In Yinyue courtyard, Shen Ninghua lain on the couch, flipping through the inventory of supplies that the First lady gave her with an amused look, “Qinxue courtyard must have replaced a lot of ceramics yesterday.”
“You’re right, young miss. I heard the Second miss threw a huge temper tantrum yesterday.” Hong Lin replied, smiling.
Shen Linghan was always vain and arrogant, treated like a princess by Shen Dong and Zhao Shi, and has never experienced a single mistreatment in her life. There was no way she could keep her calm after Zhao Shi gave her clothes to Shen Ninghua yesterday.
Shen Ninghua stood up and tidied her dress, “bring the Jade dew perfume, let’s go greet Grandmother.”
As she said it, Bairuo came in, “young miss, the First lady is asking for you, it’s regarding the Zhao family’s cousin.”
“Zhao Ruyun?” Shen Ninghua’s expression brightened, her eyes sparkled, “I thought I’d have to wait awhile, this is a nice surprise.”
“The First Duchess* is also here, they are currently making a ruckus in front of the Old Madam.”
*First Duke (卫国公), Dukes/Duchess has rankings within the country, and this happens to be the most “prestigious” title.
Suddenly, a commotion rang out from the courtyard entrance, Shen Ninghua’s smile disappeared, replaced by a scowl.
It was Nanny Qin, bringing a crowd of nannies and maids with her. Except that it was clear she wasn’t here to help her move this time.
“To bring such a crowd over so early in the morning, does Nanny Qin need anything?” Bairuo asked, blocking the entrance, preventing these people from getting near Shen Ninghua.
Nanny Qin ignored Bairuo, she gave Shen Ninghua a proper bow, before ordering in a stern voice, “forgive me, Eldest miss. The First Lady has given her order: to arrest the Eldest miss and send her to Songtao courtyard!”
“Hm, how fearless, Nanny Qin.” Shen Ninghua narrowed her eyes.
“Eldest miss, you poisoned your own cousin because the two of you had a simple argument, causing her fingers to rot. Since you aren’t confessing now, then forgive us servants for the intrusion. Take down Shen Ninghua and tie her up!”
“Qingque, these people have offended their master, throw them out!” If the First Lady wanted to use the Zhao family to get rid of her, then she would still have to see if Shen Ninghua wants to let her!
Nanny Qin’s expression hardened, she knew that Qingque was a powerful opponent, “Eldest miss, you’ve shown no remorse after you harmed your own cousin. And now you are being so unreasonable to the servants. The First Lady has been closing an eye for all this time, she can’t help you now.” Nanny Qin had brought a few servants who also knew martial arts to go against Qingque. As long as she could take down Shen Ninghua and bring her to Songtao courtyard, then everything would be much easier for her. “Since the Eldest miss doesn’t admit to her mistakes, then do forgive us servants if you get injured.”
Studying the cold-faced nannies in front of her, Shen Ninghua’s gaze grew icy. It was obvious that the First Lady wanted Nanny Qin to beat her till she was crippled, or she would not have sent these nannies who were experts in martial arts. What a vile plan. “Nanny Qin is really bold, to attempt to arrest me without any proof! It seems that Mother has not been teaching you servants well enough. As her daughter, I shall discipline you in her place!”
Qingque and Honglin reappeared, each holding a two-meter wooden rod. Without warning, they lunged at Nanny Qin and started attacking! Hmph, these people are clearly not friendly, there was no need to hold back.
Bairuo and Bizhu stood in front of Shen Ninghua, observing the fight as the pained cries of the servants filled the courtyard.
That Honglin knew martial arts as well!
Nanny Qin took a blow to her left ribs, instantly falling to the ground, she was still trying to process everything. Where on earth did Shen Ninghua find these servant girls?
After a long while, Shen Ninghua finally decided that she had seen enough, “Qingque, Honglin, you can stop now.”
The pair kept the wooden rods and went back to stand behind Shen Ninghua, keeping their eyes on the servants lying on the floor.
Shen Ninghua gave a smirk, “Nanny Qin, do be careful next time, or you might trip and fall again.”
“You……” looking up at Shen Ninghua’s face, Nanny Qin’s heart stopped. She could feel the pressure emanating from Shen Ninghua, almost making it difficult to breathe. Shen Ninghua was only thirteen years old, how was she able to exude such a strong presence? She could not help but think about the high-ranking officials she had seen in the palace, they had a similar intimidating presence.
Nanny Qin could endure this mistreatment, but the other nannies could not, “Eldest miss, how could you be so unreasonable? I must find the First Lady to give us justice.”
“Ha,” Shen Ninghua laughed at that, “very well, let’s go find Mother to help you serve justice then. Qingque, Honglin, follow me to Songtao courtyard to greet our Aunt* from the Zhao family.”
*this aunt and the aunt used to refer to Su Shi are two different words. 舅母 (this case), refers to an aunt from the mother’s side, while 婶婶 (Su Shi), is used for the father’s side.
“Yes, young miss.”
Shen Ninghua walked forward, her cold gaze staring straight forward, that prideful appearance resembling a plum flower, in full bloom even in the harshest cold. Nanny Qin’s insides grew cold as she kept her eyes on Shen Ninghua. Xia Shi was long dead, her daughter couldn’t possibly achieve anything. Not to mention, Shen Ninghua was not an easy opponent, why couldn’t the First Lady just arranged for her to marry someone faraway?
In Songtao courtyard, the First Lady clenched her teeth as she saw Shen Ninghua walking towards them unscathed. Nanny Qin was getting more and more unreliable.
“Kneel!” The First Duchess could no long hold back once she saw Shen Ninghua.
Zhang Shi wore a light blue peacock embroidered skirt, her headdress shining brightly in the light, and sat beside the Old madam with a smug expression.
Shen Ninghua ignored her order, she went forward a step and bowed, “Shen Ninghua greets Grandmother, Mother, Aunt.”
Before she could get up, Zhao Ruyun rushed into the room and raised her hand, aiming for Shen Ninghua’s face, “you wench, what did you do to me?”
Shen Ninghua moved away just in time, her eyebrows scrunched in confusion, “what are you saying, cousin? This is but our second meeting, what could I have done to cousin?”
“Yun-er,” Zhao Shi held Zhao Ruyun back, “don’t touch that poisonous woman. Old madam, I will cut to the chase, the Shen family must give the Zhao family a proper explanation today!”
Xiao Shi’s expression was tight. Zhang Shi’s position was undeniably higher than her own, but Xiao Shi was the oldest person in the Shen family, she was not used to being interrogated like this, “the First Duchess has not told us anything, and now you want us to confess? The Shen family may be weaker, but we will not stand idly while you blindly accuse us. Exactly what should the Shen family give an explanation for?”
Zhang Shi raised an eyebrow, she pulled Zhao Ruyun in front of Xiao Shi, and revealed her hand to the Old madam, “look at this, Old madam. Shen Ninghua poisoned Yun-er, and caused her hands to rot. Should the Zhao family not ask for an explanation?”
Zhao Ruyun’s right hands were filled with small blisters, some of them had already burst, revealing ashen pink flesh underneath. Perhaps due to the medicine gel applied on it, it looked as if it was oozing some sort of liquid. Xiao Shi was taken aback at the sight, she turned to Shen Ninghua, “Ninghua, this……”
Shen Ninghua was unfazed, “Grandmother, cousin must have touched something dirty and contracted this disease. Why must it be done by me? There are plenty of people who have contracted diseases out of the blue, are you going to say that I am the God of Pestilence next?”
“Master and the Second miss have arrived,” a servant at the entrance announced just at this moment.
“Elder sister, it’s better if you just confess at this time.” Shen Linghan said with a sad expression as she walked in with Shen Dong. “It was true that cousin had said some harsh words that day, I thought sister had forgiven her, but I didn’t expect you to bear this grudge.”
A lady’s hands was second to her face, so there was no way Zhao Ruyun could take this situation lightly. The mixture of pain and fear drove her into a slight frenzy, “Shen Ninghua, if you hand over the antidote today, I can still forgive you, but if you still don’t admit your crimes, then I shall ask people to tie you up and interrogate you, and force you to admit it!”
Xiao Shi froze on those words, her expression growing cold, Shen Dong’s composure was nowhere better. Was the Zhao family treating this place as their own territory? Zhao Shi could feel that Shen Dong was unhappy, and tried to soothe him, “Master, Ruyun didn’t really mean those words, do forgive her. She was always spoiled by my brother and sister-in-law, and always was a spoiled child, and would only listen to the Queen. It’s just that the Queen wanted her to visit in a few days, but her condition……”
Shen Dong widened his eyes, the Queen was still in her prime within the palace, her only son was already named the crown prince, and the Zhao family was growing stronger and stronger. He couldn’t possibly cross their path. He could only suppress his displeasure, and asked Shen Ninghua:
“Ninghua, is Linghan telling the truth? Did you do that to Ruyun’s hand?”
Shen Ninghua looked up and Shen Dong, her expression hurt, “Father, is your daughter this sort of person in your eyes?”
Shen Dong’s expression turned awkward, he did not know how to answer.
Zhao Ruyun sneered, “hmph, acting innocent? Shen Ninghua, if you don’t confess today, then I shall cut off your hands and legs as a compensation!”
“Yun-er!” Zhang Shi held her back immediately, preventing her from continuing.
Shen Ninghua’s murderous intent grew in her heart, her time in the Cold Palace, without her arms and legs was a nightmare that still haunted her till this day. Zhao Ruyun’s words had stung her sore spot.
“Cousin, your rotting hand might be because you touched something you shouldn’t have. Don’t just accuse anybody, I am but a normal citizen, you have no right to cut off my arms and legs. But I shall remember your words today. If anything happened to me one day, I shall go to you first.”
Zhao Ruyun’s eyes flashed with anger, “you wench, how dare you threaten me! You are just a motherless good-for-nothing, who would care if you lost your arms and legs?”
“Yun-er!” Zhang Shi bellowed, why was Ruyun so confrontational today? They were supposed to be the side with reason, but now with Ruyun’s words, Shen Ninghua held the upper hand this time.
Shen Ninghua scoffed, her tone turning cold, “such big words. You say that I had poisoned you. Then bring the evidence! To accuse me of poisoning you without any proof, what a joke! If you have no proof, then cousin, you must give me an explanation in front of everyone!”
Edit: sorry for the weird formatting for the last 2 chapters! I’ve (hopefully) fixed it now! Thanks for the replies. Keep sending them in!