Chapter 5: Investigation

“A demon? It actually appeared in the village!”

The sun was setting, and not long after, dusk fell.

Gu Qing’an stared at the house that was made of mud in the east side of the village with a thousand thoughts lingering in her mind, but soon she suppressed them one by one.

She can’t help her mind thinking over things.
In this strange world, she needs strength more than ever, and at the moment, the most efficient way to obtain it is through the additional demon hunting points.

The fact that there are demons in this place means that there is high a chance of getting more demon hunting points.

She had personally experienced the amazing effect of the said points, and according to her analysis, a constitutional attribute is equivalent to a normal person’s physique.
 That being the case, it is unlikely for the effects of the other attributes to be inferior.

If all the attributes can be increased by four or five points, Gu Qing’an presumes that she will be unparalleled enough to easily cut the grass clean.

But now that she only has few opportunities to obtain demon hunting points, she can’t easily let go of this demon who just appeared.

Of course, it will depend on the degree of danger.
If the risk is too great, then forget about it.

Gu Qing’an narrowed her eyes in thought and waited for Wang Zhi’s information.
It would determine her next strategy.

After rushing for half a day, even if Gu Qing’an is physically strong, her nature of “loving-leisure-and-hating-work” stemming from her previous life still makes her mentally exhausted.

Gu Qing’an laid down on the bed, kicked off her shoes, and decided to sleep without even bothering to change clothes.

Not knowing how long it has been, a knocking sound came from the door.

Knock knock.

“Miss Gu, it’s time for dinner.
Would you like me to bring it to you?”

Gu Qing’an woke up and got up from the bed.

“There’s no need.
I’ll go down in a second and eat.”

Putting her feet into the black deerskin boot she kicked off earlier, Gu Qing’an stood up and washed her face.
She fixed her white “sturdy” clothing and cyan-colored trousers.
When she saw her own snowy skin and beautiful flower-like appearance in the mirror, she smiled in satisfaction and finally went downstairs.

“My lady’s beauty is truly unrivaled.” The servant boy complimented.

She used to play “The Elder Scrolls” and liked to modify the game to make the appearance of her Dragonborn more beautiful.
Although she was a boy in her previous life, she still cared about her appearance even in this life.

(T/n: 1.
The line above is referring to a game called “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim”, where the main protagonist, who is a playable character, is referred to as the “Last Dragonborn”.
抓根宝 or “zhuā gēn bǎo” is the Chinese homonym for Dragonborn.

In gaming, MOD (a slang for modification) refers to the alteration made by players or fans of one or more aspects of a video game; such as editing or changing its structure, syntax or code.
Many players apply MODs to games to customize the game play, to modify how it looks, to remove glitches, or to provide additional functionality.)

Boss Cheng had long instructed the young servant boy not to neglect Gu Qing’an.
Even without the reminder of his boss, the boy knew the importance of their guest and had already prepared the dinner for her.

He served two simple farmhouse dishes, and half a bowl of white cut chicken and egg soup on the side.
The taste was not bad.

“Hmm?” As she was having her dinner in the hall, Gu Qing’an glanced over and saw a small figure right outside the inn door, staring at her food in daze.

The servant boy standing beside Gu Qing’an also noticed it; thus, he followed her line of sight and also looked over.

Seeing the small figure, he took big steps across the hall and angrily scolded, “You little beast! You came here to steal food again, don’t you?!”

The servant boy raised his hand as if to hit.

Ahhh!!! A wretched scream filled with fear suddenly rang out.

Bring her over here.” Gu Qing’an promptly stopped the servant boy.

“But my lady, this little beast is very dirty, why are you…” The servant boy’s face tightened and quickly advised the lady otherwise.

Gu Qing’an fixed her eyes on the child.
The small figure who was staring at her dinner just now was a little girl who had a stature of eight or nine years old.
It was already autumn, but the girl was still wearing thin and short summer clothes, exposing her thin and bony limbs.
Her tiny body was riddled with black and blue bruises.
It was obvious that she wasn’t beaten any less than she already was.
Her hair was such a mess, yet her two eyes were very bright.

“Go and get her something to eat.”

To such a small child, Gu Qing’an was still willing to offer some of her kindness.

“Thank you, thank you, sister.” The little one expressed her gratitude as she took the sweet potato brought by the servant boy.
Seemingly afraid to stay any longer, she timidly walked out of the inn.

Looking at the satisfied little girl holding the sweet potato and happily chewing it outside the threshold of the inn, Gu Qing’an casually asked, “What’s that child’s name? What happened to her family?”

The servant boy answered, “The child’s name is Liu Lan.
Her family moved her from another city.
It was said that her father was doing trade before and had a lot of properties.
Unfortunately, a few years ago, her parents got infected by the plague, and both died— leaving her and her only brother to depend on each other.”

“Then, she wasn’t supposed to end up like this.” Gu Qing’an raised her eyebrow.

It was understandable that in a rural area like this, food was hard to come by for the families here.

Although their parents died, their family is still rich, and yet they moved here without any relatives for no particular reason? Isn’t that a perfect cause of starvation?

The little girl was reduced to picking up garbage just to have something to eat when she at least has her older brother… Isn’t this too outrageous?

The servant boy hesitated for a moment.
He looked left and right, and after confirming that there were no people around, he lowered his voice and said, “My lady, you mustn’t tell this to anyone.
Some years ago, the county magistrate demanded the family to pay the tax deficiencies that had accumulated for many years.
The fact they were not originally from this village, they became the best target of bullying.
The village chief deliberately demanded huge contributions for the village expenses, and a lot of it went to their family.”

“All of that is to force their family to sell their fields.
However, the little girl’s big brother refused to sell it.”

The servant boy paused before adding, “To tell you the truth, the village chief is a bit too much.
On ordinary days, 30 taels per mu for 20 mu good paddy fields is not even considered expensive.
But the village chief wanted to forcibly buy it for a measly 5 taels per mu, who would be willing to sell it?”

(T/n: 1.
兩 (read as “liang” or “tael”) can be referred to as an old Chinese currency or a unit measurement for weight.
In currency, the term tael was used particularly as the trade name for the Chinese ounce of silver.

“Mu” or “Mou” is a Chinese traditional unit of measurement for area.
One mu is equivalent to 666.7 square meters, or 0.165 acre)

Gu Qing’an learned from memory that under the Dacheng ruling, a hundred households is equivalent to one village.
And among those households, several large families with more fields and more people were selected to take turns to be the village chief, who has the responsibility to collect taxes and corvée.

(T/n: “corvée” is a form of compulsory, unpaid labor demanded by a lord to his vassals.
It is an obligation imposed on inhabitants to perform services, such as repairing of roads, bridges, etc., for little or no remuneration.)

“And then?” Gu Qing’an asked.

At her question, the servant boy’s face showed a hint of fear, and answered in a soft voice, “The village chief is from a wealthy family.
He has long been in cahoots with the country clerks.
With just one stroke of his pen, he declared that the Liu family needed to provide an adult male for the corvée.
Therefore, the eldest son of the Liu family has been chosen to be one of the laborers for the river embankment reparation.”

“After that, right before the compulsory service, he sent his family servants to mercilessly beat the little girl’s brother.
The Liu family’s eldest son, who could not even get up from the ground, was forcibly carried and thrown away to the river bank.
Within two days, he disappeared.
I think he was unable to hold on after falling into the river and drowned to death.”

“The village chief insisted that the eldest son of the Liu family had escaped and swallowed up 20 mu of their family’s fertile lands in the name of escaping the corvée.
Their original home and compound were also gone, leaving the little girl with only a small mud hut at the east side of the village.”

Gu Qing’an’s face sank.
Her eyes were filled with anger.
She lashed out and asked indignantly, “And the people just stood by and did not do anything?”

“Alas, quite a few people also couldn’t stand it, but after the village chief got his hands on the land, he rented it out to the people for a cheaper price that was almost basically free.
They were all good paddy fields, and everyone was reluctant to make things awkward, so they didn’t talk much about it.”

Gu Qing’an’s expression went completely cold.


This world is really sinister.

She pondered for a moment before throwing a silver or two to the servant boy.

“In the future, when Liu Lan comes again, give her something to eat.”

At the sight of the silver, the servant boy’s eyes immediately lit up, “My lady, this servant understands.”

“Don’t think about taking the money for yourself.
I’ll come again.” Gu Qing’an coldly added.

She isn’t a saint, and she doesn’t have the desire to save everyone.
It’s too troublesome to take Liu Lan out of here, but even if Gu Qing’an doesn’t want to go through such lengths for someone who’s not even related to her, she will still help in any way she

Gu Qing’an did not give the money directly to Liu Lan for she couldn’t stay here for too long.
In such a village, giving money to a little girl would only bring harm instead.

Watching Liu Lan finish her food and timidly leave, this much is already enough.

At the thought that she had done a good deed today, Gu Qing’an smiled and sat on the bench in the inn’s hall, comfortably swinging her slender legs.

A moment later.

“Miss Gu! I’ve inquired about it!” A rush of footsteps resounded outside the inn, accompanied by Wang Zhi’s excited shout.

He came inside the inn with a torch in his hand.

“The owner of that house is Liu Lan.
It’s a little girl.”

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