The street was bleak, the wind scraping at exposed skin.
There was no one around, only Bai Huo was walking on the road. The thick scarf in front of him inexplicably shook, then a fat palm sized bird dropped out.
This bird was covered in fluffy golden feathers, who knew what kind of diet it was on, but it was extraordinarily portly, two bulging cheeks framing two small round eyes. At first glance, it looked like a golden creampuff, decorated with two sesame seeds. Although he’d been with him for so many years, Bai Huo had to admit that every time he looked at it, he felt that this thing really resembled… a chicken.
The fat bird was apparently quite dissatisfied with the sudden drop from its car, it irritably fanned its small wings, surprisingly rising up when it was about to touch the ground. It folded its wings, and arrogantly landed on Bai Huo’s shoulder.
Bai Huo obliquely glanced at it in schadenfreude, asking: “Oh, you can still fly?”
The arrogant bird glared at him and unexpectedly opened its mouth to speak: “Didn’t I just eat a few of your peas, why the fuss?“
”You didn’t have to bring that up again, but those were the fairy peas I’d cultivated for eighteen years.” Mentioning this, Bai Huo’s expression immediately looked pained, “In the end, only one pod grew, all of which entered into your fat chicken belly. “
Fairy peas were extraordinary plants, it was extremely difficult to get it to flower and bear fruit. But the resulting pods had miraculous effects, and were rare drugs for the dragon race.
When the arrogant bird heard this, it blew up: “Who’s a fat chicken?! I’m a Dapeng, a Dapeng alright! Stupid dragon!”
Bai Huo was covered in bird feathers because of his fluttering about, smiling faintly, he raised his hand and plugged the fat bird back into his scarf with lightning speed, saying quietly: “Quiet down, someone’s coming.”
The fat bird rolled twice in the scarf before becoming motionless.
”Even the black needle couldn’t point to the murderer huh.” A long while later, the scarf faintly spoke.
Bai Huo thought about the compass’ strange behavior and sighed: “Yeah, something even more troublesome than the murderer seems to have appeared.”
It was already past midnight, but the Xi City bureau was still brightly lit.
When Ji Bei entered the reception room, he saw a young man lying askew on the sofa, one hand in his pocket, the other hand holding up a document that he was apparently reading. The man was wearing a long trench coat, two long legs arbitrarily crossed, reclining lazily. The windbreaker was open, revealing a thin waist properly wrapped in a shirt. This unconventional posture that seemed to be a bit half dead was the essence of the “Beijing slouch“.
Ji Bei stood dazed for a second, thinking that he had walked through the wrong door, then he asked doubtfully: “Are you… Director Bai?”
The young man’s “paralysis” was unfortunately heading towards the late stage, hearing a voice, he barely twitched, only peaking slightly over the document: “Hmm? Officer Luo?” after asking this, he unconcernedly put down the document and got up to shake hands.
Bai Huo’s hand was very cold, Ji Bei felt uncomfortable. He briefly shook it and quickly withdrew: “Nice to meet you, my surname is Ji. I didn’t expect Director Bai to be so young.”
“Same to you.” Bai Huo pushed up his glasses, beaming: “Officer Ji is also a young talent, a model detective. I’ve heard so much about you from Old Yang, and today we can finally meet.”
Ji Bei almost stumbled. This “Old Yang” was the old director of their office, even older than Ji Bei’s father. This Bai Huo was obviously in his early twenties, where did he get off calling Yang Ju “Old Yang”.
”Let’s get down to business.” Ji Bei turned over a paper cup and poured a cup of hot water for Bai Huo. “Did Director Bai specifically come here for this matter?”
“Yup.” Bai Huo seemed to be very pleased with the sofa in the reception room, he returned to slouching on it as he lazily spoke, “To be honest, I’m an old friend of the provincial office’s Deputy Director Qin. Although they couldn’t come, they were very concerned about the situation in Xi City. So, they sent me over to see if there’s any place I can help.”
”So, it’s like that.” Ji Bei exposed an expression of understanding, “Xi City is a small town, there’s never been such a case before. Our staff have limited experience, we haven’t found any big leads at the moment. You’ve come at the right time. Yang Ju told me that you’re an expert in this field. I hope you can give us some guidance during this time.”
These were just words of politeness. Ji Bei clearly knew that although this expert was sent by the provincial office, the procedure was incomplete, and an introduction letter with a red stamp wasn’t handed over. Besides, if Yang Ju really thought that this person could be useful, he’d have come down to host the reception, he wouldn’t have just thrown him at him. Looking at his dress, this surname Bai Huo was most likely a slacker trust fund baby. Who knew which muscle got pulled in his brain to make him think it was a good idea to run to the police station to pretend to solve a case. However, since he was already here, Ji Bei had no choice but to give him face and take him through the crime scenes. Then they could all put in a good report.
Ji Bei had just blurted these things out without much thought, he’d never expect that Bai Huo was very pleased to hear these compliments. Without further demur, he dragged Xiao Bei to go survey the crime scenes, even his late stage paralysis was spontaneously cured.
”So late, will you be able to see clearly? How about we go take a look when it’s bright tomorrow?” After suddenly leaving the hall, Xiao Bei was still dazed.
Bai Huo said compassionately: “All this work can’t be delayed. Let’s go now, early to go and early to come back.”
Ji Bei was about to say something but hesitated, not knowing whether to laugh or to cry. If he had known this would happen, he wouldn’t have flattered the other man so much.
The two walked out in tandem, intending to pick up the car in the parking lot, when they met a plainclothes officer that was just coming back. A glance was all it took to recognize this person as an officer, because his way of walking was very unique: his back was ramrod straight, his gaze fixed forward, with each step, he swung out his arms at the same height level. If this person didn’t have severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, then this behavior was trained.
“Xiao Bei?” Luo Wen Xu looked up, his eyes very sharp. He analyzed the two people like a scanner, then frowned unhappily. “Why are you going out so late?”
“Right, this is the zoologist recommended by Yang Ju. Surnamed Bai, Director Bai. I’m taking him to survey the crime scenes.” Xiao Bei said, “Were you able to make any headway with that thing?”
The other man just hmm’d, his eyes fixed on Bai Huo.
Luo Wen Xu’s gaze was very intense. Towards people he meets for the first time, he really was not friendly. But Bai Huo was not angry, he shoved both hands into his coat pockets and smiled at him.
“This is our captain, Luo Wen Xu.”
Xiao Bei introduced them, but neither spoke, the atmosphere suddenly becoming awkward.
Ji Bei was at a total loss, he didn’t know where this inexplicable hostility came from, but he still tried to break the silence: “I’ll go start the car.”
”Xiao Bei.” Luo Wen Xu called out to Xiao Bei, “You haven’t walked your golden retriever in two days. You should go home, I’ll take care of this.”
“I’m just going to turn over the crime scenes.” Luo Wen Xu took the car keys from Ji Bei and stood by the car door. He squinted at Bai Huo, “Does Director Bai mind a change in driver?”
Bai Huo smiled and shrugged: “Of course not.”
Ji Bei stood to the side, watching the two people seemingly politely get in the car and close the doors. Until the police car disappeared, he stood still in the car exhaust fumes, thoroughly confused: “What the….”
The road leading to Xi City University was newly renovated. In recent years, the country had advocated for energy conservation and emission reduction. All the roads were equipped with intelligent sensor lights, which adjusted the brightness according to the traffic flow. When no one was on the road at night, it was as dark as a horror film.
Luo Wen Xu had no choice but to turn on the headlights while heading down the winding road, the car swayed, tilting Bai Huo’s, who was next to him, head side to side. He glanced at him obliquely, the other man had his arms crossed and his eyes closed, his body sinking into the passenger seat. He’d actually fallen asleep. This police car had carried many a colleague and criminal, it’d even carried injured people, but this really was the first time someone had the balls to treat a police car like a spring mattress.
”Officer Luo, if you stare at me much longer, I’m gonna start doubting if you’ve fallen for me.” Bai Huo half-lifted his left eye-lid, his expression mocking.
”Ha!” Luo Wen Xu seemed to have heard a big joke, turning the car and stopping in a parking spot. “Were you even comfortable sleeping in here?”
”It’s alright, but the cushion’s a little too hard.” Bai Huo stretched, a bit of a frown in his tone, “My joints hurt.”
Luo Wen Xu smiled sarcastically: “Director Bai is really carefree.”
”Of course, it’s only natural. I’m a model citizen with a clear conscience.” Bai Huo calmly pushed open the door and got out.
This was a residential building near Xi City University. There were seven floors, divided into two units, a typical building. The exterior had been refurbished, so it didn’t look too old, but the internal facilities still revealed its outdatedness. There was an unidentifiable smell near the entrance of the corridor, and the power meter box on the wall was rusted.
Every university had some low-rent housing nearby, all basically single rooms. Most of them were rented to students who were studying in the university or cohabiting couples. Xi City University’s management wasn’t very strict. Students renting a house outside was not uncommon. From a certain point of view, it was fortunate that this girl wasn’t attacked in the school dormitory, otherwise, this case would be even more of an unbearable mess.
The incident occurred in the basement, which was now quarantined. Luo Wen Xu flashed his ID and walked in with Bai Huo.
”Officer Luo, did the murdered girl have a boyfriend?” Bai Huo took off his glasses and dropped it into his coat pocket, then he pulled on a pair of white gloves.
”No.” Luo Wen Xu shone his flashlight and walked forward. “We checked Lin Nian’s social circle and found nothing suspicious. Lin Nian was the backbone of the school’s art department; she was also her band’s bass player. With all these social activities, she returned home late quite often. Perhaps she was afraid of disturbing her dormmates, so she moved out in her sophomore year and lived alone. She rented the basement because it was soundproof, more convenient for band practice.”
“Oh…” Bai Huo nodded lightly, “She seemed to be quite an empathetic girl, what a pity.”
Luo Wen turned his head at those words.
Bai Huo’s head was lowered, adjusting his gloves. He obviously didn’t wear this kind of medical gloves often. He adjusted the gloves for a long time, walking carelessly, also not looking where he was going, almost stepping into a hole. Luo Wen Xu had no choice but to stop and wait for him to get a move on.
”Excuse me for asking Director Bai, but you don’t seem like you’re very experienced in criminal investigation. Why were you only interested in this case?” While asking this, Luo Wen Xu stared fixedly at Bai Huo’s face, not willing to let go of the slightest change in expression.
Bai Huo looked up. When he wasn’t wearing his glasses, his frivolous atmosphere was reduced by half, and he looked like a very serious person.
”Ah, I also can’t do anything about it.” Bai Huo spread his hands and unhurriedly said, “I was entrusted by someone.”
”Entrusted by someone?” Luo Wen Xu laughed in spite of himself. “Does ‘entrusted by someone’ mean steal someone’s identity?”
Bai Huo’s expression turned inscrutable for a split second, then he tilted his head and smiled, his amber eyes looking straight at Luo Wen Xu: “Officer Luo, have I offended you somewhere? Us researchers don’t have much courage; all this intimidation is scaring me.”
Luo Wen Xu stopped sounding him out, forcibly pressing down his doubts. He single-handedly pushed open the door and said: “Prepare yourself mentally, don’t vomit on the scene.”
It turns out that Luo Wen Xu’s reminder was very necessary. In the small room, although the body had already been removed, the dark red blood stains and suffocating bloody smell would greatly impact anyone entering the scene for the first time.
Bai Huo stood at the door, unable to help a frown. Almost as soon as the door opened, the compass in his pocket had vibrated again. He reached into his pocket and touched the black needle with his index finger.
Still couldn’t figure out the direction.
”What, too scared to enter?” Luo Wen Xu had looked over this crime scene too many times. Now he could only act as an artificial light, sweeping his flashlight beam over Bai Huo’s face while talking.
This action was extremely rude, but fortunately, Bai Huo wasn’t bothered. He nonchalantly put on a mask and circled around the outlines on the ground.
The basement Lin Nian had rented was about 18 square meters, divided into two rooms, one with a bed and a desk, the other with a practice room. There was not much furniture, you could see the whole view at a glance. The girl obviously loved cleanliness. Everything was well organized, even the quilts on the bed were neatly stacked, and the side wall was carefully decorated in anime posters.
”It’s quite clean…” Bai Huo pushed aside the bathroom curtain. Inside was one toothbrush and a single pair of slippers. No trace of a second person living there was found.
”We’ve already done DNA testing, she lived alone.” Luo Wen Xu said, “No traces of other people or pets. No suspicious items either. According to the upstairs neighbors, Lin Nian usually retreats into her room at the end of each month to push herself creatively. She only goes out once every day at noon, then she stays in her room. When Lin Nian died, there really was no third person present.”
Bai Huo: “Closed scene?”
Luo Wen Xu nodded: “Yes.”
It had been more than 80 hours since the crime was discovered, but there was a lingering odor. The young police woman who was guarding the scene had remained at the door, unwilling to even speak, afraid that the scent molecules would enter her mouth.
Bai Huo walked around lightly, his head lowered, circling around the room, as if he wanted to step on every floor tile.
“Did you find anything?” Luo Wen Xu asked.
Bai Huo stared intently at the bloodstains on the ground, his expression grave: “There’s something odd…”
”It’s too neat.” Luo Wen Xu finished.
Bai Huo looked at him: “There’s no trace of a struggle. The deceased died very neatly.”
A smart person communicates in clear words. Bai Huo knew what Luo Wen wanted to hear from him at a glance: “A one hit kill, most common wild animals wouldn’t be able to accomplish that. I need to look at the bite marks.”
As soon as a case was involved, Luo Wen Xu always cooperated. He signaled towards the young police officer.
”I’ll take you there.” The young police woman waved.
”The forensic lab, didn’t you want to observe the body?”
Bai Huo’s footsteps paused: “The deceased is a girl.”
The two looked at each other, both doubtful, Bai Huo added, slightly embarrassed: “Just the crime scene photos and the forensic report is enough.”
The young police woman reacted first, joking: “Yo, you still care about that? She’s already a corpse, she won’t mind.”
Bai Huo hadn’t spoken yet when Luo Wen Xu suddenly interjected: “Do what he says, bring both documents.”
The young police officer felt troubled: “Right now? It’s the middle of the night.”
Seeing that she was preparing to call Ji Bei, Luo Wen Xu impatiently said: “Your Vice-Captain’s health isn’t good, but you can’t even let him sleep a whole night? Do you really need to bother him for such a little thing? Who’s that guy that was running around with breakfast this morning? Go call him!”
The young police officer immediately shut up, scared.
The three people came out of the basement. It was midnight, cold moonlight pierced through the tree branches and printed an indiscernible shape of light on the ground.
”Officer Luo,” Bai Huo put his glasses back on. “Do you have any opinions about this case?”
”I never speak opinions, only evidence and facts.”
”Then, do you think that this world has creatures that’re unknown to humanity?”
Luo Wen Xu stopped walking and turned back to look at Bai Huo. His tone was unexpectedly a little earnest: “The longer there’s no progress in this case, the more dangerous it is for the masses. No one knows who the next victim will be. If you really know something, please let me know immediately. If you just want a little bit of excitement so you can go back and write some thesis, then I advise you to return home as soon as possible. You don’t belong here, understand? “
Bai Huo was stunned. Who would’ve thought that he’d fight tooth and nail to survive to a hundred years old, only to be lectured by a human in his early thirties.
How novel, how unusual.
At that moment, the compass in his pocket suddenly swiveled frantically, seemingly urging its owner to hurry up. He’d used this compass for more than 40 years, but he’d never seen it behave so strangely.
”Director Bai should go back first, it’s very late.”
Bai Huo calmly slipped his hand into his pocket and smiled: “Okay.”
The two men walked to the curb. Luo Wen Xu was just about to get the car when the sound of an approaching shrill engine disturbed the silent night sky. Soon, a police motorcycle galloped along and stopped in front of the two.
Xiao Shu was clutching a file folder. He nervously ran over and presented it like a treasure: “I’ve picked up the information for Captain Luo.”
Luo Wen Xu roared as soon as he saw him: “Who let you ride the heavy motorcycle? Did you get approval? It’s the middle of the night, don’t you know about ‘disturbing the peace’?!”
Xiao Shu looked puzzled: “No one said anything when I drove it out.”
Bai Huo timely stepped forward to smooth things over, casually taking the file in Xiao Shu’s hand, he smiled: “Thank you little brother, I’ll take this information away first.”
Their fingertips touched, and Xiao Shu’s whole body shook.
”Where do you live, I’ll drive you.” Luo Wen Xu restrained his anger and said.
Bai Huo smiled and waved his hand: “Please don’t worry about that. Officer Luo has worked hard all day. Go home and rest. When the case is solved, why don’t the two of us go out for a drink?”
Luo Wen Xu didn’t insist: “Of course.”
“He …… Who is he?” Xiao Shu stared at Bai Huo’s back, trembling, he couldn’t help but ask.
Luo Wen Xu didn’t have the patience to satisfy the intern’s curiosity. His rough hand slammed into the back of Xiao Shu’s head: “What a foolish question. You’re not allowed to ride the motorcycle back, start pushing.”
Even after walking several meters away, Bai Huo could still feel someone staring at him. The fat bird rolled in his scarf, and a bird head poked out from the front. It had obviously been holding back: “So… is it one of the dragon races?”
“Not sure.” Bai Huo said, “I have a guess, but I need to dig up the floor to confirm, but today …… forget it, I’ll come back at night another day.”
Turning a corner, the fat bird flew out from the scarf and landed on Bai Huo’s shoulder: “There’s a vision in the southwest, don’t you want to go take a look?”
”I know, that’s where I’m heading.” Bai Huo rubbed his eyes and sighed. “To tell the truth, I have a strange premonition that if I go now, my life will change forever.”
The fat bird sneered, “At the sacrificial ceremony last year, the prophet said that you’ll face a big disaster this year, and that you should buy his giant pearl bracelet to dispel it. But in the end, not only did you not listen, you even beat him up. Whose fault is this?”
”That old man claimed that I’d violated the peach blossom calamity’s Three Bonds and Five Constants, why wouldn’t I beat him up?” Speaking of this, Bai Huo’s hands itched, wishing he could pull out that senile old man’s beard again.
The fat bird celebrated in schadenfreude, jumping up and down on Bai Huo’s shoulders, the shame from a few hours ago finally being wiped away.
Bai Huo glanced at him and suddenly smirked. Then he leapt up and turned into an imposing pure white dragon, disappearing into the night sky, the fat bird’s curses trailing behind him.
Didn’t I just eat a few …: 不就吃你几颗豆子，至于吗？-Not sure about this one
Dapeng: A giant bird in Chinese mythology
Beijing slouch: A meme way of sitting, made popular by this photo of comedian Ge You
Old: A respectful but pretty intimate way of referring to an old person.
Closed scene: 封闭现场- I think that’s what he’s asking and idk why. Most murder scenes are closed by default. Most likely he’s asking if the room was locked, making it a locked room murder.
peach blossom calamity: trouble in your love life Three Bonds and Five Constants: Teachings from Confucius about how one should act as a human being – If you guys don’t get it, the prophet said that Bai Huo has been behaving so rotten that he’ll face a disaster in his love life.