Sometime during all this, the unconscious Helian Zuixiang had woken up, but she was dumbstruck upon seeing Lady Xu slap her own son. It wasn't until she saw the justice court's people and Official Ouyang that she had an inkling of what had happened.
Finally, Lady Xu's hands ran out of strength and Han Yuqi's face swelled as red as a pig's. Lady Xu fell to her knees and said, "Esteemed wangfei, look...it's swollen! It's really swollen..."
"Raise your head and let me see," Han Yunxi said coldly.
No matter how much Han Yuqi feared pain, he still had to bear it as he hastily lifted his head. Seeing his red, pig-like face, Han Yunxi narrowly avoided laughing out loud. Thankfully, she held it back.
"Mm, I suppose that counts as swollen," she said mildly. Lady Xu and Han Yuqi sagged in relief at these words, finally relaxed. But Han Yunxi continued to talk.
"This takes care of offending one's superiors. But the crime for threatening this wangfei..." She didn't finish speaking, but looked towards Official Ouyang.
He'd been beaten to this point, but she was still condemning him? And now she was asking about the crime of threatening her. Official Ouyang was surprised by the turn of events, his heart skipping a beat. He never expected this woman to be so hard to deal with. Lady Xu and Han Yuqi were both too dazed to recover at first. How could it be like this? What did Han Yunxi want to do?
Silence descended upon the courtyard. The servants were so frightened that they scarcely dared to breathe, afraid to utter a noise. Everyone had heard Official Ouyang say that threatening Qin Wangfei was a capital offence!
"Official Ouyang, the Han Family's eldest young master brought so many servants with him to threaten this wangfei and even wanted to steal her things. He's already put wangfei's safety in peril. How should he be dealt with, according to the law?" Han Yunxi asked seriously.
With a thump, the surrounding servants all fell to their knees. It was over, they were all going to suffer now! The courtyard was already surrounded by people who rushed over upon hearing the news, including all of the household servants. Hidden amongst them was Third Madame Li and her daughter Han Ruoxue.
Madame Li was around 30 years old but well-preserved, retaining much of the beauty of a young bride but with an extra, lingering charm. Her daughter, Han Ruoxue, resembled her greatly, and her bright, luminous eyes were especially bewitching. Neither of them said anything, but watched on calmly. Compared to the Xu mother and son pair, the Li mother and daughter appeared far more steady and sedate.
In the silent courtyard, Official Ouyang found himself in a hard spot. "Esteemed wangfei, this...this..."
He couldn't finish before Lady Xu shouted and wailed her heart out. "Yunxi! You're really going to be so ruthless?"
"Yunxi...Yuqi's the eldest son of the Han Family and its heir! He's the Han Family's hope! Your father's already like that, but do you want to ruin the Han Family's last hope?"
"I'm begging you, have mercy on him just this once!" Lady Xu could only pretend to be pitiful as she cried. There wasn't time to attend to her image.
Han Yuqi started crying as well as he entreated, "Big sis, I'll do whatever you tell me to. Just spare me this once, I won't dare try anything next time."
It had to be said that the Xue mother and son suffered a drastic decline in standing before the eyes of the Han household. In comparison, Han Yunxi rose to awe-inspiring heights! With even the Xu pair begging her, how could any of them disrespect or not fear her in the future? Han Yunxi smiled coldly in her heart. She was waiting for Han Yuqi's exact words since she just wanted to scare this duo. How could she really make a fuss all the way to the justice courts? How could she truly sentence Han Yuqi to death?
If that happened, she'd be seen as cold and ruthless: a evil, poisonous woman with no feelings towards her own brother.
Not to mention, Han Congan was already useless now. The Han Family needed someone to prop it up. As a woman who married into another family, she was still an outsider no matter how much power she held. Lady Xu had the strongest backing. With her here, her clansmen wouldn't covet the Han Family properties. Seventh Madame's family was too poor and weak, so she didn't have the power to manage the Han Family's internal and external affairs.
Han Yunxi examined Han Yuqi closely for a long time before relenting. "All right. For father's sake, I'll exempt you from the death sentence. But you still need to be punished!"
At these words, the Xu duo felt as if they'd gotten a general amnesty. Lady Xu's heart sank back down into her chest, while Han Yuqi, who was only outwardly fierce, nearly fainted from fright. Luckily, his mother held him up and pinched him by the waist to keep him awake. They'd been humiliated enough, so if he fainted away now, he'd never be able to lift his head in the Han house in the future!
"Many thanks to esteemed wangfei for her mercy! Many thanks to esteemed wangfei for her mercy!" Lady Xu thanked over and over again, though her eyes were filled with hate each time she bowed her head. She was a person who enjoyed high position and lived in comfort, an ambitious and proud woman who was the mistress of the house. For the sake of her son, she had to act humble and meek today and cry to beg Han Yunxi for mercy. How could she not be filled with loathing?
This rude lass with a father and no mother, did she think she was a phoenix just because she flew onto a branch?
Don't think that just because you saved the crown prince's life, the empress dowager and empress will forgive you. Don't think that just because you've married into the Duke of Qin's, Grand Concubine Yi will accept you. Don't think that just because you're Qin Wangfei, you have the right to manage Han Family affairs!
She and Yuqi had endured this time and ate a big loss. As long as Han Yunxi couldn't get a handle on them, what else could she do? If a living punishment was inescapable, then that was that. As long as nobody died, it was just some physical pain. What else could Han Yunxi do to Yuqi?
Han Family affairs were still determined by her and her son. Han Yunxi shouldn't think about taking an iota away from the Han house, much less protect Seventh Madame!
The speechless Official Ouyang finally had room to speak and flattered, "Esteemed wangfei is generous and lenient, that is the Han Family's blessing!"
Han Yunxi smiled. "Then what kind of living punishment will Official Ouyang choose?"
Lady Xu and Han Yuqi exchanged glances. Official Ouyang was resolute that he wouldn't die if he didn't seek trouble. He wanted to say that the slapping was enough, so the living punishment should be lenient, but seeing Han Yunxi's false smile, he didn't dare speak. Awkwardly he said, "Of course, I'll listen to esteemed wangfei on the matter."
Lady Xu and her son's eyes filled with aggravation at the words.
"Chen Xiang, what do you think?" Han Yunxi asked lazily.
"Mistress, we can excuse the death penalty, so let's cane him 100 times," Chen Xiang answered easily, as if she was making chitchat.
Han Yuqi's eyes boggled in response, while Lady Xu struggled to contain her fury as she kept her tone frosty. "This little lady certainly knows how to joke..."
"What joke? I don't think it's a bad idea," Han Yunxi said carelessly as if she was discussing the weather.
Now everyone's faces had turned pale. Lady Xu's expression was completely black. She couldn't bear it any more; neither could Official Ouyang keep calm. He implored, "Esteemed wangfei, 100 beatings will kill a man. He was already slapped just then, so as this official sees it, the living punishment should be more lenient."
Naturally, Han Yunxi knew the consequences of 100 beatings. She just wanted to frighten Lady Xu. It wasn't easy to see the eldest young Miss of the Civil Board magistrate's family lose color in her face. She'd grown up in an oppressive house, tormented until adulthood. Every three days, they'd curse her, every five days, they'd beat her. The multiple lashings she'd gotten from bamboo whips had torn the skin from her arms. Most of these were gifted to her by Lady Xu, so she was very clear about her temper.
You could plead with her nicely or beg with tears in your eyes, but her heart was still venomous. It was as if it concealed a viper that was always watching for its chance to strike. The only way to control her was through her precious son.
Han Yunxi shot Lady Xu a glance as if she was considering the proposal. "Deal with him leniently? This, well..."
The crowd tensed. Lady Xu shot Official Ouyang multiple looks before the man tried again carefully. "Esteemed wangfei, why don't...why don't we punish him according to Han Family rules?"
Domestic discipline within the Han house had various serious punishments, but all of them were lighter than 100 beatings. Han Yunxi had experienced many of them growing up. Amongst the 100 different punishments, she knew them all. It looked like Official Ouyang and Lady Xu still held hope up to this point.
She quickly dashed those hopes to the ground. "This wangfei's punishing him for threatening the wangfei. Don't mix things up, Official Ouyang!"
Official Ouyang's heart gave a lurch as he came to a realization. There was no escape for Han Yuqi.
Lady Xu wouldn't give up and wanted to entreat her again, but Han Yunxi said coldly, "50 beatings, and those who plead on his behalf can be beaten with him!"
Silence descended with her words. Lady Xu looked at Han Yunxi in disbelief, unable to believe that this girl was actually serious. If 50 beatings didn't paralyze the victim, it'd still leave them bedridden for one or two months. At this critical juncture when everyone was vying for the head of house's position, how could eldest young master compete against Third and Seventh Madame if he couldn't even get off the bed?
Wasn't this taking him out of the race ahead of time?
Lady Xu clenched her fists and prepared to protest, but Han Yuqi beat her to it. He rushed before Han Yunxi and cried, "Han Yunxi, don't be fool enough to reject a life-saving offer! This young master's had enough, I'm telling you now, if you dare try today to..."
Before he could finish, Official Ouyang rushed forward to pull him back. "Eldest young master, you cannot be rude!"
Han Yuqi threw him off and wanted to continue cursing, but Official Ouyang rushed to remind, "Lady Xu, this cannot do! If it continues the affair will be irreconcilable! You must know, eldest young master offended esteemed wangfei first. No matter esteemed wangfei's current position in her house...aye, she's still the face for the Duke of Qin's estate! If things get huge, even if the magistrate shows himself it still won't..."
Lady Xu understood before he went on. She was very reluctant, but had to pull her son back. "Yuqi, have you been slapped stupid? You still won't..."
Han Yuqi had gotten used to bullying others, so how could he keep calm when it was his turn? He angrily told Lady Xu, "Mother, what are you afraid of her doing? Didn't you say before that she can't treat us as she likes despite being Qin Wangfei? We still have grandfather to back us up! He won't stand for it!"
Of course Lady Xu had said these words and even more outrageous things besides. But they couldn't be said in front of Han Yunxi! She viciously pinched Han Yuqi's arm to shut him up. "Enough! If you keep up your wild ravings, you can get lost from the Han house!" This was her only way to warn him.
In the end, Han Yuqi still feared his mother the most. Hearing this, he had no choice but to settle into a stormy silence...
 Han Ruoxue () - Ruoxue means 'like snow.'