“I’m not very familiar with the shamanic tribes of the Yue kingdom, but I do know that this pair of Buddha and Guanyin statues is of particular importance to them, sometimes even more so than their lives.”
Li Mo gently caressed the two statues, spiritual energy gathering near the tips of his fingers. The moment he touched the statues, their sinister, smiling faces seemed to come to life.
Yun Ruoyan’s gaze was trained on Qin Jianmei, so she initially didn’t notice the changes in the statues’ appearance. However, when she suddenly saw the anxiety in Qin Jianmei’s gaze, she focused on the two statues in Li Mo’s hands and noticed how their creepy smiles were turning far more malevolent.
With a sudden crack, the stomach of one of the statues began to crack under the force of Li Mo’s spiritual energy.
“Stop!” Qin Jianmei finally thundered. “These statues are mine! Are you nothing more than thieves?!”
“Madam Qin, if you’re not from a shamanic tribe, how did you come across these statues?” Li Mo asked. “Furthermore, both of these statues are filled with spiritual energy, clearly a sign that they’ve been prayed to day and night. What other reason could there be for your decade-long worship? Madam Qin, I advise you to stop prolonging the inevitable. Admit it: you’re a member of that tribe!”
Qin Jianmei stood still for a few moments. Then, out of nowhere, she began to laugh. “If you’re so certain that I’m from that tribe, then I won’t lie any further. So what if I’m a descendant from the tribe?”
“In that case, you must surely know of the carmine embrace.” Li Mo’s tone suddenly turned severe. “The carmine embrace is a poison unique to that shamanic tribe, just like these two statues. Fifteen years ago, it was you who poisoned a woman of the Yun household.”
“No, I didn’t,” Qin Jianmei defended herself. “I admit I was from that tribe, and I admit I know of the carmine embrace, but what reason do you have for believing that I ever poisoned someone? I’m just a devout believer!”
Li Mo clapped another three times. On the first floor, a black-clad man escorted a middle-aged man out into the hall where Qin Jianmei was standing.
“Madam Qin, do you recognize him?” Li Mo asked.
Qin Jianmei turned to the man. “No, I don’t.”
That middle-aged man looked at Qin Jianmei, then shook her head toward Li Mo. However, Li Mo then signalled the black-clad man to blindfold the middle-aged man.
“Physician Ceng, see if you recognize her now,” Li Mo instructed.
Physician Ceng slowly drew closer to Qin Jianmei and carefully smelled the air around her. He had only taken in two breaths when he yelled, “It’s her, it’s her! She was the one who had me poison Young Madam Yun!”
Seated in a suite on the first floor of the teahouse, Yun Lan suddenly rose up. His eyes narrowed, and his fingers curled up into a fist.
“What nonsense are you speaking?!” Perhaps because Qin Jianmei had forgotten Physician Ceng’s appearance, she wasn’t able to identify him at first glance. However, when Physician Ceng brought up what happened thirteen years ago, Qin Jianmei immediately recognized him, but even so, she wouldn’t admit to what she had done. “I don’t know you at all!”
“You—it was you!” Physician Ceng became agitated. This woman had made use of him, inflicting over a decade of guilt and mental trauma on him! Now that he had finally found her again, how could he not be enraged, not be furious? If not for the black-clad man restraining him, he would have dashed up to Qin Jianmei and tried to beat her up on the spot! “I know your scent! You might have thought you covered yourself up well, but I wouldn’t mistake your scent for anything in the world! I would stake my life on it!”
Qin Jianmei finally felt a sense of urgency, but she continued to deny the accusations. “Aren’t there many similar-looking people in this world, let alone similar-smelling ones? You must be mistaken. Thirteen years ago, I hadn’t yet married into the Yun family, so why would I poison Young Madam Yun?”
Li Mo jumped in. “Initially, I was also confused as to your motive. However, when I found out that you knew Yun Lan before marrying into the Yun family, I began to harbor a few suspicions. You might not seem interested in power, but you’re a greedy woman at heart, aren’t you?”
He raised his head and proclaimed, “You felt strong feelings toward Yun Lan, but he had already married Lin Yuemei, whom he liked. He even married Madam An, to whom he had been engaged. The only one he was unwilling to marry was you, so you took advantage of your training and faculty as a physician to poison Lin Yuemei!”
“Ridiculous! This is only a conjecture on your part—or do you have any evidence to back up your claims?”
Li Mo didn’t seem to have heard her. “Perhaps you were afraid to reveal yourself, or perhaps you were so malicious that you didn’t want her to pass away so readily. At any rate, instead of killing her directly, you applied a slow-acting poison on her that would lie dormant in her body for over two years. During this time, the carmine embrace passed from her body to her yet-unborn daughter’s. Two years later, when the poison finally activated and she lay dying, she met Physician Ceng. To complete your revenge, you made use of him to add a fast-acting form of the poison into her food, causing her to die!”
Although Qin Jianmei tried desperately to school her emotions as Li Mo talked, the naked insecurity she felt at having her decade-old actions being revealed was too much of a shock for even her to handle. “N-Nonsense!” she repeated. “You have no proof for any of these claims!”
Her face was twitching, but she grit her teeth and refused to change her stance.
“Whether or not these are my one-sided claims are irrelevant, Madam Qin. What matters is if you were indeed the culprit,” Li Mo replied. “Not only did you poison Lin Yuemei to death over a decade ago out of petty jealousy, you even turned Madam An crazy! You might have thought your actions discreet and unbeknownst to any, but we, the Demonic Duo, are here to right these wrongs.”
“I don’t understand what you’re saying at all!” Qin Jianmei laughed. “You claim you’re righting a wrong, but do you even have the ability to do so?”
“If Yun Lan were to know about your crimes, do you think he’d believe us or you? I wonder if he’d want to deal with you himself?”
Li Mo’s words turned Qin Jianmei’s face ashen. “You crazy bastards… Don’t you dare try to foil my plans!”
The moment Qin Jianmei spoke, her two statues seemed to undergo a strange transformation. Black smoke emerged from the Buddha statue, materializing as a hand that began choking the black-clad man holding the statues. Before the man could react, his throat had been crushed, and he fell dead to the ground.
Yun Ruoyan immediately tried to pick up the two statues that had fallen, but Li Mo pulled her back behind him. “That’s demonic aura! Don’t get close!”
The two of them stared at this so-called demonic aura, so thick it was almost congealed. It kept pouring out of the Buddha’s head, which then surrounded the Guanyin statue right next to it. The Guanyin’s eyes widened and turned red. Yun Ruoyan, who was staring at the two statues, received a big shock.
The two religious icons had somehow turned sinister and demonic in the blink of an eye. Yun Ruoyan could see a red, gaseous substance begin to emerge from the Guanyin’s eyes, perhaps another form of demonic energy.
The red and black mists didn’t mix; instead, they stuck to each other and began to solidify.
“Not good—it’s taking on the shape of a human!” Li Mo murmured.
“Argh!” Just then, a terrible scream came from the first floor. Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo turned their heads from the demonic aura to see Physician Ceng bleeding from his nose and mouth, three silver needles stuck in his head.
“Qin Jianmei, how dare you!” Yun Ruoyan shouted.
“None of you shall leave alive!” Qin Jianmei exclaimed, throwing three silver needles in the direction of Li Mo’s guard, who had been responsible for restraining Physician Ceng.
Li Mo pointed his finger at the needles and shot out a beam of spiritual energy at them. Although the needles were quick, Li Mo’s spiritual beam was clearly quicker. It struck down the needles, and Li Mo’s guard drew a sword and slashed at Qin Jianmei.
“No, don’t kill her!” Yun Ruoyan shouted.Previous Chapter Next Chapter