TIGR Chapter 17
The Imperial Guard’s Revenge
Chapter 17 The Real Culprit
Once Lu Heng recognized that the pearl fell from a shoe, it made it much easier to recognize the target. Lu Heng quickly found the shop that made this kind of shoe and Wang Yanqing compared the bead to the sample. She found that the pearl sewn on the toe of the shoe was the exact same as the one Liang Fu picked up.
Wang Yanqing put it down and nodded gently to Lu Heng. Lu Heng thought to himself that it was still necessary to bring a woman when investigating cases, at the least, it was much more convenient for her to check these kinds of evidence from women. Lu Heng looked at the shopkeeper and asked: “Who has bought these shoes?”
The shopkeeper rubbed his hands together, embarrassed: “Official, our shop is a small business, and we only make clothes for family members of officials and wealthy businessmen. Shoes and socks are private matters for women, it is not convenient to disclose them to outsiders.”
The shopkeeper thought that after revealing their store’s personal connections, ignorant customers would retreat and awkwardly back out of the situation. However, the man whose skin was so outstanding that he could be called beautiful just looked at him and smiled, and calmly took out an iron token.
The shopkeeper glanced at the token, vaguely scanned the word “Imperial”, and did not dare look further. The shopkeeper’s forehead was leaking with cold sweat, and he said with a smile: “It turns out thta you are a Master of the Imperial Guards. Master, please wait a moment, I will go retrieve the accounts book.”
After Lu Heng revealed his identity, everyone became very talkative. The shopkeeper quickly brought the account book and Wang Yanqing turned the pages one by one. She suddenly pointed to a spot and said to Lu Heng: “Second Brother, look here, Liang Wen Shi ordered a pair of shoes here early last month.”
Liang Wen Shi bought the new product then, with the pearls on the toe cap, which would have been specially made for Liang Wei’s grieving period. Lu Heng made a rough calculation, according to the degree of wear and tear of the beads, the time length was also appropriate. The shopkeeper was still standing beside them, observing and hurriedly said: “This is a new sample from the store, if the wife likes it, I will pack a few pairs for the wife.”
Right now, Wang Yanqing was dressed in ordinary clothes, but in the Lu Mansion, she had exquisite clothes, food, housing, and transportation, so she didn’t need shoes from here. She was about to refuse, but saw Lu Heng looking up at the shopkeeper with indistinguishable eyes of joy or anger: “What did you call her?”
The shopkeeper was so frightened that he stammered: “Isn’t this madam the Master’s wife?”
Wang Yanqing was embarrassed, and hurriedly said: “Storekeeper, you misunderstood, this is my brother.”
Only at this moment did the shopkeeper notice that Wang Yanqing was still wearing an unmarried woman’s bun and couldn’t help but look embarrassed. Seeing that the two of them were intimate, touching and talking to each other without hesitation, he thought they were a couple. As for the woman calling the man “Second Brother”… There are so many women who refered to their lovers as older brother, the shopkeeper thought it was just the couple’s preference.
Who knew that it turned out to be “family brother” instead of “lover brother”. The shopkeeper smiled and muttered in his heart, these two people look nothing alike, and they always stood with their bodies close to each other, who would have thought that they were brother and sister.
After Wang Yanqing explained, he felt embarrassed and took a step forward silently. Lu Heng ambiguously glanced at Wang Yanqing but didn’t speak and said to the shopkeeper: “We will take the account book, and I will send it back to you when we are finished.”
Of course, of course. The shopkeeper surely had to let the Imperial Guards leave, so he hurriedly said: “The store does not need this account book, and I don’t dare bother the Master to make another trip. If you need it, just take it.”
The shopkeeper sent Lu Heng and Wang Yanqing out with a thousand thanks and after seeing these two people walk away, his whole body collapsed. A shop attendant hid behind the counter and asked cautiously: “Shopkeeper, is there something wrong with Madam Liang’s shoes, why did the Imperial Guards come here?”
The shopkeeper glared at the man and scolded: “This is a matter of the Imperial Guards, how can you ask this? Get back to work!”
When Wang Yanqing and Lu Heng walked out of the shop, she saw no one to the left or right, and said to Lu Heng in a low voice: “So, the bead at Liang Rong’s door was left by Liang Wen Shi. On the sixteenth day, she went to Liang Rong’s house for some unknown reason, and a pearl accidentally dropped from the tip of her shoe while walking. It was dark at that time, and Liang Wen Shi didn’t notice it, but Liang Fu found it the next day. After Liang Fu showed it to Liang Bin, Liang Bin must have told Liang Wen Shi. When Liang Wen Shi thought that Liang Fu had discovered her secret, she became murderous. Liang Fu was a female in the family. She stayed in the house all day and didn’t go out. Liang Wen Shi couldn’t find a place to start, so she stole Feng Liu’s clothes and asked Liang Bin to put on the clothes and pretend to be Feng Liu. She also arranged the exact time to catch the person leaving from the act and let Liang Bin escape in front of everyone. Thus, Feng Liu and Liang Fu were framed for adultery, and by means of the government’s power, they would be able to cause a murder. No wonder she deliberately claimed that Liang Fu was insane and did not let anyone talk to Liang Fu. She even asked for an exorcism charm from outside. It was not exorcism, but a way to seal her lips. She was afraid that Liang Fu would tell outsiders about her, so she falsely accused Liang Fu of being crazy one step in advance.”
Lu Heng nodded: “The whole story of Liang Fu’s adultery case should be like this. However, there is still one problem. The thing on Liang Wen Shi’s shoes fell in front of Liang Rong’s door, which can only prove that she came to Liang Rong’s room, not that she killed Liang Rong. Liang Bin pretended to be Liang Rong and went out, wearing Feng Liu’s clothes to frame his sister for adultery. He had nothing to do with the murder. In the Liang Rong case alone, between Liang Wen Shi and Liang Bin, only one of them was the culprit and the other was the accomplice. Criminal charge and sentencing were not the same. How can we determine which of these two was the real murderer?”
Wang Yanqing frowned, feeling troubled. The expressions of Liang Wen Shi and Liang Bin were both fishy, and their degree of suspicion was comparable. It was impossible to judge who was the main offender by testimony alone. Moreover, all their reasoning now was guesswork, evidence was needed to finalize the case.
Wang Yanqing thought for a while and asked: “Liang Fu said that when she went to visit Liang Rong on the sixteenth night, she heard a muffled voice in the house, and then Liang Rong asked her to go back. Could it be that the murderer was also in the room at that time, and the so-called Liang Rong’s reply was feigned by the murderer?”
Lu Heng immediately understood what Wang Yanqing was thinking and said: “This possibility cannot be ruled out. However, a woman can also lower her voice and pretend to speak as a man for a brief period. Relying only on one point, it was impossible to find the real murderer.”
Wang Yanqing let out a low sigh, and her face became heavy again. Seeing Wang Yanqing’s drooping eyebrows and slightly pursed mouth, Lu Heng couldn’t help but smiling softly, and raising his hand to pinch Wang Yanqing’s face: “What’s the rush, the most important thing in this case, the evidence, hasn’t been found yet.”
“Hmm?” Wang Yanqing was puzzled, unable to manage Lu Heng’s unruly hand, she asked, “What evidence is there?”
The skin in his palm was like jade and felt very good. After Lu Heng finished touching her to his satisfaction, he calmly said: “The corpse. In a murder case, the corpse is always the most important evidence. Before seeing the corpse, any prediction is just a piece of imagination.”
Wang Yanqing nodded thoughtfully, raised her eyes, and looked at him seriously with round black eyes: “Second Brother, are we going to go find Liang Rong’s body now?”
The way she looked up was like a well-behaved and polite cat. This time not only did Lu Heng get an itch in his hands, but also in his heart. He rubbed Wang Yanqing’s cheek with his fingertips and said absently: “I don’t want to let Qing Qing find the body. The Imperial Guards are not good at other things, but there is no shortage of people, just let them find it.”
Wang Yanqing frowned, thinking about the case carefully: “However, it is so big outside the Baoding Mansion, where would they look?”
Wang Yanqing’s attention shifted, which made Lu Heng a little unhappy. He deliberately said: “If Qing Qing smiles at me, then I’ll tell you.”
Wang Yanqing raised her eyes, glanced at Lu Heng faintly, and then turned away. Lu Heng quickly pulled her toward him, lowered his attitude and coaxed: “Okay, I am just joking with you. Second Brother could never refuse Qing Qing’s request. On the seventeenth day, Liang Wen Shi took her son back to her parents’ house. Liang Wen Shi’s son is greatly treasured and a person who is greedy for pleasure. How could she not bring one servant, letting her son drive the carriage? They likely went to dump the corpse. By checking their whereabouts after they left the city, we can find where Liang Rong’s body is.”
At this point, the matter had basically come to light, and the only thing remaining was to find the evidence. Lu Heng had no intention for the superficial Liang family. He didn’t bother to go back to the Liang’s house, and instead went directly to the guardhouse and showed his identity token. Once the Imperial Guards of the Baoding Prefecture glanced at the Lu character, their expressions flipped. After a while, the Baoding Prefecture officials gathered in front of Lu Heng and asked: “Commander, the subordinate officials didn’t know that you were in the Baoding Prefecture, so they were a bit negligent. Commander, what brings you to Baoding?”
When Lu Heng investigated Feng Liu, he also used his relationship to the Imperial Guards, but at that time he used a fake identity, now this was his own identity token. They arrived in Baoding at noon and ran to several places in the afternoon. Before they knew it, it was dark. Lu Heng glanced at the sun and said: “The wind is blowing, first arrange a clean guest room, no need to make tea, but bring hot water.”
When the Baoding officials heard this, they quickly ran down and arranged a place for the commander to rest. When they dispersed, all the elders lowered their eyes honestly, but eventually, someone couldn’t help but be curious, glanced behind the commander, and was immediately pulled away by his comrades.
The wind was getting stronger and stronger in the evening, and the frigid air was as sharp as a knife. Lu Heng turned around, pulled on Wang Yanqing’s hood, and asked: “Qing Qing, are you still cold?”
Wang Yanqing shook her head: “It’s okay, it’s more important to investigate the case first.”
When Lu Heng pulled the cloak for her, he accidentally touched Wang Yanqing’s cheek, which was cold. He touched Wang Yanqing’s finger, and sure enough, it was as cold as ice. Lu Heng held Wang Yanqing’s hand, warmed hers with his own, and said: “No hurry, find a place to warm up first.”
As Lu Heng spoke, he thought to himself that Wang Yanqing’s fingers were so cold that she was either naturally cold-bodied or weak, in short, she had to be conditioned. It seemed that he had to find her a doctor after they returned.
What Lu Heng explained was quickly done by the guards. Baoding officials immediately stocked a warm and spacious room, which was spotlessly clean and well-furnished. There were also auspicious signs which ensured that the commander would live comfortably. After Lu Heng entered, he swept the room roughly. They probably thought that this room was for Lu Heng’s use. All the furnishings were partial to men, and there was no trace of any items for women. Lu Heng frowned, very dissatisfied. When Wang Yanqing saw his reaction, she said softly: “Second Brother, the decoration here is simple and elegant, I like it very much. Can I sit here for a while?”
Lu Heng sighed softly in his heart and said to Wang Yanqing: “I said before that you don’t have to read my face.”
Wang Yanqing lowered her head, her chin resting on the fluffy fur collar, as cold and fragile as jade: “I’m not, I like it.”
It had become intuition for her to watch people’s expressions, and she couldn’t separate its use in life and case handling. At first, Lu Heng felt that she was blessed with this ability, but now thinking about it, what had she experienced to hone such a skill?
He would rather she didn’t have this talent.
Lu Heng didn’t fuss about it anymore and took Wang Yanqing to sit down. There were no women in a place like the guardhouse, and there was no heater in the house, so Lu Heng used his own hands to keep her warm.
Lu Heng’s palm was bigger than Wang Yanqing’s, and he could cover both of Wang Yanqing’s hands with one of his. In addition, he practiced martial arts all year round, so his body was strong, and his palms were always hot, which was a stark contrast to Wang Yanqing’s ice-like fingers. Wang Yanqing’s fingers were curled up in Lu Heng’s palm, and she could feel his dry and warm palm with a little movement. She quietly felt the slightly rough calluses on Lu Heng’s palm, and a feeling of fondness unconsciously grew in her heart.
A guard delivered the records of anyone who left the city. Lu Heng held Wang Yanqing with one hand and slowly flipped through the record with his other hand. After looking at it for a while, he said: “Go search the mountains in the county of Mancheng and check with the villages along the way, see if anyone saw the Liang family carriage.”
The Imperial Guards outside the partition accepted the order, their steps were quick and powerful, and they were gone in a short while. After the door was closed again, Wang Yanqing asked: “Second Brother, how are you sure it is in Mancheng?”
“Liang Wen Shi’s maiden family is in Qingyuan, but she left the city through the north gate. Qingyuan is south of Baoding. It is not even Chinese New Year, so there is no city gate congestion. Why does she have to take a detour like this? There are barren mountains all over the city to the north, which is most suitable for dumping corpses. So, she probably went to Mancheng.”
Wang Yanqing nodded, she hesitated for a while, and asked in a low voice: “Second Brother, you don’t have to go out?”
Lu Heng closed the booklet and glanced at her faintly: “Are you driving me away?”
“No. Wang Yanqing bit her lip, her face was as pale as snow and her lips were almost colorless, she carefully said: “I am afraid that because of me, Second Brother’s business will be delayed.”
Everyone was looking for Liang Rong’s body outside, but Lu Heng was here accompanying her openly for anybody walking in and out to see. This was not good for Lu Heng’s career or reputation, and Wang Yanqing was afraid that Lu Heng would be dragged down for her sake.
“When will your cautious temperament be resolved?” Lu Heng seemed to sigh, and squeezed Wang Yanqing’s slender hand even more tightly, and said, “This is a matter of you, why is it not proper? Other women act coquettishly, are pretentious, and show their faces when they are unhappy. You are better, always thinking of others. You have to be a bit less thoughtful and put yourself in the most central position.”
An image quickly flashed across Wang Yanqing’s mind. She seemed to hear someone say “Qing Qing, you have to be thoughtful”, but she couldn’t see the face of the person in front of her. She frowned and said puzzled: “But, Second Brother, haven’t you always asked me to be thoughtful?”
Lu Heng was taken back for a moment, he stared at Wang Yanqing’s eyes, and smiled after looking at her for a while: “People always change, I’ve changed my mind now. Qing Qing, did you remember something?”