Chapter 133 – Concubine Xiao
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don’t read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
Ji Yunshu was indeed dressed like a man. Her ashen robe sculpted her delicate form, giving her thin limbs a firmness which would not lose out to even a man. However, her most prominent feature was the golden half-mask she wore, which was framed with jade. It had a simple design, but did not trade fineness for it. Although half of her face was hidden, a pair of watery irises, which melted the hearts of all those who saw it, remained visible. Her eyes, combined with the visible half of her pale face made her seem like a graceful young man, but without any prominent masculine features at all.
Ji Yunshu chose her outfit out of pure pragmatism. After all, she came to the capital for investigation, and so, the fact that she was a woman was bound to cause some difficulties. On top of it, her scar, and the need to wear a veil otherwise, would make it inconvenient when she took her meal. So she decided that a mask would be the best solution.
Lu Jiang brought his hand to his chin and stroked his own beard. ‘So this is the Miss Ji who’s so good at solving cases.’
Jing Rong turned around and looked at Ji Yunshu. “Teacher Ji, from now on, you will stay at the mansion with Young Master Wei. My subordinates will take care of everything else.”
Ji Yunshu nodded in response.
Lu Jiang came close to her, bowed down to her and said in a friendly voice. “Prince Rong has told me tales of your cleverness, Teacher Ji. Your reputation precedes you.”
Ji Yunshu greeted him back with a hand gesture. “You are flattering me, old mister. I was simply lucky for the few cases I have been able to solve.”
“I would not dare underestimate anyone highly regarded by the prince.”
“Thank you for your kind words.”
Jing Rong coughed and interrupted the polite diplomatic exchange between the two. “It has been a long journey, and I am sure that you are tired. Lu Jiang, bring Teacher Ji and Young Master Wei to their quarters. We can discuss other matters tomorrow.”
“Yes sir,” answered Lu Jiang.
Jing Rong walked up to Ji Yunshu and whispered into her ears, “I need to make a trip to the palace right now. I’ll come find you later. We’ll discuss the case once you are rested.”
Ji Yunshu nodded. In order to abate the emperor’s suspicions, when a royal prince returned to the capital, it was their responsibility to go to the palace to report on what they did. Jing Rong did not linger any longer and jumped back on his horse. Accompanied by a couple of guards, he rode towards the palace without even stopping to change his clothes.
‘Quite a thought-out decision to go into the palace in his everyday clothes. This would not only show his submission to the emperor’s authority, but also reassure him that he has indeed been investigating duke’s case, and not using the time to prepare for a coup d’état.’
Meanwhile, Wei Yi and Ji Yunshu were brought to a large yard in the eastern quarters of the mansion. It was filled with plum flowers, and in the middle of the yard was an ornamental rockwork. Water trickled down from it, into a waterwheel which spun as the liquid filled up the buckets attached to it.
‘My, what a nice set-up!’
The moment they entered the building, Wei Yi yelled out. “Shu’er, didn’t you say that you were going to bring me to eat meat?”
“Do you want to go eat now?” asked Ji Yunshu.
“No.” Wei Yi shook his head and smiled embarrassingly; he was simply recalling the promise she had made to him.
Lu Jiang, who listened to the conversation from the side, was completely dumbstruck by what he heard. ‘Coming to the capital to eat meat? Is this some kind of inside joke?’ He smiled at the two and proposed to Wei Yi. “I am sure that you are hungry, Young Master Wei. I’ll have some food prepare right away, so that you may rest as soon as possible.”
‘If he didn’t mention it, I wouldn’t have felt the hunger pangs.’
Ji Yunshu nodded at the proposal. “We’ll inconvenience you then.”
“My family name is Lu, if you don’t mind, teacher Ji, you can call me Uncle Lu.”
Before Ji Yunshu could answer, Wei Yi, in his typical affability, called out in earnestly, “Uncle Lu.”
Wei Yi’s words brought an immense joy to Lu Jiang’s heart. He hurriedly ordered the servants to prepare a meal, and hand picked a few maids to be at Ji Yunshu and Wei Yi’s disposal. Not only they, he even made sure that they had a few sets of new clothes to change into; it was indeed an attentive and thorough.
On the other side of the city, Li Shiyan was having a blast strolling down the street. For someone, who had never seen the wares from Great Lin, it was natural to be very curious about every object he saw. But, he seemed to have forgotten about something important as he wandered down the street. Xiao Luzi, who followed him on the side, brought it up. “Young Master, we… lost them!”
“Lost what?” Li Shiyan said as he tried on a Guan Yu1 mask.
“That Shu’er girl! We lost them. Their carriage had disappeared.”
‘Oh!’ Li Shiyan’s pupils dilated upon realizing what had happened. He searched left and right, but could find no trace of Jing Rong’s group anywhere.
He vented out his frustration with a blow onto Xiao Luzi’s head. “Why did you just tell me now! You useless junk.”
Xiao Luzi covered his head with his hands and protested his innocence. “This humble one… this humble has just remembered it. Come to think of it, if it wasn’t because of you looking all over the place, we wouldn’t have lost them in the first place.”
“Are you blaming me for this?”
“Nonono!” Li Shiyan panted angrily, but he was usually optimistic, so he quickly snapped out of it. He sighed and waved his hand. “Well, forget about it. Let’s find some place to stay here. As long as they are in the capital, we’ll find them somehow.” As he finished speaking, he had already regained his usual confidence.
Compared to the bustling main streets, the imperial palace was a much calmer place. In the gardens of Zhihan hall, even the flowers bloomed amidst the cold winter. A few maids stood reverently on the side, and although they seemed impassive, one would be able to notice their nervous prudence; it was no easy task to serve in the palace. Plus, one could easily lose their head if they are not careful.
Concubine Xiao stood in front of a pot of flowers called ruby crown2. Her long hair reached all the way down to her waist, and, along with the gold ornaments and the silver hairpin, a jade pendant on the side, mirroring the emerald gem hanging from her ears, completed the pictures. Although the jewellery was not overly lavish, the robe that she wore was truly shocking. The robe had a violet front and as it moved towards the sleeves, it transitioned into a redder wine color. Embroidered upon it were bamboos and orchids of a turquoise colour. Right on her chest laid willow branches which extended down to her waist. The bottom of the robe was split, just like the petals of a flower from the bud, along with the two long sleeves. If one looked at it carefully enough, they can see that the patterns looked like a phoenix. It wasn’t displayed that blatantly, but more so like an imitation.
One could guess at Concubine Xiao’s audacity for wearing such a robe, but also be impressed by her carefulness. Her fingernails were painted in a bright scarlet, which were as vivid as the blossoms around her. She picked up a pair of scissors and started to trim the bushes and the flowers in the garden carelessly. With a content smile on her face, she asked out.
“Why hasn’t Yi’er3 entered the palace recently?”
A maid answered. “Your Ladyship, it will soon be your birthday. Prince Yi is surely preparing a wonderful gift for you.”
“Ah, he is such a dutiful child.” Everytime she talked about her child, Concubine Xiao always had a sweet smile.
Concubine Xiao turned around and asked, “Did anything interesting happen in the capital recently?”
The maid bowed down and answered, “There has been rumors that many young misses from various influential families in the capital have vanished, and nothing has been found until now.”
“Oh, quite interesting indeed!” She dropped the blades of the scissors she held onto the stem of a flower. Swish- The bud fell onto the ground with from a clean cut.
Grenn’s Rants Corner
Lol! Ji Yunshu is a bishonen with her mask. She is bound to break girls’ hearts.