The injuries on her back no longer hurt. Ji Yunshu massaged the space between her eyebrows before she prudently sat up in her bed in fear of opening her wounds again.
“Luan’er!” She called out twice, but there was no response. That girl, where could she have run off to so early in the morning?
She descended from her bed. She fetched the blue and wide cloak hung on the coat rack before wrapping herself with it and leaving the room, but there was still no Luan’er in sight. She was just about to return to her room when she heard the clear sounds of footsteps approaching from behind her.
She turned her head and a panting Luan’er came into her sight. In the maidservant’s hands held a long box covered by a patterned brocade cloth that was exuding an extremely elegant taste.
“Miss, why are you up? Are the wounds on your back still hurting?” Worry could be seen on Luan’er face.
“Where did the thing in your hands come from?” Ji Yunshu attentively studied the brocade box in Luan’er hands.
Luan’er raised the brocade box higher and said, “This was given to us by the honourable guests from the capital who came previously, and they had visited us again. They gave everyone a gift and they are still discussing with Master in the reception hall.”
“Honourable guests? From the capital?”
“Yes.” Luan’er nodded.
Could it be Jing Rong? The doubts rose inside Ji Yunshu’s heart. She still received the brocade box and instructed Luan’er, “Go to the reception hall and find out what my father and the honourable guests are discussing.”
Huh? I have to peep and eavesdrop?! Luan’er was bewildered, “Miss, thi-”
“Oh! Oh!” Luan’er energetically dashed to the reception hall to spy on others!
Ji Yunshu went back into her room with the box. Inside her room, she opened the box revealing the object inside - Turniplike cowparsnip root. A turniplike cowparsnip root was not a rare medicinal ingredient, but its market price was quite exorbitant. In addition, it was also strangely effective when treating whip wounds.
Faintly, something stirred deep inside her heart. What a coincidence! The gift from the capital guest was like charcoal in snowy weather!
She shook her head. It was more important to handle her back injuries now while it did not hurt. She walked to a shelf behind her table and took her sandalwood box. Then, she took out a white paper from it and spread it on the table.
For a moment, her brain imagined what she planned to put on paper. Next, she took out a golden ink brush and she dipped it into the back inkstone before drawing on the paper. Halfway through, the distinctive image of human bones drawn in black ink took shape. With careful observation, it could be seen that the bones were, in fact, the different parts of a human skull!
It was the sketch of the yin-yang corpse’s skull! The skull was divided into 23 parts, all composed of bones of different sizes and shapes which included numerous flat bones and irregular bones. Even the smallest part was carefully drawn and separated. It appeared as if she was reconstructing a skull model.
This was one of Ji Yunshu’s habits; deconstruction of something whole before reassembling it following the shape and size of it. She would use clay to shape each piece based on what she drew and piece them together to form a 3D skull model. After she was done with it, she would once again draw the portrait by looking at the clay skull. The methods she used to reproduce the portrait of the deceased that only had skeletal remains were unlike those she used for corpses that were still covered in rotten flesh.
Even in the modern times, despite the presence of high tech computers and composite programs, she still needed to put in a lot of effort in reproducing the portrait of the deceased before death. Furthermore, there were no computers in this place! She had no other choice but to use this kind of method.
After she put down the ink brush, her white fingers tapped the edge of the paper. It was also the first time she had come across a yin-yang person. After pondering for a moment, her thoughts went off on another tangent. She paused for a moment, then rolled up the sketch of the skull and put it aside. Then, she unfolded another sheet of paper. She rearranged the paint container in the first layer of her box before adding water to the indented slots on the second layer of it. Next, she dipped her brush in the paint and water before starting to paint.
Meanwhile, Luan’er had left to spy at the reception hall. She tiptoed quietly, not daring to approach too near. She simply hid herself behind several maidservants and eavesdropped at the occupants inside.
Inside the reception hall, Ji Shuhan was standing still. His posture slightly bent. His usually fiendish and arrogant appearance had become one exuding flattery and fawning, with a deferential smile plastered on his face.
Jing Rong, who was sitting, revealed a faint smile which exuded a feeling making people’s anxious. A deterring impression that kept strangers at bay!
Jing Rong’s sharp and cold eyes sized up Ji Shuhan before he snorted, “Lord Ji, please sit down. This prince doesn’t like looking up at people.” His tone came out overbearing. Jing Rong referring to Ji Shuhan as Lord Ji was not a false act as Ji Shuhan had been the assistant minister in the Ministry of Rites in his younger days!
Ji Shuhan did not sit, although he lowered his head for appearances sake and said, “It’s better if this lowly official keeps standing.”
“This Prince has allowed you to sit, so just sit.”
“Yes, Your Highness.” Only then, Ji Shuhan raised the bottom of his robe before sitting next to Jing Rong, “Prince Rong, today you came with such precious gifts for this lowly official’s family members, I don’t know if… there was any reason for your visit?”
What? Did Ji Shuhan really believe that I came here because I had nothing better to do? Jing Rong was a grand and magnificent prince. There was no need for him to go find Ji Shuhan.
With a smile, Jing Rong picked up the teacup. He narrowed his eyes and after what seemed like ages, he spoke, “I heard that in your younger days, when Lord Ji was still an official, my Imperial Father had bestowed upon you a horsewhip with a handle made of golden brocade and jade. Was it true?”
As the mention of the whip, comprehension suddenly dawned on Ji Shuhan’s face, “To be bestowed a reward by the emperor is the blessing of this official’s three lifetimes.”
“Oh? I heard that horsewhip was a tribute from Persia, made from golden eagle’s leather. I wonder if I would have the honour to see it?” Jing Rong’s eyebrows tightly knitted.
Ji Shuhan hurriedly stated, “If Prince Rong wants to see it, I will bring it out.” He then turned to a servant and gave his orde, “Go and bring out the horsewhip.”
The servant dashed out and went to take the horsewhip without any delay. A yellow brocade box was brought in, showing how carefully adorned it was! Ji Shuhan removed the whip from the box and respectfully presented it to Jing Rong, “Your Highness, this is the horsewhip bestowed by His Majesty.”‘
I know it’s a bestowed reward. No need to repeat it again and again! Jing Rong put down the teacup in his hand. He raised an eyebrow and as he beamed, his smile showing a hint of slyness in it. He took the whip and examined it. Suddenly, he wrinkled his nose and said, “This whip is very exquisite, but… why does is there a bloody scent on it?”
“This…” Ji Shuhan became flustered. After the whip was used to flog Ji Yunshu, it was clearly washed and dried properly - not even a trace of blood could be seen. Not to mention that sandalwood incense was used to purge the bloody scent from it, so how could it still smell like blood? Does Prince Rong have the nose of a dog?
Jing Rong raised his chin and continued, “Not only does it smell bloody, there’s another smell on the handle. It has the stench of a beast.”
Beast? Wasn’t Ji Shuhan the one who held the whip before him? This was pointing at the mulberry tree and cursing the locust tree! If Jing Rong said two, no one would dare say one. At this instant, Ji Shuhan’s complexion could not be bluer as he almost choked in his saliva, shaking non-stop from anger, “Prince Rong… How can this whip have such a scent? Every day, I perfumed it with sandalwood incense.”
“Lord Ji, you better get the physician to examine your nose.” His expression was beaming whereas his words stung. However, Jing Rong did not feel like he was completely satisfied, so he raised the whip and asked Lang Po, “Lang Po, smell it. Tell me if my nose doesn’t have a problem.”
“Yes, Your Highness!”Lang Po took the whip and sniffed it before nodding, “Your Highness, the whip does indeed have a bloody scent on it, and the handle really has the stench of a beast.”
“Hmmm!” Jing Rong was very satisfied. His smile vanished and was suddenly replaced by a dark and stern expression, “Take that whip and burn it!”
Grenn's Rants Corner
It's Jing Rong's time to shine.