Chapter 25 Burn All the Bridges
Qin Yunuan was used to his cold and distant appearance. She lowered her head and asked even more politely, “I was just wondering whether the mastermind behind Jie Chen was found? How did it go?” She raised her head. Her eyes were as clear as the guiding stars in the night sky. No mirror could be this clear after times of wiping and cleaning.
“Miss Qin, you will know later.” Leng Changxi stroked the corners of his mask with his long, bamboo-like fingers. The icy mask made out a rhythm. “Third Miss, you seemed to be very concerned.”
Qin Yunuan nodded, “I shall even the score. The one who did this was trying to ruin my reputation, using such a low-class method.”
“Yes.” Leng Changxi stretched his neck. The laziness in his tone was slightly inconsistent with his cold temperament, “You are always that kind of person who wants an eye for an eye.”
Qin Yunuan’s startled eyes met him, and then her eyes went as if she had wanted to look deep into his heart. “I had only met General twice. Don’t you feel a bit arbitrary saying this?”
Fang Ziying was coming out of the hall, calling Qin Yunuan. Taking a deep breath, Qin Yunuan turned her face to Leng Changxi and said, “General Leng, excuse me.” She then left.
“Qin Yunuan, we know each other more than you do.” Leng Changxi smirked.
Qin Yunuan left in a hurry, without noticing Leng Changxi’s ridiculous words.
After burning half a column of incense, everyone was here except two. One was today’s lecture, the dignitary Hui An. The other was Leng Changxi, who was still appreciating snow in the courtyard.
“Master, was the dignitary Hui An well? Why hasn’t he come out after such a long period of time?” Li Jiaxuan looked elegant in his blue-based white robe. He asked the young monk at the door, joining hands together in salute.
The young monk seemed a little embarrassed. He bowed his head and did not answer.
“Oh? General Leng is gone, too.”
Hardly had Shangguan Rang finished his words, A dark, blue shadow appeared at the door. It was Leng Changxi who arrived early but disappeared. His athletic body covered most of the frame. The blue robe seemed casual and elegant, but it couldn’t conceal the cold light flashing in his eyes. The coldness made whoever met his eyes fell from the warm spring into the frosty winter.
Leng Changxi looked more gloomy than before.
Everyone raised their heads. Someone said, “It’s freezing outside, General. Come in quickly and warm up.”
“There’s no need.” Leng Changxi looked up, secretly counting the number of people in the lobby. It would be best if everyone was here.
“We have found out,” said Leng Changxi, walking down the steps, “that Jie Chen confessed about the Buddha’s tears.”
“Who was the person behind?” Someone asked.
“Hui An,” Leng Changxi replied, “Hui An put medicine in the meal of the dignitary Hui Neng last night, leaving Master Hui Neng unconscious so that he could take the place of Hui Neng and host the blessing today. He also gave Jie Chen his acquiescence to go into the Great Buddhist’s Hall and place red wax.”
“No, Hui An is highly respected. How could a dignitary…” Someone doubted, “Do you, General Leng, have any evidence?”
Leng Changxi leaned to the side, and Leng Wu beside him spread out a bag in his hands to everyone.
“We found these in Hui An’s room. Red wax, drugs and a stack of money from an unknown origin. How can a monk obtain so much money?”
Looking at the neatly arranged evidence in the bag, Qin Yunuan couldn’t help but sigh in her heart with amazement. Leng Changxi carried out his task resolutely. No other people could find out through investigation and gave solid evidence in such a short time like him.
Qin Yunuan looked at Leng Changxi with suspicion. Hui An slapped Jie Chen in the face, making him speechless. It could never be that simple, Qin Yunuan recalled.
Leng Changxi seemed to ignore this deliberately. Qin Yunuan felt the difficulty in making a detailed inquiry, but she knew that Leng had his reason in doing so.
“So he bluffed intentionally, fooled us with a crying Buddha statue and answered our questions with a sophisticated look. He did all this to raise his reputation. That was not what gentlemen do!” Li Jiaxuan slammed resentfully on the table. His elegant face was full of anger.
Li Jiaxuan understood the incident in this way. Facing the series of discussions triggered by his words, Qin Yunuan calmed down. She heard that Li Jiaxuan had been studying at the Imperial College. Just as she expected, the less one was involved in family businesses, the less they would understand about the cruelty of it. Li Jiaxuan could never figure out through his life, that everything was carefully arranged by her legal mother, Dou Qing’e, to ruin her reputation.
“Shameless.” Someone said angrily, following Li Jiaxuan’s words, “He did not deserve the fame.”
Qin Yunuan didn’t open her mouth. She looked at Leng Changxi out of the corner of her eye. Leng was calm and indifferent as if he had been waiting for the discussion to end. After a while, he said gently, “If so, it’s reasonable to understand Hui An in creating a false appearance of the Buddha statue crying. But in this Arhats Hall, another person is also involved.”
Silence fell again.
Leng Changxi smirked with a wicked charm. He lifted the loose sleeve of his embroidered robe and pointed at Qin Yunuan. “It’s the Third Miss of Qin.” He didn’t finish the sentence, seemingly waiting for Qin Yunuan’s reaction. Qin Yunuan though pretended to stay calm under the inspection of everyone, her confused and blinking eyes revealed her heart. Look, she could be scared. Leng’s mood brightened up inexplicably. He then continued, “It’s Third Miss’ servant girl, Lvliu. Bring her up.”
The tension in Qin Yunuan’s gaze disappeared. As those eyes of disdain and inspection were taken off from her, she remained to focus on Leng Changxi. It was as if her heart had been stuffed with cotton. Emotions and words choked in her throat.
With a quick flick of the finger, Lvliu was sent in. Her hands and feet were tied up by Leng Changxi’s men. Dead silence filled her eyes, and her dark pupil lost vitality.
“How could the servant girl of Third Miss be related to this matter?” Fang Ziying tried to clarify the innocence of Qin Yunuan. “General Leng, did you catch the wrong person?”
Leng Changxi glanced at Fang Ziying, and said quietly, “If this Lvliu had always stayed by Third Miss’ side, nothing could be fishy. But there was black dirt on her soles. Wan’an Temple was located in rugged terrain. The soil was usually scarce, mostly alkaline and red if any. Only one place around the Wan’an Temple had black soil.”
Leng Changxi turned to look at Lvliu, who bowed her head with low spirits. “That is the place behind the Great Buddhist’s Hall. The dignitary Hui Neng took the nutritious black soil downhill to grow begonia flowers. Miss Lvliu, the mud on your shoes is semi-dry. At least two hours have passed after the shoes were contaminated. We were resting in the East Side Hall. Why didn’t you wait for Third Miss but ran to the back of the Great Buddhist’s Hall?”
After Leng Changxi finished, the servant beside him, named Deng San, also took out a yellow paper bag in his arms and unfolded it for everyone to see. “We just found this from the girl.”
“Red Flower Powder.” Li Jiaxuan recognized the red powder in the paper bag at a glance. “You are saying that this servant girl, Lvliu, gave Jie Chen the Red Flower Powder to create the bloody tears?
Lvliu lowered her head, hiding under her hair. She refused to say anything.
“It must be that way.” Fang Ziying bit her teeth, “It’s difficult to prevent the thief inside one’s house. The bitchy little girl colluded with Jie Chen and Hui An to destroy sister Yunuan’s reputation. These are all lies, saying the Buddha statue was crying, or it was unlucky to be born in May.
Li Jiaxuan nodded and then said, “In this way, Third Miss would become the target of public criticism, and her reputation would also be damaged. That’s such a merciless scheme. Third Miss Qin, have you offended anyone in the past?”
Qin Yunuan raised her eyes gently with distress.
“I don’t know,” Qin Yunuan bit her lips and appeared to forbear from speaking. “I thought of myself as a humble woman. I compromised even after my sister was scratched by a cat in the palace. She changed her temper and didn’t treat me as nice as before. After my second sister was punished, I sent a girl who could sing the Yue opera to relieve her boredom. But on the second day, she was beaten up. Yunuan knew that both sisters were just in a bad mood and didn’t dare to provoke them. I have been living inside the mansion since my childhood. There were no other people that I might have offended.”
A careless remark may reveal much to an attentive listener. Qin Yunuan’s words sounded like a justification for Qin Yunzhuang and Qin Yuwan, but the fact was that she exposed the shaking viciousness of the two sisters inside the mansion.
Those girls that Qin Yunzhuang had offended came immediately to comfort Qin Yunuan.
Leng Changxi raised an eyebrow, “Unfortunately, this Lvliu wouldn’t say anything, otherwise, I can find some clues for you.”
Qin Yunuan looked up slowly. Leng Changxi was tall and Qin Yunuan needed to raise her head slightly to meet his eyes. If she ignored the details, everything would make sense. However, Dou Qing’e was very cautious. How could Lvliu, the person that she chose, to be so careless that she didn’t even wipe off the mud on her shoes or even get rid of the Red Flower Powder after it happened?
Leng Changxi was a man of mystery to her. Qin Yunuan looked straight into his cold eyes. The secrets for him seemed to be endless. Qin Yunuan’s heartbeats synchronized with the sound of the golden bell ringing in the distance. She thought that she would stay calm despite everything. But she was still panic in front of Leng Changxi.