Chapter 433 - Guess
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Jing Rong fingered the jade’s surface. “Were you talking about this jade pendant with Zhao Huai in that pavilion?”
“Not entirely. He wasn’t completely clear and would not stop rambling; I didn’t fully understand what he said. In any case, it was connected to this jade pendant. More accurately, it was to do with the Wei Family.”
“The Wei Family?”
Ji Yunshu nodded.
Jing Rong took a closer look at the jade in his hand. A life-like tiger’s head was carved into one side, with a crescent to its left. On the flip side lay a ‘Xu’ character. The more he thought about it, the stranger it got. But what exactly was strange about it?
Ji Yunshu must have noticed his expression, questioning, “So? Is there something strange about the jade?”
“There is indeed.”
Jing Rong frowned, “In Great Lin, there are not many who would carve a tiger’s head into jade. Most of those who would are related to the Imperial Family in some way, but that Old Master Wei isn’t even acquainted with a distant relative of the Imperial Family. And this crescent shape - I think I’ve seen it before.”
“Where have you seen it?”
He shook his head. “I don’t quite remember. It feels familiar, like I know it, but I can’t seem to recall where. Perhaps…I remembered wrongly.” He spoke with uncertainty; it felt familiar, but he couldn’t place it!
He rubbed the carving with his long fingers for a while more, muttering under his breath, “As for this ‘Xu’ character…” He trailed off.
Ji Yunshu looked at him intently, waiting for some useful information.
Jing Rong shook his head again, returning the jade to her. “I think you should ask Wei Yi - maybe he knows something. That fellow might be unable to learn new things, but he seems to clearly remember what his parents told him. Perhaps his father might have mentioned something in passing and he remembered it.” As he finished, he glanced at the sweaty Wei Yi. That rascal was working extremely hard at warming Mo Ruo’s wine; every bit the professional!
Ji Yunshu tucked the jade pendant safely back inside her sleeve. “Forget it, maybe next time.”
Jing Rong did not respond.
Suddenly, the rattling and creaking of carriages and neighing drew close. Pitter-patter, pitter-patter, it was hurried and rushed, piercing through the air as the carriages and horses traversed across the rocky ground!
They turned to see a merchant party travelling along the official path. There were roughly six or seven carriages loaded with trunks of varying sizes, and the backs of another three or four carriages were covered with a heavy cloth, secured with thick ropes, obscuring their contents from view. There were three more carriages rounding out the travelling party; two of them were quite ordinary, but the last one looked slightly more luxurious and was painted a brighter colour. It looked like someone rich was moving house!
However, the party was comprised of middle-aged men, all wearing coarse linen. They were either big, burly, unshaven men or those driving carriages with reins in hand - none of them looked like they belonged to a well-off family! They must have been travelling for quite a while as they stopped at this grassy patch for a rest. The man at the head of the group shouted, “We’ll rest here. There’s a creek - have some water, wash your face, whatever. We’ll leave after that.”
Those men got off their carriages and headed towards the creek. It was fortunate that they were polite; they did not head towards Jing Rong’s or Zhao Huai’s party but headed further downstream.
Those sitting in the last two carriages also got off; there were a few elderly women amongst the younger men and women, all of them dressed in clean, albeit average-quality, garments. As soon as they got off, they began to chatter happily, pushing and shoving each other around as they made a ruckus. Beneath the setting sun, beside the flowing water - it was quite a poetic sight to behold.
“Stop fooling around. We still have some ways to go. If we can’t get there by tomorrow, you’ll have to bear the responsibility.” An elder aged around sixty spoke, a horse whip in his hand.
Weird, that man was so old he looked like he would keel over after walking ten meters. He was not a coachman, so what purpose did that horse whip serve? Those young men and women settled down in an instant.
One of the young women pouted and replied obediently, “Understood, but we’ve been on the road for so many days, can’t we relax a little bit?”
“That’s all you think about - we have things to accomplish.”
“I know, I know.”
That young woman did not stop there. She complained as she pointed towards that brightly-painted carriage, “You’re being biased. You never scolded Sister Zhan Mo when she was making a scene; you only ever tell us off.”
That old leader choked, then continued sternly, “Zhan Mo’s not like the rest of you. How would we feed you without her? We still need to count on her to survive.”
No wonder she sat alone in an individual carriage, but the rest of you squeezed into two. He was right, however. The crowd was silent - they could not deny this fact. Very quickly, they broke off into groups of twos or threes, moving to wash their hands and faces in the creek. Some of them even splashed playfully at those around them. With nothing else he could do, the leader threw down his whip and settled down onto the grass nearby. He likewise took a bite and had some water.
A lady descended from that brightly-painted carriage. She wore her hair high up, fluffy and majestic, with a jewelled hairpin decorating her hairpiece. She was dressed in a long, flowing, emerald dress with a cloak draped over her shoulders, and her shoes were white and soft, as if she were walking on clouds. Although she did not wear any jewelry, she was extremely pleasant to look at. Even the faint traces of blush on her cheeks could not hide her pale complexion. She held a dainty, ornate hand-warmer in her hands; the smoke coming forth made her look even more ethereal.
Those playful women and men stopped what they were doing abruptly, as if their very souls feared that young lady. They returned to the bank and sat down quietly while they rested. That young lady was helped towards the grassy patch by a little servant girl. She sat down next to a boulder, similarly having a sip of water and some cakes.
There were now three parties, each one ignoring the other two. Jing Rong was curious, however. He posed Ji Yunshu a question as he turned his gaze away from the party that just arrived, “What do you think those people do for a living?”
Ji Yunshu was surprised at his question, “Do you want me to guess?”
“Let’s see how accurate you are.”
She chuckled, “Sure, since there’s nothing else to do here.”
She observed the neighboring party for a moment, followed by their carriages, then spoke, “The wheels on those carriages have already been polished smooth; there’s mud and fine sand on them. They must not just be moving counties; rather, they must be a group that is always on the move. There is paint peeling off those locked trunks, and that lock looks quite worn-out. Theoretically, such old items would be rusty, but their possessions are clean, shiny - that lock must be used very often, just like the items those trunks protect. Hence, those trunks must contain… what they use to earn a living.” Her gaze was steady, her tone confident.
Jing Rong took a look as she spoke. Ah, she was quite right.
ChouFleur Rants Corner
Ooh... new characters! What mystery will they bring with them?
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