Chapter 185 – Another Murderer
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don’t read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
Ji Yunshu unfolded the paper note and saw rows of densely packed black characters written with delicate and pretty calligraphy. The first thing she looked at was the sender’s name which, unexpectedly, turned out to be Mei Xiang’er!
‘Eh?’ Her heart tightened with unease. ‘Was she the one who put it inside my sleeve?’
On the spread out paper, she could read:
Miss Ji, if you can read this message, it means that Heaven allowed you to live on. As for me, I must already be dead, and I want to tell you that I am sorry.
One last thing, please help me pass this letter on to another person.
Ji Yunshu carefully read each word, but when she finally arrived at the end of the note, her hands trembled and the note almost fell to the floor. In an instant, the fear and unease she felt when she was trapped inside that hut rushed forth.
The young girl saw Ji Yunshu’s scared appearance. She prudently inquired. “Teacher Ji, are you alright?”
Ji Yunshu stayed mute.
Ji Yunshu clenched the note in her hand and immediately rushed out with the intention to find Jing Rong, but when she had just stepped out of her courtyard, she bumped into Lang Po who was in a hurry. She seemed to realize something, so she asked him. “Did something happen?”
“How did you know?”
“Yes or no?”
Lang Po immediately nodded. “Miss Ruan went missing yesterday night.”
‘As I expected!’
“His Highness sent me to notify you of it.”
“Quickly dispatch people to Mei Xiang’er’s house. Miss Ruan should be inside.”
“How did you know, Teacher Ji?”
“Stop asking so many questions!”
Lang Po gawked. Despite not understanding the reasoning behind it, he still nodded and was just about to leave and go notify Jing Rong along with the capital governor.
However, Ji Yunshu grabbed him the next moment and urgently said, “I am going with you.”
“It’s better if you don’t go. The Prince said that…”
“I must go.” Ji Yunshu remained resolute.
Lang Po was hesitant, but he knew that it was useless to persuade her otherwise. Therefore, with no better options, he commanded the servants to prepare the carriage while sending others to inform Jing Rong.
When the carriage was ready, Ji Yunshu climbed on, followed by Jing Rong.
Jing Rong sent his order. “Set off!”
The carriage immediately departed.
Ji Yunshu looked at him with widened eyes as she noticed how bruised and riddled with injuries he was. She started to worry. “Your Highness’ injuries are not healed yet. You should…”
“Do think this Prince is a young lady? Am I not allowed to fall or get injured?”
“No buts! It seems that this case is like peeling the skin off an onion. The more you peel, the more layers there are. This case never stops catching people off guard.” Jing Rong frowned heavily. Then, he continued. “Lang Po told me that before he came to inform you about Miss Ruan’s disappearance, you were already rushing out. You were even able to guess that some accident occurred. Tell me, how did you discover it?”
Ji Yunshu nodded. “After my mind cleared up, I felt there was something fishy that I couldn’t explain. Do you remember what I said about the fragrance on the white cloth we found on Liang Mountain?”
“I do remember!”
“When I was outside of Mei Xiang’er’s hut, someone ambushed me from behind and covered my mouth. At that moment, I smelt that same fragrance. After I woke up, Mei Xiang’er was by my side. I thought that the scent came from her, but while she came close to me a few times, I could only smell it intermittently, which is quite odd.”
“The other person who died in the fire was Mei Xiang’er’s big brother. I once grabbed his hand and realize that his bones are very brittle. Furthermore, he has a grave illness affecting his bones. People who are affected like him have an inability to use a lot of strength. Since the victims of this case had their hands chopped off, it’s impossible for the brother to be the murderer. That’s why I thought that the murderer was Mei Xiang’er.”
“And? What are you getting at?”
She pondered for a moment then said, “When I was attacked, the back of my head was pressed against the other person’s chest. The odd thing was the height of that person which was a lot taller than me. However, Mei Xiang’er’s height is similar to mine, not to mention that fragrance… It made me suspect that the murderer is someone else. Unfortunately, Mei Xiang’er and her brother are already dead. I may just be overthinking, but after reading this message…” While she explained, she took out the note from her sleeve and gave it to Jing Rong.
Jing Rong surmised the problem. He took the note and looked at it. After reading it, his expression became the same as Ji Yunshu when she read the first time.
Shock, sympathy and even hatred were seen on his face. In an instant, Jing Rong’s and Ji Yunshu’s mood became heavy.
After half the time it took for a joss stick to burn, they finally arrived at the burnt hut. Due to the fire burning for several hours, the surroundings were in ruins. Everything was burnt into ashes and covered in soot.
The scent of burnt wood permeated the air, overwhelming people’s senses. Ji Yunshu discovered that the capital governor was waiting for them as she got off the carriage. Apart from him, Master Ruan and Madame Ruan were also present. Both of them were dressed in gorgeous clothing and covered with gold and silver which made them dazzling to the eyes. They were supporting each other with tears glistening on their faces.
Madame Ruan grabbed the governor and started to sob. “Milord! You must find my daughter! You absolutely cannot let something happen to her.”
Although the governor was not a hot-blooded man, he still felt helpless when he saw her cry in front of him. He sighed and tried to comfort her, “Don’t worry, this Official will certainly find Miss Ruan.”
“Didn’t you say that the murderer was already caught? Then, how did our daughter get kidnapped?” Madame Ruan abruptly started to berate the governor, a complete turnabout from her previous worried and weeping appearance.
“This…” The capital governor didn’t know how to reply.
The next moment, Madame Ruan targeted Ji Yunshu. She stepped forward, consumed by anger and worry, she shouted, “Aren’t you Teacher Ji? Didn’t you say that this case is already solved? Didn’t the murderer die? Why is it now like this? If something has happened to my daughter, how will you compensate for her?”
She was filled with a bellyful of anger.
Ji Yunshu didn’t say a word. Contrary to Madame Ruan, Master Ruan still retained his rationality, thus he pulled back Madame Ruan.
Jing Rong, who was next to Ji Yunshu, showed an obviously sour expression. This was his woman. She helped with the investigation and didn’t complain even after getting injured. Whereas those people were criticizing her. This really infuriated him.
With a frown, he was about to say something, but Ji Yunshu tugged at him. She shook her head and whispered, “Forget it!”
Jing Rong grunted, but he dropped the matter as per her wish.
At this moment, the governor approached them and greeted Ji Yunshu. “Teacher, how did you determine that Miss Ruan is here?”
Ji Yunshu gazed at the ruins and observed many messy footprints within it. The certainty in her mind grew stronger. The murderer had brought Miss Ruan here and hid her in the basement.
“Governor, order people to create a security perimeter. I don’t want anyone to follow me. I will go in there alone.”
While the governor was dumbstruck, Jing Rong stepped forward and barred her way. His expression was akin to an iceberg, yet his burning anger could be felt. He employed his princely tone and spoke in a commanding voice, “Ji Yunshu. This Prince orders that from now on, if I am not by your side, you are absolutely forbidden to act. Otherwise, I won’t let you off.” In other words, if she dared to put herself in danger, he will throw her on the nuptial bed and won’t let her off the hook.
Under Jing Rong’s cold and severe eyes, Ji Yunshu shrank back in fear and nodded.
Next, Jing Rong ordered everyone, “Wait outside, I will go inside with Teacher Ji.”
“Yes, your Highness!”
He held her slender wrist and together they walked into the ruined hut.
Meanwhile, within a dimmed room, a person draped in a cloak, with their face hidden under a hat, was standing beside an elevated wooden plank. A sharp butcher knife was held in his hand. Ruan Ya’er, the young miss of the Ruan family, was tied to the plank and because her mouth was stuffed with something, she could only struggle. Within her widened eyes, only endless despair was reflected.
Grenn’s Rants Corner
The final twist of this case. Will our heroes be able to arrive in time to save Miss Ruan or will she die like all those victims before her?