Chapter 1018: The Trail Has Been Cut Short
“There are more ways to verify someone’s identity than just looking at their head.” Zu An took out a wooden stick and fiddled with the corpse.
“This person has at least thirty wounds on his body.
Even if he hadn’t been beheaded, he would have died from the blood loss.
“He fought a bitter battle before he died, and these wounds are curved and strange.
They look entirely different from the wounds inflicted by the weapons of the Zhou Dynasty’s cultivators.
They look similar to the curved blades of the fiend races.”
“Do you think that maybe someone might have secretly used those kinds of curved blades to make you think he was killed by the fiend races” Pei Mianman voiced her doubt.
“There is indeed that possibility.
But look over here.” Zu An pointed at the space between the remains’ left index finger and thumb.
“Even though we can’t see the calluses anymore, his joints are clearly a bit larger than his right hand.
He definitely wielded his blade with his left hand.
“This matches with the intelligence my subordinates have provided.
Cheng Ba was indeed left-handed.”
“With all of these intense battle scars and details like his left-handedness being accurate, the chance of all this just being an imitation is too low.
Therefore, this probably isn’t the one I’m looking for.”
“You’re right…” Pei Mianman nodded when she heard him say that.
She suddenly realized what he was saying and asked, “Then who is the one you’re looking for”
“There was a guard loyal to Cloudcenter Duke who traveled a vast distance to bring a report to the capital.
However, he was silenced along the way.” Zu An looked at the tombs.
His voice was full of respect as he said, “I came here to confirm his identity, not to find any new clues.”
“That is indeed a loyal guard.” Pei Mianman was also moved.
She continued, “Right, I said I’d help King Qi’s heir to get information.
You already told me everything! Aren’t you scared that I’ll betray you and tell him everything”
Zu An laughed and replied, “What kind of relationship do we have Why would I not trust you”
Even though Pei Miaman was incredibly happy to hear that, she still had a strict look on her face as she remarked, “What am I going to do with you You’re going to be deceived by a girl sooner or later.”
“But what if I’m okay with you deceiving me” Zu An looked straight at her as he spoke.
“You’re so corny…” Pei Mianman could no longer hold back her smile.
She said, “Hurry up and do what you have to do here already.
I don’t want to stay here for too long.”
Zu An nodded.
He closed the coffin lid and covered the tomb up again.
He had come to investigate a case; disturbing these soldiers’ rest was already crossing the line, so how could he just leave the coffin out in the open
He quickly dug up the second tomb.
Pei Mianman was initially eager to help him burn away the corpse toxins, but when she saw what was inside, her expression changed greatly.
She sprinted away and began to retch.
The only thing left in the coffin was a pitch-black corpse.
Many parts of it were cracked open, revealing the flesh underneath.
Perhaps it was because too much time had passed, or due to some other reasons, but the color and shape of his flesh really were beyond words…
Zu An waved his hand to fan away the coffin’s smell.
Then he explained, “This person’s name was Chen Zhou.
He was investigating an illegal drug smuggling case.
Later on, when he found a suspicious warehouse, it suddenly burst into flames and he was burned to death.”
“It was probably the smugglers who wanted to cover all the evidence, and thus burned him to death.” Pei Mianman’s pretty brow furrowed.
“We have to examine the corpse to be sure.” Zu An took out a glove he had prepared in advance as he spoke.
He took out a dagger and slowly cut into the corpse’s chest cavity.
“What are you doing” Pei Mianman’s eyes widened when she saw that.
She really couldn't understand why he would do something like that.
Zu An carefully cut through the nauseating rotting flesh while explaining, “I need to see if he really was burned to death.
If he really was burned to death, there should be ashes left in his respiratory tract.
There should also be signs of burns.
If he had been burned after being silenced, those traces wouldn’t be there.”
“Ah Zu, why do you know all of these things” Pei Mianman was a bit shocked.
What he said was easy to understand, but if he hadn’t said it, she really couldn’t have reached such a conclusion.
Zu An chuckled and replied, “You’d know if you watched a lot of dramas.”
“What” Pei Mianman was confused.
She clearly didn’t really understand what he was saying.
Zu An frowned and said, “He really was burned to death.” Even though the corpse was rotting a bit, he could still see ashes in the person’s windpipe.
“Then his death isn’t suspicious” Pei Mianman asked.
Zu An nodded.
Then, he dug up the third grave.
He opened up the coffin, revealing a dried corpse with a warped and sinister expression.
But this time, Pei Mianman remained completely calm.
After all, she had already seen similar things many times.
She had seen such things a few times when they were in Yinxu.
“This person was named Yu Li.
According to the records, he had all of his blood essence sucked out by an unknown monster.” Zu An looked at the corpse’s warped appearance.
He could imagine just how much pain and suffering the man had gone through before he died.
“Don’t tell me the monster was like Mosquito Daoist” Mosquito Daoist had left Pei Mianman with a huge psychological shadow back then.
Zu An shook his head and said, “There aren’t many members of the blood race.
Furthermore, if one of them really did do something, it would cause a huge scandal.
There’s no way there would only be a single victim.” He examined the corpse while speaking.
His expression soon became strange and he said, “I know how he died.”
Pei Mianman blinked and looked at him in shock.
He had already deduced how this person had died just from fiddling with his corpse a bit
“He was probably sucked dry by Thick-Browed Daoist…” Zu An explained what had happened between him and Thick-Browed Daoist in Yi Commandery.
Since he had faced that person before, he immediately sensed traces of the other cultivator that were still left in the corpse.
It was indeed Thick-Browed Daoist’s demonic technique.
Pei Mianman sighed and said, “I’ve heard a bit about this infamous Thick-Browed Daoist.
His cultivation was high and his cultivation method was strange.
Even if one’s cultivation were higher than his, one would still be fearful of his evil technique.
But it was his misfortune to have encountered you instead.” The two of them had spent a long time in Yinxu, so of course she knew that Zu An had learned the Heaven Devouring Sutra.
Zu An chuckled and said, “I actually hope more of these independent cultivators like Thick-Browed Daoist come for me.” The precious materials he had gotten were one thing, but that Face of a Thousand Identities was just incredible! The more he studied it, the more engrossed he became.
“That Thick-Browed Daoist might become so angered by what you said that he’ll just come back to life.” Pei Mianman giggled.
Then, a hint of worry appeared on her beautiful cheeks.
“You already checked three people, and their causes of death aren’t suspicious.
Does that mean the trail has been cut short”
“That’s not it.” Zu An chuckled.
He restored the grave, then led Pei Mianman away from the graveyard.
“Don’t touch me.” When she saw his hand move toward her, Pei Mianman took a step back with a strange expression.
Zu An was a bit hurt, replying, “I was wearing a glove earlier, and I already washed my hands by the stream…”
“I don’t care.” When she recalled how Zu An had dissected those corpses, Pei Mianman’s little face turned pale.
Zu An was left speechless.
“Fine, fine, fine, I won’t touch you.
You hold onto me, then.” Zu An got back onto the horse and gestured for her to sit behind him.
When she recalled the amazing experience of riding to the graveyard, Pei Mianman felt her chest tremble a bit.
A blush appeared on her tender and beautiful face as she murmured, “You dummy…”
But even though that was what she said, she still sat behind him.
They quickly left the area.
Pei Mianman’s beautiful eyes seemed on the verge of tears.
She quickly asked something to hide her embarrassment.
“Where are we going”
“To their homes,” Zu An replied.
“Their” Pei Mianman asked with a trembling voice.
“The ones from just now”
“Yeah,” Zu An said.
Pei Mianman was speechless.
Soon afterward, the two arrived at a small village on the outskirts.
A handful of brick houses were scattered across the village.
Zu An walked to a courtyard halfway up the mountain.
There was a six or seven-year-old little boy at the gate, riding a bamboo stick horse and waving a wooden sword in his hands.
The boy was shouting carelessly, “Charge!” He was clearly playing war games.
Pei Mianman had a smile on her face as she remarked, “This child is really cute.”
Zu An moved over to her and whispered, “Our child will definitely be even cuter.”
“You’re so annoying! Who wants to have a child with you” Pei Mianman gave him a nudge.
But inwardly, she was already starting to look forward to it.
“Wow! Your horse looks so strong!” The little child noticed them and saw the big horse they were riding on.
He immediately felt his own bamboo horse wasn’t anything special.
The pair got off the horse, and Zu An patted the boy's head, asking, “Little guy, is this Chen Zhou’s home”
“You guys know my dad” The little guy’s face shone brightly.
“We’re your dad’s friends,” Zu An replied.
When he saw the look of suspicion in the child’s eyes, Zu An thought for a bit, then took out a shortsword from his Brilliant Glass Bead.
“You seem to like playing war games, so this uncle will give you a present.”
There were many weapons and other such things inside.
But in order to prevent the child from hurting himself, Zu An gave him a shortsword that was merely ordinary.
However, anything he would store in his Brilliant Glass Bead was definitely not low quality.
Sure enough, the little child loved it.
He held the short sword close to his chest.
After thinking for a moment, he handed over his wooden sword, saying, “My dad told me you can’t carelessly receive kindness.
You gave me this sword, so I’ll give you one.
That way, we’re even!”
The child was quite naive.
How could he have known that the shortsword’s value was high enough to buy hundreds of those wooden toy swords
“Little guy, who are you talking to” There was a loud noise as a woman walked out while wiping her wet hands on her apron.
Her expression changed a bit when she saw Zu An and Pei Mianman.
She rushed forward and took the little child into her arms.
She looked at the two vigilantly and asked, “Who are you two”
Zu An quickly examined the other party.
Working year-round had made her skin a bit dark, and her arms were rough.
She was just like the peasant women he had seen on his way here.
Her face was a bit prettier than average, but it wasn’t enough for her to be considered a beauty.
“They said they were daddy’s friends.” The little child wasn’t on guard at all.
He even replied right away.
“Friends” The madam looked at the two of them in suspicion.
But suspicion was suspicion.
She saw that the man was handsome, and the woman was ridiculously pretty.
She suddenly felt a bit ashamed of her own inferiority with the two of them standing in front of her.
How could her husband possibly have friends of this level!