Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 4 Book of Kan – Chapter 12 Language and Faith
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 12 Language and Faith
The old man standing beside looked expectantly at me.
“Zhu Xuan!” This time my voice was louder, so he finally heard me.
“Yeah?” Zhu Xuan knitted his eyebrows.
How dare he! I gnashed my teeth and asked, “The charms…”
“What about the charms?” Zhu Xuan showed me a puzzled look.
I took a deep breath and had to soften my tone. “Charms… how do I write them?”
Zhu Xuan straightened his body, looking even more confused. “Master, you’re the exorcist, how can you ask someone else about how to write charms?”
Zhu Xuan, you’re a heartless asshole! I’m starting to regret the fact that I helped you in the past!
When I looked back, the old man cast a suspicious glance at me. However, I had to pretend I was a true exorcist master even though I was such a bad actor.
I pretentiously picked up the brush pen and dipped it in the ink. I was worried sick as I looked at the white sheet.
There was no way out… I had to do this. I held the pen and began to draw on the paper.
After a while, I put down the brush pen and looked at my ‘painting’ with satisfaction. “Mister, please help me cut the painting … Ah, no, the charm into four rectangles and stick them respectively on each wall of this bedroom!”
The old man hastily came over, but he froze up when he saw my charms.
“Are these…apples?” The old man asked confusedly.
That’s right. I didn’t even know how to use a brush pen, let alone draw charms. I had no choice but to draw four ugly apples… Thank God the old man didn’t say they were butts.
Zhu Xuan, who was standing nearby, burst into laughter.
How dare you laugh at me! I mercilessly gazed at him. It was you who dragged me into this. If it weren’t for you, how could things turn out like this?
“This, this…” The old man looked at Zhu Xuan and then at me while holding the charms in his hand. Clearly, he was at a loss for words.
“Well, Mr. Yang, just do what the master told you,” Zhu Xuan said with a smile. “This is the master’s order, nothing will go wrong.”
“Ah, okay!” After the old man was reassured by Zhu Xuan, he nodded and began to cut the charm as I told him. In the evening, I saw that the ugly apple paintings I drew had already been stuck in the old woman’s bedroom.
Zhu Xuan!” I angrily dragged Zhu Xuan to a quiet corner. “Hey, what are you doing?”
“What’s wrong?” Zhu Xuan was puzzled as if he really did not understand my question.
“You tell me!” I was so angry that I pointed at the old woman’s bedroom and said, “What are you doing? I can accept that you make me pretend to be a Taoist priest, but how dare you ask me to draw charms? How would I know how to draw charms and exorcize ghosts? All I could do was draw apples to fool the old man. Now, look! The old man completely believes that I’m a master and listens to my every word. If this continues, what will happen to the old woman? Do you want her fever to continue and see her die?”
“When did I let ever let a person die in front of me?” Zhu Xuan looked at me in displeasure. “Besides, how can you be so sure that the charms you drew are useless?”
“Huh?” I was dumbfounded by his words.”But, I’m not an exorcist and I don’t know how to draw charms, let alone knowing anything about banishing spirits…”
Zhu Xuan shook his head. “Listen to me, it doesn’t matter whether or not you have exorcist skills, or how you draw charms or what kind of charms you draw.”
“It doesn’t matter?”
“What matters is your faith, not your strength,” Zhu Xuan said. “Or rather I should say that the power to exorcise spirits and subdue demons comes from faith. Gods appeared only after humans found their faith. The power of deities is also derived from human faith. Can you understand what I just said?”
I shook my head in confusion.
“Language and symbols are a form or a way to use the power. In other words, it’s the language that holds power.”
“In Japan, there is a specific word for such a language, called ‘ Kotodama’, it means the language with power,” Zhu Xuan enunciated. “Every word they say becomes spells, and everything they write becomes charms, but fundamentally, their power comes from their faith.”
“The more you explain, the more confused I become…” I replied.
Zhu Xuan thought for a moment. “Let me give you a simple example. What would you do if a very naughty child of your relatives caused trouble right in front of you during the family reunion on the Spring Festival holiday?”
Zhu Xuan suddenly changed the topic, making me even more confused. “Um… perhaps I’d scold him.”
“Yeah.” Zhu Xuan nodded. “Adults will scold their children if they behave inappropriately. If a junior staff makes mistakes, the managers will also criticize them. This is how language works. Since humans cannot directly understand each other’s thoughts, they must express their thoughts through language to communicate with each other. In this world, only human beings mastered this wonderful art of communication. Language is power, and its meaning and power vary according to different senders and receivers. But, one certainty is that language is the way to create faith, and faith creates power.”
I frowned and made a gesture to stop him. “Hold on, I still don’t understand what you are saying. Faith creates power, I understand that. Religion has power only because its followers have faith in it, but you say that language can create faith? Can you explain this?”
Zhu Xuan laughed. “It’s very simple. When Wen Jiubo exorcized demons and chanted spells… did you believe that he would succeed?”
I was dumbfounded but when I thought it over, it seemed true.
Not only because of the spells, but Wen Jiubo’s gestures and his aura also made people firmly believe that he was a very powerful exorcist and that he would succeed without a doubt.
“That’s it. Spells are a highly suggestive language.” Zhu Xuan nodded. “You believe it, at the same time the demons he exorcized also believed that. The spell not only influences you, but also influences his enemy, letting the enemy think ‘this person is really powerful’, and as a result, make it easier for Wen Jiubo to defeat them.”
“Is that so…” I murmured. So, the spells, which the exorcists and Taoist priests chanted when they exorcized demons, didn’t possess power, they just held a strong suggestive power towards spirit?
“As I said, language creates faith. However, if someone already has this faith, language is less important.” Zhu Xuan leaned against the wall with his arms crossed. He said, “Because I already told Mr. Yang that you’re the master I invited and Mr. Yang is deeply convinced. So even though you only painted apples, those charms will still be effective. Besides, you do have some powers. So those spells pasted on the walls will work, more or less.”
“I see…” That explained why Zhu Xuan forced me to pretend to be a Taoist priest. But even if that was the case, why didn’t he tell me beforehand?
Zhu Xuan seemed to read my thoughts. He said lazily, “If I told you at the beginning, would you have the patience to hear me out?”
He was right… I smiled embarrassedly.
“I’ll give the old lady some medicine to stabilize her condition. I’ve already asked Mr. Yang to buy the medicine, so her condition should get better tonight,” Zhu Xuan said.
“But Zhu Xuan, the old lady…and this family, what happened here?” I asked. “Do you have any clues?”
Zhu Xuan shook his head. “I’m afraid not…”
“No, it’s not the real problem.” Zhu Xuan looked at me with a worried face. “This place gives me a very weird feeling.”
“Ah?” I felt that I once again lost him.
“It’s like, everything here seems pretty normal, but I still feel that there is something abnormal,” Zhu Xuan murmured, “I don’t know how to describe this feeling.”
I sighed. “Then stop worrying about that. We have already accepted their request, so we need to take responsibility for it. Isn’t it our responsibility to find out how their son died?”
“You’re right.” Zhu Xuan nodded. His knitted eyebrows loosened.
“Brother Zhu, Master!” Mr. Yang’s voice came from afar, we turned around and found that Mr. Yang had returned with a medicine bag in his hand. “I bought the medicine as you asked!”
“Ah, thank you very much.” Zhu Xuan hurriedly came over and took the medicine bag. “I’ll prepare the medicine now.”
“No, don’t worry about it!” Mr. Yang hurriedly declined. He took the medicine bag back. “You should get some rest. Let me prepare the medicine. How could I bother my guests to do such trivial things!”
Zhu Xuan gave in as Mr. Yang insisted on preparing the medicine himself. “Fine. You’ll prepare the medicine and Master Gu and I will prepare the meal. How about that?”
Mr. Yang held the medicine bag in his hand, hesitant. “This…how could I let you…”
“That’s okay, it’s what we should do.” I stepped forward and patted the old man on the shoulder and said, “How can we watch you doing all the work without helping? Go on, Zhu Xuan and I will have the meal ready by the time you finish preparing the medicine!”
Mr. Yang used a small stove in the courtyard to prepare the medicine, while Zhu Xuan and I used the kitchen to prepare dinner.
“Okay, we have two potatoes and one eggplant in the refrigerator.” Zhu Xuan rubbed his hands and looked at me. “What should we do? Gu Yu, do you know how to cook?”
“I’m not bragging, but my cooking skills are definitely as good as you.” I was eager to try.
Since my mother was very strict with me, I helped her with all kinds of housework since I was a child, and of course, I knew how to cook. While Bai Ze, as a divine beast who was proficient in everything in the world, his cooking skills were also excellent. After a short while, we had already cooked a very delicious meal.
Mr. Yang was stunned after he saw the dishes on the table. Zhu Xuan and I hurriedly helped him sit down.
“Mr. Yang, you must be very tired, please take a rest.” I put the bowl and chopsticks in front of him, but surprisingly, he got so emotional that he began to tear up.