Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 3 Book of Exchange – Chapter 27 Secret Investigation (2)
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 27 Secret Investigation (2)
“Ay, I’m here to help you clean. Don’t worry!”
While we were chatting, I suddenly heard a female voice.
“Gu Yu, what a coincidence, are you also eating lunch here?”
I looked up and saw Su Xiaoyun standing right in front of us with a bag of steamed buns in her hand. She was friendly towards me, but totally ignored Shi Yitong.
“What are you talking about?”
“Urm…” I looked at Su Xiaoyun and quickly glanced over to Shi Yitong. He was acting like a coward and didn’t dare to look at her even after she showed up. At the same time, Su Xiaoyun refused to look at him too.
What were they doing? They were acting like a couple after an argument.
“We’re talking about demons.” They left me no choice but to be the first one to talk. I lifted my chin towards Shi Yitong. ” I asked him if we could go look at his grandfather’s belongings after class to see if there’s anything useful.”
“Why? Did you receive another weird request?” Su Xiaoyun was curious.
“Urm, no. I just want to investigate something. It’s hard to explain…”
Su Xiaoyun interrupted me before I could finish.
“Well, I want to go with you.” Su Xiaoyun smiled at me. “I need to buy something after school, so I have some time to help you during your investigation. What do you think?”
“Great, it’ll be a lot faster with three people!” I immediately agreed. I stamped on Shi Yitong’s foot when I saw his expressionless face.
“Urm…em…” Shi Yitong reluctantly opened his mouth, but Su Xiaoyun interjected before he could say a word.
“Okay, it’s a deal. I’ll meet you after school. Bye.” Su Xiaoyun waved her hand at me to say goodbye and left. She totally ignored Shi Yitong during the whole conversation.
“Are you an idiot?” I stared at Shi Yitong. He was such a coward.
“I..I don’t know what to do…” Shi Yitong wanted to cry but couldn’t even shed a single tear. “She didn’t even look at me, and I didn’t know what to say. Maybe she hates me so much that she refuses to talk to me anymore.”
I rolled my eyes and didn’t want to comment on his inability to read the mood. It was just typical of a straight guy like Shi Yitong. That girl clearly came here wanting to give him a chance to apologize to her, but he didn’t even seize this opportunity. I was speechless.
Whatever, this was between those two, I would let them solve it themselves. I wondered if Su Xiaoyun would forgive Shi Yitong who always overlooked those details.
After school, the three of us, along with Su Xiaoyun’s cat, took a ride to the house of Shi Yitong’s grandma. The atmosphere was so weird since Su Xiaoyun refused to talk to Shi Yitong, and Shi Yitong was so afraid that his goddess would hate him that he chose to sit by the window at the very back of the car.
I found myself caught in the crossfire and had to deal with both of them.
“So what you’re saying is that you’re looking for information to find out Wen Jiubo’s real identity, right?” Asked Su Xiaoyun.
I nodded. “En, Shi Yitong’s grandpa had a thick journal that recorded all kinds of anecdotes of Yan City. I think that maybe I can find something in there.”
“So, did you two have a fight or something?” Su Xiaoyun gently stroked Coo in her arm and asked.
“A fight? Wen Jiubo and I?” I blanked out for a second before shaking my head. “No, we didn’t, or you can say…not yet. Honestly, it’s not like I can fight with him anyway. I just want to know his identity. After all, it’s Wen Jiubo’s right to choose not to tell me…”
“I don’t think so,” Su Xiaoyun looked at me and said seriously. “If he refused to tell you something as important as this, it means that he doesn’t trust you. We all know that you trust him with your life. So I’ve decided to support you and help you find out the truth.”
“Well, thank you.” I forced a smile. Although I was happy to hear that, I had enough of being caught in the crossfire.
“But Gu Yu, speaking of the big monster, I suddenly thought of a folktale.”
As Shi Yitong began to talk, Su Xiaoyun immediately shut her mouth and turned her head to look outside the window.
“Uh, what folktale?” I sighed.
“I heard about it from grandpa when I was little. I would have forgotten it if you hadn’t mentioned it.” Shi Yitong changed his posture to face me. “Do you know Bai Ze?”
“Bai Ze?” After thinking for a moment, I nodded. “Isn’t that an auspicious beast from ancient Chinese legends? It resembles a white horse…”
“It’s not a horse, it’s like a Qilin, okay?” Shi Yitong shook his hand to rebut. “It was said that Bai Ze was the mount of the Yellow Emperor. During a patrol, the Yellow Emperor encountered Bai Ze at a place called Hai Bin. Bai Ze thought the Emperor was extraordinary compared to ordinary humans, so it followed the Emperor back home. According to the legend, Bai Ze was erudite and could harness the Qi of Heavens and Earth. All in all, it was particularly powerful.”
I interrupted Shi Yitong who was showing off his knowledge, “All this information can be found online. Can you say something new?”
Shi Yitong looked at me, upset. “Fine, fine, I’ll start with the story my grandpa told me.”
“When I was nine, our village was still small, only composed of a handful of families. So news traveled fast in our village. Back then, there was a hunter living in the village, he often hunted wild geese and ducks, but sometimes he also hunted small animals like foxes, badgers, and weasels. At that time, there were foxes all over the place; while walking next to the cemetery at night, you could see the foxes’ green eyes. The hunter wasn’t greedy, if he could hunt weasels, he wouldn’t hunt foxes, and he would even avoid encountering them.”
“En.” I showed great interest in his story.
“One day, he and his nephew went to the mountain to hunt, and they saw a weasel with beautiful shiny fur. He was a little scared, but his nephew was young and fearless. So his nephew shot that weasel. For your information, weasel fur can’t be sold for a good price if there are holes in it. The hunter punched his nephew on the head before running over to see the weasel, and guess what?”
“They couldn’t find the weasel they shot seconds ago. The hunter looked back at his nephew and wanted him to search the area. Surprisingly, his nephew’s head was twisted backward as if someone had smashed his head in, and his eyes were dripping with blood. The hunter was terrified and collapsed on the ground. He thought his nephew had shot a divinity they couldn’t afford to displease. He then prayed to God while hitting his head with a stone. By the time the villagers found them, the hunter’s head was covered with blood. The villagers carried them back to the village; on the way back they heard the hunter whispering that they shouldn’t have shot that animal.”
“What happened later?” I pressed on, “Did the nephew die?”
“No, he didn’t die, but he was badly injured. He couldn’t feel or move any body parts below the neck and had to fully depend on his family to keep him alive. After a while, his nephew moved to another village. The hunter still hunted on the mountain, but he couldn’t catch anything anymore. I heard that he couldn’t even encounter the wild roosters that were supposed to be the easiest animal to hunt, as if those animals had an eye on him. In the end, the hunter went to find a job in the city.”
“I see…” I muttered.
“This is a story my grandpa told me when I was nine. I met that nephew once. He was wheelchair-bound, around thirty years old and looked as if he had lost all hope. He looked really scary.” Shi Yitong sighed. “The elders in the village said that the weasel his nephew shot was the auspicious animal Bai Ze. His nephew offended the sacred animal and had to suffer the consequences.”
“Since Bai Ze was a powerful beast in legend, why did it stay in a small town like Yan City?”
Su Xiaoyun asked. Though she asked Shi Yitong, she had her eyes locked on me, making me feel a little nervous.
“Urm, well…this story has different versions.” Shi Yitong stammered. He looked at Su Xiaoyun and then at me before clearing his throat and said, “One version, ‘The Classic of Mountains and Seas’ mentioned that Bai Ze lived in a place called Mt. Dongwang, which was the northern region of Yan City. While another version said during ancient times, there was a general who lived in Yan city, and he was a great fighter. But his family died during the war; Bai Ze was moved by the general’s story and decided to live there to guide the spirits of his family. Anyway… you know folktales all have different versions. So we have to go through grandpa’s belongings to find out the truth.”
After saying that, Shi Yitong anxiously glanced at Su Xiaoyong. But apparently, she didn’t want to speak to him. Instead, she took out a sausage from her backpack to feed Coo.