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    Asianovel

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    Chapter 81

    The innocent customers left the Taicang Sect's establishment thoroughly entertained, turning back to see the drowned ghost and the suicide ghost awkwardly bowing in farewell. They praised, "This place is great, and the service attitude is commendable."

    "One must be willing to invest. They change the haunted house theme so quickly; it wasn't this game segment when I came last week."

    "It must cost a fortune to change themes so often. Let's come here again for our next gathering."

    As they spoke, they brushed past the frozen Taoist priests, chuckling as they saw the many masters. "These guys are really getting into character. Are they doing cosplay? Playing ghost hunters dressed as Taoist priests in a haunted house?"

    Black Impermanence wore a gratified smile. "I never imagined that in my lifetime, I'd witness such harmony between the realms of the living and the dead."

    The Taoist priests: "..."

    Sir, you might have misunderstood something.

    Some of the priests had seen promotions for this haunted house online before. Gazing at the eerie house before them, they were lost in thought. "No wonder... no wonder everyone who's been here says it's different from other haunted houses. The customer experience is incredibly realistic and high-end, with props that feel authentic..."

    With demons, ghosts, and monsters putting their hearts into their performances, how could it not be realistic and authentic?

    Having spent so much time with the boss, the Drowned Ghost considered itself quite a legitimate spirit and wasn't afraid of this group of Taoist priests. It even extended an invitation, "Since you've come all this way, would you like to come in for a visit?"

    Little Fatty was indeed curious about what was inside, but unfortunately, no one else shared his interest. The Taoist priests all wore amused expressions.

    However, Wei Xi still needed to meet the new employees, so whether they wanted to or not, they all followed him inside.

    Wei Xi didn't often make personal visits to this place. His presence alone spoke volumes about how seriously he took it. All the ghost employees came out in full force, lining up in two rows in the hall. As Wei Xi stepped through the door, they bowed in unison and loudly greeted, "Welcome, Boss/Leader, for your inspection!"

    It was very formal! Very impressive! Even a multinational corporation might not have done better!

    The Taoist priests following Wei Xi silently watched this scene unfold like a domineering CEO romance drama: "............"

    For a moment, everyone was somewhat dazed. So this was how one could raise Yin soldiers – indeed, one sees everything after living long enough.

    The Taicang Sect's haunted house was no longer the small-scale operation it once was. The number of employees had rapidly increased from the eight or so when Wei Xi took over to nearly a hundred. Thanks to effective marketing and well-designed attractions, it had gained an excellent online reputation. Many out-of-town tourists, some even traveling great distances, came to experience it, such that the haunted house now struggled to accommodate such a large influx of visitors. Expansion and franchising were imminent necessities.

    Since expansion was on the horizon, employees had become a crucial resource. Just a few days ago, Uncle Shen had lamented to Wei Xi that the seven hundred ghosts seemed insufficient. Now, as if by divine intervention, a new wave had appeared, filling Uncle Shen with more than just excitement.

    "They said they were invited here. I wonder who was so kind to provide us with such a significant assistance. If we have the chance to meet them, we must express our gratitude properly."

    Priests: "..."

    Little Fatty: "..."

    Should I respond with "you're welcome"?

    Shen Shu continued, "Moreover, they're incredibly enthusiastic and proactive in their approach. The moment they enter, they start to intimidate the customers with gusto, more energetically than our own staff! They're simply outstanding!"

    The Daoist masters: "..."

    Little Fatty: "..."

    Could they not be excellent? Gathering this batch of wandering ghosts was no easy task. Even with the ghost-controlling secret technique left behind by their master, the three siblings had spent a considerable amount of money, virtually exchanging all their cash for spirit money.

    Shen Shu chuckled, "Ah! It's just that there's still a shortage in quantity. If only there could be more!"

    The Taoist priests: "..."

    Little Fatty: "..."

    Apologies, Senior Brother, you're truly too inexperienced. Dealing with so many vengeful spirits might already be our limit.

    Thoughts swirling in his mind, Little Fatty couldn't help but sob, a cry of despair from the weak. Shen Shu was perplexed, "Headmaster, why is he crying?"

    Wei Xi replied, "Perhaps he's thinking about something sorrowful."

    *****

    The Daoists met the group of vengeful spirits in a daze, only to find that the spirits were genuinely delighted. Wei Xi even recognized one of them – the ghost who had committed suicide by train during Taicang Sect's previous team-building event. It was no surprise what kind of ghosts would be summoned for such a purpose.

    These spirits enjoyed scaring people, and Taicang Sect's haunted house was undoubtedly the perfect workplace for them. The train suicide ghost, dragging its bloody half-body, held Shen Shu's hand, regretting its actions, "If I had known you guys were doing this, why would I have run away that day? I definitely would've just followed you!"

    It then recognized Little Fatty, expressing surprise at seeing him at a new location, "It's you! What happened to the other two people you were with? Were you recruiters for Taicang Sect?"

    Recruiters...

    Little Fatty: "Wah—"

    He cried all the way out of Taicang Sect's haunted house. Nobody had the time to comfort him now. With the realization that these people from the Cultivation Church were indeed the ones who had summoned them, their focus shifted entirely to Kuang Zhiming's predicament.

    As for the Taicang Sect... Well, it was clearly a joyful event for them.

    Xu Xiaofeng's soul was in the hands of the Self-Cultivation Sect, and the longer it remained with them, the more uncertainties would arise. Everyone silently withdrew their gazes from the eerie haunted house, ignoring the ghosts standing respectfully at the entrance to bid farewell to their boss. With difficulty, they said, "Let's head to Xin Nan together."

    The Taicang Sect employees echoed in unison from behind, "Take your time, Boss!"

    The Taoist priests: "..."

    At that moment, Wei Xi was undoubtedly the most prominent star in the crowd.

    *****

    Xin Nan was quite far away, and it would take a long time to get there by car. Thus, Kuang Zhiming generously purchased plane tickets for everyone, striving to reach the Self-Cultivation Sect's headquarters as swiftly as possible.

    Black Impermanence, without an ID, followed stealthily. However, there were no available seats on the plane, and he refused to stand throughout the journey. Frustrated, he left, declaring that he would make his way from the City God Temple.

    It was Wei Xi's first time on a plane, and everything seemed novel to him. Seated in the cramped chair after boarding, he gazed intently out the window at the other planes gliding on the runway.

    Those aircraft raced across the ground at high speeds, one after another, ascending into the sky.

    During moments like these, he always experienced a strange sensation. People outside the mountains seemed to possess boundless strength. They built towering skyscrapers that reached toward the heavens and rode swift metallic beasts, traversing the skies and diving into the earth. Despite their frailty, they appeared capable of anything.

    This was something that had never existed in his previous understanding. Yet, the ordinary people in the aircraft seemed to take it all in stride. Even Unity Yi, who had never flown before, conversed casually with the Taoist priests nearby.

    The moment the aircraft roared to life, a deafening noise erupted.

    Wei Xi clutched the armrests tightly, gazing intently at the scenery outside the window. He wasn't skilled at expressing his emotions.

    A presence approached from beside him. His second disciple's deep voice pierced through the noise, asking, "What are you looking at?"

    Wei Xi frowned, his nerves taut.

    Suddenly, his head was turned by a large hand. The disciple held his neck, urging him to lean against his shoulder, "Don't look out the window. Close your eyes."

    Reluctantly, Wei Xi leaned back into his seat, resting his forehead on his disciple's shoulder. The pleasant yang energy emanating from the disciple made his muscles relax inexplicably. He lifted his gaze to look at Que'er, "Que'er, is this what it feels like to ascend to heaven?"

    Que'er turned his head to look at him. His high nose bridge cast a sharp shadow under the bright cabin lights. Upon hearing the question, he smiled faintly, "What did you think it would feel like?"

    "It doesn't seem like this," Wei Xi narrowed his eyes in discomfort, "There should be wind, vastness, and the touch of clouds."

    The disciple's expression became complicated. "Is that so? You've flown before?"

    Wei Xi merely had an inexplicable feeling. "As a lone wandering spirit, how could I?"

    He didn't have clear memories and didn't know what he was like as a wild ghost, but he supposed it was similar to the employees in the sect. Ghosts didn't have tangible forms, they could drift through the world, but ascending to heaven? Impossible.

    Suddenly, his cheek was touched by his disciple. Wei Xi groggily opened his eyes and looked at the other person.

    The lights in the cabin had dimmed, making his vision blurry, but his disciple's eyes were unusually clear as they stared fixedly at him.

    After a long moment, Wei Xi heard his voice, filled with indescribable emotions. "Wei Xi, you're not a lone wandering spirit."

    Stunned by the gaze, Wei Xi then realized he was now human and mumbled an ambiguous response.

    But Wei Dedao had said he was just a wild ghost. What was a wild ghost? It came from nowhere, drifted aimlessly, and was forgotten by everyone. It would eventually dissipate without a trace.

    Actually, sometimes Wei Xi would recall his past, wondering what kind of life he had led. But his memories were fragmented, and when he did remember something, it was usually about eating, drinking, and bloody battles. He probably wasn't significant when he was alive.

    Lost in thought, his chin was suddenly pinched by two fingers. The pressure forced him to lift his head, and his disciple earnestly said, "Remember, you're not a lone wandering spirit, not something insignificant."

    Staring blankly at him, Wei Xi didn't know how to react.

    Nonetheless, his head instinctively leaned forward.

    The disciple quickly glanced at the person beside him and tilted his head back slightly, as if in refusal. "Hungry?"

    Wei Xi nodded, then shook his head. Fixing his gaze on the disciple, he said, "I'm not eating, just touching you."

    The disciple fell silent for a moment. His eyes suddenly deepened, and his gaze slowly returned.

    Unity Right was still chatting with the Taoist on the other side of the aisle about the bizarre incidents Xin Nan had experienced before boarding. Suddenly, he heard his junior brother call out to a passing flight attendant, "Excuse me, could I have a blanket?"

    "Eh?" Unity Right watched, stunned, as his junior brother accepted the blanket from the flight attendant. "Are you cold, Junior Brother? The temperature in the cabin is fine."

    He saw his junior brother unfold the blanket and drape it directly over their master, who was seated by the window. "Carry on with your conversation."

    Oh, so the master was feeling sleepy. Unity Right didn't think much of it. After his junior brother covered their master with the blanket, he leaned in to speak, but the dim lighting in the cabin made it hard to see clearly. Midway through their conversation, Unity Right picked up where they left off without a second thought.

    Under the blanket, two pairs of scorching lips were pressed together tightly. Wei Xi held onto the disciple's collar as he opened his mouth, allowing the other's tongue to invade without any defense. He couldn't help but rub his nose against the side of the disciple's face.

    Wrapped in the blanket, he was burning with heat. Bitten on his lower lip, he couldn't help but let out a soft moan.

    "Don't make a sound," the disciple instructed.

    He released Wei Xi, slowly licking and nibbling on his lower lip. His teeth traced a path from the corner of his mouth to the side of his neck, capturing his earlobe as his voice turned into a warm mist that seeped into his ear, smoldering like the blazing fire beneath the blanket, intense yet composed. "Don't cry out. Do you want more?"

    Wei Xi panted softly. He had only intended for a gentle touch, but his ears were scorching hot, his mind melting away. Instinctively, his hand reached for the disciple's neck.

    "I want it," he whispered.

    The disciple's tongue ventured deeper into his ear, as if laughing softly.

    *****

    It was late at night in Xin Nan by the time they landed. Sniffling, Wei Xi felt both full and exhausted, utterly drained.

    Unity Yì yawned and glanced at his master under the light, momentarily startled. "Master, why is your lips so red?"

    Master let out an "ah" and looked back at him with what seemed like a glistening gaze. At that moment, the junior disciple suddenly removed his own down jacket and draped it over his master. "Keep warm."

    Junior Apprentice Brother's clothes were probably a bit snug for someone with Unity Yi's physique, a bodybuilder-like coach. But on Master, they were loose and roomy, with sleeves that were way too long and a hem that nearly reached his ankles – it was like a large quilt. But Junior Apprentice Brother wasn't done yet; he insisted on pulling the hood at the back of the garment over Master's head. The oversized hood instantly engulfed Master's head, leaving only a slender, smooth jawline visible.

    Unity Yi: "…What are you doing, Junior Apprentice Brother?"

    With a cold expression, Junior Apprentice Brother zipped up the garment for Master and stopped him from removing the hood. He said unperturbed, "Xin Nan is too cold."

    Unity Yi: "…"

    Unity Yi seriously assessed the surface temperature. Why did he feel warmer here than in the capital?

    But it was still early winter, and Xin Nan was indeed chilly and dreary. It was still night, and the little fatty they had brought along was rubbing his arms, shivering pitifully. "So cold… Uh, oh."

    He turned to Senior Apprentice Brother Tai Cang Sect, who seemed to be quite caring, hoping for some help.

    Just kidding. Of course, the second disciple of Tai Cang Sect ignored him nonchalantly.

    Wei Xi allowed his second apprentice to roll up the excessively long sleeves as he tilted his head back, trying to glimpse his apprentice through the bottom of the hood. The apprentice raised an eyebrow to glance at him, his face devoid of expression, but his gaze lingered for a moment.

    Wei Xi felt a strange sensation in his heart. It was an odd feeling that made him inexplicably want to smile. Despite the layers of clothing, he knew his apprentice was looking at him.

    In the darkness of his hood, he curved his lips. The disciple's clothes were filled with the disciple's scent, and his mouth tasted of him too. He licked his lips, and even the corners of his mouth held that familiar fragrance.

    The disciple's gaze seemed to have grown more obvious. While pulling up his zipper, his fingers quickly pinched his face.

    Little Fatty, feeling neglected, endured the damp cold of winter while watching Wei Xi, who was almost wrapped up into a ball, and Tachang Sect's second disciple staring intently at Wei Xi. He deeply felt the unfairness of the world and grumbled, "What's going on? It's like they're in love or something, so sappy."

    Unity Yi rolled his eyes at him. "Never seen a close master-disciple relationship before? Why are you thinking so filthy?"

    *****

    A few Taoist priests had taken advantage of the flight to catch some sleep, but they still felt weary upon landing. Fortunately, the Xinnan Taoist Association had already sent someone to greet them outside. Upon seeing them, the man immediately approached.

    "The moment we heard about you, our local Taoist Association promptly held a discussion," said the leading Taoist, introducing himself as Daoist Nian. He dove straight into business. "To be honest, the influence of the Cult of Self-Cultivation here in Xinnan has surpassed your imagination. Despite several joint operations with the Buddhist Association and the municipal police, we haven't been able to completely eliminate them. As for Fellow Daoist Kuang's predicament, we haven't come up with any brilliant ideas either."

    Kuang Zhiming hadn't slept at all. His gaze left the picture of his wife on his phone screen, bloodshot eyes nodding in understanding. "I have a general idea."

    Xinnan was different from Beijing. The capital had always been strict and harsh, making it difficult for even a legitimate organization like the Taoist Association to flourish, let alone for a cult to survive. But Xinnan was far from the center of power, with fewer restrictions. After years of development, it would be strange if they could be easily dealt with.

    Seeing Kuang Zhiming's dazed state, Daoist Nian of Xinnan couldn't help feeling sympathetic. He sighed. "This cult is very troublesome, with numerous tricks up its sleeve. You'd better mentally prepare yourselves."

    Upon hearing this, everyone's hearts skipped a beat. "Could you describe it roughly?"

    Patriarch Nian asked, "You must have heard about their deeds of summoning ghost officers, right?"

    Everyone nodded, acknowledging that this indeed proved the extraordinary strength of their opponents.

    But Patriarch Nian continued, "What you might not know is that their cult has even more sinister tactics!"

    The many Daoists grew anxious at his solemn tone.

    Patriarch Nian spoke with indignation, "Their cult leader, apart from summoning ghost officers, also breeds a vast army of ghost soldiers!"

    Everyone: "…."

    Patriarch Nian: "No one knows how he trained them, but these ghost soldiers actually obey him without question!"

    Everyone: "…."

    Patriarch Nian: "Fellow Daoists, raising ghost soldiers and having them obey blindly – isn't this the kind of scheme only a cult member could devise? Our local Daoist and Buddhist associations can no longer tolerate this!"

    Everyone: "..."

    All the Daoist masters, including Little Fatty, secretly cast their gazes at a certain figure in their ranks, tightly wrapped in a black down jacket.

    Wei Xi: "?"

    Faced with Elder Nian's fury, Daoist Quan, the pillar of the Beijing Daoist Association, felt himself age several years in an instant. "Well... the existence of Yin soldiers can't be generalized."

    Elder Nian: "?"

    Daoist Quan awkwardly explained, "Mainly because sometimes, legitimate Taoist temples might also keep a few."

    Elder Nian realized the situation and quickly said, "Fellow Daoist, I didn't mean to generalize. Each Taoist sect might raise one or two Yin soldiers, which is understandable. Our main issue with the Cultivation Teaching is that they have too many – at least a few hundred! Can you tell me if this is a normal occurrence?!!"

    The Daoist masters: "..............."

    Amidst the silence, Elder Nian from Xin Nan started feeling uneasy.

    Why did the atmosphere turn so strange again?

    Chilly and aggrieved, Little Fatty couldn't help but grumble softly amidst the scolding, "What are we compared to you? You still have official positions..."

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