Yu Hanjiang drove to where the criminal police force of Qingshui Town was stationed.
At 11:40 p.m., the office was brightly lit. Group Leader Liu and the others were working overtime to investigate the vehicles driving out of the Jinxiu Villa garage. A young police officer saw Yu Hanjiang enter and quickly stood up. “Group Leader Yu, you came!”
Yu Hanjiang nodded and strode to the surveillance screen. He asked, “Have you found any suspicious vehicles?”
“At 4 p.m. this afternoon, there were a total of 84 vehicles that left the underground garage of Jinxiu Villa. 71 of them belong to owners of the community and 13 are temporary vehicles. The vehicles belonging to owners are easy to check. I have already confirmed the property management to confirm it and there are no doubts. Out of the 13 temporary vehicles, the traffic management bureau has found 10 of them. There are three whose owners I have been unable to contact.” Group Leader Liu frowned and pointed to the surveillance screen. “Moreover, these three cars have disappeared from the surveillance.”
“Show me.” Yu Hanjiang glanced at the information and bent over to hold the mouse so that the surveillance video quickly rewound.
The three cars determined by Group Leader Liu were private cars with different colors of black, white and red. They left Jinxiu Villa at 4:45, 5:10 and 5:30 p.m. respectively and left records at the surveillance at the door.
Strangely, the three cars disappeared from the surveillance network after making one round around town.
Yu Hanjiang clicked on the mouse to pause. The screen was on the last place where the black car appeared. All the cameras were broken in the residential area to the west of Qingshui Town. On the other screen, the white car appeared to the east of Qingshui Town while the red car disappeared into the south. The three cars drove in different directions into the blind spots of the surveillance in a tacit manner.
Yu Hanjiang decisively said, “They are doing this intentionally.”
Captain Liu was stunned and touched his chin thoughtfully. “Group Leader Yu, do you mean that they deliberately drove to different sections of road at different times to confuse the police and make us unable to determine the specific direction they left?”
“Yes, they divided themselves into three to increase the difficulty of the investigation. These people have very professional anti-investigation capabilities.” Yu Hanjiang zoomed in on the surveillance screen and carefully examined the tire marks of the three cars. He repeatedly switched between screens and the young police officer standing behind him was dazzled.
“Roads are being built around the town. Some sections of the roads aren’t in good condition and there are no surveillance cameras.” Group Leader Liu hurriedly explained when he saw Yu Hanjiang freeze the screen on a sandy road.
“It is the red car.” Yu Hanjiang straightened up and pointed to the tire marks on the screen. “Vehicles with different weight will leave different tire marks when they pass through a dirt road. This red car should be full of people. It is obviously heavier than the other two cars. If my guess is right, the kidnapped people should be sitting in the back of this car.”
“……” Group Leader Liu patted his forehead. “Yes, you can see tire marks more clearly on a dirt road with bad road conditions. They wanted to create numerous obstructions but they instead let us lock onto the car that took the hostages!”
“What is the situation around Qingshui Town?” Yu Hanjiang spoke softly. “Give me a detailed map.”
“Oh, yes!” Group Leader Liu found a map and handed it to Yu Hanjiang.
Yu Hanjiang picked up a pen and quickly drew three red crosses on the map. “The places where the three cars disappeared are to the east, west and south of the town. The red car with the hostages finally disappeared to the south. The black and white cars should be meant to mislead the police. The red car is the key.” Yu Hanjiang raised his head with sharp eyes. “There is no surveillance installed in this area?”
“Yes.” Group Leader Liu nodded vigorously. “The surrounding area of Qingshui Town hasn’t been developed yet. There are more than a dozen villages in the east, north and south directions. The economic conditions might not be good but the natural environment is beautiful. The city has issued a document with the intention of developing it into a tourist area.”
“How many villages are there in the south?”
“Six.” Group Leader Liu briefly introduced the situation of each village.
There were no wide roads at the junction of urban and rural areas, only country roads paved with sand and stone. In the south of the town, there were several forked roads leading to six different villages. The villages were far apart from each other and without surveillance, no one knew where the car went.
Yu Hanjiang lowered his head and glanced at his watch. It was 11:55 p.m. and there were only 5 minutes left until midnight. The information that could be obtained from the surveillance was limited. He could only infer that Xiao Lou was taken to the south and couldn’t waste any more time. Yu Hanjiang had this thought and immediately turned around. “I’m going to find that car.”
“Do you need reinforcements?”
“No need.” A large number of police officers might scare the snakes and lead to them getting rid of the hostages. Yu Hanjiang didn’t dare take this risk and waved his hand. “Thank you for your hard work. Group Leader Liu, if you find anything then contact me immediately.”
Yu Hanjiang turned to leave. He drove his black private car and stepped on the accelerator. The car rushed to the south of Qingshui Town like an arrow leaving the bowstring.
In the middle of the night, there weren’t many pedestrians in the town. Yu Hanjiang calmly drove at the highest speed and soon came to the position where the car disappeared from the surveillance. The road condition here was very bad. He saw the last camera flashing an infrared light on the side of the road. Further on was a country road with no street lights and no surveillance. The dark country road was like a wild beast with its mouth wide open, almost swallowing people.
Yu Hanjiang parked his car at the intersection and opened the map. There was a three-way forked road ahead. 10 kilometers to the left, there was a ‘丁’ junction leading to two villages. 10 kilometers to the right, there was another ‘丁’ junction leading to four different villages.
In other words, this forked road led to six villages and Xiao Lou could’ve been taken to any of the villages. Even if Yu Hanjiang drove the car at the fastest speed, it would take 30 minutes to reach the nearest village. Checking them one by one would require at least 180 minutes.
This was too late. If he found the wrong village, it was likely to delay the best rescue time and this would result in Xiao Lou’s group of three being brutally killed. This wasn’t a maze where they could return to the original point if they went wrong. It was a life or death multiple choice question. He simply couldn’t afford to choose the wrong place.
Out of the six roads, which one was the right one?
The car disappeared in this area at 6 p.m. This was the peak time to get off work. Many villagers from every village went to work in the small town so there were many cars on the road and the tire marks were very messy. He was no longer able to distinguish between the different tire marks, hoping to find the red car this way was impossible. The trail was broken yet again.
Yu Hanjiang returned to the car with a cold face. Then his phone lit up and he received a message. [We have arrived at Xishan Cemetery.]
It was sent by Shao Qingge.
Yu Hanjiang replied: [Pay attention to safety.]
Shao Qingge: [You too. Once midnight arrives, we will make contact with Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings.]
Then he deleted the chat record completely. He carried the box containing the ransom money and went to the designated position with his teammates.
Xishan Cemetery, the 18th row, the 10th gravestone to the left.
It was almost midnight and the cemetery was deserted. The willow trees next to the cemetery swayed in the wind. Under the light of the hazy moonlight, the shadows of the trees on the ground were like ghosts dancing with teeth and claws.
Going to the cemetery in the middle of the night made people feel terrified. Besides, it wasn’t known who was watching them secretly. Shao Qingge turned on the flashlight. He took his teammates to the gravestone and put down the box full of money.
He shone a flashlight on the gravestone only to find a printed A4 paper was stuck on the cold gravestone. It had instructions that read: “Put down the box, leave the cemetery and turn left after going down the mountain.”
Shao Qingge frowned and took out his mobile phone to send a message. [We handed over the money as agreed. Where are my friends?]
The other person said: [Follow the instructions or you will only see their bodies.]
Shao Qingge had to put down the box of gold coins and walked out of the cemetery with his teammates.
At midnight, all the card skills were refreshed. No one noticed that in the darkness, a figure suddenly appeared and disappeared. Shao Qingge had summoned Qin Guan. At the same time, Shao Qingge’s voice filled Yu Hanjiang’s mind. The Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings connection had been established.
“We are under surveillance. There should be hidden cameras near the cemetery. Judging from the response of the other person, they aren’t suspicious about Xiao Liu pretending to be you and letting Little Red Riding Hood follow her. The ransom was placed in front of the designated gravestone. After leaving the cemetery, they told us to drive to the left.” Shao Qingge quickly told Yu Hanjiang about the situation in the cemetery.
“To the left?” Yu Hanjiang took out the map and took a look. Chief Shao’s current location was at Xishan Cemetery. After going down the mountain, there was a country road to the left. Following that road would lead them to… the forked road to the south of Qingshui Town.
“Follow their instructions,” Yu Hanjiang instructed softly. “They might lead you to the place where Xiao Lou’s group is detained in order to kill everyone together.”
“Okay, keep in touch.” Shao Qingge took his teammates down the mountain, started the car and turned to the left.
At the same time, the dark room.
Xiao Lou and Old Mo were talking about the case when the contact suddenly broke.
Both of them were awake and chatting in their minds. The iron door on Old Mo’s side hadn’t opened yet so it ruled out the possibility that he was knocked unconscious. If the Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings was broken, it could only mean it was midnight and their card skills had been refreshed.
Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings could only be maintained for 24 hours and the target could be changed after refreshing the skill. Xiao Lou took a deep breath and shouted to the door, “Is anyone there?”
There was no sound from outside. Most of the cards in his card pack such as Li Qingzhao and Tao Yuanming needed to be held in his hands to activate and summon them. At this time, his hands were tightly tied so these cards couldn’t be used.
Two cards were the exception. They were Qin Guan’s Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings and Xiao Yu’s passive protection.
Since Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings established a mind connection, this skill could be manipulated with the mind. Xiao Yu’s protection of his brother was a passive trigger. Once someone was going to take Xiao Lou’s life, Xiao Yu would immediately come out to help his brother. However, until now, Xiao Yu hadn’t come out. This proved that Xiao Lou wasn’t in a life threatening environment.
There should be no one outside. Xiao Lou took a deep breath and immediately used his mind to activate the Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings skill. Yu Hanjiang received a signal. He had just connected with Chief Shao so the other signal could only come from Xiao Lou!
Yu Hanjiang’s heart jumped and hurriedly accepted the communication. A familiar voice was heard in his mind. “Hanjiang, are you there?”
The man’s voice was as gentle as he remembered but it showed a bit of anxiety. A hint of ecstasy filled Yu Hanjiang’s heart. He held back his excitement and answered, “I’m here! Xiao Lou, how are you? Are you injured?”
Xiao Lou felt warm when he heard this concerned voice. “I’m fine but I don’t know where we are locked up. What is the situation over there? You haven’t been caught?”
“No.” Yu Hanjiang quickly explained. “They used your mobile phone to send a message and asked Chief Shao to pay a ransom. At present, Chief Shao, Liu Qiao, Long Sen and Qu Wanyue are on the way to pay the ransom. I am at the intersection to the south of Qingshui Town to look for you.”
Time was running out and they didn’t have time to greet each other carefully. Yu Hanjiang decisively got to the most important point. “Xiao Lou, can you describe the surrounding environment as much as possible?”
“There is a concrete floor, closed room and iron door. The other side has three people, two men and one woman. One of the men called the leader Brother Rong. He is probably the one we are looking for.” Xiao Lou closed his eyes and felt his surroundings carefully. He couldn’t see anything because he was blindfolded but this made his hearing and sense of smell extremely keen. “While the three of them were trying to determine if I was awake, I smelled a strange smell. It was a fresh fragrance and cold. It should be… plum blossoms.”
At first, Xiao Lou couldn’t determine what the smell was. Then he thought about it carefully, the elegant fragrance was obviously floral and it appeared on the man’s body. It wasn’t like perfume but was more like a natural fragrance. For example, a fragrance from when the other party passed through a field of flowers.
There weren’t many flowers that blossomed in February. Xiao Lou carefully searched through his knowledge base and determined that this was the cold fragrance of plum blossoms.
“Plum blossoms?” Yu Hanjiang hurriedly picked up the map. Previously, he had marked the six villages near Qingshui Town according to Group Leader Liu’s description. One of them was called ‘Qinghe Village’ and it had a large number of plum blossoms planted. The city was trying to make it an eco-tourism resort with the theme of ‘plum blossoms’.
Early spring was coming and it was the season for plum blossoms.
If these people walked through a large plum blossom forest then they could naturally be contaminated with the smell of plum blossoms, bringing it with them to Xiao Lou. The fragrance of plum blossoms wasn’t strong. Rather, it was very light and cold and this was keenly perceived by Xiao Lou.
“Protect yourself, I’ll come rescue you straight away.” Yu Hanjiang folded the map and stuffed it into his pocket. He abandoned the car, started the light footwork card and rushed in the direction of Qinghe Village!
Proofreader: Paranoid Kitten & Fictional Reality