Chapter Sixteen Who can carry the load?
Although it was daytime, the prison was still dark and gloomy.
After Li Yi stayed there for some time, he couldn’t tell the difference between the morning and the evening, and all his senses were numb.
Outside the prison, two large men with big swords and long whips patrolled back and forth day and night. The flame of pine torches flickered on the stone walls, outlining the figure of the guard who wandered around like a ghost.
“Young master, would you like some water?”
Li Yi shook his head weakly. The previous bowls of strong medicine had saved his life but did not cure the damage to his internal organs.
Now he had a low fever every day, and he was quite depressed.
Li Yi noticed that his vitality was rapidly diminishing. He understood the truth of quenching his thirst by thinking of plums (consoling himself with illusions). People had to look forward to something in order to have the hope of living.
He couldn’t think of a way to get out of this place, so he just skipped it and imagined what he was going to do after he got out.
The dumplings served at Sanxiang were delicious, but unfortunately the capital was in turmoil in early summer, so he didn’t get to eat them this year. He also wanted to get a dozen new nine-color paper sheets produced by Xia Feihuan. He heard that the newcomer in the celebration team was extremely handsome in a stage costume, so he was going to watch a big play this year and portray the beauty and the beautiful scenery…
The more he thought about it, the clearer the beautiful scenery and pleasing things became, and Ping An was tempted to join him, so the two discussed it with great interest.
Just as he was thinking about it, Wu Jin suddenly appeared. The guard behind him was carrying a desk and clean Xuan paper in his hand, and there were also many neat brushes and inks.
What else would Li Yi not understand? It was time for him to paint again.
“Master Wu, didn’t you say that you barely got thirty-six taels, how could you be willing to pay for me to paint? If no one accepts the painting, wouldn’t you lose the money invested in brushes and ink?”
Wu Bapi had never made a loss-making business, and Li Yi was really curious about what new tricks this guy had come up with.
Seeing that the desk, brushes and inks were all placed, Wu Jin personally instructed people to hang a picture of a spring mountain trip in a suitable place in the cell, looked around and said with dissatisfaction: “Go, get more candles and illuminate this room so that you can see the roots of your hair!”
Li Yi only found it funny. He didn’t even have to look at the unfolded scroll up close to tell that the painting came from Dong Ji, a scholar in Wenhua Hall. One of the offerings to His Highness when his crown prince father was一
Wu Jin wants to change the painting with a travel theme?
Now that he had normal brushes and paper, Li Yi was naturally sure that what he painted would not be seen as fakes. He really didn’t expect Wu Jin to figure it out one day.
“Master Wu, put away the painting. This subject is the most common. I will draw one for you. Please also ask Master Wu to give me some hot tea and porridge first, so that I have the strength to paint.”
Li Yi was so sick that he didn’t have much appetite, so he just wanted some hot and soft food to refresh his spirits.
Wu Jin smiled and said, “Give the young master something soft and hot.”
After a while, he turned to the hanging scroll again, pointed to it and said to Li Yi: “Do you think I don’t want to put it away? It is more precious than you. I borrowed it with a lot of effort. It can’t be damaged even a little bit. But if I put it away, how can you draw an identical picture if you don’t see it? I can tell you, I want you to draw a dipper with a gourd as a model (follow the existing pattern without modification), and it must be a good one.”
Only then did Li Yi know what Wu Jin’s idea was. His blood surged and he almost couldn’t stand still.
This Dong Ji was only a seventh-rank official in front of the crown prince in the past, and in the past, copying his paintings was not worth the materials spent on it. Now, because Li Yi’s situation in prison was so bad, this man wanted him to do the most disdainful thing in two lifetimes, to steal and imitate the works of others!
Before Li Yi could speak, Ping An was already shaking his hands and scolding: “It’s just painted by a mediocre talent who studied ink under my young master! It’s a shame for you to make the young master learn from him to draw a travel picture. How could you even come up with such a crazy idea?”
“Huh, don’t refuse a toast only to be forced to drink a forfeit, you have to paint today, you have to paint, and if you don’t paint…”
Before he finished speaking, Ping An interjected again: “If you dare to use me to threaten young master again, I’ll knock my head and kill myself and you’ll be left with nothing! Although I…”
Li Yi interrupted his words, and the whole room went silent in anger and shock.
“I know that Master Wu refuses to give up the silver that has got into his hands. Dong Ji’s current paintings are barely worth two hundred taels.
If you are willing to listen to me, I will paint a different picture for you, and you can sell it for a thousand taels.
If you don’t want to listen to me, don’t involve other people. I am the only one in this prison who has not yet been subjected to your methods, so I will go with you to the torture chamber.”
“Young master!” Ping An couldn’t help crying out.
“Please.” Wu Jin smiled carelessly, with certainty in his eyes. “Let’s see who can carry the load at the end?”
Suffocation, pain, can’t live can’t die.
Li Yi was repeatedly pressed into the water and gradually lost strength to struggle. In a daze, he returned to the purgatory in his dreams, his eyes, ears, mouth, nose and whole body submerged in blood.
He feared it was the end.
The last thing he wanted to think about was the ghost floating in the deepest part of his heart.
What he saw was Zhao Shen.
The torturous pressure on his back that he couldn’t get rid of suddenly disappeared. Li Yi struggled to get away from the basin and felt like his entire lungs were going to be puked out. Blood seeped from the corner of his mouth. His upper body was drenched and he shivered involuntarily.
Everything around him was surprisingly quiet as Li Yi kept coughing, tears streaming down his face.
In the hazy light full of floating shadows, there was a man.
In the room full of demons and evil spirits, in the torture chamber in hell.
What he saw was Zhao Shen.
Zhao Yuan stared at Li Yi deadly, gritted his teeth and endured without moving a step. In this secret prison, too many pairs of eyes were watching, the tired remnants of the previous dynasty, a group of prison guards, Zhou Yi and the crowd of Luan Yiwei who came with him.
Zhao Yuan couldn’t move. Except for rushing in and dragging away the prison guard who was torturing Li Yi, he could only watch Li Yi fall into the mud and cough up blood.
The only word that could be used was ‘forbearance’.
When Zhou Yi saw that his face was turning black, he gestured with his eyes to the little eunuch who had come to deliver the decree, to read it quickly.
In his will, the emperor said that except for the officials of the Ministry of Public Security and the subordinates of the Ministry of Household Affairs who had been found guilty of corruption and law-breaking, anyone who was willing to submit to the new dynasty would not be considered a sinner and would be released from prison immediately.
As soon as the decree was read, there were cries resounding throughout the prison. Everyone worshipped the kindness of the emperor. The joy of escaping from death could not be overstated.
As soon as the shackles opened, Ping An rushed to Li Yi’s side and helped him stand up. “Young master! We’re saved!” He couldn’t help jumping up and down.
When he saw that Li Yi was soaking wet and his hands were ice-cold, Ping An was so anxious that he wanted to take off his own shirt and cover him with it.
Zhao Yuan couldn’t bear it anymore, took off his coat and handed it to Ping An.
Ping An was not surprised to see Zhao Yuan, but he didn’t care about it at the moment. When he saw brightly colored beautiful dragons on Zhao Yuan’s robe, he subconsciously glanced at the clothes in his hand.
“In mourning, plain green overcoat, no obstructions.”
Zhao Yuan said it while looking at Li Yi. In fact, since he entered the prison, his eyes had never left Li Yi.
Li Yi felt very uncomfortable because of this gaze. He obviously didn’t want to wear Zhao Yuan’s clothes but his intuition warned him not to make a sound.
“Thank you Your Highness for your clothes.”
“Emperor’s grands… Master Li is well because of His Majesty’s grace. His Majesty amnestied you all in the first place. This lord did nothing more but lift his finger.”
Out of habit, Zhao Yuan almost called Li Yi’s old name in public. With everyone looking at them, the two of them kept silent in a tacit understanding, exchanging high-sounding words. Both of their performances were successful.
Half an hour later, Ping An helped Li Yi out of the prison.
The clear sky was far away; Li Yi took a deep breath, and when he raised his eyes, colorful clouds flew by.
In a narrow alleyway, a small green tarpaulin cart was parked. The coachman and the guard saw the two of them from a distance and hurriedly said, “His Royal Highness ordered us to wait here for a long time, so please get into the carriage at once.”
Ping An opened his mouth and glanced at Li Yi. Li Yi was silent, only nodded slightly.
The cart, inconspicuous outside, was finely arranged and elegant inside; meditation incense was still burning there. Li Yi was served a cup of hot tea by Ping An and his expression relaxed. Then he quickly passed out.
When he woke up again, Li Yi was inside a gauze canopy of countless blue curtains above his head. The morning light was faint, and the fragrance of meditation incense that had not dissipated in the room was coming and going.
Even after sleeping all night after fainting, Li Yi was still so tired that he couldn’t open his eyes. He only heard in a daze that someone was talking, and it was Zhao Shen’s voice.
Oh no, it was Zhao Yuan.
“I trust you. In the time of the crown prince Chongde of the previous dynasty, you were always in charge of the emperor’s grandson’s health. Even though you returned to the private sector now, you must still remember the rules. I don’t need to remind you that in the past when you were on duty at the Imperial Hospital, the most important thing was to keep your mouth shut.”
“Don’t worry, Your Royal Highness, I dare not reveal a word.”
Li Yi was a little confused. Wasn’t this Lin Ji’an who had treated him since he was a child? After Prince Qin usurped the throne, he resigned from his official position as the head of the Imperial Hospital, and the clinic he had set up in his hometown was not in the capital. Zhao Yuan really had a way to find people.
After a while, another person spoke behind the curtains, saying, “My lord, it’s all done.”
Zhao Yuan’s voice was as cold as a blade, “How did you deal with it?”
“They have all been charged with crimes, and none of them have clean hands. In fear of punishment, they all confessed to corruption and breaking the law.”
“But did you watch them do it?”
“This subordinate personally put the noose on the neck of the warden.” The visitor’s voice rose, obviously proud to take the credit.
“That’s too easy for him.”
After Zhao Yuan finished speaking, there was no more sound outside. After a while, the curtain swayed softly.
Li Yi listened to the footsteps getting closer and closer, held his breath and pretended to be asleep.
Zhao Yuan entered the back room and waved away the maidservant who had lifted the curtain for him.
He walked quietly to the side of the bed. The man inside the canopy was like a fallen tree, and although the fever had gradually subsided, his face was still flushed red, hazy through the gauze curtain.
He couldn’t bear it, raised his hand and slowly pushed the curtain away, leaned over and stared. The crow feather eyelashes of the man in front of him were like light fans, wanting to open but not opening.
The memory of the past was tumultuous.
If we were to meet again, would it still be like the old days?
Zhao Yuan leaned down, his breath surrounding Li Yi.
Li Yi was alarmed, his five senses getting sharper and sharper.
Zhao Yuan bowed his head, pressed his cool lips to the vermillion mouth, a touch of longing, slowly lifting…
Li Yi almost fainted, his limbs and bones burned by this kiss.
Zhao Yuan dropped the gauze curtain, and when he turned around, there was a smile in the corner of his mouth. Ten years have passed, but Li Yi, how come you have not improved at all in pretending to be asleep?