The People That Were Killed

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Since the murder had occurred during a palace banquet during a new year’s celebration, the eunuch did not know if news of this should be reported. But at the very least, he understood that it could not be openly reported in front of so many people, thus he only reported it to Zhang Yuan. Feng Yu Heng, however, had noticed that Zhang Yuan had been called over. The movement of the eunuch’s lips was seen, and she was given a start. Her brow immediately furrowed.

Xuan Tian Ge saw this from the side and curiously asked: “What is it? Are you feeling unwell somewhere?”

Feng Yu Heng shook her head and began to guess at the identities of the two young misses that had been killed. She also guessed at the motive but did not know the essential points. At this time, Zhang Yuan had given it some serious thought then handed this information to the Empress. The Emperor had drank too much and no hope could be placed in him. Moreover, the ones murdered were two young misses. Having the Empress make an appearance to handle it would be more appropriate.

The Empress had been sipping tea and chatting while watching the play with Imperial Concubine Gu Xian. Zhang Yuan coming to report this news caused her head to hurt. It was the new year. Why could things not be a little more peaceful? For some reason, she subconsciously turned her gaze toward Noble Lady Yuan but saw that she was carefreely watching the play and looked to be without a single worry.

Imperial Concubine Gu Xian asked: “What is it?”

But before the Empress could reply, a commotion broke out from the seats in the back, as a madam asked the people near her for help: “My daughter went missing. Has anyone seen our family’s Huan’er?”

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Feng Yu Heng looked at the madam that was anxiously looking for her daughter and thought that she looked familiar; however, she could not attach a name to the face. She could only ask Xuan Tian Ge: “Which manor is that madam from? Did she bring her daughter into the palace today?”

Xuan Tian Ge took a look then said: “It’s the wife of the minister of the Board of Punishments. Today, she brought her daughter of the first wife into the palace.” At this time, she furrowed her brow and said with a bit of disdain: “Everyone says that the madam of the minister of the Board of Punishments is not one that can be brought out into the public. Normally, she just loves to bluster loudly. Why is it that she doesn’t know to keep quiet in this sort of setting? If her daughter has gone missing, go and look for her. What is she acting up here for? Not to mention disrupting the playing, it’s not like her daughter’s life will be lost.”

Feng Yu Heng knew that although girls of Da Shun were rather open-minded, being able to go out onto the streets, have their own shops and did not need to be evasive when speaking with men, it did not mean that they were as open-minded as the people of the 21st century. Normally speaking, if the family’s daughter went missing, they should silently go and search on their own. If they truly could not be found, then they should think of something else. To begin with causing a scene, even if that young miss was found, it would cause them to be castigated. For example: Where had she gone? Who did she go with? With these thoughts, good news would not make it out the manor’s gates before bad news had spread over a thousand miles. The people’s thoughts were rather wild. With a young miss going missing, all kinds of thing could come to mind. With these being spread, all manners of stories would be spread. Within a couple days, it would become a secret that everyone knew about.

But Feng Yu Heng was not worried about that young miss’ reputation. Instead, she connected it to the news that the eunuch had just brought to Zhang Yuan. She began to worry about that young miss’ life.

The daughter of the minister of the Board of Punishments, the Board of Punishments was a job that caused offense. It was inevitable that she had been implicated by her father’s work. At this time, the servant at Xuan Tian Ge’s side said to her: “Palace princess, you’ve forgotten that the young miss of the first wife from the minister of the Board of Punishments’ manor was raised later on. It’s possible that this madam is deliberately putting on a play.”

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Xuan Tian Ge tapped her head and remembered, urgently going to gossip with Feng Yu Heng: “How could I have forgotten about that. The young miss of the first wife from the minister of the Board of Punishments’ family was born from a concubine. The head madam of the manor could not give birth many years ago, and it was believed that she would never have any hope of giving birth to a child in this life. With nothing that she could do, she sent her servant to her husband’s bed, and she gave birth to a child that she took care of. Later on, she thought of a way to force the concubine to hang herself. But a few years ago, her fortunes turned, and the body that could not get pregnant for many years suddenly became pregnant. Not only did she give birth to her own children, but they were twins of opposite sexes. With her own children, how could she like the one that was born from a concubine, but the young miss of the first wife was one that she had raised since it was born. She could not just kick her back down to the position of daughter of a concubine. Lord minister also really liked that daughter and could not possibly agree. As I see it, it’s most likely that she is deliberately trying to ruin that girl’s reputation.”

Huang Quan and Wang Chuan listened from the side and helplessly shook their heads. Huang Quan spoke earnestly, sighing: “This is the same level of disgusting as the Feng family from back then.”

Feng Yu Heng snorted coldly, “It’s still a little bit away from the Feng family. At least the father has a bit of a conscience.” After speaking, she turned to Xuan Tian Ge and said: “I fear that things might not be as simple as the feelings of resentment from their courtyard. This play will get more and more lively.”

“Hm? Where is this coming from?” Xuan Tian Ge was puzzled. At this time, the Empress and Imperial Concubine Gu Xian stood up. To the side, Zhang Yuan supported the Emperor and prepared to leave Ming Zhi Palace. There were also numerous hidden guards that had come out to protect him. Upon exiting the theatre hall, a group of imperial guards immediately surrounded them and mightily brought the Emperor away.

As a result, upon leaving the hall, a cold wind blew. This cold wind woke the Emperor from his drunken stupor. With the effects of the alcohol dissipating, he was like a person that had woken from a dream. Looking all around, he was puzzled and asked: “Where are we going? Little Yuan, today is the new year. Instead of letting Us chat and laugh with everyone, where are We kidnapped taken to?”

Zhang Yuan’s nose went crooked from the anger. If they were not in front of so many people, he really wanted to give the Emperor a kick. Kidnapped? What sort of word choice was this? Did he know how to chat? If this was heard by someone with bad intentions, his little life was forfeit. Zhang Yuan’s face had turned green with anger from what the Emperor had said. Using a bit of strength, he pinched the Emperor’s arm, causing the Emperor to let out a loud yelp. Zhang Yuan then said: “Your Majesty, something happened over here, and this servant has already reported it to Her Highness the Empress. Her Highness said that she would take care of it and had this servant bring you back to rest. You drank quite a bit of wine. It would be good to rest early.”

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“What do you mean drank quite a bit of wine?” The Emperor had sobered up and refused to admit that he had been drunk. After hearing that something had happened, he turned to ask the Empress: “What happened? Tell Us. Since everyone is here, how can you have Us go back to rest alone. Speak, what is the matter? We will support you.”

Once these words came out, Madam Ma, who had been loudly looking for her daughter, seemed to have found her pillar of support. While crying, she dove forward and kneeled in front of the Emperor. Wiping away tears, she said: “Your Majesty, this official’s wife’s daughter disappeared while watching the play. I beg Your Majesty for support. She needs to be found!” While speaking and crying, her makeup had completely been ruined. Looking at her in the evening light, she was quite frightening.

The Emperor looked0 at this person. Why did she look like she was crazy? A feeling of disgust appeared on his face. Also, even if an official’s wife wanted to plead for justice in front of him, it should be her husband. What was she charging forward for?

Just as he was thinking this, Lord Ma, the minister of the Board of Punishments, also kneeled with his forehead soaked in sweat. First, he fiercely glared at the shrew then said with a bitter expression: “Your Majesty, please calm your anger. This lowly official’s daughter has indeed gone missing for quite some time. This lowly official sent someone to look all over for her and asked the servants in the palace to help with the search, but she still has not been found.”

“Oh?” The Emperor heard this then looked at the person that had come forward to kneel. A feeling of respect immediately filled his heart. The Board of Punishments was an important office. As the minister of that office, old Ma had offended quite a few people. It would be good if nobody had taken revenge. But when he thought of this, who would be so bold as to dare to do something in the palace? He turned to quietly ask Zhang Yuan: “What is the situation that you were just talking about? Is it related to this matter with old Ma?”

Zhang Yuan saw that it was not possible to continue hiding it from the Emperor, he helplessly said: “Since Your Majesty wishes to handle this matter, don’t stand here to take care of it. It’s cold outside. Allow this servant to bring you inside Ming Zhi Palace to speak about it.”

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The Emperor did not have any objections to this and obediently allowed himself to be brought inside. The Empress’ group also returned inside the hall. The play on the stage had been stopped long ago, and the people were standing to the sides, not daring to sit down. Seeing the Emperor be seated, the Empress stepped forward and took the initiative to say: “Your Majesty, a palace servant found two girls on the lakeside near Ming Zhi Palace. Looking at the way they were dressed, they should be young misses that had come to participate in the palace banquet. Precisely which two young misses still remains unclear. This wife was about to go and take a look.”

Once these words came out, everyone was shocked. The words were spread, and very quickly, news that people had died near the lake had spread through the entirety of Ming Zhi Palace. The faces of Lord Ma and his madam turned white upon hearing this. The madam was slightly better; however, Lord Ma had already begun trembling, repeatedly muttering: “It can’t be. It can’t be Huan’er. It definitely can’t be Huan’er.” As he spoke, he began to run out.

With him running out, Madam Ma naturally followed behind him. While running, she wailed. The sound of this caused everyone to shudder. Aside from the Ma family’s young miss, there was another corpse! The people managed to react, and everyone began to look for their family’s daughter. The groups of young misses dispersed and went to look for their parents. In an instant, Ming Zhi Palace fell into disarray. The Emperor felt dizzy from watching and simply waved his hand: “To the lakeside! Everyone go to the lakeside. We’ll find out by looking!”

Indeed, they did find out by taking a look. The two corpses were laid side by side, and a small arrow had pierced both of their chests. It was very clear that they had been murdered.

Feng Yu Heng did not have much of an impression of the minister of the Board of Punishment’s daughter; however, she recognized the other corpse. It was not just her that recognized it. Quite a few people could recognize it. Ren Xi Feng had her brow tightly furrowed and said: “Isn’t that the daughter of the grand scholar’s family?” She then looked at Feng Yu Heng with worry in her eyes.

That’s right, of the two dead people, one was the Ma family’s young miss, which could be seen by the minister of the Board of Punishments rushing over with his madam while crying. As for the other, it was the daughter of the grand scholar that had been chased out of Fei Cui Palace as a result of opposing Feng Yu Heng, Li Ying.

Feng Yu Heng did not understand why Li Ying would still be in the palace. Was she not supposed to have left with Grand Scholar Li? Even if the Emperor was to hand down punishment, it could not happen during the new year’s celebrations when the imperial seal was put away. They should have quickly returned home to make preparations; however, why did she die here? Li Ying had died, but what of Grand Scholar Li?

For some reason, Feng Yu Heng suddenly felt as if a large net was suddenly falling from the sky. It was aimed directly at her, and it was slowly tightening.

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