Chapter 30: Maiden
Translator: Translation Nation/chuchutrain Editor: - -
Snail Village Pei Household
"Mother, the Black Wind sect has been annihilated and the village should be safe from now. I have to fetch Ye Su'er back. He smiled as he spoke, his eyes emitting warmth as he thought of his childhood sweetheart.
"My son, I am aware that you and Ye Su'er are childhood sweethearts. However, the Ye family are not known for their academic success and thus she might not be a perfect match for you. Pei Qian Shi hesitated and continued. "There has been some talk of the second daughter of the Li family. She's only fourteen years old, and is intelligent and polite. What do you think...."
Seeing the look of shock on Pei Zi Yun's face she sighed and said,, "The High Scholar in the county, Old master Liu, had the intention of matching you with his daughter as well. See...."
"Have there been many people with this intention lately?" Pei Zi Yun furrowed his brow as he asked.
"Yes! It's strange that you are just merely an Elementary Scholar yet are drawing this much attention. But after the release of your test papers, everyone noticed the high standards of your answers and are speculating that you could even attain High Scholar status in the future."
"Currently, you are only fifteen, with a bright future. It is no surprise that many people wish for their daughters to marry you." Pei Qian Shi continued, "You are my son, of course I want you to find someone compatible, and someone who can look after you."
"Mother, a wife cannot be measured in terms of grains or anything else. When I was a scholar, you thought that Ye Su'er was suitable. Now that I am an Elementary Scholar, you think that the second daughter of the Li family and daughter of High Scholar Liu are suitable. When I become a High Scholar, who will be suitable for me?" Pei Zi Yun asked, clearly aware that several families have started eying him for marriage.
"Mother, I know that you wish for nothing but the best for me. But as for choosing a wife, mutual feelings are most important."
Seeing that Pei Qian Shi had no further retort, he rose up and said, "Mother, I shall leave now and fetch her."
As Pei Zi Yun walked through the village, he noticed that the looks he was getting from the villagers were different from the past. Without letting anyone from the village die, he had managed to wipe out the entire Black Wind sect. The man who was guarding the entrance was Zhang Tu. He looked up and said, "Young master Pei is really a descendent of immortals. After attaining Elementary Scholar status he was able to plan with the chief patrol officer and wipe out the entire Black Wind sect.
Zhang Dashan opened his sleepy eyes and focused on the approaching Pei Zi Yun. With a grateful tone he spoke aloud: "It is our good fortune that someone like him belongs to our village."
He suddenly thought of Ye Su'er and felt that they had done injustice to him. "Could the village's treatment of Ye Su'er be the reason she is currently missing now. Although the villagers are maintaining a harmonious relationship with Pei Zi Yun on the outside, I think he is scornful on the inside."
"Haha, Zhang Dashan you really think far ahead. Now that I have come to relieve you, go home and rest. You are tired from an entire night of standing guard, stop thinking of such matters. Go home and hug your wife and warm pillows."
It was April and summer had descended upon them nearly in full force. It had drizzled slightly last night but the bright afternoon sun was blazing across, beating down on the trees and grass below. The path in the middle of the forested area was beautiful and was almost as if it was taken from a painting.
Pei Zi Yun stared into the peach blossom forest and saw a river further ahead, snaking across a huge part of the forest. As several blossoms occasionally dropped down onto the lush pastures, fishes jumped out of the water and made "splish" sounds as they fell back in.
Pei Zi Yun reached the entrance and found that all was still. It seemed that this monastery doesn't usually get visits from people to light incense, and only practiced meditation in quietness. With this thought in mind, Pei Zi Yun hesitated to break the silence as he stood in front of the door. When he finally made up his mind to knock, the person who received him was not the little Daoist Nun but the middle aged monastery chief.
Pei Zi Yun greeted her with a smile, "It seems like it is the monastery chief. It has already been half a month and I have managed to dispel all danger. I am here to fetch Ye Su'er."
Although the monastery chief knew it was Pei Zi Yun, she did not fully open the door even after hearing him speak. She replied coldly, "You have come to fetch her up, but she is no longer here."
"What?" Pei Zi Yun turned pale as his eyes emitted a cold stare. "Chief, do you mean that something untoward had happened to Ye Su'er?"
The monastery chief looked upset herself and said, "Ye Su'er's relative had found her and taken her away."
"Relative? Taken her away." Hearing these words, Pei Zi Yun hesitated and was full of suspicion. "Impossible, it is impossible that Ye Su'er would leave without informing me first. Unless you have forced her to, or has something happened and you are hiding it from me?"
The monastery chief looked angry and replied, "You think I am lying to you. After renaming my Peach Blossom Origins, my fellow older sister came by to take a look and saw Ye Su'er. She realized that they were related and took her away. Since you have attained Elementary Scholar status and have wealth and riches coming your way, do not look for her.
Footsteps could suddenly be heard. Raising his head to take a look, he realized that it was the little Dao Nun. She was holding a letter with neat handwriting, that looked very familiar to him. Passing the letter to him, she said, "This is the letter sister Su'er left for you. Do not make things difficult for my teacher. My teacher speaks frankly and truly, sister Su'er left of her own accord, do not blame my teacher."
Looking at the letter it said, "Brother Pei, aunt has found me and told me some things. I have to leave for three years after which I will come back and find you, Su'er."
The monastery chief had a cold attitude and knew that Pei Zi Yun had been rejected entry into Free Cloud sect. Pei Zi Yun understood what had happened and turned around to leave. Locating Ye Su'er would not be difficult. But in order to blend in while looking for her, he had to become a Daoist cultivator. At this point the top priority was to complete the mission and repay the original owner's mother and clan.
Just as he was heading back, he saw an oxcart approaching. A maiden stepped off with two maids behind her, fanning her. They looked anything but ordinary.
"You are Pei Zi Yun?" asked the maiden. It was almost dark as the sun was gradually setting. With the evening sky painted orange with the setting sun, a poem came to her mind.
"She has an ideal figure, but is humbly clothed. Her relatives are all men and women of authority and renown. Her hands are tender like a young sprout; her skin pale like the frost of winter; her teeth white and seamless; her brows long and thin; her smile is cheery and bright. She is of unparalleled beauty."
Pei Zi Yun thought to himself silently and clasped his hands in greeting, "It is truly the work of a literary student."
The maiden said plainly, "You are looking for Su'er?"
"That is so. Where is Ye Su'er's current whereabouts?" Pei Zi Yun frowned and asked, while some sort of a clue appeared deep in his heart.
"I am Su'er's aunt. Thank you for looking after her all these years. But she cannot follow you now." The maiden spoke gently.
"You are not an evil person, but why is this so?" Pei Zi Yun replied with respect.
"Although your ancestral ties are weak, you are gifted with literary talents. You have already attained Elementary Scholar status and have dreams of becoming a High Scholar. It is just that Ye Su'er is not an ordinary person. Her innate character is special. Please do not hinder her Dao Cultivation."
Her words were plainly spoken as Pei Zi Yun raised a brow. He was not offended and replied, "Although I look plain and not the least elegant, I am not as ordinary as you might think."
The maiden then said, "I've heard that Free Cloud sect has given you their Dao Manual. All you have to do is cultivate till the tenth level and you will be able to enter the sect. Maybe you will be fated to see her again."
Pei Zi Yun's heart sank as he held his hands together. A sort of unspeakable strange feeling welled up deep within his heart. It was was a mixture of regret and happiness and bewilderment.
In his previous life, Ye Su'er didn't manage to find her mentor and thus wandered around lost and destitute.
These feelings from the original owner remained within his heart and Pei Zi Yun thought for some time. Recalling her words, he asked, "How did you manage to find her?"
"That is all thanks to you."
"After renaming the monastery, I was very fond of the new name. Hence I came to see if you have any capabilities of entering a Dao Sect but am disappointed. Your Dao potential is shallow at best. However, upon reaching here I chanced upon Ye Su'er. She is the missing daughter of the Ye family. Maybe it is the will of the heavens that caused you to name this place as such, and prompted me to come down, and thus I've found her."
The maiden was honest and whatever she had said was aligned with what the monastery chief had said. She then asked politely, "Is there anything else?"
The maiden was polite and respectful. However Pei Zi Yun had a feeling that she was closer to Zhao Ning than he ever was. He pursed his lips and said, "I do not believe that Ye Su'er simply left just like that and forsook our relationship. How did you manage to convince her?
"You are very sharp. This is interesting."
The maiden smiled and replied, "I convinced her by saying that your mother had met many people hoping to matchmake you and their daughters. And she was just a mere orphan. If she did not have substance, how could she ever hope to marry brother Pei?"
"Aren't you afraid that she would find me after her cultivation?"
"Not the least. If you are unable to enter the sect, her feelings for you will gradually dissipate. She will eventually be unmoved by you and be indifferent towards you. That is the way a Daoist will feel for an ordinary person since they are worlds apart."
As she finished ,the maiden stepped on the oxcart and nodded her head. The oxcart turned to leave and she bade farewell.
Pei Zi Yun stood there for some time before he too turned around to leave. Sweat was running down his back, staining his clothes. Although the maiden was very courteous, there was something about her demeanour that terrified him. In order to stop himself from shaking with fear, he had to clench his fist tightly, fingernails sinking deep into the flesh of his palms.
There was no violence or anything related, in fact it was the opposite and yet he still felt this way.
Pei Zi Yun headed towards the village with his brows furrowed. The sky had suddenly become overcast with clouds as the cold wind blew ferociously. The entire sky was grey and was threatening to rain. After sometime, Pei Zi Yun sighed as if he had finally gotten an idea.
The first step is to increase the overall authority of the plum blossom before successfully acquiring the contents of the host. For this to happen, I need to fulfil the mission of appeasing my mother and family."
Passing the county examinations makes someone a scholar. A scholar does not have Elementary Scholar status and is usually referred to as a "white Elementary Scholar" or pre Elementary Scholar.
With the Elementary Scholar status, I am not compelled to obey orders from a county. If I wanted to, I am able to further my education in other countries. However, the Elementary Scholar status limits my authority to myself. I am unable to use his authority for the benefit of my clan.
However it is different when I become a High Scholar. Although the emperor has placed some restrictions on the amount of taxes I am able to evade, being a High Scholar would allow me to become a powerful official in the county.
Using the attitudes of the villagers as a measure, being an Elementary Scholar would clearly earn the respect of everyone around. However, if an Elementary Scholar does not attain High Scholar status after some time, he loses the respect. Becoming a High Scholar earns a lifetime of reverence from everyone else.
Although everyone is eligible to purchase any amount land, there is a sort of unspoken rule. If an Elementary Scholar were to own hundred mu of land it would be normal, but he would not be allowed to have three thousand mu of land as that would mean something fishy is happening."
A High Scholar would have a minimum of three hundred mu of land. Even if he has a thousand more mu on each side, it would be perfectly normal. That is the inherent difference between the High Scholar and an Elementary Scholar."
The ancient people from my clan had always valued 3 things. A shrine to remember their ancestors, education and common land for farming. Pei Zi Yun thought to himself: I am an Elementary Scholar and can now erect a shrine for my ancestors. I should call a meeting with my clan and start building the shrine. All it takes is for me to pay some silvers for it to be done.
As for education, the next tier of examinations will be held in the middle of autumn. There was still some time for me to prepare. Although the old Elementary Scholar's standard is that of a High Scholar, there are still some flaws. In order for me to attain High Scholar status I would need to improve on those flaws. I've already set my plan into motion and the stall keeper Chen Yuan shall assist me.
As for the land, my mother has two thousand silver taels with her. Since the establishment of the dynasty, peace has been gradually restored but the population size is still small with a vast amount of lands. The price of land is now very cheap and would cost about 7 or 8 silver taels per mu of land.
Mother can start purchasing land now, with 350 mu of land as the end goal. 300 mu for my house and 50 mu for the rest of my clan.
The entire Pei clan will be settled for the next 100 years. This way, I can fulfil my obligations to the clan.
In doing so, the system's mission of fulfilling my family's mission will be accomplished.