Chapter 11 - Smiling in Death

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Su Jin was already mentally prepared to see this face before him, but when he was actually faced with this person, he was still filled with fury. The person in the cloak was actually Zhang Jing.

She immediately looked aggrieved as she stretched her hands out towards Su Jin and wailed miserably, “Why did you abandon me? Why did all of you abandon me?”

Su Jin’s expression grew even more furious as he roared angrily at her, “That’s quite enough! Did you think you could fool me with that face? What should I call you? Grandma? Or… Grandpa?”

“How… how did you know?!” Zhang Jing’s expression instantly turned nasty as she yelled, “What do you know? How did you find out?”

“How did I find out? You’ve got to thank your granddaughter and grandson’s diaries. Their entries weren’t very detailed, but after I saw your face, I figured it out. The one who died back then wasn’t Grandpa, but Grandma, wasn’t it?” spat Su Jin frostily.

Both Lin Yue and her younger brother had mentioned their grandfather’s passing and also talked about how their grandmother started behaving strangely after that. Lin Yue had attributed it to her grandmother being depressed from losing her spouse and Su Jin hadn’t paid it much attention either when he read it first either. But once he saw that this person was now using Zhang Jing’s face and body, Su Jin realized what must have happened.

“If my guess is right, you have the ability to shift your soul to another body or something along those lines, right? Back then, you shifted your soul to your wife and continued living as Lin Yue’s grandmother, and that’s why Lin Yue found it strange that her grandmother had picked up smoking.”

“When you attacked Zhang Jing in the storeroom earlier, your intention was not to kill her, but to take over her body. So when your grandson walked in, he basically dragged away an empty shell you used to occupy, right?” explained Su Jin as he glanced at where Jiang Li ought to be standing. But to his surprise, Jiang Li was nowhere to be found.

‘He’s a veteran alright. So, he’s chosen to escape after all?’ thought Su Jin to himself as he continued talking to the monster in front of him. “Is Zhang Jing still alive?”

“Alive? Heh heh! I am her and she is me. As long as I’m alive, she’ll stay alive. But if I die… then you know what will happen to her, right?” said the monster with a maniacal laugh. After Jiang Li stabbed its chest with his spear, green liquid kept flowing out but it didn’t seem to care.

“Are you threatening me now?” said Su Jin in an icy voice. His expression was no longer as menacing, but his tone of voice remained the same. “In that case, you can go to hell!”

“What?” The monster didn’t expect that. At that exact same moment, a spear stabbed right through his body once more. While Su Jin and the monster were conversing earlier, Jiang Li had taken the chance to creep up behind the monster to deliver this fatal blow.

The monster turned around stiffly to look emotionlessly at Jiang Li before laughing maniacally. “Heh heh… as long as my god still lives, I will live too! The ones who will have to die are the both of you!” Then, he collapsed with a thud onto the ground.

“I can’t believe a dying thing like you could utter so much nonsense.” Jiang Li wiped away the green liquid on his spear. He did sustain some injuries in his waist area that looked similar to Su Jin’s in that it looked burnt too, but it wasn’t too serious. Jiang Li had been hit by the monster’s arrow after all.

But Su Jin had an uneasy feeling about what the monster had said before it collapsed. The monster didn’t seem to care that it was on the verge of destruction at all.

“Wait, what? My mission isn’t considered complete?” muttered Jiang Li in surprise. He just checked his Handbook, only to find that there were no new kills recorded inside.

“He didn’t die, he just left this body, that’s all.” Initially, Su Jin thought that this monster had to come into contact with another body in order to transfer its soul, but it seemed like that wasn’t the case after all.

“But that sounds odd too. If it doesn’t have to touch the body to transfer its soul, then why did it attack Zhang Jing? Which part of this am I getting wrong?” Su Jin smacked his head a few times, wondering if he had missed anything.

Jiang Li squatted down to look at Zhang Jing and suddenly exclaimed, “Hey! This woman’s not dead yet!”

“What?” Su Jin was surprised to hear that. He ran over and bent down to see that Zhang Jing was still breathing and her eyes were slowly beginning to respond, which meant that she was actually somewhat conscious.

“Can she be saved?”

“Those two stabs of my spear have essentially destroyed all her internal organs, so unless you have something on hand that can bring her back to life, she’s going to die,” said Jiang Li as he shook his head.

Su Jin looked helplessly at Zhang Jing. He did feel a little guilty towards her since he and Chu Yi did abandon her, like what the monster had said earlier. It was true that they had left her behind because they didn’t have much choice – trying to save her would definitely have sent them to the nether world instead – but the two of them might have been Zhang Jing’s only hope.

“We can’t save her, that’s for sure, but I can help her to recover her consciousness for a short period of time. I think you might be able to get some information out of her, given your level of intelligence.” Jiang Li glanced at Su Jin, then continued, “But judging from your expression, I guess we ought to just let her die.”

“No, help her to regain her consciousness, please,” Su Jin pleaded to Jiang Li with a determined look in his eyes. Jiang Li had noticed the guilty look on Su Jin’s face too, so he was surprised that Su Jin would still want him to help her regain her consciousness.

Jiang Li didn’t refuse Su Jin’s request. He shot out a beam of green light from his fingertips into her nostrils and she slowly opened her eyes after a few seconds.

“I’m so sorry!” Su Jin felt apologetic towards her, but he didn’t think that he had made the wrong decision to leave her behind. They didn’t know each other before this, so it was only normal for him to prioritize saving his own skin in that sort of situation and when faced with such enemies.

“You don’t have to apologize. I should thank you, actually.” Her face was extremely pale, but she looked like she was having a moment of terminal lucidity. She smiled gently at Su Jin and said, “I’ve finally realized that the scariest thing that could happen to a person isn’t death. It’s having your body possessed by an old man. Just thinking about having to live the rest of my life like that really makes me prefer death, actually.”

Su Jin smiled bitterly back at her. Zhang Jing’s ability to let go made him feel even guiltier now. He said to her, “You don’t have to worry about that anymore. You can leave in peace.”

“I hope so too. When that old man took over my body, I could sense a few things from him. There is something within Fengxi Town that can decide his fate and is powerful enough to make him worship it.” Her consciousness had been suppressed when she didn’t have control over her own body, so she didn’t really know that much.

Su Jin nodded with a furrowed brow as he thanked her, “Thank you! This is very important information to us!”

“Don’t look so upset. I don’t want the last thing I see on earth to be a grouchy face,” said Zhang Jing to Su Jin with a smile.

Su Jin blinked for a moment before turning to look at Jiang Li. Jiang Li glanced back at him with his usual aloof expression and said to Zhang Jing self-deprecatingly, “In this sort of situation, a smile is really a luxury.”

“A smile is especially important in such situations.” Zhang Jing’s eyes seemed to be slowly losing focus. Jiang Li’s powers were not able to keep her alive for much longer. She said to Su Jin, “Actually… actually, I was doing that sort of job. You know, a club hostess.”

Su Jin didn’t expect Zhang Jing to tell him such things and Zhang Jing didn’t seem to be expecting him to respond to her either as she continued speaking, “It is a despised job and that’s how I lived as well. It always seemed like everyone felt that they had the right to criticize me, and even those who had slept with me suddenly became saints once they had put their pants back on, as if they had nothing to do with the filth they were accusing me of.”

“That sort of life was really tiring. It was so tiring that I wished that I could close my eyes one day and never open them again. But life had to go on. So I learned to smile in all circumstances. No matter what I was facing, I would always smile. I always told myself that life would be so miserable if one couldn’t even smile.”

Su Jin didn’t say anything and quietly listened to her talk. Even Jiang Li didn’t try to hurry her as he just sat there. But Zhang Jing’s talking soon came to an end as her body went limp and her pupils dilated.

Su Jin gently closed Zhang Jing’s eyes. Even as she passed away, she still had a smile on her face. In this sinister, terrifying and despairing town, her smile was like a light in the darkness that warmed the hearts of others.

In fact, Su Jin’s own expression was slowly beginning to transform too. His sorrowful gaze started to relax and his pursed lips slowly curved upwards into a natural smile. Zhang Jing was gone, but before she departed, she left Su Jin a smile and a quote to remember.

“Life would be so miserable if one couldn’t even smile,” Su Jin quietly repeated those words to himself before turning to Jiang Li with a smile. “Let’s go! You still have a mission to complete, don’t you?”

“What about you? Are you going to take revenge?” asked Jiang Li with a smile. His smile didn’t seem as mirthless as before.

“Oh yes! She’s taught me such an important lesson, so… I’ve got to repay her for doing so!” Su Jin nodded. His lips were smiling, but the look in his eyes was malicious.

“I’m really hoping that you’ll survive now.”

“What a coincidence! I’m hoping for that too!” replied Su Jin with a laugh before heading straight for Lin Yue’s house. Before this, he had only guessed that the monster Lin Yue’s grandfather had become would appear there. But now, he was very sure that the monster was waiting for them in Lin Yue’s house itself.

It didn’t take them long to arrive at the house. A figure wrapped entirely in a cloak was already waiting for them outside the gate. But before either of them could say anything, it removed the cloak to reveal yet another face familiar to Su Jin.

“I get it now. So if you want to possess a living person, you’ve got to come into contact with that person. But if you want to possess a dead person’s body, it’s a lot less troublesome, huh?” Su Jin figured it out immediately once he saw that he was now faced with Yang Zichen’s face instead.

“You’ve guessed it right! Let me reward you by… sending you straight to hell!” cackled the monster in a cheeky voice.

Su Jin held up a familiar longbow made from bones that he had been hiding behind his back and waved it at the monster. “Your weapon is now in the hands of someone else and you’re still so arrogant? Are you really going to be okay?”

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