Chapter 162 Lesson
There were many signs pointing towards there being a high ranking spy in the Kun Society.
Shangguan Ru had been kidnapped at the deserted village. At that time, Gu Shenwei had already come to the conclusion that the spy must be very familiar with both Tenth Gongzi and Servant Huan because the spy knew the levels of both of their lightness skills.
The duel in the Rouge Forest showed that the assassin obviously knew Servant Huan’s tactic and had been staying close by.
Even fewer people knew of the assassination mission on Huang Shian, but they still fell in the trap of the enemy. If Gu Shenwei hadn’t called off the mission at the last moment, it was very likely that more than one killer would have died.
The first person Gu Shenwei suspected was Shangguan Yushi.
Yu Gongzi naturally didn’t intend to hurt or kidnap Tenth Gongzi. Her goal was to force Servant Huan into making an unforgivable mistake, so she could then use the castle’s power to get rid of him, or at least cause Shangguan Ru to lose all trust in him.
The only thing Gu Shenwei didn’t understand was why the assassin had tried to kill Ye Silang in the Rouge Forest.
These events were all intermingled. There seemed to be a connection between them but their purposes also seemed to be completely different. Gu Shenwei couldn’t explain all of them, so he didn’t tell Tenth Gongzi all of his hunches.
“Let me go find the spy.”
Spies and traitors were the types of people that Shangguan Ru hated most, but this time she was a bit hesitant. Gu Shenwei knew that Servant Huan’s status was declining in Tenth Gongzi’s mind.
“All right, but do not talk about it with others. I don’t want anyone to suspect or envy another.”
Gu Shenwei bowed and accepted, “I’ll go investigate alone.”
Back in Southern Jade City, Gu Shenwei thought over everything several times before realizing that the clues in his hands were so few that he didn’t even know where to start.
Lotus and the siblings of the Xu family had been quietly investigating Duke Gao’s death and had gathered much information, but none of it was helpful towards finding the real murderer. They weren’t even sure whether the real murderer still existed or not.
Young male companions were very popular in Jade City. Actually, most of the rich scions of the families in Northern Jade City kept one or two of these boytoys. Zhou Huan was a bit different. He was in his twenties, a bit too old to be a catamite. But his relationship with Duke Gao was very strong, to the point that even the Hengsheng rice shop was bought by Duke Gao.
Shopkeeper Mi had said that the two were in conflicts and this was true. They often quarreled like an ordinary couple. Their main fights were on Duke Gao’s fickleness in love, as he not only liked men but also women. Their last quarrel was fierce. It happened on the day Duke Gao sneaked into Southern Jade City at the end of the twelfth lunar month last year.
As a matter of fact, Duke Gao had come to visit Zhou Huan, but went to a prostitute after they quarrelled.
No one had witnessed the fight, but a few people had entered the Hengsheng rice shop afterwards and found that the whole shop seemed to have been ransacked by bandits. The debris and rice was scattered everywhere, and Zhou Huan was sitting on the rice bucket, giggling. But he got angry after seeing customers and drove everyone out.
In this sense, it was more than likely a true story that Zhou Huan had killed Duke Gao in a moment of passion and then commited suicide.
But Gu Shenwei still didn’t believe it. He had seen Zhou Huan’s corpse, and the wound was so deep that it didn’t seem to be something a suicide victim could have made. But he hadn’t seen any other corpses that resulted from suicide before, so he wasn’t sure if his judgement was right or not.
Either way, he had to do something.
The Patrol Commandant Zhong Heng accepted the killer Yang Huan’s invitation and came to Xu Yanwei’s home the next afternoon. As usual, he brought two junior officers with him.
They could be considered old friends now, so they talked happily as the feast was served. Gu Shenwei was not good at drinking, so he called the old sabreman Tuo Nengya and the siblings of the Xu family to drink with the guests and have a good time.
During the feast, Gu Shenwei first thanked Commandant Zhong for his support of the Kun Society, then slowly changed the topic to the death of Duke Gao. Xu Xiaoyi was a bit drunk now, so he was not as scrupulous as when they first met. He actually slammed the table and rose to his feet, “I don’t believe that Duke Gao was murdered by Zhou Huan. This wasn’t the first time they had a quarrel, so how could he kill Duke Gao due to a quarrel this time?”
Zhong Heng put down his wine cup, “I also don’t believe it.”
Gu Shenwei was a bit surprised, “Oh? What flaw has Commandant Zhong found?”
As he stroked his thin beard, Zhong Heng seemed to think about whether he should tell the truth or not, “Well, more than half of it is based on my experience and intuition. I’ve been exposed to many homicide cases, as well as suicide cases that occured for fear of punishment or repentance, but very few people were like Zhou Huan, who committed suicide after a few days. For normal people, it’s difficult to commit suicide, and they will either do it when they’re in a hysterical state or else they will never be able to do so.”
This was another explanation and Gu Shenwei thought it was quite reasonable. He had found the corpse on the fifth day of the first lunar month, and several experienced sabremen believed that Zhou Huan had died two or three days earlier, which was the second or third day of the first lunar month and three or four days after the death of Duke Gao.
Xu Yanwei took hold of her collar in horror, “Then it means that murderer killed two people. It’s so scary, Duke Gao was such a good guy.”
Prostitutes didn’t care much about clients having boytoys because there was no direct competition between the two.
“Duke Gao was too careless with money.” Zhong Heng ended the discussion after he said a sentence, and an officer immediately changed the subject. The second half of the feast returned to a normal, playful atmosphere.
The two officers took their leave first. Since Commandant Zhong was in a brothel now, he would not simply leave, not to mention Xu Yanwei giving him several hints during the feast. Having difficulty holding her drink, Xu Yanwei staggered to her feet and almost fell. The Commandant Lord caught her in time and carried her into the bedroom. When he came out again, everyone knew that it was time for the feast to end.
Zhong Heng had a perfect day, and his bones felt like they were about to melt away as he thought ‘No wonder those playboys of Northern Jade City like Southern Jade City. People living in the cleanest and safest city really needed a dirty spot to enliven themselves.’
Beauty and ugliness goes hand in hand, and since the most beautiful place exists, there should also be an ugliest place. The Commandant Lord had a lot of mysterious thoughts as he was in a trance, feeling that he had finally understood Laozi tacitly, and then fell asleep peacefully. 1
So, one could imagine how shocked Zhong Heng was when he woke up and found himself tightly tied up.
As he laid on the bed, Zhong Heng leaned against several pillows. The beauty beside him was gone, the room was pitch-black, and only the feeling of pain and numbness from the tight binding of the ropes was clear. Zhong Heng struggled for a short while before he soon calmed down and shouted, “Hall Leader Yang, what tricks are you playing?”
Only this Lord Zhong would take the killer Yang Huan’s titular identity ‘Hall Leader’ seriously and call his title sometimes.
Gu Shenwei was sitting in a corner, and he had been staring at the captive on the bed the whole time.
The scene at the moment was rather like the previous scene in another brothel, it was just that the position of the two had changed and one of them had ropes on their body.
“Please forgive me, my lord.” Gu Shenwei said casually, his voice void of any repentance.
“Forgive? Forgive what? Get this fucking rope off of me!” Zhong Heng couldn’t help but feel angry. This kid had eyes but failed to see Mt. Tai. He was kind to him, but the kid actually repaid his favor with ingratitude.
Gu Shenwei didn’t answer as he sat in the corner.
“Heh, what a young hero. The things Golden Roc Castle dare not to do was done by a killer. Hall Leader Yang, since you want to kidnap me, you should not have let go of the two officers. Although the Patrol Commandant isn’t a high-ranking officer, I’m still someone who could sit as equals at the same table with people of the castle. This time you’re quite mistaken.”
“I make mistakes all the time.” Gu Shenwei remained unmoved, “I might as well make one more mistake.”
As an officer, Zhong Heng had a lot of skills in dealing with people, but none of them seemed to work at the moment. He was stunned for a while before he suddenly understood and relaxed. Lying on the pillow, he said, “The killer and the prostitute, two of the world’s most untrustworthy people. I actually believed them and drank with them. All right, I lose. Tell me, what do you want?”
Cold light flashed in the blinking eyes of the person in the corner, “Excuse me, Commandant Zhong. What ‘problem’ did you want to solve by killing Zhou Huan?”
“Are you kidding me? I didn’t kill Zhou Huan.”
“Commandant Lord, do you still remember that you told me about the rice grains when I visited the Lord on the third day of the first lunar month. It was the clue that led me to the corpse of Zhou Huan.”
“So what? Am I wrong for being kind enough to tell you a clue?”
“It doesn’t mean anything. It went all too well. Zhou Huan died not long ago before Lord gave us a clue, as if Lord knew what had happened a long time ago. And it was an important clue, a clue that even the most inquisitive person in Southern Jade City had never heard of, which was also strange.”
“Huh, how old are you? A teenager? You’re as paranoid as an 80-year-old man.”
“Lord Zhong is an expert at ‘solving problems’. I just don’t believe that you would give us a clue casually.”
Zhong Heng kept quiet for a while. He was judging the seriousness of the situation, “You, you’re not serious, are you?”
“What’s the difference between the crime of abducting a Patrol Commandant and killing a Patrol Commandant?”
Zhong Heng swallowed a mouthful of saliva with difficulty. This teenager must be crazy, but … a crazy kid is sometimes even scarier than a crazy adult, especially when the kid is a killer. “Will you let me go?”
“I will once I hear the truth.”
“Aren’t you afraid of my revenge?”
“I’ll make an offer of compensation, and I’m sure the Commandant Lord will be satisfied and won’t expect me to die young.”
“Heh.” Zhong Heng forced a smile and began to wonder if the person in the corner was really a teenager or not, “Yes, I already knew that Zhou Huan was dead on the third day of the first lunar month, and I deliberately led you and Tenth Gongzi to find the corpse. I made up the story of the rice grains.”
This was the first truth. Gu Shenwei nodded, waiting to hear more truth.
“Zhou Huan wasn’t killed by me, and Duke Gao’s death also had nothing to do with me. As a patrol commandant, I perhaps only wanted to ‘solve problems’, but I’m also interested in the truth. I knew about Zhou Huan’s relationship with Duke Gao, so I directly went to him in the beginning. Zhou Huan was very emotional at that time, and he said that he knew who had killed Duke Gao, but he refused to tell me who it was. You know, people don’t have too much faith in the patrol commandant. He wanted to get revenge by himself, but when I went to him again on the second day of the first lunar month, he was already dead. That’s what it is all about.”
“You must have already had a reasonable guess in mind, my lord.”
“Guesses are worthless.”
“Not necessarily. The lesson I’ve heard from you, my lord, has benefited me a lot, so your guesses are naturally different from others.”
Zhong Heng smiled bitterly, thinking that the cost of teaching this killer was too big. “I guess it was Meng Fifth Gongzi. Duke Gao had swindled lots of money from him and he was very angry when he found out. Ai, now I know what it’s like when young people get angry. The Meng family got back a great deal of money a few days before the death of Duke Gao and therefore they lost the least amongst all the creditors. I think it was not accidental.”
Gu Shenwei had speculated about this, but he wanted to know more.
- Wikipedia: Laozi was an ancient Chinese philosopher and writer. He is known as the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching, the founder of philosophical Taoism, and a deity in religious Taoism and traditional Chinese religions. ↩