Chapter 406 - Soft Spot
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don't read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
In the middle of the night.
Holding something wrapped in black fabric, Li Mingzhou avoided everyone and crept quietly out the back doors of the Li Residence. He left Yuzhou City and headed towards a mountain. After about two hours of walking, he stopped in front of a gravestone. That block of stone was engraved with the name of Chang Shiliang, Old Master Chang.
Li Mingzhou threw the bundle he brought with him on the ground and a few shovels and some small tools fell out noisily. He gave the gravestone a good kick and made it fall, then picked up a large shovel and started digging.
Two hours later, the buried coffin was finally visible. He narrowed his eyes and wiped off the sweat on his forehead. With a solemn expression, he sighed as he looked at the coffin. “Third brother, I’m so sorry that I have to do this. Otherwise, they’ll find the evidence. I cannot let your body stay here.” He said as his eyes filled with agony and helplessness.
Li Mingzhou patted the dust off his hands and threw the shovel aside. He then bent down, grasped the cover of the coffin and gave it a mighty heave. Bang! The coffin cover flew off and landed to the side in a cloud of dust.
He peered into the coffin and was gave a start of surprise. It was empty! There was no sign of Old Master Chang’s corpse. “What happened?” He was in a state of shock.
All of sudden, sporadic flames started appearing, accompanied by a flurry of footsteps. He was surrounded. Li Mingzhou scanned through the crowd with his eyes filled with fear, slowly realising that these people with torches surrounding him were from the yamen. He had fallen into a trap.
At this moment, the crowd parted to make way for Fang Mingshan, Jing Rong and Ji Yunshu. Fang Mingshan gestured sternly. “Arrest Li Mingzhou and bring him to yamen for interrogation.”
“Yes!” A few yamen runners came forward to grab his arms.
Li Mingzhou struggled as he protested, “What are you doing? Why are you arresting me?”
“Why did we arrest you? You killed three people, and now you desecrate a grave and intend to destroy evidence. Who else should we arrest other than you?”
“I didn’t kill anyone.”
“Why are you here if you didn’t kill anyone?
“I…” His face turned green as he struggled to find an explanation.
“Since you could not explain this clearly, then you shall explain it in the yamen.”
At this moment, Jing Rong went ahead and told Li Mingzhou, “The two guys you met outside your residence today were arrangement by me. You must have overheard their conversation and worried that the yamen will find the evidence to prove that you’re the murderer. That’s why you came here in the middle of the night to destroy the body and the evidence all together. But this was all a scheme to catch a big fish like you.” Li Mingzhou remained silent, knowing that he was well and truly trapped..
After a short while, Li Mingzhou was brought back to the yamen and compelled to kneel in the court.
Fang Mingshan grabbed his gavel and hit it hard on his table. The sound ‘Bang’ echoed. “Li Mingzhou, tell us the truth. Why did you kill them?”
“This humble one did not kill anyone.”
“The Official has already been informed that you and the three deceased were the leaders of the old Liu Gang. All of you have the same tattoo on your body. If you knew them, why did you not admit so yesterday? Moreover, the bracelet that Miss Yu’in from the House of Serenity was wearing is obviously engraved with your name. You used Yu’in, disguised as a ghost, to first scare the three of them, then you killed them and blamed it on spirits.”
Li Mingzhao only laughed in response to the statement. “Lord Fang, I didn’t kill them. Even if I knew them, what can it prove? Even if I went to dig up the grave today, it doesn’t prove that I’m the murderer.”
“You still refuse to tell the truth?”
“The humble one did not kill anyone. What other truths can I tell?” He shot back in return.
Li Mingzhou was persistent and would not admit to anything. Out of ideas, Fang Mingshan glanced at Ji Yunshu. Help!
Ji Yunshu went forward and said amiably, “Old Master Chang died seven days ago when you were supposed to be out of town. However, the night Old Master Chang was attacked, you came back into the city.”
Oh! Li Mingzhou denied the accusation. “I did not.”
“This humble one has a testimony from the old man on night watch where he witnessed you rushing back to Yuzhou City that night. You were not going in the direction of your Li Residence, but towards the Chang Residence. Approximately two hours later, between eleven to one a.m., he once again witnessed you rushing out of the city. This whole process matched exactly with the time of death of Old Master Chang. If you have anything more to say, we can invite the old man from the night watch here. Additionally, the murderer wore a pair of shoes smaller than Old Master Chang’s feet while he hung him on the tree.”
Ji Yunshu gazed at his feet as she said, “Coincidentally, Old Master Li’s feet is smaller than Old Master Chang’s. Of course, what’s more damning is that once you heard that I would be able to identify the murderer after performing an autopsy the next morning, you felt guilty and canceled your plan of leaving Yuzhou City, then came here in the middle of the night to destroy the evidence. Am I right?”
In spite of not having any proof, she analysed it step by step. If her analysis was all right, there was a great possibility that Li Mingzhou was the murderer.
Unexpectedly, Li Mingzhou laughed faintly and looked at her, “What Teacher Ji said was very accurate. This humble one admires your cleverness. However, you were wrong. I didn’t kill anyone. I came back that night without heading home to the Li residence because I left my ledger and registry log at my jade store. My staff working that night can bear witness. Regarding the foot size, there are many people on earth who have smaller feet than Old Master Chang. Are they all the murderer?”
“Then, why did you try to unearth the body?”
Li Mingzhou kept quiet.
“Since you claim that you did not kill them, why did you dig up the body then? What secret do you share with Miss Yu’in? That secret must be relevant to these three cases.”
He remained quiet.
Fang Mingshan could not take it any longer, he said furiously, “If you don’t want to talk, I’ll hit you until you do.” Just as Fang Mingshan was about to order his people to bring up the flog, he was stopped by Ji Yunshu. She squatted in front of Li Mingzhou and looked at him straight in the eye. Then, she slowly shifted her gaze to the embroidery on his collar. She squinted her eyes to get a better look. “Was this flower sewn by hand? It’s very delicate.”
Li Mingzhou’s expression changed a little. He moved away his gaze to avoid Ji Yunshu’s eyes. The corner of Ji Yunshu’s lips rose. “This humble one has seen this method of embroidery on Miss Yu’in’s handkerchief. It looks exactly the same as the one on Old Master Li’s collar.”
At this, Li Mingzhou became anxious. Every minute change in his expression was observed by Ji Yunshu. “It’s fine if Old Master Li doesn’t want to say it. Miss Yu’in is still in the prison at this moment. In any case, as a frail girl, I wonder how much torture and interrogation can she handle?”
“What are you planning to do?”
“If we can’t make Old Master Li talk, maybe we shall ask Miss Yu’in.”
“You…” Li Mingzhou was agitated and reach out to grab her. Before he could even touch her, he was kicked away by Jing Rong.
“Li Mingzhou, the Prince is not as patient as Teacher Ji. If you still insist on not talking, Yu’in will be buried together with your body.” It seemed that he became worked up every time Yu’in was mentioned.
Obviously, Miss Yu’in was his soft spot!
ChouFleur Rants Corner
What is the secret? (Though methinks the 'hero can't defend against the beauty' cliche is a little overused)
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