Despite working late last night to save the residents of the whole apartment complex, Jiang Lan still had to get up early to go to work.
Wednesday was a bright and breezy day. The sun was already shining in the early morning. Jiang Lan cycled to work while sipping yogurts.
The celebratory mood in the office greatly surprised him when he walked in.
Wearing a red T-shirt and a red string on his wrist Red was considered an evil-dispelling color in China, Xue Meng was distributing a box of snacks in high spirits.
Jiang Lan heard Xiao Xiaoyu teasing Xue Meng.” So you finally left your single life?”
Xue Meng was dismissive.” It’s more important than my love life!”
I am still alive!
Then he put the snack box on Jiang Lan’s desk and warmly led Jiang Lan to his seat while speaking to him in an ingratiating tone.” This snack is for you.”
Jiang Lan didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.” What are these snacks for?”
“I think I need to celebrate after surviving such an ordeal.”
Because they were in the office, Xue Meng didn’t go into detail. Instead, he showed Jiang Lan his phone screen.
On the phone screen was a piece of local news. The title was very attention-grabbing: Model citizens turned killers. Three women committed murder out of jealousy.
As expected, the news reported last night’s events.
After Xu Meifang’s death, two Police cars showed up in the apartment complex. The local newspaper soon got wind of this and published the story the following day. Even though the Police was still investigating and hadn’t announced anything related to this case, the fact that the Police had taken Tan Zhi and Xie Guizhen into custody, who not a long time ago was praised by local newspapers for their heroic rescue efforts, had already generated much buzz in the news and social media.
Many locals had already heard about Xu Meifang’s bizarre death and the Xie Guifang, Tan Zhi’s madness. The local news didn’t mention any supernatural forces. Still, the comments under the news made all kinds of speculations, hinting that the victim’s ghost had her revenge.
No one was in the know, except for Xue Meng.
In his mind, he had already come to the conclusion that Xu Meifang’s death had something to do with the bizarre red mushrooms, and if he didn’t know Jiang Lan, he might be in mortal danger. Waves of fear would overtake him whenever he pauses to think about this.
That’s why he wore the red string on his wrist his mother bought from a temple, put on a red T-shirt to dispel any lingering evils, and brought a box of snacks to the office.
“The story came out soon?”
In this new age, the internet facilitates the spread of information. As he was reading the comments section below the news, an idea sprung to Jiang Lan’s mind that he could use social media and news media to renounce the rumors about Chen Ruomei.
But this must involve the Police, and he needed to talk with Wang Qing about it. After making a mental note of this, he turned his attention to Xue Meng.” How do you feel? Do you still feel uncomfortable?”
Xue Meng shook his head. After having a good night’s sleep, he had already felt normal again and full of energy.
But he was still a little worried. He whispered to Jiang Lan.” Those things were already taken care of?”
Jiang Lan nodded.” Yes, now the case has been taken over by the Police.”
Xue Meng was greatly relieved after hearing this, and he was wise enough not to press for more details about last night’s events.” Do your big brother and Master Cheng have time for dinner? I have to express my gratitude to your guys.”
Jiang Lan was briefly confused by what he meant by big brother.
He wanted to explain but thought better of it because it was too complicated.
“I will let you know when they are free.”
This Thursday, Jiang Lan had to give another flu prevention awareness-raising session to an apartment complex. So he spent the whole day preparing for it. Luckily, Xue Meng’s “cold” was gone, and he offered to share the work and took a load off Jiang Lan’s shoulder.
After focusing on his work for a while, Jiang Lan stretched his back and rose to get a cup of warm water. He needed to take his eyes off the computer screen to rest his eyes.
Seeing his brother was taking a break, Suan Ni ran to him from Uncle Zhou’s desk and jumped to his lap with a beef jerky between his teeth. He pushed the beef jerky to Jiang Lan with his paws, indicating it was for him.
Suan Ni had become Uncle Zhou’s favorite. After giving him a handmade nest, Uncle Zhou kept offering him various toys and snacks, treating him as if Suan Ni was his grandson.
Jiang Lan stroked his fluffy ears and divided the beef jerky into two, one for himself and one for Suan Ni, who sat on Jiang Lan’s lap with tail wagging.
Jiang Lan smiled and picked up his phone to check the messages.
In the time when he was working, Ying Qiao had sent several messages to him.
Ying Qiao told him that the Red Devil Umbrellas had been turned over to the Monster Bureau and were in the detention center. The Bureau was still debating what charges to bring against them.
According to their confession, their bodies sustained damage a thousand years ago. Their souls had since fallen into a slumber, becoming spores scattered everywhere. The blood and hatred of Chen Ruomei woke them up from their slumbers. Because they were very weak after their long slumber, they made a pact with Chen Ruomei to help her have her revenge in exchange for her becoming their nutrients to help them grow strong.
Perhaps because Chen Ruomei’s suffering and death were so tragic, they took pity on her. They spared her soul, only absorbing the essence of her hatred. In their attempt to take revenge for her, they broaden the scope of targets on their own initiative to include anyone who spread the rumor. Xu Meifang and her friends were no longer their only targets.
If their motives were understandable, they had gone too far with their schemes, releasing too many spores to seek hosts, and they were losing control with their greed. They wanted to absorb ordinary people as nutrients because their regeneration would need a large number of nutrients. If Jiang Lan and his friends didn’t stop this, Xu Meifang wouldn’t be their only victim.
So the Bureau was considering the appropriate charges to bring against them, equal to their crime of excessive retaliatory action and causing harm to humans.
Because of the sparse monster population, the death penalty was rarely imposed except in extreme cases. Ying Qiao told Jiang Lan that they would most likely serve their sentences working in the detention center.
It was thought reasonable to give them a chance to redeem themselves.
What’s more, their unique abilities made them perfect candidates for a job in the detention center.
The spores these two Red Devil Umbrellas released could go into every corner of the detention center, serving as a kind of surveillance camera. Their employment would be advantageous to the detention center, not to mention the cost-cutting benefit.
Jiang Lan asked how they took care of Chen Ruomei’s ghost and those ordinary people hosted by the spores.
Ying Qiao said that after the Daoist Monks next door performed a spiritual ceremony for her, her soul had already departed this world to be reincarnated in another life.
As to the ordinary people hosted by the spores, the Red Umbrella sister and brother recalled the spores. Most of them will have mild cold symptoms and recover soon.
So the part of the case involving the Monster Bureau was concluded. The Police will deal with the rest.
After replying to Ying Qiao’s message, Jiang Lan sent Wang Qin a message, suggesting to use social media and news media to renounce the rumor about Chen Ruomei. And later, the Police indeed took up his idea and issued a public announcement clearing her name.
After an intensive awareness-raising session on Friday, Jiang Lan received a call from Uncle Gui nearing the end of office hours.
Uncle Gui was originally a sea tortoise. In the early years when the Dragon King was still alive, he served as his prime minister. After the fall of the Dragon King, Bixi took over the Dragon Palace, went to look for his brothers in exile, and returned them home one by one. Since then, Uncle Gui had been responsible for taking care of the Dragon’s sons.
Uncle Gui began to live a semi-retired life after the Dragon’s son left the Dragon Palace again in recent years. But even though he was relieved of many duties, he still insisted on taking care of the Dragon’s sons personally.
For example, Uncle Gui selected and delivered all Jiang Lan’s clothing for every season.
This time, after Jiao Tu woke up and wanted to see Jiang Lan, Uncle Gui escorted him here.
On the phone, Uncle Gui sounded a little hesitant and careful.” His Highness the Ninth Dragon Son asked to see you, said he doesn’t want to remain at home alone.”
Since the last time when the Dragon Palace showed up in force to escort Jiang Lan to his new job in the Monster Bureau, which Jiang Lan understandably blamed for his friendless life, Jiang Lan had forbidden anyone from the Dragon Palace to visit him in his workplace.
That’s why Uncle Gui was reluctant when Jiao Tu was no longer willing to remain in the Dragon Palace alone and wanted to come to see Jiang Lan.
He heard His Highness the Fifth Dragon son was getting along with his new colleagues in the new office. If their visit revealed his real identity a second time, he was afraid that His Highness would get angry and don’t want to see anyone again.
But he was surprised to find Jiang Lan in an agreeable mood.” No problem, Please escort him over.”
Uncle Gui was very pleased. After he assigned several shrimp and crab soldiersTL’s note: The famed Dragon Palace army mainly consisted of shrimp and crab soldiers, to save the cost of equipping them with armor to the task of cleaning Jiang Lan’s flat and putting away the stuff they brought here, he brought Jiao Tu with him to the Street Administration Office.
Jiang Lan had already waited at the gate and waved to them when he saw the approaching family car.
Getting out of the car, Uncle Gui took in every detail with a loving look in his eyes.” Your Highness has put on some weight.”
Jiang Lan touched his face without thinking.” You think so?”
Uncle Gui was affirmative.” Oh, yes, Your Highness looked much better than the last time we met. This place must agree with Your Highness.”
Compared with before, the little Tao Tie was full of spirits, his face shining.
Jiang Lan laughed and glanced at the passenger seat.” Where is the Little Nine?”
“His Highness rarely travels this far. So he might need a little time to get used to the new place. Now he doesn’t want to get out of the aquarium.”
When he mentioned this, a look of helplessness appeared in his eyes. He opened the trunk to reveal a giant aquarium.