Chapter 451 - Teasing The Cat
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don't read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
Liu Zhiliang could feel himself turning red at her comment. He could only nod fervently, “Understood. I’ll have someone dust it later, and have them purchase some fine tea leaves tomorrow.”
Ji Yunshu gave him a small smile, pointing towards the pear wood chair before her with her chin, “Lord Liu, how about taking a seat? Your legs will suffer if you remain standing the entire night.”
This - Liu Zhiliang was taken aback, “Teacher Ji, are we to…” He pointed to the floor, “Sit here all night?”
“Lord Liu is as smart as I’ve heard. That’s right, we’re going to be sitting here all night. Don’t you want to witness the conclusion of the Zhang Estate murder case? Then how do you feel about starting the trial when dawn breaks?” She remarked playfully.
“Since Teacher Ji is so confident, this official would naturally remain here in anticipation of tomorrow.”
“Then have a seat, Lord Liu.”
Liu Zhiliang did not dare to sit, instead glancing towards Jing Rong and waiting for his nod of approval. But Jing Rong’s attention was elsewhere, eyes focused on the teacup lid in his hands. He placed it onto his teacup, then lifted it again, producing a bright, clinking sound each time he repeated this action. The high-pitched sound echoed through the quiet court, making their surroundings seem even more eerie in this long night. Not receiving the answer he was waiting for, Liu Zhiliang eventually just lifted his official robes and sat down on the chair Ji Yunshu had pointed at.
The court was so silent you could hear a pin drop! After about half an hour, Jing Rong suddenly ordered for a weiqi board to be brought in. He then pulled Liu Zhiliang to sit opposite him for a game. Liu Zhiliang had no other choice, but should he win or not? This question bothered him throughout his matches and he eventually chose to lose all of them, forehead dripping with sweat in the process!
The later into the night they played, the more awake the two of them became. Similarly, the yamen runners accompanying them were riveted as they watched the pair exchange move after move. True gentlemen would not have commented on another person’s game. These yamen runners however, were not gentlemen. They made snark comments dissing their own superior as they watched him go on a losing streak.
Since Ji Yunshu did not know how to play the game, she stood to one side in complete confusion, sometimes asking Jing Rong, “Why this move?”
Jing Rong replied patiently, “Because it has to be made.”
“Then, why this move?”
“It’s the only move.”
“What about this one?”
“It must be made.”
Jing Rong handed her the white piece in his hand, “Here, sit down.” Here, here, here! Have a go! Play! It’s all in your hands!
Ji Yunshu’s head was tilted to one side quizzically, but ended up taking that white piece anyway. After staring at the weiqi board for a long while, she finally made a move, placing the white piece onto one of the outermost squares. It filled up the missing link to make a full circle of other white pieces that surrounded several black pieces.
“So? Did I win?” She was jubilant.
Jing Rong only smiled and gestured towards Liu Zhiliang. Your move!
Liu Zhiliang picked up one of his black pieces, pondering for a moment before placing his piece down, as if inspiration struck.
“It’s Lord Liu’s win.” Jing Rong spoke matter-of-factly.
He had finally won a game, but Liu Zhiliang had never felt more nervous in his life. He smiled awkwardly. “It’s all thanks to Teacher Ji.”
“Lord Liu’s weiqi skills are quite impressive.”
“Teacher Ji is being too kind. His Highness has won so many games, and I’ve only won but one.”
“Oh, then is Lord Liu suggesting that if this one didn’t meddle in the game, it would be His Highness who would have won this round?”
“There’s no doubt!” He was also an impressive bootlicker!
Ji Yunshu chuckled. Jing Rong said as he retrieved his weiqi pieces, “Lord Liu, since Teacher Ji has offered up such praise, you should accept them with thanks, why be so humble?”
“Then, shall we play a few more games?”
“Sure, sure, sure.” Liu Zhiliang likewise retrieved his own black pieces before they engaged in several more matches. Ji Yunshu had enough of the games and she strolled outside, looking up at the bright, full moon lighting up the dark, night sky...
They did not know how much time had passed before morning had arrived. The group of men were still observing the game between Jing Rong and Liu Zhiliang, but their red, bloodshot eyes betrayed their lack of sleep. They finally let out a sigh when Jing Rong placed his final, victorious move.
“Your Highness is really amazing.”
“Fine, Lord Liu. It’s already morning, let’s begin working.”
“This official will act as Your Highness wishes.”
They stood up simultaneously, smoothing out their crumpled robes. Liu Zhiliang next asked, “Your Highness, what are your orders?”
“This Prince doesn’t know - go ask Teacher Ji.” Jing Rong was quick to push all responsibility away.
“Understood.” Liu Zhiliang headed outside to where Ji Yunshu was standing, softly enquiring, “Teacher Ji, it’s already daybreak. What shall we do about the Zhang Estate murder case?”
Ji Yunshu stretched, covering her mouth as she yawned. She pretended to contemplate deeply. “How about… inviting First Madam Zhang over?”
“The First Madam? Is this case related to her?”
“Not sure, we’ll know when she’s here.” She shrugged before adding, “Oh, have that Third Madam and that young master come along as well.”
Liu Zhiliang ordered one of his men to head to Zhang Estate to promptly bring the two parties back. First Madam looked exactly like she did yesterday - cold, unforgiving, almost begrudging. She was still holding that white cat, now sound asleep, in her arms.
Behind her was Third Madam, who hung her head so low it was almost buried in her chest. She was limping, and her son, Zhang Yimo, helped her into the court. On closer inspection, both of them were wounded, bruises apparent all over their hands and faces. They must have been punished for allowing Old Master Zhang’s body to be cut open yesterday!
Liu Zhiliang took his place at his bench, while Jing Rong sat in a corner of the court. He had a teacup in one hand, and some melon seeds in his other, chewing as he watched the scene unfold. Ji Yunshu was standing in the middle of the court, watching them enter.
First Madam questioned coldly, “Lord Liu, why did you ask us to come here this early in the morning?”
Liu Zhiliang spoke, “It’s about Old Master Zhang’s case.”
“What do you mean? You already searched our estate yesterday and found nothing, so why bring this up again?”
Ji Yunshu took over, “Please calm down, First Madam. Didn’t this one promise you yesterday that I’ll draw the killer out? Since it’s morning, this murderer must also be brought to justice here in court.”
“What do you mean?”
Ji Yunshu smiled, reaching out to caress that sleeping cat in First Madam’s arms, before pinching it hard, startling it awake! The feline shook its fur, staring at Ji Yunshu with its gleaming, round eyes. Ji Yunshu lightly prodded its forehead, “Little fella, you’re finally awake. What a good kitty!”
First Madam held her cat away from her reach, “Since the Teacher already knows who the culprit is, why not just reveal the truth?”
Ji Yunshu ignored her as she continued to tease that cat lovingly. The cat also pounced towards her, pawing at her adorably. “Little fellow, I only just praised you - why are you tickling me now? Is there some kind of smell on me?” Ji Yunshu scrunched up her nose and sniffed, “That’s not it! Unless, is it a smell only cats can discern?”
At this, First Madam panicked and her eyes started darting around.
ChouFleur Rants Corner
Urgh. That greasy sleazy Liu. And hmm...kitty has a secret!
The transfer to the new site will be in a few hours so the next chapter might be up late, and please be patient while we iron out the kinks!
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