Chapter 231 - It's Not Good to be Too Thin
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Not long after, Mo Ruo arrived and inspected her wound again. He nodded, “It’s not too bad - the cut wasn’t deep. This was inflicted by the Soaring Scarlet sword?”
Ji Yunshu was curious, “How did you know?”
Mo Ruo washed his hands and chuckled, “This Soaring Scarlet sword bestowed by the Emperor is sharp beyond compare - the blade itself is completely different from any old sword. I had the honour of seeing General Ji’s sword, so it wasn’t difficult to make the connection when I saw your injury.”
“I see!” Ji Yunshu made no further comment.
A while later, Mo Ruo asked her, “You asked me yesterday to choose between my conscience and saving lives, now today Secretary Ji has hung himself in jail. Are the two related?” Mo Ruo could no longer hide his curiosity.
Ji Yunshu said nothing.
“Your silence makes me even more curious - what has all this got to do with your conscience?” Strange!
Ji Yunshu did not answer him. She hung her head low, her thoughts in the clouds. Seeing her indifference, Mo Ruo let the matter slide.
Su Ziluo entered the palace once more, but this time, he met with Qi Zhen alone.
Inside the palace.
“The man is already dead - let the matter go. As to what Teacher Su mentioned about the return of the two cities, it will be tricky.” Qi Zhen did not mince his words.
Su Ziluo listened quietly, then opened his mouth, “General Yuchi was killed in your Great Lin, killed by your Secretary Ji no less. On the surface it looks like this case is closed since a life was repaid with a life, but our King and our people would never endure this humiliation.” Su Ziluo was firm!
Qi Zhen did not have to second-guess his true intentions. He was direct, “Forcing us to return the two cities for a meagre life, you’re surely jesting.”
“To Your Majesty, these two cities don’t amount to much, but the same can’t be said for us of Qujiang. As long as Your Majesty agrees, this murder case will be truly resolved and I will order our thirty thousand soldiers to retreat from the border. Our two nations will not go to war, but…”
“What?” Qi Zhen was astonished.
“If Your Majesty refuses, one can only imagine the furor the news of their General being killed on foreign soil would incite in the people. Our soldiers will not cease in battle and when it reaches that point, I believe Your Majesty would no longer be able to control the situation like you could five years ago. By then, I’m sure Your Majesty would stand to lose more than just two cities.”
Su Ziluo made no efforts to hide his threat.
Qi Zhen was a proud man by nature; no-one could threaten his position or power, and he could no longer bear Su Ziluo’s repeated challenges.
Surprisingly, Qi Zhen did not blow up in rage. He spoke rather calmly, “We understand Teacher Su’s position, which must be the King of Qujiang’s position as well. Then, we will promise you to reconsider and give you our reply in two days.”
What! Shouldn’t he be sentenced to death? This sudden generosity seemed as if he had shed his own self and become a new person.
After Su Ziluo safely left the hall, Qi Zhen immediately exploded in anger, sweeping all his documents and brushes to the floor. He curled up his fingers into a fist and banged on his desk, scoffing, “Su Ziluo, what a conniving man.”
That night, Su Ziluo received Ji Yunshu’s secret message.
- Tomorrow between 5-7pm at the city’s West Tower.
He crumpled up the note and was about to throw it away, but he reopened it and stared at it for a long time before burning it with a candle flame.
His clear eyes betrayed no emotion, until Li’er came to his side. Li’er took a look at what ashes remained of Ji Yunshu’s message and made a few gestures uncomfortably.
Su Ziluo beckoned for Li’er to come over, only breaking out into a smile when he squatted before him. He was indulgent but sorry at the same time, “Li’er, I promise you that when everything is finished, I will bring you back to your hometown, alright?”
Li’er nodded fervently, then made a few more gestures with his hands.
Su Ziluo nodded, however, and wiped his smile off his face, “No, Shu’er will not join us. She will be staying here and be well looked after.”
“No, why will I not want Shu’er? But she is no longer mine.” His voice faded.
Li’er stared at him with large, tearful eyes.
In the last two years, Su Ziluo shared his thoughts and secrets with only him. Perhaps it was because he was mute and would never spill his secrets or ask questions, but Su Ziluo often shared his experiences in Jinjiang, including all that happened with Ji Yunshu! Truth was, Li’er was the perfect listener.
Su Ziluo closed the windows and sat for a long time in his wheelchair. Li’er remained squatting by his side, leaving him undisturbed.
The next morning.
The Emperor officially ordered for Ji Huan to bring Ji Li’s body back home to be properly buried, but prohibited the erection of a tombstone. Ji Huan did not protest and headed for Jinjiang with Ji Li’s body.
The Emperor naturally kept busy contemplating other matters in his own private quarters.
‘These cities, should we return them or not?’
Neither the eunuchs nor the officials dared enter to disturb in fear of trouble; no faction wanted to make that first move.
On the other hand, Ji Yunshu was in her own courtyard, non-responsive and refusing to eat or drink. Her servants had no choice but to report this to Jing Rong.
The first thing Jing Rong said on entering was, “How about this Prince send you to the nunnery for you to be a nun?”
How she wished to shave her head and leave the secular behind! But again, how could she bear to part with her long hair!
She stood under the plum tree silently, deep in thought.
Jing Rong sighed, “If you wanted to send your Big Brother off properly, you can still make it in time if you leave for the city gates now.”
“I don’t have those intentions.”
Her worries were not about Ji Li!
Jing Rong spoke again, “Ever since you sent your final report, you have been in this state. This Prince initially did not want to question you, but I cannot bear to see you like this any longer.”
“I’m alright.” Ji Yunshu replied unmovingly, then added, “Perhaps I’m just a little frustrated that too many things happened all at once.”
Jing Rong knew she obviously had something on her mind, but did not call her out. A short while later, he had someone bring over some dishes and he pulled her into the house, sitting her down at the dining table.
It was an order, not a request.
Ji Yunshu bit her lip in protest, but still picked up her chopsticks and ate a mouthful of rice. Seeing this, Jing Rong placed a piece of meat into her bowl, saying, “It’s not good to be too thin.”
Grenn's Rants Corner
Jing Rong's attitude surprising. He's being more patient than usual. I wonder if it's a new strategy to worm himself into Ji Yunshu's heart.
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