This chapter has been brought to you by me, Adnana, and Vivie.
- 郡王 junwang: second-rank prince; also referred to as junwang ye, i.e. “His [Your] Royal Highness”
- 郡王妃 junwang fei: the official wife of a junwang
- 府 fu: compound or estate; (jun)wang fu: prince’s estate/compound
- 世子 shizi: literally “heir son”; refers to the heir apparent to a qinwang (first-rank prince). So Ning Wang Shizi is the heir to the title of Ning Wang. The heir usually needs to be formally decreed and is a title on its own. Shizi fei (世子妃) is the official wife of a shizi.
- 氏 shi: clan/maiden name
- 太监 taijian: court or palace eunuch
- 夫人 furen: mistress or madam/lady; usually refers to the legitimate wife
Chapter Eighteen: Fatal Case
Past midnight, Hua Xi Wan suddenly woke up from her dream. She sat on the bed and looked at the shadow of trees on the window. After a few dazed moments, she turned and looked at the person beside her. She touched the fine sweat on her forehead and exhaled deeply.
A warm hand touched her forehead and found the sweat. He used the sleeve of his robe to wipe her sweat for her, and put an arm around her waist. “Had a nightmare?”
“It’s nothing.” Hua Xi Wan looked at Yan Jin Qiu who sat up and gave a smile. “I just dreamed that I dropped down from a cliff. It gave me a fright.”
“Ha.” Yan Jin Qiu laughed lowly and touched her soft hair, pulling her to lie down and tucking in the blankets for her. “The elders say that it is because you are growing.”
Hua Xi Wan felt slightly hot and took her arms out of the blanket. “When did you ever see a family’s girl who is seventeen still growing taller?”
“Those of other people’s families might not grow, but that does not mean that our family’s girl won’t grow.” Yan Jin Qiu touched her arm. Detecting that her arm was slightly hot, he did not put her arm back under the blanket. “Sleep, I’m here.”
In the darkness, Hua Xi Wan could not see Yan Jin Qiu’s expression clearly, but she was sure that Yan Jin Qiu’s eyes were not as deep and emotional as his words. She closed her eyes and listened to the sound of the wind blowing past the tree branches. She smiled. So what if it was fake or sincere—it was fine as long as she had comfortable days.
Lu Zhu who had been standing guard outside heard noise inside the room and had planned on coming into the room to light a lamp. But when she heard the sound of conversation inside the room, she rested her thoughts. When the inner room became silent again, she finally lay down on her side.
At this time, a strong light suddenly flashed across the window, and then a rumble of thunder sounded. She was frightened and hurriedly put on a robe and shoes. When she walked to the door to the inner rooms, she listened for sound before speaking. ”Junwang Ye, Junwang Fei, do you need a lamp?”
“No, nothing. You can leave.”
Hearing Junwang Ye’s words, Lu Zhu hesitated and made sure that Junwang Fei did not have any opinions before she retreated to the mattress outside. At this time, the wind was blowing wildly outside, the doors and windows creaking. She raised her head to look at the ceiling and seemed to hear the sound of rain hitting the tiles.
As expected, a short while later, the rain started to pour down. It sounded as though the rain was going to push apart the roof. Using the light of the lightning, she looked in the direction of the inner rooms and pulled her blankets tightly around her.
Tomorrow, it was the day to go to Princess Rui He’s estate to play. She didn’t know if the rain would stop tomorrow.
The rain continued until eight before stopping. When Hua Xi Wan got up, the yard had been cleaned up. There weren’t any marks left by the storm remaining. She looked at the sun that had started to turn red on the horizon, rubbed her forehead, and spoke to Bai Xia behind her. “The thunder didn’t stop last night. I didn’t sleep well.”
Yan Jin Qiu who stood beside the window heard this and said, “Later, nap in the carriage.”
Hua Xi Wan covered her mouth and yawned. She did not refuse Yan Jin Qiu’s wonderful suggestion.
Because of the rainstorm last night, there was a fresh scent of rain spreading through the street under the sun. Hua Xi Wan raised the curtain to look at the clean streets and the passerby on the road. She patted the soft cushion supporting her waist, chose a comfortable position, and started to make up for her lack of sleep.
Yan Jin Qiu saw she really fell asleep leaning against the cushion, so he put her legs on his knees so she could sleep more comfortably. After doing this, he glanced outside the carriage. The carriage was almost at the city gates.
When the gatekeepers saw the carriage come close, they recognized the insignia of Xian Junwang Fu on the carriage. They politely made an inspection before permitting egress.
When the carriage left the city, it moved forward on the major road. But after travelling for a while, it suddenly stopped.
Seeing Hua Xi Wan show signs of waking up, Yan Jin Qiu’s brow creased. He raised the window curtain and asked, “What is going on?”
“Junwang Ye, the road ahead is blocked. Shen Junwang Fu and Ning Wang Fu’s carriages are also stopped in the front,” Mu Tong replied from outside the carriage. “The guards say that a fatal case has occurred in the front. It seems to be the young master of Zhang Family.”
Hearing the words “Young Master of Zhang Family” as she dozed, Hua Xi Wan recalled the matter that Second Aunt had mentioned when she had visited her paternal home, and her mind instantly became clear. She rubbed her forehead and asked with a creased brow, “Which Master Zhang?”
Yan Jin Qiu looked at her and did not speak. Mu Tong hesitated a while before saying, “They say it is Master Zhang of the famed Zhang Clan’s Primary Branch.”
Hearing this, Hua Xi Wan became silent. The famed family Zhang’s primary clan leader branch had several daughters but only one son. That was Second Aunt’s younger brother…
“Do not worry, I will have Mu Tong go listen.”
“There is no need.” Hua Xi Wan put down her hand that had been massaging her forehead. “The Judicial Office will naturally take care of this matter. If we ask too many questions, it may cause trouble.” Usually, those who appeared at the scene of the crime and were concerned about the process of the case were those who were suspected by the investigators. It was best to not touch this trouble.
“It’s fine. The Zhang Family and the Hua Family are in-laws. It is normal for our Xian Junwang Fu to ask.” Yan Jin Qiu knew what she worried about. He comforted her and had Mu Tong go to ask for information.
世子 shizi: literally “heir son”; refers to the heir apparent to a qinwang (first-rank prince). So Ning Wang Shizi is the heir to the title of Ning Wang. The heir usually needs to be formally decreed and is a title on its own. Shizi fei (世子妃) is the official wife of a shizi.
Ning Wang Shizi Fei, Ceng shi, dejectedly pulled the handkerchief in her hand and said, “So unfortunate to encounter such a matter in the morning.” She turned and saw her husband was playing with a new item that he had traded for from the outside and felt her anger rise. She could only suppress her anger and twist her head to the other side.
“What is there to be in a hurry about. In any case, if we get to the manor, it is just sitting there in a daze. Sitting in our carriage, it is more relaxed.” Yan Qian Xun put the playthings in his hand back into the box and then put the box on a shelf in the carriage. “Also, who this will offend is Princess Rui He—what does it have to do with you?”
“Shizi, how can you say this?” Ceng shi finally could not suppress it. However, she was worried that what she spoke would be heard by the people outside, so she lowered her volume and said, “You are usually together with the Crown Prince. Princess Rui He is His Highness the Crown Prince’s full-blood elder sister. If she is not well, how is that of benefit to us?”
“It could be said like that, but this one really isn’t acceptable.” Yan Qian Xun twisted his mouth and said, “To buy this estate two months ago, she had someone beaten to death. I say, average wastrels cannot do this. This one is too malicious.”
“Stop speaking.” Ceng shi hurriedly covered Yan Qian Xun’s mouth. “It would be trouble if anyone else heard this.”
“Puh!” Yan Qian Xun snorted. However, wary of Princess Rui He’s identity, he did not speak anymore.
Seeing this, Ceng shi released a breath, but she felt something as well. Two months ago, Princess Rui He had the servants beat someone to death to buy this estate. Almost all the prestigious families knew this. But because the Emperor favored her, others could not speak more about it.
That was a life. How could she so easily beat someone to death? Even they did not treat the servants of their fu so casually as to beat them to death.
Feeling suffocated, she raised the curtain to look. She saw a blue-robed taijian speaking to the leader of the Guard. She raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t that Xian Junwang’s personal taijian?”
Yan Qian Xun moved his head over to look. He nodded and said, “It seems that Xian Junwang’s family is also at the back. I heard that the victim is Xian Junwang Fei’s paternal second aunt’s full-blood brother?”
Ceng shi nodded and then sighed. She said, “Last month, they started searching for him in Jing. Hadn’t thought…”
Both of them became silent as this matter did not have anything to do with them.
After a wait of about fifteen minutes, Mu Tong came back with information. He stammered out, “Junwang Ye, Junwang Fei, this small one has learned some news. But it is shocking to hear, so this small one doesn’t know whether to say it or not.”
“What is there that should not be said?” Hua Xi Wan spoke faster than Yan Jin Qiu. “Say what happened.”
After hearing Mu Tong speak, Hua Xi Wan felt it was very strange. It had been so windy and rainy last night—who would throw a corpse out at that time?
The fatality was covered in wounds and his tongue was also gone. Even one of his eyes was missing. The flesh was seriously rotten, but none of his bones was damaged. He was even wearing the clothing he had disappeared with a month ago. The clothing was very clean and was not damaged. It meant that the dead person had not struggled fiercely when he was taken. Maybe the other person had been too strong, so that he was captured without even fighting back.
Now the culprit had suddenly thrown the corpse out, and on the main road towards the gates of Jing. This was really suspicious.
Also, how difficult would it have been to transport a corpse from the city gates? At the same time, they had to avoid the night curfew and the guards who watched the gates. To do this, either the master of the Zhang Family had been imprisoned and tortured in the suburbs to start with, or someone had left during the day yesterday and had successfully transported the corpse through the city gates.
It probably was not so simple to do this without any help. Most importantly, why did they throw the corpse in a place that people would frequently pass? Wasn’t that just waiting for other people to find the corpse?
“Has the guard notified the Zhang Family?” Right after Hua Xi Wan said this, she suddenly heard wails of a woman crying outside. She was instantly shocked and raised the curtain to look. She saw several servants supporting an old man and woman as they stumbled over. The matron who was being supported seemed to only remain upright because people were pulling her. The sorrow on her face could not be disguised.
Hearing the heart-wrenching cries of Zhang Furen, Hua Xi Wan put down the curtain. She sighed and said, “It is the cruellest for those white-haired to send off the black-haired.”
The pitiful Zhang Couple. So old yet having to suffer such a matter. She really didn’t know how the two would accept this.
Yan Jin Qiu said indifferently, “A place like Jing never lacks for life.”
Hua Xi Wan heard this and became silent.