Chapter 132

Translator’s notes:

Thank you Karen T. for your kind comment and generous donation! These two chapters happen to be normal length so I’ll try me best to translate some extra. Looking at the chapter word count, after Chapter 138 things go back to normal for the most part. I’ll officially start doing weekly sponsored chapters again at that point.

*****

At dawn the next day, the Zhenguo Duke’s troops gathered their equipment and prepared to go search.

It was too steep to go down there from the top of the mountain. They could only go around from behind the mountain and see if they could get to the bottom of the cliff. By the time they found a path, it was already noon. Shen Ding had hurried back from the Zhenguo Duke Estate and brought a few hunting dogs.

The path beneath the cliff was extremely rugged, and there were many places where it wasn’t possible to walk. Luckily, these people were all skilled in martial arts and it wasn’t a problem for them.

They searched the whole way until they reached the spot facing the mountain’s peak. What awaited them wasn’t Yan Ting’s corpse, but a badly mutilated pile of meat. It seemed to have marks of being chewed on by animals and looked extremely tragic. Only the fragments of cloth and some of Yan Ting’s belonging indicated that this seemed to be Yan Ting.

There was almost nothing remaining!

After Shen Ding received the news, he muttered to himself before ordering them to continue the search. Only after searching the entire base of the cliff and seeing that all signs pointed to Yan Ting’s death did Shen Ding take his subordinates and leave Jiming Mountain.

…….

Yan Ling’s wedding was on the third day of March.

On this day, the Weiyuan Marquis Estate was extremely lively. Firecrackers were set off around noon and didn’t stop until the evening when the bride had gotten onto the bridal sedan.

Yan Zhi spent the entire day receiving and sending off guests and relatives. He didn’t even have time to drink some water. During this time, he naturally noticed that Yan Ting hadn’t appeared. However, Yan Ting had rarely made an appearance in the last couple of years so he didn’t think too much about it.

After all, this was merely a concubine born daughter of the eldest branch. There was truly no need for the Weiyuan Marquis himself to show up.

Yan Yan had naturally returned to her maternal household. Luo Huai Yuan had come along as well.

With the deafening sound of firecrackers and the beating of drums, the bridal sedan slowly departed from the Weiyuan Marquis Estate’s gates.

On the other side, another carriage arrived at the backdoor.

All the errand boys, grannies and maids had gone to participate in the liveliness out front, so a person was carried from the carriage directly into the estate without attracting any notice.

Afterwards, an explosive news soon spread throughout the estate.

The news had come from the Jinse Pavilion. It turns out that Yan Ting’s follower Wang Meng had returned to the estate covered in wounds, and reported to the madam Shen Yi Yao that the lord marquis had been ambushed and had fallen off the cliff.

This information stirred up huge waves in the estate.

Wang Meng was heavily injured and died right after speaking.

Shen Yi Yao was extremely terrified and called the eldest lord Yan Zhi and third lord Yan Qu over and told them about this matter. Both of them were incessantly startled. Yan Zhi’s previously joyful expression became grave.

Wang Meng’s corpse was still in the Jinse Pavilion. His eyes were wide open and bloodshot, his body extremely tattered. His wounds were grievous and bound with bloodstained cloth.

Shen Yi Yao sat in the main seat and her tears flowed incessantly. “Brothers-in-law should be the ones to decide how to resolve this matter. After all, this one is just a housewife. Wang Meng had said he fainted after getting shot and managed to luckily escape. Since they were in the wilderness and he didn’t have a horse, he could only drag his wounded body back to the capital. Luckily he encountered a carriage driver making deliveries which saved him some effort in getting back. Unfortunately, he was only able to hurriedly say a few words before passing away. It isn’t clear who ambushed them or why.”

When Yan Yan received the news, she also hurried over to the Jinse Pavilion. However, her face was filled with doubts: “Wang Meng is dad’s personal guard who followed him for over a decade. He’s always been loyal so he wouldn’t speak randomly. He actually said dad has fallen from a cliff and that his survival is uncertain. Since this is the case, it’s better to send people to search the place. The longer we delay, the smaller dad’s chance of survival.”

“What niece said is right!” Yan Zhi said heavily: “I will go gather the household guards and head to Jiming Mountain to search.”

At this time, news came from the Rongan Hall. When the old madam heard about this matter, she had directly fainted.

Shen Yi Yao could only hurry past Yan Zhi and Yan Qu, saying she had to go check on the old madam. She also ordered for Wang Meng’s corpse to be temporarily stored before making funeral arrangements the next day. Wang Meng had loyally guarded his master so his funeral needed to be dignified. They couldn’t let his loyal spirit down.

Yan Zhi and Yan Qu split up, each busying themselves.

…….

The search yielded no results.

The Weiyuan Marquis Estate had sent out guards, carriage drivers, errand boys and so on. Jiming Mountain wasn’t tall but the terrain was rugged. They searched through the night and the entire next day, but didn’t find anything.

When the old madam awoke after fainting yesterday, she wasn’t able to sleep and restlessly paid attention to the proceedings despite not being able to move or speak. Every once in a while, she would order someone to ask about the situation, bugging people to no end.

Eldest aunt Yan Feng had also received the news and returned. She had to worry about her younger brother’s fate while also worrying about her mom’s health. Chen Chun had come with her. Although he didn’t look too concerned on the surface, he did have the Chen household’s guards help with the search.

Another day passed. During this time, the old madam faded in and out of consciousness several times. With no other choice, she had Matron Zhao ask Shen Yi Yao to come, and requested that she go and ask her maternal family to help with the search.

With the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s assistance, everything seemed to become a lot easier. The path to the cliff was easily discovered. They then went through the bumpy road to the bottom of the cliff. Everyone saw the pile of meat that was already giving off the smell of decay.

The torn yet familiar clothing and some scattered items made it clear that this was the missing Yan Ting.

When news of his death was sent back to the estate, the old madam once again fainted.

The entire estate was in a state of mourning. Everyone looked bleak and pale.

*

Although Yan Ting was a minor character, he was ultimately still a marquis. He actually ended up dying mysteriously in the wilderness without a complete corpse.

This matter naturally aroused a clamor within the capital. Just for the sake of the Zhenguo Duke’s dignity, there were quite a few people who came to offer respects to the dead.

It was said he had died after falling from a cliff due to an ambush by an unknown party. This caused the previous matter of Shen Yi Yao being ambushed as well to spread. Within a few short days, the couple had both been attacked. Could they have offended someone? Many people couldn’t help but wonder. To actually dare make a move against the Zhenguo Duke’s daughter and son-in-law, the person responsible was naturally not ordinary. Therefore, despite there being a lot of people paying respects, none of them expressed any opinion on this matter. It was like Yan Ting had died of ordinary causes, and not due to an ambush.

In the funeral hall, Shen Yi Yao wore a plain white hemp garment. Yan Mo, Yan Hong and the fifth miss Yan Chan were dressed similarly. Even the young fifth young master Yan Qing was wearing mourning clothes as they knelt in the hall.

Since Yan Yan had married out and was also part of the royal family, regulations stated that she was no longer part of the Yan family. She naturally couldn’t wear mourning clothes for Yan Ting like the rest. However, since her father had died after all, it was still appropriate to wear something plain despite the regulations.

Because Yan Ting had died in his prime unexpectedly without an intact corpse, they only awaited the departed soul for seven days before hurriedly burying him with a cenotaph. Afterwards they had to lay out forty-seven Taoist arrangements seven by seven and perform ceremonies to help his soul find peace.

The old madam hadn’t been able to accept that her son had tragically died. Although she couldn’t speak or move, she still bugged everyone daily. Matron Zhao was her interpreter. Not only did the old madam become visibly thinner, Matron Zhao was the same way.

The old madam lay in bed with a sinister expression, babbling who knows what.

She was shriveled and her eyes were sunken, looking like a skeleton at first glance. Although she had been bedridden for several years, she had maintained herself pretty well. There were maids and grannies massaging her every day and changing her bedding. All sorts of nourishments were given to her continuously. Apart from not being able to speak or move, she wasn’t much different from any other elderly person.

However, Yan Ting’s death had given her a deep blow. If it weren’t for her resentment, she would probably have passed away.

Shen Yi Yao, Xue-shi, Yan Zhi and a few adopted sons and wives were in front of the bed. Matron Zhao spoke while shedding tears: “The old madam only wants one thing now: to find the true culprit behind the lord marquis’s death. This thought occupies her both day and night. Lords and madams should do their best.”

Yan Zhi looked dispirited and his beard was unkempt.

First was the matter of finding the missing Yan Ting, and then came the funeral arrangements. The women weren’t able to handle this matter and old three was always muddled in handling things. All of this had been left to him.

These days, Yan Zhi had also grown thin. Xue-shi’s heart ached as she brewed nourishing tonics for him daily to replenish his body. However, during the mourning period it was forbidden to eat meat. She could only depend on swallow’s nest soup. Many people were the same way in the estate.

Yan Zhi didn’t really like these sorts of nourishment. These were good things but without any meat and relying on soup made him almost give birth to a chicken inside his mouth. Without good food and good sleep, along with the old woman making a fuss daily, how could he not grow thin?

He took a deep breath and forced himself to remain calm: “Mom, your sons have already tried their best. We’ve reported it to the Heavens Abiding Estate but those people had been extremely careful. They didn’t leave the slightest trace. If it weren’t for Wang Meng’s words prior to his death, everyone would have assumed he had accidentally fallen off the cliff and died from his injuries.”

This was truly the case. Since something like this happened to a grand marquis, who was also the Zhenguo Duke’s son-in-law, the Heavens Abiding Estate naturally put in all their efforts. Unfortunately, they were helpless and couldn’t find anything.

But the old madam didn’t believe it. No matter how they explained, she didn’t believe any of it. She had already made up her mind that they couldn’t find the culprit because they weren’t trying hard enough. They were all bad people, mooching off old two’s glory and acting respectful daily. Now that he was gone, they had revealed their true faces.

Of course, Matron Zhao didn’t dare to relay these words. If she did, the masters and mistresses in the estate wouldn’t let her off. The old madam not only scolded Yan Zhi’s group, but also scolded Matron Zhao since she never managed to relay her point completely.

Her method of scolding was to viciously glare with wide eyes while muttering curses. If was still fine when many people were present, but if you were alone with her at night, it would make your blood run cold.

The old madam glared viciously at Yan Zhi and then at Matron Zhao.

Matron Zhao could only stammer: “Second madam, your maternal household has so much influence. The Zhenguo Duke, that elder, is also highly valued by his majesty. The old madam means to ask second madam to do her best and find the culprit as soon as possible so the lord marquis can rest in peace.”

Shen Yi Yao had also grown extremely haggard these past few days. Her chin had become pointy and she seemed so weak the wind could blow her over.

Hearing these words, she raised her head and said: “Father will naturally do his best. It’s just that there’s a lot of difficulties with this matter. Mother-in-law also knows the details. We can only do our best, but dare not guarantee anything.”

The old madam fiercely glared at Shen Yi Yao, seemingly wanting to eat her up. Her mouth babbled some unclear curses. No one could understand her but it clearly wasn’t anything good.

Shen Yi Yao stared straight at her without fear or yielding.

Xue-shi saw the atmosphere was a little awkward and hurriedly interrupted: “Second sis-in-law will naturally do her best. It’s just being newly widowed, it’s not easy for her to move about. There is another matter. The Grand Xi’s nobility is only inherited for five generations. Second brother-in-law was the last generation. Now that he has met with mishap, we’re all incessantly heartbroken, but it also cannot be changed. According to convention, someone will soon be sent over to take reclaim this estate and also our bestowed land, as well as the estate’s cinnabar metal seal of nobility. What should we all do at that time?”

Author’s notes:

Wang Meng’s so called report was naturally fake. Wang Meng’s corpse was in the Shen household’s hands. With Shen Yi Yao giving inside information from the Weiyuan Marquis Estate, it naturally wasn’t something difficult to accomplish. As for why they did this, it was so Yan Ting’s death could be publicly announced. He couldn’t just vanish, right?

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