2849 Went for Wool but Came Back Shorn

Assistant Minister Zhou rose to his feet at precisely the right moment, directing his attention towards the boy’s family while gesturing for them to be released.

“As for the individuals affiliated with the Zhang family,” he declared, “they will be temporarily held at the Ministry of Justice until the case is resolved.”

A servant promptly stepped forward, unlocking the shackles from the boy’s family members, leaving them profoundly moved, with tears welling up in their eyes.

Overflowing with gratitude, the boy’s family profusely thanked Assistant Minister Zhou, their faces beaming with joy as they stood up.

On the other side, the members of the Zhang family were left in stunned disbelief. Why would Assistant Minister Zhou suggest imprisoning all of them without any apparent wrongdoing?

“What could this possibly mean?” they wondered.

Confusion and fear gripped them as Elderly Lady Zhang dramatically collapsed to the ground once more, angrily lamenting, “You ruthless lot! Why are you tarnishing the reputation of our Zhang family? Locking us all up? What have we done to deserve this?”

The stoic young girl directed her icy gaze at Old Madam Zhang and uttered in a chilly tone, “You can cry louder if you wish.”

Elderly Lady Zhang’s voice momentarily faltered, and her expression shifted dramatically. She continued to wail and protest, “I can’t bear this anymore! In my old age, I must endure prison and suffering. It’s unbearable!”

Upon hearing their grandmother’s distress, the two sons of the Zhang family joined in, surrounding her and sobbing inconsolably.

Men and women formed a circle, their collective cries echoing through the street as they displayed their despair.

Qiao Mu observed the chaotic scene with a cold and unyielding expression, refusing to be moved by the theatrics of those around her.

Upon realizing that something was awry, Elderly Lady Zhang hastily prostrated herself on the ground, acknowledging her defeat with great urgency. She implored Qiao Mu repeatedly, “Crown Prince Consort, please find it in your heart to forgive me, Crown Prince Consort.”

“I allowed myself to be blinded by the allure of wealth and indulgence, thus neglecting my clueless son and committing such a disgraceful act!”

“My clueless son has already faced the consequences he deserved; he’s no longer with us. Let this matter conclude here.”

“I beg for your forgiveness, Your Excellency Crown Prince Consort.”

Genuine remorse consumed her now.

If she had foreseen that causing a scene would yield her no benefits, she would never have done so. Accepting 100,000 spirit currency as compensation and leading a content life would have been a wiser choice.

The young, unemotional Qiao Mu regarded the elderly woman with an icy stare and inquired in a cold tone, “Tell me, who instigated your family’s actions today? Who prompted you to come to the Butterfly Pavilion and create this disturbance?”

Even at this juncture, Elderly Lady Zhang dared to lay a trap for her, displaying a lack of magnanimity by not letting the troublemaking Zhang family off the hook.

Elderly Lady Zhang cried out tearfully, “No one approached our Zhang family.”

The stoic Qiao Mu scoffed and turned to Assistant Minister Zhou. “This old woman is a master of deception; her words hold no truth. I doubt that confining her for a year and a half will make her comprehend her wrongdoings.”

Assistant Minister Zhou grasped the implication and immediately concurred. “The Zhang family’s transgressions, such as poisoning and arson, are far too numerous. I concur that their punishment should be severe. This matter is of utmost importance and should be reported to His Majesty.”

Upon hearing that this incident might be brought before the Emperor, Elderly Lady Zhang’s demeanor changed drastically. There was no chance for amicable resolution now.

Terror seized her entire being, causing her to tremble uncontrollably, and her eyes nearly bulged from their sockets. She hastily kowtowed and begged for forgiveness, “No, no, no!”