Mysteries in the Imperial Harem: Chapter 110
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Chapter 110: Earth Shattering Secret (Part 3)
After a few days of through investigation and the identification of the deceased personal items, the identity of the deceased was confirmed. She was a palace maid in the Imperial Palace by the name of Yi Yue. She had been missing for three days before the body was found in the well of the Eastern garden. As the Eastern garden was far off the Inner Palace, the well was rarely used and would only be use as an emergency to put out the fires in the eastern part of the Inner Palace.
Yan Hong Tian did not hand this case to the Board of Investigation thus Gu Yun also did not call upon Dan Yu Lan’s personnel, so she transferred Ge Jing Yun and Leng Xiao to her side.
“Kou kou kou.” When Zhuo Qing and Gu Yun was quietly discussing the case, the knocks at the door suddenly rang and Gu Yun loudly called out, “Come in.”
Leng Xiao pushed open the doors but did not enter, “Boss, I have found a palace maid that said that she had seen the deceased a few days ago.”
Gu Yun’s eyes lit up as she said, “Invite her in.”
In a short moment, Leng Xiao led a seventeen or eighteen girl in. When that girl just came in, she was constrained and dare not even lift her head up and immediately knelt down when she reached Gu Yun and Zhuo Qing, “This servant Fei-er greet both Furens.”
Faced with such a scenario, Gu Yun was not used to it and stepped forward to pull her up before pointing at the chair by the side, “Sit down and talk.”
The girl quickly took two steps back and urgently said, “This servant dare not.”
Gu Yun lacked of a better option and forced the girl to the chair and pressed her shoulders to sit her down before saying, “Answer truthfully to whatever question I ask.”
The girl swallowed her saliva nervously and nodded her head.
“What is your relationship with the decease and when was the last time you saw her?”
Gu Yun’s stern voice scared the girl till her voice was trembling badly as she submissively replied, “Yi Yue is… This servant fellow villager. The last time this servant saw her… Was the night three days ago.”
Zhuo Qing cast a funny glance at Gu Yun. Gu Yun’s lips curled up as she thought of reviewing herself. She was already so used in staying in the General’s residence that even her manner of speech was loud and her tone was somewhat chilling, which made other people frightened. Gu Yun cough lightly and tried to put on a softer voice to speak, “Don’t be afraid, just say what you know in detail will do.”
The girl looked up slightly and when she saw Zhuo Qing’s and Gu Yun’s warm expression, she settled her state of mind and replied, “That night just after Haishi (modern timing: 9 – 11 pm), Yi Yue suddenly came over looking for this servant frantically and asked this servant to lend her one hundred taels of silver. This servant do not have this much money and so this servant asked her what had happened. She said that she knew a earth shattering secret and must immediately escape from the Palace else she would definitely die. This servant asked her what secret was it but she was unwilling to say. This servant had no other choice but gave the ten taels of silver on oneself to her. This servant really though that she had escaped from the Palace as there was no news of her these days. Who knew… Who knew…”
“On the last time you seen her, did she had any scars on her body?”
The female thought for a while before shaking her head, “No. Her face was just pale, like she was frightened and scared.”
“Did she give you anything?”
“Yes.” The female immediately nodded and pulled out a light purple handkerchief from her sleeve and handed over to Gu Yun respectfully. “A silk handkerchief, so as to let this servant remember her by.”
Gu Yun took it over and look at it at the front and back. Other than the pattern at the lower right corner, there was nothing special.
Gu Yun looked carefully at the pattern and felt that it was a word but was specially designed. There were some deformation in it. She could understand common traditional Chinese words but she could not understand this. Zhuo Qing was like her and helplessly shook her head.
Gu Yun thought for a while before beckoning Leng Xiao from her side and asked without embarrassment, “What word is this?”
Leng Xiao paused for a bit and took a look before replying, “It is a ‘Lan’ word.”
After looking carefully at the silk handkerchief again and seeing no other clues, Gu Yun said to the restless girl, “Go back first. If there is anything else to ask of you, we will call for you.”
“Yes. This servant will retire.” The girl sighed and bowed before exiting. Leng Xiao also followed her out.
Gu Yun place the handkerchief on the table to study when Zhuo Qing suddenly laughed, “You are not afraid of them saying that you are illiterate?” The surprised expression that Leng Xiao just gave made her want to laugh, it was most likely that he did not believe that the renowned female talent couldn’t read!
“The word was twisted till like that, I naturally do not recognise it and would not be afraid of them saying. But…” Gu Yun smiled strangely, “I guess that they won’t dare.”
Seeing her proud look, Zhuo Qing rolled her eyes at her before looking at that piece of silk handkerchief for a closer inspection.
“Earth shattering secret?” Zhuo Qing muttered to herself, wondering what kind of thing that could have happen in the Palace to be considered an earth shattering secret.
Gu Yun pointed to the words on the handkerchief and said, “It seems that we have to start from this ‘Lan’ word. The material of this handkerchief is not bad and does not seem to be what a palace maid would use. Maybe there would be a clue if we ask the Weaving Department in the Palace.”
The way Gu Yun did things was like the thunder passing and wind moving, once there was a clue, she would not let go of it, thus both of them took the handkerchief to the Weaving Department. This time they were investigating with the Imperial decreed, so Gao Jing assigned an old eunuch to them. With someone leading the way, they quickly found an old mama who had work in the weaving department for thirty to forty years.
Gu Yun picked the silk handkerchief and handed to her as she asked, “Do you recognise this silk handkerchief?”
The old mama took the silk handkerchief over and felt it for a while. When she touch the word ‘Lan’, her fingers paused and quickly returned the silk handkerchief back to Gu Yun and replied, “This old servant do not recognise.”
That moment of strange look in her eyes did not escape Gu Yun. She did not take the silk handkerchief but instead replied blandly, “If you do not recognise, why are you afraid then?”
The old mama looked up with some panic and saw Gu Yun’s clear bright eyes and helplessly kept her head bowed as she pointed to the corner of the silk handkerchief, “This old servant recognise the ‘Lan’ word.”
Gu Yun had a hunch that this old mama must had known something and did not pressed her on her lie and just continued asking, “What is so special of the design pattern of the Lan word?”
The old mama nodded her head slightly and lowered her voice in reply, “The ‘Lan’ word is the maiden name of a formal Consort. That year the things she used, like silk handkerchief and robes would be sown with this word, thus this old servant could recognise it. But after the Consort passed on, it was no longer seen. This old servant was distracted when looking at this word.”
Distracted? Distracted to lie? Gu Yun stared at the old mama’s face and did not miss the slightest expression before continuing, “What kind of person is the consort?”
“The Consort’s maiden name is Qiu Lan and was already by the Emperor’s side before the Emperor ascended to the throne. The Emperor extremely doted her but the Consort’s health is weak and the Imperial Physician said that she had contracted from tuberculosis. After that, the illness got worsen and she often cough blood out, thus seven years ago she… Left.” The old mama kept her head bowed throughout but could still feel Gu Yun’s sight on her, thus the voice she used to answer was barely audible at the end.
Gu Yun asked in a not light nor heavy tone, “Die of illness?”
The old mama’s should slightly trembled before immediately nodded to say, “ The Imperial Physician said as such.”
Gu Yun’s arms folded her arms around her chest, like she was thinking about something. The old mama continued to keep her head down in a dutiful way. Gu Yun did not speak but Zhuo Qing spoke instead, “How about those who had previously served her?”
“After the Consort was no longer around, the people who served her was dispersed to the various courtyards and palaces. Those who were of age were sent out of the Palace.” The old mama looked at Zhuo Qing and her heart was secretly relieved. The young female behind had a pair of sharp eyes that scared her.
“Do you know which concubine she was close with? Is her personal maid still in the Palace?” Finding the people around this Consort may be the clue in uncovering this secret of the handkerchief.
“The Consort was previously close with the Empress but her personal palace maid…”
The old mama paused and Gu Yun suddenly spoke up, “What is the name of her personal palace maid and where is she now?”
It seemed that if the answer was not to satisfaction, this General’s Furen would not let the matter drop. The old mama took a secret breath and no longer dodge the question as she replied, “She is called Hui Jun. She was someone who knew her role but for unknown reasons, when the Consort left, she actually ran to the Empress’s palace and was caught red-handed for stealing something. Usually after one is caught, they would have to endure caning and would be expelled from the Palace after one or two years. But who knew that she actually offended the Empress. This one heard that she injured her Ladyship’s hand and thus was held in the Imperial Prisons, not knowing when she would be released.”
Gu Yun took the small piece of rag out and asked, “Do you recognize this kind of fabric?”
The old mama looked closely for a moment before shaking her head, “This old servant is only responsible for the mistresses’ clothing suppliers. This piece of cloth is too small to be recognisable.”
After asking almost everything, Gu Yun kept the rag and silk handkerchief well before saying, “Many thanks.”
The old mama was shocked and quickly greeted continuously, “This old servant does not deserve the good fortune. This old servant does not deserve the good fortune.”
Both of them did not say anything else and left the weaving department together. Gu Yun kept silent while Zhuo Qing chuckled, “Was it that you have thought of something?”
Gu Yun shook her head and replied, “That Consort have some friendship with the Empress so why did her personal palace maid would attack the Empress? Qiu Lan’s death that year was suspicious and perhaps is related to this case. First thing is to find Hui Jun and there should be some progress after some interrogation.”
Gu Yun had the constant feeling that this case seems to be leaving more and more clues but it was like a line that was buried, tempting them to head towards one direction. However, Gu Yun was not confused or irritated, during the investigation of any case, one must not be afraid of more clues but be afraid of no leads. She could always find a breakthrough in all the clues.
When both of them came to the Imperial Prison, it was already in the evening. When the guards saw two female coming over, they immediately stepped forward and said in a rude manner, “Who are you people? The Imperial Prison is a forbidden place and no one should be loitering around.”
“Impudent.” The old eunuch that Gao Jing deployed over stepped forward and yelled, “This two person are Prime Minister Lou’s and General Su’s Furen and had received the Imperial decreed to investigate. Go and call your Zhang Daren out.”
After the guard heard Prime Minister Lou’s and General Su’s Furen, the arrogance immediately diminished more than half as he quickly nodded yes and ran in to announce.
Gu Yun and Zhuo Qing looked at one another helplessly. As expected, in this Imperial Palace nothing was important than the ‘indentity’ of a person.
After only a short while, a tall huge man walked out and when he saw both of them, he quickly greeted very politely and could be said as very attentively, “So it is actually both Furens. This lowly official had been rude.”
Gu Yun did not care in greeting him and said instead, “I want to see a female prisoner by the name of Hui Jun.”
“Hui Jun?” Zhang Chen Yang frowned and was somewhat hesitant, “This…” There are so many inmates in prison and he would not have remembered them by names. But this Hui Jun, he was aware of. Ten days ago, Imperial Concubine Qing came over to see that female once so he had some impression. That female have been locked up for six to seven years already, how could so many people be thinking about her?
Seeing his eyes full of doubts and constant delays, Gu Yun said coldly, “We are not allowed to see this person?”
“No no no.” Zhang Chen Yan waved his hands. Not to mention they were Imperial Concubine Qing’s sisters and he could not offend them, he could not touch Prime Minister Lou and General Su. Zhang Chen Yan quickly smiled apologetically, “Naturally you are allowed to see this person but ever since she came in, she became insane. This lowly official is afraid that she will scare both Furens.”
After walking for a day, Zhuo Qing was a little tired and said coldly, “Just take us there.”
“Yes yes.” Zhang Chen Yan did not talk any more nonsense and took them to a prison cell deep in the Imperial Prison before pushing open the large heavy iron door.
Gu Yun held Zhuo Qing’s shoulders and said, “I will go in first.” From Zhang Chen Yan’s words just now, Hui Jun most likely was crazy and she did not want to put Qing in danger.
Gu Yun entered the prison and found that the lighting in this cell was very dim. There was only a small window that allowed the light to enter and it was currently in the evening. Gu Yun looked around vigilantly and when her eyes to adjust to the darkness, she discovered that wasn’t anyone in the cell at all. Just as she wanted to question Zhang Chen Yan, he stuck his head out and pointed towards the depth of the cell, “Both Furens can question here. She is in that cell inside and is separated by the wooden fence, so it is safer.”
Following the direction of Zhang Chen Yan’s finger, Gu Yun found the wooden fence. There was indeed another prison cell but that cell was too dark and it was very quiet inside which made her not notice it initially.
Hearing that there was a wooden railing in the middle, Zhuo Qing also walked in and said to the curious Zhang Chen Yan, “Leave here first.”
Zhang Chen Yan smiled embarrassingly and nodded his head in reply, “Yes.”