CR: Chapter 482

Chapter 482 – Secrets on the Roster

Lu Jiuchuan and Tang Ci had just climbed out the window when the sound of footsteps came to the door of the study. The wooden door was pushed open with a creak. The two people crouching down outside the window held their breaths and listened carefully to the movement in the room.

They took a look and saw Qin Feng walk to the bookshelf and take out a book. The bookshelf suddenly separated in front of him, revealing the secret door. He held a candle in his right hand and walked down the stairs, leaving only his thin, tall back for the two of them to see.

The door of the bookshelf closed slowly after he entered the secret room, as if nothing had happened.

Lu Jiuchuan gently grasped Tang Ci’s wrist and whispered, “Withdraw first.”

The two men quickly left the house.

The weather outside was sunny but Lu Jiuchuan always felt that this alley exuded a strange gloomy air. Perhaps it was because the old branches and leaves on the side of the road were too lush. The sunlight of the whole alley was blocked by the leaves and created a huge shadow.

A moment later, the two of them walked out of Xiushui Alley. On the street, the sun was shining overhead and the bustling noise was a sharp contrast to the quiet alley.

Lu Jiuchuan and Tang Ci went in the direction of the inn.

After reaching an empty corner, Lu Jiuchuan pressed down on the earpiece and told Xiao Lou, “The mayor suddenly returned during our investigation and we didn’t have time to search carefully. We could only use a drone to photograph the key clues in his home. Should I bring it to the inn for you?”

Xiao Lou asked, “Is there still time on your invisibility cloak?”

Tang Ci looked at the countdown. “There are five minutes left.”

Xiao Lou answered, “Five minutes should be sufficient. Go to the alley behind the inn. I live with Hanjiang in the second room to the left on the second floor. I will open the window and you can fly in directly to hand the drone over.”

Lu Jiuchuan agreed and sped up with Tang Ci.

The invisible duo could move freely in the town. The residents of the town only felt a light wind blowing around them. In the blink of an eye, the two men arrived at the alley designated by Xiao Lou. Lu Jiuchuan looked up and sure enough, there was a room on the second floor that had the window wide open. He jumped directly into the room with Tang Ci.

Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang were waiting for them.

Xiao Lou was aware of a gust of wind blowing in and hurriedly asked, “Brother Jiu? Are you okay?”

Lu Jiuchuan replied, “We’re fine. Qin Feng shouldn’t have found us?”

Tang Ci shook his head. “Not necessarily. The lock on the cabinet was opened with the master key and all data was restored to the original place. However, we might not have gone into the secret room but the mechanism was opened. Perhaps he can see that. We can’t be sure if he hasn’t set precautions on the mechanism of his bookshelf.”

Yu Hanjiang frowned. “If he discovers that someone has broken into his study and opened the secret room, will he destroy the evidence? Mr Tang, did you use the drone to shoot the scene in the secret room?”

Tang Ci said helplessly, “The situation was urgent at the time and we could only do this.”

He took out the drone, handed it to Xiao Lou and opened the surveillance video.

The card-sized surveillance screen started to replay the footage just recorded.

The scene on the screen descended down a dark staircase to a wide secret room. The walls were covered with cyan bricks and lit with kerosene lamps. The light might be dim but the furnishings in the room could still be seen.

To Xiao Lou’s shock, the walls around the secret room were actually full of rattle-drums!

The red rattle-drum was originally a child’s toy but once it was densely hung in the cold, underground secret room, people couldn’t help thinking of ‘torture equipment in a cell’…

Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang looked at each other. The latter lowered his voice and said, “This Qin Feng is very suspicious.”

Lu Jiuchuan couldn’t help complaining when he saw the video. “This room is full of rattle-drums. Does he have an obsession with rattle-drums? As a child, did he have a fight with someone because of a rattle-drum or… is the rattle-drum a very memorable toy for him?”

Yu Hanjiang added, “Many murderers have the habit of using specific items as their identity marker.”

Xiao Lou enlarged the picture of the drone. After careful comparison, he said, “The drum surface of these rattle-drums don’t only have tigers but also the other patterns of the zodiac…” He paused and looked back at the group. “Do you think there is a possibility that the mayor is the murderer?”

Tang Ci said, “This clue is too obvious. It shouldn’t be so simple, right?”

Yu Hanjiang also agreed. “Based on the personalities of the keepers, it is unlikely they will directly let us find the murderer in the beginning. Perhaps he is an interference item. However, the mayor of this town must have something to do with the murderer.”

Tang Ci’s fingers flicked and he brought up the other information taken by the drone.

They saw a stack of books appearing on the screen. Lu Jiuchuan was quickly turning the pages and the drone clearly captured the contents of each page. One of them had more than 90% of the names on them marked with red crosses.

Xiao Lou was stunned. “Is this a murder record book? Or is it that the dead were crossed off the roster by him?”

The order was very important. For example, if a person’s name was crossed out before the person died, it was the murderer ‘planning to kill’ them. This list was a list of their revenge targets. On the other hand, if a person died and then their name was crossed off then the roster probably only recorded the death of the residents.

Yu Hanjiang said, “This information is very important. We can follow this clue to investigate. In addition to the Zhao and Chen families, there are many names crossed out on the list. We have to find out if they are dead or alive and their cause of death if they are dead.” He looked at Lu Jiuchuan. “Time is pressing and the murderer is very brutal. You must pay attention to safety when investigating.”

Lu Jiuchuan nodded. “Rest assured, leave it to us.”

Xiao Lou suggested, “There are too many people who need to be checked. You will be unable to complete this alone so I will transfer two more people to help you.” He pressed down on the earpiece. “Long Sen, Qu Wanyue, the two of you go out with Brother Jiu and use the Chameleon card to investigate. I will use the headset channel to tell you where to go. You need to find out the life or death of some people.”

Qu Wanyue quickly replied. “Understood.”

In addition to the name and date of birth, the roster also recorded the specific locations of everyone living in town. This made it convenient to investigate. The Long Qu couple crawled on the ground with the Chameleon card while Lu Jiuchuan and Tang Ci pretended to be traveling through the small town. Based on Xiao Lou’s assignment, the four people circled the town and checked things one by one.

The afternoon passed quickly as the investigation team of four visited the residences recorded on the roster. They were surprised to find that some were dead while others were still alive.

Lu Jiuchuan said, “The person called Lin Zhaokuan on the roster is still alive. He is an old man around 50 years old who lives alone.”

Qu Wanyue reported, “Qi Mingwei is an old man in his 60s. He lives with his son and daughter-in-law and has a newborn grandson. I just passed by their house. The family is quite rich and the yard is stylishly arranged. By the way, his son is very familiar. He should be the young man who passed through the alley behind the inn today and bought a rattle-drum for his child.”

Xiao Lou was stunned and asked, “Are you sure it is him?”

Qu Wanyue said, “Yes. He is dressed exactly the same. He was holding a rattle-drum with a sheep in his hand and the person who told him to go home was teasing the child with the rattle-drum.”

Long Sen added, “The people of the Yu family are also alive. The two brothers on the roster, Yu Liang and Yu Ru live near Xiushui Lane. I just saw the brothers going out together.”

Tang Ci said, “The people I checked were all missing for unknown reasons.”

It seemed that this roster hid mysteries. Some of the people whose names were crossed off had disappeared i.e. they were killed by the murderer. Others were well alive and would surely become the next targets of the murderer.

Xiao Lou asked, “People have gone missing over the years. Didn’t the residents of the town have any doubts?”

Lu Jiuchuan answered helplessly, “They all believe there is a ‘powerful ghost’ seeking life. Those who haven’t harmed people aren’t worried about this. They think that as long as they sleep obediently after dark, there won’t be a powerful ghost seeking their lives. Once someone in this town disappears, people will talk privately and say they must’ve harmed others to be retaliated against by the ghost.”

The claim of the ghost had completely brainwashed the people of the town.

Lu Jiuchuan added, “It is said that some people in the town have really seen a ghost. We just passed by a family and we heard a child crying. The elders used the powerful ghost to scare them. The story was very loud and colorful…”

Tang Ci followed up by repeating the story. “On a rainy night three years ago, the bridal procession was hooked by a ghost. The ghost’s face was as white as paper and her lips were as red as blood. She was dressed in white and her long hair fell down to cover her face. Her face couldn’t be seen clearly and her hair would fly around everywhere, suddenly stretching out to wrap around people’s necks.”

Xiao Lou, “……”

These rumors were becoming more bizarre.

Ye Qi couldn’t help complaining, “This female ghost seems like Nie Xiaoqian from Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio.”

Shao Qingge interjected, “The legend of the powerful ghost shouldn’t appear for no reason. The murderer is using this method to confuse the public and cover up their crime of killing people. Maybe that ghost is the murderer in disguise.”

Xiao Lou also agreed with Shao Qingge’s speculation. “The murderer started committing the crime three years ago. Judging from the records on the roster, a total of 53 people have disappeared in the past three years. Apart from the tragically destroyed Zhao and Chen families, the others who died were scattered. Not many people noticed since they lived alone. There are currently 34 people alive on the roster.”

Yu Hanjiang said, “The murderer has killed so many people and their psychology has long been deformed. We have to find a way to stop them.”

Lu Jiuchuan added, “The current problem is that the murderer is active at night. We can’t go into the normal town and will be forcibly pulled to the ghost town. The ghost town and this town at night are two different spaces. We can’t meet the murderer in the ghost town so the murderer can continue to kill without fear of being disturbed by us.”

Tang Ci said, “If we inform the 34 people still alive in advance and tell them to be careful, they definitely won’t believe us.”

Ye Qi scratched his head. “It is really troublesome. We are strangers from outside the town. If we suddenly come out and say ‘someone will kill you, hurry up and run’, they will probably think we have a brain disease right? How can we warn them?”

Liu Qiao suggested, “Otherwise, should we put a rattle-drum in each house and a note with large blood-red characters saying, ‘Tonight when the time comes, the ghost will take your lives.’ Can this scare them away?”

Everyone, “……”

Liu Qiao’s idea sounded like a joke.

Of course, people who had done bad things might really be scared away by her method. However, it was more likely to be self-defeating because it might force the murderer. Perhaps the murderer would be more brutal and let the whole town be buried?

Xiao Lou lowered his head while deep in thought. Then he suddenly had an idea. “The way the murderer kills is to manipulate people’s willpower and lead people to the mass burial site at the top of the mountain. We might not be able to meet the murderer in the town at night but we can intercept them halfway.”

Lu Jiuchuan smiled. “That is a good idea. If we intercept them in the mountain forest outside the town, we can save people. In addition, the murderer might be caught on the spot. Even if we can’t catch them, we can at least find some clues.”

As dusk approached, the setting sun dyed the sky a fiery color. Xiao Lou stood by the window and looked at the sky in the distance, his expression full of worry. “It is almost dark. Everyone should first eat to nourish their spirits and prepare for action tonight.”

He looked at Yu Hanjiang, who immediately understood. “Xiao Lou, Long Sen, Qu Wanyue, Mo Xueming, Liu Qiao and I, the six of us will stay in town to investigate the secrets of the ghost town at night. Brother Jiu, Mr Tang, Chu Huaying and Senior Gui will go to the forest to intercept the murderer. Chief Shao and Xiao Ye will hide and open the Peach Blossom Spring outside the town, ready to teleport us if we are in danger.”

Night was approaching. What was the survival crisis they would have to face?

Xiao Lou felt that things weren’t so simple.

Proofreader: Paranoid Kitten & Fictional Reality

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