Inside a dried well.
Witch Doctor Ah Bai’s remains were actually resting inside a dried well behind the Octagonal Tower! It was so close to where they were staying, but Ruan Zhan actually didn’t sense any ghostly or yin aura despite his power. It had also been incredibly difficult for Witch Doctor Ah Bai to contact Xiao Xia. What seal and restriction was so powerful?
Ruan Zhan spent an entire morning inside the well before discovering that it was a talisman built into the wall that suppressed all of Witch Doctor Ah Bai’s aura. The talisman and sealing method was extremely familiar. It immediately made him recall the Japanese ghost case’s seal mixed into the basement wall.
The one responsible was actually Witch Doctor Ah Bai’s ghost husband, Si Ma Nan!
This solidified Xiao Xia’s decision to bring Witch Doctor Ah Bai to see Si Ma Nan. She wanted to help this kind and beautiful woman ask: If he did something so ruthless, had he truly ever loved her in the past?!
They took Witch Doctor Ah Bai’s soul back home with them, but Si Ma Nan had vanished once again. Immigration records showed that Si Ma Nan and his mistress Hong Hao Hao, posing as this city’s millionaire Zhang Qun and his daughter Zhang Xue, had left the country!
Xiao Xia could do nothing about the situation. She didn’t have the means to pursue them abroad. She could only let Witch Doctor Ah Bai live with her while waiting for an opportunity. She refused to believe Si Ma Nan would never return. He had yet to harm Ruan Zhan, and hadn’t gotten the thing Witch Doctor Ah Bai was keeping yet. How could he just let things go?!
She had the childish thought that she was just taking Witch Doctor Ah Bai out on a trip. She would bring her out from this large mountain to see the teeming world after several decades had passed. Therefore, whenever night fell, she would wander around randomly with the mirror on her back. Then, she would hang out at the Nocturnal Revenant bar while secretly implementing her “villages encroaching the city” hot guy pickup plan. Although there wasn’t much progress, she spent the month quite happily.
As for her job…while they were in the mountains, the Everplenty Group announced the news of their chairman’s sudden death. There was even a thoroughly convincing funeral. Then, the will of Mr. Huang, who had been the head of the city’s top ten young entrepreneurs, donated all his belongings to the “non-profit law firm”. It was to become a fund for charitable and benevolent legal work. This selfless act garnered much praise and admiration from the public. Only Ruan Zhan’s group knew that it was either Si Ma Nan’s handiwork, or Guan Zheng had already made prior arrangements!
Since their funding was secured, the non-profit law firm could continue operating as before. Therefore, after a month of being paid while doing nothing, Xiao Xia was contacted by the new head of the law firm, announcing the end of her vacation. Her dream of being forgotten by the boss while still getting her salary was thoroughly shattered.
Furthermore, she received her new assignment.
“What’s a business trip?” Ah Bai asked.
Now that they’ve stayed with each other for a while, Witch Doctor Ah Bai’s respectful title had been replaced by just her name, a more intimate form of address. For Xiao Xia, it was very nice to have someone living with her in the small apartment, even if it was just someone inside a mirror.
“It means to go work elsewhere for a period of time.” Xiao Xia held and ate out of a watermelon without regard for her image. “This time it’s to spread knowledge of the law to rural areas. I have to visit four towns in the next month where knowledge of the law is a little weak. I’m to educate people on how to use the law when their rights are infringed upon. Which is to say…” She saw Ah Bai didn’t really understand and used a different method to explain. “If someone does something unreasonable and harms you, you don’t have to bear with it. Instead, you should report it to the authorities based on the local laws I tell you about. You can go seek justice in a place where it’s upheld.”
“This is a kind act that helps others!”
“That’s right. It’s a good thing!” Xiao Xia compared Ah Bai’s excitement to her own frustration and thoroughly criticized herself. “I’m a city dweller without a conscience. I don’t like to bear hardships, I’m selfish, I hate hassle, so I didn’t really want to go. However, after you put it that way, I do feel it can help a lot of disadvantaged people. I’m not as reluctant to go anymore. Alright, let’s go pack!”
“Aren’t you going to say goodbye to Wan Li and Ruan Zhan?”
“I was only told today that I’m leaving early tomorrow morning! Really, couldn’t I get a heads up?! Forget it, I’ll just give them a call later.”
Seeing that the curtains to Xiao Xia’s windows had been drawn, Ah Bai floated out from the mirror and helped Xiao Xia pack. This made Xiao Xia feel a little strange. Although Ah Bai often helped her with household chores, she still wasn’t used to it. It felt like she got herself a kind River Snail Maiden to help her instead of her doing the helping.
“Can you take me with you?” Ah Bai asked shyly, “That…that business trip!”
“Of course! If I left you here, wouldn’t it be the same as being in that well…” Xiao Xia hurriedly stopped speaking.
Ah Bai understood what she meant, but merely smiled gently. “That’s right, it would be very lonely! But time passes pretty quickly when you’re missing someone!”
As she looked at Ah Bai’s sorrowful expression that held a hint of sweetness, Xiao Xia didn’t know what to say. Ah Bai should know who had sealed her. Why didn’t she hate him?
“I’ll possess something else.” Ah Bai changed the subject. “You can’t keep carrying a mirror around, right?”
“That’s true. This copper mirror is really quite heavy.” Xiao Xia immediately went along and no longer mentioned that matter. She looked around as she spoke, and her gaze landed on a silver bracelet on the makeup counter.
She had gotten that bracelet from the mountains. It was a thin silver circlet half an inch wide. It had a patterned lattice and looked rather simple. There was a red coral the size of a peanut in the middle. Close to the bracelet’s clasp, there was a small and exquisite green stone. When hung on her wrist, it gave Xiao Xia a wild sort of beauty. Wan Li’s review: extremely sexy.
“How about hiding in here? I’ll wrap the patterned string around it. That way it’ll both look pretty and be more convenient for you, alright?”
Ah Bai nodded cheerfully, happy at being able to travel with Xiao Xia.
The “patterned string” was a random name Xiao Xia had come up with. It was actually just some multicolored thread that Xiao Xia had woven into a string. Ruan Zhan had gifted it to her. The threads contained sealing power. When the threads were wrapped behind the mirror’s frame, they sealed Ah Bai inside. Although Ah Bai wouldn’t be able to come out unless Xiao Xia undid the patterned string, this came with a huge benefit: Ah Bai could travel around with Xiao Xia during the day.
During the following month, Xiao Xia travelled to four different places. She stayed in each place for a week. Luckily the law firm’s itinerary was rather reasonable. Despite being a non-profit, they arranged local contacts to pick her up and cooperate with her as she worked. Furthermore, she remained within major provinces in the north and didn’t need to do any major “relocation”.
However, she had thought the four places she was visiting would all be impoverished. Unexpectedly, this wasn’t the case for the last place, although it did appear like it on the surface.
It was a town called Hongqing Town. The population was around fifty thousand. There was an unnamed mountain behind the town and the wind blew very fiercely in the winter. It stung the face painfully, earning the town its previous name: Pepper Mouth. Afterwards, they renamed it to Hongqing Town based on the recommendation of a famous fengshui master.
Two of the characters in the town’s name had the water radical. The intent was to bring water and wealth to this dry and impoverished town.
Strangely enough, within ten years after the name change, Pepper Mouth went through major changes. An abundant water source was discovered underneath the town. Furthermore, under the mayor’s guidance, the town swiftly rose out of poverty and became the province’s wealthiest town.
It still looked like an impoverished town on the surface. The land still looked as it did a decade ago. No houses were built and the roads weren’t repaired. Apart from several privately owned inns and hotels which looked a little better, everything still gave off an impression of poverty.
It’s said that the local government was quite honest and simple. The reason they didn’t immediately start renovations was because they were methodically creating an overall design for the new town while preparing funding and manpower. The new town had now been completed, and was located several kilometers to the west. They were waiting for autumn to start the relocation.
The local contact responsible for receiving her was called Mao Fu. He was the town’s deputy mayor and was responsible for the town’s political, legal and cultural matters. He was around forty years old. He looked capable, his clothing and hair had the neatness and simplicity of an intellectual from a small town. His demeanor was a little like that of an official. Despite being gentle, there was also a bit of unreasonable elegance.
Being received by the deputy mayor himself surprised Xiao Xia. Or rather, she was overwhelmed by the favor. She was just a representative of a non-profit, almost a charity after all. Although there had been someone from the local government assisting her in the other three places, they weren’t quite so high up. Besides, this was an actual “official”.
Moreover, she also didn’t really like such scenes. She never liked having to exchange false pleasantries. Mao Fu also made a long, pompous speech, noting how important the legal framework was and how lucky they were to have a non-profit law firm helping them. He also praised Xiao Xia’s beauty and generosity, giving her goosebumps and almost boring her to sleep.
From what she knew, her sermon tomorrow at the town’s subsidiary would be attended by two other government workers, Deputy Mayor Mao Fu, two local journalists, two “sincerely” invited reporters, and countless chiefs and officials of whatever functions. There was actually going to be fifteen people tagging along. She immediately understood that their non-profit’s act of kindness had been turned into propaganda and a political achievement in Hongqing Town.
After she leaves, the newspapers and news channels here would all report how concerned the leadership in this town was regarding the legal framework here, which might even be used as the model for the entire province. It would be an achievement for the group of officials. With all the pomp and ceremony, the effects of her sermons would be drastically reduced. They might even be completely ineffective, rendering her tiring trip here meaningless!
“As expected, Miss Yue is truly from a large city. Even her bracelet is so beautiful!” A long-faced man called Zhao Jia Yuan said flatteringly, and “accidentally” touched Xiao Xia’s wrist.
Xiao Xia immediately glared at him without leaving him any dignity. Seeing this, Mao Fu hurriedly smoothed things over. However, Xiao Xia no longer wanted to stay with these people. Saying she had to prepare for tomorrow’s sermon, she declined the banquet arranged at the largest hotel in town and returned to the inn by herself.
This inn was also one of the town’s largest, and the environment was pretty good. The innkeeper was smooth and warm, and looked as if he was born to the role. However, Xiao Xia kept getting the feeling that his gaze towards her was probing and musing. It seemed as if he wanted to say something but stopped himself, making her feel a little strange.
“Is something wrong?”She asked the innkeeper who had followed her to her room.
“Nothing.” The innkeeper put on his professional smile. “Having come back so early, Miss Yue probably hasn’t eaten dinner yet, right? What would you like to eat?”
“I’m good with anything, just not beef.” Xiao Xia was really a little hungry so she didn’t stand on ceremony.
“Sure, sure, I’ll bring it right over.” The innkeeper agreed, but stood without moving. When Xiao Xia looked over doubtfully, he hurriedly asked, “Is the room…satisfactory?”
“It’s great….is there really nothing wrong? If you have a legal question…”
“No no no, nothing, nothing.” The innkeeper hastily waved his hand, as if afraid someone would think there was something wrong.
His actions truly made Xiao Xia a little curious, yet she was also a little tired. The three weeks of travel had exhausted her stamina so she didn’t press further.
She was going to the town’s closest village tomorrow. She would leave early in the morning and return at night. She decided that if she got back early and didn’t need to socialize with those bumpkin officials, she would look into what was wrong with this innkeeper. She would help if she could!
After taking a shower, she got into bed. She fell fast asleep the moment her head hit the pillow. Her sleep was dark, murky and without dreams. However, she had always been a light sleeper. Around midnight, she suddenly heard a very soft thudding, as if someone was walking on tiptoes.
Blearily, her first thought was that Ah Bai was doing something. Although Ah Bai had followed Xiao Xia’s schedule in the past three weeks, she would sometimes go out at night for a stroll. She was curious towards everything in this world, like an actual child. Xiao Xia was very willing to let her do as she pleased, and never stopped her. She was so kind after all, and wouldn’t scare or harm anyone. Instead, she would often go around helping others!
Thinking of this, Xiao Xia turned over to go back to sleep. Yet a thought suddenly penetrated her consciousness, causing her to become wide awake. Her body was covered in cold sweat!
Ah Bai was a ghost. Her footsteps didn’t make any noise, and she had never woken her up before! Furthermore….after showering she had left the bracelet on the makeup counter in the bathroom. She had forgotten to undo the sealing patterned string. Ah Bai was probably also tired and had fallen asleep inside the bracelet without reminding her to do so.
Then who was in her room? She had definitely locked the door! Was it a burglar?!
There was a heavy thump and a series of clanks. It sounded as though something had tipped over and rolled to the bathroom door.
A man’s voice reminded the “burglar” next to the bathroom to be careful. The startled Xiao Xia became even more afraid to move. The noise actually came from the bedside lamp behind her!
Did more than one “burglar” enter her room? What should she do? She was currently unarmed and Ah Bai wasn’t able to come out to help! Could she jump up and call for help or try to struggle? Yet her pajamas were really sexy. What if it gave the other party the idea to plunder more than just her belongings?
Cold sweat trickled down her back. A voice unexpectedly rang out from behind her!
“It’s so hot…I can’t breathe…let me out…it’s really hot! Please! Let me go!”
Then, the sounds of crying could be heard.
The voices were all male!