‘Ji Yuanzhi?’ “Why is it him?”
“Just now I saw a scab on his right thumb.” Jing Rong affirmed.
As soon as the conclusion came down, unwavering hatred overflowed from Ji Yunshu’s delicate face. At once, she picked up the paper with the fingerprint and the inkstone, and rushed out of the door.
Jing Rong ran after her. Both of them continued to pick up their pace until they reached the reception hall.
The place was crowded with the Ji’s people, they apparently still hadn’t recovered from their shock. A servant was applying medicine on Ji Yuanzhi’s wrist while he was exuding a depressing aura of unwillingness. Whereas, Ji Muqing was wiping the tears on her face which was covered with red imprints, still fuming in anger. She was enraged!
At this moment, they saw Jing Rong and Ji Yunshu had returned. Immediately, everyone from the Ji family became tensed.
Ji Shuhan quickly stood up from the pear-wood chair. He was afraid that the deity with sword-like brows would start to decapitate them.
Outside, the rain continued to fall in a drizzle. A layer of white “frost” had covered both Ji Yunshu and Jing Rong.
They stepped into the room one behind the other.
Ji Shuhan failed to understand, but he slightly bowed as his eyesight shifted around. “Your Highness?”
Jing Rong didn’t argue with him. He cast a side glance at Ji Yunshu and noticed her gaze. Her eyes were like ice daggers ferociously piercing through Ji Yuanzhi.
Jing Rong tacitly understood. Thus after a moment, he took the ink stone and sheet from Ji Yunshu and walked toward Ji Yuanzhi.
Realizing that Jing Rong was approaching him, Ji Yuanzhi became alarmed. He kneaded his hands until they changed shape and he was violently shaking.
Jing Rong didn’t let Ji Yuanzhi evade as he grabbed the other hand and dipped it into the inkstone that he placed on the table. Jing Rong’s slender fingers firmly held Ji Yuanzhi’s thumbs and made sure both thumbs were smeared with ink. After it was done, he raised the other’s hands.
Aaah!The movement was accompanied by Ji Yuanzhi’s scream. “Your Highness! M-my hands…”
“Your hand should be crippled.” Jing Rong coldly berated.
As soon as the words were said, he ruthlessly pressed Ji Yuanzhi’s thumbs on the paper. The stamped fingerprints were well defined on the paper.
Immediately, Ji Yunshu came over and took the paper.She then compared the fingerprints and one of the thumbprints was nearly identical to the evidence she collected. Once again, she observed the thumb that Jing Rong held firmly.
As suspected, there was a scab on that thumb.
Her eyes reddened in no time and tears pooled as she looked at Ji Yuanzhi. “It’s you! You forced Luan’er to die! You killed her!” Her voice was shrill as if she wanted to pierce everyone’s ears with the truth.
When the truth was revealed, apart from Jing Rong, everyone else was shocked.
Ji Yuanzhi’s face was twisted with pain. He stared at his hand restrained by Jing Rong. He painfully shook his head. “It’s not me! W-what kind of nonsense are you spouting? I didn’t force that worthless maidservant to kill herself.”
As soon as he heard “worthless maidservant”, Jing Rong didn’t withhold the strength of his grip and directly broke the other’s hand.
“H-have mercy on me, your Highness!” Ji Yuanzhi tumbled off his chair, directly kneeling on the floor while gritting his teeth in pain.
Jing Rong ferociously glared at him as he berated him. “This is the hand that took the life of a weak girl! It won’t do if this Prince doesn’t make an example out of you.”
“It’s not me! It’s not me…”
At this moment, Old Madame Ji stepped forward; her eyes were red and her usual graceful and sumptuous appearance was stained by tears. She begged Jing Rong. “Your Highness, it’s not possible for Yuanzhi to do such things. That servant hanged herself and even left a confession written in black and white. The truth is absolutely undeniable.”
When she stopped speaking, her expression was vicious as she riveted her eyes on Ji Yunshu. Her whole being was burning with anger. “The news of your arrest had already spread to everyone. Haven’t you made my Ji family lose enough honor? You should know that if that girl, Luan’er, didn’t confess to her crime, you would still be rotting in that prison cell!”
‘Oh really? Then, should I give my gratitude to your whole family?! Ji Yuanzhi, ah! Ji Yuanzhi! For you to have this kind of good grandmother must have truly been the blessing you cultivated for three whole lifetimes. For you, she could invert black and white. How powerful that is! If you can keep that life of yours, you must repay her properly!’
Ji Yunshu coldly sneered. She raised the paper in her hand. “This fingerprint and the incomplete fingerprint found on Luan’er are exactly the same, even that blank mark in the middle of the finger. This mark indicated that there was a scab on the thumb which caused the fingerprint to look incomplete. Moreover, that finger was soaked in tangerine water which made the fingerprint remain on the paper up to 12 hours.”
After she spoke up to this point, she took out Luan’er’s confession note, but the fingerprint can no longer be seen.
Thus, with more certainty than ever, she turned to Ji Yuanzhi who was still kneeling on the floor. “Twelve hours have already passed. Therefore, the incomplete fingerprint in question could no longer be seen, but the smell of tangerine water still lingers. According to my calculation, Luan’er’s time of death was around yesterday night at the hour of the rat , you were at her side at that time and were washing your hands with the tangerine water in my room before giving this paper to Luan’er, so she could write down that fake confession and forced her to hang herself!”
The evidence of his crimes were revealed one by one. “I… I didn’t…” Ji Yuanzhi’s expression was evasive and like before he continued to deny his crimes.
At this moment, Jing Rong threw Ji Yuanzhi’s hand and let it go. Ji Yuanzhi’s hand heavily hit the corner of the table. Bam! The pain made him teary.
Ji Yunshu continued to hound him with her eyes as she interrogated him. “Why did you force Luan’er to die? Why? This is a human life! How can you be so cruel, treating her death as if it was nothing?”
“You saw her hang herself and die in front of you. Doing such a thing, aren’t you afraid to be plagued by nightmares at night?”
Ji Yuanzhi’s pupils suddenly dilated from horror. The corner of his mouth twitched, then trembled. “I didn’t want to force her to die. I only… I was confused! I was confused at that time. I only want to maintain our family’s reputation, so I did it, but I really didn’t want her to die!”
‘He confessed! Such a good confession!’ Ji Yunshu refrained herself from crying. Her heart was wrecked with pain. It was unbearably painful!”
“It’s not true!” Old Madame Ji threw herself next to Ji Yuanzhi and lamented, “Yuanzhi, how can you do such a thing?!”
Ji Muqing was stunned. She even forgot about the painful slap she received. She spoke in shock, “Third Brother, you…”
“I didn’t mean it! I did that because I was confused at that time. I really didn’t mean to kill her.” Ji Yuanzhi continued with his litany.
Jing Rong coldly watched everything. He couldn’t tolerate it anymore. “Come down.” At his call, suddenly six imperial bodyguards jumped down from the roof and stood outside the reception hall with their hands clasped. “Did you hear everything earlier?”
“Yes, your Highness. We have heard.”
“Good. Bring Ji Yuanzhi to the yamen. Let Lord Liu investigates the case.”
“Yes, your Highness.” The guards came in and dragged Ji Yuanzhi outside.
Father! Grandmother! Save me!” Ji Yuanzhi shouted. His voice was trembling from fright.
“Yuanzhi!” Old Madame Ji reached out her hand in an attempt to grab him back, but all she grabbed on was the empty air.
Finally, Ji Shuhan recovered from his shock and immediately kneeled down. He begged Jing Rong. “I beseech your Highness! Have mercy! He is still young and committed an error in a moment of confusion. Your Highness is magnanimous, spare him!”
“A moment of confusion? Spare him?” Jing Rong repeated Ji Shuhan’s words with a severe expression. “Human life is priceless. You actually sum it into ‘a moment of confusion’?”
Grenn's Rants Corner
Ace Attorney's soundtrack might fit the mood.
Footnotes:Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Formatting edit 21/06/21.
Choufleur note: If y'all find chapters like this with bad formatting do comment and let me know! It was because of some quirk of the code when we shifted sites a while back, but it's kinda random too. Priority is new chapters but we're scanning through the old ones slowly to fix them!