Netherworld Investigator - BestLightNovel.com
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The abbot told us our food would be ready shortly and kindly added that Zhu Xiaohao's portion would be sent to the room, drawing yet another burst of piety and grat.i.tude from Zhu Xiaohao. What a clueless idiot–thanking the culprits and pointing fingers at his would-be rescuers!
Upon exiting the meditation room, I noticed that there were two other monks in the courtyard. The thin one sat on a bench at the entrance of the side hall, using a b.u.t.terfly knife to trim his fingernails, while the other monk crouched under the old locust tree at the entrance of the courtyard, staring aimlessly with his one gla.s.s eye. Their expressions had an air of hostility, especially Gla.s.s Eye who stared greedily at Bingxin as if to strip her naked with his eyes. The monks' intentions couldn't be any clearer–their jobs were to ensure we wouldn't leave.
"These baldies won't let us go!” Dali whispered in a low voice. “What should we do? Fight them?"
"There's no way I can defeat them in a fight,” I admitted. “I can only outwit them."
"Is there any possibility they're actually real monks who just don't observe the rules and regulations? And this is just a case of us overthinking the situation?" asked Dali.
But that was wishful thinking on Dali's part.
"I've already said that I'm only 90% sure that they are wanted criminals. I've not ruled out what you said entirely,” I explained. “But in our current situation, we must be alert and prepare for the worst. What I want to know most is what's hidden in that arhat statue."
"Song Yang-gege, do you suspect there's a corpse hidden inside?" asked Bingxin.
"There is that possibility since rotting corpses generate a lot of heat and the arhat's tears resemble corpse oil!"
Dali gaped, "C-corpse oil?!"
I nodded. "Corpse oil is the product of decaying human fat. If Zhu Xiaohao hadn't stopped me at the time, I could've smelled it to be certain."
"The decomposition of a corpse not only produces corpse oil, but also methane, ammonia, and phosphorus,” added Bingxin. “Song Yang-gege, do you recall any of those smells at the time?"
With my keen sense of smell, I was sure I hadn't caught a whiff of rotting flesh. I turned to the statue in the courtyard that was waiting for a coat of paint and said, "If they've managed to seal it up properly, it is possible for the smell to be contained."
Upon further contemplation, Bingxin said, "The decay of a corpse also produces trace amounts of cyanide. Song Yang-gege, were there any dead bugs beside the statue?"
I shook my head to say I hadn't seen any.
I had an inkling these baldies wouldn't allow us back into the main hall. Dali sighed, "If only we could conduct a long-range autopsy."
"Long-range autopsy?" I laughed. "We can't do that, but here's what we can do. Instead of direct evidence, we can look for circ.u.mstantial evidence such as the murder weapon! Where would they hide something like that?"
"The kitchen!" exclaimed Bingxin.
We continued our discussion in hushed whispers as we walked towards the kitchen. Scarface had just prepared our vegetarian meal when Bingxin and Dali both enthusiastically offered, "Master, let us serve!"
The two walked off with Scarface while I took advantage of the monk's absence to examine the kitchen. I swiped the surface of the chopping board with my fingers and felt some grease, though I couldn't ascertain if it was human or animal fat. But I highly doubted they were sick enough to eat human flesh.
Then, I picked up the kitchen knives one by one and held them to my nose. One of the knife handles smelled a bit off. Using Cave Vision, I meticulously ran my eyes all over the knife and found some solidified blood and bits of what I suspected to be human tissues at the joint between the knife handle and the blade. Additionally, I found a strand of long hair between the chopping board and the wall which was a bizarre location for such a discovery, especially in the kitchen of a Buddhist temple.
I grabbed a wooden rod and dug around the interior of the traditional stove, and soon stirred up a small piece of plastic which looked like a corner of an ID card as indicated by the anti-counterfeit sticker on it.
Suddenly, a familiar Buddhist chant sounded from behind me as the abbot appeared at the door like a ghost in a horror movie. "What are you doing here, benefactor?"
I squeezed out the most harmless, foolish smile I could muster and said, "This is my first time seeing a traditional cooking stove. I'm rather curious about it. Is it okay if I try it out for our dinner tonight?”
My words seemed to put his worries to rest. "Very well. It's no problem at all if you wish to help. Your meal is ready. Please head to Heavenly Scents Kitchen where we eat."
"Oh, wonderful!" I nodded.
As soon as he turned away, I grabbed the smallest knife off the shelf and hid it in my sleeve.
Our lunch was congee and pickles. Scarface sat opposite of us the entire time, as if he were monitoring us. I quietly typed on my cell phone, using my bowl to conceal my actions as I pushed the phone over to Bingxin and Dali who nodded tacitly at once.
After we had our fill, I called Scarface and waved my phone at him. "Hey, Master, don't you guys have Wi-fi?"
"No!" Scarface's rebuff was cold.
I sighed, "How unlucky! I've not yet signed in on Onmyoji today! Do any of you have Internet? Lend me your phone so that I can sign in!"
"I can't get any signal," Dali lamented with a glance at his phone.
Meanwhile, Bingxin looked at hers and said, "I only have one bar..."
I reached over as if to s.n.a.t.c.h the phone from Bingxin when she suddenly cried, "Hey, I don't have much data so don't download anything!"
"It's just one game!” I yelled. “Shoot, I accidentally dialed someone's number. Who's the old man?"
Bingxin grabbed the phone out of my hand and shouted angrily, "It's my dad!"
Then, she placed her ear to the phone, her voice cloying, "Dad, we're visiting a temple in the mountains... I'm fine! Anyway, we'll be back tomorrow. Bye bye!"
Naturally, all of this was a performance and Scarface's expression immediately revealed that something was off.
When Scarface came to collect our bowls and chopsticks, I patted my stomach and said, "Ah, what an unsatisfying meal! I need meat to fill my stomach!"
Scarface's ugly lips curled in a sarcastic smile before he left.
With him out of the room, I immediately dropped my disguise and told them what I had discovered. I was now almost 100% sure that someone was murdered here about a week ago, which suggested these “monks” wouldn't be so kind to let us leave tonight.
"Then... what do we do?" whispered Dali through gritted teeth, his hands shaking.
"We have to make the first move to gain an upper hand!" I declared, jaws clenching with determination.
My decision seemed to have stunned them both. "Are you going to kill them?" Bingxin asked in wide-eyed shock.
I nodded. "More than three years but less ten!" I said, enunciating each word.
Dali didn't know what it meant so I explained to him that according to our laws, criminals also had human rights. If convicted of killing a criminal, the prison sentence would be anywhere between three and ten years.
But this was the worst case scenario. Of course, if they tried to attack us, then our actions would be considered justifiable defense which made us innocent.
With my knowledge of the human body and the advantage of Cave Vision, as long as I had a knife in hand, I was confident that I could go against any one of them in the dark. After all, I had once fought a vicious man-eating monster with a knife.
Right then, the abbot entered the room grinning from ear-to-ear. "Benefactors, it's getting late. I've already tidied up two meditation rooms for you to rest. You might as well wait till tomorrow to be on your way!"
"Thank you, abbot,” said Dali. “But we're taking a cab down the mountain and heading back. We won't disturb your peace and quiet."
"It's no trouble at all,” the abbot waved his hands. “It's hard to get a cab out here, especially at night. Our duty as monks is to serve the people, and helping you is our privilege so there's no need to refuse."
"Thank you very much then," I replied.
"Very well,” the abbot folded his hands. “I'll take you to your rooms."
The abbot allocated two meditation rooms, one for Dali and me, and the other for Bingxin. The rooms were simple, each with a bed and a bookshelf with some Buddhist cla.s.sics.
"I have a question,” I said, scanning the room. “Can I share a room with my girlfriend instead?"
Upon hearing this, Bingxin blushed crimson despite being well aware it was all an act.
The abbot immediately refused, "Amitabha. There can be no s.e.xual activity in the sacred temple of Buddha! Please be patient, benefactor!"
"I'm not a monk. Why should I be restricted?” I demanded. “To tell you the truth, I've been on interns.h.i.+p here for more than a month and my girlfriend is only visiting for one night. Are you trying to deprive me of my s.e.x life?!"
I burned with shame after I said that. Dali coughed and looked outside while Bingxin lowered her head, trying to hide her blush.
The abbot's face twisted into a grimace. "Amitabha, what a sin!" he muttered.
"You know what?! We're getting the h.e.l.l out of here!” I yelled. “What's the point of staying any longer in this stupid, broken down place?!"
The abbot's eyes turned red with ferocity as his expression turned sinister. "You can't leave!" he roared.
1. Another honorific t.i.tle for a monk.
2. The monks' form of addressing laymen. Previous Chapter Next Chapter