After reading the letter, Xiao Lou had mixed feelings.
His first impression was indeed right. The eldest young lady was indeed indifferent to the world. She had seen through the world and decided to become a monk, so she was indifferent to Young Master Lin’s affairs in the brothels and her father’s birthday banquet.
This afternoon, she was in the Buddhist temple knocking on wooden fish and reading scriptures. Presumably in her opinion, accompanying Buddha for the rest of her life was her best destination. It was a pity that she didn’t get what she wanted. She intended to fulfill the wishes of others but the others didn’t necessarily have a kind heart.
Yu Hanjiang read the letter and frowned. “Ninth Princess, what is the relationship between you and Miss Yiyao?”
The Ninth Princess replied, “I’m her aunt from a generational point of view but I’m only four years older than her. She has been ill since she was young and became sick again after being taken home at the age of 10. My royal brother sent her to the captain to get treatment for a period of time. In that year, she lived with me so she was more familiar with me. However, this was the first time she wrote to me.”
The princess paused before adding, “I hurried to Jiangzhou this time because of this.” Then she couldn’t help moving her gaze away.
Yu Hanjiang had interrogated countless prisoners and naturally saw that her expression was abnormal. This princess not only acted badly but she was also bad at disguising herself as a man. It was obvious she was a family and she couldn’t compare to Qu Wanyue in men’s clothing at all.
Yu Hanjiang then asked, “You came to the prince’s mansion. Did you meet the eldest young lady?”
The Ninth Princess shook her head. “No, I went directly to the side hall and waited for dinner to begin. I didn’t expect that Yiyao would be murdered.” She frowned. “It must be the fourth young lady! She and Lin Shaobo’s private relationship was revealed so maybe she wanted to kill Ah Yao to destroy her mouth!”
Seeing the princess become emotional, Yu Hanjiang immediately interrupted her. “There is no direct evidence that shows the fourth young lady is the murderer. Please return first. I will definitely investigate this case.”
The Ninth Princess spoke earnestly. “You must catch the murderer. You must not let Ah Yao die in vain!”
Yu Hanjiang replied, “Rest assured.”
The Ninth Princess was turning to leave when Yu Hanjiang suddenly said, “The maid next to the princess, please stay. I have some things to ask you.”
The Ninth Princess was puzzled. “Why do you want to question her? Didn’t I give you the letter? Can I still lie?”
Yu Hanjiang just told her lightly, “Questioning the maids and guards is a necessary step to investigate this case. I must ask you to cooperate.”
The Ninth Princess nodded before whispering in Qu Wanyue’s ear, “You must not say it.”
Qu Wanyue smiled. “Princess, rest assured, I won’t say it.”
The Ninth Princess left confidently.
Long Sen closed the door, looked at his wife in men’s clothing with a complicated expression and whispered, “You look so handsome in men’s clothing.”
Qu Wanyue smiled at him and hoked, “Then I should dress as a man for our wedding. How about I wear a suit as well?”
Long Sen touched his nose. “No need….”
Qu Wanyue walked in front of Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou and told them, “Group Leader Yu, the Ninth Princess is lying.”
Yu Hanjiang nodded. “I can see. The reason she came to Jiangzhou this time isn’t just about the eldest young lady’s matter?”
Qu Wanyue told them, “She hurriedly fled the capital because the emperor wants to betroth her.”
Xiao Lou was interested. “Oh? What exactly is the situation?”
Qu Wanyue explained in detail. “The Ninth Princess is the daughter of the late emperor. The late emperor got a daughter when he was old and was extremely fond of her, allowed her to develop this arrogant and overbearing personality. Group Leader Yu, you should know this since the late emperor wanted to betroth her to you. Later, the late emperor died and the new emperor ascended the throne. Now His Majesty has a headache regarding his young aunt and wants to marry her out early. This time, he found a general for us. The Ninth Princess heard the news in advance. Before His Majesty could speak to her, she took me and ran.”
Yu Hanjiang said, “So she fled to Jiangzhou to escape the marriage?”
Qu Wanyue nodded. “This way, she can also deal with the eldest young lady’s matter.”
Xiao Lou pondered on it for a moment. “Teacher Qu, did you get any clues from the princess’ palace?”
“The princess tells me the palace gossip every day. It is said that the late emperor’s favourite imperial consort was poisoned by an imperial concubine. Later, Imperial Concubine Ming killed her. The women in the harem fought and fought. Once the late emperor died, there was an imperial edict to bury them together with him and the battle was finally over. The Ninth Princess said that in her next life, she didn’t want to be born into the royal family. She is more willing to be a free folk woman who can choose her own husband.”
Xiao Lou listened to Qu Wanyue’s words and his opinion of the Ninth Princess slightly improved. She didn’t have any feelings for Yu Hanjiang at all. However, Yu Hanjiang declined when the first emperor suggested marriage and she couldn’t let it go because of her pride.
The letter brought by the Ninth Princess and Qu Wanyue pointed directly at the fourth young lady and Lin Shaobo. Yu Hanjiang carefully analyzed it before calling the next people of the prince’s mansion over to ask questions.
The maids, the servants and the chefs, none of them were left out. Yu Hanjiang asked in detail and XIao Lou recording to the side was also very detailed. Yu daren tacitly cooperated with his wife to investigate the cause, causing the people in the palace to have wide eyes. After going out, they would talk.
“I have never seen a woman handle a case with her husband!”
“This Mrs Yu isn’t easy. She can even do autopsies!”
“She isn’t afraid of corpses at all. She is a strange woman. No wonder why Yu daren spoils her so much.”
Long Sen heard the people’s gossip and didn’t know if he should laugh or cry. Professor Xiao was a forensic doctor. What was a corpse to him? He wouldn’t even be afraid to set up a morgue.
Inside the room, Xiao Lou organized the transcripts for Yu Hanjiang to analyze. Two points were mentioned:
First, there was disharmony between Madam Qing, Madam Han and Madam Yun. Due to the vacancy in the position of imperial concubine, the three people fought openly and maneuvered covertly.
Madam Yun was the oldest one in the prince’s mansion and she had given birth to Qi Fenghua, the eldest young master and Qi Yiyao, the eldest young lady. She was the most likely candidate to become a princess. Madam Qing and Madam Han had always been dissatisfied. Madam Qing was quick to talk and had many conflicts with Mrs Yun in the backyard. Mrs Han also contended for the favour of the prince but she had been sick recently.
Secondly, the eldest young lady was taciturn and usually stayed in the Buddhist temple. She had no conflicts with anyone at the prince’s mansion.
It seemed that both Madam Qing and Madam Han had alibis. They might have a deep grudge with Madam Yu but they had no contradictions with the eldest young lady. If it was for the position of princess then they should’ve killed Madam Yun instead of the eldest young lady. These two wives could be ruled out so far.
The second, third and fourth young ladies hadn’t been questioned.
Yu Hanjiang first invited the second young lady over. Qi Yian, the daughter of a princess and the one the emperor personally appointed as Princess Sukan.
Out of the four girls, only she was worthy of the name ‘unmarried daughter of a noble house.’ The first time Xiao Lou saw her, he thought the girl had bright eyes, white teeth, a dignified appearance, a graceful bearing and a full aura. Marrying someone like her to the Zhou State could really support the situation.
Qi Yian was very polite to Yu Hanjiang. She said, “My marriage with the second prince of the Zhao State is set for the end of the year. Today is the birthday of my father. In order to show sincerity, the Zhou state sent an ambassador to my father. An official from the Ministry of Rites explained to me some of the customs I needed to pay attention to on the day of the wedding. I followed them to the inn that hosted them to study and returned home at the time of Xushi (between 7-9 pm).”
She paused before adding, “Once I returned home, I wrote a letter. Before I finished writing the letter, I heard a scream outside and my third sister came to tell me that something had happened to my older sister.”
Yu Hanjiang glanced at Long Sen. “Did a messenger from the Zhao state come today?”
Long Sen nodded. “Yes, they gave a congratulatory gift to the prince in the afternoon but it wasn’t convenient for them to attend the banquet. The second young lady did follow them and went to the inn dedicated to receiving guests from the Zhao State.”
The second young lady was personally selected by the emperor to marry the Zhao state. The customs of Zhao were different from the Qi state and if she wanted to marry a Zhao person, she needed to pay attention to many details. She said that she didn’t return to the prince’s mansion until around xushi time. If she was the murderer then this time would be too late. Moreover, she and the eldest young lady had no grudges and she was going to marry the second prince of the Zhao state, becoming the principle wife. There was no motive for her to commit the crime.
Yu Hanjiang asked, “Do you usually have contact with the eldest young lady?”
Qi Yian smiled. “My sister often stays in the Buddhist temple to copy scriptures and I also don’t like to go out. I usually practice the guqin at Xiushui Pavilion so I barely see her a few times a month.”
Yu Hanjiang then asked, “What is the relationship between the eldest young lady and her sister, do you know?”
Qi Yian shook her head. “I don’t know. I don’t have much contact with my third and fourth sisters. My third sister is good at martial arts and carries a sword every day. She likes to run out of the prince’s mansion to play and she isn’t close to me. My fourth sister always covers her face with a white veil. Every time she sees me, she will only call me ‘Princess’ and is very polite to me.” She paused and said lightly, “ I don’t know the relationship between the three of them, nor am I interested in knowing.”
She was someone who was going to be sent to the Zhao state. In the future, she might not have an opportunity to return home. In addition, she and her sisters were born to different mothers so these sisters were nothing for her.
As the legitimate daughter, she just needed to manager herself. The smartest way was to not get involved in the feuds between the wives of the prince’s mansion. The second young lady didn’t say anything but the third young lady gave Yu Hanjiang a clue.
Qi Yiru said, “When I went to the toilet in the evening, I saw my fourth sister hurriedly passing by the rockery and heading in the direction of Hongmei Park. I asked her what was wrong and she kept avoiding my eyes. She said she wasn’t feeling well and wanted to go back to take medicine.”
Yu Hanjiang wondered, “Do you have a good relationship with the fourth young lady?”
Qi Yiru nodded. “Yes, my eldest sister hides in the Buddhist temple every day knocking on wooden fish while my second sister sits in Xiushui Pavilion and plays the guqin. I don’t talk to them and usually like to practice martial arts. My fourth sister knows medicine so I’ll go see her and she will help bandage my wounds.”
She added with a laugh. “The killer can’t be my fourth sister! She is usually soft and weak, How can she have the courage to kill someone? I think she might’ve seen the murderer which is why she fled from the rockery!”
Yu Hanjiang called the key suspect, Qi Yiwei over. Her face was still covered with a white veil. She was timid and didn’t dare to look at them.
Yu Hanjiang directly questioned her. “The fourth young lady, did your eldest sister know about the private relationship between you and Young Master Lin?”
Qi Yiwei, “……”
Xiao Lou glanced at Group Leader Yu rather helplessly. This straight ball habit hadn’t changed. The fourth young lady hadn’t expected the other person to ask such a question and she was frightened, her entire body shaking.
There was a layer of sweat on her forehead and her fingers were clenched tightly by her side. She exclaimed “I-I don’t know what you’re talking about. Please don’t defile a woman’s innocence.”
Yu Hanjiang simply handed her the letter from the Ninth Princess. “The fourth young lady, please look at this.”
Qi Yiwei stared with eyes. After seeing the passing about ‘I want to fulfill their wish and will become a monk’, her eyes immediately reddened.
She covered her face and cried while speaking intermittently, “Sister… she wanted to help us… I’m sorry for her… wuu… I’m sorry for my sister…”
Seeing that she couldn’t stop crying, Xiao Lou asked her, “Why do you cover your face with a white veil?”
Qi Yiwei was silent for a long time before gently removing the veil.
The right side of her face was very beautiful and refined, with fair and smooth skin. She was definitely a big beauty. However, there was a thumb-shaped birthmark on the left cheek that ruined her appearance. It was like a crystal clear piece of jade had a crack, making people feel regret.
Qi Yiwei trembled as she put the veil back on. “I was born like this and I didn’t want to be talked about, so I covered my face with a white veil. In fact, Young Master Lin and I haven’t been intimate. We have known each other before he was betrothed to my sister…”
Xiao Lou wrote down this key note and said, “You and Young Master Lin have long had a mutual commitment?
Qi Yiwei nodded. “A year ago, on the mountain outside Ji City, Young Master Lin accidentally broke his leg. I was passing by and saved me. He saw my face and didn’t mind it. He said he wanted to marry me… he treated me with sincerity and I was very fond of him. We… often used excuses to go outside the city and meet in private.”
“A few months later, the Lin family carried a bridal dowry to talk about a match. I was happy in my heart because I thought he was going to propose to me. As I result, I learned that his marriage was actually to my older sister!”
Having said this, Qi Yiwei’s nails couldn’t help piercing her palm deeply. Her shock and grievance at the time were beyond words.
Yu Hanjiang spoke coldly. “After the marriage contract, you didn’t dare oppose your parents so you continued meeting privately. Today you secretly met in the backyard. Did you happen to encounter the eldest young lady?”
Qi Yiwei’s body trembled slightly and she didn’t reply, apparently confirming Yu Hanjiang’s words. Yu Hanjiang’s sharp eyes swept over the piece of jade hanging from her waist. “That jade, was it given by Young Master Lin?”
Qi Yiwei hadn’t expected him to mention even this matter and she froze, her face instantly becoming extremely pale.
Yu Hanjiang spoke lightly. “Say it, how did you and Young Master Lin conspire to kill the eldest young lady?”
Qi Yiwei’s eyes widened and she hurriedly shook his head. “It wasn’t me… I didn’t kill my oldest sister! After seeing her, I hurried away. I really don’t know what happened to her!”
Yu Hanjiang asked, “You fled in a hurry, what about Young Master Lin?”
“Young Master Lin?” Qi Yiwei suddenly froze. She had definitely fled back to Hongmei Park at the time. On the way, she bumped into her third sister and excused herself, saying she was going to take medicine. She didn’t know where Young Master Lin had gone.
Yu Hanjiang asked Long Sen, “Has Young Master Lin been found?”
Long Sen shook his head. “I asked all the guards and there are no traces of Young Master Lin in the courtyard of the prince’s mansion. No guests saw him go out the front door, but at the back door, some of the tiles on the wall are broken. He probably climbed the wall of the back door and slipped out.”
Yu Hanjiang’s voice was cold. “Immediately arrest Lin Shaobo!”