we found out that she had late-stage cancer.”
“How could…” I mumbled.
The old woman nodded gently. “Because of chemotherapy, my daughter’s hair all fell out. Her father died early, leaving aside the question of the hospital fees, if she was to leave my side as well… Well, then I really don’t know what to do if that happens. I’ve gone to many hospitals, thought of many ideas, however, none of them helped. It was when I was at the end of my rope that I suddenly remembered that incident.”
“So that’s why you want to find the god that you met when you were a little girl? To ask him to cure your daughter?” I asked.
The old woman nodded.
“The person you’re trying to find, do they have any sort of defining characteristics?” Wen Jiubo suddenly spoke up after remaining silent the entire time. “Name? Features? Age?”
“That….” The old lady seemed really troubled. “He never told me his name, and I can’t remember his features clearly at all. I only remember that he was very good looking. As to his age, at that time, he seemed to be in his twenties, but I don’t’ know if he’s changed at all. Oh, that’s right, at that time, I think he was wearing a fully white outfit. But was it white or grey…?”
I glanced at Wen Jiubo, who was frowning. Indeed, with this sort of dismal information… how would it be possible to find this person? It was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
“Oh, right, there’s this as well. I brought this.” The old woman suddenly started to rummage through her handbag, and she took out a delicate little Yuhua stone. The pebble was brightly-colored and the patterns on it were beautiful as it glistened brightly in the sunlight.
“This was given to me by that god all those years ago and I’ve kept it until now. I’m afraid that this is the only thing left now that can prove his existence.”
“Even if you say that, this is just an ordinary Yuhua stone.” Wen Jiubo glanced at the rock for a moment and then stated, “It doesn’t prove anything.”
At that moment, the old woman suddenly stood up and bowed deeply to the both of us. “Please, I beg of you! Even though I know my request is very unreasonable, but you’re the only hope I have left. Whatever payment you want, no matter what the price, I’ll find a way to pay it! No matter what… no matter what, I must find that god! I really want to save my daughter…”
The old woman’s expression was extremely pained, her eyes wet with tears. However, Wen Jiubo didn’t seem moved by this at all and merely nodded his head.
“I understand your request, I’ll do my best to help you search.”
The old woman’s face immediately crinkled into a smile. She pulled out a piece of paper from her handbag, jotting down her telephone number. She slid the paper into the small bag containing the Yuhua stone and handed it over.
“This is my contact information, and this is the keepsake, I’ll leave them both with you.”
Wen Jiubo nodded. “If we find out anything, we’ll definitely contact you.”
The old woman left the old residence following the twilight glow from the setting sun, leaving behind a mystery-filled story.
Wen Jiubo stretched out his body and then said to me, “It’s getting late, you should go back.”
“Go back?” For a moment, I didn’t quite understand.
“Of course, there’s no place for you to sleep here. Anyway, doesn’t your dorm check the student numbers every night?” Wen Jiubo said matter of factly.
“That’s not the issue though? What about that old lady’s request?”
Wen Jiubo shrugged. “A person she met decades ago, doesn’t know the name or what he looks like and only a common pebble as a lead. This kind of request can’t really be fulfilled, it’s all up to fate.”
I didn’t know why, but I felt a wave of anger suddenly wash over me. “You haven’t even tried to investigate and you’ve already given up?”
“You heard the old lady! This has to do with whether her daughter lives or dies! What happens if the man she met all those years ago was really a god? What happens if that god can save her daughter? She believes in you so much!”
Wen Jiubo cut me off coldly. “She didn’t believe in me,” he said. “She had nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to. I was the choice she made out of desperation. In this world, there’s someone dying every day. In every hospital, there are people dying from terminal cancer, why aren’t you asking me to save them? If a person lives, they must also die. To try and defy the natural law and order of things, humans are indeed arrogant.”
“You!” My temper had been thoroughly roused by his words. “Indeed, humans are arrogant creatures! It’s because humans have feelings and emotions, they have love for friends and family! Unlike you, so stone-hearted and unfeeling, you’re clearly not human!”
Even though my words were extremely harsh, Wen Jiubo didn’t seem to hear them, he didn’t even seem slightly mad.
Wen Jiubo sat up straight in his seat, crossing his arms. “Even if you say that, if it was up to you, how would you find someone who doesn’t exist?”
“I…” I was thrown aback momentarily, unable to retort. However, I managed to force myself to answer, “Even if I don’t know how right now, I would still do my best to search. I wouldn’t give up without even trying like you.”
“Your personality is as stubborn as ever,” Wen Jiubo sighed and raised his chin. “Alright, you might as well take that pebble and the paper then. Maybe you’ll find a better solution before I do.”
“Are you sure?” I picked up the neatly folded cloth bag from the table, half skeptical, half hopeful.
Wen Jiubo nodded, holding out five fingers to me. “If you actually solve this case, I’ll split the payment with you fifty-fifty.”
My eyes immediately lit up. “Are you serious?”
“I’m a man of my word.”
Just like that, I returned back to school holding the small cloth bag. By the time I got to the dorm, it was already eight o’clock at night and I only just remembered then that I had yet to eat dinner. I immediately rushed to the food hall to fill my empty stomach…
 Yuhua stone (Chinese: 雨花石; pinyin: Yuhua shi; literally: “rain flower stone”) is a special kind of stone found in Nanjing, China, due to the unique geology of the area. From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuhua_Stone