Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 4 Book of Kan – Chapter 3 The Ins and Outs
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 3 The Ins and Outs
“So… I understand, Nian is a scary four-dimensional creature. But, does it have anything to do with what we were talking about?” I was puzzled.
“My friend made it clear in the letter that the Taoist priest who sealed me long ago is still alive.” Wen Jiubo sat down on the bed. “I don’t know how he managed to stay alive to this day, but I have always trusted my friend’s judgment. According to him, the Taoist priest still holds a grudge against me and wants to kill me. So, if he really allied with the beast Nian, then I definitely have a zero chance to win.”
“If the beast Nian is as powerful as you say, is it really possible for the Taoist priest to control it?” I was surprised and asked. “Who is he?”
Wen Jiubo glanced at me and tried to avoid my question by changing the subject. “That isn’t important. What’s important is that once the beast Nian targets you, there is nowhere to hide. Instead of aimlessly searching in the material world, the beast Nian hunts its prey in the spiritual world through dreams. And I have no choice but to lead it to the future.”
“Lead it to the future?”
“No one can escape from the beast Nian, and I am no exception,” Wen Jiubo said sternly. “But it has one weakness, it cannot distinguish different timelines. In other words, it doesn’t know whether the one it killed is from the present or from the future.”
From Wen Jiubo’s words, I gradually understood the ins and outs of the whole thing.
“So, in order to hide from the beast Nian, you let me have a dream that could connect to the future, and you hoped that you could lead the beast Nian and your enemy to the future I dreamed about…”
Wen Jiubo nodded, praising me, “Yes, that’s right, you’re indeed my little Gu Yu. You’re so smart.”
“Asshole,” I said angrily, “you used me as your bait? Why didn’t you dream it yourself?”
“I can’t travel along my own timeline,” Wen Jiubo said solemnly.
“You read too much science fiction! I don’t believe you!”
Wen Jiubo caught my fist with his hand and said with a smile, “I’m sorry, I’ll ask you next time.”
“Next time?” I was annoyed, but there was no way I could beat him in an argument.
“Well, stop being childish. Eat the porridge while it’s warm.” Wen Jiubo didn’t take it seriously. He picked up the bowl and handed it over.
I had no choice but to take the bowl over and eat it in silence. Wen Jiubo quietly stared at me with his eyelids slightly drooped.
“So the future I saw … are you really going to die?” I put down the empty bowl and cleared my throat.
“You’ve already seen it.” Wen Jiubo sighed. “So, yes, I will, one day in the future.”
“But, you told me——you in the future told me that the future can be altered and the time can be rewritten!” I said hurriedly. “Can’t you do anything about it?”
“We can change the future, but only the future which hasn’t been seen,” Wen Jiubo said calmly. “Once we see the future, then the part we saw becomes unalterable, and it becomes a part of history, becomes an established fact. Since you saw me dead, then my death is inevitable.”
I was dumbfounded. “But …”
“Consider it as a mistake that I made due to an indiscreet move and forget about it. ” Wen Jiubo got up and shook his head. “I’m going to wash the bowl.”
“Ay, Wen Jiubo!” I straightened up my body and wanted to stop him, but he walked out of the room without looking back.
After he left the room, he didn’t show up again. At about seven o’clock in the evening, Su Xiaoyun and Shi Yitong came to the old residence to greet me. They apparently didn’t know anything since they laughed and joked with each other.
“So, Gu Yu, are you feeling better?” Su Xiaoyun looked at me with concern.
I was absent-minded and didn’t hear her. “I’m sorry, what did you say?”
“Wen Jiubo said you had a fever, are you all right now?” Su Xiaoyun looked more concerned, and her tone showed a hint of sympathy. “Did the fever also made you a fool?”
“You’re already stupid enough, but if you suffer from mental retardation now, you will have serious trouble,” Shi Yitong chimed in.
“Yeah, you’re right.”
I didn’t know whether I should laugh or cry. I couldn’t believe they stayed the same no matter what happened. I pushed Su Xiaoyun’s hand away after I noticed that she wanted to touch my forehead. I shook my head. “I’m fine, the fever is gone. Don’t worry. What about you?”
“We? We’re fine. We’re just worried about you, so we came to see you after school,” Shi Yitong complained, “and we find you’re so energetic that you don’t look like you were sick at all. You had us worried.”
“By the way, Gu Yu, here are the notes for all the classes you missed.” Su Xiaoyun took out a notebook from her backpack. “You are so careless, you didn’t even ask for leave. Fortunately, I asked the teacher and obtained leave for you.”
I took over the note and felt a little embarrassed. “I’m sorry for all the trouble.”
“Hum, it’s okay. Remember to do your homework,” Su Xiaoyun said with her arms crossed.
I opened the notebook and found it was filled with notes, which literally gave me a headache.
I was not sure if Shi Yitong saw my distress, but he came over and patted me on the shoulder. “Don’t listen to her. That homework is not important, you can do it whenever you want to. You haven’t eaten dinner, have you? Come on, let’s go out and have some dumplings.”
After Shi Yitong mentioned it, I realized that my stomach was growling since I didn’t eat anything except for the bowl of porridge Wen Jiubo gave me.
“Okay, let’s go out,” I agreed.
“Let’s go, let’s go!” Shi Yitong immediately took my hand and ran towards the door. “I didn’t eat much at lunch and now I’m starving!”
“Hey, you two!” Su Xiaoyun shouted at us from behind. “You’re only thinking about food, you’re so hopeless!”
“Eating is the most important thing for a human being, okay?” Shi Yitong turned around and made a face at her as he ran.
I could not help laughing out when I heard their verbal battle.
Just as we were about to go out of the door, Bai suddenly appeared from nowhere. He seemed stunned when he saw us.
“Gu Yu, are you going back?” Bai asked.
“Ah…sort of, we’re going out for dinner. And after that, I probably have a pile of homework to do.” I smiled bitterly.
“But Wen Jiubo…” Bai blurted out, but he didn’t finish his sentence. “Er, that’s ok. Go ahead and have fun.”
“What is it? What’s wrong with Wen Jiubo?” I asked.
“Nothing, he’s fine. You can go out for dinner.”
I opened my mouth and wanted to ask another question, but Shi Yitong pulled my arm.
“Let’s go! Gu Yu, you can talk to him tomorrow. Now let’s go eat first!”
I gave in since I was helpless against Shi Yitong, who was overly enthusiastic about dinner. As a result, I let him push me out of the old residence.
I looked back. The old residence, which looked no different than any other ordinary old house, sat quietly in the foothills and gradually disappeared in the dark as we walked away.
Nine-tailed white fox on the mountain of Qingqiu.
I spun the gel pen on my fingertips, and after a while, I began to carefully sketch. The pen moved freely on the paper. I started with its head, then its ferocious face, sharp fangs, sharp claws, slender body, and then the nine tails behind it which symbolized its strength and evil.
I held my head with one hand and sketched the fox on the textbook with the other. I wasn’t really good at sketching things, but somehow, the look of that nine-tailed fox was so deeply engraved in my mind that it was hard to forget.
Once I finished drawing the nine-tailed fox, I stopped for a second, and then I drew a woman wearing a white gown next to it.
Yes, that woman, according to the words written on the wall, was the princess of Qingqiu. Her father sacrificed her to the nine-tailed fox.
However, Wen Jiubo never mentioned that woman to me, which made me curious. Somehow, my instincts told me that the woman was not ordinary.
What happened to her?
I pointed my pen at the nine-tailed fox again. I stared absentmindedly at its big swinging tails.
I still clearly remembered what Wen Jiubo told me in the dream.
——”The nine-tailed fox killed people and ate them; men, women, and children alike. The blood of those people killed every day could dye a mountain red.”
——”As I said, it was bored.”
Those merciless words like a chill struck into my bones. However, what frightened me most was that, deep down in my heart, I found that I didn’t care about that at all.
From the first day I met this man, I knew he was dangerous. But, instead of staying away from him, I wanted to get closer to him.
When Wen Jiubo confessed to me, I just felt slightly sad, perhaps towards those innocent people or towards myself, but I didn’t get angry at him at all.
Wen Jiubo had so many secrets. Even if I spent my whole life, I would probably never unravel everything. But in my dream, for the first time, I knew that as powerful a monster as he was, he was not invulnerable.
He was a nine-tailed fox, and so what? He was like any human, he could cry and laugh; he could get sad and happy; he was able to love and hate. He could get hurt and feel distressed. However, perhaps he had lived in this world for so long that he learned how to disguise himself from head to toe.
He was by no means cold and heartless. He was just scared of getting hurt, that’s why he had learned to put on an invisible mask to hide his smile.