Stuck for the Moment
“Greetings Master Dee.” The others bowed as soon as they saw Dee. The other members all appeared fine, none of them looked like they were extremely injured. They all gathered in a small cafeteria and are dining together.
“How are you guys feeling after that fight?” Dee still wanted to make sure if his members are doing well, even though they looked full of energy.
The others claimed that they have all recovered, and didn’t encounter any major injuries. Only small ones here and there.
“How is Master Yuchi and Master Rui?” One member asked Dee.
“I heard from Shun that Yuchi is fine, but Rui hasn’t even woken up yet,” Dee told the truth. Some member’s faces expressed worriedness. Dee too is worried about Rui’s well-being, but according to Grandpa Yuan, Rui will be back to his normal self. “But I think soon Rui will wake up, the doctor said he will be fine. Do not worry.”
Dee’s words comforted the worried others. “Is your leg fine, Master Dee?” One member saw Dee limping a bit.
“All good,” Dee said. He sat down with the members and ordered his food. “Does anyone know the time?”
“Right now we are in the middle of the afternoon,” One member claimed.
The fight occurred early in the morning, so it hasn’t been particularly long for Dee to recover. There is still much time left for investigation today. They still have until the Lantern Festival starts, about seven to eight-day from now. The only problem is that because everyone is hurt, and their coachman has been killed, it’s going to be tough for them to return back to Chang’an.
Dee plans to stay in Zundian for a bit longer so that everyone is more healthy. If they encounter more assassins on their way back to Chang’an, then the members need to be able to have the ability to fight back. “Why not investigate the assassins.” Dee couldn’t believe he hadn’t thought of this idea yet. These assassins must have something to do with the two deaths, because why else would they choose to attack Dee. From the two killed assassins to their weapons and looks, maybe Dee could find some clues of who they are.
“What if these people are actually previous enemies of mine?” Dee thought of another possibility. Dee as a detective has made lots of enemies over all those years. These assassins could just be a group that has nothing to do with the two deaths. If this is really the case, then Dee would be in a tough position, as another potential evidence is cut off. But, just in case, Dee still decided to use the remaining time until tomorrow to investigate these assassins.
Dee devoured all his food in rapid succession, like a hungry homeless man. Then, ordered the members to go investigate the assassins. On the way Dee also found Shun again, ordering the injured Shun to keep an eye on Rui and Yuchi while they both are still unconscious.
Dee asked a localist whether the bodies are still left near the archway. The same localist told him that people have already cleaned up the battlefield, the dead bodies and dropped weapons have all been transferred elsewhere.
“Do you know where it has been transferred to?” Dee asked the localist
“I have some idea of where,” The localist thought about it. “I’ll try my best to lead you guys there.”
Dee and the others followed the kind-hearted localist around, soon successfully finding where the bodies were transferred to. Dee sincerely thanked the localist for his kind behaviors. Dee walked into the tent that contained the dead bodies, as soon as he lifted up the curtains Dee sensed the overwhelming smell of blood. Dee has been to lots of death scenes, so he is quite familiar with this smell. But he has never experienced the smell of four dead bodies stored in one small area of space. It almost made Dee throw up, but he resisted it.
“Ewww.” Some couldn’t hold back their disgust against the smell, however, the more disgusting thing might be the sight instead. The four bodies laid beside each other, one next to one. Each dead, miserably slain.
Dee told some to leave the tent, as it was too little to fit five people. He looked closely at the dead bodies. Two of which are his coachman. The other two are the enemies slain by Shun. The two enemies are still wearing their masks, Dee went ahead and slowly removed them to see their faces.
“Does anyone recognize him?” Dee asked as he couldn’t tell who this person is. The others peeked in, none of which knew this face. This guy appeared to be a younger man, tanned skinned, muscular built. Has a messy, grubby beard, and longer hair for regular men. Judging by his look, this enemy doesn’t look all that foreign. But Dee could clearly remember them speaking in a foreign language. The man had really well-built muscles on his arm and legs, but this is typically common amongst masters of Kung Fu. This man probably is a well-trained, experienced fighter. The man had an overwhelming amount of scars on both of his legs, but this doesn’t really help Dee to determine where this group of assassins belong.
Dee moved over to the other guy. The story is more or less the same, Dee couldn’t really figure out anything. This person is also a younger man. Tanned skinned, muscular built, also lots of scars on his legs. Lots of his features are similar to the first enemy’s, the main difference is that this person is on the shorter side of a regular man.
Just by looking at their appearance alone, there does not seem to be any useful information. Their clothing is ordinary ones that assassins would wear, the fabric made out of fine silk. To some degree, it even looked a bit similar to the Dali uniforms. Dee decided to check if the two had any items they brought with them. After searching their pockets, Dee found a knife in one of them’s pockets. The knife is shaped ordinarily, however, it seems not made of iron. From the texture, Dee thinks this knife is made up of animal bones. This is a useful clue, as really nobody uses bone-made tools anymore. Dee carefully wrapped the bone knife with a handkerchief and put it in his pocket. It would be miserable if he lost this evidence.
Dee then looked over at the two coachman. Both of them appear to be slain by swords. Dee obviously knows who they are, but maybe there are traces on their dead bodies that are useful. But nothing was found.
Dee stepped outside of the tent and took a deep breath. There is no other information within the tent, Dee has carefully examined all of them. Outside, laid weapons that the enemies have left. A total of three swords and one spear. One of the swords belongs to Dee, the one he dropped during the fight. Dee lifted his sword and carefully put it back in the scabbard. Dee is particularly curious about the spear, as Dee was dueling with the spare user during the fight. The spear user is also the one who Dee heard, said the foreign language.
Dee closely examined the spear, it seems not to be any different from a regular spear. He then looked over at the tip of the spear, it still had dried blood on it. Dee gazed even closer, he saw a shade of purple covered by the blood. All of a sudden, Dee remembered what Grandpa Yuan had told him. Dee had a poisonous effect. At the time, Dee wasn’t fully conscious yet, so he did not think about the poisonous effect. But now, thinking about it, how was Dee poisoned?
Combining the shade of purple with the poisonous effect Dee had, this group of assassins probably applied poisonous materials onto the tip of their weapons. This can explain why Dee was poisoned. Dee eagerly checked the tips of other weapons, however, none seems to have any usual. “Maybe it’s just the spear that was applied with poison,” Dee thought.
Dee asked the others if they had a poisonous effect after the fight. None of which had. They claimed that they only encountered physical pain, and did not feel any signs of being poisoned or ill.
“Why would they only apply poison on the spear?” Dee thought it was very strange. It would make more sense if they all applied the poison so that the deadly venom can help these people kill. However, only one of them did so, this is what confuses Dee.
This is another situation where the use of poisons is relevant, there is a strong suggestion that these assassins are related to the two cases in Chang’an. Dee might not know who these people are, but he knows that they certainly love using poisons. If all three interactions involve poisons, then the poisons which they’ve used might just be the key factor in solving these cases, returning Chang’an into its former glory.
As Dee was concentrating on figuring out a possible answer, someone lightly tapped on his shoulders. “Who?” Dee asked, he got a little shooked. Dee immediately looked back, it was Rui.
Rui’s face is dead grey, it’s almost like he hasn’t eaten for weeks. “It’s me.” Rui’s voice is weak and quiet. Contrasting with the normally energetic Rui.
“Are you feeling fine? Because you look very sick.” Dee worried.
“I just got up.” Rui tried to up his volume. “I drank some soup. I think I’ll be just fine.”
“Take a rest if you need to,” Dee said. “There is no rush right now.”
Rui nodded. The others handed Rui their jacket so that Rui wouldn’t get sick.
“Where is Shun?” Dee asked. He remembers telling Shun to take care of Rui and Yuchi.
“He’s with Yuchi now, I think,” Rui said.
Dee realized that he hadn’t visited Yuchi yet. He did hear from Shun that Yuchi is doing fine, so Dee’s not too worried. However, Dee plans after spending some time investigating, he is going to check on Yuchi. If Yuchi is in good condition, then the crew can start making their way back to Chang’an sooner, maybe even today evening.
“Rui,” Dee called. “Did the doctor tell you if you had a poisonous effect after the fight?”
“Umm, the doctor here didn’t mention anything about poison,” Rui said. “I was just bleeding too much, that’s why I look dead.”
“Did you recall anything important that can help us identify who they are?”
“Sorry, Master Dee. I can’t remember anything right now.” Rui coughed.
“What is about the poisonous effect that is making you so curious?” Rui asked Dee. His voice is still weak.
Dee showed Rui his findings, the bone knife, as well as the tip of the spear. He explained his thoughts and theory about it. “The doctor told me that I had a poisonous effect, but I never recalled being poisoned,” Dee told Rui.
“So, the spear that was applied poison on, slashed right through the side of your leg, and caused you to be poisoned,” Rui repeated Dee’s thoughts. “How does the doctor here know that you are poisoned? I can’t believe that in such a poor town, there are actually good doctors.”
“They indeed are not wealthy, but it is enough for living,” Dee said. “I can tell people here are happy.”
“I would argue people in Chang’an are also happy, before these series of events.”
“That’s just the outer layer,” Dee argued back. “There are issues that could not be overshadowed by the gleaming lights at the surface. This little town is peaceful and pleasant.”
“But that is another topic, I should really ask the doctor about my poisonous effect,” Dee then said, steering the wheels back to the more important topic. “Maybe we can then find out which poisons these people have used against us. You still have the book that Master Tianlan gave us, right?”
“Ehh.” Rui panicked, trying to think of where the book is. “I think it’s in the hunt I woke up in.”
“Then, we shall head on over,” Dee ordered.
Dee and Rui made an effort back to the cottage. Dee ordered the others to head over to the battlefield, to take care of the horses and see if the carriage still works. Also, there could be some potential evidence left after the fight.
Dee gently knocked on the wooden wall, checking if Grandpa Yuan is inside. Seconds after, Grandpa Yuan peeked out the curtain door, seeing Dee and Rui waiting, standing patiently. “Oh, it’s you guys.” He seemed to be delighted at their return.
“May we enter and chat a bit?” Dee asked.
“You are welcome to do so.” Grandpa Yuan gladly let the two in. Dee really appreciated his hospitality. Grandpa Yuan pulled out some chairs for the two to sit on. “The place is a bit simple for your standards.”
“Not at all.” Dee laughed.
“In contrast, Isn’t Chang’an way nicer than Zundian?” Grandpa Yuan added.
“It depends on the lifestyle you enjoy,” Dee answered.
“How do you know that we are from Chang’an?” Rui curiously asked. Rui found his belongings, including the book given by Tianlan.
“I saw his badge.” Grandpa Yuan pointed at Dee. “Official Di Renjie, the famous detective Dee.”
“You used to live in Chang’an?” Dee asked grandpa Yuan.
“Indeed,” Grandpa Yuan said. “I moved to Zundian about five years ago.”
“Why would you move here?” Rui asked.
“Reasons.” Grandpa Yuan sighed. “I used to be a doctor in the Royal Palace. Because of an event, I had to come to Zundian.”
“What event?” Rui kept asking.
“The past is the past, I don’t want to talk about it.” Grandpa Yuan stood up, he walked over and made a pot of tea. He handed the warm tea to the two and continued his story. “When I first came to Zundian, the medical industry here was a mess. Many people had lots of diseases. After my arrival, I started teaching people basic medical knowledge. Over the years many promising young doctors have arisen. Zundian is no longer the slum of Chang’an, rather a small town of its own.”
“Then you must be a really great, kind-hearted doctor,” Dee said. His praises made Grandpa Yuan smile.
“We’ve probably met before, Master Dee.” Grandpa Yuan tapped Dee’s shoulders. “I remember you working for Dali. You solved the mystery phantom knight case, it made you famous all across the area. Probably the best detective ever.”
“Ok, you guys said you wanted to chat with me about something.”
“You said I was poisoned,” Dee said. “Could you identify what kind of poison I attract?”
“Your right leg got affected by Rosemary Flower,” Grandpa Yuan said. “This thing makes people feel dizzy, even passing out. Only a bit will make people feel its effect, but it does not cause death.”
Rui took out his notebook and recorded the information down as fast as he could.
“Rosemary flowers used to be a medication,” Grandpa Yuan continued. “It used to be used when eunuchs did their surgeries. This will make them pass out and eliminate pain. However, some people started using it inappropriately and committed some illegal things. Thus, about ten years ago it was banned from ever being sold or used again in the country.”
“So does this mean that Rosemary flowers are super rare right now?” Dee asked.
“Rosemary flowers went from a medication to a banned poison. However, the process of retaining the poison is very easy. So if not caught, the poison could be made by anyone.”
“But Master Dee did not take in the poison with his mouth,” Rui argued back.
“Some poisons out there could affect people by infection of wounds, Rosemary Flower is one of them.”
“Do you recognize this also?” Dee showed Grandpa Yuan the white powder found in General Sha’s mansion.
“Just by the look, I’m not sure. Do you know the symptoms?”
“It makes people wobble, feel sick and weak. I think that these are the symptoms,” Dee told Grandpa Yuan what he had guessed the symptoms are. This was based on the lady that claimed she saw General Sha acting weird before his death.
Grandpa Yuan thought for a moment. “Huh, I don’t know. I’m not the best of the best after all.”
“You are a great doctor,” Dee complemented. He looked towards Rui. He has recorded all the information down in the notebook.
“Rui, search for the Rosemary Flower in the book,” Dee ordered. He referred to the book given by Tianlan.
“You guys are interested in poisons.” Grandpa Yuan saw the book.
“Yes, indeed,” Dee replied.
“As doctors, we define poisons as hate, while medications as love.” Grandpa Yuan told Dee. “You can always use love to cure hate.”
“It’s not that the herbs are poisonous, it’s the heart that is full of hate,” Dee added.
Grandpa Yuan laughed, “You know, I’ve read that book before.”
“Oh really. Then do you still remember the title for this book?” Dee asked as the title is completely unable to be seen for their book.
“Too old, I forget about things.” Grandpa Yuan laughed. “This book was actually written by my friend.”
“May I know his name?” Dee requested.
“If the author could write about all those things, he must be an expert,” Dee explained. “Maybe I could find him, and inquire about my questions.”
“Can’t, he died a few years ago.” Grandpa Yuan sighed, his face showed some grief. His hand waved around, this triggered Grandpa Yuan’s past memories.
“We are sorry to hear that.”
“Why are you guys so interested in medications and poisons?” Grandpa Yuan quickly put away his grief, switching the topic.
“Recently bad things have been happening in Chang’an,” Dee told Grandpa Yuan what Chang’an has gone through for the past week. “An unknown disease spreading around in the city, cure still unable to be found. Additionally, two significant figures have been poisoned consecutively. We are assigned to solve the two cases.”
“That’s some unfortunate news to hear.” Grandpa Yuan sobbed. “Sorry that I couldn’t do anything to help the city.”
“No need to be sorry, Grandpa Yuan,” Dee comforted.
Grandpa Yuan reached in his pockets. He took out a small round looking object. “This is a talisman that my friend gave me. Take it, it can protect you. This is the only thing I can do for the city of Chang’an.”
“It’s better for you to keep it yourself, Grandpa Yuan.” Dee refused to take the talisman.
“My friend gave this to me. Now I gave it to you, my friend.” Grandpa Yuan really wanted Dee to take the talisman. Dee did not want to keep arguing back and forth, he reluctantly accepted the gift. “It’s not late now, you guys should go.”
“Thank you very much.” Dee and Rui both stood up and bowed.
“Feel free to come here anytime, I really do enjoy today’s conversation,” Grandpa Yuan said.
Grandpa Yuan stood up, escorting the two out of his cottage. Just as the two are about to leave by the door, Grandpa Yuan stops them. “One more thing. Just remember, a poison always comes with a cure, just like a question always comes with an answer. This is something my friend taught me.”