After that incident, the brotherhood between me and Li Mazi became even stronger. It was the sort of self-evident relationship that had been proven through moments of life and death.
Although we had both promised Yin Xinyue and Ru Xue that we would wash our hands and give up our careers as otherworldly merchants, we both knew that we would never be able to keep our promise to the girls.
Let alone the huge sums of money, we were addicted!
Moreover, being an otherworldly merchant was a life-time career. What was the good in giving it up so early? After two months of enjoying our leisure time, a client came to our door.
He was a man with a shaved head and a vigorous body. Two dragon tattoos covered his arms. He wore a thick gold chain around his neck and appeared to be a true gangster, which made me interested in him.
In this society, gangsters mainly robbed people or were loan sharks. As such, they would come in contact with otherworldly items that merchants like us rarely saw.
“Kids, call your boss out here!” As soon as the bald man entered the shop, he shot us a cold glance and ordered us arrogantly.
I wanted to tease him. “Mr. Zhang’s not in the shop. Please return later.”
Li Mazi knew what I was thinking. He covered his mouth and sniggered.
The man was surprised and grunted. “Why isn’t he home?” Suddenly, he saw Li Mazi sniggering. He understood that he was tricked.
He pointed at me and shouted, “Damn, kid, you should invite Mr. Zhang out here to meet me. Otherwise, I will burn down your shop tonight!”
Looking at his angry face, I wasn’t offended. However, I recognized that this man was in great trouble. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be that worried.
I cleared my throat. Then, I smiled and said, “I’m Zhang Jiulin.”
“Do I seem like I care about who you are? Hurry, get Mr. Zhang—” Baldy stopped in the middle of his sentence. His disbelieving eyes assessed me. “What did you say? You are Zhang Jiulin?”
“I sure am.” I stopped smiling and made a gesture to leave if he didn’t believe me.
“Yes, yes. Good morning, Mr. Zhang. Forgive my blind eyes!”
The man reacted fast. He gently smacked his face and said, “You don’t need to hit me. I’ll slap my face myself. You’re a big person, so please don’t mind my words.”
He was now completely different from a moment ago. I liked this kind of person. I smiled at him. “It’s okay. Is there something important that made you come to my shop so early in the morning?”
“Master, please save me!” The man excitedly grabbed my hands. “If you don’t help me, I don’t know what I'll do...”
“Don’t be flustered. We should drink some tea first.” I motioned my head at Li Mazi and asked him to make him a cup of Longjing tea. Then, I asked the man to take a seat.
“I don’t know what’s happening over at my company, but I bet it’s something very evil. A few men have died already!” The man looked panicked.
I frowned as I listened to him. I had a feeling that this case would be extremely tough.
In our business, there were three kinds of otherworldly items that we wouldn’t accept. Those that could wound and murder people directly, those that messed with people’s fate, and those that sucked human blood. Once we accepted these otherworldly items, the consequences would be unimaginable.
If the otherworldly item killed other people because of this man, I would never put my hand in this!
The man lived to his reputation as a gangster. He seemed to have read my mind. He patted his chest and said, “Mr. Zhang, don’t worry! Although I’m part of the underworld, I would never dare to cross the line!”
“All right, tell me your story.” I nodded and asked him to tell me more details.
“Yes, here’s the story. I opened a hotel in Baotou, and everything was nice in the beginning. After all the decorating work was done, I decided to hold the grand opening ceremony. I invited my friends from both worlds. However, something unexpected happened that night!”
When he came to this part, his face slightly changed. “Since it was the grand opening, we had huge discounts. The liquor on the first floor was free. I had many visitors. In the end, some people drank too much and got into a fight. One person died and two were seriously wounded.”
“Wait, are you sure that the fight has something to do with an otherworldly item?” I didn’t know if I should cry or laugh.
The man said, “Mr. Zhang, please listen to my story first. As the two sides fought, they soon realized that one person was dead. They all rushed out of the hotel in a hurry. As they ran away, they created a stampede. Two more people died. One of them was the son of an important local official.”
Blady was so angry that bad things had happened during his grand opening ceremony. However, he had to deal with the consequences in the best way he could.
Usually, he would compensate the victims’ families with a few million renminbi. But since the official had lost his son in old age, he didn’t accept the compensation. He insisted Baldy was jailed.
Since Baldy had a turbulent past, if he was investigated, his deeds would surely come to light. He was scared. He begged for help while making preparations to flee.
However, things didn’t end there. Something happened at his hotel again…
The kitchen on the first floor had a fire. In principle, even if it caught on fire, they would be able to extinguish it easily since the hotel was well equipped.
But no matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t put out the fire. Before the fire truck came, the fire had already reached the third floor.
In the end, the fire was extinguished, but the hotel was burned to a mess. Baldy thought that someone had schemed against him and swore to take revenge.
He checked the CCTV countless times, but he couldn’t spot any suspicious person. Instead, he discovered that the fire seemed to have escaped and burst from the ground!
Baldy wasn’t convinced. He called some of his henchmen to dig the kitchen floor. He wanted to see what was underneath. His henchmen hadn’t dug the floor deep enough when they started to foam at their mouths, collapsing. They all died within the next three days. Although Baldy was an atheist and a member of the mafia that wasn’t new to the sight of blood, he was really scared this time.
He knew his hotel was haunted. He decided to tell the full story to the official that wanted to imprison him.
The official was an experienced old man. After he listened to the story, he kept silent for a long time. In the end, he said, “No matter if it was a ghost or a human, you have to investigate and make it clear. Otherwise, I’ll see you in court!”
Baldy didn’t dare to linger. He tried to find a master everywhere. In the end, he found me through the Circle.
“Oh shoot. What kind of vicious item is that?” Li Mazi’s face changed. However, a gleam of greed flashed in his eyes.
If that evil thing was a real otherworldly item, its price would be over the top. My heart somewhat itched. However, I was afraid it wasn’t an otherworldly item but a fiend instead.
The symptoms of the men who dug the ground were very similar to those of people possessed by fiends. Grandpa used to tell me a lot of stories about them.
I told Baldy, “I can go there and take a look. But if I can’t solve it, I will leave immediately.”
Baldy nodded repeatedly. I understood that he was scared and that any opportunity was like the straw that could save his life.
I asked Li Mazi to get some stuff. Then, we drove with Baldy to Baotou in Inner Mongolia. We spent the night there. Early the next morning, Baldy came to take us to his hotel.
Indeed, his hotel had just opened. They hadn’t cleaned up the confetti and firecrackers at the entrance yet.
Gold-sparkling words were written on the highest floor: Moon Overshadowing Beauty.
The hotel was sealed with cordons. We had to get in from the backdoor. At first glance, the entire lobby was pit-black with charred furniture and burn marks everywhere. A leather sofa had been burned to the steel frame. A lavish chandelier was shattered. Pieces of crystals were everywhere on the ground.
I pitied Baldy. Although he was in the mafia, his money came from his hard work. Now, he had lost everything.
“It seems I don’t have good fortune in this business. After everything is solved, I will find a peaceful place to retire. I will not do business anymore!”
Baldy sounded open-minded. I gave a half-smile and asked him to bring me to the kitchen where the fire had started.
Baldy nodded. When he pushed the kitchen door, I saw the mess inside. Bowls, pots, and pans were everywhere. The porcelain tiles had been lifted. A few shovels were scattered by a small hole.
I knew it was the place where the fire occurred. I studied it carefully.
Soon, I found something strange. Since it was a big fire, the place where the fire started should have been damaged the most. But despite the disarray in the kitchen, there was no burning mark or charred spot there. It looked like nothing had ever happened!
Li Mazi also recognized this. He shot a doubtful glance toward Baldy. “Are you sure the fire started here?”
“Absolutely!” Baldy confirmed.
I frowned. If so, the situation was odd. To check the danger level of the thing underneath, I took out my compass and squatted by the small hole.
At first, the compass needle stayed still. I thought my compass was broken and thought of giving it a good pat. But before I could do anything, the needle started spinning very fast!Previous Chapter Next Chapter