The Great Worm Lich Chapter 23
Initially, the matter would have been a perfect ending at that point but surprisingly, Ermu's wife suddenly said with her head held low, "Father, the Zhang family's kid killed Ermu, I'm not bringing the child to his house just to invite him to the funeral."
The young lady was wearing all white together with her pretty face, but her eyes were as swollen as peaches from crying, was called Li Chunran. She was not a villager from Western Sichuan village, but a lady from a young, educated family in Qu County.
She used to work as a goods inspector in a fruit grocery company in Qu County. They knew each other when Ermu was sending mountain goods. They started a relationship on their own will, then they have gotten married, and she moved to Guawo Village.
Growing up in a different background had caused her to not be exactly fearful of Guawo Village, despite the Zhang family's power that had been passed down for hundreds of years in this tiny mountain village.
"What did you say?" He Doushu was polite to the guest, but to his daughter-in-law who had just turned a widow, he seemed to have complete authority as he asked fiercely while frowning.
"I won't go to Zhang family's house to invite them to the funeral. Since the villagers aren't showing their humanities at all, do whatever you want to do. Worst comes to worst, I'll go down there to accompany Ermu!" Li Chunran felt wronged and upset after being questioned by her father-in-law fiercely. Instead of feeling bad, she lifted her head immediately while shouted back with her wide-opened blood-shot eyes.
"You're going to accompany Ermu, you're going to accompany Ermu" He Doushu went silent for a while, and said as he smiled from anger as his hands and legs were shaking, "If you're going to accompany Ermu, then how about the child?"
"He had lost his father at four, and now he's going to lose his mother. How about you bring him along with you, to accompany his father?"
Her son was Li Chunran's only soft spot that she had at the moment. Hearing what He Doushu said, she was stunned on the spot. A while later, tears that were as big as beans slowly poured from her eyes. Later, she turned around slowly and walked to their house's barn.
He Doushu looked at his daughter-in-law who brought out their family's young mule with shiny hair and wiped away his tears while picking up his grandchild who was running around. He then held his head down and mumbled, "Ermu you darn kid, you had great future ahead of you, why didn't you appreciate that, why didn't you appreciate that"
Tao Lielin who was standing aside could not help himself but sigh, while his eyes turned red as he advised He Doushu softly, "Uncle Doushu, this is fate. Don't think too much."
"Don't you guys still have the child? Provide him with a good education while you bring him up, send him to university and go for a master's degree. By then, get him to bring you out of the mountain for retirement. Your days ahead are still looking good."
He Doushu snapped out of his grief and revealed a begging smile on his face that was as wrinkled as tree bark, "You're right, Nephew Lin."
"The child is our family's only hope. Please say something nice to the Zhang family's Father Lisheng. Please beg him to have mercy. The one who was at fault was Ermu, not his child"
"Don't worry, Uncle Doushu. Everything will be alright, even if I don't say anything nice for you."
"Think about it. Lisheng will come to your house to help with the funeral later, why would he bother to do anything sneaky?"
"It-It was thanks to you, Chief Tao."
"Please, Uncle Doushu. Please don't be polite with me."
"Ermu's wife has brought the mule, I'll bring her to Zhang family's house now."
"Sure, sure. Sorry to trouble you, Nephew Lin. Please pass another message to Father Lisheng for me. As I'm sending off my deceased son, according to the custom, I'm not allowed to visit him to ask for forgiveness. Please beg him to forgive me, please forgive me."
"Don't worry about it. I'm leaving now, Uncle Doushu. I can assure you a hundred times and even a thousand times that everything is fine." As he said, Tao Lielin led the way and walked towards Zhang family's old house together with Li Chunran, who was bringing the young mule while carrying her child.
At that moment, Zhang Lisheng was in his house's kitchen mixing various medicine powder into a rough porcelain jar and carefully following the way that was recorded in an ancient book called the "Thousand Worms Prescription."
He did not use any precise weight measuring unit. Instead, he was following a magical instinct while adding and mixing the medicine powder continuously yet slowly, but without hesitation at all. Slowly, a kind of a peculiar herbal medicine smell came out of the porcelain jar.
Zhang Lisheng nodded in satisfaction as he sniffed the bizarre medicine smell in the air. He mixed the medicine powder that was in the porcelain jar harder. However, he did not notice that the medicine smell that filled the entire house had spread throughout the kitchen's hollow doorcase.
The density of the smell remained, even if the wind was blowing. Soon, Tao Lielin who arrived at the Zhang family's old house entrance smelled it.
Tao Lielin frowned and mumbled, "What smell is that?"
"Medicine smell, it's coming out of the Zhang family's old house. Who knows what the Zhang family murderer is planning to do this time." Li Chunran who was behind him said mercilessly, through the gaps of her teeth.
"Ermu's wife, don't say nonsense for the sake of your child. Otherwise, I won't be taking care of the consequences if anything happened." Tao Lielin turned around and said fiercely. He then struck the Zhang family old house's wooden door loudly, "Lisheng, Lisheng, what are you doing? Open the door quick and what's with that heavy medicine smell?"
Hearing the yelling outside of the door, Zhang Lisheng hastily sealed the medicine jar properly with a cork and immediately ran to the courtyard while shouting loudly, "Uncle Ah Lie, I'm coming. I'm mixing some stew ingredient."
Most of the Miaowei land was damp so that people would usually mix herbs with the function of eliminating damps in their food. Tao Lielin nodded without having a tiny bit of doubt as he said, "Lisheng, it must be hard for you to be strong while being sensible, and yet possess the ability to take care of yourself when you're only over ten years old."
"How is this capable? This is just cooking, Uncle Ah Lie. Let's talk about the serious matter."
"Oh yea, the serious matter. Ermu's family has brought their child to invite you to the funeral."
"Please accept this young mule, please forgive whatever mistakes and offends that were done previously."
"Ermu's wife, would you like to say something?" Tao Lielin said and turned around as he stared at Li Chunran with a serious expression.
Li Chunran lifted her head and could not help herself to reveal an expression of resentment on her face as she looked at the young man standing at the sill, who seemed to be a little panicky.
"Ermu's wife please carry your child properly and say something quick." Seeing Li Chunran's resentment on her face, Tao Lielin immediately urged her in words with hidden meaning.
Li Chunran was shocked, her expression became gentle as she looked at her son who was falling asleep in her arms.
After a while of silence, she took the initiative to put the young mule's rein into Zhang Lisheng's hand and said with her head held down, "Father Lisheng, my child is still young. On behalf of him, I'm inviting you to off-officiate the funeral for his father."
To a person who still possessed a conscience in him, it might be very easy for him to kill the person that he was killing at the spur of the moment but facing their devastated, innocent family was something really difficult.
Zhang Lisheng undeniably missed his coolness and calmness when he was chanting an incantation. However, at that very moment, it was definitely impossible for him to make the 'psh shh' sound.
"I'll go there right away, aunt. I'll get going after changing clothes, please wait for me."
"Uncle Ah Lie, please wait for me. I'll go change now." Zhang Lisheng conveniently tied the mule on the wood buckle on the door latch, then hastily ran into his bedroom.
Just like that, Zhang Lisheng who was in full Miaowei traditional costume, appeared in Ermu's house which was the bamboo house, over ten minutes later.
In reality, the funeral did not need a young man who was over ten years old, to help on anything. His attendance was just a symbol of the reconciliation between the He and Zhang families.
Soon, those villagers who had received Li Chunran's funeral invitation, earlier appeared in Ermu's house one by one. With the crowd's help, everything that was needed for the funeral including the word 'funeral', funeral flowers, stone platform and so on, were soon completely ready.
When it was two to three o'clock in the afternoon, finally, there were officially wails of loud, heart-wrenching cries coming out of Ermu's house.
Although he had nothing to do, Zhang Lisheng's presence at Ermu's house became a few hours of agenda. He only returned home after the old men from the mountain village who came to help with the funeral, gradually left after dinner in the evening.
The young mule was still tied on the old house's entrance's door latch's buckle. It began to rub on its hoofs anxiously as it had been starved for the entire day.
It was believed that if Li Chunran did not put on the brank before bringing the mule to Zhang family's old house, this big animal must be crying 'ahhhh' noise by then.
Looking at the young mule, Zhang Lisheng petted its shiny hair and conveniently plucked the grass by the road. He then waved the grass and tossed them on the ground, which caused the mule to move its head in a frenzy while its head was held low.
Seizing the opportunity, he ran fast into the kitchen and first placed the rough porcelain jar containing the herb powder into the bamboo basket and carried it on his back. He then pinned a sharp short blade boning knife on his waist and covered with his outer clothes. Finally, he grabbed a big dishrag that was dried and walked back into the courtyard in big steps.
The young mule was still moving its head as Zhang Lisheng took the advantage to tie the dishrag on its eyes.
To a domestic animal that was being domesticated in a mountain village, a blindfold meant that they would have to start working. Naturally, they would be fed with some sweet and fragrant grass after they were done with work.
Therefore, the young mule soon calmed down and allowed Zhang Lisheng to bring it out of the house.
The crescent moon had just risen in the mountain stone roads. The scene of a young man in Miaowei traditional costume pulling a mule that was six hundred to seven hundred catties in weight, for a walk was uncommon even to a Miaowei villager.
However, since the Guawo Villagers had treated Zhang Lisheng as a 'father', nobody would question him, even if he was doing something peculiar.
On the contrary, there was a foreign tourist who knew a little bit of Mandarin stammered as he asked, "Young man, it's late. Where are you going with your horse?"
"This is a mule."
"I took it to sacrifice, mister." Zhang Lisheng smiled while replying with fluent English.
The middle-aged tourist with a big beard was a little surprised, then laughed openheartedly and said, "Young man, you speak excellent English but I'm a French."
Zhang Lisheng did not answer him this time, while he pulled the mule and left on his own.
When he walked to the village entrance, there were still two police cars whose mission was to prevent another vicious criminal case from happening parked at the empty space.
As it was not a standard monitoring mission, the police officers on-duty seemed to be pretty relaxed. They were all smoking and chatting outside of the cars.
Seeing Zhang Lisheng walking forward with a mule, they looked at each other baffled. Before they snapped out of their thought, they saw Zhang Lisheng walked into the dense jungle casually which caught them by surprise.
The Western Sichuan people naturally knew how scary a dense jungle was, especially at night.
A strong criminal officer said while being bewildered, "Captain-Captain Long, Zhang Lisheng has entered the jungle, we don't have to follow him right?"
The person who led the team this time was Long Guangsheng, who used to verify Zhang Lisheng's age. He looked troubled and tossed his cigarette butt, then stepped on it hard to put it out while he said, "I saw that. This fella is still young but he sure has some tricks."
"Don't worry, Chief Yang asked us to be here to keep watch in order to prevent another major case from happening, while apparently not to become his babysitter. Since Zhang Lisheng has entered the jungle himself, then, there's nothing we can do about it."
Although he said that, Long Guangsheng was so irritated that he almost broke his front tooth by biting hard into it and then thought about the unexpected trouble that happened to the mission his leader assigned to him.