As the saying goes: if you build it, they will come. Especially since the PR genius Bao Da Tong had been doing his best to promote the Occult Company!
In less than a week, Bao Da Tong had already taken the still recovering Xiao Xia on five cases. Two of them were fengshui readings, one astrological reading, one fortune-telling. The last one was supposedly an exorcism, but the client merely wanted to tie Bao Da Tong to the bed as a guardian angel.
Although these were small cases, it was an auspicious start for the company. Furthermore, with Bao Da Tong’s glib tongue, he actually received quite a considerable sum. Once Xiao Xia received her share, it was equivalent to half a month of her salary.
“Your profits a clearly unreasonable.” Xiao Xia stuffed the money into her pocket without standing on ceremony on one hand while criticizing Bao Da Tong’s immorality. “You’re making money too easily!”
“I had to cultivate for the past thir…no, past twenty years to achieve my current success.”
“Ha, stop pretending to be young!” Wan Li’s bulky frame was crammed between them, preventing Bao Da Tong from getting friendly with Xiao Xia. “You’ve already got one foot in the grave. You’ve cultivated for a couple centuries already, right?”
“Nonsense. I’m not even thirty yet. I’m still really, really young.”
“Right, I can tell from your mentality. I have no doubts about that at all.”
“You’re just jealous of how well I’m aging.”
“That’s right. I don’t possess your ability of plucking yin to replenish yang, and vice versa.”
“The Daoist absorption arts aren’t as you think. You practically…” Bao Da Tong said, before suddenly grinning and singing, “You’re a fool, acting cool!”
Wan Li sneered and was about to retort when he noticed with a shock that Xiao Xia was no longer beside him. Twisting around, he saw her standing several meters behind them, unmoving.
“What’s wrong? Are you feeling unwell again?” He walked over considerately, putting his hand on her forehead.
“She definitely thought you were too annoying.” Bao Da Tong insisted on bickering with Wan Li.
“I’m annoyed at the both of you! Bickering over the smallest things!” Xiao Xia glared at the two, pushing them away and walking towards the parked car. For the sake of convenience, Bao Da Tong was also “borrowing” Ruan Zhan’s car. However, his driving was awful so Wan Li didn’t feel at ease letting Xiao Xia go along with him by herself.
“Men are so immature! Hmph!”
The two’s ages added up to over sixty already yet they were still like children. There wasn’t a moment of peace, and her head hurt from all the bickering. She didn’t understand what was going on. Why was the kind Wan Li unable to tolerate Bao Da Tong, and why did Bao Da Tong insist on pissing him off? But since Wan Li didn’t feel at ease letting Xiao Xia go off with him alone, he insisted on joining them, resulting in a clamorous commute. Luckily, they still knew to restrain themselves in front of customers, or Xiao Xia would really feel like ramming into a wall.
At such times, she would recall Ruan Zhan’s calm elegance and his aloof yet prideful gaze. Whenever she thought of him, there would be an inexplicable chill in her heart. It felt comfortable, calming, and yet painful.
What was up with that? She understood her feelings for him, but why was there suddenly this strange feeling. It was especially sad, especially infuriating and especially sweet. She kept getting the feeling that something had happened, but couldn’t recall it. She got a splitting headache whenever she tried.
Xiao Xia’s phone rang. It was already evening, but since it was the summer, there were still many people out and about. They had to find a quieter place to park so the phone rang several times before she hurriedly picked up.
The number was unfamiliar so Xiao Xia knew it was for Bao Da Tong right away. The Occult Company’s landline was the Nocturnal Revenant’s, but it was using Xiao Xia’s number as the mobile number. Therefore, she was being harassed constantly by “business calls” these days. This made her decide to ask for fifty percent of the profits from Bao Da Tong moving forwards. She also planned on giving this phone to him and getting a new number for herself.
“Hello, this is the Nocturnal Revenant Occult Company.” Xiao Xia said in a “professional” manner.
“There’s a ghost…help me!” A woman’s terrified voice rang out. “There’s a female ghost…she keeps spying on me! Come quickly…”
The woman’s tone was rather alarmed and she seemed out of breath. It seemed to be blowing into Xiao Xia’s ear, making her hair stand on end. She hurriedly stuffed the phone into Bao Da Tong’s hand.
Bao Da Tong received it with a puzzled expression. After listening seriously for a few moments, his expression slowly turned solemn. “Miss, don’t be scared. I’ll be there immediately. Just stay there and don’t move, facing southeast. Don’t respond to anything, no matter what.”
“What happened?” Wan Li asked.
“I knew it couldn’t always be minor cases like fortune-telling.” Bao Da Tong didn’t seem nervous, and was a little excited instead. Seeing Wan Li open the door, he hurriedly said, “You coming or what? I’ll be taking Xiao Xia with me if not.”
“I’m coming. Why wouldn’t I?!” Wan Li considerately helped Xiao Xia into the passenger seat before getting into the driver’s seat. “Look how excited you are. I’m starting to wonder if you secretly sent over some mischief before showing up as the master to exorcise it to earn some ill-gotten profits.”
“Hey, now that you mention it, that’s not a bad idea.” Bao Da Tong said very seriously after getting into the backseat. “However, we would target the unscrupulously wealthy. Since they do all sorts of foul deeds, they cannot avoid a guilty conscience. We’d be stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. It’s an act of justice.”
“Are you calling yourself Robin Hood?”
Bao Da Tong chuckled and actually didn’t respond. Wan Li didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. It turns out even Bao Da Tong could feel embarrassed.
“Actually, you and I have similar jobs.” Bao Da Tong changed the topic. “You save people’s hearts. I save their souls.”
“You sound like a priest.”
“No, like a doctor.”
“I don’t care whether you’re a priest or a doctor.” Xiao Xia interrupted thoughtfully. “Regardless, if you’re going to cure things you should cure those beasts in human skin. Otherwise, not only will I stop working with you, I will even report you for swindling!”
“Woah, so vicious!”
“If he’s curing beasts, that would make him a vet!” Wan Li laughed and started the car.
No. 2, Dongxing Street was a small western-style building in the city’s cultural district. Those who lived in the cultural district were extremely wealthy and respectable. However, because the building across the street was undergoing renovations, the place seemed rather empty.
The person who opened the door was a young woman in her late twenties. She was extremely beautiful, but due to having suffered a fright, along with the unlit room and the angle of the light coming from the streetlamps, her skin looked pale and her face shadowy, severely diminishing her appeal. Despite this, Xiao Xia still immediately recognized her as a frequent customer of the nocturnal revenant, Miss Sun. She constantly tried to seduce Ruan Zhan, Liu Tie, Ni Yang and even Wan Li, leaving Xiao Xia with a deep impression.
“It’s that obviously insatiable woman!” Xiao Xia grumbled quietly to Wan Li.
“Miss Sun, right?” Bao Da Tong’s pleasant voice rang out, filled with cheer as usual. “Don’t be afraid. We will do our best to help you.” He squeezed inside as he spoke.
They had knocked hard on the door earlier, but no one had answered. Xiao Xia had thought something had happened and almost called the cops. Then Wan Li had noted that the person inside might have been frightened by something, and Bao Da Tong had clearly instructed her not to respond to anything. That might be why she wasn’t answering the door. Thus they had started shouting at the door instead of knocking, and also communicated via phone. Only then where they able to enter.
With a bang, the door slammed tightly shut behind Wan Li, who was the last one in. With the light outside being shut out, the building immediately became pitch black.
Xiao Xia’s heart tensed and she instinctively grabbed for Wan Li’s hand. However, she ended up grabbing a cold, rigid, female hand, startling her into immediately throwing it off. At the same time, an even louder scream rang out by Xiao Xia’s side, startling everyone.
“Miss Sun, did you see something?” Bao Da Tong asked.
“I…a female ghost…a female ghost grabbed my hand!”
You’re the damn female ghost!
Xiao Xia cursed her silently, only then realizing she had grabbed the wrong person in the dark. She hurriedly wiped her hand on Wan Li’s shirt as if afraid of being contaminated by some virus.
Bao Da Tong hiccuped, sounding like he wanted to laugh. However, his words were normally extremely pleasant and his tone seemed covered in honey. Therefore, it wasn’t clear whether or not he was laughing at someone.
“There isn’t any ghostly aura here. You mistakenly grabbed my assistant Miss Yue’s hand. It’s fine, don’t be scared.”
“Why don’t you turn on the lights?” Wan Li asked.
“I…did. But the power went out.”
“No worries, I’ll handle it.” Bao Da Tong said. Behind him came the sound of rustling cloth. Then, a beam of light illuminated the room.
“I came prepared.” He patted the large duffel bag he brought along, and took out another object that looked like a large compass.
He shone the flashlight around the place. Although it couldn’t light the entire place, it was still possible to see how large and luxurious the interior was. For a single woman to alone in such a place, her mind should be pretty stable and she probably wouldn’t be making a mountain out of a molehill.
“Where did you realize someone was spying on you?” He asked.
“Everywhere! A woman is constantly watching me!” Miss Sun trembled, moving closer to Bao Da Tong. “No matter where I am, she’s always watching me! I don’t care anymore, get me out of here quickly! I’m begging you! I want to leave this place!”
“No rush.” Bao Da Tong’s voice was very calming at this moment. “Then tell me, when was the first time you noticed the spying?”
Miss Sun thought for a moment. It was clear she felt braver now that there were more people. “Upstairs in my bedroom. That woman…that woman was watching me from the opposite building. She kept watching and watching, her eyes covered in blood. Then she smiled, smiled so widely…”
“Let’s go, we’ll take a look in your bedroom.” Bao Da Tong interrupted Miss Sun’s blabbering and led them up the stairs. Miss Sun hurried after him, followed by Xiao Xia and then Wan Li.
Perhaps due to fear of being watched, thick curtains hung over anywhere that looked outside. Along with the lack of power and only Bao Da Tong’s flashlight, Xiao Xia felt as if she were walking inside a tomb and was creeped out.
Walking into the bedroom, Bao Da Tong pulled the curtains open with a swish. This made Miss Sun suck in a breath of cold air and swiftly crouch on the floor. “Don’t open the curtains, she’s right across, she will see me! She will see me! Close it, close it!”
“Don’t worry, she can only see me.” Bao Da Tong said without a care. He walked past the floor-to-ceiling windows and onto the balcony.
This side happened to be facing the building undergoing renovations. Therefore, there were no lights to be seen. It was only around nine in the evening but it felt rather quiet. Even the light from the streetlamps seemed to be pale, diluted and empty.
“How long have the renovations been going on for?” Bao Da Tong asked.
“They just started.”
“How long have you lived here?”
“A little over three months.” Miss Sun was still crouched in the corner, clearly terrified. “This cultural district first renovated this side and sold the houses here before starting on the others.”
“It seems there are still quite a lot of wealthy people nowadays. The occupancy rate is pretty good.” Bao Da Tong chattered some nonsense. “Has no one been living on the opposite side the whole time?”
“Hmm, it’s fine. I’ll help you test if there’s any evil influence over there.” As he spoke, he fiddled a few times with the large compass in his palm and started pacing around the balcony. It wasn’t really just pacing since there was a certain rhythm and pattern to it. His movements were exaggerated, as though he were doing a witch dance.
Xiao Xia watched him busy himself for a while before noticing a standing telescope next to the windows. It seemed like an antique, and was both large and complicated. However, it was very beautiful. She subconsciously walked over and looked into the telescope.
It was very dark, without any image. She figured it hadn’t been properly focused. Therefore, she turned the lens’s focus. With a click, there was suddenly light. A sinister eye suddenly appeared in her line of sight. It didn’t blink and was both large and clear, glaring straight at her. It seemed to be stuck to the end of the telescope!
“Ah!” She let out a soft gasp and fell back onto the nearby bed.
“What happened?” “Don’t look!”
Wan Li and Miss Sun’s voices rang out at the same time. Even Bao Da Tong stopped his movements.
“Don’t look!” Miss Sun started crying in fear. “She will crawl over via the telescope. Hiding is no use at all. She can crawl out from the toilet, the gas pipes, the air conditioning! She can squeeze inside from the smallest gap!”
“Then why didn’t you run!?” Wan Li hurried over and pulled Xiao Xia behind him.
“The moment she came, the doors locked.” Miss Sun’s eyes bulged as she looked at Wan Li. “I can’t escape, can’t escape! She doesn’t kill me and just wants to torment me. I can’t escape! Can’t escape!”
As if to confirm Miss Sun’s words, the silent night was suddenly broken by a click. The front door downstairs seemed to have been locked.
Miss Sun sobbed in fear and crawled to the bed, staring at the socket in the corner as if something would also come out of it.
“Your place is poorly soundproofed!” Bao Da Tong blurted.
It was just an ordinary sentence, but it reduced the scary atmosphere in the room. “Really, to be able to hear the front door from the second floor. Unreasonable, really unreasonable!” He gave Wan Li a glance as he spoke.
Wan Li understood and immediately took two steps forward, bending over and looking into the telescope. Yet the moment he did so, he immediately straightened up.
“What did you see?”
“There’s a white figure in the building across from us. I’ll go take a look.” He turned to head downstairs.
“No rush.” Bao Da Tong stopped him before taking out a talisman from the duffel bag. He murmured a few lines and pointed with his finger. The burning talisman shot towards the opposite building like a small fireball.
“Let’s leave first. Find a hotel for Miss Sun. We can discuss things tomorrow.”
“It’s locked. We can’t leave, we can’t leave!” Miss Sun was still repeating her earlier words.
“Trust me, the door is unlocked. There’s also no need to search the building across from us. I’ve made arrangements.” Bao Da Tong smiled confidently.
At that moment, Wan Li suddenly felt Bao Da Tong wasn’t quite so useless!