The rumors were updated once again.
Previously, these rumors had spread everywhere but since they were vague and ambiguous, not many people believed them. Now, the “major household” in the rumors had been revealed, inevitably making people believe it.
The major household in question was the Jinyang Marquis’s Estate. The person who sold her off was the Jinyang madam Tian-Shi, and the ones who was sold off were the young Ruan Siyi’s personal senior maids.
Ruan Siyi had neglected his wife and spoiled his mistresses back then. He would fraternize with several maids the entire day, and ended up causing his wife to attempt suicide out of humiliation. For the sake of placating the wife’s anger, the Jinyang Madam had sold the few culprits out of the capital. The current prime senior concubine was one of them.
Everyone was in an uproar. Even that frivolous second son Ruan Siyi was once again in the limelight.
Many versions of “the senior concubine and the young master of the marquis’s estate’s story” started circulating. Even the commoners in the capital heard about it.
The prime senior concubine was an obstacle for many people, and they all secretly helped pass the word along. Everyone prepared to watch the show as they helped spread the rumors. They kept an eye on the palace for signs of movement while laughing at the Jinyang Estate for having gone insane for the sake of wealth and status.
No matter how this matter was resolved, no matter if the prime senior concubine fell, the Jinyang Estate was finished. The Jing Emperor would definitely not let them off.
Within the Jinyang Estate, the Jinyang Marquis was in the middle of raging.
Without his knowledge, his wife had caused such a major situation. It was no wonder the Jinyang Marquis was furious. He wasn’t just angry, he wished to tear Tian-Shi to shreds at this moment.
“This marquis thought you were good, thought you were intelligent. Would an intelligent person do something so stupid?! Are you trying to get the whole estate to accompany you in death?”
The entire main pavilion was scarily quiet. The maids and matrons had all been sent out by the Jinyang Marquis.
Tian-Shi was on the floor, her dismal expression no longer containing her usual grace. There was a very large handprint on her pale face. That print was already turning purple, and clearly showed how forceful the marquis’s blow was.
“Tell this marquis what you were thinking. Are you a pig? How could our estate get involved in such an affair? Others were busy playing dumb but you actually dared charge straight ahead.”
“I didn’t charge…” Tian-Shi finally started crying bitterly. It wasn’t just the pain of her husband hitting her, but also because she wasn’t able to suppress the terror in her heart. “It was the Chengyang Count’s Estate and Virtuous Concubine Qiao. They tricked me…..”
“They tricked you? If you didn’t put yourself out there, would they have been able to trick you? No one in the palace is simple. Anyone with the slightest bit of intelligence would have stayed far away instead of rushing forward, but only you did the exact opposite.”
“No, no…..it was for the sake of our family….”
The Jinyang Marquis sneered, “Why don’t you just say it was for the sake of your maternal family….”
Ruan Siming and Ruan Siyi received the news and barged inside. Seeing the situation in the room, they were both shocked.
Ruan Siyi ran over and helped Tian-Shi up. Tian-Shi fell into her son’s arms and cried heavily.
“Dad, what matter can’t be discussed properly? Why did you have to hit mom?!”
The Jinyang Marquis frowned, his eyes cold, “Why don’t you first ask your mom what she did!?”
Ruan Siming had some idea already. Only Ruan Siyi who was fooling around in the rear court all the time wasn’t aware of what was going on.
Tian-Shi cried inconsolably and wasn’t able to speak. The Jinyang Marquis could only explain the situation.
After listening, Ruan Siyi was directly stunned. He asked in a panic: “What should we do now?”
“What should we do? We’re done! We’re completely finished!” The Jinyang Marquis sat paralyzed in his chair, his face ashen. “Even if an immortal came, he wouldn’t be able to save us!”
“Lord marquis, madam, this is bad….”
Ruan Siyi who was both panicked and anxious vented his anger, “What are you yelling for? What’s bad? Where’s your etiquette?”
The person who ran over was completely out of breath. Only after panting for a while did he finish his words, “A large group of soldiers and officers have come to the estate. We’re completely surrounded!”
The Jing Emperor had truly made a move, but it exceeded everyone’s expectations.
Everyone from the Jinyang Marquis’s estate was detained by the judicial department. They were accused of slandering a major first rank senior concubine conferred by the court.
Apart from being astonished, there were people who secretly prepared to submit memorandums the next day. After all, it was just a rumor. Before the truth of the matter was investigated, it wasn’t enough to suppress a marquis’s estate.
Of course, the Jing Emperor could make this decision by himself, but this was the attitude of an incapable ruler. If he got the reputation of being incapable right after ascending, there would definitely be people stirring things up in the future. Don’t forget, there were quite a few people eyeing things in the dark, wanting to take advantage of the commotion to cause trouble.
Unexpectedly, the Jing Emperor released an imperial edict in court the next day. He ordered the Ministry of Justice, the Judicial Department and the Capital’s Investigation Bureau to jointly investigate this matter and clear the senior concubine’s name.
These actions caused an uproar amongst the officials and nobility. If the three major departments were jointly investigating, they would definitely get to the bottom of things.
Things like rumors were impossible to clear up. Trying to do so usually only made matters worse. Normally people chose to ignore them until they went away, or they would release other rumors to cover it up. Very few would choose to use such a fierce method and stir things up even more.
No one expected the Jing Emperor to make such a decision. Could he have truly been enraged? Or was he completely certain the accusations were false?
At this time, everyone became mute. Several people became restless.
The Chengyang Count’s Estate and Virtuous Concubine Qiao were also caught off guard. They had thought the senior concubine would not be able to get out of this situation unscathed while the Jing Emperor would have to suffer this grievance silently. Even if he was angered, he would temporarily not deal with anyone in case it gave more credence to the rumors. He would only deal with things after the fact, and by then the prime senior concubine would already be finished. To preserve his dignity, he also wouldn’t do things too obviously, and merely come up with an excuse to deal with the Jinyang Estate.
Of course, a mere marquis’s estate wouldn’t have been able to cause such a stir. This would lead them to conclude that the Jing Duke’s Estate was also responsible for causing mischief. In the end, it would have nothing to do with their Chengyang Estate.
But now that the Jinyang Estate’s people were already in custody, would Tian-Shi keep silent to protect those who betrayed her? Even a fool would know that wasn’t possible. Furthermore, with the three departments collaborating, Tian-Shi wouldn’t be able to hide it if she tried.
The Jinyang Estate’s people were jointly guarded by the three departments. No one was allowed to visit them, and it wasn’t possible to make any moves in the dark. They could only watch as the hearing set for three days later approached.
On this day, the senior concubine invited Virtuous Concubine Qiao to the Chenxi Palace for a conversation.
Xiao Hua didn’t say much, and merely chatted idly with her while smiling brightly. It seemed as if the chaos outside had nothing to do with her.
In comparison, Virtuous Concubine Qiao seemed to be a little restless, her smile also a little forced.
“Little sis virtuous concubine, have you been sleeping well? You have bags under your eyes. Us women cannot be compared to men, especially if you’re older. Not sleeping well for a day would age you a few years. We’re not young after all.” Xiao Hua felt her own tender face and lowered her eyes, lamenting how quickly beauty fades.
“Concubine is still young, and naturally doesn’t have this problem.”
“That’s true.” Xiao Hua’s eyes rippled and she shot Virtuous Concubine Qiao a glance. “But the same can’t be said for little sis virtuous concubine. After all, at your age, it’s still important to pay attention to this.”
“Thank you for concubine’s consideration.” Virtuous Concubine Qiao had been a little absent-minded the entire time, and didn’t seem to realize Xiao Hua was mocking her. “This servant concubine has some things to take care of in the palace, and can’t accompany senior concubine any longer. This servant concubine will take her leave first.”
Seeing her leave in a panic, Xiao Hua curled her lips and said: “Ding Xiang, how many more sleepless nights do you think this virtuous concubine will have?”
Ding Xiang smiled and said: “At least two more, until the hearing three days later. It’s also possible that there will be more sleepless nights after that. It’s her fault for not knowing her place.”
“That’s true. Who would have expected that she was the one fanning the flames in the dark? However, she’s also a smart one and understands how to use people’s weaknesses. Luckily our majesty does things differently from other people. This has astonished quite a lot of people.”
Ding Xiang nodded, but her gaze suddenly turned gloomy, “But it still affected concubine’s pure reputation.”
“Enough, what pure reputation?” Xiao Hua waved her hand carelessly. “This thing needed to be taken care of sooner or later. Might as well get it done with while getting rid of some people. Furthermore…..”
Xiao Hua didn’t finish her sentence. After a while, she suddenly said: “You’re about to be married off. Don’t show your face in public in the coming days. This seat will have Chun Cao deal with things.”
Ding Xiang wasn’t quite at ease, “Can Chun Cao handle it? This servant is afraid she might get stage fright.”
“Don’t underestimate that lass….”
The day of the joint hearing finally arrived.
Within the judicial hall, the judicial department’s supreme justice, the ministry of justice’s prime minister and capital investigation bureau’s left imperial censor were seated bright and early. The Jing Emperor’s general manager Eunuch Fu’s group was there as well.
The main judge was the supreme justice who sat in the central position. The prime minister and the left censor sat to either side of him. Eunuch Fu sat below them.
This sort of hearing was extremely complicated, and required people to be brought up one by one for questioning. There was an official registrar and several people in charge of keeping a record of the proceedings.
Due to the Jing Emperor’s move this time, the entire Jinyang Estate had long since been scared silly. There was no need to mention Tian-Shi herself.
She was the first person to be called forward, and she explained everything in detail without hiding anything. This include how she recognized the prime senior concubine initially and how after her investigation her little thoughts had stirred, been put to rest and then stirred once again. She also revealed the Chengyang Count madam’s scheme and how she herself was tricked.
After listening, the three officials pretty much understood what was going in.
To put it plainly, this woman had thought she had some blackmail that could be used to her benefit. She didn’t expect that prime senior concubine to be so fierce and ignore her. This coincided with the empress becoming ill and about to lose her status. With many major characters exchanging blows in the dark, this silly person ended up being used.
Since the Chengyang Count’s Estate was mentioned, their people were also brought forward for questioning. Because the Jing Emperor had decreed for all estates to comply and that nothing was off the table, the Chengyang Estate’s people were quickly placed under watch, and no one was permitted to come and go. Then, the Chengyang Count’s madam was brought forward.
She seemed to have made preparations in advance, and although her face was pale she didn’t seem panicked. She quickly confessed.
However, based on her description, she was extremely close with Tian-Shi. She noticed that Tian-Shi looked worried one day, and found out about this matter after asking a couple of times. Since she was also familiar with the Jing Duke Estate’s second madam, she accidentally let it slip during their idle conversations. Once it spread, she knew she had messed up but was also helpless to stop it, and could only suffer many sleepless nights.
The Chengyang madam cried while criticizing herself for her slip of the tongue, saying how she failed to keep the secret and implicated her entire estate. She begged the officials to see clearly that she didn’t have any ill intentions, and merely suffered from being too gossipy which was common to all women. She said if there needed to be punishment, they should only punish her and not her family since they weren’t aware of anything.
According to her, everything was blamed on her nature as a woman, accidentally letting out a secret. The three officials clearly knew what had happened. This matter probably implicated one of the other concubines in the palace. But since there was one more person involved who hadn’t been questioned yet, they could only have the Chengyang madam be taken away and send someone over to the Jing Duke’s Estate.
In half a day, two estates were sealed off, though it was really just sending someone to watch the doors without letting anyone in or out. But this sort of situation was rarely seen, especially since even the Jing Duke’s estate was implicated. Those who were concerned about this matter pulled their ears and scratched their cheeks restlessly. Many people from the various estates were crowded outside the justice hall waiting for news.
Finished this chapter at 3 am. Took a glance at the comment section, but didn’t have the energy to respond.
Saw some readers asking why the virtuous concubine thought she could become the empress, and whether something was wrong with her brain.
Virtuous Concubine Qiao had never said she wanted to become the empress. It was all the subordinates saying some flattering words. Perhaps the Chengyang Count’s madam had this thought, but she herself wasn’t so foolish as to say something so far outside her capabilities.
To put it plainly, Virtuous Concubine Qiao was just sick of Xiao Hua and wanted to screw her over. Since a cannon fodder delivered herself to the door, she felt that stirring things up wouldn’t implicate her and ended up doing something malicious. A woman who had been neglected for several years would give anything a shot. This could easily be understood (if this author was in her shoes, I’d do the same thing). Her working together with Tian-Shi wasn’t for the sake of the empress’s position, but rather just to screw people over.
Tian-Shi (offended Xiao Hua, was frightened, and tried to put up a fight, getting rid of an obstacle as well as the anxiety in her heart) -> Virtuous Concubine Qiao + Chengyang Madam (purely trying to make a mess and screw people over, though doesn’t include the madam having her own thoughts and wanting her daughter to become the empress. But if the virtuous concubine was able to come up with such a scheme, she probably wouldn’t overestimate herself so much) -> Xiao clan (completely after the empress’s position, feeling like Xiao Hua was a stumbling block and wanting to pull her down).
Of course, there were many random people who wanted to fish in troubled waters.
This event is about to be wrapped up. Not dragging it on, merely needs to take care of more than just Tian-Shi and Virtuous Concubine Qiao. Probably another one and a half chapters.
This author’s going to bed.