Mysteries in the Imperial Harem: Chapter 39
Chapter 39: A Cornered Beast Will Do Anything
A male walked in behind Gao Jing. He was taller than seven foot, he was lean and although he was wearing an official uniform, the blue robe did not hide his valiant yet refined style. The male calmly walked to the centre of the hall, kneel on one knee and greeted loudly, “This official, Ming Jian, greets the Emperor.”
Yan Hong Tian looked up from a pile of memorandums and took a look at the man before waving his hand in a good mood, saying, “Get up. How did research go?”
The man stood up, stepped forward and whispered in front of the study table, “Reporting to the Emperor, the case is about a bounty hunter who killed Yang Liu, the corporal in the Ministry of Defence, because of a quarrel. Qing family sisters, Qing Ling and Qing Mo was also involved. Qing Ling found clues on the body and confirmed that the fatal chest wound was an uncommon flying dagger seen here. Qing Mo saw through the holes in Yang Liu’s furen and set up a trap to capture the murderer. The murderer was indeed the wife of Yan Liu, Qu Xin, and Qu Xin was the sister of the thief, Qu Ze, that was convicted of robbing the gold. Qu Xin killed Yang Liu first to avenge her other brother, second to arouse the attention of Dan Daren to retrial the gold case.”
There were guards standing on guard outside and there were no one else except for Gao Jing in the hall but the male still lowered his voice so that only Yan Hong Tian could hear it, which show how discreet the matter was.
Regarding the bounty hunter murder case linking to the old gold case, Dan Yu Lan had indicated very clearly in the report but he felt that Dan Yu Lan was hiding something and his interaction with Xi Yan was indeed too much. Because of that, he then let Ming Jian go to investigate. He did not think that the Qing sisters were also involved. No wonder when Dan Yu Lan mentioned about this case, he kept looking at Lou Xi Yan’s expression. Lou Xi Yan is also extremely concerned about this case and the reason behind was actually very interesting.
Yan Hong Tian lost his laughter, “Qing Mo is the youngest sister of the Qing family?” Xi Yan has love Qing Ling till he loves everything that involves her.
“Yes. That female is very intelligent when interrogating the criminals and has good knowledge on finding evidences. In short, she is a independent and unconventional that even Official Dan rather appreciates her.” Ming Jian’s words about this female has made Yan Hong Tian feel that the female is a bit interesting as he disbelievingly smiled, “Not mentioning that she is exceptionally intelligent and unique and independent. For just a mere female, how is she able to go freely in and out of the General’s manor and could assist Dan Yu Lan on investigations?” If he remembered correctly, the General manor is not as strict as an army camp with military laws but but it did not allow impudent things to happen, let alone a female.
Ming Jian coughed and whispered, “It seems that her position in the General’s manor is not low. Everyone in the General’s manor refer to her as ‘Furen’.”
“Furen?” This time, Yan Hong Tian was shocked and it took a moment to collect himself. He curiously ask, “Did Su Ren and Su Yu acknowledge her?”
The corner of Ming Jian’s eyes showed a faint smile as he replied, “General Su Ren very frequently called her… ‘Sister-in-law’.”
Sister-in-law?! This time Yan Hong Tian was truly stunned. Su Ren’s character is calm and unflustered and his thoughts are meticulous. It is not possible for him to casually call a female as sister-in-law in just a short month’s time. Or… Was it Su Ling’s call?
This is too interesting? Yan Hong Tian suddenly started laughing out. This is much more interesting than Xi Yan and Qing Ling. He did not forget the great bitterness and deep hatred that Su Ling gave when gifted him the youngest sister of the Qing Family. Doesn’t General Su keep his proximity to females? How long did he surrender his weapons? (I think he means how long has it been since he last did it… *wink*) Just what kind of person is this youngest sister of the Qing family?
The guards which were outside the hall all raised their eyebrows. For the Emperor to fill the Imperial Study with such a hearty laugh, Ming Jian must have brought some kind of good news back. The Emperor has not laughed this heartily for a long time.
Catching his breath, Yan Hong Tian picked up the tea from the table and drank a mouthful. The smile on his face faded as he looked at the case file to approve on the study table. He lowly instructed, “Since Dan Yu Lan wants to retrial this big case and found ‘experts’ to help, for the time being, you do not need to disturb them and let Dan Yu Lan investigate. When the Prime Minister manor and General manor get involved in this case, some people will not be able to endure quietly. You only need to keep an eye on them.”
Yan Hong Tian put down his hot tea and continued to deal with reports from other counties and Ming Jian did not neglect that flash of cold look from the Emperor’s eyes.
Ming Jian quietly retreated out of the hall and when he was just about to leave, he saw a familiar figure around the corner. Ming Jian strode over and heartily called out, “Ming Ze.”
Hearing the male’s call, Ming Ze was slightly startled before he cupped his hand and greet in a respectful but estranged manner, “This guard greets Commanding Officer Daren.”
“You…” The smile on Ming Jian’s mouth stiffen and his hand which was about to be placed on Ming Ze’s shoulders also awkwardly stop midway. Looking at that outstanding yet cold and aloof younger brother, even though Ming Jian has so much more words, he could only turn them into sighs. Ming Jian put his hand down and turn to leave.
Ming Ze slowly straighten up his body and look straight ahead. As for that figure who was implicitly angry but could only leave helplessly, he turned a blind eye to him. The red-clad lieutenant, who was standing beside him, could not tolerate and softly sighed, “I say Ming Ze, Daren is in any case your older brother. You don’t need to…”
“Do not bother about my matters.” A cold voice interrupted Lu Tong earnest and well-meaning advice. Swallowing the rest of the words, Lu Tong patted his checks and spit lowly, “All right. All right. All right. My mouth is worthless! Is it right!” Honestly he was finding a scolding for himself, the relationship between other people brothers are of no link to him! Besides, Ming Ze have a Commanding Officer older brother to cover for him and behind him, he also have the entire Ming family supporting. Of course he can do as he pleases. He was courting a snub!
In the midsummer afternoon, the sun has penetrated layers of leaves and yet it was still blinding to the eyes. Qing Feng sat on the couch in front of the window and there was a book in her hands. Qing Feng did not mind the wind blowing the pages of the book from time to time as it has been a long time since she last read. In fact, she was not reading. By holding the book and dazing off, she will not look so restless.
Light footsteps sounding from outside and in a short while, Fu Ling has already quickly walked to her side and without waiting for her to ask, Fu Ling whispered, “Mistress, Princess Chao Yun has returned to the Palace.”
Qing Feng’s hand that was holding the book tighten, “Why?” Wasn’t it only yesterday that she reached the Prime Minister manor? And it was the Empress Dowager who personally sent her there. The Princess has returned to the Palace but Qing Feng did not feel happy at all, instead she felt more frustrated. Qing Feng put the book down and urgently questioned, “What exactly is going on?”
“Early this morning, Princess Chao Yun had already returned to the Palace. Not sure for what reason, after her return, the Princess did not want to see anyone.” The Imperial Physicians and the Empress Dowager were all blocked outside the hall. As of now, everyone in the entire Imperial Palace wanted to know what did the Princess suffered in the Prime Minister manor.
“How is it like at the Prime Minister manor? Was the Emperor and Empress Dowager angry about it?” It was only Lou Xi Yan that could make the Princess back out of the situation. Qing Feng’s heart was happy but also worried. She was happy that her Elder Sister did not misjudge him and she was worried because the other party is the Royal family’s pampered daughter. Can they really afford to provoke them?
“Prime Minister Lou went to court as per usual and the Emperor was busy with the affairs of the state thus he did not make things difficult for Prime Minister Lou. The Empress Dowager went over to Qing Xuan Hall in the morning but was stopped at the main door by the Princess and returned back to her palace after a while. As for the rest, this servant really unable to inquire any more.”
“I understand, you can withdraw.” Qing Feng could only rely on Fu Ling to bring back some news now and could not be too demanding. Even though she is anxious and felt worried, she could only wait and observe.
“Yes.” Retreated to the door, Fu Ling gently closed the door. The Mistress most likely will be sitting here for the entire day.
“This official, Lou Mu Hai, greets the Emperor. Long live the Emperor.”
In the Imperial Study, there was a burly figure down on one knee in the middle of the hall. His loud voice shook one’s ears till it hurt, his back was straight and his eyes were bring and piercing. He was above fifty years of age but there was no signs of elderly movements.
Yan Hong Tian sat on the throne and raise his hand to indicate that he can dispense of the greeting as he smiles, “Old General Lou has been guarding the North-western region, with toilsome labour and distinctive unparalleled merits, don’t stand on ceremony. After many years of not seeing, the old general’s health is still tough.” Lou Mu Hai is an upright and honest person and his character is also outspoken and straightforward. Yan Hong Tian often wondered how did Lou Mu Hai, who was born as a military leader, could have reproduce a son like Lou Xi Yan, with such frail body yet have profound thoughts and as cunning as a fox?
Lou Mu Hai heartily laughed and cupped his hands respectfully and replied, “All thanks to the Emperor’s fortune, this old official health is good. To be able to guard Qiong Yue in the North-western region, this old official felt deep glory.” Lightly coughed and dispensing the many pleasantries, Lou Mu Hai sternly reported, “This old official returned to the capital this time, is to discuss about the memorandum that was submitted. This official guarded the North-western region with Imperial orders and over the years even though the North-western region was not completely peaceful, bandits and rebels could be controlled. But for these few years, the actions made by rebels, under the new leadership of Mu Cang, were weird especially in these two years. They rarely come out to raid the passing merchants but instead targeted the court as enemies and provoked the army barracks. In the few interactions lately, this officials found that their weapons, rations and number of personnels have increased tremendously. This official specifically seek an audience with the Emperor due to the worry that if they were to further develop, the North-western region will be unstable and afraid that the rebels have work together with these bandits, thus they were able to gain that much more rations and weapons. If that is true, it would threaten Qiong Yue’s territories.”
After Lou Mu Hai finished talking, Yan Hong Tian dark eyes slightly raised but there was no trace of anger on his face as he asked in a deep voice, “Recently were there any strange happening in City of Pei?”
“This official has observed for more than a year and did not observed any suspicious persons entering the City of Pei or liaising with the rebels. But this official still felt that their actions in the past few year are very suspicious and did not dare to neglect it thus reporting it back to the capital.” Lou Mu Hai raise his head slightly to quietly observe Yan Hong Tian expression and it was still as usual. Lou Mu Hai did not understand, for as long ago, the Imperial lineage did not tolerate cliques being form and army used for personal interests. For the long on-going chaos at the North-western regions and the increasing military power, the Emperor could still be this calm and indifferent. No wonder since the Emperor ascended the throne for nearly a decade, most of the officials and ministers still could not read the Emperor’s intentions.
Yan Hong Tian lean back against the dragon seat and his fingers were gently caressing the ornamental carvings at the side of the armrest. His downcast eyes did not show if there was joy or anger. The Imperial Study instantly became so silent that one can hear their own breath. Lou Mu Hai’s palms were sweating and his heart tremble in fear.
“Emperor, Dan Daren seek an audience for something important.” Gao Jing hurried steps and rapid notification sounded which broke the oppressive atmosphere in the Imperial Study. Lou Mu Hai saw how anxious Gao Jing was and believed that Dan Daren indeed have more important issues to report while his report is more like insinuations. Lou Mu Hai did not want to delay the Emperor’s pressing issues and quickly bowed, “This lowly official will retire first.”
“Old General Lou do not need to retreat and just wait aside. With regards to the chaos at the North-western region, Zhen still want to discuss more with the general.” Yan Hong Tian’s plain words did not match the previously oppressive atmosphere. Lou Mu Hai was unable to get the Emperor’s meaning but he dare not say more and just stood silently at the side.
“Announce Dan Yu Lan.”
“This official, Dan Yu Lan, greets the Emperor. Long live the Emperor.” Dan Yu Lan strode in and there was a thin layer of sweat on his forehead. Yan Hong Tian motioned him to get up and asked, “What matter does the Noble Official Dan wanted to report in such a hurry?”
Dan Yu Lan stood up and replied, “Answering the Emperor, this official issued an order to retrieve the clues and evidence from the gold case that year. Just as the evidences has pointed, that year the Vice Minister of the Ministry of Justice, Ping Ran, was related to the gold case but before this official could interrogate, Ping Ran… Had already commited suicide and left a suicide note which clearly elaborated about that year how he and the Minister of Revenue have collaborated, colluded in the North-western chaos to smuggle the gold and framed the guard thoroughly.”
After Yan Hong Tian finish listening, he asked, “Where is the gold now?”
“The gold was shipped secretly to the North-western region since three years ago.”
The sudden disorder and thieving in the Northwest region and the money was actually… The National Reserves Official Currency? Lou Mu Hai secretly suck down a cold breath and slightly look up at the person who was sitting at the higher position.
Sure enough, Yan Hong Tian slowly got up and stared at Dan Yu Lan words and said, “You are saying that Zhen’s millions of gold from the National Reserves have been smuggled into the North-western region and used by the rebels and these daring rebels actually use Zhen’s money to buy weaponries to attack Zhen?” Yan Hong Tian’s tone was light but Dan Yu Lan and Lou Mu Hai could feel the wave of hostility hitting them at the same time with his eyes that were brewing a storm.
Dan Yu Lan did not know that the information that the North-western rebels were buying weaponries and he did not know how to answer for a moment. Looking at Lou Mu Hai, who was standing at the side, it would seems that this old General Lou also have a look of seriousness on him. Dan Yu Lan then roughly guessed what has happened.
Both of them did not speak a word and only heard a loud “peng” followed by Yan Hong Tian angry voices, “This is preposterous!”
The ink slab on the study table was swipe off the table by the large sleeves. The thick black ink splash all over the follow and small droplets landed on the bright yellow table cloth and also stained the Emperor’s dark brocade robes. Dan Yu Land and Lou Mu Hai were stunned and everyone in the Imperial Study were so scared that they knelt down and cried, “The Emperor please be appeased.”
“Dan Yu Lan.”
“This official is here.” Yan Hong Tian cold voice spoke made Dan Yu Lan approach quickly.
“Zhen command you to pass Zhen’s decree to the General’s manor, ordering Su Ling to lead the Su family troops this very day out to wipe out the rebels. The gold must be recovered before the ceremony starts! Old General Lou, you are familar with the terrain of the North-western region thus you shall assist with General Su to eliminate the bandits.”
“These officials have receive the decree.” The two of them dare not delay and approached to receive the decree.
“This case…” Dan Yu Lan hesitantly spoke but Yan Hong Tian impatiently replied, “Is there more doubtful points in the case that required investigation?”
All the people who were involved in gold case from the start to its closure, where the gold went or the possible location of it were all found in the testament clearly. The most important thing is that upon investigation, all the related personnels are all dead and the dead cannot testify. Even if Dan Yu Lan was exceptionally talented, at this moment, he could only spit out a word, “No.”
“Both of you withdraw.”
“Yes.” With the monarch that angry, Dan Yu Lan and Lou Mu Hai looked at one another before leave one after another out of the Imperial Study.
The Emperor who was filled with hostility a moment ago was sitting on the throne with a light scowl on his lips but the look from his dark eyes was daunting and increasingly colder. Xiao Yu who rush over secretly shook her head. Just now she was in the tea house at the side hall taking inventory when the eunuch panicky ran over to say that the Emperor was furious. It scared her to quickly came over to check out what was going on. It would seems that the Emperor was really angry this time.