Chapter 2: Dark Night and a Violent Crime
The swearing of brotherhood continued normally thanks to the directions of the blind man. Afterwards, Lu Pingchuan expressed his gratitude once more and everyone spread out their bedding straws to lay down to sleep.
Mo Li laid down alongside Lu Pingchuan in the North-West corner, Chu Huairou slept in the South-West corner, the Mute slept by herself in the North-East Corner, Nan Feng and Changle slept in front of the idol, Fatty slept in the South-East corner, and the Blind man lay down to the right of the main hall entrance.
The bonfire gradually died out, and the hall sank into darkness.
Around 1-3 AM, the blind fortune-teller began coughing. The coughing was very sudden and very violent.
Upon hearing the discomforted coughing of the Blind Man, Nan Feng crawled up and revived the embers in the fire throwing in a few more firewoods to keep it alive.
“Thanks.” The blind man expressed his gratitude in a low voice.
“It’s ok.” Nan Feng returned to where he was sleeping, but all of a sudden he discovered that Changle who had been sleeping besides him had disappeared.
By this time the rain had stopped, Nan Feng went to the latrine to check, only to discover that Changle hadn’t gone to the toilet.
“Old Mister, someone went out of this room. Do you know when he walked out?” Nan Feng asked the blind man.
“Before I started coughing.” The Blind man said calmly.
At this time, Nan Feng didn’t have time to think whether the blind man’s coughing was by chance or intentional, “Which direction did he go?”
“He went southwards.” The blind man said.
Nan Feng felt even more anxious after listening, so he immediately awakened everyone. Everyone started calling out for him loudly around the hall, but there was no sign of Changle.
“Before swearing brotherhood, he had said that he didn’t want to implicate us. Now it seems that his words had a hidden meaning. Everyone think properly and recall if there was someone who recently offended him. I suspect that he has gone to take revenge.” Lu Pingchuan speculated.
The fatty shook his head and said, “It’s not likely, he’s been sick for these past few days, he hasn’t gone out.”
After the two people spoke, the mute gestured towards Nan Feng, who understood the intent, “The machete is missing, he’s taken the machete while going out!”
Everybody felt a big shock after hearing this. Leaving in the night while carrying a machete was a pretty serious matter.
“I’ll go out to look for him, you all don’t need to run all over the place.” Lu Pingchuan turned to leave.
“I’ll come along with you.” Chu Huairou followed behind.
“We’ll also go.” Nan Feng and Fatty also followed outside after the others.
Chu Huairou turned to wave at them, “You all stay behind.”
The group stopped their footsteps upon hearing this. Chu Huairou and Lu Pingchuan were their leaders and they would definitely comply with all of these two’s orders.
Even though they were staying in the broken temple, the four people were feeling restless. Never before had such a matter occurred. They were not only worried about the possibility that Changle might injure others, they were also worried about the possibility of others hurting Changle.
After the initial anxiety passed, Nan Feng calmed down, “Fatty, you were here in the temple all day yesterday, what happened in the afternoon?”
“Nothing happened, after you all went out Changle and I went to the forest at the back to gather firewood. After that the rain started, so I had him return ahead of me.” Fatty said.
“How was his state of mind at that time?” Nan Feng asked.
“Very Good.” Fatty replied.
“What was he doing when you came back?” Nan Feng asked again.
Fatty thought for a bit the said, “When I returned he was already lying down, when I spoke to him, he didn’t answer me. I thought that he had fallen asleep and didn’t think much of it.”
“When you came back was there somebody else in the temple?” Nan Feng was trying to get to the heart of the matter.
“Nobody, just him alone.” Fatty said shaking his head.
Nan Feng didn’t ask any further. He had wanted to understand the reason for the unusual state of Changle’s mind, but after reaching this point he felt like he had met an impasse.
After a short while, Fatty suddenly remembered an incident, “No wait, someone had returned. After I came back, I saw that there was an bag of medicine on the table.”
“I had brought that bag of medicine.” Mo Li interjected.
Nan Feng turned his head to look at Mo Li, “What was Changle doing when you came back?”
“He was carrying the wood into the temple.” Mo Li said.
“Did you talk to him?” Nan Feng asked.
“I talked to him. When I was returned I had run into Elder Brother. Elder Brother stopped me on the street. The more anxious I was to leave, the more he stopped me from leaving. He asked many questions while holding on to me.” Mo Li was somewhat frightened.
“What questions did he ask? Tell slowly, there is no urgency.” Nan Feng said in a comforting voice.
“He asked me where the medicine came from. I told him that Eldest Sister had arranged it. After that he asked me where I got it from, I told him from the Life-Saving Medicine Shop. After that he again asked whether Eldest Sister and I entered the medicine shop. He also asked how long Eldest Sister waited in the medicine shop, and he even asked why I returned alone. I think he also asked me about some other things, but I don’t remember.” Mo Li panickingly looked at Nan Feng, “I really am telling the truth, believe me I am not lying.”
After Mo Li finished speaking, Nan Feng turned his head to look towards Fatty, “Did you personally see Changle flip that bowl of medicine?”
“Yes.” Fatty nodded.
Nan Feng turned to gesture to the mute, hinting her to stay in the temple and look after Mo Li. Then he turned to beckon at the fatty, “Come quickly with me to Life-Saving Medicine Shop.”
“What are we going to the medicine shop for?” Fatty didn’t walk over.
“Changle is going to kill that medicine shop’s doctor.” Nan Feng rushed out.
The heart of the matter was now made very clear. Changle suspected that Eldest Sister, in order to treat his illness, had used her body to trade for medicine with the doctor. Moreover, Life-Saving Medicine Shop’s doctor reputation seemed to be quite bad, which had aggravated Changle’s suspicion. Changle overturned that bowl of medicine because he felt that bowl of medicine was filthy and the reason why he wanted to kill that doctor because he wants to take revenge for Eldest Sister. Furthermore, the biggest reason was that his self-respect had been hurt. Even a young man is still a man, some humiliations a man cannot withstand.
After leaving the broken temple, Nan Feng started into an all out run. The Life-saving Medicine Shop was about five li away from the broken temple, but owing to the prior delay, there was not much time left. Changle should probably have already reached Life-saving Medicine Shop.
“Nan Feng, wait for me.” Fatty shouted from behind.
Nan Feng was feeling anxious and didn’t slow down in the least.
Fatty shouted again, “We won’t be able to do anything empty handed, we must find the guy.”
“What guy?” Nan Feng asked without turning his head.
“Naturally that guy who is the source of quarrel. That old bastard bullied eldest sister, we must kill him.” Fatty was finding it increasingly difficult while he panted heavily.
“Who would you be able to beat.” Nan Feng frowned greatly. He indeed feared that Changle would kill someone, but what he feared even more was Changle killing the wrong person. This was all Changle’s own conjectures, it is not certain whether the actual situation was like that.
The Life-saving Medicine Shop had a very big courtyard all around it. When they were about 100 or so steps away from the medicine shop, a sad shrill scream came from the backyard of the medicine shop. The scream belonged to a woman and it seemed exceptionally jarring in the peaceful early hours of the morning.
Nan Feng’s heart went cold. After hearing this, he stepped up his pace. The Life-saving medicine shop had two gates, one was the main entrance located due south, and another was a small entrance to the north-west. The small door was open at this time, at this time it was already close to 3-5 AM, and the hazy colour of the early morning was already visible. From outside the door a dead dog could be seen lying in the kennel outside the gate, and not far away from there there was even a dead chicken. Looking at it closely, it seemed to be the same chicken that everyone had used to swear brotherhood last night.
Nan Feng didn’t think too much, and after passing through the gate he ran towards the central building towards the north. The gate of the main room was also open. After Nan Feng burst through that door, the scene present in front of him made him suck in a gasp of cold air. There was a shorts-wearing stout man lying down on the ground five steps from the door. His neck had been almost cut off, barely connected to the rest of the body. There was blood everywhere in the room. A middle-aged woman was shrinking in the corner trembling in fear, begging for mercy in incoherent words.
Changle at this time was standing at the center of the room, picking up the teapot from the table to wet his throat, while the machete in his hand was still dripping blood.
This terrifying scene frightened Nan Feng as he almost vomited several times from the strong smell of blood in the room. Only when Changle put down the teapot was he able to respond, as he rushed over to pull Changle, “Run quickly.”
However, he didn’t expect that Changle instead of following him would rather try to furiously break free himself from his grasp, “I won’t run. You should hurry up and leave this place.”
Nan Feng hadn’t even replied yet when the two assistants from the front courtyard of the shop came running to the backyard.
Nan Feng didn’t speak anything else, and once again grabbed Changle’s wrist before dragging him out.
Changle was a head taller than Nan Feng, and even had greater strength. Usually, Nan Feng wouldn’t have been able to drag Changle like this, but he was already sick, moreover, he had been fueled solely by his rage in the battle just a while ago. As the anger subsided, he had nearly collapsed leading into him being dragged out by Nan Feng.
When the two shop assistants saw two people exiting the main house, and saw Changle carrying a machete, they immediately knew that something really bad had happened. The older amongst the two took out a shoulder pole from the corner in the passing, “Who are you two?”
“Ah Fu, Master’s been killed by them.” The woman wailed from inside the main house.
That shop-assistant named Ah Fu after hearing the yell of Master-wife, didn’t dare go forward. He just kept shouting loudly in a bluff while holding the pole intimidatingly.
The younger shop-assistant couldn’t find anything to arm himself, so he picked up a broom in his hand, “I know them, they are the little beggars from the temple.”
“That man was killed by me, my brothers had nothing to do with it. You all can arrest me and take me to the authorities.” Changle once again thought of struggling free from Nan Feng’s grasp.
Seeing that shop-assistant come towards them, Nan Feng snatched the blade from Changle’s hands, “Don’t come over, don’t come over.”
The two shop-assistants were taller than them, and once they could clearly see that those two were just half-adults, their timidness gradually went away. On one side, they cried murder, on the other side, they tried to attack the two people.
Nan Feng swung the machete but it was only a cun long, and the shoulder pole had more reach than the machete. Ah Fu kept swinging the shoulder pole with all his strength, whilst Nan Feng kept dragging Changle who was reluctant to leave. It was not easy to dodge, and they were beaten quite a few times in succession.
While Nan Feng was cursing his never-ending grievances, Fatty came rushing in through the outside gate holding a piece of the gate’s top as a rod and sneak-attacked from behind knocking down Ah Fu.
“What are you doing looking blanked out, run quickly.” The fatty immediately after the sneak-attack dashed to chase and beat the other one.
Nan Feng took the opportunity to drag Changle out. Just as they came out of the gate, they discovered Lu Pingchuan and Chu Huairou coming there running from the north.
When the two people came near and saw the machete in Nan Feng’s hand coupled with Changle’s wooden face, they vaguely guessed what had happened.
“Was the Doctor killed by him?” Lu Pingchuan looked at Nan Feng.
“Yes.” The arrival of the two made Nan Feng feel a lot more relieved, “Eldest Brother, they have recognized us.”
Lu Pingchuan frowned when he heard that, but he didn’t panic and after some quick thinking he said, “We can no longer stay at the broken temple, Huairou, you take Changle away. I will return to the broken temple and take away Mo Li and Big Eyes. Nan Feng you partner up with Fatty, and go separately.”
“Where would be the point of rendezvous?” Chu Huairou asked.
Lu Pingchuan shook his head, “It would be too conspicuous to gather together, walk separately, one by one we would be able to get away.”
Chu Huairou nodded and began pulling Changle whilst running southward.
“Huairou, did Changle kill him wrongly?” Lu Pingchuan asked.
Chu Huairou looked back, but didn’t answer Lu Pingchuan’s question. Only looked at the two people with a glance and hurriedly ran away whilst pulling along Changle.