After a short while, all the people saw the curtains being lifted up again, taking the lead was a middle aged man in his forties, presumably he was Chu Fei Yang’s father, Chu Pei.
He was wearing the clothes of a government official. The look between his brows was similar to Chu Wang, but his gaze was less gentle, a bit more solemn. He had somewhat of a rigorous and vicious air surrounding him. Something he probably acquired from being an official in a remote place for so many years.
However, now that he met his own father, Chu Pei was still wearing a face as if doing his official business according to the official principles. Yun Qian Meng was actually puzzled by that, and was feeling that there might have also been some misunderstanding between the two of them. If not, Chu Wang would not look at his own son coldly, and Chu Pei would not come in bearing the imposing manner of the bureaucracy.
Chu Fei Yang was following behind Chu Pei and also entered. The official clothes of the first-rank prime minister made him look even more good-looking. Therefore upon entering the side hall he was like a glistening bright pearl, which had brighten up all the corners of the side hall. Madame Xie and the others who had never met him before were all startled and appeared as if they refused to believe that Chu Fei Yang had already grown as an upright and tall man.
“Your son is here to meet you, Father!” After all, with Chu Wang’s seniority and status, even someone who was as cold as Chu Pei, seeing his father whom he have not met for few decades, would also have to kneel down on the soft cushion that has already been prepared. Facing Chu Wang he respectfully kowtowed three times, afterwhich he stood up.
“Please sit!” Even though emotions surged up in his heart because of seeing his son, Chu Wang’s words remained very few. He just spoke indifferently, which allowed for his son to sit in a corner. Chu Wang then reminded Chu Fei Yang “Fei Yang, Meng’er, why don’t you pay respects to your father!”
Having heard what was said, Yun Qian Meng and Chu Fei Yang went forward. The servant girls efficiently put two soft cushions on the ground and the two of them simultaneously knelt down “Warm regards, Father!”
“Rise!” What they received, was still Chu Pei’s cold voice.
But Chu Fei Yang and Yun Qian Meng paid no attention to it, after standing up, both of them were back in their seats on the opposite side.
“Fei Yang, this is your didi Qing Yang and meimei Jie’er!” Despise everything they were Chu Fei Yang closely related family, therefore Chu Nan Shan started to introduce them to each other. “This is your Er Niang!” However his voice had obviously lowered down a bit with the mention of Madame Xie.
Yun Qian Meng slightly shifted her gaze and discovered that Chu Fei Yang’s facial expression was still as normal as before. The corner of his mouth curved up and were still perfectly invulnerable, however that pair of dark eyes that were flickering with light had a faintly exposed coldness.
“Qing Yang is here to meet Gege!” “Jie’er is here to meet Gege!”
Having received Chu Nan Shan’s introduction, the two of them quickly stood up, bowed down with their hands held in front facing Chu Fei Yang.
“There’s no need to be too courteous, brother and sister, please have your seats!” Those deep eyes swept through Chu Qing Yang and Chu Jie’s face, Chu Fei Yang smiled as he responded, afterwhich lifting up the teacup beside him he moistened his throat. But during this time Yun Qian Meng was watching him with full concentration. He responded at her with a warm smile, telling her that he was alright.
Chu Nan Shan looked at his son calmly, then spoke “You all must be tired during your journey, just follow the servant girls out to take some rest! When dinner time comes, I shall instruct people to inform you all”
Madame Xie and the others had been sitting there for half day, furthermore they had been travelling for several days, so they were indeed very tired. One after another they stood up, following the servant girls of Chu Wang Fu as they walked out of the side hall.
“Grandpa, I’ll go to the kitchen to see what I can do to help. I will be back after a while!” Seeing Chu Wang seemed to have something to say to Chu Fei Yang, Yun Qian Meng discreetly stood up, leading Mu Chun and the others as they stepped out of the side hall.
“What are you planning to do next? I think they will be staying in the capital for a long time!” Sighing, Chu Nan Shan who was usually confident and at ease also look worried this time. Seeing the relationship between he and his son, and the relationship between his son and his grandson, made him feel an endless headache.
But Chu Fei Yang just simply smiled, having a bit of negligence and lack of regard, as he slowly spoke “How long they ought to stay, will be determined by His Majesty! Besides, they were quite busy with the official business in Youzhou, how could he afford to ignore the major affairs of the country and enjoy the pleasures of city life?”
When entering the palace today, Chu Fei Yang had guessed that he would definitely meet his own father. But during the time when they met face to face, there were not much emotions in the bottom of his heart, or maybe because they have been separated for a very long time indeed, making him to treat the word ‘father’ as a kind of appellation, and never associated it with the relationship by blood.
“Grandpa, if there are no other concerns, then I shall go and accompany Meng’er!” Being a little bit gloomy in his heart, Chu Fei Yang stood up, ignoring the facial expression of Chu Wang that intended to let him stay. Without consulting anyone, he walked out of the side room.
“Jiao Da, did benwang do something wrong back then?” Watching the curtain of the door slowly hang down and swayed, Chu Nan Shan spoke in a low voice.
And Jiao Da just faithfully guarded by his side, not make any further remarks concerning the affairs of his master.
Yun Qian Meng said she was going to the kitchen, but she was actually craving the fresh air outside. She brought a few yatou with her and took a walk inside the garden of Wang Fu. Consecutive days of snow made the entire capital covered in thick layer of cotton, so oddly pure and white, so beautiful that it got absorbed in the heart and soul. The garden of Chu Wang Fu flourished in all four seasons of the year. Flashes of verdant green under the brilliant white snow was a scene more beautiful than could be imagined.
“Xiaojie, you actually gave out those nice things. It was really quite unnecessary!” Mu Chun remembered the things that Yun Qian Meng had given Chu Jie and Chu Qing Yang. They were two pieces of gold qilin which were part of the Madame’s dowries during the time when she was still living, which was why she felt somewhat dissatisfied.
After all, even though golden qilins were the common accessories worn by young ladies of the rich and noble families, the two qilins that the Madame possessed were actually the ones that were personally granted by the Emperor of Xi Jing, the value of those, were more expensive than the jade bracelet given by Madame Xie.
Hearing Mu Chun grumbling quietly, Yun Qian Meng simply smiled. She slowly lifted up a bare hand and caressed an ice beam that was suspended on the ledge of the corridor, then she spoke in a lowered voice “Those were mere worldly possessions. Using those worldly possession to block the people’s mouths, was quite effective in handling things. Don’t complain anymore, okay? If you are really reluctant, I will instruct the artisan to make a bigger and better one for you. I’ll let you wear it when you get married, alright?”
When Yun Qian Meng finished speaking, she saw Ying Xia and the other two staring at Mu Chun mischievously, after which they covered their mouths then secretly laughed.
“Really! Xiaojie, nubi won’t mention it anymore!” Seeing Yun Qian Meng teasing her, Mu Chun immediately stamped her feet on the spot, pouting her lips. Her simple and honest expression looked quite adorable.
‘Pak!’ Yun Qian Meng broke off a part of the ice beam and gestured with it beside Mu Chun’s mouth, her eyes concealed a smiling expression, her face solemn as she said “Let me see, using your small mouth to hang the ice beam is quite suitable!”
While speaking, Yun Qian Meng played the dirty tricks by touching the ice beam on Mu Chun warm cheeks. It was so cold that it made Mu Chun suddenly shiver. She hid behind Yuan Dong while covering her face, not paying attention to Yun Qian Meng.
Being in a cheerful mode, Yun Qian Meng weighed the ice beam in her hand, then suddenly treated the ice beam like a dart. Her gaze was focused on another ice beam in the corridor of the pavilion in a distant place, slightly exerting strength on her wrist, instantly threw out the ice beam from her hand…...
With a loud ‘thump’, the sound of the two sticks of ice beams colliding with each other echoed within the quiet garden. A few servant girls looked at each other in dismay, in their hearts they couldn’t help but wondered, when did their young lady master learned such good techniques? And Yuan Dong who had martial skills was shocked by Yun Qian Meng’s pretty trick earlier.
‘Pak pak pak’ A burst of applause came through from a far place as it came near, all the people turned around to look, then they found Chu Fei Yang came over wearing a smile on his face.
“Who would have thought that Meng’er actually possessed such great talent!” Seeing her reddened fingertips, Chu Fei Yang naturally held them, tightly covered them inside his huge hands, using the heat inside his palm to warm her up.
“But it is not snowing right now, but the temperature outside is quite low, you’ve so far as to neglect your own health. You really should be punished!” But the words that followed, were somewhat strict.
Yun Qian Meng carefully observed Chu Fei Yang’s expression. Seeing it the same as his usual way, she slightly felt relieved, then she remarked “My husband, didn’t you also sneak out without wearing any cloak? Why will you only punish me alone? Humph!”
Wrinkling the small and exquisite tip of her nose, Yun Qian Meng turned her face out feeling unconvinced, refusing to look at Chu Fei Yang.
“You are truly unwilling to lose! Even if you are to be punished, you still have to include your husband!” Seeing her childish manner, Chu Fei Yang’s eyes appeared to be favoring her, with one hand he slowly turned Yun Qian Meng’s small face around, laughing as he made fun of her.
“Big brother and sister-in-law, you two are deeply in love like lovebirds!” This time, in the other corner of the corridor, Chu Jie and Xie Wan Wan, Xie Yuan Yuan sisters, who ought to be taking their rests right now, slowly approached.
“Wan Wan, Yuan Yuan are pleased to see our cousin!” Earlier in the side hall, the two of them weren’t able to step forward and show their courtesy, at this time meeting Chu Fei Yang, they would naturally make their salutations.
Watching the two of them taking step by step towards Chu Fei Yang, striking graceful postures as they bowed down, Yun Qian Meng noticed the four servant girls behind her simultaneously shown hostility in their eyes.
This made Yun Qian Meng feel ridiculous, apparently for her, it seemed that the two sisters of Madame Xie family appeared not to have any intention of playing up with the people of power and influence. The servant girls behind her had shown hostility towards them, those who didn’t know anything about them might thought that she was the one who incited them to do so.
Her gaze coldly swept through the four servant girls, warning them to slightly restrain themselves, then Yun Qian Meng focused her attention once again to the three persons in front of her.
“Stand up then!” Unlike his behavior in front of Yun Qian Meng, which was tender and soft as water, this time Chu Fei Yang regained his usual strictness similar to his behavior inside the imperial court. His eyes indifferently swept through the few people before him, his tone of voice was negligent and cold.
Seeing Chu Jie had already worn the gold qilin necklace, which was given to her earlier, Yun Qian Meng smiled and said “This golden qilin really looks good on you, I hope younger sister will like it.”
Hearing Yun Qian Meng getting into a conversation with her, Chu Jie laughed, somewhat wild with joy, her lily-white hands gently stroke the golden qilin in her chest, then she sweetly remarked “Mother said sister-in-law’s gift is truly precious, she wanted me to keep it well. I thought that this golden qilin is finely crafted, I’m very delighted with it, then I quickly put it on, still I hope sister-in-law wouldn’t laugh at Jie’er.”
While speaking, Chu Jie was somewhat blushing with shame, as if she wasn’t used to being praised by other people.
“How will I laugh at you? As long as you like it, then I will feel at ease.” Seeing her behaving like that, Yun Qian Meng smiled as she spoke.
“Ah-choo……” Yet unexpectedly, earlier it was quite warm in the side hall, soon after when she went out she forgot to put on her cloak, Yun Qian Meng unintentionally sneezed, immediately caused Chu Fei Yang to stare angrily at her. His voice immediately resounded beside her ears “You all must head back to your rooms to take some rest!”
After speaking, he pulled Yun Qian Meng with him as they quickly headed towards the courtyard.
“Cousin-in-law is really blessed for being able to marry a husband that cared about her” This time, Xie Wan Wang suddenly lifted up her head watching the two figures leaving, then she spoke indifferently.
“Cousin, do you really want to get married then? Since you also longed for a great husband like that!” Chu Jie leaned closer to Xie Wan Wan, smiling as she stared closely at Xie Wan Wan’s expression, beaming as she asked.
“Jie’er, don’t make fun of us!” Slightly sighing, Xie Yuan Yuan regained her own sight, watching Chu Jie who was laughing to her heart’s content, as she remarked feeling a bit sad.
At this moment inside the prison of Ministry of Justice, Qu Zhang Qing is now the head of the Ministry of Justice.
Qu Zhang Qing’s age was not that old, and because he didn’t possess any vicious characteristics like Su Yuan which had been accumulated over the years. But being the person who had been fighting hand-to-hand in the battlefields, people would not dare to underestimate this young official who had just been promoted as the head of the Ministry of Justice.
Ever since Qu Zhang Qing took over the Ministry of Justice, he didn’t immediately commit Su Yuan for a trial, but instead he had endured his patience familiarizing himself all the series of procedures of handling prisoners in the ministry. After that he started to handle all the cases that had been accumulated in the Ministry of Justice throughout the years.
And the first case that he will be handling, was actually the case involving Su Yuan’s bribery and maltreatment of prisoners.
“Su Yuan, with the witnesses and evidences being confirmed, do you have anything more to say?” Qu Zhang Qing spoke with a cold expression and stern voice, as he looked at Su Yuan who kneeling down before him, wearing the clothes of prisoner, his face thin and pallid, with messy hair yet still in his baleful look.
“Young boy, are you qualified enough to interrogate me? Do you really think you are truly the head of the Ministry of Justice? Don’t you forget, I still have His Highness Chen Wang to back me up! He will not allow you to touch me!” After delaying for so many days before interrogating him, allowed Su Yuan to think that all these were because of the reason that Qu Zhang Qing wouldn’t dare to offend Chen Wang. As a result he became increasingly arrogant, completely forgot that the one who had turned into a prisoner was himself!
“Since you refused to admit your crimes, then you shouldn’t blame me now! Come, begin the punishment!” Su Yuan’s crimes were already proven guilty, but now he still behaved ostentatiously bossy, denying all his crimes, making Qu Zhang Qing, who had been interrogating him for three days, to lost his patience. Today he directly commanded the bailiff to punish Su Yuan.
“Governor, you must take it slow, this Governor Su was an important official of the imperial court after all, you must cover up……” This time, the assistant minister who was sitting in the lower seat started to plead for leniency.
Yet it had unexpectedly caused Qu Zhang Qing to glance coldly at him “Su Yuan had been personally dismissed from his position by His Majesty in the royal court! Now he is just a commoner, assistant minister, you must keep this in mind! And as for all the things that had happened all these years inside the Ministry of Justice, as the capable assistant minister of Su Yuan, surely you have handled a lot of things. Once Su Yuan’s crimes are confirmed, benguan shall settle all the accounts with you, assistant minister! Come, start the beating with wooden staves!”
While speaking, Qu Zhang Qing abruptly raised his voice, containing enough internal strength as he shouted loudly causing the entire lobby of the Ministry of Justice to slightly vibrate. Having obtained the threat, the assistant minister did not have further inclination to beg for mercy on behalf of Su Yuan. He got paralyzed on his seat with a deathly pale face, his thoughts in a whirl, yet he was also extremely scared while he surmised what Qu Zhang Qing will to do him next.
“Qu Zhang Qing, don’t you dare! I am one of Chen Wang’s people, you’ve actually dared to torture me, do you people from Fu Guo Gong Fu don’t want to live your lives anymore?” Watching a few bailiffs obeyed the order of Qu Zhang Qing as they stepped forward and restrained him down on the stool, hot anger rush forth in Su Yuan’s heart, using his throat he started to rain curses on Qu Zhang Qing.
But no matter how hard he cursed, Qu Zhang Qing still remained expressionless and, with cold tone of voice he issued an order ‘beat him up!’, Su Yuan felt the bailiffs removed his pants, soon after the heavy and wide wooden planks of Ministry of Justice landed on his back and buttocks.
With a series of punishments, after its evolution throughout these years, it had already transformed into something that will make a person to be in so much pain wishing he could just die, yet it would not permit a person to just die like that.
Judging by the physical surface of the wood planks, one might thought that it was similar to those which were used by the rich families to punish their servants, but the science behind these planks were quite complicated.
Directly looking at them, they seemed to be just some ordinary wood planks, but in one side which directly hits on the flesh, were embedded with numerous tiny silver needles, the beatings one after another with exerted efforts, were like being pricked by those needles, particularly with those extremely sharp pointed tips of the silver needles, which would often pierce into the bones, truly made people prefer to die instead of living.
Su Yuan had wielded his power over the Ministry of Justice for so many years, how could he not know about the complexity of this punishment?
In addition to his way of living like a prince for so many years, only enduring a beating was already making him somehow unable to sustain the pain. But once he thought that the one who was sitting inside the hall right now is Qu Zhang Qing, even if the pain had coursed through his bones, Su Yuan could only clench his teeth tightly, unwilling to beg for Qu Zhang Qing’s mercy, just like the reaction Qu Zhang Qing gave him when he humiliated him in the past.
The sound the wood planks beating on the flesh immediately echoed throughout the entire lobby of the Ministry of Justice. The assistant minister watched as Su Yuan’s face gradually turned red, also looking at Su Yuan whose eyes were starting to roll back. His entire body trembling with fear, he immediately climbed down from his seat and knelt down before Qu Zhang Qing, exerting effort as he made his kowtow and begged for mercy “Governor, please have mercy! Governor, please have mercy, xiagguan only handled matters according to Su Yuan’s order. Based on my official rank, xiagguan couldn’t confront Su Yuan head on! Governor, xiagguan knows everything about Su Yuan, xiagguan can bear witness and testify against Su Yuan, xiagguan beg you to spare my life, Governor!”
“Assistant minister, you bastard, useless scoundrel, you actually dared to betray me……” Hearing the useless assistant minister who had gone so far as to be scared and begged for Qu Zhang Qing’s mercy, Su Yuan who had tried hard biting his teeth suddenly abused roundly “Ah……” But he could only manage to curse this, the wood planks which had landed heavily on him caused him to lift up his head and shout, then he instantly fainted.
“Governor, Su Yuan has fainted!” Seeing the prisoner fainted out, the execution of the punishment became meaningless, that bailiff who was carrying out the punishment stopped and asked Qu Zhang Qing.
“Wake him up with a splash then continue to question him using torture!” And Qu Zhang Qing threw out a piece of white paper towards the direction of the assistant minister, hinting him to write down all the things that he knew in its entirety, while he issued his command to continue torturing Su Yuan.
Receiving the command, the bailiff immediately nodded his head, he carried a bucket of steaming hot water from a corner, allowing no explanation he splashed it on Su Yuan’s back which was already badly mangled…...
“Ah……” Being woken up by the pain, how could Su Yuan forgot that this was the mildest kind of torture he had used on the prisoners, splashing the salted hot water on the wounds of the prisoners, allowing those prisoners who had fainted over to be awake once again.
Yet, unexpectedly, this Qu Zhang Qing had actually harbored such vicious thought. He could only blame himself for not allowing him to die from torture inside the prison cell in the past, giving this bastard a chance to retaliate!
However, But before Su Yuan could start to curse again, the piercingly painful torture came through on his back, brought up with the sound of salt water, when all the people saw the plank left his back, countless watery blood splashed out instantly from fragments of skin which had already separated from his body…...
During this time Su Yuan had lost his strength to shout out the curses, his face was like a white paper, his brows beaded with sweat as he stared firmly at Qu Zhang Qing inside the hall, yet he couldn’t utter any words.
“Governor, governor, beizhi has finished writing!” This time, the assistant had written all the criminal charges against Su Yuan, then currying favor as he held it up in front of Qu Zhang Qing.
Qu Zhang Qing looked at those words that were written in crooked manner, his eyes suddenly turned gloomy, apparently inside the Ministry of Justice, the act of betrayal still existed.
Tolerating his temper as he finished reading all the criminal charges, Qu Zhang Qing suddenly beat the table, frightening the two bailiffs who were executing the punishment to stop their action. Looking puzzled as they looked at the head of Ministry of Justice who was sitting inside the hall.
“Detain Su Yuan inside the prison for the deaths!” Qu Zhang Qing spoke firmly wearing a cold expression.