Chapter 135: Anxiety, is there poison? Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Han Yunxi was someone who refused to die before her words began to startle! Her single sentence was enough to silence the crowds, including Grand Concubine and the rest. All of them were caught unawares as they stood gaping.
Han Yunxi really said it!
The true culprit was amongst them? And she had proof?
Heavens...was this real?
Nobody was more shocked than Madame Li. Her face turned pale as her palms grew slick with sweat. Tea leaves, had that canister of tea leaves fallen into Han Yunxi's hands? Did she discover the Ten-Thousand Snake Poison within? The true culprit...did she mean her?
For a second, Madame Li couldn't even stand straight. She backed up a few steps at the same time Han Yunxi looked over. Since everyone was focused on Han Yunxi, they naturally followed her line of vision towards Madame Li, whose face turned even whiter. She leaned back to rest against a door, unable to escape.
Han Ruoxue had no idea what was going on, but rushed over to support her mother. Who knew that Han Yunxi would stick out a finger to point them out. "The true culprits are that mother and daughter pair!"
These words were like lightning striking upon the crowd.
The assembled masses started up a crow, but very quickly started backing away in fear. Regardless of whether or not Han Yunxi was telling the truth, no one wanted to be in danger. Poisoners weren't compassionate people! Mu Qingwu and Chu Xifeng never expected Han Yunxi to point out Madame Li in public. Fortunately, they were able to react quickly and went forward to block her escape routes while protecting Han Yunxi. Everyone was stunned except for Han Ruoxue, who was indignant and angry. She forgot all etiquette as she pointed right back at Han Yunxi.
"Han Yunxi, you're trying to frame us! Why are you doing this without any evidence?"
Madame Li seemed to recover at her words. She calmed herself before disputing the claims. "Esteemed wangfei, you can eat whatever you like, but you can't say whatever you like. Without any basis or proof, how could you malign me and my daughter? We've always abided by the laws and behaved ourselves; we've never competed against you for the Han Family's things! Lady Xu and her son are already in jail, are you not planning to let us off, either?" Madame Li had eaten iron and steeled her heart. She refused to believe that Han Yunxi could find any poison from her canister of tea leaves. It was impossible for her to have the skills! Master might appreciate Han Yunxi's worth and want to leave her by his side, but neither she nor Heisha were convinced. Heisha's refusal was written on her face, but her refusal stemmed from her very bones. She couldn't believe that a useless trash like Han Yunxi could suddenly turn into a genius overnight. Neither did she believe that the Han Family, with its lack of knowledge in poisons, could have such a high-leveled poisons expert. Furthermore, she wouldn't accept that her 30 years of hard work weren't enough to defeat a mere lass who had yet to reach 20!
This time, she was going to risk everything as well!
As Madame Li and her daughter finished explaining, Mu Liuyue recovered as well. Truthfully speaking, Han Yunxi's accusations had left her scared witless. If those two were really the culprits, then she would've been in contact with them all the time. It was a frightening thought! This Han Yunxi must have been pressured so much that she went crazy and spoke such words.
Her voice was filled with cold ridicule. "If anyone could find a culprit just by casual accusation, then that'd be too easy. Esteemed wangfei, you said there's evidence in the tea leaves, so please bring it out."
Han Yunxi was quick to issue orders. "Chu Xifeng, bring Bilü here, as well as that canister of tea leaves. This wangfei will test it for poisons right here!"
Chu Xifeng didn't know what to do. Although he didn't understand poisons, he still had common sense. It was hard to test for toxins once they'd settled in a person's body, but much easier to test them outside it. Even if there was only a tiny quantity, as long as poison existed, it could usually be found. A canister of tea leaves should have plenty of poison inside if it was toxic. But so many poison doctors had examined it and found nothing! If esteemed wangfei was going to test for poisons right here, wouldn't she be digging her own grave? How shameful would it be if she found no poisons?
Chu Xifeng dawdled a bit. He still wanted to persuade her otherwise, but Han Yunxi's tone grew severe. "Hurry and go!"
Chu Xifeng gave a start as he saw her swift, fierce glare. He didn't dare say any more, but braced himself to do as he was told. By now the skies had darkened, but the crowd of onlookers only increased. Even a few influential officials had caught wind of the news and hurried over to join the crowd. Amongst them was Crown Prince Long Tianmo, who'd disguised himself to hide in the crowd. Things had long become the talk of the town so that people both in and out of the palace heard the news. Everyone was very quiet as they waited, afraid to speak carelessly. Mu Qingwu and a few guards surrounded Madame Li and her daughter to prevent any potential mishaps.
When Chu Xifeng really did return with Bilü and the canister of tea leaves, the scene grew even quieter. Unexpectedly, Han Yunxi's evidence really existed. The crowd exchanged looks with each other, afraid to comment out loud. It seemed like her words weren't just idle chatter, but that depended on whether the tea leaves truly contained poison. Everyone waited expectantly for the results, but two people were especially astonished.
Han Ruoxue and Mu Liuyue recognized Bilü and the canister of tea leaves at a glance. This was the same canister that Han Ruoxue had brought over to gift to Mu Liuyue that day before she'd forgotten. Its packaging and seal were all designed by Madame Li, so Han Ruoxue was very familiar with it! How did Han Yunxi find Bilü and the tea leaves? It couldn't be that...that she was telling the truth?
Han Ruoxue looked uneasily towards Mu Liuyue, who shared her restless gaze. Immediately, their arrogance and bluster died down. Han Yunxi processed the reactions of everyone present. Though she had nothing to rely on but her own stubbornness, she was still determined to test these tea leaves for poison, even if she wasn't sure if they were toxic. This was the path she chose, so she'd walk it to the very end. Naturally, she kept calm and unhurried-there was no sense in losing one's composure even if one was set to lose.
She stepped out easily, her cold gaze sweeping over the gathered crowd-including Grand Concubine Yi and company. Grand Concubine Yi felt inexplicably inferior, a completely foreign sensation. She pursed her lips and wanted to speak, but couldn't find the words.
Han Yunxi withdrew her gaze before finally opening her lips. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is the tea servant Bilü from the Celestial Fragrance Teashop. She's here as eyewitness testimony. As for this canister of tea leaves, they carry evidence of Ten-Thousand Snake Poison!"
What was this?
Mu Liuyue immediately called her into question. "This is what you call human testimony and material evidence?! On what grounds?"
Han Yunxi didn't answer, but cast a glance at Bilü for her to step out and speak.
"This commoner is Celestial Fragrance Teashop's tea servant Bilü, Mu Liuyue's exclusive tea servant. This canister of tea leaves was brought to the tea plantation by Han family's Second Young Miss Han Ruoxue a month ago. She was preparing to gift it to Miss Liuyue, but forgot. This commoner was reluctant to leave it there, so I hid it away in private. Examinations showed that these tea leaves may contain poison, the same Ten-Thousand Snake Poison that was used on the Young General. In the past three to four years, Miss Liuyue and Second Young Miss Han often drank tea together at the teashop. Each time, Second Young Miss Han would gift tea leaves to Miss Liuyue, saying that they were personally cultivated by her mother and impossible to buy elsewhere."
Bilü's words were enough for any intelligent person to understand everything clearly. If these tea leaves really were poisonous, then Mu Liuyue was an accomplice, while Han Ruoxue was the true criminal. Han Ruoxue used Mu Liuyue to poison Mu Qingwu! As for Madame Li, she'd be the direct poisoner who cultivated the tea leaves.
Mu Liuyue's heart was flustered at the words. She'd accepted so many tea leaves from Han Ruoxue, so she was clearer than anyone else how much her brother received. Looking at the familiar canister, her heart nearly stopped beating. It was as if something had snatched up her soul. She slowly backed away, unable to say a word!
How could this be?
She'd been tricked by Han Ruoxue and turned into her big brother's assassin!
Big brother had been afflicted with a slow-acting poison that accumulated over the course of months and years. As for her, she'd gift him tea leaves almost every single day.
No...she didn't want this! She didn't!
This had to be a coincidence!
Suddenly, she made a mad dash towards Han Yunxi, nearly crashing into her. "I don't believe it! I don't! On what basis do you say that the tea leaves are poisoned? On what grounds?"
"So Miss Liuyue admits that these tea leaves were supposed to be gifted by Han Ruoxue and confirms Bilü's words?" Han Yunxi asked.
How could Mu Liuyue be bothered to consider so much? She angrily replied, "Yes! I recognize this canister of tea leaves, it's the kind that Han Ruoxue often gives me. And plenty of times, I give the tea leaves she gifts me to my big brother! But what can this prove? Why do you say that the tea leaves are poisoned?"
"Yes, on what basis are they poisoned? I don't believe it!" Han Ruoxue piped up hastily.
The two of them were like drowning souls clutching at rice straws and refusing to let go. If the tea leaves had poison, then Han Yunxi would win. If they didn't, then it wouldn't matter what Han Yunxi said.
The crucial point lay in these tea leaves!
Finally, the reticent Madame Li spoke up as well. "Esteemed wangfei, please speak using evidence. Otherwise, this commoner won't accept it! This commoner cries injustice! Injustice!"
As before, Madame Li believed in the strength of her poison skills, convinced that Han Yunxi wouldn't be able to find any traces. It was good that there were so many people gathered here today. With so many eyes on them, Han Yunxi's inability to find the poison for one more day meant Long Feiye would be unable to arrest her for one more day. As she shouted, she prepared to run over to Grand Concubine Yi, but Mu Qingwu blocked her way.
She took the opportunity to kneel down instead. "Esteemed Imperial Concubine, this commoner has been wronged! The Duke of Qin's estate is making slanderous accusations without any proof that I'm a murderer. This is great injustice for this commoner!"
Grand Concubine Yi had backed up far away. Though her heart was on guard, of course she was planning to speak on Madame Li's behalf. No matter what happened, she only wanted results. As long as Han Yunxi lost the bet, her reputation would be ruined!
"Han Yunxi, weren't you going to test for poisons here? Madame Li isn't satisfied, and I suspect many others here are as well. You might as well give it a go for everyone to see!" Grand Concubine Yi said coldly.
"In other words, Madame Li admits that she was the one who packaged and processed these tea leaves?" Of course, Han Yunxi had to ascertain things first.
Madame Li had no way out and openly admitted, "Yes."
"Excellent!" Han Yunxi's voice was quite loud. But nobody knew that she was taking a deep breath at this very moment.
Only she realized the detox system hadn't reacted at all with the canister of tea leaves in her hands. There were two possibilities here: 1) the traces of poison in the tea leaves were too faint to be picked up, so ordinary poison doctors had no way to find them, which meant she had to use her deep scanning system to check; 2) there...really wasn't any poison.
Right now, everyone's eyes were on her. Madame Li and her daughter were equally determined in their denials. The object in her hands held the key to honor or disgrace, life or death! It'd be a lie to say the Han Yunxi wasn't nervous. Her convictions had carried her this far, but the end of the road was at hand. Whether she'd travel past the dark willows to see blooming flowers or a cliff before her was still uncertain.
Heart thumping, Han Yunxi clamped her jaws together as she opened the canister. Her bright eyes peered at the tea leaves while she started up her detox system's deep scanners...
 refused to die before her words began to startle () - yu bu jingren si bu xiu, a line taken from Du Fu's poem written regarding his feelings upon seeing a stream lead into the ocean.
 Bilü () - a tea servant for Spring Rain Courtyard at the Celestial Fragrance Tea Garden.
 travel past the dark willows to see blooming flowers () - liu an hua ming, part of the saying (liu an hua ming you yi cun), or, 'after the dark willows, flowers will bloom and reveal another village,' indicating a beauteous scene/new vista after a period of darkness and doubt.