Jing Rong’s nose twitched twice; and the magistrate hurriedly started to explain, “Prince Rong, Teacher Ji has worked hard the past few days. He should be tired. Yesterday, this lowly official had agreed to let him rest for a day. It would be better if…”
Jing Rong interrupted him, “It would be better if I come back tomorrow?”
For other people, they would feel nothing amiss when they heard those words, but in this situation, those words sounded like a “fault” to Liu Qingping’s ears. His whole body violently shook; he immediately kneeled and kowtowed. “This lowly official absolutely didn’t mean it!”
Jing Rong tightly knit his eyebrows. “Why do stately, benevolent officials always kneel at every single ghastly fault? Is there a law that requires you to kneel every time there is a fault made in the Great Qing Legal Code?”
Lang Po followed up. “There isn’t, Prince Rong.”
Liu Qingping’s face grew stiff as his complexion paled. He was a stately county magistrate, but… ‘You are as high above me as the venerated Buddha would be!’
“Just get up and stop kneeling at every turn.”
“Th-thank you Prince Rong.” Liu Qingping got up in a daze and lowered his head. He didn’t dare look directly at Jing Rong.
Jing Rong’s eyes narrowed slightly. His thin lips hooked upwards as an oppressive aura emitted from his body. He asked, “Lord Liu, since Teacher Ji belongs to the yamen as a worker, certainly he must have the peace and prosperity of the common people at heart, am I right?”
Liu Qinping meekly nodded. “You are correct.”
“Yesterday, my subordinates were found dead under tragic circumstances. Logic would dictate that you investigate the matter and uncover the truth for me, right?”
“Therefore, looking for him so that he can help resolve this murder case for me, is it a must, or not?”
“It’s a must!”
Jing Rong was extremely pleased. “Good. You have the time it takes for a cup of tea to bring him over.”
‘Ah? The time it takes for a cup of tea?’
This was clearly making things difficult for him! But Liu Qingping didn’t dare refuse. He anxiously moved backwards towards the door. “Y-y-yes my prince. This lowly official will go right away.” As soon as he got the words out clearly, he lifted his uniform and rushed out like a madman.
Jing Rong’s expression was stern, but now his doubts had woken. Lang Po stroked his jaw as he mused, “Prince Rong, from Lord Liu’s words, that Teacher Ji seems to possess the ability to draw the appearance of the deceased even if only their bones remained. Perhaps… he could help investigate that old case.”
Jing Rong remained silent, but the crease between his eyebrows remained. His long and narrow eyes now held a sly intent. After a long time, he asked, “If we include today, how long have we been away from the capital?”
“It’s been more than half a year.”
“We passed through how many counties?”
“More than a hundred.”
Jing Rong grunted but smiled with his eyes. Then, he brought the teacup to his mouth.
At the backdoor of the Ji family’s West Side courtyard, Liu Qingping raised his hand and knocked on the door. Luan’er hurriedly opened it and saw the county magistrate. The very sight of him stirred her displeasure.
“Hurry, hurry! Call Ji Yunshu! We’re going to the yamen. There’s a major situation, an earth-shattering situation.”
“Miss said that she wasn’t working today.”
Liu Qingping slapped his thigh and let out an “Aiya!” Sweating profusely from worry, he pushed through the half-opened door and charged into the courtyard in big strides.
When he reached outside the room, he rushed inside and yelled, “Yunshu, this official has come to find you. We absolutely must go to the yamen. If you don’t go, it will be difficult for me to keep my official hat! Please have pity and mercy on me, and go to the yamen with me!”
An official beseeching a commoner, this was unheard of!
Inside the room, Ji Yunshu was already awake by the time she heard the county magistrate’s voice. So, she slipped into men’s clothes, neither hurried nor slowed, and carried her sandalwood box under her arm.
‘Dressing like this… is Yunshu going to the yamen?’
Ji Yunshu tossed a sugar-coated lotus seed in her mouth and walked out of her room. As she stepped out, she saw Liu Qingping panicking, practically kneeling in front of her.
“Milord, what’s wrong?”
With no time to explain, Liu Qingping simply grabbed Ji Yunshu and rushed out.
“Hurry! Follow me! Someone is looking for you at the yamen. It’s an important guest. Not going is out of the question!”
Ji Yunshu was dragged along by Liu Qingping in big strides. Unable to take her wrist back from his strong grip, she frowned. “Milord, what is going on? Didn’t I tell the yamen runner that I’m not going to work today?”
The county magistrate was puzzled as his sight swept her up and down. She was dressed in men’s clothes and held her sandalwood box. Isn’t this how she usually dressed when going to work?
“You don’t intend to go to the yamen with me?”
Ji Yunshu shook her head. “No.”
“Then, where are you going?”
“The Zhou’s residence.”
Liu Qingping failed to understand. “Why are you going to Zhou Mansion? Their young miss has died, and they are going to bury her today. Hurry and follow me to the yamen.”
“The murder case of Zhou family’s young miss doesn’t need to be investigated?” Ji Yunshu softly inquired.
‘What? The murder case of Zhou family’s young miss?’
Liu Qingping widened his eyes, doubling in size. He felt as if someone had just scraped his spine. He asked in a trembling voice, “She didn’t accidentally fall to her death on that rock in her garden?”
Ji Yunshu stared at him. “I’ve always given you a written report of my cases when I finish. Didn’t I give you the report of the Zhou family’s case?”
“And, did I ever say that the Zhou family’s young miss accidentally fell to her death?”
Liu Qingping thought about it and shook his head. “You also didn’t mention that.”
‘How odd. Didn’t she fall to her death? How did it become a murder case?”