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The King of Detectives

4

Prowling Predators

34

For a legal journalist, establishing contact with Han Yun through police channels would have been a straightforward task. However, Su Mo had opted for a more dramatic approach, disrupting the press conference to capture his attention.


Han Yun settled into his chair, retrieved his laptop, and launched Weibo. He initiated a search for the Beidu Legal Daily.


Within moments, the official Weibo account of the Beidu Legal Daily surfaced, accompanied by the personal Weibo accounts of verified Beidu Legal Daily editors, reporters, and distributors.


Scrolling down, Han Yun found several Weibo accounts with orange V badges verifying them as "Beidu Legal Daily reporters." He clicked on a few of them and eventually came across a selfie on a Weibo account named Mystery Lover Mo.


The girl in the photo was the same one who had caused a scene at the press conference.


After browsing through all of Su Mo's Weibo posts, Han Yun discovered that she had only become an intern at the Beidu Legal Daily after graduating from college more than a year ago. After months of hard work, she had finally been hired as a full-time reporter.


Due to her childhood fondness for detective novels, Su Mo found her job as a legal reporter highly fulfilling. It allowed her to immerse herself in cases, experiencing the thrilling and suspenseful process of police solving crimes, while also upholding justice and earning public respect.


Furthermore, Han Yun noticed that "Mystery Lover Mo" had followed his Weibo account and even liked one of his previous posts. The liked post was from two years ago, when Su Mo was still in college and Han Yun had just participated in the "Ultimate Brain" competition. It seemed that Su Mo had been following Han Yun's activities all along.


So, was this the reason why Su Mo had sought him out?


After some deliberation, Han Yun opened his private messages, located a photo on his phone, cropped it to show only a third of the image, and sent it to Su Mo. He added a message below: "I'll be here at 8:00 tomorrow morning."


The cropped photo showed only the sky and a small portion of a building. The full photo was of a coffee shop that Han Yun visited every morning after moving to his new place.


After sending the message, Han Yun closed Weibo, set his laptop aside, stood up, and glanced once more at the paper pinned to the wall with the name "Su Mo" written on it. Then, stretching, he left his study.


In the living room, there used to be a full-length mirror next to the door. After Han Yun moved in, he covered the entire mirror with a completely scrambled painting, effectively blocking it from view.


To an ordinary observer, the painting would appear utterly indecipherable. However, if someone were to meticulously reassemble it, piecing each fragment back into its original position, they would unveil a face – a youthful, imaginary face conjured by Han Yun's mind.


There had been times, including even now, when he couldn't shake the conviction that the face in the painting was the one that was truly meant to be his, rather than the face he now wore.


He had a profound connection to the face in the painting, a connection that was inextricably intertwined with a name – Qin Xiang.


The face in the painting belonged to Qin Xiang.


Beyond the face and the name, Han Yun's memories of Qin Xiang were fragmented and incomplete, defying any attempt to piece them together into a coherent narrative. Just as his memories of Qin Xiang were fragmented, so too were his memories of himself.


Han Yun had once been in a deep coma for seven years. When he awoke, his mind was a complete blank slate, like an unwritten sheet of paper.


The first thing he wrote on a blank piece of paper after waking up was given by his parents. They told him his name was Han Yun, and that he had fallen down a mountain seven years ago while hiking, hitting his head and becoming a vegetative state.


Han Yun initially accepted this identity, but it wasn't long before another face was automatically drawn on the blank piece of paper, along with another name and scattered memories of that other name.


The memories of Qin Xiang had once overwhelmed Han Yun, and during that time he was so terrified that he even thought that he might have been bewitched by some half-immortal, who had switched his (Qin Xiang) soul into Han Yun's body.


Seeing that their son, who had finally awakened, was talking nonsense and acting crazy all day long, the parents discussed and found a psychologist to counsel their son.


After a thorough diagnosis, the psychologist explained that Han Yun, who had been in a vegetative state for seven years, had an active brain even during his coma. This resulted in the creation of another persona named Qin Xiang. In other words, Qin Xiang did not exist in reality but only in Han Yun's mind during those seven years of coma.


Compared to the soul-swapping theory, the psychologist's explanation was more acceptable and scientifically sound.


However, Han Yun was always plagued by the question, "Does Qin Xiang really not exist in reality?" This was one of the main reasons he agreed to become a "case consultant" for the Beidu Police Department after participating in the "Ultimate Brain" competition.


While assisting the police in solving cases, he also used the convenience of his position to investigate the "Qin Xiang" who had always existed in his memories.


There were many people named Qin Xiang all over China, and Han Yun did not let go of any of them. He investigated them all thoroughly, but in the end, he found that there was not a single person named Qin Xiang who matched the image and experiences in his mind.


Only then did he fully admit that the psychologist was right: Qin Xiang only existed in his mind, only during those seven years of coma. It was during the coma that he created this person and used this person's image to continue living in his mind.


So from then on, he began to try to forget Qin Xiang and strive to accept the role of Han Yun.


However, this was not easy.


Han Yun stared at the chaotic puzzle image in the mirror for a while, then walked straight into the bedroom. There was a bed in the bedroom, but the bedding was spread on the floor between the bed and the wall.


The cramped sleeping space made him feel more secure.


He took off his outer clothes and T-shirt and threw them casually on the bed. Without turning on the light, he walked over to the bedding and lay down, his body against the wall, his head buried in the pillow, and gradually drifted off to sleep.


In his dreams, it was Qin Xiang's world.


This is why it was not easy to get rid of the memories of Qin Xiang. Because dreams are uncontrollable, and Qin Xiang was always in his dreams, occupying his nights and trying to control his days.


In his dream tonight, Qin Xiang was running desperately. It was a forest around him, it was raining heavily, and the ground was a dirt road. He was already soaked, and the uneven dirt road kept tripping him. He almost fell several times.


Behind him, he heard a series of dog barks, and then three or four wild dogs sprang out of the woods and chased after Qin Xiang viciously.


The wild dogs were getting closer and closer to Qin Xiang, even though he was running with all his might.


But how could a man outrun four-legged wild dogs? Just when the wild dogs were only half a meter away from him, they sprang up with a leap, pounced on him from behind, and then opened their fangs and bit into Qin Xiang's left arm. Qin Xiang was knocked to the ground, screaming and flailing his arms and legs.


The other wild dogs also caught up, surrounding Qin Xiang, eager to share the food that was about to be in their hands. Blood flowed continuously from Qin Xiang's shoulder, another wild dog bit his leg, and the dog standing by his head tried to bite his neck when a gunshot rang out in the distance.

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