Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits

Vol 2 Book of Xun – Chapter 14 The Old Couple’s Request

Translator: PandaWu

Editor: Draygan

First Published on Chaleuria.

 

Chapter 14 The Old Couple’s Request

“Who told you to steal instead of doing your job every day? Of course, we’ll use you as an example.” Wen Jiubo smiled.

“You just blame me for not doing your job for you.” Bai complained and then he looked at me. “This guy is too happy that everyone around him has become his slaves!”

I laughed and looked at Wen Jiubo. Suddenly a strange question occurred to me. “What if there are demons who are familiar with human ‘rules’ and imitate the way humans live?”

“Why would they do such a thing?” Wen Jiubo asked.

“Err… This… I was just suddenly curious.” I mumbled.

“For demons, the rules of the human society are too complicated. What they should do and what they should not do, these undisciplined demons can’t understand.” Wen Jiubo said slowly. “To understand complicated human rules, the demon must have lived for more than a thousand years, but those kinds of monsters are rare now.”

“R-really.” I immediately felt like I had asked a stupid question, so I stopped talking.

At this moment, there came a knocking sound on the door. It seemed that someone was knocking on the door of this old house, It was soon followed by some shouts as well.

“Excuse me, does Mr.Wen live here?”

“Exorcist Wen, are you home?”

“Mr. Wen!”

It sounded like an old couple.

But Wen Jiubo was still appreciating his own calligraphy in his hand and ignored their calls. However, the old couple outside were very persistent, they kept knocking on the heavy and thick wooden door.

“Please, Mr. Wen! Are you home?!”

“We have a very important matter and we need your help!”

I glanced at Wen Jiubo and couldn’t help but ask, “Aren’t you going to answer the door? It seems that they are here to ask you to exorcise demons.”

Wen Jiubo now had some response, but surprisingly he frowned and glanced at the ferret who was lying nearby. “Didn’t you put up the closed sign outside? Bai, go out and send our guests away.”

Bai yawned lazily and stood up. “Okay…”

“Wait, closed sign?” I was confused. “Aren’t you home right now? Why would you put up a closed sign and refuse customers?”

“Working people also need rest days, right? I have some bad days when I do not want to receive any customers,” Wen Jiubo answered casually.

I heard the knocking stop for a while, but soon the couple resumed knocking on the door again. “Mr. Wen! Please, if you are home, please take our job and help us! The remuneration is a small matter!”

“This won’t do. I’m going to take a look.” I stood up abruptly. “The people outside sounds anxious. It is late at night, it must be something urgent or they would not keep persistently knocking at the door.”

After saying that, I walked towards the door.

Though Wen Jiubo said that he did not want to accept any customers, he sighed in resignation and followed me. “I can’t stand you, you always bring me trouble.”

When we reached the entrance, I found the two heavy doors were closed tightly. Although they were not locked, the people outside were not able to open it. Wen Jiubo stood in front of the doors; he simply brushed his long sleeve over the door and then the door opened.

Just as I thought previously, an old couple stood outside the door. They looked more than fifty years old and had gray hair. The old man seemed delighted when he saw the door opened by us, he then bowed to me.

“Thank God, Mr. Wen, you finally opened the door. That’s great, that’s great, our Yingcai will be saved.”

Before I could even speak, the old lady also bowed. “Mr. Wen, you are such a great man, you must be the reincarnation of Zhong Kui[1]. Please, you must save our Yingcai!”

I was confused, but I came forward quickly to help them up and said in embarrassment. “Ah, sir and ma’am, you are mistaken. I am not Mr. Wen, I am only his assistant,  the man behind me is Mr. Wen.”

The old couple then looked at Wen Jiubo and bowed to him again.

“Ah, Mr. Wen! We have heard your name for a long time.”

“This time you must help us, please!”

Wen Jiubo raised up his chin slightly and stood upright, his face impassive. It seemed that he had not changed his mind.

“Okay, please don’t bow to us.” I had to hold them up again while whispering to them. “He is very powerful, he definitely can help you.”

“Okay, come in first.” The look on Wen Jiubo’s face showed that he had given in a little. He turned to the side and let the old couple enter the yard.

The old couple kept thanking him before entering the house.

Wen Jiubo and I sat opposite to the old couple. Bai quickly made some tea, he held the teacups with his tiny but dexterous claws and served the tea to the old couple.  The old couple was astonished, but they thanked him before accepting the tea.

“All right, you took all the trouble to come to my house late in the night, so what are you here for?” Wen Jiubo sat on the wooden floor crossed-legged, he put his hands on his knees and asked.

The old lady glanced at her husband with worry, and the old man looked back at her with the same expression. Finally, the old man started to talk.

“Well… it’s like this.” The old man had to raise his hand and wipe his sweat on his forehead. “Recently, something strange happened to my son, Yingcai.”

“What kind of strange thing?” I interrupted impatiently.

“My son, Yingcai, studied in another city. We heard afterward that he had a pretty girlfriend in that city and that the girl is pretty and virtuous. This was supposed to be a happy thing. Yingcai is of marriageable age and we were always concerned about his marriage. We didn’t expect that he came home with the girl who was exceptional in everything. We were so happy that we held a dinner to celebrate because of this.”

“However, something strange happened later,” The old lady carried on with her husband’s story and added. “Yingcai came home last week with the girl. When we saw her, she was indeed a pretty and virtuous girl exactly like our son described. Yingcai was so obsessed with this girl and gave everything good and expensive to her. However, just a few days after he came home with the girl, oh my god, strange things started happening. At first, Yingcai lost his appetite and he could not eat anything. And then he started to become absent-minded, often chatting incomprehensibly to inanimate objects. Otherwise, he’d lock himself in his room and not come out for days.”

I swallowed my saliva and asked, “And?”

“And the strangest thing happened!” The old lady said, with a look of anxiety and sadness. “We found out that Yingcai grew cat hairs on his body!”


 Translator’s Notes:

[1] Zhong Kui – is a figure of Chinese mythology. Traditionally regarded as a vanquisher of ghosts and evil beings, and reputedly able to command 80,000 demons, his image is often painted on household gates as a guardian spirit, as well as in places of business where high-value goods are involved. Read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhong_Kui

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