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Chapter 33 - Bloody Maple Leaf: The Secret of Maple Forest
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Chapter 33 - Bloody Maple Leaf: The Secret of Maple Forest

Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang circled the maple forest and found nothing wrong.

Nor could they dig up such a large maple forest in the middle of the night.

Yu Hanjiang stated, “The clue of the maple forest might not appear until tomorrow. Let’s go back to the library to investigate the people who went missing in recent years.”

Last night, the two people had sneaked into the information centre on the fifth floor of the Shuxiang Building to investigate the fall five years ago. They found that the deceased was a high school student called Si Han who had an excellent performance.

They would go to the library again tonight to verify the information of the people who went missing from the school over the years.

The security had locked the Shuxiang Building but in front of Yu Hanjiang, all ordinary iron locks were ineffective. He gently opened the door lock and took Xiao Lou to the fifth floor. He closed the shutters of the window before turning on the flashlight.

There was too much information here. Fortunately, there were labels on all the folders. Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang focused on checking the ‘personnel changes’ and ‘reporting materials.’ All the related materials in the past five years were collected and looked through separately.

it took them more than an hour to lock onto the targets through the large amount of information.

The first missing person was a 25 year old teacher of the school’s psychological counselling department. He left the school two years ago after submitting his resignation. However, his whereabouts suddenly became unknown. His family called the police and the police came to the school to investigate. The school leaders said he already left school and the surveillance did show him leaving the school. According to the report, the disappearance of this teacher had nothing to do with Maple Forest High School.

The second person was a school security guard. He was 45 years old and left his job at night when he was working. He sneaked out of the school gate and it was unknown what happened but he never returned. The police investigation concluded that the security guard going missing was unrelated to the school.

The third person was a language teacher surnamed Zhou who was 45 years old.

The high school teacher disappeared six months ago and a detailed investigation was launched. However, a large number of cameras were broken at the time and the investigation failed. It became an unsolved case.

Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang immediately checked the name of the teacher for the key liberal arts class five years ago. This teacher Zhou happened to be Si Han’s class teacher.

He must’ve been linked to Si Han’s death, proving that the two challengers ‘revenge’ theory was correct.

Xiao Lou looked at Yu Hanjiang and took a deep breath. “In the book Count of Monte Cristo, the protagonist has exactly three enemies. It isn’t a coincidence that three people went missing from Maple Forest High School in recent years.”

Yu Hanjiang nodded. “If my guess is correct, this secret room’s theme is revenge. The three missing people should’ve been killed and buried under the maple trees.

Just then, there was a flash of lightning outside the window, splitting apart the dark night sky. This was followed by thunder rumbling in their ears.

The thunder exploded and rain poured down.

Xiao Lou looked at the maple forest in the distance. The entire forest was flooded by heavy rain as if washing off the blood there.

There was a heavy rain last night and it was raining again tonight. The weather in the secret room must be related to the case. If their reasoning was correct, the answer would be revealed tomorrow.

***

The 3 of Hearts secret room, the third day.

Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou came to the school gate and waited for the emergence of key figures.

The three students Yu Hui, Yi Ru and Xie Xinghe looked to be back to normal. They quickly walked towards the teaching building with lowered heads.

Lin Yueran, the language teacher, smiled and greeted the security guard at the door in a friendly manner.

The English teacher wasn’t wearing a suit today. She wore high heels, jeans and a thin sweater. It was a red V-neck sweater that showed the delicate necklace around her neck. She looked smart and elegant.

She had a cold expression as she walked into the office building.

Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang pretended to be teachers and chatted as they entered the teaching building.

Yu Hanjiang whispered, “The police will come today. After they went back, they must’ve investigated the chemistry teacher in detail and ruled out the chemistry teacher of the crime.”

Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou were a step earlier than the police. They knew that the three people who went missing in recent years might be related to the case of Si Han’s fall.

The key person Si Han and her relationship with several suspects would greatly push forward the progress of the case.

At 8:30 in the morning, the police arrived.

The chemistry teacher hadn’t been released yet, possibly due to insufficient evidence.

The police went to the sixth floor to find the principal and Yu Hanjiang immediately used the invisibility cloak to follow.

Sure enough, the police officers entered the principal’s office and asked directly, “When we were investigating Teacher Qin yesterday, she said that rumours of a curse are spreading around the school. Five years ago, a student called Si Han committed suicide by jumping off the building. Then three people were missing in recent years and the day before yesterday, Ying Xiaoya jumped off the building. All of this can’t be a coincidence.”

The principal looked serious. “Police officers, the fall five years ago and the recent disappearances have been investigated. You didn’t find any evidence they were ‘man-made.’ Why suddenly...”

“A coincidence is a coincidence. So many cases, do you think it can be explained away by coincidence?”

The principal was silent.

The police officer spoke again, “Teacher Qin told us a key message. Last Wednesday, the chemistry class ended and she and Xie Xinghe examined the laboratory together. At that time, the bottle of poison was full and nothing was taken away. She had the key and there were signs of the door lock being pried open, indicating that someone had returned to the laboratory and opened the door to take it.”

The principal was stunned and couldn’t believe it. “Are you doubting Xie Xinghe? This student has achieved excellent results since the beginning of high school. For every test, he is in the top three of the grade. How can he poison his classmate?”

“There is another key message. Teacher Qin said that Xie Xinghe locked up the laboratory around 18:00 when school was over. Since Thursday and Friday were the monthly exam days for the third grade, she passed by the teaching building and found someone in Class 3. She went to take a look and saw Ying Xiaoya. Ying Xiaoya was writing ‘what should I do?’ in her notebook.”

The principal squirmed. “What do you mean?”

“Perhaps Ying Xiaoya was caught in a serious predicament. Teacher Qin thought that Ying Xiaoya was worried about the next day’s exam and comforted her with a few words so that she wouldn’t worry too much. Teacher Qin left the teaching building and Ying Xiaoya and Xie Xinghe were both still in the classroom. On Wednesday night, the two of them were the last to leave the school.”

The policeman added, “Thursday and Friday are exam days and the students’ seats will be disrupted. Ying Xiaoya’s examination room was in Class 7. After the test, school was off on Saturday and Sunday while the teachers corrected the exam papers online. During this period, the murderer had no chance to commit the crime. It wasn’t until Monday that the murderer immediately killed Ying Xiaoya.”

The principal frowned. “Police officer, do you have a suspect?”

The policeman replied, “The person who poisoned the chocolates is the person who returned to the laboratory on Wednesday to grab the poison. It was another person who pushed Ying Xiaoya off the building. We used an instrument to detect the footprints on the rooftop and there was a second person. There was a fragment of a scarf left on the top of the building, indicating that there should be a conflict.”

The police officer concluded. “Your school might have a hidden serial killer. We need to block the entire school and conduct a full investigation on all teachers. I hope you will cooperate.”

The principal had a headache and held his temple. “Of course I will cooperate but I hope you can minimize the impact. The school is in a panic these days while the third grade students are preparing for their university entrance examination. Their studies can’t be delayed.”

The officer nodded and headed downstairs to have his fellow police officers cordon off the school.

Yu Hanjiang left the office. Sure enough, the police in the secret room finally split the case into two and linked it with the fall five years ago. They would soon search the teachers’ desk and obtain a lot of information, including the book in Zhang Qing’s drawer and the texts left in Lin Yueran’s drawer. These suspects would soon be interrogated by the police.

Xie Xinghe’s suspicion was very big. He was familiar with the organic phosphate and had a good grasp of the dosage. Teacher Qin talked about this in chemistry class and Xie Xinghe was a top student. He could understand as soon as he heard it. If he left with the teacher, he could easily find a chance to return and grab some organic phosphate.

Since the door and cabinet were originally locked by him, perhaps he didn’t lock them properly.

The English teacher and language teacher weren’t relevant to the poisoning case. They didn’t have enough knowledge of chemistry and the evidence found about these two people were related to revenge and faking the suicide note. They were more like the murderer who pushed Ying Xiaoya off the building.

The love letter of unknown origin might’ve also been written by Xie Xinghe.

Yu Hanjiang found Xiao Lou and told the other person his reasoning. “I am sure that the poisoner is Xie Xinghe. He might’ve done this as a warning and it didn’t matter if Yu Hui or Ying Xiaoya were poisoned. If one of them was poisoned, the other would definitely accompany them to the hospital. As long as they leave school, they won’t be killed. In addition, the poisoning led to a police investigation and blocked the real murderer from getting away with it.”

Xiao Lou was shocked. “Then Xie Xinghe was actually saving Ying Xiaoya?”

Yu Hanjiang nodded. “The love letter should’ve also been written by him. Perhaps there is a secret hidden in the love letter. We should check it again.”

Xiao Lou’s memory was particularly good and he closed his eyes to recall the letter.

Xiaoya:

I’ve liked you since I saw you three years ago.

I think of you every day.

My heart is full of your shadow.

I’m not willing to leave and depend on your life and death.

May you be happy, live happily and for a long time.

At the beginning, Xiao Lou only thought that his love letter was sappy. Now that he took a closer look...

His back suddenly froze. “The third word of each line is connected. Leave in three days?” (TL: Remember, this is based on the Chinese characters and I’m not sure how to word it in English to keep the same order.)

Yu Hanjiang read the love letter vertically. The third word of each line indeed spelt out ‘leave in three days.’ The last line also mentioned ‘live’ and ‘living for a long time. This word was emphasized, implying that her life was in danger.

The date of the letter was Friday. Leave in three days meant that Ying Xiaoya shouldn’t go to school on Monday.

This should be linked to why Ying Xiaoya ate chocolates with a trace amount of poison on Monday...

It all made sense if the love letter was written by Xie Xinghe.

He knew a lot of inside information and anticipated that Ying Xiaoya would be killed. Thus, he put a printed love letter in her schoolbag in advance, warning her not to come to school on Monday. However, Ying Xiaoya didn’t understand it and still came on Monday. Xie Xinghe had to poison the chocolates. Then he would go to the hospital with Yu Hui and Ying Xiaoya for emergency treatment and the murderer wouldn’t have the chance to kill Ying Xiaoya.

Unfortunately, this didn’t work. The chemistry teacher and PE teacher suddenly changed classes, which Xie Xinghe didn’t expect. Ying Xiaoya left his sight and the long-planned murderer found a chance to deceive Ying Xiaoya to go to the rooftop, pushing her off.

Xie Xinghe wearing a black cloth around his arm was indeed to mourn Ying Xiaoya.

For some reason, he couldn’t tell Ying Xiaoya directly that she was going to be killed. He hinted with the love letter and poisoned her with the chocolate but... still couldn’t save this girl.

***

Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang were discussing the case when a shrill scream came from outside the window.

The source of the scream was the school’s maple forest.

Xiao Lou heard this and didn’t hesitate to use his acceleration shoes to rush over.

As a result of two consecutive nights of heavy rain, a large area of maple leaves had fallen and the school asked the cleaners to clean up. Xiao Lou heard the screams and arrived to find two cleaning aunties crouching with pale faces.

Xiao Lou looked down.

He saw a hand poking out from the ground of the maple forest soaked by rain.

The white bones were shocking!

There were many passing teachers who heard the scream and ran to see. They were frightened by the scene and someone yelled, “Call the police!” “The police seem to be at the school, I’ll call them!”

The police arrived quickly and Yu Hanjiang followed them calmly.

He exchanged glances with Xiao Lou in the crowd.

The bones of the dead had appeared in the maple forest. This news alarmed all the school leaders. The police quickly surrounded the entire maple forest with a cordon. They rushed for shovels and dug at the place where the white bones appeared.

Piece after piece of human bone emerged, like ‘sky flowers’ sprinkled throughout the maple forest.

As the shovels dug deeper and deeper in the maple forest, bones appeared... too many.

The faces of the school leaders were dark like they had dug out coal. The police had hard expressions while the two cleaning ladies stammered as they made a statement. The maple leaves in the forest were still falling, sprinkling on the white bones dug out...

This bizarre picture made Xiao Lou’s hair stand up.

Yu Hanjiang whispered in his ear. “It seems that our reasoning is very close to the truth. The missing people were indeed buried in the maple forest. Professor Xiao, I will trouble you to later check the human bones with the forensic doctor to determine their cause of death.”

The forensic doctor arrived quickly and Xiao Lou used the invisibility cloak.

The scattered bones at the scene were quickly placed together, forming three figures.

There was a clear difference in the pelvis of men and women. Xiao Lou could see that all three bodies were men. Based on skeletal development, one was a young man around 25 years old while the other two were middle-aged men around 40 years old. This was consistent with the age of the missing.

Based on the degree of corruption and morphological changes in the bones, it could be roughly inferred that the time of death was consistent with the time they disappeared. Moreover, the three people had been subjected to violence before they died.

The first was the young man around 25 years old. His skull had obvious depressions caused by being hit with a blunt instrument. The entire eye socket was broken while the other bones had no obvious scars. The cause of death should be cerebral hemorrhage caused by a blunt object hitting the skull.

The second was a middle-aged man and his left sternum had obvious sharp traces. Two rib bones had the same sharp marks. It should be that the chest was stabbed three times. The heart was hit and stopped beating, causing death.

The third middle-aged man had a pronounced fracture of the hyoid bone, suggesting that his neck had been subject to pressure. Mechanical asphyxia couldn’t be ruled out as the cause of death—in other words, he was likely strangled.

The three people had different causes of death but they had one thing in common.

They were dismembered after death.

The bodies were dismembered and buried in the maple forest, so the bones dug out were scattered everywhere. The forensic doctor worked hard but struggled to form a human figure.

The leader of the police officers asked calmly, “What is the result?”

The forensic doctor wore a mask and whispered, “The three deceased are male. The initial judgment is that the cause of death is a skull fracture due to a blunt instrument, a sharp device piercing the chest and stopping the heart and mechanical asphyxia.”

The official forensic verdict was consistent with Xiao Lou.

Xiao Lou quickly left the scene and told Yu Hanjiang the information he had learned.

Yu Hanjiang’s face was calm. “These three are the ones who killed Si Han.”

Xiao Lou nodded in agreement. “It seems that the avenger has taken care of the enemies who killed Si Han.”

Yu Hanjiang stood on the third floor of the air corridor, deep eyes gazing at the maple forest in the distance as he sorted out his thoughts and went through the clues one by one.

He whispered, “This is Ying Xiaoya’s fall incident but the main plot of this secret room is Si Han’s fall. Five years ago, Si Han was killed by these three people. They pushed Si Han off the roof and falsified the suicide note, spreading the rumour of ‘vengeful spirits’ and a ‘death curse’ on campus.”

“They did it too well and the entire school didn’t doubt that Si Han jumped from the building. The police couldn’t find any clues and the school’s report mentioned that Si Han was psychologically vulnerable and didn’t function properly after doing badly on her exams.”

“This incident was quickly put to rest and the students explained it away with a curse.”

“However, Si Han had a relative. That person was particularly concerned about Si Han and didn’t believe she would commit suicide. Thus, the relative went back to Maple Forest High School to investigate. That person was very smart and found out the truth of Si Han’s story. She found the three murderers and killed them using cruel methods: breaking their skull, piercing the heart and strangling them.”

“Only a great deal of hatred would lead to dismembering the body after killing and burying them in the maple forest. This maple forest is facing the office building where Si Han fell and is like a blood sacrifice.”

After she killed, she could’ve buried the bodies anywhere. Why bury them in the school’s maple forest? Wasn’t it as a memorial to Si Han?

Xiao Lou heard up to here and felt cold.

This is a cursed school. It is said that the maple leaves are so red because the maple trees absorbs too much blood.

The last hint that popped up when they entered the secret room was the most critical secret.

The secret of the maple forest was finally revealed.

The truth was going to come out!

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