When Liu Cheng went to speak with the other workers from the herb field, he wasn’t able to find any further clues at first. Everybody was just repeating what a nice person that Peng Mu was and how he would never even hurt a fly. In short, they thought it ludicrous that he could actually suspect this Peng Mu of all people.
Liu Cheng wasn’t surprised at that. This kind of reputation was precisely what made it so easy for a demon to do their bad deeds. Naturally, a normal person wouldn’t suspect anything.
He just nodded along when one of the workers once again told him that there really was no reason to ask about this person of all of the possible candidates and then went on to tell him who might be more likely to have any affiliations with dark creatures in their opinion.
Liu Cheng merely stated that he would investigate them as well but that he had to ask about everyone to make sure that he didn’t overlook any clues. After all, even if this person wasn’t behind what had happened, they might still know something so it was important to know who he was affiliated with as well. Also, since he was such a good person, the demon might want to harm him and those close to him. So it was actually in their interest if say wanted to keep Peng Mu safe to tell him whatever they could.
With that kind of reasoning, the people were much more willing to spill the beans. There were some male workers in particular that knew Peng Mu a little better. When asking about what kind of relationships he had outside of the people working in the fields, one of them was actually able to tell Liu Cheng some news.
“Well, while it’s true that he didn’t have any family, he did get along pretty well with other people. I think he was often talking to the people that were doing deliveries to the steward’s house or the kitchens that prepare the food for us working on the fields. I think he also was a little closer to some people in the city that he often interacted with. If I remember correctly, he was talking about a woman he had gotten to know recently.”
Liu Cheng perked up at that. “A woman?” If this Peng Mu wasn’t the demon himself, then this woman might be the one. Demons liked to have others do their bidding. A person that had never had a family could easily be enthralled by a woman that promised him to give them just that. Even more so if she was a beautiful woman. And demons would often take on exactly that kind of appearance to seduce somebody. So she might indeed be the one behind this.
The servant nodded. “Yes, yes. If I remember correctly, they didn’t know each other for that long yet. But he was meeting up with her on a regular basis. I don’t know anything more than that though. We never really talked about her. I think he only mentioned her a few times? Actually, it could be that he only told me personally a few days ago. But I had heard that he discussed her with some of the others before.”
Liu Cheng nodded. This did sound like what he had expected. If she was a demon, she was likely looking for more victims. And she had approached this man to provide her with them. It was a perfidious plan that was not quite unexpected of a demon. Well, at the very least, he had another hint now.
“Do you think that any of the others know more about this woman?”
The servant shook his head. “I wouldn’t know. I don’t even know her name. I guess you could only ask the others about it directly.”
Liu Cheng nodded. “Very well, I’ll do that then. Thank you very much for answering my questions honestly. This will certainly help me in achieving a breakthrough in solving this case. Soon enough, everybody should be safe again.”
The man nodded and left the room. Liu Cheng remained sitting there alone, his expression thoughtful. He couldn’t say for sure yet but he was becoming more and more certain of his inferences. He just had to continue going in this direction and then he would be able to make sure. For now, he should ask the others and then he could make a plan on how to defeat the demon.
He got up and then asked the steward that was waiting outside to send in the next person. Since he had another lead now he questioned them even more closely, asking about whether they knew about any women Peng Mu had met or other women that might have been loitering about in the vicinity of the herb field or maybe gotten close to other men working there.
While he didn’t manage to get a name or any information about where this woman lived, he soon heard another interesting fact: Peng Mu hadn’t directly talked with any of these people about that woman. But several of them had heard him mentioning her to at least one of the previous victims.
If Liu Cheng hadn’t been sure already that this woman was the demon and had used him to lure her victims over, he would be now. This just was too much of a classical case and all the information he had gotten so far fit.
Now, the only question was: How to find this woman? With him here, she might get cold feet and run away. Then, she’d just relocate somewhere else and start to make trouble over there. He couldn’t risk that. No, he had to do something fast to catch her. Or — if that wasn’t possible — find a way to make her stay for now.
While the former wasn’t that easy, he didn’t have to think twice about how to achieve the latter: As soon as this demon saw new prey, she would hesitate to leave. Especially if this prey was very interesting to her and seemed easy enough to catch.