Chapter 087 Identifying the Murderer
Tie Hanfeng didn't say much to try to explain his disciple's presumptuous actions since the patrol commandant was present. All he did was stretch and yawn before lazily saying, "Ahh, look at my disciple. He's so good at sharing his Master's worries that he solved the case all by himself."
Gu Shenwei didn’t reply back, he simply revealed all of the information he had collected.
Nobody was serving wine in the morning at the tavern so Tie Hanfeng could only lick his lips over and over, eventually saying, "If this is the case, then the sibling are not only the witnesses, but are also likely the murderers. What a pair of ruthless bitches."
Gu Shenwei almost spoke up to contradict his Master. To him, the sister and brother pair were perfectly justified in their revenge. In comparison, Tie Hanfeng's sarcasm was nothing but talk that aided an evildoer in committing evil.
However, Zhong Heng didn't care about what Tie Hanfeng had said at all. He started talking with Tie Hanfeng in a roundabout manner again, the two chatting for a long time about random subjects like the weather, women, and wine as well as related topics like Golden Roc Castle and the Meng family in the northern Jade City. The conversation was neither consistent nor did it have a main subject, but as Gu Shenwei listened to it, he eventually figured out the hidden meaning in the message which made him grow more and more angry as the conversation continued.
"Then that's it."
"It has to be this way."
Once the two finished talking, Zhong Heng stood up to leave.
Tie Hanfeng grabbed another empty cup, glanced at it and casually dropped it on the floor, shattering it.
The waiters working at the restaurant slowly walked over and politely asked the Master and disciple duo to rest in another establishment. Tie Hanfeng complied and led his disciple out, entering a dilapidated brothel not long after.
Inside the brothel, everyone was sleeping, but Tie Hanfeng behaved as if he were walking inside his own home. He walked into a small room, grabbed the prostitute sleeping in the bed and threw her out together with the quilt. The prostitute cursed in a hoarse voice for a while before leaving to find another place to sleep.
Tie Hanfeng fell onto the bed in front of his disciple and said, "Make yourself comfortable."
Gu Shenwei preferred to stand. The small amount of a favourable impression he about Lame Tie yesterday had disappeared completely. "So, the problem is solved?"
"Even a puppy will grow up one day. What did you discover?"
"Haven't you already decided to blame the prince's death on the sister and brother of Xu family?"
"What do you mean by 'blame'? They're the biggest suspects and they disappeared in a strange manner. That means that they have a guilty conscience. You were used by them, but you didn't kill the prince yourself. That's it. However, you should not be too happy about it because we have to find the two kids to give an explanation to the Stone Country. It's not important whether they are dead or alive. The key is to find them."
This was Zhong Heng's so-called 'solving the problem'. Only now did Gu Shenwei understand what the patrol commandant meant. It was not important who the real murderer was. Rather, the only important thing and the core of the problem was who was the best candidate for being the murderer.
Besides the sister and brother duo of the Xu family, Servant Huan was the next best candidate. The whole matter also could have been smoothed over and easily wrapped up if an average Golden Roc killer's disciple was handed over.
Nobody knew what kind of measures Tie Hanfeng had taken to surprisingly save his disciple, leaving the 'problem' in the air again.
In the three days that Tie Hanfeng had bought, they had to find another 'appropriate murderer', a murderer who was justifiable and would settle any doubts. The siblings of the Xu family fit the image of being ideal candidates more than Servant Huan. They had killed their sadistic father as well as the prince who abused prostitutes for fun. Their motive was pure and clear. There was no secret plot and no one would vindicate them.
As for the patrol commandant, he didn't care about the real murderer was. He just wanted to continue to be an officer and eventually be promoted, which meant that he needed to settle the case quickly, satisfy everyone involved, and not have any fights start because of the case.
But Zhong Heng's saying had some truth to it after all. Following his theory about the 'problem', everything had already been decided beforehand. It was only that Gu Shenwei didn't know it and still wanted to find the murderer.
"No, I don't agree." Gu Shenwei didn't know why he said this. Did he want to seek justice or to disobey his Master? He was not sure, but he knew that he didn't want to frame the two siblings.
"Do you think that they've never killed someone?" Tie Hanfeng asked in a surprised tone.
Gu Shenwei didn't know what to say. He kept thinking about the dark side of the matter, but forgot that the sibling of the Xu family had full reason to kill Ju Gaotai and perhaps they were even the most justifiable ones out of everyone involved.
"Did you know? The older prince of the Stone Country borrowed a large sum of money from the Meng family through Big Belly Buddha. Now that the money is gone, it would be strange if it was not swept away by the two little bastards."
"There's still time, I can find the real murderer."
Tie Hanfeng lost his last bit of patience, jumping off of the bed and rushing over to his disciple all within one step. "Fuck your mother, who do you think you are? I have taken all the responsibility to save your dog life, and now you want to be a moral person. To tell you the truth, you're still dead if the pair of sister and brother can't be found by tomorrow night. Do not say that your Master hasn't tried saved you because by that time, I will personally carry your head down and give it to the Stone Country. No only was the prince was killed by you, Shen Yanshi was also killed by you. All the fucking bitches who died in the retention alley these past couple of days were killed by you."
Gu Shenwei thought that he would be angrier, but he calmed down instead. What was the point of arguing? He was as humble as a dog in Jade City. It was hard to save himself, not to mention saving others.
"No matter what, we have to find the sister and brother first."
Tie Hanfeng thought that his disciple had surrendered, so he snorted and lay down again.
Zhong Heng found the Master and disciple at noon and asked to meet them for lunch. He kept apologizing that he should have treated them to a better restaurant in the northern Jade City if he had a chance.
The day passed peacefully. Zhong Heng entertained the guests as a landlord and Tie Hanfeng returned the favor by treating Zhong Heng to a banquet of the same level in the evening.
Everyone was just chatting at the dinner table. Zhong Heng brought three military officer with him and Tie Hanfeng also invited an unknown person. The six of them were just drinking and talking about everything under heaven except the prince and the sibling of the Xu family.
To them, the case was over and they were just waiting for the end. As long as that sister and brother were arrested, the Jade City would became peaceful again.
After the dinner, Tie Hanfeng surprisingly didn't go back to the southwall tavern, but instead settled down at a relatively better brothel. There was no regular inn in this part of the city which meant that one could only go to a brothel to rest at night.
Gu Shenwei endured the sexual moans for more than half the night before he and finally fell asleep during the second half of the night. In his dreams he saw many strange scenes which he felt ashamed to mention when he was awake.
The final day arrived, and there was still no news about the siblings of the Xu family at dawn.
Tie Hanfeng appeared to be more silent than usual and his eyes towards his disciple contained a deep meaning. If a scapegoat couldn't be found, he would really have to kill his disciple with his own hands. Gu Shenwei was sure about it.
"I want to visit the Ju palace again." Gu Shenwei made a request after they met in the morning.
"I have to go there in the end anyhow, either me or my head. I'd rather walk there by myself."
Tie Hanfeng became suspicious but he didn't believe his disciple had any tricks left to play, so he agreed.
In order to avoid being suspected of visiting for a free meal, the Master, disciple, and Zhong Heng visited the Ju Palace again after lunch. The patrol commandant followed along as a witness.
The minister met the guests by himself, but he seemed preoccupied. There were many things weighing heavily on his mind: Would the younger prince be supported by all of the parties when he arrived home? How would they to dispose of the older prince's corpse since it wouldn't last through a long journey? How would they pay off the debt the two princes had accrued over the past ten years? Especially the last question. These last two days, there were lots of people trying to collect on the princes' debt, which meant that he had to put in a lot of effort to try to deal with them. The Stone Country did not have a large population or deep coffers, so the issue of the debt had turned into a large burden.
The minister had been complaining the whole time. He didn't even mention the issue of the murder and even treated Servant Huan, the main suspect, politely.
Everyone was waiting for the sun to set.
As the last sun ray hit the yard wall, only one messenger had arrived to deliver news. Without needing to ask, everyone already knew that there was still no news about the siblings.
"This…" The minister coughed and swallowed back the words on the tip of his tongue.
Tie Hanfeng still wore the habitual smile, but it had already distorted to the point that it could no longer conceal his angry face, which made the minister of the Stone Country fidgety.
"It is time to hand over the murderer." Gu Shenwei hadn’t said too much, now he stood up and spoke in a calm and low voice.
Tie Hanfeng looked at his disciple with surprise, Zhong Heng's face was full of sympathy, and the minister appeared to be also surprised. "Well, there's still a little more time, but it is almost up …"
"My lord, please invite the prince to come out. I think that he should personally meet the murderer."
The minister's mouth hung wide open as this was not the the solution that they had agreed upon in advance. Tie Hanfeng pounded the table and jumped to one’s feet, shouting, "The older brother died, the younger brother should at least look at the murderer, shouldn’t he?"
The minister trembled a bit before he glanced at Zhong Heng who remained impassive. Since the minister didn't get any support, he squeezed out a smile and said, "Yes yes, but the younger prince is too sad right now. I… I have to ask first."
The younger prince appeared, followed by many servants and several guardsmen. One of them was that bodyguard Ju and he angrily stared at Servant Huan as soon as he saw him.
The younger prince was a thin young man in his early twenties who had sorrow etched deep into his face. As he sat in the main chair, he nodded slightly towards his guests without saying a word. Even his posture was poor as he curled up in the chair like a sick man.
"This, the murderer has been caught, right?" The minister stood by the prince and asked.
"My lord, this little servant hopes that he can have this honor to present the murderer personally." Gu Shenwei bowed to the patrol commandant and deliberately ignored his Master.
Zhong Heng didn't immediately express his view, but turned to Tie Hanfeng instead. After a silently inquiry, he then nodded, “It'd be best if it could be avoided.”
Gu Shenwei's eyes glanced at everyone in the hall, and saw some servants moving around outside of the door, so he said:"The murderer is here, I hope that the door and window can be closed, just in case the murderer tries to escape."
"This, this is unnecessary…"
The minister looked at Zhong Heng and Tie Hanfeng with embarrassment and didn’t understand what was going on.
"Close the door and drive the people outside away."
The one who spoke was the younger prince. He seemed to be a bit interested now and sat up, staring curiously at the killer's disciple.
Someone went to shut the door and window and also drove the irrelevant people away. Tie Hanfeng lightly tugged on his disciple's sleeve, prompting Gu Shenwei to whisper back, "Master, I won't embarrass you."
This was the first time Tie Hanfeng had heard Servant Huan call out the word 'Master' in the past two months. He seemed to be touched as he sat back into the chair and stopped interfering the last bit of his fake smile disappearing.
Gu Shenwei also made a nod towards Zhong Heng. The patrol commandant somehow already knew his thoughts. After all, Gu Shenwei's whole idea was inspired by this lord.
To solve the problem instead of pursuing the truth.
Everyone retreated back to their original position, watching how the biggest suspect would hand out the 'murderer'.
"He killed the older prince. Please disarm his sabre and protect the younger prince."
Gu Shenwei calmly said as he pointed at bodyguard Ju.