Han Congan was a convict awaiting execution and was prohibited from having visitors. But Han Yunxi had special status; moreover, she was the crown prince's lifesaver. Though the latter wasn't common knowledge, the justice court minister had the social connections to know this fact. He'd long told his subordinates to let her in if she came. The prison guards who'd punished her illegally last time were all so frightened that they hid away, afraid that she'd recognize them.
The prison guard leading the way warned her in a low tone, "Esteemed wangfei, Han Congan's been yelling to see you since last night."
"Un, you can go. I'll call you if there's anything I need," Han Yunxi said mildly.
It wasn't strange that Han Congan wanted to see her. He probably wanted her to save his life. Han Yunxi really didn't understand someone like this: he knew they were hostile to each other, but why did he still bother trying? Begging wouldn't get him anywhere, so couldn't he grow a bit of backbone?
When Han Congan saw Han Yunxi arrive, he rushed over in pleasant surprise. Thank goodness the metal bars held him back, because a night and half a day had been enough to change him into something less than human. With his wild hair and disheveled prison clothes, it was obvious that he'd been tortured. Could anyone avoid torture in the imperial prisons? Even Han Yunxi had suffered through it.
"Daughter, you've finally come..."
"Father knew that you'd come! Father knew that you wouldn't cast him aside."
Han Congan's voice was choked in his throat, his hollow eyes turning red like a pitiful old man. Those who didn't know anything would think that Han Yunxi was the unfilial daughter that cast him aside. She only gave him a cold look before settling to sit by the wall. Seeing this, Han Congan's eyes turned redder as he gripped the prison bars and slowly slid to the ground.
"Daughter, you're the only one who can save father now!"
"All of father's hopes rest on you...won't you say something?"
Han Congan's eyes were filled with heartfelt expectation, his hoary voice grieved and heartbroken. But Han Yunxi remained unmoved. She examined him coldly, turning him numb with her scrutiny. He suddenly fell silent and gave her a mournful look, feeling especially wretched.
"Han Congan, you finally remembered that I'm your daughter," Han Yunxi spoke, her face drawn into a sneer. When had this father ever called her 'daughter' in her memories?
Han Congan smoothed out his lips, hands brushing through his beard as he shook his head and muttered to himself. He seemed to regret things deeply, but Han Yunxi didn't hear what he said. Soon enough, he lifted his head against and grabbed the prison bars, very agitated.
"Daughter, your father knows his wrongs. Father is already this age, so won't you forgive him? This is father begging you!"
"Why?" Han Yunxi asked coldly. His child had already grown up before he asked for forgiveness. Wasn't that just laughable?
"Yunxi, for better or worse, I'm still your father. Can you bear to see your father paraded as a prisoner through the streets? You old father can't afford to lose such face!"
"Right now, you're the only one who can save father. Just treat it as father begging you, begging you...begging you on behalf of your dead mother to save father just this once!"
It'd be better if Han Congan had never said those words. But once he did, Han Yunxi's temper flared up and she impatiently cut him off. "Divine Doctor Han, you're overpraising me. You've been convicted with a capital offence and I don't have such power in my hands."
"No! You saved the crown prince's life. The emperor will definitely listen to you! Daughter, you even saved three generations of the Han Clan, so save your father too. His majesty will definitely listen to you! You're a person who's rendered extraordinary service!"
"How about, you plead with the Duke of Qin? The emperor will listen to the Duke of Qin's words!"
Han Congan seemed to be clutching to his final life-saving rice straws, exerting all his efforts to speak and plead. "Yunxi, as long as you save father, father will do anything for you." But the more he acted this way, the more Han Yunxi hated him.
"You'll agree to anything, is that right?" she asked with a cold smile.
Han Congan hurriedly nodded his head, looking extremely pathetic.
"Very well. Then you tell me, how did my mother die?" Han Yunxi questioned. This was her only reason for coming here.
But these words stopped Han Congan's entreaties. Han Yunxi didn't miss the complicated flicker in his eyes and asked, "Were there witnesses when my mother died in labor? Were there any attempts to save her?"
Han Yunxi came straight to the point, her sharp questions changing Han Congan's grieved eyes into clear and sharp ones. He thought that Han Yunxi would be like her mother, soft-hearted and easy to talk to. As long as he implored her, this girl would relent and rescue him. But he didn't expect her to come for this matter. Seeing Han Congan's face change, Han Yunxi smiled coldly. She knew her suspicions were right.
"What, do you think it's strange I'd ask such a question?"
Han Yunxi's voice hid traces of anger. She thought, if the truth matches my guess and Han Congan let my mother die because he was jealous of her medical skills, then he caused her death. If that's the case, I'll make this man suffer worse than death before he dies!
But the actual situation far exceeded Han Yunxi's expectations. Han Congan looked at her and suddenly started to laugh.
"I never thought, never thought that I, Han Congan, would have a day like today, ahahaha!"
Han Yunxi frowned, unable to understand how a man who was begging for his life one moment could laugh so bleakly the next?
Was the truth different from her imagination?
"Are you going to tell me or not?" Han Yunxi wasn't so patient.
"Han Yunxi, are you sure you won't save father?" Han Congan suddenly grew serious, his tone turning menacing.
Only now did Han Yunxi discover that this old man had been acting all along, trying to gain pity for his miserable plight. She immediately stood up to warn him, "You wish! You don't have to talk, but let me tell you, I have ways to make you talk."
"If I tell you and you save my life, I'll speak the truth. Do you agree?" Han Congan stood up as well, his hoary, flustered form turning calm and confident.
"You have no right to bargain with me anymore!" Han Yunxi was furious.
"I do. The truth that I know is definitely something you'd be interested in. It was an agreement between Lady Tianxin and myself," Han Congan purposely lowered his voice, permeating it with mystery.
These words stunned Han Yunxi. Han Congan actually called her mother 'Lady Tianxin.' No matter how she listened, it didn't sound like he was talking about his wife!
Seeing Han Yunxi's reaction, Han Congan's eyes flickered with jealousy. Why was Han Yunxi so smart, but the good-for-nothings in the Han Clan so stupid? Why didn't he have a daughter like this?
"Just what exactly happened?" Han Yunxi grew even more uneasy.
In comparison, Han Congan was more composed than before. "As long as you can guarantee my life, I'll definitely tell you."
"If you don't tell me, I'll make your life worse than death," Han Yunxi's eyes shot out a dangerous glare.
But Han Congan's counter was too strong. He didn't fear her; moreover, he was the head of his house and had seen plenty of similar scenes. With all the things he experienced, how could it be so easy to compromise with him?
"Do your worst. I'm a dead man anyways and won't live past three days," Han Congan smiled coldly.
"You!" Han Yunxi rushed forward.
Han Congan didn't back away, but remained self-possessed. "If you don't believe it, you can try me."
This old thing!
Han Yunxi retreated, her hands clenching into fists inside her sleeves. "Fine, I agree. You just wait!"
When she finished, she turned to leave without sparing him another glance. To find out the truth, she could only agree to Han Congan's demands. She didn't want to risk Han Congan keeping silent and never finding out the truth.
But she only agreed to preserve his life, not to release him from prison.
As soon as she left the imperial prisons, Han Yunxi headed towards the palace. She wasn't there to see Emperor Tianhui, but the crown prince. Emperor Tianhui was very reluctant to step back last time. If she asked for his favor again, there was no guarantee that she'd get results. Instead, it'd turn Emperor Tianhui against her. As for Long Feiye, Han Yunxi didn't even dare to think of his reaction.
She could only find the crown prince.
Her excuse was that she came to check on his incision. There wasn't even a need to notify the crown prince before an eunuch respectfully led her to the Eastern Palace. Gu Beiyue had just left, so the two of them didn't get to meet.
Long Tianmo didn't expect Han Yunxi to come at all. After she left detailed instructions of post-treatment and medicine to Gu Beiyue, he thought she wouldn't return. In the past, Long Tianmo highly disdained the extremely ugly Han Yunxi. Even if Imperial Grandmother had betrothed the wedding, he still felt that Imperial Qin Uncle marrying Han Yunxi was a great wrong. But right now he was thankful and filled with admiration from the bottom of his heart. He wasn't like the empress dowager or empress, who carried resentment against Han Yunxi and Grand Concubine Yi. Though he knew his father kept precautions against the Duke of Qin, he also understood that Imperial Father wanted him to earn the Duke of Qin's support. So in the case of Qin Wangfei, he was very willing to form good ties.
"Imperial Aunt, I've troubled you to come personally, you've toiled much," Long Tianmo was very polite. Even though their ages were similar, there was still the issue of respecting rank.
Han Yunxi didn't examine his incision, merely took his pulse. "You've recovered quite well. Looks like you'll be able to get off the bed in two or three days."
"This is all because Imperial Aunt was formidable," Long Tianmo said politely.
Although Han Yunxi didn't know whether Long Tianmo's heart was black or white, just his manners made him much better than Princess Changping. With such self-possession, it was no wonder that he was the crown prince.
After civilities were exchanged, Han Yunxi felt him out with a query. "Crown prince, now that you've recovered from your illness, has His Majesty thought of general amnesty?"
Long Tianmo was an intelligent person. As soon as he heard Han Yunxi's words, his gaze turned complicated. It was a while before he answered. "I haven't heard Imperial Father mention it."
"Then does Crown Prince have any thoughts?" Han Yunxi tried again.
By now, Long Tianmo could more or less guess that Han Yunxi came for a favor. He smiled and cut to the chase. "Could it be that Imperial Aunt wants to pardon someone?"
She didn't expect Long Tianmo to be so direct. Now Han Yunxi felt a bit embarrassed and smiled as well. "Crown Prince is indeed an intelligent person."
"Imperial Aunt is mistaken in her praise. There no harm in speaking frankly if Imperial Aunt needs anything," Long Tianmo said seriously.
"My father, Han Congan, has been sentenced to death. Three days later, he'll be paraded through the streets as a criminal and beheaded at noon," Han Yunxi said with a light sigh. "Though he's dying because of his guilt, he's still my father. As a daughter, I really can't just watch him die. Imprisoning him for life should still be better than death."
Han Yunxi placed special emphasis on the last few words. Long Tianmo immediately picked up on her meaning. Actually, even without Han Yunxi speaking up, he could still guess. Han Yunxi wanted a general amnesty for nothing more than to save her father.
Except, if she mentioned such a thing to Imperial Qin Uncle and had him discuss it with Imperial Father, Imperial Father would definitely agree. Instead, she'd came to find him for help. Now this was interesting.