Chapter 770 – Did You Kill Them?
oh no… will he be able to reveal the murderer in time? Translator: Iris, Editor: Choufleur
Lang Po continued angrily, “There’s no way Zhang Daqi actually confessed to this. I bet Prince Yi sliced off his tongue and forced him to sign the confession. If he can’t talk, he can’t recount the details of the crime. We shouldn’t have let Prince Yi go yesterday. If he had simply killed Zhang Daqi instead, things would not be in such a mess now. If Zhang Daqi is really innocent, what do we do?” If it were up to him, Lang Po would have ordered the archers to kill Jing Yi in a rain of arrows.Strategy truly wasn’t his strongest suit.
Jing Rong countered, “If I hadn’t let him go yesterday, I might be the one that’s in the Ministry of Justice’s prison instead.”
“Why do you say so, Your Highness?”
“If we did not release Jing Yi, Zhang Daqi would be dead. The dead also can’t talk. Then all Jing Yi needed to do is to report this to His Majesty and accuse me of attemptedfratricide, you can picture the rest yourself.”
Oh!Realisation hit Lang Po.
Next, Jing Rong turned to Ji Yunshu, “You must have foreseen that outcome; that’s why you told me to release him.”
She nodded. “Prince Yi has always believed that the ends justify the means, whatever they may be. If we truly forced him into a corner, the situation would have become even more chaotic and dire.”
Exactly!Jing Rong spoke his thoughts aloud, “His Majesty has already ordered for Zhang Daqi’s execution to be held tomorrow. If he’s really not the murderer, then we only have one day to find the evidence to prove his innocence.”There’s no time to waste!
All of a sudden, Ji Yunshu said, “I would like to visit the prison in the Ministry of Justice.”
“Zhang Daqi is a heavily charged criminal, and His Majesty has ordered his execution. The Ministry of Justice would not allow any visitations at this juncture.”
“But if I don’t ask him now, I would lose the chance. It would be even harder to make sense of this case if he died.”
Lang Po scratched his head, “But he lost his tongue. You won’t be able to get anything out of him.”
He shrugged helplessly.
“I have a plan.” She looked at Jing Rong with imploring eyes. But it was not easy to grant her entry, Zhang Daqi would be kept in the most secure cells, and he would be executed tomorrow, the guards would be highly alert as well. Jing Rong racked his brains and tried to think of a solution…
Half an hour later, a carriage stopped outside the prisons of the Ministry of Justice. In addition to Jing Rong and Ji Yunshu, Vice-Chancellor Yu was also in the carriage.
Jing Rong cautioned, “Please be careful once you’ve brought Teacher Ji in, Vice-Chancellor Yu. And return as quickly as you can.”
“Please be at ease, Your Highness. I know what to do.”
Jing Rong then reminded Ji Yunshu, “If you can’t find anything, then don’t linger. It would be a disaster if anyone finds out.”
She nodded, “Got it.”
She was dressed as a minister from the Supreme Court, with a hat and two wisps of a moustache on her face. It would be impossible to recognise her without a closer look.
They alighted the carriage and walked to the entrance of the prison, Ji Yunshu played her role and followed Vice-Chancellor Yu dutifully. They were stopped by two wardens guarding the main entrance. “Vice-Chancellor Yu.”
The Vice-Chancellor glanced between the wardens and declared, “I need to speak to the criminal in the Case of the Dried Well, bring me to his cell.”
Huh?The wardens looked at each other and quickly explained, “His Majesty has already ordered for the criminal’s execution tomorrow, to visit him now would be…”
Vice-Chancellor Yu interrupted before the warden could finish. “What would happen?” He questioned sternly, “His Majesty may have issued a decree, but the case is still open in the Supreme Court. By stopping me, you’re obstructing justice and hindering the Supreme Court’s investigation. If anything goes wrong, would you be able to take responsibility?”
“Move aside then.”
“But… we’ll need to report to Lord Li.”
“No need. The Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Court are both working on this case. And we are conducting a more thorough investigation, your Lord Li can’t stop me. I don’t have the time to waste for you to go back and forth. Waste anymore of my time, the high-ups would go after the both of you. When things escalate till that point, you’ll both lose your heads.” Vice-Chancellor Yu pressured them with his t.i.tle, intimidating them. The two wardens weighed their options, both of them preferred to keep their heads.
And such, one of the wardens answered, “Vice-Chancellor Yu can follow me then.”
The warden led the way and the vice-chancellor followed. But when Ji Yunshu tried to follow them, the other warden stopped her. “Sir, access to the prison is restricted. Vice-Chancellor Yu can enter alone.”
Ugh!Ji Yunshu lowered her head even further as she stopped in her path, just in case they recognised her. Within moments, Vice-Chancellor Yu smacked that warden’s head. “He’s my scribe, he’s here to record the interrogation. I’ll need him to close the case in detail.”
“Yes…” That warden backed away with his hand over his head and stepped aside.
Vice-Chancellor Yu pulled Ji Yunshu along and they successfully entered the prison.
The Ministry of Justice’s prison was big, but wasn’t much different from any other prison. A musty, moldy smell a.s.saulted their senses, accompanied by the sour stink of foot odour, and the distinct stench of something rotting. Air circulation was poor and the stench only grew as they walked further into the prison. To be brutally honest, the prison was as smelly and disgusting as sewage.
They reached Zhang Daqi’s cell. The warden said,” Vice-Chancellor, he’s in there. But… he was already mute when they brought him in, you may not be able to learn anything from him.”
“That’s none of your business, just open the door.”
“He’s a dangerous criminal, it may be safer for you to question him from outside.” The warden replied meekly.
Vice-Chancellor Yu glared at him. “You know he can’t talk. How am I supposed to ask him anything with the wooden bars in the way?”
The warden shuddered as he took out the keys and opened the door.
Vice-Chancellor Yu then commanded him, “Alright, you can leave now. The Supreme Court will now begin our interrogation and others are not permitted to be present. We’ll call for you if we need anything.”
“Yes.” The warden left.
Vice-Chancellor Yu heaved a sigh of relief once the warden was out of earshot, then he whispered to Ji Yunshu, “Head inside, Teacher Ji. I’ll keep watch outside.”
“Yeah.” She quickly entered the cell.
Zhang Daqi sprawled on the floor of the prison cell, as if he was dead. Blood splatters dotted his torn clothes, exposing the lashes on his skin. The same crimson liquid stuck on his hay bed. He stared lifelessly at the ceiling without a sound, his eyes half-lidded. He opened and closed his mouth without a sound, revealing teeth still coated in blood.
Ji Yunshu squatted down next to him and called him. “Zhang Daqi? Zhang Daqi?”
Zhang Daqi whimpered and moaned a few times and his brows knitted together. He seemed to be afraid of her.
“Don’t be scared, I’m here to help you.” She explained gently.
“Ugh…” He struggled for a while then calmed down.
“If you wanna live, you have to tell me the full truth. I will ask you a few things, nod if it’s yes, shake your head if it’s no.”
Zhang Daqi opened and closed his mouth, as if he understood her.
Ji Yunshu began her questioning, “Did you kill him?”
“Ugh!” He shook his head with difficulty.
“So you did not kill him, but… you were there at the time, right?”
He did not respond.
“Things have gotten to this point, You don’t have to worry about anything else, or try to protect anyone.”
“You were there, and you witnessed the murder, right?”
Zhang Daqi’s face contorted in pain and agony, all seven scars on his face seemed to have crumpled together, as if he really does have some painful secret. After some time, he finally nodded as two streaks of tears ran down from the corner of his eyes.
Ji Yunshu pressed on. “You know that person right? That person is also from Zhang village, right?”
Suddenly, Zhang Daqi began to pant heavily and he grabbed the bloodstained hay on the floor as he kicked forward with both legs as hard as he could. “Ugh…”
He seemed to have lost control of his emotions and he was getting out of breath. His lifeless eyes suddenly grew as wide as saucers…