“Uwah, won’t the lass come along with me too?” The quack doctor’s shoulders were trembling when he begged her, so she considered why not.
He brought her along to the front of the east gate’s military station.
There were several eunuchs surrounding something. Maids gathered together around them in a doughnut shape.
“It’s good that it’s winter,” she said.
There was a woman with a pasty face hidden under the woven mat. She had matted hair and bluish black lips.
For a drowned corpse, she looked relatively nice, but she still wasn’t something people would be comfortable with looking at. It was truly good that it was in the cold season.
The quack doctor who should be doing autopsy was hiding behind Maomao’s back like a maiden.
He was totally a quack.
It seems the woman was floating in the outside moat this morning.
No matter how you look, with her appearance, she was surely a palace lady from the inner palace.
She couldn’t be dealt with properly outside, and so the quack doctor was summoned, but-
“Can lass look for me instead?” Though he was looking at her with upturned eyes, his loach moustache quivering, it wasn’t that she didn’t know about that sort of thing.
What could he be thinking about getting people to do?
“I can’t. I’ve been told to not touch corpses,” she told him.
“That is surprising.”
Saying something rude yet again was a familiar heavenly voice.
Needless to say, the surrounding court ladies raised coquettish voices. It was like watching a stage play.
“Pleasant day to you, Jinshi-sama,” she said.
(Though it isn’t anything pleasant before a corpse.)
Maomao looked at the lovely young man without any deep emotion as usual. Gaoshun, of course, was waiting behind him. He was a worldly-wise person who was always appealing to her with his gaze.
“So, teacher(老師). Will you look properly for me?” Jinshi asked.
“I understand,” the quack doctor said.
Although his face was slightly reddened, he looked at the drowned corpse reluctantly.
He timidly turned over the mat cover.
Palace ladies let out screams of shock from the back.
It was a tall woman. She was wearing stiff wooden shoes, and the one foot that wasn’t wearing it was wrapped in bandages. Her fingertips were deep red; nails were brutally damaged.
It was understood from her clothes that she was from Food Duty.
“You look fine from seeing it,” Jinshi said.
“It’s scenery I’m used to,” Maomao replied.
If you go a little deeper into the pristine pleasure district, you go into the lawless area.
It wasn’t rare to find the miserable figures of young girls who had been passed around and violated.
In one perspective, you may think that there wasn’t a reason to enclose courtesans in a cage, but the flip-side was also to protect them so that they don’t get dragged into the dangers around them.
“Let’s hear your opinion at the back,” Jinshi said.
(It must have been cold.)
Maomao, after the quack doctor finished his autopsy, politely covered the corpse with the mat.
Though there was no point in doing so at this point.
Jinshi brought her along to the Palace Official Chief’s room.
As usual, the Palace Official Chief was on standby outside.
They avoided speaking about the corpse at the Jade Palace.
That sort of thing wasn’t appropriate in a place with a baby.
(He might as well get his own room.)
She lowered her head at the elderly Chief.
Apologies for every single time.
“The Palace Guard is under the impression that it was a suicide by drowning,” Jinshi said.
He said that she had climbed the wall and threw herself off into the moat.
The girl was a Food Duty maidservant, as expected. She had been working until yesterday. With that in consideration, she could have only jumped last night.
“We don’t know if it was really suicide, but, at least, I think that it was impossible for her to do this alone,” Maomao said.
“What do you mean?” Jinshi who was sitting elegantly on the chair asked her with a refined voice.
As if he was a different person to the strangely flustered young man from the other day.
“There are no stairs on the castle wall,” she said.
“That is true,” he affirmed.
“Can you go up with a grappling hook?” she asked.
“That might be impossible,” he said.
It was really hard to for her to talk with him asking like he was testing her.
She wanted to tell him to stop asking every single time she spoke, but Gaoshun was watching so she kept silent.
“Though there are ways to go up without using any particular tools, it should be impossible for that palace lady,” she said.
“What do you mean? What ways are there?” Jinshi asked.
It was during Princess Fuyou’s ghost panic from previously. Maomao had always questioned on how the other woman went up the outer wall. She wasn’t the type of person to scale the wall.
Due to her nature to pursue her curiosity about until she understood, Maomao had diligently gone around looking at the castle wall.
What she found was protrusions at every respective four corners of the outer wall. By stepping on the bricks that were purposely made to protrude from the wall, it was then possible to ascend the wall. It would have been easy for the Princess Fuyou who was talented in dancing.
“It would be difficult for most women, much less for someone with foot binding,” she said.
The woman’s feet were wrapped in bandages and made to wear small wooden shoes. Her feet were crushed, bound in cloth and confined in the wooden shoes. It was a practice based on the standard that smaller feet were beautiful.
“Are you saying it’s a murder?” Jinshi asked.
“I don’t know. Just that, I think that we need to make sure on whether she fell into the moat when she was still alive.”
There was no doubt that those fingers dyed in red blood scratched the moat wall many times.
She didn’t want to think about what it was like inside the icy water.
“Should we investigate more thoroughly?” He asked.
She was troubled even with that sweet smile that cannot be refused. She couldn’t do what she can’t do. “My medicine teacher taught me to never touch corpses.”
“Why is that? Because you dislike taboo?”
Doctors come in contact with the sick and wounded. It seems he wanted to say that they will certainly have a lot of contact with dead people.
“Even humans can become ingredients for medicine.” Maomao murmured the reason.
At any rate, if you must do it, let it be your last, her dad had told her.
If you do it once, you’ll be like a grave disturber, he said something that was awfully rude.
She wanted to say that she had that much good sense for that, but all in all, she abided by his words.
Well, it was something like that.
Jinshi and Gaoshun both looked taken back, and shook their heads as though to say, “I see.”
Gaoshun looked at her like she was a pitiful thing.
That was completely rude. Maomao held down her shaking fists.
Afterwards, what was heard from rumours was that the dead girl was at the poisoning incident from the other day.
A will was also discovered, and the curtains of the incident closed by saying it was suicide.
In this world, even someone’s speculation could become truth.
T/N: The title of this chapter (自他) refers to the maidservant’s death. It’s a question of whether she killed herself or someone else killed her, so an alternate title could be ‘suicide (自殺) or murder (他殺)’, maybe.
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.