Heroine’s Road to Becoming Scum - Chapter 1
She didn’t know where she was
It was dark all around, and quiet to the point where she couldn’t even hear her own breathing.
Wait… Was she even breathing?
She stretched out her hand to feel her breath and it was unnaturally cold and silent. Right, she remembered now. She was dead.
But… how did she die? Why was she dead? Who was she? What was her name?
She couldn’t remember – she couldn’t remember anything at all.
How did she come to this place? She wasn’t able to see anything around her. A heavy black mist blanketed her and even as a ghost, she felt bitterly cold. Her feet moved forward automatically; she didn’t know how long she walked for before she heard the faint sound of a river churning. She hesitated for a bit before walking a few steps forward until a bright light appeared before her. A river so wide she couldn’t see the opposite bank stood in front of her. It was level and calm, but seemed inexplicably turbulent. Over the river, there was an exquisite bridge with nothing at the bridge’s head except for a big stone.
The stone was plain and unassuming with nothing on its surface. But, as she stood there like a demon, her life’s story slowly appeared in writing on the stone. Tang Qing Huan. Female. Aged nineteen. Died in Dasong Kaiyuan, the fifteenth year. She fell in love once during this lifetime, and in the end, took her own life when the one she loved was someone who wasn’t meant for her.
Qing Huan’s lips trembled, and she covered her heart. It was empty but it still felt painful. The memory that was once forgotten swiftly returned to her mind. She had once loved a man so deeply she willingly gave her whole life to him. However, in the end, she ended up heartbroken and commiting suicide.
It really hurts.
How could ghosts also feel pain?
Just as her tears were about to fall, the black mist on her right slowly dispersed, and Qing Huan noticed that there was a man in a dragon robe sitting silently beside the stone. The robe was supposed to be embroidered with an eight-claw golden dragon but the once magnificent dragon robe was now old and broken, almost like it would turn into dust and smoke with a single light breath. The reason why Qing Huan didn’t notice him at first was because he didn’t move, his eyes were staring blankly ahead and even his hair seemed to be frozen in time.
Qing Huan walked over and asked, “This… Your Majesty, may I ask, do you know where this is?”
The man did not speak, as if he hadn’t heard Qing Huan’s question. He seemed to have become one with that stone. The stone was him, and he was the stone. He sat there in silence, with his hands on his knees and around him, time and space, including the dust in the air, remained motionless.
Qing Huan no longer insisted. She turned to the bridge and stepped on it hesitantly. She didn’t know how long she had been walking, and her heart was at a loss. As she walked, she suddenly discovered that there seemed to be a small shop on the bridge. The shop was in the style of a thatched house, very simple. A few wooden tables stood outside the shop and a bowl of steaming soup sat on one of the tables. The soup was translucent, like clear water, but emitted a seductive fragrance. A little girl sporting double buns was sitting there, stretching her arms to stir the soup in the iron pot with the spoon in her hand.
Qing Huan couldn’t bear it, so she went forward and said softly, “Let me help you.”
The little girl was taken aback for a moment, and when she turned around, she instantly smiled happily when she saw her. Qing Huan couldn’t help but be infected by this smile and took the spoon from the little girl’s hand to stir gently. The little girl sat on a nearby bench, kicking her legs. She sat there, simply looking at Qing Huan curiously both hands on her chin for a while before asking, “Big sister, to thank you for helping me, shall I treat you to a bowl of soup?”
“…No, I don’t want to drink it,” Qing Huan grinned reluctantly, not wanting to scare the cute child in front of her. She was just a ghost. When does a ghost need to drink soup? Besides, how could a ghost drink soup?
“But if you don’t drink, you will never forget that person.”
Hearing this, Qing Huan was astonished and inexplicably horrified, and wiped her head back to look at the little girl. The little girl blinked and looked at her with big, black and white eyes, and waved her small hand, “Big sister, look at the words there.”
Qing Huan followed her fingers and looked over. The bridge piers were engraved with three characters: Naihe Bridge (1). Black piers, black bridges, black words.
TL Note (1): In Chinese mythology, the Naihe Bridge is found in Diyu (the realm of the dead). Naihe Bridge, meaning “Bridge of Helplessness” is a bridge every soul must cross to be reincarnated. Meng Po (meaning Old Lady Meng), is the goddess of forgetfulness and serves soup at the bridge which wipes the memories of those who drink it. This prepares these ghosts for reincarnation into the next life without the burdens of their previous life.
“Big Sister, you have two choices. One is to drink this bowl of soup and walk forward until you reach the end. Or…” The little girl retracted her smile, “You can jump down.”
As soon as her voice fell, the sound of ghosts crying and howling like wolves suddenly sounded from inside the river. Countless ghosts were being pushed and pulled along the stream of the river There were men and women, old and young. The only thing they had in common was that they were crying all the time. Their harsh cries made Qing Huan shiver all over. Under the stares of all the ghosts, she involuntarily took a step back. Their faces…maybe they could no longer be called faces anymore… Only the madness and obsession in their eyes made Qing Huan recognize that they were once human.
“You already passed the ghost gate. As long as you drink this bowl of soup, you can reincarnate,” the little girl smiled, got off the stool and walked to Qinghuan. The ghosts in Wangchuan River were still there, screaming and crying. The river was muddy to the point it was hard to tell its colour and so wide that the opposite side was invisible. The ghosts in there were all unwilling to leave.
“They were all ghosts who jumped from here. They can’t reincarnate nor can they maintain their sanity unless their loved ones pass here and recognizes them – but they can’t talk,” the little girl sighed, “I have been here for a very long time, and not a single ghost has ever been able to leave here. After being in the river for so long, many have long forgotten who they were waiting for. Even if their lover passed by, they wouldn’t be able to recognize them anymore. .”
The little girl said old-fashionedly, “This kind of love is so troublesome. Big sis, you might as well just drink this bowl of soup and go ahead.”
Qing Huan watched the crying ghosts in the river silently.
Seeing that she was not talking, the little girl looked at her with her chin propped in her hand, and asked after a while, “Big sister, do you know someone named He Lianfang?”
Hearing this name, Qing Huan abruptly turned around to look at her, “…She is my benefactor.”
“Ah…this is troublesome,” the little girl pouted. “She was supposed to be the one to replace me, but I waited for her for a long time and she still hasn’t come. Logically speaking, she should have died long ago!”
Qing Huan hurriedly asked, “Why would she die? When I died, she was young and had just gotten pregnant!”
The little girl replied, “She should have died when she was twelve because she was coming to replace me.”
“No!” Qing Huan blurted out, “She’s not dead. She won’t die. Why don’t you… let me take your place. It just so happens that I don’t want to be reincarnated. I…”
The little girl laughed when she heard the words, and asked, “Sister, would you be willing to stay? Your breath is very clean so you can stay here. If you replace He Lianfang, she can live and return back to when she is 12 to live again!”
Qing Huan nodded hurriedly, “I am willing.”
“Okay, then it’s settled, ” The little girl smiled with satisfaction, walked over and took Qing Huan’s hand, “Come with me.”