Ruan Zhan was very secretive the next few days, and also extremely busy. Xiao Xia could only remain idle on the side. Although she suspected the three female ghosts were staying outside her window every day, she didn’t dare look. Fatigue could also overcome fear in the end.
This afternoon, she ran for the “ghost-warding fortress” the moment she got off work as usual. However, she managed to encounter a mugger in the middle of the day. Strangely, this mugger seemed a little abnormal. He half-heartedly tried to steal her things, and ran off without succeeding. He merely scratched a bleeding wound on her arm with his knife.
Things happened so suddenly. The mugger’s actions were also extremely swift and he had someone covering him. Before the people on the street realized what was going on, he had already vanished without a trace. Xiao Xia was left scared stiff, wordlessly pointing towards where the mugger ran off.
“Are you ok?” A pleasant voice sounded out and something wrapped around her wound.
The throbbing pain almost made Xiao Xia cry out. She looked down and realized someone had pressed a thick paper towel on her wound. The person who helped her was actually an extremely beautiful woman in red with a seductive figure.
But why did it hurt so much? It was like countless needles piercing into her flesh!
“How about having it checked out at the hospital?” The woman in red asked attentively.
Before Xiao Xia could respond, a tall man walked over hurriedly. He put one arm around Xiao Xia’s shoulder and his other hand carefully held the wrist of her injured hand, instantly wrapping her up in warmth and safety. “Can’t do without me by your side, right? Got into trouble again?”
It was Wan Li!
Having not seen him for a month, Xiao Xia wanted to smile from joy. However, the pain from her wound made it hard to breathe and she trembled uncontrollably. “You’re back?”
“That’s right.” He carefully examined the knife wound on her arm. “Haven’t even gotten over my jetlag before coming to pick you up. I thought to invite you to dinner, but ended up witnessing the frightening scene of your heroic injury.”
The state of her wound made him involuntarily frown. Although he was a psychologist, he still had some general medical knowledge. The wound was jagged. What sort of knife left marks like a bite wound? He hated himself for arriving a minute too late. He had watched her get attacked in the distance but hadn’t made it in time to save her.
“To the hospital, now.” He made a prompt decision.
Xiao Xia nodded, the pain leaving her no energy to refuse. Prior to leaving, she recalled the woman in red who helped her and hurriedly expressed her thanks.
“Don’t worry about it. It was a small effort.” The woman replied politely and watched Wan Li leave with Xiao Xia. She carefully put the paper towel that had been pressed against Xiao Xia’s wound into her backpack, revealing a disdainful smile.
The strange thing was that there was no trace of blood on it!
She got into a car parked by the road. She drove all the way to the most luxurious and wealthy enclosed district in the suburbs and walked into one of the buildings.
“Piece of cake!” She smugly took out the paper towel and handed it to the man on the sofa.
The man looked a little over forty. He was fair and delicate, slightly chubby. Beneath his elegant demeanor, it felt like he was harboring malicious intentions.
He opened the paper towel. There were two strange worms on it. They were swollen round and the color of blood. He placed them into a small glass bottle and give it a gentle flick. They spat out fresh blood and vanished with a burnt smell.
“It’s not a lot.” He shook the bottle.
“The gangster I recruited was too cowardly. He ran off before doing much so the wound wasn’t too big. This limited the amount your specially made leeches could absorb.” The woman in red curled up in the man’s arms as she spoke. “Furthermore, a man suddenly appeared who seemed pretty close with Yue Xiao Xia. With his interference, I also didn’t have enough time to act. What, is it not enough? Aren’t you just painting the eyes of your flying cranes!?”
“Getting some extra might come in handy.” The man groped around inappropriately.
“You are too cautious. Is there anyone on earth who can beat you? He’s just the boss of a small bar!”
“You don’t understand, my darling Hao Hao. That man isn’t ordinary.”
“Why don’t you just go look for him? Is all this effort worth it? A foolish woman!” The woman in red called Hao Hao said resentfully. She felt extremely disgusted with Xiao Xia for no reason.
Why were the men by her side so outstanding? The bar’s owner was one, and the man who took her to the hospital was another. And they were so gentle and protective! Why did she, Hong Hao Hao, not have such good fortune!?
“I don’t fight uncertain battles and must have the flying crane investigate his skills up close first. Last time I took a glance from afar but that person surnamed Ruan had somewhat sensed it. Therefore, I’m not able to get close at all, and also cannot test him out. The woman surnamed Yue lives with him. Whether or not they’re working together on the matter at school, we can thoroughly investigate him by following her!”
“You probably aren’t putting so much effort just for moneybags Zhang, right?” Hong Hao Hao said doubtfully.
The middle-aged man smiled profoundly and fished out several pieces of yellow paper covered with drawn symbols. He patiently folded them into paper cranes one by one before using Xiao Xia’s blood from the bottle to draw their eyes. He then chanted a spell.
“Fly!” He threw the paper cranes into the air. “Find the source of blood and observe their every move.”
The paper cranes’ eyes glowed eerily red and flew out of the house with the man’s gesture. They vanished without being noticed and after an hour, they were all perched outside the Nocturnal Revenant bar’s doors, either on trees, lampposts or the eaves of the bar across the street. They happened to see Xiao Xia and Wan Li entering after coming back from the hospital.
The bar wasn’t too busy at this time. Ruan Zhan was sitting on the stairs looking preoccupied. Seeing Wan Li pulling Xiao Xia inside, his face lit up in pleasant surprise. He no longer had to worry about a lack of manpower. Reinforcements had arrived in the nick of time!
“Finally scrammed back.” He stood up and greeted happily, but realized Xiao Xia looked off. “What’s wrong with you? Did something happen again?”
“This lucky lady managed to get mugged in broad daylight in this peaceful city of ours.” Wan Li joked, trying to alleviate Xiao Xia’s disquiet at being suddenly attacked. “Her arm was wounded and needed twelve stitches. Luckily you weren’t there to see it. When the doctor was treating her, she was yelling in pain. It sounded like ghosts wailing and wolves howling.”
“You’re the one who sounds like ghost and wolves!” Xiao Xia hit him weakly. Her arm was still burning with pain so she gave him a kick. “You guys chat. I’m going upstairs to change.”
As she walked by him, swaying as she went up the stairs, Ruan Zhan’s heart tightened. An unfamiliar feeling lingered and refused to leave.
“What? Feeling heartache?” Wan Li took a seat at the bar. “Give me a stimulant first. I haven’t gotten over my jetlag yet!”
A stimulant? Sure!
While Wan Li was unprepared, Ruan Zhan quickly drew a few strokes in the air and pointed at Wan Li. He immediately leapt up as though pricked by a needle.
“Ouch! What was that for?” He rubbed the back of his hand.
“Didn’t you want a stimulant? It seems to be pretty effective.” Ruan Zhan walked behind the bar and poured a drink for him. “Was it really a mugging?”
“It should be! It doesn’t get dark until late this time of year. Would there be ghosts in the middle of the day? However, her wound is a little strange. It doesn’t look like a knife wound. The doctor said it’s more like a bite.”
“A bite wound?”
“The medical term would be a laceration. It might have been done by an unknown weapon.” Wan Li looked at Ruan Zhan’s furrowed brows and said: “Recently she’s only provoked Bloody Mary. It shouldn’t be able to run over to her office and give her a bite, right? It might really just be a coincidence.”
“She told you everything already?” Ruan Zhan temporarily put his doubts about the mugging aside, and put all his thoughts onto what he had been planning.
“She spoke the entire way here to distract herself from the pain. Actually, she is also very worried. She feels you guys are being attacked from both sides.”
“That issue is now solved.”
“I know, I know. Didn’t I come surrender myself voluntarily? Whether it’s effective or not, at least my attitude is good. Do you have a plan?”
Ruan Zhan gave Wan Li a signal with his eyes. The two left the bar area which started filling up with customers and sat next to each other on the stairs.