Wan Li felt something was strange the moment he entered the old town.
The entire town was completely still in the middle of the day. Not a single person on the streets, no smoke from the chimneys, no sounds of animals. It was like a city of the dead.
He heard Hong Hao Hao mention something called the nightmare spell while he was transformed into a rock by Master Long. He had wondered what the spell would look like the entire way here. Now he knew. The nightmare spell kept the entire town in a state of heavy slumber.
Step, step, step…
The urgent footsteps were his own. However, he truly wasn’t used to such a silent environment. It made him feel a little flustered, as if someone was following behind him. People were social animals after all. Especially someone who was used to living in a large city like him. Wandering the empty streets by himself now naturally made him feel uneasy and anxious.
Wan Li endured the discomfort and walked along the main street of the town. The doors and windows were tightly shut and not a single store was open. As expected, everyone was asleep. If it weren’t for the noon sun hanging overhead, he might assume he was in a dream.
He stood in the middle of the street and pondered for a while before deciding to take go back to his inn for a look. Under normal circumstances, even if everywhere else was closed, the police station, hospitals and inns would remain open. The inn he stayed in was the largest one in Hongqing Town. Although it was a little far from the town hospital, it was right across from the police station. Therefore, he could enter these two places and check out the situation.
First was the police station.
The town’s houses were all shut. Only the police station’s doors were wide open. The wind blew against the large doors, making them knock against the wall, making a light clanging sound. In the deathly silence, it was especially ear-piercing. Each ring seemed to strike against his heart.
However, despite the open doors of the police station, there were no signs of life. From the distance, it made Wan Li feel that place wasn’t a building. It seemed to be a trap, filled with malice and allure.
He gritted his teeth and walked inside vigilantly. He realized there wasn’t anyone in the entire police station. The only thing accompanying him was his echoing footsteps in the empty room.
What was going on here? Did the police get kidnapped or had Si Ma Nan done something again? Had he used his influence to relocate the police on duty? Or were the townsfolk not asleep? Was the town actually empty?
Thinking of this, he immediately ran across the street to the inn.
There were no obstructions on the road, making it impossible for Wan Li to hide as he crossed. He didn’t understand why he felt the need to hide, or what he was supposed to be hiding from. He just felt exceptionally tense due to the isolation. It felt like a dagger against his back, as if someone was spying on him.
His entire body was tense. He first tightened the straps of the fishing rod case on his back and gripped the baseball bat he was using as a weapon. Then, he slowly inched towards the inn’s doors and peeped inside.
There was usually a bellboy at the door, but he was obviously absent at this moment. There was no one in the lobby either.
Wan Li steadied his mind and entered through the doors.
The doors closed behind him. Although this was usually the case, this time felt especially chilling. Wan Li did his best to ignore his unease and walked towards the reception desk.
Behind it was the first person Wan Li had seen since entering the old town. To be precise, there were two. The scene gave him an indescribable feeling. He felt a little glad, but also a little nervous. There was a male and a female worker sitting in their seats. Their heads were lowered seemingly in sleep. However, since he couldn’t hear them breathing, Wan Li couldn’t be sure.
He made his way behind the counter. Since he didn’t know the details of the nightmare spell, he didn’t dare touch them. He merely bent over to listen carefully. Once he heard their faint breathing, he let out a breath.
This meant that the town wasn’t empty and the townsfolk hadn’t all been killed. They were really just asleep. Once Si Ma Nan released the spell or once Ruan Zhan killed him, they would wake up! This was probably the case for everyone else as well.
After realizing this, Wan Li started digging in the drawers beneath the counter to see if he could find the master key for the rooms. No matter how much noise he made during this process, whether it was rifling through drawers, the clanking of keys or inadvertently knocking over a chair, the two staff members did not get woken up. This made Wan Li feel they might as well be dead if it weren’t for the breathing.
Death was the most primitive form of sleep!
He took the master key and searched room by room. Due to the thick carpet on the inn’s floors, his piercing footsteps no longer followed him. However, he realized that the pattering sound still remained, though he couldn’t tell if it was his beating heart or his mind playing tricks.
Inside the rooms, various people were asleep, and they slept exceptionally quietly. They didn’t even snore, let alone toss and turn. They breathed silently through their noses and their eyelids didn’t even flutter in the slightest.
This was too abnormal! What kind of dreams were they having? Was it all the same dream or was it different for everyone? What were they dreaming of? When people slept, their minds weren’t completely at rest. Every person dreams, and their eyeballs would move constantly during their dreams. Yet why did those under the influence of the nightmare spell seem like they were made of wax? Why did they show no signs of life apart from their breathing? Would they really wake up?
With these doubts, Wan Li carefully examined several people. He discovered they truly hadn’t died, but truly seemed as if they did. All the people in the rooms were like this, including Boss Sun.
What was he supposed to do? How was he to cooperate with Ruan Zhan? He had just tried earlier. This place was cut off from the outside world. He wanted to contact Ruan Zhan but he hadn’t responded. Wan Li knew that Ruan Zhan was probably battling Si Ma Nan at this moment. Therefore, he couldn’t distract him again.
But was he just to wait? Was this place also isolated, just like the new town? Perhaps he should find a car and go to a neighboring town for help?
No, he can’t. If he did, this situation would get exposed before Ruan Zhan could extricate himself. That would not be good for them. Since Ruan Zhan battled such a formidable foe by himself in the new town, Wan Li would have to face this difficult challenge in the old town by himself as well. These people were definitely being controlled. His task was much easier than Ruan Zhan’s. He just had to prevent the townsfolk from getting harmed. Then, he just had to disarm the ticking bomb beneath this calm surface.
Hong Hao Hao and her helpers were precisely the ticking bomb. She had been sent here by Si Ma Nan to set up a formation. Therefore, she was the one he had to deal with! But where had she hidden herself?
Wan Li pondered as he returned to the front desk to put the key back. Yet as he pulled open the drawer, an arm suddenly grabbed his wrist!
He jumped in fright, completely not expecting something like this to happen in a place where everyone was asleep. Looking up, he saw an unfamiliar man’s face!
He immediately reacted, trying to swing his bat to defend himself. However, he had forgotten he was in the narrow space behind the counter, and was unable to complete his swing. The bat bounced off the wall before he could fully raise it and another hand grabbed his left wrist at the same time!
He instinctively stepped back, forming a triangle with the two people holding onto his wrists. He forcefully swung the two of them forwards.
With a bang, the two people sprawled against the counter due to Wan Li’s brute strength. However, they maintained their death grips on Wan Li’s wrists, pulling him with them. Seeing this, Wan Li used the momentum and stomped at the side of the right person’s knee.
His stomp was vicious and accurate, making that person howl in pain and instinctively let go. With his right wrist freed, he swung a fist at the man pretending to be a female staff! Right as he made contact, he felt pain coming from the back of his head and crumpled unconscious to the floor!
Right before he passed out, he saw a red figure flash before him. “Hong Hao Hao!” Wan Li shouted as he awoke.
He opened his eyes and realized he was sitting in the lobby of the inn. Actually, he was completely tied to a chair and thrown in the middle of the lobby.
“Am I that wonderful? You’re still thinking of me even while unconscious?” A woman’s voice spoke, her tone both mocking and disdainful.
Wan Li didn’t need to look to know it was Hong Hao Hao. “No other woman looks as good in red.” He raised his head. As expected, Hong Hao Hao sat in the sofa across from him, her posture elegant and alluring.
His praise had been sincere.
This woman was unique. Her current body was no longer the previous absolute beauty, but was Zhang Xue who was missing an eye and an arm. However, Zhang Xue was also a beauty, and that innate disposition was still present. She was still as graceful, lithe and charming. She wore sunglasses to cover her flawed eye, and she kept her side turned to conceal the stiffness of her artificial arm. However, this getup and posture gave her a sort of mysterious appeal.
No wonder Si Ma Nan kept her by his side. Even if he didn’t love her, such a woman would exhibit a man’s greatest superiority.
“You’re quite the smooth talker. No wonder you’re a psychiatrist.” Hong Hao Hao really enjoyed Wan Li’s praise. “My ability to flatter women has nothing to do with my profession. Psychiatry is a serious field of study, please don’t get mixed up.” Wan Li tried to move but a wave of pain wracked his body, especially in the back of his head. The spreading stabs of pain made him involuntarily cry out. He recalled being struck heavily behind his head by someone before passing out. It seems that had been one of Hong Hao Hao’s people. He looked down and noticed he had been stripped of his clothing. The other party had benevolently left him his underpants and his socks. The pain he felt throughout his body was from the ropes wrapped around him.
The rope was made of some unknown material that was extremely coarse and covered in small barbs. It was like he was being pricked by countless small needles whenever he moved. He couldn’t help but curse quietly at the situation.
Seeing Wan Li’s appearance, Hong Hao Hao’s smile bloomed.
“Well this also works. I’ve been wanting to find you all this time without success. Who knew it would end up being so effortless.” Wan Li acted relaxed. Although the back of his head hurt whenever he turned his neck, he still observed his surroundings.
Apart from himself and Hong Hao Hao, there were seven or eight thuggish looking guys in the lobby of the inn. He recognized them as the ones who fought him in the small alley back then. The pitiful thief was also there. He had been the one disguised as the female staff member. There was a purple patch on the thief’s face from where Wan Li had struck him just now. He was still wearing the female uniform.
“You found me?” Hong Hao Hao laughed. “Imagine being able to say something like that. Looking for someone like shutting the door to beat the dog? And you’re even the dog in this case!”
“As long as the outcome is good, the process isn’t important. What matters is that I can now have a conversation with you.”
“A conversation is something had between equals. Where is your confidence coming from? This?” Hong Hao Hao smiled and raised the fishing rod case in her hands.
Wan Li’s expression changed.
That case contained the bloodwood sword. Ruan Zhan had left it so he could protect himself. That was a unique treasure of the Daoist world. It definitely couldn’t end up in the hands of those with malicious intent.
“You shouldn’t be surprised. You couldn’t even keep your clothes, let alone this treasure.” Hong Hao Hao was very satisfied with the surprise and anxiety on Wan Li’s face. She took a glance at Wan Li’s sturdy and youthful body that was filled with vigor. A trace of desire rose in her heart. She didn’t really want to kill him immediately, and wanted to hide him somewhere to raise as her pet.
Wasn’t she Si Ma Nan’s pet? Why couldn’t she have one of her own? Si Ma Nan had never treated her unfairly, but he had also never truly held her in his heart. Besides, he wasn’t fond of feminine charms and rarely wanted her. She was a grown woman after all. She should have a man like Wan Li accompanying her. What was wrong with that? But would Si Ma Nan forgive her after he found out? That person wouldn’t tolerate the slightest bit of betrayal. Those who betrayed him would die very tragically!
While Hong Hao Hao hesitated, Wan Li suddenly smiled. “I’ll be getting the bloodwood sword back later. It’s fine to leave it with you for now.”
“What if I destroy it?”
“You don’t dare. Si Ma Nan wants it. Do you think he would let you off if it gets harmed in the slightest?”
“Don’t think yourself clever!”
“Then how about we make a bet? If you dare destroy the sword, I will do whatever you say!” Wan Li smiled prettily but his gaze was filled with provocation.
His expression caused Hong Hao Hao to suddenly become enraged.
She violently opened the case and pulled out the bloodwood sword. Yet the moment her hand touched the hilt, it was like she was burned. She threw it to the floor with a shriek.
Wan Li’s heart twisted from distress. He wasn’t feeling distress over Hong Hao Hao’s injury, but rather from the sword which had been thrown on the ground. Yet he was afraid of Hong Hao Hao realizing his intentions and forcibly kept his face expressionless.
Hong Hao Hao had forgotten that despite having a body and being able to move around like a human, she was ultimately borrowing it from someone else. While the evil-repelling bloodwood sword couldn’t really do anything to someone that wasn’t purely a spirit body, it could still injure her.
Looking up, she saw that Wan Li was still smiling gleefully, making her even more angry.
Why couldn’t this man cherish her the way he cherished Yue Xiao Xia? Why did he have to look at her mockingly?
“You all, get over here. Break this sword into pieces for me!” She was a little flustered and exasperated, and yelled to the thugs around them.
Those people hesitated.
They didn’t know the bloodwood sword only harmed fiendish beings, and couldn’t do anything to humans. Since Zhang Xue was so afraid of the sword and those outsiders were fighting so desperately to obtain it, they assumed it was something harmful. No one dared step up in that moment.
“Get over here this instant, or none of you will have good outcomes!” Hong Hao Hao turned stern.
The people looked at each other. Finally, their leader gestured at two of them and they shuffled over.
Looking nervous, with their sleeves wrapped over their hands, the two gripped the sword on either end. They looked blankly at the rampaging beauty, not knowing what to do next. They also felt this sword was exceptionally hot to the touch.
“Why are you looking at me for?! Break it!” Hong Hao Hao was pale. After glaring at the sword for a while, she suddenly yelled out. Then, she took a step back as if a little afraid.
The two thugs looked at each other, and had no choice but to pull hard against the bloodwood sword!