With the news that Four Seas Money Shop had been robbed again, there was a great uproar in the capital. After all, another ten thousand taels of silver had disappeared under their nose, but there was no clue, causing it to become the hot topic of conversation in the high streets and back alleys. Even the officials were furious, thinking how there could be thieves this rampant and bold – the previous case has not been fully investigated, and they had dared to rob again blatantly. They were really looking down on the officials, acting as if there was no one present to maintain order. This time it might have been the Four Seas Money Shop, but next time it could be the National Treasury!
Meanwhile, Emperor Qian Xing had ordered the Central Judicial Office to investigate the truth within three days. If those responsible could not be caught, they would have to use their deaths to compensate for their failure.
When Zhuang Zhong heard the news, he immediately headed to the Four Seas Money Shop. However, the place was surrounded by Yamen runners, and he could not get in.
All the people at the Four Seas Money Shop, even Qian Rong and Yin DaMei, were taken away for interrogation. The area was sealed off everywhere with paper strips, and there was a group of people outside. Some were anxious to change money, while others were onlookers, causing the front of the money shop to be tightly packed. At the sight, those who kept their money there began to cry out. A significant number of them even wanted to rush in but were beaten by the Yamen runners guarding the entrance. At this moment, they were currently at a showdown with each other.
The scene was chaotic. Besides those attempting suicide by rushing in, there were also some idlers mingling in the crowd, blindly stirring up a disturbance. Notwithstanding the fact that Zhuang Zhong could not enter, he was also squeezed further out by the crowd.
Those who feared that their money was still in the Four Seas Money Shop had heard the rumors. So, when they saw such a situation, it was as if they had fallen through ice, predicting that the money shop would soon collapse.
A man hurled away a piece of paper in his hand before sitting on the ground, howling, “It is over, it is all over! All my properties are inside!”
The woman beside the man was also crying and yelling, “I asked you to cash out the money a few days ago, but you did not listen! You just had to be greedy for that little money. As luck would have it, the money shop would not be able to return our capital, so let us not even mention the promised interest. How can our family survive in the future?”
The man suddenly jumped up from the ground, startling the woman. He then yelled, “Who are you trying to scare?”
He then took off his belt and proceeded to throw it onto a nearby tree, intending to hang himself on the spot.
Zhuang Zhong, who was passing by, saw this and quickly went forward to get him down. It was here that the woman finally responded. As she beat the man with her fist, she cried, “You are so cruel! If you leave, how can our big family of six people live on?!”
However, the man was determined to die, making attempts to bash his head on the wall or hang himself. As other people were occupied, they did not pay any attention to the scene, causing Zhuang Zhong and the man’s wife to be tossed about terribly in their attempts to stop him. In DaYou, such a scene was very rare and was not as common as it was broadcasted on television in Zhuang Zhong’s past world. Although the act of stopping someone was not something many could bear on their own, it was still relatively more strenuous than he had expected. With the man creating such a fuss, he appeared to be breaking down as if the sky had directly collapsed.
With both hands locked around the man’s waist, Zhuang Zhong yelled, “Big brother, things have not come to that point yet, as the local authorities are still investigating. Once the investigation is completed, the Four Seas Money Shop will definitely give you an explanation. Besides, the local authorities will ensure that you will not be wronged. So, if you die now, will you not only suffer a meaningless death when it is all settled? At that time, another man will be the one to take your money, sleep with your wife, beat your son, and drive away your parents. Is that not injustice then?”
Hearing that, the man immediately stopped struggling, and the woman, who was a fierce one, yelled at him directly, “Wang family second son, let me tell you that if you die now, do not expect me to be a widow for the rest of my life! It will be your fault that your sons and daughters have no father to raise them! You will also be the unfilial one when your elderly parents end up on the streets! Meanwhile, no one can point their fingers at me and blame me for such a choice.”
With such words, the man immediately pacified his wife. “I do not want to die, and I have no intention of dying now. Just now, I had a lapse in composure. This little brother is right. Such a death is meaningless! Regardless of what happens to my money, I cannot just let it go like this!”
At this moment, an unknown person incited the crowd that if the Four Seas Money Shop did not have the money, they could use their items as collateral, causing a group of people to attempt to rush inside. As the usually docile and timid people turned into ferocious tigers, the Yamen runners could not hold on much longer.
Zhuang Zhong was certain there must be people harboring bad intentions within the crowd, as it seemed like an attempt to bring down the Four Seas Money Shop. Tens of thousand taels of silver might be a considerable amount, but this money shop did rank first in the capital, and its foundation should be unshakable despite the loss. More importantly, the authorities have not taken action yet, so why were the common people so anxious? Zhuang Zhong feared that this case was not as simple as he thought.
Zhuang Zhong yelled for everyone to calm down, but his voice was soon drowned out, and no one could hear him. Faced with such a situation, he was also helpless. These people thought that they had lost their money and could not hear anything else beyond that. Besides, loudspeakers did not exist here, so even if he screamed, others would not hear his words.
Just when the Yamen runners could not hold on anymore, the earth suddenly shook while rumbling sounds grew closer and closer. Following the direction of the sound, everyone glanced over with someone exclaiming, “It is Prince Si Zhao! Here comes the black cavalry troops!”
Riding on a tall and large horse, Feng Huan was leading nearly a hundred of his black cavalry troops with an overbearing presence. He roared, “Who dares to act presumptuously here?!”
The original troublemakers became silent and did not dare to make any further moves.
A large man managed to react first and cried out, “Your Highness, this lowly one had been forced to a dead end.”
With one daring to voice out, the others also responded and knelt on the ground. They kowtowed and howled, narrating their grievances.
In response, Feng Huan’s whip hit the ground with a strong lash, making a crisp noise that interrupted the people’s cries. The scene immediately turned silent once more.
With sharp eyes, Feng Huan swept a glance over everyone’s heads and said coldly, “The Yamen runners are guarding this place, but you all dare to attempt to intrude brazenly. Is this not a sign of going against the court?! What? Are you all taking the opportunity to revolt?”
With such an authorial figure bearing over them, everyone remained silent and dared not to speak further. After all, this was a felony that could implicate nine generations of their family. One could earn again if they lose money, but such a felony could not be overturned for at least several generations.
Feng Huan continued, “The emperor has already ordered the Central Judicial Office to find out the truth in three days, and you all will be given an explanation. Disperse quickly now, or you all will be dealt with as people attempting to rebel.”
When the crowd saw the imposing and overbearing black cavalry troops, they dared not to delay and dispersed immediately, causing Zhuang Zhong to breathe a sigh of relief. If Feng Huan were a step later, trouble would have broken out.
For the Four Seas Money Shop to operate this large scale, it must have received the backing of officials, and such collusion could be said to be nothing out of the ordinary. However, Zhuang Zhong did not expect that the person who appeared would actually be Feng Huan, making the situation greater than anticipated. Nonetheless, such a big case did occur under the eyes of the emperor. If the thief could not be found, he would be unable to sleep at night, worried that his own treasury would be emptied. Ever since the robbery occurred, people have also become cautious, afraid that the thief would steal from them as well. Besides thinking highly of the Four Seas Money Shop, it could be seen as a way to reassure the public, preventing people from seizing the opportunity to make trouble! Anyway, like bricks that go wherever it was needed for construction, Feng Huan goes wherever there was trouble. So, it was not strange for him to appear here.
Zhuang Zhong came forward to greet him, “Your Highness.”
Seeing him, Feng Huan’s eyebrows knitted together tightly. “Why are you here? If chaos had erupted just now, your small body would have been squeezed into meat pulp.”
Zhuang Zhong replied gloomily, “I came here to investigate the case. However, without any verification, the Yamen runners did not let me in.” Besides having no status, he had a delicate appearance, causing people to think that he was just a wealthy master who came to join the fun.
“Idiot,” Feng Huan said while fishing something from his waist. He then shoved the small item to Zhuang Zhong. “Take it.”
Zhuang Zhong hurriedly grabbed onto it. Looking carefully at the item, it was a thoroughly transparent nephrite1 “暖玉” (also known as “软玉”) is a type of jade called nephrite. . From its transparency and workmanship, it appeared to be of extraordinary quality.
Feng Huan raised his chin. “Take this out whenever you meet someone who dares to stop you in the future.”
With that item in his possession, Zhuang Zhong was delighted and felt that Feng Huan looked even more dashing than before. Although he was now the son of Marquis WenYuan, he has not officially been inducted yet. The marquis was also indifferent to him, and the status of being his son was not real. So, even though Feng Huan might have mentioned that he would help him before, he still could not act boldly. However, with this jade pendant, everything has changed, and he could carry out more tasks now with someone backing him up.
With Qian Rong and Yin DaMei taken away for interrogation, the money shop was guarded entirely by the local authorities. The Qian family did send some people, but they were unable to do anything. Looking at how one’s private property really had no guarantee, Zhuang Zhong sighed. It was fine if the officials were upright and honest. However, if they were greedy, the money shop would be emptied out even if they did solve the case.
Built with firebricks, the walls of the treasury were very thick, being nearly two feet. The door was of similar thickness and weight, requiring at least two people to open, making a dull noise. Besides, the lock was also much bigger than usual, with its iron bolt as thick as a child’s wrist.
Using his magnifying glass to investigate, Zhuang Zhong found no signs of damage or unusualness to the lock and the key. If someone had secretly taken the key to replicate it, they would have used mud, leaving residues, but he found nothing. Additionally, after opening the door, Zhuang Zhong was certain that no one could stealthily enter either. After all, the sound made was so loud that none of the guards could have missed it unless they were deaf.
According to Suan Pan, there would be four guards at the door. If any one of them wanted to go to the toilet, they had to be replaced by the patrolling guards. They had to ensure that four guards were standing guard here at all times.
The treasury was also not big, so the nearby patrolling guards only needed the time taken to consume one cup of tea2 “一盏茶” refers to the time taken to enjoy a cup of tea (a form of time measurement), around 10-15 minutes. to complete one round.
Zhuang Zhong said, “This is the furthest place from the treasury where the guards are patrolling.” When he came to investigate before, Suan Pan had walked him through the places where the patrolling guards would pass through. With Suan Pan being taken in for interrogation and others in the money shop taken away, it was impossible to find anyone to inquire about such information. So, it was fortunate that Zhuang Zhong had managed to gain an adequate understanding beforehand.
When Feng Huan ordered for the people to open the treasury door, a dull noise could be heard clearly from that spot.
Zhuang Zhong continued, “Unless all the guards colluded with each other, there is no way one can get in from the main door.”
Feng Huan’s pupils darkened, and he said, “If there are really thieves, they also don’t have anywhere to hide.”
The surroundings of the treasury were bare, with only flagstone roads. The observation towers in all four corners also meant that there were no blind spots in the courtyard. So, the large amount of money spent on the Four Seas Money Shop’s security could be said to be no less than the National Treasury. For them to be robbed like this, it was really terrifying.
It was also no wonder that the officials would pay such great attention to this case. A case of theft just right after the first was utterly a show of defiance! As someone farsighted, the emperor had already begun to guess that the real goal of those thieves was not the Four Seas Money Shop but the National Treasury! Their actions could then be seen as simply setting up the stage for the real deal.
After the both of them completed a survey around the surroundings, they entered the treasury together. At this point in time, the first floor was empty, and there were only shelves that were used to store the silvers. With a high ceiling, it could also be deduced that the interior was around 7 meters in height with four fist-sized windows near the top. Covered with special gauze, it only allowed a faint amount of light to enter. If the doors were closed, the air would definitely be slightly thin.
Feng Huan gave an order, “Bring the shelf over.”
Hearing that, Zhuang Zhong scoffed, “Your Highness is not climbing up by himself? How troublesome it must be to use it as a ladder.”
Remembering what happened before, Feng Huan laughed, “This little one is really someone who bears grudges!”
The corners of Zhuang Zhong’s mouth twitched. “You speak as if you are any older than me.”
“Precisely, I am older than you.” After saying so, Feng Huan grabbed the magnifying glass from Zhuang Zhong and slotted it around his waist before stuffing a corner of his clothes into his belt. Moving along the corner of the wall like spiderman, he then climbed up the wall like he was stuck to it before staying there unmovingly! Smooth and clean, the whole action was done with unparalleled grace. With his two long legs against two walls, it could also be seen that his martial arts proficiency was profound, as he managed to stay there without moving an inch. However, in Zhuang Zhong’s mind, only a single thought flashed by: below his neck, he was just all legs.
Had it not been for the fact that there were only the both of them here, Zhuang Zhong would have thought that Feng Huan was trying to win favor from a lady, choosing to act dashing deliberately!
Taking out the magnifying glass from his waist, Feng Huan began to examine the window carefully. Even when all four windows were inspected, Zhuang Zhong had not managed to recover his composure.
Feng Huan proudly asked, “How is it?”
It was here that Zhuang Zhong remembered to shut his open mouth. He gave a fake cough and replied seriously, “Your Highness, being unable to climb a ladder is not something to feel disgraceful about.”
In the end…
Zhuang Zhong’s bottom suffered a kick, and if it were not for his basic foundations, he would have fallen down miserably.
Rubbing his bottom, he went forward to check the lock. He could not even muster a joke, as he felt wronged.
In the end, he discovered that there was nothing unusual about the second and third locks either.
Besides, although the door on the second floor was not as large, it was still made of fine copper and impossible to be forced open.
When Zhuang Zhong entered the main room, it was already empty, making him quite disappointed. Having never seen a huge pile of shiny silvers with his own eyes before, he had thought that this could be an opportunity for him to have his fill of such a sight.
Essentially, the money collected in the Four Seas Money Shop would not be piled up here, as some of it would be utilized for other uses. Besides, after the first theft, many had come to make exchanges, leaving not much left. It was unexpected that the thief would be so bold as to attempt a second robbery, directly emptying the place even further.
As the scene had not been damaged, Zhuang Zhong first conducted a rough survey. However, his heart sank, as he did not manage to find any clues.
Knitting his eyebrows, he then looked around. “This room does not even have a window. If the door is closed, it would be a sealed room. How did those thieves steal the silver?”
Sweeping his eyes around, Feng Huan knocked on the wall and ordered, “Come and knock every single one of the bricks for me.”
Hearing that, the other guards entered the room and knocked the wall bricks one by one. To prevent them from missing any of them, Zhuang Zhong also told them to mark the bricks that have already been knocked on. However, despite knocking on all of them, they discovered nothing, as they appeared to be quite sturdy and well-built.
The ceiling might be made of tiles, but there was a flat shelf beneath it covered with heavy wooden boards that were assembled together and nailed down. No matter whether it was the tiles or boards, they did not seem to have been touched.
The floor was also checked over, but nothing could be found.
Feng Huan finally got furious. Despite having a day of investigation, nothing was discovered. If he could not find such a skillful thief in DaYou, the officials would have trouble going about their lives normally.
“I do not believe that there is a thief with such an extraordinary ability!” After this outburst, his anger was suppressed slightly. “How is the investigation on Official DaWei’s side?”
Zhuang Zhong shook his head. “There is no development. He previously suspected that the culprit was the person in charge, Old Man Liu, and tortured his two sons. However, before he could gain any information from them, the money shop was once again robbed. Official DaWei also once suspected that the Four Seas Money Shop’s owner, Qian Rong, was embezzling the money and sent someone to keep an eye on him. During the whole period up until the silver was stolen again, he did not find anything unusual about the couple. These days, the treasury has never been opened and has remained locked. It was not until yesterday when Official DaWei came in to search again that he found that the last several thousand taels of silver had all been stolen too.”
Ever since the theft, both Qian Rong and his wife must inform Official DaWei whenever they wished to enter the treasury. Official DaWei might have said that he wanted to keep a watchful eye on them, but in actuality, he wanted to take advantage of the situation. As a result, if there was nothing urgent, the couple would not choose to enter. After all, there were so many guards and Yamen runners guarding, so it should be fine. The fuss made over this case should have also deterred ordinary thieves from coming back. However, they had forgotten that this was no common thief, and it was not long before the treasury was emptied a second time.
At this moment, Feng Huan ordered his subordinates to bring Qian Rong and Yin DaMei over. As soon as Yin DaMei saw Feng Huan, she cried out, “Your Highness, how can we live on like this?! We are already very devastated to lose so much silver, but Official DaWei still insisted that we embezzled the money! If it is not on the account of our family status, we would have been flogged just like Old Man Liu. You did not see the state he was beaten to. Official DaWei kept insisting that Old Man Liu was responsible and caused him to suffer, but the thief appeared again! Could Old Man Liu even have the powers to enthrall others?”
Feng Huan roared, “Speak properly!”
Qian Rong quickly pulled on the corner of Yin DaMei’s clothes. Despite not daring to cry out anymore, she still could not stop her sobbing and sniffling.
When Official DaWei saw the terrible expression on Feng Huan’s face, he quickly came forward to justify himself, “Your Highness, those who commit crimes are stubborn and reluctant to admit to their crimes. Without employing certain means, they would not speak, so I have no choice but to use punishment during interrogations. Moreover, regulations do not mention that such actions were not allowed, and many do employ such methods to settle cases.”
Feng Huan narrowed his eyes at him. “Then, what did you find out?”
In response, Official DaWei lowered his eyes. “It is inconvenient for me to use torture on them, so until now, they still have yet to speak the truth.”
Yin DaMei spat at him directly. “Official DaWei, what else can you do besides using torture?! I am not a thief, so what can you find out even if you use punishment? Where is the evidence that I embezzled money? Do you think I am as stupid as you? This is tens of thousand taels of silver. Unless we are planning to shut down our money shop, who will be willing to lose so much? Tens of thousand taels of silver may be quite a lot, but it is not that difficult for our money shop to earn it back. However, like this, nobody will dare to save money here in the future. Why would I destroy this business for the sake of this amount of money? As you can see, these days, not only has our money shop’s business been affected, but other businesses cannot be conducted either. Why would we ruin the foundation of the Qian family just for the sake of this little sum of silver?”
Even though Qian Rong was not as eloquent as Yin DaMei, he did not lack too much either. “Your Highness, we are really not the ones responsible for it. Under the emperor, our Qian family business has been smooth sailing. We are not in such dire straits to do such things.”
“How many days have you not entered the treasury?”
Qian Rong replied, “It has been five days.”
“During that time, the silvers were still there?”
Qian Rong hastily nodded his head and said, “The official can testify for me.”
Official DaWei gave his affirmation. “It was still there at that time.”
“Are you certain that it was real golds and silvers?”
Without hesitation, Official DaWei replied, “I am certain.”
Hearing that, Feng Huan squinted his eyes. “Think carefully about it again.”
“This lowly official…”
When Yin DaMei saw Official DaWei’s hesitation, she suddenly got anxious. “Official DaWei, at that time, you even took away quite an amount, so how can it not be real?!”
Official DaWei secretly glared at Yin DaMei, thinking how could this woman dare to say such a thing blatantly! However, he had no choice but to boldly reply, “This official is certain.”
“Did you take it yourself, or did they give it to you?”
With Yin DaMei and Qian Rong staring fixedly at Official DaWei, they looked as if they were gearing themselves to rip him apart if he ever attempted to lie. Besides, there were also many guards and Yamen runners present at that time, causing him to have no choice but to speak the truth. “When I went around, I just took it from the shelf. Unless both of them knew which one I would take in advance, the items inside should all be real.”
Zhuang Zhong pinched his chin and pondered. If this couple really embezzled the money, they could have achieved it easily the first time. After all, they had previously taken out a huge sum of money from the treasury, and if they took some extra each time, nobody would have known.
Zhuang Zhong could also guess Official DaWei’s intention to torture Old Man Liu. Besides actually trying to force the truth out, he was also attempting to lure out the true person responsible. Official DaWei had deduced that the thief was an insider. If it was not Old Man Liu, it would be Qian Rong himself. By choosing to employ such a method, the real thieves would be paralyzed, letting them think that the officials believed Old Man Liu to be responsible. So, when they eased their vigilance to secretly transfer the money in an attempt to avoid future trouble, he would be able to seize them.
However, no one could outwit heaven’s will. Not only did the real thief not reveal his true colors, but a large amount of silver was also lost for some inexplicable reason. During those days, it was true that no one had entered or shifted the silvers. Even with the surveillance around the money shop and the Qian family ordered by Official DaWei, the silvers still went missing without anyone knowing about it.
Official DaWei continued, ” Your Highness, this lowly official speculates that the silver has not left the treasury, as there could possibly be another secret room.”
Qian Rong rebutted, “It is impossible. This treasury was built under my orders, and there has never been a secret room.”
Official DaWei coldly hummed, “Whether there is one or not, we just have to check. Why would you be this anxious if not for having a guilty conscience?”
Yin DaMei refuted, “Since this official does not believe us, you can search. If you can really find a secret room, I, Yin DaMei, will cut off my head and give it to you to kick. However, if it was someone else who dug a tunnel, I will not claim responsibility!”
Official DaWei squinted his eyes, “How do you know if there is a tunnel?!”
Hearing that, Yin DaMei directly rolled her eyes. “Who said I knew there was a tunnel? You guessed that there was a secret room, so I went along and said that if there was a tunnel, it is not my responsibility. Maybe Suan Pan was sent by some bastard to our Four Seas Money Shop and built it? That’s right! There is such a thing! Besides digging under, no one can take the silver above the ground!”
Although they had checked before, they had not dug too deeply. With a wave of Feng Huan’s hand, a group of people found shovels and started to dig. However, despite digging up all the tiles, nothing was found. Official DaWei was not convinced and ordered them to dig three feet deep.
Zhuang Zhong frowned and muttered to himself, “There is no tunnel. How did the thief transport the silvers?”
Official DaWei took a glance around and said, “Your Highness, these brick tiles are so thick that I feel that there should be something inside. If the middle was hollowed out, it is not impossible to insert the silvers inside bit by bit.”
Hearing that, Yin DaMei jumped up in a hurry. “Breaking open the bricks will cause the building to fall! I spent a large amount of money on building this treasury. If nothing could be found after breaking them open, who do I ask for compensation then?”
Feng Huan asked, “Are these bricks solid? Where did you bake them?”
“They are from the Wang family brick kiln and are all solid. If Your Highness does not believe me, you can send someone to ask.”
At this point, Official DaWei rebutted, “Your Highness, who knows whether it will be another trick or not. Now that we cannot find any other clues, we should continue to conduct a thorough investigation on this aspect. Perhaps we might discover something.”
Yin DaMei became even more anxious with such words. “Your Highness, you can examine carefully just by moving the bricks. There is no need to tear down the walls too.”
Official DaWei continued to inject, “Your Highness, this lowly official has been kept busy by this case for several months but has not found anything. I believe that such a flawless crime could only be conducted by an insider, as it is not easy to move so many silvers away under so many people’s eyes. It is definitely hidden somewhere in the treasury. If nothing can be found below the ground, the problem would then be the building. We should undoubtedly be able to find something if we search thoroughly.”
Knowing that he would not be able to escape from this, Qian Rong finally proposed a compromise, “If you think there is something unusual, you can just select some pieces to break open…”
Official DaWei interrupted his speech directly, “It is not necessarily true that every brick has something inside. There may be a mezzanine3 “夹层” refers to mezzanine, an intermediate floor (or floors) in a building which is open to the floor below. I think the author was probably trying to say that there may be a secret component between the two floors of the treasury that was used to hide the stolen silvers..”
“You can just knock on it to determine whether there is one.”
“Even so, there are many ways to cover that up.”
On one side, Yin DaMei could not stand to listen to it anymore and scolded, “You piece of shit! This is not your building, so you obviously would not be heartbroken! Official DaWei, do not go too far as I, Yin DaMei, will not just stand by.”
Despite the threat in her words, Official DaWei did not back down. Previously, he had some misgivings, as he wanted to maintain good relations while gaining a hold over them. However, now with the emperor’s request, he dared not do so, as any misstep would cause him to lose his head. It was not that he was deliberately going against the Qian family, but because of the lack of clues, this place was his last hope, and he could not let that go.
Finding it impossible to explain the lack of clues, Official DaWei had already determined it as a case of embezzlement. If Yin DaMei were not part of the Qian family and just a small merchant, he would have thousands of ways to force Qian Rong to admit to this crime.
“Why are you so agitated? To your family, this building is like a hair off a bull’s back. If you have no hidden secrets, do not attempt to obstruct us.”
“You…” Yin DaMei had never thought that Official DaWei would turn his back this fast – the silvers he took seemed to have been used to feed a dog. In the end, she could only turn to Feng Huan, “Your Highness……”
“Ah, why are there so many ants! They are even termites, ” exclaimed a Yamen runner who had been digging.
“These things are very dangerous. Heavens, why are there so many? Hurry and come up, do not get bitten!”
Upon hearing such words, a group of Yamen runners who were digging scrambled up, afraid the termites would climb up onto their bodies. One of the runners even shared that he once heard an old man mention that in some places, ants could eat people. When one passed by those places, it would appear as if a locust swarm had gone through. It was a place where a strong man could be devoured till his skeleton was the only thing left. With the spread of such a story, everyone became even more anxious to leave, fearing coming into contact with these terrible vermins.
However, when Zhuang Zhong heard the commotion, he ran over hurriedly. Indeed, there was a group of termites that were densely packed together, causing people to shiver in disgust. There was also an ant hole at the corner of the wall where the termites were escaping from.
As if he had thought of something, Zhuang Zhong’s eyes brightened. “Hurry, hurry, help me find the nest!”
However, those Yamen runners were already scared to death and glanced at each other continuously, not daring to go down.
Zhuang Zhong said helplessly, “These termites do not eat people…” He then attempted to jump down with a shovel, but his clothes were seized by Feng Huan, who had just gotten wind of something happening.
“What is the matter?”
Zhuang Zhong turned around with a bright expression. “Your Highness, I found the thieves.”
Blinded by this smile, Feng Huan was momentarily stunned and did not react.
Official DaWei, who heard the news, immediately ran over, and Feng Huan finally loosened his grip. “The thieves have finally been found? Does it have something to do with the ground?”
Hearing the commotion, Yin DaMei and Qian Rong also gathered around. Looking around, Qian Rong felt puzzled. “There is nothing here though.”
Feng Huan cleared his throat. “You said the thieves have been found. Where are they?”
To that question, Zhuang Zhong did not give a direct answer. He instead replied, “If I am guessing correctly, there must be a big termite nest behind the corner of the wall, and the thieves are these ants.”
Official DaWei, who heard this, laughed outright, “Such nonsense!”
However, Feng Huan did not hesitate and ordered the Yamen runners to find the nest of ants and dig them out.
Not long after, they indeed dug out a giant ant nest from the corner of the wall. Densely packed with swarming termites, it caused everyone’s goosebumps to rise.
Pointing at those ants, Zhuang Zhong then declared, “The thieves are all here.”
-Hi, so sorry for the wait! I overloaded this semester and was swarmed with assignments (finals are coming up too) T^T Updates may also take longer than usual as recent chapters were double in length compared to the earlier chapters so I hope you all can understand!
p.s. For old readers, do take note that ZhuangZhong has been changed to Zhuang Zhong for naming consistency and I had already edited the previous chapters accordingly.
- 1“暖玉” (also known as “软玉”) is a type of jade called nephrite.
- 2“一盏茶” refers to the time taken to enjoy a cup of tea (a form of time measurement), around 10-15 minutes.
- 3“夹层” refers to mezzanine, an intermediate floor (or floors) in a building which is open to the floor below. I think the author was probably trying to say that there may be a secret component between the two floors of the treasury that was used to hide the stolen silvers.