Chapter 27: Plan
Translator: Translation Nation/chuchutrain Editor: - -
Snail Village. Pei Household
In the bamboo forest, Pei Zi Yun was practising the first step, consisting of eighteen separate moves as written in the manual. Having completed it five times, he felt like his entire body was drenched with sweat. He retrieved a pill the size of a dragon's eye from his pocket and swallowed it. The recipe to make this pill was obtained from the memories of the previous owner, and could help to build his body and make him healthier.
He had consumed a glass of rice wine in the morning and could only begin to ingest the pill after he had finished practising. He opened the outer capsule, tilted his head backwards and he swallowed the contents. As soon as he did, he felt a sensation of warmth and knew that it was having an effect on him. He waited for the warmth to envelop his entire body. He did this everyday and although it did not help with his spiritual energy, it made him physically stronger and faster.
He slowly strolled back and noticed the entire yard was brimming with people. Someone then shouted "It's time, release the firecrackers!"
The racket of the firecrackers along with the resulting smoke engulfed the air around them. It had only been a few days, but so much around the house has changed. There were now three rooms which had been renovated nicely and were all adjacent to each other.
Pei Zi Yun laughed. Since nothing new had been built, there was no need to host a lavish banquet. They only invited the village chief and several people of the Pei clan. As he walked in, he noticed Pei Qian Shi was dressed for the occasion with a majestic outfit, showing off her beauty.
In actual fact, his mother was not old, being just in her thirties, it's just that poverty and hardships had worn her out. Now that her household was being gradually restored to its former glory and seeing her son returning home, she said: "Since everyone is here today, let's give away five taels of silver in celebration."
Pei Zi Yun then replied: "Relationships come and go. I have already repaid the Li family's fifty taels of silver, and we still have fifty taels left. Mother, the fifteen mu of land has been rented out to people of our own clan and village."
"Your life from now on will most assuredly be smooth sailing."
Pei Qian Shi pondered for sometime before saying: "You have gotten lucky as well! Those 3 thousand taels of silver you've obtained really shocked me. Will there be any repercussions from it?"
"Why would there be? I have already covered all the potential loopholes. If we do not tell anyone, nobody will know. Even if people do find out, although this sum of money is not small, it is not so big that our family could never afford it. Nothing bad will happen." Pei Zi Yun laughed and reassured his mother. The fact that in this life, mother was well and happy, compared to the previous life where she was sickly, assured him that she will surely live happily to a ripe old age.
Since Pei Qian Shi was not an uneducated random villager, she easily understood her sons meaning. She nodded and continued: "My son, you are right. It is just as well that the money should be left in the bank as it would facilitate the purchase of more land." (By trading directly in banknotes)."
Pei Zi Yun did not object. He knew that the banknotes had some risks, namely it had no interests rate tagged to it. Should the day come when that bank collapses, they would be left with nothing. For people with some money, if they did not dabble in business, they would buy land. This was because it was a stable investment that would give frequent payout in yearly rentals.
In fact, nobody would hold on to banknotes in the long term, and anyone who does would be crazy. Just then, he heard footsteps outside and someone walked in.
"Your excellency Zhu, leader Cao, you are here as well."
The newest arrived guest wore an intricate garb while Cao San welcomed him in. Pei Zi Yun raised his two hands in greeting and laughed "I have waited many days, and the wind has finally blown you guys over... Take a seat, what a coincidence that you are here now that my house is renovated. Please have a seat at the table where we can talk."
Since patrol officers were all of ninth rank, they could be referred to as your excellency, hence Zhu Wei could be addressed as your excellency Zhu. He was a rank higher than Cao San, and wasted no time in entering the room and taking a seat.
Seeing that everyone was seated at the table, he smiled and spoke: "Serve the dishes...."
Almost instantaneously, Pei Qian Shi started giving instructions to people as the preparations got underway. Dish after dish was conjured and presented as they were laid out on the table. Pei Zi Yun waved a hand and invited Zhu Wei to have the first pick "please, please carry on!"
Zhu Wei reared his head back and laughed. "It is indeed coincidental that the chief patrol officer had ordered me to this area and you have prepared a big meal. I have been ordered to bring ten men along to join forces with Cao San's five men. Together, there are fifteen of us."
"Of course!" Pei Zi Yun laughed and joked "As long as you are here, you shall be well fed with rice. As for meat, you can each have a few pieces!"
Everyone around the table roared with laughter. Knowing that they were all military men, Pei Zi Yun had prepared a sumptuous meal of meat and wine. Zhu Wei then bent down and retrieved a letter and handed it over to Pei Zi Yun. "That is an official letter from the chief patrol officer. He has commanded us to present ourselves here. However, fifteen men is almost half of the station's troops and thus we cannot be permanently stationed here."
"That is the first matter. The fact that you were able to convince the chief patrol officer to fight against the Black Wind sect is impressive. It is fine with us that we were sent here, however, it is not fine that we shall die here."
He had an indignant look on his face while speaking. Ever since the country had opened up, the soldiers and patrol officers were all busy managing the security of the nation, and there have been increased numbers of orders to patrol different areas of the country. Not many amongst them have ever studied and Zhu Wei was no exception.
Pei Zi Yun smiled and replied "Naturally. If you would hear me out, I have a plan, and if you find it agreeable, we can act soon."
"Based on what we know about the Black Wind Sect, they have over a hundred men under their charge although only half of them are warriors. Truth be told, the lot of you have been fighting all your lives, and are now old. You have tried to annihilate these bandits a few times to no avail as well."
"These Black Wind bandits have brought harm to many neighbouring villages, destroying and plundering them." Pei Zi Yun noticed that Zhu Wei had started to feel upset at the damage inflicted by these bandits, yet he was still far from being convinced to risk his life. Pei Zi Yun then added something. "It was because they had robbed so many villages that they are now rich and have plenty of assets. An example would be in Li Tang Zhen, where they have a wharf and gambling dens."
"Are you saying we should strike the gambling dens in Li Tang Zhen, since it is their key asset?" Zhu Wei asked.
"No, no. Li Tang Zhen is government land. Black Wind sect also has limits in manpower and so most of the people stationed in Li Tang Zhen are all hired locals. If we were to attack them, we would barely affect them. In fact, it would alert them to our activities and cause them to strike back at us." After Pei Zi Yun had said this, the few men around him were nodding their heads in approval.
Even Zhu Wei was beginning to buy into his story. It seems like this Elementary Scholar knows what he's talking about.
Ever since the establishment of the new dynasty, extortion and kidnapping would not be able to survive long before being eventually snuffed out. And that was why Black Wind sect has to turn to other sources of income like their gambling dens.
Zhu Wei and Cao San nodded their heads in agreement. Both of them knew what had been happening over at the villages. These bandits would often "borrow grains" from the villages and strike fear into the villagers' hearts. Just a word from the bandits stronghold and a thousand kilograms worth of rice could be stolen without any resistance from the villages. However, now that stability was coming to the country, this was becoming harder and harder for the bandits to achieve.
Pei Zi Yun retrieved a straw map with rough figures on it. He drew several circles "These are all businesses owned by Black Wind sect."
We could spread a false rumor that some people wish to take over their territories!" Pei Zi Yun lowered his voice when he got to this part before continuing. "In order to defend their territory, they will send men to their different businesses to protect it from potential attacks."
At this point, Black Wind Ridge will lack defenses. We will then bring the men from our village to Black Wind Ridge and exterminate them once and for all."
"When we do go up to Black Wind ridge, the remaining people will be as sparse as sand. Then we could kill them off easily."
Zhu Wei thought on this plan for some time before saying "The Elementary Scholar has a good plan. It sounds like a strategy deployed by some superiors in past battles. Let's do it."
He was thinking deep down "Damn it, these academics are truly crafty and sly."
"To Li Tang Zhen!" said a bald middle aged man on a horse. He had a full beard and a crooked eye. Several people were following behind him.
The middle aged man was heavy hearted and laden with worry. With a hoarse voice he said "We are Black Wind sect. Do we not have a reputation here within a hundred miles?"
"Second elder Hu, that is certain." replied one of this followers "If there is anyone around here who doubts that, and refuses to admit it, we shall kill him!"
Second elder Hu said coldly "Then, why is it that a mere village like Snail Village managed to cause the death of third elder? And now a lowly scum like seventh elder Tang has gotten bold and is trying to steal my territory?"
With trembling lips, the main replied, "Third elder died in a temple outside the village and he died very tragically. It is very probable that it was a Daoist who did this!"
"And now seventh elder Tang is stepping out of line and wishes to claim territories. I am afraid some Daoists are unhappy with us, and have put him up to this."
Second Elder Hu grunted in assent. "What you've said made some sense, and I have been suspicious of this all along as well. So when we reach that place, blood must be shed. We shall show these people who is boss."
He then waved his hands and continued "When we've reached Li Tang Zhen, assemble all our men. If seventh elder Tang refuses to listen to reason, we shall do him in!"
"And it's not just the matter of seventh elder Tang. There is someone messing around in our forests, our dens and our hotels. " A wave of unease swept over him as a shadow of doubt loomed over second elder Hu's heart. He could not bring himself to speak further and sighed before sinking deep into thought.
"Second elder, what did our advisor say?" asked a cautious follower.
Black Wind sect had originally been formed by more than ten bandits. It was only after they had met the advisor that their strength had grown in numbers. The few years before the establishment of the dynasty saw the flourishing of the sect. However their good years were short lived as the dynasty cleaned up the country, ridding itself of pirates and bandits. Without a chaotic setting to thrive in, Black Wind sects' days were becoming miserable. They had even fought with the court officials. After losing many of their brothers, they crept back into hiding.
"The advisor did not say anything, what do you want me to be anxious about?" Second elder Hu raged. They then travelled in silence under the grey vast skies. In a matter of minutes, they had travelled some distance.
- Black Wind Ridge, Not far away
Under the cover of darkness, they crept slowly in single file. The young men of the village were behind, pale with fright. Some of them were shaking in apprehension, yet they managed to be completely silent. They saw an empty plot of land ahead, with untended long grass and abandoned crops.
"Walk another round!"
"There are still at least thirty fighting men up on Black Wind ridge." Pei Zi Yun retreated.
"Based on numbers we should be able to overcome them. But the fighters defending their stronghold might not be easy to defeat!" Zhu Wei was ahead, leading the entire team of men.
Tall hills could be seen about a mile away, where a sentry post was built and an entrance covered with sharpened bamboo spears were visible as well. There were several hidden traps nearby too, and some men were guarding the area.
"Your excellency Zhu, if this was a soldier encampment, I believe we would not be able to fight them. However, these are bandits, and I highly doubt they would religiously patrol the entire night. If they had the discipline to stay alert the entire night, heck, they could potentially be the next king." Pei Zi Yun looked on and said emotionlessly.
Indeed in a matter of minutes, with the ferociously blowing cold wind, the men guarding the stronghold retreated. Gradually, apart from a fire burning in the middle, there was nothing else.
"You are right. Even our own patrol soldiers would retreat under such harsh weather, since it's impossible to stand guard the entire night, much less these ill-disciplined bandits. " Zhu Wei said before waving his hands "Cao San, take some men and advance forward. Try to open the gates to this stronghold. If you get found out and have no time to open the door, just release some ropes down for us."
"Yes!" In the darkness, Cao San regained his usual military composure. With a wave of his hands, five men followed up as they crept their way towards the entrance....