No one responded, and I became increasingly frantic. The air inside was not circulating, and after shouting several times, I felt dizzy and couldn’t catch my breath.
My arms gradually became weak, and my cellphone slipped from my palm and fell to the ground. The tank was not very large, but I couldn’t find the exit. I desperately groped inch by inch, until my face turned purple, and my blood vessels burst one by one.
I had never experienced anything like this before. Inside this sealed water tank, I felt true fear. It had nothing to do with ghosts or monsters, but rather a simple fear of death.
Severely lacking oxygen, I rubbed my cheeks with both hands, digging bloody grooves with my nails. The pain was too much, and I couldn’t even scream. I curled up at the bottom of the tank like a fish that had been drained of all its moisture.
“Why did you want to kill me?”
In a daze, I heard the voice again. I struggled to open my eyes and saw what appeared to be a young boy with a bleeding pinkie finger, jumping into the water tank. He closed the lid with his own hands and slowly sank into the black, icy water.
Loneliness and fear surrounded him. In the face of death, his body instinctively struggled. He even called for help, but no one responded, until all his organs stopped functioning and his body lost its warmth, becoming stiff.
“I don’t want to die, but why did you want to kill me?” The rigid body that should have died floated to my side. Its fish-like eyes stared at me, asking the same question.
In my semi-conscious state, I tried to push him away with my last bit of strength, but it was futile. A pair of hands, icy cold, grabbed my neck.
“Why did you want to kill me?”
Right then, I was slapped hard across the face, and the darkness in front of me shattered like a broken mirror. A delicate and pretty face was staring at me.
“Sakurako?” It was then that I realized I was lying inside the tank, soaked wet.
The boy and the voice I had seen and heard before were all gone, seemingly just a figment of my imagination.
“Are you okay?” Hideki was standing above the tank. “Luckily, Sakurako realized something was wrong, or you might never have woken up.”
I struggled to my feet and leaned over the water inlet, gasping for air. “I saw what appeared to be Guo Junjie’s death scene just now. He was struggling and screaming, saying you killed him.”
“Everyone at New Shanghai High School is on guard against each other. Who would care about him? Besides, if we had killed him earlier, maybe the tragedy wouldn’t have happened,” Hideki’s words made sense. “Guo Junjie has been secretly watching us all the time. He won’t let you investigate smoothly.”
After Hideki’s words, I also realized that my situation was very dangerous, and that the vengeful spirit could kill me at any time.
To be honest, I was really scared just now. I was hit without even realizing it, and I still have some lingering fear in my heart. I probably won’t dare to enter a small enclosed space alone for a while.
“Sakurako, can you stay here with me for a while? I feel a little uneasy.” Whether Sakurako is human or ghost, at least she saved me just now, so I should trust her a little more.
I found my fallen phone and shone it towards the corner of the water tank. The worn-out school uniform was still lying there.
“This should be Guo Junjie’s relic.” I picked up the uniform and spread it out on the iron tank. There was nothing unusual on the back, but there was a dark blood stain in the chest area.
“It’s a bit strange.” The blood stain on the uniform was from the blood that had flowed out of the victim’s chest wound. The strange thing was that the blood was evenly distributed, not like a puncture wound caused by a sharp object.
I compared the uniform to my own body and pressed the area with the heaviest blood stain with my hand. “This is the location of the heart.”
What kind of wound can cause bleeding and be difficult to heal? The two words “skining” popped into my mind.
I thought about Guo Junjie’s act of cutting off his little finger and giving it as a gift to Shen Mengting, and my last trace of pity for him disappeared. “He’s completely insane. Although he still looks human on the outside, his actions are like those of a devil—psychologically twisted and reckless.”
I searched the school uniform pocket and found a class photo, but unfortunately, it had been soaked in water for too long, and everyone’s faces were blurred.
“He carried the photo with him until his death. It’s not because he had a fondness for those people in it. It seems more like a medium for a curse. He wanted everyone in the photo to have a bad ending.”
I put the photo in my pocket with Guo Junjie’s final love letter and searched the area, but found no further clues.
“Let’s go to the incineration pit. This nightmare needs an ending.” I crawled out of the water tank, thinking that the harvest wasn’t bad. Now, all I needed to do was follow the clues and find Guo Junjie’s body.
The place where the garbage was processed—the incineration pit—was located at the deepest part of the campus, with weeds growing everywhere on the ground. The farther I walked, the more desolate it felt. The cold wind blew into my clothes, and the thought of there possibly being numerous bodies buried beneath the ground made me quicken my pace.
Two flat-roofed houses were right next to the school’s fence, with the door locked and strange seals on the windows.
“Host, we can’t go any further with you. We can’t get into that house.” Hideki’s face turned ugly as soon as we approached the pit, and there were signs of cracking on his pale skin that he couldn’t control.
“Don’t worry, leave it to me.” Hideki’s reaction probably had to do with the talismans on the windows. I approached them and noticed strange symbols drawn on all the talismans. Because of what happened at the Peace of Mind Hotel, I didn’t recklessly tear them off.
“At times like this, we should consult a professional.” I asked for help in the live broadcast chat, but there were many fraudsters and boastful people who didn’t provide reliable information.
“Is half-immortal Liu there? Is Half-immortal Liu from Qingcheng Mountain here?” I suddenly remembered Half-immortal and wished he was online, but unfortunately he wasn’t today.
“Yuan Chen’s soul retrieval talisman? Just a low-level talisman, what’s the big deal?” I noticed a comment on the screen that caught my attention, posted by someone named Daoist master Wan.
It wasn’t because of what he said made sense, but rather his arrogant tone. He spoke with an air of superiority, as if he were invincible in this world.
“Lives are at stake. Do any of our viewers have any good ideas?”
“Call the police! Our trademark in this live broadcast room is to call the police at the slightest problem!”
“Why call the police? Listen to me, kick the door three times, then use your inner strength to dispel the evil spirits with your butt facing backwards. As the saying goes, kicking the widow’s door at night is the mark of a superior man. Let me enlighten you with my extensive knowledge and expertise.”
“What a bunch of nonsense! Listen to me, as a professional, a third-term student of the Harbin Buddhist College, I am proficient in Guanyin meditation…”
The barrage of comments was scrolling by at lightning speed and I stood at the door, afraid to make a move, paying special attention to the ID of Daoist master Wan
“Yuan Chen is one of the Eight Characters of Gods and demons, also known as Da Hao, it can be said to be extremely evil. If evil omens and disasters are seen, they are foremost to be avoided at the end of a prosperous period. Men encounter ugliness, chaos, shamelessness, and gluttony; women encounter multiple disasters, with rough voices and mixed qualities, lewdness, and disobedience in childbirth.”
“The corpse hidden in the house, carrying Yuan Chen’s fate in life, turned into a land-bound evil spirit after death, with extreme resentment. Ordinary talismans are useless. This Yuan Chen talisman is also only treating the symptoms and not the root cause, it can only temporarily trap it.”
I stared at Daoist master Wan’s comments, although I couldn’t tell if he knew what he was talking about, he felt much more reliable than others.
“I don’t know how to destroy the Yuan Chen soul retrieval talisman Do you have any great ideas, Daoist master Wan?” I lowered my posture, as pretending to be aloof at this time might really make him angry and make him leave.
“Boy, do you, a mortal, dare to go against Yuan Chen? It’s ridiculous, ridiculous.”
Half-immortal Liu said the same thing to me back then, but his way of expressing it was much more gentle.
“Daoist, if you really have supreme skills in Taoism, please enlighten me. I would be eternally grateful,” I asked eagerly.
“I wouldn’t say my skills are ‘supreme’, but in the past 50 years, there have been few cultivators who could match me. Alright, today, I will teach you a technique that can bring you back from the brink of death,” the Daoist replied.
In the live broadcast chatroom, many viewers expressed their disdain for the Daoist’s arrogant voice. I, too, was feeling uncertain about whether he was a narcissistic teenager or a truly talented immortal Daoist.
“You, with no skills or abilities, require a determination to take risks and climb upwards in the face of adversity to break the curse of Yuan Chen. Only then can you find a glimmer of hope amidst the brink of death!” the Daoist instructed.
“Daoist Master, please don’t judge me. Just tell me what I need to do,” I said.
“The ominous star holds tremendous power. It cannot bring about good fortune without any ghosts and it cannot hold any authority without any killings. I want you to have a clear mind, without fear or distraction, to find the corpse of Yuan Chen amongst the mountain of corpses and then carry it on your back,” the Daoist explained.
“Carry, carry the corpse?” I repeated incredulously.
“Find a place where you can see the clear brilliance, and drop the corpse from a high place. If it shatters to pieces, you will have no worries tonight. But if its grudges linger and don’t disperse, then you will undoubtedly die,”