Chapter 111 – Rebellion?
On a February night, a drizzle fell covering the world with the pitter-patter sounds of rain. As the temperature dropped, the rain turned into falling snow. The snowflakes fell one after another, piling on layer upon layer of white. It didn’t take long before roofs and pavements were nothing but mantles of whiteness.
Under the roof of a certain house, there was a room brightened by lanterns with all four walls covered in white satin, fluttering as the wind blew in. As the wind came in, the light flickered, projecting shadows and light onto the bleak and mournful atmosphere that complemented the white snow.
On such a night, Wei Yi was kneeling in the mourning hall. His back ramrod straight like before. From time to time, he would throw joss paper into the burning brazier.1 After two days of crying, even his tears have dried.
Most of the servants within the Wei mansion were kneeling outside, draped in mourning clothes and wearing white headbands. Their heads were lowered, while sobs could be heard coming from the crowd.
As the first glimmer of light marked the beginning of a new day, the funeral procession to send the Wei couple to their ultimate resting place departed.
Two memorial tablets nestled inside Wei Yi’s hands as he led the funeral procession. The virgin expanse of snow burned into his eyes. The snow that settled on his thick eyelashes melted into a pearl of water, limpid and translucent, as it fell on his cheek. It was no longer possible to discern which one was a tear and which one was water.
Right behind him, there were two coffins covered in white cloth. Eight people were needed to lift one. The men carried the two coffins and followed behind Wei Yi.
There were people at the back, front, and on the sides of the procession, carrying white funeral banners and throwing joss paper into the air. As they proceeded, they chanted sutras until they reached their destination: the burial site determined through feng shui.
Ji Yunshu only followed them halfway. After that, she watched them ascend the mountain until the last moment. Jing Rong silently stayed behind with her. He followed her line of sight before deciding to inquire, “Are you really not telling him? Afterall, it concerns his parents.”
Ji Yunshu shook her head. “It’s unnecessary.” Her words stemmed from her wish to protect Wei Yi. She wanted to preserve his pure and honest nature.
As both people returned to the city, Lang Po rushed to them along with several imperial guards. His expression revealed a sense of urgency.
“Your Highness, something bad happened. Lord Ji brought people to cause trouble at the yamen. He plans to pressure Lord Liu into releasing Ji Yuanzhi. Right now, they must have reached the prison.”
‘That old fox is truly brazen!’ Jing Rong was infuriated. “If he dares to take away the man, I, this prince, will pick out his tendons!”
‘Did you grow up eating fireballs? How violent!’ Ji Yunshu stepped forward. “We cannot let my father take Ji Yuanzhi away.”
Ji Yuanzhi was already convicted as a murderer. If he was rescued, it would be highly unlikely that she could trace his whereabouts after her father hid him. If it does happen, wouldn’t the case remain unresolved?
Thus, they sped up and rushed to the prison.
During the same time at the entrance of the prison, Ji Shuhan was coming out with Ji Yuanzhi.
The magistrate and several jailers tried to obstruct the Ji father and son, but they were unable to do so. The reason is that Ji Shuhan went in front and shielded his son. Although the jailers pulled out their swords, they didn’t dare use them.
The jailers couldn’t act, but Jing Rong had no reservations. Forty meters of distance separated him from the entrance. It was enough for him to swing his arm back, grab Lang Po’s sword, pull it out in one motion, and “throw” it with all he had at his target. As his hand released its grip on the sword’s hilt, the weapon cut through the curtain of snow like an arrow released from a bowstring; only a cold light could be perceived. With extreme accuracy, the sword lodged itself into Ji Yuanzhi’s shoulder.
“Jailbreak! Jailbreak! Someone is trying to jailbreak!” Magistrate Liu was loudly shouting as he ran behind several jailers. ‘This is too scary!’
The jailers went into a defensive stance and turned toward the direction the sword piercing Ji Yuanzhi came from. They only relaxed their stance when they saw that the culprit was Jing Rong. Magistrate Liu revealed an awkward expression when he realized he scared himself for nothing. He armed himself with his glib tongue and approached Jing Rong to welcome the latter with clasped hands. “It turns out to be your Highness. This humble official was under the impression that…”
Jing Rong raised his index and middle finger together, interrupting the magistrate’s words with his gesture. His expression was cool as he stared at Ji Shuhan’s now timid attitude. “It seems like Lord Ji doesn’t put me in his eyes. I sent Ji Yuanzhi to the yamen the other day, but now you’re rushing to bring the man away. I really underestimated your courage.” Although his words were not heavy, the arrogance in which he spoke with contained a deterrent pressure.
Ji Shuhan hurriedly justified himself, “Your Highness, this humble official doesn’t dare, but…”
“But my son didn’t kill anyone. That servant girl killed herself. This criminal charge shouldn’t be put on his head. Your Highness is wise. I beseech you to clearly investigate the matter.”
Jing Rong sneered. “Although threatening someone to kill herself doesn’t earn him capital punishment, he still cannot escape punishment.”
“That’s right! The evidence is undeniable. His crime cannot be erased,” exclaimed Magistrate Liu. At this moment, his lung capacity appeared to double in power. Afterall, Jing Rong was his protection amulet. The magistrate now felt he really has backing. Despite being an official, he kept encountering iron walls: Madame Jiang and now, Lord Ji.
However, Ji Shuhan remained firm; he must take away his son today.
Rooted in front of prison entrance, Ji Yuanzhi’s face looked weak and was covered in perspiration. He looked at his father with imploring eyes. “Father, please, you must save me!”
Hearing his son pleading for help, his resoluteness increased in the fold, which translated into the sharp expression from his brows. He raised his head and looked straight at Jing Rong. His tone became a bit more oppressing as he spoke, “Your Highness, you must know that my two eldest sons are important figures in the imperial court. One of them is the left secretary of General Yi. The other was bestowed the title of Changlin General by the emperor. They are heavily valued for their talent. Even if your Highness doesn’t consider this aspect, can you at least rethink the political situation…”
“Presumptuous!” His reprimand was like thunder filling people’s ears with dread. Jing Rong’s solemn face was quickly turning dark. His eyes which were glinting with coldness gradually suffused with flames of fury that expressed his desire to skin people alive! Never in his life up until now did someone threaten him. Not to mention using the political state of the imperial court to do so! ‘Is that rebellion?’
Even Ji Yunshu, who stood behind him, felt his fury.
Ji Shuhan was inwardly shocked. He suddenly realized he made a faux pas. “Your Highness please forgive this lowly official. Those are my true words, but I had no intention of angering your Highness.” His voice was faintly trembling.
“Ji Shuhan, you should know that troubles come from the mouth. Your rude words felt like threats to me. Even if you use all the names in your Ji family, do you think you can cover the sky with your hand? Or do you want to bear the crime of rebelling against the imperial household?”
‘Rebellion?’ Even he, Ji Shuhan, couldn’t afford to bear such a tall hat. “I… I absolutely didn’t have any intention or meaning to imply that. Please reconsider your Highness. This lowly official is only anxious because of my young son. He didn’t kill anyone. Although he was beside that servant girl at the time of her death, he shouldn’t be charged with such a crime.”
“Then, what about premeditated murder?” The words came out from Ji Yunshu, dull and indifferent. She stepped forward with an icy expression, watching the shocked Ji Shuhan.
Despite calling him “father,” the tone was freezing like ice. Her expression darkened as her lips faintly pulled up. “I’m fully aware that this body, hair, and skin are given by the parents. I should forbear your actions and wait until time takes you away, but I was wrong.” Her last four words were suffused with extreme coldness.
Grenn’s Rants Corner
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