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Chapter 82 Part 1: Three Division Trial, Chu xiang saves the day

    "Mother!" "Zumu!" "Wai zumu!" "Laotaijun!"

    When the people of Fu Guo Gong Fu saw their staunch and cool-headed laotaijun suddenly collapse they  exclaimed in succession, equally unable to deal with the Imperial Decree. One by one they rushed forth to carefully support Gu laotaijun.

    Gu laotaijun's personal mama carefully held her body up as a hand massaged a pulse point, but was not able to wake Gu laotaijun. It caused a panic for all the people present, the yatou and pozi ran of to fetch Xiao Nie dafu and bring over a sedan.

    Ji Shu Yu's heart trembled at the sight of her mother-in-law's state, but she still managed to maintain a stable appearance in front of everybody. Her face remained steady and she personally helped laotaijun onto the sedan, then she ordered the mama to watch over her well. She personally knelt down to receive the royal decree.

    "We thank the Emperor's for his kindness!" Ji Shu Yu brought Qu Fei Qing and Yun Qian Meng with her to kowtow, then stood up. She held the imperial edict in her hands, despite her calm expression, she kept thinking about the state of the fu so her heart was extremely chaotic. Various problems mixing together, even a person of her caliber in managing the fu could not help showing her worry in her eyes.

    The eunuch saw the great changes in Fu Guo Gong Fu, along with the male masters of the fu not present, he sighed and thought about the fickleness of life before he said placatingly, "Hou furen please relax! If the young master really didn't do any of this, the Emperor will declare his innocence."

    Ji Shu Yu's face was still pale but she nodded, then said slowly, "I appreciate gonggong's kindness for bringing news of my son. Not only do I have loyalty and patriotism towards Xi Chu, my heart believes in the Emperor, as does the whole of Fu Guo Gong Fu. No treason would arise form here-may the Emperor reign for all eternity-I naturally believe that the Emperor will declare Qu Zhang Qing's innocence."

    "That is natural!" When the eunuch heard Ji Shu Yu being strong-willed he nodded his head, then turned around to leave.

    As Yun Qian Meng was listening to the proceedings her brows were knitted and her bright eyes were lowered. When she lifted her head she calmly looked at the departing eunuch and said urgently, "Gonggong, please halt."

    Hearing Yun Qian Meng's voice, the eunuch slowly came to a stop, face calm as he turned around. He saw that it was the xiang fu's da xiaojie that spoke up, and his expression slowly became gentler as he asked, "What is it, Yun xiaojie?"

    Yun Qian Meng took a small step forward, her slightly narrowed eyes looked at the palace eunuch who had been with Emperor Yu Qian for many years, and asked calmly, "How did the Empress Dowager take the news? And what is the Emperor's take on the matter?"

    At Yun Qian Meng's words, not only the eunuch, but Ji Shu Yu and Qu Fei Qing looked at her in alarm. But it was only for a moment. The question was, after all, only trying to find out how the Emperor felt about the situation.

    And based on his treatment of the Empress Dowager, one would be able to know his position on the matter.

    This chief eunuch saw Yun xiang's da xiaojie being unexpectedly calm, even finding the holes in today's sudden turn of events. He was originally not too interested in this whole affair but now he gestured for the lesser eunuchs to take three steps back, then he said in a low volume only to the three people in front of him, "When nucai left the palace, the Emperor sent eunuchs to the Flying Phoenix Palace, telling the Empress Dowager to remain there today and rest. He had not made mention of other things."

    This was alarming. Even though the Emperor did not strictly order the Empress Dowager to remain in the Flying Phoenix Palace, this action showed that even the Empress Dowager was under suspicion. Asking for the Empress Dowager's help now would be futile.

    "If there is nothing else, Yun xiaojie, nucai will return to the palace." Yun Qian Meng did not pursue any more questioning. Now that Fu Guo Gong Fu was a hot potato, the eunuch did not want to be implicated along with them, and thought better of staying too long. He bowed to the three of them and turned to leave through the gates of Fu Guo Gong Fu along with his attendants.

    "Mother! He is being framed, gege wouldn't do such a thing. Our Qu Clan has been loyal for many generations, how can the Emperor be suspicious of us?" Qu Fei Qing had experienced many things these past few days, she was no longer the pure and carefree girl from before. This version, with her steadfastness and calmness, surprised everybody.

    But Qu Zhang Qing was injured and imprisoned, laotaijun fainted, her own father was on the brink of death. Qu Fei Qing was suffering greatly, her voice had been low when she spoke as she watched the retreating backs of the palace eunuchs.

    But her question was also what Ji Shu Yu wanted to know very much.

    Emperor Yu Qian had ordered that the people of Fu Guo Gong Fu were not allowed to leave. Even if they wanted to hear of news they would not be able to.

    "Fei'er, never ever doubt the Emperor's decisions, especially now when Fu Guo Gong Fu is in dire straits. You cannot shoot your mouth off. If other people were to hear, everybody in Fu Guo Gong Fu would be put to death and not be allowed a proper burial, understand?" After the servants closed the gates of Fu Guo Gong Fu, Ji Shu Yu immediately berated her.

    Ji Shu Yu was being uncharacteristically strict with her, so Qu Fei Qing perceived that she had spoken out of turn. She immediately nodded and did not say more.

    "Jiumu, let's all go check up on wai zumu. This matter was a heavy blow for wai zumu." Yun Qian Meng whispered to Ji Shu Yu as the courtyard was still full of servants.

    Ji Shu Yun nodded slightly then led them into Rui Lin Yuan.

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    At this moment the yatou and pozi of Rui Lin Yuan were gathered in the courtyard. The three of them stepped into the inner room and saw several taiyi treating laotaijun with moxibustion. The faces of the pozi and yatou had been full of worry, when they saw Ji Shu Yu and company enter, they finally let out a breath of relief, as if they found a pillar on which to lean on.

    Seeing her mother-in-law's face full of needles, Ji Shu Yu stepped to the bedside and asked with worry, "How is mother?"

    A taiyi stood up and bowed to Ji Shu Yu with hands in front of him then replied, "Hou furen, laotaijun had received the shock so suddenly, along with the fact that she is old, her body could not bear it. I am treating her to steady her state of mind, when she wakes up, we'll give her herbal tea to strengthen her."

    Ji Shu Yu nodded to the taiyi. Her eyes full of worry as she looked at Gu laotaijun on the bed. She was slightly glad that the taiyi were not present for the reading of the Imperial Decree, else with the current situation, Xiao Nie dafu alone would not be able to attend to everybody.

    "Hou furen, laotaijun is awake."

    Ji Shu Yu, Qu Fei Qing, and Yun Qiang Meng stepped forward. They saw the taiyi pull out the needles from laotaijun's face as they entered. Kneeling in front of the bed, they looking at laotaijun tensely. Qu Fei Qing spoke in an agonized voice, "Zumu, you've awaken!"

    Gu laotaijun looked around her bed discovering the room full of people. She remembered what happened and her heart fell. She looked coldly at the mama standing at the end of the bed, commanding her and the taiyi to leave the room. When only the four of them were left inside, Gu laotaijun then said resolutely, "Fu Guo Gong Fu would never commit treason. This matter is a deliberate framing."

    Gu laotaijun's expression was cold and her tone unflinching. Yun Qian Meng knew Fu Guo Gong Fu to be deeply loyal, and she pondered the issue in her heart, fully aware of the conspiracy. The events happened so suddenly and caught everybody off guard, going so far as to make Emperor Yu Qian create an Imperial Decree declaring houfu treasonous. It was such a grave crime, who would be able to bear it?

    Even if Qu Zhang Qing's innocence was proven, in the eyes of the people, Fu Guo Gong Fu already set a precedent for treason, positions in the court would become impossible to attain.

    The one who set the trap had been very meticulous, normal people would not be able to compare.

    She was aware of the relationship between Emperor Yu Qian and Fu Guo Gong Fu. He ordinarily had utmost confidence in Fu Guo Gong Fu.

    With even the Empress Dowager put under house arrest, it was frightening to think that the Emperor was not merely doing so to cover up rumors, but that his heart had already suspected Fu Guo Gong Fu!

    After all, the Emperor of the Li Dynasty was absolutely intolerant of double-faced subjects. Whether or not Fu Guo Gong Fu had a hand in helping the current Emperor into the throne, the Emperor could not sacrifice his position for a moment of weakness. He'd rather mistakenly kill a hundred than mistakenly let go of one.

    In the current Xi Chu, those who wanted to damage the relationship of the Empress Dowager and Fu Guo Gong Fu with Emperor Yu Qian were definitely a dime a dozen. To locate the true suspect would be a long and tiring process.

    How could Ji Shu Yu not know that her own son was being wrongly accused? But at the moment, they were being put under house arrest within the fu; it would be impossible to go out and make inquiries. This added to the suffocating sense of helplessness. With nothing to do, Ji Shu Yu's brows furrowed and more worry lines deepened on her forehead.

    "Zumu, the Emperor has now placed the Empress Dowager under house arrest within the Flying Phoenix Palace. San shu is not only sitting pretty as the Minister of Revenue, but has also placed his loyalties with Chen wang. I'm afraid that he'll take this opportunity to bring down Fu Guo Gong Fu! At this time, zumu must stay strong or else those who stand to benefit will be the vile enemies of ours!"

    Qu Fei Qing knew it was inappropriate to share so much detail with Gu laotaijun in her current state, as she might be prone to another breakdown. However, in moments of great distress facing Fu Guo Gong Fu, Gu laotaijun had always been the one leading. She naturally needed to be made aware of these matters, so that she could think of ways to resolve the current situation.

    Hearing so, Gu laotaijun's face showed a glimmer of a cold smile. She waited until Ji Shu Yu helped her sit upright before saying slowly, "Our enemy... is not just Qu Yan alone. As long as one has power, anyone would want to sit on the throne. We are nothing but other people's stepping stone. I don't care how other people think, I don't care how much they want to sit in the royal throne-I only want to protect my beloved grandson, protect Fu Guo Gong Fu, protect Qu Clan's generation after generation of clean and noble reputation. And yet today, Zhang Qing is being held in prison. The people behind this conspiracy is surely thinking of ways to incriminate him and make him suffer. I believe in Zhang Qing's determination and will, but I'm afraid there will be people meddling behind the scenes!"

    Gu laotaijun's mouth, though not naming names, was evidently referring to Su Yuan and the others.

    Cases going through the joint hearing of the three departments in Xi Chu was first heard by the three legal senior officers, before the final decision was passed down by the Emperor.

    These three legal senior officers were the Minister of Justice, Chief Executive of the Imperial Prison, and the Imperial Censor of the Left.

    The Imperial Censor of the Left was one of Xi Chu's incorruptible public figures, the outstandingly honest and upright Qin daren. He never looked at the case's subject but at the case itself, which had earned him the Emperor's deep trust. For Qu Zhang Qing's case, with him as the lead examiner, they were confident that there wouldn't be a mistrial.

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    However, with Su Yuan as the Ministry of Justice who had long had it out for Yun Qian Meng, it was possible that he would take advantage of this matter to accuse Qu Zhang Qing to destroy Fu Guo Gong Fu in the process.

    In addition to his black heart and merciless ways, if Qu Zhang Qing did not plead guilty and no one around to stop him, he would be sure to use the thousands of torture devices and weapons he had on Qu Zhang Qing.

    As for the Chief Executive of the Imperial Prison, though he was only there to reexamine the decision of the other two ministers, he was also an important figure.

    Especially because they had no idea what kind of person the Chief Executive of the Imperial Prison actually was, this added to the complexity of the whole situation.

    After carefully reflecting on the relationships of those involved, Yun Qian Meng was finally able to say calmly, "Wai zumu shouldn't be too worried. Those who are usually accused of treason are put to death immediately without a trial. But the Emperor handed this matter over to the three legal officials instead. This shows that in the Emperor's heart, this matter is doubtful at least. He's not only afraid of accusing a virtuous and able man, he must also be afraid of alienating the Empress Dowager and Fu Guo Gong Fu to have decided this way. And besides, among the three legal officials, even though Su Yuan is there, I know Qin daren is an upright and virtuous public official. He's forthcoming and doesn't succumb to threats or pressure. I believe that he would not allow biaoge to suffer for no good reason. Furthermore, wai sunnu believes that being put under house arrest is a good thing."

    Saying so, Yun Qian Meng paused to allow the other three people in the room digest what she had just said.

    Truly, Gu laotaijun, upon hearing Yun Qian Meng's careful analysis, calmed down. She nodded her head firmly, but Qu Fei Qing seemed a little doubtful. She grabbed onto Yun Qian Meng hurriedly. "Meng'er, what good can come out of being put under house arrest?"

    Yun Qian Meng patted Qu Fei Qing's hand gently, before resuming her speech. "Now that Fu Guo Gong Fu is cut off from the world, it looks as if biaoge's matter has brought down Fu Guo Gong Fu, and yet, this way, no one with evil intentions can come inside to disturb us or add to our worries. Biaoge is in prison, jiujiu is still unconscious, and those with evil intentions are surely thinking that by striking wai zumu, Fu Guo Gong Fu will be theirs for the taking! But this Imperial Decree has helped us ward off unnecessary trouble. Besides, this matter has happened so suddenly, the subjects of the Imperial Court are not muddled blockheads, I'm certain someone will step out to question this and help biaoge reclaim his innocence."

    Yun Qian Meng's every word radiated with logic, allowing Gu laotaijun to look at her appreciatively. Qu Fei Qing already had a glimmer of happiness and hopefulness in her gaze.

    "However, we should also be prepared for everything that could go wrong, should matters get worse, so that we won't be caught off guard like we were today."

    But after all, the Emperor's mind was unpredictable. They say that staying by the Emperor is like staying by the side of a tiger, both dangerous and capricious. There were none who could truly be able to predict the Emperor's every move or decision.

    And today, even the Empress Dowager was put under house arrest, showing that until the matter have reached a clear-cut black and white finality, he wouldn't be visiting the Empress Dowager anytime soon, to avoid having his decisions being affected by her words.

    And yet, looking at things from another perspective, Emperor Yu Qian was a person with a heavily suspicious heart. The Empress Dowager had no other heir, and had single-handedly raised him and paved the way to the throne for him. Their mother-son relationship was deep and true, but even with this in mind, Emperor Yu Qian was unwilling to trust the woman who had raised him and planned his success for him with all his heart. It could be seen that the Emperor was one who denied the closest of relatives and in dire moments, paid no heed to the concept of family.

    These words were left unvocalized by Yun Qian Meng. Firstly, she was conscious of the effect it might have on laotaijun's heart. Secondly, she was conscientious of the walls having ears and that this might reach Emperor Yu Qian. Thirdly, with laotaijun's cunning, she was confident that the old madam had already anticipated this line of thinking. Everyone was merely at a tacit understanding not to mention anything.

    "Meng'er, you should return to xiang fu now. No matter what, we can't let this matter sully your name." Gu laotaijun, seeing her intelligent and capable granddaughter, was innately gratified. Thinking of Fu Guo Gong Fu's current situation, she could only quickly shield Yun Qian Meng from being dragged down along with Fu Guo Gong Fu.

    Yun Qian Meng, seeing that Gu laotaijun was still thinking of her even during these moments, though unwilling to leave, recognized that she could not simply sit still. She nodded. "Wai zumu, please be reassured, if something happens, Meng'er will immediately inform wai zumu!"

    Gu laotaijun, took note of her maturity and sensibility and felt warmth in her heart. She noted worriedly, "Outside the fu, news naturally spreads faster than within. It's just that, no matter what happens, your bodily safety is the utmost priority, so don't take any foolish risks!"

    Yun Qian Meng nodded, bowed to the three people, and left Rui Lin Yuan, Mu Chun and the others in tow as they speedily departed Fu Guo Gong Fu.

    Because of this matter, the entire city was abuzz with rumors and discussions. Citizens usually treated Fu Guo Gong Fu with some degree of respect, especially when talking about the staunch virtuous character of Gu laotaijun, everyone had nothing but praise.

    And yet, after the matter today, the masses, though not completely believing, still had nagging doubts at heart.

    Even though the road from Fu Guo Gong Fu to xiang fu was only a short carriage ride, Yun Qian Meng had already gleamed a lot of discussions. Once the horse-drawn carriage arrived at xiang fu, Yun Qian Meng let Mu Chun tell the coachman to head on towards Tian Fu Lou.

    "Is xiaojie going to buy some desserts for the old madam?" Mu Chun asked uncomprehendingly. The color of the sky outside told her that even if they rushed over to Tian Fu Lou right away, the mung bean cakes that were a favorite of the old madam's might have already sold out.

    Yun Qian Meng did not reply, instead choosing to draw back the windows of the cart to look outside the lively and crowded street.
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