Chapter 500 – Grandma
The world of twenty years ago.
Shao Qingge and Ye Qi looked at the vine hanging down the cliff and hesitated to follow. Ye Qi said in his mind, “This Ren Yuan is taking us up a cliff. What if he is the murderer and wants to act against us?”
Shao Qingge considered it for a moment. “You climb up first while I place the entrance of the Peach Blossom Spring nearby. If the situation changes, we will retreat immediately. It won’t be so easy for him to kill us.”
“Yes, I’ll block his view. Call Tao Yuanming as soon as possible.” Ye Qi raised his head and called out to Ren Yuan, “Brother Ren, wait for us. I’m coming up.”
Ye Qi followed the vine and slowly climbed up. Meanwhile, Shao Qingge summoned Tao Yuanming and opened the Peach Blossom Spring. Fortunately, Xiao Lou had given him two Tao Yuanming cards. For the next three hours, they could return to the Peach Blossom Spring for refuge at any time. There was no need to worry about encountering the murderer.
Shao Qingge activated the Peach Blossom Spring and climbed up after Ye Qi.
This vine was woven from weeds and had the thickness of an adult’s arm. It was very strong. This cliff was often climbed and there were many concave pits formed on the cliff which could be used as a foothold.
Ren Yuan climbed very quickly and within a few minutes, the three of them reached the top of the mountain.
20 years in the past, the top of the mountain wasn’t a mass burial site. The bright moon hung in the sky and seemed close enough to touch. The wind at the top of the mountain was cold and the surrounding dry trees rustled in the cold winter wind. Ren Yuan shoved his red frozen hands into his sleeves and walked forward quickly. “Quickly follow me.”
Ye Qi and Shao Qingge followed behind him.
Ye Qi had just taken a few steps when he almost tripped over a corpse. He hurriedly supported himself using the tree next to him and pretended to be terrified. “T-These corpses?”
Ren Yuan made a ‘shh’ gesture and lowered his voice. “It is those bandits. They robbed the town’s gold and silver and ran to take over the mountain. Then there were disputes due to the stolen goods and many were killed.”
Ye Qi had already guessed the identity of these corpses and just asked Ren Yuan for confirmation.
Shao Qingge’s eyes quickly swept around and he leaned over to roughly inspect a nearby corpse. He might not be a forensic doctor but he had learned a lot of autopsy knowledge from Xiao Lou. Most of the corpses had obvious knife wounds on their chest and abdomen and there were bloodstains all over the ground. Obviously, these corpses were killed in a fight and the weapon used should be a sharp knife.
Ye Qi wanted to take a close look but Ren Yuan urged them, “Let’s go.”
The two of them had to keep up with him.
They walked some distance along a winding path until a simple wooden house appeared in front of them. The location of the wooden house was very secluded,behind a few big trees. It was easy to be overlooked unless one looked closely.
Ye Qi spoke in his mind, “I remember there was no such wooden house at the mass burial site 20 years later, right?”
“Yes. In 20 years, this mountain will be covered with graves. Meanwhile, there are currently no more than ten corpses on this mountain. Those who died from starvation haven’t yet been dumped here in large numbers. They are still scattered all over the town.”
Ye Qi agreed. “The people living in this wooden house should be very important. We have to pay attention to it.”
The two of them were communicating through the Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings when Ren Yuan suddenly said, “You two wait for me here. I’ll be right back.”
He stepped forward alone, knocked softly on the door of the house and called out in a low voice, “Grandma, it’s me.”
A moment later, the door creaked open and an old lady with a wrinkled face came out. She said in a hoarse voice, “Ren Yuan? Why did you come to visit in the middle of the night?”
“I wanted to take some food back.”
The grandmother nodded and said, “Okay, come with me.”
The two of them walked into the wooden house. Shao Qingge and Ye Qi exchanged looks and Ye Qi quickly threw a bug into the house. Soon, the sound of footsteps came from the bug. There should be two people going down wooden steps. This was followed by a conversation. The conversation had obvious echoes so they were probably in a closed off hidden room.
Ye Qi listened carefully and heard Ren Yuan say in a low voice, “Grandma, those two people suddenly broke into my house and found my cellar. They are very strange. They said they fled to Qingfeng Town from another place and had all their belongings stolen by the robbers here. They caught me but they didn’t hurt me. They just asked for something to eat. I don’t think they are bad people so I let them stay with me temporarily.”
The grandmother sighed lightly. “In this world, it is already difficult for us to protect ourselves. You still have the leisure to save people… don’t save two ingrates. When the time comes, they will rob you of everything and hurt you.”
Ren Yuan smiled. “I don’t think they are evil people. However, I couldn’t make up my mind so I wanted you to decide.”
The grandmother was silent for a moment. “We don’t have much food left in stock. It’s not even enough to be divided between so many children. How can it be shared with outsiders? Now isn’t the time for kindness. It is better to take advantage of it being the middle of the night to knock them out and throw them out of Qingfeng Town. Their life or death depends on their fate. We don’t owe them anything.”
Ren Yuan hesitated for a moment before gritting his teeth and nodding. “Okay, I will do as you say. I’ll call them into the house later, give them a good meal and knock them out to throw them down the mountain. This is the best thing I can do.”
Shao Qingge and Ye Qi listened to the conversation coming from the bug and looked at each other, not knowing how to feel.
The approach of the grandmother and Ren Yuan wasn’t very kind but in this chaotic world, it was already difficult to even protect themselves. Food was limited and an extra mouth would make more relatives starve. No one was obligated to save two strangers. This was a normal decision. Ren Yuan would be too much of a Virgin Mary if he actually let them stay and gave them food.
Ye Qi said in his mind, “This grandmother’s voice is familiar to me. Is she the one we met in the town during the day?”
“It should be her. Her hoarse voice is highly recognizable. She might have a bad throat and mild asthma.”’
Shao Qingge smiled helplessly. “We can only be calculated against. They want to knock us unconscious so we’ll pretend to faint and lower their vigilance. Then we’ll go up the mountain to investigate later on in the night.”
Ye Qi agreed with this approach. “They might poison the food. Be careful later.”
The communication in their minds had reached here when the door of the wooden house opened again. Ren Yuan came to them and smiled. “Grandma invited the two of you to enter.”
Shao Qingge and Ye Qi obediently followed. Ye Qi pretended to be curious and asked, “Who is this grandmother?”
Ren Yuan answered, “Grandma is a very good person. She adopted many orphans in the town and I was brought up by her. By the way, it is Grandma who taught me how to make rattle-drums.”
These two key pieces of information made Shao Qingge and Ye Qi excited.
It turned out that the source of the rattle-drums wasn’t Ren Yuan but the ‘Grandma’ of 20 years ago.
Since the grandmother was a master of making rattle-drums, it was likely that the children she raised would have the rattle-drums she gave them. Perhaps this was why the murderer had a deep obsession with rattle-drums and even left the rattle-drums at the scene of the crime?
Shao Qingge and Ye Qi entered the wooden house with such doubts.
The interior of the wooden house was much larger than expected. There were three floors: the second floor, the first floor and the basement.
The two of them were brought to the table on the first floor by Ren Yuan. This was a long table that could sit eight people at the same time. After Shao Qingge and Ye Qi sat down, the grandmother poured two glasses of water on her own initiative. She also gave them a plate of steamed buns. “I heard Ren Yuan say that the two of you are his friends? I don’t have anything else to entertain guests with here so just use this to fill your stomachs.”
Shao Qingge glanced at the water in the cup. It was probably drugged.
Ye Qi knew that this water definitely wasn’t clean and pretended to take two sips before smiling, “Thank you, Grandma. We just ate at Brother Ren’s place and we aren’t hungry yet. By the way, how did you end up living on the mountain?”
The grandmother sighed softly. “We are poor people who don’t have any land deeds in our hands. I can’t build a house in town so I can only build a random house with wood in the wilderness to keep out the wind and rain.”
Ye Qi was sympathetic. “So that’s how it is… I heard Brother Ren say he was raised by you?”
The grandmother smiled at the two of them but didn’t answer.
Ye Qi estimated that the drug was about to take effect so he pretended to be confused and fell on the table. Shao Qingge also lay on the table. Ren Yuan came over and patted Shao Qingge’s shoulder lightly. “Brother Shao? Wake up.”
Shao Qingge continued to pretend to be unconscious.
The grandmother stood up and said, “My drug works very quickly. You can move the two of them out.” Then she shouted upstairs, “Ah Feng, Ah Ran, come down and help Uncle Ren.”
Two children ran down from the second floor and helped Ren Yuan drag Shao Qingge and Ye Qi down the mountain.
Ye Qi was dragged all the way like a ‘corpse’. He pretended to be unconscious but he actually seized the opportunity to stick bugs to the feet of each of the three people. They threw the two of them at the bottom of the mountain and left. Ye Qi opened his eyes and asked Shao Qingge in his heart, “Let’s go back now? Or wait for midnight?”
“Let’s go now. If we are teleported back to the original world after midnight, we won’t have any chance to investigate.”
Ye Qi nodded. He used the teleportation card with Shao Qingge to quickly reach the wooden house at the top of the mountain.
Ren Yuan had already descended the mountain.
Through the window on the second floor, they could see there were bunk beds upstairs and four children slept on the beds with only their heads exposed. Judging from the hairstyle, there should be two boys and two girls.
Ye Qi said, “These children are all orphans adopted by the grandmother, right?”
“Yes. Is it possible that the murderer 20 years later is one of these children?”
It was impossible for the grandmother to commit the crime. She was in her 60s now and the oldest person in Qingfeng Town in 20 years was 70 years old. Then was the murderer Ren Yuan or one of these children? Or were they just plot characters related to the case?
Ye Qi analyzed it. “The grandmother has raised four children. Just now when she called them downstairs to help, one is called Ah Feng and the other is Ah Ran. Will Ah Feng be Qin Feng 20 years later?”
The grandmother called the children by their nicknames.
Would Ah Feng be Qin Feng?
If so, the other three children who grew up with Qin Feng were very suspicious. Qin Feng was obviously related to the ghost murderer incident. He wrote the roster and the names on it were marked with red crosses. Most of these people had disappeared while only a few were still alive. He must know something.
Shao Qingge said, “At the time, Xiao Lou said that Qin Feng was suspicious but not necessarily the murderer. The evidence regarding Qin Feng was too obvious and simple. Therefore, he probably knows who the murderer is. We have to pay attention to the three children who grew up with him.”
“Unfortunately, they are all asleep. I didn’t expect Ren Yuan and the grandmother to drug us and throw us down the mountain. We can’t continue to ask Ren Yuan for help so we have to think of another way.”
Shao Qingge suddenly smiled. “I have an idea.”
Ye Qi said anxiously, “Speak quickly.”
Shao Qingge explained, “We copied Brother Jiu’s mask card before and that card is now in my hand. I can pretend to be Ren Yuan, go into the house and chat with the grandmother. This way, we can find out the identities of the children.”
Ye Qi’s eyes lit up. “Good idea!”
Shao Qingge disguised himself as Ren Yuan and knocked on the door again while Ye Qi stayed on the roof and listened with the bug.
The grandmother opened the door and saw ‘Ren Yuan’ who had returned. She couldn’t help wondering, “Why are you back?”
“I’m worried about the children. Are they asleep?”
“They’ve all fallen asleep.”
“Just now, you asked Ah Feng and Ah Ran to help me throw these two outsiders down the mountain. I saw that Ah Ran’s face isn’t very good. Has he been sick recently?”
The grandmother said helplessly, “Qi Ran went to dig weeds in the forest below the mountain yesterday and caught a cold. However, he is in good health. I checked him this morning and it shouldn’t be serious.”
Shao Qingge pretended to be enlightened. “The weather has been very cold recently so the children should be more careful. If they become sick and the root of the disease is left, it can be troublesome. In particular, there are two girls. Grandma, I need to trouble you to take more care of them.”
The grandmother smiled. “You don’t have to worry about Ningshuang and Xiaoyun. They have been following me and these two children are more clever. You can rest assured to go back to town. You have been walking around recently so be careful not to get caught. The sweet potatoes brought today are enough for us to eat for several days. Thank you for the children.”
It turned out that Ren Yuan didn’t only go up the mountain to discuss with the grandmother how to deal with the two of them. He also secretly brought food for the grandmother.
Shao Qingge said, “You’re welcome. Then I’ll go back first. Grandma, take care.”
He turned to leave the wooden house while speaking to Ye Qi in his mind, “Qin Feng, Qi Ran, Ningshuan and Xiaoyun. They are the two boys and girls living with the grandmother. Ren Yuan has been helping them and giving them sweet potatoes.”
Among these people, who was the murderer who wiped out the Zhao and Chen families more than 10 years later?
Proofeader: Paranoid Kitten & Fictional Reality