TIGR Chapter 64
The Imperial Guard’s Revenge
Chapter 64 Afraid of Arrest
Chen Yuxuan knew that the commander was going to lash out, so he quickly reported the matter, then lowered his head and covered his eyes firmly with his hands.
It was his negligence, he forgot that today was different from the past. In the dead of night, with a beautiful woman by his side, how could the commander do nothing. He didn’t want to disturb the commander’s personal matters, but Tao Yiming’s situation really couldn’t be delayed.
Lu Heng calmly swept Chen Yuxuan a glance, clearly wanting to give a scolding, but holding back temporarily: “Has the person been saved?”
Chen Yuxuan lowered his head even lower, his voice was dull and tense: “No.”
Lu Heng nodded slightly, and cast a cold glance at Chen Yuxuan: “Leave.”
Chen Yuxuan bowed and hurriedly retreated. He lowered his eyes the whole time, not looking in the direction of Lu Heng and Wang Yanqing, and closed the door considerately when he went out. After they left, Wang Yanqing leaned out from behind Lu Heng, frowned, and said: “Second Brother, how could it be such a coincidence. We just suspected Tao Yiming and something happened to him.”
Lu Heng didn’t comment and said: “It will be clear after getting a look.”
Wang Yanqing nodded quickly. She raised her hand to tie her hair, and when she was about to go out, Lu Heng pressed her shoulder. Lu Heng looked at her silently and asked: “What are you doing?”
“I’m going to the murder scene.” Wang Yanqing said rightly, “Tao Yiming hung himself suddenly while the case was still being investigated. Something must have happened. The county government is heavily guarded right now, and insiders can’t escape, so he must still be in the county government. If the county magistrate had an accident, he should also go to the scene to watch. I will go to the scene to see and maybe I can find some clues.”
“You suspect that he was murdered?”
Wang Yanqing did not deny it: “When we were about to investigate him, something happened to him. This is really a coincidence.”
Lu Heng looked at Wang Yanqing’s face which was white as jade, her long hair was cloudy, and her underclothes loosely wrapped around her body, like a seductive hibiscus flower, but she was completely unaware of the problem. Finally, Lu Heng sighed helplessly, and said: “Go and change your clothes first.”
Wang Yanqing originally thought it would be enough to wear a coat and a cloak. But Lu Heng refused. He forced her to put on a full set of dresses and even tie up her hair before reluctantly agreeing to let her go out. They fussed for so long, that one could imagine that by the time Lu Heng arrived, Tao Yiming’s room was already crowded with people.
Prefect Cheng, the county magistrate of Qixian County, and others were all there. They stayed outside, waiting for Lu Heng to come to preside over the situation. They all felt that with Lu Heng’s workaholic disposition, he would come as soon as he heard about a homicide. However, they didn’t expect that even Prefect Cheng came and waited for another stick of incense to burn before Lu Heng came later.
Prefect Cheng anxiously paced outside, looking left and right, touching his hands and sighing. He frequently looked at the gate of the courtyard, and when he finally saw a familiar figure appear behind the steps, Prefect Cheng heaved a sigh of relief and hurried up to greet him: “Master Lu, you are finally here. Something big happened in the house!”
The day was exposed to the sun, but the night was very cool. Lu Heng walked under the breezy night sky, and when he went down the steps, he naturally reached out to support the woman beside him. After Wang Yanqing made it up, he calmly asked: “What happened?”
Prefect Cheng let out a sigh and hurriedly said: “Master Lu, go and have a look inside. Tao Yiming hung himself!”
“Oh?” Even after hearing the news of the dead man, Lu Heng’s face remained calm and he asked steadily, “Where is he?”
“Tao Yiming’s body is in the room, and everyone has been called out, they are all waiting for you to make a decision.”
Lu Heng nodded and Prefect Cheng ran forward quickly. After running two steps, he found that the person behind him didn’t follow. He turned around in surprise, and saw that Commander Lu was still taking his time, and even had the leisure to support the woman beside him and say: “Be careful of the steps.”
Prefect Cheng’s eyeballs almost fell out.
Wang Yanqing hid behind Lu Heng calmly against everyone’s probing and condemning eyes, and used his figure to block the observation of the crowd. Regardless of whether County Magistrate Tao committed suicide or if it was a homicide, Wang Yanqing was sure that the person behind the scenes must be mixed in with the crowd at this moment. Before Wang Yanqing went out, she told Lu Heng that she needed time to observe the expressions of the people around. She did not expect that Lu Heng would buy her time in this way.
When Prefect Cheng finally welcomed the commander into the room, his forehead was covered with sweat. The county magistrate lived in the main courtyard of the county government office. There were three rooms in the front of the house, which were very spacious and magnificent. But now the main courtyard held no grandeur at all. The room was full of people, and the west room was separated by the Imperial Guards. They stood in a row holding knives, not letting anyone approach. The light reflected on the Imperial Guard’s crisp clothes, majestic, gorgeous, and murderous.
Through the messy hem of clothes, one could vaguely see a stretcher lying on the ground of the west room, covered with a white cloth, motionless. After Lu Heng came in, he took his first look towards the west room and asked: “What’s going on?”
The Imperial Guards had distinct ranks, and an answer must be passed from one level to the next. Guo Tao was left in the palace, and Chen Yuxuan was the highest-ranking person here. He came forward and reported: “Commander, the subordinates were patrolling according to your instructions. When they walked to the county magistrate’s courtyard, they felt something was wrong. They broke down the door to investigate and found that he was already hanging on the beam of the west room. The subordinates and others brought him down immediately, but it was a pity that they found out too late, and he already died by then.”
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Lu Heng asked: “When you found the body, was there anyone else around?”
“No, only County Magistrate Tao was in the house.”
“How did he die?”
“There is a strangulation mark on his neck, and the angle is consistent with the idea of him hanging himself, so it should be by hanging.”
Lu Heng looked towards the dead body’s west room and asked: “When you came in, did this place look like this?”
“Yes.” The Imperial Guards were very experienced in this. As soon as they found a murder case, they quickly separated the scene, and no one came in to destroy it.
Lu Heng heard that the dead man’s face was unchanged, he walked to the west room and walked around the room to check: “There are no traces of a fight, nor was he handled after being strangled to death. So that would be suicide. But why would he commit suicide.”
Lu Heng raised his eyes as he spoke, his amber-colored glazed eyes swept across the crowd silently like a cold-blooded animal: “Did someone come to him before?”
Chen Yuxuan lowered his head and said: “I am not in charge of the county magistrate’s courtyard. Something didn’t feel right so we came to patrol here, and only then was County Magistrate Tao’s body found. When we approached the main courtyard, no one came in or out, and we didn’t see anyone before.”
Lu Heng looked at the Qixian County government officials: “What about you all, where were you when the crime happened?”
The county deputy was embarrassed: “Master Lu, strange things have been happening in the county recently, and the county magistrate was afraid that the paper figurine incident would happen again last night, so he ordered us to strictly guard the entrances and exits. The county magistrate was here… without anyone on watch.”
Lu Heng nodded, ambiguously: “That is to say, no one saw what Tao Yiming was doing when the incident occurred, in other words, anyone could have had a chance to sneak in.”
The county deputy’s face was tense: “Master Lu doubts us? Master Lu, please understand that we have a good relationship with County Magistrate Tao, so we have absolutely no reason to kill the magistrate!”
Lu Heng glanced at him lightly and said: “I didn’t mention you, why are you nervous?”
The county deputy arched his hands to smile apologetically, but there was no smile on his face. Lu Heng walked slowly into the room, and the people outside watched him with their breaths held, not daring to blink.
Lu Heng finally stopped in front of the desk and reached out to flip through the things on the table. Tao Yiming’s body was lying not far away, but Lu Heng acted as if he couldn’t see, calm and unaffected.
There were pens, ink, paper, and inkstones on the table. Several old books were neatly folded, and a cup of tea next to it, which had been drunk. These were all things that Tao Yiming used and there were no clues. Lu Heng pulled out the drawer to search, and when he pushed it back, he suddenly raised his eyebrows and tapped the bottom of the drawer with his fingers. The sound was crisp and loud not like it was solid. Lu Heng drew out the knife, pressed the tip of the knife against the bottom of the drawer, and with a light pry, the hidden layer was destroyed.
Lu Heng retracted the blade and put the embroidered blade into its sheath. It made the clear and melodious sound of a golden sword, like a dragon’s song. Sure enough, there was a hidden compartment under the drawer. Lu Heng took out the contents, untied the largest scroll, and when he saw the figure on it, he smiled meaningfully.
Prefect Cheng unconsciously held his breath, and asked nervously: “Master Lu, what did you find?”
Lu Heng raised his hand, signaling the Imperial Guards to collect this evidence. He opened the other letter himself and read it as he walked: “Nothing. It seems that County Magistrate Tao had a lot of activities in his spare time.”
Prefect Cheng hurriedly asked: “Master Lu, what did Tao Yiming do?”
After scanning the letter at a glance, Lu Heng tossed the letter to Prefect Cheng and said: “You can see for yourself.”
Lu Heng walked out of the room and stood on the porch with his hands behind his back. He was tall and long, with broad shoulders and long legs, almost blending into the night. Prefect Cheng quickly finished reading the letter, and chased after him in a panic: “Master Lu, I have been wronged. The Weihui Mansion is in charge of six counties, and I am busy with government affairs, so I didn’t know that Tao Yiming was colluding with the White Lotus. Now Tao Yiming committed suicide in fear of crime, and I am still confused, which shows that I had nothing to do with the White Lotus. I also hope that Master Lu will investigate clearly and return my innocence!”
Lu Heng smiled and said: “Master Cheng, this matter is too important for me to make a decision. You should save these words and speak to the emperor.”
Prefect Cheng said with a bitter face: “I know that I am negligent, I am not strict with my orders, and I made a big mistake. I dare not extravagantly hope that Master Lu will be merciful, but I only hope that Master Lu can speak a word or two for my humble self when he meets the emperor tomorrow. Commander Lu’s great kindness and virtue will never be forgotten by this humble official!”
Lu Heng didn’t agree but said: “Master Cheng, you are being too polite. I was ordered by the emperor to investigate the case and I will report the case to the emperor in detail. The emperor is wise and will definitely give everyone justice.”
Prefect Cheng sighed, bowed deeply, and said: “Thank you, Master Lu. I am very grateful.”
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Lu Heng found the portrait of Tang Sai’er and the correspondence with the White Lotus from the hidden compartment of Tao Yiming’s desk, and it became clear that Tao Yiming colluded with the White Lotus. During the day, Lu Heng investigated Qingxu monastery and even more found a portrait of Tang Sai’er under the Taoist priest’s bed, Tao Yiming was afraid of the incident, so he hung himself. Once the matter of colluding with the rebel party was discovered, the punishment was death by the highest degree. Instead of being tortured to death, it was better to do it himself, and in any case, leave a whole body.
Lu Heng personally kept the letters and other evidence. He asked the Imperial Guards to take good care of Tao Yiming’s body, and together with Prefect Cheng, the county deputy, and others were escorted to the palace to wait for the emperor’s decision tomorrow.
Now that the matter had settled down, some people in the county government sighed, some felt relieved and all silently cleaned up the mess. Lu Heng also returned to the courtyard where he lived, recharged his energy, and waited for tomorrow’s meeting with the emperor.
Wang Yanqing followed Lu Heng back in silence. When she turned around and closed the door silently, Lu Heng saw her expression, and asked with a smile: “Qing Qing, what did you notice today?”
Wang Yanqing looked at him calmly with clear eyes: “It can be seen that there was quite a lot.”
Lu Heng smiled, came over and held her shoulders, and pushed her to the bedroom: “We can talk about tomorrow’s business, tomorrow. It’s time for you to rest now.”
After two days, Lu Heng returned to the palace again. The palace was still bustling with activity. Soldiers patrolled around the palace, one post every five steps and one sentry every ten steps. When they saw Lu Heng coming back, many people stood up and greeted: “Commander Lu.”
Lu Heng nodded faintly. Having reached the gate of the palace, Lu Heng got off his horse and said to the people behind him: “Escort her back, don’t let anyone approach her.”
“Yes.” The Imperial Guards took the order and escorted the carriage to another road. Prefect Cheng recognized that it was the carriage of Lu Heng’s maid. He found that the closer he was to the palace, the more serious Lu Heng’s expression became. When he stopped at the entrance of the palace, his expression was cold and his tone was indifferent as if he wanted to vent his anger.
Prefect Cheng couldn’t figure it out. Master Lu and his maid were still mixing together yesterday, why did they suddenly separate today? Could it be that something unpleasant happened last night?
However, as soon as they parted last night, they each went back to their rooms to sleep…there was too much information and Prefect Cheng didn’t dare to think about it anymore. He smiled at Lu Heng: “Master Lu, shall we go to meet the emperor now?”
Lu Heng looked back, smiled at Prefect Cheng, and said: “There is no rush, first we will report ourselves. Prefect Cheng, come with me.”
Prefect Cheng took it as something usual. Even though the emperor was in the temporary palace, questioning would be even more intense than in the Forbidden City. They had to search their bodies first to make sure that there were no hidden weapons on their bodies before they could go to meet the emperor.
Prefect Cheng followed Lu Heng to a darkroom where they would do a body search. Taking advantage of the lack of people, he quietly walked up to Lu Heng, and said in a low voice: “Master Lu, I really didn’t know that Tao Yiming was so bold that he dared to collude with the White Lotus. He was always gloomy, I only thought that he was unhappy in the officialdom, and that’s why he was depressed. Who knew that he held resentment towards the court and a heart of disobedience. I am different from Tao Yiming. I have seniors and juniors, and I have a whole family on my back, if there is any mistake, the whole family will lose their lives. I am the most timid and afraid of death, I would never destroy my future, and join forces with a group of rebels! I hope Master Lu can see that clearly.”
Lu Heng smiled: “I understand that Master Cheng did not collude with the White Lotus, so the prefect can rest assured.”
Prefect Cheng let out a long sigh of relief and said: “That’s good. But this kind of thing happened under Weihui’s command, and ultimately, I am the one to blame. Although Tao Yiming committed suicide in fear of crime, his accomplices must be outside. I am willing to atone for his sins and wipe out the remaining evils of the White Lotus!”
After Prefect Cheng finished speaking, he saw that Lu Heng didn’t respond. He gritted his teeth and swore: “I am willing to use my official black hat as a guarantee that I will wipe out the White Lotus and bring all the remnants to justice.”
Lu Heng walked to a quiet room where there was a row of guards in brocade clothes with embroidered knives standing on both sides. When they saw Lu Heng, they clasped their fists together. Lu Heng pushed open the door and smiled at Prefect Cheng: “Master Cheng, please.”
Prefect Cheng looked inside and felt that something was wrong. He smiled flatteringly at Lu Heng: “Master Lu, aren’t we going to see the emperor, why did we come here?”
Lu Heng looked at him with clear eyes and a smile slowly formed on his lips: “Now that things have progressed this far, Master Cheng, are you still going to act with me?”
“I don’t understand Master Lu’s meaning.”
Lu Heng sighed, it was really troublesome, he thought he could save some tongue. Lu Heng played along with them for two days and was already tired. He had no intention of watching Cheng Youhai’s drama again and said directly: “Prefect Cheng, I saw your evaluation in the capital. The official department’s evaluation of you is pretty good. Although you try to curry favors for yourself, you are not a mediocre and incompetent person.”
Prefect Cheng maintained a flattering smile on his face, but his eyes became sharper. He didn’t look like a mediocre official. Seeing that he still refused to confess, Lu Heng released the last heavy hammer: “Tao Yiming, come out.”
When Prefect Cheng heard this name, his face changed drastically, and he hurriedly looked back. Behind, under the custody of Chen Yuxuan and others, a man slowly walked out. Gauze was wrapped around his neck, and his face was weak but it was undoubtedly Tao Yiming.
Prefect Cheng was shocked, pointed at Tao Yiming and couldn’t stop trembling, he didn’t even care about his usual disguise: “You, you aren’t…”
“Master Cheng thinks I should be dead, right?” Tao Yiming’s voice was hoarse, his tone was resentful, and there was a sense of gloom, out of place in broad daylight, “I took the initiative to offer advice and help for the better, but I didn’t expect that the magistrate wanted me to take the blame from the very beginning.”
|| Translator’s Note: Happy Holidays!!🎁 I wish you all a good rest and some joy ^-^.