By the time they came out of the cell, the guard outside had already hit the gong and it was more than two o’clock in the morning. Yu Hanjiang let everyone go back to rest and he and Xiao Lou also returned to their rooms.
They finally came home after a tiring day. The maid Pinger had been waiting for them and brought over two pots of hot water. The two men washed and before going to sleep, Xiao Lou grabbed the topical ointment Liu Qiao had prepared. Then he had Yu Hanjiang take off his coat to apply the medicine to the wound on his back.
Although the toxin in the wound had been completely eliminated, grisly and terrible scars traversed the man’s sturdy spine. Xiao Lou saw it and once again felt distressed.
He used his fingertips to gently rub medicine on the scars and softly asked, “Does it still hurt?”
The hot wound was coated with a cold ointment, making it extremely comfortable. Moreover, Xiao Lou’s fingers were slender and soft. He caressed Yu Hanjiang’s back with the medicine and Yu Hanjiang felt extremely relaxed. Even if the wounds were painful, his heart was very warm.
He whispered, “No pain. It is hard on you, Madam.”
Xiao Lou’s face was slightly red. “There are no outsiders here. You don’t need to call me that.”
Yu Hanjiang told him seriously, “It will be hard to explain if it is heard by Pinger.”
Xiao Lou didn’t weigh on these details. He helped change the bandage on the wound and the two of them fell asleep together.
The day before, Yu Hanjiang had realized he liked Xiao Lou so he wasn’t very comfortable sleeping in the same bed with Xiao Lou. He still kept the ‘statue’ position and didn’t dare to move, fearing he might accidentally touch Xiao Lou.
XIao Lou saw him lying on his back to sleep and immediately said, “Your back is hurt. Don’t lie flat while sleeping. Putting pressure on the wound isn’t good for healing.”
Yu Hanjiang was obedient and turned sideways, facing Xiao Lou.
Xiao Lou detected the other person’s gaze on his face. It was quiet at night and this person was watching him from such a close distance. Xiao Lou’s heart was beating quickly and he had to talk about the case to divert his attention. “You just said that the murderer isn’t certain. Do you think that Lin Shaobo isn’t the murderer?”
Yu Hanjiang explained, “If it was him then this case would be too simple. Liu Qiao witnessed the date between the fourth young lady and Lin Shaobo. The letter from the eldest young lady to the Ninth Princess also mentioned the personal affair of the two people. In addition, the fourth young lady personally confirmed that the two of them encountered her oldest sister. Lin Shaobo had the movie to kill and the time to commit the crimes. The clues are very clear but when you think about it carefully, there are many things that aren’t right.”
Xiao Lou listened carefully. “What’s wrong?”
Yu Hanjiang whispered his analysis, “First of all, where did Lin Shaobo get the poison from? We searched the room of the fourth young lady and none of the medicine that Liu Qiao said would lead to poisoning had been touched. This proves that the poison wasn’t provided by the fourth young lady. If the fourth young lady and Lin Shaobo had joined forces to commit the crime, it must be premeditated and the poison was planned in advance. However, if that was the case, they wouldn’t have met today to arouse suspicion.”
Xiao Lou nodded in agreement. “I also think that the source of the poison isn’t from the fourth young lady or Young Master Lin. So the two people who seem to have the most suspicion actually don’t have the tool to commit the crime. We also haven’t found the source of the poison. The maid said that the eldest young lady never ate in the house so I suspect she was poisoned face to face in the yard.”
Yu Hanjiang continued, “Yes, you examined the body and there were no signs of a struggle when she died. Obviously, she didn’t resist when she ate the poisonous food. This means the person should be someone familiar with the eldest young lady or else she wouldn’t eat what they gave them.”
Yu Hanjiang paused before adding, “In addition, we encountered assassins after coming to Jiangzhou and there was an assassin at the prince’s birthday banquet. I think the assassin organization isn’t interference but has a direct relationship with the case.”
Thinking about it, the map from the study showed there were four countries in the world: the Qi, Chu, Yan and Zhao states. If it was just a simple household murder, wouldn’t it be enough if there was only the Qi state?
Such a complex background definitely wasn’t just for decoration.
Xiao Lou’s eyes suddenly lit up. “Perhaps the eldest young lady’s death has nothing to do with love. Maybe she accidentally witnessed something in the palace that shouldn’t be known and was killed?”
Yu Hanjiang nodded. “It is likely.”
He suddenly wondered, “Do you remember a detail mentioned by Qu Wanyue? The Ninth Princess is the youngest child of the late emperor. When the Ninth Princess saw the Eight Prince last night, she called him brother?”
Xiao Lou thought carefully and immediately responded. “Yes, the emperor calls him uncle and the Ninth Princess calls him royal brother. This means that the emperor is the nephew of the Ninth Princess and the Ninth Princess is the youngest child of the late emperor. So in fact, the relationship between the emperor and the late emperor isn’t father and son, but a grandson?”
Yu Hanjiang used this point to speculate that things weren’t simple.
In the world of the secret rooms, many times clear clues were likely to be interference and some details that were easily overlooked might actually be the real clues. The harem battle that the Ninth Princess told Qu Wanyue about, the question of the Ninth Princess’ seniority and the relationship between the Eighth Prince, the late emperor and the current emperor might be indicative of something.
The throne was generally passed onto the son yet the late emperor passed it to his grandson instead of the Eighth Prince.
Yu Hanjiang had seen the emperor. The man on the dragon chair was very young and was around 20 years old. The Eighth Prince was over 40 years old. Even if the Eighth Prince ignored politics and wasn’t emperor material, shouldn’t the late emperor have other sons?
The princess was ranked ninth, indicating that there were seven royal sons before the Eighth Prince.
Thinking of these things, Xiao Lou suddenly said, “Historically, there was a coup in the Ming Dynasty. Zhu Yuanzhang’s fourth son, Zhu Di overthrew his nephew Zhu Yunwen. Zhu Yuanzhang initially set up his eldest son Zhu Baio as crown prince. Unfortunately, the crown prince died early so he asked his grandson Zhu Yunwen to inherit the throne. His son Zhu Di wasn’t satisfied and after Zhu Yunwen came to power, he initiated a rebellion. He became the emperor himself and was known as the Yongle Emperor.”
Hearing Xiao Lou’s words, something flashed in Yu Hanjiang’s heart.
The Ming Dynasty’s rebellion was very famous in history. Zhu Yuanzhang skipped his son and established his grandson as the heir. Zhu Di usurped the throne and finally took the power of the Ming Dynasty. Zhu Yunwen’s whereabouts were unknown and it became a pending case in history.
Yu Hanjiang frowned. “Zhu Yuanzhang also skipped the other princes at that time and directly established his grandson as heir, which is somewhat similar to the current situation of the Qi state. The current emperor is so young and the Eighth Prince’s heart is extremely deep. What if he wants to initiate a rebellion and unite with the Zhao state? He was conspiring with the Zhao state’s emissary when he encountered his oldest daughter and directly killed her to shut her mouth?”
If this speculation was true then it was possible to connect many clues.
The Zhao state’s envoys happened to come here today. The second young lady said that the prince of Zhao wanted to give a gift to his future father-in-law and sent someone to exchange details of the wedding. Long Sen said that the envoys of the Zhao state had entered the palace but left without attending the dinner.
If the messenger of the Zhao state entered the palace in the afternoon and was conspiring with the prince when they were caught by the eldest young lady out for a walk, it was possible that the prince killed his daughter.
Moreover, the Eighth Prince’s attitude was a bit strange today. He took the initiative to ask Yu Hanjiang to investigate and was very cooperative.
Perhaps the assassins who attempted to assassinate Yu Hanjiang were sent by him while the assassin at his birthday banquet was just acting. When the assassin suddenly flew at him, the prince wasn’t flustered at all and behaved too calmly… as if he had been expecting it.
His nephew had become the emperor. As the uncle, could he really be reconciled with it?
Yu Hanjiang remembered that during his conversation with the prince, the prince only cared about the emperor’s life and didn’t ask anything about the court. It seemed that he was an idle prince who didn’t like political affairs… but what if this was keeping a low profile?
Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou glanced at each other and felt that the possibility of the Eight Prince’s rebellion was much higher than it being about Lin Shaobo and Qi Yiwei’s personal affair.
The next day, Yu Hanjiang woke up and went directly to the bailiff. He had given an order last night that the suspect Lin Shaobo should be arrested. However, after one night, there was still no news about Lin Shaobo.
He went to the Lin family to investigate. Father Lin said that yesterday, he should’ve gone to the prince’s birthday banquet in person. As a result, he was unable to leave due to something in the family and he sent Lin Shaobo as a representative.
Father Lin wondered, “My son hasn’t returned home all night. I sent someone to the prince’s mansion to find him and they said he had left a long time ago. Now you are coming to ask me about his whereabouts. I don’t know where he went. What happened?”
Just then, Mrs Lin hurried over and whispered in his ear, “I went out today and heard the neighbours say that last night, the eldest young lady of the prince’s mansion hanged herself!”
Father Lin’s eyes widened. “What?”
Qi Yiyao’s suicide was known by all the guests present at that time. The news had spread fast and it was only a matter of time before the Lin family knew it. However, the rumours outside were all about her short-sightedness. At present, only Yu Hanjiang’s group and the people in the prince’s mansion knew about her murder. The prince had ordered it to be kept quiet and no one dared to talk about it.
Father Lin realized that the eldest young lady might’ve been stimulated by her son to hang herself and struck the table angrily. “Where is Shaobo? Go and find him immediately! That beast might’ve sneaked away to the brothel again. Find him for me. Search through all the brothels in Jiangzhou City and find him!”
Mrs Lin started back with trepidation. The Lin family made a commotion early in the morning.
Yu Hanjiang left the Lin mansion and his brow grew tighter.
He had also wondered if Lin Shaobo was hiding in a brothel so the government officials of the prefectural magistrate focused on searching the brothels all night. Besides the Fragrant Sky House, the Hundred Flowers House, the Sophisticated Pavilion and the Intoxicated Immortal House were also searched…
All the brothels in Jiangzhou were overturned by the officials and there were still no traces of Lin Shaobo.
He was a rich son and couldn’t use light footwork. Even if he escaped from the backyard of the prince’s mansion by going over the wall, it was impossible to disappear without a trace.
The foreboding in his heart grew stronger. Yu Hanjiang called Xiao Lou and they came to the door of the prince’s mansion.
The guard Long Sen saw them and let them go in.
The other guards didn’t feel surprised when they saw Yu daren taking his wife to investigate the case. Anyway, everyone had seen the situation where Yu daren and his wife worked together to handle the cast last night. A wife who could do an autopsy wasn’t easy.
Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou walked into the prince’s mansion and the Eighth Prince immediately greeted them.
So many things had happened at the banquet yesterday. The prince, who always looked elegant, now seemed a bit haggard. He asked in a hoarse voice. “Yu daren, what clues have you found about Yiyao’s murder?”
Yu Hanjiang spoke lightly, “The most suspicious thing about the death of the eldest young lady is her fiance Lin Shaobo. However, we have almost overturned all of Jiangzhou and not a single trace of Lin Shaobo’s shadow has been seen. This is why I have a bold guess. Lin Shaobo is still in the palace.”
The prince’s face showed disbelief. “The prince’s mansion? I had the guards search the mansion all of last night and we couldn’t see Young Master Lin.”
Yu Hanjiang thought carefully about the map of the prince’s mansion. The front yard couldn’t hide people but the backyard contained a rockery, trees and a lake. It was hard to find a hiding person at night, especially near the lotus pond by the rockery which was almost the size of a football field.
Yu Hanjiang suddenly ordered, “Go to the pond!”
The prince froze for a moment before quickly following Yu Hanjiang.
The moment they arrived at the pond, a scream came from not far away. “Ah—”
Yu Hanjiang moved quickly and saw two pale-faced maids, pointing at an object floating not far away in the pond. “A-A person is floating in the pond!”
“Yes, it looks like a corpse!”
The prince’s face changed. “Fetch it!”
Several guards came forward to salvage the body. A moment later, they hurriedly fished up the body and put it on the shore.
The body was already swollen from being in the pond all night. The facial features were twisted and the skin was dehydrated and wrinkled. The people around them were disgusted and wanted to vomit.
Xiao Lou looked calm as he squatted down beside the corpse to take a closer look. The body was of an adult man, wearing dark blue clothes. His messy hair was tied with a blue hairband and there was an emerald ring on his finger.
Yu Hanjiang took a deep breath and declared softly, “It is Lin Shaobo.”