I laid it all out for Mei—I had to ask her—without spilling the beans about Nikki being a vampire or the possibility of other supernaturals at the Fairhaven Club.
“So this is like human trafficking at the next level? Turning women into statues and then smuggling them over as curios. Then they’re turned back into people?”
“That’s as far as I can piece it together. What I need to know is how to turn them back. An incantation, a ritual, or maybe some other magic whatsit to undo it all. Was hoping that your grandpa knew of something. Some weird thing from mythology. I did a little research on the Jade Emperor, thinking there was a connection.”
Mei shook her head. “No, nothing like that is attached to the Jade Emperor. Besides, he’s a good guy. None of his stories talk about him except as being wise and kind.”
“Yeah, that’s what I got, too. Was hoping that there was something missing, though. I can’t figure the why of any of it. I mean, what’s the point of turning people into statues? Are they guardians or something, meant to come back alive to protect something?”
It was a random thought, probably inspired by too many watchings of Indiana Jones and other fantasy movie offerings.
“Guardians?” Mei said. “Wait a second.” She began typing on her phone, then scrolling. “Hey, here’s something. Yunu, the jade girl. They were carvings over graves to watch over and guard them. What if they weren’t always carvings? What if they were real people?”
She showed me her phone, and I began reading.