This chapter has been brought to you by me, Adnana, and Vivie.
- 郡王爷 junwang ye, 王爷 wang ye: His [Your] Royal Highness
- 郡王妃 junwang fei: the official wife of a junwang
- 府 fu: compound or estate; (jun)wang fu: prince’s estate/compound
- 郡王 junwang: second-rank prince
- 堂兄 tang xiong: father’s brother’s (older) son
- 堂弟 tang di: father’s brother’s (younger) son
- 氏 shi: clan/maiden name
- 堂伯 tang bo: elder male cousin on father’s side (for a man) when referred to by a (female) speaker who has married in (as the aforementioned man’s wife)
- 堂弟妹 tang dimei: father’s brother’s son’s wife
Chapter Twenty-two: To Suspect
Waking up in the morning, Hua Xi Wan opened her eyes and saw Yan Jin Qiu smiling at her as he sat on the bed. She smiled, flipped her body and avoided his eyes. She lay on the soft pillow and said, “Are you not going to court today?”
“The Emperor’s body is not comfortable today, so court is not open.” Yan Jin Qiu reached out to brush the hair next to her face, and his thumb brushed past the faint red mark behind her ear. He said with a warm smile, “Get up and eat some breakfast.”
Hua Xi Wan’s entire body lay on the soft bed. With a crease in her brow, she said, “I do not want to move.”
Yan Jin Qiu laughed lightly and then bent to give a light kiss to her forehead. “It is not very good to sleep too much. Let’s sleep after the noon meal.”
The servant girls serving in the room saw the interactions between their master and mistress and lowered their heads in embarrassment. Junwang Ye was really warm and considerate to Junwang Fei.
“People have their own habits and likes in their life.” Hua Xi Wan unwillingly sat up. “Some people like power, some people like money, some like beauty. I do not have many likes, but I like eating and sleeping. If I do not have these two in my life, there is nothing to look forward to.”
“What are you saying?” Yan Jin Qiu’s brow furrowed, but when he looked at Hua Xi Wan’s drowsy expression, he sighed helplessly. “When I am here, I will guarantee that you will taste the best food in your life, will have no worries, and there will not be a time when you do not have anything to look forward to.”
“It is because Jin Qiu protects me that I dare to say such things.” Hua Xi Wan lay on Yan Jin Qiu’s legs with a smile. “This is probably called having no fear?”
Yan Jin Qiu laughed lightly again. He reached out to caress her silky hair, his eyes seeming soft and emotional.
Hua Xi Wan’s finger twisted around the flower patterns embroidered on his robe, a smile in her brows.
When the servants in the room saw this, they thought admiringly, even the most perfect pairing would just be so.
Outside Xian Junwang Fu, Yan Bo Yi pulled the reins and got off the horse. He threw the horse crop in his hand to the follower behind him and said, “Go knock on the door.”
The gatekeeper guard of Xian Junwang Fu had already recognized Yan Bo Yi. Before his servant could knock, a servant came to open the gate. A well-dressed steward came forward, bowed and said, “This small one greets Sheng Junwang.”
“Is your junwang ye home?” Sheng Junwang glanced at this steward. This steward’s attire was neat, and his mannerisms were polite. It could be seen that the fu was well-regulated.
“Sheng Junwang, Junwang Ye is in the fu. Please come into the fu for a while, and this one will instantly send someone to report to our junwang ye.” The steward bowed and made a movement to usher. Out of the corner of his eyes, he glanced over the subordinates and guards before he lowered his eyes.
“Trouble you.” Yan Bo Yi nodded at the steward and walked in.
“Do not dare, do not dare.” The steward bowed even lower as he ushered Sheng Junwang to the wang fu’s main hall.
In the main yard, after Hua Xi Wan ate and rinsed, she said as she washed her hands, “Since Jin Qiu is not going out today, why don’t you accompany me to feed the goldfish?”
“All right.” Yan Jin Qiu was wiping his hands. When he heard Hua Xi Wan’s suggestion, he instantly agreed. “Right. A few days ago, I had Mu Tong order a few sets of jewelry for you and had him clean out all the jewelry in the wang fu stores. In the afternoon, I will have people deliver them to you. If you like any, use them. If you do not, keep them in your private stores to bestow to other people.”
Hearing this, Hua Xi Wan did not urge Yan Jin Qiu to be frugal, or say that she did not like the jewelry. She naturally nodded and said, “So much jewelry—when will I be able to wear it all?”
“No matter. If you cannot wear it all, you can look and play with it every day,” Yan Jin Qiu said with a smile. “Everything in the wang fu is yours. You can do whatever you like.”
Hua Xi Wan was preparing to speak when she saw a first-rank steward hurriedly walk in. The steward bowed to them and said, “Junwang Ye, Junwang Fei, Sheng Junwang has come to visit.”
“Sheng Junwang?” The smile on Yan Jin Qiu’s face faded. He and Yan Bo Yi on the surface were not close, and there was even less between them in private. Right now, this person had come without even sending a card. It seemed that this was not a good matter. He gave an apologetic smile to Hua Xi Wan, stood, and said, “I will go and return shortly.”
Hua Xi Wan nodded slightly. Looking at the back of Yan Jin Qiu’s figure, she slowly put down the towel in her hand. After sitting for a moment, she touched her gold hairpin with a phoenix holding a pearl in its mouth. She said to Bai Xia, “Let’s go and see.”
Bai Xia did not understand why her mistress suddenly decided to go to the main hall. However, she and the other senior servant girls helped her go out of the yard.
堂兄 tang xiong: father’s brother’s (older) son
When Yan Jin Qiu walked into the main hall, he saw Yan Bo Yi sitting in the guest seat with the tea by his hand untouched. He walked forward with a faint smile, bowed and then said, “Tang Xiong, how come you have the time today to come to this crude residence?”
堂弟 tang di: father’s brother’s (younger) son
Yan Bo Yi stood and bowed back before saying, “Today, I have come to disturb Tang Di for the case of Master Zhang. I have some questions to ask Tang Di—can you resolve my them?”
“What questions can Tang Xiong not understand?” Yan Jin Qiu smiled and sat down on the main seat. “If I know, I will definitely tell you.”
Yan Bo Yi looked at Yan Jin Qiu’s mannerisms, and he said with dark eyes, “According to the coroner, Master Zhang’s eyes and tongue were taken out about a month and a half ago. The person who kidnapped Master Zhang was vicious, and after putting him through many methods of torture, he only killed and threw the corpse away a few days ago. What do you think is the status of a person who can kill someone and then secretly throw the corpse onto an official street?”
Yan Jin Qiu’s brow creased, and he said, “Since this person has kidnapped Master Zhang, why did he throw the corpse onto the official street? Was it on purpose?”
“Only the culprit would know that,” Yan Bo Yi said with a cold expression. “What were you doing a month and a half ago?”
“What does Sheng Junwang mean by these words?” Yan Jin Qiu’s smile disappeared, and he spoke with a serious expression. “It is best for you to say some things clearly.”
“Some people have said they saw you argue with Master Zhang, so I have come to ask. Tang Di, please have understanding.” Yan Bo Yi picked up the teacup to take a sip. “I believe that Tang Di will give me a satisfactory answer.”
“So that is how it is.” Yan Jin Qiu’s expression eased. “Tang Xiong should not have forgotten that more than a month ago, it was when I had just married my junwang fei. The day when Master Zhang disappeared, it probably was the second or third day after my marriage.”
“It is the third day.” Yan Bo Yi put down the teacup. “In the afternoon of that day, you went to the Crown Prince’s fu.”
Yan Jin Qiu stilled, thought back, and then nodded. “These two years, Master Zhang has been outstanding in literary pursuits and could not avoid being proud. His tone and speech have occasionally offended, but I have not cared since the other is also a relative of my junwang fei’s paternal family.”
Master Zhang thought that Yan Jin Qiu’s talents were not as good as his, and he was only admired by the people in Jing due to his appearance. So he usually argued with Yan Jin Qiu in poetry. Yet no matter how much he was unwilling to accept it, he always lost the arguments. The proud Master Zhang felt it was extremely hard to accept, so every time he mentioned Yan Jin Qiu, there was frequently impoliteness.
Yan Bo Yi also knew this, so he did not ask further about this matter. He turned to say, “When did you return to the fu after you went to the Crown Prince’s fu?”
Yan Jin Qiu shook his head. “I do not remember this.” He thought carefully. “Maybe my attendant will remember. Someone come—summon Mu Tong.”
“Junwang Ye, you do not need to summon Mu Tong. Even though Mu Tong is clever, he will not remember a matter as insignificant as this.”
Yan Bo Yi heard a female voice come from outside the door. He turned to look and saw a woman dressed in a palace dress covered in flying cranes and lucky clouds. She walked in, and with every step, the phoenix wings between her hair shook slightly.
“Hua shi greets Tang Bo.” The female curtsied to him before saying with a smile, “Sorry to disturb the conversation, but I came when I heard the servants say that Tang Bo has come for the case of Master Zhang. I have just come to listen, since the Zhang Family are in-laws of my Hua Family.”
Yan Bo Yi turned his gaze away and returned the bow. “Tang Dimei is too polite. I have just come to inquire.”
“I have heard before that Tang Bo is a just person, and naturally I will not suspect Tang Bo’s conduct. But this matter is related to my husband and the relatives of my paternal family, so I have to appear.” Hua Xi Wan sat down on the chair at the side. “Because it was the third day after my marriage, and the next day would be the day I visited my paternal home, I was nervous and remember the events of that day exceptionally clearly. I remember that my junwang ye suddenly received an invitation from the Crown Prince Fu and left. I originally heard that the Crown Prince was keeping him for the evening meal, but who knew that when it was time for the evening meal, Wang Ye had already returned by then. Later, he stayed for more than an hour in the study before he ate together with me. At the time, I even had the people from the Food Room add a few more dishes that Junwang Ye likes.”
“Since that is the case, I will not disturb Tang Di and Tang Dimei.” Yan Bo Yi stood and bowed towards the two. He exchanged a few more courtesies with the two before he left Xian Junwang Fu.
Coming out of Xian Junwang Fu, his attendant Qing He said, “Junwang Ye, are we not going to investigate Xian Junwang further?”
“His expression was natural. He was irritated that this matter was connected to him, but he still said honestly that he did not remember the events of that day. It shows that nothing on that day was a special event to him. He does not need to deliberately remember time or fake a time to deal with suspicions from other people.” Yan Bo Yi’s expression was slightly cold. He did not say what was next. That was, if the matter was connected to Yan Jin Qiu and he could still act like this, it meant that this person had a deep, scheming mind. He would have already erased all clues. Even if he tried to investigate, there would not be anything.
Qing He also felt that the matter did not have too much to do with Xian Junwang. Xian Junwang was such a good person. How could he take Master Zhang’s life just because of some words? Also, Master Zhang had been disrespectful to Xian Junwang for a very long time. If Xian Junwang was going to kill him, he would have done it a long time ago. Why would he wait until his marriage?
He thought about what Xian Junwang Fei had said and couldn’t help but say, “Junwang Ye, just now, Xian Junwang Fei mentioned that the Crown Prince originally invited Xian Junwang to the evening meal but suddenly changed his mind. Do you think…” If one sent an invitation for a meal, most people would not change their mind when the guest was halfway to the host’s place.
“Close your mouth.” Sheng Junwang’s expression instantly darkened. “This matter has nothing to do with the Crown Prince.”
“Yes.” Qing He instantly lowered his head.