Chapter 544 - Coincidence

A perfectly fine assassin suddenly disappeared, without a trace of either a corpse or bones, after entering the Supreme Court prisons? 

Qizhen Emperor was a little puzzled over what these words meant. If he’s dead he’s dead! What do you mean ‘without a trace of either a corpse or bones’? 

He took another look at the document in front of him. It was crammed full of words describing the incident in full detail; it noted that the culprit was brought into the Supreme Court while unconscious, and even recorded the date the assassin was imprisoned as well as who else was in the prison. 

After all, this document was painstakingly written by Vice Chancellor Yu ! 

“In reply to Your Majesty, I have questioned the jailer who was guarding that assassin. According to him, it looked like the assassin was incinerated completely by a large fire that left behind neither skin nor bones. However, I understand that the assassin was definitely not poisoned; instead, his body was splashed with a sinister substance from the Jianghu, called corpse vanishing powder. Once this substance touches a body, the whole body would disintegrate into nothing as if it had been burned. However, that assassin did not have anything like that with him before he was locked into the prison. Therefore, this should not be suicide but a deliberate execution.” 

Oh!

Qizhen Emperor narrowed his eyes. “Vice Chancellor Yu, do you mean that someone silenced him to cover up the evidence of the assassination?”

“That’s exactly my conjecture. However, since this concerns the safety of Prince Rong, the implications would be far-reaching. The fact that the assassin died less than a day after being locked into prison is an important clue; if the aim really was to silence him, then I’m afraid that there are very few people who are able to infiltrate the Supreme Court to kill someone. In other words, the number of people able to sneak into the Supreme Court without alerting anyone is minuscule, I dare not investigate my suspicions further in fear of going overboard and inciting unnecessary trouble. Thus, I quickly compiled this document and entered the palace to report it and ask Your Majesty for advice.” 

Vice Chancellor Yu was very smart. He didn’t speak plainly or directly tell Qizhen Emperor his own suspicions and conjectures about the culprit, but instead tossed him a smoking bomb and let the Emperor slowly draw his own conclusions. 

After listening to his speech, Qizhen Emperor started to understand what was going on. 

Someone tried to assassinate Jing Rong! Then someone murdered the assassin after he entered the Supreme Court prisons with the Bone Vanishing Powder, ensuring that not even a corpse or bones could be left behind.

Coincidentally, every petition the Ministry of Personnel has submitted lately were all indicting Jing Rong, and none of them was filtered out by the Office of Transmission. 

These incidents were all unfavourable towards Jing Rong!

First the Crown Prince and now Jing Rong; it seemed like there was someone pulling the strings in the background. The knife sliced forward unceasingly, removing all obstacles in its path. 

Naturally, Qizhen Emperor had a name in mind — how could he not be able to see through the clues? His pair of laser-sharp eyes shone with a cold glint. 

He suddenly changed the topic. “Vice Chancellor Yu, we ask you - are you familiar with Yan Weiyi?” 

Eh? Weren’t we talking about the assassin? Why did he suddenly ask about the long-dead Yan Weiyi?

However, Vice Chancellor Yu was not surprised. Jing Rong had long prepared him for this. He knew that when Vice Chancellor Yu entered the palace to meet the Emperor, he would most likely ask him about Yan Weiyi or the former Crown Prince, and had prepared a script for him to follow. Everything was within his expectations. 

He answered truthfully, “This person was formerly a literary official of the Ministry of Public Works but was removed from office due to embezzlement during his tenure. Afterwards, he kept a low profile and there was very little news about him. His son Yan Xu was part of the Ministry of Justice but was later arrested over keeping private stocks of military equipment. I remember that this incident was also investigated by Prince Rong.”

Qizhen Emperor recalled the incident as he listened, nodding lightly. “Mm, we remember now. Then, we appointed Jing Hua as a special supervisor to oversee his execution at noon.”

Good thing you still remember!

He paused for a moment before asking, “Then, did Yan Weiyi have any contact with Jing Hua?”

“Your subject does not know. However, Your Majesty mentioned that the First Prince was appointed as the supervisory officer for his sentencing — the loss of a child would be deeply traumatising, thus Yan Weiyi and the First Prince most likely did not have any contact.”

It wasn’t strange for him to refer to Jing Hua as the First Prince rather than the Crown Prince. After all, he had been deposed of his status as Crown Prince before he died. 

His words dispelled a question Qizhen Emperor had been worrying over but could do nothing to untangle the complicated knot of thoughts in his heart. His brows furrowed tight for a long while before he commanded, “Vice Chancellor Yu, stop all investigations into this matter and put it aside for now. Not a single thing shall be revealed to the public. If anyone from the Supreme Court does not guard their tongue and leak any information, we will have his head.”

“Your subject receives the decree.” He bowed. 

“Alright, you can go. We will summon you into the palace if there’s anything else.”

“Your subject takes his leave.” 

Vice Chancellor Yu bowed in farewell and sneaked a peek at Qizhen Emperor as he lifted his gaze. He was very calm. Every single contingency had been planned out beforehand by Jing Rong. 

After he left, Qizhen Emperor’s expression quickly darkened and turned foul. He leaned his elbows on the desk and pressed on his temples for a long while without speaking. 

Suddenly, he turned to his side and spoke to Zhang Quan. “Do you still remember that night when Jing Hua first laid siege to the palace and Jing Yi came to rescue us, he said that Yan Weiyi had assassinated Jing Rong on Jing Hua’s orders? Even that bowl of medicine that Jing Hua wanted Us to drink included the Shiban poison [1] that Yan Weiyi cultivated. Thus, he concluded that the two of them were working together.”

Zhang Quan answered, “this servant remembers. Prince Yi presented evidence of the First Prince and Yan Weiyi colluding in a very logical manner.”

“But...there’s something not quite right.” Qizhen Emperor shook his head thoughtfully, expression grave. “We ordered Yan Weiyi’s son to be put to death and Jing Hua was the supervisory officer — how could they have private connections? Moreover, We know Jing Hua’s character the best - how would he have the guts to lay siege to the palace and commit regicide? He must have been influenced by someone. Afterwards, that Advisor Pan by his side remained safe and sound but instead fell off a cliff and died after leaving the capital. It’s almost as if... everyone connected to Jing Hua’s siege of the palace has died. Now, the assassin was killed in the Supreme Court prison and even the Ministry of Personnel has been sending petitions indicting Jing Rong. How could this be a coincidence?!”

Zhang Quan understood what he meant. He bent down and leaned forward. “So when Your Majesty had Vice Chancellor Yu stop investigating this matter was out of worry…” 

He didn’t continue speaking.

……

Qizhen Emperor’s fiery gaze landed unwaveringly on the petitions in front of him and tapped his finger on the desk. “This incident cannot be made public. It could not only be linked to Jing Hua’s siege of the palace, but also the Six Departments… and the Treasury. Thus, first investigate the Ministry of Personnel and the Office of Transmission.”

“Yes, your servant understands.”

“You can leave now. We would like to rest.” 

“Then your servant will first get the Imperial Kitchen to prepare some ginseng soup; Your Majesty must take care of your body.”

“Eh?”

[1] Reminder: This is part of the main plot all the way from the start of the novel, ch. 36

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ChouFleur's Thoughts

Ok so we're finally moving the main plot along a little more after all these side-plot arcs... Jing Yi is going down slowly but surely!
Translator: Choufleur, Editor: Aru