Chapter 366 - A Bony Puzzle
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don't read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
Zhao Qing grew up in the mountains and couldn’t really understand what Ji Yunshu had just said. How could he possibly understand the Emperor’s thoughts!
Zhao Qing let out a sigh. “What you said concerns the far-away happenings at court. I don’t know and I don’t care what the emperor thinks. Since Zhao Huai agreed to let you investigate, you should do so with care for your own good. I only care that you live through this so that you can investigate Jiu’er’s death.”
“I will do my best.”
“Your best is not good enough. You must succeed!” He intoned, as if issuing a royal decree, before turning to leave.
In the corner, Wei Yi scratched his head and leaned over to tug on Ji Yunshu’s sleeve.
“Shu’er, can we go back now? I don’t like this place.”
“Wait a little longer. I guarantee that we’ll leave safely.”
“We can go back?”
“Ok.” Wei Yi trusted her completely and settled back down silently, head lowered.
Ji Yunshu then had someone lead her into the inner courtyard. That large square urn was placed right in the middle. Its lid had already been removed and placed against the side of the urn. The delicious aroma of wine thickly permeated the whole courtyard, but the thought of the bones that had been marinating in that urn the whole time, one could almost detect a hint of rot as well. Utterly disgusting!
Next to the urn was a white cloth spread on the damp ground. On it were the pile of bones that had been fished out, still faintly glimmering with traces of wine. Ji Yunshu gave a sigh. “Wrap up the bones and put it on the table in the room. If left on the ground, the soaked bones will rot.”
A few bandits quickly followed suit. First Master had said that they should follow Teacher Ji’s instructions, no matter what he needed, they must bring it. They clumsily bundled up the cloth and brought it indoors, clinking and clanking all the way.
Ji Yunshu looked around the ground next to the urn with furrowed brows. At last, her gaze landed on a corner of the urn lid. There seemed to be something stuck on it!
A closer look revealed that it was a powdery blue substance that had solidified over time. She scraped off the substance with her fingernails onto a handkerchief and gave it a sniff. Through the thick aroma of wine, there was an unmissable scent of camphor. What was it? Without further ado, she wrapped it in the handkerchief and placed it in her sleeve.
She led Wei Yi back into the room and asked for two pairs of gloves, before passing one to him. Wei Yi gave a start. “Why did you give this to me?”
“I need your help.”
“Help for what?”
Ji Yunshu pointed at the loose pile of bones with her chin. Wei Yi’s face paled and he took a few steps back, shaking his head. “I’m scared!”
Ji Yunshu tugged him back again. “These things are dead; there’s nothing to be afraid of. What you really should be scared of, are people.”
It was the second time Ji Yunshu said these words to Wei Yi. Wei Yi nodded his head as if he understood.
“I will now piece these bones together, so I need you to help me. Do you understand?”
“Just pretend you’re piecing bamboo slips together. It’ll be fun!”
Nod. Just do it.
Ji Yunshu rolled up her sleeves, put on the gloves, and started sifting through the pile of bones.
Firstly, she fit together the two shoulder blades and the sternum. Then, she held up a rib and showed it to Wei Yi.
“Now, help me find the other 23 bones that look just like this.”
After a pause, Wei Yi wrinkled his brows, pinched his nose, and reached into the pile of bones. He gingerly picked through the pile, and finally found another rib with great difficulty. Delighted, he presented it to Ji Yunshu. She took it and carefully placed it next to the sternum.
The two continued working together.
After Wei Yi fished out the last rib, he continued to locate the pairs of femurs, fibulas, humerus and a small section of the tailbone.[1. In order, the bones of the thigh, calves, upper arms and the last bones of the spine.]
Once he passed all of them to Ji Yunshu, he let out a long sigh and squat down, staring blankly ahead. With a pale face, he started to complain. “I’m not doing this anymore!” He felt like he had undergone tremendous suffering.
He then walked to a small stool in the distance and sat down, staring as Ji Yunshu worked.
She couldn’t be bothered with him, fully concentrated on piecing together the little bones. After almost two hours, they finally finished putting the skeleton together.
Aside from the skull, there were over a hundred bones to painstakingly piece together. It wouldn’t have been so difficult if the bones were not separated from each other, due to being soaked in alcohol for so long. The skeleton missing a skull was a startling sight indeed.
“It’s done already? Could you find out who it was?”
“Say, why does this body not have a head?”
“Who on earth cut off someone’s head and threw the rest in here? How immoral.”
“Once we find out, First Master must kill that person.”
Ji Yunshu couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to the idle chatter. Her narrowed her almond eyes as she started to examine the suspicious skeleton.
Hearing that Ji Yunshu had finished piecing the bones together, Zhao Huai and Zhao Qi hurried over to take a look. They couldn't help but give her a thumbs up as they marvelled at the completed skeleton laid out on the table.
“Are you really not a doctor?” Zhao Huai questioned.
“This is the first time I've seen someone who can put together a messy pile of bones.”
“Tell me, what have you found out?” he demanded, getting right to business.
“Firstly, the pelvis has a short and broad iliac crest, with the ilium bones spaced far apart, presenting a large, oval-shaped inlet. That oval-shaped inlet is the lesser pelvis. In a woman, it is wider and broader as to help accommodate the uterus during pregnancy. In addition to a shorter and less curved inwardly sacrum, the angle of a woman’s pubic bones is obtuse. Lastly, the ischial spines are less prominent and further apart due to the larger pelvic brim. Together, this suggests that the skeleton belonged to a female.” [2. Holy shittake this was tough. Ref here with labeled pics. Skip to the section “Adaptation to Childbirth” if you don’t want to read everything. https://teachmeanatomy.info/pelvis/bones/pelvic-girdle/]
A shocked silence rang.
“I would have believed you if you said it was male. Female, impossible.” Zhao Huai stated with certainty.
“Why?” Ji Yunshu asked.
“In all of Gaoshan Village, every single woman that I snatched was sent back alive and safe. There have been no other women that have come into the village at all.”
“What if one of your subordinates brought one in?”
“Also impossible.” he denied again. “I know my men. They definitely would not bring women in secret.”
Zhao Huai's inexplicable stubbornness gave Ji Yunshu a headache.
“Every word I said was the truth. This is in fact a female skeleton. You can tell not only from the pelvis, but also from the lack of protrusion of the laryngeal bone. They're all feminine structures!” Ji Yunshu stated in exasperation.
With her words, suspicions began to take root in Zhao Huai’s mind.
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