Yu Hanjiang decided to expand the scope of the search and compiled the information on Lin Yiyan’s classmates in high school and university.
She had decided to go to the movie academy in her second year of high school. According to her parents, she rarely saw her high school classmates after being admitted to the movie academy. She still had contact with her good friends but these two people currently weren’t in Binzhou City. They only met with Lin Yiyan during the Spring Festival every year.
The two high school classmates didn’t have any motive for killing and they weren’t in Binzhou, so they obviously weren’t related to this case.
The university students were more complex.
Lin Yiyan was a student of the acting department of the Movie Academy. Several of her classmates had become famous in the entertainment industry and became popular traffic stars. Everyone was in a group to maintain warmth. At least on the surface, the relationship between classmates was very harmonious and they often organized gatherings.
These popular students all publicly wished Lin Yiyan a happy birthday on Weibo on October 29th. The names of these people were recorded in Yu Hanjiang’s book, including Qiao Xuening.
Unlike Lin Yiyan, who went smoothly all the way since her debut, Qiao Xuening’s past few years in the entertainment industry were full of ups and downs. She had been through thorns and bloodshed to reach her stable position today.
At the beginning, she acted in various supporting roles in online dramas such as the maidservant, dancer, villain… She acted as these supporting roles for three years. No one knew the name ‘Qiao Xuening’ and the bitterness could be imagined.
Her career could turn around thanks to Lin Yiyan.
This was eight years ago. At the time, Lin Yiyan was already well-known. She relied on the help of her agent Qi Ming to act in four different types of TV series in succession. The ratings and reviews were good and she had more than one million Weibo fans.
Starlight Entertainment invested in a large-scale production of an ancient costume palace fighting drama. Lin Yiyan took the role of the heroine and auditions for the other concubines were needed. She introduced this resource to her university classmate Qiao Xuening and asked Qiao Xuening to play the fourth female lead in the drama.
The fourth female lead didn’t have many scenes and the ending was quite sad. Fortunately, the character was distinctive. In addition, Qiao Xuening had played supporting roles for several years and her acting skills had improved. She interpreted this tragic character in a magical way, especially the scene where she committed suicide at the end. This caused many audience members to cry and created several hot searches.
It was precisely due to this drama that Qiao Xuening became known to the audience and directors in the circle. The directors discovered that this young girl actually had good acting skills?
As a result, Qiao Xuening went from being an invisible actor that no one knew about to being a representative of the ‘new generation of acting school’ in the eyes of the directors. There were naturally more appointments and the good scripts continued to arrive. Directors selected her to play the heroine and her popularity rose steadily.
Unfortunately, her luck was really bad.
Two years passed when a scandal about her suddenly broke out on the Internet. Qiao Xuening once had a relationship after graduating from high school. Her partner was a cool-looking Internet cafe boy and she chased this boy. They played games in the Internet cafe all night and took many intimate photos and videos, including many indecent photos of Qiao Xuening without clothes.
It was her boyfriend who released the videos and photos. It was said that Qiao Xuening dumped him less than a year after going to university. Her ex-boyfriend released these things after Qiao Xuening got popular for revenge.
Seeing her naked photos circulating everywhere on the Internet, Qiao Xuening’s emotions collapsed. At the press conference, she said she was young and met someone unsavory. She liked a scumbag and took many indecent photos with the scumbag. This was the thing she regretted most in her life. She not only publicly condemned the scumbag for exposing private photos and videos but she took the scumbag to court and publicly apologized to her fans.
The indecent photos that circulated everywhere on the Internet had a great influence on Qiao Xuening’s reputation. However, her handling of the crisis was good and the fans were sympathetic to her plight…
After a full two years of silence, Qiao Xuening regained the courage to return.
She filmed several TV series and her acting got better and better. In particular, her crying scenes almost became the benchmark of the entertainment circle. She could easily drive the emotions of the audience. After winning several awards, Qiao Xuening was gradually whitewashed.
In fact, the incident back then couldn’t be called her fault. It was everyone’s freedom to shoot intimate videos in private. The man who exposed the videos was the culprit. After she was whitewashed, she became more low-key and treated the staff and others around her very politely. She was notoriously dedicated when filming. It was said that she would repeatedly memorize the script before filming and she rarely forgot her lines.
In the filming of Twin Flowers, her agent suggested she used a stand-in for the difficult dance moves but Teacher Qu said that Qiao Xuening was very dedicated. In order to play the heroine, she went to dance classes for a month.
On the surface, this actress was tough, hard-working and inspiring.
Xiao Lou had compiled the information on Starlight Entertainment’s celebrities and also compiled Qiao Xuening’s information. It was because he knew that Qiao Xuening was the heroine of Twin Flowers and the information might be useful.
Xiao Lou had the foresight to organize the information so Yu Hanjiang’s knowledge of Qiao Xuening was very clear. Yu Hanjiang heard Cheng Yu mention Qiao Xuening and quickly recalled these materials. He and Xiao Lou exchanged looks and decided to question Qiao Xuening in person.
It was 8 o’clock in the evening. Twin Flowers might be a dog-blood idol drama but it had two popular stars, Qiao Xuening and Cheng Yu. The investors gave a lot of money and the director was also generous. The entire floor of the five-star hotel was directly booked and several famous actors lived there during filming.
Qiao Xuening’s room was 7311. Yu Hanjiang took Xiao Lou and knocked on Qiao Xuening’s door. A young girl opened the door. She should be an assistant. She was surprised when she saw the two people and wondered, “Did you knock on the wrong door?”
Yu Hanjiang showed his police officer’s card. “Police.”
The assistant immediately turned back to the room to find the agent. Qiao Xuening’s agent was a middle-aged woman who was around 40 years old. She looked mature and stable at first glance. She politely nodded to Yu Hanjiang and said, “Hello, officer. I don’t know what case you are investigating but are you sure you don’t have the wrong person?”
Yu Hanjiang asked, “Is Miss Qiao Xuening in the room?”
The agent was stunned. “This…”
“We came to her to investigate some things. I hope she can cooperate.”
The agent was forced to invite the two people inside. It would be big trouble if she hindered the police from investigating a case.
The two of them entered the room and happened to see Qiao Xuening barefoot and in loose clothing, making the horse posture on the carpet. Qu Wanyue was actually there as well. After seeing Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou, Qu Wanyue pretended not to know them. She took up, walked to the agent’s side and asked, “Sister Xu, what’s going on?”
Sister Xu frowned. “Teacher Qu, I have to trouble you today to go back first. There are some things to deal with. I will find you tomorrow.”
Qu Wanyue took a look at Xiao Lou, nodded and left.
The agent also sent the assistant away and only four people were left in the room. Qiao Xuening stood up in a questioning manner, put on more clothes and slippers and came to Yu Hanjiang. She asked politely, “These two are?”
Yu Hanjiang took out his police officer ID. “Hello Miss Qiao. I am Yu Hanjiang, the captain of the Binzhou Criminal Police team. I am here to investigate a criminal case. Do you know Lin Yiyan? How is your relationship with her?”
Qiao Xuening was slightly startled. “Xiao Yan? Of course I know her. We were classmates and shared a dormitory for four years in university. We have a good relationship. The entertainment industry is complicated and it is much easier when there are a few classmates who can look after each other.”
She looked at the agent. “Sister Xu, pour the two police officers a glass of water.”
Sister Xu politely poured three glasses of water and handed them to Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou. Yu Hanjiang put the class on the table without intending to drink. Qiao Xuening took a few sips. It was obvious that she was sweaty and thirsty from dancing.
Qiao Xuening stretched out a hand to the balcony and said, “We can sit down and talk here.”
Yu Hanjiang walked over and sat down on the sofa. Xiao Lou also sat with him while taking out his notebook and pen. Qiao Xuening sat across from them and drank a few sips of water to moisturize her throat. “Officer Yu, you suddenly asked about Xiao Yan. What happened?”
Yu Hanjiang asked instead, “On November 16-17th, where were you in these two days and what did you do?”
“The 16th? I seem to be recording a variety show.” She looked up at the agent. “Sister Xu, please check for me. I was very busy during the week and I don’t remember the dates clearly.”
The agent opened her phone and checked the records carefully. “Yes, Xuening recorded ‘Close Your Eyes When it is Dark’ in the suburbs. The program team invited her as a guest. I have the announcement schedule here.”
She handed her phone to Yu Hanjiang. “At 12 noon on the 16th, I sent her there. I arrived in the mountains and picked her up at noon on the 17th. This show was recorded in the mountains in order to create an appropriate atmosphere.”
Xiao Lou was surprised and asked, “Close Your Eyes When it is Dark? Is this where everyone gets an identity such as a police officer, killer or civilian and then you play a murder game. The killer must kill all the civilians to win, the police must find the killers and guide the citizens to vote for the right person and exile the killers… are the rules like this?”
Qiao Xuening nodded with a smile. “Do you also play?”
Xiao Lou said, “I used to play in school.”
Qiao Xuening explained, “The first season of the show only started this year. In order to attract the audience, the show invited many famous guests. Our recording this time is a game mode with 12 players. There were four killers, four police officers and four civilians. Everyone lives in a tent… the director said that when it is dark, the killers will come out and tag people. The person who is tagged is equivalent to being dead.”
Yu Hanjiang asked, “What identity card did you draw?”
“I drew a police officer in the first round but unfortunately, I didn’t know how to play. I was voted out by the villagers. The effect wasn’t very good. We recorded it for one night and played a total of five rounds. In the end, the director would select the most interesting round to edit and show.”
Yu Hanjiang confirmed it again. “So on the 16th to 17th, you were in the mountains recording a variety show?”
Qiao Xuening nodded. “Yes, to make the show more realistic, everyone had to live in a tent when recording the show. Fortunately, Sister Xu prepared a rechargeable heater for me in advance or I would’ve caught a cold.”
She paused and looked at Yu Hanjiang suspiciously. “Officer Yu, what happened? Why do you keep asking me about these days? There were no surprises during the recording of the show and everyone got along well.”
Yu Hanjiang’s voice was cold. “Miss Lin Yiyan died in her Yuehu villa in the early morning of the 17th.”
Qiao Xuening’s face was shocked and the cup in her hand fell to the ground. Her eyes widened with disbelief. “What? Xiao Yan, she… she is dead?”
Yu Hanjiang nodded. “Yes, the time of death is between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. on the 17th.”
Xiao Lou carefully observed Qiao Xuening’s face. After hearing Group Leader Yu’s words, the expression on her face was always shocked. After a while, she came back to her senses. Her lips trembled slightly and she whispered in a low voice, “How can that be? She sent me a WeChat message this morning…”
Yu Hanjiang wondered, “Can I take a look at your phone?”
Qiao Xuening quickly handed her phone to Yu Hanjiang and opened the chat record with Lin Yiyan. “Look, she sent me a message this morning. She knew my new drama would start soon and couldn’t come to visit. She told me to take care of myself in the crew.”
The WeChat message was actually sent at 9 o’clock this morning.
After receiving the message, Qiao Xuening replied: Thank you Xiao Yan. We will get together again when I finish!
Lin Yiyan replied: No problem. I will make your favourite coca cola chicken wings at the time.
Qiao Xuening replied with some greedy face emojis: I’m hungry.
Lin Yiyan: Let’s stop talking. I’m going to take my family out on a trip and might be slow to reply to messages these days. Just leave me a message if something happens.
Qiao Xuening: Okay, have fun.
The conversation ended here.
Yu Hanjiang flipped through it. There were just daily greetings between Qiao Xuening and Lin Yiyan as well as photos of the two girls sharing cosmetics and bags with each other. Nothing was wrong. He returned the phone to Qiao Xuening and asked, “You and Lin Yiyan have known each other for many years. As far as you know, did she have any grudges with someone in university or after she debuted?”
Qiao Xuening was silent for a moment. Her eyes flashed and her words stopped.
Yu Hanjiang spoke softly. “Miss Qiao, I hope you can tell us all you know about Lin Yiyan.”
Qiao Xuening took a deep breath and her eyelashes trembled slightly. “Xiao Yan treated me very well. During the time when I was at my lowest, I could only take on supporting roles. My monthly income was barely enough to eat and I couldn’t even pay the rent. At that time, Xiao Yan was already very popular. During one classmate gathering, I found her and asked her if she could help introduce some resources to me. Xiao Yan agreed. I thought she was joking but she did it. She introduced me to the supporting role in a large-scale costume drama and later introduced directors and screenwriters that she knew to me…”
At this point, the girl’s eyes reddened and tears appeared in her eyes. “Back then, my first boyfriend broke the scandal. Netizens circulated the photos and scolded me everywhere. At that time. Xiao Yan spoke form me. I will always remember this love and I think she is a very kind person. How could anyone kill her?”
Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou looked at each other.
It seemed that Lin Yiyan’s personality disorder made her play the role of ‘benefactor’ to this friend to gain a sense of accomplishment. She graciously helped her best friend and even now, Qiao Xuening praised her.
Xiao Lou interjected softly, “Did she tell you if she had grudges with anyone?”
Qiao Xuening wiped her eyes and looked away, trying her best to keep calm. “She hasn’t mentioned it. The usual content of our conversations is about cosmetics, clothes, perfumes, etc. Both of us are busy and don’t have much time to meet. I wanted to go celebrate her 30th birthday in person this year but I was shooting commercials on those days. I told her to wait until the end of the year to meet again. I didn’t expect that she would actually be dead!”
Yu Hanjiang wondered, “How much do you know about her emotional history?”
There was a hint of embarrassment on Qiao Xuening’s face. A moment later, she said, “I know she is with her agent.”
Yu Hanjiang asked again, “No other boyfriend?”
Qiao Xuening shook her head. “She didn’t mention it.”
Yu Hanjiang reconfirmed Qiao Xuening’s testimony again and found he couldn’t get any more clues here. He had to withdraw with Xiao Lou first. Before leaving, Yu Hanjiang gave Qiao Xuening a business card. “Miss Qiao, if you remember anything else about Lin Yiyan then you can always contact me.”
Qiao Xuening took the card with red eyes. “Yes, Group Leader Yu go carefully. I hope you can solve this case as soon as possible. A good person like Xiao Yan can’t die in vain. The murderer must be brought to justice!”
Proofreader: Fictional Reality