When we returned to the apartment, I found a pair of scissors stabbed into the electrical outlet in Meng Dongye’s bedroom. No wonder we lost electricity all of a sudden. Meng Dongye had truly gone crazy!
The resentful soul was still in the toilet, knocking on the door and complaining, “Release me! I want to finish my work!”
I found four disposable paper cups and wrote the names and birthdays of the authors on one cup each. After that, I burned some paper and scattered the ash on the coffee table, placing the paper cups on it before dropping an old coin in each cup. Then, I asked Li Mazi to open the bathroom.
A cold wind blew out from the toilet, and one of the paper cups snapped. I checked the information, seeing that it was the online author who wrote fantasy books. I used a marker and wrote ‘Xianxia – Xuanhuan’ on the bottom of the cup. Next, I took out the brush in which I had sealed one of the souls and broke it. Another cup snapped on the table. This time, it was the author who wrote mystery novels. I wrote ‘Mystery’ to mark the cup.
The magic brush must be significantly weakened. I calculated and guessed that we would have around one week left.
I spoke to the other two. “We should seize this moment. Tonight, we’ll get someone to finish the dead writers’ works. Do you know any writers?”
They shook their heads. I continued, “I have an old classmate who is a webnovel author. However, he writes about tomb robbers. He can’t do this for us.”
“Even if he can’t help you, you can ask him for some information. Since he works in this industry, I’m sure he knows someone in his network who can aid us,” said Yin Xinyue.
She had a point, so I immediately called that friend of mine. Since we hadn’t talked for years, when the line was through, I had to catch up with him. “Hey brother, how are you doing? Married yet?”
Then, I went straight to the main topic.
“Brother, I need your help. I need to find some writers to complete a few dropped novels. Do you know any authors who write fantasy, romance, sci-fi, or mystery genres? They must be reliable. I’m sure the pay will satisfy them.”
“Aren’t you working in the antique business? Why did you suddenly change to completing some incomplete novels?” My friend from the other end of the line sounded amazed.
“It’s a long story. If you’re interested, we’ll pick a date to talk. I’m sure hearing about the various situations I’ve been in throughout these years will be enough to give you plenty of ideas for a great novel.”
My old friend was excited. “Excellent! I’ve been worried lately since I couldn’t find any new inspiration. It’d be perfect if you could provide me with more material. All right, I’ll give you my editor’s contact. He manages a whole group of writers, a few hundred authors on Mars Novels. They’re skilled at what they do. I’m sure you’ll be able to find someone suitable.”
I thanked him, then hung up. He sent me a phone number within the next minute.
Yin Xinyue said, “I’m good at these sorts of conversations. Let me talk to the editor. You and Li Mazi can be at ease.”
I felt relieved now that Yin Xinyue was working on it. At this time, my primary concern was Meng Dongye’s whereabouts. Searching for a man in the vast city of Wuhan wasn’t different from looking for a needle in the middle of the sea. Moreover, since the area we had to search was so immense, even if we used a thousand tracking paper cranes, we wouldn’t sense him.
Nevertheless, the situation wasn’t completely hopeless. First, I could narrow the area that Meng Dongye could be hiding in. I rummaged through Meng Dongye’s house and found his ID and credit cards inside the bedside table. I guessed that he only had cash with him. He couldn’t get out of the city, and if he wanted to stay in a hotel, he couldn’t stay in a decent one that would require him to show his ID.
I found a spare backup phone of his, which stored many of his friends and relatives’ phone numbers. I took it and put it in my pocket.
Seeing as we finished preparing, we decided to leave. Since Li Mazi broke the lock, I asked him to find a locksmith to install a new one. After everything was done, we returned to my antique shop. It was already around eleven o’clock at night.
I asked Yin Xinyue and Li Mazi to go home and rest. Tomorrow, we would carry on with the plan.
The next morning, I called all of Meng Dongye’s friends and relatives. I told them that I was his assistant and he was missing. However, they told me they hadn’t seen him for a long time. After Meng Dongye’s parents discovered that their son was missing, they became very anxious. Through the call, I comforted them and utilized all of my abilities to calm the old couple.
Calling all of the numbers on his phone wasn’t helpful. I felt a little annoyed and smoked a cigarette. Li Mazi came looking for me. “Have you eaten yet? We should have lunch.”
It appeared that I was, indeed, hungry. We went to a Chongqing grilled fish restaurant, ordering two beers and a grilled fish. While eating, I asked Li Mazi to check the hotels that didn’t need the customers to show the ID within the city. We needed to know where Meng Dongye had been staying.
Li Mazi was worried. “Wuhan is a big city. There could be eight hundred or one thousand cheap hotels like that. How and where could I search for him?”
“If the two of us can’t find him, we should hire some private investigators. We must find him,” I said reluctantly.
“How much will this cost? This stupid brush is only worth three hundred thousand renminbi, and I don’t have much money on me. Perhaps we’ll have to compensate out of our own pockets!” Li Mazi seethed.
“We can’t just consider what we’re getting in the short-term. My grandfather used to tell me that while working as a merchant, especially an otherworldly merchant, everything must start with your conscience. After you have that, you may talk about earning money. If you have a good reputation, cases will come to your door unceasingly.”
Li Mazi nodded. “You’re right. After lunch, I’ll work on it.”
For the next three days, Li Mazi continued to search. Now and then, he sent me some texts to vent his anger. I promised him that once this case was over, I would treat him to a nice meal.
Yin Xinyue accomplished her task. She negotiated with Mars Novels and contacted the editors of two authors to get the work started. I would pay them with my own money.
The plan to complete the unfinished novels was coming along quite nicely.
I checked the status of the two online novels quite often. The list of new chapters was now updated. The readers had different reactions. Some said that the new writer was acceptable because he could capture the intent of the original author well. However, some complained that the latest chapters weren’t as well-written as the previous ones and didn’t have the same writing style as the previous author.
Of course, I didn’t care about those comments. We would never satisfy everyone's tastes. I just needed the authors to put their all into writing and finishing the novels.
On the fourth day after Meng Dongye had gone missing, Yin Xinyue called me. “The young author writing the mystery has a problem.”
“It’s hard to explain properly through the phone. I’ll bring him to you.”
In the afternoon, Yin Xinyue brought a young man to my shop. He looked to be around twenty-five years old and was disheveled and pale. Yin Xinyue introduced us, and I learned that the young man was called Wang Xu.
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
“I can’t write anymore…”
“You can’t get into it? Is it the writing style? It doesn’t matter. If you don’t want to write anymore, I’ll ask the editor to change the writer, and I’ll pay you for the work you’ve done.” I comforted him.
“No, not that!” Wang Xu shook his head. “I don’t know who’s the real murderer!”
“What?” I was stunned. Wang Xu then explained that the mystery novel he was writing had many intelligent and complicated clues. There were around a dozen characters, and everyone seemed to have something that connected them to the murder. The mystery genre was different from other genres. He needed to know the author’s original idea when he started to write the novel. Otherwise, if he just haphazardly wrote an ending, the editor wouldn’t let it be published, knowing the readers wouldn’t buy it.
After listening to him, I felt myself getting a headache. “What should we do now? You’re a professional writer, and if you can’t guess it, neither can I…”
“Sigh, if only the original author could tell me who the murderer is, it would be so helpful,” Wang Xu said regretfully.
“Wait a second!” I had a flash of inspiration. “I have a solution. We’re going to ask the author directly!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter