The tragedy of the Shao family quickly reached the imperial court. The bloodletter a life for a life’ that Shao Zi wrote before taking her own life left a deep, heavy impression on the whole incident. The capital was where the emperor resided, and it had never seen such an atrocious incident before. Some old-fashioned officials almost went mad with rage. One of such old veterans took off his official robe and went to the morning court the next day dressed in civilian clothes. Upon seeing the emperor, he bowed his head and knelt down, “A life for a life is natural justice. This subject is willing to give up my old life to beg Your Majesty today. Please punish Senior Grand Secretary Yang and remove the harm from the common people!”
Intermittently, many people followed suit. The atmosphere in the court was very heavy. Finally, the Emperor looked at Li Chengjing: “Crown Prince, what do you think?”
Li Chengjing stepped forward, cupped his hands together, bowed slightly to the emperor, and said solemnly: “This subject believes that the authority of imperial law cannot be violated. Everything should be handled according to the law.”
The Emperor waved his hand in response and said, “Then let’s do it according to the Crown Prince’s opinion. The Judicial Court will investigate Yang Xiaoyu’s case and then deal with it according to the law.”
The old veteran on the ground stepped forward and said: “Your Majesty is wise. However, Yang Fucheng is the chief minister of the cabinet, and his disciples are all over the government body. If he secretly puts pressure on Judicial Court, who would dare to investigate properly?”
Yang Fucheng’s face was dark, and he didn’t say a word from beginning to end. He had reached the age of approaching one’s lifespan, but now had to suffer losing his only grandson. The pain hit Yang Fucheng tremendously. Half of his hair turned gray in a matter of days, and he didn’t have the energy to deal with external matters. However, the world outside didn’t care about his suffering and kept pressing hard. With a taut face, Yang Fucheng finally opened his mouth, “This subject has a clear conscience and is not afraid of investigation. Everything should be done according to Your Majesty’s arrangement.”
The emperor nodded and said: “Senior Grand Secretary Yang has dedicated himself to the court for decades and made many achievements and contributions. Zhen believes that he will not misuse his power to undermine the imperial investigation. The Yang family has just lost their grandson and is in mourning. In order to avoid suspicion, Zhen will order Senior Grand Secretary Yang’s duty to be suspended for ten days. Head of Judicial Court, come forward and take your order.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“Within ten days, you must find out the truth and prove the Senior Grand Secretary’s innocence. Next, Crown Prince and Minister of Justice.”
Li Chengjing and the Minister of Justice came out one after another, cupped their hands, and bowed, “Yes, Your Majesty.”
“The two of you will assist the Judicial Court in solving the case. The three-party committee will supervise each other and prevent violations of justice from happening. Crown Prince, you are the presiding judge of this case, and you will report to Zhen after ten days.”
Li Chengjing slowly bowed: “This subject receives the order.”
Empress Yang was restlessly waiting for the eunuch she had dispatched to inquire about the news in the court. When she finally saw the eunuch running in, she hurriedly asked, “How is it? What orders did His Majesty make today?”
The eunuch looked pained as he replied in a low voice, “His Majesty ordered the Senior Grand Secretary to be suspended from his duty.”
Empress Yang fell to the ground, feeling cold all over, “Father has been suspended of his duty?”
“Temporary suspension, Your Majesty. A three-party committee, including the Judicial Court, will conduct a joint investigation and the subsequent trial. After the truth is found, Lord Yang will resume his duty.”
“Three-party committee.” Yang Empress stroked her forehead, suddenly feeling dizzy, “Who is the presiding judge?”
“His Highness the Crown Prince.”
The Emperor ordered the Crown Prince to try the Yang family case… Empress Yang smiled wryly. What difference would the trial produce? There was no need for investigation, because the Emperor’s attitude was already very clear.
Still, despite the bleak situation, she was sitting firmly in the Kunning Palace, and her son and her daughter-in-law were allowed to enter and leave the palace freely, indicating that for all his anger, the Emperor did not intend to completely overthrow the Yang family. Empress Yang pinned her hope on this one silver lining and impatiently waited for the final result of the trial.
Yang Xiaoyu’s case was not difficult to investigate, but the complicated power relationship behind the related parties made the trial very difficult. On the fifth day of investigation, before the result even came out, someone suddenly beat the drum outside the magistrate’s office, reporting a case.
The reporter was an old woman who claimed to be a palace maid during the reign of the previous emperor and was released from the palace five years after the current emperor took the throne. This time, she returned and risked her life to seek justice for Empress Zhong, who had passed twenty years prior.
The former palace maid’s public report was already sensational enough, but what was even more surprising came after that.
She took out evidence and claimed that Empress Zhong’s death was not due to a serious illness, and that the difficult birth she suffered that year was not accidental.
“This servant is reporting Madam Yang, the wife of Senior Grand Secretary Yang, for murdering the late Empress Zhong.”
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