Chapter 387: Hand-Clapping-Ghost by the Door

After receiving the clock, Senior Shu took out a magnifying glass and observed the item thoroughly. He then shook his head and said in a regretful voice, “This is a foreign chiming clock from the Jiaqing period of the Qing dynasty. At that time, locust tree wood was very popular. This clock was made exquisitely with excellent craftsmanship, and it’s a rare treasure due to its old age. Unfortunately…” He held his magnifying glass above the character ‘一’ carved at the top of the clock. “This carved character is too obvious. Such an excellent treasure was damaged because of this.”

He put the clock on his bed. Then, with a strange expression, he said, “Kid, I’ve been working in this business for my whole life, but I have never accepted the clock category of otherworldly items. Do you know why?”

“Why is that?” I asked. 

“They’re tricky and very difficult to solve, definitely not worth the effort. If you get it done, everyone will be happy. If you fail, in a less severe situation, you will lose your reputation. But in the worst case, you will lose your life.” Senior Shu stood up and patted my shoulder. “I know you’re young and fear nothing, but you shouldn’t go around to seek death like this. You’re not mature enough to do those things. Luckily, you’re not my grandson. Otherwise, I’d have to hit you thrice every day!”

I could only laugh. 

“You mentioned that you found that time was reversed. It should be because of the Yin and Yang Umbrella in your house. This clock can trap you in the same day forever, but your Yin and Yang Umbrella can break the Yin and Yang circle, which can somewhat counter the clock. I suddenly remembered that for this umbrella, back then, your grandfather and I…” When Senior Shu reached this part, he suddenly stopped and shook his head.

With a forced smile, he said, “I’m really a fool. Why do I keep thinking about the past?” 

“You mean that everything that has happened was a warning given to me by the Yin and Yang Umbrella?” I was a little skeptical. 

“You can see it that way, but there’s still a possibility that the clock’s too powerful. To protect you, the Yin and Yang Umbrella reversed time and brought you back.” Senior Shu sighed. “This clock is made of locust tree wood. Jiulin, let me ask you this, do you know the character for ‘locust tree’?”

It was rare for Senior Shu to call me by my first name, Jiulin. He was really unpredictable, though. Sometimes, he was funny, and at other times, he was a scumbag that you didn’t want to deal with for the rest of your life. Thus, I both admired him and feared him. 

At this moment, I felt somewhat awkward as he had called me by my first name. 

Senior Shu pitched his voice. “Speak! Are you mute or what?” 

I pondered. “Hmm, the character for locust tree (槐) consists of the character for wood (木) and… and…” 

Senior Shu gazed at me with his shifty eyes. “And?” 

“And the character for ghost (鬼).” 

“Exactly.” Senior Shu nodded. His voice grew more excited. “From ancient times until now, locust tree wood is considered a type of material that can bring bad luck as its name has the character for ghost in it. Ordinary people are afraid of this kind of wood because it often grows in graveyards. There’s a proverb that says, ‘Do not plant mulberry in the front of the house, do not plant willow behind the house, and do not plant the hand-clapping-ghost by the door.’ In this saying, the hand-clapping-ghost is the locust tree.”  

I learned something new and gave a nod.  

Senior Shu continued, “Foreigners didn’t understand our Chinese culture and thought that the locust tree was good wood material, so they used it to make wooden clocks. In the Qing dynasty, our folks thought that everything made by foreigners was precious. It cost more than one thousand gold coins to buy something from those foreign traders. If any family had something like this, they felt their backs were much straighter when they went out on the streets. No one cared what the item was made of.”

When he came to this part, he knocked on the clock. “The locust tree is always favored by evil spirits and ghosts. Moreover, it’s a clock, which also brings bad fortune. Jiulin, you’re dealing with a complicated case this time! I advise you to leave this case alone. Do not step into this murky puddle…”

Although Senior Shu was somewhat despicable, I knew he would be honest with me. That was why I had come to his door for advice.

After listening to him, I smiled then received the clock from his hand. “Senior Shu, you know me. I don’t have many good points, but I’m very stubborn. I’ve accepted this case, so even if it’s the Great Wall, I’m going to prick a hole into it! This case has aroused my interest. After listening to you, I’m even more determined to solve this otherworldly item.”

Senior Shu angrily grabbed his cell phone and wielded it up as if he was about to hit me. However, in the end, he let out a reluctant sigh. “You rascal. Being stubborn is now a good point? You’re still young, and you don’t know how high the sky is. If you keep working this way, you will regret it soon.”  

“Relax. If I can’t solve it, I still have you as my backup, right Senior Shu?” I tried to flatter him. 

But it didn’t work. Senior Shu didn’t look happy at all. Instead, he looked slightly sad as he said, “I’m just an old man who has a foot in the grave already. I can help you out this time, but what about the next time? And the time after that?” 

His voice was full of helplessness and worry.

I smiled at him. “Don’t worry. Please help this time. We shall see for the next time."

Senior Shu got up and walked to the room in the back. 

Does he have something to subdue this clock? I’m sure Senior Shu has many good treasures!

I quickly caught up to him and followed him.

Senior Shu went to his study room and sat in front of his computer. The light from his screen shone over his face, which made him look quite scary.  

“Senior Shu…” I called him, but Senior Shu didn’t look at me and gently moved his mouse. 

Is there some document related to this item on the Internet? 

I craned my neck to see. Senior Shu had logged into the Tencent game platform and started a fierce mahjong battle. 

“Senior, please! Someone’s life is at stake, and you still have the mood to play mahjong?” I cried out in disappointment.

Senior Shu didn’t move. “It has nothing to do with me. Why should I pay attention? Ouch, this thing matched me with someone at the blue-diamond level.”

“Senior Shu, can you give me some face, please?” I implored. 

Senior Shu didn’t bat an eye. “Give you face? Do I even know you? Who are you?”

I took a deep breath. “You really don’t want to help me?” 

“Do you think you can win like that? What a blind idiot!”

I gritted my teeth and bent to pull out the power plug of his computer. The screen turned black immediately.

“What’s going on?” Senior Shu was startled. When he found out that it was me, I felt his fist coming at me. Although I was prepared for it, he still managed to hit my chest. I felt a twinge that made me scream.

“You stinky kid, I had almost won!” Senior Shu moved quickly then pulled and twisted my ear. “No one from your Zhang family is good. Your old dog grandfather discreetly performed some tricks when he couldn’t deal with his opponent. You, kiddo, are the same as your grandfather. You all have black hearts.” 

His grip was fast, precise, and merciless. My ear felt so hot and painful that I had to beg him for mercy. “Senior, my bad. I was wrong. You’re a big person, please forgive me. I’ll tell you a method that will make you win all the games. You’ll become the lord of the games!” 

Senior Shu was moved. “Really? Is there such a method?” 

“Yes, I’m not tricking you!” 

“What method is that? Tell me.” Senior Shu released my ear. 

“You must tell me how to subdue this clock first,” I said as I tried to bargain. 

Senior Shu frowned. “You stinky kid. Are you trying to deceive me?”

Then, he extended his hand toward me again. 

I hurried to a far corner. “I’m not deceiving you. I will register an account and enter the same mahjong room as you. I will then show you my tiles and play whichever tile you need. You will win all the games this way and level up fast.”

Senior Shu’s eyes twinkled. “How come I never thought of that?” 

He thought for a while and then added, “Make your friend Zhang Mazi or Wang Mazi come too. Register an account for him. The three of us will play together!” 

At this moment, I had to agree with every condition of his. I nodded repeatedly. “All right, we will listen to you.” 

Senior Shu was satisfied with my respectful attitude. He sighed. “Kid, you’re no longer a rookie. You’ve accepted many cases these past years, and you’ve seen a lot of otherworldly items. Why are you still so insecure? Although this otherworldly item is powerful, it still has a weakness. As long as it has a weakness, you can subdue it. This clock is made of locust tree wood, and it must have absorbed a large amount of resentful energy. You need to solve its resentful energy to subdue it. You need to investigate the clock and learn its origin. Do not miss any trace or detail. Then, you will naturally find a way to solve it.”

“Is it that simple?” I sounded skeptical. 

Did he just give me a casual answer to get rid of me...?

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