Chapter 1019: The Truth Comes to Light
Zu An gave the child a look.
He wanted to say something, but he hesitated.
The woman patted her son and said, “My son, go and play in the back for a while.”
“Okay!” The little child wanted to test out his new weapon anyway.
He happily ran toward the back when he heard that.
“Be careful not to hurt yourself with that sword!” Zu An warned him.
The other party was still young after all.
It would be bad if he ended up accidentally hurting himself.
“It’s fine; he’s always secretly played with his father’s sword ever since he was little.
He was already beaten several times for that.” The woman’s expression immediately eased a bit when she heard the other party’s sincere concern for her son.
“Why have I never heard that my husband had friends like the two of you”
“Greetings, elder sister.
Big Bro Chen saved me once before on a mission, but because of different assignments, we went our separate ways.
I wanted to meet with him again after returning to Cloudcenter Commandery and properly thank him for saving my life.
But who would’ve thought that I would end up hearing such grievous news about him” Zu An sighed with sorrow.
Pei Mianman looked at him in alarm. Isn’t this guy a bit too good at acting He’s completely immersed in this role! She had actually been worried before, feeling that he might be deceived by a woman back then, but wasn’t the woman the one being completely duped this time
But then she heard him say that his name was An Man.
Wasn’t that created from combining their names She immediately felt happy when she thought of that.
The woman’s eyes turned red when she thought of her husband.
She felt broken-hearted as she said, “It’s all because of those smugglers…”
“Elder sister, please don’t feel too sad.” Zu An took out a hundred taels of fine silver from his Brilliant Glass Bead, put them into a wooden case, and handed it over.
“This is a bit of my own regard; I hope elder sister will accept it.”
“I can’t, I can’t, it’s too much…” The woman was hard-pressed and quickly rejected the offer.
She wiped her hands on her dress and didn’t even know where to place them.
A hundred taels of silver wasn’t much for a rich and powerful man, but it was a huge sum of money for common people.
“How can a life-saving grace be valued by money” Zu An said with an upright expression, “I only hate the fact that I was too late to save Big Bro Chen.
The only thing I can do is help him take care of his family a bit.”
Seeing that the woman still wouldn’t take it, Pei Mianman said with a smile, “Elder sister, even if you aren’t thinking for yourself, please consider this for your child.
Wouldn’t it be great if your child could have a better environment to grow up in”
The woman only accepted the gift when she heard Pei Mianman mention her son.
She thanked the two of them while saying to Pei Mianman, “This lady really is beautiful and outstanding.
Is she your wife”
Zu An nodded and held Pei Mianman’s hand, saying, “Yes, she is.”
Pei Mianman’s eyes turned a bit red when she heard him introduce her like that.
Because of her relationship with Chu Chuyan, she had always intentionally avoided naming their relationship.
But back then, her mother had passed away without even properly becoming the main wife of the Pei clan, so how could she not care about such a thing When she heard him say that, she felt that everything she had done was worth it.
“What a blessing; the two of you are definitely a perfect match,” the woman said with a sigh.
“Chen Zhou unfortunately didn’t have such luck…” She silently wiped at her eyes after saying that.
Pei Mianman handed over a handkerchief.
However, the woman didn’t take it for fear that she would dirty the pretty snow-white handkerchief.
She just casually wiped her tears on the corners of her dress.
“Elder sister, do you know which smuggler Big Bro Chen was investigating I want to see if I can avenge him.” Zu An took the chance to inquire about the matter.
The woman shook her head and said, “He never told me anything about his work.
Also, his mission was especially secretive, so there was no way he would tell me.
As for what he was investigating, only the government authorities would know, right… Brother An, don’t get involved in this matter anymore.
Your Big Bro Chen has already lost his life.
If you end up losing your life too, we won’t be able to live in peace for the rest of our lives!”
“Elder sister, don’t worry; I’ll be careful and won’t do anything reckless,” Zu An reassured her.
He then asked, “By the way, after something happened to Big Bro Chen, did the authorities give you any compensatory silver If not, I can help you urge them a bit.
I can’t let my brother’s dedication go unrewarded, after all.”
Some government officials came by just a few days after something happened to that child’s father.
The leader was the previous captain; I think he was surnamed Gong or something…” The woman couldn't remember the name on the spot.
“Gong Pan” Zu An asked.
“Exactly! That’s him,” the woman said.
She continued, “Sir Gong is really a good official! After something happened to that child’s father, I felt as if the skies h ad collapsed.
Fortunately, I had Sir Gong to help me take care of the funeral arrangements, and only then could we manage to survive this most difficult time.
“The compensation was given by Sir Gong too.
Only later did I learn that it was a bit higher than usual.
Sir Gong probably added a bit out of his own pockets.
“I’ve always wanted to find a chance to return it to him, but I have to take care of my son and can’t leave.
Sir Gong is always busy as well, so I’m worried that I’ll disturb him.
Brother An, perhaps you could help me bring the silver to Sir Gong”
Zu An immediately refused, saying, “Elder sister, you’re treating us like outsiders here.
That was Sir Gong’s sincerity toward all of you.
Wouldn’t you be putting him in a difficult situation by returning it You should just accept it.”
The woman looked moved.
She said, “All of you are great people.
Even though that child’s father wasn’t so blessed, he had fellow soldiers like all of you, so he didn’t live his life in vain.”
Zu An chatted a bit more with her.
But then, he suddenly said casually, “Right, I heard Brother Chen mention that his leg broke once before, but even though his injury healed, he’d still feel a dull ache when it got too windy or rainy.
I bought some jade ointment for that, but it doesn’t have any use now.
I’ll just leave it with you.” He took out a bottle of ointment while speaking.
The woman looked stunned.
She asked, “Chen Zhou’s leg was injured before Why have I never heard about it before”
“It might be because he was scared of worrying you and didn’t tell you.” Zu An thought to himself, As expected.
The madam looked confused.
She was clearly recalling her interactions with her husband.
Zu An had originally wanted to ask if Chen Zhou had left any last words or possessions, but asking that directly would be too abrupt.
As such, he changed his mind and said, “Right, elder sister, since Big Bro Chen’s case has never been solved, I want to see if there are any new clues we can use to bring the criminal to justice.
This will help Big Bro Chen rest in peace too.
“I wonder when it was that elder sister last saw Big Bro Chen Did he act strange in any way”
The two of them had already chatted leisurely for some time, and the other party had even given her so much silver as a gift.
When the woman heard that, she replied, “I don’t think he did.”
Zu An felt disappointed at first, but he suddenly heard the woman say, “There was something, but I don’t know if it counts.”
“Even the smallest matter might contain some clues,” Zu An quickly replied excitedly.
The married woman began to think to herself, “That day, the child’s father didn’t say anything to me, but he seemed to have a lot on his mind.
He even carried our son for a long time.
But, he rarely spent time with the child.
It almost felt like a kind of premonition toward his own death.” She couldn't hold back her tears again when she said that.
Zu An and Pei Mianman consoled her for a while.
Then, her son rushed out with the short sword while shouting ‘charge’! Zu An took the chance to pull him aside and ask him what his father had told him that day.
“I don’t really remember…” The child scratched his head.
A while later, he said, “Actually, I don’t think he really said anything.
He just played war games with me for a bit.”
Zu An asked him about some more details, but they had really only played with each other.
There hadn’t been any secret messages or anything.
Pei Mianman also asked, “Elder sister, can we take a look around Big Brother Chen’s room He might have left behind some clues there.”
Pei Mianman was extremely beautiful.
With her smiling eyes, she gave off a natural feeling of closeness.
They had chatted with each other all this time, and she had always called the woman ‘elder sister’, so the woman was naturally extremely happy.
“Of course you can!” The woman pulled on her hands and said in praise, “Sister, you really are outstanding!”
Pei Mianman felt a bit embarrassed.
She and Zu An quickly went to examine Chen Zhou’s room.
Unfortunately, the two of them didn’t find anything of value even after searching for a long time.
There were only some ordinary lifestyle goods inside.
“Right, the local authorities came before and brought away a lot of things that were related to his work, saying it was conventional practice and that the items needed to be brought back to be investigated,” the woman said from off to the side.
Zu An thought to himself, No wonder there aren’t many things here. He asked, “Elder sister, do you know the name of the one who took these things away”
“It was Sir Gong, of course,” the woman replied.
“Hm” Zu An raised his eyebrows.
He had a pensive expression on his face.
The two chatted with the mother for a while longer, then got up to bid her farewell.
On the way back, however, Pei Mianman finally couldn't hold back and asked out of curiosity, “Aren’t you going to investigate the other two’s wives and children Why did you only go to Chen Zhou’s family”
“There’s no need to visit the other two families,” Zu An explained.
“I already examined Cheng Ba.
The chance that someone could fake a death so seamlessly is too low.
The same is true for Yu Li as well.
He had his cultivation sucked out by Thick-Browed Daoist, and I myself can verify that.
Even though his appearance changed greatly after turning into a dried corpse, as someone who knows a similar technique, there’s no way I would make a mistake there.
Therefore, there’s nothing wrong with those two’s identities.
“As for Chen Zhou, even though he was indeed burned to death, I can’t confirm if it really was him because his face was destroyed.
I noticed there was something wrong with that burned corpse’s leg, though.
Even though that wound had already healed, there was definitely an old wound there.
But when I went over to ask that woman, she told me Chen Zhou had never broken his leg before.
“That means this corpse isn’t Chen Zhou, and someone used a person who resembled him as a substitute.
However, the perpetrator never expected the person they chose to have broken his leg before, which is why they left this opening.”
“That’s why Chen Zhou is the one who delivered that report to the capital” Pei Mianman was a bit confused.
She asked “But why would he come all the way to the capital to report about that Wouldn’t it be enough as long as he contacted Gong Pan or Madam Yu”
“There are two possibilities.
The first is that he couldn’t contact the two of them back then.
The second…” Zu An paused for a moment, his expression becoming complicated.
“...is that he couldn't trust those two.”