MADNESS OF THE HEART

Chapter 116: Virtuous (Part Thirty-Six)

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The blade had already sliced open a shallow cut on the old man's skin. A viscous trickle of blood dripped down that trembling neck.

Chu Linxiong was tense to the point of nearly fainting.

At that moment, the tightly shut door to the room was smashed open. Detectives and special police swarmed in, pointing the muzzles of their guns at the figures by the wall.

Xiao Yu'an had changed out of his usual attire. He was wearing the same uniform as the members of the Special Police Force.

When he heard the commotion from behind him, Chu Xin stilled his right hand, which held the dagger, for a moment. He was neither surprised nor panicked. In that corner by the wall, where no one could see, a glimmer of warmth filled his eyes.

"Help! Save me!" Chu Linxiong seized upon this ray of hope in a desperate moment. He shamelessly pleaded and struggled. "This man is trying to kill me!"

"Chu Xin," Xiao Yu'an said. "Put down the knife."

Chu Xin didn't turn around. He kept his back to the roomful of police. "What if I don't?"

The sound of a gun being cocked rang out behind him.

The atmosphere in the room was extremely tense, like a heavy weight was bearing down on everyone's shoulders.

No one spoke. No one even dared breathe too heavily. The only sound that filled up the room was Chu Linxiong's laughable pleas for mercy.

"You old beast!" Chu Xin suddenly roared. "Shut the fuck up!"

The cut in Chu Linxiong's throat grew deeper, like it would hit an artery at any second. Chu Linxiong was too afraid to move a muscle.

"You won't kill him," Xiao Yu'an said. His voice was cool and clear, like his words alone could bring down the heat in the tense atmosphere. "You set this stage for the sole purpose of waiting for the police to arrive, isn't that right? Your goal isn't to kill Chu Linxiong today. What you want is for him to lose his reputation, and for him to be punished by the police."

A few seconds later, Chu Xin let out a miserable laugh. His left hand finally released Chu Linxiong, and the dagger in his right hand fell to the ground.

As if he hadn't reacted to this change yet, Chu Linxiong continued to stare at his 'beloved' son with his mouth hanging open.

Chu Xin staggered to his feet and faced Xiao Yu'an, which also brought him face-to-face with the muzzle of a gun. The carefree look with which he'd faced Fang Yuanhang in the past still hung on his face, but there was a powerful sorrow behind that carefreeness now.

"You're wrong," Chu Xin said. "I had two plans."

Xiao Yu'an motioned for the rest of his team to put their firearms away. "If I didn't come, or if I came too late, you would have killed Chu Linxiong and then committed suicide."

The dagger Chu Xin had dropped was lying on the floor next to Chu Linxiong. Upon noticing the cold glint of light that flashed off the blade, Chu Linxiong slowly inched his hand closer.

"You guys did come in the end," Chu Xin said. His tone actually managed to remain relaxed. "If I'm not mistaken, you've installed monitoring devices in here long ago. Everything I've done today has been visible to you. I…"

As he spoke, Chu Xin's eyes suddenly flashed!

But then, he immediately saw Xiao Yu'an draw his gun again—

Bang!

The crisp sound of a gunshot tore through the cold air. Immediately afterwards, a scream rang out from the corner, followed by the sound of a dagger clattering back to the floor and the heavy thud of a body.

Chu Xin looked down and saw that Chu Linxiong was clutching his bloodied right hand and howling with pain.

The dagger had clearly been knocked out of his hand.

Chu Xin flashed a cold smile. He took a few steps and picked up the bloodied dagger. "Wasn't I your most beloved child? You killed an innocent man for me, and now you're trying to kill even me? You old beast. Are you completely senile already?"

Chu Linxiong couldn't hear a word he was saying. He flailed on the ground in pain as blood continued to gush out of his wounded hand. Xiao Yu'an's shot had been sharp and perfectly aimed; he'd completely shattered Chu Linxiong's wrist.

"Take them away," Xiao Yu'an said. He holstered his gun again and calmly issued orders to the police around him.

Chu Linxiong was picked up by two members of the Special Police Force. He panickedly shouted, "Release me!"

Chu Xin stood aside. His eyes were half-crinkled with a smile.

"How could I have a son like you?" Chu Linxiong's eyes were thoroughly bloodshot. As he was led away, he twisted around and roared, "I shouldn't have saved you back then!"

"So you do regret it?" Chu Xin was still grinning. "You do repent?"

Chu Linxiong refused to listen. "You vile creature! What kind of bitch were you born to?! You and Lin Xi both deserved to die!"

Chu Xin's brow furrowed. His gaze became even colder.

Outside, Chu Linxiong's curses continued to echo down the hallway. It wasn't like the voice of an old man, struggling in his old age, at all. It was like the sound of a demon struggling against the throes of death.

After what felt like a very long time, this demon's voice finally disappeared completely. Not even an echo remained.

Chu Xin took a few steps back. His back hit the wall, and a few rivulets of sweat dripped down his cheek and slid towards his neck.

His face turned a ghastly white. The calm he'd maintained a moment ago was nowhere to be seen. It was like he'd completed an important task. And from that moment on, he had no more attachments to this world.

Some of the special police withdrew from the room. Xiao Yu'an asked, "Can you walk on your own?"

Chu Xin's body slowly slid down the wall. He covered his chest with his right hand. The cold sweat that poured down his face grew more noticeable. Slowly, ever-so-slowly, his lips quirked into a grin.

"Director Xiao?" a police officer called out.

"Get him to a hospital right away," Xiao Yu'an said.

 

The police cars sped off into the distance, racing through the cold and bleak night.

Autumn was a peculiar season. It painted the city and the mountains with very different brushes. In the city, as the temperature dropped, people all donned thick coats. At a glance, the streets would be filled up with darkly dressed pedestrians. But in the mountains, the cold autumn air gusted through a colorful wonderland of trees.

Chu Xin kept a hand pressed tightly to his chest. He looked out the window at the colors that flew past.

They were like rainbows, almost blinding in their beauty.

The corners of his eyes grew warm, like something was trickling out.

Were they tears?

Chu Xin wanted to lift a hand to wipe at the corners of his eyes, to prevent that warm feeling from mixing with the cold sweat staining his skin. But he had one hand pressed to his chest, and his other arm felt like it had been pumped full of lead. He couldn't lift either hand at all.

The colors outside the window began to blur. He blinked fiercely, trying to clear his sight.

But it was no use. He couldn't see clearly anymore. His ears felt like they had been blocked up too.

He opened his mouth and struggled to draw a breath. His heart was burning so hotly that it felt like it might explode or melt, all at once. Even his palms felt like they were burning.

He had a feeling someone in the car was calling out to him, but that voice grew more and more distant.

He had a thought. The feeling of death… was probably something like this.

"A mother is the world's best gift, a child with a mother is truly beloved…"

Chu Xin opened his eyes in a dense darkness. A sharp light flooded in, so bright that it made his aching eyes hurt even more.

He found himself gazing upon a lavish room, in which an exquisitely dressed woman was cradling an infant, gently rocking the child as she sang.

She had a beautiful face, but it was a face that would inflict a lifetime of misery on her.

At that moment, her face was weary. Even the most expensive jewels and accessories couldn't dispel the darkness in her eyes.

Chu Xin knew this was his mother, Lin Xi. He knew he was the child in her arms.

Lin Xi continued to sing as the infant slept peacefully.

Soon, Lin Xi placed the baby in its crib and stroked its few tufts of hair. She whispered something that no one could hear.

The baby shouldn't have formed any memories of this moment, but for as long as he could remember, Chu Xin often hummed that tune.

This was the only song his mother had ever sung to him.

He had been born into the richest family in Dongye City. Chu Linxiong had been able to give him everything he wanted. But he couldn't give Chu Xin a mother.

When Chu Xin was very little, Lin Xi had been held captive by the Chu family. That was the only time in his whole life that Chu Xin was with his mother.

Later, when Chu Linxiong stopped holding Lin Xi prisoner, Lin Xi instantly fled in a panic like the child left behind wasn't her child at all.

Chu Xin didn't have a mother.

His mother didn't want him.

His mother hated him as much as she hated his evil father.

Ever since he was a child, Chu Xin suffered from a heart condition. Doctors said he might not have long to live.

The image in front of Chu Xin's eyes shifted. He watched as that small infant turned into a little boy. Then the boy grew into a sickly teenager. In all those years, no one was at that child's side.

The teenager was in poor health. While receiving treatment, he was instructed to practice martial arts as well. Chu Linxiong hoped that he would be able to improve Chu Xin's physical health through those means.

The corners of Chu Xin's lips curved with a bitter smile.

What tormented him the most had never been the disease. It had always been loneliness. He'd lived what outsiders would consider a perfect life, surrounded by servants and guards. All his wishes were granted. Everything he wanted was fed directly to him on a silver spoon.

But this sort of life wasn't what everyone desired.

He'd always wondered, Why don't I have a mother? Why doesn't my family want me?

As he reached maturity, he became the most outstanding youth in the Chu family. Chu Linxiong brought him to various business functions, and for a while Chu Xin's presence overshadowed those of Chu Linxiong's four legitimate heirs.

But his heart grew worse and worse each year. When he was twenty-six, it seemed his heart wouldn't go on for much longer.

Chu Xin didn't personally feel much regret.

He had never been very attached to his life. Loneliness had cast a heavy shadow on him, one that had made its home inside his blood and bones. A person as lonely as him simply wasn't afraid of death.

But Chu Linxiong had told him, I won't let you die.

Was he to have a heart transplant surgery?

Being sick for a long time was one way to learn about medicine. Chu Xin's understanding of his own illness was no more shallow than that of trained doctors. He knew that his condition had progressed to a point where a heart transplant was the only way to extend his life.

However, the risk of a heart transplant surgery was very high. Some people died on the operating table. Some rejected the new heart and lived only an additional two or three months. Even those favored by the heavens rarely lived past ten years.

If Chu Xin had been asked for his true feelings and wishes, he would have revealed he didn't want this surgery. But Chu Linxiong insisted on it, and said he'd already arranged an overseas surgical team.

Chu Xin had very little desire to live, but he couldn't be bothered to rebel against Chu Linxiong. Rather than argue with Chu Linxiong, he spent more of his time wondering—why did he have to go overseas for the surgery?

The surgeons from Country B weren't much more impressive than domestic surgeons. Any surgery that doctors in Country B could perform could have been performed by domestic doctors as well.

To explain that away, Chu Linxiong had said that Country B was a more suitable environment for Chu Xin's postoperative recovery.

That explanation did make sense. But when Chu Xin actually arrived in Country B and reached a well-equipped 'transplant center', he suddenly discovered that things weren't what he'd imagined they would be.

In any country, legitimate heart transplant surgeries should have been carried out in a hospital. Although the place he was brought to was a 'transplant center' in name, it was actually some institution far away from the city.

The surgeries that took place here couldn't possibly be legitimate!

Chu Xin immediately understood why Chu Linxiong had sent him to Country B—what was about to take place was an illegal operation. The heart didn't come from a willing donor. With how closely these things were monitored back home, Chu Linxiong couldn't have conducted this operation in secret, even with all the power at his disposal.

That was why the surgery had to be performed in Country B.

But there were so many heart donors. Why not use one of those hearts?

Chu Xin gave it a lot of thought. Could it be that they couldn't find a match for him? Or was he not high up enough on the waiting list for a heart?

No, it couldn't be!

With Chu Linxiong's power, there was absolutely no such thing as a 'waiting list'.

Then why did Chu Xin have to be sent abroad for an illegal transplant? What was so special about the person providing this heart?

Suddenly, Chu Xin remembered that Chu Linxiong had always reassured him that the surgery would definitely succeed. Chu Linxiong told him countless times that he wouldn't reject this heart.

Could it be…

Chu Xin hadn't dared pursue that line of thinking any further.

Even doctors wouldn't dare guarantee that a patient wouldn't reject their new heart. How could Chu Linxiong guarantee it?

Chu Linxiong's constant 'definites' had to be exaggerations. But it must have meant that Chu Linxiong was confident that the risk of rejection was minimal.

Did that mean the heart that would be put into Chu Xin's chest had to be taken from the chest of one of his own young, healthy relatives?

When faced with that question, Chu Linxiong had responded with silence at first. After a long while, he curtly answered, "You only need to think about living well. I won't allow you to die."

Chu Xin had refused. He'd resisted and fought back, but Chu Linxiong had him captured and restrained.

Ever since he was little, Chu Xin had been a person with relatively mild emotions. That was partly because of his innate disposition and partly because of his lifelong disease. At age twenty-six, he experienced his first bout of rage and indignation. But there was nothing he could do to stop this cruel exchange of a life for a life.

Like a scene out of a movie, the twenty-six-year-old Chu Xin fell to hysterics. He fought and struggled and demanded to meet his donor. His doctors, nurses, and bodyguards all rushed to restrain him, giving him a sedative to keep him calm.

But almost by chance, he was ultimately still able to meet the man who was about to die for him.

Outside this grisly tableau of the past, in the present, the thirty-three-year-old Chu Xin's eyes were already thoroughly red.

The operation had been scheduled for a week after that. Chu Xin had already spent four months at the 'transplant center' by then. He was no longer going crazy whenever he wasn't medicated. His bodyguards relaxed around him, occasionally allowing him to take walks through the courtyard alone.

The main building of the 'transplant center' wasn't very large, but the courtyard was spacious and the air there was fresh. It was like this region hadn't been affected by industrialization at all.

As he ventured deeper into the courtyard, he suddenly heard a small sound and turned to find a man standing in a nearby copse of trees.

The man had clearly noticed him as well. His face was full of surprise.

Lin Xi's beauty had been inherited by both her sons. Although their figures were very different, their facial features were strikingly similar.

In an instant, Chu Xin realized that this man was his donor. His brother!

That man, however, wasn't so bright. He remained frozen for a moment before he took a few steps forward. "You are…?"

The corners of Chu Xin's lips twitched. His throat felt like a vice had clamped down around it. He rasped, "What's your name?"

"Bai Ying." The man looked down at the hospital gown he was wearing, then seemed to realize something as well.

Chu Xin felt his own heart, his liver, his spleen, his lungs all tremoring as he reached out and pulled Bai Ying into an embrace. His questions spilled rapidly from his lips. "Where are you from? What are your parents' names?"

"Dong… Dongye City. No, Jingli City." Bai Ying seemed a little alarmed. "My parents…"

Before any more words could fall from his lips, a team of medical staff rushed over and took Bai Ying away.

Bai Ying turned back and looked at Chu Xin in a daze.

That image remained frozen in Chu Xin's mind, painfully seared into his soul as an everlasting brand.

The only thought that remained in Chu Xin's mind was that he had to save Bai Ying! Bai Ying couldn't die!

But ever since that unexpected encounter, he was placed under even stricter supervision.

Before the surgery, Chi Mingyue placed a tablet in front of Chu Xin. "I know you're brothers, but don't feel too bad. This is what the world is like. Everyone has their own life. Some people are born to glory and wealth, while others are born to give their life for others. Chu-xiansheng, you don't have the power to change all that."

On the tablet, a video began to play.

Bai Ying faced the camera with an uneasy smile. It was several seconds before he managed to say, "Didi."

Chu Xin froze on the hospital bed. His sorrow crashed over him like a flowing river, pouring through his heart and his limbs.

For the first time, he felt that he wasn't alone. He had family too.

But this family was going to leave him too soon!

He reached out and numbly touched the person on the screen, hoarsely rasping, "Ge…"

"I know what's going to happen to me. This whole life of mine… seems like it's been nothing but suffering. I… I don't have the ability to change that," Bai Ying said. He knew it was the end of his life. He couldn't help his voice from gently trembling with fear.

Chu Xin grit his teeth, but a quiet whimper still slipped past his lips.

Bai Ying was silent for a while. "But when I saw you that day, I realized this is probably the only mercy the heavens will grant me."

As he spoke, Bai Ying lowered his head. He slowly lifted a hand and covered his heart, then lifted his head again. "This heart will save you, my only relative. I… I can feel at peace. Didi…"

Bai Ying paused, the continued, "I can call you that, right? You… please live well. I haven't been a very useful big brother all my life. I hope, at the end, I can protect you at least this once. My heart is healthy, and I'm pretty healthy, even though I've been in prison. But I worked out even when I was in prison, because I thought, after I got out I could…"

Bai Ying shook his head and laughed. "Forget it. It's better not to talk about these things. Afterwards, after you recover, pay Mount Qiyue a visit for me. There's a temple there. Many years ago, I fell off a cliff on that mountain. The monks at that monastery saved me. They're all good people."

Chu Xin nodded silently. His tears flowed silently. But the Bai Ying in the video, of course, couldn't see his response.

Off-screen, someone seemed to gesture to Bai Ying that they were short on time. Bai Ying pursed his lips. It looked like there was still a lot he wanted to say, but he couldn't find the right words right away. After a few seconds of a dazed silence, he struggled to calm himself and finally showed the camera a smile that was full of forgiveness. "Live well. Being able to protect you is the greatest fortune in my unfortunate life."

"Ah—"

Chu Xin let out a guttural sound. Chi Mingyue took the tablet back and calmly asked, "Isn't it good, to be able to survive?"

"Why?" Chu Xin rasped. "It isn't right!"

"I told you just now that everyone has their own life. This is his life," Chi Mingyue said. "And it's my life to do this surgery. It's yours to receive his heart. If you have to have a reason, then I can only say that whether someone is fortunate or unfortunate… ultimately comes down to luck."

"Just because of luck…" Chu Xin muttered.

Chi Mingyue turned. "I would advise you to remain calm. This surgery is unavoidable. If I were you, I would live for him. Live well, and peacefully, as he would want you to live."

In the end, the operation went according to plan. No one came to put a stop to this preposterous exchange of lives.

Chu Xin went under, then woke as though from a long nap. He woke with his brother's heart beating in his chest.

He placed his hand over his chest and closed his eyes, feeling the slaughter, the warmth.

The operation was a success. Chu Xin returned to his country the following year, but gradually drew away from the Chu Group with the excuse that his body was no longer suitable for such intense work.

There was something else, something more important, that he had to do.

Bai Ying wanted him to live well, but he was destined to let Bai Ying down.

For an ordinary person, finding someone's identity would be no easy matter. But for those who had money and power at their disposal, any challenge became a simple task.

Bai Ying used to live in Dongye City, then later lived in Jingli City. He'd also been in prison…

As soon as he started to investigate, Chu Xin learned that a prisoner named 'Bai Ying' had escaped from a prison in Jingli City. And the photo of this prisoner that had been released to the police was of a man who looked exactly like the man Chu Xin saw at that 'transplant center'.

This man was his brother!

Chu Linxiong was able to learn who took Bai Ying out of prison, why Bai Ying was imprisoned, and why Bai Ying left Dongye City for Jingli City. He conducted his investigation in secret, under the guise of resting and recuperating.

He finally understood why he didn't have a mother, and he finally knew why that one song was the only song he'd ever hummed as a child.

His birth was a sin committed by Chu Linxiong!

Chu Xin left behind his wealth and status to become a monk on Mount Qiyue.

Chu Linxiong had flown into a rage, and Chu Qing and all the others had looked at Chu Xin with suspicion.

"I'm tired," Chu Xin said to each and every one of them. "If you want me to live for a few more years, leave me alone."

His reason for becoming a monk was to completely cut ties with the Chu family, in order to better seek out his revenge. It was also to carry out Bai Ying's dying wish.

Bai Ying had asked him to go to Haijing Temple. Bai Ying had spoken of the kind monks who'd saved him.

But things had changed. When Chu Xin looked into the details of everyone at Haijing Temple, he learned that this was no longer a place where kind-hearted people practiced Buddhism.

They were all demons wearing the skin of compassionate souls, carrying out fake acts of kindness to disguise the darkness in their hearts—they were all just like Chu Xin.

They were demons disguised as humans, wearing masks of kindness. They were hypocrites.

Two years ago, after the Chu Group finally stopped surveilling him, and after his body finally recovered—

Chu Xin made his move.

The brutish Cao Fenghuai couldn't even remember Bai Ying, who he'd forced into taking the blame for his crimes. When Chu Xin confronted him, he only shouted, "Let me go! I have money! I'll give you anything you want!"

"I want you to pay for Bai Ying's life!" A cold dagger flashed in the light, and blood gushed forth from Cao Fenghuai's throat.

Cao Fenghuai's wife didn't deserve to die. She hadn't even known Cao Fenghuai when he forced Bai Ying to take the blame for his crime. She was innocent.

"No one can claim they're innocent," Chu Xin muttered as he plunged the knife into the woman's flesh. "Does innocence mean you can't die?"

Next, Gong Guozhen's family.

Gong Guozhen remembered Bai Ying. He knelt on the ground and sobbed as he begged for mercy, pleading with Chu Xin to let his family go.

"Just kill me, please! I'm guilty! But they didn't know anything!"

Chu Xin laughed riotously. "Didn't know? You brought home that much cash all of a sudden. How could your wife and son not know?"

Gong Guozhen continued kowtowing before him. "I was wrong! I was wrong!"

"Can you be forgiven just because you admit your wrongs? If you really believe that, then you've led a far too easy life." The flames of rage and loathing erupted in Chu Xin's eyes. He killed the grandson and the wife right in front of Gong Guozhen, one after the other.

Gong Guozhen's turn came last.

Another year passed. The gingko leaves were falling on Mount Qiyue, and the demons at the temple were killing one another.

Chu Xin coldly observed as Mou Haiyuan carried out those murders in the name of 'atonement', and he emotionlessly stood by as Yin Xiaofeng carried out his retaliation. Chu Xin didn't intervene or get involved in these matters. He only quietly stole the iron nails from the isolation room in the back courtyard of the temple.

Those long nails had been in the temple for many years. They were the perfect tools for punishing the wicked.

He had originally intended to nail them all into Chu Linxiong's body.

However, Mou Haiyuang's 'atonement' inspired him.

Initially, his plan was to avenge Bai Ying with these brutal killings. His last target would have been himself, while his penultimate target would have been Chu Linxiong.

After killing Chu Linxiong, he'd planned on committing suicide.

But as he took in the murders carried out by Mou Haiyuan in his madness, Chu Xin suddenly began to feel like just killing Chu Linxiong wasn't enough. Death would be too cheap for a demon like that.

He didn't just want Chu Linxiong to die. He wanted Chu Linxiong to lose his reputation. He wanted the Chu family to crumble to dust!

He wanted the police to put Chu Linxiong on trial!

In order to do that, he had to create a criminal case which would grab the attention of everyone in the city. He, Chu Xin, would naturally become the focus of that case. As long as the police investigated deeply enough, a series of long-buried truths would emerge like a huge ship steaming forth from a dense fog.

Mount Qiyue had become a net-famous tourist site. If countless pairs of innocent eyes were to land upon a corpse there, the reaction from the public was sure to be explosive.

Chu Xin knew that Mou Haiyuan had already killed three monks. If Chu Xin brought out those corpses and allowed them to be found, the public would surely be shocked. But something he hadn't anticipated happened—Yin Xiaofeng, that psychopath, actually killed the influencer who'd hyped up Mount Qiyue.

The corpse of Qiushan Wangmian was sure to arouse a greater quake of public attention than the bodies of three nameless monks.

When night fell, Chu Xin dug up the body Yin Xiaofeng had buried, intending to dismember the corpse and chuck the pieces all over the mountain. But two girls stumbled upon his actions by chance.

They were two beautiful girls who had nothing to do with his convoluted plan.

But since they saw this tableau, they could no longer be allowed to live.

The nails Chu Xin had prepared for Chu Linxiong were eventually used on those girls.

The scene he created was immaculate, allowing him to both mislead the police and hide his own identity in the early stages of the investigation. He lured the police deeper and deeper into his web, step by step.

The only true pity was the deaths of those girls.

In this hideous net of revenge he was weaving, they were the only true innocents.

But what had Chi Mingyue said?

Sometimes, whether a person was fortunate or unfortunate simply came down to luck.

"My brother was innocent." Chu Xin, in the present, heard his own past self whispering these words. "Was anyone ever kind to him while he lived?"

The police were the biggest variable in Chu Xin's plan. Chu Xin was worried that the police would be too incompetent to realize that he was a key piece in the puzzle which lay in this dense fog. He was also worried that they would tie the case to the Chu Group too soon.

He had no faith in the police.

Chu Linxiong had been able to commit crimes throughout his whole life. Gong Guozhen had been able to take Bai Ying away from prison. Cao Fenghuai had been able to force Bai Ying to take the fall for his crime. All these things, more or less, were because of the failings of the police.

Now, the Chu Group's status in Dongye City was practically incomprehensible to ordinary people. Whether or not the police could take down the Chu Group, whether or not the police would even try, was something Chu Xin couldn't be sure of.

That was why he had to create such a big case, and that was why he had to obscure his own identity at first.

He had to push the police to the point of no return. He had to make them climb onto the back of this wild tiger, unknowingly reaching a point where they could no longer climb off.

If he still failed in the end, then…

Chu Xin smiled bitterly.

Then he would have had to leave it to another 'avenger'.

Because of the video Chi Mingyue had shown him, Chu Xin hadn't originally planned on doing anything to Chi Mingyue. But then Chi Mingyue committed suicide, while wearing surgical robes of all things. The police in Country B ruled it a suicide brought on by stress.

But Chu Xin knew that someone was secretly controlling Chi Mingyue.

He didn't know who this person was, and he didn't bother to try to find out. The thought that someone else was willing to avenge Bai Ying gave him an indescribable feeling of joy.

The images swimming in front of his eyes blurred again. His heart ached so much.

He pressed down hard on his chest and whispered, "I'm sorry."

I'm sorry, Bai Ying.

 

When Ming Shu returned to Dongye City, Chu Xin was still lying in the intensive care unit at the hospital. He had yet to regain consciousness.

"You knew from a long time ago that Luo Yi wasn't the killer in the other three cases?" Ming Shu asked.

Xiao Yu'an shook his head. "I suspected, but I wasn't sure. From the clues we had at the time, Luo Yi had a stronger motive than anyone else, and he suddenly disappeared. But when I went to visit Chu Linxiong, Chu Linxiong gave me a name—Chi Mingyue."

When Yi Fei interrogated Luo Yi, Luo Yi had shown him the video of Chi Mingyue falling under his hypnosis four years ago. Although Ming Shu wasn't in the interrogation room at the time, he'd also heard that conversation.

"Chu Linxiong confessed to me that Chu Xin had an illegal heart transplant in Country B seven years ago, and the main surgeon on the team was Chi Mingyue, who was very well-known in Country B. Four years ago, Chi Mingyue committed suicide and died in a suspicious way," Xiao Yu'an said. "I suspected Chi Mingyue was influenced, which was why he jumped from that roof. Luo Yi is a psychiatrist, and when Chi Mingyue died, Luo Yi was still overseas.

"If Luo Yi was avenging Qin Ying, then Chi Mingyue's case definitely had something to do with him. But the three cases which occurred here were all brutal slaughters. The serial killer in those three cases had a sort of consistency to his actions. These three cases didn't seem like the work of the person behind Chi Mingyue's death."

Ming Shu nodded. " If Chu Xin wanted to kill Chu Linxiong, he could have done so pretty easily. But he never did, partly because he wanted to save the source of all this evil for last, and partly because he wanted to carry out his actions right under the noses of the police."

"He didn't trust the police, but he still ultimately pinned his hopes on the police," Xiao Yu'an said. "Chu Xin is a very contradictory person."

Ming Shu looked back. "How are we going to deal with this Chu family mess?"

"We'll report it," Xiao Yu'an said. "Chu Xin ultimately gave up on killing Chu Linxiong and chose to 'cooperate' with the police, most likely in order to completely destroy the 'empire' that Chu Linxiong had built."

Ming Shu gazed in the direction of the intensive care unit and frowned slightly. "Who knows when Chu Xin will wake up."

"The cases on Mount Qiyue aren't fully resolved yet. This isn't over." Xiao Yu'an sighed. "You head back and take a shower, rest up for a while."

 

Three days later, Chu Xin woke from his coma. The first thing he saw upon opening his eyes was Ming Shu.

"I…" Chu Xin couldn't move right away. His body seemed to be pressed down to the bed by a pair of invisible hands, with a force that he couldn't shake off.

Ming Shu approached and looked down at Chu Xin with a grave expression.

"You want to interrogate me now?" Chu Xin managed to curve up the corners of his lips into a smile, though it was an obvious struggle. "Then you should at least help me sit up."

This was a private room with only one bed. Outside, the city's elite police officers were guarding the door. Ming Shu didn't do as Chu Xin requested, instead calling for a doctor and nurse.

The machines in the room emitted dull, monotonous sounds. After examining those machines, the doctor said that the patient's condition was still unstable. He could be questioned, but if anything unusual occurred, the police would have to stop right away.

Ming Shu made a sound of acknowledgement.

"I know what you want to ask." Chu Xin's face was pale. After shedding his carefree disguise, he looked almost lifeless. "I'm the 'avenger' you're looking for. Cao Fenghuai and his wife, Gong Guozhen and his wife and grandson, Qin Xiong's family. They were all killed by me. And…"

Chu Xin spoke very slowly, as if he could barely draw enough air to speak. "And those two girls. That was me as well…"

"Lu Chen and Zhao Siyan?" Ming Shu hadn't expected to hear that the victims Lu and Zhao had also died at Chu Xin's hands. He felt genuinely sorry to hear the confirmation of that from Chu Xin's own mouth.

They were innocent. They'd only gone to Mount Qiyue on a whim, to take in the beauty of the mountain before the swarm of seasonal tourists could descend upon the majestic mountain.

Perhaps they should have listened to Fang Pingxu's advice, perhaps they shouldn't have stayed on the mountain after dark, but they didn't deserve to pay with their lives.

"I'm sorry." Chu Xin's eyes fell halfway shut. He gazed up at the ceiling for a long while. "They had bad luck. They were unfortunate enough to meet me, a…"

Before he could finish, Chu Xin closed his mouth, like he had to think about how to describe himself.

Half a minute later, he shook his head with a bitter smile. "Me, a beast. They were really unlucky. Originally, I planned on using that influencer's corpse to draw attention to Mount Qiyue. But those girls saw me, and one of them took a picture of me with her camera."

Chu Xin's voice was faint. "I couldn't allow myself to be exposed yet. So they had to die."

"What about Mou Haiyuan?" Ming Shu asked. "You found out the Kui Chen at the temple was no longer Kui Chen, so you…"

"That wasn't me, it was Yin Xiaofeng," Chu Xin interrupted with a smile. "I had no choice but to kill those two girls, but Kui Chen was insignificant to me. It didn't matter how much he deserved to die. There was no need for me to act against him. When you first came to Mount Qiyue to investigate, I told you. There are no good people at Haijing Temple. Every one of us there…"

Saying that, Chu Xin pointed at his own heart. "We all have wild, mad demons in our hearts. But you had to find the evidence on your own. I could only tell you that Yin Xiaofeng isn't just schizophrenic. He has multiple personalities as well."

The wind outside the window grew stronger. The branches, each laden with only a few remaining leaves, rustled and cut apart the rays of sunlight that fell upon the glass.

This sort of sunny day was unusual for autumn and winter.

"What about Chu Linxiong?" Chu Xin asked. "I've already done this much. You… you people won't give him a pass just because of the Chu Group, will you?"

"What makes you think we'll turn a blind eye to Chu Linxiong's crimes?" Ming Shu seethed.

"Good. If you won't, that's good." Chu Xin turned and gazed out the window. The sunlight that struck his face illuminated his eyes, which then slowly dimmed.

The numbers and graphs on the machines around him suddenly changed. The doctor rushed back into the room, and Ming Shu took a final look at Chu Xin.

The lips of this 'avenger' were ever-so-slightly curved, as though with the illusion of a smile.

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