This chapter has been brought to you by me, Adnana, and Vivie.
府 fu: compound or estate; wang fu: prince’s estate/compound
王 wang: short for qinwang or first-rank prince; also called wang ye, i.e. “His [Your] Royal Highness”
郡王 junwang: second-rank prince; also referred to as junwang ye, i.e. “His [Your] Royal Highness”
Chapter Forty-Four: Accident
“Clang, clang, clang.”
Sitting inside the carriage, Hua Xi Wan heard the faint sound marking the time. She raised a corner of the window curtain and found that a thin layer of mist had risen outside. Her brow creased—why would there be mist with the present weather?
When she had been in the palace, she had seen the moon hanging in the sky. That had been just an hour ago. The weather had changed so quickly?
She looked closely and found that it was not mist, but thin drizzles of rain. Because the streets were slightly dim, it appeared as though it was mist.
“It is raining?” Yan Jin Qiu sitting beside her also raised the curtain to take a look. His voice carried slight regret. “We will not be able to admire the moon then.”
Hua Xi Wan put down the curtain and smiled at him. “We can admire the moon at any time—why do we have to stick to one specific day?”
“Is Xi Wan always so easy-going?” Yan Jin Qiu looked at her, his eyes filled with a seriousness that Hua Xi Wan could not understand. “Not caring about anything, able to accept any matter?”
“Those with open minds live happier. Life is hard and short—why struggle with oneself?” Hua Xi Wan’s smile did not change as she turned to look at the jade gourd hanging on the carriage. “Those who want more, if they cannot get it, wouldn’t they feel disappointed?”
“But if they encounter something they like and do not fight to get it, how would they know that it does not belong to them?” Yan Jin Qiu watched as the rain grew heavier. “At least by trying, one will not regret.”
“Who says that after trying, one would not regret?” Hua Xi Wan gripped the jade gourd. “There are many people who regret their obsession.”
“But there are also those who regret not having tried.” Hua Xi Wan put down the curtain and smiled.
“It depends on their perspective.” Hua Xi Wan smiled disdainfully. “Also, those who regret are those who have failed. If one is living happily, when would they have the time to think about the things they did not get?”
Yan Jin Qiu was silent for a moment and then smiled neutrally.
A sharp scream came from deep within the street and seemed exceptionally shocking on this silent street. If it wasn’t that Xian Wang Fu’s procession had enough young guardsmen, some of the servant girls would have fallen in fright.
Hua Xi Wan’s brow creased. This was not something like a television drama from her previous life when males and females could roam around the streets at night. Here, there was a nightly curfew. If people without permission were walking on the street, they would be sent to jail as robbers or traitors to the crown.
Now a scream that came so suddenly, was it a coincidence or something else?
This scream clearly did not affect the advancement of Xian Wang Fu’s procession. The group still moved forward at normal speed. Just as the carriage was about to turn, an even greater scream came from the street. This time, it was even scarier than before, and caused people to feel cold from their bones.
Just at this time, a burst of footsteps came from nearby along with the sounds of armor and weaponry clanging together. A while later, Hua Xi Wan heard a voice that was slightly familiar.
“Junior official of the Guard Office, Zhang Hou, greets Your Highness Xian Wang.”
Zhang Hou looked at the carriage that had stopped and released a breath inside. Then he saw the curtain in the front being raised a third of the way and just showing Xian Wang’s figure. He blinked his eyes and accidentally saw a corner of a red robe appear beside Xian Wang.
“Junior Official Zhang, is there a matter?” There was a thread of a smile at Yan Jin Qiu’s lips as he examined this young Guard Official. Those who managed to get to such a position would not be simple people. Otherwise, it would not be him sitting in the position of Guard Office Young Official.
“Wang Ye, this small one heard the scream of a female nearby and therefore came with people to patrol.” Zhang Hou’s face was covered with a layer of mist, and it was uncomfortably sticky. However, he did not dare to wipe his face in front of Yan Jin Qiu. “This one had not expected to collide with Wang Ye’s carriage.”
“Junior Official Zhang is too serious. You are thinking of the safety of our Jing. But it really is strange for a woman to scream in the night.” Yan Jin Qiu’s lips curled. “Junior Official Zhang, please pay more attention.”
“Wang Ye, many thanks for the reminder.” When Zhao Hou raised his head, the carriage curtain had been put down. After he bowed to the carriage, he left with his subordinates and started to search the side streets one by one.
“Zhang Hou is a young person, but he has his own ways of doing things. His position does not look high in rank, but many things in Jing are connected to him. Most people in Jing would give him some face.” Yan Jin Qiu said to Hua Xi Wan, “I heard that when your horse was alarmed that time, it was him who came with people to control that?”
Hua Xi Wan nodded and said, “This Junior Official Zhang is skilled.”
Before the carriage reached the gates of Xian Wang Fu, they heard people come to report that Junior Official Zhang had found the person who had screamed. However, the victim was covered with wounds, unconscious, and had been sent to a doctor to be treated.
Hua Xi Wan’s brow creased. No one would like something like this happening. She couldn’t help but ask, “Have you found the identities of the victims?”
The person reporting from outside hesitated before saying, “The two girls are people from the Quiet Harmony Room.”
“Quiet Harmony Room?” Hua Xi Wan was puzzled. This name seemed pretty elegant but she did not know what it meant.
“Go down—who allowed you to say the name of such an unclean place?” Mu Tong scolded sternly.
Hua Xi Wan finally realized—so it was people from the red-light district. With such an elegant name, she had thought that it would be something like a bookstore or a weiqi salon.
Seeing the expression on her face change, yet not have any disdain when the women of the red-light district were mentioned, Yan Jin Qiu said in surprise, “What does Xi Wan think of this?”
“Not much.” Hua Xi Wan shook her head. “The one investigating the case will be the Great Judicial Office. I do not even know the cause and effect of this, what can I think?”
“I mean… what opinion do you have about the two women?”
“You should not ask this question; it is not appropriate.” Hua Xi Wan’s tone was stern and then it became warm: “However, it is all right for husband and wife to speak in private about these private things that cannot be spoken of in public.” She yawned. She had drunk a few cups of wine at the banquet and now felt slightly drowsy. “If there is no demand, there is no market—that is my opinion.”
Yan Jin Qiu first stilled. When he managed to react, he smiled helplessly. He wanted to say that this was not reasonable, but when he actually thought about it, he found that what Hua Xi Wan had said was true. If the men in the world could control themselves, where would there be women to do this flesh business?
The carriage still went forward for a while before stopping. Hua Xi Wan heard the servant outside say that they had arrived at the Wang Fu. She raised the curtain to look. There were two soft sedans already waiting by the door, and servants with umbrellas.
When she and Yan Jin Qiu just put one step out of the carriage, servants came to put umbrellas over their heads and block off the wind. When she sat in the sedan, there wasn’t a thread of rain that had touched her.
Zhang Hou waited outside the doctor’s rooms that night. He managed to make it to morning and heard his subordinate report that one of the women had been wounded too heavily and passed away. After hearing this, his expression was not very good. A moment later, he said, “I know. Have someone report this to the Judicial Office.”
His people of the Guard Office were only responsible for patrolling. If a case involving a life occurred, they could only transfer it to the Judicial Office or the Ministry of Justice to investigate. They did not have the power to interfere in this matter.
“Then should we also move the things we found next to the victims to the Judicial Office?” A subordinate came over with a piece of cloth. On the cloth was a piece of cloth stained with blood and a black precious stone.
“What are we keeping it for?” Zhang Hou’s gaze swept across the torn piece of cloth. “Right now, Sheng Junwang is in charge of the Judicial Office. With Junwang Ye present, which case cannot be solved?”
When the people present recalled how Sheng Junwang had been responsible for the case of Master Zhang, their emotions became complex. In the beginning, the matter had been related to the Crown Prince and caused the people in Jing to feel fear. Even now, people were still afraid they would be pulled in.
Four hours later, the Judicial Office received the case from the Guard Office. They had very bad luck. An hour ago, the other victim could not be saved and died from the grave injuries.
Both victims were dead. It was even more difficult to find clues from dead people. But they had to investigate as this matter had spread. Some people who did not know what had happened started to spread rumors that this was the work of demons and spirits. If they did not get to the bottom of this, who knew what would happen in Jing.
The Judicial Office Justice felt even more complicated because he found the evidence that the Guard Office had transferred over was very troublesome. He watched Sheng Junwang who was sitting at the front and did not dare to breathe.
Yan Bo Yi’s expression was ugly as well. Someone who was investigating a case and then discovered that something of their own was the evidence by the victim’s body would not be in a good mood.
“Since this matter is related to me, I will not participate in this matter.” Yan Bo Yi stood and did not look at the evidence of the case. “I will report this to the Emperor. Official, please do not object.”
What could the justice say? He could only sweat and smile.
Yan Bo Yi was not in the mood to look at his expression. He walked out of the Judicial Office and thought inside, who was using such crude tricks to slander him?
Hua Xi Wan clapped her hands with a smile. “I won this match.”
Yan Jin Qiu looked at the board that they had played on, the terrible state it was in, and smiled helplessly. He had the servant take the board away and then said, “These few days, the people in Jing are afraid. Pay attention and do not be influenced by the rumors outside.”
Hua Xi Wan thought carelessly, she had heard the screams that night. It would be strange if she really believed the rumors.
In any case, no matter how the matter developed, it had nothing to do with her. Why would she concern herself with something that had nothing to do with her?
Translator Ramblings: Heart to heart between wife and husband. The plot thickens again … … who killed the women? This is turning into a mystery novel.
The author has some new novels but they are modern era, and I’ve found that I can’t muster up the same urge to translate them. It’s the scheming and the doubletalk that makes things interesting. Her modern novels are still good novels, and funny, but no urge at all.