[Cry of the Midnight Jackdaw] Chapter 61

Chapter Sixty-one,

Liu Fang Rui could not sit still this entire day. Originally, this day happened to be the day that the palace’s consorts and ladies come in for greetings- she was holding concerns inside, and did not have the heart to deal with these sweet-mouthed sword-bellied cow-headed devils and serpent gods, and so had Lan Yi excuse it by saying she was feeling unwell, and blocked them back.

Lan Yi persuaded using every possible way with the single-tracked Consort Jiang outside, saying constantly there was no need for visits, it was only a small matter, but that Consort Jiang instead muttered about not willing to leave, saying that another day, she would send some lingzhi and deer horn to help restore the body, how her Majesty is the master of the back palace, one must pay attention to the phoenix body or some sorts of phrases. Lan Yi was truthfully a bit annoyed from listening to all this, but due to her status, she was unable to abandon her post, and after going back and forth with Consort Jiang at the door, she finally sent her away, Lan Yi then tiredly went back to look for Empress Liu.

Lan Yi did not see Empress Liu in the hall, and when she asked a servant girl waiting by the door, she then came to know that Empress Liu went to the back garden. That year when Liu Fang Rui’s graces were at its peak, He Heng, to make her happy, especially dug a pool with cloud shadows going to and fro in Han Yuan Palace’s back garden, planted with straight lotuses, and with every summer, the winds would bring in the lotuses’ scent, especially calming.

Liu Fang Rui held a bag of fish food, and was strolling around the lake underneath the shade from time to time. The few fishes raised in the lake were drawn in by the food, and all squeezed together to the side, fighting for food, with the splashes emitting white foam.

“Have a look, sometimes, I(bg) feel that people are just like fish, to live on, they would have to fight, and fight to the death.” Lan Yi paused, made a bare smiled, and consoled, “Why must my Lady belittle oneself, my Lady is now the mother of a country, how could [you] be the same as others.”

Liu Fang Rui shook her head, “Those who sit high cannot bear the cold[1], ever since being in a high position, I(bg) haven’t had a day of good dreams or sleep. From how others look on, it may be all flowers and brocades, but in reality, it’s already long formed into spiderwebs.”

“My Lady……”

Liu Fang Rui shook her hand, dumping the remaining fish food into the pool, then she waved her hand, saying, “I(bg) am a bit fatigued, have the consorts been sent away?”

“All persuaded away.” Lan Yi hesitated for a while, and just when she was about to open her mouth, she saw a small servant girl outside hurriedly run inside, with her expression all nervous, “My Lady, Sun gong’gong is outside……”

“Sun gong’gong?” The ominous premonition that hovered in Liu Fang Rui’s heart seemed to have been confirmed, but once matters came to, she instead seemed like she sighed a breath of relief. Liu Fang Rui calmly nodded her head, and lifted up her chin without a bit of shock, “I(bg) will be there.”

Once Sun De Lu saw Liu Fang Rui come out, he took two steps forward, and said, “His Majesty has brought summons, my Lady, please follow this old servant.”

“Thank you Sun gong’gong then.”

“My Lady is jesting with this old servant.” Sun De Lu was of an unmoved look. He slightly turned his body, then neither hurriedly nor slowly led the way at the front. Liu Fang Rui wanted to get chat with him a few times on the way, yet was all blocked back by him with calm and ease, after Liu Fang Rui met with a few nails, she finally no longer made a sound, and silently followed at the back.

He Xuan self-directed and performed this play, and naturally was going to attentively finish singing the last part. Right in the early morning, he already sent people to watch over the inn that Old Lady Meng was staying at, so naturally, the so-called murderer would be within arm’s reach. He pretended to question for a while in the jail, then that killer logically confessed under torture, and gave the employer’s looks and possession. He Xuan couldn’t be so bold as to make the judgment, so brought He Heng over- according to the playbook, next up, he needed He Heng to make the orders to search for any keepsakes and draw the employer according to the testimony, since a search was needed, He Xuan did not think to hide it from Liu Fang Rui, thus, seeing He Heng call her here, He Xuan even had the leisure to observe the darkness underneath the eyes that could not even be covered with a few layers of powder on Liu Fang Rui.

Once He Heng saw Liu Fang Rui come, he repeated the words He Xuan told him, then, without any air of denouncing crimes, he asked, “Empress, from how you see, is there a need to search the entire city?”

Liu Fang Rui originally made preparations to be given the cold eye by He Heng the entire way, the excuses for the crime and explanation were long already drafted many times- at this moment, she could affectionately sob, and it would definitely make He Heng have no way of being ruthless. Who knew even though she had already prepared a face that was clearly anxious due to the few days of nervousness, it all turned into a punch in cotton, unable to be of use, truthfully making her dejected for an instant, then squeezed out a smile and said, “Of course to have the matters made clear.”

“Alright, I(z) am also of the same.” He Heng nodded his head, “Then send the orders down.”

After finishing, He Heng patted the soft chair on the right hand side, signalling to Liu Fang Rui, “Empress, sit here.” Liu Fang Rui slightly vacantly responded, fixed her dress, then sat down. He Xuan sat to the left of He Heng, so he was not far from Liu Fang Rui, the two were separately on the left and right, faintly forming a kind of equilibrium, while the air condensed with a taut feeling of swords and bows being drawn.

He Xuan pursed his lips, he glanced at Liu Fang Rui, but did not open his mouth, and only leaned on the back of the chair, and leisurely swept by the delicate antiques on the cabinet in front of him.

In the end, it was Liu Fang Rui who could not hold it in first, she slightly coughed, then said, “It’s been a few days since [I] saw the crown prince, you’ve slimmed down quite a bit.”

“Diligence over documents strains the body, thank you for the concern, Empress.”

Liu Fang Rui got choked by him for a bit, then couldn’t bother maintaining the concern on the surface, and turned her head to He Heng, “Your Majesty, have [you] slept well these two days? It’s gotten cold lately, you must pay attention more to your dragon body, lest there be headaches.”

I(z) know.” He Heng blocked it back with ease, with no intention of following the conversation, Liu Fang Rui originally wanted to massage his shoulders for him by way, but with this, she could only let it go, and closed her mouth resentfully.

He Xuan watched the emperor and empress like he was an outsider of it all, and felt it was funny inside. In the past when He Heng favoured Liu Fang Rui, he was so anxious they couldn’t stick together the entire day, practically holding the person up to his heart, but now once that passion passed, he didn’t even call her Xin Tong, and straightly called her Empress, with an indescribable strangeness to it.

The three sat by themselves in this odd atmosphere, each thinking to some things.

“Your Majesty, the person has been found.” The guard commander Lan Hua who sent for the search interrupted the room of scheming people’s thoughts, he bowed and cupped his hands, with his voice like a bell.

He Heng signalled he continue on, and Lan Hua said, “According to the testimonial drawing, this lowly one found a steward in Minister Liu, Lord Liu’s residence in the capital outskirts. Through the convict’s admittance, is the person who used money to bought his services, this lowly one even found a keepsake in the residence.”

“Has the person and keepsake been brought here?”

“Your Majesty, the keepsake has been brought, the person is waiting at the entrance of the palace.”

“Summon them in, and have Liu Guang Yi brought here too.”

This Lan Hua had a rare chance to be able to perform in front of He Heng, thus, he was particularly quick, and he brought that steward in not a while later. This steward was naturally bought out by He Xuan, thus, He Xuan couldn’t find any interest in this, and only symbolically lifted his eyelids up and swept a gaze, then moved his eyes away, and only paid some attention to listen to that person speak.

Where had that steward seen this kind of imposition, he immediately got so scared he knelt on the ground, and hurriedly admitted his wrongs, “Your Majesty, it was Lord Liu who ordered this common one to do it, this common one does not dare to disobey, your Majesty……”

Over and over again, that was all he said, He Heng waved his hand, and impatiently signalled he close his mouth, and urged Lan Hua, “Has Liu Guang Yi not arrived yet?”

“Lord Liu is waiting at the door.”

“Call him in.”

Liu Guang Yi long got the news, that residence was a place where he previously kept an affair on the outside. His legal wife was the daughter of a military general, of a hasty nature and one of her word, on that day of their wedding when she still was still wearing the red veil, she had Liu Guang Yi swear to not bring in another wife. In other people’s eyes, Liu Guang Yi was typically abstinent and upright, and one half was due to this legal wife of his. However, in reality, Liu Guang Yi more so respected and felt responsible for this legal wife, but couldn’t see the romance between them. He still liked weak and frail gentle women much more, knitting their willowy brows lowering their heads while dropping tears, not one who would hold up a red-tasselled spear and wage a fight with him on the battlefield.

A few years ago, he was moved by a woman who came to Shang An’jing to seek shelter with her uncle in one glance, and especially bought a residence to let her live in. Normally, no matter how busy he was, he would find time to go to the residence to have a private encounter with her, but later on, the woman had a bad pregnancy and couldn’t be saved, this residence then became a place of hurt for him, and was, with intent or not, forgotten- if it wasn’t mentioned this time, he practically would not recall that there was this residence in the outskirts.

Liu Guang Yi sighed, then lifted his legs up and entered the hall.

Once the steward kneeling in the hall saw him come in, he moved to his side with snot and tears, and pulled on the hem of his clothes and started crying loudly, “My Lord, my Lord, you must save this small one! Even without merit, this small one has put in the effort, and still has an old mother of eighty years at home, my Lord, you mustn’t just watch me die!”

Liu Guang Yi hung his eyes down, he faintly remembered that year, to take care of the affair, he certainly hired a steward, but too much time had passed, he couldn’t remember clearly.

He did not pay attention to the steward either, and directly knelt down, then said, “This subject greets your Majesty.”

He Heng nodded his head, he reached out and pointed to the steward, and asked him, “Do you recognize this person?”

Liu Guang Yi went silent for an instant, then said, “Yes. He is a steward at this subject’s other residence.”

“Then you wouldn’t have been wronged, the death of that Old Lady Meng, it will be hard for you to avoid the blame.”

Now that both person and evidence were present, even if Liu Guang Yi were to explain, it would only make him seem more and more guilty, he lifted his head up to glance at Liu Fang Rui, then said with a low voice, “This matter has been the sole idea of this subject, it has no relation to her Majesty the Empress.”

He Heng seemed to predict he would say this, his face had no surprise to it at all, and he waved his hand, “I(z) will be the one to determine that.”


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