Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 2 Book of Xun – Chapter 22 Moxue And The Search
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 22 Moxue And The Search
“Oi, Gu Yu.”
“What’s up?” I looked back, perplexed.
Bai’s face suddenly became somewhat serious. He lifted his chin in Moxue’s direction.
“What?” I was confused. When I was about to ask him, Bai stopped talking and nimbly disappeared.
“Gu Yu! Come here quickly!” Moxue called out to me in a loud voice, “Come here, do you know what kind of flower this is?”
Although she was giving me a headache, I had no choice but to come over. “What is it?”
This girl was so energetic that she seemed never to get tired. She finally went to bed at nearly ten o’clock at night. However, unexpectedly, she held onto me and asked me to read her a bedtime story.
“How old are you? Why do you still need a bedtime story?” I was caught between a cry and a laugh.
“Please! I can’t sleep if you don’t read me a bedtime story.” Moxue looked at me with a sad face, her eyes starting to glisten like stars.
I was afraid that if I did not do it, she would cry again, so I agreed immediately without thinking.
“Alright, alright. I give in,” I said in resignation. “You are already such a big girl, what kind of impression are you giving others?”
It seemed that she did not care at all that she left with strangers, lived with them together in a house and stayed with a man in the room at night, asking him to read bedtime stories. If I were her mother, I would be furious. Nevertheless, Moxue did not mind, and now she looked at me earnestly.
“Right! You haven’t told me the story about the Jinhua cat yet!”
“Are you very curious?”
“Of course, I am!”
As a result, I told the story about the old couple to Moxue. Of course, I did not mention the journal that belonged to Shi Yitong’s grandpa. After all, that was a private family matter.
However, after I told her the story, I saw a gleam in her eyes. Moxue seemed to be depressed for a second, but before I could see it clearly, her facial expression returned to normal.
“Do you mean that you want to find the cat demon because it cursed the old couple’s son?”
“Mm…sort of,” I nodded. “Afterall, the old couple are very troubled. Wen Jiubo – the owner of this house, didn’t want to accept their request. So, I have to try my best to help them.”
“I see,” Moxue stared at me with her head rested on her hand. Then she said abruptly, “You are a good man.”
I was caught between a cry and a laugh. “You label me as a good man, but I don’t feel happy at all.”Moxue blinked her eyes. “Label you? What does it mean?”
I felt tired. “Er…nothing. Okay, now that I told you the story, can you sleep?” Honestly, I kept yawning the whole day because Shi Yitong woke me up early in the morning. And now I was even more sleepy.
“Stay with me longer, please.” Moxue reached out and grabbed ahold of the edge of my clothes.
I sighed. I needed to be patient with her, so I just endured it.
I sat patiently with her. She bit her lips and then finally asked, “Do you believe that every demon in the world is evil?”
Why did this question get asked again? I carefully thought it through and then answered seriously.
“…Honestly, I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“Well, demons and humans are two different species; they are different not only in thought but also in social norms,” I pondered. “The things which humans consider wrong are probably of no importance to demons; what demons care about most is possibly worthless to humans. In my view, to an extent, humans and demons can’t understand each other. Well, even humans can’t understand each other. As a result, from a human perspective, I can’t say whether demons are good or evil.”
Moxue stared at me, her eyes shining brightly in the lamplight. She was silent for a few seconds and then she said,
“Gu Yu, you are such a nice person.”
I patted her on her forehead and stood up. “Good night!” I turned off the light when I left the room.
I was the only child in my family and had no siblings. But after spending two days with this clingy girl, I experienced the feeling of having a sister.
Despite her folksy, talkative style and her unknown origin, she followed us and chattered away, making our dull search job funny and interesting.
Shi Yitong and I searched the items belonging to his grandpa during the past few days, and we found some possible locations where the Jinhua cat could be and some places mentioned in folklore. However, there were no useful results. Moxue helped us enthusiastically and sometimes provided strange ideas, but honestly, nothing was helpful.
“Ah, I mean, since the Jinhua cat is a cat,” Moxue looked up abruptly, grinning, “Does she like eating fish? How about we set a trap for the Jinhua cat using fish? Maybe we should try tilapia, carp, crucian, grass carp…”
I patted her head, “Do you think everyone is a foodie like you?”
Moxue covered her head, her face filled with grievance, “You don’t need to hit me! I just want to help, I did nothing wrong!”
In the end, Shi Yitong and I had to try her method. However, all the fished we bought end up in her stomach instead of the Jinhua cat.
What was strange was that Moxue loved eating fish. No matter what bad moods she had, one grilled fish always made her happy again. Shi Yitong and I set a simple barbecue grill by the riverside. We set up a fire on a chilly winter day and grilled some fish. The fish were skewered on sticks and grilled over the fire, smelling great. However, we were driven away by an environmental worker before we could finish our fish. Moxue ran with a fish in her mouth and a fish in each hand, looking like a kitten who had stolen fish.
The time we spent together with Moxue went by fast. In the blink of an eye, we had wasted the entire week in a fruitless investigation. The consequence was that the old couple somehow found out which school I attended. They waited outside the school before my class was over and caught me on my way back.
“Child, about the matter of the Jinhua cat, how’s your investigation going?” The hunchback old man asked me impatiently before I could talk.
“That’s right, it’s already been a week, do you find anything?”
I felt embarrassed because our search turned to be fruitless. I lowered my head to avoid the couple’s gaze.