I went back to my palace.
I saw things settled down a bit as I was going back.
When I arrived, I didn't do anything significant. I rested for the rest of the day.
About the others...
I heard Xi Jiu's condition is now stable.
Ming Yi Fei painted as usual, but something about her felt lighter.
The other concubines and consorts remained in their palace without making any fuss.
Ji Zhen Tian went to work.
Everyone was probably surprised with the revelations that had just happened.
Nobody made a move.
Nobody else but Ji Zhen Tian, that is.
Later that day, it was announced that the Li family's execution will happen tomorrow.
A public execution.
The time for my side quest to be truly completed.
Ji Zhen Tian sure does work fast.
The next day, the execution grounds became open to the public.
People, commoners and nobles alike, filled the place.
Ji Zhen Tian sat high up in a platform overlooking the grounds.
I also sat high up with him, along with Ming Yi Fei and several other ministers and his aides. Of course, Ji Zhen Tian had a special seat all to his own, and the Empress seat beside him was empty.
The time for the Li family's execution dawned.
Members of the Li family were made to enter. Rather, they were dragged inside.
The only people undergoing public execution were the ex-Prime Minister, Li Zhen Zhen, Li Ming, and several select members that also have a position in the government. Corrupt governors.
I heard Ji Zhen Tian didn't send their whole clan to execution.
In the end, he didn't make Li Zhen Zhen suffer the same pain as him. Or perhaps, he felt pity to those innocent people.
When only those people arrived, I questioned him through my eyes.
He seemed to have understood my question as he answered me, "I don't want to spill unnecessary blood. Other members of their clan are innocent and didn't have anything to do with the family's crimes. I... thought things through yesterday."
I was right. He did feel pity.
Ji Zhen Tian continued, "Still, as I thought, I couldn't just forgive them completely. I made their family commoners unable to rise in rank for nine generations."
I'm not sure which is the better solution for the rest of the Li family. Not killing them but punishing them with that, surely, they will be ridiculed and persecuted by others. A fate worse than death.
But perhaps, if they're strong enough, they can live through it.
I understand. This is a chance given by Ji Zhen Tian to redeem themselves.
I simply looked at Ji Zhen Tian without responding.
"It is now time to announce the crimes of these people... this family... and punish them for it!" Announced the head eunuch, signaling the start of the execution rites.
Crimes of the people in queue of execution were then announced.
As soon as their crimes were finished stating, their heads were immediately made to detach from their bodies.
Second to the last to be beheaded was Li Ming.
The usual high and haughty him from before was completely gone. Unexpectedly, he didn't resist at all, as if resigning to his fate.
He looked up at me. I can see he's definitely looking at me.
As usual, I can't discern the meaning he has in his eyes.
He suddenly laughed out loud and looked at nowhere in particular.
When his laughter died down, he once again looked at me.
But that didn't last long, as the blade immediately cut through his neck.
Li Zhen Zhen was once again screaming through the cloth shutting her mouth, as she did for her previous family members.
I pity her. I pity them. A little. On the surface level. But even if I think so, I couldn't actually feel it.
As it became Li Zhen Zhen's turn, she kept glaring at us, perhaps at me and Ji Zhen Tian specifically.
Her crimes made the longest list amongst everyone else. To think somebody as young as this would commit as many crimes as that... I never would have imagined it, had I not bore witness to some of those deeds myself.
After glaring at us for awhile, it seems Li Zhen Zhen finally gave up.
She stopped struggling, and lowered her head.
If I saw correctly, those were tears that were falling down to the ground.
I couldn't really confirm, as she was immediately beheaded, and her body was immediately taken away.
The whole scene was gruesome.
Ordinary people might not be able to take it.
Ming Yi Fei beside me clearly wanted to witness the death of the person who killed her beloved sister, but even she could not bear to look directly.
Execution was then over.
The Li family's reign and might ended just like that.