At noon the next day, Xiao Xia arrived at T. University at the appointed time. She saw from a distance two guys sitting on either side of a girl on a bench by the school’s lake, deep in conversation.
The girl was very graceful and had the classy elegance and gentle demeanor of a good upbringing. This made it hard for Xiao Xia to imagine her as someone who made a deal with the devil. She hoped they were mistaken in their analysis.
“Sis Xiao Xia!” The two men greeted her warmly when they saw her. She purposefully was a little more intimate with Liu Tie while secretly observing Tao Xiao Chun’s reaction. Her expression didn’t change but her eyes revealed extreme loathing for Xiao Xia. It seemed she was intensely sensitive and resentful towards any woman who approached Liu Tie.
Xiao Xia remarked that she was here on business and acted nonchalant as she revealed she was also close with Liu Tie personally. Then, she started talking about this and that before bringing the topic to the basketball match at the start of the semester.
“Does this fellow know any other tricks to attracting girls outside of dunking?” She raised the prepared topic.
“I know, right!?” Ni Yang followed up naturally, looking at the similarly casual Liu Tie without any abnormal expression. They made Xiao Xia feel like they should major in theater instead. They were both so good looking and were excellent actors. “That day old Liu had around three especially cool dunks, and even did a half-spin on one of them. He made those girls scream incessantly, right, Xiao Chun?”
Tao Xiao Chun hesitated for a bit before nodding earnestly. Anyone could tell she admired Liu Tie. However, the other three’s expressions changed. That day, Liu Tie had injured his leg. There wasn’t any half-spin dunk performance.
Why would Liu Tie’s fan not be present at such an event? Why was she lying?
Because of this, they were no longer in the mood to chat. After a while, they each found an excuse to leave. Liu Tie and Ni Yang didn’t know why Xiao Xia would have them cooperate to test out Xiao Chun, but vaguely felt it had to do with the school’s case. However, they couldn’t ask for an explanation and could only leave after lingering suspiciously. Xiao Xia stayed until the very end because she wanted to find an opportunity to chat with Tao Xiao Chun. However, she didn’t want the semi-aware Liu Tie and Ni Yang to be involved. Therefore, she followed behind Tao Xiao Chun until they left the two guys before she ran up to her.
“Why did you do it?” She asked bluntly.
Tao Xiao Chun was very confused and didn’t know what she was asking. “What did I do?”
“Don’t you know that signing a contract with Bloody Mary is like scheming with a tiger for its fur?”
Xiao Xia’s words were like a clap of thunder, making blood instantly drain from Tao Xiao Chun’s face. She looked at Xiao Xia in shock, her gaze flickering between doubt and alarm. She constantly tried to guess how believable her words were. However, Xiao Xia was now completely certain this person was that contractor. She had the urge to give her a few slaps. She could not imagine such a cute and well-behaved looking girl could cause her fellow students to be massacred.
“Just why are you doing this?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about!” Tao Xiao Chun said with forced calmness. “I have to go to class. I don’t have time to joke around with you!”
Xiao Xia blocked Tao Xiao Chun who was trying to flee in panic. “You clearly know what I am talking about. Don’t keep going down the wrong path. How many more have to die before you’re done!?”
“I wasn’t the one who wanted to kill!” Tao Xiao Chun blurted out, but immediately realized she had let it slip and stomped on the brakes. “It wasn’t me, it wasn’t me! I didn’t do anything at all! Stop bothering me!”
“You’ve entered a contract with it, right?” Xiao Xia lost her reason due to anger and pressed forward step by step. “You clearly know you haven’t fulfilled its wish yet. Do you think it will let you off? Therefore, you must tell me the truth and let me help you. Otherwise, you will either be killed by it or continue helping it harm others. Neither option is something you can endure.”
“Don’t tell me all of that. You don’t actually know anything!”
“But I know it hasn’t left yet! Right?”
Tao Xiao Chun wasn’t able to respond, her expression flickering. She didn’t understand how anyone could know about this matter, and also suspected Xiao Xia of entrapment. Her chest was congested with conflicting emotions that struggled against each other until finally, her selfishness won out.
This woman didn’t have proof! Otherwise, it would be the police talking to her at this moment! She was definitely trying to entrap her! It didn’t matter how she knew since no one would believe her anyway. As long as she herself didn’t look into mirrors at night, that witch also couldn’t do anything to her! Worst case scenario, she would withdraw from school and leave this place forever. Then, after some time, it will leave by itself or come up with another way to fulfill its wish. Furthermore, she hadn’t gone back on her promise. It was the witch’s own failure that caused everything to be in vain. It had nothing to do with her, none of it had anything to do with her! Regardless, that witch also didn’t grant her wish. Therefore, no matter who the next unfortunate victim was, it didn’t concern her. This wasn’t her fault, she wasn’t to blame at all!
Thinking of this, she violently shoved Xiao Xia to the floor and ran off.
Her expression confirmed the terrifying fact to Xiao Xia that once Bloody Mary was summoned, it wouldn’t leave without fulfilling the contract. This meant that there will be other victims unless they found a way to get rid of it.
Xiao Xia struggled to her feet and ran after her, but could only watch as Tao Xiao Chun vanished into the distance. She glared at her feet. Why was she wearing heels? If she had worn running shoes, she was sure she could catch up to the culprit of this calamity who refused to own up to it.
What was worse was that afterwards, Tao Xiao Chun went missing.
For three whole days, her family and the school had no news of her. Her clothes and money were left untouched and no one knew where she had run off to. Perhaps something had happened to her? Xiao Xia was incessantly guilty about this. She felt if she hadn’t been so impatient, if she hadn’t immediately confronted her about the contract, this wouldn’t have happened. If something happened to Tao Xiao Chun, it could be called just desserts, but if others were harmed because of her mistake, how was she supposed to come to terms with it!?
She sat in the bar which was not open for business yet. She slurped on a cup of juice while sobbing, making Ruan Zhan not know how to comfort her. He could only pat her back and shoulders randomly. Xiao Xia grabbed his hand and put it on her head. “This is how you comfort someone. I’m about to suffer internal injuries from your blows!”
Ruan Zhan clumsily rubbed her head a few times. After really managing to calm the sobbing Xiao Xia a little, he stopped slightly.
“Do you know what my nickname was back at school?” Xiao Xia wiped her tears on Ruan Zhan’s sleeves. “They called me screw-up.”
Ruan Zhan didn’t speak, allowing her to criticize herself. He knew she would feel better after venting.
“Know why they gave me this nickname? Because I always do the wrong thing. A perfectly fine matter is sure to get screwed up once I get involved. I always make thing worse despite having good intentions. How could I have been so reckless, without any plan or strategy!?”
“Says who? You’re very good.” This was the only praise Ruan Zhan could come up with. Normally he was very natural with the female customers here. Only when it came to Yue Xiao Xia did he not know what to say.
“What good!? I’ve severed the only lead we had. I was too angry back then and couldn’t help but interrogate her. Who would have thought things would end up this way? Great, now what? Do we just leave the matter be? It would be fine if I was unaware. However, if I still let it happen despite knowing about it, this counts as indirect killing in the eyes of the law! I’d essentially be a murderer! At the very least an accomplice!” Xiao Xia gave a warped analogy and wildly gave herself a label.
“How is it that serious!? We can always find some new leads. There’s always a way.”
“We?” Xiao Xia noticed Ruan Zhan’s choice of words and felt extremely conflicted.
When she cooperated with him on Li Jing Ming’s case, she didn’t think that exorcism was actually dangerous for someone of his mighty abilities. She had just thought Ruan Zhan was being selfish and unwilling to help her. Only when she saw him almost get drowned by the scholar’s ghost did she understand it wasn’t something that just required some gestures, some chants and a couple of randomly drawn talismans. Sometimes, the exorcist’s life would be at risk.
Although she was never polite with him when she shamelessly dragged him around, she was not vicious enough to disregard his safety. The matter with Zhang Xue that day left her no time to think. After Ruan Zhan got injured, she felt very regretful. She had thought that even though he would help her, they could just find the contractor and solve this matter indirectly. However, now it was clear that they had to meet it head on. She had to clean up the mess she made, but how could she let him get swept up in it? Yet without him, there wasn’t anything she could do. Even if she offered herself as the sacrifice, the amount was still insufficient to fulfill the requirements. If she asked him for help, he might be in danger. This Bloody Mary seemed very powerful.
“How about you teach me exorcism? I can learn to draw talismans and what not, right?” She grasped at straws.
Ruan Zhan couldn’t help but laugh. “Do you think someone without the spiritual force can just randomly learn a little, draw a little and have it work?”
“Can’t I learn?”
“You don’t have the innate energy. Perhaps if you trained for one or two decades in Daoist arts.”
“So I won’t make it in time?”
Xiao Xia lowered her head in depression.
Ruan Zhan understood her struggle and involuntarily felt his heart soften. “It’s not you I’m helping.” He said. “I am a “priest” from China. How can I let a foreign evil spirit rampage around here? Completely disrespectful!”