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73 Ruins of a Plan

    By the time madam Lu arrived, it was already the peak of the night with endless streams of water pouring down the small abandoned store.

    Madam Lu frowned upon entering the room and smelling the pungent scent of mold, mixed with putrid blood. Though an umbrella had been held over her head, keeping it dry, her cloth embroidered shoes had been soaked through, and the hem of her dress had also become muddy.

    As she entered, she saw those useless servants with pale faces, standing next to a stretcher that a white cloth had been placed over, outlining the distinct shape of a human body.

    "Lift the cloth." Madam Lu ordered.

    The servant slowly lifted the cloth, making sure to close his eyes as he did, as the face beneath was one from the legends and nightmarish tales that no one wished to see at night.

    Beneath the white cloth was that horrible countenance that had twisted and contorted in pain from the excruciating torture. The corpse could be said to no longer look human. Merely a pile of flesh and bones.

    Even madam Lu, who had seen the worst of humanity felt the urge to puke.

    She gazed into the empty orbitals that she had once seen every night. When she had seduced this man into helping her do her biddings. If not for that intimate relationship, what else would she have to make him help her?

    All men had desires, she believed, money, power, and women were just they all wanted. She had never believed there would ever be a single man who would remain true to his beloved till the day they parted.

    Stopping her train of thoughts, she returned to the bigger picture. Ma Wei was a person she frequently contacted to do her unsavory business, and he also knew some things about her. To be tortured this much, she would not believe it if someone told her that he did not say a single word.

    She knew what a coward he was, all it took was evidence of him secretly trading with the people of Northern Wei Kingdom, and she had already gotten this man to board her ship.

    Why did this trouble arise so close to the new year?

    Were the matters of the fugitives coming north and the emperor's pursuing them not enough?

    Now, this!

    Madam Lu was fuming. Her leg furiously kicked one of the servants who was kneeling upon the soaked ground.

    The man fell over but did not dare get up.

    At this, madam Lu got more furious and screamed "You bunch of useless dogs, all you had to do was watch over a single person, and you couldn't even do just that! Tell me, what's the point om me continuing to feed you?!"

    Once she finished yelling, she went to kick the others.

    "Madam Lu, please calm down!" Older servant Zhao tried to pull madam Lu away from the people she was aiming to kick.

    "How can I calm down when it's like this. Whoever it is may know what we've been doing! How can I calm down at a time like this?!" Madam Lu asked.

    "Whatever the matter is, they have no proof, and besides, isn't Ma Wei the only witness, he's already dead. A confession given by a tortured person can be easily refuted, especially when he has died in the process of his interrogation. Besides, the emperor is so far away, and his powers cannot reach so far. Besides, with your yelling, are you hoping to alert every person on this street?" Servant Zhao spoke solemnly.

    At servent Zhao's words, madam Lu calmed herself down. Indeed, what servent Zhao said was true, she should not think about it too much. It took one month's time riding on the fastest horse to get to the capital of Eastern Jin. Since it was an important document, it must have been going by horse. There was no need to worry about it now, and when the time has come for any person to receive it, the case would already become stale by then. With the evidence rotting beneath the cold dirt.

    "Thank you, servent Zhao, for reminding me. I almost allowed my thoughts to get in the way of our business." Madam Lu quietly said.

    "No need, it is what this old servant should do." Servant Zhao bowed, and as her sagged and wrinkled skin showed some satisfaction.

    Thinking till here, she had to change her plans.

    "Servant Zhao, can you take care of this matter?" Madam Lu asked.

    "Of course, this old servant will obey madam's orders."

    Everyone looked at older servant Zhao with awe. She was like the invisible shadow that followed behind madam Lu, a shadow that one rarely noticed. But now, she had done the nearly impossible task of calming madam Lu in her angry state. Such a task was commended by all the servants who would undoubtedly face her wrath.

    Seeing that madam Lu had left, everyone let out a breath of relief.

    Servant Zhao came closer to the corpse. Her face was unchanging as she carefully placed the white cloth over the marred head of Ma Wei.

    Once she was done, she looked toward the four servants who had discovered the body and said "Have his body inspected and send the report to me. After that, there is no need for anyone to know of his death, just bury him. Make sure no one knows of this."

    She watched as the stretcher was loaded on another carriage, quietly departing into the night, before she boarded the carriage of madam Lu.

    "Has it been taken care of?"

    "Yes."

    "Good. We can leave now." Madam Lu slightly raised her voice, as the carriage slowly moved away from the small desolated place.

    There was no need to worry about cleaning up the small store, as they were certain that the heavy rains would soon wash the blood stains away. Even the foul smell that had lingered there would soon disperse in time.

    The carriage's soft sounds completely blended in perfectly and soundlessly with the surrounding music of sleepy rains that could seemingly allow one to fall asleep soothingly and with ease. It was as though the carriage was a mere mirage, made from the dreams of countless people, wishing for a way out of the slowly drowning city.
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