893 A Million Times for You 255
Jin Qingyan kissed her forehead and said, "I'll let you punish me however way you'd like if that's the case."
Grinning from ear to ear, she said, "Hurry and prepare some clothes. We'll set off once the news article is published."
He headed to the dressing room.
An Xiaoning began scrolling through the news online.
Less than twenty minutes later, she saw a news article about her, as promised by Tuoba Gucheng. He was rather efficient, after all.
The article was titled "Tuoba Gucheng verifies personally that An Xiaoning is a genuine fortune-teller."
The gist of the content was a clarification about An Xiaoning being a natural-born psychic who could communicate with spirits, and it also said that it was her paranormal abilities that helped the police crack several major cases and mysteries. It was also stated that the target of the ban was swindlers who were out to cheat money in the name of fortune-telling and that it had nothing to do with her at all. An Xiaoning was even acclaimed to be the most capable female fortune-teller in S Nation who also happened to be of a young age.
Many citizens changed their opinions toward her after the article was released.
How could it be false if even the nation's leader admitted to it himself?
An Xiaoning did not wish to make any further comments about those netizens who were sitting on the fence.
Tuoba Gucheng was the one who had driven her into a corner. At the same time, he was also the one who praised her above and beyond.
An Xiaoning and Jin Qingyan were stuck in heavy traffic due to the heavy storm in A City.
After parking their car in the carpark of the airport and paying the parking and maintenance fees, the pair boarded the plane to L City.
However, the flight was delayed for an hour due to the heavy rain.
An Xiaoning began sleeping the moment they boarded the plane, all the way until they touched down in L City two hours later.
During this time, the airport was overcrowded.
Needless to say, it must be the same for the rest of the car rental centers, subway stations, and railway stations in the city.
A somber mood filled the air in the city, and every single one of the citizens had a grave and melancholic expression on their faces.
An Xiaoning and Jin Qingyan hailed a taxi to the disaster relief command center after exiting the airport.
After chatting with the taxi driver while on their way to their destination, An Xiaoning learned that the adverse effects of the natural disaster this time were tremendous and severe. It was the first major earthquake that struck the nation in four decades.
An Xiaoning only witnessed and felt the relentlessness of natural disasters herself when she arrived at the site.
Various homes were destroyed, and numerous lives were lost.
Soldiers who were involved in relief efforts were giving everything they had to rescue the victims.
An Xiaoning saw with her very own eyes that there was not a single intact building in sight; debris from the collapsed buildings and houses were all over the place. There was nothing except the makeshift tents that had just been put up.
Despair, hopelessness, grief, agony, and resentment toward Heaven were written all over the faces of the victims.
They entered the command center. Upon the sight of An Xiaoning, Chief of Staff Lin greeted politely, "You're here?" He made sure not to show his innermost emotions to the woman who used to be his goddaughter.
"Yes. How are the relief efforts going?"
"They're still in the midst of carrying out rescue and mitigation efforts. We're not carrying high hopes, but we won't just give up, nevertheless."
"Why weren't the reverends able to perform the ritual?"
Chief of Staff Lin answered, "The reverends said that there are too many wandering spirits here who have died a wrongful death. They said that the spirits hindered them from performing the ritual."
An Xiaoning looked up and said, "What's the purpose of keeping them around if they can't provide help whenever necessary? Just what do they even do? Is it true that the reapers were seen, or are those just false rumors?"
"It's real. The children witnessed them with their own eyes."
An Xiaoning said coldly, "Got it. I reckon the reverends must have been lying. Since there were reapers around, there wouldn't be too many vengeful souls to stop the rituals from proceeding. Do they really think the reapers are that incompetent? If there were not that many spirits to obstruct them, why were the reverends incapable of performing the ritual? Please relay my words to His Majesty."
She then left together with Jin Qingyan.
Finding that her words had made sense, Chief of Staff Lin immediately reported the incident to Tuoba Gucheng.
The average human was bound to be less informed about such superstitions. Tuoba Gucheng thought the same after hearing An Xiaoning's words, which had been relayed to him. Hence, he immediately summoned the reverends.
"Did you guys say that there were too many spirits who stopped you from performing the ritual?" he questioned.
The head nun answered. "Yes, there were way too many vengeful spirits."
"Why were there so many even when the reapers and soul-catchers were present?"
"Well… maybe the reapers took pity on them and decided to let them stay behind for a few more days to look at their beloved ones…"
Tuoba Gucheng squinted and said, "I've already sent An Xiaoning on a task to visit the disaster sites. If she tells me that there aren't that many vengeful spirits, what do you think I should do with you?"
The reverends looked at each other in dismay, not sure how they should answer him.
"If you don't come clean and tell me the truth, I'll execute all of you," he threatened, glowering at them menacingly with his hands behind his back.
All of a sudden, they dropped onto their knees in front of him. The head nun kowtowed and said, "Your Majesty, it's not that we didn't want to do anything. Rather, that place was just too spooky and we couldn't perform any rituals at all. Whenever we tried to, our setup would be ruined time and time again. Nothing helped even after we tried every possible solution. After discussing in private, we came to a consensus that there was a strong evil presence that was continuously obstructing us. However, we're only human and had acquired the skills from our masters. We can't see any supernatural beings at all."
Tuoba Gucheng gestured for them to leave and said, "You're dismissed."
"Yes, Your Majesty."
They retreated with cold sweat all over their bodies.
In L City, the weather began to get breezy in the evening, and heavy, gray clouds had gathered in the sky. An Xiaoning was worried that the rain would spread to L City too.
However, the more worried she was, the more her dreaded outcome would happen.
Not long after, it began drizzling.
The rain would be disadvantageous and bring about a great hindrance to the rescue team.
Soon, the rain got heavier and showed no signs of stopping.
An Xiaoning and Jin Qingyan were wearing ponchos while treading along the ruined pavement. Jin Qingyan was holding onto a big bag that was not quite heavy despite being stuffed with several items.
An Xiaoning was holding a torchlight in her hands and leading the way.
She began to sense that something was amiss upon realizing that she had yet to see a single vengeful spirit despite having walked for so long.
Could it be that the reapers were extremely efficient and had gathered all the spirits?
An Xiaoning did not have a clear idea.
"What's going on? I didn't see a single spirit at all."
Jin Qingyan said softly, "Let's continue walking for a bit more."
The pair proceeded along the route and arrived at a remote territory where there was not a single human in sight. They walked past the sidewalk and made it onto the main road.
There was a shallow canal beside the main road. On the other side of the canal was a hill.
Moments later, An Xiaoning quickly grabbed Jin Qingyan's raincoat, switched off her torchlight, and pulled him toward the other side of the road. "Don't move."
Jin Qingyan stood beside her near a boulder on the hill, filled with tension while remaining still and listening to her instructions.
In the darkness of the night, the two of them stood still, perfectly camouflaged.
Less than a minute later, Jin Qingyan heard uniform footsteps approaching them slowly. However, he could not see any humans in the area where the noises were coming from.