Chapter 3 – The Matter That Was Encountered on the Way 

Forensic Traversing Notes
Serendipity
47 Chapters

Chapter 1 - Calling for Someone Chapter 2 - Prince Si Zhao Chapter 3 - The Matter That Was Encountered on the Way  Chapter 4 - Fake Injury Chapter 5 - Entering Marquis WenYuan’s Household Chapter 6 - Past Events Chapter 7 - The Past Chapter 8 - The Future Chapter 9 - First-Born Son Chapter 10 - Saving Someone From A False Death (Drowning) Chapter 11 - Brushing By Each Other Chapter 12 - Lu Family Chapter 13 - [Wang Fu Case] Strange Dream Chapter 14 - Beat the Drum and Appeal for Justice     Chapter 15 - Opening the Coffin to Examine the Corpse Chapter 16 - Death From Illness or Homicide?     Chapter 17 - Inverted, Suspended, and Submerged in a Val Chapter 18 - A Rather Baffling Person Chapter 19 - Tattoo Chapter 20 - Enrolled into School Chapter 21 - [LiangJun Case] Tadpole Noodles Chapter 22 - Zhuang Zhong Felt as if He Had Seen God Chapter 23 - Magnifying Glass Chapter 24 - Insane Chapter 25 - Flour Chapter 26 - There Is No Story Without Coincidences Chapter 27 - Obsession Chapter 28 - [The Case of the Missing Silvers] Chapter 29 - An Army of Thieves Chapter 30 - Brewing Chapter 31 - The Will of the People Chapter 32 - Extraordinary Ability Chapter 33 - [Xu Sheng Case] Doubtful Points Chapter 34 - Night Watchman Chapter 35 - Homicide Chapter 36 - Jade Pendant Chapter 37 - To Die For Love Chapter 38 - Feng Huan snickered, “I found you more beautiful than many other young ladies. You are indeed worthy of being the son of the descended immortal.” Chapter 39 - Yu ZiAn Chapter 40 - Divorce Chapter 41 - Dripping Blood to Test Paternity Chapter 42 - [Jin Jiang Case] Letting Out a Big Move So Enter Cautiously Chapter 43 - Heavenly Thunder Is Frightening and The Author Who Was Struck Would Not Be Helping Out With the Collection of Corpses... Chapter 44 - Drunk Chapter 45 - King ZhenNan Chapter 46 - Attitude Chapter 47 - Bringing Misfortune to One’s Fiancée

Editor: mako  

With such hot weather, business in the tea house could be considered pretty good. Upon finding a seat to the side, ZhouTong used a rag to wipe it clean before letting Zhuang Zhong take a seat. All the teacups and teapots used were also brought by himself personally. Besides, the food in the tea houses near the capital was also more abundant. In addition to the main course used for filling the stomach, there were also thirst-quenching sour plum soup and some common fruits.

ZhouTong laughed and said, “After taking a rest here, we will be able to go straight to the capital city. We will then arrive at the marquis’ house near Youshi1“酉时” (Youshi) means the time period from 5pm to 7pm. and join them for dinner.”

Zhuang Zhong nodded his head and could not help but feel uneasy about the unfamiliar environment he would be facing. Along the way, ZhouTong had roughly described to him the situation in the household. Despite not having many people living in Marquis WenYuan’s residence, there were still quite fierce disputes going on in the inner courtyards. Such a move from Madam Hou could be said to be similar to the act of calling back WuMei Niang2“武媚娘” (WuMei Niang) refers to 武则天 (Wu ZeTian), China’s only female emperor. from the temple when disputing with Consort Xiao Shu. It was totally not as what ZhouTong had told him before – how Madam Hou believes the family should stay together and she did not want him to be wandering outside destitutely. Zhuang Zhong’s eyes darkened as he thought of how it was either Madam Hou or Concubine Yin who was responsible for the assassination attempts on his life. Those people had pretended to be victims but would outright kill him for food. If it had not been for YuanJue then, he would have already been dead. Besides, just before he was about to be assassinated, ZhouTong had fallen out of the sky and rescued him. Such perfect timing was really what one would only see in a television drama.

Along the way, ZhouTong had also subtly and openly influenced him nonstop. However, his attempts to paint Concubine Yin as the enemy and Madam Hou as a supporting figure had instead, made Zhuang Zhong even more suspicious. The assassins might have been sent by Concubine Yin, who was afraid that he would take away her son’s title, or Madam Hou, who was deliberately attempting to draw him over to her side. Nevertheless, it was also possible that there might be a third party involved. Therefore, Zhuang Zhong had to enter the capital in order to make sense of this.

“Get out of the way! I want to return home!” a woman’s voice rang out and interrupted Zhuang Zhong’s thoughts.

“You cannot go back!” a man said with a helpless and anxious tone while blocking the way.

The appearance of a man and woman disputing on the road had attracted glances from passersby. Although DaYou was quite open, the people were still pretty particular about the distinction between men and women. With the woman seemingly unmarried and both of them unlikely to be a couple, such conduct could not help but raised some eyebrows.

An older passerby who was unable to continue looking at this further, rebuked with anger in his eyes, “In such broad daylight, how could a man and woman act so indecently!” 

Upon hearing that, the man’s face turned completely red and he seemed to be at a loss while retreating three feet away from the woman. However, as soon as the woman tried to pass him, he immediately rushed forward to stop her.

“Cousin, you really cannot go back!” The man’s face was full of distress and he looked anxious. He wanted to block her but at the same time did not dare to. 

The young lady wiped her tears and cried, “Cousin, please let me go back. If I do not go back home, my family will be ruined. I cannot let my younger brother be destroyed because of me. After all, he is the only son of our Wang family!”

The man’s face was full of conflict as he kept advising, “If you return, your whole life will be destroyed. GuGu3姑姑 (GuGu) is the term Chinese used to respectfully call one’s aunt. had told me to keep an eye out for you and to make sure not to let you go back.”

The young lady bit her teeth and in tears, said firmly, “I am willing to die in exchange for my brother’s life. If anything happened to my younger brother, I would not be able to continue living!”

The man was placed in a dilemma and did not know what to do. He stood there agitated like an ant on a hot pan.

With such an exchange of words, those passersby who were listening in had gained an understanding. Even though it was indecent for those two people to tug at each other, the circumstances mentioned by them seem to make it excusable. It was only with some enquiring into the situation that it was then revealed that something big had happened in the young lady’s family.

Looking at the two of them, the owner of the teahouse could not help but sigh. As he was living in a nearby village, he knew what was going on. This woman was the daughter of the Wang family living in TaoYuan Village. Since she was young, she was raised together with her 12-year-old younger brother by her widowed mother. Although the family was a little poor, life was still pretty decent. Besides, Lady Wang is pretty, charming, hardworking, and competent. Just after her coming-of-age ceremony4This refers to the ceremony that marks the woman as marriageable age (15 years old)., her household had became swamped with requests of marriage.

However, it was at this moment that something happened. In the TaoYuan Village, there was Zhang dalang5“大郎” (dalang) & “小郎” (xiaolang) are both terms of address. Wang xiaolang refers to the younger brother of the young lady. Here “dalang” and “xiaolang” could be seen as a reference to their age; “dalang” as the older one. who somehow got into a fight with Wang xiaolang. The next day, Zhang dalang was then carried over by the people of the Zhang household. He, who could only lie motionlessly on the stretcher, was fully covered in injuries that were really too horrible to look at. 

The people from the Zhang household had then asked for compensation in the form of a hundred string-holed copper coins – but how was it possible for the Wang family to have so much money? It was here that the other party demanded the young Lady Wang to marry into the Zhang family instead. With such injuries, Zhang dalang would not be able to obtain a wife – so as compensation, young Lady Wang would have to marry him. They would also have to provide a corresponding dowry that would be managed by the Zhang household. In the case that it was not sufficient, their family could give them in parts yearly.

How could the Wang family be willing when Zhang dalang looked so unsightly that it made one lose their appetite. This was especially so when he was a cripple and a lazy good-for-nothing who had illicit relations with women. Not only that – he eats, drinks, gambles, and frequents the brothels. Even at 30 years of age6The age in life at which a person should be independent., no one was willing to marry him and he was widely known as a hoodlum. Besides, those from the Zhang family are also not a good bunch – stingy, greedy, and lazy. Those living around them had even remarked that only those who are dumb would marry into this family.

Someone in the crowd who did not understand, then questioned, “Wait, did Wang xiaolang learn martial arts or was he born with divine power? How could a 12-year-old beat a grown man to such a miserable state?”

The owner of the tea shop was also quite puzzled. “How was it possible? He is just an ordinary peasant boy. Maybe the act of indulging in alcohol and women had caused Zhang dalang to be unable to withstand even a blow. With many people witnessing Wang xiaolang smashing Zhang dalang with a stick during the day, the Wangs could not deny it.”

“Could it be that he purposely harmed himself as a deliberate attempt to blackmail?”

The owner of the tea shop scratched his head. “It should not be the case. The injury was pretty serious and there was not a part that was unharmed. Isn’t it too harsh to self-inflict such harm? After all, Zhang dalang does not look like a grown man who could withstand it. Moreover, the households in TaoYuan Village are quite close to each other. With such a fierce beating, there would definitely be a ruckus but the neighbors nearby did not hear anything.”

In the end, the young man on the road was unable to stop young Lady Wang, and they headed off to TaoYuan Village together. With such a desolate expression, young Lady Wang looked as if she was approaching an execution ground. With her return, she had no doubt that she was jumping right into the fire. However, if she does not return, her brother would definitely be placed on trial and his life will be ruined.

Seeing this, the people in the tea house praised the young lady. To them, seeing such a woman fall into the mouth of a tiger was both admirable and distressing. There were even some people offering her money, but young Lady Wang had politely declined. This act had further elevated her in other people’s eyes, with many feeling that young Lady Wang was really righteous.

“Benefactor Zhou, are we going to pass by TaoYuan Village later?”

“Young Master, are you going to interfere with this matter?” ZhouTong’s eyes turned to him. “Although a hundred string-holed copper coins is a lot of money, it is nothing to the madam. If the young master is…”

Zhuang Zhong waved his hand. “Monks do not involve money when performing good deeds. Let us go and take a look.”

ZhouTong curled his lips and murmured to himself, “Without money, why do you have to interfere? Unless you want to chant Buddhist scriptures to help change Zhang dalang for the better?”

Zhuang Zhong’s traveling group of horses and a drawn carriage had managed to arrive at TaoYuan Village earlier than young Lady Wang. Upon entering, one does not need to inquire where the Wang family lives as at this time, the Wang household was bustling with the villagers surrounding the family home. From time to time, there would even be cries and insults rising and falling in cadence from the crowd.

When he got down from the carriage, Zhuang Zhong had changed back to the clothes he used to wear when he was a monk. Upon seeing that, ZhouTong’s eyelids wrinkled. It seems like the lobbying he did along the way was in vain, as the boy was still thinking about being a monk.

“The Wang family seemed insistent to lead us to a dead end. You have beaten our family dalang but still want to cover it up! Ah! I tell you, it is not over. If you do not give us a satisfactory answer, we will see you in the law court! It is true that a child without a father would indeed be wild. He was so cruel that he almost killed our family dalang. So he will definitely end up as a big scourge in the future!” Madam Zhang crossed her waist and pointed at Madam Wang’s nose while hurling all kinds of abuse. Her thick saliva had sprayed on Madam Wang’s head like a shower.

As a petite woman, Madam Wang was in tears and did not dare to say a word. Fearing that the agitated Wang xiaolang would cause more trouble, she tightly hugged onto him. Wang xiaolang’s eyes were red as he continuously stared at Madam Zhang, who was making such impertinent remarks. That day, he had not even hurt Zhang dalang that badly, so how could he have ended up with such serious injuries? If he had such strength, he would not have let his mother and sister suffer so much during these years.

However, through Zhang dalang’s clothes, his injuries were clearly visible and they were really bad. Lying on the stretcher, he seemed like a gossamer with a half-dead look. Although the people present felt that the people of the Zhang family were too aggressive, they were unable to say anything with Zhang dalang’s appearance. They could only persuade the people of the Zhang family not to push the Wang family too much until they were unable to bear it any longer. After all, they were all from the same countryside, and one should not sever ties that easily.

Despite that, Madam Zhang felt that she was not being too unreasonable and ignored the others completely. She even dragged over the village head to say something.

“Village Head, you cannot just ignore this issue. With our family dalang in such a state, how can he work in the future? How would he get married? If you beat someone up, you will have to pay. This is the law, so what did I do wrong? Seeing that their family has no money, I had relented and proposed to let their daughter marry into my family. Such an act could be considered benevolent, but how did the Wang family end up treating us? They had hidden their daughter and refused to compensate. How can there be such an unreasonable thing in the world!”

When the village head saw the state of Zhang dalang, he could not help sighing, “For such a matter, there are regulations, but your conditions are too harsh. This is akin to forcing the Wang family to a dead end.”

Madam Zhang snorted coldly, “It is not that I am forcing them to a dead end, but they should be held responsible for what they did. If we report this to the Yamen7The name of a government office in feudal China. The local ones are usually responsible for matters regarding finance, judging of civil and criminal cases, and issuing decrees and policies., he will have to suffer quite a number of beatings. By then, he will be half dead but still be imprisoned and sent into exile…”

Wang xiaolang howled, “I would rather go to jail than let my sister marry into their household! A man must bear the consequences of his own actions so just let the Yamen take me away.”

Madam Zhang raised her eyebrows and said, “Fine, go to the Yamen then. When the time comes, you will be imprisoned and still have to pay compensation. In the end, your sister will have no choice but to marry into the household!”

The village head was aware of this, so he had been hoping that this issue could be privately resolved. By making a big fuss, it would make it difficult for the Wang family to curry favor from the other party. He had also examined the injury and washed it with water, but it could not be washed off at all. Thus, it is not a fake injury.

“Amitabha, those who slander, lie, and harm people will be sent to the Chamber of Tongue Ripping after death. After breaking open the mouth, the ghost will clamp his tongue with a pair of pliers before slowly ripping it out. With the tongue removed, he will then be sent to the Chamber of Scissors and the Chamber of Iron Cycads8All the chambers mentioned are some of the 18 layers of Chinese hell. See Translator’s Notes for more information about this..”

With such a chilly voice recounting such horrifying words, all the noise suddenly stopped. Everyone was stunned and gazed towards the handsome young monk who looked about ten years old.

Despite detesting Zhuang Zhong at first sight, Madam Zhang did not dare to be too disrespectful. Although DaYou did not pay attention to Buddhism as much as the previous dynasties, the people were still afraid and wary of religious idols or gods. Thus, when she spoke, it was with a weaker tone, “Little monk, you should not talk nonsense.”

With his palms placed together and closed eyes, Zhuang Zhong wore a serious expression that resembled an eminent monk. “Monks do not lie.”

If it was an aged Buddhist monk who uttered such words, there might be some people who were convinced. Perhaps, he could have solved the Wang family’s problem with just two simple sentences. However, as Zhuang Zhong was too young, it did not seem as convincing.

Nonetheless, the village head took his words seriously. Despite feeling that there was something odd with this issue, he was still unable to explain why. Although he sympathized with the Wang family and detested the people of the Zhang family, he must remain unbiased, as he is the head of the village. Now with the little monk’s appearance, he could not help but hope. “Little monk, do you think this injury is fake? Is there any proof?”

*Translator’s Notes:

-To be honest, I am not very sure of the story between Wu Mei Niang/Wu ZeTian (consort Wu) and consort Xiao Shu. However, I did some research and found out that consort Xiao Shu was deposed together with Empress Wang during that time. As consort Xiao Shu lost in the inner court/harem struggle, she was demoted to a commoner before being hanged to death. Some had attributed her fall to Wu Mei Niang so I think what the author was trying to do was to draw a parallel between this incident and the action that Madam Hou took.

-Even though I grew up with Chinese culture I am not sure of the specifics of the 18 layers of hell. I only remembered it as scary stories that ward people off from performing immoral deeds. 

Brief Summary → Some Chinese legends with reference to Buddhism, Taoism, and Chinese folk religion describe hell as a place one travels to after death to atone for the sins they committed when they are alive. There are 18 layers of Chinese hell and each layer has a related punishment corresponding to the sin. For the Chamber of Tongue Ripping, it is where the tongue is pulled out as punishment for oral sin (e.g. causing troubles through gossips). Chamber of Scissors punishes those who break marriages by cutting off their fingers while the Chamber of Iron Cycads is where those who cause discord among other families are hung on iron trees. It is pretty interesting albeit a little morbid so if you want to know more you can do further research or refer to this link: https://china-underground.com/2011/04/27/the-eighteen-layers-of-chinese-hell/

  • 1
    “酉时” (Youshi) means the time period from 5pm to 7pm.
  • 2
    “武媚娘” (WuMei Niang) refers to 武则天 (Wu ZeTian), China’s only female emperor.
  • 3
    姑姑 (GuGu) is the term Chinese used to respectfully call one’s aunt.
  • 4
    This refers to the ceremony that marks the woman as marriageable age (15 years old).
  • 5
    “大郎” (dalang) & “小郎” (xiaolang) are both terms of address. Wang xiaolang refers to the younger brother of the young lady. Here “dalang” and “xiaolang” could be seen as a reference to their age; “dalang” as the older one.
  • 6
    The age in life at which a person should be independent.
  • 7
    The name of a government office in feudal China. The local ones are usually responsible for matters regarding finance, judging of civil and criminal cases, and issuing decrees and policies.
  • 8
    All the chambers mentioned are some of the 18 layers of Chinese hell. See Translator’s Notes for more information about this.

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6 thoughts on “Chapter 3 – The Matter That Was Encountered on the Way ”

    • Hey Miwa!
      Glad to see that you had enjoyed the chapter! You can look forward to ZhuangZhong first “case-solving” the next chapter 🙂
      P.S. your comments really make me laugh but yes, what a wicked family XD

      Reply
    • Hey Monrai,
      You’re welcome, glad that you enjoyed it! The next chapter will be a brief preview of ZhuangZhong in action so you can look forward to it. 😉

      Reply

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