Chapter 435 - Sanniang
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“Are you suggesting that it’s a mistake for that young lady to consume Fu Ginseng?” Jing Rong asked.
Mo Ruo nodded, then shook his head. “Most likely.”
“Then why didn’t you tell her earlier? You had plenty of opportunity when you were staring at her.”
“I’m a famous godly physician - I don’t just treat anybody.”
“Godly physician? You should count your lucky stars that you’re not treated as a fraudster; if I didn’t know better, I would think you had some kind of ulterior motive.”
“Even if I did, that young lady most likely doesn’t.”
“Fine, fine, you’re drunk. You’ve filled yourself up with so much lousy wine that you don’t even know if you’re sober or not; if you continue like this, you might end up with your head off your shoulders one day.” Jing Rong never minced his words.
Mo Ruo scoffed coldly, “I’m not drunk.”
Hmph, that’s what every alcoholic says! Jing Rong retorted, “If you were neither drunk nor did you want to warn that young lady, then why were you ogling her? Your eyes were almost glued to her!”
“I was just curious. You know, although I identified those signs, I don’t actually know what illness she suffers from. I just wanted to have a read of her pulse, to get rid of this niggling doubt.”
Just curious? Jing Rong found this whole situation laughable, including Mo Ruo’s ‘lovestruck’ antics. He kicked at those empty wine jars in the carriage. “I’m guessing those people are also heading towards Anfu - if the stars align and you meet her again, you can read her pulse then.”
“Forget it, if that young lady thinks of me as a lecher, then what am I to do?” Mo Ruo stretched lazily and waved Jing Rong away, lying down in the comfortable carriage. “I’m better off being a carefree bum; it beats meddling around in troublesome affairs.” He closed his eyes and drifted off!
Although Jing Rong grew up together with Mo Ruo, Mo Ruo understood him, but the same could hardly be said of him towards Mo Ruo. Mo Ruo hid his thoughts too well and it was hard to predict what exactly he liked or disliked; this was a mystery to Jing Rong even till this day - perhaps Mo Ruo liked nothing and everything at once. He was a strange one!
Night fell as time passed. Torches illuminated the governmental highway, swaying from the high branches where they hung. The flickering light and shadows cast on the ground, horses, men and carriages were made all the more eerie by the howling cold winds… The path itself became more and more uneven. Ji Yunshu was woken from her uneasy slumber as the carriages rumbled over the rocky surface, unlike Wei Yi who was in a deep sleep as he lay on her thighs, even rubbing his nose from time to time.
Ji Yunshu’s thighs were feeling a little sore from Wei Yi’s weight, but she could only gently and very slowly massage the sides of her thighs, in case she woke Wei Yi up from his rest. She ruffled his hair tenderly, a loving smile on her face. However, she smile froze as her gaze darkened the next moment. She whispered, “Wei Yi, when we get to Jinjiang, should I keep you by my side, or should I… leave you behind?” This was something that had been weighing on her mind ever since they left the Capital.
She slowly stopped ruffling his hair and opened the window for some fresh air. Outside, she could barely see five meters into the pitch-black forest as the swaying torches lit up her delicate features. The cold winds blew directly into her face, interjected with bouts of warmth from the torches. She couldn’t help but shudder at the mix of hot and cold.
Lang Po noticed her peeping out as he rode forth. “Are you tired, Teacher Ji?”
She nodded. “A little.”
“There’s an inn not far from here. Hold on for a while longer - we’ll be able to rest properly there.”
Lang Po had caught the chatterbug today; he saw that Ji Yunshu was still quite awake and so decided to strike up a conversation, since there was still some distance between them and the inn he mentioned. “That’s right, Teacher Ji. According to our schedule, we’ll arrive at Jinjiang in about five or six days - did you have any plans?”
“Were you thinking of something?”
“Isn’t Jinjiang Teacher Ji’s hometown? So…” He stopped abruptly, as if he wanted to continue, but thought better of it.
Ji Yunshu knew what he was so hesitant to voice. She looked straight ahead. “Brother Lang, are you worried I’ll get into an argument with someone from the Ji Family?”
Lang Po regretted what he started. “Teacher Ji, I’m not a learned man - please don’t take me too seriously. I was just asking out of concern; if you don’t want to talk about it, it’s alright.” He had a deep, honest voice.
Ji Yunshu took his word for it, this time looking over her shoulder, asking, “Is Zhao Huai still following us?”
“Yes, he is, not one step quicker or slower - it’s as if he measured out that gap with a ruler. Strange, strange.” He quickly added, “But don’t you worry Teacher Ji. His Highness has already ordered me to watch him closely - nothing bad will happen to you again.” He spoke clearly!
She nodded. Her next question was, “What about the other group by the creek from this afternoon?”
“Those people? They should be behind us as well. I think they’re heading to Anfu too, seeing that they’re also taking this governmental highway. But why is Teacher asking about them?”
“Nothing much, I was just curious.”
Ugh! Lang Po was left hanging awkwardly. Ji Yunshu snuggled back in, rolling down the curtains. Lang Po could not figure out where things started turning sour. He scratched his head. If he had known earlier, he wouldn’t have asked!
About an hour later, they arrived at an inn in the mountains. Ji Yunshu shook Wei Yi awake gently and led him down the carriage. They had not even stepped in when cheers and shouting erupted from within, startling the birds in the forest as they scattered away.
The culprit - a drinking competition! To put it simply, it was tradition at mountainous inns, where people would compete to see who was the best drinker. A sizeable crowd huddled around a chair, all of them red from yelling at the top of their voices. In the centre stood a heavily bearded, tough man, downing bowl after bowl of wine; his eyes were bloodshot, and he could barely hold himself up. Across him was a woman! She had her long hair worn at the top of her head, with a chopstick sticking through. One of her sleeves was missing, revealing her fair right arm and collarbone. A thick, red band was wrapped around her waist, several pendants made of bone hanging from it, accompanied by an ivory fan next to her hand. Her left foot was propped up on a stool, her elbow leaning against her knee. She was gulping down twenty to thirty bowls of wine just like the large man before her, but she was nowhere near drunk!
Her competitor, however, was much less put together and he fell to the ground with a large crash! He lay there like a chunk of meat, still chanting incessantly. “I want to drink, more, more, I’m going to win, it’s my win…” The crowd cheered and roared!
This was what greeted Jing Rong and Ji Yunshu as they entered. A sharp-eyed waiter called out, “Sanniang, there are guests!”
That woman finished her last bowl of wine, throwing it onto that lifeless competitor of hers. She approached Jing Rong and Ji Yunshu while fanning herself, putting on her most charming act!
Sanniang eyed the group; with her experience, she could easily tell whether they were rich or poor. She scooched over, speaking in a flirtatious voice, “Are these young masters here to stay the night? Or just having a meal?” Her eyes were highlighted with red tints; it was not overly garish, but complemented her natural charisma of a woman of the jianghu.
Jing Rong ignored her, so Lang Po spoke instead. “Prepare some rooms and send some dishes upstairs.”
ChouFleur Rants Corner
Hmm... what a...colourful character. And all of them in one small inn? Don't you smell trouble brewing?
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