Edited by: Sparrow
After that, nothing happened.
With the experiences he had in the previous games, Lu Chu summarised that since this ‘game’s tip was ‘Nuptials of the Corses’, there must be clues related to this matter amongst the people around him. Lu Chu wanted to ask his family whether their hometown had a custom of ghost marriages, but he never found a chance to ask.
After all, the new year was about to arrive, and such a time should be filled with cheer and celebration. It wasn’t appropriate to ask about the dead.
Thus, Lu Chu had no other choice but to continue searching for relevant information on the Internet.
Soon, he discovered a point that concerned him greatly.
‘Ghost marriage’ was a custom that had existed since the Han Dynasty.
In those days, if a marriage had been arranged for a child, who had already passed away, by a powerful family, they could make the unwed lady proceed with the nuptial bows. They would then bury her together with the deceased. As for the common people, if their children or grandchildren died early, they would try to find young boys and girls who also died early. After calculating their birthdate characters, if they were a match, they would hire a Master of the Yin and Yang 1Generally associated with funerals, and derived from Taoism, Master of the Yin and Yang (阴阳先生) refers to someone who uses concepts such as Yin and Yang, Eight Trigrams, the Five Elements to fortune tell/calculate misfortune, good fortune and bad luck, birth, old age, illness, and death. to find a suitable date for marriage. Afterward, they would marry them before burying them together. Then, in the later years, there were also ghost marriages where living people didn’t need to be buried. Instead, they directly married the deceased and lived the rest of their lives as widows.
This kind of ghost marriage was very popular and lasted until the Qing Dynasty. However, since the Qing Dynasty’sruler was from the Manchu ethnic group, they didn’t have the culture of practicing ghost marriages. As such, this form of ghost marriage gradually declined.
‘Ghost marriage’ didn’t only refer to marriage between the dead, but marriage between the living and the dead. This was also called ghost marriage. However, the tip given by the bureau wasn’t ‘Ghost Marriage’, but ‘Nuptials of the Corses’.
‘Nuptials of the Corses’ specifically referred to marriage between the dead during the late Qing Dynasty.
So, this time, it referred to two corpses?
If that was the case, then whywas the requirement of this ‘game’ cutting fate’s destined marriage……
The word ‘cut’ showed that this marriage wasn’t consensual. Then, did it mean that one of the two partieswas alive?
A living person and a dead person couldn’t be considered ‘Nuptials of the Dead’, thus, if this marriage wassuccessful, the only end the living person would have is this single word — ‘death’.
In the blink of an eye, three dayspassed. With his mother’s reminder, Lu Chu hung the copper coin with the red string around his neck on the door handle.
Unexpectedly, it hadn’t even been two days after taking off the copper coin when his mother had gotten up early and went to the neighbouring village at around four in the morning to ask for the samered cloth and copper coin.
Lu Chu looked at the things in front of him, and was puzzled, “Mum, why did you go and ask for this again?”
His mother smiled, deep wrinkles on her face appearing on her face, “Mum still needs to ask for one more to get more luck once the new year is over, and when you’re about to go to school again. Quick, wear this one. It’s still the same, wear it for three days, then take it off and hang it on the handle inside of your room.”
This was a token representing his mother’s care, so Lu Chu didn’t refuse, took it, and wore it around his neck.
On the twenty-third of the twelfth lunar month, each family started to get busier. That was when the new year was about to approach. There was a heavy snowfall, and the snow was so thick, that any adult would end up with snow up to their knees at every step.
A lot of people in the countryside paid attention to the new year, till the point where they would start getting busy from the year before. Even leading up to Chinese New Year’s Eve, there would still be many things they needed to do.
During the 30th, every household would choose not to turn off their lights all night, and keep it bright. This was to symbolise that they would have a smooth and bright year after that.
His mother had asked Lu Chu to take a small red candle about five to six centimetres tall and a handful of incense sticks, then light it up and place it into the incense basket in front of the different Gods. There was a lighter in Lu Chu’s pocket, and he followed according to what his mother had said and lit up the small candle and an incense stick, then inserted them in front of each portrait of the gods.
The Gods governing the Heavens and Earth, the Kitchen gods…… After making a round, there were only two sets of candle and incense left, and it was meant for the two Threshold Guardians.
Lu Chu’s home was on the outskirts of the village. There was a lot of farmland a little further north from them. Nobody lived on that vast expanse of land, so it looked quite creepy at night.
It was already dark at this time. Even though red paper lanterns were hanging in front of the doors of each house, and they were lit from the door to the courtyard entrance, all the other lights within the village were dim and yellow. Due to this, a dreary atmosphere could still be felt once they walked out of the courtyard.
The Lu Family worked together to shovel away the snow in front of their door and piled it to the side. A mischievous child they didn’t know had turned the piled up shovelled snow into a snowman. The snowman had tree branches as limbs, plastic buttons that had been removed from clothing as eyes, and a red cloth strip for lips. It was piled up in a quite crooked and ugly manner, till he could only vaguely tell that it was supposed to be a person.
Lu Chu squatted in front of the courtyard gate, with his back facing the street as he huddled in the corner between the gate and the courtyard wall. With his back blocking the chilly night breeze, he tried to light up the candle and incense in his hand.
A cold wind blew by, and Lu Chu was so cold he shivered. The candle that he had just lit went out.
Lu Chu didn’t mind that and went to light the candle again. Another gust of wind blew by, and once again the candle was extinguished.
He thought for a bit and prepared to light the incense first. An incense stick was different from a candle. As long as it was lit, even if the wind continued blowing intensely, it would only continue to burn more and more vigorously.
However, what Lu Chu didn’t expect was that the incense couldn’t be lit at all.
As another gust of wind blew by, Lu Chu stood up immediately and turned to face the street. With the incense, candle, and lighter held tightly in his hand, he looked warily towards the north side of the pathway in front of his house.
Since everybody’s houses were constructed to face the south, the neighbourhood called the neighbours that wereto their north as their ‘back’ neighbours and the ones to their south as their ‘front’ neighbours. For the houses within the village, as they needed to consider the terrain and the farmlands, some houses weren’t built in a regular rectangle shape. For instance, Lu Chu’s house was interlaced with their ‘back’ neighbours by five or six feet.
In this way, the path continued towards the back of the Lu family’s ‘back’ neighbour’s estate, before then turning past their house. This caused those who were standing on this side of the route to be unable to see what was happening towards the north.
Looking towards the north from where Lu Chu was standing, there wasn’t any other light or sounds, other than the dim glow of the red lantern. As he looked far away, his sight was hindered by the2脏东西, dirty thing. Another word for things that go bump in the night, aka ghosts. coming out from the corner of that trail.darkness of the night and the curved route, which made Lu Chu feel that there would always be some dirty thing
At this moment, gusts of winds blew over from the north, causing ‘whooshing’ sounds to echo in the alleyway. The lantern shone with dim red light, as its shadow that was cast on the ground swayed along with the wind.
In the next moment, Lu Chu felt a somewhat sticky coldness rush past his side, causing the papers pasted above the doors of each house to rustle loudly.
Lu Chu stared slightly as he unconsciously took a step back.
The depressing and strange feeling soon disappeared, and Lu Chu returned to his senses. He then looked at the two portraits of the Threshold Guardians Qin Qiong and Yuchi Gong3Menshen (门神) or threshold guardians are divine guardians of doors and gates in Chinese folk religions, used to protect against evil influences or to encourage the entrance of positive ones. Qin Qiong and Yuchi Gong are two common guardians used. on the door behind him, and for some reason, he felt calmer.
Afterward, Lu Chu went to light the incense stick and the candles, which could be easily lit this time.
It seemed that something did pass by just now.
Lu Chu glanced at the snowman that the children had piled up while they were playing, feeling that theblack button used to make the snowman’s eyes were particularly strange.
Mulling over it, he returned to the house, took out a shovel and flattened the snowman.
Once he finished demolishing the snowman, he returned to his room. His mother asked why he had been gone for such a long time. Lu Chu thought for a while, then told her everything that he had seen.
After his recount, Lu Chu asked, “Mum, do you think something dirty passed by?”
“Bah, bah, bah!” Mother Lu frowned and patted Lu Chu’s shoulder when she heard what he said, then placed her hands together and prayed a few times to the heavens, muttering, “knock on wood, knock on wood……”4Original: 百无禁忌. lit. Nothing is Taboo. An apotropaic charm said to neutralise any potential offenses that could have been committed. In this case, mentioning that ‘something’ passed by. Similar in meaning to ‘touch wood/knock on wood’, where it’s said or done to avoid tempting fate
After she finished chanting, she looked solemnly at Lu Chu and said, “Xiao Chu, Mum knows that you’ve studied a lot, and you always say something like…… believe in……. science? Yes, believe in science. But, in our village, everybody believes this. On New Year’s Eve, don’t speak nonsense and try not to provoke anything. Just now, who knows, it might be an immortal who passed by — for these sorts of things, as long as you don’t go and provoke them, they won’t mess with you.”
After listening to his mother’s words, Lu Chu knew that he wouldn’t be able to ask anything more for the time being, so he could only assure her that he wouldn’t speak about such nonsense again. Only then did his mother relax, and led him to the living room to have New Year’s Eve dinner and watch the New Year’s Gala.
After several days of wandering around and visiting relatives, the busy start of the year was finally over.
In no time at all, it was already the Lantern Festival, which was held on the 15th day of the first lunar month, and Lu Chu was about to start school again.
On this day, his mother brought another copper coin with a red thread. When Lu Chu saw this, he knew that this was the third copper coin that his mother had mentioned before. Hence, he didn’t think much about it before taking it to hang around his neck.
The instant the copper coin touched his body, a sudden chill caused Lu Chu to shiver.
Lu Chu touched the area where the copper coin was through his clothes. He didn’t know if it was some sort of psychological effect, but he felt that this copper coin was slightly colder than the first two.
His mother was already helping him make his bed — together with the new piece, there were already three pieces of red cloth that had been spread under Lu Chu.
Lu Chu looked at the bright red cloth and had a sudden inexplicable feeling that this situation was a little peculiar.
Soon, it was time for school to start, and Lu Chu also took the copper coin off his neck and gave it to his mother.
At night, as Lu Chu was about to take a shower, he noticed a red copper coin-shaped mark on his chest just as he took off his sweater — the imprint of where the copper coin had laid against his body.
Taken aback, Lu Chu used his hands to rub against the red mark, turning his otherwise fair skin so red until it was almost about to bleed. However, his actions did nothing other than make the mark even an even brighter shade of red.
They had a water heater at home, but because there wasn’t any heating in the bathroom, it was still very cold during the winter months. Lu Chu felt so cold that his hands and feet were numb. He stretched out his hand and turned the shower on, letting the hot water flow over his body to get rid of the chill. Under the flow of the water, Lu Chu continued to wipe against the birthmark-like red mark on his chest, but it seemed as if the mark had grown on his flesh, and couldn’t be erased no matter what.
Upon seeing this, Lu Chu tried to finish his shower as quickly as possible, then returned to his room. He turned the light on and sat on his bed as he pressed against the red mark and contemplated its origin.
Was it related to that copper coin? But why was there no reaction the first two times…
As he thought about it, Lu Chu suddenly felt a scorching heat at the place where the mark was on his chest. As if a fire had started from underneath his skin, it was so hot that his fingertips also began trembling.
Suddenly, the lights in the room went out, and the room fell into deep and complete darkness.
“Thump– Thump–” The sound of Lu Chu’s heart beating was particularly obvious in the silence and darkness.
A depressive feeling pressed down on him, and the red mark on Lu Chu’s chest no longer burned. Yet, he was forcedto lay down on the bed due to that oppressive feeling. It felt as if there were thousands of weights pressing down on him, and he couldn’t move the slightest no matter how much he struggled.
The shadow had no intention to harmhim but continued to approach him, turning on the lamp beside his bed in passing.
There was a sudden brightening of the room, causing Lu Chu to cover his eyes partially as he looked towards the spiritfloating above his body.
The spirit’s body was translucent, but even if he was, one could see that his thin lips and cheeks were gloomy and pale.However, this didn’t detract from the handsomeness of his face and the sharpness of his features. His slender form floated above Lu Chu, enveloping him entirely.
It was…… 7.
As soon as he saw 7’s appearance, Lu Chu instantly relaxed and looked at him. The sides of the eyebrows bent downunconsciously, and with a soft smile, he asked, “who are you?”
The side of 7’s lips curled up, “your guardian spirit.”