He followed Ruan Zhan’s instructions as he sat cross-legged on the toilet seat and put the bloodwood sword beside him. He fished out the leather envelope and took out one of the paper birds, along with a water-scrying talisman. He took a deep breath to steady his mind.
Perhaps because he was too nervous, the paper bird kept falling off his head when he tried to place it. Only after struggling with it for a while did it sit stably on his head, letting him release a drawn out breath. It was just a piece of paper, but he felt as if it weighed a ton. His neck was stiff and sweat trickled down his face.
“It’s not my fault. I’m not used to such huckster methods.” He grumbled, comforting himself. Then he used a lighter to ignite the talisman. He thought it would burn normally, but that piece of paper immediately flew out of his hands. It hovered in midair as it burned for several minutes, completely different from ordinary objects. Because it happened too suddenly, he almost fell off the toilet seat.
He had been worried this whole time about the paper bird on his head falling off again after finally settling in place. Yet as he stumbled, he realized that it had already vanished. When he looked up, he saw it circling above his head like an actual bird.
He knew that he could now speak. He hurriedly calmed himself and sat down, recounting the events of the this night. “I used the bloodwood sword’s state to judge whether the ghosts were real or fake. When those three idiots came, the bloodwood sword didn’t move at all. They were obviously fake. Besides, I’ve just arrived. There wasn’t much I could investigate yet. I’ve told you everything already. Tell me how things are going on your end. How much longer can you hold out? Over. No, no no…one more thing. Why can’t we use walkie-talkies, or just a regular cell phone? Over for real this time.”
His voice had just fallen when he felt heat over his head. The paper bird had already turned into a small flame that burnt up swiftly in the air before plummeting.
Wan Li was startled and hurriedly leapt aside, narrowly avoiding his head from being burned. He almost cursed Ruan Zhan out of anger, blaming him for not warning him. Before he could speak, he suddenly felt someone calling him in his mind. He immediately calmed himself and listened to Ruan Zhan’s response.
Two minutes later, he left the common bathroom and returned to his own room. Although it was only midnight, he was incredibly tired. However, he wasn’t able to fall asleep anymore.
Ruan Zhan had told him: “Half of the twelve people have died. I can still hold out for a while with Xiao Xia in the new town. However, the situation outside needs to be investigated quickly. The resentful aura in the town is too deep. Normal people will suffer harm if they remain inside for too long. I am also slightly injured and need some time to recover. Also, Xiao Xia encountered some strange things in the town’s largest inn. It’s related to porcelain, as well as spirits crying about it being hot. Since you found out the new town was built over a kiln facility, it might be a good place to start. Best move into that inn.”
As for why they weren’t using normal technology to communicate, Ruan Zhan directly ignored him. However, Wan Li also understood even if he hadn’t explained it. It was because these modern devices wouldn’t have any signal. It would be scattered by an invisible magnetic field.
The reason he asked was because asking such random questions would help lighten his anxiety. Ruan Zhan was currently with Xiao Xia and six even more newb survivors than her, without any support. The more relaxed he was, the better. Although Ruan Zhan had always been calm and steady, it was hard for his emotions not to fluctuate when Xiao Xia was next to him. That damn lass was now Ruan Zhan’s weakness!
Based on Ruan Zhan’s words, those twelve trapped people more or less had something to do with this case that resulted in the resentful spirits. Even the younger ones might have been implicated by their families, or some other people. Therefore, the relationship between these people were also important clues. What did they all have in common?
As for Wan Li’s strange helper last night, Ruan Zhan felt it had to do with their investigation. Spirits were more sensitive to certain matters, and would know that he was here to investigate. They could also tell he was kindhearted, so they might want him to seek justice for them.
Now that he thought about it, they already had three uncertain leads…
First was the matter of the kiln facility. He planned on posing as a porcelain lover tomorrow to investigate this matter.
Second, the spirit that helped him today. If it truly had some injustice to address, it should come find him again. Therefore, he decided to wander the streets tomorrow night to see if there would be an encounter.
Third, he had to investigate how the twelve people were related. This was a little harder. Although they were all public figures, relationships between people were complicated affairs that were difficult for outsiders to understand. He could only start from where they came from and if they had any jobs in common.
At the same time, he had to be on guard against Si Ma Nan sending more ambushers. Although Si Ma Nan wouldn’t personally act against a minor character like himself, he might not even be able to win against that beauty in red. Therefore, he decided to use an invisibility talisman at the right moment while also being careful not to be followed by flying cranes. Most importantly, he needed to create a situation where Si Ma Nan couldn’t easily make a move against him. He finally understood something Ruan Zhan often said: when the enemy is stronger, only wisdom and courage allows you to prevail. Stubbornly fighting head on in this situation was nothing more than idiocy.
Wan Li lay in bed planning for the next day. He only slept briefly right before dawn before immediately moving to that largest inn in town. The innkeeper of the small inn actually didn’t ask him to pay for his room. He spoke niceties, saying how he failed to keep his guests safe and allowed a thief to disturb him and so on. Yet Wan Li understood that he definitely got some money from that group of thugs. He didn’t bicker with him.
He walked openly on the streets, not caring about how his bruised face and exposed cuts made passersby stare in curiosity and shock. He asked about porcelain here and there, and before noon the entire town knew there was a foreign reporter here to do a special piece on the source of porcelain. Furthermore, this was a very enthusiastic person, so many smaller workshops sought him out to introduce their wares, hoping he could promote them slightly in his report. That would be very advantageous to their business.
He had already moved into the largest inn in the morning. The room next to Xiao Xia’s happened to be open, so that’s where he stayed. After exerting himself in town that morning, he had already exceeded his desired results by the afternoon.
He had become famous in town. There would be countless eyes on him daily. Si Ma Nan could no longer easily send some hired thugs. He wanted to find out about the kiln facility and now he had a group of people taking the initiative to provide clues. Although they didn’t do so directly, he could ask in roundabout methods without any conscious effort. He wanted to know the status of those people trapped in the new town.
Asking about this could also give him so more clues.
If Ruan Zhan’s analysis was correct, Si Ma Nan was not colluding with the higher-ups of Hongqing Town. In fact, they might even be on opposite sides.
Si Ma Nan wanted to use the resentful spirits, which meant he had to fulfill their desires for revenge. If the creation of so many resentful spirits had to do with some matter those town leaders covered up, then they would definitely be the main targets for revenge. This was clear from the fact that the majority of the trapped people were officials.
This meant that they definitely hadn’t wanted those resentful spirits to be released! Therefore, despite Wan Li having to do many things secretly, Si Ma Nan had to remain even more hidden.
If someone really wanted to verify his identity as a reporter, they temporarily wouldn’t be able to discover anything. This was because despite his identity and badge being fake, he truly had the title of a commissioned reporter. It was a last minute arrangement through a friend. If someone truly traced it back to the news agency, that impressive friend of his would help keep things suppressed for a while.
He couldn’t help but smile as he thought of these things. His moves this morning had truly given him the initiative. Now, Si Ma Nan didn’t dare deal with him openly. This meant he could be at ease while he investigated things.
If Si Ma Nan sent some ferocious spirits at night, he could use the invisibility talisman to make himself difficult to find. His biggest problem now was to swiftly figure out the situation here and provide Ruan Zhan and Xiao Xia clues as soon as possible. He also had to muddy the waters in this town, as well as find someone called Mister Long.
He was the one who came up with an auspicious name for the town, and had personally selected the site for the new town. It was said he was a very knowledgeable hermit, but few people had actually seen his true appearance. Even less people knew where he lived, which strongly aroused Wan Li’s interest.
Who was he? Was he involved in this matter? He didn’t have time to think about this at the moment. The amount of visitors he received at the inn lasted throughout the day and even into the night. He gathered a large amount of information before filtering for the most useful.
“These youngsters!” Si Ma Nan stood in front of the window with a dark expression. He was still in the luxury suite of that five-star hotel. Hong Hao Hao sat sideways on the sofa behind him. Sensing his extreme displeasure, she didn’t dare interrupt. She had just reported Hongqing Town’s situation to Si Ma Nan. Their schemes against Wan Li could be said to have utterly failed. They failed to steal the bloodwood sword and the other objects, failed to truly hurt Wan Li, and he had even cut off their means to repeat their actions.
Si Ma Nan had been the one to come up with this plan. However, she was the one who made the trip so she was very scared he would vent his anger on her.
“Apart from our first exchange, I have never underestimated them. In fact, I even overestimate them a little every time. However, their potential seems to be limitless. They are always even more impressive that I expect.” Si Ma Nan continued speaking. “Hao Hao, say, have I grown old?”
Since he asked, Hong Hao Hao didn’t dare keep silent. Only after hesitating a while did she say, “Didn’t you say…only these types of opponents are interesting? Isn’t it…more fun for you this way?” After speaking, she snuck a glance at his reaction. However, he stood with his back towards her and didn’t move at all.
“You aren’t wrong.” Si Ma Nan’s tone was even and emotionless. “However, there is a saying that nurturing a tiger invites calamity. Once that youngster surnamed Ruan grows into his powers and the youngster surnamed Wan learns to cooperate even more closely with him, the one to die might be me. Heh, to think I might actually die to them.”
“No, you won’t die. No one is stronger than you are. You will definitely crush those two youngsters.” Hong Hao Hao hurriedly said.
Her tone was extremely sincere. Without Si Ma Nan, she wouldn’t exist in this world, and she greedily loved this world’s darkness and bustle. She was also afraid of this man. Although he was the best lover when he was gentle, his heart was like a bottomless hole that couldn’t be clearly seen. At times, fierce currents would well up that were extremely horrifying.
“Relax, I won’t die. I won’t allow Ruan Zhan to grow beyond my control. Die to them? Hmph, I was just speaking randomly. Did you really believe it!?” Si Ma Nan laughed arrogantly, finally showing some emotion in his tone. This also made Hong Hao Hao let out a breath in relief.
“Tomorrow, I will personally go to Hongqing Town.” Si Ma Nan decided.
Looking at the lights and traffic outside, he was suddenly a little vacant. Was life just that beautiful? He didn’t know. He only wanted to know what eternal life felt like, so he had to obtain it. Furthermore, even if he were to die, only Ah Bai was worthy of taking his life!