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115 An Anonymous Letter, an Investigation

    "Senior Pei." The young woman dressed in floral cotton greets the young man formally before sitting across from him on a small cushion.

    "Ah Yu, how many times do I have to tell you, you don't need to be so formal." The man who is sitting behind the table says with a gentle smile.

    Her rank was lower than his yet for some reason, he did not want her to be so formal to him all the time. If there was a time they could talk face to face as equals, then he would look forward to that day.

    The young woman lowers her head slightly and says "There are formalities that have to be kept up with."

    "Just call me Senior Pei."

    "Yes." The young woman said woodenly, almost seemingly out of habit, but it did not seem that she was prepared to discard of the formalities.

    The man, seeing that she was unwilling to continue the conversation decided to change the topic, asking "What did you find out?"

    The young woman nodded before saying "A few weeks ago on a heavily raining night, madam Lu made an urgent trip to a small alleyway where there was a rice merchant by the name of Ma Wei who died. His body was quickly discarded into an unmarked gravesite five li from the town. Madam Lu spent the next few days trying to figure out who he had been in contact with over the next few days. On new year's eve, there was was a fire that killed a family of four. I asked around, and it was a man by the name of Sun Cheng, who was Ma Wei's assistant. After that came the death of her associate whom she once went out to meet privately. Recently at the Hundred Flower Hall, there was a lady that came. She seems to be highly respected, though as I was spying on the Hundred flower Hall, I found that madam Lu may have enmity with her."

    Senior Pei closed his eyes as he took in the summarized information from Ah Yu. It was not as though he had not heard of these events, but these events were happening at different times in the span of merely a few months made people wonder if there was some connection between all these events.

    The rice merchant's death shouldn't have been much of a concern after this was the Northern lands, far away from the imperial courts' influences, as it should be. There were plenty of unlawful organizations that were running rampant, and that wasn't in much of their interest to care. Yet, it was now their task to find out how deep their roots ran. An anonymous letter had landed in the hands of the investigation bureau and at the center of everything that had happened stood the brothel.

    With a headache, Senior Pei slowly massaged the place between his eyebrows. They were merely tasked with observing and gathering information first to confirm the validity of that letter first, there was no need to act. Perhaps the easy-going nature this was why he had decided to bring Ah Yu along with him and take this as an outing for the new year, but now that time had passed, and there were just more mysteries that appeared.

    "Okay, we are sure that madam Lu did not give the order to kill Ma Wei." He said, establishing the fact.

    "He may have been colluding with her, which is why she seemed on edge after seeing him that way." Ah Yu said as she was reminded by the shallow grave she dug up to examine the corpse. At first, she had also thought madam Lu had a hand in doing it, but after seeing the corpse for herself, she determined the man must have been tortured for information. She saw why madam Lu would be distressed at looking at such a scene.

    "Yes, I also think that way, but what was her plan that even Ma Wei's assistant Sun Cheng and his family died a few days later on the eve of the new year?"

    "I haven't heard anything about that matter."

    "And her associate, how did he die?" Senior Pei asked as he did not get a briefing on that subject. But for someone to die that suddenly, something must have happened.

    "He was assassinated in a gambling den far from the town. When they found him, it was already past noon. His neck was broken, and his body was sprawled on the ground. But the strange thing was, despite the time that passed, there was never the indication of a bruise on his neck. According to the people there, the assassin must have been an expert to not leave a single trace behind."

    Senior Pei nodded, agreeing with Ah Yu's perspective on things. The anonymous letter had been sent to the bureau of investigations, appearing in one of the files to be read by the commissioner. The letter merely stated that there was a brothel at the border town that did not abide by the government's laws and used it's legal status to do atrocious things. The letter did not specify what those matters were, or even who was the laws. As for who had sent such a letter, no clues were ever found.

    When it came to which brothel the letter was referring to, that was easy considering there was only one such legal establishment in the entirety of the border town. At night, after the sun sets, the place was indeed a brothel where many rich men went to enjoy themselves, yet that place was not as carefree as it seemed.

    All those wealthy men seemed to not have the slightest int of arrogance upon entering the establishment. If that place were truly as one would see it as, a lowly place, then why was there no such incident of a wife going there to retrieve her husband? There was even no such thing as redeeming of the courtesans. It was as though out of all the people who went there for a pleasureful night, not one man thought to redeem a girl as a concubine.

    The only reasonable explanation would be that they feared the establishment somehow. As for whether they feared madam Lu, she was merely a weak woman who was the head madam. That would only mean that behind her was a power worthy of their weariness.

    "Then, we should keep a watch on them to see if they make any moves." At that order, Senior Pei who was extremely sensitive to Ah Yu's change in emotions felt a fluctuation in her calmness. Though it was but a single ripple, she still felt it. "What is it?" He inquired.

    Ah Yu did not find it that surprising that he detected a change in her emotions. After all, he was just as attentive when investigating, so she did not feel anything out of the ordinary. "The woman that recently arrived seems to be an expert. I fear if I get too close, she will be able to sense me."

    "Oh, then do not get too close, we'll find another way to investigate." He said with a gentle smile, assuring her. He was making it clear that there was no need to take any risks if it was unnecessary.

    Ah Yu did not respond, her head slightly lowering to watch the letters on his table.
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