Chapter 53 Abysmal: Detained
Situ’s face darkened when he heard Constable Zheng’s words. “No one, dares to speak like that to me.”
“Your Grace, I am just trying to do my job.” Constable Zheng was unmoved.
Scarlet tugged on Feng Luodi’s sleeve. “Young miss, what should we do now?”
Feng Luodi placed her left hand on Situ’s arm that gripped her elbow, gesturing for him to let her go. “Abiding by the law, I’ll have to follow them to the yamen for questioning. I cannot resist, especially seeing as how Father is the Chamberlain of Justice; it’ll reflect badly upon him.”
Situ’s jaw tightened. “Don’t you dare go with them! There’s nothing a small Administrator and his constables can do about it if I stand my ground.”
“Situ!” Feng Luodi glared at him. “The Administrator is a reasonable man, and I’m sure he wouldn’t resort to immoral methods to interrogate me.”
“Hmph!” Situ snorted. “That’s because you haven’t seen how ruthless the man can get!”
Feng Luodi pulled him closer and whispered into his ear. “I want you to send a message to my Father and tell him about my situation! He must be careful not to fall into any traps they have laid out for him!”
Situ backed out of her grip, and looked closely at her. He nodded. “Keep your wits about you when you’re in the yamen.”
Feng Luodi nodded, and Situ turned to Constable Zheng. “I do not wish to see any of the underhanded methods used on her during her questioning. Did I make myself clear?”
“Of course, Your Grace. Her detention is only routine; the Administrator would not interrogate her so soon.” Constable Zheng stepped forward to escort Feng Luodi.
Scarlet followed for a few steps, wiping away the tears that streamed down her cheek. “Young miss!”
“Your young missus would be fine.” Situ said impatiently. “Man the shop. I will head to the Feng household.”
“Yes, your Grace.” Fei quickly held onto Scarlet as they watched Situ stalk out of the shop.
“The Duke looked really scary just now!” Scarlet sniffed. Fei patted her back wordlessly, but a light flashed through his eyes.
Feng Luodi followed behind Constable Zheng as they headed back to the yamen. She’d asked a questions about the case of the contraband salt, but the constable had been tight lipped about the details. From what she’d learned, she gathered that the evidence and the witnesses gathered against her were enough to indict her; the only way to clear her name was to find evidence that the head of the merchants were lying about her involvement. However, all that depended on the Administrator’s willingness to go the extra mile to prove her innocence.
Feng Luodi was immediately shown into her cell upon reaching the yamen – she did not even get the chance to meet the Administrator.
“Argh.” Feng Luodi sighed, looking around her cell. At least the bedding is clean and dry, and the cell looks clear of cockroaches and rats. I thank my lucky stars for that.
She sat down by the edge of the bed and sighed again. “Seems like all sorts of things can happen to you when you’ve spent enough time in a place, eh?” Feng Luodi shook her head and tried to make light of the situation she was in. However, before she knew it, she was overcome by a familiar giddiness.
The circle of light appeared in her vision, and so did Phantom, wearing his usual black clothes and emotionless face.
“Didn’t you say that my soul and my body is already in sync the last time we met? Why is this happening again?”
“Your emotional state has been too unstable lately.” Phantom spoke flatly, “I haven’t seen you in quite some time, and I never thought that you would be in jail when we meet.”
Feng Luodi sat down carelessly on the floor, or at least, what she felt was the floor. “My days have been too smooth, I’m afraid; I was caught off guard by surprise.”
“Are you sure it came without any warning?” Phantom floated over, and hovered near her.
Feng Luodi looked up at him. “What do you mean?” A notion flashed through her brain. If this plot to implicate me was pre-planned, I might have been targeted from the beginning! Yes! The shopkeeper of the Mingxuan Zither Emporium! He had recognised that I was from the Feng household the first time we’d met, despite the fact that Feng Luodi had barely left house before that. He was also the one who had told Scarlet the whereabouts of Wind Crane! Did I fall prey to his machinations from the start?
Feng Luodi buried her face into her hands. “Argh! I am so foolish to not have noticed it! My life in this world has been far too smooth sailing, I guess. I have a good family, and friends of high standing that do not mind my comparatively humble birth. No, to be exact, my friends treat me extremely well. How lucky am I!”
Phantom interrupted coldly. “Have you ever thought about why they might be treat you so well?”
Feng Luodi shied away, and looked up at him warily. “What are you trying to say? Don’t tell me that they are part of the plot that has landed me in this state as well!”
Phantom almost rolled his eyes at her knee-jerk behaviour. “I’m telling you to think of it in a positive way.”
“No. I don’t want to think about it.” Feng Luodi hugged her knees and shifted away from Phantom.
Silence filled the cavernous space.
Phantom broke the silence. “Luodi.” His voice seemed much softer.
“Hmmmm?” Feng Luodi did not move.
“You can actually choose to stay in this world, y’know. That way, you wouldn’t have to search so hard for all these Guqin. The better part of the year has already passed since you’ve came to this world, and you’ve only managed to find two Guqin. And look where the search has gotten you! You could just choose to stay.”
Feng Luodi’s head shot up, her eyes blazing. “You know I can’t do that! I cannot leave my family and friends back in my world!”
“But you have family and friends in this world too.” Phantom was insistent. “You’re acquainted with many outstanding young men in this world; you can simply marry one of them! Can you deny that you can easily disregard the relationships that you’ve forged in this world? Can you leave them behind without a care in the world?”
Feng Luodi looked at him, and it was a while before she spoke again. “I’ll admit that I cannot leave this world behind easily; I’ll be filled with guilt for my Mother and Father. But you know what I’ll say: I cannot let go of my real parents, and I have to go back to my world.”
Phantom sighed. And Feng Luodi continued slowly. “I will not wed someone from this era, Phantom. I cannot accept the fact that I’ll have to share my lover with another woman. If I give my only heart to a man, how can he give his to two women?”
Feng Luodi laid her head down on her knees again, remembering her past relationships back in the 21st Century. She had had a few boyfriends in the past, but all of them ended up cheating on her. Perhaps I’m a little too sensitive on that issue, but I cannot stand my boyfriend being close to other girls. I question my charm every time my boyfriend cheats on me. I often wonder if it’s because I’m not good enough, that they will choose another person. I try to change, and that has caused me to change from the confident girl I once was into a scared and meek young girl. Finally, I understood. Perhaps, it was simply because we hadn’t loved each other enough in the past.
From then on, I am only going to give my heart to someone who loves me with all of their being, and someone that I love with all of mine. I slowly built back my confidence, and devoted my life to the other important aspects that I had neglected. I’d worked hard, I was filial to my parents, and I’d spent time with my friends. I was waiting for my Prince Charming to come for me, but before he could arrive, I’d ended up in this world.
“I have only one heart, and I’ll give it to the man I love. He has one heart as well, and it should be given to me. I’m not asking for fairness in love, but for the pristine and pure feelings that my love is born from.”
“Phantom, I will not stay in this world. I will find the ten Guqin, and return back to my world – no matter what it takes.”
Phantom listened quietly to her declaration. “I understand.”
“Sigh.” Feng Luodi gathered her feelings, and asked again. “Phantom, when can I return to Feng Luodi’s body? It’s a little scary to be fainting so randomly.”
“Just wait a while more.” Phantom’s voice was flat. “You were emotional again.”
Feng Luodi looked at him wordlessly. What kind of a rule is that!
“Thank you for informing me about this, your Grace.” The Chamberlain politely showed Situ out of the Feng household. “I will take care of it, and I’m sure my daughter will be safe in the prison for the time being.”
“Alright then.” Situ walked alone back to his residence, recalling the Chamberlain’s extremely polite but distant attitude towards him, remembering how Feng Luodi had said that she was barred from seeing him. Has he chosen a side? Situ frowned. That is possible, but I don’t remember hearing about it. The Chamberlain of Justice had always been righteous and upright about such matters.
He took a few steps along the streets, and decided to head to the yamen. The Administrator was much more cunning and ruthless than he had seemed, and he was afraid that Feng Luodi would not be able to hold her on against him.
“I am honoured by your presence, your Grace. To what do I owe this honour?” The Administrator smiled genially as he led the way into the yamen.
Situ was straightforward. “Where is Feng Luodi? I want to see her now.”
“Uhm…” The Administrator hesitated. “Feng Luodi has yet to be questioned, and by the law, she is not to accept any visitors.”
“Why is she not questioned yet? She has been here for quite some time now.” Situ looked flatly at him.
The Administrator smiled again, as if unable to feel Situ’s annoyance. “I’m sure you’ve heard about the case, your Grace. It was too smooth. I’d wanted to investigate the background of the merchant ship to check for any indications that the evidence was faked. I’d intended for Feng Luodi to stand in the court with them to show her case, before I can decide if she is guilty.”
Situ glanced at him bemusedly. “You’re trying not to offend anyone, aren’t you? Such a smart move, huh? No wonder you have been the Administrator of the capital for so many years.”
“What are you talking about, your Grace?” The Administrator was respectful. “I am just following by the book.
“I’ll say this one last time. I want to see her now.” Situ did not look at the Administrator.
The Administrator clenched his teeth together. He did not want to offend the people who had set Feng Luodi up, but he knew he was going to offend the General in front of him if he did not act – the latter far more dangerous than the former. “Yes, your Grace. I will lead the way immediately.”
When they reached the cell that had held Feng Luodi, they were greeted by unconscious Feng Luodi that lay on the bed.
“Didn’t I say that you were not to do anything to her?” Situ roared. He stepped forward and broke the chain that held the gate together with his bare hands. Quickly dashing in, he held Feng Luodi in his arms.
“Luodi, wake up! Wake up!”
Feng Luodi remained unconscious, but Situ breathed a sigh of relief when he felt warm air leaving her nose. “What happened here? Why is she unconscious?” Situ’s eyes were as cold as ice as they bore holes into the Administrator.
The Administrator mopped his brow. “I have no idea, your Grace. Nobody did anything to Miss Feng! Someone, get the physician!”
“No need for that.” Situ stopped him with a wave of his hand. “I’m bringing her back to my residence. You can set a room in my residence as her temporary cell.”
The Administrator’s jaw dropped. “But…but that is not according to the rules, your Grace.”
Situ carried Feng Luodi’s limp form in his arms. He raised an eyebrow. “Do you need me to request a royal decree from his Majesty? You yourself know that there is something wrong with the case, so get down to solving it already!” He left the room briskly, leaving the worrying Administrator in the jailhouse.