After getting to that city, Ruan Zhan got a room at the Leaf Garden Inn where Li Jing Ming had stayed.
He didn’t specify a room or purposefully move into the attic where Li Jing Ming encountered the ghost. This was because he believed if anything was looking for him, it would find him all the same. Furthermore, he also doubted the ghost would dare to provoke him while it was incomplete.
He had gone to investigate the river behind the inn and found out it circled around the town. It was neither deep nor shallow, and was very still without any waves. Not only was it suitable as public transport, the scenery was also very beautiful. However, his special abilities allowed him to see the fiendish aura inside. Unfortunately, his abilities had been sealed for too long, and he wasn’t able to see things clearly. The part of the river behind the Leaf Garden Inn was also where it was deepest. He needed to dive down to see things clearly.
This scenic town didn’t have the necessary equipment he needed. Therefore, he asked Wan Li who was staying in the bar to buy and send over some diving gear. Then, he waited for the stuff to arrive so he could continue to investigate. However, he wasn’t idle during these days. He posed as a cultural researcher and asked about the town’s history. He asked around for all sorts of folk stories within the last century while doing his best to recall his diving skills from back in college.
This evening, he had finally pieced together the scattered information into a cohesive story and returned to the inn satisfied. However, he realized his room was abnormal.
The door was ajar, the cabinet had been used and the room was filled with an unfamiliar scent. The sound of flowing water could be heard from the bathroom.
Ruan Zhan lightly pushed the bathroom door open. A person was leaning over the sink, washing her face. When she raised her head and saw two people in the mirror, one of them being Ruan Zhan’s gloomy face, she suffered a huge shock and let out a scream.
“Today, I finally understand the saying “people can get scared to death by other people”. Can’t you make some noise when you walk?” Xiao Xia dried her face and said grumpily.
“Why are you here?” Ruan Zhan frowned and felt very annoyed.
“Can’t I be here?”
Looking at Xiao Xia who seemed like she had an ace up her sleeve, Ruan Zhan knew it would be useless to bring up the dangers or her inability to help. He might as well not mention it. As for Xiao Xia, she impolitely squeezed past Ruan Zhan through the doorway and sat on the other bed, looking like she wasn’t going to leave no matter what.
“How did you get in here?”
“I told the innkeeper I am your younger sister.”
“What an honor.”
“In my case, I’m losing out. I’m much better looking than you.”
“Sorry for letting you down.” Ruan Zhan shifted his questioning. “Don’t you have things to take care of?”
“Don’t worry, I’ve handled everything successfully. The appeal for a reevaluation of his mental state was very quickly approved. They are currently working on it. That thing also doesn’t have the opportunity to merge.”
“So you came.”
“Who said you could disappear without a trace?” Xiao Xia pushed the responsibility onto him. “I was the one who asked you for help. You should at least give me some updates. But since I didn’t hear from you, I had reason to suspect you were eaten by the ghost or that you weren’t doing your best. Therefore, despite being unhappy that I came, you also have to take some responsibility.”
Her righteous conviction left Ruan Zhan speechless.
“I know you think I’ll get in the way, but you left me no choice. What era is this? You didn’t even prepare a cellphone, making it impossible for me to contact you.” It wasn’t like she insisted on getting involved. Anyone would prefer to take it easy. However, this was her case and she was the one determined to save Li Jing Ming. Ruan Zhan was just here to help. Although he didn’t say it, she knew this matter was very dangerous. She couldn’t just let him take the risk by himself. She was timid, but believed that when push came to shove it would be better to have an extra person.
Ruan Zhan still didn’t speak.
“You’re definitely cursing me inside for splitting hairs, right? But as a lawyer, it’s natural for me to strike when reason is on my side, and make a fuss when it isn’t. You’re the one who failed to understand the situation and provoked someone like me.”
“Whatever. Just don’t blame me if something happens and you get scared to death!”
“You won’t let me get scared to death.” Xiao Xia was betting he wouldn’t leave her hanging.
“As long as you know what you are doing. Let’s go get you a room.”
“What room? I’ll just stay here. Aren’t there two beds? You won’t be using one of them, don’t be wasteful.”
Her response almost made Ruan Zhan despair. Ever since she occupied his room on the bar’s second floor, he had to sleep in the storage room. The reason he was helping so enthusiastically was also because he wanted to escape this abnormal living situation. He didn’t expect that in such a distant place, she still wouldn’t leave him in peace.
“How about this? I’ll pay for your room. You can pick whichever one you like. You can even go stay at that three-star hotel.”
“No! It’s disgraceful to waste society’s resources.”
“Lady, please understand something.” Ruan Zhan said wearily. “I am a man, and we aren’t too familiar with each other. Isn’t it a little inappropriate for you to stay in the same room with an unfamiliar man? Although society isn’t as conservative anymore, can’t you be a little more timid?”
“It’s precisely because I’m timid that I have to stay with you! Furthermore, I know you hate me so you won’t be interested in me. You really are aren’t a good person, forcing me to put it so plainly. Oh, right. Have you eaten dinner yet?”
Ruan Zhan shook his head.
“How about I treat you to some local specialties? I’ve asked the innkeeper. There’s a place nearby that’s been open for centuries.”
Ruan Zhan felt a splitting headache.
“Stop being so difficult! I just want to hear what you discovered in the last few days, and what your plan is. You know I’m timid when it comes to “that”, so it’s not as scary in a crowded place. Let’s go, let’s go. You’re only willing to move after everything is explained, really!”
Ruan Zhan completely gave up. He was now completely lost, and couldn’t figure out this person’s nature. He had never seen such a bipolar person before. She was clearly timid as a mouse but still tried to act brave. She clearly had plenty of pride, but also acted shameless enough.
The restaurant was on a stretch facing the river. Since it wasn’t peak tourist season, there weren’t many customers. Xiao Xia and Ruan Zhan chose a place by the window to eat at and discuss what they knew.
It turns out that centuries ago, the owner of the Leaf Garden was a wealthy landowner in the area. The place they were staying at now was only a tiny corner that remained after the land was divided many times. According to the records and various stories that were passed down from generation to generation, the Leaf Garden was unimaginably wealthy for a time. However, the number of males in the family gradually declined until a little over a century ago, there were no more males to continue the bloodline. Therefore, the last remaining lady of the Ye Estate married a scholar in town who had repeatedly failed the imperial exam. At that time, everyone was jealous of this scholar’s luck, saying that a giant golden mountain had fallen from the heavens in front of his door.
However, less than a year passed before the already pregnant Lady Ye accused the scholar of theft and kicked him out of the inner courtyard to live in the outer courtyard. Actually, Lady Ye disdained him for being weak and useless, and had set her sights on someone else. The south was conservative at the time so she couldn’t get rid of her husband and remarry. Therefore, she used this excuse to kick the scholar out and secretly live with her steward who was her lover.
However, nothing was airtight in this world. Before long, this matter was spread outside by the Ye Estate’s servants. But the Ye Estate was powerful and no one dared to say anything openly. Instead, they targeted the scholar. He used to be an impoverished and dejected person who was looked down upon by everyone. His sudden dumb luck naturally made others jealous. He also didn’t conduct himself well, and was a little too domineering during his time in the limelight. He had offended countless people. Now that he was out of luck again, they naturally kicked him while he was down.
His nominal wife was brazenly having an affair while he was accused of being a thief. His reputation was in shambles, his dignity gone, and he was a disgrace to his ancestors. He didn’t even dare show his face outside. Since he wasn’t willing to leave, the servants in the Ye Estate made things difficult for him and mistreated him. Lady Ye seemed to have permitted these things as well. Two years passed this way. When his nominal child was almost two, rumors spread that he had plotted to harm Lady Ye due to his jealousy turning into hatred. Due to the evidence being conclusive, the Ye clan sentenced him in private. They locked him in a stone box and threw him into the river.