Chapter 18: Troubles Keeps on Coming

I carefully examined the photo frame, staring at the tall and fair-skinned boy in the picture. However, his facial features were somewhat blurry and difficult to make out.

“Except for this photo, my brother’s figure has disappeared from all the other pictures, and I have no idea why. Every time I look through the album, it terrifies me,” she explained.

I found it hard to believe that the images could vanish from the photos, but after hearing Xia Chi’s name mentioned by the paper person interviewer, I was willing to entertain Xia Qing’s words.

“This family portrait was handed to me by my brother before he vanished. He said a lot of strange things that day, but I don’t remember anything after I fell asleep. The only thing I recall is clutching this photo tightly in my hand,” she added.

“So, this is your brother’s last remaining relic.” If we were to investigate Xia Chi’s disappearance as a criminal case, this photo would be one of the only clues we had.

“Have you ever opened this photo frame?” I asked.

“No, I was afraid of damaging it,” she replied.

Looking at the image alone, there didn’t seem to be anything noteworthy, but my intuition told me that there was more to it than meets the eye.

I asked Xia Qing to fetch a smaller screwdriver, and I carefully dismantled the photo frame while sitting on the floor.


On the back of the family portrait photo, six characters were written: “Plum Blossom Branding” and “Plum Blossom Gu.”

“What does it mean?” Xia Qing asked, looking puzzled as she leaned in closer to me.

“Plum Blossom?” I instinctively covered my right wrist, which had a plum blossom-shaped scar from a strange insect that had bitten me during the contract signing ritual in the underworld show.

“Could it be that the insect with a shape like a centipede’s head and a single horn is the Plum Blossom Gu? Is this how the underworld show controls their hosts?” I wasn’t sure if Xia Chi’s information was correct, but it gave me a direction to investigate.

“Don’t tell anyone about the words, information, or photos. And don’t go around telling people that you have a brother, understand?” I cautioned Xia Qing.

“Why not?” she asked.

“They are very dangerous, extremely dangerous,” Xia Qing was listening intently, whilst most of her body was leaning heavily against me.

“Okay, I’ll stay here to take pictures and record everything. You go take a shower and change your clothes. You look all dirty,” I urged Xia Qing to leave.

After she left, I took pictures of the words and photos left by Xia Chi. Even though we had never met, I could roughly picture Xia Chi’s personality in my mind.

“Is it you who led me down this road of no return just so I could take over your job? But why don’t I have any impression of you?” I never hesitated to speculate and reason about the worst possible scenarios. It was possible that Xia Chi and I might have known each other a long time ago.

After finishing my investigation, I walked out of the room. The sound of water pouring from the bathroom could be heard, and Xia Qing was still taking a shower. “This girl is too lacking in vigilance. Luckily, she met me. If it were someone else with ill intentions..

As I reached the doorway, the outside security door suddenly swung open, and the sound of the key being inserted into the lock made my heart almost jump out of my throat.

“Can’t be this unlucky, can I?”

The door turned, and a charming middle-aged woman in her forties appeared at the entrance.

“Hello… there.”

Opening the door to one’s own home and seeing a stranger with a tired face and ragged clothes in front of them was something anyone would find hard to accept.

Her mouth gradually opened wider, and her hand slackened, dropping the shopping bag on the ground, with fresh, bright red apples rolling all over the corridor.

“Hubby! Catch the thief!”

A middle-aged man over 1.8 meters tall jumped out from behind her, followed by neighbors holding rolling pins to help.

“Wait! I’m not a thief! I’m Xia Qingzhi’s teacher, here for a home visit today!”

The crowd slowed down a bit, but before a few seconds passed, the sharp-eyed Xia’s mother saw the torn school uniform that Xia Qingzhi had thrown on the sofa.

“What is this…”

She almost cried as she picked up the torn uniform and then picked up Xia Qingzhi’s muddy skirt at the bathroom door, with red eyes.

“You! You! Beast!”

The anger of the crowd was instantly ignited, and I didn’t even have time to utter a single word.

“Call the police!”

“Beat him to death!”

At this moment, as I crouched on the ground, holding my head in my hands, I couldn’t help but recall a quote from Lu Xun: “Fierce-browed, I coolly defy a thousand pointing figures, head bowed like a willing ox, I serve the children.”

“Please don’t hit me in the face…”


When I finally sat in the interrogation room of the city police station, more than ten minutes had already passed.

“Wow, Gao Jian, you’re even more diligent at entering the police station than I am at clocking in for work. Even the security guard, Lao Huang, knows you,” said Tie Ningxiang, holding an ice pack to my swollen arms. “They really went hard on you. Your arms look like frozen carrots.”

“Come on, senior sister, I’m already miserable enough. Don’t make fun of me. Ow, ow, ow, that hurts!” I winced as she pressed down on the ice.

“You deserved it. You shouldn’t have been alone in a room with someone else’s child. If it were me, I would have beaten you up too,” said Tie Ningxiang, glancing over at Xia Qingzhi, who looked worried and guilty.

“Don’t worry, this kid can take a beating. If you finish giving your statement, you can go home. We’ve checked the surveillance footage and won’t give this weird uncle a hard time.”

“Hey, you can’t talk like that. I’m at least a good samaritan. How can you call me a weird uncle?”

“What else do you want? The people already said they would compensate you, but you don’t want that. Must they give you two big banners to hang?” Tie Ningxiang sat down next to me, looking exhausted from a long day of work. “Stay behind after they leave. I have some things to discuss with you.”

“Hey, don’t suddenly act so close to me. It gives me an uneasy feeling.”

Once Xia Qingzhi and her parents left, Tie Ningxiang resumed her commanding police officer persona and slammed a stack of files on the table.

“The forensic report is consistent with what you said earlier. In total, five sets of remains were found in that shallow well, including those of the landlord’s son’s sister, the landlord’s son’s childhood friend, two of the landlord’s son’s ex-girlfriends, and the former boss of the landlord’s son’s previous workplace. These five people, who had no social connection to one another, all had one thing in common: they were all linked to the landlord’s son—Lu Xing.”

“We have basically ruled out the suspicion of the elderly couple’s involvement in the crime, but we still can’t understand why they repeatedly indulged their son’s crazy behavior, and even actively helped him dispose of the bodies and cover up the truth.”

“Perhaps it’s because of excessive love?” I shrugged indifferently.

“Gao Jian, look into my eyes.” Tie Ningxiang suddenly became serious. She grabbed my shoulder, and our faces were just a few centimeters apart. “I don’t know why you went to the Peace of Mind Hotel alone at night, and I don’t know how you figured out the truth of the case, but I know that this case is not as simple as it seems. Lu Xing is still on the run, and you are also hiding something from me.”

Being so close, I could smell the perfume on Tie Ningxiang. “What could I be hiding from you? I’m just a citizen running an adult store.”

“You’re lying. We both used to be the top students in our class, so you can’t fool me.” Tie team leader released her strong grip on my shoulder. “One day, I will uncover everything, and when I do, you will pay for it.”

After a moment of staring at each other, I gave a bitter smile. “You want to know the truth that much?”

“People’s lives are at stake!”

“Okay, then I’ll tell you.”

“Speak up!” Tie Ningxiang opened her recorder and squatted next to me.

“Actually …… actually, you look pretty good when you’re angry.”

With a loud “bang!” the door to the interrogation room slammed shut, leaving me alone sitting on a cold chair. I have to admit, there was a fleeting moment where I wanted to tell Tie Ningxiang about my recent experiences with the underworld show, but it was just a momentary impulse.

If my live broadcast were to fail one day, perhaps silently disappearing like Xia Chi would be a decent way to end things.

“At least I would disappear quietly and wouldn’t hurt anyone.”

When I returned to the adult store, I immediately fell asleep and didn’t wake up until the next afternoon. After working out, I went to the bank to exchange my gold bars for cash, and then went to a specialty shop to buy a suitable suit.

As I gazed at my reflection in the fitting room mirror, I carefully adjusted my tie, “I never imagined that the first time I’d be wearing such formal attire would be for my ex’s wedding.”

I had spent the previous night wandering around Ting Tang Road until late at night, “Tomorrow I’ll say goodbye to everything and start from scratch.”

With the morning sun rising, I woke up feeling well-rested and finally able to shake off the exhaustion from the previous days. I washed my face, put on my suit, and polished my shoes, “I’m actually quite looking forward to my this wedding.”


TN: Hanging two big banners is often considered a way of showing respect and honor to someone or something. It is a traditional way of expressing congratulations or gratitude in various ceremonies

TN: Gu is like a worm that has weird abilities, if you ever read Reverend insanity, then you can think of them like the gu’s used in that novel.

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