When Chu Liuyue followed Chu Ning over, Emperor Jiawen and the Empress were already waiting in the palace.
Rong Jin and Situ Xingchen were also seated there.
There was still another person on the other side—Rong Jiu.
Chu Liuyue had already heard about what previously happened from Chu Ning, so she wasn’t surprised by Rong Jiu’s presence.
Her eyes quickly darted across the few people in the palace.
Emperor Jiawen had no expression on his face, but his gaze was grave.
Compared to the previous time she saw the Empress, the Empress looked much frailer. It was as though she had aged a lot in a moment. It was clear that the recent happenings had tortured her.
When Rong Jin saw Chu Liuyue, a complicated look flashed across his face.
He held a hairpin in his hands.
Chu Liuyue guessed that it was Rong Zhen’s hairpin, which they had claimed to have found in her backyard.
Situ Xingchen and Rong Jiu both looked calm, and nobody could tell anything from them.
Chu Ning and Chu Liuyue bowed as per normal.
Emperor Jiawen told the two of them to sit.
“Okay, since we’re all here, then… let’s start!” Emperor Jiawen had already lost his patience, so he decided to be straightforward. He looked at Situ Xingchen and boomed, “Xingchen, you previously said that you saw Liuyue and Zhen Zhen together. Is that true?”
Situ Xingchen stood up and bowed. “Your Majesty, I don’t dare to lie, and all I said was the truth. As Jiuyou Tower was on fire that day, I remember it very clearly. After Jiuyou Tower collapsed, Tai Yan Academy was going to depart the next day, so I quickly went back to pack my things. I didn’t expect to coincidentally see Rong Zhen and Chu Liuyue on the way.”
Emperor Jiawen asked, “Was anyone else there?”
“An elder in a black robe, but I didn’t see his face properly.”
“Did you hear what they said?”
“I was a distance away, so I couldn’t hear them. However, I saw the two of them walking very closely together, so I thought that they were close. I didn’t expect…”
Emperor Jiawen’s face turned increasingly cold. The elder in the black robe was definitely Si Meng. If Situ Xingchen were telling a lie, how would she know about Si Meng’s presence?
“Actually, I felt it was quite strange after I saw that.” Situ Xingchen looked up at Emperor Jiawen and said hesitantly, “This was because His Majesty had just granted a marriage between Prince Li and Chu Liuyue. Hence, I was confused as to why I saw her with Rong Zhen.”
The crowd understood.
The timing was really too special. Even if Chu Liuyue and Rong Zhen were on very good terms, they shouldn’t be together on the day that her marriage was granted.
Besides, everyone knew that the two of them had conflicts before. It was suspicious for the both of them to be together.
Emperor Jiawen asked again, “What happened afterward? Did you see where they went?”
Situ Xingchen shook her head. “I was only looking from afar then. As I was rushing back, I left, and I don’t know where they went.”
Emperor Jiawen nodded. “Sit down.”
Then, he turned to Chu Liuyue. “Liuyue, you’ve heard her words. What do you have to say?”
Chu Liuyue lightly knocked against the chair’s armrest and looked at Situ Xingchen while in deep thought. Situ Xingchen’s previous words are actually very ambiguous, but Si Meng’s presence has increased her credibility greatly. After all, even Emperor Jiawen didn’t know of Si Meng’s existence before, so it’s very easy to make people believe her once she talked about him. This also means that Situ Xingchen had long known of Si Meng’s existence.
Perhaps she even knows about what happened that day. However, she can’t fully state it because of some reason, so she has to use a tactful manner. After all, she can still push the responsibility for Rong Zhen’s incident to me even if this is so.
Chu Liuyue replied calmly. “I didn’t see Rong Zhen that day. That day, Prince Li sent someone to send Father and me home; the Chu family then sent us an invitation. Father went over while I stayed at home and didn’t leave. The Chu family can vouch for this.”
Quite a few people knew about Chu Ning going over to the Chu Residence, and they had even talked about it in private for a period of time.
Everyone knew that the Chu family regretted chasing Chu Ning and his daughter out and that they were thinking of ways to convince them to come back.
Chu Ning said, “That’s right. Yue’er planned to go with me that day, but I stopped her. Hence, she stayed at home.”
“Even if that’s the case, who can prove that she didn’t go out after you left, Lord Chu Ning?” Rong Jin retorted, “Besides, the two of you are father and daughter, so we can’t fully trust your testimony.”
Chu Ning looked serious.
They had no ways of retorting if the other party said that. This was because he and Yue’er really couldn’t prove that Yue’er was home the entire time.
Chu Liuyue suddenly said, “I heard that the hairpin’s appearance was pretty ambiguous and that even the Empress couldn’t say where it came from. Then, how will everyone know what you said was the truth?”
“You!” The Empress was very angered. Chu Liuyue really knows how to touch a sore spot!
His Majesty was already very upset with her because of the hairpin the day before. By mentioning it again, Chu Liuyue was just pushing the Empress into hot water.
Rong Jin knitted his brows and hid the hairpin. He originally thought that this hairpin was solid evidence, but judging from his mother’s reaction, it wasn’t easy to say that it truly was…
The two parties had their own testimonies, and the situation reached a stalemate.
Rong Jiu suddenly said, “Actually, the crux of the matter is to find Rong Zhen. Her Majesty, Rong Zhen’s pearl of essence is broken, and it’s impossible for her to leave the palace quietly with her abilities. This also means that she left with Si Meng’s help. Even though Si Meng is already dead, did he really not leave behind any clues…?”
The Empress was even more frustrated. She knew that every time they mentioned Si Meng, it would fill His Majesty’s heart with even more dissatisfaction and hatred. But in order to push the blame to Chu Liuyue fully, Si Meng was a very important character.
She rubbed her temples and said, “No, Si Meng died very suddenly.”
Speaking of this, she suddenly paused and looked at Chu Liuyue suspiciously. “Oh, right. Coming to think of it, Si Meng is a stage-five warrior, and an average person is not his match. The person must be formidable for them to kill him in such a short amount of time. In the entire Imperial City, there aren’t many people of such standards.”
Chu Liuyue raised her brows and asked delightfully, “What? Her Majesty, are you suspecting that I killed him? Aren’t you overestimating me, a stage-two warrior?”