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   Chapter 102 Painstaking Investigation (Part One)

Eight-year-old Princess: Phoenix Reborn By Lan You Ruo Characters: 9748

Updated: 2018-09-05 09:33


When Empress Yuan Zhen reached the well where the murder happened, Emperor Ning and Yun Shang were already there. The dead body had been covered with a plain white cloth. The Empress glanced at the dead body before she greeted the Emperor and said, "Good morning, Your Majesty."

Emperor Ning nodded and replied, "Good morning. Get up, please."

The Empress stood and waved her sleeves with a disgusted look, "Why was a murder committed here in the Spring Festival? You Majesty, in which Palace did this dead maid work?

Emperor Ning squinted as he replied, "Changchun Palace."

"Changchun Palace? Isn't that Lady Ming's Palace?" The Empress was puzzled. She had this nagging feeling that something was wrong. After the Emperor ordered servants to carry the dead body away, the Empress bid the Emperor farewell and returned to Qiwu Palace.

"Xiu Xin, go to Changchun Palace. Something doesn't seem right. Find some information about the dead maid." The Empress frowned as she spoke.

Xiu Xin said after a moment's silence, "Your Majesty, I think we should not be involved with the affairs of Changchun Palace. We have already made many enemies. The ban upon you has just been lifted. Lady Jin had a miscarriage and Princess Hua Jing has been imprisoned. We had better wait and see what really happened at Changchun Palace."

The Empress knew Xiu Xin told the truth, but the ominous feelings worried her. After a long time, she sighed, "I should seek an opportunity to visit the Grand Councilor's mansion. Hua Jing must be innocent and framed by Yun Shang. Unfortunately, Hua Jing is now imprisoned in the Dali Temple. But, something horrible just happened at the Palace. At this moment I, as the Empress, can't leave. But I'm still worried about Hua Jing.

Xiu Xin said in a hurry, "Your Majesty, you should be patient. After all, Princess Yun Shang is a woman and hasn't been in the Palace for a long time. Thus, she lacks the time needed to set so many traps. Yesterday, it was Prince Jing who intervened at Jinluan Hall. I'm sure that eunuch from Meiying Hall must have received direct orders from Prince Jing.

"Ha-ha. Shu Jin is a bitch. I have no idea how she's always lucky. The Emperor favors her, and her daughter has the protection of Prince Jing. No, I won't allow it. Yun Shang can't be with Prince Jing. If Prince Jing protects her all the time, we won't be able to hurt her." The Empress clenched her hands into fists. She was quiet for a moment before adding, "If Yun Shang's reputation is compromised, she will lose Prince Jing's favor."

"Your Majesty, what will we do?" Xiu Xin was shocked and also curious.

The Empress smiled slightly, "Father always asks me to wait and see. But, now, I can't wait anymore."

"Atishoo..." Yun Shang sneezed at Qingxin Palace, "Who is cursing me?"

Qian Yin hastily said, "Who dares to curse the Princess? I will skin her, take out her bones, and drink her blood."

Yun Shang smiled faintly and leaned again the cushion. She had a serious expression. "Qian Yin, do you know how the maid died last night?"

Hearing the question, Qian Yin looked around before walking toward Yun Shang. She squatted before the Princess and replied, "Your Highness, the guard watching over the well told me that a man dressed in black dragged the maid's body and threw it inside the well. He seemed to be very good at Kung Fu. Thus, no immediate action could be taken against him. Then, he was followed and seen entering Changchun Palace."

"Changchun Palace. I see, Lady Ming must be involved in this murder." Yun Shang blinked, "At New Year's Eve, did any of our people see anything unusual happening at the Imperial Garden, such as any passersby tossing anything on the ground?"

Qian Yin shook her head and replied, "That night, the Empress's seal went missing from Changchun Palace. Consequently, all Palaces and Halls were surrounded by the imperial guards. Nobody could get in or out. As a result, none of our people could find a way out."

"If nobody could step out of the Palaces and Halls, who murdered the maid? Besides, where was the Empress's seal found at last?" Yun Shang asked again.

Qian Yin replied in a low voice, "It seems that a maid from Changchun Palace had taken it. Lady Ming was furious and ordered the maid to be executed immediately."

After hearing these words, Yun Shang closed her eyes and sighed heavily, "Who threw the moss on the ground? Who cleaned it?"

"Lord Zheng has arrived! Are you looking for the Princess?" A maid's voice was heard. Yun Shang stood to greet Lord Zheng. At the sight of the Princess stepping out of the inner room, Lord Zheng kowtowed and said hastily, "Your Highness, the Emperor ordered me to bring you a message. The dead maid's body has been placed in a remote Palace in the west. If you are interested, I can show you the way."

Yun

Shang nodded and replied, "Lead the way, please."

Yun Shang asked Qian Yin to bring a cloak for her. Then, they followed Lord Zheng as he walked toward the remote Palace.

"Lord Zheng, when did Prince Jing return? Why haven't I heard of my father issuing a decree asking him to return?" Yun Shang cupped a warmer in her hands to fight the cold. She asked casually. To underplay her curiosity, the Princess glanced at the heavy snow falling on the trees.

Lord Zheng laughed faintly before replying, " You have no idea? Nor do I. I never heard the Emperor calling Prince Jing back. However, in the dead of night immediately before New Year's Eve, Prince Jing broke in suddenly, which frightened me. But, it was not until New Year's Eve that I learned that he had returned for your marriage as arranged by the Emperor. I saw Prince Jing grow up. I'm aware that his coldness hides his kindness. Besides, Prince Jing has always protected you. Please set your heart at rest. I assure you that he will take good care of you."

The corners of her mouth twisted. It seemed that Lord Zheng thought she was worried about her marriage with Prince Jing. Thus, he chose to speak reassuringly of the Prince, although indirectly. Was Prince Jing kind? Indeed, he wasn't evil. But, he could be careless.

As expected, this remote Palace was overgrown with grass and weeds. It was dark, cold, and desolate. As soon as she entered the inner Hall, Yun Shang saw the dead body shrouded with a plain white cloth.

Yun Shang approached the dead body. She handed the warmer to Qian Yin before removing the cover. The face underneath was ghastly pale from being soaked in water for a long time. It was also swollen and bluish.

Yun Shang meticulously studied the corpse's eyes, ears, mouth, and nose. She even pressed its abdomen. Then, she whispered, "No water is inside the abdomen. She was killed before being thrown inside the well. The bluish skin tells me that she died from suffocation."

Yun Shang raised the dead body's hand and frowned. She pulled several green threads from under the fingernails.

"Your Highness, they are exactly the same as those found on the path where Lady Jin had her accident. Did the dead maid place the moss?" Qian Yin asked quickly.

Yun Shang said nothing. Instead, she meditated in silence for a moment. Then, she carefully examined other parts of the body before finally standing. Qian Yin hurried to find water so that Yun Shang could wash her hands. Then, she returned the warmer to the Princess.

"Now, it's time to return to the Palace. There's nothing left to do here. Lord Zheng, please dispose of this body properly." Yun Shang said as she stepped out of the inner Hall.

Back at Qingxin Palace, before taking off her cloak, Yun Shang turned and said to Qian Yin, "Ask our spy at Changchun Palace whether the dead maid was there the night when the Empress's seal went missing. The maid's name was Bi Luo and she was responsible for fetching water at Changchun Palace."

Qian Yin responded and left quickly. Then, Yun Shang took off her cloak and shouted, "Bring me some hot water and suet cream."

Some maids fetched a basin of hot water. Yun Shang soaked her hands in the water for a while before drying them carefully and putting on the suet cream. At last, she relaxed. In her previous life and in this life, she had never touched a dead body. Recalling the horrible experience a moment ago, she found herself covered in a cold sweat.

Yun Shang was leaning against the cushion and reading a book when Qian Yin entered. She said, "Your Highness, when the Empress lost her seal, Bi Luo was at Changchun Palace. She didn't leave the Palace."

Yun Shang nodded. Her expression did not reflect surprise at the maid's report. When she found the green threads under the maid's fingernails, she understood that the maid was a scapegoat. Yesterday morning, when she paid her respects to the Empress, Yun Shang had deliberately mentioned the moss and the well. This was well-heard by a collaborator present among the ladies. The moss issue was not fabricated, but she wasn't certain about the well. Even so, the murderer must have felt alarmed and confused.

The murderer killed the maid just to offer a scapegoat.

"In the past two days, did anybody visit Hua Jiang at Dali Temple?" Yun Shang couldn't help smiling when she thought of Hua Jing. It's said that the jails at Dali Temple were guarded heavily. She desperately wanted to know whether Princess Hua Jing, who had always been spoiled, could live there comfortably.

Qian Yin replied, "Lady Yingying, the Grand Councilor's granddaughter went to visit her once. Rumor goes that Lady Yingying was filled with remorse and cried heavily, although Princess Hua Jing looked well. She scolded Lady Yingying severely for nearly half an hour."

"Uh? Yingying?

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