by Qing Lu
Translated by Grenn
Chapter 14 – Criminal Justice Department (1)
“Last night?!” Wu Zhigang’s originally small eyes opened widely in anger. He glared ferociously at Wang Bingsheng who was standing uncomfortably in the corner. He started cursing. “You speak, in the end, it is the same as what he say?! The time of death is currently unknown. You work something out, coroner!”
“The corpse…” Wang Bingsheng’s voice was trembling a bit. He very carefully glanced at Zhuo Qing. Seeing she kept silent, he then replied in a small voice, “The presence of this kind of purplish-red discoloration on the dead body, in addition, to the beginning of the rigidity, I say the deceased died not long…”
Zhuo Qing slowly lifted her head. Immediately, Wang Bingsheng didn’t dare say anything further. Just now, he looked at the bruises on the deceased back and truly felt ashamed. All because of his excessive confidence, he could neglect such a significant point. What this queer youngster said about him was really not wrong. He truly felt ashamed.
Wang Bingsheng stammered and was unable to say anything. Zhuo Qing coldly said, “You, come over here.”
‘What is he planning?’ Wang Bingsheng was startled and thought about not going over there.
Looking at him getting all defensive like that, Zhuo Qing impatiently shouted, “Come over here!” Why was he acting like a slowpoke as if she was going to eat him whole!
Wang Bingsheng swallowed down his saliva as he unhurriedly walked towards Zhuo Qing. He still didn’t know how it was possible that, despite his age, he always felt lacking in confidence in front of this youngster who looked like he was a tightly wrapped like a package.
Lou Xiyan’s finger was lightly tapping on the back of his hand behind his back. His face had a constant warm and gentle scholarly smile, except he only watched Zhuo Qing attentively with exceptionally shining eyes.
Squatting next to the deceased’s feet, Zhuo Qing calmly explained, “This kind of discoloration that appeared postmortem is called livor mortis. In general, two hours posthumous…” ‘Not right! What is the measuring unit of time called in this place…’
‘Was is shichen? How troublesome!’ She mentally converted it and continued to explain once again, “It begins to appear after two shichen. From three to four shichen, it becomes clearly visible. At that time, if you press on the livor mortis and watched, the color will withdraw from that spot or it could even fade away, but it will reappear again, once you release it. After six shichen posthumous, the livor mortis had finished congealing and the color deepen. At that time, even if you press on it, it won’t be able to completely fade away and can only withdraw a bit. Even after you stop pressing on it, the livor mortis will slowly resume to his former color. After 12 shichen, it’s no longer possible to alter the color of the livor mortis and it no longer fades away.”
Wang Bingsheng was listening to the explanations very earnestly, but his brows wrinkled more and more.
‘Not convinced?’ Zhuo Qing pointed her finger at the corpse and said, “You, press on it.”
Wang Bingsheng nodded his head. He also wholeheartedly wanted to confirm. He pressed the corpse with some force with his finger and, after he released it, the discoloration somewhat faded. After a while, it slowly resumed back to his original coloration.
According to the theory that was said a moment ago, the deceased was already death for around six shichen. Wu Zhigang worriedly said, “Wang Bingsheng, it is true what he just said?!” If it was the truth, then, Li Ming was the most suspicious person!
“This…” Wang Bingsheng hesitated. He glanced at the youngster and, then, reported the truth, “I don’t know. I only know that after two shichen the discoloration will appear on the dead body. What he said about the deepen of the discoloration mark after a longer period of death, I… truly don’t understand.”
He truly felt ashamed. He really didn’t know how to determine the time of death from the characteristics of the the discoloration mark. If it was before, he would immediately deny this youngster’s words without a doubt, but, now, the speech he heard a moment ago was irrefutable. He didn’t dare be presumptuous and hastily jumped on a conclusion.
Wang Bingsheng’s “don’t know” greatly angered Wu Zhigang. He shouted, “Then, how do I know if what he said is actually the truth and not some nonsense he’s spouting?”
He lightly coughed and then, casted sidelong glances at Zhuo Qing. He loudly asked, “How can you proof the facts that you just said?” From the start, he felt that this youngster was queer, but when he took into account Chancellor Lou’s feelings, it wasn’t a good idea to flare-up.
‘That’s a very good question. The answer is…it cannot be proof!’
In this context, how can Zhuo Qing proved her words with scientific knowledge? Could it be that she needed to say she had a master’s degree in forensics at X university; the youngest person in possession of a right to practice as a forensic investigator; And someone who had published a lots of scientific papers… Or she could turn this crime scene into a dissection lesson. She supposed that Madam Lin would then jumped on her to tear her apart!
Zhuo Qing frivolously racked her brain in self-deprecating. How come it’s always so lively whenever and wherever she was with a flock of ancients?! Her back was leaning on the ice-cold stoned wall of the prison as she indifferently replied, “What I said are facts, but I don’t know how I can prove it to you.”
“So you’re just saying that you still can’t prove it!” Wu Zhigang just wanted to revolt, but he had second thoughts when he thought about the possible relationships between that youngster and Chancellor Lou. Caution is the parent of safety. He turned towards Lou Xiyan and clasped his hands in greetings and quietly asked, “Chancellor Lou, you see…?”
Lou Xiyan believed that what the youngster had said was all true. He must had a great teacher who give him directions. His master must also be a renowned person. So long as he said his master’s name, it could be considered as a proof of what he said whether what he said was right or wrong. However, he wasn’t willing to speak. There could only be one reason and that must be because he didn’t want to reveal his identity!
‘Is he not aware that the more he wants to maintain secrecy, the more it makes people want to pry on it? Fortunately, he doesn’t seem to be worry about it!’ The corner of his mouth curved lightly. Lou Xiyan was about to start talking when a clear, cold and dry voice carrying unswerving determination resounded. “What he said is the truth.”
Everyone turned in the direction from which came the voice. Zhuo Qing lightly lifted the brim of her hat and saw a man over his thirties standing outside the prison cell. It seemed like he had arrived a long time ago. He appeared very tall as much as Lou Xiyan, although Lou Xiyan looked more meager compared to him with his pair of slender and ever smiling eyes that always made people unable to decipher what he was thinking. The other person was wearing a simple and convenient dark blue chang pao that appeared travel-worn like he had hurried in coming here. Although, he didn’t cut a sorry figure, but he looked somewhat disheveled. He was unlike Lou Xiyan who was unruffled with his clothes all clean and neat. In addition…
Wait, wait! Why was she always using Lou Xiyan as a comparison?! She must be insane…
Zhuo Qing didn’t ponder for long on the reason why she had that kind of abnormal thoughts as Wu Zhigang and the other bailiff shouted in unison, “The Criminal Justice Department’s official!”
‘Criminal Justice Department?!’ Zhuo Qing raised her eyebrows with more interests towards that man. It’s unlikely for people who studied forensics to not know about Song Ci
. This man and Song Ci had the same official position. She just didn’t know if he had the same skills as Song Ci!
Facing everyone, he slightly lifted his hands. Shan Yulan lightly clasped his hands to greet Lou Xiyan. He slightly lowered his voice. Without lacking any respect, but unenthusiastic, he said, “Chancellor Lou.”
Lou Xiyan stepped forward. His slightly lowered eyes gleamed with a faint trace of mocking. With a smile, he said, “Shan Yulan, you returned at the right moment.” Not too late, not too early!
Shan Yulan remained unmoved. He replied according to etiquette. “This was originally this official’s duty. We shouldn’t have troubled Chancellor with it.”
Lou Xiyan was accustomed to these manners. He said in the same kind of manner, “Shan Yulan, your words are too serious. You and me, we are all here for the greater of the imperial household.”
Was this what they called the legendary humble greetings of the world of officials? Zhuo Qing was bored until she wanted to yawn and she was also really beat. She was really, really, extremely sleepy!
Just when she was yawning without any restraints, Shan Yulan had already walked through the door of the prison cell and went directly to her. “What you said, word for word, was certainly the truth. What are you called? Where is he? Where is the master who took you in?”
Zhuo Qing’s mouth froze in the middle of her yawn. ‘That man’s questions are so rude!’
 postmortem : just a fancier word that means after death
 posthumous : a fancy word that referred to something that happen or continued after death
 时辰 (shí chen) : It’s the unit of measure for time in ancient China. One shichen = two hours
 Song Ci (宋慈 – Sòng Cí) : He’s an official that wrote “The Record of Washed Grievances” which is a book that contained forensics study cases in 1235. (wiki)
I really love this story! Ona reread, the forensic part id much more clear, although it may also be due to your excellent translations. You must have put in quite a bit of research for this. Zhou Qing and Lou xiyan are one of the few leads who manage to have a sweet, healthy relationship but are also not bland and predictable.