Chapter 498 – The World of Three Years Ago
Lu Jiuchuan’s group of four returned to the inn and Chu Huaying took the initiative to suggest, “The clues we left for Xiao Lou are still too few. The five people who saw the ghost are suspicious but there is no evidence to prove they are related to the murderer. I think it is still necessary to keep an eye on Qin Feng. The mayor has always been acting strangely.”
Gui Yuanzhang asked, “Huaying, do you want to follow him?”
Chu Huaying nodded and said decisively, “My physical fitness has been strengthened by the cards. I can quietly follow him without being detected by him, even without the help of the invisibility cloak.”
Lu Jiuchuan smiled. “Of course. I am assured of Huaying’s tracking ability. The clues on Qin Feng’s side will be handed over to you.”
“Okay, I’ll act when it gets dark.”
Lu Jiuchuan looked at Tang Ci and lowered his voice. “The drone on the Zhao family’s side is arranged?”
“Yes, the person who set up the memorial hall for the Zhao family should appear soon.”
Lu Jiuchuan continued, “There is another person we need to pay attention to. The woman who was crying at the Chen house today said that her sister had given birth and she came to visit. Qin Feng didn’t know her and asked her if she came from outside the town. Perhaps we can find some clues about her sister i.e. Mrs Chen Yu.”
Gui Yuanzhang said, “This person will be handed over to me. I just saw her staying at the Fulai Inn.”
Tang Ci added, “The remaining five witnesses who saw the powerful ghost will be investigated by Brother Jiu and I.”
The group was assigned tasks.
At night, the four people moved separately.
Chu Huaying flew like a ghost to Qin Feng’s residence and quietly climbed onto the roof.
The light was on in the study and Qin Feng was looking intently at the roster he had written by candlelight. There was a thoughtful expression on his face. It wasn’t known how much time passed but he actually maintained this statue-like motionless action.
Chu Huaying waited patiently on the roof.
Finally, Qin Feng stood up. He blew out the candle with a frown, put on a coat and turned to go out.
It was late at night. Most of the people had gone to sleep and the town was quiet. Occasionally, some crickets could be heard. Qin Feng deliberately relaxed his pace and headed toward the southeast direction of the town, with Chu Huaying following behind him like a ghost.
To Chu Huaying’s surprise, he actually walked to the door of the store where Mrs Xue sold tofu.
He seemed hesitant as he paced back and forth in front of the doorway.
Chu Huaying had doubts in her heart. Previously when she inquired around the town today, Mrs Xue had told people that she had seen the ghost last night. Chu Huaying had listened to the nearby neighbors talk about this matter and knew that the second young master of the Xue family died of illness within a few days of marrying Mrs Xue. She became a widow and supported the tofu store alone.
Qin Feng came to Mrs Xue’s door in the middle of the night. Did the two of them have an impure relationship?
Chu Huaying concentrated and continued to stare at the door.
A moment later, Qin Feng seemed to have made up his mind. He took a step forward to gently knock on the door.
The house was lit by warm yellow candlelight. A thin woman wearing a cloak opened the door. Soft moonlight shone on her face, making her look a bit pale. Still, she had a beautiful, clear face. In particular, her eyes stood out against her white skin.
She saw the person in front of her and chuckled. “I guessed it was you. Why? Did you come to me in the middle of the night to investigate?”
Qin Feng looked around. “Can we go in and speak?”
“My husband is no longer here. Is it appropriate for you to enter my house in the middle of the night?”
Qin Feng coughed and said solemnly, “I have something serious to ask you.”
Mrs Xue smiled and opened the door. Qin Feng entered the house and she locked the door from inside.
Chu Huaying immediately climbed up a tree, jumped and landed lightly on the roof. She lifted a tile and looked inside the house.
Qin Feng sat in the guest seat. Mrs Xue poured him a cup of tea but he didn’t drink it. He looked at the other person and lowered his voice. “I came here to ask you something.”
Mrs Xue still had a smile on her face. “Is it about the powerful ghost?”
“Yes. Last night, five people said they saw the ghost. I remember very clearly that after the rain stopped, thunder was only heard once. You said that there was thunder in the sky when the ghost appeared. Is this true?”
“Of course it is true. I was so frightened that my legs became weak and I hurried back into my house.”
“Old Liu, Zhang Chengyu and Lin Yueran also said that they saw the ghost when there was thunder. The four of you live in different locations in the east, south, west and north of the town. How can you see the ghost at the same time as the thunder?”
“Really? Did they see it too?” Mrs Xue pretended to be surprised. “A powerful ghost can float around. I don’t know what is going on. Perhaps it can appear in many places at the same time?”
Qin Feng stared at her deeply. “Then do you know that Old Liu’s ears aren’t good and he often hears incorrectly? The place where he lives is closest to the Zhao family. Last night, Miss Zhao got married and a string of firecrackers was placed on the street. Perhaps he misheard the sound of firecrackers as thunder?”
He paused and said slowly, “I went to ask Zheng Chengyu and Lin Yueran in the afternoon. They don’t seem to be lying. Brother Lin’s son also heard that there was thunder when the ghost appeared. It is even more impossible for children to lie so…”
The woman’s expression changed. She put away her smile and said coldly, “You suspect that I am lying?”
Qin Feng sighed lightly and looked at her with complicated eyes. “Ningshuang, we grew up together. Can’t you tell the truth in front of me?”
The woman said casually, “Han Ningshuang is already dead. Don’t call me that.”
Qin Feng was silent for a moment. “Okay, Mrs Xue. Last night, it wasn’t a ghost at all… you were acting as a scary female ghost, right?”
The corner of the woman’s lips raised with a hint of sarcasm. “You are thinking too highly of me. How can I fly in the sky?”
Qin Feng said, “However, you can make a kite, a white kite.”
The woman, “……”
Chu Huaying hid on the roof. She listened to the conversation between the two of them and was surprised in her heart.
First, Qin Feng and Mrs Xue had known each other since childhood. Qin Feng found a loophole in the description of the ghost sighting of the five people and finally confirmed that Mrs Xue was lying.
Secondly, Mrs Xue’s real name was Han Ningshuang. She could make kites so she likely made a white kite. She put a woman’s white clothes over the kite and covered it with black hair to fake the appearance of a ghost. Then she used the wind to put the kite in the sky, making people mistakenly think that a ghost was floating in the sky.
She pretended to be one of the frightened witnesses while actually secretly committing murder…
The trajectory of her movement was the trajectory in which the witnesses in town saw the ‘ghost’.
The first person who saw it was Old Liu who lived nearby. He misheard the sound of firecrackers when Miss Zhao got married as thunder.
The second one who saw it was the lady in the center of the town, who didn’t hear the thunder.
Next was the Zhang and Lin families who lived in the west and north of Qingfeng Town. During the time when Mrs Xue walked to the northwest with the kite, there was a thunderclap in the sky. Then in the northwest, the place closest to the exit of the town, she threw away the kite and followed the wedding procession out of town.
However, she ignored the detail of the thunder. Old Liu was the first to say ‘I saw the female ghost when there was thunder’ so she followed up and agreed. She wanted to reduce her suspicions but she didn’t expect it to be self-defeating. Instead, it allowed her to be caught by Qin Feng.
Mrs Xue was silent for a long time before smiling. “Do you think I have such a great ability to make the 20 or so members of the Zhao and Chen families disappear overnight?”
Qin Feng shook his head. “I’m not sure. We separated when we were young and in the years that followed, I don’t know where you went or what you did.”
Pain flashed in his eyes. He lowered his head slightly and spoke in a subdued voice. “I returned to Qingfeng Town to wait for you. I thought you might go back to our hometown to take a look and I would be able to find you. However, I didn’t expect that the person I was waiting for would be Mrs Xue who came back after getting married.”
The room fell silent.
A moment later, Mrs Xue sighed lightly and said, “Xue Zhao saved my life. I married him to repay his kindness. At that time, I didn’t know he was from Qingfeng Town. If I had known, I would’ve never followed him back to this sad place.” She paused before whispering, “I thought you were dead.”
Qin Feng smiled bitterly and shook his head. “I was also saved by well-meaning people.”
The room fell silent again. Both of them seemed to be caught up in their memories.
There was a lot of information that was unclear in their conversation but it was certain that they had known each other from a young age. Moreover, Qin Feng had never married. Many matchmakers were rejected by him and told he was waiting for someone. This person was Mrs Xue, a childhood sweetheart formerly known as Han Ningshuang.
The room was dimly lit and the shadows of the two people cast on the wall swayed gently.
Qin Feng stared blankly at the shadows on the wall while Han Ningshuang used a bamboo stick to poke the wick. Then she said in an expressionless manner. “For the sake of our childhood relationship, I can tell you that the people of the Zhao family and Chen family deserve it. You should stop insisting on investigating. You haven’t forgotten how they treated Grandma, right?”
Qin Feng’s face was pale and he didn’t say anything back.
Han Ningshuang clearly enunciated every word. “They chopped off her hands and cooked them in a pot. They chopped her legs to become meat fillings and cut off her ears to soak them in wine to drink…”
Qin Feng snapped. “Don’t say it!”
Han Ningshuang stopped describing it with a cold expression.
Qin Feng stood up in a frustrated manner. “I hate them too! However, those animals are already dead. Their wives and children weren’t guilty of their sins. The descendants of the Zhao and Chen families were as old as us at the time. How could they know about this?”
Han Ningshuang sneered. “Didn’t those children also eat Grandma’s flesh to survive? Why can’t they pay back the sins of their ancestors?”
Qin Feng, “……”
Han Ningshuang said, “A blood debt is paid by blood. Qin Feng, I advise you not to check it again or I might do something to you.” She paused before saying, “It is late. You should go back. There will be gossip if you are caught coming to my residence in the middle of the night.”
Qin Feng stood up with an ugly expression. He took two steps before turning back, “Where did you take those people?”
Han Ningshuang sneered. “I won’t tell you. Tomorrow, you can expose me in front of everyone and say that I flew a kite to pretend to be a ghost on the night of July 14th. You can say that I killed more than 20 members of the Zhao and Chen families. Then according to the rules left by the ancestors, you can tie me to a wooden frame and burn me alive.”
Qin Feng’s face was pale. “You are simply being stubborn! What is the difference between you killing innocents and those beasts? Do you really think I can’t bear to expose you?”
Han Ningshuang turned around, showing him the back of her head as she ignored him.
Qin Feng slammed the door with a look of despair.
Chu Huaying watched the scene from the roof and didn’t know what to say. She followed Qin Feng back to his house and found him sitting at the table in a listless manner. Eventually, he picked up a brush, dipped it in red paint and put a red cross on all the names on the roster.
Qin Feng blew out the candle and went to sleep. Chu Huaying flew to the next street, pressed down on the earpiece and quickly told Lu Jiuchuan the information she saw and heard.
Lu Jiuchuan was stunned after hearing this. “Is it true that Han Ningshuang is the murderer?”
Tang Ci said, “The so-called powerful ghost turned out to be a white kite she flew. In other words, during the famine, the ‘Grandma’ she talked about was captured by the Hounds organization and tortured to death. She and Qin Feng, who should’ve been raised by this grandmother, had the privilege of escaping from Qingfeng Town. Then a few years later, they were somehow separated.”
Lu Jiuchuan followed Tang Ci’s speculation. “Qin Feng liked her and went back to the town to wait for her. She was rescued by a young man called Xue Zhao and married him, becoming Mrs Xue. Then she returned to Qingfeng Town and carried out a crazy revenge on the people of the town?”
“I remember the drone took photos of the information of everybody in town.” Tang Ci opened the drone to take a look. “Based on the age of Mrs Xue, she was only 9 years old when the famine occurred. Her Zodiac sign is the… tiger.”
On the drum surface of the rattle-drum, a small tiger was depicted.
Partially proofread: Paranoid Kitten