"Director, headquarters sent over the information about the last offering of the Yin Sacrifice ritual, Ji Qingchen," Ping Qianru carefully examined Xuan Ji's face, feeling that it was full of the numbness of despair from being strangled by fate, "Um... do you want to hear it?"
Xuan Ji, whose privacy was now at risk, said with a gloomy face: "Speak."
"Ji Qingchen, born locally in Dongchuan, was expelled from high school for fighting. After that, he worked for a while in a pyramid scheme organization, which was later disbanded by the police. He then worked in a folk shop as a casual laborer for a year. Perhaps inspired by this experience, he later became obsessed with "occultism" and began selling folk remedies, fortune telling, and other things, accumulating a lot of experience in fraud and deception. In recent years, with the development of the internet, he has been attracting attention by posting bizarre videos online, while also scamming people offline."
"He's also a swindler who specializes in 'Internet Plus.'
You young people may not know the tricks of these swindlers in the area, so let me tell you,' Luo Cuicui may have felt that his previous performance in front of the new leader was not heroic enough, and he was eager to show his presence and restore her reputation.
She quickly added, 'First of all, you have to specifically target people who are rich, idle, superstitious, and imaginative.'
"Are you talking about the boy who was infected by the Mirror Flower Water Moon Butterfly?" Yang Chao joined the discussion. "I remember he lives with his mom?"
"That child's parents are divorced, and the mother and son rely on the child support provided by his father to make a living. His mother doesn't have a formal job, and besides playing mahjong, she watches her child all day," Ping Qianru lowered her head and flipped through the information. "But the child's father is in business and is quite wealthy. He gives a generous amount of child support every month, so the mother and son can be said to have 'plenty of money and free time.'"
Luo Cuicui said: "Yes, after investigating the background of the victim, the first step is to let the child go 'undercover', preparing a script like 'who are your family, what happened recently'... "
Yang Chao hesitated and asked, "Are there still people falling for this kind of thing? Don't they have public service announcements on TV every day?"
"The gullible ones don't watch public service announcements, and besides, there's the next step - 'acting mysterious.' First, talk about the past of the victim's family. If they don't believe it and suspect that I've investigated them, then I'll predict their future. Generally, I'll say something like 'you have a bit of financial luck this month' or 'you need to be careful in the next few days, someone's trying to trip you up.' Eight or nine times out of ten, it'll be accurate," said Luo Cuicui, spitting as he spoke.
"For example, when your investment matures, your company gives you a bonus, or your stock goes up, that can be considered 'financial luck,' right? The scammers target people who have money, so it's normal for them to have some extra income every month. Or, if it's the end of the year, end of the quarter, or end of the semester, whether you're working or studying, you're busy, and it's normal to have a little problem in the midst of all that, which can be explained as 'usual bad luck,' or of course, it could be explained as 'someone trying to trip you up.'
"If the scammer is really unlucky and the victim has no extra income or problems, then it's also easy to handle. They can find someone to throw five yuan in front of the victim's house or have a few hooligans puncture the victim's car tire, and then say that it was predicted - at this point, people who were a bit skeptical can believe it about seventy to eighty percent."
Ping Qianru asked curiously: "How can you make the victim believe it completely?"
Old Luo raised a finger and shook it: "Don't take money."
"Don't take money?"
"Yes, don't take money. As long as you’re not paid, you can say anything. The last step is to tell the victim 'you will have a disaster of blood and light at a certain time, my Taoism is too shallow, I can't save you', don't say it too clearly, be vague, for example, 'you know who you have offended', let the victim figure it out himself, and then run away before the victim comes to the door for the second time. If you don't take a penny and run away, the victim will be more and more afraid when he goes back, and when people are afraid, they will have no reason."
Yang Chao rubbed his always red nose: "What if the victim is scared away and seeks help from others?"
"No way, even swindlers in the jianghu have their own turf. Everyone knows each other in a certain area. If you want to stay here for a long time, no one will stop you.” Xuan Ji took over the conversation and turned to Ping Qianru, “Fatty, you make up an identity and leave a message under the video of that little mustached man. What were the symptoms of those who were cheated before?”
“Oh, they said it was like epilepsy, and also like being possessed. They were babbling and raving, they knew what was going on in their minds, but it was like they were 'possessed' and couldn't control their bodies. They could only occasionally take advantage of the 'possession' when the ghost was tired and send a message for help to their families...except for the last boy, all the messages for help were written in ordinary words. Director, you don't think these jianghu swindlers are really using Mirror Flower Water Moon Butterfly to hurt people and swindle money, do you?”
Xuan Ji's expression was somewhat solemn.
According to the records in the Thousand Demon Bestiary, the typical host of a human-faced butterfly parasite does not have such a symptom of 'ghost possession'.
When the butterfly first landed on a person, it would imitate the host in everything. Whatever the host thought, the butterfly would make the body do it. So at first, the host would not feel that their central nervous system and body circuits were cut off. After a few days, the host would find that there were some uncontrollable small movements, such as twitching and trembling, but most people would think that they were just too tired and wouldn't think too much about it, until the butterfly controlled the host unconsciously and suddenly removed the disguise and no longer followed the host's own thoughts. The host would suddenly 'lose' control of their body and be completely helplessly trapped in their body until their brain died.
But the butterfly on that boy's body was already a mutant species. It was feared that these swindlers had somehow obtained the Mirror Flower Water Moon Butterfly eggs and created a mutant species through their reckless actions. They had no idea how terrifying this thing could be and were just playing with fire.
But then again, both the Thousand Demon Bestiary and the heavenly demon called the butterfly a 'human-faced butterfly'. The atlas did not write where the butterfly came from. Does the Demon Head know?
Xuan Ji's gaze fell on the heavy sword in his hand, wanting to pull the heavenly demon out and ask.
As soon as this thought arose in his mind, the originally meditating Sheng Lingyuan suddenly experienced a huge shock in his spiritual sea. He was startled awake and his divine senses were almost injured. A sound like the striking of a Huangzhong bell reverberated in his ears, asking "Where does the human-face butterfly come from?"
Sheng Lingyuan's ear buzzed, and in that moment, Xuan Ji felt that the connection between him and the heavenly demon in the sword was re-established. Countless messy memories surged into the other's mind, and a few shocking pictures flashed by—the corpses on the ground, men, women, old and young, piled up in thousands, and all the dead eyes were looking at him.
Xuan Ji felt a chill in his back, but before he could understand it, those messy pictures and thoughts were suppressed again.
Sheng Lingyuan's thoughts fell silent again, and he was forced to enter the state again.
Xuan Ji was startled by Ping Qianru's voice: "Hmm...what?"
Ping Qianru was very good at observing words and colors. She always felt that there was a hint of shock on his face: "Do you have any other instructions?"
Xuan Ji waved his hand: "No, everyone should go and do their work."
After a moment, a "high reward for help" post quietly hung under the video that Ji Qingchen would never update again.
Ji Qingchen's place was where all kinds of swindlers and superstitious enthusiasts gathered, and not long after the fishing post was put up, they received various private message replies.
The people from the Aftermath Department searched and collected various information separately. Xuan Ji pretended to browse web pages and slowly ran his fingertips over the sword. He thought of the scene just now and had a vague guess in his mind, deciding to conduct an experiment.
He stared at the heavy sword, concentrated his energy, and thought in his mind: "Mr. Demonic Person who likes to float in wine, do you like to eat green peppers?"
If Sheng Lingyuan had a physical body, he would have been driven crazy by Xuan Ji's interference - his meditation was interrupted again, but this time it wasn't a voice that broke into his consciousness. Instead, it was an unfamiliar plant scent, both spicy and strange, with a strong smell of grass and wood.
Xuan Ji immediately felt the sword grow several degrees colder, and a surge of killing intent rushed towards him. He hid his face behind the computer screen, and the small mole in the corner of his eye rose up, revealing a wicked smile: "Oh, it looks like you don't like it."
Sheng Lingyuan had strong self-control and quickly suppressed his emotions: "What do you want?"
"A new round of negotiations."
Xuan Ji crossed his legs and said, "You see, senior, you can activate and release the meditative state without my permission, which makes it very inconvenient for me. As the sword’s master, I can also knock you out of the meditative state without your permission, which will also make it very inconvenient for you. Why can't we agree on a way of getting along that is comfortable for both of us?"
Sheng Lingyuan: "For example?"
"Knock on each other's doors, and let's all be polite, sir." Xuan Ji said, "You promise to give me a signal before and after each meditation session, and I promise to save up any questions and not bother you unnecessarily. How about that?"
The heavenly demon was good at sweet talk. If he were in the business of telecommunications fraud, he would surely have a remarkable record. But in reality, he didn't like to waste words. As soon as Xuan Ji finished speaking, he felt a sudden movement in his heart. Then, a simple and elegant wooden door appeared in his consciousness. The door was propped up by a stone frame, and the two clean door panels had few decorations, except for the natural patterns on the wood itself. There was no door handle, and a pair of smoothly polished stones were inlaid where the handle would be.
It looked like it could be knocked on.
As soon as Xuan Ji thought of this idea, he heard a "ding" sound, like the sound of a silver bottle lightly colliding, and a long resonance emanated from the stone inlaid on the door.
Sheng Lingyuan said succinctly, "This will be our signal.""
After finishing speaking, the two door panels "snapped" shut automatically from the inside, representing that Sheng Lingyuan had cut off the contact between the two using a meditation method.
Xuan Ji likes anything with a sense of design and has a collecting addiction– his entire bookshelf is filled with figurines. He usually can't resist antique furniture and old record shops, and because of his collection of odds and ends, he rented a two-bedroom apartment in a prime location and lived in poverty.
As soon as he saw this door, he was struck by something and was fascinated by it for a long time. He regretted that the things that others had put in his consciousness couldn't be captured with his phone.
What did this person, who called himself "Sheng Lingyuan," do before he became a demonic being? His taste is so good. However, the design of this door doesn't seem to be the style of the Central Plains people; it's more like that of an unknown ethnic group.
Xuan Ji suddenly became curious about the identity of "Sheng Lingyuan."
At this moment, Ping Qianru interrupted his appreciation of the artwork, "Director, look at this reply."
Underneath their post, someone had sent a question: "Are these symptoms that appeared after the tenth of last month?"
"This is a new account," Ping Qianru said. "The tenth of last month... isn't that the time we deduced the boy was infected with the butterfly?"
Xuan Ji made a short-term agreement with the heavenly demon, his thoughts temporarily liberated, and his brain began to function again. He immediately focused his attention back and asked, "Ask him how he knows."
Ping Qianru immediately replied as instructed, and the other party sent a private message after a while without answering and asked another question: "Where does your bewitched relative live?"
Xuan Ji pulled up a map of Dongchuan and pointed to a certain area, and Ping Qianru replied, "In Beixiaoba."
The "relative" that Xuan Ji and the demon king were talking about was not fabricated out of thin air- they had borrowed the identity of a real person. This person was a small-time thug who lived near the infected boy's home. He idled around all day, robbed children of their pocket money, and was quite despicable. He had a conflict with the infected boy after the boy was infected with the Mirror Flower Water Moon Butterfly, probably because he was particularly brave in his attempt to rob the boy. He appeared to be quite chubby and unfortunate enough to be chosen as a host by the butterfly, and he is currently being secretly quarantined by the Bureau of Paranormal Control.
The other party responded quickly this time, "He's from Beixiaoba, so does he know this boy?"
A picture was attached below, and it was the infected boy.
Both sides exchanged a few words back and forth, and the other party was able to extract various pieces of information about their fabricated identities. Xuan Ji and the others could basically confirm that this was an informant who knew a lot and was likely the undercover agent of Ji Qingchen who never appeared in public.
At the end, the other side said: "I know Teacher Ji. He recently went on a long trip and is not in the local area. Before he left, he left something with me, probably expecting someone with a connection to him to come and ask for help. I can try to help you, but don't expect too much, be prepared for anything."
Finally, the other person said, "I know Teacher Ji. He's been traveling lately and isn't in town. He left something for me before he left, maybe for someone who's meant to find him for help. I can try to help you, but it might not work, so be prepared."
Ping Qianru immediately replied, "Whatever amount of money you want is fine, as long as you can save the person."
After hesitating for a moment, Ping Qianru quickly added a sentence under Xuan Ji's signal, "I can give you half of the money first. Whether it works or not, you don't have to return it as long as you can help me contact Teacher Ji."
The other party, seeing that they were foolishly rich, responded quickly. As soon as Ping Qianru finished talking about giving the money, they immediately provided a time and location to meet, without any masterful aura.
Xuan Ji said, "Let's go!"
The plane flew through the clouds, and the emblem of the Bureau of Paranormal Control on the tail fin was edged in gold by the sun. It was a pattern of two vines tightly wrapped around a sword. It landed at Dongchuan Airport with a whistle.
The field agents of the local sub-bureau were isolated because they were suspected of being infected with the Mirror Flower Water Moon Butterfly, but fortunately, the reception car and driver were still available. The people of Dongchuan were rich, and even the level of the public bus was two grades higher than that of the economically underdeveloped area of Chiyuan Grand Canyon.
As the car drove on, the heavenly demon probably needed to take a breath. Xuan Ji heard a "ding" from the depths of his sea of consciousness and immediately collected his thoughts and prepared himself.
Although Sheng Lingyuan had no conscience, he was really polite. As long as he didn't reach the point of turning his face and killing people, this heavenly demon was not stingy with his thoughtfulness. After "knocking on the door," he waited for a while, as if giving Xuan Ji time to straighten out his clothes. Then Xuan Ji's consciousness had a faint noise--another consciousness "woke up" from a state of concentration.
Sheng Lingyuan didn't come out to "take a breath". He wouldn't be so restless that he couldn't sit still for even a moment. For a cultivator who was able to go into seclusion and concentrate on cultivation for ten days or even a month, it was strange that he suddenly had a lot of distracting thoughts as soon as he arrived in Dongchuan.
Has he been here before?
He couldn't remember.
Dongchuan was a big city with complex roads and bridges and towering skyscrapers. It was also the peak season for local tourism in mid-autumn, so the roads were congested with people.
As they moved with the flow of traffic, they were close to dusk when they arrived in the city. Walking side by side with a red sunset tour bus, Sheng Lingyuan looked out through the sword blade standing vertically by the car window and saw a group of middle-aged and elderly people wearing small orange hats singing loudly at him, "Fearless and unyielding, brave fighting, until those opposing are completely eliminated!"
Sheng Lingyuan: "..."
What kind of place is this, how can it be so noisy?
After moving for about half an hour, they finally arrived at an intersection. The tourist bus turned a corner, and Sheng Lingyuan's view suddenly opened up. He saw the suburbs of Dongchuan City at a glance. The distant mountains were like black ink, the clouds were not flowing, and the stars of lights gradually rose from the foot of the mountain and dissipated between the clouds and mists.
Xuan Ji's temples suddenly jumped inexplicably, and he felt a picture flashed in the sword's heart - under a huge pear tree, the petals were like snow, and several children with blurred faces jumped from the tree, and a few incomprehensible songs came from a distant place...
That scene disappeared in a flash, and Sheng Lingyuan realized that his thoughts had leaked out, and immediately concentrated on eliminating distractions.
Xuan Ji inexplicably floated a melody in his heart, which just matched the song just now.
Sheng Lingyuan in the sword was stunned: "How do you know this song?"
"Familiar," Xuan Ji scratched his face, "Maybe I heard it somewhere... Some shops like to play niche songs - what is this?"
There was no sound from Sheng Lingyuan's side, not knowing whether he forgot or did not want to answer, Xuan Ji felt that he was looking at the scenery outside the window intently, emptying his thoughts, and unkindly began to loop a single song in his head.
When they arrived at the agreed place with the criminal suspect, Xuan Ji's head had been washed clean and only this foreign language song was left.
The place where they prepared to catch their fish was a small park rarely visited by people. Old Luo drove a van and pretended to be the poster, pulling Yang Chao along. After Yang Chao's protests were ineffective, he temporarily acted as the unlucky child who had been "possessed" and was tied up into a zongzi with layers of bandages, his face painted with bruises and swelling, creating a miserable "possession" effect, and was placed in the back seat of the van.
Xuan Ji and Ping Qianru sat in another car and waited.
Ping Qianru looked at Xuan Ji hesitantly, not daring to ask. Their department's mysterious new director was replaying the news broadcast of the day on his laptop computer, as if doing a "listen-only" listening test, occasionally quietly repeating one or two words, as if preparing to play translator to a foreign friend.
Ping Qianru had always been afraid of others' gazes. After the third grade of elementary school, she basically lost the ability to raise her hand to answer questions in class. For the "fishing action," she could only provide technical support and was afraid that Director Xuan would improvise and give her a cameo.
Suddenly, a "rustling" sound came from the walkie-talkie, and Luo Cuicui reported, "Director, someone is coming."
Xuan Ji quickly closed his laptop with a "snap." He had excellent night vision and could see from afar a middle-aged man with a wispy beard. He walked to the agreed place with a bent waist, hunched back, floating steps, a heavy illness on his face, a vigilant and frightened expression, and moved around surreptitiously.
Being interrupted while following the broadcast to learn Mandarin, Sheng Lingyuan said, "Hey," and interrupted, "What a fierce and murderous aura."
"What does that mean?" Xuan Ji asked. "Does this guy kill people too?"
"No," Sheng Lingyuan looked through the car window for a moment, "It came from elsewhere."
Luo Cuicui got out of the car to greet the goat-bearded man and said something to him. Old Luo had a miserable expression, giving him the perfect image of the victim's family. The man looked at him for a moment, hesitated, nodded, and then pointed to the car next to him, indicating that he wanted to see the "possessed" person.
Old Luo quickly opened the rear compartment of the bread car and took out Yang Chao to show him. The interior of the bread car was dimly lit, and Yang Chao's appearance was in place. There seemed to be a faint resentment floating above his head, which could be said to be quite sincere in being "possessed." However, Xuan Ji noticed that the moment the car door was opened, the goat-bearded man did not even glance inside the car, and his feet moved back a step.
Wait a minute... Something is wrong. The other party has sensed something!
Xuan Ji made a decisive move: "Catch him!"
Luo Cuicui immediately grabbed the man's arm and said, "Master, where are you going? Don't leave!"
The goat-bearded man pushed him hard, turned and ran, but was hooked by the overgrown green ivy at his ankle and fell flat. Before he could climb up, Xuan Ji had already stopped him. At that moment, a huge black hole suddenly appeared behind the goat-bearded man, and several white bone claws stretched out from it. One of them caught the goat-bearded man's neck, and the others grabbed Xuan Ji. Xuan Ji raised his hand and raised the heavy sword. The sword blade was burning, and when it hit the white bone, it made a tooth-aching sound.
Xuan Ji and Sheng Lingyuan had a high degree of tacit understanding at this critical moment. Xuan Ji thought: "Take the opportunity to kill the demon in the sword!" Sheng Lingyuan thought: "If this little devil can die like this, wouldn't it be clean?" Xuan Ji ignored it and sent the heavy sword into the white bone claws. At the same time, he felt that the other end of the sword was stuck on his hand, and the sword body quickly transmitted the blood gas to him—
The friendship alliance between the two was like plastic, and it broke just like one too.
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