Chapter 10 – The Departed Spirit of the Unburied Corpse on a Remote Mountain
On Mount Wugou, there was an old locust tree1Chinese scholar tree/Japanese pagoda tree.
During the summertime of one year, a strike of lightning split it in half.
However, this old tree managed to survive and lived for 100 years on the mountain.
It was right under this old tree that Jiang Mingyue became an earthbound spirit so that she could guard her skeleton, the remains of her corpse, and she had already done so for many years.
It was unknown exactly how many years she spent on the mountain.
During the early days, Jiang Mingyue even used the changing of seasons to calculate the date, but she stopped counting after three years.
This was because when spring came again one year and the new grass had yet to grow beyond her skeleton, Jiang Mingyue suddenly gained the understanding that a ghost did not need to count the months and the years.
People needed to count their age and keep track of the seasons for growing their crops 2春生夏長，秋收冬藏 refers to the process of crop development and harvesting.
Something along the lines of sowing the seeds and letting them sprout in spring, letting them grow in summer, harvesting the crops in autumn/fall, and storing the harvests in winter..
However, a ghost didnt need to eat or drink and wouldnt grow any older.
What was the point of counting the days What did anything in this world have to do with you
However, even a ghost would suffer from the disturbances of the wind, lightning, rain, and snow.
The wind and rain would corrode her bones, the lightning would frighten her spirit, and the frost and snow would make her bones cold.
Jiang Mingyue truly had to thank those defeated troops who abandoned her corpse here back then.
At least, they abandoned it under a tree—an ancient hundred-year-old tree deep in the mountains.
The tree had ample branches and leaves to shelter her corpse from the blazing sun.
Otherwise, Jiang Mingyues ghost, which was attached to her corpse, would also have to suffer the pain of being roasted by the scorching sun.
At some point unbeknownst to her, Jiang Mingyue began to hope for something all day long under the old tree.
She hoped a kind person would come to this place and that, upon seeing her exposed corpse, they would show some kindness and bury her corpse in the ground, allowing her spirit to rest in peace.
With each passing day and every passing year, there were hunters and herb gatherers who walked by in the vicinity, but no one ever walked close to this old locust tree.
The four seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter continued making their rotations until so much time passed by that Jiang Mingyue had totally forgotten her name.
This was when two people finally walked over to the locust tree.
They were a pair of master and servant, yet their appearance and clothes were in very dire straits.
There was even the wordconvict carved on the masters forehead.
The hair by his temples was covered in frost, and he had an emaciated figure.
He reached out with his hands, which were still ridden with frostbite despite it already being springtime.
All ten of his fingers were red and swollen, and his palms and the back of his hands were covered in cracks as if a spider had weaved a web over them.
It was obvious with one glance that this person had suffered a lot.
“Master, we really should head west.
We cant delay any longer,” the accompanying servant urged repeatedly from behind his master.
There were welts and fresh bloodstains on the servants arms.
It was clear he had been whipped just a while ago.
“Those few people who deserve to be killed3derogatory/negative did not lie to me.
It really is this half-scorched old locust tree.” The master knelt on one knee and reached out his hand to pull away the creeper vines that had twined all over Jiang Mingyues corpse.
Upon lowering her head to look at her corpse, Jiang Mingyue realized a wildflower had actually emerged from in between the bones of her hand.
It was a splendidly red flower.
She did not know its name, but it was unexpectedly beautiful.
The man found a copper button the size of a fingernail beside the corpse, and he scraped away the rust that had developed on it.
Then after reading the word on the button, he called his servant over to help.
The pair of master and servant toiled for a long time with bare hands to clear away the lush creeper vines from Jiang Mingyues corpse.
Then again with bare hands, they dug a deep pit in the ground.
“Master, your hands are still covered in sores.
Let this lowly one do it.” The servant, who was somewhat younger than his master, could not stop himself from saying this to his master when he saw blood flowing from the latters hands and into the soil.
“Its no matter.” The master seemed to be unaware of the pain and merely wiped his blood on his clothes.
He turned around and picked up the skeletal remains, wanting to place them in the pit.
However, he glanced at the bones in his arms and then at the soil in the pit.
The master put down the skeletal remains and took off his outer garment, which was still considerably clean.
Jiang Mingyue let out a sigh of relief when she saw this person wrap her skeletal remains in his outer garment and then place them into the pit cautiously and with care.
She could finally be buried and rest in peace.
“Your eldest paternal uncle and aunt have been searching for you all these years,” the master said to the corpse as he knelt down on one knee after placing it into the pit.
“I met them half a month ago at the ferry crossing in Xun Prefecture.
Sometime later, they will definitely come and search this mountain.
Ill leave word with the old man at the tea shed by the official road outside the mountain.
Ill have him tell your uncle and aunt that Ive buried you here.
“Brother Yu and Brother Xian had a big falling out with the marquis because of you.
Now, Brother Yu has gone to enlist at the northern strategic pass, while Brother Xian is in the capital, guarding the marquiss manor.
“Your grandmother is still in good health.
Perhaps she wont let her eyes shut forever as long as Zhao Qingrong continues to live on even for one more day.
“Your grandfather is unlike before though.
He has not met with the marquis ever since you died.
“When I left the capital, your father led soldiers to the East Sea.
He has spent very little time in the capital these past years.
I often see your Brother Xian, but Ive not seen your father even once.”
“Master, is this the corpse of the Imperial Concubine of Tushan Wangfus Crown Prince” the servant asked as he crouched down beside his master.
While he rubbed the mud on his hands, he said softly, “She met an end thats even worse than yours.
I initially thought that it was already the most tragic thing when Second Master made you a convict.”
“What crown princes imperial consort” the master said, furrowing his brows and shaking his head.
“Everyone in Tushan Wangfu is a sinner, but she isnt.
Shes Anyuan Houfus Second Miss.”
As he said that, he flipped the copper button in his hand and stated, “Theres no doubt about it.
Mingyue, maiden name 4refers to the family name of her birth/prior to marriage: Jiang.
This is whats carved on here.”
Mingyue, maiden name: Jiang.
The soil of the earth was sent sprinkling from the mans hands and gradually covered the cold white bones.
A howling wind swept over the mountain, whistling through the immense forest.
The wind blew so hard that it shook the departed spirit who had already forgotten her own name.
Right after that, she recalled what it was.
She was Jiang Mingyue.
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1Chinese scholar tree/Japanese pagoda tree.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Styphnolobium_japonicum2春生夏長，秋收冬藏 refers to the process of crop development and harvesting.
Something along the lines of sowing the seeds and letting them sprout in spring, letting them grow in summer, harvesting the crops in autumn/fall, and storing the harvests in winter.3derogatory/negative4refers to the family name of her birth/prior to marriage