Under the dim orange glow, I could make out the man’s features.
Even though it was summer, he was wearing a long-sleeved white button up shirt, dark blue jeans, and Nike shoes. He was carrying a small package on his back, full of who knows what.
He had black hair and although his eyes weren’t big, they were deeply set. His nose was high and his lips were thin. He was frowning slightly, with his right eyebrow raised.
When he looked in my direction, his eyes were filled with surprise. Actually, I was paying more attention to what he was saying.
“I know you’re there,” he had said ‘you,’ as in singular.
Clearly, he had not expected me. When he saw Pervert’s arm around my waist, his eyes narrowed.
He let out a confused sound, and I could not resist correcting him: “One person and one spirit.”
The man laughed lightly: “Interesting, I have never thought that I would ever encounter such a situation.”
Pervert looked towards his package and said calmly, “You should not have come here.”
“You exceed the rumours about you, Hades.”
The man regarded Pervert carefully, but did not reply, instead greeting him with a smile. In his voice, a trace of respect and even a little joy could be seen.
He actually started a polite conversation with Pervert in this creepy place, making me feel awkward and out of place.
How had the man recognised Pervert? Other than for visiting me, Pervert usually stayed in the Underworld.
It was obvious that this young man had a complex background.
Pervert was shocked too, but he did not let it show in his expression or his voice, instead telling the man seriously: “Answer this king, what are you doing here?”
The man adjusted the package on his back, but made no answer, instead turning his gaze towards the crumbling walls. I couldn’t decide if he was brave or stupid.
“I didn’t expect someone would discover this place’s secret.”
His ambiguous statement made my heart jump. The old couple from before had already left a indelible impression on me, and I couldn’t help but resist asking: “Did something happen here? Do you know what happened?”
The man hesitated, raising my anticipation, before looking towards the heaps of grass and saying: “Haven’t you two already noticed?”
My heart skipped a beat, like a thief having been caught in the act, and for a moment, I could not meet his eyes.
Pervert had just said that someone had set an enchantment on the surrounding walls, with twelve paper talismans, meaning that within these walls was definitely something very bad.
Even without him saying anything, I knew that there was most likely an evil spirit in there.
We had come here because of Pervert’s ability and the strange old couple both signalling that the old site of the Yue Family was abnormal.
However, this man was different. He was a human being just like me, so what was he doing here?
If he was normal person, how did he know who Pervert was? Normal people couldn’t even see ghosts, let alone know about Hades.
Could it be….
Possibilities ran through my mind, before settling on the most plausible one.
The man was definitely an Eclipser!
“You’re an Eclipser?!”
After I asked, he finally looked at me again, the corners of his lips rising.
“You guessed right, I am. Since you asked me a question, I’ll ask you one too.” He paused and walked closer to me, eyes flashing strangely.
“You’re not an Eclipser, so why are you with Hades?”
Once Pervert saw that the human had ignored his commands, challenged his authority, and then was trying to dally with his wife, his eyes showed his anger as black smoke built up and surrounded his body, filled with death and fury.
“Please cease your anger, Hades.”
The man immediately waved his hand, backing away a few steps: “I have no bad intentions.”
He took in a deep breath and seemed to reach a compromise with himself: “Okay, okay, I’ll tell you, I’m here to strengthen the enchantment on the walls.”
Once he confessed, he realised he had not yet introduced himself, and added.
“Oh, and my name is Yang Yi, the Yang from Yang tree and Si Ma Yi’s Yi*.”
Strengthen the enchantment?
I thought of the little village’s old witch and Grandpa An. They were both Eclipsers but had different abilities.
In the little village, the old witch had a higher status than the village chief and was rumoured to be the keeper of the Gate to Hell as well as a medium. Grandfather An could see ghosts and exorcise the spirits in ancient artifacts.
That man called Yang Yi said he would strengthen enchantments, was this his ability?
“The aura here is very strange. This king does not allow people in the living world to perform rituals that displace the balance and order between the Yin and Yang.”
Yang Yi had known that there was no way to hide what had happened once he saw Hades, so he told us everything.
“The Yue Family has at least 200 years of history. They were a powerful family that secluded themselves here. They could provide for their own needs so seldom had contact with the outside world.”
As he explained, his back slowly became curved and I could see him getting shorter.
I listened quietly, knowing that the story was probably very long, and interrupting would be impolite. Even if I had any questions, I had to wait until the story finished to ask them.
But then where was this foreboding feeling coming from?
I looked at the dilapidated walls, looking as if a gust of wind could blow them down. It was like I could see right through them and into the mansion.
A huge ball of black energy moved turbulently, like a mass of sludge. Within the roiling mass, a pair of blood red eyes opened. My breathing quickened as sweat drenched my back.
What I had seen just then… what was it? It did not feel like a hallucination, it was carved deep into my mind.
Pervert noticed my actions and bent down, asking worriedly, “What’s wrong? Are you feeling uncomfortable?”
Yang Yi had already completely sunken into his own world, still telling us the history of the Yue Family.
“This family, from its beginning to its destruction, was always a family of faith. They always believed that this world had gods and that all people had spirits.”
I pressed my hand against my chest and listened to him speak, his eyes filled with a light that I could not understand. Because of the surrounding darkness, I assumed that I was unable to see.
However, though his voice was calm and apathetic, like someone narrating a fictional story, I could hear the hidden emotions in his words.
They were very complicated, so complicated that I could not hope to understand what exactly he was feeling or thinking.
Pervert stood silently next to me. He held me tightly, waiting for Yang Yi to finish with his story, His strength made me feel safe.
The wall separated the world inside the mansion and the world outside. If I said I wasn’t scared thinking about what could be inside, I would be lying.
But with Pervert beside me, I felt reassured.
For a moment, I felt that even if the sky fell, Pervert would be there to hold it up for me.
As Yang Yi spoke, his voice became more and more serious: “When the Yue Family’s eighth head of the family came to power, the entire family changed. Under his rule, the original faith was twisted.”
His voice started to shake, and I could even see him shuddering, like a volcano about to erupt after years of waiting.
“What happened then?”
I asked. I didn’t want to provoke him, but if it was something serious or horrible, letting it out would be better for his mental health than bottling it in.
From his emotional state, I could tell that the eighth head of the Yue family must have caused huge changes.
“That bastard… he’s worse than an animal, he is a monster…”
Yang Yi’s voice started and stopped, before filling with insults. “He ruined or killed all those who followed the correct faith, and only left alive those in the family who followed his every command.”
He smiled, but the pain and despair in his smile made it look worse than if he was crying.
“Actually, even before he came to power, the Yue family had already split into two factions, one that worshipped gods and one that worshipped dead spirits.”
Pervert’s hand on my shoulder tightened and he said: “The faction that worshipped dead spirits killed the other faction.”
Yang Yi nodded, looking towards the mansion, then laughed derisively: “Ridiculous, those bastards. They thought that if someone sinned, all they had to do for forgiveness was die. The only way to save their souls was to die. So, the eighth head of family placed all sorts of crimes onto the kind, good members of the family, and then ordered their deaths.”
He took in a deep breath, like he did not want to continue, but forced himself to do so: “All the following heads of family followed the eighth head’s footsteps and faith, each worse than the one before. Insane, obsessed.”
He laughed coldly. He sounded like he was about to cry: “To the very end, they brought about their own demise.”
His last statement was interesting. I recalled what Pervert had said about the aura inside coming from a certain kind of ritual that establishes a connection between the Underworld and the living world.
The Yue Family’s destruction was most likely due to that ritual.
Except, the situation they left behind had to be resolved by others.
As for what kind of disaster the ritual caused, if it caused such a large and powerful family to disappear, I did not even want to guess the full extent of the damage.
Pervert had already said this place was not suitable for the living. That meant that whatever was within the walls was terrible.
I was surprised at this man called Yang Yi. How did he know so much about the Yue Family’s history and their secrets? I couldn’t stop myself from asking: “How do you know all this?”
Yang Yi turned and looked at me. His face stiffened, before he sighed: “Because, I am one of the surviving descendants of the Yue Family.”