Wang Lan and Zhang's journey of magical powers, riches, healing, and divine intervention, marred by wrongful accusations.
In Lijin County, there was a man named Wang Lan who suddenly fell seriously ill and died. When he arrived in the underworld, the Yama King conducted a reexamination and discovered that a little ghost had mistakenly taken Wang Lan’s soul. Yama King ordered the little ghost to return Wang Lan’s soul to the mortal world for revival, but his body had already decayed. The little ghost, fearing Yama King’s blame, said to Wang Lan, “Being a ghost after death is very painful, but if you can transform into an immortal, it will be joyful. If there is happiness here, why bother being reborn in the human world?” Wang Lan agreed with this reasoning. The little ghost said, “There is a fox spirit in this place that has already refined the golden elixir. If we steal its golden elixir and you consume it, your soul will not dissipate, and it can exist forever, allowing your soul to go wherever it pleases without any troubles. Are you willing?” Wang Lan followed the little ghost’s suggestion. The little ghost led him to a grand mansion, and inside, the buildings were tall and spacious, but eerily quiet with no one around. There was a fox spirit under the moonlight, tilting its head towards the sky. With a breath, a small pellet was expelled from its mouth and flew up into the moon. Then, with another breath, the pellet fell back down, and the fox spirit caught it with its mouth, repeating this process endlessly. The little ghost quietly hid beside the fox spirit, and when it expelled the pellet again, it quickly grabbed it and handed it to Wang Lan, who swallowed it. The fox spirit was greatly surprised and angrily rushed over, but seeing that there were two of them, it was afraid of being outnumbered and had no choice but to leave in resentment. After bidding farewell to the little ghost, Wang Lan returned home. When his wife and children saw him, they were initially terrified and wanted to run away. After Wang Lan explained the situation to them, they gradually gathered around. From then on, he lived at home just as before.
Wang Lan had a friend named Zhang, who, upon hearing the news, came to visit him. After exchanging pleasantries and greetings, Wang Lan said to Zhang, “Both our families have always been poor, but now I have acquired some magical powers that can make us rich. Would you like to join me?” Zhang agreed. Wang Lan continued, “I can cure illnesses without medicine and predict the future without divination. However, if I reveal my true form, those who already think I’m dead may be shocked and frightened. Can I possess your body to go outside?” Zhang readily agreed. So, on the same day, the two of them packed their belongings and set out. They arrived in the Shanxi region, where a rich man’s daughter had fallen seriously ill. She was in a constant state of unconsciousness and confusion, and despite trying various remedies and seeking divine help, nothing seemed to work. Zhang visited the wealthy man and boasted of his magical abilities. Since the wealthy man had only one daughter and cherished her deeply, he made a vow that he would reward anyone who could cure her illness with a thousand taels of silver. Zhang requested to see the patient. Accompanied by the wealthy man, Zhang entered the inner room, where the young girl lay unconscious. Zhang lifted her blanket and touched her body, but she remained unresponsive. Wang Lan secretly informed Zhang, “Her soul is lost, and we need to find it for her.” Zhang then told the wealthy man, “Though her condition is dire, there is still hope.” The wealthy man asked, “What medicine is needed?” Zhang replied that no medicine was needed and explained, “Your daughter’s soul has left her body, and I have sent divine beings to search for it.” After about an hour, Wang Lan suddenly returned and informed Zhang that the young girl’s soul had been found. Zhang asked the wealthy man to enter the room again, and as he touched his daughter, she suddenly woke up, stretching and opening her eyes. The wealthy man was overjoyed and lovingly inquired about what had happened. His daughter explained, “I was playing in the garden earlier, and I saw a young man using a slingshot to shoot birds. Some people were holding fine horses and following him. I tried to avoid him, but he blocked my way. He handed me the slingshot and tried to teach me how to use it. I scolded him in embarrassment, but he lifted me onto a horse, rode alongside me, and said with a smile, ‘I like playing with you, don’t be shy.’ We rode deep into the mountains. I cried and scolded him on the horse, and in anger, he pushed me off the road. I wanted to go home but couldn’t find my way. Just then, someone came and grabbed my arm, and we ran so fast, it felt like we were riding horses. In the blink of an eye, we arrived home, and I suddenly woke up as if I had just had a dream.” The wealthy man was amazed at Zhang’s extraordinary abilities and promptly rewarded him with a thousand taels of silver. On that night, Wang Lan and Zhang discussed their plan. Wang Lan left two hundred taels of silver for travel expenses, while the rest was transferred to his own home through his magical powers. He knocked on his own door and handed the money to his son, instructing him to send three hundred taels to Zhang’s family. After completing the task, Wang Lan returned. The next day, they bid farewell to the wealthy man, who couldn’t figure out where their silver had disappeared to, making their departure all the more mysterious. He generously gave them valuable gifts before parting ways.
After a few days, Zhang encountered his fellow townsman, He Cai, on the outskirts. He Cai was deeply immersed in drinking, gambling, and neglecting his responsibilities, and he was exceedingly poor, resembling a beggar. When he heard that Zhang had learned extraordinary magical abilities and acquired a vast amount of silver, he came seeking Zhang’s help. Wang Lan advised Zhang to give He Cai a small amount of money and send him away. However, He Cai did not change his old habits, and within ten days, he had spent all the silver. He then wanted to return to Zhang. Wang Lan had already foreseen this and told Zhang, “He Cai is arrogant and unreasonable, and it’s best not to associate with him. We can give him some money to leave, and even if he causes trouble, it won’t be as severe.” The next day, He Cai indeed showed up, forcibly demanding to work with Zhang. Zhang said, “I knew you would come back. You drink and gamble every day, and even with a thousand taels of silver, how can it fill your bottomless pit? If you can truly mend your ways, I will give you one hundred taels of silver.” He Cai promised to change his bad habits, and Zhang handed him all the money from his purse. After He Cai left, he was emboldened by the one hundred taels of silver and indulged even more in reckless gambling, spending lavishly on the streets and courting prostitutes. The local constables suspected him of committing a crime and arrested him, subjecting him to brutal torture during interrogation. He Cai confessed the source of the silver without hesitation. The county magistrate then dispatched officers to arrest Zhang. However, a few days later, He Cai died on the way due to severe injuries. His soul still remembered to seek out Zhang, and he attached himself to Zhang’s body, leading to a reunion with Wang Lan’s soul. One day, while they were gathering and drinking at the Yandun ruins, He Cai’s soul became extremely intoxicated, shouting and causing a disturbance. Wang Lan tried to restrain him, but he wouldn’t listen. Coincidentally, the imperial inspector’s carriage passed by, and upon hearing the commotion, he ordered a search, which resulted in Zhang’s capture. Zhang was very frightened and revealed the truth. The imperial inspector was furious, ordered Zhang to be whipped, and reported the case to the divine spirits. That night, the imperial inspector had a dream in which a divine figure clad in golden armor informed him, “Wang Lan was wrongly killed and has now become a celestial being. He showed kindness in healing people and should not be treated as a malevolent spirit. Today, by the decree of the Jade Emperor, he is appointed as a guardian of the Clear Way. He Cai, on the other hand, was licentious and debauched, and he has already been punished and exiled to Iron Enclosure Mountain. Zhang is innocent and should be pardoned.” The imperial inspector woke up from the dream, greatly astonished, and subsequently released Zhang.
Zhang returned to his hometown and prepared his belongings. He still had several hundred taels of silver in his money bag, so he took out half of it and respectfully gave it to the Wang family. As a result, the descendants of the Wang family became prosperous.