TIGR Chapter 12
The Imperial Guard’s Revenge
Chapter 12 Stepmother
Lu Heng’s eyes were slightly lighter than ordinary people’s, the inner corners of his eyes were turned down, and the tails of his eyes were raised. When he looked at people, they sparkled, eager to speak. He was born with a pair of passionate eyes and Wang Yanqing found that Lu Heng was always like this. When he spoke the truth, he seemed to be joking, and when he lied, he was extremely serious. Truth and falsehood were mixed, making it impossible for someone to judge his thoughts. Wang Yanqing glanced at Lu Heng skeptically and asked: “Really?”
“Really.” Lu Heng looked at Wang Yanqing and spoke with a tone that could not be more sincere, “When have I ever deceived you?”
Wang Yanqing seemed to accept it. It was at this time that she realized that Lu Heng still held her hand. The two of them were standing extremely close so that their sleeves were stacked. Wang Yanqing took a step back and withdrew her hand: “Speak if you want to speak, what are you doing standing so close?”
Lu Heng didn’t enjoy hearing this. He raised his eyebrows and ambiguously said: “We are brother and sister in the same family, do you still pay attention to these things?”
“Still, we are in another’s house.” When Wang Yanqing saw that he did not let go, she raised her head, and gave him a hard look with obvious meaning, “Let go”.
In the end, Lu Heng didn’t want to embarrass her too much, so he slowly relaxed his hold. As soon as Wang Yanqing was free, she quickly adjusted her sleeves and walked into the house. While they were talking, Madam Liang Shi and the others had already entered the house. Wang Yanqing soundlessly entered and stood close to the doors and windows. Lu Heng immediately followed and stood behind her.
In the room, Chen Yuxuan was asking Madam Liang Shi about the entire story of Liang Rong’s disappearance, and Wang Yanqing listened in. Madam Liang Shi’s face dropped and from time to time she dabbed the corner of her eyes with a handkerchief: “On the seventeenth of last month, the young master went out early in the morning and didn’t say where he was going. I didn’t think much about it, I just thought he had gone to meet friends again. I never imagined that he would not return for half a month.”
Chen Yuxuan asked: “Have you searched the places where the eldest young master often goes?”
“We searched them all.” Madam Liang Shi turned towards the three clan elders and said, “Taverns, pubs, homes of relatives, homes of friends. We have asked all the concubines. If Thousand Households Chen doesn’t believe me, you can ask the clan elders. The three elders know of all of the people I sent.”
The clan elders nodded: “Indeed. At the beginning of the month, the eldest madam sent people to ask around, and we also tried to help find him, but we did not find any trace of Liang Rong.”
Chen Yuxuan glanced at the door and asked in a low voice: “What about the place in Liuxiang, the casino?”
The Liang family was a little embarrassed, and one of the clan elders said: “There would never have been such a thing. I know that Liang Rong is a child, although he is a loner, dull and taciturn, he is not that kind of playboy. He usually likes to read books, but other than swimming in the mountains and playing in the river, he has no other pastimes.”
“Master Liang actually likes to read books.” Chen Yuxuan responded with surprise, and then asked, “Since he is not in the city, have you tried looking outside?”
The official position of Liang Wei’s family was not a big one in the imperial court, but he was a well-known figure in Baoding Mansion. Madam Liang Shi notified the clan elders and sleeplessly went about with so much effort that if Liang Rong was still in the city, someone would have reported it. There had been no news for so long, that it’s most likely he is no longer in the Baoding Prefecture.
The Liang family elders listened with bitter faces: “Thousand Households Chen, we have also thought about him being outside the city. But it’s so big outside the Baoding Prefecture, there are twelve surrounding counties alone, not to mention the barren mountains and mountains further away. Liang Rong didn’t leave a word, where can we even find him?”
Chen Yuxuan thought about it too, looking for him was like looking for a needle in a haystack. He thought that at least he should know what direction Liang Rong went. Chen Yuxuan asked: “Did anything happen before Liang Rong left home?”
Although Wang Yanqing did not ask any questions, she watched the expressions of everyone in the room. She found that after Chen Yuxuan asked this question, Madam Liang Shi did not hesitate and blurted out: “No. Everything was fine those days. The family was the same as usual, and there was not even a quarrel. If you don’t believe it, you can ask the servants, I would never treat him badly.”
When Madam Liang Shi said this, her eyes opened wide and her voice was loud and steady, seemingly with a clear conscience. Wang Yanqing suddenly opened her mouth and asked: “Madam Liang, then do you remember what happened on the day before Liang Rong left, the sixteenth?”
When Wang Yanqing made this inquiry, Madam Liang Shi turned her head to look at her and her eyebrow was pinched appearing reluctant. But Chen Yuxuan also looked very interested, and Madam Liang Shi could only answer: “Nothing happened. During the day, we all stayed at home to grieve for the master. In the evening, the eldest young master went back to his room after eating. He read books alone in his room and I saw that the lights were turned off very late. Then he left very early the next morning.”
Wang Yanqing stared into Madam Liang Shi’s eyes and asked: “Until how late did Liang Rong read his books?”
Madam Liang Shi blinked quickly and turned her eyes in a glaring manner. After a pause, as if she was offended, she patted the armrest, and said angrily: “How do I know about the eldest young master’s matters?”
It was indeed a bit disrespectful to ask a stepmother about her adult stepson’s evening activities. Upon seeing this, Chen Yuxuan hurriedly stepped forward: “Madam, we also want to find the eldest young master as fast as we can. We didn’t mean to offend you, don’t take offense, Madam. If the eldest young master is still reading late into the night, he is truly diligent.”
Madam Liang Shi was angry. She collected her face, pursed her lips tightly, and then said nothing afterward. Chen Yuxuan didn’t want to ask again. He sighed and said: “Madam and clan elders, Brother Liang has just left and normally I wouldn’t have said these things. Misfortune and blessings always happen to everyone. Since the eldest young master has not been found for such a long time, I am afraid that I have to make other plans.”
The three clan elders immediately sighed and Madam Liang Shi dropped her head, covering half of her face with her handkerchief. One elder deeply sighed and said: “Liang Wei’s bones are not yet cold and at this moment, Liang Rong has disappeared. Really, when it rains, it pours.”
Hearing this, Lu Heng made a gesture calm and collectedly which Chen Yuxuan received and with tacit understanding, he asked: “Forgive me if I am offending, but along the way, I vaguely heard some bad rumors about the daughter of your home. May I ask if these rumors are true? Or has someone taken the opportunity to blacken the Liang family?”
When Chen Yuxuan mentioned this, the room suddenly became quiet. The three elders glanced at each other, bowed their heads, and lowered their eyes. Only one sighed and said sadly: “It’s the misfortune of the Liang family, there are women like this. Indeed, we are ashamed to face our generation of ancestors. It is a sin for these filthy things to reach Thousand Households Chen’s ears.”
The Liang family’s statement in this manner revealed that the rumor of Miss Liang’s adultery was true. Wang Yanqing glanced across the faces of several people and asked: “Did you really catch Miss Liang’s adultery in the act?”
The Liang family always regarded adultery as a scandal. They were displeased and surprised when they heard Wang Yanqing, a woman, had spoken the words “in the act” with her mouth. Is this something a girl can ask? As Wang Yanqing was someone brought by Chen Yuxuan, they did not lash back, but instead kept a calm face and refused to say a word.
If the Liang family did not cooperate, the investigation could not proceed. But it didn’t matter. Wang Yanqing already got the answer from their faces. She changed her approach and said: “I can sympathize with these matters. Can I go see Miss Liang?”
The other people heard Wang Yanqing’s words and ignored them. Only one clan elder pulled his face and said condescendingly: “This is an internal matter of our Liang family, and we don’t need outsiders to interfere.”
The Liang family was dismissive, and Wang Yanqing was not angry, but Lu Heng was uncomfortable. They failed to appreciate her kindness. It seemed that these people should be brought to the Imperial Prison for interrogation next time. When Wang Yanqing spoke to them in a courteous manner, they were disgraced.
Chen Yuxuan knew when he saw the commander’s face that there was a problem, he quickly responded and said to the rescue: “Brother Liang is gone, the eldest young Master Liang’s whereabouts are unknown, and it’s not a problem that there is no leading family member in the mansion. Brother Liang and I can also be regarded as friends during this stage. If there is anything that can help, I am willing to write a letter and invite some colleagues in the capital to assist. However, I always have to know the specific situation, so I can answer when my superior asks in the future. This girl is a trustworthy person and will never spread today’s events to the outside world. Naturally, if Madam and the clan elders find it inconvenient, then treat me as busy, and I will retire…”
When Chen Yuxuan was speaking, he turned to leave. Madam Liang Shi and the clan elders panicked when they saw this, they quickly held Chen Yuxuan and tried to console and flatter him. Although Chen Yuxuan and Liang Wei were of the Thousand Households, the officials in the capital and the officials in other places were very different in actual power. If Chen Yuxuan was willing to help, maybe the inheritance of the Liang family’s Thousand Households would be settled.
The Liang family elders were arrogant and wished for the start of the daughter’s execution. How could they let outsiders see the Liang’s eldest girl? But they originally asked Chen Yuxuan and they did not dare to not follow through on everything he said here. They thought to themselves that Wang Yanqing was just a woman and could ask anything, so they reluctantly agreed.
Only Madam Liang Shi frowned, her face still unwilling. She still didn’t know what was going on, and she always felt terrified when she met Wang Yanqing’s mirror-like eyes. But Madam Liang Shi didn’t dare offend Chen Yuxuan, so she stood up and said: “Thank you for your trouble Miss. The eldest girl in our family doesn’t understand etiquette, so I will accompany you.”
“No need.” Wang Yanqing said, “I can just go by myself, Madam already has enough to do.”
After Wang Yanqing finished speaking, she turned and left without waiting for Madam Liang Shi’s reaction. Madam Liang Shi wanted to chase after her again, but Lu Heng glanced at her, and she was nailed to her spot in shock. In a blink of an eye, the two were far away, and behind, Chen Yuxuan talked about the inheritance of the Thousand Households. Madam Liang Shi was put between a rock and a hard place. In the end, she could only send the maid next to her to chase after them, and stayed in the living room to listen to Chen Yuxuan’s words.
After all, who the Liang family passed down its Thousand Households position to was the most important thing now.
After Wang Yanqing and Lu Heng came out, they didn’t need anyone from the Liang Mansion to show them the way and walked straight to the embroidery building. During this period, the little maid next to Madam Liang Shi chased out and tried to lead them, but Lu Heng made her dare not move with just one look. The maids didn’t dare to approach or go back, so she could only suck up her courage and hang behind them to follow them from a distance.
The maid couldn’t hear them at this distance, so Lu Heng let her remain and left. Lu Heng lowered his voice and asked with interest: “Qing Qing, what did you find again?”
Wang Yanqing’s face was pale, she paused for a moment, then whispered: “I suspect that Liang Rong may have been killed.”
Lu Heng raised his eyebrows gently and asked curiously: “Why do you say that?”
Wang Yanqing glanced at Lu Heng and exposed him mercilessly: “Don’t pretend like you did not already know this.”
When he was revealed, Lu Heng was not embarrassed and nodded calmly to admit: “That’s right. But I want to know how Qing Qing found out.”
“Madam Liang Shi’s flaws were too many. If Liang Rong had disappeared and she really didn’t know where Liang Rong was, then she should have been angry and complaining, but when she heard the Imperial Guards had come to the door, her first reaction was fear. If you hadn’t done anything wrong, what would you be afraid of? Liang Rong was just missing, but she locked Liang Rong’s room, indicating that she knew this person would not come back. When I asked about Liang Rong’s whereabouts that day, she repeatedly covered her face with a veil and squeezed her fingers unconsciously. All signs show that Liang Rong was not going out to visit friends, and he had likely encountered an accident.”
Lu Heng nodded and asked: “If this is a case of human life, it is especially important to judge the time of death and the scene of death. In Qing Qing’s opinion, what are your thoughts about both?
Wang Yanqing pondered slightly, lowered her voice, and said: “I’m not sure about the time of death, but I suspect that Liang Rong was killed at home.”
“Oh?” Lu Heng turned his head and looked at Wang Yanqing with interest, “Several people in the Liang family saw Liang Rong go out in the early morning and never return. How do you know it was not outside?”
“It was thanks to Madam Liang Shi for helping me rule that out.” Wang Yanqing said, “Madam Liang Shi emphasized over and over that Liang Rong went out as usual, and there was no conflict at home. She repeated it so many times, which showed that she was very concerned about this specific thing. She wanted to divert our attention away from the Liang Mansion, suggesting that Liang Rong had an accident outside, so I targeted inside the home. When Chen Yuxuan proposed to visit Liang Rong’s room, Madam Liang Shi licked her lips nervously, and I suspected what was in Liang Rong’s room. When she unlocked the lock, she turned her body towards Liang Rong’s bedroom and turned her back to the study room deliberately. Later, she found out that when we were in the study room, her voice became nervous, so I was sure that Liang Rong’s study room was the scene of the crime.”
Lu Heng stared at Wang Yanqing, and calmly swept across her calm eyes, straight nose, and narrow jawline. He was just experimenting, but unexpectedly, she surprised him more than expected.
Lu Heng spoke slowly and asked: “However, people saw Liang Rong go out, but you said that Liang Rong was killed at home. That being the case, how can you explain Liang Rong going out?”
Wang Yanqing’s eyes were dark, dotted on her plain white face, lustrous and glossy like ink jade, she paused for a while, and said abruptly: “I suspect that the one who went out that day was not the real Liang Rong.”
Lu Heng raised his eyebrows and asked slowly: “Oh?”
“The maid said that Liang Rong went out very early that day, and did not talk to others on the way. Looking at the maid’s surprised tone, this should have been a very uncommon thing in the past. A person’s behavior generally does not change unless that person is not him. The person pretending to be Liang Rong must be the murderer. The murderer went to great lengths to make a show, mostly to cover up a certain time. So I tried to ask about the sixteenth day of the eleventh month, but Madam Liang Shi listed Liang Rong’s itinerary that day without even thinking about it.”
Before Wang Yanqing finished speaking, Lu Heng began to laugh. Wang Yanqing glanced to the side and said unhappily: “What are you laughing at?”
When Lu Heng didn’t speak, his eyes were full of brilliance. At this moment, because of his laugh, his eyes held a sheen of water, his peach blossom eyes sparkled and glittered more and more like stars: “That’s why you asked Madam Liang Shi what time her stepson went to bed at night?”
When Lu Heng heard Wang Yanqing say this sentence, he almost died of laughter. She even dares say this. At that time, Wang Yanqing was thinking about tracking down the clues and didn’t think much about it. Who would have imagined that they were diverging in this direction. When Lu Heng pointed it out at this moment, she became angry with embarrassment, and said with a blank face: “Are you still listening? I’m done with you.”
Lu Heng quickly restrained himself and coaxed Wang Yanqing: “Well, blame me for my bad thoughts, I won’t say it anymore. What about after?”
|| Translator’s Note: Thanks for the patience, I just finished a cross country move! But I will try harder to post every week because it was just announced that this book will have a film version. I can’t wait to see how this will turn out in drama form!