Chief Huang was about to reach out and push the door, when Xiao Zheng, half a step behind him, quickly caught up: "I'll do it."
Xiao Zheng was wearing a plain ring, with a circle of runes inscribed in it. When the ring touched the door, a sharp white light quickly flashed through the runes, and the door made a "clicking" sound.
Xiao Zheng's expression was unchanged, he stepped in first and opened the door for Chief Huang. He quietly said, "Don't touch anything here, it's not safe at the 'Penglai Conference'."
Chief Huang's face grew serious, but he was not flustered. He patted Xiao Zheng's shoulder and stepped in - it was an old-style hotel's conference center, rented out in its entirety. There was a temporary sign at the door that read "Penglai Cultural and Art Conference".
Chief Huang and Xiao Zheng, accompanied by several field agents, walked into the building and the door shut behind them with a loud "bang". At that moment, the sound from outside the conference building was completely silenced.
The field agents warily surrounded Chief Huang, the only ordinary person present, with Xiao Zheng leading the way. The alarm lights of their special power monitors kept flashing. Suddenly, Xiao Zheng stopped in his tracks and looked up at a stone sculpture at the top of the stairs – the sculpture was originally an ornament of the hotel conference building, depicting a graceful little fairy, but the stone material was cheap, making it look a bit creepy.
The stone fairy stood with a green-faced melon-seed shaped face, with a missing piece that seemed to have fallen off, as if to frighten someone.
As they approached, the stone sculpture suddenly moved, making a sound as it turned half a circle, turning from side to face Chief Huang and them, then gliding towards them, almost close enough to touch them. The field agent next to Chief Huang stepped forward and stood in front of him, almost face to face with the gloomy stone fairy.
Xiao Zheng raised his eyebrows suspiciously, thinking that the other party was deliberately trying to intimidate the ordinary Chief Huang.
Although Chief Huang was an ordinary person who could not shoot water or fire, he was not an incompetent person to be able to reach this position. He kept a calm expression, raised his hand to press the shoulder of the field agent, and politely bowed his head to the stone sculpture: "Is this the legendary 'Jade Lady'?"
The stone sculpture backed up a few centimeters, opened its mouth and spoke in human language: "Chief Huang, long time no see - Xiao Team Leader... No, it should be called Director Xiao now, you’re still as energetic as before. "
Xiao Zheng nodded with great care and said nothing.
"Please come with me." The stone sculpture looked deeply at Chief Huang, dragging its heavy stone body and sliding towards the elevator, "Your old friends have arrived."
The Bureau is the only official agency for special power management, but not all "special abilities people" are official personnel.
Due to the hereditary nature of those with special abilities, there are many special ability families and sects. They have a deep source of knowledge, are trained from an early age, and the secret techniques of each school are not disclosed publicly. There are many special ability masters with strong individual capabilities. These well-known masters often look down on the so-called "official personnel" and are unwilling to be managed by them.
From the official point of view, these people are all potential factors contributing to social instability and must be supervised.
Finally, both sides compromised and agreed to set up the "Penglai Conference" as a self-regulatory organization for special ability organizations, led by the leaders of major special ability forces, and the Bureau also has a seat in it.
The stone sculpture took the people of the Bureau to a large conference room on the second floor of the building. The conference room may have been renovated in the last century: white walls, several decorative maps hanging on the walls, two rows of cheap red and brown conference tables, and on the tables, nothing but thermos cups and enamel pots.
The participants were seated in two rows, regardless of gender, with an aura of power - the hairline was high, the corners of the mouth were low, and "their full wisdom could not be hidden, with potbellies protruding out".
As soon as Chief Huang and Xiao Zheng entered the door, the big shots turned their heads in unison, and various subtle glances fell on Chief Huang.
Although the Bureau has strict confidentiality regulations, the news still spread out as though they had wings. The news of the Mirror Flower Water Moon Butterflies shocked the special ability circles of the whole country.
After the news leaked, countless inquiries came one after another. In the Penglai Conference, except for the Bureau, several representatives unanimously pushed for an emergency session of the "Penglai Conference" to ask the Bureau for an explanation.
The circle was full of people, only two seats were empty, as if they were specially reserved for them. Xiao Zheng saw the arrangement at a glance - the Bureau was the official representative, and it was natural for them to sit in the main seat at the Penglai Conference. Although when the former chief was in charge, he had voluntarily given the main seat to an elder, he still remained sitting next to the main seat.
However, the seat arranged for Chief Huang was not only far away from the main seat, but also several hundred miles away.
What does this mean?
Ordinary people are of a lower class?
Director Xiao felt a chill, and his brows furrowed as he was about to lose his temper. However, Chief Huang seemed to have anticipated his outburst, as he held him back without making a sound and shook his head. Chief Huang then greeted the old lady in the seat of honor, as if nothing had happened, and pulled Xiao Zheng to an empty spot and sat down calmly, seemingly paying no attention to these small movements.
The old lady sitting in the seat of honor had white hair, looked to be around sixty years old, was not tall, and had light makeup on. There was even a small silk scarf tied neatly around her neck. She spoke and moved gently, and her manners were exceptionally dignified, giving her an old-fashioned lady-like air.
"Little Huang, is it?" The old lady asked slowly. "I'm already so old, I don't need to introduce myself, do I?"
Chief Huang: "Old Lady Yu."
Old Lady Yu was the host of the Penglai Conference. She usually lived in the northeast, and even the big shots had no idea of her full name. Even though she was only a few years older than Chief Huang, she still called him "little Huang" with a kind expression, and neither Chief Huang nor the old director of the Control Bureau dared to feel offended.
Some people said she was already over three hundred years old, while others said she was even older than that, and was an old "Qingping Division official".
"Little Xiao is much more restrained than when I last saw you. Seeing you young people grow up, with a new wave replacing the old, I can rest assured," Old Lady Yu spoke coldly and politely to Chief Huang, and when she turned to Xiao Zheng, her tone was much more kind, as if she was talking to her own child.
Xiao Zheng gave a reply, not taking it seriously, as Old Lady Yu had seen too many "waves" come and go, and there was no room for her to be kind.
Sure enough, after the brief exchange of pleasantries, Old Lady Yu's tone changed: "Everyone is busy, let's just get straight to the point. Little Xiao, I read your explanation--so, what you mean is that the Bureau just wants to do an internal investigation, and handle it quietly?"
Xiao Zheng felt this was inappropriate, especially when Old Lady Yu seemed to be talking only to him, as if Chief Huang wasn't there.
There was a gap between extraordinary and ordinary people. The Bureau, as an official organization, didn't dare to admit this gap out of political correctness, while the special ability masters were unrestrained.
It's as if they weren't born of mortal parents, and were instead part of a semi-immortal race with exceptional abilities throughout their extended family.
Xiao Zheng came from an ordinary family and couldn't stand this condescending attitude. He had a bad temper and immediately decided not to give face, ignoring Old Lady Yu and turning to Chief Huang saying, "I'm sorry, leader. It's my fault for not doing a good job explaining things."
Chief Huang smiled and was unfazed: "It's alright. We’re here today to explain the situation."
Old Lady Yu had cultivated great poise and composure and didn't show any sign of displeasure when the younger generation disrespected her. She took a printed document from someone nearby and put on her reading glasses. "Your department's explanation states that 'considering the implanted Mirror Flower Water Moon Butterfly won't cause any further harm, in order to minimize public panic and maintain social stability, we decided to quietly resolve this matter.' How do you know the butterfly won't spread among people? I heard that more than half of the field agents in your Dongchuan Branch haven't been able to come to work lately."
Xiao Zheng replied, "We've listed our reasons..."
"Do you think that Mirror Flower Water Moon Butterfly is not contagious and that this one is just an accident? Yes, I saw it," interrupted Old Lady Yu. "But what you're saying is just speculation. Even if your speculation makes sense, how do you know there isn't a second mutated butterfly?"
At that moment, Xiao Zheng's phone on the table vibrated, with the words "Luo Cuicui" jumping up and down. He glanced at it and hung up without a word: "We understand your concerns, so we immediately sent people to Dongchuan to investigate the source of this mutated butterfly. We believe we will soon have an answer for everyone..."
Old Lady Yu interrupted him again, gently this time: "So that means you still don't know."
Xiao Zheng frowned.
Old Lady Yu smiled and squinted her eyes at him. "The Mirror Flower Water Moon Butterfly may not be a living fossil, but it's close enough. So many ancient texts have been lost, who can claim to understand these things? Even if your agency has many talented people who understand it, who can come out and guarantee that this butterfly infection incident was an accident and there definitely won't be a second one? Then what does it have to do with our demand for a third-party investigation into the Bureau of Paranormal Control? From the former chief of your agency down to his subordinates, they have all engaged in favoritism and fraud, using dangerous public property to fabricate casualty figures. The evidence is solid, and we deserve an explanation."
Chief Huang, who was standing nearby, interjected: "Old Lady Yu, I don't know where the rumor about the former chief’s ironclad evidence came from, and the current evidence is not enough to convict him. That's just the word of the suspect Bi Chunsheng, who even..."
"Anyway, if you say it's just the word of one person, then it's just the word of one person," a man in black Zhongshan suit sitting next to Old Lady Yu interrupted, speaking very quickly and in a sharp and piercing voice.
"If you close the door and do something inside, who can see it? Oh, when the time comes, you’ll just find a little scumbag from who knows where to push out into the limelight, and this bucket of shit will be put on his head. How can we know what's going on inside? Right, Little Wang?"
Chief Huang said helplessly to the man in the Zhongshan suit, "You're Master Yue De, right? Hello, my surname is Huang. Things are like this, the comrade in charge of self-inspection this time is very capable. He participated in stopping the Yin Sacrifice ritual and confronted the demon summoned by the suspect for several hours. His resume is also very clean, and he wasn't with the personnel involved in the case before..."
Old Lady Yu calmly said, "Chief Huang, if you are willing to let a newcomer with a 'clean record' investigate, why not let a more impartial and clean third party investigate? What's the difference?"
Master Yue De said in unison with her: "Even if the new people are innocent, they still receive funding from the Bureau. If they find out something, they still need the approval of the 'organization,' right? Besides, they may not be so innocent! I heard that this person came in through the back door, and just after passing the exam, they inexplicably became the department head. Oh, how amazing - did they get 250 out of 100 on the test? How could you know that they wouldn't abuse their power and break the law?"
Chief Huang, from the Bureau, had to say: "Of course, we also regulate..."
"We're here to discuss regulation right now!" Master Yue De pounded the table, "Penglai is where you want us to come together, great, we're here. You make a pile of regulations for us and send someone to monitor us, and we understand that we need to cooperate with the government's work. Now that you've made a mistake, and suddenly regulation becomes hard, right? You sit in your office in Yong'an, shielded from the wind and sun, but this time the butterfly infection occurred right at our doorstep!"
These influential people all have their own territories of power, such as Old Lady Yu in the northeast and Master Yue De controlling the Dongchuan area. The boy's family infected with the Mirror Flower Water Moon Butterfly was within Master Yue De's sphere of influence.
It is said that Master Yue De was born in the late Qing Dynasty and had a strong desire for power. He was like a good fighting dog, placing more importance on face than life. He had countless disciples, and if something happened in the local Dongchuan branch, they had to send someone to pay respects to him before they could move an inch.
He raised his voice even higher: "Every family should send someone to form a regulatory team under the Bureau, and we must supervise each other!"
Chief Huang smiled bitterly and said, "As a state institution, I can't just create whatever I want..."
"Okay, then we won't interfere with each other. We'll mind our own business in the future, and you at the Bureau won't need to send anyone to inspect what we're doing in the local areas."
The meeting table quickly became chaotic, and Chief Huang tried several times to interject, but to no avail.
When the old chief was still around, he could still control the situation. Now that the old director is gone and the office has been hit by a series of incidents, Xiao Zheng is young, and Huang is just an ordinary person. These arrogant old experts at the Penglai meeting didn't take the Bureau seriously at all. Xiao Zheng sighed, and at this moment, his phone rang again, and it was Luo Cuicui once more.
Xiao Zheng was usually tough as steel, and he rarely used the word "hopefully," but before he picked up the phone, he thought, "I hope the Aftermath Department has some good news."
"Director, I have to report something to you..." Luo Cuicui's voice had a hint of crying, tearfully reporting the "good news" that Xiao Zheng had been hoping for, "Our boss has died heroically! He was dragged into a black hole by a bunch of bone claws and disappeared in an instant!"
Xiao Zheng almost couldn't catch his breath.
Luo Cuicui asked tearfully, "Director Xiao, when can I transfer to another department?"
Xuan Ji's nose itched, and he turned his head and sneezed, feeling like someone was cursing him.
Seeing him rushing towards the cave without hesitation, Sheng Lingyuan quickly stopped him: "Hold on, what are you doing?"
Xuan Ji replied: "Don't you see the butterfly chasing me... damn, this sounds unlucky."
"It's just a butterfly, why are you running?" Sheng Lingyuan replied disinterestedly, "Your nature belongs to fire, they can't inhabit you."
"They can inhabit this guy!" As he spoke, Xuan Ji had already rushed into the cave in a hurry. When he landed, the wings on his back immediately turned into dots of light and disappeared. He threw the goat-bearded man aside, "Hello, senior, did you not notice there was another living thing that could breathe? It’s also smelly and warm!"
"This man is a swindler and not a good person. What does it have to do with you?" Sheng Lingyuan's tone became urgent, "Don't go any further!"
Xuan Ji suddenly became suspicious. Sheng Lingyuan had never spoken at this speed before, and his tone was unsteady.
"Senior," he deliberately stretched his voice, "with words like that, your understanding is so low! I'm an official, how could I see someone become a victim of the butterflies and stand aside? Does that make sense?"
"Stop right there!" Sheng Lingyuan shouted with a hint of anger.
"What's wrong, senior? Do you know something about this cave?" Xuan Ji blinked.
Sheng Lingyuan avoided the question again, "If you are afraid of the butterfly, you should know that where they don't dare to go is not a good place to be at. Let's go, I'll find a way to get you out of here."
"Do you know the way out?" Xuan Ji asked.
"As far as I know, there is an altar in the witches’ tomb, and there is a mechanism there that opens a secret passage to the surface." Sheng Lingyuan quickly regained his calm and gentle tone, saying to Xuan Ji, "I was planning to ask these white bones to take us to the altar, but this person ruined our plans. However, the altar should not be far away. Listen to me, take the people and leave. You have real fire on your body, so the butterfly won't come near you for a while."
As soon as he spoke, his voice sounded like it was sweeping through Xuan Ji's ears, with a low and ambiguous seductive meaning, which did not sound like a good thing.
Xuan Ji's ears tingled, and his eyes suddenly became dazed.
Why did Bi Chunsheng go crazy when he heard his words: "Who bullied you?", and almost cried?
This person seemed to have a strange charm, and his words were like a finely woven net, gently and skillfully covering people, giving them the illusion that they were fully and sincerely loved by him. All the grievances, sadness, and difficulties that they did not want to share with others, could be poured out here.
He involuntarily stopped moving forward.
"This little demon is young and talented," Sheng Lingyuan's voice was warm and gentle like a spring breeze, but his heart and lungs were as cold as ice as he planned, "Pure-blooded demons are proud and reluctant to associate with other races. It is usually very difficult for their offspring to survive. Such a little demon is usually well-protected by the clan and will not be allowed to suffer in the mortal world. He calls himself the clan leader..."
"Even butterflies dare not go ahead, with so many dangers. How can you handle it with a mortal by your side?" The little demon lacked love, and he was doted on by Sheng Lingyuan, who sighed and deliberately softened his tone with a hint of doting, "You are so reckless, yet the elders of the clan dare to let you out, which is really worrying."
Xuan Ji was convinced by his words and became obedient. After hesitating for a moment, he took the heavy sword from which the goat-bearded man was dangling, grabbed his collar, dragged him towards himself, and coquettishly murmured, "Okay then."
Saying that, he turned back and walked as if sleepwalking.
The entrance where they came in was already bright as day, covered with thousands of mirror moon butterflies crawling on it. The butterflies did not dare to chase after them and could only gather together and try to probe inside. However, Xuan Ji seemed to be completely unaware of these deadly bugs and stepped into the encirclement of the butterflies step by step.
"Follow me," Sheng Lingyuan softly enticed him, "I won't harm you."
The fluorescence on the butterflies had already illuminated Xuan Ji's face, reflecting his pair of unfocused eyes.
Sheng Lingyuan silently smiled: "Good boy..."
Before he finished speaking, a violent burst of fire suddenly erupted from the heavy sword. Sheng Lingyuan's eyes were instantly blinded by the flash. The heavy sword hacked towards the entrance, burning the countless butterflies into a blaze of silver and gold, with a pungent scent of burning.
"Elder, when have you ever kept your word? Even saying that you won't harm me," Xuan Ji chuckled. After burning the butterflies, he took a big step and walked straight into the cave. "Won't you harm me this time?"
Sheng Lingyuan: "..."
"Even if you're above ground or underground, you're probably several thousand years old, right? Your moral cultivation can't keep up. You're speaking nonsense without blushing," Xuan Ji shook his head and lectured the heavenly demon while tapping the ground lightly with his sword tip. "Are you blushing now?"
The heavy sword hit the hard stone slab, making a clear "clang" sound, and echoing continuously. It seemed like there was a very spacious area ahead.
Xuan Ji carried both the person and the sword, and he seemed to carry them effortlessly, walking lightly towards the echoing sound.
As he walked, he kept talking, trying to educate the big demon: "You've come here, so I have to enlighten you on our modern values. We believe in equality and justice. Let's put justice aside. With your current level of morality, you're still far away from it. Let's talk about equality–what is equality? It means that every living thing, whether it's special or ordinary, good or bad, has equal rights in my eyes. Even if he's really plotting to harm others for money, I still have to protect him equally before he's handed over to the public system..."
The big demon was probably annoyed by him and fell silent.
"...Your ancient system of emperors and officials is already outdated, do you understand? Your political correctness is very incorrect, I..." Xuan Ji's endless words suddenly stopped when he saw the place in front of him. "I...my great uncle's..."
He followed the narrow mountain cave to a spacious area where there was a small stagnant pool of water. For some reason, the water did not dry up. Vines with small flower buds grew on the walls of the cliffs that he had never seen before. They were like small light bulbs, emitting a faint glow.
As soon as Xuan Ji walked in, the strange flower buds suddenly bloomed like welcoming guests. The cave was illuminated as if the lights were turned on, and a milky-white halo softly descended, warmer than the gaze of a lover. Xuan Ji's first reaction was to hold his breath and cover the goat-bearded man’s mouth and nose to prevent breathing in the unknown plant pollen.
He only had two hands, so he naturally put his heavy sword aside.
The sound of the heavy sword falling to the ground startled the stagnant pool, causing ripples to form. The white flowers were also disturbed by the sound of the metal hitting the ground, and they all turned red before wilting and turning into liquid, flowing down the walls like blood, flowing towards the sword from all directions.
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