Chapter 418 - This Prince's Doors Would Be Open For You
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At Fang Mingsan’s command, brushes, ink, and paper were brought to Ji Yunshu. It took her no more than ten minutes to finish her sketch, but she eyed it, then Li Yuan, unsatisfactorily, before adding a couple more brushstrokes to her completed montage. The finished visage was extremely lifelike, as if Li Yuan had been replicated on paper!
Many had heard of Teacher Ji’s great drawing skills; they had all thought that these rumours were simply an exaggeration, but after witnessing him sketch a lifelike figure, they were proved very wrong! He indeed lived up to his name - it was their fortune to be able to witness this scene for themselves. People gathered around Ji Yunshu in no time, some of them even remarking,
“Good lord, that looks exactly like him!”
“Yes, yes, it’s a spitting image of him!”
“If Teacher Ji could draw my portrait, I’d ask for no more in this lifetime.”
Ji Yunshu was speechless; sure, once you die and turn into ash, I’ll draw your portrait and guarantee an especially good picture - even your parents would be able to tell it was you from a mile away.
Fang Mingsan joined in heaping praises. “Teacher Ji, I’ve only heard the rumours, but seeing it for myself today, I must say that you’ve opened my eyes to a whole new world. You not only are skilled at cracking cases, but also painting - this official can only dream of such talent.” If she were not already surrounded by others, he would already have offered his sincerest bow in gratitude!
Constable Zhang wanted to chip in as well, but he kept his mouth shut after remembering what happened the last time he talked. Forget it, I better just watch quietly!
Wen Lingyang similarly looked at that completed painting with eyes full of admiration - each brushstroke was even, smooth and strong, much better than his own calligraphy! He was different from Fang Mingsan, however; his interests lay elsewhere. “Where did Teacher Ji learn your craft?”
“It’s nothing much.” Hold up, haven’t we seriously digressed from the matter at hand? Weren’t we discussing the case? Ji Yunshu quickly put away her brushes and shooed the crowd away. She picked up the painting from the desk and shook it a few times, handing it to Fang Mingsan once she was certain the ink had dried. “I’ll need to trouble Lord Fang.”
“It’s no trouble. This official should be the one thanking Teacher Ji for your help.”
Fang Mingsan passed the painting to Constable Zhang, ordering him, “Find several painters to make more copies of this portrait, then send men to ask the night watchman on duty that night, as well as the nearby beggars.”
“Understood!” Constable Zhang scurried off to fulfil his duties, whilst Li Mingzhou and Yu’in helped the much calmer Li Yuan off the ground.
Ji Yunshu then addressed Fang Mingsan, “Lord Fang, looking at Li Yuan, I don’t think he’s in a much better condition than before. Although we are still lacking evidence supporting what Miss Yu’in said, if we lock up Li Yuan in prison, his condition would only deteriorate further in the prison’s humid environment. I think we should let him return to the Li Estate and have a physician properly assess him while we wait for news. We can also wait for his condition to improve in the meantime, in which case we would also be able to proceed with questioning him.”
Fang Mingsan concurred and nodded. He was still worried that Li Mingzhou would escape Yuzhou City with Li Yuan, so he commanded, “Li Mingzhou, don’t think about bringing Li Yuan away. This official will order my men to stand guard outside your Li Estate. If Li Yuan really is the murderer, they will bring him back to the yamen at my command, but if he is proven innocent, this official would also not wrong him.”
At this point, Li Mingzhou was in no position to argue any further; he left the yamen. As Yu’in was leaving, she gave Ji Yunshu a slight bow. “Many thanks.”
Ji Yunshu replied calmly, “It’s not too late to thank me when we prove his innocence.” Yu’in nodded!
Once the crowd had finally dispersed, Ji Yunshu pulled Jing Rong to a deserted, isolated corner in the back courtyard.
Sigh, what will come must come! This Prince doesn’t want to kneel on a washing-board! [1. This is a typical Chinese household punishment.]
Ji Yunshu questioned him, “Since you already knew that both the Li Estate and Chang Estate did not use such ink, then why didn’t you tell me?”
Jing Rong shrugged, putting on his most innocent front, “I was going to, but I didn’t make it in time.”
“Why? When have you stopped believing this Prince’s words?”
“I…” She stammered.
Jing Rong raised his eyebrows, turning her words back on her this time, “Ji Yunshu, this Prince is doing you a favour and helping you with this investigation. It’s fine if you don’t thank me, but how could you malign me?”
“When have I?” she rebutted.
At her denial, Jing Rong’s princely manner began to surface. He placed his hands behind his back and titled his chin arrogantly, “If you beg this Prince, this Prince will give you a piece of good news.”
“What good news?” Ji Yunshu was puzzled!
“Beg this Prince.”
“Jing Rong -” She gritted unwillingly through her teeth.
Jing Rong smirked, “Forget it if you don’t want to beg. But the weather these days has made a turn for the worse, this Prince has felt my feet getting cold at night while I sleep. My bed’s always empty and something doesn’t feel quite right, if…”
Before he could finish, Ji Yunshu slapped his arm and turned away. “Dream on!” I have my own boundaries, okay!
Jing Rong’s smirk grew into a full-blown smile. He recently discovered that teasing this woman was an extremely enjoyable, happy affair. He circled around to stand before her, as he bent forwards slightly to meet her at eye-level. “Are you angry, my little fairy?”
“It’s only a matter of time before we share a bed, so why let me spend my nights alone?”
“If you agree, this Prince will leave the lights on and the door open for you. Just sneak in - I’ll have Lang Po standing guard outside in the yard - no-one will notice.”
“Don’t you want to know what good news this Prince has for you?”
Ji Yunshu gazed upwards at the chiselled face no more than a fingertip away. She could feel his breath on her cheeks and he could feel hers on his - it felt warm, comfortable and ticklish. Their breaths were even, audible, but she could feel her heartbeat thumping louder. Ji Yunshu quickly backed away, but Jing Rong hooked his arm around her slender waist, pulling her up against his chest, closing the distance between them.
She looked up at him flusteredly as he looked down gently at her. Sparks flew in that instant! Ji Yunshu began to blush uncontrollably. She put her arm up between them, but Jing Rong was much stronger and she could not struggle out of his grip. He was a head taller than her and she was about half his size - they had the cutest gap when they hugged!
Ji Yunshu avoided his burning gaze, instead sweeping her surroundings vigilantly. She pressed down harder with her arm as she tried to struggle free. “Stop fooling around. We’re still on a case.”
Jing Rong tilted her chin upwards, forcing her to meet his eyes. He suddenly turned serious, “You’re neither a court official nor the Yufu County Magistrate, what cases do you have to solve?”
Others may think that this was just a passing remark, but to Ji Yunshu, Jing Rong seemed to be blaming her. “Are you blaming me for being a busybody?”
“Perhaps. But every time you do this, this Prince can’t leave you alone. Who told you to barge your way into this Prince’s heart? This Prince can only follow you wherever you go - this is my fate that I cannot escape in this lifetime, but it’s not one I want to escape.”
He spoke seriously; his gentle gaze was like a black hole that pulled Ji Yunshu in until she could no longer look away, nor wish to push him away anymore...
ChouFleur Rants Corner
*blushes* Oh you Jing Rong! Bushiis assemble!
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