“Do you work out?”
“Why do you always have so many questions?”
“Do exorcists need physical training? Do you have any sports that you’re good at?”
“Oh, you really seem like someone who exercises regularly.”
The two people were lying side by side on Jiang Hong’s bed. Lu Xiu was wearing Jiang Hong’s bathrobe, revealing his lean chest and abdomen muscles and his white ankles under the robe. He played with his phone boredly while waiting for Xu Xuyang’s message.
Jiang Hong also loved swimming, and in his second year of middle school, his coach even taught him diving. However, he grew too fast in his third year and wasn’t suitable for diving, so he had to give up.
“How many demons are there in China?” Jiang Hong asked.
“Many,” Lu Xiu replied casually.
“How do they become demons through cultivation? Do they have to start with living things? Can cockroaches become demons?” Jiang Hong asked.
“No,” Lu Xiu answered.
“Is it because they’re insects? But why can spiders become demons?” Jiang Hong continued to ask.
“Can trees become demons?” Lu Xiu asked.
“Flowers can, right? Then why can’t vegetables like bok choy become demons? I’ve never heard of broccoli and edamame becoming sentient, have you? They’re all plants. Why can’t they become demons?”
“If a beautiful painting can become a demon, can Mona Lisa and The Guiding Light of the People come to life?”
“Since swords and musical instruments can become sentient beings, why can’t washing machines and dryers?”
“Enough.” Lu Xiu put down his phone and looked at Jiang Hong.
“I really have a lot of questions,” Jiang Hong said.
“The preface of Record of All Things has the answers. It’s in the first book of the People’s Education Press,” Lu Xiu said.
“Is that a textbook for exorcists?” Jiang Hong asked.
“If you major in exorcism, you will learn it,” Lu Xiu said.
“How do dragons fly without wings? They clearly don’t have wings. Do they use jet propulsion? Where do they exhale the gas? Won’t they just fly straight and hit something when they take off? How do they ascend?” Jiang Hong asked.
“…” Lu Xiu didn’t answer.
“The second book of Geomagnetic Aerodynamics,” Lu Xiu said. “Go to sleep.”
It was ten o’clock, and Jiang Hong spoke in the darkness again: “One last question, big brother. Hold her and sleep. She’s my goddess.” He handed Lu Xiu a Fate / Stay Night Saber body pillow.
Lu Xiu’s hand paused on the light switch, looking at Jiang Hong, gesturing for him to ask quickly.
“What do you eat to grow up so handsome? Do you have a girlfriend?” Jiang Hong asked.
Lu Xiu didn’t bother to answer and turned off the light to go to sleep.
In the dark night, Lu Xiu lay quietly. Twenty seconds later, Jiang Hong kicked the blanket off.
Lu Xiu’s long legs stretched out and pulled the blanket back, but Jiang Hong kicked it off again. Lu Xiu pulled it back, and Jiang Hong kicked it off again. This repeated several times.
“What are you doing?” Lu Xiu asked impatiently.
“I’m too hot,” Jiang Hong said. “Let’s talk. I can’t sleep.”
Jiang Hong turned over and sat up, leaning closer to Lu Xiu’s face, full of expectation and ready to ask questions. But Lu Xiu acted decisively and pressed his hand on Jiang Hong’s face.
“Shh,” Lu Xiu whispered in a soft, strange language.
Jiang Hong: “…”
“I still have a question…” Jiang Hong didn’t finish his sentence and collapsed as if he had been drugged.
Lu Xiu helped Jiang Hong lie down, lowered the air conditioning by one degree, and lay down to sleep himself.
Jiang Hong’s vision turned black, but soon it became bright again.
He found himself in a vast underground cave, surrounded by dim blue light. The cave walls were full of embedded grottos that looked like many small windows from a distance.
“Is anyone there?” Jiang Hong shouted. “Where am I?”
The blue light shone on the grottos. Jiang Hong walked closer and saw that almost all of thm had naked “people” in them, and only a few were empty.
These people were sleeping, like artificial beings cultivated in nutrient tanks in science fiction movies. The blue light shone on their naked skin, giving off a strange luster.
It was so strange… but Jiang Hong didn’t feel scared. He turned and walked towards the underground lake in the center of the cave.
“Hurry up!” a voice sounded in his ear.
Jiang Hong suddenly turned his head and saw Lu Xiu. Lu Xiu grabbed his hand and didn’t let him get close to the lake. Suddenly, he pulled Jiang Hong towards himself, hugged him, and turned into a giant beast, carrying Jiang Hong and flying up, breaking through the dome.
Jiang Hong saw that “big and black thing” again, but he didn’t have time to see it clearly. He hugged the giant beast tightly and flew out of the underground.
“What is this?!” Jiang Hong suddenly woke up and found himself hugging Lu Xiu, who was sleeping next to him, tightly with both hands and feet.
Lu Xiu seemed to have not slept at all. His left hand was holding his phone, and his right hand was placed lightly on Jiang Hong’s head.
Jiang Hong moved, and Lu Xiu knew he was awake, so he pushed his head away.
“Oh… it was a dream.” Jiang Hong let go of Lu Xiu, but he could still smell his scent – a mixture of shower gel and the aroma of young, warm skin.
“What did you dream about?” Lu Xiu glanced at him.
“I forgot.” Jiang Hong rubbed his sleepy eyes and tried to remember, but he forgot everything and only knew he had a dream. He looked at the time and was shocked.
“Is it already five in the morning?” Jiang Hong couldn’t believe it.
Lu Xiu made a sound of agreement, and Jiang Hong pulled back the curtains to see a torrential rain outside. This summer, rainfall in Chongqing was unusually high, especially in the past few days.
“Ah, it’s raining so heavily,” Jiang Hong said. “Let’s skip the extra classes today. You already went over the exam questions with me yesterday.”
“Whatever you want,” Lu Xiu replied. He then sat up and crossed his legs, seriously replying to messages on his phone.
Jiang Hong then lay down next to Lu Xiu again, and after rolling around for a few moments said, “Let’s order some takeout. I’m really hungry.”
Lu Xiu suddenly looked at Jiang Hong with hesitation in his eyes.
“What’s wrong?” Jiang Hong asked.
Lu Xiu thought for a moment and said, “I need to go out for a bit. Where are my clothes?”
Lu Xiu went to the bathroom to change, returning in a dress shirt and trousers. He fastened his tie at the bedside while Jiang Hong sat up and asked, “Where are you going? Can I come with you?”
After some hesitation, Lu Xiu finally said, “If you want to come, you have to follow my lead.”
“Okay,” Jiang Hong replied, jumping up to change his clothes. He immediately realized Lu Xiu’s purpose – he was going to hunt demons!
Amidst the pouring rain, Jiang Hong stood outside on the street wearing his morning jogging gear and a hood pulled up to cover his head, holding a large umbrella and waiting at Qixinggang.
A delivery guy on an electric bike came up and shouted, “Lu Ge! Follow us! The boss is waiting for you at the location!”
Behind the delivery guy was a Mercedes.
“We’re going to hunt demons, right?” Jiang Hong asked quietly in the car.
Lu Xiu remained calm and made a “shh” gesture, handing his phone to Jiang Hong to take care of.
Outside the back door of the First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, on Yuanjiagang:
The sky was pitch black, and lightning flashed intermittently. It was 5:40 in the morning, and the breakfast shop near the back door was already open. Xu Xuyang ordered breakfast, and the three of them sat at a small table. Two middle-aged men carrying black briefcases arrived and stood behind Xu Xuyang.
“Are you hungry?” Xu Xuyang greeted them. “Let’s eat breakfast first.”
The shop owner brought over the food, and Xu Xuyang said to the two men behind him, “You guys can sit down too. You’re too conspicuous here. Go eat over there.”
“They’re colleagues,” Xu Xuyang explained. “The director asked us to work together to catch that bat demon. Is it the one that kidnapped you?” he then asked Jiang Hong.
“What did you find out?” Lu Xiu asked.
“We’ve been investigating this bat demon for some time. The company you mentioned, ‘Wuyou Housekeeping’, is one of the hospital’s outsourced cleaning contractors. The bat demon has been hiding in Chongqing Medical University and has been looking for opportunities to suck blood.”
Jiang Hong wanted things to be a little scary, but still within an acceptable range.
“We’ll go to the morgue later.”
Jiang Hong: “……”
Lu Xiu: “What about the monkey demon?”
“The whereabouts of the monkey demon haven’t been found yet,” Xu Xuyang said. “Another group of colleagues went to look for it. Maybe this bat demon can reveal its accomplice. You don’t need to do anything later, just watch.”
Jiang Hong breathed a sigh of relief, but Lu Xiu reminded him, “Be careful.”
It was six o’clock in the morning. The outpatient department was not open yet, and the heavy rain was still pouring down. The place was almost completely dark.
Xu Xuyang’s two exorcist colleagues went up from the back door first, and one of them swiped the card to the safety passage. Jiang Hong followed behind Lu Xiu, feeling a little scared, and stretched out his hand several times. Lu Xiu felt it and turned sideways, letting Jiang Hong grab the sleeve of his long-sleeved shirt.
“If you’re scared, let’s go back first,” Lu Xiu said.
Jiang Hong knew that Lu Xiu wanted him to dispel his fear, and he could also help with identifying the bat demon, so he shook his head.
“It’s okay,” Jiang Hong said, “just a little creepy in the hospital…”
“Hospitals belong to the metal element,” Xu Xuyang, who was responsible for the rear, said, “and the yin energy is heavy, but as long as you are righteous, how does that saying go? You won’t be afraid of ghosts knocking at the door in the middle of the night.”
Jiang Hong laughed. This sentence effectively reassured him.
There was a “creak creak” sound that came from the morgue. The corridor was dimly lit with fluorescent lamps, making the surrounding environment bleak and white.
Fortunately, there were many people this time. Otherwise, Jiang Hong would definitely have yelled for help and fled all the way.
“Relax a little. You’re holding on too tight,” Lu Xiu whispered.
Jiang Hong released a little bit of his grip on Lu Xiu’s sleeve.
After all the arrangements were made, the two exorcists guarded outside the morgue, one on the left and one on the right.
Xu Xuyang stood in front of Lu Xiu and Jiang Hong, with his legs slightly apart.
Jiang Hong thought that it was time to witness magic…
“Exorcists on duty!” A roar startled Jiang Hong. Before he could prepare himself mentally, the two exorcists kicked open the door of the morgue.
A cold mist rushed out. Corpses lay everywhere in the morgue. Many drawers were pulled open, and two uniformed cleaners, a man and a woman, were biting on the corpses, sucking blood. They made a terrible scream when they heard the loud noise, and immediately stood up.
“Aaahh…” Jiang Hong saw so many dead people for the first time and was suddenly frightened. He instinctively wanted to call for help. He grabbed his protective charm, and shouted, “Lu Xiu, Lu Xiu…”
“I’m right here!” Lu Xiu said. “What are you shouting for?”
Those two demons instantly transformed into human-sized giant bats, spreading their wings, and rolling up the heavy steel coffin. They rushed towards the exorcists with a whooshing sound.
One of the exorcists shook a scroll, and a gust of wind rose up, making an endless loud noise. The other exorcist rolled on the ground and entered the mortuary, throwing talismans that automatically adhered to the wall!
“You bastards!” a crazy voice roared, and a bat demon once again transformed into human form. Jiang Hong instantly recognized the middle-aged woman.
“It’s her!” Jiang Hong shouted. “It’s her!”
In the chaos, Lu Xiu said, “Don’t grip so hard. You’ll tear my shirt!!!”
Jiang Hong gripped tighter and even pulled Lu Xiu’s sleeve towards him, tearing his shirt collar and revealing half of Lu Xiu’s chest.
Steel coffins were everywhere, with bodies scattered inside. Jiang Hong hid behind Lu Xiu. Then, the bat demon noticed Jiang Hong and rushed towards him with a terrifying smile. But when it got close, Lu Xiu simply lifted his hand and made a small gesture, uttering a word.
The space seemed to be compressed, producing a strange ripple. Silently, it hit the bat demon head-on, and she immediately spurted blood. She vomited all the blood she had been sucking and was thrown back!
Xu Xuyang held a plastic lunchbox, opened it with a powerful clack, and pointed the uncovered lid towards the first bat demon. A powerful wind sucked the bat demon in, and she rapidly shrank in mid-air, then she was “whooshed” and collected inside the lunchbox.
“Wow–” Jiang Hong saw for the first time that demons could also be collected in lunchboxes. It was so amazing!
Xu Xuyang humbly nodded and pasted a talisman on the lunchbox. The middle-aged female bat demon was still struggling inside the lunchbox, while the other bat demon in the mortuary went crazy and flew around.
The two exorcists rushed in but heard a loud noise.
“Watch out!” Lu Xiu pulled Jiang Hong back, and there were flying talismans everywhere. They did not know what the other bat demon had done, but they saw it suddenly open its mouth, revealing its sharp teeth.
Lu Xiu immediately reached out and decisively blocked Jiang Hong’s ears with his long fingers.
The world was silent for a moment. Jiang Hong turned around in surprise and saw Xu Xuyang and the two exorcists turning around at the same time, covering their ears.
Bats could emit supersonic waves… Jiang Hong suddenly remembered.
The next moment, the floor collapsed under the shock of the supersonic waves. The entire corridor shattered and collapsed!
Lu Xiu’s hands were blocking Jiang Hong’s ears, and for a moment, he was caught off guard. In this closed room, both of them fell together with the exorcists, dropping five floors at once. Dust was flying everywhere as they fell to the fourth floor.
A doctor and patient screamed. At the last moment, Xu Xuyang used a spell to create a barrier, protecting the doors of the hospital rooms on both sides of the corridor.
The fourth floor collapsed again, and Lu Xiu couldn’t free his hand. He kept falling with Jiang Hong, passing the third, second, and first floors. The accident happened in an instant. Jiang Hong saw a car tilted and overturned. He knew he had fallen into the underground parking lot.
The bat demon’s supersonic bombing had not stopped, and the cement floor of the underground parking lot burst open with a bang, plunging them into a hole in the ground!
At the last moment, when the supersonic attack stopped, Lu Xiu hugged Jiang Hong with his left hand and asked him to bury his head in his shoulder. He used the index and middle fingers of his right hand to draw a rune in the air, then slapped it with his palm.
An enormous black flame burst forth and rolled over them. Amidst the chaos, Jiang Hong was dizzy and disoriented, surrounded by darkness and debris. He felt Lu Xiu slowly lowering them to the ground, reducing the impact, and then something heavy exploded above their heads.
When everything finally quieted down, only the sound of their breathing remained. Lu Xiu finally released Jiang Hong, and they slowly stood up.
From the ruins came Xu Xuyang’s groans.
“F**k,” Xu Xuyang said. “It’s a bat king… I underestimated him…”
“Are you okay?” Jiang Hong got up, made sure he and Lu Xiu were okay, and quickly checked on the delivery guy.
No one protected Xu Xuyang when he fell, and he landed heavily, with blood all over his head. He stood up, supporting his left hand and staggering.
“My skills are inadequate, and I’ve made you two laugh,” Xu Xuyang said self-deprecatingly.
“Be careful.” Jiang Hong helped him up.
Lu Xiu took a few steps forward and looked up.
“Where are we?” Lu Xiu said. “The sewer?”
In front of them was a huge and spacious tunnel, but there was no water.
“It should be an air raid shelter,” Xu Xuyang said. “It was built during the war.”
“Right!” Jiang Hong said, “Chongqing has many tunnels like this.”
“I’m much better now, thank you,” Xu Xuyang said.
Jiang Hong turned on his phone’s flashlight and aimed it at the deep darkness. The walls of the tunnel were made of brick and stone.
Lu Xiu looked up at where they had fallen. It was blocked by rocks. He hesitated for a moment and asked, “Are there many people up there?”
“Yes.” Xu Xuyang knew what he wanted to do and quickly stopped him. “The area above is all in the downtown area. We can’t blast a hole out.”
“Then let’s go.” Lu Xiu signaled Jiang Hong to come to his side.
“My two colleagues should be up there, ” Xu Xuyang said. “Let’s find a way out first. Be careful not to run into a bat cave. I suspect their stronghold is here.”
The phone had no signal and couldn’t find its location, so the three of them walked in the direction where the wind was blowing.
The passage was silent.
“I should have studied exorcism instead of paranormal phenomenon analysis.” Xu Xuyang helplessly laughed.
Lu Xiu didn’t answer, walking in the front.
“Are you from Sky University?” Jiang Hong asked.
“You too?” Xu Xuyang said. “My junior.”
Jiang Hong quickly said, “No.”
Lu Xiu seemed to want to interrupt their conversation, but thought about it and didn’t say anything. When he lowered his head, he saw a trail of blood leading deeper into the air raid shelter.
“Walk slowly.” Jiang Hong saw that Xu Xuyang had a broken wrist and was sweating in pain, so he tried to divert his attention and chatted with him. “Why did you choose this major?”
“My grandmother passed away,” Xu Xuyang said. “I wanted to learn a way to communicate with ghosts so I could see her again.”
“Oh…” Jiang Hong became interested and asked, “Have you seen her?”
Xu Xuyang smiled and said, “Life and death is the biggest mystery in the world. I haven’t even learned the basics yet.”
Well, Jiang Hong now understood that ghosts did exist, but why hadn’t he ever encountered one?
“Jiang Hong.” Lu Xiu signaled for him to come to his side, no more idle talk.
It seemed like being an exorcist was indeed a very useful profession, Jiang Hong thought. Maybe he could help his parents live longer and even refine pills or something. Very interesting.
Lu Xiu led the two of them to a fork in the road, and the wind on one side became more pronounced.
On the other side, there were strange, grating sounds, as if countless mice were gnawing on wood.
Lu Xiu looked at Xu Xuyang and judged whether he could still participate in battle.
“You go this way,” Lu Xiu said. “Notify your colleagues to come and capture the demon.”
Xu Xuyang was silent for a moment, then nodded. Lu Xiu turned off his phone light and handed it to Jiang Hong for safekeeping.
“You…” Lu Xiu wanted Jiang Hong to follow Xu Xuyang, but he was a little uneasy and finally said, “You follow me.”
Jiang Hong nodded. Xu Xuyang didn’t insist, and reminded them to stay safe before limping towards the exit.
“He’s seriously injured,” Jiang Hong said softly.
Lu Xiu didn’t reply.
Two minutes later.
Lu Xiu: “Don’t pull my sleeve so hard. Are you scared again? Didn’t you say you’re not afraid when you’re with me?”
Jiang Hong pulled Lu Xiu’s sleeve and his shirt slipped down, revealing his beautiful shoulders and collarbone. They were now tugging back and forth.
“You’re not talking… It’s a bit scary.” Jiang Hong said, “Let’s hurry and get out.”
“What do you want to say? Say it now,” asked Lu Xiu. “Otherwise it will alarm the demons.”
Jiang Hong said, “But bats use supersonic waves. Even if we don’t make a sound, they can still sense us.”
Lu Xiu became impatient, but as they walked, a faint light suddenly appeared ahead.
Turning around the corner, the blue light grew brighter and brighter, and Lu Xiu stopped in his tracks.
There was a cold wind blowing inside the air-raid shelter, echoing throughout the cave. The cave walls were covered with thousands of bats, and there were blood vessel-like cracks on the ground and walls, flickering with a blue light. The blue light surged and pulsed like a heartbeat.
The cracks extended towards the center of the cave, where a huge white-haired gorilla sat, standing three meters tall. Its fur was extremely tough and dripping with water.
Several monkey-like demons were scattered around the gorilla, and in front of it lay a bat with half its wings torn off. The bat’s abdomen heaved, obviously in great pain. It was the bat king that had just been besieged.
Lu Xiu raised his hand to signal Jiang Hong not to move forward, and slowly retreated.
“Leave this place,” Lu Xiu whispered in a low voice.
“Since we’re already here, why do we have to leave?” The huge white-haired gorilla spoke with human words and said calmly, “It seems you know who I am. There aren’t many who know me in this world. Young man, no matter who you are, stay and play with me.”
At that moment, Jiang Hong felt an extremely dangerous atmosphere, as if two killing intents were fighting in the air that he couldn’t see. At the same time, Lu Xiu turned his hand and began to write with his index finger in Jiang Hong’s palm:
[Find a chance to run away. This guy is not easy to deal with.]