Chapter 325 - Sounding the Royal Drums (2)
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Aunty Xie’s entire body was shaking. Some blood sputtered from her mouth as she feebly grabbed onto Ji Yunshu’s sleeve.
Ji Yunshu began to tear up, “Aunty Xie, I promise you I would definitely help you, but these paddles cannot be taken lightly.”
“As long as … I can … clear my … daughter’s name, it … doesn’t … matter if I … die.” What fear did a mother have if it were all for the sake of her child?
“Why put yourself through all these?”
“If I die, my only wish, Teacher, is to … serve justice … to those who deserve it.” Aunty Xie’s face was wrinkled in pain, and she looked miserable.
Ji Yunshu crinkled her nose as she looked to that overseer, “How many strokes are left?”
The overseer was deadpan, “There are twenty-seven strokes left - all must be administered.”
“If the remaining twenty-seven paddles were borne, could we sound the drums?”
“According to the Great Lin’s laws, that is correct.” He replied accordingly, next addressing Aunty Xie, “Are you going to continue?”
Aunty Xie slowly closed her bloodshot eyes and nodded, unwavering. She managed to force out only one word, “Yes!”
The overseer ordered Ji Yunshu to be pulled aside, “Continue hitting.”
Smack! Another heavy stroke struck Aunty Xie’s back, more blood soaking her already stained dress.
“Stop hitting, stop hitting …” Ji Yunshu screamed, but she was firmly held back by two burly guards.
Another four paddles fell.
Aunty Xie had long lost consciousness, but none of the guards were about to stop any time soon.
Tears streamed down Ji Yunshu cheeks as she used all her strength to break out of those guards’ deathgrip. She clamoured to where Aunty Xie was and the next stroke landed squarely on her back.
“Oof!” She bit her lips, holding back her tears from the numbing pain burning across her back.
Ji Wanxin was flabbergasted, “Yunshu?” She stood where she was, her feet rooted to the ground.
The overseer had no mind to stop his men, instead ordering his guards, “Continue!” The guard began to raise his paddle, intending to strike once more, but that heavy paddle was stopped in mid-air by Shi Zijin who was observing in the shadows, her sword skillfully pushing it away. She gave him a kick, berating, “What guts!”
He clutched his stomach as he doubled over, looking toward the overseer, “Sir, this is?”
The overseer was likewise surprised as he questioned, “Who are you?”
Shi Zijin could care less. She squatted down and checked on Ji Yunshu, “Teacher, are you alright?”
Ji Yunshu eyed Shi Zijin and shook her head feebly, “I’m alright.” She was barely audible, sweat dripping down her strained neck. The pain on her back where the paddle landed was excruciating. She thought of Aunty Xie who had endured thirteen paddles, how much more pain was she in? If not for her pursuit of revenge, she would long be dead.
Ji Yunshu spoke, “I will bear the remaining paddles on her behalf.”
Not far away.
Jing Yi was seated comfortably in his sedan. He opened the curtains, staring indifferently at what had unfolded before his eyes, a devious smirk naturally appearing. Things were going exactly as he planned.
Dou Quan was waiting outside the sedan, “If Your Highness had not alerted that woman to sound the royal drums, we would never have witnessed such an exciting display.”
“The real show has yet to begin.” In his eyes, this was only the beginning.
“I have a question, Your Highness. That Teacher Ji is known for her stubbornness, what if … she was really beaten to death?”
“Jing Rong would never leave this or her alone; he must already be on his way.”
“This servant would like to congratulate Your Highness’s success in advance.”
Jing Yi smirked devilishly, “Jing Rong, oh Jing Rong. This Prince is waiting for you to come beg me.” It was as if that panorama of his dreams was already painted before his eyes - as long as this plan of his succeeded, that position of power he so longed for would be his to lose. His eyes were full of power, greed for control, as he continued watching from afar.
Shi Zijin was about to help Ji Yunshu off Aunty Xie’s body, when -
“Leave her there!” A forceful voice rang across the hall.
Jing Rong marched across the hall, his long gown swaying behind him. His stone cold expression bore both that of steely rage and iciness, his eagle-sharp eyes so deadly they could kill.
Unlike Jing Rong before him, Lang Po was only sorry, oh, my Teacher Ji!
The overseer was startled and he quickly paid his respects, “This one pays his respects to Prince Rong.”
Jing Rong walked straight past him towards Ji Yunshu, fixing his icy cold glare on her. She did her best to look up, following the finest handmade boots upwards to meet his stare as he asked, “Is this worth it?”
She panted, trembling, “Yes!”
“Fine, then this Prince will fulfill your wish.” He ordered Lang Po, “Take this woman away first.”
“Understood!” Lang Po lifted the already unconscious Aunty Xie and left.
He turned to the guard still clutching his abdomen, “This prince orders you to continue hitting.” The guards were shocked!
Shi Zijin hurried forth, “Your Highness, this has nothing to do with the Teacher.”
“Continue!” This was a direct order, and the guards nervously raised their paddles.
It fell, but it stung less compared to the previous one.
Ji Yunshu bit her lips, her face scrunched up in pain.
“Continue,” Jing Rong ordered again.
Just then, Ji Wanxin scrambled forth, falling to her knees with a clap, “Your Highness, she would die like this. She’s already received one stroke on Aunty Xie’s behalf; any longer and she would definitely die, please, Your Highness.” She cried beautifully and gracefully that red mole at the edge of her eyebrow made her look even more pitiable.
Jing Rong did not even glance in her direction, all of his attention devoted to Ji Yunshu, and the blood stains seeping through her gown. How could he be unmoved, not affected at all? He was in pain as well! However, he clenched his fists and gritted his teeth, ordering, “Strike!”
Smack! Smack! Smack!
A rain of paddles fell; Ji Yunshu received six paddles in total. She collapsed on the ground, blood covering her entire back. Her breaths were shallow - all she could feel in her entire body was numbness, numbness from the pain. Her entire body was trembling, from her lips to her brows, and she said nothing, she could say nothing.
Jing Rong steeled himself again, “This Prince will ask you once more - is it worth it?”
It took quite a while before Ji Yunshu pursed her lips, eking out with the remaining of her strength, “It … is!” Her voice was hoarse, so feeble and weak.
Tears overflowed from Jing Rong’s bloodshot eyes. He bent down, scooping up Ji Yunshu in one smooth movement, holding her tightly in his arms. He conceded; if she were to die, he could not live. He could feel his own hands the blood flowing out of Ji Yunshu’s back, flowing gently into the creases of his palms, cold, and wet, reminding him to be gentle and careful. This woman was light beyond belief.
Ji Yunshu crumpled lifelessly in his hold, the acrid ferrous odour of blood gently washed away by his scent, enveloping her tenderly …
Grenn's Rants Corner
*cries* They are both so stubborn. Each had their own reasons.
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