Peering out of the window, they could see a cluster of low buildings and the street in front of it. This included the two houses that had just been burned down. From their direction, they had a clear view of the entrance of Xiaoji Noodles.
"It's just a hypothesis," Yue Dingtang began. "If this Hong Xiaoguang is a fraud, and he was trying to lure Du Yunning for the Yuans' money. When Du Yunning found out his true identity, they had a falling out and Hong Xiaoguang killed her out of anger. That would explain why he was living in this place, wearing a suit and glasses when he came and went, and talking about poetry with Du Yunning, all to deceive her."
"He knew of your existence from his dealings with Du Yunning, and since he was living here, he could see you going in and out of Xiaoji Noodles. So after killing Du Yunning, he decided to kill the owner of the noodle house to get rid of your alibi and frame you for the murder."
Ling Shu's brows furrowed tighter. Finally, when Yue Dingtang finished speaking, he spoke up.
"No, there's a flaw in your deduction. I've dealt with a lot of frauds, and when the scam is exposed, their first reaction is usually to run away, not to kill another person just to frame me. Since their identity is already fake, they just need to change their name and background to scam someone else, which is the easiest and safest way."
"He didn't even take anything from Du Yunning's room, but he hurried to Xiaoji Noodles to kill the owner and frame me. That doesn't make any sense."
"Maybe we got the direction wrong from the start," Yue Dingtang nodded. "Let's make a second assumption. This Hong Xiaoguang is not after the Yuans' money or Du Yunning's beauty, but he gave us that impression."
"If you compare the time he and Du Yunning knew each other and the time you reconnected with Du Yunning, he was before you, which means Du Yunning thought of contacting you after knowing him. Do you think Du Yunning contacted you on his orders?" Ling Shu asked.
"Yes. This Hong Xiaoguang is not simple. There must be something he needs from Du Yunning's place. Beauty alone may not be enough to satisfy him. Or, maybe there is someone behind him who doesn't need money or people, but something else. What is it?"
Since Du Yunning's family had already fallen, and she had cut off contact with them, it was unlikely that anyone from the Du family would think of her. Even though Yuan Bingdao was a powerful figure in the past, his son Yuan Bing was a failure, so there was nothing of value on him that someone could use to frame him. Unless...
"Is it something Yuan Bingdao left behind? Or something the Yuans have?" Yue Dingtang pondered. "Yuan Bing is always in a daze from smoking too much, and he wasn't at the Yuans' on the day Du Yunning died, so we haven't asked him any in-depth questions. We can try to break through that tomorrow."
"It's too late now. Can we meet tomorrow morning? I need to go home soon, or else my sister will be worried. If she sees the news of Du Yunning's death in the newspaper, she will definitely start to worry."
Yue Dingtang looked at his watch. "Okay, let's meet at 8am tomorrow. I'll have the driver pick you up at the same place you're familiar with—the concession’s prison. Yuan Bing is now staying in a single room there, and he's living quite comfortably. They said..."
He didn't finish his sentence before noticing that Ling Shu wasn't responding. He looked up to see the latter staring out the window intently.
In the distance, the occasional sparkles of fireworks lit up the night sky. The flickering lights also cast a mysterious shadow on the side of Ling Shu's face.
"What are you looking at?" Yue Dingtang asked, before being pulled by Ling Shu to the wall beside the window.
"Shh," Ling Shu whispered. "I just saw someone go into the noodle house."
Yue Dingtang's brows twitched.
Xiaoji Noodles had been deserted since the owner's death. Even a thief wouldn't choose such a place to steal from. Could it be a homeless person seeking shelter from the cold?
Yue Dingtang immediately dismissed this idea. Who would stay in a place full of charred smells? It would be better to try their luck at the welfare home.
If it wasn't a thief or a homeless person, then it must be someone related to the case. The two of them quickly left the building without saying goodbye to the landlord.
Although they didn't say it out loud, they both had the same thought: with the slightest bit of caution, Hong Xiaoguang wouldn't come back here. There were few personal items in the room, and the only thing that could expose his identity was the library card.
Even his name could be faked. He must have more than one hideout.
It was a short distance from the window to the noodle house. After turning a corner and crossing a few buildings, they arrived.
Next to the noodle house was a ruin where three people had died tragically.
On the other side, although it hadn't been affected by the fire, only an old man and a child were left, so there was no festive atmosphere. It was cold and quiet, in stark contrast to the fireworks across the street.
Yue Dingtang and Ling Shu split up, with Yue Dingtang going to the front and Ling Shu going to the back door. If the person who had gone in earlier was indeed Hong Xiaoguang, he would have no choice but to surrender when blocked from both sides.
The back door of the noodle house was ajar. It was meant for delivering ingredients and for the owner to come and go, and many restaurants and hotels had such a back door, regardless of their size.
The fire might not have spread to the back first, because the wooden door wasn't completely burned and still had half of it left, hanging in the frame. The wind blew in and out of the broken wood, carrying a faint smell of burning.
Ling Shu reached out to push the door. Crack! The broken wooden door fell straight from the frame. If he hadn't stepped back quickly, his foot would have been the one getting crushed.
Without the wooden door blocking it, the darkness came rushing in like a wild beast, opening its bloody mouth and waiting for him to fall into its trap. Ling Shu took out the flashlight he had taken from Yue Dingtang and stepped inside.
He covered his mouth and nose with a scarf. The dim light from the flashlight revealed that the noodle house was no longer the same.
Ling Shu remembered when he and Old Xiao were sitting inside, slightly drunk, chatting and laughing. Old Xiao had waved his arms and said that he wanted to make the noodle house bigger within three years and turn it into an international business, so that foreigners could also experience the vastness of Chinese cuisine.
Although he knew Old Xiao was bragging, he had no children and saw making noodles as a way to pass his loneliness. Who was he to stop him from talking nonsense?
Now, even listening to him brag has become a luxury. Ling Shu couldn't help but sigh.
The place was deserted, and his sigh echoed multiple times, as if there were many ghosts in the dark responding. His body suddenly became covered in goosebumps!
The noodle house didn't seem that big before, but without the tables and chairs, and the front hall to the back kitchens unblocked, it immediately felt overly spacious. The small range of the flashlight revealed very little, and most of it was still shrouded in darkness.
Ling Shu had the feeling that the figure who had gone in earlier was now hiding somewhere, observing his every move in the dark.
He tried to be as quiet as possible, even his breathing blended in with the place. But he still heard a sobbing sound coming from all directions. It was the sound of the wind in the cold night, piercing through the gaps of his scarf and stabbing his skin.
According to folk tales, the souls of those who die unjustly can't be reincarnated and will linger in the place of their death, looking for a substitute to vent their grievances. Ling Shu wasn't sure if what he had seen at the window on the second floor was a real figure or just an illusion.
Or was it Old Xiao's vengeful ghost?
Not wanting to think too much, his hair stood on end as soon as his imagination ran wild.
Yue Dingtang was ahead, but it was unclear if he had gone in or not. Ling Shu hadn't seen him, nor had he seen anyone else.
Besides the sound of the wind, the only sound was his own slightly heavy breathing.
"Old Xiao, we're friends. I'm here to help you find the killer. You have to recognize your enemies from your allies. There's a head for every loan and a master for every debt. Don't look for revenge in the wrong place!"
Ling Shu muttered to himself as he stepped on a broken stone, causing his foot to hurt.
Suddenly, something seemed to fly past behind him!
Ling Shu didn't pay attention to his foot, quickly turning around and shining his flashlight.
Nothing was there.
Suddenly, a pot dropped to the ground.
To the right in front of him!
Ling Shu rushed over.
A black, long-tailed animal jumped out from the stove before Ling Shu could react, quickly running away.
So it was a cat?
Ling Shu still had doubts when there was noise from the front.
It was a gunshot!
Yue Dingtang was there!
Ling Shu's heart sank as he thought, without even thinking, he ran towards the front door.
Yue Dingtang was a scholar, and although he was temporarily hired as an advisor by Smith, it was impossible for him to carry a gun. So where did the gunshot come from? Someone must have shot at Yue Dingtang.
But just as he took a step forward, a gust of wind came from behind, directly aiming at the back of his head!
The author has something to say:
Ling Shu expressionlessly dragged the cat actor away: Flirting is forbidden at critical moments.
The black cat: Meow?