The eyewitness is called Xia Xiaonan, a girl who was in the same class as Feng Bin. A few days ago, several students ran away together, but for some reason, only the two of them were together. It’s possible that they got separated from the others. Xiao Hai Yang followed closely behind Luo Wen Zhou like a parrot, only needing a few prompts from him. “Last night when Feng Bin was killed, the girl hid in the nearby trash bin. The boy was probably trying to protect her.”

While striding towards the ambulance, Luo Wen Zhou asked, “If these students are still in the city, why haven’t they been found for such a long time?”

“They somehow managed to get a bunch of unregistered SIM cards, making it difficult to locate them,” Xiao Hai Yang paused, then continued, “Besides, they are all grown-ups. When they left home with money and left a letter, no one could have anticipated that they would actually get into trouble. The police at the grassroots level are always stretched thin, and sometimes they prioritize handling more urgent cases…”

Having worked at the grassroots level himself, Luo Wen Zhou knew exactly what was going on. He waved his hand to interrupt Xiao Hai Yang, “Are you saying both students had mobile phones? What time did the incident occur?”

Xiao Hai Yang hesitated, “The forensic examiner took a preliminary look and estimated it was in the first half of the night.”

“The first half of the night,” Luo Wen Zhou halted his steps, “If the girl is unharmed, why didn’t she report it afterward?”

The only witness to this gruesome dismemberment case, Xia Xiaonan, not only didn’t report it but also stayed in the garbage bin by herself for half the night, leaving the janitor who discovered the body in shock, gulping down a handful of quick-acting heart rescue pills.

The fifteen-year-old girl was slim with a melon seed-shaped face, delicate eyebrows, and beautiful features. However, her current appearance was far from presentable — her entire body reeked and she sat motionless in a small corner, tightly clutching her school bag. Her face was deathly pale, her eyes unnaturally dark, resembling a doll lacking spirit.

As Luo Wen Zhou approached, he noticed several female police officers and a group of medical staff surrounding Xia Xiaonan, none of them daring to get too close.

Luo Wen Zhou glanced at the eerie atmosphere. “What’s going on? Why are you all crowding around here?”

“Boss, don’t go over. The girl may have experienced some trauma,” Lang Qiao whispered. “She doesn’t respond when spoken to, and she screams when someone approaches. Even the doctor who looks the most kind-hearted over there can’t handle it. We’re waiting for her parents to see if they can forcefully administer a sedative.”

Luo Wen Zhou bent down at a distance, trying to meet the girl’s gaze. Xia Xiaonan’s eyes barely aligned with his, but it seemed unfocused, passing by him in a scattered manner.

“After searching for three to four days with the assistance of several police stations and the school, the police couldn’t find them. It’s ironic that the criminals found them first,” Lang Qiao muttered, “What a mess.”

“Check the nearby surveillance cameras. This area is a tourist attraction, and there aren’t many blind spots. The perpetrator can’t possibly disappear without a trace. Also, tell the guys not to idle around. Visit convenience stores, supermarkets, restaurants… go around and ask. These unruly kids couldn’t have gone without eating or drinking. Surely someone has seen them.” As Luo Wen Zhou spoke, he furrowed his brow and pointed to a smudge or bloodstain on Xia Xiaonan’s school bag. “Er Lang, take a look. Is that dirt or a bloodstain?”

Before Lang Qiao had a chance to take a closer look, there was a sudden screeching sound of brakes behind them, resembling the sharp friction of peeling rubber.

The police officers and doctors present collectively shuddered.

Lang Qiao turned around and murmured, “This is not good. I was afraid of this.”

They saw a well-dressed middle-aged woman pushing open the car door, seemingly not touching the ground as she rushed out. She stumbled a few steps like a reed swaying in the wind, then collapsed on the ground without any sense of composure. Covered in blood and a terrified expression, she grabbed onto the police officer who came to help her, almost pulling down the officer’s pants as well. “Where is my son? Where is Bin Bin?”

“Seems to be Feng Bin’s mother,” Lang Qiao whispered.

“Tell the forensic team to be quick and swiftly put the body into the bag,” Luo Wen Zhou lightly pushed her, urging, “Don’t let the family see it. Cover the face and quickly remove it. We’ll stitch it up after the autopsy.”

But it was already too late.

Feng Bin’s mother was originally a slender middle-aged woman with no extra flesh on her body. However, after seeing the forensic team coming in and out of the alley, she suddenly burst into a frenzy. With tremendous strength, she pushed away her husband and the police officers trying to hold her back, insisting on getting closer to see for herself.

With just one glance, the latter half of her life was torn apart.

The woman sat silently on the ground. The medical staff who had been guarding Xia Xiaonan had no choice but to rush forward and attend to her. She was dragged to the side in a dazed state and caught a glimpse of Xia Xiaonan huddled in the corner. Feng Bin’s mother shivered intensely and immediately regained consciousness. She grabbed Xia Xiaonan, using both her hands and feet, and said, “Classmate, do you know anything? Do you know who killed our Bin Bin?”

Xia Xiaonan convulsed and let out an inhuman howl as Feng Bin’s mother tugged at her coat.

In an instant, cries, comforting words, interrogations, and the high-pitched, enduring screams of the girl bombarded everyone’s ears, creating a chaotic scene.

Luo Wen Zhou was overwhelmed by the noise, pressing his hands against his ears. He turned around and glanced at the ancient and eerie alley. Could the perpetrator really be Lu Guosheng from fifteen years ago? If it was him, how would he explain to the victim’s family that their son was killed by a ghost who had haunted the police for fifteen years without any leads?

Why did Lu Guosheng suddenly reappear? Did he run out of money? And why target a high school student? Was it because fifteen years had passed and he was no longer as capable, without any accomplices, and lacked the confidence to target adults?

Moreover, the victim Feng Bin’s body was covered with his own school uniform. It seemed like the killer was afraid he would catch a cold. What did that imply? Did the perpetrator feel guilt and remorse after committing the crime? But if he still had that trace of humanity, could he have dismembered a teenager who had not yet fully grown and gouged out his eyes?

Why?

Feng Bin’s father stumbled backward to the side of the road, suddenly unable to attend to his wife’s emotions any longer. He barely maintained his calm and easily communicative businessman demeanor. Even when Luo Wen Zhou looked over, he nodded at him, as if attempting to force a smile but failing.

“I’m too busy with work. I don’t see him once in ten or fifteen days. I even sent him to a boarding school, as if he was a burden with nowhere to go,” the father said. “Did I make a mistake?”

Luo Wen Zhou didn’t respond.

As the father continued speaking, his backbone dissipated into thin air. Then he crouched down, curling up into a ball and slowly covering his face.

“Have Xia Xiaonan’s parents been notified?” Luo Wen Zhou pinched the bridge of his nose and turned to his subordinates. “Where are they? Why haven’t they arrived? When will that girl be able to say something?”

The bustling street gradually revealed its liveliness. Suddenly, an electric wheelchair went against the flow and approached, the elderly person on the wheelchair seeming to find it too slow. He stretched his neck forcefully, sticking his head forward like an old turtle. When the wheelchair passed over a bump, he leaned too far forward, falling off the electric wheelchair.

Tao Ran happened to be nearby and witnessed this minor traffic accident. He hurried over to help the old man up. “My goodness, why did you come out in this thing? Are you okay? Ah? The road ahead is closed. You can’t go that way…”

The old man struggled and grabbed Tao Ran’s wrist, speaking indistinctly, “Hou… Lan…”

Tao Ran was stunned. “What?”

The old man looked at him sorrowfully, his lips trembling nervously.

“Xi, Xi Ao… Nan!”

“Xia Xiaonan is an orphan. She only has her grandfather at home. A few years ago, he suffered from a sudden cerebral hemorrhage, leaving behind many aftereffects. Although his mind is clear, he has difficulty walking and nobody can understand what he says.” It was almost noon when they returned to the police station. Tao Ran utilized his level-16 proficiency in Chinese listening comprehension to communicate with Xia Xiaonan’s grandfather with great difficulty. He sighed, “She is so pitiful. It might be better if she went insane.”

Luo Wen Zhou asked, “Given her family situation, why did she attend a boarding school?”

“Her family is in dire straits, and her grandfather’s medical expenses are not covered by medical insurance. Yu Fen wanted to recruit some good students to showcase the school and offered generous scholarships. Moreover, that old man is a bit stubborn. He doesn’t want people to treat him as a useless person. He takes care of household chores himself and doesn’t let others look after him.”

“Forget about others,” a detective next to them said. “But I can’t understand why a girl like Xia Xiaonan would run away. I just checked, and she ranked in the top fifty in the city-wide entrance examination. As long as she maintains her grades, Yu Fen awards her a twenty-thousand-yuan scholarship every year. Her performance has always been outstanding, and the teachers say she is introverted but exceptionally responsible. She never causes any trouble with her studies. Could she run away from school out of boredom? Is she heartless enough to abandon her grandfather with their family situation? That girl must have no conscience at all.”

Luo Wen Zhou remained silent, flipping through his phone to read the letter Feng Bin had left before running away. This letter had gained popularity online, but the news of Feng Bin’s murder hadn’t spread yet. People were still criticizing the education system and the typical Chinese parent-child relationship.

After some thought, Luo Wen Zhou casually forwarded the link of the letter to Fei Du. Just as he sent it, someone poked their head in at the door, saying, “Captain Luo, Feng Bin and Xia Xiaonan’s homeroom teacher is here!”

Fei Du’s phone made a soft buzzing sound, indicating a new message. His phone was buried under a pile of things, and he didn’t hear it for a moment.

Miao, the assistant, handed him a pen for signing and glanced at Luo Yiguo, who was strutting around her with a proud air. Taking advantage of Fei Du looking at the documents, she wanted to play with the cat for a while and asked, “Mr. Fei, does the cat scratch people?”

Fei Du said, “It does.”

Miao: “…”

She quietly retracted her outstretched hand, surveying the clean and modern house. “You… do you live here now?”

Fei Du lightly pushed his glasses up and looked at her.

“Mhm…” Miao hesitated, speaking very tactfully, “It feels very different from your office. It’s like a different style.”

Fei Du smiled noncommittally. Compared to his office, the vast majority of households in the world were as shabby and impoverished as public toilets, but that wasn’t his style. At that moment, a framework agreement was revealed, and Fei Du quickly scanned through it. The content was fine, but there was a unique scent between the pages. He paused and sniffed it - mint, basil… with a slight hint of mixed berry.

Fei Du lifted his eyelids and glanced at Miao, who forced a smile. It was no secret that Fei Du had a preference for refined and understated appearances with a bit of excitement beneath the surface. Some people often took advantage of this and had ulterior motives.

Setting the agreement aside, Fei Du took out a wet tissue to wipe his hands. “Since when did our company become so particular that even the printing paper is custom-made? Do we have any ties to the Saudi Royal Family?”

Miao explained in a low voice, “It’s the new assistant hired by President Su.”

“So President Su still wants to invite me out for a meal?” Fei Du silently chuckled, his gaze a bit cold. “Old Su, after working under my father for over ten years, he thinks he’s a seasoned veteran, able to act as a regent.”

Miao didn’t dare to respond. Most of the old confidants of Old Boss Fei had either scattered or been caught and eaten prison food when Fei Du took power. Some had resigned unexpectedly. Now, only Su Cheng, an elder who had some qualifications but was average at best, remained.

“But I like this kind of self-important idiot.” Fei Du put down the agreement, picked up the remaining documents, and walked Miao to the door. As she was leaving, he suddenly remembered something and said, “By the way, have food prices gone up recently? Inform the HR department to increase the lunch allowance by 30% so that everyone can eat better and have more energy to work.”

The boss said he would give them money! Miao had no objections this time and cheerfully responded. Even her steps became lively. “Mr. Fei, how did you know that food prices have risen?”

Because she saw the labels when washing vegetables, she asked a question out of curiosity, but someone scolded her for not knowing the hardships of life.

Fei Du didn’t say anything. He used his toe to push Luo Yiguo, who had followed him out, back into the room and waved goodbye to Miao with a smile.

Someone was testing his control over the company.

Fei Du pushed open the window to let the lingering scent of perfume dissipate.

“Those people” were too cautious. For so many years, they had never shown any signs in front of him. But with the Zhou case, they were forced to sever their ties, losing their major financial supporters Zheng Kaifeng and Zhou Junmao. Their lives must be tough now, so they urgently needed to find new sources of funding.

It seems that over the years, with his reversed reputation, his loose external methods and tight internal strategies, the actions of trying to remove Fei Chengyu’s ventilator in the Binhai Sanatorium, as well as abandoning the large company and cunningly joining the new “brochure” plan… After a long series of preparations, it finally forced “those people” to attempt to contact him.

However…

Fei Du pulled out his phone from under the dining table and intended to browse the mobile app for the reading program—there was a subtle force mixed within it, even unintentionally helping him. He had tried to investigate it several times but found no results. Who could it be?

At that moment, he saw the link and message that Luo Wenzhou had forwarded to him.

Luo Wenzhou said, “Something is off about this letter. Take a look for me.”

In the reception room of the municipal bureau, a female teacher in her forties, accompanied by a male student, was chatting with the police officer in charge of reception. It was Feng Bin’s homeroom teacher and class monitor.

Luo Wenzhou listened by the doorway for a while and caught a glimpse of the boy’s attire. He had draped his school uniform jacket over his arm and stood aside. He didn’t look like the other boys his age who were in various stages of puberty. When the boy saw Luo Wenzhou at the door, he gave a polite smile. Luo Wenzhou inexplicably thought of a younger version of Fei Du. Upon closer inspection, he noticed the familiar brand name on the boy’s shirt—a brand he had seen more than once when organizing Fei Du’s wardrobe, but he wasn’t sure how to pronounce it.

A kid wearing such expensive clothes?

Luo Wenzhou furrowed his brows. It seemed that Yufen High School was indeed a club for the second generation of the wealthy.

“Boss,” Lang Qiao quickly walked over and whispered in his ear, “The surveillance at the intersection captured the culprit.”

Luo Wenzhou swiftly turned his head.

“I don’t know for sure, but the senior officers who saw it said… it seems to be that Lu Guosheng.”