Chapter 481 – Suspect
The clear sound coming from the window made the team fall silent in unison. The sudden sound of the rattle-drum at noon in the summer made a chill go down Xiao Lou’s back for no reason.
He took a deep breath, walked to the window and pushed it open to look out.
The sound came from the alley behind the inn.
The alley was shrouded in shade and dimly lit. At this time, there were no extra pedestrians in the alley. There was only a young man, wearing a dark blue robe and hat of the same color. He was dressed as a scholar.
The man was holding the rattle-drum in hand and shaking it constantly. The projectiles on both sides of the rattle struck the drum surface, making a rhythmic sound. The drum surface was clearly printed with a pattern. It was the sheep of the zodiac.
The painted sheep came to life. The man walked forward, playing with the rattle-drum while smiling. Xiao Lou looked back at Yu Hanjiang and asked for this person’s opinion with his eyes. Yu Hanjiang lowered his voice and said, “He doesn’t look like a murderer.”
Xiao Lou also felt that this person didn’t look like a murderer. Was it just a coincidence?
He was just thinking this when he saw a young girl dressed like a maid run into the alley from the other end. She walked quickly to the man and asked breathlessly, “Young Master, where have you been? The Young Lady has been looking for you everywhere!”
The man smiled slightly and said gently, “Don’t worry. I just went to buy something fun for the child.” He shook the rattle-drum in his hand as he spoke. “I heard that if a child cries at night, use this to tease them and they will stop crying.”
The young girl said helplessly, “You can let someone else go to buy toys for the little young master. Why do you have to go by yourself?”
The man waved his hand. “Okay, I’ll go back.”
The two of them walked out of the alley.
In the next room, Ye Qi had also pushed open the window to see the scene and was slightly relieved. He put down the window and pressed on the earpiece. “I was really frightened just now. I suddenly heard the sound of a rattle-drum and thought the murderer had found us.”
Qu Wanyue smiled and said, “It should just be a coincidence. A young father went out to buy a toy for his child and passed through the alley behind the inn. We just happened to talk about the rattle-drum and everyone was nervous and scared.”
Xiao Lou asked, “Did you notice the pattern on his rattle?”
Ye Qi answered, “I saw it. Was it a sheep?”
Shao Qingge spoke very firmly. “Today, I went to the old man’s stall and saw all the patterns of the zodiac signs. The image on his one was indeed a sheep. His child should belong to the year of the sheep.”
Xiao Lou looked at the rattle-drum he found from the Zhao house. This rattle-drum was a toy for children so the maker would do some beautification when drawing the pattern. The little tiger on the drum surface was very cute and was wearing red clothes. This type of anthropomorphic painting method was obviously more popular with children.
Yu Hanjiang followed Xiao Lou’s gaze to the drum surface. “The young father just now mentioned that his child cries incessantly in the middle of the night. It is likely that his child isn’t yet one year old. Is this the year of the sheep?”
Shao Qingge said, “It should be the year of the sheep. At the stall of the old man who sold the toys, the rattle of the sheep hung at the front. There were also some colorful figures in the shape of a cute sheep.”
Xiao Lou carefully calculated it. “According to the order of the zodiac signs, this is the year of the sheep so when the famine occurred 20 years ago… it should be the year of the pig. The tiger is 9 years more than the pig. Assuming that the rattle found at the Zhao and Chen houses belong to the murderer and the murderer’s zodiac sign is the tiger, the murderer was probably a nine year old child when the famine occurred 20 years ago?”
Yu Hanjiang added, “They might also be an adult aged 21, 33 or 45.”
The year of the tiger. Since one cycle was 12 years, the murderer might have been either 9, 21, 33 or 45 years old that year.
Xiao Lou said, “In other words, the current murderer might be 29, 41, 53 or 65 years old?”
Yu Hanjiang told him, “The probability of them being 53 or 65 years old is relatively low. The average life expectancy in ancient times wasn’t too long and the elderly over 50 years of age would have various diseases in their bodies. It is difficult to kill dozens of people silently. The most likely thing is that in the year of the famine, the murderer was a 9 year old child or 21 years old. Now they are back to take revenge and they are 29 or 41 years old.”
After locking down the age, the scope of the investigation would be much narrower.
All the tigers in the town who were aged 29 or 41 had the possibility of committing the crimes.
Xiao Lou said, “I don’t know if there are any institutions in town similar to an official government? It will be easier to investigate if we can find the roster of the town’s residents, records, etc.”
Shao Qingge suggested, “Since it is a small town, there should always be a town mayor, right? We can take advantage of lunchtime to inquire.”
Morning passed and it reached lunchtime. The group went downstairs in batches to eat.
The inn had obviously become very lively. Many passersby came here to stay and dine.
Shao Qingge repeated his old trick. He looked for the inn’s employee and ordered a few of the most expensive dishes. As the other party served him, he casually stuffed a piece of silver into this person’s hand and whispered, “I want to ask, where does your town mayor live? I’m a businessman from out of town and I want to come visit.”
The inn’s employee happily accepted the silver and whispered to Shao Qingge, “Are you looking for our town mayor? His name is Qin Feng and he lives in the courtyard at the easternmost end of Xiushui Lane. Our mayor is a good person and often helps the old people in the town to carry water and chop firewood. He will also personally visit anyone who has a child. He might be very young but the villagers respect him.”
Ye Qi wondered, “How old is he this year? Is he married?”
The inn employee scratched his head. “He is less than 30 years old and hasn’t married yet. The matchmakers were about to break through the threshold of his home but they were all rejected by him. He said he already has someone in his heart and that he has a marriage contract. He has been waiting for the woman he has the marriage contract with. Alas, what infatuation.”
As the two of them were inquiring about information, Ye Qi kept holding down the bulge of the earpiece so their teammates could hear the information spoken by the inn employee in a low voice.
Xiao Lou looked at Yu Hanjiang and asked softly, “Is this town mayor suspicious?”
Yu Hanjiang nodded. “We can’t enter the town at night so we have to find a way to investigate him during the afternoon.”
Lu Jiuchuan had stayed behind in the Peach Blossom Spring outside the town.
The Peach Blossom Spring could only exist for three hours and would disappear automatically when the time was up. At this time, the Peach Blossom Spring had disappeared, so he simply found a shady place in the forest to hide with Tang Ci. The two of them had been listening to the discussion between their teammates. Hearing this, Lu Jiuchuan couldn’t help but interject. “Should Xiao Tang and I still stay outside the town? The two of us can investigate as well.”
Tang Ci wanted to find something to do. He held down the earpiece and said softly, “The town looks normal during the day. There are many residents coming in and out. Brother Jiu and I still have our invisibility cloaks. We can find an opportunity to sneak into the town mayor’s house.”
Xiao Lou thought for a moment. “Okay, I will trouble Brother Jiu and Mr Tang to check this Qin Feng.”
The town during the day wasn’t like the ghost town labyrinth at night. There was no need for Lu Jiuchuan and Tang Ci to stay outside the town to open the Peach Blossom Spring. In addition, the two Tao Yuanming card skills were on cooldown so it was useless for them to stay outside. It was better for them to come in and help.
Xiao Lou and the others had visited the town at night yesterday and their invisibility cloaks were on cooldown. Lu Jiuchuan and Tang Ci still had their card skills available and it was good to use the 30 minutes of invisibility to do an investigation.
Yu Hanjiang said softly, “Based on how much trust the town residents have towards the mayor, if he really is the murderer, it should be easy for him to find a way to manipulate everyone’s consciousnesses. Brother, the focus of your investigation should first be the age, history and background of the mayor. Secondly, try to find the roster information of the town’s residents and directly use the drone to photograph it after finding it. The invisibility cloak only lasts 30 minutes so come back quickly.”
Lu Jiuchuan simply replied, “Understood. We will act now.”
The two of them didn’t go into town to eat. They directly opened the supply card of milk, chocolate and instant noodles to make up their meal. Then they found a place with no one present,y put on the invisibility cloaks and quickly sneaked into town.
According to the instructions of the employee, the duo soon came to Xiushui Lane. This was a very secluded lane where several families lived. The mayor’s residence was at the end of the lane. It was a very large house and the layout was simple and elegant.
In order to make sure there was no one in the house, Lu Jiuchuan threw a bug against a wall and listened for a moment. He didn’t hear any sound so the two of them climbed over the wall and entered the courtyard.
There were many herbs drying in the yard. They could smell the herbs the moment they entered the door.
The town mayor wasn’t at home. He might’ve gone out for something. This was convenient for the two of them to investigate.
Lu Jiuchuan and Tang Ci pushed the door open. The interior of the house was also very simple. It was clean and neat.
The furniture was made entirely of bamboo like it was handmade. The large living room had two rows of bamboo chairs which could accommodate dozens of people meeting at the same time. Next to it was a study and a bedroom. The two of them checked the bedroom first.
The bedroom contained an old, solid wood cabinet with an iron lock hanging from it. This should contain important information.
Lu Jiuchuan used the master key to open the iron lock. Sure enough, he saw a thick stack of books inside. He quickly took out the books and opened them while letting Tang Ci use the drone to photograph the contents.
These books recorded the family members and birthdays of all the residents in town in detail.
Lu Jiuchuan’s eyes sharply found the missing families of Zhao Zeping and Chen Yu, which were recorded in one of the blue rosters. Their names had bright red crosses drawn in red pen.
These red crosses were shocking.
In the roster, more than 90% of the names had red crosses. It wasn’t just the Zhao and Chen families. Many people had been crossed out as well!
Tang Ci sucked in a breath. This roster was almost like a roster of the dead. Was the murderer killing people according to the roster?
He quickly used a drone to capture these scenes. Then he asked Lu Jiuchuan to restore the rosters in the previous order. They were placed back in the cabinet and locked again with the iron lock.
The two men walked out of the bedroom and into the study.
The study was filled with all types of books, some of which were related to medicine, herbs and acupuncture. There was also a row of shelves full of medicine bottles of various colors. The names of the medicines were marked on the bottles. It seemed that the town mayor understood some pharmacology.
Lu Jiuchuan looked around and said softly, “Look for any secret doors, secret rooms or anything like that.”
Tang Ci carefully observed the bookshelf. All the books were neatly arranged and most of the books had a small amount of dust on them. It was a normal phenomenon for dust to fall on open bookshelves.
However, there was a row of books on it that was obviously much cleaner than the books next to it.
Tang Ci stepped forward and pulled out a thick copy of the Compendium of Materia Medica at the top. The next moment, a rumbling sound entered his ears. The bookshelf in front of him actually split in two, revealing a secret door in the middle!
Behind the dark door were long steps leading down. The light inside the room was extremely dim and there was no end in sight to the stairs.
There must be secrets in this hidden room!
The two of them were just about to go down when the door to the courtyard was suddenly pushed open.
There was the sound of footsteps heading toward the study.
The owner of the house had come back.
Now it was too late to go down to investigate. They could only take photos of the secret room as quickly as possible.
The drone’s flying speed was much faster than their walking speed while descending the stairs, so Lu Jiuchuan said in a low voice, “Use the drone!”
Tang Ci quickly released the drone to shoot the scene inside the secret room.
At almost the same moment he retracted the drone, the door to the living room was slowly pushed open by the man.
He walked through the living room toward the study where the two of them were located.
Tang Ci hurriedly put the book back and closed the door of the secret room. Lu Jiuchuan quickly came to the window, found Tang Ci’s position from touch and grabbed Tang Ci’s wrist. He opened the window and urged, “Go quickly!”
Proofreader: Paranoid KItten & Fictional Reality