In our previous post, the first half of the story of the Lady of the Hala Trees is presented. That post ended with the Lady’s tragic suicide. This time, her dark story continues. Please be advised, this tale does not end happily and is one of the bloodiest of Taiwan’s traditional ghost stories.
At some point, after the Lady ended her own life by hanging herself from a Hala tree, rumours began to be circulated of a woman’s spirit who haunts those groves. One of these tales told of an opium addict who frequented opium dens at night and worked during the day as a zòngzi dumpling vendor.
One day, the story went, the vendor, ignorant, passed by the very Hala trees where the poor Lady had committed suicide. The hour was late and the vendor was desperate to get rid of his dumplings. That was when a beautiful young maiden approached him asking to buy his dumplings.
The vendor gladly handed over a couple of his dumplings to the maiden, who promptly devoured them and then requested for more. Surprised but willing, the vendor obliged. But the young women continue to consume the dumplings at great speed. Soon, the vendor’s entire stock was depleted.
It was only then that the vendor demanded his payment; only, he was greeted by a grisly sight. Before him, he had the misfortune of witnessing the beautiful maiden’s face transform into a bloody mess. Her eyeballs sank deep into their sockets as tears of blood streamed down her cheeks as well as out through her nostrils. Her beautiful pale skin began to dry up and her teeth began falling out. The terrified vendor had encountered the wrathful spirit of the Lady of the Hala Trees.
Without gathering his cart, the terrified vendor fled the area. The poor man related his ordeal to his friends at a local opium den, where the story soon spread throughout the entire region. Since that day, reports of similar encounters poured out of the area.
One day, many decades later, a monk passing through the region came across the stories circulated by the opium den’s visitors. He decided to pay the ghostly Lady a visit and find out exactly why this terrible spirit had been haunting the region.
The monk was directed to an abandoned hut near the Hala trees where sightings of hauntings had been reported.
When he arrived at the abandoned dwelling, he pushed open the front door. Inside, in the darkness, the monk was greeted by a body hanging from the ceiling. But the monk was unfazed. Realizing this, the angry spirit of the Lady transformed into the grisly sight that had terrified the poor vendor. Still, the monk was composed and, instead, he spoke to the spirit.
“Tell me,” he said, “why do you haunt these parts? If you have unfinished business in this world, please tell them to me so I may complete them on your behalf and bring peace to your tormented soul.”
The monk’s calm voice had its effect and the Lady, wailing, began to recount the events of her tragic life—her abandonment at the hands of her husband who left, with their son, the island of Taiwan for the Chinese mainland.
After hearing the ghost’s story, the monk began his investigations. He managed to track down the Lady’s husband, who is now an old man, in China and decided to pay him a visit. He also cast a spell on the Lady’s ghost so that it may be guided by the monk to the man on the continent.
It turns out, the former army officer who abandoned the poor maiden all those years ago, was now a grandfather. He had remarried upon his return to China and had had more children. Now, one of those children was a new father and the entire family had gathered to celebrate.
That was when the monk and the ghost arrived. The retired army officer, as head of the household, came out of his house to greet the monk, but he stopped when he saw the maiden standing beside the monk. Blood drained from his face when he recognized her. Then, the ghostly maiden’s full wrath was unleashed upon the man who had abandoned her.
She rapidly possessed him and forced his body to turn around, head back into the house and commit a terrible atrocity. The possessed old man took up a dagger and murdered, in quick succession and to the uncomprehending terror of all the guests, his own son—the new father—and the innocent newborn. When the possessed old man finally came to his senses, he was greeted by the bloody mess around him. Then, almost immediately, the old man died of unknown causes.
That was the horrible end to the story of the Lady of the Hala Trees. She had had her revenge in terrible fashion. It had satiated her lust for vengeance. After that, she was seen no more. But the story was too terrible and to this day, the Taiwanese avoid venturing near Hala trees for fear that, perhaps, this vengeful ghost may someday return to address yet another unfinished business.