Sitting on the chair with a terribly sulky expression was the mourner with the gaudy makeup – Uryuu’s supposedly dead daughter.
There was some fear in her attitude, but beyond that, she was acting like one who did nothing wrong.
With her funeral already over, they moved over to Jinshi’s estate so no one will find them. Maomao secretly peeked at them from the corner of the room.
The men around her looked like they wanted to escape. It was Uryuu and his son. Jinshi and Basen both watched them, looking stunned and brows twitching respectively.
“So, in other words, am I not mistaken that you tried to plot a cover-up?” Jinshi said.
The reason Jinshi phrased his statement as a question was because he remembered Uryuu’s daughter’s face properly. Uryuu had three children. He only had this displeased woman and Consort Riishu as his daughters. It was about who the dead girl had been.
For that part, for dead bodies and such, they can pick up as many as they want. By going to the slums, there would be young girls and such who would have collapsed and all. For that part, Maomao didn’t want to think that they had purposely prepared one.
They might have crushed the body and burnt it as a cover-up, which was why they had hung it out in such a conspicuous place for people to see.
“Are you working together?” he asked.
Uryuu had determined the dead body to be his daughter. That was how it turned out.
However, it was his son standing next to him who protested. Maomao didn’t remember his name; it was U something. “What in the world is this about? We pretty much saw the hanging when it was discovered with you people. How can we even possibly plot a cover-up?” the son countered.
In other words, he was saying that it was impossible for them to hang the body from the tower and burn it so it can’t be identified. It wasn’t that they weren’t displaying a bit of arrogance before the imperial brother, but they must be quite impatient.
Certainly, if they don’t explain that, the talks won’t proceed. For high handed people, this would be the part where they would brandish their authority, but unfortunately, Jinshi’s personality wasn’t like that.
Of course, Maomao had already explained that to Jinshi.
Jinshi took out a box of joss papers. Then he set it next to another box a messenger had brought over from the pleasure district. It was the high-quality paper she got from the quack’s hometown. “The paper looks to be quite good for joss paper, but you have also got your hands on this, right?” he asked.
It was thin and soft paper. The size of a sheet was quite large – three shaku on each side.
“When you liken this to clothes, you can make a simple doll out of it,” Jinshi said.
That was what had hung down from the tower. It had been made to resemble a dead body.
“Even if it was a dummy, how did it disappear, you ask? With that, what happens if someone saw it? It was in such a conspicuous place, you know,” the son said.
“That, would be this.” Jinshi twisted to paper thinly into a thread. It’s quite sturdy when you tug it; it won’t rip. However, if one drop of water gets onto it, it’ll easily tear.
The part where they got people to investigate the tower again – there were scraps of ripped paper on the top of the pillar. There were water stains on it.
“The paper doll was hung up by two threads. You make one thread thin, make it easy to soak. If it was made in a way where it had been cut beforehand, it would be a matter of time. And speaking of how you get it wet, you can just use ice,” Jinshi explained.
When the ice melts, the paper thread will snap. It had been planned that when the second thread breaks, the doll will fall from the tower.
Hearing that, Uryuu’s son exhaled. “Then where could that doll have fallen? If you look for it and find it, you’ll still know but–”
“The doll has not been found. Since it’s already been disposed of.”
The servants said that the doll looked like it was floating when it fell. And then, that they couldn’t find it when they scoured the place where it fell.
When Maomao tried to ask about the details of that place, she was told that it was beside the pond.
“I was told that the servant said that the koi fish went crazy.”
The bottom feeder koi fish show up when just a leaf falls onto the water, mistaking it as food.
If it’s like that, what would happen if the paper doll fell?
A large number of koi fish will peck at it. The doll had probably disintegrated in the water.
And then, they discovered the burnt body in a completely different place.
“There were a lot of guest carriages around the estate. You won’t be able to get your daughter out even if you tried. That’s why you gathered mourners for the funeral,” Jinshi said.
Just like how Maomao had covered her face with a veil to be unrecognisable, the daughter had worn white and covered her face with a veil as well. That was why there had been a randomly lousy mourner there.
And then, Maomao had surprised her in order to ascertain whether she was really Uryuu’s daughter or not.
While they were moving, Maomao had stepped on that woman with the lousy crying voice and another woman’s skirts and made them fall. And then, she would approach the lousy one and show her the wooden tag she was carrying and say:
“Did you drop this? If you lose it, you won’t be able to leave the estate.”
If she was wrong, she was going to go to the other person who fell. However, that woman said nothing and took Maomao’s wooden tag.
Uryuu’s daughter had cast her eyes down. She was pouting.
It didn’t look like Uryuu and his son were going to say anything more. They were silent. And while Maomao thought that was all they would do, Uryuu took a step forward.
“Everything is my fault,” he said, and slowly lowered his head.
Seeing that, the son moved forward. “Father did nothing. I did it. Misidentifying the body too, I had been upset.”
“No, it was me!”
(It’s fine either way.)
It might be beautiful that parent and child were sticking up for each other, but the main issue, the daughter, was sending amorous glances towards Jinshi. Even though he won’t fall to such charms.
Amid that, there was one person who was trembling.
“….” This person wordlessly stepped forward.
Jinshi was already too late to stretch his hand out to stop him.
There was a dull sound. Something fell alongside it.
That continued two times.
Basen had raised his fists. Uryuu and his son were on the ground, their faces twisted. The twisted faces were literal, no, it would be more correct to say that Basen had twisted them.
Blood splattered and several molars had fallen to the ground.
“I don’t really care about your display of familial love. But Consort Riishu isn’t included in this, you see,” Basen said, thick with cynicism.
“Basen!” Jinshi tugged back Basen’s sleeve. For an instant, Basen’s face was full of bitterness, but he somehow went back to normal.
“My sincere apologies,” Basen apologised.
Uryuu’s daughter, who had been displeased up until now, had gone pale. She trembled.
It seems Basen also had the sense to not go as far as to raise his hand on women.
“My apologies. Let’s continue the conversation after you get treatment,” Jinshi said, and summoned a different attendant.
(They goofed up.)
As Maomao thought that, she tilted her head slightly.
It wasn’t the question of whether Uryuu or his son had done it. Either way, they would go as far as to help his daughter, younger sister, whatever it takes.
However, the way they did it was too extreme.
She thought of the example of the Shi Clan, seeing it as an overreaction, but she could also take the opposite view. The Empress’ era aside, the current emperor didn’t have the character to throw away any more retainers one after another, right?
(Could he have plans for something?)
Hm, Maomao, in the corner of the room, scratched her head.
She looked at the floor; there were still teeth.
(Even though it’s bad to hit them here.)
Let’s not think hard about why Basen got angry. Postpone it, postpone.
The daughter was still trembling on the chair, frightened.
Even if this kind of woman gets kicked out, there’s no way she can live decently on her own, huh, Maomao thought.
In that case, there had to be someone outside who will look after her.
We have to ask about that too – it was the moment she thought that.
The guard was outside the room. The only people in this room was Maomao, who was hiding, and Uryuu’s daughter.
The daughter must have thought that she was the only person here.
“How did this happen? I’d done it as the Fairy-sama told me,” she said.
“!?” It can’t be helped that Maomao had stood up energetically.
Surprised, the daughter looked at Maomao who was in the corner of the room.
“Could this fairy be, Lady Pai?” Maomao had drawn closer before she realised.
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