A month did pass very quickly and Wan Mei grew up at an astonishing rate in that month. Her beauty could be seen under her skin a beauty that could be ignored.
But Wan Mei did not know this herself. She only knew she passed each day painfully. That despicable Xiao San seemed to use everything to shame her and torture her.
In this period, Wan Xiang often came to visit her, bringing her shadow Chu Ba who apart from teaching her was like a good friend to her and would often converse with her.
Wan Mei started to know that there were 21 female assassins in the gate of Ghosts. Amongst them, there were 16 who were earth slayers, they were the lowest in the hierarchy, above them were the Heavenly slayer, of which there were 4, and the last one was an absolute slayer, the leader of all the female assassins.
The Earth slayers did not kill with martial arts, they only used seduction to kill and due to the extreme danger, therefore there was a need for them to train someone like Wan Mei as a replacement.
Once a month was up, Wan Mei would be sent on her first assassination. And when she succeeded, she would officially replace the earth slayer who died. But if she failed, then she would simply die.
As the day drew closer and closer, Wan Mei started to feel the pressure build up, she was restless at night but tired during the day. Unable to get enough sleep, meant that she would easily make a mistake, that day when she was playing with Chu Ba’s manhood, she accidentally squeezed him too tightly and because she forgot to cover up the hole at the end hence he couldn’t help but fire, covering her entire hand with his sticky mess.
They were practising fellatio and during the resting periods, they would use their hand but the most important part of it was for the man to fire into your mouth, right into your throat. What Wan Mei had done was not a small mistake.
Wan Mei sat there, surprised and although Wan Xiang told her that it was alright but she slapped Chu Ba in the face when she turned to him.
Chu Ba lowered his head, not daring to meet the eyes of his mistress; he really was much more obedient than Xiao San.
Wan Xiang smiled and used a cloth to help Wan Mei clean her hand and then lifted her eyes to observe the sky.
” The sun is a little to the west now.” She suddenly knocked her head with a fist. “Then let’s go sister, the chief wishes to see you today.”
It was sudden. Wan Xiang dragged Wan Mei with her and only when they passed through the door to the chief’s quarters did it suddenly occur to her that the chief really did wish to see her.
The chief was the god like keeper of the Gate of Ghosts, but even a god has a name. Wan Mei now knew that her name was Cha Luo and had ruled the Gate of Ghosts for 13 years. In her memory, she was a gentle figure and when she spoke to her today, that seemed to hold true.
And when she saw Wan Xiang and Wan Mei enter, Cha Luo slowly got up from the chaise and nodded to both of them. Seeing this, Wan Mei’s overhanging heart lowered slightly and slowly walked to the centre of the hall, lowered her head to listen to her orders.
There was a long period of silence. The room had no windows and was extremely dim. Wan Mei stood where she was , the only thing she heard was the overhanging lanterns that was gently swaying above Cha Luo’s head.
She stood for a little while more and heard a low hum that was coming from the room’s northwest corner. She couldn’t help but turn her head over to look at the direction of the sound.
There were two shadows standing in the corner and as they were both quite tall, she assumed they were both men. Cha Luo was a little impatient as she watched them, with her head resting on her hand and raising her brow she asked, “Have you finished peeling the skin? You’re so slow. Are you really that old?”
“I am.” One of the men replied his voice with a trace of laughter, “After all, you don’t like lighting the lamps. My sight is going with my age so I can’t see.”
Cha Luo humphed coldly and pointed to the bronze lamp on the wooden desk next to her and said, “Then you go and help that old man hold this lamp.”
Wan Mei glanced around and noticed that there was no-one else in the room, Wan Xiang had disappeared sometime ago so the one to hold the lamp could only be her.
Cautiously, she held the lamp and shuffled towards the two figures. Only when she drew closer did she see that it was indeed two men. One of them was in a grey robe, the edges were already white from wear. He was an elegant middle aged man, he should be the man who just spoke.
The other man was facing towards the wall, but because the lighting was too dim so she could not see clearly and moved the lamp closer. The vision in front of her completely caught her off guard. She felt the lamp slip through her fingers and it almost fell to the ground.
It was a man’s back, except the skin was ripped off and then attached back and was now swaying in the light breeze. The skin they talked about turned out to be human skin. A living breathing human’s skin!
Wan Mei could feel her head throbbing, her hands shaking, the lamp swinging in her hands.
The elegant man smiled and seeing her expression told her in a low voice, “Hold it still, you do not need to be afraid. There is nothing frightening about it. You will not see a single drop of blood.”
As soon as he finished talking, he raised his knife again, he used that thin blade to carefully separate the skin from the flesh a little by little.
And indeed she was unable to see a drop of blood. The thing she did see was that after the skin started to peel off a thin layer of yellow fat was revealed and the complicated web of blood vessels shining underneath with blood pumping amongst it.
The man who had his skin peeled off did not utter a single noise. He sat there silently until all his skin was peeled off.
The middle aged man finally released a sigh and handed the piece of skin to Wan Mei, signalling to her to pass it to the Chief.
With no choice, she held the warm skin in her hands and on shaky feet somehow manged to reach the chaise.
On the chaise, Cha Luo sat up, picked up a brush and dipped it in black ink and quickly drew a vine on the skin.
“Then you draw the butterfly.” After a while she said, handing the brush to Wan Mei. “It will be used as a fan so see where it would be suitable.”
Wan Mei took the brush from her and although her hands still shook slightly, she dipped the brush in the ink and quickly drew a butterfly on a blank area.
With the butterfly, the picture seemed to come alive. Cha Luo nodded silently praising her for her intelligence and skill.
“Take him away.” Cha Luo ordered waving the skin. “Do not let him die. His skin is quite good. If you are careful, we may be able to make some lanterns out of it. You must be careful, do not ruin the things I like.”
A group of shadows suddenly appeared in the room, it was clear they were male attendants and silently they lifted him away.
Wan Mei could feel her teeth chattering, her knees felt weak, and she chewed on her lip.
Beside her, Cha Luo reassured her gently. ” Do not worry, you are different from these slaves. I can tell you are someone useful. As long as you are obedient, no-one will make things difficult for you.”
Wan Mei could not say anything to that. She watched as the middle aged man strolled towards her, smiling brightly to her. “Chief, did you notice? This child is very similar to you. Even her temperament was very similar to you when you were young.”
Cha Luo smiled, she glanced at him and retorted, ” So what you mean is that I am old now? You really are brave my Great Foreman Xing.”
Their conversation sounded as if they were simply a bickering couple but Wan Mei still felt cold air rush into her when she breathed.
The foreman of the punishment Hall, Xing Feng. That was a name Wan Mei had long heard about. She knew he was an important figure in the Gate of Ghosts, he was responsible for overseeing punishment and the finances.
Before, when Xiao San led her to the tiny basement was the Punishment Hall and Wan Mei could not help but remember the two women she saw there, one without feet and the other with snakes slithering out of her mouth.
She would have never have thought that the leader of such a place was a amicable handsome middle aged man.
“Chief do not forget that you called her here for business today,” Xing Feng reminded Cha Luo with a cough, perhaps guessing that his title may have made Wan Mei afraid.
Cha Luo knocked her head, “I almost forgot after being distracted by these servants. She is here to collect the medicine today.”
“Then have you prepared it?” she turned to Xing Feng, rolling a sleeve up, revealing a pale arm, “which Gu poison is that shadow poisoned with?”
Xing Feng nodded and took out a small wooden box from under his robe, opened it and took out a small red worm.
“To be able to suppress the fire Gu worm, then the one he is poisoned with is the ice Gu worm.” Cha Luo cut her arm and let some of her blood flow out.
When the fresh blood dripped into the box, a white plume of smoke appeared and the red worm disappeared, and only a pool of blood could be seen.
Seeing Wan Mei open her mouth in shock, Xing Feng laughed. “If I say that, you probably don’t understand. Today is the day your shadow suffers a relapse from his poisoning, he is probably wishing he was dead right now, and waiting for his mistress to save him.”
“Of course you don’t have to give it to him. You can even pour it to the ground in front of him or make him beg you like a dog. That depends on you as you are his mistress,” Xing Feng added helpfully when he handed her the box. His voice soft and considerate.
When she returned to her courtyard she searched each room and finally found Xiao San in the kitchen. And Xiao San did not even realize that she had come in. At that moment, he felt as if he was trapped in an ice cavern. He had curled himself up in a tight ball as if wrapping his entire body in a ball would help him warm up.
Cold. Every two months he would suffer from a bout of coldness. He thought he would get used to it but this coldness was indomitable, easily rendering him powerless.
He felt as if he had become a piece of ice, every breath he took was painful, he did not know why each breath burned so much, burning his bones.
He didn’t make a sound, he had already forgotten to cry out in pain; all his strength was used to curl into a ball.
Wan Mei knelt beside him, watched him as he almost broke his bones in an attempt to curl up even smaller and her eyes started to shine.
She reached up and pulled at his robe. It ripped apart in her hands, revealing his back to her eyes.
There was no resistance. He was incapable to resit.
Wan Mei’s eyes shone even brighter. She bent down to hold him and dragged him step by step back to her sleeping quarters.
Lying on her bed, Xiao San’s eyes were closed, his pale cheek still had a visible scar, Wan Mei’s work. She searched her room for some rope, the one that Xiao San had tied her up with before and tied up his hands and feet to the bedposts so that he was entirely exposed to her.
Barely conscious, Xiao San tried to curl into a ball but he no longer had the strength to do so. She smiled and cut up his clothes exposing his bare body to her. His skin was ice cold. “So cold. It’s like playing with ice, no fun at all.” she complained.
An idea came to her and she rolled off the bed to search amongst the medicinal box, pouring out all the little flasks within. She remembered that the dark red one contained the aphrodisiac. Smiling she rubbed the entire contents into his backhole.
It did not take long before Xiao San responded. His eyelids fluttered open and she could see a burning look of arousal reflect in his eyes.
Apart from the coldness, he felt emptiness as if there was a bottomless pit in his body, desperately urging for something to fill it. The manhood between his legs also responded and silently stood up.
She laughed quietly and knelt down to take it into her mouth, her tongue tracing the tip of it before deeply inserting it into her throat. After a few times times bobbing her head up and down, she got up and saw that his hands were balled in tight fists. He had started to breathe erratically and was trying to knock himself out with the bed. She cut the rope, freeing his right hand and he started to frantically rub his length up and down.
He reached climax very soon, time after time, soaking the bed with his white liquid. But his arousal could not be subsided and his back hole was expanding quickly as if it was trying to engulf the entire world up.
“Give it to me.” Between quick pants he reached out a hand. “P-Please. Give it to me,” he croaked.
Wan Mei pulled out the wooden box and then took out the largest wooden pole she could find, the one with a red string attached on one end and waved them in front of him.
“These two pick one,” she giggled. And then she added with a touch of viciousness, “think carefully before you choose.”
Xiao San fell silent unable to stand the combined pain of fire and ice. In desperation he bit his right hand and then without much effort at all, bit off the tip of his little finger.
Wan Mei gasped in shock as she watched him. He on the other hand, turned towards her, his mouth full of blood and his eyes filled with despair.
“When have I made things difficult for….you?” Xiao San bit out those words, his eyes closed shut. “I have done my best… how can I make you understand that you are alone here. I am your only shadow, only I am…”
Each word was full of sincerity and came straight from his heart. In the Gate of Ghosts, only their fates were intertwined. She was alone and the only person she could rely on was him, her shadow.
He had done his best, although he had done it whilst treating her coldly, but he had tried to ease her suffering as much as he could.
There were things Wan Mei did not entirely understand but it did affect her and her eyes darkened. She opened the box, poured the antidote into his mouth and then tightly embraced him, removing all her clothes and held him.
It was true. she only had him, only he was by her side constantly, they tortured each other but they could not be separated.
She stopped his hands, stopped him from inserting the pole into his backside and ushered him to fill her, to use her to quench his thirst.
And Xiao San held her, biting her as he frantically penetrated her, their sweat combining and quickly forming a river.
But the effects of the aphrodisiac still did not subside and in the end, Wan Mei had no choice but to knock him unconscious with a vase. It was only then that Xiao San finally fell silent. He lay there taking deep breaths, the back of his head and the tip of his little finger still bleeding freely.
Hesitating, Wan Mei looked at him before putting her head on his chest, listening to his heartbeat. The night outside was as cold as water, and Wan Mei, leaning on the chest on her shadow finally got a night of restful sleep since arriving to the Gate of Ghosts.