Chapter 101 – Sawdust
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don’t read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
The bodies were carried away while Ji Yunshu returned to her prison cell.
Jing Rong quickly brought the corpses of Lord Wei and Madame Wei back to the mourning hall in the Wei mansion. After Jing Rong’s imperial bodyguards put the corpses back in their respective coffins, they stealthily hid on the beam roof without neither god nor devil sensing them. Everything was back as it was, as if nothing had happened and the corpses had been there all along.
Wei Yi laid down next to the coffin and started to whimper. Every time he did, he used his sleeve to wipe his tears before they spilled out of his eyes.
Seeing him this miserable, Jing Rong truly felt distressed. Jing Rong turned to Lang Po and said, “Pass my order. Inform everyone in the Wei mansion, especially that housekeeper, Wei Fu, not to mention about his parents’ poisoning in front of him. They also cannot mention the matter concerning Miss Ji. I want him to have some peace of mind while mourning his parents. This time, you don’t need to come with me. Look after Wei Yi.”
Lang Po lowered his head. “Yes, as you wish your Highness.”
Jing Rong once again rested his sight on Wei Yi. He walked over and began conversing with him, “Wei Yi, didn’t you say that your mother didn’t want you to cry? So, you can’t cry anymore. You have to let them leave with peace in mind.”
Wei Yi cried and sniffled a few more times before inhaling deeply. Then, he turned to Jing Rong. “Big brother, you said that I can save Shu’er.”
“Yes, she’s fine. Don’t worry about her.”
“Is Shu’er really alright?” asked Wei Yi with widened eyes.
Jing Rong nodded. “Yes. So for the next few days, you have to stay here and take care of your parents’ final matters.”
Wei Yi energetically nodded, then immediately tidied the mourning clothes he was wearing before going back to kneel in front of the altar. After wiping his tears, he stared at the two coffins. “Dad! Mom! Yi’er won’t cry. Yi’er promises you that I will be obedient and behave, so don’t worry about me. I can take care of myself.”
A breeze blew, the flames of the few candlelights flickering. In retreat, Jing Rong appeared to be in deep thought. Then, he ordered Lang Po to remain with Wei Yi while he quietly left the place.
He directly went to that room in the reception hall. Since that place was the crime scene and Magistrate Liu had already sealed the perimeter to preserve it, no one had entered the room ever since.
As he pushed open the doors and entered, his nose was assailed by a dense bloody smell! He lit a candle and began to meticulously examine the whole room.
Two chairs and a table were left at a crooked angle, likely when the servants carried off the bodies. They must have knocked on these furnitures at that time. On the ground, the blood had dried and obviously, nothing had been cleaned.
On the table, there was a teapot with two teacups. The tea water was black because of the contamination, caused by the poison test that was conducted. Everything had been preserved and nothing had been moved by anyone.
He brought the candlelight near the teacups and carefully examined them for a moment. According to Ji Yunshu’s autopsy, the poison inside the teacups should’ve come from their lips. If so, someone must have put it in the wine during the banquet yesterday night.
Knowing that point, he left the room and went to find the servants to interrogate them about the wine yesterday, and to find out if anyone had tampered with the drinks. He was about to move the candle away when something inside the teacup caught his attention; there was sawdust stuck on the rim of the teacup. If it wasn’t for his meticulous observation, it would have been easily overlooked.
This was the result of observing Ji Yunshu during her investigations of criminal cases, which made him more alert to the small details.
He took a handkerchief from his belt and and wiped the rim of the teacup with it, collecting the sawdust within. Afterward, he carefully folded the handkerchief and tucked it back under his belt. Finally, he snuffed out the candlelight and left the reception hall.
He immediately went to the kitchen. The place had been a complete mess ever since the banquet yesterday. With Lord Wei and Madame Wei passing away, there wasn’t any time for anyone to clean up everything. Within the kitchen, several servants were busy with their tasks. They stopped for a moment after seeing a new face in the kitchen. “Who are you?”
“I’m an old friend of Lord Wei.”
Once again, he used the “old friend” excuse. The answer remained as effective as before since the servants didn’t ask any further and returned to their tasks.
Fortunately, Wei Fu wasn’t present today since he had to go to the courtroom for the trial. If he was here, he would have recognized Jing Rong and revealed his identity as a prince.
“Are those the tablewares your masters used during the feast?” questioned Jing Rong.
One of the servants replied, “Yes. There wasn’t any time to clean it up yet.”
Jing Rong no longer spoke as he observed the tablewares in front of him. After a short moment of reflection, he inquired again, “Who was in charge of the banquet wine? And where did the wine come from?”
“That… The wine came from our residence. After the wine bottle is filled by the wine jar, it would be sent back.”
“Which tableware did your lord and mistress use yesterday?”
Another servant pointed to a set of tableware. “Those over there.”
Jing Rong looked in the pointed direction and saw a neatly arranged and almost covered set of tablewares. Unfortunately, they were already cleaned and dried. The servant, who had pointed, started to explain. “Milord had instructed us before the feast that he would receive noble guests which required the use of proper sets of tableware.” As he spoke, he pointed a particular set. “This is the set used by milord and mistress.”
The set of tableware was composed of two pairs of chopsticks, a wine bottle and two wine cups, in addition to two pairs of exquisite bowls and plates. Such a magnificent set of tableware truly deserved to be found in a wealthy household!
Jing Rong muttered in a low voice, “They have already been cleaned, how am I going to check it?”
Regardless, Jing Rong still took the wine bottle and the two wine cups and stated, “I’ll be borrowing them for a bit.” Before the servants could realize what was going on, he had already escaped without leaving a trace!
At first, he planned to take those things to Ji Yunshu, but as he contemplated the idea and saw that the day was getting late, he decided against it in order to let her rest tonight. He would bring everything tomorrow. Hopefully, what he had found would be of use to Ji Yunshu.
At this moment in the prison.
It was unclear whether or not Jing Rong had bribed the jailers, but Ji Yunshu was transferred to another cell, one that was quite similar to Madame Jiang’s cell. It was furnished with a table, a chair and a bed which also included a quilt. It even had two hot furnaces!
She barely went inside when she heard sounds of activities coming from outside before hearing the echo of hurried footsteps approaching her cell.
It was Luan’er, bringing with her a four layered lunchbox and a blue cloak. As she took in the inside of her young miss’ cell, her worry lessened a bit, but it didn’t stop her from tearily looking at her young miss.
After the jailer opened the cell door, Luan’er quickly went inside. She put everything on the table and pulled Ji Yunshu close. Her voice was filled with distress as she spoke. “Miss, you must have suffered.” She choked from her upheaval of emotions.
“Luan’er? Why did you come?”
“I went back home to kneel and beseech milord to save you. Right now, he must have already left for the yamen to find Lord Liu. Young Miss, nothing will happen to you.” Her tone was a bit grave as she was doing her best convincing herself that her words were true.
Ji Yunshu sneered. “Luan’er, don’t be stupid. This time, it’s impossible for father and grandmother to save me.”
“That can’t be! Milord will save young miss. You didn’t kill anyone, so nothing will happen to you.”
Seeing Luan’er filled with tears, Ji Yunshu couldn’t bear shattering the hope her young maidservant firmly believed in.
She went along with Luan’er. “Alright, alright! Stop worrying about me. I can take care of myself.”
“Hmm!” Luan’er pursed her lips and energetically nodded. Immediately after, she took the cloak and draped it over Ji Yunshu before opening the four-layered lunch box, revealing several plates which contained only pastries Ji Yunshu loved to eat!
“Miss, it’s cold here. Your body won’t be able to endure it. What’s more, I baked some of your favorite pastries. You should eat a bit more.”
“Okay, calm down. I can take care of myself, so don’t worry.” Ji Yunshu grabbed Luan’er’s hand and told her, “You shouldn’t stay here. In the case something happens, I don’t want to involve you.”
“I don’t want to scare you, but truthfully, I am not completely optimistic about the current situation. Besides, I am in prison and dealing with certain matters is quite inconvenient. Luan’er, listen to what I say. If misfortune befalls me, I left you money, take it and leave the Ji family. Do you understand?”
She spoke every word while looking straight at Luan’er’s eyes, fearing that the little girl wouldn’t listen to her.
The maidservant shed tears while shaking her head. Her expression completely showing her extreme unwillingness to part with Ji Yunshu. It caused Ji Yunshu to grip her hand tighter.
She pressed on. “You must listen to what I say.”
“But Miss, I don’t want to leave you. Milord and Old Madame will certainly think of a way to save you.”
“Luan’er, just do what I say.”
“Miss, you will be fine.” The naivety of this foolish little girl was quite a rare thing.
Ji Yunshu’s hand gently wiped the tears off Luan’er’s face. After a short moment, she pushed the other away.
She spoke with an unwavering expression. “Go back quickly. Promise me that you won’t involve yourself with this matter.”
“Miss! Let me help you.” Luan’er tried to close the distance between them with small steps, but Ji Yunshu retreated each time, keeping their distance unchanged.
“You don’t want to listen to me?” Ji Yunshu uttered harshly.
“No, it’s not that.” Luan’er hurriedly shook her head. “I… promise you. I will obey you.”
“Then, hurry and leave.”
Luan’er was extremely reluctant to leave Ji Yunshu, but despite the aggrieved expression, she still acquiesced. While biting on her lips, she paced around a bit. Seeing that her young miss was unwavering in her decision, she left while turning back three times at each step.
After Luan’er left, Ji Yunshu’s resolute expression gradually loosened, replaced by one of sadness. If something bad really happened to her, she absolutely didn’t want Luan’er to be implicated. She had to harden her heart otherwise her maidservant would refuse to listen to her.
She lightly sighed as her sight landed on the pastries placed on the table. Her slender fingers picked up a sticky rice pastry and brought it to her mouth. She took a small bite of it, the sweetness slipping on her tongue and washing away the bitterness inside her heart. Like the fluttering of a butterfly wing, her lips slowly arched.
In a room within the yamen.
Magistrate Liu’s expression was grave as he fixed the cold tea in front of him. His hand clenched into a fist.
A runner came in to notify him. “Milord, Lord Ji has come.”
Ji Shuhan came! Your daughter was imprisoned. As her father, how could you not come too?
Grenn’s Rants Corner
I like soundtracks.