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Published at 10th of January 2016 02:02:03 PM

Chapter Prologue

Prologue: Bloody trigram[1] disk, Part 1 of 3


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Tonight the moon is exceptionally bright, it is covered with a layer of bloody red clouds, originally it should make the moonlight elegant, tonight it unusually causes the moon to look grim and eerie, even the air also seems to smell faintly of blood, two o’clock in the evening it’s unusually quiet, only the gentle sound of rustling leaves can be heard, no one cares about the night sky’s strange appearance.

A Honda off-road police car roared and arrived, with a beautiful fling of its tail, the car stopped in front of the law enforcement building. The car door opened, a pair of slender legs casually got off, the person who arrived is a young woman, tall, lean figure of not less than 175 cm, fine short hair, cool and composed, clad in plain, somewhat wrinkled white shirt. For most of the night, her mood seemed exceptionally good, her eyes showed determination and strength.

Gu Yun slightly squinting looked up, amidst the darkness of the building, there is a room with the lights on, thirteenth floor autopsy room! The corners of her mouth gently lifted, Zhuo Qing did not answer her phone, in all likelihood she’s still performing autopsy!

She walked into the building, the gate guard uncle walked out immediately, came out to check who arrived, uncle casually laughed: “Team Leader Gu, you came for Forensic Investigator Zhuo, ah?” Gu Yun nodded and replied: “Hmm.”

“Just now I went on night patrol, saw the autopsy room lights are on, she should still be busy. You all are really toiling ah!” Already two o’clock in the morning, and still dissecting corpses, this pressure to deliver information fast, criminal investigation – this line of profession is really a tough one.

Gu Yun smiled and shoved open the door leading to the staircase, started to walk up towards floor thirteen. Even under normal circumstances, she’s unlikely to take the elevator, although she is not claustrophobic, she’s simply too disinclined to ride it, that’s all.

Watching her back disappeared in the stairwell, guard uncle laughed and shook his head, “two workaholics.” He has worked for over ten years in the building as a doorman, saw many workaholic young people, to be able to endure hardships is a good deed. These two kids, work hard a few years, they’ll surely be able to get a promotion!

Entering the thirteenth floor, the light in the hallway is also on, but all office doors were locked already, Gu Yun did not go to the autopsy room, but leaned on Zhuo Qing’s office door, she was thinking deeply about the series of murder cases which recently occurred.

Half an hour later, light footsteps from afar were heard nearing, Gu Yun narrowed her eyes to look, Zhuo Qing looking exhausted went out of the autopsy room, behind her also wearing a tired face, was her secretary, Xing Lan, holding a box of exhibits on her arms closely following her.

“How are things? Is the autopsy report ready to come out?” Just now approaching the office, they immediately stopped! Seeing the energetic Gu Yun leaning against the doorframe, Xing Lan wailed! “Team Leader Gu, you are too much! It’s middle of the night, now is only 3:00 o’clock in the morning!”

Gu Yun lightly arched her eyebrow, smiled and said: “And so?”

Defeated, Xing Lan dropped her shoulders, reluctantly replied: “So you wait for a moment, I’ll go and finish it, the report will certainly be out before dawn!” No wonder Team Leader Gu and Doctor Zhuo can become good friends, these two people are workaholics!

Looking at Xing Lan’s drooping head as she entered her office, Gu Yun laughed, raised her voice said: “Thank you very much!”

Zhuo Qing opened her exclusive office on the opposite side, Gu Yun immediately followed her inside, before she could open her mouth, Zhuo Qing with her unique low voice unhurriedly said: “What, on this long night you’re not in the mood to sleep ah?”

“Screw you!” Giving her a sideways glance, Gu Yun denounced: “Since this month’s frequent homicide cases of women, Department Li’s both eyes are almost shooting flames, at the moment criminal investigation department has two teams assigned to work day and night!”

Zhuo Qing casually pulled out the fountain pen which she used to fix her hair, immediately her waist-long hair dangled down, she tiredly sat on the couch, half-squinted her eyes as if she had something in mind, idly asked: “Yesterday, was there any thrill in the results of the provincial level martial arts competition?”

“No!” To bring up this subject she right away got angry, so many cases, yet department leader wanted her also to participate in the provincial competition, every year she’s women’s team number one, no one can be a match to her! Zhuo Qing looked comfortable and appeared to be falling asleep, Gu Yun lightly pat her shoulder, chuckled low: “May I say Miss High and Mighty, I’m here and you have a case to explain to me!”

Narrowing her eyes lightly, Zhuo Qing with her sluggish voice, yet always clear and cold, said: “This dead person and the first three murder cases indeed had things in common, they were all strangled in the trachea and died of suffocation. Moreover, all the ten fingernails were removed. The murders were committed using the same technique, if indeed this is a serial murder case, according to the degree of decay of the corpses, this is the first female victim.”

Listening to the analysis of Zhuo Qing, Gu Yun was also walking back and forth in the office, pondering over the case, suddenly she noticed near the office door a faint gleam of light from an object, went over, picked up and examined it, indeed it is a small golden disk inlaid on one side with a trigram map, encased in an evidence bag, it must be part of the exhibits.

Walking over to Zhuo Qing, Gu Yun asked: “What’s this?”


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Slowly opening her eyes to look at the object in the hands of Gu Yun, Zhuo Qing cursed, Xing Lan, this girl, always works so carelessly, to lose such an important exhibit!

Zhuo Qing sat up straight, replied: “It was found in the victim’s pocket, after waiting for colleagues in the laboratory department to examine it, it will be submitted to you.”

A trigram (bagua) map; photo from take5moment.com

Hearing that the object was part of the exhibits of the case at hand, Gu Yun immediately became animated, since the office was only lit with a small table lamp, Gu Yun just opened the blinds, taking advantage of the unusually bright moonlight tonight, she carefully scrutinized it. Eyes glued to the object in her hands, Gu Yun was completely oblivious to the dark night sky, when she put out the trigram disk at that moment the moon was gradually shrouded with scarlet clouds.

Strange, just a moment ago the color was clearly golden, how come it looks red now?! Is the opposide side the golden one? Turning it over for a closer look, the other side has the same blood red trigram map, the entire small disk seems to glow a faint trace of red light, how is this possible?!

“Hiss -” While wondering, she suddenly felt pain in her hand.

Zhuo Qing got up, walked up behind her and asked: “What’s wrong?”

Lowering her head to examine her finger, she saw a deep bloodstain on her index finger, a few drops of red blood fell on the evidence bag, Gu Yun smiled indifferently, “Nothing, I don’t know what thing I’ve scratched.”

The cut on the finger was deep, blood still steadily dripping, Gu Yun’s indifferent look made Zhuo Qing frown, bringing absorbent cotton from the nearby shelf to cover the wound, Zhuo Qing coldly snorted: “Press the wound!” Gu Yun rolled her eyes, it’s just a little scratch!

Pressing the wound with cotton, it was quickly soaked with blood, Zhuo Qing’s keen eyes glinted, what is so sharp that could cut this way, even the bleeding is difficult to stop?! She took the object in Gu Yun’s hand, looked at it, Zhuo Qing with great alarm: “how could this be?!”

What made the always cold and arrogant Forensic Investigator Zhuo to be shocked ah! Gu Yun also curiously leaned her head, took a glance below, she was also startled and softly cried out: “Blood … soaked in.”

Blood drops originally outside the transparent exhibit bag disappeared, the blood appeared unexpectedly above the blood red trigram map! How is there such a thing, the blood able to penetrate the exhibit bag … !

“Oh, no!” After staring speechless at each other, both cried out in unison: “This time it will be difficult to write the report.”

The two looked at each other and grinned, it’s going to be a headache how to explain why Gu Yun’s blood appeared on the crime’s material evidence, in the meantime no one has noticed that the blood which dripped into the trigram disk seeped along the curved grooves, flowing into the yin and yang elements intersecting in the center …

When the blood fell into the center of the disk, at that exact moment, a strong red light suddenly radiated from the trigram disk, Zhuo Qing and Gu Yun were both shocked, before their own eyes they just saw darkness and fell gently to the ground.

Brilliant rays of light flashed in the chief forensic investigator’s room, lit with only a small table lamp, two figures were lying unconscious on the floor.

The bleeding wound in Gu Yun’s finger instantly healed, leaving no trace of a scar. The golden trigram disk fell lightly beside their bodies, showing nothing of its strange appearance before. Outside the window, on the horizon the moonlight was clear and bright, everything was so tranquil.

[1] The trigram (bagua) (Chinese: 八卦; literally: “eight symbols”) are 8 trigrams used in Taoist cosmology to represent the fundamental principles of reality, seen as a range of 8 interrelated concepts. Each consists of 3 lines, each line either “broken” or “unbroken,” representing yin or yang, respectively. Due to their tripartite structure, they are often referred to as “trigrams” in English. The trigrams have correspondences in astronomy, astrology, geography, geomancy, anatomy, the family, and elsewhere.



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Prologue: Bloody trigram disk, Part 2 of 3

The heavy pouring rain was accompanied by rumbling thunderclaps, the strong wind blew the rickety, broken windows lurching unsteadily from side to side creating such a racket!

Inside a room in the side of a fairly ruined temple, three young women were huddled together, all wearing a red bridal dress, in this dark, gloomy place the stale air of the temple can be breathed everywhere, the scene looked particularly eerie.

The place had no lights, the occasional flashes of lightning illuminated the ruined temple, these sword-like lightning flashes, each lightning flash seemed to strike into the ground, giving off a glaring white light, the startling, deafening sound of accompanying thunderclaps, seemingly made the youngest girl cower in fear.

Tugging her elder sister’s arm, Qing Mo, her head bowed, sobbingly asked: “Elder sister, what do we do now? I’m so scared!”

Lightning flashed one after another, eventually the faces of the women could be seen, the three are blooming beauties, each is elegant, absolutely their left faces are stunning which can make other women jealous, and men adore. Unfortunately, on their right cheeks, were slashed two deep knife marks, nearly destroying the entire right side of their faces, amidst the thunder and lightning in the night, the cuts looked quite grim.

Gently patting her little sister’s shoulders, Qing Ling’s face, looking extremely dejected, mumbled softly: “After crossing over this mountain, as soon as we’re out of the Hao Yue[1] kingdom, do we really have no way to free ourselves from this fate of becoming gifts?”

“I am not willing!” Her stubborn eyes stared unwaveringly at the ruined temple, outside thunder and lightning are accompanying each other, canopy of rain falling, Qing Feng tensely bit her lower lip the broken skin is almost bleeding.

Slowly lifting her head to lean on Qing Feng’s shoulder, Qing Mo wisely comforted her sister, whispered: “Second elder sister, do not be afraid, I heard that you’ll marry that Prime Minister Lou, he’s a rare, modest nobleman, both his political and military achievements, everything’s outstanding, he should not treat you unfairly.” Eldest sister is the most pitiful, to be sent to the emperor’s palace, it is said that the ruler of Qiong Yue[2] is temperamental, bloodthirsty and tyrannical, how will gentle, quiet and refined eldest sister bear it!

Qing Feng scoffed, “Who cares!” She turned around, one hand holding her elder sister’s hand, one hand holding the young girl’s hand, Qing Feng growled fiercely: “I quite hate it! Why should Qiong Yue country’s ruler in a word, at once can do whatever he pleases?! Why did the Qing family have to take responsibility for our king’s incompetence?! Why did he kill our parents, we even have to be bestowed as gifts, as his tribute to flatter Qiong Yue!”

Gently caressing the yelling Qing Feng, because of hatred her face became twisted, Qing Ling head bowed, sighed, said: “On the basis of Qiong Yue being the most powerful among the six countries, the other countries must submit, if the emperor wants his subject to die, his subject has no choice but to die! Who made us be merely several women who lack the strength to truss up a chicken!” (meaning, Who made us to be weak women!)

Fate never rests in their hands.

Shaking off Qing Ling’s hand, Qing Feng quickly got up, turned her back, unwilling to back down: “What can women do! I’m not going to Qiong Yue!”

Looking at her second elder sister’s stubborn back, seeing the eldest sister’s anxious face, Qing Mo timidly said: “Even these faces that everyone admires, we are already ruined, yet they still want to bring us to Qiong Yue! Second elder sister, we simply don’t have the means to change anything, right?”

Gently stroking her cheek, even now the pain remains, dwelling in her soul, Qing Feng took a deep breath, clenched her teeth and replied: “Death, I, Qing Feng, absolutely will not let anyone manipulate me! Especially that person, that fatuous ruler whose hands are stained with the blood of father and mother!”

Qing Ling was startled, anxiously asked: “Feng Er[3], what do you want to do?”

Slowly turning around, Qing Feng clenched her hands into fists, firmly said: “Elder sister, I will stay in Hao Yue, to stay in the side of father and mother, even if what I have to leave behind, is my dead body!”

Dismissing Feng Er’s words as if they were ordinary, a mysterious white lightning striked down, the bright light shined on Feng Er’s face, Qing Ling saw her insistence and determination.

Tightly clutching the hands of Qing Feng, Qing Ling suddenly felt relieved, lightly laughed: “Yes! Elder sister will accompany you, anyway, to keep on living is already meaningless to me.” Not to think about everything to face in the future, perhaps it’s a kind of relief!

Crouching on the floor Qing Mo quickly jumped up, grabbed their hands, hurriedly said: “Whatever the elder sisters will do, I’ll do the same, Mo Er in any case, I’ll never leave you.”


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Qing Ling hesitated, she lovingly looked at the face of innocent Mo Er, she probably does not understand the meaning of death, she’s only fifteen years old ah!

Meeting Mo Er’s pair of innocent, big eyes, Qing Feng felt pain as if a knife’s twisting in her heart, but the thought that she allegedly was promised to that one who is reportedly a notorious, callous butcher on the battlefield, Qing Feng immediately shivered, said: “Elder sister, Mo Er is so pure and kind, to keep her alone alive in this world, she also would just endure hardships, today we are in this dilapidated temple, the whole family will reunite, right?!”

 

The Qing sisters during one of their moments of happiness before tragedy struck in their lives

Watching three pairs of overlapping hands together, Qing Ling suddenly felt warm in her heart, as if to convince herself, Qing Ling forcibly nodded and said: “Yes! Best to have a family reunion!” The three people looked up and glanced at the top of the temple beams, with tacit understanding they looked at each other and laughed, this is after the death of their parents, their first laugh, because after today, they will not any more separate!

Loosening the red silk belts on their waists, stripping off the brilliant red gowns, their bodies wore only the plain white clothes underneath. They lightly tossed above the red silk bands, passing easily through the beam. Three people stood on the broken square table, wrapped their necks inside the red silk bands, without hesitation.

Qing Ling looked around and glanced at her sisters on her side, closed her eyes, and whispered: “Feng Er, Mo Er, in the next life, we will also be sisters!”

“Ah.” Qing Feng, Qing Mo strongly nodded their heads!

Three people holding each other’s hands proceeded, kicked the square table lightly, the red silk bands suddenly tightened, three bright lives gradually passed away.

[1] Hao Yue (皓月) means bright moon; the kingdom where the Qing sisters come from

[2] Qiong Yue (穹岳) means sky high mountain; the most dominant of the 6 kingdoms where the Qing sisters will be delivered to, as gifts or tributes by their own king to the emperor

[3] Er means child; In ancient China, “-er” was usually attached to the last character of a person’s name as an expression of affection. (Source: chenguangsorchard.blogspot.com.au)


 

Prologue: Bloody trigram disk, Part 3 of 3

The soldiers who were escorting the Qing family sisters to Qiong Yue were resting in the main hall of the dilapidated temple, noticed the rain was beginning to stop, suddenly the rain gained momentum and poured heavily again, lightning and thunder increasingly became intense, as if crushing the already tottering ruined temple.   

A young soldier withdrew and stretched his neck. Now it’s still spring, he has already seen so much, nevertheless he also has not experienced during spring in the whole land such a heavy rain! Voluntarily he took a quick look at the side hall of the temple where the Qing sisters were left to themselves, the scene he saw scared him half to death, under the white light of lightning flashes, three vertical shadows were dangling in the air, clothes sleeves fluttering! Shrieking strangely, the young soldier ran frantically to escape, stumbled and fell in front of Li Xu, crying out in alarm: “Ghosts! … There were ghosts!”

“What!” Li Xu was startled, looking along the young soldier’s line of vision, the sight of three hovering shadows shocked him so much he broke out in cold sweat! The Qing family sisters hanged themselves up! Li Xu quickly got up and kicked the side door of the temple, he saw red clothes everywhere, and three pairs of bright red embroidered shoes dangling in front, the frightened Li Xu took a step back, frantically shouted: “Hurry up! Quickly, quickly get them down!”

The group of soldiers were running around in circles, and finally were able to bring down the three women, three bodies whose complexion have already turned black, both eyes tightly closed.   

Li Xu staring at Qing Mo on his left side, anxiously asked: “How is she?”   

The young soldier felt carefully with his hand for Qing Mo’s breath and replied: “… She’s dead.”   

Li Xu shuddered, pointing his hand to Qing Feng, urgently said: “This … this one?”   

After probing for signs of breathing he took back his hand, watching Senior Brother Li’s pale face, he got scared and did not dare answer, he just gently shook his head.

All dead?! Li Xu in cold sweat bravely straightened out his back, these Qing family sisters were chosen by the emperor of Qiong Yue himself as tribute candidates, now all at once they died this way! How could he live! Perhaps the country of Hao Yue is doomed!

Li Xu was in his moments of desperation, suddenly the young soldier cried out: “Senior Brother, the Qing family eldest daughter is still breathing!” Although very faint, but definitely she’s still alive.   

“Really? Great! Get her on a fast carriage, quickly ask a doctor to treat her!”

Finally there is one alive. Li Xu commanded the soldiers, helter-skelter took hold of the bridal dress and draped over Qing Ling’s body, completely forgetting to mind the other two dead bodies on the ground.   

Outside the ruined temple a peal of thunder can be heard, dazzling white light like sharp swords, the corpses on the ground looked even more alone and poor, the young soldier was frightened, but he cannot bear to look at the two pitiful dead women, picked up on the ground the bridal dresses and carefully covered their bodies. Just when he wanted to get up to leave, different from lightning a red light flashed past, two people on the ground who were no longer breathing suddenly opened their eyes …  

“Ah …” His scream resounded through the ruined temple! Li Xu who was outside the main hall came impatiently, expelled his breath, said: “You again hollering, what now?!”

“She … they …” This time, the young soldier is speechless, he just distressedly crawled out of the temple side hall.   

Two corpses of women scared and turned him into this way? Li Xu started to suspect, he entered the side hall again, he discovered the two women who just a moment ago were still and motionless, their chests miraculously are faintly moving up and down, although their eyes are still tightly shut, their faces are not as blue and dark as before!   

“It’s Heaven’s blessing, heaven’s blessing ah!” Li Xu is in ecstasy, they didn’t die! His life is at last saved! “Come, come, take them away!”

 

Rolling towards Qiong Yue where an uncertain fate awaits each of the Qing sisters
(photo taken from kaleidoscope.cultural-china.com)


Amidst wind and rain, the soldiers carried the two women out of the temple, went to the carriage where Qing Ling was, Li Xu suddenly exclaimed: “Wait.”   

 

These three persons were disfigured and tried to commit suicide, this time they didn’t die, but it’s hard to tell what they’ll come up next! From here to Qiong Yue, is more than ten days travel too! In his heart Li Xu was planning, keeping his voice down he said: “Put them separately, alone in each carriage, also they must not be allowed to meet again, their drinking water will be mixed with intoxicating drug, be sure to take them alive to the Qiong Yue country!”   

“Yes.” The three were immediately crammed inside three carriages, before arriving Qiong Yue, they will have no opportunity to meet, but also no chance to run away from the carriages.   

Qing sisters, do not blame me, blame yourselves, who let you look devastatingly beautiful, who let your talents be passionately compelling, who let you be famous in six countries. Qiong Yue country singled you out and demanded you to be their wives, not to mention your faces are disfigured, even to die, you too must die in Qiong Yue, your fates are inexorable!



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