Bone Painting Coroner Chapter 360: 50-50
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Jiu’er was Zhaoi Huai’s and Zhao Qing’s weak spot, a thorn firmly inserted inside their hearts. After Jiu’er’s death, Zhao Qing never mentioned that person again.
At present, faced with Ji Yunshu’s question, his heart remained unwilling to bring up that painful subject. His expression sank as many thoughts flitted through his mind.
His hesitation was seen through by her. She waited for him while fiddling with the dried straw and sweeping the damp ground around her. “If Second Master doesn’t want to talk, forget about it. I don’t wish to pry further. Some matters when kept too long in one’s heart are hard to talk about.”
“Why wouldn’t I understand?” A mocking smile showed on her face. She tilted her head and lowered her gaze, focusing on the layer of mist that had yet to reach the ground. It made it sound like it wasn’t important. Yet, the pressure behind her words made him unable to breathe.
She went on. “Everyone has something they wish to keep secret. Things that you want to say and things that you can’t say, if everything was kept inside to fester, it would slowly eat you away. Those secrets are like knives. Each time you keep one, it cuts you once. The more you keep it, the more injured your heart gets, until it becomes as painful as death.”
How lamentable! How could she not understand when her heart bore so many secrets? The Imperial Duke’s heir, the tiger tally which could order an army great enough to overturn the current Emperor’s reign, and the true cause of Kong Yu’s suicide… She was drained, exhausted from holding on to those secrets.
Swayed by her philosophical speech, Zhao Qing contemplated a moment. His eyebrows knitted together into a frown. The words he had mulled over rolled out of his lips slowly. “My brother and I grew up with Jiu’er. She was brought back by my father when she was very young. After that, we grew up together on this stronghold, not a second apart. We treated her like she was our real little sister. However, once we were older, I found myself falling for her. Unfortunately, it was only one sided since the one she loved was my brother Zhao Huai. I don’t know if fate was playing with us, but Zhao Huai only treated her as his little sister.”
“When my father was still alive, he had already decided to let Jiu’er marry Zhao Huai. A year ago, they got married. However, on that night, she died in the nuptial chamber, bathing in her own blood. Her heart had been pierced by a sword. Zhao Huai was with her. His hand held a sword dripping with her blood. He said he didn’t do it but refused to tell me what happened. I took her corpse away and never returned since.”
At this moment, he revealed his bewilderment and continued, “I know how Zhao Huai is. No one is clearer than me. He wouldn’t kill anyone for no reason, so he can’t have killed Jiu’er. However, he refused to explain, stubbornly saying he wasn’t the murderer. All the evidence pointed to him, yet he remained silent. How can I convince myself otherwise when I have seen it with my own eyes?” He became emotional the more he spoke.
Ji Yunshu pondered on his words, then asked, “At that time, there were only you two in the room?”
Zhao Qing shook his head. “I don’t know. When I entered the room, I only saw my brother.”
She continued to question him, “Did you cremate her body or bury it?”
“I buried her.”
“The corpse is preserved.”
“Can you help me find the cause of Jiu’er’s death?”
50-50? Zhao Qing failed to understand her. “What do you mean by that?”
She didn’t play dumb and simply stated, “This humble one is not omnipotent. I will help the best I can. In this world, there are still many unresolved cases and misjudged ones, and I am not infallible.”
Was she a machine that could determine the problems of a case and pinpoint it with ease?
Zhao Qing was an uneducated man, but he had picked up on Teacher Ji’s fame and his intelligence was such that no unresolved case was a challenge. If Teacher Ji could investigate the Lin Capital case which dated back to 14 years ago, then he was assuredly omnipotent despite saying otherwise.
“Since you say you have a 50-50 chance of solving this case, how can you be certain of the owner of the remains in the urn? And how can you find out who the murderer is?”
She mumbled a moment before looking at him.
“I won’t keep it from you. Without the head, I can’t accurately determine the identity of the skeleton. If you want a definite result, you would need advanced technology and high-end machines which aren’t available here. With just my hands and my eyes, I can only do my best.”
“I’ve never seen a braggart quite like you, daring to make such ridiculous statements.”
Despite her back injuries tormenting her, she continued to endure, even showing a playful smile at him despite tremors coursing through her body. “You’re wrong. I am afraid of death.” Her tone came out smooth and unhindered.
Zhao Qing scowled as he observed her.
Ji Yunshu explained herself, “If I don’t talk like this, the First Master would have already killed me.”
“Are you trying to stall for time until Prince Rong rescues you?”
She denied. “Milord killed so many underlings of the First Master. Although he was forced to do so, those were still human lives lost. If Milord saves me, he will certainly bring the people from the yamen with him. At that point, wouldn’t this place turn into a bloodbath? Revenge breeds revenge, when will this cycle ever end?”
“How do you plan to avoid the bloodshed?”
“As long as the First Master agrees to my condition and waits until I find out the truth about the skeleton in the urn, the matter will be settled.”
“Didn’t you just say that without the head it cannot be investigated?”
Zhao Qing became confused.
Ji Yunshu corrected him. “When did I say I cannot investigate? I only said it was difficult but not impossible.”
“Most bones in a human body are connected. No matter the shape of the femur or the size of the scapula, they are still part of the 206 bones forming the human skeleton. Even without the head, the size of the hip bone can give away the gender. The cervical vertebrae can help determined the size of the head and also help to estimate the height of the person since the head is supported by the cervical vertebrae. However, that could only be possible if the deceased has normal body proportions.”
206 bones? Hip bone? Scapula? What are those things?
Zhao Qing was sent into a spiral of confusion. Although the scientific terms Ji Yunshu used eluded him, he was still able to understand roughly her explanations. “Good. Since you can figure it out, I will do everything in my power to assist you; even if you want me to sell all my vases I won’t wince. I will make Zhao Huai agree to your condition definitively, so you must promise me that after solving your current case, you will find out the truth behind Jiu’er’s death.”
A straightforward negotiation which ended well between someone who wished to get out of there alive and someone obsessed with the truth behind the death of his loved one. Both of them benefitted from this deal.
At that moment, Zhao Qing took out a bottle of medicine and tossed it over. The bottle landed on a pile of straw and rolled to Ji Yunshu.
“Hurry and apply it to your injuries. This will help alleviate the pain. If you are to die, where can I find someone else to help me? Right now, I can’t go out and bring back the doctor since Zhao Huai’s underlings are keeping a close eye on you. This medicine will be helpful in the meantime.”
Ji Yunshu picked the bottle and pulled out the cork before looking inside. The medicinal scent filled her nose immediately. “Is this white oriole ointment?”
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