Jiang Lan’s eyes widened in surprise. He wanted to refuse the offer.
How can I forget that Ying Qiao’s boss was also in the Special Service Branch?
At that time, he looked at Cheng Hua like looking at a potential competitor.
More competitors, less bonus money…..
Cheng Hua was confused.
Why are you looking at me? I don’t want to go.
Ying Qiao was unaware of their unwilling looks. With a smile full of intimidation, he said to Cheng Hua.” Boss, did you just say you are very idle these days? How about lending a hand to Jiang Lan?”
He wanted to shout to Ying Qiao: Do you really not know how full my schedule is?
Of course he didn’t dare to do that.
In an instant, his expression changed into a standard smile worthy of an exemplary employee.” All right, let’s go take a look.”
Ying Qiao turned to Jiang Lan with a more genuine smile.” Let’s go. We can hitch a ride on my boss’s car.”
He was at a loss for words, unable to find a proper excuse to refuse Ying Qiao’s offer. At a final resort, he said.” I am afraid I have troubled you too much, by the way, I haven’t bought the Fua scroll written with spell to dispel evil spirit yet.”
Under the menacing gaze of Ying Qiao, Cheng Hua instantly said.” I haven’t got an assignment for a long time. It’s about time to get a new one.”
Ying Qiao.” You don’t need to buy Fu now. My boss is perfectly capable of writing one for you.”
Jiang Lan gave a desperate look to Cheng Hua and thought to himself: how come a boss was this idle while being so capable?!
Cheng Hua returned a gloomy look: I don’t want to take part in this. He forced me.
They both turned away without understanding each other’s unwilling looks.
Jiang Lan finally got into the car with Ying Qiao.
With Cheng Hua filling the role of a boss, the driver’s part fell to Ying Qiao.
Jiang Lan was asked to take the passenger seat. Ying Qiao explained.” My boss prefers to be alone in the rear, undisturbed by us.”
Being unfamiliar with the rules of the office, Jiang Lan had to believe Ying Qiao’s explanation. But he increasingly felt regret at the prospect of losing his bonus money.
He could only comfort himself by thinking that he was no longer lacking money after an infusion of capital into his account by his old brothers and turning over control of the assets under his name.
Gradually, he could let go of the regret.
The three of them first bought the yellow paper and red ink to write Fu, then went straight to Xue Meng’s home.
On the way, Jiang Lan related the whole story leading to his discovery of the red mushrooms. Even though Cheng Hua wanted to stay out of it at first, this story piqued his curiosity.
He had never seen a mushroom turning into a monster.
With a thoughtful look, Ying Qiao said.” Does this mushroom look like a red umbrella?”
Jiang Lan nodded.” Do you know what it is?”
Ying Qiao.” I heard a friend of mine once said that there was a mushroom called Red devil Umbrella, with an inborn capability to attract resentful ghosts.”
This friend was Geng Chen.
Red Devil Umbrellas prefer to grow in the shade. With a shape like a red Umbrella, it attracted resentful ghosts. This mushroom could absorb the lingering malice as nourishment in the resentful ghost. The more malice concentrated in one place, the more red devil umbrellas were able to grow.
Just because Red Devil Umbrella chose to grow in places where malice was concentrated, they couldn’t survive long. Once a capable cultivator followed the scent of malice to discover such places and dispelled the malice, these Red Devil Umbrellas were in turn uprooted.
Geng Chen led a very nomadic life, travelling through every part of the southern land. In doing so, he witnessed many strange events.
After he came back, he had no one to tell this mysterious tale, except to Ying Qiao.
This had happened a long time ago. He didn’t expect evil creatures like Red Devil Umbrellas to still exist in modern times.
Jiang Lan had never heard about Red Devil Umbrellas, but he paid close attention to “resentful malicious ghosts”.
In modern society, evil spirits like resentful malicious ghosts became increasingly rare, unlike before. Otherwise, the Special Human Bureau cultivators wouldn’t be so idle that they overstepped the boundary to walk into the turf of the Monster Bureau to compete for cases.
Only under certain conditions, with unfinished business and lingering hatred, the spirits of a deceased person could turn into a resentful ghost and linger in this world.
But the cause of Chen Ruomei’s death was an accident. How come she had such hatred?
Jiang Lan’s thought turned to Xue Meng, and the misfortune befell him.
He remembered Xue Meng said to him that when he passed by the manhole where the tragedy occurred, he paused to listen to people gossiping and asked: did the police apprehend the client?
The spores of Red Devil Umbrellas must be selective in choosing their hosts. Otherwise, the entire Hong Jing Apartment Complex population wouldn’t be spared the fate of becoming their hosts.
Apparently, the hosts must meet specific criteria. Based on the experience of Xue Meng, Jiang Lan speculated that those hosts must all take part in the spreading of Chen Ruomei’s rumor.
And the rumor of Chen Ruomei being a prostitute appeared to be fabricated. He believed that this rumor was entirely baseless.
From the news, Jiang Lan remembered nothing was being mentioned of her being a sex worker. Her occupation was reported as being a bar waitress, and this must be verifiable. He also remembered the name of the bar. A search of Baidu Chinese Equivalent of Google confirmed this bar being a legitimate business.
On the other hand, every hosts Jiang Lan met talked about her being a sex worker as if this was an established truth.
Xue Meng was no exception. He didn’t say it outright, but he used the word”client”, implying that she was a sex worker. So he ended up becoming a host. The only difference was that he didn’t mean to use this word to attack the character of Chen Ruomei, so the Red Devil Umbrellas failed to entice more malice from him to use as nutrients for their growth. This explained his mild symptoms.
But these were just pure speculations, and there were crucial points he needed to verify.
Xue Meng had already received Jiang Lan’s message, and he showed up earlier at the entrance to greet them.
After Jiang Lan told him about the red mushrooms lodged in his throat, he began to suspect every part of his body was in bad condition. He not only coughs uncontrollably but also was out of breath. While at the entrance, he was pacing back and forth with an anxious look.
He almost shed tears when he spotted Jiang Lan getting out of the car.” My Dear daddy, you are finally here.”
Ying Qiao threw him a glance and remained silent.
Cheng Hua giggled.” Jiang Lan, your son is almost a grown-up!”
Nonsense, I don’t have a son like this.
Considering Xue Meng’s pitiful state, he didn’t say it. He said to Cheng Hua.” Boss Cheng, may I trouble you to take a look at him.”
Cheng Hua gestured for Xue Meng to lead the way, and Xue Meng obligingly led them to his home.
After they were home, Cheng Hua first examined his throat. After spotting the tightly packed red devil umbrellas, he appeared disgusted by the creature. Still, he didn’t say anything because Xue Meng’s face had a miserable look.
Xue Meng pleaded.” Master, Can I be cured?”
“Sure thing.” Cheng Hua had learned a few skills from Daoist Monks, and writing Fu was part of the skill set.
“I will write a Fu, and you will drink it mixed with water.”
He brought out a yellow paper and wrote with red ink on the paper. He took about ten minutes to write an evil-dispelling Fu, then he burned the Fu, sprinkled the ashes into a bowl of water. He handed the bowl to Xue Meng.” Drink it and then go to the toilet to empty your stomach.”
Give it a thought, he added.” After you finish, you must flush it clean. If I were you, I would shut my eyes while doing this.”
There were some flames still burning in the bowl, and Xue Meng was a little scared. He gave Jiang Lan a look, and he nodded to him. Closing his eyes and gritting his teeth, he poured the water down his mouth.
He was surprised that the water didn’t burn him. Instead, the water felt icing cold. After he drank it, a feeling of warmth began to spread in his throat, followed by intense nausea. Covering his mouth, he hurried to the toilet.
He grabbed the toilet to throw up. After ten minutes, his feeling of nausea began to subside.
Following Cheng Hua’s advice, he closed his eyes for the duration. But when he stood up to flush the toilet, he opened his eyes without thinking. A toilet full of red mushrooms filled his eyes. Most of them looked alive with stalks wriggling. The whole scene could be described as disgusting.
Xue Meng wanted to throw up again.
Half an hour passed before he finally emerged from the toilet.
Cheng Hua saw his white face and began to admonish him as if he knew what he had done.” I told you not to look.”
I want to replace my eyes with a pair of new ones that didn’t see those things.
Getting rid of the Red Devil Umbrellas was worth a little suffering. Looking at Xue Meng’s white face, Jiang Lan asked one more devil dispelling Fu from Cheng Hua.
This one didn’t need to be burned into ashes. It was sufficient to carry it in person as a precaution against spores.
Before leaving, Jiang Lan recalled the two women he met in the morning. Xue Meng’s grandfather also lived in Hong Jing Apartment Complex, so he asked Xue Meng to ask his granddad if he recognized the women with the photo he gave him.