At the Lantern Festival in Jinjiang half a year ago, she painted a lantern filled with plum flowers for him. She could still recall releasing the Kongming lantern painted with the words ‘May my heart be untroubled and the dead rest in their graves’, with Wei Yi.
Wei Yi grumbled, “Today’s the Lantern Festival, but Brother Jing Rong refused to let me go outside. He said it was extremely dangerous outside, but everyone else told me that it’s really fun there. There are beautiful flower lanterns everywhere, and so many fireworks! I saw some before, and they were so big!” He gestured excitedly, showing Ji Yunshu the scale of the fireworks he once saw, “They exploded high above in the sky. The fireworks here were much prettier than the ones we had in Jinjiang, so I spent five taels of silver to buy this firecracker to release some fireworks myself!”
Five taels of silver? “Who did you buy this from?”
“Big Brother Lang!”
“You paid him five taels of silver for this?”
“Mm, Big Brother Lang told me that this firecracker would explode into the best, most amazing fireworks, then he told me to give him five taels of silver.” Wei Yi trusted him completely!
Although it’s a bit dishonest, Lang Po does need to get his fifty-three silvers back somehow. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to afford his future wedding! Ji Yunshu gave him a playful rap on the head, “Foolish boy.” She asked again, “Do you want to go outside?”
He nodded enthusiastically like a little puppy.
“Fine, then I’ll bring you there.”
“Really?” Wei Yi’s eyes widened in surprise and glee, “Then, will Shu’er make lanterns for me just like the last time?”
“What kind of lantern do you want?”
“Of course, I want the prettiest, most special lantern - a unique one that only I will have!” His voice was bright and clear!
Ji Yunshu pondered, the prettiest? The most special? Then… “Alright. Let’s create the prettiest, most special lantern ever.” She broke out into a loving smile.
Wei Yi was beyond himself! But Lang Po popped out from nowhere, picking up the already dead embers from the faulty firecracker he had sold Wei Yi and quickly hiding it away behind his back. He warned sternly, “Teacher Ji, His Highness has already forbidden you and Young Master Wei from leaving.” There was no room for negotiation!
Ji Yunshu only laughed, “Brother Lang, when has this yamen become a locked cage?”
“A locked cage? Teacher Ji must be joking - how is the yamen a cage?”
“Then why tie up our hands and feet?”
“Since it’s not a cage, then why can’t we go outside to have a look at those lanterns? We’ll return straightaway after sightseeing, so Brother Lang need not worry. Plus, we have Zijin guarding us as well. It’ll be fine.”
Lang Po was stumped, but he had his orders. “No can do. His Highness has explicitly ordered that if Teacher Ji and Young Master Wei were to take one step out of the yamen, I’ll lose my head! Teacher Ji, please remain here. His Highness is still tying up loose ends regarding the recovered gold and has no time to protect you himself. If you were to leave and anything happens, I…”
He was interrupted before he could finish, “Fine, we won’t make things difficult for you. We’ll stay here.” Ji Yunshu pulled out her best ‘good girl’ act!
Wei Yi, on the other hand, was not so pleased. He blinked his puppy eyes sadly and pouted, “Shu’er, are we really not going to see the lights?”
Ji Yunshu nodded, but her mischievous smile was much harder to read as she asked Lang Po, “Brother Lang, do you mind sourcing two roughly spherical pumpkins for me?”
“Is Teacher Ji planning to cook up a few dishes?”
“Mm… almost. I want to make something from my hometown.”
“Sure, I’ll look for them right away.” He wiggled off and returned soon after with two medium-sized pumpkins.
Ji Yunshu headed to the kitchen with Wei Yi and found a brush and a small knife, beginning to create her ‘masterpiece’ with those pumpkins. Wei Yi sat watching her, his plump cheeks propped up by his hands on the table.
Ji Yunshu made a small opening at the top of the pumpkins, cutting out their stems as she dug the insides of the pumpkins clean, leaving a hollow shell. She then washed them under some running water before starting to carve the outer surfaces of the pumpkins with her dexterous hands, little by little. She was extremely focused.
She took only thirty minutes to complete her work; lifelike bamboo shapes were carved into the entire outer surface of the two pumpkins. She found several thin ropes, passing them through her carved works, then hung them from two long and smooth rods. Finally, she lit a candle inside each completed lantern! The orange hues flickered within and flooded out of its carved walls, projecting bamboo onto the whitewashed walls and floor. As the flame moved, the bamboo’s silhouettes began to sway. Being surrounded by these images transported them into a bamboo forest; it was magical!
Wei Yi was the most astonished. He slowly sat up in awe of what he saw appearing before his eyes, and a childlike smile lit up across his face as he exclaimed in wonder, “Wow!” He was beside himself with delight like an excited puppy, “Shu’er, these are the prettiest lanterns I’ve ever seen!”
Ji Yunshu laughed, handing one of the two pumpkin lanterns to him, “Hold this. Let’s go see the lanterns!”
Wei Yi readily received it with both hands as he pouted, “But, Big Brother Lang’s outside.”
“Then we’ll leave by the back door.”
“Mm!” He held the pumpkin lantern joyfully, tagging along behind Ji Yunshu towards the back door.
But, who knew, as soon as she opened the door -
“Why are you sneaking around like thieves?” It was Mo Ruo’s thick, low voice. He was sitting on the stone steps just outside the door. As he leaned on the door frame, he stretched out one of his long legs, blocking Ji Yunshu and Wei Yi’s path. As usual, his wine jar was firmly in his hands, with more empty wine jars scattered messily around him.
This rascal, why isn’t he dead of alcohol poisoning yet? Ji Yunshu placed the pumpkin lantern next to his face, lighting up his chiselled profile, “What are you doing here?”
Mo Ruo had never seen such a wonderous lantern and he rubbed his eyes, taking another look at the pumpkin lantern. He tapped on it, “What the heck is this? Why is it lit up?”
“It’s a lantern Shu’er made.” Wei Yi rushed to answer him.
“Lantern? Interesting… If you were to sell this at the market, you’ll definitely make a ton - how did you make it? Come on, teach me how. When we return to the Capital, I’ll close down Yuhua Pavilion for a lantern business.”
Wei Yi was quick to answer before Ji Yunshu could even respond, “I know how.” He plopped down onto the steps beside Mo Ruo, “It’s made from pumpkins. First, you need to chop off its head. Then, you scoop out all its meat. Next…”
“Hold on - are you killing somebody?”
Wei Yi waved his hands frantically, “I’m no killer; killers need to be beheaded. The pumpkin died, and it was Shu’er who killed it, not me.” He shirked all responsibility as he continued, “Shu’er’s lantern is so pretty, and she made all these bamboo with a knife one by one. Look at them, aren’t they beautiful? And these leaves, they’re pretty too, right?”
“Shu’er tied up the pumpkins with a string, then hung the string from…” The two of them sat shoulder to shoulder, chatting happily about how the pumpkin lanterns were made. Mo Ruo found his next business opportunity. He had made up his mind to shut Yuhua Pavilion down and open a lantern shop in its place, selling only pumpkin lanterns exclusively. At his impending windfall, Mo Ruo chugged more wine maniacally!
Ji Yunshu stood watching these two idiots like a transparent ghost, the corners of her mouth twitching in disbelief!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Aww... cute Wei Yi interlude. And Mo Ruo is as irresponsible as ever <3
Translator: Tzegeek, Editor: Lunarlark