Dafeng's Night Squad - Chapter 15
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Xu Qian continued his explanation. “Third, why do the county courts believe you two killed Zhang Yourui instead of a thief?
“It was smart of you to drag the body out into the courtyard to disguise it as a thief’s work but a mistake was made.
“Zhang Yourui died with his feet facing the manor proper, head facing the streets. The killing blow was on the back of his head which meant the murderer was behind him.
“If the murderer was a thief, he would either stay hidden or retreat. Why would he murder the man and leave empty-handed?”
Yang Zhenzhen was stunned to learn about all the holes in her plot.
Xu Qian’s words were a slap to her face—she felt as if her plan was laid bare for all to see and she had failed to cover her tracks.
Fear gripped her.
“Speechless now? Zhang Xian too, hence his confession. He even said you threatened him with the baby in your womb after he decided to stop the affair. Then, you took the commotion that night to kill Zhang Yourui.
“Zhang Xian is an innocent man. Acknowledging the failings in the plan, he realized there was no way out. He admitted his crime to the county magistrate and is willing to pay 500 silver taels to improve relations and pin the crime on you.”
The despair on Yang Zhenzhen’s face was evident. Her face was white as a sheet after hearing about Zhang Xian’s betrayal.
Xu Qian intentionally hammered the point in. “I think you know what Zhang Xian is capable of.”
Truthfully, he knew nothing about Zhang Xian but he was willing to bet a relationship built on lust would crumble easily.
Furthermore, Zhang Xian was the son of a merchant. He was young and rich—a sea of opportunities awaited him. Why would he give up his life for an older woman?
Yang Zhenzhen felt hopeless.
“However, the county magistrate is a morally-upright man. He wanted to hear your side of the story, hence why I am here. If you come clean, he swears he will forgo the death penalty.”
The woman lifted her head—her eyes were filled with tears as she clung on to the lifeline offered. “Are you being truthful?”
Xu Qian nodded. “Yes.”
He noted Yang Zhenzhen’s crumbling resolve and opened the door. The court officer stepped in to make an official record.
Once her guard was down, Yang Zhenzhen spilled her guts out.
Her confession had some discrepancies with his theory. Her tone had gone from ‘Stepson, please take care of yourself’ to ‘You *sshole, are you calling me old?’.
All it took was a moment of pleasure to burn down the whole family. According to Yang Zhenzhen, when her husband found out about the affair, he got into an altercation with his son. Zhang Xian grabbed a vase and slammed it over her husband’s head, causing him to collapse.
In order to avoid charges, he conspired with Yang Zhenzhen to cover up the murder.
They were both common folk with limited knowledge of criminal investigations. Unlucky for them, the discrepancies were immediately picked up by Xu Qian.
Once the confession was written down, Xu Qian and the court officer left the room.
In his twenty-odd years of service in the courts, the court officer had never seen an interrogation proceed as witnessed. “Your interrogation technique is truly unique and impressive. I have never seen anything like it.”
‘To take advantage of a suspect’s plight is a rudimentary tactic. It’s only surprising to you ancient fellows.’ Xu Qian waved his hand and said, “A minor accomplishment.”
He had decided to work on Yang Zhenzhen as she was less knowledgeable of the law. The lack of education was typical for a woman of this era.
During the round questioning in the main court, Xu Qian had observed the suspects and found the woman to be plagued with uncertainty and doubt.
Hence why he went with this approach.
It was a bluff he presented to Yang Zhenzhen. According to the laws, conspiratorial mariticide was punishable by death—death by a thousand cuts for the spouse and a public beheading for the co-conspirator. There was no getting off the death penalty.
In this case, it was Zhang Xian who committed the murder. The punishment for patricide was also death by a thousand cuts. Xu Qian cared little about the method of execution but he did not believe Yang Zhenzhen deserved the death penalty for being an accessory to murder.
It went against his principles from a previous life.
‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Adaptability is the greatest survival skill,’ Xu Qian told himself.
When Zhang Xian knew Yang Zhenzhen had confessed, there was little he could do but plead guilty.
Xu Qian brought the records of both accounts to the inner hall.
Magistrate Zhu had a cup in his left hand while his right hand held a scroll. He placed both items down when Xu Qian walked in. “How did it go?”
Xu Qian placed the two written records on his table. “Fortune is with us.”
Magistrate Zhu took the papers and read the accounts. When he was done, his palm hit the table as he shouted, “Bastards! Bastards!”
He was disgusted by the acts committed by the stepmother and stepson.
Once the rage simmered, he turned to look at Xu Qian. He was very impressed by the young man’s performance.
“Ningyan, your good deed will be remembered. Good job.”
“It is all thanks to your great influence. I learned a lot here,” Xu Qian said in his sincerest tone.
The glee on Magistrate Zhu’s face was plain.
When the session ended, Constable Wang indicated he wanted to treat the constables from the swift class to drinks.
The prices in that era were relatively stable and one silver mace was able to fetch a banquet-worth of food in a large tavern.
The stellar performance Xu Qian had put on—the case-cracking logic and unique interrogation method—made him the star of the night. Even Constable Wang asked for pointers in the examination process.
“The woman was weak-hearted and easily cracked. It really isn’t a big deal.” Xu Qian knew better than to self-praise but his colleagues were amazed by his work. It was as if Xu Qian had opened their minds to a new world.
There was much enthusiasm in their toasts to Xu Qian.
After three rounds of drinks, the topic eventually strayed to the playhouse and brothels.
Constable Wang took the spotlight. He patted Xu Qian’s shoulder and said, “Ningyan, let’s take you to the playhouse for some fun today.”
The other constables exchanged knowing glances—everyone knew Xu Qian was a virgin.
“Are you paying?”
“No way, it costs a few silver maces,” Constable Wang said.
‘If he’s not paying…’ Xu Qian replied, “Then I’m not the type of guy you’re looking for.”
Losing his virginity would mean Xu Qian would never master his Qi.
The mention of the pleasure house and playhouse brought forth some of the host’s memories. Xu Qian parsed through the information and concluded:
The playhouses were considered whorehouses that catered to the common folk. The pleasure houses were more esteemed establishments frequented by merchants and high-ranking officials. The class distinction was obvious.
The pleasure houses were also closely related to the Entertainment School.
“The women from the Entertainment School are absolutely beautiful, their skin so delicate and supple. A disgraced official would see the women of his family thrown into the Entertainment School,” Constable Wang said.
“I’ve only been to the pleasure house once with the county magistrate. I was lucky to see Lady Fuxiang, she was absolutely…” Constable Wang trailed off as his mind wandered.
Little Li asked, “Who is Lady Fuxiang? Did you have a go with her?”
“She is the Queen of Flowers, the best of the Entertainment School. I would have if she was available that day.” Constable Wang boasted.
Xu Qian was curious. “How much a night?”
“30 silver taels.”
Xu Qian tossed some peanuts at Constable Wang and said, “Have some nuts, I think you’re drunk.”
30 silver taels could fetch a man multiple young women straight to his doorsteps. Humans loved to drive up the price of everything—a bad habit that would last millennia.
Xu Qian concluded he would only pay such a price for a lay if he had lost his mind.