Chapter 304 - The Next Jing Yi
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A large crowd gathered and squeezed at the tightly shut gates, peering in anxiously. Why is Yuhua Pavillion closed for business? Several servants made sure that the crowd outside was well-managed, lest they stomp down the gates.
A carriage pulled up several meters from Yuhua Pavillion - Lang Po pulled in the reins, stopping the carriage, then disembarking and creating a path through the masses for Jing Rong to pass through. The servants bowed and quickly let them in through a tiny crack once the two of them reached the gates, before shutting the doors tightly again.
“Where’s Mo Ruo?” Jing Rong questioned coldly.
A servant pointed in the direction of the back courtyard worriedly, “Master has not left the back courtyard ever since he returned from the palace last night, he must still be…” Before he could finish, Jing Rong marched towards the courtyard, an unbearable stench of liquor filling the air as he approached his target.
With a wine jug in his hand, Mo Ruo slouched into his seat beneath the large tree beset in the center of the courtyard, countless empty wine jars scattered all around. He was obviously drunk, a stubble growing over his unshaven face, his clothes crumpled and hair in a mess. The same could be said for the courtyard; the tree had been sheared bare by Mo Ruo with his sword, several potted plants had been smashed, dirt and mud smeared over the slate floors.
The servant Ah Li had remained by Mo Ruo’s side all night in case he tried something untoward, and even made a failed attempt at persuading him.
Ah’Li welcomed Jing Rong, pleading, “Your Highness, please stop master, ever since Miss Kong Yu died, he…” Ah Li sighed, tears pooling in his eyes, “Master has been very upset and hasn’t stopped drinking since yesterday. If this goes on, who knows what could happen? Your Highness, you must help master!”
Jing Rong waved Ah Li away. Ah Li took a longing glance at Mo Ruo as he wiped away his tears and left.
Mo Ruo was still sitting on the floor, drinking himself even further under the table and muttering… It was as if he was drowning himself in a wine barrel, destitute. Jing Rong walked up to Mo Ruo and looked down at him. He squatted down beside him and relieved him of the wine jar, “Enough drinking.”
Mo Ruo opened his eyes painfully, Jing Rong’s boots entering his blurry vision. He looked up slightly to see Jing Rong’s steady gaze. Mo Ruo scoffed, “What else can I do but drink now? In this world, only fine wine will not let me down.”
“Hand me my wine,” Mo Ruo grabbed the wine jar and poured some into his mouth, dribbling the remainder over his neck and robes. He stared groggily at the jar, laughing pitiably, “Fine wine in hand, three parts poison, seven parts tears - looks like this saying was right.”
“I said, stop drinking,” Jing Rong snatched the jug from his hands.
“Give it to me!”
Mo Ruo reached out to grab it but Jing Rong quickly hid it behind his back, holding Mo Ruo at shoulder length with his other hand, warning sternly, “I won’t stop you if you drink yourself to death, but don’t die in front of me.”
“I’m not you!” Mo Ruo bellowed, pushing him aside. He steadied himself against the tree trunk behind him and stood up, but his legs gave way beneath him and he fell backwards onto the coarse bark.
Mo Ruo straightened his sleeves as he looked coldly at Jing Rong, “Ever since we were young, she only had you in her heart - never once did she look at me properly. You can pretend that nothing ever happened, but I cannot. Jing Rong, are you not sad at all? Are you really just an unfeeling rock?” Mo Ruo screamed, but Jing Rong clenched his teeth in silence.
With tears in his eyes, Mo Ruo cried out in despair, “Why? What did she do wrong? Why did she have to be dragged into your politics, into the royal family’s fight?” He kicked out at a potted plant next to him, smashing it into pieces.
Jing Rong similarly flung the wine jar away, remarking coldly, “Since it has already happened, there is no way to turn back time. Mo Ruo, Kong Yu wouldn’t have wanted to see you like this.”
“Jing Rong, oh Jing Rong, why aren’t you the least bit sad?”
“We grew up together!”
“She is already dead.”
“Bastard!” Mo Ruo clenched his fist and punched towards Jing Rong’s left cheek, but in his drunken stupor his fist was weak and easily deflected by Jing Rong, who pinned him against the large tree behind them.
“Did you think I was not sad? There is no time for me to mourn right now.”
“Mo Ruo, I have now been pushed to walk a path I have never desired; it is a long journey, so long that I have no time for grief. The person I am most sorry towards in this lifetime is Kong Yu alone - I promise, I will make the person who caused all this pain pay for his crimes.” Jing Rong was murderous, determined.
Mo Ruo was shaken sober by Jing Rong’s statement, the ache in his heart grew stronger and he laughed ironically. Jing Rong loosened his grip on Mo Ruo, who lost his balance and slowly slid down to the ground against the tree. He placed a hand on his knees, laughing towards the sky, “We are all pawns - it is all our fault!”
It was so! In this faction war, Kong Yu was indeed just a pawn; if she were not, she would not have been crowned ‘Princess’ in Jing Xuan’s stead, much less marry the Crown Prince in Ji Muqing’s place. Then, she would not have died!
Jing Rong raised his eyebrows and narrowed his eyes, “The best way to not become pawns is to become the one who moves them - I should have understood this principle a long time ago.”
Mo Ruo raised his gaze to meet his, “Jing Rong, can you promise me one thing? Promise me that you do not become the next Jing Yi.”
Jing Rong clenched his fists, “I promise you.”
As Mo Ruo settled and calmed down, he told Jing Rong softly, “Kong Yu met Ji Yunshu before she died.”
Jing Rong was shocked. His eyes widened, “What did they discuss?”
Mo Ruo shook his head, continuing, “Ji Yunshu also met Old General Li outside the city gates the day he left the Capital. If you want to find your answers, then pay her a visit.”
Jing Rong was unsure. Mo Ruo slowly dropped his head, muttering, “Jing Rong, no matter what she has hidden from you, you must trust her.”
Jing Rong finally left, leaving Mo Ruo on the stone-cold floor for a very long time...
Grenn's Rants Corner
The title is a bit ominous, but it will end not too bad hopefully.
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