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Over ten people had died, and at this point, it was unclear whether the murderer was a human or a ghost. The commonfolk believed that this was a punishment from the river gods, all terrified senseless. Even Magistrate He was influenced by it, but Tang Fan and the rest were standing at an investigative viewpoint; they would not think about things from that perspective, else the case would never get looked into at all, were they to directly report to the Court that the supernatural was afoot.
They also didn’t want to lose the black hats on their heads, of course.
“Since there were thieves’ caves at the imperial tombs, this is surely related to grave robbers,” Tang Fan said. “Has not even one thief been caught, after all this time?”
“After the incident with the former village chief, no one dares to go over there at night anymore,” Magistrate He answered. “This humble official once brought several people along to check all around the thief caves and tombs during the daytime, but nothing was discovered. No one wanted to descend the caves at first, so I had no choice but to put out a monetary reward, as only then would a few willing to go down. However, they came back up not long after, saying that the caves had been dug too deeply, and went all the way down into pitch-black darkness. They couldn’t see where they were going, nor where anything led to, so they were too afraid to go far. After that, I brought up compensation a few more times, and some still were willing to search, but…”
He mumbled for a bit, then finally said, “But they never came back up.”
The lively mood of the dinner gradually cooled down. Everyone was shaken by the Magistrate’s description.
Those details had not been written about in the memorials presented, but Tang Fan could understand why. These events were ultimately much too strange, and would have been difficult to clearly describe in those scant words, since memorials required the use of concise phrasing. There was no way every little thing could have been jotted down in it.
Still, they had all come from the faraway capital to investigate this, so they definitely needed to find the truth, for truth’s sake. It was simply that — according to Magistrate He’s words — this case was complex and dangerous, which likely far exceeded their original expectations.
Even Yin Yuanhua, who had deliberately planned to come and steal the credit, was having some regrets at his own insistence.
Magistrate He looked at Tang Fan with anxiety, fearing that he would reproach him for not writing all this clearly in the memorial. It was only after he saw that the other didn’t have any intention to blame him that he relaxed a little. The very next instant, he heard him ask, “How far is Luo River Village from here?”
“Not far, only about ten li out from the county capital.”
“As that’s so, we’ll head over once we’re done eating, and simply spend the night there.”
Magistrate He was completely dumbstruck. “Um?”
“What is it?”
The Magistrate snapped out of it. “Th-that won’t do, is all. The village is simple, and I’m afraid that it will fall short of your preferences. Moreover, in the middle of their nights—“
“That is precisely the reason,” Tang Fan intercepted. “Did you not say that the wailing started up again recently? We’re just in time to go over for a look and see what divinity is actually there, then. Would we even be able to find anything during the day, otherwise?” He then looked at Sui Zhou. “What’s your view on this, Brother Guangchuan?”
The other nodded. “Sir Tang’s words ring true. We brothers of the Brocade Guard have no comment.”
Of course the Guard wouldn’t have any comments. None of this had been too grueling thus far, as hurrying on during the daytime and sleeping at night belonged to their ‘typical abroad assignment’ category, in their opinions. When Sui Zhou had investigated Huang Jinglong’s case, things had been way harder than this, as they had needed to keep away from their counterpart’s eyes and ears, hide in the day and come out in the night, and travel at double speed on their journeys.
For the civil officials, however, this was a bit unbearable. For Yin Yuanhua, it was especially so; upon hearing this, he more or less wanted to pass out and die. “Sir, we’ve only just arrived! Let us rest for a night here. Speaking more on this tomorrow wouldn’t be too late for it, yes?”
Tang Fan was a benevolent boss. “Since you don’t have the sufficient strength, Brother Yin, you can just rest in the city. I will go with the Bastion Envoy’s group.”
Yin Yuanhua had suffered through a lot to go from the capital to Gong County. Was that not to steal the credit, and snatch some blackmail material on Tang Fan while he was at it? If he wouldn’t be allowed to participate in the investigation, then what would the point of him staking everything to come here be?
He knew that Tang Fan very clearly didn’t want to let him come with, even throwing sarcastic remarks at him, and had no choice but to force a smile. “How could I do that? This humble official has my duties, so what reason would there be in making you forge on ahead by yourself, Sir? Please allow me to come with you!”
“If you’re not feeling well, don’t force yourself,” Tang Fan answered amicably. “Recovering from your sickness is important. I can handle everything.”
You’re the sick one! Your entire family is sick!
Yin Yuanhua was about to crack his teeth open while obliged to show a moved expression. “You may have empathy, but how could I let you face danger alone with peace of mind? I will be at ease accompanying you.”
Seeing that he was persistent about it, Tang Fan nodded. “It’s up to you, then. Pay attention to your own self, and if you can’t go on, let me know.”
Magistrate He knew nothing about the clash between these two, thinking about how Mister Yin was indeed an imperial ambassador from the capital, to stake it all like this; he had thrown up so hard, yet was still solely focused on his assignment.
With Yin Yuanhua being insistent on coming with, what reason would there be for the two clerks, Cheng Wen and Tian Xuan, to not? The whole group had eaten its fill, and now headed for Luo River Village under the Magistrate’s directions.
The County Deputy’s group took the preemptive step in getting lodging ready for these gentlemen. The village was ultimately inferior to the city, and with these many people charging into it, they weren’t even sure if enough space to stay in could be vacated.
The distance between the city and the village wasn’t long, so no one took their horses, switching them out for litters. The Guards’ steeds were left in the posthouse’s care, deserving of a nice break for coming out this far.
The feeling of being in a litter differed from riding a horse. Sitting atop a thick, soft cushion with a sway beneath his body, Tang Fan was so comfortable, he nearly dozed off.
Actually, he did doze off. And he slept until someone gently patted him awake.
“We’re here,” Sui Zhou said to him, upper half leaning into the litter.
This was a public area, in the end, and Yin Yuanhua and the rest were here; it would be bad for them to be too blatant in showing off their friendship, so even the way they spoke to each other had to be within standards.
Tang Fan smiled at him, stretching his back. He felt a little more energetic, but his physical exhaustion had only become all the more apparent, which made him itch to fall back asleep. Forcefully restraining this desire, the second he stepped off the litter, he was the peppy imperial ambassador once more.
This assignment was not only a major make-or-break point for his personal career path, but also related to the paths of wealth and promotion for others. As the lead envoy, he had to take all those below him into consideration, and not act too arbitrarily.
Like tonight, for example; leaving aside those like Yin Yuanhua, who were in a pit of carriagesick misery, the Guards like Pang Qi were eager to establish merits, and really looked forward to coming over here and checking things out immediately. Sui Zhou could curtail them, but after thinking about this from the other’s standpoint, Tang Fan didn’t want to make things harder for him.
At this time, night was just descending, the sky not entirely darkened yet. Beneath its gray-blue color, everyone took in the sight of Luo River Village at last.
It wasn’t a big place, but it also wasn’t small, as it was both close to Gong County and positioned along the edge of the Luo. Many residents of the city originated from here, too. All the comings and goings smoothed out the roads here, resulting it being comparatively prosperous.
Still, villages were villages. There was no way it could have a glamorous posthouse like the city did, which resulted in the County Deputy coming over to report with a face full of embarrassment. “Ambassadors, this is a crude village inferior to the city. It was hard to find many houses. I barely managed to gather up a few for your temporary use in rest, but, in this way, I’m afraid you’ll all need to be wronged with sharing. How do you see this…?”
The houses had been emptied ad hoc, after the Deputy had asked a few villagers to go stay with neighbors or relatives.
Tang Fan, obviously, had no opinion on this. “How many houses are there in total?”
“Nine. I specially arranged them so that they’re all linked together.”
“Thank you for your toil,” Tang Fan praised. “That’ll do, then.”
The Deputy had been worried about getting reprimanded, yet received commendation instead. He was pretty much over the moon.
“I’ll share one with Guangchuan. Brother Yin, Cheng Wen, and Tian Xuan will be together. The rest of you will pair up according to Guangchuan’s orders.”
Sui Zhou took the Guards to allocate them into the remaining seven houses. Some were bigger, and some smaller; Tang Fan and Sui Zhou shared everything normally, making staying in a small room and sharing a bed to sleep no big deals. No one had come here to have fun, anyways, so cramming in together would be fine.
The trio of Yin Yuanhua and the two clerks were given a big house, which had an inner and an outer room. Yin Yuanhua got the inner to sleep in, and the clerks got the outer.
The Guards were much easier to arrange for. They were all tough guys, and when given a spot and a blanket, they could sleep wherever, less picky when out of their own homes.
“If you aren’t in a rush to get back, you may as well take us to visit the former village chief,” Tang Fan said to Magistrate He, once the homes were divided up. He saw that the other was hesitating, though, and kept stopping himself from speaking. “Is there a problem with that?”
Magistrate He smiled painfully. “It isn’t that I’m intentionally beating around the bush, Sir. After he pulled through that previous fright, the chief will appear to be just fine in normal times, but whenever anyone brings up the events of that night, he’ll just babble the same words over and over again to the point where nothing can be asked out of him. Also…”
“It’s soon about to be night. Why not… why not do it tomorrow?”
As soon as the man said this, Tang Fan then noticed that it was not only him, but even the Deputy’s group that looked fearful.
Previously, Magistrate He had sworn that only commoners believed in the supernatural acting up, but his current hesitation showed that he, too, had apprehensions.
Not far away, the sound of Luo’s water gurgled past, heading straight towards the Yellow River in the Northeast. It wasn’t as violently churning as the latter, but it still flowed in a rapid torrent, its surface wide enough for boats to sail on it, some vegetation on either of its shores. Looking at it during daytime would certainly give a nice view of lush greenery and low-hanging mist, but it was too late for that now. Everything was dark, the attacking evening wind making it much colder than the day; those wearing less would involuntarily shudder.
This river right in front of them didn’t look in any way like it had swallowed up so many people, but Tang Fan might have gotten infected by the emotions of the Magistrate and them. When he viewed it from a high distance, he felt that beneath its rolling water, there might be many hardly-known dangers hidden deep within.
As the others were this nervous, he didn’t force them. “Very well. Point the way to the chief’s residence, leave a few people behind that are familiar with the terrain to correlate, then return home.”
Magistrate He was indeed a bit scared, so he looked at the Deputy; the latter was contrarily of the mind to curry favor with these ambassadors, and thus volunteered on his own. “This humble official is willing to stay and show you all the way.”
Since the Deputy was willing, the Magistrate got antsy. He left a further two bailiffs behind for orders, after which he admitted his faults to Tang Fan’s group, got in a litter, and hurried off.
Magistrate He did things overcautiously and indecisively. Were he an ordinary person, that would have been fine, but he was an appointed Dynasty official. He should have taken at least some responsibility, even if only for his own prospects, but since he refused to go all out, he was destined to never go far in officialdom. Even so, Tang Fan did not admonish him; the most important thing right now was to investigate the case, which the Magistrate had little connection with. Him staying behind wouldn’t have made any difference.
In contrast, County Deputy Zhao was more enthusiastic. Following his introduction, Tang Fan’s group learned that the current chief of the village was the former chief’s son; because the old chief had always been prestigious and willing to put himself out there for the villagers’ sake, yet had met with such a mishap, everyone had elected for his eldest son to be the new chief. The old chief now lived with that son.
Under Deputy Zhao’s guidance, they arrived at the chief’s home. Their counterpart had previously heard that major figures had arrived in the county, but he hadn’t dared to rashly come out and bother them without Magistrate He’s orders. Now that he was seeing the imperial ambassadors arrive in person, he hurriedly went to welcome them while the neighbors all became alarmed, this typically serene village turning to chaos for a good burst of time. His tiny house couldn’t cram too many people inside it, so Tang Fan had Pang Qi keep watch outside with the others whilst he himself entered with Sui Zhou, Yin Yuanhua, and the clerks.
The chief’s eldest son was currently over forty, with the surname Liu. He was a down-to-earth and honest fellow. Once he heard Tang Fan’s intent in coming there, he went in and asked the old chief to come out, then bowed in humble apology to them all. “My father is currently a bit disorganized in speech. At times, he cannot be heard clearly. Please do not blame him, Lords!”
“You don’t need to fret,” Tang Fan said warmly. “We’ll simply ask a few things, then leave, though I’m afraid we’ll be a bother here for a few days. total”
Chief Liu was presumably a bit experienced, as though he was fearfully respectful, his words didn’t lack in manners. He smiled good-naturedly. “It is this chief’s honor that you noblemen grace us. How could you ever be a bother? This village is too crude, so I’m afraid that it’s you all who will be wronged.”
While they spoke, the old chief was listening nearby. He seemed placid, hands slowly rubbing together, and looked no different from an ordinary person, but when Tang Fan brought up that one night, his expression suddenly went a little disturbed. Body slightly trembling, his mouth opened and closed, as if he wanted to say something.
“Dad, this is the high official that the Court sent to investigate the case,” Chief Liu said to him. “Can you tell these gentlemen what actually happened that night, now?”
The old chief shook his head over and over again. “I can’t! I can’t! Divine wrath will come!”
“Don’t be afraid, dad. These officials are all celestial messengers that ghosts don’t dare to get near to. Didn’t you say that you saw river gods? What happened?”
The man sighed. “Noble lords, it isn’t that this little old man refuses to speak, but that I really don’t want to watch all of you go to your deaths! On that night, I clearly saw gods come out of the river — the few that went to dig out the tombs got dragged in all at once, with not even bones left behind!”
That part of the story had not been mentioned by Magistrate He. “You all saw robbers beforehand?”
The old chief nodded. “Yes. They were carrying shovels to go dig up graves, and when we ran into them, they tried to escape, so we chased, chased them all the way to the river’s edge, and then…” Recalling the situation from that night, he appeared to be ensnared with fear, shortly becoming incoherent again. “And then we ran into ghosts! There were ghosts, so many ghosts…”
Look at that. He had just said it’d been river gods, and now he was back to saying it’d been ghosts!
Tang Fan, Sui Zhou, and the rest of them exchanged looks.
“Dad, what are you even talking about?!” Chief Liu had to say.
The old man shivered, face contorting like he had seen something unbelievably awful. As he shook his head, he shrank his entire body into the corner, tears rolling down from his turbid eyes. “Liu’s Little Six had half of his body bitten off. His upper half was still on the shore, digging in with his fingernails as he laid on his stomach, crying and shouting constantly, asking us to save him… Bailiff Zhou ran over, grabbed his hand, and tried to pull him up, but if it wasn’t for me catching him, he would have been dragged down, too… then, we all saw that there was something in the river…”
“What was it?” Tang Fan chased.
“River gods! The river gods!”
He felt like there was no being serious with an elder like this. Just as the Magistrate had said, everything that came out of his mouth was disjointed; the first halves of his sentences might be fairly organized, but the half after that would be rubbish again, making it hard to tell truth from fiction.
As they already weren’t getting anything out of him, Tang Fan turned to Sui Zhou. “Do you have anything you want to ask, Brother Guangchuan?”
The other lightly shook his head.
Yin Yuanhua was the one to want to ask something different from the crowd. “Did you see what the river gods looked like?”
The old chief paused a bit, and then his teeth chattered. Chief Liu quickly stepped forward to support him. “Dad, what’s wrong with you?!” he asked, worried.
Unexpectedly, the old man just started trembling all the more violently, suddenly pushing Chief Liu’s hand away and shrinking straight into the corner of the kang.
Helpless, Chief Liu had to plead with Tang Fan. “Sir, with my father like this, there’s really nothing he’ll be able to say. Can you ask again later?”
Sensing his own loss of face, Yin Yuanhua couldn’t help but glare at the old guy; and yet, he happened to see the other’s head raise, the terror and desperation in that gaze reaching the extreme, and with them, a plea. It made him feel cold all over, and he promptly refused to lock eyes with him, shifting his line of sight away.
Tang Fan got up, told Chief Liu to look after his father well, then left with everyone else.
Behind him, the old chief muttered to himself. “Don’t go, don’t ever go, there’s ghosts there, ghosts, so many ghosts, ghosts all over the place…”
Tang Fan couldn’t resist glancing back, but the old man had since lowered his head, skull leaning against the wall. He didn’t spare them a glance.
Once outside of the Liu home, it was still the same shichen. Tang Fan ordered everyone to return to their respective homes that had been temporarily vacated for them and get ready for sleep.
Speaking of, Deputy Zhao was indeed much more considerate than Magistrate He, having prepped even hot water and facecloths. Out of fear of not being attentive enough, while Tang Fan and them had gone to the Liu’s for questioning, he’d had people go buy some treats from the city for here. Now, the pot of tea on the table was still piping hot — the tea set was simple, but as soon as the aroma hit Tang Fan’s nose, he could tell that this was good, authentic tea.
“Magistrate He feared death and insisted upon going back ahead of time, yet Deputy Zhao stayed behind on his own initiative. His consideration and thoughtfulness is as different as the sky and the ground!” Tang Fan shook his head, pouring cups of tea for Sui Zhou and himself.
“He’s only wanting you to go back and help him with putting a few good words in for him. People go for higher ground; likely no one wants to be a County Deputy all their lives.” Sui Zhou spread out the clean bandages he had taken from Pang Qi, applying the ointment to them that he himself had brought. “Come here.”
Glimpsing the stuff in his hand, Tang Fan couldn’t help but laugh dryly. “I’ve been bandaged for so many days, don’t you know? They should be pretty much fine. There’s no need to wrap them up again, since it’s so awkward.”
“I told you to come here, so come here.” Sui Zhou was cold-faced. “Shouldn’t you know whether they’re ‘fine’ or not?”
They weren’t fine, of course. Tang Fan could only look defeated as he slowly walked on over.
“Lay down, take off your pants, and lift your robes up.”
That sounded ambiguous. If anyone was passing by outside right now, they would probably misunderstand something.
But, in truth, that was not what was going on at all.
Tang Fan’s physical aptitude was no stronger than Yin Yuanhua and the other twos’. Riding a horse for however many days had been unbearable, but going in a carriage would have been even worse; just look at how Yin Yuanhua had thrown up so badly, and one would know. In comparison, horseback riding hurt only the butt and the thighs, rather than the whole body. Concerning the right choice to make, as the highest leader of this expedition, Sir Tang had preferred to suffer a little, since he absolutely could not be like Yin Yuanhua, where all of his refinedness was swept to the floor.
This was what was called living with hardship in order to die with dignity.
His butt was fine, as the relatively thicker skin there had been unaffected by the bumps. The main problem was that his inner thighs had been incessantly chafed and jolted in the process of being on the horse, forming blisters that had bust open and bled afterwards. These injuries needed to have medicine applied to them. At the onset, Tang Fan had been too embarrassed to speak of them on account of his dignity, which had gone until Sui Zhou had forced him to apply medicine to them.
Changing his dressings every night had now become the thing Mister Tang was most reluctant to do. If he had the choice, he would probably prefer to go have a friendly confrontation with Luo’s ‘river gods’ than lie on his back — legs spread, pants off, robes lifted up — to allow Sui Zhou to wrap the new gauze over the affected areas.
Even though everyone was a man here that had what they should have and didn’t have what they shouldn’t, he was still uncomfortable, staring at the roofbeams above his head and acting like his mind was wandering to cover up his own real embarrassment.
Sui Zhou seemed to be able to see his internal thoughts. On the inside, he thought this was hilarious, but on the outside, he was as expressionless as ever. He looped the bandages around a few times, then glanced at the other’s crotch with feigned incidence. “It’s not a bad size,” he said blandly.
Ignore Tang Fan pretending to be dead; his attention was still entirely present. The instant the man’s words entered his ears, he immediately went red, fuming. “How bold you are, to have the guts to nitpick the looks of an imperial ambassador! Do you want to die?!”
Sui Zhou gave a grunt. “I’m an ambassador, too.”
“You’re the deputy, I’m the lead! Don’t talk crap — take your clothes off, and let this official comment on you myself!”
“Are you sure you want to see?”
“Of course I am!”
He had thought that Sui Zhou would find an excuse to refuse, but, against expectations, the other bombastically stood up and went to remove the belt from his pants without another word.
“Nevermind, nevermind!” Tang Fan quickly said. “I know you’re younger than me, so it wouldn’t be good if your ego gets injured. All men want to save face, which I’ll allow you to do this time around.”
“It’s alright. I don’t mind.”
Sui Zhou genuinely only wanted to tease Tang Fan; he wasn’t actually that stupid. Seeing that Sir Tang was on his way to puffing up his fur, he stopped, then brought the pastry dish over, picked up one piece, and put it next to Tang Fan’s lips himself.
Beneath the dim candlelight, Tang Fan couldn’t see how the sour jujube cake looked, but its taste was superb, both sweet and sour. It vaguely held the familiar flavor of his childhood home’s cook’s craft.
He couldn’t resist rolling his tongue to sweep the remaining part into his mouth, accidentally brushing it against Sui Zhou’s finger. The other paused, then took his hand back at rapid speed.
Tang Fan didn’t notice, narrowing his eyes at the sensation on his taste buds, nodding, and giving more praise. “These pastries that Deputy Zhao picked out are pretty great! What a shame it is that this place is too unnatural. It’d be such a waste of good snacks, were we to need to run all over in the middle of the night.”
Sui Zhou told him to put his pants on and stand up, bending over to straighten out the bedsheets in the meantime. “Do you think something’s fishy?”
Tang Fan grabbed another cake and put it into his mouth. “You noticed it, too?”
“Don’t eat too much, or you won’t be able to sleep later,” Sui Zhou said with a frown. “The old man appears to have an issue.”
Tang Fan nodded, wanting to say something, but because the cake had slid into his throat, he nearly choked himself to death. He couldn’t help but stroke his neck as he looked elsewhere.
Exasperated, Sui Zhou walked over and lightly pat him on the back, then passed him a tea cup. “How have you managed to survive these past twenty years?”
The tea went down into Tang Fan’s belly, the cake going along with it. He finally sighed in relief, laughing some. “I will surely be a scourge that lasts for a thousand years. I believe the old man is suspicious, as well; he spoke incoherently, but it looked more put-on than anything else.”
Sui Zhou hummed, waiting for him to go on.
“There are several possibilities. One, he killed those people, though that really isn’t a very high probability. I can’t imagine why he would want to kill them for no reason, and beyond that, he’s an aged and weak elder. It would be impossible for him to murder so many, unless he had help. It’s just not doable. So, that possibility will be set aside for the time being.
“Two, he, and maybe even the entire village, are colluding with the grave robbers, so they’re doing all they can think of to mislead us and make us think more in the direction of the supernatural. Maybe the thieves promised to give the village some profits if they helped them keep the secret, after they robbed the royal tombs. Those that were killed all had discovered the secret and wanted to tell on them.” After he slowly analyzed this, though, he shook his head in a snap. “But that doesn’t make a lot of sense, either. We have too few clues in hand right now. It’ll be hard to guess the truth so quickly.”
“There is another possibility,” Sui Zhou said.
Tang Fan looked at him.
“What the old man said is true.”
The other raised his brows. “You believe in ghosts?”
Sui Zhou shook his head. “It might not be ghosts, but something else. Regardless of whether the former chief is actually mad or faking it, he’s definitely hiding something from us and won’t explain.”
Tang Fan smiled. “Diplomacy over war. Looks like we need the Brocade Guard to head out.”
When it came to forcing confessions via interrogation, truly no one was better at it in the realm than the Brocade Guards.
Many would think of all sorts of heinous methods once they heard the words ‘forcing a confession’, but in reality, there were many worldly methods that could make someone obediently tell the truth without torture, which were mostly used on officials that wouldn’t tell the truth, yet could not be tortured. It was a secret of the Guard that had been passed on and shared to no other.
Now, one could be used as overkill to deal with an elder in a remote village.
“Let’s rest first, then speak more on this tomorrow,” Sui Zhou said.
Right. It was already the time of the Boar,(9-11p) so they ought to sleep.
It was quiet outside, not even the sounds of chickens and dogs to be heard. Everything living had presumably entered sleep.
To say that it was noiseless would be wrong, though. The nearby Luo raced day and night, the river’s rush forth causing the sound of flowing water to always fill their ears. The noise didn’t feel like much, once one got used to it, instead seeming to cleanse all the disordered years of the heart.
The space on the kang wasn’t too narrow, being more than enough for two to sleep on. Tang Fan slept inside, Sui Zhou outside. They had lived under the same roof for a long time, yet had never slept next to each other like this.
Sui Zhou heard the sound of Tang Fan turning over, then said, “Turn back around.”
Tang Fan didn’t ask why, compliantly turning his back towards him. He felt his chin get held by a warm palm, while Sui Zhou’s other hand slowly pressed on some acupoints on the back of his skull.
The tense feelings around his head gradually loosened, making him groan in comfort. By the just-right force of the one behind him, he felt exhaustion accompanied by bursts of surging drowsiness, and quickly entered dreamland.
Following midnight, he had an odd dream.
In it, he was walking on the shore of a black river, many burial mounds standing unevenly on the distant, open plains. The wind whizzed past, the partnering sound of weeping drifting over from far away, bleak and shrill, as if it held endless sorrow and hatred as it curled over the plains, then bored itself into Tang Fan’s ears, making him shudder in fear.
The crying got closer and closer and closer and closer — all of a sudden, there seemed to be something behind him!
The emotion he felt was indescribable; he only knew that he had never been this terrified before.
He slowly turned his head…
And did a full body jolt, abruptly opening his eyes.
“Don’t move,” Sui Zhou whispered in his ear, arm put right across the other’s waist.
Upon hearing his voice, Tang Fan’s heart that was beating madly from the nightmare gradually quelled.
However, he soon realized that the ethereal wailing that had caused him all-over unease had not been in his dream at all, but was coming straight in from outside.
The translator says: I’m shooketh by all this flirting when they’re not even A Thing yet?
I get the sneaking suspicion that this is alligators. Which, if you’re an uneducated villager without internet, would be pretty close to a river god.