Haunting Spectre Road Tetralogy 冤鬼路四部曲—Book One of Four
Chapter One: Bloodshed
It was said that if someone takes this road during the dead of night, they will die a blood-covered death, their face filled with terror. She didn’t believe it and went there alone. And guess what happened? Before her death, she used all her remaining strength and said two sentences, “Death is inevitable! There is no escape!” Strange things kept on happening, people were dying, did it all start with the girl that committed suicide 50 years ago? He Jian Fei, Tian Yin Zhen, Dong Lu, Shen Fang, Shi Ting, Ah Qiang and Uncle Li will take you on a journey of no return. Suspense and horror, supernatural elements and magic, truth and reality vs. fake and false, love and fraternal bonds, humans and ghosts, evil and justice, love and hate. Tinadannis shows you a world of intertwined mystery and splendour.
Legends are a common thing for the university campus, or maybe it’s a secret established through common practice. When generation after generation of talented individuals leave, it alone remains behind, deeply rooted, continuous and never ending. Resentment, like love, can also be endless. Therefore, exists the never ending nightmare from rumours—a nightmare belonging only to the school campus.
Moonlight poured quietly over this university campus with over 100 years of history, silence spread rapidly like the darkness, instantly filling the entire sky. Lights in the teaching buildings competed with the stars in the sky, an assortment of retro-looking lampposts stood by the roadside, statue-like figures scattered around the flower beds like dotted decorations. Busy pedestrians were in such a hurry that they only have time to nod hello to their passing friends and acquaintances, let alone those who were reading as they walked. University campuses have always been said to be a place of scholarly atmosphere, with final exams on the horizon, a sense of urgency and seriousness was added.
“Damn it!” He Jian Fei stood in the hallways and wanted to take out his cell phone to look at the time. However, not only did he not find his cell phone, he realized that he forgot his super important English textbook back in the dorm, and instead, he brought the physical education theory textbook that he’s LONG been done with. Holding back his anger as he looked at his roommate Zhang Chuan Xun, who was sitting beside him, desperately trying to choke back his laughter. “You kept on nagging and hurrying me, saying that if we are late there won’t be any more seats, and this is the result. Great, now I can go and get a doctorate in physical education theory.” Zhang Chuan Xun tried not to laugh at He Jian Fei’s misfortunes and chuckled, “Anyway, at least I brought it, I don’t have a lot of notes, but you can glance it over when I’m not reading it. Your English is already so great, is there really a need for you to read it?” He said as he took the book out from his bag, planning to flaunt it in front of He Jian Fei, only to realize after taking a look at the three large familiar words printed on the cover—“Physical Education Theory”. Damn it! He brought the wrong book as well!
Feeling angry and a little embarrassed, Zhang Chuan Xun pushed his bag over to He Jian Fei, who was laughing hard against a column. “The English test is tomorrow, I still have a bazillion vocabularies I haven’t memorized. That Glasses Zhang always loved making people retake his class, I’ve got to get back to the dorm to fetch my book. Save a seat for me.” He Jian Fei stopped laughing and said, “The campus shuttle doesn’t run during self-study time and we are at least a few hours away from the dorm, once you make that round trip back, you won’t have much time to read even if you have the book.” Zhang Chuan Xun heard and replied, “No need to worry about that, Xiao Tian was with me a few days ago beside the audio-visual education building, we explored and found a small road called Crimson Hilltop, leading directly to the main campus road of our dorm. It takes less than 20 minutes to reach there.” He Jian Fei laughed again, “Sure, go ahead, bring mine along as well, I think I left it on my table.”
He Jian Fei walked into the classroom alone and found a seat, sat down and started studying his advanced mathematics. As he read, he couldn’t help but to have some doubts, Zhang Chuan Xun was an extremely introverted person, he usually like to stay in and surf the internet or play games, why would he be interested in exploring some road? A few days ago, he vaguely remembered hearing something about how during the student voting several weeks ago, Qin Xiao Tian lost to Zhang Chuan Xun by only a few votes, losing his honoured title of Outstanding Student and still harboured resentment towards him. Why would he be willing to walk around the campus with Zhang Chuan Xun? The more he thought about it, the more suspicious he was. Two hours have passed, even if he took the main campus road, he should have been back by now, but there was still no sign of Zhang Chuan Xun. Unable to keep on reading, He Jian Fei packed up his bag and hurried back to the dorm.
The audio-visual education building was located in the Northeast corner of the old campus, judging from a Feng Shui perspective, of the Five Elements, it lacked Metal. There were no ponds or lakes on either side of the building, only ancient forests surrounding it on all four sides, a sign of either extreme good fortune or extreme misfortune. Since the construction of the new multimedia classrooms, the old audio-visual education building is now rarely in use. Most of the time, it’s used as a storage place for obsolete electronic equipments. Due to long periods of neglect and disrepair, the cement on the outer wall has shed almost completely, exposing the mottled dark yellow bricks. A few streaks of dark green moss crept across its surface, then finally disappearing in the tall grass at the foot of the wall. The audio-visual education building was simply a dispensable school building, the reason that students even know about its existence was from when the school was bragging about its own achievements, comparing it to the multimedia classrooms.
Unsure of whether it’s due to the dim street lights in the area, He Jian Fei circled the audio-visual education building several times, yet was still unable to find the Crimson Hilltop road that Zhang Chuan Xun mentioned. Seeing how it was close to curfew time at the dorm, He Jian Fei had no choice but to give up his search and stepped onto the campus shuttle. Due to delays at the audio-visual education building, by the time He Jian Fei got back to the dorm, it was almost 11 PM, most of the students in his class gets back at around 10:30 PM, all of the lights on the fourth-floor dormitory was brightly lit, except for his own. Zhang Chuan Xun’s not inside? He Jian Fei’s stomach twisted into a knot, he sprinted up to the fourth-floor and hastened to find his keys to open the door and turn on the lights. But all he saw was the two English textbooks lying on each of their desks, and no books seem to be missing from Zhang Chuan Xun’s shelf except for the few in his bag.
Could something have happened to him? Before he could think things through, He Jian Fei tossed the two backpacks onto his bed, grabbed his keys and rushed out. When he got to the top of the stairs, he saw his classmate Huang Da Kai walking over with a bunch of study materials. He saw He Jian Fei and asked him, looking a little surprised, “It’s almost curfew time at the dorm, where are you going in such a hurry at this hour?” He Jian Fei hurried to tell him about what happened to Zhang Chuan Xun. Huang Da Kai heard and laughed, “The number four teaching building opened up a few all-night study rooms, I’ve even heard that they have a room to borrow textbooks, you are sure to pass by there while walking to the audio-visual education building. My guess is that he probably got tired of walking and headed over to one of the all night study rooms. We are on a university campus, he’s a grown man, are you honestly afraid that something will happen to him? I’ve got a lot of places that I don’t understand on the English test, come over to my room and explain it to me.” After hearing him out, He Jian Fei thought that maybe he was being overly sensitive and decided to let things go. “My room’s empty, it’s quieter, why don’t you come over instead.”
Soon, it was 1 AM, He Jian Fei put down his English textbook and yawned, getting ready to go to bed. When he was putting up the mosquito net, He Jian Fei looked at a hook hanging by the bedside, thinking whether there’s a need to hang up the Spirit Evoking Bell tonight. He Jian Fei has a secret identity, he belongs to the magical arts circle, studying under Mount Wutai’s School since he was two, following the leading authority of Buddhism at the time, abbot Master Zhi Neng, and became the youngest and most talented of the lay disciples. Since Mount Wutai has subdued many a spirits and demons, thus incurring much hatred from the ghost realm, ever since He Jian Fei left the mountain he has gotten into the habit of hanging a Spirit Evoking Bell at night to give warning. But since he entered university, he hasn’t been hanging it up that often. On one hand, it’s due to the university being a holy place of learning, both ghosts and gods looked up to it with respect, on the other hand, it’s because of his own laziness, he only symbolically hangs it up once or twice a month. But for some reason, tonight he felt a foreboding sense of unease and ill omen, and saw nothing bad in hanging that thing up. So in the end, He Jian Fei has decided to hand up one of Mount Wutai’s five major magical instruments, the Spirit Evoking Bell.
“Ding ding ding” late into the midnight hours, the high-pitched tinkling of bells pulled He Jian Fei away from his dreams and back into reality. He turned and opened his bleary eyes and saw the curtains by the window floating up high into the ceilings, then remembered that he forgot to close the windows before bed. Perhaps a storm was about to break out, hence the strong winds. “Stop!” He Jian Fei sent out a yellow paper talisman and sealed the Spirit Evoking Bell as he mumbled in complaint, “Stupid Spirit Evoking Bell, it rings when there are ghosts, it rings when there’s wind, what kind of renowned magical instrument is it supposed to be?!” As he cursed, he suddenly spotted through the mosquito net a blurry black figure standing by the balcony. He Jian Fei paused in surprise and asked in a low voice, “Chuan Xun, are you back from studying?” The black figure didn’t answer him, instead, it started to approach slowly. He Jian Fei thought it was strange and asked, “What’s wrong with you? I’m talking to you, why aren’t you answering?” The black figure still only kept on walking closer and closer to his mosquito net. Thinking back to the persistent ringing of the Spirit Evoking Bell, He Jian Fei suddenly felt a sense of alarm, threw aside the blankets and instantly sat up, “What kind of ghostly spirit are you, what are you doing here instead of being in The Underworld going through reincarnation? Leave now, otherwise don’t blame Mount Wutai’s magical instruments for being ruthless.” As soon as he finished speaking, the black figure stopped in its steps but didn’t seem to want to leave. By the blurry moonlight shining in from the balcony, he could clearly see the black figure suddenly raising its hands slowly, then started to walk over once again, heading straight for He Jian Fei, fast approaching his bedside.
Was it provoking him? He Jian Fei was furious and picked up a yellow paper talisman, flipped open the mosquito net in an instant and saw that the room was empty, the black figure was now nowhere to be seen. He Jian Fei stood by the bedside and looked around suspiciously, then, a sound came from outside the door. “Sniffle … sniffle sniffle ….” A low, barely discernible sob can be heard, after hearing the familiar low voice, He Jian Fei breathed a sign of relief and asked, “Chuan Xun, why didn’t you speak back there? You almost scared me to death. What’s wrong? Did something happen?” Then he walked over to the door and twisted the door handle, only to see the door standing there, unbudged. He turned on the lights to take a look, and saw that the door was twice secured with the safety latch, he personally locked the door earlier that night.
The door wasn’t unlocked, and the black figure appeared first inside the room, then crying was heard outside the door, along with the sound of the Spirit Evoking Bell, He Jian Fei broke out in a cold sweat. He paused for a moment, but still took out the key and unlocked the door, then carefully opened the door and said in a low voice, “Chuan Xun, you ….” Halfway through his question, he couldn’t help but to be stunned by what he saw. The hallway was silent, the doors to the other dorms on either side of the hallway were all tightly shut, there was no one in sight. Their dorm was quite a distance from the staircase, even if Chuan Xun wanted to run away, he wouldn’t have had time to do so, and not make a single sound. He heard it very clearly, the voice back there was indeed Chuan Xun’s, could it be that …. Just as he was getting a headache thinking about everything, a loud “BANG” came from inside the room. He Jian Fei hurried to turn and look, and saw that Zhang Chuan Xun’s English textbook fell on the floor. He looked outside the door once again, there was still nothing out there. Perhaps it’s some minor ghost who wandered in by accident, so he had to re-lock the door, close the window and pick up the English textbook, then head back to bed.
At 5 AM in the morning, an earth shattering burst of knocking came at the door, along with a loud and nervous sounding voice, ridding He Jian Fei completely of any amount of sleepiness he had in him. This time, He Jian Fei lost all patience to go and see what’s outside the door, instead he ran to the window and shouted, “Who the hell’s making all the noise out there? Do you know what time it is right now?” Huang Da Kai stood outside the door looking utterly terrified, his entire body trembled badly, “Jian Fei, something’s wrong! Something terrible’s happened! Chuan Xun’s dead!” This came as a shock to He Jian Fei, and his mind instantly went blank. Huang Da Kai incoherently kept on talking, “I heard he died on the main campus road, his face was filled with terror, his eyes popped out of their sockets and he was covered in blood, but they couldn’t find a single wound on him. All of the school authorities have gathered and a bunch of people came from the police station ….” He Jian Fei grabbed ahold of Huang Da Kai’s shirt collar and asked hoarsely, “When did it happen?” Huang Da Kai was stunned by the expression on He Jian Fei’s face, he paused slightly before answering, “The medical examiner haven’t said anything, but the body was found by a security guard at around 4 AM when he was making rounds. Why are you asking ….” He Jian Fei opened his mouth and took a deep breath of the cool clean air on the outside in order to calm himself. The black figure that came to him at midnight, the strange crying outside the door, and the English textbook that suddenly fell off the desk. So that really was Zhang Chuan Xun’s ghost! Zhang Chuan Xun was already dead then! He Jian Fei suddenly remembered that his master once told him that in The Underworld, beside The Bridge of Helplessness there was a Pond of Vindication. All of the passing spirits that have once been wronged or suffered injustice must wash themselves in the pond to rid themselves of all the hatred pent-up in their hearts. Only after doing so, could they pass The Bridge of Helplessness and head for reincarnation, otherwise they will turn into haunting spectres, forever remaining in the world to receive punishment from The Underworld. Because so many of these ghosts lack the ability to speak for themselves, thus, it was said that when they pass by the Pond of Vindication, they have to lift their hands up to their shoulder level as a sign that they were wronged or suffered injustice, letting the agents of The Underworld know. So the bizarre actions Zhang Chuan Xun made, could it be that he was trying to tell me that he suffered injustice? Why wasn’t he reporting it to the agents of The Underworld? Why go through the efforts and come to tell me? When he suddenly remembered the answer to all his questions, Zhang Chuan Xun was one of the few people that knows about him being a member of the magical arts circle. Could it be that his killer wasn’t human, but ….
“Did someone die again? Ha ha ha … you can’t run, a few must die every year, huh, you can’t escape it, can’t escape it, did you go yet? If you still feel resentment, then let it all out! Ha ha ha ….” A figure staggered up the stairs. He Jian Fei was alarmed and asked, “That upperclassmen over there, what is he talking about?” Huang Da Kai whispered quietly, “Don’t mind him, I heard that his girlfriend died last year in the same way, he didn’t take her death well, came back and cried for a few nights, then ended up all crazy and neurotic like this.” As he was talking, He Jian Fei opened the door and ran up the stairs, leaving him behind. Huang Da Kai stood there stupefied, He Jian Fei didn’t bother to explain to him, he had a feeling that this whole thing wasn’t as simple as it seemed, it’s not just about the death of one person.
He Jian Fei caught up to the upperclassmen on the fifth-floor hallway, the guy dragged his body and hobbled along sluggishly. He Jian Fei stopped abruptly about three meters away from him and called out in a low voice, “Please wait. Judging from what you’ve said, you seem to know the reason behind Chuan Xun’s death, I’d like to trouble you for an answer.”
“Me? I don’t know.” The upperclassmen turned his head around, behind the thick lenses of his glasses, an unusual yet terrifying gleam shone in his deep-set eyes. “If I knew then would I have ended up like this? If I knew then would she have died? Did that classmate of yours take a road called Crimson Hilltop?” He Jian Fei hurried and nodded, his heart suddenly sank, realizing that it was as he had expected, it had something to do with that suspicious road. The upperclassmen opened his mouth to speak again, “I only know that decades ago, Crimson Hilltop road was secretly called Haunting Spectre Road.” “Haunting Spectre Road?!” He Jian Fei was surprised by his answer. “Why did they call it such a terrifying name?” The upperclassmen stared blankly for a moment, then looked up and broke out in laughter, “I don’t know, she doesn’t know either, neither of us knew. It’s only a legend left behind by the previous graduating class, it was said that if someone takes this road during the dead of night, they will die a blood-covered death, their face filled with terror. She didn’t believe it, tried to flaunt her braveness and ran there. And guess what happened? Ha ha ha …. Before her death, she used all her remaining strength to tell me two sentences, ’Death is inevitable. There is no escape.’ Yes, there is no escape, absolutely no escape.” The upperclassmen stopped paying attention to He Jian Fei, turned and slowly walked away.
Crimson Hilltop? Haunting Spectre Road? The question on He Jian Fei’s mind last night during self-study time was finally answered. He rushed back to the fourth-floor like a gust of whirlwind. Most of the people on the fourth-floor all went to see what happened, the row of dorms were now mostly empty. Near the top of another set of stairs, came the sound of desperately repressed weeping, the sound floated through the corridors on the fourth-floor, adding an air of sadness to the building. He Jian Fei stopped in front of dorm room 428, kicked in the door and saw a person curled up next to the desk leg, hugging the blankets and sobbing. When he saw He Jian Fei come in, he couldn’t help but to look up at him. He Jian Fei closed in and questioned him coldly, “Qin Xiao Tian, I’d like for you to explain to me about Crimson Hilltop.” Qin Xiao Tian was stunned for quite a while, then finally broke and buried his head in the blankets and started bawling, “I … I just wanted to … I didn’t think that he would die …. The legend was true, I didn’t expect, I didn’t expect it ….” He Jian Fei tried to suppress his anger, and punched Qin Xiao Tian right in the face and shouted, “He’s already dead, what good is telling me all this for!? Do you think crying will bring Chuan Xun back? Everyone thinks that Haunting Spectre Road killed Chuan Xun, but you are the real murderer!” Qin Xiao Tian’s body shook vigorously, his crying suddenly came to a halt, and the door room was dead silent. He Jian Fei realized that he wasn’t here to beat him up and vent his anger, he took a few deep breaths to calm himself, looked at the insignificant person in front of him with disgust and asked in a harsh tone, “Tell me about the legend of the Haunting Spectre Road.”
Qin Xiao Tian’s older brother was in the Student Union and told him about this legend when he visited a few days ago, telling him to take caution and be extra careful. Haunting Spectre Road was originally called Oil Hilltop, it was there when the school was first built and was once used as the main campus road. 50 years ago, a girl was diagnosed with cancer during her physical examination, feeling utterly disheartened, she hung herself on the road. When her classmates were paying their respects at her grave, they told her that she was misdiagnosed, she could have lived a healthy life. The girl was already reluctant to die, she couldn’t give up her resentment and wandered the road each night, crying. Ever since then, no one dared to walk that road at night. A few years later, a male student forgot something at midnight and went to fetch it, but he never came back. Before the incident, someone saw him wandering on that road, scared out of his wits. It was said that his ghost will wander back to his dorm at midnight, seemingly searching for the item that he will never be able to get back. After a few days, another girl was raped and killed there. Two tragic incidents took place at the same exact location, this striking coincidence alerted the Student Union. After a few days of fierce debate, they unanimously decided that it was a female ghost causing trouble. At the same time, they changed the name of the road to Crimson Hilltop, crimson like the colour of blood. So far, accidents at Crimson Hilltop never stopped happening each year, and they all died the exact same way. That’s why the students secretly called it Haunting Spectre Road. In order to maintain the reputation of the school, information about the road was sealed off from the outside world, therefore, very few outsiders know about Crimson Hilltop. Those who died were mostly students from other schools and unsuspecting freshmen.
If the legend about people dying at Crimson Hilltop each year was true, then during the 50 years period, it must have gathered countless spirits and ghosts, and accumulated an immense amount of hateful energy, Zhang Chuan Xun’s death was certain the moment he stepped onto the road. The anger that He Jian Fei had tried hard to suppress flared up once again, he took a step forward, grabbed Qin Xiao Tian by his shirt collar and dragged him up, “Have you no human conscience? Where is your humanity?!” Qin Xiao Tian met He Jian Fei’s eyes, then closed his eyes and continued crying his heart out, pleading to He Jian Fei, “I’m to blame for everything, I have no humanity, just kill me! I beg of you, please just kill me ….” He Jian Fei wanted to slap him hard across the face, but suddenly saw that a green layer of mist hovered around Qin Xiao Tian’s body. Coiling hateful energy? Qin Xiao Tian was being possessed by a ghost! But the most bizarre thing was that the spirit haunting him released energy to protect Qin Xiao Tian against harm from He Jian Fei. The ghost was protecting him? He Jian Fei was taken aback and couldn’t help but to let go. Usually, when a ghost takes possession of a person’s body, they want nothing more than to fulfill their own purposes, therefore they will devour the other person’s soul at all cost, why is the ghost possessing Qin Xiao Tian risking it all to protect him?
I’ve actually be meaning to recommend this book for quite a while now, I just haven’t gotten around to actually do it. I recommended this book on Shushengbar, I have posted up the ebook link along with audiobook links. Please check the site out for lots of wonderful recommendation and translations. 🙂
It’s the first of a series, but each novel is a stand alone story, don’t worry about picking up another book in the series and not being able to understand it. This book is horror with Chinese magic and fantasy elements, it is set in the present day, but probably a decade of so behind our current times, considering how it’s written a while ago.
I translated the first chapter simply as a teaser to accompany my recommendation. I do plan to translate more of it since I really love this series. 😀 Also, this is the first modern setting translation of mine, but lots of the elements are rather ancient, so yay~ 🙂 I’m not much for modern novels.
P.S. I feel a very strong *cough* FEELINGS between Jian Fei and Chuan Xun xD they weren’t there when I was reading it in Chinese. Perhaps this will inspire me to translate some BL? What do you think? I know some of you read BL, I KNOW! 😉
As always, please like, comment, and follow if you’ve enjoyed reading!~ Ciao! ❤
1 招魂铃, Spirit Evoking Bell or Spirit Calling Bell, fictional magical instrument, rings in the presence of ghosts and spirits.↩
2 俗家弟子, to put it simply, it’s someone who follows the ways of the Buddhist monks but keeps his or her hair.↩
3 黄符, used in the practice of magical arts, these are yellow paper with special red writing on them spelling out different orders. Can be used for multiple purposed based on the magic user’s wishes.↩
4 奈何桥, a bridge in The Underworld that all souls have to walk over and make their way to reincarnation.↩
5 洗冤池, literally translates to “pond that washes away injustice one has suffered”, a fictional place in the novel.↩
6 冤气, the feeling of having suffer injustice or being wronged is transformed into this energy. An accumulation of this energy makes a ghost more powerful.↩