The large black dog that was hiding behind the courtyard wall heard the voice that had been carried by the wind. “Hey,” he said, “she still remembers me.”
Lin Mu turned his head to look at him and nodded, “en.”
“She still remembers.” Da Hei said again, then smacked his lips, “she really is a very good person.”
The Old Lady was a very kind person.
When Da Hei was still a puppy, he was abandoned by someone outside the neighbourhood’s walls during winter, and was simply placed in a cardboard box. The rest of the puppies in his litter had frozen to death, and he was dying.
Fortunately, he was picked up by a passing girl, carefully treated and cared for, smoothly grew up, and even had great luck in gaining spiritual wisdom.
Those times were the most worry-free days that Da Hei had in his memories.
The girl who had picked him up turned from a student into a teacher, had a family and children, and Da Hei also muddled his way to old age.
He did not realise that he gained spiritual wisdom, and was not aware of his special nature.
There were a lot of creatures who had gained spiritual wisdom without having the knowledge of doing so, and most of them encountered difficulties and died like they were fated to.
Da Hei also never realised. At that time, all he wanted was to stay with her, and stay with her. Day by day he lived in this manner, unwilling to leave.
Later, his owner was in danger and was lying in the hospital. On the brink of the crisis, Da Hei was thinking about he could repay her for the was she saved his life, and suddenly awakened. Using his talent as a large male dog, he quietly followed several ghosts to the netherworld and snatched back the old lady’s soul, but he ended up being caught by the messengers and was arrested for his sins.
Da Hei suffered and endured in the underworld for more than sixty years and accidentally gained spiritual awareness. By the time he was released and returned, the old lady had gone gray-haired with grandchildren surrounding her.
The old lady’s children were all successful and had great careers. They had eventually decided to graduate abroad and make a family there, and the old lady had no opinion, but wasn’t willing to follow.
“Did you know, she kept the little clothes that she had made for me that year, and seriously gave a me a memorial tablet, taking the day that she woke up in the hospital as my death anniversary. Every year on that day, she would place a bowl of pork in front of it.” Da Hei paused, “in the past, she would always scold me for stealing it.”
Lin Mu looked at the large black dog next to his foot and did not speak.
“Later, someone had asked her why she would give a dog a memorial table.” Da Hei smacked his lips, “she said, ‘that year, it was Da Hei that took the disaster for me, I lived, yet Da Hei died.'”
The old lady occasionally talked about the netherworld’s gate, the road to the netherworld , the Bridge of Helplessness on the River of Forgetfulness.
She said along the bridge there were a lot of small white flowers, and at midnight, these flowers would make a ‘whoosh’ sound and burn up, burning those wandering ghosts. It would turn the River of Forgetfulness into a sea of green fire, turning the dark road to the netherworld as bright as day.
After midnight, those flowers would have burnt out, and the ashes fell back onto the shore re-grew with vigour.
Not many people took these words seriously, but Da Hei who was secretly watching the old lady, was extremely happy.
The old lady still remembered him.
Remembered him until now.
“She still remembers me, remembers walking across the netherworld’s gate.”
Da Hei turned back and glanced at the place where they had just stood, where the potted Morning Dusk had been taken into the courtyard.
“Her time is up, and I feel she should say her farewells amongst her lively family and students, right?”
Lin Mu nodded, and said, “you’re quite tactful in expressing yourself.”
“If I can be tactful, of course I’ll be tactful,” Da Hei muttered, “if I said straight to her face that she was going to die, and told her to quickly call her children back, I wouldn’t blame her for getting mad.”
“There are still many other methods.” Lin Mu said.
“But this is the only secret she and I know.” Da Hei asked, “don’t you think this is romantic?”
Lin Mu: “……”
Didn’t really understand you monsters.
Da Hei also didn’t really wanted to be understood. He stayed silent for a while and said, “she’s going to forget me.”
“After she dies, it wouldn’t even take three days for her to cross the Bridge of Helplessness, drink Meng Po’s soup, and she won’t remember me anymore.” Da Hei rambled on, “ay1Aka ‘Alas’, or a sigh.
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E5%94%89, why is a human’s lifespan so short……”
Da Hei said and stopped, then looked up towards Lin Mu.
Lin Mu lowered his head to look at him.
Da Hei opened his mouth, and suddenly realized that he had said the wrong thing again.
“Ay……” He made a short sound, then silently picked up his leash and handed it to Lin Mu.
Lin Mu took the leash and walked back to the office with Da Hei.
He didn’t actually mind what Da Hei said, because it was the truth. His mother had died many years ago, and it wasn’t some sort of untouchable scar.
It was just that after hearing so much today, Lin Mu couldn’t help but get a little curious about the father that his mother hadn’t mentioned at all.
Since monsters often didn’t get along with humans, then what kind of feelings did his father and mother have towards each other? Of course, it could had just been a one-night stand, and his beloved mother could have trapped his unnamed father, or his unnamed father could have ruined his innocent mother.
But out of respect for the most basic blood relation, Lin Mu still defaulted to the ideal that his mother and father were together happily and had him.
Lin Mu gently pulled the handle in the leash and asked, “Da Hei, is there any way that monsters can check their bloodline?”
“Ah?” Da Hei turned his head and whispered, “there is, but it’s only those who belong to ancient heritages that knows how to, wild monsters like us wouldn’t know.”
Lin Mu nodded his head, slightly disappointed.
Da Hei understood what he meant — Lin Mu probably wanted to know what kind of demon he was.
But Da Hei couldn’t help, and could only comfort Lin Mu, and when Lin Mu was ready to return, Da Hei gave a whole bag of Morning Dusk seeds to him.
“Anyway, out of all the monsters and humans, you are the only one I know that can plant this. You’re the one chosen by the heavens.” Da Hei gave Lin Mu the flowers and told him, “you plant these in a circle outside your home, to protect against monsters, demons, fierce ghosts. As long as any demons, ghosts, spirits or monsters that had committed evil deeds dared to get close, they would be cleanly burnt up by the Morning Dusk. Every midnight, when demons, ghosts, spirits, or monsters are the strongest, it works the best.”
Lin Mu had wanted to refuse, but after hearing what Da Hei said, simply accepted it.
In the past, when he didn’t know there were supernatural creatures, those little things that were used to deal with humans were naturally enough. However, now that he knew there were all sorts of strange things, those little things weren’t sufficient.
For the sake of safety, Lin Mu needed to prepare such things.
Lin Mu ate outside, and returned home with a bag of Morning Dusk seeds.
As soon as he got home, he sprinkled the bag of Morning Dusk seeds outside the bamboo fence. Not long after, fine and delicate little white flowers grew out, hidden in the vines, occasionally peeping out with the help of a breeze.
Braving the scorching sun, Lin Mu took several potted plants that should be moved indoors back into his ventilated house, watched the empty house for a while, and then turned to attic.
The attic was the place his mother had used to pile up miscellaneous items, later, Lin Mu also used it to store miscellaneous items.
It would take some trouble to organise it.
Especially when dealing with his mother’s funeral, Lin Mu felt so miserable that almost nothing within the house had been moved. Up until now, everything still remained the same. His mother’s room and workshop on the second floor were also regularly cleaned and left untouched.
It was just that some paper items were always hard to preserve, and gradually turned yellow and faded.
Lin Mu spent the whole afternoon sorting out the attic again, and found three notebooks and a folder that might be useful in the attic.
He wiped the dust from the books, stood silently on the second floor corridor for a while, and finally turned to the workshop belonging to his mother.
The lighting in the workshop was very good, and the windows were clear.
The setting sun shone into the room, letting out a beam of light. Dust was floating slowly and comfortably, yet there was a dark silence despite the blue and clear sky.
On the table had a pencil box and several stacks of materials, and next to it was a bookcase full of books. There was also a map of the world on the wall, with lots of notes and printed out photos on it.
Lin Mu turned on the light, immediately saw a picture pressed under the glass of the desk.
It was his mother holding a hose, trying to get a dusty Samoyed to bath.
Lin Mu knew this Samoyed, it was raised by his mother’s mentor, called Milky2奶糖 (Nǎi táng) lit. Mily Candy/Toffee. Milky because it’s a common pet name for those really white ones. While toffee can be white, it’s generally a brown/caramelised colour..
Last year, he had died.
This mentor had taken care of Lin Mu’s business and was an old customer. Many customers had been introduced through this teacher.
Lin Mu looked at that picture for a long while and suddenly felt that it was quite lonely living as a single person living in a house with two floors and a large courtyard. His eyes swept across his mother who was happily smiling, and decided to go to a pet shop in a few days to see if any puppies made eye contact with him.
Preferably a Samoyed.
Lin Mu thought so, and just as he sat down to open his newly gained notebook, his phone next to him sent a orange-coded message of a rainstorm warning that night3 There’s different warnings in China about the level of rain, from the light rains that only need an umbrella to possible mudslides. http://www.cma.gov.cn/en2014/weather/Warnings/WarningSignals/201409/t20140919_261778.html.
Lin Mu paused, opened the window and smelled the earthy smell of moist soil underneath the dark sky. Thick, heavy clouds were rolling across the sky, and there were a few flashes of lightning.
It seemed that a rainstorm was coming.
Lin Mu looked at the potted plants that were treated well in the courtyard, quickly shoved his phone in his pocket, ran downstairs and hurriedly moved the less water-resistant plants into the house. He took a few wooden poles and some waterproof tarps to step up a rain shelter in the yard.
But Lin Mu’s actions were a little slow.
The curtain of rain poured down without warning, and raindrops as large as beans fell onto people with a crack.
Lin Mu went back into the house and put on a raincoat. Under a heavy curtain of rain that would make one unable to raise their head, he set up a shelter for the potted plants in the yard.
— But one was still left.
The raincoat couldn’t withstand the heavy rain, and Lin Mu was already soaked through, covered in rainwater.
Lin Mu took in a deep breath and went back into the house to take a few more wooden poles. Just as he wrapped a tarp around two poles, the delicate white flowers planted in a circle outside the yard made a ‘whoosh’ sound altogether, and flared up despite of the rain.
Lin Mu was startled, and through the thick rain that made everything blurry, he faintly saw the green flames burning outside. He hurriedly stepped back and suddenly kicked a soft object with his feet.
He lowered his head, and made eye-contact with a blood-stained dog on a ground.