Chapter 402 - The Secret Behind The Tattoo
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don't read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
Yu’in eyed her carefully; without that sparse moustache, this Teacher Ji was indeed quite striking. She spoke, “I had heard that Lord Fang had asked a Teacher Ji to investigate the murders, but I didn’t expect for Teacher Ji to capture this ghost in just a day.”
“Then why did this ghost scare those men?” Ji Yunshu spoke soothingly, as if she were addressing a child.
“Are you trying to catch me off-guard?”
“Miss Yu’in is thinking too much. I have already mentioned before; this is neither a court of law, nor am I Lord Fang - I won’t interrogate you.”
Yu’in did not trust her fully. “Then why are you here?”
“It’s chilly inside this prison; your constitution is naturally weaker, and it’d be bad if you were to catch some illness. This one specially brought hot tea and dishes for the miss to warm yourself up.”
Yu’in eyed that box, scoffed, and pushed it aside. “There’s no need.”
This action revealed her thin wrist, but also two words carved into that bracelet of hers - ‘Shang Xi’! What did it mean? Ji Yunshu purposely mentioned, “This bracelet of yours must be made of
Nephrite. In addition to its reputation as the highest grade of jade, found only in the Xinjiang region, its gorgeous color suggests that this must have cost quite a fortune!”
Yu’in retracted her hand further back into her sleeve. Ji Yunshu continued, “‘Shang Xi’? Is this another name of this lady?”
“It’s none of your business.” Yu’in replied warily in a cold tone..
Ji Yunshu smiled as she picked up the box and stood up. “Since Miss Yu’in doesn’t want this offering, then this one will not disturb you further. It’s humid here in the prison, miss should look after yourself.” Yu’in did not answer and Ji Yunshu walked away.
Upon leaving the prison, Ji Yunshu wrote down the words ‘Shang Xi’ and handed them to Fang Mingsan, “Could Lord Fang possibly research what these two words mean?” Fang Mingsan glanced at it and passed it over to Wen Lingyang.
She received a reply early in the morning the following day. The words ‘Shang Xi’ referred to the second name of Old Master Li of Yuzhou. That Old Master Li was called Mingzhou, named ‘Shang Xi’. He was a famous jade trader in Yuzhou and its surrounding regions, but due to his business, he never dwelled long in Yuzhou City. He was considered a kind person; often helping the poor civilians, and was generous towards others. So why did Yu’in’s jade bracelet have Old Master Li’s name carved into it?
Fang Mingsan found this whole thing to be quite strange. “Li Mingzhou is an upright man - he would never visit a brothel like that.”
Wen Lingyang replied, “But the only person in the entire Yuzhou City with the name ‘Shang Xi’, is that Old Master Li.”
Ji Yunshu asked, “Then, is he currently here in Yuzhou City?”
“He returned last night.”
“If we want to know if he’s connected to Miss Yu’in, all we have to do is ask.”
“Is the Teacher heading to the Li Estate?”
Ji Yunshu shook her head. “No, we’ll invite him here to the yamen.”
Soon after, Li Mingzhou ‘arrived’ at the yamen. He looked to be about forty-ish, with a pleasant visage and was dressed plainly. To sum it up, he was a gentle-looking middle-aged man.
Li Mingzhou did not look at all flustered as he entered the yamen hall, first raising his hands in respect towards Jing Rong, “This one pays his respects to Prince Rong.” It seems like he had done his homework - he already knew that Jing Rong would be here before he even arrived.
Jing Rong only stared back coldly. Receiving no answer, Li Mingzhou asked Fang Mingsan humbly, “Could I ask why Lord Fang has asked this Mister Li over here today?”
Fang Mingsan was seated in the upper court. He did not want to dilly-dally, so he asked him up front, “This official summoned you to ask if you are acquainted with Miss Yu’in of the House of Serenity?”
“Yu’in?” Li Mingzhou shook his head, “The House of Serenity is a house of pleasure, why would this one visit such a place...let alone know anyone from there?”
“Li Mingzhou, there is no room for lies in court.”
“This Mister Li has spoken only the truth. What’s more, this one does not spend much time in Yuzhou City - this is a fact everyone in the Li Family can attest to. If Lord Fang does not believe me, then you can let me meet Miss Yu’in to corroborate my testimony.” He spoke without hesitation and stated every word unabashedly.
Ji Yunshu came forward this time. She took out a piece of paper with a smile on her face. On it was an extremely detailed sketch of the bracelet Yu’in wore on her wrist. “Old Master Li, you’re in the jade trade. Could I ask if such a bracelet has ever passed through your hands?”
Li Mingzhou examined it and nodded. “This is made of the finest nephrite. I have seen this design before - only ten pieces of this were crafted two years ago.”
“Then can you remember who bought it?”
“I couldn’t possible remember something that happened such a long time ago, and there are no records as well.”
“Then would bracelets like these be engraved with words? Or logos?”
Li Mingzhou denied, “Of course not.”
Ji Yunshu did not observe anything untoward from his expression. Her questions stopped there and she shot Fang Mingsan a look. He comprehended immediately. “If so, then Old Master Li can leave.”
Li Mingzhou did not question why he would be suspected of being involved with Yu’in, and left without a word. Before he could step outside of the court however, Wei Yi came running in, bumping right into Li Mingzhou. The man stumbled backwards, but was luckily caught by Ji Yunshu before he could fall over.
During this exchange, Ji Yunshu coincidentally saw a tattoo on the back of Li Mingzhou’s neck. Unexpectedly, this tattoo was identical to the one on Old Master Chang’s ankle. Ji Yunshu felt herself going momentarily numb at this new discovery.
Li Mingzhou offered his thanks. “Many thanks, Teacher.”
“No need.” Ji Yunshu took two steps backwards, asking, “Is Old Master Li familiar with Old Master Chang?”
“I’ve only heard of this man, but have never crossed paths with him, either professionally or privately.”
Ji Yunshu smiled and left it at that.
Once Li Mingzhou left, Wei Yi bounced in front of her. “Shu’er, what are you doing?”
Ji Yunshu ignored Wei Yi, her attention instead directed at Fang Mingsan, “Lord Fang, this one needs to re-examine the corpses of the other two victims.”
Fang Mingsan was efficient at his work. Those other two coffins were unearthed in no time. Ji Yunshu examined the bodies at their burial sites, confirming they had died by hanging. Luckily, the bodies were not heavily decomposed, and any markings on them were still discernible.
As she had expected, the same tattoo was on their bodies, only at different locations! For the three victims to have the exact same tattoo as Li Mingzhou, what did this all represent?
Jing Rong peeked at the bodies in those coffins and questioned, “What did you find?” Ji Yunshu recounted her discoveries.
Jing Rong began to analyze the situation. “That means that Li Mingzhou is somehow connected to those three victims. Yu’in’s bracelet was carved with Li Mingzhou’s second name, and coincidentally, the men she scared have the same marking on them. If we work along these lines of logic, Li Mingzhou must know who Yu’in is, and have some sort of relationship or connection with those three men. Yu’in must have agreed to Li Mingzhou’s orders to pretend she was a ghost to scare those victims, after which Li Mingzhou would kill them, blaming their deaths on spirits?”
Was Li Mingzhou really the murderer? Was this that simple? Was this case considered solved? Ji Yunshu did not think so, but she was not fully confident. She spoke hesitantly, “But what would Li Mingzhou’s motive be? Why did he want to kill them? And what is the meaning behind this tattoo?”
Jing Rong pondered, suddenly remarking, “Maybe somebody would know.”
ChouFleur Rants Corner
What does Zhao Huai have to do with it all? Did you guys enjoy the bonus chapters and the lovely graphic by Barbara?
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