I whipped my head around and saw a middle-aged man leaning against the wall with a cigarette in his mouth. He looked ordinary, just like a middle-aged uncle you would see in the vegetable market, but his eyes were very cold.
I never imagined the Dog Trainer would show himself so easily.
"Why set up Xiaotao?" I asked.
The dog trainer sneered, "Did I set her up? It’s obvious that she killed my client on impulse. Think about it, why would I kill my client? Do you know how much money I’ve lost?"
When he spoke, his expression was extraordinarily calm without the slightest sign of lying. But I didn’t actually believe he was truthful. This man had definitely undergone professional training and could lie without batting an eyelid.
"So, you admit that you were cleaning up after the four young masters?"
I reached into my pocket and secretly turned on the recording app.
The Dog Trainer saw through my trick at a glance, "Kiddo, out of my appreciation for you, I decided to meet you in person. Yet here you are recording our conversation. You’re being rude!"
I sighed, took out my cell phone and turned it off in front of him.
"That's much better," he smiled.
"Let’s get back to our conversation!" I snapped.
"Apologies, kiddo. I have no obligation to answer you. But I can tell you something else. The organization has ordered me to get rid of you at all costs. As you know, I am a man of skills. If you join us... " he trailed off.
Before he could finish speaking, I roared, "Dream on!”
"Don't be so impulsive, young man,” he said, placing his hand back into his pocket. “I will give you a choice. If you join us, Huang Xiaotao will be proven innocent and of course, you’ll get your benefits."
"Let's hear it then," I sneered.
"I spent a lot of time getting to know you, even losing some of my precious pieces..." he explained.
His words had me knocked for six. It turned out that he had arranged Deng Chao’s attack.
The Dog Trainer added, "The more I got to know you, the more I appreciated you. You’re a rare genius! What an insult it would be to speak of money to you! In fact, deep down, you and I are both the same kind of people. We’re not bound by the rules and we long for darkness. We’ve merely chosen different paths. What you’re doing now is nothing more than giving others the glory. Are you satisfied with that? Don't you think the world has festered into a foul mess? I think you have long felt the weakness of the law. You lie to yourself so you’ll feel better. But what the world needs is a powerful system to correct it."
"Put away your bullshit,” I gritted my teeth. “My patience is short."
The Dog Trainer slowly removed the cigarette from his lips, "You can secretly join us. No one else will know about this. You can still keep your job as a criminal consultant. The organization can give you all the resources to make you the best detective. You’ll solve many more cases than before. More importantly, you’ll hold your own fate and the fate of others in your own hands. It’s like being God. Once you get a taste of that feeling, you’ll be addicted to it!”
Inexplicable anger boiled inside of me. "Enough with your sweet words. In my opinion, you guys are the biggest cancer of this world. I won't join you."
"In fact, more than one Song family member has said this,” he scoffed. “Let me tell you a secret. In truth, someone in the Song family has joined our organization. How do you think the Song family has survived thus far?" A smirk rose to his lips.
"You’re lying!" I exclaimed.
"Why should I lie to you? In fact, that person is..."
Right then, I felt a hand cover my mouth from behind. I looked up, only to stare into Song Xingchen's aloof face. It was as if lightning had struck me. How could it be?
Song Xingchen's hands were stained with fine powder. I struggled desperately, well aware that once I fell into the hands of the Dog Trainer, I would be beyond redemption.
"Breathe, you’re poisoned,” came Song Xingchen’s solemn order.
Stunned, I did as he asked and a cool, refreshing sensation immediately soothed my head. Only then did I realize the abnormality of my mood swings. Song Xingchen pulled me behind him, the Tang Sword at his waist slightly unsheathed. "There’s Mind Shrouding Incense in his pocket!"
I had come across it in books. It was a colorless, odorless spice that could volatilize on its own. Inhalation would increase the heartbeat and make one emotional to the extent of losing their senses and judgment.
The Dog Trainer took out a small smoking bamboo tube from his pocket and smiled, "The martial Song really deserves their reputation." Then, he covered the bamboo tube.
Song Xingchen swiftly pulled out his sword. "I admire your courage. But I hope your skills are equally as good."
"You can't kill me because I have hostages!" the Dog Trainer shook his finger.
"I don't believe it!" I cried.
He slowly counted, "One, two, three..."
Suddenly, my cell phone rang, not a phone call but a notification from QQ video. Upon connecting the video call, I saw Dali sleeping as a leather glove covered hand held a knife a few centimeters away from his neck.
Then the video turned to Bingxin who was sleeping as well. Taken from the window, the video showed a red dot on Bingxin's forehead.
The video switched to someone else once more. It was Sun Tiger sitting at his desk, smoking while sipping on hot tea as he perused some files in his hand. He was completely oblivious to the red dot on his forehead.
I gasped at the unfathomability of the man. He had everything arranged beforehand because he was certain I would show up at the scene.
"Do you know why the righteous can't defeat us?" He scoffed, “It’s because you have too many weaknesses. In fact, you can kill me right now. After all, it’s worth my while to exchange three lives for mine."
"Are you threatening me with my friends’ lives?” I clenched my fists. “But let me warn you, their lives can only be used as collateral once! If they die, I will destroy you by any means necessary."
"You misunderstand,” he smiled sinisterly. “I'm not some low criminal. I have my own style. I’ve also said that I admire you very much. I hope you can join us on your own free will."
"I’ve already said it’s impossible," I snapped.
"Song Yang, why don't you do something for me?" blurted the Dog Trainer.
I frowned as I listened to him continue, "I have a client on hand, who’s bound to stir up trouble every seven days without fail. I am tired of wiping his ass! Last night, he went out to have fun again. Now there’s a body lying in Mount Treasure Park. I want you to destroy the evidence before the police get there so my client is protected from accusations."
"Why should I agree to that?!" I fumed.
"Because if you refuse, one of your three friends will die. And if you complete the task, they will live. You’ll receive a big reward as well. I'll give it to you one day. On top of that, I’ve prepared a car and a driver for your convenience. The tools you need are in the car. There’s also this..."
The Dog Trainer walked up to me and stuffed a hotel room card into my hand. "Don't let me down, Great Detective Song!" he grinned, patting my shoulder.
Listening to his footsteps fade away in the distance, my heart was like a ball of tangled yarn. Yet my only option was to turn around and leave the neighborhood.
From behind me came Song Xingchen’s voice, "You mustn’t agree! Do you know what this means?"
I nodded, failing to hide the loss and helplessness in my tone. "I know. That means walking into his trap!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter