The first floor market of the apartment building matched Ruan Zhan’s requirements very well. It wasn’t large, seemingly only around twenty-something square meters. It was enclosed, with no other inner rooms apart from the bathrooms. There was only a wooden partitioning wall that split the room into two.
Ruan Zhan took out a stack of talismans from his shirt. “Put them all up.” He used his senses to accurately hand the stack to Zuo De. “Divide them evenly between the walls, doors, windows, ceiling, and floor. Don’t miss a single spot.”
Zuo De agreed directly and started moving along with Reporter Ma. Liu Hong secretly observed Ruan Zhan from the side. She would try and follow whoever she felt had the better chance to get her out of here.
Although Ruan Zhan’s actions were carefree, she still slowly realized there was something wrong with his eyes.
“Are you…blind?” She blurted out.
Everyone immediately fell silent and looked towards Ruan Zhan. Xiao Xia didn’t bother with words. She walked up and ruthlessly gave Liu Hong a slap. How did such a woman exist? She normally looked refined and magnanimous, smart and sensible. Yet the moment she encountered danger, her selfish, despicable and idiotic nature surfaced!
“You hit me?!” Liu Hong was a famous beautiful reporter from the province’s TV channel. She was adored by thousands. How could she have suffered such treatment before? Her terror was completely forgotten as she was both startled and angry!
“I’m not afraid to tell you that I’ve been wanting to hit you for a long time!” Xiao Xia straightened her back. “You’re a panic-spreader. Apart from spreading fear, there’s nothing you’re good for. Someone like you deserves to be eaten by ghosts! That’s still acceptable, but if you start screaming randomly again, I’ll kick you right back to the plaza. He got injured barging into the city to save us. You’re not allowed to speak about his eyes. Otherwise, I will also give you a taste of being blind! Go die elsewhere, don’t let me see you again!”
“You…” Xiao Xia’s rage stunned Liu Hong. The usually eloquent person was actually speechless.
Xiao Xia harrumphed coldly and turned, pulling at Ruan Zhan’s hand. “Let’s go rest in the back. Ignore that woman who’s like a living ghost!”
Liu Hong only recovered after several seconds. “That woman…what’s wrong with that woman?”
She glanced towards Xiao Xia and Ruan Zhan who were hidden behind the wooden partition. Her whole body trembled with rage. She looked at the others but they all ignored her. Even Zuo De was the same.
She was unable to vent her anger and could only run to Zuo De and pull at his arm. She knew he had always treated her extremely well. “What do you think about this? I merely asked a question but she actually hit me!”
“If you still want to get out of here alive, don’t offend Miss Yue.” Zuo De responded coldly and continued pasting talismans.
He always had a soft spot for Liu Hong, but this matter had revealed her inner nature. This left him extremely disappointed, and he felt he had misjudged. However, because he was kindhearted, he didn’t want to abandon her since they were still acquaintances. Besides, anyone with eyes could see Yue Xiao Xia and the man called Ruan Zhan had something going on between them. They were feelings that only people in love would exhibit: intimacy, tenderness and affection. Ruan Zhan must have barged into the city for Yue Xiao Xia’s sake. The rest of them were in his debt. How could they still make trouble without reason!?
His words made Liu Hong unable to say anything else. She was no fool, and knew they had to rely on them to get out. Therefore, she could only swallow her anger. Recalling how Xiao Xia said se was like a living ghost, she hurriedly fished a mirror out her purse which she had held onto the whole time. She started tidying up her appearance for the first time since everything had happened. She never considered that the moment of peace was all due to Ruan Zhan.
Zuo De sighed silently. He finished his task and then took a look outside the door. The fog outside the room was roiling, as if trying to force its way in. However, it was unable to because of those talismans. Therefore, it grew thicker and murkier like clouds before a storm.
He knew the man surnamed Ruan was no ordinary person. Yet the situation was too horrifying and none of them could predict how it would end. Yet no matter what, they still had some hope now. He wasn’t able to tell how much time had passed. His watch had stopped after they entered the empty city. The sky was always the same color of grey. What time was it now outside?
It was evening of the second day back in the old town. Rumors were floating around how only three drivers had returned of the original group of fifteen people, with no news of the rest. The town’s government had organized a large search party and sent them out looking for tracks based on the drivers’ accounts.
However, those accounts were rather bizarre. The town’s leadership had already ordered them to keep silent. Therefore, the townsfolk only knew that the propaganda team had gotten lost in the mountains, and the town was sending people to look for them.
Evenings and mornings were the busiest time of day. Working people returned home, children got out of school, housewives went grocery shopping to make dinner, restaurants and street stalls were extremely busy. It was in the midst of the bustling that a man walked leisurely along the street.
He was a very unfamiliar face, clearly not from around here. Under his carefree appearance was an observant nature. He was tall and sturdy, but his face was amiable and gentle. He looked very likeable. His bearing and poise wasn’t something the locals here possessed, and attracted all the young women’s attention as he passed.
“Mister, how about a meal?” A small restaurant’s female server came out to call for business.
Wan Li smiled and shook his head. He kept walking.
Ruan Zhan had already given him the detailed location. He had to find where Ruan Zhan was staying. He had left something there for him. He had a very good sense of direction and didn’t need to ask the way. Just walking slowly like this allowed him to reach that inn.
“This fellow, is it necessary to be so frugal? Why not stay in a better in!?” He grumbled, walking into the small inn a little unwillingly. From an outsider’s perspective, an outstanding person like him walking into such a lowkey place was extremely jarring.
He asked for the room next to Ruan Zhan’s, and found the opportunity to break in. Actually it wasn’t really breaking in. Ruan Zhan had already messed with the lock. Others wouldn’t know how to enter. It required a unique method that the two of them shared.
After entering, he felt around behind the closet and took out the bloodwood sword.
It hadn’t shrunk. Ruan Zhan knew Wan Li didn’t have any powers, so he had the sword maintain its normal appearance. Actually, he advocated for Ruan Zhan to take the sword into the problematic new town. However, Ruan Zhan was afraid Si Ma Nan would cause mischief on the outside and left the sword to him.
If Si Ma Nan hired some thug, Wan Li wasn’t scared. He was tall and strong, and spent too much time at the gym. He also had a lot of experience in fights. Now that he had the bloodwood sword, he could even deal with supernatural opponents!
His task was to investigate Hongqing Town and its surroundings to see if any major cases had happened before. Or if a large group of people had died or gone missing.
He took out a leather envelope from the drawers. Inside was a treasure Ruan Zhan left so the two of them could communicate easily: approximately ten origami little birds. This was the upgraded version of Ruan Zhan’s bird tracking technique. He had come up with the name.
Ruan Zhan had used this technique during Guan Zheng’s case. The reason he cultivated this sort of technique was because Si Ma Nan had once used those paper cranes as spies, peeping on their affairs. Ruan Zhan had realized within the information his father had dumped on him back then, there was a similar method. Therefore, he had refined it into the more orthodox, more high-end bird tracking technique.
This made Ruan Zhan seriously wonder about Si Ma Nan’s relationship with his own father. Therefore, he was insistent on facing off against Si Ma Nan. Ruan Zhan had to eliminate this evil person, and also investigate his own past and the reason for his father’s death. Wan Li, as Ruan Zhan’s only friend, naturally would help without any reservations!
Their method of communication this time was a new method Ruan Zhan had come up with by combining Witch Doctor Ah Bai’s water scrying technique with his bird tracking technique. He just had to draw a special talisman using spirit power, add Witch Doctor Ah Bai’s spell on it and then cut it into two. Half of it would be burned to ashes and kept on his person. The other half was folded into a paper bird and given to Wan Li.
When Wan Li had something to tell Ruan Zhan, he just had to place the paper bird on his own head. Then, he would burn the talismans in the envelope containing the water scrying technique. Once the paper bird starts circling overhead, he could start speaking. Once he was done, the paper bird would burn away. At the same time, his words would immediately be transmitted into Ruan Zhan’s mind.
It also worked in reverse. Ruan Zhan also communicated using this method, telling him the situation in the new town.
He felt it was very mysterious. They had been close friends for so long, yet Ruan Zhan had only started unleashing his sealed abilities in the past year while getting involved in supernatural cases. Only then had he been able to see these incredible techniques.
Seeing that it wasn’t too late yet and he had already found the two things Ruan Zhan had left him, he decided to go get some food while scoping out the situation.
He arrived at what seemed to be the biggest local restaurant. As he ate, he posed as a reporter and asked his neighboring tables about the town’s situation. He did his best to appear like a reporter looking for news, without any ulterior motives. He didn’t know whether his appearance was especially trustworthy or perhaps it was the hurriedly fabricated reporter’s badge. Maybe it was because he was good at speaking with others as a psychiatrist. Regardless, he easily obtained the locals’ trust and got some information.
The reason Hongqing Town bloomed so rapidly was firstly because a very famous fengshui master had changed its name from Pepper Mouth to Hongqing Town. Secondly, after the name change, they had discovered an abundant underground spring as well as a very special type of clay. Along with the craftsmanship passed down from their ancestors, they were able to create extremely exquisite porcelain that sold extremely well domestically and abroad.
In the past, the people only knew to bake bricks. The few who baked porcelain only did so for their own use. It was through the mayor’s announcements and efforts that the people realized these things could be exchanged for large amounts of money and business.
Hongqing Town’s mayor was surnamed Yuan. He was a very capable person and had been the mayor for many years. Under his leadership, not only did the town’s porcelain business develop very well, many other crafting, farming and commercial ventures also blossomed. This allowed their town to become the wealthiest within the province!
Although such information didn’t seem that useful, Wan Li wouldn’t be able to ask about related topics if he didn’t first ask about this. After a round of chatting, Wan Li finally got something of value.
The new town location was originally a brick kiln facility.
To maintain the value of porcelain, Hongqing Town maintained the traditional methods of producing it. Not only in terms of craftsmanship, but even the baking kiln process was kept around the same. The kiln facility was built next to the where the clay was harvested. After a period of time, a giant pit ended up developing next to the kiln.
Once all the top quality clay was completely excavated, the kiln facility was relocated to the north of the town, which was more convenient and still unexcavated. The town also decided to fill in the pit with low-quality soil and construct the new town there.
According to the fengshui master, that piece of land had extremely good fengshui!