Chapter 33: Decay
Translator: Translation Nation/chuchutrain Editor: - -
The scenery along the way changed as Pei Zi Yun continued tailing Tang Zhen. From mountainous villages to forested area. The oxcart started slowing down as a river could be seen from afar. Pei Zi Yun ducked and hid himself from view. There was a brothel next to the river which was surrounded by dense weeping willows. Several flight of steps led to the river. Fishermen were rowing their boats and women were washing their clothings along the steps of the river.
This river was called the Black River and was a river connecting to ten other counties and many different cities. Many merchant boats were drifting along, adding a lively feeling to the river.
Aside from the merchant boats trading their wares, there were several luxury boats. These luxury boats had double decks and on each deck were more than ten spacious rooms. It was a vessel of choice for leisure.
The oxcart had stopped and Tang Zhen had disembarked before walking towards a luxury boat and boarding it. The shadows of several women on the deck reflected onto the water, apparently applying makeup onto their faces, beautifying themselves.
Since it wasn't completely dark yet, Pei Zi Yun didn't approach but stood at his current position and watched from afar, 'There must be a restaurant around here that sells wine'. Since there was still a light drizzle, he decided to enter a wine shop owned by the house of Ji.
He entered the shop and noticed that it was a small shop with only six tables. Candles have been lit since the daylight was fading. There were about seven or eight patrons. Some were having their meals and others were chatting over wine.
As soon as the waiter saw Pei Zi Yun, he waved a towel and invited him to come inside, "Please come in young master. Although the shop isn't big, we serve very delicious dishes. Come and have a bite."
He then pointed to a newly made signboard.
Pei Zi Yun glanced at it before nodding his head. He chose a table by the corner of the shop and said, "Bring a jug of wine. Since this place was established close to the river, You must definitely have fresh carps. Bring me a plate of steamed red carp, a plate of poached chicken, some peanuts and fry some vegetables for me!"
The waiter took his order, "Will do young master, please wait while I serve the dishes."
Due to the fact that there weren't many guests, the dishes arrived rather quickly. The poached chicken and the peanuts arrived within a minute or two and the steamed carp and the fried vegetables arrived shortly after. The wine was common yellow rice wine, although it was average at best.
Pei Zi Yun sighed after drinking a cup of wine. The rain had already stopped but the wind was still howling and it was rather chilly. Now that he's had some wine and food, he started feeling warm.
He peered outside and noticed that despite the rain that had been going on just now, there were still people wearing raincoats boarding the luxury boats.
Pei Zi Yun was having his meal and thinking, 'When it comes to women like these, they are divided into four ranks. First tier women were the playthings of a sect member, but they weren't part of the sect.' Pei Zi Yun contemplated, 'Could it be that these women were wives and concubines of some Holy Jail Sect's members, and they came out to play tonight?'
'The second tier women were high class courtesans, they called it "selling an art" instead of selling their bodies. They used this approach to attract customers. As for the third tier and fourth tier, they were the normal prostitutes.'
'Since they were aboard a luxury boat, they must belong to the second tier.'
He finished his meal just as the sky turned dark. As he walked along the river after leaving the shop, it started drizzling again. There were several luxury boats drifting along the banks of the river. As the officials manning the area seemed at ease.
Some people were lighting lanterns aboard the boats as candlelights flickered in some of the rooms within. The river, covered by reflections of the flickering lights, had the appearance of a starry sky. Moans and grunts of pleasure were emitted from the boats.
These boats, swaying back and forth along the river, weren't used for transportation, but rather for leisure. Seeing that the sky was completely dark, Pei Zi Yun hid under the cover of darkness and approached the riverbank. Confirming that nobody was watching him, he jumped onto a boat, using it as a foothold, and leapt to a luxury boat he had been eyeing.
Pei Zi Yun noticed a signboard, hanging from the semicircular boat deck, with the word "Color". He inferred that Color was the name of this particular boat.
Standing on the deck, he could see small ripples spreading across the surface of the peaceful river. The light produced by the lantern was faint and it swayed gently in the wind. He could hear someone singing in the background, as if a performance of some sort was taking place. The voice of the singer was rather high pitched and she had lovely black hair.
Someone shouted in the distance, "Sister Lan, hurry up and bring out the dishes."
"Right away!" responded a middle-aged woman.
Pei Zi Yun hid himself, he noticed several officials standing on one of the decks. The smell of good wine drifted to his nose. A quick look made him realize that he recognized a few of these officials, one of which was the Chief Patrol Officer who seemed to be in the limelight.
The officials looked as if they were entertaining someone important. Someone then said to the Chief Patrol Officer, "You got really lucky. It's been rumored that you earned a lot by wiping out the Black Wind Sect and you even got yourself a possible promotion. When you eventually become a Lieutenant of the county, don't forget us."
A courtesan raised a toast to the Chief Patrol Officer, he took a sip and smiled, "Naturally I will, but let's not discuss work here. To be here with the rest of you, along Black River, on this boat, is my great pleasure."
The few people surrounding him burst into laughter, "You took advantage of the Black Wind situation, but you still try to appear magnanimous. What's with being here with us on board this boat along the Black River, we are all here to indulge and soak in the good mood."
The person speaking then pulled a girl into his arms and said, "Little one, what discomfort are you experiencing, I shall ease it for you."
The girl in his arms giggled and replied, "Your excellency, the only discomfort I have in is underneath my skirt. Please relieve it for me your excellency."
They all burst into laughter.
'Never would I have expected someone who appeared as upright as the Chief Patrol Officer to have his morals compromised so easily.' Pei Zi Yun didn't expect to see the Patrol Officer here among them and sank in thought before finally reaching an understanding.
After achieving success with the matter at Black Wind Sect and acquiring a large amount of money he had split the money with his superiors. Because of this, he was able to be promoted and become a County Lieutenant.
Before this, it was known that the Patrol Officer wouldn't be able to ascend another rank. However, now that he had exceeded the ninth rank, people know that it was through corruption and that he wasn't an honourable official. However, his new rank was of a much higher status than before. He was a direct agent of the imperial court.
The Lieutenant came under the direct order of the Magistrate and shared authority with the Deputy Magistrate. They both assisted the Magistrate in maintaining law and order. The Registrar Officer was in charge of politics and handles documents.
The County Lieutenant hold judicial authority to pass judgement and send guilty convicts to jail. A Lieutenant was the superior of the Chief Patrol Officer. He would clearly have much more power after the promotion and stood to gain.
'However, this is none of my business. Even if he were to be beheaded and punished for corruption, that is his problem.' Pei Zi Yun continued walking along the boat and slowly walked to the next deck.
Taking a peek into the window, he could see a faint candle light flickering. A man was inside, and upon closer inspection, it was Tang Zhen.
Tang Zhen was holding two women, both his hands were extremely busy, weaving in and out of the two women's clothing. He was teasing the women by scolding them, and there were periodic moans by the women. He was still drinking however, and was mumbling some unintelligible drunken words.
Pei Zi Yun listened attentively and gradually understood. It seems like these two women had lofty statuses. One of which was the mistress of the Qian family, and the other was a young lady, also part of the Qian family. The Qian family was an important and influential family in the county, with upstanding and proper women. Pei Zi Yun couldn't comprehend why they would be fraternizing with this scum Tang Zhen.
The breeze brought along by the wind was somewhat chilling. One of the women said in a tantrum, "The wind is so loud and cold, it makes me afraid. Can mister Tang shut the windows?"
Tang Zhen's hand moved before looking at the woman and laughing, "You have been in Holy Jail Sect for so long, and you know some Dao Arts, why would you be afraid of a mere wind? I find it hard to believe."
The woman then gave a slight nudge, "Mister Tang, stop playing around. I wonder how the preparations for the mission you've been assigned by the young master coming along."
"What are you anxious about, I've personally invited him. In ten days time the literary event will take place and we can make our move then." Tang Zhen was caught up in intense lust and didn't want to back down now.
The young woman then said, "Sister in law, with regards to this matter you weren't informed. Mister Tang and I have been strategizing and we managed to convince him to attend the event."
"There will be some special incense placed on the boat on which the event will take place. This incense will emit a fragrance that is harmless by itself. In fact, it promotes concentration when smelt. Nobody will think that it's suspicious."
"But when a drug is placed into his drink, it will creates a special reaction with the incense. Even members of Holy Jail Sect wouldn't be able to resist its effects. Then we will find an excuse to be near him. He won't be able to resist us and will humiliate and abuse myself in front of everyone thus ruining his reputation."
"The Mentor is a very conservative person, he won't be able to tolerate such a sight, especially in front of everyone. It is certain that he will cancel out his status as an Elementary Scholar, and he won't rest until it has been done.
"At that point, our mission will be a success."
Hearing these words, Tang Zhen didn't say anything, and his expression was one of grief. The woman who had been speaking pushed on Tang Zhen's chest and said, "What are you unhappy about? You and I have been arranged for marriage, and I even brought my sister in law here to have fun with you. We are both cultivators of Holy Jail Sect and don't care about norms."
"And in front of the crowd, he wouldn't actually succeed in taking advantage of me. However even if he does, it's not a big deal. Don't forget, we are only pretending to be married so we are able to enjoy each other. We are only able to act this way because we are both from the same sect, if not, do you think you would be able to enjoy such privileges?"
Pei Zi Yun let out a silent laugh as he heard what was being exchanged. It seems like this was Tang Zhen's plan. So this was the revenge plan for killing off the Black Wind Sect.
With a plan forming in his mind, he decided to take his leave when he heard more voices, "And not just Pei Zi Yun, even this Patrol Officer is someone that young master wishes to exact his revenge on."
"To deal with him is going to be too easy. All we need is some people to do us some small favours and he will be dragged down. It is because he is an official and has a fearsome reputation to maintain. Just a snap of my fingers and he will be implicated."
"We will expose his vices of alcohol and womanizing, and trap him into doing something immoral and illegal. These are a lot of ways he can be dragged down under. As for the person who's going to implicate him, he will provide all the evidences and cause him to face the capital punishment. Once his head rolls, we will raid his house, and take his wife for ourselves. Then all will see the might and methods of the Holy Jail Sect."
"The person who is going to report him will be able to gain a good reputation for himself. Because we, of the Holy Jail Sect, are exposed to the imperial Qi. We won't able to rise higher than the seventh rank. Now that this person can be established as an official, we can have another person wielding power official."
Hearing these words, Pei Zi Yun sneaked a peek at Tang Zhen and realized that his facial expression had taken a huge change. These words about the Chief Patrol Officer was in fact a warning to Tang Zhen. Talking like this was able to kill two birds with one stone. Pei Zi Yun however, had no compassion for Tang Zhen whatsoever.
"To think that you were such an upright person back then, with the demeanor of a gentleman. Now you have regressed to this extent. It's a pity you've ended up this way, and no one can be blamed except yourself."
"And regardless of how pitiful you are, you've designed a trap to implicate me. Not only will I not save you, I shall return in kind."
"And you've even decided to implicate the Chief Patrol Officer. have no further use for him, so I shall not do anything."
At this point, he realized that the boat had drifted away from the bank. Without hesitation, he stepped on the hull of the boat and jumped. A soft splash could be heard, but nobody noticed. Some ripples could be seen along the surface of the water.
Although someone had jumped from the boat, it was dark and late into the night. Naturally he wasn't afraid of being spotted. He then started making his way back home, "Thankfully it's almost May, it doesn't matter that I'm only wearing a thin shirt since the weather isn't very cold. Since I now know their plans, I can retaliate and act accordingly."
"Looks like I have to return to the county at once."