Sun ChaoYang went forward. Zhuang Zhong pointed at the hipbone of the skeleton and said, “Look here. Both sides of the hip bones and even the tailbone1Here, the author used “左右臀骨”, “谷骨” and “尾蛆骨”. While I was able to search the first and third ones as hipbones/pelvis bones and tailbone respectively, I was unable to find anything regarding the second bone. In the end, I decided to omit it as the other 2 bones seemed to cover the area in question in a general skeleton layout. are slightly red, and there are some traces of black blood too.”
Sun ChaoYang carefully looked over the bones and found out that it was indeed so. He then asked Jin Hong, “Did the deceased get moved after being placed in the coffin?”
Jin Hong replied, “Never. He has been buried here ever since. This coffin was also something that we personally chose for him because this woman wanted to send him off in a thin coffin!”
Sun ChaoYang nodded. “Just now, when we opened the coffin, everything was intact, and it was not tampered with before. We can then determine that this was an injury he received before death.”
“According to the skeleton, it can be inferred that the deceased was a man around 20 years old. There is a sign of fracture an inch above his right leg. As bone fracture marks can only disappear after around three years, it can be determined that the fracture occurred three years before his death. Because it was not joined back properly, it would have also affected his walking ability, making his leg a little lame.”
After hearing that, Jin Hong immediately cried out, “Yes, that is correct. My brother sprained his foot before and found a doctor to set his bone. However, it was not done well, and by the time he found out, it was already too late. That was how he ended up a cripple.”
“From your words, the deceased can be determined to be Jin Jiang.”
Here, Sun ChaoYang felt puzzled. “How do you determine the age of the deceased based on bones?”
Zhuang Zhong replied, “The growth and development of bones are closely related to the occurrence, development, and coalescence of ossification centers2 “骨化中心” is apparently the “center of ossification”. It refers to the site where bone begins to form into a specific bone or part of bone. , which makes it possible to infer the age according to the state of the ossification centers and coalescence of the skeleton. Essentially, as a human body matures, the skeleton frame will change from small to large, short to long, and age with time. So the size, length, and changes of bone tissue can also allow one to infer the age of the deceased. After all, bones do not grow after death. However, regarding these injuries, even if they are not evident on the surface, they will still remain on the bones and could be discovered with careful examination. Besides, there is a difference between the damage the deceased suffered before and after death. So, as long as there is minimal damage to the bones, there are many things that can be deduced.”
Hearing that, Sun ChaoYang was full of admiration. “Originally, I only heard about your abilities but have never seen it, so I thought it was an exaggeration. After all, how much can you know at such a young age? However, it was I who was like a frog in a well to look down on others. It is really true that the younger generation will surpass the older.”
Zhuang Zhong replied with a smile, “I also obtained such knowledge from other capable people. If Teacher is interested, we can discuss it in private. Now, we should solve the case first.”
Sun ChaoYang became even more pleased to hear this. He had liked Zhuang Zhong’s modesty and seriousness before, and this had increased his good feelings about him. There were many talents in this world, but not many were willing to share, causing many rare skills to disappear. If he could learn more, he would be able to solve a case better in the future.
Zhuang Zhong then took out a magnifying glass. His eyebrows knitted together as he mused, “The blood is stuck to the bones, and there is black blood. This means that the deceased suffered from internal bleeding before dying. The previous forensic examiner must have only examined the surface and did not probe further, so he did not know how he had died.”
Meanwhile, Sun ChaoYang, who was not as knowledgeable as Zhuang Zhong but very rich in experience, suddenly exclaimed loudly after a while, “It is an injury that came from the blast of a firecracker!”
As soon as he said that, Ji-shi became paralyzed.
“Firecrackers?” For some time, Zhuang Zhong did not understand what he meant.
Sun ChaoYang became quite embarrassed, and the gaze he sent towards Ji-shi was peculiar.
“Ah?! You mean…” Zhuang Zhong reacted quite quickly. As his eyes widened, his chrysanthemum3 “菊花” (literally “chrysanthemum”) is a common slang used to refer to one’s anal opening. Usually used in the context of bl novels. clenched. The ones who managed to think of such an extraordinary killing method were really too perverse and amazing! It had taken him some time to understand because he had looked down on the creativity of the people from the past.
“Ji ShuYuan, why are you still not admitting it?! Jin Jiang, your former husband, was murdered cruelly, and the evidence is sufficient. If you confess about your accomplice, this official will ensure that your death would not be that painful.”
For a wife to secretly murder her husband was a very severe crime in DaYou, and it was equivalent to the act of harming one’s parents. Those responsible would be brutally tortured as punishment which was much more torturous than being beheaded. On the other hand, the regulations regarding a man killing his wife was not as strict, a typical gender discrimination.
Ji-shi knelt on the ground. “This-this has nothing to do with me!”
Sun ChaoYang coldly hummed, “Even now, you dare to quibble. Whether you admit it or not, you will not be able to escape, as there is sufficient evidence. Despite reaching this point, you are still insistent on not admitting it. It seems like you will not change your mind without some punishment! Someone bring the kia quen4“夹棍” (“kia quen” or literally “pinching sticks”) is a torture technique that consisted of positioning three wooden or bamboo boards, connected by rope, around and between the suspect’s bare feet. The construction of the device enabled the boards to be either snapped open and closed (like the wings of a butterfly) or gradually tightened. Each time the prisoner refused to testify or confess, the rope was pulled smartly and the boards either whacked sharply at the ankles or slowly squeezed the feet ever more tightly. here.”
When Ji-shi saw the kia quen, she became entirely paralyzed. “I confess, I confess.”
Ji ShuYuan and her cousin, Guan sanlang, had long been engaged in a secret love affair. However, they coveted Jin Jiang’s property, and she decided to marry him. As expected, Guan sanlang maintained contact with her in the name of being her cousin while Jin Jiang was kept in the dark.
Even then, there was no such thing as an entirely concealable thing in the world, and Jin Hong somehow managed to catch wind of it. Since some time ago, Jin Hong has long been unable to stand Ji ShuYuan, who acted coquettishly but did not know how to manage a household. She also could not bear the sight of Guan sanlang, who would only cause trouble and mess up the store.
One day, Jin Hong then pulled Jin Jiang to the side and advised him with good intentions, “It is fine that your wife does not know how to serve you properly. However, how can she let her cousin make such a mess in your store? I heard that the both of them are having a secret affair. You should pay greater attention in case you are being cheated on.”
However, Jin Jiang was a simple and honest person. He felt that it was a blessing to marry such a beautiful Ji ShuYuan and had never suspected her unfaithfulness. Listening to his sister’s words, he then recalled how his wife had suffered grievances because of his sister and angrily refuted, “Sister, don’t talk nonsense. My wife treats me very well, and it is normal for her to be close to her cousin she had grown up with. Besides, her cousin is a person full of ideas. Although it looks like he is creating a mess in my store, I am actually still making money. You should not suspect them carelessly and sow discord among us.”
Jin Hong felt exasperated. “How can you be this narrow-minded! As your sister, would I harm you?”
“Then what evidence do you have to prove that my wife and her cousin are committing adultery together? Sister, do not listen to hearsays. My relationship with my wife is good, and there is no need for you to worry about it.”
Jin Hong became frustrated. “Why have I become a person who is driving a wedge between you all? Your wife is always acting coquettish, and many people are already waiting to ridicule you. I had even said before that such a person was not appropriate. At that time, you had so many qualifications, and the girl from the Sheng family was pretty insistent on marrying you, so why must you marry such a…”
Here, Jin Jiang roared, “Sister, I will really get angry if you continue saying such words!”
Jin Hong knew that although her younger brother was the most honest, no one could do anything when he became obstinate. She sighed, “Fine. You have already grown so big, and it is unlikely that you would listen to your sister’s words now. Anyway, what I want to say has already been said. You should think about it well, or it would be too late to cry over spilled milk.”
In the end, Jin Jiang did not take Jin Hong’s words to heart, as he firmly believed that his wife was not such a person. He even turned around and joked to Ji-shi, “There are rumors that you are cheating on me outside, and it was said as if it was the truth.”
Ji-shi’s heart thumped, and she cried suddenly in grievance, “Husband, I abide by the proper principles of a woman and only love one person who is my husband. Why do others want to slander me like this? Husband, you must believe that I am faithful. As for my cousin, he is someone you invited, and it has nothing to do with me. If you suspect that we are having an affair, you can evict my cousin out of the shop tomorrow. I would not oppose it!”
As Ji-shi cried prettily, Jin Jiang’s heart ached, and he pacified her, “I am only mocking those people who are jealous that I was able to marry such a wonderful woman. I never suspected you, and I know that the both of you are innocent. After all, I am not blind and am the most clear about this. Those people just have nothing better to do, so they like to judge others. I, your husband, am not a muddlehead and would not trust other people’s nonsense easily.”
When Ji-shi saw that he was being truthful, her heart slightly loosened. In the evening, she was also more attentive when waiting on Jin Jiang, making him very comfortable.
The next day, Ji-shi went to find Guan sanlang. “Cousin, we cannot continue on like this. That cripple has started to become suspicious.”
Guan sanlang smiled evilly, “No need to become anxious, as I have already thought of a good plan. Lend me your ear.”
After listening to his whispers, Ji-shi’s eyes widened. “Can we really do this? What if it is discovered?”
“Who can see the injury when it is inside? At that time, you just have to say that he died suddenly. Even if others cannot find anything, they cannot hold you responsible. After that, we can inherit his store and have a good life together. We also do not have to sneak around and let you suffer.”
Ji-shi grumbled coyly in Guan sanlang’s arms in reply, “Cousin, with you around, I do not find it sufferable at all.”
When night fell, Ji-shi was letting down her hair in front of the dresser while Jin Jiang was on the bed.
“My wife is truly getting more and more beautiful.”
Ji-shi gave him a displeased look. “If I do not have my present appearance, would you still accept me?”
Jin Jiang laughed in reply, “Of course. Any appearance of yours I would also like.”
“You only know how to be honey-tongued.”
Jin Jiang stood up and hugged Ji-shi from behind. “Today, I did well. What reward will my wife give me tonight?”
Ji-shi poked Jin Jiang’s nose and replied, “We have already been husband and wife for some time. Why are you still so indecent?”
“It is exactly because we have been married for some time that we should try something fresh.” Jin Jiang ambiguously replied as an unrestrained expression appeared on his usually honest face.
As Ji-shi whispered in Jin Jiang’s ear, his eyes suddenly brightened, and he directly jumped onto the bed before patting the edge. “Then what are we still waiting for?!”
“Look at your impatience. It is not as if you have not experienced it before.” After saying that, Ji-shi took out two silk strips from the dressing box and tied up Jin Jiang’s hands and feet, making him smile excitedly.
“Wife, why are you still not coming over to serve your husband?”
The edges of Ji-shi’s mouth raised slightly. “You can come out now.”
Suddenly, someone jumped out from behind the bed. When Jin Jiang took a look, it was Guan sanlang.
“Cousin, what are you doing here?” Jin Jiang was panicking.
As Ji-shi covered Jin Jiang’s mouth with a handkerchief, Guan sanlang peeled off Jin Jiang’s trousers and turned him over to reveal his pale buttocks. Jin Jiang struggled incessantly, but because his hands and feet were bound and he was pressed down by two people, he could not move.
Guan sanlang said with a smile, “Today, I will let you taste extreme ecstasy.”
Saying that, he took out two sticks of firecrackers from his pocket and thrust them forcefully into Jin Jiang’s chrysanthemum until they were fully submerged, leaving only the fuse outside.
“Should you or I light it?”
Ji-shi gave him a look of reprimand, “Cousin is really…how can I do this kind of thing?”
Guan sanlang laughed as he lit the fuse. With two “bang” sounds, the firecrackers exploded inside Jin Jiang. Jin Jiang, who was gagged, then released a hum before his eyes rolled back into his head and he died.
“You vicious woman! Return my brother’s life! Return my brother’s life!” Jin Hong cried as she lunged towards Ji-shi, who dodged and refuted, “It was not me who lit the fuse. It was him, it was him!”
Guan sanlang, who was currently being dragged over, retorted furiously, “How can you, this vicious woman, blame me for your idea? You were the one who told me that you were dissatisfied with Jin Jiang’s ugliness and crippled state. Unable to part with his property, you then ordered me to kill him. However, now, you are blaming all this on me.”
With the sounds of the wooden gavel, the Yamen runners pulled the three people who were tussling with each other apart.
“Ji ShuYuan, Guan sanlang, it is not enough for you two to commit adultery but to also murder Jin Jiang ruthlessly for monetary gains. If both of you are not punished severely, such injustice would be intolerable by the heavens! Someone drag them away and execute them immediately!”
Meanwhile, Zhuang Zhong searched for Sun ChaoYang and said, “For such a tragic death to be not discovered at that time, it seems that DaYou’s autopsy was conducted too carelessly.”
Sun ChaoYang sighed, “The wound is inside the anal opening, and it is a private place. Most people would just conduct a rough examination, so they would not have known.”
Zhuang Zhong shook his head and sighed, “A human’s life is as great as the heavens. To rigidly adhere to customs would only leave the dead unsettled and let those responsible escape scot-free. When conducting an autopsy, one not only has to examine the outside but also dissect and examine each part carefully so as to know what the deceased suffered before death. Otherwise, if the criminal takes advantage of such loopholes and targets one’s secret places, the real cause of death would be unable to be discovered. Teacher, I think it should be clearly stipulated that the examiner must examine the mouth, nose, eyes, and other parts during the autopsy, especially the lower orifices, before going to the abdomen area. After all, as seen from this case, it would be traceless if the murderer decided to target this area. With the anal opening stuffed closed, the explosion was directed towards the abdomen. Even if one opens the coffin and conducts an autopsy after many years, the body would have rotted until only bones were left. Without the evidence of sharp weapons and experienced people, it would have been difficult to find out the truth. So, regarding the anal opening, the vaginal orifice, and so on, one should not avoid it because of taboo. The real disrespect to the dead is when one cannot find out the real culprit.”
Sun ChaoYang agreed with a stern countenance, “Your words are reasonable, and I will send in a memorial as soon as I return. Nothing is more important than human life, and no crime is greater than the death penalty. As long as we find out the real culprit, we can save more lives. Besides, if the examination is not correct, the injustice of the dead would not be cleared, and it would be passed on to those living, shaking the country’s foundation.”
In the end, due to the bizarreness of the case, it received great attention, and Sun ChaoYang’s memorial was quickly approved. Not only that, he also did not forget to mention Zhuang Zhong in his submission, giving Zhuang Zhong all the credit for solving the case and mentioning that he conducted himself well. So, Emperor Qian Xing not only promoted Sun ChaoYang a grade but also gave Zhuang Zhong a handsome reward, making his purse heavier. Essentially, the most important thing was that despite not holding an official post, Zhuang Zhong’s reputation had increased greatly, and no one had dared to underestimate him.
No matter how many times I read this, it still gives me the same sense of incredulity. I guess the title of the previous chapter could be considered as a sign of foreshadowing then haha
Next up: some relationship development and investigation progress regarding YuanJue’s death
- 1Here, the author used “左右臀骨”, “谷骨” and “尾蛆骨”. While I was able to search the first and third ones as hipbones/pelvis bones and tailbone respectively, I was unable to find anything regarding the second bone. In the end, I decided to omit it as the other 2 bones seemed to cover the area in question in a general skeleton layout.
- 2“骨化中心” is apparently the “center of ossification”. It refers to the site where bone begins to form into a specific bone or part of bone.
- 3“菊花” (literally “chrysanthemum”) is a common slang used to refer to one’s anal opening. Usually used in the context of bl novels.
- 4“夹棍” (“kia quen” or literally “pinching sticks”) is a torture technique that consisted of positioning three wooden or bamboo boards, connected by rope, around and between the suspect’s bare feet. The construction of the device enabled the boards to be either snapped open and closed (like the wings of a butterfly) or gradually tightened. Each time the prisoner refused to testify or confess, the rope was pulled smartly and the boards either whacked sharply at the ankles or slowly squeezed the feet ever more tightly.