Chapter 443: Completely soaked Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Previously, Han Yunxi had ordered men to deliver the exploded charcoal ash to a specialist for study, but the specialist hadn’t found any traces of explosives in the samples. Because of that, the case of the exploding stove had stalled for lack of evidence.
Now that they had proof, follow up investigations were easy. We would figure out if this was a premeditated attack very soon! When Han Yunxi and Baili Mingxiang left the study, they didn’t disturb Zhao mama or Su Xiaoyu, but silently went to the storehouse by themselves. Aside from the remnants of that day’s charcoal, which was in Han Yunxi’s hands, the rest of the unburnt pile had been stored with all of Leisurely Cloud Pavilion’s charcoal supply in this storehouse.
“Esteemed wangfei, are we going to burn the rest of all that charcoal to ashes so we can mix the remains with the poison as well?” Baili Mingxiang asked.
“Xu Donglin’s already checked through the entire pile and didn’t find anything suspicious,” Han Yunxi explained.
Baili Mingxiang grew alarmed. “But judging from the pile that exploded that morning, it’s obvious someone sabotaged the charcoal!”
“Not necessarily. We arranged for a specialist to analyze the samples. Some explosive substances only go off at specific times after being ignited, while others explode right away. There are other points of reference that differ too. It’s possible that someone really sabotaged the pile that morning, but it’s also possible that it was just a coincidence that the charcoal had the right quantity of materials to blow up just on that day.” Han Yunxi might not know the finer details of charcoal, but she understood enough of its variations from her own knowledge of poisons and how time, quantity, heat, water and water temperature could all affect the original substances. Thus, the specialist’s explanation had made perfect sense to her.
For example, there were some poisons that could be used in conjunction with changes in the weather, such as the poison fog at Fishery Island. Then there were poisons that might have existed in the air itself but never turn toxic unless it was under very specific climate changes. That was why they needed full proof before declaring the explosion from that morning a manmade plot. The residue dregs of explosives she found from the ashes was the first step to determining the verdict!
As long as they could burn samples of charcoal from Leisurely Cloud Pavilion’s store, that morning’s charcoal’s pile, and the rest of the estate’s reserves, they could see which one created a successful reaction when mixed with Han Yunxi’s poison. If explosive substances were present in all of the charcoal samples, then it would show that the explosion that morning had been an accident. At the very least, Leisurely Cloud Pavilion’s servants wouldn’t be the sole source of suspicion.
However, if no such reaction happened, then it would fully prove that the exploding charcoal from that morning was the sole exception. In other words, someone might have sabotaged the pile intentionally!
Han Yunxi was a careful type and had kept her reservations about the suspects in this case. The last thing she wanted to do was over think things before she had enough evidence to prove herself and Long Feiye otherwise. When she saw that Baili Mingxiang didn’t speak up, she asked, “Have you figured it out?”
Baili Mingxiang creased her brows in thought before breaking out into a smile. “I have! Esteemed wangfei, you’ve really thought this through.”
“It’s the same principle with poisons. Every aspect must be considered; we can’t just rely on making the poison itself.” As Han Yunxi spoke, Baili Mingxiang silently commited her words to memory.
They walked as they talked until they reached the storehouse, but Xu Donglin suddenly came running to meet them, panting for breath. “Esteemed wangfei, bad news!”
“Speak sensibly, what’s the rush?” Han Yunxi scolded him unhappily.
Xu Donglin was still anxious. “Esteemed wangfei, all of the charcoal’s soaked through.”
“What?” Han Yunxi grew restless at his words as well.
“It was raining over the past few days and the storehouse was leaking from the roof. We only discovered it today. Many of the other things inside are wet as well,” Xu Donglin explained.
“Let’s go have a look!”
Han Yunxi’s heart was heavy. This felt like too much of a coincidence. In the Duke of Qin’s estate, even the storehouses had glazed tile roofs that could stand up to strong storms. It was rare for them to be worn away by the weather, so how could leaks appear in the roof? And in the roof of the storehouse where the suspicious charcoal was stored, of all places?
By the time they rushed to the storehouse, there was already a craftsman inspecting the roof. He’d been brought in by the guards.
“What’s the situation?” Han Yunxi asked.
“Esteemed wangfei, it looks like this was intentional sabotage.”
Han Yunxi’s heart sunk again. “Why do you say that?”
“The leak came from a raised tile on the roof. It was displaced with large amounts of force, but judging from its position, it was pushed aside by an object from the inside. It didn’t loosen by itself on the roof,” the craftsman explained.
Everyone was startled by the revelation! This meant that someone had used the rainy days as a way to ruin the charcoal samples below!
“It’s certainly a spy with finesse. Instead of destroying the charcoal directly, they used the rain to fabricate an accident. They’ve really thought on this,” Baili Mingxiang remarked.
Since things had come to this, there was no need to verify the presence of a culprit with the poison testing anymore. Neither was the explosion any accident, but manmade. Whoever ruined the charcoal pile was trying to destroy the evidence of their deeds! Unbelievably, the suspect had not only slipped into her Leisurely Cloud Pavilion, but the storehouse as well.
“Who came to this storehouse in the past few days?” Han Yunxi asked seriously. Aside from the person in charge, no one else could enter or exit without making a record first. Xu Donglin quickly obtained the records of the storehouse. When Han Yunxi flipped through the pages for the past few days, she didn’t see either Zhao mama or Su Xiaoyu’s names in the ledgers. Aside from Steward Luo and two little pageboys, no one else had dropped by at all.
Typically speaking, Zhao mama and Su Xiaoyu wouldn’t come to the storehouse either. Could it be they’re not the suspects? Or maybe there’s more than one?
The safest place she knew, the Duke of Qin’s estate, had now been infilitrated by spies of unknown loyalty!
Han Yunxi gently stroked the sodden charcoal as her resolve hardened in her heart. “Don’t think that this will stop this wangfei from digging out the evidence!” Coldly she commanded, “Don’t spread news of this yet. It doesn’t matter whether we have one spy or two, this wangfei won’t forgive either of them!”
Over the past few days, Han Yunxi went on to research various poisons that could react with sodden charcoal to form new poisons. Neither Zhao mama nor Su Xiaoyu visited the study, nor did any other servants approach Leisurely Cloud Pavilion. If Han Yunxi could find traces of explosive materials in all the charcoal, sodden or not, she’d be able to argue that the charcoal was explosive to begin with and absolve Zhao mama and Su Xiaoyu from blame.
If the opposite happened and she didn’t find any explosive materials, then the number of suspects would increase to include the storehouse staff as well.
Meanwhile, days in the estate passed normally. Han Yunxi had long leaked news on purpose that the explosion was a freak accident, causing most of the servants to assume the same thing and forgot about it. Nobody brought it up, either. Despite this, Han Yunxi and Baili Mingxiang were getting closer to narrowing down the true culprit with their poison experiments. They were seizing the time to perfect the formula while a certain other person was caught in the throes of panic.
That person was none other than Su Xiaoyu!
She knew that the peaceful days here might be only a front, and that they might be tracking her down at this moment. The more Han Yunxi and Long Feiye stayed quiet about the matter, the more nervous she became. She could guess that she was on the list of suspects already, but there was no escape for her now. The only thing she could do was give it her all before she was discovered to see Han Yunxi’s back one more time.
Unfortunately, that chance didn’t want to come. Long Feiye had constantly been by Han Yunxi’s side in the past few days, so she didn’t dare to try any tricks. Later on, Han Yunxi and Long Feiye had left the estate together, leaving her with even less chances. While they were gone, she decided that she might as well soak the charcoal and reduce their clues. Without evidence, they could accuse her all they liked, but she’d plead ignorance in their faces.
When lunchtime came, the kitchens sent over the noonday meal. Like always, Su Xiaoyu ran in front of Zhao mama to grab the food first. From beneath the basket of food, she withdrew a small slip of paper with a single line written on it: They discovered the leaking roof in the storehouse yesterday.
Su Xiaoyu’s heart clenched at the sight. Despite discovering the leak, Han Yunxi had kept quiet. This could only mean that she was pursuing her leads in secret.
Just how far has her investigation gone?
Su Xiaoyu’s heart was ill at ease as she carried the food inside the rooms.
“Let me see what kind of delicious foods we have for lunch today,” Zhao mama’s voice rose up. She had been suspicious too, when the explosion first happened. But after esteemed wangfei declared it an accident, she had stopped worrying over it.
Su Xiaoyu’s eyes flickered with a complicated expression. She told herself that she had to move fast or else there’d really be no more chances. Pasting on a smile, she said, “Zhao mama, why is esteemed wangfei doing nothing but staying in the study with Baili Mingxiang all day?”
“She’s studying poisons, of course. Just put the food in the dining room, don’t you go bothering them now,” Zhao mama reminded.
“I think I should bring it in or else it’ll get cold,” Su Xiaoyu said seriously.
“You’re just asking to be scolded!” Zhao mama knew esteemed wangfei worked hard and wanted her to take timely meals, but she’d already been scolded herself multiple times.
“No problem, Yu’er will take the scolding as long as esteemed wangfei eats on time!” She went to knock on the door, so Zhao mama relented and laughed.
“They won’t open it.”
But Su Xiaoyu simply knocked on the door without saying a word. Soon enough, Baili Mingxiang’s voice rose from inside. “Who is it?”
Su Xiaoyu shot a grin at Zhao mama but remained quiet.
“This damned girl, she’s getting bolder and bolder!” Zhao mama muttered to herself, but she didn’t stop her.
Su Xiaoyu’s method worked, because Baili Mingxiang soon opened the door. As soon as she saw Su Xiaoyu, she asked, “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“I’m delivering the meal to esteemed wangfei. Would you ever open the door if I spoke up?” Su Xiaoyu retorted.
Baili Mingxiang was on guard against Su Xiaoyu to begin with because she was a suspect; nor did she like the attitude of the girl, who acted on her own initiative. Still, she hid her dislike and simply remarked, “Esteemed wangfei is very busy, so just put it in the dining room.”
Su Xiaoyu pouted and glanced at Zhao mama, who was preoccupied with helping esteemed wangfei nourish her body. Naturally, she stood on Su Xiaoyu’s side, and quickly chimed in, “Mingxiang, if esteemed wangfei doesn’t eat now, her stomach won’t be able to take it. When His Highness comes blaming us, we’ll all suffer.”
Baili Mingxiang dared not refuse when His Highness Duke of Qin was mentioned. Recently, it was common knowledge around the estate that he’d been doing nothing but helping esteemed wangfei to regain her health. Baili Mingxiang hid the complicated look in her eyes before she relented. “Alright, I’ll take it in.”
But Su Xiaoyu simply swerved around her and went inside the room with the large basket of food.
Her chance had come!