Wang Li whispered, “I heard, from the elders back in my hometown, about those who kill themselves by lying across the railway tracks.Their… their bodies are torn apart in ways one shudders to imagine—all their blood splattering across the railway tracks, while mangled limbs, scraps of skin and shards of bone get stuck to the train wheels…
“Because of that, their souls… are eternally bound to the train as well.
They wander from one train coach to the other, searching for their scattered remains to be gathered and pieced together.
And when the train passes through the location where they died, they are crushed to pieces again! The cycle then continues, forever and ever.
They are called Quartered Ghosts1…”
Tang Tian thought back to how the Quartered Ghost didn’t seem to be collecting its remains, but was taking something away from the passengers.
Wang Li gulped nervously.
“Did you… really see a… th-that thing?”
If anyone else had made the same claim, she would have taken it with a generous pinch of salt.
But this was Tang Tian—considering her condition as someone on the verge of death, if she said she saw something supernatural, it was much more likely to be real.
These past decades, Tang Tian had indeed had many inexplicable supernatural encounters.
Upon noticing the fear in Wang Li’s expression, Tang Tian stopped revealing further details and changed the topic, instead.
Wang Li’s conversation turned to the delicacies in Jin City2 Tang Tian listened supportively.
Through her peripheral vision, she noticed that both the old man and the children with the ashy grey haze over their heads began falling into a deep sleep.
The businessman sitting next to them also massaged the area between his brows, seemingly exhausted as well.
A thought flickered through Tang Tian’s mind: for the same man to appear twice in my dreams is too much of a coincidence.
She was suddenly reminded of the version of him she had seen in the photograph.
In the photo, he wore a simple white collared shirt that made his figure look tall and muscular.
His chiselled face and wide eyes were very attractive.
He could’ve easily been the senior class heartthrob that every high school girl dreamed of.
She thought back to the ghostly figure that had sat beside her quietly, with his gaze so piercing and lifeless.
While rubbing away the goosebumps on her shoulders, Tang Tian curiously wondered, What else changes in a person, between when they are alive and when they are dead?
Tang Tian didn’t dare to sleep for the rest of the journey.
She munched on a few biscuits that Wang Li brought and took a painkiller.
Finally, she made it to the end of the journey.
Wang Li made a few calls and happily told Tang Tian, “Well, great news.
The Chen family has sent their driver to pick us up.
Boss Chen3 will be returning to their ancestral estate as well.
He said he wants to see you for himself, and that the ceremony must be grand and extravagant!”
To have someone picking them up and relieving them of the hassle of travelling on their own was surely mood-lifting.
When Wang Li glimpsed at Tang Tian’s expressionless face, she added, “This is my first time seeing family members on the men’s side regard the bride-to-be so highly.”
“…” Tang Tian suddenly became keenly aware that she was about to see her in-laws as their daughter-in-law-to-be, and it made her feel extremely awkward.
After finishing her sentence, Wang Li abruptly felt it wasn’t right of her to say such a thing.
There was nothing about it to celebrate, as it wasn’t a wedding between two living humans.
Embarrassed, she glanced at Tang Tian.
“I didn’t mean it that way…”
Tang Tian only smiled in response.
“Please convey my thanks to Boss Chen.”
Even though the young lady seemed polite and said the words in a friendly tone, Wang Li felt as if she was stung by a bee, and dared not speak another word.
Throughout this journey, Wang Li had struggled to build rapport with the younger lady, whether it was due to her aura or cold personality.
Something about her intimidated Wang Li.
The station announcement echoed through the train coach, and the train came to a complete stop by the station.
Both of them gathered their belongings and stepped out from the train, following the crowd as they moved towards the exit, where they found someone waiting to pick them up.
A black Audi sped steadily through the bustling city centre and went up north, passing miles of beautiful countryside.
Soon after, huge estates with historical architecture could be seen on both sides of the road, though this wasn’t a tourist hotspot, as there were little to no pedestrians around the area.
After a three-hour car ride, they finally arrived at the old Chen family estate in Fen City.
“Here we are.
Be careful.” Wang Li helped Tang Tian out of the car, while the driver went to unload her luggage from the back of the car.
The sky had turned completely dark.
The historical estate that stood in front of Tang Tian resembled the architectural style of the late Ming and early Qing dynasties4 estates from the late Ming and early Qing dynasties can still be seen in certain old towns in Shanxi Province, China.
The Qing dynasty came after the Ming dynasty, which then led to the Republic of China.. By the entrance, two tall pillars stood on both sides, with interlocking wooden brackets joining them to the roof.
Two large white lanterns hanging by the front of the pillars danced along to the occasional gentle gusts of wind.
It looked just like something out of a period drama on television.
For a moment, Tang Tian felt as if she had travelled back to ancient times.
As Wang Li had paid a few visits previously, she noticed Tang Tian still gaping at the towering walls and informed her in a low voice, “The estates around this area are all private residential property, never open to the public.
“The surrounding area is either privately owned land or plantations. Barely anyone comes throughout the year.
But the Chen family is different.
This is their ancestral estate—ever since their ancestors became wealthy during the Song dynasty, this estate has been faithfully passed on from generation to generation.”
“Impressive.” Tang Tian barely had any understanding of the Chen family; she only knew they were rich, but she did not expect them to be that rich.
To own such an estate as their family home wasn’t something an ordinary affluent businessman could easily achieve.
Come to think of it, she was rather pleased to be able to marry into a rich family. To marry a rich man was her lifelong dream, now half-fulfilled.
She had gotten the “rich” part, a pity that the “man” had passed away.
Then again, what was pitiful about it? She was going to die soon, anyway.
It was a perfect match.
The corners of Tang Tian’s lips curled up into a smirk.
Wang Li stepped forward and gently rapped the copper door knocker against the large wooden door.
“Uncle Chen, are you there?”
She knocked a few more times before she heard faint, weary footsteps coming towards the entrance, followed by a loud creak.
The large entrance door opened slightly, revealing the face of an old man.
“Who is it?”
The voice was deep but hoarse.
In his hands was a white paper lantern with a big “奠” written in black ink in the centre.5 dim yellow light from the lantern shone on a face lined with countless wrinkles.
His dazed, greyish eyes stared directly at Tang Tian.
The name Quartered Ghost, or Che’lie Ghost (车裂鬼) actually refers to a form of death penalty in ancient times where the person receiving the penalty would have each of their four limbs and their neck tied to separate horse carts.
Then, as the horses pull away, the person would be ripped into four pieces, or quarters.. Hence, the term “quartered” came to be, later on.
Jin City (晋地) is a city within Shanxi Province.
Boss Chen refers to the current head of the Chen family, which was the father of the deceased male lead.
Historical estates from the late Ming and early Qing dynasties can still be seen in certain old towns in Shanxi Province, China.
The Qing dynasty came after the Ming dynasty, which then led to the Republic of China.
奠(Dian) is a symbolical word commonly displayed during funerals before the burial stage.
It literally means to provide offerings to the dead, referring in general to acts of mourning for the dead.
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