Chapter 193: Trap (1)
Chu Lian was still holding a fresh, juicy peach in her left hand and a peeling knife in her right. She pressed her lips together lightly and tilted her head to one side as she looked at the handmaid who had screamed. Her eyes were bright and crystal clear.
The handmaid’s voice was sharp and thin. In her extreme fright, she had not only cried out once, but even kept screaming after that. When she had tried to retreat, her panic had caused her to step onto the hem of her own dress, leaving her a pathetic heap on the floor. Instantly, Tingyu Pavilion was as silent as a cemetery. When the handmaid recovered her wits and looked around her, she immediately turned pale. In the next second, she scrambled up to kneel on the floor and continuously kowtowed to the three great personages before her, pleading for mercy.
“This… this servant deserves to die! This servant deserves to die for losing composure in front of Your Majesties! Please have mercy, Your Majesties!”
Chu Lian’s gaze swept towards the pleading handmaid, whose body was practically stuck to the ground. A trace of coldness flashed across her almond-shaped eyes. Then, she placed both the peach and the knife back onto the table.
The shrewish scream had sounded like a banshee’s cry. Chu Lian cast her gaze downwards and stood to one side. If she hadn’t reacted in time, and if she hadn’t had experience and guts much stronger from the girls of this era, she would have been the one who screamed instead. The one trembling and begging for mercy on the floor in front of the Emperor would be her!
The Chengping Emperor’s previously uplifted mood took a plunge, thanks to that sharp, girlish scream. His expression was stern and dark. The pressure of a long-standing ruler made even Empress Shen and Imperial Concubine Wei feel like cowering.
The Chengping Emperor’s gaze landed upon Imperial Concubine Wei. “Concubine, is this how a handmaid from your palace behaves?”
Imperial Concubine Wei’s expression changed instantly. She caught the smug smile of Empress Shen from the corner of her eyes, and immediately felt the urge to kill this stupid servant. She had simply instructed her to make a little bit of trouble for Honoured Lady Jinyi. Well, Jinyi was still standing there perfectly fine! However, that stupid bitch had dragged herself into a hole, and she had even dragged her master with her.
Imperial Concubine Wei grit her teeth and pulled out a smile to face the Chengping Emperor with. “Your Majesty, please calm down. It was this concubine’s failure to teach this servant that caused Your Majesty to suffer such a fright. She deserves to be severely punished.”
After Imperial Concubine Wei finished speaking, she waved her wide sleeves and summoned two tall eunuchs into the hall. The two eunuchs grabbed hold of the handmaid’s arms and were about to stuff her mouth shut, intending to drag her out to be executed.
This handmaid had served Imperial Concubine Wei for quite a few years, so she knew the concubine’s temper well. She knew that if she were dragged out right now, there was only one fate that awaited her: death.
Thus, the handmaid struggled with all her might. Perhaps her strong will to live had brought out her latent power; the weak handmaid actually managed to push the two tall eunuchs aside.
This handmaid still had some wits about her. She knew that it would be useless to plead with Imperial Concubine Wei now. She stumbled forward a few steps and knelt before the Emperor and Empress, words pouring out for her mouth as she half-sobbed, “Please spare my life, Your Majesties! This servant didn’t do it on purpose. It was all the Honoured Lady! It was the Honoured Lady! If it hadn’t been for the Honoured Lady, this servant wouldn’t have lost composure in front of Your Majesties and let Your Majesties suffer such a fright…”
When the handmaid had broken out of the eunuchs’ hold, Imperial Concubine Wei had continued shooting looks at the eunuchs. However, they were still too late. The handmaid had already spilled out what she wanted to say. Imperial Concubine Wei was extremely frustrated. Her gaze was icy cold, and she looked upon that handmaid as if she was instead a convict on death row rather than a loyal servant.
It was rare for Empress Shen to get such a great chance to knock Imperial Concubine Wei down a few pegs in front of the Emperor. How could she possibly let this opportunity go? She purposely raised a brow and asked, “Oh? So there’s something else to this matter. Emperor, since there is some other reason behind her actions, we have to investigate this matter fully. Otherwise, there’ll be injustice in our imperial palace.”
The Chengping Emperor rubbed his temples and waved at Empress Shen, giving her the go-ahead.
With one look from Empress Shen, the eunuchs who were about to grab hold of the handmaid again retreated.
Imperial Concubine Wei’s hands turned into fists under her wide sleeves. She was so angry that she almost pierced her palms with her nails. She stared at the kneeling figure below her, eyes as cold as a tundra.
Even though the handmaid had gotten a chance to explain herself from Empress Shen, she still didn’t dare to drag Imperial Concubine Wei down with her. Otherwise, if she somehow managed to walk out of Tingyu Pavilion alive today, she would definitely die in several hundred other ways.
Empress Shen gazed down at the handmaid who had broken custom in front of the Emperor, her stare heavy with the weight of her imperial might. “You just said that it was all because of Honoured Lady Jinyi. Tell me exactly what happened, truthfully!”
Malice flashed through the handmaid’s lowered eyes. With all the great personages gathered here in this Tingyu Pavilion, as a lowly handmaid, the only one she could attack was that measly Honoured Lady.
She took a few deep breaths and tried her best to calm her tone down. “Replying to Your Majesty, this servant was just assisting Honoured Lady Jinyi, but a huge black worm suddenly landed on this servant’s hand. This servant suffered a fright, so… so… this servant couldn’t help but scream.”
Empress Shen’s expression darkened. “How could there possibly be worms before us? Are you lying to me?”
When Empress Shen finished speaking, her gaze shifted to Chu Lian’s face, only to realise that House Jing’an’s Third Young Madam was expressionless and calm. It was as if this whole fiasco had nothing to do with her, and she was only an onlooker.