So what if she was an old disciple of the sword sect master? So what if she was naturally talented and a genius at martial arts? In the end, she was still beaten in one blow by this “good-for-nothing wastrel,” Han Yunxi!
In truth, it was barely one move at all. Han Yunxi didn’t even use her hands, but only revealed the hidden needle halfway out of her mouth before she scared Duanmu Yao into retreating! It wasn’t clear how Duanmu Yao’s cohorts would twist the facts to spread their rumors, but Long Feiye had already ordered his men to spread the truth, including sending a delegation to tell the news straight to Celestial Mountain.
After all, the Celestial Mountain Sword Sect was the leader of the martial arts circles. Its disciples were all proud of their sect and had high standards for themselves. If they knew that Duanmu Yao had been defeated by someone who didn’t even know martial arts, they’d roast her for shaming the face of Celestial Mountain Sword Sect!
“Duanmu Yao, if you don’t speak, then I’ll assume that you accept your defeat,” Han Yunxi declared.
Duanmu Yao was beyond depressed. Her perfect plan had been flawless. Senior brother wouldn’t strike her in fear of their master; she could attack Han Yunxi first, then reveal the evidence of her mother’s murder to demand her blood debt. But reality had proven otherwise. Was she still dreaming? Dammit!
“Han Yunxi, I’m not here to compare martial arts with you!” Duanmu Yao blurted out coldly. “I won’t discuss who wins or loses here, but I will take your life to avenge my mother’s!”
She waved her sword, and ten sword maidens strode out of the crowd. Long Feiye recognized them all as Duanmu Yao’s personally trained swordswomen from Celestial Mountain Sword Sect. All of them had formidable sword skills, so their combined strength was equal to Duanmu Yao’s. She had truly steeled her heart to kill Han Yunxi today!
Long Feiye’s icy eyes narrowed with terrifying killing intent. Sensing his displeasure, Han Yunxi withdrew to his side and rested her hand over his fist to comfort him silently. This was enough to calm him. Actually, Long Feiye didn’t have to worry. The Han Yunxi of today was nothing like her former self. In the past, she had her fears--worry that Tianning’s imperial court would cause them trouble, or that a single misstep could ruin Qin Wangfei’s namesake and offend His Highness Duke of Qin. But now, her greatest fear had become her greatest source of strength. What is there to be afraid of now?
“Duanmu Yao, you can’t just challenge others on a whim! Are you going back on your words?” Han Yunxi asked with a cheeky grin. She didn’t give the girl a chance to explain, but continued, “That’s fine, too! If it’s a group match, I have people on my side, too.”
Everyone in the crowd looked towards His Highness Duke of Qin. Although he stood there expressionlessly with no intention of getting involved, their hearts still sped up at the thought of a potential match! His Highness Duke of Qin had enough strength to take on all of Duanmu Yao’s allies just by himself.
Naturally, Duanmu Yao dreaded that very thought. “Han Yunxi, this princess came today to seek revenge! Stop dallying about here and there! No one’s going to challenge you one-on-one or as a group!”
Han Yunxi sighed. “Then what are you trying to do? You were the one who declared a match and brought allies! If it’s not one-on-one or a group match, are you expecting this wangfei to just stand by like a fool while you hack me to death?”
“Haha!” Gu Qi Sha burst into guffaws, followed by a few more voices in the crowd. Duanmu Yao’s actions, in Han Yunxi’s words, were truly hilarious. Even with Long Feiye’s agents, people would spread the joke of their own accord. For sure, the girl was losing face today!
Embarrassed and angry, Duanmu Yao couldn’t believe her current position. How did her revenge mission turn into a farce?
“Someone come, charge and kill her!” she cried. The ten swordswomen all swept forward, just as countless black-robed swordsmen appeared out of thin air to shield Han Yunxi from the front. Han Yunxi didn’t grasp the full implications, but both Gu Qi Sha and Mu Linger were shocked. That was because all of these men were radiating killing intent. Without a doubt, their martial arts skills far surpassed those of Duanmu Yao’s faction.
Duanmu Yao herself sensed the danger and raged, “Senior brother, Han Yunxi killed my imperial mother! I won’t demand that you uphold justice on behalf of your junior sister, but please don’t shield other people’s faults! You should be explaining yourself to my imperial father and my Western Zhou’s people instead!”
Long Feiye’s voice was cold. “Where’s the proof? Smearing my beloved consort’s name without reason means you owe your lordship an explanation as well! If you can’t provide the evidence, don’t blame your lordship for being rude!”
Duanmu Yao’s eyes grew wet with unshed tears. She took out an acupuncture needle from her sleeve with a sorry air and raised it high above her head for the crowds. “This was taken from the body of my imperial mother. There was poison on the tip. Only Han Yunxi uses acupuncture needles like these. Besides her, no one else has them!”
Indeed, the needle in her hands belonged to Han Yunxi’s usual set. They had been brought here via the detox system from the present day, so their make and material differed from medical needles of ancient times. It really was a source of proof. But Han Yunxi rarely used these needles unless she was treating someone in an emergency. When she was done, she’d disinfect and store them away. There were only a few exceptions where she had left them behind.
Aside from Tianyin, who else could have gotten their hands on them? Qingge? Ning Cheng? And where would they have found it?
Han Yunxi was too lazy to pursue the matter. If the other side wanted to smear her, they would’ve found a way to get ‘evidence’ anyway.
“Han Yunxi, tell me. Is this your needle or not?” Duanmu Yao asked loudly.
“Yes! When did you steal my things? Give it back!” Han Yunxi said confidently.
“You!” Duanmu Yao’s rage was incensed with Han Yunxi’s every retort. She was almost going to die from rage. “You used this acupuncture needle to kill my imperial mother. What else do you have to say for yourself?!”
“You stole my acupuncture needle and slandered me for using poison. What do you think I have to say?” Han Yunxi retorted.
“Han Yunxi, you...you...you’re resorting to sophistry!” Duanmu Yao was almost ready to spit up blood.
“Today, you bring an acupuncture needle and accuse me of killing your imperial mother. Tomorrow, will you bring an assassination needle and accuse me of killing your entire clan?” Han Yunxi demanded.
The crowd was silent. No one dared to speak, while Duanmu Yao was beginning to pant from desperation. “The coroner’s already determined the cause of death. My mother died from poisoning. Moreover, the Chu Clan barracks had someone who personally witnessed you at the scene of the crime that night!”
Here was both physical and eyewitness evidence. If the proof had been provided from a neutral third party, then according to Cloud Realm’s laws, Han Yunxi was guilty. Unfortunately for Duanmu Yao, all of the evidence came from her side of the dispute, and thus it remained highly suspect. Han Yunxi was disinclined to debate with them on the plausibility of the submitted evidence. With Duanmu Yaos’ unreasonable, tedious, piss-poor personality, they would never hear the end of it. She and Long Feiye had long discussed a way to kill both stratagems with one blow.
So long as they could prove the evidence--her acupuncture needle--was only there to frame her, there was no need to prod at the true cause of Empress Xue’s death. In that case, Duanmu Yao would naturally move to suspect whoever gave her the needle to form her case. Once she was distracted by the new developments, this matter would have nothing more to do with them at all.
“Which coroner did you find to inspect the body?” Han Yunxi asked next.
“The Peaceful Pavilion’s Lin Xu!” Duanmu Yao declared loudly.
The Peaceful Pavilion was a for-profit institution that inspected corpses for both the royal court and the common people in Tianning. Lin Xin was its star coroner with a well-known reputation!
“I don’t believe him!” Han Yunxi said coldly. “Unless you find someone to inspect the corpse again and prove that Empress Xue really did die from poison--from that needle, no less--this wangfei won’t accept the accusation!”
Chu Qingge had done her work for Duanmu Yao’s sake and purposely bribed Lin Xu to tell Duanmu Yao the results of his autopsy. Duanmu Yao had no reason to mistrust Chu Qingge.
“Might as well! This princess wants you to admit it utterly!” Duanmu Yao was full of confidence.
“Then find the foremost coroner in Western Zhou’s imperial court of justice, Cao Tong--Great Coroner Cao!” Han Yunxi said everything slowly, word for word, so everyone in the crowd could hear her clearly.
Everyone was scared to death by her declaration. They began to wonder if Duanmu Yao really was here to smear Han Yunxi’s reputation after all. There was no way the very justice courts of Western Zhou would stand on Han Yunxi’s side. They would only seek the truth. Moreover, Great Coroner Cao was Cloud Realm Continent’s foremost coroner, with first-rate autopsy skills. His words would be irrefutable! The fact that Han Yunxi dared to invite him meant that she had no guilty conscience.
Duanmu Yao laughed out loud. “Han Yunxi, don’t play pretend! You know that Cao Tong’s been retired for years! It’ll be impossible to invite him here!”
“And if I can?” Han Yunxi challenged.
“What a joke!” Duanmu Yao still refused to believe it. Cao Tong had cracked many cases for the Western Zhou imperial court, but he’d been in private retirement for many years. Her imperial father had once sent the crown prince to invite him over, but they still failed to bring him down from the mountains. What power did Han Yunxi have to invite him?
“Great Coroner Cao’s already on his way here. He’ll arrive within two days. Duanmu Yao, if you’re still a filial daughter who wants to know the cause of your mother’s death, hurry up and bring her body here,” Han Yunxi replied seriously.
Duanmu Yao grew stunned when she realized Han Yunxi wasn’t kidding around. A frightening thought rose up in her mind: Suppose that Han Yunxi isn’t the culprit? What if I’ve been used by Qingge? What if the Clan are the true murderers?
She quickly recovered her senses, refusing to accept her suspicions. She was already convinced that Han Yunxi was the killer and was just trying to scare her instead! Viciously she cried, “Fine! Two days from now, I’ll make you eat your words and return a life for a life!”
As promised, Cao Tong truly did arrive at the side courtyard in Yaoshui!
Han Yunxi was able to invite him in the first place because of ’s Third Elder Shen’s secret help. As an Elder of Medical City, he couldn’t publicly support Han Yunxi, so Cao Tong’s appearance would hide the details of their friendship. Moreover, the coroner was an old official of Western Zhou, and had vowed to discover the truth of Empress Xue’s death!
“Princess, don’t worry. This one will definitely make sure the esteemed empress can rest in peace!” Cao Tong spoke sincerely, still referring to Duanmu Yao as the princess.
Duanmu Yao’s steadfast heart wavered at his words. She nodded and said, “My imperial mother’s body is resting in the courtyard at the end of the alley. Let’s go.”
The crowd followed Cao Tong, while Long Feiye and Gu Qi Sha accompanied Han Yunxi. Gu Qi Sha muttered, “Did you guys bribe Cao Tong to your side?”
Han Yunxi whispered back, “It’s enough that we managed to invite him here. Bribing a guy like him is impossible!”
“Then aren’t you afraid he’ll expose the truth?” Gu Qi Sha replied, alarmed. After all, Han Yunxi may not have killed Empress Xue, but Long Feiye’s men certainly did!
The title of World’s Greatest Coroner wasn’t just for show!
Where did Long Feiye and Han Yunxi get the confidence? What kind of drugs were they on?
2. Cao Tong (曹同) - Cao is a surname take means “people of the same kind,” Tong means “be the same as,” “same/alike similar,” “together/in common.”