The Ministry of Revenue was currently very bustling. Imperial Tutor Wen was ordering people to deliver the confiscated assets to the warehouse of the national treasury. Hua Zhu Yu slowly entered. She was instructed to come and oversee the affair. Upon seeing her arrival, Imperial Tutor Wen expressed his displeasure with a cold grunt. Ignoring her, he continued on with his work. In his eyes, it didn’t matter how talented Hua Zhu Yu was. He only saw her as a eunuch who tempted the Emperor so he did not put her in his eyes at all.
Hua Zhu Yu was unfazed by his disposition. As she saw the two men carrying in a large trunk, she ordered the guards that came with her to tear the seal and open the trunk, revealing the valuable assets inside.
She stepped forward to examine the assets and her eyes narrowed. The assets inside the trunk were all substandard, they certainly were not considered precious treasures.
“Imperial Tutor Wen, these are the things you have confiscated from the homes of the culprits?” Hua Zhu Yu asked.
Imperial Tutor Wen coldly humphed. “That’s right!” As he spoke, he also walked over to the trunk. When he saw what was inside, he was stunned, muttering in surprise, “What’s going on?”
“Open all the trunks!” Hua Zhu Yu coldly ordered as she glanced at Imperial Tutor Wen.
Immediately, all the trunks were opened. The valuables inside had been replaced with inferior items. The sum of all these items were worth no more than 100,000, not hundreds of thousands.
“What’s going on? This servant should be the one to ask.” Hua Zhu Yu turned around to face Imperial Tutor Wen.
She originally thought that Imperial Tutor Wen was an honest official and would not take this opportunity to line his pockets. Who would’ve expect that he would exchange the precious items with these cheap goods.
“You think this official will do such a thing? What evidence do you have?” Imperial Tutor Wen angrily asked.
Hua Zhu Yu looked at his unsightly expression and slowly replied, “If you say that you didn’t do it then I also hope that is so. Since you say you didn’t do it, guards, quickly go to the Wen Residence to inspect and return Imperial Tutor Wen’s honor!”
Hua Zhu Yu immediately sent the Minister of Justice Zhang Mu daren with a group of men to the Wen Residence to inspect. Less than 2 hours later, Zhang Mu returned to report, “This lowly official followed orders to inspect Imperial Tutor’s Residence and discovered 13 large trunks of gold, an estimate of 200,000 liang(weight 1 liang=50 gm) of gold per trunk, 30 trunks of silver, about 8000 liang of silver per trunk, gems and jewels, approximately more than 400,000 liang….”
“Shut your mouth!” Imperial Tutor Wen angrily ordered. His finger furiously quivered as he pointed at Zhang Mu, stating, “Nonsense, you’re slandering …”
Following orders, An Xiao Er stepped forward with the guards of the Yulin army to escort Imperial Tutor Wen out.
“Evildoer! You evildoer enticed the Emperor to frame this old man, you will have your retribution…” Imperial Tutor Wen continued to shout as he was escorted out.
Hua Zhu Yu stared at Imperial Tutor Wen’s ashen expression as he angrily shouted. She felt something was amiss. Was he truly framed?
“Zhang Mu, you really found all those things in the residence of the Imperial Tutor?” Hua Zhu Yu faintly questioned.
“Every word this lowly official spoke was the truth!” Zhang Mu said as he bowed.
Hua Zhu Yu laughed and replied, “You don’t have to keep it from me. How can I not know the Emperor’s intentions.”
Zhang Mu did not reply, continuing to have his head bowed.
“What are you bowing for!” Hua Zhu Yu frowned and shouted.
Zhang Mu was frightened, his legs were soft and his forehead was oozing with sweat. With his figure still bowed, he said, “Chief Manager Bao…. this….you should directly ask His Majesty!”
Hua Zhu Yu looked at Zhang Mu and then quickly turned to leave. At the gate of the Ministry of Revenue, she mounted the horse to travel back to the palace.
Hua Zhu Yu sped on her horse, leaving the guards following behind. When she reached Anning Lane, a horse suddenly jumped out from a side direction, blocking her way.
Hua Zhu Yu was taken aback and quickly pulled on the reins. The horse neighed and rose its 2 front legs up for a moment before finally regaining balance.
She looked up to find Left Chancellor Ji Feng Li sitting on his horse, casting a chilling gaze her way.
The intensity of his gaze unsettled her, making it hard for her to slightly breath. She pulled the reins, intending to ignore him and proceed forward but he moved over, blocking her way once again.
Hua Zhu Yu coldly humphed. Holding the reins, she calmly flashed a bright smile. “Left Chancellor daren, for what have you stopped this gonggong for?”
Ji Feng Li was basked beneath the warm sunlight. He looked straight at Hua Zhu Yu and the corner of his lips slightly lifted.
“Chief Manager Bao is so anxious to return to the palace. Is it to obtain merit?” he asked leisurely, his tone laced with ridicule.
It was obvious Ji Feng Li was aware of what happened to Imperial Tutor Wen and thought that she framed him. She couldn’t say that she wasn’t involved in this matter since it was her idea in the first place to give the task of investigating the deficit of the national treasury to Imperial Tutor Wen.However, others could question her but Ji Feng Li, this kind of deceitful man, based on what grounds can he question her. Hua Zhu Yu’s hands clenched indignantly.
Trying to remain calm, she smiled and replied, “It’s my fault for disturbing the father of Miss Wen, causing Left Chancellor daren to feel heartbroken. But with conclusive evidence, there is nothing this servant can do. Left Chancellor daren should move, else don’t blame this servant for being impolite.”
“Oh?” Ji Feng Li narrowed his eyes. “I wonder how would Bao gonggong be impolite with this Chancellor?”
The corners of Hua Zhu Yu’s lips lifted in a sneer as she stroked the horse whip in her hand, calmly replying, “Left Chancellor daren, do really think that if you block the way this servant cannot pass?” Once the words left her lips, she raised the whip and flung it in Ji Feng Li’s direction.
translations at peachblossomgrove . com
Ji Feng Li remained calmly mounted on his horse as the sharp whistle of the whip attacked. He raised his sleeves and his hands reached out, but before the whip was caught in his hands, Hua Zhu Yu changed the direction of the attack. Ji Feng Li withdrew his hand and employed his internal force but the whip glided like a snake, wrapping around his sleeve, the contrast of black on white visibly conspicuous.
After a few more moves, Ji Feng Li smiled and abruptly withdrew his internal force causing his sleeves to hang loose and his fingers shot out to grip the whip. Exerting his internal force, the whip was shattered into broken pieces with a pam.
The force bounced back towards Hua Zhu Yu. She quickly let go of the whip but the overwhelming force was too great. It even frightened her horse into a frenzy. Her horse neighed and stood on its two hind legs. Its two front legs soared and stomped the ground, creating countless dust clouds.
During the time the dust and dirt was still suspended in the air, Ji Feng Li rode pass her, his voice ringing in her ear, gently as a spring breeze, “You’re right. If we meet again, either you die or I die!”
A dangerous ambience lingered in the air.
After the clouds of dust dissipated, Hua Zhu Yu turned around but Ji Feng Li’s figure had soon disappeared.
Hua Zhu Yu lifted her hand to wipe the blood off her lips, her sleeves flutter in the wind as her dark eyes congealed.
“Chief Manager Bao! What’s wrong? Are you alright?” the guards had caught up and asked out of concern.
Hua Zhu Yu smiled and replied, “It’s nothing. Let’s return to the palace!”
These few nights, Huangfu Wu Shuang was busy with court affairs. He personally wanted to handle every single matter. He was no longer that immature Crown Prince of Eastern Palace. This also made Hua Zhu Yu certain that it was Huangfu Wu Shuang who had schemed against Imperial Tutor Wen.
In Qin Zheng Hall, Huangfu Wu Shuang was sitting on the dragon throne, glancing through the memorials. He was dressed in a body of golden imperial dragon robes, his hair bound up with the golden crown,his face picturesque with a hint of majesty. Upon seeing Hua Zhu Yu enter, he raised his head and asked, “Xiao Bao Er, how was the affair handled?”
“As your Majesty desired, Imperial Tutor Wen is imprisoned,” she replied in a clear voice that was slightly cold and indifferent.
Huangfu Wu Shuang look at Hua Zhu Yu for a moment before placing the memorial down on the table and walking over to her. “Who provoked Xiao Bao Er and made you so angry?”
Hua Zhu Yu lowered her head for a moment before asking, “Your Majesty, Imperial Tutor Wen’s matters, was that schemed by you?”
Huangfu Wu Shuang furrowed his brows. If someone else had asked he would already be furious but he didn’t know why he didn’t have the heart to get angry at Yuan Bao.
“Xiao Bao Er, since my ascension, Zhen have been confronted with many criticisms in court. These few days, they continue to pressure me, especially Imperial Tutor Wen and Ji Feng Li’s faction. You also once said that if we don’t get rid of the Left Chancellor, Zhen cannot sit safe and soundly on this throne. If Imperial Tutor Wen is not removed from the equation, it’s hard for Zhen to have an opportunity to make a move against Ji Feng Li. Sometimes, there are certain instances where scheming is inevitable. Zhen have already thought through it carefully. Today Zhen imprisoned Imperial Tutor Wen but in the future he can still be set free and be of use.”
Hua Zhu Yu merely smiled at his response, she couldn’t recognize the Huangfu Wu Shuang in front of her. He was just recently enthroned yet he already had a firm understanding of the schemes in court.
“Your Majesty plans to make a move against the Left Chancellor?” Hua Zhu Yu asked. Although it is said that Ji Feng Li used the opportunity of the expedition to the North to take control of the military power, it is undeniable that he had made great contributions. In the hearts of the populace, he stood high on a pedestal. Moreover, the key point was that it’s difficult to catch Ji Feng Li’s weakness so it’s hard to make a move against him.
Huangfu Wu Shuang smiled and said, “That is my intention but Zhen have yet to think of a solid plan. But it will happen soon. Xiao Bao Er, didn’t you say you had borrowed troops from Wang Yi? As long as we can stop Wang Yu’s army, there shouldn’t be a problem.” Finished speaking, he took his seat once again to go through the rest of the memorials.
Seeping through the windows, the sunlight casted a warm light on his body. Beneath the rays of sunlight, his golden robes glimmered with a dazzling shine.
It was the 22nd of December, nearing the end of the year.
During morning court, Right Chancellor Nie Yuan Qiao stepped forward to submit his memorial. Hua Zhu Yu quickly retrieved the memorial and handed it to Huangfu Wu Shuang.
After glancing through the memorial, his expression turned somber. He slammed the memorial down on the table, coldly chiding, “Right Chancellor, these words are slanderous! For the sake of Southern Kingdom, Left Chancellor had personally went to secure the northern border. Left Chancellor is loyal wholeheartedly. He is the pillar of our nation yet you say he has intentions to rebel. Truly audacious. Court is adjourned!”
The court immediately erupted in uproar.
Stunned, Hua Zhu Yu shot a glance at Nie Yuan Qiao. He usually had on a testy appearance but today his lips were lifted in a smile. He raised his voice to announce, “This official is not slandering, there is evidence!”
“Speak!” Huangfu Wu Shuang was about to stand up and end the morning court but hearing Nie Yuan Qiao speak, he slowly took his seat again.
Hua Zhu Yu stood quietly beside Huangfu Wu Shuang. She was sure this was a scheme thought of by him and Nie Yuan Qiao. They were merely putting on an act. Huangfu Wu Shuang made a move against Ji Feng Li so quickly. Had he come up with a perfect strategy already?
She glanced at Ji Feng Li, only to see him in his court attires standing amongst the mass, casually watching Nie Yuan Qiao and Huangfu Wu Shuang.
“This time Left Chancellor personally led the expedition north but in fact he had already colluded with Xiao Yin so the Northern Army merely feigned defeat. Left Chancellor Ji Feng Li gathered the military power in his hands with intentions of overthrowing Southern Kingdom. When he succeeds he would divide the land of Southern Kingdom with the Northern Emperor. If Your Majesty does not believe, this official has evidence. The unmarried wife of the Left Chancellor is in fact the long lost sister of the Northern Emperor, princess Zhou Ya.Your Majesty, if Left Chancellor did not collude with the Northern Emperor, how could the Northern Emperor marry his sister to the Left Chancellor?”
As soon as Nie Yuan Qiao spoke, the court erupted once again in commotion.
Huangfu Wu Shuang also sucked in a deep breath.
Hua Zhu Yu was stunned.
How did Nie Yuan Qiao know Jin Se was the long lost sister of Xiao Yin?
That day, when she brought Jin Se’s pendant to Northern Kingdom, Xiao Yin had recognized it and thought she was his sister. At that time, she realized Jin Se was the long lost sister of Xiao Yin. That being said, she should be the first person to be aware of this! Xiao Yin was the second but now he had lost his memories. Now there should only be 2 people who knew, her and Jin Se.
So how could Nie Yuan Qiao know?
Did Jin Se tell him?
That couldn’t be possible. If Jin Se told him, she would be putting her life in danger. Besides, Jin Se loved Ji Feng Li, there was no way she would place him in harms way.
Ji Feng Li sneered, “Right Chancellor sure is interested in the affairs of this Chancellor’s household. Based on what evidence are you claiming that this Chancellor’s wife is Northern Kingdom’s princess?”
Nie Yuan Qiao looked at Ji Feng Li and replied , “At first this Chancellor did not dare believe it either. How could the Left Chancellor harbor rebellious thoughts? But once I saw this, this Chancellor had no choice but to believe.” Finish speaking, Nie Yuan Qiao withdrew an item from his sleeve and raised it above his head.
Hua Zhu Yu stepped down to retrieve the item.
Hua Zhu Yu was usually a calm person but once she saw the item her mind went blank.
It was Jin Se’s pendant.
With hands slightly shaking, Hua Zhu Yu retrieved the pendant.
That day at Yangguan, when she was caught by Xiao Yin, she had returned this pendant to him. Xiao Yin was at Northern Kingdom, how could this pendant fall into the hands of Nie Yuan Qiao?
Hua Zhu Yu suppressed the shock and handed the pendant over to Huangfu Wu Shuang.
Huangfu Wu Shuang narrowed his eyes and assessed the pendant. “Isn’t this just a common female pendant? What’s special about it?”
“Your Majesty, this is not an ordinary pendant. Your Majesty, please look at the engraved emblem on the pendant. This emblem is handed down through the Northern Kingdom’s royal family. Only a person of royal blood within the Northern Kingdom can wear it. This pendant belongs to the unmarried wife of the Left Chancellor.”
“Truly ridiculous, Nie Yuan Qiao, you take out a pendant and then claim it belongs to the wife of the Left Chancellor. What’s your evidence?” an official stepped about to question.
“On this matter, Bao gonggong can testify.” Nie Yuan Qiao suddenly turned to look at Hua Zhu Yu. “Does this pendant belong to the Left Chancellor’s unmarried wife? I hear Bao gonggong is acquainted with her!”
Looking at the pendant, Hua Zhu Yu’s mind was in turmoil. She could not determine what she was feeling in that moment.
She could feel her blood boiling with excitement. It was finally the moment she could overthrow Ji Feng Li and get revenge for the Hua family.
But on the other hand, she felt something was amiss. She felt like she was lost in a miasma, things were becoming increasingly unclear and muddled.