Chapter 5 - A person, a lantern and a sandalwood box
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“A human corpse can lie, but bones never do.”
As the words fell, Ji Yunshu had already pried open the mouth. The surrounding charred skin cracked and fell to the ground, the noise faintly echoing in the silence.
“The hyoid bone[1. The hyoid bone can be visualized in this picture. As you can see the hyoid bone looks it's floating, but in fact, it's not held in place by another bone. It's held in place by muscles and ligaments. Its function is to allow a wider range of tongue, pharyngeal and laryngeal movements. For more information click here.] is obstructed. If we continue upward, you can clearly see that the coronoid process[2. The coronoid process is the red part of the picture here.] is shattered. This would indicate that someone used an extremely heavy object to strike the lower jaw.” That was to say, once the victim’s head had been smashed to the side, the attacker had stabbed the victim’s nape.
“There is a vaguely circular mark on the nape made by the puncture of a sharp object. It caused the tips of the bone to fracture, leading to copious blood loss. Although it’s impossible to determine the time of death due to the burnt skin and flesh, I could approximate from the bone tissue within the remaining teeth. From these three loosened teeth, the estimated time of death should be yesterday. However, that fire started four hours ago. It’s clear that these five people were brought to this abandoned house after their deaths. If nothing else, there is also no sign of struggle while they burned.”
Jing Rong became curious after listening to her logical explanations.
Then, Ji Yunshu walked to the next corpse and examined it. She palpated the corpse’s hyoid bone.
“In a normal human, the regions above and below the hyoid bone are always softer compared to the hyoid bone in the middle. However, the hyoid bone on this corpse is identical to the first one. Both of their bones are soft whereas the above and below are hard. For such a situation to appear, there is only one possibility; they died from poisoning, which would explain why they didn’t struggle at all while being burned.
Jing Rong lowered his eyes.
Ji Yunshu scrunched her forehead charmingly as she continued to analyze. “The skeletons of these five bodies are amazing. They must have been trained in martial arts, which means it would have been quite difficult to kill them. Both sides must have fought hard, which resulted in their bones receiving such damage. However, their opponents must have been on the losing side and decided to resort to poison. Since they used poison, it was certainly one that needed to be ingested, leading to the current abnormality with their throats. If we wanted to investigate further, it would be better to start from the food, perhaps… from where they had last stayed, like at an inn.”
“Do you see anything else?”
Ji Yunshu shook her head. She got up, taking off and throwing away her white gloves. Her hands rose to dust a corner of her outfit.
“Are you a coroner?” Jing Rong asked.
That man asked as many questions as there were stars in the sky!
“This humble self is only a painter. I merely have a bit of knowledge about bones, so I just examined them. A coroner would open the torso, examine the heart, liver, spleen, lungs, kidneys and brain. Their work is completely different. If Young Master still wants to investigate further, send these corpses to the coroner to examine them. If not, there’s no need to continue.”
She wasn’t in the habit of forcing others. Besides, investigating this homicide case or not, in the end, has nothing to do with her.
Jing Rong scanned Ji Yunshu with his eyes.
There was such a character hidden in this tiny Jinjiang city!
This scholar had said so much. If he persisted on cremating the corpses because of sentiment, it was inexcusable.
Furthermore, these men were his subordinates, and they died from poison. Right now, he also wanted to quickly discover the truth hidden behind this case.
Could it be… that this is related to the capital?
Unfortunately, his return to the capital has to be delayed once again!
“Lang Po, instruct your men to deliver the corpses to the coroner for autopsy, and once you have the results, notify me immediately.”
The burly man called Lang Po immediately ordered some men to carry away the corpses.
Jing Rong turned to Ji Yunshu and looked at her. “How should I address this young master?”
Ji Yunshu displayed an indifferent expression and reserved attitude. But to be polite, she still wore a careful smile.
“I am a simple painter not worthy of a name. The time is already late. This humble one would like to return home to take care of my father who has been bedridden for a long time. Goodbye.”
The so-called bedridden father, Ji Shuhan, was standing there. The corner of his eye twitched when she mentioned her father.
At this moment, Ji Yunshu had already taken a lantern and sandwiched the sandalwood box under her arm. She walked to the county magistrate and whispered, “Today, I was called to work twice. In addition to six hours of work, I wet two pairs of shoes and wasted two pairs of white gloves. Add at least 10 taels more to next month’s salary.”
This kind of planning and calculation, truly meticulous!
The magistrate clutched his fingers behind him and rolled his eyes. Forget it. The Zhou family had given them 40 taels of silver as a bonus; the court allocated 70 taels, and the murder case of East Suburbs could fetch 20 taels. His monthly salary was 45 taels. Even including his salary and other miscellaneous expenses, there were still 60 taels left.
‘Ohoh! It was more than enough!’
This certainly was a meticulous calculation!
“I’ll add 15 taels. The weather is getting cold; you should buy a flask of hot drink.” Magistrate Liu was beaming with smiles and waited on this indifferent ancestor of his.
Ji Yunshu’s expression stayed cold. She didn’t take the effort to reply, simply striding deeper into the black curtain of the night. Her lantern flickered in the darkness, the only sign of her passage.
A person, a lantern, and a sandalwood box created a rather picturesque sight.
Jing Rong, who was left behind, displayed an expression of deep contemplation. ‘Although that scholar’s frame was slender, he didn’t appear to possess the aura of a weak scholar.’
Since time immemorial, a talented person hidden in a city would definitely not be simple at all!
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