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85 Pair of Bloodshot Eyes

    Xue'er watched as the fire continue to rage on, as people attempted to put it out with water, but to no avail.

    She no longer stayed to the end, because there was no longer any excitement she could feel as she watched the flames dance. It was hard for her to feel anything except for the searing temperature that it brought along. She was new to the town and therefore bore no connection to these people who were within the blaze.

    In her eyes they were mere strangers, people she would probably pass on the streets, and forget about in the blink of an eye.

    Fires, in the end, were either accidental or used to cover up something. Judging by the past raining days, the wood of these old houses in the border town would have been completely soaked in water, such that without the use of kindling fluid, it would have been impossible to start such a large fire without it.

    She wondered if the people within were guilty, or innocent. But that did not matter anymore, because they had already died long before this fire had started. Her head involuntarily turned back towards the good samaritans scrambling to get buckets of water trying to save their neighbors.

    She knew herself that she could not be so selfless as them who risked life and limb for people who they were merely acquainted with.

    ~

    At the Hundred Flower Hall, madam Lu was preparing for the most brilliant night ever, though tonight was the night that most men would have the reunion dinner with their families, it did not mean that The Hundred Flower Hall would stay cold and unwelcoming, on the contrary, they would most likely come in the middle of the night to have their fun.

    Madam Lu had just come down from the third floor when she went to look for servant Zhao, who was carefully tidying up the place, a rag was still in her hand as the door was forcefully pushed opened.

    "Servant Zhao, you switched the red scorpion powder for the normal rat poison didn't you." That was the first sentence that came from her mouth, without even allowing servant Zhao a chance to give her a greeting.

    It seemed that madam Lu had already gotten her rundown of everything that had taken place.

    Servant Zhao did not have anything to hide, so she nodded: "Yes, it was my decision."

    "Have you forgotten who your boss is? I specifically wanted red scorpion powder." Madam Lu asked menacingly.

    Servant Zhao did not seem to fear her pressing tone, answering tactfully "Red scorpion powder is used for silent assassinations and is valuable, whereas common rat poison can be found almost anywhere in this town, the constables will not know where to start if rat poison is used and will not exhaust much manpower to search, but if red scorpion powder was used, they will know for sure the death wasn't by accident." She also wanted to say that the death from the red scorpion powder was quite unsightly, causing blood to flow from several orifices two incense sticks after ingestion.

    Though her back was slightly bent before madam Lu, one could not be sure if she was showing respect or bending over to relieve her back pain.

    "You forgot that the magistrate, Wang Bo is wrapped around my finger, I could order him to stop the search." Madam Lu smiled.

    "Wouldn't Wang Daren be more suitable for taking care of large things instead of an accidental fire? Or do you believe that he cannot handle such large problems?" Servant Zhao asked.

    Madam Lu did not care much, she had wanted them dead and now they were, everything could be said to be going well for her. As for Wang Bo, he was very cowardly, he only needed to be threatened for her to get what she desired.

    "Dismissed." She ordered servant Zhao.

    The old servant slowly went out and closed the door behind her. As she walked out she could not help but give a sigh.

    Meanwhile, madam Lu watched the servant's bowed head retreating, angered and fed up with her orders not being carried out to the fullest extent, forcefully gulped down some hot tea to quench the anger building up in her chest.

    The room was a small room, it was not her own, but merely one of the rooms that guests would book, it was set up precisely as a study room, precisely to make the guests feel more at home so they would return more often, forgetting whatever they had in their own homes. How forgetful were people when it came to embracing the new and discarding the old.

    The room had a set of chairs that faced a wooden desk, which had all the things needed to do painting, or brushing up on calligraphy, a pile of decent quality rice paper, a few slabs of ink with the stone to grind it, there were also the brushes made from wolf's hair, and a strange scent of sandalwood lingering in the air, upon closer inspection, she found that there was a box that was carved with ruins too strange for her to understand.

    She did not remember if this was supposed to be in the room or not, but one thing was for certain, this did not belong to her at all, maybe it was left here by accident by one of the guests. Perhaps there was some sort of priceless treasure inside.

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    As she held it in the palm of her hand, she could feel a sticky liquid ooze onto the palm of her hand, bringing along with it, a heavy metallic scent. Opening it, she found that there were a pair of round eyeballs that seemed to have been freshly dug out not too long ago. The pupils were still dark brown and had yet become gray and discolored from the decomposition that would come after there was no longer any blood circulating to the eyes.

    Madam Lu gasped in horror, as she could see that the eyeballs were still locked in an expression of extreme fear, there were no other emotions, but she could imagine the person's entire face as these eyeballs were being gouged out while the person was still alive, and the blood that came along with it.

    She knew who these eyes belonged to. She had frequently seen them in the previous days when she had seduced Ma Wei into doing her bidding, she would never forget them in this lifetime.
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