Realized I skipped Chapter 10 when posting. It’s been updated. Sorry for the confusion.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Wan Li brought the information he dug up on the Everplenty Group to City A.
“Everything is laid out in here. Starting from when the company was just a small workshop, how they developed, their current assets, main businesses and competitors, market information. Everyone important in the company and eighteen generations of their ancestors and how many mistresses they have. It even has profile pictures. It’s all in this disk.”
Wan Li took off his jacket and saw Xiao Xia sitting there beaming at him.
“What? Seems like you’re very pleased to see me. I don’t feel quite as exhausted anymore!”
“Of course. I do miss you after not seeing you for some time.”
“Ah, you truly are much more conscientious than that bastard.” Wan Li pouted towards Ruan Zhan who was currently looking through the information contained in the disk. “He just knows to use me. I’m a psychologist from a renowned university who also serves as a guest lecturer. But he’s using me as a detective.”
“More like a private investigator.”
“Those aren’t allowed in China. Although I’m doing an investigator’s work, we can only have detectives or local constables here. Which one would you say I am?”
Xiao Xia snorted and laughed. She looked at Wan Li’s yuppie getup and face and was speechless.
Detective? Local constable? Where did he come up with that!? His appearance didn’t resemble anything of the sort! However, she also felt relaxed and cheerful after seeing him. This wasn’t the same as being together with Ruan Zhan. When the two were alone together, her heart would beat irregularly. However, she would also feel especially safe and at ease. Additionally there would be a tiny bit of inappropriate thoughts.
“Any clues?” Wan Li saw that Ruan Zhan had finished skimming over the document and was sitting there silently.
“Then I spent all that effort for nothing?”
“Not exactly. Your investigation at least helped us eliminate one possibility.”
“Process of elimination?” Wan Li raised his voice. “I worked like a dog and snuck around like a rat, and you’re telling me you were just using the process of elimination?!”
“It’s a very important process.” Ruan Zhan gave a very annoying response.
“Very important, is it!?” Wan Li stood up. “Xiao Xia, don’t hold me back. I’m going to give this fortuneteller a beating and eliminate the possibility of him being a good person.” He rolled up his sleeves.
“You looking to have a taste of a petrification spell!?” Ruan Zhan smiled without smiling as he gave Wan Li a glance. Wan Li blinked and didn’t continue his actions.
At this time, Xiao Xia hurriedly handed him a cup of tea. “It’s better if you used that smart brain of yours to help us analyze the recent weird events. We’ve hit a dead end and can’t think of anything else. Ruan Zhan, you tell him.”
Ruan Zhan nodded and laid everything out, including the results of his own investigation and analysis.
He felt that he was stuck and must have overlooked something, but wasn’t able to figure it out. He was certain Yang Mu You was messing around behind the scenes. However, even if that were the case, he had to resolve it. Finding Yang Mu You wasn’t a good solution. Besides, he didn’t want to scare him off. He was hatching a long-term plan for him.
Having Wan Li investigate the Everplenty Group was a move designed to fool Yang Mu You. It was to make him think they were trying to solve the case via regular means. In reality, Ruan Zhan knew clearly that Yang Mu You’s cunning and cautiousness meant he wouldn’t directly get involved. The Everplenty Group’s involvement was definitely the result of him asking or manipulating someone else.
Therefore, Yang Mu You’s present identity had to be related in some way to the Everplenty Group, and quite significantly at that. This meant they could target the few higher-ups in the company. However, he couldn’t personally investigate. Yang Mu You knew this as well and definitely wouldn’t meet with him. He naturally couldn’t break into these wealthy people’s homes either.
The questions he was currently stuck on were the house, the mysterious ghost and that Japanese person!
After Wan Li finished listening, he didn’t even think things over before asking, “You’ve investigated everything and determined the ghost has to be related to the house. That Japanese person came for the ghost. But there aren’t any clues, right?”
“I keep feeling I overlooked something.”
“That’s because you’re stupid!” Wan Li took the opportunity to strike a blow. “It’s quite obvious. Since everything seems normal, why don’t you investigate the person who built the place!? I mean to say the craftsman!”
Ruan Zhan froze.
That’s right! Why didn’t he think of the person who built the place?
Since nothing had happened ever since the place was built, and even the land was clean, only the builder who had been in contact with the house’s foundation could change its fate. Although there wasn’t anything on the surface and the evil spirit was still a mystery, perhaps investigating the builder would yield some discoveries!
“You’re right. I didn’t think of it.” Ruan Zhan admitted honestly.
“Since we’re old friends, let me teach you a proverb. This is called having your eyes blocked by a single leaf.” Wan Li stretched his long legs out comfortably. “See, Xiao Xia? The quality of men truly differ.”
“What penetrating insight!” Xiao Xia praised, but didn’t let Wan Li bask in happiness before pouring a bucket of cold water. “However, is there some smart person who can tell me how we’re going to find this builder? Don’t tell me there are records of that as well!”
“This…is a problem.” Wan Li’s smile collapsed. “But it’s the only clue we have.”
The three fell silent.
After a moment, Xiao Xia suddenly recalled something Sis Wang had chattered on about. “I heard that the row of houses were built at the same time back then. The investor fronted the money and a Chinese person who spent some time abroad did the designs. I also heard these houses are so sturdy because glutinous rice slurry was mixed in with the cement. I’m guessing it was a major construction project back then. Might have caused quite the sensation.”
“You might be right. We can look into the old documents here or perhaps ask some of the elderly still living here if they remember any talk from back then.” Wan Li said. “Ah Zhan, what have you found out?”
Ruan Zhan furrowed his brows habitually and thought back. “This place used to be a wasteland where small peddlers no one cared about did business. It was similar to the farmers’ markets of today. Even the gangs back then wouldn’t come asking for protection fees. However, someone from Zhejiang later saw this place was a fengshui paradise and also had commercial prospects. He used an extremely low price to purchase this land before building many places of entertainment to attract a large amount of people. Then, he organized the peddlers and collected rent. The place slowly developed until it became the flourishing district of today. However, he left an area in the southeast portion of the land for the high officials and nobility. He sold the land there so cheaply it was essentially free.”
“Perhaps we may find some clues on him.” Wan Li’s mind was quick and immediately caught on. “Think about it. A southerner like him came to this place and struck it rich. There were naturally people jealous of him. Therefore, he left a small piece of land behind as a means to placate the masses. I’m guessing since he essentially gave the land away, the houses might be the same way. Where did that guy come from?”
“He was surnamed Li. He came from Zhejiang.”
“A southerner. No wonder he was smart.” Wan Li praised.
“Are you saying that since he gifted houses with the land, it’s most likely he was the one who employed the builders for the row of westernized houses?!” Xiao Xia started thinking. “There weren’t many Chinese architects back then who spent time abroad. The remains of those places of entertainment all seem to be western style too. Perhaps they were designed by the same person.”
“This is very important.” Ruan Zhan nodded. He suddenly felt cheerful. “Yet while the architect may have been in contact with the houses, he wouldn’t have personally done the building. Of course, anything is possible, but the ghost is most likely related to someone who personally worked on the house. That would be the builder. Now that we figured out who asked for the house and who designed it, perhaps we can figure out who built it.” He strolled in front of the window. “Normally, such high-class housing wouldn’t be built by just anyone. Not just any stray cats or dogs either…”
“Of course they wouldn’t just pick up anyone off the roadside.” Wan Li interrupted. “They would find someone who was part of an organization, or perhaps one of their own.”
“Well said. Let’s first ask around if there were any large workers’ unions around City A back then. Then we can investigate who that architect was. Regardless, Millionaire Li wouldn’t have brought workers from Zhejiang, right?” Ruan Zhan said. “From what I know, the Qinghong Society was active in City A back then. Many lower-class people had no choice but to join the society to make a living, or at least worked under them. Therefore, I’m guessing the organization we are looking for who built these houses might very well be lower-class laborers under the Qinghong Society.”
“That makes sense.” Wan Li nodded. He saw light ahead.
“I heard the architect was someone from City A, and he truly was a nominal disciple of the Qinghong Society.” Some gossip from Sis Wang flashed through Xiao Xia’s mind.
“Well done, Xiao Xia. You were even able to discover this.”
“No, I just heard it from Sis Wang.” Xiao Xia patted Wan Li’s shoulder. “She is from this city’s countryside and loves to exchange gossip. Therefore, she knows many things. The architect happens to be someone from her hometown, and was a wealthy and famous person back then. She proudly told me about him the first day I arrived.”
“Who is Sis Wang?” Wan Li asked.
“A survivor of the hauntings.” Ruan Zhan answered while putting on his jacket. “I’ll go investigate right now.”
“What are you investigating?”
“The Qinghong Society, the architect and Sis Wang.” Ruan Zhan was concise.
“I’ll go as well.” Xiao Xia subconsciously tugged on his sleeve.
Ruan Zhan grasped her hand. From the coldness, he could tell this situation made her nervous. For an instant, he wasn’t willing to let her go, but he still did so in the end. “I’ll go by myself first. I’ll need you when the moment comes.”
Xiao Xia didn’t speak and watched him leave. On the side, Wan Li’s sharp senses picked up that something had changed between the two of them.
Should he intervene? His thought startled him.
In a luxurious office building, a middle-aged man was speaking on the phone.
It was an international call!
“I’m looking for Mr. Matsui Iwane.” He spoke in Japanese.
When an aged yet stern voice sounded from the phone, he smiled.
This was the person he was looking for. The voice was so familiar it was clear the speaker’s personality hadn’t changed.
“Who is this?” The old man on the phone asked haughtily.
“It’s me.” He suddenly switched to Chinese. He believed that Matsui Iwane wouldn’t have forgotten his voice.
As expected, Matsui Iwane paused, clearly recognizing him. However, he still used the same tone to ask, “What is it?”
“Nothing much. I’m just calling to apologize.” The middle-aged man slowly said. He didn’t laugh, but his tone held amusement. “I failed to protect your disciple properly. I’ve let you down.”
“Oh.” Matsui Iwane was calm, as though they were discussing the weather. “How did he die?”
“He was killed by a Chinese Daoist called Ruan Zhan. He died very tragically, losing badly in both physical and arcane combat.”
“Thank you for notifying me of his death.” The voice was still flat, but the middle-aged man heard the meaning contained within. He sounded like a dog whose bone was snatched.
“Also,” he continued. “Kenji had obtained a rare captured spirit as his shikigami. In the end, due to his loss, his soul was devoured.”
“Is that all?”
“That is all!”
“Thank you.” There was no goodbye as the phone was hung up.
The middle-aged man put the phone down and started laughing.
“Will he take the bait? He doesn’t seem to care much about his disciple!” A one-eyed, one-armed girl sat in his arms.
“But he will take the killing of his disciple as an insult. Furthermore, he wants that treasure. It’s a very good shikigami after all!” The middle-aged man had it all planned out.
The person speaking was precisely “Moneybags” Zhang Qun and his “daughter” Zhang Xue.