The man appeared to be in his early thirties, of average build, wearing a pair of wide-framed glasses. He had a string of sandalwood prayer beads on his wrist. At first glance, he seemed like a typical human being.

After getting off the car, the man took out a mobile phone from his pocket and switched to the camera mode. With the hospital building as the backdrop in the dimly lit surroundings, he took a plain selfie and recited the following lines: “On September 1st, 20XX, at 21:23, carrying out a special mission at Longcheng Second Hospital on Baota East Road, Dongcheng District. Agent: Lin Jing. Mission complete.”

A black SUV screeched to a halt behind him, and Zhao Yunlan rudely unbuckled his seatbelt and jumped out of the car. “Get your head out of the clouds and hurry up!” he shouted at the man.

Taking selfies when things were critical—Zhao Yunlan fumed with anger. He thought, what the hell is wrong with these people? The only ones under his command were either non-human or mentally challenged.

The entire hospital was enveloped in a dark aura, with no one else around. However, all the passersby on Baota East Road seemed oblivious to it.

Zhao Yunlan dialed the phones of Guo Changcheng and Shen Wei one after another, but both were out of the service area. He muttered a curse under his breath and forcefully kicked open the hospital’s main entrance.

A mass of black mist suddenly lunged at him. Zhao Yunlan barely paused, swiftly ducked down, and pulled out a small dagger from his pants leg. With a nimble step and a quick blade, he split the shadow into two halves.

More dark figures rushed out from the hospital, and Lin Jing, who was following closely behind Zhao Yunlan, drew a gun while reciting Buddhist scriptures, ensuring no one escaped her aim.

“What’s with the new guy? Does he have a problem with his fate?” Zhao Yunlan looked at the corridor, which was now completely blocked by shadows, feeling as if he had entered a drain clogged with hair. “He attracts vengeful spirits at the school and ghosts at the hospital. Stick him into a mythological novel already; he’s practically a summoning banner.”

Lin Jing replied, “May the Buddha’s mercy… I will hold a ritual for him.”

Zhao Yunlan didn’t mince words with his old subordinates. “Cut the crap. Either speak normally or shut up!”

Lin Jing calmly completed the other half of her sentence: “…emptiness is form.”

“Your uncle!” Zhao Yunlan snapped.

After a moment of silence, Lin Jing earnestly advised, “Boss, refrain from anger, refrain from lust.”

It must be because of these people that he developed such a profound aversion to work!

Taking a deep breath, Zhao Yunlan held the small dagger in his mouth, pulled out a yellow paper talisman from his pocket, and ignited it with a lighter. The paper burst into flames instantly, creating an uncontrollable blaze. The mass of shadows that hadn’t had a chance to retreat was engulfed by the flames, which burned with the ferocity of the undead. Countless helpless ghosts were licked into the inferno, and the entire corridor seemed to be filled with a fiery dragon, roaring and obliterating any obstacles in its path, like a gas explosion.

Lin Jing chanted, “Amitabha Buddha, may the Buddha’s mercy…”

Zhao Yunlan sighed, his face filled with resignation.

Half a minute later, only a small flame the size of a bean remained at the end of the corridor. The towering blaze from moments ago seemed like a mere illusion, a burst of fireworks.

Zhao Yunlan walked over in big strides, bent down, borrowed the tiny flame, lit a cigarette, waved at Lin Jing, and pushed open the door at the end of the corridor, continuing forward.

Meanwhile, the three people hiding in the storage room were unaware that their rescue was just within reach. The scratching sound of the ghost outside the door became sharper and more urgent. Guo Changcheng’s breathing grew increasingly rapid, his nerves stretched to the brink of collapse, invisible threads on the verge of snapping.

Shen Wei had no choice but to ignore him and asked the cat, lowering his head, “What should we do now?”

Daqing, clearly a cat with extensive life experience, responded calmly, “Don’t worry. Just hold on a little longer. Zhao Bureau probably understood what you said during the phone call. He’ll come to rescue us.”

Shen Wei asked, “By himself? Is that safe? How will he get in?”

Daqing found his concern rather ridiculous and weakly wagged his tail. “Don’t worry. He’s tough. A few little ghosts can’t kill him.”

Shen Wei furrowed his brow, leaned against the wall, and pondered. “Can’t we save ourselves?”

Daqing glanced at him and named each living creature present, one by one. “Our fighting team consists of a mortal, a useless person, a vegetable-like state, and me—a mascot. Do you think the four of us can find a steamer to lie in and squeeze through the teeth of the hungry ghosts?”

Shen Wei argued, “Didn’t I smash it into several pieces with a chair earlier?”

Daqing: “That’s because it was hungry earlier, eager to feed, caught off guard from behind. You two young guys have strong yang energy, making it somewhat weak. That’s why it fell into your ambush. Now, this hospital is filled with heavy yin energy. It chased after us all the way, which is like having multiple boxes of Nao Baijin. It might even be on fire… Oh, damn it, why is there another one?”

As Daqing was speaking, a series of sharp laughter from children suddenly interrupted him. Shen Wei lowered his head and saw a pale-faced girl, about five or six years old, squatting on the ground. She was laughing strangely while playing with the black cat’s tail. Before he could clearly see if the little ghost had fangs or not, he felt a weight on him—Guo Changcheng clung to him like a koala.

“Help!” The police officer who had just tearfully vowed to protect him desperately clung to Shen Wei, trembling with snot and tears. He shouted at the top of his lungs, finally letting out his heartfelt words after being held in for a day and night. “There’s a ghost, a ghost!”

When the little girl died, she was young and possibly not fully mentally developed, maybe a little crazy. She found a new form of entertainment and immediately abandoned the black cat. Floating to Guo Changcheng’s feet, she looked up at the bear-like uncle. While Guo Changcheng squinted his eyes and cautiously looked down, she suddenly stuck out her tongue, rolled her eyes, maintained her upward-facing position, turned her head three hundred and sixty degrees on her neck, and finally swayed in mid-air.

Guo Changcheng’s eyes rolled three times and then returned to normal. He almost fainted for half a minute but never succeeded in losing consciousness. He clung tightly to Shen Wei like a koala, trying to climb up. At the same time, he shouted with all his might, “Ghost!”

Shen Wei stood there stiffly, as if standing at attention, silently pulling up his waistband to prevent his pants from being pulled down by Guo Changcheng. From the scene of the ghost scratching the door behind them and the little girl turning her head, he found a sense of bizarre comedy.

After walking only a dozen meters, Zhao Yunlan’s watch, “Mingjian,” turned blood-red, with the hands detaching from the time scale and spinning wildly like a compass. After spinning for a while, it was still unable to find any reason—it was just that there were too many impurities interfering with the normal functions of “Mingjian.”

Zhao Yunlan shouted at Lin Jing, “Fake monk, my damn watch is malfunctioning again. Hurry up and do something. There are people waiting to be saved.”

Lin Jing sat cross-legged on the ground upon hearing this, closed his eyes, held the prayer beads in his hand, and moved his lips incessantly, looking just like an old monk in meditation. However, Zhao Yunlan was accustomed to his antics. Although he appeared impatient, he didn’t say anything, crossing his arms and waiting on the side.

After a while, Lin Jing suddenly opened his eyes and shouted, “Got it!”

The sandalwood prayer beads in his hand rattled, and then Lin Jing, like a great immortal, stood up expressionlessly, pointing in a certain direction with certainty. He said, “This way.”

Zhao Yunlan followed the direction he pointed and walked forward, casually asking, “Why so fast this time?”

With Lin Jing behind him, in his usual calm and unhurried tone, he replied, “Both of them are males, young and naturally full of yang energy. Even with Daqing, the black cat, in the midst of overwhelming yin energy, they still stand out.”

Zhao Yunlan was taken aback. “Both males? Wasn’t there supposed to be a little girl with them?”

Lin Jing asked, tilting his head, “Who is Shen Wei? I heard the new guy’s surname is Guo.”

Zhao Yunlan couldn’t be bothered to explain much to him and simply said, “You don’t know him.”

Lin Jing fell silent for a moment and then said, “Every time you send me away like this, it’s when you’re dressed up like a scoundrel and meeting your university’s beauty queen. Whenever you start fidgeting and acting secretive, it must be because you’ve encountered a beauty—hey, at least let me know, is Shen Wei a man or a woman?”

Zhao Yunlan replied in a gloomy tone, “Amitabha, form is emptiness.”

Lin Jing remained silent for a moment and then said, “…”

Zhao Yunlan entered the gloomy and narrow corridor, lifted the lit lighter, and surveyed his surroundings. The corridor was interconnected like a dead spider’s den.

Why did Lin Jing say that Li Qian wasn’t with Shen Wei and the others? Did they really abandon the girl alone, or… did they just “assume” they were taking her along?

Just then, “Li Qian” quietly opened her eyes in the corner of the storage room.