Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 4 Book of Kan – Chapter 32 The Story Told By Zhu Xuan (1)
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 32 The Story Told By Zhu Xuan (1)
“Bai Zhuxuan? Are you serious?”
As soon as the class was over, I ran after Zhu Xuan. I quickly caught up to him and made fun of his weird name.
“Do you have something to say about my name?” Zhu Xuan looked at me, feeling amused. “I think it’s more suitable as a human name than Wen Jiubo.”
“Speaking of Wen Jiubo, can’t you tell me what is going on?” Zhu Xuan walked very fast as if he was deliberately trying to avoid the crowd. I could only keep up with him by picking up my pace.
“I’ve been kept in the dark by Wen Jiubo and you long enough. Can’t you just tell me for once?” I asked while panting, and the displeasure in my tone was obvious.
“I didn’t mean to deliberately keep it from you. I just don’t want other irrelevant people to get involved in this.” Zhu Xuan stopped suddenly. I had already followed him to a quiet corner. “I can tell you, but can you promise to keep it secret?”
I felt that I was deeply distrusted. I knitted my eyebrows. “Zhu Xuan, I didn’t even disclose these things to my best friends, Su Xiaoyun and Shi Yitong. Do you think I’ll tell others? I’m the last person on earth who wants to see my innocent classmates get involved!”
Zhu Xuan did not respond to my argument. He just nodded. “That’s great. Because this is different from the petty cases you handled before. The smallest mistake can lead to bloodshed.”
I directly interrupted him, “When did you become so whiny? Tell me everything about the Jade Ruyi, are you looking for it like Wen Jiubo? Why did you come to my school?”
“I’m not being whiny, I’m just being cautious,” Zhu Xuan argued, but it seemed very unconvincing under my gaze. “Well, I learned about the Jade Ruyi a long time ago. Although this may only be a legend to human beings, all legends come from real but forgotten history. For those of us who have a long lifespan, we vividly remember everything about the past. Long ago, the Jade Ruyi was the treasure of a huge demon snake that ruled over most of the mountains through the use of that power. Soon after, other monsters rebelled against the demon snake and it fell off a cliff and died. After the demon snake died, all the monsters tried to get hold of the Jade Ruyi, but no one could find it. It seemed like the Jade Ruyi had grown legs and escaped, since then it has not been seen.”
I listened carefully and nodded.
“After the nine-tailed fox disappeared, this mysterious treasure surfaced again, which caused fighting for it to begin anew. Countless greedy monsters were eager to possess it to realize their wishes.”
“Like ruling the world?” I couldn’t help but interrupt.
Zhu Xuan looked at me in surprise and slightly shook his head. “No, of course not. In fact, most of the wishes may not be as you imagine them to be, but they were the wishes that monsters wanted to realize at all costs.”
“What were they?” Zhu Xuan’s words aroused my curiosity.
Zhu Xuan hesitated a moment before saying, “I once met a ghost who had been searching for the Jade Ruyi for more than 300 years. He just wanted to see his wife one last time. I also met a cat demon. She fought with other monsters several times for the Jade Ruyi. She suffered severe injuries each time, and once she nearly died. Her wish was to forget a memory of killing her former master…”
I looked at Zhu Xuan and was astonished. I never expected that the monsters fought fiercely for the Jade Ruyi just to realize small, simple wishes like that. This went far beyond my expectations. Those wishes were so…
Human. But they were not human at all.
“However,” then, his tone suddenly changed, “in those battles, I found that all the monsters who ever possessed the Jade Ruyi gradually disappeared. No one really got their so-called happiness, on the contrary, it seemed like they got cursed by it, and they just vanished, one by one. Even so, they still feverishly vied for it. I had a chance to meet a monster who temporarily owned the Jade Ruyi. He discarded it into the wild the day after he got it. When I found him, he was slowly dying under the shade of a massive tree. He said, ‘This is a deal made with the devil.’ Then he quickly turned into a pile of dust and vanished into the air.”
“He died?” I asked in surprise.
Zhu Xuan nodded, confirming my guess. “After that, I realized how dangerous the Jade Ruyi was. It’s not a ritual instrument that can fulfill people’s wishes. It’s just an evil curse. So afterward, I found the Jade Ruyi and buried it myself to end the fighting between monsters.”
I hesitated. “Wait, you’re saying you hid the Jade Ruyi from the eyes of others? Is that what you mean?”
Zhu Xuan nodded. I was not sure if this was my illusion, but his face looked grimmer.
“But, Gu Yu, when I found the Jade Ruyi, I finally understood what that monster meant before he died. When he used the word ‘devil’, he meant it literally.”
I was even more confused. “What?”
“That thing is not a cold inanimate object. It’s alive.” Zhu Xuan shook his head. “That thing is a creature.”
Zhu Xuan’s words gave me goosebumps. “What do you mean by that?”
“I mean it literally.” Zhu Xuan came closer. He looked at me sternly and said in a measured, slow pace. “Gu Yu, do you know of Chinese caterpillar fungus?”
I nodded hesitantly. “Of course… it’s traditional Chinese medicine. it’s an insect during winter and a plant in the summer.”
Zhu Xuan nodded. “That plant is actually a kind of fungus, which parasitizes the larvae of a moth. In spring, the worm’s internal organs are eaten by the fungus, and then ‘a plant’ will emerge from the worm’s head.”
Ew… I didn’t expect that such a precious Chinese medicine had such a disgusting history.
“That thing, the Jade Ruyi, is similar,” Zhu Xuan said. “The Jade Ruyi appears to be just an ordinary jade ornament. However, it’s actually the host of some kind of monster. Normally, it sleeps in the jade ornament. But once someone touches it, it will come back to life and impose a vicious curse on you.”
“What kind of monster is that?” I asked, half-curious and half-scared, but Zhu Xuan shook his head.
“I don’t know. When I found it, out of caution, I never touched it directly. But even so, each time I came close to it, I could feel the powerful evil energy gushing out of it. Because I never touched it directly, I never saw the monster inside either. I just buried it before it could harm more monsters or even human beings.”
I nodded and asked again, “Then what happened?”
“That’s what I wanted to talk about,” Zhu Xuan said. “As you’ve known, I was in a coma for thirty years on Mt. Diecui. Not long after I woke up, I met you. Then, I sealed the beast Chen and met the nine-tailed fox again, and I got involved in a series of affairs. So I totally forgot about the Jade Ruyi until two days ago, I suddenly thought of it, and I hurriedly went back to the place where I buried it, but only found that…”
“It was gone?” I couldn’t help but ask.
Zhu Xuan let out a sigh and nodded. “Yeah, as you guessed, the place where the Jade Ruyi was hidden was destroyed, and all the magic barriers I set up had collapsed, and the Jade Ruyi had disappeared.”
“It’s Lingxiao!” I blurted out. I immediately came to the conclusion. “It must be him! He did something bad again!”
Surprisingly, Zhu Xuan frowned, he asked, “Why are you so sure it’s Taoist priest Lingxiao?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” I looked at Zhu Xuan in surprise. “He has been hiding in the shadows, hindering our plans all the time. He lied to Su Xiaoyun to conjure evil spirits; he broke the magic barrier and released Gudiao; he even helped the beast Chen in order to destroy you. Are these not enough for us to suspect him? Besides, Wen Jiubo told me that the thing he wanted most now is this jade…”
Zhu Xuan interrupted me in the middle, “Wait, what did Wen Jiubo tell you? What did he say?”
I looked at him, hesitated. I was not sure if I should tell him the story Wen Jiubo told me, but what Zhu Xuan said next reassured me.
“You can tell me. Even if Wen Jiubo knows that you secretly told me, I will definitely be the only one he will punch. He won’t do anything to you.”
I was speechless for a moment. He gave me an argument that I was unable to refute.
“Alright then.” I scratched my head. I briefly told him what Wen Jiubo had said to me the night before. I told Zhu Xuan that Ling Xiao sealed Wen Jiubo’s power with the power of the Jade Ruyi.
“So what you are saying is that Lingxiao was able to seal Wen Juibo thanks to the power of the Jade Ruyi?” Zhu Xuan asked.
“And now he wants the Jade Ruyi because he wants to kill Wen Jiubo with this magic instrument again?” Zhu Xuan asked again.
I nodded. “Yeah.”
I did not know why, but Zhu Xuan suddenly became silent. He stared at me with his insightful eyes which seemingly did not match his appearance. I felt a little frightened.
“Wha…what?” I shivered a little and tried to calm down to ease the goosebumps all over my body. I complained, “Just say what you want to say, okay? Stop staring at me like that. It’s creepy.”