During noontime, Jin Qingyan was basking in the sun while laying on the sun bed in the yard when Fan Shixin approached him with the investigation results.
“According to the investigation, we discovered that Xu Youran grew up overseas and only returned in the recent years. But, she’s unemployed and has been idling at home most of the time. She even got engaged to Gu Dongcheng recently, and they’re about to get married soon.”
Jin Qingyan opened his eyes and asked, “Did you find out why she bears a grudge against us?”
“That’s very strange then,” said Jin Qingyan as he sat up straight.
“Young Sir, why do you want to check up on Xu Youran?”
“Nothing. Keep close tabs on Chi Rui’er and Xu Youran at all times and report to me every day. Remember, do not let them find out that you’re watching them.”
“Got it,” Fan Shixin acknowledged with a nod.
Jin Qingyan took a look at the time on his wristwatch and stood up to go back inside the house.
“Alright, I’ll make my way there now,” An Xiaoning said over the phone before ending the call upon seeing that he had entered.
“I need to go out for a while.”
“I have to make a trip back home. My mother said she’s not feeling too well. She went to the hospital for a checkup, but the doctors didn’t find anything wrong with her. She just mentioned that she was feeling exceptionally ill at ease. She’d like me to have a look at her and see if she’s encountered any spirits.”
“Let me send you there.”
“It’s alright. Send the children to school later. I’ll be back very soon,” An Xiaoning refuted.
“Alright, drive safe then.”
An Xiaoning tiptoed to give him a peck on his cheek before hurrying out of the door.
After parking her car outside the entrance of the Gu family mansion, An Xiaoning quickly alighted with her purse in hand.
“You’re back, Missy.” The guard at the door greeted her politely.
An Xiaoning quickened her pace and strode towards the main door. Just as she took a few steps, she stopped in her tracks all of a sudden and looked towards the south.
Holding her breath, she steered away from her intended route and began walking towards the south slowly.
She arrived at the Gu family ancestral hall.
An Xiaoning took a thorough look inside the hall before making her way back to the living room.
Leaning against the bedhead, Mrs. Gu clutched her chest in extreme discomfort.
At this very moment, she felt as if she was on the brink of death.
“Is Xiaoning home yet?”
The servant quickly strode towards the balcony to take a look before answering, “Madam, Missy is home. She’s walking in now.”
A smile of relief formed on Mrs. Gu’s face as she dismissed the servant, “You may go out first.”
A minute later, An Xiaoning arrived at the door of Mrs. Gu’s bedroom. “Mother.”
“Xiaoning, I feel a nagging ache in my chest, as if a million needles are piercing right through me. I just went to the hospital for an X-ray and a checkup, but the doctors said I was perfectly fine.”
An Xiaoning sat down by the side of the bed and took a closer look at the spot Mrs. Gu was pointing at. With a grim expression on her face, she asked, “Who’s in charge of keeping the keys to our family’s ancestral hall?”
“The keys are with your father, but he went hiking early in the morning and has yet to return home. I can’t reach him on his mobile phone either.”
An Xiaoning retrieved an amulet from her purse and said, “I’m not sure if it’ll work for the time being, but let’s just give it a try first.”
Keeping her eyes fixed on the amulet, An Xiaoning began chanting a long spell before placing the amulet onto Mrs. Gu’s chest.
“It works, it doesn’t hurt as much anymore,” Mrs. Gu said with a joyous smile.
“When I entered through the gate just now, I felt something unusual in our home in the direction of the ancestral hall. So, when Father comes home, let’s open the door of the ancestral hall. I’d like to go in to have a look. By the way, Mother, has anyone entered the ancestral hall recently?”
“I’m not too sure about that. Ask your father when he’s back.”
Holding her hand, An Xiaoning asked, “How do you feel now?”
“Much better. The pain was unbearable before you came back,” Mrs. Gu answered, nodding.
“Have you called Beicheng?”
“I’ll call him.” An Xiaoning whipped her phone out and gave Gu Beicheng a call.
Mr. Gu had yet to return home by the time Gu Beicheng was back.
“Mother, where does Father usually hike at?”
“He often goes to the Nanshan Mountain.”
An Xiaoning turned to Gu Beicheng and said, “Go to Nanshan Mountain and look for Father.”
“Alright,” Gu Beicheng agreed and quickly set off.
One hour later, they were still not home yet.
An Xiaoning called Gu Beicheng again, only to hear that he did not manage to find Mr. Gu at Nanshan Mountain despite searching for a long time.
He had gone missing during hiking.
An Xiaoning began to sense something amiss. How could it be so coincidental? she thought to herself.
“Mother, I’ll drive there to help search for them.”
“Alright, go ahead.”
An Xiaoning quickly drove towards Nanshan Mountain.
After meeting up with Gu Beicheng, the two of them proceeded to search the different paths on the mountain, but to no avail.
Mr. Gu could not be reached on his mobile phone and was nowhere in sight.
Gu Beicheng’s last resort was to call Mr. Gu’s close friend, after which he discovered that Mr. Gu was currently having a game of chess over tea with that close friend.
Upon hearing that his son was looking for him, Mr. Gu responded by saying that he would go home at once.
Mr. Gu was already home by the time the two of them returned.
“My mobile phone was out of battery. I’ll charge it fully before going out next time,” said Mr. Gu, who was rather guilty after realizing that his son had had a hard time searching high and low for him.
“Father, where are the keys to the ancestral hall?” asked An Xiaoning.
“Here.” Mr. Gu retrieved a bunch of keys from his pocket and handed it to An Xiaoning.
“Father, has anyone asked you for the keys to enter the ancestral hall recently?” she asked.
“Yes, Dongcheng asked for them once last week.”
An Xiaoning immediately understood the situation. “Alright, let’s go to the ancestral hall to have a look.”
Mrs. Gu had initially wanted to tag along. However, Mr. Gu refused to let her do so. “Don’t get out of bed yet. Wait for us, we’ll be back soon.”
“I’d like to go have a look too,” Mrs. Gu insisted.
“Let’s allow Mother to come along since she wants to,” said An Xiaoning as she helped Mrs. Gu up.
The four of them proceeded to the ancestral hall together with the servants. However, the pain in Mrs. Gu’s chest would intensify with each step they took.
“Hold her,” Gu Beicheng instructed the servant.
Mrs. Gu stopped in her tracks.
Mr. Gu’s palms began to sweat as he found the entire situation too absurd and unbelievable.
Pangs of panic engulfed Mr. Gu, who chose to walk in last.
Upon arriving at the entrance of the ancestral hall, An Xiaoning opened the door with the key.
She pushed the doors forcefully, causing them to slam open with a loud thud.
They were greeted with a strong, chilly breeze.
She took the lead and began walking inside the hall.
Gu Beicheng walked beside her while Mr. Gu followed closely behind.
The ancestral hall was filled with the tablets of all the ancestors of the Gu family.
An Xiaoning reached out to bring the joss urn down from the altar and exited the hall while carrying it in her arms.
Under the bright rays of the sun, An Xiaoning flipped the urn upside down, causing the incense ashes to be scattered onto the ground.
All of a sudden, a small piece of bone appeared among the ashes.
“What’s that…?” Gu Beicheng said with a squint.
“It must be the remains of an animal or a human,” said An Xiaoning. She took out a square piece of yellow-colored paper from her purse, followed by a red ink pen.
She kneeled on the ground and began drawing an amulet on the piece of paper before pasting it onto the bone.
All of a sudden, the amulet began burning by itself with a crackling sound and turned into ashes.
The initial piece of bone immediately vanished out of sight.
If they had not witnessed it with their own eyes, Gu Beicheng and Mr. Gu would have never believed that a piece of bone could be turned into ashes by an amulet.