Chapter 504 – Passing on the Clues
The book that Qi Ran was reading made Shao Qingge very puzzled. He didn’t know any of the characters in it and it seemed to contain strange spells. The little boy held the book and read it very seriously. Shao Qingge hid in the shadows and didn’t go out to disturb him.
After a moment, the boy seemed to hear something. He quickly buried the book under the tree and asked in a low voice, “Who is it?!”
Shao Qingge thought he was discovered and was thinking of leaving when he saw Zhou Xiaoyun sneaking out of the hole. “Brother Ran, it’s me…”
Qi Ran seemed relieved and his tone noticeably relaxed. “What are you doing out here?”
Zhou Xiaoyun’s face was pale and she trembled. “I had a nightmare. I dreamed I was caught by them, thrown into a pot and boiled to be eaten…”
Qi Ran frowned. He walked over to her and gently patted the girl’s shoulder. “It is just a nightmare. Don’t be afraid. Uncle Ren and I are here. We will protect you.”
The girl nodded and returned to the cellar with him.
Shao Qingge waited for them to leave before walking to the tree. He dug out the book that Qi Ran had buried and read it carefully. Shao Qingge might not be able to understand these ghost-like spells but he could roughly guess the meaning of some sketches of the human body.
Several of the pages depicted images of ‘marionettes’.
Ye Qi asked, “How is it? What is this book about?”
Shao Qingge answered, “It should be related to the magic that deceives the mind. I don’t know where this Qi Ran got the book from. Could it be that his parents had a special status and passed it onto him before they died?”
“It is possible. Qi Ran should be an outsider and not a native of Qingfeng Town. I remember that there was no family with the surname Qi in Qingfeng Town. Perhaps his parents happened to die here, leaving him an orphan until he was saved by Grandma Sun.”
Shao Qingge copied the pages of the book depicting the marionettes and put away the book in its original state. He covered it with soil and stood up. “Is there any situation on your side?”
Ye Qi wanted to say ‘no’ when suddenly, a few strong men broke into the temple where Aunt Qing was staying.
They had long knives in their hands. The knives were bloody and they obviously weren’t easy to mess with. The leader, a man with a scar, said coldly, “This is our territory. Get out of here immediately if you don’t want to die!”
Aunt Qing saw that the other side had many people and immediately left with Qin Feng and Han Ningshuang.
Ye Qi followed them while speaking in his mind, “Yuezhou isn’t safe. A group of robbers suddenly broke into the ruined temple. Aunt Qing escaped with the two children and I am following them… ah…”
There was a short cry in his head.
Shao Qingge’s expression changed and he immediately asked, “What’s wrong?”
Ye Qi was trapped by a huge net that fell from the sky.
Ye Qi looked at the group of black-clothed people in front of him and quickly calmed down. He smiled and asked, ”Brothers, what is this for?”
Scarface narrowed his eyes and said, “I told you that this is my territory yet you are still lurking in the trees. It just so happens that you fell into the net and my brothers are hungry. We will catch you to relieve our hunger.” He waved to his companions next to him. The group of people immediately gathered around, the knives in their hands shining coldly in the moonlight.
Ye Qi’s entire body was bound by the iron net and he couldn’t use the instrument cards like the guqin, guzheng or flute.
The eyes of this group of people were red as they surrounded Ye Qi while drooling like wild beasts finally seeing delicious food. Their bloodthirsty and crazy eyes made Ye Qi feel a chill in his heart.
He really got goosebumps when being looked at like he was food!
Shao Qingge noticed Ye Qi’s nervousness in his mind and couldn’t help being anxious. “I will open the Peach Blossom Spring to pull you over.”
“No, I can handle it…”
The next moment, Ye Qi simply used the Bug King card.
His instrument cards couldn’t be used but the bug king’s transformation could be activated at any time.
The group of people saw the trapped teenager’s eyes suddenly light up. The originally dark and clear eyes turned a blood red color. The young man’s red eyes swept around and sharp nails suddenly grew from his outstretched hands. These nails were like knives and actually tore at the metal net that trapped him!
The group of people were frightened by the young man’s sudden transformation and stepped back.
Ye Qi had turned into the bug king but his consciousness was still clear. He knew that he and Shao Qingge had only come to this world to investigate the case and it was best not to do anything that would affect the outcome of this world. Therefore, after Ye Qi transformed, he didn’t try to fight. He jumped and stepped directly on the shoulder of a strong man in front of him before quickly climbing on a nearby tree.
They saw the young man climbing and jumping on the trees, his body so light that he was like a bird in the forest, disappearing in the blink of an eye. The group of people were stunned in place. A long time passed before the man in the lead shook his head violently and said in a low voice, “Is this person a monster? How did his eyes suddenly become the color of blood?”
The brothers next to him finally reacted and said in a trembling voice, “I-I was scared to death!”
The corners of Scarface’s mouth twitched. “Don’t pay attention to him. Go and see if there is anything to eat nearby.”
Ye Qi had been intercepted by them so he lost Aunt Qing’s group. He could only use the bug’s 500 meter radius to search for them. Shao Qingge sensed that Ye Qi’s crisis was over so he asked in a relieved voice, “Are you okay?”
Ye Qi laughed. “I’m fine. The bug king is too awesome and these miscellaneous fish aren’t my opponents at all.”
“You should still be careful…”
As he was speaking, a fire suddenly appeared in Ye Qi’s field of view.
The biggest weakness of the bugs was a fear of fire. The instinctive fear made Ye Qi instantly stop. He stared at the raging fire in front of him and couldn’t help his heart tightening. “Someone set a fire in Yuezhou. The whole city is burning and the whereabouts of Aunt Qing’s group is unknown. I…”
Before he could finish speaking, Shao Qingge immediately interrupted him, “Retreat now!”
Ye Qi frowed. “However, I haven’t found the whereabouts of Aunt Qing, Han Ningshuang and Qin Feng. Isn’t this losing a clue?”
“Do you still want to break through the fire?”
Ye Qi, “……”
Shao Qingge’s voice was rarely this serious. “Ye Qi, don’t take risks.” He paused before adding in a low voice, “Don’t worry about this. Just withdraw, okay?”
Breaking into the field of fire was indeed an act of ‘seeking death’. Ye Qi looked at the monstrous fire in front of him and had to reluctantly say, “Okay, I will hide in the distance for a while and try to find these three people after the fire is extinguished. I don’t know how it suddenly caught on fire…”
Shao Qingge said softly, “Hide away. It isn’t too late to find the cause of the fire tomorrow.”
There was a fierce wind and the fire swept in. Ye Qi’s eyebrows were almost burned and he hurriedly took dozens of steps back. He moved far away from Yuezhou while hearing screams from the city. Many people on fire fled everywhere. Their bodies were scorched and gradually turned into a mass of black charcoal. The air was full of the smell of human flesh being roasted.
Ye Qi hid on a tree in the distance and watched this scene in horror.
He didn’t know if Aunt Qing and the two children could survive in this fire.
The fire burned for several hours before it snowed in the middle of the night. The fire gradually became smaller and was completely extinguished when it was dawn. Ye Qi hurriedly entered Yuezhou. The streets were full of burned houses as well as the bones of those who had burned to death. There were no traces of Aunt Qing’s group of three.
Ye Qi wandered around Yuezhou for a while. Just as he thought that Aunt Qing’s group was probably far away from Yuezhou, he suddenly heard a whimper coming from the bug. It was Han Ningshuang.
Ye Qi followed the direction where the sound came from.
He saw Han Ningshuang, who had half her hair burned, kneeling in the corner of an alley. She was holding the body of a woman and crying so hard that she was almost out of breath—that woman was Aunt Qing.
Aunt Qing’s face was covered in blood. It seemed that something had smashed into her head. Judging from Han Ningshuang’s reaction, Aunt Qing might’ve been accidentally killed by a falling object in the fire in order to save the child’s life.
Qin Feng had long disappeared but a shoe had fallen beside Han Ningshuang. Ye Qi remembered that he had placed the bug in the shoe. Qin Feng accidentally dropped the shoe so it would be hard for Ye Qi to track his whereabouts.
Shao Qingge felt Ye Qi’s mood change and couldn’t help comforting him. “There was a famine 20 years ago and chaos everywhere. It isn’t your fault that you lost the clue so don’t blame yourself too much.”
Ye Qi smiled bitterly. “Aunt Qing is dead and Qin Feng and Han Ningshuang are separated. Han Ningshuang is holding Aunt Qing’s body and crying. Alas… these children are too ill-fated. We came from 20 years later and know that Qin Feng is still alive but looking at Han Ningshuang’s reaction, she obviously thinks that Qin Feng has been burned to death. There is the charred corpse of a little boy next to Qin Feng’s shoe.”
Shao Qingge was silent for a moment before saying, “Han Ningshuang and Qin Feng were separated in this fire in Yuezhou. Qin Feng must’ve been adopted by kindhearted people. It can be seen that he is very talented and learned as an adult. As for Han Ningshuang, how did she survive alone?”
Ye Qi said, “I will continue to follow her.”
After the fire, Yuezhou was in disarray. There was a famine and combined with this fire, countless residents were injured or killed. Han Ningshuang carried Aunt Qing’s body and Qin Feng’s shoe outside the city. She dug a pit and buried them. She knelt in front of the mount and kowtowed before wiping away her tears. Then she limped to find the group that had chased them away from the temple just now.
Scarface saw the little girl returning and couldn’t help wondering, “This little girl is brave enough. Why did you come back?”
Her hair might be half burned off and her face was dirty but this little girl’s eyes were exceptionally clear and bright. She looked at the other person and said seriously, “Uncle, as long as you don’t kill me and give me a bite to eat, I am willing to work for you. I can wash clothes and cook. In addition, I can make kites, beautiful kites.”
Scarface met her eyes and was stunned for a moment. Then he smiled. “Kites can’t be eaten. What is the use of making kites?”
The little girl thought about it for a moment. “You can take it and sell it for money.”
The group of people around her were amused by her naive words. Some people started speaking sarcastically. “What is the use of money when you don’t have enough to eat?”
”Who cares about money these days?”
”Giving me a chicken to eat is much better than 10 silver!”
Han Ningshuang told them seriously, “Once the famine has passed, money will be useful. I can make hundreds of kites a day and the money from the sales will be given to Uncle.”
There was a sudden silence in the temple before Scarface smiled and waved to Han Ningshuang. “Come here.”
Han Ningshuang walked over obediently and the man rubbed her head. “This little girl is quite interesting. You can follow me and be my apprentice in the future. You can’t eat much as a child. We can always give you a mouthful of soup when we eat.”
Han Ningshuang immediately knelt down and kowtowed a few times. “Thank you, Master!”
After dawn, this group of bandits left Yuezhou with Han Ningshuang. They burned and looted all the way, grabbing a lot of food. Unexpectedly, Han Ningshuang would actually be accepted as the apprentice of the bandit leader.
Ye Qi said, “Han Ningshuang’s fate should be to follow this group to survive. These bandits don’t know how to bewitch souls. They are just reckless men who use knives to scare others. If she has been following this group of people, it is impossible for her to learn the magic from other channels. Han Ningshuang shouldn’t be the direct murderer in Qingfeng Town’s ghost killing case.”
Shao Qingge pondered on it. “It seems Qi Ran is still the most suspicious.”
Ye Qi had a headache. “The murderer only started committing the crime 17 years later. We can’t follow them for 17 years. Based on the current clues, do you think the accuracy rate when guessing the murderer is high?”
Shao Qingge laughed. “I’m not like Xiao Lou or Yu Hanjiang who need 100% accuracy. It is normal to make a profit or loss in business. Investment has risks and reasoning also has the risk of guessing wrong. Weighing the risks and choosing the one that is most beneficial is my principle.”
Ye Qi listened to it and understood his meaning. In other words, it didn’t matter if it was right or wrong. Just choose the method that was most beneficial. Currently, they had no food in their hands and were starving everyday. They couldn’t affect this world so as to not cause changes in the future plot and they couldn’t track Han Ningshuang and Qi Ran for 17 years to get the correct answer.
Ye Qi asked curiously, “What do you want to do?”
“Sometimes you have to rely on cheating to answer multiple choice questions in an exam. We might as well bet once. We have to choose one out of Qi Ran, Han Ningshuang and Zhou Xiaoyun. Currently, Han Ningshuang’s suspicion is greatly reduced and Zhou Xiaoyun doesn’t look like that type of scheming person. I think Qi Ran is most likely the murderer. There is his book, his attitude toward the death of his grandmother, the characteristic of a severed finger and the scars left on his face after the chickenpox is cured. Combine all of this and it seems like a man who will be psychologically distorted and take revenge when he grows up.”
There were four options: A, B, C and D. Option D, Qin Feng was temporarily excluded by Xiao Lou. Out of the remaining A, B and C options, the B and C girls didn’t seem like it. Then option A was indeed the most likely answer.
It was as Shao Qingge said. If there were multiple choice questions in the exam and they weren’t 100% certain, they sometimes had to gamble.
Ye Qi agreed. “I also think Qi Ran is more likely. However, how do we leave these clues for Professor Xiao?”
Shao Qingge asked, “Is there anything that can be preserved for 20 years and won’t be damaged?”
Ye Qi scratched his head. “Something that can be preserved for 20 years? In modern times, it must be data in a USB but we are currently in ancient times. Something that won’t be destroyed in 20 years… I can’t think of anything for the moment.”
Shao Qingge said with a smile, “Silver.”
Ye Qi, “……”
It was too normal for rich people to think of money first.
Partially proofread: Paranoid Kitten