Chapter 136: Look quickly, something's happened
No poison! The results of the scan showed no poison!
Han Yunxi sucked in a cold breath, staring stunned at the tea leaves. Cold sweat broke out on her back.
No poison! There actually wasn't any poison!
Nobody present had any idea what she just did. All they saw was her staring at the tea leaves with a rather ghastly expression. Madame Li was the first to cause difficulties.
"Esteemed wangfei, are you going to test for poison now?"
Han Yunxi raised her eyes to see Madame Li's eyes flicker with a sneer. She'd done it on purpose just so she could see. Madame Li had to be the real culprit, but these tea leaves...
"Esteemed wangfei, hurry and test them!" Han Ruoxue urged.
Mu Liuyue wasn't so patient and said coldly, "Han Yunxi, speak! Why aren't you saying anything? What, all those nice words and you're withering up when it's time to test for poison? You're just scaring people! Or else, making fools of them? Let me tell you, you might be Qin Wangfei, but if you don't get any results today, this young Miss will go straight to the empress dowager and accuse you of framing others!"
Hearing the words 'empress dowager' instantly put Grand Concubine Yi in a bad mood. She angrily demanded, "Han Yunxi, what's wrong with you? Are you testing them or not?"
Han Yunxi looked at them all with knitted eyebrows. By her side, Mu Qingwu and Chu Xifeng were as anxious as ants on a hot pan. Although neither of them understood what esteemed wangfei had done, they could tell by her expression that maybe...maybe she knew the tea leaves had no poison.
Aiya, they'd told her long beforehand, but why didn't she believe them? Now what should they do? She who rides a tiger finds it difficult to dismount!
Suddenly, someone cried out from the crowd. "Esteemed wangfei, please test for poison to prevent maligning a good person!" Soon afterwards, many more echoed his words in unison.
Esteemed wangfei, please test for poison to prevent maligning a good person!
Undoubtedly, Han Yunxi had become a target of public criticism. She gritted her teeth. Everyone thought that she was out of options, but it wasn't a second before she coolly gave out an order. "Someone, bring hot water to steep these tea leaves! This wangfei will test for poisons now for everyone to see!"
Perhaps her scanners didn't pick up any poisons because there was none there. But another possibility was that Madame Li's techniques were too wily for the detox system to untangle. She faintly recalled reading in an ancient text a certain method for testing Ten-Thousand Snake Poison. No matter how little of the poison there was, it would still reveal the poison.
Ten-Thousand Snake Poison didn't exist in the present, so she never had a chance to try out the method. Even now, she wasn't sure whether it'd work, but she didn't have time to worry about all that. This was her only choice now that she had no others, so she could only brace herself and go forward.
Since she was putting her all into the fight, she might as well fight to the end!
From an outside perspective, steeping the tea was simply a pretense to find a person to drink it. This was a simple way to test for poison, because the results would reveal the toxin. Everyone grew nervous at the thought. Meanwhile, Madame Li hid a cold smile in her heart. Of course she knew that Han Yunxi wouldn't be so stupid to try such a simple method. Han Yunxi was the one who saved Mu Qingwu; she should understand that Ten-Thousand Snake Poison wouldn't break out in the body until years afterwards. She figured that Han Yunxi had some sort of secret weapon, perhaps a formidable poison testing needle or poison stone, to test the tea for poison.
As long as a poison didn't enter the body, even small quantities could be detected with poison tools. But her poisons were different than that! Even the world's strongest poison detecting stone wouldn't be able to pinpoint her Ten-Thousand Snake Poison! Madame Li's lips curved in disdain as she waited patiently.
Very soon, an attendant arrived with hot water on a tea tray, but Han Yunxi soon said, "I don't want a teacup, but a large bowl."
Large bowl? What did she want that for?
The onlookers had no idea. Madame Li's ridicule grew. She wasn't planning to use a big bowl of tea to strengthen the concentration of poison, was she? Such a stupid method! It looks like her master wasn't the only one to overestimate this woman. She'd overestimated her as well.
The attendant immediately switched in a large bowl and steeped it full of tea leaves before setting it on a portable table. Everyone looked over, awaiting Han Yunxi's next step. Would she find someone to drink the tea, or use a poison detecting stone in its depths?
Unexpectedly, Han Yunxi spoke again. "Someone, catch a goldfish for me. I want a live one!"
She wasn't using a person or a tool, but a goldfish?
But the logic behind testing poisons was the same. Madame Li remained as calm as before. Goldish had much lower immunity than human beings, but so what? Han Yunxi would still be disappointed.
Soon enough, the attendant brought over a lively, jumping goldfish before the expectant gazes of the impatient crowd. Han Yunxi accepted the fish and walked to the bowl of tea before taking another deep breath. She knew that everyone was anxious right now, but she was more anxious than any of them. Whether or not the ancient texts had told her the truth, whether or not this would yield any results, her very fate itself, all relied on this one fell swoop. As soon as she released this fish, everything would reach its final conclusion!
Either the fish was struggling too much, or her hands were trembling too hard. She couldn't control either as she lowered her fingers, steeled her heart, and placed the fish into the tea water. Countless eyes flocked towards the creature, Han Yunxi amongst them. She saw the fish fleeing wildly into the water at the same time she caught her own ashen reflection.
The fish swam...
Would it be poisoned? Would it die?
Everyone looked on with rapt attention. Even Mu Qingwu and Chu Xifeng temporarily forgot about taking precautions against Madame Li as they peered towards the water. Grand Concubine Yi was also staring and waiting. Han Yunxi's heart was beating like a drum: thumpthumpthump, thumpthumpthump, as she followed the path of the swimming fish. Her heartbeat grew quicker and quicker, almost to the point where it was uncomfortable to breath. Time trickled by as the fish swam and rested by degrees, seemingly completely normal.
Madame Li's lips rose into a mocking smile. "Esteemed wangfei, exactly how long will you experiment before we get results?"
"I estimate until daybreak? Hehe," Mu Liuyue smiled as well. So much time had passed. If there was really poison, the goldfish would be long dead by now. There was nothing in the tea leaves to start, Han Yunxi had told a massive lie!
"Aiya, this is tea water. If we really waited 'til daybreak, the fish might not live that long," Han Ruoxue felt relieved of a heavy load as she reminded with a laugh. Tea wasn't clear water, after all. A goldfish could only stay in it for four to six hours before it died from natural causes.
Han Yunxi gritted her teeth, ignoring them all as she kept staring at the fish. She didn't even notice that her forehead had long broken out into cold sweat. Enough time had passed to drink half a cup of tea, but the goldfish was still alive. Had the ancient texts been falsified? Was she doomed to fall into these women's hands today?
"Han Yunxi, you should announce the results of the poison examination now!" Grand Concubine Yi reminded her coldly. She couldn't wait to see Han Yunxi honor the terms of the bet.
Still, Han Yunxi kept her head down and didn't reply.
Mu Liuyue gave a chortle. "Aiya, it's just a bet after all. If you agreed to bet, you must be prepared to lose. It's no fun if you drag this out!"
"Han Yunxi! Are you listening or not? I'm ordering you!" Grand Concubine Yi said sternly. She didn't want to waste any more time.
The goldfish was swimming so happily in the tea. Han Yunxi looked and looked before finally shutting her eyes. Slowly, very slowly, she lifted her head. When the crowd saw, they couldn't help but gloat over her misfortune as they broke out into ridicule.
Suddenly, Chu Xifeng gave out a cry. "Something's happened! Esteemed wangfei, look quickly, something's happened!"
Han Yunxi's eyes flew open as she lowered her head, only to see...only to see the fish still swimming, but not as balanced as before. Many times, it kept flopping on its side. This was an omen of it going belly-up and dying!
Han Yunxi's heart wouldn't stop pounding as if it was going to burst out of her chest. There was hope! Hope! Her hand hovered excitedly over her chest. She didn't even dare to blink as she stared rigidly at the goldfish. At the time time, the amazed crowd had turned back to look as well. Even Madame Li, as self-confident as she was, could only look back in disbelief as she shook her head.
How could this be? She didn't believe it. She wouldn't. The goldfish couldn't die. It wouldn't!
But very quickly, the goldfish stopped moving to float in the water. Again and again it flopped on its side, as if fighting its last rounds with the god of death. Unfortunately, only a few bouts had passed before it completely turned over, its white belly protruding the surface of the water. Soon after that, tiny black dots revealed itself on its white stomach, growing in number and density until the entire fish's belly had turned black.
In a flash, all of the spectators sucked in a cold breath. The goldfish had not only died, but turned black. This was poison! Even Han Yunxi hadn't expected such results. After all, she wasn't even sure if this would work. Back then, she had really been frightened by failure. Right now her heart was still beating wildly, unable to calm itself down.
Of course, she wouldn't forget proper protocol. As long as the poison showed itself, it was a simple matter of course to diagnose it. She quickly took out an acupuncture needle and collected a sample of blood from the fish's belly.
"Who will come test this poison?" she asked loudly.
From within the crowd, a voice replied, "I will!"
A old man walked forward, carefully examining the fish belly before touching the poisoned blood with his finger. After a few sniffs, he was convinced. "This is snake poison, a combination of many different snake venoms, the so-called Ten-Thousand Snake Poison!"
He really was a master amongst the common people!
Han Yunxi rejoiced. "I'm sure everyone saw clearly with their own eyes. This tea has poison, the same Ten-Thousand Snake Poison that afflicted the young general!"
At these words, the onlookers slowly recovered from their shock to discuss amongst themselves.
"Heavens, if you drank this daily over the course of years, you'd end up like that fish one day..."
"Too frightful, these methods are so sinister! Detestable!"
"Madame Li and her daughter are the true culprits! That's horrific! I never imagined!"
Cries of alarm rose on all sides. Madame Li stood at a distance. Her poison skills were superb, but she never expected a trivial goldfish could expose her skills. She prized her poisoning techniques above all, but now her calm and unhurried facade had been thoroughly broken. Everything about her had been denied and exposed. Though she didn't want to believe it, she couldn't say anything against her results. Nor did she have any choice but to accept them!
Han Ruoxue stared dazedly at the goldfish. From beginning to end, she never believed that her own mother would put poison in the tea leaves. Had her mother been using her to poison the young general ever since the start?
"Mother, you..." Han Ruoxue hadn't even confronted her mother before Mu Liuyue suddenly swooped over to grab her by the hair.
"Slut! You actually dared do such a thing! So much for me trusting you, you slut! I'm going to kill you!" Mu Liuyue was as angry as a wild beast as she threw herself at Han Ruoxue and hauled her by the hair.