TIGR Chapter 8
The Imperial Guard’s Revenge
Chapter 8 Helping
When Ling Xi and Ling Luan heard the two words “Qing Qing” come out of the Commander’s mouth, their hearts stopped for a moment. Wang Yanqing sat with her back facing Ling Xi and Ling Luan and did not sense the change in the two of them. Otherwise, she surely would have realized that something was fishy with her “Older Brother”.
However, Wang Yanqing did not see. She was caught in the tender smile of Lu Heng’s eyes, and her guard slowly melted, little by little: “I am much better. Second Brother, you stayed in Fusi for so long before coming back, you must be hungry. I prepared a meal for you, but I don’t remember what you like, so I ordered a dish that I had eaten in the evening and thought was pretty good.”
Lu Heng’s personal matters were not exposed. He was too afraid that others would poison him, so even the Lu family cook did not know what food he liked to eat. Wang Yanqing’s inquiry was unsuccessful, so she had to use her own preferences to prepare dinner for Lu Heng.
Lu Heng looked toward the large mahogany engraved table. There were several types of dishes laid out, meat, vegetables, soup – an array of foods. There was a heated base under the food boxes that the maids changed with hot water occasionally, so even now the food was not cold.
Lu Heng turned his head to find Wang Yanqing carefully watching him, seemingly afraid that he would be unhappy. Lu Heng couldn’t help but laugh, he reached to pat Wang Yanqing’s head but remembered that she had an injury and took his hand back: “I have already said, do whatever you want to in the Lu residence, you don’t need to be so cautious that you tremble with fear. These happen to be just what I like, but it’s late at night and I don’t have much appetite…”
In the back, Ling Xi and Ling Luan hung their heads, without the slightest bit of surprise in their eyes. See, it’s just as they said, the commander won’t touch it.
However, before Ling Xi’s thoughts fell, she heard Lu Heng’s tone change and he said with a smile: “Unless Qing Qing, you accompany me.”
The corner of Ling Xi’s mouth twitched and she almost did not hold back her expression. Ling Xi and Ling Luan were specifically trained so that no matter how surprised they were, they would not look up. Lu Heng’s eyes gleamed like waves, especially when he focused on someone, he could almost drown them. Wang Yanqing blushed. Luckily, nobody was looking in her direction, so she breathed a sigh of relief and barely nodded: “Okay.”
Wang Yanqing could not participate in any rigorous activity so Lu heng helped her slowly stand up, and unhurriedly moved her towards the table. The maids stepped forward to remove the cover from the food boxes. Wang Yanqing opened the porcelain cup and comfortably served the soup: “Second Brother, you just came back, first drink some hot soup to warm your body.”
Lu Heng smiled and took the fish soup from her, however, his eyes were observing her silently. She had no memory, but her life-learned skills were intact. After watching her serve soup and distribute bowls, it was obvious that she had often done this before. It was self-evident who the person she cared for was. However, Wang Yanqing’s behavior was slightly inconsistent with the information on her records.
Lu Heng scanned the dishes on the table. The flavors were all sweet and light, and the meat was all white. This was entirely different from the “indulges in salty and spicy foods, loves lamb” written on her records.
Lu Heng slowly took a mouthful of fish soup and asked: “Qing Qing, you have been injured. The herbalist specially instructed you to pay attention to your diet. Lamb is the most nutritious, how about I tell them to deliver a batch of sheep tomorrow?”
Wang Yanqing slightly pinched her eyebrow and asked: “Second Brother, do you want to eat that?”
Lu Heng smiled and shook his head: “No. All of it is yours.”
“Then don’t.” Wang Yanqing lowered her head, scooped a spoonful, and said: “I don’t like the smell of mutton.”
Lu Heng was sure then that the salty, spicy, and lamb preferences were not Wang Yanqing’s at all, but Fu Tinghzhou’s. In order to cater to Fu Tingzhou, Wang Yanqing claimed she liked them.
Lu Heng clicked his tongue in disdain, and he began to doubt the authenticity of the investigation. It seemed that memorizing the information did not mean that everything would go smoothly. There were much more details he still had to learn, and it would have to be done through his own observations.
Lu Heng watched Wang Yanqing lower her head and stir the soup. He couldn’t help but laugh and pat her hand, saying: “If you don’t like it, you don’t like it. It’s the sheep’s fault that it smells like mutton, why are you upset?”
Wang Yanqing couldn’t hold back her smile, she raised her head and glared at him exasperatedly: “You want to eat their meat, but you blame them for their smell. How can you be so unreasonable?”
“They made Qing Qing unhappy, so naturally it was their error.” Lu Heng spoke calmly with his thief-like logic which he felt was perfectly sensible. He told himself that Fu Tingzhou was truly sickening, however, he called had her “Qing Qing” many times and it was quite smooth.
In the past, Lu Heng was always silent and alert when eating because he was worried that every bite was poisonous. For him, eating was not enjoyable at all, it was just a physical need. Today, he had Wang Yanqing to keep him company and he unexpectedly ate a lot while talking and laughing.
The food prepared by Wang Yanqing was light and easy to digest. After a hot meal, his body warmed up from the inside, and the headache of cases in his mind seemed to become nothing. Wang Yanqing had dinner in the evening, however, she now accompanied Lu Heng. After Lu Heng put down his bowl and chopsticks, she also put set down her chopsticks and picked up a handkerchief to wipe her mouth.
The maids stepped forward softly and quietly removed the tableware. Wang Yanqing poured a cup of tea for Lu Heng, gently placed it in his hand, and tentatively asked: “Second Brother, did you encounter any troubles?”
Lu Heng returned to his senses and found that he was unconsciously thinking about the case again. He opened the teacup and slowly wiped the foam. Hot mist rose in front of his eyes, and he couldn’t tell his true mood for a while.
Lu Heng looked at Wang Yanqing through the mist, and he remembered that Wang Yanqing recognized expressions quickly, even his own thoughts could be seen. He originally thought that Wang Yanqing had developed the practice of weighing up someone’s words and watching their actions early on from living under another’s roof, but now it seemed that this was more like a natural, keen intuition.
Her sensitive nature, plus the skills she developed from her experiences, brought an almost evil “mind-reading”. Previous life experience told her to cover up her strangeness, so she deliberately held back, concealed as she blended in behind the residence, and at most, outsiders thought she was quick to respond. Now that she lost her memory, she acted like an innocent and confused child, but often spoke astonishingly and her universally shocking gift was displayed.
Lu Heng’s eyes moved slightly, and he looked at Wang Yanqing even more carefully. Wang Yanqing felt a little nervous under his gaze and asked with a smile: “Second Brother, why are you looking at me like that? Did I say something wrong?”
Although she was smiling, her shoulders had tightened unconsciously. Lu Heng smiled softly, took Wang Yanqing’s hand, and found that her fingertips were cold.
Lu Heng slowly massaged Wang Yanqing’s long fingertips and said: “Qing Qing, you don’t have to cater to me. You can say whatever you want, you do not need to figure out what I want to hear.”
She was born good at reading people’s “looks” and had a strong ability to perceive emotions. She could guess what others wanted to hear based on subtle changes in their expression. This was indeed a one-of-a-kind skill, but Lu Heng did not wish for Wang Yanqing to use the skill on him.
He wanted to see more of the true Wang Yanqing.
Wang Yanqing was speechless, and tried to ask: “You all are not like this?”
Lu Heng couldn’t stop from smiling and said with a chuckle: “Of course not. If everyone in the world had your ability, the emperor wouldn’t have to be angry with these fools every day. This is a gift from heaven. You can use it to protect yourself, but with me, you can speak honestly, you don’t need to be overly cautious.”
For the first time, Wang Yanqing discovered that she was different from others, and yet she couldn’t help but watch Lu Heng’s expression: “Really?”
“Really.” Lu Heng confidently sat down letting her observe him. That was indeed the truth, and he was not afraid of letting her see. Lu Heng held Wang Yanqing’s finger and said with a smile: “You and I grew up together as brother and sister, closer than even our biological siblings. In a family of brothers and sisters, if you do not freely speak with me, who else will remind me?”
Wang Yanqing relaxed her mind, her body relaxed, and a real smile appeared on her face: “Okay.”
Lu Heng felt the touch of jade in the palm of his hand and wordlessly examined her. Catching her was purely coincidental. Originally, Lu Heng wanted to use Wang Yanqing for leverage, but after finding out that she had amnesia, Lu Heng immediately changed his mind. He planned to mold her into a secret weapon against Fu TIngzhou, but now, Lu Heng discovered that Wang Yanqing’s usefulness was far greater than he imagined.
Such a rare talent with such strong emotional insight, it would be a waste to send her back to the small squabbles behind the residence. She should have a wider world.
Lu Heng looked at Wang Yanqing and smiled ambiguously. All of the sudden, he sat up straight and rather solemnly pulled Wang Yanqing’s hand and asked: “Qing Qing, would you like to help Second Brother with something?”
“Help you?” Wang Yanqing opened her eyes wide, surprised: “Me?”
Although Wang Yanqing still only knew little about this word, she knew that Lu Heng was the commander of the Imperial Guards. Judging from everyone’s attitude towards him, he had a lot of power in his hands. How could such a person need her help?
Thinking this way, Wang Yanqing also said: “I know nothing, and I don’t know anyone. What can I help Second Brother with…”
Lu Heng squeezed her hand to stop her words: “Don’t belittle yourself Qing Qing, you can help me with a lot. A few days ago, a document was sent. Liang Wei, a Thousand Householder of the Imperial Guards in Baoding, passed away. His wife, Madam Liang Shi, reported that the eldest daughter had committed adultery at this time. The Baoding government office sentenced the woman to death and handed it over to the capital for review.”
There was no local authority to serve the death penalty, so any cases concerning human life had to be sent to the capital for review. With the approval of the capital, the local government could execute the sentence. If the capital felt that there was a problem, the entire case would have to be retried. This case involved the Imperial Guards, therefore it bypassed the six departments and would follow the internal instructions from the Imperial Guards.
Wang Yanqing frowned while listening and after pondering this for a moment, she asked: “Is Madam Liang Shi the biological mother of Liang Wei’s eldest daughter?”
There was a smile in Lu Heng’s eyes, he was very smart and immediately caught the point. Lu Heng did not answer and instead asked: “Why did you ask this question?”
“It doesn’t make sense.” Wang Yanqing continued, “after her father passed away, how could the daughter think about committing adultery? Even if she did do this during the mourning period of her father, her mother would have tried to find a way to cover it up when she found out. Why did she take the initiative to report it to the imperial court? There is only one possibility. That Madam Liang Shi is not her mother, but her stepmother.”
Lu Heng nodded and affirmed her surmise: “Correct, Madam Liang Shi was indeed Liang Wei’s remarried wife. Anything else?”
Wang Yanqing had no alternatives: “You did not give me any other information, how can I guess more? Sometimes stepmothers will target the children of the previous wife to gain an advantage. Her brazenness to harm the remaining daughter from the marriage depends on her own strength. Does she have any children?”
“Yes.” Lu Heng nodded and happily replied: “Liang Wei had two sons. The eldest son and daughter were from the previous wife, Liu. Only the youngest son is from his step-wife. And I can tell you one more thing, the Imperial Guard’s Thousand Households can be hereditary. When Liang Wei died, his son should have inherited the position of Thousand Households. As for which son it falls on, it would depend on the situation.”
According to Mind Dynasty law, upon the death of the father, all ancestral property is inherited by the eldest son, and the eldest son will pass it on to the eldest grandson. However, the Ming Dynasty had passed this law down for the past hundred years. The law established at the founding of the country had long ago changed in practice. In the most recent example, Fu Yue, the Marquis of Zhenyuan, stepped over his son and directly passed the position of Marquis to his grandson. Lu Song, the commander, also bypassed his eldest son and passed the hereditary official position of the Imperial Guards to his second son, Lu Heng.
Fu Tingzhou and Lu Heng were considered to be outstanding in their personal abilities, and they had inherited exceptionally, but there were more ordinary people in the world, without much difference in intelligence. For example, in Liang Wei’s family, according to etiquette and law, the eldest son should inherit the position of the thousand households, but if the second son inherits the official position on the grounds that he is more talented, it can actually be done.
Wang Yanqing’s face showed a sudden realization before she contained her anger, and said: “That makes sense. Liang Wei’s bones were not yet cold, while Madam Liang Shi at this time was forcing the eldest daughter of the former spouse to die, so much so that she did this regardless of her own reputation. She most likely had other plans. This case is by no means adultery.”
As Wang Yanqing spoke, Lu Heng listened quietly. When Wang Yanqing finished speaking, he sighed and said: “Qing Qing, you are indeed very intelligent, much better than those officials outside.”
When Wang Yanqing heard this sentence, she suddenly got a bad feeling: “Could it be that this case has already been decided?”
“That’s right.” Lu Heng’s tone was tired and he let out a rough sigh, which verified Wang Yanqing’s guess: “The case was settled, and Commander Chen Du approved the sentence. I’m afraid it won’t be long before Miss Liang will be executed for the crime of adultery.”
Wang Yanqing tried to ask: “Commander Chen Du is…”
“Lord Chen Yinchen.” Lu Heng looked at Wang Yanqing, the light inside was serene, and there seemed to be an undercurrent flowing in the air: “The second-rank commander in charge of the Imperial Guards. He is also my superior.”
Wang Yanqing went silent all of a sudden. Lu Heng’s senior officer approved this case…
This was often the case in the bureaucracy, especially since the Lu family joined the army. The army cared most about rank and seniority. If the senior officer felt that this was adultery and should result in execution, even if the people below found doubts, they had to comply.
Wang Yanqing lowered her eyes and thought for a while, still feeling very angry: “But this is a human life. An unmarried woman was executed for adultery but what if she was wronged?”
Lu Heng sighed and looked at Wang Yanqing deeply. Inside his sparkling pair of amber eyes held disappointment, worry, and a pleading, like a jar of aged wine almost pouring into Wang Yanqing’s heart: “This is a part that I also cannot bear but disobeying a superior is a felony. Qing Qing, do you want to help me?”