TIGR Chapter 29
The Imperial Guard’s Revenge
Chapter 29 Questioning
The jailer listened respectfully. He lowered his head and replied: “Yes.”
When the people in the prison heard Lu Heng’s words, they couldn’t stop feeling nervous, thinking that whatever Commander Lu was going to do would be big. But in fact, they had wrongly accused Lu Heng. At least this time, Lu Heng did not intend to raise the punishment.
The Imperial Prison extended in all directions. The ghostly atmosphere was eerie, and the reek of blood lingered all year. Lu Heng took Wang Yanqing in one direction. Although he didn’t speak, through the increasingly quiet environment and the spacious cells on both sides, it was not difficult to guess that they had reached the place where the high-ranking officials were being held. Unconsciously, Wang Yanqing became serious, and her palms clenched tightly.
Finally, Lu Heng stopped in front of a prison door. It was a single room with a sky window and a charcoal basin in the corner. It was much cleaner than the cell where Liang Bin was held before, and even the grass on the ground was much thicker. A man in an inner robe sat under the skylight in a daze, looking around the age of forty with a slightly bloated figure. Hearing that someone was coming, he turned his head impatiently and was startled when he saw Lu Heng.
Immediately, he reacted. The corner of his mouth raised, his expression turned sarcastic, and he snorted forcefully: “It’s you. What other tricks are you all up to?”
Lu Heng stood in front and the firelight quickly passed over his red flying fish robe. The python-like embroidery on it was particularly eerie, and the bronze bell-like eyes on his chest seemed to be staring at people. All Zhao Huai’s attention was drawn away by Lu Heng, so he didn’t notice that behind Lu Heng, there was a slender and weak figure completely covered by a cloak.
Wang Yanqing wore Lu Heng’s garment and carefully examined the person in the prison. Zhao Huai deliberately showed disdain, but the muscles at the corners of his mouth were stiff, and his raised voice seemed too deliberate. His eyes widened, a fold was drawn between his eyebrows and eyelids, and his shoulders and arms were stiff and motionless.
Clearly, this was not contempt, but fear. He made a seemingly tough fake expression, but he was actually covering up the fear in his heart.
He was afraid that the Imperial Guards would come to interrogate him, and especially that Lu Heng would do something to him.
Judging his true emotions, half of the remaining problems had been solved. His first reaction confirmed Wang Yanqing’s guess about him. He was vain, conceited, and had high self-esteem. In reality, his heart was weak and he was greedy for life while afraid of death. Such people would never hide huge amounts of stolen money outside.
Wang Yanqing didn’t know if Lu Heng saw through Zhao Huai’s bravado, but she heard Lu Heng chuckle softly and say calmly: “Master Zhao, it’s been a long time. You have stayed in the prison for so long, and I, as the host, have not entertained you. Forgive me. Come and open the door and I will catch up with Master Zhao.”
Zhao Huai gave a cold snort, raised his neck high, and looked daring and fearless: “A man of character can support both heaven and earth, he is the example of the whole world. How can that be you? Even if you kill this old man, this old man will never frown.”
As Lu Heng spoke, the Imperial Guard subordinates quickly took out the key and opened the prison door. His subordinates pushed open the prison door with a heavy slam, and Lu Heng stopped outside the door with his hands behind his back. He didn’t come in or leave, and he looked at Zhao Huai calmly, with a leisurely tone: “Master Zhao has a good backbone. I hope that after a while, Master Zhao can still be this tough.”
Zhao Huai’s face changed slightly, but he still insisted on not falling behind. He stood up from the haystack and said imposingly: “Lu Heng, you have murdered good and loyal people. You have taken the side of the evildoer and sooner or later you will be punished! When Jiang Bin was the commander of the Imperial Guards, he was also very satisfied and extraordinary, but later, he was dismembered by five horses and died in the downtown area. The Jiang family’s property was confiscated and the eldest son was beheaded. The plot was drawn to show the world that the young son’s wife and daughter were not inferior. They were assigned as servants to the slave of a minister’s family. That was Jiang Bin’s yesterday, how do you know it’s not your tomorrow!”
Lu Heng was listening with a smile, he was tired of listening to these words. No matter how fierce other people scolded him in the past, he only took it as a joke, but today, he was a little angry for some reason. Lu Heng stepped into the cell, and his clean soap leather boots fell to the ground, making a rhythmic sound: “Master Zhao is so excited. Is it because he is afraid that I will find out the evidence of your collusion with the eunuch, so you and your family will be ruined before me?”
“You!” Zhao Huai glared at Lu Heng and flicked his sleeves, “You are savage. I, Zhao Huai, am worthy of the sky, and I am not ashamed of others so others come frame me? If you don’t believe it, check it out.”
“Master Zhao reminds me and I will investigate it thoroughly.” Lu Heng paced slowly and said, “It’s almost the end of the year, and the ground is cold. Bring two chairs for Master Zhao.”
When Zhao Huai heard this, his face tightened. He thought that the “chair” Lu Heng was referring to was a torture tool. Lu Heng looked back and saw Zhao Huai’s face, and smiled sarcastically: “Master Zhao, you just spoke aloud righteously, I thought you were not afraid. Now that you have a clear conscience, what are you afraid of now?”
Zhao Huai’s answer was just a cold snort, and his face hardened. The person who moved the things came back soon after. This time, to Zhao Huai’s surprise, what Lu Heng asked someone to move was actually two wooden chairs.
The Imperial Guard put the seat next to Zhao Huai. When Zhao Huai saw this, the expression on his face was surprised and suspicious: “Lu Heng, what tricks are you going to play?”
“Master Zhao, don’t be nervous.” Lu Heng held the back of the other chair with one hand and pulled it in front of Zhao Huai with ease, “I’m here tonight, just to catch up with Master Zhao.”
Catch up? Zhao Huai didn’t believe it. Anyone may be soft-hearted and compassionate, but Lu Heng would never do anything unprofitable. Zhao Huai stared at Lu Heng tightly, trying to judge his true intentions. Lu Heng was not annoyed by being scrutinized with such eyes, he just smiled softly at Zhao Huai and pointed his finger at the opposite seat.
“Master Zhao, sit.”
Zhao Huai thought to himself that he was Zheng Sanpin Shilang, a student of Master Shoufu. No matter how arrogant Lu Heng was, would he dare to offend Shoufu? After Zhao Huai thought about it, he grandly sat on the wooden chair and looked at Lu Heng arrogantly: “Tell me, what tricks do you have.”
Lu Heng just smiled and said, “None, I just want to ask Master Zhao a few questions. However, I will not be asking.”
After speaking, he turned around and looked at Wang Yanqing quietly: “Qing Qing, Master Zhao is ready.”
Lu Heng suddenly spoke in another direction. Zhao Huai followed and turned his head, only to find that there was another person in the cell. Wang Yanqing took off her hood, greeted Zhao Huai with a thousand blessings, and walked slowly to her seat: “Master Zhao, a girl of the people is taking the liberty.”
When Zhao Huai saw that it was actually a woman, he was startled at first, then furious. He stood up angrily and scolded: “Lu Heng, what is the meaning of this? This official is a third-rank official of the court. Do you despise this official and the court by asking a woman to come and question me?”
Lu Heng patted Wang Yanqing on the shoulder, and after handing him over to her, he turned away without saying a word. Zhao Huai became angrier when he saw that Lu Heng had completely ignored him. Wang Yanqing was not frightened by Zhao Huai’s anger. She remained calm and gentle and said: “Master Zhao, the people’s daughter is not disrespectful to you, but she has long admired Master Zhao’s reputation and wanted to have a few words with Master Zhao. If Master Zhao is not corrupt, why don’t you dare to accept the invitation?”
Zhao Huai laughed when he heard this. He was not a young man like Liang Bin who had never been in the world. His mind had already been honed and matured in the officialdom, and he would not be trapped by Wang Yanqing’s aggressive methods: “Who are you, and what qualifications do you have to question this official?”
Wang Yanqing took the initiative to sit down in the chair, made an inviting gesture to Zhao Huai, and said: “I don’t dare to offend Master Zhao. On behalf of Commander Lu, I promised that I would only ask ten questions, and leave after asking. I will never pester the Master again. If Master Zhao is unwilling, you do not need to answer.”
Lu Heng stood outside the prison door with his arms folded. Having heard what she said, he did not speak. Guo Tao’s face changed. When he tried to prevent her, Lu Heng raised his hand slightly to stop him.
Wang Yanqing, on her own initiative, guaranteed the Imperial Guards’ actions. When Zhao Huai heard that this woman would ask ten questions, and even if there was no answer, he would not be punished. He sneered in his heart, sat across from the chair with rare cooperation, and said sarcastically: “You’ve overestimated yourself.”
Wang Yanqing hooked her lips and smiled, but did not refute. Her eyes were calm, but her mind was engrossed in capturing the fluctuations on his face, not letting go of the slightest change: “The first question, Master Zhao, Zhang Yong sent money to ask you to do things. You accepted it, didn’t you?”
With obvious disdain and indignation on his face, Zhao Huai reprimanded: “Nonsense, this officer has a clear conscience and has a clean heart. How could he do such a thing?”
Wang Yanqing stared at his face and said: “You accepted it. Second question, you hid the gold and silver at home, didn’t you?”
Zhao Huai glared angrily and stared at Wang Yanqing coldly: “Ridiculous. Do you know what the crime is of falsely accusing court officials?”
“Definitely at home.” Wang Yanqing glanced over Zhao Huai’s face and asked: “Third, is it in the garden?”
Zhao Huai stopped talking, holding his head high, with a plain expression. However, Wang Yanqing got the answer from the smile that flashed across the corner of his mouth. He was secretly delighted, indicating that this direction was completely wrong.
Wang Yanqing stared at Zhao Huai, who wore a proud face, and the two faced each other faintly. It didn’t take long for the cell to be quiet, and Wang Yanqing’s unhurried voice sounded again: “Fourth, do you often visit those things and reflect on them?”
Zhao Huai rolled his eyes in disdain as if mocking their loss. Guo Tao was a little anxious. What in the world was this woman doing? Four questions had passed, and she hadn’t asked about a single key point. It was a waste of opportunity!
There was a faint commotion outside the cell, and Lu Heng glanced behind to signal them to be quiet. Then, he turned back and looked at Wang Yanqing intently and seriously. As if he didn’t know that this was an occasion related to his career or even his life. There was still only Wang Yanqing in his eyes.
Wang Yanqing noticed that Zhao Huai’s pupils were dilated and the skin on his face turned white. Even though he was parading his victory, the frozen reaction of Zhao Huai’s body told her that she was right again. The four consecutive questions greatly helped Wang Yanqing narrow down the scope. She calmed down and tried the next questions one by one: “In your bedroom?”
Zhao Huai didn’t answer. Wang Yanqing looked at his face and asked: “In the study?”
Zhao Huai’s face was tense and expressionless, but he swallowed slightly. Wang Yanqing stared at him for a while, then got up without saying a word, and quickly walked outside the cell. Lu Heng stood outside the door with his arms crossed over his chest and glanced at Zhao Huai with a smile. He turned around, strode out, and firmly ordered: “Take someone to search his study.”
|| Author’s Note:
Qing Qing: I only need to ask ten questions, you can leave them unanswered because I will get the answers myself.
Qing Qing: Sorry, I don’t need ten.