Arakshasa remained silent for some time. She was presumably adjusting her emotions and organising her thoughts. After a long pause, the soul sphere shifted slightly once more. Yet, before she could speak her mind, Qin Ye immediately quipped as he continued to massage his temples, “Arakshasa is far too much of a tongue-twister. For convenience sake, I’ll henceforth call you Arti, alright? Your full name shall be Arthis Minithel. It’s catchy, clear and easy to remember. And it’s even got international influences. What do you think?”
I’ll be damned… Thoughts of perishing together with Qin Ye began to surface in Arakshasa’s heart. This obviously isn’t even an Asian name. And, I get the feeling it’s a man’s name? Are you serious?
“... as you wish…” She unwillingly acceded. Then, drawing a deep breath, she continued, “The main reason why this spirit is important has very much to do with you.”
“A person who has consumed the fungus of aeons is immortal. His name no longer exists in the Book of Life and Death, and his existence straddles both the mortal realm and the netherworld. But by the same token, as soon as the balance between the realms have gone awry, you will surely die.”
She continued indistinctly, “These situations should never happen in the first place. However, who could have expected that Ksitigarbha would actually fulfil his great ambitions? The only way in which you can continue surviving is to locate the first shard of one of the primordial treasures. That said, have you thought about this before…”
She lowered her voice, before uttering each of the following words with pristine clarity, “Once you locate the first shard, you… will never be able to stop.”
“What do you mean by that…” Before Qin Ye could finish his sentence, his mind was suddenly struck with a revelation, and he quietened down completely.
I won’t be able to stop...that’s right! So that’s how it is!
He had to locate the first shard if he didn’t want to die. Yet, acquiring the first shard was also tantamount to striking the first note of the netherworldly overture. Once it begins… no one would be able to make it stop again!
After he located the first shard, he would immediately be pointed to the second shard, and the owner of the second shard would also be pointed to his existence. Then, when he obtained the second shard, the second shard would communicate with the third, and so on and so forth. At that time, regardless of whether he liked it or not, there would be no way of extricating himself from the vicious cycle any longer.
It was an infinitely occurring loop!
Arthis’ voice softened somewhat, “Furthermore… each and every shard of the primordial treasures are filled with boundless Yin energy. Any ghostly existence that lays hold of it - even one or two year ghosts, would find their strength amplified and comparable with a ten or twenty year ghost respectively. Kid… you’d better pray hard right now. If you’re unlucky and the owner of the first shard is already a malevolent ghast that is stronger than a D-Grade ghost, then… you will still be doomed to die three days from now.”
Qin Ye remained silent. Instead, he shut his eyes and began to deliberate his options carefully. His fingers tapped rhythmically on the table, and the taps echoed crisply throughout the cold corners of his little home.
This was like an urn filled with parasites of all sorts, and each of these parasites was given a shard of a primordial treasure - it was a survival of the fittest! As long as one was given a shard, it would have to fight to the death, whether it liked it or not!
There was no escape.
“The first mover has an advantage.” He opened his eyes, and a murderous intent flickered across the depths of his eyes. Incidentally, he had uttered this phrase at the exact same time that Arthis did.
“Since there’s no longer any room for retreat, then there’s no point contemplating retreat itself. Either you die, or they die.” As a Judge who had been dishonoured for committing the most heinous of crimes, Arthis’ heart was naturally cold as ice. She glanced at Qin Ye, “I’d never thought that we would see eye to eye on this. Don’t worry, since we’re already bound by the blood oath, I will never stand idly by as I watch you die. Furthermore, I’d caught a glimpse of this Yin spirit earlier when I was in Hell, and I could sense that the scent of the primordial treasure shard isn’t too strong. You should count your lucky stars. The ghost manipulating him must not have obtained the shard too long ago.”
Qin Ye nodded his head as he glanced at his phone once more. It was already 7.10 a.m.
Since the first mover has an advantage; and since there’s no way to summon the soul in the day, we’ll start with my classmate, Wang Chenghao!
If his first opponent didn’t perish in three days’ time, Qin Ye would be following in Granny Meng’s footsteps very shortly.
Earlier that night, at 3 a.m.
Just as Qin Ye was embarking on the netherworld odyssey, a tall, well-built teenager living in the most upscale neighbourhood in Clear Creek County was lying on his bed with a frown on his face.
He was deep in slumber. Even though it was summer, his home was nevertheless equipped with a state-of-the-art central air conditioning system fully equipped with air-refreshing technology. One such system would cost upwards of RMB 100,000.
The home of Wang Zemin, the richest man in Clear Creek County, was located within the Canglan Neighbourhood.
All of the houses in this neighbourhood were detached villas. If one peered out of the windows of any of these villas, they would be blown away by a magnificent, unobstructed view of the Daba Mountain Range that stretched on for miles and miles on end. When the night breeze came, it would carry the gentle, rustling sounds of the bamboo forests on the mountains with it, bringing tranquility to the mind and easing the heart.
This was also a very green neighbourhood. Naturally, the price of homes in this neighbourhood was comparable with the top neighbourhoods within the entire province. The exclusivity of this region also explained why there were only three or four villas in this location. There was even a pleasant looking forest not far away. The only drawback was that in the dead of the night, and under the dim glow of the moon, the forest gloom appeared somewhat eerie and creepy.
Wang Chenghao was lying on his bed in slumber, ostensibly disturbed. He tossed and turned, and his eyebrows were tightly knit together. Finally, he screamed loudly and woke up abruptly.
“Haa… haa…” He gasped for breath as he patted his chest. His heart was still beating wildly. Even though two days had lapsed, that nightmarish incident was still as fresh in his mind as ever.
In the very next moment, he suddenly froze.
Even his heart appeared to have paused. A sense of intense dread began to spread from his spine, making his scalp go completely numb!
A lady was seated at the foot of his bed.
Silently, with her back towards him. Her waist-length hair was hanging loosely, and she was dressed from top to toe in pale white.
“Y-you!” Wang Chenghao was so scared witless that he immediately backed himself to the headboard and repeatedly flicked on the light switch.
“Don’t bother. The power is out.” The lady’s voice was somewhat hoarse, almost as though she were chewing on something.
“Aunty Liu…” Wang Chenghao finally settled down a little. Aunty Liu was his stepmother. However, he had continued to address her as “Aunty Liu” because he had never been able to bring himself to call her “mother”.
His stepmother had moved in three months ago under the invitation of his father, Wang Zemin.
Wang Chenghao’s biological mother had passed away while giving birth to him.
Aunty Liu no longer responded to him. Instead, as she slowly left his room, a peculiar gurgling sound could be heard coming from within her mouth.
As the door to his room clicked shut, Wang Chenghao wiped off the cold sweat and his forehead and prepared for bed once more. After lying down for a few seconds, he suddenly sprung back up out of bed as though a pin had pricked him.
Something’s not right… something’s not right!!
I… I’d made sure that the door was tightly locked before going to bed last night!
Even the windows are tightly shut since I was using the air conditioning!
So… how in the world did she enter my room?!
No… and the power would never go out in this neighbourhood. If the power went out here, then the power in the entire county should have gone out as well.
His body shuddered as blood surged straight to his brain. He thumbed the light switch several times once more, yet there was simply no response whatsoever. Cursing under his breath, he immediately picked up his cellphone. Yet as soon as he switched it on, he immediately covered his mouth with his hand, curled up and cowered under the security of his blanket. A tall, burly eighteen-years-old lad was on the brink of screaming his lungs out.
There was no light.
The dim moonlight in the sky had projected the shadows of Daba Mountain’s forest trees into his room. These shadows swayed wildly, almost as though a supernatural force was creeping closer and closer to him.
There were no signs of any humans.
The entire room was filled with a maddening pin-drop silence.
The only source of light was the faint white glow from his cellphone.
And under its dim illumination… he finally saw it clearly - there it was, a trail of footprints leading from his bedside to the door to his room.
It was neat and tidy. But… why would the footprints be visible to the naked eye?
These were human footprints.
And yet… they were also bloody footprints! At three a.m. in the dead of night, a trail of bloody footprints had just appeared within his bedroom!
T-t-t-t-t-… Wang Chenghao’s teeth began to chatter uncontrollably. A locked door; his stepmother sitting at the foot of his bed at 3 a.m. in the morning; a trail of bloody footprints; and incessant sounds of someone stuffing themselves....
He crept towards the room to his door silently. As he drew close to the door, he noticed that the door was still slightly ajar!
There was a tiny seam between the door and its frame.
“Haa… haa…” His forehead was percolating with sweat. Just as he was about to shut the door silently, he caught a glimpse of a scene so horrific that it almost made his soul depart his body!
His own stepmother… was kneeling next to his family’s Labrador, and her head was twisted in a bizarre posture - almost as though she were eating something.
Furthermore, there was a large pile of golden hair lying in a pool of blood just beside where her feet were.
Where did all the golden hair come from?
What creature was large enough to shed so much blood?
“Click…” With shivering hands, he shut his eyes and bit down hard on his lips as he shut the door to his room.
It’s a ghost…
There’s really a ghost at home!
“Haa… haa…” With profuse sweat pouring out of every pore in his body, he leaned against the wooden door and slumped to the ground, panting heavily. After tens of minutes, he finally picked up his phone once more and steeled his resolve to photograph the bloody footprints.
Click… After snapping a photograph, he checked on it within his photo album, only to be taken aback once more.
What photograph is this?
An extra photograph had mysteriously appeared in his phone’s photo album at an unknown time.
That photograph depicted a scene familiar to him. His classroom. There were those he knew as well, including Zhang Yilong, and… Qin Ye?
However, Qin Ye had his back to them and appeared to be holding up a magic staff of sorts with adornments of lotus flowers as he battled a large mass of nothingness. This was a time when Zhang Yilong and Wang Chenghao had already passed out in the corner of the classroom.
The camera’s angle was rather poor. The photograph had evidently been snapped when Wang Chenghao passed out and accidentally accessed his phone’s camera app.
Qin Ye… this… this is Qin Ye?!
Isn’t this that day? Didn’t he say he’d also passed out?!
Thud!! Just then, a violent knock resounded on the door to his room. Wang Chenghao could no longer suppress the fear welling up in the depths of his heart and screamed out loud as he retreated more than a meter from the door.
“Who… who is it?!”
However, the knocking sounds on the door continued to echo out in precisely five-second intervals. Thud… thud…
It was like a death god’s knell.
Wang Chenghao scrambled madly for the door once again and bolted it tightly shut with his body.
The knocking sounds continued to resound without stopping. He wanted so much to flee from the only piece of wood separating him and the source of his terror. However, what he dreaded even more was the possibility that the door would immediately be opened as soon as he left. He wanted to secure the door to his room, yet this meant that he had to remain uncomfortably close to the very source of his terror itself.
The fear was so intense that tears began to stream from his eyes.
Never had he looked forward to the moment of dawn as much as he did right now.
For the rest of the night, the rhythmic knocks on his door continued to reverberate endlessly throughout his room. Finally, at 5 a.m., a cock crowed in the distance, and the knocking sounds finally ceased.
Wang Chenghao didn’t dare to move. Even though it was 5 a.m., and even though the knocking sounds had ceased, the sky was nevertheless still dark. Even in summer, the first glow of dawn came at approximately 5.30 a.m. Wang Chenghao silently prepared some cash with him as he continued to stare transfixed at the time on his phone. As soon as the clock struck 5.30 a.m., he immediately charged out of the front door like a madman.
He wanted to get as far away from this living hell of a home as possible.
His family’s chauffeur had not arrived yet, so he raced onto the streets. Even though there was nobody on the streets right now; and even though the air of the summer morning was far colder and damper than it was at home, he still felt as though he had finally shaken off the niggling source of fear that had badgered him for the entire night.
He waited outside for approximately one hour before he finally managed to hail down a taxi. He hurriedly boarded it as soon as it pulled up, “Go… to the suburbs of the county… where the funerary street is located! A shop called ‘The Afterlife’!”
The taxi sped down the road. As soon as it arrived on the funerary street, Wang Chenghao whipped out a RMB 50 note and dashed straight out of the taxi.
Crash… In his haste, Wang Chenghao had coincidentally collided straight into Qin Ye and his bicycle.
“Wang Chenghao?” Qin Ye was surprised to see him, “What are you doing here?”
“Save me!!” Like a madman, Wang Chenghao immediately minced his way up close to Qin Ye and grabbed his hand, completely ignoring the fact that there were others already up and about buying their breakfast in the area, “Save… save me... I know you can do it!”
“My house… there’s a ghost… there’s really a ghost!!”
Without batting an eyelid, Qin Ye coolly wrested his hand free from Wang Chenghao’s grasp and sized up Wang Chenghao once more. He was immediately taken aback by what he saw.
The center of Wang Chenghao’s forehead was dark and ominous.
Just two days ago, Wang Chenghao’s face had still been filled with radiance and vigor.
To make matters even more frightening, two of the three oil lamps over his body had already been snuffed out. The only one remaining was the one above his head - and even that was flickering feebly.
It was a sign that he was on the brink of death.
In the original Chinese, the author blatantly nicknamed our dear Rakshasa 'Arthas Menethil'. After a long internal debate, we settled on 'Arthis Minithel' instead 😂