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Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Xiu He’s death was one factor. The weather was good on that day; it was windy and sunny. She seemed to be under a spell as she walked over to the side of the well with a blank stare on her face. His expressionless look changed suddenly into one that was incredibly fierce. She turned her head to look at everyone behind her, then plunged into the well with a plop.
At that time, there were a number of people who stopped to rest, and they saw Xiu He jump. There was only one well in the small town, and it was common for people to gather around it and chat whenever they had free time on their hands.
Upon seeing the scene, everyone turned frantic and came rushing over to save Xiu He. Oddly enough, despite the well’s relative shallowness as well as the crystal-clear water, they did everything they could and were still unable to bring Xiu He up. A few men, all proficient swimmers from the village, submerged their heads in the water over and over again but were simply unable to locate any traces of Xiu He.
Her embroidered shoes were still beside the well, yet it was as if she vanished from the surface of the earth. Coupled with the fact that those men were unable to locate her even though they dived into the water, the incident was something that was kept secret since no one was willing to talk about it.
However, things only got weirder from then onward. One by one, a few of the middle-aged women in the town disappeared mysteriously under similar circumstances. Some time later, even men were not spared. Be it woman or man, once they disappeared, their shoes – which they wore daily – were always present beside the well. Cries could sometimes be heard from the well, but those sounds stopped whenever someone walked up to the well.
Everyone was terrified and unsafe. In the end, the mayor had to seek the help of the government. Throngs of people from the government came again and again, but the disappearances showed no sign of waning. On the contrary, it was as if whatever that was causing those disappearances felt angry because the disappearances actually increased in number.
Just like that, it was not only people from the government who came over. Groups of scientists and researchers came by the bucketload in order to do some dig up some clues on what was going on. With the problem still unsolved, the number of people in the town diminished significantly. In light of that, the mayor no longer permitted outsiders to come in and repeated his warnings to everyone that the situation must not be exposed to the outside world.
The mayor’s actions managed to decrease the frequency of further disappearances. Up until then, about one pair of shoes would be found per year beside the well.
“We’re only trying to protect our lives, you see! Ay, I don’t feel so burdened now that I’ve said it all. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to see the sun tomorrow!” Niu Si drank a mouthful of wine and candidly laughed.
The rest of those at the table said nothing and continued drinking. Only one person seemed to be absolutely flabbergasted – Xu Lan.
If mentioning the incident would lead to death, then why was Niu Si so willing to risk himself? Could it be that he no longer wished to live? Each person approached death with different attitudes and to each their own, but Xu Lan was rather taken aback by Niu Si, since the latter was so aloof despite being young.
“Hey, big brother! You scared me a little when you said that, you know? I think that’s it for today. Everyone should go back and rest earlier today. We’ll look for some good places to sketch tomorrow.” Xu Lan ate the last remaining snack and said.
Niu Si and the shop owner exchanged glances that contained a hint of bewilderment. When they looked back at Xu Lan, Bai Wu had already helped him out of the shop. Life and drawing still life were two different things 1 . While the townspeople were trying hard to survive, the group of outsiders were treating life as an art.
With a sneer, Niu Si curled his lips at the shop owner and walked out.
Even though there were objections on Xu Lan’s side, no one was brave enough to say anything. When he climbed onto the bed back at the hostel, it was only seven in the evening.
It was a long day, and although the Xiu He incident continued to float around in his mind, he fell asleep not long later. No one seemed to hear the pitter-patter of flowing water that came from the rooftop.
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