Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 3 Book of Exchange – Chapter 31 An Unexpected Situation
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 31 An Unexpected Situation
I glanced at Shi Yitong and nodded gravely. “A little bit girly.”
Shi Yitong threw a pillow at me. “Go to hell!”
I laughed and caught the pillow, but Shi Yitong still tried to kick me under the blanket.
“Okay, okay, we should sleep now!” I shouted.
We joked for a while before sleeping. However, I never expected that we would be awakened by a huge explosion at six o’clock in the morning.
“What’s going on?” Shi Yitong sat up on the bed faster than I did. His eyes were still closed, and his hair was a mess.
“It seems like something broke,” I wasn’t fully awake yet and I mumbled. “None of our business, let’s go back to sleep.”
Just when Shi Yitong and I were about to head back to sleep, we heard a scream coming from downstairs followed by a loud buzzing sound.
“What’s happening?” Shi Yitong couldn’t sleep anymore; he jumped out of bed. “Gu Yu, let’s go and take a look.”
When we rushed out of the room, we met Su Xiaoyun in the corridor; she had apparently come out of her room for the same reason.
“What happened?” Shi Yitong asked.
“I don’t know, let’s go downstairs and see.” Su Xiaoyun took the lead and walked downstairs.
We were surprised by what we saw when we reached the first floor. Many people were standing in a circle in the hallway of the first floor, whom I believed to be hotel guests. They were chattering with each other while pointing their fingers at the center.
“Why did this happen? Had I known beforehand, I would never have stayed here.”
“You’re right, this is dangerous.”
We looked at each other before squeezing our way through the crowd. What we found in the middle of the commotion was a chaotic scene.
Let me briefly introduce the layout of this small hostel. This was a three-floor hostel. It had no elevator and only stairs. At each floor, the area next to the stairway was used as a living room. And the place we were at currently was the living room of the first floor.
The living room on the first floor was the largest one, though it only had a long couch, a small wooden table and a landscape painting hanging on the wall. There used to be a potted plant and a vase placed on the table, but now the plant and the vase were smashed on the ground, and there were shards of shattered glass all over the place. What’s more, the couch looked like it was cut countlessly by a sharp blade. The cotton sponges were destroyed inside out. It looked terrible.
“What happened? Did someone rob this place?” Shi Yitong squeezed in and said in surprise.
“I don’t think this was done by a thief,” Someone in the crowd said. “Look, if it was a thief, how come the painting is still here?”
I looked in the direction where the man pointed at and found that the only thing unscathed in the entire living room was the landscape painting on the wall. Not only was it unscathed, but it was still in the exact same position.
“So this might be a prank,” Someone said worriedly. “Who would play a prank like this? Is there a child here?”
“No, I don’t think that a child could do something like this…”
Su Xiaoyun, who stood nearby and remained silent from the beginning, suddenly poked my shoulder. I looked back at her and saw her skeptical face.
“Gu Yu, don’t you feel this is strange?”
“What is?” I was puzzled.
“That painting.” Su Xiaoyun pointed at the painting behind me.
“Well… a little,” I answered. “Because everything was deliberately broken except for that painting.”
“I’m not talking about that.” Su Xiaoyun shook her head.”Don’t you think… that painting looks weird?”
“The painting?” I shook my head perplexedly and didn’t understand what she wanted to say.
“I don’t know.” Su Xiaoyun put a finger under her chin and muttered, “I spent some time looking at it yesterday because I was quite fond of it. But now I feel that this painting is different from yesterday.”
“What has changed?” Shi Yitong came over.
“I don’t know either…”
At this moment, someone familiar came in through the back door. It was the hostel owner Xu Yingchen. When Xu Yingchen saw the crowd, he was surprised, and then he quickly squeezed in through the crowd.
“What is going on here… ” Xu Yingchen murmured.
“So you don’t know what happened either?” Shi Yitong asked.
Xu Yingchen shook his head in confusion. “No, I have no idea. Is this a prank? Who would do something like this? I don’t remember a child being a guest in the hostel.”
“Mister, can you check the cameras?” Someone in the crowd asked.
“Ah, this…” Xu Yingchen scratched his head, feeling embarrassed. “We don’t have any surveillance cameras here.”
After hearing his answer, the crowd started to riot. People began to whisper to each other.
“Boss, we have to leave!”
Suddenly, a man in the crowd yelled, “What is this place? I shouldn’t have stayed here. You don’t even have the most basic security measures! I can’t stay here anymore!”
Other people began to echo similar sentiments.
“Yeah, you’re right. You don’t have cameras or even room cards! How can you ensure the safety of your guests?”
“Yeah, we wouldn’t even know if a thief sneaks into the place .”
“I need to check out!”
Xu Yingchen looked overwhelmed as he was surrounded by the guests who wanted to check out immediately. After the people in the hall left one by one, there were only the three of us left.
“So, should we check out?” Shi Yitong asked carefully, wanting our opinions.
“I don’t think so, we have no other place to live,” Su Xiaoyun said with a sigh. “And Mr. Xu has been very nice to us; we shouldn’t be ungrateful.”
I nodded. However, at the same time, I was a little dissatisfied with the way he ran his business. “But, as a hostel owner, he has been quite careless.”
“Mr. Xu has always been like this.”
A male voice suddenly spoke up. I looked back and found a handsome youth standing right behind us.
He was a good-looking young man that looked no older than twenty. He wore a traditional Chinese coat with Chinese knot buttons and his presence made us feel like we were in a different time and space.
“Ah, sorry, let me introduce yourself.” The youth smiled.”I’m Zhu Xuan, a frequent guest here. Mr. Xu has always been unorganized. I will apologize on his behalf if this bothers you.”
“It doesn’t matter, you don’t need to apologize.” Shi Yitong waved his hands and asked curiously, “Are you also a tourist here?”
“No, I’m not.” Zhu Xuan shook his head. He thought for a moment before replying with a smile, “Well… I’m kind of a local resident. There are temple fairs on Mt.Diecui lately, this is why so many tourists come here to have some fun.”
“Yeah, you’re right. We chose to stay here because we couldn’t find a hotel.” Su Xiaoyun smiled.
“Hey, little brother.” Shi Yitong suddenly thought of something. He got close to Zhu Xuan and asked him, “You are a local resident here, right?!”
Zhu Xuan was startled by Shi Yitong’s sudden move. He subconsciously took a half step back, and… If I was not mistaken, he seemed to be blushing?
“Yes, I am……”
“So, you know a lot about local stuff, right??” Shi Yitong became excited as if he finally found a life-saving straw. He asked, “For example, tourist attractions, ancient tales, and the like?”
“Um, yes…” A flush of embarrassment rose to Zhu Xuan cheeks, but he nodded vigorously. “I might know some of them.”
“That’s great. We finally have a lead!” Shi Yitong cheered.
Su Xiaoyun rebuked, “Shi Yitong, shame on you! How can we ask for his help this way? We don’t even know if he wants to help us!”
Surprisingly, before Shi Yitong could answer, the youth called Zhu Xuan opened his mouth and said,
“Well, of course, I’d like to!”
Su Xiaoyun and I looked at each other. Although I was surprised by his enthusiasm, since he was willing to help, we had no reason to reject him.
“But… it sounds like you’re not going to the tourist attractions,” Zhu Xuan asked, full of curiosity. “What are you going to do?”
While Su Xiaoyun and Shi Yitong were speechless, an idea suddenly occurred to me. I replied, “Ah, we’re students from Yan University. We need to submit an essay on the legends of ancient monsters soon. We heard that there are legends about Bai Ze in this town, so we came here to do some investigating.”
Su Xiaoyun and Shi Yitong quickly nodded and echoed, “Yes, that’s it.”
“Essay? I see.” Zhu Xuan nodded as he understood the reason. “But, about Bai Ze’s stories, where did you hear about them?”
We looked at each other and had to lie, “Um…an old man told us about it.”
“However, I’m the right person to ask.” Zhu Xuan suddenly grinned. “There are indeed legends of Bai Ze that took place around here.”
My eyes suddenly lit up, and I asked, “Really? Is Bai Ze really in Yan City?”
“Um… I don’t know if Bai Ze lives here or not, but I heard about Bai Ze’s story.” Zhu Xuan thought for a moment before saying, “I heard that there once was a big flood in this area which killed a lot of people. Because Bai Ze was so heartbroken when it heard that so many innocent people died during the flood, Bai Ze traveled a long distance to reach here. He used his Yang Qi to stop the natural disaster and rescued Mt.Diecui from the hands of God. However, many tourists today don’t know that the annual temple fair is held in honor of Bai Ze to thank it for saving Mt. Diecui.”