Chapter 112 : Frantic (Part II)
Trigger Warning: mentions of abortion, disturbing remains of a dead body, placenta.
Xia Yan knitted her brows, sensing that something was amiss. However, spoken words were like spilled water, and there was no other option at this point.
Jiang Su Su walked to stand before Xuan Li, bestowing him a full curtsey, “Begging that Your Highness would preside over this matter.”
Xuan Li reached out to support Jiang Su Su up. In the past he had never paid her any attention but at this moment a beauty was right before his eyes, her every movement captivating and mesmerising, and her natural features evoked feelings of pity. Xuan Li could not help revealing a sliver of surprise. His voice gentled in reply, “This prince will not be remiss in doing his honor bound duty.” After saying this, he gave orders to his chief guard, “All of you go investigate, be thorough in your search.”
Looking at those two people standing together, Jiang Ruan couldn’t help the disgust that arose in her heart, “In order to show impartiality, please take both Mother’s and my personal maids along. Furthermore, we shouldn’t restrict the search to Mother’s courtyard but search all the courtyards in the fu– what do you think?”
Xuan Li was taken aback but smiled, “Naturally that’s for the best.”
Very quickly the guards began their search, while the atmosphere within the hall grew frantic. Xia Jiao Jiao hid behind Shen Rou, her eyes revealing her delight in the others’ misfortune. At the mere thought of Jiang Ruan being dragged off to court, her reputation destroyed, Xia Jiao Jiao could not resist smiling in delight. Jiang Su Su stood beside Xuan Li, intermittently lifting her head to gaze at him. Xuan Li smiled back at her in consolation, the two of them together depicting a picture of a concerned loving couple.
Jiang Li gnashed her teeth as she silently cursed Jiang Su Su for being a vixen. Her own mother had just lost a child and yet she still had the heart to seduce a man.
Jiang Quan softly consoled Xia Yan who was nestled in his arms and neglected to notice the aggrieved look in Hong Ying’s eyes. Second Yiniang looked at Hong Ying’s abdomen and thought that if her baby were to be lost too, that would indeed be the best outcome.
Xia Cheng’s attention was transfixed on Jiang Ruan. The more Jiang Ruan was calm and collected, the more his heart felt an increasing sense of unease. He was a stately Marquis and in all his years he couldn’t believe that he would feel an impending sense of fear all because of a mere girl. If this was known to others, that would indeed be the joke of the day. However, back then at the Xia family’s ancestral hall, Xia Cheng had personally experienced Jiang Ruan’s strategic manipulation. And now, moving forward three years, Jiang Ruan’s schemes and machinations could only have become more profound and intricate when compared to before. So how could he not be afraid?
Time seemed to pass by quietly but it wasn’t long before one of Xuan Li’s guards returned to the hall after completing his search, followed by Lin Lang, and Tian Zhu in the rear.
Xuan Li asked, “Did you find any medication?”
“To answer Your Highness, there was none.” The chief guard answered.
Hearing this, tears streamed down Xia Yan’s face, “Ruan’er, what more can you say for yourself?”
“What more is there to say, obviously it’s to have her dragged off to court.” Xia Jiao Jiao immediately responded, “This kind of poisonous heart. Your Highness will need to do right by my aunt and my dead cousin!”
“Evil daughter, aren’t you going to admit your sins now? Jiang Quan bellowed.
At the very same time that he saw Jiang Ruan smile, Xia Cheng noticed that the blood had drained from Lin Lang’s face, and he felt as though he heard a “kaboom’ drop in his heart. Before he could utter a word, he heard Tian Zhu coldly state, “Master, while we didn’t discover any abortion medication in Furen’s courtyard, we managed to find this. Please take a look.” Then, she presented something with both hands. Xia Yan was stricken with horror once she saw the items. It was an article of clothing and a pair of light green boots.
At a glance, there was nothing particularly wrong with discovering an article of clothing and a pair of boots but as Jiang Quan unraveled the article, immediately his face turned ashen. That’s because the clothing was very large and the pair of boots were much larger than Jiang Quan’s size. The Jiang family men were of the literary aristocracy and were of a smaller stature but this article of clothing was obviously prepared for someone both robust and sturdy. It wouldn’t even fit Jiang Chao or Jiang Xin Zhi; moreover there weren’t any other men within the fu. On top of that, in a hidden part of the collar of the outfit was an embroidery of twin lotus on one stalk*,
並蒂同心* 并蒂莲(bìngdìlián) – lit. twin lotus flowers on one stalk / fig. a symbol of a devoted married couple.
Since the symbol was in a hidden spot, it would not be seen when worn but for this piece of clothing to appear now, it caused Jiang Quan to feel a great deal of humiliation and shame. Absolutely livid, he threw the items into Xia Yan’s face, “Slut!”
Xia Yan was stupefied, and upon closer inspection, her face paled in fright. Harriedly she beseeched, “Master, this concubine has never done such a thing. Master, this is all slander and defamation from Ruan’er!”
“Mother surely knows how to jest,” Jiang Ruan placidly responded, “Since Mother was found to be pregnant, you have insisted on not being disturbed, so Ruan niang had not taken a single step into Yan Hua Yuan. What’s more, I have been standing right here along with Father, so how can Mother say I slandered and framed you. Furthermore, I’d like to ask Mother, what type of method could I have employed to be able to hide something like this in your personal chambers under your watchful eyes?” Then as if she thought of something else, she smiled and added, “Moreover, in regards to Mother’s distinctive embroidery work, I’m sure Father is most knowledgeable and should be able to distinguish it at a glance. Unless Father is not able to recognise it?”
By now, Jiang Quan was fuming so much his whole body was trembling. His own wife’s handiwork, obviously he was most familiar with it. From the moment he laid eyes on that article of clothing and boots, he was able to ascertain that it was indeed the handiwork of Xia Yan! No matter how much he usually was partial towards Xia Yan, generally overlooking her meager treatment of Jiang Ruan, no man could remain indifferent when he was made aware of how his wife had cuckolded him. Jiang Quan was totally resentful and enraged towards Xia Yan. Where could there be any of his usual tenderness towards her anymore?
Upon seeing the spectacle, Xia Cheng glowered at Jiang Ruan, “What kind of underhanded actions have you done?”
Jiang Su Su also fell to her knees in tears, “Father, you should be clear on what kind of a person Mother is, so how can you suspect her?”
Jiang Quan looked down at his most beloved daughter. For three years she had lived a spartan and destitute life at the ancestral temple, and he felt some remorse towards her. Also, since Jiang Su Su’s return, she had become more sensible, obedient and well behaved. Watching her pitiful cries caused his heart to soften.
However, once Jiang Ruan had undertaken a task, she would not leave anyone any leeway. She cast a look towards Tian Zhu, and Tian Zhu continued indifferently, “Second Miss, the servants have also uncovered some suspicious items from your courtyard.”
Lin Lang’s face became even more white, almost as if she would faint right away. Jiang Su Su knitted her brows, as Tian Zhu took a cloth bag from the guards and threw it before everyone.
The thing in the cloth bag seemed to be stained with blood and a heavy fishy scent arose. Since Tian Zhu had thrown down the bag, the cloth bag had unraveled and whatever was in it fell out. It was a blood coated clump of flesh and the sight was quite nauseating for those watching.
“What is this?” Xia Yan was startled, somehow finding that piece of cloth somewhat familiar.
“A dead fetus.” Tian Zhu was by virtue a killer so she answered with an air of icy detachment. Additionally, once she spoke such eerie words, a cold silence descended upon the room and a chill entered everyone’s heart.
Jiang Ruan smiled, “Mother, at this point are you still going to persist in saying that Ruan niang deliberately pushed you? Isn’t it obvious that you took a medication for abortion awhile ago, then hid our little brother in Second Sister’s courtyard, and have now turned around to incriminate me.”
“What nonsense are you spouting!” Xia Yan began to get frantic, as she had no idea how this thing had come to be? Impatiently she questioned, “Su’er, what in the world is this? What’s happening here?”
A hint of agitation flashed past Jiang Su Su’s eyes. She had not expected Jiang Ruan to repeatedly torment and vex her, even to the point of discovering this matter. Yet, in front of Xuan Li, Jiang Su Su could only delicately reply, “Mother, this is a placenta. Su niang learned that partaking of an infant’s placenta was beneficial in maintaining a youthful appearance, moreover, you also know how I fell off the cliff.... However, this is definitely not our little brother as Su niang bought it from a medical store.”
“A placenta?” Shen Rou covered her mouth, her expression shifting as she looked upon Jiang Su Su. A placenta was such a bloody item, it was unthinkable that this weak and feeble niece could stomach ingesting such a nauseating thing.
Jiang Quan was also quite disappointed. The Jiang Su Su in his heart was like a pure and honest fairy, seated high above all others. She was his pride and joy but right now, she had utterly trampled and discredited his reputation. Xuan Li’s expression was also slightly disfavorable, whereas Jiang Su Su became aggravated but could only pretend to be aggrieved.
“Master, you’ve heard it right, this is a placenta but not my stillborn.” Xia Yan quickly tried to explain, while catching a glimpse of Lin Lang’s sheet white appearance. Why was Lin Lang so frightened, as if she was going to collapse from severe oppression? Xia Yan suspiciously paused, as a terrifying notion flashed through her mind.
No.... That’s impossible. She once again perused that cloth bag, that familiar looking brown material- it was almost identical to the material used by Lin Lang to remove the fetus after she had miscarried...
“Ahhhhh —-” Xia Yan let out a blood curdling screech, causing everyone in the house to startle in fright. She collapsed and imploded within as she tugged on her hair, “It can’t be, it can’t be, it can’t be....”
“Mother, what’s wrong?” Jiang Su Su became overwrought as she took in the situation, and rushed to support Xia Yan up. Xia Yan had not known where she found the strength to shove aside Jiang Su Su while retreating a few steps, looking as if she had seen the devil himself.
“Mother, what’s wrong? It’s me, Su Su.” Jiang Su Su was rather upset with Xia Yan for behaving in such a manner in front of Xuan Li.
Xia Yan yet again collapsed and started tugging on her hair in anguish. Jiang Su Su ate infant placenta; a sister had eaten the placenta that belonged to her brother! If this matter were to be spoken aloud, it would be the pinnacle of absurdity and cause people’s blood to run cold, yet, against all odds, it had happened!
Jiang Ruan’s lips slightly lifted at the corners. This was her goal. Xia Yan had spent her life lavishing Jiang Su Su with her love, but to come to the realization that the child of her womb had become the placenta that her daughter had purchased from the medical store, it would become her very own nightmare.
There is retribution for good and evil; it’s the way of the Heavens.
Suddenly Xia Yan went berserk and while everyone was trying to make heads or tails of the proceedings, a middle aged man ran in. On his back was a medicine sachet, and as he rushed in enraged, even the servants at the door were not able to hold him back. When he spotted Xia Yan, he began to rain curses, “You black-hearted woman, you thought you could make a fool out of me! Attempting to hoodwink me with those lead coated fake pieces of silver! Out of the question! You will have to accompany me to see the magistrate!”
Lu Zhu blinked and immediately went up to restrain the person asking, “Excuse me Mister, why are you tugging at our furen?”
“Pei!” The man was in a towering rage, “This person miscarried a few days ago and it was I who came to help her deliver. She told me not to divulge a single word about what had transpired, and had even given me a huge sum of silver for my silence. However when I was on my way home, I stopped over at a shop to buy some things only to realise that the silver was actually fake!”
“Utter drivel!” Jiang Su Su raged, “Who bribed you to slander my mother? Be careful or else I’ll drag you before the magistrate for a hearing.”
“Humph!” The man was not that easily handled as he continued with a sneer, “You still won’t believe me, then you can head into the capital’s Bao Zhi Hall. At that time, it was I who prescribed medication for this woman, and there are some particular herbs that are only available at Bao Zhi Hall. Bao Zhi Hall also keeps a record of all the sales and purchases made, you can go verify that there. Then we will know who is actually a liar!”
Bao Zhi Hall was the largest medical store in the capital, and their business ethos was based on honesty and integrity, otherwise it was synonymous with destroying the business reputation, thus there was no subtlefelge or dishonesty. If Xia Yan had indeed obtained a prescription for medication required after suffering a miscarriage, then this would definitely be found in Bao Zhi Hall’s record.
That man, still unable to vent his anger, was about to drag Xia Yan who was sitting on the ground, “You woman, hurry and go with me to the magistrate!”
However, currently, Xia Yan was in a state of insanity and dazed, thus there was no way to even have an argument with her.
“That’s enough!” Jiang Quan finally bellowed out furiously, his eyes bloodshot, and both his cheeks trembling. Obviously he was overwrought. This had confirmed the fact that Xia Yan had already lost the baby some time back. Moreover, in his heart he could bet that the baby belonged to the owner of that piece of clothing. However, he would not be able to get an answer out of Xia Yan in her current state of mind. In a frosty tone he instructed, “Support and escort Furen back into the room and keep a tight watch over her!”
This was ultimately a house arrest for Xia Yan. Xia Cheng could not have imagined this outcome of today’s visit and looked askance at Xuan Li before trailing after Jiang Quan, “Son-in-law, regarding this....”
Now that the show had come to a close, Shen Rou and Xia Jiao Jiao had no reason to stay any longer. Xia Jiao Jiao was totally disappointed to not be able to see the fall of Jiang Ruan. However, Jiang Li and Second Yiniang were still rather pleased at the outcome. They had been with Jiang Quan for so many years and were well aware that this time it was almost impossible for Xia Yan to turn the tide and return to her former position.
Hong Ying wanted to comfort and console Jiang Quan, so naturally she would no longer remain in the hall. For a moment, all who remained in the hall were Jiang Ruan and Jiang Su Su. Jiang Su Su stepped towards Jiang Ruan with a somber expression, “Today, this was yet another one of your brilliant works. Da Jiejie’s machinations are indeed ingenious.”
“Second Sister, aren’t you even a tad bit curious as to why Mother has suddenly lost her mind?” Suddenly Jiang Ruan’s quiet gaze fell upon her asking.
Jiang Su Su was taken aback, “What?”
Jiang Ruan smiled slightly, and there was a strange vibe that Jiang Su Su beheld in that smile, only to see Jiang Ruan looking towards that bloodied clump of flesh and softly say, “Because, that placenta was in actual fact the very same one that Mother personally discarded.”