Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 1 Book of Thunder – Chapter 57 Wangliang
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 57 Wangliang
But Wen Jiubo fell silent, clearly not wanting to tell me.
I was slightly angry, glaring at him. “Is it a giant black bug?”
Wen Jiubo frowned, looking towards me. “How do you know?”
“I had a dream before you woke me, I dreamt of my deceased grandfather. He said a lot of strange things to me and then… I saw that there was a very big black bug on his back.” I said, a word at a time. “Wen Jiubo, what was that?”
Wen Jiubo and I looked at each other for a moment and then he finally sighed, showing a slight smile.
“That’s right, I almost forgot your special power. Looks like I can’t hide it from you even if I wanted to.”
I crossed my arms. “At least you’ve still aware of that.”
Wen Jiubo smiled, lowering his head as if thinking about how to clear things up.
“Have you heard about Wangliang?”
“Wangliang? Like in Chimei Wangliang?” I asked dubiously.
“Exactly right, that Wangliang.” Wen Jiubo said firmly. “That’s this demon’s name.”
“But… isn’t that name of four minor demons? Are Wang and Liang the same type of demon?”
“In terms of demons, the history books have different ways of describing it.” Wen Jiubo said confidently. “Firstly, this four-word phrase first appeared in《Commentary of Zuo: Xuan Gong, Year Fifteen》, ‘Do not cross the path of the Chimei Wangliang.’ But in the Commentary of Zuo, it never said how many different types of demons made up Chimei Wangliang. Not long afterward, 《The Records of the Grand Historian: Annals of the Five Emperors》 also recorded the two words, ‘Wangliang’. In the record, it stated ‘Wangliang has the facial features of a human, the body of a beast with four limbs, a crafty deceiver.’ This very clearly states that Chimei and Wangliang are only two different demons, unlike how most people who interpret it from the original phrase as four individual types of demons.”
I nodded, only understanding half of it.
“Within the first dictionary in Chinese history, 《Cloud Chapter》, there’s a separate explanation for Chimei and Wangliang. It is said that mountain spirits are Chimei and water spirits are Wangliang. From then onwards, Chimei became synonymous with mountain spirits and beast-form demons while Wangliang were described as demons of wood and stone.” Wen Jiubo continued explaining, “And then afterward, in the Qing Dynasty, Toriyama Sekien from Japan further explained Wangliang demons. In his illustrated scroll 《Demon Hordes from Past and Present》, he describes Wangliang all as the same type of demon, with the form of a three-year-old child, black of color, red of eye, long of ear and moist of hair. They enjoyed feasting on the livers of corpses.”
As I listened, I felt even more confused. I had to interrupt him, “What are you talking about? Can’t you explain in clearer terms?”
Wen Jiubo looked at me in a teasing manner. “Ha, and you call yourself a Chinese language student.”
“You’re so annoying!”
“Simply put, Wangliang is a sort of demon that consumes dead people’s corpses as food. In the countryside, there’s often mysterious cases where graves are dug up and bodies vanish. Most of the time, it’s a Wangliang’s doing. Under normal circumstances, Wangliang’s temperaments are rather mild and they’re not many in number. They consume human or animal corpses as food and are considered rather harmless demons.” Wen Jiubo crossed his arms thoughtfully. “Usually, they rarely attack a live human being, but there’s an exception to every rule. If there was a particular human that looked very delicious, then no matter what, even if they were still alive they would be chosen very early on by a Wangliang.”
I swallowed. “Then what would happen… if you get chosen?”
“They’ll die, of course. However, before they die, the flesh of their body will start to be chewed and consumed by the Wangliang Then they die slowly, confused and in pain.” Wen Jiubo said calmly.
I couldn’t speak for a moment, recalling in my mind the way my grandfather was before he died. He was quite mad and not in his right mind and right before he died, his entire body had already started to give off a bad smell and had also started to rot.
Including tonight’s dream… my grandfather’s legs had already rotted that the white bone beneath had shown. Was that the result of being gnawed on by Wangliangs?
“Then, what sort of person would be chosen by Wangliangs while still alive?” I recalled an image of my grandfather back when he was still alive. I really couldn’t think of a reason why a normal, bad-tempered old man would attract such a terrifying demon.
“Who knows.” Wen Jiubo sighed, spreading his hands. “I’m not a Wangliang, and I also don’t know how they chose their prey.”
“Is that so…” I felt a little letdown, but what Wen Jiubo said was right.
It looked like that before this case made any real progress, we were unable to do anything at all.
“The thing is, this Wangliang did not disappear after your grandfather’s death but remained lingering in this house.”
Wen Jiubo walked in front of me and the two of us entered the hospital, sitting down on the chairs outside the ward to wait.
“Although I don’t know why, but this demon seems to be very interested in your family. That’s why it continues to lie dormant here, waiting to target a new prey.”
“So then, why can’t you exorcise this demon straight away?” I started getting worked up again. “Use your paper charms or a chant, or even cast a ritual or something?”
Wen Jiubo looked at me helplessly. “Did you watch too many tv shows? If every demon in the world could be exorcised by a simple ritual, then exorcists would be long out of a job.”
“Exorcists are basically out of a job nowadays anyway…” I mumbled.
Wen Jiubo raised a hand and flicked me on the forehead.
“Who told you to shoot off your mouth? You deserve it.”
I poked out my tongue at him. “It’s more you! I got you where it hurts didn’t I?”
Wen Jiubo ignored my teasing words and continued on with his previous train of thought. “I’ve said many times already, these so-called demons are all created within human hearts. Therefore if you want to exorcise a demon completely, you’ll need to start from the person. If you don’t understand the originating reason of a demon then no matter how much effort you put in, there’ll be no result.”
I opened my mouth, just as I was about to say something, the door to hospital room suddenly opened. My mom and my uncle walked out first, followed by my male cousin and my second female cousin who both hurried here after us.
Everyone’s expressions were downcast. Of course, the adults didn’t need to be mentioned again, but even my second female cousin, who had been on her phone the entire time yesterday with a look of utter disdain, was completely pale and shaking. My male cousin was even worse, as soon as he walked out of the hospital room, his tears didn’t stop falling. After he saw Wen Jiubo and me, he actually started sobbing out loud.
“Master! Sir! Master Wen! I beg of you, please save my grandmother. She’s such a good lady, she doesn’t deserve to die like this!” My male cousin grabbed Wen Jiubo’s sleeve, crying. “My grandmother was so good to me, please save her, I’m begging you!”
I was quite startled by this sudden situation, even Wen Jiubo frowned.
“Calm down, what happened?” Wen Jiubo asked quietly.
“Go in and see for yourself.” My uncle said unwillingly, turning his head away.