The sudden voice transmitted from the yamen to the outside of its gates. Zuo Yao bowed with a rather stiff manner and lifted the front of his official robe as he hurried forward.
Although it was getting cold at night, he was sweating profusely. When he arrived in front of Jing Rong, he fell to his knees with a thud. Those servants behind him also hurried to kneel and did not dare to speak.
“Prince Rong, this official should have gone to the city gates to welcome you. Please forgive me.” He knelt on the ground trembling.
Jing Rong replied as he looked at him. “Magistrate Zuo, it was this Prince that did not want you to welcome me. It is not your fault, get up.”
“Thank you, Your Highness.” A crowd of people slowly stood up from the ground. Zuo Yao glanced at the group in front of him. Inwardly, he was panicking, but he still kept a calm expression. He quickly spoke, “Your Highness just arrived from the capital and must be tired after such a long journey. This official has already prepared a room in the rear court. Your Highness can rest at ease for tonight.”
Jing Rong replied only with a curt “Mm,” and nothing more.
Zuo Yao welcomed them respectfully inside, then ordered his men to settle the horses and carriages. On the way, he secretly glimpsed at Mo Ruo a few times. He noticed his plain robe, his acceptable figure, and the air of indolence about him, especially in his slightly droopy eyes. He appeared weak and did not look intelligent at all. He thought, this couldn’t be Teacher Ji, could it?
At last, he turned his attention to the quiet, graceful scholar.
That scholar had a thin and frail figure, but his back was ramrod straight. In contrast, his face was white and clean, almost feminine. If one stared at it for too long, it really could ensnare one's heart. Moreover, the eyes held a definite glint of shrewdness. This person must be the Teacher Ji sent by the Supreme Court to investigate the case of Aunt Xie’s daughter’s case.
Zuo Yao leaned forward deliberately and asked quietly, “Is this Teacher Ji?”
With a casual glance at him, Ji Yunshi had thoroughly understood his character. He had a shifty face with a sharp mouth and a chin as pointy as a monkey’s. If one were to look long enough, they could see he had similarities with Jing Zhaoyin in his eyebrows. 
She responded with a smile, “Your Magistrate has sharp eyes.”
He was right!
“Teacher Ji’s name is well-known in the capital city. This official has already heard about it. I admired Teacher's ability to handle cases. This case of Aunt Xie’s daughter will be solved onced Teacher takes over.”
Ji Yun Shi continued to walk and smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes. “Magistrate Zuo is talking interestingly. You tried the case two years ago, and you judged it as well? Now I’m here, but I have yet to either see the case or hear about it. You say that the case will be solved? So, Your Magistrate, are you admitting that you misjudged the case?”
Uh! Zuo Yao was stunned. He got flustered and stammered, “Of… course not, I was just saying, just speaking casually.”
“Lord Ji, I wonder what thoughts you have towards this case? How do you intend to deal with it?” He started probing again.
She glanced at him politely. “It’s getting late. Does Your Magistrate want to discuss the case at this time?”
Zuo Yao was rendered speechless by that stare. “No, the day is late. Naturally, I will wait for Teacher Ji to rest for a night before discussing the case.”
“In this case, why did Your Magistrate bring it up in the first place?”
Jing Rong who was walking in front of them, overheard their conversation and thought to himself, this girl is eloquent indeed - her sharp tongue had forced that old kid Zuo Yao into silence.
This is shaping up to be very interesting!
The courtyard was large, elegant, and quiet. It appeared to be a single-residence courtyard. The courtyard was intricately decorated with several small trees planted around it. Under each tree was a circle of smooth egg-shaped stones. The courtyard was separated into the front and back. The front was the hall, and the back was the private rooms. There were seven to eight rooms of different sizes, but they were clean and well-outfitted.
Although it was incomparable to the courtyard of Prince Rong, it is still quite decent. Presumably, Lord Zuo Yao had already prepared it to welcome this prince. The moment Tang Si entered, she started complaining loudly about the rough journey and how much her whole body was aching. A maid then led her to a room where she could rest. After everything was settled, Zuo Yao cupped his hands. “Prince, is this place satisfactory for your needs?”
Jing Rong was a child who grew up eating coarse food and had even slept in a coffin house. Naturally, he was very satisfied with this place.
“Magistrate Zuo, it’s very late. Go take a rest. We’ll talk about other things tomorrow.”
“Yes, if Your Highness has any other requirements, please let me know at any time.”
“You can leave.”
Zuo Yao retreated with a bow and an ingratiating smile.
But as soon as he stepped out of the courtyard, he called the steward. “You must take care of them. Don’t offend the prince inside.”
The steward replied, “Don’t worry, Lord. I’ll stay on call.”
“The most important thing is to look after Prince and Teacher Ji. If there’s anything at all, you must inform me immediately.”
Zuo Yao glanced back at the courtyard. He exhaled and left with a toss of his sleeves.
Inside the courtyard.
Ji Yunshu stood underneath the small trees for a long time, then stooped down to pick up some small and smooth pebbles. She weighed them in the palm of her hand, and the corners of her mouth turned up with a satisfied smile, before she entered the hall.
Mo Ruo sat on the stone steps outside the wall, twirling a bottle of wine. His leisurely manner made one think of the poet Li Bai.
Ji Yunshu was going to walk around him and go in when he suddenly raised his hand and tugged at her robe. Hmm? She looked down at him.
At the same time, Mo Ruo looked up at her. “Teacher Ji, why don’t you have a drink?” He raised the wine bottle in his hand.
“You know I don’t drink, it causes problems.”
“It’s the middle of the night, what would happen?
“Big problems can happen!” She spread out her hand and showed some pebbles in the palm of her hand.
Mo Ruo picked one out of her hand and looked at it. “It’s just a stone. Could it command the clouds and rain?”
“Naturally.” She took the pebble back in her palm and went into the hall.
At the same time, a maid inside the courtyard brought a few cups of tea and saluted to Prince Rong, who sat at the table.
“Your Highness, please have some hot tea to warm your body.” The pretty little maid’s voice was very pleasant. Her hair was done in two braids that hung on her chest and her limpid eyes were especially alluring.
Jing Rong gave the maid a small smile and her face immediately turned red. She hung her head and lowered her eyes but a smile lingered at the corner of her mouth in a shy and coquettish manner. Afterwards, she quickly retreated and left. Looking at the figure of the maid running away, he smiled as he sipped the tea.
Ji Yunshi sat down beside him, and ridiculed, “Wow, you won’t even let off a little girl.”
“That maid isn’t even of age. She’s a young child. Don’t think so much about it.”
“I did not. It’s you who thought too much.”