Sorry I’m so late with this release m(_ _)m
I injured my right hand recently after hurting my left…so I decided to take a little break from translating. Sorry. I’ll have the next chapter up ASAP. I’ll rush to finish them tonight. Plus, a little bonus for me taking a break. Look forward to it!
Once again, if any mistakes are found, please leave a comment, and I’ll fix them. Thanks!
The next day.
Ying Tian Governmental Office.
In the bright spacious lobby, a sign with Zheng Da Guang Ming* imprinted on it was hung up in the center most area. The characters were lightly carved in and the green jade embedding contrasted with the red wood frame. Contrasting with the dark red frame were a few large flowing gold* characters glittering with sparkling light. It was exceptionally blinding to the eyes.
Two rows of bailiffs* dressed in deep-red clothing making them appear as if they exuded with strength were separated onto the left and right sides, their hands held onto a long stick, and had somewhat of an imposing appearance.
The villagers which were granted permission to listen to the trial could only stand at the very back of the lobby. They were practically standing outside of the lobby, but even so, the villagers still stood there in perfect stillness. All the villagers’ bodies were as straight as it could be, and their heads lowered to as low as it could be; they didn’t even dare to breathe out loud heavily.
Except for one person….
Lou Xi Yan’s gaze swept across while he himself crossed his arms over his chest. The lonesome view of his back leaning against the door frame while he had crossed over and sat on the door sill gave him a fierce and tyrannical appearance which was very unfitting with the governmental office’s lobby image. His worn-out hat covered up a large part of his face, and although his expression wasn’t visible, Lou Xi Yan was able to guess, his face was definitely filled with anger at the moment.
Thinking of this, Lou Xi Yan was feeling very delighted for no reason.
He was feeling delighted, meanwhile someone else was overflowing with anger.
The hour of Wu* was twelve noon right? Those idiots didn’t sleep a wink at all last night. She didn’t know what they were tossing and turning around about, but once it was daybreak this morning, while the sky only had the first few glimmers of dawn, they dragged her to the front of Ying Tian Governmental Office, and they waited until now while welcoming the sun!!
The clothing she wore were coarse and thick, so her back was drenched with sweat long ago. The hat was so tightly put on that air wasn’t able to flow through, so on her forehead and face were also drenched and dripping with sweat. Zhuo Qing’s agitation rose to an even higher point while she stared at the refreshed and cool Lou Xi Yan who was sitting at the official’s desk.
The Lou Xi Yan today was different from the Lou Xi Yan from yesterday. He wore a purple and gold white jade bundling-crown* on his head, and a dark red and flowing gold changpao. A half-leaning-half-crouching gold qilin* was embroidered on the front part of his robe, its eyes were bright, and it seemed to have taken on the stance of something waiting to take action after having gained power. On his pure black silk brocade belt hung a round green jade pendant. On his face was his never changing bright shallow smile like always, but even then there was no one who dared to act rash in his presence.
“This Subordinate of yours pays my respects to Prime Minister Lou.” The Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Justice Wu Zhi Gang was half bowed over while his heart was anxious and frightened at the same time.
Although both the Ministry of Appointments and the Ministry of Justice are both overseen by Prime Minister Lou, the Criminals & Prison Division is usually the one in charge of re-examining cases, and you would absolutely never see Prime Minister Lou within the prefectural government office. He was only a minor forth rank official, how could he not be terrified!
Lou Xi Yan sat down on the chair by the side, slightly raised his hand, then weakly smiled and replied: “Forego the formalities.”
Wu Zhi Gang slowly straightened his body, but no matter what he would never dare to sit down. Prime Minister Lou was present, so how would he dare to sit down in the master’s seat*. Standing beside the sentencing-table*, Wu Zhi Gang asked respectfully: “Prime Minister Lou, the reason you came today is……”
Lou Xi Yan had on a relaxed smile: “The several hundred villagers of Niu Jia Village joined together to present a petition, in order to declare the case of Lin Bo Kang stealing and switching the army provisions as an injustice. What’s your opinion on this?”
Lou Xi Yan had asked him very casually, but Wu Zhi Gang’s complexion was flushed white. One of his hands had cupped into a fist and covered by his other hand, and he hurriedly replied: “I’m sure Prime Minister Lou understands, this case has both human testimonies and material evidence, and Lin Bo Kang had already pleaded guilty himself, there is absolutely no chance for this case to have been wrongly carried out!”
“No chance for this case to have been wrongly carried out?” Lou Xi Yan looked towards the married woman at the side of the lobby, and asked: “Madame* Lin, do you have anything to say to that?”
Zhuo Qing slightly lifted up her eyes and looked over, she could only see one fifty plus year old married woman who was already kneeling down on the floor. Her voice was somewhat trembling, but her reply was extremely loud and clear: “Replying to Prime Minister-daren, this married-commoner* had come to visit my husband on this month’s eighteenth which is also the third day after the governmental office convicted my husband. My husband said that he didn’t steal and switch the army provisions, and that he had been wronged!”
The married woman’s voice only just barely faded away, but Wu Zhi Gang was already unable to hold it back, and urgently replied: “How absurd! It’s all written in black and white, it even has his personally marked sign on the confession document. How is it acceptable that just because he had said he was wronged then we should believed he was really wronged! Private adviser*, hurry and bring the file to Prime Minister Lou to have a look!”
“Yes yes yes.” The man who had been standing by the side being timid the entire time immediately rushed towards the inside of the inner hall. Not long after, he ran out holding a folded object in his hands.
Wu Zhi Gang hurriedly took the file, and respectfully presented it with both hands: “Prime Minister Lou, this is the file for the case. Both the human testimony statement and the material evidence are here, so it won’t allow for him to deny his crimes!”
Zhuo Qing was half leaning against the stoop, her clear eyes were side glancing Lou Xi Yan, waiting for him to respond.
He had even found Lin Bo Kang’s wife and called her here, so he must have seen this case’s file already. It’s only been a night’s time, what else has he done?! This man’s still young but he has already reached the highest position an official can obtain; he definitely has reasons for doing so.
As expected, Lou Xi Yan didn’t take the file, rather he put on a troubled appearance, and sighed: “One of you claims that the case had been given it’s justice, and the other keeps on saying over and over again that injustice had been served. Since it’s like this, let’s just bring the convict here, this official wants to personally inquire about it.”
Wu Zhi Gang froze, but didn’t dare to say anything. Then told the two bailiffs by the side in a lowered voice: “You two, hurry and go bring the convict Lin Bo Kang to the lobby here.”
“Yes.” The bailiffs accepted the order and went.
Unexpectedly once they went, they went for over half and hour. Zhuo Qing faintly felt something bad was going to happen. Lou Xi Yan’s complexion however was the same as always, not twitching in the least, one hand was on the seat and was tapping down every once in a while. Only the Wu Zhi Gang who was painstakingly standing beside him had a thin layer of sweat seeping out from his forehead, but standing beside Lou Xi Yan, he didn’t dare to make any movements.
With great difficulty, the two bailiffs who went came back. Wu Zhi Gang scolded them in a lowered voice: “What took so long?” Seeing that there was no one behind them, he hurriedly asked: “Where is he?”
The two were both quietly panting endlessly. One of them flusteredly replied: “Replying to daren, Lin Bo Kang he…he had committed suicide to escape punishment this morning!”
Committed suicide to escape punishment?!
Zhuo Qing secretly took notice of Wu Zhi Gang’s expression.
After he heard the news, he almost tipped over, his complexion changed from white to green, seemingly as if he had also received a big shock, which didn’t look like it was a fake reaction. Lou Xi Yan didn’t say a word, his brows had slightly knit together. Perhaps he too didn’t expect that he would unexpectedly die either!
Could it really be suicide; Zhuo Qing subconsciously denied that idea, because—– it was just too coincidental, the timing was too perfect!
“Our benefactor is dead?!” The villagers encircled around outside widened their eyes, all were unable to believe it, and wanted to crowd inside, but Prime Minister Lou was present, so they didn’t dare to act rash, and could only worry helplessly.
“My husband……” Once Mrs. Lin heard she immediately toppled down and paralyzed on the ground, and she sobbed endlessly with her head hung down.
As if she suddenly thought of something, Mrs. Lin suddenly climbed up, then pointed at Wu Zhi Gang and wailed: “My husband was wrongly accused, it’s impossible that he committed suicide. It must be you people, you people must have murdered my husband!”
Mrs. Lin crazily pounced towards Wu Zhi Gang, but was blocked by the bailiffs on the two sides with their long sticks, her mouth was still cursing while being unforgiving however.
Wu Zhi Gang came back to his senses, and flusteredly and exasperatedly shouted out loudly: “Shut up, ignorant women and children shouldn’t roar and bellow in the law court! Drag her out!”
Wu Zhi Gang carefully looked towards Lou Xi Yan, in fear that he would get angry. Fortunately Prime Minister Lou had on a appearance of pondering, as if he hadn’t noticed that shrew’s excuses.
“Let go of me!” Mrs. Lin desperately struggled, but in the end she was still unable to win against those two big grown men. One bailiff from the right and one from the left pulled her up and dragged her outside.
Just as Mrs. Lin was about to be thrown outside, a cold and indifferent voice quietly sounded out: “Why the rush to chase someone away so quickly, suicide or homicide, we’ll know when we see the corpse.”
– *Zheng Da Guang Ming (正大光明): Means “just and honorable”. I was deliberating on which to use, the literal translation or the transliteration, but decided to use transliteration just because…it’s more appropriate? And I think it’s easier to imagine than “Just and Honorable” written on a sign.
– *Flowing gold (流金): When the gold was melted it was then morphed into a liquid shaped thing. The color of it is bright and beautiful and it doesn’t have a fixed form/pattern/shape. Something like a free-flowing design?
– *Bailiff [of feudal yamen = feudal governmental office] (衙役): The best way I can explain this is: they’re not quite officials, but rather the minions of the official in charge of that governmental office who carry out tasks like giving punishment and bringing in the convicts + kind of guarding while a trial is ongoing and whatnot.
– *Hour of Wu (午時): Basically 11AM – 1PM. In Ancient China, time was separated into two-hour subdivisions. One of these subdivisions are called “shichen (时辰)”. Interesting fact, the names for these subdivisions are actually the same as the name for each of the different Chinese zodiac signs (rat, ox, tiger, etc). Wu (午) happens to be the horse.
– *Bundling-crown (束冠):
In Lou Xi Yan’s case…he’s wearing a bundling crown that’s either completely white jade and purple+gold decorations. By the way, this is not the official English term since there’s no such thing in Western society, it can also be called binding-crown, or according to Google Translate, beam-crown.
– *Qilin (麒麟): or ‘kirin’：
– *Master’s seat (主位): The seat of highest ranking. If you sit here, it displays you are of a higher rank and great power. Nowadays, there is still a master’s seat or “seat of honor” – which is now reserved for the person who’s oldest or the owner or host of a place.
– *Summoning table (案桌):
– *Madame (氏): I didn’t use “Mrs.” since 氏 indicates for her maiden name, but she’s married at the same time so. If I used -shi, it’s technically a Japanese transliteration since they share pretty much the same spelling and sound, but meaning and usage is different, so I thought Madame might fit best since I mostly see it used with the meaning for maiden name (the other usage would be for famous people in things like reports and newspapers which is also the meaning for -shi in Japanese language.)
– *Married-commoner (民婦): A title belonging to a married woman of commoner status. It’s a different term if they’re unmarried woman/men + commoner status, or whatever status. I tried making it sound the most natural as it could, but ancient terms don’t translate that well (+ they’re super emphasized in ancient society), so forgive me.
– *Private adviser (师爷): A private assistant attending to legal, fiscal or secretarial duties in a local governmental office (or yamen). Basically the secretary of the official, but is privately hired, and has no relation to the royal court.