Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
There wasn’t a convenience store downstairs, so Yan Nuo had to run a little further past two intersections, about a few hundred meters before he got his wish to buy cigarettes.
As soon as he put the cigarette in his mouth and lit it, he took a deep breath and suddenly felt a lot of irritability in his heart.
Yan Nuo didn’t rush back. He simply stood outside the convenience store and finished smoking his cigarette. He pinched off the cigarette butt, clapped his hands, and prepared to go back.
At that moment, he received a call from Xiao Qi.
“Come, I have discovered something new!”
The signal over there didn’t seem to be very good as it intermittently cut in and out.
“What new discovery?” Yan Nuo’s spirit felt refreshed. “You wait there. I’m heading back!”
“It’s not in the autopsy room… It’s in… the warehouse…” The rustling signal interference on the phone cut Xiao Qi’s words into several pieces, but Yan Nuo was able to still hear the address.
He said, inexplicably, “What are you doing in the warehouse in the suburbs? I just left for a bit, and you’re already there?!”
Xiao Qi: “Zhou Dui… Notified… I’m on the way. Hurry up!”
After that, he hung up the phone. When Yan Nuo dialed again, he couldn’t get through. He called Zhou Dui, but no one answered.
Yan Nuo ran back to the autopsy room and saw that Bai Xiangmei’s body was still there, but Xiao Qi was gone.
He had to quickly run to the garage and drive out. He called Xiao Qi and Zhou Dui several times on the way, but he couldn’t get through.
He knew where the warehouse Xiao Qi mentioned was, but he hadn’t been there. There was almost no one around that place at night. What clues could Xiao Qi and Zhou Dui find there? Wouldn’t all the clues be on the body of Bai Xiangmei’s?
A lot of thoughts flashed through his mind, making it a mess. He didn’t delay his driving speed. Lucheng in the middle of the night was still beautiful. The streetlights kept passing overhead as the speed increased. Yan Nuo always felt as if he had forgotten something when it suddenly struck him, and he called Mu Duo.
“Yan Nuo?” From the tone of her voice, Mu Duo was probably asleep.
“Mu Duo, you and Dong Zhi hurry to warehouse no. 8 in Nanshan Science Park on Nanshan Road. There’s progress in our case. I’m rushing over. Xiao Qi and Zhou Dui are already there!”
“Okay. I see. We’ll be there right away.” Mu Duo was taken aback for a moment before replying quickly.
Yan Nuo originally didn’t want Dong Zhi to be involved in this case, but during the day, the kid was obviously idle and ran into a problem with some hotel. This caused Mu Duo to accompany him over there for nothing, and it turned out to be a false alarm. Yan Nuo mainly felt that there was something wrong this time and would need many people to take care of it. If it turns out to be nothing, at least he would make the kid run over and suffer a little. They were so exhausted from this case, yet this guy was sleeping comfortably in a hotel room.
He absolutely did not expect that such an idea he had on a whim would save his life soon after.
Warehouse no. 8 was far away from the autopsy room. The road conditions were good at night, so he would reach there in about forty minutes.
Nanshan Science Park was quiet. Except for the streetlights, one could only occasionally see a faint light. It was the warehouse guard who was on night duty.
Yan Nuo found a warehouse guard who hadn’t fallen asleep yet and was playing games on his phone. He first took out his ID to establish his identity, then asked him where warehouse no. 8 was. He then asked if he had seen two men coming by. The other party pointed out the direction to him and shook his head and said he hadn’t seen anyone.
The identity of the Special Administration Bureau was special, so it was not necessarily known in the system, not to mention ordinary people. In order to facilitate their activities, Yan Nuo and the others usually rely on the police to get a permit. Dong Zhi was still stuck dealing with affairs on his flight, so he didn’t have this permit with him, and his name wasn’t entered into the system at that time. In the end, it caused a huge misunderstanding.
Unable to find Xiao Qi and the others, Yan Nuo walked towards warehouse no. 8 first.
The door of the warehouse was tightly locked, and Yan Nuo walked around and found that there was a small door behind him that was concealed.
He gently pushed it away and was greeted with pitch blackness.
“Xiao Qi?” he yelled tentatively.
Someone inside replied, “I’m here!”
It was Xiao Qi’s voice.
Yan Nuo breathed a sigh of relief first, then pushed open the door further and walked in, saying, “Why don’t you turn on the lights? Is Zhou Dui here too?”
Concise, just one word. Zhou Dui didn’t make a sound either.
Yan Nuo frowned slightly and slowed down. Just as he was about to say something, the concealed door behind him closed automatically.
The bang when the door slammed shut hit Yan Nuo’s heart like a hammer.
“Xiao Qi! Zhou Dui!” He couldn’t help shouting, slowly pulling out the sword in his hand as he walked in.
The light above snapped twice and lit up one after another, like Moses parting the sea, extending from the top of his head to the other end of the warehouse. Besides this part, the rest of the area was dark.
Far away, Yan Nuo saw three people standing on the other side of the warehouse.
Zhou Dui and Xiao Qi were in front, and there was a man behind them.
The man patted Xiao Qi on the shoulder, and Xiao Qi said, “I’m here!”
He patted him again.
Xiao Qi: “I’m here!”
The tone of his voice was quiet, the same as when he was lured into the warehouse just now.
Yan Nuo’s heart sank a little bit.
He realized that he, as well as Zhou Dui and Xiao Qi, had all fallen into the man’s trap.
“Who are you?” Yan Nuo asked in a deep voice.
The other party smiled. “Aren’t you looking for me everywhere? I didn’t want to be found by you, but who knew you were in such hot pursuit? Anyways, I have to go. You three should be regarded as a parting gift to the beautiful city of Lucheng!”
Yan Nuo’s pupils shrank. He raised his sword and pointed at him from a distance.
“You’re Bai Xiangmei’s other lover!”
The man smiled and said, “That woman’s kung fu in bed is very good, but unfortunately, her physical quality is not as good as yours. Even if you extract the soul, it’s useless. Unlike you. You’re strong and a practitioner. Your soul can be used to do a lot of things.”
After that, he beckoned to Yan Nuo.
“Come here, my third gift.”
Yan Nuo suddenly had the illusion that he was on a cliff, with abysses in all directions. There was only a narrow road ahead. He had no choice but to move forward.
He gritted his teeth, clenched his sword in his hand, jumped up, and rushed towards the enemy!
When Dong Zhi was dreaming in full swing, he was awakened by a phone call from Mu Duo. He quickly got up and got dressed. With a sleepy face, he went out with Mu Duo.
“Yan Ge said something happened. Why did you suddenly run off so far?”
Until he got into the car, Dong Zhi was still rubbing his eyes, trying to get rid of his drowsiness.
While starting the car, Mu Duo briefly told him about the case and finally said, “It should be that there are new clues at the warehouse. Yan Nuo is kind. Didn’t you want to participate? Now he has given you this opportunity, so don’t show dissatisfaction later.”
Dong Zhi nodded and asked again, “Is Xiao Qi dissatisfied with me?”
Mu Duo smiled helplessly. “He’s not specifically targeting you…”
“Almost forgot! Mu Duo Jie, stop the car!” Dong Zhi spoke up unexpectedly.
As soon as Mu Duo drove a few meters, she was taken aback when he heard the words and quickly braked. “What’s the matter?”
Dong Zhi said, embarrassedly, “I forgot to bring my sword, so I will go upstairs to get it now. Wait a minute! I’ll be right back.”
He was so busy getting dressed and heading downstairs that he didn’t remember until he found that his hands were empty, and he had forgotten to bring his weapon with him.
Mu Duo didn’t want him to take the sword. Yan Nuo and the others were there, so nothing could happen, but before she could say anything, the other party had already opened the door and hurried back to the hotel. She shook her head and thought that he was truly a newcomer.
Dong Zhi wasn’t slow. It only took about ten minutes total for the roundtrip. Mu Duo guessed what Yan Nuo’s thoughts were and estimated that he would want to grind this newcomer, so she didn’t say anything. She didn’t feel anxious.
“Mu Duo Jie, what are you good at?” Dong Zhi asked.
Mu Duo smiled. “Guess?”
Dong Zhi glanced at her. Her appearance was bright, and she was dressed normally. If he hadn’t known her identity, he would not have associated her with being a practitioner.
“I can’t guess.” Dong Zhi shook his head.
Mu Duo smiled and said, “I am from Hunan.”
The other party couldn’t answer the question. Dong Zhi was a little confused, and he hadn’t registered the hint yet. “Do you like spicy food?”
As soon as he finished speaking, he finally came to a realization. “You’re a Miao woman? A poison user?”
Mu Duo didn’t answer and asked rhetorically, “Have you heard of Xianxi Chasing Corpse*?”
*(湘西赶尸) Part of witch culture is also known as moving spirits. It’s a technique corpse guides (see footnote below) use to lead corpses.
Dong Zhi let out a sigh and suddenly remembered a very old profession. “Are you a corpse guide*?”
*(赶尸人) A robe-clad mage that leads corpses to walk with special sorcery.
Mu Duo nodded.
This was a very special occupation. In ancient times, when merchants who did business outside get sick and died in a place far from home, they would ask for help to bringing the corpse back to their hometown for burial in accordance with the custom of returning to one’s roots. At that time, cremation was regarded as taboo, and some had died thousands of miles away from home. The industry of corpse guide came into being. Among them, the corpse guide in Western Hunan were the most famous. They would go out day and night. As long as there was business to be done, they would definitely be able to bring those people back to their hometown. As for how the dead was guided, there are various theories about these secrets, but only a corpse guide would truly know.
Today, there were no longer a demand for corpse guides, so the profession had gradually declined. Now there were very few who knew about this technique, and Mu Duo was the only one that remained.
Except for immortals who could really feed on the wind and drink the drew*? Although corpse guides were practitioners, they also had families to support. Therefore, contrary to the tradition of previous generations of living in seclusion in the countryside, Mu Duo resolutely joined the Special Administration Bureau and became a member of the national practitioners.
*(餐风饮露) Metaphor referring to enduring hardships of an arduous journey.
However, in a place full of hidden talents, although her abilities were rare, she wasn’t particularly outstanding, so she was assigned to Lucheng and didn’t advance much on the ladder.
The two came to the entrance of Nanshan Science Park, which Yan Nuo told them about. Mu Duo called Yan Nuo and the others again, but couldn’t get through, so they decided to head towards warehouse no. 8.
Mu Duo pushed on the gate that was the entrance to loading and unloading goods and found it motionless.
The two walked around the warehouse, and like Yan Nuo before, they also found a small door in the back.
Dong Zhi pushed it for a bit and found that it could be open. He signaled Mu Duo over, and the two quietly went in.
The warehouse was large, and the lights were on in a straight line, so it wasn’t completely dark, but a large portion of the warehouse on either side of the light was shrouded in darkness.
“Yan Nuo? Xiao Qi?” Mu Duo shouted.
No one responded.
“I’ll look over here. You look over there,” she said to Dong Zhi.
“Mu Duo Jie, I’d better go with you.” Dong Zhi followed her.
Mu Duo felt a little helpless and thought that Yan Nuo was right. This newcomer’s courage was too small. Could he really be counted on for anything?
The two of them walked to the left side when Dong Zhi suddenly grabbed her.
Mu Duo had begun to get impatient. “What’s the matter?”
Dong Zhi said, “Look at the back of the container on the right. Isn’t that a figure?”
Mu Duo looked in the direction he was pointing.
In the shadow behind the container, where a faint light could not be seen, two figures were falling to the ground.
Mu Duo walked over with Dong Zhi.
“Zhou Dui! Xiao Qi!” Mu Duo was taken aback and hurriedly bent over to push them. With just a push, Zhou Dui tilted directly to the ground.
Mu Duo noticed something was wrong and reached out to capture the other party’s pulse.
“How is he?” Dong Zhi probed.
“Dead.” Mu Duo felt cold all over. She hurriedly checked on Xiao Qi. “He still has a heartbeat! It’s very weak. Come on. Help me help him up from the ground and lie him flat!”
As soon as the voice fell, she felt a cool breeze blowing from the back of her head. A shadow covered the top of her head. The sense of danger rose subconsciously, causing Mu Duo to suddenly turn her head abruptly. A familiar face came into view, but it was followed by a glimmer of light from the blade of a sword in the opponent’s hand.
Mu Duo’s eyes widened.
In a blink of an eye, she only had enough time to blink, and knew it was too late to dodge the attack.
What made it even more unacceptable was that the person who wanted to kill her was her former companion.
Another glimmer of light from a sword’s blade flashed across her line of sight.
Dong Zhi parried Yan Nuo’s sword and shouted, “Yan Ge, what’s wrong with you? Wake up!”
Yan Nuo, of course, ignored his pleas. His eyes were flushed, and he stared at Dong Zhi as if this was the person that killed his father. His offensive from his hands rained down like a storm. Dong Zhi was busy parrying and couldn’t be distracted from observing his surroundings, so he shouted, “Mu Duo, pay attention to the surroundings. Don’t fall into their trap!”
Without his reminder, Mu Duo had already come to the realization that Yan Nuo and Zhou Dui had been lured into a trap. Those who could bring these two people together in succession were certainly not ordinary. They may be more powerful than everyone present. Even Yan Nuo was being controlled, leaving only her and Dong Zhi left. Could they turn the tide?
Without a second thought, Mu Duo reached into her pocket and pulled out a bell. The bell was slightly larger than her palm and it was covered with lines, which was different from the bell Xiao Qi had seen in the autopsy room.
She shook it and the bell made a heavy sound, like an ancient bell that wasn’t as crisp as an ordinary bell.
Mu Duo rattled the bell slowly and gradually increased the speed. She slowly turned around in place, staring at her surroundings. Suddenly, a container fell from above her head!
Mu Duo reacted quickly. She dodged and looked up.
“Behind!” There was a sudden shout from Dong Zhi.
Mu Duo’s body tensed up and almost formed a conditioned response. She hurriedly turned around and threw a long strip of something with her other hand, throttling it towards the unexpected guest. A closer look turned out to be a long strip of royal blue cloth.
The cloth strip was much softer than a whip, but in Mu Duo’s hand, it was like a spirit snake that could be long or short, soft or hard, at will.
With a shake, Mu Duo’s wrist vibrated, and one end of the cloth immediately rolled towards the opponent’s neck. The other party stretched out his hand and grabbed it firmly. For a moment, the hand at the other end of the cloth strip turned into a poisonous snake. The bloody mouth opened and swallowed the cloth stirp inch by inch. Mu Duo was taken back and hurriedly pulled the cloth back, but the poisonous snake was so powerful that she couldn’t pull it back at all. The man behind the poisonous snake sneered. He held a short dagger in his hand and stabbed her right in the center between her eyebrows.
Meanwhile, Dong Zhi and Yan Nuo confronted each other with their swords, like two evenly matched opponents.
However, Dong Zhi had only practiced swordsmanship for half a month. In terms of proficiency and skill, he wasn’t Yan Nuo’s opponent. More importantly, he had no murderous intent towards his companion. With Yan Nuo’s mind being controlled at this time, his eyes were flushed, and his expression was hideous. When he attacked, every move was meant to kill. He had lost his usual sanity and each contact with Dong Zhi only made him fiercer.
Long Shen’s teachings were still ringing in his ears. Dong Zhi quickly settled down and pinched a talisman in his other hand. He let go of the sword and, using the momentum, threw the talisman towards Yan Nuo.
Once the fluttering talisman touched Yan Nuo’s forehead, it did not fall, and it caused Yan Nuo’s body to pause slightly. Dong Zhi took this opportunity to remove his sword and directly raised his foot to his heart and kicked the person back, causing him to crash heavily into various boxes.
Yan Nuo didn’t treat him very well before. Dong Zhi could regard this kick as “avenging personal grievances”. After the kick, he felt more refreshed, but this thought quickly flashed away. He hurriedly ran forward, took out another sunlight talisman and pinched it on Yan Nuo’s chin, then stuffed another talisman into his mouth. He then picked up some rope that fell off the shelf just now and bound Yan Nuo’s hands and feet together, just in case he would wake up again and cause trouble.
Before this was finished, there was some noise at the other end where Mu Duo was. Dong Zhi didn’t care about anything else. He quickly picked up his sword to break the siege.
In front of the man, a poisonous snake that was about one person tall was hissing.
In order to resist the man’s attack, Mu Duo had to withdraw the cloth strip and watch as her weapon turned into food in the snake’s mouth.
The scales of the poisonous snake were colorful, giving them a tarry look. However, Dong Zhi had also seen a three-headed giant python and stabbed its chrysanthemum, so this poisonous snake was like child’s play to him.
He thought about the identity of the man who was controlling this poisonous snake.
The man showed a playful smile, and he was quite generous and admitted it.
“Kiyoshi Yamamoto. Pleasure to meet you.”
Dong Zhi: “What’s your relationship with Fujikawa Aoi?”
The man raised his eyebrows. “Do you know my martial older brother?”
It was truly a narrow road between enemies. Dong Zhi couldn’t help but secretly roll his eyes. “You immigrated here? Does Japan not have enough land to accommodate you? Do you have to come all the way here to cause trouble?”
The man smiled and said, “It seems that you have already dealt with my martial older brother. I heard that in the end, the Japanese government agreed on many conditions in exchange for him and promised not to let him or his disciples come to China for at least 50 years. But don’t worry. I’m not the same as him. If I were him, I would have committed seppuku*. How could I still have the face to live with such shame?”
*Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment.
Dong Zhi frowned. “Then when you’re defeated by me, don’t forget what you said just now and commit seppuku immediately. Don’t lose face in front of the world.”
The man laughed. “I just watched you play against him. It wasn’t too long ago that you just learned swordsmanship, right? Child, it’s not good to talk big. Doesn’t the Chinese have a saying, be careful that the wind flashes your tongue*.”
*(风大闪了舌头) Refers to paying attention when you speak and not saying unrealistic or big words.
Mu Duo gasped and said sharply, “You killed Zhou Dui and Xiao Qi?! The blood of Bai Xiangmei and Huang Wendong’s family is also on your hands! Why are you doing this?!”
The man had a Kimura Takuya hairstyle. He had a beard on his chin and a bit of a blurred temperament. At first glance, you would think he was a street artist. The bad smile on his face could attract many women. However, after knowing he was the mastermind behind the deaths of the Huang family and their companions, in the eyes of Mu Duo and Dong Zhi, all external modifications were just a cover up for the ferocious beast in his heart.
Yamamoto Kiyoshi’s demeanor was very relaxed, which made them even more vigilant. It stood to reason that the enemy had made many pitfalls for them. They didn’t know what traps the other party had laid here. It should be them, not Yamamoto, who wanted to delay time, but the other party didn’t seem to be in a hurry to make a move as he patiently explained sequences of events to them.