Chapter 997: The culprit is a woman

Something big happened at the lake?

“What is it?” Long Feiye asked coldly.

“The two shadow guards lying in ambush were both murdered. Cui Yun’s gone as well. The culprit has extremely strong martial arts and sword skills. This subordinate heard cries for help, but all I saw was a woman by the time I hurried over!” the shadow guard exclaimed. 

Cui Yun was the name of the female mercenary in charge of the lakeside mission. Long Feiye and Han Yunxi exchanged looks before heading for Yinyang Lake without a word. Most likely, that culprit was the killer of the six female victims. By the time the couple arrived, Xu Donglin was there as well and examining the two shadow guards’ bodies.

“Your Highness, princess, both of them died by a sword. It was a single slash to their throats!” Xu Donglin reported.

Long Feiye knelt down for a closer look. “The sword skills really are formidable,” he observed.

Han Yunxi’s heart chilled. She knew that if Long Feiye said so, then the killer must really have excellent sword skills--even better than that of the shadow guards. 

“Is Cui Yun dead or alive?” she asked.

The shadow guard that had reported the incident shook his head. “This subordinate only saw the fleeing woman when I arrived on the scene.”

In other words, he couldn’t be certain whether the culprit had killed Cui Yun and taken her body away or just kidnapped her first. 

“Looks like the culprit only reserves the daggers for female victims,” Long Feiye remarked.

All six women had been cut by a dagger and died from bleeding from their seven orifices, but the two dead shadow guards today had perished from a sword. Although the sword wasn’t poisoned, the wounds showed that the murderer had excellent swordsmanship.

“The culprit ran towards the right, this subordinate’s already sent men to chase after her,” the shadow guard added. 

Han Yunxi and Long Feiye never expected to meet such a skilled killer. Now that they’d startled her, luring her out again would be difficult. With a dead end at the justice department, their clues would run out unless they found some hints from the shadow guards! Long Feiye examined the bodies one last time and wanted to say something, but changed his mind and said, “Xu Donglin, arrange for a burial with full honors.”

Han Yunxi looked back towards the lake and saw that its surface was as smooth as a mirror. It perfectly reflected the blue skies and white clouds above, looking clean and pure. Such a scene unconsciously attracted Han Yunxi to approach its shores. Long Feiye hurried after her and muttered, “There’s too many strange incidents associated with this lake. Don’t get too close.”

As soon as he spoke, Han Yunxi halted and exclaimed, “There’s poison!”

Perhaps she had been too far, but now the detox system was blaring warnings in her head while she was only a step away from the water. But it wasn’t the lake that was poisoned, but a person beneath its waters. After all, the detox system was best at finding poisons within the human body. The detox system didn’t break down the individual poisons, only told her that “someone” was poisoned. Han Yunxi tried a deep system scan and got the same results. 

“Long Feiye, there’s someone inside the lake, and he or she’s poisoned,” Han Yunxi hesitated, then added, “Judging from my experience, it should be another body!”

A corpse!

Could it be Cui Yun? Long Feiye immediately ordered the shadow guards to get the body out of the water. 

“It’s right in the center of the lake, it should be pretty deep down,” Han Yunxi reminded.

But the guards had hardly gone in the water when Han Yunxi’s detox system lost track of the poison. “Quickly,” she urged, “The body’s sinking.”

Very soon, one of the guards surfaced again. “Your Highness, princess, there’s a whirlpool dragging the body inside! It’s Cui Yun’s body, without a doubt! This subordinate can’t go any deeper!”

“Go call for Baili Mingxiang!” Long Feiye ordered.

Soon enough, Baili Mingxiang arrived on the scene. After getting the details of the situation, she jumped into the water without a word. But soon enough, she had broken through the surface again.

“Mingxiang, what’s the situation?” Han Yunxi asked anxiously.

“Princess, can Guard Xu come underwater with this servant? That body...this servant doesn’t dare to touch it!” Baili Mingxiang’s voice was trembling.

“I’ll go down with you!” Han Yunxi said without hesitation. She could see that the woman was frightened.

Naturally, if Han Yunxi was going then so would Long Feiye. Both of them dived underwater and were protected by Baili Mingxiang’s Lightstream Ball. As soon as Han Yunxi drew near, Baili Mingxiang gripped her hand tightly. Although she had requested for Xu Donglin, she wasn’t sure if she could take it without holding someone’s hand. Baili Mingxiang led the couple into the whirlpool, whose swirling motion intensified the deeper they descended. Han Yunxi squeezed back until Baili Mingxiang calmed down enough to say, “There must be some power hidden at the bottom of this water to create a whirlpool like this. But it’s very deep, so it won’t be easy to get down.”

Very soon, Han Yunxi and Long Feiye saw Cui Yun’s body. Protected by Baili Mingxiang’s Lightstream Ball, they didn’t sink any further.

However!

Han Yunxi couldn’t help sucking in a cold breath at the sight. Long Feiye didn’t react much, but only ordered coldly, “Let’s go.”

Baili Mingxiang found the courage to move forward until her two Lightstream Balls combined as one, setting Cui Yun’s body at Long Feiye’s feet. Baili Mingxiang’s shaking hands were taken by Han Yunxi, but she still didn’t dare to look. Instead, she directed everyone’s Lightstream Ball back to the surface.

Cui Yun’s body was left by the lakeshore, shocking both Xu Donglin and the other shadow guards. Even he didn’t dare to get too close. Only Han Yunxi and Long Feiye circled the body for an examination. 

For someone in the medical profession, seeing bodies was as common as one’s three meals. Han Yunxi was more in disbelief than fear, because the corpse had been reduced to a soft, almost leather-like sack. There were no bones inside it at all!

Just what kind of reasons demanded deaths like these?

Surprise aside, Han Yunxi was infuriated. She stared at the corpse for a while without moving.

“Is there poison?” Long Feiye asked.

Recovering her wits, Han Yunxi took a deep breath and resumed her examination. She first checked the wound while activating her detox system. But it gave her the same results as before: only that Cui Yun was poisoned, but no specifics beyond that. Han Yunxi next found a dagger slash wound on the woman’s stomach. Now she more or less had a better picture of the whole thing.

She next checked the body’s seven orifices: eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Although the corpse had been soaking in the water and left all traces of blood in a mess, Han Yunxi still found traces of poisoned blood left behind. Thus, Cui Yun had died the same way as the other six women--through blood loss in the seven orifices.

Han Yunxi told the examination results to Long Feiye. “Looks like it’s very possible the Qi Sha dagger’s behind this.” She was always rigorous and precise when it came to poisons, thus she named the culprit as the weapon, not the Metal of Ten-Thousand Poisons. It was possible that the dagger poison came from something else equally toxic that the detox system had no records of. 

The only way to confirm whether the Qi Sha dagger was the Metal of Ten-Thousand Poisons was to dip it into Perplexing Butterfly Illusion. That was the safest, most reliable method. Of course, Han Yunxi couldn’t bother with so many details at the moment. Her mind was filled with two thoughts, 1) find Gu Qishao and 2) get revenge! For the sake of Cui Yun and the shadow guards, as well as the six innocent women!

Long Feiye looked at the body and murmured, “There’s only a single wound on the stomach, so how did the bones all disappear? And in such a short time?”

That’s right, time had been exceedingly short! The shadow guard had said that he only ran over when he heard his two comrades shouting for help. Thus, that must have been around the time Cui Yun was killed! The culprit murdered her, then plucked out all her bones while fighting off the other two guards? Wasn’t that a little too fast?

After a period of silence, Han Yunxi said decisively, “Long Feiye, the culprit must be a bone collector! Definitely!”

Only a bone collector would possess the skills to clear out a body of bones without ruining the corpse. 

“I know why we couldn’t find any bones in the justice department!” she added, “The culprit set the fire after getting all the bones from the bodies of the six women! She lit up the place to destroy the evidence! That’s why she threw Cui Yun’s body in the lake today too!”

“To cover up the fact that she collected the bones? Why does she want them?” Long Feiye asked doubtfully.

“Xu Donglin, hurry and go investigate! Look up all the corpse and bone collectors in Qingzhou Water City! That includes stores that sell bone ornaments, search them thoroughly! I want people to pay a visit to every shop!” Han Yunxi said icily.

Corpse collectors were in charge of helping people clean up dead bodies. They were a common sight. But bone collectors were unsavory workers because they collected human bones! Someone of them collected from the living, while others targeted the dead. In many evil sects, there was worship of bones from living persons. They would take the bones out one by one and pile them up into a statue. Those who collected bones from the dead were grave robbers that unearthed dead bodies to get their wares. These bone collectors had multiple ways to sell off the bones to shamans, hospital research centers, hobbyist collectors, or bone sculptors. From what Han Yunxi understood, many bone collectors would work together with corpse collectors in secret to get access to more bodies. Bone sculptors would be in the know as well so they could purchase their materials easily.

The culprit’s bone stripping skills were so exquisite, yet she hadn’t begrudged setting the bodies on fire or ruining them in other ways. She had to be a high-level expert in the bone collecting circles, so all they had to do was ask around to find their suspect. 

Xu Donglin immediately sent someone to look for intel. Long Feiye didn’t know as much about bone collectors as Han Yunxi did and only wondered exactly how much this woman had seen.

“The culprit insisted on women’s bones and even killed them with the Qi Sha dagger. I wonder why?” Han Yunxi mused.

The murderer was skilled enough to kill guards with one sword slash, so why bother with a dagger? Were there other motives, or did she just want to create fear and confuse the populace?

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