Bai Huo was bored, crisscrossing his legs, peeling a wild persimmon for the little dragon to eat.
Because of the bitter cold, the persimmons had frozen into an ice chunk, Bai Huo expanded a lot of effort to peel it. In the end, only a small portion remained, most of the flesh disappearing under his clumsy hands.
“This persimmon’s no good.” Bai Huo talked big, feeding the remaining portion to the little dragon.
Luo Wen Xu’s uniform had been thrown aside, only leaving his vest on. With a loud bang, the trunk of the jeep was pried up, the tires finally getting free of the potholes.
”Wow.” Bai Huo sat crookedly on a stone wall and observed.
Luo Wen Xu already didn’t want to exchange words with this guy anymore. If he wasn’t so anxious to save Ji Bei, he really would be tempted to tear this free-loading bastard apart bare-handed.
The little baby dragon nibbled on the persimmon, incessantly squirming in Bai Huo’s embrace.
”What’s wrong?” Bai Huo looked down, “Should I peel another one for you?”
Luo Wen Xu wiped off his sweat and pulled his clothes back on: “Maybe he wants to pee?”
Bai Huo was stunned, and the little dragon cub blushed inexplicably, shamefully burrowing into Bai Huo’s clothes.
”Oh…” Bai Huo touched his nose and got up, carrying the little dragon behind a big tree.
The two had just turned their backs when the little dragon cub quickly slipped out of Bai Huo’s arms, and looked back at Bai Huo, blushing. His eyes seemed to say, “Don’t come over, I’ll go by myself.”
Bai Huo was amused, standing in place, he smiled and said: “Go on, I’ll be waiting for you here.”
In the end, he couldn’t resist teasing: “Don’t wet your pants!”
Watching the little guy fleeing in embarrassment, Bai Huo almost laughed out loud, this child was really interesting.
“Is he your son?” Luo Wen Xu inspected the jeep, asking.
”Yeah.” Bai Huo said, smug.
”He doesn’t look like you.”
”He looks like his mother.”
Luo Wen Xu frowned: “If I’m remembering correctly, your household registration said unmarried.”
Bai Huo turned his head, clearly seeing the word “Animal” in Luo Wen Xu’s disdainful eyes. He choked, feeling wronged.
The even worse off than Dou E papa Bai Huo saw his son sticking his head out from behind a tree trunk, looking hesitant. Thinking that he’d really wet his pants, he walked over and asked: “What’s wrong?”
The little dragon had already pulled up his pants, seeing Bai Huo approaching, he pointed to another tree.
”What?” Bai Huo was puzzled, raising his head in that direction, he exchanged eye contact with a round ball-like object hanging upside down in the tree.
Bai Huo: “…”
Fat bird: “…”
”Ooh, what a coincidence.” Bai Huo smiled; his smile was extraordinarily brilliant.
The fat bird’s mouth twitched, then it clawed at the bird net that had caught it: “Stupid dragon, get me out!”
Bai Huo grinned and said: “Beg me.”
The fat bird was furious: “F#ck off! Bai Huo you scoundrel, this Dapeng will one day – oof.”
The little dragon cub plucked a feather from the bird’s tail, frowning unhappily.
”Pipe down, someone’s nearby.” Bai Huo pulled back the hand covering the bird’s beak and asked. “How did you end up here?”
The fat bird was no match for the two, bitterly saying: “What else could’ve happened? After you left last night, I heard a movement outside so I flew over to check it out. Who would’ve guessed that that big thing could move so fast? I followed it all the way here, but while I wasn’t paying attention…”
“See, I told you to eat less but you didn’t listen,” Bai Huo said sadly, “Now you’ve screwed up where it counts.”
”Shut up and let me down!”
”What happened to that jeep?” Bai Huo asked.
The fat bird stubbornly flapped his wings, but the bird catching net was too tightly wrapped. He couldn’t open it up with his strength, so he had no choice but to accept his fate: “That thing did it. It was too fast, I couldn’t really see what happened, but I saw it dragging someone underground.”
”–Can you guys hurry it up?” Luo Wen Xu shouted impatiently.
Bai Huo nodded and bent over to pick up the little dragon: “Okay, go back home first. I’ll go take a look at this thing.”
”Oh right, there are two fishes by the door…” Bai Huo walked halfway, then looked back, warning. “Those are my son’s fishes, don’t touch them.”
“Untie the rope ah!” As soon as it shouted, the bird net broke open, and the fat bird shrieked as it plopped into the snow.
Luo Wen Xu, who was starting up the engine, looked up sharply: “What’s that sound?”
Bai Huo carried the child into the jeep and closed the door: “The branch he peed on broke.”
The little dragon: “…”
Ji Bei was sick.
His constitution was originally weak, add in the wound on his neck and the piercing cold of the cave, after sitting on the ground for hours, it was no surprise that he’d started a high fever. At the same time, his bronchitis had started flaring up, and he found it difficult to breathe. Forget about shooting a gun, he couldn’t even sit up now.
The big scarf was the only thing keeping him warm at the moment. Ji Bei had wrapped his entire body in it, but he still shivered from the cold.
The only luck he had was that the two behemoths in front of him never came to attack him, only peacefully guarding the cave.
After the glass bead incident, the smaller beast had started bringing him some strange things: a few live fish, bloody pieces of meat, a few shells, and even a broken light bulb.
Ji Bei’s body was ill, but his brain was still sober. He vaguely felt that these two behemoths were mistaking him for someone. Whenever they brought him things, their humble posture looked more like they were offering him treasures to please him. But he was just an average human, what connection would he have to these two animals?
Ji Bei’s throat felt dry, and his breath was hot, he painfully wrapped the scarf tighter around his body.
Ji Bei had a biological clock. Although he couldn’t see the sky, according to his state of hunger, he guessed that it was already around noon. Luo Wen Xu must’ve discovered his disappearance a long time ago. At this moment, he should be frantically searching for him.
With Luo Wen Xu’s temper, no one could hold him back when he wasn’t around, Ji Bei could only hope that he didn’t get himself into trouble. Ji Bei felt a headache, thinking, no, he’ll definitely get into trouble, it’s only a matter of if it was big trouble or small. If he could escape, he’d be able to help mediate, but if he couldn’t escape, that guy would just continue to offend people, then what would happen in the future…
Ji Bei smiled bitterly, who would’ve guessed it, he was a proper detective who has been fighting criminals for most of his life, but in the end, he fell to the hands of two strange animals. Talk about dying without dignity. But he’d always been curious about what those who had been forced to the edge of death thought in their last moments. Were they just filled with the desire to survive? Did they feel loathing? Did they realize that they’d reached the end of their lives?
As a violent crime detective, Ji Bei had seen too many people’s death. The least favorite part of his job when he was a rookie was informing the victim’s family. Those grief-stricken expressions, the gut wrenching sobs, just thinking about it… Ji Bei suddenly opened his eyes, forcing himself to stay awake with willpower alone.
No, he couldn’t die in this obscure place. In a few years, when someone dug out his corpse, Luo Wen Xu would be called in to identify his body. He didn’t want to see that kind of heartbroken look on that fearless man’s face.
The two behemoths were lying on the cave floor, quietly resting, one big and one small, like a mother and child.
Ji Bei took out his gun and pointed it at the small one. But when he tilted his head at a certain angle, he suddenly clearly saw the two behemoths’ eyes. It turns out…the two creatures were actually blind.
Many of the animals that lived in the deep sea or deep underground had visual impairments. These animals relied on smell, temperature and sound to distinguish everything around them.
Ji Bei grabbed a small stone and threw it to the side, testing.
“Clank”, the small stone bounced off the wall and rolled around on the ground.
Sure enough, the little beast immediately got up and crawled to where the sound was made, sniffing.
So, it turns out… they can’t see me, Ji Bei had an epiphany. He stared at the way the beast carefully sniffed the small stone, and a strange thought crossed his mind. He slowly lowered his head and sniffed the scarf on his body, then he looked at the scattered items around him, like the glass bead, and an earth-shattering conjecture came to mind.
The foot of Wuluo Mountain.
As soon as the sun came out, the snow in the mountains started melting, and the snow chunks flowed down the streams, making soft tinkling sounds, the forest sounded very lively.
Bai Huo and the little dragon cub sat side by side drinking milk, watching Luo Wen Xu break open stones and dig a hole in the soil.
The veins on Luo Wen Xu’s forehead pulsed. He wiped the sweat off his face and shouted: “If there are no clues, this hole will be your grave!”
Bai Huo sucked on the small milk box’s straw, asking curiously: “Now that you’ve brought that up, why are you trusting me so much?”
This really puzzled Bai Huo. As a human being, especially as a policeman, when his most important companion disappeared, instead of relying on the power of the police, he just followed an outsider around. This wasn’t consistent with common sense.
”I don’t trust you,” Luo Wen Xu clenched his teeth. “I just trust Xiao Bei. I honestly can’t figure out why he thinks you’re capable.”
Bai Huo found this reasoning very novel.
”So, you’d better show off those abilities of yours.” Luo Wen Xu wiped his sweat off with his clothes and took two steps back. “Is this hole big enough?”
The originally level land had been excavated by Luo Wen Xu on Bai Huo’s instructions. He was asked to dig a large hole half a man deep. The little dragon curiously poked his head over the hole but was snatched up by Bai Huo.
”Give me the shovel.” Bai Huo took the iron shovel from Luo Wen Xu and circled around the bottom of the pit. Then he attacked the surface of the pit with a powerful shove, and the soil collapsed, revealing a cavern.
”What is this?” Luo Wen Xu frowned.
”An old mine road.” Bai Huo said, “It was built in the 1960s, during the gold rush.”
”You mean Xiao Bei is below here?” Luo Wen Xu didn’t believe him.
”Let’s go down and find out,” Bai Huo hugged the little dragon, intending to jump down. “Follow me closely, if you bump into anything strange, don’t scream.”
”Wait!” Luo Wen Xu didn’t move, stopping Bai Huo, “What do you know? Tell me now and make it clear.”
Humans… Bai Huo felt a slight headache. He thought for a bit, then explained, “Don’t you think that Officer Ji’s experience is similar to the three recent murder cases in Xi City? The only difference is that the previous three victims all died on the spot. Only Officer Ji went missing, indicating that the murderer kidnapped him for some reason.”
“That you’ll have to ask the murderer,” Bai Huo said. “I’ve read your analysis of these three cases. You summed up the common points pretty well, but you missed the most important one. Of course, I don’t blame you for that, it’s the fault of age and misinformation.”
”The three incidents and Officer Ji’s accident all happened over the old underground mine roads.” Bai Huo explained, “From the surface, you’ll notice that all four places have small trees, no high-rise buildings, and no subways nearby. I think you should’ve heard about Xi City’s urban development history. The official story says that Xi City’s gold rush era started in the early 1980s, but that’s a lie. The previous decades were too chaotic, it’s much too easy to re-write its history. “
Having said this, Bai Huo didn’t need to go on, Luo Wen Xu had obviously understood the information, he frowned: “You’re not that old, how do you know these things?”
I’m old enough to be your grandpa, Bai Huo said in his heart. He smiled. “Officer Lou, now doesn’t seem to be the best time to chat.”
It was already noon; they really couldn’t delay much longer. Luo Wen Xu had always been tough as nails, wearing only his vest, he directly jumped into the mine. It was just one man high, and there was a cloud of humidity surrounding him. The bone piercingly cold pool of water under him reached his instep, he ignored it, straightening up and reaching a hand towards Bai Huo.
”No need.” Bai Huo smiled and declined his help, hugging the little baby dragon with one hand, he jumped gracefully, barely disturbing the water with his landing.
”You’re bringing a child with you?” Luo Wen Xu glanced at the little cub.
Bai Huo and the little dragon cub looked at each other, seeing the same doubtful question in each other’s eyes, “Why not?”
”It’s fine, I’m here.” Bai Huo flicked on his smart phone’s flashlight and urged, “Let’s go find your loved one.”
The underground mine roads crisscrossed, open roads in almost every direction, very impressive. If you looked down from above with x-ray vision, it’d look more like a labyrinth. Luo Wen Xu had lived in Xi City for so many years, but he never realized that there was such a secret layer under his feet.
”It’s no wonder so many buildings start sinking,” Luo Wen Xu said with a grave expression. “The city was built on an ant colony.”
”Some of these mines were later refurbished into sewers,” Bai Huo said, “Wuluo Mountain is the closest mine to the surface. If you want to find the other mines, you’ll have to dig down for a few hours.”
”You mean, the murderer has been traveling through these channels to commit their crimes?” Luo Wen Xu asked.
”Yes, think of it as a game of whack-a-mole,” Bai Huo said. “Your surveillance cameras won’t work on it.”
”This is nuts.” Luo Wen Xu said coldly. Since they started down the mine roads, he’d felt somewhat anxious, but not wanting to reveal it in front of Bai Huo, he’d forced it down.
Besides the pool of water, the tunnels also had some garbage floating in sewage. Above, there was some water seepage. A sudden drop on the neck could drive someone to panic. Bai Huo carefully gathered the little dragon into his arms.
The two men had been walking for quite a while when the light of the flashlight flicked past a reflective thing on the ground. Bai Huo stopped and bent over to pick it up, discovering that it was a fist-sized tooth.
”What the—what creature has such big teeth?”
Bai Huo stared at the black fang, his face blank, only returning to his original expression when Luo Wen Xu walked over to him: “…… No idea.”
However, Luo Wen Xu suddenly bent down and picked up an even more frightening object beside him: a human finger bone. Looking at its state of decay, it should be less than a month old.
When he saw the bone, Bai Huo’s complexion turned deathly pale, and he closed his eyes and turned away.
Luo Wen Xu had seen many dead bodies, he kept his cool and calmly took out a physical evidence bag from his back pocket, dropping the finger in. He looked at Bai Huo’s pale face in surprise, this guy didn’t seem like the timid type.
”I’ll get a DNA test done later,” Luo Wen Xu shoved the bagged finger bone into his pocket without hesitation, then he continued down the path. “Maybe it’ll be a match for one of the three victims.”
Setting off again, now Luo Wen Xu led, and Bai Huo followed.
The little dragon cub sensed that something was wrong, he raised his head from Bai Huo’s embrace and licked his chin.
”It’s nothing.” Bai Huo smiled faintly; his face still pale.
“This place is too big, how about we split -” Luo Wen Xu had just turned to discuss his plans with Bai Huo, when suddenly, a gunshot was heard deep in the mine tunnel ahead.
The sound bounced back and forth in the confined passage, echoing in all directions, and the two men suddenly looked up.
”It’s Xiao Bei!” Luo Wen Xu immediately took out his gun and ran towards the source of the sound.
Bai Huo was in a bad state, and he was half a beat slow. When he finally snapped out of it, he immediately chased after Luo Wen Xu, shouting: “Hey! It’s dangerous! Come back!”
The even worse off than Dou E- Dou E is a character in a Chinese play called Dou E Yuan, she’s a child bride who gets wrongly convicted of many crimes and is executed. Basically, BH is saying that he’s being treated more harshly than Dou E.