We entered the dark forest. Just as I thought we had reached the inner part, my legs began to feel like jelly, and I was out of breath. Zen Master Baimei eventually stopped and looked around. He licked his finger then raised it, quietly sensing his surroundings.
I was curious. “What are you doing?”
Zen Master Baimei replied, “I want to check if there are some Soul Luring Worms here. The place where the Soul Luring Worms gather often has thick Yin energy.”
After a while, he said, “Good. It’s here.” Then, he pointed at a corner. “Throw the lard there.”
I threw the fat, greasy chunk of meat over the spot he had pointed at. Then, Zen Master Baimei began to walk according to a special pattern. Using his feet, he drew many patterns on the ground. It seemed he was arranging a magic formation.
After everything was prepared, he casually tore a piece of fabric from his kasaya and shoved it into the meat. He then brought me behind a tree to hide.
Shortly after, the smell of fat from the greasy pork attracted a lot of mosquitoes and flies. As they flew, they buzzed loudly; the noises gave me a headache.
After a short moment, many flies covered the entire chunk of pork. We couldn’t see the meat anymore, only green flies.
Zen Master Baimei said, “I’m sure there is a corpse around here. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many green flies. Since Soul Luring Worms also feast on corpses, there must be one around.”
I nodded as I expectantly watched the thick chunk of lard. The Soul Luring Worms were Li Mazi’s only hope. If we couldn’t find the worms, Li Mazi would be in grave danger.
While I was in deep thought, the green flies that had gathered on the meat dispersed. It was as if they had sensed something very scary.
At the same time, the temperature dropped sharply. I felt goosebumps rising on my skin, but I didn’t look away from the thick lard.
Zen Master Baimei warned me, “The Soul Luring Worms are about to come. When they come, do not act rashly and do not alert them. Otherwise, it will be very hard to capture them later.”
I nodded and said, “All right.”
From a distance, we heard a rustling sound. Although it was barely audible in the loud wind, I could still hear it.
I tracked down the source of the noise and saw a pair of round and bright eyes looking around stealthily. Although the surroundings were quiet with no commotions, the creature didn’t dare to approach.
I was worried. “What if this Soul Luring Worm doesn’t take the bait? What should we do then?”
Zen Master Baimei smiled. “Don’t worry. I’ve set up a formation to attract it.”
Sure enough, the creature hesitated for a while but eventually couldn’t resist the temptation of the lard. It gingerly walked in.
When it got closer, I discovered that it wasn’t a worm but a weird-looking rat. The rat’s body was double the size of a normal rat, it had a round belly, and strange light flashed in its two small, round eyes. It looked really creepy.
The rat approached the meat and started to wolf it down after confirming that there was no danger.
Although the delicacy was right in front of it, the rat was extremely cautious. It kept an eye on its surroundings.
I was so anxious that my palms started to sweat. I asked Zen Master Baimei, “Should we charge over there to catch it? If I had known earlier, I would have laced the meat with some drug.”
Zen Master Baimei said with a smile, “It has already fallen into the trap.”
Then, he began to mutter something as his hands made strange seals. As I was still thinking about what he was doing, I saw the strip of kasaya he had shoved into the meat stretch and wrap around the rat.
The rat was frightened. It jumped and tried to escape.
However, the kasaya was like a bear trap. No matter how much the rat struggled, it couldn't get away. It had been completely subdued.
Zen Master Baimei calmly walked toward it. I, on the other hand, couldn’t keep my calm and rushed forward, pressing the rat under my body.
The rat turned its head to bite me, so I slapped it in a fit of rage. Although stunned, the rat opened its mouth wider and kept trying to bite me.
Zen Master Baimei stepped on its head, took out a shining dagger, and pressed it on the rat’s tummy.
I immediately restrained its four legs. However, Zen Master Baimei seemed reluctant to take action.
I urged him to seize the time and kill it. “Li Mazi can’t wait any longer.”
Zen Master Baimei reluctantly dropped his dagger. “Merciful Buddha, all lives in this world are equal. I can’t do it.”
“I’ll do it. Just leave this sinful action to me,” I said.
“Even if I don’t kill it directly, it would have died because of me. I’ll feel guilty, regardless.”
“This will have nothing to do with you.” I snatched the dagger from him and fiercely stabbed the rat’s belly; blood splashed out. It turned out that the rat had dark red blood. If I didn’t have the flashlight, I would have thought that its blood was black.
“Is it dead?” Zen Master Baimei asked.
“Yeah, it’s dead,” I confirmed.
Zen Master Baimei no longer hesitated. He reached out to find something in the rat’s belly. “Merciful Buddha, saving a life creates more merit than building a seven-floor pagoda. I believe this rat will be happy when it knows that in the afterlife.”
Soon after, he took out the rat’s stomach. The stomach was moving as if it had something inside. It looked like these things were struggling to escape.
Zen Master Baimei checked the stomach and said, “The Soul Luring Worms are inside this stomach. Feed these to Li Mazi.”
I nodded and carefully held the stomach in my hand.
However, when I turned around to look at Li Mazi, I was stunned.
Li Mazi was nowhere to be seen. The spot where I had laid Li Mazi was empty. Li Mazi was gone.
I got a headache. I immediately ran around and called Li Mazi’s name.
Zen Master Baimei was appeasing the rat’s soul when he heard me scream Li Mazi’s name. He knew something had happened. He stopped what he was doing and ran toward me.
“Hurry, find him!” Zen Master Baimei was also flustered. “Don’t let him run around. I can’t believe that the spirit living in the Night Dragon Bait has adapted to Li Mazi’s body that fast. She has controlled Li Mazi’s body to run away!”
I worriedly looked around. However, the forest was really big and dark. If he wanted to hide, it wouldn’t be easy to find him.
I searched around, but it was in vain.
Zen Master Baimei wore a reluctant face. It seemed he didn’t have any solution.
I was desperate and wanted to cry. Li Mazi was my only close friend. Although this fellow had many flaws, he had been my companion for a long time. What would I do if he was gone?
Just as I was feeling desperate, my phone rang. I immediately took it out. It was Ru Xue.
“Where are you? I came by and saw that your shop is empty.”
I was immediately worried. “Ru Xue, you should go home. My shop isn’t safe right now. Remember, do not talk to strangers, especially women. You got it?”
I was worried that the Nukekubi was still wandering around my antique shop.
Ru Xue asked in puzzlement, “What happened? Why shouldn’t I talk to women? There’s a woman standing next to me. She said that she was looking for you.”
“What?” My mind shook. “Do you see a red rope around her neck? Is she holding an umbrella?”
Ru Xue replied, “Yes.”
My legs felt like jelly now. I almost slumped on the ground. “Ru Xue, listen to me. Leave the antique shop right now! You can run to the police station for help. Ask the police to arrest that woman.”
The other end of the line went dead silent.
“Ru Xue? Ru Xue?” I called anxiously.
A cold voice came from the other line. “If you don’t want her to die, do not disturb my Master. Otherwise, you’ll regret it.”
Then, the woman hung up.
Right before the call hung up, I heard Ru Xue scream for help.
I called Zen Master Baimei, “Zen Master, the Nukekubi got my friend!”
Zen Master Baimei frowned. “Your friend? Did she request anything in exchange?”
“She asked us not to disturb her Master,” I said.
Zen Master Baimei’s complexion changed. “Things are more troublesome than expected this time.”
A calm man like Zen Master Baimei had become flustered. It seemed the situation was really serious, and I was starting to lose hope.
“Zen Master Baimei, we should part here. You should go find Li Mazi. I’m going to deal with the Nukekubi. We can’t let her get what she wants.”
Zen Master Baimei shook his head and said, “I’m afraid it’s too late. You can’t find her. Also, even if I can find Li Mazi, it will be no use. If we help Li Mazi, the Nukekubi will know it, and she’ll kill your friend.”
I began to sweat. That damn Nukekubi wanted to push me into despair. She wanted me to choose between Li Mazi and Ru Xue… I had a strong bond with Li Mazi, but I was merely a friend to Ru Xue.
But Zen Master Baimei was right. All lives mattered. I didn’t have the right to determine someone’s life or death...
While we were at the end of our ropes, I heard an angry voice thunder, “Which bastard killed my Soul Luring Rat? You freaking bastard, show yourself!”
Eh? I felt bewildered after I heard the voice. Isn’t this Senior Shu’s voice? How come Senior Shu is here?
I was startled and looked back at the spot where I had killed the Soul Luring Rat.Previous Chapter Next Chapter