Chapter 23: Witchcraft

"The official version is that it was a series of suicides, but our department believes that it might be the work of supernatural forces," Song Longji said, the expression on his face unsightly.

I shook my head. "Nah, that shouldn't be the case."

Song Longji asked curiously, "Mister Zhang, what’s your opinion on the matter?"

I explained, "Someone is feeding the Human Bones Necklace. If the Human Bones Necklace is worn for a prolonged period of time, its effects will be greatly reduced. Therefore, to recharge the necklace, one must feed it human intestines. In short... we’re dealing with three murder cases and not suicides."

"Murder cases?" Song Longji looked at me, shocked. "Do you mean that it was a third party that made the victim swallow their intestines, sent the guts by mail, and laid them out on the ground in the shape of a heart? But, we didn’t find the fingerprints of a second person at any of the crime scenes! Don't look down on our police force. We’re very good at handling cases!"

I said with a smile, "I believe in your police force, but there are things that not even science can explain."

"Things that not even science can explain...?" Song Longji asked in puzzlement.

"Yes. For example... witchcraft."

"Witchcraft?" Song Longji seemed perplexed. The fact that I spoke in riddles probably gave him a headache.

Yin Xinyue was perfectly calm as she gazed at me with a look of adoration. "Mister Zhang, what do you suggest we do next?"

I said, "These cases indeed seem related to the Human Bones Necklace. However, there are several different kinds of Human Bones Necklaces. I'll need to investigate the origin of the item first!"

Yin Xinyue nodded, looking somewhat pensive.

Before taking action, Song Longji reminded, "You’ll be secretly cooperating with the police. Remember to keep a low profile."

If there was a need, he could give us a hand and make things easier.

I smiled and nodded.

As per my request, we went to check the house of the street cleaner; the first person to commit suicide.

I looked around, but the rented apartment seemed rather ordinary. There was just some furniture, and I found nothing suspicious.

The victim had died in the kitchen, and the police had used chalk to outline the corpse. The posture of the victim was rather strange. The legs were wide open, and the arms were raised; the position of the body reminded one of the Chinese character '大'.

Above the cooking stove was an iron pot, and the boiled intestines turned out to be still inside. The contents were greasy, and aside from the intestines, there were also stool and undigested food in the pot.

The sight alone was enough to make me feel sick. Seeing my strange expression, Yin Xinyue also came over and glanced at the contents of the pot.

In the next moment, her face turned green, and she started vomiting. I patted her back and urged her, "It's better if you wait for us outside."

Yin Xinyue hesitated a little but finally agreed, shooting me a grateful glance.

I picked up a nearby ladle and used it to stir the contents of the pot. The things that had sunk to the bottom resurfaced, but even after taking a careful look, I didn't find any clues.

I said, "I'm going out to buy a few things."

Song Longji suggested, "Isn't it better if you send one of the police officers outside?"

However, I declined his suggestion. The things I needed had to be up to standard, and someone that didn't understand the situation might choose them incorrectly.

I went to a nearby convenience store and bought two dying carps, some half-cooked oden, a carrot, a basket of eggs, and two pig bones.

When I returned with all that stuff, Song Longji opened his eyes wide and asked, "What are you planning to do with those things?"

Li Mazi laughed and replied, "Isn't it obvious? He's going to prepare a hot pot dish on the spot, using the stool as seasoning!"

We didn't expect that he’d get nauseated by his own joke. He turned his head around and started vomiting.

I ignored Li Mazi and lit the gas stove, stuffing everything I’d bought into the iron pot and letting it boil.

There were too many ingredients, and the pot was filled to the brim.

Song Longji glanced at the pot, and after hesitating for a short while, he quietly left the room. It seemed he couldn't bear to see what I was doing.

After Song Longji had left, Li Mazi asked me, "What are you doing? Are you cooking up some elixir that can nourish one's body or prolong one's life?"

I grinned and replied, "I'm cooking for the dead."

Li Mazi trembled. "C-Cooking for the dead? The dead can eat...?”

"You'll know very soon." I didn't have the time to manage Li Mazi. After the water in the pot started boiling, I grabbed the whole thing and went out.

From beginning to end, Song Longji had his brows furrowed. However, he didn't ask questions and opened the door of the police car, bringing us to the morgue where the body of the street cleaner was stored.

Perhaps because everyday life was too stressful, Hong Kong was a city with a relatively high suicide rate, and the police had placed all suicide victims in the same morgue.

For this reason, the corpse of the street cleaner wasn't there alone, and several other suicide victims were lying beside it.

My complexion changed. "This won't work. If we want to find out information about the Human Bones Necklace, we must bring our victim to a separate room."

Song Longji made a call and informed the hospital.

However, the staff was also at its wit's end; the morgue was already full. If we wanted a separate room, the only option was to head to the crematory.

Since there were no other alternatives, I told Song Longji to contact the crematory and move the body there.

When the corpse of the street cleaner was pulled out of the mortuary fridge, I carefully examined its belly.

I discovered that there was a circular wound on its abdomen. From the looks of it, the victim had used a sharp and round object to slash its belly and cut it open.

The autopsy only stated that the belly of the deceased had been slashed open, and there were no other details. Maybe not even the forensic expert knew how to explain this situation.

No matter how strong one's willpower was, it was almost impossible to withstand the pain of having their belly slashed open like that.

I asked Song Longji, "Did you find traces of anesthetic in the body of the victim?"

Song Longji shook his head. "No, we haven't."

I nodded and came up with a plan in my mind.

We quickly transported the body to the crematory, placing it in an isolated room.

I grabbed the pot and placed it beside the corpse, saying to Song Longji, "Don't let anyone in until tomorrow morning. You can only enter after I give you permission!"

Song Longji nodded. "I'll tell the police officers to stand on guard."

I suggested, "It's better if you do it personally. This is something very important!"

Song Longji agreed to my suggestion.

Next, Li Mazi, Yin Xinyue, and I returned to our hotel.

After returning to the hotel, we were overcome by boredom. As a result, Li Mazi and I decided to stroll through the city. Hong Kong was a bustling place, and since we were already there, it would be a pity not to take a look around.

I asked Yin Xinyue, "Do you want to come as well?"

She didn't hesitate and agreed. "Sure, I can even show you guys around."

Outside of working hours, Yin Xinyue was rather likable and active. She talked endlessly as she told us about Hong Kong's scenic spots. I felt like we weren’t only business partners but friends.

And, maybe she also felt the same?

It was regrettable that we couldn’t get a taste of Hong Kong's dishes. After everything that had happened today, we didn't really feel like eating.

We kept strolling until 10 PM and were dead tired by the time we got back.

Yin Xinyue blurted out, "I-I'm too scared to sleep alone..."

I suggested, "How about coming to our room? Li Mazi and I can sleep on the sofa, and you can sleep on the bed."

Yin Xinyue readily agreed, and Li Mazi was obviously delighted.

The next day, we headed to the crematory very early in the morning.

Song Longji was sitting on a bench outside the morgue, fiddling with his phone. After seeing us, he got up and greeted us.

I smiled and asked Song Longji, "Did you notice any strange movements in the morgue last night?"

The corners of Song Longji's mouth twitched. "Why? Was there supposed to be any movement?"

I gave him a meaningful glance and laughed. Then, without bothering to explain, I told him to open the door.

The interior of the morgue was as cold as before, and I couldn't help but sneeze after entering.

Song Longji turned on the lights, and the first thing I did was to look for the iron pot.

I discovered that the pot I’d carefully placed beside the body had been overturned, and the food inside was scattered everywhere.

Upon seeing this scene, Song Longji was scared out of his wits. "I'm sure that no one entered this place last night!"

I comforted him, "Yes, I'm aware."

Yin Xinyue turned her face to one side as she couldn't bear to look at the scene.

I took out a pair of chopsticks and started to gather the food lying on the ground.

Although the food was swollen due to staying in the pot for too long, I could still tell what it was.

The two carps were still there, and the only difference were the holes in their bodies. It felt as if someone had poked through them with their fingers. The oden was there, the leaf vegetables were there, the eggs were there, and the pig bones were there as well.

Song Longji pinched his nose and asked, "What did you discover from this scattered food?"

I smiled and put down the chopsticks. "Haven't you discovered that there’s something amiss?"

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