Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 3 Book of Exchange – Chapter 37 Longning Temple
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 37 Longning Temple
“I don’t know either.” Xu Yingchen shook his head. “I heard that it was a young man. It seems like a beast captured him. The next day, after they found blood on the ground, they followed the blood trail and entered the forest. Then, they found the man’s body. He had only his upper body left, and it seemed like his lower body was devoured by a beast. They said the scene was extremely bloody and horrible to look at.”
The three of us all gasped.
“Really? Is there really such a fierce beast in the mountains?” Shi Yitong asked suspiciously.
“I don’t know,” Xu Yingchen scratched his head and said. “Generally, Mt.Diecui isn’t that big. There are probably a couple of wild wolves living there. Larger beasts can’t live there.”
“Did they call the police?” I asked.
“Of course they did. However, the police have no clues so far. Their initial conclusion was that this accident was caused by some animal, so the locals decided to cancel the temple fair. But the seniors who believe in Buddhism, and some vendors who count on the temple fair to make money, refused to cancel it. As a result, they are holding the temple fair without informing tourists about what happened, and most tourists who are eager to have fun in the fair don’t know about this accident.”
Xu Yingchen said while shaking his head, “Although it’s probably just an accident, to be safe, I wouldn’t go there if I was you.”
“So, what do you think?” Su Xiaoyun looked at me and Shi Yitong. There was no fear in her eyes, but a glimmering excitement.
Of course, Shi Yitong and I felt the same way. We both were excited and curious.
“Are you kidding?” Shi Yitong pretended he was afraid for a second, and then suddenly, he said with a smile, “Of course, we’ll go! I don’t know anyone who is more suitable than us to investigate this mysterious accident! Right? We’re like Sherlock Holmes! ”
“Damn you, who is Sherlock Holmes?” I punched Shi Yitong, then looked at Xu Yingchen and said seriously, “Mr. Xu, we’re going to the temple fair. But we will be careful, so please don’t worry about us.”
Xu Yingchen looked at us, who showed no fear at all and then frowned. He said slowly, “But, Gu Yu, you have to know that sometimes, no matter how careful you are, accidents can still happen. Humans only have one life, which should not be used for reckless young people to go on an adventure.”
His sudden lesson made us a little embarrassed. Su Xiaoyun and Shi Yitong were slightly angry.
“Oi, Mister, what do you know about us?” Su Xiaoyun couldn’t help but open her mouth first, “You’re just a small hostel owner, enjoying your simple life. I’m sure you never went out of your way to take risks, right?”
“Yeah, you don’t even know what kind of adventures we had,” Shi Yitong muttered. “Any of them would frighten you!”
“Su Xiaoyun, Shi Yitong!” I stared at them, warning them to stop.
Xu Yingchen’s expression didn’t change much, and I couldn’t tell if he was angry or not. But I hurriedly apologized to him for my reckless friends.
“Mr. Xu, I’m sorry. They have a bad temper,” I said with a smile. “But… we have our reason to visit this temple fair. Thank you for your concern.”
“So, you mean, you’re here just to take a look, right?” Xu Yingchen calmly looked at me. He lifted his chin. “Do you guys have any ulterior motives?”
All three of us were dumbfounded, and for a moment we didn’t know how to answer this question.
“Um…we, we are… “Shi Yitong looked at me, and then at Xu Yingchen, stuttering.
Xu Yingchen stared at us and suddenly burst into laughter.
“Hahahaha! I’m kidding, no need to be that scared!” Xu Yingchen laughed while patting me and Shi Yitong on the shoulder. “I’m just kidding. You guys are still young kids, what kind of secrets could you have?”
We let out a breath of relief, and smiled awkwardly.
“If you want to go, then go, but you must be careful.” Xu Yingchen said with a smile.
Just like that, after breakfast, we left the hostel and went to the temple, following the directions Xu Yingchen gave us.
To be honest, I grew up in a big city and had never been to a temple fair before, though I heard about it quite often. There were no big temples in Beining, so when I saw this big temple in front of me, I was really amazed.
“It’s so cool, right?” Shi Yitong said proudly. “This temple is the largest in Yan city, it’s called Longning Temple. When I was a child, my grandfather took me here once. It impressed me so much that I remember it till now.”
“Is the temple fair held in this temple?” Su Xiaoyun asked curiously.”But… it’s pretty empty, only a couple of people here and there.”
Su Xiaoyun was right. Although this temple was very large, we were the only ones standing at the entrance. There were no tourists or pedlars, who should be busy at this moment setting up their stalls. Only the red lanterns and colorful buntings hung on the buildings suggested that there would be an event here.
“It’s so quiet. It doesn’t look like there will be a temple fair,” I agreed.
“Let’s go inside and have a look.”
After we entered the temple, we didn’t see anyone except for some monks who were cleaning the floor. The lanterns, dragon decorations, and such were clearly prepared for the temple fair, but were piled up on the ground and ignored by everyone.
“What’s going on here?” Shi Yitong asked curiously. “Why is there nobody using these to decorate the temple? I remember that last I time I came, there were plenty of people helping out with the decorations.”
“Yeah, these things, piled up here, looks…” Upon saying that, Su Xiaoyun bent down and picked up a paper lantern. She held it in her hand to study it.
“Benefactor, please don’t touch it!”
At this moment, a young monk suddenly yelled. The sudden voice startled Su Xiaoyun, she almost dropped the paper lantern on the ground.
“Be careful!” The young mong quickly moved forward and took the fragile paper lantern from her hand. He then carefully placed it on the ground.
“Sor…sorry,” Su Xiaoyun said in a panic.
“No worries, just be careful.” The young monk seemed to be fourteen or fifteen-year-old. He was good-looking and looked cute when he was smiling.
“Hey, young monk, are these the decorations for the temple fair?” Shi Yitong asked.
“Yes, they’re for the temple fair tomorrow night.”
“But…why are these things piled up here and unused?” I felt like it was strange and asked, “My friend said that in the past, pedlars and seniors who believed in Buddha would help to decorate the temple.”
“This… ” The young monk forced out a smile. “This year is slightly different from previous years.”
“How different?” Su Xiaoyun asked.
“This… I don’t know the exact reason.”
“There seem to be fewer visitors than during the previous years,” Shi Yitong continued. “I haven’t seen a lot of tourists. What’s going on?”
The young monk’s forehead started to sweat. “This… benefactors, do you want to go to other places to take a look?”
“Is it because a tourist died in the temple?” I blurted out, which surprised the young monk and my friends.
“This, this… “After our aggressive questions, the young monk had no choice but to confess.”Um… Benefactor, please keep pushing me for answers! The abbot is already aware of this accident. I’m just a monk who is in charge of cleaning the ground, I know nothing!”
“So you’re saying that someone really died here?” Su Xiaoyun was surprised.
The young monk swallowed a little and nodded. He signaled us to come closer.
“I don’t know the details. I only heard from the temple elders that someone found a dead man in the wilderness last night. The blood can be found all the way from Longning temple to Mt.Diecui. After hearing about this, elder Hui Neng went up the mountain with some monks. Though they found the body, the man was torn into pieces by some unknown beast, and elder Hui Neng only found his upper body!”
After saying that, the young monk shivered uncontrollably. He shook his head.
“Then what?” I asked.
“When elder Hui Neng saw the bloody scene, he wanted to conceal it so the temple fair could be held as scheduled. However, someone immediately called the police, so there was no way to hide it,” The young monk sighed.
“What did the police say?”
“The police said that the man was attacked by an animal, but we have lived at the foot of this mountain for many years. Everyone here knows that this was not some wild animal.” The young monk looked gloomy and shook his head. “The senior monks said that… the beast is back.”
“Beast?” We looked at each other, confused.
“You are not locals from here, so you may not know,” The young monk said hesitantly. “It’s the beast named Chen.”
“The beast… what?” All three of us were puzzled.
“Buddha once said that Tan (greed), Chen (anger), Chi (ignorance), Man (arrogance) and Yi (hesitation) are the five poisons which hinder people from reaching enlightenment and becoming immortal. And they will lead people to do evil. These poisons will hurt people and disturb the peace of the Buddhist temples,” The young monk said nervously. “These five poisons come from five extremely evil beasts. During the period of ancient time, there were five deities which suppressed those five evil beasts. The green dragon in the East suppressed the beast, Tan; The white tiger in the west suppressed the beast, Chen; The vermilion bird in the South suppressed the beast, Chi; The black tortoise in the North suppressed the beast, Man; The yellow dragon in the Center suppressed the beast, Yi.”
“Then… all these beasts should be suppressed by the deities,” Su Xiaoyun was surprisingly very interested in his words. “What happened then?”
The young monk nodded and continued, “There is a saying which states that in time one of the seals will become loose. Another one says that the legend about the five forms of the deities is deceptive. Anyway, the beast Chen has been harassing Longning Temple for a long time.”