The Plough – Chapter 14

Meow!
Looking out of the window from where they were standing was a view of some lower-rise buildings and the street entrance of those buildings.

Amongst those included the two places which had burnt down.

It was possible to see who was going in and out of Xiaoji Noodle Shop from where they were standing. It was actually as clear as day who was going in and out of the noodle shop.

“A hypothesis.”

“Hong Xiaoguang is a Chai Bai Dang, who tried to seduce Du Yunning for the Yuan family fortune. After Du Yunning discovered his real motives, the two of them fell out and Hong Xiaoguang flew into a fit of rage and accidentally killed Du Yunning. This all makes some sense.”

“This also explains why he lives here, why he is dressed in a western style suit, tie and wears glasses and can discuss poetry with Du Yunning. All of this was used to gain her trust and is also in line with the usual behaviour of a Chai Bai Dang.”

“Since he had a relationship with Du Yunning, he knew of your existence. And he also lives here so he could see you coming in and out of Xiaoji Noodle Shop so after he accidentally killed Du Yunning, he thought might as well kill two birds with one stone. He killed the Noodle Shop owner as well, destroying your alibi and framing you as the murderer.”

Ling Shu’s eyebrows were twitching more and more nervously, it was a while after Yue Dingtang spoke before he replied.

“That’s not right, your theory has some gaps. I’ve investigated quite a few Chai Bai Dang cases. Usually these Chai Bai Dang are only interested in swindling the ladies out of their wealth and sleeping with them. After things fall through and they are discovered, the first thing they’d do is make a run for it. They wouldn’t stick around and not kill another person in order to frame me. Because their identities are fake, everytime they swindle someone, they change to a new name and a new background story, and that’s the safest method for them.”

“He even left Du Yunning’s bedroom without taking any of her belongings and quickly came here instead to kill the Noodle Shop owner and frame me, this doesn’t really add up.”

“Perhaps, we are looking at it from the wrong way from the beginning.”

Yue Dingtang nodded.

“So second hypothesis.”

“This Hong Xiaoguang wasn’t after the Yuan family’s wealth, but it was for Du Yunning herself, but he purposely misled us.”

“Let’s compare the timeline of when he met Du Yunning and when you reunited with Du Yunning again. He was first and you were second. Which means, after Du Yunning met him, she decided to contact you again.”

Ling Shu: “Are you saying that perhaps Du Yunning was inspired to look for me again because of him?”

Yue Dingtang: “That’s right, this Hong Xiaoguang is not a simple character. There must have been something that he wanted from Du Yunning, just based on her beauty, I don’t think this was enough to satisfy his appetite. Or even, behind him, there are perhaps others, if they didn’t want money and they didn’t want Du Yunning herself, then what could it be?”

The Du family had long lost their wealth and plus, she had cut ties with them, even if someone wanted to go after the Du family they would not go through Du Yunning;

Although Yuan Bingdao was a powerful man back in the day. His son, Yuan Bing turned out to be useless – he has nothing of value worth framing someone for.

Unless —

“Did Yuan Bingdao leave something back then? Or does the Yuan family have something else of value?”

Yue Dingtang looked pensive.

“Yuan Bing is a very heavy opium user. He’s out of it most of the time, the day that Du Yunning died he wasn’t at home so we never really questioned him much in detail. Perhaps we could try to investigate down this road.”

Ling Shu: “It’s already too late now, let’s pick it up tomorrow? I need to hurry home,otherwise my sister will be very worried. If I don’t go home on Lunar New Year and she learns of Du Yunning’s death from the papers, she’ll start imagining all sorts.”

Yue Dingtang flipped up his wrist to see the time.

“Ok, we’ll meet tomorrow morning at 8am. I’ll send the driver to pick you up. It’s a place you’re familiar with, Louza Station. Yuan Bing has been kept in a single cell, his days are still passing by well, which means–”
He was speaking for a while and didn’t hear a word from Ling Shu, so he lifted his head to look at the other and saw that Ling Shu had his sights on something outside.

The fireworks in the distance burst into bright light from time to time, and in an instant, it suddenly brightened and dimmed. The flickering spots of light were also reflected on the side of Ling Shu’s face, making things even more mysterious.

“What are you looking at?”

He hadn’t even finished asking when he was violently pulled to the wall by the window by Ling Shu.

“Shhh,” Ling Shu whispered, “I just saw someone enter the noodle shop.”

Yue Dingtang’s eyebrows twitched.

After the death of the owner of the noodle shop, how could there be someone else?

Even if it was a thief, they wouldn’t choose to go into this kind of place to steal.

Could it be a homeless person seeking shelter from the winter cold?

Just as this idea emerged, Yue Dingtang immediately rejected it.

Who would be able to spend a night in a place that had been burnt down and was full of ash? It is better to try their luck at the welfare shelter.

If it wasn’t a thief or a homeless person, the only person who would specially run to the noodle shop, must be someone linked to the case.

The two of them flew down the stairs, they didn’t even tell the landlady and just hurriedly left the place.

Even though neither of them spoke, they both knew what the other was thinking: that is Hong Xiaoguang was extremely vigilant, and certainly would not return here, there were very few personal items in the room, the only exposed identity was the library card, but the name Hong Xiaoguang was not even known to be real or fake.

A crafty rabbit has more than one burrow, this person must have more than one stronghold.

From here to the noodle shop is very close, cross the road, pass a few houses and they were there in no time.

Next to the noodle shop were the ruins of the house where the family of three had died in the fire. On the other side there was another house that hadn’t been affected by the fire. There were only two people living here, a grandfather and grandson, who had both gone to bed early and had put out their candlelight a long time ago unlike their neighbours who were still celebrating the coming of New Year.

The surrounding area is cold and quiet, in contrast to the smoky atmosphere across the street.

The two of them separated. Yue Dingtang went to the front of the shop and Ling Shu went by the backdoor.

If that person was really Hong Xiaoguang, he’d be blocked from the front and back exits so he’d have to surrender.

The back door of the noodle shop was hidden, that would have been in order to avoid mingling with customers, it was especially used for the delivery of goods and for the owner to enter and exit, etc., regardless of size, many restaurants and cafes have such a back door.

The fire may not have started in the back, because the wooden door was not completely burned, there is still a large part left, hanging alone on the door frame. The wind was entering and escaping from the damaged wood, bringing with it the smell of burning.

Ling Shu reached out with his hand to push open the door.

*Thump!*

The remaining part of the door fell off the hinges onto the floor!

If he hadn’t reacted quickly, the door wouldn’t have fallen on the floor but onto his foot.

Without the wooden door, the darkness came from within, like a beast eager to devour him, opening its bloody mouth and waiting for him to throw himself into the trap.

Ling Shu turned on the torch that Yue Dingtang had handed to him and he started to walk inside.

He wrapped his scarf around his nose and mouth.

Using the flashlight to observe the place, the noodle shop no longer resembled how it used to look.
Ling Shu still remembered how he had sat there with Lao-Xiao, tipsy and chatting idly with him. Lao-Xiao had said to him whilst waving his arms about in the air that he wanted to grow his business in three years, after that he planned to turn it into an International Chain to let foreigners taste the culinary delicacy of Chinese cuisine。

Obviously he knew that Lao-Xiao was just shooting his mouth off but the man had no kids. He had put all of his loneliness into pursuit of his goals so he of course let him boast a little bit.

But now, wanting to hear him boasting would have been an extravagant event.

Ling Shu couldn’t hold back a sigh.

The place was empty, to the extent that his sigh reverberated into innumerable echoes as if a ghost was responding time and time again to his sigh.

His hair was standing on end!

He didn’t think that the noodle shop was that big before but now without all the furniture, it was now flat from the restaurant to the kitchen. He immediately felt the void and spaciousness.

Due to the weak light of the flashlight, he could only see a small distance in front of him, the rest was still shrouded in a pitch black darkness.

Ling Shu even had the feeling that the person who had entered the noodle shop before, was now hiding somewhere in there, watching his every move.

He did his best to lighten his footsteps and regulate his breathing.

But a whimper came just as before from all directions.

That was the noise of the whistling winter wind, piercing through the holes in his scarf to neck, ferociously attacking his skin.

There are old folktales that innocents who die a violent death cannot be reincarnated, their spirit is trapped in the place where they died, looking for a body double, waiting for an opportunity to vent their resentment.

Ling Shu couldn’t be certain whether what he had seen from the window was a real person or a figment of his imagination.

Or, could it really be the unrestful soul of Lao-Xiao?

It was better not to think about it, as soon as he let his imagination roam, his hair would start standing on end.
He wasn’t sure if Yue Dingtang had entered from the front yet. Ling Shu hadn’t seen him yet, nor had he seen anyone.

Aside from the wind, all he heard was the sound of his own breathing.

Lao-Xiao, Lao-Xiao, we were friends, I’m here to find your killer. You must be able to recognise friend from foe, injustice has a head, and the debt has a debtor, don’t take it out on the wrong person!

Ling Shu was chanting again and again in his head, unexpectedly he stood on uneven debris on the floor and twisted his ankle.

There was a noise behind him, it seemed like something had brushed past!

Ling Shu could not pay attention to the pain in his foot, he twisted around violently, the flashlight followed his body swinging over!

There was nothing.

*Cling clang!*

The pot fell onto the floor.

It was coming from the front left side!

Ling Shu pounced over there.

“Meow!”

A black long tailed animal jumped out from the stove. It was so quick that Ling Shu didn’t have time to react before the cat had already fled.

So it was just a cat just then?

Ling Shu’s suspicions were not cleared, he couldn’t even breathe out a sigh of relief when there was another noise out in front.

*Bang!*

It was a gunshot!

Yue Dingtang was over there!

Ling Shu’s heart sank, he didn’t even think about it and shot towards the front entrance.

Yue Dingtang was a University Professor, even though he had been brought in as a temporary consultant for the police by Smith, there was no way that he would have a gun on him. So where did the gunshot sound come from —— then it must have been someone shooting at Yue Dingtang.

But just as he stepped away, he felt a strong gust of wind behind him aimed at the back of his head. A vicious swing!
Author Note:

Ling Shu with a blank expression on his face, picked up the cat actor: You are forbidden to act cute at the most crucial moment.

Black cat: Meow?

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