Chapter 493 – Clues From Three Years Ago
Xiao Lou picked up the letter and checked it carefully. The calligraphy on it was elegant and dashing. Xiao Lou’s father had collected the calligraphy work of old masters and Xiao Lou could recognize it instantly. In addition, the spider dagger mark on the beam was Chu Huaying’s unique mark. It was impossible for others to forge it.
Therefore, this letter must’ve been left by Brother Jiu.
Xiao Lou firmly told his teammates, “This letter has the handwriting of Senior Gui.”
Yu Hanjiang frowned at the first sentence of the letter. “They went back in time to three years ago? In other words, we are in different times and spaces and all the cards such as Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings and the Voice Headset can’t be used?”
Xiao Lou nodded. “Yes, from today onwards, we can’t communicate with those who are three years in the past. Fortunately, they thought of leaving us clues in this way.”
One couldn’t speak to their past self but they could leave clues to their future self.
Lu Jiuchuan’s group of four acted very wisely. They guessed that Xiao Lou’s group would return to the Zhao house to investigate the person who arranged the mourning hall. They used Chu Huaying’s spider dagger to leave a mark on the beam of the mourning hall and secretly hid a letter.
Fortunately, this letter hadn’t been discovered during the three years and had now been successfully found by Xiao Lou’s group.
Yu Hanjiang read the contents of the letter and said in a thoughtful manner, “Brother Jiu, it seems that they traveled to the night of the crime three years ago and came across a plot that we didn’t verify. First of all, Zhao Zesui had a private meeting with a masked man outside the town on the night of her sister’s wedding. She gave him a purse embroidered with mandarin ducks.”
He turned to Xiao Lou. “Remember, you saw the unfinished handkerchief in Miss Zhao’s room at the time. You guessed correctly that she had a sweetheart. It is just that her sweetheart has a special status and has to wear a mask on a date in the middle of the night. Is he afraid of being discovered by the townspeople?”
“Yes. The fact that he wore a mask in the middle of the night means that his identity isn’t simple.” Xiao Lou paused before continuing to look down at the letter. “The letter said that Chen Yu hurriedly ran out of the town to burn paper money for his father. The death of his father isn’t a secret. Why didn’t he set up a mourning hall at home and instead secretly went outside the town to burn the paper?”
“There is a custom in my hometown.” Old Mo heard this and interjected. “My parents died in a foreign land and the grave isn’t nearby, every July 15th, we will go to the gate of the community or near the street and burn some paper money while facing the direction of our hometown. My father’s hometown is in Beijing. Sometimes when I was in Jiangzhou, I couldn’t go back to visit the graves so I used this method.”
“My family is also like this. If we can’t go back to our hometown and visit the graves during the Spring Festival, we will worship our ancestors in the direction of our hometown.” Qu Wanyue added.
“So it seems that Chen Yu’s father isn’t buried in Qingfeng Town? So after his son was born, he went outside the town, faced the direction of his hometown and burned the paper money to announce the good news to his father?” Xiao Lou thought that this argument was reasonable.
“How and where did Chen Yu die? We have to check it again.” Yu Hanjiang said.
The strange movements of Zhao Zesui and Chen Yu that were seen in the ghost town at night were now explained.
The clues that Brother Jiu and the others saw with their own eyes on the day of the incident three years ago would never be false. As for what these two clues meant, they needed to continue the investigation.
Next, some clues were listed in the letter.
The first one was about the roster of the town, mayor Qin Feng and the hidden room.
Qu Wanyue saw it and couldn’t help saying, “Qin Feng really doesn’t seem like the murderer. Senior Gui said that when the case happened three years ago, there was no hidden room in the study and the roster in the cabinet wasn’t full of red crosses. Three years later, we discovered these things. This shows that like us, Qin Feng is investigating the murder. He gathered evidence and recorded the names of the dead.”
Xiao Lou nodded. “Yes. From the beginning, I felt that Qin Feng wasn’t the murderer. The clues were obviously too simple. The rattle-drums that appeared in the Zhao and Chen houses were all tigers while the rattle-drums in his hidden room were of the 12 Zodiacs. This wasn’t quite right. Even so, I’m certain he knows something but doesn’t want to cooperate with us.”
Yu Hanjiang agreed. “We can’t ask him directly so we need to investigate through other means.”
Xiao Lou nodded and picked up the letter. “On the night of the crime, the people who saw the ghost in white included the vegetable seller Uncle Liu, the hunter Zhang Chengyu, the widow Mrs Xue who sells tofu, the butcher Lin Yuezhi as well as his child and the owner of the clothing store Qin Ruolan. Brother Jiu listed the details of these people. Do you suspect there is someone suspicious among them?”
Yu Hanjiang took the letter from him, carefully read it and spoke in a low voice. “From the locations marked on the letter, the five people live in the east, west, south, north and center. Qingfeng might not be big but the ghost can’t appear in five places at the same time. There is a possibility that some of them might’ve deliberately lied to confuse people.”
The group was silent for a moment. Then Xiao Lou carefully folded the letter and put it in his pocket.
Liu Qiao suddenly said, “Brother Jiu and the others left clues about the ghost that appeared three years ago but what about the girls we found in the lake? These girls were downed in the lake and we have no clue who the murderer is.”
Xiao Lou also had a headache. This time, the two cases went hand in hand and the murderers were particularly cunning.
It could be said that Murderer B took advantage of the public opinion of Murderer A’s ghost killing in order to drag these girls in the lake, making people mistakenly believe that the missing girls were also killed by the ghost.
Murderer A found that the people they didn’t act against were missing for no reason. They must be aware of the fact that another murderer was using public opinion to commit a crime but they ignored it. This was using the other party in turn, making the case more complicated and impossible to investigate.
They might not have met each other but they had a tacit understanding of covering for each other.
Yu Hanjiang said, “Let’s separate the case first. The two murderers have different motives, styles and victims. The first murderer of the ghost killing case should have something to do with the famine 20 years ago. The second murderer is only hostile to girls around 18 years old and drowned them in the lake. He should have a paranoid personality and couldn’t escape from the psychological shadow of a girl in red.”
Xiao Lou pressed a hand against his throbbing temple. “Let’s check the first case. At the very least, the clues for the first case are clearer.”
They sneaked out of the Zhao family and went to find the suspects mentioned in the letter to inquire about information.
Liu Qiao and Old Mo were in charge of Chen Yu’s side.
The two of them visited the neighbors near the Chen house and soon found out about Chen Yu’s father from some elderly people. Liu Qiao pressed down on the earpiece and said softly, “Professor Xiao, we have found out about the Chen family. After 20 years of doing business in another town, Chen Yu and his wife moved back to Qingfeng Town seven years ago. However, his father didn’t return with them. It was said that he passed away a few years ago.”
Xiao Lou wondered, “Have you found where they went to do business?”
Liu Qiao answered, “It isn’t clear. The Chen family has always been quite mysterious. Chen Yu moved back to his ancestral house in Qingfeng Town but rarely went out or interacted with people but if he did, he greeted people politely. The neighbors only know that his family was very rich and they were particular about food and clothing.”
In this way, it seemed that Chen Yu’s father should be buried in a different place. This was why Chen Yu would run outside the town to burn paper money for his father. He obviously looked like a filial son but the fact that he didn’t have his father’s memorial tablet at him didn’t seem right… unless this was his father’s request.
A moment later, Long Sen and Qu Wanyue returned from their investigation of the east. Qu Wanyue said, “The old man Liu from the east was in his 80s and died three years ago. According to the children nearby, the old man loved telling stories and he always pulled the children to scare them with a ‘ghost in white’, saying that he saw the ghost with his own eyes on a rainy night three years ago.”
Xiao Lou asked, “Is there a more detailed version?”
Long Sen answered, “Wanyue tricked a child over with candied haws and the child repeated Uncle Liu’s story. On July 14th, there was a heavy rain and he was woken up by a thunderbolt in the middle of the night. He was thinking about going back to sleep but the moment he opened the door, he saw a female ghost in white clothes and long, fluttering hair passing by the door. He was so frightened that he almost wet his pants.”
The people in ancient times didn’t have the habit of wearing watches and they naturally didn’t know the specific time the female ghost was seen. The thunderbolt provided by the eyewitness Uncle Liu was very important.
The night of the rainstorm three years ago should be the same night as the scene that Xiao Lou’s group saw when they went to the ghost town on their first day.
It was a scene reproduction and they saw the scene of Miss Zhao getting married with their own eyes.
Xiao Lou clearly remembered that the rain didn’t stop until Yin Shi (around 3 o’clock). Once the rain stopped, Miss Zhao got married and there was only one clear thunder sound from the sky.
Uncle Liu had passed away. He definitely wasn’t the murderer or accomplice. As an eyewitness, his description might contain exaggerated elements. The information of ‘awakened by thunder’ was the key point they needed to pay special attention to.
Immediately after, Long Sen and Qu Wanyue visited Mrs Xue who lived in the southeast of the town and was closest to Uncle Liu.
Not long after, Qu Wanyue reported the results of the investigation. “Mrs Xue remarried and moved to Yuezhou two years ago. According to the neighbors nearby, she was awakened by the thunder. She remembered that she left her quilt in the yard and ran to get it, only to see a female ghost with long hair in white clothing drifting past the wall in the direction of the Zhao house. She was so scared that she hurried back to her house.”
Xiao Lou opened the map that Old Mo had left for him.
Based on the geographical location, Uncle Liu lived in the easternmost part of the town while Mrs Xue lived in the southeast. Both of them were awakened by thunder and saw the female ghost. The timing was very close. Perhaps the female ghost was active in the southeast part of the town when the thunder was heard.
Liu Qiao and Old Mo went to find Qin Ruolan, the owner of the clothing store.
Liu Qiao gave her some silver and asked if she knew about the rumors of the ghost. The store owner approached mysteriously and said, “There really is a ghost in this town. On the rainy night three years ago, I had a headache and couldn’t sleep. I got up when I heard the rain stop and wanted to go to the store to sort out the newly arrived fabrics. The moment I left the house, I saw a female ghost in white clothes and her hair covering her face. She floated past the alley and I was so frightened that I quickly hid in my house.”
Liu Qiao asked, “Did you hear thunder when you saw the female ghost?”
The female store owner thought about it carefully before shaking her head. “No, the rain had stopped for a long time before I went out and saw the female ghost.”
There were still two people left. One was the butcher Lin Yueran, who lived in the north of the town and the other was Zhang Chengyu, a hunter in the west of the town.
Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang personally went to investigate.
Lin Yueran didn’t look like a typical butcher. He looked quite educated and gentle when he wasn’t holding the butcher’s knife in his hand. Even so, Yu Hanjiang could tell that he was very strong. The muscles on his arms were clearly visible.
Yu Hanjiang asked bluntly, “Brother, I heard that you personally saw a ghost three years ago? My wife likes to hear these ghost stories. Can you tell us about it?”
Lin Yueran looked at Xiao Lou with a puzzled expression. Xiao Lou smiled and gave him a piece of silver. “I am traveling around with my husband and want to listen to some ghost stories to relieve the boredom.”
Lin Yueran had a complicated expression. “I’ve told this story many times already. Three years ago, it rained heavily one night and my son cried out to pee in the middle of the night. I took him out when I saw the rain had stopped. The moment we went out, a female ghost in white moved in front of us. I was startled and hurriedly took my son home. I thought my eyes were mistaken but as a result, my son also saw the female ghost. It definitely wasn’t an illusion!”
Xiao Lou asked, “The night you saw the female ghost was a rainy night?”
Lin Yueran nodded. “Yes.”
Xiao Lou wondered, “Was there lightning or thunder at the time? Isn’t it said that when evil spirits appear, thunder would fall from the sky?”
Lin Yueran was stunned. “It seems that there was..” He paused before saying firmly. “I did hear thunder.”
To prove his words, he called out his son.
The child was less than 10 years old and his voice was clear. “My father is right. We both saw the female ghost and there was thunder in the sky when she appeared!”
Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang thanked them and left. Finally, they went to the home of Zhang Chengyu, the hunter in the west of the city. Zhang Chengyu wasn’t home. He should’ve gone hunting. However, there was a child playing with stones nearby.
Xiao Lou coaxed the child over and asked, “Do you know this hunter surnamed Zhang?”
The child received a candy and said honestly, “I know him. Uncle Zhang went hunting this morning and said that he would hunt some hares for us to eat.”
“Did he ever tell you the story of the powerful ghost?”
The child answered nervously, “The ghost is terrifying! He told us he saw the ghost with his own eyes and told us not to go out at night or we will be taken away by ghosts.”
Yu Hanjiang asked in a low voice, “What did he tell you?”
The child scratched his head. “It rained three years ago. He was awakened by thunder in the middle of the night. He woke up and saw a ghost in white floating past outside the yard. He slipped and sprained his foot. The next day, someone disappeared and couldn’t be found. They must’ve been taken away by the ghost!”
Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang looked at each other and saw a trace of suspicion in the other person’s eyes.
Four of the five witnesses said they heard thunder. Only the owner of the clothing store said with certainty that she didn’t see the female ghost until the rain had stopped for a long time.
The murderer was playing a female ghost and couldn’t appear in five locations in the town at the same time.
On the night of the rainstorm three years ago, there was only thunder when the rain stopped and it didn’t last for more than three seconds. The murderer playing the female ghost couldn’t teleport to five places in the town within three seconds.
Some of these people must be lying.
Partially proofreader: Paranoid Kitten