“What?” Shen Wei Said Lightly. “I Can’t Kill?”
Zhu Hong pointed a quivering finger at the Ghost Slayer. “H-he-he is…”
“Shen Wei.” Da Qing licked his paw, an odd sense of superiority overcoming him as he waited patiently for the girl beside him to regain her view of the world.
Shen Wei’s hood had fallen onto his shoulders, revealing Professor Shen’s gentle and elegant features, that was somehow violating this peculiar situation. After this, he gently shrugged off Zhao Yunlan, holding the hand that had been scratched by the ghost, his eyebrows scrunched. Shen Wei’s fingers that were on Zhao Yunlan’s wrist tightened, before he moved the other hand to make a clawing gesture. A slim black line appeared on his wound, before dissipating in the air. The bloody wound healed rapidly afterwards.
“Leave this place.” Shen Wei was possibly being curt.
It was then a stream of ghosts scurried by, a judge puffing, yet hot on their heels. Those ten kings were really something, even now they would throw their weight around. The one doing all the hard work eventually fell on the old judge’s shoulders.
Panting, the judge ordered the ghosts to patch the door and suppress the ghosts. There was a secretary standing at the side, nervously wiping his own sweat as he checked how many ghosts were left standing after the swing of the Ghost Slayer’s blade.
Shen Wei and Zhao Yunlan didn’t care about them, and walked away together. Zhu Hong and Da Qing scrambled to their feet, chasing after them. The judge was wiping his sweat as he frantically called out, “Your honour! Sir!”
Shen Wei didn’t respond, and only arched his brow as he looked back, his face expressionless.
“This… this Ghost City… no matter whether they have sinned, or if they are waiting for reincarnation… they are all counted! Your honour… you… this…”
“What?” Shen Wei asked lightly. “I can’t kill?”
The judge was quiet.
Shen Wei tilted his head, putting his hands into his black pockets. He spoke with a tone that bordered on humble. “My prestiged judge, though I was born in the slums, and not talented in any form, I have truly never heard of anything my Ghost Slayer blade cannot kill or cut through. If this is harassment or trouble in any form, I am sorry.”
… It was like he was sincerely apologising.
When the judge saw his smile, he felt like his whole body was filled with ice. The judge wiped at his lips and hastily said, “Yes, yes, of course…”
Shen Wei looked at the judge with a hint of a smile, before dragging off Zhao Yunlan.
Zhao Yunlan stopped in his tracks, feeling like Shen Wei’s smile was like a stranger’s. Maybe it was because Zhao Yunlan never saw him force others. He turned back to look at the judge who was wiping cold sweat from his forehead, asking, “The two-faced creature that blocked me was a premeditated event. Hell? What benefits would they gain?”
The smile slid off Shen Wei’s face, and he lowered his head, frowning in thought. Why? These ghosts were only trying to give one a taste of what an evil ghost was like, reminding one that there were worse ghosts out there.
“Shen Wei!” Zhao Yunlan nudged him. “Stop acting mute, I asked you to come home with me, so talk to me!”
“…Leave,” Shen Wei only spoke quietly when they reached the yellow spring. His voice lost that cold and disinterested tone when they had spoken to the guard, and it was low and tired. “When the living stay in the yin realm for too long, it isn’t good for their health. If you continue dragging on your stay, you’ll fall sick.”
Zhao Yunlan let go of him, stopping in his tracks.
After a while of mutual silence, Zhao Yunlan said hoarsely, “I won’t die of sickness. Come back with me first.”
Shen Wei didn’t even move an inch.
Zhao Yunlan clenched his teeth. “Fucking hell, I really do need to handcuff you to the house.”
The Shen Wei behind him, where Zhao Yunlan couldn’t see, suddenly laughed. It was as if he had heard the sweetest sonnet on Earth, and even the gloom in the air seemed to lighten to the point of blooming flowers.
“If I do come, will you be willing to eat your medicine?” Shen Wei asked.
Shen Wei paused, turned, and looked at Zhao Yunlan for a while. He sighed under his breath. “I am a ghost, Kun Lun. No matter what Kun Lun gave me, no matter what Kunlun changed me into… those are all myths. My bloodline will always be a ghost. Ghosts are unlucky. When there were first villagers, there were even rumours that if anyone saw ghosts, they would not have a gentle nor happy ending; death with no evidence of burial.”
Zhao Yunlan looked at him, trying his hardest to stop the anxiety burning his. He took a deep breath, and finally formed words. “I don’t believe that. I don’t care, come back with me first. We can solve other problems. Even if we can’t be together, at least let me see you, then I can stop worrying.”
“Where you can see me.” Shen Wei repeated quietly, the corners of his lips twitching gently. Yet, it failed, and became a bitter smile. After a while, he said softly, “Yunlan, please stop torturing me.”
“Till now,” Zhao Yunlan heard Shen Wei say. “my biggest regret is that I intentionally provoked you, and then failed to control what happened. Now that I think of it, maybe it was because my cultivation wasn’t high enough, I wasn’t determined enough, and that my heart was too soft that this was the result.”
Zhao Yunlan seemed to realise something, and lunged; yet his outstretched hand came into contact with air. Shen Wei, while facing him, had leapt backwards quickly, his body almost becoming a black streak.
Zhao Yunlan had watched him disappearing with his own two eyes, leaving only a voice that seemed to stretch further and further away. “I can only accompany you till here. Leave quickly.”
“Leave.” That one word reverberated in the air like a curse.
Zhu Hong saw that in that moment, there were tears in Zhao Yunlan’s eyes. He had only blinked furiously, leaving bloody veins in his eyes.
“You head back first.” Zhao Yunlan stared in the direction of Shen Wei, using a calm tone to talk to Zhu Hong. “Bring Da Qing along–By the way, there’s specific times to leave, right? If so, tell Wang Zheng to help me arrange…”
Zhu Hong interrupted him. “Detective Zhao, what is this?”
Zhao Yunlan waved a hand, not wanting to say more. “Nothing, just go.”
“Go where? I’m not going anywhere!” Zhu Hong’s voice became loud. “He… Shen… Ghost Slayer… gah! If you love each other, you love each other, don’t act in this manner to each other! Why did you say you can’t be together? What medicine did he force you to take?”
Da Qing leaped onto Zhu Hong’s leg, staying there, lifting his head to look at Zhao Yunlan. Suddenly, he said, “There has always been the idiom of ‘Men and ghosts walk different paths’, but this old cat, in all my years, have truly never seen real yin and yang opposites, yet who won’t leave each other. There have only been rumours that if they are together, the dead person would suck the energy out of the living; probably the rules of nature. Their energy is easy to lose, but it is not easy to return. It is necessary for the other party to voluntarily contribute a part of their body that is godly. The ghost king is born to be able to compare the saints, and probably there is no such thing as the transform-into-a-demon elixir. So it would probably be… blood from the heart?”
Zhu Hong sucked in a breath audibly when Da Qing finished, he was still expressionless and unmoving, the light from the yellow spring washing over his face.
Zhu Hong didn’t know what to say, but a human’s heart was biased, and her heart had Zhao Yunlan in it. She cared for the happiness and sadness of him, pulling it along with her like a rope. The more she thought of it, the tougher it felt for her to breathe, until she finally could not bear the sadness, and yelled, “He’s trapping you in evil!”
Zhao Yunlan’s eyes finally looked at her. His eyebrows furrowed slightly. “What did you say?”
“I said, he’s trapping you in evil!” Zhu Hong seethed. “If he didn’t hint at you from the start, would you chase after him for no good reason? If he didn’t keep pushing, would your dad still be called Li Gang? Would you rob boys? The Ghost Slayer is so magical, If you didn’t want something, could you force him to follow suit?”
Da Qing slid down from her leg. Did this woman forget she was speaking about the Ghost Slayer?
Zhu Hong got angrier the more she spoke. “He’s obviously leading you on! If you two couldn’t be together, he should have told you from the start, forcing you to, forcing you to…”
Zhao Yunlan took out the last cigarette in his bag, puffing out a ring of white smoke. “Forcing me to what?”
Zhu Hong had momentarily been cold, and now she said, “Forcing you to be unable to leave him, forcing you not to leave him even when you fall into the yellow spring from a cliff, forcing you to only have him in your eyes, and everyone else to be left behind! I think he’s always had motives in his heart!”
Zhao Yunlan laughed softly, patting her shoulders and directing her toward the tree. “Alright, now that you’re done nagging, go.”
Zhu Hong stomped her foot on the ground. “Were you even listening to me?”
Zhao Yunlan took a smile and hung his eyes and shot the ashes: “You silly girl, this emotional business really makes one anxious, too much to talk, do you know what is sparse? He is mine, there is a problem between us, whether it is he is wrong or I am wrong, it is our own business. An outsider giving me their opinions, it is no different from hitting my face–this is me, too lazy to acknowledge you. Now stop spouting nonsense, leave quickly, go back and have a good night’s sleep. You’ve worked hard these past two days, just treat this as your work over your leave.”
Zhu Hong said, irritation flitting across her expression, “I’m an outsider?”
“Of course,” Zhao Yunlan side-eyed her. “Anyone outside the two of us is an outsider.”
Zhu Hong yelled, “You bastard!”
Zhao Yunlan spread out his hands. “Where am I bastardly?”
Zhu Hong finally forced out that cliche sentence. “In your eyes, where do I not compare to him?”
Da Qing, who had his hands over his face this whole time, came to the horrifying conclusion that he actually liked these generic love triangles.
Zhao Yunlan could only sigh. “You’re gentle, kind, and beautiful, and a girl. You’re better than him in every way.”
“Then why can’t I?”
Zhao Yunlan thought for a while, after a while, revealing two small dimples, bowed his head and smiled softly. “Probably because my eyesight is shitty–in fact, you won’t be much better, you see. As a smoker in a new era, I am a poor man with a bad temper and a bad temper. I can only pretend to be gentle and caring for less than three days. A failure to my family, even my mother can’t stand it, kicking me out of the house when I was young. You’re a big beauty, what can’t you understand?”
Zhu Hong had tears in her eyes. “Stop pretending to be good!”
“Really, you don’t know,” Zhao Yunlan slowly enjoyed the last cigarette in his hand. “In fact, you don’t know: I don’t even bother to wash my socks. I buy seven or eight pairs. After I’m done, I pick them up and and arrange them according to the horridness of the smell. Then I randomly stuff them into laundry bags. Slowly, they all disappear. It was only after Shen Wei moved in that I could wear a complete pair of socks.”
As he spoke, a smile tugged at his lips, painting an image of tenderness. “Sometimes I don’t understand how he can stand me. You also probably can’t come up with scenes where he’s nice to me. Go back to your clan, and whenever you want to return, I’ll welcome you with open arms. My only condition is that we speak of anything except this, yeah? People better than me walk the streets everyday, surely you can find someone better than me.”
Zhao Yunlan crushed the cigarette under his foot, standing up tall. He ruffled Zhu Hong’s hair with some force. “I’m a useless piece of crap, why would you want to be with me. Come, goddess, I’ll give you a way to relieve your anger another day, to call me a jerk. Just say you look down on me, that you don’t want me, okay?”
Zhu Hong’s tears finally couldn’t be held in, and flowed down her cheeks in a rush. She choked out, “Hmph, asshole. Only a ghost would look up to you, only a ghost would want you.”
Zhao Yunlan pondered for a moment and realised her words had a meaning; like blessing him and Shen Wei. He thus laughed. “You’re right, only a ghost would.”
After he finished, he walked onto a bridge, flipping nimbly off it into a boat, scaring the ghost inside. He patted its shoulder. “Hey, brother, can you tell me how to get to the sealed land of disrespect?”
The ghost was pale and trembling. It didn’t speak a word, and instead leaped off the boat into the water, not even making a splash.
Zhao Yunlan realised only one of his sentences had caused a ghost to dive into water. He rubbed his nose, sitting on the wavering boat to ponder.
Zhao Yunlan watched the calm waves beneath the boat, and decided to put Shen Wei’s coat on the boat.
A curious ghost popped out from under the water, attempting to touch it. Zhao Yunlan didn’t even turn his head. “You dare to touch the Ghost Slayer’s clothes?”
The ghost seemed to be terrified, disappearing under the waters again.
Zhao Yunlan rolled up his pants and shirts, diving into the water himself, to the shout of a faraway woman and cat, at the same time scaring away a bunch of ghosts underwater.
It was so cold, like someone dipped the whole place into a freezer. Zhao Yunlan’s watch flickered gently. He planned to use all his energy to swim, before going up for breaths. Unexpectedly, the necklace around his neck glowed, and he found himself able to breathe underwater.
“This is a bit too much, isn’t it?” Zhao Yunlan held the mythical water dragon pearl in his hands, a thankful sigh escaping his lips. He gathered his courage and dived deeper.
After a while, the faint glow from the boat disappeared, and above him was nothing but black, mirroring the waters blow him.
The ghosts around him gradually disappeared, and it seemed even the water stopped moving.
With no light, no sound, no nothing, Zhao Yunlan found his heart to be extremely loud, to the point where even as he covered his ears, he could still hear it, like the beat of drums.
After a while, even the glow from his watch disappeared. His surroundings were nothing but a wash of ebony. After being immersed in the darkness for a while, Zhao Yunlan had a thought: it felt like his surroundings were not without light, but that he had gone blind once more.