Once they got back from dinner, they sat in Xiao Xia’s room and discussed the recent happenings. After listening to Xiao Xia and Wan Li’s careful account, Ruan Zhan knit his brows tightly.
It seems this matter wasn’t simple. It wasn’t like their previous cases which were caused by the victims having provoked evil spirits. Xiao Xia could be said to have coincidentally gotten involved and ended up getting threatened and obstructed. They only carried out their exorcisms because Xiao Xia insisted on helping those people.
This time however, Xiao Xia wasn’t that deeply involved. If Gu Yu Fang hadn’t died, perhaps the attacks on Xiao Xia could be explained as threats to make her withdraw, though it would be a stretch. However, now that Gu Yu Fang was dead and the police were involved, with Xiao Xia having no further leads, she was essentially no longer part of the matter. Why would someone manipulate a zombie into attacking her, and use the dreamkill spell on her last night?
If everything was done by the same person, it was certain the cult must be involved.
But these were all high level spells, and would have effects on the caster. Their identity may even get exposed. There was no need to use these methods against someone who was absolutely no threat. It did more harm than good. Therefore, it definitely wasn’t so simple. There had to be something they weren’t aware of.
“Didn’t you have evidence?” He asked Wan Li.
“Oh, here.” Wan Li took out a paper bag and pulled out the steel needle and the slightly smudged talisman.
Ruan Zhan examined the objects carefully, his serious demeanor making Xiao Xia afraid to even breathe too loudly.
“Breathe, breathe.” Wan Li patted her. “It’s not rocket science. He’s just messing around with medieval superstition. You’re going to suffocate at this rate.”
“Was the steel needle only inserted halfway into the head?” Ruan Zhan interrupted Wan Li.
“Only half. Otherwise I wouldn’t have known how to subdue her. Luckily no one saw me at the time. I was squirming around on top of the woman’s corpse. It looked very perverted.”
Ruan Zhan didn’t speak. He had a feeling that someone was controlling this entire matter from behind the scenes. Furthermore, that person’s schemes and focus seemed to include a thorough grasp of their movements. It was really hard to deal with.
“How is it?” The impetuous Xiao Xia couldn’t help but ask.
“We’ll have to see about the other things, but the zombie and the dreamkill spell was definitely done by the same person.”
“Can you tell which sect?” Xiao Xia was very curious. “Don’t wuxia novels all have sects?”
“Do you really take him for some grandmaster?” Wan Li interrupted. “He’s just a fortune teller muddling away his days. How could it be so organized?”
Ruan Zhan ignored his sarcasm and nodded at Xiao Xia. “Not just anyone can draw effective talismans. Only those with magic powers can impart spiritual energy onto them. The stronger their powers, the stronger the talisman. Furthermore, every person with such powers has their own style. Outsiders aren’t able to tell, but other experts can. It’s similar to someone’s handwriting being unique.”
“If it was done by one person, does it have anything to do with the Flower Society?”
“The dream realm last night and this drawn talisman is clearly the work of the same person. It’s very likely the Flower Society is involved, but we’ll have to investigate further.”
“That Flower Society is very evil, and many inconceivable things have happened. How did they pull off the closed-room murder? Why did Gu Yu Fang’s organs show signs of failure? Why did that so-called tribute turn to dust? It doesn’t obey the laws of science. Who are those three Shuo whatever brothers? Is the unseen investor behind the place the hidden hand?” Wan Li said.
“Also…the matter that lured Gu Yu Fang into joining the Flower Society, I’m talking about those dreams of hers. Was that also the dreamkill spell you mentioned?” Xiao Xia asked.
“You mean her wet dreams and the man of her dreams?” Wan Li responded. “Literally, the man of her dreams in this case.”
“I don’t think it was the dreamkill spell.” Ruan Zhan said. “I think they probably used the same method on everyone else. The dreamkill spell uses a lot of energy, and cannot be used so frequently.”
“So there’s another mystery?” Wan Li asked.
“Possibly. However, we should first take a look at the entertainment city. Didn’t everything originate from there?” He didn’t mention how the person responsible most likely didn’t want Xiao Xia dead. Otherwise, based on his ability to use the dreamkill spell, he wouldn’t have made such an incompetent mistake like leaving the steel needle sticking out of the zombie’s head. That person wanted Xiao Xia to be rescued.
Who was he? Why was he doing this?
“Why not? It just happens to be the time when people head out to go clubbing. We can go there and take a look.” Wan Li approved.
From the distance, the Woman Flower entertainment city seemed especially eye-catching within the cluster of neon lights. However, Ruan Zhan could see faint evil aura within the lights. No wonder Xiao Xia said she felt like she was being swallowed up when she entered.
Due to the rumors of hauntings and geomancy, they first decided to go look at the legendary stone trigrams. It was beautifully made into the shape of a road sign. However, a piece of it had broken off.
It seemed very accidental, as though it had naturally been damaged. No one had noticed it. However, Ruan Zhan lingered there for a long while before walking into the entertainment city.
Inside, it was noisy as usual and filled with people. The luxurious yet plain décor seemed unobtrusive.
They sat for a while before Ruan Zhan suddenly said: “Let’s go.”
“Go? But we just got here!” Wan Li objected. “I know you hate noise the most, but since we’re here we should stay a while. I want to see the beautiful singer Xiao Xia mentioned.”
“You only know to look at beauties.” Xiao Xia rolled her eyes at Wan Li. “Since there isn’t much to investigate, I agree we should head back.”
“You’re afraid that pretty boy wants to serve you again, right?” Wan Li gestured with his lips. Xiao Xia looked over and saw the server from last time waving at her, scaring her into hiding behind Ruan Zhan.
“When does that beauty start singing? Didn’t you say she only sings one song?” Ruan Zhan sat down once again.
“You want to see too?”
“Of course he does. Come, let me tell you the devil’s principle…all men like beauties. No matter if he’s eight or eighty years old.” Wan Li pulled Xiao Xia out from behind Ruan Zhan. “As long as a beauty appears in their line of sight, they would all notice her. Now tell me, when is the beauty coming out?”
Xiao Xia looked at her watch. “Soon. I forgot to tell you guys, I know her.”
“Oh, really?” Wan Li was interested.
“If your nonsense principle is really true, you should also know her.” Xiao Xia said. “She’s the kind passerby who helped me stem the bleeding when I was mugged in broad daylight the other day.”
“Really? Why don’t I have any recollections? I must have been too worried about your wound, and missed out on the opportunity. How unfortunate. However, I’ll definitely make up for it today.”
“Then we really must take a look.” Ruan Zhan also grew interested. “What sort of person has some fate with Xiao Xia?”
“See, she’s appeared.” Seeing their thirsty expressions, Xiao Xia pouted her lips in slight displeasure. But the singer had already appeared, and drew everyone’s attention as before.
Ruan Zhan stared silently at the singer, but his gaze wasn’t full of praise like everyone else. Instead, it contained a sort of cold probing and calculation. His eyes didn’t move the entire song.
“May I ask that lady’s name?” He pulled a server over and stuffed a tip into his hand, pointing at the person on stage.
“Hong Hao Hao, Miss Hong.”
“Can I meet her?”
“I’m afraid not, sir. Miss Hong doesn’t meet any of the customers.”
Ruan Zhan nodded without a fuss and said to Wan Li. “Then let’s go.”
“Alright, let’s go. We saw the beauty after all. The trip wasn’t in vain.” Wan Li smiled to cover the doubts in his heart. He had an inexplicable feeling in his heart and needed to think things over carefully. “If we compared women to clothing, that one would be a mink fur coat. Our Xiao Xia would be a pure white cotton shirt.”
Xiao Xia almost kicked him in her anger.
“Hey, why are you getting angry?”
“You’re the psychologist. You don’t need me to tell you.” She walked ahead fuming.
Looking at Xiao Xia’s departing figure, Wan Li smiled. “As expected, one shouldn’t compliment other women when in front of one.”
“Why make her angry if you knew this?”
“Didn’t you see she’s been nervous ever since we got here? There’s no benefit to fear, but anger can sometimes stimulate courage.”