I sat listlessly on the sofa, enjoying the cool air that blew out of the air conditioner. The temperature outside was so warm that I did not feel like going out at all. Just as I was about to switch on the television, my phone rang.
It was from An Ning.
“I’m at my grandpa’s place. He’s preparing to exorcise those dirty things in the antiques we picked up at the antique dealer’s house and kicked me out of the shop. Are you home now? I’ll head over there.”
An Ning’s voice was gloomy and I could still hear a slight amount of anger in her tone. I could not help but laugh.
“Seriously, why am I not allowed to stay there and watch?” I could hear the noisy environment behind her as she complained; the noise as a vehicle drove past her and the people chatting noisily around her.
It was definitely obvious that the reason Grandpa An had done that was because exorcising spirits isn’t safe; to not let her stay was to guarantee her safety.
But from those words, I felt somewhat uncomfortable.
Exorcising spirits alone, would Grandpa An be able to do it alone?
How should I put it, those dirty things contained within the antiques from the Yin Mountains have absorbed a large amount of negative energy after dozens of years. I couldn’t help but worry for him.
An Ning entered my house and sat comfortably on the sofa. Her face was still gloomy. It was evident that her grandfather’s actions still made her feel unhappy.
“Activities such as exorcism is certainly dangerous! An Ning, Grandpa An was definitely looking after your safety to ensure that nothing dangerous happens to you.”
She remained silent for a while before holding onto my hand tightly. Looking straight into my eyes, I could see the glistening in hers.
I was taken aback by her actions and hurriedly asked with concern, “Do you have something you’d like to tell me?”
Whenever there was something she’d like to confess, she would always become like she was now. This girl’s eyes would expose her thoughts before her mouth could even open to speak.
“Xiao Hua, I want to come clean about something!”
I was taken aback by her actions and hurriedly asked with concern, “Do you have something you’d like to tell me?”
Whenever there was something she’d like to confess, she would always become like she was now. This girl, her eyes would expose her thoughts before her mouth could even open to speak.
“Xiao Hua, I want to come clean with something!”
I was surprised for a moment. Just what had she hidden from me… I worked my head and thought carefully. There didn’t seem to be any secrets between An Ning and me; it was almost as if we were transparent in each other’s eyes.
An Ning looked at me seriously and pulled my hand closer and closer towards her. I gazed confusedly at her, but if no progress was made after here, An Ning might have eventually suffocated to death internally. “Just tell me. What did you hide from me?”
An Ning shuffled in her position and her eyes glanced from side to side with the thought of wanting to change the subject they were on. Immediately, I pulled her back.
“The An Ning I know isn’t like this ah. Say, regardless what it may be, I will definitely not break off our relationship.”
I deliberately said that to ease her anxiousness.
An Ning spoke timidly, “I’ll take your word for it. You won’t break off our relationship…”
“I won’t. I definitely won’t. Enough, just tell me what it is that you hid from me?”
Hearing my affirmation, she gulped before speaking frankly to me.
“My family is a group of exorcists.”
Hearing so, I was dumbfounded for a moment and did not react. Seeing my expression, An Ning suddenly became scared and quickly tried to explain. “I… I did not want to hide this from you deliberately, but because my family deals with ghosts, I was afraid that you would turn away from me once you knew about my family background.”
“The first time I brought you to my grandpa’s shop was in hopes that you would know a little more about my family so that when the day I confess to you comes, you won’t get angry.”
I recalled the scene in the antique dealer’s house. Grandpa An handed a name card and the large word I spotted on it was definitely the word “An”. But at that time, he said to contact the number on the card when in need of an exorcism so I had not thought any deeper than that.
Now that An Ning had said so, I could finally see a corresponding link between the scene then and An Ning’s words.
I heaved a sigh of relief and smiled at her. “I thought you were going to say something extreme. You should know that I’m married to Hades, so what of your family business?”
In order to make her believe me, I went on to explain. “Grandpa An who is an Eclisper and can see ghosts, had mentioned something about exorcisms when he was at the antique dealer’s house. From there, I had already thought of such a possibility.”
Also, if I do not recall wrongly, at the shroud shop, Grandpa An did say that you were unwilling to inherit the family business, right?”
An Ning nodded. Seeing that I was not angry, her worried face gently returned to normal.
“Your family exorcises ghosts, but do you know what my hometown does?” I stretched helplessly before telling her about what had happened on my eighteenth birthday.
Once she heard it, she was stunned and her mouth hung wide open, so wide that a full boiled egg could fit into it.
“To be more accurate, the thing in my belly can also be considered a demon. I was really thankful that Grandpa An did not harm it, but inside asked me to protect it…”
An Ning rubbed her hands together and hesitated for a moment before asking timidly, “Can I touch your belly?”
When I heard so, I laughed and nodded before exposing my belly to her.
“Sure. But you might not find any difference as my belly has not seemed to have gotten any bigger.”
An Ning placed her hand on my lower abdomen, her face showing a gentle smile. Suddenly, something seemed to have come over her and she clasped my hand. “I almost forgot to tell you. Let’s go for a trip to a summer resort next week. Some time back, I hit a jackpot and won tickets for two.”
I thought for awhile. The pervert was busy and would not be able to accompany me. Since the summer break was about to end, going out for a holiday seemed to be the only way to relax and kill time.
“Sure! I’ll discuss this with my parents tonight and let you know later.”
An Ning giggled, “Uncle and Auntie will surely agree!”
Before dinner, An Ning returned home. Not too long later, my parents were back from work.
Maybe they met each other on the way back home?
It was quiet at the dinner table.
Usually during dinner, the three of us would sit together and chat about the happenings in the day, but the mood today was different. I could not help but wonder why.
Soon after, I realized that my mother was urging my father to do something but his head was lowered and his eyes only on his bowl of rice. Her expression showed that she had restrained herself for quite some time and was unsure where to begin.
But I knew what they wanted to talk about.
“Your father and I went back to our hometown and had already spoken to the witch.”
My mother finally spoke. She nibbled her lips and hesitated for a moment. I sat quietly waiting for her to continue.
But I did not expect my father to continue after my mother. He spoke in a serious tone. “Xiao Hua, do you know what Zhen Guiling is?”
Zhen Guiling? What’s that?
Unsure, I looked at my father and shook my head. Still, I was a little overwhelmed over the subject.
Weren’t we talking about the witch just then, so what’s with this Zhen Guiling thing all of a sudden?
My father placed his chopsticks neatly on the rice bowl and continued, “the old witch told us that Zhen Guiling is a divine matter used to suppress the ghosts in the underworld. However, it broke apart from the underworld and came to the world of humans.”
“Remember where the village is situated? Hades speculated that Zhen Guiling exited through the gates and wandered into the village. But due to its nature, it sought out women in search of one with an abundance of Yin to become its host.”
Once I heard that, I immediately covered my ears with my hands. The edges of my mouth turned stiff and my throat felt a little dry. Taking a deep breath, I pointed at myself and asked, “So what you mean is that the Zhen Guiling is in me?”
My parents nodded reluctantly at the same time. Seeing that my face was worse than what someone would have after having eaten excrement, she hugged me worriedly and murmured, “It has been tough on you, Xiao Hua.”
I hesitated for a while, but pressured myself to ask the question that was now hovering within my heart. “Then that means the purpose of the marriage offerings to Hades was just to search for the host?”
The two were silent for a while, but sensing that my mentality was now in a disarray, my mother tried to appease me, “Xiao Hua, it’s not what you think. What marriage offerings? There’s no such thing as that. There are no ghosts in this world, no?”
The information was too large to digest in such a short amount of time. But from what I understood from all this was that the pervert looked after me because of that Zhen Guiling inside me and not because he liked me. That thought itself made me feel a little hurt.
My mind flashed with scenes of when he treated me gently, those moments when he stroked my hair and when he hugged me. Immediately, my heart flared and I couldn’t help but feel frustrated. I stood up all of a sudden, grabbed my keys and headed for the door.
“Xiao Hua! Where are you going?!”
Seeing the way I had acted, they stood up anxiously. I forced my emotions down before turning towards them and telling them calmly. “I’m going out for a stroll.”
I did not wait for an answer. Right after I told them I was going out, I left and closed the door behind me before walking down the flight of stairs.
The more I walked, the faster I went, and I ended up running in the end in the direction of the small residential area!
Not sure if I did so subconsciously, but I was guided all the way past the cafe and was now standing in front of the eight copper horse statues.
Yesterday, we stood here at this exact spot to send the old auntie to there place she was meant to be.
Today, I stood here pondering whether everything he did for me was actually meant for me.
The sound of thunder roared across the sky and the sky turned cloudy. The anger that was torturing me from within was extremely nerve-wrecking.
Looking up at the dark sky, the sky would soon begin to pour around this area not too long after.
Normally, I would be heading home, but at the moment, I did not feel like doing so. I had wanted to remain outside for a little while longer.
The roars of the thunder slowly crept closer and I could hear the sound of the raindrops hitting a surface. Propelled forward by the strong wind, the dark clouds approached me quickly from a distance. Before I could even find shelter under a shop canopy, I was already drenched from head to toe.
Still, covering the top of my head with my hands, I carefully ran under a shop canopy before using my sleeves to wipe the rainwater off my face.
Looking around at my surroundings, I suddenly came to a realization that I had actually run to a remote street. If this were the main street, there would definitely be cars and people around, but the place I was at had not had a single person around.
Although once in awhile, an old man riding a rickshaw could be seen passing by. The street lights at this time shone all at once and the surroundings were now brightened with a calm orange light.
I lifted my head, and my eyes were somehow attracted to a young lady dressed in white.
Through the rain curtain, I could discern her loose waist-long hair and her pale white face like the skin of the dead. She stood barefooted in front of a vacant store watching me quietly.
Her face did not have any expression.