The man stopped a few steps away from the entrance of the dungeon and then turned back to wait for Ao Jing. “Now, we have captured him. What else do you have to say now?”
Ao Jing gave a wry smile. This guy was surprisingly even more difficult to talk to than Liangqiu Min himself even though he hadn’t been the one whom they had tried to kill. Anyway, he was sure that he would be able to make him change his ways as well. “First of all, let me take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Ao Jing. I am a priest traveling the Jianghu.”
Liangqiu Min’s brother didn’t look as if he cared for this introduction at all but he still gave a grunt and nodded at him. “Liangqiu Huang.”
“Pleased to make your acquaintance.” Ao Jing forced himself to smile even though he didn’t feel too good about this person. Anyway, he had just imprisoned his husband. He definitely wouldn’t send him a thank you card. “Now, Mister Liangqiu, may I ask what exactly you already know about the situation? I’m sure that going from there, he will be able to investigate further.”
Liangqiu Huang glanced at the entrance of the dungeon as if he was contemplating just going in and killing the culprit, after all, but he still turned away in the end and walked forward, starting to explain without even looking whether Ao Jing was catching up to him or not. “A few hours ago, a merchant by the surname of Wang sent somebody over to tell me that my brother had been killed and that the culprit actually came to their town and bragged about it, showing off the pendant my brother liked to wear.
“I rushed over with some servants and just a short moment after we arrived, the two of you turned up and the guards were actually able to point you out.” He glanced at Ao Jing, his gaze not friendly at all. “You tell me: Don’t you feel that you’re very suspicious?”
Ao Jing smiled wryly. “If you say it like this, then that is definitely the case. Anyway, have you seen your brother’s remains already?”
Liangqiu Huang’s fingers clenched around the hilt of his sword and he stared at Ao Jing viciously. “Are you taunting me?”
Ao Jing’s expression became even worse. “If what you believe is true and I helped that person commit the crime, then taunting you really wouldn’t do me any good, would it? I’m asking simply for practical reasons. See, right now, if you haven’t actually seen his body, then the only reason you believe he is dead is because somebody told you he is.”
“Since the guards were able to point you out, I do believe that that person really must’ve bragged about it. Furthermore, he had both the painting and the jade pendant with him. Explain to me how that is possible if he didn’t kill him.”
Ao Jing fell silent for a moment but the pressure on explaining this wasn’t too high. “Well, rather than having killed him, maybe that person is a thief and gained those items by pickpocketing. While that is also committing a crime, your brother might still be alive. As for going so far as to brag about it … Sometimes, the ways of the Jiang Hu are unfathomable.
“Who knows what went on in his head? Anyway, this is but one possibility I can think of on the spot. Maybe there is another good explanation for all of this that I can’t even think of right now.”
Liangqiu Huang’s expression was thoughtful but there was still some doubt in his eyes. “If it was like this, then why didn’t he say so right now when I searched him and found these things?”
Ao Jing raised his hands, seeming resigned. “I can’t read his mind but I’m sure that I also would have trouble explaining myself if I was wrongly accused of killing a person and had a family member of theirs in front of me. That kind of thing can certainly make one feel awkward, wouldn’t you say so?”
Liangqiu Huang refused to say anything to that.
Ao Jing didn’t mind and instead redirected his attention to another point. “There’s one thing that I have trouble wrapping my head around. Maybe you are able to shed some light on this.”
“What is it?”
“What that person had in his bag was for one, a jade pendant. You said that this was something that your brother usually wore so it is not surprising. But what he also had was a painting of your brother. This shouldn’t have been something that your brother would keep on his person, right?”
This time, Liangqiu Huang’s expression turned a little doubtful. Indeed, it was very hard to explain this. In fact … This painting shouldn’t have been in his brother’s possession at all.
Seeing that things were working out quite nicely, Ao Jing struck while the iron was hot. “You wouldn’t know where the painting might’ve come from, would you?”
Liangqiu Huang seemed torn between telling him and just storming off to investigate things on his own but in the end, he sighed. “It was previously sent to his fiancee’s estate. It indeed shouldn’t have been with Ah Min.”
While he did not like telling a stranger about his family’s matters, he did have to say that this Ao Jing person had indeed been able to point out a few things that were quite strange about this incident. Maybe there really was more to this than he had seen. He should probably let him tag along to investigate this. That way, he might indeed be able to find the real perpetrator behind his brother’s death. That was certainly for the best.