Hua Zhu Yu composed herself. Perhaps with Right Chancellor Nie Yuan Qiao present, Huangfu Wu Shuang might still have a chance.
An influential figure in court, Right Chancellor Nie was Empress Nie’s elder brother but for some unknown reason, their relationship was quite strained, as though they’d rather never see each other for the rest of their lives. So even though he was Huangfu Wu Shuang’s maternal uncle, they seldom ever met. They were more like strangers so Hua Zhu Yu didn’t think he would back Huangfu Wu Shuang. But this was a life or death issue, so she thought it was impossible for Right Chancellor Nie to not stand on his nephew’s side.
Zhang Qing looked at the two chancellors and said, “Darens, lets begin.”
Sitting behind the interrogation desk attired in his official robes, Ji Feng Li lost some touches of his elegance while appearing more detached and refined. Leisurely leaning back against his seat, he carried a tranquil expression as he watched Hua Zhu Yu being shoved into the room.
Callously grunting, Right Chancellor Nie said, “Then start!”
Zhang Qing lightly coughed and knocked his gravel on the table, coldy inquiring, “Last month when you accompanied the Crown Prince to Jiang Bei to distribute the disaster relief money, did he send people into the mountains to capture those beasts?”
“No!” Hua Zhu Yu replied.
Zhang Qing did not appear the slightest bit angry. He was born with a face devoid of expression, not betraying his emotions.
“According to the course of journey taken, you should’ve returned to the capital in late May, but why did you return in early June, 10 days later than expected. What did you do during that time?” Zhang Qing callously questioned.
Hua Zhu Yu fell silent for a moment.
This matter was only known to a few officials as the Emperor was still protective of Huangfu Wu Shuang at the time.
But she could not continue to conceal this matter for their delayed return was suspicious in the eyes of others. So Hua Zhu Yu began to recount how the relief funds were robbed, how they went to Xijiang Yue to borrow money, and even the store selling hype in Jing Ling.
Hearing this, Zhang Qing creased his brows and asked in a low voice, “That is the truth? The Crown Prince lost the relief funds?”
With a cold smile she replied, “This one does not dare to speak false words. Zhang daren can send people to Xi Lai Inn to investigate! You can also ask His Majesty!”
Even though it was still a crime to lose the relief funds, it was still a lesser crime compared to capturing those beasts.
Zhang Qing nodded and did not inquire more about it. On the side, a transcribing official continued to jot down Hua Zhu Yu’s reply.
“Then let me ask you this, are there are particular officials who frequently contact the Crown Prince? Did they exchange any secret letters?” Zhang Qing stared straight at Hua Zhu Yu and coldly questioned.
So they want to oppress even the officials supporting Huangfu Wu Shuang. How is this any different from crippling his wings? Not only would Huangfu Wu Shuang collapse, but so too will those backing him.
“Zhang daren, this servant has waited on the Crown Prince every day and he only goes to meet with His Majesty and the Imperial Tutors to learn. Besides them, the Crown Prince does not have any contacts with any other officials!” Hua Zhu Yu replied naturally.
This was the complete truth, she’d been in the palace for some time yet had never once seen Huangfu Wu Shuang have any dealings with anyone. He doesn’t even go pay respects to his Imperial Mother.
“You don’t know?” Zhang daren gave a humph and slapped the wooden desk, saying, “So you’re only clear on the matters regarding the beast? You’re not going to speak truthfully?”
“Zhang daren, the Crown Prince is not the one behind the beast attack. Daren discovered the painting in the Crown Prince’s room had the fragrance of magnolia but this servant thinks it was tampered with when it was painted. If the fragrance was mixed in the ink, when it was used to paint there would have been a scent of magnolia,” Hua Zhu Yu slowly stated.
“You have a point. Even if the fragrance was in the ink, it must be someone trying to frame the Crown Prince!” Right Chancellor Nie slowly said as he stroked his beard.
“Yes but the paper and ink were things the Crown Prince ordered to be brought forth!” Zhang Qing said expressionlessly.
“Yes but the person painting also had contact with the ink and paper. She could’ve secretly tampered with them,” Hua Zhu Yu lifted her head and spoke.
Translations at Peachblossomgrove.com
Zhang Qing narrowed his eyes and questioned, “But Miss Wen painted in front of so many people, if she did something, why didn’t anyone notice?”
Hua Zhu Yu was at a loss for words.
At that time she was bored and wasn’t really watching Wen Wan. She was looking up at the sky and had by chance noticed Xiao Yin’s gyrfalcon. So she couldn’t determine whether Wen Wan had indeed tampered with the painting or not.
Huangfu Wu Shuang was watching Wen Wan but he was completely infatuated with her so he most likely wouldn’t even notice if she did something.
“At that time, this servant was somewhat absent-minded and was not paying attention!” Hua Zhu Yu slowly replied truthfully. Now she really regretted being bored and gazing at the sky that day.
But who would’ve thought that the other party had already started to scheme at that time and that a painting could send the tall and mighty Huangfu Wu Shuang to Nei Cheng Yuan! Even if one wanted to be vigilant, it was rather difficult.
“Wasn’t paying attention?” Zhang Qing reiterated with a wooden expression. He then heavily knocked the gravel on the table and said, “Criminal, raise your head up and take a look!”
Lifting her head up, her gaze followed Zhang Qing’s line of sight towards the wall.
On the wall hung a myriad of bizarre torture instruments, which from a glance appeared eerie and dark. The various instruments were covered in a layer of dried blood. It was unknown just how many people’s blood was drenched on them.
Zhang Qing pointed at the wall and said, “These torture instruments are exclusively used to torture members of the royal family who have broken the law. For a little eunuch as yourself to be able to experience these things could also be considered your blessing. Guards, come!”
Hua Zhu Yu grew up on the battlefield, there wasn’t anything that she hadn’t seen but it was her first time seeing these formidable torture instruments.
But how could she be frightened by these things. Her eyes indifferently swept across the various instruments on the wall as a faint sneer surfaced on her lips.
“This servant was not aware this was how the Minister of Justice investigated! Since you want to obtain confessions under torture, why bother asking, just directly conduct the torture!” she indifferently said, her clear eyes glinting with mockery.
Zhang Qing’s complexion darkened as two guards stepped forward, each held onto Hua Zhu Yu’s arm and dragged her towards the torture instrument.
Ji Feng Li was reclining against his seat. His clear ink dark eyes was facing her direction, lightly sweeping over her face. Perhaps carelessly or maybe intentionally, his gaze hovered over the torture instrument a little longer than usual. His long eyes narrowed as he smiled a smile that wasn’t really a smile.
Hua Zhu Yu could only imagine how ecstatic Ji Feng Li must feel witnessing her misery. This could be considered his revenge on her for her previous violent beatings in the game, and also for her stealing his clothes that day.
Indeed, if you were to offend someone, it mustn’t be a despicable person!
The strange instrument appeared to be designed for pulling one’s legs apart. It seemed to have pulled far too many legs for its surface was stained in so much blood that its original color was no longer discernible.
The two guards pushed Hua Zhu Yu on ground. One of them clamped the instrument onto her legs, one on the right and another on the left, and use their full strength to pull the chains in opposing directions.
Lying on the ice cold ground, Hua Zhu Yu felt the coldness seep through her palms, almost glazing her heart. The moment the two guards pulled, a dull pain attacked and she bit down on her lips. There was nothing she could do but bear in silence, they could only torture her, for they wouldn’t dare kill her.
“That’s enough!” Ji Feng Li’s voice sounded as light as a passing breeze yet chilling as ice.
“Take the criminal down!” He was still leaning back against his seat, his attitude indifferent, his handsome face slightly cold.
Hearing this, the two guards quickly removed the torture instrument in a fluster, and intended to drag her out.
“Let go! I can walk on my own!” Hua Zhu Yu slowly said and flung her sleeves out, causing the two guards to stagger backwards. She glanced at them with disdain before looking up at Ji Feng Li who was sitting high in his elevated position. “Left Chancellor Daren, people who commit evil acts will sooner or later suffer at the hands of heaven!”
Finished speaking, she suppressed the pain, and walked out.
Once she was out of the investigating room, she slowed down. Her legs were in great pain. Those things were worthy of being called torture instruments. It was only clamped on her for a bit and it hurt so much already. If she had to endure it for any longer, she wasn’t sure if she would be able to withstand it.
If these people used the same instrument on Huangfu Wu Shuang, she feared he wouldn’t be able to bear the pain and plead guilty. She heard that these torture instruments were also used by previous emperors to punish the royal family members that committed crimes.
When she returned to her cell, she saw a few guards sweeping the floor. Not long after, someone brought in a bed, blanket and even a small table and chair.
Her cell was now on par with Huangfu Wu Shuang’s. This turn of events left her utterly perplexed.