Chapter 377 - The Case of the Missing Head (Part 1)
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Zhao Huai’s pupils dilated with apprehension in the face of Ji Yunshu’s claims, his instinct telling him to avoid the matter instead of refuting them.
Zhao Qing’s gaze darted between Ji Yunshu and Zhao Huai as he asked cluelessly, “What’s going on?”
Ji Yunshu’s gaze darkened as she spoke calmly to Zhao Huai. “Despite knowing how Jiu’er really died from the very beginning, you chose to protect the murderer, hiding the truth and pushing all the blame onto yourself. When you learned of the possibility that the skeleton in the urn could be Jiu’er, you sent someone to check on her tomb, discovering nothing in her coffin. Once you were certain that the skeleton was indeed Jiu’er, you secretly destroyed those bones. All these to protect the killer’s identity!”
Everyone present fell silent in shock.
Zhao Huai’s gaze wavered as he tried to grasp desperately at his last straws. “All these are just figments of your imagination!”
“Fine, then I’ll show you the evidence.” Ji Yunshu pointed at his hand. “There should be a faint black mark on your palm, right?”
Zhao Huai frowned as he opened up his palm - there was a mark right in the middle, “So what?”
Ji Yunshu explained, “The roof of the room where the bones were kept happened to be situated under the shade of a large tree and faced the breeze all year round, resulting in a layer of moss growing on the roof. That moss isn’t just any commonplace moss, but a form of lichenic moss. It’s poisonous and results in black spots where it comes into contact with human skin. It won’t endanger your life however, and will disappear completely in about half a month. You leapt up onto the roof and pried open a tile, scattering Bone Crushing Powder onto the skeleton through a thin metal pipe. You thought your plan was seamless, but the moss on the roof still betrayed you. You must be wondering how I could be certain the culprit was you based on just that moss, but there’s also something else.”
“That’s the insides of your soles!” All eyes moved towards Zhao Huai’s shoes as Ji Yunshu continued, “To be able to land soundlessly on the roof, the person must have had incredible lightness skill. No matter how light they are though, it wouldn’t have been possible for them to leave no mark at all. I then noticed that large fallen tree over the roof and finally understood how you did it - you hung your feet on the branch and dangled upside down, so your soles would be slightly wet. When I saw them last night, I still had my doubts, but when I saw the black mark on your palm just now, I can confirm that it was you who ruined that skeleton.”
The evidence was laid out before him, each one supported by Ji Yunshu’s explanation. Zhao Huai lost all grounds to refute her.
Zhao Qing was very agitated. He questioned Zhao Huai, “Why did you do this? Why? If you knew that was Jiu’er’s bones, then why did you still do it? Who killed Jiu’er? Tell me!”
“You would even destroy Jiu’er’s skeleton to protect the killer, why?”
“Stop asking!” Zhao Huai bellowed. He glared at Ji Yunshu as he screamed, “Don’t you want to live? Fine, I’ll let you all go. Leave now - nothing of the past will be held against you. I want you lot to get out of my sight. Men, take them outside!”
The bandits looked at each other in disbelief What sort of secret was the First Master hiding? What was so important that he could forsake the gold, and even their brothers’ revenge? They could not disobey his orders however, and some came forward to drag them away, only to be interrupted by Zhao Qing, “You can’t go!” He blocked the bandits’ path as he looked towards Ji Yunshu. “I must know about Jiu’er. Tell me all that you know!”
Zhao Huai screamed, “Get out of the way!”
“I want to know the whole truth!”
The two of them were at an impasse. Zhao Qing grabbed Ji Yunshu, pleading, “Who was it? Who killed Jiu’er? Tell me!”
Shi Ziran twisted Zhao Qing’s hand, placing himself between Zhao Qing and Ji Yunshu. That was the future Princess Consort Rong, theoretically she was now half his master - of course he had to protect her. Ji Yunshu pushed Shi Ziran away despite his good intentions, and looked Zhao Qing straight in the eye, “I’ll tell you.”
“This story didn’t begin a year ago, but needs to be traced back to when the Old Master was still alive. About ten odd years ago, the Old Master’s son caught a strange illness. The technical term for this illness is ‘dissociative identity disorder,’ or what we commonly know as ‘multiple personality disorder’. When the illness acts up, the patient’s personality would change to one extremely different from his original personality. The alternate personality would oftentimes be the opposite extreme of the original, and any kind of emotion would be magnified. Even something minor could set him off and result in him killing others, maybe even more. But when his original personality returned, he wouldn’t remember anything the alternate personality ever did or said.”[1. Dissociative identity disorder is a real thing, but it’s controversial. Of course, the details and treatment in the story are not accurate. An alternate personality is not necessarily murderous. It’s thought to be a coping mechanism in the aftermath of trauma. Real-world treatments are also primarily psychotherapy, not drugs. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissociative_identity_disorder ]
Zhao Qing broke out in a cold sweat.
“Therefore the Old Master had searched far and wide, visiting multiple famed physicians. His hard work paid off - he finally found a famous physician named Mo and obtained a medicine called Tranquil Powder. The Old Master’s son has been taking this medicine for years and his illness is now under control, and that son… is you.” Ji Yunshu’s voice was barely audible at the last two words.
Zhao Qing was stunned as he shook his head in disbelief. “Me? Impossible. I’ve never taken any Tranquil Powder.” Hilarious! I’m ill? You’re the one who’s ill!
Zhao Huai finally spoke. “You have, you always have.”
Zhao Huai finished, “Ever since you were young, you have always been troubled by nightmares. To not worry you, Father said that the medicine was to calm your nerves, but it is actually Tranquil Powder to treat your illness.” The stone in Zhao Huai’s heart finally lifted after all these years, the heavy weight festering in his mind disappearing.
“No, it can’t be.” Zhao Qing could not accept this. Nonsense! He pulled out several small yellow packages from his waistband, revealing some blue powder as he opened one them with trembling fingers.The medicine that he had been consuming for all these years for his nerves was something to treat a ‘psychiatric’ illness? He threw the medicine away, “Impossible. This is medicine for anxiety, for my nightmares - it cannot possibly be medication to treat strange illnesses.”
Just then, Ba Hu, who had always been by Zhao Qing’s side, made his way through the crowd, stammering, “Second Master, First Master isn’t lying.”
Zhao Qing stomped over and grabbed Ba Hu by his collar in a fit of anger, “You’re lying!”
“Second Master, I’m not lying - it’s the truth, this is medication for your illness. When you left Gaoshan Village last year, First Master came to me, telling me to look after you. He gave me the prescription and reminded me that you couldn’t miss a single dose.” Zhao Qing stepped backwards abruptly like the snapped string of a bow, losing all focus in his eyes.
ChouFleur Rants Corner
Dun dun dunnnn...
CONTENT WARNING: Discussion of psychiatric illnesses, specifically dissociative identity/multiple personality disorder.
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