The blue clouds covered the mountains from a distance while a thin layer of snow could be seen on the forest trail. The air felt cold and refres.h.i.+ng, smelling of pine and snow. It was a nice and comfortable scent, making it ideal for a slow walk.
Alighting from the bus, Jian Yao looked around until she spotted a stone path. Following the path for 10 minutes, Jian Yao saw the grey-ish green roof of a European styled cottage. Ever since she could remember things, she had always seen this cottage at the outskirt of the hillside.
Despite the fact that twenty years had pa.s.sed, this cottage didn’t feel outdated at all even when compared to the modern infrastructure nowadays. This cottage had been left unoccupied for the past few years and there were even rumours that it was a haunted house.
Jian Yao had believed it when she was younger, since the house was always sitting alone amidst the darkness at the outskirt of the hillside. It was only when she got older then she learnt the truth. It turned out the truth was just that the owner of the house had went oversea with his son when his wife pa.s.sed away.
However, the house that stood in front of Jian Yao now was different from her memory. This cottage was given a fresh coat of paint and she could see the lights s.h.i.+ning from inside, the weeds surrounding the cottage was also pulled out.
Jian Yao was a fourth year student majoring in English. The reason she was here today was because her middle school teacher had introduced a part time translator job to her after knowing that she was on holiday. Although the pay was rather good, her teacher had mentioned that this employer was very picky. This employer had rejected all of the previous applicants that her teacher had referred.
Removing her gloves, Jian Yao knocked on the front door. A man who looked to be in his twenties, wearing a thin sweater with black trousers, greeted her. He was tall, thin and had delicate features.
“Jian Yao?” He asked, giving her a cheeky smile.
Jian Yao’s cheeks were red, possibly from the coldness. Her breath came out in white mist and her eyes were slightly wet. “Yes, I am Jian Yao. Nice to meet you.”
“Come in,” the man stepped aside to let Jian Yao entered.
Layers of dark purple curtains lined the window, there were large velvet couches with curved backrest. At the corner of the house, Jian Yao saw a fireplace with logs in it. This felt very much like a typical European styled cottage. At the side of the house, a deep brown wooden staircase led up to the second floor which was really quiet as though there wasn’t anyone there.
The only thing that felt out of place in this cottage was the metal railings that were fitted on the windows, not allowing much sunrays to come into the house. With his sleeves rolled up, the man washed his hands before handing a cup of tea to Jian Yao and gestured for her to sit down. When he sat down opposite her, Jian Yao caught a very faint but familiar scent from him. A scent which Jian Yao couldn’t quite remember where she had smell it before.
The man gave Jian Yao a friendly smile, “I am Fu Zi Yu and the owner of this place is called Bao Jin Yan. We are currently looking for a translator to translate his English doc.u.ments into Chinese.”
Jian Yao nodded, wondering if the owner was related to the previous owner of the house or maybe he was a new owner.
Zi Yu took out a stack of papers and a pen, handing it over to Jian Yao. “So, let’s not waste any more time and start the test to see if you are qualified for this job. Within half an hour, please translate all the English articles here.”
Jian Yao flipped through the articles before looking up, “Is there a computer here?”
Zi Yu shook his head and a helpless smile appeared on his face. “Jin Yan likes things to be handwritten.”
“No problem,” Jian Yao picked up the pen and papers and started to work her way through the articles. Zi Yu got up quietly and headed to the sink to wash his hands again before leaning against one of the windows, sipping his tea quietly.
“The victim had been s.e.xually a.s.saulted and there were signs that the victim’s hands had been tied together. There were also multiple wounds on her lower body – “ Jian Yao was a bit surprised by the content and paused in her translation. She looked up at Zi Yu who was impervious.
As Jian Yao had experience in translating such things in the past – except that it was not as gruesome as this, she got over her surprise rather swiftly. She got back to translating the article until she came across a word that she did not know. Briefly looking through the whole article, Jian Yao encountered quite a number of words that were rather uncommon. “Do you have a dictionary specialised in this field of work?”
Zi Yu pointed to the bookshelf at the side, “Feel free to use any one of them.”
Jian Yao managed to find what she was looking for and she buried herself in translating the article again.
“s.e.xhanges – , Parentiside – ……” It was not a surprise that she did not know such words as she continued looking through the dictionaries.
After she managed to translate everything, Jian Yao checked it thoroughly once more. Zi Yu looked at his watch and was rather surprised when he saw that only 25 minutes had pa.s.sed since the start of the test. “I will be back in a bit after I hand this over to Jin Yan.”
After saying that, Zi Yu headed up to the second floor. Jian Yao simply sat the couch and waited for Zi Yu. He was back in a short while and he went to the sink to wash his hands once more before drying it on his handkerchief. “He is looking through it now.”
“Okay,” Jian Yao nodded.
With nothing much to do, Zi Yu started to strike up a conversation with Jian Yao. “Are you studying at a University in B City?”
“Yes, I am graduating next year.” Jian Yao answered.
Zi Yu inclined his head slightly, “I see. We have been talking for quite a while, do you want to guess which profession I am in?”
The man in front of Jian Yao looked to be older than her by a few years and he was a very courteous person. Jian Yao had a good first impression of him. “Are you a doctor?”
Zi Yu’s smile got deeper, “How did you know?”
Jian Yao was rather pleased that she managed to guess correctly, her gaze landed on Zi Yu’s slender fingers. “It was just a lucky guess, since I saw you was.h.i.+ng your hands a number of times which means that you are a person who placed great emphasize on cleanliness. I also smell a very faint disinfectant scent coming from you and your fingers… It looked rather doctor-ish.”
“I guess I will take those as compliments then,” Zi Yu replied. They continued chatting about other things when the conversation somehow steered back to Bao Jin Yan. At the mention of him, Zi Yu sighed. “I am leaving here in a few days, but I am worried about Jin Yan. To be honest, he is a fairly withdrawn person.”
Listening to him talking about Jin Yan, Jian Yao simply gave him a polite smile with no questions asked.
Zi Yu sneaked a glance at her before continuing, “Even though he has been back for quite a while, he still didn’t have any friends. I bet you don’t even know when he got back here.”
Jian Yao’s smile remains unchanged, looking as though she had no intention of continuing the topic. However, she saw Zi Yu looking at her intently as if he was waiting for her answer. Although Jian Yao felt quite weird, she replied him nonetheless. “He came back last year, right?”
“How did you know?” Zi Yu asked.
“I pa.s.sed by here last year during my holidays and I didn’t see any creeper. But when I entered the house just now, I saw that the creeper was about four to five meters tall. My house’s creeper grow about that much in a year.”
Unexpectedly, they had chatted with each other for half an hour. Zi Yu looked at his watch with a smile on his face. “It is rather late now, why don’t you head home first? I will call you later when we come to a decision.”
Jian Yao nodded.
“Thank you for coming today, if he decided to hire you, there will be a contract drawn up. You will be required to work here for twenty days straight and all translation works had to be done on the spot. Also all the information have to remain confidential, so you can’t bring home any of it.” Zi Yu informed her as he walked her to the door. “Jin Yan is currently recuperating so without any permission, you are not allowed to head up to the second floor. Regarding other details, we will discuss it when we sign the contract.”
When Jian Yao left the house, it was close to evening time.
The sun was setting, bathing the area in an orange glow. It had looked especially pretty when the rays landed on the crystal white snow and the leaves that were covered in snow.
Jian Yao was pretty confident about getting hired. Despite the fact that the employer hadn’t showed his face once, making him rather mysterious and a little eccentric.
But at the end of it, this job was referred to her by her teacher so it should be reliable.
After walking a few meters away from the house, Jian Yao turned back to look at the house once more.
From the window on the second floor, she spotted a tall and slender man, wearing a black cut suit. A rather striking sight if you asked Jian Yao. However, she was too far away from the house to see the man’s face clearly.
Once Jian Yao was gone, Zi Yu went up to the second floor straight.
Compared to the warm elegance on the first floor, the second floor was rather gloomy and cold. There were a number of sealed rooms and the walls were completely void of any decorations.
Going to the room at the end of the hallway, he saw that the door was left ajar.
He pushed it open and leaned against the door. There was none of the refined elegant man left as he cursed loudly.
It caused the man who was reading a book to frown momentarily at Zi Yu. However, at the next second, he resumed his reading.
Zi Yu was nonchalant as he picked up Jian Yao’s translation work and handed it over to the man. “She has beautiful handwriting and translated perfectly.”
Zi Yu took out a paper from his pocket and unfolded it. On the paper, there were a few questions like what was his occupation, how long has Jin Yan moved here and etc.
Yes, those were the questions that Zi Yu had asked Jian Yao to guess just now.
He slapped the piece of paper on the table and said, “Regarding all these questions here, she had managed to answer all of them correctly. Are you satisfied with her?”
The man’s lips turned up ever so slightly.
Seeing that expression, Zi Yu was afraid that he was going to be picky again, he pulled out a chair and sat in front of him.
“If you are not satisfied with her, you can always translate it yourself. Besides, I am not your a.s.sistant and not to mention I will be returning to the city soon, so do not always count on me to help you run your errands.”
The man looked up from his book with a weird expression on his face as he replied Zi Yu.
“My time isn’t to be used doing those silly things.”
For a moment, Zi Yu did not know how to reply him.
“You are a homicide expert and she is just a translator, I don’t understand why there is a need to test her observation skills? I am willing to bet that she probably thinks that I talk too much.”
This time, the man revealed a very gentle smile.
“Obviously, I cannot allowed stupid people to translate my work. If the person isn’t meticulous enough, he will only be translating directly from the article. He won’t be able to translate the finer details and most definitely he won’t be able to grasp the true meanings behind those words.”
Zi Yu really didn’t know if he should laugh or be angry but he was all too used to him being like this. “So does this mean that Jian Yao is able to understand you?”
The man face went blank for a second. Then he went back to read his book and said, “No one will ever be able to understand.”