All eyes turned to me when everyone heard Sun Tiger’s question.
“Are you referring to the Triple Divination Technique, Uncle Sun?” I asked. “The technique might indeed pinpoint Li Wenjia’s location. But I’m afraid she’s made too many deliberate plans in her actions and movements that even this technique can’t help us much.”
It took me a very long time to master this advanced technique. It involved the knowledge in the Eight Trigrams and the I Ching. It was invented by a Song family member who was an expert in divination texts. The chapter that dealt with this subject was one of the most esoteric chapters in The Chronicles of Grand Magistrates.
In short, this technique coupled the knowledge of elements and a complex set of deductions to allow divination of some information about the criminal. This process was divided into three sections—human divination, earth divination, and heavenly divination. Human divination provided information about the criminal’s age, appearance and physical attributes like height and weight; earth divination would yield the whereabouts of the criminal; and heavenly divination, the most mysterious technique, could predict the next time and place. Heavenly divination was too advanced and complicated though, and so far, no one had ever been successful in implementing it.
Once I described how it was impossible for me to use the technique in this case, Sun Tiger turned to other subjects and continued to discuss the case with the officers. He was in the middle of a sentence when I suddenly asked, “Uncle Sun, did you say that a dozen people had gone missing?”
It was very impolite to interrupt the leader of the task force during the case meeting, but Sun Tiger not only didn’t mind it, he even appeared pleasantly surprised.
“Got an idea, kiddo?” he asked enthusiastically.
“Yes!” I answered. “I need to know the last spot all those people were seen before they went missing, the most detailed map of Nanjiang City, and a compass!”
“Get all those things ready now!” ordered Sun Tiger with a slam on the table.
Ten minutes later, everyone returned to the same meeting room. I asked for the curtains to be drawn, then I lit up an incense and planted it in a bowl filled with soil. A few police officers started snickering behind my back at my seemingly pointless actions. Sun Tiger immediately swept a terrifying glance at them, which made them stop abruptly.
I unfurled the map on the table and marked the locations where the people went missing, then painted eight hexagrams in eight directions. Because the table was too big, I went up on the table and crouched over the map. I made calculations while holding the compass and began to recite an ancient text that Grandpa taught me.
At first, I felt a little embarrassed about it, but later I was so focused in the procedure that everything else around me blurred. When the incense was about to burn out, I had produced a result and marked a specific location.
The police officers who snickered earlier might’ve thought that the incense was burned to contact a spirit, but in fact, I did it according to an instruction found in The Chronicles of Grand Magistrates, which posited that the Triple Divination Technique must be completed before an incense was burnt out, otherwise it just wouldn’t work.
Everyone crowded around me. Sun Tiger pointed at the location that I marked and said, “This is… an old paper mill?”
I had merely pinpointed the location based on the calculation according to the technique, so I didn’t know what kind of place it was at all. At that time, hours had passed and I suddenly realized that my legs were both numb. Xiaotao had to help me get off the table.
“Get some officers to search this location,” I suggested while massaging my numb legs. “Li Wenjia and the missing people are probably there right now.”
“Wait a second,” an officer interrupted. “Sir, I know you believe in this spiritual technique, but we’re very skeptical about it.”
Many officers in the room nodded in agreement.
“I can guarantee you that this will work!” replied Sun Tiger firmly. “There are many mysterious things in this world. Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean that it’s all gobbledygook.”
“But if you can just take a compass and pinpoint a criminal’s location, what’s the use of the police?” scoffed the officer.
“If you don’t want to do your job, then get out!” Sun Tiger growled.
I understood the officers’ feelings. They’d never seen anyone attempt anything like this, so it was natural for them to be very skeptical. I knew I had to find a way to convince them.
“You’ve all heard of psychological profiling, haven’t you?” I asked them.
“Well, this is just another type of technique similar to it,” I explained. “In the west, this would be called geographical profiling. The criminal’s hideout can be inferred based on the general characteristics of the crimes they committed. It involves knowledge in statistical data and the psychology of the criminal’s mind. Trust me, if you search the location that I’ve marked, you’ll find Li Wenjia there!”
The crowd still hesitated, but Sun Tiger broke the silence abruptly when he roared, “Go now!”
They all left in a haste. Xiaotao and I were about to join them too, but Sun Tiger stopped us.
“Go get some rest, both of you,” he said. “You’ve been staying up all night. Let me handle this.”
We were both dog tired, so we didn’t argue. The table in the conference room was too uncomfortable to sleep on, so Xiaotao suggested, “Let’s go sleep in my car!”
We got into her car and put the seats down. Just as I was settled in, Xiaotao turned to me and murmured, “I’m sorry, Song Yang.”
“What’s the matter?” I asked with a chuckle.
“I promised you we’d go to the Wuyi Mountains together after the last case, but now it seems that I have to bail on you again.”
“It’s fine. We’ll have more opportunities to go in the future.”
“By the way, is that technique of yours really that good?” she asked while yawning. “You should teach me how to do it sometime…”
“You see,” I began to explain. “This Triple Divination Technique involves…”
Before I continued, I heard a soft snoring sound. I turned to Xiaotao and found her already dozing off. I smiled and put her jacket over her. I settled into the seat myself and within seconds, I fell asleep too.
It felt like I had just closed my eyes moments ago when Xiaotao’s phone rang. She jolted awake and bumped her head. She answered the call while massaging her head. When she hung up the phone, she told me, “Song Yang, you’re a genius! Li Wenjia has been found!”
“Has she been captured?” I asked excitedly.
“No,” replied Xiaotao. “Sun Tiger told me she’s holding hostages, but the special squad’s been dispatched there as we speak!”
This was both good news and bad news. The good news was that Li Wenjia could now be officially charged for kidnapping. The bad news was that capturing her would be very, very difficult.
Xiaotao started the car immediately. I checked the time and realized that we’d slept for half an hour. It was a good rest, and although my body was still exhausted, my mind was now very clear and I felt ready for the final confrontation with Li Wenjia.
The location where Li Wenjia was found was a long-abandoned paper mill in the northern suburbs of Nanjiang City. Everything inside had been sold off or discarded, so all that was left was an empty building.
When we arrived, there were a number of police cars parked outside the paper mill and an army of heavily-armed police officers. A line of anti-riot police cars were parked against the wall. There seemed to be something on the roof, and I asked Xiaotao what it was. Xiaotao smiled and replied that it was not a thing, but a sniper. It turned out that there were no high-rise buildings in the surrounding area to hide in, so they had to resort to this method.
Once we got out of the car, I saw that Sun Tiger was taking full charge of the situation. As we passed a number of police officers, I saw them looking at me with eyes full of respect and awe.
Xiaotao asked Sun Tiger what was happening, and he explained that Li Wenjia was holding a dozen people as hostages and was hiding in the warehouse. They sent a hostage negotiator in there to deal with Li Wenjia.
I heard someone shouting over a loudspeaker inside the paper mill. Worriedly, I asked Sun Tiger, “Did the negotiator go in there alone?”
“Of course not,” he answered. “We heeded your advice and sent another police officer with him.”
Xiaotao suddenly stood straight and said, “Sir, I request bringing in a team of officers to attack!”
“Absolutely not,” Sun Tiger refused immediately. “The situation isn’t ripe for that yet. I order you to rest for the time being and leave it to the special squadron.”
“But Li Wenjia isn’t an ordinary criminal,” I interrupted anxiously. “I’m not sure if the special squadron can deal with her, Uncle Sun. Besides, she still has Wang Yuanchao with her.”
I had no doubts that Wang Yuanchao alone could defeat the entire special squadron. Even worse, he was most probably hypnotized by Li Wenjia at the moment, so he could be doing very brash things with no regard of self-preservation at all.
Right at that moment, we heard a gunshot coming from inside the paper mill. We saw a police officer rushing towards us.
“Sir!” he shouted. “The negotiator’s been shot and killed!”
1. Also known as Bagua.