Ruan Zhan was forced out of bed at six in the morning.
Every day during this time, he would have just finished closing up shop and gotten into bed. Therefore, he was bare-chested and barefooted with only a pair of trousers, as he went downstairs to open the door. He knew it was his only good friend Wan Li, but he didn’t expect him to bring Yue Xiao Xia who was only dressed in pajamas.
“Bring her inside first. I’ll go pay the cab fare.” Wan Li didn’t say anything else before shoving Xiao Xia into his arms. Only then did Ruan Zhan realize that the silent female lawyer wasn’t able to stand without support.
He couldn’t help but feel extremely vexed. He knew trouble had come to the door. It looks like he wasn’t able to avoid it.
“Why are you still standing there? Can’t you see she’s about to pass out? Go up, go up.” Wan Li locked the door behind him and spoke to the two standing by the bar. His tone was impolite enough for others to think this was his house.
Ruan Zhan didn’t speak. Although his teeth itched with resentment, he still did as he was told. Two of the rooms upstairs were being used as storage space and the stairs were also quite steep. He had no choice but to pretty much half-carry Xiao Xia safely upstairs. Then, he watched with a sort of resigned manner as Wan Li busied himself here and there. Finally, Wan Li even let Xiao Xia sleep in his bed.
“We really need to have a chat.” Ruan Zhan could no longer endure and walked over. He stretched his hand out and drew a few characters between the astonished Xiao Xia’s brows.
Xiao Xia lay in the bed that was still warm from Ruan Zhan’s body and already felt a sense of security. When he drew on her forehead, she merely felt a little ticklish. Then, she fell into a deep sleep without any warning.
“I feel like a pushy salesman.” Wan Li smiled bitterly.
“How very self-aware. You’ve already played the part of an unreasonable friend to perfection. You also went back on your word.”
“I’m sorry.” Wan Li apologized sincerely. “However, if I could do it over, I would still make the same choice.”
“It was the last resort.”
“Why are you so unmoved by everything? It’s what she said.” Wan Li pointed at the sleeping Xiao Xia.
“Stop saying oh, there’s really a ghost trying to harm people. You must help me.”
“I don’t see why I “must” help you.”
“Then treat it as me begging you. We’ve been friends for many years, Ah Zhan. You wouldn’t really not care about me, right?”
“Begging me?” Ruan Zhan stretched the words out meaningfully.
“Don’t misunderstand.” Wan Li knew what he was thinking and explained: “I admit, I have a little more affection for her than a normal friend. However, it’s definitely not to the point of love. She…” Wan Li looked at Xiao Xia’s sleeping face, a trace of sorrow in his mind, “is just like Nana.”
Ruan Zhan froze for a moment, “Nana has been dead for a decade. You’re just trying to fill the void in your mind. It’s useless. Furthermore, she isn’t like her at all. Your vision must be getting blurry.”
“Her personality is similar, and her current circumstances are as well. Therefore, I don’t want to make the same mistake.”
“Stop trying to trick me! This person has no patience in doing things and can’t lower herself when asking for help. She’s both sensitive and willful. How is she like Nana? The fact that she tries to get along with everyone, or because she’s timid?”
Wan Li couldn’t help but start laughing at Ruan Zhan’s words. “The two of you really are soulmates! You’ve only met once but were both able to completely analyze each other’s flaws. It’s a shame you couldn’t see each other’s strengths. Really, like a bickering couple.”
“You still have the face to laugh in front of this daddy, you treacherous bastard!?”
Hearing Ruan Zhan “cursing” and losing control of his emotions, Wan Li knew his old friend was wavering. He hurriedly struck while the iron was hot, “Whatever, whatever. You can scold me all you want. You wouldn’t really stand by without doing anything, right, Ah Zhan?”
“Apart from finding problems for this daddy, what else are you good for?” Ruan Zhan scolded. His carefully cultivated calm and elegance completely crumbled. “You clearly know I’m unwilling to use that ability but you still revealed it to an outsider. You clearly know I never allow women to come here but you actually let her grandly occupy my bed. Is there a friend like you under the heavens?”
“It’s all my fault, ok? Are you willing to help now?”
“Would you let me off if I don’t?” Ruan Zhan finally resigned himself. “However, I’ll get the ugly part out of the way. I’m helping you, not her.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means I’ll help her this once for your sake. If she provokes some other ghoul, it’ll have nothing to do with me.”
“Sure, sure.” Wan Li agreed. Who would keep randomly provoking foul things!?
“Tell me first what happened last night. Why so wretched?” Despite being extremely unwilling, Ruan Zhan would only ask about the situation since he already had nowhere to sleep. At least he could figure out what he was up against.
His question made Wan Li turn very serious. This made him realize the problem wasn’t simple. Wan Li had gone through life-threatening situations twice with him. He wouldn’t make such a fuss about a minor matter.
“I don’t know what Xiao Xia encountered last night. She didn’t tell me anything on the way over. All I know is I encountered the ghost builds wall phenomenon last night. It wanted to separate me from Xiao Xia. Before that, we also encountered something weird at the hospital.
He told Ruan Zhan about Xiao Xia’s nightmare and the murder case in detail, and the spoke about what happened in Xiao Xia’s house. “When I woke her up around ten to give her medicine, everything was still fine. Then I fell asleep on the living room sofa. Around one in the morning, I heard her loudly calling me, her voice cracking. Such a loud sound would definitely carry a long distance, but the weird thing was none of the neighbors heard anything. I was extremely panicked at that time but couldn’t find her bedroom door no matter how I tried. Then, I couldn’t hear any sounds as though I was in a vacuum. I used the purifying chant you taught me and then pushed through any obstructions I could feel in one direction. In the end, I could only find my way out the front door, but couldn’t find Xiao Xia’s bedroom door at all. I couldn’t even make a phone call. When I burst through the door at dawn, she had already been unconscious for who knows how long. What needs to be said is that the door was locked from the inside, but Xiao Xia wouldn’t do something like that.”
“Maybe it’s her way of guarding against perverts.” Ruan Zhan joked instinctively, but he had some thoughts in mind. He walked over to the sleeping Xiao Xia and stretched his hand out towards her chest.
Wan Li stopped him, “It looks like you’re the pervert!”
Ruan Zhan ignored him and lightly lifted the jade pendant around her neck. “I dare say that thing wanted to harm her. At the least it wanted to possess her. But why was she fine in the end?” He lowered his head and carefully examined the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva’s amulet. “Do you know where she got this treasure?”
Wan Li thought about it. “She said that when she went to the parade in Anhui Prefecture’s Wuhu City, an old monk said she had Buddhist karma and gifted it to her. She doesn’t like hanging things around her neck and ended up giving it to her grandma who was a devout Buddhist. Three years ago, her grandma passed away. Perhaps she missed her too much and thus started wearing it. It never leaves her side.”
“I see.” Ruan Zhan put the jade Buddha back in place. “Do you know of Wuhu’s Little Mount Jiuhua, the Guangji Temple? It’s dedicated to the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. This was probably gifted by one of the daoists there. It has a lot of spiritual power. There is also a very strong psychic power. I’m guessing that her grandma definitely loved her a lot. This sort of extreme care became an extremely strong protective force. It’s very rarely seen. I finally understand now why her yang flame wasn’t snuffed out despite encountering such a thing.”
“So you mean she’s going to be fine?”
“Relatively. You should know that too much ghostly miasma can corrupt such treasures, just like how air pollution harms the body.”
“We can’t tell her about this. Otherwise, she will become overconfident.”
“That has nothing to do with me.” Ruan Zhan drew on Xiao Xia’s brows as he spoke, letting her slowly wake up. Then, before she was fully awake, he started asking about what happened last night. He was so meticulous that Xiao Xia felt he would have made an excellent lawyer.
“It said you were the sixth?” Ruan Zhan asked.
“Yes.” She was still traumatized by the scene. “Is this because of my case?”
“We’ll see.” Although this seemed related to that family murder case, it involved the supernatural. It shouldn’t be considered conventionally.
“You’re willing to help me?”
“I’m helping him. But I hope you won’t tell anyone about this in the future. Treat it as my compensation, ok?”
“Want her to swear to it?” Wan Li interrupted.
“No need. A certain someone once made an oath, but didn’t he sell me out all the same?”
“Relax, I won’t say anything no matter what. It’s fine if you believe me, it’s also fine if you don’t.” Xiao Xia really wanted to be grateful, but his cold and reluctant attitude was a big blow to her pride. She couldn’t help but be a little angry.