Chapter 188: Who did it better?
Doctor Li and Lady Li had both killed themselves, undoubtedly to protect the person behind the scenes as well as the safety and future of their daughter. Official Ouyang too, could guess who had the nerve to provoke the Han family and esteemed wangfei. Now that the case had progressed to this point, how were they to continue?
He could only bring things to an end.
Official Ouyang's eyes lowered, secretly depressed. How should he wrap up the case without offending the personage in the palace, while calming this other one right before his eyes? Even if Official Ouyang's brain grew to double its size right now, he still wouldn't know what to do.
"Official Ouyang, continue!" Han Yunxi gnashed her teeth as she spoke word by word, her displeasure painted on her face.
"Yes yes!" Official Ouyang nodded. He couldn't deal with so many things, it was better to satisfy this almighty one before him first before explaining to the other in the palace personally.
Official Ouyang immediately changed the original sentence to have Lady Li as the true culprit. In view of her suicide, he didn't pursue her crime of murder. As for Madam Chen, she'd withheld the truth and became an accomplice. Though she could escape the death penalty, she couldn't escape punishment and was sentenced to 10 years in jail.
Actually, the fact that Doctor Li had wrote a mistaken prescription meant that the Han family still had a bit of responsibility. But looking at esteemed wangfei's face, which was even colder than than His Highness Duke of Qin's, Official Ouyang didn't dare to pursue the matter. As a result, the compensation was changed to having the Li family take care of Madam Chen's mother-in-law's funeral affairs. Moreover, they were to raise Madam Chen's child as a foster child. Seventh Madame finally released a breath after the court verdict was read aloud. She was thrilled while Official Ouyang looked timidly at Han Yunxi. He thought, the Han family escaped unscathed, so esteemed wangfei should be mollified now.
But Han Yunxi only asked coldly, "That's it?"
Official Ouyang's heart gave a jolt as he blurted out, "What else do you want?"
They all knew the person behind the scenes was that one from the palace. It was already quite a feat to absolve the Han family of blame to this extent. She should quit while she was ahead! Of course, even if Official Ouyang thought this way, he didn't dare say it out loud.
He rose respectfully and said, "May esteemed wangfei add supplementary remarks."
Han Yunxi sat upright on one side, face expressionless. Though hers wasn't the seat of honor, it exuded the powerful aura of a queen. Her voice was cold. "Madam Chen spent yesterday morning shouting injustice in front of Shuntian Prefecture's gates, ruining the name of our southern clinic in the capital. How should this be repaid?"
Official Ouyang's lips twitched at the words. There were many steps to redeeming a fault, but once he decided on one, would that person in the palace hit the table in protest? After all, the old lady's temper would already flare up at the fact that they'd failed to hound the Han family to death. Official Ouyang hesitated as he thought it over. On one side, there was Qin Wangfei, on the other, the empress dowager and perhaps even the emperor. The latter was mighty and powerful, so he still had to take him into consideration.
Thus, Official Ouyang boldly opened his mouth. "Esteemed wangfei, you've seen Doctor Li's prescription as well. There really was a mistake. Being part of the southern clinic, Doctor Li and the Han family...more or less has some responsibility. Madam Chen wasn't completely wrong in her case."
Han Yunxi arched an eyebrow as she seemed to nod in agreement. "Official Ouyang's words are reasonable. This wangfei was just wondering why Lady Li and Doctor Li would poison somebody like this. The husband and wife both acted differently; perhaps this wangfei should take a trip to the Li household and ask whom they've seen recently, where they've gone, and whether anything unusual happened! Don't be so hasty to wind up the case, Official Ouyang. Let's keep investigating."
Han Yunxi was threatening him, threatening him by humoring him!
Leaving aside whether she'd find any clues at the Li estate, as long as the case persisted for one more day, it was one more day of headaches for Official Ouyang. If she really did find something, then he would be the first to suffer disaster! Official Ouyang wanted to cry, faint, and throw himself in a latrine. He was the one who least wanted to drag out the case. There was no choice for him except to retreat. He'd use the justice court's name and order Shuntian Prefecture to put up a public notice that absolved the southern clinic from blame and restore its reputation.
However, Han Yunxi then brought up a second problem. "After the southern clinic was shut down, it suffered quite a few losses. This wangfei and Han family's Seventh Madame expended a lot of effort and time on this case. Shouldn't the justice courts pay reparations for that?"
Official Ouyang sucked in a breath of cold air. He'd spent so many years in the justice courts, starting as a registrar before becoming an official of the courts. But this was the first time anyone had asked the justice courts for reparations! This was simply something between the Han family, Li family, and Madam Chen. They'd spent time and effort on their own matters, while the justice courts had just presided over the case. Why should they pay up?
Official Ouyang couldn't hold back his temper as he asked, "Esteemed wangfei, Madam Chen was the one who framed the case against you. The killer was Lady Li. Where did the justice courts go wrong?"
Han Yunxi only laughed coldly. "At the Shuntian Prefecture, this case could've been wrapped up in one day. Even that prescription held clues towards the true culprit. If the justice courts hadn't meddled in such a simple case, it would've been concluded yesterday morning instead. Why would we need to drag it on until today? If it's not the justice courts paying reparations for these losses, who should it be?"
At this, Official Ouyang's temper was thoroughly extinguished, to be replaced with an eerie sense of fear. He finally understood. Although esteemed wangfei looked to be acting against the justice courts, her actual motive was to slap the empress dowager's face! She was putting on a show of force for the empress dowager!
After all, the empress dowager had ordered the justice courts to take over the case. The justice courts knew all the people at Shuntian Prefecture! Though everyone knew it was the empress dowager's orders, Official Ouyang didn't dare bring up her name in this situation. Once he did, it'd imply that this wasn't the justice courts' fault, but the empress dowager's instead. After careful thought, Official Ouyang felt a chill go down his back. He could only have the justice courts quietly accept this loss.
"Official Ouyang, this wangfei...hasn't said anything wrong, right?" Han Yunxi said frigidly.
"That's right, that's right! The justice courts should make reparations!" Official Ouyang could only accept.
"Then how does Official Ouyang plan to make reparations?" Han Yunxi said calmly as she played with her exquisite fingernails, lighting puffing on the tips. "A clinic saves people's lives. Time is as precious as life itself, this wangfei's time is precious as well."
These words caused everyone present, even Seventh Madame, to look at her in disbelief. If this was reaching for a yard after getting an inch, Han Yunxi owned up to it. She even felt that it wasn't enough! None of this had anything to do with the southern clinic. It was clearly a conspiracy. Due to certain people and their personal grudges, three innocent lives had been lost, harming Madam Chen and her young child. Two families had been ruined, and even the Han family had narrowly lost its means of livelihood. She demanded reparations from the justice courts and used that to slap the empress dowager's face. That wasn't excessive at all!
If the justice courts couldn't pay her back to her satisfaction, she didn't mind making a fuss until it became the talk of the town so that every household knew. When that happened, she'd like to see who'd be afraid of being found out, who'd lose face first. She wanted that person in the palace to know that she, Han Yunxi, wasn't softhearted like anyone else when she set to get things done!
Official Ouyang hung his head. Even his voice had turned small. "The methods of reparation shall all be decided by esteemed wangfei."
Without the slightest hesitation, Han Yunxi calmly said, "Not much. 10,000 taels should be enough....of course, this wangfei wants it all in gold."
Official Ouyang nearly choked on air. 10,000 taels!
How could the justice courts bring out so much public funds at once?
Of course Han Yunxi knew it was impossible for them, but didn't they have that old lady backing them? She had methods to get the money.
"Official Ouyang thinks it's too much? This wangfei needs to accompany His Highness Duke of Qin. If I really calculated the lost time in detail, I'm afraid I'll have some difficulty."
Accompany the Duke of Qin!
Hearing these words, then recalling the recent rumors where the Duke of Qin doted on his wangfei, Official Ouyang felt his legs turn weak. It was as if the honorable His Highness Duke of Qin was standing right before him. How dare he think it was too much? He braced himself and agreed. Han Yunxi really was a woman you couldn't cross. Even though Official Ouyang had acquiesced, she further asked, "Then when does Official Ouyang plan to pay the compensation?"
"10,000 taels of gold is no small number. I ask that esteemed wangfei be tolerant and give us a few days," Official Ouyang said in a rush.
"A few days, exactly how many is that?" Han Yunxi insisted on the specifics.
"10 days, 10 days..." Official Ouyang felt like his nerves were about to snap.
He didn't know how to report to the empress dowager on the case. In any case, he decided to feign ignorance and not know a thing. Everyone in the justice courts knew that the empress dowager had told them to take on the case. If they had no money, the empress dowager should think of something.
After certifying the reparations and time of payment, Han Yunxi felt much better. Though she hadn't collected the evidence to ferret out the master behind the scenes, she still managed to give a fierce counterattack. Since the empress dowager could silence Lady Li so swiftly, she was probably paying attention to the justice court's current proceedings. She must be wearing a brilliant expression right now!
Thinking up to here, Han Yunxi felt much happier as she stylishly led Seventh Madame away. By then, the news had reached the palace.
A delicate teacup fell from the empress dowager's hands. She was stunned, disbelieving all that she heard. Murong Wanru stood on one side, her heart pounding as she slowly stood up. She didn't dare to sit down anymore. All that was heard in the silence was the empress dowager's heavy breathing. Suddenly, she swept away all the tea things on the table.
"Useless! You're all good-for-nothings!"
"You can't even take care of something like this, what was the point of raising you all?"
Murong Wanru's face was ghastly pale as she backed up two steps, her heart racing against her chest. After all, she was the one who came up with this scheme, and the same person who'd bribed Lady Li and Doctor Li. She'd threatened the future prospects of the Li family's eldest son to have Doctor Li make false charges against the Han family. The same night, Doctor Li and Lady Li went to Madam Chen's house, where they spied on Madam Chen's mother-in-law through a window as she drank the medicine. When she didn't die, Lady Li steeled her heart and directly went knocking with Kuigen to poison the mother-in-law to death. She also bribed Madam Chen to their side.
When the plot was revealed the next day, Doctor Li couldn't get over it in his heart and chose suicide.
Murong Wanru assumed that everything would work out once Madam Chen's mother-in-law died from the poison. For the sake of her son and the Li family, Lady Li would have no choice but to bear her grief and keep on. Who knew that Han Yunxi would spot the quantity of medicine in the prescription and its effects at a glance? Murong Wanru hadn't underestimated Han Yunxi; it was just that she never thought to consider the relationship between Kuigen quantities and poison reaction times!
This time, Han Yunxi had won again with an unassailable victory. Nobody could refute the conclusions of this case. If they kept on investigating, who knows whether Han Yunxi would track it back to her? With these thoughts and the empress dowager's reaction on mind, Murong Wanru shivered involuntarily. Wasn't the 'good-for-nothing' on the empress dowager's lips precisely referring to herself?
Just when Murong Wanru was feeling terrified, the empress dowager suddenly calmed down and slowly turned to look her way...