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Chapter 115: The Downfall of Wei Family
The maid led Jun Huang through a winding hallway to a garden. Inside the fence was an open area filled with flowers and greenery. Jun Huang didn't know that within the little tea house was a hidden paradise. She marveled at the stunning view.
At the center of the garden was Nan Guyue. She had gained weight because of her pregnancy, but dressed in her fine silk dress, she was still beautiful.
Hearing Jun Huang approach, Nan Guyue turned around and gestured for the maid to leave. Once they were alone, she took out a piece of green jade and handed it to Jun Huang. "Do you recognize this, gentleman Feng?" she asked with a smile.
Ah. Jun Huang snorted and cupped her hands. "This gentleman has lost the jade a while ago."
Nan Guyue raised an eyebrow at her ready admission. "May I ask the gentleman to explain how you lost the jade?"
Jun Huang looked into her eyes. "It is as the princess has speculated," she said, wrapping her lips carefully around every word.
Nan Guyue's breath hitched. She was right. Wei Lanying had attempted to destroy her image in Qi Chen's eyes. What a cruel woman she was!
Nan Guyue's expression was telling. She must have had an inkling of what happened and decided to talk to me, Jun Huang thought, her eyes flickering. "This gentleman was thinking about discussing the issue with the princess, but I was weighed down by other responsibilities and couldn't find the opportunity to do so. Now that I'm here, I will tell you what I know and what we can do."
"Oh? Does the gentleman have a plan?"
Jun Huang quirked up her lips and quietly said, "You and I both know what Lady Wei was trying to do, but the prince must not hear about this. Even though we are innocent, the prince is a mistrustful man. Moreover, at this critical juncture it is imperative that the prince stay focused. Lady Wei has proven herself to be short-sighted by trying to get rid of us."
Jun Huang continued, "This gentleman has moved out of the manor. I don't have as many opportunities to deal with her. The princess, however, can easily make her suffer."
Nan Guyue frowned in confusion. "What does the gentleman mean?"
Jun Huang made sure no one was around before leaning close to Nan Guyue and whispered into her ears, telling her all the different ways for her to keep Wei Lanying's occupied.
Nan Guyue nodded in approval. Before she left, she handed the jade to Jun Huang. "This belongs to you. The gentleman should take it. I agree with what the gentleman has planned. It will be enough to knock her down a peg."
Jun Huang took the jade respectfully and saw her off. Once Nan Guyue had disappeared from her view, Jun Huang scoffed at the jade in her hand and threw it into the pond without hesitation.
She had lost it once. Keeping it might do her more harm than good. It was better to discard it.
At night, Nan Xun visited when she was watching the koi fish fighting for food in the garden. Without a word, she dropped the rest of the fish feed in a saucer next to her and got to her feet.
Nan Xun poured himself a cup of tea and downed it to clear his throat. "I've done some investigation on Wei Lanying's family."
Jun Huang arched an eyebrow as she sat down next to him. "What did you find?"
"Sir Wei is not clean, and he hasn't taken much care in destroying the evidence. The men I sent to look into him soon returned with plenty useful information."
"Oh?" Jun Huang supported her head with a hand, her interest piqued.
It turned out that Sir Wei had always been corrupted. Once he joined Qi Chen's circle, he became even more daring. He had committed many atrocities under the false pretense that he was following Qi Chen's orders. Masquerading as Qi Chen's representative, he had been exploiting the residents of the county town he oversaw.
Normally, no one would turn their attention to an unimportant county town, but Wei Lanying had plotted against Jun Huang; Nan Xun wanted to punish her for what she had done. He didn't expect his investigation to be this fruitful.
He told Jun Huang all his findings before asking, "What do you want to do with him?"
Jun Huang hummed. Too many scandals had broken out recently. Many officials had been demoted. They could have turned a blind eye to Sir Wei's deeds, but she wasn't going to. Sir Wei could only blame his daughter for being foolish enough to make a move on Jun Huang.
Jun Huang ordered a servant to bring her an ink brush and a sheet of paper. She listed every crime Sir Wei had committed and what evidence there was. Her handwritings popped from the paper, her strokes confident and steady.
Jun Huang dropped the brush when she finished writing and read over what she had written. She nodded in satisfaction. "Everyone in the city is on edge. It's challenging for me to meet with Qi Yun myself. It's different for you. Qi Yun is still working in the Court of Judicial Review now. When you go back, take this to the court and hand it to Qi Yun. Tell him to find a way to push the court into investigating Sir Wei."
Nan Xun nodded. He took the paper and quickly read the list, making sure that nothing was amiss. He folded the sheet of paper in half and tuck it under his robe. "Rest a.s.sured, the Wei family will soon face its downfall. Wei Lanying won't be able to trouble you even if she wants to."
Jun Huang nodded. Her consideration went beyond the issue with Wei Lanying. Sir Wei had been a ninth grade official. If not for the marriage between his daughter and Qi Chen, he would still be running errands in the Imperial Academy. It was due to Qi Chen that he was able to become an official overseeing a county town.
And yet he blatantly disregarded human lives and helped villainous men exploit innocent people. He deserved to be punished.
Nan Xun noticed how pale her face was. It was getting late. He shouldn't overstay his welcome. He stood up to leave.
Jun Huang looked up at him and said, "Don't let anyone know of this. And don't let the Court of Judicial Review know you are involved. Qi Yun will figure out how to tell the court. You should stay out of this matter."
"Don't worry. I know what I'm doing." With that, Nan Xun walked away.
Jun Huang narrowed her eyes in bemus.e.m.e.nt, watching Nan Xun's retreating form.
The accusation against Sir Wei attracted a great deal of attention from the Court of Judicial Review. The officials working in the court answered directly to the emperor. They didn't show Sir Wei any mercy. They presented the emperor with the list of crimes Sir Wei had committed. The emperor put most members of the Wei family to prison.
Qi Chen was drinking wine at the brothel Autumn House when he heard the news. He went straight to the Court of Judicial Review. It was a place, however, where evidence trumped all. Qi Chen was forbidden from visiting Sir Wei because Qi Chen was his son-in-law.
When Qi Chen returned to his manor, Wei Lanying was sobbing. She ran up to him and dropped down to her knees. "I beg you to help my father, Your Highness! He must have been falsely accused! He isn't young anymore. He won't be able to survive in the prison." She broke into another burst of wails.
Qi Chen was already in a foul mood after being turned away by the court. Wei Lanying wasn't doing herself any favor by sobbing and begging. He shot her a glare and walked past her into the main hall. He ordered a servant to bring him a cup of tea to calm himself down.
"Is Your Highness going to leave him to rot?" Wei Lanying questioned with bloodshot eyes. "Does Your Highness remember how my father has supported you when no one expected you to become the crown prince?"
Qi Chen scoffed. "What good does it do for you to beg me for help? Your father has failed to clean up his own mess. Do you expect me to anger Royal Father for him?"
Wei Lanying didn't know what to say. Her sobs grew louder and louder, as if she wanted to be heard by everyone in the manor.
"Please, Your Highness, please save my father." Wei Lanying crawled to Qi Chen's side and looked up at him with teary eyes.
Qi Chen looked down at her. He did pity her to some extent. He sighed and drank some tea. The anger in his heart slowly drained out of his body. He patted Wei Lanying on the head. "Stop crying. I will try to find a way to get your father out."
Wei Lanying nodded, her eyes still filled with tears. She left the room with the help of her maid.
Afterwards, Qi Chen stayed in the room, thinking about what he should do. In the end he decided to send a man to retrieve Jun Huang. Jun Huang came not long after.
Qi Chen's eyebrows were furrowed in deep thoughts. Jun Huang was observant enough to tell that it was about the Wei family. She had been the one pus.h.i.+ng for that to happen after all.
Jun Huang cupped her hands. "What has Your Highness so urgently told me to come for?"
Qi Chen looked up at her and hurriedly asked her to take a seat. He poured her a cup of tea. "Does brother Feng know what has happened to Sir Wei?"
"This gentleman has heard the news," Jun Huang said quietly. She looked up at Qi Chen and affected a surprised tone, "Did your Highness ask me to come for Sir Wei?"
Qi Chen nodded. "Wei Lanying came to beg me for help. She is married to me. I can't let her lose a parent and do nothing. Before I returned to the manor today, I had visited the Court of Judicial Review. Those men did not show me any respect. I have to recuse myself? Ridiculous!"
Jun Huang scoffed. Qi Chen spoke as if there was a n.o.bel reason for him to help Sir Wei, but Jun Huang knew he was simply worried that he would be affected. Sir Wei had used Qi Chen as a cover for what he had done. His death would have a negative impact on Qi Chen.
"What does Your Highness plan to do?" Jun Huang suppressed her disdain and asked calmly.