Chapter 33 - Bone Broth

As the corpse’s throat was cut open, it began emitting a vile, nauseating smell of charred flesh and blood.

Jing Rong continued to frown, but kept his mouth shut. 

Ji Yunshu put the knife aside. Next, she used both her hands to tear open the cut she had made on his throat. As she applied some force with her fingers, the bones in his throat snapped. This action also ruptured some veins, causing gelatinous blood to trickle out slowly. As Ji Yunshu had forgotten to wear her gloves, her hands were now completely soaked in blood. As if she was playing with a toy, she continued to fiddle inside his throat cavity in search of something. The sight was absolutely sickening!

It was no longer possible to describe what Jing Rong was feeling. He had killed countless people on the battlefield; his hands were dyed with the blood of more than ten thousand souls. He had seen enough corpses littered around him to the point it had become a normal sight. Yet, it was the first time he had seen someone dismantle a dead body with their bare hands in such a manner. The scene was truly too sensational

“Did you see something?” Jing Rong wrinkled his nose as he prodded.

“When we examine the body of those deceased by poisoning, the most important thing to determine is the type of poison used.”

“What poison killed them?”

“We still don’t know for now.” Ji Yunshu knocked her hand on the throat bones. After pondering for a moment, she took the bones, still dripping in blood, with her.

Fu Bo, who had just finished offering incense to the dead, came in and saw Ji Yunshu going to the door. She asked, “Fu Bo, did you boil the vinegar and water?”

Fu Bo nodded while pointing at a small hut inside the courtyard, “I thought you might need it, so I prepared it beforehand. When you’re done with it, don’t forget to change the water.”

“I know.” She promised straightforwardly. She clasped the hyoid bone and surrounding cartilage bones and went inside the hut. Like a shadow, Jing Rong slipped in stealthily after her. 

As soon as he entered the hut, Jing Rong was scared out of his wits. His legs halted right in front of the door and wouldn’t budge, like it was glued to the floor. He still forced himself to move forward one step at a time. There was only a single candle moving to and fro from the ceiling inside the dimly-lit hut. All the walls inside the hut were covered by tall shelves. On each shelf, there were earthen jars, each with bone ash piled inside!

Ji Yunshu walked to a big cauldron, containing a solution of white vinegar bubbling merrily under the heat of the fire. Next, she threw the gathered bones into the cauldron. She shot a glance at Jing Rong and could already guess what was on his mind. She took a moment before she spoke to him, “Your Highness doesn’t need to be scared. Those jars contain the ashes of those travelers from foreign lands whose identities remain unknown. Fu Bo couldn’t bear for their corpses to be thrown out in the wilderness, so he cremated them and their ashes are placed in an earthen jar.”

Jing Rong retorted, “Scholar, when was this prince scared?”

Ji Yunshu’s mouth curved down. Damned bastard! He can’t even admit it!

While Ji Yunshu was lost in thought, Jing Rong moved next to her and watched the bone that had sunk into the boiling vinegar solution. He voiced his doubts, “What are you doing?”

Ji Yunshu blurted out, “I’m making bone broth [1].” 

The instant Jing Rong heard her answer, he felt as if the back of his skull had been forced open, and chills traveled down his spine! While he was assailed by shivers, Ji Yunshu let out a cry of surprise and pointed at the vinegar solution. “Your Highness, look at this quickly!”

Jing Rong was annoyed by her imperious tone, but still approached to take a look. Then, he saw the originally white and transparent liquid gradually turning black, “Why is it turning black?” He was flabbergasted.

“This humble one mentioned the other day that the hyoid bone is soft while the part above and below is hard. This indicates a very strong probability of the victim dying from poisoning. Since it’s a poison that passed through the throat, there must have been some poison that seeped inside the bone marrow. I simply boiled the bones inside this vinegar solution. By boiling the bones, the poison inside the bone marrow will percolate out. The black liquid oozing out from the bones is the poison we’re looking for.” Jing Rong once again learned something new!

Swiftly, Ji Yunshu fished out a white handkerchief from her sleeve and soaked a corner of it with the black liquid, “The toxicity of this poison is very high. Otherwise, it would be impossible to have that much poison seeping out from such small bones like those irregular bones in the throat.” Ji Yunshu carefully examined the black blotches on the handkerchief.

“Teacher, do you know what poison it is?”

“This humble one is not a doctor and I can’t make poison, so I can’t tell just by looking at it.”

“Can you investigate what type of poison it is and find the murderer from that knowledge?”

“I cannot.” Ji Yunshu replied calmly and unhurriedly.

Jing Rong’s eyebrows knitted, “Then why waste time on investigating? This prince is not in the mood to follow you in your confusing antics!”

“Who said I was playing around?”

“But your investigation is useless.”

“Can’t I have a mind full of curiousity? Can’t I want to know what poison killed that person? Your Highness, if you don’t like to waste time, then you don’t need to hold me here to investigate the case. It’s better to stay at home and sleep than to be here during this cold night.” Every phrase she spoke was eloquent and reasonable! 

Jing Rong was rendered speechless. This scholar talks too much. The space between his eyebrows wrinkled until it looked like this: 川. He waved his hand and exclaimed, “Stop, forget it! I was the one who approached you and requested your help. Naturally, I will not question your qualifications. But those five are my subordinates. They received my orders to return to the Capital, yet they died under someone’s evil schemes.”

The worry made Jing Rong put away his frivolous attitude and nefarious, cunning temper, leaving only a genuine expression of pain and stubbornness. But it only made him appear more devastatingly charming! 

Men should be like this! Ji Yunshu stuffed the handkerchief into her waist belt. The handkerchief looked quite creepy with her bloody handprints and black spots of poison. She turned and strode away, “Your Highness, do you still want me to investigate? If so, let’s move on.”

“...” Jing Rong obediently followed behind. As soon as they left, Fu Bo came in.

Every time Ji Yunshu came, he always boiled a cauldron of vinegar solution for her to boil the bones. When he saw the black content in the cauldron, he helplessly shook his head, “Every time, this child always forgets to change the water.” In the end, he still changed the water.

Ji Yunshu and Jing Rong returned to the five corpses. Her eyes were lowered, showing a serious expression, not caring about her blood-soaked hands. Her sleeves were rolled up, revealing a pair of slender arms as fair as jade, as she turned a corpse’s head to the side. With her fingers, she pressed on the nape of the dead body for a short moment, then picked up a large knife and cut into the nape until the back of the cranial bone was exposed. 

This time, she analyzed out loud, “Surprisingly, there are still some traces left from the battle between the deceased and the murderer. By examining the body, we will certainly be able to find a clue left by the murderer. If we examine the wounds on the victims, we can deduce the murderer’s unique habits and characteristics.”

“Do you have a concrete example?” Jing Rong asked.

“For example, we can determine if the murderer was tall or short; a man or a woman; or if he used his left hand or right hand to kill. We can even determine if he ambushed from behind or if he took them head on. And so on…” It sounded rather incredible how much could be found from so little! 

Although Ji Yunshu found the murderers of Miss Zhou based on her dead body, Jing Rong was still skeptical about her abilities, “You can find out this much just from examining a corpse?”

“If the deceased wishes to inform us of their grievances, we can certainly find it.”

Jing Rong was puzzled again, “Teacher Ji, aren’t you a painter? How come you can also do the work of a coroner? Furthermore, you’re also doing the work of law enforcers!” That’s right! How could he forget that her official position in the yamen was that of a painter!

There were many times when Ji Yunshu asked herself where she went wrong? She was obviously an expert in facial reconstruction and clearly occupied the position of a painter at the yamen, but her work always took another tangent. Who could she blame? She could only blame having a forensic investigator for her father!


[1] Ji Yunshu really based herself on real cooking to make her bone broth. Although, it’s not for the same results and reasons. XD For the recipe of bone broth, click on the link : Bon appétit!

Previous Chapter Next Chapter