Chapter 285 - The Only Option is To Leave the Capital
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As the East Palace began to busy itself with preparations, Jing Yi also started planning his grand schemes. As he had struck a deal with Ji Yunshu, Jing Yi no longer felt the need to torture Jing Rong; instead, he arranged for Jing Rong to be moved to a clean cell, even ordering for an imperial physician to look after his wounds. Jing Rong was unaware what angle Jing Yi was trying to play, but before he could try to decipher his plans, another shocking piece of news reached his ears.
‘By the royal decree, the wedding celebrating the Crown Prince and Princess Huiwen’s union shall be held in three days!’ Two guards began to gossip in hushed tones, but Jing Rong could still overhear all that they said. Jing Rong was perplexed, why would His Majesty want the Crown Prince to marry Kong Yu? The Kong Family’s sphere of influence had already been quashed after the Empress’ death, so there was no reason for him to marry a woman with no support and backing to the prince who was next-in-line!
Of course, there was also some element of his own pity towards Kong Yu. Jing Rong had always been sorry for and towards Kong Yu - had he made his own feelings clear to her much earlier, she would probably have already been married, free from these political marriages.
Just then, an armed guard entered, moving soundlessly to stop outside Jing Rong’s cell. He eyed the gossiping guards shiftily before dropping a crumpled note at Jing Rong’s feet, “Lord Qin sent this.” On completing his mission, he left without a sound.
Jing Rong picked up the note cautiously, unfolding it to read: Old General Li has already prepared to leave the Capital. Upon finishing, he burned the note in the flame before him, his sickly brows bunched tightly together, fists clenched.
The Li Mansion…
The entire compound of the Li family seemed to disappear without a trace overnight, leaving neither furniture, nor a living soul.
Outside the Capital, muddy slopes were drenched by the endless drizzle…
Several carriages exited the Capital, trudging along these slopes at a steady pace. The neighing of the horses could be heard as their hooves sank into the mud, splashing the sides of the carriages with dirt and soil.
In a pavillion…
Ji Yunshu stood beneath the eaves, eyes set on the little hills in the distance. She had two cups of tea set out on the stone table behind, as if she was expecting someone. After a while, the clickety-clack of the carriages grew louder and louder, and the faint silhouettes of the carriages growing clearer and clearer in the dense fog.
She signalled for Shi Zijin to act. Shi Zijin nodded, raising her sword. She jumped up into the air, landing just in front of those carriages. The horses were startled by her sudden appearance and almost resulting in the carriages overturning. “What happened?” a voice from inside the carriage asked.
The stableman pulled on his ropes with all his strength. He could barely calm down the beasts. Then, he took a look at Shi Zijin who was giving him an icy glare. His voice came out trembling, “Old Master, it is a young lady who has stopped our carriage.”
Sweeping away the curtains with his wrinkled hand, Old General Li peeked out from inside and saw Shi Zijin standing in the rain, sword in hand. Her gaze was partially hidden but still bore overwhelming charisma. Because of the rain and fog, her sharp aura made her seemed ethereal like an invisible blade at the ready to aim for his vital points. Old General Li looked away, questioning, “Who are you? Why have you interfered with this old man’s journey?”
Shi Zijin did not answer, but slighted her head and looked towards the pavillion on the hill. Old General Li naturally followed her gaze, noticing Ji Yunshu standing there through the thin fog. She was dressed in a grey gown, her hair done up high with a light blue scarf wrapped around her neck for warmth. Her slender form seemed to waver in the elements; she had the daintiness of a woman, but also the resilience of a man.
The stableman turned to Old General Li, “Old Master, should we keep going?”
“We will rest for a while.”
“Understood.” Old General Li disembarked from the carriage and headed alone towards the pavillion on the hilltop.
He placed his umbrella at the side as he arrived at the pavillion, glancing at Ji Yunshu, “Teacher Ji must have been waiting for a long time.”
Ji Yunshu replied curtly, “It wasn’t long. In fact, General was much earlier than expected.” Old General Li just smiled. “How about a cup of hot tea before you leave on your way in this chilly weather, General?”
Old General Li did not refuse and took a seat across her as she pushed one of the teacups towards him. Ji Yunshu said, “When I visited the your residence previously, you offered me a cup of tea; today, I’m reciprocating. Have a taste and let me know if it’s any good.”
Interesting! Old General Li maintained his calm composure. He took a sip, even sniffing it, “This can’t be called a good tea, but it’s exquisite to have in this ghastly weather.”
“Is that so? Then if we were to have this tea in a quiet room, wouldn’t that be an inferior tea?”
“That would not be appropriate!” Old General Li refuted her statement, “This tea should only be steeped and had here.”
Ji Yunshu lightly tapped her long, slender fingers on the teacup set out in front of her, her friendly smile freezing in place. She asked seriously, “Then, General, is this cup of tea only to be had because you are leaving the Capital?”
“What does Teacher Ji mean?”
“Thirty people died in the fire at Chengqing Hall, His Majesty was injured, the entire court was thrown into shambles. Did Old General really think that by simply leave the Capital all would be over?” She cut straight to the point quietly but firmly, her voice almost drowned out by the rain outside.
To Old General Li, Ji Yunshu’s words seemed so inconsequential. He picked up the teacup and continued sipping, only speaking after some time, “Leaving the Capital is the only way.” Yes, that was the only way for him! Only by leaving the Capital and returning to Qingzhou would he have the men and armies on hand to resist the imperial forces, even if the truth were revealed!
“Why don’t you speak of the truth with me?”
“Truth? What truth does Teacher Ji want?”
Ji Yunshu could not be bothered to beat around the bush with him. She frowned, “From the very beginning, your target was never His Majesty. The story about the Eighth Prince and Marquis Chao was nothing more than a red herring, and your true target is in fact Prince Rong.”
Old General Li scoffed, asking curiously, “What grudge would this old man have against Prince Rong?”
Ji Yunshu did not reply immediately, but stood up slowly. She took a few steps forwards, back towards Old General Li, “Because you do not want Prince Rong to investigate the ‘Lin Capital Case.’”
The raindrops outside fell gently onto Ji Yunshu’s clean robes, blooming into a dark, gloomy flower…
Grenn's Rants Corner
Oh-ho! Jing Rong was the target! Now, what will Ji Yunshu do? I'm getting more curious about the Lin Capital Case.
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