Book 2 Chapter 17: What to do?

A little past two in the morning, Ruan Zhan once again half supported half carried Xiao Xia up the stairs of the Nocturnal Revenant bar, under the gazes of the night owls and his two idiot servers. He wasn’t in the mood to worry about the crowd’s imaginative looks, and merely hoped this wasn’t going to become the norm. With his background in psychology, he knew men easily developed feelings for someone of the opposite gender who they worked late into the night with. Especially since the two of them always encountered life-threatening situations together.

This bandit lady surnamed Yue had recently been clinging onto him a little too naturally. Her weakness while putting up a brave front, her kindness while being unreasonable, and her sensitive yet impulsive personality all made his heart inexplicably palpitate. This wasn’t a good sign. He definitely had to be more careful and not let his heart give in. He wasn’t willing to have deep emotional attachments with anyone. He had learned his lesson plenty of times. No matter how witty or cute she was, no matter how charming she was when she smiled, she wouldn’t be the exception.

He just needed to restrain himself a little bit! Who was he? He was a top student of the psychology department from a famous university. He could see through the intricacies of people’s minds and had abundant experience. He also had those so-called “abilities” he hated. He could navigate through any crowd of women with ease. Would he end up surrendering to the pestering of a little sparrow? Impossible!

He just needed to help her and then drive her out. No problem at all!

“Why did you choose to major in psychology?” Ruan Zhan had just settled Xiao Xia down when she suddenly asked this question. This gave Ruan Zhan a fright, making him think she could read minds. Did she know what he was planning?

“What does that have to do with you?”

“I mean, it’s easy to understand why Wan Li majored in psychology. He likes to talk, has a warm personality, has a sense of justice and is bold and meticulous. These are all reasons why he became a psychiatrist. But don’t you hate getting close to people? Why would you learn about the minds of others? To learn how to keep your distance?” Xiao Xia followed up.

She had suffered a fright tonight, but the moment she returned to his place she had felt incomparably safe. Her mood became more relaxed as well. According to Wan Li, being able to turn negative into positive very quickly was one of her biggest strengths. However, did Ruan Zhan’s ability to turn from his courageous and righteous self an hour ago to a block of ice the moment he got home count as a major drawback? She recalled the contents of her conversation with Wan Li, which was why she asked the question.

“Do you want to discuss Tao Xiao Chun or myself?”

“Tao Xiao Chun.” Xiao Xia didn’t hesitate.

Fine, he wins this time! Since Wan Li had “asked” her to pressure Ruan Zhan and since she had reluctantly agreed, she would have plenty of opportunities to torment him in the future. No need to bicker with this stinking man at this time. “What should we do?”

“This matter isn’t complicated. Assuming all our information and conjectures are correct, we’ll be able to find the answer at the school.”

“You mean to say that since Bloody Mary can only roam the school grounds, Tao Xiao Chun must have been murdered at school? That means her corpse must be hidden somewhere there, and her soul is probably within a mirror nearby.”

“That’s right.”

“I really can’t imagine why Tao Xiao Chun would have slipped up despite knowing how to escape, to the extent of losing her life.” Xiao Xia thought about it. “Perhaps we should ask Liu Tie. Didn’t Tao Xiao Chun give him something before she disappeared? If he has some information, we might save a lot of effort. Don’t worry, I’ll ask very carefully. I definitely won’t get him involved in this matter. That way your secret will be safe.”

“Thank you.” Ruan Zhan said in surprise. He didn’t think she would be concerned about his unwillingness to let others know about his matters. Guess she had a conscience!

“It’s nothing, we’re just helping each other out! But what should we do after that?”

Ruan Zhan muttered to himself for a bit. “Let’s clear up Tao Xiao Chun’s situation before deciding. I think a huge battle is inevitable. It’s already hard enough to banish it, let alone having to rescue a trapped soul.”

“I’m sorry.” She had brought trouble to him once again.

“Forget it. It wouldn’t necessarily have left obediently if I tried to banish it. It’ll come down to force anyway.”

“How confident are you?” Xiao Xia snuck a glance at him. “Can it be exterminated?”

“I’ll only know whether I can banish it after exchanging blows. As for extermination, it’s impossible. It’s not a spirit manifested through resentment and it isn’t the sort of evil spirit that hides in the night waiting for an opportunity to harm people. It has its own domain, which means it’s a “proper” existence. That’s why it’s known as a “summoned spirit”. When playing various spirit summoning games, the spirit might be invited over by chance. It would then return to its “home”. This is why you can only send it back or force it away from here, but you can’t kill it. At least, I’m unable to do so.”

“That means it still has the chance to do further harm!”

“Don’t blame these spirits! Haven’t you heard? If humans didn’t have darkness in their hearts, ghosts wouldn’t be able to make use of them. The saying ghostly enchantment might as well be called man-made disaster.”

Xiao Xia nodded, having thoroughly experienced this. If it weren’t for Tao Xiao Chun’s unhealthy mindset, if Qian Li and Zhang Xue hadn’t been so easily enticed, if it weren’t for the darkest emotions of jealousy, vanity, boredom, foolishness and cruelty, how could such a senseless tragedy have happened?

“Then it’s settled.” Xiao Xia said. “I have to appear in court tomorrow. After I get back in the afternoon, I’ll ask Liu Tie what he knows. Then, I’ll go to the school and see if I can find a trace of Tao Xiao Chun.”

“No, don’t go to the school by yourself. If anything happens, you won’t be able to handle it.” Ruan Zhan stood up. “First figure out the situation. Then, we’ll decide what to do next.”

“Fine. But I want to ask you something.” Xiao Xia stopped him from leaving. “Why can I sometimes see spirits, and other times not?”

“Normally, only those with yin-yang eyes are able to see those things. However, it they wish to let you see them, then you will be able to. Even if you close your eyes.”

“Also…why were the three female ghosts today so strong and vicious? They were very kind and innocent girls when they were alive. Even if they died violent deaths, they shouldn’t be so frightening, right?”

“They died so unjustly and in such a horrifying manner. It would be weird if they weren’t powerful.” Ruan Zhan felt Xiao Xia’s thoughts were very strange. “How about you try getting unjustly harmed by someone? Twisted people have extraordinary wicked strength. Ghosts filled with resentment are the same way. It’s more about their state of mind, and has nothing to do with their personalities in life.”

“When I was young, I heard the story of “The Songding Count Encounters a Ghost”. It said that a newly formed ghost doesn’t have much power. But look at this.” Xiao Xia raised her hand. “My arm was almost chewed off by them today.” Actually, her bringing up this and that was just to have Ruan Zhan, who was trying his best to leave, remain by her side a little longer. She didn’t really want to be by herself today.

The bruises on her slender arms almost made him stretch out his hand to caress them. However, he immediately turned his movement into gripping the doorknob. “Don’t go outside the next couple of days. Everything will be fine.” He turned to leave but caught sight of the piece of jade on her chest. He couldn’t help but frown.

“Give me your amulet.”

“What for?”

“I’m not going to steal your stuff!” Xiao Xia’s anxious and reluctant appearance made him smile. “You’ve encountered too much evil these past few days. The jade has been contaminated with vile aura and its protective powers have decreased. I’ll help you drive it out and purify this treasure.”

“Taking the initiative to be kind? You must have ulterior motives.”

“Forget it if you’re not interested.”

“Who says I’m not? Would I be scared of you?” Xiao Xia took off the jade. “I’m overflowing with righteousness so I’m not afraid of your crafty schemes. Aren’t you just trying to get me to leave your place sooner? I’m telling you, not a chance! You should put such thoughts to rest!”

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