Book 7 Chapter 3: Ghostbusters

Ruan Zhan subconsciously leaned closer.

There wasn’t the slightest odor of decay in the coffin, as if it had been empty the entire time. He slowly felt around but didn’t find any invisible objects. However, when his hand reached the upper portion of the coffin, something seemed to bite him!

Lifting his hand, fresh blood trickled from his fingers.

No, something was there!

Ruan Zhan once again reached over, this time exerting more strength since he was probing. He felt a fierce pain and saw a large gash on his palm. However, he endured it without moving, watching as his blood trickled along the seemingly empty coffin before slowly forming an arc, just like…just like a blade!

He judged the location of the hilt and carefully reached over. His blood dripped along the coffin as his palm finally grasped the invisible yet corporeal object. It was a flattened oval that fit snugly in his palm. The texture was hard and smooth, ice cold and glossy. Using a bit of strength, he immediately lifted the invisible blade!

There was a loud rumble of thunder and the sky started pouring large droplets of rain!

Ruan Zhan stood in the pit holding the invisible blade, watching as the rain landed upon it like he was holding a bat made of water droplets!

The blade wasn’t actually invisible. It had been crafted using transparent crystal. It was a foot long, sharp and gave off a spiritual, supernatural beauty. Because the crystal was abnormal pure, the blade couldn’t be seen with the naked eye. It was only due to his blood flying along its grooves that allowed Ruan Zhan to notice its existence.

He immediately understood that the blade was what that unseen person had given his father in the red vision. But where had his father gone? Had his corpse been stolen after death, or was he really still alive? What was his purpose? Had he left the blade behind for him, or was it inadvertently lost? Why hadn’t he found this strange blade on his father’s corpse back then?

The rain grew heavier and heavier but Ruan Zhan seemed not to feel it as he stood unmoving. After a while, he dipped his index finger in the blood from his palm and lightly drew a symbol on the blade.

The rain diluted the blood, leaving only a faint pink trace upon the blade. Yet that was enough. With this symbol, the blade remained invisible to others, but he could see it at all times.

This revelation spell was something his father had taught him. This made him suddenly feel that his father had long foreseen everything, and had prepared things for him ahead of time!

He walked to the front of the coffin and continued feeling around. He figured there couldn’t be a blade without a scabbard. As expected, he soon found another hard object in the seams. He drew the same revelation spell upon it before putting the two together.

Since the dagger was left for him, it would definitely be of use. He had to keep it properly, just like the other three treasures his father had passed on to him.

Enduring the pain from his palm, Ruan Zhan filled up the empty grave once again before walking down the mountain in the rain. He returned again during the next day and searched the ground inch by inch, trying to find any traces.

He spent half a month like this, so the townsfolk started gossiping about him again. His father’s death back then had already been a mystery to them. Although the police had declared it a natural death, and Ruan Zhan had an alibi and no motive, the superstitious folks still felt Ruan Zhan was very suspicious.

They said: such a good person started looking off ever since he adopted that son who seemed to have crawled out from the grave. That Ruan Zhan kid might very well have killed his father using some fiendish magic. Look at him, with that sinister, scary face. He’s definitely nothing good. Also, also, that weirdo has been frequenting the cemetery in the rear mountain recently. Who knows what new evil he is planning to commit. Hopefully he’s not planning on spreading calamity…

Ruan Zhan was already used to such malicious theories. Humans always suspected, shunned, feared, slandered, and harmed those who were different. Even when those differences were usually minor and harmless.

Yet ever since he was suspected of killing his own father, he had learned to put on a false front. After dealing with his father’s funeral, he had already slowly started to change after returning to school. He was still cold, but no longer as prickly and ready to attack at any moment. Although he still didn’t interact with strangers, his gaze was no longer frightening and he no longer acted antisocial.

Then, after graduating from university, he roamed from city to city before finally settling down at the Nocturnal Revenant bar. He hoped to rest there, hidden and unnoticed, until he died. He started acting more deeply, putting on a mask of gentle, scholarly elegance over his cold detachment.

Then, Wan Li once again appeared in his life, bringing with him the greatest gift: Xiao Xia. He had guarded himself against all sorts of dangerous, beautiful women, and hadn’t taken that silly little girl seriously at all. Yet it was her who easily tore off his mask, melted the ice around his heart and barged into his innermost being, refusing to leave!

What should he do?

Ruan Zhan shook his head helplessly, diluting Xiao Xia’s image from his mind. Then, he focused on the task at hand.

He had already searched around his father’s grave for half a month. Dragging his still unrecovered body, he had cast enhanced sight and smell on himself, making him especially sensitive to the blood, various strange smells and marks in the dirt.

However, he obtained nothing. His father seemed to have vanished into thin air without a trace. Not even a blade of grass was out of place. This made him more and more certain nothing violent had happened here. If his father hadn’t left by himself, the grave robber was able to levitate object.

If his father weren’t dead, why had he been able to confirm his father’s passing back then. Why had the corpse been discolored? He had been buried in the earth for over a decade. What sort of breath extension art could be so powerful?

If someone had dug up the grave and moved the corpse, what would be the purpose? It must have been someone very powerful. Levitation without leaving any traces wasn’t something an ordinary person could accomplish.

For the sake of unravelling this mystery, he had to make some arrangements.

He had confirmed it wouldn’t help much to investigate his hometown. Now, he would go back to the city and investigate anyone and anything involved with Daoist arts. For example, places where strange things had occurred, and people who had helped resolve those things.  Were there any unusual cases of missing people, or unexpected corpses? He had sealed off his abilities in the past, unwilling to get involved with supernatural affairs. Because of Xiao Xia, he had already been introduced to that world again. Now, he would take the initiative to fully plunge into it. Only then could he find clues within the masses.

This method was very clumsy, like fishing for a needle in the ocean. However, this was the method when there were no methods. He believed there weren’t actually that many who could resolve supernatural cases in the world. Thus, he had a chance to unravel the secrets behind his father’s death, as well as a chance to find that unseen person!

It’s just that he would see Xiao Xia if he returned. How was he supposed to face her?

As he was hesitating, uncertain what to do, thousands of miles away his bar had already reopened. Business was even better than back when he was running it. “Ruan Zhan, Boss Ruan, is my older cousin.” Bao Da Tong’s face held a lively and likeable smile as he handed out business cards to the large group of female customers. “This is the new company I’ve just started. You beauties should drop by when you have the time.”

“Hey, there’s actually such a company? It’s rather novel.” A sexy girl wearing revealing clothing laughed delicately.

Bao Da Tong looked at the girl and placed his index finger on his chin in an unnecessary yet trendy pose. “Life, is a game of chess. If it’s smooth sailing, there’s naturally no need for such services. Yet what if there’s a tribulation? No need to wear yourself out, just leave it to me. My role is the hero saving the damsel in distress.”

“You have what it takes?” The hottie gave him a sidelong glance.

“You’ll know if you try it out.” Bao Da Tong gave a flirtatious wink. “This is actually our family’s specialty. I dare say no one is more capable than I am in this field.”

“It’s probably not cheap, right?” The hottie continued asking.

“Don’t bring up money. That would be harmful to relationships.” Bao Da Tong grinned generously towards the surrounding female customers, revealing the striking, very shota, very cute little canine tooth that made his smile seem even more dazzling in contrast to his dark skin. “All I ask for is a worker’s wage and transportation costs.”

After he spoke, the female customers continued to prattle off questions while Bao Datong answered each one good-naturedly. Wan Li who was sitting in the corner was infuriated.

“That shameless fellow. He actually pretended to be Ah Zhan’s younger cousin!” He spoke as he picked up a forgotten business card on the table.

The card was black with a beautiful silver patterned border. It said: Nocturnal Revenant Occult Company, General Manager Bao Da Tong. Beneath it was the bar’s address and phone number. The reverse side listed the business’s various specialties. Densely packed words included things like fortunetelling, astrology, fengshui reading, exorcism…

“He even had to choose such a vulgar design for a business card.”

Xiao Xia patted Wan Li’s hand. “Forget it, forget it. Why are you always at odds with him. But he’s really something, really helping himself to things. He even used the Nocturnal Revenant in his company name.”

“What company? It’s just him, a single person. He’s using this place’s address and phone number. Clearly a professional swindler.”

Xiao Xia glanced at Wan Li, not understanding why the amiable person didn’t get along with Bao Da Tong. In her opinion, if it wasn’t some past conflict, then they were definitely of clashing zodiacs!

“It’s now two people, you know.” Xiao Xia watched Bao Da Tong happily chatting up a storm with the female customers as she leaned against his shoulder.

Her recovery seemed to proceed slowly. She felt completely exhausted and would get tired after sitting for a while.

“What, you agreed?” Wan Li almost stood up, but felt Xiao Xia was leaning on him for support and hurriedly sat steady again. “You’re such a troublesome lass. Why are you going along with his madness?”

“That’s not it. Bao Da Tong has some true skills after all. I always dragged you and Ruan Zhan down whenever I encountered things previously. Ruan Zhan isn’t willing to teach me, so I wanted to learn a thing or two from him! Besides, it’s also good to make some extra money. Bao Da Tong said I just need to go on jobs with him. I don’t need to do anything and he’ll give me thirty percent of the earnings. Hehe, I’m gonna strike it rich.”

“You really think he can make any money?”

“Absolutely.” Xiao Xia straightened up and said very seriously. “People nowadays believe in dangers, and weird things are also abound. Besides, don’t you see how good he is at PR?”

Wan Li flared his nostrils and didn’t speak.

Although he didn’t like Bao Da Tong, he had to admit the guy was very good a interacting with people. In the past those women mostly came for Ruan Zhan, while a part of them came for Liu Tie and Ni Yang, those two youngsters. The three guys were all relatively “proper”, especially Ruan Zhan. He treated everyone in the same lukewarm way. Although this added to his charm, it truly didn’t help develop much business.

Of the women who frequented bars, a considerable amount were there to pick up guys. Yet another considerable portion just wanted to have fun. If they couldn’t get wasted, play around and laugh freely, what was the point?

Although Bao Da Tong didn’t provide special services, he was good with words and was also attentive and cute. His words seemed to be coated in a layer of honey and attracted a large crowd from the day the bar reopened. Although the average age of the clientele had decreased, the profits had actually increased.

What would Ruan Zhan say when he got back and saw all this? He would probably be just as helpless as himself.

Wan Li thought helplessly.

He hadn’t wanted to entertain Bao Da Tong. Yet since Ruan Zhan had to deal with the aftermath of Hongqing Town and make a trip back home to verify Si Ma Nan’s words, Wan Li was forced to deal with this annoying fellow.

He hadn’t like the cheery Bao Da Tong to begin with, and had now found out he was rather shameless. Xiao Xia’s shamelessness paled in comparison, because his skin was much thicker!

When he heard Bao Da Tong intended to live here for a while, he had refused without any pretense. Who would have thought Bao Da Tong would immediately bring up the agreement between his dad and Ruan Zhan’s.

I will help your son once and you will help my son once!

Because of that promise, Uncle Bao had saved Ruan Zhan’s life many years ago. Now, Bao Da Tong’s condition was that he wanted to start a ghostbusting company in the city. Once his company became successful, the agreement would be considered fulfilled.

A successful business! It sounded all well and good! However, this was an unverifiable request. What counted as a “successful business”? And if his business never took off, would Ruan Zhan have to put up with Bao Da Tong for the rest of his life? Uncle Bao really wasn’t losing out on this deal. He spent one day saving his friend’s son from mortal danger. In exchange, he sent his own son off to someone’s home for an indeterminate period of time!

My dad not only kept his promise, but he also saved you as well!

Those were the words Bao Da Tong had tossed at Wan Li, almost making him ram into the wall on the spot in anger. That had really become a sore spot now that Bao Da Tong was settling accounts. If he had known, he might as well have rather died back then!

Under the circumstances, he wasn’t able to prevent Bao Da Tong from moving into Ruan Zhan’s territory. The latter even energetically established a ghostbusting company just like that, although it was called the Occult Company or whatever!

“Let me tell you guys, I’ve already arranged to go swimming with that hottie this weekend.” Bao Da Tong walked over with a grin, having handed over the group of women to Liu Tie and Ni Yang.

“Didn’t you say you were a cultivator?” Wan Li said sarcastically. “You said you left seclusion to experience the world, but are still a disciple of Daoism. Aren’t you violating sect rules by wantonly picking up chicks!?”

“That’s where you’re mistaken.” Bao Da Tong sat down next to Xiao Xia. “I cultivate both water and fire, and don’t need to remain abstinent. Now that you mention it, this sect of mine is truly humane.”

He spoke so earnestly that Xiao Xia couldn’t help but laugh. 

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