Chapter 13 – Seeing Ghosts with an Ox’s Tears
Li Fugui said, “This is a blade forged from hundred-folded steel I bought from the Arsenal of Arms.” He was not an idiot. How could his wife’s death not affect him, and how could he not develop any hatred for the witch? This blade was evidence, evidence that he was still a man.
However, he was still a regular farmer at the end of the day. One side was alcohol and the other side was a blade, but he never managed to make up his mind to lift the blade. Instead, he passed each day drunk and dejected. In the end, he discovered he even lacked the strength to wield the blade. However, he had always kept it. He never exchanged it for alcohol.
Li Fugui thought of the past and became covered in tears. “I don’t have the courage to sell this blade, nor do I want to sell it. If I sell it, I have nothing.”
Li Qingshan’s emotions surged, but he showed none of it. He silently sheathed the blade again. “If you trust me, then give the blade to me. I will definitely settle this matter.”
Li Fugui turned around and waved his hand. Li Qingshan made his way out of the courtyard and walked rapidly. He was tempted to just go up and cut down the witch. Only when he returned to his house and practised a little did he manage to calm down.
“What level of ability do you need to control ghosts? How does it compare to my Strength of Nine Oxen and Two Tigers?”
“The powerful can be revered by a myriad of ghosts, claiming the title of emperor of ghosts, able to associate with gods and demons. The weak can only harass some ordinary people, not only bringing no benefit to themselves, but even bringing detriments instead. Yin qi will eat away at their bodies, leading to a clouded mind and eccentricity.”
“The witch is obviously the latter.” Li Qingshan eased up. Such a situation was what he had been anticipating as well, or the witch would have never taken so long to seek revenge after he kicked her to the ground.
“But don’t underestimate him. A ghost you cannot see can easily catch you off-guard.”
Li Qingshan came up with an idea. “Brother ox, I’ve heard that it’s possible to see ghosts if you drip the tears of cows into your eyes. Is it true?”
“Don’t look at me. This old ox has never shed any tears before.”
“They say a man sheds no tears, but that’s only when they’re not grief-stricken. Brother ox, haven’t you ever been grief-stricken before?”
The black ox turned away its head and began to ignore him.
Li Qingshan knew that brother ox truly possessed the stubbornness of an ox, so he did not say anything more. Over the past few days, they had conversed quite a lot. He could sense the black ox’s intentions to a certain degree. It did not want Li Qingshan to rely on it. He had his own path to walk. He had to handle his own matters.
Around sunset, the black ox suddenly handed a small, porcelain bottle to Li Qingshan. It did not provide any explanation and left straight through the gate, climbing up the Crouching Ox hill and gazing at the myriad mountains below the setting sun.
Li Qingshan opened the bottle and looked inside. There was a transparent, bluish liquid inside. He realised what it was and smiled brilliantly, thanking the black ox while looking at its back. He dipped a stalk of wormwood into the bottle and carefully dripped the liquid into his two eyes.
He felt nothing at the beginning, but afterwards, his eyes became hotter and hotter, swelling and becoming burning-hot. If it were not for the difficult training he had gone through in the past few days, he basically would have cried out in pain.
In a house of brick and tiles covered in smoke, a group of outsiders who had come to have their fortunes told watched in stupefaction as a piece of talisman paper flew up in the air before suddenly lighting on fire. It even burned with blue flames.
What they could not see was a pale-faced child holding up the talisman paper strenuously. All they did was lower their heads and hand all of their silver and money to the witch out of fear and awe before backing away.
The witch carefully accepted the money, and her expression suddenly twisted. “What’s the matter? Why is Li Er still alive? Have you been slacking off when you handled it? Do I have to teach you a lesson?”
The child’s stiff and blank face revealed fear as well, and he shook his head desperately.
The witch suddenly lifted the bell in her hand, and the child rampaged through the house in pain with gusts of chilling wind, dispersing the curling smoke.
Only after quite a while did the witch place down her bell. “Good, listen to granny. Granny would never treat you badly.” She handed an embroidery needle that was as thin as a strand of hair to the child. “Take this and stab out his eyes.”
The child held the needle with great difficulty and flew towards the Crouching Ox hill with the night wind.
In the gathering darkness, Li Qingshan continued to meditate with his eyes closed in the courtyard.
The child walked over and lifted the needle, slowly stabbing it towards Li Qingshan’s eyes. An ordinary person would only see a needle flying through the air. Moreover, with how thin the needle was, it was almost impossible to see it during the day, let alone during the night.
Li Qingshan seemed to sense something, and his eyes snapped open. He ignored the needle that was only inches away and stared into the child’s pitch-black pupils with his sharp gaze. “What are you trying to do?” His eyes shone brightly like two balls of flames.
Around nightfall, just as Li Qingshan was in pain, the strand of almost non-existent qi suddenly began to flow. It flowed to his eyes, and the pain immediately lessened significantly.
By the time the scorching pain had vanished, a cool sensation filled his eyes, which he found to be extremely pleasant. It was also at this moment that he suddenly experienced an omen of warning, so he opened his eyes. He happened to see the little ghost from last night, holding the needle right in front of him.
He was also surprised, experiencing some lingering fear from what had happened yesterday. Originally, he thought the witch would just use some evil schemes and that she would never confront him directly. It was not like the little ghost’s yin qi could harm him, so he could afford to be careless and underestimate this opponent. However, if it were not for the fact that he could suddenly see ghosts, he might have fallen for the sneak attack and lost his eyes, which would have made him worse off than just trying to kill her off nice and early.
The child was even more surprised. Having been glared at by Li Qingshan, he trembled all over and dropped the needle, drifting far away to avoid him.
Li Qingshan studied the little ghost carefully and discovered that he was only six or seven years old. His facial features were extremely delicate. If it were not for his overly-pale face, he really would have seemed pure and innocent. He wore robes made from silk, which should have been his attire before death. He did not seem like a ghost under control; he looked more like a little young master of a large clan.
Seeing how Li Qingshan could actually see him, the child immediately became afraid of approaching him, but he was also afraid of failing the mission and being punished by the witch, so he dared not leave. He froze up there.
Li Qingshan no longer felt any fear. Invisible things were always the most terrifying. Now that he could see it all clearly, he discovered that the little ghost was even more afraid than him. As a result, he asked, “What’s your name? Where do you come from?”
However, no matter how he asked, the child never replied with his dull face. Li Qingshan thought of something. “You can’t speak?”
The child hesitated for a while before nodding.
Li Qingshan thought about how this child was only being used by the witch. He had passed away unfortunately at such a young age, and perhaps the witch was behind his death as well. As a result, Li Qingshan felt rather sympathetic, and his tone warmed up slightly.
“You stuck to me so close last night, so what’re you hiding for now? Come over here. There are things I want to ask you.”
The child saw how his expression was no longer as frightening and took a few steps forward like a timid little animal.
Li Qingshan asked, “Since you can’t speak, then you can nod or shake your head to answer me. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
The child nodded.
A man and a ghost began to communicate with each other just like this.