When he returned to Coffin Village this time, Chen Ge was admittedly a bit excited. When he last came, he only managed to capture a small number of ghosts, and he let most of them escape from him. Coffin Village was very unique compared to other scenarios. While other scenarios had their basis in urban legends, the ghosts here had their origins from folklore, and that made them stand out from the rest.
"The completion rate at Coffin Village's mission is also very low. Basically, I just took a look behind the door before I was chased out again. I was not given the chance to give it a good exploration. Perhaps the secret of the woman from the well can be found behind the door."
The woman from the well had been around for a very long time. She was a very mysterious figure and knew many secrets. In fact, she appeared to have entered the deeper part of the red city through her own blood door before.
The night breeze carried on the wind, but Chen Ge did not feel cold. If anything, he felt refreshed and energized. With Jiang Ling's elder sister leading the way, Chen Ge entered Coffin Village once more.
Dragging the Doctor Skull Cracker's Hammer and holding the comic in his hands, Chen Ge entered and checked every single house that they passed like he was a population checking member from the government. Every family in Coffin Village had at least one coffin inside their home. The tradition was used in the past to honor and appease their ancestors. Strange as that was, there was nothing wrong with that culture. However, due to the presence of the lady from the well, this tradition had been twisted, and coupled with the constant influence from the 'door', it had caused Coffin Village to become a very scary scenario.
Most of the people in the city would never imagine that such a secluded 'paradise' existed in the middle of the mountains.
"Even after so much time, it appears like nothing has changed about this place." Coming back to Coffin Village, Chen Ge was feeling quite emotional. Looking at the 'reward' that he had reaped so far inside his comic, he was feeling quite satisfied. From the mouth of the village to the center of the village, the white lanterns above the houses shook unsettlingly. More and more shadows appeared at the small pavilion that was the city center.
The villagers that stayed there seemed to have been gathered together. However, they did not seem to be there to welcome Chen Ge. Every single one of them looked at him with a dark and empty expression. History repeated itself. When Chen Ge first entered Coffin Village, something similar had happened, but at the time, it was not the villagers and Chen Ge who had been caught in a lockdown at the city pavilion.
"A few of you look familiar." Chen Ge and Jiang Ling's sister took one step forward. "Don't act like that. It's not like there is a deep gulf of hatred between us. If anything, the last time I was here, I was being chased around the whole village by all of you. So, I should be the one that should be feeling a certain way, not the other way round."
When Chen Ge spoke, the numerous Red Specters guarded beside him.
This time, the villagers were much more 'obedient'. They looked and acted like normal villagers from a backward place that were going about their normal life. One of the doors of the bigger houses in the city opened. A woman covered in various accessories walked out from the courtyard. Her surname was Zhu. She was one of the most trusted confidants chosen by the woman from the well. Normally, it was this lady who managed everything that happened in the village.
"Hello, we meet again." Chen Ge and his employees headed toward Ms. Zhu. The latter had a complicated expression on her face before she decided to receive Chen Ge and his entourage with a smile.
Ms. Zhu forced herself to ask, "Chen Ge, why have you come to us in the middle of the night again?"
"Everything is fine with Jiang Ling, so don't you worry about that." Chen Ge first discussed the update with Jiang Ling before he slowly segued into the real reason he was there. "Actually, I am here today because I have something that I wish to discuss with the Red Specter from your village. Don't worry, I just want to discuss somethings with her. Nothing more."
The moon was dark, and the wind was harsh. The villagers were huddled together. Ms. Zhu had her brows knitted in a deep lock. Those who did not know the truth would probably think that Chen Ge was some kind of heartless land developer who had gone there to give them an ultimatum-'Move away now, or I would come back tomorrow with the equipment to level this place.'
"After her last appearance, she has not appeared from behind the door. Even the ghost baby has been taken away." Ms. Zhu looked at the Red Specters behind Chen Ge before she decided to tell the truth. There were two Red Specters at the Coffin Village. The woman from the well was unimaginably strong, but she had been seriously injured in her desire to reincarnate as a living human. On the other hand, the ghost baby was only slightly stronger than a normal Specter. In comparison, he was almost as powerful as Men Nan.
"That sounds like she might be in trouble behind the door." Chen Ge thought about it for some time. "There is no other choice. Midnight is coming soon. Since she is unable to come out to see us, we will have to enter the door to find her."
If not for the fact that he had been busy with every other thing in his life, Chen Ge would have returned to Coffin Village and visited the world behind its door a long time ago.
"Is that really a good idea?" For the villagers of Coffin Village, the woman from the well was almost their deity. They would make sacrifices and conduct ceremonies in her name, like how the traditional people would praise the river god, and that door was equal to the place where their 'god' lived.
"There is nothing wrong with it. When you lay everything out in the open, there won't be any misunderstanding anymore." Chen Ge remembered the location of the door. If there was one thing that he was proud of, it was his memory. After getting permission from Ms. Zhu, Chen Ge carried his backpack and led his employees to the home where the lady from the well had stayed when she was still alive. They found the door. When midnight struck, he pushed the door open with the aid from several Red Specters.
A thick blood fog rolled over to envelope his body. Chen Ge narrowed his eyes, and he soon discovered something was wrong.
"How is this possible?" Coffin Village behind the door had practically been leveled!
Scary scratches could be seen everywhere, and there were multiple lashes on the ground and walls that were probably left behind by chains and shackles!
"Coffin Village behind the door has been destroyed?" Chen Ge found it hard to believe his own eyes. He had his employees guard beside him, and he went on very high alert. "Blood vessels and curses have soaked into the ground. Just standing here puts me in a very unsettling feeling."
Chen Ge took a careful look around. His eyes moved between the chains, the residual blood vessels, and curses.
"Is this Doctor Gao's doing? When I met him at Li Wan City, he was hugging the skull of his own wife, and his whole body was wreathed in thick, iron chains."
When Chen Ge encountered Doctor Gao at Li Wan City, he had already been a Top Red Specter, but after sharing the shadow's heart with Zhang Ya, perhaps he had already transformed into a Demon God just like Zhang Ya.
"The Ghost Stories Society once visited Coffin Village, but they had returned empty-handed that time because of my interruption..."
The more Chen Ge thought about it, the more he was confident that the culprit behind this devastation was Doctor Gao, but he could not wrap his head around why Doctor Gao, who was already a Top Red Specter, would return to Coffin Village.
"Could it be that the woman from the well has really mastered the method to help a ghost reincarnate? Be it in life or after death, to raise his wife from the death has been the great obsession of Doctor Gao. To that end, it is possible that he would doing to make that happen."
Humanity was a complicated thing, but something it could be incredibly simple. Doctor Gao was the perfect example. He was the best psychologist in Jiujiang, but at the same time, he was also the scariest madman in Jiujiang.
Standing at the destroyed village, Chen Ge's expression was one of worry and concern.
"When I was doing the mission at Coffin Village, I ran into people from the Ghost Stories Society. One of them was Wu Fei, and the other one should have been carrying the dead body of Doctor Gao's wife.
"At the time Doctor Gao was busy fighting outside the village, while Wu Fei entered the door. This arrangement had no problem. It was extremely logical..."
If the suspect was not Doctor Gao, Chen Ge would not have wasted so much time analyzing everything.
"Is it possible that Doctor Gao predicted his ending a long time ago? Was he prepared to become a Red Specter when he was still alive? After Wu Fei was led into the door in Coffin Village by the lady from the well, he became the opening for the woman to get to know the Ghost Stories Society, but at the same time, it became how Doctor Gao managed to confirm the location of the door at Coffin Village and the coordination of Coffin Village in the world behind the door."
The more Chen Ge thought about it, the more unsettled he felt.
"That's right! Before Doctor Gao committed suicide, he even tried to enter the door at my own haunted house. He left the carving of the demon on the door, and that was a marking of a coordination for him as well!
"The plan started when he was still alive, and then he would go and carry it out after he was dead. This whole thing was a set up that had traversed the limitation of life and death that had encircled the whole city?"
Goosebumps started to cover the back of Chen Ge's neck.
"What is it that Doctor Gao is up to? How many secrets has he collected?"
This former chairperson of the Ghost Stories Society caused Chen Ge a little bit of panic. If this was anyone else, Chen Ge might have used the most direct method to deal with it. He would capture the person and use various interrogation methods to force the person to tell the truth. But this kind of method would not work on Doctor Gao. The latter was such a master manipulator and reader of people's minds that there was a very high chance that Chen Ge would be the one that ended up being persuaded by Doctor Gao.
After finding out about Doctor Gao's real identity, Chen Ge did not dare give it much thought; that was how scary Doctor Gao was. Facing a powerful enemy like Doctor Gao who was much more clever and cunning than he was, Chen Ge's countermeasure was the most basic and barbaric. If he was captured, he would directly feed Doctor Gao to Zhang Ya.
"If Doctor Gao has regained his rationality, this situation will become even more complicated and hard to predict." Chen Ge knew that he was getting closer and closer to the truth, but it was also at moments like these that he had to remind himself to be more careful. "All the secrets are intertwined together. Everyone has their own obsession. If some are destined to win, then others are destined to lose. "
Chen Ge inspected Coffin Village behind the door alongside his workers. They failed to find anything related to the woman from the well and the ghost baby. Coffin Village behind the door was practically engulfed in the blood fog, as if the memory of whoever created this scenario was slowly dispersing into nothingness. Thankfully, because of that, the door at Coffin Village was easy to open. Chen Ge and his group also easily found their way back into the living world.
"The woman from the well probably has gone into hiding in the red city. Doctor Gao is probably there as well. Both of them must know something that I don't."
Before he came to Coffin Village, Chen Ge did not expect something like this. After he ended up with nothing, Chen Ge left the world behind the door with the aid from his group of Red Specters. Ms. Zhu was standing outside the door waiting for them. From her point of view, it had only taken several minutes for Chen Ge to return from behind the door.
"Have you seen her?"
Chen Ge naturally knew who this 'her' was referring to. He closed the door and ensured that no one was eavesdropping on them before he revealed the truth. "I have to tell you some unfortunate news. The Coffin Village behind the door has been levelled to a barren land. It is now filled with curses and blood. I am unable to find that woman."
"You can't find her?" Ms. Zhu's expression changed instantly.
"Don't panic first. She has probably just gone somewhere else, but you'd better keep this to yourself. Do not share it with anyone else." Chen Ge sighed. "Since I cannot find her, I will have to turn to you in the hopes that you will be able to answer some of my questions."
"Ask me anything. I will tell you everything I know." After hearing that the woman from the well was not behind the door, Ms. Zhu's attitude became much better.
"The woman from the well has had a horrible life, and even after death, she was not given a moment of peace. That was the reason she tried so hard to reincarnate into a person. As the person who knew her best in this village, can you tell me what she has done to that end? What has she ordered for her attempts at reincarnation?" Chen Ge was quite interested in this topic.
"I do not know her actual method myself, but I did hear from my great grandmother that as long as I prepare coffins that have buried the past and vessels that are bursting with new life for her, she will leave me alone."
"Coffins that have buried the past? Vessels that are bursting with new life?"
"Yes, the coffins are used to bury all the past memory and tragedies. After the coffins are buried, you will lose everything that you once owned. In other words, from that moment on, you were no longer yourself." Ms. Zhu tried to remember what her great grandmother had once told her. "The vessels are the newborns. I do not know the actual details, but I know that the village will select a female baby without any physical defects every ten years and send her into that room."
"Put the female baby inside the room where the 'door' is? You people allow a baby to be in the same room as a Red Specter?"
"She is as gentle and as kind as a mother before a baby, but before others..." Ms. Zhu glanced at the door inside the house, and she stopped herself.
"I think I get the gist. For the woman from the well, to complete the reincarnation, she needs to fulfil two conditions. One, she has to bury her past, and two, she needs to find a suitable vessel." Chen Ge stood inside the room and tried to link everything that had happened in Li Wan City together. "The Bury Seed ritual that I heard about in Eastern Jiujiang is a method of sowing a soul into the heart of another child. These cases in Eastern Jiujiang should be the ghost fetus' own attempt at this method."
For the ghost fetus, the vessel would be one of the nine children selected by him. The woman from the well only had her selection of choice from the villagers of Coffin Village, so perhaps that was why she had failed for so long. But the ghost fetus was free to have his pick all around Jiujiang, so his success rate was much higher.
With regards to the coffin that buried the past, this hint reminded Chen Ge of something that had happened in Eastern Jiujiang earlier. When he was at Eastern Jiujiang Dam for the Bury Seed mission, he had found a floating coffin at the bottom of the dam. Many dolls with names carved on them had been placed inside the coffin, and it was also inside the coffin that Chen Ge found the main body of the water ghost.
But the scariest thing was the floating coffin was hiding a large hole behind it. Chen Ge had no idea where it led, but Chen Ge still remembered very clearly that Xu Yin had warned him from moving further in, and they had left as soon as possible.
"That coffin was buried with the ghost fetus' past?"
Then again, Chen Ge did not believe a single coffin could bury the past of a Demon God. He felt like the bigger possibility was that the ghost fetus' past was buried inside that cave at the bottom of the dam.
"That is key information!"
Chen Ge asked Ms. Zhu some more questions and then left Coffin Village with Jiang Ling's elder sister. Not counting this night, he only had one night left, so he wanted to hurry to Eastern Jiujiang Dam to take a look. Moving through the mountains and trekking through the forest, when Chen Ge returned to Jiujiang, the sun was coming up the horizon already.
Without wasting any time, Chen Ge hurried to Eastern Jiujiang Dam. The place was so isolated that not many taxi drivers were willing to take him there, so that took even more time out from his clock.
It was not until seven in the morning that Chen Ge finally arrived at his destination. When he got out of the taxi, he felt like his body was about to crumble already.
He had been conducting the Ghost Fetus trial mission for nine consecutive nights already, and every single night, he had tackled a door. This kind of fatigue was not only on his body-it took a much deeper toll on his mind. The breeze from the lake buffeted his body as Chen Ge carried his backpack to walk toward the dam.
The air at this place was very refreshing. The only downside was that the place was so secluded, and there was barely any human traces.
Chen Ge found the small hut of the dam manager based on the memory. He was about to knock when he suddenly saw a mother jump over the railing with a child in tow. The mother was holding her child's hand as she stared at the still water of the surface silently.
What are they trying to do?
Chen Ge was worried that she might do something rash, so he quickly ran toward her.