Ostentatious Zhao Yao by Jiu Lu Fei Xiang
《招摇》 作者: 九鹭非香
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Deep into the night, the small forest at the foot of Chen Ji Mountain was completely quiet, I looked around and there was no one to be seen. I sat under a tree and left Zhi Yan’s body. I saw the gloomy ghost market but did not immediately go to the store that sold Energy Boosting Pills. Instead, I turned around and went deep into the forest.
In this forest, there was a tavern where ghosts who were prone to loneliness go. Many lonely souls and wild ghosts all visited here acting like living people. Inside, they engaged in ordering some food, drinking a few drops of wine, and finding a working ghost. They stayed and chatted, reminisced the past and looked forward to the future. Then afterward, they resumed to being a muddle-headed ghost.
This kind of place had the most information.
Before, I did not have any money, also did not feel lonely, and had nothing to chat about with these ordinary ghosts. So I preferred to willingly float around my own gravesite. But now I wanted to gather some information, therefore, this was another matter.
I arrived at the tavern’s doorway and took a quick glimpse around inside. I only saw three to four ghosts sitting scattered at a few tables. Some were quietly drinking wine and some were chattering away gossiping. The tavern’s waiter was much more enthusiastic than other stores. He came up to welcome me and smilingly asked: “Miss…”
“Lu Zhao Yao.” I announced my name and went directly inside. I was just so confident with my wealth!
Previously when I bought the Entering Dream Pill, my account had roughly ten thousand coins left. Now, after several days of burning paper money again, my account should have increased by a lot. Firstly, this tavern was not involved with or spanned across the buying and selling of yin and yang. Secondly, it was not a place that could change my buying and selling situations. It was just a place to take a break and eat a meal. If even I did not have enough money for a place like this, then it was really against heaven’s law.
Beyond my expectation, the waiter surprisingly did not look at the mirror in his hand but simply said to me: “Guest, where did those words come from, each and every person who comes to our place are guests. It doesn’t matter if you have more or less money, we will all entertain you. Moreover, when I saw you, Guest, I felt very close to you like the two of us are meant to cross paths. I only want to ask you, there are no more seats on the first floor, do you mind if you sit on the second floor?”
I narrowed my eyes feeling rather surprised. These words alone were nothing like the words that should be said by a ghost at a ghost market! To get through the entrances of these snobby ghost markets, they all wanted to see the value of the person first. Perhaps this tavern wanted to be the unbiased sector of this place?
I fully appreciated it.
The waiter was a cute young lad approximately the same height as me. He appeared to be only about sixteen to seventeen years old. However, being a ghost, it was impossible to tell the age through appearances alone. He only died at this age; therefore, I already did not know how many years he had passed away.
“Our tavern owner is a boss with feelings, unlike those other shops on the streets blinded by money.” As the waiter gave me an introduction, he led me to a seat near the window on the second floor. He smiled and said: “Guest, the view is good here.”
I looked outside; the dark forest was gloomy and scary with dried and broken wooden branches! The night wind blew carrying three parts of evil energy. Gazing a little farther, I could see the ghost market of departed spirits surrounded by a black haze and Zhi Yan’s body that was left under the tree. Right now, many little ghosts were going in and out of that body, having fun. But no one could enter and possess that body.
Whoa, suddenly I had a kind of urge to let Zhi Yan experience the scenery here for a little bit. It would be very fun to see her scared and bawling.
“Guest, what do you want to order?”
“Bring any jar of wine here. The main thing is to have someone to drink with.” I asked him, “In your place, who knows the most news?”
Then the waiter took the cleaning rag from his shoulder, wiped the stool, and sat down: “Guest, I have been waiting for a visitor like you for a very long time. At our business, other waiters can drink with someone and do some tricks, or accompany visitors to relieve boredom; that is their greatest skills. Other visitors are ghosts who have no other pursuits, so they don’t make inquiries about information, unlike you and me.” As he spoke, he expressively moved his eyebrows, and voluntarily reached his hand out to pat my arm but his hand passed directly through.
In response, the waiter was somewhat dumbfounded.
I did not care about his dumbfounded moment and simply asked: “Do you know of any information about Feng Zhou City?”
“I…” He returned to himself, “Know it! Our tavern is open at all ghost markets. Our information is all about intercommunication.”
I folded my arms: “Then do you know what is going on with the malicious spirits in Feng Zhou City?”
I had become a ghost these few years but I had never seen a malicious spirit before and even rarely heard of lonely souls or wild ghosts being mentioned. But seeing a malicious spirit was rare, if it was to appear, then it was sure to shock a group of ghosts. So it was impossible for their ghost business not to know.
“Feng Zhou City?”
The waiter contemplated for a moment: “I have never received any news about malicious spirits appearing.”
“Mhm, if a malicious spirit appears in the world, then there’s always an order sent down from above, forbidding people from entering a certain area to avoid being attacked, until the grievances of the malicious ghost are dispelled. Other news may be wrong but this information is not wrong.”
I stroked my chin in deep thought and recalled when I first saw Small Round Face. In the beginning, she was floating down from above the room’s beam; even though her appearance was a bit scary but at least her mind was still normal and she also did not attack me. Until later, when Sima Rong was mentioned, she thought that I wanted to harm him, so she dispersed a malicious aura from her body.
I deliberated for a moment and asked: “Little Cutie, let me ask you, is it possible that after becoming a ghost, ghosts can change based on their temperament and generate a malicious aura, thereby, transform into a malicious spirit?”
“Little… Little Cutie?” The waiter’s face immediately turned completely red, “Guest, you really are…”
[Yi, are you not here to drink with me? How can you not handle this level of teasing?]
I looked at him calmly, it made him feel shy and somewhat unreasonable, and so he suppressed his emotions: “Yes… Yes, that can be the case. Generally, when malicious spirits were alive, they had obsessive thoughts that made them become like that. When the world changes, the obsessive thoughts will dissipate and naturally, the aura of grievances will dissipate, too. However, it is also possible for obsessive thoughts to accumulate and deepen over time. It all depends on their own destiny.”
I nodded: “So, do you know of a female ghost living in a house that is full of wooden people in Feng Zhou City? She has a round face with almond-shaped eyes; she watches over a male with broken legs and attaches great importance to that male…”
“Ah, I know!” The waiter shouted, “Yue Zhu.”
I narrowed my eyes: “Can you tell me clearly what kind of ghost is she? While she was alive, what did she do?”
“The things she did when she was alive, we did not go investigate. However, we roughly know that when she was alive, she was a person of Nan Yue Sect who also lived in that residence. She died approximately four to five years ago. After her death, she only wanders around in that residence and especially expels other ghosts… Hearing you mention her, she actually has some tendencies to turn into a malicious spirit…”
A person of Nan Yue Sect who lived in that residence of Feng Zhou City.
Interesting, once I heard this, I absolutely knew that she was a spy sent by Nan Yue Sect!
In the past, Sima Rong’s information network was really widespread, it was impossible for him not to know her identity but in the end, he was still harmed by this person of Nan Yue Sect. Could it be that he developed feelings for Yue Zhu? To the extent that now, he still lived in the residence where Yue Zhu used to live.
He said because of his feelings, his information was wrong and now, he still had no way of letting go of that short-lived love. Therefore, was that why on that day he told me that in this lifetime he could never forgive himself?
But how did that Small Round Face die? Was she murdered by Mo Qing? If she was killed by Mo Qing, then how could Sima Rong’s relationship with him be so good now?
These things of the past, if I asked the waiter, he would definitely not know but I could not ask Sima Rong or Mo Qing either. It seems like it would be better to ask the person involved directly. I leaned back in my chair and inquired the waiter: “At present, that Yue Zhu is somewhat deranged, is there a drug in the ghost market that can treat this type of sickness?”
The waiter was silent for a moment, and then shook his head: “Probably not.”
Then it seems like, I would have to directly confront Small Round Face who had the ability to turn into a malicious spirit at any time.
I tapped the table and stood up: “All-right, what I wanted to know was these things. Today, you accompanied me very well, immediately go and take from my account one…” I swallowed the ‘ten thousand’ word back into my throat, silently reminded myself that I was no longer the previous Wan Lu Sect Leader, and then corrected my words, “One thousand coins.”
Little Cutie smiled happily: “Okay, you chatting with me made me very happy; come back and look for me.”
“Mhm, what is your name?”
“My name is Zi You.”
I shot him a glance; he observed the expression on my face and laughed. He scratched his head and said: “Miss, do not take offense, I just said my name and not my full name was not because I’m not frank with you, it’s just that I… Have truly forgotten my full name, I only remember my name, Zi You.”
I gazed at him: “You can forget this, too?”
He looked at me somewhat amazed: “Miss, you don’t know?” I was bewildered, so he explained to me, “We are ghosts, there’ll be one day when we’ll forget all the things we did when we were alive. When these things are all forgotten, it’ll be time for reincarnation.”
I was surprised: “What? To reincarnate, don’t we need to pass the Nai He Bridge? Don’t we need to drink Meng Grandmother’s soup? Where’s the King of Hell or the Judge of the Underworld? Don’t we need to go through the process?”
The waiter smiled, somewhat helpless: “What Meng Grandmother, there are so many ghosts, how many soups would she have to cook to be enough for everyone to forget the past. Everyone dies and wanders around the world; when they wander for a long time, they will naturally forget. Some people forget early and some people forget slowly. But eventually, everybody forgets.”
I was somewhat stumped.
“Currently, the memories of when I was alive, I have already forgotten about seven to eight parts of it. Only this name can be remembered clearly. The guests that come to our tavern, more than half are indulging in the past and are unwilling to forget. As a result, every day they find someone to listen to their pasts because they’re afraid that one day if they don’t talk about it, they’ll truly forget it all. But even then, many guests will talk and talk; but they don’t come back and are never seen again.”
“Where… Do they go?”
“They’ve forgotten everything, they can’t even remember themselves, so it doesn’t matter where they go.”
I followed the waiter downstairs. On the first floor, the three to four guests from before were still there. Some were still drowning their sorrows with wine and thinking deeply about the past. Some were still talking incessantly without getting to the point, no matter if they appeared somewhat crazy. From beginning to end, the person drinking alongside them would patiently listen, smile and nod in response.
But because I knew the reason behind it, I felt that this little amount of patience and smile also carried complete pity and sympathy.
“One more thing.” The waiter said, “In fact, in my opinion, Miss, the inquiries you made about that Yue Zhu, I’m afraid that she is also like this. She’s holding onto her past, afraid that she’ll forget it, so she struggles with too many obsessive thoughts. Eventually, she’ll go in the direction of a malicious spirit. Ay, when it comes to turning into a malicious spirit, for the most part, she can only remember those obsessive thoughts, while others will all be forgotten.”
I was silent and did not say anything.
When the waiter sent me off, I absent-mindedly wanted to float to the ghost market and buy an Energy Boosting Pill to bring back to Zhi Yan. But I suddenly thought about it, how would I bring the Energy Boosting Pill back to Zhi Yan? After I entered her body, I could not touch the things in the ghost market. Once I purchased the Energy Boosting Pill, I would not be able to pick it up either.
I could only stay here and wait until daybreak for Zhi Yan’s soul to come back. I would directly go buy the Energy Boosting Pill for her to consume, and then allow her to enter her body so we could walk back together.
But beyond my expectations, when I returned to Zhi Yan’s body, an unexpected person was crouching in front of her.
It was Mo Qing, he had found his way here.
I stood off to the side, watched Mo Qing wrinkled his brows and reached out his hand to check Zhi Yan’s pulse. I did not understand why I suddenly remembered the waiter’s most recent words. He said, “We are ghosts, there’ll be one day when we’ll forget all the things we did when we were alive. When these things are all forgotten, it’ll be time for reincarnation.”
So one day in the future, I would also forget everything that I had experienced. I would forget Wan Lu Sect on Chen Ji Mountain and forget the name that the whole world knew me by — Lu Zhao Yao. I would forget this Ugly Little Monster, when he gazed at me, starlight existed in his eyes…
Or was it that I had already forgotten… A very significant amount of things?
This thought was like tens of thousands of ants crawling through the small cracks in my spine and climbing up to my forehead that made my head completely numb.
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Enjoy your reading pleasure!
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