Chapter 496 – Mysterious Organization
Ye Qi and Shao Qingge weren’t real robbers after all. Ye Qi saw the man trembling in fright and comforted him, “Don’t be afraid. We don’t want to kill you. We have been starving these days and came to find something to eat.” He glanced at the cellar and found there was quite a lot of stock in the cellar, including several bags of sweet potatoes, pickles and dried steamed buns.
Shao Qingge also saw this and patted the man on the shoulder with a smile. “You’re living pretty well.”
The man had a bitter face. “Since you are only looking for food, I will give it to you. I just want to ask the two of you to spare my life! Leave me a bit and don’t take it all…”
Shao Qingge said, “Rest assured, you have saved so much food. We can’t take it all. Besides, if we carry these things on the road, won’t we be tempting others to fight for it?”
He pretended to be contemplative. He lowered his head and thought about it. Then he smiled and made a suggestion. “Why don’t we do this? We will stay here and keep you company. If someone tries to rob you, it is easy for three people to deal with it. What do you think?”
The man was stunned. “S-Stay?”
Ye Qi looked around the cellar with admiration on his face. “My brother is right. It is quite spacious here. The two of us are outsiders and we have no place to live. It is better for us to live in this space with you.” Then he looked around and laid out some hay to make two simple beds. It was implying ‘we’ll stay here and won’t leave’.
The man, “……”
In addition to the robbery, they also wanted to occupy his nest. These two people were too much.
However, two fists were difficult to fight against four fists. The two of them knew martial arts at first glance. But they didn’t want to kill him and directly rob his food, which was much better than the bandits who came to his store a few days ago in order to smash and loot. Why didn’t he just… compromise first?
The man’s eyes rolled around as he clearly wondered how to respond.
Shao Qingge wanted to violently subdue him and force him to cooperate with the investigation. It was just that this man had a very smart brain despite his cowardly personality. If people kept forcing him, perhaps this guy would stab them in the back or run away in the middle of the night, which was self-defeating. Perhaps he should change the method if he really wanted this man to cooperate.
For example, let him treat them as friends and talk quickly?
Shao Qingge smiled when he thought of this. “Don’t worry. We have no grievances against you. There is no need to kill you.” Then he gently let go of the man.
Ye Qi and Shao Qingge were connected by Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings so Ye Qi naturally knew what Shao Qingge was thinking. He immediately cooperated. “We just grabbed you directly because we were afraid there would be bandits hiding in the cave. After all, the famine is everywhere and many people are acting crazy. All our silver and food have been robbed.”
Ye Qi was so witty. They could use this as an excuse to investigate the location of the bandits in the town.
The man was taken aback by their words. Still, he noticed that their tone had softened and was different from the brutal robbers. The man gritted his teeth and said, “Okay, you can live here temporarily. Don’t let anyone find out or else the things I’ve saved will definitely be robbed.”
Ye Qi nodded. “I know. We are going to starve to death. Can you give us both something to eat first?”
The man turned and went to find a few sweet potatoes.
Baked sweet potatoes could easily disperse a fragrant smell so he made a temporary stove in the underground hole and used the coals he saved to make a fire. The sweet potatoes were cooked in a pot. He cooked a lot at once and ate them over a few days. The remote location combined with the cover over the hole made it difficult to attract the attention of outsiders.
Shao Qingge saw that he was busy with the sweet potatoes so he sat down next to the man and asked, “What is your name?”
“My name is Ren Yuan.”
Shao Qingge smiled. “My name is Shao Xiaoge and this is my younger brother Shao Xiaoye.”
Ye Qi, “……”
Why do I always have your last name? Can’t you have the surname Ye?
Ye Qi’s complaint was received by Shao Qingge through their connection. The man smiled and glanced at him but had no intention of changing his words. He continued to seriously make up the story. “We are brothers who did business in other places. This year, there is a famine everywhere and our house was robbed by a group of thieves half a month ago. The two of us managed to escape. We walked all the way and ended up in this town. The money and dry food on our body was also robbed by a group of people.”
Ren Yuan’s face was full of sympathy and he gritted his teeth. “You must’ve been robbed by the Hounds group!”
Ye Qi and Shao Qingge glanced at each other.
The key clue had finally emerged.
Hounds. This organization was the brutal organization that made a living by robbing houses and eating human flesh. At that time, Chu Huaying asked a surviving homeless man in the town and the homeless man also mentioned this organization.
Ye Qi immediately asked with interest, “Brother Ren, do you know where those people are? They stole the parcel that my brother and I carried with us. I want to retrieve it. There are many valuable things left for us by our mother.”
Ren Yuan hurriedly shook his head. “I advise you not to go. The Hounds organization is brutal and there are many people. You definitely won’t be able to beat so many of them. You will only be caught and used as human animals…” He seemed to realize that he said something he shouldn’t have said and immediately closed his mouth with a pale face.
Shao Qingge raised an eyebrow and continued to ask him, “Human animals? What is that?”
Ren Yuan gritted his teeth and refused to say anything else. He lifted the lid of the pot and picked up the hot sweet potatoes. “Let’s have something to eat first. This is the sweet potato that I cooked last night and some dried radish. We should eat together.”
Ye Qi and Shao Qingge had set themselves up as ‘having been hungry for several days’. To avoid suspicion, the two of them had to take the food, pretend to be hungry and swallow it in large mouthfuls.
Shao Qingge couldn’t help frowning as soon as he took a bite. This was the worst sweet potato and dried radish he had ever eaten.
The sweet potatoes were half-cooked, hard and had no taste at all. Since they had been stored for a long time, they didn’t have the normal taste of sweet potatoes, let alone the dried radishes. It was like eating wood.
He turned his head to see Ye Qi eating with relish. Shao Qingge recalled Ye Qi’s experience of eating leaves in the Nightmare Room and couldn’t help feeling a sting in his heart. When would this type of thing end? Each time they opened their eyes in a new secret room, there might be bugs in front of them or zombies and wolves. Now they were sent to a famine world.
Challengers were like pawns at the mercy of others and it felt terrible. The answer to the puzzle and the way back must be found as quickly as possible.
Shao Qingge thought of this and simply took out the Sapphire Necklace card. His fingers flickered and a delicate necklace was now in his hand.
Shao Qingge handed the necklace to Ren Yuan and said in a low voice, “Brother Ren, this is the only piece of jewelry that we have left. We were robbed and fled here. Our parcels and food were taken away by the bandits of Qingfeng. We aren’t heartless people who will eat your food and live here for nothing. I can only give this thing as a reward in return.”
Ren Yuan looked at the necklace with a surprised face. It was a gem he had never seen before and glowed brightly even in the dimly lit space. It must be priceless, right? It seemed that these brothers were the sons of a wealthy family and they were now in trouble. Their treasures were robbed and they were so hungry that they had to eat sweet potatoes with him. They were really miserable.
Shao Qingge found that Ren Yuan’s facial expression had clearly relaxed. The sapphire necklace’s function of increasing ‘favorability’ seemed to have worked. In the last secret room, he carefully copied the necklace before giving it away. Now it was useful again.
Ren Yuan took Shao Qingge’s necklace and asked curiously, “This necklace is so beautiful. It must be expensive, right?”
Shao Qingge smiled. “My family is in the jewelry business. This piece of jewelry is made by hand. Once the famine is over, Brother Ren can exchange it for some silver and redecorate your store.”
Ren wanted to refuse but he felt that he had saved the brothers who had fallen into distress. It shouldn’t be too much to get a reward? Thinking like this, he happily accepted it.
Shao Qingge was involved in the business world and had a strong ability to observe words and expressions. He saw the relaxed expression and followed up with a question. “By the way, what exactly did Brother Ren mean when you mentioned the human animals just now?”
Ren Yuan’s face paled again when he heard the words ‘human animals’. He was silent for a moment before lowering his voice and saying in a trembling manner, “Brother Shao, this is a long story…”
Ye Qi hurriedly said, “You can tell us. In any case, we can’t leave here. There is time to listen to you. The more detailed it is, the better.”
Ren Yuan sighed and told them, “This year’s drought has gone on for three months and the grain harvest wasn’t as good as before. Many people in the town didn’t have enough to eat. Everyone reluctantly relied on their food storage for a few months. They thought that the prefecture would distribute food for disaster relief. The mayor of the town also thought this way. But after waiting for a long time, there was still no relief food.”
“Gradually, the town fell into chaos. At first, a few scattered people came out to rob the orphans and widows. People who were easy to bully had their food robbed. It became more and more extreme. These robbers formed a gang and most of the people in the small town had their food reserves robbed. Then the gang went to the nearby mountain to occupy it and built a stronghold.”
That mountain behind the forest? Didn’t it become a mass burial site 20 years later?
Ye Qi and Shao Qingge both had an idea in their minds. Could it be that this was why the murderer led people to the mass burial site to commit the crime?
Ye Qi asked, “The stronghold you are talking about belongs to the Hounds organization?”
Ren Yuan shook his head. “No, this stronghold was casually set up by some gangsters. They were chaotic and no one obeyed anyone. Later, they became a mess and killed each other. It was said that not long after that, some of the bandits were slaughtered in the night. The rest ran away with the gold and silver and the mountain was covered with corpses.”
Shao Qingge asked, “What about the Hounds organization?”
“It is a secret organization set up by some people in the town a few days ago. They put on masks every time they go outside and no one can see their true appearance. They have dogs who will find people by smell so the townspeople call them the Hounds. Not only will they snatch food, gold, silver and jewelry but they also take people away.”
Ye Qi pretended to be surprised. “They capture people? This is what you mean by… human animals?”
“That’s right. They capture people and keep them in the town’s largest pigsty, eating human flesh and drinking human blood!” Ren Yuan said with a pale face. “One night, I went out to urinate and I heard a child screaming in the alley outside. I secretly looked through the crack in the door and saw them with my own eyes. A child was taken away and they said they would go back to drink that night.”
Shao Qingge and Ye Qi, “……”
It seemed that the brutal methods of this organization were actually heard by many people who survived.
The members of the Hounds organization knew that this practice was unconscionable so they put on masks when they went out at night. No one could clearly determine who these people were.
It was precisely due to this that the ‘ghost seeking lives’ incident that occurred many years later was easier for the people of the small town to accept. After all, many people did act worse than beasts during the famine. They survived only by eating their own kind. The revenge of a ghost seemed natural.
Therefore, even if many people of the town disappeared for no apparent reason on the night of the Ghost Festival, no one investigated the root cause. They were more willing to believe in karmic retribution—retribution from the ghost.
Who would be the ‘ghost’ in 20 years?
Partially proofread: Paranoid Kitten