Hearing Ding Xiang’s report, the usually steady Auntie Qi was also unable to sit still any longer.
If this was really the case, Madam Hua had fallen victim when she was paying respects at the Changchun Pavilion. What about those who had gone along with her? After all, it wasn’t just Madam Hua paying respects.
Auntie Qi didn’t dare imagine the Jing Consort would be so daring. But the truth had shown that she was indeed this daring, her actions making others shocked and speechless.
In addition to this, the two Madams Yu’s conditions were even worse. Apart from being affected by the incense scheme, they had actually consumed several items containing cold essence long ago and had already become infertile.1
At this point, all the evidence pointed towards the Jing Consort. The source of the two pouches had also been investigated, and although there wasn’t concrete evidence, it still pointed to the Changchun Pavilion.
Although Auntie Qi was responsible for internal affairs, she was still a servant. Since the situation involved the Jing Consort, she couldn’t make the final decision. It could only be reported to the Jing Prince before seeing how to proceed.
In the Hall of Splendor.
After Auntie Qi finished explaining the situation, Eunuch Fu’s face immediately sank. Although the Jing Prince looked no different from his usual self, the tea saucer in his hands had cracked.
The air in the hall seemed to have frozen.
“She was targeting that low-ranked palace maid?”
Auntie Qi was momentarily confused by his words, but she soon understood his meaning.
“Based on the situation it appears so. Senior Concubine Qiao and the rest were also affected. Furthermore, the two madams Yu had consumed the substances long ago and have been permanently harmed. Because it happened too long ago, it’s no longer possible to investigate the cause.”
After a long while, Auntie Qi heard the Jing Prince’s voice from his seat, “Show her the uncovered evidence.”
It was evident who he was referring to.
Only an hour had passed before Auntie Qi returned to report.
The witnesses and evidence were all there, but the Jing Consort’s side refused to own up to it.
Auntie Qi was just a managing auntie, and naturally couldn’t dispute a mistress. Especially since the Jing Consort stubbornly refused to admit to it, and then fainted on the spot. Afterwards, she remained in bed and pretended to be too ill to get up. Auntie Qi clearly knew she was pretending, but as a servant she was helpless and could only report back to the Jing Prince.
“Highness, how do you think we should handle this? The consort, the consort keeps shouting about wanting to see you.”
The Jing Prince sat on his seat, his gaze inexplicable gloomy.
After half a moment of silence, he spoke: “Confine the consort.”
Regarding this outcome, Auntie Qi wasn’t surprised. But the Jing Prince’s following words made her a little surprised.
“Those who were involved, have them all beaten to death. Eunuch Fu, go.”
Eunuch Fu said solemnly: “Yes.”
After leaving the Hall of Splendor, Auntie Qi smiled bitterly and said: “Ai, this consort is really…..”
“Is really what?” Eunuch Fu’s voice was a little high pitched.
His normal voice was a baritone, not at all like the feminine voice of a eunuch. Of course there would be exceptions, like when his mood was extremely bad.
Auntie Qi naturally understood why Eunuch Fu was enraged.
“Although her means were crude, they were undeniably effective. The rear court merely has the four of them, and all were pretty much finished off by her. As I said, foolish people have their own foolish methods. Her methods were definitely cruel enough. Look at the results. Tsk tsk tsk.”
Eunuch Fu’s character was different from his appearance. He could flip out faster than flipping pages in a book. His personality was unpredictable. Sometimes he would be making jokes with the intention of messing around with you. Other times he would be making jokes while feeling restless in his heart and considering killing someone.
Seeing Eunuch Fu’s current appearance, Auntie Qi observed a moment of silence in her heart for the Jing Consort.
Was the Jing Consort really foolish?
But she also had her own confidence.
She was the currently conferred Jing Consort and from the same clan as Empress Xiao. Empress Xiao wouldn’t let someone of her clan become a crippled consort. This was what she based her confidence on.
Especially since she didn’t think the Jing Prince would do anything to her for the sake of a low-ranked concubine.
She had considered what problems may arise from her actions. She firstly didn’t think it would get discovered, and secondly even if it did she wasn’t afraid.
The Jing Prince really didn’t do much to her, but there were too many instances of using a soft knife to kill others in this world.2 He didn’t have to do anything to her directly to punish her.
The heavens seemed to have collapsed in the Changchun Pavilion overnight. The entire residence was filled with the Jing Consort’s mournful crying.
“Let go of them. All of you let go of them….”
Seeing Eunuch Fu ordering people to drag Nana Li, Chun Xiang and the rest out in front of her, the Jing Consort didn’t even bother faking her illness anymore. Without even putting on her shoes, she grabbed onto Nana Li with one hand and refused to let go while swinging at the eunuch responsible for taking her away with the other.
That eunuch merely avoided her hand, his actions firm as a rock.
“This consort wants to see his highness, let me see his highness…..”
Those who weren’t facing death wouldn’t be able to imagine what it was like. The Jing Consort was able to repeatedly use underhanded schemes against others since they were unrelated to her. Only when she saw her own people under these circumstances did she lose her head out of fear.
“Consort, please don’t make things difficult for me. This was ordered by his highness. Us servants can only obey.” Eunuch Fu’s face was wrinkled from smiling. His smile was clear for all to see.
Chun Xiang and the rest were crying hysterically as they lay paralyzed on the floor. The people dragged them out as though they were dragging corpses.
“Eunuch Fu spare me. Consort, save this servant….”
“This servant realizes she was wrong, spare my life….”
Nana Li wasn’t actually that terrified, but her old face was still pale and her legs were weak.
Eunuch Fu turned and scolded, “What are you all delaying for. Hurry and drag them out. We’ll send them on their way early. No matter what, they were serving the consort. Since they put so much effort into doing her bidding, we’ll naturally give them what they were asking for.”
Those palace maids and eunuchs were all experienced. Using both arms and legs, they dragged the crying group outside. Nana Li’s sleeves were still gripped in the consort’s hand. An expressionless eunuch saw Eunuch Fu’s glance and forcibly pulled her hand away.
The Jing Consort fell back and sat on the floor. The scene was chaotic and no one stepped up to support her. She cut quite a sorry figure.
The line of people filed into the courtyard, where the tools of punishment were already prepared.
The punishment benches were neatly arranged in a row, with an appropriate amount of space in between them. Strong eunuchs held the 1.3 zhang long, 1 chi wide and 5 cun thick punishment planks and stood on the side. Those watching from the side couldn’t help but feel limp.
This was Eunuch Fu’s customary method: killing the chicken to warn the monkey.
Chun Xiang and the rest struggled uselessly, and was pressed down upon the benches. The strong servants raised the planks and started beating.
The Jing Consort ran out with her hair scattered and her feet bare, wanting to rush up but was held fast by a few palace maids. Her hands reached out as if they were grasping at something, crying heartbrokenly.
“Let them go. This consort orders you to let them go….”
No one paid attention to her words. Only the thudding sounds of people being beaten rang out in the courtyard, as well as the sound of muffled cries. Eunuch Fu’s voice rang out clearly in the courtyard.
“……subordinates need to have some awareness while performing their jobs. They need to keep in mind things that should be done and things that shouldn’t be. Masters can naturally do whatever they want. Oh, but the aftermath naturally falls upon the servants. Therefore, I’m teaching you all to behave. If the master wants to do something, do your best to convince them otherwise. Otherwise, don’t complain if you die unjustly…..”
Eunuch Fu’s voice was extremely peculiar. Those familiar with him knew that every time he killed the chicken to warn the monkey he would put on this performance. Accompanied by the dull sounds of people being beaten and the fresh blood that was slowly seeping out, the scene was one that would frighten others into having nightmares.
Every time Auntie Qi saw this scene, she wouldn’t be able to resist frowning, but all she did in the end was frown a little.
The tragic scene and Eunuch Fu’s weird speech was the last straw on the camel’s back for the Jing Consort’s nerves and she gradually grew more and more deranged.
“Eunuch Fu you old castrate. Release them. This consort is your mistress, you dare offend me?!”
Eunuch Fu smiled conspicuously as he turned and approached her. He half bent his waist in his customary gesture and his attitude was respectful.
“Consort what you said is correct, this servant is a castrated person and you are this servant’s mistress. However, his highness is also this Eunuch Fu’s master. Since his highness had ordered it, this servant naturally doesn’t dare to disobey. Don’t be overly upset, it’s just a few servants. If they die, they die. Later on the estate will naturally replace them for you, and definitely won’t let you be lacking in manpower.”
His attitude, tone and expression were all proper, but his words all stabbed into the Jing Consort’s heart without exception.
Were all servants the same? Nana Li, Chun Xiang and the others weren’t just trusted aides that came along as her dowry. They had always accompanied her and supported her.
Eunuch Fu either didn’t understand these bonds, or perhaps he understood but was purposefully playing dumb?!
The Jing Consort was already on the verge of collapse. Being angered once again, she directly fell unconscious.
Seeing the Jing Consort pass out, Eunuch Fu continuously tutted with his mouth as he sighed over how pitiful she was in his heart.
The Jing Consort was pitiful, but why had she been so foolish in not realizing his highness’s attitude? It was true that his highness didn’t bring up her past issues and gave her the dignity a consort deserves. However, all that hinged upon her knowing her place.
Know your place. Understood?
“You bunch of shortsighted people, hurry and take the consort inside to rest!”
The few palace maids that lifted the consort were all trembling violently. They worked together to carry her inside.
Eunuch Fu straightened his waist and slowly walked over to stand up high on the steps, looking down at the crowd from above.
“Let me tell you all to watch yourselves. The Changchun Pavilion may be the consort’s residence, but don’t forget that the Jing Prince Estate’s master is his highness. His highness isn’t fond of dirty schemes and shameful trickery, so all you of better behave yourselves. Those who don’t behave shouldn’t blame me for not warning you.”
Eunuch Fu’s actions this time were extremely huge. Not only were the palace maids from the Changchun Pavilion gathered here, he had called over one personal servant from each of the eastern and western pavilions. Eunuch Fu’s reputation was known to everyone within the estate, and he was also out on the Jing Prince’s business. Naturally there wasn’t anyone who wanted to offend him and they had all obediently let their personal servants come.
The one who came from the western pavilion was Ding Xiang. Senior Concubine Qiao had sent Die’er. Madams Yu Jiao and Yu Rong had each sent one of their personal palace maids, and everyone was watching from the side.
Ding Xiang had seen such a scene during her time in the palace before, so despite feeling a little uncomfortable she wasn’t too traumatized. Die’er and the other two weren’t able to handle it. Their faces grew pale as they watched and their legs grew weak as they fell to the floor.
The ones who often carried out the beatings were all very precise, just as Xiao Hua had thought back then. They could make you look heavily hurt on the surface without much internal damage, or look fine on the surface with heavy internal damage. Eunuch Fu asked for them to directly beat the people to death this time.
After the planks fell over twenty times, the people lay there twitching unconsciously. After reaching out to check, they were all indeed no longer breathing.
“General Manager Fu, they are all no longer breathing.”
Eunuch Fu didn’t speak, and gave them a side glance.
The people lowered their heads and trembled a little before continuing their actions. They continued beating until the benches broke apart. The people had long since been mangled and mutilated. The thick pools of blood on the floor were mixed with pieces of what could be organs or minced flesh.
Eunuch Fu nodded his head in satisfaction upon seeing this before waving his hand for them to clean up.
“Look how scared these little lasses are. Is everyone ok?” He came over to Ding Xiang and the others, his expression extremely concerned.
Killing the chicken to warn the monkey. The proverbial monkey wasn’t just the Jing Consort!
The others couldn’t say anything. Ding Xiang could only hang her head and say: “We’re fine.”
“Tsk tsk. In that case, hurry on back. I won’t waste any more of your time.”
They forced themselves to bow and left the Changchun Pavilion with disordered steps, as though there were ghosts chasing behind them.
Eunuch Fu swept his eyes over the surroundings, and his gaze landed on the pools of blood.
“You guys, make sure to clean up the mess on the floor. This is a mistress’s pavilion, we can’t leave a mess. You should all put some effort into it.” He casually pointed at someone and said: “You, keep an eye on them as they clean.”
“Yes.” The person who was pointed out responded with a trembling, sobbing tone.
“Satisfied? Happy? You always enjoy using such frightening methods!” Only after leaving the Changchun Pavilion did Auntie Qi speak.
Eunuch Fu chuckled a couple of times and rubbed his nose, “It’s good to scare them. Reduces the amount of problems that crop up. Otherwise the restless ones would keep coming up with schemes. How tiring would that be for you and me?” With a master that didn’t pay attention, they would have to put in more effort.
Auntie Qi glared at him, but also knew what he said was true.
“Hur hur, his highness never bothered with her, making it hard for us to act. This time she truly sealed her own fate, wiping out all the people around her. Help pick out the new people for the Changchun Pavilion. Since his highness said to confine the consort, then we definitely have to thoroughly restrict her.”
“I naturally understand this reasoning.”
“It’s just unfortunate for Madam Hua. I had thought there would soon be good news, but that idiot ended up throwing a wrench in the works. Did Doctor Hu mention how long it would take before she’s cured?”
“It’s said to be around a year.”
Eunuch Fu didn’t speak, and only furrowed his brows tightly.
Right after Eunuch Fu and Auntie Qi left the Hall of Splendor, Doctor Hu came to seek an audience.
Within the empty hall, there was only the Jing Prince and Doctor Hu.
Doctor Hu stood below and the Jing Prince sat above. The entire hall was silent.
Having interacted quite a bit with the Jing Prince, he had even seen that the Jing Prince was a kind and honest person. But every time he was face to face with him, Doctor Hu would always feel a sort of pressure. The sweat on his brows trickled down by itself. He used his sleeves to wipe his forehead.
“Highness, how should the situation at the western pavilion…..”
“How long for treatment?”
The Jing Prince’s suddenly rang out.
Doctor Hu’s heart tightened and he answered with his head lowered: “If treated with the utmost effort, within half a year is possible.”
Towards the Jing Prince his answer was no longer as vague, and he gave an exact time instead.
Things grew quiet once again.
Doctor Hu grumbled repeatedly, and could only say once again: “Highness, how should the situation at the western pavilion….”
The second half of the sentence still remained unfinished.
“You may leave.”
Doctor Hu’s face was filled with hardship, but he could only take his leave.