Chapter 158: “Sense of Ritual”
When they arrived at Ah Fu’s Gun Shop’s back door, Jiang Baimian and Shang Jianyao saw An Ruxiang waiting there.
In a room on the second floor, Bai Chen and Long Yuehong—who had also been woken up—monitored their surroundings through the window to prevent any accidents from happening.
Under the moonlight at night, An Ruxiang held the lower-left half of her bandaged abdomen. There were obvious traces of blood on her hands and clothes.
“Are you alright?” Jiang Baimian asked in concern.
“It’s fine.” An Ruxiang was rather calm. It was obvious that her injuries weren’t too serious.
Jiang Baimian heaved a sigh of relief. “Let’s talk upstairs.”
They had a first-aid kit in their room, which could handle the wound better and prevent any subsequent infections.
After she was done, Jiang Baimian said to Gu Changle, “Go back. Don’t worry about anything that happens later. If you get involved, it will bring you unnecessary trouble.”
Gu Changle thought about her child and didn’t put on a brave front. She left Shang Jianyao’s room.
After closing the wooden door, Jiang Baimian turned around and looked at An Ruxiang. “What happened?”
Jiang Baimian was in no rush to ask because An Ruxiang was in no rush to answer. This meant that there was no urgency. It was impossible to catch the murderer, even if they learned about it more than ten minutes earlier.
An Ruxiang calmly said, “I was attacked.”
“Attacked?” Jiang Baimian was slightly surprised. From her point of view, a direct attack wasn’t Father’s style.
An Ruxiang methodically explained everything. “I had a job as a temporary teacher elsewhere at night, teaching reading to people who are busy until late. After 11:30, I returned from West Street to where I lived. On the way, I encountered someone.”
After 8:30 p.m., only West Street and North Street didn’t have an electric blackout. The ‘temporary classroom’ was at a student’s home.
Shang Jianyao interrupted and asked, “Did he look very thin and ill while wearing a black trench coat?”
An Ruxiang wasn’t surprised, and she nodded. “Yes.”
“It’s really him.” Shang Jianyao smiled.
An Ruxiang continued, “He walked in front of me and said, ‘Ma’am, knowledge is the root cause of the Old World’s destruction.’ I’ve always been very wary of such baffling people, and I also recalled the investigation you did this afternoon. Without giving him a chance to continue, I directly drew my dagger and told him to stay away from me.”
It’s indeed An Ruxiang’s style… Jiang Baimian nodded slightly, knowing that the development changed from that point onward.
Shang Jianyao inexplicably asked, “Why didn’t you fire?”
“Back then, I only wanted to scare that person away. It was also easier to pull out the dagger,” An Ruxiang explained simply. “Fortunately, I pulled out a dagger, not a gun.”
“Oh?” Jiang Baimian expressed her confusion with her tone.
An Ruxiang pointed at the wound on her left abdomen. “My hand suddenly lost control, and I stabbed myself.”
“Another Awakened ability…” Jiang Baimian wasn’t too surprised, but she became more vigilant.
“I think so too.” An Ruxiang had also seen Superior Heartless, and she had come into contact with Awakened Ruin Hunters. “If I were holding a gun, I might very well have shot myself.”
“Then?” Jiang Baimian asked.
An Ruxiang’s expression changed slightly. “That person didn’t take the opportunity to attack me, nor did he leave directly. He stood there, looked at me, and continued speaking. ‘You are poisoning humans. Please stop this behavior immediately, or the Kalendaria’s noose will come for you.
“I controlled myself and didn’t attack him again. After he said that, he turned around and left.”
“He’s nuts!” Jiang Baimian cursed sincerely.
Shang Jianyao sighed in understanding. “How ritualistic.”
When Jiang Baimian glanced at Shang Jianyao, An Ruxiang ended the conversation. “I then bandaged myself simply and came to find you.”
It was just past midnight.
“That’s the Anti-intellectualism Church. The person who attacked you might have a nickname—Father.” Jiang Baimian revealed some of the information she had.
Shang Jianyao then shook his head. “He’s so pitiful.”
“Huh?” Jiang Baimian failed to grasp Shang Jianyao’s thoughts this time.
Shang Jianyao sighed and said sincerely, “This is the consequence of anti-intellectual education. You have to do everything yourself, and your subordinates are useless. They will only be a burden.”
Jiang Baimian smiled. “Indeed. The three consecutive attacks were personally carried out by Father. As a leader, that’s too degrading. Even I feel tired for him.”
At this point, Jiang Baimian muttered to herself thoughtfully, “It’s no wonder he wants to control Lei Yunsong, Lin Feifei, and the others. To the Anti-intellectualism Church, good helpers are too rare… Yes, the other reason might be to frame others and sow discord.”
Jiang Baimian suspected that the Anti-intellectualism Church had attacked Lei Yunsong and company because they knew that they were employees of Pangu Biology. They then controlled them to do things that would seriously offend Weed City and First City, thereby inciting a conflict between two major factions.
An Ruxiang often paid attention to the missions issued by the Hunter’s Guild, so she knew about Lei Yunsong and Lin Feifei. She didn’t find Jiang Baimian’s ‘muttering’ strange.
Jiang Baimian quickly gathered her thoughts and said to An Ruxiang, “Sleep here tonight. Go to the city defense forces at dawn and report the matter. Then, cooperate with them and issue a mission at the guild to find the Anti-intellectualism Church’s leader, nicknamed Father.”
An Ruxiang was unrelated to Lei Yunsong, Lin Feifei, and the others. They didn’t have to worry about alerting the enemy.
“Why not now?” An Ruxiang asked.
“The city defense forces can’t do anything in the middle of the night. We still have to wait for the guild to open,” Jiang Baimian explained. “Besides, there’s a small problem that needs to be resolved.”
An Ruxiang didn’t press any further. “Alright.”
Shang Jianyao raised his hand. “Where should I sleep?”
“Of course, you’ll sleep in your own bed.” Jiang Baimian rolled her eyes at him. “An Ruxiang will squeeze in with me.”
“Abusing the injured,” Shang Jianyao said.
“Alright then!” Jiang Baimian bluntly said, “An Ruxiang will sleep on your bed. You can either squeeze in with Long Yuehong—who’s in the opposite room—or sleep on the stool.”
Although An Ruxiang didn’t understand the interaction between the two, she didn’t interfere with other people’s habits. She followed the arrangement and lay on the bed, preparing to sleep.
Shang Jianyao took the opportunity to go next door and told Bai Chen and Long Yuehong what had happened.
He didn’t stay the night. He returned to his room and sat on the stool in front of the table, entering a sleeping posture.
After an unknown period of time, An Ruxiang suddenly woke up and realized that her neck was hanging in a ‘rope loop.’ The hands holding the loop were her own.
The ‘rope loop’ was connected to the bunk bed’s top bunk. It was enough to hang her to death.
The one that woke An Ruxiang up was Shang Jianyao. His eyes were bright and spirited under the moonlight.
Jiang Baimian—who was lying on the top bunk bed—woke up as well. She lay there and looked down.
An Ruxiang let her neck leave the ‘rope loop’ and asked hesitantly, “Did I do it myself?”
“This is the small problem that needs to be resolved,” Jiang Baimian explained with a smile.
According to Zeng Guangwang’s experience, there should only be one ‘suicide’ brought about by hypnosis. Of course, it might not necessarily flare up when sleeping.
An Ruxiang recalled what she had seen and heard. “Hypnosis?”
“Something like that.” Jiang Baimian didn’t say anything else.
She didn’t get Shang Jianyao to use Inference Clowning to eliminate the hypnotic effects. On the one hand, she didn’t know the characteristics of Father’s ability and was afraid that they would miss something and end up harming An Ruxiang. On the other hand, she didn’t want to expose Shang Jianyao’s Awakened ability unless necessary.
“Is this matter considered resolved?” An Ruxiang inquired cautiously.
“In theory,” Jiang Baimian replied. “Continue sleeping, and we’ll observe.”
If it were anyone else, they would definitely feel a little uncomfortable when they heard this. After all, very few people could get used to sleeping under the gazes of others. However, An Ruxiang had no problems at all and quickly fell asleep.
This time, she slept until dawn.
After breakfast, they split up and went out just before 8:30. They went to the city defense forces and the Hunter’s Guild to find Oudick.
Jiang Baimian and Shang Jianyao had just entered the lobby when they saw Oudick sitting at the edge of the waiting area.
“Good morning.” Shang Jianyao greeted him energetically. There was no sign of him not sleeping the entire night.
Oudick nodded in response. He then pointed at the stairwell and said, “Castellan Xu wants to meet you.”
“Alright.” Jiang Baimian agreed without hesitation. This was what she hoped for.
Jiang Baimian followed Oudick to the second floor. After walking for about ten meters, Jiang Baimian suddenly turned her head and looked at Shang Jianyao.
Shang Jianyao looked back. After a few seconds, he nodded.
After arriving at the end of the corridor, Oudick stopped outside a room guarded by four armed personnel.
After communicating in low voices for a while, they obtained permission to enter after handing their guns over.
The room was large, and the lighting was sufficient, making it appear rather bright.
Inside were a large desk and two rows of bookshelves. A few key areas were guarded by armed bodyguards.
Sitting behind the desk was a young man in his twenties. He wore a somewhat old black top, and his hair was neatly combed back as if he wanted to appear more mature.
The young man had a medium build and relatively deep facial features—a hint of having some Red River blood in him.
“Castellan Xu, they’re here.” Oudick took two steps forward.
Xu Liyan nodded slightly and pointed at the chairs opposite his desk. “Have a seat.”
Beside Xu Liyan stood a rather tall person. This person wore a hooded robe that concealed him from top to bottom.
After a greeting, Jiang Baimian naturally sat down with Shang Jianyao.
Xu Liyan swept his gaze across their faces, and he thoughtfully asked, “Are you guys together with Lei Yunsong, Lin Feifei, and the others?”
“We were investigating the reason for their disappearance.” Jiang Baimian avoided the topic and asked, “Castellan Xu, what did they inquire about back then?”
Xu Liyan smiled and said, “Something regarding Mechanical Paradise. They heard from somewhere that Mechanical Paradise had a ‘mainframe,’ which was operating before the Old World was destroyed.”