"Han Yunxi, you, you scourge! Ever since the day the empress dowager promised you to the Duke of Qin, I've been losing face! On the wedding day, you even..."
Listening to Grand Concubine Yi talk about old debts, Han Yunxi really couldn't bear anymore. She wasn't the type of person to submit to humiliation. Instead of conforming to the situation, she fought for the dignity and rights she deserved.
Han Yunxi loudly cut off Grand Concubine Yi's curses. "Mufei, I don't think this thing's lost us face at all. I in fact feel that I brought more face to the Duke of Qin's household. First, I let everyone know that I wasn't useless trash, ignorant of medicine, or any less capable than my father. Secondly, Princess Changping and the judicial officer both received penalties so that the empress dowager has nothing else to say. She didn't save the judicial officer either, so it was them that lost face. All they can do is grind their teeth into pieces and swallow blood!"
"That's right, mufei. Although it was wrong for sister-in-law to backtalk you, though quite a few people knew she was locked up, she didn't say anything wrong. The empress dowager's side didn't look into the matter after all," Murong Wanru urged on hypocritically.
Grand Concubine Yi only heard two and a half sentences before glaring at Han Yunxi and shook her head. "Han Yunxi, you're really treating yourself like a head of onion! As if being locked up is anything to be proud of! Hahaha, today I've finally seen you for the shameless person you are! You even dare to smart talk me!"
Grand Concubine Yi backed up until she sat heavily in her chair to give orders. "Gui mama, hit her! Today I'll make sure to teach her a good lesson between gaining face and losing face! And what it means to have your face slapped!"
When she finished, Gui mama pulled up her sleeves, preparing to slap Han Yunxi's cheeks. She immediately backed away. Grand Concubine Yi was being completely unreasonable. There was no way to make her case clear. As she retreated, she made preparations against Gui mama, speaking coldly. "Mufei, these events were settled by the Duke of Qin. If mufei thinks we've still lost face, then you can go look for him."
Gui mama was shocked and dared not advance, but Grand Concubine Yi suddenly slammed the table with her palms as she leapt up in incomprehension. "Han Yunxi, you dare to use the Duke of Qin to threaten me?"
"Chenqie is only speaking the truth. Chenqie will say it once more, this time we didn't lose face. The Duke of Qin handed the judicial officer over to the Ministry of Appointments to handle things and had Princess Changping apologize to chenqie in front of everyone. Just then, the young general came in person to give his thanks. If mother doesn't believe it, you can ask for details from the general's estate! Moreover, for the Duke of Qin to appear means telling the empress dowager and everyone else that no one can bully you with your son here!"
Although she knew it was useless to argue, Han Yunxi couldn't help but try. Since the Grand Concubine Yi was so preoccupied with appearances, the problem could only be dissolved by setting one's hand to this point. To these words, Grand Concubine Yi didn't reply immediately, but paused to think. But then Murong Wanru spoke again.
"Mufei, I heard this whole business was because Princess Changping complained to the empress dowager. In any case, sister-in-law is the Duke of Qin's official wife so Princess Changping should've called her imperial aunt on behalf of his face. Just look at this princess, she doesn't hold the Duke of Qin in esteem at all. Of course it's natural for the Duke of Qin to penalize her."
"That impudent, uncultured, little brat of a girl!" Grand Concubine Yi grew enraged again, giving Han Yunxi an impatient look. "Isn't this all because of you? Disgraceful thing, even the younger generation can climb on top of your head and behave so atrociously. If you're not useless trash, then what are you? What use do you have? Why did you even come back instead of dying in that prison and wiping you from my sight?"
Han Yunxi was speechless. Trying to speak reason with Grand Concubine Yi was like playing qin to a cow. She couldn't understand it. The grand imperial concubine didn't give her any more chances to dispute, but angrily rebuked Gui mama.
"What are you waiting for? Hit her! Hit her ruthlessly! Even if the Duke of Qin comes back today, nothing will protect her!"
Gui mama rushed forward, but Han Yunxi pushed her aside. "You're all unreasonable!"
Seeing this, Grand Concubine Yi was astonished. "You dare to make a move?"
"Mufei, you made the move first. I just wanted to explain things to you," Han Yunxi didn't show the slightest trace of fear.
"You! You!" Grand Concubine Yi was crazy with rage. She'd never met someone who dared to be so impudent in her presence before. "Someone! Someone come, take this slut and lock her in the woodhouse of the back courtyard! Immediately!"
The guards quickly rushed forward to detain Han Yunxi. This time, she couldn't push them back. Of course, she didn't struggle or beg for forgiveness, but remained cool and chilly as the guards led her out. From the day she stepped into the Duke of Qin's house, she knew that Grand Concubine Yi would eventually make her move. If she wanted to survive in this house, she had to have self-confidence! Seeing her expression, the irate Grand Concubine Yi couldn't help but stand up and take two steps forward, completely incredulous. "What kind of thing is she? Who does she think she's looking at? The little slut, did she think marrying into this house meant she could fly on a branch and turn into a phoenix? Tell her, even if there's a spot of red on that handkerchief, I can still sort her out!"
Murong Wanru followed afterwards, saying in a timid tone, "Mufei, this thing was my..."
"Didn't I tell you I was at one of my other courtyards? Why couldn't you find me?" Grand Concubine Yi was in a foul mood, enough to blame even her favored Murong Wanru.
"Daughter knows she's done wrong. Mufei don't be mad, will you? If you make yourself ill, and that won't be good at all," Murong Wanru carried over some tea, looking both clever and considerate.
Grand Concubine Yi drank a few cups of tea before calming down. "I don't blame you. She was imprisoned so we've long lost face!" Sitting down, she thought for a bit before asking, "It couldn't be that her medical skills are even better than Divine Doctor Han's?"
"I heard that Imperial Physician Gu was treating the patient with her. I don't know how she got all the credit. Mufei, I think the general's estate and Imperial Physician Gu were thinking on your behalf," Murong Wanru really knew how to pick the right time to say the most perfect words.
Grand Concubine Yi gave a cold smile. "Even they wouldn't dare to forgo this one's face."
Seeing that the grand imperial concubine's mood had settled, Murong Wanru probingly asked, "Mufei, elder brother stepped in for this situation to bring the person home. Now that we've locked sister-in-law up, if elder brother he..."
Before she could finish, Grand Concubine Yi grew huffy. "So what? She dared raise her hand against me. If I don't punish her this time, I'll be the one she's pushing around next time! Would the Duke of Qin insist on protecting her? If he tries, I'll punish him as well! Send orders that no one's allowed to release Han Yunxi without my say!"
"Ah...daughter understands," Murong Wanru gave a fake sigh as a proud sense of joy flickered past her eyes.
Han Yunxi, the woodhouse is nothing like the Hibiscus Courtyard. As your little sister, I'll make sure to take good care of you.
Nighttime. Han Yunxi huddled in the woodhouse, eating large mouthfuls of rice. Since this was her situation now, she might as well take it easy. Actually, this was much better than what she expected from before. If the handkerchief hadn't held that spot of red, she might have been put to death long ago. Now, even if she contradicted Grand Concubine Yi, the punishment still wouldn't kill her.
As long as it wasn't a death sentence, she still had many ways to face off against Grand Concubine Yi.
Except, would that fellow Long Feiye choose to interfere? Even then, which side would he choose? Why was she thinking about him again? Oh right, an ice-cold guy like him wouldn't even speak to her unless he wanted a favor.
Come morning, three meals arrived with the ensuring dishes to pass by peacefully. But by the third day, all the food they gave her was spoiled. Han Yunxi knew her difficulties were just beginning. She didn't say anything, but returned the items untouched. The fourth and fifth days were the same: three meals of rancid food. After starving for three days, Han Yunxi was completely out of energy. She lay against a pile of firewood, her bright eyes staring up at the skies. Her lips were pale white, but she still looked beautiful when she quirked them up in a smile.
Sometimes, admitting to your wrongs and begging for forgiveness could get you a meal in exchange, but not here. If she forced herself to eat the spoiled food, she'd only meet with more cruelty and suffering. She wasn't even the one at fault, so she refused to admit it even if they beat her to death. Han Yunxi wasn't a masochist. She cherished her life and dared to challenge Grand Concubine Yi because she'd prepared an excellent way out beforehand.
Spoiled food was spoiled food. She raised her fingers to tick off the time, calculating the days. Tomorrow, Princess Changping would definitely arrive to seek her help in treating her poison. Otherwise, her face would be ruined for good. As long as Princess Changping came, Grand Concubine Yi would be forced to retrieve her from the woodhouse.
Early morning on the sixth day, Murong Wanru and Gui mama watched from the trees as another rancid meal was delivered.
"She's been starved for three days by now, but she's still keeping quiet. This girl's temper is something tough," Gui mama sighed, deeply moved. Grand Concubine Yi hadn't intended to starve Han Yunxi to death this time, especially without a good enough reason. She couldn't just kill off her daughter-in-law for being too pushy with others, right? How would she explain things to her son? Not to mention, she still couldn't figure out why the Duke of Qin would admit to the drop of red on the handkerchief.
The Duke of Qin was a very busy man who was gone for days at a time. Grand Concubine waited on one side for Han Yunxi to beg for forgiveness, and on the other side for her son to return so she could complain to him.
"How is it? Does she want to beg for forgiveness yet? Mufei won't be able to hear it." Murong Wanru's usual touching face wore an uncharacteristically dark and hateful expression. Perhaps there'd be better chances in the future, but she wasn't the type that liked waiting. From a distance, Murong Wanru stared at the woodhouse before lowering her voice. "Gui mama, sister-in-law isn't in the mood to eat, but she should at least drink some water. Otherwise, how could things stand as they are?"
As she spoke, she turned to walk away, speaking faintly, "I heard that Red Crown Crane is one of the most effective fast-acting poisons."
Gui mama jerked slightly and chased after her a few steps before stopping. Over the years, many of Grand Concubine Yi's people had been bought off by Murong Wanru. It wouldn't be long before she was arranged as one of Long Feiye's secondary wives. The official wife was just a decoration. Whoever held Grand Concubine Yi's affections was the real master of the Duke of Qin's estate. Taking this into consideration, Gui mama made a prompt decision to go out and buy the poison herself...
At noon, a single plate of vegetables was delivered to the woodhouse, along with a cup of water. If it wasn't for drinking water, Han Yunxi might have fainted from hunger long ago. Her body now paled in comparison to the one she had before time-traveling. It was so sickly that she herself disdained it. And yet, as soon as the meal was set down, her poison alarms went off in her head. Han Yunxi picked up the cup of water and took a careful sniff. She recognized the presence of Red Crown Crane instantly.
This poison was particularly vicious and very commonplace. It was simple to pick out with a single sniff. Han Yunxi guessed that Grand Concubine Yi wouldn't kill her so easily, so this was definitely Murong Wanru's doing. She had no food and now not even any water. Murong Wanru, if this really was your poison, I'll definitely pay back this enmity!
She endured until the afternoon, feeling cold, thirsty, and hungry as she wavered on the edge of collapse. Looking at the four walls sealing her in, she still kept a faint smile filled with hope for the future on her lips. It wouldn't be long before she could get out of this place.
In the evening, Grand Concubine Yi finally came to the woodhouse with Murong Wanru.
"How many days has she been starved? She hasn't fallen into a coma, right?" Grand Concubine Yi asked lazily. She was convinced that Han Yunxi had starved herself into a faint, and that's why she didn't beg for forgiveness.
"Perhaps so, mufei. Sister-in-law's body is weak, this punishment is enough for her," Murong Wanru said, apparently with good intentions.
"How many times have I told you? As a person, especially as a woman, you can't be softhearted. Would someone as wicked as her feel grateful for your pity?" Grand Concubine Yi asked helplessly.
Murong Wanru lowered her head without a word, heart filled to the brim with anticipation. Very soon they would see not the wicked Han Yunxi, but her corpse!
 Red Crown Crane (???) - yan ding hong, an ancient poison name, possibly an euphemism for arsenic.