Chapter 233 - I Am Sorry
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Pain was reciprocal; Ji Yunshu waited two years for Ji Pei and hurt for two years; Ji Pei lost Ji Yunshu for two years and hurt for two years. Both of them were hurting beyond compare.
Ji Yunshu rested her head on his thigh, her tears drenching Su Ziluo’s robe. “Did you know that, as long as you came back, anything would pass. Why, why did you let me wait for so long? Even if you had just sent a message to let me know you were alive, it would have been more than enough.”
Even though her words were muffled by the gusting cold winds, Su Ziluo had a good idea of what she said. He reached over and gently stroked her soft hair, just like he did many years ago.
He sat in his chair with Ji Yunshu resting against his legs. The two of them talked about everything, from poems and classical literature, to philosophy and the art of war. It was just like old times, except that they were in a different place and time. Undeniably, however, their mindsets were also different.
A long while later, Su Ziluo quietly said, “I promised you then that someday I would take you to wherever you wanted, teach you horseback riding and archery, but now, I can only forfeit on that promise.”
Ji Yunshu shook her head, “It doesn’t matter anymore!”
“If I do have the chance, Shu’er, I would take you with me away from this place to wherever you wished, and never return.” Su Ziluo was full of regret.
How could Ji Yunshu forget what he said? She wanted to ride on the vast plains, to climb the snowy mountains, to see the fire flowers beneath Lang Mountain, and all the beautiful sights!
Back then, the gentle Ji Pei agreed to everything she said. She also remembered that Ji Pei yearned to be a valiant general on the battlefields, but that dream was well impossible now.
Ji Yunshu’s tears suddenly fell more quickly and heavily, “I’m so sorry, Ji Pei!”
Su Ziluo could sense that something was different.
Ji Yunshu did not move from where she was and continued, “If there is the opportunity, even if we would face countless tribulations, I would leave with you, but now, I’m truly sorry.” She raised her head and looked at him, “Quickly, leave now, and never come back to the Great Lin.”
He said nothing as he was certain of what she was trying to imply.
Not far away, thirty torch-bearing men approached the tower. Hurried footsteps and hoofsteps followed.
Ji Yunshu slowly stood up, her gaze steady, “His Majesty has already promised me to let you and your soldiers return safely to Qujiang tomorrow.”
Unbelievable! Su Ziluo had lost, but he wanted to continue listening to what else Ji Yunshu had to say.
“I wrote only the truth in the report that I submitted to His Majesty - that my Big Brother had not murdered and so I could not malign him, let alone sacrifice a life. It would be great injustice to do so.”
“I actually suspected that you were Ji Pei all along, but I had to take a gamble for myself.”
“I’m listening, continue.”
“You didn’t sabotage anyone else but Ji Li regarding General Yuchi’s death, so your aim was obvious - all you wanted was Ji Li dead. I wanted to make sure my guess was correct, so I had the capital governor bring a report into the palace, but what it actually included was my deal with the Emperor.”
She continued, “I promised him that I could resolve this murder case without returning the two cities, but in exchange, he had to ensure the safe return of you and your soldiers. In the end, my gamble was not in vain - your aim really was Ji Li, you did go to the Ministry of Justice’s jail and kill him in his cell. Beginning with General Yuchi’s death, everything you did was for you to achieve your goal. If this were to be announced publicly, you know better than anyone else what consequences it would bring.”
“If our two nations do go to war in the future, how would your warriors serve you when they find out that you as a general killed two innocent men to achieve your own vendetta? Then, the thirty thousand soldiers at the border would be nothing more than a disorganised circus troupe.”
Su Ziluo listened attentively.
Ji Yunshu’s eyes were bloodshot, but she kept herself from crying. She collected herself, took a deep breath and said, “You taught me all these principles, remember? You said before that the most dangerous thing between man and man, between a general and his soldiers, was not trust and distrust, but selfishness!”
She clearly remembered all these things he taught her!
Su Ziluo laughed, almost with pure relief, the heavy stone weighing down in his heart all these years suddenly lifting.
“I lost completely.”
“You didn’t lose. You were just too stubborn in your beliefs, whether it was to take revenge, or to be a loyal subject of the Qujiang King.”
“Perhaps it was so!” He sighed and met Ji Yunshu’s gaze, giving her the warmest of smiles like he did years ago under that plum tree.
“What about you then, Shu’er? You should stop being stubborn as well. You already have someone else in your heart, do you not?”
“You just haven’t realised it.”
Ji Yunshu lowered her eyes, somewhat guiltily, “The two of us will never work out!” She spoke softly, but Su Ziluo heard every word.
He went on, “We can’t return to the past; we can only keep moving forward. You should also face your own heart properly.”
She had no time to reply as the tower was surrounded by flames. Footsteps inched closer towards them and Ji Li appeared right in front of their eyes!
A sword in his hand, he headed straight for Su Ziluo with eyes brimming with hate. At the last minute, Ji Yunshu moved in front of Su Ziluo, warning Ji Li, “His Majesty has already promised me his safe passage home.”
“Scram!” Ji Li was seething with rage!
Ji Yunshu took a similarly firm stance, “If you dare touch him, I promise you, the next man to die in jail will be you.”
Ji Li flinched; these words were not just for show - he now believed whatever Ji Yunshu said!
“Is this a threat?” Ji Li questioned.
“Yes, it is. But if you insist on killing, then kill us both.” Ji Yunshu looked up at him.
Impossible! How could he defy imperial orders!
He eventually sheathed his sword. He looked at Su Ziluo unkindly, “Ji Pei, just like your father died by my sword years ago because of his inutility, you will never be able to kill me, whether it was then or now.”
The corner of Su Ziluo’s mouth lifted slightly, “Just tell me, how did you survive? I was sure… ”
“You were sure that I was the man in that cell, right?”
Grenn's Rants Corner
This story has as many twists and turns as city's roads during construction season.
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