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Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The dragon before Xu Lan’s eyes was more beautiful than any other dragon he saw in books or drawings. It was stunning and utterly flawless.
Silver-white scales densely covered its whole body, and two scarlet-red horns protruded from its head. A pair of small wings, covered similarly with the silver-white scales, adorned its back. Its eyes seemed tearful, as they were a similar shade of red to its horns. At a glance, it was the complete opposite of the crying boy, yet it was also extremely adorable.
“Papa, do I look ugly?” asked a concerned Bai Wu, after seeing how Xu Lan kept quiet while trying to hold back laughter.
He was unsure how his state would look in Xu Lan’s eyes, but in the dragon realm, he could be considered the best looking.
“No, you look cute. Come here and get dressed, wouldn’t want you to catch a cold.” A smile crept across the edge of Xu Lan’s lips as he called the boy over. Even the scar above his eyebrow seemed so much less threatening.
This time, Bai Wu slept peacefully in Xu Lan’s arms, because he knew that no matter what happened, Xu Lan would not leave him.
Xiao Li’s repeated phone calls woke Xu Lan up. Xu Lan had been tossing and turning around all night. It felt as though Xiao Li patiently waited for Xu Lan’s head to hit the pillow before making those calls.
“Yes! What is it?!” Xu Lan yawned and spoke in a less-than-favorable tone.
“Sergeant Xu! Something’s happened. Come quickly to the red light district in Lanshan 1 . Someone just made a report, another murder happened there, and the MO is exactly the same as –”
Without waiting for him to finish, Xu Lan hung up. He put on an overcoat, carried Bai Wu, and went out.
The gush of cold wind woke Bai Wu up. He checked to see that he was still in Xu Lan’s arms, then dropped his head back into the man’s chest.
“Papa, what is it?”
“Nothing, go back to sleep. We’ll get an early breakfast.” Xu Lan tightened his overcoat, started the car, then headed to Lanshan.
Alongside Xiao Li was Hu Cheng, with his electronic cigarette in his mouth. Despite his tired-looking face, Hu Cheng’s eyes were still as sharp as an eagle’s.
“Why’d you bring the kid?” asked Hu Cheng while holding in his anger. His frown was so tense his furrowed eyebrows looked capable of crushing a fly to death.
“I don’t feel comfortable leaving the boy at home. You and I will go in soon, while Xiao Li will stay out here,” Xu Lan replied calmly.
“Fine,” Hu Cheng said after some hesitance.
Seeing the boy in Xu Lan’s arms, Xiao Li pouted an expression of disapproval at the decision. Everyone knew that Sergeant Xu was an irritable workaholic, so who would have expected the man to immediately become such a stay-at-home dad as soon as he had the child?
Xiao Li himself wanted to take a look at the situation inside. As the young man was grumbling to himself, Hu Cheng roughly briefed Xu Lan on what had happened.
This time, the incident happened in one of the red light district’s rental rooms. The victim’s blood seeped out of the house. That morning, someone noticed it and lodged a police report.
Xu Lan passed the boy over to Xiao Li and followed Hu Cheng into the room, which had a metallic and pungent smell in the air.
The scene was no different from Jingxinyuan. At most, it was about five or six square meters. Bits and bobs of stuff were piled up everywhere, while blood covered almost every inch of the place.
On the bed laid the victim’s naked body. Her left breast had already been sliced off, and both her legs were bent into a provocative position.
“What did forensics say?”
“This incident is more or less the same as the previous two incidents, but the difference is that this time, the victim was meticulously displayed in such a position. When I observed the place just now, there was no surveillance equipment at all!”
Hu Cheng said this while he touched his electronic cigarette. Whenever he was anxious or in deep thought, the urge to smoke would creep in. For the sake of preserving the situation of the crime scene, however, all he could do was fiddle with it to relieve his anxiety.
“If that’s the case, then perhaps someone might have seen the news and intended to make someone else their scapegoat. Let’s look closer and see if we can get any clues.”
Xu Lan folded his arms and took a quick glance at the deceased. On the surface, everything seemed uniform – there was virtually no discrepancy to the incident at Jingxinyuan. Even the sewing technique was similar. If the DNA was a match, then…
His heart sank immediately, and in that moment he felt it go cold.
There was another possibility: what if the killer mistook Xu Lan for a policeman that intended to arrest him? The woman’s posture could be an initial show of strength, forcing Xu Lan to show himself. It could be that a challenge was aimed at Xu Lan!
Xu Lan put on some gloves and tried to bend the victim’s legs down. Rigor mortis had set in and it was impossible to stretch the limb; instead, the body fell to the side. The outer side of the victim’s thigh – which was against the wall – revealed two words: ‘Having fun?’
The man’s brain felt like it was exploding that very instant, but he squinted his eyes and did his best to keep himself calm. With his hand, he gestured for Hu Cheng to come closer.
“Shameless. How shameless! To think that someone out there, someone who walks this earth, could take a person’s life as a joke! I…I swear I’ll catch this person and let him rot in prison!” Hu Cheng shouted then coughed.
He was fuming. Slaughtering a young girl, and to what end? Just to write down a couple of words? Furthermore, it was the second consecutive day that a killing occurred. Such savagery simply showed how little the killer cared about the police!
“Please stay calm. Since we are faced with someone so brazen, it’s certain that our murderer is not your average bold killer, but a scheming one. Everything is more complex than it seems, we should first go back to the station and thoroughly discuss the situation.”
With his long eyelashes concealing the emotions in his eyes, Xu Lan tried to placate Hu Cheng.
“…three consecutive murders! With such vile methods! I will personally report this matter to our superiors! Make sure the leads are in order within the next few days. If there is any news, you are to report to me immediately!”
Hu Cheng walked out and fished the electronic cigarette from his pocket. He rapped it against the railing and took out a few strands of tobacco, then pressed it into his tobacco pipe.
“You can leave, I’ll be here.”
Xu Lan wanted to ascertain a few more things. Now that Hu Cheng had left, he need not verify those suspicions surreptitiously. Hu Cheng was too sharp, and Xu Lan was afraid of getting into trouble if the case came to a dead end.
After all, no one would have predicted that the crack in space and time would lead them to the scene of a crime, and he certainly did not want for Bai Wu to be sent to the laboratory, lying down on the cold bed for scientists to experiment with!
“Lao Hu, tell me, what was your impression of me back then?”
Seizing Hu Cheng in his fretful moment, Xu Lan asked that question. Although everyone in that world seemed to know him, sooner or later the truth might come out.
Bai Wu said it before: he was able to create cracks in space and time, but he could not interfere with anything that was happening.
So where did that world’s Xu Lan go, and how was he like?
“You? They all say that you’re a workaholic. The way you go about cases? It’s like you don’t have a life.” Hu Cheng breathed out a puff of smoke and looked at Xu Lan, then passed a freshly rolled cigarette to him.
Through the hazy smoke, Hu Cheng saw in Xu Lan a cold and rigid man, with limpid yet abstruse eyes that Hu Cheng had never seen in anyone else before.
“You went to pick up your kid and got yourself a scar in the process?”
Midway reaching for the cigarette, Xu Lan’s hand momentarily stopped, then continued its journey stiffly. Those eyes: they were sharp for sure!
He took a puff abruptly and saw Xiao Li waving at him while carrying Bai Wu.
“There’s no need to worry, I won’t go anywhere!” Bloody hell, why did he feel so relieved all of a sudden?
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