Chapter 33 – [Xu Sheng Case] Doubtful Points

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

Even though the abductors and their accomplices for the case had all been arrested, the subsequent developments were disappointing. It turned out that the accomplices outside the capital were only the middleman, and in actuality, there existed a group that specializes in collecting children from all over the place. Due to the fact that they were able to sell the children at a higher price if they were able to prove their origins to the buyers, there was a significant preference towards children from wealthy families. However, regarding where they were being brought to after that, no one knew any better. Once the governor was apprised of this, he immediately sent people to arrest them, but they had never appeared again, probably because they had gotten wind of it.

The individuals acting as the middlemen also confessed that those people liked to mask themselves so they could not determine what they looked like. They only noted that the people had built figures and voices that rang like bells. As many people met similar descriptions, the information was deemed not very valuable. Therefore, they had no idea where the previously abducted children were even though the abductors had been found. For the parents of those children, their hopes were raised before they were hit by reality mercilessly.

When Zhuang Zhong heard such news, he felt as if he had been splashed with cold water. From the descriptions, it appeared that the group was conducting purposeful and organized crimes. Since the leader did not end up caught, they would definitely take risks in the name of profit again. Moreover, because those missing children could not be found, it was hard to feel happy about the situation.

This time, the abductors responsible did not have a good end, as the instigators were put to death by lingchi1 “凌迟” (lingchi) used here was translated to “slow process” or “death by a thousand cuts”. It refers to a form of torture and execution used in ancient China where a person’s flesh was cut from the body in many slices, leading to a slow and painful death. . Although such torture did not conform to the views of a modern man, Zhuang Zhong silently approved such a punishment in his heart. After all, in the past, he used to have a friend who was part of a group involved in cracking down abduction cases. He knew better than others how abominable it was and how distraught the parents who lost their children felt. Due to this, those families would become broken up and gloomy, leading to numerous problems such as parents undertaking reckless actions due to feelings of responsibility. Meanwhile, his friend also had to take some time off every month to relieve himself of such negativity. Zhuang Zhong, who was privy to many details, then felt great resentment, believing the penalties for the abductors were still too light!

Some were even repeated offenders, and more than once, Zhuang Zhong thought that letting these kinds of people live would only waste resources and pollute the environment. So, although he was not in favor of such a method of torture, he never thought of refuting it, as it allowed one to vent their hatred. Besides, for someone to think of such a wonderful punishment, that person must have also possessed extreme hatred, wanting to turn them into dust.

Actually, in DaYou, the laws regarding crimes of abduction and trafficking were not that strict. However, for some reason, the officials were resolute this time and ordered for them to be put to death through lingchi, serving as an example to others. Some people speculated that because the second prince was about the same age as these children, they felt deeply affected, hence why such a harsh order was put forth. So, despite some questioning voices in the court, they did not gain much traction. After all, these abductors were aiming to abduct and trafficked children of wealthy families. Who could say that every minister in the court did not have at least one child in their household? Since the source of their operation had not been found, they would likely return in the future for the sake of profit despite the risks. Who would then not fear that their own children and grandchildren would be abducted by these people? By employing such an intimidation method, they could only attempt to scare such people who had abandoned their conscience in return for some money.

Due to this case, the relations between Zhuang Zhong and the Lu family had also grown deeper, especially for Lu XiaoBao, who liked to stick to Zhuang Zhong and covet his flashlight. However, despite his interest in it, Lu XiaoBao only made Zhuang Zhong let him play with it from time to time and was not like other children who must obtain it no matter what. Such a sensible child was highly favored by Zhuang Zhong because the materials of the flashlight were really too heterodox in this world. Instead, he gave his magnifying glass for Lu XiaoBao to play with.

As soon as Lu XiaoBao received the magnifying glass, he was so fond of it that he became unwilling to part with it. Using it, he could then squat under the tree all afternoon just to examine the ants.

“If ZiAn was here, it would have been better.” Although Lu XiaoBao was delighted, he felt a little regretful.

Zhuang Zhong laughed and responded, “If you want to play with him, you can just go find him. If you take the carriage, it will only take you half an hour.”

Lu XiaoBao’s bright eyes suddenly darkened as he recalled what he saw and heard that day. Becoming very angry, he then said, “I went there before, but it was really so unregulated that even the mistress can talk over the master. They may be the family of a fifth-grade official, but they are actually presided over by a concubine! Everyone says that a general’s household like ours is unregulated, but even we are not like that. Yu ZiAn is the legitimate son, but his status is no better than the daughter of a concubine, and he has to act accordingly to those lower than him. This really makes me angry.”

While saying that, Lu XiaoBao had jumped up from the ground and kicked the tree beside him angrily. The tree’s trunk, which was as wide as a bowl, then broke just like that. Zhuang Zhong swallowed while thinking: with such tremendous lethality at only eight years old, he would grow up even scarier in the future.

The people in the household have long been used to such things, and they cleared away the broken branches with calm expressions. There was no hesitation or pause at all, as if it had been expected.

“Next time when you fight, do take it easy, or else the person would have been broken by now.”

Lu XiaoBao nodded. “I never fight with those who do not provoke me. My father said that those who get into trouble by fighting for nothing are boorish people. Only those that fight reasonably are called heroes. However, at that time, I almost could not stand it anymore and was about to tear the unruly concubine apart. Who is she? She is just a plaything, but she dared to talk to me and my friend like that!”

Although Lu XiaoBao was young, he was imperceptibly influenced by his surroundings and understood the rules of the world. So, towards such people who did not follow the ethical code, he could only feel disdain. In DaYou, having a polygynous family was not common, and only officials of grade five and above were qualified to have concubines. For the rest, they could only take in concubines when they have no children by 40 years of age. More importantly, such concubines had status and were recognized legally, not including those without statuses like female entertainers and lowly concubines. However, even then, the status of concubines admitted into the family registry was low, and they were looked down upon by others. So, for Yin YueHan, although she was a high-ranking concubine and had a sister who was an imperial concubine, she was still considered a part of the lower class.

“That is not all. As soon as the concubine heard that I was the son of a general, she ordered him to stop playing with me ever again. If I go there again, they will only come up with all sorts of excuses to send me away.” As Lu XiaoBao thought of Yu ZiAn’s dejected expression while enduring such humiliation, his teeth ached with anger. If it were not for the fact that he did not want to give him trouble, he would not have cared that the other person was a woman and smashed her face!

It was normal for the literary and martial arts sides to not mesh well together in court. So, although the concubine’s speech was inappropriate, it was not unreasonable to make such decisions.

Zhuang Zhong’s eyebrows knitted together. “Then, what is the attitude of Yu ZiAn’s father?”

Lu XiaoBao’s mouth twitched. “ZiAn said that since young, he could count with two hands how many times he saw his father. Although he did not explicitly say it, I could see that his father was not very good to him, or why would he have let him be humiliated by that concubine like that.”

Zhuang Zhong felt deeply that such a father was really incompetent or even ruthless. However, every family had their difficulties. Notwithstanding a polygynous family, a husband, wife, and child could already generate a lot of issues, as interpersonal relationships were complex and easy to distort. Nevertheless, to treat his own son with such indifference only caused Zhuang Zhong to lose his favorable feelings towards the vice minister of the Court of State Ceremonial.

“You have learned how to read, so even though you cannot play together, you can exchange letters. Because life is difficult for him in his household, we should be friends, but let us not make things too hard for him. If you find the general posting not appropriate to use, you can use mine and put the Central Judicial Office on top of the letter.”

Lu XiaoBao’s eyes brightened, and he hugged Zhuang Zhong happily. For such a small fellow to be able to lift Zhuang Zhong up, he really did not know how to react to it.

“XiaoBao, you are really…”

“Cousin, you are the best.” Lu XiaoBao put Zhuang Zhong down and laughed foolishly. “You will fall if I pounce on you, so I can only lift you up in joy.”

“Next time, do not do this. Otherwise, how could I face other people?” Zhuang Zhong rubbed Lu XiaoBao’s head and continued, “Even then, this is only a temporary measure. If there is a chance, it will be better to do so openly.”

Lu XiaoBao nodded his head fiercely. “Yes, such a form of a clandestine affair2 Here, the original term used was “偷情” which usually refers to a clandestine/secret love affair between two people. In this case, the use of such term is indeed inappropriate XD is not right.”

Hearing that, Zhuang Zhong choked. “Who taught you such a term?”

Lu XiaoBao stuck out his tongue. “It was said by Zhou XiaoHao. When Li Hong’s sister and a scholar secretly communicated through letters, it was Li Hong who had covered for them. Zhou XiaoHu then said that this was a clandestine affair, causing Li Hong, who heard it, to get into a fight with him.”

Zhuang Zhong stopped smiling and said with a severe countenance, “Such a term should not be used anyhow. If it were spread, it would destroy Li Hong’s sister’s reputation.”

Lu XiaoBao agreed obediently, “Yes, I will not say it next time.”

Zhuang Zhong urged again, “Regarding the issue of Li Hong’s sister and the scholar communicating through letters, it should not be spoken of again either. It would not be good if it were spread to others.”

Lu XiaoBao scratched his head. “Zhou XiaoHu also said that it was not good to do so. However, Li Hong said that his sister mentioned that all scholars and ladies were like this.”

Zhuang Zhong frowned. Although DaYou was not as feudal as the Qing Dynasty, they still paid great attention to their reputation. Such a thing might be eulogized and praised highly in their forms of entertainment like traditional opera, but in actuality, it was not allowed in this world.

“Then why did the scholar not propose a marriage since both sides are deeply attracted to each other?” After saying that, Zhuang Zhong felt that it was a little inappropriate. After all, XiaoBao was still a child, and there was no point in speaking of such matters with him.

“Li Hong’s sister said that the scholar felt that he would not be able to let her marry in with glory if he had not yet gained a title from the examinations. So, it would only be a good time after he passed.”

Although his words had been said beautifully, Zhuang Zhong felt that this scholar was not reliable. Did this mean that if he could not pass in this lifetime, he would not ever get married? There were only a limited number of people who could pass. If he had real talent, it would be fine, but if he did not have any…

However, in the end, as an outsider, he was unable to interfere in such a matter. If he called it out with good intentions, he would only make a fool of himself trying to be smart. So, he could only tell Lu XiaoBao that such secretive communication was not right and that it would only be proper to do such things openly.

Unexpectedly, just right after this conversation regarding the secretive affair between lovers, Zhuang Zhong found a related case the next day while going over the files. The case had been solved by Official DaWei and, in line with his original style, was handled in an oversimplified way. Although it seemed reasonable on the surface level, there were actually many doubtful points if one looked closely. Furthermore, the murderer would be executed in five days, making Zhuang Zhong feel pressed for time.

The case file described that the murderer, Xu Sheng, and the deceased, Zhao ShuYi, had interacted secretly. However, there was a dispute during one night, and in a fit of drunkenness, Xu Sheng rashly smothered Zhao ShuYi to death. Later, he fled in a panic and even stole all of her jewelry and money from her house.

What made Zhuang Zhong unconvinced was the fact that the jewelry could not be found. The file mentioned that Xu Sheng had sold them, but he knew nothing about the process or who he sold it to. Besides, there was no evidence that Xu Sheng killed Zhao ShuYi. It was only determined that he was responsible for Zhao ShuYi’s murder because he had visited her house to engage in a clandestine love affair for the most part of the year.

Initially, Xu Sheng had not confessed to it either. He only said that he was drunk that night, and when he woke up, it was already after 3 a.m. Thinking that it was too late, he did not keep their appointment. The statement was also supported by Wu DeSheng, a friend who had drank with him that night. However, after being tortured, he admitted that although it was deep in the night, he went to find Zhao ShuYi and killed her.

It was not impossible for murder to happen if there was an intense clash of conflicts. Besides, at that time, Xu Sheng had been drunk and for him to accidentally murder in a drunken fit due to a dispute was possible. This was also the reason why the case had passed the review. However, Zhuang Zhong felt that there were still some doubtful points, and he especially took note of the lost jewelry.

As Zhao ShuYi’s parents did not see her come downstairs the next morning, her mother had gone up to call her and found that her daughter had died tragically. Her parents then hurriedly went to the Yamen to report the incident. Although Official DaWei was a muddlehead, he acted very quickly, unlike other officials who did things slowly. At that time, he immediately set out to the Zhao’s house and interrogated their neighbors one by one.

It appeared that, unlike her parents, the neighbors were very aware of Zhao ShuYi and Xu Sheng’s affair, and they revealed it during the interrogation. When Official DaWei found out, he also immediately went to fetch Xu Sheng. As Xu Sheng had drunk too much the night before, he was found still asleep and smelt strongly of alcohol. Official DaWei then brought him back for interrogation, where before long, Xu Sheng confessed to the crime. This case was also one of the many that gave Official DaWei his reputation for being able to crack cases in one day.

When they caught Xu Sheng, it was just after wushi3 “午时” (wushi) refers to the timing between 11am to 1pm.. When he was asked about the location of the jewelry, he only said that he had sold it to a random person. However, there was no information about where the silvers from the sale went, and he only said he unknowingly lost it somewhere.

After reading over the case several times again, Zhuang Zhong felt that there were really doubtful points. Whether it was the location of the jewelry or Xu Sheng’s motive for killing her, it did not stand the test. As time was extremely urgent, after organizing his thoughts, he then got up and headed to the prison of the Ministry of Justice.

Because ordinary people could not enter the death row cells easily, the jailer initially made it difficult for Zhuang Zhong. However, just by taking out the jade token Feng Huan had given him, he was immediately permitted entry. Although Zhuang Zhong felt smug doing so, he could not help but spurn himself, realizing it was truly easy to become corrupted with power.

The conditions of the death row cells were worse than the cells where Old Man Liu had been held previously. The atmosphere was gloomy, and it gave off the feeling of death.

The jailer bowed over with utmost respect. “Young Master, please come this way. This is the Xu Sheng that you are looking for.”

The cell was very unkempt, and Xu Sheng had been imprisoned for several months by now. His disheveled hair and dirty face were also completely in line with the description of his appearance in the file.

The jailer yelled, “Xu Sheng! Come here quickly. This young master has something to ask you.”

With an unsightly appearance, Xu Sheng dared not to dawdle and limped over from the corner, staring blankly at Zhuang Zhong.

“You are Xu Sheng?”

Xu Sheng only nodded and did not speak as if he was stupefied.

Zhuang Zhong coldly asked, “Did you kill Zhao ShuYi on the eighth day of April?”

Slight pain flashed across Xu Sheng’s eyes as he closed his eyes and nodded.

“You also stole Zhao ShuYi’s jewelry at that time. Where are they now?”

“They have been sold.” Xu Sheng’s voice was low and hoarse like he had not drunk water in a long time.

Zhuang Zhong proceeded to ask more questions in close succession, “Who did you sell it to?”

“I did not know them. They were just people passing by.”

“How much silver did you sell them for?”

“Five ah, no—ten taels of silver.”

Zhuang Zhong scolded him, “Exactly how many silvers was it?!”

Xu Sheng trembled and hurriedly responded, “Five taels, it was five taels.”

“What types of jewelry did it consist of?”

Xu Sheng had a face of confusion, but Zhuang Zhong continued to say directly, “Tell me every one of them and do not miss out on anything!”

Momentarily flustered, Xu Sheng’s mouth opened and closed, but no noise came out.

When the jailer saw that Xu Sheng was not answering, he was afraid that Zhuang Zhong would be unhappy and became anxious. He loudly yelled, “Young Master asked you something, speak quickly!”

To that, Xu Sheng only fell to the ground limply and kowtowed to beg for mercy. “I killed her, I killed her. I confess, I confess!”

  • 1
    “凌迟” (lingchi) used here was translated to “slow process” or “death by a thousand cuts”. It refers to a form of torture and execution used in ancient China where a person’s flesh was cut from the body in many slices, leading to a slow and painful death.
  • 2
    Here, the original term used was “偷情” which usually refers to a clandestine/secret love affair between two people. In this case, the use of such term is indeed inappropriate XD
  • 3
    “午时” (wushi) refers to the timing between 11am to 1pm.

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2 thoughts on “Chapter 33 – [Xu Sheng Case] Doubtful Points”

  1. Thanks for the chapter! Little detective ZZ is so cute. he’s so young but already so capable, I cant wait to see what he’s like once he’s all grown up~ 😊💙

    Reply

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