When the first rays of the morning sun fell upon Earth, Xiao Bei had already got out of bed. His body was no longer weak and he could now freely move about with ease.
Xiao Bei arrived in front of Qia Qia’s home. From afar, he could see Uncle Qia was on the doorstep and was smoking while grinding some drug powder. Xiao Bei had already retrieved the jade and the magical gem. He knew that Uncle Qia was a physician so he wanted to ask regarding the matter of the gem which could resist toxins.
As for the jade, it had given him a bit of a headache. Let’s say if nobody had been able to avoid the curse, then wouldn’t he be bringing harm to this village and its villagers? But fortunately, till now nothing had happened. Hence Xiao Bei pushed aside the worries that were on his mind.
“Xiao Bei, you are early ah. Come, take these medicine back. Go, simmer them for a moment before drinking them. They are very effective in helping your body to recover. Maybe in another week, your body would fully recover.” Qia Qia gave a bag of unknown medicinal herbs to Xiao Bei. Though Xiao Bei didn’t like the smell of the medicinal herbs, they were still Uncle Xia’s kind intention. So, he accepted them.
“Thank you, Uncle Qia.” After expressing his thanks, Xiao Bei then told Uncle Qia his purpose for coming here to find him. He took out the magical gem and passed it over.
As Xiao Bei watched Uncle Qia, he could not help but feel somewhat panicky. Uncle Qia should certainly have come in contact with the jade. He was worried that Uncle Qia would be like fatty and leave him, he who is powerless. The helplessness and the pain had deeply tormented him.
“Uncle Qia, aren’t you afraid of that jade……” Xiao Bei in the end still brought this matter out as he wanted to remind Uncle Qia so as to allow him to be mentally prepared. However, Xiao Bei did not know whether doing this would be helpful.
“Hāhāhā.” Uncle Qia laughed. “Xiao Bei ah, rest assured, your Uncle Qia’s life is still strong. Let’s see the gem.”
Xiao Bei looked at the verdant courtyard that was filled with all kinds of plants as his thumb was rubbing against the lukewarm jade that was in his palm. The smooth texture was transmitted to his skin but no matter what, his mood did not turn for the better.
Xiao Bei sensed an ineffable feeling like he would not be able to easily break away from the whirlpool, just like what was written in the diary; to be stared at as if he was a prey.
Uncle Qia looked at the gem for a long time but could not determine what was special about it. After returning it to Xiao Bei, he began to smoke again “bāda bāda”.
Suddenly, a flustered villager ran in. Xiao Bei recognized this person because he is relatively tall and that was why in the village, everyone liked to call him Da Ge Er.
Da Ge Er was sweating profusely and was bending forward, gasping for breath. He shouted, “Not good! Something bad had happened!”
Xiao Bei who was originally sitting cross-legged beside Uncle Qia abruptly stood up.
“What happened? Take a moment to rest then speak clearly.”
“This, I can’t really explain. It’s best if you personally see for yourself. Everyone is at the village entrance.”
Xiao Bei and Uncle Qia briefly looked at each other and without speaking, they headed to the village entrance.
The village is enclosed with bamboo fences and only the entrance is open. Now at the entrance of the village, there were layers of villagers surrounding it. Xiao Bei squeezed in and found a person lying at the center of the crowd. No, accurately speaking, it was a corpse.
The deceased seemed to have died recently as there were dark red dots from head to toe and froth was present at the corner of his mouth. His livid face was very frightening. That man died from poison and even Xiao Bei, a layman, was able to see that.
The strange thing regarding this was that the locals here had an abundance of mountain and forest survival experience, hence they ought to know whether a thing was toxic or not. So, how could this even happen?
Ever since Xiao Bei woke up, he had learned that Dayan Town was very far away from here. Also, it is far from the tomb so there should not be any relations between the two. Thus, was this poisoning incident caused by somebody? Xiao Bei shook his head. It couldn’t be. Everyone in this village treated each other as family, how would they be able to do such vicious things. Hence, something was definitely fishy.
“Where was he found? How long had he been dead?” Uncle Qia walked to the front and asked a villager that was nearest to him. While questioning, he took out a silver needle-like object from the many pockets in his bag and pricked the dead’s mouth.
“This, I’m not very sure. Today morning, he was found 20 meters away from the village entrance so we lifted him back. Behind him, there are traces of deep drag marks which must be due to him crawling back to the village but had failed to persist on, Āi.”
Xiao Bei watched as the silver needle was dyed black. Such strong toxicity. Xiao Bei was secretly shocked.
Suddenly, Xiao Bei saw something within the corpse’s slightly opened mouth. He pointed for Uncle Qia to see, “Uncle Qia, look!”
Uncle Qia pried open the dead’s mouth and part of a strange plant was exposed for everyone to see.
The shape of the plant was somewhat similar to mimosa but it was strangely short. About mimosa, there were large varieties of them. This mimosa-like plant possessed milky white circles and the edge of their leaves were flexuous. As only part of the plant had remained so, for now, those were what everyone could perceive,
“This isn’t something from here.” Uncle Qia stood up, then put the remaining part of the plant into a small bag. He looked into the distance and moved forward while following the messy trail.
Xiao Bei hurriedly caught up.
“Look at this. What do you think actually happened?” Suddenly, Uncle Qia stopped at the spot where the trail had disappeared. He turned to ask Xiao Bei.
“I feel that this was caused by somebody but I’m certain that it isn’t done by anyone in the village. This plant should have been stuffed into his mouth by force and over here, few people tread this area. Outsiders would not appear here and they would not waste effort to forcefully feed poisonous plant to the dead.” Xiao Bei noticed that at a distance, there was a small print in the mud. He approached it to have a better look. Upon seeing the print, Xiao Bei began to panic.
It was an animal’s footprint. Though the print was shallow, it still could be vaguely determined.
“Cat paw print.” Uncle Qia frowned.
Xiao Bei had recounted his recent experience to him. He understood that the cause of all the troubles Xiao Bei had encountered was due to that black cat. It was that black cat that started everything. At present, the paw print of the cat caused him to have no choice but to bring up this question: Are the two incidents linked?
No matter how much the two searched, they could not find any more traces. Hence, they went back with a heavy load on their minds.
The sky gradually darkened. In the house, Xiao Bei was sitting beside Uncle Qia. Outside, “huā huā” sound due to someone drawing up water could be heard.
“Have you arrived at a decision?”
“Èn. I’ll go back tomorrow. I really do not want to implicate others.”
“But this matter may not be related to you.”
“It’s my conscious. I felt like my mind is being weighed down by a large stone. This stifling feeling is truly unbearable.”
“Then, do you think that when you leave, everyone would be safe?”
Xiao Bei was stunned. True ah. Why did he not think of that? The problem might not be solved even if he left. He should find the origin of the problem to completely solve this matter.
“Before I leave, I’ll help to investigate this matter. Uncle Qia, in fact, I…” Xiao Bei was hesitant but in the end, he did not speak.
“Silly boy, there’s no need to say anymore. Let’s eat first.” Uncle Qia once again lit the pipe bowl and breathed deeply. The faint smell of tobacco lingered inside the house.
It should be dinner time but outside was unusually noisy. The fire brightly lit the surrounding. Something had happened.
Xiao Bei opened the door and found everyone was crying out in alarm as they ran all over the place. Finally, they gathered at a place and that was the house where the deceased had once lived when he was alive.
“What happened?” Xiao Bei came down and stood in the way of a person.
That person’s face had a bizarre expression. He moved close to Xiao Bei’s ear and whispered into it, “It seemed like, like, like the corpse had moved. Everyone is heading there, let’s go see and help too.”