Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 3 Book of Exchange – Chapter 50 On The Way Back Home
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 50 On The Way Back Home
We spent our last night in Mr. Xu’s small hostel. The next morning, we got up early to catch the bus to return to school.
“Goddess Su! You gotta hurry!” Shi Yitong shouted anxiously. “We’re gonna miss the bus! I have several classes to attend today!”
“Just a minute!” Su Xiaoyun hurriedly ran downstairs, carrying several large bags in her hands. I didn’t know how long she spent doing her hair and clothes. “I’m coming! Stop yelling!”
“Your Highness, you’re finally here.” Shi Yitong breathed a sigh of relief, desperately waving his hand at Su Xiaoyun. “Hurry up!”
“Wait a minute!” Su Xiaoyun shouted again.
“Now what?” I asked helplessly.
“Coo! I asked Mr. Xu to look after Coo for a few days!” Upon saying that, Su Xiaoyun hastily ran upstairs. Shi Yitong and I let out a sigh of dissatisfaction at the same time.
“Looks like we’ll need to catch the next bus,” Shi Yitong said helplessly. “I’m definitely not going to arrive in time for my classes.”
“Forget it, let her be.” I laughed. “It’s impossible for her not to spend several hours dressing up before going out.”
“I know,” Shi Yitong complained. “That’s why I applied for leave of a few lessons beforehand.”
“So you’re finally going to leave.” Xu Yingchen walked down the stairs with a smile.
We nodded and smiled back at this nice and kind hostel owner.
“En, we have to go back. Thank you for taking care of us during the last few days.”
“Nah, it’s just my job,” Xu Yingchen said casually. “I should say, you also helped me a lot.”
Shi Yitong and I frowned slightly, not quite understanding what he meant. At this moment, Su Xiaoyun followed Mr. Xu downstairs with the black cat in her arms.
“Sorry, I almost forgot you. If you don’t come back with me, I’ll have serious trouble.”
“Well, goddess, let’s go,” Shi Yitong complained. I couldn’t blame him for that since he had been carrying the heaviest backpack.
“Okay, okay. I’m sorry.” Su Xiaoyun put Coo on the ground, and the spiritual cat quietly followed behind her.
“Sorry for bothering you during our stay, Mr. Xu.” Su Xiaoyun said to Mr. Xu with a smile. “Speaking of which, somehow I think that I have met you before.”
Mr. Xu smiled. “Oh? Is that so?”
“It’s like I’ve met you when I was young. But that seems very unlikely.” Su Xiaoyun smiled. “It must be because your smile reminds me of my father. He was a very kind and gentle person.”
“Really?” Xu boss smiled even more happily. “That’s my honor. Travel safe.”
“Okay, thank you!”
Then, we left Xu Yingchen’s small hostel. However, what we didn’t know was that after we left, Xu Yingchen slowly came out from behind the counter.
“It’s true that you guys helped me a lot these days,” Xu Yingchen muttered to himself with a smile on his face.
After saying that, Xu Yingchen went into the empty living room on the first floor, where the landscape painting was hanging on the wall. He took down the painting, placed it on the counter and studied it carefully.
“You’re not strong enough. I thought you could stall them for a little longer. If I knew what would’ve happened in advance, I wouldn’t have sealed you in the painting. I would’ve killed you instead. Useless moron.”
Xu Yingchen shook his head and looked at the sky through the window. “However… although we don’t have much time left, we should still be able to make it.”
After saying this, a whirlwind suddenly appeared in the small hostel. Then, at the place where Xu Yingchen stood, a small paperman slowly fell and landed on the landscape painting.
The bus was driving so slowly that we fell asleep sitting side by side in the last row of the bus.
The sky became dull. Dark, tumultuous clouds drifted across a clear blue sky, indicating a threatening rain.
I felt someone shaking my shoulders, Shi Yitong’s voice rang in my ears,
“Gu Yu, Gu Yu.”
“What?” I opened my eyes and looked at Shi Yitong, angry that he disturbed my dreams.
“Do you have tissues?” Shi Yitong pitifully pointed to his red nose, sniffling, “I think I caught a cold.”
“No way. Su Xiaoyun and I don’t have a cold, but you, a strong, muscular man, caught a cold?” As I was joking, I searched my pocket, took out some tissues and handed them over.
“Thanks.” Shi Yitong blew his nose using the tissues. When I closed my eyes and decided to take a nap, Shi Yitong opened his mouth again.
“Ay, Gu Yu, you dropped something.”
“What?” I opened my eyes.
“On the ground. A piece of paper fell out of your pocket when you took out the tissue.” Shi Yitong pointed to my feet. I looked down and saw a piece of yellow paper lying next to my feet.
What is it? How come I cannot remember having such a thing in my pocket?
I picked it up and unfolded it. I was dumbfounded.
It was a drawing, a huge fox ferociously baring its sharp teeth, and its nine huge tails waving behind it.
I remembered this drawing. I found in Shi Yitong’s grandpa’s storage room while I was investigating the Jinhua cat, it depicted a scary nine-tailed fox. I secretly hid the drawing and afterward, I completely forgot about it.
But how did it end up in my pocket?
I stared at the drawing and pondered. Suddenly, I recalled the short poem Zhu Xuan said before leaving.
Yeah, I once read it in an ancient book in Wen Jiubo’s old residence. It was from the poem ‘Tushan Song of the Great Yu’, the earliest recording about a nine-tailed fox recorded in ‘Master Lü’s Spring and Autumn Annals’ (TL note: this book is an encyclopedic Chinese classic text compiled around 239 BC by Lü Buwei).
——A nine-tailed white fox is looking for his mate.
——The Great Yu married the daughter of a Tushan family, we will be forever wealthy and prosperous.
No way. Did it mean…
At this moment, the bus stopped abruptly and my head bumped into the back of the front seats. Although it didn’t hurt, I was startled by the sudden brake.
It seemed that I was not the only one who was startled, all the passengers on board began to complain. Shi Yitong and Su Xiaoyun also woke up. Su Xiaoyun looked around and asked, “Where are we?”
“I don’t know. The bus suddenly stopped.” I hurriedly folded the nine-tailed fox drawing and put it back in my pocket.
While all the passengers on the bus were whispering, the driver stood up and apologized.
“Em, my apologies, everyone. The fog is so thick that I cannot clearly see the road. I almost crashed into a car that was going in the opposite direction, it’s really dangerous. We’re not far from the bus station, so I suggest you should get off the bus and walk to the bus station.”
The passengers immediately complained.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“How can you be so irresponsible?”
A thick fog? Why was there a thick fog? When we got on the bus, the sky was clear.
I stood up in doubt and looked out of the window.
As the bus driver said, there was a thick fog outside the window, you couldn’t see anything past fifty meters, and I couldn’t see any roads, pedestrians or buildings. No wonder the driver chose to stop the bus here.
However, we were familiar with Yan city, and we recognized that we parked at a block not far from our school.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” The bus driver was still patiently apologizing to the passengers. “The fog is too thick. For your own safety, please get off the bus and walk to the station.”
“Why is there such a thick fog?” Shi Yitong muttered. After we followed other passengers and got out of the bus, he looked at the dense fog and became suspicious. “The sky was so dark a while ago that I thought it was going to rain. This goddamn weather.”
“Forget it. It’s not far from school anyway. Let’s walk back. Just take it as if we were exercising. Right, Coo?” Su Xiaoyun was quite optimistic. The cat in her arms purred as if it answered her.
“Well, whatever the goddess says.” Shi Yitong shrugged.
However, even though they said that, I was still doubtful. My instinct told me something was wrong, but I couldn’t tell what it was.
I had this weird, unexplainable feeling about this strange thick fog, as if it was a big heavy stone pressing on my chest, or the sleep paralysis that made me unable to move or speak when I woke up in the middle of the night.
“How far should we go?” Shi Yitong complained, breaking the silence. “My shoulders are aching.”
“Why are you so anxious? We have quite a long way to walk, and the fog is thick, so be patient,” Su Xiaoyun said indifferently. She asked me, “What time is it?”
“Um…” I looked at my phone. “It’s eleven thirty.”
“No wonder my stomach is growling, it’s lunchtime,” said Shi Yitong as he pouted.
“Oh man, give me a break. All you know how to eat.” Su Xiaoyun teased him, but then, she frowned. “It’s… eleven thirty already? I remembered that we left the hostel at seven and the bus departed at eight thirty. Technically, we should arrive at school at around ten. Even if the bus was late by half an hour because of the weather, we should arrive at most at ten thirty.”
“I was looking at my watch when we got off the bus, it was ten twenty.” After saying that, Shi Yitong’s expression changed as well.
“So, that means we have been walking for more than an hour.” Su Xiaoyun stopped walking. Her gaze was as sharp as an eagle. She looked at the thick fog around her. “However, after walking for so long, did you notice any crossroads?”