A needle?! Who could it be? Translator: Jimminix, Editor: Aruthea
Jing Rong also saw this, “This is most likely what killed him.”
Ji Yunshu nodded in affirmation and pulled the needle out. There were traces of blood on the needle, “Do you have a small box?”
“I do.” The response from Jing Rong was almost instantaneous.
Lang Po knew his master well. He produced a small box the moment Jing Rong made his reply and handed it to Ji Yunshu so that the needle could be stored.
“The needle is indeed Idiot Si’s cause of death.” said Ji Yunshu as she stood up, “It was inserted into Idiot Si’s skull, causing him to bleed from his orifices.” The crowd was terrified and shivered all over when they heard that. They could almost feel the chill of their own skull being torn open and exposed.
“Could the killer be… One of us?” a voice exclaimed. Fear washed over the villagers. Some of the more timid ones huddled together in a corner, while even the more courageous among them were looking at Ji Yunshu with mouths agape. Fear had gripped their hearts.
“If the killer is indeed among us, why are we still here? Shouldn’t we run away?” Some of the villagers blurted out, ready to leave the ancestral hall and run for their lives.
But Jing Rong gave his retainers a look, and two of his guards immediately moved to block the entrance.
“Nobody is allowed to leave, especially when the killer is amongst us,” said Jing Rong.
“But Your Highness,” said the village chief, “What if the culprit strikes again?”
“This is why I want all of you to stay. So that we can find out who did it and arrest him.’
“But… Who could be the killer?”
Jing Rong did not have an answer for that question. He glanced at Ji Yunshu with an inquisitive look, and saw her staring at the needle with a frown on her face as she pondered the possibilites.
“It must be Zhang Shoucai!” shouted a voice, and the crowd immediately looked towards that young man.
“He threatened to kill Idiot Si and feed him to the pigs when he threw rocks at his house! It must be him!”
“N-no… It’s not me! I didn’t not kill him! I only said it in a moment of impulse! Why would I kill him?” I’m innocent of that accusation! Panic was written on his face as sweat dripped down his forehead.
“You were sitting beside me just now! But when the lights were blown out, you were no longer there when I tried to grab you! I wonder where you went…” another person accused.
“I was scared and hid under the table! Trust me! What I said is real!”
“I think you’re the killer!”
The villagers backed away from Zhang Shoucai. He had been scared when he saw the dead body but now, fear had completely gripped his heart. If they really took him to be the murderer, he would be thrown into jail and lose his life. What should he do?
Just as all the metaphorical arrows were pointing at him, Ji Yunshu spoke up. “He’s not the killer.”
Her words caused an uproar among the villagers. It’s not Zhang Shoucai? All eyes were now on Ji Yunshu as the crowd waited for her to continue her analysis.
“Idiot Si was alone at a corner before the lights went out, and he was found dead at that exact position as well. The crowd moved away from Idiot Si in the darkness, and I found no footprints around his corpse. This means that he was killed from a distance. Any one of us here could be the killer.”
“Then how are you so sure that Zhang Shoucai is not the killer?”
“I’m not done yet.” Ji Yunshu lifted the brocade box and continued, “In humans, the gaps between the cranial bones are not fully closed in infanthood, and are thus softer than the surrounding bone. As we grow older, the gaps will close and turn harder.
“The murder weapon is a silver needle, and not a sharp weapon like a knife. It is not that easy to puncture a young man’s cranium with a needle unless the killer applied a great force, or… has practiced martial arts before. And most importantly, it takes great skill to land the needle on Idiot Si’s cranium at a distance like this. This means that the killer is well versed in martial arts. However, this man named Zhang Shoucai appears weak and frail, unlike someone who knows martial arts. He resembles someone who has to drink medicine daily instead.”
Oh! So the killer is someone who knows martial arts. The villagers among the crowd looked at one another, while Zhang Shoucai let out a sigh of relief. He felt like he had just escaped certain death.
“But, Young Master,” the village chief immediately said, “The only people with that much strength in our village are not present, and none of us know martial arts. The killer is definitely not one of us. But…” he cast a meaningful look at the newcomers from the capital. They were the ones who knew martial arts.
Jing Rong was quick to react, “Chief, I can guarantee that my men will never do something like that.”
His words sent Jing Yi into a fit of anger. He slammed his fist on the table and asked in a venomous tone, “Are you implying that my men were the ones who did it?”
“That, I do not know. I can only guarantee the innocence of my own men.” replied Jing Rong.
“I can’t believe you actually said that.” Jing Yi sneered at him and pointed at each of Jing Rong’s men, “You guarantee that your men are not the killer, and I can do the same for my men. However, all of your men seem highly suspicious to me. And you’re included too.” he jabbed his finger hard at Jing Rong’s chest.
Jing Rong immediately grabbed hold of Jing Yi’s hand and flung it aside unceremoniously. “Jing Yi, if your men are innocent, they won’t be guilty just because of my words. But if one of them is indeed the killer, I give you my word that the Supreme Court has a jail cell with their names on it.”
“You…” Thus began a confrontation between the two princes, where neither was willing to back down.
The Capital Magistrate immediately inched forward to play the role of mediator between the two pieces, “Calm yourselves, Your Highnesses…” despite his calm appearance, his heart was filled with fear and worry that the princes would redirect their anger towards him, “There’s no need to make a fuss over this. The Supreme Court will take care of this case.”
Jing Rong and Jing Yi both agreed to back down, as they knew that their argument was leading nowhere.
“Teacher Ji,” the Capital Magistrate walked up to Ji Yunshu, “Please continue your investigation on the Dried Well Case. The Supreme Court will take over from here. What do you think?”
Ji Yunshu nodded.
“But before that. Teacher, there is something I don’t understand,” the Capital Magistrate asked.