At the royal palace, Imperial Study.
Emperor Jiawen looked at the booklet in his hands and increasingly knitted his brows tighter as he read it.
He finally threw the item aside. “Chu Ning, I told you to do your best to investigate Heptagon Alley, but you only found out about these useless things?”
Chu Ning—who was standing respectfully—immediately knelt down and said, “Your Majesty, I’ve already used all the connections and methods that I could, but I could only find out so much up till now. Even though there are more than hundreds of skeletons at Heptagon Alley, we can’t find any other information other than the fact that they were all cultivators.”
“Anything that could reveal their identity had been specifically taken care of, and we can’t find anything. Even… Except for the corpse that was hung, all the other skeletons didn’t have any clothing at all.”
The person who did all of this was clearly very meticulous.
Chu Ning literally didn’t sleep and rest during the past few days. He had even dug three feet under the entire Heptagon Alley, but he really couldn’t find anything other than piles of skeletons.
Emperor Jiawen rubbed his brows in frustration. He knew that this incident couldn’t be investigated so easily and that there wasn’t much use to just sit there. However, he was filled with worry whenever he thought of the copper vat stained with dried blood.
Chu Ning looked at Emperor Jiawen and continued, “According to our investigations, Her Majesty would head to Heptagon Alley once every two months, and she would do it very discreetly. Every time, she would only stay there for a short while, so she hadn’t been discovered after so long.”
Emperor Jiawen’s face darkened. In actual fact, he had already personally asked the Empress a few times, but her lips were very tight. From start to end, she kept insisting that she did everything alone. She didn’t mention whether she prepared it for Rong Jin and why she wanted to do so.
In the middle, Emperor Jiawen’s subordinates had even tortured the Empress with his consent, but they still couldn’t discover any useful clues.
Once he thought about how the Empress cheated him for so many years and how he had no clue at all, he felt coldness spread from his legs. It then attacked his brain, causing his entire person to be chilled.
“Your Majesty, the Third Prince wants to see you,” said Eunuch Min outside carefully.
“Let him in.” Emperor Jiawen took a deep breath in and looked at Rong Jiu—who opened the door to enter.
Emperor Jiawen asked, “Do you have any clues on your side?”
Once Rong Jiu came in and saw Chu Ning kneeling on the floor, he realized that Chu Ning didn’t find out much.
First, he respectfully bowed before slowly saying, “I’ve already personally interrogated all of Her Majesty’s subordinates in the palace and found some news that might be of use.”
Emperor Jiawen finally perked up. “Quickly, speak!”
Rong Jiu said, “According to the Empress’s personal palace maid, she said that the Empress had a small box that she kept on her own and didn’t allow anyone else to touch it. From time to time, the Empress would lock herself in the palace. At first, the palace maids didn’t care about it, but there was one time when a eunuch accidentally barged in and finally seemed to see what was hidden in Her Majesty’s box.”
Emperor Jiawen thought for a moment. “What kind of box is it? Why does she think so highly of it? Why did I never know about this?”
Rong Jiu laughed to himself. Emperor Jiawen and the Empress have no feelings for each other whatsoever, especially Emperor Jiawen. He probably doesn’t even care about the Empress at all. If he had once cared more about the Empress, he wouldn’t have let her do so many horrendous things under his eyes.
The Empress went in and out of Heptagon Alley many times, and she has even hunted and killed so many cultivators to increase the copper vat’s strength. Yet, Emperor Jiawen didn’t know anything about it, let alone a small box. It’s too easy to lie to Emperor Jiawen.
Thinking of this, Rong Jiu couldn’t mock himself. This is also the reason why the Empress didn’t get any of the punishments she deserved when she silently killed my mother. Emperor Jiawen wasn’t any good to my mother as well.
Rong Jiu suppressed his feelings and looked calm. “I couldn’t find out much. After all, the palace maids don’t dare to ask much about Her Majesty’s items. However… the eunuch who accidentally found out about this fell and drowned in the lake not long after. After that, everyone in Her Majesty’s palace avoided this topic.”
This time, he had to use some methods to finally find out about this.
“I think that many problems can be solved if we can find that box.”
Emperor Jiawen looked stern. “You’re saying that the box has something to do with Heptagon Alley?”
“It’s just my conjecture, but this is the only possible direction as we don’t have any other clues.”
Emperor Jiawen thought for a while and felt that Rong Jiu’s words made sense. “Since this is so, Rong Jiu, go find the Empress and make her hand the item over.”
Rong Jiu hesitated for a while. “Father, since Her Majesty treasures the box so much, she won’t hand it over so easily…”
“Tell her that I might give Rong Jin a chance if she honestly hands the box over. If she continues being stubborn… She will know what happens next.”
An undetectable cold gaze flashed across Rong Jiu’s eyes. “I understand.” Then, he hurriedly dismissed himself.
Emperor Jiawen glanced at Chu Ning helplessly. “Chu Ning, you should work harder on your side too. If it really can’t be done, you should try working on it from other areas. Thoroughly check all those that had close relations to the Empress and Rong Jin before.”
When Chu Ning was dismissed, Emperor Jiawen relaxed his body and leaned against the chair.
Chu Ning is good at everything, but… he doesn’t have enough methods. In comparison, Rong Jiu is much more efficient. After all, he had been trained by the Northwest Army… Thinking of this, Emperor Jiawen vaguely felt uncomfortable in his heart.
He had never thought of leaving the position for Rong Jiu as he really couldn’t like this son of his. Also, Rong Jiu exuded a very strong murderous aura, which made even Emperor Jiawen scared sometimes.
But it now seemed like Rong Jin really couldn’t make it. Amongst the remaining sons, Rong Jiu actually became the most suitable one. Even if he was cold-blooded and harsh, it was better than being frail and weak.
What a pity… Emperor Jiawen sighed deeply as if he had aged by a few years at that moment. If only Rong Xiu’s body was better…
In the Empress’s bedroom.
The once crowded and glamorous place had now turned cold and miserable, leaving behind a few solemn guards that trapped the Empress within.
When Situ Xingchen came here, her heart skipped a beat. How much does Emperor Jiawen hate the Empress for him to treat her like this…?
A guard saw Situ Xingchen, and he immediately went up. “Eldest Princess Situ, please stop here. His Majesty has commanded that nobody is allowed to go near here.”
Situ Xingchen took out a plaque from her sleeves and showed off her authority as the eldest princess. “I came here by his command.”
The guard glanced at it and recognized that it was indeed His Majesty’s plaque, so he hurriedly made way. “Eldest Princess Situ, go ahead!”
Situ Xingchen put away the plaque and walked into the Empress’s residence calmly.