At ten o’clock, Shen Hongbin sent a Mercedes-Benz to fetch me. The rich woman already knew about it, so I took the bag with the stuff I had prepared and got into the car.
The car drove to the Hilton Hotel. Two bodyguards escorted me as we used the elevator to reach the conference room at the highest floor. The waiters and waitresses were walking back and forth, preparing food trays on several rows of long tables. It seemed like it would be a big feast.
Actually, I had never attended an event like this before. I felt a little awkward, since I was wearing a few-hundred-renminbi jacket and a pair of jeans.
“Master Zhang, you’re here!” Shen Hongbin warmly welcomed me and ushered me to a room.
I felt somewhat disoriented as soon as I entered the room. Did I just time-travel?
The room was decorated as if it were a study room of an ancient scholar. There was a long table made of pear wood in the room, complete with a set of paper, brushes, ink, and an ink slab. There were also several thread-bound books on the shelves. An ancient-looking man sat at the table, reading a copy of ‘Sun Tzu’s Art of War.’
Chuyi stood silent in a corner. Shen Hongbin introduced us, “They say fighting is a way to get to know each other, don’t you agree? I hope you’ll let bygones be bygones, if there’s still any resentment lingering.”
I waved my hand. “No need to explain; everyone was working for his own boss. Actually, I’ve admired Daoist priest Chuyi for a long time.”
Although I said that with a straight face, I was laughing inside. Chuyi wore a cold face, his eyes never meeting mine.
Shen Hongbin took out four documents from a file. Two of them were the company’s equity contracts, and the other two were copies of a will. I skimmed the will; it was professionally written. However, after a quick analysis of the terms and conditions, I saw that the rich woman would not inherit a single dime.
“I’ll leave this to you two. I need to greet and entertain my distinguished guests.” Shen Hongbin then left the room.
I looked at the tycoon, who was at the moment being possessed by Yuan Chonghuan. I then asked Chuyi, “Who was it that gave him those clothes and decorated this ancient room?”
“Shen Hongbin wanted to please him.” Chuyi shook his head.
I didn’t know any soul-controlling technique, and the tycoon was now a man living in vegetative state; he would die once Yuan Chonghuan left his body.
As such, those two contracts were impossible to sign... Shen Hongbin would have to find a lawyer to fix this mess!
Suddenly, Yuan Chonghuan slapped the table. “Who are you? Why don’t you introduce yourself?”
I was subdued by his imposing aura. “I am Zhang Jiulin. I’m here to help you.”
“Help me? What kind of jest is that? Tens of thousands of miles of my Great Ming dynasty now belong to the Manchurian Qing. You’re just a coarse fellow. How could you be of any help to me?” Yuan Chonghuan sneered and mocked.
I lowered my voice to ask Chuyi, “Did you tell him that the Qing dynasty is already a thing of the past?”
He answered, “I did, but it’s useless.”
Yuan Chonghuan threw the book away and jerked up from his seat, talking with a scolding tone. “That incapable ruler! He believed in rumors and killed his loyal courtier!”
I couldn’t do anything other than patiently comfort him. “Sir, you’re like a living Yue Fei . We of the later generations understand your woes. History has already exacted justice on your behalf. Your name has been cleared.”
“Yue Fei?” Yuan Chonghuan lifted his head as tears rolled down his face. “Yue Fei was hung at a pavilion. In my case, the torment and agony I had to bear were thousands of times worse than that!”
Yuan Chonghuan was throwing a tantrum while Chuyi and I were watching him. As the time to call Yin Xinyue was drawing near, I had to find a way to comfort him and lure him out of here. Forcing or imploring him would raise the attention of the guards.
I patiently told him how pathetic the Qing dynasty had become in the end and how Huang Taiji died.
Of course, I also mentioned Emperor Chongzhen, the one who had killed him. He had been forced to flee. He hung himself on a coal mountain, and his body was dismembered by the rebellious force. When I reached that part of the story, Yuan Chonghuan suddenly cried, screaming, “Your Majesty!”
Needless to say, he scared the crap out of me.
His education and upbringing had patriotism as a core value; he had devoted himself to protect the Ming dynasty as a loyal courtier for all his life. I guessed he had contradicting feelings at the moment.
I received a short message from Yin Xinyue: “Brother Zhang, I’m parking in front of a shop at the South side of the hotel. Hurry up.”
I shot Chuyi a look, then I said to Yuan Chonghuan, “Sir... General Yuan, do you want to take a look at your cenotaph? Your tombstone was carved with many compliments by the later generations.”
“Is it true?” He lifted his head.
“Of course!” I nodded.
Yuan Chonghuan contemplated. “If possible, I want to see His Majesty’s final resting place. I want to mourn him for a while. It’s the duty of a Ming courtier!”
How could he be so dumbly loyal? Yet, I readily agreed to his request. I told him I had an iron horse carriage that could travel a thousand miles a day.
Yuan Chonghuan shot me a disdainful look. “You mean a car?”
It turned out he was already used to being transported in cars. He was actually getting familiar with our modern technology. I was embarrassed since I may have been underestimating the ancient people’s cognitive capacity.
Anyway, it was unexpected that Yuan Chonghuan would be this willing to go with us. I was still thrilled when I gave him casual clothes that he could change into.
Yuan Chonghuan was angry. He scoffed, “These short tunic, short-sleeved clothes are the Manchurian monster clothes!”
“People will recognize you if you don’t change your attire.”
He reluctantly changed into the new set of clothes. I even asked him to wear a pair of sunglasses. After that, he looked no different than an ordinary uncle.
Chuyi recited a spell before I pushed the door open. The Daoist boy slowly appeared in front of us. I guessed that he wanted to use his little helper to check the exit route first.
This little ghost could move conveniently away from the eyes of the bodyguards. Chuyi pushed the door open five minutes after the boy left. There was no one outside, so we hurried to take Yuan Chonghuan to the emergency exit. This hotel had more than forty floors; we would die of exhaustion if we took the stairs to go all the way down. We only descended a few floors until we found a delivery elevator that would take us down to the first floor.
There were quite a lot of people moving around, including bodyguards Shen Hongbin had hired to guard the lobby and the first floor, and the regular staff of his company. It wasn’t practical to get out of the hotel this way.
I told Chuyi, “We should leave through the underground parking lot!”
Yuan Chonghuan’s countenance took a turn for the worse when we reached the first basement floor. He was pale and sweating.
“Are you okay? Do you feel hurt somewhere?” I asked.
He just shook his head.
“Someone’s coming!” Chuyi said and pulled us to a hidden corner.
A truck entered the underground parking lot. It was carrying something heavy; we could soon tell it was the cannon because of its shape.
I cursed under my breath. The rich woman had sent the cannon there. Lucky for us, we had decided to take action before she did. Or else, the tycoon would have been snatched by her people.
Yuan Chonghuan’s expression grew stranger. He was a soul attached to the cannon; in a sense, the cannon was his body. His soul could sense the evil power, given that the cannon had been ‘refined’ and turned into a malicious weapon.
I patted Yuan Chonghuan, trying to check if he was all right. He suddenly slapped my arm away, shouting, “You’re despicable. You want to use this old man! Don’t even think about it! Leave me alone!” Then, he ran away.
I was stunned. I shot Chuyi a quick glance before dashing after him. Two guards on the truck noticed the commotion and quickly gave chase. However, they ignored us and went directly after Yuan Chonghuan.
The bodyguards had been professionally trained; they were sprinting as fast as panthers. They were about to catch up with Yuan Chonghuan.
“Damn, do you have any methods to deal with those two?” I asked Chuyi.
“I think I do…” He frowned as though unwilling. Whenever we dealt with living people, the methods we used would produce side effects.
He took out a fabric pouch fastened close with a red string. The pouch was roughly palm-sized, and the fierce-looking Zhong Kui  was embroidered on it. Zhong Kui’s left foot was stepping on a ghost while his right hand was grabbing another and shoving it into his mouth. I snatched the pouch before Chuyi could open it.
I knew this item. It was known as the Ghost Sealing Pouch, and it was also mentioned in my grandpa’s journal. It was a fierce otherworldly item, and it was really hard to make one. I was sure it contained the evil and malicious ghosts Chuyi had subdued.
I was the one who suggested the plan of kidnapping the tycoon; it was only right that I faced the consequences! I pulled the string without hesitating, feeling a chill immediately after. The lights in the underground parking lot began to flash. Two black clusters of mist twirled around the two bodyguards, slowly turning into a pair of ghosts. They were most likely a couple.
A horrible shriek resounded. Once I reached the guards, I saw that two of them were pounding their heads against the pillars. They were bleeding hard, and one was already unconscious.
“You must be aware that you lose half a year of your lifespan every time you use the Ghost Sealing Pouch to hurt people.” Chuyi grabbed my shirt; his voice was as cold as ice. “Don’t take your life so lightly.”
I knew he was angry, even though his face didn’t show it. I had never seen him angry before.
“I couldn’t ask you to bear the consequences for me!” I said.
“You and I are different. It doesn’t really matter if my lifespan is shortened…” Chuyi picked up the Ghost Sealing Pouch from the ground. He silently read a spell to put the pair of resentful ghosts back into the pouch.
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