Pei Yaran's face darkened. The Imperial Household Department actually came; Old Maidservant Liu must have been the one who informed them. That old maidservant doesn’t know her place.


Su Xi-er relented her hold on the whip, allowing Pei Yaran to finally take a deep breath. The latter didn’t need a mirror to know that the stinging pain on her neck meant that there would be a red mark left there!


"Su Xi-er, this Empress Dowager won't spare you for attacking me!" Pei Yaran snorted and shot a meaningful glance at Old Maidservant Zhao.


Old Maidservant Zhao got the message and swiftly dashed to Su Xi-er, forcing the latter to her knees. She also tightly gripped Su Xi-er’s arm, causing pain to shoot up from the existing wound.


"Summon Eunuch Zhang in and get Old Maidservant Liu to wait outside." Pei Yaran maintained the disposition of an Empress Dowager.


Soon, the doors were opened as Eunuch Zhang made his way in. The imperial guards closed the doors as soon as he had entered.


Under the candlelight, Eunuch Zhang slowly made out the rows of torture instruments. I didn't know that the Compassionate Peace Palace actually had a place to administer torture in secrecy!


"Eunuch Zhang, what brings you to the Compassionate Peace Palace in the middle of the night?" Pei Yaran asked icily from her spot on the stool.


Eunuch Zhang didn't beat about the bush as his gaze landed on the kneeling Su Xi-er. "This old servant is here naturally for Su Xi-er, the palace maid from the Palace Side Quarters. Empress Dowager, Old Maidservant Liu should be the one meting out punishment if she did something wrong. If you are unsatisfied with Su Xi-er, you can order Old Maidservant Liu to punish Su Xi-er. Why do you have to personally administer punishment while violating the national laws and palace rules?"


Pei Yaran slammed her palm against the table. "Eunuch Zhang, I am the Empress Dowager of Beimin, and definitely won’t violate the rules. Su Xi-er had offended her superior by attacking this Empress Dowager, so how can I not punish her personally?"


"May this old servant inquire how Su Xi-er offended her superior? This old servant heard from Old Maidservant Liu that you forcefully took Su Xi-er away, Empress Dowager."


An icy glint appeared in Pei Yaran's eyes. Eunuch Zhang and Old Maidservant Liu are on Su Xi-er's side and disregarding me, the Empress Dowager! Could this all be the orders of Pei Qianhao? Did he order Eunuch Zhang and Old Maidservant Liu to defend Su Xi-er?


If I don’t settle this quickly and cut the Gordian knot, Pei Qianhao himself may arrive!


"Eunuch Zhang, take a good look. This mark on the neck of this Empress Dowager is Su Xi-er's doing." Pei Yaran pointed to her neck.


Eunuch Zhang looked over and saw the red strangle mark on Pei Yaran's fair neck. Why did Su Xi-er lose her cool? How can I resolve this now that the Empress Dowager has bitten us back by making such a claim?


As if answering his question, Su Xi-er answered, "Eunuch Zhang, the Empress Dowager tortured this servant. The mark on her neck was accidentally left behind when this servant was struggling."


A trace of malevolence flickered across Pei Yaran's eyes, and she suddenly stood up. "Su Xi-er, you vile servant with your mouth full of lies! Old Maidservant Zhao, you say, who made the first move!"


Su Xi-er once again interjected before Old Maidservant Zhao could speak. "Someone who waits on the Empress Dowager will definitely be biased. Eunuch Zhang, every word from this servant’s mouth speaks the truth."


Old Maidservant Zhao was at a loss for words. She applied more pressure and pressed Su Xi-er head down, so close that her head was almost touching the ground.


Just as she did so, Su Xi-er’s hand felt a small pebble on the ground. Holding it between her fingers, she flicked it at Old Maidservant Zhao’s chest.


The sudden force made Old Maidservant Zhao grunt as she loosened her grip on Su Xi-er. Taking this chance to climb up from the ground, Su Xi-er could feel the blood dripping from her now profusely bleeding wound that had been torn open again, staining her clothes red.


"Empress Dowager, this matter has to be postponed. This servant will bring Su Xi-er to the Imperial Physician Institute to be treated; we will then return to the Compassionate Peace Palace to await your verdict." Eunuch Zhang was experienced in knowing what one should say in various types of situation, thus he had chosen his words carefully to leave a way out for Su Xi-er without forgetting to give face for the Empress Dowager. 


However, Su Xi-er objected. "Eunuch Zhang, the Empress Dowager will not agree to it. Let's clarify the matter now, lest this servant is wronged."

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Rakumon's Thoughts

Translation: Cosy

TLC: Rakumon

Edit: Lunarlark


Rakumon's Corner: 

How will all this end? ><