Chapter 088 Silenced
Gu Shenwei had just accused bodyguard Ju as the murderer. He was the person that Gu Shenwei had suspected on the first day, but ultimately Gu Shenwei had given up due to lack of evidence at that time. Tie Hanfeng couldn't help but be disappointed, thinking that his disciple hadn't followed through on his promise and was just embarrassing him.
"How dare you!", Bodyguard Ju shouted as he took a step forward while drawing half of his machete out.
The minister anxiously held him back and turned to patrol commandant Zhong Heng, saying, "Commandant Zhong, how did this happen? This is a humiliation for the Stone Country, and I hope that …"
At this moment, Gu Shenwei loudly said, "I have evidence." The room immediately quieted as everyone's attention was drawn towards him.
Zhong Heng was the only one who had no change in his facial expression, calmly saying, "There's no harm in listening to what he has to say."
Gu Shenwei's eyes swept through all of the people in the hall again, eventually settling on the younger prince, ignoring the angry bodyguard Ju.
He had figured out many things through guessing and wasn’t entirely sure how accurate they were. Everything would rely on how the prince in front of him reacted to his words.
"I know where the siblings of the Xu family are. They will prove what I said."
The crowd was stirred up as the words came out. The patrol commandant and Tie Hanfeng had mobilized lots of resources in searching for the siblings but failed. This teenager, however, claimed that he knew of their whereabouts. If this was true, then why didn't he catch them to clear his own charge?
"You know where they are?" Out of everyone there, Tie Hanfeng was the most surprised. He had already sent someone to search in southern Jade City when he was still at Golden Roc Castle and still hadn't had any results yet. His disciple was a complete stranger here, how could he have found the needle in the haystack?
Gu Shenwei still looked at the younger prince, observing every slight move and change in expression he made. As he did so, he asked, "Lord commandant, please send someone to investigate whether any nobles of the Stone Country entered the city from the east and west gate the day before yesterday and whether these 'nobles' lived near the Ju palace or even in the Ju palace."
"Please do not believe his nonsense! Your highness, please allow me to avenge the elder prince and kill him."
Bodyguard Ju drew his machete, shocking the minister who promptly jumped aside. He still tried his best to persuade the bodyguard, "Don't do this, alas, how did it come to this …"
Gu Shenwei mustered all of his will and continued to stare into the younger prince's eyes. If he was right, the second prince would react before Zhong Heng sent somebody out.
Zhong Heng also felt uneasy because he had now figured out the teenager's intentions, but didn't want to participate in it, "Uh, this …, now it's time to …"
"I'll send someone to check." Tie Hanfeng stood up, "Everything will be clear in no more than an hour, if my disciple lied, I'll cut his head off with my own hands."
Tie Hanfeng limped towards the door, but Gu Shenwei didn't glance at his Master. He just continued to stare all out at the sick young man on the chief chair.
"Wait a moment."
The younger prince finally spoke. Gu Shenwei's heart lept into his throat but his face remained expressionless.
"Your highness!" Bodyguard Ju was badly startled and could only look at the younger prince with his machete hanging at the side.
"Listen to what he says first. It's not too late to look around if what he says is reasonable."
Tie Hanfeng stopped. He didn't return to his seat but instead stood behind his disciple, as if he would go grab the siblings of the Xu family at any time.
Gu Shenwei knew that what he was going to say next would be very important. It needed to be unassailable and could not reveal a guilty conscience. He had thought about it for a long time, but still wasn't very confident in his chances.
"Here is the thing. Bodyguard Ju didn't want to go back to his country. Instead, he wanted to stay in the Jade City. He killed the elder prince so that he could stay here under the pretense of guarding the tomb."
"Bullshit!" Bodyguard Ju lifted his machete again.
Tie Hanfeng took one step forward to protect his disciple before the younger prince raised his hand to stop the bodyguard, "Let him finish."
"Please forgive this little servant's rudeness. The two prostitutes at the retention alley were greatly favoured by the elder prince and bodyguard Ju naturally saw them quite often. In fact, he saw one of them so often that he fell in love with her, Xu Yanwei. Bodyguard Ju then used part of his surname Ju to call himself 'Mi Gongzi'' and became a guest of Xu Yanwei."1
"Bullshit!" Bodyguard Ju refuted again, but his voice was not as loud this time so no one stopped him.
"The Xu siblings couldn't bear their own father's abuse, so they plotted to kill him. Naturally, they first discussed this with 'Mi Gongzi'. 'Mi Gongzi' didn't want to join them so he persuaded them to find a killer, but he actually had his own machinations. He knew the plan of the Xu siblings and he also knew that the elder prince had just borrowed a large sum of money from Big Belly Buddha. With this information, he became greedy for both the people and the money. What happened next was that Xu Xiaoyi asked me for help. I killed Big Belly Buddha and his bodyguard while 'Mi Gongzi' killed the elder prince. He then immediately tried to hide both the money and the sister and brother of the Xu family. He used passports of the Stone Country to have the siblings legally enter the northern Jade City. However, his plan was discovered by another prostitute, so 'Mi Gongzi' killed another person yesterday at midnight. I think that second prince still remembers that bodyguard Ju was not in the Ju palace and that he was also not in Ju palace yesterday at midnight. Additionally, if someone checks the seal of this lord, one will find that it had been used. "
The hall was in dead silence. This teenager's story was vivid, almost as if he had seen all of it by himself. However, he did not bring out any concrete pieces of evidence. Unless the siblings of the Xu family was really caught nearby, his words would remain worthless.
The minister walked close to the younger prince and whispered, "Your highness, you don't have to …"
The second prince raised his hand to stop the minister, and said lightly to bodyguard Ju, "Ju Zhan, you've done such an outrageous thing. Haven't you ever considered your elders, your children, and your wife? For a prostitute, it really wasn't worth it."
"Your highness …" Bodyguard Ju's voice trembled, and he glanced at the machete in his hands. "Your highness, please forgive this little one's wife and son. They're innocent."
Things suddenly changed and bodyguard Ju surprisingly confessed to the crime. He raised his machete, as if he was going to commit suicide; however, a glint flashed in his eyes and he jumped high in the air and brandished the machete at the bare-handed Gu Shenwei.
Gu Shenwei could have dodged the attack, but his Master moved much faster than him. Tie Hanfeng also jumped high in the air and attacked bodyguard Ju. The two met in midair and then landed. Tie Hanfeng was holding a machete and bodyguard Ju became empty-handed, his head rolling to the feet of the minister.
The minister almost fainted but luckily, the younger prince's footmen held him and he managed to stay standing.
Tie Hanfeng put down the machete, and bowed, saying, "Your highness, please forgive my rudeness."
"It's my country and my family's scandal. I am sorry that it has bothered everyone."
The younger prince was still sickly in appearance but both the blood and tragedy seemed to not affect him. He got up, walked towards the door and stopped when he passed by the killer's disciple, asking, "How about that sister and brother pair? Are they also bodyguard Ju's accomplices?"
"No, they just wanted to kill Big Belly Buddha and were used by others."
"Oh, then they're still guilty."
"No, they're not. Big Belly Buddha deserved his death and the one killed him was me, not them."
The younger prince suddenly became angry, saying, "Whatever" before leaving with his footmen.
The minister felt drained by the excessive amounts of drama that had just taken place, but he was still dedicated. He properly expressed his gratitude and sent the three guests away.
Zhong Heng walked the Master and disciple to the north gate of the city. Then, he and Tie Hanfeng politely chatted for awhile before he said, "Brother Hanfeng, you have a good disciple. The solution was far better than I expected. At least this is now the Stone Country's family scandal and no matter what, they will not change their mind after they return to their country."
Tie Hanfeng grinned and this time, the smile was genuine, not the disguised smile he usually wore, "Huh, Lord Zhong praises me too much. Without Lord Zhong's help, what could a little kid could do?"
Zhong Heng turned to Gu Shenwei, "Are you from the Central Plains?"
"Yes, but I was sold to the Western Regions when I was little, and eventually entered Golden Roc Castle."
"A promising kid, I hope that we can meet each other again in the future."
Gu Shenwei called out for Zhong Heng one more time before he was about to leave, "Lord Zhong!"
"Do you have anything more to say?"
"Are the sister and brother of the Xu family innocent?"
Zhong Heng revealed a smile, "People who kill in southern Jade City are innocent in northern Jade City."
The Master and disciple retrieved the horses and sabres that they had deposited at the gate of the city and as night fell, led the horses to walk up the mountain. Tie Hanfeng's smile was gone as he said, "What a good kid, you really had kept your Master in the dark this time."
"Disciple didn't dare to hide it from Master. It was merely that I wasn't confident in the matter and didn't want to incriminate others."
"Why didn’t you drag the siblings of the Xu family out earlier?"
"What if they said too much and the problem became bigger? It was better not to see them."
Tie Hanfeng was stunned for a bit but quickly recovered and shook his head, unable to help revealing a faint smile. He cursed with smiling for a while, then seriously said, "You do know that that bodyguard didn't need to be that rich to be Xu Yanwei's guest, don't you?"
"Yes, I do. But I was sure that he killed the elder prince, so he was the 'real murderer'."
"How did you figure it out? To be honest, I also knew who killed the older prince, but I couldn’t think of those details."
"When I treated the whole matter as a problem to solve, everything was clear. The detail was not important and the truth was also not important."
Tie Hanfeng glanced at his disciple as silence lingering in the air for a long time before he said, "From now on, I will look at you with new eyes."
Gu Shenwei thanked the patrol commandant Zhong Heng at his heart. Although this person had his own goals, the way he taught him to observe things could be used for a lifetime.
There was actually another version of the elder prince's death on his mind, a version that was closer to the truth:
The real 'Mi Gongzi' was not the bodyguard Ju, but the younger prince. He wanted to seize the throne and also wanted to take away his elder brother's woman. Perhaps he really liked Xu Yanwei, but the fact that he immediately wanted to silence them when he was seen through indicated that he had the will of a real prince and qualified for the forthcoming crown.
Bodyguard Ju had worked himself to the bone for the two princes because he didn't want to return to his former country to be a humble bodyguard and instead wanted to stay at the Jade City with his wife and children. Thus, for his wife and children, he sacrificed himself and became the new lord's scapegoat.
Body guard Ju's excessive anger betrayed him when they first met. In fact, he should not have shown up.
That minister, even if he was deceived since the first day, must have figured out the truth later on. He didn't have a choice. At least he could take comfort in the fact that a licentious future king had died.
With the whole matter over, Gu Shenwei didn't want to think anymore. He just hoped that the siblings of the Xu family could escape from this misfortune.
Gu Shenwei felt much more comfortable after returning to the castle, but the whole matter didn't neatly end there as he thought it would. The prince of the Stone Country was no longer a problem, but Big Belly Buddha was not a person who could be casually killed. He was the Meng family's servant in the northern Jade City and Gu Shenwei still owed an explanation.
The good news was that policemen had found the siblings of the Xu family. After they took back the silver, they found that there were two copies for the written pledge of the debt. Big Belly Buddha had deceived both sides and privately embezzled much of the money, which lessened the Meng family's anger towards the ignorant disciple.
In the end, Gu Shenwei was punished with a forced confinement at east castle for ten days, then he was reduced to a humble house-serf at Bai Yi Yuan. When he went to the southern Jade City again one month later, he found that the 'business' he had privately accepted was still not wrapped up.
Translator's note: Ju (鞠), Mi (米). ↩