Chapter 30 – Brewing

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

Proofreader: kllua

Official DaWei was enraged. “Such a groundless statement! How can such little insects move tens of thousands of silver away!” If it were not for the fact that he could not touch Zhuang Zhong, he would have already ordered for this bogus monk to be taken away and beaten with a hundred strokes.

Cupping his hands together and facing Feng Huan, Zhuang Zhong explained, “Your Highness, these termites can secrete a substance called formic acid, which has the ability to corrode rocks and metals. When the silver comes into contact with the acid, it will turn into powdery silver formate1“蚁酸银” was the term used. A search shows that its chemical formula is HCOOAg, an unstable inorganic compound., which will then be consumed by the termites. Although tens of thousands of silver is a huge amount, the number of termites here was also not small.”

Yin DaMei, who found it inconceivable, then asked, “Is-is this true? Ants can actually eat silver? Would all these silvers be lost for nothing?”

Official DaWei coldly hummed. “This person is purely spouting nonsense. He was just deliberately pushing the blame onto the ants so that the case could be quickly resolved, using this chance to make a name for himself.”

Yin DaMei and Qian Rong glanced at each other. Indeed, they have never heard of such a thing before and could not determine whether it was true or false at this point in time, causing them to feel both worried and comforted. Although the loss of such a considerable amount of silver was a big blow to them, it was still a relief to be able to wash off the charges placed on them. Ever since the emperor began to pay special attention to this case, Official DaWei would make random accusations. If it were not for the support of Imperial Concubine Yin Xian, they would have already confessed to false charges under torture.

However, in the event that the thieves were really someone else and the case was not resolved properly now, they would be constantly fearful of having a repeat of such a matter in the future. Even with a mountain of wealth, they could not bear to suffer such an experience again and were unsure of what to do for a while.

Meanwhile, Zhuang Zhong gazed at Official DaWei and asked, “What would you do if I could prove that the silvers were stolen by these termites?”

Hearing that, Official DaWei’s eyes shrunk. Zhuang Zhong looked like he had a card up his sleeve, and Official DaWei’s heart could not help but drum up. He pondered: was it really the case? However, those were silvers, so the ants should have perished after consuming them.

Zhuang Zhong sneered, “What? You do not dare? Just now, you raised such fierce opposition, so you must have already known that the thieves were the termites. Your deliberate concealment is most likely because you planned to use it as a form of extortion in the investigation process. As long as these ants are still here, the silvers will continue to disappear, and you can profit from it.”

Initially, Official DaWei planned to be cautious and not participate in this fight with Zhuang Zhong. However, the content of Zhuang Zhong’s words caused him to become enraged immediately. “I am a clear and bright official who is conscientious and always doing my best. How can I accept such slander from you?!”

“Is it? Then why do you not dare to bet with me or admit that these termites were the thieves?”

“You rascal, do you think that you can fool this official by goading me?”

Standing with his hands behind his back, Zhuang Zhong appeared like an upright bamboo as he replied, “I dare not muddle you, but I admit to the goading. I just want to see if this official dares to take responsibility for his words and deeds. Previously when you suspected Old Man Liu to be the thief, you were confident and did not listen to others’ words, forcing him to confess through extreme torture. You had also said that only torture could loosen the mouth of a criminal. If that person was really guilty, he deserved it. However, if he is not, he will be confessing to false charges under torture. Have you heard of this saying?”

Finding nothing wrong with it, Official DaWei replied, “This is all done in the name of finding the truth as early as possible.”

Zhuang Zhong smiled lightly. “Then here lies an important question. Will this official treat himself as detachedly as he had done to others for the truth? This lowly one is not talented. However, since I believe that these termites are the thieves, I dare to be responsible for my words. So, if these termites are not the culprit, I am willing to offer my bottom to be beaten by the Yamen runners for 50 strokes. Meanwhile, since this official said that I am making a groundless statement, do you dare to make a bet with me for the truth? You are not like me, who holds no governmental post, so 50 strokes are really not appropriate. How about you bet with the black gauze cap2“乌纱” (wusha) or known as the “black gauze cap” is a hat worn by feudal officials. It consists of a black hat with two wing-like flaps of thin, oval-shaped boards on each side and is usually a metaphor/synonym for officials. on your head?”

The more Zhuang Zhong spoke, the more unsure Official DaWei became. Was it really like what this rascal said? However, if he agreed with him now, it was really too shameful. He absolutely could not bet with him using his black gauze cap either. After all, he had put in a lot of effort to attain it, and he could not forfeit it this hastily.

Standing upright, he then chose to speak with gusto, “I chose to become an official because I want to bring benefit to the people. So, I will not engage in a petty dispute with you and forget the great duty in my heart. This is just disregarding the common people!”

If this were an animation, Official DaWei’s speech would have manifested a blinding golden light.

However, in reality, those present were speechless, thinking that being an official did require one to have thick skin!

Feng Huan mildly injected, “At the Ministry of Personnel, there are a group of people waiting to be dispatched as officials. If you cannot even compare to a teenage law student and still refuse to ask for advice humbly, it is the best for you to give way.”

Hearing that, Official DaWei’s face turned green and he dared not speak further, only staring hatefully at Zhuang Zhong.

In Zhuang Zhong’s heart, he felt contempt. Official DaWei had always judged cases in an oversimplified and crude way, but anything regarding his black gauze cap, he was more attentive than anyone else.

Meanwhile, when Qian Rong and Yin DaMei saw such a scene, they determined that Zhuang Zhong’s words were true. As Zhuang Zhong appeared wealthy and was also a law student, he must not be from an ordinary household. Besides, if he were not certain, he would not have dared to make such a bet. After all, notwithstanding the pain in his bottom, he would have also lost face greatly.

Like they were mourning the loss of their parents, the two of them could not help but feel dejected that they lost tens of thousands of silvers like this.

At this moment, Feng Huan suddenly said, “Get those silvers back.” Such words caused the couple to become momentarily stunned, and Official DaWei’s eyes even widened incomprehensibly. It was stated that the termites had eaten them, so how could they be retrieved? Was what happened just now a trick? Official DaWei felt regretful when he thought so.

Zhuang Zhong blinked. “How does Your Highness know I can retrieve the silvers?”

Feng Huan raised his eyebrows in response. “This prince just knows.”

Zhuang Zhong hurriedly flattered him, “Your Highness is wise with a mind that perceives everything. Nothing can be concealed from you.” Saying that, he turned towards the couple and asked, “Do you have a big stove in your house?”

Even though the both of them did not understand the reasons for it, the couple still quickly complied and ordered people to find a big stove before lighting it up with fire.

At this time, the people Feng Huan sent out had attracted a crowd. When everyone heard that the silvers and the thieves who stole from the Four Seas Money Shop were found, they had crowded around the door to watch.

Not needing Feng Huan’s order, Qian Rong opened his courtyard door and let the people enter.

“Where are the thieves?”

“Why is there a stove set up?”

With such strangeness, the surrounding people became more curious, and more people crowded in.

As Feng Huan sat aside without any intention to speak, Zhuang Zhong had no choice but to walk to the middle, point to the basketful of termites, and said loudly, “These termites are the thieves who stole the silvers!”

When everyone heard that, there was a great uproar.

“Ants can even eat silver? This is really the most absurd thing in the world.”

“Those are termites, and it seems like they are common in the south. I heard from a person from LingNan that these guys can hollow out a large house, and it was very frightening. However, I would have never thought that they could eat silver. Does this mean that those silvers were lost for nothing?”

“Those are tens of thousands of silver! These ants really know how to find food!”

“Is it because they were unable to find the real thieves that they deliberately push the blame on these ants? Can a group of ants even be so powerful?”

With such diverse and confused discussions between the people, the scene was very lively.

It was only when Feng Huan gave Zhuang Zhong a look that Zhuang Zhong continued, “We will now make the termites spit out the silver.”

With such words, the crowd got even more lively. Those Yamen runners also proceeded to shove all the termites into the fire, and the picture of the swarms of ants really made people’s blood freeze.

“I did not hear wrongly just now, did I? Can they still spit it out when they have already eaten it?”

“I seem to have heard the same words from this young master but let us observe first. This trip today would not be in vain, as it seems like there will be a good show to see.”

All the ants were thrown into the stove and when the fire went out after a while, there was a shining white layer at the bottom.

Someone exclaimed in wonder, “Are those the silvers?”

When everything in the stove was emptied, everyone became excited as it was really silver!

At this time, Feng Huan ordered people to weigh the silver and the final number was not much different from the silver that had been lost before.

Even though termites could devour silver by using formic acid, they could not digest them, and it would remain in their bodies. So, as long as the termites were thrown into the stove and the melting point of silver was reached, they would turn back to silver.

In front of the truth, Qian Rong and Yin DaMei were completely convinced and knelt in front of Zhuang Zhong.

In a loud voice so that everyone around could hear her clearly, Yin DaMei said, “This young master is really a living QingTian! If it were not for his ability to discover every minute detail, my Four Seas Money Shop would have lost not only money but also its reputation. I would like to thank you for your help, as you even managed to clear our charges!”

Qian Rong loudly continued, “This young master saved my whole Four Seas Money Shop!”

“Please get up quickly. Such actions would only overwhelm me with more than I deserve.” As Zhuang Zhong helped them up, he knew that the loss of tens of thousands of silver would never have caused them to respond like this. They only wanted to act well in front of Feng Huan and put a spin on this matter in front of the crowd. By spreading his reputation as “QingTian”, the people’s attention would be shifted, and they would forget the fact that their money shop was not secure enough whenever they spoke of this matter.

Qian Rong asked, “Does this young master know of any ways to guard against termites? When building the treasury, we indeed did not realize that there was a big anthole, as we did not see any termites at all.” Since Zhuang Zhong was familiar with these insects, he had thought that Zhuang Zhong would know how to guard against them.

Hearing such a question, many of them pricked up their eyes and listened. After all, termites were not common in the capital, and it was normal for them to be astonished when they saw the extraction of silver by burning the termites. It was precisely because they did not know that they found it inconceivable.

Zhuang Zhong shook his head. “I am unsure about this. As it seems like termites are common in the South, there should be some capable people who were knowledgeable in it. So, Lord Qian can try sending someone to inquire about it. Besides, as termites are similar cockroaches, they can sometimes follow along with objects from other places here. So, perhaps some had arrived through this way and formed a termite colony through fast reproduction.”

Qian Rong bowed deeply. “Thanking this young master for your advice.”

However, Zhuang Zhong was more concerned about another matter. “How is Old Man Liu now?”

Qian Rong subconsciously glanced at Official DaWei before looking down quickly when the other person gave him a cold look. “Even though he is bedridden, his life is not in danger. He had just suffered a lot.”

“No matter what, your money shop cannot deny the responsibility it had regarding his current condition. So, I hope that Lord Qian will not push him to a corner after the grievances he suffered.”

Qian Rong hurriedly said, “Young master, you can rest assured as I will not treat him unfairly. After all, no matter what, it all came about because of my money shop. Ah, I have also always regarded him highly, or I would not have let him take charge of the key to the treasury. It was just unexpected that this matter would develop to this stage because of these small things. Young master is benevolent and righteous to still remember him. On behalf of him, I thank you.”

Since Qian Rong promised in public, he would not dare to go back on his words, causing Zhuang Zhong to be relieved. That day, seeing the tragic situation of Old Man Liu, Zhuang Zhong remembered how DaYou provided no compensation – the wronged could only accept it as bad luck. So here, he could only help that old man construct another way out.

Meanwhile, Zhuang Zhong’s eyes shrunk. Since the main culprit, Official DaWei, could not be pulled down, Zhuang Zhong should at least peel off a layer of his skin!

While Zhuang Zhong was about to leave, Yin DaMei ordered someone to bring her a large chest and said in a clear and loud voice, “Young master, this is the reward I promised at the beginning. There are a total of two thousand taels of silvers in here, one thousand for each request. Please count them, young master.”

Zhuang Zhong was shocked and hastily waved his hand. “It is my job, so I cannot accept this. This is discipline.”

No matter how the police were criticized or even had their reputation in tatters on the internet, Zhuang Zhong was convinced that most were like ordinary people. When doing their job, they did not accept external bribes, and Zhuang Zhong was one of them. Regarding the act of taking bribes and bending the law, most people would also not do so due to their reputation, retaining their jobs, etc. So, although it was undeniable that there would be outliers, the world has not blackened to that state, and Zhuang Zhong will still adhere to his own principles.

So, when he saw such a huge sum of money that could be considered as bribery in public, it was a direct shock to him.

However, Yin DaMei had a face of incomprehension and looked at him as if he was silly. “Why not? I offered a reward before, so you should take the money since you solved it. Are you avoiding this money cause it was heated out from the termites?”

Zhuang Zhong did not know whether to laugh or cry, replying seriously, “Investigating is what I should do, so accepting extra money will not be appropriate. If everyone does so, it will just create undesirable social norms. At that time, wouldn’t those penniless common people be unable to file a case?”

“Well said!” Someone unknown from the crowd shouted, and he was quickly joined by others who echoed the same thing in succession.

Yin DaMei’s eyebrows knitted. “However, I made a promise before. If I do not fulfill it, would I have not failed to live up to my promise? The most important thing we pay attention to at the Four Seas Money Shop is the word “credibility”. A mouth of spittle is a nail3“一个唾沫一个钉” (literally “a mouth of spittle is a nail”) is a saying where one means what they say and they could never refuse/deny their words., so even if we had to surrender everything or beg on the streets, we would still pay back the promised money, definitely nothing less. So, if you do not accept the money, how can I dare say that I will follow through with my words in the future? I will be sending this money to your home, and it is up to you to do whatever you want with it. I will not pick it back up even if the money was on the streets.”

As both sides were reasonable, the two thousand taels of silver became a hot potato that was difficult to handle.

At this moment, Feng Huan said, “Zhuang Zhong, you are not a member of the local authorities right now, and the case of the stolen silver was indeed solved by you. So, it is reasonable for you to accept the reward from the Four Seas Money Shop.”

Like this, Zhuang Zhong rightfully and properly earned two thousand taels of silver which he could not wrap his head around. However, when he finally managed to react, he only felt fearful as he saw Yin DaMei’s happy expression before she quickly shoved the silver to him.

At this very moment, Zhuang Zhong understood that Yin DaMei’s action was not one of generosity but to save the reputation of the money shop. If he did not accept it, it would only appear as if he did not know how to behave in a delicate situation. Besides, this matter was not really his job and could not be counted as breaking his principles. Thinking along this line, he accepted the silver and deposited it at Four Seas Money Shop on the spot. Seeing that Zhuang Zhong understood their intention, Qian Rong and Yin DaMei were extremely delighted. While they buttered up to him, Official DaWei was squeezed into the corner and treated coldly.

Since the commotion ended, the crowd dispersed, and Official DaWei also left with a swing of his sleeves furiously. In the Yamen, many loved dealing with cases that involved merchants, as they could scrape out the most money. So, it was unsurprising that Official DaWei was peeved, as his efforts were not only for naught, but he had also lost his reputation.

Zhuang Zhong frowned. “Your Highness, Official DaWei’s actions were so improper, but he will only be receiving such painless punishment?”

As Official DaWei’s investigation was unsuccessful, he will be punished. However, it was only a shift from one “pit” to another. While it was great that he will be dismissed from his post to set an example to others, in actuality, after he is withdrawn from this side, he will be shifted to another side with an even better position. As both sides were settled nicely, it was really a good move made by the higher-ups.

Feng Huan raised his eyebrows. “This will then depend on your ability.”

Zhuang Zhong sighed and rubbed his temples. “I will be going back to continue reading the file cases.”

Feng Huan swung his index finger and said, “This case has opened up more ways for you to deal with him.”

Zhuang Zhong did not understand. “Asking for advice from Your Highness.”

Feng Huan laughed with a deep meaning. “A swordsman’s sword, a scholar’s brush.”

Coming to a sudden realization, Zhuang Zhong patted his head. “I almost forgot about that. Thanking Your Highness for reminding me!”

“If you want to thank me, then treat me to a drink.” Feng Huan paused for a while before adding, “I want the QiongJiang wine4 “琼浆酿” (“QiongJiang wine”) is a figure of speech for good wine. In Chinese myth, it was said that drinking it would make someone an immortal. in TianXiang building5 Here, I decided to translate “天香楼” through pinyin so it would be as “TianXiang Building” (cause “天香” literal English translation would be “sky/heavens smell nice” or “nice smelling sky/heavens” and it is weird). .”

Zhuang Zhong grew wide-eyed. “Your Highness, this is daylight robbery! Even if I sell myself, I would not be able to afford the alcohol there.”

Feng Huan squinted his eyes at him. “You have just received a reward of two thousand taels of silver. Are you crying to me that you are hard of money now?!”

It was only after his words that Zhuang Zhong remembered about it and replied awkwardly, “Is this not the first time I have received this kind of money? So, I still do not consider it my own yet. Ah!” Then, he suddenly thought of something. “The two times we drank before were my treat, and you always ordered the most expensive ones. With such a huge cost, it is literally robbing the poor and helping the rich.”

Here, Feng Huan recalled that such a thing did happen. As he usually did not have to pay with his own money when he was outside, he did not find such a matter worth remembering and refuted with contempt, “It is only this little amount of silver and yet you remembered it so clearly up till now. You are still the son of the marquis, is there a need for you to be this stingy? For you to be able to treat me is a blessing, as I do not even bother to go with others no matter how much they splurged their wealth in front of me.”

Zhuang Zhong rolled his eyes. “That is because others have something to ask from you, and they are wealthy. So such a thing is only natural.”

Feng Huan raised an eyebrow. “From your words, do you mean you have nothing to ask from me? Give me back the jade pendant. There is no need for you to go to the Central Judicial Office tomorrow.”

“Since you gave it to me, it is mine!” Zhuang Zhong quickly covered the jade pendant at his waist and awkwardly laughed, “Tonight is different from the previous days. Let’s go, is this not just the QiongJiang wine of the TianXiang Building? It will be my treat! I guarantee that there will be adequate food too.”

As Zhuang Zhong looked at a table of fine wine and delicacies, he felt distressed. Initially, he had thought that as the second restaurant in the capital, the food offered would have been more affordable. Who knew that the high prices were equally outrageous! In a moment, the two thousand taels of silver he just received had a big dent in it.

Feng Huan could not stand Zhuang Zhong’s appearance anymore. “Is this not just some silver? How can a man dawdle like a woman?”

Zhuang Zhong gnashed his teeth together. “As someone who was never the head of the house, you really do not know the cost of firewood and rice. Do you know that this meal is several years of spendings for ordinary people?! One could do many things with such money, so why do we have to waste it like this? Even if these things are delicious, do they have the power to grant people immortality?”

Feng Huan did not object to his words, and he did not want to argue about it either. He just said, “If you do not start eating, I will not stand on ceremony anymore.”

Hearing that, Zhuang Zhong quickly picked up his chopsticks. “Since the money has already been spent, it will be even more wasteful not to eat. I would like to see what the fuss is for them to charge so much money!”

Zhuang Zhong then proceeded to aggressively pick up some of the food, and put it in his mouth. Instantly, his eyes narrowed, and his whole body softened. “How can this fish be so fresh and tender! I have never eaten anything this delicious.”

Feng Huan could not help but laugh. “Marquis WenYuan is a refined man, so he is very picky about these things, and the food in his household should be nothing ordinary. Must you react this way?”

Zhuang Zhong waved his index finger. “Different states of mind lead to different tastes. In the marquis’ residence, I always felt like I was eating free food and was a nuisance to others. How can I eat at ease when I am always on tenterhooks? The original taste might have been great, but in the end, I could only taste around sixty percent at most. Meanwhile, even though I spent a large sum of money now, I am eating my own food. If I do not give it a taste, I would have felt that I had wasted my money and be even more regretful. So, even if it tasted mediocre, I still have to make it feel extraordinary in order to feel comforted spending such money.”

“You seem to have many sets of principles.”

“Not only that, even though things here are so expensive, it is still bustling with people. There are really many wealthy people in the capital.” Zhuang Zhong sighed, as he felt glad to have come to such a place. If he arrived in troubled times, who knew how many days he could have lived.

Feng Huan said with a smile, “DaYou is blessed with a prosperous destiny. Abundant and flourishing, the capital will naturally be the best, so what is so strange about that?”

How could two people who grew up in different social backgrounds and living environments understand this problem the same way? So, Zhuang Zhong decided not to waste his efforts to explain, choosing to admire the scenery and enjoy the delicacies. Since the money was already spent, he must enjoy it to make this worthwhile.

At this moment, an exquisite carriage stopped in front of TianXiang building, and Zhuang Zhong subconsciously took an extra glance. A look at the size of the carriage indicated that the people inside must be those from powerful families. When the curtain lifted, a pair of pale hands extended out, and an elegant woman wearing a veiled hat came down from the carriage. Although one could not see her appearance, her figure hinted that she must be a beauty. Meanwhile, another alighted from the carriage after her. However, that woman was not as gentle and graceful as the first one, choosing to jump down from the carriage rashly and hastily. With nothing covering her face, it could be seen that she looked charming and pretty, causing passersby to be amazed. She also wore full red, which made her even more striking.

The woman who donned the veiled hat hastily took out another from the carriage, intending to let the woman in red wear it, but the latter did not accept. She only said, “I am not a thief, so why should I cover up like this?”

Her voice was just like a warbler’s cry, which was sweet to the ear.

As DaYou was open-minded, women could go out into the streets freely. It was just that in order to avoid being taken liberties of which might damage their reputations, women from rich and noble families often wore veiled hats to cover themselves up. Looking at the woman in red, it could be determined that she was not from an ordinary background. However, her behavior was bold, and she did not care about other people’s gazes. Doing things her own way, she did not care about being watched and was evidently different from other influential young ladies in the capital.

“What are you looking at?”

Jolting back from his thoughts, Zhuang Zhong smiled in embarrassment. “I am enjoying the fine view.”

Looking in the same direction, a trace of anger flashed across Feng Huan’s eyes as he spoke in an unkind tone, “They are just girls who are hardly dry behind the ears, and yet you are staring till your eyes are about to fall out.”

With such words, Zhuang Zhong felt as if he had become a paedophilic lecher. These two women might be beautiful, but they were indeed too young for him. “It is not like what you said. I just happened to catch sight of them.”

Feng Huan’s words contained an unclear meaning when he continued, “The woman in red is the daughter of the Minister of Rites, and she is 16 years old. If you like, I can be your matchmaker.”

Zhuang Zhong tutted in reply, “If she is not 16 years old, I may consider. Marrying her at such an age would only be like raising a daughter.”

The way that Feng Huan used to look at Zhuang Zhong turned strange. “I really did not imagine that you would have such a unique taste.”

“It was just all talk. As a monk, I do not think about common worldly affairs.” While saying this though, he was already currently in the middle of drinking alcohol and eating meat.

Feng Huan rubbed his chin. “It seems that being a monk is pretty good.”

“Pu—” The wine that Zhuang Zhong was drinking was spat out. “Your Highness, please do not scare me.”

If Feng Huan momentarily took things too hard and became a monk, he would lose his life after they found out that he was the instigator!

Feng Huan did not respond and just opened the jar that was sealed with mud. He placed it heavily in front of Zhuang Zhong and said, “Drink! If you do not get drunk, you cannot go back! ”

This time, Zhuang Zhong really drank too much and was still a little dizzy after returning to Tai Xue.

Jiang Xun was also in the room, and Zhang Zhong was surprised. “You are back? Did Brother Yuan’s funeral affairs go well?”

As Jiang Xun and Yuan LiangJun were distinct relatives and were admitted to Tai Xue together, their relationship was naturally different from others. After Yuan LiangJun was murdered and Jiang Xun recovered, Jiang Xun had changed his habit of not caring about other people’s matters and helped Yuan LiangJun’s family in the organization of the funeral. Later on, he even escorted Yuan LiangJun’s return to the countryside, causing people to gain a new appraisal of him regardless of his reason for doing so.

Even though Jiang Xun was thinner than before, the spirit in his eyes was restored and was not as empty as the time he went mad.

“Yes, it is inevitable that having white hair people send off black hair people6“白发人送黑发人” (literally “white hair people send off black hair people”) is a Chinese saying. White hair people here refer to the older generation while black hair refers to the younger generation. This saying usually conveys the sadness that those older will have to send the younger off when it was supposed to be the opposite (e.g. elderly parents sending off their child when the child was supposed to be the one handling their last rites). would…even if the real murderer was caught, it is no use.” Bitterness flashed across his eyes before he shook his head and continued, “I heard that you solved the missing silver case of Four Seas Money Shop. From Brother Yuan’s case, it can already be seen that you are not ordinary, and this confirms it. This really is a great blessing for DaYou. The lesser there are of people who were wronged, the more peaceful the world would be.”

Zhuang Zhong felt that Jiang Xun had changed significantly from the past after experiencing such a situation. No longer highly critical of the world and its ways, he was also more tolerant towards people. If it had been the past, he would have never said such words.

“I am just doing my best.”

Jiang Xun smiled. “You do not need to be modest. Initially, I thought that you were a straw bag7Translated literally from “草包”, “straw bag” refers to those who looked strong in appearance but is actually weak/a pretense of having great ability. , and children of wealthy families will only know how to be lazy good-for-nothings. So whenever I met them, I could not help but to insinuate them. Now, I know that I made a big mistake. My narrow perspective and constant feelings that the heavens were unfair had caused me to act extremely – a fall from grace8Here, the author used “落了下乘” which a quick search hinted that it may have links to Buddhism, specifically its “五乘” (five states). “上乘” and “下乘” borrowed the Buddhism term “乘” to indicate a “superior level” and “lower level” respectively. So, here it could be said that Jiang Xun was saying that he had fallen from a higher enlightened state to a lower one. .”

Zhuang Zhong refuted sincerely, “It is not too late for Brother Jiang to realize the truth now.”

“My fate is up to me and not the heavens. Instead of envying what others have, I should think about what I can fight for.” With such words, the gloom between Jiang Xun’s eyebrows scattered.

Although Zhuang Zhong disliked Jiang Xun before, he still felt very happy to see this. Jiang Xun was very talented. If he did not get driven to a dead end, he would be a man of great achievements. Now, seeing that he has changed was a good thing. Everyone had their own foolish instances, but the greatest fear was to die foolishly without knowing. Being able to gain awareness midway was the making of a man.

However, at this point in time, Zhuang Zhong only felt dizzy. His head felt like it was cracking, so he said, “I drank a lot today, so I will lie down for a while first. When I wake up, I still have to submit a written statement and pull the dog-like official off his horse!”

“Are you talking about Official DaWei?”

As he laid on his bed, Zhuang Zhong replied dazedly, “Yes, it is him. Another day that muddlehead official maintains his position, the more people will suffer. Ah, my writing will not do, so I have to wake up and think about it. Maybe I should find other people, ah, but I am only a law student, and I am unsure if people would be convinced…”

As he spoke, he fell asleep. When he woke up, he felt so terrible that he could not determine day from night.

Jiang Xun pushed the door open and entered. When he saw that Zhuang Zhong had woken up, he handed him a piece of paper excitedly. “How is my writing?”

Unable to understand his words, Zhuang Zhong took a look. Originally, his dizziness was amplified by looking at the pile of words. However, after a while, his eyes brightened. With his current improved reading ability in ancient Chinese texts, he had understood it quickly.

Zhuang Zhong became extremely excited. “This, this is…”

Jiang Xun laughed, “You may not be a Tai Xue student, but I am! Official DaWei, such a dog-like official is not worthy of sitting in this position. If it were not for you who discovered all those minute details, many innocent people would have been implicated, and I would not have been able to escape either. Life is as great as the heavens, but he acted foolishly, even possessing such a good reputation, which is a great injustice. The saying that he solved a major case a day was perhaps also done in this way, which could have implicated many others before. As Tai Xue students, we should then uphold justice. If you find this document appropriate, I will seek others to sign this memorial. We must pull this muddlehead official off his horse!”

Zhuang Zhong replied in a loud voice as his mind became sober, “It is great! How could it not be when you write so well! I will be the first to include my thumbprint!” Indeed, Jiang Xun was an outstanding student. His every word was a gem that made the text biting with the intention to damage. It was hard not to be furious when reading it, so if Official DaWei was not pulled down from his horse, people would have found it hard to resolve such hatred and anger.

If you want to make the emperor place importance on it, there must be some literary standard. So initially, Zhuang Zhong had plans to entrust others to write it up, but he was worried that no one would take the risk with him. After all, Tai Xue was not the center of public opinion like in the past. Due to its imperviousness and arrogance before, Emperor Qian had suppressed them to the extent where in the worst-case scenario, one’s future could be destroyed. Additionally, with his current standards, it would also be difficult to attract Emperor Qian Xing’s attention, causing him to worry about it yesterday. Now, by just sleeping, his problem was resolved!

It was indeed different for a scholar to take a matter seriously. Even if Jiang Xun did not get along well with others before, he had a strong style of study in Tai Xue, which made him very persuasive. Besides, Official DaWei’s actions which had been seen by everyone, caused many to have unfavorable opinions of him as well. Like this, many came together and submitted a joint memorial. For this matter, even Old Man Liu was willing to testify that he was subjected to cruel torture at that point due to his unwillingness to pay bribes and to force him to admit to the guilt!

It was later on that his family could not bear it anymore and paid for his safety, so he was exempted from the punishments. Otherwise, he would have died and become unable to see the real thief being “arrested”.

With the Tai Xue students and the law students attacking Official DaWei together with one mind, it soon became the biggest ruckus that was ever made since Emperor Qian Xing ascended the throne.

*Translator’s Notes:
-Regarding the issue with termites consuming silver, it seemed to be true. However, when I did a search in English, it was stated explicitly that termites do not eat silver and they tend to avoid it (because they cannot really digest or get the necessary nutrition from it). It was only when I searched in Chinese, that there apparently were real records of it. In the 岭南杂记 (literally LingNan Notes – note the LingNan here is the same one used in this chapter) by Wu ZhenFang, there was a similar case that I suspected had hugely influenced the past few chapters of this story. During the reign of Emperor Kangxi (1684), thousands of taels of silver were found missing in the Yamen treasury which frightened the officials as they could not find them anywhere. Later on, some shiny white powder that was found under the wall led to them digging out a termite nest at the corner which puzzled them. It was only when they placed the termites into the furnace to kill them that they found the silver. Assuming that this record is true, I guess it could be counted as evidence that termites do consume silvers to a certain extent.
If you read Chinese and is interested to know more, you can view the link that I got this information from: https://zhidao.baidu.com/question/30729900?bd_page_type=0&pu=&init=middle

  • 1
    “蚁酸银” was the term used. A search shows that its chemical formula is HCOOAg, an unstable inorganic compound.
  • 2
    “乌纱” (wusha) or known as the “black gauze cap” is a hat worn by feudal officials. It consists of a black hat with two wing-like flaps of thin, oval-shaped boards on each side and is usually a metaphor/synonym for officials.
  • 3
    “一个唾沫一个钉” (literally “a mouth of spittle is a nail”) is a saying where one means what they say and they could never refuse/deny their words.
  • 4
    “琼浆酿” (“QiongJiang wine”) is a figure of speech for good wine. In Chinese myth, it was said that drinking it would make someone an immortal.
  • 5
    Here, I decided to translate “天香楼” through pinyin so it would be as “TianXiang Building” (cause “天香” literal English translation would be “sky/heavens smell nice” or “nice smelling sky/heavens” and it is weird).
  • 6
    “白发人送黑发人” (literally “white hair people send off black hair people”) is a Chinese saying. White hair people here refer to the older generation while black hair refers to the younger generation. This saying usually conveys the sadness that those older will have to send the younger off when it was supposed to be the opposite (e.g. elderly parents sending off their child when the child was supposed to be the one handling their last rites).
  • 7
    Translated literally from “草包”, “straw bag” refers to those who looked strong in appearance but is actually weak/a pretense of having great ability.
  • 8
    Here, the author used “落了下乘” which a quick search hinted that it may have links to Buddhism, specifically its “五乘” (five states). “上乘” and “下乘” borrowed the Buddhism term “乘” to indicate a “superior level” and “lower level” respectively. So, here it could be said that Jiang Xun was saying that he had fallen from a higher enlightened state to a lower one.

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Could be found lurking around BL novels. The translator for 法医穿越记事 (Forensic Traversing Notes), 纸活 (Living Paper) and 人人都爱裴即玉 (Everyone Loves Pei JiYu).

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