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5 FOUR

The Duchess visited her daughter in her chamber. She let her pozi escorted Jiang Xi Yu's yahuan to leave the room. She wanted to have a mother-daughter talk with Jiang Xi Yu after what happened to her by the lake.

\"The guards has reported to your father and your brother about what happened by the lake. They were sure no one saw what happened there\". Duchess of Jiang poured tea into two cups.

\"He told me that we were planning to elope\". Jiang Xi Yu knew her father and brother purposely avoid discussing the matter with her. When her mother initiated the discussion, Jiang Xi Yu was eager to know what had happened in her past about her and that man.

The Duchess sneered as that statement. Jiang Xi Yu smiled at her because the way the duchess's sneer was exactly the same like how she usually do in the modern time. \"You met him by coincident at the spring festival last year. It was a puppy love and I thought it might be a good idea to let you marry him. I made your father promise to let you marry the man that you like and your father agreed\".

The duchess took a sip from the tea cup before continuing, \"It is your luck and fate, you will never be marrying the son of Duchess of Yu. Just few days after you got kidnapped, I heard he took the first daughter of the pastry merchant inside the fu\".

Jiang Xi Yu exclaimed in disbelief. Not because she was jealous about the news but because she was disgusted by that man's action. Just two days ago he seems brokenhearted by the lake.

\"The pastry merchant's second daughter married Local City Magistrate's third Son and caused gossip around the city because she gave birth less than five months after entering their fu. The third son of Marquis of Bao Rong doesn't has any good reputation. Marrying a commoner and got her pregnant before she enters the fu just added more controversy to his reputation. Then their first daughter also used the same tactic to enter noble family\".

It was nice to share gossips with her mother. Jiang Xi Yu was enjoying her time listening to the sizzling hot gossip. She also picked up her tea cup, brought it to her mouth and took a sip. Gossiping in an elegant way was something new to her.

\"Your father and your brother also suspected that Marquis of Bao Rong or someone inside their fu is the mastermind of your kidnaping\". Duchess of Jiang casually disclosed the shocking information and put down her cup calmly while Jiang Xi Yu was stunned. Jiang Xi Yu's hand stayed still with the warm tea cup in her hands.

\"One of your maids might be bribed to become their accomplice. She might be the one who lured you out from the fu. One of the kidnappers, who was arrested by Duan Qin Wang, admitted that she was the one who paid him to murder the other maid, swopped her clothes with yours then took you away\". Duchess of Jiang took over her cup after noticing that Jiang Xi Yu was too shock to even realized that she was dumbfounded while listening to the story.

Duchess of Jiang put her cup to the table beside her. She held her daughter's hand and gave Jiang Xi Yu a gentle pat. \"The treacherous maid was murdered. It might be because instead of killing you, she ordered the kidnapper to sell you away to outside Luoyang. On her dead body your father found your white jade bracelet and a token with the symbol of Bao Rong\".

\"That's why father never report the case\". Jiang Xi Yu whispered softly. Inside her head, she imagined the story like it was a movie. She looked deep in her mother's eyes. \"Why Marquis of Bao Rong plotted to get rid of me? What kind of grudge he holds toward our family?\"

\"That's what your father is figuring now. Since The Holy One kept his eyes on the progress of the case, justice will be soon served\", said Duchess of Jiang confidently. The duchess let go a long sigh then leaned more comfortably in her seat. \"Now, mother wants to talk to you about your marriage degree\".

Jiang Xi Yu's mind was still lingering on the explosive information shared by her mother. The second topic was as heavy as the first one and she was not too excited about it.

\"Becoming Duan Wang Fei, you need to change your attitude. You will no longer be a part of Jiang Gong Fu. You will be in a higher position than your own parents, but at the same time you also represent your maiden family's reputation. The first thing you should learn is to manage Duan Wang Fu and to control your own feeling\".

The Duchess taught her in a serious tone. Jiang Xi Yu caught the meaning of it. Her mother wanted her to start holding back her feelings and start accepting the fact that she will be sharing a husband with other women.

\"He wanted to marry Han Yao Ying, not me. We are supposed to think how to cancel the marriage degree\", Jiang Xi Yu blunted out, typical of her straight talking nature.

Her mother let go her hands. She shifted her body away from Jiang Xi Yu. Her gesture made Jang Xi Yu felt hurt. Her own mother turned her back instead giving her a hand to help her out from this weird tangle between her and Duan Qin Wang.

\"If I could, I would have done it the moment we received the degree\". The Duchess touched her head as if she blamed everything on herself. \"Nobody will say no to the Holy One. There will be serious repercussion for our family, your dad and brother will be seriously affected, our enemy will be pounding on the chance to destroy us\".

Jiang Xi Yu froze in her seat. She got to understand her parent's position by now. It wasn't like Duke and Duchess of Jiang were willing to let their daughter join the imperial family.

\"Duan Qin Wang and Rui Qin Wang are in the same position to be the Crown Prince. Their schemes would be even more unpredictable after their wedding celebrations\". The Duchess took a look at her daughter, whose face turned pale. The serious tone from Duchess of Jiang reminded Jiang Xi Yu that she was already dragged into a power play between the two noble families. \"Jiang Gong Fu will always support you no matter what happen\".

There was a moment of silence between Duchess of Jiang and Jiang Xi Yu. The uncertainty of how everything will eventually play out hangs heavily over their head. The door opened quietly and the old pozi stood quietly in front of them.

\"Fu ren, Duan Qin Wang has arrived and right now is at the main hall with Duke of Jiang and General Jiang Zhen Hai\".

Jiang Xi Yu almost jumped from her seat. She already got a lot surprises today and Li Fei Long's arrival made her heart beating faster with butterflies in her stomach.

\"What brings Duan Qing Wang to Jiang Gong Fu at this time?!\" The Duchess quickly rose from her seat. Her pozi took her hand and helped her to stand. Duchess of Jiang turned and look at her daughter. Jiang Xi Yu was still seated and thinking.

\"Get ready in case Duan Qin Wang wants to see you. Usually the groom doesn't get to see his bride before the wedding night. Maybe this is good for you. Duan Qin Wang has met you and knew you in person before the wedding. Your bond with Duan Qin Wang is stronger\". The Duchess reasoned.

***

Li Fei Long sat in the main seat at the hall. In front of him were Duke of Jiang and General Jiang Zhen Hai who sat on their seats waiting for him to explain his sudden visit.

\"Ben wang doesn't want this case to drag until the wedding day. That's why ben wang decided to come and to assist with the first trial\". While rubbing his thumb ring, Li Fei Long took the opportunity to survey every corner of the hall. Actually, he has another motive to come to Luoyang.

\"The city department of justice has summoned Duke of Yu and Marquis of Bao Rong. With all the proofs and witnesses that wang ye help us to provide, tomorrow would be expeditious\". Duke of Jiang lowered his head with an earnest smile.

\"How's Xi Yu?\" Li Fei Long tried to sound calm as if he wasn't there to see her woman.

\"Mei mei has been well and acting like her usual self. We just never let her know in detail about the case's development\". General Jiang Zhen Hai answered. Li Fei Long nodded in agreement with the decision. An idea came right after he think about the innocent Jiang Xi Yu.

\"Ben wang thinks it would be the best if Xi Yu joins the trial at the perfect timing\". Li Fei Long was beaming as he found a way to ensure the trial's result will be towards his advantage.

Duke of Jiang and General Jiang Zhen Hai looked at each other in confusion before focusing on Li Fei Long again. \"Ben wang need to have a word with Jiang Xi Yu to get her prepared for the trial tomorrow\".

Li Fei Long's was hyped with the hope to see Jiang Xi Yu and hope Duke of Jiang won't gave any excuse to decline his request. \"Let Gong gege's personal yahuan accompany her to have a word with ben wang\".

***

Jiang Xi Yu was feeling nervous. She was wondering what was the purpose of Li Fei Long's sudden visit to Jiang Gong Fu. His wedding gifts was still flowing into the fu like it would never end. Did he come here because he finally found a way to marry Han Yao Ying instead of her?!

Jiang Xi Yu walked nervously towards the main courtyard. The beautiful rockery garden in the middle of the fu was where Li Fei Long was waiting for her. She wanted to walk faster but she couldn't. Her mind was full with questions but her heart was restless knowing that Li Fei Long was there.

Jiang Xi Yu already can see him from the entrance of the main courtyard. Li Fei Long stood with his hands behind his back. Ming He and Qian Chang Xin was the first who noticed her arrival. Ming He whispered to Li Fei Long and the man turned slowly towards her direction.

She quickly dropped her smile the moment she saw Li Fei Long. Li Fei Long got closer to her and in Jiang Xi Yu's eyes, he seen to be even more gallant than before. The moment he stopped in front of her, Li Fei Long grabbed her wrist tightly and pulled her as he walks so she needs to follow him or she would be dragged along.

\"What are you doing?\" Jiang Xi Yu stumbled on her feet.

Li Fei Long only stopped when they reached the huge fake rockery in the middle of courtyard. He positioned Jiang Xi Yu against the rockery. He stood very close to Jiang Xi Yu and looked down. Jiang Xi Yu was even more confused when she found Li Fei Long was looking angrily at her.

Li Fei Long grabbed her wrist once again and lifted it up so she can see their hands. \"This is what he did to you?\" Li Fei Long asked in a furry.

\"Who?\" Jiang Xi Yu frowns.

\"The day before yesterday, you met Duke of Yu's son by the lake and you let him grab your hand and your waist?\" Li Fei Long reviled at her.

\"How did you know?\" There were no more formalities between them. Li Fei Long was too jealous to correct her manner and Jiang Xi Yu was too surprise with his existence and action. If Duke of Jiang had made sure no one saw what happened by the lake, there must be someone else who reported to Li Fei Long.

\"Ru Qing and Ru Ming?!\" Jiang Xi Yu turned her head to find her yahuan. The two servants were in a position not far from them, along with the two eunuchs. Four of them stood with their back facing Jiang Xi Yu. They were on alert to make sure no one pass the area.

Li Fei Long's other hand held her chin then turned her face to face him.

\"It was the day before yesterday and now wang ye are here. Wang ye jumped on your horse and raced here just to roast me? I don't remember who he is. I don't recall any memories with him. It is not fair for wang ye to be angry at me when the lord approached me without my permission\". She tried to explain to Li Fei Long. If only Li Fei Ling came to her not because he was mad, Jiang Xi Yu would be very please.

Li Fei Long let go of her wrist. The other hand while still holding her chin, brought her face closer as he lowered her head. He kissed her savagely. When Li Fei Long felt Jiang Xi Yu's legs got weaken, his hand quickly held her tight.

\"I come for this\". Li Fei Long whispered roughly as their kiss ended. Both Jiang Xi Yu's hands was already hanging on Li Fei Long's neck. She was panting for air as her cheek was blushing. Li Fei Long felt satisfied with her reaction and he moved her body to enter the cave that was crafted in the human-made rockery.

\"My family can see us\". Jiang Xi Yu complained. Li Fei Long was too passionate. His hands held Jiang Xi Yu really tight while he started to kiss her again. This time it was more edacious than before.

His hands was roaming around her behind. Jiang Xi Yu felt like flying. The butterflies was tickling inside her and she was enjoying every second of it. Their tongues tangled. Their bodies collided into one. Their breath were getting hotter as they stopped to catch a breath.

\"No one would see\". Li Fei Long chuckled between his breath. \"This is the punishment for you. For letting him touched you\".

\"I thought wang ye come because wang ye have found a ploy to nullify the marriage degree\", said Jiang Xi Yu. She was panting and still put her hands around Li Fei Long's neck to stay stable. The profile in front of her turned sour as she mentioned that. Her frown gets deeper.

\"No one can nullify Emperor's edict unless they want their whole family and clan to be sentenced to death\". Li Fei Long brought his face closer. Jiang Xi Yu thought that he wanted to kiss her again but Li Fei Long turned her body unexpectedly.

Li Fei Long pulled her towards himself and smell her neck while his hands started to grope her body lustfully. Her own moan surprised her. Jiang Xi Yu can't suppress her moan when Li Fei Long's hand was already groping under her garments. Her garments was made of a very smooth silk material but her skin felt even more smooth under Li Fei Long's touch.

The moment his finger touched her nipple, Jiang Xi Yu opened her eyes in surprise, he was so daring! The eunuchs and yahuan was still around! One of her hands was on Li Fei Long's face. The other hand was grabbing Li Fei Long's thigh.

\"Wang ye…\". Jiang Xi Yu turned her head to see Li Fei Long's face but he lowered his face and gave her a bite on her neck. Her clothes was loosen expertly by his naughty hands. When Jiang Xi Yu looked down to check her attire, her breast was exposed and only covered by Li Fei Long's hand.

\"We will get caught\". Jiang Xi Yu complained but Li Fei Long only whisper back to her ear.

\"As long you keep the noise down, we won't\". Li Fei Long was very calm. How could this man remain calm while Jiang Xi Yu's felt her heart beating madly, anticipating what's to come next? No this is crazy… but Xi Yu find herself getting weaker and leaning against Li Fei Long for support. His hands was still teasing her nipples endlessly, flicking and pinching them lightly. It send shivers down her spine and converge at her lower stomach, starting a warm fire that was getting hotter by the minutes.

Li Fei Long bit her ear lightly and made Jiang Xi Yu covered her own mouth with both hands but still a throaty satisfying moan escaped her mouth. Her ears was one of her sensitive spot. Feeling his hot breath and wet tongue grazing her ear lobe was getting her… wet. Her buttocks leaned more against Li Fei Long's and instantly felt his hard \"partner in crime\". Li Fei Long had already free his ominous tools while toying with her hard nipples.

\"Ahhh…. No… Wang Ye… We can't… not here…\", Xi Yu pleaded without much conviction. Li Fei Long smile. He knew she couldn't resist him. She was way too sensitive. Once he got her started, she can never end it without him conquering her deeply.

Li Fei Long guided her hand downward to hold his member. She was losing her own control. Her other hand was supporting herself on the stone wall and she tried to pull away her hand when she felt his burning stiff shaft. Without looking at it she knew how it looks like. The thing that make her cries in ecstasy over and over again.

\"This is your punishment for thinking to annul emperor's edict\". Li Fei Long whispered over her ear. \"Promise me you will never again mention or think about annulment\". Li Fei Long gave his command while his fingers was teasing her mercilessly between her legs. She can felt his hot long shaft sandwiched between her inner thigh.

Oh God… Jiang Xi Yu felt the heat of it. It was grazing her delicate moist lips back and forth, teasing her. The fear of getting caught and the urge to be satisfied made Xi Yu's head spin and breathless. Jiang Xi Yu nodded weakly and she knew her hips move beyond her own will. She wanted him so much at that moment.

Li Fei Long chuckled, obviously pleased with Xi Yu innocent eyes. Like an angel but her eyes were now glossed over with lust. His hard weapon and fingers left her and Jiang Xi Yu gasped with a tint of disappointment. Maybe he did realized this is not the right place for such intimacy… but that thought was short-lived.

She felt his menacing thrust and it was inside her fully. She cannot help but moan loudly in surprise. Li Fei Long anticipated she will not hold her moaning and already had one hand over her mouth, muffling her sexy sigh of delight, while the other hand was holding her hip, steadying her lower body while he works his magic on her. The moon light shines on the rockery garden as Li Fei Long ravage his lovely soon to be wife. It was a night that Jiang Xi Yu can never forget and chided him for his craziness after many years later.

***

Ru Qing and Ru Ming kneeled on the floor with their head looking down. Jiang Xi Yu sat on the chair in the middle of the room with her hand holding her buyao.

\"Tell me to whom you serve\". Jiang Xi Yu said it coldly.

Both young yahuan bow down before Jiang Xi Yu with their forehead touching the ground. \"We belong to you. We are serving you, my Lady\". In unison, both of them answered her question and sounded scare.

Jiang Xi Yu sneered at them. After their love making session, Li Fei Long prompted her to join the court tomorrow. Jiang Xi Yu waited until Li Fei Long left Jiang Gong Fu before she questions the two yahuan.

\"The night when we tried to run away from Duan Wang Fu, was it staged by Duan Qin Wang?\" Jiang Xi Yu started her interrogation. She was fury because she never even once thought that this two yahuan were purposely planted next to her by Li Fei Long. \"Answer me honestly or I will throw both of you out right now\", she threatened sternly.

Quickly straightening their back and facing Jiang Xi Yu, Ru Qing and Ru Ming shoved themselves closer to Jiang Xi Yu's knee.

\"Yes, my Lady… Since my Lady really wanted to go outside, wang ye commanded us to pretend and to take my Lady out for some time. The original plan was to take my Lady to watch the Boat Festival and after that wang ye will pretend to be there accidentally. But…\"

Jiang Xi Yu laughed in a sarcastic way after Ru Qing can't continue her words. Now she knew why everything seems very easy that night. \"And both of you reported to wang ye about the accident by the lake?\"

Ru Ming nodded with her sad face. \"Wang ye told us to report to him every day\". Both of them begged with hands clasped. \"My Lady, wang ye really dotes on you a lot\".

Jing Xi Yu ignored their plead. She placed the buyao on the table. She refused to look at the two maids. \"That means you serve Duan Wang Fu, not me\".

Both gasped then kowtow to her. \"Ming He gonggong assigned us to serve you, my Lady. Wang ye ordered us to spy on you because wang ye wanted to know your motive. But soon after that, the order has changed. Now, our duty was to protect my Lady\", cried Ru Ming.

\"That's why you know horse riding. Both of you know martial art too\". Jiang Xi Yu became very angry. \"This is not protection! This is spying on me!\" Jiang Xi Yu blunted out in anger.

\"My Lady, please spare our life. If you kick us out, wang ye would not accept us back to Duan Wang Fu. Our loyalty is only to you now\". Ru Qing begged very hard.

Jiang Xi Yu turned her body and found both yahuan was already close to her feet. \"How can you say you are loyal to me if you spy on me and report everything I do to wang ye\", Jiang Xi Yu snapped at them.

Suddenly she came up with an idea. Jiang Xi Yu commanded them furiously. \"Raise your head!\" Ru Qing and Ru Ming raised their head and look at her with their teary eyes.

\"If both of you want to be loyal to me, from now on both of you will continue to report to wang ye\". Jian Xi Yu gave a cunning smile while her maids got stunned in confusion. She continued, \"All the report you make will be under my supervision. I will filter what's not supposed to report. This way, wang ye won't suspect that I know wang ye has ordered both of you to spy on me\".

Ru Qing and Ru Ming looked at each other worriedly. Jiang Xi Yu was getting too excited with her brilliant idea. \"How do you report to wang ye all this while?\"

\"We took turn sending out pigeon messenger…\" Ru Qing was reluctant to answer.

Jiang Xi Yu pointed her finger to Ru Qing. \"Continue doing that. Since wang ye wants to spy on me, I will spy on him too. Now, you two must report to me everything that wang ye does\".

Even though Ru Ming and Ru Qing felt lethargic with this spirit that Jiang Xi Yu has, they could only obey her orders. As long as Jiang Gong gege didn't get too upset and kick them out. Both were grateful that they could still stay to serve Jiang Gong gege. To have a master with this kind personality was easy for them. They could live comfortable as long both their masters were happy.

\"Now, stand up and help me get ready for the court\". Jiang Xi Yu shook her hand at them. Still sullen, she watched her yahuan started to prepare her dress. Jiang Xi Yu leaned her chin on her hand and leaned her body to the table. Her imagination was still wandering on the pigeon. \"If you send the pigeon from inside this fu, don't you think father and brother would know?\" Jiang Xi Yu asked casually. \"Or should I order the yahuan to make me pigeon soup so that there will be no more pigeon to spy on me? Haha\"

***

The Deputy Chief Judge of the Supreme Court felt the tension in the court. He was appointed directly by the Emperor to investigate, gather evidence and witnesses, and conduct the trial of Jiang Gong gege kidnapping case. The task was heavy for him and it got heavier when suddenly Duan Qin Wang decided to attend and personally observe the trial process.

Duke of Jiang and General Jiang Zhen Hai has personally submitted the case with their own evidences while Duan Qin Wang handed over the witness he had captured. From the Deputy Chief Judge's investigation and analysis, the evidence was conclusively against the suspect.

Pastry Merchant, Lai Fu, along with his wife, San Niang, were in tears, kneeling on the ground. They kept claiming that they were innocent. Their two daughters, Yu Han and Yu Mei, were kneeling but remained silent. Recently joined Yu Gong Fu, Yu Han bit her lips many times while her eyes were looking at the people who were standing inside the court. Yu Mei, who was the wife of the local city magistrate's third son, held her head up high even though she was facing high officials and Duan Qin Wang.

Marquis of Bao Rong, who was the Luoyang city magistrate, kneeled on the other side of them. He was very embarrassed and displeased with the situation. He did not want to look at his commoner in-law. Their useless daughter has brought shame and scandal to his family. Duke of Yu and his son were kneeled beside him but they kept their head low.

\"The kidnaper had submitted his confession of his crime. His confession leads to the Lady Yu Han and Lady Yu Mei's personal maids. The results of the interrogation from the maids refer both Lady Yu Han and Lady Yu Mei are the mastermind. So far, Lady Yu Han and Lady Yu Mei are still insisting that they are innocent\". The Deputy Chief Judge took a look at the two young lady mistresses. The older one was restless. The younger one was arrogant.

This commoner family was full of greed. The foolish parents paired with the foolishly ambitious daughters. The Deputy Chief Judge sighed heavily while looking at this family. Even in front of Duan Qin Wang, Yu Han and Yu Mei were still holding their head up high.

\"Jiang Gong gege often come by to buy our pastry. It is true we get to be close with Jiang Gong gege. Maybe she had offended our maid, which results one of them designed this crime. But we never instructed anyone to plot any crime against Jiang Gong gege\". Yu Mei countered the accusation with confident.

Duan Qin Wang sneered at her guts. The Deputy Chief Judge felt even more disgusted by this woman who thinks she was somebody after gaining the affection of Marquis's son. \"Jiang Gong gege may have offended a maid?! A commoner get offended by a noble?!\"

Marquis of Bao Rong can't held his embarrassment any longer. He slapped Yu Mei and caused the parents behind her wailed for mercy. \"Enough! You little bitch! You are no longer member of our fu. A mere commoner who doesn't has any brain\".

Yu Han held her younger sister in her arms. Yu Mei was glaring spitefully at Marquis of Bao Rong. \"Your first son is infertile, your second son is homosexual, and your third son loves me dearly and I am the only one who bear you a your grandson!\" Yu Mei shouted at him.

\"Husband, you should support me. I'm pregnant with your child\". Yu Han yelled at Duke of Yu's son but he just lowered his head and ignored her plead. Yu Han touched her belly which starts to show her pregnancy.

\"Jiang Gong gege has memory lost but her two surviving maids are fine\". No one inside the court responded to Yu Han's cry. The Deputy Chief Judge quickly commanded, \"Guards, invite Jiang Gong gege along with her personal maids to the court\".

Not long after that, Jiang Xi Yu stepped inside the court. Ru Qing and Ru Ming led her to sit next to Duke of Jiang. Purposely avoiding Li Fei Long's eyes, Jiang Xi Yu calmly took a seat.

\"Gege, do you recognize these people?\" The Deputy Chief Judge turned to her. Jiang Xi Yu locked eye with Yu Han and Yu Mei. The familiar faces rang a bell in her head. Yu Han was one of her best friend in her modern life. They were very close as a group of three girls who grew up together in the same neighborhood. Jiang Xi Yu frowned with the possibility that this very best friend of her was behind her kidnap attempt.

\"Xi Yu, it's me\". Yu Han dragged herself on the ground to approach Jiang Xi Yu but soon the guard blocked her. In tears, she said pitifully. \"It's me. Do you remember me? How could you accuse me of doing all this to you just because you lost affection from the man that you love? I'm bearing a child and you still have the heart to accuse me\".

Jiang Xi Yu was confused. Her hands gripped the handkerchief and began to think this was impossible. This best friend that she has in the modern life was very close to her. They had fun and shared all their personal things. To imagine having a best friend plot a crime towards her was something out of her mind.

Li Fei Long hit the table in anger. \"How dare you!\"

The Deputy Chief Judge was sweating with the heated exchange. Luckily, the guards had dragged Yu Han back.

Yu Mei shouted daringly, \"Where are the maids that will testify against us?\"

\"This is my personal maids, Ru Qing and Ru Ming\". Jiang Xi Yu pointed to Ru Qing and Ru Ming just like what she was told. The plot that was planned by Li Fei Long after their love making session at the courtyard. Jiang Xi Yu blushed when she recalled that but she kept her composure calm.

Yu Han and Yu Mei chuckled in a mocking way. \"That's not your personal maids. Your Honor, Jiang Xi Yu lied\". Yu Han pointed her finger to Jiang Xi Yu while she smiled triumphantly to the Deputy Chief Judge.

\"I'm not lying. This is my personal maids\", she insisted. Jiang Xi Yu was still looking at Yu Han very closely. Her used to be a good friend but now she look arrogant and hostile. Yu Han seems to hate her so much. Jiang Xi Yu still could not believe her friend was acting like this towards her.

\"Your personal maids are dead. These two maids aren't your original maids\". Yu Han blundered out without thinking. Yu Mei's eyes widen by her side but she can't stop Yu Han.

\"How did you know the original maids are dead when we never mentioned it before?\" Finally Li Fei Long opened his mouth and stood up. He walked and stopped just beside Jiang Xi Yu.

Everyone can see clearly how Yu Han's face turned pale and shock by her own stupidity. Yu Mei was stunned by her sister's indirect admission of their crime, she started yelling angrily at her older sister. She pulled her sister's hair out of anger and both got into a tussle.

\"Yes! We have plotted to kill you, Xi Yu!\" Yu Han screamed at Jiang Xi Yu while defending herself against her own sister.

Yu Han pointed her finger at Jiang Xi Yu with her face twisted with hatred. \"Without the Late Emperor degree, your father just nobody! You are just the same like me. A commoner! Me and my sister have to work hard to earn where we stand right now. But you…!\"

Yu Han glared angrily. Her hair was messy after being separated by guards from her sister. Yu Han shouted full anger. \"You looked down at me and acted like a saint. You frequent came to our pastry store but in your heart you pity us because we don't have class like you! The moment I knew your stupid maid didn't have the heart to kill you, I killed her out of anger. If she followed my order, you would not be here, acting so pure and innocent! You would not be the one who accepting the marriage degree! I hate you, Jiang Xi Yu!\"

There was pure jealousy and hate in Yu Han's eyes. The unfounded hatred made her spew even more confession of her crime. Each sister was held by one guard. Yu Han spat towards Jiang Xi Yu but the distance between them was too far.

\"This low status bitch not only plotted crime against Jiang Xi Yu, but also tarnishing the name of the Duke of Jiang and even dare to disparage the late Emperor\". Said Li Fei Long.

Beside Yu Han and Yu Mei, their parents were sobbing and pleading for mercy. The two sisters were blinded by their ambition for title and jealousy. Instead begging for mercy and felt guilty, both looked mad and full of hatred.

The Deputy Chief Judge declared. \"These worthless suspects, by the name of Yu Han and Yu Mei, didn't pass wuting - five hearings. Today, they have proven to have violated The Ten Abominations. First is Depravity, to murder innocent people and to disembowel a victim's body after committing a murder. Second is Great Irreverence, to show disrespect to the Emperor and his family. Third is Unrighteousness, petty treason, to plot a murder of local government official's daughter\".

\"Benguan sentence these worthless subjects, Yu Han and Yu Mei the death penalty\". The Deputy Chief Judge threw two wooden plates with word Zhan斬 written on it. The moment the wooden plate fell right in front of them.

Yu Han and Yu Mei wailed in protest and all the curse words came out from their mouth. The guards quickly stuffed their mouth with dirty cloth.

\"Benguan sentence these worthless subjects, Lai Fu and San Niang, three years of penal servitude plus 100 strokes of the large stick and to be exiled to a remote location with return to one's place of birth being forbidden\". The Deputy Chief Judge threw another two wooden plates with word Tu 徒 and Liu 流 to the two middle age couple who hit their head on the ground and cried their hearts out.

One guard came forward and handed a wooden tray towards Jiang Xi Yu. A white jade bracelet and a gold token with Marquis Bao Rong's family symbol were on the tray.

\"The evidence needs to be returned to its owner\". The Deputy Chief Judge nodded at Jiang Xi Yu who was just stunned in silence since she didn't know what she would do with the two items. With Li Fei Long looking on, Jiang Xi Yu waved her hand.

\"These has never been mine. One obviously was not mine nor my family's token. The bracelet was supposed to be returned to Duke of Yu\". Jiang Xi Yu refused to accept it. She didn't notice the smile that grew on Li Fei Long's face. In her mind, she was only thinking why she would want to keep something that caused her bad luck.

Jiang Xi Yu faced the Deputy Chief Judge and paid him full respect. \"This humble subject is grateful that Heaven has given me the opportunity to live without bad memories. My betrothal to Duan Qin Wang was only a month away. I just hope that things will be harmonious and auspicious during this betrothal period. On the other hand, the subject Yu Han is carrying Yu's family descendant. I pity the fate of this innocent child\".

Li Fei Long was extremely satisfied with Jiang Xi Yu's thoughtful words. It wasn't only Li Fei Long who was satisfied. Duke of Jiang and General Jiang Zhen Hai were proud of her wit and her compassion for the innocent baby. The Deputy Chief Judge nodded in agreement. He decided to delay the execution date since it will please Duan Qin Wang as his wedding date was near and at the same time can spare the live of the innocent child.

\"The worthless subject, Yu Han, will undergo a period of confinement in prison before the execution day. After the birth of her baby, mother and child will be separated and the child will be returned to Duke of Yu's estate. The worthless subject, Yu Mei, will undergo sixty days imprisonment before the execution day. Meanwhile for these worthless subjects, Lai Fu and San Niang, they must undergo their sentence from today\".

\"This humble subject refused to acknowledge the existence of the child which was being conceived by Yu Han\".

For the first time, after attending the court from the beginning, Duke of Yu spoke his mind. He hit his forehead to the ground and rejected his own grandchild coldly. Jiang Xi Yu turned her head and looked at that old duke, surprised with his cold heartedness. Next to him, his son was also doing the same thing.

Yu Han screamed and wailed in despair but the sound was muffled by the dirty cloth in her mouth. The man who she really wanted and a life that she dreamed of, was shattered into pieces. No one in the court pities her. She brought it upon herself with her own foolishness and blind ambition.

\"By the mandate of Heaven given to benguan, the sentence is infallible\". The Deputy Chief Judge looked at Marquis of Bao Rong and Duke of Yu. Both were noble but can't handle their son wisely. He was disgusted with the family's drama and cost him much trouble.

\"Marquis of Bao Rong and Duke of Yu have proven to be careless in taking care of household matters and indirectly caused disrespect to the Emperor and the imperial family. Benguan sentence each of them a hundred strokes Zhang杖. Marquis of Bao Rong to be demoted to vice-magistrate. The Heaven revoke Duke of Yu's noble title and assign him as Count Yu from the day forward\".

Before they can beg for forgiveness, the guards has moved quickly to restrain them. Jiang Xi Yu witnessed the anger on Yu Mei's face, hatred stare from Yu Han's and the regrets of the rest of those convicted. The cries from the two noble men getting their caning with Zhang杖 outside the court was terrifying. Jiang Xi Yu was still in disbelief that the person she identified in the future as a close friend had stabbed her from behind.

Yu Han was the last one to be dragged out of the court. She glared at Jian Xi Yu with her mouth stuffed with cloth. Even though there was tears, Yu Han stared at her in hatred and jealousy. This was not a personality that Jiang Xi Yu remembered.

\"My Lady, it was very kind of you to give her more time to breath\". Ru Qing shielded Jiang Xi Yu from Yu Han's death stare. She whispered to Jiang Xi Yu as Ru Ming held her hand and led her back to her chair. \"People like them don't know their place. They don't deserve your sympathy\", Ru Qing continued.

\"I know...\". Jiang Xi Yu said softly. She pondered and whispered. \"I think it would be crueler for her. Later on my wedding day when she will imagine I enter Duan Wang Fu and become wang fei from the prison. She would die with her own illusion of hate, anger and greed\".

***

Pan Xi Yin, daughter of madam Hu, the owner of a brothel called Hall of Amusement, covered her face with her handkerchief. Few years ago, when Hall of Amusement went under, Pan Xi Yin had to work as one of the pastry worker. She witnessed how hard working and ambitious both sisters were until their pastry business became successful and both girls could even got married into noble's family even though they were just side-wifes.

Now, Pan Xi Yin was standing among the crowd, witnessed the pastry family got dragged outside from the yamen. The guard read out loud the punishment for the family and the crowd cheered. To undergo prison time, give birth and to be executed, Yu Han and Yu Mei have tragic fate.

Pan Xi Yin was frightened to death when she knew the Supreme Court summoned Marquis of Bao Rong's and Duke of Yu's family. She once had a close relationship with Yu Han because they have same age. If Yu Han has ever mentioned anything about her, definitely she would be there and may suffer same fate like Yu Han.

The crowd cheered once again when Jiang Gong gege stepped out from the yamen. She smiled radiantly and for someone who got kidnapped recently, Jiang Gong gege didn't seem to be traumatized. Her two personal maids helped her on each side. Duan Qing Wang who stood not far from her, looked very proud of her. His eyes lingered on Jiang Gong gege as if his mind was stuck with her all the time.

Pan Xi Yin let down her hand out of caution. Her hands gripped tightly as she was getting resentful.

As if it happened yesterday when Jiang Xi Yu visited the pastry store. At that time, the pastry store was starting to get a lot attention from the nobles around Luoyang. Jiang Xi Yu happened to come by to check out the happening store and she met Yu Han. Their friendship started from there since they were of the same age.

The two girl's friendship blossomed and began to meet quite frequently. Jiang Xi Yu brought along her two maids, while Yu Han brought along Pan Xi Yin. Sometimes Yu Mei would came along. Jiang Xi Yu never treated her differently even though Pan Xi Yin was just a commoner, let alone being an illegitimate child. But Pan Xi Yin grew jealous for the inequity of their lives.

Jiang Xi Yu was just a spoiled gege and she got everything that she wants. A protective father and a doting elder brother who were always on Jiang Xi Yu's side. A mother who will always give her everything she desires. Every time Jiang Xi Yu shared her things, instead of being grateful, Pan Xi Yin felt annoyed.

It felt more like bragging instead sharing for Pan Xi Yin. When Jiang Xi Yu gave her stuffs, it felt like charity for Pan Xi Yin. She hated it! Pan Xi Yin wanted no charity. It always reminded her how low her life was every time Jiang Xi Yu gave her something.

Pan Xi Yin knew she was the prettiest among the three of them. She had pale skin and a slender body as well as face feature of a Turk. Her mother might have had her when she encountered a Turk soldier. Her beauty was unique and she knew she could use it to gain comfortable life that she always dreamed of.

While Pan Xi Yin has to work day and night sucking up to the nouveau riche's daughter, Yu Han, who got so ambitious to become a noble, she has to held in her frustration and waited for a long time to get her chance.

Pan Xi Yin thought she had her chance when she saw how jealous and mad Yu Han was after witnessing Duke of Yu's son approached Jiang Xi Yu.

At that time Yu Mei managed to hook Marquis of Bao Rong's third son who was known for his uncontrolled libido. Ignoring the bad gossip, Yu Mei proudly shows off her pregnancy and gave birth to a son. The family was in the middle of joy when Marquis of Bao Rong had to accept Yu Mei into his residence because he still did not has any male grandchild from his other son.

Yu Han was furious and panic when Jiang Xi Yu planned to elope with Duke of Yu's son. Her golden candidate to the noble hood seems to be drifting away. There was no other noble son that Yu Han liked at that time. She wanted son of a Duke rather just someone with noble title below Duke.

Pan Xi Yin found her golden opportunity. She dislikes Jiang Xi Yu's good life as much as Yu Han. Pan Xi Yin knew she has to incite Yu Han to use the privileges that Yu Mei has.

The kidnappers were the old workers from the Hall of Amusement. It wasn't difficult to bribe one of Jiang Xi Yu's personal maids. The plan was to kill Jiang Xi Yu and throw the body outside Luoyang.

But who knew Jiang Xi Yu had greater luck. Her personal maid didn't have the heart to killed Jiang Xi Yu and ordered the kidnappers to sell her away from Luoyang. Pan Xi Yin and Yu Han were furious after noticing the rotten maid did something out of their plan. Both had to chase her and killed her before Duke of Jiang found her.

Pan Xi Yin gasped in shock when she accidentally locked eyes with Jiang Xi Yu. Did Jiang Xi Yu remember her?

She wondered with her heart racing in fear. It felt like a long pause between them. Pan Xi Yin reminded herself that Jiang Xi Yu had amnesia to relieve her mind. If she acted suspiciously, she might gain notice from Jiang Xi Yu or even Duan Qin Wang.

Suddenly Yu Han made a pitiful scream. Her eyes were still in tears. But she could not say what she wanted as her mouth was tied to prevent her from biting her own tongue. All attentions were back to Yu Han once more. Jiang Xi Yu also turned her head to take a look at Yu Han. She noticed the direction of Yu Han's eyes was not at her. Jiang Xi Yu followed the direction and ended up looking at Pan Xi Yin.

Pan Xi Yin was startled and quickly turned her body around. She lowered her head and ran away from the crowd. The pitiful sound way from her back made Pan Xi Yin shivered. She had done enough dirty work for Yu Han. Pan Xi Yin had been bootlicking Yu Han and her family this few years. The image of Yu Han cried and screamed in a pitiful way didn't touch Pan Xi Yin's heart. In her ears it was just like a sigh of her freedom.

This was the end for Yu Han, but not for her. Someday she will be somebody. Someday she will get the same luck like Jiang Xi Yu.

Her feet moved faster. She was determined that one day she will be glorious and no one will look down on her ever again.

***

All of a sudden the horses neighed angrily and the carriage abruptly stopped. Han Hong Yuan fell down from his seat and almost knocks his head if he didn't hold on tightly inside the carriage.

The coachman tried his best to not lose control of the horses and to calm them. Once everything settled, Han Hong Yuan tried to get back to his seat and fixed his clothes.

\"Sir, a girl suddenly appeared and startled the horses. This servant thinks one of the horses might have trampled on her\". The coachman informed Han Hong Yuan about the situation outside the horse-drawn carriage from his booth. From his voice, Han Hong Yuan knew they were in trouble.

Han Hong Yuan was supposed to go back to Chang'an. He commanded his coachman to whip his two horses to spurn them to go faster and now it might have killed an innocent girl. Panicked, Han Hong Yuan opened the carriage and stuck out his head.

A body lied on the ground motionless. No blood around her. Han Hong Yuan focuses on the face on the ground. That face was beautiful. A half Turk girl lay with her eyes closed. The girl has a very pale skin. She seems taller than an average girl.

For a second, Han Hong Yuan felt it was a waste that she was gone but she wasn't! Han Hong Yuan caught her chest movement. She was still breathing.

Without much thought, Han Hong Yuan literally jumped out from the carriage and reached the girl. He held her in his arms and when her eyes tried to open up, Han Hong Yuan smiled in relieve.

\"Miss…\". Han Hong Yuan didn't dare to shake her. He waited patiently until the girl was fully conscious.

\"Wh-who a-are y-you?\" She looked very much in pain.

Han Hong Yuan ran his eyes through her body. He made sure no bone was broken, only a few scratches and wounds on her skin. He lifted her body up easily.

\"I'm Han Hong Yuan, son of the Grand Chancellor and Grand Princess\". He said proudly. In fact, Han Hong Yuan always used his family status to impress any new encounter.

His father was Grand Chancellor and also the nephew of Empress Dowager. His mother was one of the empire heroes and Emperor's beloved sister. While his parents both had great accomplishments, Han Hong Yuan didn't have many achievements yet. He was also pessimistic about being outstanding just like The Grand Princess.

Han Hong Yuan just passed his scholar title. The Grand Princess was the one who control their household. From the day he was born The Grand Princess set him up to become one of the great General. But soon after Han Hong Yuan showed interest in art, The Grand Princess changed her mind and set his path to become the next Grand Chancellor. Whatever he did was never good enough in Grand Princess's eyes.

The sad eyes looked at him weakly. It melted Han Hong Yuan's heart. He carried the girl back to his carriage. Bringing her back home would anger The Grand Princess. Han Hong Yuan has a few tongfang. The Grand Princess has targeted one of the Great General's daughters to be his wife. Having a few tongfang before he marry the daughter in law that his mother like just made his mother angrier.

The girl in his arms closed her eyes once again. Han Hong Yuan held her tighter and he walked faster to his carriage.

\"Sir…\" The coachman had already stepped down from his booth. He opened the carriage for Han Hong Yuan without any comment.

\"We are not far from the fu. Let's ride the carriage smoothly\". Han Hong Yuan puts the girl down carefully inside the carriage. Bring one more girl back would just make Grand Princess mad for a few days. He already got used to it. He has never had any half Turk girl. So he thought it would be worth it.

***

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