Chapter 118: The Tiger and the Lion Converges
Translator: Translation Nation Editor: Translation Nation
It soon became May, the period of heavy rain lasted for more than ten days as it finally gave way to a clear and sunny day. Towards the northern area of the city was a pier. It was bustling with usual morning activities. A man walked over.
This man wore a rough tunic robe, and had a pair of gloomy looking eyes. He looked much poorer than the average man.
As he walked along the busy stretch of roads, he noticed that there were tailor shops, fabric shops, seafood eateries, soup eateries, medicine shops and even jewelry shops. There was an endless stream of horse and ox carriages, with many people walking hurriedly to their destination.
This man followed the busy crowd as he walked up the bridge. After several steps, he paused and mumbled to himself, "When I left, teacher had warned me that the huge directional change in heaven's will was hard to fathom. However, if I start from the place where it all started, I would be able to find the person who caused everything to change."
"With such a shift in the will of heaven, there must be a sign or an omen, albeit it being very subtle. In Ying Prefecture, the people who are capable of effecting such a change would only be Ji Bei Hou or Free Cloud Sect. As for the Governor, I've picked up some news along the way. He's opened up sea trade and was starting to regulate the boat companies who were able to trade within the ports. As such, he's managed to earn a substantial amount of money from this as well. However, this man was still a whole subject of the Imperial Court, and not much about his fortunes had changed."
"Ji Bei Hou dismantled his troops and agreed to give up his authority. How then could he be the one who started this momentous shift? I have to take a look at him to ascertain his role in all of this."
"The other party who underwent a huge change in directions would be Free Cloud Sect. Ever since obtaining the title of True Sovereign, their authority and might increased substantially. Following this lead, I managed to trace it down to Pei Zi Yun. According to teacher's calculations, the people who would play a lead role in this generation would be the three Ye's and two Guo's and not this person. I need to take a look at him as well."
This man walked slowly as he remained deep in thought. All of a sudden, another thought came into his mind as he abruptly stopped walking. With some hesitation, he recalled that there was another change within Ying Prefecture, 'No, I've missed out Holy Jail Sect.'
'According to teacher's calculations, Holy Jail Sect and Ji Bei Hou should be the parties holding the leading role in Ying Prefecture, and would continue to do so for many years. However, according to Young Master's reports, Holy Jail Sect's movements has been quiet and not anything like teacher's calculations.'
This man did not particularly pay attention to his surroundings. He then noticed that he was standing before a mansion. He looked at it before walking up to it and started knocking on the door. A servant opened it. When the servant noticed that it was a stranger, he asked coldly, "Who are you, why have you knocked on our door?"
When this man heard the servants words, he was not upset. Instead, he smiled and replied, "I am a relative of your house's master. My surname is Shi. I've followed orders from my master to call upon your master. This is the letter from my master."
The man surnamed Shi then handed the letter over.
The servant retrieved the letter suspiciously and took it within the yard. After some time, a rough and coarse voice could be heard from behind, "Nephew Shi, you've finally arrived. Come on in."
A fat man welcomed the man surnamed Shi, his eyes sparkling.
The fat man walked in and as though he suddenly remembered something, before instructing the servant, "Ah Feng, this is my nephew Shi and is a relative of mine. In future when you see him, do not obstruct him. Take him straight to me, do you understand?"
The servant looked up at the visitor before replying, "Yes, master."
"Nephew Shi, please enter!" The fat man then led the man surnamed Shi within the house. He followed closely behind without speaking. Soon, they reached the main hall, which was richly ornamented. The fat man then took a seat before shouting, "Prepare some tea for our guest!"
He carried a commanding tone. The man laughed, "Master Li, there's no need for tea. It's just that I have some matters I would need you to make arrangements for."
"Young Master Shi Mu Zhong, please speak up." The fat man said in a hushed voice.
"I've always heard about how Ying Prefecture's Ji Bei Hou conducts himself in a fearsome and awe inspiring manner. I wish to glance upon him from far, to see if that's the case. Can you arrange that for me?"
"And also Ying Prefecture's Top Scorer Pei Zi Yun. I wish to see him as well, after hearing so many brilliant stories about him."
After hearing Shi Mu Zhong's request, master Li hesitated, "Young Master Shi, years ago, the old man read my fortunes and said that I would live a life of luxury and riches. He then taught me how I should go about obtaining my fortunes. I would not have been where I am today without him. But are you sure you just want to see them from afar, and not do something else?"
Master Li was somewhat hesitant in his words, as he looked at Shi Mu Zhong with worry. He was afraid that he had intentions to do something bad. Should that happen, they would be in trouble.
"Of course, do not worry. In fact, you can arrange for someone to accompany me, and we can watch them together from afar. If I do anything foolish or errant, you can tell your men to take me down." Shi Mu Zhong laughed. As much as he was upset that master Li was worried about something like this, he could understand as well.
Although his master had helped him out, and changed his fate for the better, this man was still not a puppet and had his own self interests. Shi Mu Zhong guessed that if he were to really do anything to threaten the life of Ji Bei Hou, he would instruct his men to take him down or to report to the officials about the matter right away.
"Ai ya, Young Master Shi, what are you speaking about. The old man showed favor and grace to me. Even if you did have the intention to harm this person, I would not report the incident or act on it." Master Li forced a smile after hearing Shi Mu Zhong's doubts and sighed. Although Shi Mu Zhong's master did show grace to him, he was extremely strange and scary.
"Can I also trouble master Li to arrange for me to stay here for the next few days?" Shi Mu Zhong smiled as he spoke. A servant then came in to serve some tea. Master Li fiercely ordered her, "Xiao Cui, call the butler over here for me. I have instructions for him."
"Yes, master." Xiao Cui then hurriedly walked out. Before long, a skinny and lanky butler walked in before bowing and paying his respects, "Master."
"So butler Han is here. My nephew is here to visit us for two days. Arrange a room for him. Also, he's never seen an official of the Imperial Court. Find out when Ji Bei Hou would be on the move, my nephew wishes to see him from afar. Then when he returns to his village, he can boast to his village friends that he's seen an official from the court."
"Yes, master!" The butler then retreated.
Early in the morning of the next day, the sun had yet to rise when an ox-cart was outside ready. A pair of servants followed closely behind this man as they walked towards the carriage.
Before long, they arrived before the government office. The butler then led Shi Mu Zhong into a restaurant just across the government office. It looked rather new, as if it had just been refurbished. It was three stories high. He then said, "Master, we had originally planned to go to Fu Mansion, where you could see Pei Zi Yun. However, he's already left for his village. Since we've missed him, we arranged for you to see Ji Bei Hou instead. According to his daily routines, he will arrive around this time at the government office to report for work. From here, you can glimpse upon the fierceness of this man."
The butler spoke as they walked into the restaurant, "Master has booked up the entire restaurant for the day, please take your time to look. The meals will also be prepared for whenever you wish to consume them."
They then climbed up the stairs to the third floor. Shi Mu Zhong then opened a window and looked at the streets below. Large raindrops were being blown in a diagonal fashion by the strong wind. The waiter had served up some porridge, bread sticks, tea, peanuts and some wine. When the butler saw that everything was as planned, he then sent some servants to guard the door to make sure nobody intruded on him.
Shi Mu Zhong then whispered, "At least this master Li is very thorough with his dealings."
Shi Mu Zhong understood this as well. Although master Li had received guidance and pointers from Shi Mu Zhong's master to earn big wealth and a fortune for himself, he had to learn to handle his affairs by himself from then on. If not, he could lose his fortune easily and even be killed for it.
That year, his master had given pointers and guidance to more than a hundred people, telling them how to change their fortunes. Of these, only thirty people managed to strike it rich.
He then sat comfortably in his seat and had some tea, while he ate peanuts. He could then see some movement from a distance away. Two rows of soldiers were marching, and a horse-cart was following closely behind the soldiers.
Although there weren't many soldiers, they had a fearsome and intimidating aura. They clearly looked like they were war hardened veterans.
Shi Mu Zhong inched closer to the window. His gloomy eyes started to radiated a white light that circled within his pupils. His hazy and clouded eyes started to become clear and sharp.
Instantly, the horse-cart he had been looking upon now took the shape of something else. Slightly further up was the Governor's office, and it was surrounded by visible Imperial Qi.
A man stepped off the ox-cart, and Shi Mu Zhong saw a tiger getting off the ox-cart. This tiger didn't look one bit dejected and was full of confidence. The tiger was surrounded by an impressive and formidable aura. When Shi Mu Zhong looked closer, he realized that steam was being emitted from this tiger.
'That's not right. The tiger's natural element is the wind, whereas cloud and steam belongs to the dragon. And yet the tiger I'm looking at is emitting steam. There must be something else I'm not seeing. I have my master's powers, and should be able to see anything under the heaven. And yet I'm seeing a very obscure view. In order for me to remove this veil, I would need the powers of our Patriarchs.' Shi Mu Zhong thought to himself before retrieving a black jade stone. On the black stone was the symbol of an anchor. Using his thumbs, he pressed down hard on the flat piece of jade as it broke into two. A surge of black energy was released from the jade and circled around him before shooting straight into his eyes. All the concealment that prevented him from seeing disappeared at once.
'The tiger has a red and yellow aura circling around it, as a wisp of Imperial Qi rested on the tiger's body. A gust of wind surrounded Ji Bei Hou. The tiger and the dragon fused.'
(TN : Imperial Qi is represented by a dragon, and thus might be referred to as Dragon Qi in the future.)
"Rawr!" The tiger roared out with the voice of the dragon. Ji Bei Hou looked around after getting off the horse-cart, looking visibly uneasy. He turned around to look at his surroundings but could not find anything.
"Ah!" Shi Mu Zhong cried out, as blood rolled down from his eyes. He extended a hand, using his sleeves to wipe the blood away from his eyes. He then turned around and shouted, "Let's go back, Ji Bei Hou's demeanor is really extraordinary."
"This, Master Shi, what happened just now?" The servant entered the room and felt something was amiss.
"Oh, I accidentally knocked in a wall, and screamed out in pain." Shi Mu Zhong smiled, "Tell your master that I'm going to a monastery outside the city."
This man then hailed an ox-cart outside of the restaurant and left. When he finally arrived at the monastery, a Daoist man looked at him, before observing his surroundings. He then led Shi Mu Zhong into a room, "Master Shi, your room is ready."
"Good." Shi Mu Zhong laughed and replied, before following the Daoist man in.
At this point the night was getting late. Xie Cheng Dong was cultivating in one of the monasteries in Black Altar Sect. The entire room thus had a unique aura as a result of his cultivation.
All of a sudden, Xie Cheng Dong felt his Enchanted Talisman vibrate. He then retrieved it. The only person who could reach him on this Talisman was the blind Daoist or his disciple. Feeling surprised, he paused his cultivation and touched the surface of the Talisman. It then revealed the shadow of Shi Mu Zhong, who bowed before him.
"Young Master, I've only managed to get a look at Ji Bei Hou. Pei Zi Yun had returned to the village and I was unable to reach him. However, I've made some discoveries. The deviation of heaven's will started from within Ying Prefecture, I am sure of this now."
"Oh? There's really a deviation in heaven's will? What changes were there. Tell me about it." Xie Cheng Dong said, his eyes were extremely focused as he looked at Shi Mu Zhong.
"Young Master, Ji Bei Hou was represented by a tiger, and had the wind on his back. This was very normal. Most military generals have the exact same outlook. Thankfully I already anticipated something different, and I took a closer look. I realized that he had a wisp of Imperial Qi on him as well, the Qi of a dragon."
"This man's Imperial Qi was a thin strand and as fine as hair, and it was very frail and weak. This is extremely unusual, but I am certain it was Imperial Qi." Shi Mu Zhong reported, but did not mention the fact that he had to activate the energy of his Patriarch to obtain this information.
"What?" Xie Cheng Dong inhaled cold hair, "Only because of the chaos of the previous dynasty, was the Imperial Qi scattered. Ever since the establishment of the new dynasty, all the Imperial Qi converged together to form the True Dragon. The hundreds of prominent officials only have Official Qi on them. Even if they had auspicious energies, they would mainly take the form of tigers, lions, panthers. How could he have Imperial Qi on him? This is bad."
"Yes, Young Master. In future...." She Mu Zhong swallowed before continuing, "It would be hard to imagine. Besides, this alone showed that there was a difference in heaven's will as Ji Bei Hou's should not look like this. I'm afraid.."
"What are you afraid of?" Xie Cheng Dong pursued, as if somewhat anxious.
"I'm afraid that the this is a retaliation of heaven. That is truly scary." Shi Mu Zhong paused before continuing, "Heaven's will should not be interfered with. Ever since the last incident, master and I have been unable to see the three Ye's and two Guo's anymore. It's as if we were intentionally blocked from looking at them."
"And based on today's events, it's not that we are being prevented from seeing. I'm afraid that there's been a retaliation as well, and thus the will of heaven's changed to counter whatever we've seen."