Chapter 65.1 The archived memories
Qi Mola’s booth was different from the witches around it. It was a medium-sized tent with intricate patterns, surrounded by blooming red roses. As soon as Lin Zhaohe reached the tent’s entrance, he smelled a strong… alcoholic scent.
Yes, it was the smell of alcohol.
Lin Zhaohe almost thought he imagined it. This beautiful place should have had a pleasant fragrance, but why did it smell like alcohol?
He opened the tent door and saw a woman sitting inside. She wore a black long dress with a string of black pearls around her waist. The dress had roses at the hem. Her fair skin was complemented by black hair, and she wore a wide-brimmed hat that covered most of her face. Only her beautifully colored lower lip was visible.
The air was filled with a strong smell of alcohol, which emanated from a row of empty wine bottles by her feet. She held a half-empty bottle in her hand but didn’t bother to greet the visitor. She simply waved the glass casually.
“Qi Mola,” Lin Yan approached.
“Hello, what can I help you with?” Qi Mola asked, sounding unfamiliar, as if she didn’t recognize Lin Yan.
“I’m the person who came to trade with you a year ago,” Lin Yan said. “Don’t you remember?” Since even the pure white witch couldn’t distinguish him from the other Lin Yan, he decided to use that identity and extract some information.
“Sorry, my memory isn’t good,” Qi Mola looked at Lin Yan with confusion, her eyes filled with unfamiliarity. “I don’t remember.”
“So, did you leave the magic aura on him?” Lin Yan pointed at Lin Zhaohe and asked.
Qi Mola sniffed and nodded, admitting, “Yes, I did.”
“Is there a way to undo it?” Lin Yan inquired.
“Undo it? That’s not possible,” Qi Mola stared at Lin Zhaohe for a moment. She took a big sip of her drink, burped, and shook her head. “The magic potion on him is created by blending love. Once affected, it’s irreversible. It’s already difficult enough to return to his current state… You know, love is a tricky thing, impure and insufficient, so magic created with it usually has no solution unless…”
Lin Yan asked, “Unless what?”
“Unless another dose of love is used to create an antidote,” Qi Mola said. “But it’s not an easy task…”
Zhuang Lao asked, “Isn’t there any other way?”
Qi Mola intended to shake her head, indicating she hadn’t seen Zhuang Lao before. However, when she looked up at Zhuang Lao, her head froze mid-shake, and her eyes showed a mix of terror and confusion. She even leaned back slightly and whispered, “Have I seen you somewhere?”
Zhuang Lao remained expressionless and said, “I have no recollection.”
“That shouldn’t be,” Qi Mola also felt a bit perplexed. She forcefully tapped her head, as if trying to fix a broken television. The loud banging sound made Lin Zhaohe wince in pain. “No, I can’t remember. Let it go…”
“You help him with the antidote,” Lin Yan said, “with my love.”
Before Qi Mola could say anything, Lin Zhaohe grabbed Lin Yan’s hand. He no longer wanted the current Lin Yan to bear the consequences of the other person’s mistakes. Acting nonchalant, he said, “No need. The side effects are occasional transformations into a small dog. It’s not a big deal, especially since it was his mistake. You don’t have to take it all upon yourself.”
“It was Lin Yan’s mistake,” Lin Yan said. “I am also Lin Yan.”
Lin Zhaohe wanted to say something, but Qi Mola waved her hand, telling them to stop arguing. She was on the verge of forgetting the recipe for the magic potion. She asked if they had any good-tasting alcohol to help her sober up.
Zhuang Lao remained silent and rummaged in his pocket for a moment. He pulled out a medium-sized ceramic bottle and, after removing the cap, a rich and fragrant aroma of alcohol filled the entire small tent.
Qi Mola’s gaze instantly changed, fixating on the bottle of alcohol in Zhuang Lao’s hand. Uncontrollably, she swallowed and asked, “What kind of alcohol is this? It smells so delightful.”
Zhuang Lao: “Of course, it smells heavenly. This is a well-aged liquor brewed for a hundred years.”
The alcohol was obtained from Gu Xuyu. It was made using medicinal ingredients filled with abundant spiritual energy from the heavens and earth. It took a hundred years to produce this small bottle. Just by opening the cap, one could catch a whiff of its enticing aroma. For a witch like Qi Mola, who was addicted to alcoholic beverages, it was irresistibly captivating.
Qi Mola stared at the small bottle in Zhuang Lao’s hand. Her previously indifferent attitude transformed into enthusiasm, even with a hint of flattery. “May I ask what you need on your end? As for love, I don’t really require it. If you want the antidote, we could exchange it for this bottle of alcohol.”
Zhuang Lao smirked, his smile ambiguous. “This bottle of alcohol?” His gaze shifted, and he continued, “It wouldn’t be right to take advantage of you. How about trying a sip first?” He took a cup and poured a shallow layer for Qi Mola.
Qi Mola eagerly took the cup and drank it all in one gulp. The alcohol was not harsh on the palate. Instead, it had a smooth and rich flavor. As it flowed down her throat, the distinctive fragrance of the liquor exploded in her mouth like a bomb, accompanied by a warm temperature. Gradually, it settled in her stomach, and a surge of warmth spread throughout her body, eradicating all exhaustion.
Qi Mola’s eyes widened as she let out a long breath. “What a fantastic drink!”
Zhuang Lao: “Indeed, it is.”
Qi Mola nodded fervently, her intense gaze fixed on Zhuang Lao. “The drinks in this world have become so bland. Finally, I’ve come across something exceptional. Tell me, what do you desire?”
Zhuang Lao pointed to Lin Zhaohe, then to Lin Yan. “I want you to help him eliminate the aftereffects of the magic potion. I also want to know the circumstances of your meeting one year ago and what kind of magic potion he took from you.”
Qi Mola forced a bitter smile. “It’s not that I don’t want to tell you. I genuinely don’t remember.” She stood up, the pearls around her waist jingling. “I’ve lived for too long, and many memories have become hazy.”
Mr. Li rudely asked, “How long have you been alive?”
“It’s been over a thousand years,” Qi Mola replied nonchalantly. “Can you remember things from over a thousand years ago?”
“Although you may not remember things from over a thousand years ago, you shouldn’t forget what happened just a year ago, right? It’s hard for us to believe you this way.”
Zhuang Lao:: “If you’ve forgotten the formula for the antidote, it seems you won’t be able to drink this wine.” He intentionally teased Qi Mola by letting her taste it. Now that Qi Mola had experienced the flavor of fine wine, she wasn’t willing to give up easily. She sighed and furrowed her brow, but she didn’t dare provoke Zhuang Lao. Some strange intuition warned her that the person before her wasn’t someone to mess with.
Qi Mola, who cherished alcohol as if it were her life, couldn’t bear this situation. Her expression kept changing as if she was struggling with something. Finally, she let out a long sigh, as if giving up, and said, “Fine, fine, fine. You’re formidable. I’ll figure something out.”
After mentally preparing herself for a while, she took a deep breath and said, “Just wait.” Then, she bent down and removed a pearl from her waist, holding it tightly in her palm.
Lin Zhaohe was startled by Qi Mola’s reaction. Before he could comprehend what was happening, he saw her face contort in agony, as if experiencing intense pain. Tears streamed down her cheeks in large drops. She sat there, her body starting to convulse, as if unable to bear such torment.
“Are you okay?” Although Lin Yan had a bad temper, he had a kind-hearted nature.
Qi Mola remained silent, sobbing for a while before opening her teary, reddened eyes and shaking her head. “No, no, I can’t continue.”
“What’s wrong with you? Is this pearl poisonous?” Lin Yan asked.
“It might as well be poison,” Qi Mola replied.
“What is it, then?” Lin Zhaohe inquired.
“It’s a mishmash of memories that should have been discarded,” Qi Mola said, pulling out a handkerchief and slowly wiping away her tears. Her entire face was flushed from crying, and she appeared somewhat bewildered. “I… I can’t go on. If I continue trying, I’ll go insane. Otherwise…” She shifted her gaze to the four of them. “Can you help me?”
“How can we help?” Lin Yan asked.
“My memories are all in these pearls,” Qi Mola explained. “When you hold them in your palms, you can see them. I’ve divided the memories from the past year into several portions, but I can’t discern which part is which. Can you help me search and see if there’s anything you’re looking for?”
“It’s worth a try,” Zhuang Lao said.
“Can we drink while viewing the memories?” Qi Mola, with a look of profound emotional pain, didn’t know what memories she would encounter. She asked in a daze, “I’d like to have something to drink.”
Zhuang Lao agreed.
A few minutes later, the four of them appeared at the neighboring small tavern.
Qi Mola ordered a few dishes and reluctantly asked Zhuang Lao to pour her some wine. Zhuang Lao filled a glass for her, but she couldn’t bring herself to drink it. Instead, she placed the several pearls that held dusty memories on the table with a gentle pat.
“Here they are,” Qi Mola said with a wry smile. “You can try them for yourselves.”
“Let me go first,” Mr. Li volunteered, picking up one pearl and holding it in his palm. Suddenly, his mind was filled with images that didn’t belong to him. In those scenes, he transformed into a black cat, feeling a stinging sensation in his front paws. He looked up and saw a desolate plain with two moons hanging high in the sky.
These seemed to be memories from when the witch first arrived in this world. The black cat wandered aimlessly across the wasteland until it passed by a small town and was adopted by a family of three. Its wounds were properly treated, it received warm milk, and it had a cozy cat bed. The slender black cat enjoyed sunbathing by the window and grooming itself, watching the girl happily play with dolls inside the house.
“When will Daddy come back?” The girl’s embrace was warm as she held the witch-turned-black-cat close, kissing her forehead. “Daddy said today he would bring fish for you to eat. I know cats love fish the most…”
It was a warm feeling that captivated her, despite her dislike for the cold.
This family had been in this world for a year, struggling to survive in the wilderness. Fortunately, they had each other, unlike the witch who was always alone no matter where she went.
The witch lay on the carpet, basking in the warm sunlight, considering that occasionally staying here wouldn’t be so bad. Humans were fragile and pitiful creatures with lifespans of only a few decades. When their time came, they would turn into dust and return to nature.
However, that day, the witch didn’t get to wait for her fish.
The little girl’s father returned, but he was carried back by others. The room was filled with the smell of blood and the girl’s crying. The witch watched as the man, who had left with a smile earlier that day, now lay lifeless, his body reduced to half. The girl threw herself onto him, calling out, “Daddy, Daddy,” tears mixing with blood. Outside, chaos erupted as hoards of humans, dragging their belongings, planned to leave. The mother approached, forcefully grabbing the girl and hurriedly leaving with their belongings in disarray. The black cat stood inside the house, watching them disappear into the distance, leaving behind only itself and the decaying corpse.
Later, the black cat used its claws to dig a shallow grave and buried the man. The storms in the wilderness grew stronger. The cat saw a flock of massive beasts flying in the sky, resembling demonized vultures. They effortlessly destroyed all the houses, spewing flames that consumed everything.
No one noticed the small, silent black cat in the corner, witnessing it all.
The black cat turned around and slowly walked into the wilderness.
The memories stopped at this point. Mr. Li snapped out of it, realizing that everyone was looking at him. Only the witch sat there with a smile, enjoying her food. She asked him what he had seen.
“A black cat,” Mr. Li carefully chose his words. “It seemed like you when you first came to this world.”
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