Winter in the thirteenth year of Changshun* was bitterly cold, with chilly winds howling down the windows on top of the cell and blowing toward the inside, forcing people to snuggle up to each other for warmth. The only person who remained alone in this situation was a girl who was looking down at a middle-aged woman who was washing the bloody wounds on the girl’s arm and spooning out water from a bucket.
T/N : Name of the Emperor’s reign.
The girl was gorgeous, eighteen or nineteen, with a fair complexion. However, this did not impress the woman who cleaned up her wounds. Although the woman’s hand was gentle, annoyance was evident between her eyebrows. Her mouth chattering to reprimand the girl: “How do I teach you usually? You’re a wise person when you know what you should do. Don’t you know who that Wang Qiniang is? That Wang Qiniang is a famous scoundrel on the street. She can fight with people for a penny or two. Why are you mad at her? She can talk about me if she wants to. What do you have to worry about?”
The girl sniffed. She pursed her lips slightly, seemingly unconvinced. The woman used gauze to tie her wound and glared at her: “Luo Wanqing, speak!”
“I also have my considerations,” Luo Wanqing heard her mother reprimand, suppressed the uneasiness, and said softly, “At first, she refused to continue her treatment because she didn’t want to pay the consultation fee, and now she is not saying that you are not good at medical treatment and harmed her hand. If we don’t refute this and these words spread out, others will question your medical skills! What should we do? We’re doing well in the prison relying on you to treat the guards for their ailments; if the guards refuse to trust you, how will we live?”
“What’s wrong with that?” Her mother, Yao Zelan, couldn’t care less. She snickered. “Does my reputation depend on her mouth?”
“After all, we won’t stay here for long,” Yao Zelan knew what she was saying and interrupted her gently, “When Shaoyan finds a way outside and returns our Luo family’s innocence, we’ll go out. This Wang Qiniang came in from a rough street. She will go out after a while, and then we will settle the score with her. But if you argue with her here, what good will you get? Look at your hand!” Yao Zelan pulled the bandage, causing Luo Wanqing to suck in a breath of cold air due to the pain.
Yao Zelan glared at her. Her voice couldn’t help but lower, “I didn’t know when you learn to fight. If you didn’t avoid it quickly, that porcelain piece of hers would have scratched your face!”
Luo Wanqing listened to Yao Zelan’s words and stayed silent. She knew Yao Zelan was right, but she couldn’t help it. She was too scared. Due to an accusation of illegally trading salt, she, Yao Zelan, her sister-in-law Su Hui, and her niece, Luo Wenshui, were imprisoned in this cell.
In this prison, men and women were divided, and the guards put the suspects who had not yet proved their guilt in this cell, as well as some of the rascals who had only committed minor crimes. Compared to the actual prison, the cell’s environment was much worse. Hundreds of people crowded together, and because there were too many people, there was no place to lie down and sleep. It was easy to have conflict because of the large numbers. Many gangsters came in with their people, and they ganged up and joined forces to oppress those who were weak.
The Luo Family is a wealthy merchant in Yangzhou, and her mother is a famous doctor. In the cell, she was a piece of fat meat in the eyes of the crowd. Fortunately, her mother judged the situation early. She builds a good relationship with the guards to improve their family’s condition in the cell. But, it was only ‘slightly,’ the winter was cold, and due to poor conditions in the cell, they had never even changed clothes, which was torture for Luo Wanqing.
But the good thing was, she still had a ray of hope. That was, Jiang Shaoyan, her betrothed, was still outside the prison. Jiang Shaoyan was a young man saved by the Luo family five years ago when they moved to Yangzhou, on the outskirts of Dongdu. He lost his memory when they rescued him. He stayed with the Luo family and fell in love with her over time. They fixed their marriage and intended to hold the ceremony at the beginning of next year’s spring. He did everything appropriately and learned martial arts with her father.
The Luo Family has always done things according to the rules. Someone must have framed them. With Jiang Shaoyan’s ability, he would find a way to clear up their injustice and save her Luo family from trouble.
Because of this expectation, she has not been so troubled in the prison. All she needs to do is to endure and wait. After waiting for half a month, she suddenly had a dream last night.
She dreamed about her future.
Many things happened in the dream. Jiang Shaoyan never came. He only sent his servant, Uncle Zhang, to tell her he couldn’t save them. The Luo Family was doomed, and the only thing he could do was to make things easier for her. He gave her a dagger that was as sharp as iron and a bottle of lethal poison. Uncle Zhang said that although they did not marry, in his heart, Jiang Shaoyan already regarded her as his wife. It was a long journey to the border, and he wished she would stay chaste for him. In her dream, she believed this and could not help considering it. She was weak and timid, afraid to face the possibility of being betrayed, so she took the poison, not forgetting to ask Uncle Zhang to pass on the answer that she would never turn her back on him and that she would always wait for him. Then she was exiled to Lingnan, and on the way there, she lost her father, mother, brother, sister-in-law, and her little niece, who was no more than five years old. When she finally arrived in Lingnan, she was the only one alive in the Luo family. She looked at Lingnan, full of mountains and wilderness. Then, she heard about a prince returning from the civilian population in the Dongdu, named Li Guiyu. This prince was said to have been found by Zheng Biyue, the daughter of Zheng Pingsheng, the Minister of Justice. This noble daughter was originally his childhood sweetheart, but the prince suddenly disappeared. Zheng Biyue had been looking for him until the court asked her father to go to Jiangnan to investigate the case of illegal salt. She followed her father and found the prince who had lost his memory in Yangzhou. The long-lost prince was adopted by a wealthy merchant and pledged to marry his daughter in return for his kindness. The Emperor, in appreciation of the merchant’s kindness, decided to grant the marriage. As a result, the Luo Family’s insatiable greed and misbehavior were unexpected, and they even dared to sell salt illegally.
How can such a family be a good match for the prince? Considering their meritorious deeds, the whole family will be banished instead of executed. That was already God’s grace. So, the wealthy merchant died in prison while his family was exiled to Lingnan. The royal son and noble daughter became lovers. This story was a happy story. But coincidentally, the wealthy merchant was surnamed Luo, and the prince’s folk name was Jiang Shaoyan. Learned about this matter that night, she was awakened abruptly.
What does it mean that he couldn’t help? What does it mean that there was no way out? Jiang Shaoyan was intentionally harming her!
Zheng Biyue had come, so he wanted to marry her but didn’t dare to resist the Emperor’s granting of marriage. He was also afraid of tainting the reputation of himself and his beloved, so she harmed her Luo family clan. If the Luo family were found guilty, they would be clean and innocent.
That night, she wailed in the empty cell, took out the bottle of poison given by Jiang Shaoyan, and almost drank it. When she pressed her lips against the mouth of the bottle, she suddenly welled up with a kind of anger.
Why should she die? Why should she be the one to die?
She stopped and began to spend the rest of her life trying to escape from Lingnan and return to Dongdu to find that ungrateful, to ask a question –
What were the reasons? What has the Luo Clan done to him?
For being together with Zheng Biyue and their reputation, he used the blood of Luo’s entire family as a stepping stone for their marriage. On what grounds? Unfortunately, she never succeeded. She spent ten years trying to do everything she could. She listened to the news about how he became a prince, then a crown prince, and ascended to the throne to become an emperor. She also knew about him chopped Xie Heng, who aided him in ascending to the throne. Xie Heng was dragged into the imperial prison by the second head of the Inspection Division, Qin Jue, who later became the Idle Lord. She was never able to leave Lingnan.
Finally, she was filled with sickness, holding the bottle of poison he gave her and died on a rainy night in the summer.