Chapter 356 – Don’t Be Afraid, Shu’er
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don’t read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
The Jade Extraction Bottle! There were rumours that the bottle contained the final, therefore only, yeast that the old master had left behind, the very same one that he had used to brew the best wine in the world. There once was someone who had hoped to buy the yeast from the old master, bidding an extremely high price for it, but the old master did not once relent. The amount that he gave up could have fed the entire Zhao Family for generations to come.
When the old master passed away, he left the Twin Tiger Dagger to Zhao Huai, and the Jade Extraction Bottle to Zhao Qing. Zhao Huai felt unfairly treated by his decision, turning their winery heritage upside down in a fit of rage, choosing to live out their days instead as bandits. Zhao Qing had always followed Zhao Huai’s call; he was willing to be the Second Master of a group of bandits, being labelled as ‘arsonists and murderers’, never once questioning Zhao Huai’s plans.
When Zhao Qing offered to give him the Jade Extraction Bottle, Zhao Huai’s eyes widened in anticipation, but then narrowed once more in suspicion. He oscillated between these two actions for a long time…
Zhao Qing continued, “If these remains were not your doing, then I have the right to know who did this since this wine was the one we brewed together in Father’s memory. Don’t you want to know as well? As long as you promise to release those men, I can even give you the Jade Extraction Bottle that Father left to me.” These were his conditions! Zhao Qing was familiar with Zhao Huai’s Achilles heel; that brother of his had desired the Jade Extraction Bottle for a very long time.
But, Zhao Huai was still not completely convinced. He looked around the room at his brothers, frowning in determination, “So many of my brothers were killed by those men. If I were to simply just let them go, where would the face of my Gaoshan Gang go? How could I give my fallen brothers an explanation?” His fists were as tightly balled up as his inner turmoil; if he did this, he would be unable to explain himself to his brothers, but right in front of him was the very Jade Extraction Bottle he wanted for ten years! What should he do?
Zhao Qing replied, “Then have you ever considered this? That person’s men are all elite professionals, do you know their background? What if they were sent by the government? If you kill those men, the Gaoshan Gang might really cease to exist forever!” He was trying to remind him, but also trying to change his mind.
Da Chui was pacing around Zhao Huai as the exchange occurred. He finally mustered up the courage to address Zhao Huai, “Boss, you can’t be taken in by his words! Those men aren’t officials or part of the imperial army – none of their sedans or baggage carry the imperial symbols. I think, they are just ordinary travellers. We have been through thick and thin with our forty brothers over the years; we can’t let them die in vain – we must have our revenge!”
“Boss, please think this through!” Da Chui pleaded, resembling the devil who whispered in Zhao Huai’s ear, arguing against the angel on the other shoulder.
Zhao Huai narrowed his eyes, suddenly spinning around to grab Ji Yunshu by her throat.
“Shu’er!” Wei Yi shouted, but was caught by Da Chui and pushed to the other side. Ji Yunshu was initially startled by his swift movement, but she was not scared – those eyes of his were harsh and cold, but without a trace of killing intent.
“Speak, what exactly are you people!” Zhao Huai asked, his hands firmly around her neck.
Ji Yunshu was forced to look up at him, but it was difficult for her to use her voice given the pressure on her neck. She squeezed out her remaining strength, sputtering, “You can… try to kill me, see… see if you people can remain alive.” Her face was bursting red from the effort, but her gaze was as hard as steel. Zhao Huai relaxed his grip just before Ji Yunshu was about to suffocate and threw her aside. She flopped to the ground, her palms scraped from the hard floor.
Zhao Huai switched targets; he moved to Wei Yi also gripping his neck in the same manner as he did prior before, except there was no pressure behind it. “Since he’s unwilling to tell me, then you idiot will. If you don’t, I’ll kill him.” He pointed at Ji Yunshu with his other hand.
Wei Yi’s eyes widened, squirming about as he signalled that he would be honest, “My father’s family name is ‘Wei’ and my mother’s family name is ‘Liu’. We lived in Jinjiang together. Shu’er’s family name is ‘Ji’, I don’t know what Shu’er father’s or mother’s names are, but I heard from my mother that Shu’er’s mother died a long time ago. Shu’er’s such a poor thing. We grew up together in Jinjiang. The idiot brother brought us all here – if you want to capture someone, capture him, don’t kill my Shu’er. Mother told me to look after Shu’er and never let Shu’e get hurt. A man must live up to his words so I have to take care of Shu’er, and Shu’er’s my fian…” He was cut off before he could finish the word ‘fiancée’.
“Shut up!” Such a chatterbox, how annoying! He’s giving me a headache!
Zhao Huai pushed him away, this time glaring at Ji Yunshu, “I don’t care who you are or what your status is. Anyone other than this boss are mere mortals!”
Ji Yunshu puffed, scoffing, “My conditions are the best option for you and your men. You should accept them and save yourself any future trouble. If you kill us today, someone will come after you next time – a tooth for a tooth, and an eye for an eye; you may release your anger, but you’re paying with your lives. Is it worth it?” She spoke clearly, unwavering.
Zhao Huai could not deny the pull her words had. He gestured, ordering, “Bring them away and watch them properly. Nothing must happen to them.” Four bandits grunted, dragging Ji Yunshu and Wei Yi off the ground and away.
Zhao Huai next vented his anger onto Zhao Qing, “Since you’re already here, take your time. Take it as a trip down the memory lane, and revisit where you spent your childhood. I’ll consider what you and that rascal said.”
Zhao Qing kept quiet. He knew that he could not leave the village that day, and that his men outside were most likely already captured by Zhao Huai’s underlings. Zhao Qing and his two subordinates, including Ba Hu, were monitored by Zhao Huai’s men. They were not held captive but were definitely being watched very closely.
Night had long since fallen. Ji Yunshu and Wei Yi found themselves back in the woodshed where they were locked previously. This humidity inside stung more than it did earlier in the day, tickling their noses. Without the little silvers of moonlight seeping in through the broken window, they would not have even been able to see each other, especially as there were no lamps in the shed.
Wei Yi pulled up some dry grass from the grassy patch beside him, laying it flat on the ground and helped Ji Yunshu over, “Shu’er. Sit here, don’t fall ill.” Ji Yunshu leaned against his shoulder, slowly regaining her strength.
Wei Yi gently held her hands in his, bringing them up next to his mouth as he tenderly blew on it, slowly. “Don’t be afraid, Shu’er. Tell me if it hurts. Mother said that if I blow on it, it’ll get better. Shu’er, is it still painful? I’ll blow again.”
There was a thin, tiny cut on her palms from when she fell earlier. A warm smile took over Ji Yunshu’s facade at Wei Yi’s care, “Wei Yi, I’m alright.”