71 Piter, Patter, Drops of Blood

    It was night by the time Xue'er made her way back outside. Huo momo had attempted to make her stay the night, but she refused politely. Such so that Huo momo could not do much but watch her walk outside.

    To assure Huo momo that she would be fine, she put on the very warm cloak, proving that she would not immediately fall ill after a few minutes out in the cold rain.

    The empty roads were quite deserted as all one could see ahead was a mist of rain. It was like the bottom of a waterfall, wet and with a fog that spread out into the four directions.

    Xue'er took off her cloak, to prevent it from getting wet. Folding it and putting it in her arms. It was a gift that she would never dare use, yet she could make another one that could be worn.

    There was a strange beauty to the quiet and calmness, despite the rain. This night seemed to be the perfect night for murder and bloodshed, with the heavy rains that could seemingly wash away anything, even the most crimson of blood.

    Xue'er decided to walk the other way, to see what this city held.

    There were not many souls on this street that dared to linger around, and even so, they covered themselves with oil paper umbrellas, walking in quick steps.

    There was not a person calmer than Xue'er as she walked into the marketplace. The day had been busy, shown by the grains of millet, and tossed vegetable stalks onto the ground. There were the butchered animal's intestines that had been thrown onto the ground.

    As an animal's inner organs had been closely paired with the onset of diseases and contamination, there was no one really willing to eat it. Even those too impoverished to afford any meat would not so wantonly pick up the organs to bring home and cook with, at most, it would only be the grains or vegetable stalks. Thus, the useless pieces of flesh would rot away, releasing an unpleasant odor.

    Xue'er was completely unfazed by such a scent, as though it was nothing more than common air one needed to take in.

    Looking around, there was a raised wooden platform that seemed to have some uses. With the worn wood, one could tell that the structure was extremely old. The wood was covered in dark brown stains, which at a glance, Xue'er could tell precisely what it was.

    The area that was used as punishment for crimes, right in the middle of the marketplace, where those on the ground would become spectators.

    Xue'er seemed to be looking around as though searching for something.

    She remembered that Xiao Ya had said that she could be found in the marketplace. Yet, in such a large place, a city of a million, could a girl be easy to find?

    Xue'er suddenly stopped, as she looked towards a place that was in an inconspicuous corner. There were burlap sacks that rested there, coming closer, Xue'er looked at the sacks, she reached out a hand to touch it, her brows furrowed, as the collapsed on itself at her touch, spilling onto the ground.

    Inside was a mixture of rice and sand. Xue'er's hand reached out to touch the mixture that had fallen into the puddle, making it as inedible as it already was. It had become nothing but a sludgy mess now, staining her hands with the dark color of mud.

    Her hands rubbed each other, trying to make the mud fall off by itself, it did work, to some degree.

    Yet, there was something else that caught her attention. Among the uniform sounds of the rain pitter-pattering. This sound was like the dropping of a thick and heavy liquid, into a pool of its own.

    There was something about it that drew Xue'er to the strange sound.

    Her body stepped over the puddles that had formed, slowly making her way towards the sound, which had been coming from a small store that was between the two large buildings. It was severely dilapidated, with the wooden boards that once boarded up the store rotting on the front steps and lying lifelessly in the puddles of water.

    The plaque that was suppose to hang above was nowhere to be seen.

    With not much effort, she had entered the small house. The floors were covered in moldy straw and mud, it seemed that it would be impossible to tell the previous color of the ground. Straight away, there was the pungent fishy smell accompanied by that of copper again.

    With a whiff, Xue'er reminiscence the past so quickly. That peculiar smell that one would never be able to forget, once it came your way.

    Her steps could barely count as echoes, as she looked towards the middle of the room, where she saw the outline of a person sitting on a chair.

    Upon closer inspection, it was a middle aged man whose face was covered in blood. The dark crimson droplets had slipped from his eyes which were nothing but empty and hollow holes where the eyes had so ruthlessly been gouged out.

    His entire body had been tied to a wooden chair with rope, and his struggles had caused the ropes to be drenched in his own blood and sweat.

    His original features could no longer be seen, as his skin was swollen, filled with dark red wounds and bruises.

    The clothes he had worn was in tatters, showing the severity of the wounds he had endured. His fingers no longer had its nails were clenched around the armrest of the chair seemingly frozen.

    The man had been dead for a few days now, Xue'er observed, that he was no longer in a stiff position, and his muscles were no longer locked together. They had long since released themselves from the stiff position.

    It had been the rainwater that had mixed with his dried blood, sliding into a puddle that was on the ground that created the unique sound of the melodic droplets.

    She could not feel much for this man who had been tortured and died while he was alive. Who knows what he had done to receive such a punishment.

    Her eyes scanned over the corpse once more, until something caught her eye.

    What's this...?
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