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    Chapter 58 - He Liang, The Scapegoat

    As He Zhiyuan finished speaking, he immediately sensed something amiss.

    Disregarding the fact that the person assisting in treating He Ming's injuries had a grudge against his family, he continued, "This doesn't make sense. He Ming and He Liang sustained identical injuries, and their conditions were almost the same yesterday. Could it be that He Liang didn't die from his wounds?"

    After examining He Ming's injuries, He Zhiran was now utterly convinced of this.

    According to Mo Jiuye's account, there had been no deviation in his execution; the two men's injuries were virtually indistinguishable.

    When she had just checked He Ming's condition, she could confidently affirm that apart from being somewhat weakened, he posed no immediate threat to his life. It was impossible for him to simply disappear after a nap.

    He Zhiran looked at the corpse on the other side and strode over to it, under the watchful eyes of everyone present.

    She lifted the tattered cloth covering He Liang's head, revealing his closed eyes. They weren't forcibly shut after death, indicating that he hadn't passed away in agony.

    Moreover, she could determine that He Liang had been dead for no more than two hours.

    To be precise, it was after Mo Jiuye's covert exploration of the county jail at night.

    After a meticulous examination, He Zhiran plucked out a slender silver needle from He Liang's Baihui acupoint.

    Throughout her investigation, Peng Wang and He Zhiyuan stood by, observing closely.

    Both were stunned when He Zhiran pulled out the needle.

    He Zhiyuan broke into tears again.

    "Who? Who on earth? It wasn't enough to injure my son, they had to take his life... Wuu... wuu... wuu..."

    As an experienced official, he was not entirely ignorant of such assassination methods.

    Only the most skilled assassins could kill without being detected.

    Moreover, the primary motive was always to silence the victim.

    He Zhiyuan fell into deep thought, pondering over the enemies his son might have made during their time in the capital city.

    Perhaps this would give him a clue as to who the murderer might be. However, he racked his brains but still couldn't recall when He Liang had offended such a formidable figure. He Liang's wife rushed over, tears streaming down her face, and covered his head with the tattered clothes again. Sobbing, she said, "When dawn was about to break, my husband said he was thirsty, so I gave him some water. And I wasn't sleeping that soundly either. How could I not have noticed someone coming to kill my husband? Oh, husband, it's my fault... Sobs... It's all because I didn't take good care of you... Sobs..." Seeing her sister-in-law in grief, He Ming's wife also started crying. "Our He family has already been exiled; who could still hold such a grudge against them? Thankfully, I took care of my husband on the other side of the shed last night. If we'd left the two brothers together, there might've been two deaths by now..." Listening to the wives of He Ming and He Liang, He Zhiran gleaned another piece of information: The two brothers hadn't been sleeping together last night. With this clue, He Zhiran's thoughts seemed to have become clearer. In a group of exiles, Peng Wang wouldn't have the option of sending He Liang's corpse to the county office for the magistrate to investigate the truth. All he could do was order the matter to be dealt with swiftly so as not to delay their journey.

    While the He family was still immersed in grief, the local authorities had already summoned a specialist in handling corpses, offering a few copper coins in exchange for removing He Liang's body.

    Having made some discoveries during the autopsy, He Zhiran didn't linger and bid Peng Wang farewell before returning to Mo Jiuye's quarters.

    Upon entering the room, Mo Jiuye eagerly inquired, "Did you find anything?"

    He Zhiran shared her findings with Mo Jiuye, emphasizing the fact that the He brothers hadn't been sleeping in the same spot.

    Mo Jiuye's eyes darkened instantly.

    Observing his expression, He Zhiran knew he must have had an inkling.

    "Do you think He Liang was set up to take the fall for you?"

    Mo Jiuye lifted his head, his gaze growing even more profound.

    "You share this suspicion too?"

    He Zhiran nodded and recounted her deductions.

    "He Liang's time of death was likely after you left that courtyard, indicating that those individuals had new plans unknown to you.

    If the assassin was targeting you, they would certainly seek out someone injured to strike.

    And He Liang happened to be resting near the edge of the shed. His wife helped him sit up to drink water just before dawn.

    I speculate that the killer noticed their interaction, confirmed He Liang's severe injuries, and, due to his resemblance to you in build, mistakenly took him for you," He Zhiran explained comprehensively, perfectly aligning with Mo Jiuye's assumptions.

    Mo Jiuye found this woman to be even more extraordinary than he initially thought. At the same time, he was grateful to have encountered such a wife – a significant aid sent from heaven itself.

    Strangely, despite the gravity of the situation, Mo Jiuye found himself thinking about irrelevant matters. However, he quickly reined in his wandering thoughts.

    "He Liang's death is actually beneficial to us."

    "Why?" He Zhiran inquired.

    "Assuming it's as you said, the assassin would have reported back that the assassination was successful. For a while, Nan Qi will believe I'm dead. Even if he senses something amiss, his next move won't be too hasty. We'll have some respite for now."

    He Zhiran knew Mo Jiuye's reasoning was sound. However, the tranquility he spoke of was only temporary. True peace seemed unattainable at present.

    Since setting off on this journey of exile with Mo Jiuye, He Zhiran had mentally prepared herself for unrest along the way, and this would likely continue into the future.

    "In that case, let's face whatever the future holds with open hearts. When soldiers come, we'll meet them with generals; when floods rise, we'll dam them with earth. Evil has never triumphed over good since ancient times. I refuse to believe that those with ill intentions can prevail for long."

    Nan Qi was a case in point. Historical records indicated that within five years of ascending the throne, his indulgence in women weakened his health, leading to an early demise. Following his death, his six-year-old son succeeded him, but the court was soon controlled by powerful officials, resulting in the collapse of the dynasty before long.

    However, He Zhiran had no intention of revealing these plans to Mo Jiuye. She had already altered his fate once; who knew what the future might hold?

    When Mo Jiuye was being expelled and his family's assets seized, he had lost all hope for the future, even embracing a sense of self-destruction.

    But after uncovering Nan Qi's true nature, his mindset underwent a complete transformation.

    Even He Zhiran, a newcomer to the Mo family, held an unwavering hope for the future. If the sole male heir of the Mo family continued to wallow in despair, he would be dishonoring his ancestors and the family members who were suffering alongside him.

    Regardless of the challenges ahead, he vowed to strive for survival. Even if their future lay in the barren northwest, as long as they remained united and harmonious as a family, it would be a blessing in disguise.

    With this thought in mind, Mo Jiuye instantly rallied his spirits.

    "Rest assured, I will spare no effort to protect our family and you."


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