Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 4 Book of Kan – Chapter 14 The Old Woman’s Death
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 14 The Old Woman’s Death
“What’s the matter?” I asked dully.
“Nah, it’s nothing.” Zhu Xuan smiled and changed the subject, but it was still about Wen Jiubo. “Speaking of which, I’m very curious about how the nine-tailed fox plans to investigate Ling Xiao’s matter.”
I was a little surprised. “He said he was going to investigate, so he must have his own plan.”
Zhu Xuan shook his head. “It’s not that simple. I admit that the nine-tailed fox has great power, but if Ling Xiao is really allying himself with the beast Nian as you said, then it won’t be a simple matter.”
“Is the beast Nian really that powerful?”
“Powerful isn’t enough to describe it, it’s——mighty’,” Zhu Xuan said slowly, “The beast Nian is a mighty creature. Not only divine beasts, but demons and spirits are also scared of it. Humans used to be afraid of Nian, but as time passed, they gradually forgot what a terrifying beast it was. You humans are really forgetful.”
I was listening to what he said, but I was filled with doubt. “If the beast Nian is really that mighty, why would it ally itself with the Taoist priest to hurt people?”
Zhu Xuan began to ponder, “You’re right. The beast Nian always acts in a mysterious manner, even I have never seen it before, I believe that the nine-tailed fox hasn’t either. From my experience, the beast Nian rarely cares about trivial affairs in this world, let alone cooperate with a humble human Taoist priest. However, according to the dream you talked about, the only being that could link time and spirit like this is the beast Nian.”
For a moment, I didn’t say a word, I looked at Zhu Xuan. “So, it’s true?”
Zhu Xuan did not understand my question. “What’s true?”
“Wen Jiubo is going to die one day in the future? His death is an established fact?” I asked.
Zhu Xuan stared at me, and said reluctantly, “Well… probably. Since you have already witnessed it, it means that the future is fixed. Although the future may change, it can only happen under certain circumstances…”
“But I don’t even know when it’s going to happen,” I interrupted Zhu Xuan. “I just know that the Taoist priest will find Wen Jiubo one day, but I don’t know when.”
Zhu Xuan looked at me in silence. His expression suggested that he was not sure if he should tell me or not.
I began to think about that dream again, and the Taoist priest who hid in the shadows and never revealed himself.
There were still too many things I was not aware of, and yet I had to wait for the irremediable death of Wen Jiubo, which would happen one day in the future.
This feeling was really terrible.
I could still vividly recall that bizarre and flamboyant dream, the abandoned school, the ruined old residence…
Oh, right, speaking of which, why did the abandoned school appear in that dream? In that dream, I disappeared for six years without any reason. If I traveled to the past through my dream at that time, then where was the version of me that should’ve existed in the future?
Perhaps Zhu Xuan, the divine beast Bai Ze, knew something?
“Zhu Xuan, um…” Just before I opened my mouth to ask him, a strange groan interrupted me.
The voice came from the direction where the old woman was resting, it sounded like a cry and a groan at the same time.
The one who made this sound must be in great pain, otherwise, it would be impossible to let out such a bleak voice.
Zhu Xuan and I immediately stood up. We looked at each other before rushing towards the guest room.
“What’s going on, this sound…” Soon after, the old man also ran out of his room.
We rushed into the guest room and saw the old woman, who was supposed to be lying on the bed, had climbed out and was crawling on the ground. Her face showed that she was in great pain.
“My dear! What happened?” The old man shouted and rushed over to help her up. However, her face contorted in a grimace of pain. She began to struggle fiercely and even bit the old man’s arm.
“Be careful! Move away!” Zhu Xuan immediately rushed over to separate the old man from the frantic old woman. However, just after they were separated, the old woman suddenly convulsed. She fell on the ground and before we could react, she stopped breathing.
I was stunned. The old man let out a loud cry and held his wife’s body.
“What’s wrong? What happened to you? How could this happen! Yu Xiang, wake up! Yu Xiang!”
Zhu Xuan squatted down. He put a finger under the old woman’s nose to feel her breath, and then he tightly knitted his eyebrows.
Zhu Xuan shook his head. “I’m sorry, she has passed away.”
I was so surprised I stood there dumbfounded with a gaping mouth.
“But, how could… this happen so suddenly? Wasn’t she just fine this afternoon? Didn’t her condition improve after taking the medicine?”
“I don’t know,” Zhu Xuan interrupted. He got up and looked sullen.
We consoled Mr. Yang before carrying the body onto the bed again. Zhu Xuan closed the old woman’s eyes, but even as he did so, her face was still twisted as if she died with everlasting regret.
The room was filled with a deadly silence as no one said anything. I couldn’t bear the sadness and coughed a little.
“Um… should we call the police?”
I realized that I might have asked a stupid question after I opened my mouth.
“What’s the point of calling the police?!” The old man said in tears. “Is this something the police can solve? It’s no use! This was done by an evil ghost! I have done nothing unethical in my whole life, why did God punish me like this? Is this my curse? Is this my curse?!”
“I don’t think the police can help us.” Zhu Xuan also shook his head. “Apart from causing more turmoil, the police can’t fix anything.”
“But, the old lady… Are we just gonna leave her here without doing anything?” I was at a loss. “No matter how she died, it’s the procedure to call the police.”
“I will be guarding her for tonight. We’ll notify the relevant personnel tomorrow morning.” Zhu Xuan sighed. He looked exhausted.
I was afraid that Zhu Xuan must have felt deep remorse right then. The client that we should have protected suddenly died under our watch, how unacceptable and horrible it was.
He stopped me with a gesture soon after I opened my mouth.
“Gu Yu, close the door. It’s best to lock it. Check this room thoroughly and don’t overlook anything. Write down anything that you feel is strange right away, and paste charms on the East, West, South and North walls in the hall, on which you should write ‘Green Dragon, White Tiger, Red Phoenix, and Black Turtle’.”
“Got it.” I nodded immediately and began to move without hesitation.
“Wait,” Zhu Xuan stopped me. He glanced at the old man who stood nearby. “Please send Mr. Yang to his room. Light two red candlesticks in the room and placed them in the north and the west respectively. The bigger, the better .”
I nodded. “Sure.”
Just like that, following Zhu Xuan’s instructions, I was busy until midnight. Mr. Yang soon fell asleep on an armchair, while Zhu Xuan stood by the old woman’s body with his eyebrows knitted. I didn’t sure whether he kept a vigil for her or just pondered about something.
“Why did the old lady suddenly die?”
My sudden question seemingly startled Zhu Xuan. He let out a sigh of relief after he saw me. “Don’t sneak up on me, you almost scared me to death. Have you done everything I asked?”
I nodded. “What’s more, I moved the sleeping old man to bed.”
“Good. Have you felt anything?” Zhu Xuan asked. “Such as strange intuition, or sensed something wrong…”
I shook my head. “Not yet. I’m not feeling anything I have before encountering a monster before, and I don’t see anything abnormal.”
“Is that so…” Zhu Xuan lowered his eyes and nodded. “Thanks anyway.”
“Did you find anything?” I asked.
“I can’t say I didn’t, but I’m not sure if this counts.” Zhu Xuan got up and uncovered the white cloth on the old woman, revealing her face.
I had to admit that I was shocked when I saw the old woman’s face. Although she died only a short while ago, her facial muscles were already stiff, and what’s more, her twisted face had turned purple and black, which made her look like a zombie from a horror movie.
“How did this happen?” I murmured.
“I did a simple examination. At first, I thought that the cause of death was a heart attack triggered by panic because that appeared to be the reason when we broke into the room. I know that, in fact, a vast majority of humans die of a panic attack when they were haunted by evil spirits. Many evil spirits can create an illusion to mess up people’s minds, especially for the faint-hearted and the sensitive. This kind of ‘panic’ is undoubtedly fatal, not to mention for seniors like the old woman here,” Zhu Xuan explained. “But after searching a bit more, I found that the old woman didn’t die because of a heart attack, but because she was poisoned.”
“Poisoned?” I forced myself to look at the old woman’s body again. Her purple and black skin color was not natural, she did not look like she died of a panic-induced heart attack. “But where did the poison come from?”
“It’s effluvium,” Zhu Xuan said with certainty.
“You must know the odor of effluvium, right?” Zhu Xuan looked at me, “When a place is haunted by evil spirits, there is a very strong stinky odor, an odor that smells like feces and rotting corpses at the same time. The more evil spirits gather, the stronger the odor becomes.”
After hearing this, I immediately recalled Devil’s Night in the school woods. That smell was so strong that I couldn’t forget it even if I wanted. I even subconsciously frowned and covered my nose every time I thought about it.
“Never again… that smell was a nightmare.” I quickly shook my head.
Zhu Xuan nodded. “However, although the smell is strong and no humans can bear it, it’s rare to be poisoned to death by the effluvium. Since you’ve experienced the Devil’s Night, then you should know that when a large number of evil spirits and demons gather, the odor they release makes people dizzy and nauseous. But the old woman in front of us was poisoned to death by this odor.”