This dinner ended with Jiang Lan disingenuously echoing Ying Qiao’s praise for the Ying Dragon.
He couldn’t understand why Ying Qiao acted like a diehard fan at the mere mention of the Ying Dragon. Had the Ying Dragon brainwashed him?
Jiang Lan didn’t understand Ying Qiao, but he cherished his friendship. So he didn’t contradict his praise for the Ying Dragon. He even humored him by going along with his praise purely out of courtesy.
Finally, Ying Qiao left in high spirits.
Jiang Lan received the delivery of the aquarium and gemstones he ordered the second day.
The aquarium was small-sized; it perfectly fits the corner of his desk. After he cleaned it thoroughly, he poured the white sands unique to the Dragon Palace inside and laid the corals and rocks one by one. The shop owner Stone Goblin sent him a bag of gemstones, which he casually spread out on his desk; the colorful stones were particularly shining under the morning sun.
Jiang Lan placed Jiao Tu among a pile of gemstones, asking him to choose.
He could keep the stones he loved the most as toys, and the ones he liked would be used as decorative stones in the aquarium. And the stones that didn’t meet his approval would be left to Jiang Lan, who liked to eat them as candies.
Jiao Tu picked the biggest and most shining yellow gemstone and a green gemstone slightly smaller in size. Jiang Lan put these two stones inside his conch. Now, these two stones had an uneven shape. But Jiao Tu had a unique way to grind and polish them, to make them presentable. He would occupy himself with these stones for a while. When he was done with them, a new pair of gemstones to decorate his conch would be in order.
While they were busy with the stones, the office was empty. But after they finished selecting and started to decorate the aquarium, they heard Xiao Xiaoyu’s gasp.” Oh, my. Jiang Lan, are you ready to confess to everyone that you are from a very wealthy family?”
She had seen the Rolls-Royce delivering stuff to Jiang Lan. So at this moment, it didn’t occur to her to question whether these gemstones were real or fake.
But decorating an aquarium with gemstones? It was incredible how these rich people spend their money!
Xue Meng was one step behind her. Only hearing the last part of what she said, he was confused.” Who is wealthy?”
Then the gemstones on the desk attracted his attention.” Did you win the lottery? Jiang Lan, you strike it rich.”
Jiang Lan blinked his eyes slowly and was all innocent.”No, are you talking about the stones? Those are faux gemstones, made of glass.”
Xiao Xiaoyu was visibly relieved at hearing this. After all, there was a world of difference between knowing him to be a wealthy man and seeing a rich man pour a pile of valuable gemstones on the desk as if they were nothing.
The latter would cause a lot of pressure.
Luckily, Jiang Lan wasn’t this outrageous.
Xiao Xiaoyu came closer to inspect these gemstones curiously.” They looked so real. Just like the gemstones the jewelry shops have on display.”
Xue Meng picked one up.” A faux gemstone like this doesn’t look cheap to me.”
Is it too much to use them to decorate an aquarium?
As he was decorating the aquarium, Jiang Lan pushed a pile of gemstones that didn’t meet Jiao Tu’s approval to them.” A friend of mine gave it to me. His family was in the jewelry business. These faux gemstones were very cheap. So he gave them to me as toys. Pick two gemstones if you like them.”
As if to back up his story, he picked up a round red gemstone, and gave it to Suan Ni as a toy.
Suan Ni touched the gemstone, but apparently, he wasn’t interested.
Unlike the Little Nine, who was such a gemstone maniac, he only cared about food.
At this moment, Zhan Tianxing walked in. Suan Ni jumped to his desk with the red gemstone between his teeth. When Zhang Tianxing walked to him, he wagged his tail and placed the red gemstone on his palm with a meow.
This was to return the favor.
Zhang Tianxing kept staring at the gemstone. He didn’t hear Jiang Lan claiming they were faux gemstones. But Growing up in a wealthy family, he knew the difference between a real and a fake gemstone.
With the red gemstone in his hand, he glanced at the pile of gemstones on Jiang Lan’s desk. He didn’t expect Nini to have a wealthy family, which made him feel a little disappointed. Now it was out of the question he could seduce Nini away with his wealth.
His face had a look of disappointment, and he brought out some new snacks for Suan Ni but chose to stay out of the discussion beside him.
When the gemstones were offered to them, Xiao Xiaoyu and Xue Meng were a little awkward. But after seeing Suan Ni play with it as if it didn’t worth much, they didn’t hesitate and picked one.
Xiao Xiaoyu was glad.” The bracelet I am making now just needs a stone like this. They would go perfectly together.”
Xue Meng said in an obsequious voice.” Could you make one for me?”
Xiao Xiaoyu rolled her eyes.” Get out!”
Xue Meng.”How about a meal of crayfish?”
Pausing for three seconds, Xiao Xiaoyu agreed.” Deal.”
While they were bantering, Jiang Lan had finished decorating the aquarium. Colorful gemstones were scattered among white sands, shining under the bright sun.
He picked up Jiao Tu and placed him gently in the aquarium.
This immediately stopped their banter. Xue Meng screamed.” This is alive?”
He always thought it was a work of art.
“Have you seen Nini feed him?” Xiao Xiaoyu couldn’t help rolling her eyes again, suspecting he was blind.
But she was also curious.” Is he a snail or sea conch? You raise him as a pet?”
In his dealings with Ying Qiao, Jiang Lan had perfected his two premium skills, which were lying without blinking and lying without flushing.” Oh, yes, it is a sea conch. My friend’s pet. Now he is on a trip overseas. So I was asked to take care of him.”
Xiao Xiaoyu and Xue Meng bought his lies and stared at Jiao Tu curiously.
Jiao Tu felt a little awkward, trying to hide behind a cluster of red corals.
Xue Meng shouted like three hundred ducks decided to quack at the same time.” Oh, he is moving, he is moving, he is alive!”
Xiao Xiaoyu instantly took three steps away from him while looking at him contemptuously like he was a country bumpkin.
Jiang Lan didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.” His name is Jiao Tu, very shy.”
Xue Meng had never seen a pet like this. He stayed by the aquarium to watch him until office hours.
In the afternoon, Chief Cheng convened a small meeting, discussing how to organize their country campaign during the Dragon Boat Festival to help raise the villagers out of poverty.
A village had already been assigned to their office. This village was very poor and isolated, called Three Water Village. Every office had to send four people on this campaign, and they would take turns staying there for a week.
Their office had only six people, including Chief Cheng, and usually, this hard task would fall to the young people.
Chief Cheng gave them a brief description of this village.
Three Water Village located on the border between Hanyang and Caiyang District and consisted of around fifty families. Because of its remote location and infertile lands, the villagers led almost isolated lives in the early years. However, in recent years, Jiang City’s economy enjoyed exponential growth, and the poverty alleviation campaign led by the government started to gather momentum. In this environment, this isolated village had shifted into focus.
Their isolation combined with illiteracy provided a fertile ground for the spread of superstition. Under its curse, the villagers always rejected outsiders, believing their intrusion into the village would bring bad luck.
In this poverty alleviation campaign during the Dragon Boat Festival, their main aim was to bridge the gaps between them and villagers, establish a good relationship, and put the villagers off their guard. After their job was done, more poverty alleviation workers would follow up by establishing a permanent office there, with the cooperation of the village committee.
So the tasks fell to Jiang Lan, and his colleagues were not only about providing warm assistance to the villagers. They were also required to educate villagers, eradicate their superstitions, and restore their confidence in modern society.
Chief Cheng didn’t like long speeches. After an hour-long meeting, which laid the groundwork and guidelines for their campaign, they were dismissed to further work on the plan.
Jiang Lan returned to the office with a pile of documents from last year.
The moment he sat down, his phone rang. Wang Qing called him.
With the phone between his ear and shoulder, Jiang Lan spoke on the phone while reading documents.” Hello? Wang Qing? How may I help you?”
Wang Qing’s voice on the phone sounded a little anxious. He quickly described the situation at hand and said.” Could you come by my office after getting off work?”
After Wang Qing finished talking, Jiang Lan’s face grew grim. He stopped reading and went outside.” Are you sure it is not a normal murder case?”
Wang Qing sounded a little downcast.” I am sure. My childhood friend works in the Caiyang District Criminal Investigation Department. Last night, he and his colleague were on a routine surveillance job. But we lost contact with them in the morning. My friend used to be a member of the special force in the army and was quite good in combat. He wouldn’t disappear like this in normal circumstances, even if he had a direct encounter with the suspect. This case had many anomalies; you will see when you are here.”
Checking the time, Jiang Lan said.”Ok, please share with me your location; I will be on my way.”