Decided to be nice, but of course it’s another 2-in-1 chapter. In fact, the next few chapters are all 1.5 – 2 chapters long….
Since it’s Lunar New Year, I’ll try to maintain my normal release schedule despite the length. But no sponsored chapters this week allowed. I filled out the donation bar just in case anyone gets any ideas.
Happy New Year! Enjoy!
Yan Yan swept her eyes over everyone at the scene. She made a note of the old madam and Yan Ting’s ugly expressions.
She stood in the center of the hall with her head high, looking at the crowd. Her tinkling voice was rather strong.
“My mom taught me as a child to be an upright person. Only then can one face the heavens without disgrace and face the people without shame. Since things have developed to this extent, the people won’t be convinced without a proper investigation. It’s unreasonable for the principal mother of a household to be crucified to the extent that she’s about to be gotten rid of, and still have to pretend everything is fine. What are Ah Mo and I supposed to do in the future? I am a girl. If my name is ruined, I at most won’t marry. But Ah Mo is a boy. How is he supposed to go out and about in the future?!”
Every word was spoken firmly, and shook people’s hearts.
A weak yet similarly determined voice sounded. “My thoughts are the same as my sister’s.”
It was Yan Mo.
This was the first time his sickly self expressed his own opinion. Even though his body was very small and his voice wasn’t loud enough, he was no longer going to allow his sister to carry all of the burden this time.
Yan Yan was a girl after all. No matter how tough she was normally, her words weren’t as persuasive as a boy’s. Although Yan Mo was still young, he was still the only principal son of the Weiyuan Marquis Estate. If nothing unexpected happened, he would be in charge of the Yan household in the future. His opinions couldn’t be ignored.
The two children were only around ten years old, but they actually cut off everyone’s path of retreat.
Shen Yi Yao let out an ambiguous smile, wiped her tears and walked out in front of the two children. Her expression was dismal and her appearance was a mess, but her face was set and her eyes were burning.
“Investigate properly. If I really did it, then get rid of me or punish me however you want.”
This was Shen Yi Yao’s first time revealing such an unyielding attitude in front of others.
All along, it’s been lamented that the Shen household had raised a daughter who was completely different from their usual style. The Zhenguo Duke Estate’s people were resolute and overbearing. They were upright and decisive. This daughter was actually like a strangleweed. She was weak and delicate, sweet-tempered and virtuous. She didn’t even know how to raise her voice at others.
Back then when Shen Yi Yao appeared within the social circles of upperclass women, she truly shocked everyone. Was such a proper lady really from the Zhenguo Duke Estate?
She truly was.
Shen Yi Yao had been protected too well from birth. She was pampered at home and the servants were all respectful. It could be said she was treated like a delicate flower. No matter what she encountered, her parents and brothers were all there to shield and support her. No matter what she needed, it would be delivered by someone to her hands. Sometimes she didn’t even have to think for herself since other people would have already thought everything through for her.
It was almost laughable. Her oldest brother Shen Dong was quite a bit older than her, and her nephew was only younger than her by two years. The moment that nephew learned to run, he knew that his household didn’t have many girls so he needed to protect this aunt of his.
Being pampered and protected by everyone, how was she supposed to mature?
Actually, Shen Yi Yao had never matured. Even now, she has yet to do so.
Her hands were shaking and her heart was quivering. She was panicked and her mind was a mess.
However, she understood one thing—–
That was that no matter what, she couldn’t allow her own children to bear such a reputation. If their mom had a bad name, how were they supposed to live in the future?
A mother’s strength.
Shen Yi Yao had never understood this concept.
It wasn’t clear if understanding it now was a little too late.
Yan Ting’s expression suddenly changed. He let out a soft breath, walked to Shen Yi Yao’s side and looked at her tenderly and remorsefully.
“Yao’er, take Ah Yan and Mo’er back first. I know you suffered grievances today. But since all the evidence pointed to you, it’s also understandable for mom to get angry. You also know how important descendents are to her. I was also a little uncollected today, and actually let things develop to this extent. Now, everyone isn’t calm enough. How about this? We’ll have people investigate properly tomorrow. I will definitely give you a proper response.”
Normally this move was very effective. Shen Yi Yao always listened to Yan Ting’s words, but unfortunately it didn’t work this time.
Shen Yi Yao wiped her tears and raised her head, looking directly at her husband.
She wanted to see a little more clearly, but wasn’t able to do so.
Her expression was obscure and her voice wooden. “No need. I feel Ah Yan made a lot of sense. Let’s wrap this up today.”
After speaking, she went and sat down in a chair on the side.
Yan Ting clenched his fists. His gaze grew profound and he no longer spoke.
Yan Yan’s gaze was a little alarmed. She pursed her slightly trembling lips, lowered her head and spoke in a quiet voice to Matron Zou who had appeared at some point by her side: “Is everything ready?”
“Answering the miss’s question: everyone is outside.”
The curtains keeping the wind out were suddenly lifted and the doors were opened wide. The cold wind poured inside but no one had the mind to notice.
At some point, the pavillion had been lit up brightly. All the lamps in the hallway, the courtyard and the walkways had been lit, allowing the people inside to clearly see the situation.
The courtyard was filled with many people.
These people were all large and sturdy men. They wore standardized uniforms and remained rigidly on standby.
The old madam was startled at seeing this. “Where did so many men come from? Hurry and drive them out.”
Xue-shi’s expression was complicated, and said quietly, “Err, mom, they’re second sis-in-law’s guards.”
That’s right, they were Shen Yi Yao’s guards and not the Weiyuan Marquis Estate’s.
Back when Shen Yi Yao married in, she didn’t only have a large dowry. The Zhenguo Duke had also given her a group of guards. There were around thirty people, and they were all raised as the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s private guard. These people were paid for via Shen YI Yao’s dowry, and had nothing to do with the Weiyuan Marquis Estate.
But Shen Yi Yao was someone who stayed indoors, and rarely went outside. Why would she need to use guards? They normally just provided protection when she went on a trip.
These people were very quiet within the estate and normally weren’t very eyecatching. The each had their own families and they would take shifts. Those who weren’t on duty would go home. This was the first time they were all gathered as a group.
Why did these people appear within the inner residence?
Shen Yi Yao had been at the Ziyu Pavilion this entire time. There was no doubt this was the third miss’s doing.
The old madam wavered between anger and alarm. She pounded her chair’s armrest angrily, “Ah Yan, what is the meaning of this? Allowing so many men to enter the rear residence. Do you still have any sense of propriety? Are you trying to overturn the heavens?”
Overturn the heavens?
That’s right, she was precisely trying to poke a hole through the heavens!
In the meantime, the guards outstide started to move. Two of them walked up carrying a person and threw him onto the walkway.
The crowd all glanced over.
That person had white hair and a beard with a long narrow face. There was a mole on his left cheek. He wore a grey cotton outfit and his expression was bewildered.
Wasn’t this Doctor Chang?
He hadn’t come to the rear residence in a while and the old madam trusted him deeply. The old madam suffered from chest pains, and Doctor Chang had been responsible for treating her daily.
Yan Yan walked over with a swish of her cloak.
She looked at the frightened and unsettled Doctor Chang and revealed a smile.
“Based on the current circumstances, you’ve probably realized something, right? I’m not a patient person. It’s already late and I don’t want to waste time. Are you going to confess? Or do we have to force you to say it?”
Doctor Chang’s lips trembled as he forced himself to appear calm. “What is the third miss talking about? It’s the middle of the night and you’re treating an elderly this way. Is this how the Weiyuan Marquis Estate treats its guests?” He then yelled angrily towards the old madam: “Old madam, you must give this elder an explanation for this matter! This elder is a doctor practicing medicine, not one of your noble estate’s servants. To actually be humiliated like this!”
For the sake of treating Concubine Pei, he had made trips to the Jinse Pavilion and the Ziyu Pavilion. Because it was already late, he remained in the Weiyuan Marquis Estate and didn’t leave. The estate had a room for his use year round so he had a place to stay. After soaking his feet, he had turned in for the night. Several large men then broke the door down and charged in, carrying him here.
“Lass Yan, why did you have people drag Doctor Chang over?”
“Of course there’s a reason. Why would I look for him if I didn’t have a reason?”
These words choked the old madam up and made her head spin.
She continuously slapped the table and yelled her head off, “Old two, this is the daughter you raised. Shen Yi Yao, are you not going to handle her?”
Shen Yi Yao remained silently seated with her head lowered.
Yan Ting knit his brows tightly and scolded, “Ah Yan, even if you’re angry your mom suffered a grievance, you shoudn’t act this way or disrespect the old doctor like this.”
He was ignored as well.
“Third miss, this elder isn’t a servant of your Weiyuan Marquis Estate whom you can do with as you please!” Doctor Chang threatened.
If his legs weren’t trembling and his voice wasn’t shaking, he would have been rather imposing.
Yan Yan couldn’t be bothered to respond to him. She turned and went back inside the hall.
One of the large men patted Doctor Chang’s shoulder and smiled nastily: “This old fellow is really amusing. A small shrimp like you can be pinched to death! Didn’t you hear the third miss? If you have something to say, hurry and say it. Otherwise we might not want to hear it anymore when you decide to speak up later.”
As he was speaking, Matron Dong brought a group of grannies and maids into the room. They were all the Ningxiang Chambers’ servants.
Yan Yan gave them a glance and they all marched into the eastern room.
The curtains were closed so it wasn’t clear what was happening inside. They only heard Matron Dong’s voice sound out. “Hey, Concubine Pei. You just miscarried. Why are you already out of bed?”
Concubine Pei’s expression was rigid. Could she say she was eavesdropping on the happenings outside?
“Since you can get out of bed, it’ll save this servant some trouble…..”
They heard Yan Qian shrieking inside, “Why are you pulling my concubine mom, let go…..”
No matter what she said, Concubine Pei was dragged out by the people.
She wore a set of innerwear, her expression was bewildered and her hair was scattered. “What’s going on? Aunt, cousin…..”
The old madam had been angered quite a bit today. “Why did you have people drag Concubine Pei out? She just miscarried and can’t catch a cold!”
Yan Qian ran over, her eyes swollen like walnuts. “Dad, grandmother, why aren’t you doing anything….”
A few maids crowded over, pulling and hugging and shoved her back into the room.
“Second miss, this matter doesn’t have anything to do with you. Hurry and go sleep.”
Yan Yan ignored what was happening and clapped her hands. “That’s right, there’s another one. Concubine Wu.”
When the words came out, Concubine Wu who was standing in the corner shook all over. No one gave her the opportunity to speak before she was pushed to stand with Concubine Pei.
Yan Yan looked at the two and nodded in satisfaction. Her lips contained a smile as she shook her finger. “What the mistress did, the personal servants definitely know!”
These words were spoken by the old madam to Shen Yi Yao earlier. Due to such groundless reasoning, Shen Yi Yao’s maids were all dragged out and beaten. This time it was Yan Yan’s turn.
Some people wondered how Yan Yan knew about these words when she clearly hadn’t been present. Was it just a coincidence or was she getting revenge for her mom?
Theoretically it should just be a coincidence. But looking at the current scene, who dared say it was?
So many people and such complete preparations naturally couldn’t be arranged in a short amount of time. No one would say this hadn’t been prepared beforehand.
Yan Yan had gone lantern viewing and the Weiyuan Marquis Estate was almost empty. Such a good opportunity to quickly do something. Thinking about it more, the people felt that this seemed to be a trap just waiting for someone to fall in.
Was it meant for Concubine Pei, or for everyone?
This question would never be answered.
Another wave of ghostly wails and wolfish howls sounded. Concubine Pei’s maids were dragged out. They weren’t as lucky as Concubine Pei and were directly thrown out into the courtyard and surrounded by a group of large men.
They were huddled together, wanting to cry but not daring to, wanting to yell but not daring to, deeply afraid they would be swallowed up by this group of men.
Yan Yan nodded in satisfaction and said with a clear voice: “Looks like everthing’s set up. There’s a few other things we won’t bother with for now. I’ll say it again. I’m not a very patient person. It’s late and I don’t want to waste time. Are you guys going to confess? Or are you going to be forced to talk? I’ll give you some time to think. I know you guys understand what I’m talking about.”
After she finished speaking, one of the guards said in a rough voice: “I noticed you were beating those maids earlier pretty well. Hurry up! Beat these maids over here for me. Give them a taste first. Don’t force this daddy to make a move. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be good if people start dying.”
The sturdy grannies being scolded by the guard were deathly pale and trembling.
They didn’t know who they had provoked. Earlier, they had been ordered to beat people, and they did as instructed. But in the middle of the beating, they were gagged and tied up before being thrown to the side. Now they were being threatened.
Forget it, forget it. Beating people was better than being beaten.
These grannies were quick and efficient, pressing the maids down on the bench and starting to beat them with trembling hands.
After a few hits, a voice sounded out like a thunderclap.
“Didn’t eat dinner or what?”
They almost dropped the plank out of fright. They put on a flattering smile and spat into their frozen hands. They rubbed them together with all their strength.
Immediately muffled groans, sobs and cries of pain and pleas for mercy sounded out. The maids were a mess of tears.
“Concubine, save me….”
“Old madam, lord marquis, spare us….”
“Third miss, I beg you…..”
Normally beatings were carried out with gags in case the masters were disturbed. Today, these grannies had either forgotten or were too frightened, and had actually left this important part out. They allowed them to cry out while focusing on the beating.
This was a display of strength. This was clearly a display of strength.
The crowd looked at Yan Yan in bewilderment, their gazes all very complicated.
Yan Zhi and Yan Qu were startled, Chen-shi’s brows were furrowed, the old madam was a mix of extreme rage and fear, Yan Ting’s gaze was rather profound. Only Xue-shi seemed a little unsurprised.
The third miss’s methods were always simple and rough, but they were undeniably effective. From the looks of things, Concubine Pei had fallen in again, and not lightly at that.
Xue-shi felt a bit of Schadenfreude. She had always had a grudge against Concubine Pei. She restricted the eldest branch’s allowance. Although Xue-shi didn’t say anything, she kept it in her mind.
Concubine Pei was losing her mind from fear and wanted to dive over to the old madam for help, but was pushed onto the floor. She sprawled there crying, “Aunt, cousin, why aren’t you saying anything. How can you let Yu Jin suffer such humiliation…..”
Yan Ting looked at her a little sympathetically and sighed: “Concubine Pei, if you didn’t do anything, nothing will happen to you. An upright figure wouldn’t have to worry about a crooked shadow.”
Was this abandoning the carriage to save the general?
From the looks of things, Yan Ting had no choice but to do so.
This result wasn’t unexpected.
Yan Yan yawned and urged, “Hurry up, stop dawdling.”
A cry of “understood” sounded out and Doctor Chang was lifted up.
“Gramps, seeing as you’re so old, I didn’t want to make things difficult for you. But since the two people inside are women, we’ll only make a move on them at the very end. How about we use you as a demo? Don’t worry, we definitely won’t kill you!”
This large man was fierce-looking. His teeth gleamed under the lamplight, making him seem like a life-seizing ghost to Doctor Chang.
He was still in a daze when he suddenly felt pain in his hand.
Then came a soul penetrating pain, making Doctor Chang a mess of tears and let out a tragic howl. His body writhed as he was held in the air by the large man.
The people inside were all startled. Some of the more timid ones, like Chen-shi, put a hand on their chest and burrowed into their husband’s arms.
“Hehe, how does it feel? Does it feel good? Don’t worry, you have ten fingers. Each finger has three segments. Let’s take it slowly. I guarantee that after everything is crushed, you will definitely still be fine!”
After speaking, another howl resonated throughout the open space.
What sort of method was this?
The ten fingers were linked to the heart, and they were being crushed!
The women in the rear residence had never seen such a scene before. They weren’t even willing to watch people beaten with a plank. Whenever they did something shameful, they would abstain from eating meat and recite Buddhist scriptures to comfort themselves. The rear residence had many schemes, and there were quite a few people with blood on their hands. However, those cases were never visible. If they weren’t visible, they could pretend it didn’t exist. They still pretended to be benevolent and merciful normally.
But when faced with such cruel torture in front of their eyes, they felt they had overestimated what their mind could tolerate. Such a hellish scene directly collapsed those weak-minded people and made them have endless nightmares.
The old madam couldn’t take it anymore. She had chest pains to begin with, and at this time started feeling waves of pain. Black spots danced in front of her eyes. Matron Zhao saw the situation wasn’t good and hurriedly took a small bottle from her robes. She shook out a pill and fed it into her mouth.
Xue-shi and Chen-shi couldn’t worry about their fear anymore and crowded over, helping her even her breathing.
The old madam’s lips trembled as she pointed with a shaking finger, “Shen Yi Yao, what a good daughter you’ve raised….”
Yan Yan gave her a glance, “Grandmother, that’s not really appropriate. When authorities investigate criminals, forcing them to confess is part of the process. We can only blame these people for being too sneaky. If we don’t use proper methods, they would refuse to confess. Your granddaughter is also helpless.”
Matron Dong interrupted: “Miss, this servant has an idea.”
“Miscarriage isn’t just a word to throw around. There are many ways to check. Just because that doctor took her pulse and said it was miscarriage doesn’t make it true. How about I take Concubine Pei inside to check?” Matron Dong glanced at Concubine Pei with malicious intentions.
“This is a good idea….”
Right as they spoke, a voice sounded from outside. “Miss, this old fellow is too cowardly. He confessed.”
“Oh! Grandmother, look! A confession!”
The old madam’s face was the color of pig liver from anger.
Concubine Pei’s face was deathly gray as she lay paralyzed on the floor.
This result wasn’t unexpected. Everyone more or less knew Shen Yi Yao was screwed over by Concubine Pei. What they didn’t expect was how quickly the third miss got to the answer. They had expected this investigation to require a lot of effort, calling over everyone one at a time for questioning. If they encountered those who were crafty and avoided responsibility, it would take a lot of time.
Who would have thought she didn’t play according to the rules. She just brought out a few key people, applied some cruel punishment and they honestly confessed!
Yan Yan walked in front of Concubine Pei and crouched down.
“To be honest, I really can’t figure out why you guys refuse to walk the proper path and insist on using crooked methods. Why not learn some good things instead of these underhanded schemes? I had a huge headache in the past. There are too many people like you, so do I have to learn a little as well to protect myself? Afterwards, someone told me something: such underhanded schemes are numerous, but are all nothing in front of absolute power. Concubine Pei, are you satisfied with the results?”
Concubine Pei glared at Yan Yan. “How did you find out?”
Yan Yan stood up, looking down at her from above. “This, I don’t need to tell you.”
“Come, tell everyone. I believe grandmother would love to hear you describe the process. At the same time, you can let my mom know how she was framed by you.”
“Why should I do as you say?!”
Yan Yan smiled. “I feel it’s best if you do as I say. I’ve always been someone to hold a grudge, you know.”
This was a clear threat.
Concubine Pei’s face turned pale.
She knew her outcome wouldn’t be good. Even if she didn’t die, she wouldn’t be able to remain in the estate. But she still had two children here….
Concubine Pei no longer struggled and spoke the truth of the matter.
Actually, this matter was very simple. The entire process was a performance put on by Concubine Pei. When she was locked up, she knew there were only two ways she could get out. One was to wait, wait until everyone’s anger faded. She might be released at that time for the sake of her two children. But she had always lived the good life, and couldn’t endure such suffering. There was only one more possibility: she had to come up with a reason that would force them to release her.
The Weiyuan Marquis Estate didn’t have many heirs. The old madam had always viewed this as an important matter. If she was pregnant, the old madam definitely wouldn’t let the child suffer along with her.
She knew the old madam very well, but she wasn’t pregnant. Thus, she could only fake a pregnancy.
Being released was only the initial success. She had to consider how to maintain this lie.
The reason she targeted Shen Yi Yao was to negate her previous crime. Ultimately, the reason she was locked up wasn’t because she embezzled, but because she stole the principal mother’s things.
She took Shen Yi Yao’s things, and if Shen Yi Yao caused her to miscarry, the two things would cancel each other out. In the future, no one could bring up the matter anymore. Furthermore, Shen Yi Yao would feel she owed her for the rest of her life. This would be the best result.
This was Concubine Pei’s plan, but she was helpless that things had changed too quickly. Her only miscalculation was the fickleness of people’s hearts. She misread the old madam and Yan Ting’s thoughts. Also, since she had done everything secretly, she believed no one would find out. Unexpectedly, she was discovered, and they had beaten her at her own game.
As for the helpers, one of them was Yan Qian. She was responsible for passing on messages. Another was Doctor Chang.
The reason he helped Concubine Pei was because she had blackmail on him.
This old man was old but his heart wasn’t old. He had his eyes on one of the old madam’s personal maids Liu Su. But Liu Su was a reputable maid by the old madam’s side. How could she be given to an almost fifty year old man as a concubine? Concubine Pei saw the clues and did him a favor. She used the old madam’s trust in her and her status as household manager to match Liu Su with someone.
She had told the old madam Liu Su was matched with the mayor of a village, but she was secretly given to Doctor Chang.
Since Concubine Pei had this dirt on Doctor Chang, he naturally had to obey her.
Of course it wasn’t just this. Doctor Chang was responsible for adjusting the old madam’s health and treating her chest pains. One of the most important medicines was the “heart nourishing pill”.
This pill was made by Doctor Chang himself using a secret recipe. For the sake of her health, the old madam gave Doctor Chang whatever medical ingredients he asked for. As the household manager, Concubine Pei had conspired with him to embezzle quite a large sum of money.
“What a great Pei Yu Jin. You weren’t favored by the principal mother back home since birth. I took pity on you and basically raised you myself. What you ate, drank and used all came from me, but you still embezzled my medicine money. Is this how you repay me!?”
A teacup came flying over. Not only did it cause Concubine Pei forehead to bleed, it also drenched her with tea.
Concubine Pei sat crying on the floor. “It’s all your niece’s fault for being greedy…..”
Shen Yi Yao felt both sorrow and happiness. It was hard to describe her emotions.
A voice sounded from outside. “Third miss, what about this old fellow? He had fainted after he was pinched twice. Do we wake him up?”
Concubine Pei glared at Yan Yan in disbelief, and spat out a mouthful of blood.
“All’s fair in war.”
“Boss, what do you think of my performance?” That fierce-looking man put on a flattering appearance.
The leader of the guards gave him a glance, “Passable.”
Looking too fierce was also a resource. It didn’t take any effort to scare others. He just needed to grit his teeth and say a few vicious words.
“The third miss’s idea was truly useful. Who knows if those inside were angered to death. I saw her spit blood!” That foolish fellow craned his neck trying to look inside.
The leader rolled his eyes and couldn’t be bothered to respond.
“Ha, our lord duke is an expert strategist. Who would have thought this third miss is so awesome at such a young age….”
The leader really wanted to say: does your mom know how stupid you are?
The old madam and Yan Ting naturally would abandon the carriage to save the general. Therefore, Concubine Pei became a sacrifice. How should we deal with her? She’s certainly done for regardless.
Don’t know if some readers will spit on this author if Shen Yi Yao feels repentant. This author considered for a long time and feels this is better. Overall, she isn’t a bad person. We can let her make things up to Yan Yan several-fold. Of course, the female lead won’t forgive her so easily.
Not sure if people noticed a certain someone’s shadow behind this event, hehe….
The little fatty’s expression is like this ( ^ u ^ ): little Yan Yan, weren’t those words super domineering?1
This was two chapters in one.