The sudden disappearance of the light cast where Chen Ge's group was standing into darkness.
"What's happening?" Both Master Bai and Ol' Wei were spooked. Chen Ge's hand hung in midair and did not fall on the door. "I'm not sure. It doesn't seem like a coincidence."
There was no wind, and the lantern was hung high enough that they would notice if someone reached out to extinguish the light. The other white lanterns swayed even though there was still no wind.
It felt weirdly suffocating.
Chen Ge and Ol' Wei turned to look at Master Bai, but he had not experienced this before either. "Shall we retreat for now?"
He walked two steps back and turned to look down the road, then he stopped. "Be careful, someone's coming!"
"Who?" Chen Ge looked down the direction Master Bai was looking. Under the glow of the swaying lanterns, a blurry human-shaped shadow slowly approached them. "It seems to be waving at us?"
The shadow moved faster, and Chen Ge finally got a good look at it. It was an old lady who was wearing a dark-colored jacket. She kept her head lowered as she moved forward, and she only stopped when she almost ran into Chen Ge.
"You also came from the outside?" The old lady's voice was weird and made Chen Ge feel uncomfortable.
Noticing the old lady's choice of words, Chen Ge asked in return, "Also? There's another party that entered the village earlier?"
"Yes." The woman kept her head lowered when she spoke like she was afraid of others seeing her face. Chen Ge was reminded of Jiang Ling's sister. The villagers of Coffin Village were born with abnormalities, so Chen Ge would not be rude enough to purposely sneak a look at the old lady's face.
"Was it a middle-aged man and two kids who entered the village before us?" Chen Ge asked a follow-up question, but the old lady ignored him. It seemed like she was not there for Chen Ge. Keeping her head lowered, it felt like the old lady's head was almost falling to the ground. However, she did not seem bothered by this. "Don't knock on the door at night. It might not be people who answer the door."
It was unclear who the old lady was talking to. She blocked them in the middle of the road, and the lanterns on both sides swayed harder.
"Things have been complicated in the village lately. Don't wander about. Come with me, I'll bring you somewhere to stay." The old lady turned to head back in the direction she came from. Her steps were small, but she moved fast. Combined with her head that almost reached her chest, the whole thing was just weird.
"Shall we follow her?" Ol' Wei turned to look at Chen Ge and Master Bai. When he saw the old lady earlier, he already wanted to leave.
"Let's follow her for now." It was Master Bai who spoke. "I feel familiar around the old lady. Is it possible that I've seen her when I came to visit as a child?"
Master Bai walked ahead, and Chen Ge as well as Ol' Wei followed behind him. The old lady led them deeper into Coffin Village. They took several turns before they stopped. "Tonight, you can stay here. We can discuss the rest when morning comes."
She still kept her head lowered, and the tone of her voice had not changed; it felt like they were talking to a puppet. "There are three rooms inside the house. Each of you can take one. Remember to stay inside your room, and do not share rooms. Do not touch the rope on the window or the cleaver behind the door. Stay in bed and wait for the night to pass."
"One room each? We'll share one room; it'll be fine for one night." Master Bai had to stay close to Chen Ge. If he did not keep a good watch on him, he would run off on his own.
"There are three rooms inside the house; each of you can take one..." To their surprise, when Master Bai said so, the old lady only repeated her earlier instruction, but this time, her tone was uglier.
"Granny, we're here to look for two children. We have no time to waste, especially not until morning. Can you bring us to meet the other group who came from outside?" Chen Ge studied the old woman and could not find anything weird about her. Could it really be her face?
When the old lady turned around, Chen Ge bent down to glance at her face. The face was totally normal.
The eyes are still there, and the face looks normal, but she does look familiar, Chen Ge thought to himself. He looked at the old lady and then glanced at Master Bai. "Master Bai, you said the old lady gives you a sense of familiarity, could she be from Lin Guan Village?"
"I didn't see her face, but based on her attire, you might be right." Master Bai pushed the door open. The place was not big.
"Looks like someone from Lin Guan Village and familiar to you and me." Chen Ge thought about it, and his face slowly changed. "Wait, I know who she is!"
"Ol' Wei, do you still remember the first home we visited when we arrived at Lin Guan Village?"
"Yes, the owner was a middle-aged farmer." Ol' Wei had good memory.
"He has a shrine in his room, and an old lady's black-and-white photo sat on it." Chen Ge kept his voice lowered. "The old lady who showed us the way earlier looks exactly like the old woman in that picture!"
"How is that possible‽ Are you sure?" Ol' Wei couldn't believe Chen Ge.
"Now that you mention it, she does look like an old lady from Lin Guan Village!" Master Bai made the connection in his mind. "But that old lady died a long time ago!"
"No matter what, it has happened." Chen Ge calmed down quickly. "If the old lady is not a living person, then should we still stay in the home that she assigned for us?"
The white paper on the door fluttered. Neither Master Bai nor Ol' Wei could not make the decision.
"Let's go in to take a look first. The old lady had a good relationship with me before she died; she won't harm us.
"At least, I think she won't."
Chen Ge's group entered the home, and the place was similar to other houses, but there was not a white lantern outside the door.
"This isn't like what the old lady said; there's only one room in here." Chen Ge walked in front, and after crossing the empty courtyard, he opened the inner room door.
A weird smell drifted out from the room. When they got used to it, the three of them turned to look inside the room with their eyes bulging. Inside the home's only room sat three black coffins.
"One home, three rooms? Could the old lady be referring to the coffins?" Ol' Wei's face was completely white. "Something is seriously not right with this place; we should leave."