Chapter 134: Conviction, putting one's all into the fight
Madame Li's mastery over her emotions was unparalleled, but Han Ruoxue was a different case. With her personality, she shouldn't be so carefree! Han Yunxi's eyebrows scrunched together as Madame Li took the chance to speak up as well.
"Ruoxue, you mustn't smear esteemed wangfei. If esteemed wangfei agreed to it, she definitely wouldn't go back on her word!"
Madame Li had no idea her daughter had long known about the bet. But seeing Han Yunxi's reaction, she didn't mind her daughter's words if it interfered with her judgment. Beyond a doubt. Madame Li's words made Han Yunxi scrunch up her eyebrows even more.
How detestable. Were her deductions right or wrong?
Right now, everyone was staring at Han Yunxi, waiting for her reply. At the same time, Madame Li was waiting for her to waver.
What would Han Yunxi choose?
Admit, explain, or deny?
Suddenly, Han Yunxi looked at the crowd and cried out, "It's true. This wangfei and Miss Liuyue indeed have such a bet. I ask that mufei and everyone present here to be witnesses!"
No matter how dense the fog was around her mind, she had a persistence and belief in her own deduction and judgment. They weren't wrong. She firmly believed that the canister of tea leaves contained the evidence of poison! She wasn't just gambling with Mu Liuyue, but with Madame Li and herself! She was thoroughly sick of all these people and their faces. It'd be better to shut them all up now!
No one expected Han Yunxi to admit things so easily, but Han Yunxi went beyond that to raise her voice and proclaim, "There's no need to wait three days. The results of this bet will be answered right now!"
Answered right now?
The uproar that followed was enough to lift the skies. Nobody fathomed that things would develop to this extent. Mu Liuyue was even frightened enough to make her heart race. How is this possible? If Han Yunxi has an answer right now, why didn't she find her immediately? With Han Yunxi's personality, how could she let her off so easy?
Mu Liuyue was mentally shaking her head. Han Yunxi had to be lying, she had to be scaring her on purpose!
Madame Li's heart was pounding in her chest. She never thought that Han Yunxi would refuse to be beaten in favor of fighting back even harder. If she had an answer now, where was it from? Madame Li was finally afraid of being found out but, as before, showed nothing on her face.
She didn't believe it either. Han Yunxi must have been backed into a corner until she was forced to speak heresy. She was either trying to sound her out, or frighten Mu Liuyue. No matter what, she couldn't reveal herself. She wouldn't let Han Yunxi find out anything. Han Yunxi didn't have the skills to discover the Ten-Thousand Snake Poison hidden in the tea leaves! She definitely didn't!
Now that Han Yunxi had made her choice, she was finally able to look Madame Li in the eye. This was the time to risk everything. There were only three days left, anyways. If that mother and daughter pair weren't the culprits, she'd have to start her investigation anew. Three days was hardly enough for that. Rather than let Mu Liuyue gloat, or have Murong Wanru and Grand Concubine Yi toss rocks at her after she fell in a well, she might as well fight back with her all!
Madame Li's heart started racing again when Han Yunxi looked her way. Their eyes met in the midst of all the chaos, but both of them remained silent. A tenseness settled in the air between them. Suddenly, Murong Wanru grabbed Han Yunxi's hand, pretending to be thrilled at the news.
"Sister-in-law, do you have the results now? In that case, you must have found the suspect? That's great, hurry up and tell us so you won't lose!"
These words served as a reminder to Mu Liuyue, who hastened to add, "Since that's the case, then may esteemed wangfei please present the evidence and reveal the suspect! All of us will be listening with respectful attention for the results!"
Han Yunxi looked over with narrowed eyes and replied without the slightest hesitation. "All right! You all had better listen clearly!"
Seeing her confidence, the steadfast Mu Liuyue suddenly felt uncertain. But since she was already committed to the taste, she couldn't back down. She gritted her teeth and loudly replied, "Tell us!"
In the ensuing silence, their two voices were exceptionally bright. Even someone from a distance could hear them. Everyone in the crowd focused on Han Yunxi, both nervous and expectant. The air around them seemed to have tensed to a critical point, on the verge of crumbling apart. But just as Han Yunxi was about to mention the tea leaves, another sound broke through the crowd to land between Han Yunxi and Mu Liuyue. This was none other than the young general Mu Qingwu!
Even Mu Qingwu had shown up. As the victim of the case, he really should be making a showing. Mu Liuyue immediately grabbed onto Mu Qingwu's arm. "Big bro, esteemed wangfei says she's already found the true culprit. You should listen well and find out exactly who hurt you."
Mu Qingwu was clearer than anyone else on the matter regarding the tea leaves. Han Yunxi mused that he must be here on orders to arrest Madame Li and her daughter.
"Young General, regarding the matter of the culprit..." Han Yunxi was about to speak, when Mu Qingwu cut her off.
"Esteemed wangfei, the details of the true culprit are extremely crucial and will have far-reaching effects. It's not suitable to discuss such matters in public."
Mu Qingwu had heard these two arguing from a long way off, enough to stir him into anger. They hadn't been able to find poison in that canister of tea leaves. Without evidence, the Duke of Qin couldn't move to arrest the suspects! Even so, Madame Li and her daughter were the most suspicious suspects. Revealing the tea leaves at this moment would only startle Madame Li and make further investigation difficult. Still, Han Yunxi hadn't understood the meaning behind Mu Qingwu's words. She was indignant. It can't be that this fellow's planning to protect his little sister now? He promised he'd handle matters impartially!
Mu Liuyue was quite pleased. No one else understood her older brother better than herself. They had played together since their youth. If he was talking like this, then it meant he was trying to protect Qin Wangfei. In other words, they hadn't found the true culprit yet.
Han Yunxi, you'll be hard-pressed to fly now even if you stuck wings onto yourself!
"Big brother, the suspect's case has already been publicized. There's no need to hide anything, so it's better to give everyone an explanation that can ease their worries. Otherwise, everyone in the capital will be left on tenterhooks. That's no good at all!" Mu Liuyue said loudly.
"What do you know? Shut your mouth!" Mu Qingwu scolded sternly.
"Big brother, are you trying to protect esteemed wangfei? Even though she's saved you in the past, kindness is one thing and bets are another. You can't confuse the two!" Mu Liuyue was still very loud, like someone who'd refused to let go after taking a bite.
The agitated Mu Qingwu simply resorted to denouncing her. "Don't speak nonsense and get back home!"
Seeing this, Han Yunxi immediately realized that something was wrong. By now, Chu Xifeng had caught up as well to land by Han Yunxi's ear. "Esteemed wangfei, it's bad. There's no poison in the tea leaves!"
Han Yunxi's face turned white at these words. No poison? How...how could that be?
Was she really wrong? Was she truly going to lose the bet?
No, she didn't believe it, how could that be possible?
"You're certain?" Han Yunxi asked in a low voice.
"Absolutely. Before His Highness returned with you, he'd already found around 10 poison doctors to examine it. Just then, His Highness personally picked out another poisons expert to check, but none of them found poison! As things stand now, it's better not to alert Madame Li until we've made further investigations." Chu Xifeng shot a careless glance towards Madame Li and her daughter, his voice very, very low. Still, Han Yunxi heard every word clearly as her heart slowly plummeted.
"Big brother, how can you act like this? Why are you angry? Is there something you're trying to hide? Esteemed wangfei said herself that we could announce the results. No one's forcing her, so what, is she going back on her words now?" Mu Liuyue pushed Mu Qingwu aside to walk in front of Han Yunxi. "Esteemed wangfei, hurry and speak up! No one was forcing you just then, right?"
With these turn of events, smart people could figure out what was going on. Grand Concubine Yi was first to speak up. "Han Yunxi, the members of my Duke of Qin's estate are always as good as their word. You're not really planning to back out of your promise, are you?"
Even Grand Concubine Yi had spoken like so. Who else needed to fear causing Han Yunxi difficulties now? All the people who liked to throw stones after her in the well were present.
"Mufei, how could sister-in-law be such a person? Sister-in-law can definitely uncover the culprit. Sister-in-law, you just hurry and say it, weren't you just about to then?" Murong Wanru's voice was quite "pleasant" to hear.
Han Ruoxue was impatient as well. "Rightright, big sis, why aren't you talking? You weren't just...just...trying to scare people, were you?"
The anxious Madame Li finally recovered. She didn't speak, but looked coldly at Han Yunxi, who seemed to be in a difficult position. This young lass was still too tender to fight against her. Her poison wasn't so easy to track!
Against this attack from all sides, Mu Qingwu and Chu Xifeng were both anxious. Of course they knew that esteemed wangfei couldn't back out of a difficult situation. But even so, she had to! It'd be better for both esteemed wangfei and Mu Liuyue to retreat a step before they put Madame Li on guard. Mu Qingwu had this idea in mind when he dragged Mu Liuyue aside to remind her of the severity of the case regarding the hidden spy. At the same time, Murong Wanru gave a look towards certain people in the crowd, instigating them to speak up.
"Everyone look, esteemed wangfei's about to go back on her word!"
"If you haven't found the culprit, don't flaunt your skills here! There's still three days left 'til the bet, what's with this showing off! If you don't have the capability, don't act ostentatious!"
"I never realized she was that kind of woman. So much for legendary medical skills, it's probably all false rumors. I say she's just thick-skinned and sharp-tongued."
"Aiya, it's not like we don't know she's thick-skinned. Didn't we all see? On her wedding day, hehe..."
Such mockery angered both Chu Xifeng and Mu Qingwu. The latter hauled Mu Liuyue over with one hand as his other formed into a fist, too mad to speak. All the while, Han Yunxi stood with her head hanging, dangerously silent! This wasn't her first time being watched and ridiculed by a crowd. But the difference this time was that she had truly announced that she'd make the results public when she found the real suspect.
She was wrong and had lost...
But! Since when had she ever admitted to defeat?
All sorts of mocking words, satire, and laughter reached her ears, but all Han Yunxi could hear was a single, solitary voice that emanated from the depths of her heart: I won't admit defeat!
Even if she lost, she was only going to lose after being sincerely convinced. Right now, she was in no mood to say she lost. Her heart was even less inclined!
There was no poison in the tea leaves, was it?
Very good, she'd examine it personally. She hadn't had a chance to look at it yet, so why would she say there's no poison? Though it was a simple thing to check for poison in the tea and hard to make mistakes, this time she wasn't convinced by the results. Abruptly, Han Yunxi lifted her head to face the staring crowd and their sneering expressions. She raised her chin with a disdainful gaze and proclaimed, word-by-word, "The true poisoner is right amongst us, this wangfei has tea leaves as evidence!"