Netherworld Investigator

Chapter 16

Chapter 16

It wasn’t that I was so hell-bent on keeping the truth concealed from Huang Xiaotao, I just didn’t care to reveal it in front of all these police officers. Grandpa had emphasized the importance of keeping as low a profile as I could when working outside, and I intended to follow his advice.

But seeing her determination, I didn’t think it would be polite to just brush her off, so I compromised.

“The truth is,” I said, “my family has been Traditional Coroners for generations and generations. The modern equivalent for that profession would be something like a forensic pathologist, or a coroner.”

“You mean to say that all these skills you learned were used by the Traditional Coroners in ancient times?” she asked.

“Of course,” I answered. “What did you think? That I invented all of them? They’re all knowledge passed down to me by my ancestors.”

Some people might have seen Traditional Coroners in period dramas and movies, but very few actually knew the exact techniques they used to examine dead bodies. That was due to how secretive they used to be. In fact, it could be said that even Daoist priests are less mysterious and esoteric than Traditional Coroners.

“I guess the people of ancient China weren’t so primitive after all!” said Huang Xiaotao.

“What are you saying?” I laughed. “Did you think that just because they didn’t have televisions and smartphones, that they lived like monkeys and apes? Truth be told, ancient China used to be a pioneer in many fields of knowledge and technology. It wasn’t until the Qing dynasty when Imperial China started to shut itself off from the rest of the world that culture and civilization began to deteriorate. But in truth, we inherited a wealth of spiritual knowledge, such as the I Ching and the Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor, which contained a vast trove of knowledge that even modern experts have still not fully deciphered.”

“I don’t know,” said Huang Xiaotao, shaking her head, “I think those metaphysical texts are just superstitions left over from feudal society. I don’t really believe in them.”

“What about the things I’d done?” I asked. “You didn’t doubt the factual and scientific explanations that I gave you, did you?”

“You’re right,” she relented. “I must admit that you do have a point there.”

I smiled. So she did admit that I had a point, but she didn’t say that she agreed how the ancient people were much more than primitive. I knew that people in the modern age were heavily influenced by the advances in modern technology since birth. We took for granted that our way of life, with our airplanes and cars, were the only civilized way of life. This kind of thinking was not going to be changed in a few minutes of conversation.

Hence, I thought the best thing to do then was to just drop the subject.

“Do you need to examine the corpse again?” Huang Xiaotao asked.

“There’s nothing left to examine,” I said. “It’s still pretty early now – let’s go check something out.”

“Okay!” said Huang Xiaotao, nodding.

Just as we were about to leave the room, a man wearing a white lab coat holding a big toolbox marched in, followed by two police officers.

I knew at first glance that it was Dr. Qin, the coroner. I wondered why he was here. Didn’t he agree to hand the case over to me?

“Nothing left to examine?” he mocked while eyeing me up and down scornfully. “I guess that is to be expected from a so-called Traditional Coroner. There’s no way for you to analyze the DNA or fingerprints now, is there? Look at what you’ve done to the corpse! Huang Xiaotao! Did you think we’re running a daycare? I can’t wait to hear how you’ll explain yourself why you brought this kid to a crime scene!”

“Dr. Qin,” said Huang Xiaotao, brows furrowed, “what are you doing here? Didn’t you agree to step down from this case?”

“Yes, I did agree to step down from the case of the hanged body,” he said with a deadpan expression, “but I said nothing about stepping down from the case of this headless body.”

“I’m sorry,” said Huang Xiaotao, hardly believing how shameless the coroner could be, “but these cases are clearly related – they’re most probably done by the same murderer!”

“What does that have to do with anything?” asked Dr. Qin haughtily. “If you have any problems with it, just talk to Captain Lin. He just called and asked me why I wasn’t at the crime scene. I said you told me not to come because you’ve found yourself a random college student to help you. He lost his temper when he heard it, and promptly removed you from your position as the head of this investigation team. Therefore, I am now in charge of this case. If you don’t believe me, just call Captain Lin and ask him!”

Dr. Qin looked very pleased with himself, while Huang Xiaotao’s eyes widened in anger and disbelief, and she clenched both of her fists tightly.

I marvelled at how petty and cunning this Dr. Qin was. What happened must’ve wounded his pride and so he ran back to his superiors and complained. It was obvious that he had lied to make Huang Xiaotao and myself sound irresponsible and painted himself as a mere victim.

He then took out his phone from his pocket and offered it to Huang Xiaotao.

“I think you’d better give Captain Lin and explain yourself,” he said. “If you’re lucky, maybe he’d let you stay on in my team.”

He savoured the words ‘my team’, emphasizing them to make sure that both of us understood the predicament that we were in. Huang Xiaotao ignored him, so he put his phone back into his pocket and turned to me.

“Bastard,” he said, “don’t you know that desecrating the dead body is a crime?”

“Desecrating the dead body?” I asked. “Is that what your slow brain thought I was doing? I should tell you that I was examining the dead body!”

I restrained my manners earlier, thinking that he was after all much older and more experienced than me, so it wouldn’t hurt to show him some respect. But now that he’d shown his rotten stripes, it was clear that he deserved none of my respect anyway.

“Ha! Examining the body!” he derided. “And what qualifications do you have to do that? I think it was just dumb luck that helped you find out the things you did!”

“And what if dumb luck helped me solve this case before you do?” I asked. “What would that say about you? Wouldn’t it prove that you’re useless after all?”

“Nonsense!” he spat. He then walked up to me and sneered. “Do you really think that your bizarre techniques are better than a professional team of coroner and police officers? Then maybe you should visit my house sometime. My grandson loves watching that childish cartoon called Detective Conan. Both of you will get along so well with each other!”

“Dr. Qin,” I said calmly, unperturbed by his provocations, “is Huang Xiaotao officially out of the investigation team?”

“Yes!” answered Dr. Qin. “And she has you to thank for that!”

“Does that mean that she can investigate independently now?” I asked.

Dr. Qin laughed.

“You brat,” he scoffed. “You’re not thinking about investigating the case on your own, are you? Let’s ignore the fact that it’s utterly pointless, disobeying commands and acting arbitrarily is a serious misconduct!”

“Cut the drivel, will you?” I interjected. “Let’s make a bet: what will happen if I solve the case?”

“If you manage to solve the case…” Dr. Qin hesitated. He had seen what I was capable of earlier, so he was cautious against being too bold this time.

“What’s wrong, Dr. Qin?” I asked, trying to provoke him. “Are you afraid of losing the bet? Are you scared of losing a bet against a nave bastard like me? I thought I heard you said that if I could solve the case, you would resign without questions, isn’t that right?”

“You insolent brat!” yelled Dr. Qin. “I’m giving you my word right now – if you solve the case, I will hand in my resignation immediately! But what about you? What happens to you if you failed?”

“What’s the punishment for corpse desecration?” I asked Huang Xiaotao.

“Less than three years of imprisonment.”

“Okay,” I said. “if you solve the case before I do, then arrest me and I’ll serve the terms according to the law. I promise you I will not hire a lawyer to defend myself.”

“Song Yang!” said Huang Xiaotao. “Don’t be stupid! Corpse desecration is a serious offence, you know! It’s fine, I’ll just step down from the case, it’s no big deal at all!”

“It’s a deal, then!” interrupted Dr. Qin. “I give you my word, I accept all the terms just as you said.”

“Good!” I said, smiling. “Then we’ll see what happens!”

“Humph! We’ll see all right!”

The whole time this exchange happened, I kept my hand hidden in my pocket. In truth, I was recording the whole conversation with Dr. Qin using my mobile phone. That way he wouldn’t be able to deny his own words when the time came.

I’m not one to be so boastful and conceited, but I hated how Dr. Qin used his own position to step over our heads. I could’ve ignored his conduct if it affected me alone, but now that Huang Xiaotao was affected too, I felt like I needed to teach this guy a lesson.

“Let’s go Huang Xiaotao,” I said. “We’ll go talk to those two witnesses now!”

I walked out of the room. Huang Xiaotao glared at Dr. Qin, then followed me.

1. An ancient .

2. An ancient Chinese from more than two thousand years ago of which Chinese medicine is based on.

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