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2855 Evidence

Qiao Mu tightly pressed her lips together. Despite her intense displeasure, she swiftly composed herself. “Prepare a carriage. I’m going to the capital hall.”

“Crown Prince Consort, are you truly going to the capital hall?” Palace Lady Jing stepped forward, bowing respectfully, and attempted to dissuade her.

Qiao Mu nodded resolutely. “Yes.”

Unable to persuade her otherwise, they arranged for a carriage under the shroud of night and accompanied Qiao Mu to the capital hall.

Upon hearing that the Crown Prince Consort had arrived, Stubborn Cao promptly greeted her alongside Governor Wu and ushered her into the inner hall, where tea was offered.

After a while, he brought in a solemn young man in his twenties. The man wore a plain brown robe with a high collar. He had prominent eyebrows, large eyes, and a faint smirk at the corner of his mouth.

Upon seeing the petite Crown Prince Consort seated in an armchair, he displayed no signs of panic. Instead, he raised his gaze and knelt down respectfully. “Greetings, Crown Prince Consort. I am Zhang Enjie.”

Qiao Mu set down her teacup and nodded in acknowledgment. “You came to the capital hall in the dead of night to bring forth allegations against me. This matter has already become public knowledge in the court.”

Zhang Enjie lowered his eyes and remained kneeling before Qiao Mu.

Qiao Mu didn’t permit him to rise, nor did she immediately engage in conversation. She simply allowed him to maintain his position, kneeling with a straight back.

“Hand over the document.”

Stubborn Cao could sense the tension in the room as he handed over the document to Qiao Mu, who accepted it and read it in silence for a minute. Then, she slammed the document forcefully onto the table beside her.

An oppressive silence pervaded the entire inner hall, weighing heavily on the hearts of those present, including Stubborn Cao and the other officials.

The young lady was of tender years, yet her presence exuded an undeniable strength.

“Yes, I have reviewed the document. It is well-composed and articulate. Quite impressive,” Qiao Mu remarked coolly, fixing her sharp gaze on Zhang Enjie.

“But I must inquire, Viscount Zhang, where is the basis for your assertion that I, as the Crown Prince Consort, ordered the Ministry of Justice to execute the eight members of the Zhang family? Is this merely a product of your conjecture?”

Zhang Enjie lifted his head suddenly, his tone growing defiant. “I attempted to visit the prison and make inquiries. However, the prison authorities from the Ministry of Justice prevented me from approaching. If you have nothing to hide, why would they deny me access?”

Qiao Mu shot a cold, scrutinizing look at the young man before her. “You are Zhang Enjie.”

“Yes.”

“Why did you choose not to stir up trouble today?”

“I regret to inform the Crown Prince Consort that I never agreed with my grandmother and father in the first place. I went to the Butterfly Pavilion to cause a commotion of my own accord.”

Qiao Mu cast him a profound glance. “Accompany me.”

“Thank you for your company, Excellency Cao.”

“Crown Prince Consort, your kindness is unparalleled,” Stubborn Cao replied, flattered. “It is my duty. Please proceed, Crown Prince Consort.”

And so, accompanied by Stubborn Cao and Wu Shaoyin, Qiao Mu and her entourage made their way to the Ministry of Justice’s prison.

Upon learning of the demise of the eight members of the Zhang family, an ailing Assistant Minister Zhou understood the gravity of the situation and promptly reported it to his superior, Minister Fang.

Upon hearing of the Crown Prince Consort’s arrival, Minister Fang and Assistant Minister Zhou welcomed them at the main entrance and led the entire group to the prison.

Assistant Minister Zhou had anticipated that an investigation of the prison would be inevitable following such a significant incident. Consequently, he had instructed the prison staff to thoroughly clean the prison cells and stow away the gruesome torture implements.

As he entered the prison cell, it appeared pristine.

“This way, Crown Prince Consort.”

Assistant Minister Zhou directed the jailer to guide the group to the prison cell previously occupied by the Zhang family.