“After coming back from the investigation, we need to write a routine report. I type slowly, so you do it,” Chu Shuzhi poured a cup of tea and leisurely sat back in his chair. “I’ll dictate.”

Guo Changcheng immediately sat upright in front of the computer, as if he were about to take charge of a major project.

The Special Investigation Department was deserted, with only drifting souls remaining. The Criminal Investigation Division was illuminated by the sole light in the pitch-black darkness, like a beacon in the middle of the sea in the dead of night.

Shortly after they sat down, there was a knock on the door. After Chu Shuzhi called them in, a hot tray flew in. Upon closer inspection, it didn’t appear out of thin air. The one holding the tray was a headless person, missing a section, blocked by a large dinner plate.

There were two sets of tableware on the tray, along with four dishes and a soup, and two large bowls of rice. The headless ghost floated in the air with its feet dangling, lightly placing the items on the table. It somehow produced a bag of cat food and filled Daqing’s food bowl.

Daqing maintained a dignified posture and nodded gracefully. “Thank you. It would be even better with some extra strong milk.”

…Certain TV shows really should have a disclaimer at the beginning: “Intellectually impaired children and the incredibly stupid fat cat should watch with adult supervision.”

The headless ghost floated gently in front of the refrigerator and took out a bottle of milk to fill up Grandpa Daqing’s bowl.

Guo Changcheng had become accustomed to the environment at No. 4 Bright Road. Gradually, he realized that the difference between humans and ghosts wasn’t significant. Some ghosts had good hearts. For example, every time someone worked overtime to write a report, this headless buddy would thoughtfully bring a hot meal, making Guo Changcheng, who only had twenty yuan left after leaving the post office the day before, feel the warmth of spring.

After finishing their meal, Chu Shuzhi leisurely drank his hot tea and said to Guo Changcheng, “Here’s the general idea. As for the format, you can find a previous report and make some adjustments to the language… The victim wasn’t poisoned but was cursed by a malevolent spirit… Yes, it’s a grudge, and the victim experienced unbearable pain in the lower extremities. The death curse of the spirit is likely a result of external injury. The victim had a black spot on the forehead, red eyes, and karmic lines under the eyelids, but they weren’t deep. There was a black merit mark behind the ears, but it was extremely shallow. It should be related to someone other than the cursed spirit. The crime doesn’t warrant this level of punishment. Based on preliminary judgment, the cursed spirit likely engaged in serious criminal activities…”

Guo Changcheng widened his eyes, and his hands began to lie lifelessly on the keyboard—he couldn’t understand and couldn’t keep up with Chu Shuzhi’s words.

Chu Shuzhi sighed, stretched his legs, and turned to ask the bewildered child, “Is there anything you don’t understand?”

Guo Changcheng: “What is a karmic line?”

Grandpa Daqing, with his face buried in the milk, raised his head, a black beard with a white ring around it. He didn’t even bother to lick his lips and, in a voice full of foodie characteristics, angrily said, “What’s wrong with Zhao Yunlan? It seems like he’s either perpetually drunk or consumed by lust. Doesn’t he do any real work? Hasn’t he even trained the new employees? This kid doesn’t know anything?!”

Chu Shuzhi couldn’t allow a cat to insult their leader, so he said, “Zhao Division has been busy with the demolition recently. If that matter is settled, we can move to a private villa with a large garden next year. You can have a big cat house hanging in the tree to guard the bird’s nest.”

Grandpa Cat hesitated for a moment, his anger slightly subsiding. After a while, he decided to accept this reason in exchange for guarding the bird’s nest. He shook his beard and condescendingly explained to Guo Changcheng, “A karmic line is cause and effect. For example, you’re walking down the street, and an assailant comes out and kills you for no reason. That’s no cause and effect, so there’s no karmic line. If an assailant comes out and sees that you’re blocking his way, so he stabs you to death, that’s because you were in his way, so it’s cause and effect, but such a karmic line is very shallow and can easily be wiped away with a hand. If an assailant comes out and realizes that you’re the one who had an affair with his wife, causing him to seek revenge on society, and he becomes enraged and kills you, that kind of karmic line can’t be wiped away by hand, but it won’t be particularly intense either. It indicates a connection but not a matching cause and effect. If an assailant comes out…”

Guo Changcheng, who had been killed by the assailant several times, couldn’t help but interrupt, “If he realizes that I’m his archenemy, the one he intends to kill, and stabs me to death, then the karmic line would be deeper, right?”

Daqing shook his head and wiggled his brain, saying, “You’re teachable.”

Guo Changcheng asked, “Then… what is the merit mark?”

Chu Shuzhi continued, “People with merit or sins will have marks behind their ears. For example, if someone unknowingly kills another person without the police finding out, and they don’t face legal punishment, a black mark will appear behind their ears. In the past, it was referred to as ‘diminishing yin virtue.’”

As for people with great merit… Chu Shuzhi glanced at Guo Changcheng. He could see a distinct white mark behind Guo Changcheng’s ear, emitting a thick and gentle light. However, this kind of radiance wasn’t visible to everyone. Even with opened heavenly eyes, one would have to concentrate intensely to see it.

Guo Changcheng pondered, “Is the black mark like a handprint stained with soot?”

Chu Shuzhi was taken aback. “Have you seen it before?”

Guo Changcheng nodded and explained what happened the previous night when he bumped into someone.

Daqing listened and sneered, “Even ordinary passers-by can see it with their naked eyes. That guy is probably not far from being struck by lightning.”

Seeing Guo Changcheng’s confusion, Chu Shuzhi explained, “The human eye can’t see the merit mark. The one you encountered probably wasn’t human. The reason why practicing monsters don’t casually harm others is because they are constrained by the merit mark. When the merit mark becomes sufficiently dark, it will attract thunderous punishment. Being struck by the Five Thunderbolts is no joke. Not only would the punished monster be affected, but other minor monsters in the same area might also be implicated. So, to avoid bringing calamity to others and prevent troublemakers from arising, every year, the monster clan holds a year-end banquet to assess merits and faults. If there are excessively outstanding cases, they are dealt with internally.”

Guo Changcheng listened, partially understanding. “So, if a person commits many bad deeds, will they be struck by lightning too?”

“No,” Daqing said, flicking its tail and jumping to the ground, curling up into a fluffy ball and nestling behind the heat vent. “Haven’t you heard the saying, ‘Mend bridges and roads, but lose your sight; commit murders and arson, many times over’? The human world has its own rules. Most people only have one life without reincarnation. Their lives are so short that they pass away before cause and effect are realized. Each life is insignificant, and the heavens can’t be bothered. So sometimes, cultivating merit as a mortal is not very useful… But maybe if you do enough good things, you might get lucky occasionally, but it’s not guaranteed. For example, your merit is quite substantial, but you’re still a hapless cabbage.”

Guo Changcheng, an orphan since childhood, lost his parents and had poor talent and a mild personality. Although Zhao Yunlan always jokingly said that he would bring him good luck, to be fair, Guo Changcheng’s blessings were not deep. Despite having a broad back, he had an unfortunate fate.

“Really? Do I have merit too?” Guo Changcheng was extremely surprised to hear this. “I have bad luck? No, my luck is pretty good. It’s just that I’m not capable enough.”

He felt that he had no abilities or skills. Even his aunt and uncle felt sorry for him and never deducted anything from his portion, sometimes making him appear wealthier than his peers. Even when he grew up, he remained a useless person. Yet, his second uncle forcibly pushed him into such a good job. The leaders and colleagues all took care of him, allowing him to stay—how is that not good luck?

The black cat, whose eyes were about to close, opened them and looked at Guo Changcheng. A golden light flashed in its green eyes.

Before it could express any opinion, Zhao Yunlan suddenly entered with a cold and alcoholic aura and asked hoarsely, “How’s the report coming along?”

“Oh…” Guo Changcheng was about to speak and report, but he saw Zhao Yunlan suddenly wave his hand and stagger into the bathroom, vomiting.

Chu Shuzhi and Guo Changcheng hurriedly followed, while Daqing “tsked” and slowly extended its fat paw from under its body, wobbling left and right as it walked over. “Stupid humans.”

The pale-faced Zhao Yunlan covered his stomach and leaned against the side. Chu Shuzhi patted his back and instructed Guo Changcheng, “Why did you drink so much? Little Guo, fetch a cup of warm water.”

After Zhao Yunlan vomited once and rinsed his mouth, he staggered to his feet and smiled wryly. “A bunch of bastards teamed up to get me drunk. What can I do?”

Chu Shuzhi said, “Stop talking nonsense. If you really didn’t want to drink, who could force you?”

Supporting himself against the wall, Zhao Yunlan walked out and said, “I just had a breakup. Can’t a person drown their sorrows in alcohol?”

“Ah, Professor Shen doesn’t want you anymore? The eyes of the people’s teacher are indeed discerning. The masses find it delightful,” Daqing brushed past him, “Oh, the end of the year is closely monitored. You’re not drinking and driving, are you? If you get caught, you’ll spend half a year in the station.”

Zhao Yunlan tersely replied to the chubby cat, “Get lost!”

He found a chair to sit on and slouched down like a dead dog. “Little Guo, go get Wang Zheng and bring all the documents that require my signature. Old Chu, tell me what this is all about.”

Chu Shuzhi explained the relatively simple matter in a few words. Zhao Yunlan thought for a moment. “Alright, let’s hurry tonight and finish the report. I’ll wait. After you finish writing, I’ll stamp and scan it, and I’ll try to receive a response tomorrow. I don’t want to delay it for another day.”

Chu Shuzhi had no problem; after all, it wasn’t him who had just vomited up the bitter gallbladder.

Wang Zheng, who came downstairs later, poured him a glass of honey water. Zhao Yunlan didn’t see what she brought because he couldn’t even open his eyes. He carelessly grabbed a pen and scribbled before waving his hand at Wang Zheng and the man standing behind her like a spirit, saying, “Stop flaunting your affection in front of a miserable bachelor. Get lost!”

When Chu Shuzhi and Guo Changcheng presented the preliminary research report for him to sign and seal, Zhao Yunlan had already taken a nap with his head on the desk.

It was only after Daqing punched him several times on the back that he woke up. Daqing asked, “I forgot to ask you, where’s my luxurious bird nest treehouse for cats?”

Zhao Yunlan, still half asleep, said, “…Fatso, I want to kill you and eat you.”

Daqing jumped onto his shoulder with a flattering tone and rubbed against his hand. “Of course, our leader is capable. By the way… the bird nest you mentioned, it would be best if it had bird eggs inside…”

Zhao Yunlan flicked its big head with his fingers and wiped his hand on the desk.

“Stupid cat,” he said coldly, “you shed all over my hand.”

Having said that, without waiting for Daqing to get angry, he quickly signed the documents, stood up, and said, “I’m leaving. You two have worked hard today.”

Chu Shuzhi asked, “Wait, how did you come here?”

Zhao Yunlan replied, “By taxi. I’ll take a taxi back.”

Guo Changcheng kindly said, “It’s late, and it’s cold outside. It’s not easy to find a taxi in front of our door. How about I give you a ride… Ah!”

Chu Shuzhi fiercely stomped on his foot under the table and swiftly jumped up, pressing Zhao Yunlan onto the chair. With his Shadowless Hand, he took Zhao Yunlan’s phone from his pocket. “Professor Shen is probably on vacation. Let me call him to pick you up.”

Zhao Yunlan said, “…”

This burly man must not want to know who he’s treating as a chauffeur!

He reached out to snatch his phone, but Chu Shuzhi agilely avoided him and commanded Guo Changcheng, “Hey, quickly hold him down, hold him down! What’s wrong with him? He’s looking at you with completely strange eyes. I don’t believe Professor Shen can keep his mouth shut for so long.”

Zhao Yunlan was restrained by Guo Changcheng and the meddlesome Daqing… Daqing even loyally sat on his stomach, almost making their leader out of breath and passing out.

Zhao Yunlan said, “No, I’m begging you, don’t make trouble, alright?”

Chu Shuzhi raised an eyebrow at him, and Shen Wei’s voice came through the phone, “Yunlan? What’s wrong?”

Just one ring and he picked up. Comparing it to the treatment he couldn’t even get from his own father, Chu Shuzhi gestured to Zhao Yunlan—Director Zhao, you’re amazing! How can this be considered a breakup?

Chu Shuzhi cleared his throat. “Oh, Professor Shen, it’s me. Our leader drank too much today and whoever he catches, he’ll hug them. It’s causing chaos in the office. Look, could you kindly come over and take him away?”

Zhao Yunlan grabbed a penholder and threw it at Chu Shuzhi’s head. Chu Shuzhi dodged it by tilting his head backward and said into the phone, “No, no, it’s nothing. That drunk cat is smashing things. Um… alright, we’ll take care of him. Please come over quickly. No. 4 Mingming Road, 2nd floor, Criminal Investigation Department. See you later!”

Zhao Yunlan pointed at him and said, “…You bastards.”

Daqing wagged its tail. “That’s right—we’re bastards. Big dumb guy, what can you do?”

As the most innocent accomplice, Guo Changcheng found himself the target of Zhao Yunlan’s death glare and could only adopt the ostrich technique, curling himself into a shivering mushroom.

Before long, Shen Wei arrived.

He raised his hand to knock, but the door of the Criminal Investigation Department’s office was opened from the inside. Someone was unexpectedly thrown out, and Shen Wei quickly caught him. Zhao Yunlan ended up plunging into his embrace.

Zhao Yunlan, who could barely stand, still had some fighting spirit and pointed at Chu Shuzhi in the office, saying, “Little bastard, just you wait.”

A smile squeezed out from Chu Shuzhi’s bitter melon face. “Ah, you really scared me.”

Shen Wei couldn’t help but cry and laugh, gently pressing Zhao Yunlan’s trembling hand. “Alright, alright.”

Zhao Yunlan, whether he was really dizzy or felt embarrassed to see him, shifted his attention by saying, “I won’t deal with you today, but you don’t know how many eyes the Horse King has.”

Then he tried to break free from Shen Wei’s embrace.

Shen Wei sighed and nodded at the people in the room. “Sorry for the interruption. I’ll take him away now.”

After that, he wrapped his arm around Zhao Yunlan’s waist and clenched his wrist, preventing him from thrashing around, and forcefully dragged him away.

Daqing stood at the door, looking meaningfully at the departing pair, and suddenly said, “I have a subtle feeling of being overturned. Our boss is such a despicable person. He probably wouldn’t… Well, comrades, what do you think?”

Chu Shuzhi gave a kick to its chubby buttocks.