As the wind blew, Ji Yunshu rested her hands on her abdomen. Both her hands gradually intertwined with each other in her sleeves as she lowered her gaze.
She turned to look at Fu Bo. With a lowered head, Fu Bo placed his hands that had been clenched into fists on the table as he furrowed his gray brows. His heart hurt so badly it felt as if a few thousand ants were gnawing at it. Sorrow and agony were painted across his pale face as he had yet to recover from his sickness. Ji Yunshu continued, "The man rushed to the Capital hurriedly after the fire at the residence of the Imperial Duke. He unearthed all the coffins at Lin Mountain and finally discovered his son's body which had been completely burnt. He put on clean clothes for his son and sprinkled ginger powder around the body in the coffin to preserve it. He reburied the coffin before he left the Capital and returned to the memorial hall in Jinjiang. Time passed in a blink of an eye as he spends all of his days taking care of the dead bodies."
The main character of the story is obviously Fu Bo.
Step by step, she approached Fu Bo. Her lips twitched for a long while before she spoke, "Wei Yi is the son of the Imperial Duke you brought along when you left the Capital twenty years ago."
Wei Yi? Wei Yi is the youngest son of Imperial Duke?
"No one could have expected that the youngest son of the Imperial Duke is still alive!" She continued. "Fate is an interesting thing. Maybe this is the way God showed his consolation."
Fu Bo’s thin frame shivered in shock after he heard what Ji Yunshu said! He focused his weary gaze and looked at Ji Yunshu in surprise. He teared up and was unable to speak.
After a long while, he said, "I should have known better. Despite having lied about this to everyone else, I will never be able to hide things from Teacher Ji.
Ji Yunshu looked into Fu Bo's anguished eyes and said, "Fu Bo, some things are not meant to be hidden." She took out the orange jade and yellow handkerchief and laid it on her palm. "I reckon that you handed this jade and this torn handkerchief to Uncle and Aunty Wei twenty years ago. Initially, I guessed that the word 'Xu' was a name or nickname. In fact, I was heading in the wrong direction ever since I found it. This is neither a name nor a nickname. It's the title of an estate. On the spur of a moment, the late emperor bestowed the title 'Xu' for the mansion of the Imperial Duke. Hence, few people knew about it. The Imperial Duke then ordered his people to carve two jade pendants based on the word 'Xu'. It was made to be the official command pendant for his general, who led his one hundred thousand troops outside of the Capital. One was placed inside his youngest son's swaddling cloth when he left the Capital, and another was given to Old General Li in Qingzhou after not hearing any news about his son for six years. If I am not mistaken, I've seen the other half of the handkerchief two years ago, in your hand. Besides, I think that the sentence Wei Yi's mother failed to complete before she passed away was trying to tell me that Wei Yi was not her biological son."
Fu Bo nodded, "You're right. Everything you’ve said is right. However, how did you find out about the secret behind the jade?"
Of course, it's because of Old General Li's message! She easily deduced that the jade pendant was the same as the official pendant once she connected the dots!
She replied, "That's none of your concern. I only need you to tell me what actually happened."
Fu Bo shook his head as he wiped off his tears. He then spoke in a husky voice, "During the coronation of the new emperor, the Duke worried that the new Emperor would follow in the late Emperor’s footsteps. Hence, he ordered me to bring his heir and Third Madam out of the Capital discreetly. The third madam did not survive as she passed away due to illness on the journey. Meanwhile, his youngest son was barely a month old. I continued my journey north and arrived at Jinjiang. Coincidentally, I ran into Old Master Wei and Madam Wei, and after much contemplation, I entrusted them with the boy. Ever since then, I broke all connections with the residence of the Imperial Duke. Unexpectedly, the Imperial Duke's residence caught ablaze six years later and my son was one of the casualties. I returned to the Capital and spent a whole day searching for my son's body at Lin Mountain. Eventually, I recognised my son's burnt body by the silver necklace he was wearing. The white-haired sending off the black-haired, can you imagine the pain? Later, I spent a long time in the Capital to investigate the case. However, I failed to obtain any clues about the fire at the Imperial Duke's residence. It was as though someone had intentionally wiped out all the information regarding the fire. The emperor was the only person who had the power to make this happen. The Duke managed to save the life of his youngest son because he guessed the outcome." Fu Bo sounded very upset.
"Who's the missing person among the seventy-three casualties?"
"I tried to find out during the days I stayed in the Capital, but I found nothing," he paused briefly before he continued, "Teacher Ji, I know that you're now in charge of the Lin Capital Case. Can you promise me to solve the case? Can you seek justice for the Duke and the Imperial Duke's residence?
Ji Yunshu nodded. "I'll find out the truth as long as I'm in charge of Lin Capital Case," she said firmly.
Seventy-two lives were taken overnight by the blaze. That night, the Imperial Duke's residence was as though a place in hell, engulfed by the raging fire. Ji Yunshu could almost imagine the scene and could almost hear the screaming, yelling and crying. She felt a heavy, uncomfortable feeling in her chest.
Fu Bo again wiped away his tears in silence. Ji Yunshu regained her composure and handed Fu Bo the painting she brought over. She stood up and said, "Keep this painting as a souvenir."
When she was about to leave, Fu Bo called her, "Teacher Ji, can I ask for another favour? Regarding the truth about Wei Yi, can you…"
Before he finished his words, she turned her back to him and said, "Don't worry. If I talked to you regarding this secret behind closed doors, it shows that I've no intention to let anyone else know about it. I promise that before I solve the Lin Capital Case, no one will find out the truth about Wei Yi's birth, not to mention the fact that the youngest son of the Imperial Duke is still alive. Moreover… I do not want Wei Yi to know about this. He will not be able to handle the truth regarding his birth. I would rather have him stay as he is right now."
It might be a better choice for Wei Yi to stay in the Wei Residence in Jinjiang forever instead of going back to the Capital! That also meant that Ji Yunshu would have to break her promise. Ji Yunshu took a deep breath, opened the door and left the room, closing the door behind her.
The weak light from the candle barely lit the room. As the light shone on Fu Bo’s old and weary face for a very long time, he slowly opened the painting with his trembling hands. It was the portrait of a person who considerably resembled him. He stroked the face on the painting as his eyes gradually teared up. Then, he sobbed.
Meanwhile, there was a silhouette standing behind the pillar, which was located not far away from the door of the room. Wei Yi stood there quietly. His gaze fixed on Ji Yunshu as she exited the room and left the place. His clear and tranquil eyes were so calm as though he had completely no emotion. However, his hands on both sides of his body were grabbing his clothes tightly. He grabbed it so hard to the extent that his fingertips had turned pale.