Chapter 132 - Entering the City
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The carriage halted at the front of the gates. Upon hearing voices coming in from outside, Ji Yunshu brushed the curtain slightly to the side and peeked out. They were right at the exit of the city, so she could easily see the streams of people going in and coming out. There were peddlers carrying their wares with a pole on their shoulders; passer-bys for whom the city was a temporary stop rather than a permanent one; and swordsmen who would perhaps use their blades to deliver justice. From time to time, she could also see the occasional young men from affluent families who were foppishly dressed in the crowds. The size of the gates was imposing, and their height rivaled that of the Great Wall. There were three entryways, the middle one being guarded by troops, and the only one open. The side entryways were to be opened only in the case of an emergency, perhaps even during a coup d’état. Usually, entry into the capital was fairly uncontrolled, but Jing Rong was stopped by the guards.
Ji Yunshu noticed that something was going on, so she turned her eyes towards the front. She saw a guard kneeling down on one leg and gesturing to Jing Rong. “This humble one greets Prince Rong.”
Jing Rong did not dismount and looked back with a frown. ‘It has only been less than half a year, yet now the entrance is full of guards? What’s going on?’ He also noticed the abnormality and threw a cold glance back at the guards. “Did something happen here?”
“Yes, your Highness. Since two months ago, dozens of young women from influential families in the city, have disappeared. We have increased the patrols and the presence of guards around the city, and all convoys, for entry or exit, need to be inspected.” “Disappearances? Have you found the cause behind them?”
‘Not yet?’ Jing Rong’s countenance sank, and he castigated. “It’s been two months already, and nothing? What is the capital governor doing?” The guard was frightened by his angry question. He bowed down even lower and answered promptly. “There has been indeed no progress over the last two months. The capital governor and the minister of the Supreme Court have been…” “Forget about it!” Jing Rong waved his hand sullenly. “Move away.” “Yes, sir.” The guards promptly retreated to the side. Jing Rong was a notoriously fretful figure in the capital, and it would be a truly unwise thing to cross him.
Of course, Jing Rong would never admit to such accusations as for him, they were at best rumors. The only faults he had was that he could a little too stern with his words, sharp with his eyes, extreme in his measures, and crisp in his actions. Aside from that, he should have been thought of as being perfect!
As they made their way into the capital and headed toward the Rong Mansion, Ji Yunshu, who overheard the entire conversation between Jing Rong and the guard, uttered to herself, “Disappearances? No progress made in two months?” She frowned and mulled it over. ‘How is it even possible that nothing had been found after two months? What have the city’s secretary and the Supreme Court been doing? It seems like they are even worse than Liu Qingping.”
However, the next moment, the bustling scenes on the streets of the capital that was unfolding right outside of the carriage enthralled both her eyes and her mind. To call the capital ten miles of purple extravagance was not an exaggeration; the antique buildings on the side of the road, made of carved bricks and red roof tiles, had a form of delicacy that matched its grandioseness. The boulevard was wide enough for three or four horses carriages to be riding side by side, and even the residents of the capital were dressed in clothes which hinted at their affluence without being ostentatious or downright bizarre, compared to their counterparts in Jinjiang.
Unlike Ji Muqing, for example, who loved so much to surround herself either with scintillating gold or shining silver to the point that she almost seemed allergic to any alternatives. She was just like a cheap luminous pearl, eager to show her presence to all, even amidst a sea of people.
Of course, the roads of the capital were packed with people who walked briskly and grazed past each other, just like the people from modern Beijing or Hong Kong. Jinjiang, on the other hand, was much more placid, just like the present day Suzhou. Ji Yunshu’s attention was entirely seized by the wares which were being sold by the merchants with loud voices on the side of the street. She smiled with pleasure as she realized that, although she recognized some of them, she did not even know the names of most of the bizarre objects being sold.
‘By the looks of it, the capital will be a fun place to stay at!’ Wei Yi had just woken up by this time, and, as soon as he looked outside, he craned his neck until his body was almost entirely out of the window. “Shu’er, look! What’s that? Also that mask, and the clay figurine, Shu’er, look…”
“Wei Yi, come back here! It’s dangerous.” Ji Yunshu quickly pulled his torso back in, but Wei Yi still kept his head out of their little compartment and laughed with delight.
The curtain was suddenly flung open from the outside, and two sticks of sugar-coated haws were passed over by a guard on horseback. “Prince Rong said that Young Master Wei would like it.” Wei Yi’s eyes lit up as soon as he saw the two bamboo sticks. He hurriedly snatched them and roared into laughter. “I like it, I like it. Big Brother is so nice,” As he spoke, however, he did not forget to give one to Ji Yunshu. Ji Yunshu shook her head. “You should eat it. Take it all, it’s okay.” ‘Shu’er, are you sure that you don’t want any? This is really good, but mother didn’t let me have it back then. I’ve only tasted it once without her knowing, and it was delicious.”
Ji Yunshu shook her head again, “No, really, it’s okay, just eat it.” “Okay then, I’ll eat both. Big Brother is so nice, he knows that I love these.”
‘Two sugar-coated hawthorn sticks is what it takes to become really nice? Wei Yi, you should really think a little further.’
It was not long before they finished their trip on the boulevard, and after meandering through a few corners, they arrived at the Rong Estate. A large wooden panel, with the words “Prince Rong’s Estate” hung right above the entrance. The characters were painted in gold, and it stood out even more as it looked like it had been sculpted carefully into the wood. A small crowd awaited them at the gate; they were the guards from the mansion. It was rumored that they were all recruited from elites of the imperial army, and now available for Jing Rong’s personal use. It would seem that Jing Rong was quite the charismatic person.
One elderly man, with an unshaven beard and a placid countenance, stood amidst the group and appeared to be a leader figure. He was called Lu Jiang and was one of Jing Rong’s strategists. When Jing Yi plotted against the latter’s life, he was the one who had investigated it and sent a letter to Jing Rong. The instant Jing Rong dismounted, his servants shouted out his name in unison. Wei Yi, who was sitting in the cart, jumped in fright when he heard the noise. He jumped onto Ji Yunshu, clutching her hand with his.
“There’s no need to be afraid. Come, let’s alight now.” “Uhm.” Wei Yi nodded earnestly.
When the two disembarked from the vehicle, Lu Jiang immediately brought his attention towards them, and he was quite surprised by what he saw. When Jing Rong wrote to him, he said that he would be bringing “Miss Ji” back to the capital. But now, it seemed like he brought two men back instead. One of them had quite handsome features, and wore a lavender robe, looking like what he would expect to find, but his hands were pulling forcefully on the sleeves of a second “man”.
Grenn's Rants Corner
Now, some readers were wondering how Ji Yunshu will adapt herself in the capital. You now have your answer - crossdressing. I personally thing this is also the best way to dodge the typical women rivalry and other annoying things that came with being a female with a scar and still getting a powerful man's affection in ancient times.
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