Chapter 216 – The Bet
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don’t read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
With the exception of some bottles of wine and the bloodstains on the floor, the room didn’t have anything out of the ordinary. She observed her surroundings, then she went to the slightly opened door and pulled it so she could take a look behind it. She lowered her head and noticed an indistinct mark on the floor. Her spirit was roused. She immediately crouched down and took out a handkerchief from her sleeve. She spread it over the footprint she discovered. Next, she pressed down on it so that the footprint would transfer to her white handkerchief. After it was done, she examined it and saw a semi-circular pattern on it.
‘What is that?’
Even after a long time of pondering, she couldn’t solve this piece of the puzzle, so she threw it to the back of her mind and put the handkerchief in her sleeve. She went to the table and picked up her things while glancing at Su Ziluo. “I’m done with my investigation for now. If you need anything, you can go find me.”
Su Ziluo maintained his indifference. “I’ll trouble Teacher Ji then.”
“No trouble at all. This is the Emperor’s command, so this investigation has now become my problem. I shall take my leave first.” She nodded at him and without hesitation, she took her sandalwood box and left the room.
Outside, several soldiers glared at her as she passed them by. She ignored them and took the stairs to the ground floor. However, after she went down the stairs, she suddenly stopped, lifted her head and looked up.
She didn’t move her gaze even as time continued to pass, but when Su Ziluo came out of the room, she immediately retracted her gaze.
“Teacher Ji, how was the investigation? Were you able to identify the murderer? Is the killer really Secretary Ji?” Who knew since when the capital governor had stood next to her, but he was there and asked with anxiety laden within his tone.
She shook her head. “For now, I have no answer to give you.” She looked around her and inquired, “Where is Prince Rong? Wasn’t he with you?”
“Prince Rong went to the prison of the Ministry of Justice.”
“He went there to look for Secretary Ji?”
“Hm. After you left, Prince Rong didn’t stay. He instructed me to send you back to his estate.”
She lowered her head and after pondering a bit, she nodded.
Ministry of Justice’s prison.
Jing Rong and Lang Po went inside, but before he could reach Ji Li’s prison cell, Prison Overseer Zu reminded them, “Prince Rong, the Emperor has ordered his arrest, so this humble official hopes your Highness will not make things difficult for me.” If the prisoner escaped, only death awaited him!
Jing Rong looked at him sharply. “Rest assured, this Prince won’t let you shoulder the responsibility if anything happens.”
“That’s good then!” He let out a sigh of relief.
Ji Li’s cell was in the most remote place of the prison. The prison was divided into two sections depending on the gravity of the crime. Ji Li “killed” a general of Qujiang on a diplomatic mission, so he bore a heavy crime. Two jailers would guard the cell at all times of the day.
Jing Rong motioned at the jailers when they reached the cell’s door. “You stay far away. This Prince has something to ask Secretary Ji.”
The jailers were caught in a dilemma. They glanced at Prison Overseer Zu. The latter’s mouth was slightly twitching. “Prince Rong, the criminal…”
Jing Rong promptly interrupted him. “There’s only one road leading out of the prison. This Prince has no intention of releasing the prisoner. The only thing you need to do is to stay a bit further away.”
Jing Rong sharply stared at them. Prison Overseer Zu trembled and hurriedly pulled away the other two jailers with him. However, they didn’t go far away, standing at a corner instead.
In his prison cell, Ji Li was sitting on the straw bed. His limbs were shackled with iron chains. In mere hours, his handsome face had undergone great changes: unshaved stubble could be seen on his chin, and his eyes were lowered without signs of movement.
Jing Rong approached the cell’s wooden barrier. He stood straight in front of Ji Li, towering over him. “Secretary Ji, you appear to be quite at ease in here. People sent behind bars usually look desperate and are rather noisy, but you are quite calm. I have quite a bit of admiration for your composure.”
Ji Li lifted his bloodshot eyes and stared at him, appearing as if he had just sobered up from his alcohol intoxication. The corner of his mouth curled up and he answered with a rhetoric question. “Prince Rong still has the mood to come and see me?”
“We did have a nice chat in my estate the other day, so how can I not come see you when you now are in deep trouble?”
‘How admirable! A big thumbs up for you!’ However Ji Li smiled with a meaningful expression. “Your Highness, you are not simply coming to see me, right? I assume that you might want to interrogate me about the situation yesterday and the truth behind it.”
“You are an intelligent man. Guess again why this Prince wants to ask you.” Jing Rong revealed a smile laden with hidden meaning.
Ji Li rose from the ground, and the clanging of the chains ensued. The sound reverberated loudly through the gloomy and cold prison, distorting into an eerie sound. He approached Jing Rong and grabbed onto the wooden stake, each of his joints contrasting on it. His pitch-black eyes looked straight into Jing Rong’s cold and austere eyes.
“If I’ve guessed correctly, the Emperor has appointed Teacher Ji for this case. Your presence here means that you don’t just want to know what happened yesterday. You’re planning on passing the information to Teacher Ji and let… him resolve this case quickly.”
Jing Rong wasn’t surprised that he had guessed correctly. Ji Li was a clever man without a doubt. “Since Secretary Ji knows that Teacher Ji is investigating your case, you better tell me everything in detail without missing a word, so we can help you clear off your charges and leave this place.”
“Leave?” Ji Li showed disdain. “Teacher Ji couldn’t wait to see me dead, how can he help me clear off my crimes?”
“What do you mean?”
“Is your Highness pretending to not understand?” Ji Li tightly clutched the wooden stake, killing intent suffused his expression. “You must not know my third little sister. She was the one who sent her close family to the prison and later burnt his corpse to ash. Do you think that such person will help me prove my innocence? Your Highness might believe, but I don’t. As long as I get out of here, the dead one will be her.” His tone was sinister. He was more than convinced that Teacher Ji is Ji Yunshu.
Jing Rong shook his head. “You don’t seem to know her very well.”
“No, your Highness is the one who doesn’t know her.” Ji Li vehemently refuted. He closed in to Jing Rong and declared, “How about we make a bet? Let’s bet if Ji Yunshu will save me.”
‘Huh?’ Jing Rong frowned. He didn’t understand why Ji Li would label Ji Yunshu as “merciless”, not to mention the confidence he had.
Jing Rong didn’t show any fluctuation in his expression. He stared at Ji Li for a moment before stating, “Good. If you want to bet, I’ll bet with you. If you didn’t kill anyone, she will certainly prove your innocence. Even if you want to die, you will have to leave before dying.”
Ji Li loudly laughed while retreating back into his cell.
After his mad laughter came to a stop, he leaned his back against the wall and slide down to the ground, hiding partly into the darkness. After a long moment, he finally started to narrate. “Yesterday after the banquet, General Yuchi invited me to the relay station to drink some more. We were only talking about trifling matters and nothing else. After a while, I passed out after having had one too many cups of wine. The next day when I woke up, he was already dead and I was holding onto a sword. Just when I was looking at the sword, someone opened the door and came in. I couldn’t explain myself and soon, the Emperor’s edict came and I was imprisoned here. That’s it! What I can I say more? Maybe I did kill him under the influence of alcohol.”
Grenn’s Rants Corner
Does anyone want to bet with them? With the number of plot twists so far, I’m not sure if the author will follow the normal logic of the protagonist being all holy.