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    Chapter 67

    Zhi Lixuan and his partner, with their square-jawed faces, were in such a heated dispute that they were barely maintaining their composure. Amidst all the chaos, the employees of Taicang Sect were too engrossed in their fun, causing Master Xia to be annoyed. However, in order to maintain his image as an otherworldly expert, he could only stretch his limbs slightly, yet the weight on him continued to increase.

    Of course it was heavy – almost twenty ghosts were hanging off him, enough for a circus act.

    Seizing this opportunity, Shuo Zong took out his phone to search for news about the forest zoo accident. The sect hadn't thought to investigate it during their team-building event, but now, upon searching, they realized there had been quite a few recent incidents involving the zoo.

    Wei Xi leaned in to look at the screen with him, reading aloud slowly, "An unexpected incident occurred during the tiger enclosure photo session; an Amur tiger nearly injured visitors and escaped from the park?"

    "Swan Lake's entire swan flock flees, chasing and biting visitors?"

    "Zoo animals howl in the dead of night, awakening residents in multiple neighborhoods?"

    The news articles, big and small, were arranged side by side, their headlines bizarre and chilling. The content was largely similar, detailing incidents where escaped animals narrowly missed harming tourists. After a while, Wei Xi heard his disciple speak calmly, "A mass escape might be a response to a summoning."

    Wei Xi: "A summoning?"

    Shuo Zong nodded, "When spirits cultivate to great mastery, they can command millions of ghostly soldiers, known colloquially as Ghost Kings or Queens. Similarly, when wild beasts reach their peak, they can lead an army of beasts, becoming the king among them."

    Wei Xi had heard of the title "King of Beasts." "Sort of," Shuo Zong nodded. "In the wild, among the mountains and forests, tigers are usually the strongest creatures."

    The order in the Beast Realm was different from that of the human world. Humans had governments to manage society, abiding by the rule of law, while animals followed their instincts. The strongest one would be the leader.

    Tigers were called the King of Beasts because they were formidable in solo combat. No one could defeat them in one-on-one battles in the mountains and forests.

    Understanding this, Wei Xi glanced at the majestic tiger in the photo. Recalling Master Xia's previous assessment, he couldn't help but cast a sidelong glance at the sprawled-out giant panda in the viewing area, with its black and white fur contrasting perfectly.

    Giant Panda: "..............."

    What did that look mean? Was he looking down on bears? Did he know how powerful a panda's bite force was?

    Zhi Lixuan left his square-faced business partner in a huff and stormed back to Wei Xi's side. "Master Wei, ignore them. They do their thing, we do ours."

    The square-faced man also said something to Master Xia. The master glanced over at Wei Xi but didn't comment. However, his disciples behind him wore indignant expressions as if they had been deeply insulted.

    Master Xia shook his head calmly, signaling them not to be upset. He displayed great magnanimity. "It doesn't matter. Let's consider it an exchange of techniques. Set up the altar and assist me in performing an exorcism for the park."

    His disciples reluctantly turned away, their anger simmering as they began setting up the altar with great solemnity. They opened their luggage cases with great ceremony, extracting brand new Taoist robes, which they unfolded meticulously and carefully dressed their master in.

    Master Xia unfolded his arms composedly, looking every bit the part and impressing the square-jawed man, who dared not even breathe loudly.

    Even Zhi Lixuan, who had clashed with the square-jawed man, secretly speculated that this master hired by his partner might indeed possess genuine abilities. However, still miffed, he was reluctant to give in. Thus, he eventually refocused his attention on Wei Xi. He had heard Qiu Guokai praise this master highly; when it came to conducting rituals, Master Wei would surely hold his own, allowing him to regain the upper hand.

    He hurriedly asked, "Master Wei, are we also going to set up an altar and perform a ritual? Should I prepare anything?"

    But instead of answering immediately, Master Wei turned to study him attentively before slowly saying, "Director Zhi."

    Zhi Lixuan: "Huh?"

    Wei Xi: "Does your zoo not treat its animals very well?"

    Zhi Lixuan: "What???"

    The disciple had mentioned that the anomalies in the zoo likely stemmed from the animals responding to a call. Judging from the corporate management theories Unity and Righteousness had provided, wasn't this akin to a rival company poaching employees? These creatures were eagerly answering the call, eager to leave the zoo. What other explanation could there be? Clearly, they believed that the new employer offered better treatment.

    As Wei Xi also ran a business, he couldn't help but cast a disapproving glance at Zhi Lixuan, his fellow entrepreneur. "Profit is important, but employee loyalty is even more crucial. Only when their welfare is taken care of will they not constantly contemplate switching jobs."

    Zhi Lixuan: "????????"

    ******

    Master Xia appeared nonchalant, but he was secretly paying attention to the conversation and almost burst out laughing.

    At first, he thought this person was a rival of similar nature, and he was quite cautious, fearing that it might be an experienced veteran who would be difficult to deal with, given Zhi Lixuan's trust in him. However, the man's opening remarks revealed his lack of confidence, even making up a ridiculous reason like animals wanting to change jobs. What kind of logic was that?

    The square-faced man fell silent for a moment, looking at Wei Xi with a curious expression. He felt more reassured about the expert by his side and carefully asked, "Master Xia, what should we do about a panda turning into a spirit? After all, it's a national treasure. If it gets hurt, how will we explain it to the country?"

    Master Xia took the peach wood sword from his disciple. He had no idea how to handle it, but he was skilled in deceiving people. "Don't worry, I've been wandering the world for decades, banishing countless demons and spirits. Although this panda spirit is causing trouble, it hasn't committed any major wrongdoings. It doesn't deserve death. Let me communicate with it and subdue it."

    As he spoke, he fixed his gaze on the panda and suddenly shouted amidst the swirling incense smoke, "Mighty Five Thunder Generals, Fire Chariot General, open your banners and answer my call without delay! Swiftly, as per the law!"

    The panda trembled in fright and looked at him, dropping the bamboo it held with a thud.

    The monster spirits of Taicang Sect: "............It would be strange if there wasn't a reaction with such a loud voice."

    Zhi Lixuan, however, also felt somewhat uncertain, just like the man with the square face. This Master Xia's ritual was indeed impressive, but upon recalling Wei Xi's explanation and observing how he was silently watching the ceremony without any movement, Zhi Lixuan couldn't help feeling perplexed. The Master Wei he had sought out seemed quite different from the typical master.

    Moreover, Master Wei's explanation differed from Master Xia's. It seemed that the issues at their zoo had nothing to do with ghosts or feng shui; it was merely the animals' desire to leave. This explanation was strangely scientific and not at all mystical.

    Master Xia performed the Yu Step, invoked deities, and chanted curses. Despite being middle-aged, his voice remained powerful, stunning the panda into immobility.

    With sharp eyes, he made a hand gesture and pointed upward. Then, grabbing a large bowl from the altar, he took a mouthful of burning alcohol and approached the fence. Suddenly, he spat the alcohol at the panda!

    The panda, drenched in alcohol, scrambled to get away!

    Wei Xi frowned in disgust. Could it not avoid that? There was undoubtedly a lot of saliva mixed in the alcohol.

    Master Xia put down the bowl and shot him a cryptic glance before turning to the man with the square face with a sense of accomplishment. "It's now cowed by my power and knows not to cause any more mischief."

    The man with the square face was thoroughly convinced. The panda had run so quickly just now, clearly displaying fear!

    This was precisely the charm of a con artist. Using psychological manipulation along with skillful tricks, even a genuine exorcist would perform their tasks quietly, with only themselves aware of the outcome. Yet, Master Xia had devised an interactive method where the panda would actively avoid him, leaving the employer impressed.

    "Thank you so much, Master Xia!" the man with the square face expressed his gratitude profusely.

    Master Xia nodded with a tranquil expression, his posture elegant and captivating. This stirred unease in Zhi Lixuan on Wei Xi's side; his gaze wavering. Before Master Wei could even make a move, Master Xia had effortlessly resolved the issue and seemingly subdued the rogue monster. Could it be that this Master Xia truly possessed profound Daoist powers?

    He stole a glance at Wei Xi, who showed no intention of moving, his gaze fixed on Master Xia with an inquisitive glimmer in his eyes.

    Wei Xi was studying diligently. This master's approach did have many admirable aspects. Wei Xi had taken on several ritual assignments and always felt that he had performed well. However, compared to Master Xia, who could elicit such enthusiastic feedback from clients without doing anything, it was clear that there was still much room for his own improvement.

    Upon seeing that Li Xuan was being ignored, and sensing the triumphant glance from his collaborator, as the opposing group was about to depart, he hesitated for a moment before softly interrupting Wei Xi's contemplation: "M-Master Wei... You..."

    Is it true that you have no intention of taking action?

    Hardly had these words been spoken when a commotion echoed from afar outside the panda enclosure, promptly followed by the partner's phone ringing loudly, interrupting his query.

    The man with the square face answered the call, and the smug expression on his face vanished instantly. "What?! The red pandas in the free-range area have escaped en masse?!"

    Everyone present turned their attention to him. The staff on the other end of the line was nearly in tears. "It's not just the red pandas! The black swans and flamingos from the Aviary have also fled! The lion and tiger groups on Lion-Tiger Hill are agitated too! They're attempting to scale the protective walls. Now, the black swans and flamingos are scattered all over the park. Visitors think it's part of the interactive attractions and aren't avoiding them, instead taking photos. What if someone gets hurt?!"

    The man with the square face was utterly stunned. After hanging up, he looked at Master Xia in disbelief.

    Master Xia was also taken aback, probably not expecting to be exposed so quickly. However, his mental fortitude was exceptional, and he soon regained his composure. He analyzed solemnly, "I underestimated the situation. It seems that your park isn't as straightforward as I initially thought. There might be more than one demon at work, not just in the panda enclosure."

    The man with the square-shaped face was skeptical but still held a certain respect for Master Xia, so he didn't dare to question him directly. Hesitantly, he asked, "So... does Master Xia have a solution to this problem now?"

    Master Xia fell silent for a moment, seemingly deep in thought. On the other side, Zhi Lixuan was nearly driven to desperation. Unfortunately, he had forgotten his phone and couldn't remotely instruct his employees. Desperate for help, he turned to Wei Xi and asked, "Master Wei! What should we do now? If those animals escape from the zoo and run loose on the streets, it'll be a disaster!"

    Seeing Zhi Lixuan's near-hysterical state, Wei Xi, understanding the plight of a business owner dealing with a workforce eager to jump ship, nodded and said, "Although they're unhappy with their work, most issues regarding their treatment can be resolved through communication. Alright, I'll lend a hand this once."

    Master Xia, who was pretending not to know, looked at him in shock. Wow, he dared to step up in this situation? Were fellow professionals in this field really that bold nowadays?

    Receiving an answer, Zhi Lixuan, though still puzzled by Wei Xi's words, didn't have time for skepticism at this critical moment. He anxiously asked, "Then, Master Wei, do you have a way to assist us in tracking down the escaped animals?"

    Wei Xi thought to himself, of course, these seven hundred plus employees weren't just here for fun. He was about to speak when Little Fatty jumped beside him, frantically blocking his words. "Boss! We can't tell him we're here! We snuck in without tickets!"

    Wei Xi: "..."

    Shuo Zong: "..."

    The demonic employees: "..."

    Wei Xi now also recalled that his ghostly employees indeed hadn't purchased tickets. The group of seven hundred or so had only bought a dozen tickets for their team-building event, with the rest simply floating through the turnstiles overhead.

    The boss was right across the hall; it wouldn't be appropriate for others to know about his ghost employees, let alone charging them for visiting...

    Considering this, Wei Xi had no choice but to conceal the existence of his ghost staff and nodded vaguely. "I'll give it a try."

    Zhi Lixuan was overjoyed and guessed, "Master Wei knows Beast Summoning? Do you need an altar for the ritual?"

    Wei Xi gestured for his employees to get back to work. After some thought, he decided to go through the motions as well. Nodding, he didn't set up another stage and simply borrowed the previous act from Master Xia.

    Zhi Lixuan was momentarily stunned by Wei Xi's casual approach, feeling that it seemed a bit too haphazard.

    Master Xia's eyes nearly rolled to the back of his head. As a half-insider, how could he not see what Wei Xi was doing? He wished he could give him a lesson on the spot. This young man's way of working was truly vexing. Even con artists had their techniques. The client needed to feel satisfied, regardless of whether the ritual was effective or not. Besides, urgent requests that required immediate results should never be taken on. Yet, Wei Xi had just made up a Beast Summoning ritual...

    As Master Xia pondered this, he could almost visualize the awkward situation where this fellow practitioner's attempt would fail and be exposed on the spot. Suddenly, he heard some commotion, which left him stunned.

    Wei Xi, who was still absentmindedly reciting words at the altar, was in stark contrast to Master Xia's solemn performance earlier. However, the distant noise gradually grew louder and closer, followed by a sudden, reluctant honk outside the exhibition hall. A black swan flapped its wings and swooped in.

    Master Xia: "!!!"

    Then came the second, third, and soon, flocks of flamingos and red pandas joined the black swans, all entering the room while loudly squawking as if arguing with someone. Zhi Lixuan ignored the cacophony, counting the creatures in delight. None were missing! Master Wei's summoning skill was incredible!

    Despite the fleeting notion that these disheveled and enraged creatures didn't seem to have been summoned but rather chased in, it vanished from his mind in less than half a second!

    The square-faced man, who had always been skeptical, was now equally stunned. He glanced at Master Xia, who sat motionless beside him with a rigid expression, dull eyes, and a pale face, staring blankly at Wei Xi as he put down his magical artifact and left the altar. The master seemed to have gone into a daze.

    Wei Xi ignored him and looked back. His supernatural employees were riding geese, tugging at their tails while continuously making noises to drive away the animals, causing them to become agitated. Of course, this scene was invisible to ordinary onlookers.

    Though the animals had been driven inside, they still wanted to leave. Zhi Lixuan closed the gates and told the square-faced man to call the keepers to bring cages. However, despite resolving the immediate crisis, he was still worried. "Master Wei, this isn't the first time they've escaped. The main attraction of our Forest Zoo is the animals' freedom to roam in their designated areas. But with this situation, will we have to confine them in cages for the future?"

    Wei Xi shook his head in disagreement. "If employees are dissatisfied with their treatment, communication is necessary. Forcing them to stay won't work, and they won't put in effort if they do."

    Zhi Lixuan: "…"

    The master had seemed reliable just now, so why was he suddenly speaking in riddles?

    Wei Xi didn't bother explaining, instead turning his gaze towards his supernatural staff. Logically, being animals, they should be able to socialize.

    The wild fowl spirit assessed the flamingos and swans on the scene and hesitated before volunteering, "Chairman, shall I give it a try?"

    Zhi Lixuan caught the implied message and was startled once more. "Grandmaster Wei, your temple actually has someone who can communicate with animals?!"

    Wei Xi hesitated for a moment, aware that he couldn't let the wild rooster spirit be exposed. "He knows a bit of... chicken talk."

    Wild Rooster Spirit: "…"

    The Wild Rooster Spirit corrected with indignation, "It's bird language."

    Zhi Lixuan didn't care what kind of language it was; it was still astonishing. He gaped in disbelief as the handsome young man picked out the lead black swan and began to speak to it.

    The voice was barely audible, but the black swan clearly reacted. Its head, which had been preening its feathers, suddenly turned towards them.

    Then, it flapped its wings and cackled loudly, its voice rough and indignant.

    Zhi Lixuan watched as the young man froze, turning to look at him with a complicated expression, his face oddly distorted.

    Feeling somewhat bewildered by the gaze, Zhi Lixuan asked, "What's wrong?"

    Young Man: "Have you recently changed the feed at Swan Lake to a lower-end brand, XXXX?"

    Zhi Lixuan: "?????"

    Stunned, he turned to his partner, whose face was square and stern. "What's going on? How come I had no idea? Guanghao, have you been up to something secretly?"

    The square-faced man in charge of the zoo's feed procurement, who had recently been secretly colluding with some familiar staff members for personal gain, never imagined that his supposedly foolproof scheme would be exposed by such an unexpected and bizarre individual in this surreal setting. His face was a blank canvas, unable to utter a single word in his own defense: "..."

    Zhi Lixuan immediately comprehended the situation, his gaze fixing upon him with a tinge of anger creeping into his expression.

    Noticing the situation, the young man soothingly stroked the black swan's neck, a look of disdain appearing on his face. "I wouldn't stay in this godforsaken place either if I were you."

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