Note: Please be advised to take out your box of tissues and something to vent your rage when the truth of this case is revealed. Part of it might make people feel uncomfortable.
A conjecture took form within Jing Rong’s mind, but he did not dare to accept it.
Ji Yunshu clenched on Ah Yu’s little hands, her expression solemn. Due to the sensitive nature of the case, her intuition told her that the truth was far from simple. Not to mention the words that Madame Jiang left before… Imperceptibly, she always felt something was wrong from those words.
After she lay back Ah Yu’s hands, she turned to the jailer and instructed him, “Go the yamen immediately and notify Lord Liu to bring the knife that Yu Sao used to commit her crime. In addition, bring me some black ink and flour.”
The jailer was bewildered, “Teacher, what are you going to do?”
“Hurry and go!”
“But… what about the corpse? We still have to send it to the memorial hall.”
Ji Yunshu fiercely glared at him, “I told you to hurry and do as you are ordered, why are you being so wordy for?” Aiyah!
The jailer shivered from fear and hurriedly bent down to signify that he accepted the order and ran away. Ji Yunshu sighed while looking at the lifeless Ah Yu. Her heart was extremely heavy. None of her expressions was missed by Jing Rong.
He asked her, “Are you suspecting that Ah Yu is the real murderer?”
Ji Yunshu shook her head, “I am not certain. I hope that my guess is wrong.”
Jing Rong analysed the situation, “Two years ago, she was only six years old. How can a six-year-old child kill a man in his forties?” This kind of misgiving should be put aside. However…
Ji Yunshu squinted her eyes, “Your Highness, did you forget? When Lord Jiang was pushed by Li Zhao, he sprained his ankle. He shouldn’t be able to get up easily and since Ah Yu was only six years old, there was no need for Lord Jiang to guard himself against her which gave her the opportunity to kill him.”
She immediately added, “But all of this is only my conjecture. It is but a possibility.”
Jing Rong nodded and stopped asking questions.
Not long after, Magistrate Liu arrived, looking worn out in his official uniform, but when he saw Jing Rong, he greeted him while shivering like usual, “Your Highness, this is the prison. For you to be here, I’m afraid that your precious and noble body…”
Jing Rong raised his hand to interrupt him, “The case is more urgent. There’s no need to attend to me.”
“Y-y-yes…” The Magistrate rose and walked over to Ji Yunshu.
He waved at a runner who stepped forward to give her the things that she had asked for, “Are there new elements pertaining the case? Didn’t you already examine the knife?”
The Magistrate was puzzled.
Ji Yunshu did not plan to discuss long with him. She put on her gloves and took the knife and burned the wooden handle using the flame of the oil lamp. Then, she instructed a runner, “Add the flour to the black ink and stir it until the texture is uniform.”
“Yes, sir.” The runner did as told and after he was done mixing, he gave it to Ji Yunshu.
Ji Yunshu dipped the handle with the flour and ink mixture. After about fifteen minutes, she pulled out the handle. The handle was now black and sticky. Once again, she cooked the handle above the flame. Meanwhile, everyone was looking at her with bewilderment on their faces.
What was Teacher Ji doing? Eight pairs of eyes were observing the knife in her hand. As everyone continued to stare, the black flour paste started to peel off by itself under the high temperature of the flame. Finally, only several distinctive marks were left on the handle.
No one but Ji Yunshu understood the significance of those marks. With the appearance of those marks, her eyes were misted with an expression that left people unable to decipher her mood.
The Magistrate took the initiative to ask, “How could this be? Is there something special about this knife?”
“Hmmm.” She nodded.
“What is wrong with it?”
“Everything is wrong.” Her words baffled Liu Qingping.
She moved the handle away from the flame. Then, she put Ah Yu’s left hand around the handle and made the corpse grip the handle before releasing the hand.
“It completely fits!” Ji Yunshu declared in a confident tone.
“The one who killed Lord Jiang is Ah Yu!”
Wooaah! Everyone was flabbergasted, except for Jing Rong who remained calm.
He asked her, “How did you determine it?”
Ji Yunshu raised the knife handle and began to explain, “There are marks on the handle. Those are fingerprints.”
“Fingerprints?” The Magistrate stepped forward and carefully examined the fingerprints, “But how did the fingerprints show up there?”
“They appeared because Ah Yu gripped on the handle at the time of the murder. When she stabbed the victim, her small hand only occupied a small space. Therefore, it was obvious enough from the placement of the fingerprints. What’s more, when she committed her crime, the whole knife was plunged into the victim, and blood was sprayed, covering the whole weapon, except on the areas where Ah Yu gripped the handle.”
Everyone looked at each other. They appeared to understand some of the explanations, but not all of it.
Ji Yunshu continued to explain, “I covered the handle with an ink and flour mixture, then heated it up. By doing that, the blood will be absorbed by the mixture and fall off. Whereas the mixture would continue to stick to areas where there aren’t any blood, thereby leaving marks - the fingerprints - that you see.”
“Oh! So it was like that!” The Magistrate nodded, but after thinking again, he felt extremely baffled, “But the fingerprints could have belonged to Yu Sao, no?”
“Impossible.” Ji Yunshu rejected the idea.
“Yunshu, Madame Jiang had said it herself that she saw Yu Sao killing Lord Jiang. She confessed to her crime, so it shouldn’t be wrong.”
“But Yu Sao didn’t admit to committing the murder.”
“The woman is crazy. How can she admit her crime?!” Magistrate Liu spread out his hand to stress his words.
Jing Rong glanced over, his cold eyes piercing through the Magistrate. He also reprimanded him, “Lord Liu, it’s best if you calm down a bit.”
“...” The Magistrate’s expression became stiff as he smiled awkwardly while nodding and closing his mouth. He could not say anything and was greatly suffering from Jing Rong’s rebuke.
Ji Yunshu slowly explained again, “I have all the evidence and evidence is everything. The fingerprints on the handle completely fit Ah Yu’s fingers, and they even have the same length. Not to mention that the position of the hand corresponded to that of a left-hander. For a left-handed person, their pinky, along with the other fingers will grip the handle in the opposite position from a right-handed person. In the case of a reverse grip, their thumb will be situated on the right side of the handle, as opposed to a right-handed person where their thumb will instead be on the left side. In addition, the four other fingers will be opposite to the thumb, be it the left hand or right hand.”
“As for the fingers’ positions on this handle, it clearly shows the person who held it was left handed.” Ji Yunshu lifted Ah Yu’s left hand and continued, “Ah Yu’s left palm had a thick layer of callus with well-defined palm lines. As for her right hand, it’s extremely soft. In other words, Ah Yu is left-handed and she used that very hand to hold the knife that stabbed Lord Jiang.”
This was something quite unbelievable. Two years ago, Ah Yu was only six years old! What could such a child go through that would force her to kill at such a tender age?!
It made everyone sigh endlessly. If what Ji Yunshu said was true, then what really happened in the end?
Suddenly, an outrageous conjecture wormed its way in her mind. The simple idea of it was so abominable that it scared her, causing her to suddenly tremble.
Jing Rong watched her expression and inquired, “Did you think of something?”
“I want to see Yu Sao again.”
Ji Yunshu interrupted his words, “I won’t go into the cell. I’m just going to stay outside.” She was able to see that Jing Rong was worried about her.
Jing Rong nodded, “Alright. Let me accompany you.”
Ji Yunshu refused., “No. Stay here. It’s better if you don’t come. I want to discuss this with her… alone.”
Without waiting for Jing Rong’s reply, she took the knife and walked toward Yu Sao’s prison cell.
Everyone followed behind her until they arrived to a hidden corner at a junction where they stopped and didn’t approach further. Ji Yunshu stood outside the cell. In her hand, she held the murder weapon. She approached the wooden stakes and knocked on it.
The knocking sound was very dull and heavy, the resonation seemed as if it was directly knocking into the mind and soul. She did it on purpose. After a moment passed, Yu Sao, whose back was facing her, slowly turned around. Her eyes overcast and bloodshot, appearing extremely dreadful!
Strangely, Ji Yunshu smiled and said, “Silently loving a person… That kind of feeling is very exciting, making you feel that everything you did for him was worth it, and those you don’t like should just go to hell. Am I right?” Her words were directed to Yu Sao.
Following that, Yu Sao simply replied, “Right.”
Very good! Ji Yunshu continued to speak, “Obviously, it was someone you like, but someone else snatched him away. The feeling is certainly unbearable. Am I right?”
“So, Yu Sao, don’t you hate Ah Yu very much?” Ji Yunshu suddenly asked.
Hmm? Hate? Where did that come from?
Unexpectedly, Yu Sao smiled, looking more mad with her hands grabbing her disheveled hair while she gave a genuine and honest smile at the same time. She spoke, “She is my Ah Yu. Why should I hate her?”
“Because she snatched your man.”
Following Ji Yunshu’s words, Yu Sao suddenly ferociously leapt up from the ground. Her smile twisted into a malevolent and insane one. Hatred suffused into the look she gave Ji Yunshu. She roared, “No one can take him from me! NO ONE!”
Ji Yunshu continued to provoke Yu Sao, “Doesn’t that mean he doesn’t love you? He loved Ah Yu. He embraced Ah Yu. He forced himself on her every time because he wanted her. He wanted to possess her. Yet, he doesn’t love you; he never wanted you.”
“Shut up! SHUT UP!” Yu Sao suddenly dashed forward and ruthlessly slammed onto wooden stakes of the prison cell. Her arms stretched with force through the wooden barrier of the cell as she attempted to grab Ji Yunshu’s neck.
It was a good thing that Ji Yunshu had already retreated a few steps when she saw Yu Sao’s mad rush towards her. Seeing that her hands was clawing the empty air, Yu Sao became enraged.
She screamed in her mad frenzy, “Don’t you dare say that! DON’T YOU DARE! He loves me! He loves me!”
The expression on the hidden crowd changed. That ‘he’ is Lord Jiang? So, the person Yu Sao loved is Lord Jiang!
The answer that Ji Yunshu wanted to know had been forced out from Yu Sao’s mouth. Her heart painfully ached at the confirmation of the truth. Tears gradually pooled in her eyes as she looked at this inhuman woman in front of her.
She shook her head.
Her voice was filled with sorrow as she vented, “She is your daughter! Just because you love Lord Jiang, you let Ah Yu endured his tortures each and every time he willed it. You even… harboured a grudge against her because she killed him. You confined her in that stinky little room and chained her to iron shackles! You fed her excrements and tortured her until she was more broken, no longer human, nothing but a tortured soul! Even to her last breath, she knew no peace! This was your revenge! You wanted to avenge Lord Jiang. You took revenge against your own biological daughter!”
Grenn's Rants Corner
Conclusion: What is justice? And Madame Jiang is not such a bad person for lying about Yu Sao being the murderer. Although at this point, we pretty understand that lots of characters in this novel are portrayed as grey, not completely black or white.
Meh... It was a bad idea to check around the cooking blog "The Woks of Life" It's making me hungry and I want to spend a whole week in close-door meditation in the kitchen, trying to gain a breakthrough into the dao of cooking.