Chapter 187: Wrath, investigate to the end
In the silence, everyone exchanged glances in disbelief. Nobody expected this outcome.
Being poisoned right after taking the medicine versus being poisoned three days after taking the medicine really was a big difference. And though there were inconsistencies when filling prescription quantities, making a mistake like taking double the amount of a required ingredient was too much of an exaggeration.
Even if Doctor Li had written the wrong prescription, he wouldn't make such a big mistake when filling the prescription itself. What kind of manslaughter would that be? It'd be willful murder instead!
If the three packs of medicine contained the same quantity of ingredients as outlined in the prescription, then Doctor Li didn't fill it up with the wrong quantities. In that case, Madam Li's mother-in-law's death wouldn't have come from taking the medicine, but something taking advantage of the prescription to kill her on purpose!
What was the truth?
Had Doctor Li killed someone intentionally, or was someone else the culprit? A simple, straightforward case had suddenly turned complicated thanks to Han Yunxi's analysis of poisons. Abruptly, Seventh Madame turned towards Madam Chen. In a flash, the crowd followed to focus their gazes in the same direction. Madam Chen's head hung very, very low, her body quivering. She didn't dare to say a word.
Official Ouyang's eyes flickered with a complicated expression as he hesitated for a long time. Finally, he spoke. "Imperial Physician Lin, do the quantity of Kuigen and poison reaction times...really work like that?"
Han Yunxi laughed coldly in her heart. Official Ouyang really knew how to ask questions. It was clear from his words that he didn't believe her.
Imperial Physician Lin was very tactful. "This official isn't talented enough. Truly, I don't know."
"If Official Ouyang doesn't believe it, why don't we put on a demonstration right here?" Han Yunxi said coldly. Today, she was going to have everyone sincerely convinced. No matter whether they were from the courts, or the palace!
"As far as regulations go, a trial demonstration truly is necessary," Official Ouyang braced himself to speak. He had to give an explanation to the empress dowager, after all.
Han Yunxi immediately had someone gather some medicine while having Imperial Physician Lin make sure the medicinal ingredients didn't differ from the prescription. Soon after that, the medicine was brought to boil right in the courtroom.
"Official Ouyang, for the sake of being impartial, you should find someone to test the medicine," Han Yunxi said icily.
Official Ouyang's heart was half-frozen at Han Yunxi's frigid attitude. He had someone bring over a death row inmate and had him finish drinking the entire bowl of medicine. As it turned out, he was perfectly fine even after the time it took to burn a stick a incense had passed.
"Official Ouyang, do you have any other questions?" Han Yunxi asked.
Immediately, Official Ouyang shook his head. How could he dare speak? This wangfei could simply be called a poison fei. Anyone who argued with her about poisons was seeking their own deaths! As Official Ouyang fell silent, so did everyone else present in the courtroom. Since Han Yunxi's words had borne out, the truth of the matter all lay in determining the "quantity" of medicine prescribed!
Han Yunxi walked to one side and personally opened up the three packs of medicine. From each she took out and separated the 11 different ingredients and made ten separate piles.
"Imperial Physician Lin, I'll have to inconvenience you to measure the quantities on-site. Is that all right?" Han Yunxi was still very polite.
Although Imperial Physician Lin was familiar with Kuigen, his understanding was far inferior to Han Yunxi's. He really had overlooked the matter of poison reaction times! In addition, he could look any other medicinal ingredients and tell their weights just by a glance, but Kuigen was different. It was extremely lightweight and an ingredient he rarely encountered, so it was very difficult to measure its quantity with the naked eye. Add that to the fact that he hadn't considered measuring it at all, and Imperial Physician Lin felt very insecure.
In the midst of his terror, he heard Han Yunxi's polite words and nodded his head in a fright. Afraid to delay any further, he had someone bring him some scales. Time trickled by quietly as Imperial Physician Lin begin, his hands shaking at first before he quickly settled into his work. On one side, he measured the ingredients. On the other side, he took meticulous notes on a piece of white paper.
But when he finished measuring the first batch of Kuigen, his hand suddenly trembled as the scale weight fell with a loud thump. The weight not only fell onto the ground, but into the hearts of everyone present. Everyone was quaking with fear as they guessed there was a problem with the Kuigen's weight.
Meanwhile, the truth crept closer and closer...
Imperial Physician Lin's face was ashen white. He looked at Han Yunxi before quickly retrieving the weight and measuring the quantity anew. The figures were quickly recorded on the paper, which Han Yunxi saw in a glance without a change in expression. She motioned for Imperial Physician Lin to continue.
Very quickly, Imperial Physician Lin went through all three packs of medicine, recording the quantity of each ingredient contained therein. When he finally set down the scale weight, his hands had turned limp and listless.
Han Yunxi spread open the quantities recorded on the white paper and turned towards Official Ouyang. "Official Ouyang, the prescription is on your desk. I'll have to inconvenience you to make a comparison. Is that all right?"
The more polite Han Yunxi acted, the more uncertain Official Ouyang felt in his heart. His face was pale as he hastily opened up the prescription to check. The results had him tumbling back into his judge's seat.
"Official Ouyang, how are the results?" Han Yunxi asked loudly.
Official Ouyang didn't dare to answer, but had to in the end. He trembled fearfully as he stood up. "Identical. The quantity of ingredients are all identical."
If the quantities were all identical, then the amount of Kuigen was identical as well!
That much Kuigen wasn't enough to immediately take someone's life with its poison. So someone else must be the poisoner!
This was the truth!
Shock and amazement broke out in the crowd. No one thought that this would be the reality!
Seventh Madame was first to recover and glared at Madam Chen as she cursed in rage. "It must be you! To claim damages in compensation money, you poisoned your mother-in-law to death and framed my Han family. You're so sinister and ruthless for a married woman! My Han family didn't take a cent for your consultation fees or medicine, but you repaid our kindness with enmity. Was your heart eaten by dogs?"
Madam Chen abruptly raised her head and denied it all in a rush. "It wasn't me! It wasn't me! I didn't do it! I didn't do anything! I don't know anything!"
Finally, Han Yunxi's good temper evaporated. Her face was cold as she advanced step by step towards Madam Chen. Madam Chen was kneeling while Han Yunxi stood, making her seem high and lofty. Add that to the fact that she was brimming with rage, and her powerful aura was enough to nearly send Madam Chen fainting away. She didn't even look at Han Yunxi as she crawled on the ground and started to sob. "It wasn't me, it really wasn't me! I didn't do anything!"
"If it wasn't you, then who was it?" Han Yunxi asked coldly. She'd suspected Madam Chen before, but she didn't believe the woman had the guts to frame the Han family. Moreover, it was truly fishy that Doctor Li's prescription would have a mistake. Whether it was Madam Chen or Doctor Li hiding a backer behind them, the truth was still hiding away! Or rather, the actual culprit of the whole thing had yet to be revealed! Han Yunxi only knew it was that person in the palace, but she needed proof!
Hearing Han Yunxi's words, Madam Chen was even more frightened. Her whole body shivered as she plastered her face to the ground. It seemed like she'd rather find a fissure in the ground to burrow into and escape.
"It wasn't me, I don't know a thing! I don't know..."
"I don't know, neither do I want the money! I don't want reparations from you...just let me off!"
Actually, Han Yunxi knew there was a problem as soon as she saw the prescription from yesterday. She'd endured until today, so she had no notions of letting anyone off! Those who dared to strike against the Han family like this had really stirred up her temper!
Slowly, she knelt down and dragged Madam Chen up, staring straight into her eyes. "If you didn't do it, then who did? Who wanted to give you money? Don't think that anyone will protect you just because you keep quiet!"
Madam Chen was scared stiff. Ignoring everything else, she struggled free from Han Yunxi's grasp and backed far, far away. Only then did she realize that she had raised a hand against Qin Wangfei. Her face turned green as she furiously shook her head in terror. "Esteemed wangfei, please forgive me! This commoner doesn't know, this commoner doesn't know anything...I don't know..."
Han Yunxi narrowed her eyes as she stepped closer, a horrific killer intent emanating from her being. How could someone threaten a person in a court of law? Yet no one present dared to make a sound, afraid to incur her wrath. Esteemed wangfei had lost her temper!
Han Yunxi slowly drew closer to Madam Chen, but before she could speak this time, Madam Chen beat her to it. "I'll talk! I'll talk, so don't come over here. I'll talk!"
Only then did Han Yunxi still her steps as Madam Chen immediately opened her mouth. "It was Lady Li, Doctor Li's wife who did it! That night I'd just finish feeding my mother-in-law her medicine when Lady Li came knocking on our door. She'd boiled some of her own medicine for my mother-in-law to drink, saying that it'd treat the disease at its roots. But who knew that right after my mother-in-law finished, she... I was scared to death, ready to call the authorities just then, but...but..." By this point, Madam Chen had started equivocating, afraid to continue.
"Just speak, say it!" Han Yunxi raged.
Madam Chen trembled all over before bracing herself to continue. "But she gave me 500 taels of silver and told me not to say a thing. The next morning I was to go to Shuntian Prefecture and plead my case. She said she'd arranged everything already, so that in the future I'd not only gain compensation from the Han family, but get another 500 taels from her side...I...I, I was possessed in the heat of the moment and turned muddleheaded! Esteemed wangfei, I didn't kill my mother-in-law, it was Lady Li! She did it! Just let me go! I'm begging you, esteemed wangfei...spare me!" As Madam Chen spoke, she kept kowtowing, her head banging against the ground.
But Han Yunxi didn't have a shred of sympathy for a money-grubbing person like her. Lady Li had given the poison, but why? Doctor Li had worked for the Han family for so many years in harmony. The Han family had never treated them shabbily. Why would Doctor Li make an error in his prescription, why would Lady Li add on to it afterwards with a knife of her own making?
Now that they had a suspect, the only thing left was to worry about whether Lady Li would speak up. The truth was getting closer and closer!
"Official Ouyang, shouldn't you send someone to the Li family straightaway?" Han Yunxi asked.
Official Ouyang finally recovered his wits. Though he knew the current events had progressed far from the empress dowager's expectations, he couldn't practice favoritism as a member of the justice courts. He could only send someone to arrest Lady Li immediately. But it wasn't long before the messenger returned with not Lady Li, but news of a corpse.
"Reporting to esteemed wangfei, Official Ouyang. Lady Li hung herself in front of Doctor Li's memorial tablet! When your subordinate rushed over, they'd just taken her body down."
"What?!" Han Yunxi smote the table and rose to her feet in anger. "Dead?!"
"The body was just sent to the mortuary," the errand boy replied honestly.
Han Yunxi's face was ghastly pale. She couldn't believe it. Lady Li was her last link!
"Coroner Xia, examine the body!" Han Yunxi said furiously, taking long strides to the mortuary. Coroner Xia hastened to follow. At the sight of body, even Han Yunxi could tell at a glance that she really had hung herself to die. Her hands clenched into fists. She never expected the accomplices of the crime would die so quickly. Really, she'd been too careless. She should've sent some people over much earlier to keep watch on Lady Li!
Most likely, Doctor Li and Lady Li had both been threatened. Doctor Li was too kindhearted to put enough poison in the medicine, so Lady Li had personally gone to make a trip. Now that both husband and wife were dead, the clues had been broken. She was just missing the last step, how abominable!
When she returned to court, Madam Chen had already kowtowed and banged her head into unconsciousness. Han Yunxi didn't even spare her a glance but glared at Official Ouyang, obviously in a bad mood. Official Ouyang felt uncomfortable all over from her stare, but steeled himself to speak. "Esteemed wangfei, this case...for the Li family's side, should we..."
"Is it the justice courts overseeing this case, or this wangfei? Why are you asking me? Continue!" Han Yunxi was fierce and ferocious, her face dark as she sat on one side.
How to continue? Official Ouyang was set to face a tragedy...