CR: Chapter 154

Thank you to anonymous for the donation for CR. Expect a small mass release


Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou returned to the carriage. Shao Qingge also had his servants continue to make the journey. The group stayed at a waystation that night before arriving in Jiangzhou the next morning.

Jiangzhou was located on the border of Daqi and Zhao State. Due to the harmonious relationship between Qi and Zhao in recent years, there was a constant flow of businessmen and the streets were bustling. It might not be as busy as the capital but it was very lively and peaceful. There were bright smiles on the faces of the people.

On the surface, this was a treasure-rich land but Yu Hanjiang knew that the situation in Jiangzhou was complicated, just like a calm sea. The undercurrent was surging and if he was slightly careless then as the prefectural magistrate, he might leave his head here.

Shao Qingge decided to settle down in the inn and Yu Hanjiang whispered to him, “You be careful at the inn. In addition, it is best to replace your gorgeous clothes and not expose your wealth. There is no harm in being low-key.”

“I know.” Shao Qingge came to the carriage and joked, “I’m going. Madam, take care.”

He deliberately accentuated the word ‘Madam.’

“…” Xiao Lou wanted to ignore him.

Shao Qingge stayed at the largest inn in Jiangzhou while Yu Hanjiang took Xiao Lou to Jiangzhou’s prefectural magistrate office.

The office had already received notice from the court and was waiting for the new prefectural magistrate to take office.

Yu Hanjiang walked into the office and took out the court’s appointment documents, handing them over to the responsible official. The official smiled. “Yu daren, you’ve just arrived here. If you are unfamiliar with anything, you can ask the master. He has lived in Jiangzhou for decades and he helped the previous prefectural magistrate. He knows the situation in Jiangzhou very well. If Daren wants to see him then I can ask him to come over.”

Yu Hanjiang nodded. “Okay, please have the old master come over. I will wait for him in the study.”

The residence of the prefectural magistrate was behind the office and it was a large courtyard. There were guest rooms and study rooms on the east side of the courtyard. The bedroom for the daren and his family members were on the north side. The living quarters for the people of lower status were on the west side and the kitchens were on the south side. The entire courtyard was very delicately laid out with fake rocks, trees and tree-lined paths. It was almost comparable to a small park.

Xiao Lou liked it here. Once he got home, he put his luggage in the bedroom.

Yu Hanjiang was waiting for the old master in the study. This ‘master’ should be the person who could provide key clues. Yu Hanjiang specifically invited the master to meet at home, which was convenient for speaking in private.

Once Xiao Lou organized his luggage, he asked Pingren, Yun Cang and Yao Ba to buy some daily necessities before walking around the yard. He saw a well-educated scholar walking to the study. This should be the master and Xiao Lou followed curiously.

Yu Hanjiang opened the door of the study. After seeing him, the master entered the room and immediately saluted. “Daren!”

Facing these eyes, Yu Hanjiang wondered, “It was you…Master Mo?” Looking around, he lowered his voice. “Don’t worry, the servants have already been settled and there is no one else in this yard.”

Mo Xuemin laughed. “I heard that the new prefectural magistrate was surnamed Yu and I guessed it was Group Leader Yu.” He found Yu Hanjiang was alone and wondered, “Professor Xiao? He isn’t with you?”

Yu Hanjiang handed him a cup of tea. “Old Mo, sit down and talk first.”

Mo Xuemin sat down and picked up the cup, taking a mouthful of tea.

Just then, a gentle voice was heard from behind them. “Husband, has the master come?”

Yu Hanjiang, “…”

Mo Xuemin turned back, saw Xiao Lou dressed in women’s clothing and calling Yu Hanjiang ‘Husband’ and directly sprayed out his tea.

His eyes were about to fall off as he stared at Xiao Lou in disbelief. “This is…”

Yu Hanjiang calmly introduced them. “This is my wife, Xiao Lou.”

Xiao Lou stared into Old Mo’s round eyes and smiled. “Hello, Master.”

Mo Xuemin, “………”

Xiao Lou already understood after seeing Chief Shao laughing yesterday. Rather than letting his teammates make random guesses, it was better to take the initiative to admit that he and Yu Hanjiang were playing a ‘couple’. If the two of them acted indifferently then their teammates wouldn’t think too much.

In any case, the role playing was A of Hearts’ arrangement and he couldn’t do anything!

Seeing Xiao Lou smiling calmly, Old Mo quickly wiped his mouth and grinned. “This… cough cough, Professor Xiao’s clothing… cough cough cough, it looks very good.” He really didn’t know what to say.

Xiao Lou told him, “The keeper arranged this so it is convenient for me to work with Group Leader Yu. We are both from the capital and I have the identity of a coroner who can do autopsies.”

Mo Xuemin wondered, “Coroner… that’s ancient forensics right? It is quite in line with Professor Xiao’s profession! By the way, I was assigned the identity of a master and received a bunch of files.”

Xiao Lou walked over to sit beside Yu Hanjiang and asked Old Mo, “Have you found the location of the others?”

Mo Xuemin still wasn’t accustomed to seeing Xiao Lou’s clothing. He quickly looked away at Yu Hanjiang. “I searched for two days in Jiangzhou and only saw Long Sen at the prince’s manor. I haven’t found Xiao Qu, Xiao Ye, Liu Qiao or Chief Shao.”

Yu Hanjiang told him, “Shao Qingge is a rich businessman from Qing City. We met him yesterday and he also came with us to Jiangzhou. He is currently staying at Fu’an Inn.

Old Mo sighed. “It seems he is still rich even in ancient times!”

Xiao Lou asked curiously, “What are those files?”

Mo Xuemin replied, “It is the record of cases in Jiangzhou in recent years. I carefully scanned through them yesterday. Most of them are short cases among parents. However, since three years ago, three young women have disappeared. The whereabouts of these women are unknown and it has become a pending case. I don’t know if this has anything to do with the case.”

Yu Hanjiang nodded and said, “What about the prince’s manor. How much do you know?”

Mo Xuemin cleared his throat. “The Eighth Prince living in the Zhenjiang prince’s mansion is the eighth uncle of the current emperor. This idle prince ignores the affairs of the court and is very fond of beauty. He married four ladies, all of whom were as beautiful as a flower. He has a son and four daughters. At present, all four daughters live in the prince’s manor and aren’t married.”

He paused before continuing, “The prince will hold a 45th birthday banquet in a few days. Everyone in Jiangzhou knows about this matter. In addition, Long Sen is serving as a guard in the prince’s mansion. My guess is that the case is likely to happen at the prince’s mansion.”

Yu Hanjiang nodded. “You guessed it right. The emperor had me go to meet the Eighth Prince while Chief Shao also received a task to participate in the Eighth Prince’s banquet. There will certainly be an accident at his birthday banquet and we have to find out the situation of the prince’s mansion ahead of time.”

Four wives, a son and four daughters, such a complex family relationship was likely to cause a family drama. The ancient household fights were also quite complicated.

Yu Hanjiang requested, “Tell me what you know of the four ladies and the four daughters.”

Obviously, Old Mo was arranged as the ‘information guide’ for the team and he could provide a lot of clues about Jiangzhou.

Mo Xuemin was very experienced. After changing to ancient clothes, he quickly adapted to his new identity. He spent two days in Jiangzhou and found out the general situation of the prince’s mansion. “Young Master Qi Fenghua and the eldest daughter Qi Yiyao were both born from Mrs Yun. Qi Fenghua is currently in the army, following General Zheng Xi to fight Yan State in the northwest. He hasn’t returned home for three years.”

“The eldest daughter is betrothed to Lin Shaobo, the young master of the richest Lin family. However, it is rumoured that the young master of the Lin family often goes in and out of brothels and has a close relationship with famous prostitutes. The marriage of the two people is set for next month. The Lin family attaches great importance to this marriage and have sent several boxes of gold alone.”

Yu Hanjiang took out a pen and paper and quickly drew the relationship chart.

Mo Xuemin continued, “The second young lady is called Qi Yian and she is the daughter of the genuine princess, the first wife. She was named ‘Princess Sukan’ by the emperor. The princess has passed away and Qi Yian is engaged to the second prince of the Zhao state. The Qi State and Zhao State have adopted a peaceful relations policy for many years and the emperor personally appointed  Princess Sukan to marry a neighbouring state. Everyone in Jiangzhou knows this and the wedding will be held at the end of the year.”

Xiao Lou touched his chin. “Have you seen this princess?”

“No, but listening to the rumours of the people, Princess Sukan is beautiful and dignified. She has read poems since childhood and is proficient in the four arts (zither, calligraphy, go and painting). She is a talented woman. As a child, she grew up with the emperor and has the best relationship with him. Thus, she is the most favoured by the palace.”

Yu Hanjiang frowned. “Are there any rumours about her mother, the princess and legitimate wife?”

Mo Xuemin shook his head. “Everyone says that the princess was in poor health. After three years of marriage with the prince, she hadn’t had any child. Thus, the king married Mrs Yun. Once Mrs Yun gave birth to the eldest son Qi Fenghua and the eldest daughter Qi Yiyao, the princess finally became pregnant. Unfortunately, she was too weak. She gave birth to her first daughter, Qi Yian and soon died of illness.”

Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou glanced at each other. Indeed, on the surface it sounded like the princess died from poor health. However, this Mrs Yun gave birth to two children and was still a concubine. Perhaps she wasn’t reconciled to this fact and killed the real princess.

Yu Hanjiang asked, “What is the situation with the other two wives?”

Mo Xuemin replied, “The prince loves beauty. After the death of the genuine princess, no one controlled him. He married two concubines in succession, Mrs Qing and Mrs Han. Mrs Qing gave birth to the third daughter, Qi Yiru. This girl is obstinate and headstrong. She likes wearing men’s clothing and has learned a lot of martial arts. She often rides a horse in the street and bumps into many people. At present, Mrs Han is the most favoured. The fourth young lady, Qi Yiwei was born from her. The fourth lady is the most low-key. She always covers her face with a veil when she goes out and no one has ever seen her face. It is said that she is studying medicine at a medicinal hut outside the city.”

There were too many names and the relationships were complex. Xiao Lou had a headache just listening.

In order to organize his memories, Yu Hanjiang quickly drew a relationship diagram of the prince’s mansion.

The eldest son Qi Fenghua was fighting against the Yan State on the northwest front. The eldest daughter Qi Yiyao was engaged to the young master of the Lin family. The sibling’s mother was the oldest concubine, Mrs Yun.

The second young lady was Qi Yian, Princess Sukan. She had a marriage contract with the second prince of the neighbouring state. Her mother was the princess and legitimate wife and had died.

Qi Yiru was a wayward lady who was good at martial arts. Her mother was Mrs Qing.

Qi Yiwei was low-key who loved being masked and knew medicine. Her mother was the prince’s favoured concubine, Mrs Han.

Xiao Lou looked at the relationship diagram organized by Group Leader Yu and thoughtfully touched his chin. “So it seems the three wives are now at an equal footing and the position of first imperial concubine is still empty?”

Mo Xuemin answered, “Yes, the prince is currently in good health and should be able to live for decades. In ancient times, people married early and the prince is now only in his 40s. These three wives certainly can’t avoid being jealous.”

Yu Hanjiang frowned at Xiao Lou. “Is this case a family fight?”

Xiao Lou nodded. “It is possible. The four girls are around the same age. In accordance with the inhouse fight routine, the four sisters are born from different mothers. The original princess has died and there must be some intrigue between the three wives. The relationship between the four sisters can’t be too harmonious.”

“When is the prince’s birthday banquet?” Yu Hanjiang looked up and asked Old Mo.

“It is the 15th of this month, which is three days later,” Mo Xuemin replied.

“Tomorrow, we will go to the prince’s mansion in person. I will visit the prince in accordance with the emperor’s instructions. However, I will also quietly meet with Long Sen. He is at the mansion as a guard and should have other clues.” Yu Hanjiang simply said.

“What about today?” Xiao Lou looked at him. “Do you want to change into casual clothes and explore the environment of Jiangzhou?”

“Yes, we can also look for our other teammates.”

Yu Hanjiang changed out of his official clothes, dressed in casual clothing and took his wife and the master to go shopping in Jiangzhou.

Everyone’s identity in the secret room was related to reality. Old Mo was also a team guide in reality. Yu Hanjiang speculated that Liu Qiao was likely to be a medicine processing child or a pharmacist. He went to the nearby medicine store and medical centre but no traces of her were found.

Xiao Lou suggested, “Xiao Liu might be in a foreign place, just like Chief Shao.”

Yu Hanjiang agreed. “For example, the apprentice of a famous doctor who might still be on the way of Jiangzhou. Otherwise, she wouldn’t be so quiet for two days.”

Mo Xuemin heard this and suddenly hesitated. “If everyone’s identity is related to reality then Teacher Qu is a dance teacher. She shouldn’t be a dancer in the Fragrant Sky House?

Xiao Lou looked at Old Mo in a puzzled manner. “The Fragrant Sky House… is it a brothel?”

Mo Xuemin coughed. “It isn’t a brothel. It is the largest singing and dancing house in Jiangzhou. There are many talented women and it is said that the dancers and singers here are selling art, not themselves. The sons of rich families often come here to have fun.”

Yu Hanjiang frowned. “We should go to see. Perhaps we can find Qu Wanyue.”

Before seeing them, Mo Xuemin hadn’t known that everyone’s identity corresponded to reality. He only saw Long Sen guarding the palace and hadn’t wanted to go to a place like the Fragrant Sky House.

It was only when he heard Yu Hanjiang’s words that he realized. He told them, “The Fragrant Sky House is only open after dark. We will go after dinner.”

***

At most, most of Jiangzhou’s urban areas were plunged into darkness while a street to the east of the city was lit up.

This street was full of lanterns in various shapes and there was a constant stream of guests. The lively nightlife of the ancients had just begun.

At the end of the street was a three-storey building with the sign ‘Fragrant Sky House’. This was the liveliest place on the whole street. The doors were open and countless guests rushed into the Fragrant Sky House.

Yu Hanjiang’s group of three also followed the crowd.

The three people entered the room and sat down when Xiao Lou found a familiar figure sitting next to him. The person had a pair of peach blossom eyes and was holding a folding fan, posing as a ‘playboy.’

Yu Hanjiang also saw him and whispered, “Chief Shao has really good interests. You actually came here?”

Shao Qingge sat up cheekily and smiled. “My servant told me that there will be a famous dance performance tonight at the Fragrant Sky House. My identity is a playboy who often goes in and out of brothels. Of course, I must come see such excitement.”

Xiao Lou could only admire him for being so grandiose about his ‘lechery.’

Shao Qingge and Old Mo nodded and greeted each other. This was followed by Shao Qingge joking, “Yu daren, your family has a good wife yet you actually took your wife to visit a brothel to drink with female entertainers. Is this appropriate?”

Old Mo almost squirted out a mouthful of tea.

Xiao Lou looked at Shao Qingge and wanted to ignore him.

Just then, a middle-aged woman dressed in a dazzling red came forward and spoke with a smile, “Welcome everyone to the Fragrant Sky House. Next, our first card, Miss Ye will play a song for everyone!”

There was warm applause as a thin woman wearing a goose-yellow dress and holding a pipa slowly appeared on stage. Her eyes were clear and dynamic, her long hair scattered behind her like ink and the light shining on her lined a beautiful face.

Shao Qingge was originally drinking tea but the moment he met those eyes, he sprayed the tea directly on the table.

Xiao Lou, “…”

Yu Hanjiang, “………”

Mo Xuemin looked embarrassed. “T-This first girl looks like Ye Qi!”

Shao Qingge was choking on the tea and coughing desperately. Even so, he covered his face with the fan and was laughing non-stop. “Haha, cough cough… Miss Ye, the Fragrant Sky House’s first card, hahaha…”

Xiao Lou felt helpless while Yu Hanjiang was serious.

On the stage, Ye Qi glanced at them, his expression lifeless.

2 Comments

  1. not A of hearts just casually exposing all the bottoms in this room? 🤣🤣🤣 ahem not that crossdressing is limited to shous only/not implying that anyone is a bottom here coughs #equality

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