Chapter 34: Chen Yuan
Translator: Translation Nation/chuchutrain Editor: - -
Pei Zi Yun emerged from the river, completely soaked. The wind blew against him and caused him to shiver in his clothes. He turned back and saw the numerous luxury boats on the river with many lanterns hanging on their decks, while the faint music could still be heard.
Pei Zi Yun touched the blade of his sword to feel safe, water dripped from his pants onto the ground, his clothes were sticking to his body making it harder for him to breathe. He turned and moved away from the river bank.
There was a temple nearby, it had a shrine inside a small hall. The thick smoke from the incense shrouded the shrine, making it hard to tell which deity the shrine belonged to.
The spirits of deities roamed this world, but they've never revealed themselves, thus there was no proof of their existence. People were still careful in this regard. Pei Zi Yun walked into the temple and saw some incense and joss sticks. He picked up the incense and lit it before placing it into the burner. He bowed his head, took a step back and clasped his hands into a salute as a show of respect.
Seeing that some wood was left in the fireplace, he smiled, "This must've been placed by the person guarding the temple."
A chaotic world would bring about difficulties for the deities as well. Most of the temples around have been abandoned and were dilapidated. However, now that the new dynasty has emerged, order and peace was gradually being restored and so were these temples.
Shortly after, Pei Zi Yun started a fire to warm himself up. The heat from the fireplace was comfortable and reassuring. Since there was nobody in the temple, Pei Zi Yun undressed himself down to his briefs and hung his clothes over the fire to dry. Since the cold wind was still blowing, he stayed close to the fire for warmth. The warmth of the embers crept over his skin, as it glistened under the flames of the fire. He waved his hands over the fireplace, as he was lost in thought, a worried look on his face.
After annihilating the Black Wind stronghold, he carefully looked through the diary and the original owner's memories, thus he had a much clearer understanding of Zhang Jie Yu, and of the Daoist cultivators in general.
'Zhang Jie Yu must be a core disciple being groomed by the Holy Jail Sect.'
'In the previous life he had heard of Zhang Jie Yu, in his later years, in Free Cloud Sect. There was a mission sent from above to cooperate with the government officials to kill him.'
'But he was crafty and sly, and managed to escape, thus we failed the mission. Zhang Jie Yu made a name for himself and accomplished many things. He was quite a formidable character.'
'Due to his repeated success in the sect, he managed to rise up in ranks and received orders directly from the top. Eventually he managed to reach the cultivation of an Earth Immortal and was beyond the grasp of the original owner. However in his eleventh year, he was murdered in unknown circumstances.'
Pei Zi Yun's water soaked clothes had began to dry under the fire. He took several branches of firewood and stuffed it into the fire, causing the fire to glow even brighter and get even hotter.
Holy Jail Sect didn't get into much entanglement with the original owner. In this life however, it was different. After he became an Elementary Scholar, and got into trouble, he was rescued by someone. Following that he surrounded and killed off the Black Wind Sect and thus met the disapproval of Zhang Jie Yu.
He had initially thought that all this was none of Zhang Jie Yu business, and that he shouldn't need to intervene. However, it seemed like he had to do something to solve the issue now.
It's just that the Holy Jail Sect has been around for more than two hundred years. When the previous dynasty had first been established, they have established their foundation in the county and hold significant influence. He understood this point from the conversation he had picked up earlier on the luxury boats. Even a low ranking official with sufficient authority, who would go under the control of the sect, would have immense power.
This authority, when being put into context, can be tremendously difficult to deal with.
Pei Zi Yun held onto his sword and stood up by the fireplace. Feeling somewhat bored, he thought to himself, 'Regardless of what happens, I have to find a solution to the issue of the literary event.'
'I've managed to overhear the plans laid out against me, and it can be said that this plan would be executed with the assumption that I would be completely unaware. When the time comes, all I have to do is be alert and avoid drinking the drugged wine in order to foil the plan. These people aren't crazy and won't drug all the cups, for that would cause a stir.'
'To avoid it once would be easy. However to avoid it a second time would be difficult. The whole point of this plan was to ruin my image in the eyes of the Mentor. Since we aren't close, as long as there's a rumor against me, my reputation will be tainted. Three men talking makes a tiger(TN: idiom for repeated rumors make a fact). Even if I can absolve myself once, it would be hard to have to keep clearing my name.'
'The Mentor has a reputation of being upright and uncorrupted. In the previous life, the original owner had experienced this. It is clear that this man isn't a pawn of the Holy Jail Sect. He is known for his love for literature, and his admiration for literary geniuses. I have to seize this opportunity to impress him, then it would be hard for anyone else to spoil my reputation, for his impression of me would be cemented.'
'Obviously the best way would be for me to become a High Scholar.'
'Noble people are above the law. Although to be a High Scholar is different from being nobility, Daoism and Imperial Qi are spoken with the same breath. Then there is no harm in being a High Scholar.'
'Be it to win the approval of the Mentor, or to become a High Scholar, both share the same benefits - to improve my literary talents.'
'For that, I need to obtain a new Legacy of Wisdom.' With this thought, Pei Zi Yun thought of the storekeeper Chen Yuan, 'Some days have gone by without a word from him. I shall check on him today and see if he has already made a purchase.'
Chen Yuan might be a mere storekeeper, but he possessed good qualities and virtues. What's more, he enjoys reading as well. Although he might be of low birth, in ten years time he would strike it rich. The original owner had the chance of meeting him after he had become prosperous, and he would be much fatter compared to how he was now. The society today was such that a family of scholars wouldn't remain as so after a long time, due to the poverty faced. A rich family like Chen Yuan's, in the future, would have at least a few thousand silver taels. Rising to prosperity like that was almost impossible for a normal person like himself. Pei Zi Yun wished he could borrow some of that good fortune and fate.
Thinking this way, he hatched a plan in his mind. Seeing that his clothes were already dry and that it was no longer raining outside, he decided to not return home yet. Under the starlight, he recognized a road which led to the exit of the county, he headed in that direction.
There was barely a soul on the streets since it was late into the night. Pei Zi Yun walked down the big road, with the cold breeze brushing against his skin, blowing through his hair. In the blink of an eye he had disappeared into the darkness.
Border of the county town - House An Hotel
It was drizzling yesterday, but no longer today. The sun was out in its splendor. Although Pei Zi Yun was in the county town, he couldn't hear the hustle and bustle of the crowd. A warm wind wafted, gently, causing the flowers and plants to sway. He could hear the faint sound of the chanting and drums from afar, and was intoxicated by the smell of fresh grass.
It was year five hundred in that dream, but he didn't know which year it currently was.
Hearing footsteps approaching, someone said in a low voice, "Master, storekeeper Chen Yuan seeks an audience."
"Enter!" Pei Zi Yun shouted as he sipped his tea. He had actually reached the county town yesterday, but chose not to seek out Chen Yuan. Instead, he looked for a hotel nearby to reside in.
In the morning, he requested for the serving staff to seek out Chen Yuan, as this was only befitting of someone of his status. Thinking of this, it was clear that Pei Zi Yun planned this thoroughly.
Chen Yuan smiled wryly as he entered, he was carrying a bag. Seeing Chen Yuan with self-confidence on his face, he smiled and asked, "You know who I really am now?"
Chen Yuan had been looking for old books everywhere within the city to sell for a profit. It was through this that he had gradually become rich. He had relied on his awareness and intellect to become successful. Ever since Pei Zi Yun had paid him in advance the last time they met, he had made some enquiries about this man. A few days ago, Pei Zi Yun had teamed up with the Patrol Officer to annihilate the Black Wind Sect, and made a name for himself. Chen Yuan naturally discovered thi. He said, "These past few days, a young master's name has been quickly spreading out in the entire county. According to the rumors, this young master has wiped out Black Wind Sect, and is none other than master Pei."
Hearing these words, Pei Zi yun laughed. That was why he had waited for him in the hotel and made Chen Yuan come to him. Merchants are crafty and very aware of their surroundings. Had Pei Zi Yun approached him in the middle of the night, he would have been able to sense the urgency of the matter. Not only would he have demanded a higher price, he also would have been curious and attempted to find out his motives.
The reason the original owner's talents had been revealed was because of his failure to hide his desperation, and thus people saw through him. Pei Zi Yun then said plainly, "It's good that you know who I am. As for the task I've assigned to you, Is there any progress?"
Chen Yuan then replied, "After I've received master's instructions, I've been on the lookout. I have some results to show for it today. I had initially planned to visit master's house tomorrow, but young master showed up here today. Please take a look."
'This man doesn't know my aims, but used all his resources to investigate for me.' Pei Zi Yun thought to himself as he opened the bag, where several old and tattered books laid.
Pei Zi Yun randomly picked out one volume and glanced at it. There was a signature on the top of the book - Xie Qian Jia?
"Xie Qian Jie was a High Scholar in the previous dynasty, but is now a regular citizen. Your servant (referring to himself) has bought this book for five hundred coins." Chen Yuan said hurriedly.
As he flipped a couple of pages, the scent of old books permeated the entire room. Some pages of the book had smudged and stuck to other pages. Actually, he didn't even have to look through the book to know that it wasn't a Legacy, and didn't contain any knowledge or powers. Pei Zi Yun put it down.
He picked up another book with the signature Lin Ding Xie. He flipped open the pages of the book and noted that the contents of the book was very good. Just one look could tell that the contents far surpassed the previous book. However it too, wasn't a Legacy and didn't contain anything special.
Only when Pei Zi Yun took out the fourth book did he feel something course through his veins. After flipping through, he was somewhat disappointed, 'Although this book is a Legacy, based on the contents, it was written by an average High Scholar, and thus is worthless to me.'
Based on the original owner's instructions, he understood that when it comes to Legacies it's not about the quantity of it but rather the impact and quality of it. The fact that he had displayed the Old Elementary Scholar's skill and talents during the previous examination was a clear proof of this fact.
Pei Zi Yun swept across in one glance and was disappointed, "Only these few?"
"Master, books written by actual High Scholars are very limited and hard to find." Chen Yuan said in an extremely respectful and deferential tone.
Pei Zi Yun maintained a stoic expression and berated, "What rubbish. Ever since the country has developed, it's true that the number of scholars are few, and the prefecture only selects twenty Elementary Scholars and High Scholars."
"But ever since the establishment of the new dynasty peace has been restored and the number of scholars has increased tremendously. Every year yields more Elementary Scholars and more scholars. With the size of the county expanding exponentially, the number of students have increased as well. And you have the cheek to tell me that you are unable to find some?"
When it comes to the topic of studying, Chen Yuan only knew but a few words. However he knew and understood the history that Pei Zi Yun was talking about and was extremely respectful of that. He said apologetically, "Master, this was after searching in five or six houses, and all within the county. There are still a few other houses outside the county that I haven't had time to check. If it's convenient for master, we can go together and search them, see if they have what you are looking for."
"As a manservant you are quite capable. I shall follow you this afternoon. But dress in an outfit that is more presentable. If we visit the houses with you looking like this, they will feel insulted by your lack of culture and might not sell their prized books to us." Pei Zi Yun took out a piece of silver and handed it over to him, "This is for the books, and to change your clothes. The fortune teller said that if I managed to locate more books written by past High Scholars, I would be able to borrow their luck and succeed in the examinations and become a High Scholar myself. Don't ruin my luck here!"
To go around looking for old memoirs would seem suspicious and he might get curious and start guessing, hence Pei Zi Yun threw out a made-up reason. Upon hearing this, Chen Yuan accept the justification without much thought. He accepted the silver, and upon touching it could tell that it was real. He said excitedly, "Don't worry master, I have relied on my reputation to survive and I am capable in this regard. After master has taken his meal, I will wait for you and we shall boost your luck. I won't spoil your matters."
As he said this, he hurriedly excused himself thinking to himself, 'Master's words do make sense. It looks like I should also store some books for myself at home so that the luck can rub off my children and they can do well for their future examinations.'