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My name is Ronghua. I am 20 years old this year.
My teenage period was not a great one for me. It was filled with an endless cycle of nightmares that continued to harass me.
My hometown is a village in a remote mountainous area that is near a body of water. But that village has a dark rumor; a rumor that is completely opposite of the beautiful landscape the area had to offer.
It is said that the village was built on the boundary between two worlds; the Hell and the Mortal World.
And what’s more, the “Gate of Hell” is situated at the very position of the village.
The old witch in the village constantly brainwashed the villagers that in every five years, an eighteen-year-old girl must be offered to Hades, the King of Hell, as his bride; otherwise, the Gates of Hell would open and the spirits from the other side of the gate will come through.
The villagers were convinced, and among them were the older generations of my family, especially my grandparents.
Thinking back to the girl before whom was sent into the small hut; when they opened the coffin lid and raised her out, her whole body was covered in bruises, especially the lower parts of her body. It was simply an uncomfortable sight.
At that time, I was still young and did not understand what I had just witnessed. However, that scene was deeply engraved in my mind. Of course, it had not crossed my mind that the next in line would be me.
Making bridal offerings to Hades was a custom in the small village which had remained for hundreds of years. And to protect this secret, there were never many outsiders visiting the village..
As for me, I am honored that among the other offerings in this hundred-year history, I was the only offering that lived to tell the tale, even till now. As for the other brides that were offered to Hades, most of them died on the wedding night; only a small number had managed to survive. But even if they were to survive, they didn’t last for a week.
After an uncomfortable event, my parents took me away from the village and into the city. They were extremely protective of me and cared for me, and they wished that I could forget about that night.
Two years went by. I thought I could forget it and live an ordinary life, but I never imagined that the event would become a never ending nightmare!
Even while I was taking a nap on the plane, I was not spared. Everything seemed so real. It was like a horror tape stuck inside a CD player replaying its contents; that tender and cold sensation; the waves of throbbing pain in my secret place…
While I was in the coffin inside the little black hut, those superstitious villagers were singing a strange song outside and I was listening; their voices were filled with terror and the tune was eerie, as if there was a woodwind instrument accompaniment. There was also the voice of the old witch’s incarnation, and I could also hear the roars of my parents.
At last, the plane landed and I desperately walked down from the plane, and out of the airport before welcoming the warm hug from my mother.
“Xiao Hua, you’re finally back! How was your trip overseas? Was it fun?”
Seeing my pale face, she immediately embraced me tightly. She knew that I was still affected by the shadow of horrors of that night’s event.
“My Xiao Hua, you must keep in mind that there is no such things as spirits and demons. That event that night… sorry… we were not able to protect you.”
Although I had no idea who it was that set the village rules, all girls who were born in the village must return to conduct a ceremony.
Who knew that that would become the beginning of all my nightmares? My parents knew of the bridal offering, but because there was another eighteen-year-old girl in the village, my grandparents assured me that it would never be my turn.
But in the end, fate went on to make me the unfortunate one. My parents were seized by a group of villagers, whereas I was forcibly dressed up by a group of old hags with my eyes covered with a white veil. My body was then tied to a coffin and sent into the small black hut that only god knows how many eighteen-year-old girls had died in. I was terrified.
Time passed slowly. It wasn’t until the old witch stopped her chanting did the villagers release my parents. They rushed madly into the hut and rescued me from the coffin.
Seeing the messy white clothes, the bruises I suffered on my arms and thighs, my messy hair, and the white veil wet with tears, their heart ached.
My mother cried her heart out when she saw that I was still alive. My dad on the other hand was filled with resentment towards his relatives and the villagers. He made up his mind to bring me and my mother away from the small village, and would never return.
Whereas for me, I was scared silly and my eyes dilated as they stared into space.
On my wrist wore a crimson jade bracelet. Carved on the bracelet was a flower that grows at the side of the River of Three Crossings, the flower that guides the dead —— the Red Spider Lily.
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