Different Year, Same Thing (Part 5)
Ling Qingshu broke the short silence: “Hahaha, here’s a tip for you: next time you malign someone, think about who you’re maligning first. Is this one someone you can malign just because you’re in the mood?”
“… And why are you not?”
“This one may not be worth a second glance, but do you think you can just deride Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary’s reputation built up over the millenniums? He cannot just let you tarnish his good father’s name. Her Majesty, this one’s aunt, is also not someone you can insult, you bum.” Ling Qingshu aimed his sword at Chao Ha and stared the latter down with a piercing gaze, warning, “If you don’t provide evidence for your claim, do not blame this one for defending his clan’s honour.”
Six of Hangzhou’s Seven Heroes backed off, literally, yet Cha Hao showed a hand and instructed, “Show Master Ming the evidence.”
Cha Hao’s three companions set down their big backpacks and untied them. Had it not been for the special material they used to make their makeshift backpacks, the smell of blood from the three corpses would’ve been bursting at the seams the entire time.
Hong Jiu yelled, “Who are they? Is he a robber, bandit, military snitch or traitor to the nation? Who are the two women, cheaters, spies or merciless villains?”
“None of the above,” answered Cha Hao. Pointing to the corpses one by one, he expanded, “This gentleman, who has more lacerations than a soldier who has been in a hundred battles, is Jiu Shaozhang, a man who operates a pancake store in Hangzhou for a living. According to this one’s knowledge, he has never committed any crimes all his life.
“The two women with their lips torn, bodies bruised and reeking of filth from male scum are his beloved daughter and wife. Miss Zhang was praised as a gentle maiden with a heart of gold. The greatest sin in her life is embodying beauty that had miscreants drooling over her.
“Mrs Zhang was always a dedicated wife and mother. Not one soul in the eight surrounding villages has one bad thing to comment about her. The only sin she ever committed was calling her husband a block of wood whenever he was dense, only to then joke over it with her husband.”
“I see. I see. Haha,” responded Hong Jiu.
Whack! Hong Jiu casually whacked the son of Changzhou’s Recoiling Wind Blade, knocking him back to the ground as soon as he got back in his seat, dislodging four teeth.
“H-how dare you hit me?!”
Ling Qingshu sarcastically chortled: “Wow. Is that your way of showing your stance?”
Hong Jiu smirked menacingly: “Your mother is next.”
Ling Qingshu prepared to strike but heard, “Second, relax. Let Young Master Ling speak.”
“Let the twerp bark? What are you thinking?”
“Mind your language. Young Master Ling is our guest. We have yet to see any substantial proof, and this is a serious accusation. We cannot convict him after hearing only one side of the story.”
“Fine!” Hong Jiu smiled aggressively and folded his arms: “Boys, bring me my fruit so that I can watch this show.”
When the fruit came, Hong Jiu bit into the peeled lychee as if it was Ling Qingshu’s head.
“Hahaha, he who knows how to choose is most wise. When Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary rules Hangzhou, Master Ming, you shall be honoured guest.”
“Patriarch Cha, do you have evidence?” Ming Feizhen asked, marginalising Ling Qingshu.
“I do. Jiu Shaozhang’s son saw the entire event unfold. Young man… tell him what you saw.”
Ling Qingshu didn’t regret what he did and wouldn’t mind owning up to it. However, having others from the orthodox sects lynch him and his actions in public would garner a different reaction. For that reason, he was glad Jiu Shaozhang’s son was too scared to utter a word in the presence of the strangers.
“Your so-called evidence is three corpses nobody knows about and a halfwit? You want to frame me with three random corpses you picked up from the sticks?” Ling Qingshu cracked a threatening smile: “Patriarch Cha, this one shall remember this.”
Translation: “You’re not leaving the mountain alive once we climb back down.”
“The boy seems incapable of testifying,” Ming Feizhen stated.
“… Please give him some time, Master Ming. The trauma must still be terrifying him.”
“No need. Some things don’t require someone’s testimony.” Ming Feizhen opened his red eyes nice and slow to inspect the three corpses, reeling off, “The three were harmed approximately three days ago. Men violated the two women. Judging from the wounds and smell on Miss Zhang was tortured before she was murdered. The fatal wound was the finger spear to her forehead. Judging from her bruises, it is evident that she put up a brave resistance. She has my respect.
“Mrs Zhang… There were one, two, three… six men who raped her and then choked to death. I suppose the culprit has a habit of asphyxiating women he beds but overdid it this time. Different number of men violated them and in different orders. I believe she tried to take all the men on at once to protect her daughter. She, too, deserves my respect as a mother.”