Once we left the morgue, I asked Officer Liang, “You told me over the phone that you found something important. What is it? Could you tell me?”
“Follow me,” Officer Liang waved his hand, taking me to his office where he handed me a yellow file.
The file had the photos and profiles of the six bank robbers. Captain Liang told me that the policemen of the Criminal Police force had investigated and figured out that these six men were migrant workers that were hired at a construction site.
The foreman of said construction site told them that the six robbers had sworn to be brothers when they introduced themselves, and their friendship was apparently really good. However, honesty was not their strong suit; they were fired after they were caught stealing steel materials at the construction site at night time. They ended up becoming a bunch of thugs that roamed around, robbing and stealing. They got used to being arrested on a regular basis. All in all, they were just a group of unemployed vagrants.
Captain Liang pointed at one of the photos. “This was the leader of the gang, Cheng Xiaohu. He had an older brother called Cheng Dalong, and the two didn’t get along well. That’s why Cheng Xiaohu rarely went home.
“Cheng Dalong lives in a small village not far from here. Several years ago, he got very sick, but his family didn’t have the means to cover his medical fees. Then, all of a sudden, he made a fortune and his sickness was cured. People in the village said that one year ago, there was a strange man with two kids who visited him. They also stayed for quite a long time. That’s why I suspect Cheng Dalong.”
I handed back the file to Captain Liang, asking, “Then, how will you justify the arrest?”
“I’ve requested a search warrant based on suspicion of murder. I think he murdered those six gangsters,” replied Captain Liang.
“But he still has that otherworldly item. If you are this direct, he will risk his life to fight you. If worse comes to worst, everyone will die,” I said anxiously.
That’s right. This is why I want you to come with me.” Captain Liang smiled. “We shouldn’t waste any time. Let’s leave tonight!”
“All right.” I nodded, suddenly recalling something. “Captain Liang, is there any grudge between Cheng Dalong and you?”
“Why are you asking this?” Captain Liang squinted, looking more vigilant. Although it only was a brief change on his face, I was quick enough to notice.
He then chuckled. “I understand. Are you suspecting that this person sneaked into the police station at midnight to harm me? Well, I am the Captain of the Criminal Police force, and I’ve surely offended a lot of people. It’s not strange that someone’s holding a grudge against me.”
I felt that he wasn’t telling me the truth. However, it wasn’t the right time to ask more. I would need to consider the situation as we progressed.
Right at this moment, we heard some noise outside, so we went to the corridor to check. Two policemen had stopped Li Mazi, preventing him from entering the building. Li Mazi was holding two inflatable dolls under his arms, a snakeskin bag with his left hand, while his right hand was pulling a big rooster. The officers didn’t allow him in since he looked really suspicious.
Yin Xinyue was also with him.
Captain Liang hurried to rescue Li Mazi.
“Yin Xinyue, why are you here?” I asked her.
Yin Xinyue pouted her lips. “I went to the shop as soon as I clocked off and saw that it was closed, so I called Li Mazi. It turned out that you were at the police station... Do you think I’m a burden to you?”
Yin Xinyue stuck her tongue out, her fingers pinching the skin on my arm.
“I didn’t want you to be in danger,” I explained.
“I’m not a kid. I can protect myself.” Yin Xinyue smiled.
Li Mazi dropped the things he was carrying and wiped his forehead. “Little Brother Zhang, next time, you should buy these things yourself! Even a traffic cop stopped me on my way here. He thought I was a deviant the moment he saw me with this stuff, so he lectured me for a long time before he let me go!”
“We have to use these things tonight?” asked Captain Liang.
I nodded and opened the bag to check. Two sets of official uniforms—Qing dynasty style—hemp rope, bone powder, and eels. He had managed to gather everything, so I quickly complimented Li Mazi for it.
“What’s this for?” Yin Xinyue pointed at the inflatable dolls, trying to hold her laughter.
“You’ll know soon,” I said mysteriously.
“Do you want some policemen to come with us?”
“No, the chances of being discovered would only increase with more people. It would be more dangerous that way; the four of us are enough.”
The three of us got in a car while Captain Liang drove his own. After half an hour, we arrived at Cheng Dalong’s village.
The sun had yet to set. Several idlers were sitting at the village entrance, smoking and chatting; they became curious when they saw two cars arrive. Captain Liang approached them, casually attempting to find some information about Cheng Dalong’s whereabouts. He was wearing civilian clothing at this time.
“What do you want to see Dalong for?” said one of the men, his greedy eyes staring at Yin Xinyue. To move easier, Yin Xinyue had chosen to wear a pair of shorts and a loose, pink T-shirt, which accentuated her hot figure.
She didn’t feel uncomfortable since she had gotten used to people’s stares. But I wasn’t pleased with this.
“I am…” Captain Liang didn’t know what he should say. Li Mazi quickly offered them some cigarettes, smiling brightly. “I’m from a real estate company. They are my clients. Mr. Cheng said that he had a house he wanted to sell. We’re here to take a look at his house.”
“Oh, that damn Chen Dalong! I wonder where he made such a fortune. Now, he’s about to move to the city, and who knows if he’ll give something to his neighbors,” the idler said as he spat on the ground. He pointed in a direction. “See that house? Cheng Dalong’s house is the most conspicuous house in this village.”
He then added more information, “Cheng Dalong used to breed pigs in his house and earned money with them around the village. However, he doesn’t do anything lately; he only stays at home doing who knows what. Whatever it is, he earns a lot of money.”
We thanked that man and drove to the area near Cheng Dalong’s house. This village was quite poor. We saw shabby brick houses along the way and paddy fields full of weeds. Only Cheng Dalong’s house was bright with light. We even heard disco music coming from the inside.
Li Mazi said, “This fellow sure has an easy life. I wonder if he’s using the otherworldly item to make a fortune.”
Captain Liang rolled his window down and asked, “Should we go inside?”
“Just park nearby. We have to prepare something first.”
After that, we packed our cars in a piece of land rife with tall grass. After checking around and confirming that no one else was there, Li Mazi and I took the stuff out of the car.
I inflated the two dolls and tied them to a tree branch so that they stood firmly in the field. I then used eel blood to write Ao Bai and his son’s names on the dolls. Afterward, I dressed them in the Qing dynasty’s official clothes.
In the end, I pricked the rooster’s comb and soaked several cotton balls with the blood. I gave the cotton to the others and told them to use it to plug their ears.
Rooster blood had the strongest Yang energy amongst all animals. It would be able to fend off the Courtier Drum’s effect. I asked them not to answer if someone called their names later.
Yin Xinyue couldn’t set her mind at ease. “Are we going to meet some ghosts tonight?”
“No, we are not.” Then, I gave her the hemp rope, which also had rooster blood on it. “You should stay here. Just wait until the inflatable dolls are possessed. You have to tie them with this hemp rope. The tighter the better.”
“And you said we wouldn’t see ghosts tonight!” Yin Xinyue was scared.
“They are two good ghosts, I promise!” I smiled.
First, we needed to extract Ao Bai and his son from the Courtier Drum, which would reduce the power of the drum. Then, we would enter the house to capture Cheng Dalong. After that, we would have to improvise.
Suddenly, Li Mazi said, “Little Brother Zhang, that fellow turned off the lights. I’m sure he noticed us…”
“Hurry!” I urged.
Captain Liang suddenly became vigilant when we ran to the western-style house. “Something’s wrong.”
Right after, several people got out of the house. They were the idlers who gave us directions at the entrance of the village. Li Mazi hurried to ask, “Hey guys, are you taking a stroll? Have you had dinner yet?”
“Not good, their eyes look strange!” I shouted.
Those people grabbed wooden sticks and machetes, then rushed toward us. Li Mazi shrieked in fright, running away immediately.
Captain Liang was about to fire a warning shot, but I grabbed his arm. It wouldn’t work, and it would expose his identity as a cop.
People living in a small village like this were often conservative. They would keep to themselves and cover for their own. If the police showed up, all the villagers would round up to stop them. We would be unable to fix the problem if it came to that.
The fleeing Li Mazi came back, looking even more horrified. “There’s a group of people behind us. They all have machetes!”
We were basically about to be sandwiched.
Helpless, I glanced at Cheng Dalong’s house. “We should go in there!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter