Ch3. My Classmate,Xiaohui
The female ghost explained, “Niu Tianshi is one of the numerous disciples of Zhang Tianshi, and his cultivation was very profound even though he was not a direct descendant. It could be said that his school is independent of the Zhang Tianshi School. However, you could still be considered as the 55th generation disciple of Zhang Tianshi. From now and henceforth, you must protect and guard the harmony of Yin and Yang as it is your duty; to exorcise ghosts and capture evil spirits, and to encourage virtue and goodness for humanity.”
“Do you mean safeguarding world peace is now my own and sole duty? Please don’t make me laugh Lady. Can’t you see that my legs are trembling because of the ghost? Didn’t you say that I must exorcize ghosts and capture evil spirits? Are you not a ghost yourself? Do I have to catch you too? Then what about that Old Swindler?”
“It’s different with me, I’m not an ordinary ghost. Not to mention that you don’t have the ability to subdue me. As for Master, he has passed away and just went to the Netherworld, but he said that he will contact you if such an opportunity arises”.
“Wait a moment Lady, I have not acknowledged myself as his apprentice.”
The female ghost said gently, “Even if you didn’t acknowledge it, it’s useless because you have inherited his will. Master has left you his legacy, 50000 yuan in cash, 1.5 million in debt papers, one Shadowbane magical sword, a vial of magical cattle tears, a bundle of Niu School’s Past Records on Demon Subjugation, one compilation book of Daoist Incantations, and lastly… err… a deluxe edition of ‘Jin Ping Mei’.”1 The female ghost’s tone changed here, and her face and voice were somewhat unnatural.
I also froze for a moment, “Lady, is this ‘Golden Lotus’ also a Daoist book?”
“No, this book is from master’s own collection, but he asked you to burn some pages of it for him later, only people close to him can receive this book and are permitted to burn the pages for him.” 2
I couldn’t help but solemnly say, “Lady, I know that you are well educated and are reasonable, but you should know that I haven’t acknowledge myself as that Old Swindler’s apprentice. So please let me go, I’m timid and am not suitable for this kind of life.”
To my surprise, the female ghost unexpectedly nodded. However, when I was secretly happy, the female ghost cordially said, “OK, but I will scare you every day. Whenever you eat a meal, I will sit in front of you. When you’re sleeping, I will stand beside your bed; and when you attend class, I will float in front of you. Of course, I will not kill you, though. But in the end, which kind of life you choose, you’ll choose it yourself.”
How could i not comply after hearing her menacing words? If it were otherwise, I would have absolutely been tormented and turned into a schizophrenic. Just imagine, if I were to eat my meals and she transformed into that dreadful appearance in front of me. How would I have the appetite to eat? I would have had vomited instantly.
Under the multiple threats of this female ghost, I reluctantly compromised and tried to flatter her. I slowly walked to the front and suppressed my fear, “Lady, didn’t you suffer from that Old Swindler’s persecution? Relax, since he has died, you have been freed too, right? I have also received these things from you, and now since I’m going to sleep, you can leave.”
The female ghost’s manner unexpectedly turned icy, “He is your master! You must address him with respect and use honorifics to his name! Master was a great person. If he wasn’t in dire circumstances, he wouldn’t have chosen you as his disciple, nor would he have left his debt for you to pay. However, you can rest assured, I will help you. I have followed master for many years. I can direct you and help you learn Daoist skills.”
“Eh? Can a ghost teach humans Daoist skills?” I was surprised.
“Humans and ghosts have their own particular way. However, I have followed master for many years, and I have also comprehend the basics of Daoist magical arts. Therefore, I can give some pointers to a beginner like you and will direct you across this threshold.”
The female ghost’s words were really obvious, meaning that we were absolutely going to meet frequently in the future. Moreover, she would also take the role as my master for now.
“Wow!!! This could be the reality version of Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu, no?!”3
I took a deep breath, “Lady, many things have happened to me this day and I want to reorganize my mind first. Could you please leave me first? You can come for me again tomorrow.”
People usually have unusual fear in the dark environments, but that fear would be alleviated significantly in the daytime.
The female ghost didn’t say anything. She moved to the side and vanished.
I covered my head with a blanket and my body was ceaselessly trembling until dawn. I walked downstairs anxiously and entrenched every step I took, for fear that the female ghost would suddenly pop out. Fortunately, that ghost didn’t appear again. I opened the door’s handle and took a long deep breath, feeling relieved.
When I woke up this morning, I hid that black backpack in my wardrobe to avoid it being found by Mom. It was as that female ghost said. There was 50,000 yuan in cash, a waterproof pouch filled with debt bills, a sword hilt without a blade, several books, and a vial of liquid.
I dismounted my “basket 1258” bicycle and walked to the campus. My arrival was attracting the attention of many people. Even when I flung my hair slightly, many female students were screaming and groaning as well as talking about me in whispers. Two married women were even whispering in a low voice near me, “Look at that stupid lame loser…”
Whatever. I am a different man from this day on. I would become a supreme existence later, so, how could I lower myself to the same level as these mortals?
After locking my bicycle I walked straight into class.
When I entered the class and sat, I suddenly remembered that I forgot to do yesterday’s homework. I took out my workbook and a coin quickly, as I randomly flipped the coin to answer the multiple-choice questions. If it was even, then the answer would be A. The reverse would be B, and I chose C or D randomly. It took only 57 seconds to answer all the 20 questions. After handling those 20 questions, I began to sleep on the table. My eyes were fully open for the entire night, and this precious time must be put to a good use to supplement my lack of sleep.
After a while, the school bell rang. The teacher came in and began to start the lesson as all the students stood and greeted the teacher in unison, albeit looking dispirited.
Because I sat in the back row, added with my notorious reputation as a legendary loser, such identity made the teacher ignore me even though I didn’t stand up. I was just listening to the teacher’s announcement, “All of you sit down please. A new classmate has joined our class today. So, let us invite her in to introduce herself”.
Then, a soft and gentle voice of a girl was heard, “Hello, everyone. My name is Zhou Huiqing. Please take care of me.”
A thunderous applause reverberated in the class. It was so loud that I had to cover my ears. An existence as rare as a beautiful flower in the desert would now became my deskmate. No one was willing to sit with me at the same table, therefore, the only empty slot would be the position next to me.
I knew that this new classmate of mine had sat next to me. But her presence also brought some chilly winds that bursted out from every direction. My sleepiness was instantly reduced to at least a third of what it was before. However, I kept still and continued to sleep.
When I woke, I discovered that it was noon already. The classes were over, and most the people had also left. I rubbed my eyes, walked to my bike and rode my “1258” bicycle back home.
Mom had long prepared some food, and then asked while I was eating, “Son, did you attend your morning class attentively?”
I cooked up some explanation and muddled through this hurdle using excuse after excuse. I quickly left and hid in my room after finishing the meal, and took out all the things left behind by the Old Swindler to study. The liquid in the vial was cattle tears. I had once watched a movie that said that cattle tears could make people see the ghosts. I originally thought that it was nonsense, so I never expected that it was actually true. However, the cattle tears in the movie were blue while the liquid in this vial was transparent. There was also a strange sword. It only had a hilt without a blade. That female ghost yesterday said that, this sword’s name was Shadowbane. But then again, I didn’t even know a tiniest clue of how to use it.
‘Daoist Incantations Compilation Book’ looked very old and had more than 100 pages. On each page was drawn with an obscure charm which was difficult to comprehend. I was absolutely clueless about how to spell these incantations, neither did I know its effect if I used them.
‘Niu School’s Past Records on Demon Subjugation’ was written in a complex form of Chinese Traditional characters. I knew how to read Chinese simplified characters, but how could these characters be so difficult to understand?
Finally, I moved my sight onto the deluxe edition of “Jin Ping Mei”, I opened the book and carefully studied it…
By 12:50 PM, Mom knocked on my door, “Son, go to school now, or you’ll be late.”
I truly wanted to continue reading this book but I closed the book and carefully put it back into the bundle, and was thinking about inserting the sword hilt onto my waist. I clearly heard that this was a magical sword. Now that I had this toy, I wouldn’t have to fear anything when I was walking outside at night. It was a kind of courage booster for me.
It was 1:20 PM when I arrived to class. There was a very pretty girl who sat next to my chair with several ladykillers surrounding and smooth talking her.
The girl seemed to know me and after seeing that I came in, she stood up and let me sit beside her. She seemed to have an outgoing personality and took the initiative to talk, “Hello, my name is Zhou Huiqing, you are?”
“Zhang Xiaolong.” I replied briefly.
At the moment, my mind was still occupied by the “Golden Lotus” book. This book was really a wonderful piece of art! Tang Xuanzang, fearlessly started his long arduous journey from the East to the West because he read this book! But Cao Cao was inflicted by a headache and died because he didn’t want to read this book! The Old Swindler was very fond of this book, and I admitted that his taste was truly exquisite! This was the only point where I felt that I was much closer with the old fogey.4
But at this time, Zhou Huiqing shouted in a low voice, “Zhang Xiaolong? Did you live in Li Family Village before? Wasn’t your name originally Li Xiaolong?”
“How do you know?” I asked in surprise.
She lowered her head and her voice slightly trembled, and said, “I, I am Xiaohui.”
“No, Xiaohui’s name is Zhou Xiaohui, but you…”
“You really still remember me! Yeah, I’m really Xiaohui. However, my parents changed my name when we moved to the city.” She replied while smiling.
The only person I would have considered as a true friend since I was small until now, was exactly my deskmate from kindergarten, Xiaohui. Her body was sprinkled by an energy drink at that time and I helped her clean her chest. She also asked the teacher to forgive me on her own initiative. When I was recalling that glorious kindergarten time of mine, I couldn’t help but to spontaneously glance over at Xiaohui’s chest… Ehmm… The development was very good. It had grown very well.
Xiaohui swayed her hands and tried to block my eyesight, and blushingly said, “You haven’t changed!” Her words implied that I was still lascivious.
I coughed lightly and continued to lie on the table as I prepared to sleep. The female ghost hadn’t come to look for me today. But this might not be a good sign, though, as I estimated that she certainly would appear tonight. And if I couldn’t sleep well at night, I must seize the time to sleep now, to cope with the nightmare that was about to happen.
However, Xiaohui shook my arms, “Xiaolong, why didn’t you listen to the teacher? Your parents gave you money so you could obtain knowledge, not to sleep here.”
I rolled my eyes and wanted to say to Xiaohui. “Do not to disturb me”. But suddenly, a burst of chilling wind blew and made me immediately shivered. Meanwhile, a strand of warmth flowed in from my waist.
I looked back at Xiaohui and said, “I didn’t get to have a good sleep last night, so I really don’t have any spirit to listen to the teacher… and you… please just give me a break, will you? Also, the weather is gradually turning cold, so wear warm clothes tomorrow. My school uniform is on the table, you can wear it you’re feeling cold.”
Then, I went back to my table and prepared to sleep again.
Because Xiaohui sat next to me, my table became so noisy at every break between classes. They came over to flatter and tried to woo her. But since I had slept for two sessions, my sleepiness was already gone so I raised my head and looked at Xiaohui. I saw her seriously listening to the teacher while frequently taking notes. As I scrutinized her face more carefully, I had actually discovered that there was a faint black dot on her glabella.
“Did my eyes fail me?”
I rubbed my eyes, but that black dot was still there, some words instantly popped up within my head, “A black glabella.”
My mind immediately analyzed the previous phenomenon I felt. It was either in the morning or this afternoon that I felt a chilly wind coming from Xiaohui. This was surely not a coincidence. I had felt this kind of sensation, the feeling of getting chills and shivering when I was with the female ghost yesterday.
Did some ghost or evil spirit want to harm Xiaohui?
- Jinpingmei or the Golden Lotus, was a vernacular novel published in the era of Ming Dynasty—around 1617, formerly seen notorious and banned for its sexual content.
- The Chinese burns paper money for the soul of the deceased and usually done by close relatives, be it family or apprentices. In this novel, paper money replaced by porn pages, hahaha
- If you want to know more about these two names just read The Return of the Condor Heroes by Jin Yong.
- I happened to read this book once. Though it was full of explicit depictions of sexuality, it was actually a social critic for the ruling class at that time/era. Just google it, but I recommend you to also compare it with the other four masterworks of the Ming novel, it would be hard to LOL in this paragraph if you haven’t read those 4 books.