TIGR Chapter 55
The Imperial Guard’s Revenge
Chapter 55 Grievances
The officials delivered their greetings and withdrew in succession of their rankings. While waiting to come forward, Chen Yin looked at Lu Heng and his face immediately turned cold, his eyes like knives. Zhang Jinggong and Li Shi stood on the pavilion pretending not to see. Zhang Jinggong said with a smile that was not quite a smile: “Commander Lu is really not afraid of tigers. Before even seeing the accuser, he said that the case would be solved within three days, it is an eye-opener for me.”
Lu Heng smiled respectfully at Zhang Jinggong, and said humbly: “My performance has brought interest from the Head Auxiliary.”
Zhang Jinggong was a scholar, even if he was gloating about misfortune, he mocked with decency. Later, Li Shi, Xia Wenjin, Yan Wei, and others may not be at peace with Zhang Jinggong, but at this moment, they were blindly following along, suspended and watching from the wall.
This was the Ming Dynasty Hall, where government officials and military officials fought. Among military officers, the Imperial Guards and nobles fought, and even within both the Imperial guards and nobles, there was fighting. The same was true for government officials. Differences in family backgrounds, places of origin, and teachers all formed different factions. As a result, there were many factions in the court and conflicts between parties. If someone wanted to handle a matter, not many people were willing to help them, but there was no doubt that many people were waiting to pick up the matter after their failure.
This time, Lu Heng completely broke his standing with Chen Yin. It was either him or Chen Yin and now Lu Heng didn’t expect Chen Yin to be merciful to him at all. However, in addition to the Imperial Guards, there were also many malicious eyes, waiting for Lu Heng’s carriage to flip over.
It was just that Lu Heng had been so hard-edged during this period of time. In the twelfth month last year, he almost looted the cabinet’s reserve of successors, and even Head Auxiliary, Yang Yingning, was brought down by him. Although Zhang Jinggong did the impeachment, the knife was handed over by Lu Heng, and when they planned their revenge, they would not miss him.
At the beginning of this year, he made another big move. Few people knew that Lu Heng entered the palace to investigate the haunted case in the East Palace, but the matter of his investigation of the Zhang brothers, which led to the removal of the Duke of Chang Guo and the Marquis of Jianchang, was well known in the city. The emperor remembered his merits in his heart, but others may not.
Now, Lu Heng took the initiative to come out and take complete charge of a case, and also issued a military order, guaranteeing that the case would be solved within three days. The officials at the scene almost ran out to set off firecrackers. How could they miss such a good opportunity?
Lu Heng knew that many people were trying to make trouble for him and this case would not be easy. But amid wealth and danger, in his world, there was only the peak and extinction, there was no middle ground.
Lu Heng did not intend to waste time, he paid his respects to all the scholars and said: “I am under the order of the emperor to investigate the case, and the time is pressing, so I will not stay. Elders take care, I will leave first.”
Lu Heng cupped his hands, turned to Chen Yin, and said respectfully: “Supervisor Chen Du, I will retire.”
After Lu Heng finished speaking, he turned and left, ignoring what the people behind said about him. He had a good memory and clearly remembered that the grievances came from the southwest corner. He rushed to the west wall of the hall as quickly as possible, but as soon as he turned the corner, his eyes became cold.
Many soldiers in hooded armor surrounded the front. Through the densely packed legs and armor, he could see two women with white cloths in their mouths, tied to the ground by ropes, shivering, and huddled together. And the leader among the soldiers was Fu Tingzhou.
If it weren’t for the wrong occasion, Lu Heng would have wanted to laugh. What kind of evil fate did he have with Fu Tingzhou, that they met again so soon. With so many officers accompanying him, he must have been the one who caught the civilian woman.
Fu Tingzhou turned around when he heard a voice, and when he saw Lu Heng, his face also became cold. Lu Heng approached, glanced at the civilian women behind the soldiers, and said with a smile: “Marquis of Zhenyuan, it’s been a long time. Just now the emperor heard someone shouting their grievances in the hall and sent me out to take a look. I didn’t know who reacted so quickly. It turns out to be the Marquis of Zhenyuan.”
Today, Fu Tingzhou and the Marquis of Wuding exchanged words. He was in a bad mood and didn’t want to go back to his room to stay by himself, so he patrolled the palace wall. When he was thinking about it, he suddenly heard someone shouting their grievances, and Fu Tingzhou hurried over and caught the two.
Although the palace was heavily guarded, everything was prepared hastily, and the crowd was cluttered, making it difficult to completely distinguish between everyone, and somehow, two people managed to get in. Fortunately, Fu Tingzhou arrived in time, and they were arrested after only shouting one sentence. Fu Tingzhou thought it would not reach the palace, and he never thought that the emperor would hear it.
Judging from Lu Heng’s appearance, this matter was likely left to him. Fu Tingzhou’s expression remained unmoved, and he said: “It’s just my duty as an official. Commander Lu is not escorting the emperor. What are you doing here?”
Lu Heng displayed his token of the Imperial Guards to Fu Tingzhou, nodded slightly, and said: “The emperor cares about the people and ordered me to investigate the grievances. Thank you Marquis of Zhenyuan for your help, I will take them away.”
Lu Heng spoke and motioned to the Imperial Guards behind him to take the two women away. Fu Tingzhou squinted his eyes and suddenly said: “How Commander Lu handles the errand, I have no intention of intervening. But how do you know that when they complain about their grievances, they actually do have evidence of injustice? What if they just used this as an excuse to approach the palace, with the intention of assassination?”
Lu Heng knew that Fu Tingzhou would do this. If it was someone else and Lu Heng made this request, who would dare not follow? But Fu Tingzhou was different. The grievances between them were not limited to differences in the court. In the third month, Lu Heng openly took Wang Yanqing away and replaced him in front of Fu Tingzhou. After that, he destroyed Fu Tingzhou’s plan to get close to Wang Yanqing several times. Now Fu Tingzhou must hate him so much, how could he let him take these people away?
Fu Tingzhou really didn’t want to let go of this heaven-sent opportunity. It was purely accidental for the two women to rush over and shout their grievances, and it just so happened that Lu Heng took over the case. Fu Tingzhou finally got hold of Lu Heng’s matters, how could he give up this chip? He had accounts to settle with Lu Heng.
It would be even better if he could take the opportunity to exchange Wang Yanqing.
Lu Heng put away the token, and the smile on his lips did not change, but his eyes faintly shone with cold light: “Marquis of Zhenyuan, this is the decree of the emperor. Do you want to disobey the emperor’s order?”
Fu Tingzhou was indifferent, he looked at Lu Heng coldly, and shot right back: “It is also the emperor’s order to protect the safety of the palace. Commander Lu’s words beg to differ, so forgive me if it is hard to follow your request.”
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Lu Heng issued a military order in front of the crowd to solve the case within three days. He didn’t have time to fight with Fu Tingzhou here. Lu Heng glanced behind him and said: “Since the Marquis of Zhenyuan doesn’t believe me, why don’t you join in interrogating these two people, and you’ll know if they are experiencing injustice. What does the Marquis of Zhenyuan think?”
Fu Tingzhou thought about it for a while and agreed. He could use the witnesses to blackmail him, but he couldn’t really hinder Lu Heng from handling the case. After all, this was the emperor’s decree. In the future, if Lu Heng, a lunatic, investigated this case and found a result he did not want, it could not be better for Fu Tingzhou. It was better to follow and see what Lu Heng wanted to do.
Both of them took a step back, temporarily reaching a consensus. But Fu Tingzhou still refused to let him go. He asked the soldiers of the five cities’ Military Division to press the two women forward. Lu Heng didn’t want to waste time and went with him. Just as they were about to set off, the Weihui Mansion prefect ran over with a few aides, panting and shouting: “Commander Lu, please stay.”
Lu Heng turned back and Prefect Cheng stopped in front of Lu Heng, wiping the sweat from his forehead. Out of breath, he said: “Commander Lu, it’s all because the subordinate officials are ineffective and disturbed the emperor. I do not dare to let Commander Lu get tired, so the two should be handed over to me for interrogation. I will find out what happened, and will never delay Master Lu’s return.”
This now concerned Lu Heng’s life, how could he let them go? Lu Heng said lightly: “Prefect Cheng manages so many people, how can you know everything? You don’t have to feel bad about it, I can just check it out.”
Prefect Cheng still refused, and repeatedly said that he did not dare to bother. In most situations, Lu Heng would not listen to other people’s disagreements when investigating a case, but this was Weihui, without the cooperation of local officials, he would never find out the cause and effects within three days. Lu Heng thought to himself that Fu Tingzhou was one more anyway, and he didn’t care about another one, so he said: “I was going to a quiet room to begin questioning with the Marquis of Zhenyuan, since Prefect Cheng is not at ease, let’s go together.”
When Prefect Cheng heard this, he knew that he could no longer stop the Imperial Guards from intervening, and he had no choice but to agree.
The emperor’s southern patrol brought more than fifteen thousand people. Ordinary soldiers camped outside while accompanying officials and servants stayed in the palace. At this moment, it was sunset, and the palace was busy and messy with carriages and horses entering and leaving. It was not difficult to find an empty room to interrogate the suspects. Lu Heng entered first, and Fu Tingzhou looked around and found no ambush, so he followed cautiously.
Prefect Cheng wiped his sweat and followed behind the two.
This building was remote, far from where the emperor stayed, and the people living here were not very high-ranking, so the cleaning was very sloppy, and many places were still covered with dust. The house was three rooms wide, with paintings and calligraphy hanging in the middle of the hall, and a set of Chrysanthemum Pear tables and chairs below, which could be seen to be newly purchased. On the east and west sides hung drapes, which were stacked on the ground, and screens slanted across the back.
Fu Tingzhou frowned as soon as he came in, but this place was far away from the crowd, remote and quiet, and it was just right for interrogation, so Fu Tingzhou had to endure for the time being. Lu Heng should sit in the middle of the hall, so Fu Tingzhou glanced at Lu Heng without making a sound, and sat on the armchair on the right, with Prefect Cheng following carefully behind.
When they were seated, the soldiers pushed up the mother and daughter-in-law, who had been tied up. The soldiers escorted them to their knees in the hall and then took out the white cloth from their mouths. They had never seen this kind of action before, and they had long been frightened.
Lu Heng silently swept over the two of them. Of the two women, one was old and one was young. One was in her forties and the other was in her early twenties. Contrary to expectation, their ages seemed to match their mother and daughter-in-law setup. The old woman was wearing blue coarse cloth clothes and her hair was wrapped in a dark blue cloth. Her face was wrinkled, her knuckles were thick, and her fingers had black cracks. The younger lady had brighter clothes than the old lady, with a wooden hairpin on her head. Her skin was firm, but there were fine bits of dry skin on her cheekbones, and her fingers were the same color as her face and neck.
She looked like a peasant woman, and her skin color matched that of a rural woman who has been exposed to the sun all year round. Lu Heng asked: “Who are you and why did you trespass into the palace?”
Although the old woman didn’t know the people in front of her, judging from their temperament and their clothes, she was afraid they were all high-ranking officials that they couldn’t afford to offend. The old woman was trembling, bowed, and said: “The lady of the people greets the master. My husband’s surname is Liu, and the villagers call me Aunt Liu, who lives in Hegu Village, Qi County. I really had no bad intentions, but my husband and son were gone, and I really had no choice. It was said that the emperor and the empress would pass through here, so I dared to come and complain.”
Prefect Cheng was almost furious when he heard this: “Your husband and son are gone. Just go outside and look for them, who gave you the courage to disturb the emperor.”
Aunt Liu was reprimanded by Prefect Cheng and she was so frightened that she dared not lift her head. Her daughter-in-law shrank behind her, trembling uncontrollably. Lu Heng’s gaze swept across the hall lightly and said: “The emperor loves his people like his own children. He was very concerned when he heard your grievances, so he sent me to inquire about them. Whatever grievances you have, you can speak bluntly now. After I verify that it is correct, I will convey it to the emperor. If you dare to hide it…”
Lu Heng didn’t say the rest, but Aunt Liu fully understood the meaning behind it. It was strange to say that among the officials present, the fat official on the right glared at them, eager to rush at them and tear them to pieces; The other man was taciturn, his face was cold and serious, and he was frightening at just a look; The one sitting alone in the middle, fair-skinned and handsome, with a smile on his mouth, seemed to have the kindest face, but in fact, Aunt Liu was the most afraid of him.
Aunt Liu trembled in her heart and nodded quickly: “I don’t dare to talk nonsense. My daughter-in-law and I came here with all our hardships, just to ask for a clear word, and we would never dare to deceive you.”
Lu Heng said calmly: “I will check if it is true, and if there really is any grievance, I will definitely give you an explanation. Now, tell me everything from the beginning.”
Aunt Liu took a deep breath, stumbled, and said: “In the fourth month of this year, Li Zheng sent a message to every household in the village, saying that the emperor and empress in the palace would pass by us, and the county magistrate asked each household to send two men to help prepare the palace. There were only two men in our family, and father and son followed the people in the village. My daughter-in-law and I can usually deal with things in the fields, but we are about to harvest rice. We expected them every day and night, but we couldn’t wait for them to come back. It was already the seventh month, and the emperor and the empress should be here. Why was the palace still not repaired? We went to the village to ask, but Li Zheng also didn’t know what was going on. Later, Li Zheng took us to the county. After several trips, the county magistrate said that the men in Hegu Village encountered heavy rain on the road and were all washed away by the flood. A village of men was gone.”
Hearing this, Lu Heng quietly glanced at Prefect Cheng: “Prefect Cheng, was there such a thing?”
Prefect Cheng looked embarrassed and hurriedly said: “The emperor’s southern patrol is a major event, Weihui is fortunate to host the entourage, of course, but the palace must be well arranged. I was afraid that the construction period would be too long, so I recruited laborers from all over. However, Weihui has been constantly affected by natural disasters since ancient times. Some time ago, it rained heavily and flash floods broke out in many places. Their team happened to encounter flash floods, and there was nothing they could do.”
Lu Heng asked: “None of them were spared?”
The muscles on Prefect Cheng’s face trembled faintly, and sweat oozed from his forehead: “I don’t know… Forgive me, Master Lu. I will have someone investigate.”
Lu Heng waved his hand and said: “No need. Since no one came back, the whole team would be more unfortunate than expected.”
He looked at the pair of mother and daughter-in-law and asked: “Your husband didn’t come back after he went out. I can understand your grief, but natural disasters are ruthless and far beyond human power. Why are you shouting these grievances?”
Aunt Liu saw that he was discussing matters and his words were quite calm, so she dared to say: “Master, you don’t know anything. Our old Liu Nong was a boatman on the river in his spare time, and he knew the river course very well. My son has also been soaked in the water since he was a child. His swimming abilities are particularly good, and he can swim back and forth in the river. How could both father and son be washed away by the water?”
When Prefect Cheng heard this, he angrily rebuked: “All hair and no substance, you are simply fools! A flash flood broke out rapidly, and people were washed away in the blink of an eye. How would good swimming skills be of any help?”
If you are enjoying the novel, please be sure to support this translation and get direct access to new releases by reading it at the translator’s original website: https://justforfuntrans.com
When the daughter-in-law Liu heard it, she whispered: “My father-in-law is on the water to make a living. He is very cautious when entering the water, and has always warned us to check the weather when we go out. If it was raining heavily, he would never approach the river.”
“This is beyond the reach of foolishness.” Prefect Cheng was furious and scolded, “How can it be the same as usual? At that time, your family was not the only one on the team. How could they be the only ones deciding where and when to go?”
Aunt Liu said: “The county magistrate also said the same thing. After returning to the village, he was persuading us to look away, saying it should have been an accident. We mother and daughter-in-law had already accepted our fate, but since father and son disappeared, the osprey we raised at home disappeared. Two days ago, the osprey suddenly flew back with a cloth strap tied to its claws. I thought the cloth looked familiar, so I took it off and looked at it, and it turned out to be my son’s clothes with the words ‘Save me’ written in blood.”
Prefect Cheng took a small breath, with a choked expression, and was rendered speechless. Hearing this, Lu Heng asked: “Where is it?”
“Here.” Aunt Liu hurriedly flipped through her clothes and took out a blood-stained piece of cloth from her belt. A soldier took the cloth and handed it to Lu Heng. Lu Heng took it over and opened it, and at a glance, he was sure that it was human blood. He lifted his eyelids lightly, stared at Aunt Liu, and asked: “Who knows about this piece of cloth?”
“Only the two of us.” Liu Auntie hurriedly said, “We originally wanted to go to the county magistrate to report the case, but the people in the office rushed us out as soon as they saw us, saying that they went missing in the flood, and not to disturb the county magistrate again. No matter how much we begged, it was useless. In the end, we really had no choice, so we ran outside the palace to see if we could avenge our grievances.”
Lu Heng handed the cloth to his men and motioned them to put it away. Lu Heng looked at Prefect Cheng, whose face was completely white, sweating, and restless.
“Prefect Cheng.” Lu Heng said slowly, “Do you know what is going on here?”
Prefect Cheng opened his mouth but was speechless, clearly clueless about the situation. Lu Heng didn’t want to waste time with him and said: “Prefect Cheng, there seems to be something else wrong with this matter, it may not be an ordinary disappearance. In a while, Prefect Cheng will send the household registration and geographical records of Hegu Village, as well as the disappearance cases in the past three years.”
Prefect Cheng agreed, not daring to speak anymore. After Lu Heng’s preliminary questioning, the next step was to verify the authenticity of the women’s testimony before making further arrangements. He naturally said to the Imperial Guards: “Take them down and have them detained, don’t allow anyone to approach them.”
The Imperial Guards were about to answer when Fu Tingzhou laughed and interrupted Lu Heng mercilessly: “These two people speak clearly. They may not be ordinary women, maybe they are assassins in disguise. Commander Lu wants to check the files, so I’m afraid he won’t have time to take care of the prisoners. I will take watch of them, the two should continue to be guarded by the Military Division.”
The five cities’ Military Division was in charge of the security of the capital, and Fu Tingzhou’s words were also reasonable. Now Lu Heng’s most important clue was these two people, how could Fu Tingzhou let go of them?
Lu Heng had a sullen look on his face, he patted the armrest, and looked at Fu Tingzhou coldly: “Marquis of Zhenyuan, what are your intentions of detaining the witnesses of the Imperial Guards?”
The Liu family’s mother and daughter-in-law, who were kneeling on the ground, almost lost their breath when they heard these words. They only thought that they were high-ranking officials from the capital, but they did not expect that one was a Marquis and the other was an Imperial Guard. No wonder the prefect sat on the side, trembling with fear.
While Master Lu and the Marquis of Zhenyuan quarreled, Prefect Cheng kept silent, for fear of accidentally becoming a target. Others were afraid of Lu Heng, but Fu Tingzhou was not. He also sneered coldly, his tone was iron, and there was no room for change: “I am only protecting the safety of the palace. Does Master Lu want to put the emperor’s safety at risk to investigate the case?”
“Okay.” Lu Heng stood up from the seat and looked down at Fu Tingzhou, “There are so many witnesses today, and these are my witnesses, but the Marquis of Zhenyuan insists on taking care of it himself. The Marquis of Zhenyuan must be optimistic. If people are placed with you and something goes wrong and I can’t investigate it, then I will go to the emperor for him to judge.”
Fu Tingzhou was startled, and suddenly realized that this strategist did it on purpose! Lu Heng deliberately dumped the blame on him. If the case was investigated, it would undoubtedly be to Lu Heng’s credit; if it couldn’t be investigated, or if the mother and daughter-in-law were dead, then Lu Heng could put the blame entirely on Fu Tingzhou.
Who asked Fu Tingzhou to hold his witnesses?
Fu Tingzhou clenched the armrest in anger but quickly calmed down. The witnesses were in his hand. Lu Heng could neither interrogate nor torture, and all Imperial Guard methods were useless. Fu Tingzhou didn’t believe that Lu Heng could find out the results just by looking at the files. Sooner or later, Lu Heng would ask to come to the door, and Fu Tingzhou would be waiting.
But after being calculated against by Lu Heng, Fu Tingzhou was still very angry. He got up with a cold face, didn’t even want to say anything at the scene, snorted “going” coldly, and left with the people of the five cities’ Military Division. Prefect Cheng did not dare to stay with Lu Heng alone, so he quickly took the opportunity to slip away.
After the two of them went out, a slow smile appeared on Lu Heng’s face. Thank you Fu Tingzhou for solving a difficult problem for him.
Inside the Imperial Guards, it was not one iron bucket, there are various factions. Lu Heng could guard against outsiders, but he couldn’t guard against internal moles. He had offended Chen Yin severely just now and he was afraid that Chen Yin would plant someone among the Imperial Guards to directly kill the mother and daughter-in-law. After that, even if Lu Heng solved the case, he would inevitably be accused of incompetence in the emperor’s heart.
So Lu Heng deliberately angered Fu Tingzhou and asked Fu Tingzhou to guard them. After that, no matter what went wrong, Lu Heng could push it to Fu Tingzhou.
Lu Heng pitted against Fu Tingzhou and was in a happy mood. The suffocation of the day finally dissipated. However, his subordinates looked embarrassed and asked worriedly: “Commander, the witnesses are in the hands of the Marquis of Zhenyuan, and even the confession cannot be recorded, what should we do?”
“It’s okay.” Lu Heng said lightly, “Follow Cheng Youhai to get the file, as long as it’s related things, bring them back, don’t let them use tricks.”
The subordinates clasped their fists, and the resounding sound of their neat footsteps sounded, and soon everyone was gone. When there was no one around, Lu Heng walked to the east room, around the screen, and asked: “Qing Qing, how was it?”