You Shu laid in a prison cell full of straws, feeling bored to death. A few jailers gathered in the outer hall to drink and have fun, and they frequently ridiculed him with comments such as "A phoenix with its feathers plucked was not as good as a chicken", “Sons from official families are all beast in human skin", "It doesn’t count as wrongful treatment even if you behead him" and so on.
One of them was very extreme, saying that the body has been found and that the evidence was conclusive, that he will definitely be sentenced to being beaten with wooden staves and exiled, and that it was better for them to beat him first to have a taste of how it feels like to beat up an official’s son. As soon as he said it, everyone was eager to try. It was obvious that their mentality had already been distorted and they were still discussing with each other where they could hit the hardest, but the wound would be hidden.
Seeing a group of people approaching his cell with wine pots, the prisoners in the next cell also urged them to try to get pleasure from the pain of others. You Shu finally changed his expression at this. His brows were tightly furrowed, his mouth twitched, and the two small dimples were became exposed. He didn't seem to be intimidating at all, but instead looked rather pitiful.
The jailers became more and more worked up, and their mouths were spitting out cusses non-stop.
"The sky has eyes and it's better to do less things that go against your conscience." You Shu did not get angry, pointing to the staggering jailer at the head of the group, "Do you ever know why your legs and feet are always unbearably sore?"
The jailer usually felt nothing off whenever he walked, but his calf severely hurt from time to time, which only eased slightly after drinking. All the doctors he searched for everywhere in Lin'an Prefecture were unable to diagnose the cause, and it became incurable over time. You Shu has never met him before and their social circles were even further apart. It is impossible for him to hear about this from other people.
In other words, only he would know about it. The jailer's heart started beating so hard that he wanted to ask but he was unwilling to let go of his face.
You Shu originally intended to deter the crowd and continued without waiting for them to respond, "You have a hobby of torturing cats and dogs to death. You would beat them to near death and smash their heads with one foot to get a sense of pleasure. However, you forgot that cats and dogs also have souls, and they also know resentment. They turn into tiny Black Qi like ants and bore in and out of your legs and feet, slowly gnawing at your life essence, so how can you not hurt? The pain is still secondary. If you don't get rid of that old habit and do kind deeds and accumulate merit, then you will become ill and die in less than three to five years."
Cold sweat dripped from the jailer's forehead. His hobbies were a secret. Not to mention his colleagues, even his wife and his mother did not know. In other words, this kid can really see ghosts.
The temperature in the cell suddenly dropped and gusts of cloudy wind blew across their clothes and skin. It sent cold shivers down their spines. Even though the young man's voice was very pleasing to the ear, it couldn't erase their growing sense of fear. The leading jailer squatted down unconsciously, holding his painful legs and feet, trembling.
"Bah! Nonsense! Alarmist!" Someone used up all his willpower to bravely say.
"Oh, just think of me as an alarmist then. I originally wanted to tell you why your abdomen has been feeling heavy and swollen lately.” You Shu cleaned the straws from his hair one by one with a very casual attitude.
The man quickly covered his stomach, sweating cold sweat like a waterfall. He really had been feeling uncomfortable lately. In order to earn a month's money, he didn't follow what the higher-ups said to ask for leave, thinking that it would be fine after he bore it for a bit. But listening to the boy's tone, this illness didn’t seem to be simple. It would be troublesome if it involved gods and ghosts. The longer he dragged it out, the worse it would get.
The several jailers next to the two saw that their faces changed drastically and finally understood that the young man was not fabricating wild tales. They looked at the calf of their boss and the abdomen of their colleague. They only felt dense Ghost Qi and bitter cold. The prisoners in the other cells also kept quiet out of fear. Some of the more timid ones even shook with fear, their teeth clattering, which sounded very strange echoing through the empty corridor.
"All you damned - be quiet for Laozi! Speak, tell me why my belly is swollen! If you can't tell me, I will kill you today!" The jailer's eyes were red and he tried to cover up the fear in his heart with rage.
"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, there are seven female fetuses in your abdomen. If it doesn’t bulge, then who will bulge? If you don’t hurry up and accumulate some virtue, your death will definitely be very ugly." You Shu gestured a big, round belly and spoke in a slightly mocking tone, "When you die, you will be like a pregnant woman of eight to nine months. It will be very spectacular!"
The jailer was immediately frightened out of his mind. Others don’t know it, but he himself knew best that the five daughters his second wife continuously gave birth to have become his exclusive property. They were kept in the cellar every day for his pleasure. The only thing that wasn’t good was that they would get pregnant. Once a daughter was pregnant, he ordered his second wife to pour them soup to abort the baby. When he counted them carefully, there were exactly seven, no more no less. And recently, his belly had been getting bigger by the day and he could no longer wear his pants from half a month ago.
The more he thought about it, the more fear he felt in his heart. He touched around underneath his clothes and actually ended up touching a baby's face on his belly, and suddenly a hot tide came pouring down from his crotch, the smelly stench of urine pervading the air.
"Immortal, help me! I beg you to show this little one a clear path!" He couldn’t care less about feeling shame any longer and threw himself at the prison door and kowtowed, banging his head on the floor. His facial features were already distorted by deep fear and his tears kept flowing, looking extremely pathetic.
You Shu naturally had a way to save him, but why would he do that? He shook his head and carelessly said, "Someone who had brought disaster upon themselves cannot be saved, just accept it."
"No, you must have a way to save this small one. This small one will let you go, don't worry." The jailer spoke as he took out a key to release the young man from prison.
The few people next to him finally returned to their senses and quickly grabbed him, but they didn't dare to touch his stomach, so they had to tie him with a belt and take him away by lifting him up by his hands and feet. From then on, they did not mention anything about beating up the young man. The lead jailer still had severe pain in his legs and feet, and he gave the boy a deep look when he went out.
The cell was finally quiet. The criminals who had been spitting at him were hiding in the farthest corner away from him, with their necks and heads hanging down like scared quails. You Shu was about to lie back on the straw nest for a nap when a passing wind blew in from the other side of the corridor, blowing out the candlelights on the way one by one, leaving only the one outside You Shu’s prison door.
"Have they been found?" You Shu immediately turned over and sat up, his eyes lit up like torches. He usually doesn't use spirit power when communicating with the little ghost, so he forgot to cover it up. The criminals were scared to death by the sudden situation. Seeing him talking to himself as if he was communicating with ghosts, they wanted to faint.
F*ck, Venerable You, are you done yet? What is a deity like you doing sitting in this prison? Just casually say a few more words and people will save you! Please stop for a while! Several criminals even got up and kowtowed at him.
The little ghost led two new ghosts; a man and a woman, into the cell and reported, "They have already been found. This little one has created a diversion to help your servant smoothly bring them to court. These two were the owners of the corpses that the authorities found. Listen to their story."
The two ghosts had very heavy grievances, but because they were newly deceased, they didn't have any skills to speak of, so they could only pin their hopes on their newly recognized big brother. The big brother was only six years old when he died. He seemed immature and tender, but he has been cultivating for nearly a hundred years and knew such a mystical personage. They didn’t go closer, but they already felt the impressive pressure emanating from You Shu's body, as if a group of dragons were soaring and Qi filled the air, and they would be killed by his aura if they didn’t pay enough attention.
"Sit and talk." You Shu pointed to the straw nest beside him.
The two ghosts sat down with trepidation and reverence, explaining why they were killed and how their bodies were defiled by others. As they were recounting their experiences, they couldn’t help but feel sadness well up within them and cry. The moment the two ghosts cried, the cell was full of cold air, a chilly wind danced wildly and the candlelight above You Shu's head swayed wildly. The brightly lit cell suddenly plunged into darkness in one moment, like hell itself had appeared.
It wasn’t only just the prisoners that were scared till they fainted, even the jailer who ran over to check after hearing the sound of the wind pissed his pants in fear and ran off, never daring to enter again. After imprisoning such an venerated demon, he would really lose several years from his lifespan. He also wondered if the Governor - daren knew about how mystical this guy was. He definitely didn’t know, right? Otherwise, how would he dare to arrest him!
You Shu's face was calm from start to end. After hearing the words of the two ghosts, he nodded and said, "It is a natural principle to kill and pay with one’s life for a murder. If you want revenge, I can help, but you must not stay in this world after the revenge. You need to go to the underworld and reincarnate as soon as possible. If the resentment blinds your mind and you commit unscrupulous killings, I will find and destroy you no matter where you are." These words were transmitted with spirit power and the people beside them didn’t hear a word.
The two ghosts nodded repeatedly and thanked him for his kindness.
After they left, Wang shi came and the candle holder mounted on the wall ignited by itself, illuminating the cell that was previously heavy with Ghost Qi. The moaning wind also stopped abruptly, and a few gusts of heat slowly permeated throughout the corridor, completely driving away the cold. The prisoner was completely obedient and the jailer had nothing to say. He respectfully and sincerely invited Wang shi in.
"Mom, what good things did you bring for me?" You Shu pounced onto the cell door, his eyes gleaming. They had only been acquainted for a day, but seemed to have been getting along for half a lifetime. He didn't feel reluctant to call out "mother". Her feelings were mutual. Song shi dared not get close to her son because she felt guilty and remorseful. She usually speaks politely and cautiously, so You Shu could only keep a distance from her. Wang shi was very different, wishing to rub You Shu into her arms like a lump of dough and doted on him a lot.
She hugged her son, shouting ‘dear’, then opened the huge seven-storey food box. She laid out her son’s favorite food and fed her son with a pair of chopsticks and a food ladle bite by bite. She did all this while crying, "My son has lost weight, my son's life is full of suffering" and so on.
You Shu sat opposite her hugging knees, feeling warmth in his heart, and couldn't help but comfort her, "Don't worry, mother, I can go out soon."
Wang shi nodded heavily, but her eyes dimmed for a moment. She had just received an urgent letter from Lao Taiye, saying that he would not protect her husband, even more so her son, and let them fend for themselves. His words were extremely unsympathetic. Now, her husband was preparing to sell their property to save their son. It’s unknown if it could even be done.
You Shu thought about it briefly and then reminded her, "Go back and tell father that he doesn't need to lay plans for me, so that people will not be able to get information that can be used against us and to avoid being pinned with the crime of ‘illegally accepting property’."
"What we sold was our own property, it’s not like it obtained from extorting the commoners." Wang shi retorted.
So it was like this, You Shu said in his heart. He took the trouble to tell Wang shi to never sell off their property, let alone resort to bribing. Plus, the two people have been found and they will soon be brought to court. Wang shi did not get any news from the servants and assumed they were still wandering around Yao Mountain Range. Seeing her son so sure, she skeptically nodded her head.
Before she returned home, Magistrate Zhao had already received the exact news. The two of them had been found and were still alive. This brought him great relief.
The next day, the Governor personally interrogated the suspect, and ordered the bailiff to open the public yamen quickly and let the commoners listen.
You Shu was cautiously invited to the court by the two jailers. When they saw the deceased’s parents kneeling on the ground, their faces turned slightly pale. They didn't dare to press this demon to his knees, so they conveniently forgot about it and went straight down.
The Governor saw You Shu standing upright, and raised the gavel and struck down hard, "Zhao Youshu, you do not have any scholarly honor, so why did you not kneel when you met this official? Come, teach Zhao Gongzi the rules!"
The chief prison guard of Lin'an Prefecture was the Governor’s crony and immediately came out from the increasingly growing crowd, pressing the young man whose mind was still wandering to the ground. The clear sound of the knees hitting the limestone brick made people grimace. You Shu closed his eyes and wrinkled his nose, almost bursting into tears. He hadn't been so embarrassed for a long time.
Magistrate Zhao sat under the Governor and watched. Seeing his son's face in pain, he also felt the same pain. He quickly pulled out the cushion under his butt and placed it under his son's knee, softly speaking and comforting. If it hadn't been for the Governor’s stern scolding, he would definitely have kneeled with his son.
The common people also booed repeatedly, obviously disliking the Zhao family’s actions very much. The Governor did not yell at them to stop and let them curse for more than a quarter of an hour, raising the atmosphere to a hostile degree before ordering the family of the deceased to submit the confession and material evidence.
There are seventeen or eighteen family members all together from the man and woman’s family. Some were wailing while some were silently shedding tears, and there were even people beating their chests and stamping their feet in sorrow, threatening to kill themselves, looking very pitiful. Not only did the commoners watching tear up, but the Governor also looked sad. At the same time, their resentment towards the murderer also reached its peak.
The Governor’s gavel crackled and shouted angrily, "Zhao Youshu, do you plead guilty?"
You Shu was expressionless from beginning to end, and flatly said, "I don't plead guilty."
"You won’t cry unless you see the coffin! This person is too cruel!"
"Sentencing him to exile is not enough to soothe our anger! He must be beheaded!"
"His official father also committed the crime! He must be dismissed and investigated!"
The commoners clamored one after another and several women threw eggs and leaves in the basket toward the court. The bailiffs on both sides and the Governor in the seat were very happy, but the jailer waiting by the door held his face and couldn't bear to look directly. Don't throw things, beware that this demon might lash out!
You Shu avoided the eggs and vegetable leaves and said slowly, "The evidence is insufficient, I do not plead guilty."
The Governor presented the evidence one by one and asked him what constitutes conclusive evidence.
"Unless I am shown the body, I will not plead guilty. These testimonies written by the coroner may also be false." You Shu waved his hand.
Magistrate Zhao immediately stepped forward and said, "If it is not possible to prove that the corpse is Sun Xique and Fang Sheng, we refuse to plead guilty. This officer can submit a memorial to the imperial court and arrange for another coroner to come examine."
"It's the same even after checking it a few more times! Come, bring the corpses!" The Governor received an indication from the higher-ups that the Zhao family’s father and son must be nailed down today. He flicked his sleeves and several bailiffs hurried to carry over the bodies. The commoners liked to join in the fun, so instead of being frightened, they started to crowd in even closer. Only the two jailers ran away, as if a ghost was chasing after them.
The corpses covered with white cloth were taken to the court. Due to the hot weather, they had a slight stench. You Shu proficient in everything and naturally also knew autopsy. Without changing his face, he lifted the white cloth and examined it carefully, "Is there any evidence that they are Sun Xique and Fang Sheng?" Both faces were frighteningly cut by the rocks in the river and couldn’t be clearly made out.
The mother of the deceased stepped forward to testify immediately. There is a cinnabar mole behind Sun Xique's ear and Fang Sheng's foot sole has a triangular arrangement of black moles, which were very obvious features.
You Shu checked them one by one and sneered. He picked up the coroner’s testimony and asked for a brush from his father and crossed over the paper while talking, "First, the mark that proves the identity of the two was pierced on them after death, not born with them. Second, the time of death was not eight days, but one day. The reason why the corpse was swollen and bloated was because they have been soaked in hot water for one day and one night. Third, the age was not right. Sun Xiqunian was fifteen and Fang Sheng was eighteen. Among the two corpses, one is eighteen and one is twenty. Fourth, their professions are not the same. Fang Sheng is a scholar and has never worked. This male corpse is an unskilled laborer with thick calluses on his hands and feet. Fifth, the cause of death is not right. Both of them were suffocated with a soft object to death and they were thrown into the river instead of drowning."
After the words fell, he threw the coroner’s testimony to the ground. The commoners stood on tiptoe and saw that the paper was full of big crosses. Some people shook their heads not believing it, but others looked down in deep thought.
Whether the two corpses were the Sun Fang duo or not, not only were their family members well aware, but also the Governor and his subordinates. After hearing the boy's words, some people’s foreheads were already sweating and their hearts drumming. Wasn’t it said that Zhao Youshu was ignorant and incompetent? How can his autopsy be more accurate than the most senior coroner’s?
He was able to judge the age, status, cause of death and time of death at a glance. Smart, really smart! The Governor had no choice but to compliment him secretly, but made up his mind to put him to deathtrap. He picked up the gavel and wanted to knock, but he heard the boy say, "Come to speak of it, caomin [note] Iirc, it’s used to humbly refer to yourself.[/note] had a strange dream about a man and a woman coming to me to make a request last night. They said that they died extremely unjustly and begged me to right a wrong. The female's name was Miao Ling and the male's name was Guo Da. They were from Jiaxing. Just when they fled to a city in Lin’an Prefecture, they quickly arrested by a few bailiffs, were suffocated to death with cloth, had a few moles pierced behind their ear and sole of their feet, were thrown into a wooden cask filled with hot water and soaked for a day and night. They were taken out in the early morning and had their faces mutilated and were transported to the lower reaches of Luanshui River and thrown on the bank. "
The commoners were stunned from hearing such a miraculous thing and all pricked up their ears and stood on their toes, eagerly waiting for the follow-up.
The Governor’s eyes flashed and all the bailiffs were already sweating bullets. Zhao Youshu was imprisoned in a cell all day and night. It was impossible for him to know these things! Besides, they were very secretive when they did this. Then, then isn't it true that their aggrieved spirits appeared in his dream with a request?
You Shu was about to say more, but the Governor picked up the gavel and was intending to interrupt him. Who would’ve thought the gavel made no sound when striking the table, as if striking cotton. He didn't believe in evil, and after slamming down several times in a row, he showed a look of horror. He shouted in a dry, hoarse voice, "Shut up, shut up shut up shut up! Do not delude the people with lies in court!"
"Why won't you let him say it? This is a trial and all inside information must naturally be revealed!" The commoners refused to comply and they all expressed their support. Majority of people in these times firmly believed in ghosts and gods, and didn't think that the young man was deceiving the crowd at all. Instead, their impression was greatly changed and they became sympathetic to him.
If You Shu persistently asked the Governor to change to another coroner to conduct an autopsy, relying on the contacts of the Zhao family, they could ensure that the coroner’s judgment would be impartial, but the people will still believe their own speculation: that is, the Zhao family covered up the truth and bribed the officials. This basin of dirty water can never be washed off no matter what they do, but employing the use of ghosts and gods was quite different. No one's testimony was stronger than those from the dead themselves who unjustly died.
Amidst the clamor between the Governor and the people, You Shu gently spoke. "After the chief constable threw the body away, he stood up and sighed: 'Don't blame us for being cruel, blame your own bad luck. The Governor- daren was worried about being unable to find a suitable candidate, but then you guys came running over. When I return, I’ll burn some paper money for you.’ The group left quickly, bribed a wastrel to discover the corpse and then stir up trouble. The Head Constable even signed an agreement with the Sun Fang families, asking them to incorrectly identify the corpses even though their height and statures were wrong. After this, each family will get a hundred taels of silver. It turns out that the Sun Fang duo did not die, but were quietly instructed by them to hide in the Yao Mountain Range. They originally planned to kill these two people directly and pin the crime of murder on me, but the two of them hid very well and they couldn't find them after a while, so they resorted to finding two substitutes."
You Shu paused and Magistrate Zhao hurried forward with a tea cup, attentively giving him a sip. Once his lips and tongue were moistened, You Shu continued, "This matter is actually very simple. On that day, Sun Xique and Fang Sheng having an affair was actually a set up. Someone deliberately led me to watch them, so that the two of them would jump into the river during a scuffle with me and faked their death. Then, their mother came forward to accuse me and the Governor used the “evidence” to charge me. One did it to extort money under false pretenses and the other for fighting over power and influence. As the saying goes, the way of Heaven is fair, but the guilty will not escape. You think you have done it perfectly and seamlessly, but you cannot hide it from spirits. Those who died unjustly are watching you."
As soon as his voice fell, a gust of chilly wind billowed in the courtroom for no apparent reason. The white cloth covering the corpses was lifted by the wind, revealing the festered face of the dead. That face suddenly turned towards the Head Constable and the closed eyes suddenly opened, revealing blood-red pupils full of hatred. The Head Constable’s legs softened and he knelt down, kowtowing while yelling in tears, "Don’t blame me, it’s all the Governor-daren’s instructions! For every grievance, there is someone responsible! You should look for him if you want revenge!"
"The- the deceased has appeared! The deceased really were killed by the Head Constable! He admitted it himself!" Some people yelled and the rest of them waited for a while.
The Governor staggered up and was about to flee. But another wave of chilly wind suddenly rushed towards him, blowing off the official’s hat he had just put on.
The meaning of this was self-explanatory. The spirits of the people who had been wrongfully murdered were present in court and they were voicing their grievances. Not only was the Governor frozen stiff on the spot scared out of his wits, the commoners outside were also shocked and in disbelief. There was no need for any evidence, they already believed the boy's words. He didn't kill anyone, everything was all a hoax!
You Shu finally stood up and cupped his hands, "Caomin implores Daren to confront this Bailiff in court to restore Caomin's innocence and also to prove Daren’s innocence."
Magistrate Zhao also shook his sleeves and furiously said "Everything in the hall, this official will write down everything that happened in court in great detail and present a memorial to the Emperor. The ghost of the wronged never takes a rest and the way of Heaven is unfair. This matter needs to be strictly investigated by another official! Colleagues, I ask you to provide circumstantial evidence to give an explanation to the souls of the deceased."
The people who can appear in the courtroom were the trusted subordinates of the Governor and they would naturally not heed Magistrate Zhao. But there were ghosts hovering and wailing above their heads. If you didn't want to provoke and be plagued by their resentment, they absolutely cannot refuse this request. They hurriedly got up and cupped their hands together and promised, their foreheads and backs were soaked with sweat.
Blu: Sorry for not updating for a long time. Teh and I were busy with uni and now that uni is over, there's exams to prepare for. But I still won't be free since I have to start on writing my thesis and cleaning the data. sigh I want to cry :) why did I choose to do Honours.
Anyway, hope you guys enjoy reading and are safe. I'll try to update more since I (think) I have more time. Luv u guys, muaks ( ˘ ³˘)♥.
Ping me @Lyrias#2101 if there are any errors, mkays ~