Chapter 503: The True Murderer
Aunt Qing left Qingfeng Town with Qin Feng and Han Ningshuang. The range of the bug was only 500 meters so it was impossible to continue to rely on the bug to track the three of them. The best way was to act separately. It might not be safe to act separately but there were only two of them at the moment. They couldn’t miss any clue.
Ye Qi took the initiative to make a suggestion. “I have the teleportation card and can move quickly. I will track Aunt Qing. You stay in Qingfeng Town and continue to monitor Ren Yuan and the two children.”
Shao Qingge was worried. “If you act alone, what will you do if you encounter danger?”
Ye Qi smiled. “Rest assured, I have a lot of control cards in my hands and I also have the Bug King card you gave me. If something happens, I can transform into the bug king. The bug king isn’t afraid of swords or spears. Even if my limbs are chopped off, they can regenerate.”
This unlucky remark made Shao Qingge frown and he immediately interrupted. “Don’t talk nonsense. The bug king isn’t invincible and fear of fire is its fatal weakness. If we are separated, I can’t help you in time.”
Ye Qi looked into Shao Qingge’s eyes and said seriously, “However, if we let go of the clue of Aunt Qing, we won’t be able to get the correct answer and leave this secret room. Rest assured, I can take care of myself.” He paused before adding, “I’m more worried about you, Chief Shao. You have those rich and willful cards that aren’t as good as my music cards when there is trouble.”
The young man’s serious eyes made Shao Qingge’s heart soften and he gently pressed a hand on Ye Qi’s shoulder. “You are right. We have no reason to let go of a clue in vain. Okay, we will separate and keep in touch using Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings. In any situation, put your own safety first, understood?”
“No problem.” Ye Qi nodded cautiously.
The two of them looked at each other. Ye Qi mouthed ‘take care’ before disappearing.
Aunt Qing’s horse obviously wasn’t in good strength and it didn’t run fast. Ye Qi soon caught up with them.
Shao Qingge stayed where Ren Yuan lived and observed patiently. The two of them always kept in touch with each other. They confirmed each other’s safety while also discussing countermeasures.
After a long time Ye Qi’s voice was heard in Shao Qingge’s mind. “Aunt Qing brought the two children to Yuezhou but the situation in Yuezhou isn’t much better than Qingfeng Town. There are many people dead from the famine and corpses are scattered all over. Aunt Qing didn’t enter the city and instead settled the two children in a ruined temple outside the city. This ruined temple is uninhabited.”
“A ruined temple?” Shao Qingge wondered.
“There is a dry well in the temple where she hid food.”
Shao Qingge understood. “I see. On my side, Ren Yuan has some problems. Qi Ran has a high fever and is unconscious. Red spots have appeared on his back. Xiaoyun has been taking care of him.”
“A high fever?” Ye Qi was stunned. “Is it possible that his severed finger is infected?”
“It is possible. He also has a lot of red spots on his face. He should have chickenpox, the same disease as Han Ningshuang.” Shao Qingge had chickenpox when he was a child. He remembered that his entire body was covered with red and itchy spots. His parents ordered him not to go out so he hid at home for a week. Then his illness quickly improved.
According to the doctors, people who got this disease would produce antibodies and gain lifelong immunity. They wouldn’t get the disease again in the future. At that time, he was still young and Shao Qingge hadn’t cared about it after he recovered. Now he saw the red spots on Qi Ran’s body and remembered his experience when he was young.
Ye Qi pondered on it for a moment. “In other words, the grandmother told the organization that the children had a highly contagious disease to deceive them and send the children away, but the children actually only have chickenpox?”
Shao Qingge nodded. “Yes, I had chickenpox when I was a child and I know about this disease. Smallpox and chickenpox both cause spots on the skin but the fatality rate is very different. Smallpox has been eliminated in our time but in ancient times, it was the most terrifying and infectious disease. It will be difficult to survive if you have smallpox, right?”
Ye Qi thought to himself that there would be a more professional explanation of these diseases if Professor Xiao was here. He and Shao Qingge were both laymen and only knew a bit. Shao Qingge’s analysis was very reasonable. Ye Qi thought about it and said, “There should be more things that happen next, right? The death of the grandmother buried the seeds of hatred in their hearts but 20 years later, the murderer’s method involves ‘soul bewitchment’. How did these children learn these secret techniques?”
Shao Qingge said, “Yes, this is the key. We will continue to follow them.”
Nothing happened the next day. At night, Qi Ran finally woke up. Zhou Xiaoyun fed him water. Qi Ran’s entire body was itchy and he couldn’t stand it. He kept scratching with his hands. Ren Yuan immediately stopped him. “Ah Ran, don’t scratch it. Scratching will leave scars.”
Qi Ran paled and he looked up. “Uncle Ren, will I live?”
Ren Yuan gently touched his head. “Definitely.”
Qi Ran looked at the sweet potatoes on the ground in a daze and murmured in a low voice, “When I was five years old, my parents died of illness. They didn’t leave me any money or food. I was begging on the street with a broken bowl… I remember it was winter. I was only wearing a tattered short jacket and my hands and feet were so frozen they were numb. There was heavy snow that night and I thought I would freeze to death…”
Zhou Xiaoyun choked up. “Did Grandma save you?”
The corners of Qi Ran’s mouth raised in a gentle smile. “It was Grandma and Ningshuang. I saw a girl in red cover me in a cotton robe and stuffed a steamed bun in my hand. I hadn’t eaten in three days and thought I was dreaming of an immortal. I ate the steamed bun in two bites. Grandma crouched down, looked at me and said, ‘Poor child, come back with me. I can’t let you eat or drink freely but at least you won’t starve or freeze’.”
Ren Yuan sat on the side and stayed silent.
Zhou Xiaoyun burst into tears while Qi Ran intermittently told her the story of their grandma.
Their grandmother was surnamed Sun and was an outsider. She came to Qingfeng Town with her husband to do business and she brought their five year old son with her. Originally, the family was living a beautiful life yet unexpectedly, a disease caused her child to die and her husband accidentally fell off a cliff to his death when he was out. She survived alone, making a living by crafting toys. She also adopted many orphans in town.
Ren Yuan was her first adopted child. He was as old as her child who died so she treated Ren Yuan like her own son. She passed on the skill of making rattle-drums to him. The second child she adopted was Aunt Qing. Next was Han Ningshuang, Qin Feng, Qi Ran and the youngest Zhou Xiaoyun.
For these children, their grandmother was their savior and only relative in the world.
Qi Ran took out a rattle-drum and choked up. “This was a gift from Grandma on my ninth birthday. There was no famine at the time and Grandma told me she would teach me the craft of making rattle-drums. I didn’t expect…”
Ren Yuan sighed softly and pressed a hand to his shoulder. “Ah Ran, don’t be sad. Grandma is in Heaven and won’t want you to be sad. You are sick now. Take care of your body first and then we will speak… Grandma must hope you will all live well.”
Qi Ran wiped away his tears and nodded. “I will live. I didn’t freeze to death when I was five years old and I won’t starve to death now.” A trace of determination flashed in the boy’s eyes and he gritted his teeth. “I will definitely seek revenge on those people when I grow up!”
Zhou Xiaoyun said seriously, “Brother Ran, let’s avenge Grandma together!”
The words of a child shouldn’t be taken too seriously. They were stimulated by the death of their grandmother and their hearts were full of hatred, but it was still uncertain who would act once they became adults.
Ye Qi suddenly said through their connection, “These children attach great importance to their grandmother. Could they have committed the crime together?”
Shao Qingge thought about it carefully and felt this was also possible. “At present, Qi Ran, Zhou Xiaoyun, Qin Feng and Han Ningshuang are separated. One group is in Qingfeng Town and the other is in Yuezhou. In these turbulent times, they might not meet again. I remember that Qin Feng later returned to Qingfeng Town and became the mayor of the town. In addition, he never got married?”
“Yes! I remember that at the time, the store clerk said Qin Feng’s house was bombarded by matchmakers but all the matchmakers were politely rejected by him. He said he had a marriage contract and was waiting for his sweetheart. Is Han Ningshuang with whom he grew up with the sweetheart he was talking about?”
Shao Qingge nodded. “I think so too. If the person he is waiting for is Han Ningshuang, it means the two of them were separated later. Qin Feng has been waiting for her. Is it possible that Han Ningshuang learned that soul bewitchment magic during the time they were separated?”
Ye Qi had a headache. “We can’t always follow them. We don’t have to follow them for over 10 years and wait for them to grow up, right?”
Shao Qingge was silent for a moment. “We must discover the murderer as soon as possible or we will starve to death in this famine world. This time, we didn’t stock up any food in advance and only have the supply card.”
The supply card only provided milk, instant noodles, mineral water and chocolates and it could only be used once per secret room. They were two adults. How many days could this food last?
Ye Qi smiled bitterly. “This famine world doesn’t allow us to stay for too long. The only method is to rob other people’s food but this will cut off their way to live. All the things in the supply card can last for three days. Can we solve the case within three days? If not, we will have to eat leaves…”
Shao Qingge pressed a hand to his temple. “Do your best. I hope that new clues will appear within three days.”
The next day, Shao Qingge and Ye Qi only drank one bottle of milk. At night, a strong sense of hunger struck. The food in the town had long been looted. Shao Qingge didn’t want to rob Ren Yuan’s sweet potatoes, which might affect the potential murderer, so he just held on.
Ye Qi was very familiar with this sensation and went to the broken temple to scavenge some wild grasses to satisfy his hunger.
The next day, Ren Yuan, Aunt Qing and the children didn’t behave abnormally.
The Shao Ye duo ate the chocolate in the supply pack and drank half a bottle of mineral water.
The hunger was so strong that it couldn’t be ignored. Their stomach was empty and the strong peristalsis of their gastrointestinal tract seemed to be clamoring for the owner to feed it food. Shao Qingge was a rich second generation and had been pampered since childhood. He could afford to eat anything he wanted at any time. This was the first time he experienced the feeling of hunger.
He finally understood how the common people suffered during the famine. In the midst of extreme hunger, human nature started to distort. The phenomenon of human cannibalism sounded terrible but it was really chaotic in those times.
He had only been hungry for two days and it was already unbearable. How hard would it be for the poor people who had no food? He was afraid they really had to eat soil and leaves.
Shao Qingge was in a complicated mood as he thought of the bodies scattered on the road.
On the third day, Shao Qingge ate the last pack of instant noodles. There was no hot water to cook the noodles so he ate it dry.
On this day, still nothing happened. Ren Yuan and Zhou Yun were taking care of the sick Qi Ran. On Ye Qi’s side, Aunt Qing was trying to get food for the two children.
On the fourth day, the supplies from the supply card had been eaten up and they had to find something to eat.
Shao Qingge walked around. There were really no leaves or grasses near Qingfeng Town. He was so hungry that he could barely walk. Ye Qi felt his thoughts through their connection and suddenly had an idea. “Why don’t you go to the Peach Blossom Spring? There are the peach blossom trees and the river. You can eat something to fill your hunger.”
Shao Qingge had given Ye Qi one Tao Yuanming card and kept one for himself.
Hearing this, both of them opened the Peach Blossom Spring and entered the independent space.
They drank the river water and ate the peach blossoms.
Xiao Lou’s Peach Blossom Spring had always been used for team teleportation. Shao Qingge never thought that one day, he would come here and eat the petals to satisfy his hunger…
Ye Qi smiled bitterly. “How would Professor Xiao react if he knew we used his Peach Blossom Spring like this?”
“Don’t care about these details as long as we can survive. This is our secret.”
Ye Qi agreed. “Yes, I won’t tell anyone that Chief Shao ate a lot of peach blossoms.”
Shao Qingge, “……”
The two of them were far apart but chatting attentively. Ye Qi might be very hungry this time but Shao Qingge was with him. This was much better than when he faced the 3 of Spades Nightmare Room alone.
He just thought about this when he heard Shao Qingge’s voice in his mind. “There is movement.”
Ye Qi immediately cheered up. “What happened?”
“Qi Ran’s fever has subsided and most of his illness is cured. He took advantage of the sleeping Ren Yuan and Zhou Xiaoyun to sneak out alone. He is sitting in the corner and reading a very strange book in the moonlight.”
Ye Qi was stunned. “A book? Could it be something related to the sorcery?”
Shao Qingge answered, “There are some strange spells drawn in it. I can’t understand it but this book is definitely not simple.”
Ye Qi nodded. “This child isn’t simple either.”
Partially proofread: Paranoid Kitten