The man's body was fading like his spirit was leaving. He was not long for this world. It was only a matter of time before his spirit dispersed into nothingness.
"My nightmare started then. The house was surrounded by fresh flowers and filled with laughter, but it was really a house of nightmares. We were all the shadow's playmates, but everyone's laughter was forced. The shadow planted the curse on everyone, but since I let Fang Yu go, he hated me a lot, and for that, he planted many curses on me. I suffered more pain than anyone else but that also made me stronger than the rest. In a way, the shadow didn't act like a Specter. He was in fact growing like a real person.
"Eventually, he stopped having any use for imaginary friends. What he needed was a guardian. He slaughtered all his previous 'family' because he only needed one survivor.
"After surviving the most pain and curses, I was the last 'survivor', the shadow seemed to like that a lot. At the time, I didn't know why, but later, I realized that it was all part of his plan. The shadow kept coming and going until the day he brought this altar."
The man glanced behind him. "There was a mud statuette inside it, and it had Fang Yu's name on it. When I saw her name, I had a bad feeling. I needed to leave this place and tell Fang Yu to leave Jiujiang, but everything was within the shadow's calculations. He purposely let me get close to Fang Yu so that the curse could be planted on her and her body could be made into his."
The man's words surprised Chen Ge. That was something Chen Ge did not expect. "The shadow wanted to turn Fang Yu into his own body?"
"Yes, there appeared to be something else inside his body. The thing possessed his memory and emotions. He seemed like he wanted to use Fang Yu's body to nurture that thing."
"A ghost fetus?"
"Yes, I think I heard the shadow mention something like that." This time, it was the man's turn to get shocked. "How is it possible that you know that?"
"You don't need to know how I know that. Just keep on telling your story." Chen Ge kept his focus sharp and pointed. He refused to miss even the smallest word. This was the chance that he was given to get as much information as he could on the shadow and the ghost fetus.
"The shadow appeared to be being chased by someone or something, but as he continued to grow, he stopped caring about those things that had been chasing him. Of the entire Jiujiang, there was one place that he did not dare to go-Western Jiujiang."
The more Chen Ge listened to the man's story, the more he felt like the shadow in the story was the shadow that he had encountered in Li Wan City. But the shadow in the man's story still had not separated himself from the ghost fetus, and his power was at its prime.
"The shadow searched all over Jiujiang and found nine altars in total. The one behind me is one of them. The nine altars contain nine mud statuettes that he personally made with his own hands. Each mud statuette relates to one person. Each represents one of his bodies."
"Wait a minute, I do not think I get what you are saying. What do you mean by each mud statuette represents one of his bodies? Does it mean that I will have killed the shadow if I manage to destroy all the mud statuettes?" Chen Ge now had found three altars. There were two altars inside the futuristic theme park, but one of them did not contain a mud statuette, so that was probably a fake. They probably made a replica of the altar from the real altar that the shadow or someone from the management at the futuristic theme park had moved into the Reincarnation Haunted House.
"I have no idea what will happen after you destroy all of the mud statuettes, but I would advise you not to do that. The shadow is different from any other Specter. You won't be able to kill him. No one is able to kill him." The man did not hold back any information. After all, he had nothing to lose. He was going to die from the curse that the shadow had planted on his body. He told Chen Ge everything he knew. "I have been carrying this altar for many years. Eventually, I noticed that the shadow left his presence on the altar, like the altar is an extension of the shadow itself. I suspect that the shadow is using the altars to have the mud statuettes inside them get used to his presence so that it will be more convenient for him to attach the ghost fetus to the candidates."
His voice was getting softer and softer, his breath getting ever weaker. "This altar used to be very scary, but some time ago, I don't know what happened to the shadow, but the presence around the altar suddenly weakened, and it became a lot more normal." This period that the man mentioned should be around the time when Chen Ge cooperated with Doctor Gao to deal with the shadow in Li Wan City.
Looks like the shadow's death has caused a certain influence on the ghost fetus.
Chen Ge stood up and looked into the altar. The inside walls of the altar had the word 'Death' carved all over then, but different from the altars at the futuristic theme park, there were nine blood soaked paper dolls stuffed inside this altar at the old house.
"Yet another nine paper dolls?" There was nothing on the paper dolls. They had no names, and they all looked about the same. "Nine altars, nine mud statuettes, and nine paper dolls. What is the ghost fetus planning to do with all these?"
Chen Ge's brows creased in thought. He tried to put himself in the shoes of the ghost fetus and see things from his perspective. "If I were the ghost fetus, at the most important moment when I'm about to reincarnate into a living person, I will ensure that there is no interruption from the outside world..."
Chen Ge felt like he had touched upon an important clue, but he did not have the time to figure it out because the man on the ground was about to fade away. Chen Ge turned his focus back to the man and tried his best to help him.
"You do not need to care about me. Just leave me be. The shadow's curse still lingers on my body. When I exposed this information to you, it was destined that I would fade away and die." The man seemed to have accepted his fate. "I thought I would surrender to the curse in the end, would be forced to do something that would harm Fang Yu, but this... this is the best ending that I could have hoped for."
"You have injured both me and my employees, and now you wish to leave just like that? Do you think that is possible? Do you think I will allow that to happen?" Chen Ge had the red high heels look after the man and help him pull out the curse from his body little by little. "There are people who still remember you in this world. You are her anchor that attaches her to this world, so no matter what, you have to go and meet her."
"As I told you earlier, I cannot!" The man's attitude suddenly changed. Some fight had returned to the man. "The moment she remembers anything about me, the shadow will trigger the curse that he has been planted on both of us, and she will die!"
The man was very adamant about this. His protectiveness over Fang Yu was probably what had kept him going for so long under the shadow's torture and the curse that was planted on him.
"I told you earlier, the shadow tricked me. When I saw Fang Yu's name on the mud statuette, I sneaked out to find Fang Yu. I am a ghost. Being under the sun is like jumping into a pit of fire, but to suppress the curse on my body from harming her, I insisted on meeting her during the day. The orphanage was no longer safe; the entire Jiujiang was not safe. She had to leave.
"I knew about what had happened to her, and I knew how difficult it will be for her to just get up and leave, so I tried my best to teach her how to survive on her own, how to live independently without relying on anyone else. I taught her to sew everything that she needed to do daily on her clothes. I tried to make her cultivate the habit of putting her wallet, ID, and contact number into her pocket before she slept. Everything I did, I did so that she could survive just fine without me. But I did not expect that was exactly what the shadow expected me to do. Those who were selected by him appeared to have to agree to cooperate with him to complete the final step, and the shadow was using me."
The man had lost the energy to struggle. There was anger, regret, disappointment, self-reprimand, and despair in his eyes.
"When the trace of the curse started to appear on Fang Yu, I did not know what to do. The only thing I could do was make her forget me, and that should be the simplest thing that she could do. I cleaned away my information from the orphanage and wiped away my faces from all the pictures. When I met Fang Yu at the park for the last time, I told her a lie.
"Every time she met me, she would have to ask for my name again. After hearing my answer, she would be very happy because it would have proven that she had not forgotten me. But on that last day, when she asked for my name, I did not tell her my real name; instead, I said her name. I told her that my name was Fang Yu. This was because I hoped that she would always remember herself and would never lose sight of herself. We stayed at the park until very late that night. That night, I did not walk her home. I watched her walk past the junction, and I stayed where I was at the park."
The story the man told filled the last piece of the puzzle, and Fang Yu's whole life appeared fully in Chen Ge's mind. Fang Yu and the boy had grown up together at the orphanage. One had a very bad memory, and she would always forget the past; the other had a language problem and would keep repeating the same thing. The two formed a bond and became best friends. Everything was fine until they went to the Eastern Jiujiang Dam, when the boy sacrificed himself to save Fang Yu.
Traumatized by that event, Fang Yu's condition worsened. But it was also during this period that boy fell into the shadow's plot. He sneaked out from the little house by the dam and wished to take Fang Yu away from Jiujiang. Based on the recollection of the old guard at the Children's Home, it was during this period that Fang Yu disappeared from the Children's Home. When he asked Fang Yu, Fang Yu only mentioned the word 'kite'.
Thinking back, on the day the boy disappeared, it was on the day of the spring tour for the orphanage at the Eastern Jiujiang Dam. Everyone was flying kites. The kite itself was an important clue, but the guard did not think too deep into its significance. He could not make the link.
The boy knew that he was carrying the curse and could not accompany Fang Yu anymore, so he kept trying to help Fang Yu learn how to live independently. That should be the happiest moment they had spent together, but it did not last long. After the boy found out about the shadow's plan, the only thing he could do was make Fang Yu forget about him.
The boy returned to the small house and must have been tortured endlessly by the shadow. The shadow planted so many curses on him and turned him into a faceless monster.
On the other hand, Fang Yu, whose memory became worse and worse, went to the small city park and waited for the boy to appear every night. Slowly but surely, she forgot who she was waiting for. She forgot the voice and the face of the person she was waiting for until there was only one name that was left in her mind-Fang Yu. Because that was the name that he had told her.
Now, the park was about to get demolished. When she thought that she would never wait for that person to return, Chen Ge found her. Their story was not that beautiful, but it touched Chen Ge.
He stood up and extended his hand toward the man lying on the ground.
"If you are worried about your curse harming Fang Yu, I will help you remove the curse. If you are worried that about revenge from the shadow and the ghost fetus, why not work with us to kill them? That way, no one will be able to harm the two of you anymore."
The man did not think that Chen Ge could really harm the ghost fetus; he was just trying to console a dying spirit.
"The shadow that you are so afraid of has already been torn apart in Li Wan City. Let me try to remember the exact date."
Then, Chen Ge gave an accurate date, and it was that day that the shadow's presence on the altar had weakened. In his story, the man did not tell the exact date to Chen Ge, but Chen Ge had named the exact date himself; only then did he realize that Chen Ge was not lying to him.
His eyes wandered between Chen Ge and the four Red Specters. The man finally reached out to touch Chen Ge's hand. "What do you want me to do? I will listen to you."