But When Zhu Hong Remembered Why He Cherished The Jacket So, She Could Not Laugh At All.
Zhao Yunlan paused, not hurrying to say that it was impossible. After a moment, he asked, “What year did I purchase the book?”
“2002,” The black cat calculated. “What were you doing that year?”
“I was working hard under the Guardian Order,” Zhao Yunlan remembered. “I couldn’t handle my jobs, and almost got kicked out of school to become a professional stick. I was stopped by my father, and it was that year I suggested setting up the SID. My father agreed, and helped me where he could.”
Zhao Yunlan furrowed his brows. “So was it my father, or was it…”
His last words couldn’t be heard, and Da Qing had a suspicious glance in his eyes as he patted the cat’s head. “When we get back, I’ll tell you everything in detail.”
He turned to the girl. “I must ask, how do you verify the buyer’s identity? The buyer doesn’t write their own details, right?”
She replied, “The records in here are organised meticulously. Whatever is written; the buyer’s name, surname, or identity, will be identical to what is written on their birth and death certificates. Does Guardian have any other questions?
Zhao Yunlan nodded, picking up the book and left without another word. It was as he reached the door he remembered something, turning around and asking, “The ‘me’ that came to buy the book eleven years ago… does this maiden still remember what he looked like?”
The girl tapped the corner of her crimson lips, saying deliberately, “At first, I could not recall. But with Guardian’s enquiries, I suddenly remembered–then I looked at your features, and realised it was someone I had met before. If Guardian had not said, I really would not have known eleven years had passed.”
What the girl was hinting at was that, the ‘Zhao Yunlan’ back then was not much different from the Zhao Yunlan now.
Zhao Yunlan pondered for a moment. “Thank you.”
After this, he walked out briskly, Zhu Hong hot on his tail. The girl called after him, and this time she lowered her voice, making her sentence sound horrifically creepy. “I would like to warn Guardian that these few days may have bloody disasters, so do be careful.”
Zhao Yunlan had not reacted, but Zhu Hong asked worriedly, “What bloody disaster?”
The girl merely used her hollow eyes to stare at them, the ghost of a smile floating on her pale expression, and didn’t speak. Zhu Hong was about to walk forward to push, but Zhao Yunlan grabbed her and hauled her away.
Zhu Hong protested, “But…”
“She is returning the favour that I had given her brother. How much do you think a few kilograms of bacon can hold against her?” Zhao Yunlan speedily exited the area, and warned Zhu Hong. “Even if she dared say the rest, I wouldn’t dare to listen. In the Ghost City, ethics don’t matter, and logic before acting is practically nonexistent. You cannot use the ways of the living to reason with the dead; why do you think Hell left them here to fend for themselves? Remember, the owed debt of a dead person is not an easy debt repaid.”
Zhu Hong was quiet for a moment before saying, “Why are you suddenly telling me this?”
“Though I do have a lot of people on my side to do these things, I never thought you’d leave.” Zhao Yunlan smiled. “If I did… remember, even if you do cultivate to the point you become Nüwa herself, remember this person here still needs your help. I can’t negotiate with eight thousand year olds.”
Zhu Hong’s eyes and nose turned red.
“Sh, keep the talisman in your mouth. Let’s wait till everyone in the SID is back, before giving you a grand farewell party. This isn’t the place to be crying.” Suddenly, Zhao Yunlan pulled Zhu Hong behind him, blocking her. All he saw was that on the cobblestone, someone had been crouching there for god knew how long.
He… or maybe she… or even it looked like a hairless monkey. Raising its head to look at Zhao Yunlan, its mouth split open into a smile that reached the sides of its face. It stood up, its neck twisting at 180 degrees. Baring its dripping teeth, it shot toward Zhao Yunlan and Zhu Hong.
Zhao Yunlan had pulled out his gun, but before he could pull the trigger, the two-faced thing fell to the ground. Twisting its head back, it used its shaking head to assess Zhao Yunlan before breaking into peals of laughter.
When Zhao Yunlan saw this, he aimed his gun at it, instructing Zhu Hong to walk on the other side, leaving this thing a good distance away.
When it saw that they were going to leave, it started babbling, “Men and ghosts walk different paths, men and ghosts walk different paths–”
This practically shot an arrow straight into Zhao Yunlan’s heart. His face drained of colour, and he turned around to glare at the two-faced creature. With a cold voice, he snarled, “I care about my face, and don’t want to be on bad terms with Hell, yet you lot just keep fucking ripping apart your faces again and again.”
The smile on its face promptly disappeared, and Zhu Hong pulled at his shirt. “Detective Zhao, let’s go.”
Zhao Yunlan had clenched the gun until veins were popping out from his hands, yet as they were about to leave, the two-faced creature spoke once more. “Humans or ghosts? You have to choose one. The living or the dead? You have to choose one. The world or the nether? You have to choose one.”
Its voice got higher and higher, until the point it was shrill and almost pierced the eardrums. The words “You have to choose one.” were like waves, rippling through the city, echoing again and again.
Ghosts spilled from the corners of the city, emerging from the cracks. Their eyes held a dangerous glint as they hovered around, eavesdropping rather conspicuously.
Zhao Yunlan was holding Zhu Hong, and just as he was about to pull her away, the creature suddenly jerked in front of them, saying, “There is a living ghost here. There is a living ghost here.”
When it finished uttering this sentence, a racket had been caused, and Zhao Yunlan didn’t hesitate to draw his gun and shoot at the two-faced creature. The gun ripped through its skull, burning through its skin. No more than a while had passed before the creature was not but a pile of ash.
But a large number of ghosts had bottlenecked there, and were hungry for a taste of the living. Not even the hissing black cat could stop them.
Zhao Yunlan cursed under his breath, drawing his gun and shooting at the nearest ghost, who burst apart in mad shrieks. Unexpectedly, the ghosts closest to it didn’t even acknowledge the doom of a fellow ghost. To them, fear, or logic, didn’t exist. Soon, a mob of ghosts encircled around Zhao Yunlan, Zhu Hong and Da Qing.
Zhao Yunlan had only came to investigate; he had no preparation for a fight, and thus his bullets were quickly used up.
Zhu Hong reverted to her snake form, a large python rising amongst the ghosts. One snap of her jaws devoured four to five ghosts at once. It wasn’t enough, and many of them clung to her body, biting and baring their teeth. With a sweep of her lower body, the ghosts clinging onto her had been squashed.
But there were just too many of them! There was a saying: You could hide from one mighty ghost king, but not from his unending ghosts.
Ghosts yet again swarmed Zhu Hong. Though she swung them off, they stood up and came again. One even raked at her skin with nails, slicing off a portion of her flesh.
A dagger swept out from behind, slicing the ghost that clung onto her scales into pieces. What was disturbing was that, even as the ghost was destroyed, it still stuck out its neck in hopes taste of blood.
The dagger-wielder, Zhao Yunlan, exclaimed, “What a bloodthirsty ghost!”
He pulled at Zhu Hong’s tail, saying, “Shrink, quickly!”
He swung out with the dagger between his words, hacking at the ghosts that dared come near. Somehow, he had found time within this precarious situation to take off his coat, hugging it in his chest. It really was “Break off the head or make it bleed, but do not get a drop of oil on the clothes”!
But when Zhu Hong remembered why he cherished the coat so, she could not laugh at all.
She became a small snake, hiding inside his pocket and swirling around his wrist. Zhao Yunlan picked up the reluctantly-transformed-into-a-ball-of-fur Da Qing with one hand, and used the other to light up a wind-borrowing talisman. He really hadn’t wanted to use the lighter; it had had only one spark of true flame left…
The mad cyclone of fire spiralled out, and ghosts screamed from all four directions. Zhao Yunlan rubbed the scratches from a fierce ghost from his back, muttering, “The bloody disaster came this fast?”
After this, he didn’t waste a moment, and charged towards the exit, using a hand to shield himself from the roaring flames and light.
When they reached the entrance of the Ghost City, it had already been closed! As they turned, the hungry ghosts had also swallowed the true flames. Though some smaller ghosts combusted upon consumption, it didn’t affect the others at all.
Da Qing screamed, “Meow Oh Meow Oh!” Using his claws to scratch at Zhao Yunlan, he whined, “Fucking hell, now what?”
Zhao Yunlan was expressionless. “What else can we do? Barge.”
As he spoke, he fished out his phone and took pictures of the hungry ghosts, before brandishing the Guardian Whip. “Bring this back as a trophy.”
Da Qing shrieked, “Have you lost your mind? Taking photos at this time? Do you want a group photograph with them, to show that you’ve been here before, you jerk!”
“What are you shouting about?” Zhao Yunlan pushed down Da Qing’s screaming head irritably. “This isn’t even much, my wife ran off and I still haven’t done anything.”
Da Qing was quiet. He didn’t know what happened, but Zhao Yunlan was most probably shocked badly by Shen Wei.
In that moment, Da Qing gazed at Zhao Yunlan’s seemingly calm face, and suspected Zhao Yunlan treated this whole thing as a destressing activity. Based on Da Qing’s knowledge of him, the bastard really could do something like this!
The first crack of the whip cleaved through the dead energy in the Ghost City.
Zhao Yunlan felt a force guiding his attacks, as if he were always meant to wield the weapon. As if something was awakening in him.
Then, a human-sized hole was blasted into the gate. A man, fully-clad in black strode in, grabbing Zhao Yunlan’s whip and retracting it before shoving it back on his arm. Zhu Hong, which was wrapped around his wrist, was thus silenced.
The man had a longsword in his hand, and a swing of it shook the whole Ghost City. The rocks on the ground trembled along with it, and dozens of spirits and fierce ghosts were broken into many pieces under the blade.
The man had an arm braced against Zhao Yunlan’s waist, as if if he had to drag the man against the ground, he would, to get Zhao Yunlan out of the godforsaken hellhole.
Zhu Hong ascertained their safety and transformed back into a human. She joyously called out, “Ghost Slayer, your honour!”
All her revered, admired Ghost Slayer said was, “Why are you here.” His voice was cold.
Zhao Yunlan’s expressionless mask finally cracked. His arm was too tired, and thus he let go of Da Qing, who fell to the ground nimbly. He cared not about the occasion and walked over, embracing the feared Ghost Slayer in two steps. “Come back with me.”
… It was too bad Zhu Hong had just transformed back into a human. As she witnessed this, due to her unstable legs and shock, fell on the ground.
It seemed like being chased and hunted by hundreds of hungry ghosts really wasn’t anything.