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I've finally returned! And I've finally finished this volume! I hope the updates for this will increase after this, although it will still be sporadic. Volume 2 synopsis will be posted soon~
EDIT: The yingyao‘s name, Qiu Qiu, is made of the character 球, which means ball. Ah Bao most likely named it due to its ball-like shape.
Originally posted on RBKTR Translations.
Author: Four Feet (四隻腳).
Translated by: Yujuan.
Summer was a season of many thunderstorms.
There were times when even the weather forecast couldn't predict the weather accurately, and it would rain whenever it pleased, bearing down in full fury.
I had not brought my umbrella along with me, and was cornered in a small alleyway by the torrents of rain.
After attending a small gathering with a crowd of good friends, someone had gotten drunk, and since it was convenient, I sent that person back home. Then, I took a shortcut by ducking into an alley, but unexpectedly, a rainstorm hit halfway through.
The pesized rain droplets poured down in torrents, beating the ground like a whip, the cracking sound of rain resounding by my ear. Streaks of lightning would flash through the sky from time to time, just like silver snakes shuttling back and forth, lighting up the pitch-black night sky again and again.
Ten in the evening, I haggardly took cover under a little eave, the battery in my phone dead, unable to call any reinforcements, and could only wait for the rain to stop.
As the rain got increasingly stronger, the gloomy alley being completely empty, I shrunk into a corner, helplessly looking at the rain pouring like a waterfall before my eyes.
The shiny silvery lightning ripped through the horizon.
The entire alley was instantaneously lit up, darkening the next moment.
And in the instant it was it, I seemed to have… seen a person?
Mm? What was that? Could it have been a misperception?
Crack! Another strike of lightning sounded above.
This time I saw it clearly, that's right, there was definitely a person standing before me, about five or six meters away.
It was a Buddhist monk, and I didn't know when he had arrived, but when I saw him, he was already standing there, a conical bamboo hat sitting on his head. The bamboo hat's wide edge covered up the majority of his head, only slightly revealing his chin.
The Buddhist monk had his head lowered, with a gray robe on his body, a string of prayer beads around his neck, his left hand holding an alms bowl, his right hand holding a staff, standing motionless in the midst of the torrential rain.
Seeing this, I hurriedly moved to the side, doing my best to create a little s.p.a.ce under the eave, then waved to him, shouting to him so that he could come to and take shelter.
But the monk ignored me, not even sparing me a glance, standing in the rain without moving a single jot, soaked from head to toe by the rain.
Uh, could it be that he was doing a religious practice?
I scratched my head in puzzlement, and couldn't force him to come in, so I could only stare as he got soaked.
Half an hour later, the thunderstorm finally let up little by little. I walked out of the eave, seeing the Buddhist monk standing in his original position, back straightened, not even a change to the position of his hands.
For some reason, a perplexing feeling of admiration and being emotionally moved hit me, and I took out some spare change from my pocket, placing all of it into his alms bowl, then turned to leave.
It was very late at night when I returned to Jiuye's villa.
Ah Bao was watching cartoons in the living room, and seeing me enter, he shrieked as if he had seen a ghost, "Uwahhhh! Xiao Mo Mo! S-Something's followed you home!"
I was bewildered, "What do you mean, 'something'?"
Ah Bao screamed as he backed away, the yingyao jumping away as if incredibly uneasy.
This while, Jiuye walked down from the second-floor study room, smiling and asking, "Xiao Mo, did you meet a monk begging for alms in the rain?"
"Did you give him money?"
"Mm, I gave it to him… Ah, wait, how did you know that?"
I looked at Jiuye doubtfully, and, realizing that he and Ah Bao's gazes were fixed on the same area behind me, shivers started running down my back.
"Hey, d-don't scare me, i-is there something behind me?"
I turned my head, but there wasn't anything behind me.
I trembled as I took out the shadow crystal to reflect it behind me, and couldn't help but cry out loud as Ah Bao did.
Goodness! I, I saw that Buddhist monk, the exact one I had seen in that alley! He was actually standing behind me!
"Uwah! What's up with that! Who is this Buddhist monk? W-why is he following me?"
I lost my head and threw myself at Jiuye for help.
Jiuye patted my back, smiling, "Don't be anxious, the rain monk will not harm you. You gave him money, so you have formed benevolent ties with him. He will help you dispel a catastrophe."
My mind went blank for a moment, then said, "You mean, the reason why this monk is following me, is to help me dispel a catastrophe?"
"That's right, one who receives money must remove ill fortune for the one giving it. Before helping you with this disaster, he will continue following you."
Black lines couldn't help but fall down my face, lips pursing, I muttered, "According to what you say, if I don't b.u.mp into any disasters, wouldn't that mean that he'll keep on following me all the time?"
"Mm, it's not a bad thing having an extra protective armor by your side."
"B-but… will he be standing by my side when I sleep?"
"W-when I go to the toilet?"
"T-then, when I shower?"
"No matter what you do, the rain monk will follow you without a single step behind."
"Uwah! That sounds so perverted, I don't want it!"
I couldn't help but scowl and wail in anguish.
Jiuye laughed, saying, "As long as you don't take out your shadow crystal, you won't be able to sense the rain monk's presence. He will not disturb your daily life."
Although he said this, the problem was that I knew the presence of a 'person' behind me, and couldn't help but think, couldn't help but frequently take out the shadow crystal to look at the monk.
However, just like Jiuye had said, he did not obstruct my daily life, and only stood about three steps from me in silence, as if he was a noiseless rear spirit.
Many weeks pa.s.sed just like that, and by lucky coincidence, I was met with something unexpected.
A drunk driver had crashed into the sidewalk with his truck. With me included, there were about six people on the sidewalk, and other than me, the other five had suffered different levels of injuries. One of them had suffered a severe injury that was life-threatening, but only I had escaped unscathed after getting hit by the truck. The paramedic examining me had even lamented, this was a miracle.
But inwardly, I knew that this wasn't a miracle, the rain monk had saved me.
After that incident with the truck, the rain monk had vanished.
Jiuye said, the rain monk could be discovered, but not sought, and he only appeared during rainy nights on a summer day.
I initially thought that I would never see him again in this lifetime, but unexpectedly, a month later, I actually saw him again. This time, it wasn't him following me, but my friend.
Kai Ming had been my cla.s.smate in senior high school. We had quite a good relationship back in high school, but he had gone overseas to the United States to further his studies after graduation, and so we never met again.
Kai Ming was the son of a rich man, his father the big boss of a well-known trading company. Being in a wealthy family, and with him being an only child, he was naturally doted on a lot, spoiled rotten as he grew up.
But after that, I heard that his father had failed in his business, acc.u.mulating a large sum of debt on his back. He then ran away on his own, leaving him and his mother behind, having to run away from all their debt-collectors.
With his family in dire straits, losing his economic support, he returned without completing his American studies.
The day I met him around the street corner, I spotted him washing cars in a garage. At first, I did not recognize him, just thinking that that face wearing a worker's peaked cap looked very familiar, but when he turned, our eyes met.
"Kai Ming?" I couldn't help but blurt out.
He stood blankly for a moment, before nodding to me.
We went to a nearby restaurant for lunch.
Sitting by the gla.s.s window, Kai Ming took off his peaked cap, revealing a swarthy face.
We had not met for four years, and he had changed so much. That originally light-complexioned, elegantly-dressed person who loved to philander had become reserved and self-contained, not even speaking a word for the entire ten minutes he sat in front of me.
"It's been a while, how have you been?"
I broke the silence, asking as I poured him a cup of tea.
Kai Ming reached out to receive the cup, and to my shock, there was a long hideous scar on the back of his right hand. Probably because he had noticed my gaze, Kai Ming's hand subconsciously shrank back.
I hurriedly turned my gaze away, pretending I hadn't seen anything.
The entire meal was eaten in an awkward atmosphere, our attempts at conversation not very successful.
I regretted it a little, I shouldn't have called out to him, and Kai Ming… probably wouldn't have wanted any of his old cla.s.smates recognizing him, right?
Having mixed feelings, and feeling incredibly bad about it, I looked at this brother who I used to play football, video games with, who I had good times with and made trouble together, about to find a topic to ease the mood, when I realized that he was constantly using his hand to rub the back of his head, looking pretty uncomfortable.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
Kai Ming said, "Nothing, it's just a small headache."
"Mm, for some reason, the back of my head started hurting around a few days ago, as if something sharp is jabbing at it."
"Have you seen the doctor?"
"No." Kai Ming shook his head, saying, "It's not very serious, and it might be gone in a few days. Besides, the job I'm currently at doesn't allow sick leaves."
Saying this, he smiled bitterly.
I lowered my head to drink a sip of tea, and an idea suddenly surfaced. Secretly taking out the shadow crystal from my pocket, and taking care not to let Kai Ming notice, I shone it at the back of his head.
Taking a look at it, I almost spat out my tea in shock.
I had actually seen the rain monk!
The rain monk was standing behind Kai Ming, one hand holding an alms bowl, another hand raised to hold his staff, jabbing it directly onto the back of Kai Ming's head!
I see! No wonder his head hurt!
But why? Why was the rain monk doing this?
He was standing behind Kai Ming, wasn't it to protect him?
"What's wrong? Is there something behind me?"
Kai Ming looked at me, then looked behind him.
"Oh, no, i-it's nothing…"
I hurriedly shook my head.
When I returned home, I told Jiuye of this matter.
Jiuye sat on the sofa, placing down the volume in his hands, and said indifferently, "Xiao Mo, stay away from that friend of yours. It would be best if you did not have any more encounters with him."
I then asked, "Why was the rain monk pointing his staff at him?"
Jiuye smiled, saying, "The world has its own laws of karma; good shall be rewarded with good, but shall an evildoer be rewarded with a good end?"
I blinked, not understanding why he was saying all these.
Jiuye did not explain either, just a meaningful smile blooming at the corners of his lips.
"Xiao Mo, I'm hungry." He said.
"Xiao Mo Mo Xiao Mo Mo, I'm hungry too I'm hungry too!"
Ah Bao bounced over, pouncing onto my body, shaking my sleeves incessantly after grabbing me.
The yingyao had also hopped onto my shoulder, twisting its round and furry body, then widened its mouth, swallowing my head in one gulp— this was its latest prank it loved to play the most.
"Wah! Let go! d.a.m.n it!"
I cried out loud, using all my strength to pull my head out of the yingyao's mouth, then threw this furball far away. Not a moment after, it hopped back, and I quickly stepped on it with one foot, holding it in place on the floorboard.
Ah Bao giggled, saying, "Qiu Qiu likes to eat Xiao Mo Mo's food too."
'Qiu Qiu' was the name Ah Bao had given to the yingyao.
Jiuye smiled, adding, "I like to eat it too."
Ah Bao raised his hands and said loudly, "Both Qiu Qiu and I love it too!"
The yingyao twisted its body, cracking into a smile.
"Uh, y-you guys… So, you guys just want me to cook dinner again, don't you?"
Black lines fell across my face.
Ever since in one mad, exotic moment, I went to the kitchen to cook a seafood dish with rice and gravy, these bunch, one big and one small, plus one ball, would request for me to cook for them every now and then…
Luckily, Jiuye was not very picky with his food, and no matter the kind of ridiculous food I would make, he would accept them without question, eating all of it, that even I would worry about him getting sick from food poisoning.
As for Ah Bao, as long as it was human food, this little guy would think it was exceedingly delicious, even feeding the food to the yingyao as he ate.
Of course, I was also doing my best on upgrading my cooking skills. After all, I had been freeloading at Jiuye's house for so long, I had to have some sort of contribution at least.
"Then how about I make some tomato spaghetti tonight?"
I asked, as I hurriedly searched for the 'A Beginner Cook's Secret Bible' from the shelf that I had bought two days ago.
"Alright alright! I want to eat I want to eat!"
Ah Bao bounced in happiness, the yingyao even springing onto the ceiling joyfully.
"Oh, right, Ah Ye, did you help me buy an ap.r.o.n yesterday at the supermarket?"
"Mm, I bought it."
Jiuye smilingly handed me a brand-new ap.r.o.n with pink lace.
The corners of my lips couldn't help but pull down, looking at him in askance.
Jiuye blinked, smiling innocently, saying, "Xiao Mo, I think this pink ap.r.o.n is really suited for you, what do you think?"
"Suited, like h.e.l.l!"
Tsk, this guy really had vulgar tastes!
Although Jiuye had told me not to bother with the matter of Kai Ming and the rain monk, I just could not let my worries settle. I called Kai Ming a few times, but he did not pick up, nor did he give me a call in return.
I guessed that Kai Ming did not want to see me, so at last, I gave up on contacting him.
Just when I was about to gradually forget about this matter, I inadvertently saw a viral clip transmitted by many people on the internet.
It was a clip of someone abusing a small animal. The b.l.o.o.d.y and merciless sight caused hot anger to spring up unbidden in me, but more than fury, what shocked me even more was that the person in the clip, was actually Kai Ming!
That person had not revealed his face in the clip, but I recognized the scar on the back of his right hand!
The instant I finished watching that clip, I immediately went to the garage Kai Ming was at.
But the people at the garage told me, Kai Ming had resigned from his job. Under my repeated begging, a worker who was familiar with Kai Ming finally gave me an address to the place Kai Ming was currently living in.
I followed the address to a narrow and dark alley, and found a shabby rented flat that was almost on the verge of collapsing.
"Kai Ming! Kai Ming! Are you there!"
As I shouted, I knocked on the door, the vibration causing the old door frame's corroded wooden bits to fall flutteringly.
After a long moment, someone finally came to answer.
The door was not opened completely, just leaving a palm-sized crack to reveal a suntanned messy face and dirty hair.
"Shen Mo?" Kai Ming looked at me in surprise, asking, "H-how did you find me here?"
"There people at the garage told me." I said, "Kai Ming, why did you resign?"
Kai Ming was still using the door to conceal his face, his bloodshot eyes staring at me, guard raised. He asked, "Why did you come here?"
I hesitated a little, saying, "I… I came to have a chat with you."
"Have a chat? I don't think there's anything we can chat about."
Kai Ming's tone was incredibly stiff, about to close the door after saying this.
"Hey! Wait, wait a minute!"
I immediately grabbed the edge of the door, saying frantically, "Kai Ming, why haven't you been picking up my calls? How have you been recently? You've even resigned from your job, what are you planning on doing after this?"
"You're really f.u.c.king annoying! You are you to me, why do I have to answer your questions?"
Kai Ming suddenly bellowed.
I grabbed his sleeve, saying, "Kai Ming, I'm just concerned about you, I don't want to see you—"
"Enough! You can stop putting on your act!"
Kai Ming cut me off agitatedly, saying, "Ever since you came, Ah Wei, Zi Chen, Xiao Feng, even Yu Ting, they've all come to the garage! You must have told them, am I right? All of you, pretending to be my friends, pretending to be good people, putting on a facade of being concerned for me, but all of you are just here to mock me! I know, all of you must be secretly laughing at me! Laughing at me for being reduced to this state!"
"No! I didn't, I didn't tell them!"
I shook my head, arguing, "Kai Ming, will you believe me? I really want to help you—"
"Shut up!" Kai Ming cut me off once again.
Just at this moment, I could subtly hear the sound of miserable shrieks of a kitten coming from within the house.
I immediately thought of that clip, and couldn't help but ask, "Kai Ming, what are you doing?'
"None of your business! Get out!"
Kai Ming pushed me, I hurriedly threw myself forward, reaching out to grab the door.
With a thump, the door clipped heavily on my fingers. I took in a painful breath, but did not let go, using all my strength to push the door open.
In the house, a kitten was tied up by rope, hung on the window frame by its neck, all four limbs struggling as it meowed, a paring knife placed on the table beside it.
"Kai Ming! Just what are you doing!"
I rushed up furiously, helping the kitten down.
"Shen Mo, give me the cat."
Kai Ming grabbed the paring knife, stepping over.
"W-what are you going to do?"
I held the kitten tightly in my chest, backing away carefully.
"Kai Ming, I saw that clip on the internet today, the one who slaughtered that stray dog, cut off that rabbit's ears, chopped off that cat's paws before the camera lens, was you, wasn't it?"
Kai Ming looked at me coldly, not denying it.
I glared at him in disbelief, reprimanding him, "Have you gone mad? Why would you do something like this!"
Kai Ming did not say anything, his gaze only gradually turning even more callous.
"Give me the cat." He repeated once again.
"No…" I shook my head, saying, "Kai Ming, will you calm down? I know, things have been hard for you these past few years, it must feel unpleasant for you, but—"
"Shut up! Give me the cat!"
Kai Ming roared, pouncing over ferociously.
I hugged the kitten and dodged, accidentally tripping over the foot of a table. Staggering, my entire body crashed into a nearby cupboard. With a thunderous noise, the stuff in the cupboard overturned onto the ground.
A b.l.o.o.d.y smell a.s.sailed my nostrils. I lifted my palm to take a look, the viscous blood dripping down the entire soaked hand.
The sun's rays tilted in from the window to show the corpses of the kittens and puppies with their cut off limbs scattered on the ground, and… And a human head!
I was so frightened I couldn't move, looking at the human head in disbelief.
It was a woman's head, the split-open curled hair drenched in crimson blood. From the disarrayed hair, I could identify that face, so thin her cheekbones stood out. It was Kai Ming's mother.
Even my voice was trembling, I looked at Kai Ming in alarm, "You killed… your mother?"
"She's not my mother, just a madwoman."
Kai Ming's expression was cold and detached, a flash of frostiness flitting over his ashen eyes.
He rolled up his sleeve, displaying the ten-centimeter-long scar on the back on his right hand, saying, "See this? She did this. She was already driven into madness by those debt-collectors, to the point of not even recognizing me… I've had enough. To her, death is a kind of liberation, I'll be liberated as well…"
Kai Ming's tone of voice was incredibly calm. As if he was relating a matter that had absolutely nothing to do with him, and the calmer his tone was, the more fearful I became.
"Kai Ming, don't be like this… I, I'll accompany you to surrender to the authorities, alright?"
I looked at him, a sense of sadness in my heart.
"Surrender? Don't you think that my life is tragic enough? Heh, for people like you, seeing me get locked up, seeing me sentenced to prison, doesn't it feel awesome?"
Kai Ming smiled coldly, strolling over.
"No, it's not what you think… Kai Ming, don't be like this…"
My legs had gone numb, I couldn't stand up, only able to back away little by little against the pool of blood, until I backed into a corner of the wall, Kai Ming's large figure looming over like a gigantic shadow.
"Shen Mo, you shouldn't have some today… You didn't have to die, but now, I'll have to kill you as well… You forced me to do this…"
Kai Ming raised his blade.
A mournful, miserable shriek rang out.
But the shriek did not come from me, it was Kai Ming.
Clank clank, the paring knife fell onto the floor, and Kai Ming knelt with his hands around his head, expression extremely agonized.
"Ahhh! It hurts! It hurts! It hurts so much!"
He hissed and howled in anguish, rolling over the ground in pain.
I shrank into the wall, looking at him in shock. After going blank for a few seconds, I suddenly remembered, taking out the shadow crystal with trembling hands to shine it before me…
Under the refraction of the shadow crystal, the rain monk used the staff in his hands to pierce through the top of Kai Ming's head!
Kai Ming was dead.
The results of the examination report from the hospital stated, he had died from a sudden cerebral hemorrhage.
I sat in the police station's interrogation room, not very surprised when I knew of this information.
Officer Lin Qi sat in front of me, rubbing his temples, as he said in annoyance, "One Yuchi Jiuye was enough, why is it that you've appeared too? Say it, just what is up with the both of you, mm? Do you think you're the grim reaper, people dying everywhere you go!"
I bit my lip, not making a sound.
Ma Xiaofan who was writing down a report by the side lifted his head to look at me, sighing.
When I stepped out of the police station, it was raining outside. The rain was not strong, but very thick.
Jiuye had his umbrella open, waiting for me under a street lamp.
I walked over slowly, my emotions so repressed I couldn't speak a word.
He patted my shoulder, as if he had seen through my thoughts, saying, "It's not your fault, don't make things difficult for yourself."
I shook my head, saying helplessly, "If I had noticed earlier, it might not have evolved to that situation… If I had been able to advise Kai Ming a little more that day, had been a little more concerned for him, perhaps… perhaps I could have stopped that from happening…"
Jiuye smiled, saying, "Xiao Mo, do you know of the rain monk's origins?"
"Actually, the rain monk is someone who has pa.s.sed away. They are people who carry sins along with them, because of the evil deeds they did in their previous life, so they need to atone for it, in order to enter the reincarnation circle."
"You're saying, the reason why the rain monk appeared, so to atone?"
"That's right." Jiuye nodded, and said, "If they form ties with those who are good, the rain monk will help them survive a calamity; if they meet an evil-doer, the rain monk will carry out the punishment. Regardless they help the good, or punish the evil, it will be considered redemption for the faults they did in their previous life. So, the rain monk you met that day was already destined to be your friend's end."
I went blank for a moment, muttering, "So you told me not to bother with this matter, right? Because regardless of what I did, I would be unable to change the ending…"
Jiuye patted my shoulder, not saying anything.
I had also gone silent, facing the a.s.saulting and continuous drizzle, I walked amongst the hazy night.
As I walked, I halted.
Turning my head, I saw a 'person' standing in the distance.
This was my third time seeing the rain monk. He wore a grey robe, standing motionless in the midst of the rain, head subtly lowered, a string of prayer beads around his neck, wearing a conical bamboo hat. The bamboo hat's wide edge covered up his head, that I couldn't see his face.
But I had noticed, on the back of his right hand carrying the staff, was a long, long scar.