Chapter 95 – Kabe-don1
Edited by Marci
Ji Yunshu squinted her eyes into pretty crescents and flashed a glance at Wei Yi, slightly annoyed by the wording of his remark. But since he went through the pain to make two lanterns, she decided to forgive him. She turned around and ordered to Luan’er, “Could you go fetch some flour paste, paper, and stationery for a drawing?”
“Yes, I’ll go right away, Young Miss,” answered Luan’er as she went away to fetch the items Ji Yunshu needed.
Wei Yi dropped his chin on his hands and asked, “Shu’er what do you need these things for?”
Ji Yunshu flattened the paper on the desk, dipped the brushes in the aquarelle, and started to slowly work on a sheet of paper. Wei Yi was surprised and observed her silently. The tip of the brush traced delicate arcs against the white background. Each point and stroke was carefully arranged. It was not long before the rough shape of a thin branch of plum flowers in full blossom appeared on paper. Ji Yunshu dipped the brush in red ink and slowly sculpted the flower petals. As she continued to work on the drawing, a faint fragrance subtly spread through the air, carried by a gentle wind which blew into the room, as if one of the vivid petals was swept off the sheet of paper. It was a drawing worthy of Ji Yunshu’s fame. Finally, Ji Yunshu dropped her brush and fanned gently with her sleeves, thus drying the last stroke of ink.
“Shu’er, your drawing is very pretty,” complemented Wei Yi. His face almost touching the paper as he craned his neck to examine the drawing closely.
Ji Yunshu gave him the drawing. “Cut this paper into eight pieces with identical sizes and stick them to the sides of the lantern.”
“Do we really need to cut it?”
“It’ll look better this way.”
Wei Yi didn’t quite understand Ji Yunshu’s explanation, but he nevertheless obeyed her suggestion and followed Luan’er to proceed with the task.
Ji Yunshu picked up her brush and produced yet another drawing. She cut it into eight pieces, just like the first one and fixed them to a second lantern. The pieces connected into a sphere and the eight sides of the lantern became a canvas upon which the spray of plum flowers extended infinitely.
Dusk fell gradually outside. After Wei Yi shouted in impatience to go outside, Ji Yunshu finally agreed to his request and they left the Wei Mansion with Luan’er. They brought the two lanterns with them. The amber glow from the candle flame within the lanterns accentuated the beauty of the flowers on the paper.
The sea of lanterns on the side of the main street shone just like the stars in the nightly sky above them. They were of different shapes and colors, but they were all hung from a single string which ran along the road into the unseeable distance. It reminded Ji Yunshu of a rather familiar sight: Christmas. The street was filled with people, and one could only see an endless forest of human heads in every direction.
Ji Yunshu strolled with Wei Yi and Luan’er toward the Hall of Gathering Frost, surrounded by well-dressed couples; It would have been more appropriate to call it a Lovers’ Festival rather than a Lantern Festival.
“Shu’er, look!” Wei Yi was very excited. He approached a shop and tried on a theater mask. He mimicked the way the actors moved on the stage.
“Do you like it?” asked Ji Yunshu with a laugh.
“Yes.” Wei Yi nodded.
Ji Yunshu took out some silver and paid for the mask. “Here, my gift to you.” But Wei Yi was only getting started on causing his share of trouble. He ran into every corner of the street without stopping, and Ji Yunshu almost lost sight of him several times. The objects, toys, and food that they bought accumulated in their arms as they made their way to the Hall of Gathering Frost.
Jing Rong’s sharps eyes caught Ji Yunshu when she was still far from where he sat. She stood out in the crowd just like the lantern she had stood out from the darkness of the night. She was dressed plainly, without any expensive ornaments or jewelry, or a face hidden between a layer of carefully applied make-up. But, she was the one behind all of the fervour hidden in his eyes. Jing Rong could see no one else but Ji Yunshu. A smile climbed up his lips, and he whispered, “A fleeting dream? Nay, she’s as real stone.2
Ji Yunshu entered the Hall of Gathering Frost and followed a clerk to Jing Rong’s room on the second floor. She met Jing Rong’s passionate stare as soon as she entered the room and quivered from its intensity. Wei Yi was rather at ease; he threw all of the knick-knacks he bought into Lang Po’s arm and said, “Please carry this with care. If you break them, I’ll have you pay for them.”
“This…” Lang Po’s expression sank as his hands became loaded with more and more weird objects. He turned his head to plea to Jing Rong, “Your Highness…”
Jing Rong was rather amused. “Since Young Master’s Wei is telling you to hold his things, then hold them carefully.”
‘Does he really need to do that much for that little girl?’ thought Lang Po. He nevertheless obeyed his master’s command and held the pile of objects Wei Yi gave him. Jing Rong pointed to a seat right beneath his and said, “Please, Miss Ji, have a seat.”
“I want to sit too!” Wei Yi exclaimed and sat down where Jing Rong pointed at before the latter could object to it. He looked at the sumptuous meal on the table and asked, “Big Brother, can I take a bite at this?”
Jing Rong forced a smile and answered, “Yes, you can.”
‘Eat all you want. It’ll be even better if you stuff yourself to death!’ thought Jing Rong. The place he reserved for Ji Yunshu was occupied by Wei Yi instead, a strong statement for the presence and significance of the third wheeler.
Ji Yunshu lowered her head to hide a smile and quietly sat down across the table. Wei Yi already started his feast. “Hmmm, this is good. It’s even better than at home!” said Wei Yi between two mouthfuls.
“If you like it, I’ll treat you to a meal here alone next time, okay?” Jing Rong picked up a chicken leg with his chopsticks and dropped it into Wei Yi’s bowl. “You can have as many chicken legs as you want, just don’t fight for the heart with me.”
Wei Yi did not understand the nuance of that remark but Ji Yunshu certainly did. She immediately tried to change the subject of the conversation and pointed at the table with her chopsticks. “Look at all these delicate dishes. You are spoiling us, your Highness. I’m just worried that we won’t be able to finish it all.”
Ji Yunshu turned her head and said to Luan’er, “How about you sit down too. I’m sure that his Highness won’t mind.”
“I…” Luan’er was still quite intimidated. She would have stayed home had she known that they were going to dine with Prince Rong.
Jing Rong made a friendly nod towards Luan’er and said, “Oh yes, so you are Luan’er.”
Luan’er was baffled. ‘Does he know me?’ But she answered quickly, “Yes, this humble one is called Luan’er.”
“Then sit down with us. No need for formalities tonight.” Jing Rong then turned around and said to Lang Po, “Find a place to put whatever you have in your hands, and join us too.” It was much against Jing Rong’s plans. Five people ended up sitting around the table for the whole duration of the meal. The only taste Jing Rong remembered from the meal was the sourness from the vinegar, while it was a full platter of embarrassment for Ji Yunshu.
Wei Yi ate to his heart’s content, but Luan’er and Lang Po were frightened and were very cautious throughout the whole meal. The waiter finally brought the desserts: plum flower pies, rose shortbread, rainbow-colored cakes, sticky rice, sesame cakes, and fresh fruit. Jing Rong added a piece of rice cake into Ji Yunshu’s bowl and said, “Have a bite. The cake from here is very good.” His tone gave the impression that he was pampering her.
“Thank you, your Highness.” Ji Yunshu took the piece of cake and dropped it in Wei Yi’s bowl. “Here, eat a bit more.”
“Sure.” Wei Yi was not picky about this food and instantly swallowed the piece of cake. He seemed to enjoy the taste quite a lot.
Jing Rong was not ready to give up. He picked up a piece of fruit and was about to bring it to Ji Yunshu’s side when Wei Yi snatched it midway. “Thank you Big Brother,” said Wei Yi, and he gulped it down cleanly.
‘Hey, that’s not for you, you eternal third-wheel!’ thought Jing Rong.
Ji Yunshu showed another subtle smile; she was really wondering whether Wei Yi was doing it on purpose.
Jing Rong’s mood, by now, was as dark as the night outside. He was disgruntled until they left the Hall of Gathering Frost. Outside, the street was still occupied to its full capacity by the crowd. The sight of Ji Yunshu and Wei Yi carrying a matching set of lanterns delivered yet another blow to Jing Rong’s already dwindling satisfaction with the night.
“Hey, Shu’er, where do you think we should hang our lanterns? Mom has always told me that the higher it is, the better it is.” Wei Yi pulled on Ji Yunshu’s arm and seemed as happy as ever.
Ji Yunshu smiled and said, “We’ll find a good spot.”
“Well then, I’ll start looking for one!” said Wei Yi as he raised his head to search for a good location.
Suddenly, a group of seven or eight children ran into Ji Yunshu’s group. The children also had their own lanterns, and they seemed like scissors that cut the crowd in two wherever they went. Wei Yi, who was slightly ahead of the group, was suddenly cut off from the rest of the group.
“Young Master Wei……” Luan’er immediately chased after him.
Jing Rong squinted and ordered to Lang Po, “Follow her. Make sure that you don’t lose track of Wei Yi.”
“Yes, your Highness.” Lang Po’s imposing figure quickly sank into the crowd.
Ji Yunshu was also about to find an opening through the crowd to chase after Wei Yi, when Jing Rong caught hold of her arm. “Don’t worry, Luan’er and Lang Po are after him. He won’t get lost.”
‘Rather, I wouldn’t be terribly irritated if he did get lost…’ added Jing Rong in his head.
“But I’m still wor-” Someone suddenly bumped into Ji Yunshu’s shoulder. Under the impact, Ji Yunshu stumbled and fell into Jing Rong’s arms.
Ji Yunshu struggled to stand up, but Jing Rong held his arms around her and caught her in his embrace. “There are too many people here. It’ll be better if we go over there.”
“But Wei Yi…”
“I’ve told you that you don’t need to worry about him. Lang Po will see that he gets home safely.” Jing Rong’s voice sank, as if he wanted to show that he wouldn’t allow a retort.
Ji Yunshu was nearly glued to Jing Rong’s chest by the flow of people around them. The hand that held her shoulder pushed her firmly and made her too weak to try to break herself free. She followed his steps as they both moved toward the edge of the crowd. Ji Yunshu raised her eyes and saw Jing Rong’s face. His eyes were as if they were carved out of marble, cold and possessing an indescribable sharpness.
Jing Rong finally brought her out of the crowd, and she gave a sigh of relief. She immediately pushed him away with one of her hands and bowed her head down. “Thank you, your Highness.”
“Are you really going to distance yourself so?” asked Jing Rong in a voice which hinted at his unhappiness.
“Your Highness, you are a royal prince, but I am only-” Ji Yunshu’s response was cut short by Jing Rong’s sudden movement; he grasped both of her arms and pushed her body against the cold stone wall behind her. The suddenness of the movement, perhaps, caused the plum flower lantern to drop from her hands onto the ground. The next moment, Ji Yunshu had her back pressed against the rough wall and found Jing Rong’s face only an inch away from her own, her arms locked by Jing Rong’s against the wall.
‘This… a kabe-don?’
By the time Ji Yunshu frowned at the sharp stinging pain coming from her back, her eyes had already collided with the cool regard that Jing Rong was throwing her. Despite the coldness of the look, it seemed like a fire burned within Jing Rong’s eye, a flame of anger that will not be extinguished until it consumed Ji Yunshu.
“Ji Yunshu, are you really blind to my intentions?” Jing Rong was quite worried. It would even be fair to say that he was a little angry.
Grenn’s Rants Corner
Different types of kabe-don. Which one did Jing Rong use?
- The kabe-don in this context is a situation in which a guy slams his hand against the wall, pinning a girl against it. For more informations, click here. The japanese term was used because it’s the easiest and most well known term. Besides, cnovels often contain many words taken from japanese anime/manga culture. ↩
- This is most likely a reference to the passage below, 庄生枉得蝴蝶梦，楚王错逢巫山神, which itself is a reference to 2 tales
1- Zhuang Zi dreaming of the butterfly
2-King Xiang of Chu dreaming of meeting with a fairy woman
Basically mean that everything is but a fleeting dream. ” ↩