Why did she suddenly recall the archetype of a prince in Chinese webnovels? Cold, arrogant and solitary; unapproachable and cherishing words like gold? This… This Jing Rong was a fraud!
Ji Yunshu was left speechless by his glib tongue so many times that she could but only admit defeat, “This humble one’s legs are short, and hence I was late. I beseech your Highness’ forgiveness.”
“This prince likes those who recognises their faults. Remember not to repeat the same mistake again. I don’t like to wait for people.” He raised his eyebrows, making him quite eye-catching.
Ji Yunshu considered any arguments with him to be a lost cause, and dove straight into the heart of the matter, “Let’s not waste anymore time. This humble one will examine the corpses first.”
“I’ll stand over there then.” Jing Rong lifted his chin to point a place further inside, where the five corpses were aligned and covered in white clothes.
Ji Yunshu swept a glance at the place, then looked back at Jing Rong. “May I ask your Highness to open your mouth?”
How long-winded! She might as well do it herself. She rose to her tiptoes and reached up, grabbing Jing Rong’s cheeks with her slender fingers of one hand, while simultaneously using her other hand to take out a small lump from her waist belt, quickly stuffing it inside his mouth before releasing him. Her movements were smooth and fast, and could only be described as perfect!
Her sudden actions caused him to show a stupid expression, but, it only lasted until his taste buds went numb from the spice. The vile taste quickly brought him back to earth, “You… What did you make me eat?!” He was extremely nervous. It couldn't be poison, right? After all, what could this lowly scholar achieve from doing this anyway?
Ji Yunshu glanced at him indifferently, “Don’t be nervous. It’s only ginger.”
“Ginger? Why are you making this prince eat ginger? And how can ginger make my tongue this numb?”
“I soaked the ginger in sesame oil.” As she spoke, she walked toward the five corpses. Then, she continued in a not heavy, yet also not light tone, “Your Highness, I don’t know if you've heard about corpse stench? Ginger soaked in sesame oil can help alleviate the smell. Or it may be for the best if you exit this room now.”
“Do you take me for some cowardly guy?”
“I wouldn’t dare, Your Highness.” She slightly raised the white cloth on one of the corpses, then turned to watch Jing Rong. The corner of her mouth faintly hinted at her teasing mood. “The smell of putrefaction on these corpses are stronger than the smell from Miss Zhou’s corpse. Not to mention, it reeks of blood, burnt and cooked meat just like… Ah! It smells like the pork meatballs you ate earlier.”
Immediately, Jing Rong felt his stomach betray him, and a wave of nausea shot from his stomach to his throat. His face took on a ghastly hue. For sure, this scholar was doing it on purpose! “Y-you… How did you know that I ate pork meatballs?”
Ji Yunshu lifted her eyes and started to explain, “Only Abundant Fortune House would roast their pork meatballs first over coal fire for at least an hour, which makes the meat tender. Then, they will add in a broth from simmering the pork bones, mixed in herbs and spices like fennel and star anise. Then they would simmer it until it turns into a fresh, but not greasy sauce. As a result, the sauce will take on redder color from the spices. If it comes in contact with clothes like brocade, the liquid will impregnate the tissue and dye it into another color that cannot be washed away. It won’t even smear at all. Instead, it will simply become part of the fabric, just like that spot on your Highness’ collar.”
“Huh?” Jing Rong, who trying to hold back his nausea, subconsciously looked down at his collar. He tried to wipe away the remaining sauce with his fingers, but as expected, the sauce did not spread or fade at all; it was there to stay. “Are you a cook?” Jing Rong asked.
“I am not.”
“Then, why do you know so much about it?”
“I heard it from the beggar at the corner of the street.” She replied without thinking about it.
Are you playing around with me? Is there even a need to beg in the streets if you can afford to eat Abundant Fortune House’s pork meatballs? Jing Rong felt his brain’s capacity rapidly reaching its limit. After meeting Ji Yunshu, he needed a reboot and even then, it might not even be able to fix his brain! Was this for real?! Did Ji Yunshu really hear about it from a beggar?!
Just as his brain was about to collapse, he suddenly jumped to another subject, “Let’s wait until you solve this case, then I’ll bring you somewhere to eat.”
A cold wind suddenly blew in from outside, shaking the coffin lids with its force. It was late in the evening, and there were only two people inside the memorial hall. Both were surrounded by corpses, memorial tablets, incense and candles. But now, they were discussing about pork meatballs! How was it fair for the ghosts who died from hunger?
“Then, I thank you for your grace.” Ji Yunshu absentmindedly replied as she completely lifted off the white cloth. The oedema in the flesh of the burnt corpse had been reduced, leaving the skin to tighten around the bone. It also clearly outlined the skeleton. Upon careful examination, serosanguineous liquid could still be seen flowing out of the corpse. The place where it oozed out the most was from the abdominal regions, where the coroner had made his incisions to dig out all the organs to conduct the autopsy. Although he had used a fishing thread to crudely sew the abdomen together, the stitches were obviously too big and wide, enough for half of the small intestines to slip out from the belly button.
Jing Rong went next to Ji Yunshu. His nose wrinkled; the so-called corpse’s stench was really not an understatement. With a solemn expression, he inquired, “So, how is it? Can you find something?”
“What do you mean?”
Ji Yunshu considered a bit before explaining, “If your Highness wants to know the identity of the murderer, then I have no answer for that. I can only determine the cause of death from the elements present on the corpses. That, and the murderer’s characteristics.”
Jing Rong’s high eyebrows knitted together.
Ji Yunshu continued to speak, “The five corpses had an intense struggle with someone first. Then they were poisoned and died. You can imagine that the murderer just wanted to kill them. If my deduction is correct, his main target must be you.”
Jing Rong was shocked. He had long suspected this possibility. His eyes narrowed until they were as thin as a thread, leaving one unable to guess what was passing through his mind.
Looking at his reaction, Ji Yunshu realised something, “It appears that your Highness already knows who the murderer is, but then, why do you still want me to do the autopsy?”
“I didn’t know.” He calmly replied, then stated, “I have a vague feeling that someone was painstakingly preventing me from returning to the Capital. As for who it is, I have no clue.” A serious Jing Rong, who silently pondered with an extremely handsome and youthful face, was giving off the feeling of steadiness that came only with a mature man. It made him appear as if he was carved from high quality jade.
It unexpectedly caused Ji Yunshu to be unable to rip her eyes away from him!
That was only until Jing Rong caught her gaze. He rolled his eyes, “Is there something dirty on my face?”
Her expression collapsed from her fright. He was the almighty prince, and a bastard with a sharp tongue. If it wasn’t because he needed her help, she would not be able to look at him! She hurriedly glanced away and said, “Your Highness is not looking at me, so how do you know if I am looking at you?”
“This is really frustrating!”Jing Rong kept himself together, but his frown was still present, “Teacher, didn’t you say that you can find out the murderer’s characteristics? Can it still be done?”
No choice then! Ji Yunshu skillfully fetched a packet from the table opposite them. Next, she unfolded it next to one of the corpse. The packet was filled with all kind of knives.
“Are those things yours?”
“Yes. Sometimes, I encounter demanding and bossy people. They would call for me to go to the memorial hall in the middle of the night. There’s nothing that can be done about it. I can only leave some of my things here, just to avoid forgetting my tools in a hurry.”
Jing Rong shuddered. Demanding and bossy people?! Was she referring to him?!
While Ji Yunshu was speaking, she already took out a cleaver and chopped open the corpse’s neck after lifting its jaw. Since the corpse was charred, there wasn’t much blood when she half-beheaded it, but a crisp crack echoed through the hall.