Chapter 201: Affair
“What does brother Feng think?” Qi Chen asked.
Jun Huang gave it a moment before saying, “This gentleman thinks that the letters are likely to be given to you on purpose.”
“What do you mean? Are these fake?”
“Not necessary,” Jun Huang said with a smile. “But I think that these are not all of the letters. Lady Wei doesn’t seem worried that you would see the letters. Actually, it seems that she wants you to see them. The first few letters show you her genuine love for you, and her feelings justify what she did next. Isn’t that how Your Highness think?”
Qi Chen nodded hesitantly and sighed. “When I first read the letters, I felt like it was me who forced her to take such extreme action. If I had paid more attention to her, she would not have tried to drug me.”
“Your Highness is mistaken,” Jun Huang said.
Qi Chen looked up at her, waiting for her to continue. Jun Huang read through the letters again. There was something odd about them. She pointed it out to Qi Chen. “Has Your Highness noticed the change in frequency of the letter exchange? At first, Lady Wei exchanged three letters with her parents per month on average. Last month, there was a sudden spike. There was a letter almost every day. Then, suddenly, there was a period of time when no letters were exchanged. Why is that?”
“What is brother Feng implying?”
“This gentleman believes that they have exchanged letters on those days as well, but they were planning something they didn’t want Your Highness to know about. That was why the letters are missing. Of course, that’s merely my speculation. I don’t have any evidence yet.”
The maid who had left earlier came back with a pot of ginger tea. She poured Jun Huang a cup. The intense smell made Jun Huang scrunch her nose. She knew she didn’t have a choice here. She took a deep breath and picked up the teacup. As soon as she took a whiff, though, it sent her into a coughing fit. Qi Chen startled and came up to steady her breathing.
It took a while for Jun Huang to recover. Her eyes were misty and her cheeks were red. Some of the ginger tea had been spilled, but not much. Even though her robe was stained, it wasn’t obvious.
“What’s wrong?” Qi Chen frowned. He was momentarily drawn by Jun Huang’s appearance. He shook his thoughts away and cursed at himself. He turned to Jun Huang with a concerned expression.
Jun Huang took a deep breath and waved a hand dismissively. “Nothing. The smell is a little strong. That’s all. I’ll be fine. There’s no need to worry.” She held her breath and took a small sip. The tang of ginger assaulted her taste buds. She grimaced.
She tilted her head up and finished the whole cup. It tasted as bad as it worked well. Jun Huang’s body warmed up and her face lost its sickly look. Qi Chen relaxed and sat back down.
“Brother Feng’s words make sense,” Qi Chen said after drinking some tea. “But how should we recover the lost letters?”
Jun Huang curved her lips. “It’s simple. Your Highness must remember that Lady Wei has a personal maid. The maid entered the manor with Lady Wei when you married her. I was told that the maid had been serving Lady Wei since they were little. If that’s the case, the maid must know a lot of Lady Wei’s secrets. Perhaps she was even behind some of the tricks Lady Wei’s used.”
Qi Chen nodded. “You’re right. How about I had her taken here for interrogation? If you have the time, you should stay and help.”
Jun Huang wasn’t going to turn the offer down. She wanted to hear what the maid had to say. She also wanted to prevent the maid from getting her and her master out of the mess. What happened was no trivial matter. Jun Huang would not allow history to repeat itself. She would eliminate the roots of the problem.
The maid was brought to them. Her eyes were red from crying. Her pink dress was tainted with dirt. And her hair was a mess. She looked pitiful, but Jun Huang didn’t feel a lick of sympathy for her. Jun Huang wasn’t a merciful person, and she had been through much worse in the water prison. The state the maid was in was nothing in comparison.
The maid looked at Qi Chen, then at Jun Huang. A shudder ran down her spine. She knew Jun Huang would demand packback from her, but she didn’t expect that to come so soon and so unexpectedly. She wasn’t prepared at all.
“Kneel!” the guard restraining her snapped. The maid shuddered and dropped down to the ground. The impact sent a sharp pain through her knees. She grimaced and bowed down with a pale face.
“Your - Your Highness...”
“Talk,” Qi Chen demanded in a steely voice. “Tell me everything you know. If you dare to hide anything from me, I will not go easy on you.”
The maid bit her lip and stared at the ground. She had been with Wei Lanying for more than a dozen years. She had learned to be cruel to herself when needed. She took a deep breath to calm herself, but her fingers were still trembling.
Jun Huang narrowed her eyes at the maid as if she could see through her. The maid broke into cold sweat. Her hair stuck to her forehead messily.
“You should open up,” Jun Huang said calmly. It was as if she was merely commenting on the weather. The maid, however, felt chilled to the bones. “You should know that if you hide anything from the prince, you will end up worse than Xiaoyun. Do you think that Lady Wei will save you? This gentleman knows that you are a smart one. Don’t fool yourself into thinking she would risk herself for you.”
The maid had been under arrest along with Wei Lanying, but she knew what had happened to Xiaoyun. It was a fate worse than death. She would never want the same thing to happen to her.
Wei Lanying had lost. It was impossible for her to rise again. After some hesitation, the maid decided to talk.
Jun Huang and Qi Chen expected the maid to tell them how Wei Lanying planned to regain Qi Chen’s favor, but what the maid said was far worse. She explained how they had used the child in Nan Guyue’s body against her and Jun Huang. Qi Chen had been feeling guilty about that already. Her confession sent him into fury. No one said anything lest they attracted Qi Chen’s ire.
The maid was dragged away. Qi Chen had made up his mind about what to do. If Wei Lanying was capable of such malice, the ones serving her were unlikely to be innocent. There was no reason for him to go easy on the maid. As for Wei Lanying...
Qi Chen’s eyes went cold. Jun Huang got to her feet and cupped her hands. “Your Highness needs time to take care of your personal affairs. This gentleman will take my leave.”
She fixed her clothes and walked away without stopping.
Qi Chen stood up and made his way to Wei Lanying’s cell. She was kept in the hidden prison in the manor. It wasn’t as torturous as the water prison, but it was far from comfortable. The whole place was infested with vermins. Wei Lanying had never been in a situation like this. Her pale face was covered in dried tears. She had lost the superior air around her.
She rushed toward the cell door when she saw Qi Chen. “Are you here to let me out, Your Highness? I know you wouldn’t listen to those lies...”
“Shut up!” Qi Chen snapped. “Do you think I’m that stupid? Why must you keep on plotting against other people, Wei Lanying? I had let you run free because I didn’t know what kind of a person you are. You’re vicious enough to kill an unborn child! Are you going to plot against me next time?!”
Wei Lanying shook her head and tried to explain, but Qi Chen had already waved a man in. The man came in with a variety of torture devices. Wei Lanying tried and failed to break out of the other prison guards’ restrain. Her scream rang through the prison. Qi Chen didn’t stay for long.
When Wei Lanying regained her consciousness, Nan Guyue was standing before her. Nan Guyue huffed when she saw the state Wei Lanying was in - both her hands and legs were restrained by iron chains, and her body was covered in wounds.
“So this is how it ends for you,” Nan Guyue sneered. “You’re more pitiful than the beggars on the street.”
Compared to Nan Guyue, Wei Lanying was a mess. Wei Lanying pulled her lips into a feral grin and said mockingly, “Yes, this is how I end up, but what about you? I pity you, Nan Guyue. One day you’ll end up like me.”
Nan Guyue was reminded of the premature death of her child. She couldn’t take Wei Lanying’s jabs. She slapped her with all the force she could muster. Blood streamed down from the corner of Wei Lanying’s mouth.
Wei Lanying stared at Nan Guyue with vicious eyes. If looks could kill, Nan Guyue would be dead. There was nothing Wei Lanying wanted more than to tear Nan Guyue to pieces and devour her blood and flesh. She would send her to hell and leave her with no hope to reincarnate.
“Do you think I’ve been quiet because I’m scared of you, Wei Lanying? No, I’m just not as foolish as you are. You’ve tried every trick to gain the heart of a heartless man, and you doomed yourself as a result. For the prince, you’re merely a pawn on his way to success. Now you’re useless to him, so he throws you away.”
A cruel smile split Nan Guyue’s face. She looked terrifying with the shadow embracing her from behind.
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