Chapter 362 - Traps
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Outside Gaoshan Village.
As soon as that old man and his cart disappeared from the bandits’ sights, someone suddenly appeared before him, landing right before his eyes.
“Ahhh!” He screamed, clutching his chest as he almost fainted from the shock.
Shi Zijin stood before that old man expressionlessly in a tightly fitted burgundy suit. Her chilly gaze was almost cold enough to bore a hole right through him.
“Who… Who are you?” That old man was trembling all over as he pushed himself up and away from his cart. Someone could really get scared to their deaths by this in the dead of the night!
Shi Zijin just circled behind him, her gaze landing on the bottom of one of the many baskets after a quick scan.
That old man instinctively fell to his knees and kowtowed, pleading, “Dear heroine, this old man doesn’t have anything valuable on me. All I have are these cheap baskets, but my entire family depends on them for survival. Please, spare me, have mercy on me!” He continued kowtowing, planting his forehead firmly into the muddy ground, leaving conspicuous chunks of dirt on his face.
Shi Zijin gave him a fleeting glance before turning her attention towards that empty basket, lifting it up with the hilt of her blade to revealing the bloodstained cloth as well as Ji Yunshu’s chain that Wei Yi had hid underneath it. She quickly grabbed those items before tucking them into her waistband. Simultaneously, she retrieved a silver tael, throwing it into that old man’s empty basket. She then leapt up into the air and disappeared into the dark of the night.
That old man was stunned again, slowly getting up when he was sure that she had left. He picked up the silver and bit into it, receiving yet another shock as he held onto that real piece of silver with excitement. He fell to his knees again, “Thank you, dear heroine, thank you!” His voice echoed on and on in the hills...
Shanhuai County, Inside the County Governor’s Estate.
The house was a hive of activity; someone would enter carrying clean water, and another would leave with blood stained gauze and water, this cycle repeating several times. Inside, Mo Ruo had just finished dressing Jing Rong’s wounds, changing him into a set of clean clothes while he rested against the bedposts.
In the half-day journey from that forest to Shanhuai County, Jing Rong’s condition had quickly deteriorated; if not for Mo Ruo’s amazing skills, Jing Rong’s life would have already been lost. Jing Rong was ghastly pale, his eyelids drooping - even though he survived this attack, it would be much longer before he could return to his former self. He licked his dry, cracked lips, gazing at Mo Ruo with difficulty, “How is it?”
Mo Ruo wiped his hands as he walked towards the table in the centre of the room, “You’d better worry about yourself first. If I wasn’t here, you’d be a dead man by now.”
“Is there any news?”
“Rest first,” Mo Ruo avoided answering his question directly.
Without any information about Ji Yunshu’s whereabouts, Jing Rong naturally became agitated. He held onto his chest, only remaining in the bed thanks to Mo Ruo’s quick action, pushing him back onto his back as he reprimanded, “You fool, when will you grow up? Only thinking about your Teacher Ji, I bet you wouldn’t notice even if you died!”
Jing Rong panted, “I’m only concerned about Yunshu’s safety now. If anything untoward were to happen to her, that’s when I would really die.”
“A woman’s more important than your own life?”
“Yes!” Jing Rong was affirmative.
Mo Ruo sighed; he had no other means but to tell him the truth, “Lang Po has already been to Gaoshan Village and sent a messenger back, but that little mountainous village is as securely guarded as a military camp. Even Shi Zijin couldn’t enter it - it looks like those men we killed on the official path were just small fry.”
“Couldn’t enter? Why not?” It was just a small mountainous village, so why did it resemble a military camp?
Mo Ruo continued, “The original owner of Gaoshan Village was just a wine brewer - who knows where he managed to learn some mechanism-making skills. He surrounded the entire village perimeter with hidden traps and mechanisms; if someone unfamiliar with these traps barged in, only death awaits.”
Traps? Who could have predicted that a little village would have such tight security? Jing Rong grew even more worried, his white face falling instantly.
Mo Ruo lightly patted his shoulder, “Don’t worry. Those people are obviously trying to lure you into launching a rescue mission. Otherwise, they would have already killed Teacher Ji in the forest instead of kidnapping her and that idiot.”
He was right, but Jing Rong asked, “Don’t you think it’s strange?”
Mo Ruo was astute; he had similar doubts. He sat back down at that table, arranging his medicinal herbs as he said, “You’re trying to say that you were the one who ordered their deaths, but Teacher Ji and Wei Yi were kidnapped instead.. What’s more, those men were quick to retreat even though they attacked us in the forest. From this, we can tell that they weren’t after our lives, but had a different agenda.”
Jing Rong took over, “Those men captured her and let us off on purpose in the forest.They wanted to use Yunshu’s life to blackmail me, but there aren’t many in this world who know that she’s my weakest link.”
“Then who could it be? There shouldn’t have been anyone who met with those men prior to this, so who could that messenger be?”
Jing Rong had his suspicions, but did not voice them outwardly. He questioned after a long pause, “Where’s the Shanhuai County Governor?”
Mo Ruo sighed loudly, pointing towards the door, “He’s kneeling outside. Ever since you were brought into the Shanhuai County Governor’s Estate, that fool has been kneeling outside. To have such a thing happen within his jurisdiction, wouldn’t he be scared out of his wits? But he deserves it; as an official, he remained in the comfort of his own home in spite of the bandits ravaging his county, all the while receiving his salary from the government - what a useless waste of space! He is not worthy of his official post!” Mo Ruo was furious!
Jing Rong waved his hand feebly, “Let him in.”
“Why? Do you want to relieve him of his black official hat?” Mo Ruo shut his mouth at Jing Rong’s icy stare, hurrying off to ‘invite’ that official inside.
Zhang Huanping was huddled over as he trudged in listlessly. He wanted no more than for a hole to open up and swallow him into the ground; anything to get away from this hellhole. He lifted his official robes and fell to his knees by Jing Rong’s bedside, his arms raised high above his head as he bowed down, laying flat on the ground in an exaggerated prayer pose, “This official is useless. To have something like this happen in this official’s county is unforgivable. This official pleads for Prince Rong’s mercy!” He was almost crying. All officials seemed to be cut from the same mould - they bully the weak and fear the strong, wanting to keep their heads in fear of death!
It was as if Jing Rong was wearing a mask; his gaze cut as deep as any sword into Zhang Huanping’s crouching figure as he interrogated, “This Prince only has one question for you: what do you plan to do about Gaoshan Gang?”
“This official will immediately send my men to ambush the village and have them release Teacher Ji.”
“Are you even capable of this?”
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