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    The Black Horse

    Chapter 55

    Another Mystery

    Translated by Wook
    Edited by Wook


    After the ransacked cargo ship was discovered in the waters five miles away from Guard Station, Gaoyou County Magistrate took the government officials to investigate the scene. Upon returning to their office, they were aware that this ugly matter could not be leaked outside, lest the mass call them cowards.


    There are many similar cases in Jiangnan every year. Sometimes, when they could not solve a case, they pushed someone out to take the blame, but nevertheless, the waterways have never been peaceful.


    The county officials knew Luo Dajue, and when they saw the poor official, they spoke in contempt: “The county magistrate has already taken someone to investigate the scene of the crime. If Lord Luo wants to see it, you should be careful not to damage the traces on the ship.”


    The ship involved in the incident had been dragged from the middle of the river to the shore, under a huge weeping willow. The county magistrate left two guards at the scene. The two bastards were warming themselves at a fire at the shore, slacking off in their duties.


    Although Luo Dajue was poor and innocent, he was straightforward: “Go back and tell your lord that I will send someone to guard here. When I return from the scene, I will personally meet him.”


    It was the beginning of the year, the weather was cold and damp even during the day. Many people in nearby villages and towns who heard the news came to watch the excitement, but the next day, the two people who were assigned to guard the ship where the murder occured almost fell ill. Not to mention how eerie the scene was at night, they just could not wait to resign from this unlucky mission to go back as early as possible.


    Seeing someone coming to take over, they found the poor military commander Luo Dajue more pleasing to the eye: “Since my lord wants to protect the crime scene, this younger one should go back and report to the county magistrate.”


    After the two officers left, Lord Luo respectfully sent someone to invite Zhao Wujiu to come and inspect the scene.


    Bai Shiqi followed Zhao Wujiu, and so the group of people boarded the ship. There was a strong smell of blood. Although two days and nights have passed since the incident, the blood on the ship was still unabated.


    Zhao Wujiu was someone who had returned from a mountain of corpses, and Bai Shiqi was also someone who wandered around the tip of the knife all year long. Zhao Ziheng was the only normal rich young master in the group. He felt a little uncomfortable when encountering the smell of blood, not to mention seeing dead bodies. He couldn’t stand it anymore and ran out. He stood on the bank, bent his body, and vomited.


    Ba Hongru, the magistrate of Gaoyou County, was used to claiming the credit of others, but was actually a cowardly person. He boarded the ship and smelled the strong smell of blood, then he was frightened by the dead body of the shipowner on the deck, therefore, he quickly retreated. The autopsy was done by the deputy and a coroner in the cabin. As for whatever was said inside the cabin, Ba Hongru only waved his hand at once: “Don’t talk about it anymore, it will give me nightmares at night. You can handle everything here.”


    Deputy Miao Song despised him in his heart, but his face still looked respectful: “It will be better if you go to rest if you’re feeling unwell.”


    And so, the decision maker returned to the backyard of the county office to “recover from illness”. In addition to the cold, the corpses were still on the ship for the time being. The atmosphere still retained the horror of the robbery and murder.


    Shu Changfeng helped Zhao Wujiu to walk slowly into the cabin. There were many dead bodies along the way. He carefully inspected it, but then worried that Bai Shiqi might feel uncomfortable. He turned his head only to find Bai Shiqi wearing a pair of gloves which she had gotten from God knows where, examining the corpses carefully with a serious and focused expression, looking professional.


    Zhao Wujiu: “… …”


    Shu Changfeng: “… …”


    Not only did she conduct autopsy, seeing the master and servant pair coming over, she also exchanged clues to the murder, discussed the fatal injuries of the deceased, and speculated about the experience before death. When she said one of them was killed by knife, she even approached the said corpse to smell it: “The deceased should have drunk a lot of alcohol before his death. The alcohol has not dispersed, so he was not awakened by the fighting outside…”


    Luo Dajue, who was following the three of them, admired Prince Zhou’s aid: “Mister Su looks young, I didn’t expect him to have such experiences in autopsy. What a rare talent.”


    Bai Shiqi indifferently: “You will have more experience if you see more of them.”


    Luo Dajue: “… …” Seeing that the other party was probably a 17-18 year-old, he felt that this assistant surnamed Su sounded as if they grew up at murder scenes and dealt with corpses all the year round to be able to say such horrible things.


    Bai Shiqi was more careful than the other three people in investigating. She did not miss any inch of the cabin. After a while, she picked up a white pebble the size of a pigeon egg in the most inconspicuous corner of the bottom cargo hold.


    This thing is very common along the river, and it comes in various shapes. Sometimes it is brought into the cabin by the crew along with the cargo. It is not surprising.


    After she picked it up, she didn’t take it seriously at first, just looked at it cautiously as she had always done. However, through the hazy yellow light of the lantern that Luo Dajue was carrying, she found that the white pebble was extremely round. After being rubbed by the owner all year round, it looked very smooth, and there was a little dark red mark on the pebble, which was very familiar.


    After that, her expression changed drastically. Fearing that she had seen wrong, she blinked her eyes vigorously, and found that the red mark looked old. Her lips became dry, and she tremblingly moved closer to the light to take a closer look.


    Zhao Wujiu noticed her unusual expression and was very surprised: “What’s the matter?”


    Bai Shiqi handed the pebble to his hand, and said with difficulty: “Your Highness, can you help me look if there’s a word on this pebble?”


    Zhao Wujiu discovered that her hands were extremely cold and slightly trembling, however, he had seen many kinds of dangers throughout his life, therefore, without batting an eyelid, he wanted to turn over the pebble. He didn’t even have to look carefully as he could feel the engraved word on the back side of the stone.


    He turned it over and discovered a very neat, black 漕 character. There were signs that show that it was old. 

    [T/N: 漕 here means: transport by water; watercourse; canal. Added with another character, it becomes what I translated into “shipping group” in this novel.]


    “There is a Chinese character on it.”


    Bai Shiqi staggered back, as if her body suddenly lost the center of gravity, and almost fell on the dried blood. Zhao Wujiu’s quick reflex helped her: “What’s the matter?”


    With the help of Zhao Wujiu, she finally stood up straight, but she sounded lost: “This stone… is Qiu Ying’s.”


    Zhao Wujiu was familiar with this name since Bai Shiqi escaped from death. He even imagined the appearance of the boy in his mind for a while. In Bai Shiqi’s mind, the boy’s appearance stopped at the best age of youth, and the boy even made her obsessed with being on the canal for several years, risking her own safety for the sake of his death.


    “Hasn’t he been killed for a long time?”


    Bai Shiqi muttered to herself: “Could it be that… this group of pirates is the same group with the one who killed him?” She had been tracking the waterways for several years, but couldn’t find a single clue, it could be said that she should not be able to find the culprit in this life. No one expected that she would actually find a relic of the dead in Gaoyou.


    With her intelligence, there was another answer, but perhaps deep down in her heart, she was not willing to think about that other answer at all.


    Zhao Wujiu couldn’t bear to refute her— Qiu Ying‘s belongings reappeared at a murder scene a few years later. One possibility is that the culprit of that year kept Qiu Ying‘s relic and accidentally dropped it on the ship; the other possibility is that Qiu Ying was not dead at all.


    If Qiu Ying hadn’t died, then… the tragedy of that year had another mystery, and he might be involved in the murder of this ship.


    He couldn’t help but guess that perhaps compared to the conclusion that Qiu Ying was not dead, Bai Shiqi would prefer the possibility where the culprit kept Qiu Ying’s relic. It was easier for her to accept this.


    She tried her best to find out the truth and almost died. How could she accept being deceived and fooled?


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