“Coach 4, row 12, seat C.”

Tang Tian checked the seating once again, with one hand holding up her train ticket and the other arm wrapped around her bag. 

“Let me put your bags away for you.” The woman beside her swiftly picked up the luggage next to Tang Tian and placed it on the luggage rack. 

She was a well-built lady, despite being a few inches shorter than Tang Tian, and she lifted that luggage up with little to no effort, not even needing any help from Tang Tian.

“Thanks.” Tang Tian plopped down onto the window seat, pulled her backpack over her shoulders, and hugged it against her chest. 

It was rather loud and noisy in the train coach, whose walls were all painted green.
It was a day in July, and with so many passengers on board, the air was stuffy and hot despite the air conditioning.
Sometimes, one could smell the stench drifting from the toilet.
There were also a few kids on the coach, wailing and screaming, being intolerably rambunctious. 

Tang Tian frowned and clenched her fist against her stomach as it started throbbing in pain.
All this time, she had been on flights, and high-speed railways, and now she was on another train.
Extreme fatigue had piled up.
Now, she felt unbearable discomfort, but she still endured it on her own, not wanting to show her vulnerable side to anyone. 

“Are you in pain again? Take some medicine.” After taking care of their luggage, Wang Li sat down and handed a bottle of water to Tang Tian.
Her features were similar to that of an honest countryside woman, her eyes filled with care and sympathy as she looked at Tang Tian.

Tang Tian said a brief thanks, accepted the bottle and placed it on the table without drinking a sip.
If she drank this cold water, her stomach would ache even more.
She had just taken some painkillers before the start of the journey.
Looking at the time, the meds only lasted two hours.
It was becoming less effective. 

In her current state, taking any medication wouldn’t help much. 

So, out of wilfulness, she decided not to take any more.
She had gotten used to the pain anyway.
Their seats were at the end of the train coach.
Both were seated on the same row, facing the wall.
There were no empty seats next to them.
Tang Tian rested her head on the little table, with one hand underneath her head and the other against her stomach, facing the window while she closed her eyes to rest.

“Ring-” After a loud sound was blasted by the train horn, the train shook slightly and began to move.
Wang Li drank a gulp of water from the bottle and placed it back on the table after wiping her mouth with her hand.
She shot a glimpse at Tang Tian. 

From her peripheral view, the girl’s figure that was bent over on the table seemed as thin as paper.
The darkness beyond the train window contrasted the girl’s pale, sickly features.
Her silky, jet-black hair framed her face softly while her eyebrows were slightly scrunched up.
Her long eyelashes cast a blurry shadow under her eyes.
She had a high nose bridge, leading up to a slim and round nose tip.
Her lips which were tightened into a line were extremely pale.
It was as if her face was like a piece of calligraphy art painted with a brush dipped in light-colored ink.

Even if her sickly complexion was filled with exhaustion, her beauty still shone through. 

Under the woman’s gaze, the younger woman seemed to feel less pain.
So, she unclenched her fist and placed it on her thigh.
Her slender wrists seemed so frail, that one might just crush them with a simple pinch.
Blue-green vessels that lined the back of her hands were clear to anyone’s eyes as she had porcelain white skin.
Her fingers were also unconsciously twitching for some reason. 

The young lady’s side profile reflected on the train window showed an image of a girl with pallid features afflicted with sickness.
Throughout her 20 years of labor in this particular industry, she had seen it all.
Her heart was now numb to anything and everything.
But, somehow, due to this frail silhouette, she recalled how this girl endured her illness throughout the journey and felt her heart had softened a little, an occurrence so rare that it hadn’t happened in a long time.
She let a sigh escape her lips. 


What a pity that such a beautiful young lady was going to be married to someone from the Netherworld.

Spirit marriage, also known as ghost marriage, was a ritual in which a person was wed to someone who had died. 

In olden times, that was the common practice in the northern lands, as families of unmarried deceased people feared that their loved ones would be lonely in the Netherworld.
There was another saying that those who died unmarried couldn’t be buried, as it would disrupt the feng shui of the land.
So, families would hire a feng shui master to find a suitable wife or husband for the deceased, and bury both of their corpses together.
That was a ghost marriage.

It was such a rotten tradition that had been passed down for over a thousand years.
It had never once disappeared, even becoming a hugely profitable market. 

Such practices were especially popular in Shanxi Province and the neighboring lands.
Hence, it led to the revival of an ancient role named the “ghost matchmaker”.
Such matchmakers would be responsible for finding a good match for the dead.
Usually, they were familiar with tomb raiders, funeral arrangers, coffin makers, and hospital administrative staff.
They were their sources of information. 

Once a matchmaking request was completed, the ghost matchmaker could earn quite a hefty commission.

Wang Li’s husband was a feng shui master with limited knowledge of the field.
The two of them worked hand in hand, one conducting the religious rituals while the other would find a good match for the deceased.
More importantly, unlike other small businesses, they worked for rich and powerful clients.

Modest families were already so eager to plan for their unmarried deceased children, not to mention wealthy families. 

The Shanxi Province was famous since ancient times for its merchants, who were also known as the Jin Merchants.1 Many affluent businessmen originated from there. 

Throughout her twenty-year career, Wang Li was rather well-known in the social circle.
A while ago, a well-off family had requested her to organize a ghost marriage for their son who had died in an accident.
They even set really high prerequisites for the prospective match. 

Wang Li asked around her network later on.
There were a few, relatively new, female corpses.
But after letting the rich businessman peruse through their details, he wasn’t pleased.
He then opened the offer for others and raised the bid, announcing that they must find someone who can match his son’s stature and that his son must not be treated to anything less than the best. 

The entire industry was stunned.
Everyone started to mobilize their own resources to find the perfect match.
Wang Li dreaded seeing that the money that was almost hers was now available to others too. 

By coincidence, her mother fell ill.
When she went back to her old home in Shu Town, she met Tang Tian in a cancer hospital, in the same ward as her mother. 

When she arrived there, she was still hoping to find a match.
As a ghost matchmaker who usually only deals with the dead, she had to accept the fact that there were more men than women available in the market for matching, so she would include those who were on the verge of death in her list as well. 

And where could one find someone who was going to die? Of course, the hospital.
It was rumored that in the morgue of one of the hospitals in Shanxi Province, there weren’t many young female corpses to be found.

This was because if word came out that a young woman was in critical condition, it would attract the attention of the families of deceased, unmarried young men.
They would then fight to get ownership of the corpse and the woman’s family would choose the highest bidder, allowing them to just take the body away after the woman died.

When Wang Li first landed her eyes on Tang Tian, she knew she was the one her clients were looking for. 

She was just a fresh university graduate, with a sweet voice and attractive facial features.
A well-educated lady with an elegant aura, who had no remaining family members.
She was also seriously ill, with only a few months left to live. 

Such a gift from the heavens.

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