Chapter 12: Capital
Translator: Translation Nation/chuchutrain Editor: - -
Just as Pei Zi Yun was going to knock on the door, he heard someone calling him in delight, "Brother Pei!"
The moment he turned around, without enough time to guess who it was, someone ran into his arms. Taking a closer look he realized it was Ye Su'er.
A little Dao nun was holding on to a stalk of plum blossom chasing after Ye Su'er. Seeing Ye Su'er in the arms of a man, she blushed. Upon closer look, she realized that this was the youth who had dropped sister Su'er at the monastery.
"Su'er, today Mr Zhao asked me to go over to his place to appraise my essays, and he felt that they had developed well and asked me to go to the city and take the examinations. So I have come to bid you farewell, and after I have attained Elementary Scholar status in the examinations I will come back for you."
Ye Su'er's face turned red as the the little Dao Nun said, "What a romantic love story, but take a look at the venue. We are standing right outside a female monastery and you have the cheek to get all touchy feely. If I didn't know better I would think that this is a dirty and evil place!"
The little nun had a really sharp tongue.
Ye Su'er realized that she had donned the nun's attire and out of respect, she pulled away from Pei Zi Yun and they only looked at each other while speaking.
Pei Zi Yun had a thick skin and laughed while saying, "You are really a mischievous little imp with a sharp tongue. If nobody wants to marry you in future, that is going to be a problem."
The little Dao Nun glared fiercely at Pei Zi Yun and said, "I am a Daoist and will not be married. You are just but a commoner. My monastery accepted your woman and you repay me by making fun of me. You are not a good person."
She started walking away when she had finished. At this point, Pei Zi Yun realized that he had said something wrong and wanted to apologize, but the little Dao Nun was already far away.
Ye Su'er stood at the side and said, "She was an orphan brother Pei. Do not speak like this in future. Should the monastery leader know about this, she will not be too pleased."
Suddenly, Ye Su'er jumped as though she had forgotten something and she said, "Brother Pei, please wait here I will be right back."
She then rushed into the monastery. Pei Zi Yun smiled and waited at the entrance, watching the peach flowers bloom. He walked closer to get a better look and saw that the tree before him had already bloomed and felt awestruck by its beauty.
The little Dao Nun was in her room, red-faced and seated on her bed. She was hugging her blanket with her two small feet dangling off it. She pulled a long face and was angry.
At this moment, she heard a sound and saw Ye Su'er push past the door and enter the room. She seemed to be looking for something and was turning the place upside down to no avail. She had an anxious look about her, stamping on the ground and saying, "The talisman that I've asked for is missing. I clearly kept it here, why can't I find it?"
As she spoke, she was frantically searching when she suddenly stopped and thought of how they had angered the little Dao Nun. She then asked, "Little one, was it you who hid my talisman?"
The little Dao Nun replied angrily, "Who hid your talisman? Who was it who came in late at night holding her talisman of blessing, saying she wants to give it to her brother Pei and dropped it without realizing. And she still dares to put the blame on other people."
She looked away from Ye Su'er in apparent anger, her two beady eyes teary after being wronged.
The moment she heard that, Ye Su'er reacted and felt around on her bed. It had indeed dropped on her bed. Feeling bad as she had wronged the little nun, she grabbed her and said, "Little sister, I have wronged you. Do not be angry, I will make it up to you. Next time I will catch seven or eight big and pretty butterflies for you alright?"
Seeing the little nun still turned away in anger, Ye Su'er planted a kiss on her face and hurriedly left, leaving the fuming nun still on her bed.
- Front Entrance of the Monastery
The sun was shining down on the monastery as Pei Zi Yun admired the beauty of the plum blossoms. He was deep in thought, thinking: I wonder if we will have any time on the road. I should brush up on my Dao Fighting Techniques. How could I have forgotten this over the past few days?
Then I can see if there's anything odd about my skills!
His train of thoughts were interrupted by footsteps. He turned around to see Ye Su'er running towards him.
While Ye Su'er was running so quickly, she almost tripped over the ledge at the entrance. Thankfully, she was able to stay on her feet. She slowed down and walked over to Pei Zi Yun, "Brother Pei, I know you wish to attain Elementary Scholar status in the upcoming examination and so, I have requested this talisman for you. I have heard it is really effective, so please do not lose it! When your examinations come, hopefully your wish shall be granted."
Brother Pei replied, "Thank you!"
The county was not very far away from Dong An Capital, and they had arrived after two or three days. The walls of the capital were like a gigantic dragon surrounding the entire city. And the entrance of the city was like that of whale's mouth, swallowing all who passed through.
While the counties were chaotic with soldiers and horses destroying everything, the city was booming with prosperity. People came and went, guards at the entrance were collecting a toll fee for entry into the village. Everyone seemed so busy and in a rush that it was hard to catch your breath.
Zhang Yun decided to leave the moment he accompanied Pei Zi Yun to the entrance of the city. At this point, Pei Zi Yun wanted Zhang Yun to rest and stay the night, and leave only when he was fully recharged. Zhang Yun however, refused saying, "Fellow brother, you are good on your own. I shall make my way back first."
He laughed and slung his bow over his back walking in the direction of the setting sun.
What a curious man he is! Pei Zi Yun thought quietly. This man was proud and arrogant, and would eventually be crushed and defeated at Free Cloud Sect. Although they have some friendship going on now, it would be difficult to truly win his heart over.
While he was deep in thought, he saw a few men holding lanterns despite the fact that it was daytime. The lanterns had words written on them, "Li Family Hotel", "Safe Travels Hotel" and, "White Clouds Hotel". Looks like they were trying to fight for customers. Realizing that Pei Zi yun looked like a scholar, he became their target for patronage.
Pei Zi Yun was no stranger to this place. The original owner had been here plenty of times before. He pointed and said, "I shall lodge at, 'Safe Travels Hotel' "
The other men, hearing that he had made his choice, dispersed in hopes of finding other patrons.
Pei Zi Yun headed south before making a turn and found the hotel. On the hotel was a huge lantern with a sign that said, "A hundred years, all who have come had safe travels."
This hotel had an auspicious and lucky name and was not expensive too. The original owner had stayed in this hotel many times before. He walked in without hesitation and said, "I wish to get a room, please send some hot water up to my room as well."
"Sure, please give me a moment."
Pei Zi Yun was waiting when he heard someone saying, "Eh, is this not brother Zi Wen? Why are you alone here?"
(TL: They had gotten his name wrong)
When Pei Zi Yun turned around he saw a bunch of familiar faces that he had met during the previous round of examinations. He put his hands together in the traditional greeting and said, "So it is Brother Li, Brother Wang and Brother Tang. In this examination, I am the lone representative from my village. That is why I am alone today."
A gentle voice was suddenly heard, "To travel far and wide looking for something, only to find it easily. It indeed is Wang, Li and Tang from Slow River County. You guys will be going to the banquet as well? What a shame. This time during the poetry section, the three of you from Slow River County will fail miserably."
As he finished, he walked past, not even looking at the four of them. A few scholars followed closely behind him laughing while they passed.
"You!" the three of them were very agitated and fumed in anger at the insults thrown.
Pei Zi Yun looked over and saw a few scholars, looking very smartly groomed and holding fans in their hands as they rolled up their sleeves and walked away. The three of them fiercely shouting from behind, "Such arrogant snobs!"
At this point, the hotel serfs brought up some pastries and a bowl of warm soup. There were some spring onions and meat cooked in the soup. The hotel must have noticed that he was bound to take the examinations and added some extra ingredients into the soup.
With regards to what had just happened, Pei Zi Yun did not understand and wanted to enquire further. Scholar Tang then spoke out angrily, "Yes it's true, the scholars from Slow River County had not scored well in the last past few years and thus we have been looked down upon. Tonight I will prove them wrong and peel their pride from their faces."
The rest of them agreed with him, "Yes, let's go, let's all go and take their prides away, so that they too, shall know Slow River County is talented!"
As they stood up to leave, Pei Zi Yun remained calm and stoic. He ate his pastries calmly and thought about how these Slow River County scholars would praise him for his talents tonight at the banquet once he had a chance to show his elegance.
Scholar Tang hurriedly said, "Zi Yun, these pastries are not nice at all. Come let us bring you to the dinner banquet. I know Zi Yun is very talented. If you come along, we can teach them a lesson at the feast. Come on, let's go!"
He reached out his hand to drag Pei Zi Yun, who resisted at first. However, when it was clear that the rest of them would not leave without him, he relented and went along with them.
The distance they had to travel was not far, and they had already arrived before long. Pei Zi Yun looked at his surroundings and noticed there was a restaurant along the waterway, which was also near the horse post station. There was a guard manning the post station to ensure the safety of patrons of the restaurants. Pei Zi Yun quietly praised the owner for his foresight. Right outside was a sign that said, 'River Reflections'.
Scholar Tang shouted, "Good name!"
"It is a good name for a restaurant. However, the words lack a certain charm, thus not creating much impact. A name like this, could not be considered the best." Pei Zi Yun mused after obtaining the wisdom of the old Elementary Scholar in his dreams. One look was all it took for him to arrive at this conclusion.
As they were speaking, they entered the restaurant and saw many people were already present. The waiters eagerly welcomed them, as Scholar Tang passed the invitation before they were admitted, "Young Master, the first three floors are already full, please head all the way up."
It was mid-afternoon and the interior of the restaurant reflected the sunlight. The stream outside the restaurant rippled as the wind swept past causing a beautiful sight. A woman was singing inside the restaurant graciously. Although this was not the most posh place around, it was adequately furnished. It occupied a big plot of land and the serving waitresses were all dressed attractively, with the more senior ones ordering the younger waitresses around.
As they were walking up, the four of them noticed that the entire three levels were bustling with activity. Many screens were being erected to separate the tables. The screens were used to give privacy, but could be retracted if not required. There were ten tables lined up in rows, all with dishes already served. There were still some empty tables towards the west.
There were almost seventy to eighty scholars already settled in banquet tables. Scholar Tang managed to find a table and pull several chairs.
Scholar Tang's name was Tang Zheng and was the son of a wine merchant. He loved to study and was rather well known in the county. He was skilled in painting and very intelligent. His only weakness was, he could sometimes be impulsive.
As for the other two scholars, he could not remember their names but knew they had some standard of literary proficiency.
Not far away, the scholars who had provoked them earlier had settled into a table as well. They spoke in hushed tones and occasionally looked over before the entire group started laughing.
Everyone knew that the examinations were a way to get a big breakthrough, and everyone was in competition with everyone else. If one person wins, another loses.
When the three of them saw the others laughing in their direction, they were furious.
Pei Zi Yun did not react but quietly thought to himself: Is he Ma Ji, the one in my previous life who obtained the honour of being top scorer in the final tier examinations?
This person had showed up in the original owner's life and was a son of a government official. He had always looked down on people who lived in the smaller counties and would always taunt them whenever he saw them. He too had a good grasp of literary skills. He had obtained Elementary Scholar status at the age of fourteen and had taken the final tier examinations at age nineteen and obtained scholar status but he did not live long and passed away at age twenty one.
Why was there some confusion?
As the banquet began, Pei Zi Yun looked at the dishes on the table and saw a huge variety of them which included abalone porridge, many different fishes that had been prepared in a sumptuous manner. They made his appetite whet as he started to feel hungry.
There was still some boiled chicken with certain herbs, and the soup that was boiled along with it was red. Tang Zhen did not even pay attention to these food. He came from a rich family and dishes like these were very normal. When he looked down at the chicken that had arrived he shouted, "This is the famous Perfect Stuffed Chicken, everyone enjoy!"
He picked up his chopsticks and began to eat.