Having bade farewell to the old woman and Heizi, she and Ah Can were about to head to those seven frightening places., those places which were purgatory, your mind’s state, a land of demons.
Although Xinqing was afraid, for some inexplicable reason, with Ah Can accompanying her, she didn’t feel scared anymore. Ah Can was familiar witht his world, and also knew how to avoid the people in black and monsters. She was filled with curiosity towards this world, but she also knew that this world was also dangerous.
After walking out of that quiet dark forest, there were mountains before them. The boundless sky was a dark red colour. There was a path that went straight through the mountain valley. The bare trees did not have a single leaf, and the entire valley felt dead and lifeless.
“Are you alright?” Ah Can hurriedly helped her up and let her sit down by a tree. He said while checking that twisted ankle of hers, “It might be a little painful, but you have to bear it.”
“Yes.” Xinqing gritted her teeth and watched as he untwisted her crooked foot. In a moment, it did not hurt as much when she moved her foot again.
“It really doesn’t hurt anymore; thank you, Ah Can.” Xinqing stood up and hopped twice with no issue at all. Ah Can eyed the gradually darkening sky and said, “Let’s hurry and go.”
Xinqing followed closely behind him and walked to the bottom of the mountain valley.The scene before her eyes made Xinqing involuntarily gasp: down the gloomy valley stood skeletons of soldiers, all about three, four metres tall, making them seem mountainous. A thick layer of dust and cobwebs coated them, with these skeletons blocking the path in front of them. When she raised her head to look, countless human skulls were squeezed and packed together in the space, like realistic sculptures that emit an eerie scariness.
“Don’t be afraid,” Ah Can knew Xinqing was scared again and comforted her. Xinqing nodded, but her eyes were transfixed upon the mountainous rows and rows of skeleton piles.
“Why are there so many skeletons here?” Xinqing asked. This place was like a gigantic graveyard, the group of crows resting on the skeletons staring at them with sharp eyes.
“These soldier skeletons are actually the soldiers who died in battle. In this world, their bodies became like this,” explained Ah Can. Xinqing exclaimed, “You seem to know about this quite well.”
“It’s because I’ve been to these places. It may be from a long time ago, I don’t remember how long ago it was,” replied Ah Can. Xinqing seemed to understand now: the reason why Ah Can wanted to come with her as because he was familiar with this place, so he could take her. However, these seven places were practically hell.
The bloody red sky gradually became darker. Ah Can suddenly grabbed her hand, “Let’s run!”
Xinqing hadn’t managed to realize yet what had just happened when she turned around, only to see an enormous red skeleton approaching, startling the crows and making them fly away in a flurry of wings. That skeleton was about over ten metres tall; when it walked, its steps shook the valley, even the rows of skeletons were shaken until they broke apart.
“What is that?” Xinqing could only feel herself trembling as she was being pulled by Ah Can.
“It watches over this valley, if it discovers us then we’re done for,” said Ah Can as they ran. He had guessed the time correctly: that red skeleton made its appearance right at this time.
The two of them ran a fair distance. When they looked back, they could still faintly make out the red skeleton in the valley, it was just that they were so far away now, it probably couldn’t see them. Xinqing and the boy sat on the ground. The sky before them had already gradually darkened to dusk; if they continue any more, it would be too dark without the aid of a light.
Xinqing still hadn’t regained her bearings. If she had went alone, she wasn’t sure if she would be able to escape. Ah Can sparked an ember using some stones and dried branches; the fire gradually engulfed the branches and grew.
“We can only just stay here for the night. Don’t worry, nothing will happen here.” Surrounding them were giant rocks; hiding here should still be safe. Xinqing rubbed her hands together; with the sky now dark, the temperature had also dropped too.
Ah Can smiled, “Don’t worry, the people in black won’t appear here.”
Hearing him say that, she let out a breath of relief. The sky soon turned dark, and as expected, their surroundings was plunged into pitch black, with only the light from the fire shining through. Ah Can sat by the fire but he didn’t sleep. In his hand, he held a teardrop-shaped pendant.
“What a beautiful necklace.” Xinqing had no hint of sleepiness at all as she looked at the pendant in Ah Can’s hand. Under the fire’s light, it glittered and shone.
“I’ve had this even before I came here; it’s the only thing that can prove that I have lived.” His eyes were downcast, and it was only then that Xinqing knew the reason he had sighed and said “that’s good” the first time she met him that night.
“When people die… will they be forgotten by others?” When Xinqing thought of this, her heart felt a hint of sadness. Being forgotten after death was normal, but it was after meeting Ah Can that she realized Ah Can was actually afraid of being forgotten.
“Yes, from what I heard from Granny, when some people die, at first people will reminisce about them but following the passage of time, eventually they will be forgotten by the living,” he said blandly, but the smile on the corners of his lips was a little weak.
“I won’t forget Ah Can; even if I return to the human world, I will still remember that I had stayed in this world,” Xinqing let out a smile; he was the only friend that she had in this world, of course she wouldn’t forget him…