Chapter 760 - In the Year, Month, Day and Hour of Yin


Right after Shang Zhuo left, Lu Jiang walked in and reported his findings, “Your Highness, I have sent men to search through the capital, but we did not find any blacksmith or weapon smith that has ever forged a 4 inch long dagger. All of them said that they have never seen anything like it in the capital, so I’ve expanded the search to outside the capital as well in hopes of finding a clue.”

“Has there been any matches to the portrait we sent to the Ministry of Justice?”

“Well...”

Before Lu Jiang could finish his sentence, Vice-Chancellor Yu came running into the hall. He was in such a hurry, he didn’t even notice his shoes were wet.

He greeted Jing Rong with a bow, “Your Highness.”

“What is it, Vice-Chancellor Yu?”

“There has been news from the Ministry of Justice.”

“Go on.”

He took out a booklet from his sleeve and handed it to Jing Rong as he explained. “The Ministry of Justice has searched the capital using the portrait provided, and they have learned the identity of the seven skeletons. The information was then relayed to the Ministry of Revenue, who organised their details and sent it to the Supreme Court. I’ve made a copy and brought it here immediately.”

Looks like the Ministry of Justice is quite efficient. Jing Rong opened the booklet. All information pertaining to the victims, from their names, ages, birthdays to their birthplaces along with other miscellaneous details were recorded inside. It was meticulously put together.

“All of them were from the capital?”

“Yes.”

Jing Rong passed the booklet to Ji Yunshu, who pored over its contents carefully without a word. The prince turned his attention back to Vice-Chancellor Yu and asked, “Did the Ministry of Justice find anything else?”

“For the time being, that is all we know. But Minister Li said although the skeletons in the examination room can still be kept there for a while longer, Gao Meng’s body would need to be returned to his associates in these two days, so they can bring him home and give him a proper burial.”

“Alright, he can proceed with that.”

“Yes, Your Highness.”

“Has the Ministry interviewed the friends and relatives of the seven victims and was there anything they were able to find out from them?”

“They are still investigating, so there may be new discoveries later. I rushed here the moment the list arrived from the Ministry of Revenue, so I hadn’t been to the Ministry of Justice yet.”

Vice-Chancellor Yu answered each and all of Jing Rong’s questions. Suddenly Ji Yunshu remarked with the booklet in hand, “That’s strange.”

Hm? Jing Rong asked, “What’s strange?”

“All of them are…”

Are what? Jing Rong, Vice-Chancellor Yu and Lu Jiang all stared at her in anticipation. She waved the booklet in her hand and said, “They all share a common trait.”

“A common trait?”

“All of them are born in the year, month, day and hour of Yin.”

The year, month, day, and hour of Yin? Jing Rong took the booklet and read through it again.

“You’re right!” He exclaimed.

Vice-Chancellor Yu scratched his head at that discovery, “Even so, what does this have to do with the case?”

“I don’t know.” She shook her head. “But instinct tells me this can’t be just a coincidence. The way they died was already puzzling, and now that we have learned of the commonality that ties them together, I think this is related to the way they died.”

In other words, this was just her intuition. After all, there aren't that many who are born in the year, month, day, and hour of Yin. How could the murderer manage to find and kill seven of them? If it was truly a coincidence, the murderer should have bought a lottery ticket.

They all fell quiet, until Jing Rong broke the silence, “What about Gao Meng? When was he born?”

“Ah, I almost forgot.” Vice-Chancellor Yu smacked his forehead and pulled out another booklet and passed it to the prince. “This is Gao Meng’s details, provided by his associates who came to the capital with him.”

Jing Rong opened the booklet and was surprised. “He’s also born in the year, month, day, and hour of Yin.”

Ugh. That meant all eight victims share the same commonality. So there’s no way this was just a coincidence. The discussion took a sombre turn. Jing Rong analysed, “What if the murderer is targeting people born in the year, month, day, and hour of Yin? And the strange method was a form of ritual sacrifice?”

“A ritual sacrifice?” Ji Yunshu’s eyes widened with surprise, “What do you mean?”

“It’s just my guess. I have been to quite a lot of places during the six months that I was away from the capital, and have heard of a horrifying ritual practice of finding people all born on the same day, tying them to a red-hot iron pole and letting them be burned alive as sacrifice. But I’ve only heard of it, I’ve never seen it. In this case, it looks like there may be some similarities with that ritual.”

“If that’s really what happened, it would be horrific.” Vice-Chancellor Yu shuddered at the thought.

“Let’s not jump to conclusions yet; we haven’t solved the case after all.”

Ji Yunshu agreed. “Exactly, there’s still more information that we haven’t learned. Let’s not jump to conclusions and disrupt our own momentum.”

“Yes, you’re right, Your Highness and Teacher Ji.”

But the speculation loomed over them like a fog and clouded their minds. The discussion grinded to a halt.

“Vice-Chancellor Yu, please head back to the Supreme Court first and notify the Ministry of Justice to investigate where the victims went before they died, who they met before they went missing, or… if anything strange had happened to them. Make sure they leave no stone unturned.”

“Yes, Your Highness. I’ll return to the Supreme Court at once.”

Just as he turned to leave, Vice-Chancellor Yu remembered something and asked, “Oh, when I arrived at the estate, I ran into Lord Shang at the gate. Why was he here?”

Jing Rong replied, “That Lord Shang is a good man, he just came by to ask about the Case of the Dried Well.”

“I see.” Vice-Chancellor Yu did not question further and left the estate in a hurry.

For some reason, the Rong Estate was quite lively today, just as someone left, another person would arrive.

Mo Ruo showed up right after Vice-Chancellor Yu left. As always, the talented doctor showed up with a wobble in his steps and a jug of wine in his hand. He walked in while swaying side to side before he plopped into a chair, as if he were in his own home.

Jing Rong gave him a glare, “What are you doing here, you drunkard?”

“What? Can’t I be here?”

“You stink of alcohol, I can’t stand it.”

Mo Ruo pointed at Ji Yunshu, who watched them calmly, “Even Teacher Ji, who doesn’t drink at all, is fine with this. You’re a big man, why are you so petty?”

Jing Rong rolled his eyes. “If I’m really being petty, you would have been thrown out by now.”

Mo Ruo laughed and took a swig from his bottle, then he squinted his eyes blearily at them. “I heard you two spent a night at the Zhang Village in the city outskirts and even witnessed a murder.”

Hm? This rascal is quite well-informed.

“How did you know?” Ji Yunshu questioned.

He pointed at his ears, “I may not be a government official, but I have really good hearing. Even the smallest events that happen in the capital cannot escape my ears.”

“Oh yeah? Then what do you know about the Case of the Dried Well?” She tossed the question at him.

“Interesting that you brought up this topic.” He got up, walked towards her and pulled out the handkerchief she had sent to Yuhua Pavilion, “Teacher Ji, are you pulling a trick on me? Someone said you found something and you wanted me to look at it, but there’s nothing in this handkerchief!”

“Nothing?” Ji Yunshu snatched the handkerchief from his hand and checked. Her brows tightened to a knot and she gasped in shock, “Where’s the thing inside?”

“That’s what I’m here to ask you about!”

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

ChouFleur's Thoughts

hmm... ritual sacrifice?? 

Translator: Iris, Editor: Aruthea