Phoenix’s Requiem - Chapter 172
Chapter 172: To Shift The Blame
“In that case, where exactly did you see me rescue Huahua?” Yun Ruoyan continued asking.
Heaving, Yi Qianying exclaimed, “I saw you right outside the Yichun brothel!”
“Why were you at the Yichun brothel?!”
“I followed you there. I was planning on returning to the Yi manor that day, but I saw you sneakily walking through the streets on your own, so I followed you!” Yi Qianying crowed triumphantly at Yun Ruoyan, thinking that she wouldn’t be able to deny the truth any longer.
Yun Ruoyan sneered. “How laughable. These few days, I’ve only ever gone out with my brother, never alone. My carriage driver and servants can attest to that, so if you want to shift the blame, make sure to do it in a smarter fashion!”
“You… what do you mean, shift the blame?” Yi Qianying stared at her cousin, frowning.
“What do I mean? You were clearly the one who set Pei Ziao up, not me—and now you’re trying to blame everything on me?”
“Me? It was you who set him up, and you’re the one who’s trying to shift the blame!” Yi Qianying jumped up from her seat, her expression aggrieved.
“Oh? Look at how you’re behaving! I’m right, aren’t I?” Yun Ruoyan followed Yi Qianying’s lead and also stood up. She was at least a head taller than her cousin, and her height allowed her to inflict both physical and mental stress on Yi Qianying. “You were once on good terms with Pei Ziao. Initially, he protected you and treated you kindly, but he eventually became less and less interested in you. Resentful at being spurned, you devised a plan to get together with him using an aphrodisiac at the empress’ flower-viewing party, but your plan went awry when you ended up with the crown prince instead.”
Yun Ruoyan strode closer and closer to Yi Qianying, who stepped back every time she stepped forward. She opened her mouth to rebut Yun Ruoyan, but the latter didn’t give her a chance to speak.
“Not only was Pei Ziao unwilling to be the scapegoat for the affair, he even produced evidence that you had been consorting with the crown prince. It was only under his strong compulsion that the crown prince was forced to marry you.”
Yun Ruoyan’s words struck at the scarred wound in Yi Qianying’s heart before her silken tongue rubbed more salt in it. “You like Pei Ziao and desperately want to marry him, but he despised your sullied virginity. Unable to bear that shame, you decided to cook up a plan to sully him as well!”
“You liar! I did nothing of the sort!” Yi Qianying shouted, her delicate facade crumbling. “It was all you, you! You were the one who set Brother Ziao up, and you were the one who sullied him!”
Yi Qianying had expected Yun Ruoyan to deny the accusations, but she hadn’t expected that she would try to pin the blame on her. What she really hadn’t expected was that her take on the events would seem so flawlessly logical!
“Me?” Yun Ruoyan scoffed. “Why would I do anything of the sort? What sort of grudge, what sort of enmity would I have with Pei Ziao to merit such a despicable act? Surely I have to have a motive?”
Yun Ruoyan’s question left Yi Qianying dumbstruck, because she truly hadn’t considered this. Yun Ruoyan was clearly the culprit, but what was her reason for doing so?
As she leaned against the wall, Yi Qianying began to think. Given how targeted Yun Ruoyan had been in going to the scene of the crime, she clearly knew that something was about to happen.
And Yi Qianying had personally witnessed Yun Ruoyan saving that ugly girl who would otherwise have died without a doubt. If the affair weren’t related to Yun Ruoyan, she definitely wouldn’t have helped that girl—after all, the spiritual pill that she had given her was worth far more than the life of a common civilian.
As a result, Yi Qianying could confidently assert that Yun Ruoyan was the culprit.
However, there was no need to resort to such an ornate psychological attack for a minor grievance, unless Yun Ruoyan truly had some deep grudge against Pei Ziao. But except for an altercation within the imperial territory, Yun Ruoyan and Pei Ziao really had no other conflict to speak of.
Given this chain of logic, it truly did appear that Yi Qianying was a far more likely suspect than Yun Ruoyan. What on earth was going on?!
Yi Qianying began to tremble all over, and sweat seeped out from her forehead. Did I make a mistake? No, there’s no way—I’m sure I followed her to the Yichun brothel and saw her rescue that ugly woman with my own eyes! But what reason could she have…?
As if possessed, Yi Qianying fixated on this problem.
Yun Ruoyan didn’t rush her. After all, no matter how intelligent she was, no one could have guessed that her grudge with Pei Ziao was due to a future that hadn’t happened, a past life that no one else had any memory of!
Suddenly, Yun Ruoyan felt a hidden aura from the room. It had suddenly appeared, and only for a fleeting moment, before vanishing once more. She frowned: there was only one situation she knew of which would explain such a phenomenon. Someone else must have been hidden in this room!
That person had been masking his own aura, but a surge of emotions must have caused his control to falter for a moment.
Who could be hiding in Yi Qianying’s room? Pei Ziao! It had to be Pei Ziao!
She really had to marvel at how devious Yi Qianying was. She had asked Yun Ruoyan to remain in the room with her right before her wedding. Claiming to have seen Yun Ruoyan approach the Yichun brothel, she then tried to make Yun Ruoyan confess right in front of Pei Ziao’s eyes!
Luckily, Yun Ruoyan hadn’t let down her guard.
Her first instinct now was to make Pei Ziao’s presence known to everyone. On the bride’s wedding day, a man of ill repute, who had once had a relationship with the bride, was found hidden in her room alone. What would the crowd think?
Pei Ziao, so daring as to cuckold the crown prince himself! The crown prince hadn’t wanted to marry Yi Qianying in the first place, and his friendship with Pei Ziao had been irrevocably damaged during the flower-viewing party. He would surely make a big deal about the affair, hoping to call off the wedding entirely.
That would land both Yi Qianying and Pei Ziao in deep trouble, one that no amount of money or connections would be able to solve. However, the problem was that Yi Qianying had asked her to stay behind, something that both Yun Ruoyao and Yun Ruoyu could attest to. If Yi Qianying truly wanted to commit adultery with Pei Ziao, why would they leave her in the room with them?
No, this isn’t a feasible plan. Changing her approach, Yun Ruoyan replied, “Well? You don’t have anything else to say, do you? Do your research before trying to pin the blame on someone else.” Yun Ruoyan got up and was about to leave when she suddenly stopped at the door. “Since we’re cousins, I’ll also give you some advice: you’re marrying the crown prince, so you shouldn’t behave so intimately with another man.”
As Yun Ruoyan said these words, she was staring directly at a cabinet right opposite the door. Within the cabinet, Pei Ziao was looking back at Yun Ruoyan through a slit in the paneling. Yun Ruoyan’s penetrating gaze quickly caused his back to be drenched in sweat.
After she finally left, Pei Ziao let out a long breath. His reputation was well and truly ruined.
As he stepped out of the cupboard, Yi Qianying was still in a daze. He glanced at her coldly and turned to leave, not saying a single word.
“Brother Ziao!” Yi Qianying shook herself as she darted in front of him.
“Brother Ziao, please believe me. I wasn’t the one who set you up—it was Yun Ruoyan, it was her!” Yi Qianying tugged on Pei Ziao’s hands.
“Why would she set me up? What reason does she have for doing so?”
Clearly, this was a question that had flummoxed even Yi Qianying.
“Well? You can’t say, can you?” Pei Ziao pried her fingers off his arm, one at a time. “I can’t think of such a reason either, so why don’t you just be content with your position as the concubine of the crown prince? Let’s end this, Miss Yi.”
“No, no!” Yi Qianying screamed, pouncing into Pei Ziao’s lap. “Brother Ziao, you’re the only man for me. I know I’ve been sullied, but you… you’re also… so we can be together, can’t we? Let’s leave this place and move to another kingdom, where no one will be able to find us!”
“You’re crazy!” Pei Ziao tossed Yi Qianying aside.
“I am crazy.” Rebuffed once and again, and with her emotions already stirred up from her confrontation with Yun Ruoyan, Yi Qianying had lost all sense of reason. “Brother Ziao, why are you unwilling to have me? Am I any worse than that disgusting Huahua?”
“Don’t mention it!” Pei Ziao cupped his ears in pain. These last few days, his sleep had been plagued with nightmares of Huahua, of that unspeakable night.”
“Brother Ziao, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to irritate you…” Yi Qianying was as pained as he was when she saw Pei Ziao’s tortured face. “Let’s forget about Huahua, that ugly woman. She doesn’t exist anymore—she vanished off the face of this continent!”
“What?” When Pei Ziao heard Yi Qianying’s words, he turned to her in shock. “What do you mean, she’s vanished?”
“I’ve killed her!”
Huahua had run away during the commotion, but Yi Qianying had seen in which direction she had fled. After the matter had passed, she had found Huahua and had her killed.
“You’ve killed her?”
“That’s right, Brother Ziao! I’ve cleansed the stain on your reputation!”
Pei Ziao’s eyes suddenly glinted with anger. “You killed her in order to silence her?”
“Brother Ziao, what do you mean?”
“Do you really not understand, or are you pretending? Ruoyan was right: she has no motive for harming me—only you do. Are you trying to sully me just as you’ve been sullied, so I wouldn’t despise you? Just as Ruoyan said, that’s what you were trying to do during the flower-viewing party, wasn’t it? But you failed, so you tried again, with an even more despicable method… I’m warning you, Yi Qianying, you’re nothing to me now. No matter how dirty I am, I’m still far cleaner than a scorpion, a snake like you.”
“No, no! Brother Ziao, I’m innocent!” Yi Qianying screamed as she tried to defend herself. “I’ve never once tried to harm you, it was all Yun Ruoyan! That’s right, it was her!”
“Enough!” Pei Ziao pushed Yi Qianying to the floor. “I, Pei Ziao, never want to see you again in this life, Concubine Yi!”