Chapter 488 – Past Events
Where was the exit of the labyrinth?
The hive labyrinth was like a bee’s nest. It was made up of countless hexagons spliced together.
According to the map drawn by Old Mo, this labyrinth was very similar to a hive labyrinth. There were two or three forks at the end of each road and the path in the labyrinth was extremely complicated. Even so, they had been drawing the map from the moment they entered the town last night and they wouldn’t draw it wrong. So why couldn’t they find the exit when they returned the same way according to the map drawn last night?
Could it be that Old Mo made a mistake in identifying the direction?
No, this wasn’t possible. Among all the team members, Old Mo had the strongest sense of direction. If even he was incorrect, wouldn’t this labyrinth be unsolvable?
Xiao Lou took a few steps forward. Then he suddenly thought of something and looked back.
The water of the Drunken Moon Lake shone under the moonlight. The moonlight shining continuously on the surface of the lake was like the labyrinth path that was disrupted. The end point was the Drunken Moon Pavilion in the middle of the lake.
Xiao Lou’s eyes lit up. “Look at the pavilion. The pavilion in the middle of the lake has the words ‘Drunken Moon Pavilion’ written on it. We didn’t go there last night. Perhaps this is the starting point of the labyrinth?”
Since they entered the labyrinth from the exit and going back the way they came didn’t work, why not find the way out using the starting point of the labyrinth?
Old Mo hadn’t paid special attention to the pavilion in the center of the labyrinth. Now he heard Xiao Lou’s words, he immediately followed Xiao Lou’s gaze and looked at the pavilion.
Under the illumination of the moonlight, a large number of moonlight fragments scattered on the lake centering around the Drunken Moon Pavilion. On closer inspection, the narrow gaps between the moonlight did look a bit like the scrambled labyrinth paths.
Old Mo took out the white cloth and carefully checked the floor plan of the labyrinth drawn last night. Soon he said in an excited manner, “Professor Xiao is right. The pavilion in the center of the lake is very similar to the starting point of the labyrinth. We should go back and take a look.”
Yu Hanjiang heard this and flew to the pavilion with Xiao Lou using the light footwork card.
The other four quickly followed.
The pavilion was quite large and easily accommodated the six of them. The shape was also very similar to a hexagon.
After arriving at the pavilion, Old Mo looked around and drew on the white cloth with a pen. Xiao Lou walked up to him and asked, “How is it? Have you discovered the secret of this labyrinth?”
Old Mo raised his head to look at the moon in the sky. Then he looked down at the map on the cloth with doubt in his eyes. “If this pavilion is the center of the labyrinth then the winding paths around the lake are the hive branches radiating from the center. We couldn’t find the exit last night. Is the labyrinth rotating around the center according to a certain law?”
Xiao Lou had also thought of this possibility. “If the entire labyrinth revolves around the pavilion and the small beehives on the periphery rotate, the exit of the town will be hidden due to misalignment. This could be why we couldn’t find the exit last night. Today, the labyrinth has returned to its original position. When you followed Miss Zhao and Chen Yu just now, did you find the exit of the town?”
Liu Qiao walked over and answered, “Yes, we saw Chen Yu walk out of the town with our own eyes. The stone monument of Qingfeng Town was outside the town gate. There seemed to be a transparent barrier over the gate and we couldn’t get out.”
Qu Wanyue nodded in agreement. “We also tried but we couldn’t get out.”
Yu Hanjiang opened his mouth. “Strange. We came in from that exit last night. Is this town only allowed to be entered but doesn’t allow anyone to leave it?”
Xiao Lou shook his head. “I think it is impossible that we can’t exit the labyrinth. It is possible that what Xiao Liu and the others saw was just the exit of the ghost town, not the exit to the real town.”
He looked down at the lake. A breeze blew and the fragments of moonlight on the lake were disrupted. Once the lake surface calmed down, the moonlight fragments on it had obviously changed compared to just before.
Under normal circumstances, the reflection on the lake would be disturbed when the wind blew but it would return to normal after the wind stopped. Now the wind had stopped but the arrangement of the moonlight fragments had changed significantly. This showed that Old Mo’s guess was correct.
This subtle clue was almost ignored by them!
It was as Old Mo said. The labyrinth was dynamically rotating around the center of the lake.
The labyrinth was a hive-like structure so every time the hive rotated, the paths would be misaligned. It was just that this change wasn’t visually detectable at all. Since the exit was in the outermost circle, the exit wouldn’t be the same once the labyrinth rotated.
This was the reason they couldn’t find the exit last night and why they couldn’t go out after finding the exit tonight.
The labyrinth was too big and they were in the middle of it. This meant they couldn’t see the specific rule of the labyrinth’s rotation from a god’s perspective. Was it clockwise or counterclockwise? How many degrees to the left or to the right?
It would be difficult for them to go out the ‘real exit’ if they didn’t figure out the rule of the labyrinth’s rotation.
What to do?
Xiao Lou looked at his own shadow reflected on the lake before suddenly suggesting, “Why don’t we jump into the lake? The lake is in the center of the town and is the key to the night labyrinth. Perhaps there will be other clues in the lake?”
Yu Hanjiang simply said, “Liu Qiao, change us into merpeople and everyone will enter the water together.”
Liu Qiao took out the Daughter of the Sea card and the team collectively turned into merpeople. They jumped into the water and headed toward the bottom of the lake.
The lake at night was icy cold and this Drunken Moon Lake was much deeper than expected.
Merpeople were very fast in the water.
After swimming for a while, everyone came to the bottom of the lake.
The bottom of the lake was pitch black. Yu Hanjiang immediately took out the Night Pearl to illuminate it. He found there were some aquatic plants at the bottom of the lake that looked like… hair?
The moment he realized this, something wrapped around his waist and his body was dragged down rapidly!
Yu Hanjiang was calm. He was now in a merman state and could come and go freely in the water. He wasn’t afraid of drowning even if he was dragged to the bottom of the lake by the water plants. The saber in his hand flashed sharply and cut at the plants.
Liu Qiao’s voice came from the side. “There seems to be a water ghost in the lake. We are entangled by it!”
“Don’t worry. We don’t have to be afraid of drowning in this state. Take a closer look at what is entangling everyone.” Xiao Lou used the Night Pearl to illuminate the area at the bottom of the lake.
Yu Hanjiang heard Xiao Lou’s voice and quickly swam over to cut the water plants around Xiao Lou’s waist.
Xiao Lou swung his fish tail and swam nimbly to the bottom of the lake. He brushed aside the large amount of water plants in front of him and saw—
A person lying quietly in the middle of the water plants.
This person was wearing a red dress. She had been soaked in the water for so long that the corpse had already shown the typical signs of ‘bloating’. She was so swollen that her face couldn’t be seen. Her long hair was tangled up with the water plants and Xiao Lou keenly noticed that the end of her long hair was tied to the water plants at the bottom of the lake with a knot.
Yu Hanjiang swam to his side and asked, “What is the situation?”
Xiao Lou approached to check the corpse. “A corpse was found at the bottom of the lake. I checked and this is a young woman in her mid-20s. There is obvious foam around her mouth so she should’ve drowned. In addition, she was murdered. Look here—” He pointed at the corpse’s hair.
Yu Hanjiang followed Xiao Lou’s instructions and frowned. “The hair and water plants are tied together with knots?”
Xiao Lou nodded. “This is also the reason why the body has been at the bottom of the lake for so long without floating to the surface. Someone deliberately tied the hair to the water plants with knots and wrapped the water plants around her body so that her body can’t be seen. Judging from the characteristics of the body, the time of death should be within three days. The typical giant vein network can be seen on her body.”
They were just trying to jump into the lake for clues. It was a really unexpected gain to find a recent murder victim.
Liu Qiao said, “The murderer should be quite good in water. In such a deep lake, they had to drag the deceased down to drown and firmly fix the body at the bottom of the lake with the water plants. They should be able to hold their breath for at least a few minutes, right?”
Long Sen knew more about this. “Swimmers at my athletic school can hold their breath for a few minutes underwater but it is difficult for non-professionals to complete such a complex operation underwater. This lake is also very deep. The murderer must’ve been trained to dive professionally.”
Xiao Lou agreed. “That’s right. The murderer can swim and is good in water. It is more likely to be a young adult male. Most women don’t have the strength to drag an adult to the bottom of the lake to drown them…”
At this moment, Qu Wanyue suddenly exclaimed, “Look, there are still more here!”
Xiao Lou immediately swam to Qu Wanyue’s location. He looked at the water plants and saw there was another body of a young woman tied to water plants. Judging from the features of the corpse, the time of death should be within three days.
Yu Hanjiang’s expression changed. He took out his saber and quickly cut the nearby aquatic plants.
The group searched around the bottom of the lake and the results made everyone extremely horrified.
The bottom of the Drunken Moon Lake was actually home to the corpses of more than 10 young women!
Moreover, the characteristics of the corpses weren’t consistent. Some were recent and some died a few months ago. There were even those who had died a few years ago and were transformed into white bones!
The Drunken Moon Lake, which looked peaceful and beautiful on the surface, was actually a terrifying cemetery deep at the bottom of the lake.
At the same time, outside Qingfeng Town.
Lu Jiuchuan, Tang Ci, Chu Huaying and Gui Yuanzhang walked to the gate of the town.
The night was very dark and the moonlight above their heads was blocked by dark clouds. The dim light made them unable to see what was ahead of them. The dark forest in front of them gave off a different type of gloom in the quiet night.
They confirmed using the hunter that they had come to the world three years ago and couldn’t find the way back.
Lu Jiuchuan suggested, “Three years ago should be the time when the murderer started to commit the crimes. Perhaps we can find some clues from the source.”
Tang Ci agreed. “Wait and see at the entrance of the town.”
The moment he finished speaking, a man was seen hurrying out of the town.
In the middle of the night, he looked flustered and stumbled while walking. He was obviously uneasy. Lu Jiuchuan gave Chu Huaying a look and Chu Huaying disappeared instantly, following behind the man like a shadow.
A few minutes later, a girl in a pink dress also came out of the gate of the town.
Unlike the flustered man, this girl walked calmly. She held an embroidered purse in her hand and there was a bright smile on her face. Lu Jiuchuan hid behind a tree. Once he saw this, he gave Old Gui a look and asked him to follow.
The Lu Tang duo continued to guard the gate of the town. Some time passed before Lu Jiuchuan pressed on the voice headset and asked in a low voice, “Huaying, Old Gui, what is the situation?”
Chu Huaying’s cold voice came from the headset. “This man knelt down on the edge of the forest and started burning paper money while murmuring, ‘Father, you have a grandson. Please bless our family with peace.’”
Lu Jiuchuan was stunned. “Running out to burn paper money for his father in the middle of the night?”
“He cried while burning the paper money. He sounded very agitated. He must be Chen Yu, right? Three years ago on a rainy night, it was Chen Yu’s wife who gave birth to a baby in the town,” Chu Huaying said.
Tang Ci heard this and said, “Huaying, you continue to follow him and note down every word he says.”
Chu Huaying hummed in agreement and sat on the tree to continue to listen to Chen Yu.
On the other side, Gui Yuanzhang said, “This young girl should be Zhao Zesui, the young lady of the Zhao family. She ran out in the middle of the night and had a private meeting with a mysterious man wearing a mask. Zhao Zesui gave him a hand embroidered purse with a mandarin duck design. The relationship between the two of them should be a couple.”
The clue found by Old Gui was very crucial. Tang Ci immediately asked, “Wearing a mask? What type of mask? Is it like the hunters’ silver mask?”
Old Gui shook his head. “No, he is wearing a black mask with a strange pattern on it. It seems like a wolf totem? The man’s voice was very low when he accepted the purse from Zhao Zesui. He told her that she was still young now and her sister just got married. In a few years when she grew up, he would definitely send a sedan chair to marry her.”
Lu Jiuchuan asked, “What was Zhao Zesui’s reaction?”
“She was very happy and stuffed the purse into the man’s hands.”
Tang Ci looked at Lu Jiuchuan, who was touching his chin and thinking seriously.
During the day, Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang had gone to the Zhao house to investigate the results. They also told the rest of the group the results of the investigation through the voice headset. He remembered Xiao Lou mentioning that an unfinished handkerchief with mandarin ducks embroidered on it was found in Miss Zhao’s room. Thus, it was inferred that she might already like someone.
Now they personally saw her have a private meeting with a mysterious man on the night when her sister got married three years ago. This proved that Xiao Lou’s conjecture was correct. The young lady did like someone. However, the timing of the man’s appearance was too much to be a coincidence. The bridal procession was just led away by the sound of the rattle-drum and he happened to meet Miss Zhao privately near the forest. Was it coincidence or intentional?
Gui Yuanzhang said, “Miss Zhao finished delivering the purse and is ready to go home.”
Chu Huaying added, “After Chen Yu burned the paper, he also turned around to go back.”
Lu Jiuchuan nodded and said softly, “You guys keep following.”
Not long after, they saw the calmer looking Chen Yu and the excited Miss Zhao walking back to the town one after another. However, before they could walk through the gate, the sound of a rattle-drum was suddenly heard from nearby.
Dang dang, dang dang…
In the silent night, the sound of the rattle-drum was unusually clear.
In a few seconds, Chen Yu and Zhao Zesui seemed to have lost their souls. Their eyes became blank and they turned around to walk toward the mass burial site.
Lu Jiuchuan watched them walk through the forest like puppets. His expression changed and he whispered to Tang Ci, “It seems that the case of wiping out the families three years ago isn’t so simple. Zhao Zesui and Chen Yu were captured alone and led away.”
Tang Ci wondered, “However, we heard a lot of footsteps in the forest just now. In other words, the bridal procession was led to the mass burial site before there was another wave that followed. Who would those people going to the mass burial site be?”
At that time, they followed behind the bridal procession and were almost hypnotized by the magical sound. They didn’t see the second group led up the mountain. Now Zhao Zesui and Chen Yu appeared outside the town to date a mysterious man and burn paper money for his father respectively.
Gui Yuanzhang said, “Are we sure that the Chen family and Zhao family are the only ones who went missing on the rainy night three years ago?”
Lu Jiuchuan and Tang Ci looked at each other.
It was uncertain. The two families went missing collectively so it was easy to attract attention. Yet in fact, there were far more names than these two families crossed out in the mayor’s roster. In other words, it was likely that the murderer didn’t just wipe out the Zhao and Chen families three years ago. They also killed many lonely and old people living alone. The footsteps they heard in the forest just now likely belonged to this group.
Lu Jiuchuan said, “After dawn, we will join Hanjiang and the others as soon as possible and tell them the clues.”
It didn’t take long for the sky to become bright.
Lu Jiuchuan pressed down on the voice headset and asked in a low voice, “Hanjiang, can you hear me?”
He thought that they lost contact because Yu Hanjiang’s group was sent to the ghost at night while they had gone back three years ago. This would return to normal after dawn. However, there was still no sound in his ears.
Lu Jiuchuan simply went to the inn in the center of the town. He found the employee and said, “There is a friend of mine in the Heaven Room, Please ask him to come down. I have something to discuss with him.”
The employee responded blankly, “Guest, there is no one staying in the Heaven Room.”
Lu Jiuchuan was stunned. “What about the Xuan room?” He remembered that Chief Shao and Ye Qi lived there.
The employee smiled and said, “No one lives there either. Guest, do you want to stay at the inn?”
Lu Jiuchuan, “??”
Tang Ci gently tugged at Lu Jiuchuan’s sleeve and whispered in his ear, “Brother Jiu, the situation isn’t right.”
Lu Jiuchuan leaned over. “What?”
Tang Ci told him, “It is dawn and this is still three years ago. We are stuck in the world of three years ago and can’t go back.”
Proofreader: Paranoid Kitten & Fictional Reality