Zu An continued his investigation with his group of Embroidered Envoys.
He searched for Xin Ruis mother and brother according to the address recorded in the internal affairs documents.
These Embroidered Envoys werent like Zu An, who had just recently arrived in the capital.
They were all familiar with the capitals streets and alleys, so they found the courtyard soon afterward.
The Embroidered Envoys split into several groups expertly.
One group circled around to the back door, while another occupied the high points and watched the surroundings.
Yet another group guarded the various entrances into the alleys.
The remaining group then went up to the main entrance to knock on the door.
After knocking a few times without hearing a reaction, they directly kicked open the door and stormed in ferociously.
Zu An slowly walked in.
He didnt need to do anything himself, so he had more time to examine the surrounding details.
When he saw the scene inside the courtyard, he sighed.
It seemed he was still too late.
Sure enough, someone reported back to him soon afterward.
“Sir Eleven, we didnt locate our targets.
Judging from the scene inside, it has been many days since anyone last lived here.”
Zu An nodded and said, “Dig up the entire courtyard and see if there are any corpses.
Also, question the surrounding neighbors to see if we can find any clues.”
The Embroidered Envoys quickly set out to take care of their tasks.
The courtyard was quickly excavated.
After all, cultivators could do such things much faster than ordinary people.
Unfortunately, they didnt find anything.
Someone brought over an older woman and said, “Sir Eleven, she was sneaking around and looking in this direction earlier.”
That older woman quickly waved her hands and said, “Im being wronged here! I was just wondering what the Hua clan had done wrong; Im definitely not an evildoer! That Hua clan lady who lived here mustve been a scoundrel after all.”
“Hua clan” Zu An recalled that Xin Ruis surname had been Hua before she joined the palace.
When he heard the older woman criticize her like this, he asked, “Do you hold any grudges with this clan”
That older womans expression changed.
“Not at all! How could I hold any grudges against them” How could she possibly dare to get involved in something so big If this clan had been harmed and she claimed to have enmity, then what could she do if these officials wanted to make her a scapegoat
Zu An said coldly, “She insists on speaking falsehoods.
Detain her and question her harshly.”
That older woman was so scared that her entire body went weak.
She quickly said, “Ill speak, Ill speak! I really have no grudges with their clan, but I just couldnt bear to see them idling about like that and still living better than the rest of us!”
“Idling about” Zu An frowned.
“Yes!” That older woman was scared that he wouldnt believe him and quickly said, “They moved here three years ago.
At first, it was just the Hua clan older miss and her son.
That son of hers, sigh… He just idles about all day! He never lifts a finger and always asks his mom for money to gamble away.
Seeing how pitiful that Miss Hua was, I introduced her to a clothing repair store so they could just barely get by.
“But later on, I heard that her daughter was working in the palace, and that even this house had been purchased with the money she earned! Sigh, if I had such an outstanding daughter, just how great would that be
“Still the Hua clans older miss continued to work at the clothing repair store day after day.”
When he heard her continue to blabber endlessly without getting to the point, Zu An unhappily cut her off.
“It sounds like your relationship wasnt so bad.
Why did you carry so much resentment earlier”
“Hmph, people change,” The older woman said angrily.
“One day, she suddenly stopped working.
I was curious what they were doing.
Their daughter did work at the palace, but they had practically wiped out their savings after purchasing this house.
They shouldnt have had any spare money to spend.”
“But not only had they not become poverty-stricken, the Hua clans lady was instead covered in gold and silver.
Tsk tsk tsk, that was jewelry I wouldnt be able to purchase even if I worked my entire life!” The older womans voice was full of jealousy.
“She said that her daughter received the appreciation of an esteemed individual in the palace, but I think she probably stole the palaces goods! This is probably retribution.”
Zu An frowned.
“And thats why youre so happy that they might have suffered”
“If that were all, someone as old as me obviously wouldnt get angry.” The older womans eyes were filled with resentment.
“My son is of marrying age, you see.
I found a girl for him, but were just lacking a bit of money for the wedding.
I wanted to borrow some from the Hua clan first, but not only did that woman reject me without any hesitation, she even said that her daughter didnt have it easy either.
Hah! If it werent for the fact I found out that that woman was setting her son up with a girl too, I mightve really believed her.”
Zu An was speechless.
Eventually, he said, “Its their money.
Is it that unreasonable for her to want to leave it for her son”
The older woman began to panic.
“But how poor were they when they first arrived at the capital If it werent because of my help, they wouldve already starved to death! Yet when I needed help, she instead pretended she didnt know me.
After all, just any random piece of that jewelry she normally wore wouldve been enough!”
Zu An thought to himself, This is a model case of being jealous after someone you previously looked down on suddenly gains great success. He wasnt in the mood to care about these petty matters, though, so he asked, “When was the last time you met them”
The older woman said, “Around half a month ago, I think.”
“Did they leave on their own, or were they brought away” Zu An asked.
“I have no idea.” The older woman shook her head.
“Did anything strange happen around that time” Zu An continued to ask.
After all, this age wasnt like later generations.
Rumors spread quickly from mouth to mouth, and all these people lived close to each other.
If there had been any strangers, there was no way they wouldnt leave behind any traces.
“There seems to have been a carriage that came a few days ago.
Right… Weve never seen such a grand carriage before,” the older woman said enviously.
Zu An frowned.
“What kind of carriage was it What do you mean by grand What kind of symbols did it have”
The older woman was confused.
“Grand is grand; how would I describe something like that”
Zu An ordered some of his subordinates to find someone good at drawing to work with this older woman and get a decent image out of her, to see if they could find some clues this way.
Then, he asked some more questions about the Hua clans day to day life.
After he finished, he had her leave for the time being.
“Wait.” Zu An suddenly thought of something just as the older woman was about to leave.
“When did their clan begin to take a turn for the better When did she start to wear all those things you were talking about”
The older woman stopped.
She thought for a bit and then replied, “About a year ago, but I dont remember the exact date.
I know it couldnt have been longer than a year and a half, though.”
Zu An began to think to himself.
It seemed Xin Rui had already been bribed by a mysterious person a year before.
This was quite the long plan.
“Where is the Hua clans old home” he eventually asked.
“I think its in Caoxian,” the older woman replied.
Zu An nodded.
That matched the recordings, after all.
As such, he ordered all of his subordinates to investigate Caoxian to see if anyone had returned recently.
After all, the people of this world were quite attached to their homelands.
If they took the initiative to leave, then they would subconsciously choose to return home.
Of course, there was a high chance that theyd already had their freedom restricted.
They might not even be alive.
He was only investigating this because he didnt want to let any clues go.
By the time Zu An returned to the Embroidery House from Xin Ruis home, Shi Jun had already been detained and was waiting there.
His furious roars could be heard as soon as he entered the prison.
“You bastards, do you know who I am!”
“Do you all know who my father is My father is the courts great Minister of War…”
“Stop crying already.
It doesnt matter who your father is at this point.” Zu An directly interrupted him.
This person had been extremely zealous about catching him and the crown princess in the act.
He was the biggest suspect after Xin Rui.
Shi Juns eyes narrowed when he saw Zu Ans uniform.
He obviously knew what a golden token envoy symbolized after spending so much time in the palace.
However, when he remembered his father and his older brother, as well as the Shi clans influence in court, he was able to calm down a bit.
He asked, “If I may, what crimes have I committed What proof do you all have to detain me here I want to see my father.”
Zu An harrumphed.
“Everyone who comes here says theyre innocent at first, but things rarely go as they wish.
Speak, why did you wrong the crown princess” He didnt even mention his own name.
After all, in this sort of situation, someone like Zu An was completely insignificant.
The main target had been the crown princess.
Shi Jun shouted noisily, “Ive spoken only the truth! When have I ever wronged the crown princess!”
“You rascal, Sir Libationer has already proved the crown princess innocence.
Can it be that youre questioning him” Zu An retorted as he slammed the table.
Shi Juns expression went blank.
“I dont know why Sir Libationer would say that, but I really did see her with Zu An that day.”
Zu An was annoyed when he remembered how much of a dilemma he had been put in that day because of this fellow.
He commanded, “This person is dishonest.
“Understood!” The Embroidered Envoys didnt have any misgivings.
They were always fearless, and it didnt matter which official they acted against; they would make sure that person lost a layer of skin.
What did a trifling Huang Gate guard count as
Shi Jun began to panic.
“Im innocent, so why am I getting beaten Youre all just trying to obtain confessions under torture!”
Zu An looked rather annoyed.
Soon afterward, a roaring whip lashed out, and Shi Jun screamed in agony.
Zu Ans mood finally improved a bit.
“Youre forcing out confessions through torture! Im going to report you!”
“Im going to report all of you for abusing your power!”
“My dad wont let all of you go!”
You have successfully trolled Shi Jun for 888 888 888…
Zu An said coldly, “It looks like we havent hit you hard enough.”
This fellow had deliberately made things hard for him at the entrance of the palace gate.
If not for the fact that hed had enough tricks to depend on, he might have already been done in.
Later on, Shi Jun had even framed him and the crown princess.
Had that succeeded, it would have been a crime punishable by clan eradication.
How could he be lenient on this fellow
Shi Jun kept cursing at first, but he lost his strength soon afterward.
He instead began to beg for mercy.
“Please, please stop hitting me…”
“Ill speak, Ill speak… Isnt that enough…”
Zu An said disdainfully, “I almost thought you were quite the tough guy.
Looks like youre merely a spineless coward.”
Resentment flashed through Shi Juns eyes.
He thought to himself, So what if youre a golden token envoy Wait until I get out! My father will make sure you die many times over!
You have successfully trolled Shi Jun for 999 999 999…
Zu An sneered when he saw the incoming Rage points.
He didnt bother exposing Shi Jun and indicated for the others to leave first.
Then he asked, “How did you and Xin Rui meet”
“Xin Rui” Shi Juns eyes narrowed, but he quickly recovered his cool.
“The Hundred Flower Palaces maid I have some impression of her since Ive been in the palace for a while, but we didnt have much interaction.
We dont really know each other.”
Zu An replied, “Oh.
Then lets continue with the torture.” He called his subordinates back while saying, “Young master Shi, the Embroidered Envoys have many different ways to get the information we need.
After all, we have all the time we need, so we can test them out on you one by one.”
He had wanted to just scare this fellow with the intimidation methods he had learned from those shows and novels he read, but once he had learned more about the Embroidered Envoys torture methods, hed realized that they were the real deal.
These were the real professionals! They really exemplified what it meant to wish for death.
“Nooooo!” Shi Juns eyes were filled with horror.
He lived in the palace, so how could he not know about the Embroidered Envoys methods Forget about testing them out one by one, he would completely break down from just a single one of them.
“Ill speak…” he began, but as soon as he spoke up, the door suddenly slammed open.
Then a terrifying pressure spread outward and a voice yelled, “Who dares to harm my son!”