Chapter 395 - Copycat
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Fang Mingsan was puzzled. “Why would the murderer watch the deceased hang? And if the deceased saw the murderer while he was hanging, how could you call it a murder? This all just looks like the deceased committed suicide by hanging.”
Yes, yes! If that were the case, there would be no murderer in the first place! Everyone was curious - what was this strange case?
Ji Yunshu explained matter-of-factly. “I’m not pulling words out of thin air. When I said that the victim saw the murderer while he was hanging, there is only one logical explanation - the victim was being hung up by the murderer.”
Being hung up? What a new phrase. Fang Mingsan queried, “What do you mean, Teacher Ji?”
“If my hypothesis is correct, the deceased could have been carried by the murderer to the large tree unknowingly, or while he was in an extremely deep stupor, then hung up onto the tree. He woke up in the midst of it all, and while he was being strangled to death by the rope, he witnessed the murderer standing right before him. This would explain why the corpse’s gaze is fixed straight ahead, his expression twisted, and also why his fingers are curved to this extent.”
Everybody present felt a chill running down their spines as they listened to her explanation. Only Wen Lingyang spoke, his brush paused in md-air. “There’s no real evidence. If the deceased was really hung up, why didn’t we find any sign of the murderer at the crime scenes?”
Constable Zhang followed, “Yes, Teacher Ji has described this as if you were right there at the time of the crime, but… we have no supporting evidence.”
“Of course we do!” Ji Yunshu retrieved the pair of boots that she had brought back with her, flipping them over to reveal the soles, “The soles of this pair of boots are covered in mud. I walked past where Old Master Chang had been hung when I entered the Chang Estate backyard. Because of the heavy rain, it was especially muddy around the large tree. It is natural that his boots would be covered in mud. When I matched these shoes to Old Master Chang’s feet, they fit perfectly, not an inch too big or too small. However, the sole has a slight bulge in the middle; for such a perfectly-fitting pair of shoes, it’s impossible for the middle of the soles to have more mud than the heel and toe portions.”
As they listened, they saw that the mud was indeed oddly distributed, exactly as she had described..
Constable Zhang asked, “What does this prove?”
“This proves that my earlier guess was right.” Ji Yunshu was much more sombre as her gaze swept the room. “The murderer first wore the deceased’s shoes, which were a size larger than the murderer’s feet, so his centre of gravity shifted to the middle of the shoes; this explains why this particular region was covered in more mud than the toes. The murderer wore this pair of shoes as he carried the unconscious Old Master Chang to the tree, tossing the rope already wrapped around Old Master Chang’s neck onto the tree to falsify the image of suicide. However, Old Master Chang was woken by the feeling of suffocation as the rope tightened around his neck. As he opened his eyes, he saw the murderer right before his eyes, and his fear was amplified. This would explain his struggling and his startled expression at the time of death.”
Oh! “So that’s how it is. That means, all three of these murder cases were committed by a person, and not some vengeful spirit!” Constable Zhang heaved a sigh of relief.
Fang Mingsan’s brows were tightly knitted into a line, “Since we’ve established that it wasn’t a suicide, what about the murderer?”
“Please be patient, Lord Fang. With the evidence that this one has gathered at present, I can only prove that these cases were committed by a human being. As to clues about the murderer’s identity, this one has yet to discover any, so if you want to understand why these cases were committed, we have to return to the beginning to investigate.”
“The commonality connecting all three cases.”
Commonality? Then - Wen Lingyang was struck with a revelation, “Ghosts. Before all three of them died, they each mentioned seeing a ghost on the second floor of the House of Serenity.”
Ji Yunshu nodded, “Correct. This is the one clue we have to finding out who the murderer is.”
Fang Mingsan quickly answered, “This official had already sent some men to investigate the House of Serenity, but we didn’t find anything useful. If what Teacher Ji said is that important, then this official will bring some men with me to the House of Serenity tomorrow to investigate the place again, even more carefully this time.”
“There’s no need!” Ji Yunshu refused.
“No need? Then…” Fang Mingsan did not understand.
Ji Yunshu shook her head exasperatedly. Although Fang Mingsan was a humble official and resembled a frail, bookish, poor county magistrate, a muddle-headed one, he was exactly like Constable Zhang in his handling of affairs - an impatient, hot-headed mess! Neither of them thought further ahead to the consequences of their actions.
“If all three of these cases are connected to that guest room in the House of Serenity, then there must be some secret hidden there. People of their profession have the tightest seals around their lips, so it wouldn’t be easy to try to pry information from them. We can’t use Lord Fang’s methods - my investigative methods are more appropriate and effective.”
Fang Mingsan was about to voice his doubts when Jing Rong spoke first, “It’s already late. This Prince will personally make a visit to that House of Serenity tomorrow with Teacher Ji. Let’s call it a day.”
Huh? His Highness is going to the brothel? This was headline-worthy news! It was akin to the Prince of some country entering the nightclub - should anyone find out, it would rock the world! Ji Yunshu could not be bothered to reach for her mobile phone, instead asking Jing Rong, “Your Highness, how could you go to such a place with me?”
Jing Rong shrugged his shoulders without a care in the world, “Since everyone can go there, why can’t this Prince do the same? It’s agreed, you’ll investigate as you wish, and this Prince will assist you as this Prince deems fit. Only four days remain of your five.”
Ji Yunshu frowned. “Today counts as well?”
“You…” She glared at him, only to see Jing Rong smirk and chase everyone else away.
Fang Mingsan still had not understood what kinds of methods Ji Yunshu was going to use - wasn’t investigating any case simply questioning those involved and investigative ground work?
Mo Ruo rose from his seat lazily and stretched. “Good, I’m leaving too. The past two days’ journey has been too taxing.” This young master is tired!
Ji Yunshu tossed the piece of clothing on the table towards him as he left. “Don’t forget. The stain on this piece of clothing is still waiting for you to discover what it is.”
Mo Ruo’s face fell. “Understood.” He held on to it, waved, and left without looking back.
Ji Yunshu likewise returned to her own room with Jing Rong following closely behind her, the two of them walking single-file as they entered the courtyard that Fang Mingsan had prepared. As soon as they entered, they saw Wei Yi sitting on a stone stool playing with his marbles, flicking them continuously with his fingers in joy. He hurriedly threw them to a servant maid next to him as he saw Ji Yunshu, running towards her excitedly. “Shu’er, you’re finally back!”
“It’s late, why aren’t you in bed?”
“I was waiting for Shu’er.”
“Why were you waiting for me?”
“Actually, it’s not me.” He pointed inside the room. “It’s Aunty Xie who’s waiting for you.”
Oh? Ji Yunshu glanced inside the room and set her foot in.
Wei Yi was going to follow her in when Jing Rong grabbed him by the collar, forcefully sitting him down on that a stool. He then gestured for the two servant maids to leave.
“What are you doing? Why are you dragging me? I want to go to Shu’er.”
“Are you a copycat?”
“Of course not! I’m a person, not a cat!”
Jing Rong rolled his eyes, “I can’t understand why Mo Ruo wanted to bring you along. We should have left you in the Capital.”
ChouFleur Rants Corner
Oh... a brothel? And poor Wei Yi!
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