Unscathed Murder, part 1

Both father and son continued chatting some more, but Lin Pingzhi couldn’t make up his mind if he should tell his father about the incident at the wine shop, and finally decided that he would tell his mother first. After dinner, the family of three remained in the Back Hall to converse.

Lin Zhennan was having a discussion with his wife as to what gift to get for her brother’s birthday in June. It would be tricky to find something appropriate that the Golden-Blade Wang family in Luoyang would hold in high esteem. Suddenly, uproar came from outside, and moments later, several people rushed into the room.

    “Where are your manners?” Lin Zhennan frowned. 

    Three henchmen had burst in. The man in front muttered in a disturbed tone, “Chief…Chief Master….” 

     “What’s the matter?” Lin Zhennan snapped in annoyance. 

     “Bai…Bai is dead,” Henchman Chen blurted out the words. 

      Lin Zhennan was slightly astounded. “Who killed him? Gambling must’ve led to the quarrelling!” He became quite angry, thinking how hard it was to regulate the roughnecks of the Escort House. They would often fight and draw their knives for no reason. And, as the Escort House was headquartered in the capital of the province, it could be rather troublesome if someone was killed on their premise.

Three henchmen reported that henchman Bai was died
Three henchmen reported that henchman Bai was died

     “No, it is not like that,” Chen explained hastily. “Xiao Li was going to the outhouse just a minute ago and saw Bai lying in the garden nearby. His body was already cold, but there’s not a single wound on the body. No one knows how he died. Must’ve been some kind of a disease.” 

     Lin Zhennan breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed immediately. “Let me go have a look.” He started walking toward the garden and Lin Pingzhi followed behind. 

When they arrived at the yard, a number of escorts and henchmen had already gathered around the body. Seeing the arrival of the Chief Master, the crowd moved back. Lin Zhennan took a close look at Bai’s corpse. Bai’s clothes had been unbuttoned, and clearly, there were no bloodstains. 

     “No wounds at all?” Lin Zhennan asked Escort Zhu, who stood next to him. “I’ve examined the body carefully, and there’s not a single wound anywhere on the body. It does not look like poison either,” Escort Zhu replied, to which Lin Zhennan acknowledged with a nod. 

     “Tell Dong the bookkeeper to arrange a funeral for Bai, and don’t forget to send a hundred taels of silver to his family,” Lin Zhennan directed. 

     The death of a henchman due to illness was not something Lin Zhennan would pay much attention to. “Didn’t Bai go hunting with you today?” he asked Lin Pingzhi after walking back to the living room. 

     “Yes, he did. He looked fine when we got back. Who’d think he would catch a deadly disease so unexpectedly,” Lin Pingzhi replied.

     “Many things in this world are like that,” Lin Zhennan commented. “Whether good or evil, they always happen in an unexpected manner. I’ve always wanted to open the escort trail through the province of Sichuan. I thought it would have taken at least another ten years. Who would have expected that Master Yu would somehow be prompted by some sudden impulse to not only accept my gifts, but to also send four apprentices such a long way to thank us?”

    “Father, although the Qingcheng Sword School is well-renowned, our Fortune Prestige Escort House is fairly famous too. We have been sending gifts to Sichuan year after year; it’s only natural for Master Yu to send people our way to show his gratitude as well.”

      “What do you know?” Lin Zhennan chuckled. “Qingcheng and Emei have been around for hundreds of years. They’ve had many outstanding disciples in their schools. Maybe they aren’t as famous as Shaolin or Wudang, but they certainly have enough fame to be placed next to Songshan, Taishan, Hengshan, Huashan, and Heng-Shan of the Five Mountains Sword Alliance. Your great grandfather, Sir Yuantu, founded the seventy-two moves of ‘Evil-Resisting Sword Art.’ This set of sword techniques shocked the entire Martial Arts Society and gained him great fame. You could say that he never met his match in swordplay. After this sword style was passed on to your grandfather, its eminence declined. It was then passed on to me, and I am afraid that it has declined even more in my hands. The Lin Family had only one child in each generation for the last three generations. We don’t even have any apprentices. With only you and me, we really don’t have the same kind of manpower that those other schools have.” (To be continued)

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