Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 3 Book of Exchange – Chapter 28 Bai Ze
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 28 Bai Ze
After a short while, we arrived at Shi Yitong’s village. From a distance, you could see a lot of people doing farm work; some were herding sheep, while others were carrying clean water into their homes. It was a stark contrast with what I saw a few days ago in the village that was slaughtered by the Gudiao. That bloody scene still made me shiver uncontrollably whenever it came to mind.
“What’s wrong?” Shi Yitong asked. I hurriedly shook my head to show him that I was fine.
At that moment, I suddenly felt lucky that it was me, not Shi Yitong or Su Xiaoyun, who met Wen Jiubo because such a bloody and horrible scene would have haunted them for the rest of their lives.
We heard someone calling from afar. Shi Yitong looked up and saw his grandma, who was standing at the entrance of the village, waving at us.
“Hey, grandma, why did you come out?” Shi Yitong quickly walked over. “My friends and I are coming to visit you.”
Su Xiaoyun and I also walked over to greet her, “Hi, grandma!”
“You kids should spend more time at school. Don’t waste your time visiting me.” Shi Yitong’s grandma patted Shi Yitong’s head. There was a smile on her wrinkled face.
Shi Yitong laughed while scratching his head, “Grandma, I’m doing very well at school. My friends and I wanted to visit you and to see if you’re okay.”
“Yes, he’s right!”
“All you know is how to flatter people!” Grandma stopped frowning. She then turned to Su Xiaoyun and me and smiled. “Okay, don’t just stand around here. Let’s go home. I bought a chicken in the market, I will make chicken stew for you all.”
Afterward, we had a nice dinner at Shi Yitong’s house. This was the first time Su Xiaoyun visited his home, his grandma put a lot of food on her plate and praised her for her good looks, which made Su Xiaoyun a little embarrassed.
The atmosphere at the dinner table was okay, but as soon as his grandma went into the kitchen to wash the dishes, the atmosphere between them reverted to the usual stiffness. Neither of them wanted to be the first one to talk.
I felt helpless while looking at them. Just before I could ask them to stop this nonsensical cold war, Shi Yitong opened his mouth,
“Ay, Gu Yu! We’ve finished dinner, so let’s go and flip through my grandpa’s diary!”
He left me no choice but to agree, “Okay… Do you want to go with us?”
Su Xiaoyun nodded. She followed us to the room where his grandpa’s belongings were stored.
“Speaking of Bai Ze, it might be not easy to find any information.”
Once Shi Yitong opened the door, we could smell the mold and dust. However, the room was much tidier than the last time we searched for information about the Jinhua cat. All the books were well-organized on the bookshelves, and some tools his grandpa once used were placed in a corner.
Shi Yitong walked to a nearby bookshelf. He pulled out a leather-covered journal and began to skim through it. He muttered, “I was only eight or nine years old when grandpa told me Bai Ze’s story. However, his diaries record everything grandpa encountered when he was young. I’m not sure if he wrote something about Bai Ze.”
“Let’s look it up first, maybe we’ll find something,” I reassured him while walking between the bookshelves to browse through the old books.
“It’s useless just to find stories about Bai Ze, we need to know if the beast is still living in the Yan City, and if it is, where is it now,” Su Xiaoyun browsed the books on the shelf while saying.
I came closer to Shi Yitong to read the journal in his hand. He quickly flipped the pages. Though it was hard to recognize the words his grandpa wrote, it didn’t impact Shi Yitong’s reading speed.
“Nothing…” Shi Yitong muttered, “It only recorded the events of grandpa’s life when he was a young adult, and most of them were boring stories about his daily life. Nothing was recorded after grandpa turned 40. Gu Yu, look, the last journal he wrote was in 1968, ever since then, grandpa never wrote in his diary.”
“How about the other books?” I asked, hoping we could find something else.
“We’ll see, but don’t get your hopes up.”
Therefore, we put down the diary and looked through other old books.
“Urm, I’m sorry, my mistake. It seems it’s just a child’s drawing.”
“Uh, I found it!”
“What is it?”
“No, it’s not…though it said something about Bai Ze, it didn’t mention Yan City at all.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“Oi, come here!” At this moment, Su Xiaoyun suddenly opened her mouth. Shi Yitong and I raised our head to look at her.
“This, isn’t this what we’re looking for?” Su Xiaoyun walked over, holding a book in her hand. We leaned over and found out that this was a book before the Republic of China was established in mainland China. The words on the cover were poorly printed and hard to read since it was written in traditional Chinese.
“Let’s see…” Shi Yitong began to read it with difficulty, “There was a beast on Mt. Dongwang named Bai Ze, who could speak the human language. It would only appear in the human world whenever a wise king ruled the country with kindness. ”
I looked at Shi Yitong, feeling perplexed. “What…does that mean?”
“That’s it! This is what we’re looking for!” Shi Yitong grabbed the booklet. He pointed at one of the paragraphs. “The first half of this paragraph introduces Bai Ze, quoted from ‘The Classic of Mountains and Seas’, but the second half is different. Look, it says here that there was a flood around a mountain, and Bai Ze crossed the river to pray for the dead. The last sentence is important, it says that the beast slept in Mt.Diecui. This should be the Mt.Diecui in Yan City.”
“Mt.Diecui in Yan City?” Su Xiaoyun, who was affected by our joyful atmosphere, asked excitedly. “Are you saying Bai Ze is here?”
“I’m not sure, but at least we have a lead!” Shi Yitong was so excited that I thought he would hug Su Xiaoyun. “Great job, Goddess Su! You found a lead so quickly!”
“Cough, cough!” Su Xiaoyun coughed before suddenly changing her expression. She looked at Shi Yitong displeased. “Is that so? Now you know how to flatter me?”
Shi Yitong was dumbfounded when he saw her face.
I stomped on his feet. “What are you doing? Apologize!”
Shi Yitong suddenly realized what was happening here. He then bowed to her. “Goddess Su, please accept my apology! I’m sorry about your computer; I’m willing to serve you for the rest of my life, Miss Su! Please forgive me!”
Su Xiaoyun burst into laughter. She hit the back of Shi Yitong’s head and said arrogantly, “Fine, I forgive you since you’re such a clumsy man. But don’t you dare do it again!”
Shi Yitong chuckled while holding the booklet in his hand. “Yes, of course! It won’t happen again. Thank you so much for your kindness!”
I covered my eyes and yelled, “Please stop publicly displaying your affection!”
Then, both of them began to hit me.
In the evening, Shi Yitong put away the booklet and sent us back to school.
“If you don’t mind, I want to go there as soon as possible,” I hesitantly asked. “Perhaps we can find something.”
“I wouldn’t have been the one to ask if you hadn’t said anything,” Shi Yitong agreed. “I think we should do it as soon as possible. After all, you won’t feel relieved unless you find something, right?”
Su Xiaoyun nodded. “Today is Thursday. I think we should take a taxi after school tomorrow afternoon. Ay, Shi Yitong, is Mt.Diecui far from here?”
“I wouldn’t say it’s far from here, but it isn’t close either.” Shi Yitong thought for a moment before saying. “We can afford to take a taxi; it’s about an hour drive.”
“Okay, see you tomorrow afternoon!” Su Xiaoyun grinned at me while blinking her eyes. “However, Gu Yu, don’t forget to submit your assignment for literature class, it’s due next Monday.”
“I know.” I scratched my head, feeling embarrassed. “I won’t forget this time.”
“You’ve been absent-minded lately, so I wouldn’t be so sure.”
I suddenly felt warmth sweeping through my body. Both Shi Yitong and Su Xiaoyun chose to sacrifice their leisure time to help me without hesitation. No matter what happened, I was really glad to have these two friends around me.
Once I got back to my dorm room, I took a shower and went to bed early. However, Di Zizhen was playing a video game in the room. I couldn’t sleep with the sounds of the keyboard and his swearing, so I took out my phone. The screen showed that I had five missed phone calls.
It was Wen Jiubo.
My stomach sank when I saw his name. I put my finger on the notification and hesitated for a while before swiping it away.
I didn’t want to talk to him right now…No, rather than that, it was more that I didn’t know what to say.
It seemed that Wen Jiubo misunderstood my intentions after Chu Bai’s event since he showed his affection more outwardly. Although people around us hadn’t noticed, I could clearly feel the change.