Chapter 29 Wind Crane: News
Xue Yiqi’s sudden violence left the rest stunned, and his explanation only served to make them more confused.
“Yiqi, what’s wrong?” Jiang Moyin knew that Xue Yiqi was a very straightforward and impatient person, but had not expected things to turn out like that.
“All I did was crack a joke. Do you have to vent your anger at someone else like that?” Qi Jianqiu was extremely upset by his actions and glared at him.
Feng Luodi steadied herself. Clutching her stomach in pain, she walked to Xue Yiqi, and looked him straight in the eye.
“Master Xue, now that you have already voiced your opinion, how about you listen to what I have to say? If you agree with me, I’ll need a favour from you.” Ignoring Xue Yiqi, who opened his mouth to protest, Feng Luodi continued.
“Just as I had said to the servant earlier, he told us the truth not with the intention of betraying his master, but to uphold the justice in his heart and to protect the judicial laws of this kingdom. While he initially was an accomplice for withholding information of the crime, he has redeemed himself by helping extract the confession from Wang Ji.This has been approved by the Administrator of Chang’an himself.”
She continued. “We came into this world, unable to control our birth and status. However, he is a learned man, and if he threw aside his learning and morals just to serve his master, he has failed. He would have failed his kingdom, his education, and most importantly, his mother.”
Feng Luodi kept her gaze steady, but her voice wavered when she spoke the last two words. She clasped her hands behind her back, trying to keep them from shaking.
“Master Xue, if you agree with what I have said, could you please request for Master Wang to give me this servant’s contract of employment?* It was due to my actions that he will not be able to work in this household anymore, and it is my responsibility to take care of him. Regardless, I have to thank you for your help today in the investigation, Master Xue.”
Xue Yiqi was silent, but Qi Jianqiu felt it was unfair for Feng Luodi, who had done nothing wrong and shouldn’t have had to debase herself. However, not wanting to interfere with Feng Luodi’s affairs, she merely shot Xue Yiqi a venomous glare.
Jiang Moyin kept quiet. Like Feng Luodi said, it is her responsibility to take care of this, and she wouldn’t like it if I stepped in. Although what she said was true, our society is too conservative for such a radical mindset to be commonplace. He slowly recalled what Feng Luodi had said. If the world functioned in her image it would be an utopian society.
It was a long while before Xue Yiqi answered. “It is but a mere contract for a servant. You have my promise.” He paused. “You don’t have to be like this.”
“My deepest thanks, Master Xue.” Feng Luodi bowed deeply to Xue Yiqi, and the servant quickly bowed his thanks as well. Xue Yiqi left the room to look for the head steward, and Feng Luodi turned to the servant.
“After this, follow me to the yamen to present your statement. It is my mistake for not considering your feelings beforehand. Whether you choose to work with me, or to tear up the contract, the decision is left in your hands.”
“I choose to follow you, young miss. It is my way of showing my thanks for saving me from this situation. I’ll work hard to repay the kindness you’ve shown me today.”
“It’s up to you.” Feng Luodi stood up and promptly left the room.
Jiang Moyin watched as she left the courtyard, a smile playing on his lips. Above them, white clouds dotted the clear spring sky, and a breeze passed through the courtyard, billowing her gown.
Feng Luodi sat alone in a teahouse, deep in thought. She had went to the yamen with the servant, Li Tengfei, that day, only to return with disappointing results. According to Wang Ji, he was at Moonglade that night to look for Linglong, bewitched by her beauty. He had snuck up to the two handmaidens to ask about Linglong’s habits and schedules, but was enraged when the handmaidens had tried to blackmail him for the information. In his anger, he’d drugged the two handmaidens, and vented his anger by killing them. He had tossed his knife into the river, but his robe was found by the officers, and his bloodied tunic was also used as evidence against him.
As for Wind Crane, Wang Ji claimed that he had not seen the Guqin when he’d entered the handmaidens’ room, and had no idea where the zither was. In the end, the Administrator could only close the murder case: Wang Ji was indicted, and his father decommissioned. The only case yet to be solved was the theft of Wind Crane, and Moonglade had sent word to the yamen that they were not urgent to retrieve the Guqin.
Moonglade was quickly reopened, patrons coming in droves as they had before the incident. It was as if the murder and theft never happened.
This left Feng Luodi seemingly the only one still concerned with the search for Wind Crane..
Taking a sip of her tea, Feng Luodi sighed. Because of her insistence that day in the Wang household, her relationship with the rest, specifically Xue Yiqi, has somewhat soured. It didn’t help that Xue Yiqi had been hanging out with Qi Jianqiu and Jiang Moyin much more these days; she herself had rejected a few of Qi Jianqiu’s invitations to meet for fear of awkwardness, due to the leftover tension between her and Xue Yiqi. It was not in her nature to go out of her way to please another person, and she definitely wouldn’t start for Xue Yiqi.
Footsteps echoed up the stairs, and Li Tengfei appeared with a bamboo slat.
“Young miss, someone had this delivered to the household this afternoon. It’s from the 7th Prince.”
Feng Luodi read the bamboo slat carefully, her expression changing from doubt to realisation. Then, she tossed the slat onto the table casually. “He’s inviting me to meet at Manchun Tang tomorrow at noon, saying that he has the thing my heart most desires.”
“Young miss, I was at Moonglade that day as well.” Li Tengfei was worried. “I saw the quarrel between the two of you, and I fear he might be using this opportunity to get back at you. After all, he is a prince, with much more power than you. Shall we inform the Chamberlain of this?”
Feng Luodi shook her head quickly. “We can’t let Father know about this; I will definitely be grounded if he finds out.”
“Then,” Li Tengfei suggested, “why don’t we invite Master Jiang and Miss Qi to come along as well? He wouldn’t dare to play tricks with them around”
Feng Luodi shook her head again. “No. After all, this is my personal dispute, and it would be wrong to rope them into this mess.” She turned to Li Tengfei. “Follow me to the meeting tomorrow, and if something seems wrong when we reach Manchun Tang, send word to Constable Zheng for his help. I’m sure we can rely on him with something this minor.”
“Yes, young miss.”
Feng Luodi stayed in the teahouse until dusk, and started to walk home with Li Tengfei a few steps behind her. She looked at the setting sun, and laughed lightly. One day has passed so quickly. To be exact, a few months has passed, just like that. I just hope that the years won’t slip pass me in this fashion as well. My unconscious body is still lying unmoving in the hospital back in my world, and I must have burdened my family greatly in this period. I can’t bear to do that to them, but I am helpless.
“I see that you can read and write, Fei. I’ll get you a teacher to teach you systematically when we get back. You’re still young, and you’ll have a bright future ahead if you master your literacy.”
“I’ll leave the decision to you, young miss.” Fei looked at Feng Luodi, and noticing her melancholy, asked gingerly. “Is something bothering you, young miss? Scarlet and Jet has been concerned as well.”
Feng Luodi laughed. “I’m sure they’re just upset that you get to follow me when I go out, but they have to stay back home and take care of Mother.”
Li Tengfei smiled as well. “Both of them care deeply for you, young miss. Whenever we speak of you, they become more protective than mother hens.”
“If they heard that, the two of them would definitely work together to rob you of your dinner and give it to Jet.” Thinking of her two handmaidens, Feng Luodi’s smile widened. One was lively and smart, while the other was quiet and adorable. They make such a good pair.
“You’re right, young miss. I’ve seen for myself how much Jet can eat in a meal.” Li Tengfei suppressed his laughter, completely unaware that his original question had already been avoided masterfully.
The two strolled casually along the streets, a contrast to the other pedestrians rushing about beside them, eager to return home for dinner. Suddenly, Li Tengfei pointed to the side of the road.
“Young miss, isn’t that Miss Qi, Master Jiang and Master Xue?”
Feng Luodi looked at where he pointed, and just as he said, Qi Jianqiu was getting ready to board her carriage. Xue Yiqi stood beside her talking excitedly, his initial shyness seemingly gone. Jiang Moyin was there as well, looking around with his usual casual flair. His eyes lit up when they found Feng Luodi.
Feng Luodi smiled, did a little curtsy, and turned to Li Tengfei.
“Let’s go home.”
“Brother, what are you smiling at?” Xue Yiqi was in a good mood after sending off Qi Jianqiu, and was perplexed by Jiang Moyin’s sudden smile.
“Some people are really interesting, Yiqi. They can be very smart and decisive, but when it come to other simple things, they become very dense.” Jiang Moyin dusted his robe, and started walking back to his household.
“What are you talking about?” Xue Yiqi was even more confused. “Brother, can you stop speaking in riddles? You know I don’t understand when you speak like that.”
Jiang Moyin smiled and shook his head, without any intention of explaining to Xue Yiqi. Sighing, Xue Yiqi quickly followed.
When Feng Luodi and Li Tengfei finally returned to the Feng household, Li Tengfei quickly excused himself and headed for dinner with Scarlet and Jet. Feng Luodi walked alone to the main hall, intending to announce her return to her father, and saw the table set for dinner. The Chamberlain sat at the head of the table, and the First Lady was, surprisingly, at the table as well. Her face was still pale, but she seemed to be in good spirits. On the other side of the Chamberlain sat the Second Lady, her cheeks rosy from laughter. The three of them were chatting amicably; even the Chamberlain who was usually strict and sombre was grinning widely.
They look happy – just like a family.
Feng Luodi quickly turned to leave, not wanting to join. However, Fu Bo, who was waiting on the table, saw her and quickly called out to her. “Young miss, come in quickly! We were waiting for you to begin!”
The three at the table looked up, and beckoned her over as well. Feng Luodi sighed inaudibly, and turned to go back in, putting on her best smile.
She greeted them. “Father. Mother. Second Lady. I’m back. My apologies for making you wait.”
“Come and sit by me.” Her mother waved her over, and piled her plate with food.
“Why did you return so late these day? If you hadn’t brought Fei along, I would have sent Fu Bo to look for you!”
“Your mother was really worried about you just now, Luodi. She almost wanted to look for you herself.” Second Lady chimed in.
“I’m sorry for making you worry, Mother. I will definitely let you know in advance, if I am to return late in the future.” Feng Luodi looked down, and focused intently on her dinner.
“Why don’t you promise us not to return home late again?” The First Lady frowned.
Feng Luodi smiled, but did not reply. The Chamberlain spoke up.
“It’s one of the rare few times when she’s back for dinner with us, let her eat in peace.”
“That’s right, just enjoy your dinner, Luodi.” The Second Lady heaped more food onto Feng Luodi’s plate, and started to eat.
Feng Luodi quickly scooped food into the plates of the three adults, feeling her mother’s gaze on her all the time. She sat down quietly.
“I promise not to return late anymore, Mother.”
The First Lady smiled, and finally started on her dinner.