I haven’t seen Nan Huaijun ever again since that encounter.
I assume this grudge that is also not a grudge has been properly settled.
If we meet in the underworld someday, it will save me from having to explain.
On the other hand, Ji Yu has regularly started to call me.
These days that I have become A’zhi, I rarely see Ji Yu.
Most of the time it is Xia Wan or Lai Ying who taught me the rules.
There were other maids who came to me to convey Ji Yi’s words.
He seemed very busy, and was not in a hurry to order me to do something.
The first time I went to his room, he was wearing a white single-layer robe.
In front of him, there was a game of chess.
He was supporting his forehead with a pair of phoenix eyes looking at me with a smile.
“Do you know how to play chess?”
He asked me.
I shook my head: “I don’t.”
He rested his chin with one hand, and with a non-offensive look, pointed at the seat on the opposite side of him: “Sit down, I’ll teach you.”
I sat down on the opposite of him.
He took all the chess pieces on the chessboard and put them inside a rattan box.
Under the flickering lights, his fingers were white and slender.
His fingertips and purlicue1is the space between the thumb and the forefinger had thin calluses2patch or hardened skin, a pair of good-looking hands of a chess player.
“Do you know why I am going to the Fan Kingdom?” He asked as he collected the chess pieces.
“Might as well guess.”
I raised my eyes to meet his gaze.
There was a hint of sharpness in his careless smile.
I then thought about everything he has done recently, and said: “Young master came from the Yu Kingdom.
I heard that the Wu Kingdom and Zhao Kingdom formed an alliance to send troops to start a war with the Yu Kingdom.
The Yu Kingdom had been declining for a long time already, and little by little, they retreated in defeat.
The Wu and Zhao army has already approached the capital of the Yu Kingdom, letting out the words that the destruction of the Yu Kingdom is just a matter of another day.
If another country comes to the rescue, they will attack the enemy country after the destruction of the Yu Kingdom.
The Yu Kingdom and Fan Kingdom have always had a good relationship.
Is the young master entrusted by the monarch of the Yu Kingdom to ask the Fan Kingdom for assistance this time?”
Ji Yu smiled and did not answer, but asked: “Who told you that I came from the Yu Kingdom?”
I looked at him, and as expected, he knew that the eight maids wouldn’t tell me anything.
It seems that they do not feel close to me, and even if it was Zi Kou, she would rarely mention about their previous journeys with Ji Yu to me.
All of this was incited by his command.
He still held his guard against me, and that’s normal.
I shook my head: “No one told me.
When I was sorting clothes for the young master before, I saw a dark reddish purple robe, which is the noble system of the Yu Kingdom second only to the royal family.
It looked very new and was placed on the top, so it ought to be new.
With the current situation in the Yu Kingdom, there must be something to request from the young master, which is why they would send such an honorable gift.
I then assumed that it was probably related to this war.
The Yu Kingdom is adjacent to the Song Kingdom and Fan Kingdom.
Young master took the waterway to Fan Kingdom through the Song Kingdom this time, which is also the fastest way.”
Ji Yu stroked the chess piece in his hand, and was silent for a while before looking at me with a smile yet not a smile: “You guessed well.
I’m really curious, how can you know so many things?”
The circumstances of the world, the local conditions of every kingdom, the regulations of feudal rituals.
“I was taught by the grand scribe of the Qi Kingdom when he was still alive.
Everyday I would read books, and listen to stories.
After the fall of the Qi Kingdom, I wandered around from place to place and saw some of the diverse aspects of the world.” I said very calmly.
Ji Yu lightly laughed, with a bit of inquiry and approval in his eyes.
The white chess piece in his hand was placed on the center of the chessboard, and he said leisurely: “Let’s play chess.”
I followed Ji Yu’s instructions and played a game of chess with him back and forth.
He was very patient, and his step-by-step guidance was also obviously meant to go easy on me.
It seems that today is very relaxing, just wanting to pass the time with me.
I remembered something, so I asked him: “I heard from Xia Wan that we will arrive in Pucheng County tomorrow.
The boat will reach the shore and dock to replenish supplies.
Can I get off the boat?”
“You are going to Pucheng County?”
“I will return before sunset, and will not miss the time when the boat sets off sailing.
If you do not feel reassured, you can order someone to come with me.”
Ji Yi smiled, but did not obstruct me: “You can go, I will order Li Ding to accompany you.”
Among Ji Yu’s many servants, the nine maids along with me had the highest status.
The rest were a group of male servants, and there were about twenty of them.
Each of them were strong, and Li Ding is the leader of this group of servants.
He is a person with a lot of power, and is usually a person who does not like to talk.
Early the next morning, I arrived a little earlier than the appointed time.
Li Ding was already waiting for me.
He didn’t smile much, and after greeting me, he did not speak anymore.
He carried a lantern while walking next to me, and I followed him off the boat.
There was a lot of thick fog in Pucheng today, and the vast expanse of white fog everywhere made it hard to distinguish.
I touched my way to a small path, and inquired about the outskirts of the village along the way.
I grabbed a slim old man and asked: “Excuse me, may I ask if this is the Lujia Village?”
The old man nodded, stating that it is.
“Does Lu Shi’s widow reside here? Does Lu Zhoushi live here?”
The old man looked at me surprised, then looked at Li Ding who was beside me, and said: “Last year, Lu Zhoushi starved to death during a natural disaster.
Why are you looking for her?”
I was silent for a moment and did not answer his question: “Then is his child still alive?”
“His youngest son died of an illness two years ago.
Now there is the eldest son who was raised by Lu Shi’s younger brother.” The old man shook his head and sighed: “He died on the battlefield, and there wasn’t much financial support given either.
It is really miserable to leave behind this child and mother, such a disastrous year.”
The fog somewhat cleared a little, and I saw that we were in the field of a farm.
The crops were sparse and thin.
I asked the old man to take me to find Lu Shi’s son.
The old man said that today is the anniversary of the death of Lu Zhoushi.
Lu Shi’s eldest son should now be in the cemetery of the village.
This day was very coincidental.
Li Ding and I followed the old man to the cemetery of the village.
At this time, the fog was still not small.
The cemetery looked very gloomy and ghastly.
When the old man had almost arrived at the cemetery, a number of crows croaked3a deep hoarse sound made by a crow) repeatedly one after another.
He looked a bit frightened, turned back to me, and said: “How about the young lady waits here, Dou Zi should be back very soon.”
I shook my head, and stretched out my hand to Li Ding: “Lend me the lantern, I can go alone.”
“Young master wants me to protect the young lady.” Li Ding did not allow me to go alone, nor did he look at me.
I looked at Li Ding for a while, and said: “Today is the full moon.
I heard that the Zheng Kingdom has a social custom of it being taboo to enter a cemetery on the day of the full moon.
I thought you were from the Zheng Kingdom.”
Li Ding’s usual grim and silent expression finally wavered a little, and he looked at me with doubt: “How does the young lady know…”.
Half way through the question, he stopped talking and instead, replied: “This humble one is originally from the Zheng Kingdom, but after following the young master along the journey to various nations, I also know the principles of the local customs.”
1is the space between the thumb and the forefinger2patch or hardened skin3a deep hoarse sound made by a crow)
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