Chapter 402 - Horses Can Stumble, So Can Men
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She almost forgot that Zhao Huai and his company had been following them for their whole journey from Shanhuai County to Yu Province City. But… “They were also heading to Yufu, right? They should’ve already left Yuzhou City by now.” She was suspicious.
Jing Rong seemed helpless and said, “Zhao Huai’s subordinates stand guard outside the county yamen every day, staring right at the front door. This Prince thought about catching one of them and asking what they want, but seeing that they did not have any bad intention, I just let it go.”
“If that’s the case, they aren’t heading to Yufu. They’re obviously following us.”
“It doesn’t matter. Let’s not get into it for now. What’s more important now is the origin of the tattoo. In any case, Zhao Huai is someone from the gang, so he might know something about the tattoo. The Prince will send people to invite him to the yamen, then we can ask him.”
Ji Yunshu nodded, “Send someone to bring this tattoo sketch to him.”
The group of them walked from the graveyard to yamen. Jing Rong sent Lang Po to personally carry out this task. Not far away from yamen, there were two shadows behind the corner of the wall, diligently surveilling the people going in and out of the building without taking relaxing for a single moment. As Lang Po walked out of the yamen, he caught the two pairs of eyes staring right at him. He sneered and headed in their direction. The two saw him approaching and quickly ran off. Alas, Lang Po was still a step ahead and blocked them in the dead end of an alley. The two guys quivered and asked, “What do you want?”
“What do I want?” Lang Po laughed, “The two of you have been staring at the yamen for so long; I should be the one to ask that.”
“I’ve already caught you red-handed and you still try to deny it. Do you want me to invite you into the yamen to have a seat? We can brew some tea and have a good conversation.”
Caught in an awkward situation, the two guys gulped but continued to deny the accusation. “We were just passing by.”
“Was it your first master who sent you here?”
The two liars knew that they were no match for Lang Po. They lowered their voices and spoke amiably to avoid being beaten up by him. Lang Po stared at them coldly, his narrowed eyes seemed to be saying ‘I knew it’ before he quit asking. Then, he stuffed a piece of paper into their hands.
“Go and ask your first master whether he recognizes this tattoo. If he knows anything, please invite him to come to the yamen as soon as possible. Remember, this is very important. If there’s any delay, I’ll bring both of you to the yamen and let you have a taste of the top ten most cruel punishments of the Great Lin.” He dropped a warning before he left. Two of them looked puzzled. Afraid of delaying the task and getting punished, the pair immediately departed to inform Zhao Huai.
At the backyard of the yamen, Ji Yunshu washed her hands and sat at the stone stable, turning over the case details in her head.
Tattoo? Bracelet? Human skin mask? Ill-fittng shoes? The deceased was hung? And that stained shirt? Are all of these related to one another? How could they be linked together? The clues swam in a jumbled mess in her head.
All of sudden… “Teacher Ji, what are you thinking about?” It was Wen Lingyang’s voice.
When she roused from her deep reverie, he had already taken a seat opposite her. “Is Advisor Wen looking for this humble one?”
“No, I’m just passing by. I saw that Teacher was thinking about something, and thought that I should come in and see if there was anything that I could help with.” His tone sounded so humble yet attractive! His eyes and brows resembled Ji Pei a little. If one was to look at his face in detail, one would be captivated by his eyes.
Ji Yunshu smiled faintly and replied, “It was actually about the case. I tried to put the pieces of evidence together, but only became more confused.”
“Teacher is a smart person. You’ll definitely solve the case.”
“Horses can stumble, so can humans!” Ji Yunshu replied humbly.
Wen Lingyang nodded and smiled, then he sized Ji Yunshu up in detail. The fair, clean-shaven face had delicate features that seemed like they were engraved by a skilled woodcarver. Under the thick, fan-like lashes, waere her deep, clear eyes that held a hint of sorrow and solemnity. The aura around Ji Yunshu had less of the tough masculinity of a man, and more of the tenderness of a lady. If weren’t a man, he would definitely be a beauty.
Ji Yunshu felt uncomfortable being stared at, and asked, “Is there anything dirty on this humble one’s face?” As she gently wiped her face with her sleeve.
“No. I am only thinking about how sophisticated Teacher is. It’s enviable that you’re able to carry out an autopsy, draw, and even solve mysterious cases. If only this humble one had half of Teacher’s ability.”
“Advisor Wen has overpraised me. This humble one is just embarrassing myself in front of an expert. I don’t have much knowledge to show off. On the other hand, Advisor Wen has read widely, knowledgeable and has the skills of a master. Even your calligraphy is flowing, profound and full of character. You could’ve enrolled into the entrance examination which would have promised a better future. But according to Constable Zhang, Advisor Wen isn’t someone who desires fame and fortune, and would rather stay in Yuzhou City for a carefree life, rather than get involved in the trecherous royal court. How can this humble one compete with Advisor Wen who has such great state of mind?”
“You take me too highly! I’m just another average person.”
The two were exchanging praise, full of sincerity.
Wen Lingyang asked, “Teacher is from Jinjiang?”
“Jinjiang is in Beiliang. The weather there is chilly, but it resembles Jiangnan. It’s a nice place.” He continued, “Jinjiang is a good place; why did Teacher leave for the Capital?”
“It’s just fate.”
Wen Lingyang smiled. “Teacher is accompanying Prince Rong to Yufu to solve the case of the missing donation money. The Capital is known for being as treacherous as a dragon’s cave or a tiger’s den. But with Prince Rong as a benefactor and patron, you have nothing to worry about. Seeing that Prince Rong is even bringing Teacher along to Yufu, one can tell that His Highness trusts Teacher a lot.”
If one put this in contemporary terms, wasn’t he saying that Ji Yunshu had a sugar daddy? Hey! I’m not a sugar baby! Even if that’s the fact, you don’t have to be this straightforward, right?
Ji Yunshu was secretly displeased by the things he said, but her tone remained friendly, “I’m afraid Advisor Wen is mistaken. The humble one is going to Yufu with the Prince, but we each have separate matters to handle.”
Wen Lingyang’s expression dawned with realisation, and he nodded. “I wonder what’s occupying Teacher at Yufu?”
“Just a trivial issue. There’s a long story behind it.” She did not want to share the story.
Fortunately, Wen Lingyang was tactful enough to not dwell on the topic.. The previously smooth exchange ended abruptly and awkwardness grew between the two of them.
Just as Wen Lingyang was about to leave, they heard a commotion coming from the outside. From the sound of it, Ji Yunshu could deduce that it was Wei Yi.
Ji Yunshu quickly stood up and ran out of the courtyard. Wei Yi was squatting on the floor and covering his head with both his hands. He was muttering non-stop, “I didn’t do it on purpose…”
Standing in front of Wei Yi was a girl of merely sixteen or seventeen, dressed in green. She seemed to be a delicate girl from a humble family, but at that moment, she had her arms akimbo and a fierce, almost savage expression; she had completely lost the composure of a refined lady. From her raised brows, one could tell that she was a unruly and willful person who appeared very similar to Jing Xuan at her most willful. The girl pointed at Wei Yi, who was still squatting on the ground, raised her voice and said, “It’s all because of you. The snowflake congee that I laboured over the whole day, is now ruined! You must compensate me for it!” She stomped her feet.
“I didn’t do it on purpose.”
“I have to just let it go because you didn’t do it on purpose? Do you know how much this bowl of snowflake congee cost?” The girl teared up as she was angry yet sad to see her snowflake congee spilled all over the floor.
Of course, it’s for the money!
ChouFleur Rants Corner
Hmm do you smell something fishy about Wen Lingyang?
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