As Xia Lian slowly regained consciousness, his first sight was the stranger lying on the bed with him, a finger propping up Xia Lian’s chin and his expressionless face staring into Xia Lian.
Xia Lian’s pupils quickly widened, and he swiftly propped up his arms to squirm backwards, trying to get up and escape. The man calmly reached out his index finger and made an inviting gesture. Immediately, Xia Lian lost control of his whole body. No matter how hard he tried to move, none of his limbs even twitched. Just like a stiff wooden doll.
“You… Who exactly are you?”
“Don’t you recognise me? We met each other on the first day you came here, no?” The man raised his eyebrow, the corner of his lips lifting into a smirk. Although his posture seems carefree, he had a rather disciplined character and his whole body exuded a faint bloody aura. Though the man appeared to be laughing, it felt like there was deep wickedness hidden underneath that smile.
“Don’t know, don’t remember.” Using this reason was definitely fruitless, but Xia Lian honestly could not think of when he came across this kind of crazy entity, “Could it be… You came from that JiaYuan checkerboard stone downstairs?” Xia Lian carelessly blurted out.
“That wasn’t any common stone, it is a sealing artifact that caused me to lie dormant for many years. However, it became completely useless when it cracked open.” The man was forced into an endless sleep while he was restrained by that artifact.
Until recent decades, the bloodline of the clan that created the stone slowly died off, causing the artifact’s sealing powers to slowly weaken until he was able to wake up from his deep sleep. Coincidentally, the stone cracked open when humans bumped into the stone during renovating, allowing him to regain his freedom completely.
However, even after such a long sleep, he didn’t immediately come out. He wasn’t in a hurry anytime soon. In fact, he still took the time to recognise how the current world works.
Xia Lian is just someone that piqued his attention. After all, in this whole compound, he could be considered as the most tenacious of tenants, living where the Black Filth was most concentrated. He honestly left a deep impression, but the man never bothered to care more. It was only tonight when he was provoked by that familiar scent that triggered unhappy memories of being exorcised and sealed into the artifact by a band of Taoist priests did he bitterly straight up go looking for Xia Lian’s rental house to scare him.
“Just now, when I impersonated your friend, Huang Hao, it was very similar, hm? I didn’t expect you to sense anything was off. But then all of a sudden you fainted. Truly boring when I, for your sake, had prepared an even more terrifying show, ne?” To have all those extremely vile things done to him being taken as a joker, and the man was only mournful that the fright show was left incomplete.
“So then, what are you?” Something requiring a sealing artifact to restrain him, and still possessing knowledge of his surroundings after being dormant for god knows how long. Xia Lian could feel it in his bones, this man before him would be so much more annoying than the humanoid mold in his house.
“Humans like to call me a demon, but I’d love to be named. You may call me Lu Zhiqiu.” He grinned, showing off his mouth full of fangs. The demon who called himself Lu Zhiqiu spelled out his name with smoke that manifested before Xia Lian’s eyes. His hand still held onto Xia Lian’s unmoving hand, “But first, let’s dispose of that Black Filth in your body, otherwise you won’t be able to see tomorrow’s sunrise.”
Although this human’s character had little to no interest for the demon, the years of loneliness and boredom without anyone to converse with made him decide in that moment that he could let this human live a little longer. Company and having someone to talk to was also good, after all.
To undo the curse paralysing Xia Lian into a stiff doll, Lu Zhiqiu roughly grabbed up Xia Lian’s hands, tilted down his head and leaned closer to Xia Lian’s slender, fair fingers. Sticking out a scarlet tongue, he pressed his tongue against Xia Lian’s ice cold fingertips and slowly licked them.
Xia Lian could only feel a slow breath flowing over his skin, something warm and damp wrapping around his numb fingertips. His Adam’s apple involuntarily dipped, “Do you want to eat me, or do you want to help me?”
“Helping you.” Li Zhiqiu replied, rolling his eyes impatiently at Xia Lian. “You aren’t delicious anyway.” Disintegrating the Black Filth’s structure like this did seem to draw out an antidote. It tasted like a mouthful of numbing raw persimmon, definitely not to Lu Zhiqiu’s tastes.
The light grey color staining all ten of his fingertips was licked off by Lu Zhiqiu’s tongue. Afterwards, his fingertips bubbled up black fluids that dripped down, slowly streaming onto the sheets. That serum didn’t seep into the sheets, instead it seemed to move with purpose towards the wall. The moment it sunk into the wall, it merged into the human shaped mold blocked behind the layer of wallpaper.
“Why is your face red?” After Lu Zhuqiu finished licking off Xia Lian’s fingertips, he raised his head and saw Xia Lian’s whole face had reddened to the color of crimson blood. How curious, the Black Filth should have been expelled, the fever was supposed to go lower, not flare up.
“Unnh Uhh…” He can’t say that just by having his fingertips licked by a man, oh no- an unknown monster freak, his fingers became extremely sensitive. Xia Lian hid behind his raised hands, covering Lu Zhiqiu, but not because of his fever-blushed face. He tried to escape the question and shift the topic by asking, “Then, what do you think is delicious?”
“….” Hearing his instant, straightforward answer, Xia Lian thought inwardly that it was no wonder he was sealed up. “How many have you eaten?”
“How can I count when clearly, I’ve started eating ever since the beginning. Tell me, do you remember how many grains of rice you’ve eaten?”
Definitely a demon, he can’t remember how many humans he’s eaten.
“Then, you’re still eating people now?”
“Humans nowadays don’t smell delicious. They stink, marinated with too many kinds of scents, and their fumes hurt my nose.” Originally, in the past, every person had their own original scent and taste. Lu Zhiqiu, at no time in the past would’ve thought that both men and women would now emit various putrid scents he has never smelled before. It was too difficult for his nose to adjust and accept things as they are.
“Do you have a preference for humans? I heard that demons like to eat kids?” Hearing that the current Lu Zhiqiu has not eaten any humans, this allowed Xia Lian to relax the knot in his heart a little. He thought how in the old days, there were so many who liked to use children in feudalistic cult rituals as sacrificial offerings to gods or deities, but he didn’t know if the demon in front of him was a participant of those things.
“Children? No, I don’t like them. They smell too weak, like unripen, flat, tasteless fruit. I hate human children the most.”
Speaking of kids, Lu Zhiqiu immediately frowned and shook his head. “I like an evil heart. The more wicked deeds a person has done, the more tasteful their heart is. Just like how you humans love older liquor, they have more depth to their taste.”
Remembering the feast he had in the times before he was sealed off, biting into that mouthful of warm beating heart with blood messily spilling out. That taste, now that was truly something divine.