Chapter 287 - This Is a Condition, Not a Request
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The secret he had guarded was too great. It took Ji Yunshu a moment to digest the enormity of it.
“Every word I said is true. It’s a secret I have protected for 14 years, never uttering a single word to another living soul… You are now the second person to learn of it. Please let this secret remained buried, never to reach the Emperor’s ears. If you must insist on investigating the Lin Capital case, don’t open Third Madame’s coffin.”
“Third Madame wasn't recorded on the Ministry of Revenue’s census. Besides, she had no relation to the missing person, so it’s unlikely that we will excavate her tomb.” Ji Yunshu calmed his worries.
That’s right! Even if they were to excavate coffins, Third Madame’s would not be amongst the ones they want to investigate.
“So, it was only this old man’s groundless fears. I will stop at nothing to protect the safety of Third Madame and the Imperial Duke’s little heir.”
Although Old General Li was an eccentric person, deep down, he was a reliable friend. However, Ji Yunshu felt that he was too extreme and full of prejudices.
Ji Yunshu couldn’t related to him. “General, even if you do have some misgivings against the imperialists and are fully invested in protecting Third Madame and the Imperial Duke’s young heir, have you ever thought that the consequences of your actions would drag in innocent people? The fire in Chengqing Hall claimed many lives. Prince Rong was also imprisoned. Are these the results you seek?”
Old General Li let out a heavy sigh. It was useless explaining himself.
Ji Yunshu was still flushed from her speech, and her emotions welled up inside her chest. She continued in a questioning tone, “Let’s put aside these questions for the moment. This humble one has a pressing question for you. What if the fire that decimated the Imperial Duke’s household wasn’t the Emperor’s doing? Then, what do you make of the human lives that were sacrifices?”
Old General Li stared at the downpour outside the pavilion, which intensified. Then, he looked up and replied sternly, “All the emperors in this world are the same. For power and status, they could ruthlessly kill their closest ones.”
Silence pervaded the atmosphere.
“Although the Imperial Duke case didn’t have any concrete evidence pointing at the Emperor, there were too many doubtful points. Don’t tell this old man you didn’t have any suspicions about it. Within a whole night, the soldiers within the estate had been transferred, leaving no one. All the entrances were sealed, and there were almost no survivors. Even the general who ordered the troop transfer met with a mishap soon after. He was clearly being silenced. All those odds points didn’t even stir your suspicions?”
They did! She had her own suspicions. Qi Zhen did have a good motive to kill the Imperial Duke. That year, he did have enough power to transfer the soldiers in the Imperial Duke’s residence to elsewhere. If it wasn’t the Imperial Duke, it could only be the Emperor. However, she wouldn’t advance such conjectures hastily.
“Regardless if it is true or not, progress can only be made after I am done with the corpses’ portraits and we find the missing person. That crucial witness will be able to shine light on the truth of that night.”
“What if you can’t find the survivor?” he argued.
Ji Yunshu had confidence. Thus, she retorted, “I will absolutely find that person. Even though that missing person might have met his demise later, I can still find him. I will shed light on the fire that decimated the Imperial Duke’s household.” As she said this, she leaned to the side and inhaled a mouthful of cold air. “Anyone who breaks the law should be punished the same. If this was a hidden scheme by the Emperor, I believe the world will stand on the side of justice. If the culprit isn’t who you expected, I hope Old General Li can let go of the matter 14 years ago and focus on finding the Imperial Duke’s missing heir instead. But…”
She took a pause.
Old General Li urged her, saying, “But what?”
“If the fire that year wasn’t the Emperor’s doing, the jade pendant that the Imperial Duke left behind cannot be passed on to his heir, because it is a command token that can mobilize an army of 100,000 soldiers,” she said, cautioning him.
Her tone didn’t allow him to argue back. He suddenly had a realization - the implication to have 100,000 strong men at his disposition.
He was silent as he contemplated this. Ji Yunshu frowned a bit before continuing, “This is a mandatory condition, not a request. If the ‘Lin Capital case’ had nothing to do with the Emperor, that armed force is a menace to the throne. It might be a dangerous factor that could jeopardize the Great Lin. Hence, General must agree to my condition. I give my word that our conversation today will not be spread in any way, and I have not heard of the Imperial Duke having an heir.”
Looking at the overall situation, her conditions didn’t harm or affect Old General Li. If the Lin Capital case did involve the Emperor, that hidden armed force was a saving token. If this had nothing to do with the Emperor, the force would remain unused.
After considering this, he cleared his throat and nodded. “Fine. This old man agrees.”
At that moment, the downpour turned into a drizzle. They both stood outside on the grass outside the pavilion. There were no words exchanged, only silence.
Meanwhile, inside a carriage below the hill, Madame Jiang lifted the window curtain and looked toward the pavilion. She let out a sigh and pulled back her hand. There was a heavy expression on her face.
Beside her was the simple-minded Li Zhao, who was stuffing himself with candies. “Big Sister, what do you think Grandpa is talking about with Teacher Ji?”
“Why do you care so much about it?”
“I was just asking. Teacher Ji visited our residence before.”
Madame Jiang glared at him.
Li Zhao went on with a face full of disdain, “I just don’t understand why Grandpa is so good to him. Last time, if it wasn’t for my quick reaction, I would have been beaten to death by Grandpa.”
“Serves you right!”
“Sis! Why do you always side with the outsider?” His expression was full of complaints.
Madame Jiang scowled coldly at him.
Li Zhao immediately shut up. He became depressed, but it only lasts a moment before he asks curiously, “That’s right! Why does Grandpa want us to move back to Jingzhou overnight? Isn’t the Capital good? We had lived here for so long but have to return now. Isn’t it vexing?”
It was! It was really frustrating! He still owed gambling debts in Jingzhou!
In fact, Madame Jiang didn’t understand why they have to leave. Chengqing hall was suddenly burned, and her grandpa decided to move the whole family back to Jingzhou. It was quite baffling. She had a few conjectures in her mind. She had an inkling that it might be related to that 14 year old case. If it wasn’t, Teacher Ji would not be waiting for them here.
What is going on in the end? She shook her head, stopping herself from thinking further. Once again, she lifted the window curtain and looked outside.
Old General Li was now walking back, umbrella in hand. He shook off some of the water on his body before going in the carriage.
On the hill, Ji Yunshu watched him go. Then, under her eyes, the Li family’s carriages drove away toward Jingzhou.
For the rest of his life, Old General Li might not return to the capital.
After the carriages were out of her sight, she called for Shi Zijin.
Like a shadow, Shi Zijin suddenly appeared in front of Ji Yunshu.
“You're not allowed to mention what you heard here.”
“Not even to Prince Rong.”
In Shi Zijin’s heart, she had long recognized Ji Yunshu has her master.
Afterward, they rode down the mountain and went straight to the city center. As they reached the city center, they almost hit someone. The carriage shook and swayed as it avoided the collision.
Grenn's Rants Corner
And so Old General Li left... I guess Ji Yunshu have to find another way to prove Jing Rong's innocent.
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