The Tang Dynasty’s Female Forensic Doctor Chapter 72: Miss Wei
Hi there, from now on I’ll be posting Tang Dynasty Female Forensic Doctor here on Foxaholic. Good read ~
There was soft tissue around most parts of the bones, so it wasn’t just white bones. They were a horrendous sight, especially the skulls which still had some hair on them and the flesh that had not yet completely fallen. Seeing it made Wan Lu suffer waves of nausea.
Only after a long time did Wan Lu calm down. She sneaked a look at Provincial Governor Liu and saw that his brows were twisted, his face filled with disgust as he stood at the corner. The anger in her heart flared up, and she thought: you knew this would be nauseating and still dragged my Miss here to identify them.
But, despite her anger, she didn’t act impulsively and lost her temper with Provincial Governor Liu. A yamen runner immediately came from the side with a pair of gloves in hands, and after swiftly putting them, she squatted at Ran Yan’s side, “Miss, how do you identify it? Nubi  will do it.”
Ran Yan was inspecting the degree to which the teeth of a skull have been worn out when she heard Wan Lu’s voice and noticed that it carried traces of anger. She couldn’t help turning her head to look at her, faintly curving her lips. Turning over the skull, she said: “The joint of the body of the sphenoid bone is separated from the base of the occipital bone before adulthood by a cartilage called sphenobasilar suture, and it heals between the ages of twenty-one to twenty-three. After the age of forty, this suture will completely disappear.”
Ran Yan pointed at that suture to show it to Wan Lu, “See this, completely healed but hasn’t disappeared, indicating that it should have at least twenty-one years old or more, but under forty years old. After that, it can be inferred from the degree of tooth wear.”
Although she continued to explain it, Ran Yan will not really let Wan Lu be responsible for differentiating them. She simply feels that Wan Lu is quite brave and has great potential.
“Wear attrition refers to the process of chewing food throughout our lives where the incisal and occlusal surfaces of the upper and lower teeth gradually deteriorate.” Ran Yan pulled the lower jaw for Wan Lu to carefully see the teeth’s cross-section, “For example, the teeth from this skull. The greater part of its tip has been eroded, and part of its dentin is exposed, this can be seen at the teeth’s cross-section. After the wearing of the teeth surface, the dentin is exposed, and we can then make the judgment. The age of this skull should be around thirty-six to forty-five.”
Wan Lu asked: “And that skull, should be around thirty-six to forty-five too?”
“Correct.” Ran Yan nodded her head satisfied and continued to examine the healing state of other parts of the skull, “Once the other parts of the skeleton are found, the error can be narrowed down to two years.”
Feng Sanxun saw Ran Yan reduce the age scope step by step, and decided to join in too, “What if the teeth never wear out, or suffers excessive tooth wear?”
Ran Yan did not avoid the question and, while she set apart the skulls, she explained the different conditions of each one, “If you want to have a thorough understanding, you must first have a clear grasp of the internal structure of the tooth, then you can cut it open and examine it. Under normal circumstances, we classify tooth wear into six degrees: the first level is a slight wear at the tip and edge of the tooth, this stage appears around fifteen to twenty-five years old; the second level refers to a wear down or a central depression on the occlusal surface, occurring between twenty-six to thirty-five years old…”
As Ran Yan spoke, she rapidly threw away all the broken bones she had eliminated.
Since these skeletons were buried wrapped in mats, they weren’t legally binding, and fortunately, the soft tissues weren’t completely gone, causing the many bones attached to them to be kept together.
Ran Yan’s hands gradually assembled two female bodies accordingly to their respective ages.
Precisely when Liu Pinrang’s brows had relaxed a little, a squad captain suddenly came running from the outside, going towards Liu Pinrang and raising his hands in salutation before saying: “Provincial Governor, this subordinate went to arrest Third Miss Yin as ordered. We searched the Yin Fu for two ke (30min) but the person was not found, and there was no one in the Yin Fu who was aware of her whereabouts.”
“Her whereabouts are unknown?” Liu Pinrang’s eyebrows that had just relaxed frowned once again, “Pass on my orders: search the whole city.”
“Wait.” Ran Yan got up and said: “Provincial Governor Liu might as well assign a few more people towards Pingjiang’s riverside.”
Liu Pinrang immediately made the connection of this matter with Yin Wanwan’s death and ordered: “Send half of the people towards Pingjiang’s river. This official will personally go, so the court hearing is postponed for a day.”
Ran Yan lowered her eyes to look at the two female corpses. Suddenly, she turned to chase after Liu Pinrang, “Provincial Governor Liu, I’m going with you, maybe I can help narrow the search range.”
The river in Pingjiang is over five li long (2,5km|1,67mile), so even if the entire fubing  in Suzhou were to be dispatched, they would have to search for several hours. Liu Pinrang stopped, and reluctantly nodded, saying: “Ok.”
Ran Yan and Wan Lu quickly followed Liu Pinrang towards the stable. When they were passing by the intersection, they chanced upon a few yamen runners restraining a middle-aged woman. That woman’s hands and feet were chained, but her clothes were still neat and proper, and her hair didn’t have one disheveled strand. Her indifferent appearance was like the smudged ink forming the misty rain, and her slender figure was like the gentle wind supporting the willow. She was dressed in a white organdy beizi  with a light gray skirt, her whole person seemed the pinnacle of tenderness and tranquility as she walked in the small bluestone alley in a rainy-day during June at Suzhou.
The woman paused her steps when she saw Ran Yan. She lifted her eyes and gave a faint nod towards Ran Yan, then unhurriedly turned around and walked away, as if the ten or more jin (1/2 kilo) of iron chains were nothing more than ornaments.
“Miss Wei.” Ran Yan has never seen her, but seeing her at that moment, she was certain that she was Miss Wei.
Miss Wei stopped and turned over sideways, speaking in a cold and cheerless voice: “You are Seventeenth Miss Ran right, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
This woman had presence and refinement; it was as if she had come out from a wash painting. Accusing her of having killed someone, if there wasn’t enough evidence, it would be very difficult to make people believe in it.
However, Ran Yan noticed one problem: Miss Wei never paid Wan Lu any attention. If she is indeed the woman who was conspiring with Cui Mei, under no circumstances could she be completely unfamiliar with Wan Lu.
“Cui Mei…” When Ran Yan spoke this name, she saw Miss Wei’s body stiffen, and she immediately asked: “Who is she to you?”
Miss Wei slowly closed her eyes, her bright red lips opened slightly, “Daughter, she is my daughter.”
At the time she voiced the last word, Miss Wei’s body completely tensed up, and her voice quivered, delaying the final word for two breaths, then resumed as usual. She turned to face Ran Yan, faintly smiling: “Can I ask you a favor?”
“Go ahead.” Ran Yan replied.
Miss Wei leisurely walked over. Standing in front of Ran Yan, she gently grasped her hand, saying: “Once I die, spend two liang (50g) of silver and ask someone to prepare my body for the burial, then bury me together with Cui Mei. I think, you might need it.”
After the last remark, the others that were listening were left bewildered. Then the slender and beautiful Miss Wei showed a respectful obeisance towards Ran Yan before turning and departing with quick steps.
Ran Yan tightened the warm and sweaty paper, turning towards her back view to say: “I will help you.”
Because Miss Wei had delayed them for short while, Ran Yan stuffed the thing that Miss Wei gave her inside her sleeve, then she took Wan Lu and hurriedly walked away.
They couldn’t, of course, go arrest a criminal in a carriage, but thanks to Ran Yan often going to a horse ranch in the past, she could now ride a horse at ease. Provincial Governor Liu had yet to ask her about it when Ran Yan took the horsewhip from the yamen runner’s hands, turned around and rode the horse, then smoothly pulled Wan Lu up.
Ran Yan ignored the shocked expression on Wan Lu’s face and said: “Hold on to me.”
Wan Lu complied and held Ran Yan’s slender waist. Ran Yan immediately brandished the whip once, producing a ‘pah’ sound and leading the horse to leisurely run a few steps before scurrying away just like a whirlwind.
It kicked up a trail of dust on the ground, leaving the entire fubing and all yamen runners staring open-mouthed at the figure that was moving further and further away.
Liu Pinrang was also amazed but he also couldn’t afford to think too much about it, promptly waving his whip and rushing forward.
The horses galloped for some time and Ran Yan arrived at the riverside almost at the same time that fubing’s captain Yang Yong.
However, there were two people being carried on Ran Yan’s horse! And Yang Yong caught up to them by riding alone. He turned to look at Ran Yan with admiration but was immediately startled; it was his first-time seeing Ran Yan’s appearance so clearly: a jade-like face with fine beads of sweat trickling on its surface, causing her fair complexion all the more glittering and translucent. Yang Yong has heard many of the rumors going around during these last few days, even so, this elegant and exquisite face in front of him makes it difficult for people to picture what kind of expression it ought to make when holding a knife to cut open a corpse.
Ran Yan and Wan Lu had just dismounted from the horse when Liu Pinrang and the others arrived.
This was the place of that nigh during Qixi: the willow tree at the embankment where Yin Miaomiao and Fourth Master Qin were. It was a scene of unusual beauty when seeing it at daytime: the willow branches hanged down loosely, the clear blue sky, and the delicate and charming flowers that spread across the thick grass at the side of the riverbank.
This was the first time Wan Lu rode a horse, and she was jolted to the point of her complexion turning somewhat pale. She ran to the side of a tree in search of a support, taking in big gasps of air.
Liu Pinrang surveyed the surroundings and asked: “Seventeenth Miss Ran, why come to this place?”
Ran Yan had just opened her mouth to explain when she heard Wan Lu cry, “Miss, there’s blood!”
Liu Pinrang and the others immediately dismounted and quickly walked towards the place.
Ran Yan also followed the direction Wan Lu pointed. There was blood that was being covered by the thick grass, it flowed through the embankment slope into the river. The border where the water met with the shore meandered through the curly flowers.
Liu Pinrang ordered people to go over and inspect it. An instant later, someone’s voice was heard, “Reporting to Provincial Governor, there was no one down there, but there are traces of something being dragged next to the bloodstains.”
“Could it be a corpse?” Liu Pinrang thought of Yin Wanwan’s drowned corpse and promptly questioned.
Ran Yan slid down the grass to the bank and saw for herself the trail of blood. She calculated that it had roughly half zhang (1.67m|1.83yard), and it was obvious that it was dragged for some distance from the edge of the embankment, but the blood trace was cut off halfway before it reached the river.
Since it needed to drag the body in order to move it, why drag it only halfway? Did the traces simply vanished? Regardless of it being a drowned corpse or a corpse being displaced, this kind of circumstances should not happen.
Liu Pinrang instructed the fubing to search within one li (0,5km|0,33mile) radius of the embankment, then he went down to personally examine the bloodstains. He was also burning with impatience; the moment this case was about to reach an end – since they had a suspect, a witness testimony, and even part of the evidence -, and they were one step away from the truth, so many unsolved mysteries started to arise. The suspect unexpectedly disappeared, and the situation seemed as if the person has probably been murdered.
Is it possible that it isn’t as Miss Wei has said, and Yin Miaomiao really isn’t the mastermind?
Liu Pinrang was in a terrible state. He looked at the half zhang of bloodstain and deeply exhaled, calming down his anxious and chaotic mind to carefully observe the rest of the blood on the riverbank.
“It couldn’t be that something happened with Third Miss Yin, right?” Wan Lu asked.
Ran Yan stared at the blood within the water, with her eyes down and in complete silence.
“Wan Lu, how was my relationship with Yin Miaomiao?” Ran Yan softly asked.
Wan Lu lowered her voice to answer: “Did Miss discovered something and is thinking about covering it up for her?”
“Just answer me.” Ran Yan frowned.
Wan Lu deliberated for quite some time before replying: “Besides getting along very well with Fourth Miss Yin, Miss had an ordinary friendship with the other Misses.”
 Nubi = term of self-address used by maidservants/slave girls. ↺