Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 3 Book of Exchange – Chapter 42 His Story (2)
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 42 His Story (2)
“No, I don’t think that way!” Ye became anxious, and he stood up abruptly. “I came here to warn you to be careful! That monster is on Mt.Diecui!”
“Do you think I will believe you?” Zhu Xuan said, biting his lip. “You and I, we were never the same kind.”
After saying that, Zhu Xuan stood up and walked into the forest without looking back.
“Oi! Zhu Xuan!” Ye wanted to go after him, but Zhu Xuan had quickly vanished into the forest.
“Until now I still don’t know whether he really doubted me or not. But it’s impossible for me to know the truth anymore.” Zhu Xuan lowered his head.
“What happened? Shi Yitong asked.
“It was the beast Chen,” Zhu Xuan said, “the huge hawk-beaked white beast you saw today. It destroyed the village at the foot of Mt.Diecui, Ye’s village.”
“Then, the people in the village…” Su Xiaoyun covered her mouth.
Zhu Xuan nodded. “Many people died. Elders, children, and young men. I madly searched the ruins but only found the bodies of his wife and children. I never found Ye’s body.”
“So, you believe that he didn’t die there?” I asked.
Zhu Xuan nodded. “After a while, I met a Taoist priest near the ruins. I asked him why he was there. He said that he came to find his deceased relatives, but I had never seen him before. Then he told me…”
“Wait, a Taoist priest?” I interrupted Zhu Xuan and asked, “You said you met a Taoist priest?”
Shi Yitong and Su Xiaoyun looked at me with doubtful eyes.
“Yeah, a Taoist priest.”
“Did he wear a Taoist robe?” Su Xiaoyun asked.
“Of course, how else would I know he was a Taoist priest?” Zhu Xuan was confused.
It seemed that the Taoist priest Zhu Xuan mentioned was probably the one hidden in the fog.
“What’s the matter, guys?” Zhu Xuan was really puzzled about our reaction.
“Oh, nothing, sorry to interrupt.” I smiled apologetically. “So you met a Taoist priest, did he say something?”
“He told me that some strong men in the village survived. They teamed up and vowed to take revenge for their families. They went up the mountain to find the beast,” said Zhu Xuan.
“Was Ye among them?”
“I didn’t find his body in the ruins, so I guessed he survived. I quickly ran up the mountain and saw…” Zhu Xuan paused and took a deep breath to calm down.
“I saw blood and corpses everywhere as if the road was paved with blood and body parts. And at the end of that road, I saw the beast Chen.”
“But, you once said that the beast Chen doesn’t hate human beings,” Su Xiaoyun interjected. “You said that the reason it hurt them was…”
“…Was because of me. This is a long story,” Zhu Xuan continued. “The beast Chen wasn’t in Yan City at first. I was the reason why it came to Mt.Diecui. It chased after me.”
“So, the beast Chen… Does it hold a grudge against you?” Shi Yitong asked.
“It’s somewhat like that. In a way, it envied me.” Zhu Xuan sighed. “You may have noticed that the beast Chen looks a lot like me when I’m transformed.”
Yes, he was right. Both of them were white beasts, but the beast Chen had no wings, and it looked ferocious.
“Essentially, the beast Chen and I are homologous. In the words of humans, that is… we are twins,” Zhu Xuan said seriously.
“What?!” We looked at Zhu Xuan, stunned.
“We were born at the same place but grew up in different environments. I love all things on earth. I love humans, I learned and understand the law of the universe, and I know the wisdom of the universe. On the other hand, the beast Chen, it just wanted to get stronger quickly and wanted to acquire great power without sacrificing anything for it. As a result, it didn’t take long before it fell into the Hell of Anger, which was the state of ‘Chen’. In the end, it was listed as one of the five poisons. During the Emperor’s reign, the beast Chen was sealed by the Emperor and was guarded by the White Tiger of the west. However, as time went by, when people gradually forgot our existence, it found an opportunity to escape. It then followed me here to the foothills of the mountain.”
Zhu Xuan dropped his eyes.
“I stayed at Mt.Diecui for so many years and yet I never noticed it was here. The beast Chen is very sly and smart. It hid under my nose for many years, but I didn’t even notice. When I knew the truth, it had already caused irreparable consequences.”
“What happened then?” asked Shi Yitong. “You mentioned Ye, what happened to him after?”
“When I rushed over, I saw Ye confronting the beast Chen. His companions were all down. He, wielding a spear in his hands, was badly injured as well.”
“Come on! Do it, you stupid white bird!” Ye gripped the spear in his hand. “You have eaten my whole family, my father, my wife and my children. If they were not enough to fill your stomach, then come and eat me!”
“Ye!!” Zhu Xuan rushed over and shouted at the back of his beloved man.
Ye was surprised and he turned back. “Zhu?”
“Come back! If you stare at it in the eyes while moving back, it won’t attack you!” Zhu Xuan shouted. “Hurry up! I’m here. Put your spear down, or else it will eat you!”
Ye looked at Zhu Xuan with tears falling down from his eyes. He shook his head.
“I’m sorry, Zhu! But I swore to avenge my family, I can’t escape right now.”
“But you can’t beat that giant beast, let me do it for you!” Zhu Xuan yelled desperately.
“Sorry, I’m really sorry, Zhu! You’re the only person I have ever truly loved in my life, I mean it!” Ye raised the spear in his hand, his face was covered with tears. “I’m sorry, I’m really sorry…”
Ye turned his head to face the beast Chen. The beast Chen raised his head high with its huge beak wide open. It groaned, posing as if it was ready to attack.
“Die!” Ye snarled, raised his spear in the air and rushed towards the beast Chen.
However, the beast Chen’s skin was too tough for the spear. Instead, the spear got stuck in its feathers before falling to the ground. The angered beast opened its mouth before tearing his body into pieces.
“I watched as the beast Chen tore him apart,” Zhu Xuan said calmly. “In the end, he died in front of me.”
The room became silent as we didn’t know what to say. However, Su Xiaoyun couldn’t help but ask,
“So… what happened afterward?”
“I was grief-stricken, so I turned into a beast myself and fought with it. I bet my own life to fight him, but the beast Chen was much stronger than before since he had swallowed many villagers. We fought for three days and nights in the deep forest on Mt.Diecui. Fortunately, I was still stronger than it. In the end, I won the fight, and the beast Chen lay on the ground, unable to move.”
Zhu Xuan’s fingers rubbed the quilt covering him. “At that time, I had two choices. With the last bit of strength I had, I could end the beast’s life, and I knew this was my responsibility. I should have done that in order to save more lives. But… I chose the other option I had.”
“What was it?”
“With my remaining strength, I saved Ye’s soul.”
“Can that really be done?” Shi Yitong was surprised.
Zhu Xuan nodded. “Yes. A human soul will wander around the body for seven days after their death, and it will find their path after those seven days. Some go back to Hell and then enter the reincarnation cycle, while others will lose their way and wander in the world. Luckily, I quickly found Ye’s spirit. By the time I found him, I found out that even though his spirit was too confused to know who he was, he tightly grabbed my fur and wouldn’t let it go. So I used my last strength to save his spirit. Though he couldn’t use his own body anymore, if he was lucky enough to find a body that was healthy enough, he would be able to live.”
“Is that so…” I muttered. “No wonder you mistook Shi Yitong for Ye because you don’t know what he looks like now.”
“So, did he survive?” Su Xiaoyun asked, full of hope.
“I don’t know…” Zhu Xuan whispered. “I really don’t know. But I hope that he did.”
“What about the man-eating beast?” Shi Yitong asked. “You said that you defeated it but you didn’t kill it?”
Zhu Xuan nodded. “Yes. After saving Ye’s spirit, I passed out. I didn’t know how much time had passed. I had been sleeping in the depths of the forest until I opened my eyes, and that was just a week ago.”
“So you’re saying you slept for thirty years?” Shi Yitong was amazed.
“Don’t be so surprised, son of mankind.” Zhu Xuan glanced at Shi Yitong and said casually, “Time flows differently for us. Thirty years may be a very long time for humans, but for me, it’s just a nap.”
Eternal time, and a short lifespan.
Zhu Xuan and Ye’s love was like a night-blooming cereus, the flower of which was really beautiful but extremely short-lived.
“So, that is to say, you were drowsy when you woke up a week ago. In other words, you didn’t know how the beast Chen returned?” Su Xiaoyun asked.
“After I woke up, I went to Longning Temple to ask about the beast Chen. The monks in Longning Temple were different, but fortunately, the current abbot knew me. He told me that the beast Chen was sealed by a Taoist priest 30 years ago and that since then it didn’t show up to harass people.”
“A Taoist priest? Was it really a Taoist priest?” We looked at each other and frowned.