TIGR Chapter 23
The Imperial Guard’s Revenge
Chapter 23 Interrogation
No torture and having everyone leave? One of the officers couldn’t hold back and reasoned: “Liang Bin’s mouth is shut tight to the extreme and he refuses to speak. When the instruments of torture are removed, the truth will become even more impossible to reveal.”
“Yes.” Another person responded softly, “There has never been such an interrogation method.”
Wang Yanqing knew that she was new face and a woman, none of these people would listen to her. She looked at Lu Heng. Lu Heng’s expression remained unchanged and he said: “Do as she says.”
Several Imperial Guards had resentful expressions on their faces, but no matter how dissatisfied they were, they did not dare not to obey Lu Heng’s orders. They went into the cell to move things around as Wang Yanqing stood at the intersection, watching the black-colored terrifying torture instruments pass by in front of her. She didn’t even dare think about what they were used for, and patiently avoided eye contact.
Lu Heng stood beside her. His face was indifferent, as if this was something that was very common. The last Imperial Guard came out. He quickly glanced at Wang Yanqing and raised his fists to Lu Heng: “Commander, everything is arranged inside.”
Lu Heng gave a “hmm”, lowered his head and asked Wang Yanqing: “Qing Qing, can you go in by yourself? Do you need me to accompany you?”
Wang Yanqing shook her head: “It’s fine. Liang Bin doesn’t know me, but he knows you. He knows that you are the commander, so he will be on guard, and there will be some things he won’t say. It’s enough for me to go in by myself.”
Since Wang Yanqing said no, Lu Heng did not insist again. He nodded and said: “I’m right outside. If the situation goes wrong, call me immediately.”
Wang Yanqing should be fine. She didn’t care about those beside her who clearly displayed obvious suspicion at her plans, and quietly walked inside. After she left, an Imperial Guard walked to Lu Heng’s side with a hesitant expression on his face: “Commander, Liang Bin comes from a Thousand Household. He is thoughtful, smart and vicious, and he is much more knowledgeable than the ordinary person. If she goes in to interrogate him, won’t Liang Bin pull information from her instead.”
Lu Heng did not comment. He raised his eyes, until his line of sight silently fell upon the back of the graceful figure in front of him. There was a gloomy wind in the prison, and the torches on the walls flickered bright and dim. The flames swept across one side of his face, half of which was as white as jade, and the other half was hidden in darkness, like a ghost.
Lu Heng’s voice floated softly as he asked: “Is the darkroom ready?”
The subordinate nodded: “Our brothers are ready, the commander may move.”
Lu Heng casually picked up his robe and strode towards the darkroom: “It’s up to her to decide who is trapping whom.”
The prison was gloomy and dusky, and it concealed many places for hiding. Sometimes you couldn’t see people in the passage, but you could see everything from the darkroom. Liang Bin’s cell was one of the places that could be monitored by the darkroom.
Lu Heng walked into the dark room, and when the people below saw, they immediately moved from their seats politely. Lu Heng waved his hand, indicating that they needn’t rise, and slowly walked to the dark window.
At this moment, outside the window, Wang Yanqing was opening the door of Liang Bin’s cell and entering quietly. The Imperial Guard that just withdrew unlocked Liang Bin’s cell, so Wang Yanqing could open it with just a pull.
There was a man sitting in the corner, his limbs were chained, and he sat on a haystack with his head down. If he heard someone coming in, he didn’t raise his eyes. After spending a day in prison, his appearance quickly became haggard. There were bruises on his face, which should have been left from the Imperial Guard’s interrogation before Liang Wen Shi committed suicide.
Wang Yanqing entered the door, looked around at the environment in the cell, and said: “It’s really cold here. Can that pile of hay keep out the cold?”
A woman’s voice suddenly sounded in the cell and Liang Bin raised his head and glanced up. When he saw Wang Yanqing, he lowered his head again, showing a lack of interest and a refusal to cooperate. Wang Yanqing was not annoyed at being ignored. She took two steps into the cell and saw that there was some ice in the corner, and vague mouse holes around. There was an armchair in the open space, which was placed when the Imperial Guards were extorting a confession. Because Wang Yanqing wanted to come in, they didn’t move it out.
Fortunately, she was wearing thick-soled boots, otherwise she would definitely not be able to stand. Wang Yanqing thought this and opened her mouth to say: “You should know that your mother has already hanged herself.”
Hearing this, Liang Bin finally reacted. He raised his head, his eyes were red and his jaw clenched tightly. He asked numbly and fiercely: “Are you here to taunt me in place of them? I have already said that I don’t know anything.”
Taunt? Wang Yanqing said nothing, thinking that this word was very interesting. She smiled and sat on the wooden chair next to her. She clasped her hands on her knees, lowered her eyes, and looked at Liang Bin as much as possible: “I’m sorry about your mother, my condolences.”
The flesh on Liang Bin’s cheeks twitched, as if he thought this was a new type of torture method. First find a woman to make him relax, and then use torture. Liang Bin turned his face away, still any sort of emotion did not enter his manner.
However, Wang Yanqing didn’t rush to ask about the case. Instead, like having a discussion with a next door friend, she said to Liang Bin: “You and your mother had a good relationship, right? I heard people say that when you were young, you were smart and quick to learn everything. You could recite a thousand-character script at the age of four, and you could recite hundreds of ancient poems at the age of five. Is this true?”
Liang Bin looked surprised, obviously not understanding what Wang Yanqing was doing. At this time, there was a knock on the door behind him. Wang Yanqing turned around and saw an Imperial Guard standing outside the wooden fence holding a cushion in his hand. He clasped his fists at Wang Yanqing, and said: “Miss Wang, I did poorly when I moved things just now. I forgot to get you a cushion.
Wang Yanqing stood up and said in surprise: “Thank you. She wanted to take the object from the Imperial Guard, but the Imperial Guard avoided her movements and said with his eyes lowered: “I don’t dare bother Miss to do it. Miss, please continue.”
The Imperial Guard spread out Wang Yanqing’s seat, firmly pressed the four corners, and then saluted and retreated. Wang Yanqing was sitting on a much thicker seat, and she really couldn’t feel the coldness anymore. Although there was no evidence, Wang Yanqing subconsciously felt that this was something Lu Heng ordered.
How did he know she was sitting on a cold chair, could he see? Since she could see, why make a fuss. She sat on the chair and didn’t sit on the ground. How could she catch cold after just a moment?
Wang Yanqing’s mind was confused, and Liang Bin on the opposite side also stared at her with a surprised look, not knowing what drugs they were selling in the gourd. Wang Yanqing quickly pushed away her thoughts, concentrating again. She stared at Liang Bin and asked: “Since you are so talented, why didn’t you study for the exam?”
Government and military officials were two systems in the Ming Dynasty. Government officials studied from an early age, and only after passing the examinations could they become officials in the dynasty, while military officials were hereditary. If the fathers were generals, the sons would be generals. If the fathers were soldiers, their children and grandchildren would also follow suit when they grew up.
Liang Bin, like Lu Heng, was from an Imperial Guard family, but the Liang family was not as long-established as the Lu family, and their position was not as high as the Lu family. However, being born in the Imperial Guards did not mean that you couldn’t take the path of a government official. As long as you could pass the imperial examination, you could still be an official.
Liang Bin lowered his head, clutched the hay under him, and said: “I was sent to a private school when I was a kid, but then I couldn’t keep up, so I forgot about it.”
The imperial examination was a single-plank bridge crossed by thousands of troops and horses. In the village and home of a government official there were many smart children. Liang Bin could memorize poems when he was a child, but that did not mean that he would be able to keep up when he grew up. After studying for two years, the content of the scriptures became more and more boring, and Liang Bin couldn’t do the hard work of a scholar, so he slowly stopped.
After all, if there was already a ready-made official position in the family, who would want to work hard for ten years?
Wang Yanqing nodded, as if she had forgotten her purpose, and was really talking with Liang Bin about his family: “It’s a pity. Do you remember the year you entered the private school?”
Liang Bin sat leaning on the corner of the wall, his eyes floating slightly to the upper right, and said uncertainly: “It seemed to be the second year of Jiajing.”
Wang Yanqing made a sound of response, and then asked: “Which month?”
“The third month.”
“So it turned out to be in the spring. Wang Yanqing couldn’t help but think of the spring of the second year of Jiajing. At that time, she should have come to the capital to study and practice martial arts with Second Brother, but in reality, her memory of the Lu family was empty, with not even a shadow. Wang Yanqing interrupted after thinking for a moment. She continued to look at Liang Bin’s face and asked: “What did you learn after entering the private school, do you remember the first article?”
Liang Bin thought Wang Yanqing was really weird. She came with Commander Lu, and she appeared in the cell late at night. Was it just to chat and recall the past with him? Liang Bin didn’t know why, so he just picked up a few words and recited them to Wang Yanqing.
After listening, Wang Yanqing stroked her palms and said: “It’s been so long, but you can still recite it from memory. You have a really good memory. If you continued to study in the private school, you may have been able to hold a title today.”
Liang Bin reluctantly smiled when he heard this, but he surely did not feel happy. Wang Yanqing seemed to open up like a chatterbox and said: “Being able to recite text from memory is good, and you must have learned martial arts quickly. A clever child like you must have been very pleasing to the elders, right? How was your relationship with your father?”
After Wang Yanqing came in, she did not shout or attack, nor did she mock and ridicule, but rather asked him warmly about his childhood. Wang Yanqing’s attitude was so kind that Liang Bin was embarrassed to keep putting down his cold face. His attitude melted unconsciously as he recalled the past with Wang Yanqing’s words.
When he was young, he was very loved by his father. His eldest brother was reclusive and gloomy. He didn’t like wielding knives or handling guns. He didn’t even properly read the classic books in Confucianism well, which always made his father angry. On the other hand, he was lively and smart, and he showed excellent athletic talent from a very young age. He was good at running, jumping, and swordsmanship. His father liked him very much and often held him by his side. He regretted that he was not the eldest son.
He had a dignified and loving father and a young and pampered mother, which could be described as having a perfect family. If it were not for those brothers and sisters.
Liang Bin felt sad, lowered his eyes, and said: “My father and I had a very good relationship. My father valued me very much, and I have been working hard to get his approval.”
Wang Yanqing stared at the expression on Liang Bin’s face. His eyes drooped, his lips pursed slightly, the muscles at the corners of his mouth were down, and his arms encircled himself. Wang Yanqing got an idea, and finally began to ask about the case: “My condolences. On the sixteenth day of last month, your eldest brother Liang Rong was murdered. What were you doing that day?”
The muscles on Liang Bin’s face tightened for an instant, and the small movements such as pursing his mouth and lowering his eyes disappeared. His face was rigid and stiff, and like a wooden man he said: “I didn’t do anything, as usual.”
“Starting from the time you got up in the morning, repeat everything you did that day.
|| Translator’s Note: In the following recollection, the author distinguishes time through a system of 2 hour divisions that was used in former times. Below I have translated the times into English and added notes following every paragraph where time was indicated using the above system. Good Luck.
Liang Bin had no choice but to recall it all one by one: “I got up before dawn, had breakfast in the room, went to greet my mother, had a conversation with her, and then went back to the house to stay until noon…” || Maoshi (卯时) 5-7 am.
Wang Yanqing didn’t wait for Liang Bin to finish speaking, and interrupted: “When did you go to greet Liang Wen Shi?”
Liang Bin thought for a while and said: “Around sunrise.” || Chenshi (辰时) 7-9 am.
Wang Yanqing nodded: “Continue.”
Liang Bin struggled to pick up what he just said: “It was the same in the afternoon. I slept for a while and then went outside to find friends…”
“When did you go out?”
“I can’t remember, roughly afternoon.” || Weishi (未时) 1-3 pm.
Wang Yanqing nodded softly and asked: “When did you have lunch?”
The more times she asked, the more he had to recall, Liang Bin could only go back and think: “Just the usual time for lunch, noon.” || Wushi (午时) 11-1 pm.
“Who were the people who ate that day?”
“Mother, me, Eldest Brother, and Eldest Sister.” Liang Bin quickly pursed his lower lip and said, “The rule left by my father was for the whole family to eat lunch together.”
Wang Yanqing responded softly and said: “Go on.”
Liang Bin thought for a while before he picked up what he was saying, and slowly said: “I stayed at a friend’s house all afternoon, and after a few tricks with him, I saw that it was almost dark, and I came back.”
Liang Bin paused for a moment after speaking, thinking that Wang Yanqing would ask a question, but Wang Yanqing made no statement. Liang Bin had no choice but to continue: “I returned home just in time for dinner. After the meal, I went back to my house and stayed by myself. I was sweating all over that afternoon. I came home very tired that night, so I went to bed very early after washing up.”
Liang Bin’s tone was slow, with no ups and downs, as if he was describing a boring and long day. Wang Yanqing asked: “What time was it after you returned to your house?”
Liang Bin looked at Wang Yanqing steadily, his eyes flickering and avoiding: “Evening.” || Xushi (戌时) 7-9 pm.
Wang Yanqing also looked back at him steadily and asked: “When did you go to bed?”
“Early in the night.” || Haishi (亥时) 9-11 pm.
Did you go out between those times?”
Liang Bin didn’t even think about it, and quickly said: “No.”
Wang Yanqing nodded slowly. She lowered her head and fiddled with her small heater. After a long time, the fire core in the heater was a little weak. She seemed to forget that she was interrogating Liang Bin, and after a long pause, she finally remembered that Liang Bin was still there: “Sorry, I forgot that you were still waiting. This hand stove is not very easy to use, please forgive me. Your house is opposite Liang Rong. Did you hear anything unusual that night before you went to bed?”
“Your mother said that she killed Liang Rong. When did she go to Liang Rong’s house?”
Liang Bin lowered his eyes, the expression on his face became resistant, and he said stiffly: “I don’t know.”
“It was also a coincidence that Liang Fu went to the front yard just before and after the incident. She knocked on the door outside Liang Rong’s door. At that time, the murderer was committing the act in the house. Didn’t you hear a loud noise?”
Liang Bin’s eyes were indifferent, and the flesh on his face did not move: “I was asleep and don’t know anything.”
Wang Yanqing pursed her lips and smiled, and said: “Liang Rong was reading a book before he died, but there were no scattered books in the room. This book would have been put away by the murderer. Do you know the name of that book?”
Liang Bin’s face seemed to be wearing a mask, and his voice did not fluctuate: “I wasn’t there. I don’t know.”
“You both eat and live together the whole day, didn’t Liang Rong mention it to you?”
Liang Bin said coldly: “No.”
Wang Yanqing raised her eyebrows and did not comment. Suddenly she changed her tone and asked, “Liang Rong died of suffocation. How do you think your mother covered Liang Rong to death? Using clothes, towels, pillows, or something else?”
Liang Bin’s gaze was still on the ground and his face did not change, but his shoulders tightened: “I don’t know.”
Wang Yanqing stared at him carefully and said slowly: “What is the expression of a person when he suffocates? His eyes will widen, his face will turn red and then purple, and as his hands are struggling, he will die. Although the methods of being covered to death and hanging are different, the reaction in suffocation is similar. Your mother hanged herself. When she died, she was in as much pain as Liang Rong.”
Liang Bin suddenly shouted, covering his eyes with both arms, and yelled: “Stop talking, I don’t know anything.”
Liang Bin had iron chains on his hands and feet, and Wang Yanqing was not worried that he would attack her. She stood up, looking at Liang Bin before her, who was holding himself firmly in a ball, and said: “Liang Bin, you are lying. You even remember the articles you learned when you first entered the private school. How can you not remember Liang Rong’s book? You actually know everything. You know that it was not Liang Wen Shi who went to Liang Rong’s house that day. You know when Liang Fu knocked on the door. You also know that the bead at the door was not left by your mother when she killed the person, but you did something wrong and went to your mother to find help. In order to help you cover up the traces, your mother stepped on it in a panic when she moved the body. Now that you have succeeded, your mother committed suicide in order to take the blame for you. Your father is dead, your brother is dead, and your sister has been destroyed to clear her name. Now even your mother is dead, and you are the only one left alive in the whole family.”
Liang Bin was provoked and recklessly attacked all around himself, but he was firmly trapped by the iron chain. When the Imperial Guard outside the prison heard the movement inside, he stepped forward with his knife, trying to rescue Wang Yanqing. Wang Yanqing didn’t leave, she took a few steps back, avoiding the mad Liang Bin, and still continued: “Would you rather the Imperial Guards punish you to alleviate your guilt? Unfortunately, you won’t get what you want. The Liang family is falling apart, and the family is ruined because of you. You must remember that not only did you kill Liang Rong, but even your mother was killed by your own hands.”
Liang Bin covered his face and yelled. An Imperial Guard stepped forward and stabbed him heavily on the crook of his leg. As soon as Liang Bin’s legs became weak, he fell forward uncontrollably, followed by a severe pain in his shoulders. Before he could react, the Imperial Guard pulled his hands back and dragged him to the ground.
His face was against the cold and hard ground, his neck seemed to be broken, and he couldn’t even look up. In his rickety field of vision, he saw a pair of light gray boots gradually approaching. A woman stopped in front of him. She was cold and beautiful, spotless, and as clean as the Goddess of Mercy who saved the suffering. She bent down with her skirt up, looked directly at him, and sighed with pity in her eyes: “Dare to do it or not, how are you different from a vile person? You still understand the grace of kneeling on your breast. Is this how you repay your mother who loved you since you were a child?”
Wang Yanqing stared at Liang Bin’s face and gave the final blow: “Your father obviously has high hopes for you. If he knew what you did, what would he think of you under Jiuquan?
|| Jiuquan (九泉) is like the English Hell. Refers to the depths of the ground. The place where the dead are buried is in hell.”
Liang Bin’s eyes were empty, big tears flowed from the corners of his eyes, and his heart completely collapsed: “I have let my mother down.”
|| Author’s Note:
Special talent in prison-Qingqing.