Book 8 Chapter 12: Recuperation

Ruan Zhan was seriously injured.

Wan Li took him to the hospital on the spot, saying his injuries were caused by falling a great distance. He had broken three ribs and there was some internal bleeding. Although he didn’t need surgery, he would have to stay in the hospital.

Theoretically, the two yakshas weren’t a match for Ruan Zhan despite being very powerful. Ruan Zhan had experienced countless dangers, overcoming the scholar’s ghost with centuries of cultivation, the foreign, bloodsucking witch, the Japanese Yinyang Masters and their shikigami, the Gu genius, a pair of fiend children with three centuries of mana and an expert like Si Ma Nan. He definitely wouldn’t lose to them.

However, their revelations had been too shocking, causing him emotional turmoil. Then, they used the innate relationship between father and son to cause Ruan Zhan to suffer a backlash from his own powerful killing blow. Not only was he injured, he also remained unconscious. The spell had clearly damaged his mind.

Xiao Xia was extremely afraid when she saw him lying there, afraid he wouldn’t recover. She had seen him injured before. Ever since he started getting involved in supernatural affairs, which battle hadn’t required all his strength? When had he not fought as the underdog? When had he come out unscathed? But no matter how serious the injury, even after the pyrrhic victory in Hongqing Town’s duel against Si Ma Nan, he had always appeared incomparably tough, as if nothing in the world could knock him down. But now, he lay unmoving in bed, his face the color of paper, his lips bloodless. His frail appearance would have made anyone feel heartache. For someone who loved the way Xiao Xia did, her heart dripped blood from the pain when she looked at him.

She started blaming herself. If she hadn’t appeared in his life, his days might have been peaceful and comfortable. He wouldn’t suffer so many trials. It was probably her fault for bringing him calamity! It was even the case this time. If she hadn’t come back, the two yakshas wouldn’t have followed her here. They wouldn’t have been able to recognize Ruan Zhan, let alone harm him!

She carefully lowered herself to the bed and lightly put her arms around his neck. Her cheek pressed against his cold face as she silently cried. Her tears also stained his face. It was her fortune to have met him, but in his case, it might be a curse!

“I don’t think doing that would make him recover any faster.” Wan Li said comfortingly as he walked in on Xiao Xia crying her eyes out. “Didn’t Bao Da Tong say that he’s just sealed off some of his senses due to magical backlash? With a proper Daoist around, he’ll have Ah Zhan up in no time. As for his health…it’s like the line from that anime you like: he’s got a dog’s recovery ability. So don’t worry. He’ll get better soon.”

Xiao Xia had been crying silently, but Wan Li’s comforting instead made her unable to stop herself from sobbing out loud.

“Hey, hey, enough, stop crying.” Wan Li patted Xiao Xia’s head. “You’re acting like he’s already dead. That’s very inauspicious you know, as if you’re his widow. Besides, he might be conscious despite being unable to wake up. He’d feel bad if you’re so upset.”

“It’s all my fault!”

“Huh? Why is it your fault?” Wan Li allowed Xiao Xia to tug at his sleeve as he laughed. “Don’t blame yourself for everything. Don’t you feel this is all fate? When I was in school, I always felt I was in control of my own destiny. Only now do I understand that in this world, there are unseen threads connecting the people who are fated. You’ll have to face it whether or not you’re willing. Believe me, you didn’t bring him calamity. Perhaps you brought the opportunity to reconnect with his life and future instead. See, he’s not denying it, which implies agreement. I was right, haha.”

Xiao Xia knew Wan Li was just comforting her, but she still couldn’t relax due to Ruan Zhan’s condition. Only three days later, after Bao Da Tong repeatedly cast spells to help remove the effects of the backlash, did Ruan Zhan finally wake up.

Yet despite regaining consciousness, he caught a huge fever that developed rapidly. It was as if all the accumulated suffering, weakness, pain and side-effects of forcing himself since childhood all burst forth.

Xiao Xia spent all her time taking care of him, unwilling to leave anything to anyone else. She fed him medicine, food, spoke with him, and kept him company. She didn’t go back to the law firm and paid attention to nothing else. Her life revolved around Ruan Zhan. Ruan Zhan was actually just feeling frail. His broken ribs had long since healed, and he could take care of himself. Yet Xiao Xia forced him to act like a vegetable, unwilling to let him do anything. Ruan Zhan was helpless in the face of her worry and could only go along with it. Bao Da Tong joked that he hadn’t expected a prickly lass like Xiao Xia to be such a good housewife. He fussed that once Ruan Zhan was recovered, he should openly pursue her.

As for Ruan Zhan, despite having his freedom restricted by Xiao Xia, these days were the happiest of his life. He had never had someone take care of him so seriously, and he hadn’t spent so much time so close to Xiao Xia before. Seeing her rosy cheeks, her charming eyes and her bright smile suddenly made him feel the world was incomparably beautiful.

In the past he hadn’t cared at all about his life. Although he was a little nervous and upset when he learned about the Calamity of Threes, he had slowly accepted his fate. Yet after Xiao Xia slowly seeped into every aspect of his life, he suddenly realized that getting used to something was something frightening. He was getting used to loving her, getting used to treating her warmly, getting used to seeing her every day, getting used to having her by his side. This made him reluctant to give up the feeling of being with her, and also spawned a fierce longing. He wanted to miraculously overcome his tribulation, to continue living, even if it was just remaining by her side!

He started thinking that they could be together if he could overcome this fated trial!

He hadn’t mentioned his father’s matter during his recovery. Yet he had been thinking about it all this time. But to get answers, he would have to find the two yakshas. That was impossible with his current condition. He wasn’t a rash person, so he kept steadily silent. He merely cultivated his magic secretly, trying to increase his powers. Two months later, Xiao Xia finally allowed Ruan Zhan to move about on his own. He thus started training his body.

The two yakshas knew about his dad. He had to capture them and force them to talk. Also, Xiao Xia had told him how they had tried to harm her. Thus they had to die even more. No one could hurt Xiao Xia without paying a price. If he hadn’t felt Xiao Xia was being evasive and secretly followed her, they might have killed Xiao Xia and Wan Li.

One was his best friend and the other was the person he loved most. He had to protect them!

“Are you preparing to go find the two yakshas?” Nothing could escape Wan Li’s eyes.

Ruan Zhan nodded.

“I won’t stop you. Capturing them means finding out about uncle’s matter after all.” Wan Li sighed. “But you also shouldn’t just believe everything they say. Although you are normally calm, matters of the heart causes turmoil. Promise me that you’ll think thrice before you act.”

“Don’t worry. I won’t fall for the same trick a second time.” Ruan Zhan remained cold when speaking about the two yakshas.

“You don’t think uncle…is a villain, right?” Wan Li recalled the yaksha’s words back then. It sounded as if something unreasonable would happen when father and son met again, as if uncle had done something evil. Yet there was no way he could believe that elder was evil. There had to be some misunderstanding or some secret. There had to be.

Ruan Zhan looked out the window as if recalling the past. After a moment, he said, “He isn’t a qualified father, but he definitely isn’t a villain. I’ve been thinking about what happened every day for the past two months. I now feel that my birth, my abandonment, my adoption and even his death are all part of a huge secret.”

“You no longer hate him?”

“Strange, isn’t it?” Ruan Zhan laughed bitterly. “I figured he might have his own secret difficulties, just like me with Xiao Xia. I clearly…” he paused, “but still forced myself to keep away from her.”

“Can’t give her up, right? Are you going to accept her?”

“Depends on the situation.”

“Looks like a rest does come with benefits. You’ve been lying there for over two months. Although you cultivate the entire night without Xiao Xia knowing, it seems you also had a lot of time to think things through. Looks like I also need to get injured someday and lie down for a while. I’ll be borrowing your Xiao Xia to take care of me.” Wan Li heard Ruan Zhan’s desire to fight his destiny to obtain his own happiness. He laughed, unable to figure out his feelings.

He was happy his friend had thought things through. Also, after finding out about Ah Zhan’s father, he had decided to encourage Xiao Xia and Ah Zhan’s relationship. He wasn’t going to interfere. Yet now that Ah Zhan might really accept Xiao Xia, he felt a needle pricking his heart. He couldn’t tell where it hurt, but it just felt very uncomfortable.

He had been overconfident, thinking he could control his own emotions and not have any thoughts about Xiao Xia. Yet when he suddenly realized his loss of control, it was already too late. Now that he needed to abandon his feelings, it was like digging into his own flesh. However, he had always been a bystander with regards to Ah Zhan and Xiao Xia. Things had never progressed further.

The first person he loved had died. He probably hadn’t really loved the person he married. The next person that stirred his heart ended up deeply in love with his best friend. He was quite tragic.

“Right.” Ruan Zhan frowned. “You have so many admirers. You just need to call and you’ll definitely be more like a puppet than I was the last two months.”

Wan Li burst out laughing, though his heart still ached. It’s just he had never seen Ruan Zhan being petty. Even as children, he had been steady like an adult. Yet hearing that someone wanted to borrow Xiao Xia was as if someone was trying to snatch his belongings. His hurried defense was both amusing and cute. That image should have been preserved with a photo.

“What are you laughing about?”

“I’m laughing at that poker face of yours, which finally has an expression other than that fake smile or a cold look. A puppet, huh? You seemed pretty happy to be a puppet! Hahaha!”

“Idiot! I really don’t know what those women see in you!” Ruan Zhan cursed.

Wan Li continued laughing. It was rare to see Ruan Zhan so relaxed and with a clear goal in mind. Towards this, he was sincerely happy as his friend. However, his heartache welled up again and he hurriedly suppressed it. He merely asked, “When are you planning telling her your feelings? Probably after you overcome the tribulation? Hoh, I really want to see how the ice king plans on saying ‘I love you’ to a woman.”

“I don’t have time for your nonsense.” Ruan Zhan turned away, actually a little bashful. He was someone who brushed past countless flowers. Who would have thought he would be like this one day. Even he felt it was strange. “I still need to figure out how to deal with those yakshas!”

“Do you know where to find them?”

“Xiao Xia said…” Ruan Zhan’s voice involuntarily turned gentle at her name. “She had prepared a legal document for that ‘gambling god’ He Fu Gui. It was regarding the excavation of a barren mountain. The mountain was called Ironhead Mountain. It’s in He Fu Gui’s hometown. I don’t think a gambling addict like him would be planning on doing actual work. That mountain has also been around for many years without anyone thinking it being worth excavating. How could a scumbag who gambles and sells his wife be able to discover any value?! Furthermore, why are those two yakshas helping him? We can thus infer that the mountain might be something the yakshas are interested in. Perhaps the mountain has been gathering spirit energy, and they wish to use it for cultivation or for their lair. Or there might be some other purpose they cannot reveal. You should know if He Fu Gui has the rights to the mountain, the two yakshas can do as they please with it via their puppet. Otherwise, why would they choose He Fu Gui? Why would they appear now in Jingshi Town?”

“You’re right.” Wan Li nodded. “Only they would have the motivation to reserve the entire mountain. Furthermore, it matches with the location and timing of their appearance. As for why they would raise He Fu Gui into a gambling god, perhaps he’s easier to control due to his obsession and evil thoughts. Excavating a barren mountain requires a large sum of money. I mentioned this ‘gambling god’ to Bao Da Tong. He said there’s a folklore saying that after finding a very inauspicious child cemetery, burning incense there at midnight and then heading home would be extremely dangerous. But as long as you don’t die of fright, you will never lose in gambling. It isn’t clear whether anyone’s succeeded before, but He Fu Gui being able to accumulate such a large sum in such a short time is definitely due to constantly winning in gambling. The police busted an underground casino down the street a few days ago. A single table had millions in stakes.”

“His money is definitely ill-gotten. There’s no doubt about that. But regardless whether he endured that legendary trial or whether the two yakshas are helping him at the table, he is merely the accomplice, or perhaps just a tool.”

“True.” Wan Li agreed. “Then when are you planning to act?”


“Need help?”

“No. I will deal with those two myself! I will also get revenge for He Fu Gui’s wife while I’m at it. Xiao Xia really wants to do that, so I’ll be helping her. Besides, you have work, and you also have to take care of Xiao Xia for me. Bao Da Tong also needs to keep an eye on the bar. I’d be remiss if I don’t take advantage of the cheap labor.” Ruan Zhan made a rare joke. His mood had clearly lightened quite a bit after thinking things through.

“What do you plan on doing?”

“Aren’t the two yakshas with He Fu Gui? I just need to find him, and have a big bet with them!” Ruan Zhan smiled, the curve in his lips seeming a little evil…

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