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   Chapter 96 The Versions Of Truth

Eight-year-old Princess: Phoenix Reborn By Lan You Ruo Characters: 18884

Updated: 2018-09-02 21:32

"The Madam Director to the Shangxiang Bureau will be familiar with all kinds of incenses. Your Majesty could ask her advice." When Lady Jin heard Yun Shang's explanation, a worried look appeared on her face. She hurriedly suggested calling for the Madam Director to help identify the scent.

Lady Ming snorted. "Again? The banquet accident was also caused by an odd smell. Bring the Shangxiang Director here. I'd like to know what's wrong with this quilt."

The Emperor nodded at Lady Ming before calling Lord Zheng forward. He then ordered Lord Zheng to send for the Shangxiang Director. As they spoke, the maids and eunuchs serving in Changchun Palace gathered outside the hall. They prostrated in the snow, waiting for Lady Ming's punishment.

Lady Ming snorted, "So you are the ones on duty tonight? Well, tell me then, what strange things have you noticed? Have you heard any noises?"

The maids and eunuchs shuddered and kowtowed repeatedly. After a long time, a eunuch spoke. His teeth chattered with terror, "I heard a cat mewling, Your Highness. But the sound came from far away. All Her Highnesses in the Palace tend to pet cats, so I didn't take it as odd. Apart from that, I heard nothing else."

"We've heard nothing either, Your Highness." Hearing him speak, the other maids and eunuchs echoed.

Lady Ming sneered, "So, none of you has seen or heard anything before the accident? Is the culprit a ghost? Come, take these unfaithful slaves away, and flog each of them twenty times on their back."

Lady Ming's order was carried out immediately. All the servants cried for mercy when being dragged away. The sound of the crack of whip against flesh filled the yard, along with pain-filled moaning and wailing. Yun Shang's eyes turned dark at the scene. This was a standard Li Clan behavior. They always took out their anger on their servants, whose lives, in their eyes, were worthless.

As the punishment carried on, Lord Zheng led the Madam Director of the Shangxiang Bureau in. The Shangxiang Director was a woman in her thirties. She curtsied to the Royals present in a hurry, "Your Majesty, Your Highnesses."

Distracted and anxious, Lady Ming was in no mood for decencies. She waved the Director forward, saying, "Princess Yun Shang said that quilt was tainted by an odd smell. Go and sniff, and tell me if that is true."

The Shangxiang Director hurriedly curtsied to her. She stepped forward, took the quilt in both hands, and sniffed thoroughly. Suddenly, her face became serious, as if she had found something but was uncertain. She pondered for a while and sniffed again. Then she knelt down, and reported, "Your Majesty, Your Highnesses, the quilt is truly tainted with a pernicious incense. It will have to be incinerated."

"Pernicious?" Emperor Ning's eyes narrowed. He asked, "What harm will it do?"

The Shangxiang Director kowtowed as she explained, "If I didn't get it wrong, the quilt is tainted with a kind of incense named Insects Awaken, which has a very distinctive smell and attracts a variety of living creatures, for example, ants, snakes, centipedes, or other wild insects. Luckily, it is winter now, and most of the creatures are hibernating, few of whom have been attracted by the scent. If it were summer, the consequences would have been disastrous."

All the faces in the hall turned pale at her words. Lady Ming clenched the yellow sandalwood armrest in anger, her teeth gritted when she asked, "Madam Yu, who changed my bedding?"

Madam Yu hurriedly answered, "It was me, but I didn't know a thing about the incense. Yesterday, Yuan Bao jumped onto Your Highness's bed, and the quilt was smudged. When I was changing Your Highness's bedding, it occurred to me that Lady Fu had embroidered a quilt for Your Highness. So I removed the smudged quilt and placed the one made by Lady Fu."

"Lady Fu?" Lady Ming turned to Li Fuyi, and asked suspiciously, "Lady Fu, was the quilt made by you?"

Li Fuyi hurriedly knelt. She bit her lower lip while explaining, "I did embroider the quilt, and I did gift it to you. Apart from that, I didn't do a thing to it. Aunt, this is beginning to look more and more like a deliberately schemed plot. Someone must be setting me up. First the cat, and now the quilt..."

Biting her lower lip, Yun Shang glanced at the cat, then the quilt, before asking, "Madam, if the tainted quilt was placed inside a chamber, could the scent be smelt from outside?" She pointed to the dead cat on the ground and frowned. "The cat died in Her Highness's Palace for no reason, and no one spotted anything happening to her. I am wondering if perhaps the cat smelt the scent and wanted to approach the quilt. But the closed window blocked her way. In order to pass through, she dashed against the window repeatedly, and finally died from the incessant bonking."

Hearing her words, Madam Yu stuttered, "Your Highness must be joking. How can the scent be smelt from so far away? Besides, if a cat had knocked at the window repeatedly, the noise wouldn't be ignored."

Yun Shang nodded, "You're right, Madam. My guess is not perfect. But I was thinking of the incense, and the fact that no one had heard a thing in the palace. I'm just trying to combine both together."

Before she could say more, a voice came from behind, "I think the Princess is right." It was Lady Lan...

Yun Shang sneered. It seemed that Lady Lan always spoke without thinking. She wanted to continue, but a eunuch entered and reported, "Your Majesty, Your Highnesses, an old maid would like to confess."

Lady Ming was a little surprised, but she quickly said, "Bring her forward."

Two eu

I sent her for the secretion. What can I say? I never expected that the lure would cause my downfall."

Emperor Ning scoffed, "What are you playing innocent for? There's enough evidence to convict you. What do you say in your plea?"

Lady Lan knelt in front of him, smiling, "There is an old saying, Your Majesty. If you are out to condemn someone, you can always trump up a charge. I have nothing to say in my plea."

Emperor Ning waved his guards forward. "Take her away. Lady Lan has plotted against her fellow ladies in the most cruel-hearted way. For her moral wretchedness, she will be imprisoned in the Cold Palace from this day forward till the end of her life."

Lady Ming frowned at the sentence. She wanted to say something, but finally didn't. What could she say anyway? Who would believe her if she simply said that she sensed there was something wrong? How could her intuition outweigh the sound evidence? Neither could she clarify Lady Lan's character by claiming her to be the Empress's confidant, for allying with other ladies was a serious crime in the Palace.

Thinking that through, Lady Ming glanced around the Hall, but read nothing from the attendees' faces. Lady Jin used to be the Emperor's favorite before, but she had been imprisoned in the Cold Palace for so many years. She'd count herself lucky for being released again, let alone be in a position to exert her influence among the new ladies. In Lady Ming's opinion, Lady Jin was busy protecting her new child, so she wouldn't be the one behind tonight's scene. Princess Yun Shang was also an unlikely suspect. The Princess had grown up in Ning'guo Temple, far away from the entanglements in the Palace. However clever she may be, she wasn't able to plot such a thorough scheme without leaving a trace.

Lady Ming frowned as a feeling overwhelmed her. She suddenly felt that the future court life would be filled with disturbances. Distracted by the thought, she ordered, "Madam Cui has betrayed her Emperor and His Majesty's ladies. She will work in Yexiang Lane to cleanse her diseased soul."

The name sounded artistic, but Yexiang Lane was the place where the chamber pots were cleaned. Although Lady Ming had promised to spare Madam Cui's life, she had numerous ways to torture her.

But Madam Cui wasn't fazed. She kowtowed to Lady Ming and murmured, "Thank you for your kindness, Your Highness." Then the eunuchs dragged her away.

So far, this farce seemed to have been solved. Lady Ming claimed that she was consumed by the drama and needed to rest. And the other ladies also excused themselves before returning to their Palaces.

"How wonderful! Lady Lan had done many awful things under the Empress's order. Now her bad deeds have finally caught up with her." As they returned to Yun Shang's Palace, Qian Yin happily said.

But Yun Shang didn't respond. She had been quiet along the way, as she contemplated on tonight's event. Absent-minded, she sat on the bed, not even realizing that Qin Yi was helping her wash her feet. Suddenly, she cried out, "I see!"

Qin Yi and Qian Yin exchanged glances, "Your Highness, what do you see?"

Yun Shang smiled at them and said, "I see how it worked. Lady Lan should never have mentioned the compartment in her Guqin. Overwhelmed by anxiety, she made a grave mistake. Knowing about the compartment before the Emperor sent for her Guqin gave the culprit the opportunity to replace the deeds with the parcel. How swift."

Qin Yi giggled, "Have you been thinking of that this whole time, Your Highness?"

Yun Shang answered with a smile. Qin Yi wanted to say something, but only managed a sigh. Seeing that, Qian Yin also remained quiet. The two maids looked at each other before quietly helping Yun Shang into bed.

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