Chapter 229 – Waiting to Be Slaughtered
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don’t read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
‘Ji Li?’ Jing Rong froze, scared by her reply.
“Are you telling me the truth? Is he really the murderer?” He asked, with a grave and skeptical tone.
“Yes, he is the murderer.” Ji Yunshu replied, her voice tinged with desolation.
“That wasn’t what you said before.”
“At that time, I didn’t have any evidence. Now, it’s different. He is the culprit as all the evidence points at him. Besides, I already wrote the report. By this time, the Emperor should have received the report from the capital governor.” Her statement remained level, but her expression contained a rare ruthlessness.
By the time she finished speaking, she reached her desk and picked something up. Then, she added, “After this case is concluded, let’s quickly unseal the coffin and start investigating the Lin Capital case which is our priority.”
“Ji Yunshu!” He stressed her name.
Yet, Ji Yunshu pretended not to hear him. She continued to fiddle with the object in her hands until Jing Rong went to her side and grabbed her shoulders. He forced her to faced him and questioned her again.
“Do you swear that what you say is the truth?”
She looked back at Jing Rong without the slightest guilt. She resolutely answered, “The murderer is Ji Li.”
“Good. Since you said so, I believe you.” He let her go. His previous doubts were completely swept away.
Soon the Emperor requested the presence of all civil and military officials in the palace. Jing Rong immediately left after changing into his formal court robe.
Since Ji Yunshu wrote in her report that Ji Li was the murderer, this would certainly shake the relationship between the two nations. A Great Lin official decapitated a Qujiang General. This was naked provocation!
Qi Zhen had two options, either he agreed to Su Ziluo’s terms, returning the two cities, thus averting the war; Or he declared hostilities and they marched to war, emulating once again the battle of Cangshui from five years ago where blood would flow like a river!
However, no emperor since ancient times would be willing to go to war without consideration. Hence, the court was shrouded in a dignified atmosphere.
At that moment, Ji Yunshu stood still in her courtyard, watching the falling petals. Her mind was tranquil unlike the state of upheaval she felt yesterday.
Later that day, news spread from the palace. The Emperor had declared that tomorrow at the hour of the horse1, Ji Li would be executed for his crime. As for the matter of the two cities, there was no mention of it.
Two days later, the day of the execution.
The Ministry of Justice’s prison.
Ji Li was sitting on a straw mat. He picked up a rice straw and moved it around in his hand. The window above his ceiling opened and a silvery light beamed down on the yellow straw mat.
The rolling of wooden wheels could be heard echoing from the distance, growing louder as it approached Ji Li’s cell. Finally, silence fell, but not for long as the jingles of iron chains could be heard as the jailer unlocked the door. When the door opened, Li’er pushed Su Ziluo in.
Ji Li lowered his head, focusing his attention on the straw pinched between his fingers. An ambiguous and cold smile was plastered on his lips.
He slowly raised his head after a long time, facing Su Ziluo’s icy gaze. His stare was like millions of knives, impatient to slice him into shreds.
“You’ve finally come?” he said in a cheerless voice.
“You seem to have been waiting for me.” His expression was solemn as he spoke.
“Now, what last words do you have?”
Ji Li chuckled. “His Majesty already sent his edict. What else do I have to say? Should I argue that I didn’t kill him, or should I beg you to forgive me?”
“You deserve to die!” His tone was level, but the hatred was palpable.
Ji Li snorted at Su Ziluo’s outburst. He flicked the straw in his hand, letting it fall to his feet before saying, “You should have died on the battlefield five years ago. Am I right, Ji Pei?”
Su Ziluo had a shallow smile when he heard that name. He tilted his head but remained silent.
Ji Li leaned back to the wall with his hands crossed on his knees, sitting crossed-legs like a sage would. “Etch into your memory that your life has been saved by me and Ji Huan. Without us, you would not be here today.”
“Then, should I thank you?” he asked dully.
“What do you think?”
He tightly frowned while the hands on the armrest tightly clenched it. “You’re my father’s murderer. Have you forgotten about it? Your sword had cut short his life.”
Ji Li pondered a bit. “It turns out that the defeated general who I finished off was your father.” There was pride on his face.
Su Ziluo came closer, his sight fixated on Ji Li. “I’ll give you two choices. One, suicide. Or two, die in my hands. Now, choose.”
“What? Do you think you can escape from here after killing me?”
“You don’t need to worry about that. I have can handle that part without a problem. Besides, your Emperor already announced your execution. So, it’s justified if you commit suicide…”
“Hahaha…” Ji Li shook his head in disdain.
It seemed as if he was waiting for something, thus he didn’t show any fear.
Seeing his reaction, a shallow smile crept on his mouth. “Are you waiting for people to come save you?” he asked.
‘Ah?’ A realization hit Ji Li.
“Secretary Ji, you are a smart man, so you realized by now that a homicide case which involved the welfare of two countries will leave you with no ally. Therefore, you already put into place a self-rescue plan. If the Emperor convicted you for the murder, you will find a person similar in appearance, smuggle him into the prison to take your place at the moment of execution.”
He had no qualms in revealing Ji Li’s goal and plan as if he took part in it himself. Ji Li’s expression sank as soon as he heard Su Ziluo, and his mind quaked in shock.
Su Ziluo continued, “If you are still hoping for your plan of stealing the dragon to switch for a phoenix to succeed, kill that thought for the one you’re waiting for is no longer of this world.”
“What did you say?”
“Your plan won’t work, Ji Li. A criminal must bear the consequences of his wrongdoings. Be it you or me, this applies to everyone.”
Right after, Ji Li opened his mouth to say something, but Su Ziluo promptly used his thumb to press a button on his wheelchair, activating a contraption. A white string shot out and swiftly coiled around Ji Li’s neck.
Ji Li lifted his head and bent it back while his hands grabbed the string, attempting to pull it off without much success. His face took on a redder shade as the feeling of asphyxiation grew stronger. No words could be uttered, not even the ones to ask for forgiveness.
Su Ziluo coldly watched Ji Li glaring at him with bulging eyes, with fear and disbelief across his face. This was the expression he wanted to see on Ji Li.
Ji Li’s hurried gasp reverberated within the gloomy prison cell. He felt as if he was a bird trapped in a cage, waiting to be slaughtered.
Grenn’s Rants Corner
Is revenge all that worth?
Now that I think about it, SZL could be a protagonist with his own story. I mean tragic past, lost his father, fall in love with his enemy’s sister, almost got killed by his enemy’s family, paralyzed legs with maybe no chance of healing, etc. He chose the road of avenger, leaving behind his affections, clinging to revenge as he thinks love his now forbidden to him considering his legs.
- Hour of the horse = 11am – 1pm ↩