The Wine Mad: A Tale of Afterlife and Redemption

Explore the story of Miao Yongding, a man caught between the realms of the living and the dead, and the consequences of his actions in the afterlife.

Miao Yongding was a top scholar from Jiangxi. He had a long history of alcohol abuse, and most of his relatives avoided him. One day, he happened to visit his cousin’s house. Because of his humorous and witty personality, guests liked him when they engaged in conversation and enjoyed drinking together. However, when he got drunk, he became uncontrollable, insulted the people present, and offended the guests. The guests were furious, and there was a heated discussion.

His cousin tried to intervene and calm the situation, but Miao Yongding felt that his cousin was taking the guests’ side. He redirected his anger towards his cousin. With no other options, his cousin rushed to Miao Yongding’s house and informed his family about the situation. Family members came to take him back home. Just as they placed him on the bed, his limbs had already turned cold, and a touch revealed that he had already passed away.

After Miao Yongding’s death, a person wearing a black hat abducted him. After a while, they arrived in front of an official building with a roof covered in light blue glazed tiles, a magnificent structure unlike any other in the world. As they reached the steps, the man in the black hat seemed to be waiting to meet with a high-ranking official. Miao Yongding thought to himself, “What crime could I have committed? Perhaps the guests accused me of fighting.” He turned to look at the man in the black hat, who had angry eyes resembling the eyes of a bull, but he didn’t dare to ask. However, he believed that as a top scholar, he probably hadn’t committed a serious offense by getting into an argument with someone.

Suddenly, a bailiff inside announced that those who needed to go to court should return for trial the next morning. The people below the hall scattered in confusion. Miao Yongding also followed the man in the black hat out of the official building, not knowing where to go. He cowered under the eaves of a shop with no destination in mind. The man in the black hat angrily said, “You unruly drunkard! It’s getting dark, and everyone is finding a place to eat and spend the night. Where are you going?” Miao Yongding trembled and replied, “I don’t even know why I was arrested, and I haven’t informed my family, so I didn’t bring any money. Where can I go?” The man in the black hat said, “You drunk troublemaker! If you used the money to buy your own alcohol, you’d have some! If you defy me again, I’ll break your crazy bones!” Miao Yongding lowered his head and dared not speak.

Suddenly, a person walked out of the door, saw Miao Yongding, and exclaimed, “Why are you here?” Miao Yongding looked and realized it was his uncle. His uncle’s surname was Jia and had been deceased for several years. When Miao Yongding saw his uncle, he finally understood that he was already dead, and his heart became even more filled with sadness and fear. With tears in his eyes, he said to his uncle, “Uncle, save me!” Mr. Jia looked at the man in the black hat and said, “The Messenger from the Eastern Spirit is no stranger; please come into my humble abode.”

Miao Yongding and the man in the black hat entered the house. Mr. Jia bowed deeply to the man in the black hat and asked him to take good care of them. Shortly after, they brought out food and wine, and the three of them sat around the table, drinking together. Mr. Jia asked, “For what reason did my nephew bring you here, causing you the trouble of apprehending him?” The man in the black hat replied, “The King went to meet with Lord Fulo and encountered your nephew causing trouble and insulting people, so he ordered me to capture him.” Mr. Jia asked, “Have you met the King?” The man in the black hat said, “The King is currently at Lord Fulo’s place, presiding over a case, and hasn’t returned yet.” Mr. Jia inquired further, “What crime is my nephew accused of?” The man in the black hat answered, “I don’t know yet, but the King despises people like him.”

As Miao Yongding listened to their conversation, he trembled all over, sweat pouring down, unable even to hold his wine glass and chopsticks. Soon, the man in the black hat got up, expressing his gratitude, “I’ve troubled you with such a sumptuous meal, but I’m already drunk. I’ll leave my nephew in your care for now. When the King returns, I’ll pay another visit.” With that, he left.

Mr. Jia said to Miao Yongding, “You have no siblings, and your parents have always cherished you as their precious gem. They’ve never scolded you. When you were sixteen or seventeen, after just three drinks, you’d start drunkenly rambling, picking fights over trivial matters, and even shouting and cursing while half-naked if things didn’t go your way. Back then, we thought you were just young and didn’t know better. Little did we know that after more than a decade apart, you haven’t made any progress at all. What can be done now?” Miao Yongding knelt on the ground, crying bitterly, and could only express deep remorse.

Mr. Jia pulled Miao Yongding up and said, “I sell alcohol here, and I have a bit of a reputation. I will do my best. The person we just drank with was the Messenger of the Eastern Spirit King. I often invite him for drinks, and we are on good terms. The King has many responsibilities and may not remember you. I will speak to him discreetly, plead for your sake, and ask him to consider your personal situation, maybe he’ll agree.”

Then he thought again and said, “But this is very risky; it won’t be settled without a hundred thousand silver pieces.” Miao Yongding expressed gratitude and readily agreed to cover the expenses himself. Mr. Jia promised to intercede on behalf of his nephew.

That day, Miao Yongding stayed overnight at his uncle’s house. The next day, the man in the black hat came to visit very early. Mr. Jia requested a private conversation with him and talked for quite some time. He later came to inform Miao Yongding, “It’s settled. He will return shortly. I’ve given him all the money as collateral, and you can slowly gather the remaining amount when you return.” Miao Yongding was delighted and asked, “How much in total?” Mr. Jia replied, “One hundred thousand coins.” Miao Yongding said, “Where can I get so much money?” Mr. Jia said, “You only need a hundred paper-burnt gold ingots.” Miao Yongding was greatly relieved and said, “That’s manageable.”

It was almost noon, but the man in the black hat had not arrived yet. Miao Yongding wanted to take a stroll and explore the area. Mr. Jia advised him not to go too far, and he readily agreed before stepping out. He found himself in a bustling marketplace, much like the earthly world. Miao Yongding came across a place with a high, thorny wall, resembling a prison. Right across from the prison, there was a busy inn with many people coming and going.

Outside the inn was a winding creek with dark, bottomless waters. As Miao Yongding paused to watch the creek, he heard someone from inside the inn shout, “Miao Jun, where have you come from?” Miao Yongding quickly turned to see, and it turned out to be Mr. Weng from a neighboring village, a friend from over a decade ago. Mr. Weng walked out of the inn briskly, shook Miao Yongding’s hand, and was as lively as ever.

They decided to have some drinks at the inn and catch up on their lives. Miao Yongding was celebrating his reunion with an old friend and his return to the human world. He started drinking heartily, soon getting drunk. He completely forgot that he was a dead man and his old habits resurfaced. He began to rant and accuse Mr. Weng incoherently. Mr. Weng said, “It’s been years since we last met, and you still behave like this when drunk?”

Miao Yongding always detested people mentioning his drunken behavior, and hearing it from Mr. Weng made him even angrier. He slammed the table, stomped his feet, and cursed loudly. Mr. Weng shot him a glance, waved his sleeve, and walked out of the inn. Miao Yongding chased him to the creek, snatched Mr. Weng’s hat, and in anger, Mr. Weng pushed Miao Yongding into the water.

The creek wasn’t very deep, but it was filled with sharp knives that pierced his ribs and thighs. Any slight movement caused excruciating pain, shooting through his entire body and into his brain. The murky water, mixed with excrement and urine, entered his throat with each breath, making it even more unbearable. On the shore, people crowded around, laughing and jeering, with no one willing to pull him ashore.

Just when things seemed dire, Mr. Jia suddenly arrived, witnessed the situation, and was greatly alarmed. He pulled Miao Yongding out of the water, took him back home, and said, “You are truly incorrigible! Even in death, you show no remorse. You don’t deserve to be a human again! Please go to the Eastern Spirit and accept their punishment of being chopped and cut by knives and axes!”

Miao Yongding was filled with fear and tears, saying, “I acknowledge my wrongdoing!” Only then did Mr. Jia say, “The Eastern Spirit’s messenger came earlier, waiting for you to sign the written agreement. However, you went to drink and wandered off. He was in a hurry and couldn’t wait any longer. I’ve signed the agreement and paid a thousand coins on your behalf. He agreed to leave for now, but the remaining amount must be settled within ten days. When you return, gather the necessary funds, go to the barren fields outside the village at night, call my name, and burn the paper money you promised. That will fulfill your vow.”

Miao Yongding agreed wholeheartedly. Mr. Jia urged him to leave promptly, escorted him to the outskirts, and instructed, “You must not break your promise and involve me! Follow this path, and it will lead you home.”

At that time, Miao Yongding had been lying stiff for three days. His family thought he was dead drunk, but there was still a faint breath between his nostrils. On this day, Miao Yongding woke up, had a severe bout of vomiting, expelling a large amount of black bile with a foul odor. After vomiting, his bed was soaked with sweat, and his body finally felt cool and refreshed. He told his family about his extraordinary experience after death.

Shortly after, he began to feel swelling and pain at the spots where the sharp knives had pierced him. Overnight, these wounds turned into sores, fortunately without severe infection. Ten days later, Miao Yongding was gradually able to walk with the help of a cane. His family urged him to settle his debts in the underworld. When he calculated the expenses, he realized that he needed a significant amount of silver, so he became stingy and said, “Perhaps what happened before was just a dream brought on by drunkenness. Even if it wasn’t a dream, he let me go out of personal favor. How can I let the King of Hell find out?”

Despite his family’s persuasion, he refused to fulfill his vow. However, he remained anxious and refrained from excessive drinking. His neighbors were pleased with his improved behavior and gradually began drinking with him again.

Over a year later, Miao Yongding started to forget about the consequences from the underworld, and his attitude began to revert. One day, while drinking at the house of a younger relative from his clan, he insulted the host at the dinner table. The host drove him out of the house, closed the door, and left him outside. He shouted and yelled outside the door for hours until his son received word and helped him back home.

Upon entering the house, Miao Yongding faced the wall, knelt down, and kowtowed repeatedly, saying, “This is to repay your debt! This is to repay your debt!” After these words, he collapsed to the ground, already lifeless.








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