Pristine Darkness Chapter 31

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Our team interrogates the three survivors and, therefore, suspects. Conflicting answers . . . where does the truth lie? Something is clearly being concealed, and it hopefully won’t take long for the s...o...b.. Gang to get to the truth. As a bonus, Ding Mo has given us a glimpse of the future! Read right to the end to experience Bo Jinyan and Jian Yao’s ‘family life’ ?

NOTE: If you were, or are, reading WASFIL on Meraki, there is an important announcement you should read about it . The PD team is about to check on the ‘status’ of PD as well, and will get back to you as soon as we have anything definite. 

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Chapter 31

Their third destination was Wen Xiaohua's dormitory. His bed was a little dirty, worse than Xu Sheng's, but it was still better than Lu Ji's. The wall was covered in cla.s.s schedules, some animation festival leaflets, and pictures from an ill.u.s.trated magazine featuring the sportswear brand endorsed by various celebrities.

On the bookshelf were some books on the entrance examinations for graduate programmes, as well as some motivational books. The table was quite messy, but not dirty. The cupboard contained some white T-s.h.i.+rts, as well as some cartoon T-s.h.i.+rts, and shorts. Below the table was a pair of sports shoes.

After leaving Nan Hua University, they separated and visited the apartments rented by the two who had already graduated, Jiang Xueran and Rong Xiaofeng.

Rong Xiaofeng and a female schoolmate shared the rent. She lived in the small room. The mosquito net was pink, and numerous pictures of her cosplaying were stuck on the wall. The room was a little messy as well as dirty. Dirty clothes had been thrown into a corner, and were still unwashed. The cupboard was cream in colour. The clothes within all looked cheap, but the designs were elegant and trendy, and the clothes were colourful.

Bo Jinyan noticed that there were several pots of green plants on the balcony, so he asked the housemate, "Whose plants are these?"

The girl answered, "Oh . . . I'm tending to them."

"These weren't grown by Rong Xiaofeng?"

When the girl heard the news of Rong Xiaofeng's death, she was shocked. Still slightly numb, she replied, "No . . . she wouldn't have grown plants. She . . . she had no patience for this sort of thing. She only liked cosplay and listening to music."

It seemed that Jiang Xueran's financial situation was relatively better than that of the others, as he had rented a one-bedroom apartment on his own. However, the location was quite remote, and the apartment was old. The apartment block had been constructed in the nineties, and it featured a long corridor running down the middle of each floor, with small rooms on either side. Jiang Xueran's apartment could be said to be tidy. There were several fairly expensive s.h.i.+rts and pants hanging in the wardrobe. However, the colour scheme in the apartment was plain and cold, without many decorations. It looked like he had not made many changes to the apartment when he rented it. Most of his clothes were also black, white and grey. There was nothing on his bookshelf apart from some books related to the job market and finance.

After he had left Jiang Xueran's apartment, Bo Jinyan asked Jian Yao, "Can you see it clearly?"

Jian Yao replied, "Yes, it's clear."

"I already know the secret which they have been hiding," Bo Jinyan said. "The three of them are all lying."

Jian Yao said, "I think I also know what it is."

Bo Jinyan smiled faintly. "The 'flower' of criminal psychology is blooming right before my very eyes."

In the interrogation room, a white light, silent and harsh.

The first person to be interrogated was Wen Xiaohua.

One must pick the soft persimmons to squeeze – this had always been Fang Qing's strategy.

Wen Xiaohua was considerably calmer than he had been the previous evening. However, Fang QIng was well aware that, for this kind of boy with weak character, that calmness was only a paper-thin veneer. One small jab, and it would tear.

"When did you join Yueying Animation Studio?" Fang Qing asked evenly.

Wen Xiaohua replied, "Last year . . . in the first half of the year."

"At that time, how many people were there at the animation studio?"

"Three, or two. Just Rong Xiaofeng and Jiang Xueran."

"What were you mainly responsible for in the animation studio?"

"I . . . I was responsible for playing the shotacon* roles, and I did miscellaneous ch.o.r.es."

*T/N 正太 (zheng tai) – a young, cute boy, from the j.a.panese loanword shotacon

Fang Qing frowned momentarily. "Shotacon?"

An Yan quietly moved closer to him and whispered an explanation. Fang Qing relaxed his brow, and nodded.

"The day before the incident, you bought water from a convenience store and brought it back to the studio. Did anyone see you doing this?"

Wen Xiaohua's face immediately flushed slightly. "I, I didn't notice anyone."

"Did you stop somewhere for a while?"

"No!"

Gradually, touching on more sensitive topics.

Fang Qing looked directly at him. "Are you sure that no outsiders could possibly have the keys to the studio"

Wen Xiaohua replied, "It shouldn't be possible."

"But the poison was placed in the water," An Yan said lightly. "Apart from the two who died, only the three of you had access to the water."

Wen Xiaohua immediately panicked. "I don't know! It definitely wasn't me! It wasn't me! Why would I want to poison them, I, I . . . I really didn't know something like this would happen."

Fang Qing cut him short. "Then who do you think poisoned the water?" His chilly tone made Wen Xiaohua tremble.

"I . . . don't know."

"There must be such a person," Fang Qing continued, "for the poison could not possibly have entered the mineral water bottle by itself. Wen Xiaohua, you must be clear on this – the poison was found in all the bottles of water. If you are withholding information right now, who knows, maybe the next time the killer strikes, you might be the victim!"

Wen Xiaohua s.h.i.+vered.

After a considerable period of silence, he lifted his head, and said, " . . . Jiang Xueran."

Fang Qing and An Yan kept quiet.

By now, Wen Xiaohua was unable to keep calm. He stuttered, "Jiang Xueran! In our group, he's the most cold-blooded! If . . . If there really was someone who poisoned the water, it wouldn't be an outsider, it would definitely be him!"

"Why do you suspect him? What motive does he have for killing everyone?" Fang Qing asked slowly.

Wen Xiaohua stared blankly for a moment, then dropped his head. "I don't know. You guys said there had to be someone."

Fang Qing and An Yan exchanged glances, but remained silent.

"One final question." Fang Qing retrieved something from a drawer. It was the little monk ornament that Bo Jinyan had found in the studio studio, which had been wiped clean. He asked, "Who bought this ornament?"

Wen Xiaohua worked his lips before answering, "I don't quite remember. Maybe . . . maybe it was Lu Ji's."

The second person to be interrogated was Xu Sheng.

This girl was just as had been observed previously. She sat silently and a little nervously behind the table, and responded to all of Fang Qing's questions with brief statements.

"When did you join Yueying Animation Studio?"

"September last year."

"At that time, how many people were there?"

"Three."

"Which three?"

"Rong Xiaofeng, Jiang Xueran, Wen Xiaohua."

"On the day of the incident, what were you doing?"

Xu Sheng replied, "I was in charge of organising the props. I had to cosplay a female killer from an anime, and I needed to put on makeup and make other preparations."

"Did someone do the makeup for you all?"

"No. We don't have the money to hire someone, so we did it ourselves."

Fang Qing asked, "Did you notice whether anyone touched the water? There were only the five of you in the studio."

Xu Sheng bit her lower lip, and said, "I didn't notice. Wen Xiaohua bought the water."

"Oh?" Fang Qing asked. "So, you suspect Wen Xiaohua?"

Xu Sheng shook her head. "I don't suspect him. He had no reason to kill us."

Fang Qing once again threw out the question, "Then, who do you think put the poison in the water? There must be someone; the poison could not have gotten into the bottles by itself."

Xu Sheng hesitated before replying, "I don't know."

"The poison was in all the bottles of water," An Yan said. "Don't hide anything from us. Otherwise, the killer might target you the next time, and then what would you do?"

Xu Sheng's face paled, but she remained silent.

". . . .Jiang Xueran," she said slowly.

"Why?" Fang Qing asked.

"His character is more selfish, and he doesn't really talk about affection or friends.h.i.+p."

"Why would he kill someone?"

Xu Sheng paused briefly before replying, "I don't know. But it can't be either Wen Xiaohua or myself."

Finally, Fang Qing brought out the ornament once again. "Whose ornament is this?"

Xu Sheng looked at it without saying anything.

"It cost more than two hundred dollars (about US$30); that's pretty expensive."

"It belongs to Wen Xiaohua," Xu Sheng said.

Compared to Wen Xiaohua and Xu Sheng, Jiang Xueran appeared very calm, and even exhibited a somewhat unconcerned att.i.tude.

"The animation studio was started by you?" Fang Qing asked.

Jiang Xueran paused for a moment, then said, "Yes. I started it together with Xiaofeng. I never thought something like this would happen."

"On the day of the incident, what were you doing?"

"What else could I do? It was the year's largest animation event. I organised the members as they prepared to perform and was continuously busy. The water was bought by Wen Xiaohua; I didn't touch it."

"I heard that your group will soon be disbanded?" Fang Qing queried.

Jiang Xueran sighed and said, "Yes. Officer, you know, we were all graduating or had graduated, and had to work. Things like animation and cosplay – it's okay to have fun with these during university. Once a person starts work, where will he have the energy? Moreover, the costs are high, and you don't earn much."

"Did anyone disagree?" An Yan asked.

Jiang Xueran replied, "No, everyone agreed. We all had to survive, and we all needed to eat."

"Who do you think put the poison in the water?" Fang Qing casually slipped in the question. "You were all certain that only the five of you had the keys. Only three of you could have accessed the mineral water to put the poison in."

To An Yan and Fang Qing's surprise, Jiang Xueran showed none of the hesitation and inner struggle of the other two. Without the slightest doubt in his voice, he replied, "It was Xu Sheng."

"Why?" Fang Qing asked.

Jiang Xueran laughed grimly before answering, "Who knows? She's so antisocial, and no one can tell what she's thinking. Wen Xiaohua doesn't have the guts. Since there isn't anyone else, it must be her!"

Fang Qing lifted his teacup to drink some tea, and said nothing. An Yan also continued looking down and typing. Jiang Xueran looked at the two of them, and his face flushed slowly. "You suspect me?"

"It's not that we suspect you," Fang Qing said. "Among your colleagues, someone suspects you."

Jiang Xueran looked furious, and scornfully said, "Me? Am I a wastrel who's got too much free time on my hands? Why would I want to kill them? This is clearly an attempt to slander me! It must be Xu Sheng, that's the only right answer, only she could do it. Also . . ." Something seemed to have struck him suddenly. "If it's not Xu Sheng, did you ever think that it might be the two who died, Lu Ji and Rong Xiaofeng? You can't be sure that it wasn't either of them who put the poison in the water, so that others would die with them, or in order to s.h.i.+ft the blame to us! Isn't this the kind of plot that occurs on detective shows on television? Anyway, it's not me! I would have to be really sick to kill people!"

Fang Qing did not react to his agitated outburst. Instead, he once again took out the ornament and asked, "Who bought this?"

Jiang Xueran stared blankly for a second, then looked down at the table top. "Probably . . . Rong Xiaofeng."

(A little drama completely unrelated to the story – about household 'tidying up' that happens many years later)

Jian Yao was the type of person who loved to tidy things. Their home was always bright and clean*, with everything in its place. Although Bo JInyan was not one to do the job of cleaning, he was basically quite fastidious, and liked everything to be neat and tidy. Thus, his case files and clothes had to be neatly organised.

*T/N 窗明几净 (chuang ming ji jing) – literally, clear windows and clean table.

However, one day . . .

Jian Yao suddenly realised that her son, Bao Jian's room, was always in a mess. Books were haphazardly placed and clothes were strewn around. Every time she entered the room, it was like walking into a another world.

Jian Yao asked Bo Jinyan, "This sloppy child, who do you think he takes after?"

Bo Jinyan approached the matter very academically. "He who lies down with dogs gets up with fleas*. Is there someone whom we a.s.sociate with closely who is like this?"

*T/N 近朱者赤 (jin zhu zhe chi) – part of a Chinese saying, 近朱者赤, 近墨者黑 (jin zhu zhe chi, jin mo zhe hei) – if you work with cinnabar, you will be stained red; if you work with ink, you will be stained black i.e. one is a product of one's environment.

Both of them thought of the same person simultaneously, and also remembered how that person and Bao Jian were good friends despite the difference in their ages. No wonder they always had a sense of deja vu on walking into little Bao Jian's room!

Jian Yao was somewhat crestfallen. "It must be because Bao Jian has been playing with his 'brother' An Yan for too long. Just look at An Yan's place, it's so messy that it's like a heap of wild gra.s.s. Heavens, I don't want my son to become an old bachelor otaku in future!"

Bo Jinyan smiled faintly. "Don't worry about it, I'll go talk to him. It's my responsibility as his father."

Night time.

Father and son sat opposite each other.

Bo Jinyan said, "Don't learn An Yan gege's bad habits, like his sloppiness. Ah, whenever I walk into your room, I feel as if I've walked into a crime scene."

Bao Jian said indifferently, "That's my way of life."

"Really? You want to live the life of an old bachelor otaku in future?"

"As if that wasn't your situation back in the day."

"You must be joking! Don't you know that, when I was pursuing your mother, An Yan was still counting his game credits on the computer?"

After a moment's silence, Bao Jian opened a drawer. It was filled to the brim with a stack of scented, fancy stationery.

Bo Jinyan was struck dumb.

Bao Jian said, casually, "These are just the love letters I received this semester. If I wanted to be in a relations.h.i.+p, it's possible any time. Ah, dad, let me just ask you, did you receive any  love letters when you were studying?"

Bo Jinyan remained silent for a while before replying, "My apologies, I don't wish to carry on this conversation."

Bao Jian said, "Obviously, neither do I."

Translator: shl

Editor/ Proofreader: Artemis

Pristine Darkness Chapter 31

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Pristine Darkness Chapter 31 summary

You're reading Pristine Darkness Chapter 31. This novel has been translated by Updating. Author: Ding Mo, 丁默 already has 100 views.

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