“Let me go, I never did anything bad, not of my own volition.” In a panic, Hong Hao Hao pleaded.
She knew very well that despite Ruan Zhan’s heavy injuries and almost empty spirit power, she was still no match for him. Therefore, she could only beg. “As long as you let me go, I will agree to any condition. Or I could also be your slave. See, I have the ability to make you…” Instinctively, she tried to use her feminine charm for a chance to escape.
Ruan Zhan shook his head helplessly.
He wanted to let her go. Having seen too many tragedies this night, he didn’t want to eradicate everyone. However, if Hong Hao Hao wasn’t dealt with properly, she might ferment into an even bigger disaster once she recovered.
If Si Ma Nan could be called rational and purposeful, Hong Hao Hao’s capricious nature was even more dangerous. The skills she learned from Si Ma Nan were still immature. Once she developed them slightly, who knew what suffering the world would face!
“I won’t make things difficult for you. Go back to the place you belong.” Ruan Zhan said sympathetically. “Wouldn’t it be good to reincarnate? Starting a new life is better than stealing other bodies, hiding in the shadows and living in fear.”
“I don’t want to!”
“You no longer belong to the world of the living. It is useless to insist. Listen to me, go back!”
“No! You don’t understand anything!” Hong Hao Hao’s eyes bulged either in anger or fear. “I’ve sinned, and will be a pig-dog in the next life. I’m so beautiful, I definitely don’t want to end up like that!”
“Don’t force me!”
“It’s you who shouldn’t force me!” Hong Hao Hao saw Ruan Zhan had no intention of negotiating. In desperation, she fished out a talisman from her robes. “This is a lifelock talisman. If you don’t let me go, I will tear it. At that time, your sweetheart will also get torn in half!”
Ruan Zhan frowned.
One truly shouldn’t show benevolence to an enemy. His consideration had ended up giving the other side a means to threaten him. He also hadn’t expected Hong Hao Hao to have prepared a chip for her escape while everyone had been distracted by Ah Bai’s matters.
“So what if I let you go? I would still find you soon after, and won’t be so polite the next time.” Ruan Zhan spoke coldly, secretly looking for an opportunity to neutralize the talisman.
“I don’t care about any of that right now!” “Hong Hao Hao was too anxious, completely going for broke. “I’ll count to three. If you don’t agree, I will immediately tear this talisman apart and everyone loses!”
Yet before she could start counting and before Ruan Zhan made his position known, there was the rumbling of an engine from the distance.
Moments before dawn, in an empty city no one could enter, how could there be an engine? Furthermore, it was getting closer and closer, coming straight towards them. Only after it got closer could they tell it was the sound of a vehicle!
Ruan Zhan and Hong Hao Hao were both rather startled. Since they were restricting each other, neither of them could move. Only when a light appeared across the plaza did they see the thing charging over was a motorcycle.
The bright headlights in front of the bike were like daggers that cleaved the darkness as it swiftly approached.
It was Wan Li!
Although it was impossible to discern the rider’s face, his identity could be gleaned by the figure. Hong Hao Hao was shocked. She hadn’t expected him to survive all those thugs. Ruan Zhan was overjoyed at seeing him alive.
In a blink of an eye, the bike reached the edge of the plaza. Hong Hao Hao and Ruan Zhan had differing feelings, but both of them assumed Wan Li would stop. However, the reality was beyond their expectations. Instead of slowing down, Wan Li increased his speed. He seemed to be riding an unbridled horse, charging into the deadlock like lightning.
“Ah Zhan, catch!” In the dark, a gust of wind swept over and Ruan Zhan reached out without hesitation.
Wan Li was someone he trusted with his life. Even if he had thrown a bomb about to explode, Ruan Zhan would catch it without hesitation. This was the trust between friends. As he caught the thrown bloodwood sword, Wan Li mercilessly rammed into Hong Hao Hao!
Hong Hao Hao never expected a mild person like Wan Li would use such a barbaric method. She was frozen for a moment before being sent flying.
She let out a long scream. Although the body wasn’t hers and she hadn’t merged her soul with it as completely as Si Ma Nan had with his, she was still able to feel pain. While the body was suspended in the air, she instinctively shot her soul out.
However, Wan Li had rammed her with extreme prejudice, and the impact was extremely large with plenty of inertia. Therefore, when her soul left, it was still sent flying, slamming into the distant tower before plummeting straight down. As soon as she landed, she was met with Ruan Zhan who had taken a step and returned. Even worse, he was holding the bloodwood sword that all spirits fears, pointing it straight between her brows!
Creak….the bike’s breaks screeched, followed by the sound of her body falling into the lake. Those sound of those hungry ghosts feasting in the water rang out, and that lifelock talisman also drifted down into the bushes like a scrap of paper.
“Don’t kill me!” Hong Hao Hao shrieked and prostrated herself.
“I warned you.” Ruan Zhan’s gaze was cold like a blade. “You shouldn’t have used Xiao Xia to threaten me!”
“Please spare me, I’ll never dare do it again!” Hong Hao Hao crawled over, hugging Ruan Zhan’s legs. “I finally managed to resurrect. I just want to live.”
“For you to live, you must steal the lives of others. How can there be such logic under the heavens?!” Ruan Zhan looked at the grey figure wrapped around his legs. “You have harmed too many. I shouldn’t spare you, but since you were merely Si Ma Nan’s accomplice, I will give you a chance as long as you obediently return to the place you belong!”
Hong Hao Hao wept in despair, winding tighter around his shins. Part of her permeated into his feet. She thought Ruan Zhan wouldn’t notice, but the tip of the bloodwood sword being slowly lowered reminded her that her scheme had no chance of succeeding.
This man wouldn’t be frightened, seduced, moved and even less so ambushed. She had no method of escape!
The bloodwood sword descended another inch. It suddenly bloomed with red light as its body trembled in excitement, keening inaudibly to human ears. Hong Hao Hao immediately released Ruan Zhan’s legs, shrinking into the corner like a startled snake, shivering uncontrollably.
How ugly! Who said that women with fine features and excellent figures were definitely beautiful? The woman before him clung to worldly delights, and was too cowardly to accept her fate. She was selfish, callous, vain, cruel and foolish. How could she possibly find true love?
“Zuo De, please get the metal banner in the windowless room for me!” Ruan Zhan was still looking at Hong Hao Hao but he knew Zuo De had been observing things from upstairs, and thus instructed loudly.
There was no response, but after some time the swish of an object falling could be heard overhead. Ruan Zhan caught it without even looking. “I’ll let you choose. Option A: annihilation. Option B: enter the banner and wait for me to send you back!”
Hong Hao Hao looked at the expressionless Ruan Zhan, the pleading and fear in her eyes slowly turning into resentful hatred. “I swear I will get revenge. You will end up in a similar state to mine, or even worse! I swear it!”
“I see, so you’re choosing option B.” Ruan Zhan shook his hand as he spoke and silently chanted a spell. The small banner grew to the size of a human. “Come in!”
A strong suction came from the tattered banner. It wasn’t something Hong Hao Hao could resist in her spirit form. Although she still had some spirit power left and was struggling desperately, she couldn’t avoid being sucked in, leaving deep grooves with her fingers in the ground and an earsplitting screech.
Her head lingered unwillingly above the banner for a moment. “I hate you! I swear I will make you die an ugly death!” She said viciously before disappearing.
Ruan Zhan shook his head. Who would have thought she would be less gracious than the deranged Si Ma Nan? Si Ma Nan at least felt some remorse before death due to the hint of love in his heart. He at least realized what he had missed due to his obsession. However, Hong Hao Hao didn’t even let herself off!
After retrieving the tattered banner, Ruan Zhan went to undo the seal on Xiao Xia. Since she had no spirit power, she had fallen unconscious after being sealed for too long. But that didn’t matter anymore. Everything was over apart from dealing with the aftermath. She was safe. Everyone was safe.
From the sky, it seemed there was still some time until daybreak. He gently held Xiao Xia in his arms and waited for Wan Li to come over from the plaza.
“Is this still useful?” Wan Li raised the lifelock talisman in his hand.
“The seal has been removed. That’s just a piece of scrap.”
“So how is she?” Wan Li gazed at Xiao Xia’s face, feeling the urge to pull her into his own arms. Yet seeing her sleeping deeply, he kept himself still.
“She’s just unconscious, and will wake up soon.”
“But it seems she must have been starving. It’s only been a few days, but her chin is all sharp now.” Wan Li said, opening a bottle of water from his backpack and handing it to Ruan Zhan.
He drank it in one go.
Wan Li had known the people trapped here must be hungry and thirsty. Especially Ruan Zhan, who probably also lost a lot of blood. Therefore, he had considerately prepared rations! However, Ruan Zhan only drank the water and refused the food.
“What’s wrong with you?” Wan Li looked at Ruan Zhan. His expression was mocking but there was concern in his gaze. “From your appearance, you definitely took a beating.”
“Stop worrying about me. How are you doing?”
“Oh, me?” Wan Li shrugged, “I was almost sexually assaulted by Hong Hao Hao. She stripped me down to just my underwear. Oh, and a pair of socks.” He said in self-mockery, and then recounted his experiences.
Ruan Zhan sighed. “A shame they got a person like Master Long involved.”
“That’s right. He was a good man who took a wrong step in life. It’s just that when you err, even if you repent right away, there will be a price to pay. But the price Master Long paid was far too high.” Wan Li was also a little sad.
“Si Ma Nan was the same way, though he strayed a little too far.” Ruan Zhan said as he looked over at Ah Bai.
Only then did Wan Li notice Ah Bai kneeling nearby. She had been unmoving while praying, completely ignoring her surroundings like a sculpture. She wasn’t noticeable without a careful look.
“Si Ma Nan…is dead?” Wan Li asked.
He had actually had a premonition because while he was in the old town, he had realized it was suddenly filled with life. It was still the middle of the night and no one had come outside, but the dead-like town suddenly had the presence of life. There were lights and people coughing. That was when he knew Ruan Zhan must have been victorious in the new town.
Therefore, he threatened those thugs to quickly leave and snatched their fastest motorcycle from them before rushing to the new town. He thought Ruan Zhan might need help dealing with the aftermath, and might also need the bloodwood sword.
After arriving, he hadn’t seen any trace of Si Ma Nan. Therefore, he understood that Si Ma Nan must have died!
Ruan Zhan didn’t know how to answer Wan Li and could only recount the whole event. Wan Li felt terrible upon hearing it. Ah Bai was too pitiful. She had never done anything bad in her life, protecting and helping others the whole time. Why did she get such an ending?
“What are you going to do?” He asked.
Ruan Zhan mulled it over for a bit. “Including Xiao Xia, twelve people came but only four survived. Xiao Xia, Zuo De, Reporter Ma, and Mayor Mao Fu. How should this incident be explained? Even without us, I believe Zuo De and Reporter Ma won’t tell anyone about this. They will come up with an explanation themselves, no need for us to deal with the aftermath. Before long, there will be another unresolved case in Hongqing Town. Since Mao Fu was pretending to be insane, he must be one of the masterminds behind this matter. If we use Master Long’s evidence to bring those responsible back then to court, he will definitely be included. Also, if this matter finally results in justice being served, those resentful spirits will also be at peace. Although the Grand Fengshui Formation would expel them from the world of the living regardless, I still hope to get justice for them.”
“Don’t worry, the evidence Master Long gave me is sufficient for those bastards to get the death penalty a hundred times.” Wan Li said indignantly.
“Good. I guess this is what’s meant by justice being inevitable!” Ruan Zhan thought of Ah Bai and his heart twisted again. “What we have to do is get rid of the remaining evil spirits in the lake, erase all our traces and take Ah Bai and Hong Hao Hao where they need to go. Then you will bring Xiao Xia back. I need to leave for a period of time.”
“To recuperate? Recuperating can be done anywhere. Let’s go to our city’s public hospital. The nurses there are prettier.” Wan Li deliberately joked, lightening the somber atmosphere.
“Flesh wounds. They’ll get better without any recuperation.” Ruan Zhan shook his head and hesitated, “It’s about my past and my father. I have to look into it. I can’t tell you yet. Believe me, it’s not that I don’t trust you. It’s just that the less you know, the better.”
“Why so mysterious?” Wan Li frowned, but when he saw Ruan Zhan’s determined expression and serious appearance, he decided not to ask for now. He can do so slowly in the future.
“Fine, we can do as you say. I forgot to tell you, Master Long left you a book. I can’t understand it. Probably imparting some things to you. The notebook he left me was the evidence of the crimes committed back then. I buried everything in the woods outside the town. Let’s go dig them up once we’re done here. Then, you go handle your matters while I go bring the masterminds to justice through ordinary channels. Xiao Xia will end up being busy. She’s a lawyer after all, though she’s not really qualified.”
Ruan Zhan nodded, “That is for the best. However, what did Mayor Yuan do back then that turned so many good people into resentful spirits?”